Jolly in the Ravagement

(Joy! Rival the Gentleman!)

So I woke up the other day and my right eye didn't work.
It took me only an instant to know that something was very wrong. I was getting light, but no focus. After about half an hour, which I spent requesting a ride to the ER and taking a miserable shower, I could force it to focus, on a very small area in the center of my vision, but so much as the inevitable saccade would make it all a thunderstorm blur again.
Cue emergency room and many doctors. Much prodding around with lights and liquors--did you know that your corneas have pressure, like a bicycle tire?

By the end of the day I could focus with more-or-less normal speed. None of the several doctors who peered into my skull can tell me anything except that they would each like a thousand dollars, please. No visible abnormality other than a 'birthmark' on my retina. Perhaps a migraine, they said, and gave me a sheet of paper that told me what to do for the pain and discharged me. I had told them repeatedly that there was no pain at all, that it was like I had an empty socket, useless. They sent me from the hospital without even a pair of dark glasses to protect my much and widely dilated pupils; it was fifty hours before I could go outside without sunglasses, before nighttime neon lights weren't oddly beautiful and vibrant.

I stepped from the emergency room, into the bright day, and recoiled instantly, hands clapped over my eyes, agonized. I crept to a shadow across the street from Western Psych and waited for a ride, unable to focus on my cell phone and glad that my fingers know certain numbers without prompting. I felt like a vampire, the sun suddenly my enemy when previously we had been such friends. I am sure I looked quite mad, particularly when factoring in my physical proximity to the mental hospital. I didn't care.

Rob picked me up. Even in the shade his white car burned like phosphorus, the thin top edge of the door was a knife in my skull. I flung myself into the vehicle and sank down into the footwell, keening quietly, fists balled into my eyesockets, and felt exquisitely miserable. I had gone straight from bed to the emergency room, and it was now nearly two PM; I was starving. Rob gave me his sunglasses, and putting them on was like popping in earplugs at a music festival, or shoes in a gravel pit--suddenly the world retreated to a manageable distance. The relief was almost enough to make me burst into tears.

We went to the park that was half a mile away, to get some bourbon chicken before I went home and climbed back into bed. I put my arm through Rob's and closed my eyes as I walked; even with the glasses it was too much, like a screaming in my ears. So rarely do I regret my synaesthesia. I walked right past Ju-Sung without seeing him, and poor soul, he thought I was ignoring him. "You were holding Rob's hand." he said later, quietly. He realized after a couple of minutes, watching me from a distance, what was wrong; I don't wear sunglasses, after all. He came over and introduced himself to Rob, not how I'd have had them meet, and his shirt--white linen--reminded me of a dress I'd dreamed of once, all brightness and fire, like the height of a flicker prolonged to discomfort.

I got my chicken, ate a little, went home. Life went on.

I had a kendo promotion test, over this most recent weekend. It went well--aside from the final kata, which I forgot entirely. My brain was utterly, completely empty. I had to bow out. I failed the test, my empty head ringing like a dry water tank. The most peculiar feeling.
Betrayals of body and spirit. I'll test kata again at the Johnson Cup, but after I bowed out I had to go into a back room and shake for a while, wondering at myself. If I can not trust my body, and I can not trust my mind...

After the tournament that happened on the next day, I sat next to my friend Xia. He'd seen my Facebook witterings about the eye problem, and he said "You had a little stroke." he said it lightly, with a tilt of the head, his eyes fixed carefully on my face.

Life goes on. Who knows anything, anyway. I had practice tonight; Titus-Sensei was unexpectedly absent, so even though I'd gone to the bus stop thinking I am so tired, I should turn around and go to bed and I'd closed my eyes on the bus thinking I am so tired, I should just go to a coffee shop and I'd walked up the hill thinking I am so tired, I will say to Sensei that I can not do bogu today, and I'd climbed up the stairs thinking I could just put my bag in the club locker and go home, go back to bed and sleep. And then I got there and changed, slowly, and Jeff was there, returned at last, and Wazo was there, and Nigel came, but no Sensei. If I have to lead, I have to have twice as much energy as anyone else, otherwise everyone else takes it easier too...
Vince and Elwin arrived eventually, and Ken, and a good practice was had. Who cares if I am going to go blind. Who cares if my tongue stops, if I can't find the word I'm looking for half the time lately. Still moving forward, and exhaustion--I have class every day before I should even be awake--surely explains any number of perplexing questions.

Hit me with lightning.
There are two kinds of firefly in my garden. The first is the sort that is commonplace to Pittsburgh; a bright acid color and lingering in its glow. Slow-burners that pulse and fade. The second kind is one I'd never seen before this season, a flicker-quick white thing that does indeed look like heat lightning when viewed at the far end of the garden, half-hidden by the wild grape and the dark. Desert lightning, of the sort I've not seen in most of a decade, the high and silent distant barbs that do not seem less violent for their unreachable nature. I'm pleased by the juxtaposition of that memory against the multitude of vines and vegetables that my back yard is currently producing.

Today Sensei should be back (I believe) from his month and some away; I'm looking forward to it and dreading it at once, being tired of body and mind. I have missed him, though it must be said that I do also always enjoy the times he's on vacation; there's a very different energy without the anxiety that comes when he's around. Not better or worse, simply different. I missed one practice out of the twelve since he's been gone, though I've had to not have jigeiko in two or three more of them--I forgot my contact lenses once, and I had asthma problems with all of the humidity and low barometric pressure.

It's been very hot here. My tomatoes are not entirely happy with this, and I don't get up early enough to water them, so mostly I am doing it in the evenings.

I went to a barbecue with Rob and Blue yesterday. The little one is so tall--when I met her I could lean over to rest my chin on the top of her head, and now she is taller than my eyes. Twelve years old; she might be taller than I am before the end of the year. I only get to see her every few weeks, these days, so every single time I am surprised.

I went through a walk in the Allegheny Cemetery a few days ago, startling turtles and deer and irritable robins. I greatly enjoy visiting the older, bigger cemeteries. Small graveyards do nothing for me, though as a child I lived close to one and often snuck over to fix up flowers and dust headstones; the great ones, like this 300-acre space, full of woods and ponds and tall hills, seem to me like a kindly sort of other world. The headstones and mausoleums are just an excuse to have somewhere sacred and quiet and full of living things, unmolested by cars.

(no subject)
The email to my dad had very predictable results--"I'm sorry you remember that. I don't. Have you considered that it might be a manufactured memory?" followed by a list of things that 'prove' he couldn't possibly have kicked my eight-year-old brother down the stairs.

This week has been a very long and strange one.

Still wandering lost. Still under the bed.
Yesterday I read this article.

Today I woke up screaming. Happens, of course, but usually from nightmares, not memories.

For thirty seconds, a minute, I huddled on the edge of my bed with my face in my hands, trembling. Grounding. Safe in my blue room with the pink rug and the purple one, the hush of the fan, the smells and colors of home, but threaded through with a bitterness now, in this second, because I am not safe from my mind, and the last thought before waking--I have to do something, I have to save them, no one else is going to do it--is the greatest shame I have. I got out, didn't I. They didn't, did they.

And then I reached for my laptop and I wrote an email to my father. I interrupted my typing to tab over to my email, to Facebook, to Livejournal, and Facebook was studded with advertisements for Father's Day presents. That must be why.

So. Not dead.
May is upon us, and it's as nasty as it always is. I can never decide if I'm thankful that it's the most beautiful month of the year that brings that one particular horrific anniversary, or if it would be better had in January, since I'm going to feel awful the whole time anyway. The kid would have been eight, this year, if I reckon it right; it's better this year, only one really ferocious crying jag, though of course it came at the worst possible time.

I've been sick. I should have known, of course, that anything that might give --san a cough would fell me like a dead tree; pneumonia, antibiotics, that whole drill. Was out of kendo for a bit, three weeks or so this time. Tired, but not quite to the direly dangerous point; and much better now. Able to walk down the street, and tomorrow I'm going to try going for a run.

Apologies for absences. I should be back in force pretty quickly.

Warm weather, and everything comes alive.
With the advent of this bizarrely wonderful weather, I have been taking on the not-quite-overwhelming task of returning the fallow back garden to something resembling a human-inhabited space. A hundred feet or so of ground left mainly untouched for at least the previous decade; at least the soil is good. Much needs to be uprooted, tilled under, burned. I sawed several branches off of an invading tree which has spent some time engulfing the fence near the compost heap, at the back of the garden--the neighbor came out as I was once again hefting the brave little saw that was my companion for the work, and twanged "Y'all cuttin' down that tree?"
Too late to tuck the offending implement behind my back, I said "Just the branches that are falling down on my side..." and she grinned wide. "Thas' great. Thing's a weed! Meant to get the girls to cut it down ages ago. Don't suppose you could do that."
I admitted that I could not, since the saw would hardly fit through the chain-link fence, but that I'd gladly remove every inch of it that protruded into my space. "A'll get the girls to do it." she said, and dragged her snarling dog back inside the house by its collar.

Midway through sawing down a branch, I heard a hiss and angry slither, and upon looking down I realized I'd upset a nest of snakes. Small, swamp-colored, furious things that reared up and glared at me, plainly quite ready to bite me for the temerity of putting my foot through the roof of their house. I took a photo, went inside to consult the internet to make sure that they weren't venomous, and when I returned they'd vanished somewhere into the leaf litter and compost. I feel a bit badly about it, and about the two much sweeter snakes I disturbed earlier in the week. I'm glad my garden is so full of life, but it's unfortunate I need to get in its way to have my green space.

I dug a firepit. Four feet or so across, a bit over a foot deep and walled a half-foot higher than that with bricks that I pulled from the hole as I went; remnants of a path from many decades ago, that plainly still runs underneath my garden. That pleased me. I found a couple of old bones, some metal thing so encrusted with hardened earth as to make it unidentifiable, fragments of blueing pottery painted with delicate patterns, and I felt like an archaeologist.
(I also gained rather a bit of respect for the dump-'em-in-the-woods sort of serial killer. I'm in better than average shape, and still digging a four foot pit less than two feet deep took me an hour and considerable effort. Were I a murderer, would I be willing to kill a second person, having had experience with the trouble of disposing of the first? Talk about commitment to a hobby.)

I trimmed back a greyed and wandering vine that has swallowed one fence, and in the process discovered two hundred dollars worth of tomato cages, most of them taller than myself. Thrilling. I spent a bit of daylight disentangling them from the vine and themselves, setting them up on the earth I'd weeded and shoveled and raked for the eventual planting of tomatoes--they look very brave, all set up. Several of them need a little bit of mending, but that's work of no note at all, and I'd never have been able to afford them. I'd been planning, in fact, on using scrap cloth and poles split from the invasive tree to hold up my tomatoes and beans. This is much better.

Today, I had planned to do a very great deal of digging--but instead I went to Home Depot and got seeds, in addition to the ones that fair Britt has sent to me, and spent the afternoon doing the season's inside sowing--180 peat bundles each with seed in their center now, another thirty or so to go when I can decide what will go into them. Three kinds of tomato, eight kinds of pepper (if all five of the sort in the mixed packet germinate correctly) three kinds of zucchini, herbs and and cantaloupe and a handful of flowers. One for scent, four for color, one for eating (a variety of sunflower that reaches twelve feet in height and produces many seeds--these will be laced with Morning Glories, strung together at the top to make a roof so that Blue will have a fairy house to play in when she comes to visit. If she comes to visit.

(Either way I'm sure I'll take a blanket out to the thing more than once, and tea. Perhaps I can sleep in it, on warmer nights.)

Sometimes I wake up late at night and I want to go home so badly that it closes my throat.
I don't even know where home is.

Tonight I want to be up on the Slopes, curled up with the dog. I miss the rise and fall of Rob's chest under my cheek, and the growing-clover smell of him.

Why is it that I don't want to be here?
I like my room. I am looking forward to my garden. But even having lived in this house since August, I can't seem to form a real attachment to the structure itself. I'm happy enough to be here, no doubt of that, but it feels like a transient thing.

I'm usually not sad. I spend a lot of time alone, and it bothers me so much less than it ever used to. I can cook for myself without wishing too badly to be cooking for someone else; I read books, and when I realize I'm laughing aloud at them I do not feel stupid. But my home is other people, always, so perhaps it's just that right now I am a bit homeless. This thing built of wood and plaster is a building--home is the half-stifled yawn in another person's tired breath, home is the space between gesturing hands.

Rumi says, "A builder looks for the rotten hole where the roof caved in. A water-carrier picks the empty pot. A carpenter stops at the house with no door. Workers rush toward some hint of emptiness, which they then start to fill. Their hope, though, is for emptiness, so don't think you must avoid it. It contains what you need! Dear soul, if you were not friends with the vast nothing inside, why would you always be casting you net into it, and waiting so patiently?"

Perhaps I need more patience.

OKStupid, reprise
Message from me:
First--telling me that I'm attractive enough for you doesn't actually make your answer to the question not racist. There is *no way* to say that you'll only date some ethnicities without it being racist. That question is *designed* to make people with racist proclivities stand out, and it does so very well.

And then you immediately follow it up with "*I* would say you were white!" which is in itself utterly problematic and insulting, and if you can't see how, I don't want to talk to you any further than this. I'm not white. I'm *proud* of my heritage, and the fact that I can pass for white doesn't mean that I'm interested in forgetting who I am. The fact that I can pass for white doesn't mean that somehow it should be okay for me to want to date a guy who only wants to date white women.

Message from Insanelynormal2
Feb 21, 2012 – 7:47am
Ok maybe your right. All I am saying is that when I looked at your profile race never even entered into my thinking. I am sorry if I offended you. That was not my intention at all. You want the truth of what I was thinking when I wrote that answer? I was thinking "I doubt I could fit into the life of a getto community." Where I came from most of the people who were labeled "non-white", which by the way is your term, were African American and very much of the getto culture that I can not fit into.

I wrote back to you because you hurt my feelings but maybe your right. I hope not though.



Message from Insanelynormal2
PS If the questions are so accurate what do you think of the amazing match and friend percentages of our questions? lol :)

I made him sad? Sorry, dude, but you know how it, is, being a person of color--I live on a diet of white people's tears.

Message from insanelynormal2:
I would love to get to know you!

Message from me:
You seem like you're probably a pretty nice guy in general, but I'm afraid that you nailed one of my dealbreaker questions--in response to "Would you strongly prefer to go out with someone of your own skin color / racial background?" you answered yes.
I'm not white.

But good luck in your search! :)

Message from insanelynormal2:
Wow. That is amazing. Another example of the questions gone wrong. First of all if i did not find you highly attractive I would not have written you. Secondly what I pictured when I read that question was obviously completely different than what you did. If you think i am racist or prejudiced because of that answer I have to disagree with you strongly. Also skin color and race must be defined wiledly diffrent from person to person because I never even thought of race or skin color when i read your profile but if you asked me to put a label on you it would be white. I wish you would have asked me about that issue rather than dismissing me completely. I know i would not have done that to you. I wish we could talk. Scott

Can we talk, Scott, about missing the fucking point? And aren't I glad to be attractive enough to pass as white.

So tired that I could quite happily crawl into a hole.
I haven't had sleep problems like this in the better part of a decade! I'm getting maybe five hours a night, punctuated by half-hour wakings. It's been three weeks of this, now. Perhaps I should do more kendo.

In twenty minutes I'll go to tutor, and immediately after that I'll go to model at the Schoolhouse--I need money for kendo, it's time to pay my dues to the AUSKF. As it is I'll probably be eating cold rice and almonds all tourney weekend but I'm so glad to go to a tournament that I'm okay with that.

In my dream, I am woken by the beat of distant drums.

I am a slave. Sometimes I am a man, sometimes a woman; I am one of many, there is a culture of slaves.

We live underground. A network of caves and digs, all of them with myriad fey little lights in the crevices and cracks. There is no darkness.

My mistress is a thin, possibly not human woman, witchy and clothed only in strips of gauze that alternately reveal and obscure as she poses. I might be wearing only a loincloth of some sort, and my hair in tendrils or braids. Underground there is no cold. I am not sure how I serve her--a body slave, probably, or as a retainer. I know I attend her at the balls and parties she visits (or throws? Perhaps she is ruler of this place). She is not a good woman, though perhaps I would believe that she was if she hadn't kidnapped me from the forest high above this underground city. She does not treat me badly, for a slave. But I am a slave.

I wake on my sleeping mat--flat, of dried woven grass--to a sound thrumming in the air, almost inaudible but buzzing along the hairs on my arms and the back of my neck. I can't help it; I stand up, soothing the slave sleeping beside me back to sleep before I walk out of the low-ceilinged room that houses several of us.

The street--tunnel?--is mostly empty. I follow the sound like a toy on a string, not even sure I'm hearing it any more, merely aware of where it came from. I go down a path I'd never walked before for any errand of my mistress, not a hidden way or a guarded one, simply a way that none of us go. I come to a high arched doorway, and I step through it.

My mistress is there. She has her palms on the edge of a brick wall, and is looking down, into the only darkness I have ever seen in this place. There's a round tunnel, jutting downward at a steep angle, lined this far up in brick that has been coated with thick white paint. The paint peels and splits.
The sound is gone. My mistress turns and looks at me, and laughs. "One of mine? she asks. "That is a surprise." I hate her. I serve her willingly. I want to break her. "What is that sound?" I say, into the silence, and she knows what I mean.

"It's down there." She gestures down the tunnel. "You could go and see."

I lean over the wall. There is a machine, how did I not notice? It turns, and digs, further and further downward. The tunnel fades into darkness, the shadows obscuring everything, and the machine continues. All I can see up here is a turning column, hanging above me, dark metal that moves without tire. "How far does it go?"

"A thousand stories. Maybe more. Forever? You could go." She smiles, all pointed chin and white teeth, and looks up at me with narrowing eyes. "Of course, you can't ever come back."

I think about slaves who have vanished, in the year or two since I was snatched from the upper world. I think about how no one talks about them, not even the other slaves.
I think about those who are not slaves, occasionally doing the same thing.

The sound comes again, clearer with the amplification of the tunnel, and I realize all at once that it is not drums at all, but a monstrous, beating heart.

And then I wake up.

Today I led practice. I think it went all right; everyone put out good energy and listened well.

Today, I bought vitamins--the wrong kind, I'll try to return them tomorrow. These have coconut oil in them, so they split my tongue.

Today I realized that when I say 'my bedroom is a disaster' and mean it, my bedroom is still pretty clean. Having a floor the color of a four-year-old's flying dreams is conducive to having an organized space, it seems.

Today I repeatedly forgot that tomorrow--today now, I suppose--is Valentine's Day. The very sexually explicit Oglaf has a clever strip on the holiday, which pleased me.

Today Vince decided that he was cool with driving us to Rutgers at the end of the month for their tournament, so we're going to go fight! This will necessitate me running around like a madthing tomorrow, but I'm entirely fine with that.

Excited, really.

Swordsman dream again, only not quite the same...
So, for years, on occasion I've had this recurring dream.

In the dream, I'm standing in the rain. It's been raining for hours, maybe for days; the mud is cold and rising around my feet. My face is cold, my fingers are cold, and the rain runs down over my body in a steady rush.

The person whose eyes I see through is a man. I'm wearing hakama and haori. Every stitch is soaked and streaming; my hair hangs flat, draggled. I pay no attention to any of this. In my hand is a drawn sword, the point of it tipped downward, a fountain of caught rain. I am waiting.

It's dark, twilight or just past it, and I am standing in a clearing in deep woods, and in this clearing is a house. The house is small but cheerily lit; against the shoji screen I can see a woman's outline limned in light. She moves around the room, making dinner, singing. I can smell meat cooking (a stew?), and the starchy, mouthwatering scent of rice. And something else, like a perfume, which in the dream I am aware I shouldn't be able to detect through the rain. Sweet, light, the opposite of intoxicating. Her smell.

In the usual way of this dream, eventually the motions of cooking will stop, and the smell of the food will become even richer--and the woman will throw open the screen, and ask me to sit on her porch, to come inside, and partake of the meal. She is, I know, my enemy; she would eat me if she could, she is a fox or some other spirit, ultimately untrustworthy, but she swears she will not harm me (for now) in such a binding way that I know it to be true. She is very beautiful. Her home is warm, or at least she is making me believe that it is warm, and I have hunted her for long and long through the cold and the dark, but I am hungry and have been much alone. Neither of us need kill the other, in this minute.

The dream always ends before I choose. Do I challenge her then and there, and battle her (and maybe lose--she must be better-rested than I)? Or do I accept the meal, and then afterward her quiet offer of a warm place to sleep?

I had the dream again, for the first time in a couple of years. But for the first time ever, in the half-dozen times I've had it, I was the woman in the house. The not-a-woman. I'm more sure than before that she's a fox, and experienced.

I knew the man was outside, and had been for days. I knew he was waiting for me to open the door, walk to the edge of my porch, step barefoot into the squelching mud and face him. I don't know why, what I'd done in the dream...perhaps it was merely being what I was. Perhaps I'd killed and eaten someone he loved. Perhaps I'd driven someone mad. Foxes do these things.

In this new version of the dream, I'm adding spices and vegetables to a stew that has been cooking for a couple of hours. I look around my little room (little because it pleases me that it be so; this could be a great house if I wanted, but aren't those so out of place, in the woods? Also, a small house might make visitors misjudge a creature like me, to my benefit), taking in the warmth of the lamps, the bright colors of zafu and cloth placed just so. Everything is perfect.

I unfold myself from where I sit on the floor (my legs and arms are very pale, flesh unmarked and flawless. I'm wearing something delicate and light. I do not feel the cold. My hair is absolutely black, and my hands are slim and smooth. I am beautiful) and I cross the room in three graceful strides. I slide the screen open without the edge catching, and I look out into the dark, knowing that the sudden brightness must sting the swordsman's eyes.

"There's plenty here for two." I begin.

And then I wake up.

To tired for any poetry.
I've had an hour and a half of sleep since yesterday at around ten AM. One downside of being single is that there's no regulator, no one to fall into bed and entice me to do the same. Not, I think, that it would have helped last night.

So much clamor in my head. I'm *beyond* tired.

Last night I had a gig at the Schoolhouse out in Bethel Park; I took the train out there, and somehow managed to climb onto the wrong one (though I swear that the marquee in the window said it was the Blue Line to Library), ending up trapped all the way to South Hills Village. I like riding the trains a lot, but I must admit that I've had so little experience as to be clumsy at it.
Artist John drove out and picked me up, and I got to the gig just in time, but without any time to warm up or stretch. Despite this I think I did all right with my two-minute poses, and after that it was all fifteen- and twenty-minute poses for the rest of the night, which went well enough. I got the photos of that gig immediately, though most of them will probably just go up onto my Flickr and never be used.

Looking at the photos, I'm a bit taken aback by how much weight I've lost, by the definition of my ribs and hips. I should be drinking two gallons of milk a week, perhaps. Tomorrow I'll go grocery shopping and buy more food which I'll actually remember to eat.

I slept for an hour this afternoon, and dreamed that I was walking in the door at the Cleveland kendo tournament, that I was tying my men, that the floor under my bare feet was just a bit cold. It's a mark of how exhausted my body is that the nap didn't give me any bad dreams, just a lingering impression of strong hands gentle around my upper arms, and a sense of watchful stillness.

And now I think I'll try properly to sleep again. I'm allowing myself the luxury of putting the heater on high, and the room is very nearly comfortable. I'll pull my green blanket up and kick my feet out over the edge of the bed, and sleep and sleep..

Like a river flows, surely to the sea--darling, so it goes...
Is an unfinished letter worth anything?
I begin to feel I may be fashioned out of them.

I am sure that it must be one of the definitions of humanity, to consistently be biting back what one might say. That hurts or I *want* or You delight me. So hard to get across the truth of things in difficult to hide the truth of things, in words.

Is it any wonder that so many dramatic stories revolve around a letter never meant to be delivered somehow finding its way into the hands of the one it was written for? How many of these are there, that say I love you, to someone undesirous or incapable of returning such, or that snarl imprecations to one who should be better left alone...

How many letters that say I miss you, I miss you, I miss--

I have one of those, written since June of last year, that has reached seventy pages and will at this rate never be sent. How to package up my life in a tasteful fashion for my siblings? I may never know the knack, not that it might matter when they never reply. Things unsaid, even in a letter unsent.

At practice tonight I had an asthma attack. I bowed out, and stood above the training ground to watch and listen to the rest of the session. I pulled out my little notebook to write what came to mind as I watched my Sensei and my kouhai, and flipping through the pages came across an email address neatly printed in pink (received at the banquet after Nationals) and a short orange-inked list of things I want, and an eyeball, drawn in green by Blue's fair hand. I was tempted, briefly, to tear out all but the email, and burn or otherwise destroy the handful of history, and then come home and do the same with every one of my notebooks, rid myself of the paper shackles that grow heavy in their increasing number.

When I came home from work, more than a decade ago, and my mother had thrown everything I owned haphazardly into boxes and bags, somehow a bookmark came into my possession. It was laminated, a picture of a grinning semi-realistic Tyrannosaur viewed in three-quarter profile, small claws flexed. My youngest brother's, no doubt.
It's been on the wall of every single place I have ever lived since, but for my time at Rob's where the walls were not my own.

When I unpacked papers and documents and the textual detritus of my life into the trunk at the foot of my bed, the bookmark reappeared. I have not hung it now only because I can not decide if I want to be free of it or not.

Sometimes I am sorely tempted to forget absolutely everything.

It isn't sad. It isn't incredibly painful, day to day. But I wonder what it would be, if I could just step away from all of it, pages fluttering behind me like lost feathers.

A thought.
Came to the South Side today to make chocolate chip cookies with Blue. Realized, abruptly, why my kitchen in Bloomfield smells so wrong to me all of the time; no kimchi in the fridge.

I eat kimchi very very rarely, but all the same I might need to buy a jar.

This entry was originally posted at Dreamwidth.

A brief memory.
It's August, and I'm at the All-United States Kendo Championships, watching a match. My hand sits loosely against the caution tape that sections off the main part of the gym; the tape rests in my palm, I'm running my fingers along it as once I would along my sisters' hair.

Abruptly I feel a rhythmic tapping, gentle, careless, absentminded. I look further down the room and one of my federation's sensei is watching the same match as I, two fingers thrumming against the caution tape. It feels precisely as though he's bouncing his fingertips against my palm. I remove my hand, pleased by the odd intimacy of the sensation; this is not a man whose hand I want to hold in any romantic way, but the tap-tap, tap tap, tap-tap-tap is so very human that it makes my chest feel tight.

This entry was originally posted at Dreamwidth.

So all of that jeans shopping a few weeks ago, surprise at being a size 5, bought six pairs of Goodwill jeans secure in the knowledge that they'd fit a while? Thirty dollars of jeans, money I won't soon be able to spend again on something so frivolous?

Kendo, right? And core/toning exercises in the effort to give myself a bit more oomph in practice. And walking miles and miles now that I'm only staying at the Bloomfield house, and running sometimes. Doesn't matter that I'm eating pretty well and taking my vitamins, evidently, because I'm totally a size 4 now.


This entry was originally posted at Dreamwidth.

My today.
I wake early and drowsy from deep uncomfortable dreams. Clean up a bit, eat a meal, practice Japanese. I write sentences, translating clumsily ("How would I say...") and then I take a nap, intending to wake after an hour and go to kendo. I wake after two hours, and am due in the dojo in thirty minutes. I dither for fifteen minutes, considering, then throw my bogu into the bag and take off at a fair clip. Running, bogu and shinai bag slung over my right shoulder, I catch the bus just in time.

In the end I reach practice and am fully changed by six. I arrive just in time for the end of a late warmup. I am the highest-ranking person there today, so I lead. Suburi, hayasuburi, kirikaeshi (half our attending number today are not in armor at all, so it is very much a teaching practice), jigeiko. Reed gives me a ride home, and I make dinner.

Upstairs into my room, read, think, think, stop thinking. Arrange string lights over my stairs, watch Mythbusters on Netflix so that there's noise in the room, check on the welfare of various plants, think about kendo. Think about tournaments. Think about footwork.

I walk downstairs into the bathroom, and in front of the only full-length mirror in the house, I shuck all of my clothing. I turn, examining--an old scar there, a new bruise there, the new shape of my hips (not the shape they were two or three years ago, this is adulthood; no *more*, but different). I brush my teeth, contemplatively nude.

My hair is growing long again. Not so distant in the past, the cold lick of the scissors against the nape of my neck, but hair does grow so quickly. Nearly long enough for the beginnings of modesty, so far only long enough to flirt, black curls tumbling lazily over a spare torso. Black as my mother's hair when I was a child but much less straight. White in it now, hers and mine both; in mine, an intermittent white streak the width of my pinky, behind an ear, and Moon-colored flickerings closer to the front.

I dress, and walk back up the flight of stairs into the sitting room, through it and up the stairs into my attic bedroom. I sit flat with my legs out, feet splayed, and I stretch. First down my left leg, both hands wrapping around the ball of my foot, my chest coming closer and closer to my knee until I'm trembling and weak, and then the same way with the right leg; I can't manage nearly the extension on my right, for some reason. I bounce on my toes, I wriggle my ankles, stretching and loosening tendons. I do lunges, I do squats, I think about a sword in my hands. I breathe. I breathe. I stretch until I can not think.

I lie in my deep, soft bed, feeling every muscle like a new thing. Quivering. I consider turning on the heater, as my toes are going numb now. I consider the upcoming electricity bill, and refrain.

Could read, but all the new books I have currently are in electronic format, and I don't want the eyestrain. Could paint, but my hands are shaking just slightly. Could eat some more--slightly hungry, underweight unless we listen to the BMI, and the BMI is a liar--but I did just brush my teeth.

Tomorrow it will rain. It has rained a very great deal of late, and while I do not mind the hush of it on my rounded roof, I am nearly ready for it to be spring, and warm again.
(Unhelpfully, my brain reminds me that I should be glad of the warmth we do have, and that Summer does not always come, after all.)

Consider playing Zelda. Dick around on the internet for too long, playing in the Sherlock fandom, talking to various compatriots through various media, reading a half-dozen articles at Tomorrow, I will study with more diligence; tomorrow perhaps I will go to the library, the museum.

For now, I sleep.

This entry was originally posted at Dreamwidth.

--my phone's going to have to be down for about two weeks, from the 28th or so on; it's either phone or rent this month, not both. :/ Boo, unexpected bills.

This entry was originally posted at Dreamwidth.

(no subject)
The going from a world we know

to one a wonder still

is like the child’s adversity

whose vista is a hill;

Behind the hill is sorcery

and everything unknown,

but will the secret compensate

for climbing it alone?

(Emily Dickinson: #1603)

This entry was originally posted at Dreamwidth.

Vicodin is a hell of a drug.
So, I don't like taking drugs. Really not my thing. I'd rather sit out a headache, unless I've somewhere to go or someone to entertain. I take some cold meds, but only because I find colds so absolutely miserable; the medicine usually puts me into a groggy, semidelirious state for a couple of days. I don't take NyQuil. I take allergy meds only when to do otherwise means to really suffer, and there's only one kind that I will take, because the other kinds make me a zombie for a minimum of half a week.

But this toe thing. It's been agonizing. Really quite startlingly painful. It started out hurting a lot in a superficial, stinging fashion, and then transmuted into something that felt as though it were spiked and licking at muscle and tendon. By Tuesday it felt as though my entire foot had been plunged into a boiling pot, complete with the hot throb that would be bubbles curling around my toes. I hissed and sobbed through the worst of it for eight or nine hours straight before finally sleeping for four or five. It comes and goes, so a fair amount of the time it's only about as annoying as if I had just a moment ago stubbed it.

The day after the nine hours of misery, I went to see a doctor, who prescribed Vicodin ES. Twenty-five large, bitter pills, neatly scored down their centers. I took one of them entire, the first time, and within an hour there was no pain at all. Not in my back, which had been strained by my limping, and not even a twinge in my poor maimed toe. It was amazing.

The downside to this is that evidently The Lotos Eaters was written to describe the effects of Vicodin. It's got me at an arms-length remove from the world, and also I've developed an unsettling tendency to run my mouth; my filters seem to be off. I'm still capable of emotion but much of it is oddly muted, which as far as emotional discomfort goes is *nice* but it's nice in the way that feels wrong. I am sort of dazedly pleased most of the time, distant and dreamy.
The other thing that they do is utterly rob me of my appetite. That's kind of nice, actually. If there isn't food, it's good to not be hungry.
(Shortly I will go downstairs and make scrambled eggs, toast with jam, and perhaps if I am feeling very hedonistic, a hot chocolate with my last packet of cocoa. Tempting. I am not remotely hungry, so I am exploring eating things just for the taste of them, because I know that taking narcotics does not transform me into a creature who exists only on air and languorous poetry.)

Took one half of one thirty-six or thirty-eight hours ago. *Still* out of it. Was meant to meet up with a friend for coffee today and I still haven't managed to get trousers.

On the other hand, this is a positively beautiful mood in which to read a book and curl up with some furry four-legger.

This entry was originally posted at Dreamwidth.

Johnson Cup and cold
On Saturday, my dojo fought in the Johnson Cup, in Columbus. It was such a blast! Because of the small size of the tourney I had nine matches, two in women's and two in shodan-to-sandan, and five entire matches in teams because my team was good. My Sensei won first place in his bracket (4dan and up), my kouhai Jeff won first place in mudan, my kouhai Vine won second place in mudan (I stood and watched them each go through their respective courts until they had to face each other, it was great), and my team took third place in teams! It was...fantastic.

Unfortunately, an injury received there has caused the loss of my right big toenail. It's entirely gone. I'm going to be out of practice for a bit, probably, until the wound skins over and I can stomp around again. I am not particularly happy about this.

Life is going, elsewise. I have a cold, it's too cold outside and I don't have anything to eat, but I do have fifteen dollars to my name, which will shortly be spent on as much food as I can buy for the next few days...that's a couple of meals, at least. And life is going.

This entry was originally posted at Dreamwidth.


Grief kicks me in the chest at the strangest times. If I am awake too long it's like my body loses the ability to fight it off anymore.

Tomorrow--today, today, it's nearly five and I've not slept--I go to Columbus to fight in the Johnson cup. I go with Sensei and Vince (longsuffering Vince! He drives, again) and Jeff and my kouhai Nadeem and a new kouhai named Meghan who isn't wearing hakama yet. I hopefully will get to see Gin, and Z, and a couple of other people that I enjoy spending time with.

This evening I downloaded Hatoful Boyfriend, which is a dating sim about pigeons. It's hilarious so far, played very straight.

I am going to sleep now, for some few hours, and then get up and shower and dress in two pink shirts at once.

This entry was originally posted at Dreamwidth.

I feel so much better!
I've finally come to accept the fact that I'm not putting weight back on again. This is as high as I'm likely to get, and it is is where my body wants to be.
(A kendo friend suggests that I might do a GOMAD diet, as wrestlers do, but even my deep love for whole milk quails a bit at the thought..)

I am so skinny now that my pants fall off. I have spent months having to belt so many inches of denim up that I look horribly unhealthy; this morning, I could quite literally just step out of the jeans that I wore. I've owned three or four pairs of pants, and a couple of days ago I ripped the only one that came close to fitting me.

So, today I hied myself to Goodwill. I was anticipating the usual four hour slog of, throw thirty pairs of pants into a shopping cart, find two or three that fit. Instead, I really lucked out; Target had just donated a dozen pairs of brand new jeans in my size. I spent thirty dollars (yeah, I know, that's a lot of food but I am *freezing*) on pants today and got six pairs, of which four or five are tags-on new. I have a butt again! I can walk across the floor without needing to cinch my waist! It feels *good,* I hadn't realized quite how hideous I've been feeling ever since the weather started to get cooler and I had to stop wearing most of my skirts for the year. All of a sudden I feel much better.

I also bought a handful of long-sleeved shirts. Several of them are fairly thin, but I can layer them with sweaters so that's all right--considering that most of my wardrobe consists of tie-on skirts and spaghetti-strap tops these days I really have been needing to get something more substantial that fits.

There's a ridiculous amount of other stuff going on in my life, some of it quite dramatic. But that will have to be saved for a f'locked post when I know it's safe to talk about...

This entry was originally posted at Dreamwidth.

Into the pan; peanut oil, two tablespoons; many cloves of garlic, peeled. Bay leaves, large, four. Depending on your heritage, an entire onion, sliced, and/or tomatoes, between two and six, cut broadly. Saute until the garlic gets lovely brown crinkly stripes. Add chicken thighs, five; soy sauce, a bit under a half of a cup; vinegar, a quarter-cup; pineapple, mashed, to taste.

Also depending on your heritage, you may add two or three tablespoons of tomato paste, and a small amount of water (which you will allow to render down again).

Cook covered until the smell fills the kitchen with other members of the household, two-footed and four. Serve over white rice (yesterday's will do).

Chicken Adobo as it was meant to be.

This entry was originally posted at Dreamwidth.

Burned. Out.
I've been working hard on paperwork and such for several weeks so that I could get reinstated at my shitty community college. You may remember me railing against the place a year and a half ago, when they did their damnedest to get in the way of my accepting a scholarship to Pitt's Japanese summer intensive. I won, eventually, but only by going entirely around them.

I have three semesters there before I can transfer to Pitt. Three hard, frustrating semesters, but I've been champing at the bit, really hopeful about getting there and getting it done. Did all the paperwork, wrote my groveling "This is why I failed out that semester" essays, had various meetings, arranged final reinstatement counseling for today. Got up hours before my sleep schedule would have me do, got a ride to the North Side, walk in--

--and am entirely denied reentry to the school.

See, when my landlord tried to have me murdered, I was just coming out of a massively crippling depression. I'd had a bit of trouble busing all the way out to the North Side for school that semester, and the semester immediately following the murder attempt, I couldn't get to school for so much as the first day. I never attended a single day that semester (if we're being honest, I didn't leave the house much at all, still being kind of shellshocked).

And rather than dropping me from those classes, I just lost my grant. I gained the F-grades, even though their own fucking handbook says that I should have been dropped for nonattendance.

This has been the problem standing in my way, that heavy semester load of failing grades. But I've been prepared to retake all of those classes and ace them, all that I've needed to do is get through the lengthy, condescending, occasionally humiliating reinstatement process.

Except, not. Because, I lost my grant for that semester--but, as they so kindly neglected entirely to inform me of in any fashion between then and now, I was still on the hook for tuition.

What this boils down to, is: Until I give them seven hundred dollars, I can't go back to school.

Seven hundred dollars is literally an insurmountable obstacle for me. Seven hundred dollars is almost three months of rent. I have had seven hundred dollars all together at once free precisely twice in my life. There is, flatly, no chance of my saving that much.
But unless I give it to them, no classes, no grade makeup, no transfer, no getting out of this place I'm in in my life. Just--this is a wall I can not climb over, and I don't know what to do.

Feeling pretty crappy right now.

This entry was originally posted at Dreamwidth.

Tell me something good?

This entry was originally posted at Dreamwidth.

that's not creepy or anything
Yesterday, my birthday, I opened the mailbox at Rob's place as we went out, and there was something addressed to me. A birthday card, from a woman who I have never met.

I tore it open, and it was from the Church. It wished me a happy birthday from the local Singles Ward.

I haven't attended church in right around a decade. The last time I did so was thousands of miles from here. I have never given a missionary my address, I have never since moving communicated with a Bishop.

I'm really not sure how they got my address. I wonder if now I've moved, stuff will come to my new place? Maybe they monitor the change-of-address cards at the Post Office...

This entry was originally posted at Dreamwidth.

Now I am 29.
Half an hour before Midnight, Rob turned to me with a grin much younger than his age. "Let me buy you a birthday drink." he said, simply, and I agreed. On came socks and boots and hoodie and coat, and out into the dark, down to the Flats.

Hours later, back at Rob's(back at home, the back of my brain says), we opened the door to let the dog in the house, and I stretched my loose shoulders and said "I wish I could do kendo right now!" Rob laughed. "Let's." he said, and went back to the car, and opened the trunk. Blue's foam swords were there, and on the quiet street, in the fog, we had a sparring match. Both of us inebriated (but me much more so), and him exulting, saying "I'm going to kick your ass, you know," before I roundly thrashed him. Both of us laughing, occasionally muffling voices lest we wake the neighbors.

Then we chased the dog down and went inside, and I made a birthday cake from scratch, melting baker's chocolate with water from the kettle. Rob whipped butter and sugar and vanilla and eggs, while my netbook ran music that I listened to obsessively a decade ago. The cake is cooling; I used the last of the batter to make cupcakes in a set of teacups, and I ate one of those alone in the quiet kitchen while Rob snored on the spare bed, wrapped up with the dog. I got him to go upstairs to the proper bed, and here I am, quiet and conscious but just about to sleep. I should finish a couple of emails, but instead I think I will drink a little more water and crash, and wake to sunlight on the first day of the last year of my twenties...

This entry was originally posted at Dreamwidth.

My birthday is Monday.
I will be 29. This is the last year of my twenties, coming up("I whispered, 'I am too young,'
And then, 'I am old enough'")...

How do I feel? I'm badly--*badly*--in need of some dental work, and I can't afford it. That's not nice at all, I miss trusting my teeth. Rob tilted his head and said "Of all the things to have trouble with, though, that one is one of the least damaging in the long run? It's not like you need a new leg." He's right, of course. There's a visceral sort of horror to it all, though.

It is currently 43 degrees outside. It is due to snow this weekend. Snow on my birthday! Surreal. Ghosts stomping through the slush, gargoyles with ice on their knitted brows.

I fell asleep at six in the morning, and slept until two. I am allowing myself this luxury, two hours past my usual waking, because it is my birthday weekend and it is so cold outside...but I can't seem to get started today. I should write a couple of emails, make a couple of phone calls, sew for a while, clean up my room. Take some stuff to Rob-senpai, go to the South Side to hang with Rob and the little one. Instead I am sitting here listening to Japanese pop music and sort of not thinking. Feeling kind of scraped out inside.

Good things: I am not currently freezing. There is some food in my cupboard, glee and joy! I could go downstairs and make myself one of a couple of different meals.

And oh, oh, bliss, I had kendo last night, for the first time in three weeks (nearly four!), since the first or second practice after I sprained my shoulder. I spent the practice last night teaching three of our newbies the beginnings of how to walk, of how to hold chudan kamae, but for all that I wasn't doing much in the way of suburi on my own it was still good just to be back. We had a good turnout--Ken-senpai, Rob-senpai, Vince, Jeff, Nadeem, young Gabe, three newbies, and myself. We were very loud, and energetic, and it just felt good.

I'm trying to get back into school. It's a *fight,* even for a place like CCAC (I daresay it would be easier at Pitt, in fact, were I a proper student there); I have to provide all sorts of irritating documentation. "Describe how much of a fuckup you are, and what you've done to unfuck yourself!" sorts of nonsense. Needless to say, the essay I am providing is bordering on ridiculous; "Well, first there was the miscarriage, and then my landlord tried to murder me, and then I got pneumonia..." and so much of it I don't have any way to *prove,* so I fear I sound like a liar. I didn't go to the hospital, I got through it on my own; I didn't go to the cops, I didn't even think of going to the cops, until it was too late for it to have done any good. I didn't go to the hospital for the illness, the same as I didn't do so last winter, because hospitals are expensive and (that old tired song) I can't afford it...

But I have to get back into school. I have too much ground to cover, and I've been...not wasting time. Growing, learning, fitting better into my skin. It's just time to take up the mantle of student again.

So. Boots on, and out into the cold, both literally and figuratively. Time to get going.

Be well, my dears.

This entry was originally posted at Dreamwidth.


Let me tell you about Ben's cat!

Ben has a cat, Azrael, named for the angel of Death, I believe (though after he was named, people mentioned to Ben that that was also the name of a cat on the Smurfs?). Az, Izzy, is black and kind and quiet. His shoulders are very wide, his hips are very narrow, and his eyes are green. He does not meow unless he is very concerned with getting your attention; he makes a calm circuit of the house often but only rarely goes into psychokitty mode, bouncing off of things. Since Ume was psychokitty more than not, I'm not really sure how to deal with Az.

We're getting a new roomie, Heather, since Rue is leaving for Portland tomorrow. Heather has two cats, Buster-Whomp and Tussle vonGrr, and if they get along with Az and Ben and myself then they will be moving in with her. And this three-storey, beautiful old wreck of a house will be very full of furry shadows indeed! All three of them neutered males, and the two new fellows supposed to be every inch as polite and calm as Azrael. I'm looking forward to it.

I miss Ume. I can't have her but I miss her, so it is nice to live with a cat, and perhaps it will be nice to live with three?

This entry was originally posted at Dreamwidth.

On sleep disorders, or; stop telling me how to fix this.
So lately I keep running into this thing. I have a sleep disorder, a circadian rhythm phase malfunction to be a bit more precise. In my case, it's right around six hours. My natural sleep phase is from four in the morning to noon.

A basic way to explain this is by contrasts. A normal human being, should they need to adjust their sleep schedule, will take no more than a week or two to do so; if someone needs to start getting up at six in the morning instead of seven, it should take only a few days of setting the alarm before the body gets used to the new demand and alters the sleeping pattern accordingly. They'll naturally fall asleep an hour earlier and wake an hour earlier. The same thing goes for working a regular night shift, the body has a few days of "what the hell?" and then slides into a new sleep phase. The brain adjusts.

My own brain does not have the ability to do this. Neurologically I simply lack the function.

When I regularly sleep from four to noon, I fall asleep naturally and wake well-rested and without discomfort. I suffer from no sleep deprivation, I generally find it easy to maintain a healthy weight, and I am in a good mood most of the time. If I get ill while allowed this sleep schedule, I recover quickly.

When I can not regularly sleep from four to noon--say, I'm taking a summer session class that requires me to be coherent at seven AM, or I am working a job that gives me morning shifts--I am consistently sleep deprived. I can not sleep until the early hours of the morning, and while I can wake to a persistent alarm I wake queasy every single day, unable to eat an early meal, and at around noon I begin to find it almost impossible to remain functional. My weight fluctuates rapidly; it becomes very hard for me to keep from being underweight, and I'm often depressed. And worst of all, I am sick more often than I am not. Until I finally figured out what was going on, I was sick every single two weeks, or three weeks at most. I was sick every three weeks for fifteen years. Look back through the archives of my blog, and you'll see an endless round of "I have a cold, I have a fever, I've got the flu," over and over again.

This is a disorder that typically sets in in early teenhood, which makes it hard to diagnose. It struck me at the normal time, and everyone around me simply assumed I was hormonal; I had no knowledge by which I could disagree. And teenhood ended, eventually, and it didn't get better, but it was easy to say, I'm just depressed, life has been hard, it's complicated. I have insomnia. I'm just so lazy.

It wasn't until last year that I finally started to get what was wrong. And it wasn't until at most a year ago that I started truly and regularly allowing myself to sleep the way my brain needs it. I don't sleep more than eight hours, it's not a case of lying about all day. It's simply that I must sleep a certain time, and there's no way to change it. If you peruse that Wiki article, you'll see--there's a long list of possible treatments, some of them quite nasty, and none of them have been shown to actually work for more than a couple of weeks.

Since I started sleeping from four AM to noon, from when I get sleepy to when I wake up naturally, I feel good. I'm sick every two months at most. I am able to maintain a steady, healthy weight (provided I'm eating well enough, that's something else entirely). My mind is clear, and when I wake up I can have breakfast without wanting to vomit it all up again. I'm in a good mood! It's much harder to depress or anger or even irritate me.

But what I keep running into is this: I've been damn-near ebullient about finally understanding what is wrong, and about how much better I feel physically and mentally and emotionally since I started accepting and working with it. I'll laugh, saying "I've never felt this good in my life!" and people who know me, who have known me for years and should know better, keep suggesting that it would get better if only I tried to sleep at the same time every night. If I got a white-noise generator. If I got a better alarm clock. If I showed a little willpower. No matter how many times I try to explain it, there seems to be a fundamental lack of listening; everyone thinks that this is laziness, that this is me not trying, that this is just because I like being up late, because I'm a reader, because I watch movies. As if I haven't spent half my life trying to fix this, trying to go along with the way the rest of the world wakes and sleeps, desperately lying in bed counting breaths to a thousand every night, meditating in place of sleep because at least it means my body rests a bit.

Want to know a secret?
I fucking hate being up late. I hate being the only person awake for six hours of every night. I miss sunrises. I *desperately* miss, sometimes, the pre-sunrise desert and the larks singing out above the rocks, the green-blue-black gradient of the sky. I miss the cool of the morning before the sun hits, and I miss having lunch at noon, and I miss being able to eat breakfast at a restaurant that doesn't serve waffles 24 hours a day, and I would LOVE to be able to comfortably do any number of things that only occur in the early morning. And I can't, if I want to be stable and healthy and happy. I have to let all of those things go.

This will not get better. This is how it has been for more than half my life, and in all likelihood this is how it will be until the day I die. This sleep disorder, at my level, is classified as an actual disability. As in, if I had the funds to cover the somnologist and psychiatrist to determine on paper that this isn't simple insomnia, the government would pay me disability money, because I will never be able to healthily hold a normal job with this disorder. Ever. I have to choose between the average daytime working world and my entire health, and I'm tired of choosing the one that makes me constantly feel like shit. Imagine feeling nasty every single day. Imagine having to slog through sleep deprivation every single day, with no cessation in sight, not like having a goal you could point at and think "this week is hard, but I just have to get through this week." There's no getting through it, for me; this is not going to get better, and my brain will never adjust to a 'normal' sleep schedule.

So stop telling me how to fix it. Listen, when I say that I spent fifteen years trying. Hear it when I say that waking up hours after three alarms have screamed themselves to silence, or feeling like throwing up every single day for years, or passing out at random because my body just can't keep me upright anymore when it's been running on three hours of sleep a night for months straight, is the only way to go about a nine-to-five life for me. This is just the way it is. Life takes place after noon every day, and until four, and that's how it will be. And for the most part I am comfortable with that.

This entry was originally posted at Dreamwidth.

I have an announcement! Every single reader I have, you never, ever, have to vomit French fries through your nose. I have done that shit for you.

(Yesterday was miserable. Food poisoning is...damn-near suicide inducing. Also yesterday broke my twenty-five-year streak of never throwing up in public, disturbing Little League players, dog-walkers and young skateboarding gentlemen at a local park. The skateboarding gentlemen were the only ones who came over to see if I was all right, though.
Sorry, tree that I vomited under. I didn't want to.)

I am feeling much, much better today, though kitten-weak and sore of joint. I'm going to a gig at the Club Cafe tonight, but I may require a palanquin and fan-bearers.

Yesterday marks two years from my first date with Rob. Long, odd, mainly-beneficial two years.

Today I began to set about seeing what I have to do to get back into college. I've let it slip too long through laziness and fear of not having enough money; my landlord's attempted murder of me back in 2008 fucked up a lot of stuff for me financially in terms of aid. But today I called the loan people, and we'll see if I can't get that sorted out enough to at least take some CCAC classes in the Spring.

Here's hoping, anyway...

This entry was originally posted at Dreamwidth.

Just like a photograph, I pick you up--
Just like a station on the radio
I pick you up

Today is grey and silver and full of thinking. I am taking two weeks off of practice, for the shoulder I sprained during shinsa isn't recovering as quickly as I would it do--and, to be fair, because I need a little bit of headspace right now. I need to rearrange some things, and even though I am supposed to do kendo with my everyday mind, I think maybe I don't.

I have some commissions to work on, which is great, good to be using my hands. And I am hoping to devote four hours of every day in the next two weeks to kanji study, since I've really let that lapse since April. I had goals for this year which I've mostly blown off, and there are not so many weeks left until New Year's.

Dreamed I got a tattoo, nine fox tails arched and curling over my entire back, starting at my tailbone. A dangerous, but honest, sort of tattoo.

(in the afternoon after the tournament we all went to an Asian grocer, Vince got me Calpico and muscat candy. It was raining very strongly, but there were bright blue patches in the sky. Looking out the window I murmured "Fox wedding!" and Jeff turned to look down at me, surprised. "How do you know that?")

My life seems right now to be a scattering of small but powerful moments. Many of them are good.

Just put your feet down, child.
The water is only waist-high.
I'll let go of you gently
and you can swim to me.

This entry was originally posted at Dreamwidth.

Today I earned my black belt.

This entry was originally posted at Dreamwidth.

Seriously my favourite fan-video this year.
I'm not a huge Trek fan, but it's in my blood; my folks met at a Trek convention, and I've seen pretty much every episode and movie that came out up through TNG. I stumbled on this by accident, and it's not a new video, but it's still the best one I've seen all year.

This entry was originally posted at Dreamwidth.

Winter is coming--commission me to make you pretties!
So things are getting pretty tight, financially; I helped out a friend earlier in the month, and I did so freely expecting that my main student would be back about a week ago--but she's still off in another state, which has basically meant that for the last week I've gotten a meal a day, and I was too shaky for kendo yesterday. Rent, phone bill, et cetera are all arriving very rapidly, and I can't afford to fall any more behind; I have to get a heater, and a blanket, and winter boots.

Now that my room is all arranged, I've got my sewing machine set up at last. And I'm in a mood to make things; cold weather comes and I always hit a massive upswing in creative productivity. I don't have the necessary busks and boning and all that fine expensive stuff for corsets yet, and to be frank until I've used this new-to-me machine for a few months and gotten entirely accustomed to its vagaries of tension and speed I'm unwilling to do much silk clothing with it. But! I am in love with something very like these.

I can do a coat in any length and range of colors that you want, all the way to the ankle if you like; and I'm making them for 150-200 dollars, rather than the 250-500 dollars that they're going for from the two or three sellers making them on Etsy. Mine are slightly different from these in that they're likely to have a bit of beading or silver bells on them (if you like), because beautiful clothing that makes just a bit of noise pleases me--but since I'm doing it all by hand there's a tremendous range of possible designs. Basically, if you want it I can probably do it.

If there's something else that you're interested in having made for you, send me a message! I really like sewing interesting clothes. I used to have a business doing such, when I lived in England (mostly big, flowing skirts and cloaks, hippy blouses, interestingly upcycled sweaters and trousers). Everything that comes from my hand is made in a no-smoking, no-cat space, and I work pretty quickly.

So if you're interested in something that will be a bit eyecatching in the good way, send me a message!

This entry was originally posted at Dreamwidth.

Thinking outrageously, I write in cursive...
What a long, long week.

The parallelogram of Autumn sunlight through my window makes the floor look like it's ceramic glazed in the Korean style, a bright clear green, quite lovely. My room is so quiet that my ears are ringing. Odd neighborhood, this, so quiet in the mornings, so loud at night. It's too cold in here by a good way, and I don't have a comforter yet so I'm under a host of small, thin blankets that come together to make a fairly decent cover. But the air is cold, and I need to get hold of a heater of some sort before too long.

(I believe I will be making a kotatsu. An attic room is a good place for one, and I've wanted one for at least a decade.)

Things I still would like to make, purchase, or otherwise acquire for my room; curtains. Throw rugs. Roommate Rue is probably giving me a dresser and another set of bookshelves, which ought to pretty much sort out the rest of my organizational issues. Things for the walls...right now the only things hanging on my wall are three menjo (certificates of rank) and my official zekken from Nationals (the sleeve with one's name, Federation affiliation, and coat-of-arms on it, which attaches to one's tare, or armor skirt). Otherwise the walls and ceiling are totally bare, which is an odd state of affairs for me.

I have an upcoming challenge to myself; from my birthday onward, I want to do a painting a week for a year, start to finish, probably along the lines of pictures taken from dreams. Roommate Rue, in the process of moving to Oregon, has given me several sheets of loose canvas--I'm itching to start right away, so perhaps tonight I'll begin a new painting. I'm thinking about doing a bunch of scenes from the serial epic war dream that I had a couple of years ago, because those would be suitably fun to paint and hopefully to look at as well.

I test for my black belt a week from today.

Last night, after a long and supremely trying day that among other things involved a thirteen-mile bike ride that I had expected to be five miles, I spent about two hours sorting out a box of beads and thinking about how obsessive-compulsion used to be considered evidence of vampirism or demonic influence. I was not feeling compelled to sort seed bead from pony bead from semiprecious stone, it was something that needed doing so that the things were useful to me, but I found it very restful anyway. It does say something about the current state of my brain, though, that everything I do makes me think like an essayist.

For now, I'm about to find some warmish clothing and go out into the cold for the Dragon Boat Festival in the South Side, and perhaps bicycle some more to avoid delayed-onset muscle soreness (my legs are not quite as happy with me as I'd have them be), and then practice some kata as though shadowboxing. Be well, my very dears.

This entry was originally posted at Dreamwidth.

A bit of Hafiz, before I rest.
Do sad people have in common?

It seems
They have all but a shrine
To the past

And often go there
And do a strange wail and

What is the beginning of

It is to stop being
So Religous



With That Moon Language

Admit something:
Everyone you see, you say to them, "Love me."
Of course you do not do this out loud,
otherwise someone would call the cops.

Still, though,
think about this,
this great pull in us to connect.

Why not become the one who lives with a full moon in each eye
that is always saying,
with that sweet moon language,
what every other eye in this world
is dying to hear?

A Great Need

Of a great need
We are all holding hands
And climbing.
Not loving is a letting go.

The terrain around here
Far too

This entry was originally posted at Dreamwidth.

Mm, banana bread.
I've just done my first bit of baking in the new house. Banana bread, dense and sweet. It came out well, so I have reason to have hope for this oven.

I am *unreasonably* tired today, particularly considering I got pretty much exactly eight hours of sleep last night. All I've done today is shift a couple of things around in my room and bake. The rest of the time I've been lying around, just about too weak to lift my arms, and reading. Fanfiction, Terry Pratchett, Laurie King, Harry Potter books--novel after novel, mostly.

Fantastic Amy from the Library brought me a bookcase! It's bigger than either of the two I already had and filled, so now I can pull one of the suitcases of books out from under the bed and empty it. This makes me happy--having them out is like having plumage on, or comfortable blankets, or something. Feels less naked somehow? Perhaps that's just how I am feeling today, but one way or the other I greatly like having the places I live be walled with books.

Tomorrow, Diane is bringing over a bunch of cans of paint, which is going to be an utter delight--no matter what colors they are, I'll have use for them. If they're all white, I'll go to an art store and get pigment to mix into them. There is no room in this house that wouldn't be well-served by a bit of paint, and my room is going to be painted floor-to-ceiling--turns out that roomie Ben is not much fond of the task, so I might do his room in barter for some future prize. I love painting walls and houses, so this is to mutual benefit.

I just slept for two hours. I did not wake screaming. I didn't have any dreams at all. This is not the natural order of things! I think I'm going to go for a walk and try to clear the fuzz from my head.

This entry was originally posted at Dreamwidth.

(no subject)
And how can we tell I am home?
By this, one supposes.

Shortly, an hour or so, I'll pack up my armor and head out to practice. From there, back here to unpack some more and sketch out how I'm painting the walls and ceiling. Forward, forward...

This entry was originally posted at Dreamwidth.

Initial thoughts about my new place--
--this house is actively happy. I think it likes having people in it.

There are a lot of mirrors here. A lot. Five in the bathroom alone (six?). But they don't make the rooms feel cold.

It will be nice when the electricity is working in my room again, but for now the extension cord run up from the sitting room is doing quite nicely.

The crickets outside haven't stopped singing for even a moment that I've noticed in six hours. Restful.

All the stuff I own in the world is not a lot of stuff, but it is still enough stuff to make a mess of a small room.

I honestly quite like this shade of green.

Blurry photos: One, two, three.

This entry was originally posted at Dreamwidth.

Stuff I'm looking for for my new room--
--if anybody has any of it and doesn't want it, as I know now is move-around season down at Pitt and a lot of stuff gets thrown out. I don't need any of this from anybody, I'm not in dire need of help; I just figured I'd ask around before I spent money or lingered on corners during Big Trash night.

I'm looking for:

  • Blankets. I have my little pink fuzzy, but my sweet elegant heart's-hope purple comforter stays with Rob, it belonged to that house and that relationship and bringing it feels like a wrong idea. But winter is coming.

  • Bookshelves or bookcases--any that aren't taller than about five feet. I don't care if they're particle board. I don't care if they're cardboard. I have only two thin flip-out cases that hold barely a third of my books, and I don't want to have stacks upon stacks of mass market paperbacks teetering.

  • Computer speakers--mine are staying with Blue so that she can watch AtLA whenever she wants with good sound.

  • Floor or desk lamp; Small end table; comfy chair.

    And now I'm out the door to teach! And then to babysit little Izzy. And then back to my new place, probably with a backpack full of books across my shoulders...

    This entry was originally posted at Dreamwidth.

It's Christmas for nineteen-year-old me.
Shaun--青いアンブレラさん--moved to Baltimore while I was at Nationals. I thought I had another week, so I misplanned; I couldn't move my stuff from his apartment, being states away. He very kindly shoveled it into a closet, and a friend of mine rose admirably to the occasion of my need and moved the stuff for me.

Upon getting it all into my new place, I noticed a cardboard box. I didn't pack anything in a cardboard box; I have three plastic crates, any number of messenger bags and duffels, and a couple of garbage bags; I didn't have any cardboard and thus didn't pack in it. Curious, I prodded the thing open with one toe, and then felt all the air go out of me in an unhappy whuff. The box was full, packed to the brim, of anime DVD box sets, and video games for the PS2 and Gamecube, at least five hundred dollars worth at their newest. Nothing recent, but all of it of high quality. The box was undeniably not mine.

I went immediately to my computer and messaged Shaun, telling him that the movers had made a mistake, and I didn't know how I'd be able to get it to him but I would--

--he interrupted me. "Oh, those? Those aren't mine. Belonged to an old roommate. I thought you might like them, so I left them with your stuff."

And all at once I felt a very rare frission of happy greed. Upon further inspection, the box is a box of treasures: it has all of Tenchi in it, every box set produced in the States and the movies. It has a bunch of El Hazard (which I never did get to watch) and several similar things I've never seen. It has a really quite lovely box set of Serial Experiment Lain, and several individual DVDS of Battle Athletes, which I know very little about (if I don't like it, it's going to go to the Exchange and become a pair of nice headphones, as my Skullcandies are doubtless nearing the end of their blue little lives).

And then there's the games. The best prize is Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time Master Quest. I keep looking at forty-dollar copies of that game and deciding they're not worth it, but my copy of it was left behind in England, unfinished, in another life. A couple of Final Fantasy games, and Dynasty Warriors somenumberorother doesn't matter too much they're all the same and fun. Several RPGs I've never played but always wanted to. Tales of Symphonia. A handful of other things, some of which will be handed to the Exchange, some of which will be tested out first.

What a moving-in present it all is! I have so little *stuff,* I keep so few things. My kendo stuff would come with me if the house caught fire, and a scrapbook I started when I was twenty-two; a stuffed animal that Kate gave to me a couple of years ago, a bookmark that I accidentally stole from my baby brother almost a decade ago now. That's pretty much it, all I need; what books I have I can find again, what clothes I have I can make again, what music I have I can find again, and for the most part I live pretty light. But getting all of these stories is pretty wonderful. I'm going to enjoy them.

I'm not in my place tonight after all (since I had to help a friend out tonight instead) but I went back for a couple of hours to unpack. There's a problem with the electricity in the third floor, namely that there isn't any--that's something to sort out tomorrow, though both roomies are baffled. It worked a week ago. I'll make it work again.

I love the feel of the house. As I thought it might, when I step through the door, already it feels like home. It feels like a falcon mantling over its young. I will be happy here. I will heal and grow strong, here. The thought of winter here does not frighten me.

For now, I'm off to read a little, write a little, sleep hopefully more than a little. Be well, my dears.

This entry was originally posted at Dreamwidth.

So I guess tonight I sleep in my new place?
Life is complicated, isn't it?

I'm really, really tired. Fell asleep around two, woke up early as well. Soon must go and tutor the psychic's granddaughter for a few hours, and from there to Oakland to lead kendo practice. And from first night in my new place.

Am I looking forward to tonight? With about half of me. I like my new room! I love my new house, I think. My roomies seem like great people, and my garden is deep and full of secrets. But oh, I hate sleeping where I can't hear someone breathing. Someone in particular.

Moved most of my books yesterday. Had this dream where I was taking all of the meat off of my legs with a left-handed potato peeler, and the bones underneath were the precise shade of the pale bookshelves I built at the beginning of the year, which now sit mostly bare at the end of the room in the South Side. My dreams, hyper-melodramatic though they may be, often don't tell me anything new.

There's still this great big thing going on I can't talk about, and it is doubtless contributing to the broadening clutch of white hair behind my left ear. Not too much longer, one hopes--another couple of months of stress, and then things will be better. Maybe a lot better. And then I can put it down.

The rain here has been phenomenal. I would enjoy it absolutely if those people hadn't drowned in the street the other day--as it is, I like the rain a lot, the feeling being tempered by wariness. Bloomfield is rather lower than the South Side Slopes. I am moving into flood territory.

Batman is finished filming in Pittsburgh today! No more buses doing bizarre things off their usual routes for the sake of the Bat. No more walking downtown and seeing that it has suddenly become midwinter, with snow sprayed up the sides of the trees; no more hundreds of viewers on the lawns of random place, trying to get a glance at a movie star. I'm glad for the energy it gave my city, but I'm really ready to be done with it all.

It's supposed to be down to 49 degrees tonight. I wonder how warm my high attic space remains in such weather. I've been warned that the ceiling is not the thickest; I might be doing some sort of tapestry-hanging thing through the winter, and certainly I will be getting a space heater or an oil heater. I wonder how my roomies are about having a barefoot house--it's a hard thing to do, on the first floor! Up on the third floor I can be sure that no road salt makes its way into my rugs and blankets.

(Already I think about winter. I have been dreaming of snow.)

At the new place I have a bed. The previous tenant of my new place left a metal bedframe with a decent pair of mattresses in it up there for me to use as I see fit. I can't remember the last time I had a Western-style bed instead of a futon; at Rob's the futon has a very low frame that gives it a few inches clearance from the ground, but that's it. Perhaps back in 2007, I slept on a bed with a spring mattress? For about two months? Before that...I honestly can't remember. Lots of futons, lots of mattresses laid on the floor, sleeping spaces that are nests of pillows and deep blankets...Perhaps it's been a decade? No, I know. The last time I had an actual bed for any space of time, I was living in England. Wow. Eight years, then.

(Last night by GChat, Narumoto-Sensei said "Things seem to go forward, right?")

This entry was originally posted at Dreamwidth.

--I wish I could talk about all this. Even obliquely.

This entry was originally posted at Dreamwidth.

They've got the stars for the gallant hearts
On the 20th, I'll be moving in to the new place in Bloomfield. By then, Nationals will be over; my summer, for the most part, will be over. I'll be starting up a bunch of new things at once.

Tutoring goes well, though at the moment I am making not quite enough money to survive comfortably; that'll change immediately before Nationals, when my other students get back into town. I'm also doing the clothing-making thing, though I can't really get that going until I am in the new place, as a sewing area rapidly becomes a disaster of tag-ends and thread, and I won't do that to Shaun's living room. Mostly right now I am sketching and planning pieces which will be quickly put together when I've moved in.

And writing lists. Lists of lesson plans, lists of things I need for my new place (sheets, blankets, pillows; paint for the green walls and floor, probably a dresser, definitely some bookshelves), lists of things I need to accomplish. Busywork, maybe, and complicated on a too-often-empty stomach, but since I know that in a couple of weeks it'll be a different deal, it's all right to struggle through.

How are you?


This entry was originally posted at Dreamwidth.

A thing which happened today: I am posting it to document, and so that other PGH people can keep their eyes open.

Tonight, at around ten thirty, I started to walk to Squirrel Hill from the South Side. I'd spent the day in the Beehive, and was returning to friend Shaun (Aoi Umbrella-san)'s place for the night, as he's kindly putting me up until I am moved in to my new place.

I started the walk by taking the Hot Metal Bridge, and into Oakland from there. Rather than taking Forbes or Fifth, I walked some of the way through the very dark, at Schenley Park, because it was faster; I messaged a couple of people so that they would know where I was, and I admired the bats that were winging overhead, and the swallows. I passed the Golf Course and by then was on Forbes, very comfortable and familiar ground for me.

I have an active imagination. I do not trust it. So when I say that I'd been hearing a rattle, perhaps a loose muffler, that was of a very particular tone, I can't be sure; my brain could be projecting the sound backward into my memories. But it does seem to me as though I'd heard it for a while, on and off, by the time that I made it to Murray Avenue. I turned right down Murray, which even at eleven thirty was active enough; people getting late pizza, or finishing their grocery shopping in a rush before Giant Eagle closed. The parking spaces on the sides of the road were mostly full.

I saw, from the corner of my eye, someone looking at me. I glanced over; there was a damson four-door Toyota of some late Eighties or early Nineties model, and in it was a white man who was hunched a bit over the wheel, his hair short and dark, his cheekbones high, staring at me.

I didn't stare back. I was in shorts, it's summertime, I get attention for being female (and about two minutes after I passed the parked car, I was stopped by a Hispanic man in his mid-fifties who said "You! You are beautiful. And I am not an asshole! Just want to say! Beautiful girl." This sort of public attention might feel really invasive, but it rarely comes as a surprise). I was tired, having had a very long day on very little sleep, and I just wanted to get to the comfortable couch by the air conditioner.

But about three minutes later, some movement caught my eye, and when I glanced to the left, the man in the plum-colored Toyota was parked beside me again. He looked away as I saw him. I didn't stop moving, didn't freeze or anything like that, just let my brain process (while palming my cell phone). I worry sometimes that I am a paranoid person, so I ran through the options in my head--maybe he thought he knew me. Maybe he'd parked up at the wrong spot before, and he was waiting for someone. I passed him, and heard him shifting into gear. The car drove down Murray ahead of me into the dark, its muffler giving off a rattle that sounded too familiar for my comfort.

I was really aware, now, so I recognized the car before I came up alongside it for the third time. The man was actively staring at me now, hostile. By this point I was passing at just a bit before the New Dumpling House, where the sidewalk gets very deep, and since I'm naturally careful to always be out of grabbing range from the street I didn't feel too worried, exactly. Just concerned. So I looked back at him, and this time I didn't look away. I thought he's hunched because he's tall, probably about 6'2 if the car seat is as deep as in Rob's old Toyota. Caucasian(?), dark, short, curling hair, dark eyes, heavy brows over elegant cheekbones, slim to average build and at the same time another level of my brain is thinking I could call Shaun, and he would drive right up here and get me. He would run up here, if I asked. But I was only two or three blocks from safety. So I stared at the guy, still clutching my phone, and he slammed out of the parking space so fast that the car rocked sideways, and he flew down toward Forward Avenue. I let out a breath, but barely had time for three more before he came rocketing up the street again, glaring at me as he went past, jaw so tight that his neck was cabled and taut. His car was protesting against the misuse, grinding as he slammed it into another gear, the muffler having that faint rattle.

And that was it. He was gone; I finished my walk to Shaun's, and promptly informed him and another friend, just in case. And now I'm writing it here. Just in case.

So, then.
I got the room.

(insert deep sigh of relief here.)

I will move in somewhere in the middle-to-end of August. A bit after Nationals. I have no bed, no blankets, no pillows, no chairs, no dresser, and no worries whatsoever about the situation. What I need, I'll find, piece by piece.

(The alternative is taking my much-rejoiced-of purple blanket back from Rob, and spending the rest of its tenure in my life remembering how it looks just-so against his skin. Not healthy.)

The room is currently sage green from floor to ceiling; if I am allowed, I'm going to make it bright and hot with color. I've been sketching on and off all evening, which made me subject of some comment while I sat on the front stoop of Shaun's apartment, waiting for him to come home so I could enjoy the air conditioning.

The picture I've been sketching so far, in orange pen in my cheap Japanese notebook (emblazoned with "Romantic Dots. With my small wishes..." and then a scattering of hearts and small polka-dots, on rare occasion I do buy myself something cute), describes a room sweet with bright pink and gold on one wall, the walls and the low ceiling sky blue and covered in ravens on the wing. "I am an adult, and I get to decide what that means;" for me, it means that every floorboard in my room might end up a different color. At the very least, I'm likely to be buying small cans of cerise and sun-gold and hyacinth purple. If, that is, I am allowed to paint. If not, I'm still going to have a hell of a lot of fun decorating.

This endless considering is what my brain is doing, to wind down from six weeks of chugging and grinding away, checking Craigslist thirty times a day, taking note of where there's a space for rent when I walk around the city, endlessly making sure I've asked this friend or that if they have any knowledge for me. I've been doing it long enough now that it's hard to stop.

My head hurts too much to be on the internet any longer, I think. But--yay. Soon, not homeless.

This entry was originally posted at Dreamwidth.


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