juushika: Photograph of the torso and legs of a female-bodied figure with a teddy bear. (Bear)
I woke to rain outside, and kept hearing it, on and off, through the day; hearing it because I've been able to keep a window open and the fan off for a few days now. The window here is behind a substantial bush, so the light is gentle in the mornings (the birdsong, on the other hand, not so much). Yesterday morning, I sat under that open window and peeled and cut apples while watching Supernatural. (Every year about this time I catch up on Supernatural; every year it's still awful, but the kernel of the show it could be, the 11.4 "Baby" show, the AU werewolf!Claire show, the show of ambiguous landscapes of denuded, earthen British Columbia forests pretending to be the Midwest, the show of flannel and bunkers and overnight drives, always leave me wistful.)

The apples came from the back yard, half-feral apple trees that produce tart, hard, dry green apples with just a few bugs. When I taught Teja how to make applesauce, I told him "peel, chop, boil over medium heat"—it's impossible to screw up. This year made me wonder if I was wrong; the first batch was prone to scalding and awfully tart, and required a cup of water (I'm used to ladling off excess fluid instead) and half a cup of brown sugar (there are greater sins). And it wasn't ruined, it turned out fantastic. Homemade applesauce always is.

Anyway, I moved last month. Moving is objectively always awful, but this went fine, even if it left me wishing I owned zero physical objects—despite that it was making a place for objects (specifically, an overhead shelf with nothing but blankets and plush and treasured figurine) which made me feel settled in.

August and Gillian are settling in too, decently well. The stress of the move, and the smaller space and relative isolation, has made them much more companionable. They've lived together for five years, with tolerance but no intimacy. Now, they're touching all the time! They share a blanket! This morning, August licked Gillian's face three small, sweet times. I'm not getting invested in the future of this intimacy, but feel blessed to witness the little signs of it.

I've been taking a few shitty snapshots of the cats, and you can find them over on my Tumblr; here are some cat-touching highlights:






Their peace and comfort, and also mine, has been interrupted by a fairly severe flea infestation—with which we are dealing, but which may be an ongoing/reoccuring battle for reasons outside my control, and I'm mad about that. They're just so uncomfortable, and only have the energy to groom and eat and then nap; not eager to play, too sore for most cuddles. Hopefully things will improve as the medication does its thing.

Autumn is the season of my heart, and the weather report says the rain is not just today, it is the next five days, and by then it's late September; 70 degree days after that will just be sunny days in autumn—the season is here. Most people don't get such a clear cut-off date! But ours was September 17, and rain, and rain, and rain.
juushika: A black and white photo of an ink pen. (Writing)
This is just a quick entry to say that Alfie died a few hours ago. The pigs have been back in Corvallis while I've been staying here, so I wasn't there with him, but Devon and Devon's family—his father in particular—were, so he wasn't alone. Whatever killed him was pretty quick onset—he was fine earlier today, but in the afternoon/evening started showing some signs of lethargy, disinterest in food, and a drop in body temperature. They got in touch with me to figure out what should be done, and at midnight Devon was planning to take Alfie in to the vet when they opened tomorrow; a few minutes later I got a call saying that he had died. This could be possible heart failure; he had no other URI symptoms, but really, it could have been anything. These things can happen so fast.

Devon is coming up tomorrow with Kuzco, who is thus far 100% fine, chipper and stuffing his face full of carrot and otherwise healthy. (Prior to this they were eating the same food and sharing a divided enclosure.) He'll live in the travel/quarantine cage with me for a bit while we figure out where I'll be and he'll be, &c. Right now I just really need to see my pig. Devon will probably also bring Alfie's body, because I think that seeing it may be the only thing which makes this real for me. I imagine he'll be buried in Corvallis with Dink, though.

This isn't to say that I haven't been a sobbing shaking mess. I have. I also have Dee here with me (staying up until 2a to watch a comfort movie, and otherwise being so beautiful and sympathetic and full of hugs) and I'll see Devon tomorrow. I've just exhausted myself for the evening, that's all. My plan now is to sleep for as long as humanly possible and fill the rest of the time with movies, and to throughly take advantage of whatever degree of disassociation this is. As I've said before I have a poor concept of death, but I think I understand this one better in lieu of Dink's not-too-distant passing. It's all unreal and heartbreaking and, unless I indicate otherwise, I don't really want to talk about it online right now. (Condolences are welcome; questions less so.) But I feel like it needs to be recorded and so, here: it is.
juushika: Screen capture of the Farplane from Final Fantasy X: a surreal landscape of waterfalls and flowers. (Anime/Game)
Sometimes I think I could blog about just the weather. That's ridiculous, of course—I go for days without seeing the world outside, hermit that I am. But when I'm out like this, sitting before wide windows, I'm in constant awe of our weather. It rains for the majority of the year around here, and I imagine you have to be someone like me to think that beautiful—but the constant rain isn't boring, it isn't dull. Every moment is unique. Right now we have sunshowers—a silver cloudhaze, but the bright sun beginning to burn through; the light shining through clear, clean air; a heavy sprinkle, a light rain, pinging on the sodden brick sidewalk. The foxes are preparing for their wedding, and the air is sweet.

The sun just broke through, and the rain has slowed to the rare drop.

Give it five minutes, and it'll be something entirely different.

I am doing well today! I have some minor, lingering congestion, so mild that I'd doubt I'd notice anything outstanding if it hadn't been preceded by a fever. My throat is slightly sore, and my lymph nodes swollen. This is the best cold I've ever had, insofar as there is such a thing. (On a surreal note, Express, far away in California, reports a sore throat and fever. This I can't explain even with a long incubation period—we've never even met in person! So ... yeah. At this point I'm thinking nationwide conspiracy, what about you?)

On the flip side, we have Company. Boy's father's friend is staying at the house following a motorcycle accident and preceding knee surgery. I am sure that he is a wonderful person, but the house is small and full enough as it is; right now, he's staying in boy's brother's room, boy's brother and his girlthing have been pushed to the living room, and the house is packed. Worse still, boy's computer is currently in pieces, so the room is a mess, there's little ambient noise, and I have few distractions. In a word, I am miserable: stuck in a tiny back room, hearing every goddamned sound of the constant noise in the rest of the house, with little to help me pretend I am the only person there.

Is this the selfish response to someone else's health emergency? Yes, yes it is. I have no excuses for that.

But there you go. I'm in batten-down-the-hatches emergency mode, desperately trying to stay distracted, often failing horribly. I have little social energy, because I am overwhelmed and scared. I am taking every chance to get out of the house that I can get. Starbucks today is a blessing, even if there are approximately a million college students here.

Clear golden sunlight, now; the sidewalk is drying, and the puddles in the street shine.

Today I am wearing a runched, burnt orange shirt and an unabashedly fluffy cream scarf; my hair is down and slightly waved and everywhere, and an amber necklace peaks from my neckline. It's weird, to have another day when I feel lovely, but this is perfect timing for it, in the pale yellow sunlight, when everything else is so appropriately bitter and sweet.
juushika: Photograph of the torso and legs of a female-bodied figure with a teddy bear. (Bear)
I could review the rain like I would a book or piece of chocolate. It has variety enough, a hundred different characters for a hundred different days. The only difficulty would be to declare one state better than the other—that, and to keep up with how frequently the states change. Today is spring rain in the winter: a thick and heavy blanket of rainfall, inescapably saturating; the raindrops are solid—not hard or swollen, not light and far from mist, but the in-between point where they are strong and distinct but gentle on the skin; the temperature of both rain and air is mild leaning towards cool, the sky is solid pale gray, and all the streets are mist-fogged. This is the rain that will make the spring vivid and verdant, trapped in the winter when the only colors are gray on gray on gray,. It's omnipresent but surprisingly mild, and no one is shivering but everyone has raincoats and wet hair.

People come inside and make sarcastic comments to one another about this nice weather we're having, but there's no irony for me. I love it. There are a few places I could happily live, places all over the world—I'd be content to pick up and move to Sweden, and living in Great Britain is my dream—but I couldn't stand to live in a place where it doesn't rain, and if I left this valley I would miss it, miss the rain, the real rain, rain to soak your hems and flood the sidewalks and bring the sky to earth.

I guess you have to feel that way, to be happy living here. You have to be passionate about the rain. I suppose it's silly to write about that. But I am, and I do.
juushika: Photograph of the torso and legs of a female-bodied figure with a teddy bear. (Bear)
Every now and then I pack my laptop to take it somewhere, and never unpack it when I get home. Often it's simply that I'm lazy, but it tends to coincide with periods where I don't want much to be online—because that's what ends up happening. I use Devon's desktop sometimes, but it is uncomfortable and inconvenient, so when my laptop is hiding in a bag I do little more than check my email and move along, which has been my habit lately.

It puts me out of touch but serves me well, particularly when I do want some time away from the computer. I've been reading and, having caught up with Castle, began watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and much enjoying myself in that quiet way. Halloween and All Saints' passed with nary a whisper, which would have been a disappointment were it not for the wonderful days which preceded them; but as the seasonal focus turns swiftly towards warmth, company, and gifts, I find that I'm still in the mood for darkness.

I understand why thoughts begin to turn to heat and comfort, both physical and emotional, about this time of year—when winter comes on in earnest and there is need of both. Yet the bane and boon of Corvallis is that it is a temperate place: it rains here, it rains for nine months of the year, but all it does is rain. We get ice sometimes, but snow rarely, and more often than not the temperature hovers somewhere decent. It's still rainy and cloudy, you have to learn to live with the wet, and come spring one is glad again to see the sun—but our winters are never bitter, they never beg such a strong need for warmth and comfort, however welcome the both may be.

And the deader the season, the more haunted. I read The Raven to Devon just yesterday, and "Ah, distinctly I remember it was in the bleak December." The leaves fall and rot and leave the trees bare, the sky stays forever gray, the land is monotone and stark—and wet—and that's as haunting as the darkest October night.

But then, I'm also of the opinion that the hottest, most barren months of summer are haunted, too. You can blame The Red Tree for that.

Regardless, the season for scares may be mostly past but I still want them—gothic novels, misty atmospheres, the dark; fairy tales too, fantasy, stories of borders blurred and haunted; vampires and demons and some dark humor are also welcome. I'm glad that I'm still in the mood for such things, because there's a lot of them that I didn't get to in time for Halloween—and the coming months are long, and dark, and begging to be filled.

So I'm reading, and watching Buffy, and enjoying myself.

Adopt one today! Adopt one today! Adopt one today! Adopt one today!
juushika: Photograph of the torso and legs of a female-bodied figure with a teddy bear. (Bear)
Over Halloween weekend, I went on my first ghost walk and visited my first haunted house.

The ghost walk was at the Corvallis Whiteside Theatre, and perhaps "walk" is too big a word. It was fairly short and low key, and all within the theatre; they called it a ghost tour, which may be more apt. Caveats aside, the Whiteside is a remarkable place. It was built in the 1920s and it has a long and—let us say, a vibrant history including two fires and a beautiful organist who murdered her husband and killed herself. It's also an impressive historical building in the simple physical sense—Corvallis residents already know, but the rest of you will have to trust me that from within, the place is a palace. It shut down in 2002, but over the last few years a group of citizens have been working to repair and reopen the theatre as an arts venue. With a dead organist and dedicated, deceased owners and managers, some would say that there's been spiritual activity around the place—whether you agree with that or not, the history is fascinating and I appreciated the chance to be inside the theatre again and to find out what's being done to renovate it. There's enough there for an enjoyable history lesson and a fairly satisfying ghost tour. Devon and I quite liked it.

And part of me wants to volunteer with the group that's working to reopen the place. I was just starting to fall in love with the theatre when it closed down, and I think it has the potential to be so much more than it was back then. It was designed for acoustics and stage space as well as film. It was designed to provide entire evenings of variety entertainment. It could be something like that again, and that would be glorious.

The haunted house was the Nightmare Factory in Salem. We went just yesterday, and the day before Halloween was a combination of long lines (between two and four hours) and heavy rain, and so if I had known it would have been that much cold and wet and waiting for a fifteen minute walk ... I may have reconsidered. But as a chance to go through my first haunted house, it was worth it. They did a beautiful job with the build and aesthetic—it was about what you would expect, a school gone wrong, everything from corpses dancing at the prom to a haunted cafeteria. The live actors certainly were dedicated, and some of them were wonderful—my favorite was a contortionist, there were little touches down to a girl crying in the corner of the prom dance floor, and the cherry on top was the man with a chainsaw who chased down groups just as they made it out of the building and should have been in the clear. But for all that I liked the creative aspects, a haunted house turned out to be, for me, not a particularly successful venture.

I have a finely toned startle response, but as a result I also tend to be hyper-aware—particularly when I expect to be startled. Devon and I were at the head of the group, and we could see most of the live actors coming. That combination made things somewhat predictable: hey look, person in a dark corner, wonder if they'll jump up and yell real loud, oh look they did. I was startled a few times, but it was purely a physiological response.

And because I startle easily, I have a bit of a grudge against startle scares. I think they're cheap. They capitalize on those physiological responses and on their own they're nothing more than that. That isn't to say that there's no place for startle scares, but I believe that they must be infrequent to remain effective in provoking a response, and to be frightening—truly frightening in the sense of getting under your skin, into your mind, and clinging there—they need to work in tandem with other elements. Like atmosphere—and the haunted house had plenty, but it was a bit like Bettlejuice: grotesque so as it becomes humorous without losing its darkness, which can be fun but isn't my personal favorite. Like ideas—because a very brilliant idea can be everything. Like impact, too, because those ideas need to be supported: an idea in an emotional and intellectual vacuum is interesting but insubstantial; an idea that changes people is an idea that means something, that has weight, that sticks with you.

All of that is more than a haunted house could provide, I figure. There's no time or depth, it's a bit grotesque-gone-humorous by design, and all of that's fine. But it also means that even a good haunted house—and a reckon this was one—won't give me quite what I'm looking for. I think one that was a little more original (the haunted school thing felt a bit overdone) may impress me more. I did enjoy myself at this one, but mostly as a novelty experience: the creativity of the build, the experiencing of knowing what these haunted house things actually are from inside.

The real joy of Halloween has just been to experience it. I am intentionally distanced and reserved, I am a hermit in a cave of safety, and most of the time I love that—but it means that most special events pass me by. I don't get out on a day to day basis, and that puts me out of the habit of getting out at all—even for holiday and seasonal events. And I tend to regret that, because ideally I sequester myself so that when I want to engage, I have the resources and desire to do so. I don't like watching events just pass me by—not events like these.

This year, I had cider with my family and I drank so many pumpkin concoctions from Starbucks, I went out with Devon to enjoy the city at its most beautiful, and I even went to hear about ghosts and see my first haunted house. It's nothing special, but it was special to me.

Just like last year (because the picture is as popular now as it was then):

Candy corn and candy pumpkins closeup
Happy Halloween


Adopt one today! Adopt one today! Adopt one today!
juushika: Photograph of the torso and legs of a female-bodied figure with a teddy bear. (Bear)
This morning Devon and I went out early because I had an appointment at the eye doctor so that I could get stressed out my eye tests (I appreciate that it's almost entirely noninvasive, but there's still something stressful about rapidfire questions and perception exams) and chose a new pair of glasses, and the autumn morning was as beautiful as one could ever wish from Corvallis: thick mist and dense grayblue sky and all the flame colors of the leaves. I wish I could show you what autumn was like here, because I can't adequately describe it. The mist blurs the edges of everything, it catches and holds the blue of the sky, it smudges and it tints—but no one does greenery like we do and so there's such flame in the dying leaves, so vibrant and so prevalent, crimsons and coppers and papery golds, glowing through the blue. It is subdued and colorful, soft and bold, it is like living in the heart of a painting, and—and I wish I could show you.

Autumn leaves at the base of a tree
I took this outside my parent's house a few years back. It will have to do.

After the appointment we stopped for coffee, and I got a pumpkin mocha and wrapped its warmth in long sleeves and cold hands; I was wearing my Oregon Shakespeare Festival hoodie and a 60-some woman touched my elbow and told me she liked it, because I share my artsy fartsy demographic with a somewhat older crowd. I drank that and calmed down, and came home feeling wonderful. Just a few minutes ago I went to grab something from the kitchen and looked out the window above the sink to see a doe just outside the house, just twenty-some feet away, framed between two autumn-red bushes, grazing.

The new glasses will be half-rimmed wire in a color somewhere between burgundy and light brown.

Some things in my life are so very beautiful.

Adopt one today! Adopt one today! Adopt one today! Adopt one today!
juushika: Screen capture of the Farplane from Final Fantasy X: a surreal landscape of waterfalls and flowers. (Anime/Game)
I went to Ashland and came back and barely said a word about it. The weekend was rocky and exhausting, and so I came home with little energy and enthusiasm to say much at all. There were, however, things worth saying. These are a few of them.

We were in Ashland on October 11th, National Coming Out Day, and so we were also there for a gay pride parade that went down Main Street and ended in a big gathering at the park. The parade was short—I think it began about the time we drove into downtown, and ended about the time we finally found a parking space. But even if we didn't see the big event, we did see men in dresses and fantastic towering high heels in the park, we saw dozens of rainbows on all sorts of people walking along Main later that day, and we saw same sex couples all day long, holding hands and wrapping arms around waists and going through downtown together.

Hardly the biggest, loudest, or most colorful parade you can imagine, gay pride or otherwise. But you must remember that I come from quiet little Corvallis, which is surprisingly liberal in its upper middle class way but also pretty damn subdued and I don't know if we've ever even had a parade. And, needless to say, I don't get out much. So this little day of rainbows and sparkles and glorious individuals was a delight.

And I'd be lying to say that half the joy wasn't watching what happened when my parents were confronted with a gay pride parade that shut down half of downtown. In part because it was amusing: they're the pretty damn subdued surprisingly liberal upper middle class types, and all they wanted was a parking space. In part because it was wonderful: Papa and I left Mum with the car, we went walking down Main and into the park, and he was interested—probably as nonplussed by the sparkly drag as you'd imagine, but interested and alert and looking at the displays, and not awkward, and not judgmental. Pretty damn subdued surprisingly liberal upper middle class is not as liberal or as educated as it should be, there's a lot that folks from Corvallis, my parents and doubtless even myself, haven't been exposed to and need to learn to accept, but my family doesn't bat an eye at a gay pride parade and you know, that gives me a bit of faith in the world.

Walking down Main, we also saw a living statue—a pair of bronze women straddling the line between Victorian goth and steampunk. One carried a parasol, one sat on a leather trunk. They had a sign that (I think) read "Faerie Con or bust." When tipped they made bows in thanks, graceful bows but as perfectly choreographed and synchronized that they looked like beautiful automatons, but the rest of the time they stood so perfectly still, so perfectly posed, that my brain parsed them as statues. Not once, but almost every time—I walked past the same street corner just an hour later and didn't see them at first, we drove by them on our way to the plays the next day and I wasn't able to find them before they were out of sight. Here in Corvallis we have a couple of statues downtown, some wonderful, some ... lacking ([livejournal.com profile] century_eyes may remember the water phalli). One of the best is a bronze Labrador, sitting lovely and alert on a street corner. Papa says that some dogs get excited and bark at it from a distance, when they're too far away to notice that they can't smell another dog—it looks that much like a real dog.

These were women who looked that much like statues. It was breathtaking—such detail, such patience, incredible skill. I've watched living statues as far away as London, but these were the best by far that I've ever seen. I hope they make it to Faerie Con.

And not the only wonderful piece of performance art that we saw. At the right time of year, OSF has a free Green Show in the courtyard before the evening performance. When we were walking up to the square for the first play, I heard loud and beautiful music—and wandered ahead and found the Green Show underway with Pyrate Technics performing. The next day we came a bit earlier and I caught the whole Green Show, with Liquid Fire Mantra performing a rainbow-bedecked, New Age (and oh, what I would not give for representations of powerful goddesses that aren't rendered as sex objects), faux-belly dance and unimpressive fire-dancing performance which was rather a letdown with the exception of one performer—she was a hooper and a joy to watch, an enthusiastic and skilled performer who blossomed under the attention of a crowd and spun a flaming hoop into a beautiful ring of fire.

Pyrate Technics, on the other hand, was an unequivocal joy. They were pounding, compelling music to drive a powerful, compelling dance. They were poles and poi and fans, variety not for the sake of variety but because the performers knew and rocked their tools. I'd never seen fire fans before, but I would love, I'd love so much, to see them wielded that well again. They were dance, including belly dance, that was more than shimmied hips and cultural appropriation. They were spins and tosses, they were arcs and rings of fire in the night. They were beautiful, bare skin and flame, movement and light, dreadlocked and tattooed, such wonderful individuals. They were a performance of sight and sound and honestly, as I sit here trying, I know I can't describe them in words. Were they the best fire dancers the world has to offer? Probably not. Again I am small and sheltered and I don't get out much—I hardly have much to compare them to.

But in that night, that flame-lit night, they were breathtaking. Each dancer lit and extinguished their own blaze, and while the fires were lit they made such beautiful light.

My family comes to Ashland for the plays, but we've been coming a couple of times a year for longer than I've been alive. You get to see something of a city, in that time: the lovely galleries, the artsy fartsy tourist-entrapping stores, the wonderful restaurants (we went to Thai Pepper again while we were there, and my garlic tofu with broccoli will never not delight me), the beautiful park, old homes, greenery, college campus, quieter suburbs. We've seen wonderful art there and incredible performances—and many of those were the plays, but sometimes its the rest of it, the people, what goes on at street corners or in the courtyard at nightfall, that I love the most.
juushika: Drawing of a sleeping orange cat. (I should have been born a cat)
Back when I was living in my apartment in Portland, down in a little one-bedroom basement place, I rarely saw the sun. I used to hide from it. Not just outdoors, bright-light sun—but everything down to the rays through the window. Only one small window stood uncovered by blinds; it was in the same room as my computer and during the day, I used to advert my eyes from that window, I used to pretend that there was no sun shining through. Seeing the sun cycles would be to admit to the passage of time and to the existence of a real world outside the confines of that small apartment—and at the end of my stay there, things like time and existence and reality were more than I was able to handle.

When I moved into the townhouse, windows were everywhere. My bedroom was on the second floor, white-carpeted and open and empty but for my spacious bed. Two windows shone sunlight into that room. I'd hang a sheet over the windows because bright light has always bothered my eyes, but I learned, living there, to lay in that diffused glow, curled on burnt orange sheets, reading sometimes, writing a little (although I did most of that downstairs), watching a lot of movies on my laptop—and napping through the days. I was recovering, then, from the low point I had hit before. I was not healthy, but those golden sunlight afternoons taught me that, for me, perhaps there was a sort of health in just curling up with a book or for a nap—and aiming to nothing more.

These days, the room I share with Devon is cornered on two sides by huge windows. One is densely blinded; one has blinds and I sometimes cover it with a sheet, and sometimes can't be bothered. A large flowering bush stands before that latter window, and it filters out most of the sharper light. I go days, weeks, at a time without thinking much on the sunlight that comes through. Sometimes when I leave the house, the brilliance of the light blinds and confuses me. But sometimes I long for the sun in the way that seems most strange for someone who rarely goes outside, who is afraid of direct light, whose eyes dislike even an overhead bulb. I don't long for the sun as my sister does: to have it on her face, warm and present. I long for its glow: for reflections in burnt orange, for gentle light and barely perceptible warmth, for the golden ambiance that only sunrays can bring.

I am healthier now than I have been for years—healthy as one can hope to be when one "cures" ills not by fighting them, but by giving into them. I have cut myself off from the real world so that things like time, existence, reality are not present dangers—so that they are optional, and therefore sometimes even desirable. Sun cycles rarely scare me, now. Nor need I try to recover (with the same desperation, anyway) from the time when they did. But the sun is still an unexpectedly blessed thing. I'm a night-beast, a pale- and thin-skinned being, suited for shade and dark; I still fear and hate direct sunlight. But that golden light, that ambient glow, holds me curled catlike: napping, maybe; amusing myself, perhaps; comfortable, warmed, calmed. I miss it in the winter, although I welcome Oregon's thick wet weather. I treasure it in the summer, although I hate heat. It is my pocket of safety, golden orange, recumbent, content.

I don't want to sleep tonight less because I'm wakeful (I am that, but only by fighting my tiredness), less because I'm anxious, less for what I have or feel—than for what I don't. I want to nap in the gentle sunlight, rather than sleeping in the blueblack of late night. I want that golden comfort calm. I know it's silly to stay up to sleep with the sun, I know that I could well regret it (I do lose a lot of time that way), but I get like this sometimes. I remember the townhouse, I remember that cream and orange bedroom, I remember when I realized there was a hope—if I chose to lay back and rest through the day, rather than trying to make something of it, I could, perhaps, be happy.
juushika: Drawing of a sleeping orange cat. (I should have been born a cat)
A quick status update, for the sake of one:

I am well! Actually quite well: I've been doing much better this last ... week, let's say? than I had been for a couple months. I've been going to the library twice a week (locals wondering if I ever leave the house: I can usually be found somewhere between the downtown Starbucks and the public library Tuesday and Thursday, around 1p-5p give or take an hour or two), reading contentedly, writing a lot of book reviews (which need typing up) and taking a scattering of notes—I've been chewing through the pages of my Moleskine lately and it feels great. There's something so joyous in the tactile sensation of writing longhand, to say nothing of simply being away from the computer. In short I have been where I love it best: nestled in a cave of books.

Meanwhile, Devon and I are also playing Little Big Planet together (having borrowed it from a friend), and it is certainly making the poor neglected PS3 play its dues, let me tell you. And this weekend, I meet [livejournal.com profile] century_eyes for the first time. (Commencing freakout ... like three days ago.) I am social. And active. And happy as I ever am, and my back hates me for it all, but for a week at least I've been doing better and this is a good thing.

The side effect of all this, of mostly being able to brain again and of turning most all that renewed power to books, of getting out of the house and playing video games or reading when I'm here, is that I am a dozen types of busy and few of those types are centered around a computer. If I'm slow at getting back to you, that's why. I know there's always a reason why for my absences and lateness—seems silly still to make them—but ah, there you go.

I hope you are all as well.

[livejournal.com profile] sisterite! The stationary arrived today. It is glorious and beautiful (there's two lovely Hello Kitty pages, the transparent ones, that make me smile—to say nothing of the various bits of Engrish) and shall be put to use soon, I hope. Thank you, thank you!

Adopt one today! Adopt one today! Adopt one today!
juushika: Photograph of a stack of books, with one lying open. (Books)
Romance is defined by the people involved, of course—their tastes, weaknesses, personalities—but in mine own relationship few things are more romantic than (in a conversation about using one of the Zunes for a day):

Me:...well I wouldn't want to be spoiled or anything.
Devon: When are you ever not spoiled?

Because from him to me, that's the purest and sweetest expression of love.

Anyhow. The good news is I've been better these last two days. I know this is ironic coming on the heels of an update about how depressed I am, but it's nonetheless true. Yesterday I cleaned the room, and was therefore productive and mostly content. Today Devon dropped me off downtown for a bit, and it was wonderful. It was, in fact, almost exactly what I was aiming for in this post about planning to get out and about more often: "careful, short hours spent around books, coffee," ... no trees because it was temperamental and chilly out, but I'm sure you follow. I went to Starbucks for a soy mocha ([livejournal.com profile] kaimetso, did I mention that I drink soy now? Your mention of it a bit ago convinced me to finally give it a try, and not only does it fail to upset my tummy it also has a wonderful texture and tastes delicious—and silly as it is I feel better now that I'm back to a froufrou drink with my "tall soy mocha" and yes I know I'm shallow) and then walked the few blocks to the library; I penned a book review which I should type up soon, jotted down a to-read list out of Little Red Riding Hood Uncloaked, and did a bit of book browsing followed by reading on fairy tales and related subjects.

I found a chair at the library (up on the second floor, although next time I'm there I shall poke around to see if it has a twin somewhere not in the middle of things) that I would have kidnapped if I could have done so covertly. It was asymmetrical and plush, a comfortable and almost handsome beast with an oversized swooping shell back. The asymmetry made it possible to curl up against one side or lean an arm against the other: a chair of a dozen positions, of never growing stiff or bored; a chair of great comfort. I took my shoes off and snuggled up and was at home there—a great place for some quality reading. It's a pity I would have been rather conspicuous lugging it down the stairs, or it would be home with me now. (Where we'd put it is anyone's guess.)

I was at some point supposed to call Devon and tell him I was ready to be picked up; instead I got engrossed in my reading and lost track of time, so he just came down and found me himself. There's something joyful about glancing up to see someone you recognize—and love. We went out to dinner afterward, because Thursday is our weekly date night. Later in the evening we watched Picnic at Hanging Rock, which I loved (though Devon found it only "okay").

Today I would have been content just to get out of the house, drink my coffee and check out the book I had on hold and go to dinner with the boy, and that's the secret I think: to do something—a little something, preferable a something which doesn't require much brain or skill so that I can feel accomplished without too high a chance of failure; if the smarts and skill chose to follow, all the better. It can be a step out of the depression, and may even lead to good things. I know that to most "normal" people this sounds obvious, the common and poor piece of advice to snap out of it—but you have to remember that depression is not logical and rarely sees any potential for positive change. It's hard to force yourself to try something else, to even think about trying something else. Thus the monotony of hopelessness and uselessness.

Deciding to try something else isn't the end of the battle, either: these last few days could have easily collapsed around me (too clumsy to clean, too unmotivated by lack of result...; too unmotivated to get dressed and moving, to overwhelmed to remain in public...) and I did collapse upon returning this evening—my back hurts and I'm exhausted and slow and stupid. Tomorrow I'll spend all day in bed, trying not to get angry at myself if I don't have the strength to type up that review. But we get the point—I get the point, because writing this is mostly a reminder to my own self not to get swept away by one upturn and then crash hard if/when it doesn't continue.

It's not perfect. It's not a promise. But it has been a pair of good days, and today in particular was great—and that is wonderful.

Adopt one today! Adopt one today! Adopt one today! Adopt one today! Adopt one today! Adopt one today! Adopt one today!
juushika: Photograph of the torso and legs of a female-bodied figure with a teddy bear. (Bear)
The good news is that I survived my jury summons; the bad news is that it knocked me the fuck out for a few days, but that's hardly surprising.

Word to the wise and similarly anxious called in to do their civic duties (and for the curious as well): poke around you courthouse's website to see if they're hiding a jury information handbook somewhere. Benton County's is particularly well hidden; read it here (pdf). This is a summary of the information they deign to share with you if you show up, and it does a lot to answer questions and perhaps relieve fears—such as the scheduling and length of jury duty. In Benton County most trials only last one or two days, which for the juror includes the entire process: from summons to jury selection to deliberation. That's news which, predictably, I found very comforting—because once I was there I wanted to be finished and done as soon as possible.

I didn't get picked for the jury, of course. In fact they didn't even get to me in voir dire, because they called upwards of 160 potential jurors and were able to pull a jury out of the first 18. (Apparently the last few times they've had too few jurors show up; this time they called in an epic amount, and all but about four showed.) Considering the circumstances of the case in question they wouldn't have wanted me anyway, and not just because they ask if there's any reason you strongly don't want to be there (why yes thank you!).

So I was in at 8a and out by about half 10a. Not unreasonable. Still not easy: towards the end of that first round of voir dire I fell apart a bit. For the paperwork and various waiting I could at least read, but while the DA questioned each of the first 18 individually and the rest of us waiting our turn, I'm pretty sure it wouldn't have been appropriate to pull out a novel; without the distraction and sitting on perhaps the cruelest benches known to man, it was a long, miserable wait. Luckily it was only uphill from there, even with Devon's work phone being on the fritz when I tried to call for a ride home.

I was a zombie from then until I woke up this morning, and have had wretched nightmares and killer backpain in about equal measure these last few days. Sadly though that's nothing all that new. But those courthouse benches, man, let me tell you. Slick lacquered wood and a special spine-destroying shape—they inexorably pull you back, back, back no matter how straight you try to sit, then tilt you hips that way and push you lumbar this way and in just an hour try their damnedest to undo all the good you do by constant good posture and stretches and body babysitting. It's as fucking miserable as it is impressive.

At least the jury box is filled with plush office chairs, for those lucky enough to be picked to spend all day or two there.

What I really gained from the experience (other than PAIN, of course) was a glimpse into just how poorly I function in the "real world" these days. I don't drive, I can't approximate transportation costs or distances, I don't carry a cell phone (and as a result the one I do have somewhere was MIA when I wanted it), I'm not employed, hell I currently can't even remember if I'm currently registered to vote (somewhere in my dozen changed addresses of the last few years, I've lost track of if and where they're sending my absentee ballots—and yeah, I know I ought to go in and correct that). Some of this is intentional—e.g. I'm terrified of driving, so haven't driven in years; I hate time-sensitive, real-time, non-voluntary communication, so I hate cell phones—but a lot of it is just that I'm so sheltered, right now. Which is intentional, which brings me joy, but which may not make me all that well-adjusted, to be honest.

Devon doesn't much mind that I'm dependent on him, but I think we're still going to change things up a bit. A tiny bit. A little bit. Spring is coming here—I know it seems fickle or slow to come to some of you Northern hemisphere-livers who are awaiting it, but here we're having sunny days, cold snaps, and buckets of rain; the lawn is plush, rich green, and that means spring. Devon and I went walking in the blustery Central Park the other day, stopped by the library and then wandered through the art center; yesterday in the rain and dark we went for coffee, also downtown, and then walked across the corner to the local new/used bookstore and came away with two more volumes for my collection. In short it is lovely out, temperamental or no, and I've wanted to get out lately. In careful, short hours spent around books, coffee, trees, it's more enjoyable than stressful. So we're thinking more library visits, more time around the park and Starbucks, maybe even on my own!

When I was living in Portland, during my first and blissful leave of absence from Reed, I used to get out about once a week. I'd take the bus to Portland State (where I was taking a psych course I could have done in my sleep), walk a few blocks up to the main building of the public library, take my finds down the street to Starbucks, and/or come back down to the park near PSU. I consumed books swift as fire, studied up on Celtic mythology, had conversations with strangers, drank mochas, sat in the dappled shade of deciduous trees, and honestly it was one of the better, healthier times of my life (more ironic then that it was followed by my return to school and my swift slide towards ruin). I miss it a lot, and the little things that made it possible: public transportation within easy walking distance and, perhaps above all, a city big enough that it didn't trigger my anxieties. I know that sounds contradictory, but it was always easy for me to get to downtown Portland than it was for me to get to Reed's campus, because a lot of the social aspects of my anxieties are that people are building a little checklist about me, cataloging all my behaviors and faults and using it to view me a little worse the next time they see me—in short, that people remember me. Meanwhile, you can spend a month in downtown Portland and (especially if you're as bad at recognizing faces as I am) never see the same person twice.

I don't think I can spend near-full days in downtown Corvallis for just that reason, but a few hours at a time wandering between the places I find comfortable and beautiful? That I think I can probably do. And it would be good for me: to get me out and moving, more engaged and active with the tangible and sun-brightened world that I don't often see from the safety of my bedroom. And then I can come on home.
juushika: Photograph of the torso and legs of a female-bodied figure with a teddy bear. (Bear)
Yesterday I went with my papa to the farmer's market. Every autumn a local orchard sells Liberty apples, the apples that which have spoiled me for all others. I am eating one now and trust me, after a Liberty apple all others are mushy and miserable—they're small, crisp, tart red and green apples with lovely flavor and crunch. My family buys them by the crateful as soon as they come into season and then feast on them through autumn and winter, and so I went with Papa and the family dog Jamie to buy them today. The weather the day before (and again today it seems) was mild and warm—so I went out in a short-sleeved hoodie, and of course the rain came down in buckets.

I pulled my hood up over my (freshly-washed, still wet hair) and Papa asked me, what, was I trying to keep my hair dry? By the end of our little walk I was able to wring water from that hood. Papa's hair was plastered to his scalp, and Jamie looked like she was covered in inky feathers rather than fine short fur. There were puddles on the side of the road, almost everyone had umbrellas, and the sky was thick and gray. Dogs are allowed at the farmer's market, but they're not in the booths—so James and I waited outside while Papa made quick purchases in each, standing alone on the dark roadway under pouring rain.

But it was still warm. So warm indeed that on my (admittedly cool) skin, I couldn't even feel the rain: the little pats of water droplets, yes, and the flow of water running down my forearms to drip from my fingertips; but it was a thin, gentle sensation, ghostly even—not because it was cool but instead because the water was just as warm as my bare skin.

The rain was intermittent but when it came, it came on heavy. It enveloped me. It washed my skin clean, the air clean, the street clean; it stained roadways and tree trunks to shining black against which autumn leaves glowed like embers. This was the first real rain of the season that I've walked in, soaked myself in, and properly enjoyed. It rains so constantly here that we all do get a bit sick of it, but because of days like yesterday I wouldn't trade it for much of anything. I grew up here, I learned to enjoy the rain from necessity—but now I love it, wholeheartedly. Pouring rain, clean wet streets, and autumn leaves. It was beautiful.

(The irony being: I still hate showering and hold an irrational fear of standing water.)
juushika: Screen capture of the Farplane from Final Fantasy X: a surreal landscape of waterfalls and flowers. (Anime/Game)
One of the joys of living on the city limits, surrounded by open land and close to the forest, is wild nature just outside the door. A few days ago, the wild was a fawn walking down the garden steps. We have deer as visitors almost daily, but it's rare for them to come to close. They come by to eat the wild sweetpeas. This fawn was accompanied by its mother.

Wild fawn on the garden steps
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Some months ago, I found the wild creeping in under the window sill. These vines had worked their way under and up the sliding, wiggling in through the smallest cracks to fall and flower indoors. It reminds of a plate in Chris Van Allsburg's book The Mysteries of Harris Burdick which reads "He had warned her about the book. Now, it was too late." Searching for that plate also lead me to find this lovely picture of vines growing through a window by Flickr user Tonyp67.

IMG_5088-1
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Crossposted to [livejournal.com profile] laceandflora.

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