Sunday, December 10, 2017

blue-eyed beauty





gemma is a beauty and the light, with snow outside, but overcast, was perfect. i had a last photoshoot with her before she goes to her new home on tuesday. part of me can't believe i'm parting with her, but i am. i can't keep them all and i do so enjoy every minute i have with them.  and with all the texts i've received, her new family will love her too. she's a beauty.

Friday, December 08, 2017

#fivethingsfriday


1. why didn’t i write a book to my child from when she was born? of course, it wouldn’t have been this luminous, beautiful thing that knausgaard wrote. but it would have been my beautiful thing. for my beautiful child.

2. this dark, dreary, rainy part of the year is hard to get through. but candles and comfy socks and cats make it more bearable. all seasons have their time.

3. jane the virgin. what a series! so charming and full of hope amidst the drama. and we need hope amidst the drama these days.


4. life can change in an instant. hold on for the ride. so tight.

5. other people can never really understand your life. no one is in it like you are. this is both terrifying and beautiful.

* * *

these seem much longer on instagram.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

it's been three years


dear dad,

it's been three years now since you left us, which both seems like an eternity and just yesterday. as you know, i mostly talk to you in my head when i'm out in my garden, but i've been a bit absent lately as november is the darkest, most dreary month in denmark. it won't be that long before we go back towards the light and i'll be back to my usual conversations with you as i dig and plant beans and weed the asparagus.

i think you would be sad about mom's decline, but probably not very surprised. over the past year, she's lost her driver's license because she became a danger to herself and others on the roads. she had likely been that for years, with her distracted driving habits, donut in one hand and rooting around in her purse for lipstick or her glasses with the other, but in january things got serious. it took three cops to pull her over, despite driving on the shoulder at a crawl, and she was wearing slippers and no jacket and the windows were rolled down on a bitterly cold january day. some kind soul from platte gave her a ride home that evening, but everyone knew it was time for her to stop driving. the state agreed and took her license.

not driving meant her days in the house were numbered, as she couldn't get anywhere to get groceries or socks or menard's mugs or whatever else she felt obsessed to buy. but her cooking abilities had declined so dramatically after your death, that she wasn't cooking for herself much anyway and her diet was terrible. she'd always had a cavalier attitude to questionable canned foods, and her alzheimer's did not improve that. she wasn't taking very good care of her diabetes and her poor diet didn't help that.

so we found a place for her at tlc. they are kind to her and feed her three solid meals a day. they remind her to take her pills at the appointed times and she's in good physical health. helmet-clad, she rode her bike all summer, going out to the house when she wished. but then people began to call and report that she was in the middle of the road, not off to the side and they were worried about her safety. they reported it to the police and not that long ago, some busybody from the city office had the city's lawyer send a letter, asking for her bike to be taken away. the cow person in question enlisted a relative's help in obtaining moneek's address, but did that relative give her a heads up? no, she did not. that didn't feel too great.

as mom's confusion grows, she gets weird ideas in her head - it's her brain trying to make up for the gaps, to fill them in with something, anything. and it doesn't always make sense. recently, that resulted in her deciding to walk out to the house in the middle of the night - seeking home on some basic level. the police brought her back to tlc and safety, since it was a cold night and she was walking, no longer allowed to ride her bike. and then this week, the state paid a visit, given a heads up to a potential problem with mom by, probably, that cow in the city office. happily, they found only the truth at tlc - happy, content, well cared for residents.

and i'd love to be able to talk to you about it. i'd like to know what you would think. i think you would be disappointed. the supposed christians of that small town, indulging their righteousness, rather than kindness and compassion. all their kind words and admiration of you do not extend to mom, especially not as she loses herself. it makes me sad about platte and think that once she's gone, i may actually never go back there. as i feel now, i certainly feel no desire to do so. i think if i did, i would probably march into the city office and give that busybody a piece of my mind.

but if i look deep inside myself, i have also had trouble finding compassion for mom. she so willfully, studiously avoided being self-examined all these years, tho' she didn't avoid being selfish. it's been hard to watch and hard to summon compassion. but when i think of all she's lost since she lost you three years ago...her driver's license and thus her freedom, her home (it's still there, but she doesn't live in it), her horses, her mind, her memories, her friends (it's hard to be friends with someone with alzheimer's), her phone (she never knows where it is)...i do feel sorry for her. and i think it would make you sad too.

we miss you and we also miss her, even tho' she's still here in body. but i'll tell you more when i'm back in the garden.



* * *

and for something completely different:
these pictures are very striking.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

art journaling lately











a limited palette. a feather as a brush. painting with acorns. white and gold gel pens. my art journal as of late. a kind of meditation. letting it carry me where it will. payne's grey. astoriabraun, bordeaux. ink.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

#metoo


the whole harvey weinstein thing has opened the floodgates. i wonder why his was the straw that broke the proverbial camel's back? why wasn't it last year's pussy grabbing candidate who instead was elevated to president? was it because we care more about oscar-winning actresses than we do miss universe contestants or slovenian (super?)models?

on monday, i awoke to countless posts in my facebook feed with the #metoo hashtag. the idea was that if all of us who had experienced sexual harassment or discrimination posted that, we would show the world how widespread it was.

i copied, pasted and made the post my own then deleted it, in doubt whether to post. twice. and then i thought, fuck this, we've been made to feel we can't speak for too long and now it's time to finally speak, so i posted it. adding the hashtag #misogynistdinosaurs since my particular version was more sexual discrimination than rape.

at least what i was prepared to admit both to myself and there on facebook, in that moment.

and i saw as the day progressed that my friends had copy/pasted my post, including my #misogynistdinosaurs hashtag, and i was glad i had posted. it made me feel less alone. but at the same time, i was a little shocked at how many #metoo posts were filling my feed. so many women that i know have been sexually harassed in some fashion. it's sobering.

i pondered it all day and eventually felt that i had to admit that i had hesitated to post it myself. both because i wasn't sure i wanted to admit it so publicly and because i was finding it hard to respond with an emoji to the posts that were in my feed. thumbs up seemed wrong. crying seemed too depressing and a heart emoji seemed to convey that i loved that they'd been abused. what i wanted was an emoji that would express women standing in a circle, holding one another (and i'm not a hugger, so this is big for me), in deep solidarity and sorrow over a shared experience. but facebook gives us a limited range of emoticons (and possibly emotions (undoubtedly the stuff of a different blog post)). eventually, i did settle on the heart emoji, because i felt it could also stand in for the love and support i felt towards my fellow women (there were no men in my feed admitting sexual abuse/harassment, but i do recognize that they can also be sexually abused and i would feel for them as well)).

and of course, i thought about my own instances of sexual discrimination and harassment. the first that sprang to mind was that misogynist dinosaur that i encountered in DNV, as well as the troglodyte who was both misogynist and xenophobic towards me on the local board on which i served. close behind was the mansplaining i've experienced over the past couple of years (and my whole life, actually, but it's only in the past year or so that we (women) began to put that name to it).

but the sexual harassment aspect of it also crept into my memories...that creepy asshole at the university of iowa library who was masturbating in the stacks and who made sure that i saw him. his disgusting trail of cum on the floor, dried as white droplets, visible for months afterwards in the PG section, ensuring that i couldn't forget. i reported him immediately to campus police, but they came too late to find him in his dirty old sweats and ratty hoodie. he was never caught to my knowledge, but there were multiple reports of him, i knew this because part of my college job at the local newspaper was to go to the courthouse and get the police reports. and actually, i thought of that asshole recently, when i saw dried white droplets (admittedly probably yogurt) in our stairwell at work, so i never quite shake him off. i wonder where that creep is today?

meanwhile, very good friends were openly admitting on facebook that they had been sexually abused as children, raped as young women, and harassed throughout their otherwise very successful careers. it was sickening, how much we women had endured in silence, feeling somehow guilty for what had been done to us.

sobering, i say. again.

and then i recalled how my relationship with the man who eventually became my first husband started out with an unwanted sexual situation. and i went on to date him for 7 years and yes, even marry him. and sex continued to be fraught with him throughout. and yet i must have thought that was normal, acceptable. what the fuck was i thinking? and where did i get that idea? even tho' he had forced himself on me and then wooed me with hangdog apologies, he also actually said to me that he "couldn't reconcile the good girl he wanted to see me as with a bad girl who would want to have sex." and i married that asshole? what was i thinking? how on earth did i ever think that was ok?

i'm not to the bottom of this yet, but i think it's a very good and therapeutic can of worms this #metoo hashtag has opened. #silverlining


Monday, October 16, 2017

ways of saying goodbye


i went to a funeral recently. it was someone who i had served on a board with, not a close friend, but someone i liked and enjoyed spending time with. not all that long ago, she got a cancer diagnosis and it was aggressive and swift, clearly leaving her husband of 57 years and family reeling. she was the type to be organized and plan everything, so the funeral, which she planned herself, was truly beautiful - the songs she had chosen poignant, the way her family carried her casket out to the gravesite and and how it was lowered down in the grave while patsy cline's version of just a closer walk with thee, was played on a tinny old tape player from the 80s. patsy's dulcit tones on that old player were somehow perfect and i even got tears in my eyes as we stood there on a sunny, beautiful autumn day in a picture postcard-worthy little churchyard in denmark. 

it hit me as i stood there at the funeral, tears in my eyes, that i hadn't had the same opportunity with my dad. he died so suddenly and my work life was in such turmoil at that point, that i felt i had to keep my commitment to a big event that was going to go on with or without me. and at the time, i felt strongly that it was what my dad would have wanted me to do. i still feel that. but it means that i missed his memorial service and the funereal shedding of tears that would surely have accompanied it. last may, we buried his ashes in his plot at the cemetery, but i was a beautiful, sunny day and so much time had gone by, there was less sorrow in the moment. my sister and i had had a fantastic road trip with his two best friends and his ashes a day or so before the ceremony, and so putting what remained in the ground was on some level closure without tears. plus, i had a little jar of his ashes tucked into my suitcase, so i knew it wasn't final final. maybe when i eventually sprinkle those on my garden, i will shed the tears i undoubtedly need to shed.

* * *

karl ove knausgaard on never running out of things to write about.

* * *

swedish death cleaning
"it's like marie kondo but with an added sense of the transience and futility of this mortal existence."


* * *

i'm not the only one who has noticed that we can't talk anymore.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

we can't laugh anymore


i am genuinely worried about the state of the world. not only is it filled with the spray-tanned satan's distractions (see the weekend's nfl bullshit), it's also filled with his name-calling threats at north korea, which has another madman at the helm and possesses nuclear weapons. at least the russian noose seems seems to be tightening, which is probably why he's pandering to his racist, white supremacist base so loudly on twitter. do not pay attention to the man behind the curtain...the great and powerful oz has spoken...

but i fear that all of the noise he has put in the air has rendered us all unable to talk or listen or have a dialogue and worst of all, unable to laugh or joke. about anything and everything. we have become strident and righteous and holier-than-thou where our own beliefs (opinions?) are concerned. and even amongst friends, we can no longer laugh or express an opinion that's might not be in alignment with what that friend currently believes.

not that long ago, at a party, i exploded at someone who trotted out that tired line about what a terrible candidate hillary clinton was, so i am as guilty as anyone else. and seriously, has there ever been a person more genuinely prepared to be president? (don't get me started). but genuinely, it's a trend that worries me.

here's an example:

forgetting these righteous times that we are in, i accidentally got involved in a strident exchange on a friend's facebook page about the words idiot, moron and imbecile. she posted that we shouldn't be using these words anymore, we should do better. and she feels this acutely since her beautiful daughter has the extra chromosome of down's syndrome.

in the early part of the last century and probably on through the 1950s, these words were psychological diagnoses for people of an IQ below 50 (and in some cases below 25), and people with down's syndrome fell into this category. i appreciate that. however, they are no longer used in this way in psychology and have entered mainstream speech, on par with stupid and dumb (dumb surely also had a diagnosis attached at one point).

thinking that if we don't laugh about the spray-tanned satan, we must curl up in fetal position and cry uncontrollably (an option i've also tried), i attempted to joke on my friend's post against the use of such words, asking if we couldn't still apply them to him since it was a kind of diagnosis. this is a friend who i have known for nearly a decade and who i know to have a wonderful sense of humor and who knows, in her heart of hearts, that i would never purposefully be mean to her or her child. but it seems that her humor is gone in these days of righteous indignation and so she and her possé of like-minded folks, jumped all over me for my insensitivity and accused me of insulting her child. i was sincerely not insulting her child, i was insulting trump. you see, those words are no longer used as terms of diagnosis, and haven't been during my lifetime, and they have taken on (or perhaps returned to) meanings that pretty accurately apply to the current president. 

the fact is, words often change meaning over time...

Idiot Origin: 1250–1300; Middle English < Latin idiōta< Greek idiṓtēs private person, layman, person lacking skill or expertise, equivalent to idiō-(lengthened variant of idio- idio-, perhaps by analogy with stratiōtēs professional soldier, derivative of stratiá army) + -tēs agent noun suffix

even mark twain used idiot in the sense i meant it: "Reader, suppose you were an idiot. And suppose you were a member of Congress. But I repeat myself." - [Mark Twain, c.1882] so perhaps the psychological designation assigned to the word was the aberration.

maybe we need to return to a place where we can talk to one another, joke about things that are serious, not look for offense where none is meant, and thereby cope with these times in a way that helps us all. is that too much to ask?

* * *

these architectural depictions of mental illnesses are poetic and beautiful.

* * *

when in macedonia...
aka, there's an app for that.

* * *

have you listened to alone: a love story?

Sunday, September 17, 2017

the view from sunday night


i doodled this with a feather and payne's grey ink while watching goldfinger with my family. we're making our way through all of the james bond films, from the very beginning. i'm struck by that sean connery wasn't actually that cute when he was younger and he's kind of a terrible actor. the fight scenes are the worst and there are hilarious low budget moments in the film. it doesn't hold up well and yet it's still somehow iconic. i was happy that i was drawing during it tho', i think it might have been wasted time if i hadn't been.

* * *


it was a good weekend - spent mostly in the company of kittens, who are at peak playful. i opened a photo exhibition (more about that below). the afternoon was sunny on saturday, so i mowed the lawn, which makes me surprisingly happy. i only stopped when it started to rain and would have liked to have kept mowing. we have a big lawn and to do all of it takes over an hour, but i'm always a little bit sad when it's done. i made homemade sweet & sour chicken for saturday dinner, which is easier than i thought it would be, even making the sauce from scratch. we had homemade black currant ice cream with hot fudge sauce for dessert. i saw not one, but two tiny baby hedgehogs in the garden. i picked blueberries, blackberries, raspberries and pears in the garden and made them into a beautiful crostata (just another name for a rustic, lazy person's pie). i did all of the laundry, which gives me satisfaction as well, less than the lawn mowing, but satisfying nonetheless. i picked elderberries and made juice. they're small and tho' i picked a kettleful, it only made one bottle, so i'll have to go in search of more, because just one bottle won't do. there's nothing better than a warm elderberry beverage on a winter day.


* * *


i hung some of my photos as an exhibition in our gallery space at our local library. i was a bit disappointed in the quality of the prints i ordered online (photobox, i'm looking at you), but now i know not to order there. it is still nice to see them printed, framed and hung all together - in this digital world, we don't do this enough. i thought i was choosing photos on the theme of "in the wild," with a focus on nature, but they all seem to be rather still and quiet and not wild at all. it's interesting, actually. it must be something i instinctively sought - moments of peaceful stillness.

* * *

i'm really sick of the punditry dissing hillary for writing a book about her experience as the first woman presidential candidate of a major party. of course she should write a book and of course she should analyze what happened and what went wrong. she has every right to do so. she may not have sufficient distance to come to the ultimate conclusion (i don't know yet, as my copy hasn't arrived), but she has every right to write it. she lived it and it must have hurt like a motherfucker to lose to that buffoon. so shut the fuck up already and let her have her say. i can't help but think that if she were a man, there wouldn't be the same snide comments about the book.

* * *

the venerated TLS published a cover story by a nicholas gibbs, who claimed to have deciphered the voinych manuscript. the atlantic (and others) say, not so much. and this guy claims, on twitter, that nicholas gibbs doesn't even exist, and the whole thing is a pale fire-style stunt. whatever it is, that infernal manuscript continues to fascinate.

* * *

they say that postmodernism is dead. but aren't we still living it? what were we thinking, questioning reality and whether anything could be real? what a mess that's gotten us into now, with a post-truth spray-tanned president spewing his daily lies on twitter. could it get any more postmodern than that?

* * *

what happened to leftovers?


Friday, September 15, 2017

sorrow and bile

i just looked at a list of my facebook friends who have liked the spray-tanned satan's facebook page and i am feeling an odd mixture of sorrow and bile. several names were not a surprise, but a number of them were. one feels like a direct provocation towards me, but i have to remember that not everything is about me. however, it may be yet another sign that i need to do a purge on that particular account. there are a couple more on that list that can definitely go as well. some of those that were expected, i fear i have to keep (tho' they were long-ago unfollowed) because they are...gasp...family.

i had a very interesting session today at work with an mbti consultant. and i think that my reaction this evening to that list of cheeto-loving friends, is part of the processing of my session today. it was part therapy and part coaching and it was very good, energizing and positive. i think it came at the right moment for me - at a moment when i am feeling strong enough to take it, but fragile enough to need it. good timing. and undoubtedly good for me.

i gained insight into my own feelings since the election of that clown - because they have been unexpected, surprising and even bewildering in their intensity - even as i live inside them. i haven't solved it for myself, not by any means, but i learned something about them and how to go about understanding and working through them. and that's a start.

but first, a bit of unfriending...

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

energy leech

i spent the day in the company of an energy leech. you know the type. hyper, never stops talking, never stops offering unsolicited and unwanted opinions, never stops awkward attempts at what's supposed to be flattery, but widely misses the mark. your heart sinks from the moment you realize she's there, wondering why? why? why? and once again being utterly convinced that god must not exist, because if s/he did, s/he would never let this happen. like a black hole, sucking all of the good vibes, energy and positivity out of the room. perhaps that's not fair, because she is weirdly positive, aside from the snide remarks about how you're not taking the right norwegian fish oil and you probably should be (since it's apparently what's making her withstand chemo without feeling a thing (never mind that it probably gave her the cancer in the first place (but i digress. (oops, was that out loud?)))). and in the end, you can no longer see whether that grading is giving things a yellow or green or blue or purple tinge, because she has stolen every last bit of your energy. and did i mention that she never stops talking? and you miss yoga class because the edit runs two hours and fifteen minutes past the scheduled time (did i mention the incessant talking?) and so you stumble onto the street and rush to h&m to get new tights and pony tail holders and stop by sephora to check out rihanna's fenty line of highlighters to console yourself. and you get a golden milk (almond milk + turmeric) to fortify (in lieu of that carcinogenic fish oil), which turns out to be your dinner (by choice). and you wonder if you're too old for such things and if you can bill someone for time you'll never have back.

Monday, September 11, 2017

of hurricane fatigue and the spray-tanned satan

i've battled for months (how long has that spray-tanned satan been president?) with jaw problems from clenching my teeth in my sleep. i find it difficult to let go of the stress the man causes me with his one outrageous, unpresidential, moronic tweet after another. but recently, i've noticed a kind of numbness coming over me. i still can't stand to hear his voice, but i fear i'm becoming immune to the ignoramus, and along with him, my sense of outrage or even empathy is fading. i've noticed it most in connection with these hurricanes. even tho' i know a couple of people who were in the path of both - one who was close to her due date with her first child (he came and they are both totally ok), i have had a hard time mustering caring about it. i've exuded more than few sighs as i open my nytimes app or listen to the daily, and it's all harvey and irma all the time. isn't there any other news? and i fear that it's because the cheeto has rendered me immune. because what can possibly be worse than him? but it's so dangerous to let him render us numb and uncaring. because then we are truly lost. i've got to do something to get back my empathy and caring. but what if it takes a hurricane of our own?

Monday, September 04, 2017

back to the mat


i returned to the yoga mat this evening after too long an absence. one thing or another got in the way all summer long and i am reluctant to admit that i hadn’t been at all in over two months. i have been noticing the twinges of the nerve damage brought on by my back problems returning to my left leg of late, so i knew i had to get back into the studio. i chose a restorative class to ease my out-of-shape muscles back into it. the instructor was a lovely little wisp of a thing in a black leotard and big cozy hand-knitted sweater. in her soothing voice, she told us that we would need at least four blankets and two bolsters. i always feel a bit greedy taking three blankets for these classes...one for the mat, one as a pillow and one to cover up with at the end during savasana…so four felt a bit decadent. by the end, we had actually all used six, which felt like the height of luxury. they are heavy, cream-colored cotton blankets that can be folded into all sorts of supports and which provide the perfect weight to ground you during savasana.

under the guidance of the instructor’s melodic, calm voice, for an hour and a half, i reconnected with my body, mentally investigating all of the tensions and twinges and sore spots. i melted into the mat, synesthetic colors – rich, mahogany brown with flecks of light blue and then pink and magenta swirled before my closed eyes. i felt a kind of hum of alignment with the earth’s energy, radiating into me from the solid floor beneath my mat. it felt rich and energizing and right. the nerves in my left leg protested at times, but they were also grateful for the attention and the time i gave them after so many weeks of neglect.

i live in my head so much of the time and so often take my body for granted. and i suppose that i will again, but it felt good to choose to be in my body and with my body for a concentrated hour and a half. i think i’ll go do it again tomorrow night.

Saturday, September 02, 2017

eyes wide open :: you can't fix someone else


my throwback impulse is passive aggressive. someone who i thought was a friend, a very good friend, in fact, recently proved not to be so. for reasons apparently beyond my comprehension. when she began ghosting me, i went through all of the stages - worry - was she ok? did something happen to her? was she ill? taken by pirates? kidnapped by drug lords? i even texted another of her friends to ask if they had heard from her. then there was guilt - i spent quite a lot of time feeling vaguely guilty that i had done something that i wasn't aware of, but i sincerely couldn't think of what it might be. we parted on a good note - with a very fun, laughter-filled photoshoot. that couldn't be it. but eventually i realized, it really truly wasn't about me. it was her. i finally received a cryptic and disingenuous email that only bewildered me more. and then it dawned on me, that akin to a breakup, i just needed to get the few things i'd left at her place, and get the hell out. and when i stopped by, she was super weird, claiming to be on her deathbed ill, offering a lame excuse that sounded like a tired lie and then posting instagram pictures of a dinner with another mutual friend the next day. (damn you social media.) and while i still don't understand it, i have arrived at the place where i no longer want to. whatever her flaky, vague, dishonest motivations are, they actually have nothing to do with me. they are hers alone. and i hereby release both her and myself. and it's like a weight has lifted from my shoulders. you can't fix other people. and you can never be inside of who they are. and frankly, you probably don't even want to be.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

payne's grey is my spirit animal (or something)




i love payne's grey tusch and the main thing i like to sketch is naturey stuff. i watered down the ink and painted with a feather i found on the beach. bliss.

Monday, August 28, 2017

relaxed and recharged


we have finally had a few summery days and i had the most wonderful weekend with ten other creative women in a lovely place in a charming town - eating good food, laughing a lot, painting and talking and drawing and walking on the beach together. i am recharged and relaxed and ready for a visit from an old friend. well, not quite ready - i've got to vacuum and get the linens changed on the bed tomorrow morning - but there's time for that. and after such a lovely weekend, time seems to stretch into exactly the amount i need. there was even time this afternoon for a little nap. (i took the day off, you see.) these sort of moments are something we allow ourselves too seldom, so i'm luxuriating in mine and hoping to hold on to a bit of it for the next time it all seems to be too much.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

magnifying the woes of the world


i scroll my facebook feed and it depresses me. it's filled with scorn and outrage for the spray-tanned freak that holds the reins in the land of my birth. i too feel scorn and outrage for him and his most recent behavior (e.g. the past 7 months). but i also find it exhausting. and so i post pictures of kittens and i spend time with them and their joyous little souls. and i clean and tidy and donate and throw away and organize in our "box room." and between rain showers, i go out to the garden and i try to convince bella to be my friend. and i sit with molly and talk to billy and i pick kale and carrots and beans and cucumbers. and i feel better for a few minutes. but the monster is still there. and facebook still continually throws him in my face. and so i wake in the morning with an aching jaw and i try to forget. but i can't help but think that's not the right thing to do. there must be something we can do. that we should be doing. other than sharing the words of people more eloquent than we are or more outraged, to people to whom it won't make an iota of difference. and meanwhile climate changes means we haven't had any summer. and that weasel pulled out of the paris accords, which, while weak, were at least an agreement that most everyone agreed upon. and i wonder if bringing a child into the world was the right thing to do in light of the world we are leaving her. and i think those fucking assholes who voted for him should be ashamed of themselves. and i fear many of them are members of my family. and i think back to myself, screaming at my mother from a street in paris, as she told me how horrible obama and hillary were and how they were trying to take away her right to be a christian. and i remember thinking about how horrible it was that it might be the last conversation i'd ever have with her, since i certainly wasn't speaking to her again after that utter bullshit. and i told her so. and for a few minutes, it scared her back into her old self and we actually ended up having a proper conversation. tho' my throat was raw the next day from the screaming. and now this is my memory of paris. and i feel despair again. for all of the things that are lost and irreparable...the damage the cheeto is doing. and the loss of the mother i remember. and i realize facebook is but the magnifier of the woes of the world.

Friday, August 18, 2017

uploading 63%....


63%...the plumber backed his oddly large truck into the roof and broke some bits off. of the roof, that is, his truck appears to be fine. i am annoyed looking through my instagram feed at people whose work consists of taking the same picture over and over and sharing it every day (says the girl who constantly posts cats)...72%...i'm watching the percentage of my upload crawl ever-so-slowly upward. it's cloudy and grey. again. i'm not really having as bad a day as it sounds...76%...it's just boring watching files upload. and i'm tired of the grey. and i'm really tired of that out-of-focus, bokehlicious, pretentious reflection shot of princess leia. get over it already and move on to another motif...84%...91%...(the ellipses represent much more time than you might imagine)...the millennial podcast announced their last episode yesterday...it seemed as self-absorbed and self-conscious as the rest of it had been...a few recent episodes had seemed like they'd run out of ideas and navels at which to gaze anyway, so it was time...another podcast i'm finding annoying after initially liking it is not by accident. it also has descended into some kind of self-pity party. yes, we get it, being a parent and having a job is tiring and hard and not for the faint of heart...96%...when will this bloody upload ever complete? it's only 18 photos! 98%...i think i'm ready for the weekend to begin...the child is having a few beers in a park with her new classmates after school, so i don't have to pick her up...99%...also, i'm cranky (it is hangry, perhaps?)...so i'm probably not being fair to the two podcasts mentioned above...i'm just in a mood...i'm sure they're lovely people with perfectly lovely navels upon which to gaze...98%...how did it go back down? i think i need me some kitten time...happy weekend if there's anyone out there...99%...100%.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

to grieve or not to grieve, that is the question


so many thoughts swirling in my head of late, especially as i listen to podcasts, which i do constantly. i don't always know if the podcasts provoke the thoughts or reflect them. a growing suspicion that i suck at grieving has been crossing my mind of late. and then a couple of podcasts i listened to on the way home today covered the topic of grief - this week's death, sex & money and malcolm gladwell's revisionist history touched upon it as well.  i don't know if they helped me work through my own struggles or not.

it comes down to that i don't think i've properly grieved for my father. i shed tears on the plane on the way there, as he lay dying in a hospital, nearly three years ago, but i don't think i've really, truly cried about his death. and i am not sure that i know how. there are times when i miss him acutely. most often when i'm in the garden, which is also where i talk to him. he's come to my sister on two occasions, reassuring her, but i've not even heard a whisper from him. i'm not envious exactly, more puzzled. is it because i lack the ability to open that portal to him? am i less open to it? or am i at another stage of my grief than she is? have i even started it properly? can i even recognize it? these are the thoughts that have me convinced that i suck at grief.

but it's also mom's decline. alzheimer's is so cruel and strange. she's still here, but it feels like we already need to grieve her. i don't even know this strange fabulist she has become...telling lies, or perhaps fractured fairy tales, to explain the world around her in a way that makes sense to her, as her brain fills with holes and erases the old ways of making sense. i worry that my good memories of her are being similarly erased, but i'm not sure that what i feel at this stage is grief. i find it hard to even summon pity, which sounds horrible, i know and then i feel guilty for that. but it remains that it's how i feel at the moment. 

and then i can't help but wonder if i ever properly grieved for sophia. when it happened, i was so sick and we had sabin to focus on, so did i properly grieve her passing and the passing of the specialness of being a mother of twins? i don't know. it seems like maybe it got pushed under somehow and never really dealt with, though i have always been able to speak of it, so it's not like that. but is glibly being able to mention it the same as dealing with it? i suspect not.

but how are you supposed to know how to grieve? i think our culture today places so much pressure on us to get back into the saddle immediately that we maybe don't give ourselves time. maybe grief takes years. maybe it doesn't look a certain way. maybe i don't wailingly grieve my father because i think he lived a long, amazing, worthy life and died the way he would have wished, so i can have nothing but respect for him and and be grateful for the time we had and how he shaped who i am. maybe i don't wail because it was his time and i feel that in my heart and while i am sad for me and for us and for mom that he's not here, i'm not sad for him per se. or maybe i just suck at grief.

with mom, it's more complicated, due to the disease and that she's still here, strangely more physically fit than ever, even as her personality changes so radically that she seems like someone i don't know. maybe grief doesn't come because the time isn't right. maybe i will learn to grieve when it's needed, or find my own way to do so. maybe our grief is singular, individual, so unique that i don't even recognize it because it's so much a part of me.

oddly, i think i've grieved harder for lost jobs than for lost loved ones. what does that say about me or about the times in which we live? what we do is so important to identity that we feel it as a loss of self when we leave a job, whether it's by choice or not. and so a period of mourning follows.

and then i wonder if grief is really about missing who we once were? do we lose that? or do we contain it within us, so there's no sense grieving it...

as you can see, i have more questions than answers. and rather a lack of grief. or at least the ability to grieve in a definable way...

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daily affirmations from lenny.
"fucking up is how you go pro." - words to live by, i tell you.

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i want to be e. jean when i grow up.

Friday, July 14, 2017

the scent of the summer


you know, if you've been reading for awhile, that i love perfume. i recently read this piece about finding your personal scent in the lenny letter. and it's all about layering. even before reading this, i had taken to combining a couple of scents - at the moment, it's been a rather unorthodox combination of the sweetness of  for her by narciso rodriguez and the spicy, greenish masculinity of vetiver insolent by miller harris, but it's felt like the right scent for me at the moment. i was relieved to read in the article that a note or two of something rancorous is in fashion, since this cold, damp summer combined with living in our old farmhouse, my personal scent is surely laced with a healthy dose of mustiness from the damp that seeps up through the brick walls thanks to high ground water. there's probably also a dash of litterbox needing to be changed and perhaps a vague aroma of spilled coffee thrown in, which may be a note or two too many of rancour.


when we were in lithuania, i ran into these beautiful scents, named after italian cities, in a high end perfume shop. i'm not even sure who makes them. i tend to have trouble with scents and my own body chemistry, as they can turn rather nasty on me, especially if they are full of synthetic ingredients. but i tried, over a couple of days, four of these gorgeous scents and they all just got more beautiful on me. tho' at €149 per bottle, i didn't buy one, having decided we were having a vacation experience, not a vacation shopping trip. but, i may have to try to find them again and buy one, as they were just gorgeous. the packaging is simple and elegant as well. they have everything one could hope for in a scent. maybe this autumn..i think florentia would be lovely when paired with the dusky scent of autumn leaves.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

stitching identity :: kgb museum vilnius


we had three teenagers with us in lithuania, so we told them we had to visit a museum. after perusing a swedish brochure we found at our rented apartment, they chose the museum of genocide victims, mostly due to its other name - the KGB museum, owing to the fact that it is housed in the former KGB headquarters (look at me, capitalizing KGB...hmm, i'll have to ponder that) of the soviet state of lithuania.


it's a moodily-lit place, in keeping with its sober subject, and has a big focus on the lithuanian patriots/revolutionaries who resisted the soviet yoke, especially in the decade after stalin and hitler sealed their fate without consulting them in a secret agreement in the early days of the second world war. the green cells in the basement, where prisoners were held, interrogated and tortured and then, quite literally, taken out back and shot, were stark.


but i think it was most struck by the stitched objects on display. most were made by prisoners who had been exiled to camps in siberia. they obviously used scraps of fabric and thread that were at hand. stitching to hold onto their homes, loved ones and traditions. and the stitched items were made by both men and women, both having a need to cling to their home and memories.


the sign said that this little black striped pouch contained some lithuanian soil and that the prisoner had kept it with him throughout his confinement in a siberian hard labor camp. i have a jar of stones from south dakota, where i grew up, so i could relate to this. we have a need to hold onto something tangible of where we come from.


some of the stitched cloths were large and all were beautiful. each stitch holding a memory of home and comfort and family. such beauty coming out of such adversity. it's amazing.


it was also a way of keeping their religion and belief alive, as sometimes the cloths were used in religious rituals and at holidays, like easter, which they surely practiced at great peril.


there were other objects, made of materials at hand - birchbark containers and the like, but i found the stitching most fascinating. especially since it wasn't just women who were stitching, but men as well, in a human need to hold onto beauty and home.


there were many pouches, which surely held precious mementos, like the wrapped-up soil of home or a photo of loved ones or a locket. there were also sayings, carefully stitched in lithuanian, a way of physically holding onto language and culture. each stitch a small act of defiance against the oppression, each stitch a way to hold onto an identity that was being torn away.


and i wonder if my soft guns aren't a similar way of coping with the sense that my very foundation has been ripped away by that ridiculous clown that cheated and colluded his way into the white house, robbing me of any pride i may have had in being american. maybe not, but they are definitely an act of defiance and mocking of the gun culture that has so strongly taken hold. not as deep as the items in the genocide victims museum, but a small act against the regime nonetheless.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

vilnius :: a hidden gem









if you hang out with me on instagram, you know that we spent last week in lithuania and we loved it. there are a few shots of sights that i actually managed to take with the real camera and not share on instagram. i'll admit most of my shots were taken with my iPhone 7+ - that camera is the shit and hey, it's right there in my pocket. but lithuania was really great. it's lovely, with cobblestone streets and beautiful buildings, vilnius is totally walkable and full of cafés where you can a seriously excellent latte for €2. i highly recommend it. it's like prague without all of the awful tourists. shh, it's a hidden gem. and i don't want everyone to know about it and spoil it. because i'm definitely going back.