Archive for the 'uncategorized' Category

the mister, a love story

Last month marked twenty years since I hooked up with himself and I meant to write about it, but the longer I am with him the harder it gets to write about us. Honestly, it feels like tempting fate; like every smug newspaper columnist and relationship coach in America who gives insufferable lectures on How To Keep The Spark Alive and you loathe them so much you just assume that their significant other is planning to elope with their dance instructor and you hope the two of them will be happy.

This morning, flying home from Seattle and listening to Panic! at the Disco’s “Casual Affair” approximately one billion times while reading a particularly devastating chapter of the epic Steve/Bucky love story, I realized one reason why it feels so risky to write about it: it was staggeringly dumb luck on my part. Obviously I was cute as a button at 25 but I was also, in Grant’s memorable phrase, an emotional basket case. And he was being diplomatic as hell when he said it.

Stupid, infinitely improbable dumb luck. Really. What were the chances that anyone would want to take me on, all of me, me and my intensity and my endless garbage-pile of trauma? What were the chances that a person would not only be able to cope with all of that, would sign up for my total lack of self-knowledge or emotional intelligence, but would be able follow me as I ran, as I zig-zagged across the Anglosphere, as I fucked up and bottomed out and rebuilt everything every few years? Would sit with me in the middle of the giant messes I made and coax me to laugh?

I know everyone thinks their boo is the one in a zillion but I also know, I know in my bones, how broken I was and how hard I made things for myself and everyone around me. And to wake up here in middle age with him, with the universe of shared jokes and shorthand so enormous that it makes Claire furious that she will never learn all the stories, never know all the references, with the still-unbelievable truth that however difficult it has been, however difficult I have been and still am, he still wants me, he still misses me when I’m away… eh. Words fail me. I hope he and his tennis coach will be very happy together.

alice and thimble shelved themselves in alphabetical order

the tragedy of the macarons

Opinions are divided over who left the five remaining Laduree macarons in our beautiful little apartment on Rue de Seine. Certain people have held the contentious position that I am principally at fault; I, contrariwise, maintain that the responsibility for commonly held macarons is itself collective, and that everyone ought to have done their part.

However the disaster came about, the fact remains that the macarons were left behind, and the Pole Sud macarons purchased in Lezignan, while undeniably delicious, were considered no substitute for the real thing.

We caught the TGV back to Paris yesterday and there was some talk of ducking out for replacement macarons, until we established that there were Laduree outposts at CDG itself. As we checked in this morning, our gate agent told us there was one such outpost just inside security. Jeremy dashed all our spirits when he reported that Google said it was closed.

Fie upon you, Google! It wasn’t, and almost our last act in Paris was to replace the Earl Grey, menthe, vanille, abricot and yuzu ginger macarons that had been so tragically lost. Since this story has such a happy ending, technically it is now the comedy of the macarons. Goodbye, Paris, we love you and hope to see you again soon.

horse heaven, by jane smiley

from my kindle notes

“I sounded ignorant and shallow, a twerp with no experience of life.”

– Helen Garner, Joe Cinque’s Consolation

“Overcome with dread,
they wept and affirmed their love for each other, witlessly,
over and over again.”

– Donald Hall, Without: Poems

“I consider my father and mother the best part of myself, sir.”

– George Eliot, Middlemarch

home from oz farm

We saw: mule deer, a jackrabbit, red-shouldered blackbirds, a scrub jay, turkey vultures, a kestrel, harbor seals, great blue herons, snakes, frogs, toads.

I read: Motherland, We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves, I Lost My Love in Baghdad, Telegraph Avenue.

showing jackson

We neither won nor placed. But Jackson was delighted to be at the show with the fancy horses, and we didn’t disgrace ourselves or the barn, at all. (Two clear rounds, one with one rail down and one elimination.)

For the first time I understand how horse showing can fit into horsemanship, into the kind of rider I am trying to be. The round is a snapshot of where the two of you are at that moment in time, what you can do, what you struggle with. It yields information you can take home and work on.

If the horse is the hardware and the rider the software, the show is the test.

she cracks me up

Salome and Tym

Took home the high points ribbon :)

the standards you walk past are the standards you accept

I like to think that my grandfather was this kind of soldier.

As Jeremy points out, it’s a good basis for a more general code of conduct. Have some moral courage.

pretty much the best picture i will ever take

Untitled

meanwhile al is explaining to ross that we are made of stars

Today the sword of Not Trying To Fix Everything brought a wheelbarrow full of horse manure up from the back paddock, put it all around Mum’s roses, planted pansies between the roses, washed down the back deck and then oiled it with tung and linseed oil. So, you know. That happened.

look at this handsome devil

Me and my da.

8811939203_ebf14025af

forgot the best part

…which is what we did on Labor Day afternoon. We all schlepped down to Noisebridge, where the girls did a circuit hacking class with Mitch Altman. Liz and Milo were there and Jamey and Rowan came too, and then Danny showed up. Danny and I curled up in the library writing. Every now and then Claire or Jules or Jeremy would come and give me a hug.

Claire made an LED lamp that changes colour. The frequency increases if you put your hand near it – it has an infrared sensor. Julia made a name tag with her name spelled out in LEDs. She soldered it all herself.

I love Noisebridge for being so close to us and so full of light, and for having a library, and for running this class deliberately to be at a family-friendly time, and for being a place where all my friends hang out, and for having as its motto “Be excellent to each other.”

i hunted down the hunt

IMG_20111125_113607.jpg by yatima
IMG_20111125_113607.jpg, a photo by yatima on Flickr.

Now the hunter has become the hunted!

the autobiography of bertrand russell

So far ahead of his time. On institutional corruption:

While I was an undergraduate, I had regarded all these men merely as figures of fun, but when I became a Fellow and attended college meetings, I began to find that they were serious forces of evil. When the Junior Dean, a clergyman who raped his little daughter and became paralysed with syphilis, had to be got rid of in consequence, the Master went out of his way to state at College Meeting that those of us who did not attend chapel regularly had no idea how excellent this worthy’s sermons had been.

I hear Penn State is good at some kind of sportsball. And Australian journalists are currently apologizing for yet another abuser because he wrote with great sensitivity about cricket. ALL RIGHT THEN. Here is Russell on Keynes:

…it seems to be to be owing to him that Britain has not suffered from large-scale unemployment in recent years. I would go further and say that if his theories had been adopted by financial authorities throughout the world the great depression would not have occurred. There are still many people in America who regard depressions as acts of God. I think Keynes proved that the responsibility for those occurrences does not rest with Providence.

I tweeted parts of that second quote through my work account, and an apparently-Randroid work contact pointed out that many books disagree, notably Friedman and Schwartz in their A Monetary History of the United States. Esprit d’escalier: I should have replied that I regard the current recession as an act of those who regard Friedman as God.

In the same tweet I called Russell Edwardian Cambridge’s Skud. Skud raised a virtual eyebrow, but I stand by it: I meant the lucid prose style and the ability to, for example, shed light on a bitter political struggle by examining a version control system.

bebe the circus queen the cat

Basement cat by yatima
Basement cat, a photo by yatima on Flickr.

life on mars

My last trip to Vegas was miserable, because my narrative about it was “Introvert in Introvert Hell,” which, while true, was not useful. This time I have decided to try “Introvert Who Is Capable Of Perkiness In A Higher Cause, Or For Work,” and in pursuit of this I am determinedly pretending that Vegas is a poorly-terraformed Mars (as Jeremy points out, they did it in the fifties, with nukes; these days they wouldn’t be allowed.)

The Martians (Vegans?) have been making me laugh. I had a particularly good cab driver:

“In town for a conference?”

“Yep.”

“IT?”

“Yep. I have the look, do I?”

“Yep.”

I’m sure he meant that I look exactly like he imagines Lisbeth Salander: see attached.

Lisbeth by yatima
Lisbeth, a photo by yatima on Flickr.

The woman who checked me in was also a hoot:

“What brings you to Las Vegas?”

“Work.”

“Oh! No pleasure at all?”

“Not really. I live in San Francisco.”

“Oh! I see!”

Big smiles all round. She was very sweet, and my life support pod is modern and comfortable and immaculate and surprisingly easy on the eye. I hung all my Calvin Klein dresses and power suits on coathangers, and I am hardened for two days of meetings. Yes! I can totally do this! Only 58 hours till I get back to San Francisco!

what is the awesomest thing you ever saw?

DSC_7453 by Goop on the lens
DSC_7453, a photo by Goop on the lens on Flickr.

Sorry. I win.

a necessarily incomplete list of things that enthrall me right now

The Manhattan Project
Area 51
Lockheed’s Skunk Works
The SR-71 Blackbird stealth bomber
Aurignacian cave painting
French archaeology
The urbanization of China
John Maynard Keynes
Cambridge Spies
The history of thalidomide
Delia Derbyshire
The plays of Alan Bennett
The plays of Michael Frayn
Ecotopias
Tony Judt’s Postwar
#riotwombles

I guess the linking theme is the long 20th Century. The cave paintings are older, obviously, but they were properly *noticed* at the end of the 19thC and have been fetishized ever since.

More specifically I seem to be picking at something about the way our tools transform and deform us. The limits of our imagination and the unintended consequences of ideology. Also: hope.

in other news

I have been having epic rides on Omni and thinky rides on Archie and funny, challenging rides on Oliver, who is new and a bit of a clown and perfect for me. Oliver is a dapple grey with huge dark circles on his shoulders and haunches and mysterious white spiderwebs on his forearms and hocks. Archie likes hugs. Omni is my sweetie. All these horses. I walk around the stables cleaning tack and rolling up polo wraps in a sort of daze of happiness, like a kid in a candy shop.