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Sunday, April 29, 2007

Always Escaping by the Seat of their Pants...

You know those times on Battlestar Galactica where Adama tells the bridge to spin up the "FTL Drive"?  

My brain always hiccups on this, because I have to riffle through my mental files past "Fruit of The Loom" to get to "Faster Than Light."  

I know they're always escaping the Cylons by the seat of their pants, but still...

Friday, April 20, 2007

My Husband Believes this Explains my Love of Buffy and Veronica Mars

I went to college in the late 80's. A former friend from high school also went to the huge university I attended. He and I had had a nasty break in our senior year. He had been manipulative and controlling of me and others during our association, almost irreparably damaging a very dear friendship, not to mention trying to hurt the dear friend herself with a combination of emotional blackmail and outright larceny.  The way he treated those I loved and me proved he could be intentionally, casually cruel, and I had made it very clear I wanted nothing more to do with him. Attempting to re-establish contact with (read: "control over") me, he left me a signed, handwritten, threatening note in my residence hall mailbox in the first weeks of our freshman year.  He demanded that I listen to him (I had hung up on him when he called) and he informed me that if I did not respond within a set period of time, he "[knew] what could hurt [me] most." The campus cops' response? 

"We can't do anything until he does something else."

"What sort of 'something'?"

"Something more extreme than leaving a note."

"Are you saying you can't even go talk to him about this until he physically injures me?"


I have rarely felt more angry and more helpless in my life. I was a first-semester freshman: what "friendships" I had created were of the newly-made, fragile sort, and few (if any) believed me when I said I was frightened of this person. The apathy of the campus cops, the disbelief of my fellow freshmen, my rawness at living hundreds of miles away from home for the first time, all of these combined to make me feel very alone, isolated, and scared.

My story is fortunately anticlimactic. He didn't follow through on his threats (to be honest, I wasn't sure what he meant when he said he knew what could hurt me most - not that I wanted to find out), but I spent a lot of energy looking over my shoulder and paying attention to where I was and who I was with for some time (in doing so, I learned there is a vast gulf between being prudently aware of your surroundings and feeling hunted).

Would he ever have done anything? Was he really the sort to snap and actually injure somebody, or just a controlling creep with a penchant for mind games? I don't know. I am glad that my story does have such a narratively weak ending, but that weak ending somehow doesn't diminish the anger I can still feel about that event in my life and how it was handled by so-called "authority" figures.  Stalking laws may not have been in place then, but there's a lot more latitude on a college campus than in normal civic life.  I believe that more could have been be done.  Also, unfortunately, have a really hard time believing that things have changed all that much.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Return to Negative Space

Back when this blog was new, I wrote an entry about the concept of negative space.  At the time, I was thinking about how the outlines of a job (or even a career) can give a shape and a form to a person as they are viewed from the outside, but how misleading that form may be.  As I was unemployed at the time, I was also thinking about how being unemployed both gives an impression and lacks an impression at the same time.  There is a bit of a void there - no tidy answers to "what are you?" and a host of potential assumptions (many of them negative) about "who are you?"  

I had a conversation the other day with Marie, and she commented that it didn't look like I had been knitting lately.  "Actually, I have," I answered, and mentioned I had various projects on the needles, a springtime Ribby Cardi about to be complete, several socks ready to warm cold feet, etc.  Engrossing projects, all of them, I just hadn't felt much like writing about them.  There's a whole lot of my life that isn't out here on the 'net.  

I started thinking again about negative space, and how a blog can create that sense as well.  Eunny talks about it here also: 

I put very, very little of my personal life up here, and it always sort of astonishes me to see the kind of assumptions people can make and what sometimes seem like disproportionate reactions. I can see, though, how and why that happens - so if I can't learn from it, I just try to shut my eyes (besides, what can you do? You can feel sick for a minute and then try to get over it, or beat yourself up, or try to fix it or backpedal or retaliate and make a bigger mess all around. The first option leaves the smallest footprint - I'll take it).

I have far more of my life here, but I think that if the sum total of my personality and life experience was what is available for public perusal in this forum, I would be living a pretty empty life.  I haven't had the sort of wholesale assumptions made about me in my comments that Eunny and others I have witnessed have had, but I have had my words twisted to the worst light in another thread I don't frequent so often anymore, and the assumptions that had to be made about who I was in order to complete that verbal wrenching made me out as a pretty callous, awful being.  It's why I don't enter many heated online arguments - the temptation by some to fashion a Guy Fawkes dummy in your likeness, put words in "your" mouth, thoughts in "your" head, and make this newly-created straw avatar dance like a leering, slobbering buffoon are too tempting for some, and I don't have the stomach for it. 

The last thing that got me thinking in this vein is the news.  I don't write much about current events, either - it doesn't mean I don't talk about them or think about them.  I simply feel others talk about them far more eloquently than I could.  But I do feel horror and sorrow when tragedy strikes, even if my pixellated outline doesn't show it.

Take care of yourselves and your loved ones, readers.

Monday, April 16, 2007

A Fresh Squeeze of Botulism

Brian is in town, doing yeoman duty by taking pictures of engaged couples in some pretty photography-unfriendly weather.  A tree is down on John's route to work, having taken power lines with it, and it looks like it will be closed for some time.  We're all up and roaming about in our little house, lining up at the coffee maker, watching the wind wave the trees about like so many blades of grass (I am so glad we took the big trees down), and watching the local news, which John likes in the morning.  A trippy psychedelic orange juice commercial plays in the background, when suddenly Brian says, "A fresh squeeze of botulism?"

Good morning, sir - would you like ptomaine with your eggs?

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

No, I was Kidding - Really!

I have a bad habit of doing something with language that is intended to be joking, and all too often comes across as tiresome.  Those who know me well give me a pass when I do it (mostly) or play along (sometimes), but occasionally it just gets me into trouble.

I was recently called by a senior colleague who said he had some "conundrums" for me to figure through.

"Conundra?"  I replied brightly, realizing about 0.07 seconds after it came out of my mouth that I must have sounded like I was trying to correct him.  In point of fact, I have no idea if it's correct or not,* and was trying to make an (admittedly lame) joke.  Luckily, about 2.03 seconds after I started apologizing for sounding like a pedantic jerk, he remembered who he was talking to and lobbed back, "Conundrae?"  Whereupon we had a speed round of "Made up Latin Declensions."

I really should stop doing it, though.  Otherwise I'm sure to land in the hell that is this situation more often than I already do.

*After reading this, I'm still not sure, but Guardian readers do get terrifically overheated about the issue.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

From the Files

I had saved these photos from before Christmas of last year - surprises, you know.  In my Christmas knitting frenzy, I knit some Fuzzy Feet - a lovely green pair for my mum:

Mom's fuzzy feet

I also learned that when you make Fuzzy Feet, it's damn near impossible not to put them on your Shetland Sheepdog, which tends to embarrass said Sheltie:

Slightly embarrassed

Really embarrass the Sheltie:

Very embarrassed

Until he decides to live the dream and says, "YEAH, I ROCK the footwear!"


And, um... then I took them off the dog and felted them and gave them to my mum.