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The end of an era has come, and I grieve a bit for what Livejournal was.

It was what many of us did when Usenet ended, but before Facebook took over social media. It was many people's first fandom platform, and most important connection to others. But it's over now.

Starting at the first of the year I took the trouble to delete every individual entry, and also took the time to review much of my writing over my LJ years. It was sometimes sad to see comments and discussions with friends who are now gone (may their memories be a blessing); it was also joyful to read of good times past. After deleting all the entries I deleted my account (and thereby every comment I'd made on other journals).

I'm glad we have Dreamwidth.


Apr. 10th, 2017 08:40 pm
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I saw a pair of crows this weekend, harvesting twigs from the tree off my balcony. I say harvesting because they were quite intentionally peeling twigs from the branches and flying off with them, then coming back for more.

We have some pre-popped popcorn in the house and I scattered a few kernels on the balcony railing (the top rail is a 2x4 board wide enough to serve as a bird/squirrel feeder) and the crows were very happy. I've put a few out each morning and watched them collect the feed.

The hummingbirds are still actively defending the feeder. I haven't seen the Steller's jays in a while, though.
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A long time ago (more than 45 years) I read a book I was really too young to appreciate. It was Robert A. Heinlein's Stranger in a Strange Land, and while I rejected some of it, a lot of it stuck with me and along with other books influenced how I perceived life and social interactions, and how I formed a theory of what life was and what my life should be. One passage in particular that has stuck with me was about a sculpture by Rodin. That sculpture isn't named in the book, but it is described as a caryatid who has been pushed down by the weight of the rock she is supporting, and as a metaphor for the human condition: for a parent dying of cancer but staying at work long enough to ensure the family's stability, a first responder rushing toward danger instead of away, every human being who works on despite defeat. For many reasons I identified strongly with this passage.

Yesterday my son and I went to a touring show of Rodin's work at the art museum. I've actually seen a lot of Rodin; the Maryhill Museum is an easy day trip from here and has one of the largest collections of Rodin outside of Paris. There are castings of the Thinker and other major works, plus plaster studies and watercolors. But this touring show has pieces I've only read about. So we walked through the doors and there on the left, slightly larger than life-size, was the caryatid.

The caryatid I've read about so many times and only imagined: I never searched for a photograph because I wanted to preserve my initial reaction to reading about it, and then to someday experience it with my own eyes, walking around and examining details. I didn't know it was part of this exhibit! I was startled and suddenly my eyes welled up. My son asked what was wrong, and I tried to explain. Eventually we noticed that all the art was identified by a plaque on the nearest wall: not on the display stands, not on the floor, no looking down-there at approximate eye level was a plaque about each sculpture.

But this one had two plaques! It was the only piece that did. It had a second plaque explaining the Heinlein and quoting the paragraphs from Stranger, so I had my son read it and we shared the experience. And everyone who goes to see the famous sculptures has a chance to learn something that I thought I shared only with other readers and fans of Heinlein's work.
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I don't care about the calendar or the meteorological date: it is spring because there are bugs flying about, accidentally approaching my nose and eyes.

Luck charm

Feb. 25th, 2017 03:42 pm
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So the satisfying phone call from my sister was unfortunately followed a little while later by another phone call from her that was much less pleasant. It was downright demoralizing. While it is still good to hear my memories confirmed and acknowledged, she shared some things I did not previously know about her portion of our childhood that were appalling, and reminded me of some other things that I wish to forget and not suffer being re-traumatized by.

I did some self-care, slept well, and planned a good Saturday, including a walk in the early morning sun and breakfast out. After breakfast however, on the way out to do errands but before leaving the parking lot, the driver's side window on my car shattered with no provocation. Unfortunately this meant putting off the rest of the day's plans. After cleaning out the car a bit, and taking some time to recover from the excitement and do some research, I turned the car over to a shop to fix the window. And there went my plans for the weekend.

Sometimes I feel like the bad luck charm that drains bad luck out of the general field so others don't have it. While this thought is completely contrary to my general philosophy that there is no intent in the universe, just chaos, I nevertheless find it a comfort.
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My sister just called.

She just woke up from a dream, a dream in which we were little, picking blackberries in a steep crevice with railroad tracks running down it. The blackberries were so delicious, and she was picking and eating them, and she got mad at me when I put my hand out and told her to get back.

When she awoke she remembered/realized that what I was doing was getting her off the tracks because I could hear the train coming. And it was an amazing change in her emotional response to me. She had always thought that I was just mean to her all the time when we were growing up. But now she reinterprets those mean times as times I was trying to help her.

So she called to tell me this. And I am glad. I was 6 or 7, and she was 4 or 5. So for 50 years she has thought I was mean to her all throughout our childhood. It's a little late to realize that I was saving her, over and over again, that maybe I was not the mean bitch she's always thought I was.

She used to hit me. She'd take my things and give them to her friends. She was dismissive and insulting verbally. She thought I deserved it. It's also what was modeled by our mother-I was not valued, loved, or even respected as a child.

So now she's in a place in her life where she can revisit her memories and see them from an adult perspective, and she shared that with me. It's maybe 50 years late, and I really could have used some supportive family for those 50 years, but eh. It's still nice to hear.
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I have a hummingbird feeder. I also put out a pie pan with a pile of pumpkin guts and seeds, and another with water. Just now I saw two hummingbirds fighting over the feeder and a pair of Steller's Jays, one watchful on the balcony rail while the other plucked pumpkin seeds out of the pile and then they flew off to a nearby tree branch, set down the pumpkin seeds, and started pecking at them.

The sky is full of grey light, pale thin clouds drifting over watery blue. The aforementioned tree still has many goldy-green leaves on it--but not that tree's leaves, they are leaves on a parasitic vine that also has dandelion-like hairy seed puffs the size of my fist all over it.

Autumn is nearly turned to winter. We might have snow tomorrow, not to stick but just to fall and decorate the view.


Nov. 23rd, 2016 09:52 am
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I did karaoke for the first time last night! It was a birthday celebration for two coworkers. I work early hours so went home for a quick dinner and to pick up the car (I take public transit to work) before meeting everyone at the karaoke place. I added a few songs to the queue, but then noticed that my coworkers’ music choices were vastly different than mine and deleted some of my picks. As it turned out nobody had heard the first song I chose to sing and only one person had heard the second—Alexander Hamilton! (Which I totally nailed.) I also sang a duet with another coworker, who sings in a local choir.

This ticks two boxes for me: I’ve wanted to try karaoke for years, and I want to be more social now that my marriage is over. I had a great time! I sing for my own pleasure, I don’t think I’m a great singer but I do sing loudly and with enthusiasm, and I really enjoyed sitting around with acquaintances, listening to other people sing, and eating the munchies various people ordered. Don’t know why it has never occurred to me to grate parmesan cheese onto tater tots, it definitely works.

This morning I thanked the organizer and told her I really look forward to doing it again.
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TW for child abuse, self harm, intrusive thoughts, suicide attempts.

Jude and his 3 college dorm mates are good friends; they struggle to become successful adults and find supportive relationships.

If this had been a novel of slow, even less-than-complete, recovery from childhood trauma, it would be a masterpiece. Instead, the hopes raised by the incredible authorial voice, the beautiful language, the skillful transition from one character to the next, the complex and fascinating development of the individuals, just tease you to go deeper into the dungeon of dismay and distress at the core, and the end, of this tragedy of a book. No better prescription could be written for a person who is currently happy but wants to become depressed enough, hopeless enough, exhausted enough, to decide to end their life.

I had a rough childhood, though nowhere as rough as Jude's; and my therapist many years later told me that not everything can be healed, that you have to choose to go on living and hoping and finding good in life even with a bandaged wound. This book is a brick in the head against that idea, discouraging any possibility of recovery and continuing life after tragedy.

If there are people who need to learn empathy because their lives have been too easy, too happy, too fulfilling, too rich with love and compassion and experience, then let them read this book. For the rest of us, we already know anything helpful this book might teach.

[Substance of this review also posted at]
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The last five years have passed like a dream and a nightmare.

I was depressed, I had intrusive thoughts on a daily basis, I was in pain, I was disabled. I had a horrible illness/injury, and went through multiple surgeries to repair and recover as much as possible. Things happened in my family that are not my story to tell but affected me greatly and negatively. And my marriage was not strong; we didn't so much break down as mutually discover that it had never really worked the way we thought, the way we wanted.

I spent a lot of time living only for each day, focusing on making it through one day because that was all I could handle. I felt powerless to move my life past the day I was in, dealing with the challenges and emotions of that day.

Gradually things have gotten better. I'm healing, I'm doing more things and thinking better. The intrusive thoughts have diminished in frequency and are easier to dismiss when they occur. The slow wind-down of my marriage relationship is leading me to different possibilities for the future, the opportunity to make different choices.

I'm ready to take my life off hold. It's not going to work like an on/off switch; very few things in life do! But I'm sliding the bar further away from "just get through today" a little bit at a time. I can imagine a future; I have hopes and goals and plans. I am ready to walk out of this room I've lived in for the last five years and find my future.


Oct. 1st, 2016 04:04 pm
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Tomorrow at sundown we begin the Days of Awe with a celebration of the New Year, Rosh Hashanah. As is my custom, I hereby grant forgiveness to anyone that asks it of me and also ask that if I have harmed you, please forgive me and if you can, let me know how to do better in the future.
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I've started weight lifting. Details behind cut in case it triggers you.

Read more... )
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I don't like Facebook.

I don't like the control it takes over the news you see (whether personal news from family and friends or local and international news about other people). I don't like the requirement to show legal id for your name...but apparently that's changed, they have a way they will verify you by showing you photos and you supplying names for those people. I don't like the way everyone you know (coworkers, friends of friends, people you buy things from) all want to be Facebook connected. I like forgetting about work when I leave the office: most of the people I work with don't share my hobbies and I don't share theirs, we are not friends, we are FRIENDLY.

I would say that I don't like Facebook tracking me all over the internet, but I don't object to Google doing it.

And I have a goal: I want to make more local friends and have more of a local social life, now that I am coming out of my long national nightmare of health problems, and getting divorced. I'm afraid that Facebook might be the most effective way to accomplish that.

Apparently everybody plans things on Facebook now. They plan their birthday celebrations, the weekly trivia night at the local bar, a trip to the park for a festival, the day at the beach...all on Facebook. I'm missing a lot of opportunities because I don't have Facebook.

So, internet ax-murderer friends: what are your thoughts on whether I should join Facebook? After all, I can always quit if it's not working.
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Had a great day at the beach yesterday with my sons and my grandchildren. It was sunny and warm (for here, mid 60s F) with a breeze that was almost cold once you were off the hot sand. Of course the water was cold-it's always cold, and it's colder in the summer than winter (we get a warm current off the coast in the winter).

We all got there around 10 am, set up our spot with 3 sand blankets, 3 camp chairs, cooler, and our newest prize: a shade structure. It's like a tent, made with high SPF fabric, but it doesn't close on all sides so you can get a view and a breeze if you want while still sitting in the shade. It was very effective and sometimes we'd sit a chair or two in it and the grandkids would sit at our feet or lie down on the tarp floor for a rest.

We'd packed a cooler with lunch makings and snacks, and lots of water and ice. Grapes, cherries, crackers, ham, cheese, hummus, brownies and lemon bread, and so forth. We walked down to the water and along the water's edge half-a-dozen times, threw stones in, picked up shells to examine and discuss, flew kites and read books and talked. We watched people catching crabs, and throwing balls into the water for their dogs to fetch, and kayaking.

Just before we were all too tired to pack up, we packed up. And went to the restaurant at the edge of the parking lot for dinner before we got in our cars and headed home.

It was a good day. I will remember this good day.
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This is a safe place if you want to talk about a father who doesn't or didn't deserve to be celebrated. My father is one such.
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I'm going through some changes, including relationship-wise. I am creating a filter for that, which is opt-in. Comment if you want to be on that filter, and please respect my privacy by not reposting anything from that filter.
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In an article at The Atlantic Neal Gabler cites:
In a 2010 report titled “Middle Class in America,” the U.S. Commerce Department defined that class less by its position on the economic scale than by its aspirations: homeownership, a car for each adult, health security, a college education for each child, retirement security, and a family vacation each year. By that standard, my wife and I do not live anywhere near a middle-class life, even though I earn what would generally be considered a middle-class income or better. A 2014 analysis by USA Today concluded that the American dream, defined by factors that generally corresponded to the Commerce Department’s middle-class benchmarks, would require an income of just more than $130,000 a year for an average family of four. Median family income in 2014 was roughly half that.

Worth reading the entire article.
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There is a sense in which I could claim to be self-made, to have gotten where I am only by my own achievements, to have boostrapped my way out of poverty. That sense is that no one person helped me. I didn't have a family member, coach, teacher, counselor, pastor, or friend who spotted my potential when I was young and then encouraged and helped me fulfill that potential. Nobody made me a small loan that made all the difference, or let me crash with them for a few weeks, or paid my rent while I took an unpaid internship. Hell, nobody even told me I had potential!

And yeah, any of those things would have made a huge difference in my life. Trump talks about the small loan (of a million dollars!) that started his business; there was a time when a loan of just $10,000 would have made my life different, but there was literally no one in my life who could lend me that money, even though I had a job and could have paid it back in a timely fashion. There was one week, right after I got divorced, when I mistakenly paid a bunch of bills without keeping back grocery money, and I did have a friend who rescued me that one time by buying me a week's worth of groceries. And that matters (I mean, I still remember how panicked I was and I am still grateful for that save) but it was a one-week cash flow problem and could have been solved by going to a food pantry.

But I don't think of myself as self-made or as having bootstrapped myself out of poverty, because the only reason I made it the small distance I did is because we have a society that lays the foundation, and that foundation is paid for by other people in the community. I had the advantage of free school lunch, of free public school, of low-cost public transit, of jobs protected by laws so I was safe and paid a living wage; landlords couldn't discriminate against me when I tried to rent an apartment. And yes, I worked hard and spent a lot of time worried about the future (still do).

And even if I did make my own success, nobody should have to live like I did; nobody should have to be that anxious all the time, and work that hard, and only just barely survive even so.
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Matt Fraction, a comic book author and a fav of mine, writes about whether and how knowing about the problematic aspects of an artist affects how we view their art:

It’s harder when the art elaborates and elevates the shitbaggedness of the artist.


People are complex. Art should be too. I don’t know who any of us are to judge people based on persona and performance alone. And yet, and yet and yet and yet. Pablo Picasso put a cigarette out on françois gillot’s cheek. He beat Dora marr unconscious. Then he painted Guernica.

Guernica I love to spend time with; Picasso not so much. What we can do is change how we talk about it – about Picasso, about Guernica, about painting and painters (artists, period) and art itself. We have to.

I draw my line when I feel like the art enables, excuses, or justifies the abhorrent? Allen, Crumb, are perfect examples. I care about that shit too much to just not care.
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Went back to work last Thursday; very tired, very low energy, other symptoms. Saw my allergy doc today, who reports that nearly all her patients have a long-lasting upper respiratory virus/infection, and because we have asthma and/or allergies, it's taking even longer to heal than it does for people without a chronic issue. However, I am scheduled for a CT scan just to make sure nothing else is going on.

I am tired of being sick and sick of being tired.


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