Posts Tagged ‘teaching’

Russian gangsters and Japanese philosophers, side order of trauma

Life has been a curious mixture lately with a bit of horrible intense drama and a bit of slack and routine, cramps and whining and sleeping late; yet as usual, though I think I’ve been doing nothing, when I look back and count up, everything seems so full, so good, so luminous. I feel like I’m riding a giant wave, exhilarating, heady with power. I have worked long days with the good feeling of knowing what I’m doing, being useful. I’ve had some bad days physically, and emotionally, but also, kept my shit together, and have a brain full of ideas and books. What I love, I love to be thinking and getting new information, playing, talking, looking at things with my awareness open. This week despite emotional lows I am full of poetry… I am Having an Interesting Life I suppose…

I’m reading a fantastic book that the SkaRat recommended to me, called I Am A Cat, published in 1905. It’s so good! It’s hilarious & sad. The introduction laid out charmingly how the author- Soseke Natsume – was something of a failure in his career & as a scholar – his teaching career sort of crappy – his pittance of a scholarship to go to London – which he mostly failed at because he hid in his room for 2 years doing nothing but reading a ton of books. OMG… my kind of person. It is all the cat’s pomposity and charm as he observes Human Nature… the scribblings of his human & the funny (catty!) conversations of the slack-ass scholar’s obnoxious, pretentious, half-assed friends. I keep thinking that surely the different characters sketched out must be making fun of particular figures from some intellectual scene in Japan at the time. I love the translation… it flows beautifully and succeeds in being funny (or at times in conveying that something complicated has just happened that would be funnier in Japanese, which as a translator, I appreciate).

I am also still reading the Crypt0 book but it is lost in the house somewhere. It is very good. Though… has that annoying golly-gee drooling P0 Br0nson flavor to it where you just want to go, Jesus, get a room already with your dreamy-eyed hacker boys. At least it does make it clear – the homosocial nature of geek culture. It was odd to read of what’s his face staying in McC’s house where I worked too. I could picture it (not the specific physical setting – I mean that I know the atmosphere well.) It explained some things to me about the feeling of working there and what was expected – expectations that one would have a sort of salon of underemployed geniuses who do your domestic labor and settle in a bit like extended family – not that I don’t appreciate some of the judgements and sentiments of that – but a fate I would particularly like to avoid from either side of the equation, underemployed genius side, or benevolent salon-aspiring employer whose homoerotic bonding time period had sadly passed with N. and M. in the late 50s and early 60s. Honestly the more I contemplate that looming fate for myself the more I want to do it co-op style or not at all. Anyway, read Crypt0 book and besides the actual ideas, thought of the cultural phenomenon where you do what RS4 did and ride your collective exhilarating wave of thought & collaboration, but it is not permanent, like having a brilliant rock band, and you may never get that synergy again in life, which seems awfully melancholy. One would just refuse to believe it.

My other book has been Godfather of the Kremlin which ummm what’s his name in Brussels recommended during a moment when I felt like there was no possible conversational topic since I was not really part of their work meeting, did not share their wonky knowledge of their topic, and did not want to talk about myself, so I asked this obviously interesting person what unusually good books he woudl recommend. It was this one. I’m enjoying it greatly… it’s super business-politics wonky and explains Russia in the 90s and specifically how Berezovsky and other capitalist gangsters looted the country during privatization… the whole thing with the vouchers is so horribly fucked up.. and I was deadly fascinated with the aeroflot story – the textbook case of how to loot a company you don’t own.

The emotional stuff has been difficult, I have felt intense about my physical issues and had a lot more pain this week, and also, had some fights with Rook over things, which brought up more issues for me than I know how to rightly deal with myself. It kind of brought up old family issues for me. I have particular difficulties when people are angry with me. Oh, can’t I be a grownup and not think back on things that happened over 20 years ago — haunted by ghosts? I understand ghosts now. I am happy with myself- and yet – not. Also, trying to face the ways in which I am, actually, an asshole. That’s hard! Rook is also very stressed in his job and this is his last week. He quit! I’m so glad he did, and think it is the right decision. I find it fairly easy to talk about most of my emotional problems or issues or dilemmas but he does not and I did not realize what he has been through. I also felt like, last year, with my health problems, I wanted him to have more support, he did not, I did not know how to provide it, I had my own issues and needed emotional support which he didn’t really know how to do either. I hope that is clear, yet vague… I was caught up in my loop of cranky pain, hating myself for not being able to be happy and full of attention and cheerful – hot and sweaty – upset with life – thining that i have not done enough – and that if I am in pain now, I might be in more tomorrow, or unable to even get up and therefore i should use the last of my strength to clear the laundry off the floor and make the room less disgusting – in case I am stuck in it for days – and thus trying to chivvy everyone else around me suddenly to clean and wanting to cry at being The Nag and also full of resentment at needing or wanting help and/or at years when it was my job to do the housework – And the reality of it is that we screamed at each other at the top of our lungs about housework… I am embarrassed… and that spilled over into arguing about everything – but I need to talk about it. I think we made it up and had a good conversation. And for some people that might be normal and part of life, but for me, not. Meanwhile I thought lately that things were calmer with a person who I mortally offended last year causing endless drama and pain, and yet who will not attempt to work that out with me in any way. I wish we could just sit down and talk. Or, if not, then I wish she would step off, keep her emotional pain to herself, and not lay it on me and people close to me. For various reasons, we are peripheral to each others’ lives. And we have to accept that and negotiate some way to tolerate that. That’s what I think. I can do it if they can. But, terribly, I feel that unholy feeling that something is being projected as being part of me, when it is actually that other person. In other words, that they have major boundary problems and the exact problems they have, they are attributing to me, and that, somehow, while not my Fault really, is partly because of my own strong personality, stubbornness, and what is either my assholishness or shininess depending; so that I am horribly aware that if I were somehow Lesser of a person, there would not be a problem; yet because this other person and I are both rather Rocketship in our approach to life, they bristle and cannot tolerate and I bristle and cannot back down.

I admire an uncompromising, unconventional person who has a strong personality, very much, often even when they position themselves in opposition to me or they clearly hate me or find me annoying as all fuck. A person who insults me, I can often look past the insult, and see the information. I also have Theories about how as a society we need people who don’t have great filters and who ignore social cues. I am one of them… But you know, some people are more extreme than me…. I appreciate what is good about them. Holy crap though, I don’t mean anything bad. If I’m offending, just tell me to my face… would the world end?

Other people have their own childhood-families and their own ghosts and histories… I am aware… So I will think about my responses to anger (paralysis, trapped, need to flee… flight reflex… ) and try to be easy on a person who has their own baggage, that I might trigger. But, it is not fair to the person triggering it, not to tell them or talk to them. I can’t erase myself, and won’t go away. The things thrown at me or accusations — and the tangible results of that — bring up my own irrational painful issues; abandonment in general. Therefore it seems logical to attempt negotiation, even if that is crazy moon language. Though I would just plain like the chance to explain myself, I would also willingly shut up and listen, not say anything, go away and think about it, and try not to go on the defensive etc. I see no need to hash it all out, but to establish reasonable boundaries, and what are the actual goals of talking at all. I do not expect some buddy buddy outcome here. I just want not to cause suffering to a person, and not to suffer their emotional outbursts and the effect direct or indirect they have on my life. I feel okay that I am saying this on my blog, and that I called the person to make the direct and sincere offer of “let’s talk”.

Meanwhile. Moomin has had “camp” which is really just day care, at his old school from a year ago, and though I thought he would find it boring, he seems to be having fun playing that he is squirrels with Jos3lyn and Mar1s0l and their entourage, and in the corners of time, reading Nancy Drew books. I had a call that he bumped his head, during a meeting at work, and ducked out to hear him sobbing with ice on his head, could tell he was okay but rattled, went to get him, admired the enormous bump on his head as he ran around and begged me to stay just long enough to have the ice cream sundaes… and enjoyed seeing the kids myself that I used to play board games with at recess… J0anna and the others…. I thought of M4rcus who was the most hawk like of them all and full of scorn and who could almost beat me at chinese checkers. (I would not insult him by letting him win – he was too smart not to see through that and be offended.) I miss getting to be a little bit involved at the school.

It has been 100 degrees or over – unbearable in the house – I got home today from SF, got the old library books, picked up Moomin (braving the horrible hill) and took him to the library. Worked a bit – looked up books with him – the Pilot met us there with Peanut who wants to play computer games – Moomin found a Nancy Drew and several books with magic & dragons in them – Maybe I can make it a custom to go there with him in the evening one night a week and just sit and read. We all went to the new Japanese restaurant on Main and Rook met us there. It’s not really very good… alas… I would not go there again … H1guma is still best in town. We had a nice dinner though. Moomin is eating more foods. He gets into the idea that it is korean food (will eat kim bap, fried tofu, the pickled gourd or radish thingies, and the other day with me and Rook at the korean restaurant in mtn. view he wanted to learn to read hangul characters. I am happy he has an interest but mostly just happy he will now eat more than 10 different things, 5 of them fruit.


This has been a very odd day. I’ve been in the ALS clinic from 8am to 2pm. Am very tired and emotionally wound up. I had a short EMG. The neuro there doesn’t think I have PLS or ALS at all but ended up diagnosing me with a generic gait disorder and instructions to do very good PT and pain management and drink quinine/tonic water for spasms. Treat symptoms and keep trying, till we figure out what it is. Maybe think of it as a spine thing which has left its aftermath but which (like in the 90s) I will get better from (but faster this time, with better care and physical therapy — which is what I was thinking this spring and summer.)

So today’s undiagnosis is like a reprieve from the firing squad — no degeneration or “progression”, but also no real answers. I’m hugely relieved, well, partly, because I have trouble figuring out whether to trust this or not no matter how much I’d like to, but I’m relieved to try to set aside fears of feeding tubes and dying on ventilators.

The actual process was rough. I talked with a super nice resident for what seemed like over an hour to do the entire history and go over my charts from Neurologist Capybara, with some exam thrown in. Then… time passes. Time passes. Time passes. Dr. Hestia came in and got me to undress and did neuro exam things and I pushed painfully as best I could in every direction… as always. During this she said I’d have to go get an EMG next and I freaked and started crying and from there it just got worse. Parts of the EMG were okay and parts of them were excruciating but at least it was quick. It ended up in the worst possible place with me crying and screaming please take the needle out. How embarrassing… I swear, I’m not usually like that and I’m very damn tough! But also by that time I was in pain and freezing cold. They wheeled me back to the other exam room and left me there crying… Damn… I freaked a bit because I couldn’t get my clothes on because my hand where they stuck the needle in was cramping. (It’s mostly better now but I can’t turn a doorknob or a faucet with it.) I couldn’t untie the gown thing in the back. I know half of it was just being scared. So as more time passed I realized I couldn’t quite get dressed and I had to pee but I couldn’t wheel myself to the bathroom and I didnt know when anyone was coming back. I panicked and started calling people. Zond-7 came in a taxi a while later. by that time I had pulled myself together, gotten dressed, and the doctor was there telling me stuff. I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to drive or not but then felt like I could. My hand uncramped and I stopped panicking.

Z. gave me a very useful intelligent talk afterwards as I cried in relief and general shock (saying that then what is it… and is it all my fault and they’re just telling me to work harder?). He said that a) he doesn’t think and they don’t think and I shouldn’t think I am making stuff up b) what is the worst case? that I am just kind of neurotic or crazy ; but that even if I am it’s not my fault and there should not be a stigma attached to that. I hope he’ll say all of that again because it kind of filtered through and calmed me down, but I can’t remember it all.

So what is going on then? I am wondering really hard. Was the first neurologist just prone to see a vague likelihood and then he convinced himself and me? I believed it… completely. And there was no question in my mind before today that I had PLS; I was afraid it would actually turn out to be ALS.

In October I thought I was getting better, and even started wondering if getting the ramps put in on my street would turn out to be not useful for me because surely I’d be out of the wheelchair by winter. The nerve conduction study messed me up a lot, and then I went right onto Lyrica which made me much worse & very weak and put me squarely back in the wheelchair and not knowing how to get out. Then, off Lyrica (at my insistence) and onto baclofen (at neurologist Capybara’s suggestion, but at a much lower dose than he wanted.) And maybe since then the baclofen has been also making problems worse and not better? Maybe … despite what I felt I was trying… maybe the diagnosis made me stop trying so hard and did send me into a bit of neurotic tailspin.

That’s all I can think of. I’m very relieved as I said to not be so afraid of the near future. It’s disconcerting to have my reality shift completely in just a few hours.

Back to looking at my neck and its arthritis-ish and disc things? Or what? I’ll just do whatever PT gets thrown at me in good faith, I guess. I don’t know what to think. The feeling of “it fits” about PLS must just be that human impulse to correlate and see patterns… like the way reading the description of any astrological sign feels like it might be you… But at least it’s not like I made it up or chose it; the neurologist was increasingly definite about it over many visits, so I believed it… and reading seemed to confirm everything but my years of improvement.

The PT referral asks for a home safety evaluation, range of motion passive exercises with teaching family members to do that stuff with me, stretches for family to help me with, and help with rehab/transfer techniques (which I will take gratefully having never had that kind of help and making it up and figuring it out myself.)

I’ll go back to Dr. Capybara and will set up physical therapy at Staffnord as soon as I can… On some level I’m afraid to trust this un-diagnosis. What if I un-believe it, and feel all the relief, and then have to find out later that it’s true after all? Also, on top of being extremely confused and disconcerted and an emotional dishrag…. I’m angry… at all this… and embarrassed.

What if the first neurologist just set me up with the closest possible mystery ailment, to keep me coming back every few weeks, a perfect cash cow? He did discourage me a couple of times from doing further tests at Staffnord saying that it woudl be redundant and they would just physically torture me more for data, for no point other than to confirm what we already knew, and pinpointing the diagnosis wouldn’t change what we tried for treatment anyway and I should continue with PT and messing with meds (and trying botox on the big muscle in my legs.) What if he’s unscrupulous and basically made this up and I bought into it? 8-( Not a nice thought.

Conversations late at night

The other night on being asked rather late in bed while about to pass out from sleeping pills, “What do you think will be the most amazing thing you’ll see in your lifetime?” I considered a bit, probably going cross-eyed with effort. “Don’t say anything soppy, like… ‘you’.” I would never! Only sometimes! But not to that question. I cast about for nanobots or cyborgian implants or space colonies, believing at least in orbital space station hotels which will be sooner than we think. But no. What it will be is just that things will pass us up. We won’t understand them anymore, or the way people are. It will be people and how they act, and how they are. They’ll be so “continuous partial attention” that we won’t get their art, or what it is that they’re doing that has meaning or how it’s productive. They’ll be like… Have you read Gormglaith?

(Long mad explanation of Gormglaith, each detail more improbable and giggly than the next. They… go around in tights… eating sandwiches… they pee just anywhere… all girls… and there’s sort of houses or shelters and you can just get root beer… and so they’re talking about sandwiches or knitting gauges or land-spirits while shampooing their hair or masturbating and it’s because nothing like that matters, just do whatever… no big deal. (Disbelief but growing, perhaps grudging fascination). The are always talking about spinning and textile sounding things but it turns out they are hacking the DNA, they’re nanobot-hacking land goddess teenagers in wooden clogs and longstockings. And they’re just all bopping around and they seem so free, like people younger than us seem, because we can’t read them, like my friends Kiriko Moth and Jambery who I just sort of run into around town, doing anything, and they seem like they could be those girls eating sandwiches sort of wholesomely, in stockings, while behind their eyes they’re modifying the DNA of praying mantises and juggling ecosystems. You would not quite understand it as a novel but danah boyd would.) That’s right! We won’t understand anything – we won’t understand their narratives – Like the Russian cosmonaut the journalists brought to the dance party at NASA as a set up for oh the noble adventure now dishonored, but the Russian was just like “Is good! Young people! Dancing! A party is good!” and he was refusing to go the road of bemoaning ignorance, no, people don’t have to use things the way that we used them. We won’t be all crusty like Lessing in her crusty speech about those bad Internet people, about it. We’ll try to understand and learn it all, new ways of being, and we’ll fail, but it’ll be so interesting. Exactly!

Oh, and tonight I went to the BlogHer holiday party and saw Deb Roby and Minnie and Squid and Jennyalice and Britt, Sarah Dopp, Karianna, Kaliya, Lisa, Elisa, Jory, Maria Niles, George Kelly, Jeremy Pepper, and a gajilion other people. Minnie had a pirate tiara perched on her blond and blue dreadfalls and a dress with cherries. Deb Roby’s spaghetti strap red velvet top with beads made me think of that Katie Webster song Red Negligee, “You know the ones with the little strings, that kinda, tremble when you walk” She was hot stuff! Jen as usual ended up in my lap. I showed off my new chair and its sparkly front wheels! The lemon drop might not have mixed in an entirely unreactive way with the baclofen, so I felt a bit giggly and euphoric and prone to show my red velvet hot pants…

George Kelly and Jeremy both told me interesting aspects of their personal lives that I hadn’t known before!

My sister was so cool and splendid and funny!

Squid showed some of the Can I Sit With You? books, which are so so so excellent. The stories are addictively good, often in that trainwreck way of gossip – but they’re about us, our real stories, told by us as gossip or as teaching stories to our kids so they know they’re not alone in their social angst in elementary and middle school. The books are great. I bought a bunch to give as presents. Good for middle school or younger kids if you don’t mind it being uncensored. What makes it fun for adults to read is that it functions as years-later healing and perspective.

I didn’t go drinking with my homies, it seemed unwise in general since I was hurting and should lie down, and was only going on the extra kick of baclofen + booze + social adrenalin, plus Zond-7 was feeling ill and really needed to lie down himself. So back instead here to get warm and talk about computery arty history writerly things and watch bits of youtube clips, curled up with plans and memories.

Bonding moments at work

My work peeps, let me show you them! They’re all here from out of town – or most of them were – and it was really really fun. There was mild debauchery – we all crammed into the same bed in an enormous cuddly heap – there was no room to blog, seriously – there was a lot of whiskey – but all reasonably virtuous if flirty – no pole dancing like our last meeting, but it was all just as bad – A bunch of us hot tubbed tonight – and it is easy to face the company meeting with them around. Also, I saw some kind of funny code but I won’t say any more about that because it’s too mean to blog it. But it was hilarious and awful.

There was a great moment where we were all on the bed and the other guys were on the floor installing bugzilla and cussing (all in about 5 different screens in the same screen session; I watched for a while but could not keep up, though it was fascinating to see the speed of their floundering. It was the same floundering I would do, but much much faster.) So during this moment the door was open and a white haired guy in a suit was going into the room across the hall, and Bill O. politely bowed, stepped back to hold open the door, and gestured while saying “You might as well just come in here.” The look on his face!

I think we teased Ingy too much in the hot tub and made him mad. We didn’t mean it! I seriously love it when he talks about yaml. It makes me get all flushed. We were just giggling in a girly bonding sort of way. We were not laughing at yaml! NEVER!

I went to the spine clinic today and it was mildly discouraging. I am to go see neurologists. If I get any “ocular symptoms” then alert my doctor immediately (that means, watch for MS… thanks doctors…). I came out feeling wrung out emotionally & again with the physical “does THIS hurt” “YES IT DOES OW OW FUCK OW OW OW” doctor visits from multiple doctors as it is a teaching hospital. It hurts more afterwards, and I had this lingering guilt and feeling it was all my fault and I should work harder, so I walked to lunch 2 blocks or so and back, which then hurt like fuck all the rest of the afternoon. But again, my awesome work homies propped me up and also Zond-7 was very comforting on the phone. And the hot tub fixed me up pretty well along with some wine. Rook massaged my painful haunch.

I’m going to get up early to take Moomin to choir practice! And maybe will sign him up for fencing lessons; he seemed to like the idea.

I saw an extremely nifty thing today, a wikipedia tool:

Which exposes activity on Wikipedia articles over time with the identities of the most active users on a particular page (including discussion pages) and then a different analysis on user pages to show activity patterns. AMAZING AND COOL.

And another more mildly nifty thing:

Which is a vocabulary quiz that claims to donate small amounts of money for every question you get right. For every 3-4 you answer correctly, you go up a level. If you miss one, you go down a level. At level 50, even if you answer them all correctly, after 3 or 4 you go back down to 49 and then go up again if you keep getting them right, which I know because I did it. It was gratifying to my vanity to know that I got higher on it than my friend tmtm at work. Also, it was nice to know I still have all that wordy knowledge rattling round in my head despite age and ossification. Unfortunately it is a skill that has never been of any value to me, and when I’m talking I mostly say vague things like “thingy” and “stuff”. Often with unusual words I can remember exactly where I learned them or encountered them, like Treasure Island or fairy tales or articles on intestinal parasites I read years ago.

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Return of the ulcer; productivity!

Apparently I have taken far too much Celebrex and my stomach/gastritis/ulcer problems are back. For the last 3 days I ‘ve been taking Prilosec and laying off the NSAIDs. I just ate lunch with some excitement thinking the pain was gone, but it hit me hard just now… so… I have to quickly shift onto some sort of very mild diet, and remember not to eat very small quantities even if I’m hungry…

Meanwhile, I’m filing papers, throwing away huge stacks of paper stuffed into grocery bags, and shovelling whatever’s left over into a heroic attempt upon the file cabinet. Past half-assed organizations, excavated, collect in the drawers, so I have about 5 different “bills” files and several “medical” from different years; all were in different drawers or stacks or shoved sideways into the zine bookshelf in the closet. I’m not weeding closely, so far. Just gathering like-meets-like.

My new top categories are “official” for all the official papers, in the top drawer.

Then 2 drawers of my own junk, which is as follows:

* ALTA, BlogHer, Gaming, Potlatch, SWSW, WisCon
* cards, addresses, letters
* flyers, stickers, postcards, brochures that are nifty
Grad school
* official papers, junk, my own papers, other people’s papers, teaching
Job info
* a scrapheap of hiring documents and old resumes
* a million different folders, to evolve into my own poems, drafts, other people’s poems, presses, contracts
* a bunch of research for my anthologies, biographical info on poets I like, xeroxed things, other projects
* my translations, drafts, stuff i want to translate, papers about translation
* my small press
* my old press with all its zines; some letters are here; manuscripts/xeroxable originals
* many boxes and tubs of old zines and letters are in the shed! ack! no room

(bottom drawer)
* unfiled (huge)
* Milo papers
* maps
* warranties and manuals for things going back 15 years

There is a foot-high stack of papers left to go! I’ve thrown *so much* away!

After that stack is filed away I could either
– go through the whole cabinet in a final pass to weed and consolidate
– go through the closet shelves of zines also to weed, and organize
– move the bookshelves around to put the bed on the other side of the room and make more room
– go through the 2 giant shelves of my project binders and figure out wtf is going on there

This is going to help my whole life to get this stuff under control, and let me know where all my projects are, and where to find things! I’ll dig up projects that are 80% done that I have forgotten all about! I’ll find whole completed manuscripts I’ve also forgotten, and talks from 2001 that are super awesome, and the drafts of essays that I might still like, and letters unanswered that will fill me with pleasant melancholy.

Looting the mysterious drawers of dream mansions

Last night I missed kj’s play in the South Bay because I couldn’t face the drive to Burlingame and back to Shallow Alto and then south and then back to Shallow and my car and home to Deadwood. And sitting up during the play. Instead I dropped Moomin off at Hamster and SuperT’s house. It was boiling hot. She came out of the shower in a towel and a towel turban to serve me fizzy italian lemonade.

We sat beside her fans – or I laid on her couch with my feet up — and commented on the architecture of the ceiling molding and the state of our marriages and relationships as well as our friends’, and the way our kids played, and all that. Talking about a marriage of a person we know. “It’s not like she’d divorce him because he doesn’t like to French kiss while it’s one of her favorite things to do for hours and hours.” “Yes but can she face the whole rest of her life without ever French kissing for hours and hours, ever again?”

She had empty boxes out for the kids to play with. they made “animal habitats” and i admired her new outside porch space — she took the little concrete patio and made it a place a bit like Jo’s monkey pit, with a scavenged persian rug and some cushions.

Then to Zond-7’s where I lounged in bed all evening with fancy pizza and computers and an extremely entertaining visitor, Rain. Rain is hyper in mind and body in the way of people who might in the past have done a tad too many drugs and were left sane but more interesting and open to ideas than they might have become otherwise. We gossiped about multiple layers of things at a fair amount of depth – of recent history of the valley, of startups and web 2.0 culture and this time around’s boom, and of specific personalities, then of people we knew, and nifty projects, and that’s all I’ll say because it was a gossip session of extreme and frightening and pleasant frankness because I felt like we clicked and also because Zond-7 seems to know her well. This, all from bed… with computers… the nicest way to have a conversation.

We ate pizza with corn, pineapple, black olives, green bell peppers, and grilled chicken and it was fanfuckingtastically delicious late at night… again the best way to eat anything… in bed. I played with Quicksilver and started exploring it. Zond-7 started teaching me some of his more useful keystroke commands to do things. We both tried working but fucked off a fair bit reading blogs and news and exclaiming at the world’s fuckedupitude and marvels.

I read a bit of a Dover book about pirates, a sort of 1930s-ish feeling book or maybe 1890 and it is funny that I couldn’t tell, because you should be able to tell that!!! Or, I should! It was timelessly Britishly imperialist in tone and I’m not sure if it’s worth reading all of it. It was good enough for a long hot bath.

Then we stayed up super late talking over our relationship. What do we want it to be? How will we know if we’re fucking it up? What about times like just now when we’re stressed for time and can’t balance life very well? What do the failure points in our previous relationships mean? How much were specific dysfunctions to those relationships and how much are our own individual failings we bring with us? How will whatever damages we carry forward affect us now? You know you aren’t fucking it up when you end a conversation like that feeling very peaceful and content and comforted and good.

I woke this morning having had an intense dream. I was doing some sort of intense super technically giant work project with an event. (Ahoy B–C—-Block, you haunt my dreams.) All sorts of things had to be coordinated and fancy tech totally new displayed involving odd internet holographic thingies. As I was walking past a grocery store in this dream, I noticed a bunch of tables in the parking lot, set up with obviously free food ! I mean, hot damn! I started stuffing things into my shoulder bag — jars of peanut butter, 6 packs of fancy italian fizzy lemonade, loaves of bread — thinking “hot damn! free!” but sheepishly realizing I didn’t need to take the free peanut butter since I could afford to buy it.

Then in the dream I was inside the doors of an enormous mansion. The owners had died, or gone away, and there was something like an estate sale except more like it was free. Just go in and … they had taken the things they wanted, so it was okay to rummage. In a far-away room in this labyrinth place I found an enormous antique cabinet going all the way up one wall. It has always been my fantasy to own a cabinet with a zillion tiny drawers — a card catalog or chinese medicine cabinet — and this fit the bill. Enormous, dark polished wood, with baroque carved embelleshments and drawers of all shapes and sizes. They were full of all different kinds of colored dice and game pieces.

I resolved to find out who had charge of the mansion and buy this cabinet for Rook. How surprised he would be! Then I realized he might just be indifferent and be fine with his different dice in little plastic baggies and would not greet the enormous cabinet with a sigh of joy, as I would. Plus, I thought maybe they wouldn’t sell it to me at all. So I looted handfuls of each different drawer into my backpack, thinking I would sort them out again later to present to Rook in a way he would like better. (Yet still ask about the cabinet, or look for a similar one, less massive and imposing but still pleasing to me.)

Next to the cabinet of many drawers there was a low bureau or dressing table with a mirror on top. When I was little I liked to explore my grandmother’s and mom’s bureau drawers. My grandma had things like very old-seeming gold-backed hairbrush set and perfume bottles on a silver tray. The texture of pantyhose in the drawers and the sort of mysteriousness of girdles and bra straps… For me going through her bureau drawers was like trying to understand the weirdness of femininity or womanhood. I tried sometimes to duplicate or echo this feeling in my own rooms, with top-of-bureau setups that had a ritual feel, like little shrines.

This dream bureau was very similiar to my grandma’s, but more mysterious and… oozing the feeling of wealth. (Rather than shabby overly-cared-for just-post-Depression-era lower middle class fanciness 30 years later.) Things that seemed like they must have cost hundreds or thousands of dollars in department stores, golden handbags with delicate clasps, hose and lingerie that was like thousand dollar tissue paper. Gold tubes of rose-smelling lipstick.

Then there were drawers and drawers, flat like map drawers, of makeup of different shades, with everything labelled, poetic names of dreams and dawn and twilight rose and masquerade, starlight disco, ocean midnight shimmer.

I could not decide what I wanted from this. It was all attractive and expensive and yet nothing was my style and makeup, while fun, feels like drag. Finally in one of the makeup drawers I found an array of tubes and pots of glitter, so I took the nicest one to decorate my hair for the big party at the techie event I was organizing in the dream.

Down deep in the back of one of the clothes drawers there was a strange designer-y outfit. It was like a tight bodysuit that had a cartoon landscape sewn into it, patchwork style, with a dinosaur, and was clearly meant to be worn with expensive femmy things as a weird designer outfit and would fall apart in about a month. I took it to use it for pajamas.

I’m awake late, and have had coffee with condensed milk, graham crackers in bed, and to be nice, washed Zond-7’s dishes, as he has one million thousand work things and deadlines before he leaves for Yurp, next week. It is cheating to take the easiest task off his hands.

I’m off now to the game con! I will buy dice and celebrate the synchronicity of my dreams.

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Life is going fast and I can’t catch up

Everything is great but going super fast. I’m always a day behind where I think I am at work; I’m almost to the point where I do all my errands, but not quite. I can walk three blocks and back, nervously. Rook and Moomin are still in New York at Rook’s family’s. I have been moving house every day or two between my place and Zond-7’s, and working from cafes and from bed.

Suddenly I find myself folding tiny dresses and drawing pictures on Mina’s paper bag lunches, which illogically since I’ve been complaining about domesticity for years I find pleasant though it is more domestic servitude; what can I say. She is awesome and loveable. I plot to make her a nice little nook in my house with photos of all her family where she can feel like it is her spot with her stuff, even if she is only here once in a while. Also, to teach her about calendars.

Moomin’s adventures on the lake sound like a mixed bag from the emails, a night of scary rainstorm, a tiny and good amusement park, an interesting visit to Fort T1cond3roga which I bet he loved since he loves to read all the signs in a museum. I wonder if he went out in a boat and whether that was okay? And if he got to build a sand castle? And if Rook has done 8 million sudokus in order to maintain his emotional distance from his chaotic, broadcasting-emotionally-on-11 family?

For cafes to hang out in! I like L’s cafe on 24th, which is cosy and familyish and has excellent food. Sugarplum has couches good for me to lie on, and decent coffee. Peet’s has couches, and good pastry like ‘lavender honey vanilla pound cake’ but is scarily full of crazy people who try to engage me in conversation. People in bands, or with startups, or who want to know what the Internet is. Ritual is still horribly overcrowded and overhipstered, and also has crazy pestering people — a guy in there the other day asked me in great detail all about blogging and I nicely answered him up to a point and then decided he was insane — but he seemed to be like 18 and just realizing that one could Make Money Off the Internetz by blogging. I burst his illusions cruelly.

I have taken the day off and so has Zond-7 except for one worky blog post (me) and conference call (him) and he is staring at me and thinks I am working right now….oh the eventual disillusionment. We will stay in bed all day perhaps he will be teaching me some python or we will start our hackathon a day early and I’ll show him skud’s folk logic thing and we will make our linux server all lovely. We could go to the beach, or clean the hot tub and refill it and then lounge in it tonight (you see i plan to exact domestic labor from him as well and he will become my cabana boy.)

I am wallowing disgustingly in happiness… I have not slept enough… We talk all night… attempting to merge brains and learn about each other’s entire lives. Last night we described childhood gods and strange internal worlds and systems of ritual observance (Very George Sand-ish) and coming to consciousness, with speculations and forays into childrearing and school and our children’s internal worlds which we must essentially be locked out of but must still hypothesize and respect. Also I find that being middle aged we have a lot of History and relationships to describe and reprocess and filter and see through the eyes of this one, if you see what I mean.

He is still watching me type 100 words a minute and perhaps marvelling at my productivity and determination… not realizing it is all blather… And not really “work”. Let him keep his illusions…. or perhaps he has fallen asleep.

I have still not gotten rid of the piano. Does anyone want a piano? Free to good home!

Blogher unconference!

Sunday. man i stayed up too late

diversity discussion – i peeked in – i mentioned ezster’s research

relationship/bloging one Liz Rizzo Melina from ellinetha, liza leif, veronique christensen, Aliza Sherman of babyfruit, me – LJ and intimacy gradients. “you know like an intimacy gradient that is like a foyer, and then as you go in the house the spaces become intimate.” Liza Lief: “while blogging is often you open the door and there’s a VAGINA.” Melina: Livejournal is more like the teenage girls’ bedroom in the back of the house where there’s a slumber party going on.” liz r. everydaygoddess tells about relationships and family.

People wondering why would you DO this. being an open book anyway. as we have been all our lives. and just putting it out there. blogging the tool we were waiting for.

danah boyd article on class and myspace/facebook is brought up without people knowing her name about having a vague impression of the article.

faye anderson – use it, edit it
betsy samuels – it’s all up at the wiki
elana centor – wikiphboa. scared to edit. looks useful for clients.
amy gahran – use wikis for project management and want to do it more. trying to find best tool for absolute beginner. soceity for environemental journalism.
kate – once edites something on wikipedia times the song “we shall overcome” has been used. they forgot mexican american civil rights movement! so i had to edit it. you click edit typed it in. it showed up on the page and i was shocked. BUT… that said i’ve tried… where do you go to start a wiki.

amy – the docs for these tools sucks.
i can do most tech and wiki – i don’t get. someone i konw beth darges.
beth kanter – poweruser. also teaching people what wikis are.

shared doc rather than wiki

list of tools and wikis

wiki – structuring!

what out of this discussion made it click for you?

social media lunch

“how much time do you spend in second life?”
“a lot”
“i stil dont know how to put my clothes on”
“you cna take classes at the free university”
“I make enough to pay for it at my store”
“you should talk to anna herzog”

2 more hours of wiki-ing!
we edit blogher’s wikipedia entry a bit
we try tiddlywiki, mediawiki, socialtext, pbwiki
codepink, allaccess, other projects, wiki project management

AAAAAAAAH I just realized I am talking to HEROINE CONTENT
fangirl moment omg omg omg


3pm retrospective on open space / unconference! all sitting in big circle of chairs.

many people say they were skeptical and almost didn’t come
and they came and found it was their favorite day of the conference!
intimate, more one on one personal , more in depth information, generosity, sharing of experience, learning environment, this type of thing being attuned to our personalities, smaller groups, absolute joy, making real connections, good tips in main conference, leads to information, but today was about focus. loving things unstructured. dont’ lke things in structure but wander off from them. conversation on one topic but went off on another topic, include the entire conference in it, bravo to all the organizers. i am so happy tere was today! because it is non hierarchical, organic, how women organize, whole conference wonderful, got information, but big conference i was afraid of, growing, gettinb big, i’m an outsider, haven’t already been in the networks. male, linear structure, session one two etc. Today was organized the way women organized. and i have a wiki now. arizona has a wiki now! yes, more relaxing, the synthesis is built in. retrospective, conversations deeper, big conference will take 2 weeks to process. i will stop beating myself up (self censorship) should keep this keep going next year. keep it at the end, or do it in parallel. kaliya keeps it on track, everyone go around. this is one of my favorite htings about college, was the conversations in the dining halls. people from all different fields and majors bringing things to the table in a genuinely noncompetitive way. will be processing that for weeks and building on it. but this was wonderful to have some extended conversations with people, which is hard to do without feeling that you’re missing something during the more structured time. so this moves that kind of conversation fromt he margins to the center! (that was e. perry who fucking rocks!) lauriewrites: liveblogging was great but draining, today i got to talk with women about their stories and what they say and don’t say. i’ve never had a bad time at anything involving this organization. i feel really good and it’ll send me home feeling really good and positive. No competition, i loved about today it gave me the opportunity to get everything i wanted to get out of this conference. i came a long way. i asked specific questions and got them answers. i loved the quiet of today. i love that i continued conversations i had over the last 2 days and begun new convs that will continue over the next year. i love that i now have a notebook filled with practical stuff that i can work on when i got home. more specific to what i wanted than the main conference though the main conf was fantastic. ditto to everything. overwhelming how generous evrone i spoke to was wiht their knowledgge, history, stories, i’m all choked up. i learned a lot. i feel like an SEO goddess now. explained in a group setting in a way that was actionable and easy to digest thank you. i enjoyed people that think wikis and blogs are fun and that it’s not always technical, it’s fun. you can sprout out ideas and all the connections. i’m sitting in on the closing ceremonies but haven’t been to the main event, i did attend it second life yesterday and started new things… and got to know people in t here. and i’m impressed your’e finiishing with this nice circle. i was totally bummed out i missed all this today! the conference was wonderufl and energizing but draining and intense. and i’m aware instantly of how valueable this kind of space is! wish i hadn’t been so exhausted tired. kaliya: i had two conversations that were really powerful. good strategizing connection with Liza – importance of leadership. thinking of strategy around it. other, about women in tech. i’m really excitied! the registration’s actually there now and i’m working on She’s Geeky for women in tech. 100% women. women who are linux hackers to serious bloggers who are making their css work etc. not about coding but is about engagement with technology. diverse age range. those things are alive for me. making connections to do stuff in the world.

kaliya – scales up, peopel do this for 2000 people.
liz – scales down too. go home and do this in your living room with 10 people and you will have just as much fun.

mine old content and link it to something i’m doing now. remind me where i’ve been, where i’m at now

tara h: kate from the WIP there was no competition, measurement, really-big-blog, everyone on the same level. who wants to talk to scoble. that was so missing!

(I have to say that i have heard more people make fun of robertscoble-worship… hahahah this weekend! no one meant it meanly. but as an iconic “A-list blogger guy who all the guys think is important but no one here cares about or reads and wonders what’s the deal?” )

more talk about connections.

elisa – why not having this as a parallel track? people have been asking.
kaliya – on open space organizers list, people all say it doesn’t work well because people stick with what’s described already. it detracts from the energy.
(more discussion)
kaliya – also hard to go from open to structured. you’re so open and so free and then you can’t adjust. so it is better to end.

spa day unconference to start!
nancy says codepink had a spa day conference!
pedicures and wikis!

debriefing has been very important
it’s like retrospectives in agile – we need to debrief and process and not be alone to do that with. if you come to the conference alone you can’t deal.

being new, alone, tired, whirlwind pace of conference, overwhelming. hard!

Blogher unconference!

Sunday. man i stayed up too late

diversity discussion – i peeked in – i mentioned ezster’s research

relationship/bloging one Liz Rizzo Melina from ellinetha, liza leif, veronique christensen, Aliza Sherman of babyfruit, me – LJ and intimacy gradients. “you know like an intimacy gradient that is like a foyer, and then as you go in the house the spaces become intimate.” Liza Lief: “while blogging is often you open the door and there’s a VAGINA.” Melina: Livejournal is more like the teenage girls’ bedroom in the back of the house where there’s a slumber party going on.” liz r. everydaygoddess tells about relationships and family.

People wondering why would you DO this. being an open book anyway. as we have been all our lives. and just putting it out there. blogging the tool we were waiting for.

danah boyd article on class and myspace/facebook is brought up without people knowing her name about having a vague impression of the article.

faye anderson – use it, edit it
betsy samuels – it’s all up at the wiki
elana centor – wikiphboa. scared to edit. looks useful for clients.
amy gahran – use wikis for project management and want to do it more. trying to find best tool for absolute beginner. soceity for environemental journalism.
kate – once edites something on wikipedia times the song “we shall overcome” has been used. they forgot mexican american civil rights movement! so i had to edit it. you click edit typed it in. it showed up on the page and i was shocked. BUT… that said i’ve tried… where do you go to start a wiki.

amy – the docs for these tools sucks.
i can do most tech and wiki – i don’t get. someone i konw beth darges.
beth kanter – poweruser. also teaching people what wikis are.

shared doc rather than wiki

wiki – structuring!

what out of this discussion made it click for you?

Grading on the plane

Ohhhhh I’m so tired and hurty!

Moomin watched TV the entire plane ride. Rook hung out feeling airsick and ill. I figured out grades according to a lovely system that I wish I’d established right from the start of class! I assigned points to all the waffly grades of A, B+, C, etc. I gave to major papers, and I figured out a way to deal with the homework and in-class writings that were graded like check, minus, plus, and sometimes “++++!!!” or with comments like “okay” or “fabulous”. Those minor assignments were all lumped together for 10% of the grade. If they missed a few, it was okay. If they did all of them, the extras over a particular threshold count for extra credit. There was also an extra credit assignment. We did two practice exams — well actually three — and I took the best grade of the last two as a paper. Exams and research papers were 20% each. Don’t worry – it all makes sense in my spreadsheet.

That still left me with some vagueness about “participation” and attendance. I think it worked out well, so that you could have made a C+ on the final, but still through lots of effort, make an A in the class — but only with extra effort and by doing quite well on almost everything. You could also have missed a major paper and still (maybe) make an A. For community college I think that is quite fair, but if it were grad school or an upper division class then I would not think it right.

Then… being in great physical misery… I started going through the Wiscon book and while reading it also making an index of names, books, magazines, and concepts. I could slam this index up on the wiki with links. I love indexes. In my reading and research I always study them and think about how they were made and what the philosophy was. And a nonfiction book without an index makes me sad. As I go through the book — which is fabulous by the way and I wish it were longer — I get a little frisson of satisfaction every time a guy refers to a guy. I just leave that out. If a guy ever cites a woman in this book I’ll make sure to give that its own special category. Or I could do the thing that is done so often in history books… give them a special index entry. “Men, citing women science fiction writers, 600; place in society, 592; arrogators of authoritative knowledge, 594-5; fathers, 231; interrupters, 599; Wonder Woman’s boyfriend, 12.” Hahaha no srsly I love dudes. I’m just snarking a little. The thing that is really lovely to note & one of the best things about being at Wiscon: women referring to other women and expecting that others listening will know who is meant. So as I read I’m obsessing some more on canon, girl canon, expectations, shared knowledge, who is considered essential, what is current – i.e. the way that Maul kept coming up last year, not just because it was great but because it got some buzz from the Tiptree short list but the sort of slow buzz to where it takes a while for people who would very much care to catch up and read it.

Oh and this morning I woke up super early and was too much in pain to deal with reality till coffee and celebrex kicked in. so I laid in bed reading blogs and I read N.K. Jemison and K. Tempest’s post and Tobias Buckell’s post with its crazy-making million comments o’ cluelessness and all I can say is some people need to be doing a little googling of “white guilt”… or something… How embarrassing… for fuck’s sake! N.K. being vastly patient… though I noticed the attempt at boundaries like “no actually i would not like to have an endless conversation with you b/c (polite) you are too clueless about race and it will be too enraging and a total energy suck” and then hey presto, teh ENDLESS THREAD where the educating tries to happen on about 50 fronts. I have certainly done that same thing about gender issues. You have to just tell yourself that some of it might take but it can be a while. Exposure some ideas… then back slowly away and go do something more fun… while the gears churn on their own. So as I read all this I became nostril-flaringly enraged and sputtery. Then I had to go catch a plane.

if i hear one more white person doing all that shit… i will scream… no *ahem* I will just point it out. Nicely. Without being condescendingly nice either. Or will go hey shutup okay because you’re hijacking, making it all about you, defensively explaining about the prejudice your irish grandma experienced in the factory in 1919, telling someone to just work harder and there is no prejudice in X industry, they just must not have been good enough yet, all of them en masse ….holy fuck… unbelievable! Anyone who says “colorblind” or “reverse racism” or explains how they can’t be racist because their cousin’s ex-husband is black, I am going to yell BINGO and start giggling uncontrollably. You know what, I don’t expect to deal with that sort of shit on the feminism/gender front at wiscon. And when I do I just laugh at it and really… so do all the cool women there. Who are rolling their eyes and laughing even if the dudes don’t see it, which they so often don’t. And I also don’t expect to deal with that about race and racism. I have higher expectations of this community. Racism exists. Deal with it don’t deny it. god… I am just not in the mood to be all patient about it at the moment. On the other hand I would try harder if it would take some of the heinousness out of our hallways. “Let’s try to make our community less embarrassingly clueless sounding”… now there’s a rousing slogan.

I cling to a vague hope about existing institutions (like SFWA, which I don’t know beans about and am vaguely some kind of supporting member of and sometimes read the magazine… but frankly the whole technopeasant thing? Whatever… that made me not care about them… if they tolerate that kind of utter fool in their upper ranks for so long do I want to mess with that? No!) but even so have to agree with N.K. that it is just NICER and more hopeful to put energy into other things. So rather than join SFWA and kiss ass on a lot of smug old men who think they are powerful and important… I have had a lot more fun feeling like a small part of the Cabal and also doing all the blog and wiki stuff with Quilty. Again it is about building alternate structures of value and importance rather than buying into whatever the old-institution’s values are… patriarchal procrustean bed… screw it!

The thing is I just don’t believe in that kind of power… until it kills me I won’t… and not even then. Seriously, to hell with all that!

done way too much research to believe in it! Read too many dickweeds from 1910 who pompously explain why women can’t write with maybe one exception who is 22 and really hot and neurotic too and then who goes and kills herself! And then everyone says what a shame the only woman who knew how to write and play ball with the big boys! and then I find out (as with the guatemalan poets and such) that there were all these OTHER women who had their own networks of newspapers and magazines and writing and reading circles and who were “bohemian” in some unspecified way. BUT… the ones who end up in the history books are the ones who get Juan Ramon Jimenez (insert your own Famous Guy Writer) to write them a book preface. Because the guys who write the history and criticism books don’t care what women did unless a famous guy paid attention to it for even one second. If you like you can look at 18th and 19th century british lady novelists. same pattern. commercial success, building own community… only room for one token chick at the top while a hundred mediocre old guys continue their own club where they hog all the presumption of “real” value or “doing it right”. So that dynamic… frankly… does not seem all that different to me. I don’t think we’ve come that much further than that. I ahve also read those same women 100 or 200 years ago all tenatively happy that Now things are different and always will be. just like we do sometimes. oh it’s so different now that… oh… 30% of whatever is by women… so now we can rest assured that it’s fixed! Is it? I don’t trust that, but that’s what I want to work towards. If not… then what i’ve said before about at least establishing findable caches of information and once future women stumble across them then they’re in… and can find everything.

We’ll build our own standards and cultural referents and reading lists and markets and awards. And SF does not belong to “them”… clueless old dudes who think they have it made… Guys like that technopeasant ranter guy. What a wanker! That guy is exactly the sort of self-important weenie who puts people off of SF in general.


So anyway I’m in Chicago.

I’m very hurty and tired and took some muscle relaxants (finally: holding out all day) and small children are running around all over and my brother in law wants help with his Internet. I think Rook is doing the Internet helping part thank god. Moomin stepped on my foot catastrophically and I thought I was going to scream and my foot is bad even through the drugs. Not his fault… But ugh! It hurts! He was so good on the plane, as always.

My nephew and niece were super excited and ran to me for hugs yelling “I missed you!!!” So hell! I had better get them some good presents to come back with next week!!! I want to be the cool auntie who brings presents! I watched from the porch as they hunted rabbits and did stomp r0ckets. my bro-in-law brought me some electrical tape to stripe up my wheelchair, which I have been longing to do! so now I have pink and black stripes.

We had some fun moments in the airport going down ramps with Moomin in my lap. The airport thing went okay this time, better than last time. Maybe Frontier is nicer than that other airline… because all the airline clerks and people looked at me and spoke to me directly (rather than to the person standing next to me.) That might also be that I looked meaner and bitchier today so they were running scared.

I am craving exercise… So the ramps up were good too. I think I might start lifting weights. My triceps are getting huge from the chair. I want my biceps to match.

Oh! Rook is completing his Internet Help session (success! domain name moved! SMTP server found and changed!) with a hearty dose of lolcats education!