Thursday, September 30, 2010


I've just started reading one of the books I've borrowed from Anna: Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, by Barbara Kingslover. It is wonderful so far. Stunning. Apply almost any positive adjective you like. I am only thirty pages in and already I've wanted to type pages and pages of it out for you, but here is an excerpt, the most recent (but not the best) that I've read and fallen for:

"Pushing a refrigerated green vegetable from one end of the earth to another is, let's face it, a bizarre use of fuel. But there's a simpler reason to pass up off-season asparagus: it's inferior. Respecting the dignity of a spectacular food means enjoying it at its best. Europeans celebrate the short season of abundant asparagus as a form of holiday. In the Netherlands the first cutting coincides with Father's Day, on which restaurants may feature all-asparagus menus and hand out neckties decorated with asparagus spears. The French make a similar party out of the release of each year's Beaujolais; the Italians crawl over their woods like harvester ants in the autumn mushroom season, and go gaga over the summer's first tomato.
Waiting for foods to come into season means tasting them when they're good, but waiting is also part of most value equations. Treating foods this way can help move 'eating' in the consumer's mind from the Routine Maintenance Department over to the Division of Recreation."

On gratitude.

Maybe it's just me, but it seems like there's something not quite right about people standing around saying "it's nice, but it's just not enough" about all the rainfall we've had this week. I mean, yes, everyone knows that six or so inches is not going to make up for the hundred plus* (or so I hear?) inches that we're down, but seriously? It's been raining for days. I think it's okay to be grateful for that, and maybe even a little happy about it. Nobody likes the kid who, when given a piece of candy, says "Um, thanks, I guess. I wanted a truck of those though."

*This was said in reference to a lake, by the way. Not to our annual rainfall.

Two things.

First, I realized after posting that I put up the Neil Gaiman thing right after I wrote about how much I love the rain. So if you are interested in reading about rain being awesome, scroll down a whole bunch.

Secondly, why is the default time to do stuff always 10 am? Every time I ask someone "what time would be good for you?" they always respond with "10 am?" (Question mark belongs with their response, and not with the end of my sentence.)

I know that 10 am is reasonable, but I mean, 11 would be so much better...

Edit: Okay, so actually four things.

3: Today is not the birthday of Bilbo Baggins. That was actually September 22nd. I miss this every year because, I am pretty sure, I always realize that it's September 30th, and think that I have just barely avoided missing BB's birthday, which is (surely!) on 9/30. Isn't it? No. It is not. It is 9/22.

4. I have just run out of Peanut Butter Crunch, and I am terribly upset.

What I haven't finished reading

This is the second part of an interview from Neil Gaiman's website, which I've been working slowly through for a few days. It really is time to turn off the computer though, RAM and all that, so I'm pasting what I haven't finished here. Feel free not to read it--I mean, I haven't either.

What was that like? 

Rock and roll stars have it much better than writers when they're on a tour. Chiefly, I suppose, because rock stars are doing what they do 
"My career has been somewhat like climbing stairs. You know, you learn fairly quickly that everything is sort of the same amount of effort. In many ways, it was much, much harder to get the first book contract. The hardest thing probably overall has been learning not to trust people, publicists and so forth, implicitly. I'm by nature a very trusting person. And its only, very slowly, you sort of learn, 'Well, ok, Publisher X, despite claiming to us that the book was not remaindered, has actually secretly remaindered it into Australia.' "
when they get to a strange city. I'm not a signer, I'm a writer. Although through years of practice I'm getting to be quite a good signer. I really am. I'm not a signer. I'm a writer, and that is the reason why I actually do readings now. I pretty much insist on the readings. It at least gives me something I can derive a small amount of aesthetic enjoyment out of, rather then just sitting there for four hours saying, "Gwendolyn. What a lovely name; how do you spell it?" But what's fun if you're a rock star is you stumble off stage at midnight. Well, you stumble offstage at eleven, by midnight you get to climb on a giant tour bus. You go to sleep on the tour bus and sometime around 3 or 4 in the morning you wake up somewhere else, you stumble out, stumble into a hotel and wake up at about eleven. And then you have a few hours of your day before the sound check and the whole day begins. Whereas, if you're a writer, you stumble out of your singing at 11:30 p.m.. You get back to your hotel, praying that room service didn't stop at eleven. And you set your alarm for five-to-six because you have a 10-past-six checkout because you're a going to be getting on a plane to the next city where you are met by a very nice, efficient media handler lady who will take you to a TV station, a radio station or to your next interview. That's the biggest difference, I think. But the most important difference of all is that, if you are musician, every night you get to play music to people, but if you are writer every night you get to sign somebody's books. I mean the best part of it. I shouldn't sound as if I'm begrudging it or grumbling about it. The part that I enjoy most is a weird two-fold thing. When you're writing, what you hear is abstract numbers. It's a lovely thing to know you've sold 60,000 Neverwheres in hardcover or you've done 300,000 in paperback, or you've done 100,000 of this or a quarter-million of that. That means nothing. Those are numbers. They don't mean anything. They're just numbers. They're numbers that sort of translate into royalty checks. What is so wonderful about going on a signing tour is the numbers translate suddenly into people. Even though I must have signed for only 2% of the people who bought Neverwhere in paperback or whatever. These tiny percentages; they suddenly become real. You get faces. You get to say thank you to them for buying the books. They get to say thank you to you for telling them stories. That is wonderful. That is a magical thing. 

You're so prolific. Have you ever faced the dreaded writer's block? 

Oh, Yes. Continually. But I have good strategies. (laughs) 

Will you share some of them with us? (laughs) 

Sure. Strategy number one is that I always, or almost always, have at least two or three different things that I'm writing at any one time. In my experience, writer's block is very real. You'll be writing something and suddenly it stops. The characters stop talking. You've been happily just transcribing everything they've been saying, and suddenly they sit down and shut up. Suddenly, you are in deep trouble. It does happen. It's very real. 
"I work on a computer as if I'm working in clay. You put down the kind of thing that you mean and then you look at that for a few seconds. And then you work into it, you delete this word, you add that word. You change the tense. You decide that isn't quite what you meant and you use a thesaurus or whatever. There is no discontinuity. There is no break between your first and second draft. There IS no first or second draft. What you have is an ongoing, improving first draft."
It's not something (in my experience anyway) that happens on everything at the same time. It's just that sometimes a project needs a little time to think, a little time to breathe. So what I tend to do when that happens is I always have two or three other things that I'm doing at the same time. I can just go to one of the ones that's working. Which is how I give this appearance of being prolific. I'm really not. I think of myself as a very lazy author. But it's very nice for me to have more than one thing that I'm doing at a time, and being able to bounce between them. The other thing that I would say about writer's block is that it can be very, very subjective. By which I mean, you can have one of those days when you sit down and every word is crap. It is awful. You cannot understand how or why you are writing, what gave you the illusion or delusion that you would every have anything to say that anybody would ever want to listen to. You're not quite sure why you're wasting your time. And if there is one thing you're sure of, it's that everything that is being written that day is rubbish. I would also note that on those days (especially if deadlines and things are involved) is that I keep writing. The following day, when I actually come to look at what has been written, I will usually look at what I did the day before, and think, "That's not quite as bad as I remember. All I need to do is delete that line and move that sentence around and its fairly usable. It's not that bad." What is really sad and nightmarish (and I should add, completely unfair, in every way. And I mean it -- utterly, utterly, unfair!) is that two years later, or three years later, although you will remember very well, very clearly, that there was a point in this particular scene when you hit a horrible Writer's Block from Hell, and you will also remember there was point in this particular scene where you were writing and the words dripped like magic diamonds from your fingers -- as if the Gods were speaking through you and every sentence was a thing of beauty and magic and brilliance. You can remember just as clearly that there was a point in the story, in that same scene, when the characters had turned into pathetic cardboard cut-outs and nothing they said mattered at all. You remember this very, very clearly. The problem is you are now doing a reading and you cannot for the life of you remember which bits were the gifts of the Gods and dripped from your fingers like magical words and which bits were the nightmare things you just barely created and got down on paper somehow!! Which I consider most unfair. As a writer, you feel like one or the other should be better. I wouldn't mind which. I'm not somebody who's saying, "I really wish the stuff from the Gods was better." I wouldn't mind which way it went. I would just like one of them to be better. Rather than when it's a few years later, and you're reading the scene out loud and you don't know, and you cannot tell. It's obviously all written by the same person and it all gets the same kind of reaction from an audience. No one leaps up to say, "Oh look, that paragraph was clearly written on an 'off' day." 

Well, that is unfair. 

It is very unfair. I don't think anybody who isn't a writer would ever understand how quite unfair it is. 

I'm going to move onto a different subject. I understand you've raised money to support the Comic Legal Defense Fund. Why do you feel so strongly about the issues that it represents? 

Because I come from a country without the First Amendment. Because most countries in the world don't have a First Amendment. 
Cover of
Sandman Dream Country by Neil Gaiman
Click here
 for ordering information.
As far as I know it's the only one. The current total of countries in the world with First Amendments is one. You have guaranteed freedom of speech. Other countries don't have that. They have Obscene Publications Acts. They have governments who can tell them what can and what cannot be written. Coming from a country without this thing, I know what an amazing, miraculous, cool, brilliant thing it is. And I also know that it is something that can easily be eroded if it is not safeguarded, or patrolled. A nice, easy place for freedom of speech to be eroded is comics, because comics are a natural target whenever an election comes up. Things are kind of quiet right now, but we've got an election coming up. Which means that I can pretty much guarantee you that at some point over the coming year TV reporters will be standing with graphic novels or comics not aimed in any way at children. Normally these publications have the words "Adults Only" on the cover, or "For Mature Readers" or the equivalent language. They'll be standing in front of a display of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Archie Comics and saying, "You think this is what your children are reading, but they are really exposed to this horrible stuff." 

So the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund is out there preserving and fighting for, and sometimes winning and sometimes losing, the fight for First Amendment rights in comics and, more generally, for freedom of speech. For example, the State of California tax authorities announced that for tax purposes comics were not literature, but were sign paintings, and were to be taxed as sign paintings. It was the longest and most expensive case the Legal Defense Fund fought. We won, which was great. 

On the other hand, there are cases which still scare me to this day that we lost. I mean the Mike Diana case. Mike Diana was a kid in Pensacola Florida who created a self-published fanzine with a readership of maybe 500 people, most of them swapped zines backwards and forewords with each other. The zine falls into the hands of the local police. A police officer pretends to be a kid into fanzines and buys a copy through the mail from Mike -- who suddenly finds himself spending three nights in jail, charged with obscenity, and then let out on bail. The defense brought famous, expert witnesses from New York and San Francisco. The prosecutor pretty much effectively demolished the expert witnesses standing up there and saying "this stuff is art" by pointing out to the jury that the standards of Pensacola, Florida are not the standards of the gay bath houses of San Francisco or the crack alleys of New York. So they found him guilty of obscenity. Which made him the very first American artist to be found guilty of obscenity for their own work, for making their own art. Now, let me tell you what was imposed upon him. Because this is the bit that I find scary. I find it a little bit scary that they found him guilty of obscenity, but I find it a lot scary that the sentence consisted of three years suspended day in jail sentence, a $3,000 fine, a journalistic ethics course to be done at his own expense, psychiatric counseling to be imposed at his own expense, 1000 hours of community service, and he was not allowed within ten feet of anybody under than age of eighteen. Bear in mind, this was a kid that worked in a convenience store. And finally, and this one is thepiece de resistance, (which never made any newspapers, nobody was interested, because its comics and nobody cares about comics) Michael was forbidden under the terms of his sentence to draw anything that anybody might find obscene. The local police force was ordered to make 24-hour spot checks of his place of residence to make sure that he was not "comitting art." You know, to ensure that he wasn't drawing things for his own amusement while he was on the telephone and then tearing them up. The police were empowered, entrusted and ordered to break into his house 24-hour days and make random spot checks to make sure that he was not committing art. Now, we took the course to appeals court. Although we didn't get it overturned, the court at least allowed Mike to move to New York to do his sentence in New York. Where, to be totally honest, the police have better things to do then to break into people's houses at four in the morning to make sure they're not drawing. The case was appealed to the Supreme Court, who declined to hear it. Now considering this is the first case of an American artist being convicted of obscenity and, given the nature of the sentence, you would of thought they would have heard it. But they didn't. If you asking why I'm out there fundraising, why I'm out there manning the barricades, and why I'm willing to do whatever I can to support the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund -- that's why. Because things like that happen. There are erosions of freedom that occur at the borders of literature. If things like that can occur for somebody drawing comics in a way they probably couldn't if it was a novel published by a major novelist (or even a minor novelist publishing something through a real house) it's because those battles have been fought and won. The battles that many people assume were fought and won many years ago are still being fought. 

Have you personally ever had any of your work censored? 

Yes. I once when I was young nearly sent a Swedish publisher to jail for a bible story. I was involved in a comic called Outrageous Tales from the Old Testament where we retold, with a straight face, stories from the Old Testament. I told a story from the book of Judges, in which a man's wife is to quote the bible "whoring about on him." And he sent her away and then he goes and gets her back from her father. He misses her. They stop off in this little village over night. The townsfolk gather around on the road to Bethlehem, which is where they are and say, "That man that came to you tonight. Throw him out so that we may have sex with him. We want to rape him." And this man says "No. No. No. I will not. That would be a terrible thing. That would be a violation of all the laws of hospitality. And he's my guest. But I'll tell you what. He has a wife with him and I have a virgin daughter whose never known any man. You can have them." They get known and abused all night and are left dead on the doorstep the next morning. When the guy gets up the morning he finds his wife dead on the doorstep and takes her home and cuts her into thirteen bits and into twelve locks and sends one to each of the tribes of Israel. So I told that story and did it fairly straight, and next thing I knew I had a Swedish publisher about to go to jail because there is a Swedish law forbidding the depiction of images of violence against women. That particular bible story is filled with images of violence against women. I think it was more or less only the fact that it was from the bible and told completely straight that got him off. 

Let's turn to another subject. How has being a father affected your work? 

Well, I suppose chiefly I get to steal from them. Both of my kids picture books. The one that I'm just about to do now and the last one I did, The Day I Swapped My Dad the Two Goldfish I completely stole them from my two kids. As I did with the next book. The Day I Swapped My Dad the Two Goldfish came about because my son looked at me one day when I was saying something horrible and unreasonable to him like, "Isn't it time you went bed?" He was about eight and he looked up me and his lower lip trembled and he said "I wish I didn't have a Dad." He said, "I wish I had something good, like some goldfish." He then stomped off to bed angrily. I thought, "What a great idea!" The seed having been planted in the back of my head, five years later I sat down and wrote The Day I Swapped My Dad for Two Goldfish which then turned up on the Newsweek list of best books. The biggest thrill I've got from The Day I Swapped My Dad For Two Goldfish is just the fact that its turning up now on the Scholastic edition that kids bring home with them from school. You know if you have a young kid with the list of books they take home from school. That's where it is. It's on that list. I love that. The great corrupting of the youth of America. 

Not just of England (laugh). What do you feel like the greatest challenge you've had to face in your professional life so far? 

I honestly don't know. My career has been somewhat like climbing stairs. You know, you learn fairly quickly that everything is sort of the same amount of effort. In many ways, it was much, much harder to get the first book contract. The hardest thing probably overall has been learning not to trust people, publicists and so forth, implicitly. I'm by nature a very trusting person. And its only, very slowly, you sort of learn "Well, ok, Publisher X, despite claiming to us that the book was not remaindered, has actually secretly remaindered it into Australia. 

Did that happen to you? 

Oh, yes. Things like that. And Publisher B, instead of actually invoking the clause that says "whereby they have to sell off the remainders" had claimed that what they are actually doing is technically not remaindering but deep discounting them, so that they don't have to do that, and so forth. Slowly you learn that you really have to make sure that you have good people looking out for you, and that you think of everything. (laughs) Which is very alien to me. It's not how I think. 

It's sort of counter-intuitive to a creative personality, I think. 

No. I agree completely. I was always so relieved that anyone wants to publish anything I've written. In many ways 
"As far as I'm concerned, the entire reason for becoming a writer is not having to get up in the morning. It's not writing when you don't want to, and writing late at night if you want to."
I feel like the biggest challenge hasn't come yet. Because, if pressed, I would confess that what I'm really scared of is that one day somebody will knock at the door and they'll have a clipboard. They'll say, "Mr. Gaiman?" And I'll say "Yes." They'll say, "It says here that you get to make stuff up and get paid for it." I'll say, "Yes." "And it says here that you can do anything you want. You can go and do fantasy and you can do real fiction and you can do TV, films, whatever you want." And I'll say, "Yes." And they say, "Well it's over. It's done. We've caught up with your game, Sir. You are going to have to go and get a real job. And work normal hours." 

You mean like the two villains fromNeverwhere? 

Yes, Mr. Croup and Mr. Vandemar show up and they say "It's over. You are now going to have to get a real job." I will have gone to that point, seemingly expecting that this writing thing would go on for ages. I'd then think, "Well, it's a fair cop." I would go off and have to get a real job and get up the morning and wear a suit. I suppose I'd secretly make some things up in my head for myself before I went to bed at night, or before I go to sleep anyway lying in bed, sort of making up little stories. But I'd never be able to tell anybody. That's the thing I'm scared of. 

It's not going to happen. 

Well, I hope not. 

What are your pet peeves in life? Do you have any pet peeves? 

I'm not terribly peevy. What are my pet peeves? I don't know really. I wish you could get better radio in America. I wish somebody would give NPR the money to be a real radio station. I'm fairly peeveless. I suppose, right now coming off this tour, I'm not so much peeved as I'm actually kind of thrilled that I can do a signing tour on which I got to break records in most of the stores that I signed at. Yet I'm still managing to do this while somehow still remaining one of those authors who hears, "Oh you write books. What name do you write under?" I feel like I'm getting away with something, because I'm doing it all under the radar right now. So in some ways its kind of a peeve because you think, "Well, wouldn't it be nice if you went into a store and this actually translated itself into people knowing who you are and so on and so forth." (laughs). On the other hand, this is not something that I particular worry about. I think I'm astonishingly lucky to be where I am at this point. 

What projects are you working on now? 

Well, once I've finished recovering from the signing tour, there are a couple of things. There's a children's book that should have been finished by December that's been sitting on hold now for a couple of months. I'm actually feeling very guilty because I left four kids locked in a closet, three of them have been dead for years and years and years. I'm feeling guilty. They've been in there for months and I have to go and get them out. Then there's a big novel and various sorts of other things. Like gettingNeverwhere the movie, which looks like its now starting to gather some serious momentum. The movie is with Jim Henson Productions and Dimension Films. 

What's the latest word on the Sandman movie? 

It's not something I have any control over. Its one of those things when I did the deal to write Sandman it was in those antediluvian days when all rights were owned by D.C. Comics, who is owned by Warner Brothers, which means Warner controls Sandman. I wish things were different, but they're not. 

So that's sort of the end of Sandman for right now, as far as you're concerned? 

Well, yes. I may do a little tenth anniversary project to say thank you to my editor who really wants me to. Karen Berger at D.C. Comics. She's always been the single most terrific editor anybody could ever want. If the time is there, I will do her a little Japanese Sandman story. 

Marvelous. And what's the word on the Phantom Princess film? 

Ah, Princess Mononoke. I don't know what title it will eventually come out under when it comes out. 

How's that coming? That's in production, isn't it? 

Yes, I wrote the English translation. It has a wonderful cast, including: Claire Danes, Minnie Driver, Billie Bob Thornton, Billy Crudup and Gillian Anderson. With such a fantastic cast, one hopes for the best dialogue one can give them. It comes out sometime this summer from Miramax. 

Photo of Neil Gaiman
Is there anything else that you'd like to say to your fans? 

Mostly, I'd just like to say thank you for coming out in such hordes during the signing tour. The most amusing thing I heard was that we'd actually broken the previous record in this store in Portland we signed in. Powell's of Portland, which is a wonderful store. An astonishingly wonderful, huge store. In fact, the previous signing record there had been set by Martha Stewart. Thank you to everybody for breaking the Martha Stewart record. When I heard about that I was enormously amused. 

God is in the rain.*

I so love the rain, though I am beginning to suspect that I may be suffering from a little bit of Seasonal Affective Disorder. Or hormones. Either way.

But I love the rain, and falling asleep to the rain, and waking up to the rain. Rain, rain, rain.


*Quoted from "V for Vendetta," which may very well have gotten it from somewhere else.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Face to the floor.

I never know what I want except that sometimes it's to stop existing. I feel like I must be walking around with "whatever you do, don't hire me" tattooed on my face--unnoticed by me, obvious to everyone else. Maybe they can sense that I don't really want the job; I just want the diversion and the money. People always ask me what I want to do, meaning what job I want to do, and I say I don't know. That's true, in a way, but really the answer is no job. Not that I don't want to work, but that there is no job I want to do.  Sometimes I feel like I wish I could just get paid to be a friend, but when it comes down to it, I'm not even a very good friend even to the people I love most. Maybe especially to them. I don't fit anywhere and I never have, unless happy retrospective moods where I forget all of the bad bits count. I don't want to do anything. Lately I have been finding reasons to dislike or to be angry with almost everyone I have come into contact with. I have been worse than usual about communicating. This past weekend at Jimmy and Missy's it was a full moon and so beautiful, and I meant to go out and look at the mountains in the moonlight--I really did. But instead, both nights, I watched "Most Terrifying Places In America" or "America's Top Model"--neither of which I actually enjoyed--instead, and then went to bed. I just crawl around in circles. I never go anywhere. I don't even sit up. I just keep my face to the floor.

While walking Miley I was holding it together, mostly, then followed her off the road and slipped in the mud, and cracked my knee against a rock. Two minutes later I started crying as I walked up the street through the drizzle, imagining myself talking* about my mental state and seeing pieces of my face, myself, melt off and fall to the ground in the rain, sobbing out loud in the dark, feeling so utterly worthless.

*To David. Of course.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Weekend retreat; poor communication

About the paint: well, I forgot to give him my cell phone number (or perhaps I thought he had it), and though I asked for his, he didn't give it to me. I suppose it's possible that he legitimately doesn't have one, though that seems unlikely. I discovered tonight that he's been leaving me messages on my parents' home phone--you know, the one I never use and that no one ever calls me on, with the answering machine we almost never check--since Tuesday, asking me to give him a call. So that's really cool. Personally I feel that when the answering machine messages failed to get a response he could have maybe driven the half mile to where I've been working and spoken to me, or left a note, but maybe that's asking a lot. I admit and accept that I am speaking at least partially out of defensiveness right now. I don't like to disappoint people and I get really angry when things happen or fail to happen based on really f-ing stupid issues like calling the wrong phones or failing to trade numbers.

The weekend was pretty nice, though I was a bit moody. More so underneath than on the surface I think, because I didn't sleep well: I had bad dreams (not nightmares; just stressful, confusing, upsetting, bad) both nights, and woke up angry and upset each time. I didn't sleep enough either, of course. I never do and I'm even worse when I stay at Jimmy and Missy's and especially with Kelly, because the tv is on and so I watch it. Even if I escape that, I stay up reading. I really need to get over this. It is not excusable.

But the puppies are beginning to waddle around now, and they are adorable. The leaves have begun to change and the mountains are beautiful. The retreat group that came was small, and everyone was very nice and very enthusiastic about caving, climbing, and rappelling. They invited us to their meals (I wish we'd gone, but I didn't drive so it wasn't really my call) and took advantage of the campfire ring, the basketball court, and even the swim hole, despite the temperature. They were a really great group.

I don't feel very well. Goodnight.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Recent confirmations of humanity: words and a video

Recent Bogger "prove that you're human" words*:




It gets better project:

(Shared via Emma)

*For lack of a better term

Thursday, September 23, 2010

I felt that these needed to be shared.

They aren't mine though--they were forwarded to me by my dad from an acquaintance of his, or a friend of a friend. (So please don't steal them, etc.)

Can you tell what this is a picture of?

A dam, yes. Of course. But what are those dots? Let's zoom in a bit.

Dost mine eyes deceive me?

Friend, you are looking at Big Horn Goats. (Or sheep?) And yes, they are walking on the downhill side of a massive dam--Buffalo Bill Dam in Cody, Wyoming, to be precise.

A less amazing thing: I have been wondering whether there is a person employed by Blogger to come up with the words that we are sometimes ordered to copy over in order to post a comment. I ask this because on Blogger pages this combination of letters, while not technically a word, reads like a word. There are vowels and sensical orders of consonants, and often I like them so much that I wish they were words. On other sites I am forced to pound out things like "azx lb," which is far less gratifying.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Scraping paint

Coming home filthy usually means one of two things: the day was spent playing hard, or the day was spent working hard. Both of these are good, so sometimes it's difficult for me to grasp the distrust of dirt and sweat in our society. I mean, I don't like smelling days of b.o. on people either, but I also don't understand the preoccupation that seems to be going around with not touching dirt. I love going to wash my hands and getting to see the water coming off black. I love looking in the mirror above the sink and seeing my face and neck covered in chips of paint, or glancing down and seeing primer on my knuckles. I like seeing evidence that I worked hard.

Twice in the last 24 hours I have been offered (in a vague sort of way*) a home-cooked dinner by a relative stranger. First, last night, by Kaiser (who caught me on an unusually open-minded day in the spring and received my phone number), after I actually answered his call for what was I think the first time. Secondly, this evening, by the friend of the people who live above the apartment I'm working on. He hung out on the deck some of the time while I was scraping paint, periodically appearing to ask, "are you still here?" and talk about books and NatGeo specials and jobs. He said he'll be back around on Monday.

All of that male attention is sort of strange for me, but mostly nice. I'm beginning to wonder though whether "I love to cook" is just something that guys like to toss out into the conversation like a baited hook into a pond, and see if they get a bite.

Tonight the James river flowing beneath the bridge was the most beautiful shade of greyish purple I have ever seen. I laughed aloud when I looked over and saw it. How often is the river purple beneath an overcast city sky?

*Meaning "at some point," rather than "right now."

This ended up with a lot of verses. Bear with me.

I don't really have much to say, except that I love Anna Tuckweiller. A lot. I went over to see her for breakfast this morning (which is a testament to my love, really, because she lives 20 miles and two tolls away), and left around 5:40 pm. She does this thing where we talk about each other's stresses lately and then she restores my faith in God and humanity. It's pretty nice. The side effect of all this though is that I now feel compelled to have lunch with David and apologize for walking all over his boundaries (or trying to, though he held the line pretty well in most circumstances) for the last three and a half years or so. I feel pretty bad about it. I have to admit though that some of the time there is a small part of me hoping that he will see my contrition and decide that maybe a relationship isn't such a bad idea after all. I feel that I should admit this in the interest of honesty and healthy self-sabotage.

We talked for a while about all of the arguing and disagreeing and selective interpreting that goes on within the church, and came, perhaps, to the wavering conclusion that when Jesus stated that he came not to abolish, but to fulfill the law, this fulfillment came in the teachings of love. I don't know, it's a confusing verse. But I have long been irritated by the fact (and evidently so has Anna) that people get ALL UPPITY about the, what, four? verses in the Bible that make reference to homosexuality, and skillfully ignore any and all verses that speak out against things like cheeseburgers, polyester, overeating, backtalk, and so on. Some people also spend a lot of time making cases against women acting as ministers (often, largely with verses taken from the writings of Paul), though there are also verses like

"Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have stripped off the old self with its practices and have clothed yourselves with the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge according to the image of its creator. In that renewal there is no longer Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave and free, but Christ is all and in all. As God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. Bear with one another and, if anyone has a complaint against another, forgive each other; just as Christ has forgiven you, so you also must forgive." (Colossians 3:9-13)* Of course, a few sentences later he (Paul again) says, "Wives, be subject to your husbands. Husbands, love your wives and never treat them harshly." So maybe we should work with what Jesus said instead. I mean, I'm sure Paul was a great guy and everything--he was a disciple after all--but he was also a reformed Jew-murderer. Also, disciples were known to say things that irritated Jesus at times. So let's backtrack to the gospels.

Jesus says probably just as many things I don't want to hear as Paul does, such as "enter through the narrow gate, for the the gate is wide and the road is easy that leads to destruction, and there are many who take it. The gate is narrow and the road is hard that leads to life, and there are few who find it." (Matthew 7:13-14)
But then, he also says "Come to me, all you who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light." (Matthew 11:28-30)

I am as guilty of selective reading, I suppose, as anyone else. Unfortunately this whole thing seems to be set up to require such an approach. Anyone who says otherwise is, in my opinion, blind, lying, or more poorly educated even than myself. But if I am going to have to either read selectively or give up faith, I much prefer to live a life of faith and of LOVE, above all. I choose to refuse to live out a faith of fear, though there is certainly still quavering in my life. I accept and act to the best of my ability "judge not, lest ye be judged" (Matt 7:1), and "Then Jesus cried aloud, 'Whoever believes in me believes not in me but in him who sent me. And whoever sees me sees him who sent me. I have come as light into the world, so that everyone who believes in me should not remain in the darkness. I do not judge anyone who hears** my words and does not keep them, for I came not to judge the world, but to save it.'" (John 12:44-47)

Lastly, I carry this around in my mind: Jesus was asked, "'Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?' Jesus said to him, 'You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.'"

*It continues in verses 14-15, "Above all, clothe yourselves in love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in the one body. And be thankful."

**Hears/accepts. That's key, as you'll see if you read the next verses: "The one who rejects me and does not receive my word has a judge; on the last day the word that I have spoken will serve as judge, for I have not spoken on my own, but the Father who sent me has himself given me a commandment about what to say and what to speak. And I know that his commandment is eternal life. What I speak, therefore, I speak just as the Father has told me."

I think I reserve the (highly controversial) opinion though that Jesus, as a human, might have been the slightest bit fallible. I am not really sure about this, but it does seem as though he may have contradicted himself once or twice. Regardless, I don't really think my convictions about unconditional love are hurting anyone. It makes my life better. I will hold onto it.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Sometimes I try in vain to tell myself

that I should have majored in something other than English. And it's true that I easily* could have done so--but in my soul, down to my toes, I am a born English major. My blood pressure rises when I see misuses of "to/too," "your/you're/your," "then/than," and so on, or when I see comma splices or inappropriately placed apostrophes. I cringe when I hear a person say something like "Mom took Angie and I to the store," or "me and her are going out." I correct mispronunciations. I am incapable of reading anything without proofreading it at the same time. I gave up Terry Brooks in high school (middle school?) because though he tells good stories, his books have grammatical errors scattered throughout. I almost did the same with Christopher Paolini, except that his are usage errors. Tonight I had dinner out with a friend after her choral recital, and I was so amused by the fact that one of the cheesecake descriptions was written with an enthusiastic exclamation point that I had to share my discovery with her. She was, of course, supportive but unimpressed. I spend time turning words and phrases over in my head, considering possible origins of words or turns of phrase, and trying to figure out how language developed. I get phrases stuck in my head more often than songs. It's an issue.

Also, I was almost giddy when I realized on the way home that I could, like**, get on the library catalog from here and request Terry Pratchett audio books. Unfortunately the selection is rather limited. I requested Unseen Academicals, by TP, Good Omens, by TP and Neil Gaiman, and Anansi Boys, by Gaiman. I was about to request more but I thought maybe I shouldn't be greedy.

I am considering a subscription to an audio book website. They have those! I discovered so this afternoon! Will wonders never cease??

*"Easily" here meaning "with some small effort," and is differentiated from the "almost did it in my sleep" easy of majoring in English.

**Please know, or at least pretend, that wherever this is inserted (at least in my writing, and usually in my speech), it is inserted for effect. (I.e., not because I talk like a valley girl. Much.)

Monday, September 20, 2010

attn: Association of English Majors

I saw one of these books years and years ago in some random store, and I don't remember why I didn't pick it up. I wrote the website down but lost it, and later was unable to find it on Yahoo!. (This was pre-Google. It was that* long ago.) I remembered it, and found it just now:

Are you a librarian? A teacher? An English major? A literature lover? Semi-literate?

If so, go to the website.

I really want there to be an English class somewhere that uses this as a project. Maybe my dad could try something with it...

*I do apologize for the italics-oriented fixation I seem to have picked up lately. Maybe there's a cream for it or something.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

I get to use the tag "work" on this post!

I prepped walls and painted primer for seven and a half hours today, and I listened through the entire Wrinkle in Time audiobook, as well as the entirety of the "Playing for Change" cd and most of the only "De Temps Antan" album that I own. Bossman left around... 4 maybe, I guess? So I was there for a good 4.5 hours by myself, and it was a little bit glorious. Possibly I could get used to this.

For dinner once I finally came home at 9:30, there was (is) delicious roasted chicken thighs with vegetables, and rice artfully overcooked so that it stays together in lumps. I rather like it that way, actually, so I suppose it isn't technically overcooked, after all.

At church this morning was a sweet-seeming man who played the electric keyboard and sang songs before and after the body of the service. When he was first up there he said something like, "I don't usually talk when I'm up here because I have a fear of communication, but I wanted to say that..." and the rest is lost to me. Typical, that I'd forget the part that's supposed to matter. I remembered the beginning though because, as some may know, a fairly sure way for a guy to attract my interest, at least momentarily, is to confess or seem to exude shyness. As soon as his songs were over this guy (Brian? His name started with a B) practically fled the stage without a word, and I watched to see where he sat.

After everything was over I went up and thanked him for singing, and he thanked me, saying that not many people ever say anything about it. He introduced himself, asked if I usually came to the services, I said sometimes, etc. He is shy. He seemed to be interested in talking to me but I was an emotional wreck at the time (had a five minute throwing stuff/crying fit as soon as I could get out of the building and hide out of sight of the parking lot), and neither of us had much to say. He seemed very sweet though. Unfortunately I couldn't really judge his age and don't really have any way to find out without seeming like a complete creep/jerk. I guess I'll see him in a couple of weeks though, as I'll be leading a caving trip up at Camp this weekend.

Friday, September 17, 2010


And I love those nights when you step outside and the air is just slightly cool, and smells of fabric softener. I have no idea why this is, as I do not use fabric softener myself and I generally dislike smells that cover over those of nature--but the fact stands.

As I returned from my walk with Miley, the phrase "vox populi" sprang into my head for no reason that I can easily discern. It got me thinking though about the common usage of certain Latin (or other non-English) phrases--why say "vox populi" when a lot more people would understand "voice of the people"? Why "mea culpa" or "pax vobis cum" rather than "my fault" or "peace be with you*"? I came to this conclusion: the use of a foreign phrase adds several things to any statement.

First, it says "I can speak another language, sort of. Can you? Let's be cool together."

Also, it's fun. Sometimes. A good example of this would be the Facebook group entitled, "Pour everybody qui adore Franglais...a lot."

This next is true especially of Latin phrases, but not exclusively: using a foreign translation says to one's audience, "This is important/emotional. Take me seriously."

And lastly, true pretty much only for Latin, using an untranslated phrase like "vox populi" states to the world that your chosen phrase has gravitas. This phrase is ancient, and therefore high-minded, time-honored, and, most importantly, important.

*That's you(pl) by the way, not just "you." As in, "peace be with y'all" or "peace be with you's guys," for lack of a better translation.

Also, more on my bff Terry Pratchett

From a reddit thread on whether he/she should read Pterry*, and specifically on whether Terry is similar to Neil Gaiman (who is also awesome):

"He sometimes is, except that Pratchett doesn't consistently write about the alienated and slightly pathetic main character. You know, that guy who was in that book, who has a job he hates, trouble with his love-life and generally feels out of touch with things until something strange starts happening and he discovers a world beyond ours, before it turns out that he is destined for greatness and the hottest stuff since the invention of fire."

A job.

A little bit of excellent news:

I have temporary employment. Beginning tomorrow I'll be helping some family friends re-paint their rental properties. I don't know how much work there will be or how much they'll pay me, but it sure beats sitting around the house, which actually pays nothing, if you were wondering.

I also heard that there's a coach who works at the same school as my father who has a sudden need for someone to watch her twin 18 month old boys after school. It's not really what I was looking for, but if she's still looking by the time I can get in touch with her (I've emailed but couldn't get her number), I'll take it. I'll also be leading a caving trip for a retreat next weekend with Maria, and possibly puppy-sitting again for a day.

In other news, here is something unsettling. I have no idea where Iva Messy gets her random smorgasbord of unrelated topics and information, but she does post some interesting stuff sometimes. This in particular is more of what's been thrown around for years now, but with some vague scientific backing and some specific names.

Also, an interview with Terry Pratchett, or at least an account thereof. For me this is like guiltily sneaking a piece of chocolate and hiding it behind the broccoli--I love reading things by or about TP, and I am so sad (for him and also for myself and my book collecting habits) that he has Alzheimer's, but at the same time there is a part of me that, when reading this, eagerly studies the psyche and coping mechanisms of a not-particularly-old man who has been diagnosed with the disease, and notes with interest the fact that he can still sign his name, but is otherwise unable to write at all. Brains are fascinating.*

Lastly, I'm not very big on politics, but I am all for this kind of humor.

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
March to Keep Fear Alive
Colbert Report Full Episodes2010 ElectionFox News

*If anyone is ever looking to buy me a present, please allow me to direct you to Oliver Sacks. I have already read The Man Who Mistook His Wife For A Hat.

I never fail to be amazed by the tags I have not yet used. For example, in the past two weeks I must have looked for "humor" six times before finally just adding it to the list. (Don't ask me, I have no idea why.) Just now I could have sworn that there was a "stuff I want" tag, but I settled for "gifts." As though that'll help me find this post in the future.

Thursday at the beach

First, let's get this David stuff out of the way:

I keep wanting to ask him something along the lines of "am I  right in thinking that you've always felt this way? That even when I was thinking that things were great, you were thinking that we shouldn't be together? Maybe I'm just getting paranoid, but now that I think back I remember you making the odd comment to that effect..."

This occurs to me with some regularity, lately. But then, every time, I wonder (as though planning), "So in what situation exactly would I like this conversation to take place? On the phone? In person? Via text?" And of course, I don't want it to happen in any of those situations. That's aside, of course, from the fact that there's no way in hell I want to here his answer to that question. When I was thinking about it yesterday in the car on the way down to the beach, and thought of the implications of what seems like the probable answer (these being that there is little to no chance of there being any "me and David" ever again), I seriously considered vomiting out the window. I decided though that this would make Kelly uncomfortable.*

I was catching up on another blog tonight when I came across an entry about a tearful airport goodbye, which unsurprisingly took me back to the day I had to leave Turkey, and, secondarily, the day David left for Turkey. It took me what may have been several minutes to push through the tightness in my chest enough to remember a) that we aren't actually dating and therefore this maybe shouldn't affect me so strongly and b) that I left Turkey almost three years ago. Cool.

Less depressing/possibly more interesting topic: Terry Pratchett.

I love him. Perhaps I have mentioned this.

I finished reading "Making Money" tonight on the drive home (Kelly cannot stand to ride as a passenger for any length of time, whereas I don't particularly like to drive for any length of time), and it was brilliant. BRILLIANT. I wasn't too taken with a literally nauseating recurring and somewhat graphic reference to gangrene, but it all worked well in context. I just don't like having to control my stomach. But it was brilliant. I swear I had more to say about this five minutes ago...

Oh! Alright. I was going to discuss the humor of Terry Pratchett which is, as I am coming to realize, rather cerebral. I love this. I love that he loves words, and turns of phrase, and he makes them turn flips for him. I love the way he picks up on tiny details of human behavior and hangs entire plot lines on them. I love the way he will parody absolutely anything, including mythology, any brand of science he can get his hands on, and any element of culture he can spin into the tapestries of his fiction. I read one where he referenced the death of Napoleon on Elba, and there are others where he hit shopping malls, rock music, quantum physics, insurance.. (Incidentally, how does one end a list like this? There isn't really a good way. "Etc" is vague and obnoxious. "And the list goes on" seems almost asinine to me at the moment. I'm floundering here.) The one I just finished made economics funny. Also, here is one clue (probably not sufficiently convoluted, but one can hope) that I will leave with you as you (hopefully) read "Making Money": Rain Man.

Lastly, while I was swimming I was, obviously, thinking about the ocean. It occurred to me that if you think about the physics of waves, what's really going on is that when the ocean tries to climb the beach, it trips over its own feet**.  So then I started thinking about common metaphors for the ocean and adding my own. Ocean as mother is pretty well broken-in, and ocean as man (Old Man in/of the Sea; Poseidon/Triton), but what about the ocean as a child tripping over its own feet, or as a pack of little boys rushing at the shore? Then, of course, a storm at sea becomes a tantrum rather than wrath--that brings up its own set of problems. (Mainly in that a tantrum is petty, and a storm at sea is serious business.)
Lastly, the sea, or at least the shallows, almost as a jester, turning somersaults on the sand.

*Sometimes when I write things like that, I wonder whether they come off as an attempt at dark humor when they aren't. I like making people laugh, but usually when I do it is either subconscious or completely inadvertent.

**Think about it. When you trip it's because you were moving forward, and then something dramatically slowed your feet--slowed them so quickly that the rest of your body couldn't catch up in time, as it were--so you fell forward. When the ocean rushes into the land, the sand slows the bottom layer of the water fairly quickly, but the top layer keeps moving fast and falls over the slower moving water.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

For your amusement

I don't know if I have much that they'd want, but I think I really like these people:

(Thanks to and Duotrope.)

Save the Byrd

There are a lot of treasures in this city, one of which is the historic Byrd Theater. It is one of four remaining original movie palaces that still remain in the United States, and it shows second-run movies 365 days a year for $1.99. That in itself is worth saving, even if the place had no historic significance whatsoever--but this theater has been in almost continuous operation since its opening in 1928, and is on both the state and national historic registers. Today it is in need of serious renovations and financial support, so we in Richmond would all appreciate it if you would go to the Pepsi Refresh project and move us on up from 57th place. Thank you, come again.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

On the talents of Terry Prachett

Writer of smart, quick and sharp satirical fantasy that will put you in stitches*.

From a conversation between Lord Vetinari (the somehow practically omniscient patrician of Ankh-Morpork) and Moist von Lipwig (former thief and scam artist, now Postmaster General of Ankh-Morpork, who is being driven secretly insane by respectability) in "Making Money":

"When you took over the Post Office, Mr. Lipwig, it was a disgrace. Now it works quite efficiently. Efficiently enough to be boring, in fact. Why, a young man might find himself climbing walls by night, perhaps, or picking locks for the thrill of it, or even flirting with Extreme Sneezing. How are you finding the lock picks, by the way?"

It had been a poky little shop in a poky alley, and there had been no one in there but the little old lady who'd sold him the picks. He still didn't know exactly why he'd bought them. They were only geographically illegal, but it gave him a little thrill to know they were in his jacket. It was sad, like those businessmen who came to work in serious clothes but wore colorful ties in a mad, desperate attempt to show there was a free spirit in there somewhere.

Oh gods, I've become one of them. But at least he doesn't seem to know about the blackjack.

"I'm not too bad," he said.

"And the blackjack? You, who have never struck another man? You clamber on rooftops and pick the locks on your own desks. You're like a caged animal, dreaming of the jungle! I'd like to give you what you long for. I'd like to throw you to the lions."

Moist began to protest, but Vetinari held up a hand.

"You took our joke of a post office, Mr. Lipwig, and made it a solemn undertaking. But the banks of Ankh-Morpork, sir, are very serious indeed. They are serious donkeys, Mr. Lipwig. There have been too many failures. They're stuck in the mud, they live in the past, they are hypnotized by class and wealth, they think gold is important."

"Er...isn't it?"

"No. And thief and swindler that you are--pardon me, once were--you know it, deep down. For you, it was just a way of keeping score," said Vetinari. "What does gold know of true worth? Look out the window and tell me what you see."

"Um...a small, scruffy dog watching a man taking a piss in an alley," said Moist. "Sorry, but you chose the wrong time."

"Had I been taken less literally," said Lord Vetinari, giving him a Look, "you would have seen a large, bustling city, full of ingenious people spinning wealth out of the common clay of the world. They construct, build, carve, bake, cast, mold, forge, and devise strange and inventive crimes. But they keep their money in old socks. They trust their socks better than they trust banks. Coinage is in artificially short supply, which is why your postage stamps are now a de facto currency. Our serious banking system is a mess. A joke, in fact."

"It'll be a bigger joke if you put me in charge," said Moist.

Vetinari gave him a brief little smile. "Will it?" he said. "Well, we all need a chuckle sometimes."

I do hope that you read all of that. There are points of amusement scattered liberally throughout like funfetti. Nobody wants to miss out on funfetti. Read it.

*Did you see that? I have no shame. Ten points if you know what I'm talking about.

And back to Taylor Swift for a moment...

I'm sorry, okay? Now that I've been reminded of her existence, I keep listening to this song over and over. Also, I found this:

Don't judge me.

Did anyone see that note on my last entry?

The one where I threw a fit about being called 20 minutes before my alarm was to go off, and then a guy(?) from Portugal commented. All I have to say is this: I love Google Translate. Speaking of which:

Let me know if that image doesn't work. It's the latest xkcd. It is wonderful.

In other news, I interviewed today to be a lifeguard/swim teacher. And I actually filled out an application for DSW, rather than taking one home and throwing it away.

Just a tip

For anyone who, for some crazy reason, doesn't want to seriously piss me (or hell, possibly any other normal person) off first thing in the morning: unless there is a life-and-death situation which can be averted by this action, DO NOT EVER, under ANY CIRCUMSTANCES, call me at 7 in the morning. This goes quadruple if the reason you are calling is to ask me whether I called you yesterday.

Yes! I called you! Once, I wanted to know where you hid the coffee, because Jack was coming over and wanted some. Then, because you hadn't told me, I wanted to know whether you would be home yesterday or today. See, you can tell that I called you because you have missed calls from me. You know this. No, I did not leave messages. You know why? Because it WAS NOT IMPORTANT.

So now, you can be fully satisfied in 1. the knowledge that I did, in fact, call you yesterday, and 2. the full knowledge that now I am lying in my bed almost blind with rage, totally unable to fall asleep again because I am so overcome with anger that this has happened again, and again for no reason. It's even better when, as usual, I was unable to fall asleep until, oh I don't know, maybe 2:30 or 3 am, and then slept not particularly well after that; or if, for example, I already had to get up at 7:30. Or maybe even both. I just love it.

Night walks

Obviously eleven pm is not a good time for a yappy little dog to be doing her party popper noisemaker thing, right? The only way to keep Miley from barking at the beginning of a walk* is to throw the front door open and hit the ground running. While I still keep forgetting and wearing my flip flops rather than tennis shoes, tonight I did at least remember to throw on the front porch light to prevent a barking vs neck breakage conundrum on the (brick) front steps. I clipped the leash, pulled the door open, and flew out into the fresh darkness. We were out of the yard and halfway down the block before I heard the screen door slam.

*Assuming she hasn't been outside within the past hour or two, and I am so not willing to walk her every two hours after sundown just to prevent this--especially considering that if she doesn't get walked late at night, somebody is getting woken up at 4 or 5 am.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Yet another profusion of disparate pages

I have this mental image of a soft rain of web pages like crisp autumn leaves tumbling down onto you, sitting on a big pile, throwing your hands up and grinning at this sweet earthy wealth.

This might be because I currently don't really have a life. Also, the word "profusion" does things to me.


Flickr links:
Always a love of mine. I go here when I'm in a mood and the only thing for it is to stare at something beautiful.
Another excerpt from the photostream of Chip Phillips. I found him yesterday and I don't have bookmarks on this computer.

I like old buildings, too.

This is horrifying. I am not one who damns the entire church or Catholic church for these scandals, but I most certainly do think that this growing mass of evil in the very heart of the church means something. I most certainly do think that the authorities of the Catholic church need to do something, make some serious changes and not just speak individually to priests who made "mistakes." This has gone far past something that can be treated as an individual issue, or as separate incidents. This is a plague in the church, and they're trying to treat it with Tylenol and Band-aids.

This is also rather unsettling. I don't want to be a fear-monger, and I don't want to spread misinformation, but really? I haven't read the Koran, but some of the points made here freak me out a little. Watch it, though, and tell me whether you know that any of it is false. I want to respect Muslims as brothers and sisters who worship the same god, but this just doesn't seem...godly.

And here's the best link for last. I'm sure I've said all this before, but although I almost certainly fall prey to it from time to time, one of my biggest pet peeves has to do with people using words or citing references that they really know very little about. It's one of the reasons I tend to stay out of political discussions.

One more thing: a poem posted in memoriam of a blogger (friend of one that I follow, a cancer survivor) who very recently passed away just after getting her NED (no evidence of disease). I didn't know her, but I've seen several posts about her. This one was on the front page, posted by a blogger I'm not familiar with.

For Sarah, Bumble10012001 of Open Diary, who passed away on 9/9/10.

Death is nothing at all
I have only slipped away into the next room
I am I, and you are you.
Whatever we were to each other
That we still are.

Call me by my old familiar name
Speak to me in the easy way which you always used
Wear no forced air of solemnity or sorrow.
Laugh as we always laughed at the little jokes
We enjoyed together.

Play, smile, think of me, pray for me,
Let my name be ever the household word that
It always was.

Let it be spoken without effort,
Without the trace of a shadow on it.
Life means all that it ever meant
It is the same as it ever was
There is absolutely unbroken continuity.

Why should I be out of mind because I am
Out of sight? I am but waiting for you
For an interval
Somewhere very near
Just around the corner .
All is well.

Canon Henry Scott Holland (1847-1918)

It only seems like this isn't about me.

Here's a video that my friend Sally posted on her facebook this evening. Since I keep up with absolutely nothing beyond xkcd, I hadn't realized that Taylor Swift had anything new out. But I love her.

Musically, I wouldn't say that this is Taylor's strongest effort--it follows pretty much the same formula as most (if not all) of her other radio-release songs in terms of everything from riffs to construction. However, the subject matter doesn't quite follow the usual formula, and though I'm not sure how much she creatively participated in it, I like the video. Not that I have a problem with TS's usual "high school love/heartbreak, also I'm really cute" content/video combination, but it was nice to see her put together a song and film a video addressing more serious and meaningful subject matter: namely, learning to live out a life that wasn't modeled by one's parents. Part of the reason for the divorce epidemic in our society (and for a lot of other issues) is that one big way to make sure a child internalizes a behavior is to model it. Children of smokers tend to smoke. Children of abusers tend to abuse. Children of divorcees tend to get divorced. This is not to imply that getting a divorce is the worst thing a person can do, that there are no good reasons for divorce, or that getting a divorce is on the same level as abuse; rather, this is to say that a child who grew up in a family system that ended in divorce has not seen what a successful lifelong marriage looks like, and so does not know how to construct such a relationship in his or her own life. Additionally, such a person absorbs on a subconscious level the idea that when things go wrong, relationships end. Or, as Miss Swift put it in "Mine,"
I was a flight risk with a fear of falling, wondering why we'd bother with love if it never lasts.

This is post #301.

Cupcake time?

But here is the point: why I love Flickr; why I am not totally sold on trying to sell my own prints.

An addendum to the previous: less spitting, more moping


I must simply imagine your hands, which,
across town,
Are lifting your sweet nephew through the air
Are shaving your sweet stubbled face
Are turning the key in the lock
Are plucking the tightly wound heartstrings
of your banjo.

But it isn’t a good idea,
this imagining. Had I any sense
I’d stuff your strong hands
down alongside that rare smile—sun through the clouds—
that melts me, and that sweaty post-run rush through the door,
and that irrepressible love of books and bluegrass
and wild jazz which drove me so sweetly crazy—
deep down into a steep bowl, tamp them down
hard, and set them on fire. I might,
if I had any sense. But tonight I am filling my lungs again
with the blue-black sticky smoke of your absence.

It's okay, you can egg my house if you want--I'd understand. I might even join you. Feel free to slap me across the face and yell "snap out of it!" like people evidently do in Hollywood. It seems to work for them, right? 

Sometimes I disgust* myself. Excuse me while I go vomit**.

*This is less legit self-hatred and more "Seriously? Are you seriously whining about this again?" It doesn't seem so bad in my head. Then I write it down.

**No, I am not bulimic. 

***If I actually hit "publish" in a moment rather than "exit," does anyone (I am particularly looking at you, Sara) have any constructive comments in terms of writing? I guess I could understand the motivation behind something like "just go cut yourself already," but that doesn't give me much feedback on the construction of the poem.