Saturday, December 16, 2006

Ten Weird Things About Me

I got this at an Alternate Journal and did it there, but realized I'd tagged Chris and not actually put it up here on Blogspot. So I'll repost it slightly edited, here, but be warned that there's a little bit of TMI ahead:

The rules: "Each player of this game starts off with ten weird things or habits or little known facts about yourself. People who get tagged must write in a blog of their own ten weird things or habits or little known facts as well as state this rule clearly. At the end you must choose six people to be tagged and list their names. No tagbacks!" (I already did that bit. But Carl! Christina! Raechel! Go for it!)

1. I have only 25 teeth, and it'll be 24 whenever I can manage to get that last lousy wisdom tooth out. I have had more dental surgery than your mother.
2. I have to eat in pairs, one of whatever thing to each side of my mouth, preferably at the same time (I most prefer to eat six of very small things). My little neuroses are quite plentiful, actually, but generally harmless to others.
3. I am horribly reluctant to shower alone (see above). Scared like a four year old. Luckily, Chris and I have been showering ONLY together, for a while, now. And we only do that about three times a week. Pheremone heaven, happy skin, and water conservation in one, mmm.
4. I'm one of those people with the cilantro-tastes-like-soap allele, and I like it anyway. Other genetic quirks: I can roll my tongue, I am blood type AB+, and I sneeze when I look at very bright lights.
5. I am allergic to the Whooping Cough vaccine. But am naturally immune to Chicken Pox.
6. I have a serious fetish for horizontal stripes in high contrast (and things that mimic that look). ...My fetishes are quite plentiful, too. And, ah, mostly harmless.
7. I have gotten off to "Happiness is a Warm Gun."
8. Pink carnations turn me into goo. Especially if you throw some pink ribbon in there.
9. I like peeling dead skin off of others. And myself, of course. I actually kinda' like sunburns.
10. I am a little farsighted! But originally thought I was rather nearsighted, on account of my astigmatisms being so bad that they warped the distance way worse than the foreground. (I also have a ton of floaters, and tinnitus to match, spiritually speaking.)

I left off some favorites, hoping to avoid the better known.. (e.g. I don't shave, don't drive anymore, favorite number is 64, can whistle in tune, etc). And tried to not much repeat those from whom I got this thing (I am another inveterate hold-full-conversations-with-myselfer and keep myself up thinking too loudly). And, of course, I could've filled this list twice over with just neuroses, or just fetishes or whathaveyou, but I tried to be broad. And not too vulgar. ;) Tempting as it is.

So, there's that!

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Just because it makes me happy to think about. . .

. . .and I am a vain little fucker. I don't know what to do about that. Oh, well.

All right. There are plenty of studies/catalogues of regionally based dialects. You know, whether something is "soda" or "pop," in some place, or a couch or sofa, and so on. But I get the feeling that my family, specifically my mother's side, being large and starting out its recent history isolated (sort of) on a man-made island in Long Beach that was populated by recent immigrants, the uneducated, the self-educated, and gangsters, has developed a fairly peculiar dialect of its own. Some of it is Southern Californian in general, but some of it is just pigheadedness. Despite not being actually cut off from the outside world, we are a somewhat persistent bunch, and if Grammy Jane (the Matriarch) calls something the heater, you ain't breaking the rest of us out of the habit, even if it's a matter of wild over-generalization on our part.

Chris makes me aware of it all. Delightfully, I swear. But I wield these findings at my mother and it sounds like she's been put on the Teacups. Positively dizzy.

Here is a partial list of places where Chris and I speak at odds:

Light socket/Electrical outlet
Butter knife/Table knife
Electric bill/Light bill
(e.g.)"The 99"/"99" or "Hwy 99"
"Shut over the door" or "close over the window"/"Leave it open a crack" or "?"

(Mine are on the left, his on the right.)

Now, the problem is that the things I say meaning one thing are not only different from the words my Love would use, but they often have alternate meanings, for him. Sometimes it's just a matter of being foreign to him, but most of the time it causes confusion. When I cave and say, "All right, you can turn on the heater," he thinks I could actually be talking about one of the little space heaters. Rather than the furnace. Ha! But a heater, he says, is not the same as a furnace. Central heat is a furnace, and "the heat" can be the furnace, but a heater is a concentrated heat source. I.E. not what I'm calling a heater.

Apparently, my mother's mother's house has an actual heater, rather than a furnace. So this is probably where we get it. She is the Mighty Mighty Matriarch, after all.

"Barbecue," also, is not the grill on which one barbecues. Barbecue (he claims) is the style of grilling that involves pork and heavy sauce, or the product that comes out of it. I suppose, to me, his version of barbecue is "BBQ." I still claim to barbecue shishkabobs. He grills them. He would eat barbecue. I would not so much.

Light socket is just wrong, I know. Because the light socket is the socket that the light bulb goes into, not the outlet the plug for the lamp goes into. But, habit. I heard "look like you stuck your finger in a light socket" so many times that I associated it with the much more accessible outlet. (My mother calls the outlet "the plug.")

Butter knife is what my folk call any non-steak and non-chopping knife. That is, table knives. I don't know that any of us actually has a proper butter knife, but we use table knives mostly for butter. This is yet another one where Chris is officially right. But, eh.

Sink is, I suppose, objectively wrong, too. This is the point around which Chris accuses my family of speaking its own language. "Would you put that on the sink for me?" "You want it in the sink?" "No, no, like over there by the coffeepot." "On the countertop." "Yes." "Not the sink." "Well. . . " Because, while once in a while my family refers to that tiled area around the faucet area and above the cabinets as "the counter" (never the countertop), it's almost always also the sink. We differentiate with "in" or "on." At least half of the surface space in a kitchen is "the sink."

Now, light bill is his thing: Pittsburgh pickup. For once, I get to pretend to have some high ground, but then I have to let go, because that at least has a proper origin, and is supported by more than 20 people. As the bill covers all electricity, however, it is, strictly, less correct than electric bill, as far as energy usage is concerned. However, "Electric Bill" implies a bill which is electric. So I suppose the most proper would be the TID (Turlock Irrigation District) Bill, the Electricity Bill, or the Bill we Pay to Keep the Lights On. Still, I'm a little righter.

The freeway thing Chris thinks is SoCal, rather than just strictly my family, but he's never heard it outside of my homeland. It's likethis: I will never, NEVER say, "Take I-5 North" or even "Oh, you take 99 down to Merced. . ." God forbid I ever utter the words "California Route 4" or "Highway 1." Oh no. They are Entities, apparently. "You take the 110 up to the 405. . ." (Oh, and while we're at it, "up" consistently refers to North and "down" refers to South, regardless of whether one is going towards the center of the city or away or whatever the usual meanings for up and down are, around towns. Screw that.) It's even THE Pacific Coast Highway. THE Harbor Freeway. I know it's just one silly little article, but I'm committed.

And "close (sthg.) over"/"shut (sthg.) over" are just.. . Idunno. They're perfect. This one came to light when Chris would ask something like, "Do you want me to shut the door?" And I would say, "Oh, no, just shut it over." Hilarity ensues! Ah, well. I know that generally something is closed or not--i.e., if it's a little open, it's open--but my family once again operates contrary to this. If it's not all the way open, for us, it's partly shut. If we're opening something, goddamnit, it is going to be OPEN. If you remove it from that wholly open to the hinges position, at all, you've shut it over. Maybe this is rooted in my family never actually closing doors or windows completely. If it's really, actually cold enough, we will maybe close them over (move the door towards the closed position, still leaving it several inches open). But it's something like pulling teeth to get us to actually shut anything properly.

Well. So. That's that.

Now that anti-climax is achieved, I'm going to go upstairs and fiddle with recording some vocals for things Chris has laid down guitar tracks for. It should be fun!

Monday, December 4, 2006


I should have prefaced the last entry with my being okay. But I can't resist the urge to tell something in story form.

The hot shower helped marvelous much, though it's going to be an effort to keep on the better side of things if I keep typing with this damn thing (beautiful thing, darling thing, treasure of my material possessions) in my lap.

I have developed a healthy fear of the stairs.

I knew, shortly after getting here, and I expressed it somewhat loudly (so maybe someone can back me up), that I would, eventually, fall down the stairs to injury. Sometimes I said "and kill myself," but I didn't mean that. What I guessed would actually happen was that, as I had a big bad habit of leaping/tearing/jumping down the stairs, I would land badly on a step and break my ankle. Or at least twist it good, again. I have had a total of at least 6 sprains, between my two ankles, a couple of them serious, as they used to just fall over and sprain with no provocation. They don't twist, anymore. After all that, those tendons are made of elastic. Or molten steel, I'm not sure.

So this was more and less serious. I'm kind've sad that my love affair with tearing down the stairs is on hold/coming to an end in this way, so soon!, as I gingerly tread those steps. I had sort of hoped it'd be a bigger, stupider, sillier injury that would leave my more important bits alone--that I would earn my fear of stairs in a blaze of dumbass glory. I quite like crutches. This whole sitting back with my neck at a gentle recline and doing delicate stretches is not my bag. This impairs writing (can't you tell? By my radio silence?), which is a far graver offense than impairing walking/climbing/kicking.

. . .What the hell am I complaining about, anyway? I should get my ass up and clean off my poor, poor desk, and sit at it like a proper ape-descendent. But I love this cushy nook in the bedroom so much. It's in the Sun. It's lined with pillows. I Made It. There's a cat on the sill.

If I can rig (that should be "wrig") myself a handy tray-table for this height (doubtful), I shall return to this sunny, cozy spot. If not, it's into the Room of Requirement.


Sunday, December 3, 2006

"You know what they say about concussions: Just go with it."

Last night, while the lovely Christina was over for a night of carousing and Firefly, I stopped at the top of the stairs (on my way back down) to look at Lancelot, to see if he was about to do his usual, delightful mad dash down the stairs by me. He likes to race us down, you see.

Well, imagine my surprise when, as I turned, my extremely soft (slippery, you might say), red and white striped socks lost purchase at the edge of the step, and I fell down the stairs.

I fell down the fucking stairs.

Not too far, at least. I caught myself less than halfway down, and had the good fortune (I think) to maintain a roughly upright, seated position, as my feet had gone forward out from under me. You could call it a violent, painful slide, if you wanted. With screaming. And banging. And narrowly catching the banister--which I had been holding, at the top, I swear. Christina, who had been further down the stairs, and bless all ninety pounds of her, had been ready to break my fall. I imagine it would have broken her worse than me. Luckily, the brakes caught before I could barrel through her. But I feel very, very loved.

But now, imagine my almost-as-great surprise when, though my tailbone--and hips, and, frankly, ass--were also very sore, from taking the brunt of my collisions, there was pounding pain radiating through my neck and skull. I hadn't even hit my neck or skull. My tail is fine, now, it's my neck that's bitching.

My first impression was that the force with which the bottom of my spine had hit the steps had just gone ahead and pushed it up into my head. Not through my brain, but I figured there was some really unpleasant compression happening in there, anyway. That it had squeezed the vertebrae in my neck together. That it had banged up my skull on the way up. That I'd maybe knocked my brain into the top of my skull.

Brain. Knocked. Skull.

By the time I had let go of the cat I was clutching (he must have wandered close enough for me to get him--Christina said he was checking on me), and had assured the (worried!) Chris and Christina that I was sort of okay-just-hurting-a-lot-in-the-top-parts, and had sort of inched my way to the bottom of the stairs, the word "whiplash" had been thrown out there. My shoulders and back hurt, but most especially my neck. I didn't think that fit, though, since I didn't think I had done the classic back-forward whip--I was going down, suddenly, not back--and it didn't feel quite muscular. It felt too central. Too radiant. I have since learned, of course, that whiplash can come about from any good jarring, and concerns all of the delicate little soft tissues in there.

We made it down into the kitchen. I was shaken to no end, but I was walking and remaining upright. Somewhere in between sitting for a while and standing for a while, and sitting again, and standing, and sitting and, I was sitting on the floor eating crackers in a particularly urgent way, but I'm not sure what order it went in. I went for the crackers twice, though. Comfort food, and all.

Now, there's something that happens to me, sometimes, when I'm in the supermarket or similarly loud, crowded, bright places. I get dazed and a little panicked, and I latch onto Chris, who gets the task of piloting me through the rest of the trip, because I cease to have any very meaningful sense of what's going on around me. I see everything, sort of, but without it making an impression, if that makes any sense. Everything's a little blurred, surreal, and I can't actually look at anything. There's noise, but I can't really identify it. I don't usually walk into anything or anyone, because Chris looks out for me, but it's often a pretty narrow shave. My impulse is something like wanting to just stop where I'm standing and sink into the ground. Getting me to keep up is probably something of a chore. I slow down and can't keep pace. I'm not afraid, but I'm not really functioning, either.

But this has never happened in my own kitchen, before. And has never been coupled with the nigh unto overwhelming want to droop into the table and sleep. Or with a good jarring to my brain.

The word "concussion" came along, at some point. I'm not sure whether Chris or I posed it. I figured, maybe, spine jamming at my brain, or maybe my sudden downward momentum (more likely) had my grey matter floating in its cushion of fluid to be banged against the top of my skull. Christina doubted this, I think on account of there not being the old blow to the head. (I have since had confirmed that while concussions are mostly from direct hits, they can result from--tada--whiplash. I believe we have a winner.)

I wanted so badly to curl up and make sleep with the table. With the word "concussion" in my head, I did manage to avoid it. Chris and Christina kept talking, and that helped, but I don't have any particular recollection of the conversation, except for Chris asking if I was okay, and telling me that my body language was very strange, which I knew. I remember somewhere along the way there was the comforting assertion that even if there was a small concussion, the issue was just not clocking out right away, and not hitting my head again any time soon, and I should be fine. I really was mostly fine.

My neck stopped hurting, for a while, while I felt the most disoriented, and hurt more when I was clearer, and this pattern has been holding. I slept like a stone, last night, and it took a hell of a lot of effort to get out of bed this morning, but I got up and functioned. I've gone back and forth between being in pain and being a little out of it, but the latter is definitely improving. The former is fluxing, but more towards increase. My next order of business is a good hot shower, after which My Love is going to rub my shoulders. They need it. Because, radiating out from the base of my skull, the ache has spread through my neck, and down into my shoulders. And back. And as it ebbs, I notice the Piddly Shit™. I get the feeling I bruised side pretty good, my ankles are angry with me, my legs banged around a lot, the small of my back is achey. . . my wrists. . . a lot of things, really, but the worst of the pain is decidedly hanging out at the foramen magnum.

But. I have a full range of movement. Nothing is numb. My circulation is no worse than normal. No movement hurts so badly that I can't do it. Decidedly, slouching over my laptop is an aggrevator. But most of the time I've been okay. And I get to say, "I fell down the fucking stairs. And I was concussed." And I love the word "concussed."

Anyway, I'm'onna' go shower. But some tidbits from on the phone with Raechel, as a parting gift. After I told her I'd stayed home--"We figured I just shouldn't clonk out, and should avoid, you know, banging my head, not much to do with a concussion 'cept just go with it" she came out with, "You know what they say about concussions: Just go with it."

It turned into One Of Those kinds of conversations. Thank you, Raechel:

"You know what they say: cats'll kill ya'."

"Well, you know what they say: perverts are the fruit of life."

"You know what they say about that?"

"They know all. You should ask Them."

Thursday, September 21, 2006

I think that twenty-[three] is gonna' be a good year. . .


It's time for it to be Friday. I am ready. I've been ready. I am about an hour and a half from the exact anniversary of my birth--1 a.m., Pacific Daylight Time, on the dot, the 22nd of September (which was the first day of Autumn, the hottest day of the year, and the last day of Virgo, in 1983--the appropriate year). And I was done with 22 somewhere back in April, or so. Done, done, done. Ready to be 23. Not sure why. Prime number, odd number, odd number. Half of 46, the transposition of 64, my favorite number of all. .

But pulling at it, biting at it. . . I've never been so impatient for a year change, silly number change. So, so ready to be twenty-three. So ready I changed the number in the profile blurb a week ago. So ready I told the teller at the market. And the one at the fish counter. And the fruit stand. Champing.

So ready I didn't want to have anything to do with Thursday, usually my favorite day of the week (I don't know). So ready I wanted Wednesday to be Friday. So ready I wanted Thursday to be Friday. So ready I can't get it out of my head. Waiting for the reality of it to line up with my sense of it.

This is the first year in my life I've anticipated rather than had to find my way into later. That is, I've been 23 since I was 22 and a half. At 18, I still thought I was 15 or 16 ("jailbait" was a common defense mechanism, for me). At 20, I didn't remember I could rent porn. At 22, I didn't remember I could buy liquor. Or vote. Though I still remembered to vote. But never did I think at 14 and 3/4 that I was as near as 15. 17 and 340 days was not 18.

I suppose it's not very surprising.

I was told it would happen. Things would change. Is this my turning point? The famed time in one's life where one stops being "n and 1/2" or "x and 3/4" and such, and starts becoming either precisely the year one is (and nothing else) or the year marker one is nearest?

I suppose so.

It's becoming that kind of year.

My luck with even numbered years has been suspect, so I'm ready for an odd one. 8 was the downhill for my dad and I. 14, he'd just passed away. 20 was a very poor birthday, indeed, for utterly mundane reasons, and 22 was strange. And the last two years have felt like transition--wonderful and terrible, stressful and exalting, and it feels like it's finally coming into itself. It? Itself? Maybe my life, I mean. I'm not too sure.

But two is supposed to be the magic number of years. After two years in a relationship, they say, you stop seeing the glamour and start seeing the person. Or the worst. You know, your lot--the scales coming off of the eyes and all. And after two years, maybe, the sting and edge comes off of tough times, too.

Lately, remembering tough stuff has felt. . distant. It's been just long enough, maybe, finally. Enough time has elapsed that I don't feel so sore, so tender. I can see things in a more fuzzy abstract. I'm forgetting.

And starting into the third year, my lover feels absolutely, wonderfully right.

Is this what getting comfortable is like? I don't know that we've ever hugged so much, kissed so much. Just. . . warm and tight and perfect. I feel right. Hopeful. Steady. Good. Coming up against him and pushing my arms under his, stretching my forearms up his back, my palms between his shoulder blades, my face at his collarbone, his arms snug, bellies close, just fitting. Inspired.

I'm ready for the third year.

I've been living with Chris for two years, two months, and a few weeks, now. Everything annual now is the third. The third time we celebrated his birthday, or mine. The third school year starting. It'll be the third Halloween, the third Thanksgiving at my family's, the third Christmas.. The third Autumn, the third Spring!

I can't explain why that delights me so much.. . . but something about it does. The third is magic. 23 is magic, good juju.

I'm ready to be 23.

I feel arrogant.

No, not arrogant, but. . beautiful. Capable. I am in my best time.

I refuse to let my youth be wasted on me, if that makes sense. I was 40 when I was 14 (and was also very much 14). My age felt discordant in both directions--I forgot my chronological age had progressed and felt my emotional age was vastly forward, but I feel a kind of nexus, now, a kind of focus--I am feeling absolutely correct.

I am in some kind of best time, I think. I am young and know I am young--I know I have progressed through the physical maturation and into the pool of stasis before the charm of decay. But I am an adult and know I am an adult--I have, potentially, a lot of life left to look forward to, a vastness of experience and change. Somewhere within the next 80 years, or so, sooner or later, I will die, and be dying, and this time will become "before"--isn't that a strange thought? I am young in the way that will still be young when I look back from age, but which is not so young as child, as before.

This is the time of my life that my body will be best. Statistically speaking. But I feel it, too. This is the strength and beauty portion of our show. 23! It can come at any time, I know, but this is mine; not pubescent, not fading. I am in bloom.

I look at pictures of my mother, my aunts, everyone's mother and everyone's aunt, when they were "young," and see beautiful people, perfect and lovely, just by virtue of being caught in that moment, that loveliness that people have in them.

A few months ago, I caught it in myself.

I looked at myself, and knew it, somehow. I was as beautiful as I was ever going to be. I was the most lovely I had ever been.

It wasn't a smashing kind of beauty, nothing someone would put on TV or any nonsense like that, but exalted; I have my beauty, now. This is the time that someone will take a picture of me, and twenty years from now, my neices and nephews will go, "Wow, that's Aunt Lu? Dude. . . " because it will have been that time, for me. I think everyone has it. But how many out there can say that they knew how good their bodies were when they were best? I think I will. And maybe in another year I will still be as lovely, and maybe in forty years I will be that kind of older lovely, but I have an idea that actually appreciating my body and my face and self, now--and that it will change and fade and that that, too, is fine and natural and good--will do me unspeakable good. It cannot hurt me. If in a year I'm an even sexier bitch, so be it. I have never liked myself well enough. I have never thought I was good enough. I will.

I will now.

I will not look back in a year from now and regret the vastness I have missed. In twenty years I will not be one of the masses who wonders why I didn't realize what a wonderful thing I had going when I was younger, who didn't realize how cute I really was or how I really wasn't so bad at things as I thought. Why the fuck should I? I am not flawless, I am not infallible, I am not blind--I'm not that kind of young, I am not hateful of the future and invincible--and I'm not out to burn myself out or destroy myself. But I am not going to live waiting for the shift, either. I have it in my hands.

From 12 years old, my joints have been achey and weak. When I am 60 my joints will be achey and weak. But I am strongest, now. I am stablest, now. I am prime, somehow. My knees are not giving out on me, now, like they did and will. I have at least a few years of that owed me, and I think they are now. I owe it to myself to take care of them. To enjoy them, use them, exalt them. I am learning. I am growing. I can more clearly envision the consequences of my actions and surroundings than I have ever been able. I know I'm going to fall down these stairs, because I fling myself down them too carelessly. I can tell when I'm ovulating. For two weeks, now, I have been able to cook and bake at will, and get pretty much exactly what I want from it. Whatever I want to cook or bake! For a month I have been starting into the time where I will be able to grow food. I can create beauty in my surroundings. I am in synch.

23 is my magic. For now. Next year there will be a new balance, a new weight, but this is what I have for this year. A Major Arcana year. A seeing year.

I am ready. I am well.

23 is the age at which 40-60 year olds will stop being surprised at my actual age, and my age relative to my partner's. 22 sounded too young to them--23 is just young. 23 is what they expect. Wink.

Christina is coming over for movies and a delightful birthday dinner, tomorrow. We're having sustainably raised lamb, halibut, salad (including peppers and cucumber from my own garden) with homemade blue cheese dressing, and blue potatoes. And a strawberry tart without so much rat in it.

This is the first birthday I have (a) told people about beforehand, (b) thought about at length, (c) been pleased at the thought of since I was probably. . . seven years old, or so.

I am very, very happy.

Even the battery power on my laptop is lining up: I have plotted my time absolutely precisely.
Edit: No, really. It hit zero percent and fell asleep the very second after Blogger said it had published. Things have just been happening that way (see the previous post). Oh, and (for the moment) I measure a whopping 5'4". That fits in this post, somehow, too.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

The world has conspired to do me a very good turn.

One of my favorite things in this world is singing.

I am, admittedly, a depressive. It just happens to me, sometimes, and the habit of it sneaks back in on me before I can quite tell it's there. And when I get depressed, I get tired and complacent; I stop writing. I stop wanting to walk and romp and play. I stop singing.

Unfortunately, writing, walking, romping, playing, and singing are some of the best wards I have against depression. Thus begins a cycle, you see.

Now, I was encouraged to come join one of the local choirs, after I graduated. Other choir members, my Lover, my mom. . . It would keep me singing, it would give me some kind of post-partem structure, it would be fun, I'm good at it, etc. I couldn't/wouldn't afford tuition at my alma mater for one or two classes, so the Stanislaus choral ensembles were out, but MJC has one (and has low enough rates for their courses that it'd be affordable tuition), and Modesto has a Symphony Chorus that performs with their Symphony Orchestra. I didn't feel I had much hope for the latter, but I wondered. But they both meet evenings, once a week, up in Modesto.

In addition to being a depressive, I am also a little agoraphobic (can you be a little phobic of something? Is that paradoxical? If it's irrational and crimps your life, but maybe only comes on sometimes, or very particularly? In and out with the seasons?), which means I can't stand to leave home alone, most of the time, especially for unfamiliar surroundings. And I am anxious. And car-fearing. And road-fearing. Which means the prospect of driving to Modesto--alone, at night, in the season that will devolve into such thick fog I almost couldn't find my way to the freeway, the last time I tried it--is terrifying. And also means that I very gladly sent my Focus back down with my mother to LA for my brother to drive, and have not sought out insurance since I was removed from hers. Which furthermore means it would be illegal for me to drive, anyway--something that I find highly favorable, as it gives me a strong excuse not to do it. Sure, I have my moral objections to much car use, too, but I do understand that there is an element of "crutch" in there, somewhere, in inventing the system whereby facing my fears could put me in jail.

Anyway, given all of those little charmers in my personality, I declined to join any choir whatever in Spring. General self-doubt and fear of responsibility put in their two cents per, as well, to that end. And it frankly didn't look as though I would be joining one, soon.

That is, until Daniel, the choir director of both the Stanislaus choirs I had been in and the Modesto Symphony Chorus I didn't think I probably ought audition for, ran out on his meal when he saw me from a cafe window to call after me, catch me, tell me I should come sing for him in the Modesto Symphony Chorus I hadn't thought I should audition for, and (since I'd be unable to get there on my own, as Chris has a night class at the same time) even offer me a ride with him and another few of us here in Turlock every Monday to get there and back.



No driving? No driving.

Familiar persons.

Once a week, when I wouldn't have Chris home, anyway.

A virtual demand that I keep a sort of schedule (a plus in fending off depression), interact with other human beings (another plus in fending off depression), and sing, goddamnit, sing (etc.)?

I didn't have to do anything. I didn't even have to come up with the motivation or confidence to go seek it out. This FELL INTO MY LAP. We were just out walking to pick up milk, cilantro, and rice noodles. And you know I was still trying to come up with some reason I couldn't.

But I failed gloriously.

So, as of tomorrow, I'm going to start spending Monday night singing. I will be terrified, self-doubtful, shy, anxious, and probably guilty if I can manage to work it in somehow. I know that because I'm already working on it. But it's free therapy for all of the above.

I will also be thrilled, excited, exalted, enriched, and invigorated. And I'll get a boost to the old self-confidence. I know that, because I'm already working on those, too.

I am moved. I am disproportionately flattered and generally overwhelmed. I feel very silly, and very happy, and very sheepish. And I am duly surprised that I can still hit the G an octave and a half above middle C pretty reliably, because I wasn't exactly operating under the assumption that I'd be going to join an operatic chorus, rather than just continuing to sing folk songs in my living room.

Och, I have a lot of practicing to do. But that is wonderful.

Sunday, September 10, 2006


Okay, sorry I've been so scarce. It's frankly been a really busy summer. But maybe I'll get back into this, one of these days!

For now, we amongst the Faithful Felber Fans™ have been asked to plug, and when Adam Felber says "Plug!" I say "How high?!"

Well, no, not really. But it did occur to me that I hadn't yet pumped this book, and that I have been meaning to, and that it is the book I've read in the last several years that I believe most deserves it. It's not that I haven't read other great books, because I've read some pretty great books, but most of them, frankly, have been serial jobs with pre-established fan bases and well-established authors and publicity and the deck generally stacked in their favor, by the time I got to them, rather than an author's first novel with an alarmingly green cover and the promise of perverted physics, sex, geeks, lunchmeat, and the strangely undiminished dead thrown in.*

So, I feel plugging is more than deserved. Adam Felber's Schrödinger's Ball has become one of my all-time favorite books. Please, go check out the website, check out the book, get ahold of a copy, and don't let the spectre of quantum physics scare you--it was a fantastic read, incredibly weird and funny and warm and delightful, and I absolutely adored it. It was refreshing! It was surprising! It was silly and touching and dark and terribly light.

As I value you all as intelligent people with senses of humor, I'd like to think that you'd all like it, too. (Sorry, was that too shameless an appeal? Ah, well.)

Anyway, I do strongly suggest you pick it up, it was truly a delight.

*In that sentence, I now realize, the adjective "perverted" could just as easily be read to apply to all nouns in the series, rather than (as I had intended) just "physics," but I suppose that that vagueness is also appropriate.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

It's official!

We're a band! Paper Cats! That's us. (I am, by the way, proud of myself for that name.)

And we've made it onto their folk charts! The songs Chris and I have posted on our blogs are up there (he's posted a few I never got around to, actually!), as well as a couple more of Chris's solo songs. This is so, so, so much fun.

In other good news, I've got the bug for writing again. I'm in the smut fanfic mode (and, strangely, the non-smut fanfic mode, which is entirely new for me) and hopefully that'll translate into feeling like working on original fiction, soon. But we'll see.

In still other good news, we're moving in less than two weeks! TWO WEEKS! AAAAAAAAAH! (It's about two blocks away, but it's a little bigger, a townhouse--complete with stairs, stairs, stairs!--and a little yard, very exciting.)

Maybe I'll write a few substantive blog entries, soon. But probably after we're moved in. :)

Monday, May 22, 2006

The less danceable, sweeter songs.

If this was a truly, evenly schizo serious-fluffy journal, I would've spaced out lyrics and song and lyrics with something about. . . Idunno, my cavities or that funny swollen lymph node and the inequities of the American systems of marriage and insurance, bigotry, etc. But Lancelot is licking plastic and attacking spider plants, so it's time to buck up and post his lyrics, instead. I can carry a musical theme for five whole posts, see? Not bad, that.

Since we put up our shaky copy of "the Only Living Boy in Turlock," let's see if I can't persuade my lovely Lover to put up the first runs of Lancelot's Song and the Late-Afternoon Lullaby, while we're at it. . . Since, as I said, they're not at all the same without the music!

Edit: In fact, he was persuaded! Click here to hear Lance's song, and click here to hear the Late-Afternoon Lullaby--which is my favorite, I think, of these three.

And here're the lyrics:

"Lancelot's Song"

Watch them, see them, hear them
Strange and loud and fuss and laugh and
Running fast
Very fast!

Singing out loud in the sunshine
Sleeping too long in the dark
Tearing around in the Sunshine!

Running to and fro and
fro and to and to and fro and--
Jumping high
Very high!

They tearing around in the sunshine
they Singing out loud in the dark
they Sleeping too long in the sunshine


And they call and grab and
clutch and hold and love and cry out--
all my names
Many names!

They soaking all day in the sunshine
They tearing around in the dark
They singing out loud in the sunshine!

. . . .which would all make more sense if everyone knew our boy (The Boy, Shtinkertoy, Bunky, Lanceamaphone, Lance without Pants, Lancelot sans coulots, kitty fricasee, etc) and how we are with him. The lyrics are from his perspective; we were going for a sort of anthropological observation Lance-a-pot style.

Now, this one was to music Chris was going to pitch because he didn't like it (which I still can't believe). I told him it sounded like dapplied sunlight, late afternoon, and that I loved it, and he kept playing it for me but didn't really get what I meant 'til I sang the words for him. I think he likes it better, now. :)

"Late-Afternoon Lullaby"

On the side of some old desert road
Lying in the sand
Staring up at red rock cliff face
Hand in dusty hand

And we'll dream
Sweet dreams

Dappled sunlight through old birch trees
On a fading porch somewhere
You lying with your head in my lap
My hands in your hair

And we'll dream
Sweet dreams
Dream, dream, sweet dreams. . .

(Instr. bridge)

I'll sing to you
in a voice rough with age
And you'll play for me
hands old sweet and sage

And we'll dream
Sweet dreams . . .

. . . the first version of that I wrote (and lost) on a bus to Monterey on a zoology class field trip. Listening to a couple of girls in the seat ahead of me, one of whom actually happened to be a student of Chris'. In one breath criticizing him for her not participating in class, and in the next talking about dogs: "Eugh, I don't want a girl dog, girl dogs are so stupid. . . always having babies and stuff. . . " Hm.

Sometimes Turlock hurts. But that was a couple posts ago. The apricots are trickling in, now, and soon it'll be peaches. Out on the verandah, three of my five tomato plants are flowering or bearing green fruit (well, one of them is actually indoors on the desk in the War Room--doing better than a lot of the others, we get more sun there than outside, somehow), my radishes are growing, my bell pepper from last season, which has now self-resurrected from near death two or three times, may or may not produce something resembling buds, this year. Basil, parsley, chives, and cilantro, chervil from seeds, a few weak sprouts of pansies (also for food, also from seeds, also scraggly, also growing best on the desk, the touchy little bastards). . . Two cacti (a weak aloe, a strong little funky crossbreed that's sort've green and lavender), two kinds of columbines, two kinds of daisies, mums, azaleas, fuschia, most of which are in between bouts of flowering but looking happy. . . Inside (with one of the tomatoes and some of the pansies), two "tropical plants," two Wandering Jews, three Pothos, 8 spider plants in pots and 6 rooting in a bowl, two different kinds of ficus, and one pot of ivy. Most of which I/we cloned/rooted.

There is green everywhere.

Not bad for an apartment and verandah with difficult light!

It feels so, so good to be surrounded by plants.

Oh! And there's a green plant living in with the fish. I forgot about that one, since I consider it more like FishFish's pet, I suppose. Fishfish, who, a year and a half later, is still alive. Through fin rot and fussy eating. . . despite the white bubble growing on his head. . . That is one tough fish, there. That's why he's FishFish the Ferocious. Keep swimmin', FishFish.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

I posted the lyrics not long ago, but. . .

Now we've gone and done it. We've made a little recording of "The Only Living Boy in Turlock," not much tampered with or fixed up, yet, so be kind, and there's an extra accidental chorus thrown in, somewhere. Other than that, though, it works okay! You'll get the idea!

So, CLICK THIS to hear the recording!

Please! ©, etc. Don't make a nice girl cry. Chris wrote the guitar music, I wrote the lyrics/melody line. Of the songs we brought down to my mother (the others of which we also made little first run recordings of, tonight--Lancelot's Song and the Late Afternoon Lullaby), this was m'mom's favorite, the one she demanded we make her a recording of. So, for my mama and all.

Thinking I'll cross post this at my fiddly bit journal, too, though. . . 'cause, y'know, I'm curious. . .

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

"The Only Living Boy in Turlock"

(The song came from a warp on Paul Simon title and associated chords. Teasing, but lovingly. These are the "wrote all at once and they're fun to sing" lyrics evoked in the last post. Presume the nonsense syllables to be guides representing scatting. To music by Chris, and it's not the same without it. But he was surprised I hadn't posted them, so. . . . Here's a little piece of Turlock, CA. © 2006 Lauren Byerly and Chris Nagel, etc, thx.)

Can't catch a bus through the cars, but the cows
come closer than people--won't talk--
Two hours from the nearest place without lights
Two hours from the nearest place with life
Tell me, why am I here?

I duck and I wave and beg and I try to find someone else who smiles but
Not in this little town
No, not in this town!

La t-da dadida ta da bada didow,
latasi za za di da
Doom, ba da dadida la tsow zada bida
gadda ba la tsi da da
boom, La ladadidow,

Zat zatta da lee zat zatta bop dee zat zatta rah ta ta tee za
-- zat dadida dow
--zat Li La Li Lie

People shouting in print, but I think people thinkin's
Fewer and further between than us hippies,
long haired and hiding out behind guitars
and run to the coast when there's a little
Time to breathe. . .

I duck and I wave and beg and I try to find someone else who smiles but
Not many'n this town
No, not in this town!

La t-da dadida ta da bada didow,
latasi za za di da
Doom, ba da dadida la tsow zada bida
gadda ba la tsi da da
boom, La ladadidow,

Zat zatta da lee zat zatta bop dee zat zatta rah ta ta tee za
-- zat dadida dow
--zat Li La Li Lie


Eating peaches and getting pickled on rum
and juice in the hot hot sun and then
dancing 'round in the rain and watching the muck
come out of the air and pretending We
the only ones here, today. . .

Then I duck and I wave and beg and I try to find someone else who smiles but
Not in this little town
No, not in this town!

La t-da dadida ta da bada didow,
latasi just me and peaches,
today, a da dadida la tsow zada bida
Keep your guitar out the rain and
boom, La ladadidow
--Da lie la li lie. . .

Tuesday, May 9, 2006

Not to jinx, but to encourage. . .

I feel, I feel, I feeeeeeeel like I'm coming through. After not having been able to write more than a few words (and then in role of editor), I wrote three songs, this afternoon.

No, I didn't. That's such a lie. What a liar I am!

What I did, actually, was to write the lyrics for three of Chris' songs. One I had most of, already, and was sort've. . . finalizing, I guess. One I had pieces of, and got in order (and wrote another verse for). One--the long one, the daunting one, the spunky one, for which I had not previously had a word, on which I could not muster a thought, let alone a line or verse--I wrote in its entirety.

And it is fun. I am so, so pleased--which is saying a lot, since I have a long and sordid history as a horrid detractor of myself. They need work in that I need to be more comfortable singing them than I am while he's playing them, and it's good to practice together, but.. they're.. . I like them. Goodness, that song is fun to sing. One of the others is fun, too. And the last--it's pretty. It's working. And Chris likes them all. Which is important, since it's his music. That makes us officially musical collaborators.

Which is, by the way, pretty hot.

Speaking of hot musical collaboration, and inspiration to write:

"I'd love to turn you on. . ."

Chris and I have been absolutely ploughing through the Beatles Anthology, which he found for us because he is fantastic. We just finished the 6th segment, which includes the making of Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Heart's Club Band. In particular, Paul (and George Martin, too, come to think) talk about the writing and production of "A Day in the Life."

Now, I was raised on the Beatles. And as far as explicit lyrics and raunchiness go, I would hands down say the Eagles and Jimmy Buffet (also formative) had it over them. My adoration for the Beatles was consequently deep and pure and utterly innocent.

And it wasn't 'til I was probably 19 or so that I caught wind of the strange and elusive beast, Beatles slash. I don't remember if it was before or after that, though, that I really, really listened to "Run For Your Life," from Rubber Soul (an album I'd had and loved since I was about nine). I mean, I'd heard it and knew it, but I mean really, really listened. And realized that it was rough sex in vocal form.

Delete several paragraphs of rampant pornographic waxing here on the general subject of sexuality (mostly mine) as related to the Beatles.


In short, through this and that, I've come out of that nonsense about them being innocent. The drugs weren't a surprise, but it was harder, about the raunch. I'm seeing it, finally--seeing the sexuality in the show, understanding. The tens of thousands of girls who screamed when they leaned in inches from one another, heads together, mouths at the same mic, and sang high harmonies together didn't just like the music. I can barely keep my chair, now, and yes, the harmony is part of it, but it's not all.

And it's even occasionally in the lyrics. I hadn't noticed. "Why Don't We Get Drunk and Screw?" was too obvious to ignore, but the Beatles were subtle. I'd heard "A Day in the Life" a thousand times, and heard--and sung along with more often than not--the line "I'd love to turn you on" as it halts and sighs and pulses long, and assumed they either didn't mean it that way, or that it just didn't mean that then. It was the 60's, after all, a time of innocence.

I'm not sure how I managed that. It has to do with knowing it from before I was able to understand, I think.

And here was Paul, talking about writing with John, making music with him, waving off any claim of professionalism--he was, he said, a big fan of John's, and that it wasn't calmly joining to write, no--they were excited by what each the other was doing. "I can't wait to get my hands on that one!" and so forth. And there was something missing, in "A Day in the Life," he said. And when that line came up--he sang it in the interview, soft--it was it. And Paul has a way of looking naughty and knowing, you know. Turning his face just aside while looking forward, and lifting his eyebrows while lowering his eyelids and parting his lips, holding his body very, very still.

It was in the lingo, at the time, he said. Everyone knew it, he said, but no one had put it on an album, yet, dared to. "Do it! Put that in, write that down!" he repeated himself, sounding breathless and excited and sly. And I see it.

John Lennon and Paul McCartney, still eager to get their hands on one another's work, still meshing and collaborating, sitting close across over a keyboard, thrilling, when one of them looks up and sighs a non-sequitur, sings to the other, "I'd love to turn. . . you. . . on. . . "

And the other whispers, "Yes!"

Monday, May 8, 2006

Mid-morning lullaby.

When I was little, my father used to sing to me.

He was one of those people who couldn't really sing--at least, couldn't carry the tune quite right, and probably couldn't have matched key to save himself. But he had one of those voices.

You know, one of those.

I could've listened forever. It was a good voice for a dad to sing with, I remember that. He sang low, and quiet, and his voice was a little rough. I think, now, looking back, it would've been one of those that's good with an old guitar playing old--old--country songs. Jimmy Rodgers old. But I can't really hear it, anymore. Not quite. It's been too long.

Have you had that? Remembering something you're not sure you really remember well, but you've seen the photos or watched the videos or heard the story told so many times, you've sort've filled it in? I remember him singing. I remember what he sang, how he sang it. But I can't hear his voice. Except for how it sounded on family movies from when I was 4 or 5. My father's voice: perpetually muted and muffled and 20 years ago tape-deck.

It's strange; I can still sort of smell him. Bay rum, something just a little sour and damp behind it from sweating, sometimes. And the way the scarred skin by his shoulder felt when I hugged him and got that smell, those times, soft and cool. I touched his forehead at the viewing: that's a feeling I wish I didn't remember as well as I do, the absolute cold, there. Stiff like clay, but not as pliable. But it's fading.

His face is come a shifting amalgam of every picture ever taken of him. His hair anywhere from dark, deep brown to almost white with grey--every time he shaved it off, it came back whiter. He dyed his hair and beard green, once, for me, on St. Patrick's (I'd done my own hair with food coloring, before). I found that picture, recently. I'd forgotten. Him with his jambok (what he called his bamboo walking stick--he'd never, ever use a cane), sitting on the bed in their room, with the tropical murals on the walls that my mom painted over when she tore the house apart. It couldn't look the same as it had.

But his voice. I remember him singing to me, at night. Songs I'd never heard anywhere else, some. He'd come to sit on the edge of my bed, and sing me a song about a lovely Indian maid and her handsome brave, and he'd humor me by putting my name in instead of Little White Dove and the name of whatever boy down the street I had a crush on that week in for Running Bear. Soft and sad and sweet, that song, old and calm and gentle, full of love.

Sometimes he'd sing Purple People Eater. We had that on a tape--I knew that one, that way. He drew me a picture of the monster, once, after asking me to draw what I thought it looked like--it was good. I'd never known him to draw, otherwise.

Then he'd sing one that was environmentalism disguised as religion. About the old oak tree, that loved the babbling brook, and on up to the clear blue sky, until man came along. ". . . And the babbling brook is solid ground. And the mountain hiiiiigh don't stand so high, and there's a cloud of smoke, cov'rin' up the clear blue sky-y-y. . . " Then something about if she'd left the apple on the tree. Sometimes he'd end with Amazing Grace. I liked it. It's never sounded the same, from anyone else.

Day to day, he'd sing bits of "Sixteen Tons," and "Soldier Boy"--"You are my first love, and you'll be my last love," he'd say to me, sing-song. I didn't know it was "Soldier Boy"--didn't know the song at all--'til I heard an Old School night on the local hip-hop station, lying in bed.

I was probably fifteen or sixteen when I realized how badly I missed all those songs. When he'd been gone a couple of years, and hadn't sung them in years before that, either. When I remembered them, and could remember whole verses, but realized I didn't know the names of the songs. Where they'd come from, whose they were. No amount of searching seemed to be able to turn them up, for me. I would be 20 before my ex-girlfriend's father--who had a strange knack for singing out loud the songs in your head--started gruffly puffing, "'was a tall oak tree! 'loved the babblin' brook!" one night.

It took every ounce of will and pride I could muster to not cry before I could ask about it. I remember feeling desperate, elsewhere, and I think my eyes were like that, like my face had sunk back away from them; I was up off the floor and turned 'round to him like I didn't weigh anything, and my voice too high and thin, asking, "What's that song? How do you know it?"

Hee-haw, or Hoe-Down, or something. One of those old country shows when he was a kid. "Tall Oak Tree," that was all. Not an old oak tree. I thanked him before finding a bathroom to crumple in.

I found that song. Glen Campbell. I found "Running Bear"--two versions, Johnny Rivers and Sonny James.

Some of the kitschiest, most over-the-top, annoying tracks I've ever heard, the lot.

My dad really couldn't sing very well, if well means representative of the original. (Johnny Cash's "Sixteen Tons" was closer.) But I could kind of hear him in them. Slower, without the trumpet lines (why on earth were there trumpet lines?), without the badly--insultingly--faked Native American flair, without the snappy swing, without the twang or Roy Orbison-esque vibratos. Some of the melodies missed. A verse skipped, once--the one about the devil tempting Eve. But something like.

Somehow, my father took that stuff and made old--old--country from it. He took Johnny Horton and made Jimmy Rodgers. He took jump and made lullabies.

Sunday, May 7, 2006

Places I want to be and am not wanted.

First off, I want to apologize: I know that some of the people who don't donate blood have really, really good reasons. Like (a) being unable for some legitimate reason--can't without blacking out, unsafe for their health, etc--and/or have been refused for similar, or, (b) having been refused outright for a reason rooted in some variety of institutionalized bigotry or paranoia.

Red Cross (any blood donation center I've met, really--Delta, UCLA. . .) doesn't care if you own the tattoo parlor and have sterilized everything used on you personally. They don't care if you were a vegan when you lived in England. They don't care if your male-male sex was protected, or occurred twenty years ago. They don't care if the possible incubation period on any disease is long up since you were in whatever neighborhood they find high risk. Accounting for things like that would take too much time and effort, when they can overgeneralize (and still not rule out the possibility of disease, surprise surprise). Being over- rather than under-protective of the blood supply, despite severe shortage, is one thing. Perpetuating shit like this despite options for more reasonable screening, especially in the face of shortage, is another.


So I apologize if I came off high-horse--I didn't mean to. I know it's rotten. I do want to encourage people who can--who are allowed to--to do it, despite the bullshit of the system. It doesn't hurt much, it doesn't take too long, they'll usually give you a gift certificate for a pie or something. And a lot of the people who don't/haven't donated just haven't thought about it, or haven't found the time. But I wish the system wasn't so fucked. And I wish I knew what to do about it.

Second of all. Tangential relation at best, started to write/post this last night, but couldn't get through it. I'll get sick of crying through that song, eventually:

I only just learned that some of the biggest St. Patrick's Day parades--ones in New York and in Boston, for instance--ban gay groups (and even gay marchers) from their midst. Don't want them. Explicitly.

. . .I think I may be heartbroken.

See, I had a tiny inkling--just a little weak tickle, every year--that some year, eventually, I wanted to be in New York or Chicago or Boston for St. Patrick's. I'm religion-free, and I'm a mutt, but I know where I identify more strongly on the rare given day I try. And I wanted to cross the country, to be somewhere with a strong Irish-American community that celebrates, that revels, that adores. One that turns out and is game to enjoy it. Here, there's the occasional green shirt, and I hear P. Wexford's in Modesto goes to town, but that's an Irish Pub. And that's the only one. The Guinness goes on sale, and if you get 6 packs or more, you get a few dollars off on your meat.

It's not the same, you know?

I guess I just wanted to see it, sometime. New York! On March 17th! Just once, maybe. . . Decked out and vibrant and lovely. I wanted to go and dance, sing along. Maybe learn a new song.

Maybe not.

Maybe I'll go to Chicago.

"Oh, the shamrocks were growing on Broadway,
Every girl was an Irish colleen
And the town of New York
was the county of Cork!
All the buildings were painted green!

"Sure the Hudson looked just like the Shannon,
Oh how good and how real it did seem!
I could hear Mother singing,
the Shannon bells ringing,
'twas only an Irishman's dream!"

Thursday, May 4, 2006

It's that time!

Yes, it's Blood Donation Time for Lauren.

For several months, now, I have given blood THE VERY DAY I was eligible to do it again, after the last time. I think it's a good policy. That is, one can donate blood every 56 days, and I have done it every 56 days. November 12th, January 7th, March 4th. . . I've been pretty good about it since I was first eligible (late 2000, early 2001, I think?), but there were a few several month gaps, in there, owing to being dorm bound, some of that time, and occasionally I'd have a pulse too high to be able to do it when I went, and have to wait. But that's not happening, anymore. It's not going to. (I may take the 6 month hit for acupuncture and a few more holes in my ears, sometime--that's two opportunities missed--but I'll do it all at once and Right After I've donated.) In any case, no other avoidable dooms. Lately, I've been very careful. No caffeine the morning before. Drinking plenty of water, so my blood volume is good and moves fast. And I think I was pretty close to Optimum Donation Efficiency for a donation or two before they gave me the handy calendar with printed in reminders--If you donate May 4th, 6/29 is written underneath it in red: your next eligible date.

The Delta Blood Bank (our local collector) in Turlock is only open Thursdays and Saturdays, however. And when I missed April 29th (ran out of time :( ) it set me back to Thursday. Today. So long as I can keep going on Thursdays, at least, I won't lose much more time on shedding platelets and hemoglobin and red blood cells and so forth. I aim to have donated 2 gallons (to Delta) by October--this will be 14 pints for them, today, 1.75 gallons. And I gave something like 3/4 gallon to the Red Cross, when I was in or visiting Southern California. So that'll be about 20 pints from me. 40 cups. 320 fluid ounces. 640 tablespoons. 20 pounds.

So I have donated my entire blood volume at least twice over.

For visuals, that is about:
- 5 (64 oz) jugs of juice.
- 5 cartons (1/2 gallon) of milk (or two and a half of those big mother jugs).
- 13 (24 oz) water bottles
- more than 12 bottles of wine (or fifths of your favorite liquor--mix and match!)
- more than 21 of those big cans--more than 5 of the 4 packs--of Guinness.

By weight:
- 4 (5 lb) bags of flour.
- 3 of your average infants
- 2 average cats or 3 chihuahas (or one Maine Coon cat)

Now go. Go to your kitchen and look at your milk or juice or hooch. Or Pooch, if you like.

Isn't that a trip?

Then find an hour, some time, and go give up to three people another chance to go be miserable to one another--or really, really good to one another. (Or put a pint dent in the up to 6-8 pints commonly needed in leukemia treatment, 6-12 pints for a gunshot wound, 10-100 for traumatic organ damage. This is a pretty big issue.)

Some Fun Blood Facts.

Edit, already: This is actually only *13* pints to Delta, today. So make it an even handful of the four packs of Guinness. :)

Tuesday, May 2, 2006


You can't imagine how freaky only 3 or 4 trucks showing up at the port of Long Beach is unless you've been stuck in traffic headed for the Vincent Thomas at 3 in the afternoon or 9-ish in the morning. Well, maybe you can. But it's fantastic.

One of the many stories about it--one of the less insulting.

"The New Colossus" -- Emma Lazarus

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
"Keep ancient lands, your storied pomp!" cries she
With silent lips. "Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"

Frankly, as long as that's what we've got posted at one of our borders. . .

Anyway, I'm not going to go into that any further, here. At the moment. I wound up going off happily at the delightful blog of Joe. My. God.--more than I'd planned, because there was an interesting comment left there. His post was friendly--I was just going to make the note that we're also ALL immigrants, another thing that keeps getting left out of this discussion. Irish Need Not Apply, for instance, came around when the *other* European groups thought the *Irish* were substandard and didn't deserve to pursue the "American Dream" and shouldn't be allowed to take *their* jobs. So the Irish worked. . .building. . railroads. And got sent off to war. With the exploited Chinese and Black and Hispanic populace. Which I'm sure the English and German and Italian families who'd been there a few generations longer and had proper work in shops and government were all clamoring to do. (Blazing Saddles: "All right, we'll give some land to the niggers and the chinks, but we don't want the Irish.. . .")

I should've probably saved it for here, and posted a proper entry. But, eh.

I don't know that my brain's in that kind of space. I'm torn between posting my half finished fanfic smut (which I intend to do over here, at my 'commenting' journal if I do, which I've been using way more than I intended, already [EDIT: Four fics are now posted, one X-Men, two Farscape, and a hockey fic]) and talking about my brother. Which I'd do here.

Lucky you, huh?


My brother's going to be hospitalized. Institutionalized. Here, I think (though that's only just about the half of it). Until he "gets better." 3 weeks? 4, 5, maybe 6. . .

I guess we'll see.

So. Um. We don't know if visiting is going to be allowed. Or how soon it'll start. Anything, really.

All I know is UCLA. And that it's important, and they think it's necessary.

So I'm a little scared, you know?

Wednesday, April 5, 2006

Mushrooms. A little chocolate. And some black beans and rice.

Christ, food never tasted so good.

So. Now would be the two day mark, but I was foaming (! What the fuck, reflux?) so I gave up a handful of hours ago and eased myself into some gentle food. I'll eat well (mostly) tomorrow and then have another clean day. Without as much spearmint-loaded tea, this time, I think.

I feel strange! I've teetered between feeling quite good--quite a lot better, really--and feeling vulnerable. But I suppose that makes sense. At least I haven't taken down my previous entry, yet. That's been a bit of a battle. Hopefully I'll manage to not back off?

I'm realizing increasingly how freaking lucky I am. I know and love and am loved by some very beautiful, special, fantastic people. Thank you.

But, in lighter, fluffier news (and because my blog, apparently, follows a pattern of back and forth between grave and absolutely fluffy--I just noticed this, today), I discovered that Piotr (the Purple Piggy, down the page) jumps when you click him only until you've clicked him a lot and rapidly, at which point he does something incredibly cute. (This thing is what the spraybottle is for--I'd had no idea.) Go see! Click him silly, then use the spraybottle, and then feed him an apple and tell him what a cute piggy he is. It's good for your health.

Love you.

Monday, April 3, 2006

What my insides look like, right now. (Not fluff, and not what I expected to be writing when I sat down.)

So. I'm fasting.

We're still in the toddler stages, yet. I had a couple of chocolate covered marshmallow eggs before midnight, last night, and it's 3 pm now. I've had a little veggie broth, a couple rounds of "detox" tea (Yogi Tea's version), and a couple sips of juice and coffee, and I'm about to start into some Jasmine green tea. So it's a modified juice fast. No food, though I had to write myself a note to remember. I've applied more food to my body than usual, though (homemade oatmeal brown sugar scrubs, milk/oatmeal/honey bath, and so forth). I almost forgot and nibbled at parts of that stuff, but otherwise I've behaved. I may go through Thursday (starting back on food Friday morning), which would be four and a half days, or I may just go until Wednesday morning (two and a half), and share some (small, gentle) meals with Chris before going back on fast with him, for Thursday. I'm going to see how I'm doing Wednesday before deciding, I think!

So. Why?

I just haven't been feeling up to snuff, mostly. My last fast was a flop (changed my mind) and I haven't had one proper in at least a few years, and I do think they have a good place in health. Especially when one isn't doing so well. I had some fast food and restaurant food over the weekend (as is often the case when visiting Mama), and that never leaves me feeling quite right. And mostly I've had issues with dwelling, lately. Feeling very emotionally clogged and sluggish and irritable; a good physical cleaning of the innards will help me with the less tangible stuff. (The food on body stuff is part of the same thing, really; cleaning my body thoroughly and well.)

See, it's getting on towards two years that I've been here, together, with Chris, and they've been beautiful. That means, though, also, that it's been on towards two years since I broke up with my ex (simultaneous events), followed by many months and later spurts of unpleasantness, none of which was beautiful. I fall in and out of dwelling and depression and anger about the lot of it with some frequency, but it was much, much better for a good while, there. There's just been a sort of upsurge, lately. It's been two years for some of it, seven years for some of it, a few months for some of it. But it's been long enough that I feel like I shouldn't still be upset, you know? I can still feel weird about my dad, sometimes, 8 and a half years later, because that was my dad dying, but a breakup (etc)? It doesn't seem right.

Part of it's the weather. There's been a lot of gloom and grey, which I love, but sometimes it does things to me. Being one of the many sufferers of depression and anxiety, I also just get to deal with periods like this, due to my wiring. Plus tumult related to graduating, figuring things out, etc. And, I think part of it's because of all the pretty awful things my lady friends have been going through lately (or that I'm learning about them having gone through). Some of it looks really familiar, and maybe that's part of what's keeping this shit in mind. Some of it just feeds the feeling or shakes my good feelings about the world. And then I just remember the things that have happened on their own, for no good reason, and can't seem to shake them.

Most of you have heard all about this stuff, I think, but maybe it'll do me good to write a little of it down in the open.

When I left my ex-, it was a big surprise to everyone. One of the things she said to me was, "But please don't tell everyone what a bad girlfriend I was," advising that she wasn't down with talking shit on one another after a breakup. She was crying! She was professing more emotion and care for me than she had in the previous few years combined, she was saying she understood and still loved me. So I, crying, said that I wouldn't. And I didn't.

She did not follow the same rules. She at least only had the material of my leaving, though that got used for all it was worth, by her and our formerly mutual friends and so forth--building it into assumptions that if I could leave like that, I must have been lying about loving, about caring in the first place, etc. Handy for disparaging someone who's been good and nice and sweet. Because frankly, I was a good girlfriend, a good friend. Fed into the codependent tendencies, clung, etc, but I wasn't cruel, I wasn't unaffectionate, I did what I could for her and with her and didn't hit her with the car when she asked me to. I was friendly, I was warm, I was loving. I dragged her through school. And when I left, I didn't admit how miserable I had been, and I didn't admit that a lot of the reason I left so abruptly was that I had been afraid of her, and that I didn't think she loved me--or even liked me--anymore, and so wouldn't care except to be mad. Because I didn't want her to feel worse about it than she already did, being left, once I realized she did care, some. I didn't admit that the way she'd treated me for most of the 5 years we were together was horrid, and the main reason I was leaving. I didn't say what I meant, when I told her I had to go because I was in love, which was really, "I'm not leaving you for him--I'm leaving you because I have to get the fuck out, and he's just finally made me realize it, made me realize I deserve to be happy and not miserable, made me realize I deserve to be treated with some fucking human respect, which is not how it is, here." I didn't bring up the time a year or two earlier that she had slapped me for defending her to my mother, or that I'd thought honestly about leaving then. I didn't admit that, once, because I couldn't really handle it anymore, and was so desperate for an out, that I left her alone to the bath without checking on her, so that if she really wanted to kill herself there (I'd just pulled a bag off of her head a few days before, though I think she was probably shitting around rather than being serious), she wouldn't be stopped by my accidentally catching her part way, or be in an easily recoverable state (which is, I think, the most foul, disgusting, weak thing I've ever had go through my head). I didn't tell her that I thought a car crash that killed one of us or a terminal disease held some appeal. I didn't tell her that I stabbed myself with sewing needles and leaned my throat into hard things until I was dizzy from the asphyxiation, towards the end of the relationship. I said I was sorry, that I'd been unfair, putting it to her so quickly, and that I should have known better than to think she wouldn't be so upset as she was. I should've trusted her more.

That's the first time I've put any of that in print with the intention of putting it up where it could be seen.

Because it didn't seem fair, you know?

I didn't send the emails and letters I wrote in fury and plain desperation to be understood. I didn't post on the old journal--ever again, in fact! I didn't post on LiveJournal at all, in case of searches for me, in case of discomfort. I didn't even post anonymously, or make a new journal, or make phone calls, or tell people who might still want to be around my ex-, since it might be uncomfortable. I didn't tell her to be better to her new girlfriend than she was to me. I switched accounts to post my poetry, and didn't submit the stuff about leaving her to the creative writing rag, at school, even though it was good. Nothing like that. Even if I was being trash-talked. Even if the things I had done and I had said were being posted up publicly and misinterpreted wildly until I was the clear villain. I knew and know it wouldn't make a difference in the way anyone thought about me, it wouldn't change anyone's mind, it wouldn't get back any of the friends I lost. And it didn't take long for me to lose all fucking interest in getting them back. I'd lied and said it was okay if they felt they had to stop speaking to me for leaving my poor, unoffending ex- the way I did. And I believed it for a moment, but then I stopped. The few people who went the route of, "I don't know if I can forgive you for what you did, but I understand and still want to be friends," who all either ceased contact entirely or only answered when I asked them direct questions, I eventually stopped addressing, because I was sick of it, and it wasn't fair, and it was pretty clear they wouldn't be too broken up about it. And I actually broke off a friendship myself. Admittedly, one I had thought had gone the way of the others. Another thing I was trashed for. But I was sick of being talked about behind my back and told love to my face. I think that's fair. I stopped missing them all. I got much closer to the people who were still there. I realized how lucky I was to have them. I felt more love for them. I've gotten angrier and more peaceful and then angrier again about the rest.

So. I know people were hurt. By me. And I do feel bad that anyone's gone through grief on my account. Sometimes I even feel bad that I let them get away without hearing/seeing any of this, since I think it's probably not good for them on some kind of spiritual level, before I remind myself that it would be left unbelieved and viewed as an act of desperation or pettiness at worst, and just make people uncomfortable to know at best. And maybe it would be petty, especially now. It would've been mean, then. I want to let it lie, I want to let it be dead and done and through with. I don't want stray emails about it, I don't want to be roused in anyone's memory, as I don't want them roused in mine. But in my moments of greatest clarity, where I try to be fair to myself as well as to others, I think my actions were understandable. And that while I could've tried to avoid the situation getting to where it was, there wasn't a better thing to do once it was that fucking quagmire that it became.

And I've still got it. I still carry it. The breakup, the abandonment, the uncertainty, the mass of hmming and hahing from those who hadn't quite decided whether or not I was too scummy to be involved with and lied about it to me, and the whole mess of a relationship that preceded the lot. I hear about a girl who trashed on me, and I fume. I remember being slapped, and I relive the insult and the hurt and am amazed (and upset) that I could have excused it then (she must've been very insulted and hurt, herself, after all, by my repeating what she'd told me in confidence about being upset [which I did in my attempts to fix what had made her upset][not that she hadn't done the same to me, chiding me to grow a spine and stand up for myself], if it was enough to make her slap me. . . "Make her slap me"--Is that a little sick? Isn't that a little too abused wife? I think it is). I only just told my mother and a few of my dearest friends about the slap, within the last two weeks. It's been eating at me. "Oh my God, that's so fucked up," "Why didn't you leave then?" "If I'd've known, I'd've come cut you out of there, even if you didn't want to go," "WHAT? Oh, no, I'm sorry, you'd've had your bags packed, if I'd known. . ." It's a comforting if stark change from, "Well, I guess if you say you weren't happy you weren't happy, but I don't know if I can forgive you for going that way. . . "

So. There's been a certain amount of bitterness recirculating through my veins. It feels toxic. But I feel a little bled, now, to have written it down. I'm finally going back on my assurance, but I don't think anyone involved is reading. And, you know, they'd have to be looking for it, if they were. So I'm sorry if someone's upset by reading this, but it's a matter of preserving my health. And I think this should probably exist somewhere outside of the clamoring in my skull that results from my thinking about it all and not writing it down, anyway, as long as I've avoided it.

I feel a little better.

On with the fast.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Mama Misses Me.

Over Spring break, we're going Back East. Or Up North. Or Back Up North East, you might say. There's a conference there near enough to a city we very much want to visit that it's only a rental car away, and thus a good option.

This means, however, that Spring Break will not be spent in the traditional way--that is, going Down South (at least, down South relative to here, Out West, which is to say, going to Los Angeles/Long Beach from Turlock) to spend it with my mother. Who still makes us freaking Easter Baskets stuffed with candy (she even made one for Chris, last time!), and thank goodness for it. I don't know what I'd do without baskets of candy. NEED BASKETS OF CANDY. NEED.

So, since we are going Back Up NorthEast, rather than going Out Down SouthWest for break, there needs to be an occasion to go Down South. Out a-little-bit-West, you understand. In brief, to follow the homing beacon back to the Bay--the South Bay, we call the area, in fact, in Southern California. I'd never heard of no Northern Californian "South Bay." So fuck you, San Jose. We've got dibs.

So. We need to find a time to get Down South, Out West, to the SoCal South Bay area (which is not the "NorCal"--and I cannot stand the phrase NorCal, by the way, folks; SoCal has a ring and a snap, whereas NorCal sounds like a branch of the food and drug administration [and I don't ever want to see/hear "CenCal" again in my life]--South Bay). To see Mama. Because Mama misses me, and I miss her.

So when to go Down South, Out West, to the SoCal-not-Northern-Californian South Bay area, to see Mama, who misses me, and my little brother who is not so little, anymore, and in fact is quite a lot taller than me, and even a little taller than Chris, and just a smidge taller than my father was at his height? (And it would have been my father's birthday, today; he'd have been 61, rest him.)

In a week and a half, that's when. For a weekend trip, the likes of which we've made a lot more frequently this year than last. And we're going to see a goddamn live hockey game, in the Long Beach Arena, between the ECHL hotstuff, the Long Beach Ice Dogs (who are the affiliates of the Hamilton Bulldogs and thus of the Montreal Canadiens Up North and Back East) who were local to me all my life, and the now-local to me--that is to say, local to the Turlock area, which is to say, located 45 miles North of here, but they're closest--Stockton Thunder, from the bottom of the league (who are the affiliates of the Pheonix Coyotes who are Back East from here but Out West from most places). Pure serendipity put a three day weekend for Cesar Chavez day coinciding with a quiet enough time to be able to go Out Down South West to see Mama, who misses me, and my little brother who is not so little any more, and whom I also miss, and with a game between my once local Ice Dogs from Down South at the top of the league and the now local Stockton Thunder from Up North at the bottom, and have them playing in the SoCal-not-NorCal-South-Bay-area.


Friday, March 17, 2006

The Recipe for The Feast

Because, however grandiose and grave I get, it still celebrates as a food holiday, here.

The Byerly recipe--at least, my version of it--for the St. Patrick's Day Almost Traditional Irish Dinner.

Glazed Corned Beef with Buttered Cabbage, Potatoes, and Mushrooms

You want:

Corned Beef Brisket or Round (usu. 2-3 lbs, handily packaged)

For glaze:
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 tbsp prepared mustard (with seeds is good)
1 tsp. honey

Several smallish white potatoes
One green cabbage
Several whole mushrooms--white, crimini/baby bella, any button-type.
About a half a stick (4 tbsp) of butter
About 1 tbsp parsley (dried is fine)

Big pot or dutch oven
Roasting pan
Small pan (or cup, if microwaving)
Good strong fork or tongs (for lifting the brisket from hot water)
Optional table knife or rubber scraper/froster

So, you get yourself a corned beef brisket/round. Cut the layer of fat right off, and any pieces of fat you can get to. (If you don't, it'll float, and get tough on the sides that are exposed!) Put the sucker in pot much larger than it is--try to keep the blood/"juices" with it, and the silly spice packs they give you are okay to add but not necessary--and cover it with water to about 2 inches above the beef. Bring it up to a simmer and cover it to cook it for roughly 45 minutes per pound (mine is 2.15 pounds, for instance, so it should go just over an hour and a half). Check on it a couple of times in the first few minutes--there will probably be foam which you should scoop off with your spoon and get rid of. It's unpleasant, you don't want it. If you threw in the spice pack, this is about the time you lose most of it with the foam (you can save it for after, though, if you want).

Wash your potatoes. Halve or quarter them into even pieces, maybe an inch and a half in any direction, but leave the skins on. (This is important because you're going to cook the hell out of them and they're too easy to have fall all apart without the skins--plus, they're good for you!) Wash your cabbage and quarter it. Wash your mushrooms and leave them whole. Mix the brown sugar and honey and mustard thoroughly until you've got a good, thick paste.

When you've got about 15 or 20 minutes left for the brisket to be simmering, toss in your potatoes with it. When the brisket's time is up, pull it out with your fork and/or tongs and let some of the water drip away, before plopping it into your roasting pan. Leave the potatoes cooking! Turn the oven on to Broil after setting the rack near if not at the top (leave enough room so that your brisket isn't touching the element, of course!) Throw the cabbage and mushrooms in with the potatoes--you want that all to cook about another 10 minutes. Glaze the brisket with whatever implement you see fit, with as much as you can get on it. Save any extra glaze.

Toss the brisket into the oven. You want the glaze to caramelize and the top to just toast a little--you only want to give it a couple of minutes. It'll depend on your oven, your brisket, and your tastes--keep an eye on it! Once it looks beautiful, haul it back out.

Let the brisket sit for a few minutes while melting your butter. Once it has melted, clarify it (skim off the white bubbly goop at the top with your Spoon). Carve the brisket into good, thick slices while waiting for the cabbage, potatoes, and mushrooms' time to be up. Once it is, you can either separate the cabbage and mushrooms out into one bowl and put the potatoes in another or just bung them all into the same, before slathering them over with your melted butter. Sprinkle the parsley over the potatoes (or the big mess, if they're all together). The leftover glaze is good for individual pieces of the brisket at the table or for a spread for sandwiches for leftovers!

If I'd remembered correctly, I'd also have got a loaf of Russian or Jewish Rye bread, pref. w/ Carroway seeds in it, warmed the bread, and let another few tablespoons of butter sit out to soften. But I did not do that, this time. So it's dark rye or sourdough for us, tonight.

I'm going to go start cooking, now. If I realize I've mistaken anything here too badly (like needing more butter!), I'll fix it. :) There's a certain amount of leeway with EVERYTHING here.

And Tada! Dinner!

Thursday, March 16, 2006

An hour and a half from 17 March 2006, California.

"Wearin' o the Green"
anonymous Irish street ballad circa 1798

Oh, Paddy, dear, an' did you hear the news that's goin' round?
The shamrock is by law forbid to grow on Irish ground!
No more St. Patrick's day we'll keep, his colour can't be seen,
For there's a cruel law agin the wearin' o' the Green!
I met wid Napper Tandy, and he took me by the hand,
And he said, "How's poor ould Ireland, and how does she stand?"
She's the most distressful country that iver yet was seen,
For they're hangin' men and women there for wearin' o' the Green.

And if the colour we must wear is England's cruel Red,
Let it remind us of the blood that Ireland has shed;
Then pull the shamrock from your hat and throw it on the sod,
And never fear, 'twill take root there, tho' under foot 'tis trod!
When law can stop the blades of grass from growin' as they grow,
And when the leaves in summer-time their colour dare not show,
Then I will change the color, too, I wear in my caubeen
And till that day, plase God, I'll stick to wearin' o' the Green.

(when published by the expatriate Dion Boucicault, it got this new verse added:)
But if at last our colour should be torn from Ireland's heart,
Her sons with shame and sorrow from the dear old isle will part;
I've heard a whisper of a country that lies beyond the sea,
Where rich and poor stand equal in the light of freedom's day.
O Erin, must we leave you, driven by a tyrant's hand?
Must we ask a mother's blessing from a strange and distant land?
Where the cruel cross of England shall nevermore be seen
And where, please God, we'll live and die still wearin' o' the Green.

I'm not Catholic. I'm not religious. I don't have any praise for an Italian coming into Ireland and driving out Druids. But the fact that I can sing Irish songs and dance and feast and drink and wear that color head to toe, if I please, on this day, without being killed for it, is only some decades old. It is too small and too precious a thing to forget, even a few generations and a few thousand miles away. Whatever this fucked up kleptocracy has threatened, broken, taken, squashed, and undermined so far, I'm at least not being hung, yet, for proclaiming a heritage and a bearing on a charged day. But maybe it's not so far away, again, if you'll take it for a more general sense. And play it out to other cultures and to political groups, across time and over many borders. . . Too many have died, already, in defense of small freedoms and small nations from the wicked, bloated ones bent on their razing. And I am not about to fucking forget it. I am terrified and angry for days ahead, and I will thrill in this day, now, keep it to praise and mourn what has been protected and what has been lost.

Tuesday, March 7, 2006


I'm in a state of child-like wonder.

We've had a lot of gloom and rain, on and off, lately, spaced with brilliant blue skies and hybrids of the two, but this morning, I heard a great rushing, outside, and saw born an enormous downpouring.

Real rain. SoCal-style torrential downpour. Maybe I'll get to that. . . It's been too long since I've run out and gotten soaked in the rain. Let alone since going out a second time directly after, when the rain had gotten harder and the street had started to flood.

I opened up all the windows, and turned off any lights/fans that were on. The sound of the rain has filled the apartment, and the brightness of the grey-white sky is illuminating all.

I went out and danced, skipped, dashed, hopped, splashed, stood, looked, breathed, got soaked to the skin, and spun circles. I wandered through the middle of the streetway, up several apartments, and heard how different the rain sounded on the different tin roofs over the cars, higher pitched, lower pitched, shhshier or rrrrrshier, listened to the good street sound of the rain hitting the asphalt and sidewalk, watched with glee as the rain came down still harder on me and made fields of tiny explosions with every fat drop crashing into the wet ground, so fast you couldn't trace the rain to the splash. I managed to look up into the clouds, for a moment, without getting hit in the eyes, and breathed the wet air. When I got back in after that second time, I dutifully hung up my soaked clothes, rubbed at my head (heavily dripping) with a towel, and put on soft, fuzzy, warm pajamas.

I forgot to smell for the rain, but a little of the sidewalk-water smell is coming up to the window. I love that.

It's best after hot, dry spells. Sudden rain on a hotter day has the sweetest, dustiest sidewalk-water smell, and it almost steams up from the ground.

The best rain-on-metal sound was actually at the dorms, when I lived there--painted aluminum rain gutters. It's not quite like anything else. Solid metal rings out, other heavily painted things more thwep, but together, here, there's a muffled rough, sweet sound. A flute blown poorly, maybe. It was wonderful to sleep to. The tin rooves here are too big, and grooved, so the sound becomes a steady whir, you can't hear the distinct drops on them the way you can pipes, or even streets. They sing like wind, rather than water.

Hm. I was going to predict flooding, but it looks like the drains caught up as the rain has slowed down. It's persisting, though, if far, far gentler. The grey is thinning into greater fields of white, above, so the light is getting stronger.

SoCal rain:

In Turlock, traditionally, there is slow, light, steady rain. It's an agricultural heaven--you get enough to thoroughly wet, without flooding overmuch and without drought. Once in a while, you get some heavier rain or just sprinkling. However (and we have, I know, global warming to thank for this), SoCal rain patterns have started migrating up here, to add to its repertoire. Hence the flash flooding. We also got a tornado, a little ways south of here, last week. And one each in Long Beach and San Francisco last spring. 3 is not a lot for a state, in that time period, maybe, and not for a state so big, but I reiterate that this is California. We get dust devils, we don't get funnel clouds.

SoCal--specifically, the just-inland-of-Long Beach area--is coastal desert running up against marshland/swampland and chapparale, and the rain there has three basic modes. Mist, drizzle, and torrential downpour. It is almost never anywhere in between. "Mizzle" is occasional.

Drizzle is like that; like when a shower head is almost off, but has taken to running like a clogged faucet, straight down in unbroken stream, no drops to speak of. Thick, not particularly cold and not particularly hard. Misting and mizzling (mist-drizzle) are just a step above ocean fog, and feel more like you've been spritzed with an ultra-fine sprayer than rained on. Torrential downpour is the rest of the time. It means floods, mudslides, trees losing their roots, streets running over and gutters running so fast you're like to be knocked over if you step into them, because the rain is coming so fast, so hard, so driving, and in such big drops that it digs its way into everything, overwhelms every drain (most of which are inadequate for it), washes everything away.

My mother had to get a pump. Because whenever it would rain at all to speak of, the backyard would flood up into the house, despite the fact that it was raised a few inches. So in the middle of the night, she'd have to get up, slip across the tile, and start the thing. (Her dogs, of course, are too scared to go out in it, because that's the way they are, so she also had to try to deal with them not being willing to go out to answer nature's call.) Anyway.

I remember once, a long while back. . . At least 9 or 10 years, but probably more like 12 or 13, getting back up late in the evening, when it had started up that way. My parents and Zach and I, with Wolfy and Venus (the dogs before the chihuahuas, who were not quite as afraid), stood at the back of the house with the big sliding glass door open and just watched the rain. It was the heaviest I remembered seeing it, up to that point, but the amazing thing was that, as it was so late and so dark, rather than the glowing stormy sky, everything was black, and the light at the back of the house was small, just enough to shine through the pounding, driving sheets of rain and the several inches of splash coming up from the ground, from them. And make prisms and rainbows of every drop.

It was one of the most beautiful things I've ever seen.

No, this is not up to par with hurricanes, and the like, and I know that--that's something, at least, that we still don't get here--but it puts the lie to the nonsense about California only having one season and no weather. It is proper rain. It is violent rain. And this week, schizophrenic--already, the sky is glowing blue, again, and the heat from the new sun is turning the water on the rooftops into great clouds of steam that are wafting away and fading. The streets are already drying out.

I suspect that by tonight, like last night and the night before, the clouds'll be back and we'll wake up to another wet morning.

In other news: the meat has arrived. It is practically black, the color's so deep. Absolutely gorgeous.

Correction: It's only noon (an hourish later) when the rain's returned. With big grey clouds, "cov'rin up the clear blue sky"

Thursday, March 2, 2006

On Why I Am A Wonder-Widget

It has come to my attention that there is a little confusion as to why I am a Wonder Widget.

To tell the truth, I don't know, either. But there is a history. Albeit one that lasted about 6 minutes, and thus made it sound like a really good idea at the time. So here goes:

I wanted to use "A Little Wide Eyed," which is my email and longest-loved, best-loved internet thing, but for a name of myself, in a blog, it needed to be a noun instead of an adjective. So it needed to be a Wide Eyed something. Then "Wide Eyed Wonder" sounded very pretty, but it still wasn't a name. So, from there, "Wonder-_____" came along, and not being tall enough to be Wonder Woman, and having heard a lot about Chris' mighty Dashboard Widgets on his Mac OS 10.4 (Tiger, I think), I thought, "Well! Wide-eyed Wonder Widget! Genius!"

The End.

Wednesday, March 1, 2006

Sketches: Making Something Different of a Conference

I'm putting these up here, now, but they're in the Scraps section of my DevArt page with more comment, and with the snap of the page I used as a whole. Eventually I may take these down in favor of simple links (are these working, btw?).

In between penciling parts of a letter to Jala, taking notes on the talks, and generally paying attention to things which weren't quite the talks themselves, I sketched. Until Melánie's mother caught me. :)

So, without further ado. . .

Sketches of Philosophers!

The sketches of Matti and Stephen
This is supposed to be Matti (top) and Stephen (bottom).

The sketches of Kay and Chris
This is supposed to be Kay (left) and Chris (right).

The sketches of Ya-Huei, Julia, and Ayten
This is supposed to be the lovely ladies whose names I'm EDIT: no longer screwing up!--Ya-Huei (left foreground), Julia (left background), and Ayten (right).

Now aren't they all beautiful? I wish I could find proper pictures of them. I'm not thrilled with the accuracy or flattery aspects of the sketches (and usually those are pretty important in portraits--at least one or the other of them), but I can tell who I meant, and remember what they looked like. So not a total wash. I wanted to do more, and some of my favorite people from the conference I didn't get to drawing, but I don't think I could've done them well, as it is.

More about the conference:

We met this lovely lady, Stacey, who's doing research into blogging. Go visit her, damnit! She wants to know what bloggers get out of blogging, what it's like for them (the experience), why they blog, etc. Also just a very cool person, all around. We went to dinner with her and several others, that I'm getting to.

Now, the conference was a hybrid--the Society for Phenomenology and Media (SPaM) and Outis (roughly: deception). One of the others that came out with us was Randall, and Randall was good people, but in the strange position of being a government guy hoping to get info on deception, how it works, and how to get around it (in the sense of when other peoples' governments are lying to us, as opposed to our own) in a conference full of lefties more interested in deception by (you guessed it) our own goverment. Or in the case of the delightful Finns talking about it, not so much their own government, but the US gov, as well.

One of those delightful Finnish gentlemen (who came out to dinner/drinks, despite being 10 hours ahead of us, via time difference, bless him) was the lovely Aki-Mauri (whom I did not sketch, but of whom there are actual photos on the web, so it's okay). I don't know what to say about him other than that I absolutely adored him. It surprised me and also didn't, to find out he's a Major in the Finnish military. Does that make any sense? Ah, well. His paper was thoughtful and kind've heartbreaking, and he was just plain good people to hang out with. Plus, he's into hockey, so Chris and I felt less out of place caring about who was doing what in the hockey part of the Olympics.

I'm turning into an Academic-and-Union Groupie. Oi.

Anyway, the lovely, wry Kay (another paper I followed!), my lovely Chris, and I rounded out the dinner group.

The night before, however, we dined with Paul (the man who organized the conference), his wife (I think?), the lovely Melånie from Bordeaux (who like Randall and I was in something of an outsider position to doctors-of-philosophy--I followed her paper, too, though!), the lovely Stephen, and the very cool (and also lovely) Wendy and Erica, who are in the interesting position of being a couple of romantically attached hippie feminists in rural Pennsylvania. We traded war stories, as it were. They've got great senses of humor, and Wendy's paper was another that I mostly followed and also got stabbed with thinking about.

Stephen and Matti (who did not come out with us, for shame!) were absolutely wonderful to listen to. Matti brought in poetry, peppering the "trailer" of his paper (the ultra-condensed version) with it. Stephen wrote and spoke in a beautiful way, and, what's more, I think I understood most of it, which was sometimes an issue in the more technically oriented talks. They were wonderful.

Goodness, it was a blast. There was some tension, and I sometimes felt a little strange hanging on watching, but it was wonderful. It felt so good to meet so many wonderful people. And while I don't know if it's likely, I hope I'll get to come back into contact with them. I may have developed something of an idle crush, and that's too much fun to put away!