First, an important note:
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The default in my journal is to screen all anonymous comments, so no one sees them. I can remove that screening at my discretion, though, on an individual basis -- and I have only one criterium for unscreening things. If you are commenting anonymously, and you want your comments to be pubically seen, please sign your name in some way when commenting -- either with your real name, or give yourself a nickname. Otherwise I'll leave them screened. Thanks.
...Periodically, I re-link to an older "who am I" post as occasional new "friendings" turn up, but I've decided to just finally put it right up front here and just edit it as necessary. I am shamelessly stealing the idea of a "welcome mat" post from cadhla, because damn it's a good idea.
( But it's long, so behind a cut:Collapse )
Y'all, I have to share this site. I've talked in the past about how frustrating the tradition of skanky costumes for women is - this year seems to have reached some new lows with the release of a sexy body bag costume. Which has been making a lot of people say "what the actual hell".
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But in one of those discussions somewhere, someone linked to an awesome site - Take Back Halloween, which is a whole site devoted to DIY costumes expressly for women and girls. They don't sell the costumes - they instead show you how they designed it, and link to places where you can purchase the elements if need be (or, just tell you what they are so you can find them on your own). Some of them feel a little bit "parent trying to be educational" (I don't think too many people would really "get it" if you dressed up as Emma Goldman or Lise Meitner, say), and all the different medieval ladies and queens would be perceived as just being "medieval lady" by most. But "medieval lady" is not bad, especially with the resources they've found. And they also have some really kick-ass ideas for DIY costumes for the goddess Freyja (which would be perceived as "Viking lady", but never mind, that's still one cool Viking lady), the goddess Pele, Lizzie Borden, and Queen Boudicca.
And I have changed my costume plans after reading the instructions for the goddess Demeter - seriously, all you need is one green flannel sheet, an orange scarf, a chunky necklace and a crapton of fake flowers and fruit in a cornucopia basket. I can get all of that at either Target or Ikea in two hours tops, and reuse everything after Halloween.
Earlier today, I was part of a discussion someone had started online, asking for songs that seemed to embody a feeling of joy. People were tossing out obvious answers – Beethoven’s 9th, especially lively Motown, even “Happy Happy Joy Joy” – and at some point, I suggested The Waterboys’ “Fisherman’s Blues.”
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Because it just does. The whole album it’s from is actually drenched in utter joy – the band was trying something new, holing up in a castle in Galway and drenching themselves in local trad rock and loving every minute of it. But the title track is just a glorious burst of joy – Mike Scott’s vocals trading off with the brilliant Steve Wickham on the fiddle, weaving beautiful melodies out of all his solos over a rough and rugged backup from the rest of the band. There’s a reason that this song has become the go-to for movie soundtracks when you need a scene in “a typical Irish bar”.
After remembering it, I played it to death on my way home from work today, listening over and over. But the words struck me suddenly – I know them all by heart, but noticed anew how bleak some of the words were for such a joyful song -- “I wish I was a fisherman tumbling on the seas, Far away from dry land and its bitter memories….”
But it’s a different kind of joy, I decided. It’s the joy of someone who’s lived through something very long and hard and difficult, and may not be quite where they want to be just yet, but – they’ve survived. They’ve at least made it out the other end of the worst patch. There is a long way to go for sure, but the trial has made them stronger, and they know they’ll get there.
We are once again at a point where we’ll be looking back on a single hard day, and remembering where we were eleven years ago. And it’s still not easy for me to do, because the past eleven years have been hard. I’ve been through a lot. So has nearly everyone I know. So has New York City, and so has Washington DC, and so has the country and the world.
But this year I feel like there is finally a bit of hope; because even though that day tried to break me, and even though the next eleven years tried to grind me down, I have made it through and I am stronger for it. I’ve got a long way to go, and so have all of us, but the past few years have just made us really, really tough.
Everyone of you will, and should, observe 9/11 in your own way, even if it is by not observing it at all. (Believe me, I kind of want to do it that way myself.) But I would appreciate it a great deal if, at some point during the day, you took the hand of someone you loved and danced to this song with them.
Because you’ve survived. Because you’re alive. Because it’s been another year and it’s made you better.
“I know I will be loosened from the bonds that hold me fast,
The chains all around me will fall away at last,
And on that fine and fateful day I will take me in my hand
I will ride on the train, I will be the fisherman
With light in my head, and you in my arms…”
Joy to you all.
And you can tell that we're getting close to fall because I'm starting to think more about knitting.
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I've come rather some way from the yarnalanche of two years ago, and made something of a dent. But there are still all sorts of random weird skeins floating around that I still need to do something with. Fortunately, I will have two full days between Cara's moving out this weekend and Abby's moving in, so I'll have a bare room to use as a staging/sorting area and a photo studio for "hey, I knit that a while ago and need to take a photo for Ravelry".
I'm also pretty sure I have a decent collection of bulky yarn, and I have a few hat patterns that involve same, so I can maybe just do them up quick and donate them to Colin and Niki's place in the Catskills. I've long been threatening to just donate a few hats to their house so they can start a basket for guests who maybe forgot a hat.
I am so looking forward to this.
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I'm taking a whole week off from MegaCorp next week, and the plan is to stay in my beloved Brooklyn and do absolutely nothing that I don't want to do. I thought about leaving town, but I couldn't decide where I wanted to go, and started thinking that if I did go anywhere, I'd feel strangely obligated to be doing things every damn day instead of just loafing if that's all I wanted to do.
Cara's going to be out of the house for a few days as well, which is already spurring me to tackle a couple of longer homey tasks - the hall closet has been in sore, sore need of a decluttering, as have the kitchen cupboards. I'm already starting to think of the closet task as "de-shittening," because I have an obscene amount of total and utter crap. It's not even worth a stoop sale - I'm just going to put it all out on the curb in a big box saying "just take it".
I'm also thinking of some puttery cooking things -- maybe do up a pork shoulder and make up some burritos to freeze, some pizza dough, get a few different kinds of dried beans and cook them all up and dole them into smaller containers, do up some biscuits, pre-make some meatballs, make up some vegetable stock - I'm already going to be getting a lot of green beans and kale to freeze sometime soon, and I'd love to be able to make dinner some nights by just pulling three small containers out of the freezer and throwing them into a pot. Of course, this also means doing something with the weird little containers of stuff I've already got in there - the various half-pounds of ground whatever, the two lone single-serving pie crust things, and three bags of cranberries (because god knows I'll be getting more of that too).
This is usually the kind of thing I save for the weekends, except I drag my feet because I resent only having two days to myself and not being able to have fun with them, and I also don't want to get in Cara's way (I tend to spread out a lot and create even more chaos when I clean something). The thought of having a full nine days to do with as I choose, and two of them entirely devoid of other people, feels like a luxury - I'll be doing the puttering, but then will have even more time to wander to the park with a book or just lie in a hammock at Governor's Island.
Just boosting the signal on this as much as possible:
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Someone on Reddit explained the entire "Obamacare" bill, in plain English.
No, I'm serious.
Well, I'll at least be honest about why things have fallen silent as they have in here - I haven't really felt much of the urge to write, or to tell people about what's the what of my life lately.
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But at least I've ascertained why - I think after a very long few years, this particular
Stella needs to Get her Groove Back. So this summer I'm going to be pushing myself to being a little more daring, a little more adventurous - and hopefully it'll wake up some bits of me that fell asleep over the past couple years, and then soon they'll wake the rest of me up.
However, one of the daring things I've already done is post the one and only fanfic I have ever written to date. Yay!
(People seem to like it and everything. It's encouraging.)
So, about a year ago I went to London to see David Tennant in Much Ado About Nothing. I only gave myself 3 days for the whole trip, which was much, much too short -- and I promised myself that this year, if I had more money and time, I'd go back to London for a longer stay. And sure enough, I'm doing just that - I leave tomorrow, and am staying for a week.
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However -- as it turns out, the week I am there is the opening week for a production of Antigone at The National Theatre - starring Christopher Eccleston.
...That's twice now that a Doctor has been on stage in London while I've been there. Of course I got tickets. (And I'm tempted to go back yet again next year to see if makes Tom Baker comes out of retirement to do King Lear or something.)
So, this afternoon -- 4 months, 3 days, 13 hours, and 20 minutes after breaking my foot -- my physical therapist pronounced me officially healed.
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So today in writing class we were critiquing something I'd submitted; something I was feeling was all weird and forced and clunky.
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And the teacher said "I think you can start looking for a place to market this."
(It's my first day of physical therapy. The studio is on the 3rd floor of a nondescript office building, and I need to sign in at the security desk before heading up.)
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Kim: (waving cane) So, guess what tenant I need to see!
Doorman: (eyes cane) Well, actually...there are two possibilities in this building.
Kim: Oh, really?
Doorman: The physical therapist on three...or the injury lawyer on six.
Poet Frank Delaney read this work of his on NPR this morning. I nearly applauded.
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Drowning The Shamrock
- By Frank Delaney
"Hail glorious Saint Patrick dear saint of our isle
On us thy poor children look down with a smile —"
But I'm not singing hymns and I'm not saying prayers
No, I'm gritting my teeth as I walk down the stairs
And into the street with these louts fiercely drinking
And screeching and lurching, and here's what I'm thinking —
They're using a stereotype, a narrow example,
A fraction, not even a marketing sample
To imitate Ireland, from which they don't come!
So unless that's just stupid, unless it's plain dumb,
All these kids from New Jersey and the five boroughs
And hundreds of cities, all drowning their sorrows,
With bottles and glasses and heads getting broken
(Believe me, just ask the mayor of Hoboken)
All that mindlessness, shouting and getting plain stocious —
That isn't Irish, that's simply atrocious.
I've another word too for it, this one's more stinging
I call it "racism." See, just 'cause you're singing
Some drunken old ballad on Saint Patrick's Day
Does that make you Irish? Oh, no — no way.
Nor does a tee-shirt that asks you to kiss them —
If they never come back I surely won't miss them
Or their beer cans and badges and wild maudlin bawling
And hammered and out of it, bodies all sprawling.
They're not of Joyce or of Yeats, Wilde, or Shaw.
How many Nobel Laureates does Dublin have? Four!
Think of this as you wince through Saint Patrick's guano —
Not every Italian is Tony Soprano.
I spent the first afternoon of my 42nd year on earth taking a walk -- a long walk down Smith Street here in Brooklyn, just wandering into and out of shops and restaurants and stuff. Just sort of giving myself over to total impulsiveness and whim -- if I saw something in a store I wanted, I got it, if I didn't see anything I liked I shrugged and left. Enjoying the walk more than anything, for the first time in 2 months without a boot.
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However, after four hours my foot reminded me that walking for four solid hours on the day after you've had a boot cast removed may not necessarily be the best of ideas. The last storefront I entered was a car service, where I limped up to the dispatcher and whimpered, "can I get a car to take me home?..."
I was thinking of hitting a restaurant for dinner, but my ankle has swollen up rather a bit, so I'll just kick back here....my birthday buddy George once sang a song about how you can stay at home and still send your mind floating far, after all.
Happy Birthday to us, George, whereever you are. Hare Krishna.
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Back in 2009, my birthday fell on Mardi Gras (well, actually it was on Ash Wednesday, but I figured "close enough") and I took myself there. Back then, I wrote a series of open thank-you notes to the trip; I'm rerunning them here. Y'all can read them while I dig out my copy of Dr. John's cover of "Iko Iko."
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Dear Officer Z:
I know you denied it when I said so first, but you honestly did go above and beyond the call of duty. Seriously. I hope you try going to Katz's if you ever get to New York because it reminded me a lot of the place you sent me.
To the woman from Tennessee and the bicyclist on Esplanade Street:
Thanks so much for being my good-luck charms on two different occasions. I started getting tons of throws after the woman from Tennessee gave me all of the ones from around her neck, insisting "you keep these, I've got tons and I"ll get more. Happy birthday." And the bicyclist on Esplanade chatted with me about the unreliable nature of the bus long enough for the bus to actually finally come. You helped my luck turn!
Dear Debbie and Phillippe:
Oh, you guys were great. I kept talking up your shop to other New Orleans folk I met, hoping you'd get business. Thanks for the spice mix lagniappe!
And thanks for tipping me off about pinning a dollar to your shirt...
Thanks for the shot of bourbon and trying to get me to come along with your friends after the Bacchus parade, and I hope I didn't look too alarmed when you asked me. I may email you after all, even though I suspect you may not remember who I am...
To the two Japanese girls at the Orpheus parade:
Your enthusiasm was infectious, and it was also sweet of you to spontaneously turn around and give me some of your beads when you saw I didn't have any.
To Chris and Christina:
Thanks for walking me to the Quarter after Orpheus -- Damn, now I'm going to have to take a stroll down Camp Street next time I come back. Except it may not be as fun without stopping to take pictures of Chris in his zombie mask every five minutes. (Christina: thanks for the Jack Daniels punch, too!)
I only just now learned your name after looking up your cafe online. Thanks for being a delightfully offbeat place to check email.
To Amy, T.J., Gina, and the kids:
Thanks for showing me a great time on the day of Mardi Gras proper. I think that picture Amy took of your two-year-old trying to decorate a tree with parade beads is one of my favorites.
Thanks also to the woman sitting outside the bar who heard it was my birthday and toasted me, saying, "any day that you wake up alive is your birthday."
Thanks for checking out the Quarter with me later on. Here's to trivia machines and tool sheds.
To the three strangers at Johnny White's bar --
Thanks for jumping up and dancing the Time Warp with me as Mardi Gras ticked out.
Dear New Orleans:
That was the best damn birthday party I've had in a long time. Thanks.
In my last post I talked about something atrophying - and speaking of that....
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I am nearly done with Das Boot. I had my 6-week checkup with the orthopedist yesterday -- which took all of five minutes, seriously -- and it seems that the bone is pretty much okay.
The muscles,, however, are another matter. I honestly had no idea how many muscles were in my foot until I tried to walk on them again after six weeks. "The bone's fine," the doctor said, "but now we have to work on the muscles and tissues." And so....
For the next week, I can take Das Boot off inside, but when I'm outside, or in transit, I have to wear it. And that includes - when I'm going down stairs. And I'm finding that without it, I'm slowing down to a doddering hobble.
So taking the boot off is meaning even less mobility for a while. Fantastic.
Deep in my heart of hearts, I've always thought (or at least told myself) that one of the things that makes me me is a more-adventuresome-than-usual streak of wanderlust. I once got into a bit of trouble at my daycare center when I was four after the teacher read us a story about a little boy who liked to play "explorer" - he made paper flags to "claim territory" and went to go explore a cave near his house. After story time, the teacher helped us all make little paper flags of our own and set up one of those plastic kiddie-crawl-tube-tunnel things so we could all pretend we were "exploring" a "cave"; however, I got so into the spirit of it that I ended up "exploring" my way out the door to our playroom, down a hall, past the bathrooms, up a flight of stairs and into the administrative offices of the church where my daycare was located. It was only when a secretary happened to see me trying to plant my flag on a landing that anyone told me, "oh, no, you're not supposed to be here," and brought me back to the room with the kiddie tunnel. I didn't put up a fuss, and went back to the pretend-exploring in the tunnel, but I distinctly remember feeling that exploring the same tunnel over and over was pretty damn boring by comparison.
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That's dropped off for the past ten years, though - I got hit with a lack of time, lack of opportunity, and lack of money. Meanwhile, my brother was backpacking around the world -- twice -- and my parents were starting to go off on cruises and European jaunts, and I was stuck at home, feeling unlucky and seethingly jealous. The real low point came in 2007: my brother's family went to the Cook Islands for their vacation, and my parents went to Italy. Me? I went to Chicago.
But on top of jealous and deprived and unlucky -- I was starting to feel fearful. The thing I've learned about solo travel is that it's kind of like a muscle; if you don't use it, that impulse atrophies. In my 20's I thought nothing of just up and running off for the weekend to surprise a friend stuck working at a Rennaisance Faire in the middle of nowhere; lately, though, a lot of my travel plans feel hampered in by my fretting about whether I can speak the language, whether I can be safe, whether I should be concerned about theft -- the kinds of things I never used to worry about, and the kinds of things that would have made four-year-old me say "yeah, but exploring the same thing over and over is boring, remember?"
However -- now that my luck's turned (and now that I'm in a job that actually offers a paid vacation), I've been spending the past couple weeks starting to browse travel sites online, looking for ideas about where to go. My parents have been trying to sell me on Europe (Dad has been a huge fan of Italy ever since that first trip, where he got to take a cooking course for a day), and I've also been browsing a few travel sites.
But for the past couple days -- for reasons I'm not able to ascertain -- I've been looking more and more at options for traveling in Morocco. To the point that I think I may indeed be in the early stages of planning for a trip there. Even though what I'm finding is that I don't really know the language (the little high school French I've retained is pitiful, and I know fuck-all about Arabic), I'll be a solo female in an Arabic country, and no one I know has ever been there before, and never have I had any thoughts about visiting Morocco prior to this. But none of that is dissuading me.
I've tried other tricks in the past couple years to get back on the writing horse. I joined the LJ Idol contest, I tried setting up a weekly appointment with myself, I tried roping a friend into being a mentor, I tried a few other things to very little result.
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I don't know whether I've just found the right teacher, or whether being back in a class setting is making me take it a bit more seriously or whether I was just finally ready. But I just finished work on my first class assignment - something which I not only was disciplined enough to write, but also disciplined enough to review and edit and rewrite -- and damn, it feels good.
(Remind me of this moment if I come back in after class today recoiling because everyone told me it was crap.)
I got hit with one of those tiny groundbreaking personal epiphanies this morning.
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For the past year or so, I've been feeling guilty off and on that I haven't done any real writing "practice" -- no diligent dedicated 2 hours (or whatever) to just jotting stuff. My writing was suffering as a result, I was afraid. And, there is some truth to that.
But somehow I've been punishing myself for not writing at all. I called myself a writer -- where was my writing? Where were my notes? I was frittering my time away doing other things, why wasn't I writing?
And this morning I was in a state of flagellating myself about this a bit again, looking at all the things I did with my time instead; and I was chiding myself for what I think one of my biggest time-sucks is, reading and discussion on the Metafilter.com blog. I needed to cut down on that, I told myself. I need to write for a change rather than wasting time on -
And then it hit me.
Why the hell was I thinking I wasn't writing, when writing is the very way you participate on Metafilter?
I still know I definitely need to cut back on that; I've been thinking a lot lately about having to do the kind of "only I see it" practicing that helps you find stuff. There's something to be said about letting things sit in your own space and your own echo chamber a while first, rather than putting everything out in the world from the initial get-go. Let yourself sit with it first. And I don't do that enough -- instead, I've been spontaneously writing things down on Metafilter's discussion threads.
But that is still writing. I actually have been doing practice writing for the past year, it's just over on a web site for everyone to see.
Defintely still something I need to change. But it's good to know that the habit I need to correct isn't one of sloth, it's instead one of....exhibitionism.
So I was just invited to be on the jury pool for another art organization for the month of March. They got my details, I'm sure, from my running Reverie's contest for the past several years.
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Wow. This means that I've got an actual reputation.