Saturday, July 07, 2018

entering holiday mode

the bags aren't packed, i have a few edits to do, a brief or two, a couple of emails and a few posts to schedule, but my mind is already sliding into holiday mode. i got home around 7:30, went straight to the garden, picked zucchini, onions and one of those weird cauliflower-broccoli hybrids that seems to have happened in one of the brassica beds. i turned the zucchini in egg and bread crumbs, adding sesame seeds for a bit more healthiness and taste. i stir-fried the onions and caulicoli (i just made that name up) and flash fried a couple of pork chops. it was delicious. husband and i chatted and watched a few episodes of wyatt cenac's problem areas (comedy has turned to smart in these days of the otherwise dumbing down of the world, and it gives me a glimmer of hope). we had a g&t and we got ambitious about harvesting mirabellas, black currants and red currants before we leave.  there's also a mountain of laundry to do and the child to pick up from her week at roskilde festival (there were moments when she almost gave up, but she hung in there). but here, right now, this evening, i'm shifting...gearing down, packing in my mind, thinking about which minifigures to take and what sort of photo or audio project to give myself for the trip. i'm pondering what clothes to pack, which bags to take, what book for the plane (clearly my friend richard's halleluja canyon). do i need art supplies? a new notebook? plenty of batteries for the zoom? and how will i get along without the kittens? they'll be cared for by friends, who will stop by to feed and water them. they'll be fine. but i'll miss them. but i'm looking forward to places i've never been...birmingham, mississippi, new orleans, the gulf coast. orlando. it's going to be an awesome trip. but first, some time in the garden and a bit of hanging out with the kittens.

Wednesday, July 04, 2018

out of focus colors

as we close in on the summer holiday, i'm feeling a bit fuzzy to say the least. it's been a long haul, these past months. it's really hard when a job you dearly love turns sour, but it so often happens in a time of growth and disruption. i love both growth, disruption and also change, but it's been a bit ridiculous of late. when the wrong people are brought in and the good people leave and the company culture changes radically, it creates change that's not good or productive. i'm ready for a holiday. and happily, we are getting on a plane next week. it also helped that i went to an intimate and utterly blissful yin yoga class today. my mind quieted down and i saw a veritable rainbow of colors during some of the long poses. it centered me and put me, at least momentarily, in touch with my body. this color thing is really interesting. i've had flashes of synesthesia over the years, but it's really started to show itself in new ways during my recent bodywork sessions. i need to learn what the colors mean, even if it's only what they mean for me...i saw everything from rich, bright, vibrant red - it's never just one uniform color, there are nuances - to salmon to yellow and orange to green and teal to the most velvety indigo. my sense of it is that it's when i'm in touch with emotions, or more like touching them, as i wouldn't say i could articulate them. i've read some pieces about colors associated with the chakras and perhaps there's also something of that in it, when one or another is activated, but it feels more connected to some kind of emotional bedrock inside me. one which i've been probably out of touch with for far too long. if i ever was in touch with it. but i have hope, with the appearance of all these colors when i'm doing bodywork or yoga, that i can get in touch, maybe also at other times. maybe it's just a reminder that i need to live a more colorful life. but first...vacation.

Monday, June 11, 2018

midlife tuneup?

i read this long piece on doing a midlife tuneup in the nytimes today. some of it seemed a bit meh and perhaps even patronizing- exercise, eat right, get enough sleep (blah, blah, blah). although i'm skeptical of the mindfulness/life coach madness that's about in the world today, the section on mindfulness and what it does for the ageing brain seemed a bit intriguing, so i kept reading. the following section on a midlife mission statement also spoke to me (being inclined to the odd personal manifesto (hmm, that one still rings pretty true...)). i've already been actively trying to have better bedtime habits (no phone nearby being the main one, tho' i fell off that wagon after a late coffee one day last week and did NOT sleep well for a couple of nights). also, i appreciate the irony of the fact that it's currently 12:44 a.m. 1:13 a.m. and i'm still at the computer. but the last section - about building up your resilience really spoke to me. all year, i've been writing intentions in a journal and they have been optimistic and positive. it hasn't always worked and there have been some dark times of late with reorg turmoil at work and the departure of my wonderful boss, but i faithfully continue, confident it will eventually seep in. i like the advice in that section - there are several things i feel i can actually use - rewriting the story i tell myself in my head, helping others and i've already taken a stress break when i could see that a situation was going to be more negative and unproductive than i needed it to be. the stress break really helped, even if the effects don't last long enough. i also like the idea of finding my discomfort zone - as long as it doesn't involve heights, that sounds rather intriguing. and i would do well to remember the times when i came back from adversity. perhaps the best start to it all would be that good night's sleep they talked about...

Sunday, June 10, 2018

a rainy sunday afternoon

it's raining at last, after an entire month of sunshine. we've never had an entire month of sunshine in a row, so it was very welcome, but so is the rain. the rain has made me slow down - i can't be in the garden, picking strawberries or weeding or mowing or hoeing, so i'm in the plant-filled front entry with a cup of creamy coffee, a book, my journal, my camera and the kittens. i must admit it's bliss and precisely what i needed. i've been reading some more of knausgaard's small autumn essays. it's a book i've had on the nightstand for some time - you can just pick it up, read one or two as you wish, and then put it down again for some weeks. it lends itself to this slow way of reading it; each essay is shining, deep and luminous and i must get the rest of the seasons to savour as well (as you might guess, there are four volumes in all). they are small musing on single words - words like badger, war, labia - very diverse - written by knausgaard to his unborn daughter, as they awaited her. they're not exactly micro-memoirs, which i've also been pondering since hearing about them on the bittersweet life podcast, more like little perfect essayistic musings on being human. in looking for more small, perfect essays, i came across brevity, an online magazine filled with them. check it out if you're looking for something to read on a rainy sunday afternoon.

Friday, May 25, 2018

four kittens = much delight

i've been listening to the kind of podcasts that i wouldn't normally listen to - mostly because the ones i normally listen to do a lot of talking about trump and his posse of trumpanzees, and frankly, i'm over that. so i listened to some back catalog stuff from oprah's super soul podcast (the alanis morissette episode) and also the bittersweet life (start with micro and quite possibly also stop there). my mind is buzzing with ideas of things to write about, but it's quite late and while that doesn't matter so much since i'm taking the day off tomorrow, i need to let them gel until morning. but suffice it to say, i'm looking forward to writing some micro memoir pieces (as if this blog isn't already full of those), and to spending tomorrow with the kittens you see above. they were born on may 2 and they're just about to hit peak cute.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

inside of ourselves

"you never know how inside of themselves people are." i read that long ago in a barbara kingsolver novel and it's stuck with me ever since. in any given situation, you don't really know where people are coming from. maybe they've had a completely shit week. maybe it's been awesome. maybe it's been both - up and down, like any other week. maybe they've just learned they have a terminal illness. maybe their father just died. maybe their mother with alzheimer's just failed to recognize them for the first time. maybe they just lost their job. maybe they just got a new one. maybe they just learned they're pregnant. or perhaps they miscarried. maybe they're tired or have a toothache. maybe they feel lonely or sad or joyful. you just don't know. maybe the path ahead of them seems clear. or perhaps it's obscured and murky. maybe they're relieved the sun is finally shining after too many days of rain. maybe their awesome boss just quit. maybe they feel like they're in limbo. perhaps they're caught up in needless office politics. what if they have a need to be right? to be comforted? to be understood? what if they feel bewildered and alone and cast adrift? what if they are newly in love and their stomach is full of butterflies? you just don't know. you can never really know. and quite possibly they'll never really be able to tell you. but maybe what they most need from you is that you see them - really see them. no matter how inside of themselves they are.

Sunday, May 13, 2018

forgetting mother's day

i really truly normally do not care about these things, but it's gotten to me here this evening that it's mother's day and until my sister said "happy mother's day" to me here at the end of the day, no one in this house had acknowledged it. even tho' i spent the entire day with my daughter and sat and had tea and breakfast with husband. i realize i'm not his mother, but he could have encouraged the child. and she liked about a zillion people's pictures of them and their mothers, but didn't even say happy mother's day until she heard me thanking my sister for being the first one to say anything. and i'll admit that i think it bugs me more because it's everywhere on social media - warm fuzzy posts of people with their mothers, thanking their mothers, acknowledging them. i don't care about a present, as there's nothing i need, but it would have been nice if the child would have at least wished me happy mother's day and maybe brought me a coffee at some point. or posted a picture of us together and said happy mother's day on instagram or facebook. but no. i got nothing. and i have to admit that hurts more than i would have imagined it would. and i honestly wish it didn't. but there you have it. it's undoubtedly compounded by my sister being there to visit our mother and realizing for the first time that mom doesn't really know who she is. we knew that day would come, but i find it genuinely distressing to hear that that day is now. in all, not the best mother's day ever. and not the best way to end an otherwise glorious weekend.

the path ahead

so much turmoil and uncertainty in these times. the daily onslaught of revelations from the corrupt cheeto and his merry band of trumpanzees, power grabs and information vacuums at work. it seemed fitting today as i came across this gorgeous, fragrant field of canola (rapeseed), that the visible path was only visible for a little ways. who knows what lies ahead? we humans like to think we can control our outcomes, but perhaps we cannot. i think of all of the times where being pushed onto another path steered me somewhere amazing, and i wonder where i am being steered this time? i can catch glimpses of so much that's awesome, but there are roadblocks along the way. i'd like to navigate them differently than i have traditionally done, but it's hard for me to see how to do that. perhaps by following the opposite impulses. we can and do continue to grow as people, even as we age, we can learn and we can be even more amazing than we thought possible. it's just a matter of clearing the path to get there.

Friday, April 27, 2018

common threads

NOTE: i began this post a little over a year ago. it's been languishing in my drafts for that long, but i opened it again today and found it spoke to my late night mood...not least because i wonder what the me of a year ago would have written? and at this moment, as i type, i wonder what the me of today will write. let's find out...

think of three people you admire and determine the common thread. a friend did this exercise today (read: last year) (it's apparently from brené brown's book, which i haven't read, because i'm not that fond of her, tho' i may have to reconsider) and it made me curious to try it out for myself.

i think the reason this long languishing post speaks to me today is that i am feeling an acute need to look for the good in people. i've been spending far too much time feeling critical, paranoid and sarcastic of late. it's time to flip myself out of that rut by taking a look on the positive side of things.

first step - sorting through the different people i admire: husband (he continues to surprise and engage me in the best of ways, after all these years), our child (she is so much her own - smart, thoughtful, funny, sarcastic, dedicated), my dad (he may be gone, but he is not forgotten and he was his own to the very end), michael barbaro (what an amazing interviewer!), glynn washington (gives so much of himself when he tells stories), trevor noah (another amazing interviewer - so smart and funny and it's perfectly ok that he's not john stewart, he is trevor noah), karl ove knausgaard (luminous writing to savor), david letterman (his netflix series - such amazing conversations). my old friend joyce who seems to have found her way back from a dark time to be living her best life. my dear friend cyndy, who told us all yesterday in a stark facebook post that she's been diagnosed with lung cancer, but communicated it in an amazing way in which the foundation of strength that her family gives her came shining through, even tho' there is so much uncertainty on her (and their) horizon. another bloggy friend from the old days, mari, who is also moving into an amazing place artistically after the death of her husband from cancer a few years ago. her renewed strength and energy shine through in her pictures these days and she seems to have found a group of supportive, artistic women who give her a power that you can practically feel warming your skin as you scroll through her instagram. it gives me energy just to see her photos.

that's many more than three. and not even the tip of the iceberg.

what do they share, these people? curious, sharp, inquiring minds jump out at me first. a sense of humor is a close second. and lastly (but definitely not least), an independence of spirit that makes them unique.

what is the lesson in this? i need even more people in my life who make me think or laugh or wish i was them - or all three.

* * *

speaking of people i admire, someone wrote a wonderful tribute to my cousin jerry, who lost his battle with cancer last year. you never know whose life you touch.

* * *

look, new podcasts

Thursday, April 26, 2018


the atlantic's podcast has a segment at the end where all of the people who were on the episode mention something they've seen or experienced or read in the past week that they classify as a "keeper." the idea appeals to me since i always refer to husband as a keeper. and the keeper of the week, i ran across just this evening - a charming little animated film, the danish poet, jointly made by canadians and norwegians in 2006 (tho' it feels very 70s somehow). it even won an oscar for best animated short film. it's both charming and thought-provoking - giving you pause to think about the amazingly unlikely chain of events that lead to your own existence. and they even take the ferry back and forth between copenhagen and oslo a couple of times. definitely a keeper.  

what do you want to keep this week?

Monday, April 23, 2018

i solemnly swear i am up to no good

i've taken to giving myself a weekly set of intentions. i write them on sunday night, occasionally adding to the list during the week, as i sit down to write a few lines outlining my day in my cool journal notebook. opposite the week's page, there's a blank page that's perfect for a little list of intentions. they're really a sort of note to myself, reminding me of how i want to approach the week. some items make the list every week. some are a bit cheesy, some strident and some a bit trite and tired, yet i seem to constantly need to be reminded of them. instead of just vaguebooking about them, i'll share this week's list:

~ carry the weekend's sunshine with me all week, no matter what the weather.
~ no obsessing over the small stuff.
~ no wasting energy in the wrong places, on the wrong people.
~ preserve my energy.
~ do activities which enhance energy.
~ spend time with interesting people who are doing amazing things.
~ learn something new.
~ read a book instead of my phone before bed.
~ work on things which make me tick; ignore (just for this week) those that do not.
~ see the possibilities.
~ stay in an authentic place.
~ stay curious. ask questions. listen, really listen.
~ take pictures with the real camera, even if you have to stop the car to do it.
~ try to see things from a different viewpoint.

i'm seldom very good at keeping these things in mind once the week unfolds. i fall right back into my old usual, judgy, sarcastic and pessimistic patterns, but i figure if i keep doing it, one day it's bound to stick. changing is hard, trusting is perilous, and going for the cynical laugh is just easier. but maybe this week, it'll stick - monday is over and i've spent time with people who are doing amazing things, spent most of the day doing an activity which enhanced my energy, been curious and asked questions (tho' i undoubtedly could have asked more) and i only obsessed over the small stuff a little bit. it would be easier to just take a page from harry potter and solemnly swear i'm up to no good. that's an intention for the week that i could keep. but i probably won't grow much if i do that, so instead, i keep putting these good thoughts out there and at least trying to follow them.

Monday, April 16, 2018

fragments of niceness

i spotted this art project in the heart of copenhagen last week. #fragmentsofniceness by artist kit kjølhede. the sun was shining, i'd just come from a good meeting with my favorite colleagues and i was feeling buoyant. the bright colors, the happy snippets of conversation overheard in copenhagen spoke straight to my soul. what an admirable project - with all that's bad and awful (and orange-tinged) in the world these days, this was precisely what i needed. hell, it's what we all need!

this hasn't been an easy time. a not-very-well planned or communicated reorg about six months ago created a period of limbo and inertia. in such a situation, there are always some ambitious types who take advantage of the vacuum and grab more than they should. and in the absence of clear messages, everyone makes up their own stories and runs with them. and it can create a negative, unproductive space. i believe this is compounded by the darkness of the winter months in our northern climes. but things are beginning to be brighter and it's not just welcome rays of actual sunshine, but things really are becoming clearer. maybe we can only appreciate clarity when we have been wandering in fog.

and maybe the best way to break free of the uncertainty and negativity is to focus on the positive. to laugh instead of bristling and feeling angry. to help instead of hinder. to be open instead of closed. to overhear the positive and nice things. to listen instead of refusing to hear. to seek out nice things to say. and even more importantly, to think. to make sure the inner narrative is positive and open. to say yes to life and possibilities and new challenges and to let go of what's not working. 

i'm ordering a set of these postcards from the artist to hang up to remind myself to look and listen for positivity around me. i really do believe that you attract what you are looking for. and i also admit that of late, i've been looking for ghosts and schemes and lies and games being played - and guess what, i've found all of those in great quantity. well, no more. the time for negativity is past. 

this is the season to embrace change. it's boring when everything stays the same. this is the time to seek the most amazing stories and tell them well. this is the time to let go of what's not working. and to let go of things which are working but not moving anywhere in order to move on to newer, more exciting things. hanging on to the past isn't productive or healthy. it's not how we grow and learn and evolve and become better, stronger, more capable versions of ourselves. and while this may all sound dire, it's really not. it feels like stretching long unused muscles after a winter hibernation, feeling them out once again, exposing them to the warming rays of the sun, getting to know them and put them to good use.

of course, not everything needs to change - home, husband, child, cats and garden remain the fertile ground from which to grow, they are most definitely my own very best fragments of niceness. that and my t-rex costume. everyone should have one of those. they cheer you right up.

* * *

amazing 9-year-old slays new yorker cartoon captions.
and for a bit more low brow version, check out these shitty captions for new yorker cartoons.

* * *

if you find yourself rolling your eyes at the crystal-obsessed, this is for you.

* * *

and one more from the new yorker...
molly ringwald is such a good writer.

Friday, April 06, 2018

montage and the edge of madness

oh the joys of middle age. little fragments of memory loss, borne of waning hormones and days filled with too many tasks, emails and the relentless onslaught of news. names elude, words are just out of reach. and it's all terrifying in light of mom's alzheimer's. but, i console myself that it's likely not that, at least not yet. it's the times we live in - it's the relentlessness of being always online and the 24-hour news cycle. something has to fill it all, so like an eisenstein montage, it all keeps flashing before us, inundating our brains, filling them to overflow, impulses, ideas, stories, images, names flitting by, our brains can hardly sort it all. it's no wonder we can't remember things in detail. there's surely an element of wilful forgetting in it. who can take so much? the brain blocks some of it off to keep us safe and away from the edge of madness. and yet, we hang there, swinging out over the precipice, wondering if the pendulum will swing back.

* * *

over-dramatised and badly-acted, but charming nonetheless.
but you gotta like the western girl.

* * *

this thought-provoking piece in the new yorker
where does the mind end and the world begin?
andy clark has some thoughts on that.

* * *

stories can change the world.

Tuesday, April 03, 2018


the temperature is rising after days (months?) of unseasonable cold. a fog moved in silently over the landscape, thickening and settling in as i drew nearer to my weekday home. it at once obscured and made the bare, black trees more noticeable, more striking in their height, their branches more numerous and intricate against the greyish white of the fog. a hush settled over the landscape, like it had been swaddled in cotton, dampening all sound, save the odd birdcall, i imagined from the cocoon of my car, similarly grey and nondescript as it sped along the road. i didn't actually hear any birds, but their calls would both carry and be muffled by the fog and i could hear them in my head. fog transforms the ordinary into something extraordinary. your imagination fills in what's hidden. i exclaimed that i found the trees magical; my friend's daughter shivered and said she found them spooky. to her they were somehow alien and foreboding. the fog the same, our stories of it different. there's a life lesson in that somewhere.

Sunday, March 25, 2018

it's mom's birthday

my mom turns 79 today. my sister went to her assisted living yesterday and did a whole shebang. mom's sister was there, there was music, there was cake - it was a celebration. reports suggest that mom enjoyed herself thoroughly, which warms my heart in these times when i wonder what her quality of life is through the fog of her alzheimer's. and i feel very far away. mostly because i am very far away. and i have some ambivalence about that - it can be good and bad, sometimes at the same time.

these photos of mom are from the late 1950s. she was a member of the class of 1957 (of musical fame) and these must have been shortly after her graduation, when she was working at the sioux falls argus leader. her father had been an editor there for 30+ years, so she got a job there as well, even though he died when she was 16. she was a typesetter, but i think in these photos, she was a markets reporter. there must have been several photoshoots, since she's not wearing the same clothes in all the photos, nor is her hair quite the same. i suspect she trimmed it herself. and she never really stopped doing that.

i look at these and i wonder who she was? i'm not sure we ever really know our parents, they are kind of strangers to us. what goes on their heads? what life did they have before we came along? what dreams did she have? what did she like to do? what did she think of her job? did she like it? it seems obvious she laughed at work and enjoyed it, and i'd like to believe it wasn't just for the camera. i think the cameraman was wilmer. i don't remember his last name, but i remember visiting his smoked-filled house frequently as a child. he made the most amazing photographic new year's cards every year. they weren't christmas cards, as i recall him not believing in god, which was pretty out there for someone from sioux falls in the 1970s (probably even more so today). he was a real photographer - i remember his small house in sioux falls - his wife helen's fish pond in a very eclectic back yard and stacks of photos balanced precariously on card tables in the living room. even in my childish memories, he was a real character and probably one of the first intellectuals i was exposed to. in my memory, those new year's cards were a bit surreal and dali-esque. always with a clock on them, to signify time passing. i hope there are some in a box somewhere in the house, i'd like to see them again, to see if they match my memories.

it seems appropriate to stroll through my own memories as hers fade away. i am struck by the sorrow of her becoming even more of a stranger, that who she was and who she is are ever more unreachable by me. in this last photo, i look at her hands and i see my own hands, but otherwise, i don't find myself in her. maybe i see a hint of myself in that collar bone and in the freckles on her arm. but otherwise, she is and will undoubtedly remain, a mystery to me.

happy 79th birthday mom. you are your own, to the very end.

Monday, March 19, 2018

the trolls are out

yikes, there was a post in the nytimes podcast club, asking for what annoys people about podcasts. i said many podcasters' pronunciation of qatar as "cutter" drove me crazy. it created a whole lot of discussion and much more outrage and trollishness that i would ever have imagined. one girl got a little bit unhinged and accused me of being pretentious and pseudo intellectual. um, what? i was just answering the question. the internet is awful.

i hadn't encountered such stridency in the nytimes podcast club before this.  i think it's an interesting example of the times in which we live and the increasing absence of it being ok to disagree. and also, of citing a random internet site as authority. i think i'll ask helen zolzmann of the allusionist what she thinks.

* * *

apropos people who disappoint,
advice on how to find joy.
we could all use that.

* * *
sam sifton (the sublime nytimes cooking writer)
recommended this
i trust his advice.

Sunday, March 18, 2018


CPH:dox, the copenhagen documentary film festival, is sending some of their films out to the provinces, and so i had the chance to see two of the films at spinderihallerne in vejle. spinderihallerne is one of the few bright spots in vejle, which otherwise rather thinks more of itself than it actually should. it's an old factory in the center of the city that's been converted to a museum, café, event and coworking space and they've done it very well.

the films i saw were maxim pozdarovkin's our new president, about the fake news about the american election IN russia. you can see a longish trailer for it here. i spent much of the screening with my mouth gaped open in horror. it's easy to understand how the russian trolls spread their insane, conspiratorial stories on our shores. what's less easy to understand is how anyone fell for it. i feel sad about russia today. i spent many years studying russian and russian culture and i think what's happening under putin does a rich and intelligent culture a real disservice.

the other film i saw was called pre-crime - about the algorithms and technology that's "helping" police departments all over the world catch criminals before they even are criminals. if you've seen person of interest, you'll realize that reality and fiction are far closer than we may like. but can you imagine being approached by the police because you landed on a computer-generated list of people who might someday commit a crime? what if you had been hanging out with the wrong crowd, but you weren't doing that anymore, what if you'd gone back to school and gotten your life in order when they came knocking? what would that do to you?

it was a very thought-provoking day, but also quite sobering. it is frightening how we all are voluntarily giving up so much information - through facebook, instagram, location-sharing and yes, even free google-owned platforms like this blog - that's sold on to those who would use it against us. it gave me thoughts of seriously living off-grid. but i think that's become quite difficult. plus, i'm such a device-geek that i would find it very hard. what if i could no longer photograph every cup of coffee or the adventures of my minifigures or share the latest things the cats are doing? but, what if that could be used against me in ways i cannot even imagine.

both films had a talk after them - the first, about fake news in general and the second about the state of surveillance in denmark. neither talk made me feel any better. but it feels really important to have the conversation. i'm glad denmark is still funding such things. this event was free. i used my whole saturday afternoon learning something new and being provoked to think and there was even free popcorn. i don't think it gets much better than that.

Sunday, March 11, 2018

searching for a sense of community

i took a little stroll into the past this morning. the bloggy past. i visited a bunch of old haunts, from char's ramblings to truth cycles to c is for capetown to the emma tree and the eleventh and beyond. all were, in some fashion, more or less dormant. we knew that about char, of course, since she died all too young back in 2011. but what happened to the rest of us? what happened to our community? some of us moved over to facebook and are still friends there. but it's arguably not the same as it was back in the blogging heyday. i used to write daily, sometimes multiple times, but now i'm only here a couple of times a month, when i want to figure out what i think about something. what changed? jobs? kids? did life accelerate somehow? was it the rise of the smart phone (who wants to type a whole blog post on that little keyboard)? or did facebook, instagram and twitter just kill our blogging vibe? but i realized that i miss that old sense of community. that's just not the same on facebook.

there is a kind of community on facebook and i have recently observed the intersection of one part of that community with actual, in-real-life community. watching it from afar has been at turns nauseating and heartwarming. i haven't really known how to feel about it. i've felt like a voyeur, since it was tangential to my own community, so it's felt like an invasion of privacy on my part to read the regular updates. but on the other hand, it was shared publicly, so i wasn't really spying. but it has felt like spying. and not only did i spy, i judged. at times harshly. there was a lot of god stuff and i have a hard time with that. but then, something softened in me. i can see people of all ages, from high school girls to grandparents, pouring out good thoughts of healing and support and honestly, it suddenly melted my heart. people demonstrably caring about other people, what's not to like? there's so much awfulness in the world right now, and i can't believe i almost missed this situation as an antidote to it. when i let myself, i can see that it's a genuine sense of community.

but at the same time, i can't bring myself to participate in it. so i sit across an ocean and voyeuristically read the posts, but don't contribute anything to the conversation. and there are a couple of reasons for that. one is the god thing - i cannot see how you can possibly praise god up and down for his mercy in the girl's recovery and not blame him that she fell ill in the first place - the logic just doesn't add up for me. the other is that i don't really know these people, tho' they are from my hometown, so i would feel like an intruder if i participated in the conversation. i have a classmate who i can see is part of the conversation and she's for all practical purposes, as far away as i am, but she feels she can contribute to the community in a way that i cannot. or will not. because i also admit that it's a choice on my part. she's just making a different choice than i am. and that's ok. it's perhaps a community i'm no longer part of, especially after my father died and with the decline of my mother and seeing how all the friends she had have fallen away as she has deteriorated. it's hard to keep a positive view of the place when it seems like it was all a facade and not real when the going gets tough.

i don't really know where it all leaves me, and i'm not done pondering it or looking for answers as to how to live this life we have landed in. a colleague recommended a russian philosopher that i had strangely not heard of before - p.d. ouspensky. i got his work from 1917 - in search of the miraculous - and i've been reading it today. perhaps it will provide me with a new way of viewing the world, even tho' the world in which he wrote was so far from our technology-flooded world today. but perhaps humans aren't all that different.

Saturday, March 10, 2018

fear and other baggage

fear is an annoyance, rearing its head when you least desire it, popping up from the depths where you had tucked it away. sometimes you are surprised by what provokes it, other times, it returns like dust on your window ledge, there's a thin covering of it and you didn't even notice its arrival until it's there, keeping you awake at night, grinding your teeth. my fear doesn't have to do with dying, it's about feeling (or being shown) that i don't belong. but this piece about audrey lourde on the ever-brilliant brainpickings spoke to me, even tho' it was about the much more real fear of impending death. as the piece says, not giving in to fear is about "everyday living and making decisions." deciding not to give in to fear, to let it rob you of sleep, your fillings, your happiness and contentment and your genuine enjoyment of your job and life in general. but, in times of uncertainty, that can be hard.

i wrote the above last sunday night and left it unfinished here in my browser tab. in the meantime, i've had a whole week to ponder the question of fear. i also listened to a wonderful podcast on the topic, which, by chance (or not, if you have a fatalist presbyterian inside you), was the nytimes podcast club's pick this week - closer than they appear. it was so thoughtful, deep and self-reflective, that it made me think about fear differently. the host, carvell wallace, examines trump's america and how one can cope with living in it. in the first episode, he asked listeners to think about someone they'd like to talk to, who they haven't been able to for one reason or another - someone who they were estranged from or angry with - and about something you want to say to someone, which you haven't been able to say.

and i began to think about who that would be for me. two people came to mind, and then it became three and then four, none of which i really have the possibility to speak to, unless i really tried. but the need is still there, and i think it's actually really blocking me from truly living to my full potential. in all three four cases, it is the root of the fear i feel today in the face of some of my colleagues losing their jobs and fearing for my own.

the first one is that old norwegian misogynist dinosaur who was a sexist son-of-a-bitch to my face. in this era of #metoo, he has been on my mind a lot. i was so nonplussed at the time, that i just flushed and swallowed hard and couldn't think of a single thing to say against his ridiculous claim that a woman couldn't interview a shipping ceo. and i eventually left that job because of that incident, which i reported to hr and then was "bought out" and left.  i'd like to call him a misogynist dinosaur to his face.

the second one is uncle fester. he was utterly wrong about a situation and he never admitted that he was wrong. of course, he was someone who had no problem standing in front of large groups of people, lying to their faces, so there's that. i have heard that he has had a rather severe case of lyme disease, which makes me believe in karma. he is the least of the four, as i moved on to other jobs which took me in a better, more interesting direction. i would still like to tell him i think he's a weak coward for being unable to admit his mistake. and i probably could write to him, but i'm not sure it's worth it.

number three is an old friend who hasn't been a friend for some years. i'd love to tell him (these are all men, have you noticed?) how hurt i was by his actions, but i'm not sure what good it would do. on the other hand, i had an amazing bodywork session on friday that made me think that i hold this baggage in my body, so perhaps it would be worth getting in touch and trying to clear the air.

the last is that asshat from lego. he said i wasn't commercial. and he negated me as a person, more than any of the others (except, perhaps interestingly enough, that other norwegian twat). perhaps above all, i'd like to give him a piece of my mind. and since he's but 15 minutes away, the possibility lingers.

but then i think about whether it's really worth it. would any of them learn anything or recognize the damage they did? would i be prepared to accept it if they didn't? would my body be able to let go of the baggage i carry? at my age, there's starting to be so much, that i wonder sometimes how i can carry it all.

i'm not done pondering this and i think i'll even listen to the closer than they appear podcast again, to try and work through it (also, it's that good). and i'm definitely going back for more bodywork - that was amazing. and potentially transformative. it would be good to be able to let go of all this fear. undoubtedly a whole new wave of fears would take center stage, but then i could deal with those (i'm looking at you, alzheimer's). above all, it would be good to have something else rule my life/ awesome energy and good karma.

so much work to do.

Sunday, March 04, 2018

8 things

you really should sit down and write when the inspiration strikes, because if you wait and attempt to write from the little note you scribbled between the names of james bond films on a postcard that's lying on your desk, you might not remember what it was you actually wanted to write. that's mostly because what you wrote was "8 things." potentially quite broad. but what the hell, let's give it a whirl:

the past week was a mixed bag of shitty and not shitty. shitty in the surprise layoff of 17 colleagues, two from my own department. none of us saw it coming when the company had just announced another fabulous result. i felt so much sympathy, as i've been there too. it's a reminder (yet again) that corporations are unfeeling, ruthless things and as such cannot be trusted.

a week of below-zero temps froze over our lake, but sunny days this weekend melted it just enough on the top layer as to be untrustworthy to skate on. i had dug out the skates, made homemade marshmallows for hot chocolate (which the child characterized as bougie and extra), and was preparing to bundle up and head down there when husband reported the melting. i did go down to the lake to check it myself with my skate-clad lego penguin, but he was the only one who got to skate.

it was a doozy of a news week. i find that i can't even keep up with the number of scandals coming at us. it's relentless, exhausting and at times downright bizarre.

just the very thought of owning a t-rex costume has the capacity to cheer you up. putting it in your amazon basket can make you giddy. hitting order might make you feel downright elated.

there is always another idea.

sometimes your first impression of people is just plain wrong. and sometimes it's spot on. the trick is knowing which is which.

i'll admit, i had to ask if being bougie and extra was good or bad. she assured me it's good, like sephora. knowing how she feels about sephora, it's high praise indeed.

there's very little that's better than making a proper sunday breakfast - bacon, waffles, eggs and a big pot of tea.

i'm quite certain these weren't the eight things i was thinking of when i jotted that down on friday evening. at that point, i was tired from a long week and had just been to see the smart feminist comic sophie hagen in århus, and i wanted nothing more than to go to bed, so i didn't sit down to write then. you should probably always sit down and write when inspiration strikes, because it may never strike in the exactly the same way again.

Friday, February 23, 2018

what i have been doing lately

the paris review podcast just finished their first season and it was luminous. every episode is shimmeringly beautiful - a mix of early writing, archival audio and contemporary pieces read by famous voices. it's literary and deep and gorgeously produced. i was inspired by the jamaica kincaid piece in episode 12 - what i have been doing lately. (you need a subscription to read all of it, but you can hear it for free on the podcast.) and while i cannot hope to compare to her writing, i do feel drawn to trying my hand at it...tho' i suspect mine will have a less dreamlike quality.

what i have been doing me.

it's 4 a.m. i'm awake, kicking off the covers, it's clear outside and i can see the light of the partial moon illuminating the heavy frost that's on the grass. there are a zillion stars in the clear sky. i reach for my phone. what has the spray-tanned buffoon done now? has there been another school shooting? are those articulate florida teenagers winning or are they being snuffed out by old, stodgy white men? not yet, it seems, tho' they are trying (the stodgy men, that is). bob is snuggled between us, stretching out his long body, trusting that we won't roll over onto him. oddly, husband isn't snoring, which in turn makes me wonder if he's still breathing - i feel a rising anxiety at the thought that he's not and i flash back to a similar feeling when sabin was a baby. he is. as she always was. i don't feel panic at being awake, because i'm taking the day off. i can sleep in if i want. when it comes to it, i don't, because of that gorgeous sunrise you can see in the photo above. instead, i get up with husband and the child, who aren't taking the day off, and then i switch batteries on the camera and go out into the cold, clear, still, very frosty morning to capture that pinkish orange horizon. i breathe in great lungsful (lungfuls?) of cold, crisp, clean air. frannie follows me, rolling and flirting at my feet. molly trots over, her compact little body, covered in thick, grey tortiseshell fur. she stretches up a fence post in her version of a catlike sun salutation. freya eventually shows up as well, tho' i don't see where she comes from. her back twitches in anticipation that i will pet her. i do. i feed them all in the greenhouse and they eagerly dig in. i find it hard to leave the sunrise, it keeps getting more and more spectacular and intense as soon as i turn my back on it. so i go back to the edge of the trees and snap a few more photos. more than once. eventually, my hands are cold and my toes too in my rubber boots and i head for the house. i love the still, cold air. birdsong has begun and despite the frost, it sounds like spring. the birds have sex and light and warmth on the brain. i go in, light a match and put on the kettle to make tea. molly comes in with me, hopping up on her chair in the kitchen. it's her throne. i make a cup of tea and crawl back in bed with karl ove knausgaard's autumn. musings he ostensibly wrote to his unborn daughter, but which amount to deep, philosophical (a)musings on everyday things. tho' they are not poetry, they remind me somehow of neruda's elemental odes. i read a few and never do go back to sleep as i had hoped. i get up and do everyday tasks - laundry, unloading the dishwasher, reloading it, taking out the trash. there is a kind of time for thinking and processing in such mundane tasks, so i feel no resentment or frustration over them. i dress, put on some makeup and then it's time to go get the child. i have to run a few errands before she's out of school - grocery store, h&m. she's in a good mood - there's a party tonight for the whole school. and the sun is out, so her mood is vastly improved from the teenage stormcloud of the night before. we listen to the criminal podcast on the way home and she predicts the criminal's sentence before they even say it. she tells me that in addition to studying criminology and criminal justice in sunny arizona, she will likely go to law school as well. i have a moment of awe, observing who she is becoming and how much herself she already is. i feel more a witness to it than responsible and that feels like a privilege of which i'm probably not fully worthy. we drink aloe water - golden kiwi flavor - and pick up some more at the grocery store because it's delicious and it's on sale. we laugh easily about how much we love the feel of the little bits of aloe between our teeth. we get home and while she gets ready for her evening party, i lie down for a bit with a couple of cats. i don't snooze, but lazily check instagram and post a few of the photos i took earlier. it feels like a luxury. i take her to the train. she's happy - the sun is shining, her makeup is perfect and she's looking forward to a nice evening with her friends. i come home and husband is here, but he has a headache, so now he's lying down. i leisurely make a light supper of fishcakes and homemade remoulade. we greedily eat it all up while we watch john oliver and he makes us laugh and feel better about the state of the world. i sit at my computer and write this and husband surfs the auction sites - looking for an oven and stumbling across other interesting things...a vending machine (we could fill it with affordable art), some rugs and a couch that has potential. it's friday night. it's cold and clear and i am glad to be at home.

* * *

* * *

so glad i didn't have boy. 

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speaking of things i've been doing lately,
have you listened to the podcast i'm making at work yet?

Sunday, February 18, 2018

when is a cold the flu?

you have a cold - it's the kind where you're achy in your shoulders, your ears are ringing, you're coughing up small balls of phlegm from a very sore throat and though your nose isn't stuffed up,  every breath you take is too cold on your sore throat. and it does no favors for your general mood. and by you, i naturally mean me. on top of it, there's another mass shooting at a school, and another bunch of horribleness flares up on facebook among the gun-toting set. i hate being confronted with the wilful ignorance of people i grew up with. the world is becoming so polarized, i honestly fear for all of us. and there's no sense engaging with the deplorables, no amount of logic or reason will seep through their thick, redneck, racist skulls. they sent out their useless, ineffectual, insincere thoughts and prayers and next week, there will probably be another shooting and nothing will be done about it. especially if the perpetrator is white. hands will be wrung and more white supremacist mental cases will buy assault weapons. and that orange jackass in the white house will pose for photos with his grimace and a thumbs up and then rush off to his tee time. and if your head is all stuffed up and your ears are ringing, you might feel rather hopeless about it all.

and it will be compounded by other things which facebook brings to awful, sad stories of a horribly sick little girl who is also being slathered with hopes and prayers - everyone apparently conveniently forgetting that a god that would turn a fever into pneumonia and cardiac arrest in a little girl, doesn't seem all that merciful or inclined to perform miracles. but on that front, you can kind of forgive the thoughts and prayers, because they probably at least bring comfort to those involved. you just mostly wish that facebook didn't involve you in these things.

and you wish this stupid cold or flu or whatever it is would run its course and loosen its grip. hmm...maybe a few thoughts and prayers sent my way would help...

* * *

knausgaard's journey to understand russia.
makes me want to dig out my turgenev.

* * *

and it turns out john b. maclemore of s*town fame made some music.
it involves ambient and field recordings mixed with tor lundvall's work.

* * *

do you know jonathan pie?
you should.

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the food you take you with you when you immigrate.

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i like these short, short stories.

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need more podcasts?
there are some new ones on this list.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

the view from sunday night

a luxuriously lazy weekend - sleeping in, leisurely tidying up, sorting and throwing out a bunch of old papers (what a relief that was!), hanging with the cats, and husband, watching netflix (altered carbon = meh due to odd casting, dirty money = too distressing, comedians in cars getting coffee = just what i needed), baking bread, making spelt "risotto," because it's what i had in the cupboard, roasting a chicken, getting all the laundry done, catching up my 365 tumblr, planning husband's birthday dinner, photographing the first snowdrops - in the snow, no less, making and keeping a vow not to get dressed all day, cutting out and painting pages of an old book, reading a frivolous and unserious novel. it was, in other words, exactly the weekend i needed.

we are so pressured these days to make sure every moment has meaning, but sometimes, what you need is to slow down, stay in your pajamas, read a rather trashy novel (carl hiaasen's skinny dip, in this case), light some candles, drink coffee with extra cream, snuggle with a cat and damn any guilt feelings over any of it. down time like this is as important as all of the things we chase and the hours we work to make and do things that are important to us and/or our jobs. and i would do well to remember that. 

maybe allowing yourself a shouldless day* is the best way to take care of you and give yourself the mental space for the rest that life offers. and by you, i mean me. but i do also mean you. 

* * * 

collect all the books.
it's good for you.

* * *

the case for reading bad.

* * *

some cities are just better for revolutions.

* * *

magazines - collected.

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lovely, lovely audio stories (in danish) by julie thing.

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what you leave behind when you immigrate.

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*shouldless day - from the episode of death, sex & money with ellen burstyn. 

Saturday, January 27, 2018


just when you think you're completely healed and over your year in lego, something happens that opens up the baggage and you're right back, smack in the middle of how terrible it felt. it turns out that feeling rejected and like i don't belong triggers that awful feeling in me again.  yesterday, i posted one of these ducky swim ring photos in the toy photographers group on g+ as a contribution to their inspiring hashtag - #nofigurefriday. i posted it and then left to go pick up the child. when i got back, i refreshed the toy photographers page to see if anyone had commented and to see what others were posting.

weirdly, my post was nowhere to be found on the page. i refreshed again and scrolled down and down, thinking perhaps g+ stacks the posts strangely by column. there were other new posts there that had come after mine, but no sign of mine. my heart actually began to pound and i could hear the blood in my ears and i flushed in embarrassment - had my post been deleted because it wasn't good enough? did i put it in the wrong category? i had selected "photo challenge" because of the hashtag, but what if that was wrong? were they really that strict? had i been too silent for too long, so i was no longer welcome to contribute? what was going on?

notice in all of those thoughts, i immediately felt that i must have been inferior and deserved to have my photo deleted. it didn't make me angry, it made me very sad and it made me feel like i didn't belong. i posted a comment, asking what happened to my original post and people jumped in, giving me helpful advice about how to share in the group, as if i were tech-challenged. that didn't help me feel any better.

later, i got a report that it was some kind of issue with g+ and that a lot of posts weren't showing. but that somehow didn't make me feel better either. i still feel wary and hurt and have a nagging feeling that i don't really belong in that "community." i wonder if it will fade with time, or if my lego wounds are so deep, they'll never really scar over.