Thursday, December 22, 2011
from Toward the Solstice
by Adrienne Rich
...If history is a spider-thread
spun over and over though brushed away
it seems I might some twilight
or dawn in the hushed country light
discern its greyness stretching
from molding or doorframe, out
into the empty dooryard
and following it climb
the path into the pinewoods,
tracing from tree to tree
in the failing light, in the slowly
its constant, purposive trail,
till I reach whatever cellar hole
filling with snowflakes or lichen,
whatever fallen shack
or unremembered clearing
I am meant to have found
and there, under the first or last
star, trusting to instinct
the words would come to mind
I have failed or forgotten to say
year after year, winter
after summer, the right rune
to ease the hold of the past
upon the rest of my life
and ease my hold on the past.
If some rite of separation
is still unaccomplished
between myself and the long-gone
tenants of this house,
between myself and my childhood,
and the childhood of my children,
it is I who have neglected
to perform the needed acts,
set water in corners, light and eucalyptus
in front of mirrors,
or merely pause and listen
to my own pulse vibrating
lightly as falling snow,
relentlessly as the rainstorm,
and hear what it has been saying.
It seems I am still waiting
for them to make some clear demand
some articulate sound or gesture,
for release to come from anywhere
but from inside myself.
A decade of cutting away
dead flesh, cauterizing
old scars ripped open over and over
and still it is not enough.
A decade of performing
the loving humdrum acts
of attention to this house
transplanting lilac suckers,
washing panes, scrubbing
wood-smoke from splitting paint,
sweeping stairs, brushing the thread
of the spider aside,
and so much yet undone,
a woman's work, the solstice nearing,
and my hand still suspended
as if above a letter
I long and dread to close.
Monday, December 19, 2011
According to wikipedia, "The bill would allow the U.S. Department of Justice, as well as copyright holders, to seek court orders against websites accused of enabling or facilitating copyright infringement. Depending on who requests the court orders, the actions could include barring online advertising networks and payment facilitators such as PayPal from doing business with the infringing website, barring search engines from linking to such sites, and requiring Internet service providers to block access to such sites."
Block. access. to. a. site.
Got a can of coke in your hand in that facebook profile pic? Could be a felony conviction, up to 5 years in jail. Not kidding. (And that's two copyright infringements right there!)
How SOPA will break DNS: In case you were trying to figure out how broken the Internet will be if SOPA passes, have a look at this article and this article from DynDNS, one of the world's leading DNS providers.If you think this is all a bunch of goldarned hooey, contact your legislator and tell them so. You can tell them I sent you.
Monday, December 05, 2011
I had read about this facebook project, and was kind of excited to be interviewed for part of it (although really I did it to get yet another awkward picture of me posted online) at the artwalk last week. My photo (awkward!) is up on the facebook page of the facebook project, but none of my lengthy "one or two sentences" answer is attached yet.
I have been trying to figure out whether the project is completely masturbatory, or if it's the kind of sociographic-ish thing I'm into, and I haven't made up my mind. In its favor, I like art that is participatory, and I get really excited about anything that has the vaguest whiff of radio about it, which the recorder that was used to capture my half-formed ramblings about facebook friendship did. I'm looking forward to see where this project goes.
Monday, November 28, 2011
Sunday, November 27, 2011
In a Word
n. one who is fond of the forest
n. a toll for passage through a forest
Sunday, November 20, 2011
Wednesday, November 16, 2011
(via the awl)
Saturday, November 12, 2011
Chinese elderly citizens' choir covers Lady Gaga's "Bad Romance"
Friday, November 04, 2011
Sunday, October 23, 2011
Friday, October 21, 2011
I've been working since I was 14. The only time I have not worked was because of layoffs. I returned to full time work after 7 weeks of maternity leave. I've worked up to three jobs at a time to make ends meet. I work.
But when my short-term disability claim was denied, I had to reconsider. I reflexively thought, "what are these people thinking? I CAN'T work right now, even though I want to." And then I recoiled against the truth of that thought.
It's the truth. I am temporarily unable. I am lucky in that this is not (I hope) a permanent situation. I will get better, with time and care.
But for now, I can't, and now I need to prove that for an appeal. That means embracing my status without judgment or shame. It's not easy, and it adds to my stress and depression, but it's the absolute truth.
When I used to do anti-oppression trainings, I used to say that if you don't see some kind of -ism as a privilege, you probably have that privilege. It's easy to recognize your own lack of privilege: ask a woman if sexism exists and she'll most likely tell you a dozen stories that prove that it does. Ask a queer person if heterosexism or genderism exists and they could open magazine and show you six examples in six seconds. But while I have recognized ableism as a sort of abstract problem, I had never experienced it on my own, and never had to confront it in my own self.
And here it is, another lesson sent to me by the universe to be learned the hard way. I am learning, I am getting better, and I will carry this lesson forever.
Sunday, October 16, 2011
Good article in the Press Herald on opiate abuse; the first of a five-part series. It's like they've been hanging out at my job. (But still really do a good job not demonizing poor people.)
The epidemic has affected Mainers of all ages and backgrounds; middle schoolers and senior citizens, clam diggers and doctors.
"No family is immune from this particular issue,"; said Troy Morton, chief deputy of the Penobscot County Sheriff's Office. "They are the youngest of kids, in their early teens, and people in their 70s. They are the poorest of the poor and the richest. There are no boundaries."
Abuse often starts among teens, who don't understand the danger and are more vulnerable to addiction. Addiction, meanwhile, is most common among young adults who were in their teens when the pills first flooded into Maine communities.
Link to the full story:
But I think the real solution is a rift that is very deep in our society. The tea party and the 99% exemplify this in a (relatively) positive way (in the sense that all activism is positive, not that I always agree with it).
I think that everybody feels it to some extent--those that don't hide their feelings behind addictions to drugs, alcohol, shopping, tv--all the things that distract us from what's really happening around and within ourselves.
I don't know what it is that is broken. Or the many things, more accurately. Maybe it's a lack of hope, explaining the popularity of Obama's campaign messaging and why it resonated with so many people. We want change; we want reason to hope. We want to find hope and love within ourselves, and reflected in the society in which we live.
I'm not nostalgic for a time that seems simpler in retrospect. I'm interested in how to move forward, using those lessons of history, to see a completely different society.
I don't know if it would work, given the size of the united states. Perhaps it would help to divide the country into regional blocs. Perhaps it would help if gas went up to $6 a gallon and people were forced to interact with each other on public transportation, and local food became cheaper than imported.
Maybe if student loan debt were forgiven, like some of the 99% propose, a generation would see hope instead of a crushing future of debt payments. Maybe Internet should be funded and provided by the government, like libraries, so that people can communicate with each other in the modern day versions of traditional coffee-houses, exchanging ideas, debating, and engaging with each other. (And watching videos of cute kittens too, of course. And pr0n, inevitably, people being people).
Until this is done, people will continue to numb themselves from the incredible stress of 21st century living in whatever is the cheapest, easiest way. It's not even about the drug itself, I think--although addiction makes stopping incredibly difficult--it's about a people divided and confused, inundated into apathy, hopeless and lost, waiting for the bright shiny future we were promised--a future that actually waits just on the other side of a collective demand for it.
Tuesday, October 11, 2011
by The Teen
I am from Jen, [grandpa], [grandma]*
I am from ham and potato eaters, raw vegetable eaters, and bay leaves
From people who love to sing and play word games
I am from “love everyone” to “lieblings”
I am from Christians and Pagans
From a secretary, a president, a seamstress –but mostly from social working
From Munjoy Hill and the blueberry field
From gardens and deer surrounded by green
I am from bubbly, fanatical, but also confused and angry.
I am from tea, a bunny, embroidery and walking
I am from all over the world, but the best place is home
*I did not have their permission to link their names with this blog, so they are redacted.
Saturday, October 08, 2011
Moving right along... here's some handy info if you find yourself in a bad situation during, say, a demonstration (with the caveat that NOBODY should DEFY the POLICE, of course, and also there has been a report that police zipties use metal clips and that this method is much harder in that situation. Not that you would run away from the police, OF COURSE. Because that would be ILLEGAL.)
Friday, October 07, 2011
I made a list tonight with my bro (not a relative, my bromance bro) of things that I don't want to talk about tonight and they include:
1. My atrophied intestines*
2. My ex-fiancee and the circumstances surrounding the end of our relationship
3. Celiac disease
4. Facial tattoos**
6. Disability insurance
7. Medical records
8. Nonpayment of child support
I of course want to avoid these subjects because my mind does a crazy squirrel dance around these things all. day. long. I think about almost nothing else, and none of it is under my control, which leads me into a crazy stress spiral.
|This is my brain.|
Instead I would like to talk about
1. Occupy Maine. I spent a little time down there on Monday (was it Monday? I have zero sense of time/day/time of day right now). I'm excited about the movement, while simultaneously leery of the effectiveness of demonstrations. They were still getting organized on Monday, and seem to have made some progress, but I still feel burned by the lack of effectiveness of the GLOBAL demonstrations against the war in Iraq in 2001-2002.
And also, because of the nature of the demonstration ("occupation"), most of the people occupying are college-age people, because many people, myself included, have families, obligations, and/or chronic illnesses to care for. I'll spend some time there this weekend, I think... maybe I can convince them that being shunted off into a park is less effective than, say, occupying One City Center, where the Portland branch of Bank of America has its headquarters.
But I digress. I hope that this is a sign of real changes to come, but I'm an old, jaded activist these days.
2. Caramel Apple Dip:
Why is there even "apple" in the title? You/I know you/I just eat it with a spoon.
3. Amanda Palmer
I'm pretty much always willing to talk about Amanda Palmer. Seriously, any time.
4. Hanson Flash Mob:
I'm going. Are you? I spent some time flailing around in front of a youtube tutorial today. I'll probably do some more of that tomorrow.
*these are not mine because thank goddess I do not have cartoon intestines, but they look like this. Except not cartoon. I'm a 3.
Wednesday, September 28, 2011
So here's the scoop: I'm out on disability. I am extremely lucky to work at a place that offers short and long term disability coverage, so I still receive a portion of my salary while I sit here at home and do my best to get well. If that wasn't the case, I am sure that I would be soldiering along at my job until I ended up in the hospital, racking up big bills that would lead directly to my existence on the other side of the social services table.
Instead I work at a kind, humane place that genuinely cares about the well-being of its employees, and I am incredibly grateful for that. Thanks to them, and to labor unions, and insurance. You all are the bomb diggity.
This is the third day of my disability leave, and it has become very clear to me why I've been struggling so much the last few months. Every day (so far) I have been able to get up to see the kids off to school, do some housework, take some light exercise (usually a walk downtown--a mile in each direction), take a nap, and prepare dinner. I've also caught up on some of that unpleasant adult-type paperwork that we all have to do--calling insurance companies, paying bills, etc etc. You know, the stuff that people have to do every day.
I was not able to do any of this while I was working, even when I reduced my hours to 20 per week. I would work for four hours and collapse into bed for a nap equal to that time, only to rouse myself for a doctor's appointment or to prepare a half-assed meal for the kids (or left them to fend for themselves with the frozen/instant equivalent of a meal). A good portion of my farmshare went bad because I didn't have the energy to prepare fresh food; this led to its own problem, as my weight continued to plummet (118 lbs at current writing). The housework fell to the side and the apartment collected several cats' worth of dust-kitties...and let's not even speak of the bathroom or the inside of the microwave. Twice my long-distance partner came to do a deep-clean of the apartment, which was awesome, and lasted for about a week. Collection agencies started to call because I hadn't sent out the insurance information for medical procedures performed months ago. My teen (and the teen that is staying with us briefly) were acting out, a result, I'm sure, of the lack of attention I was giving them. I was depressed, feeling like I couldn't manage my life and that it was quickly spiraling out of control.
Not working has made this condundrum so much clearer. Here is a metaphor that I got from somewhere (post in the comments if I stole it from you, please, because it's a good one and it deserves attribution):
Imagine that everyone is given a certain amount of energy chips to get through the day. Every thing you have to do uses one of those chips: prepare a meal, spend a chip. Go to an appointment, spend a chip. An hour at work, a chip. Because my body is so malnourished and debilitated, I have fewer chips than the average person, and so I used them up faster. When I pushed myself to do more, I was borrowing chips from the next day (when I worked three 6 hour days in a row, for example, I had to spend the fourth day entirely in bed).
Now that I am not using up all my chips at work, I am able to not only accomplish things that I have to do in order to live, I have some chips left over to do some things that include healing myself so that I can get back to full energy--like some gentle yoga, learning to cook gluten and dairy free, and healing some of my relationships, and myself.
I am also learning to pace myself, as the most challenging part of this illness is the tsunami of exhaustion that would roll over me seemingly without warning--when my energy chips were gone. I'm learning the limits of what I can do, and to notice when there are tsunami warning signs.
I'm hopeful that a couple of months will be enough to restore me to good health. If it's not, I"ll ask for a couple more. I need to gain about 20 lbs and restore my low vitamin levels. I need to be able to have enough recipes under my belt (haha) to cook healthy gluten free meals every day without having to think too hard about it. I need to learn how to pace my workday, my appointments, my obligations, so that I don't drown.
I also need to find a way to incorporate art into my everyday life, because this gives me energy. Writing here is part of that, and so is cooking. I've been exploring some visual art as well, which is something that I haven't done in some time, but that I enjoyed very much.
I'll keep you posted, literally, on how this is going. If you're not so into hearing about my process, I don't mind. Check out for a while and check back in at the end of November and see how things are going. I'll be right here.
Sunday, July 24, 2011
|October 2009 (slightly over baseline: 155)|
Then, around Christmas-time this year, people started asking me if I was losing weight. I was pleased. I'd put on some weight at the desk job I had before this one (2008-2010), and was at the heavier end of my regular weight spectrum. And I didn't think much more of it. I figured my body was leveling itself off: I had had major surgery in September 2010, and I guessed it could be related to that, somehow.
|July 2010 (About average: 145)|
Until... (and there's always an until in medical stories, right?) I noticed that some glands were swollen on the right side of my neck all the time. And my weight kept sliding down, more and more quickly. I got thrush. I was exhausted all the time. The doctor kept testing me for scarier and scarier things. I got poked, prodded, CT scanned, X-Rayed, and had enough blood drawn to feed a healthy-sized vampire. Nothing showed up. Nothing. And I wasn't feeling better. I started to relate to the people on MYSTERY DIAGNOSIS, which is never a good thing.
|April 2011 (130 lbs)|
I was shrinking out of my clothes, but the doctor seemed pretty sure that it was just stress, and it seemed plausible, because I've certainly had my share of that in the last 12 months.
So we tried a psychotropic med change, which is its own special kind of fun. Ha. That helped my mood a bit, but not the appetite or the weight.
Then, in June, after sounding out my theories with my massage therapist and a couple of friends, I brought them to my doctor.
1. The estrogen prescribed to me wasn't working somehow, or the weight loss was a side effect.
2. Stress. Possible, although I'd never experienced this particular side effect of stress. Usually I eat a lot when I'm stressed. But I am open to the effect that emotions and mental health can have on the body.
3. Gluten. I can hear the collective eye-rolling. I have done some of that myself, which is why I never suggested it to my doc before. Gluten is the new darling of the health-food nuts. People want to connect it to everything from weight loss to autism. But several people said that they had friends who gained weight on a gluten-free diet, because the gluten was affecting how they absorbed nutrients. So I asked my doc, and she gave me the blood test.
|June 2011 (125 lbs)|
I've been on a gluten-free diet since July 5, and I haven't gained any weight yet, but I'm hoping that it will help. I still have some procedures to be performed (hello, invasive camera down my throat!). The fatigue was a LOT better for the first week and has come back, and I'm still learning how to eat in a brand new way. This causes me no small amount of anxiety, because my celiac symptoms are atypical--I don't get the GI symptoms that many people experience, so I don't have any way of knowing if I'm accidentally eating gluten and further damaging my insides. This is terrifying.
I'm also in a bit of mourning for the things I can't have, although there are now (expensive) gluten-free alternatives for most foods. But I'll probably not ever be able to leave my house expecting that I can just pick something up on the way someplace. I'll have to bring my own food to family meals (gluten AND dairy free is a lot to ask of someone cooking a big holiday meal). It's not the end of the world, but there's a definite sadness around eating right now.
I promise that this won't become a celiac blog. There are plenty of those. But I may, from time to time, update my health condition here. Mostly I don't think about it, except at meal times. I like the challenge of learning new ways to cook and eat, and I feel blessed that this is happening at the height of fresh food season, so I can gorge on fresh fruits and vegetables without completely breaking the bank while getting all the calories I need.
Also, big shout-outs to some gf friends who have guided me through this tough time. You know who you are. If you want to be known, post your links in the comments. :)
Sunday, June 12, 2011
Saturday, May 28, 2011
Hey you. You self-aware crackerjack person you. You know what is important to you and still sometimes you find yourself behaving as though you don’t care about it at all. If this happens to you, I can relate. I set my intention to honour my values and over and over again I steamroll right past those intentions with what looks like rebellion. Why do I keep doing that? I ask myself.
Or, on darker days:
There I go again. I’m a total hypocrite. I keep saying how important it is for me to be (gossip-free, eating healthy, balanced) but then I go ahead and (bitch about my co-workers, binge on cinnamon buns, take on more social commitments when I’m already burnt out). What’s wrong with me? I must secretly hate myself and be sabotaging my happiness….
Honey. I know those darker days. Me and darker days, we’re old drinking buddies.
Thursday, May 26, 2011
I'm kind of in a quandary. I have this amazing, awesome, powerful job that I love so much, and generates so many feelings and so much fucking amazing material... and I can't write about it. Not that I can't write about it, but that I can't write what I want about it, because I respect the confidentiality of our clients, and this is a small town, so even the most general characteristics might identify someone.
But I can say that I've been working full time at an agency that provides low-barrier services for homeless and very low-income people in Portland. It is simultaneously the hardest job I've ever had, and sometimes doesn't even feel like work (work to me is sitting at a desk for 8 hours in front of a computer. I get to talk to people all day and I'm lucky if I get to check my email once a day). I am fully engaged with my whole person in this work, for the first time in my life that I can think of.
It's the clients themselves who provide the richness of the job, though. Working with them is making me a better human being, for sure. Every single day I see both the very best and very worst of human nature, and I am learning how to radically accept these things, and in turn myself. And after years of cynicism and coolness and worrying about what other people think (and, OK, pushing away my own feelings), it feels good to care, really fucking care about the people who use our services, to try to be genuine and present in every moment, to learn how to set boundaries with love.... I am growing by large leaps and difficult landings.
And I leave every day exhausted and with a heart full: or worry, of hope, of love, of frustration, of empowerment, of pride, of sadness.
Wednesday, May 11, 2011
Friday, April 15, 2011
Sunday, March 20, 2011
Some of this week's:
Sharing unexpected sunshine and peace on a warm concrete step with a mostly nonverbal client.
Watching the tips of the branches pinken and swell. There are leaves in there.
Finding the first shoots of the bulbs I planted last year (daffodil, tulip, and iris).
Seeing a badass tough guy client help another one who is extremely physically ill.
Waking up to heavy wet snow that is melted in an hour, and imagining all the maple syrup that is coming.
A cup of hot coffee at exactly the right moment.
Irish whiskey buttercream.
I don't think it's a coincidence that so many of these moments involve being aware of seasons/the natural world. Remembering plants' steady process of growing helps me connect with my own slow and steady processes, and know that it is a process, and be OK with that.
Friday, March 04, 2011
Sunday, February 20, 2011
But then, for the past few nights, I haven't been sleeping well, and have been running around the house baking and cooking and cleaning as though I'm preparing for something. This morning it clicked for me--this is my aunt's birthday... the one who passed away in June. Of course, I knew it was her birthday; my extended family is planning to get together later today specifically because of the date. I baked things to take to the potluck. For some reason, though, it didn't really click.
In fact, I had been observing my response to this sort of milestone with detached approval--look at how well I'm handling all this! I can calmly organize a family gathering and clean my house and cook brownies and lemon bars and cleanthehouseandcookdinneranddoallthedishes... Right. Ok. I need to stop for a minute and stop observing and detaching, and just follow this day where it leads.
I do have a treat set up for myself later--a friend with an infant is coming to town, and she's a great listener, and holding babies is a cure for just about any psychological ailment I can think of. And I have knitted presents for this baby.
Also, relatedly, I've been thinking about some new ink to help me remember not to do this shit to myself. Something like this:
*It reads "Nolite Te Carbarundrume Bastardes," which yes, I know isn't real Latin, but is significant to me because of its literary and feminist connotations.
Sunday, February 13, 2011
When I'm not doing these things, I don't have the energy to concentrate on reading much, so I've been playing video games. The Princess and I are about 80% of the way to solving Super Mario Bros for wii, and that represents many many hours of playing. Since Christmas. No matter; I'm sure I'll get my brain back someday. My supervisor estimates that it takes new caseworkers about two weeks to adjust. That would put me back to "normal" at the end of next week.
Yeah, I'll keep you posted about that.
When I was in high school I had a serious love affair with Mario 3. I played it constantly, for hours and hours at a time, until I finished it. And then I started all over again. In some ways, this new obsession with playing reminds me of that time: I was the same age that the Teen is now, going through some life difficulties, looking for an escape that was interesting but didn't tax my mind too much, nor make me anxious.
Some other things I'm up to: trying to watch all the Best Picture nominees before the Oscars (4 to go!), trying to cook all of our winter CSA veggies before they go soft, buying the Teen some supplementary Xmas gifts because I have basically usurped hers (the wii). And working. Yes But every day I've been taking some time to hang out with Mario, and feeling pretty OK about it.
Monday, January 03, 2011
Here it is. 2010.
Organs removed: 3
Visits to the ER: 6 (4 for me, 2 for the princess)
Months spent unemployed: 3
Number of unemployment checks I've received: 1
Cell phones ruined: 2
Cell phones purchased: 3
Dollars spent on car repair: 1000
Weekends as auntie: 3
Babies held: 4
- bollard (4)
- celiac (6)
- Disclosure (34)
- Environment (9)
- Everyday Politics (101)
- Family (47)
- Food (26)
- haha (7)
- lesbian radio (8)
- Meta (29)
- Momming (41)
- Obsessions (123)
- ov (1)
- Poverty (13)
- Promo (6)
- Queer (24)
- Random (114)
- stonecoast (16)
- Tech (10)
- TEOTWAWKI (3)
- Vacation (10)
- work (6)
- Writing (49)
- yarncraft (4)
- ▼ December (4)
- ► November (6)
- ► October (6)
- ► May (3)
- ► 2010 (52)
- ► 2009 (78)
- ► 2008 (175)
- ► 2007 (113)