I keep meaning to get back into writing and I don’t know what is holding me back. It’s not even that I have nothing to say. In fact, the problem may be that I have too much to say. Worse yet, it feels complicated, or at least different. If someone else expresses feelings similar to your own, that makes life easy. You can reference it. Even if it is only part of what you want to say, it cuts down on time. It also makes it less likely that you’ll be misunderstood.

So, I went to a movie tonight and got home feeling very sad and glum. It was strange because I enjoyed the movie, but it left me feeling oddly nostalgic. The movie was Gimme Danger, a documentary about The Stooges. As a film, it’s not good enough to enjoy if you don’t like the band. Last year, I went to go see the movie Amy and although I barely knew Amy Winehouse’s music beyond a handful of songs my mother enjoys, I liked the movie. Gimme Danger is not likely to engage anyone who isn’t already a Stooges or Iggy Pop fan. I’ve always really liked the band, so I enjoyed the movie. Luscious and I always used to argue about Iggy Pop. She always used to insist there was something sexist about him, although I could never get her to articulate exactly what that was. It seemed to blend into a general tirade about men dominating rock and roll, but she liked the Dolls, she like the Sex Pistols, the Clash, the Ramones, so I’m not sure what it was about Iggy Pop and the Stooges that bugged her.

The down feeling was definitely a side effect of nostalgia, although why the movie left me feeling quite so nostalgic is beyond me. The Stooges were before my time, almost, and I actually found out about them a little bit late, after The Stooges were defunct, although Iggy Pop was still very active. Still, there were some shots of New York City in the seventies. Certain types of New York scenes, especially downtown, definitely make me feel the loss of the era.

One odd thing about the movie is that it really doesn’t give you a feel of the time period well. The only sense of danger is in the title. We’re told that they were an influence on other bands that came later, but somehow the movie just doesn’t convey how different this sounded at the time.

Anyway, I paused from writing this to poke around on the internet and I listened to some songs I haven’t heard in a while. I was going to go off on some of those complicated feelings I’ve been unable to express, but I’m looking at the clock and I think I’ll have to skip it tonight. What follows is unrelated to the film I just mentioned. It was just some music I first heard back in the early to mid nineties.

pumpkin-seeds

Last week, I made myself pumpkin stuffed with corn and beans. It was so good, I went out and got myself another pumpkin. This time I stuffed it with rice because I once read a recipe like that. That was good too. I know this isn’t a cooking blog, but if you haven’t tried it, I recommend it.

What I did:

First, I cut up some bacon into little bits and cooked it to render the fat. While the bacon was cooking, I sliced some shallots and put them in with the bacon. Leaving that on the stove to turn golden brown and turning off the heat later, I cut a top in a pumpkin and scooped out the seeds and strings. I used to love doing that as a kid, but now it’s a chore. Where’s a mess loving kid when you need one? Turn on the oven to 350°F (180°C). Chop some cheese into small dice. Drain the excess fat off of the bacon. Since the pan had cooled by this point, I used that instead of dirtying a mixing bowl, but I wasn’t cooking in it. So, if the pan is still warm, use a mixing bowl. (The English teacher’s daughter in me is feeling uncomfortable about mixing tenses here. Sorry, Mom.) Mix together corn kernels, beans, the diced cheese, ground pepper, nutmeg and whatever herbs you have on hand with the bacon and shallots. I used tarragon because it was the only fresh herbs I had on hand. Other choices might be better. I had to eyeball the amounts. I wanted approximately equal amounts of corn and beans and the whole thing should fill the pumpkin. You can pack it in if necessary. Pour about a quarter cup of heavy cream inside. Put the top back on the pumpkin. Bake for about an hour and a half to two hours.

I liked the corn rather than the rice. It seems to me to be a nice variation on succotash. I don’t know if people outside of North America know succotash, but it’s basically corn and beans, usually lima beans. It looks like it can be a nice dish for Thanksgiving. The whole pumpkin can be brought to the table and the food scooped out from inside. You have to scrape the spoon against the pumpkin itself when you serve it. The only downside for Thanksgiving is that I usually try to make all the side dishes on top of the stove because the oven typically has a turkey inside taking up all the space. After all, Thanksgiving dinner is all about coordination. What goes in when, for how long and at what temperature. What’s on which burner. It’s very filling and can be a meal in itself, which is how I ate it.

Here are the ingredients:

  • 1 small pumpkin
  • 3 or 4 strips of bacon
  • 1 shallot
  • Corn kernels
  • Beans or peas
  • Cheese
  • Heavy cream
  • Pepper
  • Herbs

I would use a milder cheese with the corn, but you could probably go with a stronger taste with the rice. Eliminating the bacon and sautéing the shallot in oil is probably easy.

It was good with the rice, too.

As some people know, I like to pretend to play the piano sometimes. What I don’t think as many people know is that my mother came from a family of musicians. Her grandfather was a violin maker from Poland. Her uncle learned his father’s profession and also played violin in the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra. The musical ability in our family is unevenly distributed, but those who have had it have tended towards classical music. My grandfather, however, was always the black sheep of the family. When he was young, he played drums with jazz bands. I’ve been told he was terrible and only performed if someone was sick. Still, his taste was eclectic and when he died I went through his record collection. One of the records was Carney, by Leon Russell.

If you’ve read Umberto Eco’s Foucault’s Pendulum, then you have heard of the Musee des Arts et Metiers in Paris. The Museum of Arts et Metiers in Paris “was founded in 1794 as a repository for the preservation of scientific instruments and inventions.” It is housed in the buildings of the former Priory of Saint Martin des Champs. Some dramatic scenes take place in what had been the former church adjacent to the monastery. Here are some pictures I took there a few years ago.

I may have posted some of these before.

 

I hope that gives you a little feel of the building.

That number jumped out at me since it was higher than I would have thought. It’s National Adoption Month. I came across that fact more or less by accident, though in this case the notion of “accident” is relative since, being adopted myself, I have a tendency to click on adoption related headlines. According to the website of National Adoption Month, there are over 400,000 kids in foster care and 100,000 of those kids can be adopted.

One thing that might be worth clarifying is the phrase “special needs.” Many of the children available for adoption are listed as “special needs” and I would have assumed that that meant children with severe emotional, intellectual or physical handicaps. Although the term does encompass those children, it also means kids that are older, from “a particular racial or ethnic background” or who are part of a group of siblings who need to be placed. They prefer to keep siblings together.

There’s a lot of useful information on the Adopt US Kids website.

Some studies have shown that LGBT youth are over represented in foster care. Furthermore, once in foster care, they are sometimes poorly serve. In an article in USA Today, Eric Charles-Gallo writes,

The reality faced by LGBT youth— fewer accepting, inclusive foster homes than are available to their non-LGBT peers, and the heartbreaking consequences — is revealed in two important studies.

In New York City,78% of LGBTQ youth were removed from their foster homes or ran away because of hostility toward their sexual orientation or gender identity, and 70% reported experiencing physical violence in group homes. And a 2014 study by the Williams Institute shows that nearly 1 out of 5 youth in the Los Angeles foster care system is LGBTQ. That same study found that LGBT youth in Los Angeles foster care, like Darnell, were bounced around much more than non-LGBTQ youth, were more than twice as likely to be placed in group homes, and experienced homelessness and hospitalization for emotional reasons at far higher rates.

Further down he adds:

In fact, the federal government believes that the issue of LGBTQ youth in foster care is so critical that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services issued a historic call to child welfare agencies to guarantee that every child has access to a “safe, loving and affirming foster care placement, irrespective of the young person’s sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression.”

Since I know a disproportionate number of my readers are atheists, agnostics or otherwise not orthodox members of an established religion, I thought about covering that subject when I saw on article about National Adoption Month use words like “God,” “miracle” and “blessings.” On the other hand, since National Adoption Month is intended to raise awareness of kids in the foster care system in the U.S., it would seem to be less relevant. Since I was adopted by non-religious parents, through a secular agency and my biological mother requested that I not be placed with a highly religious family, the religion-adoption connection some people seem to have, especially since prominent pastors like Rick Warren started promoting adoption around the year 2007, really is not established in my subconscious. There was an article on the subject of adopting as an atheist in Salon a couple of years ago by Veronica Chenik Gilmore. Unfortunately, her description is unclear in places. She seems to indicate that she felt some discrimination as an atheist when she was fostering children, but I wasn’t clear what group she felt was discriminating. Was it a state agency or a private group? However, she does mention finding Adopt US Kids to be a useful resource.

Slightly OT: At one point Gilmore says:

People celebrate adoption and many celebrate their own atheism, but the two worlds rarely intertwine. Both worlds are filled with rejection, intolerance and misunderstanding. There are angry atheists and there are angry adoptees. We are, however, on the happy end of both spectrums.

I felt this was very dismissive of the feelings of adoptees, especially since a common complaint adoptees have is that no one wants to hear their side of the story. I find the “angry adoptee” categorization to be especially annoying. First of all, anger may very well depend on context. Normally, I have a very positive attitude about adoption. On a couple of occasions friends who were thinking of adopting wanted to talk to me about the subject, I found myself being very encouraging and even getting choked up while proclaiming what wonderful parents they would be. On the other hand, just the other day I found myself getting quite annoyed at some highly religious people who were busy applauding themselves over what wonderful people they were because they adopted kids from overseas. Emotions are changeable and are often in response to a stimulus. One complaint adoptees have is the expectation that we display permanent gratitude, well beyond the degree expected of biological children. That is simply not a realistic expectation. Feeling like you were a pathetic thing that needed to be rescued is not healthy. Anger is a normal human feeling and feeling angry occasionally doesn’t make you an “angry adoptee,” but the fear of being an “angry” or “poorly adjusted” adoptee sometimes causes adoptees to avoid being forthright about their feelings. I’m sure Gilbert didn’t mean it that way, still, I felt the need to add that.

Oddly, I only went a few pages down on the search results, but I haven’t been able to find any information about atheist kids in foster care. Logically, they must exist. However the search only turned up atheists who are foster parents. I also found a couple of posts in forums from atheist birth mothers.

Well, I got a bit off-track there. The upshot is that if you’re looking to adopt and you’re considering adopting an older kid there are probably more children out there available for adoption than you think. If you’re adopting from the foster care system, it probably costs less money than you think (described on the website as minimal or free), and they are willing to consider non-traditional families.

I wasn’t sure whether or not to post one of the videos on the subject, but here is one.

Is it just me, or when people use words like Baroque or Gothic do you wonder whether or not if the words are used to indicate a specific historical style or if they’re used in a more vernacular way.

Now that Halloween is over, I’m back on my castle kick. I will probably, sometime in the near future, take a trip to Europe with a particular interest in Medieval structures. My particular interest is in the early Middle Ages, but since there’s less from that time period, I will probably wind up including sites that are a little bit later in time. When I was at that late childhood age that kids develop a fascination with knights in shining armor, I happened to go to the library and find the relevant King Arthur books checked out. Instead, I wound up reading the Song of Roland. My romantic knight fascination therefore has a decidedly French feel to it. It’s also a little bit more historical, and very much rooted in the early Middle Ages. I think it’s something in my fastidious brain (as opposed to body – remember, I’m the sexy sloth) that mixing up different historical eras has always bugged me a bit. I guess that’s why I’m always asking, “Do you mean Gothic or gothic?”

If anyone has any historical sites worth seeing, I’d love to hear about them. My main direction is France, but that’s mainly because I’m comfortable enough with the language that I feel at ease going places that might not be a main destination for foreign travelers. My first trip to Europe was to Austria and Italy and it was very poorly planned and was very stressful. Later I went to France and there’s such a dramatic difference when you can ask complicated questions – and understand the answers! If I go places outside of a Francophone or Anglophone area, it needs to be well planned. For France, I could just get on a plane and worry about what happens when I get there.

It’s funny, when I was younger, I didn’t have that strong an interest in traveling. I did a little bit. That trip to Italy and Austria I mentioned was my first opportunity to go overseas and I jumped on it. I wanted to go places earlier, but finding a traveling companion was always a bit of a problem. Now, I’ve got three trips in mind. One is a hiking trip to Utah. Another is this early Medieval Europe trip. I’ve been looking at the cost of flights to Nairobi. Oh, yeah, I have a trip to Florida planned as well. So that’s four. I feel that as I get older and know more about the world, there’s more that I want to see. I also have gotten a better idea of what is really good to see in person as opposed to reading about or looking at pictures. I still think the most beautiful place I’ve ever seen was Venice. The thing that was so impressive about Venice is that it’s 360° beauty. It’s not one picture or one sight. You really do get more from being there than from seeing a picture. That’s why people say things like the Eiffel Tower is a disappointment. It’s not really any more impressive than it is in photos. In fact, it’s exactly like it is in photos. Now, there are lots of great things about Paris. I think it’s a wonderful city, but the big monuments that you see on post cards are not really what makes it enjoyable. One convenient thing about Paris is that the big monuments are located at major crossroads and you can almost plan your trip and see them by accident. But I don’t really care to see the major monuments. It’s the smaller revelations, like: “Golly, the Seine is a lot smaller than I thought.” Or standing along the Cap Gris Nez, looking out towards the water as the sun is setting and saying, “What’s that white line out there? Is that… no, it can’t be. Can you see England from here?” (Yes, you can.) It’s almost hard to predict what will strike you, but you probably haven’t seen it on a postcard.

Oh, right, speaking of Venice, the Venice Carnival is something I’d really love to go to. Of course I’ll make a costume. There are days I think I should have learned Italian. You may be thinking that, if I know French, Italian should be easy. However, I once tried taking a Spanish class and it was almost like there was a short-circuit in my head. Everything came out French. The teacher actually thought I was French because of the sorts of mistakes I was making.

It reminds me of the time I had an Anglophone Canadian compliment me on my English. Since I was living in Quebec at the time, he assumed I was a French speaker. Yeah, my English is so good I sound as if I come from New Jersey. I still can’t help wondering what he was assuming about my accent.

Getting back to where I started, it seems that the large portions of the Český Krumlov Castle are indeed Baroque, which is just as well since the Czech Republic is not currently on my itinerary. I mean that as no disrespect for the country. It’s just that I already have four trips planned and haven’t yet figure out how to pay for those!

Although I say that my interest is in the early Medieval period, I confess a special fascination for those towns whose roots go far back enough to disappear into prehistory.

Enough rambling for one day!

So, my man cave has a sewing machine in it. You want to make something of it?

Right now, my living room has been turned into a temporary man cave as I desperately try to get something entirely fabulous and over-the-top done for Halloween. Obviously, blogging has fallen by the wayside. Housekeeping? Coding? My never ending novel? Dead armadillos one and all.

I’ve been reading a bit in various places and had some off-web discussions about the whole “cultural appropriation” brouhaha and with Halloween coming it seems like the perfect time to write a couple of posts about it. Unfortunately, Halloween is the closest I come to having a religious holiday, so I’m up to my neck in fabric and led lights. I’m hoping to have animatronic flappy wings this year, but the skeletal framework bent when force was applied. Last night, I glued some reinforcement to the frame, but I’m not feeling hopeful that it will work. The concept is sound. The problem is always in how to fabricate it. I know one day I’m going to wake up and find the hidden door that leads to the real man cave, the suburban garage fully outfitted as a workshop that is attached to my itty bitty Manhattan apartment. Ooh, the fabulous things I will make!

Please pardon me it this post is a little disjointed. I’m writing it during costume making breaks. Personally, the only costumes I find offensive are store bought ones. There’s a side of me that I don’t want to entirely deprive the overworked and undercreative of any fun whatsoever, but, to me, Halloween costumes are a little bit like Christmas cookies. A large part of the point lies in the making, not the wearing or eating.

I’m not a big fan of the sexy whatever costumes. Halloween is supposed to be about dressing up as something you’re not, so, obviously me dressing up as sexy totally undermines that point.😉

My most humiliating costume is when my sister forced me to dress up as one of the members of Kiss. She and her friends liked Kiss (And you wonder why I insist on writing anonymously. It’s not so I can insult people. It’s so I don’t get beat up by my big sister.) but they were only three. They needed a fourth. Somewhere, my mother as a photo of me with my face painted like Ace Freely. Now you all know my deepest, darkest secret. I have nothing left to hide.

Do you remember a few years ago when the big Halloween panic wasn’t over cultural appropriation but over costumes that were too sexy? Suddenly they look like such innocent times.

Well, I hate to say it, but I think the wings aren’t going to flap. I’m having a little too much difficulty simply physically making the object. I think it would work if I could physically make it. Since I don’t have a man cave, I try to make things that can be fabricated with exacto knives and small hand tools. I seem to have mislaid my Dremel during my last move, so I don’t even have that at the moment.

Since Halloween is only a few days away, and according to my schedule the flappy wings had to work today or not at all, I’m going to have to regroup and just try to make it look good. It will have wings, but they won’t flap. I throw a few leds on it and call it a day.

For now, I need to sit with my coffee and relax. You know how when you’re working on something small and you’re whole body gets hunched over and all your muscles tighten up… well, that’s how I am at the moment.

I think it was Erika Christakis, ironically, who wrote something a number of years ago about how our societies anxieties get projected onto Halloween. When I was a kid, it was neighbors who might try to poison you with tainted candy. For a long time there were stories about people putting razor blades in apples, although I don’t know that that had ever happened. (I looked it up, and there were no cases of poisoning, but there have been a few cases of people putting pins or needles in candy.)

Since Halloween, with its ghouls and ghosts, is obviously about confronting anxieties, it’s not really surprising that it becomes a vehicle of society’s other anxieties as well. A few years ago, it was overly sexy Halloween costumes. An obsession of 2011, by 2012 we were getting think pieces about how criticizing women for sexy costumes was also bad. Last year, seemed to be a high point of hysteria over culturally appropriative costumes.

From an article from Psychology Today by Kit Yarrow:

Costumes are a way to explore who you aren’t. For example, it’s unlikely a waitress will dress up as a sexy waitress – or any other type of waitress for that matter. Okay, yes, there has to be at least a tiny bud of interest in the persona and character behind the costume chosen, but that doesn’t mean there is a secret wish to become that character.

“Young adults are in the stage of psychological development where trying on different roles has strong allure – it’s their job to figure out who they are. Halloween is the ultimate role play day, so it’s no wonder nearly three-quarters of 18-24 year olds plan to wear a costume. The percentage of adults dressing up dwindles a bit with every age cohort. It slides to half of 35-44 year-olds and down to one-quarter of 55-64 year-olds. By that age people know who they are and role play feels less exciting.

The writer goes on to say:

Choosing and crafting a costume takes imagination and creativity. It’s strutting around your mental assets and interests rather than your abs or cleavage – though it’s possible to do both.

I confess, that’s a big part of my motivation. It’s why I wanted wings that flap in the first place.

According to another article about the psychology behind Halloween costumes,

They reveal hidden personality traits, reflecting our inner urges on the one day it’s okay to abandon societal rules and regulations.

“It’s an opportunity to express things we’re normally not allowed to express,” says G. Dennis Rains, a psychology professor at Kutztown University in Kutztown, Pa. “It’s permission to let your underside or dark side come out. We can release what we normally keep under wraps.”

The writer, Angela Haupt, continues:

Sally Foster, a recently retired psychology professor and dean, organizes a Halloween party each year at MiraCosta College in Oceanside, Calif. More fun than the requisite trick-or-treating? Analyzing student and faculty costumes. “The adults who wear really sexy costumes are usually the ones who are mild-mannered in their daily life—modest people who aren’t overtly sexual,” Foster says. She recalls one such woman who dressed as a black cat, purring her way through the night in a body-hugging costume. “Everyone wanted to touch her. Her costume was just so luscious,” Foster says. “She got to live out an aspect of herself that she ordinarily wouldn’t show.”

Which might explain why I’ve never gone as a sexy sloth – a tad too close to home, I suspect.

She also quotes J. Buzz Von Ornsteiner, “We can finally unleash them—incognito. It makes us feel like we can do whatever we want, without any consequences or repercussions.” However, she adds, “Cautionary note: Halloween isn’t always repercussion-free. Photos of controversial costumes have made their way onto Facebook, costing the wearers their jobs.”

It’s not surprising that Puritans of all eras dislike Halloween. Another holiday the Puritans didn’t like was Christmas. Maybe I can figure out how to make flappy wings on an angel by the end of the year.

So, what am I thinking about today? Halloween!

I’m sure I’ve mentioned before that my favorite holiday is Halloween. In my teens and twenties, I was something of a flamboyant dresser. Everyday was Halloween. When did I get so respectable?

The village Halloween parade finally announced their theme. This year, it’s reverie – which pretty much leaves it wide open. Of course there’s no reason that you have to dress according to the theme. For me, it’s just a starting off point to try to think of something inventive. I have a few different ideas kicking around in my head. I haven’t quite decided what to do yet, but I’m starting to narrow it down.

As it happens, I was looking to make some molds for another project.

As an aside: If you didn’t know. I love projects. The messier the better. The only thing that gets in my way is living in a small Manhattan apartment. Even then, I usually just go ahead and make a big mess all over my coffee table. I want to live in another dimension in which my apartment is a small, modern, sleek thing, but inside it, somehow, there is a big garage or basement with a slop sink, a work bench, all sorts of tools for when I’m feeling macho. It’s kind of like my Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. By day, or rather by weekday evening, I’m a nice, respectable, mild-mannered, sophisticated urban woman. Weekends, I want to retreat to my man cave.

Where the hell did that “man cave” thing come from anyway? Why don’t we have woman caves? (Besides the obvious joke that we carry one with us. But it’s too small for power tools!) How did a “room of her own” become a “room of his own?” Many of the companies from which I’ve bought my supplies tend to have projects for “man caves.” It sort of irritates me a little. I really hate the fact that so many people think that because I was born with a vagina I’m supposed to have a very definite set of likes and dislikes. Lately, as in the past few years, the damned thing has seen remarkably little use anyway. And not for lack of trying. That guy I gave my phone number to never called. I’ve given up trying online dating, although I toy with the idea once every couple of months. The truth is, I’m too old for men to want to have anything to do with. Guys a few years older than I am drop not so subtle hints that they would like someone even younger. Worse yet, if they can’t get someone younger, they’d rather masturbate to pictures than sleep with someone near their own age.

Eh, I don’t want to go there. It’s all a bunch of whining and it never changes. I could put up the same damned post about my sexual frustrations at least once a month. My last few attempts were such humiliating failures, I’m not sure I want to try again unless a man seems genuinely interested. I thought about writing about my last several attempts at sex. I had a pretty good sex life when I was younger. My recent experiences, however, were awful. I found myself asking, has something in the culture changed or have I reached a different stage of life and now people behave differently? They were awful in weird ways. As I said before, they were oddly humiliating. That’s sort of a new experience for me and to have that happen three times in a row with three different men is odd. Actually, since then there has been some fairly routine sex that was okay. So, I guess I should count that. Of course, to explain the bad sex and what happened would involve a pretty extreme level of self-exposure. I’m not sure anyone really wants to hear it.

Then maybe it was just bad luck. We all have a bad streak now and again, don’t we?

It was easier when I was young and attractive. It probably shouldn’t be that way, but when you know you’re the sort of woman men want you can behave with a certain level of confidence. Also, men treat you with respect. You’re a valuable commodity. They’re afraid to blow it. When you’re older and commensurately less attractive, men take you for granted. The don’t really care if you walk away. What makes it so annoying is that they’ll still go out on a date with you, but they won’t treat you well. They’ll be very critical. And sex is suddenly all about their needs. Suck their cock and leave. Or worse yet, take it up the ass. So, what’s in it for me? Where’s my pleasure?

You’d think something or someone triggered that outburst, but not really. This goes through my head on a regular basis. I just keep it to myself because to whine about the same thing over and over is just boring.

How did we get from Halloween to here? Oh, right, projects.

I used to feel like I could make my own way in life. Be my own person. Define myself the way I want to be defined. Now, everything is identity, identity, identity. But they don’t mean identity and any sense of the word as I used to understand it. Identity is just a code word for the little box they want to shove you in. It’s the ultimate result of commodification of everything. We’ve let the way advertisers and marketers view the world seep into the way we see ourselves.

So, I don’t like being forced to do things that are defined as women’s things because of my genitalia. Does that mean that I’m not “cis-gendered?” I don’t think so. When I read that Facebook had a huge number of gender options, my first reaction was to think that was good. Then I thought about it more. There are a few options that might describe me more accurately than cisgender woman, androgynous, bigender, gender fluid. (Gender questioning might fit, but it reminds me too much of the “bi-curious” thing which has always irritated the hell out of me. That’s a rant for another day, I suppose. But it’s probably outdated these days anyway.) You know, I don’t want a damned flag. I want a life. All the options might make it seem as if our perceptions are being refined, and maybe that’s good, but there’s a down side. (If you haven’t gotten used to the fact that I don’t see the world in black and white… I don’t have a conclusion for that if. I guess you’ll be disappointed.) When we only had two big boxes, male and female, it meant non-conformists (gender non-conforming and otherwise) had to slip out of the boxes. We found ourselves in a great big territory with no maps and no markings. We defined ourselves however we wanted to be defined. Now, the “straights,” for lack of a better term,” have just made better boxes. I don’t feel like any of those terms actually improve my life. I don’t want to be trapped in a ready-made identity, confined in a thing like an iron maiden. I don’t need or want other people to validate me. I can validate myself. My identity is who I am inside and it’s okay if you don’t have a word for it. I don’t need a name, or a flag.

We need to make lives that we want to live everyday as a subject, and how we portray that to other people as an object is a consequence. All these words put that order in reverse.

A couple of weeks ago, I started with the idea of writing down whatever comes into my head for about an hour each day in order to improve my fluency with writing. I’ve let it drop a bit since my trip to New Jersey, so now I’m going to try to pick it back up.

This has coincided with several other similar efforts. I am also cleaning the apartment for one hour each day. That includes laundry and dishes. I’ve fallen behind… Actually, can you even say that you’ve fallen behind when that is your permanent state. Anyway, my place is a mess and the idea of cleaning it all in one fell swoop is overwhelming, so I’ve been doing it bit by bit, one hour every day. I’ve been more dutiful in that regard than I have been with the writing. Still, sometimes at forty-five minutes I find my attention wavering. Housecleaning is so difficult. I think it has the wrong level of mental engagement for my taste. Too engaging for your mind to totally wander without affecting your ability to clean well, but not absorbing enough for the time to pass without noticing. I find that I keep checking the clock. “Am I done yet?” “Am I done yet?”

The other thing I’ve been doing, and pardon me if I’ve already mentioned it, is programming for one hour a day. I realized that I hadn’t done any programming in a while. I wanted to make a little tool to make my sister’s life easier, and it was like pulling teeth. I’d become terribly rusty. So, I decided that I would program for at least one hour a day. This has, of course, just the opposite problem as the housecleaning. I find it very absorbing and I usually do it for as long as I can, meaning until my eyes are crossing and I need to go to bed. I’m still terribly rusty, however. Far from improving my skills, I’m reclaiming skills I lost.

I’ve set myself about the little task of make a half a dozen games. These are casual games, and they’re basically copies of things I’ve seen elsewhere. If I get any brilliant ideas, I’ll be glad to do them, but right now the point isn’t to come up with a clever game so much as it is to start programming again. So far, I’ve made two little ones, a memory game… and something else I am forgetting. Oh, yes, a code breaking game.

So, now I’m working on little game number three. It seemed just as simple as the other two games… actually, I realized it was slightly more difficult, but, still, it’s not a difficult game. I should be able to knock it out in a couple of days. Well, needless to say, that has not been the case. What’s bothering me though is not the time it’s taking. What I’ve done is really ugly.

First of all, I cobbled together something that I thought would work. It was really good practice. I haven’t had to do a traversal of a graph in a long time. It’s one of those things you think you know, then you try typing it out. You look at what you’ve typed and say to yourself, “What’s to prevent me from revisiting that node a million times.”

“Well, nothing.”

“Okay, let’s think this through again.”

I know people have solved these problems before and I can just look at a reference, but I find that I remember it better if I try to hammer it out myself first.

So, I did that, and I was happy enough with it. I did look at other people’s work. There’s a happy medium between trying to work it out yourself so that you understand and not reinventing the wheel.

The next stage was to cobble together some sort of GUI (Graphical User Interface) to see if it worked. I believe most of my readers don’t program, so let me say that I was doing it according to a pattern called “Model-View-Controller.” The “view”, in this case is the GUI, which allows the user to interact with the program. What I had done thus far was mostly the model. Now, you know that parts of it aren’t going to work, but you assume some, hopefully most, of it will work. Unfortunately, nothing was displaying at all. I was having a hard time finding, in everything I’d already written, where the problem was.

So, I did an absurdly simple version. Since then, I’ve been adding pieces back into it. Now, it is all messy and ugly. I add a bit of the functionality back, and then I need to be able to show it to the user. Then I add something onto the GUI. I have a whole bunch of nested “if… else” statements. I’m not done, but the part I’ve done is working as expected. I guess I can try to clean it up and make it more elegant afterwards. Still, I feel slightly dissatisfied. I’m not sure I’d want to show anyone the source code as it is. It’s about as messy as my apartment. Somehow, that seems fitting.

Beyond one hour cleaning and one hour writing, there are other things in my life I’d like to improve. I think I should add one hour exercising and an hour playing the piano. That’s five hours already and I haven’t even done any work yet! I want more hours in my day. Life is not fair, is it?

Maybe that’s why I don’t like to go to bed. Sometimes I joke that I’m on a thirty hour a day schedule. Unfortunately, that’s not really a joke. My sleep schedule slowly shifts. Each day, I go to bed a little later and each day I wake up a little later. The worst days are when my schedule is completely backward from the rest of the world. It’s no problem at all as long as I have no appointments, but if I have to interact with the rest of the world during this time period I can get a little stressed out.

Last week, we went to go see Mark Morris’ dance company and a couple of days before I started making an effort to get my sleep schedule set so I’d be wide awake between seven-thirty in the evening and ten o’clock. I didn’t entirely succeed. Normally, I like Mark Morris a lot. They were performing three new dances all set to the music of Mozart. It started seeming repetitive sometime during the third dance and I struggled to pay attention.

I was hoping to get my sister to do a dance review as a guest post, but I guess that’s not going to happen.

Do any of you have favorite, living, choreographers?