Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Power of an Audience

Did a good job on my speech today. Although I'd practiced many times in front of the mirror and reading the speech to my empty living room, the performance jitters, combined with my material and a rapt audience, made the experience really intense.

I read an edited-down version of Fannie Lou Hamer's testimony for the Credentials Comittee of the 1964 Democratic National Convention. Hamer was a part of the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party, which had created a group of 66 delegates (44 regular and 22 alternate) who traveled to Atlantic City that year in order to be a part of the convention. Although many blacks had tried to participate as regular delegates, they were blocked by various means, and the delegation was all-white.

Her testimony is plainly worded and powerful. Fannie Lou Hamer recounts two instances of abuse (by State Highway Patrol officers and municipal police) of herself and other civil rights workers. It's the kind of thing that most of us are aware happened to people during the era, but standing up and reading it to my class was extremely powerful. As I said the words I'd read so often over the past few days, my voice began to shake, not from fear but emotion.

She closes, after describing a brutal beating at the hands of the Mississippi Highway Patrol, with this:

All of this on account of we want to register, to become first-class citizens.
And if the Freedom Democratic Party is not seated now, I question America.
Is this America, the land of the free and the home of the brave, where we have to sleep with our telephones off of the hooks because our lives be threatened daily, because we want to live as decent human beings, in America?

As I read this last part I struggled to keep tears back. It was a wonderful exercise, and I'm really gratified that I stuck with this piece (it was so different from other things people had chose, I wasn't sure it was appropriate). I'm thinking I should develop the intro more and see if there is somewhere I can give this as a speech! It would be a great thing to share.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Time to take pictures

Yep, looking over my pictures for 2007, I find that all of them are of stuff my boyfriend needed to take pictures of while his camera is in the shop (okay, there are some shared photos of a great dinner at the Arbat). This means I need to charge the batteries for the camera and start taking some pictures, stat!

In other news, I'm a freak about my school work. Adding up every assignment to see what my letter grade is so far. A's in both classes, whew. I know I'd be happier if I could handle a C (when it comes to math I have to), but I still look at the two B's on my transcript (Music Theory and Psychology) and feel bad. It is in my nature to want A's. Me and Lisa Simpson both. Sigh.

Back to school, I have to practice my speech tonight. It's Fannie Lou Hamer's testimony to the Credentials Committee at the Democratic National Convention in 1964. I have to figure out how long it is and where to cut it! Fun.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

The possibilities are endless

I've been watching a lot of Battlestar Galactica this weekend and I can't get over the redonkulous names the pilots on the show have.

I have some suggestions for new pilot nicknames:

Chicken Feet


Pizza Pizza


Fat Back



And that's just off the top of my head!

Saturday, January 27, 2007

blah blah blah

My sleep cycle is messed up, so here I am awake at 2 am instead of sleeping. It's too late and too cold in here to get anything done.

A few weeks ago I started keeping the thermostat set at 60 degrees (F) 24 hours a day. It gets chilly! The gas prices went up again on the first of January, and I can tell with my new bill, so I started at a good time. Since electric is cheaper, I'll likely just run my electric space heater more often. I was thinking of attempting to air dry my clothing too, but that might take way too long. We'll see.

I have tons of homework to do but I can't settle down enough to look at it. I feel so antsy! Difficult to concentrate. It will pass.


Anyhoodle, I haven't baked in a long time, so this morning (closer to sunrise) I'm going to bake. I'm thinking banana bread and some muffins. Berkshire muffins, maybe, because I've got leftover rice I can use in them. Otherwise maybe a batch of something similarly not-too-sweet. I've got some granny smith apples that are awfully tart, perhaps I'll use those in something. Oh, and some carrots just itching to be used up... I have a great recipe for carrot bran muffins!

Ah, I'm so ambitious for someone who can't ever get anything done... Back to the one day at a time plan.

One hour at a time. This hour, this minute, I'm going to get back into bed!

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

The balance

I'm on a new 'day at a time' plan, a very loosely structured plan to live in the moment and avoid the negative prognostication that sends me careening into paralysis. The gist of it is "one day at a time", which is a very common thing to hear people say, but not commonly practiced.

I know I've seen it in relation to Alcoholics Anonymous, and I've read it in books on living with depression, but it wasn't until last week that I felt myself living one day at a time. For me it is paring down my goals. Get up, take care of body, get to class, sleep. Make plans with people, have a good time (be present for socialization), and take time to relax. [Attempting to] clean house, keep nutritious food in fridge and cupboards and do laundry regularly (at least once a week) round out the must do list.

You notice that none of these are long term goals. When I say day at a time it does not preclude activities that are a part of long term goals - but right now I need to have the day-to-day taken care of. The support that I need is, of necessity, coming from ME, and paring down expectations is a great way to succeed*.

It feels weird to be so basic about things. But I feel fantastic when I can achieve these day-to- day goals and exceed my expectations. For example, it felt really good to get a 96% on my first Spanish exam. Of course, I'm expecting a 98% on the next one. But I digress.

I guess what I'm getting at is that if I were to look at the overall picture I'd feel pretty disappointed. Looking at acheivable daily/weekly goals is extremely helpful and I think as I continue on I will end up getting more done as I avoid the paralysis and zombification that I've been plagued by the past year or so. Things can only get better, so instead of lamenting that they aren't yet, I'm going to what I can to make them better now.

*Of course, the expectations of me from the outside are the same. I still have to pay my bills and show up to class, get course work in on time, etc. The change is with me - what I expect from myself. I'm allowed to do the bare minimum if that is all I can do on a really bad day, but I am expected to do it, and to get up and do it again the next day.

Monday, January 22, 2007

My Choice

Spurred on by the Blog for Choice project, I'm compelled to write about why I am "pro-choice".

Long before I was ever in the position to consider having an abortion myself, I was in favour of a woman choosing for herself. I had a lot of arguments for it, most of which I only discussed with people from 'my side' of the fence. Honestly I don't know what those were. I'd assume they all hinge on the fact that a woman is an autonymous human being able to choose what happens with her body. It terrifies me that the personhood of a living breathing human being with a long history and a life isn't a good enough reason for abortion access. Terrifies me, but angers me too that the embryo or fetus is conferred these personhood rights in place of the pregnant woman's.

Then, as now, I had little urge to discuss/argue this issue with people who disagree. There is nothing they could say which would change my mind, and I doubt I could change theirs. That said, I do think that people sharing personal stories of abortion can be very helpful - it lets us know what actual experiences of women are (yes, men are involved, and their stories are part of the mix, but they are not primary).

The times I was pregnant and caring for my two sons were some of the best in my life. Despite the lack of sleep and constant motion of caring for an infant, I was so happy to be there with them and the trials and tribulations of pregnancy were worth it. When I became pregnant in 2005, I knew right away that I could not continue the pregnancy or have a baby. Bf was not interested in being a father, and I could barely keep up with the children I already had. The 'irony' of the pregnancy was that it came on the eve of my getting an IUD, a 10-year birth control solution. I found out when I went in to get it. Ha. Ha. We weren't laughing. It was shock, mostly. Shock and worry.

It was an easier choice [to terminate] than I thought it would be. Knowing what I had already been through, how strained my financial and emotional resources were, I could make a good decision and make it fairly quickly. Not without struggle, but not the gut-wrenching decision some describe. I was lucky to have great health care providers throughout the process and physically recovered quickly (although the pregnancy hormones definitely through me for a loop - I think those on top of the stress I was already feeling prompted the psychological difficulties of the past 16 months). The procedure and the aftermath were not 'icky' or untenable. It was the best decision I could have made, and I'm glad to this day.

Although there are many 'what ifs' brought out when discussing it, I don't care to go into intricate shadings on abortion. So many want to say it's okay in some circumstances and not others (and there are many circumstances in which I personally might disagree with an abortion, but it's not my choice). If a woman can't or doesn't want to continue a pregnancy, it seems best that she doesn't.

I believe that women are people with rights that go beyond a wishful morality. I believe in choice.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Oh darn it anyways.

I'm frustrated and tired and haven't studied enough and have far too much anxiety about my school work and I feel so isolated and alone and this isn't the positive post I was wanting to write and darn it all.

The snow is beautiful, I feel like hell on cold toast and tomorrow will get worse before it gets better, but it's perhaps a small thing.

I can remember standing on the sidewalk a couple of blocks from my house, barefoot and desperately needing to pee while my ex husband was drinking and acting the fool and several cops were trying to coax him out of the house. It was warm out, but I really would have liked to have had my shoes. If I'd been a bit less frightened of him at the moment I fled from the house, I would have gotten in the car and driven someplace safe. With my shoes on.

God that really sucked.

So on the positive side of things, that's not happening.

Right now I feel so ... I don't even want to tell you, it's not pleasant.

Okay, I'm going to conjugate a verb.

Buenas noches.


I've never seen this before. Our current weather forcast from the National Weather Service:

What exactly is Freezing Fog?

It's really coming down out there, HUGE fluffy flakes of snow. I shoveled for 15 min and had to stop because my poor frostbitten fingers were screaming at me. I can't find any of the warm polarfleece mittens we had around last winter. Must search again!

Really wanted to get out to see Pan's Labyrinth today but that doesn't seem as though it will happen. I've got 20 block roundtrip journey out to get the 7 year old to a friend's house for an afternoon of sledding, and I'm guessing that will be quite an adventure. Thank goodness for the normal parents who help him have a regular childhood.

Have to go back to family court tomorrow which is unpleasant, but lucky me, I have the anxiety of small group presentation in Speech and my examen primo en espanol I to assauge the pain beforehand.

Now that my fingers are working again I can go look for the mittens and get back out to the snow!

Saturday, January 20, 2007


I am seriously challenged this morning. Sitting in the first of two Saturday classed on Couple relationships and wondering if I'm going to make it through. Extremely frustrated with the instructor, whose class I dropped out of 15 years ago because she rubbed me the wrong way then.

I'll tell the story later, but I checked my email and my daily horoscope made me laugh out loud:

You love a good competition just as much as the next person, but at times like this, you wonder what the point of it all is. Your healthy sense of the absurd leads you to explore deeper matters of the heart and soul.
So I've got to remember to live through this and laugh. It's only two Saturdays. I can make it.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

The new obsession

Same as the old one. Sort of.

Moving on from Steve Coogan (not really, I'm still a bit obsessed with him), I have finally watched "Little Britain". OMG. Fantastic.

I thought it was a large ensemble cast until I watched the making of feature and realize it is two insane men (David Walliams, who had a turn as performance artist Vulva on the fantastic series Spaced, and Matt Lucas) who play the bulk of the characters with a small supporting cast. Tom Baker does the narration and his wonderful voice gives even the most ridiculous lines some sort of gravitas. It's really silly but smart, and smutty but not in a distracting way, and the characters have grown on me after just a day. Plus David Walliams is very good looking. V. V.

There are three series (seasons to us in the U.S.) of the show on DVD and I'm anxious to see the rest. School has begun however, and I have two discs of "Battlestar Gallactica" to watch thanks to my friend Ted.

But school has begun again and I'm taking 19 credits this semester! The classes are spread out (I'll explain it some day), so the work load will be manageable, but the pace is going to be faster than last semester. At the end of it I will be able to speak a bit of Spanish, if all goes well.
Anyhow, the lots of homework I'm anticipating should make it a little bit difficult to get all of the telly and film watching I was looking forward to, but there's nothing I can't watch later, right? Right.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Children of Men

I'm not sure what to say about Children of Men. Short version: GO SEE IT. Long version: I give it 5 stars out of 5. Not without problems, it's a really interesting looking film, although bleak. Alfonso Cuarón seems to prefer that dark look.

Last night I started reading the forum for CoM over at IMDb and there were several "This movie is stupid" threads, complaining that it wasn't realistic and that the story wasn't well crafted. Particularly galling were the comments that the filmakers were just too lazy to explain all of the story points fully. I couldn't help wondering what movie these fool ass motherfuckers people had seen, because I was riveted from the beginning of the film. I held my boyfriend's hand for the final 40 minutes of the film in part to stop myself from sobbing loudly. It was suspenseful and scary*.

Also the music was good (bf especially enjoyed the King Crimson), and the costuming was nice, the art direction notable. I liked how things were imperfect, but not overly so (although the refugee camp scenes were so squallid it was overwhelming [yet probably not unrealistic]).

I've seen it mentioned that there were two scenes which were single-shot - bf noticed it as well. Since I haven't read details, I can't say much about it here. But the photography was amazing.

Highly recommended.

*And this is before mentioning any of the political/social stuff in the film, much of which was absolutely terrifying.

Sunday, January 14, 2007


I wish I had some words for how good I've felt this weekend.

It's been lovely.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

A vision of Faerie

Pictures I took at Olbrich Gardens at their Holiday Express show (large scale trains and this year Faeire Cottages!). Not enough trains, but the Faerie stuff made up for it. From the Olbrich website:

During Olbrich’s Holiday Express, members of the Wisconsin Garden Railway Society come from all over the state to show off their large-scale model trains. This year the model trains wind through whimsical faerie villages, complete with cottages, churches, and windmills, handmade by local artist Tatiana Katara. All the dwellings are creatively constructed of natural materials. Some houses have birch-bark siding, a chimney made of nuts, dried flower decorations, and bushes made of moss. Visit for more information about the faerie villages featured in the show.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

The Economics of Suicide

The Economics of Suicide

An interesting article from Slate. I have been thinking of studying suicide (if I persue Anthropology, perhaps studying it across cultures), if only to better understand my own suicidality. The author makes this incredibly astute observation:

Once you attempt suicide you suddenly have access to lots of resources—medical care, psychiatric attention, familial love and concern—that were previously expensive or unavailable. Doubters may ask why the depressed don't seek out resources earlier. But studies have demonstrated that psychological and familial resources become "cheaper" after a suicide attempt: It is difficult to find free medical care when you are sad, but once you try to kill yourself, it's forced on you.

The great talk therapy I receive now was available to me only because I had no insurance and no income. If I still had the insurance I got from my job, I would have long used up the benefit, providing I could pay the $35 a pop co pay. I do believe that this talk therapy has kept me alive and safe, and am terribly frightened of not having it available to me in the near future (it's coming up on a year and that might be the limit for therapy, I'm not sure).

I checked myself into the hospital last year to PREVENT a suicide attempt (which I was planning at the time). It is my opinion that I received less respect from my health care providers because I had not actually attempted, as well as much less after care from family, friends, and loved ones. It's really strange to think about, and it kept me awake last night. I was really angry about it this morning, which is probably a good thing. The more the anger is OUT of me, the less harmful it is.

The process of healing, and learning to mitagate my mood disorder (I don't think I will ever be 'fixed', just much better) is going to take much longer than I first anticipated. It's been more than a year and I'm still struggling. That sucks, but facing it seems better than pretending that I'm o.k. when I am not.

Three articles

Blind Photographer

On the study of Happiness

What world leaders could learn from Doctor Who

Sunday, January 07, 2007


Last night bf and I visited some friends of his, and came bearing Polish delights:

A bag of potato and cheese pierogi (I helped make them back in December)
A fresh kielbasa link
Some Polish soup in a jar
A jar of tasty carrot/cabbage salad (d'oh, forgot the name)
Tiny egg noodles
Can of obscene yet delicious Bacon and Pork loaf (think Spam with bacon in it, resting in a bed of downy white lard)

Before dinner I got to follow around a SUPER CUTE 3 year old girl and play My Little Pony with her, as well as admire her collection of Spiderman stuff.

After dinner we hung out and watched a Porcupine Tree concert DVD (bf and I saw them play last year the night after they finished a 2 day taping for said DVD), which was great! Porcupine Tree MUST come to WI on their next tour. They put on a great show.

I was falling asleep by the time we took off at 10:30, but a few minutes in the brisk night air woke me up. And I wanted a hamburger. I sold it as a pre-menstrual iron thing, and I feel fairly confident about that, but the dinner was actually quite light. I was hungry. [/rationalization]

Couldn't bring myself to eat at McDonalds, so we stopped at Woody's and picked up a few things. Some ground sirloin, buns, crumbled gorgonzola cheese and some fancy 'natural' french fries... I mixed some seasoned salt and about 1/3 C of the gorgonzola in with the sirloin, then cooked it on relatively low heat while the fries were in the oven. Everything turned out really well, the gorgonzola that didn't dissolve into the pan (note to self, put a layer of cheese *inside* the patty next time) was melted into delicious little pockets in the meat.

We ended up staying up until after 2am watching the final three episodes of Torchwood (BBC Doctor Who spinoff). The last two episodes scared the crap out of me, especially the last one.

I really can't wait to watch the Doctor Who Christmas Special!

More incredibly boring weekend tales can be told, personally very enjoyable moments in my life but not very interesting. Depression and zombification still present, but not winning. I feel better right now than when I posted last.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

I'm a zombie

If you've been reading long enough you will be aware of my 'mental health diagnosis'. Suffice to say I've got a mood disorder and this week I've been a super bed-clinging zombie woman. My body actually *hurts* from lying in bed.

Anyhow, 7 year old and I are hanging out this morning looking 'round the net and he spotted a user icon ala South Park, so we headed over to the (new and improved) South Park Studio, and I made a fairly accurate representation of myself this week.

Eerie. Missing glasses though. Otherwise, perfect. Oh, except the background. They don't have a bedroom background.


I'm in the mood for movies. This week I've seen two in the theater: The Prestige and The Fountain. Both were quite good, and coincidentally starred Hugh Jackman (to much better effect in Fountain than Prestige).

This weekend, perhaps, I'm going to catch Babel or Children of Men. Both look good.

At home this week I watched eXistenZ and 24 Hour Party People, as well as most of the ninth season of The Simpsons. And I read a book by Elmore Leonard.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007


I'm in a tongue-tied kind of mood. Don't know why.

Pictures of the end of the year to come sometime soon, bf has my camera so when he gets done taking pics of some stuff, we'll get those exciting pictures to you.

Now to eat more caramel corn (oh yeah, the weightloss thing is going really well).