Lydy's Anarchist Revival Meeting
8th February, 2018. 1:56 pm. Grace and Frankie
I'm watching Netflix' "Grace And Frankie." It is a sitcom in which two women in their seventies (Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin) end up living together because their husbands (Martin Sheen and Sam Waterson) leave their wives of forty years for each other. I like the actresses quite well, and had a lot of personal curiosity. My mother left my father after she found out he was gay. My parents being who they were, handled it about as badly as it was possible to handle it, bar physical violence. So I wondered what, you know, more normal people would do in a situation like that. The fact that I'm looking at a sitcom as a possible model for normal people probably says more about how odd my family was than anything else.
I'm well into season 3, and I like it quite a bit. It has the types of problems that television in general and sitcoms in particular have. They play the trippy dippy hippies (Sol and Frankie, played by Sam Waterson and Lily Tomlin) a little too much for laughs, and are a bit too condescending about alternative lifestyles. Some things are entirely too pat. But others...
There's an episode, shortly after the divorce, where the affianced fathers invite their kids over for dinner. The kids, trying to be supportive, show up, and bring a cake. And it's awkward, and difficult. And finally, one of them stands up and says, "Let's just face it, if you had been having an affair with women for 20 years, we wouldn't be bringing you cake!" They all walk out, and take the cake to their moms. And I love this, so much. There are real complexities, here, about betrayal and honesty, and tolerance, and how all of this is weirdly difficult. It absolutely makes sense that it took the fathers so long to come out, makes sense that they lived a double life for twenty years, and there's real compassion for that. But at the same time, this was shitty behavior that hurt a lot of people.
There's a scene with Grace and Robert where Grace is laying down the law about future interactions, and what kind of boundaries she expects. Robert agrees, and Grace says, "This feels great, telling the truth. If we'd done this years ago, would things be different?" And Robert looks a little sad, and says, "I think we would have ended up in the same place, but it might have been a better ride." That's a level of honesty and kindness that I rarely see in sitcoms, and I really do love it.
In another episode, Grace finds out that her husband had an entire drawer of gifts, pre-bought, just waiting to be deployed when she was unhappy. They are pre-wrapped, with labels like, "Because you had a bad day," and Grace goes ballistic. In the course of her rant, she says, "I thought you gave me gifts because you loved me!" and her ex looks at her, sadly, and says nothing. Because he really didn't, not for all those years. And I love the fact he doesn't try to reassure her, doesn't lie to her. The truth is so spiky and uncomfortable, but that's the only gift he can give her in that moment, and he does.
I love the fact that unwinding marriages of 40 years isn't easy, straightforward, or fast. I love the fact that they continue to talk to each other, help each other, that the processing of the damage done takes time, has layers. It's amazing, to watch adults deal with this shit as adults. I so seldom see this in fiction. It's fascinating to see the different ways in which this plays out, between Grace and Robert, who were never very much in love, and Sol and Frankie, who really were and still do love each other.
This is definitely one of those pieces of fiction where I keep on wondering, "Did you even think about polyamory?" Which, of course, they didn't. But it is one of the very few fictional depictions of infidelity and jealousy where I understand where people are coming from, and why. The infidelity has consequences, does real damage, but it's not so much about the sex. It's very much about the intimacy and honesty within the relationship. The ways in which people end up experiencing and expressing jealousy seem grounded in real life and real expectations, rather than being about the destruction of a Platonic form of romance. (Can there be a Platonic form of romance?)
Sex is portrayed as a real thing, a good thing, but not an ideal which exists on another plane. It is a thing people do with each other, sometimes unwisely, sometimes very wisely. It has consequences, but the consequences are, again, real world, sane, and understandable. Also, it's lovely to see two 70 year old women actively pursuing sex while still very much being their age. One doesn't very often get to see old women with active, age-appropriate sex lives.
I dunno if this would be anyone else's jam. But there's just so much _adulting_ here. Almost everyone is trying to be an adult, and behave in a kind and adult fashion. And they succeed and they fail, and they try, and seriously, who knew you could do an entire sitcom about being a fucking adult?
18th January, 2018. 3:44 pm. A Question About Hair
Does anybody else dye their hair at home for kicks and giggles? I've found this lovely blue dye by Arctic Fox. It's a "semi-permanent" dye, which means that it washes out over time. Since I'm startling with quite dark brown hair, the result is a story-book blue-black hair, just the other side of natural black, with the grey hairs individual strands of electric blue in sunlight. I look like an evil witch-queen. It pleases me mightily. I wish it didn't wash out so fast, but my air doesn't really keep dye in it, even when done professionally, and blue dye is notorious for not being very long-lasting.
The one really annoying thing is the thirty minutes of heating it with a blow dryer once it's been applied. So boring. And loud. And tiring. So I googled "electronic do rag", which eventually led me to "thermal beauty caps." There are a couple different styles on Amazon for about $30, and then there are some "gel caps" which you heat in the microwave, and then wear, which run about $15. And...I dunno. Anybody have any sense of whether or not it's worth the money, and if there would be any issues with using one of those, instead of the blow dryer?
12th January, 2018. 1:28 pm. Property as Community
I've been working at the Abbott Northwestern lab for...about two years, I think. Not sure. Close to that, at any rate. I don't like disposable stuff. Partly it's environmental concerns, but mostly, it's aesthetic. So, quite early on, I bought a plate and bowl at Goodwill, and went to Target and got a 12 piece cutlery set for just under ten dollars. I brought in two of my favorite coffee mugs, and a couple of plastic tumblers, as well There's a common kitchen, and a cupboard labeled "Sleep Lab" that the day staff are not supposed to go into. I store my mugs and so on in there.
I work nights, so I see the people who work on my floor for a few moments in the morning, if that. They often leave dirty dishes in the sink. If I have time, and I often do, I wash them. I make sure that there's a clean towel for the dishes to dry on. I fill the coffee maker with water if it needs it and I remember. I clean out the microwave pretty regularly. I bought dish soap and left it in the kitchen, and people used it. I like the feeling of being a part of the community, of doing things which promote the common good. I know that people use my dishes and my cutlery because they often end up in the sink at the end of the day. This is just fine with me. I wash them cheerfully. I think it's great that people use durable rather than disposable stuff. And I feel great about contributing to the common good. I have little imaginary conversations in my head where people thank me. They don't, of course. (Except once.) But we're Minnesotan, so that's pretty normal.
However, over the course of two years, I have lost 10 spoons, 4 knives, and 8 forks. I have, at this point, purchased that same 12 piece cutlery set 3 times. And, my friends, this is not a lot of money. It is entirely trivial, in fact. But I am really, really upset by these thefts. I have left at least three carefully worded notes in the cupboard, saying, "Please borrow my stuff. Please return my stuff. Not returning it turns it from borrowing into stealing. Please don't steal my stuff." I've been very friendly about it, but the cutlery keeps on disappearing.
In some ways, it's the pettiness of it that really offends me. The flatware cannot under any circumstances be considered an attractive nuisance. While nicer than plasticware, it's really only one step up. It's functional, but neither pretty nor rare. It's fucking cheap! If you really took a shine to it, you could buy it at Target for almost no monies. And unless people are just throwing them away (which strikes me as unlikely) it has to be easier to just dump them in the sink for me to wash than do whatever it is that people are doing with them. Taking them home? Hoarding them in their offices? Why would you do that? Why, why, why are you stealing from me?
Here's the thing. The thefts have broken my feeling of community. They have destroyed my happy thoughts of people being grateful. Right before I left for vacation, I took my remaining cutlery, and put it in the cupboard in my office, which is not accessible to the other people who work on my floor. And I no longer fill the coffee maker, wash down the microwave, or wash their dishes. When their dishes are in my way, I put them on the counter. I am angry, and I am done. And I feel bad when I don't wash out the microwave. I feel bad when I don't wash their dishes. And I feel worse when I do. I really hate this.
And it was never about property. I genuinely don't mind the money, and would happily buy more cutlery if I thought that people would use it with the same sense of community with which I made it available. But I feel weirdly violated by this. Not because money, not because property, but because trust.
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15th December, 2017. 12:57 pm. Pep Talk
What I literally said out loud to myself this morning: "Get out of bed and do a thing. And then the next thing. And if you do all the things, then they will be done and you can stop thinging. Yay, you! Go!"
And I have, indeed, done all the things, including calling my representatives in opposition to the evil tax bill. So, yay me. Good thinging, Lydy.
14th December, 2017. 10:42 am. Don't Worry, Be Happy
I was recently reminded of "Worry People." I think they were...kind of a thing in the 80s, maybe? I'm pretty sure the set I had came from Mexico. There was a little bag of brightly colored cloth, and inside were eight or ten stick figures in brightly colored clothes. There was a little piece of paper that came with them, attesting to this being an ancient tradition, or something. The instructions said that right before bed, one should assign each Worry Person a particular worry that you had, and then put it in the bag, then tie the bag shut. The Worry People would then worry for you while you slept.
I did try this. But as I tried to go to sleep, I worried -- you guessed it -- about the Worry People. Had I assigned the correct worries? Had I forgotten a worry to assign to one of the people? Were the Worry People worrying properly? Should I have assigned the worry about paying the rent to the chap in the blue trousers, rather than the girl in the red skirt? Would the Worry Person all dressed in yellow have been better at worrying about losing my job than the one in green? Did they like to worry? Were they ok? If I forgot to take them out of the bag in the morning, would they worry all day, as well? And if they did, and I also worried, was that more efficient, or was it somehow a bad thing? Was I abusing the Worry People if I forgot to tell them to take a break? Could they take breaks? Should I give them rotating days off? What if they rebelled, and started worrying about things they weren't assigned to worry about?
I stopped using the Worry People. And I have since lost them. Wherever they are, I hope they are ok, and not worried.
21st September, 2017. 3:12 pm. Letter to my Senators
I know you have fought, again and again, for the ACA. Thank you. Please continue to fight.
Allow me to tell you about my personal situation. I am fifty-five, female, and employed. When I was a child, I was diagnosed with asthma. These days, I’m mostly fine. I have a rescue inhaler, but rarely need it. But that diagnosis is a pre-existing condition. That means that, if the Graham-Cassidy bill goes through, I could be denied coverage. When I was in my thirties, I was diagnosed with major depressive disorder and bipolar disorder. I was treated, and am currently just fine; I no longer even need drugs to manage this condition. It is even possible that the diagnosis was not entirely correct. However, that diagnosis is in my medical chart, and therefore a pre-existing condition. Therefore, I could be denied coverage. When I was thirty-five, I was diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea. I have a CPAP machine which I use nightly. It won’t last forever. I need to replace the mask at least once every six months. This is a pre-existing condition, and I could be denied coverage. Any one of these conditions could kill me. Any one of these conditions could mean that I can be denied coverage. And not just denied coverage for this condition, but denied coverage at all. This has happened to me before. When I lost my job, no insurance company would offer me any coverage at all, because of the bi-polar diagnosis. I was fortunate enough to live in Minnesota, which offered Minnesota Care. Not every state has such programs.
The holy grail, according to the Republicans, for health coverage is “choice.” As if I, or most people, have ever had any real choice. I get my insurance through my employer, who negotiates with an insurance company, and those negotiations don’t include me or my interests. I may be offered a “choice” of tiers. When my employer and the company they have contracted with parts ways, no amount of pleading will allow me to keep my doctor. I will be subjected to transitioning care to whoever it is that my employer has contracted with this year. This has happened to me over and over and over again throughout my working life. The claim that the ACA has reduced choice is laughable. Most of us have had no choice, anyway. What it provided, what it guaranteed, was access. I might prefer to see the doctor I have been seeing, sure, but I _need_ to be able to see a doctor. I have preferences, yes, but access is much more important.
Health insurance isn’t like car insurance. I can choose to pay a minimum amount to cover my old beater, because quite honestly, if it’s in an accident, there’s not much point in fixing it. This is not true of my body. I can’t just write off my aging body as not worth fixing. I can’t decide to buy a new, better body. Still, we are required to buy car insurance, if not for ourselves, for the people we might hurt if we run into them. And in this sense, there is a similarity between health insurance and car insurance. Health insurance means that I can afford to get vaccinated, and treated for serious, contagious diseases such as tuberculosis. And that protects everyone I come in contact with, including those who are too young, or in too fragile health to get vaccinations. This is important, and necessary, for all of us. I really don’t want to die of bacterial pneumonia, and neither do you. I don’t want to watch a generation of children be crippled by polio, or die of scarlet fever. And yet, when you strip away the ability to get health care from the poor, this becomes a very real danger.
Please continue to fight. Please feel free to share any of the details of this letter with your colleagues or anyone else in this fight for my life.
Sigh. My senators are Franken and Klobuchar. Maybe they can wave their numbers in someone else's face.
I really don't want to die. Why do the Republicans want to kill me?
16th September, 2017. 2:27 pm. Let There Be
This actually is much prettier than the pictures show. Alas. It is in 100% silk, a pale, luminescent blue, and sparkly silver-lined crystal beads. I wish I could show it off better. The pattern was called "Illumine" and it is just lovely. If it calls to you, do let me know. As I said, it is actually even prettier in real life.
16th September, 2017. 2:25 pm. Remnant Neckerchief
This was to use up the last bit of the handspun that Beth gave me. It...didn't work out. It's not a useful size, it was rather a lot of trouble to make, it wouldn't block worth shit. But, here it is. Sigh.
16th September, 2017. 2:21 pm. Blue and Sparkly shawl
I really like this shawl. It is done in a sapphire blue merino and tencel yarn, with those silver-lined crystal beads. it came out well. But, as previously noted, I have a sufficiency of shawls, and it is available on the usual terms.
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16th September, 2017. 2:13 pm. Just for the record, Mohair is a lot of trouble
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To quote from my Ravelry page:
05-24-2017, In which I pick a fight with my own brain
It’s all Steven Be’s fault. Really. I went in to try several different types of interchangeable needles, so that I can tell my girlfriend what to buy me for my birthday. They were terribly, terribly nice, and let me try things with some waste yarn. So, after, I looked around for something to buy, and saw this lovely gold/smoke/purple ombre lace weight mohair silk blend. I’ve never worked with mohair. “How hard can it be?” thought I. So, seriously, I don’t know why I bother thinking. Not only does it not help, but encourages me to do stupid things.Mohair. It’s a lotta damn trouble. Ok, you experienced, skilled knitters, I’m sure it’s not trouble for _you_. Me? It’s trouble. Also, although moss stitch is about as easy as you can get, bar garter, I still had to frog three times to get properly started. I mean, seriously, brain, what is your point? You don’t keep me out of trouble, and then you create needless errors just so I can’t start a project clean. It’s all very well to look wise and say, “It’s my process,” but that’s for the rubes. In point of fact, it’s stupid and annoying and I wish you’d just cut it out.
On the other hand, it did turn out really pretty. It is also quite warm. Mohair and silk.
I think I'm keeping this, but if it really really speaks to you, I could probably be persuaded to part with it. I kind of have a sufficiency of shawls, just at the moment.