semperfiona: American flag superimposed with "American. Liberal. Voter." (liberal)
Yesterday was gray, dull and rainy, but I was excited and hopeful. Today is bright, clear and sunny, and I am terrified, heartbroken and angry, feeling betrayed by my fellow citizens. How could so many people support hatred and bigotry?

And yet. I'm surrounded by them every day at work. "Nice" folks...who make misogynistic and racist jokes, who gloat over civil rights failures. I don't usually play music while working because it's too much of a distraction and because I can't hear people come up behind me, but today I am filling my ears with my Flogging Molly Pandora station so I don't have to hear the victorious gloating of the Trump supporters around me.

I was so looking forward to my daughter coming of age in a country with a woman president. Where her half-Mexican queer ace self would be embraced and welcome, with full civil rights, and instead we've got a place where I will be terrified that she will be harassed at best, and may be deprived of her citizenship and deported.
semperfiona: (maple)
So as I mentioned, I just got a prescription for anti-depressants. The SAME DAY I took the first one, Chris and I went to the monthly poly meetup group. I've missed a few lately, partly because it's on Thursday and Claudia and I traditionally go out on Thursdays, partly from general malaise.

It was a small group, me and Chris and three new people I hadn't met before. We all had a good conversation, a bit of plausibly-deniable flirting, and all Facebook-friended one another. After I got home, one of the two guys--his name's AJ--messaged me and we had a conversation over Messenger, which culminated in "Would you like to go out for coffee sometime?" A bit of calendar massaging and waiting for Tammie to get home from her business trip for check-in later, we had arranged to meet Monday (ie, yesterday).

Yesterday turned out to be A Day. First Chris killed the battery in his car by pumping up the tires running the compressor off the battery without starting the car, so he took mine to work since I had Work At Home Day. Around lunchtime, I went out to check whether the car would start (it did) and to run over to the furnace installers to make a deposit (soon we shall have WARMZ in our house! The boiler died last March and Winter Is Coming...)

I ran my errands with no problems, but after returning I thought I'd make sure the battery was fully charged, so I left the car running and went inside to make myself some lunch. It was a gorgeous day; I took lunch out to the backyard and sat down to eat it. Ewww, that's a really nasty smell. Look up, see smoke emanating from under the hood of the car. That's not good. Of course I immediately shut the car off and opened the hood. It kept smoking and stinking for a good little while after.

Call AAA for a tow to our friendly neighborhood auto repair shop. Ride there with the tow truck to talk to the shop manager (don't ask me why I didn't think to just call him and let him know the car was coming). Walk home from the shop. Proceed to trip over a couple of steel cables that were stretched across the sidewalk by some careless roofers. Injure nothing in particular except my dignity and a small scrape on my left hand, so shrug and move on.

Message AJ to tell him we needed to change the plan to something I can walk to, because I have no car available. We ended up at a nearby restaurant, had a nice dinner and a lot of conversation. Arranged a second date next week. And the weird what-do-we-now dance at the end (do we shake hands/hug/kiss/what?) resolved with me hugging him.

Car is fixed and retrieved (it was the cooling fan system that went blooey, so the car overheated and melted a PCV hose as well). $850. Well, at least I had the cash available, even if it was slated elsewhere.
semperfiona: (maple)
  • The Art of Language Invention, David J. Peterson

  • +The Kite Runner, Khaled Hosseini (Afghanistan) (paper)
    Rosa had to read this one over the summer for her literature class, and I had resolved to read it as well. Depressing, but very well written and I finished it.

  • Feedback, Mira Grant
semperfiona: (maple)
I think I have mentioned here occasionally, but I've been in a longterm funk. Ups and downs, but basically it goes back eighteen months or more. I've been going to counseling, but am still having some really bad weeks. It seems to correlate with my periods: the week or two before one I'm having terrible crying jags and constant anxiety. So I have finally decided to try antidepressants. I am dearly hoping they will help, although I also think some of my depression is situational and can't be fixed by me alone. Still, if I can cope better, maybe we can work through the issues better together.
semperfiona: American flag superimposed with "American. Liberal. Voter." (liberal)
This election has poisoned a lot of my vocabulary. “Tremendous” and “huge” are both suspect, unless I am intentionally evoking the ghost of the toupeed pumpkinhead, and why would I want to do that. Back in 2008 I lost “you bet” and “you betcha” to Sarah Palin. Those were less painful losses, as I’ve mostly moved away from the Northern Midwest where my accent picked them up.

But now I can’t use the word “trump”, even in a card game, without cringing inwardly. Pinochle and hearts and sheepshead and euchre and even Five Crowns are dear to my competitive little heart, and the word “trump” is rather important to all those games.
Basically, if it’s a card game with trick-taking and trump cards, I’m likely to love it. (Except I never got the hang of bridge. Mostly because I stopped hanging out with the person I started to take bridge lessons with, and the only other person I knew who played was my grandmother, who had dementia by then and could no longer play.)

Pinochle was the family game. Both my dad’s family and my mom’s, even though they were from completely different backgrounds and locations. So of course they taught me and my sister to play from the age of eight or so. It was a big deal when we were both good enough at it that we could partner each other and hold our own against our parents. It’s still the default activity whenever I’m around my parents or aunts, although neither Rosa nor her cousins play, nor did most of mine ever learn, because my aunts didn’t marry men who played or were willing to learn.

Back when I was still married to Ray, we tried teaching him. He learned, sort of, but was a very bad loser, and quickly began to refuse to play. He will still occasionally trot out “I once maimed a man playing pinochle” if the topic happens to come up. He is one of those people who, having once found a phrase or saying funny, will repeat it endlessly until you are ready to strangle him to make it stop.

In high school, I taught a group of my friends to play pinochle, and we used to play every day over lunch. But I lived in Wisconsin, where the trick-taking game of choice is sheepshead, so of course I wanted to learn to play. I can’t tell you how many times I was told it was impossible to learn unless you’d grown up with it. My parents, having come from elsewhere and moved to Wisconsin as adults, didn’t play. Presumably their friends also refused to teach them. In any case, eventually I convinced someone to teach me, and played it for several years on church retreats and such, until I moved out of the state and no longer had anyone to play with.
I fetched up in Indiana, where the local game was euchre. And people were willing to teach it, even. Again, played for several years, and then moved out of state.

Now I’m lucky if I get to play cards once every six months or so, for no particularly good reason except lack of convenient flat surface to play on. Tammie knows pinochle, but there are only two of us and it’s really not that great as a two-person game. Though I did meet someone over the weekend who knows the game. Hmmm.
semperfiona: (apple)
I have a theory about life in the internet age. As I expounded it to a table of coworkers yesterday and they seemed to think it a good one, I share it with you.

I think people of my generation and the one after are immigrants to the Internet, expatriates from Unconnected Land, which I like to call “1980”. The world of landline phones—which were just called phones, because there was no other kind. The world of watching TV programs when they aired, or if you were rich enough, recording them on a VCR to watch later.

People of my daughter’s generation? They are natives of the Internet. They are fluent in its rapidly evolving language and mores and swim happily in its milieus. We immigrants can adopt the new technologies, learn the new language, and adapt to our new country with varying amounts of success, but we’ll never be native. There’s always something we just don’t quite get.

Some of us are eager immigrants, and some of us were shanghaied; some of us never stop wishing we could just go home again. Some of us are all those things at once.
semperfiona: (maple)
  • Ninefox Gambit, Yoon Ha Lee

  • Once Broken Faith, Seanan McGuire

  • Sandman: Overture, Neil Gaiman


This has not been a month where I've wanted to read. I've been carrying around a couple of books from the Read the World Booklist for [mumble] months now (as in, I took them to Michigan with me in June) and haven't read them, so I finally returned them to the library yesterday (except for the one that has gone walkies--which I hope turns up soon!)

I've been extremely busy and also in a funk.
semperfiona: (maple)
  1. Radiance, Catherynne M Valente

  2. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, +JK Rowling et al

  3. Full of Briars, Seanan McGuire

  4. Chimera, Mira Grant

  5. Running on Empty: Overcome Your Childhood Emotional Neglect, Dr Jonice Webb

  6. Bodies in Motion: Stories, Mary Anne Mohanraj

  7. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, +JK Rowling (reread) (audio)

  8. Lucy, +Jamaica Kincaid (paper)

  9. Nostalgia, +Mircea Cartarescu (Romania) (paper)
    Abandoned 60%, boredom.

  10. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, +JK Rowling (reread) (audio)

semperfiona: American flag superimposed with "American. Liberal. Voter." (liberal)
This is the thing that gives me hope for this election. My father, a lifelong Republican and evangelical Christian, has been speaking out against Trump since before the primary in Wisconsin, writing long essays on Facebook. When I saw him earlier this month, he said, "The Republican Party has done something I never thought possible. They've turned me into a Democrat." He went on to explain that he's not only voting for Hillary, he's voting Democrat in the downticket races as well. And he's defending her when his Facebook commenters try to insinuate things against her.

Part of his particular reasoning is that he works directly with immigrants, helping them with applications for the DREAM act, with appeals of denied visas, and so on, and the hateful anti-immigrant rhetoric from the Republicans has reached an intolerable level for him. Even though this is only true for a small number of Republicans (my mom and dad and their coworkers),

My sister, also lifelong Republican, refuses to vote for Trump but hasn't been convinced to vote for Hillary. She's planning to sit the election out, and I'll take that. She lives in California anyway.

I have some hope that other people like them will have their anti-Trump breaking points as well.

July books

Jul. 31st, 2016 11:59 pm
semperfiona: Books on a table superimposed with "There is no frigate like a book" (books)
  • The Devil You Know, K J Parker

  • A Murder in Time, Julie McElwain
    This is the current "Big Library Read", available in ebook to all comers for a short period of time. It's about an FBI profiler who somehow gets herself dumped from 2016 into 1814 and solves a serial killer mystery while there. I found her success there very difficult to believe, and the 1814-dwellers didn't quite seem right either. Anachronistic language, attitudes, behavior.

  • Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, +JK Rowling (UK) (audio) (reread)

  • A Golden Age, +Tahmima Anam (Bangladesh)

  • +The Good Muslim, Tahmima Anam (Bangladesh)

  • Necessity, *Jo Walton

June books

Jun. 30th, 2016 11:59 pm
semperfiona: (maple)
  • The Book of Phoenix, *Nnedi Okorafor

  • Seveneves, Neal Stephenson

  • Binti, *Nnedi Okorafor

  • The Vagrant, Peter Newman (abandoned 3% for excessive grimdark-itude)

  • Aurora, Kim Stanley Robinson

  • Updraft, Fran Wilde

  • Too Like the Lightning, Ada Palmer

  • League of Dragons, Naomi Novik

  • Forest of Memory, Mary Robinette Kowal

  • Freedom in the Family, *Tananarive Due and Patricia Stephens Due
    This is another memoir of the civil rights era, and I don't know whether it was the writing style or the fact that this one didn't concentrate on guns as the be-all-end-all, but I enjoyed this one a lot more than the last one.

  • The Discreet Hero, +Mario Vargas Llosa (Peru)

  • +Embers, Sandor Marai (Hungary)

  • The Automobile Club of Egypt, +Alaa Al Aswany (Egypt)

  • The Ballad of Black Tom, Victor LaValle

  • The House of Daniel, Harry Turtledove

  • Haiti Noir 2, ed. Edwidge Danticat (Haiti)
    Not technically from the Reading the World list but I found it by searching the library for one of the authors on my list, and it's all stories by Haitian authors, so I think it qualifies.

Squee!

Jun. 27th, 2016 02:11 pm
semperfiona: (deserve)
My latest podfic has posted at hp-podfic-fest!
semperfiona: (maple)
Dear Universe,

I find myself in the position of having to make pretty much exactly the same request I made four years ago. I would like to add that I want someone local and long-term, and that I want the relationship to include a lot of joyful enthusiastic sex in addition to emotional and intellectual connections.

From April 2012:
Dear Universe,

Please send me someone gorgeous and wonderful who thinks I am irresistibly amazing, who is truly free to have a relationship with me, who will pursue that relationship with at least as much joy and enthusiasm as I, and who won't try to interfere with my existing relationships with my partners.

Frustrated and lonely,
Fiona


Universe, you came through for me in magnificent fashion the last time I made this request. Sadly, that relationship has ended and I'm back in pretty much exactly the same state I was in 2012. Help me again?
semperfiona: (home people)
Trying to figure out what I want to be called by the new grandbaby. It's difficult. I don't feel old enough to be Grandma, but on the other hand...when I was a kid, my grandfather's wife never wanted us to call her Grandma, so she was always Aunt Jeannie. But none of my cousins or my sister or I have ever really felt close to her, and I doubt whether any of them have been in touch with her at all since he died. I certainly haven't. I don't want to set up that kind of distance in a relationship that is already likely to be somewhat fraught due to the fragility of our connection with her mother.

Tammie and I have actually been talking about this on-and-off all weekend, looking up alternative endearments for one's grandmother, and trying them on for size. Tammie is leaning toward "GiGi"; of the list, the one I liked best was "MeiMei" (I have no idea how they spelled it; this spelling is Chinese for little sister which amuses me a bit), but none of them really fit me; they're from cultures I don't belong to, or sound more like something generated by the child than something comfortably presented by an adult. My family culture is pretty stuck on "Grandma", and I suspect that's what I'm going to end up choosing after all.

Baby!

Jun. 8th, 2016 04:34 pm
semperfiona: (home people)
Born today:

Baby girl Wrigley [middlename] [lastname]
9 lbs 13 oz
22 inches

to Chris's daughter Emma and her fiance Joe


Yikes. I am not ready to be a grandma!
semperfiona: Picture of a gas cloud in space that looks like an upraised middle finger (fuck you universe)
So my workplace is working on a new software project. Whenever the designers talk about a potential user who is a customer service representative, they use the pronoun "she". Whenever they talk about a potential user who is a technician of some sort, they use the pronoun "he". I scribbled the word "they" on my notepad as a reminder to myself to make sure not to fall into that habit.

May books

May. 31st, 2016 11:59 pm
semperfiona: (maple)
  • From folklore to fiction : a study of folk heroes and rituals in the Black American novel, +H. Nigel Thomas (St. Vincent) (paper)

  • The Stone Diaries, +Carol Shields (Canada) (paper)

  • The Savage Detectives, + Roberto Bolano (Chile) (paper) (abandoned 33% ish)
    The book seems to be three vaguely-connected novellas. I read one all the way through, but didn't enjoy it, so gave up after a few pages of the second one wasn't any better. First novella was the diary of a feckless 17-year-old who skipped classes at university to bum around Mexico City drinking with a bunch of avant-garde poets who never actually wrote anything. Lots of diary entries about his tawdry sex life sleeping with several different women who all seemed to instantly fall in love with him. Bleh.

  • Trigger Warning, Neil Gaiman (paper)

  • Death in Venice, +Thomas Mann (Germany)

  • The Sacred Band, *David Anthony Durham

  • Two Years, Eight Months and Twenty-Eight Days, Salman Rushdie

  • Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, +JK Rowling, UK (audio) (reread)

  • The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet, Becky Chambers


Tammie has given me a good idea for alleviating the frustration I'm feeling from the Read the World project. Instead of just going and getting the randomly selected books, go to GoodReads or another review site first and check out some reviews to see whether the book is likely to fit me. Here's hoping that will help me find more pleasure in the project. I have also checked out several recent acclaimed SFF novels as a palate cleanser.

I've just gone through my list of previous reads, and GoodReads ratings do not seem to correlate at all with my opinions of the books. However, in a number of cases the negative reviews do manage to mention the things that I also hated, so perhaps I can get some value from those.
semperfiona: (apple)
So my current podfic project has reached a point where I wanted to copy the file to my phone to listen to it in the car. I created an mp3 and copied it to iTunes, then dragged it to my phone. I got a gray file listing with a broken circle next to it--unplayable. I deleted it and re-dragged it, several times over, re-synced my phone several times, no luck whatsoever.

Did some googling, found a number of people with similar problems but no good solutions.
Finally, after half an hour of frustration...I closed iTunes, disconnected my phone, and then reconnected it, thus restarting iTunes. This time when I tried to copy my file it went with no problems at all.

Charis

May. 4th, 2016 11:14 am
semperfiona: (maple)
Last week was exceedingly busy for me. Rehearsals Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday evenings, and concerts Friday and Saturday evenings. I left home at seven am and didn't get home until nearly eleven pm each day. Saturday I did have a bit of a reprieve, since I didn't have to work, and I spent the whole afternoon hanging out with Claudia. But after the show we had to load out the risers, sets and props, and then had an "after party" dinner out, so I didn't get home until one am.

The concerts went amazingly well. We sang some silly songs and some deep and meaningful songs. Act 1 was a peek behind the scenes of Charis rehearsals; there were acted skits between each song that kind of set them into context: A new member comes to join Charis, this is what she experiences. Then Act 2 was the set for the GALA festival in Denver in July which I won't be able to attend but I'm hoping that if I'm still in Charis in four years when the next one occurs that I will be able to go that time.

Here's what we sang. I can't find good examples on youtube of all of them (and we're not on there (yet?).

    Act 1
  • curtain up

  • Another Op'nin', Another Show (Cole Porter, from "Kiss Me Kate")

  • Backdrop display: 14 weeks earlier...

  • skit about pre-rehearsal chatter, new member shows up

  • Scales and Arpeggios (from "The Aristocats")

  • skit about "Sectional Identity" (altos vs sopranos)

  • Alto's Lament

  • skit about singing in foreign languages

  • Lambscapes (Eric Lane Barnes)

      This is basically Mary Had a Little Lamb in the style of...
    • I Gregorian Chant

    • II Handel

    • III Schubert

    • IV Verdi - guest soloist

    • V Orff

    • (We skipped Movement VI for having too many errors in the sheet music)

    • VII Gospel

  • skit about production and sets, while setting up for:

  • Kiss the Girl (from "The Little Mermaid")

  • skit about board meetings

  • Lesbian Second Date Moving Service

  • skit about announcements

  • Announcement Song (music from Another Opnin, Another Show, words by chorus member)



    Act 2
  • Guest soloist, two arias (that we chorus members didn't get to hear, due to being in the hall lining up for the next piece)

  • Freedom Come (sung from the aisles of the theater, social justice photo montage)

  • Women Rock the 80's

  • Singing for our Lives (Holly Near, arr. our director)

  • No Time

  • Chapo Pou Fanm (Sidney Guillaume, in Haitian Kreyol)

  • Real Clothes (Melinda Ohlemuller and Symmetry)

  • Jambalaya (Hank Williams)


    Encore
  • teach a verse of Singing for our Lives to the audience, sing with them from the aisles


14 weeks earlier... (as the early backdrop for the concert said)

This January, I joined the St Louis Women's Chorus, CHARIS. One of my Facebook friends has been posting invitations to the open rehearsals for several years now, and I've generally given it a moment's thought and then forgotten about it. But this year was different.

One day I was sitting in the living room talking to Tammie, complaining that there wasn't enough group singing in my life (it's one of the very few things I miss about regular church attendance), and saying that while pagan chant is enjoyable, it just wasn't Quite The Thing for me. "I wanna sing SHOW TUNES!" I lamented. The very next day, there was a Facebook invite from Alison. (She goes by Al, but for purposes of differentiation, she's going to be Alison here.) So having been slapped in the face by my sign from the universe, I went to my first rehearsal.

After the first one, I also dragged Rosa to them. I told her she should come to three rehearsals, but I wouldn't force her to keep coming after that if she hated it. "But there's another 16-year-old that joined, Laurel, and you have a lot in common." Rosa came for rehearsals for a while, but she had told me from the beginning that she didn't want to perform. I was hoping she'd change her mind, but she never did, and after six weeks or so she also developed a wheeze that seemed to get worse after singing. I decided to let her drop out so that the remaining group could concentrate on blending our sound among the ones who really were going to perform, and because she and Laurel were becoming a distraction by whispering together during practice.

It's been a lot of hard work, weekly rehearsals as well as private practice time (which for me has mostly been in the car, singing along with our practice tracks) and two full-day Saturday rehearsals. But it was only just barely enough time to learn all the songs by heart and get my part down sufficiently so as not to slide onto the next section's part instead. At the last minute (last Wednesday's rehearsal), we had to give up on memorization for one particularly difficult song and work out a smooth way to bring the music folders out for it. Too many of the chorus members just hadn't been able to memorize it. I'd gotten close, but I would have needed about one more week to get there--a week we obviously didn't have.

I am the sort of singer who really isn't naturally "good". I don't have perfect pitch, not even close, and I can only just manage relative pitch with moderate accuracy (i.e., go up or down a step or half step or a third or whatever). Inside my head, my imagined music sounds perfect, but what comes out my face when I start singing almost never matches it, and even I can tell it doesn't. However, with A LOT of practice and/or a strong singer to listen to and follow, I can sing pretty well.

So this has been something of a stretch goal for me. Something I knew I could do, but would have to work hard at. And that's been a really good thing for me.

The only bummer is that I'd been hoping to make some new friends out of the chorus, and that hasn't really happened. Yet? Everyone has been friendly at the rehearsals and such, but no one has yet clicked with me personally. It is still a source of community, though, and that's good.

I'm not going to be able to attend many of the other Charis appearances over the summer due to conflicts, but I am planning to stick with it for next fall.
semperfiona: (maple)
I'm not really enjoying the Read the World exercise. It may be bad luck, but I've had a run of books I couldn't read, or had to slog through. Maybe a mismatch between the recommender(s) taste and mine, maybe a tendency for foreign books to have esthetics I don't appreciate, who knows. But I might need a break from it. Well, at least the audiobooks are things I'm enjoying.

  1. Indexing: Reflections, Seanan McGuire (audio)

  2. +India Unbound, Gurcharan Das (India) (paper) (abandoned ~30%)
    A cross between a history, a polemic and a memoir. I had high hopes for this one, but I disliked the author's free market capitalistic politics from the start, and when he went into an apologia for the caste system, complete with disparaging remarks about how the quotas for lower-caste people in government-owned factories had destroyed productivity, I just couldn't take it anymore.

  3. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, +JK Rowling (UK) (audio)

  4. Chaos Choreography, Seanan McGuire (paper)

  5. Every Heart a Doorway, Seanan McGuire (paper)

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