Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Home 18: Library (last but certainly not least)

At least I don't have to sleep in the closet to have room for the library.  (I actually wouldn't have minded doing that, and it could still be a possibility if I try to adopt and end up with siblings.)  Anyway, the library has a terrible fake-wood floors that have seen many, many better days, walls of a bold (ugly) shade of yellow, and random kanji characters stenciled about in red and black.  The curtains are brown, and I moved a set of shades in to cut out light.  Speaking of light, there is some haphazard track lighting on one side of the room, so one blank wall is hazily illuminated. Since I had no money left over for paint, I'm glad that the general  hideousity of the room is mostly hidden because the library has, unsurprisingly, an embarrassing  number of bookshelves packed nearly to the ceiling with books and some DVDs.  The maximum number of containers is already here, so this is the size my library cannot outgrow from this time forth.  Seriously.  Really, really.

This is where the anime and manga live, along with a few American comics.  There is a file cabinet and a glider rocking chair I bought from a man at a retirement home after his wife died and he couldn't bear to see it anymore.  (Don't ask me to tell my stupid story about washing the cushions when I got it.  I have learned and moved on.)  I've covered the rocking chair in a pretty sheet with pointless but pretty scrolling embroidery.  (It came that way; I didn't put it there.)

There is also a small closet.  I call it my Poetry Closet.  It is where my writing from my undergraduate and MFA program lives (including the two massive binders of my finished thesis, annotated with all the grammar and spelling corrections I've found throughout the years since I turned it in and my committee complimented me for it being 450 pages and still being so carefully proofread as to contain no errors, hahahahaha), along with most of my reference and class books from that time period.  It's also where the CDs live right now until they get a shelf of their own that is glassed in, so I can put it in the allergy-free zone of my bedroom.  The closet door is currently prevented from closing by all my journals from the time I started classes in 2003.  (I am currently on approximately #53.)

Once I finish with all the other unpacking and sorting and get things moved around (and find a cheap glider ottoman), this will be a favorite room, especially in the winter when the window seat will not be fit for occupation.  Until then, I'm so glad it's finally here!!!!

Home 17: The Study

It's taking shape slowly.  It's a dining room by design with an obnoxious  and somewhat ugly chandelier that a kind friend clamped out of the way so that nobody had to lose an eye.  This is where the oversized fiction (alpha by author) and much of the remaining nonfiction (sorted by topic / subject matter) live.  It's where my functional, cobbled-together standing desk is.  It is the future home of a window seat, if I can make that happen.  (Step 1: get gutter put on above window to prevent more window frame leprosy; Step 2: get leprous window and frame replaced; Step 3: figure out how to cobble together the perfect window seat on the cheap.)

There are some files in cabinets and boxes, which I shall eventually neatly conceal under the desk.   The window is covered with a large, double-folded sheet of white, tulle-like polyester (abandoned to me by a former roommate) that lets in a lovely diffuse light while giving privacy at night with no need to open or close anything, including the window, which is missing the screen due to the window leprosy mentioned above.

I am trying to make it its own separate and calm-feeling space (for me and to make friends who don't feel comfortable with clutter more comfortable).  There is a shoji screen blocking the backside of my MacGyver desk from the larger space and some little cubbies with doors hiding their contents.  There will be more screens that I will prop in front of the bookshelves to hide them from view when not needed.  The remaining floor space is big enough for an air mattress (or a pullout cough component to my magical imaginary window seat).  When it's done, it will be black and white and full of diffuse light supplemented by the high-chandelier light.

There is a cutout from the kitchen.  I'm not sure if I will set up some see-through curtains or a half-height shoji screen in front of the kitchen opening to block out the pink and preserve the simple effect I'm going for.

I've kept the long diagonal lines of sight through the dining / living room open, so it makes the while place feel a bit bigger than it is.  It's functional but cluttered at the moment.  We'll call it good.

Home 16: Kitchen

It's pink.  Sigh.  I think it's slightly darker red pink than the intestinal brownish-pink of the bathroom.  The cabinets are a distressing shade of sort of creamy off-white.  My sister found it all rather ugly.  I cannot deny this, but I reveled in having more space then the 3x5 area in my old place.  There's a bit more counter and cabinet space and a lot more light.  There is a cutout facing the window in the study, so it gets some light from there during the day.  It has a backsplash that was the only DIY non-disaster, as far as I can tell.  I will one day (hopefully soon) paint the pink some sort of lovely blue that will somehow match the backsplash.

For now, I enjoy having a dishwasher, a non-leaking faucet, a fridge with a real freezer (even though I can't seem to get the fridge above 20 degrees), and a stove that still technically works despite missing the handle to open and close it and being a bit off in terms of temperature.  The toaster oven is my new best friend and covers a multitude of oven sins.

Overall, I might wish it had a fan that actually vented outside instead of into my face and more space or just not the fake dropped ceiling, so I could store some stuff up there above the cabinets instead and leave more space open on the counters.  If I get that whacked out, I'll have less to paint, too, but I'm sure that's costly and dusty, so I don't know if I should plan on it ever happening.  It's good to be able to use a kitchen again, and I'm already eating healthier as a result.

Home 15: Living Room

It has an oddly shaped, sloped ceiling that gives it a feeling of being bigger than it is but slightly crooked.  It is painted a bright and glorious white to try to boost the indirect light coming only from the north.  There are tall, white curtains covering the doors to the deck.  There is a dark blue yukata from my sister on the wall that leads to the hallway.  My painting (given to be by a former roommate) is in the random nook.  Around the nook are Christmas pictures from friends and family.  (The nook will be even nicer when I am able to clean off the clutter.)

There's a sofa cast off from a retirement home, a discarded Best Buy break room couch, my lovely rocking recliner (given to me by friends), an ancient television on a cheap, rickety stand, and the mass market paperback fiction.  Furniture is covered in black, blue, or green covers and blankets and pillows in blacks, blues, and greens (and a bit of white).  There's a matching rummage sale coffee table and end table with an ancient rummage sale lamp.  There are two Borders CafĂ© rescue chairs  beneath a small pull-out table attached to the wall nearest the kitchen with a beautiful deep geen haori (traditional Japanese kimono jacket) displayed high above it (also a gift).  There is also a huge, ugly Schwinn Airdyne (see part 5), a cheap, foldable stair climber, and a balance ball, but pretend those are invisible.

And there is the accent wall.  Oh, the accent wall.  I knew I would be painting the dark walls (russet red, mustard, and dark gray when I moved in) white to amplify the limited and indirect light, so I wanted one wall that was a color that I found lovely.  I looked at a lot of paint chips, laughed at a lot of paint color names, and eventually chose a beautiful rich green with some blue in it.  My sister painted it when she came to help prep for moving in.  Her text to me after a long day explains why my text message box is always nearly full (I keep the funny ones): "long story short I might burn down your condo to hide my paint job accent wall disaster. redid many times. 1/2 still looks odd but not enough energy to care."

Home 14: Deck

There's a tree!  It's a deck!  It's big enough to put a hammock, trip on said hammock, and fall without smashing my face into any bars!  It gets very little direct sunlight and is aging, but at certain times, I can lie in the sun on it.  I will try to do that even more next year (while wearing proper sun protection mostly) to pursue my sun camel merit badge.  I might also have to rig up something to let the diagonal neighbors know when I'm up there, as my ninja powers seem to accidentally conceal me, leading to several very awkward overheard conversations that left me trapped on the deck in desperate need of a bathroom break but unwilling to announce that I'd been there all along while they talked about things they wouldn't have talked about had they known I was there.  I hope.  I mean, maybe they would have.  But I wouldn't have.

There are also dragonflies.

And then there was that time with the spider who built an invisible-in-the-indirect-light web across half the door only to end up with both of us scared half out of our wits after one of us blundered through it one summer morning, leaving me terrified of going out without first waving a sock-covered broom for weeks.

In conclusion: hammock, sunlight, dragonflies, WIN.

Home 13: The full bathroom

Maybe I should I have made the linen closet of doom #13, but I'm not thinking at my most clear.  Bathrooms can be scary, right?  We'll go with that.  Bathrooms redecorated by D-I-Y demons can be especially wacky.  From the weird sticky-caulk-y residue left behind after a failed attempt to attach a self-adhesive border to the shower seams to the missing baseboards to the too-tall-to-allow-things-to-be-plugged-into-both-outlets and not-quite-level, newish sink cabinet with the odd extra spaces around it and the not-completely-openable secret drawer at the bottom to the brownish-pink walls (this is what it looks like from the inside of your intestines) to the pinkish vinyl square floor badly laid over a somewhat disgusting tile floor to the inexplicably not-white floating cabinet with the poorly attached doors I can't use to the ugly fixturing (why would you want gold, silver, and bronze on everything anyway), this bathroom is, um, well, it's functional despite all the DIY disasters.  There is a heating vent, a bathtub that is old but not nearly as terrible as the one at my last place, and a fan that seems close to its last legs but does not moan like lost souls.  (See Part 7.)

Some day, I want it to be a clean blue-based and calming place.  If I can figure out a way to obtain a freestanding, claw foot tub to cram in there, that would be lovely.  Not sure if I want black or white fixtures of plastic to avoid rust and mold or something bronze like elsewhere.  I'd like the lights to be dimmable.  It will look like a whole new world not at all resembling the interior of the human body.  Some day.  Probably a long time from now, what with all the other actually necessary repairs.

At least the toilet is one of those ancient beasts that will flush anything down, not these new, delicate ones you can't trust if they are having a bad day.  And this one is attached to the floor.

Home 12: The Linen Closet of Doom

When last we left my linen closet, things were grim.    "August 4, 2014 · Anyone have good suggestions on how to clean out a linen closet that reeks of something that is not a dead animal in the attic, mold, or mildew? The plumber suggested painting it. My sister suggested gallons of bleach, pounds of baking soda, a young priest, an old priest, a crucifix, and some holy water. Your suggestion?"

Many good suggestions poured in when I turned to Facebook for help with what my visiting sister had dubbed the stankwood (TM) closet.  I tried the bleach and baking soda to no real effect until I realized the wood of the shelves themselves had absorbed the stench and were a total loss.  I got help to move them to the garage, which then stank abominably and confirmed our suspicions.  There was more baking soda and bleach and then a lot of Killz possibly followed by more white paint.  (Extra thanks to the friend who ended up wearing the white paint.)

The finishing touch was some unfinished cedar shelves (finding them and getting them cut correctly was an adventure in itself that I won't bore you with).  I reasoned that I would rather shell out more than I could afford and get the occasional splinter and have my clothing, towels, and sheets smell of the gerbils / guinea pigs of my hazy, best friend's pet container's cedar-shaving memories than risk the return of stankwood (TM).

So far, so good.

As an additional bonus, cedar planking either doesn't smell as strongly as cedar shavings, or my sense of smell is worse from my allergies and the 7 times I've broken my nose since that time in my childhood.  (Translation: apologies to anyone if it smells more cedar-y than I am leading you to believe.)

Some of my favorite suggested remedies from when I consulted Facebook are below.

  • Is the offending odor stuck in the floor, wall, etc? I've seen hazmat clean up on TV & they have rip things up to get rid of the stank.
  • There is a product called Kilz that helps with smell. I will ask a painter friend of mine, and try to get more info. Good luck, and if all else fails, you could become the quirky lady who cures meats in her closet. Charcuterie couldn't smell worse than what you've described! smile emoticon
  • your sister - wise beyond her yrs.: D
  • Save thousands on cedar lined cabinets and closets by storing some cedar shavings (pet or hardware store) to a cloth bag. Repels moths. Gel desiccant, the same packets found with new leather garments, keeps ambient moisture down to kill mold habitat. Activated charcoal works like baking soda because it is the most porous substance known, and traps odors (and all visible light). In a pinch, can be used to absorb toxins from some accidental poisonings. Just thought I'd share all that!

Home 11: The Hallway

It's been a while  since I've lived in a place big enough to have a hallway.  If I were still young, no doubt I would appreciate being able to climb the walls (my favorite thing about hallways when I was a kid).  The seller did some serious damage to it when moving out, so there are some weird dents and gouges that weren't there during the inspection, but it's been repainted a nice clean white to try desperately to make it a little brighter than the cave-like dark grey I think it was before.  For some reason, the hall light, which appears sized for two bulbs to make it nice and bright can only hold one, so it's still pretty dark.

My current favorite thing about the hall is that two different light switches operate that light.  You can turn it on from a switch by the bedrooms or one by the front door.  I don't know why this is so exciting to me, but I was really pleased about it.  Too bad we don't have any idea what that third light switch is supposed to do . . .

Last but not least, the hallway contains the closet formerly known as the Stankwood Closet ™.  More on that in a bit.

Home 10: Guest Bedroom

The title is a bit ambitions.  Right now it's where the odds and ends that have yet to be unpacked and the books that have yet to be sold or donated are squatting.  It has makeshift curtains (required by the Association rules) and some furniture.  I've cleared enough room that the air mattress can fit, and I have sheets and a blanket for it, so I'm ready for visitors.  Some day, I'd like to finish cleaning it up, move everything out, and maybe adopt a teenager (they have the hardest time getting placed in homes when they are up for adoption, and a sadly surprising number of them want a home with just a mom and not a dad).  I can't really do that until my health is better, so I'll be working on that in the coming years, too,  as I try to clean the room up more to make it ready for someone who needs it to add his or her own personality to it.

Home 9: Bedroom closet

Technically, I had a walk-in closet at my last apartment.  You could take at least one step in there, so I suppose it was technically a walk-in.  Sturdy and well-constructed it was not.  The cheap, do-it-yourself quality shelving and hanging rods collapsed more than once.  A walk-in closet was not really a requirement for me when I was house hunting (except when I was looking at 2-bedroom places and thinking I would sleep in the closet instead of wasting a whole room I couldn't put anything in due to allergies [see part 8]).

The "master bedroom walk-in" closet here did not inspire me.  It had all these shelves and things in it that made it too narrow to put any kind of bed, so I was going to have to actually use it for clothes.  The shelving units were somewhat poorly installed with gaps and overlapping bits and wire baskets that kept falling off in ways that made me nervous.  But it was deep, and it had more than adequate space for my clothes.  After one of my friends managed to fix the improperly overlapped bits with only the sacrifice of one ancient Borders-rescue butter knife, I even thought it might have some structural integrity if I didn't challenge it too much.

And nothing (except that wire basket) has collapsed.  Yet.  Win!

There's still some work to do figuring out where to put things currently squatting in the guest bedroom, and I anticipate some donations once everything is in the same place, and I can sort through it all at once ruthlessly.  You know, eventually, when I finally get all the unpacking done.  Maybe by next June in time for the 2nd anniversary?

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Why am I reading an Eldritch horror novel when I don't even like Eldritch horror novels?

Interviewer (I): So, you recently finished inhaling the first 9 Robin Hobb books. 
Me: Yep!  It was finally time!
I: The second book in the new trilogy about Fitz & co. just came out. I bet you really want to read that.
Me: Do I ever!
I: So what are you going to read next?
Me: Oh, I dunno. I started collecting the next chronological books, but I'm buying them on super sale because of budgetary concerns, and, to be honest, I don't really want to read them. It's kind of torture to know there are other Fitz books out there that I haven't read and still be good and read the next non-Fitz series in order even if it makes more sense that way and you get mind-blowingly adorable lines like, "There's nothing wrong with his nose" out of the bargain.
I: You could just, you know, read the new Fitz books.
Me: And be left hanging for a year or more for the conclusion?! I'd forget everything!
I: And have a really good reason to read them all again when the last one comes out.
Me: Point. But I feel like I should read the dang Rain Wild nonsense to catch the nuances I'll miss there if I go much longer without reading them.
I: You say this like it's a problem, but you seem to have two good choices. Why does it feel like you are choosing a third because it's the least good for you?
Me: . . . 
I: Yeah, I'm familiar with your small acts of self-sabotage. Don't do it! Pick one of the good choices and enjoy the heck out of it. It's okay to do that, especially when your health is kind of crappy, and this gives you something to do when you aren't sleeping.
Me: You make a compelling case.
I: Which you are going to totally ignore, of course, because your health problems fog your brain.
Me: I might not!
I: There's a first time for everything, I suppose.
Me: You wound me.
I: Yeah, the truth hurts. So, what are you going to read next?
Me: . . .
I: Sigh.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

he was kind of terrible

that she could make me weep
at his death -still- despite all
he did is perhaps a sign of her
great storytelling ability or
maybe just my total exhaustion

Friday, September 4, 2015

Blame the book

I have not been sleeping very well lately.  (It comes and goes with and without the pain.)  I'm not sure if that's why all I've felt like doing lately is lying down somewhere with my legs propped up and reading a book.  It might also be good books making me feel that way.  And summer.  Book book book.  I'll blame the book.  This kind of book is definitely part of why I am not an author.  I would much rather read books like this than even write, and I always have.  Mostly unrepentantly.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

beware reading whiplash

One thing I learned this summer is that going from reading a master artist at the top of his game writing beautiful, sparing, tragic novels to a new author's first book road novel (definitely not the destination but the journey and all the stories you hear along the way) can cause a severe case of reading whiplash.  It was like watching an Olympic-caliber swimmer slicing cleanly through the water and then having the water turned into, I don't know, gelatin or something.  It was SUCH A SLOG.  But the first author does not have any new books for me to read, and I needed to move on to something . . .

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Home Anniversary 8: the boring bedroom

The bedroom is boring.  It has to be because I am allergic to all the things.  I was told my allergies would improve if I could keep the bedroom free of books and dust.  The walls are free of all decorations other than a profusion of ugly nail holes (couldn't afford to also paint it after all the other allergy-proofing).  No furniture, no books, no carpet.

In theory, you sleep better if your room is an empty cave, cool and dark, non-distracting, so there are blackout curtains that don't do a great job, not only because of the cheap-unsafe-apartment-dryer-melting injuries they sustained, but also because I don't have the heart to tape them down on all sides.  It's still pretty cave-like, though, because one of the DIY Demons of Doom who previously inhabited this house added an okay-looking but totally non-functional ceiling light (it's wired for a fan, so it doesn't work with just a light), so I have an ancient, 40-watt desk lamp in one corner doing room-lighting/dimming duties.  It shines up onto the random plant hook on the ceiling where I have placed a single wonderfully gaudy Christmas ornament.

I don't even have a comforter or quilt because it's hard to wash those as often as the allergists recommend.  All totally boring, as it should be for improved health.  But my sheets are a beautiful color between turquoise and jade because there should be something beautiful in every room.  Even the dark ones you can't really see into.  Extra credit if the beauty is machine washable or hypoallergenic.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Home 7: special bathroom fan edition

Of course the bathroom fan began making horrifying noises very soon.  I did some research to see if it would be cheaper to pay for it to get replaced than to use the Home Warranty Company of Doom (another cursed gift brought to me by my scummy seller).  I am still giggling because never have I seen the word noxious so frequently in such a short time.  The thing that confuses me is why it is so important for people to have fans that are quiet.  Is this a rich people thing?  Have a fan so quiet no one knows you have a fan but everyone knows when you might like a louder fan?  I mean, pardon my crudeness, but isn't at least part of the point of a bathroom fan sort of like the point of those fancy Japanese toilets that have sounds you can turn on at particular times when you want to cover other sounds?  I'm just wondering.  Anyway, they replaced the fan that sounded like souls being dragged to torment in hell with one that was louder but induced fewer nightmares, and that was the only home warranty call that did not suck out part of my soul and add years to my life.  Huzzah.

Monday, August 3, 2015

Home Anniversary 6: The Master Bath closet

I'm going to move around to the back of the house now because, frankly, I want to get it out of the way.  "The Master Bath" sounds all elegant and posh, but it's the size of a closet.  (Actually, that's a lie because the closet next to it is bigger.)  It has a tiny shower, a trendy pedestal sink, and a toilet with one of those fun slow-mo-close lids.

One of the first things I got fixed was the toilet, which was not actually attached to the floor.  My inspector and I considered this a problem, but the seller didn't seem to.  My sister and I got a huge kick out of the fact that the plumber just put the toilet on the bedroom floor while he did plumber things to get it reattached.  We took pictures because it's kind of hilarious.

There was also no storage space in the mirror; it was a fake.  As a result, there is basically no storage space to make the whole bathroom actually functional except under the ridiculous sink.

The sink is one of those big glass bowls that is maybe still a thing in bathroom design, and I was initially not a fan.  I am still not a fan of its functionalness, but there is one thing that makes me very happy about it.  When I am stumbling around clumsily as usual, and I whack or knock something into the sink, it rings out this pure, clear sound like a prayer bell.  It's beautiful.  And frequent.  Who knew clumsiness could make beauty along with bruises and broken bottles?

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Home Anniversary 5: In Praise of the Schwinn Airdyne

How do I love thee?  Let me count the ways.
  • You are right smack dab in the way in the living room.  This means I can't possibly avert my eyes and pretend I can't see you.  You are between me and all the comfortable lazing surfaces, challenging me.
  • You do not make my knees hurt.  This means I can't use that as an excuse.
  • You provide me with a cooling breeze that keeps me from getting sweaty and gross as I exercise.  Another excuse off the list.  You also help keep dust from settling on surfaces in your airpath.  Another plus..
  • You come with a magazine rack.  I don't have to hold my book or device (which causes pain and is another excuse you take out).
  • You generate a good amount of white noise.  It's soothing and covers up the sound of slamming doors and the barking of the new neighbor's illegal adorable dog (no pets allowed in our condos).
  • When my arms are not causing agony, I can exercise them, too!  Yay!  And I don't have to flail them around and risk losing my balance like I did on my cheap-o stair-climber of doom.
  • You are a thing that lasts.  You were made to last decades ago and were passed down three successive generations before making your ugly way to me.  You are an heirloom among fitness equipment.  I hope this means you were a good investment, especially at the low price I paid for you.
There are other reasons, but it's time for bed.  In case you weren't sure, I highly recommend a good, used Schwinn Airdyne if you are looking for a way to exercise more regularly.  It helps to put it in your living room, if you can.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Home 4: the entryway

The entryway is not my favorite place in the house.  It's dark and narrow, and the door is blocked from opening all the way, so it's really cramped for guests.  What's good about it is that I put pretty (and machine washable) turquoise rugs in it and that when you open the door, you can see the accent wall, which is painted a color that makes my heart sing.  It's a great first sight after a long day.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

home anniversary part 3: the front door

I have to admit: the front door has seen better days.  Probably about 26 years worth of them.  It is scarred and scuffed and scratched.  It isn't even a real front door (since it leads to an interior), so there's a bad draft in the winter that I will take care of when I get a lovely, new, half-glass door if I'm allowed to by the condo association.  That said, it is definitely sturdier than the last two flimsy apartment entry doors, so that's good.  Also, because it is  my door, I was allowed to actually put double locks in for added security.  My sister and brother-in-law bought me the lovely bronze doorknobs I put on my Christmas list, and some friends in the area were able to help me finally get them installed.  They look very nice.  They do not require horrible wrist contortions (and resulting pain) like the old door did.  Even though there are two locks to unlock, it still takes less time than the old single lock.  Since the light is burned out on our landing (has been since I first visited over a year ago), the dark bronze is almost invisible, like a ninja lurking in the shadows to keep me safe.

Okay, it's nothing like a ninja, but I think it's very nice.

part 1  |  part 2

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Me & Earl & the Dying Girl (bring tissues)

Got off work early and had to choose between seeing Inside Out and Me & Earl & the Dying Girl.  Couldn't get there in time for Inside Out, so Earl it was.  Grabbed a stack of tissues on the way out the door.  Needed them all.  (Are you really surprised, considering the title?)  Wish they had actually been tissues instead of napkins.

I liked this movie a lot.  Probably more like PG-16, but, as an adult, I found it hilarious and, obviously, an excellent tear-duct cleanser. 

Greg's actor may be in his mid-20s, but he does not stand on dignity when depicting the hilarious and painful interactions between a really awkward teenaged boy and his mother.  I was glad that there was really no one else in the theater because I was laughing pretty hard.

Earl stole the show.  He was pitch perfect every time.  Wow.  Almost every line and interaction with others made me snort.  His rapid-fire, spot-on psychoanalysis of Greg while stoned was a gem.

The Dying Girl had one of the harder roles.  Actresses tend to get chosen for being, you know, attractive, and this was not a high-budget film, so there was only so much they could do to make her look sick and ugly, and a lot of scenes involved her being too exhausted from the chemo to really even have many lines.  There were a lot of opportunities for her to simply sit there, looking tragic and helplessly attractive; I think they sidestepped many of those opportunities (partly because Greg's actor is a great face-actor, and his awkwardness and unease and heart-on-sleeve expressions as he wrestled through these emotional minefield kept things more real).

The history teacher was fun.  All the parents were pretty good, too.  Their roles were a bit over-the-top and could easily have been more caricature than anything, but there was enough real and understandable emotion / humanity / character in each of them that they weren't just goofy adults.

And the high school kids.  I swear I went to school with a dead-ringer for that twirpy drug dealer, and the goth/steampunk kid is a hoot, as well.  Makes one glad to not be in high school.

The nature of the narrative was interesting, too.  As the narrator continuously points out, this is not a love story, so all the things that one would expect to happen in this kind of story just don't.  And that leaves lots of room for real life to crowd in.  Friendship, decisions about higher education, struggles with friends and family: these are what the movie is made of because even when someone you love is dying, life does go on.  It's just so much harder for everyone.

Good movie.  Strong in story, character, world, and execution.  And tear-jerking.  Seriously.

Friday, June 12, 2015

every trip is longer

One of the things I really admire about the kid I started mentoring recently is that she already has one of the most valuable skills a person can learn: the ability to ask for what she needs.  I don't have to try to guess or play head games with her; if she likes it, she tells me.  If she needs a drink or a snack, she lets me know.  She is way better at this than I am.  Inspired by her forthrightness, I decided to contact the super cheap-o airline I am flying next week to ask if I can get an aisle seat assigned without having to pay for it.  And you know what?  It was hard to do. 

Reading the reviews about how small and cramped the seats are, how they aren't adjustable, etc., I knew that if I got trapped by the window or in the middle, I would be in so much pain and so stiff when I arrived at my destination that I would be even worse company than usual, which isn't very nice when one is going to a place to spend time with people you love that you only gets to see once a year.  I need to get up and move to prevent everything from stiffening up (way more than normal people), but when I'm on a plane, I just can't handle asking the other folks in my row to get up all the time.  It takes even more energy to do that, and people give me dirty looks if I even do it once, and it drains me completely.  This I know.  

So I had to decide whether to ask for some small crumb of accommodation for my disability.  And it was really hard.  I knew I should do it, yet I kept putting it off.  In the end, it came down to this: being present and good company is difficult for me all the time under regular circumstances.  This is a special occasion.  Why sabotage myself by being too d@$^#d shy to ask if I could have an aisle seat? 

So I asked, and they replied, and I will print out the email and see what happens at the gate.

Friday, May 29, 2015

about Kate

If I were to try
to write a poem 
about Kate, it 

would contain 
the line, "I 
am a person 
with a habit 

of naming 
my inanimate 

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

the dilemma

Why is it
that the co-workers
I like most always
leave me? 
                 I suppose
the solution to this
problem is to stop
liking the bright,
competent, ambitious
ones, but
                I don't think
that's really possible
or even
a good idea.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Today's method of overdoing it prevention

Today, the method of preventing overdoing things is wearing a dress.  It is a birthday party themed event, and there will be games, and my kid will want to play them, and I know that I will want to play them, too, so I will wear a (very informal) long dress, so there is no way I can give in to the temptation to do something silly that will cause me pain for days.  Dresses are so very useful.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

when marketers tell stories, sometimes it gets a bit out of hand

Obviously the person who wrote this marketing copy has at least a Ph.D. in BS.  I have never laughed so hard about a bathmat purchase: What am I buying?  This Indonesian-inspired bathmat brings us back to our roots.  All over the worlds, centuries ago, weaving was a way of life: from shelter over our heads and a weaved thatch roof, to keeping food and supplies safe and dry, to the first pair of prehistoric designer jeans weaved from fibrous material.  This timeless design continues to serve mankind with the weave of the . . . bathmat which gives you a safe non-slip surface.. . . "

the same old story (how we doom ourselves by trying to be more healthy)

I need to move more during the day.  My pain and other signs point to this.  So when things got very bad last week, I just set up my desk to stand all day.  For two days in a row.  HEALTHYX2! 

Except for the crippling back and knee pain I left behind when I stopped working retail and being on my feet for 8 hours a day.  "I should stop doing this!" I thought to myself.  "It might be worse for me than sitting all the time."

Except that it's not.  There's lots of science saying the sitting is always very bad and usually worse than not-sitting.  So then I wondered if maybe I should try to work my way up.

And I suddenly wondered if this is a pattern many of us use to doom ourselves in terms of improving our health.  There is a thing that is healthy to do, so we decide to do it.  We do it full bore (without working our way up to it in a reasonable manner), and it hurts, and we simplistically decide it's bad for us because it causes pain, and so we will never do it again.  (Rarely do I take that step back and try to figure out if there's another way to do it that's less stupid.  I'm busy and don't have time to do things that don't work.  Blahblahexcusesmumblegetdistractedandmoveon.)  This is not the first time I've gone through the pattern. 

Well, duh.  Overdoing things causes pain.   Yes, and?  This is not rocket science.  I really should know that the answer is to do things smarter and not harder.  Especially since I started dealing with the chronic pain and working with pain therapists, I should know that I have to start super small and very, very, very slowly work my way up, backing off if I cause bad pain.  Same with changes to diet.  Change one thing for a month.  Then you can think of changing another.  Don't try to change all the things or I end up changing none of the things because I am too overwhelmed and it is too much because I chose to be stupid instead of sensible.

The problem is that I am impatient.  I want to BE THERE doing ALL THE THINGS right NOW, and it hurts, and so then I don't want to do anything, and I end up worse off than I was before.  I am dooming myself. 

Do we all do this?  Is it a way we hurt ourselves?  By being ignorant and silly and not thinking things through?  I suppose it could just be me.  But I doubt it.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Hyperbole and a Half calendar!

Q: So, I hear you bought the Hyperbole and a Half calendar at one of those mall kiosks?
A: Yep.
Q: I also heard you bought it only because it contains that awesome sequence with the Simple Dog failing to understand the command to sit?
A: Of course not!  I bought it because it was 75% off, and I like to support authors whose works I enjoy, even if their calendars aren't that great except for the Simple Dog sequence, which I printed out to use at work to remind myself that I am more often the Simple Dog than Ally at work and so I should be patient on those rare occasions when I am feeling more like Ally.
Q: Oh, well, that's much more reasonable.
A: And it was totally an awesome coincidence that said sequence is for my birthday month.
Q: Of course.