Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Salvage

Yesterday was the weekly tag-sale at the thrift store––my first as a cashier. 

Every week, the donation-sorters use different colored tags to price items. Four weeks ago, new items went out with yellow tags; yesterday shoppers gleaned the sales floor for the remaining yellows, 75% off.

I was working the evening shift. One hour before the store closed at 9 p.m.,  a small group of shoppers came in through the automatic doors.

The manager leaned across the counter and whispered to me, "Everything that's off a hanger or on the floor at the end of the night goes to salvage."

We'd been salvaging all evening, in between customers:

culling the inventory, that is, gathering unsold or damaged clothes and tossing them in gaylord boxes to go the outlet store, their last-chance stop before they're ground up for industrial use or otherwise recycled. 

Why was the manager saying even good, newer stuff would get salvaged?

When the shoppers rolled their full carts up to the cash register at 8:59 p.m., I knew.
They had turned the store over, like creatures who aerate garden soil, leaving in their wake inside-out jeans on top of racks, dresses slipped to the floor, sweaters in the sportswear section and swimsuits in the sweaters, heaps of clothing sliding off fitting-room benches, shoes separated from their mates, and everywhere, everywhere, empty hangers.  

Turns out the manager is not psychic--these particular customers are known to do this. To put everything back in place would have taken us an hour--the cost in labor isn't deemed worth it.

And that, I realized as I tossed a silk shirt with the original manufacturer's $68 price tag into the salvage cart, is why you can find great deals at the outlet store.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Is that a salad spinner, Starsky?

My No.-1-Starsky-Hutch fan friend, Mortmere, sent me this screencap. 

I have no idea what's going on, but it looks like Starsky & Hutch are in a thrift store. (One that carries dead bodies?)
I can't tell what Starky's holding---a handheld mixer and bowl? Looks like he's considering that outdoor grill...

I'd love to find an amateur painting that looks like Starsky, like the one above the TV here. I did find a pair of Adidas like his--the brand is releasing retro styles--but, alas, they were pink.

I haven't bought much at my new job so far---I'm not too tempted by the mostly normal things they carry--not like when I volunteered sorting donations at SP, when I was always bringing home things like the contents of old sewing baskets, with thread nests and stubs of chalk, and one button inside a small envelope with "tan raincoat, 1979" penciled on it (I still have it).
Naturally the donation sorters at my new place don't have time for stuff like that and just throw it out. 

I did get this little ant-eater for 49¢. After last year's Year of Living Fannishly, I seem to be having a Year of Little Animals.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Monday Morning: Salad Spinners Again

Disclaimer: I have nothing against salad spinners!

Good morning! Here I am brushing the kitty I am house sitting:
She is a darling to me, but yesterday I found two baby mice she had killed. 
Someone once said our pet cats are only nice to us because we are too big to kill--unless you are The Incredible Shrinking Man (1957). Here the protaganist's house cat plays cat-and-mouse with him (what a great movie for showing how danger is a matter of relationship):

So, after two friends sang to me the praises of their salad spinners, it was funny that someone bought a salad spinner yesterday.
 
When I told him that I'd been discussing their existence, the shopper, a young white guy, told me a little defensively that he likes them because he grows his own lettuce, and they're good for getting the dirt off.

"I know they're just a single-purpose item," he said, like I was checking his moral credentials.

"So's a toaster," I said, "and I couldn't live without mine!"

I don't have a toaster.  I have a coffeemaker and a microwave, which I mainly use to warm milk for my coffee. But my lie falls under the Allay Customer's Fear of Moral Judgment clause. 

I definitely can be very judgmental, but buying a used kitchen implement that you like does not trigger that side of me. In fact, my moral judge just takes a nap while I'm at work: 
buying anything used doesn't activate it.
This is a great benefit of my job--there're crazy politics behind the scenes, but basically the day-to-day mission is benign.

It even has unintentional good consequences:
I'm experiencing more inter–racial/ethnic mingling at the store than anywhere else in US culture.
For instance, an older black man in line behind lettuce-growing guy asked him what the spinner does, and the guy showed him how it works. 
That may seem like nothing, but I'm telling you, folks in my town don't intermingle much.
Stuff brings us together.

And, mygod, the stuff

We process mountains of it.
Even having worked at Steeple People thrift store, I am shocked by the amount of stuff that comes through. 
SP was a little, single-store operation--this is an international corporation.

Do you know "gaylords"?
I didn't. That's the name for big, heavy-duty cardboard shipping containers, like short & wide refrigerator boxes, originally manufactured by the Gaylord Co. (You can get cheap-o caskets made out of this reinforced corrugated cardboard too.)

Four to six full-time donation-sorters at my store fill . . . I don't know how many, several gaylords every day with donations deemed unsaleable, to send to recycling or re-sale outlets. And then there's the stuff that goes in the industrial trash compactor, which is the size of a small room. (I avert my eyes---once I saw a toy with a face looking out at me.)

I'm loving the social side of my job, but the store's inventory disappoints me a little because––while SP had to put out all kind of donations, from Tupperware bins to diamond tie-tacs––individual outlets like mine cull high-end expensive or vintage donations and send them on to their online store. 
These things sell better online, they tell me, and I'm sure they do, but that means my store is closer to a mainstream department store than a funky vintage store.

Friday, June 23, 2017

What I'm Reading

I. Continuing with the "Freak Yourself Out About People Dying in the Wilderness" theme I began by watching Grizzly Man (guy goes to find himself among bears, gets eaten), I am reading Into the Wild (guy goes to find himself in Alaska, starves to death).

BUT, what I'm really getting from it is a desire to try to write descriptively, like author Jon Krakauer.

How might I write about walking into a Thrift Store?

How to use physical details to carry a story (like how Tracy Kidder summed up his attraction to a girl by writing about how he asked her to apply a second Band-Aid)--what do you put in? leave out?
It's so easy to read, when its done well, but so hard to write-- so easy produce a lumpy mess, or a boring list, or sentimental schlock.

II. 
For the opposite of sentimental schlock, I recommend the new memoir by Sherman Alexie [website], about his mother: 
You Don't Have to Say You Love Me.
I was so eager to read it, when I saw there were 215 holds on the library's 18 copies, I went and bought my own.

Alexie's stories are often funny, at least in part, like in his wonderful Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian
and here he is laughing >
in his "about the author" photo,
but he writes here that the real him is not funny. 


This book is like the real him.
Not funny: he ponders, for instance, what happened to his mother when she was a girl that she would torture a cat to death when she was a teenager.

I'm grateful I read this, but I don't know that I could ever stand to read it again. But I'm going to hold on to my copy so I can hand it to anyone who ever again tells me that suffering is spiritually beneficial, or that people are in any way ennobled by oppression.
Someone once told me it is impossible to break the human spirit. 
I just... what can you say?
"Here. Read this book."

Dog & Cats

DOG: L&M's dog, Astro, has adopted the laundry basket as his new bed.


CATS: I am cat- and house sitting for folks who went to Seoul, S. Korea, and they emailed me this photo of a cat café, 
"where you enjoy your beverage while petting the 20 or so cats":

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Happy Summer Solstice!

I mentioned the traditional arts of Minnesota to Yorkshire blogger Cathy--including Ojibwe beadwork--this is a close-up of the beadwork on an Ojibwe bandolier bag, c.1900--full bag below.
From the MN Historical Society. 

Do you have a salad spinner?

Yesterday at my new job, it was slow so I spent most of the time putting stock away with coworkers, including a young man from Somalia--his English is excellent but he didn't know some objects.

"What's this for?" he asked, as he put a salad spinner on the shelf.

I told him, and he was mystified:
"Why would anyone want this? You can just shake the lettuce."

I laughed and said it was for people with big kitchens who have room for one machine per task.


But that evening, bink, who has a small kitchen, said she loves hers--uses it all the time to wash and also store lettuce to keep it crisp.

(Esther told me she's seen battery-operated ones though, which really seems insane.)

Sunday, June 18, 2017

I love my new job!

I had so much fun cashiering my first shift at the thrift store today.
I got to talk to a steady stream of interesting people buying all sorts of oddball stuff (and perfectly normal stuff too):

a woman who was buying an old ceramic figurine lamp 

this sort of thing, right > > >
stamped "GERMANY" on the bottom, who told me she was going to save it for her annual Mozart Birthday Party;

a little girl buying a cute stuffed chihuahua with her own dollar (it was 99 cents--her dad paid the tax);


a young woman buying gardening supplies because she was helping an elderly neighbor pot some geraniums;


 a guy in a UW T-shirt who told me he'd studied zoology but now works in a bank  ("kinda close?" I said --I took a risk because he seemed like the sort of guy who would think that was funny, and sure enough, he laughed and said, "Yeah, kinda!");


a Spanish-speaker who taught me to say "Do you want a bag?" in Spanish (quieres una bolsa?); 
Etc. etc.

Also, I am thrilled with my own purchase--this T-shirt that reads,
"i has a karot". Only $1.99!

Even though I only worked 4 hours, I am exhausted.
I took L&M out for hamburgers after work, to celebrate,
 and now I am going to go read in bed, ("read," as in fall asleep on an open book) at 6:51 p.m.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Saying What Should Be Obvious, Because It's Not

BLACK LIVES MATTER.

I don't think I've said this here, and I wish I didn't--we didn't--need to say something that should be obvious.
But obviously, tragically obviously, it's not obvious, and it needs to be said. 

This morning I walked into the coffee shop, saw the barista wearing her BLM T-shirt, and then the newspaper headline, in large caps:
"YANEZ NOT GUILTY". [Wash Post op ed]


That's the cop who so obviously murdered black man Philando Castile, here in my town. 

I feel sick.
I'd dared to hope this murder case would be different, for the stupid reason that Philando Castile was a "nice black man"––(the way Rosa Parks's civil disobedience garnered more sympathy from white folks because she was a "nice" and non-threatening black woman)––a nice guy who worked with kids in a lunchroom.

I 100% don't mean any of the other victims of police violence in any way deserved that treatment, even if they weren't nice! NO:
Even if you are a dangerous criminal, the police shouldn't shoot you to death (or even rough you up). The police are not members of execution squads.

I just meant I thought the jury's perspective might shift toward justice this time, since they couldn't shift any blame to Castile
But, no.

How this all plays out in the culture, long-term, we'll have to wait and see.

S-p-e-l-l  I-t  O-u-t

In my fandom book, I used lots & lots of examples of fans of all races, sexualities, genders, body types, etc. I consciously searched for and included them. But I didn't point to that--I didn't say: look, I'm writing about minority representation.

But my editor said I should SPELL IT OUT, specifically say that the "everyone gets to play" sandbox rules I talk about in the book include Everybody Who Is Not a White Male of a Privileged Class/Group, or it wouldn't be obvious that I meant that.

Sigh.
I was angry that that was true, but it is, so I added what feels like clunky writing--"BIG ARROW HERE"-- pointing out what you'd wish you didn't need to point out (and that you wish weren't true).
For instance, that statistics show mass media doesn't fully represent people who are not white men (the statistics are laughable, they're so skewed---like, in movies,
males make up 87% of the people in crowd scenes).

I didn't want to laden the book with the obvious--that non-white and all lives matter, in fandom and everywhere--but I had to agree:
If you don't say it, people won't hear it.

Cards: Flying


Friday, June 16, 2017

Resist! with Victor Hugo Tacos

Best side-benefit of my new job at the thrift store, so far:
in the Lutheran Church parking lot across the street is a food truck taqueria named for Victor Hugo.
"Best Mexican Tacos in the Twin Cities", it reads, and they are sooo good: made to order on the grill, garnished with freshly chopped cilantro and thinly sliced radishes--and only $2.50 each.

I went for veggie tacos and horchata before my orientation shift yesterday; while I waited I sketched the character painted on the truck:
They provide no info about Victor Hugo, and one online comment said, "named for the author of Hunchback of Notre Dame for no reason..."

It's like Google doesn't exist, for some people.

Poor Hugo, remembered for his Disneyfication. Though now I'm curious to watch the Disney Hunchback, based on some Tumblr confessions.

Of course there's also this sort of thing.
???
Well, I'll just have to watch the movie and see if Christianity comes off better than you'd expect.

I did not know the connection between Hugo & Cinco de Mayo. Here's a bit from the letter Hugo wrote after France invaded Mexico (because President Benito Juarez had declared a moratorium on foreign debt payments). 
Hugo was outraged at his country's actions, and he wrote:
People of Puebla
You are right in believing that I am with you
It is not France making war on you. It is the empire.
I am with you. You and I battle the empire. You in your homeland. I in exile.
Fight on, battle and be terrible, and if you think that my name can somewhat help you, use it. Aim at that man's head with the bullets of freedom.
Brave men of Mexico. Resist.
Resist they did--the Mexican army defeating the French army on May 5, 1862. The battle is celebrated in Mexico locally around Puebla but nationally in the United States every Fifth of May.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Support Your Scraps

I feel freed up to start my own things again, now I have a job--it's such a relief to be starting (today!) this thrift-store job that won't fill up my brain, so I can think about my stuff.
Including literal stuff, as in fabric.
 
Anyone who sews will already know this, but I've just discovered (as in, yesterday!) the most wonderful stuff:
"fusible interfacing"--fabric you iron onto other fabric to add strength, support, or stiffness.


I'm so excited because vintage fabrics tend to need back-up support. I never really thought about this until I started to work in thrift, but natural fibers break down over time, especially if not stored in archival conditions.
That's why you shouldn't buy old sewing thread from a thrift store--it breaks easily.

Yesterday I went to the fabric store and got 100% cotton muslin interfacing. Yay! This is one of the circus animals I cut out of old curtains that needs shoring up.

Polyester does not break down, of course, since it's plastic, you know, made from some stew of petroleum & chemicals. Amazing stuff--a fleece pullover I've worn every winter for 20+ years shows almost no signs of wear. 
So, that's nice, except that Americans throw out about 85% of our clothes every year.  Well, I don't, but not because I'm virtuous! I'm lazy, and I hate shopping, especially for clothes; I wear mine until they're rags. And then I use them as rags.

Info ^ from blog Good on You (also an app), about  ethical clothes shopping---e.g. this post: "Fashion and the War on Waste".

II. Writing

My brain is free enough to want to write again too.
(That fandom book--I don't know all why it left a bitter taste, but it did. That has faded.)

I'm reading Good Prose: The Art of Nonfiction by Tracy Kidder--I got it because I admired his memoir My Detachment so much.


He writes akin to how I'd like to write---he doesn't explain a lot, he just chooses the perfect example. 
Like an Economist obituary.  :)

This scene, for instance, where he's a teenager out  on a sailboat with a girl he has a crush on, Mary Anne:
"As soon as she and her family came aboard, I started acting every bit the mariner, raising the sail, trimming the sheet. Soon we were lumbering slowly up Vineyard Sound. Continuing my exertions, I cut my elbow. I went down to the cabin, where Mary Anne had also gone to have a look around. We were alone. I found the Band-Aids and asked her to put one on my cut. She did. "Could you put another one on?" I asked.
End of scene.

Out of all his teenage memories, to select that second Band-Aid... and--maybe even more-- to trust the reader to get it, without going on about it: I admire that. 
I tend to get all caught up in trying to explain things. It's OK to write it out for myself--writing it out is part of figuring it out--but could I craft it a bit afterward, to create a piece of writing, like a piece of sewing?
I'd like to try.

Dylan, Hutch, & Holly

I have an old idea for a fanfiction about Hutch being at Buddy Holly's almost-last concert in Duluth--(it's Starsky & Hutch canon that Hutch (the blond one) is from Duluth--he would have been fifteen)
an idea that got resurrected when Bob Dylan began his Nobel acceptance lecture with his memory of being at that concert (he was seventeen and came down from Hibbing), which he's talked about many times before--certainly his own original material, unlike, you may have seen, accusations that he cribbed much of the rest from Spark Notes.
And maybe he did, but he put his own spin on it, which I enjoyed!

In fact, a theme of Dylan's speech is exactly that, that artists lift material from others. He says what I said in the opening the Fanfiction chapter of my book: 
Homer did it, Virgil did it, even that estimable bard Shakespeare did it: 
take stuff, . . . and make it your own.

The Atlantic, in their good article about the accusation against Dylan, calls his a "collage aesthetic"--I like that. They also quote The New York Times’ Jon Pareles writing about plagiarism accusations against Dylan’s Love and Theft in 2003
“His lyrics are like magpies’ nests, full of shiny fragments from parts unknown.”

I'm not a Dylan fan--I just don't warm to him--but not for that reason. Fair enough to say the Nobel committee made a mistake in giving this guy the award (though I don't think they did), but geez, isn't it a bit unfair to fault the recipient for a speech for an award he never asked for and didn't even seem to want?

For that matter, should Obama have to give back his undeserved Nobel Prize for Peace? 
No. It wasn't his fault they gave him the thing preemptively.

Well, OK, you could fault Dylan for his speech, but I liked it, even if he did riff on SparkNotes. Yeah, it was a bit slap-dash, but he still made them his own. It's not that easy to re-animate dry prose.


Lots of writers borrow stuff, not many can spin it into something you'd want.

Uh, anyway... writing... I had almost forgotten that last summer I'd compiled some background details (yay research!) for the Hutch & Holly story---including what the weather was on that Saturday of the concert, January 31, 1959:
high 0, low –22, average 11
wind 14-17 mph
no precip
half-moon


Fanfiction---it's like fusible interfacing: shoring up material, and shaping it again into your own fashion.

Flier from the Duluth concert via News Tribune Attic:

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

"Artie & Jan" T-shirt (by Marz)

Marz drew this picture of her former roommates' dogs, Artie & Jan, and they (the roommates) turned it into a T-shirt:

Marz says she wants to get married. 

"Who will you marry?" I ask.

"That's the question... " she said. "I'm looking for an esoteric playmate--a Scorpio-anchored Leo to go to the demolition derby with---and they're not just humoring me either. I want them to be the sort of person who if I throw food at them, they'd throw it back at me. I think they'd have to be someone who uses the word maybe --if you present an idea to them, they'd be like, "Oh... maybe," and of course they have to have their own ideas.

On second thought they really couldn't be a Leo to put up with me..."
______

Marz reads this and says, "This sounds hopeless. I don't expect to marry."

Fashion & Flex

Flexible, I

I'm not into fashion at all, and I'm actually glad my job provides its workers with shirts (thrift can be grungy), but maybe I could jazz it up a little? Inject a little fun?
A hat??? 
 
Inspiration: 65-year-old Tziporah Salamon cycling around New York City, from the Advanced Style documentary:
NOT THOSE SHOES ^ THOUGH!
I've got good shoes for standing up, luckily--that was the most important thing when I volunteered in thrift.

I'm looking into exercise tips for my new job, working standing up as a cashier. It's part-time, but I remember it was pretty tiring, so I want to remember to stretch & stuff.


Found an article "Do you work on your feet all day?" that suggests these leg exercises:
1. knee flexes (just bend knee to raise foot behind you toward butt--don't pull your foot up!)

2. hip circles, like doing a hula hoop, but do a figure-8
3. hack-sack kicks: imagine you're kicking a ball with your instep, to stretch your glutes)
4. static calf and hamstring stretches--hold the position for a few seconds

Flexible, II

All of a sudden, I'm busy! I didn't expect this to happen so fast, but
that can be the best time to get things done.

My auntie requested a shoulder bag to carry her iPhone, so I'm planning on sewing up a few bags using bits of vintage fabric (from the former thrift store) into bags just big enough for a paperback book, cell phone, wallet, sunglasses.

I actually carry such bags myself. 

Funny story:
The other night Marz took a free bus to a casino to see Willy Nelson.

People not infrequently think tall, slim, baseball cap and jeans–wearing Marz is a young man. The bus driver addressed her as sir and told her she couldn't bring her small shoulder bag onto the bus---it had to go in the baggage compartment below.

Marz expressed bafflement, since her bag only contained a paperback copy of Letters to Star Trek, and the driver realized she was a woman.
"Oh, sorry, ma'am," the driver said. "That's your purse! You can bring that on."

OK, then.

So, now I'm off to the fabric store to buy "woven fusible interfacing":
material you iron onto fabric to strengthen and stiffen it, yet remain flexible.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Hutch Approves

Mortmere emailed me the best congratulations on my new job:

Great news! Hutch agrees...

Hot Nite, 2009 & 2017

I'm always intrigued with photos that show I am the same person--here below, even with the same T-shirt and wet hair to keep cool on a hot nite in June, 2009 and 2017

My New Job! and a Background for Babar

I got a job!
One I want.
That happened fast, once it happened. I'd put job hunting off --and off and off-- partly because I was recovering from finishing a huge project, but partly that turned into dawdling & dithering & self-doubt ("What's wrong with me that I don't want to pursue a Serious job?"
 Oh, that's right: nothing!)
--until finally last week I felt ready to apply for a handful of things I thought I might like to do.

Yesterday I interviewed for part-time jobs at Subway sandwich shop & the thrift store, got offered both, and took the thrift store job (even though Subway pays $1/hour more). It seemed the best bet, since I worked happily (mostly) at SP thrift store for three years for free. I always used to say I wished SP would pay, even a little.
And "a little" is what this store pays! ($10/hour)

My wish has come true.
Luckily I have very low expenses (no car! friend-owned, little apartment), cheap tastes (second-run movies, used toys), and good State health insurance (plus good health, so far).

Look at the tiny hand-painted scene I found for $1.49, after the interview. When I took it out of the frame at home, I saw it's signed on the back and dated 1967.
 Babar says she painted it. (I think that may not be technically true... but it is her colors.) 
At any rate, when I get my camera back, I want to set up & photograph some little-animal tableaux. I've also started sewing again and am excited to be around source material again. Yay!
I start on Friday, will work variable hours, 20-30 hours/week.

I felt a tiny bit sad to turn down Subway--you know, I'd wanted to make sandwiches, and I think I'd have liked it, but I can't imagine doing it for more than a few months, whereas I could at least imagine the possibility of working at this store longer--even, who knows? conceivably, until I retire. Say I work until I'm (godwilling) seventy--that's only fourteen years:
WEIRD!!!  
My auntie worked part-time at a friend's boutique until she was ninety--kept her active and socially connected--but then it got too painful on her legs, so she retired.

Oh, hey--I didn't realize--the thrift store is part of that old social justice movement of 100+ years ago (like Jane Addams & Hull House), and started by a Methodist, as Steeple People was too.
"We were founded in 1902 in Boston's South End by Edgar J. Helms of Iowa, a Methodist minister and social innovator.
Helms collected used household goods and clothing in wealthier areas of the city, then trained and hired those who were poor (many were immigrants) to repair the used goods.
TOY REPAIRS!!!
The goods were then resold or were given to the people who repaired them. The philosophy is, “Not Charity, but a Chance”.
"Times have changed, but Helms’ vision remains constant: “We have courage and are unafraid. With the prayerful cooperation of millions of our bag contributors and of our workers, we will press on till the curse of poverty and exploitation is banished from mankind.”
So, I take it back: I have pursued a Serious job!!!

Oddly they don't much emphasize the environmental good they do in keeping stuff out of landfills, though in 2007 they launched a Going Green Initiative "to reduce our environmental footprint while preparing workers for green-collar jobs." 
What are green collar jobs?
"Work in the environmental sectors… Generally, they implement environmentally conscious design, policy, and technology to improve conservation and sustainability."

Now I can resurrect my "Tales from the Thrift" too!

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Polka Dots

L to R: bink, Esther, and I all happened to wear polka dots to the closing reception of an exhibit of bink's art yesterday.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

playing card: Flying Squirrel

I made this for my friend Annette's granddaughter who is graduating from high school today! Science & math weren't her forte, so here's a flying squirrel sailing through that hoop.



I don't have my camera back yet--can you see that's a honey bee in the yellow hexagon at the bottom?

chit chat

la la la la
What am I doing?


I am reading exactly zero of the novels I requested from the library.

I tried a few, but I just can't get into novels anymore.

Instead I am reading Tracy Kidder's memoir My Detachment, about his time as a 22–23 year old, serving in the US military behind the lines in Vietnam, gathering radio intelligence.

It's good--more about being young than about war. 
I'm impressed with how he reveals his younger self: 
quoting lies he wrote back home, to make himself look good--that he was watching out for two Vietnamese kids, for instance--and excerpts from the embarrassing Vietnam novel he wrote when he got back that 33 publishers turned down, for good reason. 

Perhaps he's willing to expose himself because he went on to have a brilliant career? And he came to some self-awareness?
At any rate, I like how he looks on his younger self with a lack of judgment that feels akin to affection. 

I feel that affection toward my younger self too, for thinking, on the one hand, that I had it All Figured Out, and on the other, that I would Never Understand Anything. 

II. My Ambitionless Job Hunt

Also, I've started applying for jobs, finally!

I was getting a little worried that I couldn't start applying for Serious Jobs, and was going to use up all my savings. The job counselor had laid out all these great-sounding possibilities--writing for the medical field, doing research, etc.
 Finally I realized I dreaded working in an office, truly felt sick dread when I thought of working full-time at a computer, even doing something interesting.

I told Marz, "I'd rather make sandwiches at Subway."

So then I thought, well, why don't you?
So I applied there
a couple days ago, and I felt such relief.
I don't know that they'd hire me, and it pays terribly--it's a job for high school students.
But I like Subway. 
I eat there fairly often--you can have as many banana peppers as you want. I only want a few, but it's the principle of the thing I like.

My friend Esther told me, "People would be lucky to have you make them a sandwich," which made me all teary. 

I also applied for a part-time library job at St. Thomas's campus (a long shot, as my library experience is 16 years old), and Esther's husband, Kyle, emailed me, 
"You know they're all MBAs over there--if they hire you, you should watch American Psycho to prepare."

I love Esther and Kyle. They are the antidote to my WASP grandmother who didn't like me because I was nothing like her hero Lee Iacocca (the CEO who turned around Chrysler motors).

huh. I just looked him up, and while I don't want to do what he did, it seems he didn't think I should! He said:
"What is it that you like doing? If you don't like it, get out of it, because you'll be lousy at it. You don't have to stay with a job for the rest of your life, because if you don't like it, you'll never be successful in it."
Sensible words---and here are some more from Iacocca answering a question about Donald Trump in a 1991 interview in Playboy [quoted in Auto News]:
Q: What's going on with the business establishment of this country? The Donald Trumps, for instance.
Iacocca: I know Trump fairly well. Now that's an ego that's gone screw-loose, gone haywire. What the business establishment of this country has to do is get away from this new financial-transaction mentality.
I can't believe I'm still arguing in my head with that grandmother, who died when I was twenty-five. 
She didn't understand me at all, so she was wrong about me. Speaking of youthful absurdities, why did I ever give her ideas about me a minute of my time? Lee Iacocca wouldn't!
I am retiring her voice, effective immediately.

Friday, June 9, 2017

Politics is like...

. . . pro-wrestling, certainly, but sausage? 'Cause it grinds up and makes desirable otherwise unpalatable parts?
The perfect pairing with this year of real-life, unbelievably bonkers politics, here and abroad, is the TV show VEEP, which I have been love, love, loving since discovering it this spring.
It's dark comic fiction about the opportunistic but inept vice-president of the United States (Julia Louis-Dreyfuss) and her hench-people that feels like an off-the-wall, behind-the-scenes documentary. 

I tried to watch the British original, The Thick of It, whose creators went on to make VEEP, and I could tell it was excellent and wanted to keep watching it, but I couldn't tolerate the see-sawing sea-sick–making handheld camera work. I wish they wouldn't do that.

Plans for the night: a cup of sugary tea and Season 4. (Season 6 is being aired now, but it's on HBO, and I don't have cable.)

Politics is like... sugar.   The pillar ^ is a piloncillo---a cone of unrefined sugar cane boiled down and poured into cone molds (like maple syrup candy).
It's a piece of political history itself--part of the old sugar/molasses–rum–slaves Triangle Trade. What we do for treats...

I got the piloncillo at Good Grocer, as part of my plan to try new things, especially all the foods they carry that I've never had (like fresh, ripe papaya). A coworker who lived in Costa Rica told me you cut chunks off the piloncillo and melt them in hot liquid, like natural sugar cubes.
It tastes caramelly molasses-ish, in a light and pleasant way.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

More Little Animal Cards

I'm like Mr Dick in David Copperfield: no matter how hard I try to keep certain things out of my work, they will keep turning up. 
King Charles's head in Mr Dick's case, little animals in mine.

I don't really mind, I'd just imagined myself making more sophisticated art cards, donchaknow. As if. These are the things of my heart.

The questions (sometimes adapted) are from an old kids' book I got at a garage sale: Tell Me Why.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

LOL. I blogged (ponderously) about the transmission of feminism this morning, and bink sent me this ...um, "example" from the Onion
Thanks for the levity!
"Trump Voter Feels Betrayed By President After Reading 800 Pages Of Queer Feminist Theory" (2 minutes)


"Make Up a Story"

I. Transmission

I've never cared much about Bob Dylan one way or another, but he's always been there, in the background of my life.

When I was little, I was intrigued by the cover of his Freewheelin' album--I imagine my parents bought it when it came out in 1963, when I was two--anyway, it was always in with our other records. 
I don't remember listening to it, I remember sitting on the floor next to the wood-and-bricks bookshelf--records are heavy, so they go on the bottom--staring at it. 

This Dylan looks like a child to me now, but then the photo represented, I think, an adult leading some form of desirable adulthood. 
The whole aesthetic of it--including the VW van--was an advertisement for the sort of life where you could walk around free and happy on a weekday afternoon--but was it sort of mysterious, even ominous, too--the cold street, the dingy color? Not like the bright Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, which I also would also stare at a lot, and like way more.

I didn't set out to learn Dylan's lyrics, like I did Sgt. Pepper's, and his songs didn't touch me personally, the way, say, Carol King's album Tapestry did when I was ten, but looking at the tracks on this album, I still know most of them. 

Dylan's stories are part of my soundtrack of my life. 
"Blowing in the Wind" is, to me, like Frankenstein--something so ubiquitous, it seems it comes from folk culture, and you're surprised to realize or remember it has a specific author. (I even looked the song up just now, to double-check he wasn't reprising an old standard. But no, of course he wrote it, in 1962.)

Because Dylan has never meant much to me, I wouldn't have bothered to read his Nobel Prize in Literature acceptance lecture except that Michael at OCA quoted some good lines from it this morning. 

So then I read it, and it made me cry, the way he simply gives tribute to telling stories, by retelling stories, and setting them side-by-side with other stories, starting with the story of how he saw one of Buddy Holly's last performances, and how Holly transmitted something to him:
"Something about him seemed permanent, and he filled me with conviction. Then, out of the blue, the most uncanny thing happened. He looked me right straight dead in the eye, and he transmitted something. Something I didn't know what. And it gave me the chills."
Pointing to the storyteller, and the transmission of stories--that's what Toni Morrison and Doris Lessing do in their Nobel lectures too.

II. Toni Morrison

Pretty much most of Toni Morrison's Nobel acceptance lecture in 1993 is her telling a story about an old, blind woman, "the daughter of slaves, black, American, and lives alone in a small house outside of town."

A group of young people approach the woman with a question, and she gives them a sophisticated, show-offy answer, more about her than them.
So they say to her,
"Why didn't you reach out, touch us with your soft fingers, delay the sound bite, the lesson, until you knew who we were? . . .
"Don't you remember being young when language was magic without meaning? When what you could say, could not mean? When the invisible was what imagination strove to see? When questions and demands for answers burned so brightly you trembled with fury at not knowing?
. . . 
"Is there no context for our lives? No song, no literature, no poem full of vitamins, no history connected to experience that you can pass along to help us start strong?
You are an adult. The old one, the wise one. Stop thinking about saving your face.
Think of our lives and tell us your particularized world. Make up a story.'"
III.  Doris Lessing

I've quoted from Lessing's  2007 Nobel lecture elsewhere on this blog, and I even put it in my fandom book:
“Let us suppose our world is ravaged by war, by the horrors that we all of us easily imagine. . . .
It is our stories that will recreate us, when we are torn, hurt, even destroyed. It is the storyteller, the dream-maker, the myth-maker, that is our phoenix, that represents us at our best, and at our most creative.”

IV.
Lately I've been thinking about the transmission of culture. It was a surprise to me when I was a young adult to realize that the culture I grew up with was not stable and everlasting. 
There were little signs--not just the visible changes in refrigerator colors and the width of pants legs, but changes to things I hadn't even realized were fashions, like types of wine. Burgundy used to be the red wine my parents and their friends drank, then it disappeared and my friends drank meant Merlot (until it was disparaged in the movie Sideways, anyway), then... what now? Cabernet ("cab"), I guess?

And big signs, like how rock-n-roll got relegated to the oldies radio stations, and then radio stations themselves morphed into personalized custom
music streaming services (is there shorthand for this?).

Some stories are transmitted continuously, like, while it's waxed and waned in white mainstream culture, there's been ongoing concern for racial equality my whole life, it seems to me (and an ongoing need for it), while other story-lines got dropped––like feminism, which was even repudiated in mainstream culture for a time (I wouldn't say the need for it dwindled, but its popularity sure did)––and these then have to get reinvented--a messy business.

I recently watched a documentary about the beginning of the second wave of feminism (1966-1971), which hugely shaped my childhood: She's Beautiful When She's Angry

It includes footage from the time and follow-up interviews with participants. One woman comments that the United States doesn't preserve its history of radical activism and activists' successes (aside from the American Revolution, but then, those victors became the Establishment). In the 70's, she said, feminists didn't know the long history of first wave feminism that won women's suffrage fifty years earlier. 

When I was working at a collectively run restaurant in 1980, we had meetings every Tuesday afternoon. I remember us talking about how we didn't know how to work collaboratively--even as we studied the theory, what there was of it, it wasn't bred in the bone, right? It wasn't the unquestioned norm we grew up with, and so we shouldn't be so downhearted that we weren't very good at it, which we weren't.

One thing I especially remember is the vicious in-fighting that arises among people supposedly on the same side. It's like if a dog's been chained up and mistreated, the person it's going to turn on is the person who gets close enough to try to help it, not the person who chained it up in the first place, who's nowhere near.

And now, some fifty years after second-wave feminism, I see (on Tumblr, for instance), some of the same self-defeating dynamics among gender and queer revolutionaries.
It's disheartening, but predictable, I suppose, since the theory and practice of Social Change isn't taught in school, isn't transmitted the way business practices are, for instance.

If you want to go into business, it's expected you'll get an MBA or something--there're so many smart tricks, strategies, and actual scripts for doing Capitalism; there's so much wisdom out there about how to establish checks-and-balances and how to run a workplace (not that it's always wisely practiced! ha!); if you want to run a war, there's military training (again, not to say that's applied well!); but if you're a social-change activist, you and your colleagues make a lot of stuff up as you go along, and that's problematic. 

I know there is some continuity and some intentional training among social change folk, but mentoring isn't offered free every Thursday at the library, like Business Training is.

Oops. It's noon and I have to get going so I'm going to leave this half-baked... It's something I've been thinking a lot about lately, so maybe I'll return to it again. 

Till then, make up a story, eh? :)

Monday, June 5, 2017

Jack & Ace

I made two more left-art cards last night.
The Jack amazes me.

 I can't stand to part with these right away--they're so nifty to hold--I'm going to keep them for a while before putting them out. 
(So it occurs to me, if anyone sees one they want as I continue to make them, let me know, and if it's still around, it's yours. They're for giving away, after all.)


P.S. Also, if anyone has any old, worn soft playing cards lying around, I could use some. See, new cards are super-plasticized and not so pleasant to handle or look at (and they're harder to glue on too--I scrape the plastic, to create grip).

Sunday, June 4, 2017

bunny balloon (Left Art from the Castle of Peace)

Painting paisleys to leave around for people to pick up took too long, so, inspired by Art Sparker, today I made playing card collages--of an ideal size & sturdiness to place easily. 

Surprise, surprise, they all turned out to be scenes from the Castle of Peace, where my toys live.

It's the first Open Streets today--throughout the summer, the city closes off a several-mile stretch of a major thoroughfare for a Sunday--so I'm going to place them there---except the bunny balloon, which I love too much to part with yet.

Marz has my camera, so I can't record their placement; I took these photos of my favorites with the (slightly fuzzy) laptop camera.

Saturday, June 3, 2017

potato bag

I like to do physical chores, rather than officey tasks, when I volunteer at the grocery store, like taking the cardboard recycling out. I've started to save some collage material--like the message on a box that reads:
 SQUEEZE BEARS

(The box held honey in bear-shaped bottles.)
Today I couldn't resist taking home this potato sack--I never work this big, so I don't know what I'll do with it, but the paper is so strong, I could sew it into clothing or maybe a carrying bag?
Isn't the design classic? The slight curve of RED RIVER VALLEY...
Also, isn't the light behind me beautiful? It was 9:23 p.m. when I took the photo.

I continue to feel happier in myself, these past couple weeks. At the same time I was blogging yesterday about spending too much time alone, my friend Julia was emailing me to ask me out to dinner with her and her father Tank.

Tank is almost 96, I think, and has no short-term memory, so he doesn't exactly know who I am, but when they got to the restaurant where I was already sitting, Julia asked Tank where he wanted to sit, and he pointed to the chair by me and said, "Next to my friend."

His kindness was just what I needed.
I asked him if he thought people were naturally good, and he paused to think, and then he said, yes, he thought we were. 

After dinner, we sat in a pocket park, and Julia and I hand-sewed until it was too dark and the mosquitoes came out, about 9:30?
Julia took this photo:
She wrote, "Loved admiring the visible repairs here on this building as I sat in the adjacent park handsewing a fix. Wear in, don't wear out. Make do and mend. All of it. "

This evening I looked at the news at it was, of course, dreadful, so I googled "happy news" and spent a couple hours looking at little articles about people helping one another out--and also helping out animals, like baby elephants that fall down wells in India, or a pit bull Ginger rescued from dogfighting that Patrick Stewart & his wife are fostering.


One of my favorites stories shows a police officer who stops a young guy for speeding one morning (caught on the automatic police camera, I guess). 
Turns out the young guy was supposed to wear a tie to give a presentation but didn't know how to tie a tie--so he'd gone to a friend's house for help, but the friend wasn't home. Now young guy is late, and speeding, and untied.

So the cop asks for the tie, which the guy pulls out of his pocket. The cop takes it and ties the tie around his own neck and hands it back to the guy to put on. 
The tail is too long, however, so the cop ties it again.
End of story.

Here's the link. It's actually quite boring, which I loved about it--it doesn't even make you smile or anything--it's just normal human behavior, as normal as a potato bag.
Raymond Carver or Chekov could have written it up.