missroserose: (Freedom on a Bike)
It's been thirteen months, hundreds of miles, a few traffic near-misses, and a slightly embarrassing amount spent on accessories, repairs, and eventually a new bike, but I'm beginning to feel like a seasoned urban cyclist. I bike so much (and Brian works from home so much) that, for the first time since we moved here, I've given up our monthly transit pass subscriptions; it makes more sense now to pay as we go, or nab Brian a weekly pass if he's got an on-site job.

My unstated, very-unofficial goal for the spring/summer/fall has been to only use the car for trips involving at least two people. With the notable exception of my once-or-twice monthly Costco/Trader Joe's stock-up trips (I have yet to figure out how to load a pallet of toilet paper onto a bike), this has been surprisingly doable. Especially in a crowded city, biking is often faster than driving for short distances; it may not be quite as fast for longer ones, but that's balanced out by not having to search/pay for parking at the end. (The one exception currently on my regular schedule is the Sauganash studio, which is a fifteen-minute drive with a free parking lot at the end, versus a 25-30 minute ride. But that's balanced out somewhat by being a far more pleasant commute by bike, as well as getting to eat All The Calories afterward.) There's definitely been an adjustment curve with my physical condition, but I feel like I'm largely over the hump, even if my hip and glute muscles might not agree, heh.

All of which is to say, biking is feeling less like a novelty and more like a lifestyle change. I'm...torn on saying whether I'd consider it part of my identity; there's a lot of aspects of the urban-biker subculture I either don't fit into or am less than enthused with (I have zero desire to do triathlons or multi-city tours; I bike largely for commuting/eating purposes rather than recreation; I try not to look down on people who primarily drive, not all of us are able-bodied enough to pedal everywhere). But I think it is, to a degree; I like who I am better when I'm biking most places.

I'm not sure how this coming winter is going to shape up. Last year I put my bike away in late November when the temperature was regularly dropping below freezing; there was more than one period over the winter, however, when the mercury rose and I regretted not having it handy. I think I might try leaving it out this year and seeing how often I can ride it. I am nowhere near hardcore enough to ride in snow, but if the roads are clear and I have enough layers I don't see why colder temperatures have to be a barrier. I suppose a lot will depend on the weather.

In more fun news, I've been combing through Redbubble looking for stickers to decorate my new bike - hence the reflections on biking culture and where I fit (or don't) in it. Still, even with the hardcore athlete/snooty stickers discounted, there are some good candidates, even if my all-time favorite is untrue for me on every level, haha. I like the colors in this one, and the fanciful vintage air of this one; this one has a nice minimalist feel to it as well as being a good shape for a crossbar. This one probably gets the award for most accurate/most likely to be purchased, possibly with this one as a complement; also, it's nice to see an actively non-snooty message in a bike-oriented sticker.

How about you? Are there any subcultures you probably fit in but are hesitant to actively jump into?
Have you ever tried something new and discovered you hadn't even realized it was part of who you wanted to be? Seen any great bike stickers lately? Let's discuss!
missroserose: (Life = Creation)
I was reflecting just now that lately I've been both hyper-aware of what day of the week it is, and completely unaware of how the days are passing. The former because it's the basis for my entire schedule, and the latter because my commitments vary so much week to week that it's hard to get any sense of cycle or rhythm. I'm not overextended, precisely; I've been doing better about keeping my pace sustainable, and taking days off when I need them. But I feel like lately all I've written about here is either the books I'm reading or how tired I am; this seems to be an indicator of the thoughts that occupy my downtime.

Which is not to say I haven't been doing fun things - this summer has been full of them! I went to a storytelling event with my friend Andrea just before leaving for Washington; Brian and I went to the Welcome to Night Vale live show; we took Jamila to see Aladdin and Jamila and her mother to see Hamilton on Broadway, we went to see a local production of Three Days of Rain solely on the strength of the company's previous performances (a gamble that paid off; it was an excellent show), we've been rock climbing with our friend Erin a couple of times, as well as the various just-hanging-out events like movie nights and festivals that summer here is full of. To paraphrase Alice Isn't Dead, Chicago in the summer is happy in a way few other cities seem to be. So it's not that I've been doing nothing other than work. It's just...I don't have a lot of downtime, and a lot of days I fall into bed exhausted. Maybe that's why we all curl up into our hermit-shells come fall and winter - we're so tired from running around so manically for months.

Still. Perhaps I'll block tomorrow off for a rest - no plans to go out, just take a yoga class and some much-needed downtime. (Now that I've said this, I'm almost guaranteed to get a text from someone hoping for a last-minute massage booking, haha.) Saturday is my birthday; Brian and I are getting massages and then going to check out some open houses for a couple of condos in the neighborhood that look promising. Onward and forward.

...I wonder if that isn't actually the fundamental source of my difficulty achieving balance - that need, a la Miles Vorkosigan, to keep the forward momentum going, lest I fall into another rut, leading to a depressive episode. That might explain a little about that sense of almost-fear that feels like it's driving me sometimes.
missroserose: (Balloons and Ocean)
One quirk of the Swedish language that I'm particularly fond of is that the words for "heart" and "brain" are only one letter apart. This just feels right to me; we need each as much as the other, and God knows there are times when it feels like they're pulling us apart with equal force.

Luckily, as such times go, this one's rather less high-stakes and more pleasant than some. The good news: I'm buying a new bicycle for my birthday! I've been riding my 80s-era steel-frame Schwinn road bike around for a good year and a half now, and it's been a solid beater, but the repairs are starting to run more than I paid for it initially, which seems like a good point to start looking at nicer options - God knows I've proven that I'm going to put a more expensive bike to good use. (When I walked into my neighborhood bike shop yesterday and said I was thinking about investing in something newer with a warranty, the woman who does the repairs - and has thus seen me on an almost monthly basis for a year and a half now - laughed and said "Yeah, you deserve a new bike!") Also worth considering is weight; Chicago's not a hilly town, so it's less of a big deal when riding, but I store my bike on my deck when I'm not riding, and carrying a nearly-thirty-pound frame up three flights of stairs versus a 17-pound frame makes a bit of a difference, especially after a long ride.

The dilemma: yesterday I found a bike at the shop that I really like. It's not a well-known brand (KHS, which Google tells me is a Korean manufacturer), but that's not necessarily a drawback - I'm not planning on attempting to resell it anytime soon, the price point is lower than a Cannondale or a Trek or something similarly recognizable, and (this is Chicago) it's not going to be as tempting a target for theft. I brought a friend with me who's much more knowledgable about bike stuff, and she says the frame is solid, but the components are mixed in their quality - the gearbox is high-end, the brakes decent, the shifters sort of mid-range. This fits with both what I've been able to find online about the brand (a couple of people mentioned they make strong frames with mixed parts) and my experience riding it (the smoothness of the pedaling is phenomenal, the shifters were fine but a little more finicky). I'm pretty sure I can live with that, and if not, there's no reason I can't get them upgraded later on.

So now to the dilemma: my friend thinks that I should hit up another shop or two and try out a few more bikes in my price range from different brands to see if I like any of them more. And, objectively, I agree it's a good idea! ...but that requires researching shops, getting down to them, riding around, assessing, not to mention finding the time in my schedule to do so...and some part of me's like "but you could be riding your amazing new bike this week!" Ah well. No matter which way I jump, here, I imagine I'll be pretty happy with the results. :)

(Hrm...I need a bicycling icon...)
missroserose: (After the Storm)
Happy Day After Loud Patriotic Noises day! On Monday I taught two classes at Sauganash, my usual 1:30 and the 6:15. What with the long holiday weekend, I had a huge crowd for the 1:30 class - 20 people (my usual count is between two and five) crammed into a relatively small studio. It turned out to be an awesome class, though; despite the fact that there was a whole range of skill levels, everyone meshed well and flowed together, and I felt like I had a good rapport with people. I got lots of positive feedback from folks afterward, too, which is always gratifying, and a teacher who took my class gave me a good tip on dealing with crowds. I was curious if the evening class was going to be similarly crowded, or if everyone was going to be drinking by then...as it happened, it was closer to the latter, with all of four people, one of them Breanne (the studio manager), taking my class so she could give me my internship evaluation. (As hinted at in the headline, it was almost completely positive; she said I was clearly already an excellent instructor, and she couldn't wait to see what I started doing with the more advanced classes. She also particularly mentioned my music and gave me possibly the best compliment I've ever had - "The choice of songs at the beginning and the way they fit with the timing made me feel like I was in a musical!" So many warm fuzzies.)

It's been a busy week, but luckily I managed to get some reading done, albeit mostly yesterday at the park. So on to the meme:


What I've just finished reading:

The Kissing Booth Girl and Other Stories, by A.C. Wise. A collection of short stories, many of them with some kind of queer romance theme. A lot of them feel like they could have been fleshed out a little more; the title story especially seemed incomplete, like it was really a novella rather than a short story. Still, there's a distinct sense of atmosphere throughout most of the stories; I found "The Final Girl Theory", about an archetypal 70s-esque slasher/mondo/gore horror film and the cult following that had sprung up around it, particularly chilling.

The Wicked + The Divine vol. 5: Imperial Phase pt. 1, by Kieron Gillen. The gods are in the second year of their supposed two-year lifespan. And, as an academic dryly notes in this volume, "There are very few stories of gods bathing in blood in the first year of their return." There's a lot to unpack here, about the effects of power on ungrounded human minds, about the ways in which various personalities deal with the stress caused by a sense of disempowerment, and about exactly how dangerous a powerful person who feels disempowered and victimized can be. (That last feels especially cogent for our times, on an individual and a group level.) Given all of that, the subplot about The Darkness - an as-yet-unexplained threat that the gods are so far the only ones equipped to deal with - feels almost like a red herring; far more interesting has been seeing how the embattled deities try to aggregate their own fecal matter, or (in the case of Sakhmet) don't even try.


What I'm currently reading:

The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue, by Mackenzi Lee. A complete impulse buy, and I'm all of one chapter in (in truth, I burned through the last of The Kissing Booth Girl almost solely so I could get to this one - I was that charmed by the description), but this is shaping up to be a new favorite. Henry Montague, a brash and self-centered young 18th-century British lord, is off on a Grand Tour of Europe with his (sigh) younger sister and his best friend/confidante/longtime secret crush. Swashbuckling action, perhaps-requited pining, and encounters with historical figures have all been promised, and given the strength of the main character's voice in the first chapter, I'm already sold. I fully intend to savor every chapter.

Future Sex, by Emily Witt. Despite being almost three-quarters done (and not a long book), this one's feeling more and more like a slog. I've been reading the chapter on polyamory, which I have something of a personal stake in, and find so many problematic aspects with her analysis, stemming in large part from the fact that her case studies come almost entirely from a single demographic (rich white Silicon Valley workers in San Francisco). While I realize most practitioners of poly come from a background with a certain level of privilege (it's hard to juggle multiple relationships when you're working three jobs just to survive), there's all sorts of unexamined assumptions here, especially in the couple privilege and unicorn-hunting fields. The entire tone is faux-supportive-while-actually-being-condescending - "Look at these adorably earnest young people and how dedicated they are to their alternate lifestyle that their parents already tried and failed at in the 70s! But they really think they can make it work!" It reminds me a lot of the New York Times article on polyamory that generated a lot of justifiable resentment from the community - it's at least a more nuanced perspective than the usual "blog post illustrated by stock photo of three pairs of feet sticking out from under the covers", but nonetheless feels written to reinforce the couple-centric monogamous norm rather than challenge it.

Now that I think about it, that's probably my biggest issue with the entire book; supposedly the author's writing about possible roadmaps to future ways humans might engage with each other sexually, thanks to technology and changing social mores, and yet the whole book is written with a sense of exoticism - "Look at this! Isn't it strange/disgusting/fascinating/novel?" - that's very much at odds with its purported mission, and only serves to reinforce the "othering" of those particular lifestyle choices. Bleh.
I'll probably finish it, if only because I'm pretty close to the end already, but for a book I had such high hopes for initially, it's been awfully disappointing.


What I plan to read next

I'm beginning to feel like my reading style is downright Heisenbergian, or perhaps Schrödingeresque - there are possibilities, and maybe even probabilities, but the fact is I just can't know until I'm there. So as usual...stay tuned!
missroserose: (Warrior III)
Almost exactly six months after I began teacher training, I have completed my first day of paid teaching. It's official - I'm a professional yoga teacher now!

It's been a long journey, filled with a lot of work, a lot of anxiety, a lot of learning about community, a lot of growth, and a lot of realizing exactly how much I have grown but hadn't discovered it yet. And now I'm here. Which is really only a brief stopping point - I have so much yet to learn. But it's still a point worth celebrating, I think.

I got this card to send to a dear friend, but hopefully he won't mind me using a picture of it here, as it's perfect to the moment:



Here's to learning, and growing, and doing difficult things we want to do in spite of our anxiety about them.
missroserose: (Default)
Massage work is picking up. I have a beautiful new tattoo. And I just accepted an intern position teaching at CorePower.

Spring has sprung.
missroserose: (Default)
I've always loved the archetype of the leap of faith. It shows up in literal form in more stories than I can count, but as with all archetypes, it resonates because it's a metaphor for an integral part of our lives. In any undertaking, there comes a point when you've done all you can do; you've trained, you've studied, you've worked hard, and you've sent the culmination of all that energy out into the world. You've propelled yourself forward with everything you could, and now all you can do is hang suspended in the air, waiting to see if your ballistic arc is wide enough to carry you to the other side.

Which doesn't make it any more comfortable to be in the midst of that arc, with no visible means of support and no idea if the opposite side is coming any nearer.

All of which is to say, I'm having a tough time waiting to hear back on my yoga audition. My default mode is simply not to think about it and get on with other aspects of my life, and that's working to a degree. But it doesn't help with the fluttery nervous feeling I get when checking my email (even knowing it's far too early to be hearing back), or buying tickets (what if I end up teaching a class right then?), or what have you. I'm used to a strong internal locus of control; it's hard to face the fact that significant forks in my life occur due to the decisions and agendas of people I have little to no influence over (and, often, don't even know exist). But it's good practice in patience and acceptance, I suppose.

Luckily, I have a number of (more prosaic) things to be grateful for in my life right now. My wrenched back is 90% better after less than a week - which surprises and pleases me, given that my wrenched knee took something like a month to get to this point. Massage work is picking up, thanks to the new spa management, seasonal changes, and my being more available post-teacher-training. I have a massage of my own booked for this afternoon. And after years of waiting, tomorrow I go in for my tattoo. There does seem to be something poetically appropriate about having a set of wings drawn in my flesh during a time that I'm hanging suspended from a leap of faith.
missroserose: (Default)
I've been trying to write a life-update sort of post, but I'm recovering from a cold right now and my brain doesn't feel up to the herculean task of narrative coherence. Suffice it to say: I've finished Extensions, I'm working on getting my CPR certification and applying to teach. Auditions are likely to be around the end of March, which should be interesting, as I'm booked for my first tattoo right around that time. I miss writing letters to people and am trying to pick it back up, however, see above re: narrative coherence. Brian and Jamila have been making numerous batches of macaroons, and they come out perfectly puffed and chewy-crispy each time; I'm having to be careful not to overindulge and make my blood sugar grumpy at me.

There, life update done. Meantime, inspired by [livejournal.com profile] osprey_archer, I'm trying out a weekly book meme thing. I haven't been as consistent with book reviews as I'd like, lately; I'm hoping that this will help me get my thoughts out in the moment and thus reduce the time investment involved. Plus it'll mean my LJ gets updated more consistently...assuming I prioritize the time to actually do it every week, heh. Still, it's worth a shot!

What I've Just Finished Reading

--Temptations of a Wallflower, by Eva Leigh. I have an interesting relationship with the (hetero) romance genre; I like how their heroines have just as much agency as their heroes, and for reasons I've never quite grasped I'm a sucker for period romance. However, the formula is strict enough that the storytelling often feels stifled or shoehorned in, with conflicts and resolutions arising from plot necessity rather than organically from the characters. This one's in the middle of the spectrum on that point; not the most egregious example, as the characters are strongly drawn, but motivations do get a little muddy in places. I did like the hook of a heroine who secretly writes erotic fiction; the samples in the text were a trifle threadbare in their writing to convincingly be all-of-London bestseller material, but then, look at the 50 Shades series.

--Wanted, A Gentleman, by K.J. Charles. Now, when it comes to gay romance, I am all about it - especially Charles' work. Her story craft has been uneven in the past, but she's clearly coming into her own on that front - and, as always, her characters are beautifully drawn and have seriously smoking chemistry. I particularly like how her latest stories have included men of color; she's clearly researched what life was like for men of African descent in Victorian London, and convincingly portrays their even-more-fraught tangle of emotions hidden beneath strict social mores.

--Season of Wonder, edited by Pauly Guran. A collection of Christmas-themed short stories with a genre bent. As with most collections, this was hit-or-miss for me, but (as with most collections) I appreciated the chance to sample some authors I'd never heard of, whose work I might not otherwise have picked up. Particular standouts for me were Robert Charles Wilson's "Julian: A Christmas Story", which transcended its shopworn genre tropes through strong worldbuilding and its narrator's strength of character, and Connie Willis' "Newsletters", a humorous take on the alien-abduction story. And Janet Kagan's "The Nutcracker Coup" entertained me to no end; I'm always a sucker for a story about engineering social change through refusing shame.

--"The Isthmus Variation", by Kris Millering. My personal elevator pitch for this story, which I'm rather proud of, is "a virtuoso burlesque of intrigue and guile". I love the pacing, the way the narrator slowly reveals the Game, and the game within the Game, and the game within that. If the story has one weakness, it's a certain emotional remove from the characters; what could have been a gut-wrenching tragedy is instead a series of saddening events observed from a distance. Still, as a narrative tableau and a demonstration in worldbuilding, it's beautifully executed.

What I'm Reading Now

--Bara roligt i Bullerbyn, by Astrid Lindgren. This is the first non-English book I've ever seriously tried to read, and whoa, is it a humbling experience. It's a good one for me to start with, though: it's just a little above my current fluency level, so I only have to hit Google Translate a few times per page; also, being aimed at kids, it uses a lot of simple, repetitive language, and has occasional pictures. (That was part of the humbling - I was a precocious reader as a kid, and I literally can't remember ever needing the pictures to help me understand an English language book. But I need Google something like half as often when there's a picture of what's going on. Context helps!) Additionally, I read this book in an English translation as a kid, so it's entertaining to me to be working my way through one of the stories, suddenly remember something about it, and then find it in Swedish a page or two later.

--Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow. Having listened to the musical a slightly embarrassing number of times, I'm now listening to the audiobook of its source, and aside from my brain wanting to occasionally go off on lyric tangents (many lines from the musical are taken directly from this book), it's a pretty cracking read - Lin-Manuel Miranda did not have to exaggerate when it came to the drama in Hamilton's life. It's good to get the less-streamlined, more nuanced telling of many of the events, as well as context for some of the big historical moments, but I have to admit I'm curious how much of this I'll retain in ten years - as opposed to the musical, where the lyrics are probably permanently imprinted on my brain.

--Meditations From the Mat: Daily Reflections From The Path of Yoga, by Rolf Gates. This is one of the more popular selections among the teachers at CPY, and I can see why - it's a series of reflections on various yogic philosophies and their applicability to this person's life, and thus to life in general. I think it's the second part of that that's not quite sitting right with me; there's a lot of presumed universality that just kind of puts my hackles up. I'm a big fan of letting everyone find their own path, and for a practice that supposedly touts just that philosophy, yoga has an awful lot of evangelists. (My friend Kat to me, in response to my "yoga's done a lot of good things for me but it's not for everyone and if you don't jive to it that's okay" speech - "I think you're the only person who practices yoga who feels that way.") Still, it's pretty clearly written for the audience I'm likely to be teaching, so I suspect it'll be useful, and there's definitely some good stuff in there. Plus the gourmet-jelly-bean format (read one or two reflections at once) helps keep it from feeling overwhelmingly smug. I'll probably be working my way through this one for a while; further updates as my feelings warrant.

What I Plan to Read Next

--All About Love, by bell hooks. This is actually more of a "plan to finish" - I read half of it and promptly lost my copy, only to find it again...right after a friend loaned me her copy. >< (Where do you hide a book? In a library...or in my case, a bedroom overflowing with books stacked two-deep on far too many shelves.) There's some really excellent stuff here, on defining and reclaiming the term "love" from its watered-down and eroded cultural niche, and on recognizing the many forms of relationships referred to as "love" but based instead on codependency, social expectation, or habit. I'm looking forward to seeing where hooks takes it.
missroserose: (Default)
Now that the temperature is regularly below freezing, I decided it's time to put the bikes away for the season. (The streets are still clear, and in honesty I could probably add extra layers and keep it up, but planning a little extra time to catch a warm bus - even a warm bus that can be a bit unreliable time-wise - is frankly much more appealing than biking into a freezing headwind.) Our building has four bike hangers in the storage area and significantly more bikes, so I'm a little concerned about storage, but I check and - hurrah! - two of them are still free. I go back up to the porch, intending to unlock their respective cable locks and take them downstairs to hang up. Instead:

--I try to unlock Brian's bike, only to discover that his cable lock is frozen shut. Luckily, being Alaskans, we always have WD-40 on hand; I grab the bottle, squirt some into his lock, and work it in. Still no luck.

--I move over to try my bike, which has been used more recently, and that lock is frozen too - although a quick squirt of WD-40 solves the issue. I wrap the cable lock around the bike for storage and carry it downstairs, marveling at how much lighter it is without the 30 to 40 pounds of pannier bag I usually have attached when I'm going somewhere.

--I put the bike on the rack, only to realize that it's competing for space with the building's lawnmower. Some rearranging later, I manage to get the lawnmower and bike occupying minimal space without blocking the door. Partial Success!

--Encouraged by my triumph, I decide to tackle Brian's bike now rather than putting it off until later (when the other hanger may have been claimed). The WD-40 still hasn't de-iced the lock, so I default to the next trick in the Alaskan's arsenal and grab my salon-quality super-hot high-power blowdryer (thanks, Ian! Your Christmas present has been so useful!) and take it outside. The extra-long cord is juuuust long enough to reach from the plug to the other side of the deck, where the bike is.

--After a minute of blasting with extra hot air, the lock reluctantly opens. I squirt the end pieces for good measure, working them in and out a few times, and then wrap the cable around the bike and carry it downstairs, hanging it on the spare rack. Complete Success!

I'm just glad I didn't have to get the torch-style lighters out - I doubt the cable locks' plastic housing would have stood the heat...

Bag Lady

Sep. 27th, 2016 01:50 pm
missroserose: (Default)
I've been saying to people lately that I wish I had one of those "It has been XX days since our last workplace accident" signs, modified to fit my mental health. For the record, it has been 09 days since my last full-blown anxiety episode, and only one of those days started with the quick-trigger adrenaline response that heralds a bad day. Luckily it was a workday, so I was able to breathe through it until I got to the spa and got into the swing of things. Hurrah for working in a field that requires mindfulness and focus. (My friend the yoga teacher/Instagram happiness guru was telling me that she enjoys teaching yoga for much the same reason, and we compared notes on the similarity of the experience. When you have to hold that space for someone else, somehow the effort seems much less than when you're trying to do it for your self. I wonder if some of that is our brains' well-known ability to downplay their own problems, or if it's yet another example of how it's so much easier to go the extra mile for others than for ourselves. Maybe both.)

It's hard not to feel like a little bit of a drama queen for saying "I feel better" - it's not like I've been nonfunctional. Life has been fine, what with work and hanging out with friends, and even enjoying myself here and there. There's just been a cyclically encroaching-and-receding-and-reencroaching cloud of dread hanging over a lot of it, which makes it hard to find that deep-seated gratitude and joy in life that marks the really good days. But despite the relative lack of difference from an outward perspective, I do feel deeply and fundamentally better of late, so I'm going to own that. It's good to be feeling better! Even this insane election hasn't managed to cast a pall; I'm not sure if that's the effects of the changing seasons (hurrah for fall!), or me getting better at accepting things, or what. But I'll take it.

Another potential contributor has been my latest project. To wit: after seeing this post on Facebook, I decided on a whim to gather supplies to make 100 bags to take down to the local homeless encampments. (Aside: I find the term "blessing bag" to be a little twee and condescending, but I haven't been able to think of anything to replace it with. Does anyone have suggestions? End of aside.) My gut told me that having something positive to focus on would help me regain some sense of control and contribution, and I was willing to trust that feeling, even if it wasn't likely to effect any real change in the grand scheme of things.

Unfortunately, my gut does not understand finances well, and initially I was worried that my plans had been far too over ambitious. Toothpaste, deodorant, toothbrushes, maxi pads, and even condoms are all relatively cheap in bulk, but stuff like high-quality granola bars and wool socks (winter is coming, after all) add up fast, and while I don't begrudge the money for the needy, there's only so much I can justify shelling out while still sticking to our saving-for-a-house budget. To my surprise, though, when I started spreading the word in hopes people would come over Sunday and help me assemble the bags, I got lots of offers of financial help as well. One friend found a great deal on the socks, another sent me a contribution that ended up almost perfectly covering the granola bars, and other folks have been sending smaller-but-cumulatively-helpful amounts as well, or ordering things off our Amazon list. All that, plus several folks have offered to come help assemble the bags, when originally I had expected maybe one or two. I feel a little bit like my life has turned into the Stone Soup parable; one of the contributors even thanked me for having the idea and putting things together so she could do something to help. I'm more than a little humbled by the experience. And I think Sunday's going to be a lot of fun.
missroserose: (Default)
Hello again, Chicago! It's good to be back. I was saying to Brian recently that my semi-regular trips home to Anchorage, over the years, have been an excellent indicator of how much I like where I'm living. When we lived in Juneau, it was nice to get somewhere that felt (slightly) less isolated; when I was coming from Arizona, it was such a relief to get out of the heat and see green and open water again. Now, as much as I like visiting my mother, I'm genuinely sorry that it has to come at the expense of a week-plus of things to do in Chicago, hah. But! My mother is all moved in to her new place (if still in the throes of her decorating frenzy), and it's even more gorgeous than the pictures made it look. It's not somewhere I'd want to live permanently - far too isolated, with nothing within walking distance - but it'll be nice to visit her now and then for a change of pace. (Luckily, she feels much the same way about Chicago. Hurrah for complementary family preferences!)

Speaking of things to do in Chicago, last night I some friends and I went to the first of this summer's movies In Millennium Park. (We brought a picnic dinner, but despite arriving almost an hour early, the entire lawn was taken, so we ended up grabbing seats and just passing the fried chicken and salad and wine back and forth.) I actually enjoyed the movie far more than I expected to. Ferris Bueller's Day Off isn't a favorite of mine, exactly - I always found Ferris to be kind of a twerp, which isn't helped by his complete lack of character arc - but there's something undeniably special about getting to see all those gorgeous shots of Chicago while surrounded by that very same skyline and a cheering crowd. The best part, by far, was when damn near the entire pavilion got up and danced and sang to the "Twist & Shout" sequence. (I was lamenting on Facebook that I didn't get any pictures/video, but...that would have meant I'd have to stop dancing and singing. Nah.) Afterward, Lindsay got a picture of Brian and Jamila and me under the Pritzker's frankly amazing architecture, and later on in the evening I got a nice shot of part of the nighttime skyline as seen through the superstructure. This city is far from perfect, but I do love the very real sense of civic pride we have.

Speaking of civic pride, I've gotten on the sucker list for the Lyric Opera's educational outreach programs, and I've got to give their phone fundraisers credit - they know their stuff. They always ask if now's a good time to talk, they're unfailingly gracious, they ask you about your recent experience at whatever performance, talk about the goals and achievements of their programs, and start with an aspirational sell - "These are all the awesome thank-you gifts you get if you donate at this level" - but never come off as less than wholeheartedly grateful if you offer a (sometimes much) smaller donation. I think what's really impressed me, though, is their enthusiasm; they don't come off as hired telemarketers, but people who are genuinely passionate about music and opera and want to share it with the community. Helping give kids in underfunded schools in my community access to art and music education is a pretty easy sell for me already, but way to make people feel good about giving, Lyric. A++ would donate again.

And speaking of...hrmm. Not sure how I can segue into something about biking from opera fundraising. But! I've got my bike all kitted out for pedaling around Chicago. (Bet y'all can't guess what I named it, heh.) I'm still taking baby steps regarding where and how much traffic I'm comfortable dealing with, but as I was telling my mother, I actually feel far safer on the streets in Chicago than I would in someplace suburban like Anchorage. For one thing, the exponential traffic density and unpredictable patterns mean that people are paying much closer attention to the road, as well as by necessity limiting their speed. Plus people here are much more used to cyclists on the road. In Anchorage traffic moves too quickly; you have to ride either on the shoulder, the sidewalk, or a bike path, and cars don't look for you. I nearly got run over a few times crossing streets as a teenager; while driving my mother's car just a few days ago, I was a little saddened to see a woman on a bike slam on her brakes when she saw me about to cross her path to turn into a parking lot. (I would have let her go first!...but you just can't depend on that attitude in suburban environments.) By comparison, I took a fairly busy road to the store during rush hour yesterday, and actually made better time than most of the cars by dint of being able to cruise by in the gap between the parked cars and the flow of traffic. Though I did keep a very close eye out for car doors that might open in my path.
missroserose: (Default)
It's 6:30 AM on Christmas Eve, and rather than sleeping like a normal person (or a normal person without children), my brain is apparently wide awake. Not unpleasantly so, oddly; I think knowing that I have plenty of time to catch up on sleep is helpful in keeping the "must get back to sleep/can't sleep, going to be short on sleep/must get back to sleep" stress cycle at bay. But enough that coming out to the living room and making tea and sitting and admiring the Christmas tree felt like an attractive option.

I've been writing letters to, and gradually getting to know, a friend-of-a-friend who's going through a tough transitionary period in her life. We've been Facebook acquaintances for years but (as transitions often are) she's pretty lonely right now, with a lot of difficult issues and contradictory beliefs and unhelpful coping mechanisms to sort through. And at one point, she said something along the lines of this: "Tell me about your life. Because I read your posts and I wonder if you're really that happy."

This hit a bit of a nerve, and has resulted in quite a bit of rumination. Not because I'm unhappy, but because of the context. See, one of the issues I've struggled with most, both in person and on social media, is the desire to always appear happy and content, no matter my actual emotional state. It's both a way of defending myself and my life choices - if I'm happy, no one can question whether I've done the 'right' things in life, can they? - and, in a way, a form of revenge. All those people who've wished me ill over the course of my life can just eat it.

Obviously there are a lot of problems with this; for one thing, as I've discovered over the past decade or so, vulnerability is a powerful social tool, and studiously refusing to use it hamstrings your interpersonal interactions. But the more pertinent issue here, I think, is that it's just not possible for anyone to be happy all the time. We talk about "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness" in this country as if the first two will naturally lead to the third, and perhaps they do: the key word being pursuit. Even "hap", the root word of "happy", literally means "luck" or "chance"; hence why we also see it in "happenstance", "haphazard", and "hapless". For all that our culture is poised to sell you happiness at a moment's notice, guaranteed, we completely ignore that most of our moments of happiness are more like a cat in a sunbeam. Even if we don't change, the sunbeam moves on; our mental balancing point reasserts itself. (The flipside, of course, is that people who go through horrible experiences also eventually get back to that balancing point. It just doesn't make sense, from a survival standpoint, for us to be constantly on one end of the scale or the other.)

And then there's the question of whether we're talking about short- or long-term. When I woke up and opened my computer, I had about two-thirds of a blog post written, complaining about a bunch of miscellaneous stuff - petty things like waking up and being out of coffee, or forgetting my work clothes and having to block off the first half-hour of my schedule so I could get new ones; all the way up to more overarching things like being exhausted from a six-hour shift at the chiropractor's and my crazy schedule making it feel like I'd practically missed Christmas this year. But before I could finish it and click "post", Brian and I had dinner and watched some Star Trek, and the food and relaxation time helped recharge my cope - enough that I decided not to post my whining, since none of it was really all that important; I simply had been losing perspective thanks to exhaustion and low blood sugar.

Long-term, though, could take us all the way back to the beginnings of this blog, almost exactly twelve years ago, which was the first time someone asked me if I was happy with my life. I would say I'm much happier now than I was then, in large part due to figuring out a set of goals, and how to achieve them in a way that fits with my strengths and weaknesses. Clearly, that doesn't mean that I don't get frustrated or upset at times. But I think the better life circumstances, combined with learning and practicing better self-love and self-care, have helped to move my usual balance point up the happiness scale. And because I like myself much better, it's much easier to genuinely care for others, too.

So yes, ultimately, I think I am that happy. I know it's partly due to several spectacular runs of luck, and that it's an ongoing project (once again, the key word is pursuit); I also know that it's probable that I'll have less happy periods in the future, whether due to loss or environmental change or just the pain that comes as an inevitable part of living with and caring for other people. Which is partly why I try to spend less time complaining about petty things, and more time being grateful for what I have now, and the people I get to share it with. <3
missroserose: (Balloons and Ocean)
The Summer of All The Travel continues. One week until we leave for Sweden! The flight is going to be...interesting; we're flying overnight into Heathrow, and then have a six hour layover before the flight to Gothenberg. Given how well I sleep on planes (read: I can't), I was thinking about booking a hotel room to catch some rest between flights, but then I looked at the prices for the Heathrow Hilton...and since the layover is during the day, we'd probably have to reserve two nights. Nope. Nope nope nope. I'm willing to be a little sleep deprived in order to save three hundred pounds, thanks. So, flying sleep-deprived into a foreign country...it'll be an adventure! Maybe I'll be too tired for my ambiguphobia to trigger? We'll see!

Travel plans for my Washington trip in October are coming together. I'm flying in to Seattle on the 21st and spending a couple of days there before taking the train out to Mt. Vernon (and Donna, and my goddaughter!) on the 24th. I have emails out to a couple of friends I'd like to stay with. I'm hoping to get my tattoo while I'm there, but I'm unsure if it's a piece that can be done in a single sitting; I've emailed the artist I'd like to work with, but haven't heard back yet. I'm hoping I didn't come off as a dilettante wasting her time; I mentioned that this was my first tattoo, and I'm sure my questions belied my relative inexperience, but I'm absolutely serious about wanting to get this done.

Obligatory Craigslist grumping: I'm trying to sell the massage table I used for school - it's a good table, and in great shape. I put up a Craigslist ad with pictures, and got a couple of hits overnight, but both of them were...shall we say, curt? Admittedly, both came through the iPhone app (and had "Sent from my iPhone" appended to them), but usually one of the ways I filter out the flakes/scammers is by looking for people who take the time to compose a proper message using full sentences and punctuation. Even on an iPhone, is the difference in time between "Still have table" (seriously, that was the entirety of the message) and "I'm interested in looking at this table, do you still have it for sale?" really that difficult? Maybe I'm just old-fashioned.

Faith in humanity restoration: Humans of New York's campaign to help a Pakistani woman fight the horrible institution of bonded labor. HoNY is one of my favorite corners of the Internet, in no small part because the comments on their Facebook page have managed to stay one of the few uniformly-positive and hopeful communities I’ve ever encountered online. Seeing the pictures of this woman, reading her story, and seeing how quickly the numbers are ticking up on her donation page, just gives me the warmest feeling. I hope she gets closer to her goal than she ever thought possible.
missroserose: (Default)
{Crossposted from Facebook, because my expansive good cheer can't be confined to one social media platform.}

Had the afternoon off from classes. I went out and got waxed (yay short skirt season!), and then wandered around Lakeview in the nice weather admiring the newly-budded leaves on the trees and the newly-planted gardens in front of houses. My wanderings took me past Marshall's, where I went in and found a couple of great-looking dressy sleeveless blouses on the cheap. I took a wrong turning away from the train station, but wound up outside my favorite Jewish bakery with fifteen minutes to the next bus. (Bialy rolls and chocolate caramel pretzels, ho!) Now Brian's making dinner (shepherd's pie, because it's still chilly out) and I'm going to make drinks (mojitos, because it's nearly summer). And we're going to listen to beautiful music on our home sound system, and pet cats, and generally enjoy each other's company.

I am always grateful for my life. But I'm doubly grateful for the days when I can genuinely and thoroughly feel how lucky I am. I hope all of you are equally happy and content tonight. <3
missroserose: (After the Storm)
I've been reflecting further on the audition experience, now that the adrenaline's worn off and I've been able to look at things with more distance.

One of my acquaintances at yoga today asked me how it went, and after a moment's thought, I realized I was able to say honestly: "It's some of the best work I've done." I was emotionally vulnerable and true, something that's been difficult for me in the past. (I spent the morning, when I wasn't practicing, watching Brené Brown's and Amanda Palmer's TED talks, which I'd been meaning to see for a while and which cover a lot of similar territory when applied to art; I think it helped me feel like I had permission, if that makes any sense.) And I practiced enough that, rather than being certain the emotion would overwhelm my brain and make me forget what I was going to say, I was able to trust that the words would be there when I needed them. And...they were. The words were the signposts, there to define the boundary even when the tide came rushing in.

(Of course, this is all coming from the perspective of the performer, and it's perfectly possible that to the audience, I just made a complete ass of myself, or more likely, was completely unmemorable - they had a lot of people going through very quickly, so it was an in-and-out kind of experience without much feedback. But that's not what my gut says, so I'm going to trust it, since I hear that's what performers do.)

The weirdest part of all of this has been how Zen I've been feeling about all of this. It seems counterintuitive: you would think that, having done what feels like a stellar job, you'd be raring for the recognition, and therefore crushed at the prospect of a rejection. But I feel much the same way I did when I submitted that story back in July; I did the best work I could, and was the best representation of myself I could be; if that's not what they're looking for, that's because of their needs and not a rejection of me personally. Which is kind of a change from the procrastination-filled half-assed efforts I've made in the past, when I was desperate for the affirmation of a positive result despite knowing I hadn't done anywhere near as much as I could to earn it. What a strange paradox.

Meanwhile. I have so much to be thankful for in my life, but I'm taking a moment, here on this blustery and chilly autumn night, to have some special gratefulness tea and really appreciate our condo. I love it here. I love the location, near the train and two major bus lines and two awesome restaurant neighborhoods and a gay bar for dancing or fabulous brunch. I love that it's recently built, with central air and good insulation. I love the big bay windows in the living room that let in lots of afternoon sunlight and overlook our surprisingly quiet street. I love the tall ceilings, which accommodate our whole 9-foot Christmas tree. I love the kitchen, with the giant cupboards and wine rack and island and gas stove (even if it is more of a pain to clean than the flat-top electric style we had in Bisbee). I love that it has two bedrooms, so we can host guests comfortably, and two bathrooms, so we can offer our guests a bit more privacy (and so we don't have to fight over who gets to go first after returning from an outing!). I love that the rent ended up being well under our planned budget, and that our landlord is reasonable and quick in responding to maintenance issues. I especially love that it has a working fireplace, something that I enjoy so much this time of year but didn't even feel I could reasonably hope for when I was searching from Arizona and trying not to feel hopeless at how quick the turnover was.

I doubt we'll be here permanently; even without unforeseen life fluctuations, Brian wants to buy a place eventually, and I think I'd like just a bit more space if we're making that long-term of an investment. But as a place to spend the next five-to-ten years, I'm not sure I can articulate how happy I am here. All the more so because that happiness means we're unlikely to need to move again anytime soon.

Busy times

Oct. 3rd, 2014 10:39 am
missroserose: (Balloons and Ocean)
It's been an interesting couple of weeks. I haven't been on social media much, largely because I've been unusually busy, so here's a bit of a retrospective.

My Alaska trip turned out to contain visits with several friends I see far too seldom, which was wonderful. CJ was there for the first part of the trip. I saw Carl, of course, and met his new girlfriend, who I liked quite a bit and who (in true Alaska small-population fashion) turned out to have been a favorite admin of my mother's at her previous job. Robs drove down from Fairbanks and stayed for a few days, and even snuggled with me in my mother's twin guest bed. (We were woken up Thursday morning by a 6.1 earthquake - felt like a carnival ride being given a good shake. Fortunately nothing breakable fell down, even in my mother's glass studio.) And on the way back Sunday, I spent a longish layover in Seattle hanging out at Pike Place Market with John, my sole other high-school-era friend, whom I haven't seen in years.

Monday I had my cleaning shift at the yoga studio, and I was rather thrown by how exhausted I was from the day of travel. Even though almost all I was doing was sitting, and it was a daytime trip so I'd gotten plenty of sleep, my focus was shot for a good two days after. (Is this part of getting older? Because I have to say I do not approve.) Fortunately I have the shift down to a routine at this point, so I just put on some music and bopped along with the mop and it didn't matter that I was only firing on maybe 60% of my usual thrusters. Then I went home and slept some more. Tuesday I had intended on cleaning the house up, but still felt like my brain was full of static, so I ended up sleeping a goodly portion of it too.

By Wednesday I felt much better, which was good, because I had one of two make-up shifts I was doing this week, and a lecture to attend at the opera house. As it happens, when you're a season subscriber, even a bare-minimum four-show seats-in-the-rafters one, they invite you to all sorts of preview concerts and lectures and whatnot; anything to drum up enthusiasm and (hopefully, eventually) donations. I'd missed a number of such events by being in Alaska at the end of September, but was here for this one, a talk from Ana María Martínez, who's playing Donna Elvira in this season's production of Don Giovanni. She turned out to be very warm and personable, and while I don't think I learned anything I hadn't already known or guessed about the life of an opera diva, it was neat to meet her up close. Plus afterward we got a tour of the backstage area, and it was thoroughly impressive seeing the sheer scale of the sets and curtains and flyspace, and the detail work that went into the props and dressings. (Brian, who always likes technical stuff and used to run tech with his high school theatre group, was completely fascinated and wowed.) Our tickets for Don Giovanni are for the 14th; I'm really looking forward to it.

Thursday was a busy day; I went to Helen's extra-intense yoga class, then was cleaning at home and then at the studio, and finally we had Raven over for a long-overdue thank-you-for-getting-us-this-Chicago-opportunity dinner. Brian got to show off his amazing fried catfish recipe, and we all watched one of my favorite films. I swear, even though I remember distinctly my first emotional response to it, I've seen it so many times now that I forget how thoroughly dark (and, frankly, almost traumatizing) it is when you see it the first time. But the screenplay is so smart, the acting so believable, the dialogue (for all its coal-black timbre) so hilarious and the characters so real and true in the way they cling to their objectively-insane worldviews that it's become one of my all-time favorite films. I was excited to share it with Raven, because I thought she'd appreciate all that about it too; but seeing her initial reaction made me remember and sort of cringe and apologize; it's probably a bit heavy of a story to drop on someone after a long day of work in a city far from their home. Fortunately she was gracious about it, as always. And the catfish was a hit, so hurray.

Today I'm finally getting to relax, which is awesome. I'm going to wander downtown to have lunch with Brian, and over to Banana Republic. (In Alaska, I found the amazing-looking suit jacket I'd been drooling over all summer for half-off plus no tax. Score! They didn't have the matching pants in my size, but I was able to order them and have them shipped to me....but the shop that shipped them forgot to take the inventory control tag off. Oops. Still, they fit beautifully, for all of that, so I'm now in possession of a heck of a sharp-looking suit. Now to figure out what to wear it to. Maybe the opera? I do look rather more genderqueer with my hair super short.) I know I need to do laundry at some point. I may make the monthly pilgrimage to Costco and Trader Joe's. We'll see how the day shakes out.
missroserose: (Inspire)
First things first: I got my first rejection letter for a story. :)

That may seem like an odd thing to smile about, but I promise I'm not just trying to (literally) put a happy face on things. I wasn't kidding when I said earlier this was a story I was proud of, and this submission was miles above any of the hold-your-breath-and-dive-in submissions I made to story contests and whatnot. So getting an actual rejection letter, even just a form letter, feels like a badge of legitimacy - I truly and honestly gave it my best shot, and it didn't fit with what they were looking for. So now I keep looking, and keep writing. That's what authors do, especially ones that are new to the professional game and haven't established a niche yet. Admittedly, I don't know if I'm comfortable calling myself an "author" yet, but it feels like a big step along the way.

I realize I'm in a somewhat privileged position to be so sanguine, since neither my finances nor my sense of identity were riding on an acceptance. The former's mostly a matter of luck, but the latter...I've been working hard on that. I know I've at least mentioned that I was (and, sometimes, still am) struggling with defining myself, especially now that I'm not working a traditional job and don't have any regular source of my own income. (I think it's partly why I've latched on to yoga so heavily; it gives me someplace to go outside the house, and a way to define myself, albeit more as an enthusiast than a professional.) But mostly I've been trying to take my mother's advice, and rather than beating myself up because I haven't reached a particular milestone/earned a particular title, be more accepting of where I am now, and who I am now, and just enjoy where I'm going. It's a process, true. And I don't want to limit my writing to "when the muse strikes", because that seems like it could very easily become code for "I don't feel like doing something hard". But I've been a lot happier about my life and my writing both over the past month and a half.

Meantime, I've written another short story - one that feels good enough for professional submission, although I'm honestly not sure where the market would be. (I wrote it as a gift for a friend, though, so that's a secondary consideration.) I'm proud of it; it's another project I've seen through a difficult/thorough revision process and come out with an infinitely better product. Once I was finished, I even did something I've never done and went back and read the rough draft. There was more of it in the final product than I'd guessed, but even more, it made me realize how far my writing's come in the past couple of years. The rough draft was about on par with a lot of the half-finished stuff I've got lying around in my Google Drive; the final draft was better-developed, tighter, and far more gripping.

One of the things that made this one such a challenge was that it was about fundamentally different characters than the sort I normally write about - darker, and more aggressive. (This caused a bit of whiplash, as it started off as a playful piece, and then midway through took a couple of comparatively dark turns.) Generally, my characters tend to be in pursuit of Truth/Beauty/Freedom/Love, because I'm a Bohemian at heart; this time, the main character's central conflict was that he desperately wanted those things but was also terrified of them, so he kept sort of orbiting the core of the story but couldn't reach it like I initially wanted him to.

Part of the reason the revision process was so difficult ("I want you to do this thing! Why won't you do the thing??") was that this wasn't something I decided in advance; it wasn't until my faithful beta reader commented "He's a tragic figure, isn't he?" that I realized why I'd been having so much trouble with him. At one point, I even spent some time trying to write him into a sex scene (because, yes, I'm still a porn writer at heart, but also because what people do and say during sex is a good measure of who they are at their core), and ended up with five different variations on the scenario, none of which felt particularly arousing. That was when I started to get that his problem wasn't that I couldn't find his truth, it was that he was too terrified of his own truth to express it, even wordlessly. (And, big surprise, sex without emotional truth really doesn't do a whole lot for me.)

Man, the creative process is strange. No wonder artists are known for being a little eccentric.
missroserose: (Red Red Rose)
• Dispatch from the Internal Wellness Department: Slowly regaining both my energy and my brain, although neither is yet 100%. I still have that strange feverish manic energy despite not having the actual fever (or energy). Odd. Still, I cleaned the kitchen and got showered and dressed and to the store and back, which is more than I've done in the past three days put together. Maybe if I'm lucky I'll feel up for yoga tomorrow.

• Dispatch from the Increasing Girliness Front: I'm preparing for my first (professional) waxing. When Brian and I first started dating, I informed him of my policy on leg-hair removal - I like smooth skin as much as anyone, but shaving every other day is way too much time and effort, and hairy legs don't bother me enough to make it worth it. (Armpits are another matter, as the effort/reward ratio is much more satisfying.) If he wanted to buy me a waxing, I'd be happy to go in for it. Ten years later, he finally offers. *laughs* Though I think I'm going to hold out for a facial and maybe a mani-pedi, too. There's a place just down the way that's well-rated on Yelp and has a very reasonably-priced package deal.

• Dispatches from England: My friend Suraya ([profile] pleiadeslion on LJ) was recently featured on the Risk! podcast's first London show. I hadn't heard of this podcast before, but quite like the format (people tell true stories about dramatic/inspirational/meaningful moments in their life). Hers starts around 21:30, and while it's a bit dark (trigger warning for suicide/corpses), it has a wonderfully human depth to it, and her telling of it is beautiful. (Unrelated, one of her housemates had to move out in a hurry, so she's looking for a new occupant for this beautiful room in Harringay - the whole house is lovely, in fact. I don't think I know anyone else in London, but figured I'd post it on the off chance there's someone in my extended network who'd like to share a house with some awesome people who have a slightly morbid sense of humor. Almost makes me wish I lived in London...)

• More dispatches from what's looking to be an outright Storm of Girliness: I'm thinking I might look into makeup lessons, specifically eyeliner. I've always been a bit hopeless at getting it symmetrical, but I love that colorful mascara/eyeliner is coming back into fashion, and it seems like it might be a fun way to soften the somewhat butch haircut I've been sporting lately. (Brian, the first time I came home after finding my new stylist: "You look great! Really great! ...Possibly like you kind of don't like boys, but great!") Between this and the rate at which my wardrobe's been expanding, I'll be into glitter before much longer...

• Dispatch from Facebook, shamelessly stolen from my friend Dana's feed:

Comment sections should have a filter that prevents you from submitting if your comment contains a logical fallacy. Like if you're placing an order online and try to submit and a red warning pops up, "this is a required field," type thing. Except it would say something like "ad hominem, please reword", or "No True Scotsman, edit and resubmit".

HOW CAN WE MAKE THIS HAPPEN. For srs. There has to be Nobel Peace Prize potential in there somewhere.
missroserose: (Hello Grumpy)
Back when we first moved in to our Chicago apartment and finally invested in some proper (albeit IKEA) tall hardwood bookshelves, Leo, in his ever-present quest to explore every possible surface in the house, managed to use his impressive jumping abilities to get to the top of one of them. He had not, however, considered how he was going to get down, and spent a good few minutes making increasingly distressed murfling noises until Brian took a chair over, climbed up, and got him down. I remember being a little amused by this, asking "Don't you think if he got up there himself, he could probably get down?" But Brian insisted that it was more important to him that Leo know his Dadcat would always be there to get him down off the bookshelf.

Needless to say, when he came to pick me up from the airport at 8:30 AM on a Saturday a full week ahead of when I'd planned to be back, I felt more than a little like Leo on the bookshelf. I must be awfully lucky to have someone who'll always come get me.

Two nap-filled days later, I'm much more sanguine about my mental state. Saturday night was book group, which I'd originally been sort of bummed about missing (the group had taken my suggestion of Anansi Boys, one of my favorite books), so I slept a lot that day and got to show up looking only a little hangdog. No one made fun of me for having had a proximity-to-family freakout; Megan (of the Alternative Yoga Practice) even encouraged me to "Practice a little controlled comfort-eating. It's okay, you're among friends." <3 (Our host this time around was Heidi, who in addition to having just moved into our neighborhood, is apparently known in the group for providing Martha Stewart-level spreads. I'm afraid she kind of blew Brian's and my mini-cupcake-and-tartlet offering from our turn hosting out of the water. But it was some damn fine comfort eating.) Sunday I went to my friend Elyse's yoga class, which turned out to be thoroughly appropriate - not only was it a less-intensive-and-more-meditative practice than she usually does, but it was based around the story of Ganesh getting angry at the moon and slaying it with one of his tusks, thus trapping the Earth in eternal daylight and leaving its denizens unable to sleep until the other gods came down and insisted he fix things. Synchronicity! And then, after yet another nap on my part, Brian and I had a lovely twilit walk watching for fireflies before getting ice cream from our neighborhood's amazing shop.

My sweet mother has been sending me pictures from the Homer trip, which has been lovely to see, if a little bittersweet at times. On the upside, with all the flying I've been doing, I have enough miles to be within $300 of a (coach-class, but still) ticket up there again. I have some ideas for a make-up trip later this year, but due to the potential readership of this post I don't think I'm going to go into them in detail yet. I am, however, once more pleased to find myself living near a major airport; trying to get anywhere from Tucson on mileage was just Not Happening.

One last tidbit for the folks who don't read my Facebook: Before (and during) this trip, Mum and I had been joking about how the Grumpy Cat gene ran her side the family (she doesn't have it, being a Pollyanna of the highest degree, but my grandmother and I sure do at times, and my brother practically lives to be grumpy). So I was thoroughly entertained, as I was drifting to my airport gate in my sleep-deprived and weepy/overemotional state, to find my spirit animal at the airport bookstore waiting for me:


Grumpy Cat is my spirit animal.


She kept me company all through the long flight back, and now sits on the bookshelf in our bedroom, where the cats are occasionally eyeing her warily and generally giving her a wide berth.

So!  My truncated vacation has ended well enough, with hope for the future, which is about the best I could ask for from it.  I did write a short story while in the throes of sleep deprivation (my mother:  "It's only 8 AM.  Weren't you going to sleep some more in my bedroom?"  Me, typing and sounding more and more like Grumpy Cat:  "Can't sleep, muse will eat me."  Mother:  "Want some coffee?"  Me:  "YES."); I think, now that I've recovered, I'm going to poke at revising it.  Sleep deprivation may not be a great state for a lot of things, but when your emotions are all bubbling that close to the surface, it's rather easier to find a story's emotional core.  Odd how that works...
missroserose: (Default)
Good morning, Chicago! Yesterday was completely lovely; the weather warm but not hot. Brian had to work, so I went and had brunch with a couple of friends, one of whom accompanied me for a nice wander around the neighborhood afterward. We got mani-pedis (and, for the first time ever, I managed to keep from smudging mine), and I took her to my recently-discovered favorite salon for an appointment. Yay for girly days! And now my finger- and toe-nails are precisely the same shade of orange-red as my hair.

As of today, I'm in a strange sort of limbo. I was originally supposed to be going to Detroit this week to help with more survey administration, but due to some bureaucratic argy-bargy (apparently two weeks is not enough time for Detroit Public Schools to run a background check) they had to send someone else instead. So now my schedule for the next several days is unusually bare.

This morning, at least, that turned out to be a plus. We woke up to discover a very bedraggled Leo looking shamefacedly up at us. At first we thought he'd taken a dip in his water fountain, but when I wandered out into the kitchen I found the counters and floor turned into a beautiful abstract oil painting. (Brian had been deep-frying chicken pieces last night and left the oil out in a bowl overnight to cool. Which, in all fairness, he normally does without incident.) Mop, drugstore for baby shampoo, bathtime, in that order. Now someone just needs to clean the kitchen up. Guess who's been elected. (Brian held Leo in the bathtub - fully clothed - while I poured water on them, and still got several scratches for his trouble, so really, it's only fair.) Meanwhile, Leo is furiously grooming all the water out of his fur. I predict a massive hairball or two later.

As it happens, I'm still going to the Detroit area on Thursday. Originally I'd been planning to go and visit CJ and Amanda and John the weekend after survey administration, but since that didn't work out, CJ offered to buy me a train ticket. I'm actually moderately excited about the prospect; I haven't yet been on Amtrak, and I'm quite fond of trains. And anything that means less time dealing with TSA is perfectly fine with me.

Mood-wise, there's been a lot of up-and-down recently. I wonder if the lack of yoga is part of it; I applied for CorePower's yoga-for-trade program and got back a generic "we'll let you know if there's an opening at a location near you" response. A month ago. I'm honestly wondering if I should just find a darn part-time job so I can pay for it; I still think their studios are way overpriced, but the improvements I saw in strength and mobility when I was going regularly were...marked. Not to mention how it always improved my outlook and emotional state. Sigh.

Still, I've had a good week now where I haven't been turning into Grumpy Cat every few minutes, and I'll take what I can get. I'm even playing the guitar again! I'd been doing it sporadically for several months, and then for a month or two I wasn't playing hardly at all. But I'm actually excited about it again, which hasn't been the case for a while now. Been thinking about making a video or a recording. Say it with me, folks: we'll see if anything comes of it.

The weather is beautiful today too, if warmer - approaching thunderstorms seem to love pushing the heat ahead of them. I suspect that after lunch I may put on shorts and sunscreen and wander down to the lakeshore with an ice cream bar.

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Rose

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