09 September 2017 @ 10:46 am
The Leftovers  
Who among us has seen the HBO show The Leftovers? My friend, M, got me hooked - or rather, she wouldn't stop talking about the show, and introduced me to the achingly lovely score, and then earlier in the week I figured hey, why not watch the pilot and see how it is? And now it's ten episodes later and I am hooked.

If you haven't seen the show, the premise is that, without warning, 2% of the world's population disappears one October 14th. The show picks up the story three years later as everyone's still grappling with their loss. (The premise might sound sort of like the rapture, but it's not - it's never handled as that in the show, and ultimately you get the suggestion of other reasons why people disappeared.) The main protagonist is Kevin Garvey, the chief of police in a small, upstate NY town. He appears not to have lost anyone in the event, but he loses everyone just the same. His wife is in a cult-like group in town. His son is with a charismatic religious figure in the southwest. His daughter is deeply fucked up and remote. His dad is committed to a psychiatric hospital.

And then there's Matt, a local preacher, who lost one version of his wife, Mary. And Nora, who lost her husband and two children in the event. There's Patti, who's in charge of the cult, and Meg, who wants to join, and the town's mayor, Lucy, who is trying to chart a path through increasingly turbulent waters.

It's a slow burn of a show - I wasn't bowled over by it, but rather won over by it. Every episode the writers would drop a nugget of information about a character and I'd realize that meant X or Y, and then have to keep watching to see how that impacted everyone else, and before you knew it, it was episode ten and every, damn, thing in the show tied together. It was gorgeous.

Fair warning - in the first couple of episodes, as well as episode seven or eight, a dog (or dogs) are shot. If that's a deal-breaker, this wouldn't be the show for you. There's also some pretty graphic violence.

If you've seen it, talk to me about it!
03 September 2017 @ 06:12 pm
For my birthday, [profile] siriaeve wrote me the most delightful domestic Steve Rogers/Sam Wilson fic, and everyone should go read it! Sam is wry and funny and Steve is completely out of his depth, and oh, it's just delicious.

03 September 2017 @ 12:00 pm
My weekend at the barn  

This morning I woke up to a late-summer silence in the loft of a timber-frame barn. I’d slept overnight in a lush double bed, heavy with quilts, the windows open to let in the overnight chill and, as it happened, the call of coyotes. I was up before my friends, so I padded downstairs (the steps to the loft are narrow and steep) and set the coffee brewing while I soaked up the view – pastures and corn as far as the eye could see, a cow barn, the gravel path that led back toward town.

a converted barn

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29 August 2017 @ 06:16 pm
I got triggered in Sunday. I have no idea by what. I simply felt my elbows start to ache and burn and realized, okay, there was a trigger tucked away in this day somewhere.

Yesterday I drove to my doctor's office, an hour away, and dissociated on the drive. That is, by far, my least favorite kind of dissociation (as if there's a good kind?), but I was able to beat it back by singing along with my iPod, loudly and badly. And then this morning it happened again, and I ended up coming home from work because I needed space and solitude. I slept for a while, which did help, but the I had to finish a project that absolutely had to be done today, so I sat at my dining room table in my PJs and got it done.


My brain feels slow and tired, and I feel slow and tired, and I'm cranky and impatient and having enormous difficulty contemplating going back to work tomorrow. I'm doing all the taking-care-of things I can think to do, but I think what I actually need is a vacation. I get a mini one on Friday and Saturday in anticipation of my birthday (on Sunday) and that will be wonderful. But I'm still stuck here in the quagmire of Tuesday right now.

Today I actively resent my PTSD. I don't want to feel this way, and I know my brain is trying in its own maladjusted way to help me, but it's not.

Anyway. Time to put on some candles for good smells, make tea, apply lotion, give myself some quiet, do all the things I've been doing some more. And wait for this to pass.
27 August 2017 @ 07:12 am
My birthday is one week from today, so I'm going to try to make this week a week of reflection. What's working for me? What's not? Where and when am I tired, or feeling overloaded? What can I do to change that? I want to go into my birthday with a clear sense of where I'm at and how I can best care for myself to make this coming year the best it can be.

My therapist told me that she tries to do something good for herself once an hour. This might be as small a thing as drinking a glass of water, or walking around the building to get blood flowing, but I love the idea of self-care not just being something we do when we've hit a wall, but something we build mindfully into our whole day. Water is a big one for me - the past few days I haven't drunk enough of it and really noticed. And I think I could easily make sure I walk 250 steps every hour. And doing my exercises for my ankle is another thing I can do wherever I am - yesterday, while checking in participants to the big program I've been working on, I would stand around when idle and go up and down on my toes, which is a great strengthening exercise.

Anyway, all this by way of saying - I want to be mindful and intentional about the trajectory my life is on, and reflecting this week will be part of it. Reading this [On Being post] about money and breaking and rebuilding is a good start.

Yesterday went well (except for me going home early because I felt overwhelmed and exhausted - see "not drinking enough water" and not caring for myself, above). All our participants checked in, and we celebrated them and distributed t-shirts and water bottles (see, we thought about *other* people drinking enough water :) ) and got people settled. Today's their first activity, out on the prairie, and I hope they have fun. I have some responsibilities today, but not until 4pm, so I can have a leisurely day until then.

I made myself a whole pot of tea this morning, and it's cool and calm outside. I'm going to put all fresh bed linens on my bed, and treat myself to a long, luxurious shower. I'm going to empty the dishwasher and refill it, and I'm going to do some organizing around my house. I have a bit of laundry to do, and a bit of work to catch up on, but I think today could be lovely.

Wishing you lovely days, too!
25 August 2017 @ 07:10 am
Oh, and a quick update on G's dad: turns out that he was hit by a semi. qlkjhsdlfkhqsdf. He had bleeding on the brain and in his lungs, one of which was punctured, but seems to have escaped other organ damage. His ribs are broken, but nothing else. The doctors brought him out of the coma to try and do mental health tests, but he was clearly in a lot of pain, so they induced the coma again. He was able to respond to questions by squeezing someone's hand, though, and moved his eyes to acknowledge his name. All good signs. Thank you for all your warm thoughts, energy, and prayers.
25 August 2017 @ 06:58 am
I've spent the last two days training people for the big project that begins tomorrow, when we welcome participants to town. And yesterday, at about 2pm, I remembered - oh, right. I can't do full days of being "on". This summer I've been able to vary my work between home and my office, see people and make appointments during the day, approach things from different vantage points as well as in different spaces, and I haven't had to be "on" very much at all (in fact only when I went to conferences). But the past two days I've been the facilitator, and at 2pm yesterday I was spent. Which reminded me that during 2/3 of the year, that's my pattern - at work by 8, completely unable to function by 2. I came home yesterday and slept for three hours.

So today I'm looking to drink more water, give people (and myself) more breaks, eat some snacks, and try and wrap up by 2pm. And then nap :D

I work with a population that includes people who go hungry, and while there are structural things that I can push for and contribute to (and am doing), my friends all crowdsourced a HUGE pile of snacks for me to keep in my office and hand out whenever needed. I have pretzels and fruit snacks (which are vegan), gluten-free granola bars, protein bars, goldfish crackers, chips, chocolate, fruity candy, and regular granola bars. All I'll need to do is pick up some apples and oranges each week. People's generosity has been mind-blowing, and I'm so grateful. What a wonderful thing.

It's a beautiful morning here, raining softly (and we need the rain), and so cool I had to put on my robe over my PJs. DELIGHTFUL. We have several more days of this in the hopper, and I'm so excited. Burrowing under my duvet to sleep is one of my favorite things ever, and I can leave all the windows open overnight and sleep beautifully.

And then, weirdly, my body woke me up at 5.50am and was all, it's time now. I could have slept longer, body, but okay, you do you :D

Did you see James Cameron's comments [about Wonder Woman yesterday]? It struck me as a very white man thing to do, to tell legions of women that they don't know what they feel, and that WW is regressive. In the immortal words of Sam Wilson, "Shut up, man."
22 August 2017 @ 09:03 am
My close friend, G (who has been featured in these pages a lot), just flew out to Washington state to be with her family. Her father had a stroke last night while riding his motorcycle, and was in a serious accident. He's now in an induced coma while they work out the scale of his injuries and the necessary treatment. Things are touch and go.

If you are the good thoughts/energy/praying sort, if you could direct them toward G and her family, it would be so much appreciated. G is Jewish, so a special thank you to all my Jewish friends and their communities.

Thanks, my loves. ♥
21 August 2017 @ 08:17 am
I watched an episode of Hawaii Five-0 on Friday evening for want of anything else to do. I haven't watched the show in a couple of years because its traffic in stereotypes and jingoism just made it too hard to watch, but Friday I figured I'd give it a go.

Holy moley, it's still the gayest show on TV that thinks it's not gay at all.

Steve and Danny's storyline was the B-plot (or was the case the B-plot? Hard to say). It was Valetine's Day weekend, and Steve and his girlfriend were headed to a hotel to spend a romantic weekend together. Steve cracks open a beer and wanders onto the hotel balcony . . . and discovers Danny already drinking a beer on the next balcony over.

Danny stares at him for a long time and says, "Why?"


Ends up Danny and Steve's gfs have decided they all need to hang out together, so they got adjoining rooms at the hotel. Danny is particularly perturbed by this as he doesn't think his romantic game is strong and it'll be particularly hard with Steve there with his "judgey" face. So they bicker and then have a conversation about . . . safe words. I kid you not.


The rest of the S/D storyline includes:

* Everyone playing volleyball (not gay, right? Their gfs are there!) . . . to the Kenny Loggins song that played during the volleyball scene in Top Gun (aka THE GAYEST)

* Steve and Danny going out for a swim together and wading back from the water together

* Steve and Danny breaking and entering into someone's hotel room in search of Danny's sunglasses

* Steve and Danny having facials in the spa. The camera eventually widens to show the gfs are there, but then Danny decides he can't stand spa-ing a moment longer and leaves, and Steve goes after him to check he's okay.

* A romantic dinner on the beach for the four of them, but Steve and Danny sit beside each other, and Steve throws his arm around Danny and caresses his ear.

I just . . . are the writers trying to send a message? Do they all have secret RL crushes on their friends? Who puts the volleyball music from Top Gun to a scene where Steve and Danny (or for that matter their gfs) are playing a game and thinks "that will read straight"?

I am so looking into the camera like Ben Wyatt right now.

My day has gone a bit cockammie. I was supposed to see my psychiatrist at 9.20 but there are storms the whole way between there and here (an hours drive) and I just cannot. So now I have to squeeze it in next week between various work things. Fun! It frees up some time for me to do other things, but I'm so flummoxed by the order of my day being thrown out of whack that I don't exactly know what other things I want to do. Brains.

A program I've been working on all summer starts up this Wednesday with training days for everyone involved, and then our participants arrive on Saturday. I usually look forward to the participants arriving, but I am so utterly over this program after working on it the past three months that I feel no anticipation. It was supposed to be a program run by me and one of my bosses, but then she left, and everyone assumed I would just pick up the slack. But it is a two-person job, and there is only one of me, so I am left very tired, frustrated, and out of fucks for the whole thing. It'll get done, but oy. I have an email in to my other boss about extra compensation for all my work, so I hope they come through on that.

I guess I'm feeling frustrated overall that I never got a chance to have a summer. I did some very cool things - I loved getting a glimpse of Boston; my conference in Virginia last week was amazing - but save for four hours on a Michigan beach, I've had no real time off, and no time to take time off at that. So today I'm feeling very grumpy.

Boo on that. Perhaps I should bribe myself to do work and go to the coffeeshop? That would be a fun place to be even if the work I'm doing is not fun itself. Sounds like a plan.
18 August 2017 @ 07:17 am
Helping Charlottesville kids  
A good friend of mine lives and works (as a teacher) in Charlottesville, and her school librarian has put together a list of books to help kids in the city process what's been happening. If you have a little money, please buy one of the books at the link below and help Charlottesville's kids directly!

13 August 2017 @ 08:37 am
I am back in my own home after a week away in Virginia doing work things. The workshop I was at was amazing, and has had a profound impact on the way I think about doing my job. I also got to create a bunch of stuff, mostly online, and I feel such satisfaction about all those things and how I'm going to approach my work in the future. Hurray!

Last week's accident continues to need attention - the national rental company apparently didn't pass on to the local branch of the rental company what had happened, so they're wondering where the car is. Technically not my problem - seriously, company in question, get your act together - but I'm the one getting the phone calls. I also have to provide copies of a bunch of documents to my employer tomorrow as they may be liable for the accident instead of me because I paid for the rental on a company card. Who knows.

What I do know is that not having a car between Tuesday and Friday was a terrible idea. (We only really needed a car to get back to the airport, so there was no point in renting before Friday from a practical standpoint.) I really needed to get back up on the horse before that - I was hella nervous driving on both Friday and Saturday. I was also nervous driving back from my local airport last night because it was dark and I couldn't discount the idea that I would hit something - like a deer - on the way home. My luck seems to be running that way. But it did not come to pass and I got home and went to bed and slept like a diving bell going to the bottom of the ocean. Thank goodness.

Amid all this, some incredibly kind person sent me money through my coffee button, and it was amazingly generous and lifted some of the weight of dealing with the car accident. Whomever you are online, I am so grateful to you, and thank you from the bottom of my heart for your compassion.

Yesterday, [profile] siriaeve and I carved out two hours between leaving Virginia and needing to get to the airport to go into DC and see some sights. We spent most of our time at the National Art Gallery, which I had never been in before. It was really fun, and we had excellent croissants in the cafe, and saw a medieval painting of baby Jesus in which he looked strangely like Jared Kushner. Hmmm. And we walked and walked and walked - my fitbit showed just under 16,000 steps for the day. (This is good news in that I could walk that far without my ankle giving out - it used to do so after a mile and a half before I went to PT - and while it did hurt by the end, it was an ache rather than a sharp pain. My PTs will be super glad to hear this.) It was a great day, even though the giant chicken behind the White House was gone.

Of course yesterday was a day full of the news coming out of Charlottesville - I saw some particularly graphic footage while eating some lunch in the airport. I've seen a lot of people saying that the actions of the Nazis "are not who we are as a country" - and while I recognize that as an aspirational saying, it's simply not true from a historical perspective. We have always been a white supremacist country; it has always been this bad for key segments of our population; the U.S. is founded on denying rights to others because of their race and religion. Our job is to undo what has been done, to untangle the web of white supremacy that runs through all our institutions, our cultural mores, our social conventions - to do any less is to be willfully blind to what is desperately apparent.

There are many good organizations in Charlottesville [to which you might give money] as a first response. But not everyone has money, and action takes many forms. Can I suggest asset mapping yourself? Draw a stick figure on a piece of paper, and then go around that form and list all the talents and energies you can bring to anti-racism work - your knowledge of Google apps, Excel, Word; your ability hammer things, lift things, hold signs, walk in protests, perhaps; your understanding of social justice. Then look around your own community and find organizations that can use what you have to offer. I just joined the board of my local domestic violence shelter, which may seem removed from all of this, but violence is completely bound up in the messages of toxic masculinity that come out of white supremacy and other pools of hatred. We serve about 70 families per month, and my town is very small. That's a lot of people who need to hear messages of love and welcome and to receive practical help with shelter, food, education, and an income.

We can fight this - we have to fight this. And I know from experience that you have such big hearts and minds and a commitment to upholding what is right. We can beat this. Together.
09 August 2017 @ 02:28 pm
Friends, I had another car accident yesterday. I was in a left turn lane, waiting for an opportunity to turn into a little strip mall where an Indian restaurant was allegedly located. There were two lanes of traffic going in the opposite direction, and traffic in the closest lane to me had stopped because it was backed up from a light. Someone stopped to allow clearance for me to turn and waved me through - I did not see the Honda Pilot coming up on the outside lane. It struck the back rear passenger door.

It was a slow-speed event, and the damage to my car was remarkably localized (thankfully). I'm now thigh-deep in bureaucracy - insurance, tow truck, rental company (because this happened while I was out of town at a conference). It all seems very complicated, especially because I used my company credit card to pay for the rental, which may mean the company is implicated? I'm just trying to take one thing at a time and not let my thoughts spiral into catastrophe.

[profile] siriaeve was in the car with me, and I thank my lucky stars that she was not hurt. Oof - it's hard to think that I put her in danger. But we are okay, and things will be okay, and [profile] siriaeve has been a trooper, and there are many distractions at my conference.

I would like for 2017 to QUIT now. Seriously. :(
05 August 2017 @ 05:43 pm
My niece, aged 10, had a sleepover here last night. After dinner, and shopping for new school clothes at Target, we came back here and cued up Captain America: Civil War. The movie opens, and she asks where things are happening, and I say Russia. She was all . . . Russia? And I was all, yes, look, it's 1991, Bucky is still frozen. And she says, "who's Bucky?"


So I stop the movie and quiz her on what she remembers from films she's seen and realize she's never seen The Winter Soldier. So we back up, call up that movie, and watch it gleefully.

Niece: "I like his face."
Me: "Captain America's?"
Niece: "mmm, yes."

Where is the lie?

After we watched Winter Solider (throughout which she was Sam's biggest cheerleader and wanted to know why he didn't have a movie yet (me: "from your lips to god's ears, sweetness,")) we went to bed, but this morning she wanted to watch the next movie in the series.

Which was Age of Ultron

Friends, it is a testimony to how much I love my niece that I spent my Saturday morning watching that absolute train wreck of a movie a SECOND TIME. And when I first saw it, I believe I was measured in my reaction, holding tight to the six-second glimpse of Steve and Peggy dancing as a talisman against all the stuff that was so, so wrong.


Everyone's characterization is wrong. Nothing makes sense (from Steve's sudden inability to swear to Tony's sudden rediscovery of loving suits and robots after he blew them all up at the end of IM3). Natasha flirting at the bar with Bruce was painful. Natasha and Bruce at the farmhouse made my want to scratch out my eyes. I had to actively leave the room for part of the movie (under the auspices of taking a shower) because I could not handle my rage.

We were given such great characters! Why was Joss Whedon ever allowed near them?

*Hulk smash*

My niece observed at the end that Thor really didn't get to do much and I asked, calmly and deliberately, "Did anyone really get any character development?" And she said, "Huh. No. You're right. That was such a weird film."

Out of the mouths of babes, friends. Out of the mouths of babes.

I need to wash the foul taste of that movie out of my mouth, potentially by watching TWS again, and then imagining all the ways everyone was in love with everyone else in that movie and afterwards. And maybe I should write the alternative Age of Ultron, although that would require a name to change to something like Avengers: Age of Revels, in which everyone hangs out together at Tony's place but there is no pissing contest over Thor's hammer, and Sam sticks around to generally poke holes in Tony's ego at every opportunity. Which Tony really likes.

04 August 2017 @ 07:13 am
Today's the day - I'll be in court for my bankruptcy case at 9am this morning. So if anyone has any calm, zen, 'I can do this!' vibes to spare from 8.30am CT onward, I would be glad to have them!

eta: Everything went well. It wasn't nearly so adversarial a process as I had feared. The bankruptcy trustee was kind and gentle, and his questions were almost all for my lawyer, not me. I will need to provide a couple of pieces of extra documentation, but otherwise it's all done. Whew. I feel so relieved.
01 August 2017 @ 04:44 pm
ficlet: back in the day  
Ficlet: [Back in the Day]

Captain America | Steve Rogers/Sam Wilson | First Kiss
~670 words
31 July 2017 @ 07:46 am
I have had a whirlwind weekend, but it was completely fabulous. Saturday morning at 7.30am I was on a train into Chicago to do a work gig all day, and in the late afternoon, when that was done, a friend, her husband, and her dog picked me up downtown and we drove to their lake house in Michigan. (It's not actually on the lake, but it's close enough.) There we hung out, we cooked food, we talked around a bonfire until early in the morning, and then Sunday we got up and had a leisurely breakfast. At lunchtime we drove about twenty minutes to where my friend's cousins were all staying with their kids and went down to the beach at their resort. Oh, my goodness, I loved it. I love my friend's cousins - they are loud and fun and great parents and I get plopped right down into the middle of a family that I just don't have myself. And we sat on the beach and swam in the lake and I emptied my head of everything except simply existing. It was beautiful. And - despite applying sunscreen so many times that I was a parody of someone who doesn't want to get burned - I got sunburned. I missed the very, very tops of my legs and around the shoulder straps of my swimsuit and, somehow, my knees. My knees! I know I applied sunscreen to my knees over and over, but apparently it wasn't enough. Poop! I am definitely in pain today, but applying lots of aloe, taking ibuprofen, and drinking a whole bunch of water.

All of that happened in 36 hours, which blows my mind - I feel like I lived three days in one. And now I'm in Chicago to dog-sit for my friend while she's on a business trip and her husband, who's an engineer by day and musician by night, has a big job, a show, and then a 8am-8pm conference Tuesday and Thursday.

Despite the sunburn, I am still so deeply happy about those beach hours. I was so deliciously happy and content, perhaps because I get to get to a beach so rarely? But also because everyone welcomed me, handed me sandwiches, I shared our wine, we all laughed and laughed . . . what a happy, happy thing.

On the way home last night we listened to a couple of Radio Lab episodes, including [this one] about leaps in technology that are making it possible for people to study people's speech and fake new speech that sounds completely authentic, and for others to study people's facial expressions and generate completely new facial expressions so that a real person looks like they're saying something they never said. It is terrifying. Can you imagine this last election if these had been widely available? How will we ever know if something is true ever again? THIS is why scientists need humanists, so that someone says "um, SHOULD we do this?" before people actually do. (In sum: see Jurrasic Park.)

I hope you had wonderful weekends, and that this week treats you kindly!
27 July 2017 @ 07:17 am
Friends, I'm thinking of starting up a collection on AO3 where we can all write first kisses of our favorite fandom pairings (or threesomes, or more) in much the same vein as [community profile] mcsmooch back in the day. (How I wish journal comms were still a thing, because that would be so much easier!)

I plan to do some hunting around later today to figure this all out, but if anyone knows of a cheat sheet for how to essentially run a comm through AO3 I would be glad to see it!

More news as I get this going . . .
23 July 2017 @ 02:47 pm
Hunger, Bodies, and Power  
I just read Roxane Gay’s Hunger and it resonated with me very deeply.

Discussion of sexual assault, suicidal ideation, and body image under the cut. Please read (or don't!) with your own self-care in mind.

Read more... )
23 July 2017 @ 10:09 am
Sunday reading  
Just read a lovely column called [Your Three Feet of Influence]. The author suggests that while we cannot control the world, we can choose what we do with the three feet directly around us, and whether we bring to that three feet justice, calm, and kindness or not. Great reading for this Sunday!
23 July 2017 @ 08:49 am
My nieces (4, 10) have been watching The Great British Baking Show, and decided that yesterday afternoon should be all baking, all the time. So I went over and helped out, and we made the FUSSIEST BAKED GOODS IMAGINABLE. First came the Banana Bread from America's Test Kitchen. What a pain in the ass that recipe is. And yet it made the best banana bread I have ever tasted, so I can do little but shake my fist and do what they say.

Then we made Blackberry Scones, which had the best-tasting scone mix imaginable, and which took forever to make. I think I'd like them better with blueberries or raspberries, but they're very tasty (no doubt from all the butter). Again, very fussy recipe, but the end product felt worth it.

At the end of the afternoon, niece C made brownies out of a box, and lo, we were glad for it :D

Woke up this morning stiff in every place imaginable, so I'll need to do a bit of gentle yoga to loosen back up after I finish this cup of tea. I feel like Andy in Parks and Recreation - working out is great and all but at what cost? :D