Saturday, January 02, 2021

lazy first days of january

this is just how it looks outside at the moment, i didn't do any processing to this photo. everything has that cold, nordic blue cast to it. the light should be returning, but i'm not sure i've really noticed it yet. on new year's eve, it actually snowed and accumulated on the ground, though it started out as slush. as you can see, it's mostly gone now, but it was nice to have the brightness it brought.

the new year seems ok so far. i haven't gotten dressed yet, there's no need. the stores are all closed (thanks, mette) and we don't need anything anyway. i've been editing an audio present that was technically for christmas and i finally drove down the road to get a proper signal and uploaded it. after i have a chance to give to the recipient, i'll share it here, as i've uploaded it and made into a little video version using headliner

husband is taking advantage of the click & collect that the diy stores are offering and going to get the supplies he needs for our never-ending building project. i baked a banana cake and it turned out strangely crumbly. it doesn't taste dry, but it kind of looks it. i'm always at a loss as to what to learn from such things.

we found out that our amazon prime video, which we have through, no longer works (thanks, brexit). i'm binge-watching the harry potter films, which luckily, i bought as a set on apple tv, so i'm not dependent upon amazon. i'd actually never seen them before, except in bits and pieces on a plane or in a hotel somewhere. i've always been a reader of harry potter, not a viewer of it. it's kind of amazing watching those kids grow up on screen. and i have the same obsessive desire to see the next one that i always have reading the books. it's such a shame that j.k. rowling has become such a terrible human. 

i'm lazily pondering finishing that quilt top that i made last january - it's a rainbow pinwheel and it would be nice to have a new blanket to snuggle under while we're watching t.v. i've got candles going all over the house and space heaters, but it's cold these days and i am currently regretting that husband disconnected our furnace last summer in the roof project. luckily up 'til now, it's been a mild winter, but it's a bit chilly these days. he didn't reconnect it because he's moving it to another building (which he's almost done building, right beside the house). but almost done isn't done and it's pretty cold around here. and it doesn't help that the fuses blow when i try to run two space heaters and the washing machine at the same time. so it's a good thing i'm just hanging around in the same pajamas these days and not generating a whole lot of laundry.

i'm doing some online research into archaeoacoustics - and ended up reading a couple of weird short stories featuring the notion of being able to play pottery like a record, and hear the sounds "recorded" when it was made. that's a really interesting notion, but one of the stories, a bit of science fiction called buzz from 1981, was super bizarre. the other story, called time shards, was more thought-provoking. the research is for our continuing novel project, which is progressing very nicely. we had a really great session writing together one day last week and we'll definitely be doing that again. it was pretty amazing what we each came up with in 15 minutes. 

these quiet, slightly lazy days feel like the exact right way to ease into the new year. 

i've read a bunch of end-of-the-year wrap ups on various sites and honestly, i just can't face dwelling on 2020 anymore, can you? 2021 is here and while it doesn't feel all that different, it just has to be different, doesn't it? and easing our way into it, with candles and a few days in pajamas, making some nice food with whatever's leftover in the fridge, and maybe going for a walk and catching another installment of harry potter, is exactly the right way to begin. 

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the voyeuristic pleasure of tik tok homes

speaking of harry potter, did you know about snapewives?

put on your tinfoil hat for this one about q.

remember that ghost ship, the alta, that washed up on the shores of ireland last year? i found myself thinking about it. they apparently never did find the owners.

Monday, December 21, 2020

thank you, corona

it's the winter solstice. the longest, darkest day of the year, in what's been a long, dark year. 2020 has tried to kick our asses. and it has mostly succeeded. but, i’ll admit that as far as i’m concerned, it also has been pretty good to me. and i’ll also admit that it feels a little problematic of me to say that. but, honestly, it has. i started a new job two days before denmark shut down the first time and said that everyone who chould work at home should work at home. i’ll admit that i was a little freaked out on that friday. i had just returned from a long-planned holiday in barcelona that we didn’t cancel. we didn’t know then how bad the virus would become. we had planned the previous october to meet sabin in barcelona and have a family vacation. and we did it. husband did go home early, because it had rained all of february and the water table was high and leaking at an alarming rate into the pantry adjacent to our kitchen. but we had a wonderful holiday together and even after husband left, sabin and i enjoyed our time together. we had fabulous cocktails, we shopped and ate great food. it really couldn’t have been better. 
on that weird friday, two days into my job and with the virus hanging over all of us, it was windy and i stopped at the grocery store in the little town where i work. the wind blew the car door out of my hand as i got out and i was so distracted, i didn’t even notice that it hit the vehicle next to me. unfortunately, the girlfriend of the guy who owned the vehicle did notice and pointed out that my car door had rubbed the dirt off her door when i returned to my car. her hysterical boyfriend rode his bike over to talk to me. i stupidly and distractedly gave them my phone number and they actually reported to insurance that the dirt was rubbed off their door and convinced their friend to declare that the entire car needed repainting. which ended up on my insurance. but i digress. and it was all because i was distracted. and stupidly and unlike me, didn’t take a picture at the scene, so i couldn’t dispute it. i also stupidly let on that i spoke danish. that was dumb. and possibly 2020 getting the best of me. 

but it may have been the only place where it did. because even two days into my new job, i was already included in a big and business critical project. and we managed to do something utterly amazing that i’ve never seen any other company do so quickly. it was pretty amazing and even exhilarating to be part of. and that damn virus made it possible. it was the kind of project that would been hemmed and hawed about and made into smaller pilot projects over a two-year period and we did it in 10 days. thank you, corona. and it’s continued at the same level and pace ever since and i have been continually amazed at the talent of my collagues and the things we can do together. i don’t think this would have become so apparent to me so quickly without the virus. we may be building the plane as we fly it, but damn, we are flying it. thank you, corona. 

my child hasn’t had the ideal start to college that we would have wanted, but she has had a pretty good time and she joined a sorority and made a lot of friends and one of her good friends from high school has transferred to asu as well. and thanks to my privileged position as an american citizen who is a permanent resident of denmark, i could travel to arizona to help her move out of her apartment and into the dorm. with a pitstop at my own asu professor’s home. and even though corona was raging, we wore our masks, we got some essential help from an old bloggy friend who lives in arizona now and we drank quite a lot of coronas (the good kind) by the pool. it was honestly, a lovely summer. and we never tested positive for corona. 

and now, she’s been home for nearly a month and while the darkness and lack of sunshine has been difficult for her, it’s also been great to have her home. she argues with her father and makes him admit defeat. he has to recognize that he is defeated in his white male privilege by the strong women he has raised. and it’s good for him. we’ve had a corona scare this week. a good friend of sabin’s spent the weekend with us last weekend and then tested positive last tuesday. we’ve been tested and tested again and are still negative. we start to wonder if we have some strange immunity that we don’t deserve. but while we await the vaccine, we will take what we can get. and in the meantime, we will eat good food, laugh and play games together and we will appreciate more than we counted on of 2020. thank you, corona, for reminding us of what’s important.

Monday, December 07, 2020

missing my dad

i always use this picture on dad's birthday. he would have been 87 today. i miss him more acutely some days than others. during the mad election season that just passed, i wished nearly every day that i could talk to him about it. i wonder what he would make of the spray-tanned clown and his antics. i suspect he wouldn't be that surprised by it. and i also think he wouldn't have been as personally embarrassed by it as i have been for the past four years. maybe he even would have assured me that this too shall pass. i think i have needed to hear him say that. but alas, it hasn't been possible. and it never will be. and man do i miss him today. 

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this ekphrasis on tiktok sums up the attraction perfectly. 

when you let a computer write a trend report

zoom be gettin' scary.

Friday, November 06, 2020

on the threshold

most of us take doors for granted. we pass through doorways tens of times each day, without reflection. the door is, however, a powerful feature of human mentality and life-practice. it controls access, provides a sense of security and privacy, and marks the boundary between differentiated spaces. the doorway is also the architectural element allowing passage from one space to the next. crossing the threshold means abandoning one space and entering another, a bodily practice recognized both in ritual and language as a transition between social roles or situations. doors and thresholds are thus closely linked with rites de passage, the word "liminality" itself stemming from Latin limen, "threshold." this does not imply that each and every crossing of a threshold constitutes a liminal ritual, but rather that passing through a doorway is an embodied, everyday experience prompting numerous social and metaphorical implications.

--marianne hem eriksen, university of oslo
in architecture, society, and ritual in viking age scandinavia
doors, dwellings, and domestic space

this week of waiting for the results of the election has me, once again, thinking about liminal space. we're (hopefully) on the threshold of something new - a return to normalcy (if that's possible) after the utter insanity of the trump years. and i'm looking forward to stepping through that door. 

but i fear that the door won't completely shut on these years because the fact is that there are a significant amount of people who actually agreed with the way he was running things and they voted for him a second time. they're apparently totally ok with the 97 million cases of corona and 235,000 deaths. they're ok with kids in cages and more than 500 children who can't be reunited with their parents due to the incompetence and cruelty of the trump administration. they're ok with a president who grabs women by the pussy. and who has spent $142,000,000 in taxpayer money golfing. and they're ok with leaving the paris climate accord and the iran nuclear agreement. and they're ok with the more than 20,000 lies. and the self-dealing and the nepotism. and the cozying up to dictators. and the humiliation on the world stage. and did i mention the lies? and the narcissism and the petulance and the twitter. there's just. so. much. i'm exhausted from it. and embarrassed by it. and tired of the way it's weakened my very foundation and made me ashamed to be american.

and i'm at my wits' end - with relatives and friends who support the monster. and it feels like some doors may need to close there. but on the other hand, that doesn't necessarily seem like the answer either. but they don't get a pass. they have to own what their choice means - that women lose the freedom to choose over their own bodies, and good friends who are legally married may have those marriages nullified by the conservative supreme court justices trump and his cronies in the senate rushed through. that people will lose their health insurance. that they don't mind children being put in cages. children in cage. just think about that. it's ok because your stocks did well? really?

but back to doors and thresholds. i think we are really standing on a threshold here. we just faced a choice between empathy and caring for our fellow humans and more division and further erosion of democratic ideals. and only by the slimmest of margins does it appear that we chose our fellow humans. what does that say? in this moment, while the whole world balances on the precipice with a global pandemic, that the choice wasn't clearer than that is astonishing. 

i hope we stride confidently through the door with our hearts open. i'll admit mine is pretty closed right now to those who have supported the spray-tanned narcissist and it will take a bit of work on my part to open it a little bit. and right now, i don't really know how that's going to happen.

Thursday, November 05, 2020

can we get a do-over on 2020?

for several years, i've bought arctic paper's lovely calendar. one year, i think it was 2018, i actually wrote a little snippet of my day in it every single day of that year, keeping a kind of diary, though it was mostly lists and trips and what i did that day, not anything deep or philosophical. still, it was the record of a busy life. i did write intentions for every week on the page for the week, which felt like a meaningful practice, even if i didn't always keep them. it featured beautiful paper that explored the changing light and colors throughout the year, so it had a kind of rainbow theme to it. the words at the beginning were a beautiful musing on time. "time is months, weeks, hours, minutes and seconds. time is seasons. seasons are light. light is a guide through time." it was so fitting for a calendar.

they work with different design schools around europe and have young people design the calendars and they're always printed on arctic paper's own beautiful papers. it's a pleasure to page through them and write in them. this year's was no different. it is a moon-themed agenda entitled "the day begins at midnight" and was designed by students from école estienne's graphic design and art direction students. i assume that's somewhere in france.

it's really gorgeous and i love the words at the beginning, especially since i always consider myself a night person, not a morning one...(capital letters removed by me):

the day begins at midnight, when creativity knows no boundaries.
more than an aesthetically attractive calendar,
we wanted to design something that makes us challenge
our traditional perception of time and creativity.
by visually highlighting night-time in imagery
through its content, this agenda wants us to reconsider 
our notion of the day.

because extraordinary things happen in our minds at night.
we know our subconscious is active when we sleep.
and we know that some people need to relax simply
to get their ideas flowing. some even find that they are
more creative at night, whether asleep or awake
creativity knows no boundaries, not in place, nor in time.

but here, as we embark on the second to last month of 2020, which has already been pretty eventful, i find i must admit that i never used this calendar at all. i didn't write a single thing in it. it's still pristine and beautiful - blank and awaiting words or drawings or doodles, the recording of a life. and i didn't record a single word of this crazy, mad year. it's almost like this clean, beautiful calendar represents a pristine do-over of 2020, just waiting to happen. 2020, between the covers of this journal, is unblemished, unmarred by oafish, spray-tanned, clownish, embarrassing presidents, and deadly viruses, and killer hornets. it's full of potential trips to exotic places, new experiences and even scratched-down notes of wonderful meals made and eaten, friends seen, laughs laughed. in its very blankness, it's full of potential. potential for a do-over of this mad, terrible year. maybe that's what we most need right here and now. or maybe we just need this damn year to be over already. 

i'll order a new calendar from arctic paper when they release it in a few weeks. and let's cross our fingers that things get better in 2021.

Monday, November 02, 2020

on the eve of the election

i want to record this moment. to send the anxiety out through my fingers onto the page, both preserving it and dispelling it. i did what i could. i sent my vote, via DHL, just to be sure. i have proof of receipt and i voted for biden. he's a shoe in to win illinois, where i vote. i have also, demonstrating extraordinary foresight, produced a daughter who will vote in her first presidential election - in the potentially decisive state of arizona. her vote will really count and she's taking a whole gaggle of friends with her to the polls. i have done all i could.

i fervently hope that the biden-harris ticket wins and if the economist is right, they will. but whether trump and his merry band of trumpanzees will accept it or not is another story and that's probably what's causing the most anxiety for me. we just have no idea how the world will look when we wake up on wednesday. and will that child of mine in arizona be safe? there are an awful lot of guns in the hands of an awful lot of stupid people.

i hate that that thought even goes through my head. and i hope i don't regret putting it down here. i thought maybe getting it out would help dispel it. i hope it doesn't make it come true instead. not that i feel my words have that kind of power. 

i have to believe that there are more good people in the voting population who want something better - better than the lies and racism and the sexism and the xenophobia and the narcissism and the self-dealing and the nepotism (i could go on). people who want better for their children and their futures. i have to believe that most people are good and sensible and moral. because what kind of world will we live in if they're not?

i hope i can sleep tonight and stay busy tomorrow. luckily, i have loads of meetings, so i'm hoping to stay distracted. it's both a relief and difficult to be so far away. better get that application filed for danish citizenship. 

Friday, October 30, 2020

making the best of life in a global pandemic

everyone is talking these days about how covid has changed our lives and about how heavy that burden seems. in fact, reply all's latest episode talks about how this year is scientifically proven to be the saddest, most unhappy year. probably ever, or at least since these scientists started measuring happy/unhappy words on twitter. as if twitter is a happy place. 

but, i get it. it's hard with limited social contact, not much going out to eat or get drinks, not visiting family and friends and feeling awkward when you do, no halloween party, no concerts or movies and no yoga classes. we work a lot more from home and it can feel at times like the workday is just one endless long teams meeting. 

but i also find that there are good things about it. for one, the coffee is way better here at home. i order the beans from a little roaster in trieste, grind it myself and make two cups of espresso in a little mokka pot that i bought in venice (thinking consciously about that every single time), then pour that into plenty of warmed, frothed milk that i get from an organic dairy farmer nearby. 

and while i find myself sitting too long at the computer without getting up and sometimes forgetting to eat lunch, when i do eat lunch, i feel consciously grateful for the plates i had made by a local ceramics artist and to myself for making a really good omelette for dinner the other night and for there being leftovers. i don't feel that way about lunch at the office. at the office, i usually find myself thinking that they would being going into elimination if it were master chef. 

the past few days, i've been happy to be working at home, because on tuesday when i got home, husband said there was a kitten yowling out in the big barn and i needed to rescue it. the poor little thing had its eyes all stuck shut and it was very distressed, cold and hungry. i brought it in, gently washed its eyes with warm water, put some aquaphor on them to soothe them and ran to the grocery store for cat milk until i could get to the vet the next day to get proper kitten milk replacer. i concluded that the kitten was a little older than i thought, as it has pretty good teeth and within about 36 hours, it was a different, lively, lovely little kitten that was ready for his first photoshoot. he does need to eat every few hours and i have to mix milk replacer for him and give him some soft food, which i also got at the vet. he's doing very well. i think his mama is a young wild thing that comes for food and i tried to give him back to her, but she wasn't having it. it's late in the season and i think she doesn't really know what to do. but anyway, thanks to corona, i'm here for him.

i've had a really sore throat for a few days and i'm coughing. i haven't gotten tested, but i don't have a fever and i can still taste things, so i think it's just an ordinary cold. though how, with all the hand washing and hand sanitizer, one can still get a cold is beyond me. one part of me just wants to get the damn virus and get it over with.  

another positive is that this damn virus makes my work life really exciting. we have the exhilaration of quickly bringing solutions together as the situation changes in various countries - like france's new lockdown (probably to be closely followed by one in belgium), we're moving quickly to help our stores there, adjusting their black friday campaigns and making them able to meet with customers online. it's seriously really exciting and makes me appreciate working with talented and hard-working colleagues. 

denmark finally instituted mask requirements in public places - like grocery stores and the library and such. they had required them on public transport and in restaurants and bars (until you're seated at your table) some weeks ago. i'm a little tired of hearing people moan about the mask requirement, questioning its effectiveness. and only thinking of themselves. as i see it, using a mask is something we do for one another. i was happy to wear a mask this week, since i had a sore throat and i didn't want to give it to anyone. i don't do it for me, i do it for my fellow humans. 

another thing i did for my fellow humans is that i voted. and sent it via DHL to be sure it got there. i have proof of delivery. and boy, will i be glad when this election is over. 

how are you coping these days?

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 acedia - that thing we're all feeling now.