July 26, 2009
I am having one of those summers. I am just so fickle, I can't decide what to do with myself.
I'm on page 552 on Infinite Jest. I can't tell you how much I am loving this book. The problem with it is that it makes time disappear. Entire hours evaporate. It's amazing.
I am completely obsessed with two things right now. Well, three, but we've already talked about IJ.
I've been listening compulsively to CBC's Radio 3, indie music from Canada that's online and on Sirius. It totally is rocking my world, and it's sent me to the record store twice in the last 5 days. Of course, I haven't just bought Canadian artists, but that's been a focus: Metric, A. C. Newman, Apostle of Hustle, Immaculate Machine, and a Crash Test Dummies greatest hits which doesn't include God Shuffled his Feet, which had sent me running to the record store in the first place. Oh well. More Crash Test Dummies in my future, obviously.
I love that I can listen to radio 3 online, I love that I can add songs to my own playlist, but the Flash interface that makes it so hipster also means you can't link to something. And I always forget that if I want to look at an artist's profile, I have to look under New Music Canada. So part of me has thought I need to do a canadian bands I like site with OCD links to all and every bit of press, etc. (But VJ, that already exists... they call it Wikipedia)
I'm also obsessed with naturescaping my backyard. The big focus there is removing invasive species, like the Travelers Joy Clematis that is fighting with the Tibetan Blackberry for control of the non-wooded part of the lot, and planting native species.
For those of you who haven't been by lately, my backyard is about 2/3 wooded and 1/3 sunny. I have 7 trees in the backyard. I loves my trees.
This started innocently enough: I read about someone who had pursued Audubon certification for having a backyard wildlife habitat, and then I found myself spending more time than is healthy reading about it online and in books. I'm sold.
In this last year, I've had more birds and more butterflies than ever before. And I don't feed the birds, either. It's not like I've gone out of my way to plant, well, much of anything, but suddenly this year, I've seen hummingbirds in both the front and back yards (first for either).
So today, while I was avoiding doing chores, I decided to go to the neighborhood plant store and see if they had any books on naturescaping. They did have a book that I've decided is essential, but it's also $50, which felt like a big commitment for what might end up being another of my infatuations. So I decided to wander around the nursery.
And that's when I saw them -- two flying mice. I refocused my eyes, and realized that they were fluffy little hummingbirds, with their blurs for wings, drinking from a somewhat homely looking native fuschia. They didn't seem to mind at all that two humans were gawking at them, just a few feet away. The light was defused so that they looks like little fuzzy brown birds -- but it was clear they were hummingbirds.
So. I'm smitten. Ruined.
I'm also sorta planning out a vacation to go up to Vancouver Island and see my pal Chrissie. She's moved up to the most beautiful place in the world, and so I have to visit. And spend a lot of time on boats. It sounds so good...
Also on the obsession list is making plans to visit the various ferries in the area (who knew there were ferry near Portland, not me). And this morning, someone in my scooter club had the brilliant idea of inviting all us to breakfast at the Deck. It was supposed to get to 100 degrees today, so the idea of scootering over to the Columbia river, and sitting on the deck of a houseboat-restaurant at 9am sounded like the best thing possible. And it was. It was almost chilly, and gorgeous.
That's not to say that everything is sunny -- I'm still not out of the woods, emotionally, and I am still no closer to being happy that I'm single, but the obsessions seem positive at the very least.
July 5, 2009I'm participating in Infinite Summer.
Join endurance bibliophiles from around the world in reading Infinite Jest over the summer of 2009, June 21st to September 22nd. A thousand pages ÷ 92 days = 75 pages a week. No sweat.
I'm a big DFW non-fiction fan and have been for a long time, but I hadn't read his fiction.
It's not just because that Infinite Jest is huge, being the DFW novel, and at 1079 pages a big commitment (though he has several written several, less prominent pieces of fiction).
I tend to not read a whole lot of fiction in general, and I want fiction to have the same sorts of affect that I get from nonfiction: I want to learn something from it.
It goes without saying that I am behind, but not as badly as I might have thought. I need to be at p. 168 tomorrow -- I'm currently at p. 124. (This means I'm at 12.6%, which is definitely behind) This long weekend has been good to hole up and read, and also to look at the various other David Foster Wallace reading aids and videos, and IS blogs, etc., and try to make connections.
Last night, I watched Another Random Bit: the perspective of David Foster Wallace, which features parts from his Harpers pieces, A Trip to the Fair, and A supposeably fun thing, which were republished in A supposedly fun thing I'll never do again : essays and arguments. I've loved both the essays, and read them repeatedly, and yet there is something so poetic in hearing his read them before an audience.
But reading Infinite Jest is hard. It's huge, it's vast, and especially at the beginning, it has too many characters, too many stories. It's so complex-- Infinite Jest is one of those things, I fear, that required repeated readings.
Given that I haven't read a physical book in awhile, this has been both daunting, and enjoyable. I've started charting things out, since they aren't presented in a linear sense; the subsidized years, the characters, the connections.
And I did feel like I was wandering in the wilderness until I came to footnote 24, a 9 page filmography of James Incandenza. And then, I started seeing the connections, and feeling like this might make a very interesting map.
I'm reading a library copy but I'm not guessing that I'll be able to keep it so I can finish it, so I have a copy on order with my favorite local bookstore... which I hope will get it soon, because I'm beginning to panic... just a little.
There is also just way too much here that reveals (in retrospect) the pain that DFW knew. The chapter on Kate Gompert, a suicide in a mental ward, is really painful. I've been there (the emotional part, not the physically locked up part), and knowing that DFW was too... I mean, of course he was there. Which doesn't lessen the sting of his being gone.
In another universe, I'm loving Lynda Barry's later works. What It Is is a revelation, the power of reading, of drawing, and the stories that we tell ourselves in doing these things. She writes the Editor's foreword for Best American Comics, 2008 exploring these topics as well.
A couple resources for other Infinite Summerarians:
- A supposably fun blog
- Infinite Zombies
- Human Complex, an addict's (and tennis fan's) guide to IJ
- Livejournal IS group
- IS Progress tracker
January 22, 2009
I saw Hollie this evening and she asked why I wasn't writing here. Oh dear.
Part of it is having less time than I used. Part of it is just not feeling that happy, and not feeling like I have a lot to share right now.
But I had a really nice evening where I got to hang out with some very nice people, and it reminded me that maybe, at some point, my life will get back to being more warm and less hassle.
I've turned the corner. I'm no longer crying all the time, and while I'm sad a lot, really most of the time, I think it's natural. Of course I'm sad -- my relationship of the last 10 years is gone. It's a big change.
But I'm finding that I can take care of myself. For the most part, I'm not lonely in the house, but I do miss having my best friend close by. I think that might be the hardest part, the separation from my best friend.
In the last few weeks, I've begun housecleaning in earnest. I've been decluttering like a fiend, and the results are getting to be quite visible. A few weeks ago, I started putting away all the stuff that my beloved had given to me, all the "us" stuff, and things that he's left behind that he may or may not ever come back for are going into boxes so I don't have to still be looking at them.
I'm trying to figure out what I want my life to look like -- and what I want my home to look like.
My focus has been very much on my home. Suddenly, I'm feeling very domestic. Today I bought a cute apron at a tienda I happened upon, and I'm in the process of knitting one for myself as well.
I've gotten to obsess about things. I finally just broke down and bought lidded trash cans for the rooms that the cat boxes are in, and I'm so very happy about it.
In the last week or so, I've been obsessed with end tables. I've thought about repurposing something else, always a favorite of mine, but I think I've found what I've wanted -- at least, I've found it and tonight I must sleep on it. Tomorrow, hopefully, I can pick them up.
Work is a mixed bag. I still love my job and still feel very lucky to have it, very lucky to be where I am, but I feel like my new boss is unhappy with me. Initially, I had worked myself into a froth about that, but now I'm feeling a little more secure about things. It's not as I'd like things to be -- I want everyone to adore me. But that's life, isn't it?
October 3, 2008
I just got back from a work lunch which left me feeling very lonely. Though that has really been the dominant feeling for the last couple weeks.
My beloved and I are no longer together. I made some ill-advised statements, hoping to generate a conversation, and he left. We talk daily, but we aren't really talking. The situation is completely and totally out of my control now. I feel abandoned, I feel sad. I feel like I may never stop crying.
From My Stroke of Insight (by Jill Bolte Taylor), I've learned a little about feelings and the brain. My feelings of grief and sadness originate in my limbic system. The limbic system is a section of the brain that we share with other mammals. It controls our ability to pay attention, our learning and memory, and fear and rage. The limbic system is like a 2 year old that never matures, it just reacts, which maybe explains why I start crying with no provocation.
The feeling of aloneness, of my skin not touching his, refers to the kinesthetic experience, touch and palpation, which involves the postcentral gyrus of the cerebral cortex. And the feeling, the intuition, that I've entirely fucked this up, is grounded in the right hemisphere of the cerebral cortex.
I really don't know anything yet about the cerebral cortex, but it's clear I need to learn.
Some things are good. I'm glad that he's no longer in the house, though I miss him so much that I think sometimes it will crush me. Even though I so want to reconcile with him, I suspect we have irreconcilable differences, which doesn't stop me from hoping that perhaps something will change.
September 4, 2008
a photo by Bandita!
This morning, I rode over 10 miles.
That's the longest I've ridden in a really long time. And admittedly, that's not contiguous. I rode a little over three and a half miles from home to the Goose Hollow MAX station, and then six and a half miles from Quatama into downtown Hillsboro.
It felt great. I'm surprised at how great it feels to be riding so much.
At Quatama, I rode south on 205th to Baseline. Here in Washington County, the bike lanes start and stop at will, with no warning, and generally in the worst possible places, like after a curve crossing a bridge.
Sometimes there are bikes lanes. Sometimes there are sidewalks. Sometimes there are shoulders. Sometimes, I just take the lane. What's a girl to do?
I cross Beaverton Creek, and then another creek.
Right after I cross 231st Ave, I must be in Hillsboro, because suddenly the next street is 60th Ave. Noble Woods Park is across the street, full of very tall evergreens and looking very sylvan.
At that point, about 3 miles into that leg, I feel like I'm almost there.
August 29, 2008
I am continuing to struggle with making some decisions and working up my courage. I am continuing to mourn changes in advance to making the changes. It's pretty much occupied me all my free time of late.
But I've been noticing that if I can get some bicycling in, I can break my moroseness, and get back to something like myself. So I'm upping the biking. It's a mental health issue. I'm okay with that.
August 13, 2008
I've been focusing more lately on what I'm eating and drinking, and the types of exercise I'm getting.
Maybe a month or two ago, I borrowed a folding bike from a friend, and I absolutely adored it. It rode great. It folded up tiny. It weighs next to nothing (or, 30#). So I took a couple of weeks to think about it, and finally went a few weeks and bought one. A folding bike of my own!
I'm loving riding it. Today I rode 2 miles into town, and then another 4.5 miles from a train stop to work. It really makes me feel good -- and it makes me sleep good, too.
And yesterday, for the first time in I don't know how long, I went to the gym. I did some upper-body strengthening that I'm still feeling. But it's a good feeling. I'm planning to go back in tomorrow.
Sometimes, I think I'm really doing well, self-esteemwise. And then.... like yesterday, or the day before, I saw a picture taken in June. It's not flattering, at all! All I could see in the photo was my belly. Now, I'm not deluded. I know I have a belly, and I'll probably have a belly the rest of my life. Even when I got down to my post-college low of 160#, I had a belly. I doubt it's the first thing anyone notices about me. But for whatever reason, that's what I see on myself.
I want to love my body. But I want you to love my body as well. Is that too much to ask?