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Friday, September 4, 2015

The Piglet Rehomes

"Rehome" is a word I know from the Wire Fox Terrier Rescue
it means to find a new home.

The Piglet is very excited to be rehoming: 
today it's going to travel by post to live with a blogfriend! 

This morning the other plush companions gave the Piglet a send-off and presented it with gifts to carry in its shoulder bag, which I'd sewed for Valentine's Day. 

The bouncy ball and the almonds are for use during the journey, the magic blue stone is a present for its new person.

They also composed a Certificate of Authenticity [I was the scribe] confirming that the Piglet is a real one, and, while small, biggly brave.


Off you go, now, little Piglet!

Spock, Kirk, & Abe

Zhoen asked if Lincoln ran a bar. I can't see that he did, aside from the general store where bink's drunkard relative served booze, but in googling it, I found this set up for a joke:



I'm no good at jokes and can't even begin to think of how this might go.


But it does remind me that Lincoln turns up on Star Trek in this awful episode, "The Savage Curtain." 
All I remember about it is that it's awful. I must rewatch it.


Btw, it seems Abraham hated the nickname Abe.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

A Good Day to Not Paint

Artist bink and I went paint sampling this morning---she has the best eye for subtle differences in color, and their effects:

"You don't want that; you'll feel like you're in a hospital ward.

"Believe me: prison cell. 

"Trapped in Das Boot.

So, steered away from battleship gray-bluegreens, I kept coming back to a deep, bright blue. No room I live in will never achieve such a Zen feel, but it's this center blue:

"Is it too hot & humid to paint inside?" I asked the sales guy.

"Well, it's not ideal," he said. "You could do it, but it'll add more humidity to the air."

THAT decides it. I'm waiting until Labor Day, when the temps & humidity are supposed to drop.

Until then, it's all Lincoln, all the time. I'd like to be done with this substantive edit by then, or nearabouts.

(I googled Lincoln as a color, and it's green.) 

bink 'n' Linc

bink's been doing her genealogy this summer, and she discovered a relative who worked with Lincoln. People want to find out they're somehow related to the famous, but in this case, it's the infamous.

Her relative was
William F. Berry, with whom Lincoln bought a store. Alas, Berry was a drunk, and "no more unfortunate partner than Berry could have been found." 
Lincoln's law partner and later biographer, W. Herndon, says:
 "For a while Lincoln was at one end of the store dispensing political information, Berry at the other was disposing the firm's liquors.... Lincoln's application to Shakespeare was only equaled by Berry's attention to Spiggott and Barrel."
 --from the very readable Thomas Keneally's Abraham Lincoln, Penguin, 2003 p. 21.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Room (Before)


I woke up this morning excited about fixing up my new room.
It's small –– about 7' x 11' –– but bright yet cool: 
you can't see in these photos, but leafy trees shade the windows on both sides and filter out grit from the busy street.

A smoker lived there before Marz, and the residue lingers, so I'm going to enjoy washing the room right away. You can see the cracked floor needs big help too. 

It's too damp to paint though: right now, at 10 o'clock in the morning, the humidity's higher than the temp (74ºF + 79 % humidity).
And I haven't chosen a paint color yet. 

I think I'll turn it into a sewing room. Art is the acceptance of solitude, Louise Bourgeois said--what better transformation of this room? And sewing is a cluttered business, I've discovered: all that thread and fabric are a real space suck.

But for now, I'm leaving it empty, to revel in the open space. Marz and I were packed in like sardines for four years. 

One thing I won't change:
In an astounding act of self-sacrifice, Marz left hanging on the wall her framed glossy of Paul Michael Glaser and David Soul on the set of Starsky & Hutch
(Thank you, Marz!)

She knew it was the object of my desire.
I don't care about the show itself, but something about the actors'  impossible 70's California cool  rivets me. 
What world was that? 


OK, yes, it was an illusion, but it was a real one.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

'Bye, Marz!


Me holding a photo ^ (out of focus in the original) of Marz on Camino four years ago, with a red rain cover on her backpack, walking after a herd of cows because she liked them and wanted to go with them. 

"I was probably dehydrated or something too," she says here, as she packs the very last of her stuff to move out to her new place today.

Quite possibly---she did get sick from lack of water one day.

So, off she goes on her own way.    *wipes away a tear*

Buen Camino, Pequeño. The truth is out there. Live long and prosper. . . etc. 
There are too many ways to say goodbye.





Now go out there and act like somebody!






_______________
"Now go out there...." 
--Andy Taylor, to his boy Opie, on the Andy Griffith Show

Happy Brain

My brain is enjoying focusing on this TED Talk, this morning:
"Happy Brain: How to Overcome Our Neural Predispositions to Suffering" by Amit Sood, MD, Professor of Medicine at Mayo Clinic.

  He comments online:

"Research shows true compassion makes you feel happier and lowers activity in fear centers of the brain. Avoiding others might provide temporary respite, but locks us in our own hurts. Further, if we all avoided each other, then world will become a lonely and sad place.  
Feeling of loneliness is as harmful as smoking or high blood pressure." 


Monday, August 31, 2015

Lose Some, Win Some




I am not a crushed bath cube, but last night I pushed Marz to be honest about whether or not we'd be friends after she moves out tomorrow. 
She said it was doubtful.

Yeah, that's what I'd thought; 
it only makes sense since we've not eactly been friends for at least a year. 
Still I'd gambled on the better angels of our nature... [I've been working on Lincoln, you know--look at how that worked out for him, though]. 

So, after four years that goes in the "lose some" column.

I'm grateful to be working on some involving, interesting projects, FTW.

The editing job is involving a lot of rewriting, which is work that lights up my brain in pretty colors. 
The idea is that the book will talk about Lincoln's importance to today, but it keeps dropping the ball. I just rewrote the part where Lincoln suspends habeas corpus. The book doesn't mention that this sets the precedent of a president doing that in a time of war (so the military can arrest and hold people without showing just cause or taking them to trial), or that that the United States has been doing for the past dozen-plus years.  

At the same time, I'll be scraping and repainting the windows. They are on new tracks (they go all the way up!) but still need restoration. That will be a good physical distraction, and I like to see the immediate results of such labor.

Then, as the weather cools, I'll bike some of the longer trails. And I just found out about a free bike-repair group that meets twice a month--starting this week––at a nearby bike shop. 

Oh, and also I'm working on a zine about Rice Pudding! with Crow.

Good work is its own kind of win.

___________________________


Screencaps from TrekCore of the Star Trek episode "By Any Other Name". Kirk asks the crew to go on a dangerous mission, saying, "Risk is our business." That's actual dialogue. (I made up the other stuff.)


There's a kind of American glorification of risk--"Go on! Take a chance!" -- that doesn't take into account that it's called "risk" because you risk losing. Like, getting turned into a bath cube and then crushed to dust, as happens to this poor crew member.

That's not a reason not to take risks, of course, just a reminder that you might not be the Kirk in the episode. You might be a glorified extra, like Crewman No. 6 in Galaxy Quest. 
Expendable. 
Or, comic relief.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Hot August Night

We're in for a heat swell. I don't like hot weather except now in late August when the sticky air is like peach fur, the  cicadas hum, and you know cool air is coming soon. 

This evening, I'm pulling old photos off the desktop computer I've shared with Marz for almost four years before she takes it away when she moves in two days (Sept. 1).

I'd forgotten a lot of the photos, some of which are really pretty good, and also how much I like love taking pictures.
(Why don't I do the things I love?)

I need a new camera! I don't need a fancy one:
the one I broke was a $200 point-and-shoot.

Below, from a couple summers ago, 2013, here's Marz holding Neil Diamond's album Hot August Night, (1972) at the David Byrne's "Play the Building" installation downtown, 
and below that, Marz listening later in her room to her own record player [I bought her the same orange model].

("Hot August night" is also the opening line to Diamond's 1969 single "Brother Love's Travelling Salvation Show", [links to the official version] which is a GREAT song, about "tremendous yearing looking for answers, some way to ease a very hard burden, very rough lives,"
 even though Diamond later slid off into ... slimy. 
Hey, people change!

Compare him singing this song live in 1970, ([starts at 2:15] on the Johnny Cash show) when he's still green, almost sweet and shy, and likable, to his lounge lizard performance in 1976. * ) 





"Brother Love" seems a fitting song for Marz, who grew up in a  fundamentalist Christian faith, as did the gospel/CW duo the Louvin brothers, the subjects of this book Satan Is Real she was reading that fall (2013), and the title of a rather awful song of theirs.

My favorite of these sorts of songs (gospel Christian?) is the wonderful "Turn Your Radio On" (1940 recording), by the hillbilly Blue Sky Boys, another brother duo, a song I'm crazy about:
"Get in touch with God, 
Turn your radio on...."

Their soft accents remind me of my mother's Missouri relatives.
The way they sing "listen to the music in the air [ehhhr]" makes me homesick for a whole bunch of folks who are long gone,
"the many friends gone on before..." and those who will soon be gone.
________________________

*Credit where credit is due:
Stacia's amazing post on Neil Diamond and writing,  "Matter of Fact, It's All Dark", at She Blogged By Night, in which she gives full credit to a greatest-hits album's ability to send a person into "
the throes of some weird ennui-induced thing...."

Friday, August 28, 2015

The End of the Tour

I went to see the David Foster Wallace movie last night, The End of the Tour [trailer]---partly because it's set in my city (also Michael at OCA recommended it).

I was disappointed, however: there were only a few shots of the city, DFW not being one for sightseeing, the movie suggests, preferring to watch TV at a friend's house, or to go to the Mall of America. 
(I guess going to the MOA is sightseeing... but he didn't stand on the Hennepin Bridge over the Mississippi River and exclaim "Huck Finn!" like I'd hoped.)

There was only one other person in the theater, so when the characters drive from the airport past the Mary Tyler Moore statue on the mall, I felt free to mutter out loud, "You can't drive down the mall!"     Buses and pedestrians only.

And when they go to the Mall of America, I squeaked: 
I was just passing through there two days ago, on my way with Marz to IKEA, across the street from the MOA, to get new stuff for her new apartment. (I felt such a mom...)

May I say, the area is not designed for pedestrians at all. There's no way to cross the highway from the Mall to IKEA, except to jaywalk. Luckily there's not much traffic... because it's all turned into the Mall's parking lots.

But DFW didn't have to worry about pedestrian crossings because he got a ride from my favorite person in the movie:
the publicists' driver, played by Joan Cusak, an actress who always, always delights me.


Better than any sight, she captured the local culture, with her [adorable? annoying? both?] Minnesota brand of perkiness. (I cringed: I'm like her sometimes.)


Enthusing over DFW's radio interview, which she'd listened to live on the car radio, waiting outside the public-radio building for him, she says to him as he gets in the car,
"Now I'm going to have to buy your book!"

"I'm sorry," he mumbles.

I think this is the only time I laughed out loud at the movie.

[Was it just a touch too reverential, too precious? I think so.
And the music? Would he have liked that? Couldn't he have been dancing to the Bee Gees, since he'd mentioned 70s dancing?]

Darning sampler from the Fries museum, from tomofholland.com/tag/darning
I'm not actually a huge fan of DFW's writing.
I do love and admire the way he weaves mind-threads together, with footnotes and whatnot--like elaborate darning--but his content doesn't usually catch me much.
He even says in the movie that most of his readers seem to be young men, and that makes sense to me.


Both the "men" and the "young".
 

I'd have enjoyed this movie more (and DFW too) if I'd seen it at the same age (twenty) I saw and enjoyed My Dinner with Andre, which now doesn't interest me. 
.
DFW mentions the loneliness of people under forty-five; 
I wish he'd lived long enough to write about the loneliness of people over forty-five.
Loneliness does feel different to me at midlife; less desperate, for one thing, accompanied with the relief of dropping some of the illusions of youth:
"Oh, thankgod, I don't have to burn the candle at both ends! I could never get that other end to light anyway, and the wax seems to be dwindling all too fast as it is."

But in old age, loneliness seems likelier to return to the killing strength it has in youth.

Anyway, I always point people of any age or gender to DFW's fantastic article on eating lobsters in Maine –– "Consider the Lobster" –– which veers off from considering the lobster and becomes pretty damn terrific on the problem of pleasure and pain, going from talking about how lobsters taste good with butter, and how they're giant sea insects, to asking,
" Is it all right to boil a sentient creature alive just for our gustatory pleasure?"


And I do feel that I like DFW, the person, though I have no trouble at all believing him when he answers the question of why he's not married at thirty-four by saying it's because he's hard to be around.
No trouble at all. 

But watching him (or rather, Jason Segel, speaking his words), I remember that I'd always thought of him as one of us, one of mine; 

not in a shared level of intensity, or an ability to to work hard or to keep one's thread from tangling impossibly, but in what he cares about: 
THINKING ABOUT STUFF.
  
And he asks questions! I liked how he kept trying to turn the interview with the Rolling Stone reporter into a conversation. 
And he answers them, of course, in depth. 

I laughed a little again, come to think of it, or exhaled a huff of pleasure, the pleasure of recognition, when he goes back to the interviewer's room on the last night to clarify a point he'd made--an important point about depression--obviously he'd been thinking on it and couldn't stand to let his incomplete, inaccurate answer stand.

So, the End of the Tour cheered me up, the way seeing an old friend does, even if after three days you remember why you don't want to see that friend more often. 
But, of course, at the same time the movie made me so, so sad, I cried, because you know DFW doesn't make it... that sparky mind got rubbed out... 
And that left me lonely.

I also left with a craving for Hostess cupcakes. DFW eats junk food throughout the movie (though not those, my craving was brought on through the process of association). 

Pleasure and pain, all twisted up, like a nest of sewing thread.

_____________________


Note to Jesse Eisenberg: Learn to smoke, man! Watching you do it wrong was distracting.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Just Fact Checking, Ma'am

Oh my, it's so much easier to edit than to write. 
I'm having some fun editing a miniseries of books on US Presidential Big Hitters [not actual title].  

It's pretty easy too: 
I'm not an American history buff, but I've so often proofread, indexed and otherwise exposed myself to presidents (no thongs), that factual errors pop out at me.

How the authors make the errors in the first place is harder to see. I'd expect all of us in children's nonfiction to be able to write a basic book about George or Abe or Teddy in our sleep.

I can spot errors, but I don't usually know the correct info off the top of my head.
I know, for instance, that the United States had not "just begun to heal" from the American Civil War when Lincoln was assassinated––fighting was still sputtering––but I have to check the dates.

Here:
John Wilkes Booth shot Lincoln on the night of April 14, 1865, 
a mere five days after General Robert E. Lee surrendered the Army of Northern Virginia on April 9. 
Lincoln died early the next morning. 

(Wow--he was only fifty-six when he died! Two years older than me! He looked so old...)

Anyway, while that basically ended the war, other Confederate armies kept fighting--they hadn't yet heard about the surrender. No cell phones, eh.

President Andrew Johnson (who? oh, right, Lincoln's v.p., and the first president to be impeached--not a great healer) didn't declare the war "virtually over" until May 9.

The facts are easy enough to find, but not always that in agreement: 

History.com lists June 2, when the last Confederate army surrendered, as the End of the Civil War.

Did I know all that?
I did not. 

I just knew Lincoln did not die during a time of national healing; unless you see the war itself as an act of healing the wound of US slavery, suppurating since 1619, but I think it's more like surgery than healing, really horrible surgery, like cutting off a leg . . . for four years. 

Posed photo of a Union surgeon preparing to amputate, showing how anesthesia (choloroform) was dripped onto a sponge or cone that fitted over the patients nose and mouth.
Image ^  from the National Museum of Health and Medicine: "To Bind Up the Nation's Wounds"

Facts and dates are one thing. Their interpretation is another.
Seems to me, the nation hasn't died from infection, but it's pretty clear we're hardly done healing, or even, depending on who and where you are, necessarily at peace among ourselves. 

A man is arrested during protests against the death of Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager killed by a police officer, in Ferguson, MO, in August 2014. Photograph: Whitney Curtis/New York Times/Redux/eyevine
 Image ^ from excellent Guardian article "Farewell to America",
by British black journalist Gary Younge, who was foreign correspondent in the United States for twelve years before returning to the UK
___________________

"8 things you didn’t know about the Confederate flag" (PBS, June 21, 2015 )
 #4  This spring, the US Supreme Court ruled in favor of the Texas’s licensing board, who had refused to approve a specialty Texas state license plate requested by the Sons of the Confederate Veterans:

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Artichokes (Father & Aunt)

My father (84) and his sister, my Auntie Vi (90), were never close and haven't seen each other in ... twenty-plus years. 
But Vi has been on a road trip with a niece (not me, obviously) and they stopped in on my father yesterday. My cousin sent me proof, below, right.

They are from a family of ten children; below, left, is their mother (25 years old) and her three oldest children (r.i.p.).

Genes really work, eh?

Now that I'm sewing, maybe I will try stitching the pattern on my grandmother's dress, which I've always admired. She was an accomplished seamstress; I imagine she made it herself.

I always say my Sicilian side reminds me of artichokes: 
tough survivors, with tender hearts, if you can get past their outer leather & spikes.

My mother, on the other hand, was like a hot house flower that wilted with any change in conditions.

I'm glad that I have some of her sensitivity but plenty tough skin too.  
Like a . . . baby rhino!

Time for a Baby Rhino of the Day: 

orphaned baby white rhino, Gertjie, trying to copy his best friend’s behaviour, goat Lammie, by hopping & skipping around like a lamb. [more info at Green Planet]

Monday, August 24, 2015

Another dream job for me




 Baby Rhino exerciser









--From Baby Rhino GIFS on Reddit: http://i.imgur.com/sSBhnq1.gif

56ºF (13ºC) !?! / Being Sad

I don't remember EVER wearing a wool scarf here in August before. Normally we're sweltering, the whole month.
(I'm at the coffee shop this morning   >
about to start editing a ms.)

Strange days indeed.

How to Be Sad

I was house sitting over the weekend and felt quite chirpy. 
But when I came home to an empty house, I felt slayed with sadness again. Marz was at work but she has already left, really.

Yea verily, I felt feeble and sore broken, as David says (Psalm 38:8, KJV) (tho' I wouldn't join  him in saying, "I have roared by reason of the disquietness of my heart").

Classic avoidance move of the 21st century: 
I turned on my laptop. 

I googled How to Be Sad.
This result intrigued me: 
"Not to know how to be sad, not to dare to be sad and not to dare to be dissatisfied in depression"

And then I laughed when I clicked on it and saw:
"[Article in German]"


It reminds me of a friend whose PhD adviser turned her dissertation back saying it was too accessible and should instead "read as if it had been translated from German."

I didn't find what I was looking for on the first couple pages of results. 
Mostly it was inverted: how NOT to be sad, or it was advice on how to act sad, like for theater. 
Or it was advice for parents on how to help kids deal with sadness, some of it using this summer's movie Inside Out, with its great message that it's OK to be blue.

I actually found some comfort in this article, "How Inside Out Can Teach Evangelicals to Be Sad":
 “In the Protestant West today,” writes theologian Ben Myers [in "On Smiling and Sadness"], “smiling has become a moral imperative. The smile is regarded as the objective externalisation of a well-ordered life. Sadness is moral failure.

But this wasn’t Jesus’ way. Scripture never tells of Jesus smiling, though he certainly wept. Instead, Scripture calls Jesus “the man of sorrows, acquainted with grief.” Jesus—who knew better than anyone the promise of eternal joy—was not a jolly messenger of cosmic bliss, but a suffering servant."
I like that, but then the article goes on to say we're sad because of sin, and the cure for sadness is God, who will end sadness. 
Which is rather circular and brings you back to the reason evangelicals think you shouldn't be sad in the first place, eh?

I am sometimes sad because of "sin," if I translate "sin" to "lack of skill" (lack of skill at opening our hearts, using our brains, and washing our hands). 
After all, I gave up writing the garbage book because I couldn't stand looking at our crushing, collective lack of skill.

But I'm not thinking of this sadness of mine as something that I need to avoid or cure, but as a natural response to loss––plain old grief, in fact––that deserves its due.

Even though I do try to wriggle out of it, because it doesn't feel good, at heart I know how to be sad.

It starts with letting myself sit with sadness. Dare to be sad. Be a lump.

Think of heart ache as another muscle cramp: stretch into it. Gently.  

Like Rumi's advice to welcome sorrow when it arrives at your door,  in his poem "The Guest House".
 
Or, for me, Bridget Jones singing "All By Myself" is  a pretty good picture of what I mean by leaning into sadness:


Maybe some tapioca pudding would help? Not straight out of the fridge, let it warm up to room temp.
I mean, however I might treat a sad, tired, hurt child, try that.

Eventually I've always found that sadness passes (different than depression, which can be relentless and dangerous)---it drains away. 

And then I pick myself up, dust myself off, and start all over again. [There begins a whole different list.]

Sunday, August 23, 2015

A Joke

I'm not one for jokes much, or any kind of scripted talk, but Zhoen posted a funny one that reminded me I'd recently laughed out loud at this joke a customer at the Thrift Store told me:

A photon checks into a hotel. 

The night clerk asks, "Can we send someone out to carry your 
luggage?" 

And the photon replies, "No, that's OK, I'm traveling light."
______________________

Bonus: a comic strip from xkcd (good point! I'd never thought of it): "Moon Landing" 

http://imgs.xkcd.com/comics/moon_landing.png 



Friday, August 21, 2015

This is the job I want:

Lap provider

Structure

i. Good News, Bad News Department

Good news:

NASA says the world is not going to end in September
[Really. Do you ever mistake titles of popular news stories with parody articles, like in the Onion?]

Bad news: So, I still have to look for a job.

I  do have three books to edit, so some money is coming in, but I want, need more structure and more built-in human contact.

With Marz moving out (in one week!), and me working on the computer at home, I'll never have to interact with anyone in person.
This is not good for me.

I feel energized to engage [good news: not depressed];
but I also feel vague, amorphous, directionless [bad news: mildly anxious],
like an octopus that doesn't know which way to turn. [Bad metaphor; but, yeah, like that.]

So, I'm willing, but when I look online for jobs, my spirits plummet. 
Shall I write pamphlets explaining how to file a complaint with your insurance company? [um...]

Would I be feel fulfilled Maximizing Information Systems for Market Intelligence? [Why do I doubt it, when I don't even know what that means?]

Alas, the only jobs I'm sure that I want pay no money. 
Like, besides volunteering at the Thrift Store, which I love, there's an independent bookstore run entirely by volunteers, or a nonprofit micro-cinema, or doing activities with seniors at a community center. 

ii. Asking for Help

So, rather than lying around or working for free until I've used up all my savings, I decided to ask for help. Gold star for me!

This week I went to an OA meeting [Overeaters Anonymous, a 12-step program] for the first time in a dozen years, because when I feel formless, I tend to use food to provide some shape, which is truly self-defeating as the shape I gain is bloated. 
I wept my way through my check-in, which I take as a sign that I was in the right place---somewhere I felt safe enough to melt down (it's not about the food).

And this morning I put in a request to see a therapist/counselor, on My Chart [a baffling online health-care thingy, where you're never in the right section to request whatever it is you're looking for].

Even just asking for help felt audacious (in the good sense): 
bold & hopeful, providing something to push against.
Very C-KAPE (Captain Kirk Academy for the Pursuit of Excellence). 

iii. The Past


When I was growing up, asking for help wasn't on the menu.

To begin with, there's not much point in asking a narcissist for help, and my mother, godblessher, was that: charming, engaging, and emotionally expensive to know. 

Growing up, I was her adoring acolyte, casting light on her [very real] excellence.  It was always, always all about her. Even if she hurt you, you ended up comforting her, because she didn't mean it. She never meant it, if it was about you, because tragically she couldn't feel she had any effect. 

(Being a narcissist isn't at root about feeling grand and effective; it's more about feeling invisible & powerless--always on the wrong side of a one-way mirror.)

It was a relief when I saw Metropolitan (1990) and recognized the truth of this line:


I mean, how crazy is it that when I was fourteen my mother wanted me to reassure her that if she killed herself, I wouldn't hold it against her?
And, how sad is it that I did reassure her? 
[In fact, I don't hold it against her, but, come on!  That's so . . . I don't even know. At the time, however, it felt perfectly normal--her s.o.p.]

Then, in the 1970s, high school teachers weren't much . . . encouraged? empowered? to watch out for kids' mental well-being.

A friend who teaches high school in another state was telling me about how hard she'd worked to help a depressed student make it through this past year. (And not just the one, either.) 
It's a terrible burden on teachers, of course, on top of everything else they need to do, and she was wondering if more kids are depressed or if the school system just is more attuned to it.

I don't know, but I was amazed at all the help she and other teachers gave this kid. 

It wasn't like that in the 70s, at least not when I was a depressed high schooler. In tenth grade––the same year my mother asked me for permission to kill herself–– when I skipped certain classes for days at a time, two teachers took me aside for a talk.
They did not ask, "What's wrong?" 
They told me they were failing me. 

What was wrong was obvious: I was a bad, lazy person.
[Thank you, Mr. Spock, for suggesting otherwise.*]

Sometimes I hear people complain that kids these days are coddled in school.  Maybe so, and that creates its own problems, but I say better coddled than ignored.

iv. The Future

So, I'm feeling kind of sad and a bit drifty, but I'm also feeling hopeful and confident about the future.
The good news is that while I'm not a champion at asking for help,  at least I get the concept (unlike my poor mother). 

And there's a ton more help available than when I was in high school.  I've called on it before, and I know it works (if I work), and I know that this––this . . . life, really –– is ongoing work that everybody faces (or doesn't). 
And it's good work, if you're lucky. And really, I do feel lucky. 

I am not, in fact, a formless, directionless creature. For today, anyway, my totem animal is the wonderpus octopus
(below), moving right along. Isn't this cool?



___________________
Hm, Yes, it's cool, but on reflection, it's too speedy and elegant to represent how I feel today. I'll leave it up, but in fact my totem animal today is this hop-along baby rhino:



____________________________________
  
* As Wil Wheaton wrotein his tribute to Leonard Nimoy:
"In ways that I couldn’t articulate at the time, I wanted to be Mister Spock because if I was, I could be myself –– quiet [not that I, Fresca, am quiet], bookish, alien to the people around me — and it wouldn’t be weird. It would be awesome."

Thursday, August 20, 2015

What I'm Reading



1.  Paddle Your Own Canoe: One Man's Fundamentals for Delicious Living, Nick Offerman (2014)

Amusing though repetitive, Offerman (Ron Swanson on TV's now defunct Parks and Rec) champions doing stuff with your own hands, as well as touts the wisdom of leaving well enough alone.

"Touts" sounds negative, and he is a bit of a badger, but mostly I agree with him. I am glad, for instance, to learn that some men do not like the trend of shaven pubic hair (Brazilians, etc.) on women. "Bring back the bush," Offerman writes. 

2. Railsea, China Miéville (2012)

An immensely imaginative tale of a future world, like a post-apocalyptic Moby Dick,  but I stopped reading this for the same reason I stopped reading Dune
the underground creatures––sandworms in Dune, giant moles here––were just too disgusting. I kind of hate that they were  even introduced into my brain.

3. God on the Rocks, Jane Gardam (1978, shortlisted for the Booker prize)

Highly recommended!
I'd never heard of British novelist Jane Gardam (b. 1928) until I picked up her Queen of the Tambourine at the Thrift Store.  
Since then I've also read Crusoe's Daughter, Faith Fox, and The Flight of the Maidens, and I'd recommend them all, but especially Crusoe's Daughter, which Gardam also says is her favorite.

With authors like Gardam, ordinary social circumstances can be as riveting to read about as post-apocalyptic or other extraordinary ones.
Gardam often writes about people--often women and girls--who are by virtue of [ordinary] social circumstances emotionally and intellectually in a condition similar to Robinson Crusoe's, or Jane Eyre's––i.e., marooned, and having to live on their wits. 

But, Gardam says  [in the Guardian], "We never know what the hell we're writing about, not even when the book's over."


4. A God in Ruins, Kate Atkinson (2015)

This follows Teddy, the brother of the main character in Atkinson's Life After Life, a novel that messed around with time warps, interestingly but unsuccessfully---like an ambitious cake that didn't rise but still tasted good. 
I've just started it, but AGiR appears to take place in regular time, though there's some time shifting. Teddy grows up to be a pilot in WWII who is sure he's doomed to die, . . . but then doesn't. 
Good, so far.

5. I haven't been keeping up with my plan to record all of What I'm Reading in 2015. I've missed a whole pile-up of books, now returned to the library.
They included Harper Lee's Go Set a Watchman, the first draft of the book that became To Kill a Mockingbird.  

I only skimmed GSAW--it's not very engaging, but I entirely agree with Ursula K. Le Guin's great blog review "A Personal Take on Go Set a Watchman" that it was a missed opportunity to deal with the complexities of living among and even loving people you don't agree with (in this case, Scout/Jean Louise goes back home in her twenties and confronts Atticus's acceptance of racist norms). 

LeGuin write:
I like to think of the book it might have been, had the editor had the vision to see what this incredibly daring first-novelist was trying to do and encouraged and aided her to do it more convincingly. But no doubt the editor was, commercially speaking, altogether right. That book would have found some admirers, but never would it have become a best-seller and a “classic.”  It wouldn’t have pandered to self-reassuring images of White generosity risking all to save a grateful Black man.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Live Alone and Like It

At Jill's wedding ^ Maura, bink, and me


Oh, dear. I'd forgotten that conversational style so common among the males of my species: not asking questions
Chatting with men at the wedding reminded me. 
1936
If a person over fifty hasn't learned (for whatever reason) how to make social chat by asking questions such as, 
"So... you a friend of the bride or the groom?" they may be an altogether lovely person, but we would not be happy together, 
my conversational style being  . . .
*googles "conversation styles"*
. . . here we go:
elaborate and personal.

I'd like somebody to love, yes, but I'm going to focus on living alone well, like I used to.

___________

Review of Live Alone and Like It: here
["Her core message remained the same. Independence was something women needed to declare and fight for throughout their lives."
 

Monday, August 17, 2015

"Maybe we're all happy."


Fat City (1971, dir. John Huston, USA) is the best movie I'd never heard of until last week when I saw it as part of a Jeff Bridges retrospective. A story about two amateur boxers, one man coming down, one rising, it's Taxi Driver + Rocky = brutal, but sweet-natured. 

Fat City is a study in the inept tenderness of men, and the cunning of women who exist like little fur-bearing animals. I've never seen a movie that captures, as this one does, how boring real physical pain is: it's as sexy as mouth-breathing when you have a cold. Yet the film is beautiful to watch, too, with its 1970s' washed out colors and the men's unthinking grace.

Everyone is broken, and nobody can save anybody;
but they do try, as Kris Kristofferson sings over the opening credits, to help each other make it through the night. 
And in their trying lies the reason you leave the theater wondering if it's OK to smile in front of other moviegoers (if you're lucky enough to see it on a big screen), instead of fingering your kidneys to see if they're bruised.

After Esther and I went to see Fat City, she requested I embroider the line Maybe we're all happy, said with unintentional humor by Billy (Stacy Keach, below left), the failed alcoholic boxer, to the up-and-coming baby Jeff Bridges. (All the humor on the part of the characters is unintentional.)


These guys are as happy as they look, but far kinder, for all the good it does them.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

"These Days" [finished]

This could use a little more work, but Jill's wedding is in 3.5 hours, so I am calling it done. I consider it an embroidered card.
  Inspired by Jill's wedding, I've been telling friends I want to get married too (or, anyway, to live in love with someone). 
Several people have asked if I'm going to look online.
 

No. 
No, I am definitely not.

I'm not opposed to online dating, but I did a little personal-ad dating a dozen years ago, and I didn't like it: 
I'd expected to feel rejected, but what I hadn't considered is how much worse it feels to reject someone else, myself.
Ick.

I'm not really a fan of shopping lists for love either, but there are a few things I'd especially like. (Probably most of them are optional.) For instance, I'd really, really like someone to read in bed with.
And, call me old fashioned, but in my dreams this person would also be reading something that doesn't glow in the dark.