Friday, October 31, 2003


Ha, I was right. I told Catherine that ladybug was biting me, but she didn't believe me. They do too bite. There's even photographic proof.

Thursday, October 30, 2003

Not your mother's music.

Not my music, either.

I promised Bobby I'd bring him a list of my CDs so he could pick out some music for me to practice with. I promised him the list three weeks ago, and I finally started writing it up tonight. At first, I just listed out the pop/rock CDs, but then I thought I should add the jazz/big band stuff, just in case, and maybe the country and swing stuff, also just in case. I ended up writing them all down, all twelve pages of them (the key lesson here is "don't listen to Susan when she whines about being busy, because she always finds time to do stupid, pointless tasks"). It turned out to be a rather revealing exercise.

One thing I promised myself when I got involved with Catherine was that I would not let her govern my taste in music. My previous girlfriend's taste dominated the relationship, and when we broke up, I realized I had no idea what I was supposed to listen to--all the music was hers. So, for the first couple of years with Catherine, I very determinedly held to my own aesthetic principles. Maybe it was more like the first couple of weeks, 'cause I'm looking at this list and seeing very little of myself in it. I see a lot of stuff we bought together, but the majority of it isn't mine. I guess that's okay, but it's kind of strange, since I'm supposed to be the musician of the family. Some of the albums are obviously mine--the Korean ones, for instance--but I think even my closest friends would have a hard time figuring out what other ones would go with me if this relationship ended.

Yet one more thing to add to the "when I get a job list": buy more of my own music.

Wednesday, October 29, 2003


  • move door/window schedules to paper space
  • check site plan, make sure water/sewer lines = plumbing plan
  • check site plan, make sure electric lines = electric plan
  • site plan -> service panel, laundry door
  • remove kitchen wall all plans
  • porch + 4'


Fuck. I was pushing the clutter around on my desk so I could move my desk lamp to a more advantageous position, and I knocked over a picture frame. It landed flat on my three model ships, which were relegated to my desk from the living room because we were afraid the cats would wreck them. I managed to do in a half second what the cats couldn't have done in a month.

The drydock has re-opened, I guess.

My project holds promise, if nothing else.

"If a sponsoring editor decides that your project holds promise for our list, he or she will seek, at a minimum, two outside reviews for scholarly projects and one for trade books. To allow for careful consideration of a project, we give our readers six to eight weeks, on average, to complete their evaluation. The review process typically takes three to four months, depending on, among other things, the nature of the project and the availability of reviewers. "

So, now I sit and wait another three or four months. Lovely.

Monday, October 27, 2003

Note the time.

I cannot believe I dragged myself out of bed on a Monday morning to get myself to work on time, only to have them send me home because there wasn't any work to be done. That should be illegal.


On Friday, we bought a cake for no particular reason other than we wanted dessert. We ate some, then boxed it up and left it in the refrigerator. I thought about eating a piece of it this weekend, but decided to wait until Catherine got home so we could share it. If I'd known she'd tucked a note inside the box for me, I would have eaten me a piece the moment she left.


Sunday, October 26, 2003

My rough estimate would be "a lot."

It's difficult to guess how much life can be improved by good friendships.

It was a dark and stormy night.

Preceded by a dark and stormy day. Catherine picked a good weekend to leave town. It was the perfect day to curl up in bed with the cats and read Dante, so that's what I did all afternoon.

Eventually I got out of bed and made good on the promise I made to Garett two years ago, which was to go over to his place and play some music with him. It's really quite amazing. In just a couple hours, we managed to lay down this completely New Age song that we made up on the spot. I definitely didn't expect to turn out something so weird when I started out today, but that's what happens when you wing it. I played all the percussion and the keyboard, Garett played the rhythm and bass guitar. First I laid down a standard clave rhythm on the upbeats, then added the ashiko, then the dumbek, and then the scraper. At that point, it sounded like we had some neo-West African beat going on, but once we added the bass guitar, it completely changed. And since my keyboard playing is almost non-existent, we had to take what we could get, which was a simplistic rendition of a chord, played with one finger. Garett's rhythm guitar almost sounds like a piano playing. Really, really odd, but still, kind of neat that two people can just pick up some noise makers and record a song, just like that.

We're going to take our New Age band, the Ethereal Soundscape, on the road, man.

Saturday, October 25, 2003

E-mail down.

Well, that's the second person in two days that has said to me, "Didn't you get my e-mail?" I'm not even getting spam, which means something is seriously broken.

I arrived at the library a few minutes ago to discover that it had been re-arranged. Not just a bookshelf or two, but the entire library has been changed around. The disoriented feeling was so severe I actually swayed with panic--am I in the right building, the right town? The man behind the new reference desk called out and asked if he could help me find anything. "No...just the library..." He laughed and assured me I had found it. I don't know if he was telling me the truth or not.

I suppose.

I guess if Catherine can let me go off for a wild night in Palo Alto by myself, I can let her go to Chicago without me. I don't have to be happy about it, though. How immature is it that I'm about to spend the next 48 hours fretting about this? I'm sure Garry and Amanda are perfectly safe drivers, and I'm sure they'll all come home just fine on Sunday. I'm sure. I am.

Catherine and I have been having parallel anxiety dreams. She dreams that she's being forced to marry some guy she's never even met. She doesn't want to, and when she gets to the altar, all these men are standing there and she doesn't even know which one she has to marry. When she wakes up, all she wants to do is hold on to me. I dream that I've somehow been offered up to someone else for the weekend, and I don't want to be there. I want to go home, but I can't because there's an electrical storm and it's raining and then the cats get out and are running back and forth across the street in the traffic and I don't want to see them get run over and I have to get home but I can't. And I wake up, and all I want to do is hold on to Catherine.

Damn. I hate having to go to sleep.

Thursday, October 23, 2003

Political Compass.

So, I just spent a few minutes taking the Political Compass test, and I'm thinking the results can't be right. For one thing, there were several questions where Strongly Agree/Agree/Disagree/Strongly Disagree didn't offer the choice I wanted which was "neutral" or "can't decide" or "could you rephrase that in the form of a question?" Anyway, I ended up with:

Your political compass
Economic Left/Right: -7.50
Libertarian/Authoritarian: -6.46

There's no way that can be correct. The chances of me being farther to the left than Nelson Mandela, The Dalai Lama, and Ghandi are pretty damn slim. Or pretty damn fat, whichever way you want to look at it. I think if the questions had been written a little differently, I would have come out more authoritarian than libertarian, without question.

Although the test does try to add depth by considering a "social dimension," my general criticism is that too much emphasis is put on the left-to-right economic spectrum. Okay, it's not the test's fault that we live in an economically unimaginative world, but really, why must my choices be based on an antiquated (okay, 19th century) model of economics? This is 2003, for chrissakes. Why are we incapable of thinking outside the paradigm offered by Marx and Engels? Is it really true we can only be capitalists, communists, or socialists (or somewhere in between these three positions)? Surely we can think of a fourth option.

Not a fourth option, a new option. There must be other systems of economy--based on trading and bartering? I'm not sure--not derived from Marx's interpretation of the collection of the British Library. I mean, the very fact that his system was based on an extensive yet culturally limited set of source material should make us pause and wonder about the validity of his conclusions. Marx describes what he thinks he sees, predicts what he thinks might develop, and suddenly we're totally wed to the idea. And you can't point to the fact that examples of his economic systems exist as proof that he was right. Marx was the master of the self-fulfilling prophecy, a Field of Dreams kind of guy if I ever saw one.

Well, don't even get me started on that Adam Smith, we'll be here all day.


I don't remember accepting this mission.

  • figure out A-COMP-R
  • schedules for floor plans
  • finish roof plan
  • start foundation plan (10/31)
  • chap. 26 questions asap
  • look at chap. 28 again?
  • chap. 31, 32 (10/31)
  • statics
  • call to change appt.
  • query letter (10/27)
  • list of newspapers (10/27)
  • e-mail Steve
  • check locks Kirkwood
  • bin from garage
  • boxes to garage
  • progress meeting? ask Steve
  • balance checkbook
  • shirt for Dad
  • library books 10/24
  • office
  • Garett and Diane
  • 2 doorknobs, rim lock, strike plate
  • receipt to Steve
  • list of hardware to Steve
  • bathroom
  • hair cut

Tuesday, October 21, 2003

Right hand.

Not broken.

Monday, October 20, 2003

Mind the gap.

I like this article, if only because I've tripped on that bloody step in Gay's the Word so many times I've lost count. Not the main point of the narrative, I know, but it's reassuring to know that not every gay and lesbian bookstore in the world has gone under.

I just had to buy her that DVD player...

As part of my Be A Better Spouse campaign, I've decided to watch more movies. Catherine loves movies, but we hardly ever go to the theater because I can't be bothered to sit still that long. When we rent movies, I tend to watch about ten minutes of any given flick, then leave the room. Or, if I stay in the room, I read and miss most of the movie, anyway. So, I'm trying to force myself to watch movies, because I know that it would be more fun for Catherine if she had someone with whom she could discuss them. So, I've just finished my fourth movie of the weekend. Ouch.

I'm not sure the first movie, Matilda, counts, since it was on WTBS when we finally dragged ourselves out of bed. Plus, I'd seen about half of it already. It's a pretty decent kid's film. Dark, but dark in an children's way, not in a Texas Chainsaw Massacre way. I think it got mixed reviews when it came out in the mid-1990s, but it really does a good job of capturing that secret desire of every over-punished kid to develop magic powers and teach those grown-ups a lesson. It was based on a Roald Dahl book (wow, am I ever disillusioned by the fact that he has an official website), which explains everything about it, I think. Very much in the James and the Giant Peach sort of way. Catherine loved the library scenes.

We rented A Shot At Glory because I'd read that it was a good soccer film. I suppose it wasn't an incredibly fantastic film--I didn't really get too pulled into the family drama that formed the subplot--but it had some excellent footie scenes. And I actually shed not one, but *two* sports tears. That makes it a good movie in my book. I wish I had thought to turn on the subtitles before watching it, though. I'll have to do that before we turn it back in to the rental store.

I really expected to like Down With Love. Not love, but like. It was supposed to be a Rock Hudson/Doris Day kind of remake, and I was expecting a light romantic comedy with a bite. Unfortunately, it was a poorly done parody. I know it was supposed to be a farce, but it was an overacted farce, and I couldn't even bear to watch it through to the end. Catherine told me it got better after the (one) plot twist was revealed, but I'm thinking I'm glad I spent my time looking at pictures of skyscrapers instead of watching the movie.

Fourth Film: A Mighty Wind. Anyone who liked Best in Show will like this one. This was Catherine's pick, and I didn't really want to watch it, but it was worth the 4 buck rental fee and 90-minute commitment. Eugene Levy creeps me out on a regular basis, but other than that, I liked it. I really like the trio, and enjoyed watching them pick up different instruments every time they rehearsed. Also, the "neuf-tet" cracked me up, especially the two lead singers who looked like evangelists one step out of prison for tax evasion. Catherine is watching the supplemental material on the DVD right now. I hate DVDs, they take a usually too-long movie and just double it in length.

I've just got to make it through two more DVDs, and I can go back to being bad husband sleeping in the recliner.

Sunday, October 19, 2003

But I expected the old Frank Gehry.

Exit the front door of my building, turn left, and start walking. Walk through downtown, across Wilshire, up up and up the hill, past the Museum of Contemporary Art, past the Wells Fargo building. If you hit the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion or the Mark Taper Forum, you've gone too far. Chances are you won't get that far, though. How could you just walk by Frank Gehry's Walt Disney Concert Hall without pausing to look at it?

I spent way too many hours hanging off the chain link fence across the street from the future concert hall, watching the construction of the concert hall parking garage. In fact, I spent one particularly chill, still Thanksgiving morning on that fence, toes wedged in the gaps, freezing fingers wrapped around the links, trying to figure out what was going to happen (not really knowing that it was just the parking garage taking shape at that point, that the concert hall would be across the street). I think I was the only person breathing in downtown L.A. that day, with the exception of the guy who tried to panhandle me (excuse me, but do you think I'd be standing here out in the cold on Thanksgiving morning if I had any spare change? No, I'd be drinking coffee somewhere warm.) The concert hall was still just a rumor back then, absolutely unimaginable by even the best educated and most knowledgeabe architectural historian. Because in 1988, Frank Gehry was still the architect of found objects, of eclectic residential structures and novelty public buildings. Sure, he was awarded the Pritzker in 1989 (1990?), but I don't think anyone realized that he was about to create a museum typology so recognizable that his early work would be consumed by it, and museum and art culture would be dominated by it.

So, the great concert hall is finished, and if anything it's an anti-climax. So controversial in the late 1980s, its path to completion was paved by Bilbao and the EMP. Even Cleveland has it's own version of Gehry's signature design by now. A concert hall that was simply inconceivable 10 years ago is now common place. We didn't have the visual language to describe Gehry's (future) building back then, but now he's offered so many examples, we can simply shrug and say, "Well, it looks like a Gehry, of course." It's so familiar it's almost banal. It's difficult to convey how amazing that is, that a building that had no blantantly obvious predecessors (although I can sure see it in the architectonic forms of the Vitra Design Museum) could not only contrive to get itself built, but manage to make itself common. What other architecture firm has managed this?

I'm not someone to go around spouting about Great Architects. But reading an article on the completion of the Disney concert hall made me pause, remembering the time I spent on the fence, unable to fill in the hole in the ground in front of me with any sort of structure. And now, I'm unable to not fill it in, unable to not imagine what a Gehry building looks like. It's only been ten years, but my visual vocabulary has entirely changed in that decade. And that in itself is a great thing.


No, it won't become iconic, it's won't represent L.A. to the world. Maybe it will prove to the world that L.A. isn't a cultural "backwater" (not my description), but it won't be a symbol of the city. It's too international of a style, it's too familiar already, it's already located in too many places. If L.A. had built it back when it was commissioned, maybe they would displace Bilbao in the public's mind, but it's too late for that. Nice building, built by a local boy, but it will never belong to Los Angeles exclusively or even primarily.

Saturday, October 18, 2003

Amazingly proud.

The kids at USC have come a long way in the past decade. They're planning on holding a mock same-sex wedding to protest Bush's stupidity. That's amazing, because when I was there, the kids in the campus GLBT group (it was called GLASS back then) expended more energy trying not to get caught talking to another queer in public than they did doing their school work. Hold hands on campus? Wouldn't risk it. Ever. Lesbian editor of the campus newspaper? Run homophobic articles unchallenged so you don't give your queerness away. As I recall, the big crisis of the during the 1991-92 academic school year was that the student director of GLASS wasn't even out of the closet (and I still feel guilty for not being more vocal in my defense of her. I should have excoriated a few self-righteous queens instead of just getting up and walking out). So, although I have no real lingering school spirit for the Trojans, no affection at all, really, I am happy to see the queer kids are doing better and getting braver.

Buy the bag.

What I really need is a canvas book bag to take to the public library. I've been saying this forever, and I've finally started using the book bag that has been stashed in our closet for the past year or so. It's a great bag, nice and sturdy, flat-bottomed, with strong handles. The problem is, Catherine got it as a free gift at a museum opening she went to in New York last year. Yes, that would be the Museum of Sex, and while I think the bag and all the stuff that was in it was a nice gesture, it also has a URL and graphic from a website that specializes in selling sex toys and related accessories. Not that I have any particular hang-ups about that kind of thing, but I just feel uncomfortable inviting speculation on my sex life while walking through the public library. So, I spend the entire two hours I'm there making sure that only the blank side of the bag can be seen by other patrons. That is a freaking waste of energy. Two solutions: get over myself, and educate the world on the purchasing possibilities of the web; or, buy a new bag.

Pretty sure I'll buy the new bag.

Sign of the 'L' on her forehead.

That's right. We've been looking forward to Midnight Madness for a year. Yeah, a full 365 days. I even took a two-hour nap yesterday afternoon so I could stay up late for a change. About nine o'clock, my head was nodding, but Catherine said she would wake me up at 10:45 if I fell asleep. Plenty of time to get over to campus.

10:45 arrives, Catherine wakes me up, and I try to figure out what I'm going to wear. Next thing I know, I'm waking up out of a nightmare about being chased around campus by some unknown menace. Look at the clock, and it's 3:15. And there's Catherine, sound asleep beside me, fully dressed--including her IU Women's Basketball sweatshirt. We slept through Midnight Madness! Someone should be calling us losers, alright.

Therapy sucks.

And we're not going back.

As far as I understood it--and Catherine concurs--the reason we wanted to go to a counselor in the first place was because I seem to be having a hard time coping with the uncertainties of life. I guess not so much that, but because I was having trouble communicating what I needed from her and myself so I could cope. I could tell Catherine was trying to help, but it was mostly making it worse, but I couldn't figure out how to explain to her why things were getting worse and not better, despite all our joint efforts. That's what I understood before we called the counselor. And that's what I understood after the first session, we were going to work on how to balance my general fucked-up-ness with Catherine's general tranquility and work on how to communicate better.

But we got there yesterday, and it was a total waste of time. To begin with, the therapist was running late, so we started 15 minutes later than usual. And she sent us on our way 20 minutes early, so I figure our insurance paid her for 60 minutes, when we were really just there for 25. That would have been okay if they would have been a helpful 25 minutes. I really felt like she just kept blowing me off every time I tried to say something. She kept talking as if finding a new job for Catherine would solve all our problems, and it really just wouldn't. I mean...I might still be unemployed in California, Catherine might hate the job, and then would it be my fault we left here, since I'm the one who forced her to apply? And she might not even get the job, so what, then, will have changed in our lives?

I'm not sure how many times I repeated yesterday that my anxiety level was high already and seemed to be climbing. She dismissed my complaint about not sleeping well by pointing out that I never sleep well. So, what, that makes it okay? Everything is just so unsettled, and I thought it was the therapist's role to help me express my worries so Catherine could understand them. That sure didn't happen. I have no idea what I should be trying to with my life right now. Should I be going to job interviews, trying to get a new job, any job, just in case we stay here? Should I take any job offered so I can get out of the kitchen, which is totally breaking down my body? Can I take a new job then take 3 weeks work off as soon as possible to have shoulder surgery? Can someone please help me with my homework?

I could type for forty hours and still not exhaust the list of questions keeping me awake at night. And an online journal is not exactly the place I hoped to be exploring these issues, but I'm not sure what else I'm supposed to do at this point. I'd like to hire someone to make my decisions for me.

Wednesday, October 15, 2003

Not as bad as I thought it would be.

Just spent two hours on campus, talking to my former boss. I put off talking to him face to face for too long, I guess, but I wanted to make sure my anger was gone before going over there. Also, I knew he would ask me about the online courses I was taking, and I didn't want to have to admit that they weren't going very well. So, it took me awhile to go out to school.

It was okay, though. I rediscovered that Kirk is a nice guy. I just don't think he means to not follow through on his promises, he really doesn't recognize that he's jerking people around. We talked for two hours about the department and course requirements and construction methods and project manuals and trigonometry and machine design and a dozen other things, and I had a good time. It made me realize how starved I am for intellectual stimulation. I have fun at work, and on days when Jay isn't dropping fiberglass trays on my thumb, I'd even say I like my job. But it is good to be around people who share my interests and can hold a spontaneous conversation on a variety of related topics. It's just good to be able to talk about building/construction/design software/architecture and have the person on the other end of the dialogue know exactly what I was talking about. And Kirk and Tom both talk to me like a member of the team, not a student or semi-professional. I like them both as co-workers, and I guess I'd kind of forgotten about that with all the frustration I was feeling with the job itself.

They were also reassuring about my online courses, confirming my suspicions that the instructor teaching the courses is completely inadequate. I'm trying to just work through the homework and get it over with, but I lack motivation because the material isn't clear, I'm not getting any feedback, and I just don't see any point (other than to get it done so I can graduate). I finally sent a really pointed e-mail to my instructor, indicating that it was 8th week of class, and I had yet to get any assignments returned, and that had to change, and in reply I received the assignment back for one of the three classes that I turned in during week 2, with no other discussion of the matter, no other feedback. I know that sucks, but it was still nice to get independent verification of the fact. It was good to be validated, to hear that my expectations aren't unreasonable.

As we left it, I'll get in touch with Kirk when we know what Catherine's career plans are, which will hopefully be w/in the next month. He knows he has one course available to teach, with the possibility of anywhere between 1 and 4 other courses opening up. And as I was sitting there talking about some arcane Revit feature, I realized that even though I'm not particularly wild about teaching, not particularly thrilled about low pay for a lot of work, that I do want to work in my field. Is one course enough? No, we can't live on it, but maybe I can piece something else together if I need to.

Oh, so disgusting.

I know some people think it tastes good, but my theory is: if a recipe calls for 5 pounds of sour cream, 5 pounds of mayonnaise, and 5 pounds of bleu cheese, the end product should not be consumed by humans.

Monday, October 13, 2003

Fuck the AC joint.

So, this is the diagnosis, arthritis of the AC joint. The orthopedic surgeon would like my permission to take off an inch of my collarbone. I'm thinking--no fucking way.

Builder by birthright.

I don't get to talk much to my dad anymore. He's lost his voice, and we only have about 30 seconds at a time for him to spit out whatever he thinks is important at the moment, then we have to wait for another day. Lately, he's been tossing me little bits and pieces of the family tree, trying to get me to chase up more information about his side of the family. We already know a lot of the family history--at least one branch of his family came over in the 1700s (my mom once thought about signing me up with the Daughters of the American Revolution in hopes of getting college scholarships for me, thank god she never got around to it), and one of my ancestors fought in the War of 1812 under Commodore Perry. That seems pretty cool.

Even more cool, though, is to discover that straight up the branch of the family tree that gave me my last name sits a builder and building contractor, my great, great uncle August, born in Saxony, moved to Ohio in 1866. As it turns out, I've probably even seen some of his work: He was given a contract in 1890 to remodel the state capitol building in Columbus, Ohio. According to his obituary, during his life he "took pride in the fact that he had built 15 churches and 40 school houses. The German Lutheran, English Lutheran and Methodist Episcopal churches, Second National Bank, Y.M.C.A., Kearsley residence, Chesney residence, of his home town of Bucyrus, the Ohio Wesleyan university building at Delaware, the Espiscopal church, the Indianola Methodist church, and the St. Philips churches at Columbus, being some of his edifices. At the time of his death he was just completing the $25,000 residence for Mr. Creith, the Columbus lumber man, and buildings all over Columbus mark his activity in the contracting line; in one year his contracts in Columbus amounting to $250,000."

Right now we're planning a road trip to Bucyrus for Thanksgiving weekend. My great grandfather's home doesn't exist anymore, neither does the planing mill that gave all the carpenters and furniture makers in my family their starts, but some of the other buildings designed by my uncle are still standing. And I'd like to find the cemetery and take some photos of the family burial plot for my dad.

At least I know now from whom I got my greed for power tools. That's not a bad legacy to inherit, I say.

Sunday, October 12, 2003

Worth the jail time.

Obviously, I'm going to have to make a road trip to Laramie, Wyoming, sledge hammer in hand. He can try to carry through with his plans, but I'm perfectly willing to spend some quality time in jail if that's what I have to do. I can knock it down as many times as he can put it up, private property be damned.

My people.

Yeah, this would be my people. Don't mess with us.

Get with it, dude.

I am so out of touch with my people. Today is National Coming Out Day. My own coming out story is dead boring, so read someone else's instead.

Saturday, October 11, 2003


Mmm...Catherine gave me my anniversary present a few weeks early.

My electric screwdriver, which sucked in the first place, died about a year ago, and I've been using my drill to do the job. What a hassle--drill a hole, take out the bit, put in the screwdriver head, fasten the screw, take the screwdriver head out, put the drill bit back in, drill a hole, repeat ad infinitum in situations where you can't just drill a line of holes but need to go one by one. I often end up just using a manual screwdriver, but that just kills my hands, so I can't do very many that way. Anyway, my whining paid off in the form of a Black and Decker electric screwdriver this morning. A much better design than my original driver, so I'm happy.

Power tools for everyone, that's my motto.
Kind of crazy around town and at work because of homecoming. I hauled over two tons of dough this week, and I feel like my ulna (or is it my radius? I can't tell) is about to break through the skin at my elbow. Bad joint! Bad!

I can complain about my job, but at least it pays for my drum lessons. I met with Bobby today while Catherine went to the homecoming parade. I always knew Bobby was a fantastic drummer, he's worked with a lot of famous groups and donesome great studio work, but today I found out that Jeff Porcaro of TOTO used to be his teacher. That's pretty damn cool--two degrees of separation between me and Jeff Porcaro! He also told me that Jeff's father, Joe, taught him how to really get the swing beat down (instead of counting it, think of it as "Please shut the door, shut the door, shut the door." It works!).

Got together with Catherine for dinner at The Trojan Horse, finished up in time to catch the end of the homecoming fireworks over Dunn Meadow, then headed off to watch the IU women's volleyball team get their butts kicked by Michigan. Oh, well, can't win them all. A nice evening, though, and it made us really pause and think about whether we really want to leave Bloomington or not. It's looking more and more like Catherine might be headed toward a job offer, but neither of us want to be responsible for making the decision to stay or go. We're just kind of hoping that a) there will be no job offer; b) if there is, it will be so fantastic we can't turn it down; or c) if there is, it will be so awful we won't have to think twice about turning it down.

Argh. Everything is so complicated. On Thursday, Steve at BRI suggested he might be able to find enough work to keep me busy, and that's something I really, really want to do, but I hate not being up front with him about the very real possibility that we might leave in January. And he might have just been making chit chat, not thinking that I really would be interested in the nuts and bolts work of affordable housing projects. And then, today I got a phone call offering me an interview to do production work at a local publish-on-demand company. I don't think the work itself is that great, but the salary is better than my current one, and it would have benefits. But I just got a raise at my current job, and I know it's not a good job, really, and it's breaking my body into little, tiny, bitter pieces...but it is kind of fun.

Okay, obviously thinking should not be happening at 9:30 on a Friday night. I could go around in circles for hours. Better just to remember we had a good time tonight, and we can have good times wherever we are and wherever we go, and it's best just not to worry about it.

Friday, October 10, 2003

Everybody loves the new carpet:

New carpet in the living room

New carpet in the living room

New carpet in the living room

New carpet in the living room

Thursday, October 09, 2003

Finally alert enough to do that math. No wonder I'm so tired. We did 35-1/2 batches of dough yesterday. Each batch is 55 pounds. That's almost a ton of dough I had to pick up and load into trays. 1,952 pounds of dough, plus the weight of the trays, man, my elbows ache.

Tuesday, October 07, 2003

Hm...I'm pretty sure I got a tetanus shot before I went to Costa Rica. Maybe I should check with the wife on that.

Monday, October 06, 2003

Yeah, I know I'm old and pathetic.

When the paychecks came in to work today, all my co-workers were "Yeah! Drugs and alcohol! Drugs and alcohol!" And I was "Yeah! I can finally get that cortisone shot in my shoulder!" Definitely a bad sign.

The funny thing about this California deal--I didn't use to hate Arnold Schwarzenegger. I didn't watch a lot of his movies, but every now and again, he'd release one I liked. Now, however, I'll probably never see another one, not even if he goes back to light comedy. Did he mean to tank his acting career? I just have to wonder at his naivete during this whole campaign process. Wasn't he paying attention during the Clinton administration? Dork.
Whenever I'm feeling depressed (which is--stupidly--a frequent occurrence), I just trot on over to and let them make me feel welcome.

Other weird things from Doyle and Alex:
Today was Catherine's big volunteer day with the Monroe County Humane Association. Every year she helps organize the Walk for the Animals, and every year I fail to show up. I finally made it there today, though, and even walked the circuit with Erika and Henry (oh, and the dogs, Foghat and Dinah). Many, many, MANY happy dogs out there today.

I've decided I'm just too high strung to be a dog owner. They never stop moving, never! You'd think I'd never owned a dog, but that's not the case. It's just that having a dog in the family when you're growing up is vastly different from being solely responsible for the beast. Can't do it, I don't think. Not home enough, not patient enough when I am home. I'd snap in a second. I can barely handle our nutcase kitten, imagine what would happen to my nerves if I added a basset hound to the mix.

Sunday, October 05, 2003

What, exactly, is feminist architecture? The problem with architectural theory/history is that when it really comes down to building a structure that occupies social space, there is only a very tenuous relationship between the words on the page and the nails in the wall. Most architectural historians have no practical experience with building; in fact, I can't think of a single one of my friends working in the field who have actually built a house...or even a shed. It's all theoretical. Don't get me wrong, I LOVE theory, but lately I've been wondering what I can offer to the world as a designer/builder that I couldn't offer as a historian, and I keep coming back to this idea of building as a feminist. It's an entirely different endeavor than writing as a feminist, I think.

As a historian, as a writer, I'm perpetually occupied with the is and the was, rather than the what could be. And perhaps that is the great flaw of architectural theory--it's very seldom speculative, no science fiction allowed. It's not that writing isn't creative, and I've always maintained that writing history isn't much different that writing a historic novel (you just have to provide more footnotes), but it's still primarily occupied with examining what has already happened instead of what might happen in the future. There are architectural critics writing about what they are seeing right now, but those buildings are already the past, already built, already alive. I want to get to them before that stage, when I can still change them into something I believe in. Not that I necessarily believe that the built environment can be transformative, but just in case it is, I want my mind and hands involved at an early point in the design process.

So, what is my responsibility as a [liberal/feminist/lesbian/socialist] designer? At a very basic level, I want a building that functions more than I want anything else. I'm an advocate for universal healthcare; likewise, I believe all humans should have the right to safe, functional, and sanitary dwellings. While the intellectual in me really loves buildings that challenge our conceptions of how space is supposed to work (Eisenman's Wexner Center comes to mind), I think those kind of structures should be designed only for quasi-public spaces (places like museums *not* gov't buildings, which should always provide equal, non-challenging access to public services). I don't believe every human needs a 3,000 sq. ft. house. In fact, I don't think *any* human needs a 3,000 sq. ft. house. Our society craves privacy and individualized space, but you don't need a behemoth of a house to gain that.

Huge houses are socially irresponsible on many fronts. In materials alone, they are devastating the planet. Yes, you can raise timber for wood-framed houses on plantations (monoculture bad!), but what about all the remaining building materials? Synthetic insulation, composition roofing shingles, vinyl siding, even latex paint is bad news. Everything is required in greater quantities, even the pipe to run cold and hot water supplies. Plus, the bigger the footprint of the house, the more soil you disturb during the building process. The more ground you cover, the more problem you have with run-off. More sq. ft. means more space to heat. It's just not an environmentally wise decision.

This is one thing I like about Habitat of for Humanity. Their mission is to build "simple, decent, affordable houses" for as many people as possible, so they build small houses so they can afford to build more. I love the compactness of the plans. This is also why I like working for Bloomington Restorations. By renovating historic homes for low-income buyers, we're not necessarily using less building material--it can take as much to renovate as build from scratch--but older homes tend to be smaller and thus waste fewer resources over the life of the house once we've got it insulated and energy efficient.

So, as a liberal environmentalist, energy efficient affordable housing is huge in my book. But as a feminist? There has to be something more. There has to be a recognition that single-family dwellings don't work for the majority of women (even though that's all we design in school). For instance, in my own family, my great niece is being raised by her mother and her grandmother. To make the living arrangements work, they had to completely remodel the grandmother's house, converting a garage into a living space for the mother, which turned out to be a huge hassle because zoning laws didn't take into account that two adults might be co-habitating and still need separate bedrooms. A cursory survey of statistics indicates that there are something like 12 million single parents in the U.S., and according to the U.S. Census Bureau Household and Family Characteristics March 1998, 84% of children who live with one parent live with their mother. Clearly, my family isn't particularly unusual.

Let's face it. Men aren't going to do the work for us. I'm not into all that 1970s womyn-loving-wimmin-helping-womon ideology, but I do think that I should probably start taking care of my own if I can. Women shouldn't have to modify traditional dwellings to meet their needs, that certainly doesn't fall under "best practices" for architects. There is a paucity of affordable housing designed for single parents, and maybe I should think about working to change that. I wouldn't be alone, there are already organizations like Women's Housing and Economic Development Corporation and Women's Research and Development Center (teaching women how to install drywall!) doing things like this. I don't know why I can't contribute to the movment.

To finish this long-winded post, a list of some of my favorite affordable housing projects (feminist or otherwise), taken from the Affordable Housing Design Advisor:

Holladay Avenue Homes, San Francisco, California
YWCA Family Village, Redmond, Washington
Viviendas Asistenciales, Tuscon, Arizona
Melrose Court, Bronx, New York
The Reservoir, Madison, Wisconsin

Saturday, October 04, 2003

Random thoughts for the day:

  1. Obviously the majority of the people in California are on crack. How else can you explain the fact that Arnold is still in the race? Good on the Oakland Tribune for rescinding its endorsement of him, bad on the Oakland Tribune for thinking he was a good candidate in the first place.
  2. Is it my imagination, or is the entire world suddenly looking at my hair? Time to shave it off. Half way through today's concert, our conductor was advising me to play out because I had a significant snare part on the next song. "You have to play out because you're playing into the wind. I can tell you are, because your hair is standing straight up." So, I started the song thinking about the feasibility of a buzz cut instead of the music.
  3. I hate people, I really, really do. We went to the discount movie theater today to watch Finding Nemo, and the place was crawling with children. One mother left her young son alone in our row to hold down four seats while she went and gathered her other two kids. Pretty soon, here come these two adults trying to take this kid's seats away from him. He was obviously not going to be able to hold them off, so I said that I thought that they were saved, but the woman was all, "Well, I'm going to sit there, anyway" and tried to push past my legs. I repeated myself, and her boyfriend said, "Seats aren't taken until someone is sitting in them." Relax, dude! Don't you have better things to do then push this little boy around? What is it with people? I find it hard to believe we will ever have peace in the middle east when two supposedly mature adults think it's okay to push around a little kid.
  4. Living with Catherine is a lot like living with a blue tang fish named Dory.

Friday, October 03, 2003

How embarrassing.

Today, I missed the green left-hand turn arrow because I was thinking about baseball, of all things. I glanced up and saw the arrow turn yellow, and finally realized the car behind me was honking. I wanted to apologize, but what would I say anyway? "Sorry about that left turn thing, I was thinking about the World Series." Right.

When I was a kid, we lived pretty close to Tacoma. Some of my best memories are of my mom popping up a big grocery bag full of popcorn, and then my parents loading us all into the van to go watch Triple A ball at Cheney Stadium. I still think fondly of that greasy paper bag being passed up and down our row of box seats behind home plate.

Tacoma was a farm team for a lot of different clubs and they had a lot of different mascots--they were the Twins when we first started watching them, and then I think they became the Tugs. They were the Tigers the last time I saw them, part of the feeder system for the Oakland A's. I loved that last season--it was Jose Canseco's last (and I believe first) year in the minors. He showed up mid-summer, and our attendance record went up accordingly. We were all about seeing Jose play.

The last game I went to in Tacoma was Canseco's last game in the minors. We were bitterly disappointed when we arrived and saw that he wasn't dressed--we came to see him! But then this rumor started going through the crowd: he'd been called up, he was going to the Big Leagues! Ah...I get a sports tear in my eye just remembering the feelings of anticipation and excitement because of one of *our boys* got called up. He didn't play that night, but he did step out and hit a few home runs for the fans. Bashed three over the wall at center field, then stepped across the plate and did the same thing batting left. It was awesome.

Well, he was great to watch, he was the 40-40 man, after all. Before everything started going wrong, before he became a perpetual member of the disabled list and/or police blotter. Somewhere in there, around the time he was traded to Texas, I stopped watching baseball, and the strike made that a more or less permanent decision for me. Yeah, I've still got my collection of baseball cards hanging around, and I still think they're cool, but I guess I don't really watch much ball anymore.

Well, this is a long-winded explanation of why I've decided to go for Oakland to win the Fall Series. I know that "chicks dig the long ball" and all that, but that small-ball moment Oakland had the other night against Boston reminded me that I really need to be rooting for the home team, and for me, that would still be Oakland. So, I apologize to my partner, who is backing the Cubbies, and I apologize to my friend, who is going for the Giants, but I'm all in it for the A's. Or, as the t-shirt says, "My favorite team is Oakland...and whoever is playing against Atlanta."

Play ball.
Well, now I get to make a choice.

I've been pretty good at just letting things slide at work, letting my co-workers talk about whatever the heck they want to talk about. If it gets too bad, I just say something like, 'Hey, chick in the dough room, and she doesn't want to hear about your equipment, okay?" and everyone just laughs and I usually succeed in getting the subject changed. I haven't complained about the music, I haven't complained about the punk rock boys calling each other "bitch," I haven't really done much of anything except my job.

But really, should I have to listen to this at work? I thought I was doing pretty good letting this one slip by without comment, but I'm not sure I can keep my mouth shut if I have to listen to this one again. I don't know, the only other woman in the kitchen doesn't complain, and I feel like I shouldn't, either, but really, can I really be expected to be happy about going to work when I know this stuff is going to be going full blast all day long?
When I was on the plane from St. Louis, there was this kid sitting back one seat from me but across the aisle. About half way to Indy, I heard him say, "You can still see Mars! That's bullshit! That's just bullshit! You can still see Mars!" Now I wish I had turned around and asked him why that was such a problem.

Thursday, October 02, 2003

Hockey weather.

It's a beautiful autumn afternoon, bright and sunny, but cool enough that you need a long sleeved t-shirt or sweatshirt over your shorts. A perfect day to be heading toward the rink with your equipment bag pulling on your shoulder, and your stick banging against your shins as you kick it across the parking lot. Early season ice, pristine and clear and hard, just waiting for the bite of your blade, the feather of a C-cut spraying toward the boards. The blue line gives way to the red line and then you're back out of the zone again, circling around the center and back over the blue again, forward then backward, that mohawk turn isn't quite right. Adjust your laces, check your outside edge. Quick start, sudden stop, take a breath, do it again.

It's a great day for hockey.

Wednesday, October 01, 2003

The real question is: what the hell do they feed their yellow jackets on the West Coast? I wanna know. 48 hours later, and I still feel like someone jabbed a hot needle through my knuckle. A knitting needle, if I'm not mistaken. What's up with that?

Well, I meant to audioblog while I was gone, but mostly I couldn't be bothered. Too much stuff going on, too little time. Waaay too little time.

I can barely remember the flight out, it seems like it was five years ago. Oh, wait. Air sickness, that's right. I wish I had known that was going to be the leitmotif of the weekend's symphony..."Here's Susan feeling sick on the plane, here's Susan feeling sick on the the car...on the plane the the wedding..." What a fucking waste of energy, an endless fugue of illness and pain.

Anyway, despite that, it was an easy trip to Portland, and an easy trip to Sacramento and then Chico from there.

I think Friday went okay. Well, right--I think my heart stopped when Catherine announced Susana's arrival, but CPR wasn't actually required, so that's okay. It ended up being a pretty nice, low-key evening of shopping and dinner and chatting. I managed to spill coffee on myself (twice by Monday, in fact), but I mostly just thought it was funny.

But, yeah, I wish I could have most of Saturday back to do over. There were really good parts of it, like walking in Bidwell Park, but by the time the wedding rolled around, I was so sick all I wanted to do was curl up in a ball and cry. It should be easy to spot me in the wedding photos--I'm the one who looks like she's about to pitch forward and crack her head open on the concrete. It's really too bad, the wedding was at the most beautiful spot up on the Skyway, but I honestly think Susana enjoyed herself more than I did, and they weren't even her relatives. Well, I've hidden away a few moments from the day to take out later and enjoy them, and hopefully the rest of it will just fade from memory after a bit.

I am so fucking un-butch, I almost asked Susana to drive us home from the wedding. But I probably would have burst into tears, and that would have been absolutely humiliating. It's kind of funny now, I had this raging dialogue with myself the entire way down the canyon, telling myself "You cannot wreck the car. You cannot. You have your wife, your mother-in-law, and your greatest friend in here, and you will hold it together and get them home. You CAN.NOT.WRECK.THE.CAR." And I didn't. Didn't hit that 'possum, either, so it all worked out okay in the end.

And when we got home, we watched Roger and Me and quite frankly, once you've contemplated life in Flint, Michigan, it doesn't matter how crappy you feel--your life can only look perfect in comparison.

Oh. Someone should have reminded me of that on Sunday when I was bitching at Catherine. I could have used it. I know everyone else was still in wedding mode, but I had my eye on my watch the entire time, watching the rest of my weekend tick away. Watching, and getting more and more annoyed because I wanted to be out of Chico, on my way south, a lot earlier than we were. I am so high-strung, I don't know how Catherine stands it. I didn't even begin to relax until we hit Sacramento.

I'm not sure when I totally relaxed. Definitely by Monday morning. When the alarm went off, I had the passing thought that I should get out of bed and take a shower before anyone saw my hair, but that was pretty quickly replaced with an "Ah, screw it, I'm too tired." And ten minutes later, S. did me the favor of pointing out that it was indeed sticking up all over--a true friend :)

The interesting thing about the internet that I'd never really thought about before--it masks motion. E-mail is static, web pages are mostly static, and you just don't get the sense that someone is actually moving around behind those words. Sitting and typing, more likely. Well, I discovered that Susana is a perpetual motion machine. I saw a bit of it on Friday and Saturday, but wow, once she hit her own front door, it was amazing, especially since I was still in "don't make me move" mode. It is absolutely fantastic to watch someone inhabit their own space, it really is (even if it was a bit dizzying to watch her toast a bagel). But what *really* got me was that her rapidity was punctuated by these moments of absolute stillness when she was thinking. I would ask a question, and everything would just freeze for a few seconds. The first couple times it happened, I thought it was just that she hadn't heard me or something, then I realized, Oh my god, she's actually trying to give me a well-thought out answer. How cool is that? Cool, and for some reason endearing. I don't know, I can't explain it. Just a completely opaque and silent moment when I have no idea if she's going to say yes, no, or fuck off, like she's drawn into herself examining the possibilities. I don't know, just very, very cool.

Needless to say, Monday was my favorite day of the whole trip. At one point, I was trailing after her (if I am ever cast in a Hollywood film, it will be as the sidekick, eternally drifting along behind the protagonist), heading toward her pickup, and I suddenly channeled myself at 10, 11, 12, when I used to follow my cousin, Sheryl, around in this hero-worship sort of manner, all excited because she was going to take me along where ever she was going, and maybe if I was good and quiet and didn't sing off key, she would let me stay on. All that was missing this weekend was the 8-track player in the truck. Otherwise, I was totally there for a few seconds.

I just needed more time. Time to not be sick, time to get rid of my family obligations, time to just *be*. Hopefully some day. I don't know, as I was standing in Liz's yard, trying not to look like an idiot because everyone was staring at me, I felt just like an angry three year old, robbed of my favorite toy (C: Why are you crying? S: I don't want her to go! Make her come back!).

Yeah. Anyway. I'm trying to console myself with the fact that I should get a lot of mileage out of the broken toilet handle over the next couple of years.

It is SO COLD in Indiana. Completely cruel to give me sunny, warm California for a few days, then plunge me into freezing temperatures. The flight from St. Louis, which was delayed *forever* came sans heater. We did manage to get home five and a half hours before I had to be at work, and now that I'm home from there, I'm getting in some quality time with the cats. Life ain't all bad.