html xmlns="" xml:lang="en" lang="en"> From the archives: December 2007

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Thanks for the link, Tyler...

...but it makes me think that I should have more on the front than a report on my cat. I thought I’d take a shot at why water is such a complex policy issue.

I think water is particularly complex because it arrives at its whim and does so many things. It changes a lot, always conserved but switching forms and picking up new qualities. The important thing we want water to do is move through things. We want it to move through us, to keep us alive. We want it to move through soil, a plant and then the air, to keep us fed. We want it to move through the landscape, and think of it differently when it is an avalanche, groundwater, a river, in our pipes and in our bodies. We want it to carry our mess away from us and store it somewhere out of sight.

Water arrives in a wide range of forms, takes work to collect and move, is used for a huge range of purposes, and carries our mistakes with it as it leaves our attention. Addressing any one policy question means selecting one or two qualities from each of those, defining it and thinking about what result we want. That’s a lot, and gets way more complicated if you have to agree with someone else about it. I'll have to think about other fields where the object is so mutable and applied in so many ways. But it is certainly appropriate to have lots of uncertainly about water issues. They're squirrelly.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

She forgives me.

I still need an armoire and a light fixture, and too much of my stuff is in boxes. But my cat is purring in my lap in my room in Oakland, so we are finally home.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Wearing them is a whole different story.

I went clothing shopping today. I did this with a firm intention that my clothes no longer be boring. I went to a store boutique with interesting clothes. I could tell they were interesting because they had elements that were not purely functional. There was ornament on many of the clothings. It seemed like the necklines and sleeves were floppy or gathered or cut in ways that are not strictly necessary to keep a person warm. I looked at them very carefully. Then, dear readers, I tried some of them on and bought some!

I bought two sweaters and three shirts. It is my impression that they call attention to my collarbones and cleavage, and not to my best features, my triceps. It seems a little silly to wear clothings that call attention to my breasts; they do that all on their own. Why do designers not emphasize a girl's triceps, I ask you?

When I told a girlfriend I was going shopping, she wished me strength and courage. She also gave me advice for picking out skirts and jackets, but I love her lots so I pretend not to notice when she temporarily talks gibberish. I'll wait for her to feel better; when she is well, her advice is always sound and kind.

Now that I am a fashionista, I am prepared to offer a critique of current styles:

It seems like women's shirts are long, almost tunic-length. It is nice of them to give us all that extra fabric, but isn't that going to look dated next year? I have dresses shorter than some of the tops I tried on. The maternity-wear look still lingers, perhaps in honor of Jamie Lynn. Still, I am pleased that we'll be wearing color again next year. I like color.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Relativist and openminded.

I am at a cafe in San Luis Obispo. The barista did not draw pictures in the foam of my latte. This is no longer acceptable.

In Sac, I go to the same cafe every morning. I bring my mug, which is unusually adorable; you can tell I stole it from Ali because it gets looks and compliments. I've seen the usual morning barista at different cafes in Sacramento for years. I've always nodded and smiled, but I never rated more than polite service until recently.

A few weeks back, I noticed that my barista-guy had misjudged the size of my mug. He overfilled it and it ran down the side. As he was wiping it, I said "that'll get you dq'ed at Regionals." He said "I don't compete at Regionals." I asked him why not and he said, "Because I'm the only person who can handle $1200 in two hours at the register during the competition." He told me that he now knew that my mug was a trifle small and that he would adjust his freepour accordingly.

I guess we're friends now, because ever since then all of my drinks have designs on them. I've gotten a tulip, a heart, a crescent moon, a spiral, and some abstract designs. I'm told he is working on a sunset scene and look forward to that. But I am not in my usual cafe. I am far away, in a different town. I will drink my plain latte and try not to judge. Some places have different cultures and traditions and are not obviously inferior just because they do not have pictures in their latte foam.

Monday, December 24, 2007

It is wrong, is what it is.

Watching my baby siblings grow up just breaks my heart. They're getting so tall! My baby sister is bordering on lovely, and my baby brother is a huge and gangly brute. I look at them and think of all they've learned over the years, how they've come to understand the world. It is all reflexive to them now; never stand between me and a body of water, scan the sidewalk for a bush they could be guided into, always brace oneself if one is sitting on the edge of a couch or chair.

People call it play, but it took years and years of work to make them fully understand my absolute dominion as the oldest of four. I can't believe I've going to lose all that just because they're about to be bigger than me.

Three dimensions

Back in law school, Negar and I both liked exactly the same seats, in the middle a few rows back. If we had a class together, whoever showed up second would have to settle for the second best seat. We sat next to each other a lot, although we neither especially liked or disliked the other.


In the small kitchen of our vacation rental, cooking with my Mom is an experience in being constantly two or three seconds behind. I reach for the knife that she just picked up; I can't get to that thing in the fridge; she just found a use for the pot I need. So cute and little, so relentlessly boxing me out.


For all that I love riding bikes with people, it can be a pain in the ass, especially if no one leads. It is hard to negotiate car doors and traffic and turning corners and which stop signs to run. For all our separate years riding bikes for transportation and our deep friendship, Chris and I aren't particularly good at it, never knowing where the other is and having to talk about our route out loud.

The best person I've ever ridden bikes with is Dave, who without any effort on my part is exactly where I would have him be at every minute. I shouldn't be surprised; he has spectacular field-sense.

Friday, December 21, 2007

By contrast, I've been counting the days until the Solstice. Please let the days get longer fast.

I don't hate Christmas, because I ignore Christmas. This year I didn't do the one tradition I love, which is the Holiday Lights Bike Ride. I don't know why I didn't make that happen; probably 'cause my life has narrowed into moving and working out. But tonight I'm going carolling, which I've never done. If any moment of carolling clicks into a frame of my friends carrying candles, beautiful voices rising and sincere love for mankind, then I will have gotten more than I hope for from the season.

UPDATE: Oh, it was wonderful. I want to sing in some sort of choir so much.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Me too!

Oooh, I loved this. Entire relationships summed up in one paragraph:

He wanted everything about it so bad I couldn’t refuse. The time he told me that he sat in his dark room waiting for me to get off work shocked me still, almost paralyzed, for minutes. In the end, it would be hard to say who ripped the other up worse or for longer.

One good night, we joke-argued about the color of a palomino until I indignantly fetched each of us a dictionary. My roommate walked in on us, naked in bed, both furiously looking it up. We argued for real over whether the Rodney King rioters should be shot on sight and never stopped fighting again.

He made me young and taught me fun. In that relationship, he was the shockingly blue-eyed one. He would start conversations about our relationship after midnight, which can only go wrong. He loved me more, then I loved him more.

We were never bored if we were in the same place. Ever. We could play hours-long games of kai-bai-bo, going from regionals to states to nationals to the world championships to the Champion of the Whole Universe This Time For Real. He often hit on me at parties, sometimes real sleazy and sometimes shy and awkward. I waited for him when he kept saying he was coming back, but he never really did.

He wrote to me first and wrote to me more and kissed me. Then he was gone and I was grabbing at air.

Heaven's gates are standing open

I have felt, for ages now, that my life is on hold. I don’t know how it got stuck in this position, but for years it has been locked in place, centered around my fun home and my friends and sport. It is a good place to be on hold, but it is not the progression to other versions of me that I have long wanted. This year, finally, I seem to have stepped out of that. I am more than a little ticked that the way that happened was sheer brute force on my part. That wasn’t what I wanted. I wanted change to come to me gracefully, mostly in the form of a sweet and funny man. But when he doesn’t show up to waltz you into a new and even more pleasant life, it turns out that you can shake your old life by working like a fucking dog.

So I have been. And now I feel tired of that and greedy and impatient for the results. For months and months I have been working through chores and projects, self-assessing and re-thinking, discarding, loosening tie after tie and setting new ones. I have a new aversion to carrying things. I am so tired of carrying things around, loading and unloading and taking them back. So far, change has just meant work.

The end is in sight. The chores are a finite list now and some of them can be postponed. My sister and I ate breakfast Sunday morning, with a heavy push planned for the day. Tired from Saturday’s heavy push, I dragged out my last sips of tea. “This will end, right? The work will stop, and then we’ll coast, right?” She reassured me, and Sunday was indeed the day that we furnished my room and restored the back yard from construction site to yard.

If the tide has turned, I want the good parts. Moving from stagnation to head-down straining at the traces was, at least, change. But it isn’t what I want to do any more. Far as I can tell, most of what I want to do is sit around tables with people. I want to sit around tables in rooms in Oakland, with olives and cherry tomatoes and sharp neat people telling me what they think about. I want my old friends around a picnic table at a campground, and a fire going near by. I want to look down at a table littered with empty glasses, fruit slices in a pitcher of sangria, big trays of picked over nachos, in a yard with lanterns. I want to look across a table at a him, and be astounded that things go this well when I’m with him, just look how we stumbled into this perfect restaurant.

Everything is turning. Solstice is just about here; the calendar year is about to end; it will be my year again after that and then my birthday will make me a square number again. Surely some of this winding and turning will flow through me, lend me more momentum than I generated by myself, give me an extra push on a downhill coast. I’m ready.


1. Yes, of course I feel guilty and self-indulgent for thinking I have genuine problems in a world where I am fantastically privileged.

2. My sister thinks this was a harder effort for moving during the winter. In the summer, she says, you have all those long evenings, time and energy to get more done. I say, fuck it. If I’m going to be crunching through work and nothing but, might as well be in dreary pointless winter. I know you winter fetishists will say something about cold spicy air and something something season, but this is the type of lie you have to tell yourself to endure the cold and dark days. Fuck winter. Long warm evenings, I say. Sun waking you early and slanting through ‘til late. Finally, finally being hot enough (which I say with dire thoughts about Oakland being never hot enough, although I am openminded and prepared to give it the benefit of the doubt). Being tan, so you can feel some self-worth and attractiveness when you look in the mirror. Better to waste a stupid winter in work, and be free when summer brings you back real light and joy.

3. My trainer made me carry kettleballs recently, just to build strength. I got actual tears in my eyes at the prospect of moving more objects for no reason.

4. It is possible that I was hungry when I contemplated my dreams of next year.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

All the Koreans did it.

You know that if you touch your electronic car-door unlocker to your chin while you press the button, it will lock/unlock your car doors from way farther away? Twice as far or more. The explanation I got is that your skull acts as a resonator to make the signal stronger. Don't know if that is why, but I know that it works.

Monday, December 17, 2007

And they want me to take the P.E..

Turns out that if, when you are introduced socially to important people in your work, instead of making small talk you stare at them really intently, then narrow your eyes and start quizzing them relentlessly about their work and the implications of that, they remember you. Then, months and months later, they stop by your cube to see if you want to get coffee and talk about a new position in their branch. Seems to me like it should be more formal than that, but this seems to be how it happens.

ALSO: Looks like I'm going back down to part-time. BooYEAH! Forty hours a week was cramping my style.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

I don't know what they are doing in the bathroom for that long either.

So this is making the rounds, and you know what? I don’t like it. At first I thought I didn’t like it because I recognized me a little. Yeah. Those are pictures of me and Ali on the fridge, and you can tell we love each other because our faces are pressed together. Then I thought that I didn’t like it because of the casual misogyny, but I decided that I don’t know the guy and I can’t decide he’s a misogynist. I can tell that he’s way frustrated by dating and generalizing that to the women he’s attracted to, but that is hard, hard, hard to resist and I can understand when want and frustration make people slip off the narrow path of respect. Instead I have three good reasons I don’t like it.

First, it is the humor of superiority and I don’t like that in general. It is cheap. Second, dude. That caricature is not every girl ever. The type is clearly recognizable; that piece was written in Philadelphia, my friend from San Diego sent it to me, and I’ve been in those apartments up here too. But that woman? She is one type of middle-class, recently graduated, first-job woman, and the author is revealing his class and filters when he thinks those are all the women out there. The rest, the married, poorer, browner, older and younger? They aren’t extras. They’re women.

So the author has skewered one type of woman, and he thinks those are the women out there. He goes on frustrated date after another with them, and this is because he finds them and picks them, time after time. He does that because… he likes their generic looks. She has matched herself to a look, and he responds to it again and again. There is something in that type of look and he reacts. This is fine. People do. BUT, that is exactly what he is mocking them for. Somewhere, some Pottery Barn designer found that people like geometric shapes in wrought iron and honed in on that design and sold that to all the women who have some spending money to make a place look nice for the first time ever. All their apartments look the same because it is vaguely nice and that is what (some) women react to. All those women look the same because it is vaguely nice and that is what (some) men react to. The author does not get to heap scorn on women for acting just like him.

Finally, the guy who sent me that piece? I’ve wanted to date him for years. It is more than a little galling to infer that he is also frustrated with pointless dates with those women. I hope he is touring those apartments long after I am welcoming my husband back to our home full of functional and interesting and unpredictable things.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Crossed with Zodiac animal, of course.

It used to be that I immediately put everyone I met into one of eight weight classes. Now my classification is much simpler. There are people I could benchpress, people I can't benchpress but could deadlift and people I can't deadlift. Yet.

She has her work cut out for her.

A woman at my gym seems to have taken a shine to me, a rather enthusiastic shine. In large part, this is because she is enthusiastic about everything; very high energy, very chatty. She joins my workouts sometimes and rips through sets of stuff with enough time to get in a serious jumprope workout while they wait for me. I loooove being lapped during circuit-type training, but I am reassured that she is maybe ten years older than me. That gives me some time to catch up.

As I admire her speed and stamina, she is taken with my strength*. Um, rather conspicuously so. She talks about it often. She points me out to people when I get there. She has a nickname for me. She mentions conversations she has with outside people about me. I look away and say that it certainly is cold out these days. She does this kindof a lot. I don't really understand the fascination. Even I am considerably less interested in my strength than she is.

Now I'm curious about who is going to yield first. I am trying to change her behavior by not rewarding it with attention, but she is something of a force. It is hard to say which is stronger, her interest or my will to deflect all complimentary attention. Maybe she was sent to me to teach me to take compliments. Hard to say whether even she has enough energy for that. It'll be close.

*I haven't yet switched over to the notion that I am strong. In my world, they just haven't given me anything really heavy yet. This isn't completely true. We have "maxed to failure". But mostly my trainer points at things and they take some work, but nothing is so heavy I can't control it at all. Can I tell you how much I LOVE paying someone else to take responsibility for my workout? I love it THIS MUCH.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

You know what is fascinating? Long inventories.

I’ve been thinking about old friends recently, and new friends too. I’m in such a shift right now. I rarely see my Ultimate friends, since I’m not there. I’m gradually becoming familiar with the regulars at weightlifting. I got my first invitation to something with them last week, and that’s how it starts. The strangest thing is that my undergraduate friends have coalesced again. They were everywhere for a while, all over the country. Each of us independently has moved back to the Bay and we’ve seen each other enough recently that getting together is almost not an occasion anymore.

Then I started thinking about where my current friends, friends that I can call easily and stay up to date with, came from.

Family friends: These people don’t come from any institution; they just exist in the world. Two-ish people, I suppose. Alan I haven’t seen in years, but occasionally comments here. Jill lives in Oakland and we keep meaning to see her more than we do. I also recently acquired some great cousins that hold promise to be friends for many years.

Elementary school: None. I have a fondness for a couple women from elementary school, and Google them from time to time. But it would be extraordinary to hear from them, so I guess they aren’t current friends. I would email them if I were visiting their cities though, and hope to get dinner with them.

Junior high: Several, probably because they also went to high school and college with me. But I keep in fairly frequent touch with at least one guy from junior high and three or four more people I could call without freaking them out. One guy found me here and we exchange nice emails.

High school: Add another still-close friend (Teddy!) and a couple more that I see every year or so.

Undergrad: Here’s the big pulse of still-tight friends. A half-dozen hippies, including my esteemed but distractible co-blogger, climb on the bus at this point. And Dennis who wasn’t especially close then but has become much closer in the past couple years.

Trip to Uzbekistan: I took this trip one summer and came out of it with two tight friends. I see or talk to them often enough that we take up with no awkwardness. Since there were only about ten Americans on the trip, this is an incredibly high close-friend percentage for a group. I should be all young and impressionable and go on group trips more often.

First work: I picked up a married couple there that I treasure. I lived with Chris’s parents then too and befriended them separate from Chris.

First grad school: Two that I have no qualms about staying with when I visit, although we don’t keep in touch at other times.

Law school: Three solid friends. One or two more distant friends.

Second grad school: One solid friend.

Ultimate: I bet I made several close friends there, although it remains to be seen how we’ll do when it requires effort to see each other.

Work again: I got Margie and I bet I’m keeping her.

Blog: Some of you seem to be developing into real genuine friends. Like, not imaginary. Like, not the abstract fondness for the lot of you, but a particularized fondness based on telling each other stuff and keeping in close touch and hanging out when we’re local. It doesn’t get me laid or anything, so it wasn’t exactly the point, but it might last. This is very nice.

So here’s the big thing about that list, the part that surprises me most. There is not one single person from TaeKwonDo on that list. No one I miss even a little. Me, who clings to people and calls them out of the blue and wants to always know how they are, didn’t make a single friend at tkd during the thirteen years I did it. Me, who usually comes out of big activities with at least one friend, didn’t keep one person from one of the biggest activities of my life. You know, I wasn’t even that close with them when I was there. I mean, I liked most people and followed their gossip. But I spent all those hours with them every day and never thought they were friends. When I left them I didn’t care and that has not turned into retrospective fondness. Huh.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

What do the next few months look like?

The bad news: Free Tarot confirms all my self-pity over moving and moving and more moving.

The good news:
He might show up.

The card not shown but at the center of the cross, represents the atmosphere surrounding the central issue. The Hanged Man, when reversed: Life in suspension. Selfish, materialistic, and untrusting attitudes. Unwillingness to make necessary sacrifices. Going along with the crowd, and refusing to hear the inner voice. Concessions and appeasements that backfire.

The card visible at the center of the cross represents the obstacle that stands in your way - it may even be something that sounds good but is not actually to your benefit. Nine of Pentacles (Gain), when reversed: Bad luck attending material affairs. Elitism and snobbishness. Lack of discipline resulting in the erosion of security and stability. Contempt for the exact labors that brought one to a position of refinement. Dishonesty in financial matters.

The card at the top of the cross represents your goal, or the best you can achieve without a dramatic change of priorities. The Magician: Mastery over word, mind, and matter. The ability to turn ideas into actions, handle problems, and control one's life. The initiation of new projects, great works, or a new way of life. Eloquent and moving communication. Arcane and eldritch technologies.

The card at the bottom of the cross represents the foundation on which the situation is based. Seven of Swords (Futility): An opportunity to withdraw from a hopeless situation and fight another day. Disengagement from a struggle you should never have been involved in. A desperate attempt to resolve a matter without conflict. The use of cleverness or outright deception to turn the tide in your favor.

The card at the left of the cross represents a passing influence or something to be released. Four of Wands (Completion): A chance to rest and rejoice, having successfully resolved a matter of great import. The initial success of a business venture or creative project. The blossoming of a friendship or romantic relationship. Conclusions drawn based on hard won experience. Spiritual, material, or emotional rewards for diligent effort. May suggest marriage, childbirth, or a victory celebration.

The card at the right of the cross represents an approaching influence or something to be embraced. Three of Wands (Virtue): Personal fortitude and strength of character. Accumulated power set in motion towards a distant goal. The initiation of an enduring partnership based on absolute trust. Honor maintained in a time of desperate struggle. Taking full responsibility for a decision, and bearing the solitude of leadership.

The card at the base of the staff represents your role or attitude. Two of Pentacles (Change), when reversed: Imbalance and disharmony as a result of upheaval and transformation. Taking one step forward for every two steps back. Chaos caused by the shifting importance of projects and priorities. Industrious yet unreliable actions. Furious activity producing negligible results.

The card second from the bottom of the staff represents your environment and the people you are interacting with. Eight of Swords (Interference): Chagrin at the unforeseen consequences of prior decisions. Criticism, censure, and the imposition of external restrictions. Confusion leading to powerlessness. Inability to focus on the crux of a problem and free oneself from a difficult situation. Being hamstrung by a past failure or humiliation.

The card second from the top of the staff represents your hopes, fears, or an unexpected element that will come into play. The Lovers: A caring and trusting relationship. Beauty and inner harmony. A decision calling for emotional control and faithfulness to spiritual values.

The card at the top of the staff represents the ultimate outcome should you continue on this course. Seven of Cups (Temptation), when reversed: Daydreams and fantasies brought into realistic focus. The contemplation of many options leading to a conclusive choice. Inner clarity that dissipates illusions and false choices. Remaining connected to reality in the face of intoxication, delirium, or hallucination. Under rare and extreme circumstances, may indicate the failure to recognize a transcendental spiritual truth.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Hey, amigos. Question for you.

You know, I thought the Ask A Mexican advice column concept was REAL DICEY when I first saw it, but I have to say I'm impressed with how he pulls it off.

I do, sorta, have a question for him but not really. I worked with an Argentine woman one summer who told me a story I have never been able to sort. (See, I know that people from Mexico and people from Argentina are not the same. So my question is really for Argentineans, and it would be rude to ask him just because he is also Latino. So I won't. But I am left still wondering, unless one of you internets people can tell me.)

We were eating lunch and a dog approached, begging for food. I don't feed animals at the table, so I refused. "You have to give him some." she said. "Or he'll die." What? According to my friend, animals and human babies have an organ in their stomach that holds ...something toxic. If they want something and they don't get it, this organ will explode, killing them. This is well-known fact; major newspapers often report on tragic cases of babies who were denied a sip of their mother's coffee and their resulting death of organ rupture. Everyone in Argentina knows this, which is why babies (and dogs, I guess) can have tastes of whatever they reach for on the table. Babies grow out of this; the organ shrinks and is aborbed into the body? as they grow up.

I quizzed her and quizzed her about this organ. I asked her to point to it. I asked her the name. It is the splena, which is NOT the spleen. NOT the appendix. We talked about this organ for days. I've since asked other people from South America and Mexico about this and never gotten a good explanation. Do any of you know about this? Is this a widely spread theory of childraising? How far? What the hell organ does she mean?

Monday, December 10, 2007

Thank you, Anand. Thank you, Arvind.

Anand and his brother were supposed to come help me work on the room yesterday. I was so excited! Anand, YAY! Arvind, YAY! It was such a good plan and we were going to get so much done. Except. Before coming over, they stopped to get some stuff. They stopped to get burritos, and we can all agree that the plan is still looking good at this point. BUT THEN! They picked up that arch-villain, Chris. Did you know that Chris does not always contribute to the smooth and efficient functioning of a well-designed plan? No he does not.

I welcomed that agent of chaos into our house. And how does he repay me? HE STOLE MY WORKERS! He lured them! He lured them with MATH! He opened his books and problems and dangled them in front of Anand and Arvind and he said, ‘come here often, big boys?’ They fell, just like he knew they would. I worked outside, alone in the back, painting and painting, alone. It sure was lonely, working back there by myself.

I can’t blame Anand and Arvind. They are only human, and people have needs. When Chris mentioned a sweet little problem that he needed some quick help with, they looked. Once they looked, they started to think about it and then they succumbed. They stopped thinking about anything else, like other people who had asked them for help. I went in to remind them. “Come on, guys. Remember? Remember how I said, can you come up and give me a hand with my room? You said you’d help me? I didn’t say ‘Woo-hoo! Math Party in the living room!!’ ‘Cause that would sound totally different.”

Chris was even worse when they finally came out to help. Chris thought my space heater was inefficient and is it too late to put in a chimney so I can have a woodchip stove? Chris didn’t think that I really need a porch light on a motion detector. He thought a string of lights would be more festive and why don’t we wire it into the other motion detector? He thought we should install a system of large mirrors, reflecting light from the garage door to my room door. I mentioned that we already purchased the porchlight and motion detector and it is hard to sit outside on a warm summer evening reading by a string of Christmas lights. Chris said they would be a big hassle to install. Chris was still distracting my workers.

I said that without a porch light, their princess would be walking to her room in the coldest, darkest, shortest days of the year. I pointed to the unforgiving brick that I would land on when I slipped in the deep black shadows. I hoped I land within reach of the arugula, to give me some sustenance while the rescuers look for me. They kept debating mirrors and Christmas lights. Anand and Chris, it must be said, have some unusual and, quite frankly, revisionist ideas about how robust princesses are.

The whole thing was a debacle. I got some work in and a good burrito. Chris is in Big Trouble. Anand and Arvind are awesome for visiting and being willing to help when they aren’t diverted by schemers who care nothing for my health and safety. I am still a homeless gypsy. I want a little room where I can sleep with my cat.

Deep in the weeds.

Hey guys. I'm sorry. I mean to post funny little anecdotes or admit something universal or defend government, but right now I am slammed. If you were really my boyfriend, I'd tell you about all the chores I'm doing and you would have to pretend to be interested. If it were still the early days (it is always the early days, here on the blog) I would tell you about them in some wry way that makes fun of me. But between all the places I have to get work done and the fact that I no longer have internet at home, blogging is going to lag for a while. Put me on your feedreaders, please, because I'll be back. But for now, slow posting.

Thinking of you fondly,


Thursday, December 06, 2007

I am so touched.

I can't believe it. Tall Chris gave a family a llama for me! I could not be more pleased and touched. Because of me*, a needy family will have warm wool and transport, and will be safe from professors, hippie girls and persimmon rustlers. This is the best Hanukkah present I can remember. Thank you so much, Tall Chris.


I did, in fact, discuss getting a llama with my sister; I said I would in that first post and I keep my word to you. She hadn't read the post when I asked her, so the question "hey, do we need a llama?" came out of the blue. "Is it a pretty llama?" she asked. I love that her first thought was that I had found an actual llama that needed a home and her second thought was to establish that it will be a special llama to us.

*Really because of Tall Chris.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007


I myself would not enjoy mixing the strawberry and mint toothpaste, but I pick my battles. If strawberry and mint toothpaste gets him to brush his teeth, that's fine.

The battles come to me anyway, because after that I have to put the littler little in pajamas and diaper. You wouldn't think it would be that much work for a full-grown weightlifter-type person to dress a very little boy.

The bigger little just told me that if I don't keep rubbing his back, he might have to be very loud and wake up his baby brother. I don't actually mind rubbing his back, but I do resent being extorted by a three year old. He got four long stories. He can fall asleep on his own.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

I wrote to you mid-day:

I’m at a three-day class on Facilitating Effective Environmental Agreements. It’s pretty good. A few thoughts…

I recognize one of the guys in the class, but I haven’t said anything to him. I can’t imagine the conversation going well:

Me: Hi! We know someone in common!
Him: We do?! Great! Who’s that?
Me: You used to date my faithless dog of a former best friend.
Him: Oh-
Me: It just killed her that you never told her you loved her in the couple years you dated. That once made me mad, but now it makes me laugh and laugh.
Him: Right. Um. Yeah. So, how is she?
Me: Fuck if I know. We haven’t spoken since I told her to get the fuck out of my house.
Him: Um. Well. So. Do you think you guys will ever be friends again?
Me: I dunno. I think that should happen sometime after I stop fantasizing about her slow and painful death. You know, one step at a time. I’m not pushing for anything right now. Baby steps.
Him: Good plan, that. I’m gonna talk to the instructor now.

See how that isn’t really a good conversation? I’m thinking I’ll stay incognito.

The problem, and I’ve seen this in every mediation class I’ve ever taken, is that the simulations are crap. People who take mediation classes are all conciliatory and nice. So they read their role statements, go immediately to potential solutions and talk about those for the whole simulation. Not so hard to mediate those.

Not me, though. I haven’t had the chance yet, but I’ve been prepared by tens of hours of interviewing people in Los Osos. When it is my turn, I’m gonna speculate about embezzling and illicit land deals, call everyone a liar, and say I have it all documented. They will be VERY LUCKY INDEED if I don’t call someone a child molester.


People who take mediation classes are sincere. The instructor was telling a story about a very hostile process that had gone on for years. He said the process had gone through the ‘angry reduction’, where only the most diehard and bitter people remained at meetings. He’d worked with them for several meetings, until finally one day in December, someone blurted out, “Let’s have a holiday party!” The whole room lightened, everyone looked around, there was real excitement until someone else said “We can’t. We hate each other.” The mediation collapsed. I thought that was fucking excellent, but the lunch conversation was all about how sad that was. Whatever.

UPDATE: I thought it was super great that for our longest simulation, I played the farmers in the Klamath Basin. Fuck the fish.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Just a few more weeks.

Dennis came over yesterday and we put up the trim. I am so grateful. My room will look sweet and small and lovely when I'm done. I should be relieved. This was the piece that can get me moving again; from here on, I either know how to do it or it can wait. But when we finished the trim, I got so tired. Now hours of caulking, taping, painting and moving in are open to me. Soon as I get those done, I'll be able to finish moving out of my Sac house and out of Chris's parents' house. The chores are all chained and they stretch out further than I can see. I want to hide in a corner.

I don't know what's happening to me. Work doesn't ordinarily get to me. It is simply there, if one wants to live in a pretty room*. Normally, I would trudge steadily through each step. I can picture the result, and I know why you do each step, so I would just do it. But last night I had time to caulk for an hour, which is one hour closer to done, and I simply could not face it. I feel like I've been working for so long, and all it has gotten me is the opportunity to do more work. I am tired.

I keep thinking that this will be the last push for a while. When the room is done, there will be no more to do on it. I will, one day in the near term, have cleared out of my Sac house. All this transition will end; I will apply work to it and it will end.

I've been pushing for months, on this and other stuff to change my life. This is the cost of ending stagnation, right? Straining at a boulder, rocking it back and forth until it breaks from its bed. I keep thinking that soon my new life will gather inertia and I can coast for a while, running on all the energy I've poured into it in 2007. 2008 is my year again. It'll be Rat Year, and I'll live in a beautiful little room in a beautiful new neighborhood. I'll have time to breathe, look up. I'll make new friends and show them this place that I built with my family and my friends.

*I could, I suppose, just leave stuff undone. But you can't escape work; it always finds you. Moving in without finishing the room means moving it out later, doing the same work and moving back in. Perhaps I don't have to make the room all nice, but for now it is the only space that is all mine. Making it pretty will reward me for the rest of my stay there. Unfortunately, I know how grateful I will be later that I did the work now; I'm reminded of that every time I eat something from the garden. Sadly, I have learned that one does things in order and right now the order requires work.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

I didn't want to live in a finished room anyway.

I always say how much I love jargon, but now that I am trying to figure out how to install window and door trim, it is maddening unto tears.

I thought I wanted a stool and apron, but am re-thinking that, both because I don't have the saw or experience or confidence and also because the window opens inward, which would knock the cat off the ledge. (But she would like a window ledge. Ledge on the dutch door is enough for her?)

I can't decide. Is window trim as obvious as it sounds? Measure the reveal, nail in the casings and paint? Or is it as daunting as the diagrams look? Perhaps I will plant peas instead. I already know how to plant things.