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: Drawing of a sleeping orange cat. (I should have been born a cat)
Missy and Devon and I have spent the last few days reading ballots to one another and being stressed by politics, because alongside the terror that is the presidential race it feels like both Oregon and California are a mess—Oregon in particular is saturated with measures with good intentions and poor execution and candidates that have good credentials but circumspect conservative leanings. But we are all three of us now done voting, after much angst and exhaustion; today Dee and I took Odi walking in the rain, and I dropped my ballot at the library and then had celebratory coffee, and all was good.

There were two candidate votes I ultimately skipped and should't've, but only two; I figure that makes me about 80% Contributing Citizen, which is approximately 79.5% higher than my usual; and voting with a panic disorder is hard, and I am grateful that Oregon's voting process is so accessible, and that I don't live in a state with polling stations; and I am so glad to be done.

I love the height of autumn, as a riot of color and crisp new-season apples and the onset of sweater weather, but this may actually be my favorite time of year, sodden leaf-litter and nearly-bare trees, the rain constant but not yet punishing, Odi's fur clumping into wet feathers along the top of his head.

(And the only talk of Christmas that I've heard on social media so far has actually been reminders that the expectation that everyone celebrates Christmas/that Christmas is a universal two-month event is a form of prejudice—and I am grateful for that, and surprised.)
juushika: Drawing of a sleeping orange cat. (I should have been born a cat)

I just got back from a week visiting Devon in Corvallis, and the return journey was lovely. Mist over the fields and river out the train window; dense fog as we reached Portland, with the city and its bridges shadows in the gray. The 6am train trips in autumn are consistently my favorite of all things: the clear dark cold at the train station, the slow sunrises, the mist and the changing leaves.

August was ridiculously clingy when I was preparing to leave (she even followed me and my luggage downstairs to hang out by the door and look concerned) and she's been inseparable since I got back, because she loves me and also because it's autumn and she wants to sit on me and be warm. I held her on my tummy and sang Can't Take My Eyes Off You to her, my wonder keeping the stars apart.

It was a fantastic trip, and I appreciate the reminder that I have those—and that last month's misery visit was a birthday-related anomaly rather than a trend. I timed my visit for the Fall Festival; I accidentally slept through most of Saturday, but we stopped by on Sunday. It was too sunny and I am pale and pathetic, so we made but a brief circuit. My favorite of what I saw was Fantasy Figurative Art dolls by MARCA—I like my art dolls creepy/cute rather than Froud-esque, but there were blue goblin children and humaniod bird monsters and of that I approve. We also went to the library's book sale, and by the time we got there they had entered the $5/bag "please, take them away" final phase; slim pickings but a joy to comb through, in no small part because it was indoors this time. I picked up paperback copies of books I own in hardback (hardback is a pain to read, and I'm a big rereader), some new-to-me books by authors I'm familiar with, and a few random picks—because at a flat rate, mistakes are free.

The Cherryh I picked up on another night out. After dinner and dark, we got Starbucks and walked across to the Book Bin—bless their late hours. The checkers were looking at pictures of baby goats, there were no other customers, and because I'd already made a book run I wasn't working off my to-buy list: the laid-back book browsing I've always wanted. Having credit there allows me to make impulse purchases without stress.

One final highlight: a moment when Devon and I both walked down the hallway and Gigi the puppy, the best baby dog with the most love, came in from the kitchen, saw us both, and barreled past Devon to get to me because Dev is everyday and known and boring where I am Important Dog Auntie, and also the only one that will hold her paws.

I didn't see my family and other than the Fall Festival had no to-do list, which I think contributed to the successful visit; it was the private, quiet time that we needed.
juushika: Photograph of the torso and legs of a female-bodied figure with a teddy bear. (Bear)
A few days ago I put something moderately fragile down on a semi-unstable surface for 2.5 minutes, said to myself, "self, be careful not to let this drop!" and then promptly dropped it and injured the fragile thing, about which I care a lot in a stunning display of this is your spacial reasoning with dyscalculia/this is your memory with brainfog/these are your fine motor skills with anemia and anxiety disorders. I'm pretty clumsy, but this was particularly timed: breaking (not beyond repair, but it's the principle of the thing) a discretionary purchase and treasured object, while anxious about another potential discretionary purchase—a sort of universal sign that probably can I not only afford to buy things, I don't deserve to have them. It sent me into a massive anxiety spiral; three days later, I'm still recovering.

I'm absolutely aware that was a ridiculous overreaction. I'm not surprised that it happened, either, because my financial anxieties have easy triggers and I drop things so often that this particular sequence of events was inevitable. But I don't appreciate the obnoxiously obvious parallel: the things I love are fragile, my mental health is fragile, and I'm fragile, one tiny accident (that someone neurotypical could brush off) away from a meltdown.

That's it, the whole thing; no counter-lesson and only time and patience and Devon being exhaustively over-conscientious have helped; nor am I recording for any particular purpose (to record every time Dumb Thing Happened and I had a breakdown as result would be both exhausting and embarrassing) except that the moral of the story, however obvious it is, was so spot-on that it's been stuck in my head as some sort of life lesson. Perhaps writing it down will make it known and done, and I can be free of it.

Mid-80s warm weather yesterday, and Dee and I went out to dinner and coffee (and then I such headache, very sun, I was probably too strung out for it but I can't turn down Thai and Starbucks); it should be, loosely, the last warm day of the year. Gray and steady rain, today; red leaves on the horizon out my left hand window. I'm transitioning into my autumn media, especially visual media; I'm prepping my winter to read list. Dee made pumpkin muffins which were a little dry for me, but I found that soaked if a 2:1 water:maple syrup for a few minutes and then microwaved in a ramekin for 30secs they become individual dense pumpkin bread puddings, best if topped with cream cheese. There are small blessings.
juushika: Drawing of a sleeping orange cat. (Default)
Provided in bulk to cut down on spam. I am so behind in book reviews, as in all things. I've been quiet and I had some things going on around my birthday, and as soon as I was ready to write again I was hit by a few (ongoing, but today I'm stubborn, fed up, and working to spite it) days of unremitting back pain that medication just will not touch. But I've been reading a lot, and have more to read, and have been writing my notes in a fresh, new, larger Moleskine—5x8 inch; my last two were 3x5 inch, and there are benefits to both, but this larger size is so much easier to structure and to hold, and I'd forgotten how much I like it; summer is most definitely winding to a close, and I know because it rained today and Dee and I took Odi walking in it; I want to at least pretend to turn all that into some sort of record before the month is up. Ergo:

Title: The Geek Feminist Revolution
Author: Kameron Hurley
Published: New York: Tor, 2016
Rating: 3 of 5
Page Count: 385
Total Page Count: 200,115
Text Number: 590
Read Because: personal enjoyment, ebook borrowed from the Multnomah County Library
Review: A collection of short essays, most harvested from blog posts, about intersectional feminism within literature, media, and other geek spheres. This intersectionality is intentional, valuable, and imperfect—I wish it stretched to include mental illness, which is instead equated to bigotry in problematic ways. But on the whole, this is a step above white feminism or feminism 101, although it fails to say anything truly revolutionary. I'm not sold on the tone: anger is a valid and valuable tool, but the swearing combined with the repetitive style and content smacks of what it is: blog posts, edited but still informal and unrefined. I appreciate the intent of this collection, but as a published work I don't think it's particularly successful.

Title: Sword of Destiny (The Witcher Book 2)
Author: Andrzej Sapkowski
Translator: David French
Published: London: Orbit, 2015 (1992)
Rating: 3 of 5
Page Count: 380
Total Page Count: 200,495
Text Number: 591
Read Because: continuing the series, ebook borrowed from the Multnomah County Library
Review: Six short stories, largely chronicling the dissolution of Geralt's relationship with Yennefer and his first interactions with Ciri. This collection is less enjoyable than The Last Wish, mostly because it has a slow start—"The Bounds of Reason" and "Eternal Flame" ("petty politics instead of dragons" and "a comedy of financial errors," respectively) in particular run overlong. It's also, arguably, braver, offering more in the way of overarching plot, reoccurring characters, and a dense emotional register. But that last is a strange: the gritty, crude worldbuilding grates against the persistent coyness of Geralt's emotions and even his actions. His character could be profound—but the production of profundity grows tiresome.

And the sexism, in the worldbuilding and the narrative, of course persists; that Yennefer's infertility is her sole motivation is predictable and simplistic. Again, in contrast, the female character themselves are complicated and strong, especially willful child Ciri—she's lovely in the title story, which also offers complex, solid worldbuilding and an evocative atmosphere.

I will continue these, and look forward to starting the novels proper. But I can't recommend this collection and, oh, does this series have problems.

Title: Cold Fire (The Circle Opens Book 3)
Author: Tamora Pierce
Published: New York: Scolastic, 2011 (2002)
Rating: 3 of 5
Page Count: 350
Total Page Count: 200,845
Text Number: 592
Read Because: continuing the series, ebook borrowed from the Multnomah County Library
Review: Daja and Frostpine are working in the snowy city of Kugisko when a rash of devastating fires breaks out. The structure of this quartet remains formulaic, but this installment is surprisingly good. The setting, fire against snow in a well-defined woodworked city, is evocative; the plot is simplistic but the characters are not—gracelessly in the antagonist's case, but the supporting cast is strong. The nostalgia is toned down and the themes of maturation are less clear-cut, which gives Daja room to shine instead of slotting her into the series's formula. I still don't love this quartet, but this is one of its better installments.
juushika: Screen capture of the Farplane from Final Fantasy X: a surreal landscape of waterfalls and flowers. (Anime/Game)
(CW for offhand discussion of mental health issues and suicidal ideation.)

At the risk of jinxing it, we've been having unseasonably cool weather these last few weeks. I hate summer but live seasonally, in particular organizing my media consumption around the seasons, so this deviation is disorientating but not unwelcome. And I've been finding a lot of media to fill the gap in my media consumption as I push some things back (like sports anime, which is uniquely suited to warm weather).

I discovered Critical Role only approximately an eon behind everyone else, and it's phenomenal and also a gigantic timesink. Halfway through the second episode I stopped to make sure it was safe to binge watch and I wouldn't run into a sudden end, but the joke was on me because it's 50+ 3 hour-long episodes. I've never participated in a tabletop RPG and always wanted to, but never been interested in D&D because of my hatred of high fantasy; I still don't care about the setting, but I had underestimated how engaging this sort of by-user for-user creation could be, even when the source material is as generic as imaginable. (It does make me wish I could play something similar, which then reminds me that a lot of things aren't accessible to me because of my crazy; I receive that reminder often, and it always manages to sap away some joy, but the show is still fun to watch.)

(See also: Pokemon GO, which I would love to play but can't b/c no cell phone b/c mental health reasons, so that's a fun phenomenon to be excluded from.)

I've also been reading significantly more book series in the last few years, which has increased by book consumption considerably and contributes to the number of books I've reviewed this year. I still dislike the time and energy demand of series, still think a lot of them would benefit from brevity, and always keep to my habit of alternating between series-book and non-series book to prevent fatigue—but there's something satisfying about chewing through a sequence of books instead of a slew of stand-alones, and it's opened up some authors (Octavia Butler, a lot of children's/MG/YA literature, and, goodness knows, a ton of SF/F) that I previously would have avoided.

This last week or so I've been having some abnormal pain problems (neck and upper back, approximately unrelated to my normal back pain) that are affecting my sleep, and some amorphous low blood pressure issues. Both are annoying but niether particularly awful; less sleep just means more time for stories, and, as established, feeling cold in the summer is A-ok with me.

My mental health issues mean that I have constant suicidal ideation, not often with any particular desire or intent but with unflagging consistency; I would always rather not be, even when various symptoms are in remission; I have never found anything that justifies the effort of being present. And these stories still don't, but the sheer number of them, that I'm timesharing episodes to watch against series installments to finish, means that—for a rare occasion—I feel like there's not enough time, not enough of being, for all these things. That's not exactly a counterbalance but it's pretty close, as these things go.
juushika: Photograph of the torso and legs of a female-bodied figure with a teddy bear. (Bear)
Real autumn broke a few weeks back, and was a long time coming—so many sunny days—but we have rain now, and deep blue skies behind the yellow foliage. Gillian has been out and about for an hour or three every day, while August is busy with her daytime sleep and locked safe in my room. I have played American McGee's Alice: Madness Returns while sipping hot apple cider and buried under a blanket, with an open window (letting in wind and the sound of rain) at my back and a cat in my lap.

Indeed it feels as if lately the only thing I've not done sans lapcat is breathe. Cool weather brings August to me; at night she curls up between my legs while I read or watch TV before bed, finding the most awkward possible spot on the bed (hogging as many blankets as she can) so that when I finally turn off the lights I must twist myself around her into whatever space and bedding is left. When they're not cuddling, they're yowling: Gillian mostly, who—now that he has discovered the world outside the bathroom—complains mightily whenever he's trapped in that stifling prison. He has another month of quarantine, and so he shall just be forced to cope.

Odi is afraid of Gillian, who weighs eight pounds and is front declawed. We're not sure if this is because Gillian has the scary confusing soft e-collar of doom, or because Gillian has a few times actually gone after Odi when Odi gets too close. (Mind, August has swatted at him with actual, albeit blunted, claws, and he's not the least bit scared of her).

Autumn is for walking dogs. Dee's been walking Odi in the rain since the first day of it; I finally went with them a few days back, on a day when threatening rained turned into sprinkles turned into a jean-soaking downpour, and I would not live in any other climate in the world than this. Yesterday we walked down to St. Johns proper, went to Starbucks and took our drinks and the dog to the Willamette waterfront, blue and cool; we went to the library where we each had a book on hold, because autumn is for reading.

It's not all beautiful: my wrist issues have been flaring and thus I have a lot piling up that I want to do and can't—and moreover the fact that my body's throwing up yet another chronic issue just frustrates me—and the needy cats are lovely but also draining my energy. But: autumn. I can't argue with that, wouldn't want to; it is so beautiful, here.
juushika: Drawing of a sleeping orange cat. (I should have been born a cat)
Gillian headshot

If it were reasonable to take in a hundred billion cats, or if we didn't have our hearts set on giving Mamakitty a home, I would adopt Gillian. I can't tell you much about this cat other than it turned up on the porch about the time we started putting cat food there. I've been calling her a she in part because of her small size, and named her Gillian after the Practical Magic character and the black cat she sometimes carries. As far as I can figure Gillian's not yet full grown; she must at some point have been domestic because this is the friendliest cat you have ever met. She comes to the porch and meows in the window so that I will go out and pet her; she jumps in my lap. She gives lovebites, honest to goodness, and I adore her. In many ways she's also a fascinating mirror to August—I just really, really wish she could be mine; in the meantime, I'm looking into having her spayed/vaccinated/ear tipped, and, well, we'll put out food.

Every good picture I could get was of her on my lap. Guys, she's a lovely cat.

+3 )
Petting Gillian

Don't let the Japanese maple tree in the background fool you: autumn is just starting, and not yet in full swing. But Devon was here this weekend while Dee went out of town, and we went into St. Johns proper for lunch, and I ran out halfway into the meal in order to stand in the thick full raindrops that I'd seen through the window. It is here.
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. (I should have been born a cat)
August's one-year-here anniversary passed without fuss—as it's the day before the 4th of July it was difficult to forget, but arbitrary dates still are arbitrary so I didn't pay it much mind. But in its way, it's a fantastical, gigantic thing that I have this cat; that I've had her for over a year, now. I feel like I've already said everything I can about the ways in which she's changed me. When I got a cat I knew it would be a change, and that's what I was there for: one life-changing experience, sign me up. A dog, we've found, is a large change, a day-to-day behavioral change (especially for Dee, goodness knows); a cat is smaller. They don't require daily walks or need to learn commands; they become a presence in the house, your life, and your bed. But that, still, is huge—especially for me.

So it's too much and too little, when I write about her—about how I love her every time my heart beats, about how she's filled a void in my soul, about how this cat is my favorite, my favorite thing ever, favorite being ever, my dearest love. It's melodramatic (as I tend to be), and gracefully overlooks the fact that she poops in a litterbox and breaks into any plastic-wrapped ANYTHING left ANYWHERE and annoys the everloving shit out of me for a minimum hour before each of her meals, and it's accurate—as accurate as I ever could be in telling you about my cat.

It's 90 degrees here today. I hate summer, we know, but this one hasn't been nearly as soul-destroying as last year—it's been more mild more often, and we better know how to cope with heat in this house (for my room, that means: crossbreeze. crossbreeze. no really: open the damn windows, all of them, yes.), and in a way I'm embracing this summer—reading summer books, tolerating with the warm weather—not for the sake of summer itself but so that when autumn and the rains come they will seem all the more glorious.

90 degrees, and August is stretched on my bed as drowsy and pliant as any cat could be, and I love her. I would rather love her than do or be or have almost anything. I would rather have her in my life than likewise. There's a steady breeze, and we've passed the magical time of day—5p—when the temperature goes from rising to falling. She'll curl up more as the temperature drops, she'll move from lying flat on my bed to sitting on her microfleece blanket, and she will always be perfect.

One year, guys.

Have some pictures.

August, a year later

+3 )
juushika: A black and white photo of an ink pen. (Writing)
Dear Universe,

I think that's the best addressee. With these things, it's hard to be sure. Lately, the warm muggy weather finally broke; it's been wet and cool outside, almost too cold, and last night I had to nudge the window almost shut and the cat slept curled against me and half under my blankets.

So my request is that, perhaps, I wake up tomorrow and it's September. I would love nothing more than to just skip over summer. I know it's not a particularly reasonable request, and there'd be all sorts of awful consequences for the flora and the harvest—but if it could be done somehow, then I'd really like to do it. I'm okay skipping only as far as September 1st: I could survive a lingering week or two of hot weather. It's three months of it that I'd rather do without, especially in the face of the beauty that's been outside my window the last two days. I don't want to give that up.

So let me know how that sounds, yeah?

juushika: Screen capture of the Farplane from Final Fantasy X: a surreal landscape of waterfalls and flowers. (Anime/Game)
Beautiful changeable spring weather, today. Took a walk while waiting on an install—I left to gray skies (rich as velvet, the perfect backdrop for all the verdant spring gardens) cut through with swathes of yellow sun that reflected off the pages of my book (Shirley Jackson's The Haunting of Hill House, a month or two too early but still impeccable). I had planned to walk the height of the peninsula, but found myself walking the width towards downtown St. Johns instead, and the fewest drops of rain began to fall from the sky. I figured I might as well stop for a coffee and some reading time; as soon as I found a seat with drink in hand it began to pour outside, a slate blue sheet of it, soaking and solid. I read a chapter and left to pale gray skies and the beginning of sun, not a drop of rain but the street corners still flooded, listening to Vocaloid on my headphones. I came back to Odi in the kennel, wagging his tail; he whined and I ignored him and went upstairs, because that's what training is. On my flist were two [livejournal.com profile] damnportlanders posts, one bitching about bad bicyclists and one searching for people in samurai armor.

There is no city like this one, and few places that I would rather live.

Odi is settling in well, by the way! The first day was exhausting, but now that the OMG EVERY SINGLE THING SHINY NEW has passed things are settling into a more manageable routine. He's still a puppy, mind—goodness but he is such a puppy. The mind of a young dog amazes me. They don't yet know how to filter things: this effects me, this I can ignore. His first ringing phone, his first bicyclist, his first cat were all overwhelming, so direct and relevant in his dog brain. Jamie—my family's dog—doesn't seem to notice these things at all, anymore, televisions and passing cars; Odin's only just starting to filter them. His energy is halfway boundless. His intelligence is impressive—watching him go from constant hand-biting to reacting to "no" to, now more often than not, opening his mouth and lifting it towards a tempting hand or pant-leg and then turning it away so deliberately that you can almost hear his interior monologue of "wanna but not suppos' to." We can tell when he's getting tired not because he settles down but because he gets more rambunctious and less obedient. He's taking to crate training with aplomb, has only had two accidents, both caught mid-stream and occurring in his first few days here. and has pretty much picked up on "good," "no," and variations of "get it" and "bring it." His favorite game, other than chew the rawhide until has been reconstituted with dog slobber, is to carry a toy back and forth between Dee and me when we're at either ends of the downstairs hallway.

I haven't been doing horribly well, lately—my back just won't get better, and I guess I should stop expecting it will, but that's .. sort of soul-destroying, in the way these things are. I think it's fair to say I've been depressed, leaning towards the major depression side instead of the dysthymia side, complete with fucked up sleep and eating patterns and a shameful inability to do difficult things like clean my room or shower. It's a blessing that Odi is Dee's dog—not that I haven't been interacting with him, not that I don't try to be at least a little useful (mostly by playing with him, so she isn't quite so constantly interrupted and consumed by the dog), but that I can sometimes go upstairs and it can be just me and my cat, quiet and alone. But while a dog is no miracle—while there aren't miracles—I think there are fewer things in the world which are so full of pure joy and energy as a 4-month-old puppy.
juushika: Photograph of the torso and legs of a female-bodied figure with a teddy bear. (Bear)
I'm writing from a hotel lobby—sitting beside a fireplace with my laptop and a book, giving room service a chance to clean my room. I smell like The Seekim (cacao absolute, hay, black pepper, patchouli, and incense ash), a warm dark smoky smooth deep chocolate. They're playing innocuous soft jazz over the sound of background chatter. Outside there's mist and heavy sprinkles, humid and wet in turns, a thick but almost crystalline gray, weather like quartz. Express is at work, but should be done about dinner, and then we may eat the quiche I cooked and we'll probably hack more Pokémon and attempt to stream more Initial D over internet that feels as ancient as this historic hotel.

It's good.

When Dee gave me a lift into downtown yesterday, we left at dusk; we went up through St. Johns, over the St. Johns bridge, and down US-30—our secret route into downtown and Beaverton, with less traffic and beautiful sights. Coming onto the arc of the bridge, the blue fog as so dense that it nearly swallowed the spires; as we drove across the far side came into view, the rising hill of Linnton Park, dark green Douglas Fir shot through with saffron Bigleaf Maple that glowed in the dimming light. Coming up the hill where US-30 merges onto 1-405, the city did the same: blue-stained concrete buildings shrouded in fog, pieced by and shining with a thousand amber lights.

Express is Los Angeles-born and is surviving the cold and wet—we went wandering last night once we finally here and settled, walked down to Pioneer Square and saw the light-wrapped trees that decorated the streets from here to there; this morning we went out for morning coffee and to find his office in that deep fog-cum-heavy sprinkles. He's surviving it, wrapped in his layers and waterproof jacket, but I'm reminded how much I love the land where I live. Autumn was slow in coming this year, the trees were reluctant to turn, but now we have golden leaves against rained-darkened branches, and a blue haze to wrap it like a gift, and the cold is bracing and the wet tangles in my hair, and I could live elsewhere—Sweden, England, Scotland, I remember them all fondly and long to go back—but right now I am just so happy to live here, and to have these days to show off my city: my city where, yes, you have to love the rain—but if you do it sparkles with it, and it is so beautiful.
juushika: Photograph of the torso and legs of a female-bodied figure with a teddy bear. (Bear)
Y'all, I am cold. I am cold and closing the windows (partway) and I am wearing my robe when I run into the bathroom because it's cold out there too. The cat was a bit early today and so we have half an hour to kill before I feed her, and I think I'll spend it huddled up and reading. But first I can turn on my heat-emitting electrical device and check my email without giving a second thought to whether or not I should risk upping the temperature in the room by a few degrees.

Yesterday August jumped up on my bed and circled around looking aimless and lost until I dug out my modal top sheet, which was bundled under the grand pile that is my bedding, and plopped it down for her. Then she curled up on it and gave it a brief kneed, and then went to sleep. Yes, totally my cat. This morning she's playing the "I love you aaaalmost more than I love food so please feed me now" routine. I no longer have the same desperation for her love that I used to, the starting anxiety, the fear that every moment mattered most and could go wrong. But the magic hasn't worn off. I still look at her when she sleeps and I can feel my heart in her not-so-little body, an E.E. Cummings inversion. I overflow with love and that surfeit is hers. I give it all to her, to my ridiculous cat.

Although August would like to know: if that be the case, why then do I insist on starving her to death?
juushika: Drawing of a sleeping orange cat. (I should have been born a cat)
It is 70 degrees Fahrenheit outside and the sun is still setting. Perhaps this shouldn't feel like a minor miracle, but it does, and I'll take it.

On Saturday, Dee and I drove into downtown Portland to meet [livejournal.com profile] sisterite/Lyz and a whole flock of others—Lyz's boyfriend, their roommate, the roomate's friend, a friend, and the friend's boyfriend, if I'm remembering it all correctly. They were visiting Powell's because, well, wouldn't you? And then we all went to Deschutes Brewery for lunch, which was surprisingly nice (not that I had my doubts)—I had the spinach flatbread (garlic cream sauce, sun dried tomatoes, whole milk mozzarella, chanterelle mushrooms, fresh local spinach, finished with garlic parmesan aioli) which was pretty much a sauceless pizza, rich and savory but, without sauce, not too heavy, with a wonderful kick from the aioli. When Lyz and her gang left—we only had about two hours with them, but, given that they were driving a round trip through Washington, that's understandable—Dee and I dropped back into Powell's. We browsed a bit, and in the last room as we were thinking of leaving we found the $1 "literature" section where I picked up a book about dog people (thus the sarcasm quotes) and another random fantasy of manners-esque find. Then we went across the corner to a roomy, all-amenities Starbucks, and I had my first pumpkin spice latte of the season. I hate it when these go away each year, but the blessing of their seasonal nature may be that the first is the best you will have all year: creamy and golden and spiced and just ask Dee, I would not shut up about how delicious my coffee was.

Lyz should be coming back through town this weekend, and we hope to grab her for a little longer if we can. One day we may even kidnap her and keep her overnight in the living room, with its delux pull-out couch—but shhhh, don't tell her that. The short visit was nice, and the day in downtown was quietly spectacular (and escaping into air conditioning was quite the added bonus), but I like a visit I can dig my teeth into, with less noise and fewer people and longer conversations, and a BPAL smellathon might be nice too.

Today we woke up to overcast skies and fresh cool air. The max temperature today was ten degrees cooler than yesterday, and it's looking to do so again tomorrow, and then so help us we may actually have low 70s for the rest of the month and see the actual advent of autumn. That's a cause for celebration, here. Dee dropped me off at Starbucks while she ran all number of shopping errands, because cooking food becomes more appealing when the house isn't already cooking you. I had a conversation about the book I was reading and OryCon with one not particularly socially adept middle-aged male, and then a 20-some indie artsy female thing brought in a large bag containing a small and mewling cat so that she could feed it about a cup of whipped cream. Something tells me that the average Portland Starbucks is a mite bit stranger than your average Corvallis Starbucks. I convinced (well, asked) the barista to take a slightly-expired free birthday drink card (because the hot weather has not been conducive to coffee drinking, either) and had a second pumpkin spice latte which so help me was just as good. I wrote a review, and figured out that my back is still not recovered from these last few days of pain, and when I left it was still a reasonable temperature outside.

I could get used to this, you guys. My eyes are peeled for turning leaves. My pumpkin necklace should be in the mail. We have the energy to do things again, energy that these long days have summer have been draining out of us. Today we had stir fry. Not burritos! And now the sun has set, and there's a cool breeze. Dee brought Spike out of prison and downstairs, and August is trying so desperately to get him to chase her around the house. And I'm happy.
juushika: Photograph of the torso and legs of a female-bodied figure with a teddy bear. (Bear)
We're on day two of fantastic weather—gray skies and cool days and the occasional chance of rain—and after almost a week of heat (some of that without the even saving grace of a breeze) it's a blessing but also hard to believe. Part of me is suddenly gearing up for autumn—and not just mentally, but with a physical instinct towards soft warm fabric and an ache that begins in my heart. Part of me is unwilling to engage with or even appreciate the thick billowing clouds, because I know that there's more heat and blinding sun to come, and it'll feel even worse if I've adapted back to the cool.

I don't even know if it's weather you come to love. Myself, it seems bred into my bones, and the cool and wet and clean is where I'm meant to be, and the first hint of autumn is a homecoming. It revitalizes me. When the heatwave resumes I'll be crushed, so help me. But this autumn will be miraculous.

Anyway. Today I woke (the second time—both Devon and I have been sleeping poorly, and I was also up between 3a and 9a, but then managed to sleep until noon) being able to see a little more than just a line of type on a blank page—which is to say that when I pause for two minutes and remember that Madison is dead, it doesn't just trigger a sense of incomprehension; it triggers instead the beginning of comprehension, which is to say grief. It's not entirely unwelcome. That something, even if it's pain, is less frightening than the void of nothing—and this weather indulges gray melancholy with gray skies. It's exhausting, though. Today Dee and I went out on a distracting shopping trip, and I used up what bit of energy I had there. Then we went out to comfort food (the restaurant was warm against the cool of the day) and across the street for coffee. It's silly, but the warm cup in my hands almost made me cry—it's like a soft warm sweater, and it's a comfort, and I've been craving that (coffee, and comfort) since I heard the news.

Last Friday, Dee and I went to see The Decemberists in concert. They're turning out to be mostly a live-only band for me, and I'm enjoying it. Recorded and studio-refined, the twang to Meloy's voice bothers my ears—but live I embrace and forgive and soak up the energy. It's fantastic. On Sunday, we took the bus into the city center and went to Powell's for my birthday book shopping trip. I gave myself a blister on one heel, but the skyscrapers cast shadows on the sidewalks and I came away with a small but wonderful (and tailored to my taste in obscure books and favorite authors) stack, with leftover money for the next impulse used book purchase. On and off, I've been feeling a renewed desire to embrace the opportunity of living in Portland—and the heat has been utterly decimating my will to do so, so it's good that there was something to force us out of the house and into life. Since Madison's death, I've been trying to stay occupied because of the fear of seeing that line of text on that white page, so the trips out were exhausting in just the right sort of way.

Dee is heading out of town tomorrow to attend Dragon*Con. Devon resumed full-time work this week, so I'll see some of him while she's gone but not a full four-day stay. I was ambivalent about facing that time alone, but now I think I can embrace it. Oh, the weather will heat up by the weekend, and I'll be miserable and complaining as I play my video games. But right now the weather tells me that it's safe to be alone, and grieve. As much as my attempts at faith have consistently proven unsuccessful, I'm looking towards a thoughtful Samhain this year. If it seems silly that these deaths are impacting me so strongly, know that it seems quite right to me. I've been realizing, and I've been forced into correcting, my incomprehension of death. I want to see the world die around me. I've always found life in that—in the vivid colors and the cycle it precipitates and the way it makes my heart—and perhaps it will bring me full circle. I can dwell, and die, and come alive again.
juushika: A black and white photo of an ink pen. (Writing)
Nights are a balance, right now, between trying to get plenty of rest while it's still cold enough to sleep, and wanting to be awake to perhaps enjoy a few moments while it's cold enough to live. In other words: I am beyond ready for summer to be over, so ready that I have been dreading the days. We're midway through almost a week of 85 to 90 degree weather. I don't care how moderate that is my your standards: I am from the Pacific Northwest, and I am not made for this. I hate people that bitch about how wet/cold/overcast it is in one time of the year, and how sunny/hot/fucking miserable it is in another, but so help me I am not one of those people—I never complain about the rainy season or want it to be any shorter, and there is no hypocrisy when I say I am finished, I am done. There are hours these days—sometimes entire days—where the ambient temperature and humidity is just so that it feels like my body never ends, like I extend to the size of the house, like the air is my flesh and I'm suffocating myself. It's like the hell version of a float tank.

We're surviving thanks only to foods that can be cooked in half an hour or less, the blessed ice cube tray, and media sufficiently distracting that we may for a while to pretend to be anywhere but here.

Even the cats get hot. August goes and lies down on the linoleum and refuses to move.

But right now, August is nestling herself in my lap, and there is a cool breeze and the start of sunrise, and I'm actually comfortable and—despite the rant—quite happy, so I'm going to go and enjoy the moment.
juushika: Photograph of the torso and legs of a female-bodied figure with a teddy bear. (Bear)
I wrote this just after 5a, but LJ was down.

I just woke onto—well, because of—the most intense thunderstorm I've ever experienced. I'd been dreaming about touring a Wonderland (of the Alice variety) exhibit, and criticizing it and comparing it to other Wonderland interpretations and the source material; in my dream I was a semi-famous figure, known largely for eccentric behavior in the de Lint/Helena Bonham Carter/magical bohemian pixie girl sort—at the time I was being photographed as I walked through heavy rains with a broomstick skirt hiked to my knees and no socks or shoes to protect me, but I'd become legendary for a habit of running ... okay, so, running pantless through the freezing winter nights, and I promise that sounded much more magical at the time than it does now. I was ignoring the photographers, and telling my companion that it was almost a pity that I'd grown inured to cold, after all that running—but the rain was quite nice.

And then I woke to a deafening crash. I imagine this will be hard to explain—if I'd heard it explained before experiencing it, I doubt any explanation would have meant much to me. There were about four cracks of lighting, with another I missed; the first I saw lit my entire room through half-open shades, and the first I saw directly burned an afterimage in my eyes that's just now faded. There was heavy rain, lasting no longer than the rest of the storm, that forced me to close one window to a slit. But it was the sound, the back of the teeth, thick in the head sound of the thunder which was most impressive. It was like thinking thunder, like being filled with it—it was gigantic and pervasive and consumed you from ears to bones. As far as I know, the storm lasted those half dozen strikes and then passed into a minute or two of light rain, and then was gone.

Yesterday I woke suddenly—and completely terrified—after dreaming of a riverbed. I was more or less in a video game, and when I found my way blocked I began exploring the edges of the "level" for an alternate route ... and just out of curiosity. I ran into all the forced limits to exploration, the artificial ends of the world in video games: impassable jungle, uncrossable water, hills too steep to climb. The vegetation was jungle green, the ground was iron red, it was a subtly alien environment, almost prehistoric, overgrown, overlarge. I came to an edge with a waterfall, but the waterfall was glitched, or improperly rendered: rather than a stream of falling water, it was solid and still—a chunk of standing water just out of my reach. A fish swam from the vertical water and into the open air, went past me, and disappeared into the stream near my feet. Right before moving it had made eye contact with me. It was threatening. I felt threatened by the whole game, at that point. A redgreen vine reached out from the jungle wall and began to twine around me, around my neck. And then back in the real world, some thing—which was probably my ponytail, moving as I turned over—brushed the back of my neck and I did the classic, cliché sudden wake up with everything but a scream: pulse racing, wide-eyed, shaking, the works. That too was pretty remarkable.

There's some light rain, now. My wrist is bothering me and LiveJournal is down anyway; I should try to go back to bed. But ah, these nights. I have a long and tortured history with dreams, and in the past would have hated this sort of thing. But these have been fascinating.
juushika: Drawing of a sleeping orange cat. (I should have been born a cat)
Kitty under my chair.

August has discovered the magic of microfleece blankets. I'm not horribly surprised—Madison goes crazy for them, she'll kneed and suckle on them like some replacement mother; August just kneeds and ... puts her nose one the fabric. It's like she's not sure why her nose and mouth need to touch it, she doesn't drool or suckle at all, but they have to be there or the experience isn't quite complete. Honestly it's like she's not sure why any of it has to happen at all—she gets this look of WHY AM I KNEEDING PLEASE SEND HELP that morphs into NEVERMIND TOO COMFORTABLE PLEASE GO AWAY. Kitten loves her blanket.

Not that it's her blanket. Boy is using it over his long weekend here, and then it'll return to the living room because my dirty little secret is that the freakishly soft feel of that fabric makes my skin crawl. Said blanket has been necessary for the weekend, however, because we hit the sweet spot in this week of remarkable, overcast, cool summer weather: Rain. Buckets of rain. It's pouring now and has been pouring all day, hours of it, I fell asleep to the sound of heavy rain and woke to find it even heavier. All of this unseasonal coolness has been welcome—seriously, Dee and I won't stop talking about the weather—but this rain, it feels too good. It's perfect. It makes me long for autumn as if it weren't already here—because I know well enough that it's not: this weather can't last forever, and now that it's had its grand finale it'll probably pass. I've come to embrace summer in the last few years, as I've learned the art of sleeping in sunlight (and since Boy has an air conditioner in his room), but this is my weather and my home: the sound of rain, the gray sky and silverblue light, the cool humidity, the cold breezes, long sleeves and blankets and a sudden craving for warm food covered in cheese. It hurts me a little to know that after this will be many more weeks of heat—not that the heat has been bad this summer, and we've found all the little tricks for coping with it, but ah, this weather. I want it to last forever.

Devon's visit has been fantastic. He got here Thursday night, and leaves this evening—we've been doing four or five days together every two weeks, which seems to work out wonderfully: the longer visits are more relaxed and fulfilling, and the weeks off give us more time to engage in our own local lives. This weekend's weather has me in the mood for books, sleep, and staying in, so we're thoroughly wasting our time away with a marathon of the original American McGee's Alice, and it's perfect. We're sleeping when we want to sleep, sometimes at night but also to the sound of the rain during the day; we have the windows half open and most people would think it's way too cold in here but that just makes the snuggling even better.

You may have noticed at some point that sleep and I are not particularly good friends—but August has me napping at all hours, these days. We curl up for a cuddle and sometimes when she drifts off, so do I. That, like this casual non-schedule that Devon and I have had this weekend, feels surprisingly natural. It embraces my preference for sleeping in sunlight and the fact that I wake up so often that pretending to get a solid chunk of sleep is foolishness, and it dismisses so many of the anxieties that make sleep difficult—like the simple expectation that I'll sleep now, for this long, and then be awake and engaged with the world. As a result of course I'm less engaged, but...

Basically, August is teaching me to be a cat. Some of it already there, in little realizations that tickle me—like when we watch out the window together and we both perk at the same sound or movement. But my sleep issues are one of the hallmarks of the disconnect between my self-as-human and self-as-cat, and so this.... Well, back in that post I wrote, "A cat that can't catnap hardly feels a cat at all." And now, sometimes, we catch a bit of sleep in the sunlight for no reason at all other than the fact that the bed feels nice. There's that argument in the therianthropy community about nature and nurture—if this identification is innate, or if it changes and grows; if it's inherent nature, of if it's tainted by affectation. It makes me feel like something of a charlatan that so much of my personal experiences are about the disconnect between my human and cat identities, and therefore about (re)learning mentalities and behaviors—not because they're not mine, but because I get in my own way where they're concerned. And for all that anxiety I still don't give a flying fuck how it might be perceived, because these little lessons, these little naps, make me so happy.

So it's been a pretty nice long weekend, I guess is what I'm saying.
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: Drawing of a sleeping orange cat. (Default)

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