Friday, December 31, 2004

Good Ideas for a New Year

Solly and others have a good idea -- encouraging Google to turn over funds raised from their AdSense program to tsunami relief. I've sent in my email and if they do it, I'll join AdSense and you'll see little Google ads showing up here. That would be something I can do, because this disaster will not go away soon. This is going to take years. When it falls off the media screen, those people will still be trying to rebuild from nothing. So send an email to Google -- use Sol's boilerplate, since he said it well, or make up your own.

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The end of another year. We are invited to two parties -- two! How did this happen? If I would just stay in the house and not talk to people, I'd never be promising to drive around on New Years Eve. I'd be home watching Godzilla movies (my personal New Year's Tradition).

New Year -- an arbitrary division of time. The whole millenium thing a few years ago, with people predicting doomsdays of various kinds, was just another example of how we give meaning to things that have none, really. Time is a thing apart from our measurement of it, after all. Most people don't realize that hours, minutes, years, centuries -- they are not time, but only units we use to measure time, because we are humans and exist in a finite reality that requires beginnings, endings, and durations in between. There's nothing in particular that makes this day the end of anything, or tomorrow the beginning of anything, except that point so long ago someone decided we'd count from. Check the history of the calendar if you don't believe how arbitrary this all is -- Roman Ceasars and Catholic Popes, among others, have fiddled and diddled around with our method of accounting for the days.

On the other hand, this gives the individual certain power. While there is a lot of power in mass agreement and belief (again, you can check that with your own experience), since things are really arbitrary, you can make a beginning or an ending of anything in your own life whenever you want, and count your days accordingly. New Year is a concept you can apply at any time you need it -- you don't need to wait until December 31st. But when it comes to resolutions, most of us don't think of them until this time of year.

And there is that positive side -- we've set aside at least one day of the year to think about our past and contemplate our future, to resolve things and to try to make them happen. Personally, I like the idea of pausing on each equinox and solstice to review and revise resolutions -- as the seasons change around me, my personal seasons change, and what was important 3 months go may not be important now.

I don't need to recite this past year right now -- I wrote about it or thought about it already. I had times good and bad, decisions made or ignored, chances taken or missed. Anyway, I've been comtemplating my resolutions for a good 2 weeks now, and here they are.

1) Keep my house clean by scheduling all the tasks that need doing, and trying to adhere to that schedule.
2) Improve my health by reducing processed sugars and fats, walking at least 2 hours each week or riding the stationary bike, and making space and time for yoga practice.
3) Return to my writing practice by not putting it off or letting mood or inconvenience distract me.
4) Send some of my damn stories off to be accepted or rejected, as fate dictates, but sending them out! Get over being scared and devastated by the thought of rejection. Do what I need to do to give myself confidence and keep writing.
5) Continue participation in the chorus and other activities that get me out of the house and with people I like doing things I like.
6) Don't promise other people too much until I'm exhausted and retreat again. I don't have to bleed to make people like me.
7) Remember my husband is a man with whom I want to share a life, not a project I'm supposed to complete. He will achieve his right state of being, whatever it is, if I love and help him, but I don't get to chose that state.

Those are pretty good, I think. I even got my degree into the act by including a "How" for each resolutions -- one of those business psych classes I took pointed out that in setting a goal you need to chart how to reach that goal. Then your chance of success is better. It took me long enough to get that degree and I use it every chance I get, since it seems I'm not going to use it in the "normal" way as resume fodder.

To each of you who visit here, and to the unknown hordes who know nothing of me, I wish that this year brings you growth and learning, change and improvement, and everything you need to continue your creation of yourself, and that you take all the opportunities of beginnings -- and endings -- you find. Happy New Year.

Thursday, December 30, 2004

Whining

I can't even look at the news today. I just can't. If I sold everything I owned and devoted my life to helping, I couldn't make much inpact. I don't really want to do that, either.

I am, however, counting out the change in my change jar (don't laugh, I save a lot of quarters).

In other news...It MUSt be freaking time for the chiropractor, which I don't wanna do because it costs money I don't have. My head it aching down to the middle of my spine and I keep having flashes on my retinas. This is damned annoying. This has been a pricy month, and not just Christmas either. My car needed two new tires, the dryer has to be repaired, there are assorted medical bills to be paid and while I love the two dresses and the bits and pieces I bought for the trip, I could have scraped by without them and saved the money for other things. I bought em on sale so I can't return them.

Mostly my head hurts. Hurts too much to try to sleep it off. Two Aleve aren't helping as much as I'd like them to, and I'm slipping into a dark well of self pity. Feh. I don't even feel much like having my own pity party. I feel like I need to get my vertebrae back in line. Fucking things are deformed, I think. Why should a spine go "out of alignment"? I mean, it's designed to line up, isn't it?

Feh. Maybe I just need a meal. It's been a good 14-15 hours now and I'm not hungry and I didn't finish even drinking my juice this morning. Did do dishes and make some attempts to clean around here. Played Sims for an hour. Did the morning online reading. Bitched and moaned here. Yeah, I seem to be on schedule.

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

And on the personal disaster front

Our dryer has died.

I noticed yesterday after tossing in a load of wet stuff that, after two hours of tumbling, it was still wet. It was COLD and wet. Ever the optimist, I reset the dryer and let it tumble more. It was slightly less wet and cold when I checked it.

I've been through this one before. Dead heating element. Call Sears. They can show up next week.

I have wet laundry. I don't have a clothes line (they are not permitted by deed in our neighborhood). This means there is a laundry mat in my future.

I don't like laundry mats. I have been spared them most of my life (except for a couple of apartment buuilding laundry rooms). Laundry mats are strange places peopled with folks with little regard for my underwear. I fear that, while reading my trash novel and waiting for the spin cycle, someone will leap upon the dryer where my precious things have just taken their final turn and toss them onto the floor, even if I leave my laundry basket sitting right there. I don't like digging for quarters under the seats of my car. I don't like checking my dryer sheet to see if it has one more cycle in it, or cramming as much into one washer as I can because I only have so much soap, thus creating grey (or even more terrifying, pale pink) everything.

I'm almost 40 and I did all that already. I make house payments and buy my own machines just so I can skip all that.

Another disaster is the immenent de-Christmastizing of the house.

I love the decorating. Everything looks so warm and festive and picture perfect. I love the lights in the windows and the silk poinsettas (Hey, I have cats) and the smell of cinnamon spice.

When I take it all down is the moment I realize I need a new storage box. After Christmas is NOT the time to shop for storage boxes. It is also the time to realize the teeny tiny attic space we have under our huge roof (I don't get it -- we have a HUGE roof, and far too much space open to the house under it -- Cathedral Ceilings should be restricted to Cathedrals. In houses, they suck) yet, due to the strange conjuntion of our rafters, crawling through our attic requires contortionist's skills and no hips. Hips cannot get into our attic (techically, atticS, plural, as there are three of them, quite separate, none very large and none terribly good for storage. That's Florida for ya.)

Anyway, taking down the Christmas stuff is depressing. On the positive side, the mothballs under the Christmas Tree saved my ornaments from Bea-predation. She only broke one this year and I don't think she hid any.

I am also spending too much time playing Sims 2. I should be ashamed of myself, really.

La La La

Despite the fact that my overwhelming response to the growing disaster in SE Asia is to stick my fingers in my ears, close my eyes and sing "LA LA LA LA LA" loudly, some news does creep in. LIke this little note from Dan.

Nothing humbles and shakes us like a disaster, when our illusions about ourselves and our lives come smack up against the indifference and power of our planet. Whether you are at the epicenter or safely tucked in your bed at home, if you are aware at all, you feel that humility and that fear.

I"m trying not to pay attention because guilt will crush me. I can't really donate money to them. I'm going on a cruise, planned months ago, paid for months ago, and that's where my money went. There ain't no more. So I"m putting my personal pleasure above helping desperate people.

Of course, in reality we are all doing that, since there are desperate people everywhere, all the time. Once you head down that road, you've got a few choices -- become another Mother Theresa, kill yourself because of the inability to be another Mother Theresa, or just stick your fingers in your ears when it gets to be too much and self-preserving instincts overcome altruistic impulses.

I really recommend "LA LA LA LA", although old TV theme songs work, too.


UPDATE: Solly has a list of places to give, if you are so inclined and able. I've been seeing reactions pop up on other sites as well -- Sole Prop and Rien, for instance.

Sunday, December 26, 2004

Post Holiday Vegetation

It wasn't so bad. Everyone behaved and unpleasantness was avoided, often through keeping people in separate rooms or even separate houses (Husband's aunt lives just around the corner from Mother In Law).

However, I got Sims 2. I played for, oh, about 14 hours straight. Now, Husband (unable to resist because 1) I have impeccable taste in games 2) because anything he says he has no interest in will become interesting as soon as I stay up all night playing it) is playing, as I demonstrate my great love for him by surrendering the playing disc into his hands. Ah, the sacrifices I make for my marriage.

So I've been a vegetable since about 4 pm Christmas day. Happy me, I don't have to work tomorrow either, so I can waste another day telling little video animated people how to live their lives. They listen only slightly better than real people. However, unlike real people, I can wall them up in little cages until they die if they piss me off. Their pitiful little cried are nothing to me. Besides, the reaper animation is kinda neat.

Oh, I also got the Annotated Sherlock Holmes. I'll be reading that for a while, although the volumes are large so they don't travel. There were a few other trinkets, and one really beautiful item from MIL -- a family heirloom of a box shaped like a large book, made with inlaid wood everywhere. I wish I knew the history of it because it really IS beautiful. It has a tiny skeleton key lock, but no key, so I'm thinking of hitting the local antique restoration hardware market in search of a key that fits.

Good Christmas. I'm going to go kick Husband off of Sims now.

Thursday, December 23, 2004

Pre-holiday tension

The prospect of spending the entirity of Christmas with relatives I hardly know isn't exactly filling me with boundless energy. I don't like going places on Christmas Eve, for one thing. My favorite way to spend Christmas Eve is cuddled in bed or on the couch with Husband, with hot tea and all my favorite Christmas movies.

Oh, I've got a load of favorites -- White Christmas, Miracle on 34th street (both versions), A Christmas Carol (the Alaistar Sim version), Meet me in St. Louis (not technically a Christmas movie, but still). Hell, I even like watching Die Hard -- action movies in the Christmas vein are unusual, to say the least.

I will also watch "It's a Wonderful Life". I haven't seen it the millions of times so many people have. I still enjoy it. I don't enjoy as much the multiple variations and remakes. I like Jimmy Stewart and that's it.

I don't know if we will be able to spend Christmas our prefered way at this point, with all the driving and the hours of sitting and trying to think of non-offensive, non-controversial, non-opinionated things to say. I'm tempted to take movies with me on Saturday and sneaking away with my laptop to watch them in a quiet corner somewhere. At least that way I won't get anyone riled up -- I'm sure they will be watching football or something anyway...*sigh*

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

What is cool?

The brilliant (and usually cool) Rob posed this question to himself and the world at large, which sent me to pondering -- just what is this "cool" thing spoen of so much? Why do we aspire to be "cool"? And how does one do it anyway?

I've not tried to be cool since I realized I wasn't and never really would be, as cool is decided by others. You don't get to pick these others, either. In fact, I'm not sure how they get selected to be the arbitrators of "cool". No one ever asks me to vote. I don't drive a "cool" car, live in a "cool" area, wear "cool" clothes, or do anything "cool".

And, honestly, when I consider it, I can't see the attraction.

Obviously, to be "cool" is to be admired by others, often by those you don't really know. Admired almost slavishly, in that those others will try to copy what you do, be where you are, say wht you say, etc. Once they start getting your act down, you must change your act so as to make them "uncool", inasmuch as you are only really "cool" when there are the "uncool" around you, setting off your diamond bright blaze with their cubic zirconia twinkle.

It gets more complicated. You can declare yourself "cool" if you can persuade other people who are "cool" that you are "cool". However, you can lose your status if a group of them back off and cancel it, or if one of them becomes "uncool". I swear, balancing a controlled nuclear reaction is simple compared to this stuff. If a "cool" person has enough cachet, they can be caught doing something "uncool" and convert it to "cool". If not, they are doomed to fall. IT's like playing follow the leader in a circle -- no one is really sure who's leading and everyone eventually looks stupid, unless you want into the circle.

That's what it is, isn't it? Belonging? The whole admiration thing is about acceptance. To be declared cool -- and have it stick -- is the height of acceptance. People who don't know you want to know you. You are confident, you have high self-esteem, you are successful.

Until you move passed the whole thing. It does come to an end, and if you don't have self-confidence that stands beyond what others think, you are doomed to searching out the elusive "cool" forever, until you become a sad, pitiable creature wearing the latest trend on an increasingly support-hose-worthy body.

I've never been cool, and, blessed be, managed to stop worrying and being miserable about it some time back (I found completely new things to worry and be miserable about). I am free of the pretense of coolness, and wallow luxuriantly in my not-giving-a-flying-fuckedness.

So -- how many of YOU are cool?

Monday, December 20, 2004

All kinds of appealing

For Florida, it's freaking ass cold. It's 3 in the afternoon and our high today was 49 degreens (That 9 celcius for you in civilized areas). Mind you, last week it was in the mid 70's, so this is quite a swing down the thermometer. They are expecting freezing temperatures tonight.

I live in the subtropics for a reason. It isn't SUPPOSED to get cold like this. We aren't constructed for it. I don't own the right socks, for one thing (well, I do, but I have to dig them out of storage.) This place is designed for temps in the 90's.

I guess it just comes on top of the hurricanes. Our roof is scheduled for repair in January. Whooo hoo! Lots of our neighbors still have blue tarps . They reflect the Christmas lights nicely.

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Strangest realization of the weekend -- now that I'm more or less turning into the person I was becoming back before the Big Dark Depression, Husband is having some difficulties adjusting. He's spent the last few years dealing with Dark, Drab, Depressed Sherri and my gear shift in the last few weeks has left him sort of paddling around in the shallow end, wondering what happened.

Never thought of that. Depression is a family affair.

Anyway, my house is pleasingly clean and organized. It smells good and everything. I'm so jazzed about this that I'm baking. Oh no, making 4 apple pies (and yes, I actually peel and slice the apples and make the filling myself. The only modern convenience I use is the Insta-Piecrust because...well, damn, it takes magic I don't have to make a pie crust from scratch and why torment myself? Who knew combining flour and shortening could be so DIFFICULT?) I even pressed the poor Husband-man into housework. I think he's recovering still.

Now I'm slowing down a bit, relaxing more, and thinking about that room across the house where I'm supposed to write. I want to write. I'm feeling ansey about it. I'm gonna put dishes in the dishwasher, a load of towels in the washing machine, and then... I think I'll read a book. Yeah. Haven't done THAT in a week or more. Might watch a movie ALL THE WAY THROUGH. Haven't done THAT in even longer.

My thoughts are actually skipping right past Christmas (which is not shaping up into a day I'm going to enjoy) to January, when Husband and I will be CRUISING. The whole idea of a week on a cruise ship, traveling through the Carribean, is all kinds of appealing.

Thursday, December 16, 2004

You Really Like Me!

WOW! Big grin! WHOO HOO!

Kevin over at Hidden City just make my day, and possibly my week, by sending me two (That's TWO) DVD's from my wish list! Sunset Boulevard ("I'm ready for my closeup, Mr. DeMille...") and a Godzilla double feature!

I really am grinning like an idiot. There's not much that delights me more than knowing someone thinks nice things about me. Getting cool DVDs just tops it off! Thank you, Kev! Thank you very, very, VERY much!

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Strange Energies

I've been cleaning house with fiendish intensity the last few days. This is highly unlike me. I'm more the "sit in a pile of my own accumulated filth and flip channels" sort. But this cleaning thing has gone on for WEEKS. I've had episodes where I've been overcome with disgust and cleaned up a room or two. I've had the week of "pre-mom" panic cleaning. It's this strange new thing that has me boggled.

I'm serious . I was up last night at 11:30 pm folding laundry that had lived happily in a basket for over 2 weeks. Coming home for lunch today, I grabbed a broom and swept away cobwebs forming around the the little sidelight by the door -- they've easily been there since July or so. I got HAPPY when the floor was finally mopped to my satisfaction. This is just not normal Sherri "Housework Kills" behavior. I've given my vacuum cleaner a pet name, and I LOOOOOOOOVEEEE my Swifter Duster.

Husband and I have been theorizing. If (for some esoteric reason) you've read this weblog for any length of time, you know that my Mother-in-law (MIL) has finally moved into her own Florida home and will no longer be an occupation force in my home for the winter. This happened at the end of October. She is now firmly entrenched in her new home, getting settled into her new life, and we see her about once a week or so for lunch or to help with some project. My house is MINE. The room that once -- quite literally -- had a brass plaque on it procaliming "Mom's Room" has that plaque no longer, and is MY OFFICE. Getting that together has changed everything.

So the theory goes that, now I no longer have "panic cleaning" in my life, now that I no longer hybernate in the bedroom for 3 months, keeping my head down and my mouth closed while MIL runs the world, I've finally -- after 10 years and 10 months -- got a HOME OF MY OWN. No more "out of bounds" areas. No more storing stuff for other people. No more feeling like an unwelcome guest for a quarter of the year.

And, damn it, MY HOUSE will be clean. At least most of it. The bedroom still looks like I live here. Then again, I've NEVER managed to have a clean bedroom for more than a few days at a time (it's the place I go to unload everything, and I read in bed a lot so there are always piles of books and magazines next to the bed). Still, I'm thinking I can change that. I am pleased with my house. I WANT it to be clean and sweet smelling. I want it for ME, not to avoid the frowning looks and disapproving comments of someone else. It's freaking amazing how removal of a negative incentive brings back the energy.

The only downside is neglect of my writing practice, but I'm not terribly worried about that. I have to make time to do that, and I have been using that time -- not to stare mindlessly at a computer or tv screen, but to improve my life and my environment. I'm always happiest when my house is mostly tidy and clean, with just enough messy spots that I don't feel scared to eat in the living room.

Of course, this new trend of sitting at an actual table on an actual chair may take some getting used to.

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We are going on a cruise in a few weeks -- at least theoretically, as our tickets haven't arrived despite the huge dent in our credit card. This is a real, actual, 10 day cruise to the Carribean. One of those cruises where you dress up in evening-wear for dinner.

I bought dresses. I mean dresses -- one is burgundy georgette with beading and this incredible velvet trench coat, the other is a plum velvet with silk inserts at the skirt. They are the kind of dresses usually called "gowns". I have to wear heels and stockings (well, cheater stockings -- I hate and abominate pantyhose) and make sure my pits are shaved and ALL that. I need sparkly jewelry. I may even need a freaking EVENING BAG (the two I have are roughly 40 years old and were my mother's...I'm afraid of them. My mom didn't have a lot of evening functions and these bags weren't intended to last this long. They may bio-degrade at any second.)

There are still some other items to purchase, like another pair of dress shoes (Mine are pretty ratty at this point).

Here's the kicker -- I will have to take approximately three pieces of luggage. I no longer OWN three pieces of luggage. I gave away my set to a friend because I had gotten one of those rollaway bags and never used the rest. Suddenly, I need a bag just to carry FREAKING SHOES.

I'm not a shoe whore. I have friends who are shoe whores, who grow faint at the smell of new leather, who have more shoes than they have bobby pins or eyeshadow or old ex-boyfriend stories combined. I buy a shoe, I wear a shoe, it falls apart and goes to the back of the closet in retirement. I have big ol' feet that don't LIKE shoes much. I go barefoot most of the time, actually, unless it's blisteringly hot or freezingly cold.

But I will need, by my reckoning, at least 5 pairs of shoes for this trip. I will need a shoe I can walk a lot in (either my trainers or my walking boots), a pair of everyday shoes for shipboard days, a pair of not-that-dressy-but-sort-of-dressy shoes, and at least two pairs that go with my dresses. I will possibly need some sandles for beach-ish activity. I'll need shoes in case it gets cold (and, at sea, it does -- I've cruised in winter before.) I'll need shoes I can wear when it's hot. Foot comfort is a big deal to me. I'm in trouble here, folks!

Men have all purpose shoes. My husband figures he can get buy, even pushing it, with black dress, brown dress, trainers and slide-ons. He could conceiveably skip the brown dress shoes.

Eh, it's not that I'm precisely COMPLAINING, mind you, I'm just facing a problem I've never considered before IN MY LIFE. I have little experience in shoe-packing, shoe-outfit matching, and shoe chosing. I can't really judge what is and isn't necessary. I am not shoe-coordinated.

Maybe I'll just get some of those rubber-soled socks and crouch so my long skirts cover them...

Sunday, December 12, 2004

The Post Concert Pale Blues

Ah, yes, it is over. Three concerts in two days is hard work. My legs and feet are very unhappy with me over the whole thing. We had to stand a lot more this concert than last. That's just brutal, standing for an hour at a time.

But, everything went wall all three performances. No significant mistakes, no terrible events. People laughed at the right points and applauded a lot. We got standing ovations at both evening performances and a slightly "rigged" one at the matinee. The "sing along Halleluja Chorus" went off well, but Mr. Director asked everyone to stand to sing along. He forgot that this would leave people standing afterwards, since it was our finale.

Singing with my ensemble went really well each time. I got a lot of compliments from people who've never really heard me sing (except as part of the larger group). I'm debating attempting a solo, and I've been asked by one member to consider a duet. We shall see. Now I've got three weeks before rehearsals start again.

Oh, and Solonor showed up! I haven't seen him in 11 or more years, when we met through a mutual friend, and only in the last year have we started chatting via blog and email. I'm trying to talk him into auditioning for the group. Gay-friendly people are a plus in this chorus. That straight folk will stand and be identified as "gay" takes some of the sting out of it, I think. There are those who feel that it dilutes "identity", but my feeling is it is better to be an individual rather than a minority demographic. If those easy lables get mixed up and messed with, all the better. It makes those folks who like lables have to pause before they speak.

Aside that, the group is a lot of fun. I had more fun this time than last concert, despite my swollen ankles and painful knees. I had a real blast. I feel like part of the group. Husband is working in the support section and we both are making friends and developing a *gasp* social life.

Now it is time to start ernestly cleaning the house for the holidays. Ugh. However, I will be happy to have my house tidy because I'm proud of my home and want to have friends over without having them step over and around things, or not have a clear chair to sit in or a table clean enough to put a plate on. So, tomorrow, entry and dining room and library. Them's my goals for Monday. Tuesday, kitchen. Wednesday, back yard. Thursday, front yard. Friday, family room. Saturday will be the bathrooms, and that should be plenty to carry us through to January. Weeee.

Saturday, December 11, 2004

A mystery

Somehow I've managed to be very busy without anything intereasting (aka record worthy) taking place. For example:

All the bookshelves are done and in place and filled. The highlight -- husband whacking himself in the forehead with a board, for no apparant reason.

Christmas tree up, fireplace mantle decorated, lights up in the dining room window. Highlight -- the mystery light strand that worked until I changed a bulb.

Christmas Concert Rehearsals are over and tonight is the first performance. Lots of highlights, all of the 'you had to be there' variety. Oh, and I have a sore throat (of course).

I suppose, after surveying the other weblogs and journals I read regularly, that in order to have something to write about, I must have

1) a negative experience about which I can rant
2) a negative experience about which I can be bitingly sarcastic and funny
3) a negative experience in which I can display my dazzling wit
4) a negative experience that makes me feel miserable
5) a positive experience that is extreme, or somehow funny

It's hard to write about general contentment, happiness, or just the mundanity of living one day after another. I don't see my life in the appropriate terms, I suppose.

Oh, I am looking forward to our cruise in January, and trying very hard not to daydream about it. I guess that will have some memorable events, although I'd really perfer that nothing bad happen to be annoying.

Friday, December 03, 2004

Scattered Bits

It's been a fruitful and busy week of what looks to be a busy month. The OCG has two concerts tomorrow, next week is rehearsal and worry and next week it's THE BIG DEAL. After that, I may collapse.

No tree up yet. My room is still a mess, but ONE book shelf is finished. Two more to go.

Most of my time is spent writing, reviewing, thinking about writing, reading, fussing with the pens in my new pen cup (office supplies, whoo hoo!) and writing. It's promising to get a little chilly tonight (by Florida standards, mind you).

Three movies I ordered showed up today -- "The Big Sleep", "Key Largo", and "Meet Me in St. Louis". Yeah, I'm planning a little film fest for myself as soon as I get some hours. Watched "The Big Sleep" again tonight and finally realized that the sense of completion is completely false -- yeah, we learn who killed who, but why? That's sort of fuzzy. Not that this is a big revelation to anyone who's seen the film, but it was news to me. I always was so entranced watching Boghart and Bacall that I forgot all about "plot". Now, that's great acting!

Got one of the "lost" stories retyped and revised today. So, from my summer hard drive disaster, I've only one story to recover from the printed version. The retyping is interesting -- just like I have retyped the work of classic authors to use as scripts and learn a lot by the act of "writing" their words, retyping my own stuff pointed out a lot of things that just didn't show up when I was reading it. I'm kinda looking forward to it.

Ok, that's my life caught up. How about you?

Monday, November 29, 2004

And it's about time!

Godzilla Gets His Hollywood Star

He's the consummate professional! How many actors today would breathe nuclear fire just to get a role?

Invisible Friend

I have friends I've never seen -- isn't that a quote from an old Neil Young song? Anyway, it's true. I have friends who's hands remain unshaken, faces unsmiled-at, voices unheard, but they are friends anyway, existing as they do as constructs in my head based on words I've seen on a computer screen.

If I can feel affection, interest, even worry and love for a character in a book, why not for someone I know online? I just have to remember that, just like characters in a book, the people I know online are not required to respond to my emotions, nor are they responsible for my reactions concerning them.

All this circles back to one of those online friends, someone for whom I feel such a great affection and such an aching pain for his suffering -- and he clings hard to his suffering, as if it is what makes him. Oh, he's had plenty to suffer about, and he's so intelligent and so talented that he can suffer creatively. Unfortunately, he's so very proficient at it that he knows no other way and so produces, on a regular basis, things about which he can suffer. I'm not talking just depression or grief or sadness or malaise or generall pissed-offed-ness. I'm talking suffering, practically in the Christian sense, soul seering, body breaking misery.

I say he clings to it because...well, he accepts it as unsolvable, incurable, untreatable, unrelenting, cosmic. I may not have a world wide intellect, but I know that suffering is a choice. Many people are afflicted, but do not suffer -- they do not live inside their misery and explore every aspect of it, nor wear it as a defining characteristic, nor build their whole lives around maintaining and abetting whatever impinges upon their lives.

I say it because he will not hear anything that contradicts his acceptance of his suffering or his interpretation of its endless nature. It is as if, were he to climb from his pit of pain, if he were to find some thing that lessened it, some part of him would be extinguished and there would be nothing to take its place. I can imagine that kind of fear readily.

Part of me kicks me and says I have nothing on which to judge him, and that's right, because I cannot judge. I am not a judge, and I am not saying he is wrong or right, for it is neither my job nor my special power. What I am saying, and thinking, is that he holds to his pain as if he has nothing else, and when I look at him I see other things that he has but they are not embraced, and he says he would be free of his suffering but knows not how to heal, and I hurt with him and wish I had an answer to give him. What I know is that I cannot give him any answer, or any surcease, or even a moment's respite. If I could, he would refuse it.

Nevertheless, this invisible friend, whom I hold somewhat distant for my own protection, suffers. It is quite real, what he goes through. I hold him at a distance because it is my nature to take on the pain of those I love, will I or not. I am not strong enough to bear it unacknowledged (which he cannot), nor am I brave enough to feel it without hope of comfort. I have only one defence, that that is distance. I prefer not to suffer, nor to remember suffering past. I can't carry that much on my back. It's hard enough knowing there is baggage on me I haven't managed to drop yet, trailing behind me on thick chains, my own work to do, my own beam in my own eye.

But I love him, as I have from the first I read of him and about him and from him, and think of him anyway, despite his disdain for my feeling, despite his complete lack of need for me to care or not care. Neither of us are prepared to acknowledge anything other than casual acquantaince. And he does not need me in any way. I have nothing to offer him. He is as a fictional character, despite having body and mind and soul, and I do well to keep that in mind. I just hope that the next chapter I read will have something better in it for him. I wish that and hope that very much.

Sunday, November 28, 2004

My New Room

The bookshelves aren't done, but the painting and curtains and carpet and desk are all in place. I have a pink room -- I shake my head at the very thought, but my peony print looks lovely against the wall. It's a pale pink -- in the dizzy atmosphere of the paint section of Wal-mart, I'd selected this pink and a much hotter, brighter pink with the idea of using those special pattern rollers to blend them into something lovely. I've done it in four other rooms in the house with great results each time.

I got about halfway around the room when I concluded it looked like I was killing Valentines with a woodchipper. The two colors did not blend into anything attractive. It looked like a scene for a forensics expert on bloodsplatter. Luckily, the darker color was not a real heavy pigment and the light pink covered it up nicely. So, I have a pink room. With the rose curtains and the pale tan/peach/blue pattern on the oriental rug MIL gave me (it's the real deal, an actual Oriental rug, bought overseas and quite nice, and the dark wood furniture that will be going in, and the burgundy and dusty rose fabrics that will also come into this room, I think it will not be so much "pink" as "warm and cozy".

I'm so strange. I love lace and beads and frilly frou frou just fine, thank you, but I tend not to have them directly in my house, or even prominent in my wardrobe. I eschew the traditional "feminine" look of things while liking it just fine. I'm conflicted about such things, and here I am with a pink freaking room and I like it.

Ok, I'm gonna call it "Peony" and be done with it. "Pink" just makes me shudder. Once Husband finishes the bookshelves and I get them loaded, I'll take some pictures.

I'm sitting in here now, on one of the dining room chairs. The antique desk is obviously designed for much shorter people and Husband is going to get some casters for it to raise it up a bit, and we will probably get me another chair -- the dining room chairs are fine if you are only on them long enough to eat, but for hours of sitting at a computer, they tend to bite one's but. MIL also gave me several sheepskin rugs (actual sheep's skins, complete with wool) and I folded one to put on the seat. One of them covers the floor in front of the window, under the cat bed I dug out and placed there. Benny has declared this room his own, and has slept in that bed most of the afternoon. Now, that bed has been sitting under the cat condo for 5-6 months, and behind a chair in a corner of the living room for a year or so before that, completely ignored. With cats, it's all location, location, location. He also likes the sheepskins. In fact, all the cats have spent some time on one or other of the rugs, lounging and kneading and looking smug.

So I'm sitting here, and I've been writing. That was the point. I have to start back on the writing discipline I had at the beginning of the year. It worked, for one thing. I have to retype some of my stories so I have electronic copies of them once more. Then I have to back them up so that I don't LOSE them again.

And then I have to write, and write some more, and do the sending out of manuscripts and the collection of rejections...oh, I don't know if I can manage this.

Thursday, November 25, 2004

Turkey Coma

An easy, no-trauma, no drama day. Went to Hamunaptra to have the famous feast with the MIL et al, at one of the many clubs peppering the location. The meal was...adequate. Nothing was bad, and nothing was memorable. Didn't eat so much as to feel stuffed, and had no leftovers, thus no turkey induced coma. I haven't prepared a Thanksgiving meal in perhaps 3 years now. It feels a little odd, sometimes, when I reflect on it, but I do not have a large group of friends all displaced from their families, and now the little bits of family I do have are all nearby.

So, we had a mediocre dinner. Conversation was light, as is to be expected. Got into a slightly political post-dinner discussion about immigrants -- US (mis) treatment of legal immigrants vs illegal immigrants gaining access to benefits, which ended quickly by abandoning the table. I felt very strange about it, since I'd brought up the topic and Husband was about to start arguing with Mil's Sister (the "al" in "et al" above, "et" being Husband's godmother). I was nudging his leg under the table, as I heard the tones -- no one was going to be convinced of anything other than what they already believed, and there was nothing to be gained in a fight to be right. That's something Husband has not yet learned. I prefer to let such conversations die.

Went to MIL's house, changed clothes, Husband did a few little chores while I tormented MIL's cat (a highly tormentable creature -- walking into the room can send her into a hissy fit. Looking at her twice can incure spitting and scratching. It wasn't like I put a lot of effort into irritating this cat. Mostly I breathed.) Came home, listening to NPR and a Bailey White Thanksgiving short story in the van. Came home, settled into the bedroom, and now I'm here.

It was a day without much detail. Oh, there are details. I'm going through a collection of foriegn coins MIL has, mostly South American, most pre-1965, with unfamiliar shapes, metals, colors, symbols, and words I only half recognize (my high school Latin comes in handy here). One coin is dated 1884, and is worn and stained enough to back it up. Jay's godmother gave me some old jewelry she doesn't want, including a beautiful faceted garnet bead bracelet pair that, from appearances, must date back to the 1930's. Some of the strands are broken and I promised to make something for her from the loose beads. There is a large garnet set in the clasp, a dark, jelly clear stone in fogged and darkened metal (gold? electroplate? I can't tell until I clean it.) there are also three amethysts, all nearly matched, with more blue in the purple than I've ever seen, each one about the size of the pad on my index finger. There was a strand of begger beads, and some weird ones called "cat's eyes" which LOOK like yellow bakelite set with seashell "eyes" -- definately of late 20's/early 30's vintage.

I just don't write the details in here. I gloss over things in my life here, unless I'm lecturing. I puzzle over that. When I'm writing fiction, I love the details. I can happily plunder the concrete image then. But nothing in my actual life, in my day-to-day doings, seems to merit that kind of attention.

I can't imagine anyone sitting down to read about it. So I skip and I gloss and when I read back over the record of my days, they blur together, smeary and indiscinct, as if nothing really happens and nothing really matters.

Tomorrow the painting begins in earnest. Everything is marshalled for the effort. By Saturday, furniture should be in place, curtains up, and everything but the new book cases put in a lasting home. Once all that is done, I am out of excuses. I must start writing.

I've been all about the excuses for not writing. I'm not comfortable, I don't have a space, I don't have the right mood, I get interrupted, I get disturbed, I get distracted, the space bar and the B key on my laptop aren't working right, I don't have any idea where my half-written stories are going...blah blah blah. So, I've set a goal and after that, no more excuses. Either I write or I don't. Turkey coma notwithstanding.

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Jane and Hats

Monday afternoon was spent reading chapters of Jane AUsten novels aloud to members of the local Tea Society. The Tea Society is -- as best I can tell -- a group of women, mostly of a certain age, who gather together to drink tea, eat little bits of cake, wear hats that are no longer seen in public, and talk.

Reading to them was...interesting. I shared the duties with my buddy the bookstore owner R, who is a good reader and a sweet person. She read two chapters, and I cut my second reading when I noticed the natives were beginning to look restless. There were a few in the audience my age or younger (some much younger, the bitches) who were particularly aggitated, as if distressed over the lack of channels to surf.

Afterwards, we discussed, R and I, how the genteel pastime of reading aloud to one another has faded in this age of multi-media entertainment and 300 channels of nothing. Books on tape/CD still do well for those who only read when they drive, but the general populace has difficulty listening to another voice without being able to interrupt for their part of the conversation.

I flatter myself, based on the several post-reading compliments I got (the one being most important coming from Ruth, who is honest) that it wasn't our readings themselves. We were animated, making slight changes to illustrate the voices, and looking up as often as possible from the page. I know R worked hard and has much experience in reading to children, so she can usually hold the attention of adults. My main concern was in being heard and projecting well.

Husband loves it when I will read to him. If I find an article, a bit of a story, or anything, really, in print, he will defer reading it himself, prefering I read it to him. I should note he does not frequently return this little service. Considering my opinion of his usual choice of reading material, I am grateful, in general, for his circumspection. It's rare he actually cracks a book, unless it has pictures. He CAN, he just DOESN'T.

Still, that makes him head and shoulders above the type of person I usally see who can't be bothered to sit for more than an hour without changing a channel, passively sucking in whatever appears on the glass square.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Housecleaning

The bad side of deciding to clean one's house pre-holiday is

1) being revolted by how much of a pig Husband and I are all year.
2) finding things that worry, distract, or revolt you.
3) knowing there is far more to clean than will get cleaned.
4) realising you have to clean something before you can even get close to cleaning something else -- multiple times.

So far, I have been battling paper. The pack rat gene runs strong in Husband and me, and thus Bits 'o Paper do collect on flat surfaces, in boxes, in bags, under furniture -- everywhere but in the garbage or the proper file. Since we run our own business, there's additional paperwork that must be filed and maintained. There is also junk mail. Catalogs, fliers, offers for credit cards -- you know the stuff. We get it to our personal address and to the business address, twice as much.

Our garbage men should be impressed. I've been ripping and shredding for hours. I am only halfway through the pile, though, and I still haven't filed anything. It's just gone into that optimistic "to be filed" pile. Still, there's progress...although I have been dreading the walk to the mail box.

The living room has managed to stay more or less together since I cleaned it last week. the dining room is showing potential, as the top of the table is now clearly visible. The kitchen is sort of transitional. The kitchen table is still lost under great piles of stuff that must go elsewhere.

Then there is the Garage.

I don't normally go into the Garage if I can avoid it. Husband has his workshop in there and it is usually saw-dust covered Hell. But today I had to go and I realized that under all the saw dust is a huge, throbbing, bloated pile of GARBAGE that must be tossed. Beneath the mass that is the Beast in the Garage are smaller creatures that laugh evily when I go by. Husband can speak to them with impunity, but I am tormented by the sudden fall of a rake handle or the nudge of a bucket into my path. I'm not going back in there until the place has been exorsized.


Saturday, November 20, 2004

Penguin Drag

Tuxedo shirt, with the stiff collar and cuffs. Shirt studs (only 3 because that's all I have). Cuff links. Bow tie (the semi real ones that clip around the neck). Cumberbund. Long velvet skirt, flat shoes.

That's official "Penguin Drag" for my career with the OGC. Gotta make some changes.

First, the sleeves be too long -- I can fix that, but it's all annoying. Neck actually fits, but you still feel like you are choking because the collar is so stiff. I've got makeup all over it. So, clean the collar, get an extender button so I can turn my head.

The shoes aren't bad, but aren't great. I need some that don't have a little rhineston buckle on them also. Eh, for $20 on short notice, they worked.

The concert today was at the Orlando Museum of Art in the Rotunda next to the giant Chiully glass statue. The rotunda area has a skylight and so half the stage area was bright and hot, half was cool and shady. Guess in which part I (and most of the tenors) were standing? I have no idea if we sounded good as I could hardly hear anything. Concerts go so fast that it's hard to remember more than flashes, like snapshots. I couldn't see our director most of the time for the glare. Still, 30 minutes later I was tie-less and happy.

But that tux shirt -- gotta fix that tux shirt.

Friday, November 19, 2004

To Do List

Today I must

1) purchase a black cumberbund and possibly a black bow tie
2) spackle
3) print the scenes from assorted Jane Austen novels I typed up yesterday
4) at least pretend to look at my concert music with an eye toward memorizing some of it

I love spackle. It's like frosting only you don't eat it and therefore cannot get fat from it. Aside that, all the rest of the frosting fun is there. I have a little can of it and a tube -- a tube! I can make spackle rosettes!

Technically, after I spackle (what a great word, spackle. It should be reserved for something better than home repair. It should be something someone in sequins and big hair does on a stage in Vegas -- "Did you see her spackle routine? Amazing!" Add an "r" and it's sparkle -- so the sequins are a natural choice.) I have to tape all the edges I DON'T want transformed into a marbelized mixture of medium rose and pale rose. Yes, yes, I know, damn it all, it's PINK. I cannot escape pink. I know there is a difference. PINK is the color used by Disney to shade their line of Princess play toys for little girls. It's a color that gives me gas.

Rose, on the other hand, is a soft, warm color that evokes flowers and glowing hearthfires and fuzzy blankets and early morning light just above the horizon. And I want to use the colors in the huge Peony print I have had for years now, that I bought after staring at it for almost a year and still haven't framed. Just one, huge, perfect peony blossom on a white field. It looks like an Image Composer Sprite. I love it. And I'm painting a whole room to match it. Well, it and the burgundy velvet covered Scandenavian design rocking couch (yes, couch, although it's really more of an oversized rocking lounge chair or mini-love seat -- it's hard to explain but it's one huge piece of furniture that you can sort of lay on and it rocks -- it's Scandenavian, what more do you need to know?) that will be going in there. I will also have to find fabric to recover the matching rocking chair because the horrible wooly burnt orange stuff on it just will NOT be seen in my house, much less in my pink room.

My ROSE room, damn it!

The Husband and I were arguing over the bookshelves I want in what will become my writing room, my office, my place to be creative or just stare or whatever it is I will do. You see, he's quite the carpenter and after pricing shelving, decided he would just build them. After all, shelves are NOT the hardest thing one can build. I had seen some ladder-style shelves at Pier One that I liked, and he offered to build shelves just like that. I saw some others in a catalog and showed him the picture.

"Well, mine will be like that, only with solid sides."

"Uh, I don't want solid sides. Just make regular book cases."

"Why would you want book shelves with open sides?"

"Ladders don't have solid sides. A ladder-style bookshelf with solid sides will just look like a lopsided box."

"You aren't going to see in the sides."

"They aren't going to be shoved in the corner, they are going to be centered on the wall. You WILL see the sides."

"It's a book case."

"So just make a regular book case."

"Why are you making such an issue about the sides?"

"Why did you say you could make the shelves like the ones I wanted and then decide to make malformed boxes instead?"

I'm not precisely sure what we were actually argueing about, but I suspect it's something like he wanted to give me something and I don't want what he wants to give me because I already knew what I wanted and solid sided ladder-esque book shelves aren't it. There's got to be a deeper issue involved in there somewhere.

Anyway, time to eat, dress, comb the cat-knitting out of my hair, refuse to let the state of the world as reported on the news get to me, and hunt down that cumberbund and bow tie so I can wear my penguin drag (formal concert dress) on Saturday.

Update:
I have spackled, but not taped, and I was prevented from leaving the hosue in search of cumberbund by a shocking lack of clean clothes. Thus, laundry, the dreaded beast, got onto my list and is swishing and swooshing right now.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

And now, the dishes

I survived cleaning the living room. Hurray me! There is still so much to do, not that it will get done today, but I can start on it.

That's the part where I start bitching and feeling overwhelmed. So much to do, actually. Take the old laptop out, clean the programs off in prep for donation tonight, and find all the disks that go with it. Work on some NERO stuff I don't THINK I owe yet but can't remember. Clean the kitchen as part of the "step-by-step" housecleaning. Prep for rehearsal tonight. Hope the roofers show for the estimate.

Ah, roofers are king in Florida right now. If you see three people talking, chances are they are exchanging the phone numbers of roofers. Roofing companies are inundated with calls, so many that they don't call back. Most of these outfits are run by one guy who has a crew and a cell phone. So many roofs you see are still covered with bright blue tarps and lathing strips. Those roofs that aren't either have a heavier-than-contractor-cheapshit roofing tile or have a slightly mangy look. People get excited when they get a possible date for the replacement/repair. Right now, we figure if we get the estimate this week, we might get the replacement in February some time. And we will be happy about it. There are a LOT of damaged roofs around this state.

Come June, all the roofers will be on vacation somewhere expensive.


Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Death Defying Vacuum Stunts

I have memories of me getting more done. I have memories of me popping (ok, sliding) out of bed and being ready to do something more with my day than staring at a computer screen or a televisions screen.

Maybe they were implanted.

I have nothing in particular pressing me -- no work until my computer is repaired and returned there -- so my days are mostly free, yet I accomplish so little. Just can't seem to find whatever it is that makes me do things that need doing.

Oh who knows? Reading over this, I hear the echoes of the depressed. Damn it all, depression is like cancer -- silent and sneaky and - WHOOMP - there you are, needing drugs. It creeps through everything, sending tendrils into every part of your life and sucking the sap out of you.

It is also disgustingly hard to combat single handedly. I am angry that I can't. This is not productive, either.

I need to cut the sugar down. Sugar, my drug of choice, is not a good thing. It's a temp fix but the aftereffects -- the lethargy, the brainlessness, the need for more -- I should be able to skip that. I actually do pretty good on vegies, as long as their is brocolli.

And the weather is cooling, oh loverly, which is always an energy booster for me. Florida Fall is all 80's, but Florida winter varies (Ok, it can hardly be called winter by some of you, but then you don't get anything like what I'd call summer, so let's just not go there) from the 30's to the 80's (and on rare occasions, even hotter.) Ah, the sub-tropical zones. You know you'll be wishing you were here around January, when I finally take my one pair of wooly socks out for their once a year wearing. You'll be wishing you were here with the blue skies and the brown lawns and the still green trees and the days in the 60-70 range and nights in the 50-60 range. I know it, because so many of you come down here just at that time and jam up all the restaurants.

So much going on this month -- A mini-concert with the chorus at the art museum, a birthday party, Miss S's Wedding (Do I now call her Mrs. S? Oh lordie), NERO stuff I have responsibilies for but won't be attending due to conflicts, and Thanksgiving which I think we are mostly skipping in favor of massive housework. December has long been the month of Panic Cleaning because MIL will be arriving any day. Well, there is no more Panic Cleaning going on in my life, but I always like the fact that the house is CLEAN for the holidays -- at least 70% of it -- and that part I'm not giving up on. I may have to hide Husband's computer to get him out of his easy-chair, and I will have to discipline myself, but those things can be conquered -- especially if I get some stuff done in the daylight hours.

Which is what I am going to do now. I'll report back with my successes later, unless the vacuum kills me.


Saturday, November 13, 2004

Reclaimation

Most of MIL's ex-furniture is out the door at this point. She doesn't want it, but has shouldered us with the burden of SELLING it for her. Feh. We are selling it to a bedroom furniture-less friend for $100 bucks. 12 year old French Vanilla modern-esque bedroom sets aren't exactly hot at the used furniture store. If they didn't want it, it was going to Goodwill for free, so...

AH, she's not cheap, really, it's just a bother. I mean, it was made clear that the furniture is hers, but we get to lug it around and all. I'm not used to those attitudes. My parents -- my Dad in particular -- not only didn't expect me to do much for them, but wouldn't LET me do things. I remember trying to take my dad to dinner for his birthday or Father's day a number of times, and having to pull some sharp shenanigins to get the check before he did.

Today would have been my dad's 74'th birthday. I'm getting over his death, I really am, but I still miss him. I know that eventually the pain will dull and I will have to really kick at the scar to make it hurt. I'm already passed seeing the ads for Red Skelton videos and starting to cry (dad loved Red Skelton, but he never opened the video set I got for him -- it never occured to him, I know.) Christmas is still hard -- my dad was all about Christmas, and even as an adult, there were no presents open until Dad arrived. That's a hold over from being a kid of divorced parents. The first year or so, I'd rip into things like usual, but then Mom started making me wait until Dad arrived (he was always late, that was his trademark) before I opened stuff.

I really miss my dad. There are a lot of people who've lost both parents. There are a lot of people who lost one or more parents when they were young, even very young. You know what? The idea that other people hurt, too, doesn't mean they hurt less or more. I've come to believe that amounts of pain are intensely personal and only dimmly understood by others.

Happy birthday, Dad.

Anyway, I've got a room to get cleaned out and painted, so I can put furniture I've been storing for years into it and reclaim it at my very own room. Now, the whole of my house belongs to me and Husband. There are no foriegn embassy rights, no one else who is entitled to come in and make decisions or changes or disapprove or do it "better" or hide all the lids to the plastic storage containers. That's important to me, and thus a very good thing.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

O Canada!

Friends of mine are seriously considering making the move to Canada because of the election. They are going to Toronto to check it out. They are going in December.

Brrr.

One of them was from Wisconsin and gave away all her winter clothes when she moved down here.

Brrr.

Husband and I talked about it in the car.

Me: "We could move to Canada."
Him: "Yeah, we could do that."
Me: "It's cold there."
Him: "We'd have to buy winter clothes and stuff."
Me: "Is it any more expensive to live there than here?"
Him: "I guess you pay as much for heat as you do here for A/C."
Me: "The bacon's better."
Him: "We shouldn't. We just spent two years getting Mom to move down here."
Me: "Oh yeah, that would be sort of shitty of us to move north just as she gets within an hour of us. I'm looking forward to a Mom-less winter."
Him: "If we moved to Canada, she'd be spending the summers with us."
Me: "We are staying in Florida."


Bush has nothing on my mother-in-law.

Monday, November 08, 2004

So

I have developed a geeky and rather lame, but noe the less busy, social life. I look upon it in amazement.

Monday - Rehearsal to night with a member of my ensemble. We are thinking about singing at a local venue or two, potentially for money. We will see.

Tuesday - Watching Movies of Jane Austen novels and going over the books for scenes to read at an upcoming "Austen Tea" at the bookstore.

Wednesday - Chorus rehearsal

Thursday - NERO stuff with C, then CoH group activity (this is the most geeky day, but I am no less committed to it).

Friday -- potentially hooking up for Godzilla-fest with an old friend who recently resurfaced, before he heads back to Tokyo.

I am not used to having this much activity. Yes, I know there are folks out there to whom my schedule looks like a lazy weekend, but I'm usually a creature of my own hearth. I like my house and tend to stay in it, like a hermit crab. I've always been this way, but the invention of the Internet has just made it that much easier.

Speaking of City of Heroes, no, I have not outgrown or gotten over that particular childishness. I'm still all about it. In fact, I'm getting the Special Edition DVD version, with the extra in-game goodies and the Hero-clix model of Statesman. Just because.

Stop looking at me like that. You're just jealous.

So far, I've managed to reach level 25 with one character, after much dedicated work. There's a huge history built into the game world that pops up now and again, which really adds depth to the game for me. There is so much going on that even though you may go on the same mission with various groups over and over, they are never identical missions. And they keep adding new bits and pieces to the game. ALthough really I'd enjoy a little less constant combat and a little more detective work -- there are limits to game software, I realize -- I'm still enjoying FLYING and now I have a CAPE and...well, it's all fun.

If only I could make a living at it.

Thursday, November 04, 2004

Mood Shift

It took me a few hours to move from dissapointment to resignation to sarcastic, but if you check the sidebar down below, I've created a few little buttons/icons that express my current state of mind. If you like 'em, please take a copy for yourself.

I'm going to bed.

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Shoe Dropping Time

Got up this morning, went to the polls, waited in line -- except that Husband and I only had one of the voting guides we'd gotten, and he took it, so where I couldn't remember who we'd picked for local office, I guessed. He said that some of the names didn't appear on the guide, so he didn't vote at all. Considering the state of politics as I view them, I'm not sure that either approach is better.

However, it is done, and with very little pain. Now there is only ignoring the hype until the final decision is made -- which, I fervently hope, will be before the end of the week.

You know, if Florida is once more the focus state of electorial nonsense, I betcha Jeb will be hauled under the microscope. Twice in a row is suspicious.

Husband and I were running around a lot this weekend, and we listened to This American Life. The show was on undecided voters, and if it had a Democratic/Liberal/Kerry-esque slant, that might have been pure perception (or perhaps Republicans were not interested in being interviewed for the show). The most interesting part was a segment on voter fraud throughout the US, attempts of representatives of both parties to cheat, lie, and steal the right to vote (not the votes themselves, mind you, but the ability to vote) from selected people. It AMAZED me that this kind of stuff goes on, and that there are those who obviously think it is not only ok, but won't be noticed!

Perhaps the "crisis" we have in our system is necessary to wake us up from the complasancy decended upon us in the last 20+ years. Politics and the electoral process were never highly spoken of when I was growing up. No one in particular encouraged me, wanted to talk to me, or tried to educate me. My father would not register to vote because he did not want to serve on a jury. I registered when I was 18, but I've only voted in 3 elections since then. (I would have voted last year, but I had the flu and decided not to share the germs -- aside from not being able to drive myself.) It is easy for something we do not value to be taken away. Time to think about that.

In any case, I've voted and I'm not going to pay the slightest attention to anything concerning the election until tomorrow. While I have a candidate of choice, what I REALLY want is a clear election. That's what I want, either way.

Friday, October 29, 2004

Standing Ovation

B-squared, the famous Byun, has said something very profound. Go read that and think about it.

I did, and now I must pontificate. No doubt I've said all this before, because it's something very central to my beliefs and usually pops up at least once a week.

Anger does not change minds about issues. Being angry, being vitriolic, being sarcastic or crudely insulting doesn't do diddly squat to change anyone's position. In fact, the entire concept of attempting to change someone's mind is pretty questionable.

To change one's mind about something based on the rhetoric and reasoning of another means that, from the start, one was prepared to admit that one was WRONG. Being wrong, at least in my observable corner of American Culture, is nearly criminal. To admit to being wrong about anything is to simultanously admit to being weak, stupid, morally rotten, capable of eating babies and giving up your lunch money to bullies.

People will do anything rather than admit they were wrong. I've watched it. Ever catch one of those Police Video shows, where hot pursuits are recorded on the dash cam of the local cop? At least every other show, some person will take off when pulled over, determined to escape rather than admit they ran a stop sign or doing 35 in a 25 MPH zone. This person inevitably wrecks the car and then jumps out to argue with the policemen about why they were pulling him/her over in the first place.

The scale doesn't matter. People will fight equally hard to be right about the answer to a Trivial Pursuit question as to be right about their choice of healthcare method or political representatives. Whatever question might be raised, someone has "THE" best method for handling it. Look at the weight loss industry if you doubt this -- everyone has "THE" best method, be it exercise machines, programs, diet books, pills, drink mixes, electric devices...

Ok, so if no one wants to be wrong, most people are convinced of their own rightness because they perceive themselves to be in agreement with an authority, a majority, or a divinity. All three are problematic because, withoutdoubt, all three are pretty shaky. Authorities can disagree, majorities are not always right, are difficult to accurately measure, and tend to shift, and divinity...well, it depends on which version of the Divine interpretation you consult. Facts are only as good as the source that perports them, and facts change all the time.

In essense all matters of opinion on who is right and who is wrong are matters of faith. And you can't argue faith. "True Faith", in my definition, is something you have when everyone and everything says you are wrong. In general, my observation is that the faith most people have in anything (be it God, Science, or Politics) is affected by how many other people, authorities, or divinities they can say are in agreement with them. The more of these three sources one can claim to have agree with one's point of view, the "more right" one is.

In my little corner of the universe, I've struggled and continue to struggle with the imperative to be Right All The Time. I have to remind myself that I have no monopoly on "facts", "truth" or "right". I have to keep in mind that fear rules. We are afraid of being wrong, because being wrong is so terrible.

Only being wrong isn't so bad. I've been wrong a lot and it's always been a chance to learn something. Yeah, it can be painful and embarrassing, but so what? There's no point in fearing pain, because it just makes the pain worse. Being wrong is survivable and being right is damned hard work. I do not gloat when I am right. I'll be wrong again.

I don't know if that's something a lot of people realize, up front and on a daily basis. I think everyone knows it somehow, but they don't live with it as a tenet of their lives.

Which brings us back to B and his sniper. I see this as a giant exercise in getting away from the overwhelming burden of fearing to be wrong. I see B's actions as a huge and difficult step toward accepting that his beliefs are just that -- beliefs -- and that being angry at those who disagree is useless. They, too, labor under the crushing weight that They Might Be Wrong, and that fear directs much of what they do. Fear is a foundation emotion, creating hatred and anger and jealousy and resentment. To go past the fear is to offer understanding. One may disagree with another person without hating them, hurting them, or avoiding them, if that other person also understands the possibility.

I say ye, B.

Thursday, October 28, 2004

Checking in

Nothing in particular going on. MIL has moved into her house and we moved boxes, assembled desks, unpacked dishes and moved boxes. She's about an hour away, which seems to be the perfect distance to prevent "drop in" visits.

Rehearsals are going....well, mostly. Lots of people are not singing this concert. The music isn't turning a lot of wheels, but I think it will be OK. I'm singing with a smaller ensemble and folks from ANOTHER ensemble keep coming up and saying "Aren't you the new member of (this smaller) ensemble? They are really thrilled with you. No, really." Compliments always make me a little nervous in such venues, since I have no idea how they know anything. We share a member between ensembles, but I didn't think this particular member thought much of me and I don't think he'd rave like that.

Weather is great, life is good, Samhain is coming, and I'm going pumpkin shopping.

Thursday, October 14, 2004

Timid

I picked up two Kerry/Edwards bumper stickers. I haven't put them on my car yet.

I live in the heart of Bush Country, that's why.

Isn't is strange that in the Land of the Free, I should feel trepidation about announcing my political affiliations? Because I fully expect if I do so, I must be prepared to argue politics with anyone who steps up and says "Oh yeah?" And I'm not really prepared to do that, for a number of reasons.

1) I try hard not to pay too much attention to politics because I suspect it is a leading cause in mental illness.
2) You can get cooties from politicians
3) I'm not really jazzed about ANY politician we've got up right now.

You see, I'm of the opinion that marketing has ruined our political system. The information age has destroyed it all. Information is just data until someone spins it, interprets it, puts it next to a picture and draws a conclusion, samples out 5 second snips and makes a 30 second soundbite. And candidates, by nature, want to appeal widely. Which means they go for the average, which means they end up frozen in the middle of something, somewhere, leaning closer to whichever extreme edge they also want to scoop up. And they have to be perfect because all their dirt will be dug, etc. etc.

What really makes a good political leader? A person who's made mistakes -- big ones, whoppers -- and learned from them and moved on. That's how leaders are made. They tend to be imperfect. They always have flaws somewhere because they are human beings and the qualities that make a good leader tend to go hand in hand with certain kinds of flaws. A good political leader isn't necessarily an altruist, but they can at least be honest. Being a good political leader doesn't always mean being a good person (that's historically proven) but good people sometimes become good political leaders...if you have a realistic idea of what a good person is (like you and me).

These are the complications that make me shy away from politics. I'm not interested in proving myself right to someone eager to prove me wrong. I think the American People as a big, undifferentiated Jello-like blob interpreted through spot polls and marketing analysts have gotten exactly the government we really want rather than what we idealistically want (since we can't get our ideals to mesh anyway and aren't willing to pick a spot -- we tug and pull toward our respective far ends and so everything sits in the center-ish area where not too many people are happy but not too many are really pissed about it).

So now I have to get up the courage to put that sticker on my car. I should wash my car first, I guess. Ugh. I'm going to be having the sign war with my neighbor across the street with the Bush/Cheney poster in his front yard.

Not that I talk to him anyway.

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Fitting In

The little concert on Monday went quite well. We sang in the rotunda of the City Hall for National Coming Out Day. What an echo! The reverb took a full minute. It was fun, it was fast, we were loud and mostly in tune and we were outa there.

I also learned that, if I stand in a large crown of gay people, I look just like everyone else. My straightness doesn't make me conspicuous. Who'da thunk?

Monday, October 11, 2004

Rain on a Monday

seems like a cliche.

Tonight the OGC is going to sing on the steps of Orlando City Hall in support of something I've only got the vaguest notion of name on -- the UCF GLBT group is having a "coming out day" celebration. This is all I know. I wonder if I will be one of the few people there who isn't represented in the call letters.

I've come to realize that, unless it personally involves me, I don't give a flying freak who you have sex with, at least as far as gender, race and ethnicity are involved. I' ve got some issues about sex between adults and minors, and nonconsensual, and stuff like that. But after those are taken out, I really, really, REALLY don't care.

Most of all, I wish it wasn't a political issue.

This weekend the Science Channel reran "The Day The Universe Changed", that James Burke series from the 80's and one thing he discussed was how we feel safe in our rules so that we codify them into laws and traditions and are willing to fight and kill and die for them -- but that we will change them if the money is better. I spent some time thinking about it and I can't refute it.

Pause

'Superman' Christopher Reeve Dies at 52

I had hoped he would walk again. Perhaps now he will.

Friday, October 08, 2004

What doesn't hurt

I was overcome with a cleansing desire today -- opened the windows of my temperature controlled house and started on a pile of boxes stuck in a back corner. Among other treasure and garbage I came across a cache of photos that my dad had horded. Old photos, but not that old -- I was in many of them, at ages 7 and 9 and 12. Other people I remembered were in them. I found the long lost photo of my grandfather's gravesight.

And it didn't hurt. No urge to break down in tears, no lump in the throat, no papations.

There is a photo of me on Award day in junior high, my hands full of trophies and certificates (I was one of those kids), looking THIN. I mean, SKINNY. Not surprising, really. I think it was my eight grade photo and I was in the midst of the "diet pill" amphetamine haze (yes, doctor prescribed amphetamines for a 14 year old. I started when I was 11 and finally refused them when I was 15. There are reasons I was a straight A student for 3 years who had few friends, lots of depressive habits, and read every book that wandered my way.) I didn't look unhealthy, but there was all kinds of skinniness in that picture.

I was still convinced of my fatness. Everyone told me I was fat -- I think I had big thighs and calves because I walked and rode my bike a lot then, and rollerskated a lot. But the face, the neck, the chest, the arms -- skinny. Hard to believe. I don't remember feeling thin. I don't remember thinking I was thin. I'd been "dieting" -- aka developing my weird relationship with food, eating everything that was "bad" for me when no one was looking -- for about 4 years by then. Four years.

Four years. From the time I was about 10. I remember my mother fixing me meals consisting of a single hamburger pattie (fried), sliced tomato, and a spoonful of mac-n-cheese. That was a diet meal.

Very confusing.

What is it in my mind that I can't conquer about my weight? How many years before I figure it out?

Anyway, there's more stuff to be cleaned and I want to clean while moving doesn't hurt.


Tuesday, October 05, 2004

Chords

The last week or so have been dark and dreary, mostly shapeless passings of time in which I have (variously) bemoaned the accumulated years, the myriad little failures, the utter lonliness of my world, blah blah blah.

Today I hung my windchime back up. Good thing.

It's a lovely thing, a Grace Note, tuned in A minor 7/11, which is perhaps an odd chord to make me feel better. We took it down before Frances paid her visit and it's been in the front entry ever since. A minor 7/11 (you can work it out on a piano) is a favorite chord -- it speaks of sadness, as do all minor chords, but there's a wistfulness and a flavor of hope, too, probably in the 7th. It's an honest chord that sings about life's losses but tosses out good things as well. Like an Irish melody.

If you survey traditional Irish Music, you're bound to discover (sooner or later) that all Irish songs are about Love, Drinking, and Death, either singly or -- more commonly -- in some combination. You can somehow manage to write funny songs about Love, Drinking and Death, but I suspect you must be Irish to manage it. My genes remember just enough about Ireland to help me appreciate that fact, but not enough to make me drink much, which is probably just as good because I'm sure the German genes floating around with them would make me drink beer, and I can't stand the stuff. But I do like Riesling. Go figure. With my fried potatoes, thank you very much.

I've another chime that hangs in the back yard, a huge one, the longest pipe almost as tall as I am, with a more sonorous sound and a chord I can't remember without running back to check. It plays "Nyannie nyannie boo boo" when the wind is right, which can be irritating. When we clean up the back patio I'll hang it because when the wind blows the other way it sounds like church bells.

I joined a new singing group last night, a small ensemble from the Chorus who work very much like my old Ren Faire group did -- you make it up as you go. I can get into that. AND I CAN SING SOPRANO. I am so much NOT a first tenor.

Saturday, October 02, 2004

Not my best week

What has this week been? Another week in my life where I didn't really do anything, went from being quite happy and content to thinking my life was a long trail of misery and failure, and slept too little some days and too much on others.

Nothing really to write about. That doesn't usually stop me, does it? Well, this time is different.




Thursday, September 30, 2004

Banned Book Week

Yahoo! News - Go ask 'Alice' about Banned Books Week

Haven't managed to read a banned book -- unless you count resource books for "Mage: The Ascension", an RPG game I'm running. I suppose those would count if libraries carried them, but they aren't your typical library book, and each one comes with a disclaimer stating that "this is a game" etc.

Because some people need practical advice.

Monday, September 27, 2004

And today

we opened the windows -- for the first time in 4+ months -- and are letting the breeze blow through. It is temperate and breezy today, the distant sound of chainsaws like the bawling of calves. Trees are down everywhere, signs are torn up, the occasional house has roof damage and all of them have torn or missing shingles. But the sun is shining through high, scudding clouds, the air is mild and clean, and really, it isn't that bad.

Well, for us. For other folks, it isn't quite as pretty a morning, although the somewhat lower temperatures and breezes are a relief from unremittant heat and humidity if you've lost your power and A/C.

64 for more days and counting.

I keep hearing that song from the movie "The Poseidon Adeventure", which has to be one of the sappiest ear-worms ever, but...

There's got to be a morning after
If we can hold on through the night
We have a chance to find the sunshine
Let's keep on lookin' for the light

Oh, can't you see the morning after?
It's waiting right outside the storm
Why don't we cross the bridge together
And find a place that's safe and warm?

ahhh, the 70's.....
==============================================================

Last night's weird dream involved a couple I know. The woman was sadly informing me that, while staying at their house some weeks before, I had wiped off my lipstick and makeup on a square of very rare heirloom silk. She was tearful and reproachful and I could not understand how it had happened. Then she showed me the fabric.

It was a tissue. White, double layered, with the faintest smudge of pale foundation and some streaks of reddish hue. Even as she held it up, the layers began parting.

She was all about forgiving me if I just showed the appropriate amount of sorrow, grief, and perhaps some sort of compensation. Her husband was confused and obviously embarrassed. I offered to replace the thing and pulled some tissues from a nearby box. She denied they were the same. We held them up close to each other, hers and mine. Tiny, nearly invisible imprints on each were identical. She was crying over a piece of heirloom tissue, and was even shredding it as she cried. Nothing I could say would remedy the situation, so I left. I heard her husband begin yelling at her, and she was pleading that she'd had a difficult childhood.

I've no idea what it means, if anything, or where it came from, but I woke up feeling like I'd spent time with a crazy relative I had to be nice to.

Sunday, September 26, 2004

It's wet

Ol' Jeanne is blowing outside, but she hasn't turned north yet. She's still a healthy distance south -- although the trees and shrubs outside are bending and twisting in every direction and it SOUNDS terrible. We still have power (obviously) and, unless we get whammed when the storm turns north (looks like Tampa will get it this time) we should be ok.

Messy, but ok. I can handle that.

Still, my chances for fondue are low. Dammit.

Saturday, September 25, 2004

Here comes the rain again

and there's not a damn thing to be done about it.

I expect, actually, the death toll to be a little higher this time. People are worn out, weary, bored with going through their prep, over the whole adrenalin thing. Some are not going to do what they should do. Their judgement will be clouded. They will wait a little too long and try to leave when it's too late to go anywhere.

It's going to be ugly, I think.

For me personally, I'm pissed that the storm seems likely to ruin dinner plans with some of my favorite people at one of my favorite restaurants, plans that actually took a few weeks to come together. Petty, yes, but that's the truth. Our hurricane kit is packed and in the hallway, we've got canned food and drink for at least 5 days, we have propane for lamps and cookstoves, and the Husband has stocked our standup freezer with bags of ice from last time. All we really need is some catfood and the camping gear from the storage unit. We aren't even boarding our windows (that might bite us for the windows in the back, but we are prepared to deal with it)

And after all, this is my named storm. I was sort of wondering when she'd be coming to visit.

Inexplicable dogs, Inexplicable dreams

The twisted yet mundane nature of my dreams always leaves me feeling like I should be a supporting cast member in a middle rated sitcom.

This morning I have three separate dream memories and a bunch of confused images. The clearest is a commercial jingle over an image on a paper tag. The image is that of a girl, somewhere between 10 and 14, with short twin pigtails and a surprised, open-mouthed look. The picture is a black and white line drawing done in a heavy lined, woodcut style. I can see it quite clearly. She's looking down at something that appears to be just starting to explode. The jingle runs "She's a Zap Girl, Zap Girl, yeah!"

This really bothers me.

The next is an actual sitcom scene between Tim Conway and Mariel Hemingway. She's in her buxom teen years and he's still got hair with color. They are agonizing over their age disparity, with him telling her that he cannot date her because he's thirty and she's eighteen, and he's going to confess everything to her father (Tom Bosley -- remember him?) and he goes to the back door, rings the bell, and when Tom appears, says, in a defiant-yet-embarrassed Tim Conway manner, "I'm taking your daughter out. Have her ready by 7." Then he leaves. There is raucous canned laughter and Mariel stands, arms crossed, looking smug.

I don't get this one at all.

The last is the most confusing. I'm in some sort of department store with stark white floors looking at a rack of women's clothing, mostly thin fuzzy sweaters and pleated suede miniskirts in bright summer colors of red, turquoise and bright blue. There is a young couple with a baby in a stroller at the other end of the rack. The woman is pulling off clothes and holding them up against the baby -- they are, of course, far too big. Her husband looks tolerant. I make some lame joke, holding out the smallest red suede mini skirt, saying "This might look cute on her." The woman looks at me, puzzled, and I think for a minute she doesn't speak English. She grabs an armful of the clothes and lays them at my feet. As I'm putting them back, her husband explains that she's Lithuanian.

This isn't really an explanation. I move on, and in the housewares I discover a dishwasher ladder. Yeah, I know, but that's what it was. It was a long pole with a plastic square on the end and a curve on the other. One side of the platform was molded like steps, the other side was smooth and it was hinged on the pole. The idea was you balanced the steps against the front of your dishwater and counterbalanced the curved end -- it made no sense to me as I was looking at it, and certainly looked physics defying in the photo illustration. I played with it for a while until the Lithuanian woman and her husband came back around. They bought one, even though I warned them it wasn't going to work.

About this time, my dog woke me by banging her metal food dish against the bars of her crate, like she was a prisoner in Sing-Sing. The puzzling (and annoying) part of this is that her crate door was open and she was spilling her food all over. Calico is a highly inexplicable dog.

Friday, September 24, 2004

Toast Therapy

It's a weird sort of week. Tomorrow, it will be one year since I restarted talking to the world. I'm not tired of it yet, although sometimes I do wonder what I'm after.

This has been the week of Weird Tears. I find myself crying over odd things -- never big, sloppy crying jags with snot on my face and no tissues in sight, just little moments of severe choking up and wet eyes and everything sweeping over me like tons of water and I have to stand there somehow and not get swept away. I cannot get swept away. I've been swept away before and the long fight to get on the ground, feet down, and figure out where you are is just too long to go through again. It's easier by far to refuse to be swept off my feet.

Part of me suspects that, now that I'm post miscarriage, my body is trying to remember the whole "in sync with the moon" thing and this is all personal hormonal experimentation. That would explain why I'm fine and happy one minute, and seeking Kleenex the next. All my cats are now wary when I start the little hiccuping crying sound, because I've grabbed them each into a heartbroken hug and wiped my little tearstreaked face on freshly arranged fur. For my overly appearance consious cats, this is an insult of monstrous proportions. It takes HOURS to get fur arranged just right.

My cats know how I feel. They know exactly my emotional state. They just don't CARE.

So anyway, have I ever mentioned how much I love buttered toast? I love buttered toast. For a while, I was considering using a picture I have of toast with butter as a logo. Honest. I can go through a whole loaf of (really good) bread just making and eating toast. I don't need jelly or honey or peanutbutter. Just good toast and butter and I'm happy. Toast makes everything better because you can't eat it while you are crying. It won't work. Soggy buttered toast is a nasty thing. So, if I eat toast, I have to calm down, and since the toast is good, I feel better. Toast Therapy.

Thursday, September 23, 2004

More Poetry in the Judiciary!

There are important distinctions to be made in law, you know. Aside that, can a drunk on a horse really said to be driving? Most horses are smarter than that. And isn't the person who rear-ends you always in the wrong?

Yahoo! News - Court Rules a Horse Is Not a Vehicle

Of course, there is a certain poetic beauty in Justice Michael Eakin's dissent...

"A horse is a horse, of course, of course,
but the Vehicle Code does not divorce
its application from, perforce,
a steed as my colleagues said."

"'It's not vague,' I'll say until I'm hoarse,
and whether a car, a truck or horse
this law applies with equal force,
and I'd reverse instead."



I think more decisions should be handed down this way. Can anyone on the US Supreme Court come up with something this good?

More Summer Reruns - and it's Fall!

There was a time (long ago before cable TV) when summer television was nothing but reruns and movies-of-the-week, interrupted by baseball. I think the logic then was that in summertime, no one was staying inside to watch TV, so why bother with programming anything new?

Now, however, we live in a world where time of year has much less effect on television viewing. While reruns still exist, they tend to migrate to "TVLand" and independent stations. New TV shows have such a short initial life span that you can't even get interested in them before they are cancelled, much less see a rerun in the summer to be sure.

I wish someone would tell that to The Weather Channel

Ivan is reborn? That storm IS Jason. Now it's heading for Texas as a tropical storm. It's just unbelievable. And Jeanne (my namesake) is circling back around for a second stab at the East Coast. ("South Florida? Nobody rained on South Florida. It's fresh meat!")

One thing about Florida -- the weather is ALWAYS good for a blog entry.

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

You read what you want, I'll read what I want

Picked up the hint that Banned Book Week is coming up from Solonor because he's just a book banning kinda guy.

I don't quite grasp the purpose of banning books, just like I don't quite grasp the ongoing fuss and froth about Miss Jackson's 2 second titty. I don't quite know what it is people feel they are protecting their children from. If anything, such an incident is an opportunity to say "Honey, I don't beleive that's the right thing to do. I think it shows a lack of respect for the female body and sends a message about sexual conduct being cheap." Or whatever your point of view is. But, trust me, kids know what breasts look like. The more you hide something, the bigger deal the hidden thing becomes.

My own experience runs like that -- for example, my parents never made a fuss over alcohol. My mom was a bartender, and my dad worked for a beer distributor. If I asked to taste a drink, I was allowed. Usually I hated it. If I wanted to have a drink at a "grown up" party, my mom would fix me a mild -- but alcoholic -- version. I rarely finished them. In highschool, I never went drinking with friends because I had no interest in it. There was no mystery. I had seen people get drunk before and had a low opinion of it. I was legal to drink at 18 but did not celebrate with any alcohol at all. I've been tipsy possibly twice or three times in my life. I've never gotten so drunk I was sick or passed out or could not control what I did. I credit my moderate attitude toward alcohol to my parents, and their open attitude about it.

I read all kinds of books while growing up, often running across books out of my understanding. I had some very good teachers who guided my reading, making suggestions and teaching me about literature. They taught me to pick out the messages in books, and to develop my own judgements by comparing my thoughts to what I was reading. "Protecting" someone from an idea by continuing ignorance of that idea is not protection. It is abuse. It is better by far to discuss the idea and to explain why you disapprove.

Of course, if you don't know why you disapprove, if you are reacting emotionally to propaganda and the assumptions of others, if you haven't examined and thought about something, then, yes, you can find ideas a scary thing.

One idea that I find particularly interesting to discuss is the idea of killing. It is a tenet of our society that killing is wrong. Yet, we send soldiers to war to kill others, because sometimes killing is right. We support the ideas of killing in self defense. Many support the idea of state sponsored killing as a form of punishment for killing. We will watch fictional depictions of killing, and allow children to watch them, as entertainment. No one feels particularly moved to "protect" children from such things, or they seek to "protect" by preventing a child from knowing and discussing it. There is no reason, no thought, applied.

A child is protected with knowledge, not ignorance. Read a banned book, and encourage a child to read and discuss one.


Giving It All Away

I donated my dad's pickup truck. It's going to support the local public radio station.

It's an old, black 1990 Ford F150. Huge. It's been sitting in the driveway all year. I took it as my "fee" for being executor to my dad's will. It's a big roaring manual transmission. I can't drive it -- I can just manage the clutch. We held on to it because we had the boat and it was the only vehicle with a hitch. The boat was donated a few months ago. Time for the truck to go.

Funny thing was how much that truck reminds me of my Dad. He didn't have it very long -- he bought it used with incredibly low mileage maybe 2 years before he died. The'79 Cadillac SeVille he had before lasted 18 years. I learned to drive on that thing, although I could never parallel park it. It had a three body trunk, and there were still pine needles from our very last live Christmas tree in there.

But it's time. Slowly, slowly, I'm peeling away the things to which I cling so hard, the things of my past. So much of my life has been temporary, it seems, that I get attached to things. I hold on to everything until eventually I realise what a lot of junk I carry around with me. The truck is one more piece of that. I can't drive it, we don't use it, and it isn't my Dad. It's just an old truck that I can't sell for anything, but I can get a tax write-off for it, and support something worthwhile, so that's what I'm doing.

How hard it is amazes me. I'm serious. This is hard. When the tow truck comes to haul it off, I will most likely cry. I hope I don't until they leave. It's too hard to explain.

I try to think of my life in terms of what I have, but sometimes it seems my life is all about what I've lost. I think I've moved beyond something, gotten over it, finally made myself realize that clinging to all that loss is not good for me, but sometimes I find myself back in time, at the moment it happened, standing there in my who-I-was-then shoes, going through it all again.

Ugh. I'm fighting off big waves of "poor pitiful me". Things hurt. That's how it goes. You move on. You go past it.

Having the space in the driveway will be good. It looks like a used car lot out there now. That truck is not my dad, and doesn't represent my dad, and getting rid of it is not doing anything bad to my dad's memory or to him or who he was and is to me. It's just a thing, ephemera, a gas guzzling monster of a machine, and it should go to someone who can use it and appreciate it.

Right now, thought, I have to hug a cat.