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Reading List 1 of 2020-21

January 25, 2021

RIP, Black American astrophysicist and aeronautical engineer George R. Carruthers (1939–2020); Jewish American film director Joan Micklin Silver (1935–2020); and British film director Michael Apted (1941–2021)

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Covers the period from 12.28.20 through 1.25.21

I/we own 22 of these items. I watched 9 items on Youtube/via streaming.

{Women}

MUSIC

  1. Alfred’s Pocket Dictionary of Music, compiled & edited by Sandy Feldstein [1995]*
  2. The Art of Percussion Playing by Garwood Whaley, et al.
  3. The First Collection of Criticism by a Living Female Rock Critic by Jessica Hopper
  4. Habits of a Successful Middle School Musician by Scott Rush
  5. Psychology of Music by Carl E. Seashore [1967 (1938)]
  6. [Film] Hired Gun, directed & co-written by Fran Strine

*Despite being an amateur in musical history, even I could have named >5 women composers, especially for a book that lists >400 men composers. WTF?!?

_American Songwriter_ back issues:

  1. Jul/Aug 1992 ~ John Denver
  2. May/Jun 2000 ~ Brad Paisley
  3. May/Jun 2015 ~ The Blues
  4. Mar/Apr 2016 ~ Lucinda Williams

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BANWCOTREB

British fantasy fiction:

  1. Charmed Life by Diana Wynne Jones [bought & first read in SLC, 1985]
  2. The Pinhoe Egg by Diana Wynne Jones

~ AO3 Fanfics ~

  • Harry Potter  // read 84 works; 2,471,981 words

Celtic & British:

  1. Ballgowns: British Glamour since 1950 by Oriole Cullen & Sonnet Stanfill, photographs by David Hughes
  2. Elizabeth Blackadder [Scottish painter, b. 1931] by Philip Long
  3. I Never Knew That About Wales by Christopher Winn
  4. Travels in an Old Tongue [Cymraeg] by Pamela Petro
  5. Welsh Quilts by Jen Jones

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Miscellaneous:

  1. Poetic Remedies for Troubled Times: from Ask Baba Yaga by Taisia Kitaiskaia
  2. [SFF] Finna by Nino Cipri

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Films & TV:

  1. Ant-Man and the Wasp, directed by Peyton Reed
  2. Burrow, written & directed by Madeline Sharafian
  3. Emma., directed by Autumn de Wilde
  4. Harry Potters 1, 2, 3
  5. Mulan, directed by Niki Caro, cinematographer Mandy Walker
  6. Tron: Legacy, directed by Joseph Kosinski
  7. The Undefeated presents Hamilton | In-Depth
  8. Nettles for Textiles by Dylan Howitt
  9. Blown Away, episodes 1-6 of season 2
  10. Bridgerton, episodes 1–5, created by Chris Van Dusen

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gusto 9 h

January 24, 2021

Look, pretending I don’t feel certain, specific things, or shaming myself for feeling them, doesn’t fix anything.

When I think of my childhood, I think of trees.

{True, but irrelevant right now.}

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When I think of my childhood…

When I think about being happy in my childhood, I’m spending time with Homer, and/or I’m enthusing about Homer.  (Also, trees.) (Lake Michigan.) (Trees again.)

I’m orienting myself to the Southwest, because that’s where he is. I’m wondering what he’s doing. I’m thinking about how awesome he is.

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That’s it.

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As a kid, if I enthused to other people about science or art or books I read or anything else, I was told to shut up and go away. But if I enthused about Homer, it was allowable. Presumably because he was a boy, and Boys Matter.

Also, probably, he was knowable and interesting to them.

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When Words of Affirmation are one of your love languages, enthusing about other people => oxytocin. The more I enthused, the better I felt.         The alternative was my more-usual misery and alienation.   

When I enthused, I felt connected to somebody.

When I enthused, I could hope that someday someone would enthuse about me. (Nope.)

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My other love languages are Quality Time, with dialect of Heartfelt Conversation; and Touch.

With most of the human people I loved, in all the time I knew them, we had ZERO Heartfelt Conversations.

Quality Time? People evaded me like I was radioactive.

Touch. {I don’t have the spoons.}

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Enthusing about was the only chance I had to get some of my own emotional needs met. To assert agency. And to be connected to somebody.

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Up until, oh, late last year, I was shaming myself for needing to enthuse about Homer. Because I shouldn’t. Because we’re not good for each other. Because I have no right. Because Reasons.

Here’s the thing.

Feelings just are. They’re not morally Good or morally Bad. They just exist.

If someone grievously hurt me enough that I cut them off, but I still miss them, and yes, okay, I still love them, so the fuck what? If thinking about them makes me happy? (And sad.)

Then I should feel those things.

I am Feeling All the Things.

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infertile pinecones

January 24, 2021

It’s January and I’m depressed. Shocker.

Capricorn January is Homer’s birthday. We’re estranged, and we have to stay that way for my safety, but I still miss him, dammit. He’s probably still brilliant and amazing, and … it’s got nothing to do with me. Also there’s no one to ask about any of it. But even if there was someone to ask, the questions they’d be willing to answer never tell me what I actually cared about.

[[see next post]]

Aquarius is an AIR month, and I have zero affinity for Air. My Chaotic Evil ex-boyfriend is a February Aquarius. Tosser.

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//Journal entry December 2015//

Watched Elaine Stritch: Shoot Me on Christmas Day. Commented to Spouse that I keep trying to talk myself out of being upset that I “haven’t been a Blazing Success at… anything”; somedays I succeed, and many days, I do not.

The more documentaries I watch, though, the clearer it is that people who succeed in creative fields… have teams of support people doing a lot of the heavy lifting. And their “message”, whatever it might be, resonates with many many people [their audience, fans, etc.].

I don’t have that. I’ve never had that. I never will have that.

So… maybe it’s time to forgive myself for being a seed that fell on rocky ground.

= = =

It’s not nearly enough to be a True Original. People have to like you enough to work at helping you succeed. [It is a shit-ton of work.] You have to offer them something they want.

I’m anti-talented at that.

I don’t know what anyone else wants. And I… don’t really care.

= = =

I want to figure out what I can achieve that I personally find satisfying.

I’ve lived my life largely on my own terms … with a great deal of help from luck and synchronicity. That’s definitely a measure of success.

I’m not dead. Yet. That’s kind of a miracle.

= = =

Spending the last 4 weeks not reading books has opened up spaces in my mind I didn’t know could exist. Movies, even if I really enjoy them, don’t, hmm, invade my mind the way books do. I always thought of reading books as a conversation — and it sort of is, but the author can’t hear what I would say back to them. Rather than conversing, I’m subjected to never-ending monologues. It’s a great deal like spending time with my family of origin, in fact: always the listener, never the listened to.

If that’s pretty much true everywhere I go, no matter who the other people are, or how I know them — and it is — then maybe I need to rethink… everything.

Maybe becoming essentially a recluse… actually makes sense. At least I enjoy my own company.

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Back to January 2021.

I’m reading a WIP fanfic, Dramione, where Hermione is polyamorous, and it’s everything I didn’t know I needed.

This morning I was trying to recall when I might’ve figured out I was polyamorous. There was a brief window circa 1988, where I wanted to date someone who was apparently polyamorous, and was prevented from doing so by someone (afaik, themself monogamous) who insisted they knew me well enough to ‘know’ that I wouldn’t be able to handle that. But after that… 1990, I was just surviving, so it had to be 1991.             I didn’t know the word ‘polyamorous’; what I knew was I was not monogamous, and rarely felt jealousy.                       More love is more love, right?

Spouse has a cousin who divorced the father of her children (whom himself was a doppelganger for one of my long-ago crushes), and then when he remarried (iirc), and had another kid?, all of them would spent Christmases together. I thought that was marvelous.           My FIL was weirded out by it.

My father had a distant cousin who died young. His widow married again, and the two of them, and their subsequent kids, were embraced by her first husband’s parents as Family.                What is weird about that? I think it’s wonderful.

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I’m lonely.

Even before the pandemic, retired and essentially a recluse, I couldn’t make new human friends. My attempts at penpals didn’t work either.

I need people to enthuse about. People who enjoy being enthused about would be ideal. (Spouse barely tolerates it.)

Being an extrovert who is Unlikable really fucking sucks.

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storytelling snares

January 20, 2021

//Journal entry from December 2018//

So many of my poems this year have been about how to be in the human-social world, as a person who has a right to be there. Not just physically present, taking up space, but being part of the story unfolding.

In two of the poems, I had some history with other people appearing in the poem. In a third, I was not directly connected with the person, nor the place.

Why am I writing this poem?

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I have nothing to write until lines or images, sometimes both, appear in my mind and insist I craft them into … something. My conscious mind does not choose.

Even so, I often feel I’m intruding, interloping, into my own poem. Trespassing.

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When submitting a book proposal, you’re supposed to explain why you’re the perfect person to write this particular type of book. That… kind of assumes that you can easily claim not just your own expertise, but your own value. Your opinions matter to people! You matter to people.

Um.

I’ve had 10 stints in therapy, over a span of 36 years, but I still struggle with this.

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Why does anyone care what I write? Why would my perspective be valuable?

I don’t know.

A few years back, I began writing a poem about someone’s hospital stay. I was often in the room with the sick person, writing about what I was seeing, hearing, observing. Reading the poem to myself as I crafted it, though, I realized I felt most myself, most comfortable, when I saw things out the car window as we drove to and from.

I don’t know how to write myself into a story that I was actually in. Because as far as the other people were concerned, I was, functionally, more a fly on the wall than a participant. I don’t belong. I have never belonged.

A snippet of overheard conversation in the hall at the hospital that made me shake with rage: someone asking the doctors and nurses who ‘their people’ were. That is, which families they belong to. As if knowing names would have anything to do with a person’s character.

If someone knew my parents’ names, or even knew my parents themselves, that would tell them nothing about who I am.

I belong to the 8 foot high flowering ironweed at the West Virginia rest stop as much as I do to people I’ve stayed with, but understand not at all.

I showed Spouse that poem, when it felt finished. It was weeks later that I realized the poem isn’t about the person in the hospital, or the visit itself — it’s about how alienated I feel as soon as we cross the state line.

Nothing I do is ever good enough, what was expected, what is wanted.

In my own poem, I’m auditioning to be cared about, by asking them all the questions, trying to understand. But if they were telling the story, I wouldn’t even appear in it.

I don’t know how to tell stories that I’m in.

I didn’t grow up hearing stories that I’m in, except… “When your dad was in law school, and you were a toddler, you’d stay up late to see him when he got home, and he was so happy to see you!”

I wish I remembered my father being happy to see me. Ever. But I don’t.

“When you were a baby, I’d take you out in the stroller, and you were bright-eyed and curious about everything around you. You were such a cute baby! People flocked around the stroller, and someone always asked me if you were the Gerber Baby! I said you were!”

I was in my 30s, maybe 40s, before I realized my mother preferred being the center of attention with strangers over spending quality time with me.

Once I could talk, once I developed a personality, my parents preferred to spend their time with other people. Anybody else.

There are no good stories about me after age 2.  There are no shared stories.

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Learning about Music through videos

January 5, 2021

Ongoing USPS delays are slowing down the arrival of the books I keep ordering, so I’m reduced to Spouse’s favorite way to learn new stuff — YouTube videos.            (These were originally listed on my Reading List, but if they were things you could read, I’d be happier.) Anyway, the list is already unwieldy, so here it is.

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Covers the period from 12.28.20 through 1.5.21

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{Women}

Video:

  1. Alphonso Johnson, Frank Ricci & Chester Thompson Trio – Crescent – Live @ Blue Note Milano
  2. Binkbeats: It’s not about looping, directed & edited by Ralf Kleinermanns
  3. Classic Albums: Phil Collins–Face Value [1981] {watched 2x}
  4. Esperanza Spalding – Endangered Species [2013, Austin City Limits]
  5. The First Ladies of Bluegrass – Girl’s Breakdown   {mandolin}
  6. Ida Nielsen – Fake the Funk/Positivity
  7. Made in Ableton Live: Novaa on warping & autotuning, …  {1st 5 mins only}
  8. Made in Ableton Live: Rachel K Collier on live looping, …
  9. Rick Beato’s John Bonham: Achieving the Bonham Drum Sound
  10. Scott’s Bass Lessons’ 10 of the Greatest Bass Women
  11. Scott’s Bass Lessons’ 10 greatest funk bass lines (that you’ve probably never heard)

Pachelbel’s Canon in D

  1. Brooklynduo ~ piano & cello
  2. Canacana ~ piano
  3. Duo Rosanna ~ cello & guitar
  4. Nippon New Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Takashi Ueno ~ harp
  5. Sato Takahashi ~ guitar
  6. Timothy Seaman ~ hammered dulcimer

Rick Beato’s “What Makes This Song Great?” series:

  1. Ep. 27: Peter Gabriel’s In Your Eyes {percussion}
  2. Ep. 28: David Bowie’s Let Dance
  3. Ep. 30: Alanis Morissette’s You Oughta Know
  4. Ep. 40: Adele’s Rumour Has It
  5. Ep. 42: Simon & Garfunkel’s The Sound of Silence
  6. Ep. 48: Tears for Fears’ Head Over Heels {high bass}
  7. Ep. 54: U2’s In God’s Country //Brian Eno co-produced//
  8. Ep. 82 Elton John’s Rocket Man
  9. Ep. 91: Joni Mitchell’s ???
  10. Ep. 93: Coldplay’s The Scientist
  11. Ep. 94: Gordon Lightfoot’s If You Could Read My Mind

Produce Like a Pro’s “Songs/Artists That Changed Music” series:

  1. 10cc’s I’m Not in Love (1975)
  2. The Police’s Message in a Bottle (1979)
  3. Herbie Hancock’s Rockit (1983)
  4. Stevie Wonder

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p.s. to reclamation

January 3, 2021

Apparently it annoys some people to have someone else enthuse over how great they are. I can’t relate to that, at all … maybe because it’s historically been a phenomenon of scarcity for me, even famine/drought.

But I can enthuse all I want, here, since he doesn’t read my blog.

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Of the people I mentioned in my previous post, here are my favorites.

Spouse is #1.

I love lots of people, have many favorites (in any category named), but my THE Favorite Person is Spouse. Easily.                            He knows me better than anyone else ever has, by orders of magnitude. It’s not just a function of 28 years together — our values even overlap!

Cooped up together, functionally 24/7 for 9 months now, I still really enjoy spending time with him. He’s fun to be around.

Spouse is trustworthy, kind, brilliant, hilarious, is physically attractive to me and has beautiful eyes of forest green. He’s visually creative, quirky, musical, and an expert in things I’m fascinated by — and a good teacher. [That’s my A list.] He’s also clever, sensible, thoughtful. He writes, and reads (not either very often, alas). He can handle my intensity. He’s a hugger and cuddler. [My B list.] He’s a good listener. He talks*. [My C list.]

Marrying him was easily the best decision I ever made. (And I have made (many) other excellent decisions.)

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In late December, I actually made a list of favorite people, which turned into a chart, which then morphed into me ranking every person I had (or still have) strong enough feelings about for it to be worthwhile.

The exercise was quite satisfying overall.

(The chart includes many many more people than were in my post, but everyone in the post does appear on the chart, so…)

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Level 1: Spouse.

Level 2: [June W’k] [FIL] [Aunt NN] [Cali] [Uncle Frank B’d]

Level 3: my lost-to-me 1PR. //If I commit to candor, it’s just true. Here he is. Dammit.//

Level 4: BIL, cousin KWD, aunt KMA, cousin (& poet) LSB, uncle LW, [Vyta]**, [FJG, grandmother of my FIL]**, [Uncle Ed], [Rosemary, distant cousin & penpal], [Spouse’s aunt who died in 2019], [Fr. Anthony, distant cousin & penpal], [Paul W, friend], [Aunt Emily], cousin KG, friend KH, friend KJ, [Stan’s stepfather]**, [Irena V, distant cousin], cousin Amber (based on 1 magical day in childhood).          19 people

Level 5: niece ADG and her brother MHG. 3 adorable kids of cousin LSB.           5 people

Level 6: my youngest brother, [SRM, Spouse’s 6 mos. younger cousin], cousin KWN, uncle M, AC, aunt JG, [uncle LWM, engineer], [Aunt Martha], [Tommy Flatley]**, my brother’s 2 daughters, [uncle BDM, likely autistic]**, [Mikasa], cousin RAW, cousin JD, ex?-cousin PW, yet another cousin KW, my best boyfriend, [Aunt Eileen], [Aunt Helen], Spouse’s 1st wife.                           21 people

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I did Levels 7 – 13, but there started to be lots of space — hard-to-quantify reaches of space — between some of them. In the case of Levels 11, 12, 13, I believe I would need logarithmic graph paper to show how far away they are from earlier levels.

Level 11: [Aunt Mary], frenemy JDB, frenemy PSW, cousin-and-frenemy MFH.

Level 12: my Chaotic Evil boyfriend GD.

Level 13: [Uncle Tom], [Stan’s parents], [my father’s father], my mother.

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Total number of people on chart is > 80.

I was happy to discover I’m still fond enough of 2 ex-crushes that they appear on Level 7: fellow dorky brunette (fully male, tho, afaik) but with brown eyes, and gorgeous blonde (female) with green eyes. Sadly, her ex, who is also a former crush of mine, does not appear on the list as he spent some years as a ragemonster. Hopefully he reformed. At least one of his kids seems genuinely fond of him.

I’ve likely had a crush on > 80 people in my life. But I don’t retain strong enough feelings for them, now, for them to appear here.

Forgetting can be as essential as remembering.

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**People I knew only through the stories told of them by people who loved them and missed them.

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reclamation

January 3, 2021

My promise to Spouse to stay inside, away from trees, until 31 Jan 2021 aids my clarity of thought today. Whom would I pick to spend time with instead of trees? Not necessarily trees I’m acquainted with, or even friends with, but any trees.

I am reminded of a cousin’s wedding years ago. Iirc, parts of the ceremony were outside, under an overhang. There were clumps of trees off to my right. I wanted, so very much, to wander over there for an hour or three. The reason I didn’t was not how odd that behavior would’ve looked. It was the heat. There wouldn’t have been sufficient shade, and I likely would’ve fainted. Making me helpless amongst sharks.        Spouse buffers me well, even protects me when necessary, but… he has no personal experience with human-social situations being dangerous. He’s heard my stories, of course, but they happened years before I met him. In front of him, my mother always set herself to appear charming, affectionate.

My mother isn’t the only danger.

9 days before 9/11, a cousin on the other side of my family got married. Spouse and I were there, along with my sister, and likely her husband. At the reception, I was actually standing under conifers, enjoying the breeze and quiet, when my sister [a shark] approached me. I was wary, of course, but she set out to disarm me with friendliness, and she succeeded, mostly. I was amongst friends, after all (the trees, never her).        She said things laced with such vitriol, such hatred, I’ve never really recovered.     Months later, I cut her off. I wish I could forget her words. PTSD, though — that shit’s there for life.

I’ve been thinking about funerals. What would it take for me to attend a FOO funeral?

I almost attended one in 2018. Spouse was in Kentucky, though. The person who died was the one friendly face I could always count on. All the sharks, no one genuinely glad I’d made the trip, and no buffer/protection? I couldn’t do it.

My godfather died in 2015. We’d never been close. Hell, he wouldn’t even talk to me. About anything, no matter how innocuous. That hurt especially because he was my father’s best friend, and my father would not shut up about how great his brother was.                               I just wanted to know a bit of that greatness for myself. Be at the edges of their love story. But, no.                             My father and his brother were also a lot alike, so I hoped if I got to know my uncle, I might understand my father better, and vice versa.

My godmother is also a lot like my father, and my godfather. She’s not much like her sister, my mother. Still, though, another set of siblings whose first primary relationship (1PR, as I’m now thinking of it) remained the most important one they ever had, all their lives. Through marriage, children, grandchildren, other friendships, job losses, retirement, various griefs. That one constant, stayed.

I don’t have that.

But I did.

I haven’t gotten over losing it. I can’t. I’ve tried every which way.

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Spouse and his brother, while alike, were not each other’s 1PRs. They’re both brilliant and weird, in a family of people where some are certainly odd, but no other geniuses of intellect (possibly mechanical). Spouse said he and brother felt themselves to be changelings amongst their cousins.

Maybe Spouse didn’t/doesn’t have a 1PR. Maybe he didn’t need one. I don’t know, I’ve never understood his family. It’s not just the Kentucky/Chicago (rural-small city/world city) difference. There are other things I never figured out how to name.

I do know one of Spouse’s mother’s older sisters watched Spouse when he was a baby, because his mother worked. That aunt remained a favorite person of Spouse all her life. Up through his early 20s, he’d visit her solo, just the two of them. Then he married and moved to New York. They’re not a family of people who write letters, or even call; if you’re not physically present, … well, I don’t know, really.

But, every Memorial Day weekend, he went back to Kentucky to spend time with his mother’s siblings, this aunt included. 2018 was the last time they were all healthy enough to attend. That beloved aunt, who always had a kind word for me, died in 2019, as we were moving. So I had to stay home in Maryland. I’m grieving her still.

Spouse’s mother was a middle child of 8: 4 brothers, 3 sisters. She had 13 nieces and nephews of her own. Marriage gained her 4 brothers-in-law, 4 sisters-in-law, and another 8 nieces and nephews.

During a visit (back when I still did them), I’d asked Spouse’s father who his favorite relatives were. He had a very long list, including both parents, a grandfather, his next-younger brother, multiple cousins (including some who’d married in).    So I asked Spouse’s mother, wondering if her favorite sister would be either of the two Spouse was close to. Nope. She didn’t have a favorite sister. She liked her father, and her 2 younger brothers. Period.

I asked questions to clarify, but no, that was it.

She wasn’t a people person.

Which is … weird… now that I think about it, because my FIL and his closest brother, MIL and the brother’s wife, were a foursome for years and years and years. There are hundreds of photos of them together. When they got older, my FIL and his (only) sister and her husband made another foursome, or maybe six-some, traveling to eat at various places.

But FIL was definitely an extrovert; MIL, definitely an introvert.

Maybe that’s part of why my FIL kept trying to engage with me, those long years I was decidedly not interested.

I’ll never know. He didn’t confide in anyone who would tell me.

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I need people I love to tell me things. And, mostly, they don’t.

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I tell them.

I tell myself, too.

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Musical oddments

January 2, 2021

A couple months ago, I collated answers to a series of questions about myself and Spouse’s childhoods and adolescences, to send to our 9th grade niece whom we rarely see.

I had a year of lessons for acoustic guitar when I was in 3rd grade. My teacher was mellow and kind, and I always enjoyed going to see him at the shop in downtown Lombard. Because of the way my mother interfered, though, overall it was a painful experience.        2 years later, after our family had moved to Darien, I sang alto in the school choir … but sometimes softly snuck into the prettier 2nd soprano parts. In 6th grade, I sung 2 solos in the school’s revue.                        Fun to do, but also emotionally painful and alienating.

Spouse didn’t do anything musical until high school. He sang in a small church group choir, even though he couldn’t/can’t read music. He didn’t even know what type of voice he had!    He was close friends with a male cousin just 6 months younger (at a different school), and they were in a band together. Spouse’s best friend (also friends with the cousin) was briefly in the band with them; various guys they knew cycled in and out. Spouse played bass; his cousin, guitar. Neither of them sang.

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As happens periodically, I find myself in an uncomfortable headspace, as both Spouse and myself learn/relearn music stuff.

With me, Spouse is not competitive at all. He’s the eldest of 2 brothers. Their parents treated them equally, loved them similarly, gave them both ideal and happy childhoods.        He was the oldest cousin on one side, and in the middle on the other. He and his brother were/are brilliant, and did not much resemble any of their cousins, so there was nothing to compete over.             Spouse has never been an athlete, so he didn’t play games or sports.    (And yet, somehow, in a work context, he can be a team player. So confusing.)

I can be very competitive. Not so much because I want to win. I just like the … energy? … of a scrum, where you’re all stretching yourself to outdo what you’ve done before. I’m not aggressive, just focused, and trying to achieve =flow=.                Scrabble with just my grandmother, or my older cousin LT and my grandmother when I was small, was exhilarating. I almost never won a game, but I loved finding the sweetspot of playing my very best.    I never found that, in games, with anyone else. Scrabble with other people (including Spouse), I mostly win. Nobody else enjoys games they don’t win, so even if we don’t keep track of points, no one else wants to do it.       I spent years playing myself.

I’m from a family of athletes. All 5 of them played on a basketball team at some point(s) in their lives. In Lombard, age 9-10, I ran sprints and high jumped. My mother sometimes came to those events since she’d been a high jumper herself.                          We kids all did swim team. I was pretty good: (unlike my older cousins) I was not a powerful swimmer, but I was tenacious. I held my own in relays.              I really liked swimming, but I struggled with (1) getting up before dawn every day, and (2) how cold the water was.                     From age 6 or so, I was obsessed with soccer because Pelé! In 8th grade, there was finally a team to join (park district). I was probably terrible at it; I almost never got anywhere near the ball. It was … I still love soccer.  The only specific activity I’m likely to photograph strangers at is people playing soccer.  

Like dancing, and (I would argue) unlike basketball, you play soccer with your whole body. I’m kinesthetic: I need that.            

I’ve always danced. It’s even part of my name. It’s the most reliable way to bring me back to myself, cheer me up, smooth out my moods.                            It’s not human-social; I’m alone. It’s not a performance. I’m not showcasing skills.       I just… I have to do it.

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Before the last week or so, I would’ve said Dance was the only physical activity like that. But now… maybe Music, too?

Because … percussion. I’ve always tapped out rhythms.

I’m obsessed with Rhythm. I had assumed that was because I’m a dancer. But also because I didn’t learn Poetry by a conventional path, so I tend to have a nagging sense that I probably don’t understand it ‘properly’, therefore I’ve hyperfocused on studying it.

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I always feel like I’m *way behind* everyone else.

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My cousin who’s a music producer probably knew more about music at age 10 than I know now.

Spouse seems to have an instinctive understanding for music that I don’t have.

Because I’ve spent years learning about how my own creative process works, learning what I need so I can thrive, I recognize that it will take me years to reach a level of understanding that is adequate enough that I can improvise and innovate.

Meanwhile, I might as well be the 8 year old I was who just wanted the space to learn to love something, but instead I was always getting yelled at for “not doing it right”.

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I only seem to have high levels of skill at things nobody else cares about. So then I can’t even share the fun of it with someone who understands …  because nobody does.

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Until my new books arrive (the best way for me to learn), there’s YouTube videos (Spouse’s preferred way of learning). There’s noodling around, with no one listening to me.

There’s dance parties.

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Pandemic: weekly schedule

January 2, 2021

Even though I’d previously always avoided things like schedules, weekly or monthly goals (or, really, anything at all that suggests “self-discipline”), well, covid-19 changing the world in mid-March 2020, changed all of that.

I knew I would need to change my usual routines, drastically, to avoid falling into another (possibly years-long) depression.

I hand-drew a color-coded schedule that I posted on the wall near my bed. Each “Pandemic Period” covers 9-10 weeks (because that’s the size of the grid). With it, I’ve tracked activities and set weekly goals to better boost my mental health.     (I love analog!)

  • “Hands Out” (formerly HETF) ~          > 10 hrs., then 10-15 hours/week;
  • Postcrossing ~               send 1-3 postcards/week;
  • Long walks [>40 mins] ~         1/week;
  • “eudaimonia activities” ~         >1/week;
  • Blog post ~       3/period

It wasn’t about “meeting goals” so much as gathering data about what patterns would develop, because I could visually ‘see’ what was, and was not, effective.        (Later, I also created summary charts.)

Constantly washing my hands => I had to increase “Hands Out” time, and decrease (or, at least ration, time spent in a given week on) activities that stress my joints.

I went inactive on Postcrossing periodically; I have remained inactive since August 2020. I like to do postcards in batches, but a batch of 3 would take an hour of handwriting and typing. Plus, how many ways can you say “Stay safe!” to strangers without stressing out about them…

Before the pandemic, I never tracked the length of time I spent on a walk. I decided a “long walk” would be 40 minutes because that’s a walk over to see Hylochiel, or walking “the loop”, either of which take much longer than dropping off postcards.                Some months in, I began tracking shorter walks, too, especially if taken with Spouse (he rarely wants to walk even as long as 30 minutes).

I expected certain activities to boost my moods: dancing, painting, working on poetry, metadata, but was surprised at how much basking in the sun on the balcony helped. (In a pinch/on really hot days, ‘basking’ on the bed with the blinds open.) In August, fic activities [character development, world building; later, RPF AUs] showed up.

Most of my blog posts in 2020 were lists of the books I’ve read, but I wanted to remind myself I could write about a dream, or some other creative thing, if I wanted.

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Period 1 began 3/19/20 — Period 4 ended 11/29/20 => 36.5 weeks of data:

  • Hands Out goals of 365–547.5 hours?                             Met, with 518 hours (95% of max).
  • Postcrossing goals of 22–66 postcards mailed? [21.5 weeks]               Met, 60 sent (91%).
  • Long walks goals of 37?                            Not met. 27 LW (for 28.33 hrs total tho).
  • Short walks (no goals)                                             17 walks (14 joint), for 7.3 hrs
  • “eudaimonia” goals of 37?                       Met, 65 activities (176%).
  • Blog posts goals of 11–12?                       Met, 12: of which 7 were RLs, 3 on dreams, 2 other.                          

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Challenges:

I cut short Period 3 [8/3 – 9/20, which was 7 weeks] when I realized I’d fallen into such a funk that for 4 weeks I barely moved. I even had 1 week where I did 0 time in “Hands Out”. 

It seemed more important for the schedule to be “descriptive of the life I’m actually living” rather than shaming myself for not meeting goals, when the purpose of the goals is to balance out my moods and energy.

(On the 2 gossip blogs I regularly read, I consistently see comments from people who say the only things they’ve “accomplished” during the pandemic are watching bad TV and eating junk food. I’m doing a lot better than that.) 

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Going forward:

With people stupidly congregating (with or without masks) for winter holidays, Spouse’s anxiety about our collective risks of exposure skyrocketed. Mid-November, he decreased his grocery runs from twice a week to once a week, but he was still stressing about me (a) doing curbside pickup at the library every Saturday, and (b) taking walks. “The virus … it’s aerosols, it’s like smoke! ‘6 feet apart’ does nothing!”

Regretfully, I promised him I would stop visiting the library, and stop taking solo walks. At all. For 9 weeks, which period ends 1/31/2021. (New subtitle: DEFCON 2)                               Beginning 11/30 makes that 63 days, which is 1,512 hours, without trees. I can see them, but I can’t talk to them or touch them.                             I’ve been coping so far by imagining I’m taking a long-distance sea voyage where I’m essentially stuck in steerage for 9 weeks.

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Three times, Spouse has taken us over to a nearby office park, usually deserted, with lots of trees, and we both walked around for about 15 minutes. Masked.

A week ago, I negotiated with him about walking over to see my catalpa-friend Hylochiel, after mailing something. There were so many people walking (mostly unmasked)! And cars! I was a nervous wreck before I even got to my tree, but I made it a quick visit, and immediately returned home, so Spouse would stop worrying about me.          I was out of the apartment for about 40 minutes, but was utterly depleted for the entire remainder of the day.                I plan to stay inside for the remaining 30 days, unless accompanied by Spouse.                 I’ve made it 55% of the 9 weeks.

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Creative Year in Review ~ 2020

December 31, 2020

Theme: Iztēlojies…

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FANFIC             Archive of Our Own [AO3]

  • Jan–Nov: Read 1,124 fics, 30.6 million words; fandoms – 2 major, 3 minor, 5 crossover [Harry Potter, 94%; Good Omens, 5%; all else, 1%]
  • Jan–Oct: Beta-read/edited 2 fics, 74,000 words (estimated)
  • Research! Read 78 books ~ British ecology, geology, history, cultures ~ including Celtic; SFF; art, poetry. (46% of all the books I read in 2020.)
  • Aug–Dec: Wall map of Great Britain and Ireland //traced, but my own metadata//
  • (late) Oct–Dec: RPF AUs
  • (mid) Dec: Writing Harry Potter fanfic!

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NAMING

  • Crorx Dziob =23= ……. Celtic + Spanish
  • Minajwa ……. Anishinaabemowin
  • Banwcotreb ……. Celtic
  • gwy.bol.erg, (shortened to) gBe ……. Welsh + Greek
  • egg – “good timing in 67 dimensions”

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RIVER TIME

1/17, 2/25,         6/17, (7/27)                   Too hard to avoid people not wearing masks.

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MUSIC, Percussion

  • [July 2014: Realized Rhythm matters so much not just because I dance, and write poetry (also polyphony), but also because I’m musical*. Spoke to Spouse about bass guitars; he said I’d need a band, and… I’m not a team player. Later, I realized I was interested in percussion, but again, need a band, so I shelved everything.]
  • *(Breakthrough because of childhood trauma re: music, c. 1974-75)
  • //2011–18, I read 70 books on music (mostly memoirs & biographies, but also how-to’s on songwriting)//
  • (Spouse has been getting back into music all year: synthesizers, mixing.)
  • (Spouse has been watching YouTube videos of people looping; he’s now started learning Ableton Live software.)
  • (late) December: Spouse bought a u-bass for both of us, and a couple of small percussion instruments for me. I immediately tried all of them, and am already obsessed!
  • (Nothing unusual about waking up with lines of writing running through my mind. This morning, though, it was lines of writing, someone singing, and my fingers were tapping out some rhythm. Also, I can’t stop dancing.)

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PAINTING, Watercolor

  • 4 Jan: Color washes with new paints in sketchbook … reminded me of the Giant Squid in Harry Potter. I wondered how to paint it in situ. Within a few days, I had story ideas, began researching, for fanfic.
  • 29 Jan: Completed #100dayproject, begun April 2019.
  • Semi-plein air experiments: 22 Feb, 31 Aug
  • Plein Air: 3 in Marzo, 1 in April, 1 in May

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POETRY

  • March: Wrote poem in Anishinaabemowin, then self-translated it into English. Illustrated it (watercolor). spatial-dispersed
  • December: ‘Atlas’ is a vector? fractal? category; it’s also poetic form.          Not clear if I will ever hold in my hands a chapbook/collection that could be coded/indexed/catalogued as an atlas (which is what I originally thought the word was for).
    • Poetic-form I recognized as being an ‘atlas’ … finished in late December.
    • Poem begun in 2018, Nlmbbas … is an ‘atlas’.
  • Wrote 7 poems.
  • Worked on 7 (more) poems.

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TRAVEL

  • Family funeral: 1 week in Danville KY.
  • Recreational: None.

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ANOMALIES

133 straight months of at least 1 blog post … poof!, in November 2020.

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I didn’t celebrate my late-summer birthday this year. Still mourning my father-in-law.

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PHYSICAL HEALTH

  • “Standing & Walking” ~ (12.30.20) 1377.2 hours total. Range (raw): 0.5 to 8.6 hours per day. Daily average, 4.16 hours.  
  • B: 12 (37), 11.08. // P: 5 (4)

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HUMAN-SOCIAL: See 2 Jan 2021 post on Pandemic scheduling

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PLANT COMPANIONS

  • New houseplant: Imi in January.
  • Windowboxes: Calibrachoa; Oxalis and 2 unknowns. (self-seeded?)
  • Slyvori still doing well. (Coming up on 4 years together.)
  • Ziggl still doing well. (1 year in November.) Lots of flower buds right now!
  • I was distressed in October when the tulip poplar overlooking Spouse’s office was cut down, for no apparent reason.

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EPISTOLARY

  • I sent 8 letters, and received 1 letter.

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READING

  • Read 168 books all the way through. 
  • (2012–19, I read a range of books, 207–386, averaging 305 annually.)         
  • (I had trouble concentrating; the library was closed for months; I stopped using the library in Nov, so I’ve been needing to buy whatever I read. Delayed mail means less reading.)
  • 3 spans of not-reading: 1 week, early March; 2 weeks, April–May; 2 weeks, July.

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