Thursday, December 06, 2012
My friend LA biffed off to Europe earlier this fall and left her fluffy, neurotic, Siamese-Persian cat Tiki in my care for 5 or 6 weeks. Tiki is one of those "love on my terms only" kind of cats and I'm totally down with that, though sometimes you just wish she would come cuddle you already, damnit. We made lots of progress in our relationship while she was at my apartment, and not coincidentally I also progressed into thinking "it is time to get a cat." After she was gone I found myself just slightly deflated every time I walked into the place. No little buddy coming out to greet me. No conversations carried out entirely in meows. No one tear-assing from one end of the apartment to the other. (A fluffy cat in full gallop on a hardwood floor is very hilarious.)
So I started looking at Petfinder cat profiles, the way you do if you're a single internet-dependent cat lady. If you're like me you also occasionally sit there weeping over the profiles about all the kitty hard knocks and dumpees, waifs and strays, and pictures of cats who have bonded and must be adopted in pairs. They're lying there in donut beds with their paws around each other. Then you fantasize about starting a cat ranch for all of them.
Anyway, there were a few profiles I kept coming back to over the next few weeks and one I even bookmarked and would look at repeatedly, and then during the Thanksgiving break I took a deep breath and went to the rescue place to visit the cats. We have a great volunteer-run no-kill shelter here, where incidentally someone is having a very good time writing extensive Petfinder profiles in the voice of each cat. You can just stop in during their regular hours to pet cats, if that's all you want to do or are able to do. You walk in and all of these cats gaze at you. The ones who have made themselves the greeting committee run up to you to say hello.
I ended up putting in an application to adopt a cat that first day I visited. She was a little but full-grown kitty with a fluffy tail and wild whiskers. Her name was unfortunately Celine. She wasn't one of the ones I'd been interested in before visiting, and after I went home and looked at her profile I remembered why: it was all about how much she likes to jump high and how energetic she is. Even before I looked at her listing again, I was having a moderate internal flip-out about whether I picked the right cat. Let it be said, I obviously love cats, so I could have taken any one of those cats home and it would have worked out fine. Still, I was wanting a more grown-up, sedate cat. Maybe one who wouldn't come into my bedroom at night, jump on the dresser, and start knocking jewelry on the floor. And I'd seen the cats at the end of a long and busy Saturday shift with lots of visitors. They were tired and not very interactive, and this little Celine had jumped into my lap. I thought maybe I'd gotten suckered by that--it's a little irresistible to feel chosen.
So I mulled and stewed and went back on the following Tuesday to visit the cats again and I changed my request. I asked for the cat whose little profile I'd bookmarked. Here's her profile pic. She was called Butter Pecan. She'd been dumped at the shelter with 3 other cats, and had been there since August.
I picked her up last Friday and I gotta admit, when I first put her carrier into my car and got in myself and closed the door I started to cry. I mean I basically just entered a LTR with an animal. It's a big deal.
(That was in the car, on the way home.)
And this girl has been a dreamboat, especially considering the very first thing I had to do was take her to the vet and get her a rabies jab (landlord requirement). She was a sweetpea at the vet, complained only slightly in the car (and incidentally her stock meow is hilariously almost soundless), and when I let her out into my apartment she just walked around smelling everything and purring. She almost immediately found all the good cat perches in my place, found the food and water and sampled both, and used the litterbox like a champ.
She's inquisitive but not destructive, playful but not bite-y, and the "spicy" aspects of her personality--this was the rescue volunteer's word--have not been in evidence, except for a few little mini-growls when she hears someone thumping up or down the stairs or sees a dog outside. She sleeps in my bed all night without making a peep, she trots over when I call her, she lets me groom her eye gunk and brush her butt fur (essential when a cat has a fluffy butt), and she follows me from room to room.
I named her Winifred B. Snuffles. I know, I'm a huge dork. It took me a few days to figure out that her name is Winifred. Winnie is the official short name, but obviously I call her about 100 different things in a day. It's a wonder any animal ever learns to respond to its name.
The B will just stand for whatever I need it to. Buffy, or Buffalo Butt, or Buddy, or Blondeen, or Bananas, or whatever. Snuffles is the most literal part of her name. She heaves sighs out her nose like a dog. She's a little grunty and snorty. Sometimes she snores when she's napping. She's a snufflepig.
So yeah, I totally love this cat. This morning she'd hopped out of bed sometime before my alarm went off, so when it went off and I officially had to wake up, I called to her and she trotted into my room, hopped up on my chest, and rolled around purring until I could no longer put off my day.
I'd been spending my off evenings embroidering, drinking tea, and streaming TV on my laptop anyway. Now I have a purring buddy next to me on the couch, so I am well and truly on my way to being an old lady.
Friday, August 31, 2012
- I went to my 20 year high school reunion a few weeks ago, and it was awesome fun. I danced for 3 hours (to reunion-appropriate hits of the early 90s, such as "Da Butt") in my stupidest shoes, then later fell down an invisible step at a bar and sprained my ankle, thus ending a great night with an ice pack. Hot.
- We moved into new digs at my office job, which means I lost my beautiful view of the Mississippi but now have my own (aggressively beige, excessively climate-controlled) office. It's much harder to do the cube-farm prairie dog pop-up and I don't have a secret locker room anymore, but we did find showers in the building and I think, on the whole, it will be a good thing. It's even made me feel better about my job generally.
- I have done crap-tons of cat-sitting. It'll be a total of a month when this current stint is all done. As a cat lady with no cats at home, I am the ideal cat-sitter, especially if you have netflix or some other streaming media on your teevee and a good lounging couch. Plus, I give the cats tons of love. Currently, I'm at my sister Em's with Been and Ollie. Ollie wants all your love, and Been wants to sit on whatever you just set down.
- I finished re-watching TNG and started Deep Space Nine. Would you believe I never watched DS9? And that now I'm questioning my loyalty to TNG because DS9 is in many ways a superior show? It's more complex and nuanced, and much more serialized, which makes it fun to watch because I think we've all gotten used to following a good story arc.
- On a related note, my TNG combadge earrings arrived:
They are small enough to be subtle, but nerdy enough to have stopped several conversations wherein other nerds out themselves by going, "WAIT, are those...?" and I say yes and we snicker. (Do I have to buy some DS9 swag now?)
- I bought a ukulele, which is something I've been thinking about doing for a long time. It arrived unexpectedly early on Saturday, I got home at midnight and was delighted to find it waiting, and then I stayed up til 2 learning chords. I can definitively say that I know 14 chords now and there are some others that I've wrapped my hands around but still need prompting on (via my sweet UChord ukulele chord finding app! Whatever will they think of next?). I'm looking forward to my fingers not hurting anymore once I get some more calluses built up, and also learning some more songs from memory. Here's a short list of songs I've played since I got the thing:
- Sinful Wishing Well by Caitlin Rose
- Silver Dagger (traditional, but the Dolly Parton version is one of my favorite things ever recorded)
- Hey, That's No Way to Say Goodbye, in the style of Roberta Flack
- Fools in Love by Inara George
- Lilac Wine, Jeff Buckley-style
- Video Games, which you already know by heart.
- And lots of other stuff that I can't play with any great facility yet.
- I went to the internet cat video festival at the Walker. It was amazing. 10,000 people turned out to watch cat videos on the big screen and it was truly a gigantic love fest. You know what it's like to hear 10,000 people go AWWWWW when Cat Mom Hugs Baby Kitten? It fills one with fellow-feeling.
- I can't stop thinking about buzzing my hair off but I don't think it's quite time yet.
- That's all for now. Mostly just saying hi.
Tuesday, July 24, 2012
It was a little surreal going back to my cubicle at the office on Monday and sitting down in front of a computer for all those hours. I drove home on Sunday with all of my crap packed into my car, including my bike, and a new/old giant mirror and two new/old lamps from Goodwill. The AC is out in my car, so I had the windows down and the local radio stations of northern IA cranked up. I had two cooler bags full of a growler of my favorite local lager and the leftover groceries from my fridge. I was salty with dried sweat. Clouds kept gathering in the west but it never did rain. I was grateful for anything that kept the blazing sun off my left arm.
The morning had been packed with goodbyes and closing worship and music music music. The kids were all tearful, standing around with their arms around each other. (I personally know two married couples who met as campers at this particular camp. I wonder what relationships formed this time around.)
For the last four weeks, I lived in a student condo on a prairie in a bowl of land between the river and bluffs, with an organist and a pianist. Raptors circled over the prairie every day, catching updrafts, and deer trekked through the tall grasses every twilight. In the adjacent condos there were brass players and woodwind players and singers and a percussionist and pianists and string players and staffers and the chaplain. Behind the condos, the woods stretched straight up a steep hill that rolled gently down to our place and past it to the main drag. Each morning, I rode my bike down the hill and across the street and up another hill to the music building and taught a class or coached a small ensemble and then taught lessons and had rehearsal for the rest of the afternoon. After dinner, there was a concert every night. I've never heard so many recitals in such a short span of time--and a LOT of new music, a lot of avant garde freaky shit that those kids were so incredibly lucky to hear. And once the kids took over the performing at the end of the third week, we heard a lot of exceptional young people working it on out onstage.
I missed most sunsets or came out at the tail end of them, after the recital or evening prayer (which I usually ditched), and would go for a quick bike ride along the river, where the whole trail would be lit up by fireflies and I'd see deer standing off to the side, silhouetted against the sky, munching grass and blinded by my headlamp. Toward the end of camp, I traded most of my bike rides for walks with friends down toward town to the little brewpub or the genius courtyard bar that only had outdoor seating and where the bartender played Caitlin Rose. After my big vocal ensemble concert, I got sick enough to cancel an entire day of teaching and rallied to perform a Bach cantata two days later. I still have a little cough--I say "still" but really, my sick day was only the Friday before last, or 11 days ago. A cough can stay for weeks.
One of the strangest features of living there for most of us grown folks, I realized after two weeks, was all the communal meals. We ate in the caf with all of the students, though the faculty and staff segregated ourselves in one area by the giant windows overlooking the valley and the wind turbine. I fell right into the communal meals, where you'd sit there through your companions' comings and goings and end up dining with maybe three different groups of people, but it did seem funny to think of how many people I was eating with twice a day (I never went to breakfast, since we had a mandatory meeting every day at 8 AM and that schedule was a huge stretch for me), when here at home I eat alone for every single meal and think nothing of it. I had today off from the office, as I usually do on Tuesdays, and it was so quiet, so strange to rattle around here doing prep cooking and unpacking stuff and getting reorganized and reacquainted with my place. I tell you what, after a month of spartan living it seems like I have way too much shit. I might have to address that while I still have the momentum (new/old Goodwill lamps notwithstanding).
Anyway, I guess I might miss the communal dining a bit--that option to always have people to visit with over dinner--but I'm thrilled to be back to eating what I like. The food wasn't bad--lots of it was even locally grown--but of course my salad intake had to at least double because the non-salad vegetarian options weren't what you want to eat all the time: pizza, veggie burgers, pasta. I ate many, many leaves. And everything started to taste the same after a couple weeks no matter how many choices there were: you hit a wall and that's that. The first thing I made today with yesterday's grocery haul was spicy Asian slaw with cabbage, carrots, marinated tofu, and plenty of sambal oelek and sesame oil. Then I made a tub of guacamole. In a little while, I'm going to put together a chickpea sweet potato salad with red onions and tahini dressing and these incredible little sungold tomatoes. These are things I missed.
What I'll miss most now that I'm home is that intense musical community, which I've not really had since grad school. And even then that was a pretty singer-heavy community, because everyone gets ghetto-ized into their little programs and doesn't mix much with others. But now I have all of these very accomplished colleagues who play instruments and sing and teach all over the country. We joked, we collaborated, we commiserated, we floated down the river in inner tubes. My net has widened considerably, and that has already been so good for me.
I'll also miss being in the studio every day, singing and teaching, and I might even miss the classroom a bit. I worked with great kids. The whole experience has given me some momentum to execute my plan of getting out of my day job by the end of the calendar year so that I can do what I'm trained to do. It’s amazing how hard you can work, and how good it feels to do so, when you care about what you’re doing.
I’ll miss the fireflies and deer too, but the frogs and bugs are singing their heads off outside my window right now, and I’m glad to be home.
Sunday, June 17, 2012
So,I like to binge-watch TV shows, when I get into them. Recently I did all of Parenthood, and I did allll of Gossip Girl (even though that felt like, as a friend said, suddenly realizing you've eaten a whole bag of Doritos), and I think you all know about Felicity, right? Or maybe I never blogged about that. Now I'm nerding hardcore on a near-daily basis because I have 7 action-packed seasons of Star Trek to get through. And it's very appropriate that I've been watching today, because it's Father's Day and I have very distinct memories of staying up late on schoolnights to watch it with my dad back when I was in highschool. At that point they must have been re-running the early seasons already. Partly I love watching it because I watched it when it was first on, and I remember how progressive it was, and partly I love watching it because it is STILL progressive and honestly some of the things they say on the show--like talking frankly about how they no longer enslave animals for food and how more advanced societies have evolved beyond belief in the supernatural or deities and about terminating pregnancy and so on--well they seem like things that would catch HUGE amounts of flack in our lovely current political climate, you know?
Also, it's just completely ridiculous. If you're a TNG fan you probably already read Fashion It So, the brilliant tumblr takedown of all of the future-fashions featured on the show, but really the show is such a style goldmine that no blog could ever cover all of it. I think my favorite thing about the look of the show is that no matter what glittery jumpsuit the humanoids may wear, no matter what facial ridge they might sport, the hairdos are fully late-80s--though anachronistic hair, or at least hair interpreted strictly through the lens of contemporary fashion, seems to have been a feature of TV and movies with non-contemporary settings until relatively recently.
Also also, to entertain yourself, you can add "in my PANTS" to a lot of Riker's dialogue, e.g.:
Riker: "Red alert!"
You: "In my PANTS."
I suppose it works for anyone on the show, but he's the only one who's supposed to be a swashbuckling and robust lover of ladies.
Anyway, if you want to talk Star Trek, let me know. I can obviously go ON about it.
I had an awesome impromptu night of girl stuff last night with my sister Em and my friend Angie. Yesterday was Henry and Jude's dance recital, and Molly choreographed dances for her classes, and Angie, who is an amazing dancer, takes my sister Molly's hip-hop class, so she was in it too. And oh man, the auditorium was all stunned silence when the grown-ass ladies kicked it to "Run the World (Girls)." There is something inexpressibly moving to me about dance recitals. I'm not talking about the dance recitals of competition studios, where it's all precision moves and phony ponies. But this studio in particular has some awesome features: 1. lots of boys, and classes just for boys, which keeps them involved in dancing and 2. lots of adult classes, and heavy adult participation in the recitals. So like, adults with gray hair and regular squishy bods put on a tutu and do their ballet 1 dance, or they tap in jeans and t-shirts, right after the tiny boys who can barely hold it together in their dinosaur costumes. It's all so cool. And the boys, our boys, did awesome. Jude has a mohawk now and he just grins the whole time he's up there and nailed his moves. And Henry can't help lip-synching the whole time and he excels at any theatrical skit-type stuff that's part of the dance. So that was great and I was holding back the happy/moved tears the whole time.
After all of that, Angie and I went to Emily's for a drink and ended up sitting on the couch and looking at makeup and the contents of Em's Birchboxes and chit-chatting for hours and hours about zits and hair removal and such, and it was awesome. Maybe those things are better when unplanned. All I know is that I left at about 1:30 AM, wearing a polka-dotted fleece jumpsuit/jammies thing (a sweet, unfortunate Christmas gift to Emily from her boyf's mother) that looked so, so terrible on me but felt so good, and I also had on very dark lipstick and a moldable headband. And I woke up this morning wanting to go buy more lipstick, so that's what I did. I think I found the perfect red, too.
It's already 11:30 PM and I have work tomorrow, sigh. I always get a second wind around 10. In this case, it's welcome, because my bed is covered (neatly) with all the clothes I am proposing to take with me on my one-month out of state teaching gig, for which I depart on Friday. Trying to figure out what I'm going to feel like wearing for a month, when that month will encompass who knows what kind of weather and possibly hardcore climate control indoors and ALSO performances both formal and informal--well it's difficult, is all I'm saying. Now I have to figure out where to relocate these clothes so that I can get into bed and go to sleep.
Here are two things you may enjoy, and then I have to pack this up and act like somebody who gets up in the morning.
First, I heard this song on the radio this evening and I really like it and I think you might too.
Second, I've been eating a lot of chickpea flour pancakes for breakfast and I have landed on a basic recipe that really works for me. Chickpea flour is full of protein and other good stuff, so these aren't your carb-bomb pancakes but they ARE delicious and good for you at the same time.
1/2 c chickpea flour
1/4-1/2 c oats or cornmeal or soy flour or whatever else you have
1 t baking powder
Your spices of choice
1/2 c almond milk
1/4 c fruit juice
1 t vanilla
1 t coconut oil (liquefied). I'm sure you could leave this out.
Mix it all together and add more liquid, even water, if it seems too thick. I like these to be thin, so the batter is almost crepe-like when I make them. Cook them on med heat with a little cooking spray (I use coconut for this too). This recipe gets me through 3 breakfasts and I eat the cakes with fruit and walnuts, or today I concocted a peanut butter banana sauce that was rad. I have also just eaten them straight up, with my fingers, and I can recommend that course of action too.
Thursday, May 31, 2012
I hope I'll blog about that more in a day or two, but what I really want to do right now is write about what I've been doing since I got home: mainly, re-reading my friend Turquoise's blog archives and all of the reminiscences about her on her facebook page, which turned into a memorial page when she died yesterday morning.
Turquoise (aka Violet) was the first friend in the computer that I met in person, when she and her then-boyfriend passed through Minneapolis about four years ago. We had one of those four-hour lunches that you can have with hilarious kindred spirits, even those you've never seen in the real world. She is also one of the first people I ever read, since we both started out on diaryland, and I always feel kinship with the former (and current) diarylanders, like we all survived the early days of blogging together.
I don't really know what to say about it all. She was brilliant and hilarious and talented and lovely and stylish. She also suffered a lot. She got her cancer diagnosis in the midst of a lot of other serious personal turmoil, and spent the last two years dealing with the aftermath of all of it. She blogged about it at Still Life With Idiots. Before that, she blogged at Sea Room. And I first found her at Spark and Foam, which is probably the best place to get a sense of how beautifully and irreverently she wrote (then there's beautiful and irreverent simultaneously). There are billions of potential entries to link; those are just a few I landed on.
On top of all that, she was in a couple of horror movies and sang in a band. Sometimes she raced boats, and sometimes she painted. She loved Murder, She Wrote, Jonathan Richman, Absolut Greyhounds, ludicrous shoes, and foxes (she wanted to bring back the word "foxy," which I will try to do in her honor). And she wrote captions for Anne Taintor. This is one of hers:
Because of her presence online, echoes of her are just going to stay here in the etherweb for as long as blogger or wordpress or d-land or flickr or whatever will keep them up. Isn't that so strange? There's a whole huge archive of certain ways that she chose to reveal her personality or her life, and that archive is staying available to all of us because she left it open. Right now I'm glad about that, because I can immerse myself in her writing, and the reminiscences of those who knew her, and mourn while feeling connected to her.
Here's something she wrote last year, in March:
I think there is unconditional love. In my mind, it is available from Aslan, the talking Jesus lion from the Narnia books. My fondest wish, and I say this without sarcasm, is that when I die, Aslan the talking Jesus lion will greet me in a wide, beautiful field of flowers, and let me curl up against his fur and sleep until I feel whole. We will have long conversations, and I will be comforted by his compassion and his wisdom, and even when we discuss my flaws and sins, he will not judge me, but instead talk me through my bad decisions, and forgive me when I confess.Love you, girl.
Tuesday, May 01, 2012
How was your April? I think mine was good! but it's hard to tell, since I didn't keep track of anything here. I had some performances, which was really nice. One of them was all 17th century Italian music, which is so not my normal milieu, but it was good to branch out and connect to what's truly a different musical community than the one I usually work in. Then last week I did a premiere, which I always like--just a huge new song, something I hope I can take around with me and perform elsewhere. This is the text (the first poem on the page) I got to sing, and when I first got the music I was like, did you target me personally with this poem, woman? It's pretty great. And intense.
There are a handful of musical events (and one audition I should be practicing for right this minute) in the month of May and in early June, and then I'm going off to teach at a music festival/academy from the end of June until the end of July. I have to get my poop in a group for that whole thing--I'm teaching a class for which I received the curriculum today, and it appears I have to do a lot of review/prep before then, lordy. It will be an adjustment to do classroom teaching again, but a welcome adjustment.
One thing I did in April was buy a NiceRide membership. NiceRide is the Twin Cities' bike sharing program, and though I'm not the ideal customer because I pretty much always have my bike at moments I want a bike, I really support the program and wanted to make use of it. Also, my bike was in the shop for a tune-up and that seemed like a good time to try out some other ride. My first day with my NiceRide key, I had a very multi-modal experience: I took the bus to work, hopped off the bus when it became clear that the accident blocking traffic wasn't going to let us move, walked two blocks to the nearest bike kiosk, checked out a bike, and rode across campus to the kiosk nearest my office. It was slick. On days that I drive to work for whatever reason, I have to park far away from campus in order to park for free (it's an art/science/compulsion). Normally I don't mind the long walk, but my two parking spots happen to be by bike kiosks, so I've been checking out a bike and shortening the last leg of my journey. The bikes are like very slow tanks, so it's a very different experience than riding my sweet beast, but it's been fun trying this whole thing out. It's a good addition to the public transportation options in this metro, especially since many kiosks are by bus or rail stops.
Um, I also watched 4 seasons of Gossip Girl during April. Don't judge. I finished Felicity and one of my friends admitted that she was hooked on Gossip Girl and I merely followed suit. I have watched a lot of eps while taking epic baths and drinking a beer. It's a rough life, obviously.
Also in April: paid off my student loan, the end. I just did my net worth for the month of April and it felt really awesome to put a zero in that line. Next month, officially, I'll be worth more alive than dead, if we're talking strictly dollars and not, like, value as a member of the human family. That will be a nice feeling too, and it took under 5 years to get there.
My car got towed in April, thanks to goddamn street cleaning/insufficient signage/etc.
In April, I got to love on a LOT of cats and babies.
I'm house and catsitting right now, loving on Ace and Momo morning and evening while the Brit's traveling. It's both strange and not strange to be in the house I no longer live in, but I've done it several times since I moved out, and each time the new normal gets a little more normal.
Henry turned 10. TEN. Remember this baby?
(Remember that HAIR? Holy crap.)
This baby is 10. Here he is on his birthday, having an important conversation with Itty Bitty Kitty:
Henry is a budding foodie and he made and decorated his birthday cake himself. It was seriously off the chain. It weighed about 15 pounds (not really, but it was heavy) and was a chocolate layer cake with some kind of whipped cream center and sliced strawberries, plus chocolate buttercream and lots of it.
Also, the guitar on top was molded out of rice krispie treat stuff and the frets are black licorice. And this was a perfect adornment for the cake because he got an electric guitar as his big present. And he immediately sat down and started playing and singing actual songs.
So yeah, April's been good. Everything's blooming way too early, but I'm not complaining.
Wednesday, March 28, 2012
I finally did the deed on Saturday. It was hella expensive, but I'm thrilled with the results. And given that I've saved jillions of dollars cutting my own hair for 2.5 years, I was probably overdue for some hair expenditure. What's crazy is that I can already see like a millimeter of dark roots, and I'm actually totally intrigued to see how fast my hair really grows. I always thought it was slow. Maybe it's completely average.
More than one person (including my mother) has told me "it just looks normal," which I think is a pretty great reaction. I feel funkier, that's for sure, but still like myself. A self that looks a bit pinker and wants to put on a little powder to mitigate. So a slightly more high-maintenance self.
So, one more item checked off my Ultimate To-Do List (I prefer this to "life list"). Speaking of which: auditions for Miss Hannigan in "Annie" came up in my blogfeed today. Unfortunately, it's for a production in a way-out suburb during a time I'm contracted to be teaching in Iowa. But it means the universe is listening.
Tuesday, March 13, 2012
In case you haven't been with me for years or just don't know what I'm talking about, PCR is a local grassroots organization that works to ensure that all people and communities have the power and resources to make sexual and reproductive health decisions with self-determination and dignity. What does that involve? It involves education, outreach, advocacy, and financial assistance. It means teaching teachers to talk about gender, healthy relationships, birth control methods, and all pregnancy options so that youth and adults can control their sexual health. It means maintaining an abortion assistance fund so that low-income women can afford an abortion. It means offering a secular after-abortion support group for those who need one. It means reaching out to historically underserved communities to address disparities in healthcare information and access.
I think all of this is righteous, obviously. That's why I raise money for PCR every year. Also, you may have noticed that the political climate has become extremely hostile to reproductive rights (and, uh, basic issues like birth control). 2012 is going to be another awful year for anti-choice state legislation, and our "pro-choice" president hasn't made a public statement about it--not even during Women's History Month. So now's really the time to give what you can to organizations who are working to make reproductive choice a reality for all women.
Every donation in any amount is welcome and important, and I'm for real. We usually raise about 10% of the organization's operating budget with this event, which is amazing.
My donation page is here: http://bowlathon.prochoiceresources.org/pcrsweet/participantpage.asp?fundid=156&uid=542&role=1
I really appreciate you taking the time to read and consider this. I'm pro-choice, and that's how I roll!
Saturday, March 10, 2012
I hope y'all are having good weekends too.
Wednesday, March 07, 2012
Monday, March 05, 2012
Every time we wanted to get on the subway, a train showed up. Everything was so freewheeling and unplanned and fun! And not in an aggressive sceney way, because I’m not like that and neither is Lauren. It was just fun. I got to walk miles and miles. I packed almost the perfect amount of clothing (I probably had one outfit too many). I didn’t spend an excessive amount of money. I managed to get some sleep even though I was on a couch in an unfamiliar place with a very assertive kitty who has developed the bad new habit of meowing loudly at 7 AM.
Those are just the practical bits. Apart from all that, the trip was invigorating. I used to go to NY a lot. For several years I was in a long-distance relationship with someone who lived there, and I'd be there every month or so, on the fringes of the opera world. And then after we split up, I was still there regularly for auditions and visits. But that was a long time ago. The people I used to stay with don’t live there anymore. I’m not in the operatic milieu. This time, I made a spontaneous decision to chase Bjork to a NY concert, and that was the whole reason for the trip's timing.
So Bjork was one theme of the weekend but the other was Treat Yo Self.
Those are the three words Lauren and I probably said most over the weekend. Should I get these potato chips with my lunch? Treat Yo Self! These earrings are ridiculous and will probably turn my earholes green. Treat Yo Self! Rooftop bar? Treat Yo Self!
It was about 60 damn degrees when I got to NY. I stood next to my luggage on the subway platform in just my dress and boots while everyone else huddled in coats. HEY, HARDY UPPER MIDWESTERNER HERE. The weather meant that we spent a good chunk of the afternoon looking for a patio to sit on, but when that failed, we got some okay Tex-Mex and then walked alllll over Brooklyn Heights and Dumbo. It was beautiful. Beautiful Cobble Hill and covetable brownstones, this adorable yellow carriage house that I referred to as my house all weekend, the Brooklyn Promenade, the amazing view across the water, the new bike paths, the old old neighborhoods down by the water and near the bridges, the carousel, the VIEW.
We got ice cream, we met her man in his office, we walked some more, we topped off the day with like 6 hours of conversation and a couple of beers.
The next day the weather turned colder and drizzlier and generally crappier, which was too bad. We had delicious Middle Eastern food and popped over to the Brooklyn Museum, which is so cool and which I'd never seen before. We weren’t there for very long, but we got to see Judy Chicago’s Dinner Party which, while VERY 70s, is also very important and I’m glad I can say I’ve seen it in all its completely vulvic splendor. I honestly don't think I've ever seen the word "vulvae" printed so much, but maybe I just haven't spent enough time looking at feminist art of the 70s. There was also an exhibit juxtaposing Rodin with a modern ceramicist named, I think, Rebecca Kneebone, which was pretty interesting, and then we just blasted through some other exhibits, American art and decorative arts and, best of all, the visible storage room where everything not on display is more or less on display. It was fabulous. So much to explore. Like this futuristic bike.
Also, this happened:
Fuck your Noguchi coffee table.
After that, we were dragging ass, so we got coffee at a tiny shop around the corner. It was wee and narrow, but had a lofted seating area and a great, chatty, flirty barista who brought me an excellent cappuccino. The coffee, in fact, helped us to rally for like another 6 hours. As we were heading back to the train, we spontaneously decided to go into Manhattan and make Babycakes bakery our main destination, and then wend otherwhere from there. So we went there and had pretty dang good vegan gluten free goodies: a carrot vanilla cupcake and a lemon coconut cake that was donut shaped but in other ways not like a donut. From there it was just schlepping. Up and down the LES, stopping in a vintage shop to marvel at what passes for fashion and at the price tags. There were a few legitimately fabulous things, but the prices were fabulous also. And apparently now every daggy floral calf length skirt from the 80s is a vintage treasure.
Late in the evening, we finally parked ourselves at a restaurant in Little India--we basically could have stopped at any of the restaurants along that row and it would have been fine, I think. Saag paneer, samosas, giant Kingfishers, salty mango ice cream. It wasn’t shockingly good or anything, but there was a chill in the air and we’d been walking forever, and it felt great to come into the warm cave of the restaurant, where a sitar player was playing along with a drum track on an elaborate homemade dais.
Saturday was for more adventures. There were 50 mph (evidently) gusts of wind, but we went out to walk the High Line park anyway, and I’m so glad we did because it is a fabulous and unique thing in the city, and obviously new since the last time I’d been there. First we did Chelsea Market, wandering back and forth and sampling (and buying) chocolate from one of the vendors. Then we went up the stairs at about 16th St, and walked all the way to the end of the High Line. There was great, moody light up there, beautiful views, crazy wind.
We stopped at a gallery to see an exhibition of Weegee’s photography and looked him up on Wikipedia to figure out why so much of his stuff was late-night, nightclub, crime scene stuff--and it turns out that’s just what he did. He had the 30s equivalent of a police scanner and was always showing up on the scene at the same time as emergency services. His seeming prescience about where shit was going down is what earned him the name Weegee (=Ouija). It’s compelling stuff. And macabre, at times. Pictures of people participating in group life: dancing, spectating, at the beach. I can’t believe I’d never gallery-hopped before (though I guess one stop doesn't qualify as "hopping"). It's such a fun, low-pressure thing to do. 10 minutes, or a half hour, or however long it takes, but there’s always another thing to move along to, and it's free.
Saturday was also Bjork.
We got to the venue, the Roseland Ballroom, a little under an hour before the show. I was amazed at how small the place was--and the room was set up in the round, so there really wasn’t a bad space in the crowd for those of us who got there reasonably early.
It was fucking amazing. AMAZING. I love Bjork so much. We had watched a Vespertine concert DVD to get in the mood, and I was so totally in the mood that I practically cried when she came out. I was beside myself with joy and other emotions for at least the first three songs. She used this Icelandic young women’s choir, Graduale Nobili, for the record, and they’re on the tour as well, so there were all of these women onstage at all times. And they weren’t there to be decorative or to be sexy or to be fly girls or anything, they were integral to the MUSIC, to the stage show. They were choreographed but without any sharp edges.
It was a beautifully constructed show, with the big angled flat screens all around the stage, showing the animations for each song on both sides of the screen, so that everyone could see them. There was a Van De Graaff generator making goddamn lightning right over our heads! There was recorded narration by David Attenborough! There was a nerd playing a wall of four iPads (and doing other programming/sequencing/nerdy stuff)! There was something called a gravity harp, made out of pendulums! Then there was just a regular harpist and a drummer, who were also very cool!
The orange-fro blob up there is Bjork, also sporting some serious platforms and an electric blue Jetsons dress with like inflatable nautilus whorl boobs. And she was so close to us! Why have I never gone to see her before?? I won’t make that mistake again. I wished I could see it again. It was major. Completely worth it.
And when we left, the night was still young! We went to get a bite at Zen Palate, which was weird and not as delicious as I remember, though maybe that’s because I couldn’t help ordering the Tex Mex Moo Shu, which was essentially a burrito with no spice. Then Lauren and I headed to the UWS to meet one of my old opera friends, someone I hadn't seen in about 8 years, at Dive Bar. We had good barstool karma, securing a place right after we got there, and then my friend showed up looking all ripped and wonderful, and we just kicked it for several hours. Thank goodness for facebook and texts, y'all. They make it so much easier to keep from losing contact with people, and SO much easier to reach out, at least for people like me who hate the phone.
We got on the train a bit drunky-drunk and full of fellow-feeling and made it home by 3. Epic!
Sunday we went in search of baked goods and had a fabulous chocolate almond croissant and cappuccino at some very artisanal bakery, some very Brooklyn place where the barista apologized for the wetness of the cappuccino and said she'd make me another if I prefer a drier cappuccino. It was all damn good so I didn’t mind the sceney-ness. You have to see that stuff sometimes. Especially if you want deliciousness. Then we went back to Manhattan in fruitless pursuit of loungepants, at the Daffy’s in Herald Square. Then more wandering! We went into several blingy cheap jewelry stores and somehow I dropped $45.
Hilariously, one of the pairs of earrings didn’t even survive the trip back to Brooklyn without breaking, which made Lauren laugh more than almost anything else over the weekend. But that was some very entertaining browsing, man. More sparkle than you can shake a stick at.
We went to the NYPL and tried to see the Mary Shelley exhibit but couldn’t figure out where the fuck it was, but seeing the building was pretty great. We walked through Bryant Park and ogled the skaters. We snapped pictures of the Chrysler Building, in various lights.
Then we went up to Little Korea to get a drink in a clandestine rooftop bar at the La Quinta Inn, of all places. It was a strange thing to do in February, but they turned on a heat lamp for us and brought out fresh popcorn and it was happy hour so the drinks were cheap. There was a convergence of the moon and Venus and Jupiter happening behind us (though we could only see one of the planets), and the Empire State Building loomed in front of us. Old school jazz standards, mainly vocalists, were piped out to the deck and we warmed our heads under the lamps and chatted. Later, we walked over to a diner to meet another opera friend from the old days--this time it was someone I hadn't seen in 10 years, who is still awesome and so fun and easy to talk to. Vegetarian chili cheese fries and more good company.
We also saw this:
I was so sad it was closed.
On Monday we had another long walk down the promenade (after a seriously solid ballast of pancakes) and decided to go up on the Brooklyn Bridge before I had to take off for the airport. This was another first for me. It was so excellent. Impossible to take a bad picture, very beautiful, and very New Yorky.
And that was the trip. Lauren walked me to the subway and I got a little teary behind my sunglasses and thanked her profusely for all the fun. It was nonstop, non-frenzied, non-hectic fun, really. I can’t imagine a better trip, unless it had included loungepants acquisition.
Wednesday, February 22, 2012
Homage to/theft from Kate Beaton:
Just a tiny little something:
Inexplicable, though maybe referring in some way to data storage:
And then elaborate:
As you can see, these are fruitful times for me.
On a completely unrelated note, it is time once again for the Pro-Choice Resources 19th annual BOWLATHON. This event raises a significant amount of money every year in support of the work PCR does to knock down the barriers that prevent women, girls, and youth from accessing comprehensive sexuality information and reproductive healthcare. PCR is a local, grassroots organization that helps people across the country (via their abortion assistance fund and their sex ed website, www.birdsandbees.org)--and it's the only organization in the country to offer education, advocacy, financial assistance, and outreach under one roof.
For me, fund-raising for this organization is a no-brainer, especially given the current political climate and the absolutely batshit cuckoo scifi dystopian legislation restricting reproductive rights that keeps getting presented and passed all around the U.S. right now.
Every donation, in ANY amount, is much appreciated and very helpful--whether it's paying for condoms to distribute to youth, or training sexuality education teachers, or funding the Emerge after-abortion support group, or or or (you can read more about PCR's programs here.)
If you feel so inclined, click on over to my secure fundraising page and give what you can. And don't worry, I'll remind you again later.
I'm off to NYC tomorrow, my homies. See you on the flipper.
Monday, February 13, 2012
It is perfect and fast and, for me, uses stuff I always have on hand. Here's what you need to make one big serving:
Tahini (peanut butter works too)
Sri racha or sambal oelek or chili paste of choice
2 cups near-boiling water
Sweet potato, diced into like 3/4 inch cubes (half a large potato or a whole small one)
A small head of broccoli, or half or a third of a larger head, chopped into florets. Also, peel and slice the stalk unless it's dry and tough and hopeless. If there are leaves on your brocc chop those up too.
Any other bits you like: a chopped scallion, some chopped cilantro, a handful of cooked chickpeas (see above), sesame seeds (those are the black insect-looking things up there in my soup), chopped romaine, sliced jalapeno (maybe omit the chili paste then), finely chopped kale, a squeeze of lime, etc, etc.
To make this version, put the sweet potatoes and broccoli in a microwave-safe dish with a couple tablespoons of water, cover, and zap for 2-3 minutes, or until the sweet potatoes are tender. You could also use a steamer on the stovetop, of course.
Heat your water til it's nearly boiling. In a little bowl or mug, dissolve about 1.5 tablespoons of miso paste and a tablespoon of tahini in some of the water. I just mash it around with a fork til it's incorporated. Stir in a plop of chili paste. Pour this over your steamed veg, and top up with more hot water. I usually end up using about 1.5-2 cups of water, but you'll want to taste as you go to make sure it's salty enough for you.
Top with any of the raw stuff you want to add (I love it with romaine) and mix it all up and eat with a fork AND a spoon. Fast, satisfying, nutritious AND delicious.
Friday, February 10, 2012
I'm completely exhausted right now, having gone all day yesterday from 7 AM to 1 AM and being at work as usual today. Last night was another installment of Hipshaker Minneapolis, which is a monthly vintage soul/R&B/funk dance party that is super fun but that was too heavily skewed toward oldies-ish stuff last night for my taste. It finally started to get funky as I was trying to go home at midnight. As I was shaking it with Angie, one of my oldest friends, I did briefly consider asking her if, as a teenager, she ever thought we'd be dancing at a university-adjacent club together in our late 30s, but then I just laughed at myself and rolled with it. I've always loved to boogie; why should now be any different? I'm pretty sure that when I was a teenager I just never considered my late 30s. It would have seemed like a non-age to me.
After Zumba on Wednesday night la luna was crazy huge and bright in the clear cold night. I chased the moon down the creek trail for awhile on my bike after class, because I was already so warmed up (the shimmying!) and it was so beautiful. I took the path to its logical conclusion at the neighborhood liquor store for a six pack. There's been too much crap going on this week to bike much, so that unexpected, moon-driven detour was a little gift. Today it was -13F with the windchill when I left the house--not to mention that I was dragging SO much ass this morning--so I bagged the biking today too. I'm looking forward to keeping it very, very mellow for the next few nights. I have two concerts this weekend and just generally a big long day of singing on Sunday. It's good to have musical things on the schedule, but what I would really like is for about 10 more episodes of Downton Abbey to watch.
Friday, February 03, 2012
Anyway, the requirements for these black shoes are as follows. They need to be walkable but not, strictly speaking, walking shoes. I can never find flats that I like and that fit me worth a damn, so flats are out. I like a little platform anyway, if I'm not going the barefoot shoe route. The shoes need to work with skirts and trousers and, ideally, jeans. They need to be dressed up *enough* but not incapable of being casual. They need to be slightly funky so that I don't feel womansy when I wear them. Womansy is the other reason many walking shoes are just out of the question. I have a hard enough time not skewing Arty Lady of a Certain Age with this haircut. You see why this has been such a problem for me? Siiiiighhhh, my life is so hard.
Anyway, I got these, way on sale:
They are comfortable so far, not too granny-ish, and I've walked nearly a mile in them today and feel fine. That contrasting tongue is actually very ruffly and cute in real life. And for me, they're a good take on that whole oxford thing I haven't really been able to get behind. I think they are just what I was looking for. Score!
Also, while searching for my all-purpose black shoes, I found these amazing things:
They cost way more than I spend on shoes, so I will just have to admire them from afar. Like from realllly far away, because I am going to put myself on a little old spending diet for the next month or two. Setting up house costs money, of course, so the last month has been a more expensive one than usual, which I get. And I think I'm good with money, good with saving, and good with spending, too, so it's not like I'm looking to overhaul my financial life. Last year I managed to make a $7000 jump in my net worth, even with the shitty market and no extra academic giggery. It's just that sitting down and actually looking at my spending for January made me want to be a little bit more intentional and conscientious about it all. This is mostly just an experiment in doing a better job of making do with what I have, tackling something around the apartment if I find myself wanting to go shopping for home shit, and seeing how much money I can sock away so that I can eventually quit my job and start freelancing again. Yeah, I said it. If a college job is not forthcoming, which it may well NOT be given how things are going in academia and in the job market generally, I have to figure out how else to make money, and I don't really want to do it the way I've been doing it.
I have a summer festival teaching gig in the works but am still figuring out how it's going to jive with my desk job. More details on that when I have them. And I've applied for another college job, so right now I'm just keeping my fingers crossed that my materials get me, at the very least, a phone interview.
Oh yeah. I got to bike to work all week (took a break today) because of this weird, weird, springy weather, and I started Zumba on Wednesday (speaking of womansy). It was totally fun. Can't remember the last time I shimmied that much. Certainly never in a high school gym.
Saturday, January 28, 2012
Then I ended up eating dinner at IKEA again. I think I've gotten the $2 pizza combo there about 4 times in the last month or so, which makes 4 more Diet Pepsis than I've had in the last few years. But there is something soothing/entertaining to me about wandering around with a fountain soda and a mediocre slice in IKEA. It's only about 7 minutes from home, and I know where to park and how to sidestep the prescriptive traffic flow thing they have in the showroom, so I don't find it a stressful place to be. Also, I did have to make a return there, so I wasn't just going there to hang out. And I needed a frame because I finally bought this print after having my eye on it for years:
Naturally, the frame is not the right size, and no stock frame will be, ultimately making this cheap poster not so cheap. For now it's uncurling on a trousers hanger and may just stay that way. I love it.
Anyway, I guess I'll have to take the frame back, but I'll wait until I have another cafeteria pizza jones. At this point I'm just feeding my gut whatever it wants. I had food poisoning or a grody virus earlier this week, and spent many of the wee hours of Tuesday doing what I have come to call "barfshitting." It's where you're sitting on the john with a bucket in your lap and you are fully utilizing both receptacles. It was horrible. I still don't feel like I've had a normal food day since then, so, you know, IKEA pizza ahoy!
The weather here continues to be weird and unbelievable. I had two good biking days last week, though there were wild flurries on one of those days. Monday it's supposed to be 40 bloomin' degrees! The lowest predicted high for the next ten days is 31. That plus the sky staying light well after 5--well, it's just the nicest winter ever, unless you like snow, or doing stuff in the snow.
I gotta go to bed because tomorrow is a long day of singing that starts at 8 AM. Just checking in, and trying to get back into the blogging habit.
Wednesday, January 18, 2012
Tuesday, January 17, 2012
They're a pair of Swedish sisters who basically do straight-up Americana. Oh, good old Swedes. This is the song I heard on the radio recently, which led me to spotify to hear more:
It's good stuff. I should probably start a sibling band, right? I have enough of them. And one of them's in a band already.
Also, I have to admit that this song has been in my head constantly for a month:
Whoever arranged it was ace. I love the instrumentation, and how moody it all is. I don't even care that the song is depressing and that Lana Del Rey is probably bullshit and that her singing is totally unemotional and she has about one zillion hits on youtube. I still dig it.
I continue to be obsessed with Robyn's album, and just recently watched the "Call Your Girlfriend" video for the first time. Have you seen this? It's just her, dancing in a gym, in a single take. She is just the coolest person of all time, the end.
I'm also digging The Belle Brigade (recommended for fans of the New Pornographers and, like, Fleetwood Mac?).
In the last few months I've listened to a lot of Fitz and the Tantrums, Marshall Crenshaw (remember him??), Lykke Li, Best Coast, Syreeta, and Nouvelle Vague, among others. And, um, did I mention that I bought a ticket to see Bjork in NYC in February? I AM GOING TO SEE BJORK. AT LAST. I have only been a fan for 20 years. And seeing her in Iceland is on my ultimate to-do list, but I'm thinking New York will suffice, and I can just go to Iceland separately (also on that list). I'm thrilled to be visiting NYC, too; it's been about 6 years, and for many years of my life I was there several times a year. Plus! I will get to see friends. And BJOOOOORRRRRK.
Excuse me, I have to go start sewing my costume now.
ETA: Rumer is fabulous.
Friday, January 13, 2012
So anyway, I have a pinboard that's full of plausible and some implausible haircolors, if you're interested. I tried to focus on people with dark eyes/brows and more olive-y skin tones because those are harder to find and more like me.
Then I went crazy doing my nails for a stretch and started collecting manicures on pinterest too. Then my nails fell apart and because of all the packing and the cardboard and the moving they fell apart more, so nail polish and I are on a break. Do you have a solution for that too? I'm taking biotin supplements, wearing gloves when I wash dishes, and trying to keep them suckers moisturized generally, but they persist in flaking. So the nail art is temporarily on hold, which is too bad because I have a LOT of supplies.
Oh hell, just go ahead and follow all my boards, if you're over there. I don't think it's the best designed site in the entire universe (why can't I block certain results/people?), but for the way I want to use it, it works pretty well.
We have a three day weekend here and I am hoping to use part of it to catch up on sleep. I have been all night-owly this week, but still getting up for work, so I'm running a small deficit over here. Last night I went out to Hipshaker, a periodic (monthly maybe?) vintage soul/R & B dance party, with my sister Molly and a couple of friends. It was a great reason to stay up too late and get all sweated up on the dance floor, but I am paying for it a bit today. Fortunately, my happy hour co-conspirator and I both just came to the conclusion that we would rather skip it, so I can take a disco nap before I meet sister Emily to hear this fellow, Adam Svec. You can listen to his whole recent album at the bandcamp site, and it is good.
Happy weekending y'all.
Tuesday, January 03, 2012
There were some shake ups in December. The biggest one is that the Brit and I have separated. I won't be talking about that here, for obvious reasons. But I will probably be talking about things like living in box chaos or decorating my apartment, and just life on my own, and the separation is the reason for that. It's a sad time but we are doing our best.
Next is that I finished my doctorate. I did my final defense on December 15, and officially graduated on the last business day of the month. Practically, nothing has really changed. But I am hoping that whatever space the unfinished business was taking up in my brain is now freed up for new endeavors. Also I hope I get a job in my field, but that was always true.
I'll try to get back to more regular updates in the near future, but for now I have this garment rack I have to assemble and a paint sample to slap on the wall. Happy New Year, everyone!