Saturday, November 28, 2015

A Review Revue! Ex Machina, Salt, and Star Talk

Since I feel mouthy and opinionated today, I’m going to foist my opinions of some stuff onto you:

Ex Machina (the movie): I have a propensity to view movies three to five years after they’ve premiered, so I consider myself on the bleeding edge for having just watched Ex Machina. I found the whole thing humorless, pretentious and naval-gazing. It takes itself way too seriously for what is, at its core, the oldest sci-fi film cliché in the book: Overly-advanced robot balks at its enslavement and turns on its creator. Spoiler alert: I’m glad the film’s fey AI creation Ava escapes and gets to live her dream of people-watching at crosswalks, but the whole movie was unbearably annoying to me. I’m annoyed that tech genius Nathan owns his own island. I’m annoyed by his arrogant sneer and his hipster glasses. I’m annoyed at how the movie breathlessly and uncritically perpetuates the myth of the lone genius. And I’m unfathomably rankled by how long it takes Ava to pick out a dress for her big escape. Yes, it’s well-performed and nicely shot, but it’s still just a re-hash of the same over-done story. I don’t understand why so many critics love this lethargic, self-important film so much. But an exhaustive comb through Rotten Tomatoes shows that I’m by far in the minority opinion, so maybe I missed something. Or maybe it’s finally happened, and I’m officially a crabby old woman, totally closed off to the joys of arty pretense. I give it one out of five rogue cyborgs.

Salt (the video game): With all of the complications at work preparing for the transfer to a new campus, I found myself badly in need of a brain-vacation yesterday, which for me usually means a day-long immersion in a mindless video game. I came across “Salt” and downloaded it for ten bucks on Steam, and it was just what the doctor ordered—completely unstructured, open-world play with no goals, no urgency, and enough petty amusements to keep me aimlessly island-hopping for hours. You start off on a desert island, with vague instructions from a mysterious captain to “loot and pillage”, which really just consists of running around gathering fallen logs and plant fibers for crafting, while dispatching the occasional pesky, pan-faced pirate. Eventually you gather enough material to build a raft, which allows you to cruise to other islands and gather more stuff to craft new do-dads. I think eventually you’re supposed to build an actual ship, but I don’t have enough ambition for that at the moment, and I’m too busy fishing. It’s like an extremely low-stakes combination of Minecraft and Far Cry 4. Nothing in the game has much consequence—even running out of food and draining your hunger bar to zero doesn’t affect you much. The graphics are good enough for what the game is, and its laid-back charm makes it a great way to unwind. I give it four out of five pirate hats.

Star Talk (the podcast):  And finally, for those of you who have not caught Neil Degrasse Tyson’s podcast Star Talk, you are seriously missing out. He’s big on bringing science into the mainstream through pop culture and the arts, so he has a lot of comedians, writers, actors and artists as guests. He even did an entire show where he interviewed artists about how science has inspired them. He’s at the forefront of making science accessible and integrating it into the larger culture, which is much-needed in these anti-science times. He’s also a delightfully expansive thinker, able to see connections in seemingly disparate things and ideas. And for an astrophysicist, he’s got some hella sexy guns. (He used to be a wrestler.) And sexy, soulful eyes. And….I should stop now. If you want to widen your perspective and learn some hard-core physics at the same time, take a listen. I give it five out of five particle colliders.

--Kristen McHenry


Sunday, November 22, 2015

Final Edit, When Incarnation Goes Wrong, The Whole Ball of Yarn

I have finished the final edit of my novel, and I am moving on to the odious task of writing a synopsis. So far, I have one and a half paragraphs, and several bruises on my forehead from banging my head against the wall in frustration. Trying to break a 300-page book down into a 500-word summary is an absurd and Sisyphean task, almost harder than actually writing the novel itself.  I keep telling myself that it’s good for me to do this; that I will acquire discipline and clarity through the process, but so far all I have is torn-out eyebrows and heartburn. After this comes the dreaded query letter, but I’m not anywhere near ready for that stage yet. At any rate, it feels good to have completed—really completed—the novel, at long last. I feel almost ready to move on to a new project now, although I don’t know what that will be yet. It’s a bittersweet feeling to say goodbye to my main character, Harley. She lives on in my heart, and I dream that she will be introduced to many a new reader if the novel ever gets published.

Art has been on my mind this week, partly because I’ve been doing lots of arty things due to my involvement in the Art Committee at work, and partly because I’ve been reading some articles on Bernard Frouchtben on the Frankly Curious blog. I’ve been musing on the fact that I do not have the slightest inkling about how art is valued. What makes a particular piece of art worth what it sells for is a complete mystery to me. It all seems breathtakingly arbitrary. I also fantasize that I could one day be an art collector, and a full-on patron of the arts, going around to local shows and snapping up works that appeal to me with nary a thought of the cost. I think something went wrong with my incarnation in this lifetime. I’m pretty sure I was meant to be filthy rich and provided a life of frivolous ease and luxury. I must have gotten lost somehow and slipped into the wrong body. I’ll plan better next time. Artists, get those paintings ready, because I’m coming back into this world flush as heck!

A few days ago, I heard suspicious paper-tearing sounds coming from the living room, but I decided to just ignore them. I figured our cat Buddy had gotten a hold of an old newspaper or something. Imagine my delight when I realized that he had taken a brand-new skein of yarn out of my basket, dragged it onto the floor, helpfully peeled the paper wrapper off, and unraveled approximately 80 feet of yarn. I collected the mutilated spaghetti-snarl and handed it over to Mr. Typist, who painstakingly untangled the whole mess and rolled it into a tidy little ball of such perfection that now I don’t want to use the yarn. I just want it to remain in its purified state of compact, round transcendence. Also, I officially have Stockholm Syndrome. When I saw Buddy’s handiwork with the yarn, the first thing out of my mouth was, “This is entirely my own fault.” I should have known better than to leave a tantalizing skein of brand-new yarn within paw’s reach. In honor of Buddy’s handiwork, and his passion for boxes, here’s another Simon’s Cat video. Enjoy!

--Kristen McHenry

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Bad Sewing Karma, Editing Dread, The Big Leap Explained

I have bad sewing karma. I don’t know what it is—I’ve just never been any good at it and I’ve never had any patience for it. Needles constantly slip out of my sweaty sausage fingers, and I have no control or technique whatsoever. A few weeks ago, my friend showed me how to edge my rug, and even started it for me. I tried multiple times to continue her work, and just kept pulling out stitches in frustration until I finally gave up and turned the whole project over Mr. Typist, who, as turns out, has a hidden talent for repetitive tasks that require super-human patience. He edged the whole thing for me in the course of a single afternoon. Now I just have to decide if I want to make it into a pillow or a wall hanging. Then I have to wheedle him into finishing it for me. In the meantime, I’ve started a new, smaller rug with a very simple sunflower design. Why a sunflower? Because I need some hope, damnit. I need to make something cheery and simple and sweet. I got the entire sunflower filled in during the Democratic debate last night, which gave me a much-needed sense of accomplishment.

The onus of copy-editing my novel has landed in my lap again, as my dastardly scheme to have to my friend do it for me fell through. I made some okay progress on it last weekend, but I was simply unable to face it yesterday. I have a chunk of pages from early in the book that need a re-write, but I’m completely stumped as to how to “fix” them. It feels like decoding a huge, complicated logic puzzle. So I’ve landed on the brilliant strategy of distracting myself by reading multiple online articles about how to copy edit your own novel. So far, Chuck Wendig is my favorite advice-giver on the topic. I’m going to work on it more today, I’m going to, but first I have to go to Fred Meyer and buy socks. And dust the blinds and re-arrange the bookshelves and alphabetize the spice rack.

Now that everything has been stamped and made official, I can reveal the Big! Leap! Of! Faith! referred to in my last post. It’s a transfer from my current hospital campus in downtown Seattle to one right here in my own neighborhood, just a few blocks from where I live. I’ll be doing essentially the same job, and will keep the same title, but I’ll be leaving behind the known for a new culture, a new setting, a new team of volunteers and staff, and whole new set of challenges. I’m scared and excited and sad and all of the other things you feel when you take a risk and leave the familiar behind. It feels like it happened really fast, and part of me is still reeling from it, but I have a quiet sense of faith that it’s all going to be okay. I start at my new campus in mid-December, a good time for transitions.

Finally, I have been thinking about this very carefully, and I have decided that it’s time to bring back the word “swell”—as in “Aw, that's just swell, Jimmy!” It’s a great word, and I don’t know why it fell out of favor. What’s not to love? It’s short and vivid and pleasing to the ear. I’m hereby starting a campaign to return it to the common lexicon. So if you could start finding ways to drop it into your daily conversation, well, that would be just swell.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Ghost Candle, Water Shock, Leap of Faith

Since Mr. Typist meanly banned real wax candles from the fireplace mantle, I’ve had to resort to those electric candles that run on batteries. I have one that gives off a gentle glow and a light vanilla scent, and I find it oddly comforting in these dark, wet Seattle days. Except that it was almost haunted! (Cue dramatic music here.) I would notice that it was on around 7:00 in the evening when it got dark outside, and then off when I woke in the morning. But I never recalled turning it on or off myself. At first, I chalked this up to my completely shredded short-term memory, and then I decided that Mr. Typist must have been uncharacteristically turning it on and off. When I saw it flickering  the other night, I finally asked him if he had switched the candle on. He said he never touched it, then I said, well I never touch it, either. (Cue dramatic soap-opera-esque close-ups.) I immediately jumped to the conclusion that we had a candle-loving ghost haunting the apartment, willy-nilly switching the candle on and off, and I was actually sort of excited at the prospect. If you’re going to be haunted, you could do worse than a ghost who is mildly obsessed with electric candles. But then Mr. Typist turned it over, squinted at the switch, and discovered that it was set on a timer, something completely unbeknownst to me when I first took it out of the package months ago. So, mystery solved. No ghosts, just the awesome power of electric candle technology at work.

Now that it’s properly cold outside, my Epsom salt bath tally has gone up to an average of two per week. This causes our cat Buddy a great deal of consternation. He’s seen me in the tub numerous times now, but he never seems to get over the idea that I have actually chosen to immerse myself in water. He paces around the outside of the tub twittering nervously, then gets up on his two front legs and leans over the edge staring at me with glossy, frightened eyes as if to say, “My God, woman. Do you realize that you are in the water? Don’t you see what’s happening here?” Ever the daredevil, this week he took the brave step of actually dipping his paw a half an inch into the bathwater, and then ran off terrified and hid under the bed. If only he knew how glorious a long soak in a steamy tub can be, but I don’t think I’m going to bring him around to my way of thinking any time soon.

I have been thinking a lot lately about the meaning of the phrase “leap of faith”. I took one this week--a big one, (details to be revealed when everything is official), and after a few bouts of “did I do the right thing?” panic, I realized that I’m at peace with it. A leap of faith: a long jump into the unknown, a quantum expanse between the familiar and the scary uncharted. I’ve never been able to figure out if I’m risk-adverse or reckless, and I suppose that it depends on how I look at my choices. I chose not to have kids, which comes with its own risks in this society, including a great deal of social stigma. I chose an unconventional career path for a number of years. I choose to write and submit my work and risk constant rejection. I chose not to follow the typical house/kids pathway. But at the same time, I’ve made some very conventional choices, too, and have avoided some things that I’ve always wanted to do out of fear or a sense of overwhelm. So I don’t know what side the tally ultimately falls on, I just know that this time, I took a risk, and I feel a bit overwhelmed by it—but happy and excited, too. A calm voice within me tells me it’s all going to be okay. And it’s all going to be okay for you, too. Just relax and enjoy this video of cats scrambling out of tubs.

--Kristen McHenry

Sunday, November 1, 2015

A New Poem!

I'm not full of much compelling chatter this week, and I’m itching to work on a new writing project and get some work done on my rug, so in lieu of a proper post, here is a poem I wrote recently. It’s the first poem I’ve written in a while, and it's an experimentation with longer lines. Let me know what you think.

The Odyssey

This is the year I swam
length by length back into my body.
I swam with smooth sinuous strokes and tireless limbs.
I swam without
faith, or a way to mark time. I swam in the
void the sea swallowed whole. I swam in soundless
solitary, stupefying, terrible, and swift.

Now I rise like a heron in the midnight pond.
My spine is infinite, my bones divine.
Upon re-entry, I find my flesh
intact. It is worshipful, this vessel. Its
storm of neurons, its earthen feet, the prayer of my hips, my
heart’s cauldron. My ribs, engorged with grief. My belly a safe house.

I shocked the clocks into obedience. In time, I will rise and
rise again,
come to rest in this spawning ground.

--Kristen McHenry

Saturday, October 24, 2015

I Took a Trip, Sitcom FOMO, A New Deck, What Not to Get

This week, I took a little three-day jaunt to the Points of Light Conference on Volunteering and Service in Houston. I was going to blog about the conference in detail, but then I realized the minutia probably wouldn’t be interesting to anyone but me, and I’d prefer not to bore my readers.  In summary, it was a powerful conference, and I’ve returned with some solid tools and exciting ideas that I think will make a difference in my job.  If you’re interested, you can view the wide array of speeches from the afternoon plenaries here. Highlights: George H.W. Bush made a surprise appearance at the first plenary, and his son Neil Bush got teary when he introduced him, Kenna sang, Nancy Pelosi spoke, and John Meachum led a panel discussion with three former White House Chiefs of Staff. In addition to all of the stuff I learned in the seminars, I also discovered that everything in Texas is named after George Bush, air conditioning in the South is ferociously cold and dehydrating, and if you go to the Houston airport, you have to take a tram four miles to find a restaurant.

There wasn’t much to do in the evenings, so after swimming in the hotel pool, I’d just crash out in my room and watch TV, which is how I belatedly discovered “Bob’s Burgers”. I can’t believe I’ve been missing out on it all this time. I will be binge-watching each season as soon as possible. Most of the time when I’m looped out of some pop culture phenomenon, I’m fairly indifferent, but I actually feel deprived knowing that this one got past me. It’s one of wittiest shows I’ve seen years.

I’ve always been interested in the philosophy of the Tarot, and at one time entertained the notion of creating my own deck (before I realized that is a years-long, if not life-long, endeavor.) I’ve always liked the more unconventional decks, and I’ve been wanting a new one for a while, so I dragged Mr. Typist off to my local New Age bookstore today to see what was on offer. Amid an array of overly-sentimental, gooey “fairy cards” and feel-good affirmation decks, I found a highly unusual one called the Steampunk Tarot. The artwork is stunning, and the overall theme explores the intersection of spirituality and technology. It came with a 300-page book and seems to have real meat to its philosophy. I’m going to plunge into the book this afternoon.

In writing news, I wrote a new poem, polished an older one, and conjured an idea for a new fiction series. I’m in the “fun” phase with that one—dreaming, imagining, inviting in the characters. If this one pans out the way I want it to, it will take a fair bit of planning and plotting up front, which is not my strong suit—but maybe I can make it enjoyable. Speaking of plotting, on the plane, I managed to read Marian Keyes latest novel, “The Woman Who Stole My Life.” I normally love her books, but I found this one a bit off-putting because of its needlessly complicated use of flash-backs and flash-forwards. It took a while to get into the rhythm of it, and I was often lost as what part of the main character’s life was occurring when. I don't understand why it couldn't have been written in a more linear fashion. But it did teach me a fair bit about Guillain-Barré Syndrome. Bottom line: It’s terrifying. Don’t ever, ever get it.

 --Kristen McHenry

Friday, October 16, 2015

Book Boon, Poem Haunting, The Trouble with Buddy

Mr. Typist and I took a little jaunt over to our local Value Village today, where I unexpectedly discovered book heaven. I haven’t been in a Value Village in ages, and since I’ve been away, they’ve greatly expanded their book section. Their selections are surprisingly diverse and high-quality, and the books are in very good condition. I bought three—a novel by Marion Keyes, essays by David Sedaris (I think it’s the only one of his I haven’t read), and a poetry anthology. I was pleased to find that the anthology was well-put together and covered a lot of ground. Browsing through it, I re-read some poems that I’ve always cherished, but that have slipped off my radar over the years, including “Diving into the Wreck” by Adrienne Rich. I have an interesting relationship with that poem. It’s meant different things to me over the years, and it always comes into my life when I seem to need it the most. My most recent reading of it this afternoon was definitely the most profound so far. It actually moved me to tears for the first time. Some of the lines from that poem haunt me deeply:

"I crawl like an insect down the ladder
and there is no one
to tell me when the ocean
will begin."

“I have to learn alone
to turn my body without force
in the deep element."

"we are the half-destroyed instruments
that once held to a course
the water-eaten log
the fouled compass"

"the thing I came for:
the wreck and not the story of the wreck
the thing itself and not the myth."

Even though it made me cry, I was happy to have discovered it again, along with some old favorites by Billy Collins, Walt Whitman, and Emily Dickenson. I am dreaming, inviting a new poetry project into my consciousness. I really had to get the novel out of my system, but now that it’s more or less done, I would like to return to poetry in some way again soon. I think my jaunt through the anthology may have jarred something loose. I hope so.

In other creative news, I started a new rug using an iron-on pattern, a much smaller frame, and softer monk-cloth than I used for the first rug. I got part-way through it and then ripped the whole thing out. It just wasn’t working. I think I need a much finer thread to do such an intricate pattern. My owls looked alarmingly deformed, despite how painstaking I was. I want my owls to look like cute cartoon owls, not something you’d hallucinate during some sweaty fever-dream. So I’m going to get some much thinner yarn and see if that doesn’t make a difference.

For a terrible hour or so last week, we thought that we lost Buddy. He has a profound terror of the vacuum cleaner (we think the sound is unusually hard on his ears), so I tucked him into the bedroom closet before running the vacuum, thinking that would help muffle the noise a bit. Two hours later, we saw no sign of him, which is unheard of. He insists on being in close proximity to us pretty much every second of every hour. We dug through every inch of the place, and even rattled the food bag, which always brings him running. Nothing. We concluded that he must have jumped the nine feet off the deck, even though he never has before. I put my raincoat on, got a flashlight, and began the dismal chore of searching for him. It brought back all of those terrible feelings of despair and helplessness from the times that Zooey and Seamus went missing years ago. Buddy is strictly an indoor-only cat for exactly that reason. That, and the neighborhood just isn’t what it was ten years ago. It’s far too busy and crowded now, and sadly, letting a cat roam around isn’t safe anymore.

I came home empty-handed, but luckily, I had missed some texts that Mr. Typist sent while I was trudging around. He had done another sweep of the closet and found Buddy buried deep in one our suitcases, stiff as a board and still terrified. We can’t just not vacuum, so if you have any ideas for how to deal with a cat who is traumatized by vacuum cleaners, I’m all ears.

I know I’ve posted this once before, but more than any other cat I’ve had, this exemplifies Buddy. At 4:45 a.m. Every. Damn. Morning. My nose has the claw marks to prove it.

--Kristen McHenry

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Rug Triumph, Crowd Panic, Competence Porn

This weekend, I finally finished the rug I have been working on for over a year now! All that’s left to do is to edge it and seal it. I felt so giddy and triumphant about finishing it that I started a new rug last night—a much smaller one from a pattern with cute little owls. This pattern is much more precise and detailed, but now that I have one rug under my belt, I’m brimming with confidence and won’t be deterred by the intricacies. Here’s a pic of my rug, unsealed and un-edged:

Recently, I had a great time tooling around with my friend in downtown Seattle. I loved spending time with her, but we went to the Pike Place Market, and for some reason, I was taken completely off-guard by how freakin’ many people were there. I should no longer be shocked by this. I should simply accept the fact that Seattle is permanently overcrowded and that everyone is everywhere all of the time now. But I found myself sweating and confused and panicked by the sheer thickness of the crowds, and I got very disoriented. I actually had to meditate when I got home just to calm myself down. And sadly, I found that my favorite shop in the Market has gone badly downhill. I won’t name names, but this is a shop that used to be a safe haven from the frantic crowds, and a calming, healing place to spend time in. But it’s now cluttered and dirty, both physically and energetically, and all I wanted to do was get out there. It smelled bad, there was a thick, grimy feel to the air, and one of the shopkeepers yelled at my friend for the completely reasonable act of opening a sample bottle that was left out on the shelf—as a sample, presumably to be treated as such. I won’t be going back there again.

I’ve come to enjoy listening to Slate’s podcasts—specifically, the Political Gabfest and the Cultural Gabfest.  This week, The Cultural Gabfest was talking about the movie “The Martian”, and describing it as “competence porn”. I like that phrase, and upon further reflection, I think I like the concept. As exhausting as it is, I enjoy watching movies and TV shows where people walk quickly down hallways surrounded by clipboard-bearing staff who yammer at them.  The fantasy of people being hyper-good at their jobs soothes me. The clip below from the movie “Morning Glory” reminds of the first day on my current job, only I didn’t handle it with anywhere near the aplomb that the main character does. In fact, I’m pretty sure I hid in the bathroom and cried. Nonetheless, I do enjoy a good competence porn scene. With all the laziness and ineptitude I encounter on a daily basis, scenarios in which that people do their jobs well provide me with the calming fantasy that there is order in the world and smart people around to save us from ourselves. 

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Cultural Musings, Weekly Miscellania, Cat Refinements

I recently came across this article in The Atlantic about how common it is to see young children in Japan out in public, unattended by adults. I was captivated by the accompanying video, even though it’s somewhat poorly shot and bizarrely edited. (I’m not able to link to this particular cut here, but you can watch it on their website.) The video is from a popular Japanese reality show that films young children going out on their first unaccompanied errand. I found small details poetic. For example, the older brother is terrified and crying at first, but at some point along the way, he stops to pick up a dandelion seed pod and painstakingly blows on it until every seed is released. Somehow in the midst of his fear, he’s able to give his full attention to the act of re-populating dandelions. (Then he goes right back to sobbing.) I love how his little sister just keeps urging him along, comforting him, but moving him forward, all with a gentle little smile. She even offers to carry his backpack at one point. I also enjoyed the very small moment where the older brother takes some candy from a jar and hands it to his sister first, before taking a piece for himself. The adults in the shops patiently help the children figure out what items they need and which coins are worth what, while the other patrons wait without complaining. Their kindness, and the impulse to put others first, seems automatic and effortless.  

I know there are issues in cultures that value the good of the collective over individualism, and I don’t want to idealize that—I’m aware that Japan’s society has a lot of problems. But I’m amazed at the idea that two tiny children can walk around in public unattended, and the ingrained expectation is that everyone will keep an eye out for them and help them if they need it. The cultural anthropologist quoted in the article says that this is called “group reliance”, and that Japanese children are taught early that “any member of the community can be called upon to serve or help others.” I’m not saying Japan is perfect, I’m just saying that if this had happened in the U.S., CPS would be called, the parents would be arrested, the little sister would have smacked her brother and called him a wuss, the boy would have taken all the candy for himself, and the whole incident would become another internet outrage of the week.

Let’s see, what else to tell you, what else…I’m still in between writing projects, but I have an idea for a new poem. I’m bound and determined to finish my damn rug, already, and soon. And I really want to get back to my regular weekly writing group, which has just not happened for various reasons the last few weeks, most of those reasons being my fault. On that topic, please go and read my friend Lisa’s flash fiction piece here—it just got published and it’s fantastic!  I got 10 cc’s of blood and fluid extracted from my other knee, which is still swollen from the fall I took almost a month ago now. And, I signed and mailed off a contract this week for the new publisher of “The Acme Employee Handbook.” I really hope it works out this time.

I received some hand-knit coasters for Christmas last year, and ever since we got Buddy, they have been MIA. Then I looked under the couch and discovered that he’s been putting his own, Dali-esque touch on them make more interesting:

Before Buddy:

After Buddy:

Which is better? You decide!

Kristen McHenry

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Fashion Week, Rug Punch Redux, I Talked to a Nice Lady, Dalai Lama Dilemma

Although I do love watching Project Runway when I catch it on TV, most of you will find it shocking that I don’t follow fashion trends. I know, I know-- for someone on the bleeding edge of all things sartorial, you would think I’d be glued to the set during Fashion Week, but I’m not. Except I read a piece on Jezebel this week about London Fashion Week, and some of the videos absolutely captivated me. I’ve posted videos of two shows below that I thought were artful, original, and all-around breathtaking. I always wished I could be someone who was good at designing clothes, but I’m not. Fabric and I just don’t get along. I’ve never had a knack for it, and I find the whole sewing thing utterly intimidating, so I’m doomed to be nothing more than a professional appreciater when it comes to beautiful clothes. (And I cut my finger literally to the bone in junior high trying to make a felt locker organizer, which permanently put me off doing anything with a needle and thread.) But I do appreciate a well-thought-out, artfully executed show—something I am good at pulling off—so I really loved these two vids. Also, the first one was the most diverse in terms of race and body type. It’s nice to see someone on the runway besides a tall, skinny white chick.

I talked to a nice advice lady on the phone this week. She said, among other wise things, that I shouldn’t worry about not having a writing project right now; that I am “in the void” since finishing my novel, and the void is powerful, and I that should plant seeds now, and that a new passion project will emerge soon. But also, because I am creative, I should do something else creative. Like sketch, or craft, or something. So I picked up my rug project again, and worked on it more today than I have in over a year. I was super-excited about the amount of progress I made, and so optimistic about completing it that I went to Joanne’s and bought a new round-thingy-you-stretch-the-fabric-on, and some transfer patterns with owls and Merlot wine bottles and such. I am really fed up with the earth tones I’ve been using for the rug I’ve been working on. I’m ready for some purples, some blues, and some bright aqua! She also gave me some other advice that was helpful. If you want the nice advice lady’s contact information, leave a message in the comments session, and I will send it to you.

I had a little bit of a moral dilemma this week regarding the Dalai Lama and his bizarre comments about women. From The Guardian: “Gender equality campaigners have criticized the Dalai Lama for his suggestion that any potential female successor to his role “must be very, very, attractive”. In an interview, the spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhists said there was no reason why a future Dalai Lama could not be a woman – but she would have to be good looking otherwise she would be “not much use”. After puzzling over this for a bit, I told Mr. Typist that I was just going to give the man a pass on this one. I mean, maybe he’s lonely, and he just wants to spend some quality time with a pretty lady, and he’s getting that all mixed up with other things. But after furrowing my brow on this a bit longer, I decided that was a bullshit comment, and the Dalai Lama needs to be called out on it, even though he is a male in his 80’s. I mean, seriously. I don’t know what he was he thinking, but that is just a crap thing to say, and someone needs to educate him on his blind spot. Sorry, but I am no longer giving anyone a pass just because they are deemed “spiritual” and “chosen.” Eff that. Also from The Guardian: Nicole Rowe, spokeswoman for Progressive Women, a charity that seeks to empower women in their professional and personal lives, said: “While we’re pleased to hear the Dalai Lama is in favor of the possibility of a female Dalai Lama, we’re surprised and greatly disappointed that a man of such compassion and wisdom could express such a retrograde opinion.” Uh-huh. My thoughts exactly.

(Edited to fix video glitches.)