Monday, April 30, 2012

The soundtrack to this post is The Sunset Tree again

There will be no reckoning.  There will be no lists.

Not today, not tomorrow.

I will be okay.  But not now.

Friday, April 27, 2012

I'm sorry

I'm still grumpy.  I'm still angry at the world because I have to do anything.  I actually was mad at a good friend because he 1) called me, and 2) left a voice mail.  That's it.  And I resented the hell out of that voice mail for five days before I managed to even listen to it.  I'm mad at this blog for existing, because everything in it is stupid.   I am having imaginary arguments with all of you, and I'm mad about that, too. 

I bought these shoes, and

I've enjoyed wearing my fake Chucks (with felt glued to the bottom) as dance shoes in ballroom.  I feel all hip and ironic and stuff.  I thumb my nose at the gold-shoe club.  I refuse to wear skimpy little heels.  But it's hard to dance when I feel like a parody of a dancer.  So these might be a good compromise.  I won't get better if I don't stop laughing at myself.  And I want to get better.  I had a lesson yesterday, in a real studio, with a mirror, and personal instruction, and it was amazing, I want I want I want.  So I splurged and bought new shoes.

But the big thing, really, is what I realized during the last post, which is that want to save up for a trip.  Definitely out of the country, probably out of the continent, by myself.  It might take a year, maybe two, to save.  I want to pay off my credit cards and then have enough on top of that to go comfortably, but I can do that.  I am not who I was, and I need to make new stories.

The soundtrack to this post is Head Like a Hole

I do not think that I am going to dye my hair blue again.  Because it isn't part of who I am anymore, except that 'who I am' is someone who dyed her hair blue consistently from 19 to 30 years old.  It was meaningful to me at the time.  It's different now.  And I don't know how to explain it, or why it is, but it would feel like a fun thing I was doing, a quirk, when it used to be a sacrament.  It would feel like an attempt to stop myself from changing, because change is uncomfortable and scary.  And that demeans it, somehow.  I might go red or purple, but I am retiring blue.

I have been thinking about presentation, and identity, and age.  I am wearing a bright fuchsia satin-brocade skirt and a day-glo lime green shirt and glittery pink Chucks.  And I feel, a little, as if I have become ridiculous, because at 32 years old I still dress like I did when I was acting out in high school.  As if I am trying too hard.  As if I ought to act my age.  And at the same time, I feel, a little, as if I am becoming boring, suburban, someone whose stories are always about what she used to do, how crazy she was.  I am so sober these days. 

And I know that the answer is, stop worrying about what other people think.  About should instead of want.  I love my fuchsia skirt.  And I love my life.  And I can make stories in the present.  But knowing doesn't stop the worry.  Change is hard and scary.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Week 17, part 2, and a list of things I've never done

Weight this morning, 189 pounds. 

Mowed a lawn.
Cooked a turkey.
Been to Canada.

No, really, I'm blogging like a tweeter these days.

More than 40 posts for the month of April, and I still have four more days to go.

Things accomplished:

3 months of mail dealt with

3 loads of laundry cleaned

lab inventory database now functional, with sort-able item categories

skirt bought a year ago, on the hope of someday fitting, which is normally not a good idea, but it was a garage sale skirt for, like, $3, so I figured that at the very least I could use the fabric for something and it would still be a good deal, well, I zipped it up today

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

You should know that I am a database genius.

Also, when I use the title instead of the body for my content, it sort of looks like twitter.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

I was going to scrap this whole post, but decided to leave it up as evidence instead.

Evidence of what, I'm not sure.


A friend of a friend posted a writing exercise: make a list of ten things you wish you'd written (as opposed to things you've loved to read).  What does it say about you as a writer?  I thought I'd play along. 

1. Self Help, Lorrie Moore (short stories)
2. Anagrams, Lorrie Moore (novel)
3. The Sunset Tree, The Mountain Goats (album)
4. Ariel, Sylvia Plath (poetry)
5. Mr. Punch, Neil Gaiman & Dave McKean (graphic novel)
6. Read This and Tell Me What it Says, A Manette Ansay (short stories)
7. God of Small Things, Arundhati Roy (novel)
8. Bastard out of Carolina, Dorothy Allison (novel)
9. The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock, T. S. Elliot (poem)
10. Harun and the Sea of Stories, Salman Rushdie (novel)

The original prompt required at least three movies, but I don't think I've ever thought "I wish I'd written that" in regards to a movie.  A few of the things on this list are stories I can't imagine myself writing, and don't really want to try, but there is something in the writing itself that I wish were mine.

Really, what I want to write is, not Anagrams, but the book the narrator would write:

"Maybe I'd call it Split Infinitives and load it up with a lot of divorces. Then at the end I'd have it be like To the Lighthouse, where all human life is suddenly lifted up out of the book and vanished, only an old house at the end, with English weeds tapping at the glass."

Eleanor nods and smiles. "That's depressing."

"Yeah, I guess if it was too depressing I'd add a knock-knock joke."


Also, I emailed a different friend of a friend, in a fan-letter-from-nowhere kind of way, hoping to get a conversation or something.  But, no reply.


Definitely cutting back on the weird this time around.  Also, re-using things.  Which would be interesting if they talk as much as we do. :)

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Because it is beautiful

"Maybe because so few of us would be able to give up something so fundamental for something so abstract, we protect ourselves from the nobility of a priest's vows by jeering at him when he can't live up to them, always and forever."  She shivered and slumped suddenly.  "But, Jimmy!  What unnatural words.  Always and forever!  Those aren't human words, Jim.  Not even stones are always and forever."

Mary Dora Russell, The Sparrow

Perfectly sensible

So I was thinking about how I wanted to write a story with resonance.  I didn't just want an exercise in being entertaining, I wanted to make something that means something.  And so I immediately went to nonfiction, even though I know perfectly well that one can write meaningful fiction.  But once I make this about wanting to say something, everything that I want to say is personal.  And I could fictionalize myself, I could make Allison almost, but not quite, me.  But, just as I refused to rename Sheila, I refuse to rename myself.  Allison is Allison, and I am me, and I am writing a story about the two of us.

And I think this story is about alternate selves and alternate histories, so there's me, there's other-me, and there's this girl I'm writing about, who is a little like me, too.  Except she talks to toasters.  Makes perfect sense, right?


Allison is fiction.  This, or something like this, comes next.

2. Nonfiction

I got engaged to be married on a beach in November. I was nineteen years old, and had been for exactly eight weeks.

He had pale skin, dark hair, and a soft face that was prone to pouting.

I was a smart girl, and knew it was an abusive relationship. But I was also a nineteen year old girl in love, and knew that everything was perfect. I knew both of these things at once, the two truths overlapped, like double vision. I said yes, and I also said nothing. But the girl who said “yes” said it out loud, and he never saw the other girl.  She was my secret.

Dear The Mountain Goats

I have another paragraph or two, very rough still, where the toaster proposes marriage, and it's funny, or at least I think that someone will think it's funny, and it doesn't mean anything.

I need to make something that means something. Somehow this toaster thing has to be real, heartfelt, it has to hurt because there isn't any point in anything else.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012



Ani DiFranco, Out of Habit

(Lyrics NSFW)

Rant No. 105, Message No. 116

Q: In the line "wherefore art thou Romeo," what does "wherefore" mean?
A. Why

This is not an intrepetive question. There is an actual right and wrong answer. The archaic word, "wherefore" became, not "where" but "for [what reason]."

Juliet has just been hit on by the hottest guy she's ever seen, and then she learns his name, and with it, what family he belongs to. Having learned his name, she realizes that he's totally off limits. Which totally sucks. So she goes out alone and says

O Romeo, Romeo! wherefore art thou Romeo?
Deny thy father and refuse thy name;
Or, if thou wilt not, be but sworn my love,
And I'll no longer be a Capulet.

She's saying that it's his name that's in the way, and he should give it up, or if he won't, she'll give up hers to be with him.

Q. If "Some men are doctors," and "Some doctors are tall," does it follow that "Some men are tall?"
A. No

Realistically, given the preceding information, it is likely that some men are tall. But that is not the question. The question says "If A is true and B is true, does that mean that C is true?" And in this case, it is only likely that some men are tall. It is not proven by the given information. If "All men are doctors" and "Some men are tall," then it follows that "some doctors are tall." But the question as stated leaves room for the possibility that the only tall doctors are women.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Monday, April 16, 2012

Two new messages in 20 minutes


 I'm obviously doing something right.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

HSF notes

I danced for 5 hours on Friday, 7 hours on Saturday, and, once I had some coffee today and stopped hating the world for existing, I'm terribly disappointed that I'm not dancing RIGHT NOW.  So many good dances!  And by 3am on Sunday morning, not only was I still up and moving, I was still following, and improvising, and styling.

I wore my "You're Awesome" shirt, which meant that a dozen people told me I was awesome, and I told them that they were awesome—everyone wins.  I wore my fringed skirt, so another dozen people complemented me on that. 

The eye candy was even more amazing than usual.  The kind that puts tears in your eyes and your heart in your throat and your... well... other things happen as well.

I remember when I would slack off so much on the hair dye that no one could see any of the blue, and it bothered me that people would see me and not know that I was blue-haired.  Because being blue-haired was a character trait, not a physical description.  I still, sometimes, feel that way, and I still totally intend to put the blue back in.  Some time.  Later.  Really.  At HSF I realized that I was starting to feel that way about the tattoo on my legs that I don't have yet.  It doesn't even exist, but because it's been decided in my mind, it feels like it ought to be there, and it bothers me that people can't see that it's there.

FIRST I have to get my last piece touched up.  THEN I have to pay for my dental work.  THEN I can start getting my next tattoo.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Seriously, guys

108 views?  What's going on here?  I feel like it must be a trick or something, like it's some poor bot that somehow got stuck thinking that it was supposed to log on and off my blog all day. 

Silly bot, you are confusing the hell out of me.


I check my blog stats.  Of course I check my blog stats.  You know how I feel about numbers.  Also, charts.  As an added benefit, checking my blog stats lets me know when someone finds my blog by searching for "is 217 pounds fat for a woman" or "i seldom kill people," which always makes my day.  (The answer to the first question is, "probably," and the second is "me too," by the way)

80 views by noon today?

Seriously, what?

The rational conclusions I am failing to make tonight

Today I found out that two guys I don't know are dating other women.  One would think that the fact that I don't know them might make me rather indifferent to their relationship status.  Or the fact that these guys don't know me, either.  That would be rational.

I am not rational.

I would say that at the moment I'm also hitting a low point on my self-measured datability-meter, except that I'm always at a low point.  The only difference is that sometimes I care.  Like now, when the disinterest of total strangers has me feeling like no one will ever want me again, and I will be stuck buying AAA batteries in bulk and convincing myself that it's all I really want anyway.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

For the second day in a row

my head is killing me.  I'm finally getting enough sleep, but I hurt.  It's like my body is Jack Nicholson yelling, "you want SLEEP?  YOU CAN'T HANDLE SLEEP!"

Or, more likely, it's dehydration.  But I like my Jack Nicholson idea better.


I got tired of my blog design again.  There really isn't much I can stare at for that long.  We'll see how long this lasts.


I think I was fifteen years old when I realized that I had no future. I was supposed to be planning for a career, which was supposed to consist of Doing What I Love and Getting Paid for it. I looked at all of the things I loved, and none of them were likely to make me any money. Which meant that there was no job for me, and I was Doomed. It was my dad, who does have a job doing what he loves, who told me it was okay. Despite all of the advice to the contrary, some people lived happy and fulfilling lives despite not loving their job. Some people had jobs during the day, and had fun at night, and if I defined myself by the things I did outside of work, that was a fine way to be. Which meant that, at fifteen years old or so, I aspired to be a waitress when I grew up, or maybe a secretary.

So when I went to college at 17, I didn't have any plans beyond making friends, writing poetry, and drinking. Which I did. But somehow, in between the sestinas and the drinking, I acquired other ambitions. The summer before my Junior year, I got an internship at a local press. I started making plans to apply for an internship the next year at Random House. But then my best friend started making plans to backpack through Europe that summer, and that sounded like a lot more fun. I didn't apply for the internship. I bought tickets to Paris. Soon after, I stopped reading and writing, except for class assignments, and I did my best to avoid the kinds of classes that made me do them. I went back to my original plan, and after graduation, I got a job at a photo store.

I didn't go to grad school to get a job, because everyone knows you can't get a job with an art degree. I went to grad school because I wanted to spend more time making photographs. But during those three years, ambition seeped in again. I was going to be a famous artist. I was going to teach. I was going to succeed in my chosen path. And when all my letters of application and cirriculum vitaes and show applications turned up nothing, I plotted alternate routes. I would find other ways to teach, bide my time, rebuild my portfolio, and reapply. This job at the University was a perfect place to rebuild.

And yet, I am finding, like I did before, just how feeble these ambitions are. If I were biding my time and building up plans to get a teaching position, to build plans for a tenure-track position, I would be doing it right now. I'd be spending every week making work, I'd be sending my work out every month, I'd be writing syllabi and pitching it to the school, and if they wouldn't let me teach, I'd go to the community colleges and community art centers. I'm not doing any of this. I don't want to be doing any of this. I am realizing that even if I did those things, if I made myself do the work, I would be gaining the opportunity to keep doing that work. I would be gaining a committee looking over my shoulder to count the lines on my CV, and a stack of theory to read and retain, and a job that doesn't end at the door, but permeates my life, for the rest of my life. I am realizing, finally, that I don't want that. I never have.

When given the choice, I always choose the path with the most knitting and dancing and Xbox playing and napping on the grass in my backyard. Those are the things that matter to me, that I will make sacrifices to keep. My ambition is a life filled with those things.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Week 15, part 1: Optimism

Week 15, weight, 198 pounds. Gain this week, 6 pounds. Total loss, 19 pounds.

I have decided that this will be a good week.  I have decided that deciding will make it so.  I am so far proving myself right by waking up feeling reasonably wakeful, optimistic, and willing to face the scale and even write it down and tell you with only a small amount of shame or regret.  I am very proud of this fact, perhaps more proud than I am when I actually lose weight. 

Obviously, I did not maintain. 

Also, I may have an actual plan for the toaster story.  As much as I would like the toaster to be God, I think the toaster will instead be the Frog Prince.  He will win Allison's reluctant and disbelieving heart, and she will kiss him.

I might actually do this.  Which means I might actually be writing fiction.  I might be writing speculative fiction.  Some days I barely recognize myself anymore.

Friday, April 6, 2012

good enough

I am naked and lying on my back in an empty bathtub.  The tub and my skin are still wet.  My back is pushed nearly all the way towards the faucet to make room for my arms to curl behind my head.  My legs turn lazily upwards; my feet rest on the wall.  I have headphones on, and Ani DiFranco, circa 1992, is singing to me, wry and beautiful, sweetly angry and softly joyful.  It is blue, everywhere, blue, the twilight from a small window, my slowly cooling skin, and a voice in my ear.

I wished tonight that I could come home to hands in my hair, brushing across my temples, a cheek to hold against mine, I am so tired, but maybe this is good enough.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Hey look I made a tutorial. With illustrations.

Best garage sale find ever.  Orange corduroy pants, in my size, and they actually make me look like I have hips, which is impressive given that my hips are a little smaller than my waist, and a lot smaller than my bust.  The problem: fits at the waist, hips, legs, but 6" too long in the crotch.  I look like my pants are falling down even when they're all the way up. The answer is, of course, buy an awesome pair of $3 orange corduroy pants and turn them into an awesome orange corduroy skirt.

Most pants-to-skirt transformations I've seen look something like this:

If you do this, your friends will say, "hey cool did you make that?"  And if your friend is me, I will secretly judge you, because I do not like these skirts.

If you do it my way, people will say, "wait, really, you made that?"

(Note: this is only about the general construction.  I will not tell you to pin the right sides together or what kind of seams you should use.  I don't pin very much anyway, so you don't really want my advice on that.)

1.  Cut pants horizontally.  The top part is going to be kept as is, the bottom part is just material.  You want the top part to end in essentially a big tube, so make sure that you cut high enough over the crotch that the top lays flat.

Figure 1. Pants

Figure 2. Cut up

 2a.  Ignore the legs for now.  You should have a really, really, short miniskirt.  Possibly a very wide belt.  Decide how long you want your total skirt to be.  How much longer is that from the mini you currently have?  Write that number down, plus an extra 1" or so for seam allowance.  This is measurement A.

2b.  Measure the bottom edge of this miniskirt, add 1" or so for seam allowance, and write it down, too.  This is measurement B.

Figure 3.  measurements
3.  What you need now is a tube that is A tall and B around.  Now look at the leg pieces you have.  Cut each leg open so that it lays flat.  You can cut off any seams, they're just going to be annoying, and you won't want them in the finished skirt.  Unless you do, in which case, feel free.

Figure 4. turning legs into useful fabric
4.  Lay the fabric out flat.  Since I was working with corduroy, I wanted to work with the legs oriented up and down, so the nap of the fabric matched on top and bottom.  Start cutting rectangles that are A high.  You want to cut enough so that when sewn all together, with seam allowances, they measure B wide.
Figure 5. Cutting strips out of the legs.

5.  Sew the strips together into a tube.  Then sew the tube onto the bottom of your miniskirt.

Figure 6. Assembly.  The dotted lines on the bottom piece are where the rectangles are pieced together.

6. Wear.

Eventually I figure things out

The UI Swing Club is changing it's lesson days in the fall, and the new day conflicts with the UI Ballroom Club.  Which is stupid, I know.  But there are also tango lessons on Tuesdays and Salsa lessons (I use the term very loosely, given my experiences there) on Wednesdays, and the instructors have their own schedules to work around, and I'm the only person in both clubs so it's not like they're going to switch everything around to best fit one person.  My first response was horror.  I couldn't possibly choose.  But I realized that I have made a choice, and I'm keeping the ballroom.  Which is odd, because I keep telling the ballroom people that I'm a swing dancer, and I'm always the most excited when we do swing (or swing-like-variations) in ballroom, so why not pick the club that always does swing?  Especially when I get along so much better with the swing club?

I don't know.  It might be the dances.  It might be the way the lessons are run.  It might be because I'm a swing dancer, and don't have anything to prove.  But I know that I spend half the week looking forward to Mondays.  I go back and check the class calendar to see what we'll be dancing next week.  When I get tired of that, I spend my free time checking the local ballroom dance studio to see if they have calendars up yet for May, because the minute the club stops for the summer, I'm taking lessons.  I'm thinking I might still sign up for the last three weeks of April.  After all, I definitely have Wednesdays free now.

I love this.  I love this so much, I'm astonished that I didn't notice before. 

This one doesn't work quite as well, but it looks kinda neat anyway

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Questions to think about

 Q. What's up with the toaster?

A1.  The toaster really is talking, and anyone can hear it.  (What will the neighbors think!)
         a. The toaster has changed.  Possibly for the better.
A2.  The toaster isn't really talking, but Allison thinks it is.
        a. Allison has changed.  Probably not for the better.
A3.  The toaster really is talking, but only Allison can hear it.
        a. Allison has changed; she couldn't hear it before
        b. The toaster has changed; it wasn't talking before
Q. How do I make this something other than Aeslin Mice or The Other Talking Toaster?  Because that was totally what I had in mind before I read the story.

A. Um, I don't know.

Q. What actually happens in this story?  Is there a plot?

A. Plot?

Q. Why am I so goddamn grumpy?

A. Don't know that, either.

Rant #281: Inspirational Poster

Text from an inspirational poster:

This is your life. Do what you love, and do it often. If you don't like something, change it. If you don't like your job, quit. If you don't have enough time, stop watching TV. If you are looking for the love of your life, stop; they will be waiting for you when you start doing things you love. Stop over analyzing, life is simple. All emotions are beautiful. When you eat, appreciate every last bite. Open your mind, arms, and heart to new things and people. We are united in our differences. Ask the next person you see what their passion is, and share your inspiring dream with them. Travel often, getting lost will help you find yourself. Some opportunities only come once, seize them. Life is about the people you meet, and the things you create with them so go out and start creating. Life is short. Live your dream and share your passion.

I hate this shit.  I hate the way it blithely dismisses real problems and complexities.  I hate the way it assumes that if everyone just knew better, we'd all be happy.  I hate the way it looks down upon popular entertainment.  I hate the way it promises "the love of my life" as a reward for doing the right thing.  I hate the way it praises the differences between people but preaches The One True Way to happiness.

Life is not simple.  I like TV.  And fuck the One True Way.


Because you can't see what I'm talking about anymore.  This is the sugary design. 

This is the first draft of design #3.

(I realize that at the moment, the second image is a duplicate of the blog you're looking at.  But I think I'm going to lighten it just a little, so the title shows better (or maybe make the title part of the image), take out some of the doodles, and replace with charts and graphs.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Women and Death (and Toasters)

 New plan.  I need to write something on the topic of "women and death."  I also need to write a story about a woman with a talking toaster who claims to be God (the toaster, not the woman).  Perhaps I can somehow merge the two together and write about "women and death and toasters."

On Tuesday morning, Allison woke up, hit the snooze button, fell asleep, woke up again, went to the bathroom, brushed her teeth, washed her face, weighed herself, walked into the kitchen, said hello to the toaster, poured herself a cup of coffee, and sat down at the table. The first thing she noticed was that she was seventeen minutes late to work. The second thing she noticed was that the toaster was talking. Toasters weren't supposed to talk. 

What I'm Working With

The first time anyone asked me out, I was fourteen years old.  He was thirteen, which was kind of a big deal.  His name was Kenny, and he was a friend of my friends.  We hung out sometimes.  He asked me out via BBS (oh the sound of modems!).  At the time, I was convinced of my own absolute un-date-ability, as evidenced by the fact that I was FOURTEEN YEARS OLD and had never had a boyfriend.  I mean, geez.  I was in ninth grade already!  Plus, I was fat, zit-faced, and uncool.  So when I read Kenny's message, I didn't believe him.  It was obviously a joke.  I told him so.

He wrote back, indignant.  How could I think that he was kidding?  What did I take him for?  Of course he really wanted to be my boyfriend.  Up until then, I had never really considered the possibility.  So, I considered.  I decided that I might like to be his girlfriend.  I said yes.

It turns out, he actually was kidding.

The point of this story is twofold:

1) I still carry this around with me, and
2) I'm pretty sure that Pick Up Boy was joking.

p.s. I'm still not happy with this blog design.  It is my work, but I'm not sure I like the overall pretty and pink and nature (even if the nature is actually dead and stuffed).  It's me, but it's an aspect of me, and every other design I can think of is also an aspect, and not very open to other aspects, which is the problem.  I can't go back to exactly what I had, because I've forgotten what it was.  I could make it even more minimal and take out the photo in the background.


I don't know.

p.p.s. Upon re-reading, I think it looks like I'm trying to point at my anecdote and say hey look how bad I've had it!  But really I just meant, here is a formative event in my understanding of people and their actions.

Putting things on my blog makes them real--

--despite the fact that I still haven't written on 'women and death' or even started writing on 'women and death' and the shoebox project is on hold again, possibly in need of re-re-purposing, but hey I did finally finish the Sheila story, albeit accidentally--

and I wanted to announce my New Awesome Plan, which is a dramatic radio reading of Enter the Dragon, along with sweeping musical background and heavy breathing.  And snark.  I'm not sure yet how to arrange the synopsis, sample chapter, and chapter list, because they're really all amazing, but hard to put together.

You've heard of fire-breathing dragons, well, Theo is a desire-breathing dragon. (He also breathes fire.)

Monday, April 2, 2012

Slightly better.

sort of


Dammit.  I broke my blog. 

Will fix as soon as possible.