Wednesday What Are You Reading

Oct. 1st, 2014 06:37 pm[personal profile] kafj
kafj: headshot of KAFJ looking over right shoulder (Default)
Very briefly, as I must leave for my silverwork class in half an hour, and haven't eaten yet.


Currently Reading

Ancillary Justice (Ann Leckie) which the entire internet has been raving about, and which is every bit as good as they say.

The Lantern (Deborah Lawrenson) continues really quite dull. I don't know whether the chapters are too short, or what. The fact that I am mentally screaming 'Use your words!' at both narrators pretty much every chapter makes it very wearing. But I'm three quarters of the way through now, so I'll finish it.


Recently Finished

A Company of Swans (Eva Ibbotson), which as usual enchants me and infuriates me in pretty much equal measure.


Up Next

Both my book clubs have chosen things I have read before (The Left Hand of Darkness/The Bonfire of the Vanities) so I may or may not reread. Apart from that, I'm not sure.


Other Media

Cycling World Championships, The West Wing.

Published: Angels With Umbrellas

Sep. 30th, 2014 06:26 pm[personal profile] kafj
kafj: headshot of KAFJ looking over right shoulder (Default)
I was very happy to see my piece Angels with Umbrellas published in the latest Confraternity of Saint James Bulletin - with a rather lovely illustration, too.

(Linked back to myself, as I don't think the Bulletin is available online.)

Need To Know Basis, Revisited

Sep. 29th, 2014 08:36 pm[personal profile] kafj
kafj: headshot of KAFJ looking over right shoulder (Default)
Today I have mostly been remembering why I didn't want to tell people about the interview. I was partly right. It is about disappointment. However, it's not about people being disappointed in me, or even really about people being disappointed for me.

As is perhaps evident, I didn't get the job. Having found out who did - someone I know and like, and, more to the point, someone who will be excellent in the post and who they'd have been bonkers to appoint me over - I'm happy both with the way things have turned out and with the way I did them. Time was when I would have thought this job not for the likes of me and not even bothered putting in an application form. As it is, I did a decent application form, got shortlisted, did a decent interview, and got feedback that I can work with. And one of my friends has got a job. Honestly, I'm not disappointed. I'm happy, tired, stressed, and suffering from the onset of seasonal depression, but I'm not disappointed.

And yet people are telling me, 'You must be disappointed!' Or, 'I know you're disappointed...' And it is setting my teeth on edge.

Which means that it isn't about disappointment at all. It's about people telling me what they think I ought to be feeling, and pushing back against that, or not. Which means that I can connect this to last year, when everyone was telling me how difficult I must be finding it not living with my husband. To six years ago, trying to plan our wedding, with the industry telling me that I wanted everything to be perfect, with my family telling me that of course I wanted one thing, with his family telling me that of course I wanted another.

Still, it is particularly connected to things that I have failed at. And, revisiting it today, I find that it is compounded by having to tell people, and telling several people in quick succession. I hate being the bearer of bad news, even when it's my bad news that I don't really feel bad about. The whole thing is still reminding me of when I couldn't trust my parents to speak to each other civilly, and failing two driving tests and not getting three jobs I really wanted in the space of a year, so having to deliver five sets of bad news twice over. Having to do that ten or twenty times in the space of a day - no, I still hate it. I need an improved strategy.

Hope you find your paradise

Sep. 29th, 2014 10:30 am[personal profile] alee_grrl
alee_grrl: a still of chihuro sitting on a balcony overlooking water and watching the train ride across the water (train watching)
CW: hospice care, death, did my best to avoid too much medical detail )

Sunday Picnic in the Shire

Sep. 28th, 2014 04:18 pm[personal profile] poetree_admin posting in [community profile] poetree
poetree_admin: Paper sculpture of bulbuous tree made from strips of book pages (Default)
alee_grrl

Sunday, every Sunday, let's have a community picnic. It's probably been a long week, and it's lovely to have a few minutes to sit back and relax and enjoy some good conversation in a less formal space. Feel free to bring something for the Picnic Basket - a poem you liked this week, a thought you had or something you experienced, or even something completely unrelated to poetry whatsoever that you just feel like sharing. Just take a moment to say hello, and maybe have a bite to eat; no one is going anywhere fast, and the shade promises some relief from the everyday heat. Let’s get to know each other a bit better, here under the branches of the poet’s tree.

Teaser

Sep. 28th, 2014 05:17 pm[personal profile] el_staplador
el_staplador: (Default)
This is as much for me as it is for you, as I have got ever so slightly stuck, and would like to get this one rolling again.


The Shame of the Strofzins

Spoilery for The Blood of the Hentzaus from the beginning )

Also, hurrah for impending Yuletide! I have three things nominated and am probably going to request only those unless someone nominates Miss Climpson. Or Eiluned and Sylvia. Or Eugénie and Louise.

Working Things Out

Sep. 28th, 2014 10:13 am[personal profile] kafj
kafj: headshot of KAFJ looking over right shoulder (Default)
The Thing I was talking about in the last post was a job interview (as I am sure nobody will be surprised to hear), and it has thrown up so much stuff that I don't even know where to start. And this before I have any idea as to whether I've got the damn thing.


Not telling anybody. Not telling anybody turned out to be an absolutely terrible idea. What it meant was that nobody knew, and therefore nobody knew that I needed space to prepare. Thursday was absolutely awful: one damn thing after another, task piling on top of task, and the moment I'd unsnarled one urgent tangle, another one popped up. Eventually I burst into tears and was sent home. This, of course, blew my cover, and I think the entire organisation probably knows by now that I had an interview. I do think, though, that not telling certain people is a good plan. I just need to make sure that I do tell the people who have the power to make my life, unwittingly, more difficult than it needs to be.


Then, of course, having too much work and not being able to pass it on, or back. From here, I see that I could have said, 'actually, I have too much to do at the moment - can I ask you to take care of this?' But I am very reluctant to pass a task that I have claimed on to someone else. When I am that wound up, it seems to me that it would be as much work to explain to someone what needs to be done as to do it myself. Not true, of course. I listed the four things that absolutely had to be done that afternoon; it took about five minutes to delegate them. Then, on the way home, I had to stop at the shop. Because it was my night to cook. Even though Tony would willingly have done it for me, if I'd asked. I still have quite a lot of learning to do around this one.


There is a recurring pattern: an extreme case of 'better the devil you know'. I get to the point where I'm balanced precariously on top of the fence and suddenly decide that, actually, the grass is much greener on the side I've just gone through all that trouble to get out of. The people I work with at the moment are lovely; the work is just getting interesting again; why do I want to leave this? I have been lucky this time, I tell myself: how can I be that lucky again?

I can see exactly where it's come from: it's an attempt to prepare myself for bad news. I write myself a Plan B, and put so much thought into it that it becomes so much more convincing than the glittering, nebulous, Plan A. And there's a bit left over from the last time this happened, when I really was leaving everything I knew and setting out on a new adventure. If I were to get this job, it would only move me across the office. Then fear of change, fear of responsibility. Lots of other things, probably. I know it's a pattern now, though; I know to expect it and I know it's not real.

As I say, this happens pretty much every time I change job. My previous manager got quite accustomed to talking me down when I got into this sort of mood. I'm having to do it myself this time. I'm getting better at it. I'm learning to look for what's real in this reaction, and what isn't.


And, perhaps most worryingly, there's a whole sequence of signals passed at danger. I would have said that I was fine all the way up to Thursday afternoon, but that wouldn't have been true. I was conscious all the while that I was scheduling too many things into Thursday afternoon. I knew that staying up late on Wednesday night was a bad idea (and by 'late' I mean 10.45pm; this is the price of commuting). I seem to lack the imagination to understand at any level deeper than the intellectual why something is a bad idea and to refrain from doing it.
alee_grrl: Groot, a very tall humanoid tree, leaning down and peering curiously at the camera. (groot)
My niece (brother's daughter) is a lot like me, which I suppose isn't too surprising because my brother and I are far more alike than we ever realized. She's not really all that miniature considering she is 12 and nearly as tall as me. She loves reading, most academics, singing, and theater. She adores bizarre, funky jewelry. She also eats her food in the same manner I always did (sorting and organizing, eating certain things but not others, eating things in a particular order). It's very bemusing.

It's been really good to get to know my brother again, despite how hard the rest of the past month has been (Dad gets worse every week). Despite large efforts on my part I had internalized so much of the narratives my mother provided and haven't rooted them all out yet. So it's been wonderful to kick old narratives out of my head and realize that my brother and I are so very similar, and our skill sets and comfort zones balance each other out perfectly (I can handle admin stuff and phone calls, he can do the cleaning and medical stuff, which I can do but am far less comfortable doing). Without my mom to cause friction we are back to the close friendship and team that we once had many years ago.

It's also been really nice to meet my sister-in-law and niece and get to know them. Last time I saw my niece she was still a baby. So it has been nice to spend time with them and get to know them. It's laid a certain set of brain weasels to rest. I'm sure the little bastards will come up with new ways to be a pest, but at least this set is calm for now.

I'm doing my best to take care of myself as well as being here for my dad and brother. I've gotten out of the house a couple of times to visit old friends, and have also been pampering myself since I can't stress eat like I used to. So I have gotten a haircut, a manicure/pedicure, and a lesson in skin care and makeup application along with some new makeup. I really didn't like my current stuff (bare minerals) as the powder is messy and gets everywhere. It was really nice to finally find a skin care product for ultra sensitive skin that does not smell awful or feel awful and actually helps sooth irritation and calm the skin. The line is Dermitilogica for those who need something similar (they have body care stuff too, I went back and got some). It is pricey but well worth it. And if you are in the Spokane, WA area I cannot recommend Beautiful Grounds, which is located in the mezzanine level of Auntie's bookstore, enough. It's a beauty bar and coffee shop run by a brother and sister and their best friend. They were absolutely wonderful, super sweet, and very helpful.

Poem: Waiting on a Train

Sep. 25th, 2014 10:47 pm[personal profile] alee_grrl
alee_grrl: a still of chihuro sitting on a balcony overlooking water and watching the train ride across the water (train watching)
My father has always loved trains, and we frequently lived very near to tracks. So the sounds of trains are usually a familiar sound. This poem could have been written using a number of travel metaphors, but I knew it had to be trains. I have really been struggling with how to capture the complex emotional mess that is hospice waiting.

So I am turning to my common outlet and seeing if writing will help me clarify what I'm feeling or just make me cry (apparently I need a good cry). This is a seriously rough draft.

Waiting on a Train
poem contains imagery and metaphor dealing with death and loss )

A Thing I Am Working On

Sep. 25th, 2014 08:35 pm[personal profile] kafj
kafj: headshot of KAFJ looking over right shoulder (Default)
... and by 'working on', I mean, 'have acknowledged and am now putting consciously to the back of my mind to work on themselves while I have a bath and an early night':

I have a Thing coming up. A good Thing, an exciting Thing, a scary Thing. A Thing I have been keeping very secret.

This bothers me a little bit because I have been trying to do without secrets. I can live with this particular secret because it’s time-limited. The timer will run out, the Thing will go boom and then either there’ll be news or there won’t.

(That said, I almost always do tell people. This is the first time I’ve managed to keep the specifics of a thing to as few as two others. I’m trying to think of it as an experiment; as Things go, this one is relatively low-stakes. I will lose nothing if I don’t succeed, and will gain a lot if I do.)

All the same, I would like to be able to share the news that I already have, the news of the Thing existing in the first place, because I’m really quite pleased with it. I am reluctant to do this, however, because I do not want people to get invested in my being successful in the Thing. Say I tell twenty people. That’s twenty sets of good wishes to buoy me up as I go into the Thing.

And it’s twenty people who are disappointed – whom I’ve disappointed – if I’m not successful. Twenty sets of disappointment to drag me down again. That’s why I don’t want to tell people.
Every time – job interviews, driving tests, whatever – I’m disappointed on my own account, and then I have to tell people. I’m not surprised, now, that I bottled the vocations discernment process long before I got within sniffing distance of a Bishops’ Advisory Panel.

There are some things I know. The people that love me want the best for me. They want me to succeed in the Thing. I want that too. But I know that it might not happen.

What if there was a way for me to accept the good wishes while leaving aside the expectations and the disappointment?

What if I could distinguish between people being disappointed for me and disappointed in me?

What if I could give people gentle, subtle guidance about the sort of good wishes that are easy for me to receive and the sort that stress me out? What if I knew what those were in the first place?

I will find out.

As for the Thing itself, I am going to trust that, whatever happens, it will turn out to be what should have happened.


(No advice, please! And I think not even good wishes beyond the very generalised - I am going to have difficulty distinguishing them from expectations that I will do well, and will end up worrying about disappointing you! Thank you.)
kafj: headshot of KAFJ looking over right shoulder (Default)
Some (but not all) of the things I made this summer. I couldn't share them before either because they were birthday/confirmation presents or because I was planning to wear them with the most fantastic outfit in the world.

Pictures under the cut )

I have been making other things, too. More on that reasonably soon, I hope.

Vent in Progress

Sep. 19th, 2014 01:21 pm[personal profile] alee_grrl
alee_grrl: Bruce Willis holding coffee cup.  Text reads: Coffee fail....caffiene levels dangeriously low (coffee fail)
This post is mostly going to be a bit of whinging and venting re: my own health. I just needed to get the frustrations/feelings out. Please feel free to skip if low on spoons.CW: Lyme disease treatment, diet frustrations, internalized ableism )

In other news, my father is doing as well as one can. discussion of parental illness )

This is how it works

Sep. 17th, 2014 09:14 pm[personal profile] alee_grrl
alee_grrl: Railroad tracks through an autumn forrest (autumn rails)
Today was a mixed bag sort of day. I got out of the house for a bit and went and had lunch with a couple of the folks I used to work with. Will need to do another lunch as a half-hour isn't really much time to catch up with anyone. But it was nice to get out of the house. It was also nice to find that at least one of the bookstores in town is still open and to sit and have a nice ice tea and chat with a friend over the phone. Took the longer way home to enjoy the drive and ran a few errands. So that was all nice.

The harder part of the day was that my dad was having a really rough day, and it is very, very hard to see that and know there is little I can do to help.

The interesting thing is that for the past few days I've had Regina Spektor's "On the Radio" stuck in my head. I found this years ago (back when I was still in the Peace Corps) through this spectacular fan-video rec'd by one of my fellow volunteers. That then lead me to the fanfiction that the vid was dedicated to a wonderful work by called Freedom's Just Another Word for Nothing Left To Loose. This fic has become not only one of my favorite fics of all time, but is also far and away one of the best stories I have ever read concerning grief and PTSD.

So I guess it isn't terribly surprising that I have the song stuck in my head. The lyrics manage to be both poignant and playful. )

Wednesday What Are You Reading

Sep. 17th, 2014 09:42 pm[personal profile] kafj
kafj: headshot of KAFJ looking over right shoulder (Default)
Currently Reading

The Lantern (Deborah Lawrenson) – I read this while I eat a sandwich - twenty minutes two lunchtimes per week, hence the slow progress. I’m about half way through and the action is just starting to pick up. I think the author is concentrating so much on describing the vivid Provence landscape that little things like suspense, characterisation and plot have been lost.

Walking a Sacred Path: Rediscovering the labyrinth as a spiritual practice (Lauren Artress) – as someone for whom the labyrinth is useful but Not All That, this is interesting but pushing my personal woo envelope a bit: the phrase ‘sacred geometry’ is, I think, the sticking point. Reading it properly, there’s nothing I actively disagree with, but I keep expecting there to be.


Recently Finished
Like Water For Chocolate (Laura Esquivel) – this worked better for me than Malinche did. Esquivel’s noble and heady disregard for the normal laws of science is more appropriate in this folk tale than in the quasi-biography. I am not usually one for recipes in novels, but the ones in this book felt like an organic part of the story rather than a self-conscious gimmick. While there were parts of this that concerned and/or irritated me, I did enjoy this book.

Cell (Stephen King) – well, he’s very good at what he does, but my goodness, it’s a depressing world to wander through. This one has of course dated quite dramatically, what with the rise in smartphones; it’s comparatively rare to see someone actually talking on a mobile phone. And I did wonder what was meant to be going on in the rest of the world.

The Spirit Level (Richard Wilkinson; Kate Pickett) - very suspicious of this, on account of the inadequately labelled graph axes, and by how much I want it all to be true.


Abandoned

Cat’s Eyewitness (Rita Mae Brown and Sneaky Pie Brown) – Don’t anthropomorphise animals. They don’t like it. All the animal dialogue in this made me cringe so much I had to give up on it.


Up Next

Whatever gets picked for the next book club.The Left Hand of Darkness, which I've already read, so I will not break my heart over getting it. And probably Ancillary Justice (Ann Leckie), though it is rare for me to get round to reading or watching something the same year that the rest of the world raves about it.


Other Media

Well, this week's Doctor Who was not without faults but was amazingly powerful. I’m re-watching The Way, in chunks, and thinking about how real life makes for a terrible story. Run out of cycling (at least until the world championships) and cautiously pleased with Formula E (although approving neither of FanBoost nor of playing music over the race). And I say again: I will miss the Mythbusters build team.

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