jazzfish: a black-haired man with a big sword. blood stains the snow behind (Eddard Stark)
ETA: To clarify: as things stand, I seem to be on an upswing. I can tell it's not permanent, there are things that need to reassess and change. But it's not as bad as it may seem. You can tell by how I'm willing to talk about it, for instance.

cw: suicide talk )
jazzfish: Jazz Fish: beret, sunglasses, saxophone (Default)
Five things, etc.



I strongly suspect us writers will be moved out of our current office soon. I've gotten used to it, despite the temperature quirks. I like being away from open-plan hell, and the view of downtown and the mountains makes me happier than almost anything else about work. Oh well.



Since I've been living in apartments I've been using hand-me-down vacuum cleaners from my parents: first a big blue Electrolux canister, then when that died a brown Hoover pushvac. The Hoover was heavy, clunky, and way more vacuum than necessary, and I've been talking for years about getting a replacement. Haven't been able to justify the purchase based on the amount of vacuuming there is to do, though. That's reached its natural peak in the current place, which has no carpeting at all.

Finally, on advice from Erin, I got myself/the house a Dyson stick vac for Xmas. It is amazing. It's light, it's fast, it replaces sweeping, and it even works alright on the one rug we brought with us. I hesitate to say it's changed my life but it has certainly had a positive influence on the housekeeping and the amount of cat litter scattered around.



I get to see ... hm. "One-quarter of my favorite band, plus one." Girlyman used to be my favorite band, but they went their separate ways about four years ago. For Ty, 'separate ways' included putting out a solo album, then getting married and forming a duet with her wife, Mouths of Babes. And they're playing in the Seattle area in a few weeks, and I'll get to see them at least once. /Possibly/ twice, but probably not.



The apartment is gradually getting into some kind of usable shape. All the games and books, with the exception of the books in the Last Damn Box, are on shelves. Most of the shelves are where they're going to stay. The second bedroom is still a wreck, and there are about a dozen white boxes still hanging out in the main area. It's livable, though.



Me? I'm doing alright. I'm back to viola on a somewhat regular basis. Writing is less frequent but still regular, and I might finally have a draft of this story by the end of the month. It's incredibly useful to have things that I can point to and say "this is part of who I am," particularly right now while I'm contemplating several kinds of major life upheaval.

... to the extent that that last wants talking about at all, a public DW post is not the place.

Last fall, and the move, and xmas, were all both good and highly stressful. I survived them all and I'm better for it. I'm curious to see what spring will bring, and what I'll bring to it.
jazzfish: Jazz Fish: beret, sunglasses, saxophone (Default)
I don't really think of the new year as much of a new anything. Nothing changes, except on the calendar. No real external markers. To the left, it's as convenient a "where i'm at" marker as anything is.

hence, where i'm at. )
jazzfish: Jazz Fish: beret, sunglasses, saxophone (Default)
[personal profile] siderea observes that it may be time to consider leaving Livejournal (ironically, post is only avaible on LJ, at least right now). Short form: LJ is now based entirely in Russia, not just owned by Russians, and there appear to be political purges of journals already going on.

I wholeheartedly recommend Dreamwidth as an alternative. I find it to be like LJ but less deliberately frustrating. [personal profile] rebelsheart offers a guide to leaving LJ for DW.

For now at least, I'll continue to live primarily at DW and crosspost to LJ. We shall see what, if anything, changes in the next few months.

onward

Dec. 29th, 2016 09:27 am
jazzfish: a black-haired man with a big sword. blood stains the snow behind (Eddard Stark)
The sceptre, learning, physick, must
All follow this, and come to dust.
--Wm. Shakespeare, "Cymbeline"
My family moved to the DC area for the first time in 1983, when I was starting second grade. Being who we were the first thing we did was find a church. The one we ended up at, St Stephens UMC, had a round (octagonal, but whatever) sanctuary rather than the standard two-columns-of-pews arrangement, which was neat. It also had a great pipe organ, and a white-haired organist who I can't recall ever not being there.
Steel on the skyline
Sky made of glass
Made for a real world
All things must pass
--David Bowie, "Heathen (The Rays)"
We left DC in '86 but still occasionally came to services at St Stephens. When we moved back in '91 we started going again. I got more involved with the church for a few years: ushering, youth group, that sort of thing. I was never on more than nodding acquaintance with the organist, which I can tell by how his name sticks in my mind as "Bob Layne" rather than "Mr Layne," but he was as much a fixture as the round sanctuary or Mr Prosser the head usher. (More so than the preacher; Methodists tend to change preachers every few years, to avoid the situation where the guy who's been in the pulpit for decades up and dies and nobody trusts the new preacher until he's been there five or ten years.)
There's flowers now on Linn Street, and a new moon just above
They tore down all the houses where we used to make love
But they'd been long abandoned when we went there, anyway
And I can still smell the lilacs in the corner of the Dream Café
--Greg Brown, "Dream Café"
I drifted away from the church over the course of several years but I still went back on occasion to see people. After all, these were the only non-relations I'd known for longer than five years, then ten. Always, every time I went back, Bob Layne was at the organ, looking exactly like I remembered him.
Yet all things come in time to die.
--Graydon Saunders, "A Succession of Bad Days"
As you might have expected from the fact that I'm writing this, he's gone now, along with Mr Prosser and the round sanctuary and my perception of the church as a loving and welcoming place. (That last took a mortal blow twenty years ago when they fired one of their best and most-loved people with no notice, on suspicion of homosexuality. It hung on for awhile but never made anything like a recovery.) Bob Layne's death doesn't mean anything, but I guess it symbolises quite a lot.
For a word to be spoken, there must be silence. Before, and after.
--Ursula K. Le Guin, "A Wizard of Earthsea"
Addendum: "Robert Lee Layne." For fuck's sake, treason-in-defence-of-slavery apologists.
The past is never dead. It's not even past.
--William Faulkner, "Requiem for a Nun"
jazzfish: a black-haired man with a big sword. blood stains the snow behind (Eddard Stark)
(Written a day late, due to having no internet at home.)

"We did everything I thought we were going to do, and it was still not what I'd expected."

That's not entirely true; we didn't stay up all night to make sure the sun came up. Other than that, though. Seems an accurate abstract for the relationship as a whole.

We did wake around fiveish, and watched the sunrise while pouring an awful lot of orange-blossom honey for a Solstice intention mead. We bottled just shy of twelve gallons of booze and ate olives and drank rose lemonade and talked a great deal about relationships past and future.
We have believed too long
in the impersonal inevitable, but the truth is
the sun does not come up without us;
if the arc bends, it is because hands pull it.
--[personal profile] siderea, "The Longest Night"
In the midst of all the greater awfulness it feels plausible, this year, that the light will come back. Is coming back.
jazzfish: Jazz Fish: beret, sunglasses, saxophone (Default)
Tonight I'm celebrating Solstice with Erin. I am historically not much for celebrations as such but this one feels important and significant.

Tomorrow I may or not have anything coherent to say for Sunreturn. Overall, though, I feel like things are moving forward, out of the aimless flailing of the last month or two and towards something at least temporarily stable. (Stability, like permanence, is an illusion of scale.)

The great move is complete, thanks to Tranquility Movers, as recommended by Erin ("movers by day, metal band by night"), and more thanks to Erin and Julianne for showing up to help [personal profile] uilos and me get the place into some semblance of order. Most bookcases and most furniture are where they're going to end up; will see how many spare bookcases we actually end up with. The programmable thermostat took substantially longer (and more people) to figure out than it maybe should have but I believe the living room will now hold steady at 20C.

That evening I ordered Indian from what I'm told is one of the best places on the Drive and we watched Spirited Away, which I may have not seen since it was in theatres. Quite enjoyable.

So now ... we have a place. It manages to somehow look much more spacious once we get our stuff into it, bookcases and furniture and all. I don't think it's forever but it's alright for now.

condo get

Dec. 14th, 2016 02:19 pm
jazzfish: a fairy-door in a tree, caption $900/MONTH + UTILITIES (The Vancouver rental market)
Well. We took possession of the new place on Sunday, and saw it for the first time since the inspection in mid-October. And also saw it empty of other people's stuff for the first time.

It is mostly a little better than I remembered. I'm mildly annoyed by the medium-shade wood floor but only mildly; ditto the light blue walls in the living room. The kitchen's a tad roomier than I'd thought.

Some things are a little worse. The closets have been filled with awkward wire shelving instead of a normal hanging dowel rod. There are stupid mirrored wardrobes anchored to the wall in the master bedroom; two of those have been relocated. There's some ongoing discussion about whether to relocate the other two as well. The much-touted patio is a little smaller than anticipated. There seem to be small elephants children upstairs, and a wood-frame building means we'll get to hear them. Hoping that doesn't also mean we get to hear people going to bed above us. Maybe they'll have decent carpeting in the bedroom.

There's a stone head lying next to the gate to the patio. Between that and the plaster head that we're planning to hang in the hall, this house may be the Maison Defarge.

It's mildly interesting to compare where we ended up with the list of requirements that I sent to Rhonda back in August:
Location requirements:
  • Near (<10min walk) to groceries
  • Near (<10min walk) to Skytrain or a very reliable bus
  • In (<5min walk) an Interesting Neighborhood
Entirely successful. Grandview was our first choice of neighborhood. It's a little more than ten minutes' walk to the main Skytrain stop; I'll forgive it that, since the walk's pretty flat and has the choice of "interesting" or "quiet and tree-lined."
Housing requirements:
  • Under $650,000
  • Allows two cats.
  • Two bedrooms, both of which can comfortably fit a queen-sized bed and one of which can fit two dressers (or one with lots of closet space)
  • A balcony (small is okay), or at least a sunroom
  • Wall-space for bookcases
All successful. The queen bed is a little tight in the second bedroom and there's not quite as much bookcase-space as we might have wanted. Instead of a balcony we got a patio, which I think is an improvement.
Housing effectively-requirements:
  • Dishwasher and in-suite laundry. Not a requirement if everything else is perfect and there's room for a portable dishwasher/washer/dryer.
  • 850 sqft. Not a requirement, but given the bedroom and bookcase requirements, it may as well be.
Ha. Missed both of these. The place is pretty intelligently laid-out, which makes the 836 sqft acceptable (just). The lack of insuite laundry counts as one of the few things that may drive us nuts.
Housing nice-to-haves:
  • Under $625,000
  • Low-rise (six floors or smaller)
  • Windows that can make a crossbreeze
  • Den/office/third bedroom
  • Storage room, either in the unit or elsewhere in the building
  • Gas stove
  • Gas fireplace
  • Windows that slide open rather than hinging open
  • Built-in window screens
  • Overhead lighting / ceiling fans
  • Built-in microwave
  • Large bathtub
  • Allows barbecues
  • Not south-facing
About half:
  • There's no crossbreeze, which may be deathly in the summer; no way to tell until July.
  • The storage room is referred to on the floorplan as a "den" but is basically unusable for the purpose.
  • There's no gas, which makes me sad.
  • There's overhead lighting ... but the fixtures are set towards the backs of the rooms to maximise light during the day, which means that ceiling fans aren't an option unless we move the fixtures (ugh).
  • There's no built-in microwave or large bathtub. Redoing the kitchen cabinets is very high on the priority list, and we can get a microwave then; redoing the bathroom is a much larger project and will be undertaken next fall if we decide we're serious about staying here.
  • It's south facing ... but there are a lot of trees, which will hopefully mitigate the oppressive summer heat, and this place isn't a glass greenhouse like the last two.
Curiously absent from that list, in retrospect, is "A second bathroom," which is also lacking.

We move in next Monday. Ask me again in a month but I think we'll be reasonably happy there.
jazzfish: a black-haired man with a big sword. blood stains the snow behind (Eddard Stark)
It's snowing.

It snowed once last winter[1], about this time. Traces of white on the grass and sidewalks in the morning, all gone by lunchtime. I don't think there's actually been a winter without any snow at all yet but the past few have been about like that.

13/14 had a really good snow, and 11/12 had the snowfall where I got to play native guide for [livejournal.com profile] papersky and Z. 09/10 was DC's Snowpocalypse, season of my heart, a reprieve from all the personal horror of that winter and spring.

It wasn't snowing in New West, which is why I didn't wear my fuzzy black boots. I got to break out my most excellent winter coat, at least. (Nice heavy dark-grey wool. Near as I can tell it's mostly an Ulster coat, though without cuffs or patch pockets and with only a decorative half-belt.) I rode the skytrain in through occasional stops and starts, and got off at ComBroad to catch the #99 B-line, my usual bus.

The bus line wound back into and through the station.

"Guess I'll take the slower less-crowded #9," I said.

The line for that one was around the block.

I grumbled a bit and got in the 99 line. Stood there for about five minutes while it failed to move at all (unusual; there's usually a 99 every two or three minutes).

Eventually I got tired of waiting and turned to the girl[2] behind me. "Where are you headed?"

"Um, school. Arbutus and 10th."

"I'm going to Oak and 8th. Want a ride?"

"... Sure."

So we walked a couple of blocks to the nearest car2go. I could have done without the slush (blame the lack of boots) but there is something deeply intoxicating about walking through a snowfall in a good winter coat and a hat. We crossed the bridge over the lower half of the skytrain station and it was unspeakably beautiful. The old train depot in New West does this in the snow as well but that's, you know, brick and slate-looking roof and generally appealing architecture. I hadn't expected a transit station and train tracks to hit me like that. But there it was: gently arched glass, steel rails, and a tranquil fluff of white covering the whole.

The drive in was remarkably pleasant. At least at eight in the morning there weren't enough drivers to make for any kind of traffic, and Broadway's flat and straight for most of its length. I stayed cautious and alert and mostly (mostly) didn't spill my tea all over. At red lights I got to marvel at the small drifts and at how much happer I get when the city's half blanketed like this.

We passed more fire trucks than buses. I have no idea why so few of the buses were running.

And now I'm at work, with terrible tea. At least it's warm. At least I can still watch the snow falling outside.



[1] To the devil with your ridiculous astronomical seasons, beginning on the solstices/equinoxes. I am mostly on board with meterological seasons that start on the first of the month containing the solstice/equinox. Erin has been lobbying, unsuccessfully so far, for the cross-quarter seasons, so that Midwinter is actually, you know, in the middle of winter.

[2] I use the word "girl" advisedly. I would have bet cash money that she was at least a college student, but no; eleventh grade.
jazzfish: a black-haired man with a big sword. blood stains the snow behind (Eddard Stark)
It's no exaggeration to say that I never expected to see forty.

In elementary school I remember reading an article in, o, probably 3-2-1-Contact, that opened with "What will life be like in the year 2000?" That seemed unimaginably far-off at the time. I counted it out and realised that I'd be twenty-three-turning-twenty-four that year, which didn't make it any closer.

Birthdays mostly don't register for me. Having a birthday right around Yanksgiving means there hasn't been much point in trying to celebrate since elementary school: people are always off partying with their families. Some friends threw a surprise party for me on my eighteenth, and at least once when I lived in McLean [personal profile] uilos got a bunch of people to call and wish me happy birthday, both of which were pretty cool.

In general, though, milestones don't signify. I'm the same on both sides. I turned eighteen and was still stuck in the same house for another year, I turned thirty and that didn't make "29" any less relevant.

There was no particular reason I should have made it as far as forty. No reason not to, most of the time, just ... no overriding need to have drifted that far downstream. And yet.
A man's still got his strength at forty. He knows most of what he's going to learn, and he's got the strength to put it to good use.
--Terry Brooks, "Magic Kingdom For Sale -- Sold!"
I first read Magic Kingdom sometime in late elementary school. It felt thin, even at that age, but it was a lot of fun watching Ben Holliday traipse around his new kingdom, trying to be the best king he could be. Too, I was amused that I had a pretty good idea of where the portal to Landover was located, a couple hours' drive from my previous house.

And Meeks's quote above stuck with me, for no reason that I can possibly explain.

I'm not even sure I believe it, either. I certainly hope I don't know most of what I'm going to learn. Far too many things I don't know yet, in both the "neat facts" and "handling situations" senses. As for strength ... my hearing has been getting worse (that or I'm spending more time around quieter people) and my sight, well, that's been getting worse all my life, no shock there. Will see how things go when I get moved and can start running again.

At least I don't have the bourgeois concern of whether there's fun after forty. I think that's pretty well taken care of, between pancakes and (I hope) cinnamon creme pie and [personal profile] uilos and Erin.

Happy day, y'all.
jazzfish: Jazz Fish: beret, sunglasses, saxophone (Default)
The necromancer Wake, in response to the apprentices' concerns of using their power appropriately:

Being good is not a wise course. I should not care to see you set out to do good, either.

The consequences of defeat are permament; the consequences of victory persist until the next defeat. So with good; what you do that is good persists until the next evil. This is very simple, if you can reliably decide what is good. Good would be a struggle to create a series of victories as little broken as you might arrange.

Each of you may live a long time; each of you is of significant strength. You could do good, if you could judge all the consequences of what you might do. Yet the world is immense; a full understanding of consequence is direly difficult to obtain, even should you live for thousands of years to see how what you have done works on the world, and yet good remains a judgement.
[Commentary by the apprentice Edgar: Same as not building in the flood plain. Simple rule. Figuring out where the flood plain really is, for the flood you don't get every ten years but every thousand, that's hard to do. If you pick everywhere it might be, you don't leave yourself much farmland.]
Act to avoid constraining the future; if you can, act to remove constraint from the future. ...

Remember that the least constrained future that anyone has yet managed prefers the rule of law to the whims of wizards.

--Graydon Saunders, A Succession of Bad Days (Commonweal 2)
jazzfish: Pig from "Pearls Before Swine" standing next to a Ball O'Splendid Isolation (Ball O'Splendid Isolation)
Usually when I'm not writing here it's because I'm depressed. This time it's because I am running myself at the ragged edge of exhaustion again, and "time to write introspective journal entries" has been one of the casualties of that. Along with "much other writing," and "most boardgaming and roleplaying," and "quiet evenings at home." Viola too has dropped off to what I consider an absolute bare minimum, sometimes beyond that.

So, I mean, that's still not a good thing, but at least I'm not crushingly depressed. \o/

The current state is nonsustainable. Yay me for recognising that now, after a month and a half, rather than waiting, o, three years to figure it out. Thing is, I can sustain an unsustainable state indefinitely, I've proved that plenty of times before. I just crash pretty hard once I don't need to sustain it any more.

I've not been sleeping well since we turned the heat on, around 1 October. I genuinely don't know what's going on with that, staying asleep has rarely been a problem in the past. Lot of stuff rattling around in my head that I haven't had a chance to sort through, maybe. Not bad stuff, I don't think, just ... stuff.

In another month (ack) we'll be moved in to the new place, which will relieve a lot of the temporary stress. The scheduling stress is substantially less tractable but perhaps next year will be easier on that. Family will ... either sort itself out or not. The current round of my stupid personal issues are at least identified so that I know which buttons are being hit this time. ("Everything is connected. That's why it shorts out so often." --JMF)

And, you know. I can tell that a lot of the things the inside of my head is telling me are bullshit. Doesn't make them any quieter but I do recognise that they're the product of stress and ongoing sleep-dep, and not reflective of the actual outside world.

Onward.
jazzfish: a whole bunch of the aliens from Toy Story (Aliens)
If the (covered, nontransparent) cat box is substantially heavier than I expect it to be, I should wait a few minutes before attempting to clean it out.
jazzfish: a black-haired man with a big sword. blood stains the snow behind (Eddard Stark)
I'd been invited to an election-watching party but Erin was unexpectedly free, so I spent the evening at home with her instead. Then [personal profile] uilos came home too around nine-thirty, and a differently very nice evening transitioned into a few hours of sleepy snuggly domesticity. That, I am pretty sure, is why I'm on as even a keel as I am.

I remember the aftermath of 2004. I felt angry, betrayed, confused. Today I mostly feel numb. ("You can't /feel/ numb. You can only /be/ numb. Be numb. Be numb.")



My friend [personal profile] tam_nonlinear died last night.

I mean, I don't know how accurate those first two words are. We were friends and her friendship helped me through some very rough patches. She took me to Tribal Cafe, an amazing monthly belly dance show in DC, and introduced me to Avatar: The Last Airbender, and gave me "Thanks, Robert Frost" and "After the Pyre" when I needed them. She was also prickly, and I did a number of insensitive things that upset her, and I don't know if she ever accepted my last apology some years ago. For a year or two I've been torn between writing her to see where we're at, versus leaving her her space.

Her last writing, posted this morning: Sycamore. We do not always get to recover.



Today I pull into myself.

When I reemerge in a day, a week, next year, I want to forge a still safe space and open it to good people. I want to build a thing -- a community -- that increases the kindness in the world. Ideally I'd like for its seeds to spread in some fashion but I suppose that's not necessary. I have very little idea what it would look like; only a sense of ... atmosphere, I guess.

I've been chewing over this idea for months, if not years now. Too, it's perhaps something concrete and useful in a time when there's less hope to go around.

You can't save the world, here, says Erin, just contribute to a little corner of it.

I want to give other people a chance to recover. Maybe that's enough.
jazzfish: an evil-looking man in a purple hood (Lord Fomax)
["Hydro" is Canadian for "power company." When we were first looking at rental apartments we kept asking 'is the power bill included in this obscenely large monthly price?' and the agent kept saying 'yes, hydro's included for this unit' and we kept saying 'It's good to know that water is included but what about electricity?']

ME: Hello, BC Hydro. Remember me?

BC HYDRO: *is suspicious*

ME: *sigh* *reset password* *verify email*

BC HYDRO: Hi! Welcome to BC Hydro! What would you like to do?

ME: I'd like to have electricity in my new house.

BC HYDRO: We can do that for you, sure! Would you like to transfer existing service, or set up a new account?

ME: Well, since I haven't been a BC Hydro customer for the last two years because the city of New Westminster has its own power authority, I guess I'm setting up a new account.

BC HYDRO: Oh, you can't do that. You've already got an account with us, from when you lived in the city of Vancouver before, and we can't create a new account that duplicates an existing one.

ME: In that case I guess I'm ... transferring service?

BC HYDRO: Sure thing! Just tell us where you're transferring service from.

ME: How about from having disconnected it two years ago when I moved away?

BC HYDRO: Oh, you can't do that. You need to have service before you can transfer service. You'll have to set up a new account.

ME: ...

BC HYDRO: ...

ME: This is not a Friday kind of problem.

cleanup

Nov. 4th, 2016 06:45 am
jazzfish: Jazz Fish: beret, sunglasses, saxophone (Default)
Whee, been a week. Among other excitement: Taranis's wifi card has decided that intermittent faults are the hip new accessory, so I broke down and got an old new laptop. Same model as the one I experimented with last spring. Still not entirely convinced of the need for a new machine but a) I'll need one in the next couple of years for certain, and b) Macbook design is getting worse all the time. (Latest models removed the extraneous Eject/Power button. This wouldn't matter except that now I have nothing to map a proper Delete to, and I require both Backspace and Delete.)

ETA: The Fantastic Ursula K. Le Guin: "She had been mildly cheered up, she added, by following a Twitter feed with the hashtag #BundyEroticFanFic."

Litany, by Billy Collins. There are poems like "After the Pyre" that leave me ripped open and bleeding, and I understand why. Then there's this one. I don't understand in the slightest what it is that it does to me. (I also don't expect it to do that to anyone else; like Among Others, whatever it is feels too intensely personal to possibly affect the rest of the world.)

The Arches of The Little Prince: "Can you build an arch from a pole to the equator? Can you build an arch from the north pole to the south pole?" Which is all fascinating, but the thing that really caught me is the simple and obvious realisation that you can model arches upside-down with hanging chains.

Hipsterism and Cultural Appropriation: "So to make explicit what lies implicit: when hipsters 'ironically' don clothing associated with working class people, when hipsters 'ironically' profess tastes for products associated with working class people, they are communicating 'we all know I couldn't possibly actually like this, because we all know that this is unworthy and beneath us.'"

The Yale Record Does Not Endorse Hillary Clinton: "Because of unambiguous tax law, we do not encourage you to support the most qualified presidential candidate in modern American history, nor do we encourage all citizens to shatter the glass ceiling once and for all by electing Secretary Clinton on November 8."



Also, it's been ages since I paid any attention to my 101 in 1001 list.

101 in 1001 update )
jazzfish: artist painting a bird, looking at an egg for reference (Clairvoyance)
One of the main goals I had when I started learning the viola was to be able to, oh, let's be honest, play in a music circle with PNH and Steve Brust and eBear. Or, more reasonably, Klagor and other Rainforest folks. (I have, in my head, most of an instrumental setting for Lorde's "Royals". Haven't tried it out yet; not even sure it's possible, the viola may not be deep enough.)

Tegen's remarkably accommodating of this desire. Starting last spring she's been trying to teach me some basic music theory, chords and intervals and all.

This is really hard for me. I can hear different intervals but I can't necessarily identify them, a fourth from a fifth (why is this hard? fifths are what my strings are tuned in, i've been listening to fifths for three decades) or a sixth from a third. And it's worse with chords, everything just muddles together and I can't hear what I'm even supposed to be listening for.

A couple of weeks ago she finally said "look, don't worry about hearing it, just /feel/ it. I is the root, V pulls back to I, IV ... doesn't, and vi is the only one of these that's a minor. We'll work with those." That helps. The minute I try to name the chord I lose it, it takes me several seconds to put a name to it and I'm wrong half the time, but I can feel where it is.

We've been doing some improv as well, "here are some chords, work out what notes are in them, then noodle around while i play the chord sequence on the piano." Results are variable, but it's fun.

On Tuesday night the improv /clicked/. I could know my own notes and feel the piano chords. By the end I could consciously try to make the one line up with the other while not, I don't know, degenerating into rote mechanics.

We got to the end and Tegen said "That was great! Do you have any questions?"

I needed three tries before I could say "Music makes me unable to word." It took another minute or so before I could explain more coherently that whatever I had been doing right then had turned off my access to words. Not just speech but words as a whole: I normally process the notes I'm playing in words, and in retrospect that ... wasn't what I was doing this time.

This is interesting. It's not "I have something important to say and I can't quite bear to get it out," it is literally I have no words. It's like the Ansel Adams exhibit years ago, only instead of passively experiencing I'm an active participant in the overwhelm.

I have no idea what it means but I suspect it's important.
jazzfish: Owly, reading (Owly)
Finished my third read of The March North last night.

... I am just about certain that the last chapter contains a passing reference to the old joke about the guy who buys a bunch of roses, eats the petals one by one, and throws away the stems.

*narrows eyes*
jazzfish: artist painting a bird, looking at an egg for reference (Clairvoyance)
A thing I forgot to mention: when my grandmother died, my dad wound up with a beat-up violin that ... o, I don't recall all the history, I believe it's been in the family for at least a century. They got it refurbished and now it sits waiting for a budding Taylor-family violinist.

That's not me, but I did take it down and try it out while I was there. It's surprisingly playable with a couple years of viola under my belt. Mostly my fingers just feel even more gigantic and squished looking for the right notes. I can't imagine trying to play higher than about third position. I did a few scales, played through a few phrases of 'Canon in D' (NOT the cello part)

... although holy cow this "Antidote for the Pachelbel rant". James Ernest says there are two kinds of juggling tricks: those that look harder than they are, and those that are harder than they look. This is a cello trick that is harder than it looks. THE GUY IS HIS OWN CELLO TRIO.

... anyway, 'Canon in D' and a couple of easy Suzuki pieces. Nice to have a skillset. I don't know that I believe Tegen when she says violin is inherently easier than viola, but I don't know that I don't believe her either. Regardless, I certainly prefer the richer viola sound.

Also, tuning a violin with normal wooden pegs and fine-tuners ... difficult at best. The pegs are stiff and far too blunt an instrument, and the fine-tuners are in an awkward place. I have been seriously spoiled by the mechanical pegs on my viola.



On Friday afternoon at the VP reunion, I read, out loud, something I've written, to a bunch of writers.

I was pretty confident that it was decent. It's a good read-aloud bit: conversational, two people sniping at each other like you do while still getting the job done, amusing, not a lot of necessary context, and short. I'd read a fragment of it, unrevised, at Rainforest last year, and people enjoyed it. And reading aloud ... is something I can do well. It's just voice, and voice is just words in performance, and that's what I do.

I mean, I was pretty confident right up until the person before me stepped up to the podium, at which point my brain went into a minor panic. I am sure whoever was reading and did a fine job with whatever it was they read. I think I even applauded.

And then I was up. "Um. Hi. I'm Tucker, from VP 15." Brain locks up. "... My cats think I'm hilarious." Scattered laughter. "And ... this is from Blood on Her Hands And a Stone at Her Throat." And I was off.

And ... people chuckled in the right places, and 'A light-fingered dame in a red red coat...' got at least one gratifying "Hmm!" of recognition. And then it was over, and under the applause I heard Steve Brust say "That was /excellent/!"

So, you know. That went well.



Of particular note among the many noteworthy things read: Suzanne Palmer's "The Cover Letter", which was almost as much fun to watch TNH's increasingly horrified reaction to as it was to hear.

After the reading (after both Steve and student Karen A-- specifically snagged me down to say "that was pretty great") I went back to my room for a bit and collapsed, and then back out to dinner. And ... what I remember from the actual Viable Paradise experience, other than being totally overwhelmed, is usually the sense of having found my people. Thing is, most of that didn't come until afterwards. When I was actually at the workshop I was tired and battered and usually lonely. The first day or two of the reunion felt like that as well, both familiar and depressing.

But somewhere between the reading and dinner something sort of clicked over and I felt like I belonged. Dinner was wonderful, and musicking afterwards a delight. As an added bonus, someone played a couple of Dar Williams songs, "Iowa" and "You're Aging Well," and I got to make some progress towards reclaiming Dar from the emotional wreckage of the 2000s.

The next morning I said what goodbyes I could, rode the ferry out with a few other folks, and thence home. And it was good.



As an added bonus, I read over the scattered fragments of Blood on Her Hands, and surprised myself with how much I like it. Hard to say definitively that there's a good story in it in this state (though I think there is) but the individual scenes are just fun to read.

And I had what may be the insight I needed to break open the recalcitrant soggy ending, that being: if you're going to model your protagonist after John Constantine, model your protagonist after John Constantine. Laine Hollister is a bastard and she had damn well better start acting like it.
jazzfish: Jazz Fish: beret, sunglasses, saxophone (Default)
All this week I've been coming into the office, turning on the light if necessary, unlocking my computer, and thinking "crud, one of the overhead fluorescents is dead, it's darker in here than it ought to be."

Then I remember that the overhead fluorescents are not actually over head but off to one side. I don't notice because I'm right up next to the big window, and normally the ambient sun makes up the balance. But between the autumn cloud-cover and the later sunrises, it's suddenly a bit of an issue.

Sunreturn may have a solid physical meaning for me this year, in addition to the symbolic.

Lots of good cloud on the mountains this morning. I'm going to miss the view from the tower after we move. Worth it, though.

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jazzfish: Jazz Fish: beret, sunglasses, saxophone (Default)
Tucker McKinnon

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Adventures in Mamboland

"Jazz Fish, a saxophone playing wanderer, finds himself in Mamboland at a critical phase in his life." --Howie Green, on his book Jazz Fish Zen

Yeah. That sounds about right.

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