clevermynnie: (see us waving)
I am in the airport, and had to leave so early to get here, and am shifting so many time zones over, that it seemed to make sense to just not sleep until I am on a plane. At least, several hours ago that made sense.

I'm going to San Francisco to give a talk at a conference, and that is exciting. I did a practice talk for my boss which went pretty well, and while there are some nerves because this is the first time I've presented research from this group, it's a nice feeling that overall I know how to put together a good research talk. Also, obviously I know some people in the Bay Area still, and will be doing what visiting I have time for, so that is good. I haven't been back in four years, and loved the Bay Area but who knows how it will feel now.

After that I'm going to San Antonio to visit friends and run a race, and after that I should really have a vacation where I do nothing at all. Just sit under a tree and fall asleep, that would be great.

My uncle Ted, who was terminally ill a month ago when I visited, has now passed on. It's sad, and my uncle was great and I will miss him. It makes me miss family, but also family is complicated.


Nov. 1st, 2012 10:58 am
clevermynnie: (al fresco)
When I was starting the sixth grade, my mom and I went to the animal shelter and got two Siamese-looking kittens. They were both pretty amazing and wonderful cats, and one of them, Kitsune, died a little less than a year ago. Well, my mom let me know that the second cat, Kaji, has now passed away too. He had some health issues in his later years, but my mom took really wonderful care of him. I'm really sad he is gone, but happy that he had such a long and nice life (he was 18). Here is a picture from a visit home a few years back, and if you have cats please hug them.



Jun. 7th, 2012 08:57 am
clevermynnie: (see us waving)
I was very distraught to hear that Ray Bradbury died, though he did live a long and pretty great life. I think his essay in the current sci-fi issue of the New Yorker may be the last thing he published. For a long time after reading Fahrenheit 451 in high school, I kept a bookmark onto which I had copied the following quote:

Stuff your eyes with wonder, live as if you'd drop dead in ten seconds. See the world. It's more fantastic than any dream made or paid for in factories. Ask no guarantees, ask for no security, there never was such an animal. And if there were, it would be related to the great sloth which hangs upside down in a tree all day every day, sleeping its life away. To hell with that, shake the tree and knock the great sloth down on his ass.


Mar. 31st, 2012 09:36 am
clevermynnie: (al fresco)
A poet I have enjoyed for a long time, Adrienne Rich, died this last week. She wrote a lot of beautiful poems, especially about women, though it seems she also had a problematic relationship to trans-ness. I'm sad at her passing even if she had a complicated legacy. Since I have already posted my favorite poem by her, here is another one.

Diving into the Wreck

First having read the book of myths,
and loaded the camera,
and checked the edge of the knife-blade,
I put on
the body-armor of black rubber
the absurd flippers
the grave and awkward mask.
I am having to do this
not like Cousteau with his
assiduous team
aboard the sun-flooded schooner
but here alone.

There is a ladder.
The ladder is always there
hanging innocently
close to the side of the schooner.
We know what it is for,
we who have used it.
it is a piece of maritime floss
some sundry equipment.

I go down.
Rung after rung and still
the oxygen immerses me
the blue light
the clear atoms
of our human air.
I go down.
My flippers cripple me,
I crawl like an insect down the ladder
and there is no one
to tell me when the ocean
will begin.

First the air is blue and then
it is bluer and then green and then
black I am blacking out and yet
my mask is powerful
it pumps my blood with power
the sea is another story
the sea is not a question of power
I have to learn alone
to turn my body without force
in the deep element.

And now: it is easy to forget
what I came for
among so many who have always
lived here
swaying their crenellated fans
between the reefs
and besides
you breathe differently down here.

I came to explore the wreck.
The words are purposes.
The words are maps.
I came to see the damage that was done
and the treasures that prevail.
I stroke the beam of my lamp
slowly along the flank
of something more permanent
than fish or weed

the thing I came for:
the wreck and not the story of the wreck
the thing itself and not the myth
the drowned face always staring
toward the sun
the evidence of damage
worn by salt and sway into this threadbare beauty
the ribs of the disaster
curving their assertion
among the tentative haunters.

This is the place.
And I am here, the mermaid whose dark hair
streams black, the merman in his armored body.
We circle silently
about the wreck
we dive into the hold.
I am she: I am he

whose drowned face sleeps with open eyes
whose breasts still bear the stress
whose silver, copper, vermeil cargo lies
obscurely inside barrels
half-wedged and left to rot
we are the half-destroyed instruments
that once held to a course
the water-eaten log
the fouled compass

We are, I am, you are
by cowardice or courage
the one who find our way
back to this scene
carrying a knife, a camera
a book of myths
in which
our names do not appear.

--Adrienne Rich


Aug. 22nd, 2011 06:45 pm
clevermynnie: (Default)
I drove up to Maine on Thursday with Ben, my dad, and my uncle.


We saw my cousin and his wife there, and also my great aunt; everyone was a lot of fun, and we ate too much lobster, made a lot of bad jokes, and generally enjoyed each other's company. The drive was long but not too bad, especially since my uncle is as into music as I am, so we were playing interesting artists and songs for each other in the car.

The reason we were actually able to get so much family in one place at one time was to scatter the ashes of my other uncle, who died earlier this year. I have to say, scattering ashes is in many ways inherently comical, so it's good that my uncle had a sense of humor. We went out to Land's End, at the rocky end of Bailey Island, to commit my uncle's physical remains to the sea without getting too much of him on our pants. I'll miss him.



Jul. 19th, 2011 10:07 am
clevermynnie: (Default)
I am glad to be living in the Internet age for two main reasons: easy access to information, which I find viscerally satisfying and make great use of, and easy communication with other people. Of course, keeping in touch with people is made easy, like how much I interact with my parents online, how great it was to have easy access to Ben when we were long distance, how easy it is to write to old friends who are far and farther from me.

But it's also interesting to think about the connections we forge with other people, that aren't based on location or convenience but rather shared interests or modes of thinking. Livejournal is of course a prime example of this; while I have a few lj friends that I knew in real life first, or met later on, many of you that I haven't met I nonetheless enjoy reading about and care what happens to you. Another example is World of Warcraft, where I've been part of a stable raiding guild for almost four years, have spent many hours talking with and working on problems with my guildies, and met several in real life. When I first joined my guild I was shy and worried about what the atmosphere would be like, but since I lucked into the most amazing group of people running the guild, I eventually opened up and got a lot out of my interactions with people there. I got more responsibility, which has had countless experiences that were great or terrible... I have been wanting to talk about that in another post. But so much of what has kept me in the guild, beyond the simple joys of escapism and the more complex joys of problem-solving, is the people I know there.

So it was a big shock, yesterday, to learn that one of my guildies had died. She had joined us about six months ago, in part following in-game friends she'd known for many years, and was part of our active raiding group meaning that we all spent 12 hours a week at minimum together. She died in her sleep from heart issues, despite being relatively young for such a thing.

It really makes one appreciate the depth of the online relationships we develop with other people, and the cohesion of the communities that spring up. In the end, there is such a breadth of people to talk to and learn from, and we are so fortunate to have access to each other.
clevermynnie: (al fresco)
The Cold Heaven

Suddenly I saw the cold and rook-delighting heaven
That seemed as though ice burned and was but the more ice,
And thereupon imagination and heart were driven
So wild that every casual thought of that and this
Vanished, and left but memories, that should be out of season
With the hot blood of youth, of love crossed long ago;
And I took all the blame out of all sense and reason,
Until I cried and trembled and rocked to and fro,
Riddled with light. Ah! when the ghost begins to quicken,
Confusion of the death-bed over, is it sent
Out naked on the roads, as the books say, and stricken
By the injustice of the skies for punishment?

--William Butler Yeats

Final Soliloquy of the Interior Paramour

Light the first light of evening, as in a room
In which we rest and, for small reason, think
The world imagined is the ultimate good.

This is, therefore, the intensest rendezvous.
It is in that thought that we collect ourselves,
Out of all the indifferences, into one thing:

Within a single thing, a single shawl
Wrapped tightly round us, since we are poor, a warmth,
A light, a power, the miraculous influence.

Here, now, we forget each other and ourselves.
We feel the obscurity of an order, a whole,
A knowledge, that which arranged the rendezvous.

Within its vital boundary, the mind.
We say God and the imagination are one...
How high that highest candle lights the dark.

Out of this same light, out of the central mind,
We make a dwelling in the evening air,
In which being there together is enough.

--Wallace Stevens


Jun. 10th, 2008 01:37 pm
clevermynnie: (I see beauty)
I came home to a punch in the gut today, finding that someone who was for a while a good friend of mine that I lost touch with had committed suicide over the weekend.

Read more... )

Her death would be a tragedy no matter what, since she was young and kind and funny and had a life ahead of her. But that it was a suicide makes it worse, for me at least, because it indicates the extent of her suffering. I feel deep sorrow that we lost touch, because even if it may have made no difference I wish I could have tried to help.
clevermynnie: (see us waving)
Hey [ profile] chickyboo, [ profile] sirista... Amanda Ferm's mother just died.

on 9/11

Sep. 11th, 2006 05:37 pm
clevermynnie: (al fresco)
My thinking on this has, like most people's, evolved a lot over the last few years. It's fluttered through all sorts of feelings and emotions, through examinations of freedom of religion and whether profiling is helpful or not, through examinations of freedom of speech, through the questions of when, if ever, the ends justify the means. I feel clear on two points.

The first is an echo of things I've said before, that terrorism is a hateful thing, based on a system of values that deserves nothing but contempt. It's true, in some cases, that people turned to terrorism such as the Palestinians are often coming from extremely desperate circumstances, and have had everything taken from them. Or alternately, the Israelis (who I feel are equally guilty of mass civilian slaughter), who are trying to defend what they feel is their home in a sea of hostility and danger. We must have empathy for that, and lapses born of desperation should be expected. But they are not justified. But when we see hurtful systems of values being adopted elsewhere and being used to hurt us, I think it's essential to first examine our own behavior to look for our own ethical lapses. Where have we committed the same mistakes? Where have we invented our own? We must be sure we are acting faithfully on our own principles beforing accusing anyone else. And I think it's critical in fighting terrorists that we stand by our moral code. Abandoning free speech, abandoning right to trial, abandoning any of our own rights or the rights of others, which we assert are universal, kills the thing we seek to defend. I still believe something I said a time ago that when a person acts towards destruction of life, that person's life is forfeit. But that does not mean we should take it, and break our own code.

The second point concerns the loss, the hurt, the tremendous waste. There's a feature in the New York Times right now that talks about families who lost someone; apparently they did a profile 1 year after and have now done a second for many families. You can read a few, and they're interesting, but what's amazing and terrible is to see how many profiles they've done, and realize how small a fraction that is of all the people who were hurt by what happened. Have you seen Munich"? It's well-executed and very disturbing, and I highly recommend it. And after you see it, most probably you'll be moved to feel the way I do, that all this fighting is mostly a terrible waste. I think one always has to realize that whenever a person takes an action, they have from their point of view all the reason in the world to take that action, and from their perspective they are being reasonable, just, and caring. And it's terrible to think, isn't it, about some of the worldviews necessary for the actions we've seen in recent years, both from the Muslim extremists and from our own government. It's foolish to say we shouldn't defend ourselves, but equally foolish to do so in a way that wastes life and hurts our own cause.

It's to the point where I can barely listen to world news any more. I'm not sure what's to be done, other than vote and keep pushing the world with my own small strength in the direction I want it to go.
clevermynnie: (I see beauty)
To be honest, the last week has been kind of overwhelming. There's getting into graduate school, which has given me unspeakable joy. There's my grandmother's death and the ensuing family drama, which I want to write about but not right now, which has given me sadness and anger. Ben heard from his first graduate school too today; he got into Penn, which is awesome. I have high hopes for my chances with Penn. We'll see.

Anyhow, notable events of the past week include:

the portuguese restaurant )

the rosicrucian egyptian museum )

world of warcraft )

russia: leningrad and east-west )

I really like this whole having-free-time thing. It's fun.
clevermynnie: (see us waving)
My conference proceedings paper is mostly done, being passed around the SNAP CCD group for editing. It's due Friday. Then I have to write the slightly longer paper for TNS, which will be pickier and more complete. So I'm working light this week, spending most of my time at home, studying for the physics GRE and taking occasional breaks for Farscape.

This reviewing isn't so bad... I don't mind learning the formulae so much now, it's just tedious and a bit high-pressure. I know that if I do badly, it'll be fine, but I'd rather go blasting into graduate admissions committee meetings (personified by my application, that is), guns blazing, completely ready. I feel like I have something to live up to now.

Isn't it funny how what bothers me most about my gran'dad dying is the feeling that I wanted to prove myself to him? I guess that right now I have this burning desire for vindication, especially to everyone who believe(d/s) in me. In terms of his life, he was very lucky. It's pretty cool, actually, he donated his body for science and it's rather good because he had that rare, aggressive cancer, sarcoma, and it will help them a lot to have more ways to study it.

I feel less prone to despair when bad things happen than I was a few months ago. I had a hard time picking myself up out of that 'everything that happens to me is horrible' mindset that I got into after grad school stuff in the spring, and it's like now I have a hard time getting myself into it. It's great. It doesn't mean I'll skip into the physics GRE, score very highly, and then frolic back outside, but it means I'm less freaked out about everything now. Which is relieving. I remember panic, despair, and being overwhelmed, and it's a lot easier to do all this stuff without them.
clevermynnie: (Default)
My gran'dad died this morning, in his sleep.

He lived a very long life, to 82, and was happy and exploring for nearly all of it. He wasn't in a lot of pain, never lost real control of his faculties, and went peacefully even though there was the potential for a long, drawn-out death.

He believed in me, in the most sincere way, and it hurt me to have to tell him when I didn't get into graduate school. When I daydreamed about telling people that I got in somewhere fantastic, I knew he would have been the most proud. I regret that he won't see that.


clevermynnie: (Default)

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