sienamystic: (book and heart)
Got to go to a book signing by Connie Willis at the local adorable used book store (complete with a staff of two leggy kitty brothers who are always on patrol). I had my copy of Lincoln's Dreams signed because it's a book that is tiny and potent and makes me sob uncontrollably and may have the most perfect/heartbreaking/punch in the gut ending I've ever come across. I MAY be a little verklempt sitting here just thinking about it.

Anyway, Connie was lovely and spoke a bit about her current project (she'll be doing a reading at the local con, but I probably won't be able to go on account of poorness) which is going to be a more lighthearted work in the vein of Bellwether, set probably in Denver, about telepathy and relationships and communication. She also talked a bit about her process (handwriting drafts, eavesdropping shamelessly on strangers and their conversations, having a great idea and launching happily into a book only to discover how much you'll have to wrestle with the great idea) and was overall quite a charming lady.

I have a strange relationship with her works (I've probably talked about this before? Oh, well). There are some authorial quirks that she has that drive me up a tree. I can talk for days about how the whole "missed message" trope that she loves so much makes me want to rip my hair out. Sometimes her characters just aren't strongly individuated and they can all sound the same, and while she can write a great horrible child, sometimes I just want to put the book down to get away from them for a little while. Her books can be exhausting. And yet her stories worm their way under my skin, they can inhabit me, I've dreamed about her books after reading them - not her characters, but the moods she sets. She has a knack of packing an emotional wallop that is like a sledgehammer between the eyes. She can make me laugh hysterically, she can make me cry like it's the end of Old Yeller. I can't reread her heavier books often because they wring me out like wet cheesecloth. I will probably never be able to reread Passage. She has a something that is really freaking special, and I'm really thrilled I got to interact with her, even a tiny bit.
sienamystic: (flowermachine)
I keep a dream journal, just jotting down basic notes on some of them. The first one, a comically tiny notebook a friend brought me from Mexico (complete with luchador on the cover) is now full, thanks to the two dreams I jotted down this morning. The second one involved sitting around a crowded conference table, wearing big headphones, at some sort of meeting. The nice part about this is that I was sitting next to Nathan Fillion, and sort of leaning against him in a friendly fashion. He was warm and solid and it was very nice. I had some sort of conversation with him, but it didn't survive the waking-up process.

Much nicer than the previous dream, which involved microwaving whole frozen fish for a falcon I was caring for at some sort of crazy pet store.
sienamystic: (book and heart)
Just finished a reread of the Lord of the Rings. And of course, I end up sobbing helplessly through most of The Return of the King. But only in the best way possible.
sienamystic: (commedia)
I do hate slogging through it, but snow is so pretty. We got a couple of fluffy inches of it blanketing everything and it softens the world and makes bare branches look stark and elegant.

Of course, getting it off your car is a royal pain.

I didn't end up quite finishing City of Diamond. it was weird, I was enjoying it and enjoying it and enjoying it and then just...stopped. I think that while I was more or less having fun with these people whose POVs I was sitting in, the pacing was so slow that all of a sudden I lost interest. I'll put it aside and maybe revisit it, because it did a lot of things really well, but I'm moving along to another book in the pile.

The music I've been listening to right now has all been centered on John Fullbright, an Oklahoma singer-songwriter whose stuff falls into what NPR notes is a blend of country, folk and rock. It falls pretty squarely into my HoneyHoney/Neko Case/Delta Rae/Damien Jurado brainspace. I'm also tentatively poking at The Lumineers and Of Monsters and Men, although I haven't bought anything beyond "Little Talks." It's all very hip of me, I guess, although my general purposes Spotify playlist encompasses a whole lot of stuff both cool and current and violently uncool and dated as all get out.

Wrestling with a few things, but I don't feel like talking about them at this point. I could use some hot chocolate with marshmallows, though. None in the house and I'm not putting on pants to venture out into the cold. There, now you have a vivid mental picture of me, pantsless. You're welcome.
sienamystic: (Sophie)
I got a sweet Fast Women story for Yuletide - the very cute Three Weddings and a Funyun. My own gift seems to have been well received, which makes me happy - I was floundering a bit in the fic because it had a lot of world-building to be done and I wasn't sure I was up to the task, and there were moments that I pondered defaulting because I kept deleting big chunks of text, but I think it all worked out nicely in the end. It won't get read much, I don't think, but I like the idea of the few people who want something in this fandom finding at least one story when they go looking.

In other news, I am coughing an unproductive, harsh cough, and my head hurts in that "sinuses filled with cement" way. Also, my chest hurts a bit. I've drunk two big mugs of hot chai tea and taken some Robitussin, but I have a feeling I've fallen to the holiday blargh, which will make it fun to travel in...omg, just a few days. Woe. Also, we went trail riding on Christmas Eve day, and while it was a great deal of fun and I may have not completely lost all knowledge about how to steer a horse, my thigh muscles were Not Pleased with the whole thing and I've sort of been lurching around like a drunken sailor since.

I don't really want to go home. I do, but I don't, and I want to keep hanging out with my sister under no time pressure. I want to keep being crafty and continue making things with her and also cooking. I'm not ready to go back to work. I'm glad I built in a few days to decompress from the trip before I do go back, but I'm still not ready to face it. January is always kind of a bitch of a month, because our deductible resets and so all the prescriptions cost more, plus it's when the cold really sets in and you sort of end up feeling like it's just a long, dreary sludge till spring.

ANYWAY. This is all probably just because I'm feeling like I'm made of wet cement. I should go to bed and stop whining.
sienamystic: (horse)
Back on the East Coast, hanging with the family in the Virginia burbs. I have been mostly happy with these prospects, especially since Back Home has been getting hammered by blizzards, but although I love my mom very much, I also know how crazy she is, and feeling cheerful despite her rapid mood swings has been a little more difficult for me. That and the far-right-wing radio shows she marinated herself in - there's usually something blaring as background noise no matter what she's bustling around doing.

Also, as I've likely mentioned in the past, nobody likes the man she married (hell, she doesn't like him half the time), in large part to his yelly personality (got to hear him screaming, on the phone, from the basement, at multiple hapless drones about professionalism and customer service. It was precisely the opposite of fun.) and his ability to go from zero to TMI in a matter of seconds. Not gross TMI, but I don't need to know about his therapy for his angry inner child, you know? Frankly, I could have guessed at his existence, and I don't need details.

Also, have been fighting the usual worries I have about taking vacation time, because of course that's when they realize how incompetent/useless/disposable I am, right? At least my brain enjoys unrolling those scenarios. Honestly, while I love my therapist and have unloaded a lot of stuff on her recently, I don't think I'm getting any sort of handle on my anxiety, and I don't think I can afford to keep going. It's forty dollars a session, and that's just enough to make things pinch elsewhere.

But time spent with my sister is always great, and we got to enjoy a particularly awesome early Christmas present from her and her boyfriend - another trip to the Korean spa. So today we spent a lot of time soaking in hot tubs, paddling around to different parts of a pool with different massaging jets, immersing ourselves in the red clay ball room, dozing on a floor with radiant heat, eating good Korean food, fighting over a mango smoothie, and mostly just laying around. It was delightful, and I want to move in and never leave.

Also, we've been eating a lot. A LOT.
sienamystic: (tempt me)
Korra finale in the morning, and a stretch of swimming and sitting in the sun at a local lake for the afternoon.

Korra verdict: very satisfying despite a sadly rushed pace that marred most of the season, plus some characters got short shrift while other were so satisfyingly rounded. Wished the whole bender/non-bender trope had been given more examination, because you were left without a really good idea of whether there was legitimate wide-spread bender resentment or if it was mostly something Amon stirred up. Got a little misty at certain points. Can't believe they went with a certain plot development given that the show's nominally for kids - really moving and surprising and sad.

It was a gorgeous day to swim in an almost-too-cold-but-not-quite lake, and eat banana bread and bask in the sunshine. We went with a friend and coworker, and plan to go next week. I may have to invest in a floaty thing of some kind. The day was sunny and warm, but not achingly hot, and all in all it was really nice. Not exactly a substitute for a real beach, but really nice.
sienamystic: (aikido)
Tonight I got to do jiyu-waza for the first time. The term translates to "free expression," and is facing an attack when you don't know which one it will be. (For our levels, they are limited to one of four.) I've participated as the attacker in these scenarios, but kind of dreaded being the one standing in the circle. I worried that I'd lock up and just stand there. Well, tonight I got put in, and while I didn't cover myself with glory, I moved. I did techniques. And I feel kind of pleased with myself. There's plenty of room to improve, but for the first time I feel like I've actually reached a small milestone in my training.
sienamystic: (Italy signpost)
Busy weekend, in a very nice way. On Saturday, we headed over to the kitchen of the people who used to operate my favorite coffee house and cupcakery, and picked up a quart of their absolutely awesome Hungarian Mushroom soup, plus four cupcakes (Bemo picked mocha and coffee, because he's a doofus, and I went with red velvet and chocolate ganache). I would have gotten some macaroons, but they were gone, alas. I then toddled over to my eye doctor to have a check of my new contact lenses. The right one is sitting beautifully, but the left one turns a bit, so he gave me a new one and I'll have to have it looked at in another week. I think not wearing my glasses makes my face a bit more potato-like, but oh, well. I also got to sigh over the nice pair of Ray Ban glasses I almost got, which looked great and would have fit a trifle better, but were fifty bucks pricier than the ones I went with.

Then off to the coffeehouse for some warmth (it was frigid out) and to the local cool used bookstore (they have a handsome pair of cats patrolling, or, more likely, asleep in the shop window) for the owner's annual 29th birthday sale, although I didn't end up buying anything. Which is probably for the best, because I have a big backlog that I'm not getting to.

That night, we went off to a show I had gotten some discounted tickets for a ways back. It's a one-man show the comedian Larry Miller is doing, Cocktails with Larry Miller. It was a fun, low-key, charming show with a lot of laughs. I used to listen to him on the Adam Carolla podcast, but gave it up a while back and haven't missed it, so it was nice to see him even if he wasn't playing Imaginary Road Trip. I would bet the bulk of the audience there doesn't know him from the Carolla podcast - we were among the younger attendees there - but they might be like my mom-in-law, who remembers his slightly older bits like "The Five Stages of Drinking." Actually, she would have enjoyed the show a great deal as well.

Then on Sunday, we went to Omaha to attend a concert of German Baroque lute music, which was lovely, lovely. And after we got home, I made a giant pot of turkey chili which came out really well, so we can fend off the continuing cold weather. What's this with the winter, all of a sudden? I have been spoiled by the unseasonable warmth and feel like I deserve to grumble about it actually being, you know, cold in February. We got more snow today, too.

Next weekend will be equally busy, and it's nice to look forward to fun things on the weekends.

Five

Feb. 9th, 2012 09:39 pm
sienamystic: (aikido)
Tested tonight for my fifth kyu, second orange belt. First test with a weapons component, so I got to demonstrate the 22-count jo (short staff) kata. I was swinging wildly between "you got this" and "oh my god I can't" right up until I started the test. Towards the end there was a lot of heavy breathing, and not the sexy kind, but I managed to neither throw up nor pass out, so put that in the win column.

We had a lot of people testing, including two people going for their blues, and everybody did really well. Lots of good energy in the dojo tonight.

I'm working on a small piece of writing that will work as a blog post for the dojo, about what aikido means to me, and I'll post it here as well when I'm done.
sienamystic: (Pete whining)
It's always lovely when the morning brings unexpected family drama, and it's even lovelier when you're the one who inadvertently triggers it. The Facebook "share" button can be a tricksy thing. Thankfully, it's mostly died down, but I suppose it's useful information to know that you're never too old to feel like a hurt little kid. Blast my father and his overwhelming cowardice anyhow.

In other news, I have a three-day weekend to look forward to, which is pretty awesome. And today we had tres leches cake to celebrate a birthday. And I got to see some proofs for an upcoming catalogue that I had some participation in, and it looks pretty darn cool. And my sister and I hashed out a food plan to start getting our respective crazypants eating under some sort of control. And I earned a little money by doing some ad hoc photo research for a London publishing house, very unexpectedly.

Since I had a bowl of the competition this afternoon, have an 1930 ad for Heinz spaghetti inna can.

Heinz cooked Spahhetti ad 1930
sienamystic: (bosch sienamystic)
A couple of days ago, a Cooper's Hawk flew into our building (big windows). He looked horrible, but when the animal control officer came to pop him into the cat carrier to transport him to raptor rehab, he fought like the dickens, so I had hope. I called the raptor rehab people earlier this morning and he's going to be fine. He had a full crop when he hit, and so it ruptured, but it's been stitched up, he's going to hang out there for a few weeks to heal, and then he'll be released. And I am very glad of that.
sienamystic: (Heyer - wealthy)
In honor of the release of a new album by one of my favorite bands, I thought I'd put up the music post that I've been pondering. Although music post sounds so formal - what I wanted to share were the albums that have been on heavy rotation on Sherman, my iPod Touch. Also, these are entire albums that just hold together perfectly - I don't listen to them as a random assortment of singles, but as one unit that I'm experiencing.

HoneyHoney is a band I've recommended to a bunch of people at this point. I got hooked on them thanks to the tv show Life, which used this song:



(Life got me hooked on so much good music, guys. It's too bad the DVDs had to use different music.)

Anyway, Honey Honey's newest album is out. It's called Billy Jack, and I've just downloaded it without even pre-listening (although I've heard "Ohio" as an early release to their mailing list) and I think I'm going to love it as much as their first album, "First Rodeo." They're alt-country, I suppose...in whatever corner of alt-country that people like Neko Case, Jenny Lewis, and the Watson Twins fall into. The female lead is soulful, expressive, and great fun, their lyrics are strong, and I just love their musicality - simple, straightforward, and frequently heartbreaking.

I've also been spending a lot of time with Guster's album Easy Wonderful. It's not brand-new (actually, it's just about exactly a year old) but I only picked it up about two months ago because I am terminally Out Of The Loop. Guster has evolved from a band where tight harmonies soared over really strong drumming - at the time, their drummer used a lot of hand percussion, bongos, etc. He's since switched over to a traditional drum kit, and Guster's sound has changed a bit over the years, but it's changed into something I like just as much (and in some cases, like more). They're one of those rare bands that seems to be growing, not just trying to replicate the sound of their first big single, but actually being thoughtful and playful and keeping their core while still trying new things. I'm a long-time fan (they're great in concert) and I really have been enjoying this particular album.

old Guster - Fa Fa )

more recent Guster - Satellite )

Architects and Engineers, off the most recent album )

And finally, an old friend that just keeps delivering. I've loved Paul Simon since my dad presented me with what was probably my very second CD, a copy of "Negotiations and Love Songs." His most recent album is called "So Beautiful or So What," and I just...it's so beautiful. It pokes at a lot of issues about spirituality and religion and life without being heavy-handed in the least. At times, it's delicate, at times it's rollicking and full of a rock and roll bounce.

Here's a live version of The Afterlife )

The title song, So Beautiful or So What> <iframe width= )
sienamystic: (Italy signpost)
Frequently when I travel, I end up wondering what paths my life might have taken me down if these new places had been formative parts of my life. It was especially hard not to do that while wandering around the campus of Stanford U. It's big, beautiful, full of confident young girls and guys on bikes (and the quarter hasn't even started yet), sun gleaming off of buff stone buildings and peeking between the spears of palm trees lining avenues. I'd have to have been a different person to go to school there, and I'd be even more different after I came out, I'm sure.

I also wandered through nearby neighborhoods, as I am wont to do, and snapped a bunch of photos and even took a few short videos. It feels a bit like Manila to me, but I don't know how or why exactly. I mean, I know there are a ton of Filipinos in the area - my cousins are among them - so am I extrapolating? It can't be the weather, because even though it was warm today, it was hardly like Manila's overwhelming heat. It's not the houses themselves. It's probably the exuberant plant life: palms and spiky shrubs, thick gnarled trees, hedges of flowers, trees with giant blossoms or hanging with fruit, the colors of green and pink and red and orange and white.

I'm such a sucker for new places. They make me want to reinvent myself and my entire life.

trips 001
sienamystic: (LIfe)
Two days, two dogs! Not my dogs, alas, although now is now the time for us to own one.

Yesterday, a visiting gallery owner and art dealer brought her Sheltie with her, a very self-possessed puppy named Chloe who was interested in everything:

Chloe the Sheltie

And today I met one of the two therapy dogs that Bemo's therapist owns. Holly the Bernese Mountain Dog was not there, but the newest, in-training Walter the St. Bernard was:

Walter the St. Bernard

Walter was a formerly emaciated rescue dog who is very happy to lie on your feet and let you scratch his belly. It was a pleasure to meet him.
sienamystic: (the game's afoot)
Sunday was the dojo picnic, and it was a day of firsts that started with a drive out, out, out into the country. The last five miles or so was on a dirt road (albeit a very good one...any dirt road you can do forty on comfortably is a good dirt road) and we were definitely back into the countryside. Sensei and his wife own seventy-plus acres out there, and have a small but clever house and a couple of ponds, plus acres that they turn over to hay and which the neighbor harvests in order to feed his cows. There were wildflowers everywhere, and bullfrogs singing in the ponds. There were ATVs to ride, fishing, trail-walking, and also trap-shooting (or is it skeet shooting? I'm not sure of the difference. Anyway, we whanged a slingshot into the ground that launched clay pigeons, and then we shot at them.)

I brought two giant plates heaped with lumpia, and stood on the back deck in the scorching heat and humidity standing over a pot of oil (note to self: next time, offer to bring a salad) and they were very well received. The dojo crew is a sprawling, congenial group, very cheery, and a great deal of fun was had looking through the thousand-plus photos of a two-week trip to Japan that two of the members had just taken. They put them up on a tv and it was a lot of MST3K-ing, especially since one of the members had taken a million photos of Japanese toilets and cars. The icon for, "this button delivers a spray of water to your bum" was very amusing.

And then I went out and used a firearm for the first time - a twelve gauge Remington shotgun, which I learned to handle safely, load, and fire. It was a little nerve-wracking at first, but I managed to blow a healthy number of clay pigeons into smithereens, and that was very satisfying. My shoulder is still sore, but I can live with that. Next time, though - ear protection.

And then I learned how to manage an ATV, and took off exploring the property, once by myself and once with Bemo clinging on behind me. It was getting to be twilight, and we rumbled through low-lying stands of pine trees with fireflies winking everywhere, and around the back lake, and then back up to the house. I'd always rolled my eyes at ATVs because ads for them seem to make them seem like a toy for jerks, but they really are fun to ride.

The evening was capped off with fireworks, and then we drove home (slowly, because of deer), showered, and tumbled into bed. After checking ourselves for ticks, that is.
sienamystic: (Festina Lente)
Got an email from the personal trainer company acknowledging that I will no longer be auto-renewing from month to month - April should be my last bill from them. "Hold onto that email just in case," advised Bemo, and so I shall, just in case. Have also just signed up for the rec center as planned, and will use the pool facilities there (and maybe other stuff - to be determined.)

Am currently feeling bored and frustrated with my workouts, like I'm simultaneously trying too hard and not trying hard enough and it's not interesting anyway. I'd like more stuff like aikido, where I work and get sweaty and move around without it being exercise. I'm contemplating karate or kickboxing or some of the classes at the rec center, but it's all more money. What I really need to do is get my diet back under control. I've gained a few pounds instead of losing them - it's not crazy yet, but I'm concerned and my food intake is really what it's all about. The problem is that I get frustrated and end up going back to that old comforter, food. I've been doing a lot of staring in the mirror thinking how bland and potato-like I look. I've been invisible for most of my life, but suddenly it hurts a little bit and I'm trying to push against it, probably to no avail.

In other, less navel-gazing news, I spotted a flyer hanging on my co-op's giant community billboard. Apparently my town has a convention - I had no idea! It's called Constellation, it's very inexpensive to attend, it's coming up in a few weeks (April 15-17) and it looks like a fun con where I could dip my toe in the water. (I'm assuming it'll be more colorful than, say, AAM, although likely with fewer fruit bats.) And [livejournal.com profile] jimhines is guest of honor, so I could perhaps say hi to him and tell him in person how much I appreciate his LJ. Has anyone else been? (I'm guessing not...I think it just launched last year?) Is anyone else out there planning on going?
sienamystic: (This is art)
Bemo comes home tomorrow. He had his first session this morning and came out of it with no memory loss but a headache and some physical soreness. He's eager to get home and I'm eager to have him back. All the rest of it can be sorted out then. I'm just happy right now.

Five

Jan. 27th, 2011 11:52 am
sienamystic: (Green Man)
1. Have contacted the local crisis center and hope to be getting Bemo into a program that will give him some stability, especially as the med changes continue to hit him so badly. He'll be calling one of his drs. for a referral to the program today. The place also has meetings for me on Wednesdays, and I plan to attend one next week.

2. The weather is gorgeous. I want to put on my bathing suit and frolic in the sculpture garden like a baby deer on speed. Tomorrow will apparently be even better.

3. I've been contemplating a tattoo for a long time now, but it wasn't really high on my priority list for a range of reasons (money, concerns about the fact that I scar easily and maybe am not a good candidate for one, where I wanted it to go, how big, what exactly I wanted...I knew I wanted a Green Man but what kind?) My friend Jess kindly agreed to design one for me. In this blog post, she shows the two designs she's worked on for me, and talks about them a bit. They're based on the one you see in my icon, from a stained glass window. I think I'm leaning strongly towards the medallion-type version. Will have to see how much money it'll cost, though, things being so tight.

4. My mom seems to have agreed to some actual planning for this whole wedding thing.

5. Have been reading a lot of books, some great, some bad, some indifferent, many through the magic of ILL. Am currently reading a bio of Dodie Smith (I Capture The Castle, 101 Dalmatians, The Town In Bloom, Dear Octopus) called Dear Dodie: The Life of Dodie Smith, which I'm enjoying very much. I sort of know the details from reading some of her more autobiographical work and her actual memoirs, but it's fun to get this view on them as well. Also read a Kage Baker novella, The Women of Nell Gwynne's, and enjoyed it very much, although it was a very quick, not very substantial work. Still, it was a lovely bonbon since I love her writing style so much. Next up in the queue, I have Miss Buncle's Book, The Decorative Floors of Venice, and Feather Crowns.

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