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Someone tapped me on the shoulder and said, "Susan." I said "yes" and turned around and found myself face to face with The Person at Wiscon I Don't Want To Interact With. I thought I had girded my loins for this. I was going to continue to refuse to interact with them (yes, even when you lean out of your chair at a 45-degree angle and wave your whole arm and spread hand in front of me, I cannot see you, is it not amazing) unless they forced me to, and then I would say clearly and firmly, "I still don't want to interact with you," and not care if I got judged to be a bitch.

I think if I had seen them coming, I would have been able to pull up my big-girl loin girds and do that. But they came from behind, and suddenly there we were, less than a foot apart and in conversation already.

Ten years of refusing to interact down the drain, because now they can say, "How was I supposed to know you didn't want to interact? We had a perfectly fine conversation at Wiscon 39!"

Swearword.
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Storytelling party did not work. A few people came, and it was quiet and pleasant, but it was not a storytelling party. I took all the food down to the lobby, where everyone was.

Paris!

May. 9th, 2015 05:27 pm
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Nixie's senior thesis was accepted as a poster to a conference on cognition in Paris! *snoopy dance* Reed gave her a travel grant for $1500, which almost covers the plane ticket. She wants to travel with her friend Chris, whose thesis also got accepted, but he wants to come back on July 11, because he's taking the MCAT on the 17th, and she'd like to stay a few days longer and tourist. She doesn't speak any French. She has a summer job studying memory. But Paris!
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I am responsible for hosting a storytelling party! I am a little bit terrified! It's on the second floor, so I can't serve alcohol. The good side is that I don't have to find a co-host who is willing to take turns keeping an eye on the alcohol. The bad side is... how am I going to lure people in? Nice foods, I suppose. But how do you decide how much foods to have, when you don't have any idea how many people might come?
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Scorpio Horoscope for week of February 5, 2015
In 1837, Victoria became Queen of England following the death of her uncle, King William IV. She was 18 years old. Her first royal act was to move her bed out of the room she had long shared with her meddling, overbearing mother. I propose that you use this as one of your guiding metaphors in the immediate future. Even if your parents are saints, and even if you haven't lived with them for years, I suspect you would benefit by upgrading your independence from their influence. Are you still a bit inhibited by the nagging of their voices in your head? Does your desire to avoid hurting them thwart you from rising to a higher level of authority and authenticity? Be a good-natured rebel.
I am really irritable with my mom right now. She's coming to Portland for Nixie's graduation, and so are my brother and sister and their kids and partners. I haven't seen any of them for years. My mom pointed out that Chris's kids are in seventh and fourth grades, and asked how long ago I had seen them, and said, "Oh, Susan." (Say "You're such a disappointment." That's the intonation my mom used to say, "Oh, Susan.") Now, it is true that I am, as I always have been, the shy one, the one who is always too tired, the one who would rather not go. (It is also true that the last time I went to Seattle I did not visit my brother (but my mom doesn't know that.)) But since Chris got married, I have taken my children to Seattle to visit his family three times. He has come to Colorado to visit my family zero times. I think she is reproaching the wrong person here.

I snapped at her for reproaching me. She said it wasn't a reproach. I said, "I think you meant that I should have gone there more often." She said she didn't say "should".

Then she said, "Don't get upset." Which. What!? What purpose does that serve? What purpose does a person saying that think that it serves? Is it possible to believe that it will help the other person not get upset?

I don't know, because I don't say things like that, but I can't see it as anything other than a dominance gesture. It presupposes that I, the speaker, am calm and rational, while you, the spoken-to, are irrational and emotional and upset. It presupposes that I am entitled to tell you what to feel. And it shifts the ground, so that the problem is no longer whatever I did; the problem is that you got upset.

I would prefer not to get upset. I prefer to remain calm, self-contained, arm's-length, unrufflable; to stay inside my boundaries and keep out of my mom's; specifically, not to react to what I think she's thinking. That's none of my business. What she says to me might be my business, but I'm trying to figure out how not to let it get under my skin.

But I think my mom wants us to be closer. I think she wants us to be affectionately close, or, failing that, to fake it; but I think she would rather ruffle me than let me stay at arm's length.

I'm working on scripts for when we are in person:

No hugging.

Because I don't want to.

"Because I don't want to" doesn't need a reason. It is the reason.

Because every time you touch me I flash back to that moment when I was twenty and you grabbed me between my breasts and stuck your thumb under my bra band and snapped it in order to prove that I wasn't wearing a bra, so I want you to keep your creepy creepy hands off my body -- I mean, I really think you'd rather I didn't answer that question.
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Bookgroup discussion of We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves today. Reread reminded me of a spoilery question: it's about Peter's scar )
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you guys the little dog just came into the house with an apple blossom petal stuck to his nose. he could not get it off.
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Cell phone video can bring us closer to justice, even when an on-duty police officer murders an unarmed black man who is running away.

http://www.msnbc.com/rachel-maddow/watch/south-carolina-officer-charged-with-murder-424611395952

phenology

Mar. 31st, 2015 11:27 pm
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Four baby great horned owls have fallen out of their nests and made it to the raptor center so far this year. Three of them fell with their nest, which was in a hollow cottonwood branch. Two of those have been returned, in a basket, to where the nest used to be. The parents, who had kept bringing food to the empty downed branch, have been seen visiting the basket, so they are probably fine. The third has a broken leg, so will be staying with us for a while.

The fourth came in separately, covered with blood, but no visible wounds. There was blood in the cage the next day and the day after, but not today, and its mouth is not as pale as it was.

Avian flu has been discovered less than 150 miles from us, as the Canada goose flies, so every week we get new instructions on how not to transmit disease. New vocab word: fomite, an inanimate object (as a dish, toy, book, doorknob, or clothing) that may be contaminated with infectious organisms and serve in their transmission [the much maligned toilet seat is a remarkably ineffective fomite—M. F. Rein]

dog fud

Mar. 28th, 2015 11:14 pm
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I have a big dog, who has been eating Wellness Core, and a little dog, who has been eating Newmans Own, which, I learn from that review site, is not actually a very good dog food. I get both dog foods delivered by Amazon Subscribe&Save. Last month Amazon couldn't get any Newmans Own, so I have been mixing some Wellness Core into the little dog's food to stretch it out. This month, Amazon does have Newmans again, but at $35.11 for the 12.5-lb bag that they charged me $20.32 for, last shipment.

I've been feeding them different foods because I assumed that the little dog, who is really very little, needed a smaller kibble size. But he is eating the big dog's kibble just fine. Is there any reason not to feed them both the same (better quality) food?

phenology

Mar. 20th, 2015 01:13 pm
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I just saw an ice-cream truck go by. "Little girl running and the little boy too/Got their money tucked up in their hand..." Well, no, they don't, it is 1:13 p.m. on Friday, in March, they are all still in school.

I got some old brick from my friend who is moving away, when she was cleaning up her place to sell it. I started making a path to the alley, so I can take the trash out even when it's muddy. I put some down in herringbone pattern and some in running bond, to get an idea of what it would look like. Today I started moving it closer to where I want it, and discovered that the earthworms were already at work, making their paths, digging tunnels and gluing the soil to the undersides of the bricks.

Planted potatoes yesterday and peas today. How does your garden grow?
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In specific, the kindle paperwhite vs the nook glowlight. This pretty much says kindle wins: http://www.trustedreviews.com/opinions/kindle-paperwhite-vs-nook-glowlight Would you agree? Which of the two would you rather receive as a gift?

a bit much

Feb. 23rd, 2015 04:20 pm
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My hard drive died. So far it has been an opportunity to resolve to be better at backups, and to dust all the areas in and around the desk that are normally inaccessible (to me, not to mice), and to regret having given up Benadryl, and to discover that a big chunk of insulation has been chewed off the cable that connects the monitor to the computer, and to be grateful that I didn't discover that when the power was turned on. And to resolve to set mousetraps, if I can find places where the mice can get at them but Newt can't. And to notice all the other things that need cleaning that normally don't get cleaned because normally I have better things to do because normally I have a computer. And to think about trying to recall or retrieve all the passwords that I normally let my browser remember for me. And to mourn over everything else that I depend on my browser to remember for me, like, which of all the episodes of Would I Lie To You? that are available on youtube have I already watched?

Does watching another episode of Would I Lie To You? actually make me happier than sorting out all the crap that has accumulated in that corner of the living room? I don't know, but I know which one I choose when I have the choice.


Today I got a call from the surgeon's office, to say, still not cancer, but the medial margin of the chunk she took out is positive for papilloma, so I should get that re-excised. She'll call me tomorrow morning if I have any questions.

My sleep cycle has been really off since the surgery. Much more likely to be awake at 2 a.m. than 2 p.m. Mornings go: wake up, let the dogs out, pee, make a cup of tea, go back to bed. Tomorrow I will try to stay awake long enough to drink the tea.

I would like to ask the surgeon, "If this were your mother, would you advise her to have it re-excised? Seriously? You're a surgeon, you must know that every time you put someone under you increase their risk of developing dementia. How do you calculate the risk-benefit tradeoff? When you factor in that it has already cost your mother a large amount of money and considerable suffering, and that the reason for surgery was that there's this thing that shows up on mammograms that isn't cancer but might be hiding some cancer, you would seriously tell your mother, that didn't work so do it again? Seriously?"

It is not likely that I will be able to say any of that past the first question mark but I would like to.
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Mungo tells me Montreal was 19 degrees colder than the North Pole today. Celsius degrees. This has not changed his plan to spend the weekend at a friend's family's cabin and learn to snowmobile.

I spent the afternoon moving rocks from the truck all over the yard. Medium-sized rocks: I carried them mostly three at a time, and made 33 trips. Upcoming surgery, my brain said, probably should get those rocks out of the way now, since you won't be able to carry things for a little while after. You know what else upcoming surgery means? No ibuprofen. My back is really angry with my brain right now.
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1. Gabapentin! My big dog is moving so much better I think I can start walking him again.

2. Not good in itself but... it's good that we now know? Common anticholinergic drugs like Benadryl linked to increased dementia risk. I've decided to stop taking Benadryl, but not whether to stop taking Zyrtec, and, more important, whether to advise my son, who has many more years of either allergy-suffering or potential-dementia-developing, to stop taking Zyrtec. I also haven't decided whether to stop giving Aiko Benadryl. Big dogs don't usually live long enough to develop dementia, but on the other hand the canine dosage is a lot higher than for humans: a 75-pound dog gets three 25-mg pills up to three times a day. He is miserably itchy when he doesn't get it.

3. My daughter called to chat for a few minutes, because she needed a break but was too busy to actually take a break. Listing all the work she had to do, she casually mentioned preparing a poster to take to a conference. Two conferences, actually: one in D.C. this month, and one in San Francisco next month. "That's kind of impressive, for an undergraduate, isn't it?" I asked. "Is it more common at Reed?" [Because Reed doesn't have grad schools.]
"I know a lot of people who do it," said my daughter, whose aversion to bragging is actually painful. But that is kind of impressive, isn't it?
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I just spent eight hours standing in line for Neil Gaiman's autograph.

+ Neal (my husband) did find my copy of The Day I Swapped My Dad For Two Goldfish.
+ Neil (the writer) told me first editions tend to go for a lot of money on Ebay. But mine is now personalized to Nixie, who isn't giving it up.
+ Neil Gaiman fans are so kind to each other!
+ Neil Gaiman is so lovely.
+ Neal and R brought me dinner in line.


In other news, I met my surgeon, who says I have a papilloma, which is not cancer but might turn into cancer, so I should let her take it out. Surgery scheduled for the 18th.
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My dog Aiko has arthritis in one elbow. He is seven. He has done alright for several years on Rimadyl, but he just started limping really badly, I think after chasing a raccoon out of the yard. His vet prescribed gabapentin, which has helped a lot. But while I was searching the web I found:
FREE CLINICAL TRIAL! Canine Osteoarthritis (Fort Collins)
[A local reputable] Animal Hospital is conducting a clinical drug trial on dogs with osteoarthritis. Dogs must be 1 year or older and have osteoarthritis of at least one joint. All breeds, sexes, and sizes accepted. Qualified candidates will receive exams, lab work, medication, and x-rays at NO CHARGE and will receive a hospital credit of $300 for completion of this 112 day study to use toward any additional service. For more information and to see if your pet qualifies, please call us at


Could this be a good thing for Aiko? I care a little about advancing medical science for all dogs, but not nearly as much as I care about Aiko.
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• What are you reading?

Cambridge, by Susanna Kaysen. I've had this checked out from the library for the maximum number of renewals. It kept getting bumped by more interesting-looking or urgent books. But now I remember why I took it from the New Books shelf all those weeks ago: I love the voice. It reminds me of the beginning of The Fountain Overflows: the narrator is an adult, of course, but she's doing a really good job of telling us what her seven-year-old self understood as flying, as falling in love with a statue, as playing detective in another family's house.

• What did you recently finish reading?

Stitches, by Anne Lamott. I loved Operating Instructions so much. I still think of it when I pull a tiniest bandaid out of the bandaid box. Stitches is about how to cope with the fact that life is suffering, and how to support someone else who is coping with that, which I need now as much as I needed Operating Instructions then, but the balance has tilted away from vivid details and memorable stories towards general conclusions.

• What do you think you’ll read next?

I really have to read The Golem and the Jinni now. Book group next week.

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