missroserose: (Balloons and Ocean)
Hello, fellow book nerds! Last Wednesday was a bit nuts; Brian and I were scrambling about trying to get all the last-minute preparations done for our trip to Washington state, only to discover that our pleasant evening flight had been delayed into an overnight flight thanks to thunderstorms shutting down O'Hare. (Thanks a lot, Chicago weather!) We made it eventually, although we had to shell out no small amount for Lyfts as transit wasn't running that late/early...ah well. The past week has been full of robot fights and gigantic waterfalls and a quick visit with the goddaughter and walks with my mother-in-law and driving. So much driving. And more later today. Washington state, why do you have to be so huge. >.>

And, of course, there has been reading!

What I've just finished reading

The Heiress Effect, by Courtney Milan. Incredibly generic covers aside, I've found this series to be one of my favorite period romances. It does suffer somewhat from the common "Regency romance that's basically modern people living in the trappings of the period" problem, but the characters are so well-drawn and likable that I enjoy them anyway, even if they're ultimately a little forgettable (except, perhaps, for Free and her Suffragettes! in book 4).


What I'm currently reading

Come As You Are: The Surprising New Science That Will Transform Your Sex Life, by Emily Nagowski, Ph.D. (Yeah, I'm reading roughly a million other books right now, but I bought this intending to read it right away...almost exactly two years ago, if the receipt is to be believed. :P In any case, I finally picked it up off my nightstand and brought it along for the trip.) If you're interested in sociology and sexuality, this is a fascinating book - far more interesting than Future Sex, for all that it's more science-based than memoir. Nagowski's big reveal (er, spoilers? She talks about it in literally the first chapter) is the accelerator/brakes model of sexual arousal, where rather than an on/off switch, eroticism is mostly a matter of context. So we react sexually when there are enough turn-ons present in the environment (say, presence of an attractive partner, sounds/sights of other people having sex, relaxed and receptive mood) and relatively few turn-offs (say, crying children, an unappreciative audience, history of sexual trauma, general life stress); ergo what we think of as "sex drive" is really as much a question of what's going on in the person's immediate surroundings and in their life.

I have a lot of thoughts on this theory. Primarily, Nagowski seems to think it's mostly applicable to women, because their sexuality is socialized in a more complex way; that may be true, but I strongly suspect it's true for a lot of men too, if perhaps to a lesser degree. Similarly, I don't think it's only sex that utilizes this mechanism; laughter, say, is heavily context-dependent, as articulated in the benign violation theory of humor. And the sympathetic/parasympathetic nervous system works in a similar way to generate a whole host of responses to a range of different situations. So I'll be interested to see where she takes it.

The Kissing Booth Girl and Other Stories, by AC Wise. I picked this up as part of the LGBTQ Humble Bundle (it doesn't count as buying new books if it's supporting a good cause, right??), and basically opened it up knowing nothing about it. It seems to be lyrical sci-fi stories with a queer bent; the worldbuilding's been a little scanty in the stories I've read so far, but the sheer human longing at the center of each has been strong and well-rendered enough to easily drive the plots forward.


What I plan to read next

Given that I currently have something like eight books on my currently-reading list, I think I'm going to be best served by finishing some of them before I start to plan more, haha.
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: (Hello Grumpy)
We made it through the seven-hour overnighter from O'Hare to Heathrow just fine, although my streak of not sleeping on airplanes remains sadly unbroken. (Snuggling a brought-from-home pillow, I managed to doze slightly, but I seem incapable of actually falling asleep sitting up. I find myself genuinely considering saving up for business-class seats next time; paying three and a half times the coach fare almost seems worth it to arrive at least a little rested.) Somewhat oddly, despite getting at least a few hours of sleep, Brian's been much grumpier than I have; I don't know if I handle sleep deprivation better, or if my background grumpiness levels are higher and thus a little extra grump is less noticeable on me.

But really, the whole reason this entry exists is so I can post this picture of him conked out on the floor of Terminal 5:



I may just join him. Intrepid international adventurers, the both of us.
missroserose: (Incongruity)
I've been in Anchorage a few days now, and driving around quite a bit. It's still the town I grew up in, but it's also growing rapidly, even since I was here over Thanksgiving. I see more and more names I recognize from other places - Mens Wearhouse, Target, Massage Envy, Texas Roadhouse, Olive Garden, Sephora. Mid-tier chains and franchises that until now I've mostly associated with Tucson, or Phoenix, or Chicago. I even saw a sign for an outlet mall coming soon.

And yet, through it all, it's still Alaska. The Chugach range still sits to the east, watching in its timeless stoicism even as houses creep up along its foothills. Rather than groomed public parks with carefully-planted trees, most of the green is patches of wild overgrown birch and spruce forest left between even the newest housing developments. Wildlife wanders unafraid through people's yards, or visits the zoo of a morning.

Sometimes I feel like I can see the seams between the place I grew up and the place that's here now: the slightly brighter paint where such-and-such a section of the Dimond Center has been renovated to make way for a new anchor tenant, or the grocery store that now sits on the field where I used to braid daisy chains. Sometimes, if I tilt my head and unfocus my eyes a little, I can almost see them both there, in the same space at the same time, and I wonder if our nostalgic mourning for things lost is fundamentally shortsighted.

---

While colorful hair is not unknown here, it's somewhat rarer than it is in Chicago, and I thus get rather more comments when I'm out and about.  

The other day, I heard a little girl in a shopping cart squeal "She has pink hair!" I told her that where I live, there are people with pink hair and purple hair and green hair and blue hair and orange hair. Somewhat to my surprise, this didn't seem to shock her at all - in fact, she added with some certainty, "And violet!" I nodded and agreed, yes, violet hair was quite common.

I suspect that she already spends some time in a world where people have hair in every color of the rainbow. So I was merely confirming her knowledge that such a place had to exist in this world as well.

---

When I told my acquaintances that I was going to Alaska for a visit, I received numerous exhortations to post lots of pictures, mostly from my yoga friends.  I suspect they thought I was coming here to go hiking, or camping, or fishing, or any of the numerous (and wonderful!) outdoorsy opportunities, and would thus be posting pictures of Alaska's awe-inspiring landscape.

In truth, though I may wander out to Thunderbird Falls or a similarly-easy hike later, for now I'm pleased simply to spend time with my mother, who doesn't go many places other than home and work.  So here are some of my vacation pictures so far.

The house at the edge of the world
This is my mother's townhouse, which a local friend referred to recently as "the house at the edge of the world".  It's surprisingly apt - it's on top of the hill, overlooking the Seward Highway, an interstitial space if ever there was one.  In the summer it's a tree house, with the living room's large picture windows surrounded by birch trees in full leaf.  In the winter, it becomes a hilltop castle, overlooking mountains and rivers and even the ocean in the distance.

View from the edge of the worldThis is the view between two of the trees on the left in the previous photo.  Normally the Chugach range is visible here, but last night it went to bed early and pulled the cloud blanket up over its head.

My mother's living room
This is my mother's very comfortable living room.  I like to sit here with a lap desk and read or write letters while she bustles about in the kitchen behind me, or does beadwork nearby.

The path behind the house
This is a bike path that runs along my mother's subdivision.  Its destination (a business/shopping complex with a supermarket and a post office) is perhaps a bit prosaic, but it's surprisingly pretty along the way.  There's enough dense growth even in these cut-down little greenbelts to get whiffs of that proper mulchy forest smell, especially in autumn.  

An Alaskan attempt at charcuterie.Alaska, having long been ranked #50 out of 50 states when it comes to good restaurants, has been making great strides of late, especially in Anchorage.  Unfortunately, it's still got a ways to go, as this rather sad attempt at a "charcuterie board" at a passing-for-trendy local hotspot shows.  (Sharp-eyed readers may notice something missing.) Still, they're trying - they've got a nice mixture of relishes, here, and the presentation is nice.  And in all fairness, it was only half as expensive as a charcuterie board in Chicago.

Brian (by his own admission) has an Argo Tea problem, to the point where he will at times walk five extra blocks to get to an Argo Tea because "it's on the way".  I was entertained to find a rack of their pre-bottled tea at the Natural Pantry up here, and texted him this picture with the comment, "It's *always* on the way!"

Fireweed - my birthday flower
Growing up, we nicknamed fireweed my "birthday flower", because it always first starts to bloom in mid-July.  It's one of the things I truly miss about Alaska, and more than once I've tried to dye my hair this color.

Turnagain arm, just south of AnchorageSomething else I genuinely miss:  having drives like Turnagain Arm literally just south of town.  In Chicago, I almost never drive if I can avoid it - it's a chore, something you do to get from one place to another.  Out here, there are so many beautiful places only accessible by car.

Balcony garden
My mother's balcony garden always seems to me to be the essence of the phrase "a riot of color". You can almost hear those firecracker begonias crackling and popping, the strident purple pansies demanding your attention while the miscellaneous hubbub of the violas fills the cracks.
missroserose: (Default)
Happy birthday to me!

I was going to post a video I found a while back, a parody of Taylor Swift's "22" for my current age: "Uh-oh, hey! I don't know about you, but I'm feeling thirty-two/Read Fifty Shades of Grey and kinda liked it too!" Unfortunately, they appear to have taken it down, which makes me sad. There are a couple of similar parodies by other artists, but none of them feature the singer drinking wine and chowing down on a Costco-size wedge of Gouda, and thus they are clearly inferior. (Mmm. Gouda.)

Still, I can't feel too bummed out. I observed on Facebook that multiples of 16 must be lucky for me, present-wise; I've gotten more presents this year than I have since my sweet sixteen party. I have no idea what it was I did this year, but hey, I'll take it.



(Not pictured: the professional-quality blow dryer I wanted, currently on order by a longtime friend; and a significant contribution towards a professional-quality massage table from my mum.)

It's been a good year, I think. I've made a number of social connections (and lost some as well, all of which were painful but good learning experiences), I've tried and learned a number of new things, I've acquired a few new skills and embarked upon a new career path.

Now for some introspection: reading through a few of my entries from around this time a year ago, I'm seeing a lot of variations on the theme of structure vs. independence in my life. I've often prided myself on being an independent sort of person, willing to forge ahead my own way when there isn't a set path that I like. But while that's true, I've been comparing my mental state now to a year ago, when I was trying (and failing) to figure out a career path in writing and/or music. And I've come to the conclusion that, independent as I am, I need a certain amount of structure in my life to function well. At this point, I don't have a strong enough center or the self-motivation to work with no real idea if or when I'll see a payoff; I do far better when there's a clear set of expectations with (relatively) fixed rewards, which in turn gives me a sense of social identity. (This, incidentally, explains why keeping up enthusiasm for guitar was so much easier when I was busking weekly in Bisbee; I wasn't doing it for money, but the social payoffs in a small hippie town were noticeable. Moving to Chicago, however, removed a good chunk of that motivation, as it's not a particularly busking-friendly town and I don't know anyone in the local music scene yet.)

More importantly, I feel like I've decided that that's okay. I can be an independent-minded person who happens to work best in an interdependent context. It doesn't mean that I don't make valuable contributions, or that I'm not my own person, or that I'm not 'extraordinary enough'. It just means that I know what lifestyle choices fit me best at this point in my life, and points me at opportunities where I'll function at my best.

I'm thoroughly glad I decided to go to massage school; it's a path that gives me lots of options with varying levels of independence, but with a comparatively structured social role and a sense of identity I feel I can be proud of. It's a field with plenty of opportunities for continuing education, which I've found is integral to maintaining my interest. It's something that helps people feel better, which in turn helps them be excellent to each other. And it's something where I can earn a decent income of my own, enough to be financially independent if I need to. All of which, I think, are important to me in terms of finding long-term career satisfaction, as well as mental stability. (Now if the nice folks in the Illinois licensing office would get around to processing my application...)

So to celebrate, tonight is dinner with some of the local folks I've met who actually like my weird intense hyperintelligent analytical enthusiastic slightly-Zen...self. And Brian made me the most delicious chocolate layer cake with mint-chocolate-chip-buttercream frosting. Because he is the best. <3
missroserose: (Default)
Flu recovery continues; slower than I'd like, but it's progress. Amusingly enough, my annoyance at the time recovery is taking has decreased dramatically today, as the weather went from sunny and warm to "35 and snowstorming". I think this anonymous person pretty well captured the citywide reaction. I'm slightly annoyed about missing class, but it's nothing I can't make up, and I have all of tomorrow, too.

On the upside, being confined to bed/couch has done wonders for both my social media interaction and my study time. Since the former's probably of little interest to anyone but me, here are some cool things I've learned from my Pathology reading over the past couple of days:
  • Growth hormone, in addition to its eponymous function in children and adolescents, is largely responsible for tissue repair/replacement in adults - in short, healing.  It is also secreted almost entirely during stage IV sleep, the deepest level.  This fits with my own lifelong observation that most of the feeling-better recovery from illness takes place during long naps or overnight; it also explains why the people I've known with sleep apnea or other sleep difficulties tend to seem operate under a consistent sort of run-down malaise.  (And it explains many of the statistics where lack of sleep/sleep disorders increase susceptibility to any number of problems, from colds to heart failure.)
  • For all that the vast majority of fad diet advice is absolute bunk, it's completely true that the typical American diet is damn near toxic.  The number of digestive and metabolic disorders that can be reduced in risk (if not outright prevented) by limiting intake of preserved/processed foods and refined sugar/flour is staggering.  Unfortunately, despite it having been repeated by the USDA with slight variations for decades, the dietary advice of "eat whole grains, lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, and some lean meat; keep consumption of processed foods and refined sugars to a minimum" has so far failed to catch on.  Maybe someone needs to take out flashy ads?  "Prevent cancer, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes with this 1 weird trick!"
  • Be kind to your liver.  Seriously.  You likely have no idea how much it does for you, every day.  They call it a "live-r" for a reason.
  • Unlike the common cold (which is no longer contagious after three days of showing symptoms), influenza remains contagious all through (and, to a lesser degree, for a little while after) the recovery period.  Hence, I am refusing to feel guilty for staying home sick ever again.
  • My mother always thought 90s-era Barbie was antifeminist because her feet were molded to wear high heels.  Clearly she was simply suffering from a severe, untreated case of pes cavus.  New from Mattel:  Treat jammed arches and prevent bunions with Orthopedic Barbie!  (Unfortunately, her footwear is roughly five times the cost of her designer heels, because something something capitalism something big government something healthcare.  At least until she's 65 and qualifies for Medicare.)
Forty more pages to go, and then I'm done...until it's time to study for the final.  Almost there!

Also, current average grade is 97.8%.  Just throwing that out there, says the former-barely-B-average student.

Feel-good moment of the day:  pictures from India's first lesbian wedding. What a beautiful commingling of traditions.  They look so happy.

And finally, here's Homework Enforcement Cat, helpfully covering up the answers so I can quiz myself (and pet him).

Homework Enforcement Cat
missroserose: (Default)
In case anyone was wondering, this is what I look like while I'm reading kinky erotica.

(Credit to Brian for snapping the photo.)




missroserose: (Masquerade)
There's an art meme going around Facebook, where you give people an artist and they find a piece they like by that person and post it. I'm not normally a big one for memes, but being an art lover, I had to try this one out. And because blog posts are at least somewhat less ethereal than Facebook posts, as well as better suited to long-form thoughts, I'm putting a slightly-expanded version here as well.

My delightful friend Niki, rather than giving me some classical artist as I was half-expecting, suggested Lori Earley, whom I'd never heard of. Google brought up a series of striking portraits, all of women done in a style I'd describe as pop-surrealist anime-influenced Gothic.

I'm trying to articulate what it is I like so much about them. I like that they're not subtle in their emotional overtones - there's a strong stigma in our culture against being "overemotional", and it's universally associated with feminine weakness and thus reviled. These women may be emotional, but they're not ashamed of their emotion and they certainly don't see it as a weakness. I suspect another part is that the women are all conventionally attractive, in fact exaggeratedly so - long necks, huge eyes, etcetera - but none of them look happy. Which resonates strongly with my own experience - there's a strong cultural impetus for women, especially attractive women, to always be happy - "You're a beautiful woman, what on Earth could you have to be sad about?" And yet beauty, while certainly a privilege and an advantage, is hardly a panacea, and frankly comes with its own set of problems. And that's not even getting into mental or cultural reasons for unhappiness, or even more abstract intellectual ones (because why would a beautiful woman have any particular desire to develop her brains? Being smart just makes you miserable). So it's nice to see the flipside of that - attractive women as they perhaps see themselves, exaggerated to the point of near-grotesquery. (I probably also identify with it a little personally, as I've always had a long neck, and in high school I was almost painfully self-conscious about it. Strange, how our self-perception changes with our maturity and our environment.)

This particular image resonated with me, especially after yesterday, when I was experiencing that generalized lack of motivation/energy that could have been a down-in-the-dumps kind of day, a low-level illness, or (as I'm always afraid will happen) the beginning of a depressive bout. I think it's because it so beautifully parallels my feelings about depression from the outside - dark and mysterious and thanatically appealing, but (upon closer inspection) emaciated, unhealthy, grasping, needy, insubstantial past its surface appeal. I especially love the black widow spider crawling up the branch - depression as a neurotoxic paralytic working its way through your system.

Needless to say, when I found out the name of the picture - "Anima Sola", a traditional Catholic art subject depicting a soul languishing in purgatory - that sealed the deal. I may have a new favorite artist.


Image shamelessly stolen from the artist's website. Go check it out! It's good stuff.
missroserose: (Glamour Model)
My birthday passed without much fanfare, but pleasantly enough nonetheless.  I've been looking after the gallery all weekend while the boss is out of town; Friday and Saturday are both long days, and Saturday especially was hectic as it was an art-walk day.  But Sunday was fairly quiet, which I appreciated; it gave me time to catch up on paperwork as well as more generally recover.

The lack of fanfare did not, however, mean that the day went unmarked.  Brian was kind enough to take some pictures of my new hair color (which finally matched a shirt I got several months ago at the clothing swap but hadn't yet worn) with his fancy camera.  My favorite looked much like something you'd see in a catalog, or possibly a photo-resume headshot.  (Click to embiggen - the high-res version really makes a difference, here.)

29 now!

I especially love how, when I cropped it down for an icon, it looked like a completely different picture.

After I closed up the gallery, we went to Screaming Banshee Pizza, where they were unfortunately out of the Thai Me Up pizza (my favorite, and not just for the name), but made us a tasty-enough pie nonetheless.  And when we got home I discovered that Brian had made me an honest-to-blog red velvet cake, from the famous 1928 Waldorf-Astoria recipe, with buttercream frosting.  (I felt a little bad that he'd gone to all that effort, since buttercream is a cast-iron pain in the ass to make and I actually prefer the more common cream-cheese frosting, but I can't fault his results - the texture is absolutely perfect.)  We settled down with that and some fizzy red wine and watched The Artist, which was delightful - especially so to Brian, who I think got it mixed up with another movie when he was reading reviews, as he was convinced it was a Pretentious and Depressing Film about Man's Inhumanity to Man.  I'm glad I exercised birthday privileges and insisted we watch it.

I guess that means I'm 29 now.  I feel a little different about that than I did when I turned 28, though I'm not quite sure how to articulate it.  It's not like I was being all drama-filled and "Woe is me!" about 28, but there was a definite shift in perception - maybe just that 30 was suddenly within spitting distance, which kind of put the final nail in the youthful "I'm going to live forever" coffin.  Comparatively, I was downright Buddhist about 29.  "Time is a river and constantly moving.  Attachment to anything as inherently transient as youth will only create suffering.  Do not try to dam the river; instead, let the water carry you.  Om."

I don't know what prompted the change.  I've said before that I don't mind getting older, and mostly that's true (though I can't say as I particularly look forward to physical decrepitude, especially having just recently experienced the spasming soreness that is throwing out your back - more yoga for me!).  I like having had real world experiences to draw upon when forming opinions.  I like the broadening of perspective that comes with said experiences.  I like having had the time to fine-tune my preferences and desires, even if that means I lose a certain amount of the impulsive enthusiasm of youth.  And I like the sense that there are things that I'm getting really good at, because I've practiced them so much over time.  (It helps me to stick with the things I'm still learning, since I know that eventually I'll get there.) 

I think picking up the guitar's helped a lot, too.  At my 28th birthday, there weren't very many things I was actively working on; mostly I felt like I was treading water.  In November I did NNWM and came out with 50,000 words and a rough outline for an epic fantasy series that I think has real potential; even if I'm not certain if/when I'll pick it up again.  In early May I bought a guitar and started teaching myself; since then, I think only one day's gone by where I haven't picked a guitar up and practiced at least some.  Now I have an even nicer guitar (thanks, Mum!), and am nearing performance readiness on two songs, though I still have a good bit to learn.  Brian and I are making plans to move to Seattle in the next year or two.  Things are moving forward...perhaps in more of a labyrinth shape than a straight line, but moving nonetheless.

All that said, I think that I'm going to tentatively plan a long weekend in Vegas for my birthday next year.  (In all fairness, I'd really rather head to the clubs on Ibiza, especially as I'll likely soon be too old to enjoy the experience properly, but given the financial and geographical restrictions, Vegas is a somewhat more reasonable goal.)  30 is a milestone that deserves celebration, and I've never been to Sin City; and while I fully realize it will be an assault on all possible definitions of good taste, I do have a certain fondness for kitsch and popular entertainment, especially when it's both self-aware and so completely over-the-top as to become a form of meta-art (viz. Lady Gaga).  Would anyone be interested in possibly joining us?  When pricing out hotel rooms for DefCon Brian discovered that it's cheap as chips to stay at one of the casino hotels (hardly surprising - they know they'll make it back from you downstairs), and it'd be fun to meet up for a birthday dinner at one of the fancier restaurants and then perhaps go see one of the shows (I've wanted to see Penn & Teller for a decade now) and go out dancing.
missroserose: (Glamour Model)
My birthday passed without much fanfare, but pleasantly enough nonetheless.  I've been looking after the gallery all weekend while the boss is out of town; Friday and Saturday are both long days, and Saturday especially was hectic as it was an art-walk day.  But Sunday was fairly quiet, which I appreciated; it gave me time to catch up on paperwork as well as more generally recover.

The lack of fanfare did not, however, mean that the day went unmarked.  Brian was kind enough to take some pictures of my new hair color (which finally matched a shirt I got several months ago at the clothing swap but hadn't yet worn) with his fancy camera.  My favorite looked much like something you'd see in a catalog, or possibly a photo-resume headshot.  (Click to embiggen - the high-res version really makes a difference, here.)

29 now!

I especially love how, when I cropped it down for an icon, it looked like a completely different picture.

After I closed up the gallery, we went to Screaming Banshee Pizza, where they were unfortunately out of the Thai Me Up pizza (my favorite, and not just for the name), but made us a tasty-enough pie nonetheless.  And when we got home I discovered that Brian had made me an honest-to-blog red velvet cake, from the famous 1928 Waldorf-Astoria recipe, with buttercream frosting.  (I felt a little bad that he'd gone to all that effort, since buttercream is a cast-iron pain in the ass to make and I actually prefer the more common cream-cheese frosting, but I can't fault his results - the texture is absolutely perfect.)  We settled down with that and some fizzy red wine and watched The Artist, which was delightful - especially so to Brian, who I think got it mixed up with another movie when he was reading reviews, as he was convinced it was a Pretentious and Depressing Film about Man's Inhumanity to Man.  I'm glad I exercised birthday privileges and insisted we watch it.

I guess that means I'm 29 now.  I feel a little different about that than I did when I turned 28, though I'm not quite sure how to articulate it.  It's not like I was being all drama-filled and "Woe is me!" about 28, but there was a definite shift in perception - maybe just that 30 was suddenly within spitting distance, which kind of put the final nail in the youthful "I'm going to live forever" coffin.  Comparatively, I was downright Buddhist about 29.  "Time is a river and constantly moving.  Attachment to anything as inherently transient as youth will only create suffering.  Do not try to dam the river; instead, let the water carry you.  Om."

I don't know what prompted the change.  I've said before that I don't mind getting older, and mostly that's true (though I can't say as I particularly look forward to physical decrepitude, especially having just recently experienced the spasming soreness that is throwing out your back - more yoga for me!).  I like having had real world experiences to draw upon when forming opinions.  I like the broadening of perspective that comes with said experiences.  I like having had the time to fine-tune my preferences and desires, even if that means I lose a certain amount of the impulsive enthusiasm of youth.  And I like the sense that there are things that I'm getting really good at, because I've practiced them so much over time.  (It helps me to stick with the things I'm still learning, since I know that eventually I'll get there.) 

I think picking up the guitar's helped a lot, too.  At my 28th birthday, there weren't very many things I was actively working on; mostly I felt like I was treading water.  In November I did NNWM and came out with 50,000 words and a rough outline for an epic fantasy series that I think has real potential; even if I'm not certain if/when I'll pick it up again.  In early May I bought a guitar and started teaching myself; since then, I think only one day's gone by where I haven't picked a guitar up and practiced at least some.  Now I have an even nicer guitar (thanks, Mum!), and am nearing performance readiness on two songs, though I still have a good bit to learn.  Brian and I are making plans to move to Seattle in the next year or two.  Things are moving forward...perhaps in more of a labyrinth shape than a straight line, but moving nonetheless.

All that said, I think that I'm going to tentatively plan a long weekend in Vegas for my birthday next year.  (In all fairness, I'd really rather head to the clubs on Ibiza, especially as I'll likely soon be too old to enjoy the experience properly, but given the financial and geographical restrictions, Vegas is a somewhat more reasonable goal.)  30 is a milestone that deserves celebration, and I've never been to Sin City; and while I fully realize it will be an assault on all possible definitions of good taste, I do have a certain fondness for kitsch and popular entertainment, especially when it's both self-aware and so completely over-the-top as to become a form of meta-art (viz. Lady Gaga).  Would anyone be interested in possibly joining us?  When pricing out hotel rooms for DefCon Brian discovered that it's cheap as chips to stay at one of the casino hotels (hardly surprising - they know they'll make it back from you downstairs), and it'd be fun to meet up for a birthday dinner at one of the fancier restaurants and then perhaps go see one of the shows (I've wanted to see Penn & Teller for a decade now) and go out dancing.
missroserose: (Default)

(Because every LJ account has to have posts about the owner's cats. It's in the bylaws somewhere.)

For those of you who've asked, Tripp the Three Legged Wonder Kitten has settled in fine and is doing well. Once he figured out the trick of navigating on three legs (part answer: hold your tail off to the missing-leg side for balance when running), he was zooming around the house with the other two cats, no problem. For their part, Dexter and Leo seem perfectly pleased to have him about; I frequently see them snuggling together, and the only time I hear growling seems to be when wrestling matches get out of hand. He's grown somewhat, from about half the size of our other two to about three-quarters; I have a feeling he'll end up being our three-quarter cat in more than one way. :) His coat has also gotten remarkably thick and silky, and he's starting to get a little fat.

And, like all proper not-quite-adult cats, loves to cause mischief. Just now he hopped up onto a dining-room chair, saw that I was watching him, and very deliberately jumped up onto the table (which he knows he's not supposed to do). I chastised him and chased him off the table, so he waited until I was settled back down on the couch with my back to the table...and promptly hopped right back up. Now he's settled down on one of the chairs, looking at me with that "See? See how good I'm being?" expression.

It's a good thing he's so adorable.


"See? Totally not jumping on the table. Yet."


You have no idea how difficult it is to get a good picture of a wriggly kitten.

Posted via LiveJournal app for iPhone.

missroserose: (Default)

(Because every LJ account has to have posts about the owner's cats. It's in the bylaws somewhere.)

For those of you who've asked, Tripp the Three Legged Wonder Kitten has settled in fine and is doing well. Once he figured out the trick of navigating on three legs (part answer: hold your tail off to the missing-leg side for balance when running), he was zooming around the house with the other two cats, no problem. For their part, Dexter and Leo seem perfectly pleased to have him about; I frequently see them snuggling together, and the only time I hear growling seems to be when wrestling matches get out of hand. He's grown somewhat, from about half the size of our other two to about three-quarters; I have a feeling he'll end up being our three-quarter cat in more than one way. :) His coat has also gotten remarkably thick and silky, and he's starting to get a little fat.

And, like all proper not-quite-adult cats, loves to cause mischief. Just now he hopped up onto a dining-room chair, saw that I was watching him, and very deliberately jumped up onto the table (which he knows he's not supposed to do). I chastised him and chased him off the table, so he waited until I was settled back down on the couch with my back to the table...and promptly hopped right back up. Now he's settled down on one of the chairs, looking at me with that "See? See how good I'm being?" expression.

It's a good thing he's so adorable.


"See? Totally not jumping on the table. Yet."


You have no idea how difficult it is to get a good picture of a wriggly kitten.

Posted via LiveJournal app for iPhone.

missroserose: (Shake It!)
...but my eyes are up here, see.

missroserose: (Shake It!)
...but my eyes are up here, see.

missroserose: (Balloons and Ocean)
This weekend has been pretty excellent. Why? I'm glad you asked! Here's a list of the highlights:
Pictures and general niftiness below. )
missroserose: (Balloons and Ocean)
This weekend has been pretty excellent. Why? I'm glad you asked! Here's a list of the highlights:
Pictures and general niftiness below. )
missroserose: (Red Hair)




This week's hair color of choice is Special Effects Devilish. I think I'm beginning to discover why everyone cites SFX as the go-to choice for funky hair color - in addition to dyeing effectively and wearing well, the color has surprising depth. When I did Wild Flower last (and, unfortunately, neglected to get any pictures), it would look very blue or very purple, depending on the light. Devilish, similarly, can look pink or orange, also depending on the light.

Additionally, considering how well it stays on your hair, it cleans off your skin surprisingly easily. Which I was particularly glad of with this color - during the dyeing process I ended up with a streak of it across my neck, and would not have much enjoyed going about looking like one of Sweeney Todd's victims.

Still, I'm not counting Manic Panic out quite yet - the pink was a nice shade, and it'll definitely look more consistent now that I've managed to get most of the orange out of the ends of my hair. Definitely more testing ahead in the future.

And now, also as promised - I'd like to introduce Tripp.



He's a little difficult to get pictures of, being entirely black (including whiskers and claws). He's also about half the size of our other two cats, though to be fair, he's all of six months old, so really still a kitten. And, as you can see in this picture, he's missing one of his back legs.



He's also really impressed with that cone.

According to the shelter, he was brought in as a stray with a broken leg that was infected, healing improperly and he wasn't using anyway, so rather than re-break it and put pins in and all that jazz they just cut it off. He's still surprisingly mobile, even if he'll never be a huge jumper. We'll just have to make him a ramp so he can clamber up on the bed.

Temperament-wise, he's extremely sweet - loves to sit in your lap and purr and be petted. We're crossing our fingers that he'll get along with Dexter and Leo, as we really don't want to bring him back to the shelter this time. It's a big house, there should be plenty of room for all three of them. Especially since, if they need to get away from Tripp, they can just hang out at the top of the cat tree. :)
missroserose: (Red Hair)




This week's hair color of choice is Special Effects Devilish. I think I'm beginning to discover why everyone cites SFX as the go-to choice for funky hair color - in addition to dyeing effectively and wearing well, the color has surprising depth. When I did Wild Flower last (and, unfortunately, neglected to get any pictures), it would look very blue or very purple, depending on the light. Devilish, similarly, can look pink or orange, also depending on the light.

Additionally, considering how well it stays on your hair, it cleans off your skin surprisingly easily. Which I was particularly glad of with this color - during the dyeing process I ended up with a streak of it across my neck, and would not have much enjoyed going about looking like one of Sweeney Todd's victims.

Still, I'm not counting Manic Panic out quite yet - the pink was a nice shade, and it'll definitely look more consistent now that I've managed to get most of the orange out of the ends of my hair. Definitely more testing ahead in the future.

And now, also as promised - I'd like to introduce Tripp.



He's a little difficult to get pictures of, being entirely black (including whiskers and claws). He's also about half the size of our other two cats, though to be fair, he's all of six months old, so really still a kitten. And, as you can see in this picture, he's missing one of his back legs.



He's also really impressed with that cone.

According to the shelter, he was brought in as a stray with a broken leg that was infected, healing improperly and he wasn't using anyway, so rather than re-break it and put pins in and all that jazz they just cut it off. He's still surprisingly mobile, even if he'll never be a huge jumper. We'll just have to make him a ramp so he can clamber up on the bed.

Temperament-wise, he's extremely sweet - loves to sit in your lap and purr and be petted. We're crossing our fingers that he'll get along with Dexter and Leo, as we really don't want to bring him back to the shelter this time. It's a big house, there should be plenty of room for all three of them. Especially since, if they need to get away from Tripp, they can just hang out at the top of the cat tree. :)
missroserose: (Default)


The local Sally Beauty Supply seems to have some kind of a bias against funky hair colors - despite restocking everything else, their supply of Manic Panic is down to like three colors. Since I really wanted to do a bright vivid blue this time, I decided to try the only other brand they had (besides the infamous dishwater-green Beyond the Zone stuff) - something called N Rage.

First impressions were mixed - it was far less liquid and more goop-y than the other brands, which made it easier to apply but a little harder to mix into the hair. Additionally, it was scented like blue bubble gum, which wasn't awful but got a bit cloying after working with it for a while. My friend Janae, who was over at the time for New Year's, helped me apply it, and I let it sit for about forty minutes before washing it out.

Second impressions were equally mixed. After rinsing, my hair was sort of light blue (the previously-dyed ends were far more green, which wasn't surprising since the bleach doesn't do more than turn them orange), but on the whole it didn't seem to take very well. It wasn't awful like the Beyond the Zone, but it wasn't great either. And it certainly wasn't anywhere near the vibrant dark cobalt blue the bottle promised.

Since I was headed to Sierra Vista on Monday for Zumba anyway, I hit Sally's up again for their last bottle just to make sure I'd given it a fair shake. I also got some cheap and awful and harsh shampoo from the dollar store and washed my hair with that, since I figured it'd strip out the oils and open the cuticles and whatever else the bleach usually does. Then I put the stuff on my hair (first time I'd done it myself - turns out it's a lot messier with just one person and a comb), tossed a shower cap on, and let it cook for a good hour-plus.

Fortunately, it took much better this time around, and the resulting color is quite nice. Unfortunately, my reaction is still mixed - despite rinsing my hair until the water was clear, it still bled all over my pillowcase overnight (fortunately some bleach and two launderings got the worst of it out) and is bleeding on the skin of my neck and ears. After a day at work unconsciously running my fingers through my hair, they were bright blue too. So all of that doesn't lead me to believe that this stuff is going to last for long at all.

So far, Manic Panic's definitely leading the pack for most-effective and longest-lasting, at least for my hair; though admittedly the comparison's far from comprehensive yet, as I've yet to try any of their blue shades. But the fun's far from over - I still haven't tried Special Effects, which is supposed to be the last word in funky hair color. My brother's promised to send me some, since I don't live near anywhere that sells it; I suppose we'll see how it turns out.

Also, thanks to the strong recommendation of one of the girls at the shop, I discovered that while Beyond the Zone's dye might be crap, their hair masque is excellent stuff. It's a bit of a pain to use - you're supposed to rinse out your hair, towel-dry it, comb the masque in, leave it for five minutes, and then rinse it out again - but I found it worked even better than the leave-in treatment I was using. Cheaper, too - a whole pot of it is like $10, as opposed to $8 for three vials.
missroserose: (Default)


The local Sally Beauty Supply seems to have some kind of a bias against funky hair colors - despite restocking everything else, their supply of Manic Panic is down to like three colors. Since I really wanted to do a bright vivid blue this time, I decided to try the only other brand they had (besides the infamous dishwater-green Beyond the Zone stuff) - something called N Rage.

First impressions were mixed - it was far less liquid and more goop-y than the other brands, which made it easier to apply but a little harder to mix into the hair. Additionally, it was scented like blue bubble gum, which wasn't awful but got a bit cloying after working with it for a while. My friend Janae, who was over at the time for New Year's, helped me apply it, and I let it sit for about forty minutes before washing it out.

Second impressions were equally mixed. After rinsing, my hair was sort of light blue (the previously-dyed ends were far more green, which wasn't surprising since the bleach doesn't do more than turn them orange), but on the whole it didn't seem to take very well. It wasn't awful like the Beyond the Zone, but it wasn't great either. And it certainly wasn't anywhere near the vibrant dark cobalt blue the bottle promised.

Since I was headed to Sierra Vista on Monday for Zumba anyway, I hit Sally's up again for their last bottle just to make sure I'd given it a fair shake. I also got some cheap and awful and harsh shampoo from the dollar store and washed my hair with that, since I figured it'd strip out the oils and open the cuticles and whatever else the bleach usually does. Then I put the stuff on my hair (first time I'd done it myself - turns out it's a lot messier with just one person and a comb), tossed a shower cap on, and let it cook for a good hour-plus.

Fortunately, it took much better this time around, and the resulting color is quite nice. Unfortunately, my reaction is still mixed - despite rinsing my hair until the water was clear, it still bled all over my pillowcase overnight (fortunately some bleach and two launderings got the worst of it out) and is bleeding on the skin of my neck and ears. After a day at work unconsciously running my fingers through my hair, they were bright blue too. So all of that doesn't lead me to believe that this stuff is going to last for long at all.

So far, Manic Panic's definitely leading the pack for most-effective and longest-lasting, at least for my hair; though admittedly the comparison's far from comprehensive yet, as I've yet to try any of their blue shades. But the fun's far from over - I still haven't tried Special Effects, which is supposed to be the last word in funky hair color. My brother's promised to send me some, since I don't live near anywhere that sells it; I suppose we'll see how it turns out.

Also, thanks to the strong recommendation of one of the girls at the shop, I discovered that while Beyond the Zone's dye might be crap, their hair masque is excellent stuff. It's a bit of a pain to use - you're supposed to rinse out your hair, towel-dry it, comb the masque in, leave it for five minutes, and then rinse it out again - but I found it worked even better than the leave-in treatment I was using. Cheaper, too - a whole pot of it is like $10, as opposed to $8 for three vials.

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