21 September, 2007

My laptop computer at home died last night and I won’t have money to take it to for repair until at least next week. It will probably be good for me to have a full weekend offline, but it means no updates or comment approvals here and no new pictures moving to flickr. I’m still not making much use of this blog so that isn’t much of a loss, but I wanted to throw a few things out before disappearing out of the ether.

I read the latest volume of Fruits Basket a few weeks ago and I had no idea how rusty my comics-reading skills had gotten. Not only did I have only vague recollections of who the various Zodiac members were, but my eyes didn’t want to leap from panel to panel in any comfortable way. I had to drag myself along, forcing the understanding. It really was like translating from a language you read with awkward fluency, searching for just how things fit so you can piece them together into some sort of tentative meaning. I do realize I’m still more fluent in manga than, say, classical Greek, but it was disconcerting. And I don’t think an American comic would have been much better. I think I’ve just fallen out of the habit of reading pictures.

I’m not all words all the time, though. I ought to be tracking my Netflix use. We watched My Flesh and Blood, which I’ve wanted to see for a long time and which I can’t praise highly enough. It’s an unsentimental view of a woman raising 13 children, 9 of whom (I think) came to her through special needs adoption. I follow the world of special needs adoption on blogs and in public policy very closely these days because I think it might be where I’m headed, but I was thrilled and inspired by Susan Tom’s handling of the linguistic politics and day-to-day realities of her life, not to mention totally in love with all the kids. There’s a beautiful clarity in it, at least for me, made all the more clear by the obvious pain shown.

I should probably get some categories going here if I’m going to make it a useful, functioning blog instead of whatever it is now. I’m writing weekly and that’s that, but eventually it should be more. In my livejournal I went with the six gifts of womanhood Emer exemplified: “beauty, a gentle voice, sweet words, wisdom, skill at needlework and chastity.” Everything I talk about in myself seems to fall into discussing either my success or failure on one or more of those fronts. Here things might be bigger, though.

Since I haven’t discusses any of my needlework here, I’ll say that I’ve got a Sadie-based sweater being seamed up now, though I’ll need to find a zipper to install in it. I’m also a sleeve away from something that started as Ubernatural but is a long-sleeved v-neck pullover. It may be quite a while, given the computer situation, before I can finish them up and have A. take some pictures of me and have a knitting post up here, but I’m looking forward to that. Since it’s 90+ degrees out today and I’m working with wool, I guess there’s no hurry in any practical sense.

I’ll be spending time with my family for my dad’s birthday this weekend. I’m looking forward to having all three brothers in one place. That only happened once over the summer, and it should be plenty of goofy fun.


being there

18 September, 2007

On Sunday, A. went to her departmental picnic while I took Addiston and met up with my own coworker and her dog at the Cincinnati Nature Center. I’ve never gone hiking with a dog before and I’ve learned (unsurprisingly) that the constant attention to leashing leaves you sore in different places than simple hiking would. We had a great time, though. The real point (inasmuch as there is one) of the story is that I then dropped the beast at home and went off to meet A. and one of her coworkers and said coworker’s spouse at The Pub at Rookwood Mews. Since I was the only one able to show up at 4 pm for a 4 pm appointment (for a change) I got to stand around and knit for 30 minutes until I had company. This was made more interesting by the fact that there were people filming in The Pub’s parking lot. What little we were able to learn was that there was a sitcom pilot being shot. Everyone’s very clear on the idea that it’s a sitcom, even though it seems to involve quite a bit of gun use and people driving around in BMWs. They weren’t actively filming, just having a guy with an exceedingly hip haircut wander around with some spyglass-like device, and since he didn’t tell me to move I just, well, kept to my knitting. When A. and her coworker went outside briefly, though, they were shooed away from the action.

That was funny enough, but then last night A. and I decided to be lazy and not cook and instead take advantage of wing night at Zola’s in MainStrasse in Covington, which was unwise in that she and I had both recently had the real thing at The Anchor Bar on our Buffalo trip. But we ate and enjoyed and vowed not to be tempted by false prophet wings (although we’re not ruling out the weekly Wednesday Burger Mania), then walked back to her car only to find we’d been parked in by the same film crew’s trailer. Spyglass guy remembered us, which is appropriate since it was only 24 hours since he’d been staring at me and telling her to move away, but we thought it was hilarious. Not only did he want us to move our car, though, but give him our names and contact information because they may want to use us as extras. So since this is all a super secret project, I’m sure I won’t be able to say anything about it if this comes to fruition except that the only reason I’m doing it is that it would be really cool if Lyle (the only person I know who might watch a pilot) saw me in the background, whether he knew it or not. Still, though, potentially hilarious or at least unique.

in hot pursuit

10 September, 2007

I’ve watched other movies since, but last week A. and I saw The Pursuit of Happyness, which I’d initially skipped because of my skepticism about what seemed like creepy Reaganomics apologist mindset but she put on our Netflix queue because of confidence about little Jaden Smith’s cuteness. That makes it one of those situations where we can both be right, I think. But yeah, cute and creepy pretty much sums it up.

I know especially the night before 11 September I’m supposed to be thinking about bigger and loftier issues, except for me it’s a different anniversary that resonates more strongly. This year is 10 years since I was first raped as a college freshman, and that’s something that affected and changed me a lot more than I wish it had. Last September my cat Saffron was loose in the woods and being in the dog park with Addiston this weekend really made me uncomfortable because it was so like and unlike the time I spent with my tears and a book behind my apartment building last fall until I was able to find my little cat and coax her back into my arms. I spent all the nights she was missing in hysterical guilt, crying and waiting and worrying. Losing Saffron more recently when I moved here is as close as I’ve gotten to a custody dispute, and while I had moments of deep sadness I know she’s well and I get to see photos at least from her new phone.

So what I’m saying at least at the end of that paragraph is that I have no idea what it must feel like to give up a child, even if to keep Solomon from slicing him to bits. And yet the most sympathetic character in The Pursuit of Happyness was protagonist Chris’s wife, Linda, who got sick of his constant promises that he’d find some way to make the necessary money to pay the rent and cover childcare. So she did the rational thing and moved herself and her child away from him to what seemed like a more secure situation, only to accede to his wishes to let their son Chris live with his father when she moved to New York in search of a new life. From the previews, I got the impression we were supposed to consider her heartless, but I pitied her and empathized. Sure, it was a failure of imagination not to go along with Chris’s plan to go from selling useless, unwanted medical equipment to taking an unpaid internship that would give him a 5% chance of becoming a stockbroker, but I’m not sure how we’re really supposed to blame her.

Except I’m being a bad person in talking about what we’re supposed to do because that’s not how art works and what always gets me in trouble, and yet this is ceaselessly didactic art. And I’m not sure about the messages, either. It was really painful not only to watch Linda have to suffer through indignities and disappointments and double shifts so Chris can spend more time badgering HR execs, but to then see the good-vs.-evil setup that permeates everything. Because Chris is good and trying to do right by his son and better himself, it’s fine when he rips off a cab driver and funny when he runs away. But when a mentally ill and presumably homeless man or a hippie musician steal Chris’s medical equipment because he’s being irresponsible with it, he’s able to hunt them down and recover his property. It really gave me chills to watch little Chris alone in a men’s homeless shelter at night while his dad studied and did machine maintenance because I couldn’t get over the foreboding sense that certainly little Chris (statistically speaking, at least) should be molested or something rather than just get to sleep angelically and be cute and endearing. And what kind of person does that make me?

I think I’m just a critical, fed up person. Because I said I’m not talking about national politics and yet I can’t avoid them. Yes, it’s great that Chris was able to essentially con his way into riches, especially since he proved his worth once he got there. It’s certainly admirable he was able to get his son off the streets unscathed, if that’s actually what happened. But the whole system that leaves people poor and broken is the problem. I spend so much of my spare time reading foster/adoption blogs and I’m deeply, deeply, constantly concerned about the nature of poverty in this nation. I know we have a horrible system set up that hampers the people who need help most and refuses to help plenty who are doing good work. And what am I doing now except being critical? It’s something I worry about a lot, the same way I worry about a fictionalized story of a poor black man who molds his life around inspiration from Thomas Jefferson without ever acknowledging that it might be possible to, say, pursue happiness more easily (if not with a free conscience, although perhaps that wasn’t even an issue) when you’ve got slaves taking care of your day-to-day concerns. So I’m bothered by this exceptionalism even as I admire exceptionalism in life, especially because I worry I don’t have enough sympathy or support for the people who are stuck in the system and not able or willing to do enough to escape. Because, really, who of us can escape when we’re what the system is made of? Maybe happiness is, as the movie says, something we can chase but never hold, but I think we have a moral duty to make sure that while they exist poverty and suffering have a hold on us.


1 September, 2007

This will be a short one because any minute now we’ll have people showing up for the first party I’ve ever (co)hosted. It’s not just that I’m not sure I’m sufficiently social, but I’ve never before wanted to go through the time I spent this afternoon chopping up vegetables and marinating chicken. I’ve been very good at living my life online and limiting my actual personal interaction to what keeps me comfortable. While I wasn’t actually worried about whether we’d get everything cleaned and sorted in time, it’s a different sort of pressure to know that I’ve asked people to come, inspect my space, approve of me. I’ve been online much less than I used to be this summer and I’m working on being able to speak as comfortably as I write, connect on other people’s terms. It’s not all about them, though. I’m the one who did the shopping, so there are salt and vinegar chips rather than more standard ones on the table in front of me. I think it’s now time for me to indulge.