Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Scenario for dealing with people you haven't seen in a million years and aren't sure you want to be friends with, in view of modern technology

TDEC opens her mailbox. Somebody she hasn't thought about in years is wanting to be her Friend. She is wanting to ignore, not just the request, but the whole swatch of her past it reminds her of. She considers declining; but the person is inoffensive enough, and has not inflicted any harm on her. And is the past not past.

She responds affirmatively, and allows herself to gloat over trivialities for a moment. In principle she would like to be indifferent to who's ahead (meaning: has a more prestigious job/college education) and who's behind (meaning: has travelled less/has an even more pointless degree), but she can't help herself. It is on her roadmap for Being a Better Person.

Given a choice between being a little mean and being a little disingenuous...

Instead, she writes in the third person, as if she were Julius Caesar.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Socialising

The Spouse finally convinced me to join a social networking site. It turns out to be the strangest confrontation with the past - running across people you'd forgotten, and don't especially want to remember; finding your friends, like discovering they're in a secret society. Strangest of all, I find myself looking at profiles of people I hadn't forgotten at all, but somehow packed away; people I'd never thought I'd talk to again. Something to remind me that while the past is past, the people still exist, meandering along in their lives. What a bittersweet thing.

It is still raining here; this is positive in the sense that I get to wear my cloak.

Friday, October 26, 2007

It rained today as well. It was raining this morning at 6.30 am when I started for Washington DC, in the dark, and it was still raining on the way back, which took me longer than I am willing to remember. I am now only afraid of ice, snow, and LA.

While I was driving, I thought of a cool post, which now, a tutoring session later, I am too tired to write. To be honest, I was probably too tired by the time I got home. A man-from-Porlock sort of situation, only with the man from Porlock being DC traffic, and without me being a Romantic genius.

I apologise for any inconvenience caused.

Tomorrow is Friday. I am truly grateful. It will be a long day, but at the end of it there will be the weekend, the entirety of which I will spend sleeping, bathing, reading, and talking to as many people I’ve neglected as possible. If I have time left after that, I will lie on the sofa dreaming of a trip down the west coast.

Don’t let any of this convince you that this was not a good day. Apart from the driving, it was all about learning things I can use and teaching things that matter. Not a bad use of one’s Thursday.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Rain, ethics and zen


It's a rainy day in Baltimore. I love rainy days. I love the way they can calm you down, slow you down.

Just for the fun of it, let me link to another Gaydore response on a blog I keep an eye on. It has so many of my fixations in one place, and is entirely kosher.

Speaking of fixations, you will notice that I keep coming back to the same things. One of those these things is George Orwell's essay on Ghandi, specifically this quote:

"The essence of being human is that one does not seek perfection, that one is sometimes willing to commit sins for the sake of loyalty, that one does not push asceticism to the point where it makes friendly intercourse impossible, and that one is prepared in the end to be defeated and broken up by life, which is the inevitable price of fastening one's love upon other human individuals."

You know, I've probably quoted it before. I think I mentioned that I am in a Voluntary Simplicity group, and the thoughts of people there bring me back to the dilemma implicit in the quote: when do you let go, take a step back, detach, and when do you hang on for dear life? What matters in your life? What drives you*? What makes you happy**? What is worth spending your time on?
I know; my heart is in the right place. What matters is my spouse, family, friends (not necessarily in that order). Also: using my brain and being creative. Being socially useful. So how do I live by that? Where do I find the time.

Orwell is an interesting figure. He is so unlike the other writers I admire - homophobic, fanatic. Also: fiercely political, ethical, active. I respect him more than perhaps any writer for writing things that were right, rather than well-written. I respect him for having the courage of his opinions. I respect him for fighting on the best side of the Spanish Civil War (which didn't really have a good side). Reading his work has changed a good many of my attitudes, my ideas, my concept of what matters.

I still like pretty shoes though.

*Desire, enthusiasm, sheer silliness
**The Goldberg Variations, loved ones, good food, dramatic coats, quiet time, a good discussion, a good book or play, autumn leaves, the sound of rain on the window, Snapecast,...

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Stuff


Ok, I know. I have been less than consistent lately. Rather, I have been less than present lately, in spite of the fact that I have purchased more shoes and had more adventures. I have spent hours being paid to be nice to old people, and will spend considerable time this week being paid to drive through rush hour DC traffic; my personal version of hell as a new driver. I resolved last week to meditate every day, just ten minutes or so. In retrospect that seems the height of optimism.

I will remind myself of Julia Cameron and mention that sometimes it is all about just showing up and putting in the work, no glory or glamour. Which is not to say that I have been writing, because I haven't, being entirely unsure of the usefulness of such an undertaking.

Achievement of the day, then, is showing up this morning, no mean feat. On the plus side, I got to see the Pacific for my trouble. And you know what? That makes it all worthwhile.

Monday, October 22, 2007

The things that happen when you look away for even a second (Deathly Hallows Spoilers!!!!)

Blimey. Dumbledore is gay? Like the whole Harry-is-a-horcrux thing, which seemed like a crackpot idea from overactive minds at first, it has turned out to be canon. I was glad to hear it, really, the series desperately needed some filling in when it comes to the emotional lives of the Hogwarts staff, but I admit this one blindsided me. A previous version of the article mildly states that "explicit scenes with Dumbledore already have appeared in fan fiction". One does wonder who it is who is writing these explicit scenes. I can't say I want to read them, but hey, whatever floats people's proverbial boats.

Anyway, it is nice to hear some interesting comments out of JKR; I had rather taken to ignoring her after all the mean/soppy stuff she said about Snape. In line with my getting at real life through blogs, I found the story on Telanu's blog, see dodgy link in sidebar, relevant warnings apply.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Endings

I have been reading furiously lately, and it occurs to me that endings are the hardest part to write. Which reminds me that I need to get writing again, or should at least re-work my latest thing, but well, soon...

Anyway, fiction endings are difficult. Tragic endings are a good thing sometimes, and if you can steer clear of too much sentiment, or are really good at it, then it works like nothing else, and is not too impossible to write. Examples: The Last of the Mohicans, my favourite tragic book. Also Happiness, the movie, although perhaps "incredibly depressing" is more apt than tragic. The Time Traveller's Wife is another straight, gut-wrenching ending. Oh, and Under the Volcano. Oh heavens, the thought of it alone; though it is a tragedy/redemption ending, really.One more! JD Salinger's short story "A perfect day for bananafish"; this story is also possible the best short story I've read. If you haven't read it, please do. It's short. Seriously, you need to read it.

Then there are the neither-here-nor-there ending, the ambiguous, tantalising endings. Unfinished, unclear endings are, in my book, the easiest to write and the hardest to read. The have great effect, but are quite...unfulfilling. Of course; that being the point. I respect them most when the author has resisted the temptation to give a story an obvious ending. Examples...hmmm...probably Ulysses. James Joyce's. It sort of smells like a happy ending, but it's Joyce, and you never quite get what you get. I like that. Beckett, of course, Beckett. Master of the neither-here-nor-there in every part of the story. Anything by him, most famously Waiting for Godot. Gone with the Wind, too, does a pretty good job, even if it is far, far too long.

But the hardest endings to write are the happy ones. Well, not really. It is hard, though, to write a good, satisfying, non-cloying happy ending. I still find them most satisfying to read, predictably, but they are hard to come by. Jane Austen is mistress of the art, she writes her whole story for the ending. She does the sentiment well, most of the time. She does make you want it so, and then gives you just what you want. That's good. Particularly in Persuasion. Sadly, it turns out that JK Rowling cannot write a happy ending well; and can't even leave much to the reader's imagination. That, however, is neither here nor there.

Anyway, I have to run. Perhaps more later.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Still no

It is the end of a long day, and I have done a lot, and I don't particularly feel like talking about any of it. My head is swimming; all in all, things are good, though with little enough time to enjoy it.

Well - a silly note then. This weekend I bought a skirt suit that looks remarkably like a Star Trek uniform. It is at the dry cleaners now, but look forward tremendously to wearing it at work with a glint in my eye. It'll carry me through hours of employment related stress. Especially since I have also acquired a cloak. A green one. Kind of like the elves wear in Lord of the Rings.

*throws back head and laughs demonically*

Yes. I'll wear it with my wizard sleeve-equivalent shoes.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

I know


The blogging has been sporadic this week. What can I say? Things are sub-optimal. Time for some more tea.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Meds


When I visited the US for the second time, I had random allergies. Someone gave me American allergy stuff and that was the end of the allergies. Rather unfortunately, it was also the end of sleep for the next couple of days, which I spent feeling like I had accidentally taken something rather stronger and less benevolent than an antihistamine. Many more things are available over the counter in the US than in Europe; moreover, different medication is used. I was reminded of this this morning when I realised why I hadn't slept last night, at least not until I had resorted to means usually reserved for the direst emergencies. If you wonder who reads medication monographs, well, I do. All of them. I remembered then that one of the potential side effects of the medication I'd been given yesterday morning was insomnia. By this afternoon it had finally clicked in my head that the last time I felt this jittery and spaced out was that time on holiday in Florida. Pseudoephedrine being the common ingredient. I guess people here build up a tolerance to it, Sudafed-guzzling lot that they are; but my European bod is used to milder things, and pseudoephedrine's chemical resemblance to amphetamine is pretty tangible to me. Jitters, high bloodpressure, loss of appetite, dizziness. Charming. Who needs illegal drugs when there's 24 hour Sudafed?

Belated

When I have a lot of work I really need to do, I sometimes work really hard and just get it all over with in a flash. However the task at hand is a slow, time-consuming one, and so I am having a hard time not procrastinating, especially since I am frustrated about not getting something important I needed to do over lunch done, I am frustrated that I am continually tired in spite of sleeping the required number of hours, and I am frustrated because I can't just get on with this task. As such I am writing this to perhaps be posted later. Anyway.

So I visit the usual blogs, get lost on a few of the LiveJournals. I visit them feeling like a voyeur, since I don't participate, just watch.
They refer to it as RL, Real Life. Things like that never fail to make me smile. RL indeed - mostly referred to as a barrier to blogging, or writing. RL can be troublesome, though it does involve dinner and a show, during which I will most likely fall asleep, considering my recent narcoleptic tendencies. It also includes puppets, albeit marginally, in the form of Labyrinth, which I watched yesterday.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Football, movies, such things

From a niceish coffeebar, we bring you your weekend post. I just finished a piece of work and am waiting for the Spouse to finish his. It is Sunday evening, another weekend gone heaven knows where, gone to watching football (actually, talking to people watching football), puzzling and watching Hot Fuzz, which by the by is really good, though towards the end it starts to resemble Shaun of the Dead to an alarming extent. They do rather literally bring an axe to the myth of the English countryside. All the same, it makes me miss England for a minute. Then I remember the terrible service, the terrible food, the idiotic drinking; and I decide I can put up with the US, particularly on a glorious autumn day.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Clothes and food


Somebody has the best jacket in the world and it is not me. I resent this. Oh. Meryl Streep. Empf. Anyway, I just saw The Devil Wears Prada twice, partly through coincidence (cheap impulse buy on a daytrip), partly through bizarre overlaps between it and Snape fandom that you really don't want to know about. Rather than resulting in my pondering Meryl Streep's attractiveness -not to be sneezed at-, which is apparently a popular pursuit, it has led to my being endlessly fascinated by all the beautiful clothes - not usually my thing - and by the opening track, KT Tunstall's Suddenly I See.

On another topic, what is up with anthropomorphic food? Seriously, the smiling pigs and crustaceans, it puts me off food altogether. Dancing carrots. This morning in traffic I passed a truck that had a lobster, a cow and a chicken arm in arm. As in "look, your food, it's happy! Now let's kill it!"

Yuck. No wonder I have to escape into fashion.

Friday, October 05, 2007

To do

Over the next few months things are going to be fairly busy. Both the Spouse and I have miscellaneous work commitments and trips, as well as some personal travel (yay! Thanksgiving and Practicing Idealist/Drek's wedding). Moreover that weekday calendar that I am used to being fairly empty is steadily filling up with all sorts of random stuff - theatre, writing, tutoring, voluntary simplicity discussion things. And I'd love to take up dancing as well.

The lazy part of me, which is considerable, is appalled. But my sociable, image oriented self is pleased.

Also, can I just mention that this man Yeats isn't half bad?

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Free

"Dance…even if you have nowhere to do it but in your own living room. Read the directions, even if you don’t follow them."
one of my usual quotes...

Dancing is a another form of oblivion I indulge in - privately, secretively. It's good to forget yourself and remember your body.

Today I spent my work day in front of a bunch of missiles. Strange, the things one does in the line of duty, really. In my time as a civilian, I listen to Snapecast. It makes things better.


Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Sleep



Tonight, I just want to sleep. I wish you much of the same.

I had some point to make, but my mum just went home, and the Spouse got back, and I'm tired.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Humanity

Humanity has not ceased to baffle me. At work, my nemesis has recently decided that, not only do I actually exist, but I am worthy of the human niceties. Two of the people that I would consider somewhere near my wavelength, on the other hand, have been acting strangely, brushing me off in the oddest (and funniest) manner; then complimenting my shoes a few days later as if nothing happened. Of course, my shoes are gorgeous and one may not be able to resist complimenting me on them. Behold the power of the shoe.