Sunday, October 30, 2011


So I do this thing sometimes, and I want to know if other people do it too. Whenever I lie down on my side and curl up, I tend to tuck one of my hands between my knees. I don't know why I do it, but I do it all the time. Is that normal, or is it a weird thing?

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Canvassing the childproof dungeon

This weekend I did three things I hadn't done in a long time: babysitting, door-to-door voter canvassing, and in-person Dungeons and Dragons. Since half of my standing D&D game moved to the east coast, that has been largely a Skype-based interaction, which is fun, but I had forgotten how much more fun it is to all be in one place! The good news is that our group will all be in one place soon, so yay!

The babysitting I had done as part of a group at Summercamp, but not on my own for a long time. It was exhilarating knowing that I can care for two helpless larval humans even when one is sad/tired/hungry!

The voter canvassing I used to do a LOT of, before Mom got very sick. Once that happened, I became so emotionally fragile that any mention of any emotion pretty much made me fall apart on the spot, and talking to strangers about their feelings on gay people was pretty much a surefire recipe for total collapse. Since some time last spring, I've been feeling strong enough to handle it, but I hadn't been in LA and free for one of the Vote for Equality canvasses since then, until Saturday.

Basically, all of these (wildly different) activities get me away from my usual occupation of staring at a computer screen and ignoring other humans, aka graduate school, for an entire day! I talk to people who are actually right there next to me in the real world! Yes, I look at a character sheet that is on my laptop, and I carry around a little video player to show people campaign ads, but those are screens in the service of primarily interacting with the people who are so close to me that I can accidentally kick them (and, with my award-winning klutziness, I often do). And when babysitting, no screens at all!

The ridiculously disproportionate amount of enjoyment I got from all of these marathon activities (approximately 6:30-10:30 on Friday, 8:20-4:30 on Saturday, 11:30-7:40 on Sunday, the equivalent of 2.5 days of work at a full-time office job) reminded me of how much I dislike having the people who matter to me be, on average, about 3,000 miles away. I have wonderful people right here too, of course, but boyfriend and family and huge tracts of friends are just too far from me! Some have even decided that Shanghai and London and Paris are acceptable places to be, which is just ludicrous. I want to see my people in real life!

I don't have much of a point really. I had fun being a substitute dad, a gay rights canvasser and a dwarven alchemist and I sometimes miss the simplicity of life before college when almost all of the people who mattered to me lived within a three-hour-drive radius from where I lived and in several directions that drive led into the ocean, so the radius really only described a sector rather than a whole circle.

Saturday, October 15, 2011


Sometimes you open up your laptop on a Saturday morning and apprehensively open your emails from students, hoping that nothing actually requires your immediate attention, and then you discover that a student who was struggling with hir thesis has discovered a novel about a vampire who was friends with Rachmaninoff and now ze has a thesis.

I'm pretty sure that's the best kind of email to get from a student.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

One year later

Well, that's it. A year has gone by since Mom died. There are no more firsts, or at least no more first annuals. Today was bearable, even though it was hard. I have a headache that won't quit, so I'm going to try to go to sleep. I miss you, Mom. So much.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

On the death of Steve Jobs

I'm typing on my MacBook, but that's not important. I recently acquired an iPhone, but that's not important either. What matters is that when my mom couldn't talk anymore, when she had lost the use of her facial muscles, there was something called an iPod Touch that she could type on and show people, so she could keep communicating, and when she couldn't type on that tiny screen anymore, there was something called an iPad that she could type on and it would actually read what she had typed, loud enough for my dad to hear it.

Before she got sick, Mom was always afraid of computers, afraid of any electronic technology, and Apple products were just barely easy enough to use for her to tolerate them in her life. Once she learned how to use our old Mac Plus, she refused to acknowledge that there could be any other form of computer that would work for her sole computing need: word processing. She hung onto that old box, without hard drive or color screen, until about 1998, typing her briefs and memos and various legal documents. There is a peculiar kind of irony in the fact that in the last months of her life she relied entirely on what was then (and mostly remains now) a strange and expensive toy for the technologically savvy, a portable video game console cum laptop that didn't do the one thing she always wanted computers to do. By then, she couldn't type more than one finger at a time anyway, so the lack of a decent word processor wasn't a huge issue anymore.

The iPad wasn't designed for ALS patients. The text-to-speech app she used was not designed by Steve Jobs, or by anyone at Apple. But the fact remains that this product, a luxury good that was not made for her purposes, was the best and cheapest item available for allowing her to keep talking to us. When she stopped talking near the end, it wasn't because she couldn't use the iPad anymore, but because she couldn't formulate the words and phrases even in her mind.

I didn't know Steve Jobs, and I didn't follow his every move as obsessively as some tech-and-Apple geeks I know. I do know that the products he helped to design made the last year or so of my mom's life nearly bearable, eased her gradual loss of ability for both her and her friends and family. For that, I am deeply grateful. I hope that the end of his life was nearly bearable for him and for his friends and family.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Kick it

Good for you, high school student in Michigan who is the first girl on your school's varsity football team and also the homecoming queen.

Bad for you, parenthetical assurance in the article about the girl that she would totally have worn a dress for her coronation, really she would, if she hadn't been in her football uniform at half time. Could we just let her have her wonderful simultaneous victories without the coded (BUT SHE'S NOT A LESBIAN I PROMISE)?

Also, why is she the only member of the team not in uniform for the photos? Oh well, at least she's actually shown kicking a football in one picture, not just posing in her tiara.

Saturday, October 1, 2011


I do believe Bank of America has come up with a solid plan to prevent people from leaving. They just slow down online banking to a crawl and there's no way to conveniently withdraw our money! Brilliant!

Actually, I'll be closing my account on Monday, as soon as my ridiculously large registration fee for my conference in England clears: £120 plus a $35 fee to wire the money, for a total of either $222.49 or 155, if you ignore the units. Once that's taken care of and all of my automatic monthly payments to, if I recall correctly, the ASPCA, the ACLU, the LA Gay and Lesbian Center, and The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force are switched over to my credit union account where my Planned Parenthood donations come from, I'll be all set!

Yes, it's a sort of bragging, but I am actually proud of where my money goes, and I like publicly feeling good instead of publicly feeling pitiable, so deal with it. And if you have recommendations for other places it should go, feel free to share in comments.

Now I just have to figure out why so much of it is going to "*Sanitation Charges" on my electric bill...