juushika: Drawing of a sleeping orange cat. (Default)
Last month was my birthday. Dee's family came down just before it (her brother and I share a birthday); her brother stayed a few days and her mother stayed some time longer. I went down to Corvallis in the middle of her mother's visit, to see Devon and go to dinner with my family. When I came back up I housesat for a weekend while Dee drove her mother back up north.

The company was lovely and only a little introvert-taxing. Dee, her mother, and I went down to Powell's for an afternoon and Dee bought me my birthday gift of books: three CJ Cherryh novels (one a reread) and the Steerswoman series that I just finished and loved. I went in with my alphabetized, color-coded* to-buy list and still barely managed to hunt everything down and make purchasing decisions in a reasonable amount of time. I'm used to feeling harried when I go book shopping, but I dream of one day having time to browse.

* colors since updated to reflect Powell's room colors, because it's a useful mnemonic and also pretty

The trip to Corvallis was mostly miserable, and I blame that on myself. Birthdays have become harder and harder, this one especially so, and when I see Devon I always dredge out my worst in some subconscious expectation that he will fix it. I've never matured, never become self-reliant; most of the frustrations in my life exist because I am a dependent, not a contributor—thus the long-distance relationship, living circumstances, material goods both frivolous and essential that I don't have, untreated health issues, &c. It's easier to get away with those things in your twenties, when people assume you just haven't grown up yet. But with each birthday, it's more obvious that I will never grow up; my maturation was halted by mental illness and now all my energy is forever diverted into dealing with the crazy. I'm aware that birthdays are universally fraught, but this one was especially dour.

Devon gave me Nagisa Momoe Nendoroid I've wanted for a while, though. That was good.

Nagisa/Charlotte/Bebe is one of my favorite characters of all time. I love her creepy/cute imagery and the way she changes the tone of PMMM; and while I had arguments with PMMM: Rebellion—and normally dislike mascot-/moe-bait characters—I loved her in the film. It's powerful and narratively-appropriate to turn a witch into a person, and, cutesy and mascoty as it is, I resonate with the cheese thing. I've called her Our Patron Saint of Cheese, and it's not quite in jest: she's an icon for the frustrating longing of what we want and can't have, which is indulgent and foolish but remains legitimate, none the least because it indicates why we can't have it (see: fan theories re: her character). There are a lot of things which would make my life better: if I were self-reliant, if being a dependent were financially viable, if there were societal accommodations for my dependency—all valid wants, so the smaller wants are valid too, even when petty or obsessive or in the form of a cute figure. And I have so many wants, small and large. To have her seems to prove the rule; still, I love her, my idol of wanting, so well-timed to my birthday-related frustrations.

When I saw my parents, they didn't have a gift, they just asked me to provide a wishlist of things I needed or wanted, with a subtext of "we can tell you don't really have the means to look after your basic needs; can we help via a birthday gift?" which is true, thoughtful, and hit too close to home: another reminder of the tie between my longings, my disability, and my age. I still need to write that list.

Anyway. I came back into town, had a quiet weekend housesitting the cats which I absolutely consider an auxiliary birthday gift. And then I was hit by a week of debilitating back pain, which (knock on wood) has since passed and which had no trigger, cause, aid, anything really; it was out of the blue and unrelenting. And as soon as that began to clear, my keyboard blew up. It did a low-key, static "acts like you spilled water on it" crosswiring, but no water had been in its vicinity for a year so fuck if I know; I unplugged it, made do to a shitty wifi keyboard; got fed up with shitty wifi keyboard, plugged my old one back in, and it worked perfectly again in a sort of universe-provided bit of gaslighting, "none of your frustrations or problems are real, ahahahahaha"—and then 24 hours after that it broke again in precisely the way it had before. I don't know. A new keyboard is here now, because unexpected necessary purchases don't trigger aforementioned anxieties at all, my old keyboard is probably possessed by capricious minor demons, and the answer of "how do I keep breaking keyboards when I've become so careful with them?" is probably: cats, who are less careful, and covered in fur and litterbox dust.

I've been reading a lot, gaming a lot, caught up with Critical Role which is, in itself, vaguely terrifying because it was such a long, immersive journey to get here; I am fervently not in my own head, because the only way to cope with the anxiety "I am not a real adult who can engage with life" is to refuse to engage with anything. I have my Bebe figure and I adore her. Everything else has been sort of shit, for reasons which stem from me, my vulnerability and inability and this persistent longing for a life different from my own, but, again: these reasons are real.
juushika: Drawing of a sleeping orange cat. (I should have been born a cat)
It were my birfday, or, as per tradition:

I'm 30, and 30 feels weird; it's a nice round number upon which to rest all my recent anxiety about health issues, everyone in Devon's immediately circle marrying their girlfriends (of 18 months) and/or having kids, and that general sense of existential despair that comes often when you have no goals/occupation/future. My preoccupation with aging is strange. Because of what my life is like, I live outside of the passage of time as it effects most people, and I don't desire most of those landmarks, but I'm still cognizant of the fact that I'm no longer a child; self-aware neoteny comes with a certain amount of cognitive dissonance.

That said! It was a lovely birthday. Devon came up for the day—we didn't do much special, just went out to eat and watched a show together, but actually marking the event was enough. (I'm bad at both social instigation and the passage of time, so most events pass me unmarked, which I always regret.) And he gave me a 3DS XL! I saw my father for a quick dinner the next day, as he was in town for a flight; I also have a gift in the mail, Dee and I have an outting to make when it's not a) 100° b) smoky due to nearby wildfires c) both, and received birthday wishes from a number of people I care about, including some that I hadn't heard from in some time. Perfectly satisfying, and quite enjoyable.
juushika: Screen capture of the Farplane from Final Fantasy X: a surreal landscape of waterfalls and flowers. (Anime/Game)
This is my life:

Yesterday was my birthday! Devon and I went to have dinner with my parents; we went to Laughing Planet, which I discovered last time I was in Corvallis and fell a bit in love with. I had the cheese and pico quesadilla that I always get, and it was a fantastic meal: enjoyable but low-key. As much as I think my parents wish I did something with my life (which is a valid desire), they're still pleasantly surprised just to see how much I've improved in recent years—I think they're relieved to see that I'm more vivacious and simply happy, and dinner had that vibe to it: it was a relaxed pleasure which I couldn't've managed some years back.

As if to prove a point, I noticed in the middle of a completely different discussion that the restaurant was playing Florence + the Machine, and so I broke into a lengthy recounting of this experience, explaining (mostly to my mother, who's more emotional and emotionally-receptive than my father—that's not a condemnation: he's a happy well-rounded person and so, frankly, doesn't "get it," for which I envy him more than anything else) how it came down to the fact that I needed that concert to be beautiful, and it wasn't beautiful in the back, and I couldn't tolerate that—because F+tM is about living life with foolishly and joyfully, not in halved in experiences; not because you have no fear or regret, but because you swear to yourself to throw them off.

The song they were playing? The Dog Days are Over. Then after that, I shit you not, they played Shake It Out, which at the concert was the song that told me about throwing that devil off, and has become my secondary theme song.

The bakery we went to afterwards didn't have the dessert I wanted, because F+tM and no chocolate deliciousness apparently now go together, but who the hell cares. In my life, a restaurant plays Florence for me on my birthday and reminds me of everything I should never forget, bless.

The weather's broken somewhat, down to reasonable warm-because-summer, not hot-like-burning levels; it's the sort of weather that almost lets you glimpse autumn on the horizon, and that's a gift in itself. Devon's gift is still in the air, or may be a number of various long-needed necessities. (After seeing my parents last evening, we did a late Fred Meyer run and came away with three nail polish shades I've wanted for a while—no necessity by far, but yaaaay.) My father gave me spending money (BPAL Halloweenies in my future, perhaps?), including credit at The Book Bin which I will go spend today; my mother gave me, with assurances that in a few months it would be lovely instead of torturous, a black knitted cowl which doubles around the neck and is squishy and warm—and I actually had the chance to wear it already, when Devon and I went to an early morning breakfast today while the air was cold and fog was still on the fields, oh bless. Later today when we finally get moving we have many shopping trips planned, to the bookstore and elsewhere.

So. That's all I could ask for: love from friends and family, time with the boy, good food, things I want, and Florence.
juushika: Drawing of a sleeping orange cat. (I should have been born a cat)
funny pictures of cats with captions

Apparently? This year sort of crept up on me, perhaps because it's been a bit too hot lately to think about anything but being miserable (everything written about the weather in this post turned out to be a lie oh god—it's been like a billion degrees), but today is indeed my birthday and I am now 27.

I'm in Corvallis, Land of the Air Conditioning (although it is no longer so aggressively miserable out: I would love some cold air, yes, yes I would); tonight we'll go out to dinner with my parents and, if I'm lucky, manage a slice of flourless chocolate torte at the neighborhood bakery afterward. That's about all I have planned—low key and lovely; I'm fine with it.

I have no idea what birthday gifts look like. I'm having huge and major wantsies in a lot of areas right now, and the BPAL autumn update is due soon and I usually put most of my birthday shopping into that, but probably on account of the weather I've been a bit too bleh to actually plan or decide or request anything. So! We shall see, I suppose.

And that's it. Thank you for birthday wishes and love!
juushika: Drawing of a sleeping orange cat. (Default)
Devon's in town. Last night he made nachos—perhaps the best I've ever had, and I'm not sure why: there was nothing special about them except for the addition of second, chunkier chunky salsa, I wasn't particularly hungry at the time, but they were beyond delicious. Today we grabbed a pizza and added a side salad, and ate them watching one of the Star Trek: Voyager episodes that I remember best from my childhood.

And there was stuff.

Devon brought with him the bedding that my parents bought me for my birthday. They got both the sheets and the duvet cover, and they look fantastic. All my pillows are now covered in modal, and the plums and chocolates also look awesome against the orange sheet I'm currently using—so I can modify my color scheme at whim, and I think it'll look especially nice in autumn. That they bought both means that I now have all Grandpa Mel and Ilene's birthday money to spend as I will. I'm anticipating the BPAL Halloweenies, but after much deliberation also decided to buy a custom necklace from Sihaya Designs Jewelry/[livejournal.com profile] sihaya09—kin to this one but with a squatter pumpkin bead and shorter chain. I've desired her pumpkin designs for some time, and I think they're seasonable without being cutsey or Halloween-only, and autumn is so close I can almost taste it, and I want a pumpkin goddamnit. I hope I love it.

These socks in denim and these socks in rust arrived today. I'll wash and wear them and see how well they work—right now I prefer the fit on the latter, which are a bit shorter, but the former comes in more colors. I know it's silly, but I've wanted socks for so long—(occasionally) colorful, fitted, flattering knee-highs. This is a start. As I find which fit me best, maybe I'll even buy more.

I'm currently debating whether I should grab tickets to Kim Boekbinder's Impossible Tour Portland showing. Since I discovered the concert (and artist) it's reached full funding, but her music falls right into that genre of unusual female artists that I love so. Dee is away at Dragon*Con so I can't ask if she'd like to go—but the ticket prices are more than reasonable, and my gut says she'd be interested. It also satisfies this craving to do more, and more locally, and more with an indie and unique vibe.

Express and I have almost finalized plans for a visit. He was going to come up last month, and then rescheduled for this month, and then canceled again because he can't get a break at work. So I'll visit him instead. It looks like I'll be in San Francisco from October 7th through 14th, meeting a friend of many years for the first time. We are both nervous/excited to great degrees. It'll be a long train trip, but we finally found the best travel route, and I'll bring an entire carry-on containing just bedding, and buying a month in advance even means tickets are cheaper. Now we just have to buy them.

This afternoon I was able to email my mother and say, "We were considering a trip to Ashland—well, here's my upcoming schedule, and here time span for a trip. Do we want to make plans to go?" We're thinking of seeing Henry IV Part 2, and I'm eager for it. I'm filling out these dates on a handy Google calendar. I'm keeping a calender. I'm even making sure that birthdays get added.

It bothers me that much of this is money buying happiness. I don't talk about it often, but as blessed as I know I am to have a life of leisure—it's what keeps me sane, and it's an opportunity most don't have, and I am grateful for it—it's unempowering to have no independent income. Everything I have is essentially a gift—which means I don't get every BPAL blend I wish for, but it also means that I don't go shopping, that even my socks are borrowed or hand-me-downs, that it took me years to buy a new pair of shoes. This isn't because Devon doesn't notice or care, or a sign that I'm somehow unloved. But strictly speaking, all of these things—no matter how basic—are extravagances. I had bedding—it was ugly bedding, but I had it. I have socks—they're borrowed men's socks, but they work. I don't need anything, but I want so much. I want to do more with the life I've managed to save, and I want to control my self-presentation, and I want to do and have stuff that, yes, costs money. It cascades: If I have socks that flatter me, perhaps I can wear shorter skirts, but I'd have to buy them too. If I'm buying a necklace, shouldn't I be buying something more important, like shirts, instead?

And that tempers this, but doesn't destroy it. With this bedding, I can begin to pull together my room. With these clothes, my appearance. I can do things, and engage, and that thrills me. It's can be bitter, but it's still so sweet.
juushika: Screen capture of the Farplane from Final Fantasy X: a surreal landscape of waterfalls and flowers. (Anime/Game)
The good news is that August missed me, and would like to celebrate my return with cuddles. It's not frantic behavior, she's just a little velcro'd and very fuIl of purrs. I was worried that she wouldn't care that I had left or returned, because I'm paranoid like that, and so I'm beyond relieved and it feels even better to come back to this home, to my city, to my babycat. The bad news is that it's about a thousand degrees outside, as summer would like to go out with a bang this year. But touching the black long-haired cat is still worth it.

I was gone because it was my birthday! I'm now 26. I went down to Corvallis last Tuesday evening. My sister is living with my parents for a few weeks before her semester abroad (in Italy) begins, so I was able to go home on my birthday, Thursday the 18th, and see everyone for homemade pizza and flourless chocolate torte. (I also renewed my driver's license on my birthday, the day it expired.) On Friday I went home for a briefer day visit, and picked out a few of my mum's quilts to hang in the Portland house. On Saturday Devon and I ran errands in the blistering heat, but now I have bedding and shoes on their way to me. I'm ridiculously excited for them, because they're a long time coming. The bedding is a birthday gift from my parents (and, depending on how much of it they decide to buy, the rest will be purchased with birthday money from my paternal grandfather and his wife), and it'll be a huge step towards pulling my Portland room together. The shoes are a longtime wish finally fulfilled (and none too soon, as my current shoes are dying)—they're Sketcher's Parties - Mate, and I sure hope I love them. I also came back with some BPAL, Boy's on-the-day birthday gift (as the big gift was August, who came just a bit early), a few books from Border's funeral party, and some chocolate that will probably be used for baking because by my lofty standards it's not fit to eat. On Saturday evening, Devon's family stuffed me full of chocolate cake. On Sunday morning, I took the train back to Portland.

This is my birthday torte. )

Candles on my birthday cake
And this is what happened to the candles in the 90 seconds they were lit.
It was pretty ridiculous, but hilarious. It's a good thing the wax came off easily once it had dried.

Also, Jamie says hi. )

I saw Jamie, and Woof, and Dude and Madison (and so help me if Madison isn't the size of a grapefruit—that cat is so small). I saw everyone, really, and went everywhere, and felt like I was doing nothing but eating celebratory food but I suppose there are worse evils than that. It was an unexpectedly busy trip, and a fantastic one, and I am just as glad to be back.

For my own records, my birthday gifts. )

And now it has grown too warm to be sitting here at the computer. Happy belated birthday to all my fellow Leos! For about as long as I can remember, about half my friends have been born in this fire time of the year, and we all get a bit swamped by the concurrance. But I had a great birthday—and I hope you did too.
juushika: Drawing of a sleeping orange cat. (I should have been born a cat)
Reddogdied - Sleeping WIP

And then I discovered this, and now all of my complaining seems so very silly.

For my birthday the wonderful reddogdied drew an illustration of me-as-cat (that's my long fur, my fluffy tail, my little face and wispy ears, my paw, my coloring as best anyone knows, my small sleeping curl) asleep on my bed (that's my squishy green modal pillow, my beloved baby blanket in the bottom corner—Dev will love that you can even see the fraying tendrils).

There are no words to describe a gift like this. I can muster words—wonderful, beautiful, perfect come to mind—but at its heart this is a thing without language. It is me-as-cat, wordless and furred and sleeping. I fell in love with reddogdied's art for the conflation of sensation and spirit in his work: the texture of fur, the communication and expression in body and face, that each animal feels real: feels, the thick fur long whiskers sharp teeth sensation of it; real, as in authentic and individual and true.

I experience dysphoria rather than phantom sensations, and so my sense of physical self-as-cat is more absence than presence: it's the fur I should have, but don't; the size I'm not, the movements I can't make. I'm sure that phantom sensations come with their own benefits and drawbacks, but I'll admit I tend to envy them because I want to feel that connection, that sensation—I want to feel that much closer to being animal.

And so something like this—a visual of me as cat, something so personal, so me, yet so textural, so much about fur and body and shape—is invaluable. It is precious. It is so beautiful.

I am desperate for sleep and so I should try to get back to that. I think it will be a little easier now, having seen this. I'll end with two more pictures—the fullsize version of the above, for a closer look at that rich beautiful fur, and a fullsize of the beginning sketch, because I'm in love with it too. By while you're at it, go check out reddogdied's gallery.

(Typing with my new headphones on is so bizarre—I can't hear the keys click at all.)

+2 large pictures. )
juushika: Drawing of a sleeping orange cat. (I should have been born a cat)
You know what would be awesome? If I could sleep reliably and easily. That'd be great. It would also, it seems, be a goddamned miracle.

Yesterday Devon and I went out and finally bought awesome headphones, another belated birthday gift (we've yet to order BPAL, too—I've been half off smellies for the last little bit because I seem very sensitive to them right now, so there's no real rush I suppose). I long grew sick of the over-the-ear pair I use when I go out for Starbucks/library trips, and these sound much better, and I've been eyeing a certain headphone-wearing video game character with envy for a fair bit now, so they're a wonderful buy. I'm so enamored that I sort of want to wear them all the time now, except that—well, there's hardly any need at this particular moment. But they're just what I wanted in both form and function: flattering, black, portable, and the sound quality is fantastic.

I only wish I could paint the red parts green, but that may not work out so well given the warranty.

My head's been in a dozen places at once, lately. It rained yesterday, the first rain of the coming autumn—on the same day that we went out for dinner and shopping, no less. I wore long sleeves, walked through the dark and the mist, and I could not have been happier. I'm reading a book right now which, although it's still too early to tell for sure, I think I may love. But I'm not in my quiet bookish phase—I'm still playing Persona 4 and I've also taken up old school Harvest Moon, Dev's playing, oh, half a dozen games at once, and we're watching anime together for a change—all about as geeky and fangirly as can be. Moderation or, I guess you could say, multitasking like this is not my usual way: I am a creature of extremes, drowning in books or playing video games all day but rarely doing both at once. In a way it seems healthier to spread out my interests like this—I have more freedom and variety, I get a little less obsessed (and I do hate how my brain operates when obsessed), so on, so forth. But there's a certain cognitive dissonance in the variety. I'm fangirly but intellectual, hyper but subdued, talkative but quiet, and—relatedly or not—often cheerful and melancholy in alternating phases, sometimes in the same contradicting phase. For all that it may be healthier and can be quite nice, it's also confusing and fucking exhausting.

The inaccessibility of sleep doesn't help.

I don't exactly want the alternative, the extremes—but I would prefer some stability, or in the very least the ability to do a little more with both sets of moods. I have letters to write. I have posts to write, books to review, reviews to type up ... so much goes undone, and that's beginning to bother me.

I would also like to sleep.
juushika: A black and white photo of an ink pen. (Writing)
I just had my birthday dessert with Devon's family, a Trader Joe's Handmade Chocolate Ganache Torte which I am pleased to say was actually pretty good. As we know I prefer my chocolate simple, pure, and dark; I dislike the texture and dilution of cakes, and I'm actually not a fan of ganache (again, I don't like the texture). This torte is chocolate mousse (fairly dense, and stored frozen which only makes it thicker) sandwiched between chocolate cake (low on flour, but not flourless—it's a dense cake without the crumb-texture of most cake) glazed with bittersweet chocolate ganache. It's dense and flavorful, rich chocolate without too much sugar, and the combination of textures makes for a lovely midpoint between creamy and chewy. I would still prefer a simple flourless torte (or chocolate souflé), but for something store-bought this was surprisingly lovely.

I finally instituted an obsession: chocolate tag. It's about time!

I sat down not to write about this, but about something else entirely. I'll get to that post soon. In the meanwhile, a blurb about chocolate. So there we go.
juushika: Screen capture of the Farplane from Final Fantasy X: a surreal landscape of waterfalls and flowers. (Anime/Game)
funny pictures of cats with captions
see more Lolcats and funny pictures

I would post a different lolcat, because this is the same one I used last year—but I used it then, and use it now, because it's my favorite. Perhaps it's a tradition now, too? (I still don't even like cake.)

Today's my birthday! I'm 25.

My birthday is, this year, as low key as always—and I prefer it that way. Yesterday I finished rereading To Charles Fort, With Love (my reveiw), which Dee ([livejournal.com profile] century_eyes) gave me—and it is a perfect gift because I love it more each time I reread it, and now I can stop borrowing the library's copy over and over again in an attempt to pretend it is mine own. (Ironically, my copy is a used library copy.) I started reading one of the four books I bought at Powell's during the Portland trip, which, while not explicitly a birthday gift, fall close enough to the date to feel like one—and I am throughly enjoying this book so far. This morning I caught my dear Bart ([livejournal.com profile] aep) on IM, and the chance to talk to him was a gift in itself. Devon gave me the ultimate edition of The Fifth Element, because I wanted a copy of the film with special features, and were thinking of BPAL for my big birthday present, because the Halloween update is, as always, glorious*—but I'll wait to see what I get from my parents before we make an order. And tonight my parents are taking Devon and me to dinner at Nirvana, one of my favorite local restaurants. It will be a good day.

ETA: And indeed it was—if a bit tiring. We had a lovely dinner with my family, and then went to New Morning Bakery where I had a flourless chocolate and cinnamon torte (interesting and enjoyable, but not quite as dense and flavorful as my preferred Chocolate Sin). My parents gave me a modal body pillow cover, which I'm very grateful to receive, and Travel Fresh Sleep Sack, which will be something of an experiment—I tend to take a modal sheet with me when I travel because I'm a picky little sleeping princess, so this may be an easier alternative. They also gave me some spending money which will probably go to BPAL, and some blue cheese stuffed green olives, which are my current favorite food in the whole wide world. Devon's family also gave me edible indulgences, which is never a bad choice: a chocolate torte to try when I'm not full on a different chocolate torte, some bree, and three varieties of dark chocolate bars (60-90%)—two of which I know I love. The festivities are done now, and I'm full and exhausted and it's time to curl up in quiet with a book—but yes, it was a lovely day. Thanks to everyone for the well wishes!

So happy birthday to me!

* For the curious: My tentative BPAL Halloween 2010 order. )
juushika: Drawing of a sleeping orange cat. (I should have been born a cat)
My birthday is coming up! I'll be turning 25 on August 18th this year. This is not a big deal, but on the off chance that you were wondering what I wanted for my birthday:

Books. Here's my Amazon wishlist, which is fairly up to date. I read almost anything (almost always fiction, never chicklit or high fantasy, often fantasy, science fiction, general literature, young adult literature, and classics, with a particular love of Shakespeare and tiny little subgenres), and always want to read a book which comes with a personal recommendation and plenty of love.

Shinies. Wyrding Studios and Sihaya Designs tend to be my stores of choice, although I've also had my eye on Kendra Tornheim's pendants. I love handmade, organic jewelry. I tend towards necklaces, but wear the occasional bracelet or ring (I don't wear earrings). Peridot and amber are my favorite stones and colors, and I prefer brass and copper metals. This old post is a good introduction to some of my tastes, but I don't have a current shinies wishlist.

Smellies. Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab is my drug of choice, of course. My BPAL wishlist is a little out of date, but it's a good introduction to my tastes. Philologus (ancient books, crackled parchment, faded incense, and candle wax) is currently at the tippy top of my wishlist. The Halloween update, which is traditionally my favorite update of the year, will be a few days after my birthday—so that's when I'll really be making grabby hands. Spending money for the update would make my (birth)day.

I sometimes collect bears (of the teddy variety in particular). I always collect pennies. My body pillow Henry could use a new modal pillow case. I could always use a few more modal shirts. I am a materialistic desirous beastie in many ways, and none of this matters! I don't expect gifts, but would certainly welcome well-wishes. So there you go.

Adopt one today!
juushika: Drawing of a sleeping orange cat. (I should have been born a cat)
Hello, it are my birfday.

Although I almost don't want to admit to as much, because the random and surprise well-wishes have been so enjoyable, and now they will be random no more. Nonetheless! I turn, er, 24 today, and yes I really do have to check because I am that bad with numbers. Birthdays aren't hugely important to me (you don't say!), so I'm not doing much to mark mine. Devon and I are going to dinner (Mongolian!) tonight, and I'll get together with my family for something similar later this week. Dev is getting me a down pillow and fresh, non-destroyed jersey sheets (mine are old and holey); my paternal grandparents sent me a good bit of money which is going straight to BPAL*, and there are at least two other gifts which shall surprise me.

* I wasn't planning on ordering anything from the Halloween update, but then $100 fell in my lap and who am I to say no? The plan is to buy without guilt the halloweenies that interest me most and whatever other bottles/imp packs I can shove in to spend that much cash. Right now I'm looking at bottles of:

Cut for a bit of BPAL blather. )

Anyhow, thank you all for your birthday wishes! Despite waking up at an ungodly hour, I suspect today shall be a good day. ^___^

funny pictures of cats with captions
see more Lolcats and funny pictures
I don't even like cake, but damn if this isn't my favorite ever lolcat.
juushika: Photograph of a stack of books, with one lying open. (Books)
To Be Read

Last year for my birthday, because she is a wonder, [livejournal.com profile] notsuchastrangr sent me a slim little Moleskine (a ruled cahier). It's too small for lengthy writing but the perfect size for notes and for carrying everywhere, so it immediately became my permanent to be read hardcopy list. It's a dream to use, the perfect size and durability, more than long enough for its purpose, and there's even a pocket to store my library card. It's such a small thing, yet I couldn't have hoped for a better gift.

I have something of a fetish for my TBR list. When I'm in heavy reading mode—as I am now—I live by it. I'm constantly scribbling in titles and notations, and there are few pleasures like crossing off items I've discarded or read.

Most of my listings appear as BOOK TITLE, AUTHOR, listing only the author's surname (to save space). A few appear as Author: AUTHOR, listing the author's full name (to make it easier to find them). I'm usually drawn to works, not artists—it's an exception to the rule when an author's entire oeuvre catches my eye. On a similar note, when listing authors I'll often add a sublisting for one or two of their books.

I then annotate each listing with a number of markers: In geeky detail, they are... )

Books end up on my TBR list for all sorts of reasons. Reviews and mentions online are the most common source, I take some personal recommendations from friends and acquaintances, and I browse bookstores and library stacks for titles and covers which catch my eye. The rare exemplary author, and more often the treasured subgenre, will lead me to seek out books with a purpose. There are books which have been on my TBR list for years, and books which I write down just for the pleasure of crossing them off. There's a lot of joy in the notation—the same sort of joy found in writing reviews or collecting books. Books are primarily the words themselves, but they are also an act, a culture, a physical object. This is one of the reasons that I keep a TBR list in hardcopy and wouldn't own a e-reader if I could: I enjoy the physicality, the interactiveness, of books to handle and hold.

Speaking of: I own hundreds, probably thousands of books, but most of them are in boxes while I live as an unofficial houseguest. A small chunk of my collection lives with me in the bedroom, but for that reason and because it's cheaper most of the books I read these days come from the library. Even when they don't belong to me, thought, I still love the books I can have, for a little while, and hold.

My current would-be bookshelf. )

Why post all this? Because it interests me, and because it would interest me if others did the same. I'd love to know how the rest of you interact with books, if you do: how you view them and how you chose them, what your TBR list and stacks look like, what your bookshelves and book piles look like.

And if books aren't your thing, have a picture of Dude scratching to get out of the room. )
If he stare at it long enough, it does indeed open.
juushika: Photograph of the torso and legs of a female-bodied figure with a teddy bear. (Bear)
I went by my parents's house yesterday—Papa and my sister are away in New York, checking out schools and watching the Yankees, so I thought I'd take the dog out from under Mum's feet for a while. Jamie and I went on a walk in the woods, she got brushed, and I watered the garden; it was beautiful out, overcast with a soft breeze, and the trail was littered with the first few fallen leaves. Autumn is upon us, and thank goodness. I also saw my mother, who was working on a large wall hanging, and two episodes of Law & Order—I swear, I'd almost forgotten what a television was.Crumb Bear by Skybell Arts

When I was there, I also picked up packages and presents—you know, for my long distant birthday. [livejournal.com profile] sisterite, your package arrived! She sent smellies, most importantly an imp of Ivanushka (yay), and a copy of Sharp Teeth, that verse novel about werewolves which I loved and wanted to own and reread. Thank you, lovely! I'm waiting for the imps to settle out after shipping, and then I'll test and write reviews. I much look forward to checking out the sniffie of Candy Butcher, because I've been curious about that scent for a long time.

I also picked up the package of Hod and October—I am so looking forward to Hod, but I'm giving the oils a chance to settle first. It's a long, hard wait.

And I picked up my mother's birthday gift—Crumb Bear, that quilt over to the left. You should certainly click through and see it in greater detail. Mum is a fabric artist; she started Crumb Bear when she was cleaning out her huge stash of fabric and fabric scraps. I fell in love with it because of the color and the bear imagery.* There's some progress shots and more information over at her arts blog: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5.

I think it turned out beautifully, and it looks wonderful hung on the wall. I have a couple of my mum's pieces—a triskele runner and an entirely handstiched, handquilted piece which I love—but this is my new favorite. Thank you, mum. So, yes. All in all a successful day and a successful visit.

* On bear imagery: I attended a Montessori school from preschool through sixth grade; on three occasions during that time, most notably on my graduation from school, I was given the bear as a totem animal. (I've since narrowed it down to the black bear, which is native to where I live.) To me, the bear is nature, solitariness, hibernation, wisdom, vegetarianism (although bears eat insects, fish, and some carrion), and protection. The bear rises up to protect me; the bear is a silent companion, content to stand at a distance but willing also to lead me to knowledge. I don't work with my bear totem as often as I should, but its presence comforts me nonetheless. I still have the stone bears that were given me on those occasions as well as a few other necklaces, and I was drawn to this piece of the same bear imagery.
juushika: Drawing of a sleeping orange cat. (I should have been born a cat)
Happy Birthday to me—for real this time. Today is my birthday. I'm turning 23.

I had a long, severe stretch of panic for some hours yesterday, and just woke up from a very upsetting nightmare; I'm still shaky as a result, and it makes a day of celebration seem mightily ill-timed, I'll tell ya that. But! But there shall be a day of rest and possibly book reviews and of course reading, and tonight Devon's parents are coming over to celebrate and bringing a flourless chocolate torte tonight (I like my chocolate as dense as humanly possible, thank you). Tomorrow, it looks like I'll be meeting up with my family to celebrate—not sure when or where, but that should also be nice.

Devon's parents are buying me BPAL: a bottle of Velvet (gentle sandalwood warmed by cocoa vanilla and a veil of deep myrrh to replace my nearly-empty imp. Janet (Devon's mother) didn't know why anyone would want to smell like chocolate, but I of course live by chocolate BPAL. This goes on top of my other BPAL purchases, a gift from Devon and a little bit from me, to me. It should be enough to keep me happy, for a while at least. ^_^ Mum says I also have mail waiting at the house—I don't know from who or if it's for my birthday, but I suppose I'll find out tomorrow. And I did a library run yesterday which, even if they aren't books I get to keep, gives me a total of ... eleven novels to browse through and read at my leisure.

Life could be much worse on a birthday.
juushika: Photograph of the torso and legs of a female-bodied figure with a teddy bear. (Bear)
Because my birthday falls so close to the massive Halloween update, I actually have the money to order decants this time! My favorite decanter is [livejournal.com profile] bookandbroom, almost entirely because she saved me when I forgot Ivanushka was a super-limited edition (she had a few decants left and I quickly grabbed two, and then Ivanushka turned out to be one of my all time favorite scents). So of course I ordered my decants from her.

When the Halloweenies first went up last night, I was less than excited. There just didn't seem to be much to appeal to me. However, having slept and come back to it, things are looking up. Despite finding BPAL in autumn, I've never had a strictly-autumnal BPAL blend, so I'm checking out a few of those; there's also a Sleepy Hollow group of scents, which is exciting in its own right. I'm actually quite happy with the scents that I decided on. But there's enough BPAL blather just in my thoughts on the names and notes of my order. )

Now, of course, I'm unduly excited for them to arrive, even though it'll be a month or so. It's not everything I wanted, certainly, but at just over $50 total it's more than I expected I'd be able to buy. (Thank you, Devon. ^_^) And there's always winter holidays to track down things like that bottle of Ivanushka, or Silvered Carnations, or Luxe Chocolate Amber, or Wulric the Wolfman. And I can dream always of rich chocolate Pumpkin Patch II '06. Mmmm....
juushika: Drawing of a sleeping orange cat. (I should have been born a cat)
My birthday is ten days away: I'll turn 23 on August 18th. Just typing "23" is a bit boggling, to be honest. I'm bad with numbers, and have had a hard time keeping track of even my own precise age for, well, a few years now. By the time I get used to the new number it changes again, and so we go again: 23, when I should be a college graduate heading out into the world of graduate school (more likely, for me) or else actual employment, but where I am instead a content stay at home girlfriend who reads a lot. And writes book reviews.

Not only do I have a hard time remembering my own age, I've never really celebrated my birthday. The day seems vaguely unimportant. It falls at the wrong time of year (I feel like a child of fall, and no one is around in the summer to celebrate), and I'm not too social, and I'm never rich enough to buy many presents for others and so I don't expect to receive too many myself. But I go out to dinner, say, and see my family, and the boy gives me spending money which I funnel immediately to books and BPAL. And then I am a year older.

(Ironically, I love receiving gifts—perhaps because I've never had my own independent income, and so I feel guilty buying things for myself and rely on gifts from others; perhaps because I'm selfish and materialistic. But I've never understood people that don't wish for things, or who are shy about receiving presents. I've always enjoyed receiving gifts. It's an honor and a joy: to be important enough to warrant gift-giving, and to have the chance to enjoy something that I wouldn't have any other way. I enjoy it so much, actually, that I feel ashamed to admit it. It makes me feel selfish.)

My birthday wishlist this year is largely my BPAL wishlist. I long for a bottle of Ivanushka, one of my all time favorite scents, which is a retired LE that will only be available through some collector's sale. I also want bottles of O and Morocco, which I wear all the time but only have imps of, and I'm having cocoa and carnation cravings and want to hunt down some new blends that contain them. Obviously, no one is urged or obligated to send presents, but if you want to: my Paypal is swiftskyes at hotmail dot com and my contact info is here (can't see it? want to? just ask). I'm also open to simple birthday wishes, or letters, or complete silence.

Meanwhile, I plan to buy myself Sharp Teeth and probably a preorder on The Tales of Beedle the Bard, as I have a little bit of money hanging out in my Amazon account and free shipping thanks to my family's Prime account. Devon is preordering Viva Piñata II: Trouble in Paradise, which comes out in September. He's also giving me some money for BPAL: we'll probably put $25 into Paypal so that I can (for a change!) sign up for a Halloween decant circle, and I plan to purchase a bottle of Velvet (since I'm almost out of my imp and love the scent) and one bottle from the Halloween update—I'll know which when the update goes live.

This is hardly the short and simple post I planned when I began writing! Nonetheless.

Meanwhile, I've always known a surprising number of Leos, and all of our birthdays are coming up and passing. To [livejournal.com profile] sisterite, and [livejournal.com profile] raynala, [livejournal.com profile] chaos_current and [livejournal.com profile] assimbya, Max and Cassady, and the many people who share my zodiac: Happy Birthday to us all, even if I haven't made it over to your journals to say so.
juushika: Photograph of a row of books on a library shelf. (Books Once More)
My back hurts. This is my own fault for working on the laptop in the bedroom (on a mini-bookshelf working as a table, used while sitting on the edge of the bed), but I'm more productive on the lappy, so. Interestingly so, this holds true even with Guild Wars installed—probably because Guild Wars is both full screen and pseudo-real-time-ish, so no multitasking there. And a good thing, too, because Guild Wars is like crack. It's good not to be able to play it all the time.

But more to the point.

Happy very very belated birthday to me! My birthday was on the 18th, although it stretched out on and off over three days, and all of it was wonderful. Saturday the 18th, Devon and I went to Salem for lunch at a real, good Mongolian grill. The food was great, and goodness have I missed it. (There was one in Portland that we loved, but since the move—no good Mongolian). Then we picked up a copy of Guild Wars, then we went to my parent's place for dinner and dessert (chocolate cupcakes, which improved also with freezing). That evening, my first of my two most recent BPAL packages arrived. Talk about good timing. Sunday the 19th we went to see Stardust which was quite good. I disapproved of the little changes from the book (Hello, Captain Shakespeare? What happened to you, man?) but approved of the major changes because, as was the intent, it made for good movie watching. Um. Except that Tristan's mother looked like a cheap whore. On Monday the 20th, we went to Borders to spend the gift card that my grandfather and his wife sent me for my birthday. This gift card purchased:

Persuasion, Jane Austen
Snow Crash, Neal Stephenson (three quarters of the way through this book and entirely and absolutely blown away)
The Time Machine, H.G. Wells
Middlesex, Jeffrey Eugenides
The Call of Cthuhlu & Other Weird Stories and Dreams in the Witch House, H.P. Lovecraft (finally! and goodness but he is good)
Wicked Lovely, Melissa Marr
& just enough left over to purchase my next impulse book.

It was one very productive $100 gift card. Between it and the library, I am reading about 4 books a week and loving it. I'm keeping a list of all the stuff I want to read in the back of my moleskine and working off of that. May I say: I have marvelous taste.

All in all, it was a wonderful birthday. I turned 22, for the curious, and I am now a successfully unemployed & unpublished would-be-author & college dropout. Yippee! Also I am well loved and tolerably spoiled, and although 22 isn't a landmark year, it was a surprisingly fulfilling, happy birthday.

I mentioned above that I made a new BPAL order. Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab is, for those that don't know, my drug of choice. It is the only line of scents I have ever worn and probably will ever wear. I love them. For my birthday and because I, um, "needed" some warm-weather-friendly scents (most of my favorites are dark, rich, incensey, slightly sweet scents, none of which work for warm days), went and bought some more: one shipment of six imps from the lab, one bottle and two imps from a user through [livejournal.com profile] sinandsalvation. These I will put behind a cut, because I know that not everyone is interested. Needless to say, I have now received both packages and am super-duper-freakishly thrilled with both.

My new BPAL smellies! )

As it goes, that wasn't a bad way to spend $26. It's certainly made me happy (over and over and over again) and I still have scents left to try.

Still writing the book. Working mostly by hand, then typing, trying to catch up with the handwritten stuff. Have been slacking a teeny little bit but aim to change that this week. Am a bit bored with current section, but looking forward to the next, so may get through just by pushing myself forward to the palace. Then comes the time that I need to start plotting the fullness of the journey afterward (I have one section written and vague plot concepts, but no detailed understanding of what after what after what is supposed to happen).

I had a wonderful, involved, complete, even plotted dream that is begging to be another book (it's too long for a short story). Have the dream written down, and refuse to touch it at least until this book is nearly done because, seriously, I want to get something done, not just skip from project to project. But, if all goes well—that dream will make it in full form to paper sometime, even if it is a little too close to The Fountain for my sense of originality to handle.

And soforth.

Wordcount: 56,089 typed, + 4k handwritten.

Previous Accomplishments: Training plus some more training, and managed to interweave some interesting moments alongside. Also caught up with two sections I'd written way early on.

Upcoming Challenges: I'm bored of training, so finishing it up may be a pain. Oh, and, surprise of surprises, characters still do not have names.

Currently Reading: Snow Crash, Neal Stephenson; The Call of Cthulhu & Other Weird Stories, H.P. Lovecraft; The Illustrated Man, Ray Bradbury.


juushika: Drawing of a sleeping orange cat. (Default)

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