Thursday, July 15, 2021

a box of stories waiting to be told

i came across an amazing item that sold on a sotheby's auction back in may. it's a 19th century box containing a collection of objects pertaining to the occult and witchcraft. i say "came across," but it's because i subscribe to an esoteric little substack called dearest. and monica, who writes the substack finds the most fascinating stories, mostly about jewelry, but also about interesting items like this. 

whenever i see something like this, i think of all the stories it could tell if you could only listen to it just right. it sold for just over £20,000. a bit steep for a box of whispered stories. i would really love to open it up and examine all the items. it was probably worth the price.

Tuesday, June 08, 2021

one down, one to go!

i was so excited yesterday to get my first shot of the pfizer vaccine. actually, i was excited already a couple of weeks ago, when i got the invitation and made my appointment. i stood before my closet, wondering what to wear. i landed on my favorite mid-length navy blue cotton dress from cos. it has roomy black pockets and i've traveled many a mile in it. it's my favorite dress to wear when i fly because it's comfortable and it means that i don't have to take off belt and such at security. not that i expected there to be security at the vaccination station. it just felt appropriate to wear my favorite traveling dress to get vaccinated since being vaccinated represents being able to travel again. i wore it with a favorite infinity scarf and i made sure i took my fancy sequined mask with me, as it felt like a festive occasion. 

when i arrived at the vaccination station - it was in an unoccupied office complex on the edge of vejle - the parking lot was full and i wondered if i would even find a spot. everyone getting out of their cars was in my age range (so lots of grey hair). that makes sense because we are invited by age in denmark. people were silently going in and no one was speaking to one another. i had my health card scanned and got in the line. weirdly, the people who had just had their jab and had to go sit in the waiting area came back through the line, walking a bit too close, if you ask me. i felt like they should have gone back on the adjacent roped off aisle, but they just brushed past all of us who were waiting in line.

no one was speaking and no one looked happy. i was feeling really happy and excited, but no one else seemed to be. there was a long corridor of rooms with numbers on them and people were going in for a minute or so and coming out and then the brusk little grey-haired ladies administering the vaccinations would call out for the next one, like we were small, dull children who didn't understand how it worked. i don't think they are nurses, but i'm not sure. it just seems like so many people are needed for this job that there can't possibly be that many nurses in denmark. i suppose they're all kinds of healthcare adjacent people who have been trained to administer the shots. 

mine was a bit cross and when i said that i had to have a photo while she took it, she was quite sour about it, saying it wasn't technically allowed. i said that i didn't intend to have her in the shot anyway, aside from her gloved hands. and that the moment was too big for me not to photograph it. if she'd tried to stop me, i would have pitched a fit then and there and i think she knew it, so she didn't. 

then, i went out into the big waiting room, where you're supposed to sit for 15 minutes. as usual, no one was speaking and no one looked happy or elated or smiling, though that's a bit hard to tell when everyone is masked. we were socially distanced and no one said a word. i set my timer for 15 minutes and then left when it was over. i had one brief minute during the wait, where i felt a little bit dizzy, but i suspect it was due to my excitement, than an actual reaction to the vaccine.

i've read so many posts on instagram and online in general about how happy and moved people have been getting the vaccine after this long, tough haul of a year, but i saw absolutely no evidence of that. the danes are apparently a stoic, emotionless people. i think i'll never truly understand them. 

and when i got outside? the parking lot was empty save for my car and like two others, which kind of felt weird. 

i went to starbucks and got a latte to celebrate and then i went back home to work. 

i woke up in the night with a low grade fever, so i stayed at home to work today as well. our receptionist at work takes our temperature when we arrive in the morning and i thought maybe my slightly-elevated temp would make her turn me away, so i played it safe. i felt otherwise fine, though late afternoon, my neck on the lefthand side, which is the arm i got the shot in, started to ache and i felt generally lethargic and achy all over. good to know my body is busy building immunity.

i can't wait for the second shot in mid-july.


 

Friday, May 28, 2021

i'm so over you, facebook


i had a couple of interesting encounters today with facebook’s helpdesk, which, in order to elevate it and make it seem more posh, they have chosen to refer to as “facebook concierge” (insert eyeroll emoji here). i am here to tell you that it doesn’t help. i don’t think it’s an actual bot (though it might be, i wouldn’t put it past facebook to fool me). the “people” answering your question (it happens via chat) all have strange names that i suspect are made up to seem pan-national – names like wani and jeia and azri (actual names i encountered today). maybe they just want to seem futuristic. 

all their chats are full of excessive amounts of flattery and friendliness. “thank you so much for providing more information,” and “thank you so much for sharing this with me!” and “thank you so much for your kind patience!” and then the slightly betraying non-native english, “thank you so much for sharing with me this.” and “it was wonderful speaking with you today,” despite not speaking with me at all, but only chatting. in fact, re-reading the chats, which of course happened via messenger, i am thinking that maybe it was a bot after all. but it was a clever bot, i’ll give them that. 

i feel a little sheepish for the way that i embraced facebook in the early years. i thought it was fun – i loved sharing thoughts and photos. husband saw through it and never gave in to it the way that i did. he’s so much smarter than me. i’m too trusting.

but back to facebook’s “concierge”…do you think they solved either of my issues today? well, you would be right if you said, “no.” and this is despite the fact that the account i contacted them about is my work account and my work spends millions of monies per month on ads in nine countries, so you’d think they would be a little more inclined to help. but alas, they were not. they gave me utter shite answers like “have you turned off ad blockers?” (hello, facebook, can you say self-serving? and also NO), or tried an incognito browser, or used a different computer? no, yes and yes. and yet, still the same issues. because my issues are related to the account and not the computer. 

oh, and did i mention that i had to verify myself 8 times – those being the ones that actually came through. i was asked to verify many more times than that, but whoever is pushing those codes through was asleep on the job. because honestly, facebook sucks. i cannot even express how much it sucks. and how much i wish that i didn’t have to use it as part of my job. i believe i’m at the point where i’d deactivate my account if i didn’t have to use it for work. 

the only consolation is that these are surely facebook’s death throes. they’re knee-deep in the midst of a roman empire-like demise. and it obviously gets very ugly before it’s over. dealing with their so-called concierge is only a small part of it. the rot is obvious whenever i log on. it's clearly populated by everyone's racist uncle  (or aunt or cousin). even the once-wonderful new york times cooking group is a prickly hotbed of righteousness these days. and the group for the isdal woman podcast is truly awful. people are just so mean to one another. there’s no room for nuance and intelligent discussion, or even just asking questions and definitely no room for  listening anymore. i have been as guilty of it as anyone, but i think as far as facebook is concerned, i’m over it.

so it's a good thing that today, my long-awaited invitation to clubhouse came through. thanks to one of the child's friends, who thought of me when she got in. i suspect my soul is young. but that's the stuff of another blog post on another day.

Friday, April 30, 2021

documentation of a creative education


i visited a friend this afternoon. she's a lovely woman in her 70s who taught textiles and all sorts of handiwork at a danish højskole for many years. she's the one who finds all kinds of looms and spinning wheels and such for me because she works at the local red cross secondhand store. she also has friends who have such things and they have reached an age where they want to get rid of them. 

we hadn't seen one another in a very long time thanks to corona, but we decided to have coffee and the season's first rhubarb cake today. it's the big prayer day and so i had a much-needed day off. i love her home - it's so inviting and everywhere, there's something quirky, interesting and most likely handmade. even the old dried up oranges in a little wood bowl next to some dried out mushrooms in the kitchen windowsill are beautiful. it's how i want my home to be. something interesting at every turn. 

she mentioned the other day that she had all of her old projects from when she went to textile design school back in the late 60s. and she wondered if maybe we in creagive, our local creative group, would want to use it to do collage or something. so she took me upstairs and she got out all these big folios from where they were stored. we sat down on the floor, opened them all up and went through them together. 

as we flipped through pages and pages of different pattern designs and fabric prints and sketches of things to weave, she told me stories. of teachers, of materials, of travels, of sources of inspiration, of the way that colors or patterns had fascinated her. i am kicking myself for not recording her stories. 

she insisted that i take all this treasure home with me - 5 big folios and several notebooks. i feel so inspired by it and i will take some of it along on our creagive trip to højer in the autumn. emmy might even come along as well and she can tell us stories. 

but i intend to go through it all carefully and photograph some of it and perhaps even work with some of it. there's a whole binder of different printed fabric samples that would make an amazing quilt. and there are some beautiful machine-stitched patterns that deserve to be framed (it's those in the photos on this post). 

husband looked through some of it with me after dinner and he was just as in awe of it as i am. she worked so thoroughly with various patterns, exploring colors and all the options. i wonder if any education today does this so thoroughly as they did back then. 

she started her education at what would later become kolding design school in 1967, the year that i was born. and all of the things she worked with seem so timeless and fresh, even today. i can't believe she didn't go on to work for merimekko or some other scandinavian design firm. even just the samples are just beautiful. 


i kept asking her if she was sure she wanted to be rid of it and sure that her family wouldn't want it. she assured me they wouldn't and that she was ready to let it go. i feel so privileged that she wanted me to have this. i feel entrusted with something special and amazing. it's the tracing of a person's creative development and a huge insight into a creative mind, as well as a glimpse of an education and a time that is surely gone. i can't imagine anyone going to such depths today. it feels like everyone wants to take shortcuts and rush as quickly to something commercial as can be.

and it was also clear in some of the assignments (because she kept those too), that they were being asked to think in a commercial way as well. one assignment was to create a fabric pattern that would work equally well for women or men. 

my friend wants our creative group to use all of this as materials for collage and some of it can definitely be that, but i think quite a lot of is far too good for that. i already feel inspired by the way she worked with patterns and techniques. for example, these sewing machine embroidered pieces can be found in sketch form and then a more complete drawing that was framed by passe partout and then in its final form, stitched with the sewing machine on fabric, also in a passe partout frame. 

so much of the work is signed and dated and we will definitely be framing some of the pieces. husband thinks we should go through it all, decide what we'd like to keep and then pay her for it. i fear she will refuse, but i think we should insist. i may have to invite her over tomorrow or sunday to go through it all again and to tell me more stories about it, which this time, i will record. it would be so cool to do some work inspired by her work and then create an exhibition - a kind of dialogue across 50 years. 

Wednesday, April 21, 2021

how can we be better?

is alison roman racist? i know this whole kerfuffle took place awhile ago, but i ran across it again today. and i find myself, a generally pretty privileged, middle-aged white woman, wondering how i can do better and be better? do i have to stop making curries? or middle eastern food? or listening to that album i bought when i was in south africa in 2007? where is the line between exploitation and just really loving the flavors or sounds another culture has put together? of course, i realize it's different for me as an ordinary person and not a (former) food writer for the new york times, but it's worth thinking about how we negotiate these times. i think hiding away in our own homes for the past year has been a good start, but people are getting vaccinated and that can't last forever. 

in the wake of yesterday's much-deserved guilty verdict for derek chauvin, it seems more important than ever that we, as people who have, knowingly or not, enjoyed all the privileges of the color of our skin, pay attention and try to do better. though i'll also admit that i have no idea what that looks like. so what i'm trying to do is sit in the discomfort of it. and talk about it. and think about it. and read about it. 

i cannot even imagine how terrible it must be to have to explain to your child at a ridiculously young age that they have to behave in a certain way towards the police because if they don't, they might get killed. my child is 9 time zones away and i worry about her, but i don't worry about her being stopped for some flimsy reason and harassed or murdered. and that, right there, is white privilege. and i don't know what to do with it, other than sit in an awareness of my discomfort, because on some level, i can't help being white. i don't know how i can make the police behave differently. i'd join the protests if i were closer to them, but i'm not. i'm so far away and it feels like such an enormous, overwhelming, insurmountable problem. it makes me feel genuinely helpless and deeply sad. 

i have so much sympathy and empathy for the families who have lost their loved ones so senselessly to the ignorance and bigotry of police. and the insult of an excuse in which the police officer with 20+ years of experience says she didn't know the difference between her taser and her gun is just breathtaking in its awfulness. what was she doing with either one in that situation? use your words, lady. 

the conviction of derek chauvin is a start - it is nice to finally see a police officer getting the punishment he deserves. but how did the situation happen in the first place? and the trauma all of those who watched him kill george floyd - how will they ever get over it? the girl who made the film - what an admirable presence of mind she had - but how difficult that must have been. but thank goodness she did it. but how can she live with it? how do you live with watching a policeman, who is meant to protect and serve, kill a man for no reason in the slowest and most awful way right before your very eyes and your camera? and how helpless everyone looking on must have felt. they couldn't do a thing, because those four policemen all had guns. all they could do was bear witness. and at least in this instance, it paid off and finally, a policeman was held responsible for his heinous actions. but still, they have to live with that. at least chauvin will, hopefully, have a long time to ponder his actions in jail and will hopefully never see the outside of a cell again (just as he will never see that 140 pounds the defense claimed he weighed. please. we have eyes.)

but the rest of us have to ponder our actions as well. whether it's crediting the cultures whose food we make and love, rather than appropriating them and claiming them as our own, or whether it's sitting in the discomfort. i genuinely can't help that i was born white into a middle class family in the latter half of the twentieth century, so i can't undo that. but i can at least try to recognize that that fact has brought me great privilege, perhaps in ways that i don't yet even see. but i can begin to think about it and try to do better towards those who didn't have the same good fortune as me. and i can demand change by voting for those who are willing to make it. 

* * *

have you seen this amazing one-shot drone video in a bowling alley?

* * *

Monday, March 22, 2021

another trip around the sun


i suspect 53 would have felt like a hazy and blurry year, even if it wasn't tainted by the coronavirus bringing everything to a standstill. it's one of those blah ages that don't seem to count for much. it's neither here nor there, and the difference between 53 and 54 isn't really a significant one. i guess i'm inclined to think that i'll like 54 better, mostly because i'm partial to even numbers, though frankly odd numbers of things look better. hmm, i wonder how that bodes for 54? not that i look all that great after the sedentary year in front of my computer.

however, i have all kinds of good intentions for 54. i want to do 10,000 steps a day. i'm going to take up my daily 750 words once again on the 750 words site and i'm determined that four days a week, those words will go towards the novel. i have about 7,000 steps to go today, since most of it was spent at my computer working. also it's rather cold, windy and grey outside, so not all that inviting for a long walk.  see, i'm already full of excuses. but hey, it's my birthday, so i can decide, right? maybe the 10,000 steps starts tomorrow. but first, a glass of wine.

that's the kind of thinking that got me through 53. and this whole corona bullshit. that's still not over, despite how weary we grow of it. and they're slower than mud at vaccinations here in denmark. 

but back to this birthday thing. it does feel like i'm in a place were they don't matter that much anymore. it's still awhile to 60, which will be the next significant date and since they're putting off retirement age, i'm not even sure that's that significant anymore, so maybe it's actually 70 and it's a long time until then. heck, look at joe biden, he became president at 78 and he seems to have found himself - he's not making any of those old gaffes he was known for, he's just getting down to business and being seriously presidential. it's so refreshing and my ptsd from the trump years is fading and i'm even sleeping through the night sometimes. i no longer wake up in a cold sweat, worried about what embarrassing and horrible thing the president has done. it's such a relief. 

apropos my birthday, i picked up a long-ago ordered book from the library today. i ordered it so long ago that i didn't even really remember - i think it was back in october. it's nobel prize for literature winner louise glück's averno.  on the back cover is a fragment of her poem october (capitalization hers):

Come to me, said the world. I was standing
in my wool coat at a kind of bright portal--
I can finally say
long ago; it gives me considerable pleasure. Beauty

the healer, the teacher--

death cannot harm me
more than you have harmed me,
my beloved life.

and that feels like the right note to end these musings on another trip around the sun.

* * *

whoa, cool AI-assisted story here. i'm not sure what i feel about it.
i think i am at once intrigued and horrified.

* * *

i think i am sad that zoom dysmorphia is even a thing.

* * *

juicy talk of fauxbrége fakes in an hermitage exhibit.
i learned about them in dearest, a very fun jewelry-oriented substack.

Saturday, March 13, 2021

unbidden waves of nostalgia

me and a naughty pony of my past - clearly a second place pony with that red ribbon

the past few days, i've had some waves of nostalgia washing over me. i'm not sure i can pinpoint what brought it on and i've been trying to figure that out. it might be because i'm listening to the vinyl café - the simple, but hilarious stories of dave and his family are somehow nostalgic, as many of them involve memories. if you're interested, you can find playlists of them on spotify. 

it's also listening to the new podcast that obama has with bruce springsteen (also on spotify, i swear this isn't a spotify ad). it made me think about when i was introduced to the music of the boss - on a debate tournament trip in a van to the now-long-shuttered university of south dakota - springfield - when our high school english teacher/debate coach talked of the nebraska album. i'm not even sure he played it in the car, except maybe a song came on the radio, but i think it was in the days when things were still on vinyl, so i don't think he could have played it in the car. when that teacher's name popped up, commenting on a post on facebook, i actually sent a friend request. i wanted to tell him that the podcast had made me think of him.

my cousin, normally flitting about the world for her job, is stuck at home in california and sharing old pictures prolifically in a family group on facebook. many of them i've never seen before. it's kind of strange that she has so many family photos since her family's house burned to the ground when i was 5, but i guess other family members have shared pictures with her, as she seems to have a never-ending trove. there's definitely nostalgia in that. and i don't recall having so many family photos around from that side of the family - i guess my dad was the youngest of 9, so there weren't so many left when it was his turn to get some.

i even think that my grocery delivery company has made me feel nostalgic. they're tempting me with the first asparagus of the season (it's from portugal). and that, of course, has me thinking of my dad, who was known for his asparagus. my patch is a bit overwhelmed by last season's weeds and i'm feeling a bit guilty about that. the weather is rubbish this weekend - it's been sleeting out there off and on all day - really more like slushing, if that was a thing - or i'd probably have been out there weeding and maybe digging up the roots and moving them because they're not doing that well where they are. and  i'm feeling like maybe my dad is frowning down on how i've let them go. asparagus was his pride and joy. 

do you think the pandemic is making us nostalgic? i was definitely feeling nostalgic in the past week for the beautiful holiday we had in barcelona one year ago, just before the pandemic was declared. maybe that's it. i'm so glad we had that trip, but i ache to travel again. and to see friends. and to invite them over for dinner and play board games. and to not feel like i have to hesitate. and me, a non-hugger, might even miss hugging people. no wonder i'm nostalgic. we've lost so much. or maybe we haven't lost it, but we've definitely put it on hold.