Sunday, May 26, 2013

Time to get ill. Apparently.

I had the delight of a super-long weekend to look forward to, so naturally I woke up Saturday feeling crappy and spent the entire day on the couch, watching Harry Potter movies and eating toast, with a wee break to go attend to some cat-sitting duties. Today is going to be much the same. The universe is obliging me, in a sense, by providing intense napping weather: cool, gray, rain threatening to fall. Imagine the insult added to injury if it were beautiful and sunny and warm outside, the way you want Memorial Day weekend to be! I've got two more days for my health to improve so I can at least enjoy a little bit of my time off, and get out and ride my bike or something.

Netflix is also obliging me by releasing Arrested Development today. Huzzah!

I took Winnie B to the vet on Friday--it was as good an excuse as any to bug out of work early--and I think I have to not go back to that vet. It's too dang far away and I probably passed 20 good vets on the way there. It's just the place that works with the rescue organization where I got Winnie, so they've seen her twice already AND see lots of stressed out cats and probably a wide variety of health conditions, and I find that reassuring. But my poor buddy was freaking out and panting in the car the whole way there and it's at least a half hour drive, and I don't want to do that to her again. Ugh. Anyway, I've been suspecting that my girl has asthma. I still suspect that, but the vet basically said that there's not enough to go on to make a diagnosis at this point or even to order a chest x-ray, that Winnie's lungs and heart sound fine (despite Winnie's strenuous objections to being towel-restrained and stethoscoped), which is good news, and that the random rapid breathing I've noticed has nothing to do with asthma and is probably just part of what's normal for this particular cat.

So, I don't know that I have any new information, but I am somewhat reassured, and at least feel like a better pet caretaker for having gone in. And Winnie rebounded from the experience within like 5 minutes of being home.

Somehow last week was incredibly long, despite having the long weekend ahead. Last weekend at this time, for example, I was recovering--and I do mean that--from my friend G's memorial service, and that seems incredible to me, that it was just a week ago that we all finally gathered to celebrate and mourn her. She died in mid-April, after electing to remove the PICC line that was providing all of her nutrition--she never did learn how to eat again after the esophageal cancer diagnosis of two years ago or so. It was a shitty way to go, a long decline flat on her back in a nursing home bed, holding onto every last one of her marbles in a place where most of the residents were older than her and dealing with varying degrees of dementia. I didn't visit her as often as I should have, or as often as I could have, and I'm guessing everyone who knew and loved her feels exactly the same way. But we got the chance to say all the right stuff to each other before she died, and I'm grateful for that, and I hope it gave her some peace while she struggled with the decision to let go.

So a month passed between her death and the memorial service, and because of that it really didn't hit me until we had everyone together and were all talking about her, you know? Her last remaining brother came up from TX with his family and I had forgotten how much he looks like her--it knocked the wind out of me, actually, because you think you won't see those features again, and then there they are, on someone else, that twinkle and goodwill shining out from brown eyes instead of blue. I also had to sing two pieces in the middle of the service, and that was as hard as you might expect, but we chose them carefully--nothing with so many difficult emotional associations that you can hardly get through it in the best of times, for example--and placed them carefully, before most of the eulogizing. And I don't know what happened--it's not professionalism or anything like that--I can only call it grace because when it was time to stand up and sing and be a conduit for what everyone else was feeling, I just did it, without shutting myself off from the proceedings (this is one way to get through singing at funerals) and without breaking down myself, despite breakdowns before and after the singing.

There was one somewhat uncanny experience that I really couldn't talk about until I was done singing, and I honestly don't know if I've said anything about it yet. One of the songs we chose, Roger Quilter's setting of "Weep You No More, Sad Fountains," was ideal because I hadn't performed it before--so it came with no specific emotional baggage for me--but it was evidently something G had sung quite a lot throughout her career, with R at the piano. R has been my pianist for 15 years now, and we work together much the same way that she worked with G: by listening to each other in the moment, rather than discussing and dissecting and planning out how a thing is going to go. It's good musical chemistry, is what it is.

Anyway, all this is to say that R knew how G used to sing this piece, and so the first time we went through it in rehearsal, I was hearing and feeling in R's playing the old grooves that come from practice and repeat performances with the same person: the flex of the musical line, the subtle shifts in tempo and dynamics, the phrasing were all just as G used to do them. I knew this and could hear it plainly even though we didn't discuss it. And so as I was singing it was as though I had learned the piece from G, or had been coached on it in her studio, or really that she was singing it with my voice, and I had to get a grip right quick and not think about it, or find a way to let go of it so I could let it happen and not be overwhelmed by it. It was a weird experience that repeated itself when it was time to sing in the service too. It was stranger, and more difficult, than singing the other piece--which I did study with G, which was commissioned by her and written for her and dedicated to her and premiered by her, and therefore full of associations of our work together and her singing career.

Well. There's a lot more I could say about our relationship, but suffice it to say that it was one of the most important ones of my life. I am so relieved that she is not suffering anymore, but it's no wonder I've still got a grief hangover.

She was an incredible singer who had already stopped singing by the time I met her (thanks to her first cancer diagnosis and treatment). You can hear some of what made her so remarkable on spotify, though it's just a tiny representation of the breadth of her career, and of her talent.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Bits and bobs.

I'm sure I've used that post title before.

 It was 90-something degrees yesterday. There was frost over the weekend. Who else is tired of climate change? When I saw the forecast for Tuesday I ordered an air conditioner in anticipation. Last summer I just sucked it up, but this year I have a very furry beastie living with me and I really don't want to subject her to extreme heat.

 I had a photoshoot on Monday night with a friend who's expanding his photography side biz into headshots. I went in with no plan and a bottle of wine and now there are a lot of terrible shots of me putting my hands in my hair and looking like he just instructed me to do that very thing, and then a bunch of me dancing around like a jackass, and some that look like your friendly realtor who shops at Eileen Fisher (not the look I'm trying to rock, FYI), and one of me in a tight red dress walking like an Egyptian. Plus others that are not so comical. Hopefully we'll be able to locate a couple of useful ones in the midst of all the ridiculousness. It was fun, regardless. Every time I do something like that these days I have this fleeting sense of "this might be the last time I look this good," which I do realize is stupid, and just means I'm sopping up what the world is telling me about being a lady who is getting older.

Anyway, once some good-enough shot has been lightly retouched for public viewing, I will share it here. 

Who has shopped for a new (used) car recently? Am I the only person who is totally overwhelmed by this? I have it narrowed down to like 4 models now and I need to start test-driving but I am scared of dealerships, even the ones with good reviews. I made a conscious decision to kind of stop fixing stuff on my current hoopty because of impending new car purchase, and I need to buy something before that decision backfires all over me. When my car got towed a couple weeks ago the idea of just leaving it at the impound lot did flit through my brain. Haha. For one thing, the AC compressor went out last summer and I just had them disconnect it from the fan. I'm not going to drive an oven again this summer.

I'm also getting a kayak, I've decided. There's a free try-before-you-buy kind of thing happening after work at the next lake over, so I'm going to go to that and then probably just find something on craigslist. An inflatable thing, most likely, so I can throw it in the back of whatever car I eventually buy.

I finally had a diet Dr P today after several days of jonesing, and now I am awash in chemical regret.

Wednesday, May 08, 2013


This video is incredible and the song is incredible. Major, major new artist. You probably didn't hear it here first, but I'm going to say it for the record anyway.

This video is awful, but I love the song. I heard it at Crate and Barrel, which is about right, don't you think?

Hiatus Kaiyote, inscrutable name aside, is another major musical talent. It hits me in the Venn diagram intersection of Bjork, neo-soul, and opera ripoffs.

Now even if you've ignored the rest of the post, just stop whatever you're doing and watch the majesty that is Janelle Monae if you haven't seen this yet.

Friday, May 03, 2013

Vacation all I ever wanted.

This week has presented me with a host of re-entry problems after a VERY FINE long weekend in Chicago. The number one problem is the weather, or the fucking weather, if you want me to get more specific about it. Today is May 3 and it was snowing, SNOWING, when I left the house this morning. On Wednesday we were all in a tizzy because of a predicted 6-9-15 or howevermany inches of snow. SE of here, people were indeed treated to an unwelcome / ridiculous / recordbreaking snow dump that somehow completely missed us. I'm grateful to have been spared but still irritated about the entire thing and am probably still carrying the psychological weight of that forecast. It's May. MAY. It's May, y'all. On Tuesday it was warm! I was wearing a stupendous warm-weather outfit! Sandals! This morning it was 32 F!

I've just completely had it with climate change and the roller coaster it's causing.

Plus, my car was towed on Wednesday. What's worse, I think, is that I happened to stroll by my front window as it was being lifted on the truck, so that I was struck with sudden panic. By the time I ran outside (barefoot, pajama-clad, bed-headed) into the wet 40 degree morning, the truck was down the block and I was impotent to change anything. I didn't rage or cry or break shit, though all would have been perfectly logical reactions. I just heaved a sigh and changed my plans.

So I biked to work where I had a good scone and a terrible day and left early to ride my bike to the impound lot. En route, some jokester jackass pedestrian pretend-jumped in front of my bike with his arms raised and then giggled like he'd done something hilarious and I had to yell "NOT COOL DUDE" in a monster voice, which is just what came out of my mouth involuntarily. We were on an isolated bike/walk path, by the way, and someone jumping at my bike in such a circumstance tops the list of bike-related fears that I don't really let myself contemplate.

I also saw a turkey pacing frantically in front of a fence, like it was looking for a way to get to the other side, and I found the sight really depressing. Poor dumb turkey.

Anyway, people working at the impound lot are really nice, which is surprising when you consider the emotional state of most of the folks retrieving their impounded cars. Once I was home and hot-showered and fed and napping on the couch, the horizon opened up a crack and blazed a suntrail across the lake, so I went out to get some serenity and was rewarded with the sight of four pelicans cruising on the lake and a sunset that got spectacular after the sun was down. Small compensation, but I'll take it. I'd never seen pelicans in the city before, and the next day they were gone.

Work is also chapping my tender hide, but that's nothing new.

So, Chicago. Why don't I go there more often, like at least once a year? It's so dumb. If I'm flying solo I have a place to stay now, and I am perfectly happy just wandering around a city, walking miles and miles until I see an interesting shop or bar to go into. I put a lot of miles on my Fryes over the weekend, man, traversing many neighborhoods on foot. I bought some crazy/stupid (yet versatile/comfortable!) shoes at City Soles, I got a dress and a perfect spring sweater at a resale shop, I petted some Fluevogs, I bought some great prints at a gallery (where we'd randomly stopped off and witnessed the premiere of the shortest of short animations the first night in town) and had them shipped to me like a fancy lady. We went into some truly grotty thrift stores. We had MANY a delicious cocktail. I ate unreal vegan meats, finally knocking the Chicago Diner off my list (thrice, actually). I howled and wept with laughter; I both chatted flippantly and went deep with my friends. We saw the goddamn Lemonheads in concert at Lincoln Hall. The Lemonheads, y'all! Evan Dando! Sassy magazine's favorite boyfriend of like 1991! The concert was one of those spontaneous decisions that turns out to be The Perfect Thing. We had beers and bounced along in a great, unexpected 90s reverie and we ate burritos at 11:30 PM and went home early like old people.

I connected with a bunch of ladies I love. I packed almost perfectly (note to self: you can always use one more pair of lounge pants on vacation). I had easy airport experiences. We had a great airbnb rental. It was just good. Good good good. Vacation. It's good for you. It'll be awhile before I can take another but I'm going to work on more long weekends doing fun stuff in the future.

Meanwhile, Winnie was home hissing at my lovely, dedicated catsitters, which is a little sad. But she was psychologically undamaged and beside herself with joy when I got home, which made me feel irreplaceable. It was still warm at that point, so I opened all the windows and delighted in watching her lose her shit racing from window to window to SNIFF ALL THE THINGS. And of course, she is a cozy buddy when it is cold and shitty outside.

Good weather's coming back next week. Hopefully my attitude will return with it. Happy weekending, y'all.