Yuletide brain dump

For most of the western civilization, this is a hectic time of year.  It is also a fraught time of year when you have recently lost someone close to you.  So allow me to hereby present a ramble of things on my mind these days;

My aunt just canceled our the Xmas get together on my dad's side of the family due to adverse weather conditions.  I believe the straw that broke the camel's back was when my uncle, her brother said he was fine with coming over in the snow/wind/sub-zero temps, but he hadn't gotten his shopping done, so he wouldn't be upset if we delayed.  We do a yankee-swap, so he only has to buy one gift.  He can go to fucking Walgreens and have his pick of $25 gift cards.  And my hand to God, if we delayed until next November, he still wouldn't be ready.  Because he doesn't operate in advance, he does it when he's under the gun.  Now that's all fine and good, but don't commingle your best-operating procedure with someone else's fear of the weather. They are not the same.

Roughly 12-18 months ago, I somehow ran afoul of my co-worker.  Her shit list is long, and everyone has been on it at one point or another.  However, I somehow managed to extricate myself from it, and worked doubly hard to avoid being on it again.  We'll, somehow, I am.  I had only a vague idea why I was on it the first time, and since I've been extra cautious and extra careful ever since, I have no earthly clue what perceived slight I managed this time.  Two parts of this particularly bother me: one was this morning int he break room when she managed to return my hello, but refused to answer my "how are you" for the second time this week, but then went on to ask in-depth questions of my co-worker, standing next to me, about her new job promotion.  A promotion she hadn't even known about until I mentioned it 5 seconds previously.  The other is that a few months ago, I came to her in a rush worried something I said was misconstrued and that I may have offended her. she says, oh don't' worry, if I'm offended, I'll tell you.  Well, unless ignoring and non-response is "telling", that's a big fucking lie.  I don't know whether I should make the effort, or just let this one go.  I know this time I didn't do anything wrong, and I"m tired of being terrified of her.  I'm sorry she's so unhappy.

My cousin still hasn't sent me his Xmas list.  I just want to know what gc at Walgreens I should buy.  Maybe I should just give him a gc to Walgreens so he can trade it in for another gc.

I wish I had my mom to talk to about all these things.  The holidays aren't the same without her.

I keep buying gifts, and then forgetting what gifts I still have left to buy, thus buying more gifts.  Not good for my checkbook.


Who is this strange man?

It’s my paternal grandfather’s birthday today.  I just got an email from my dad; he went out to Ft. Snelling by himself today to see the grave.

Who is this grave-visiting, church-attending, mild-mannered man who looks like my father?

party notes

I made:

three-packages of wings (had roughly 1-1.5 packages left at end of night) (DON"T BUY WINGS NOT ALREADY PREPPED / NEED CUTTING!  TOO MUCH WORK FOR DAY OF!)

-2/3 size coeur de creme (had at least half left.  I bought Major Grey's chutney by Stonewall, but I like TJ's better

-Mushroop app - I think I ate most of it, but roughly half was left

- Veggies and dip -  I had three kinds of veggies, and almost all of it was left behind.  Definitely cut back significantly

- Chef John's baked brie with cranberries and pecans (because I didn't have walnuts).  I thought it was tasty, and would do again.  Not sure anyone else cared/noticed

-Clementines; lots left, but no worries

-Ginger creams, by Christine's request, although I don't think anyone else ate them.

-Punch (2L Gingerale, half gallon of cider, and half a bottle of rose's lime, plus a cranberry ice ring)

-Feta stuffed olives (

Other peopel brought:

a pesto, pepper jelly, almond cheeseball (emily)
Cool Ranch Doritoes and Cookie Cart Cookies (christine)
Cookies (Natanya)
Brownie bites (shelley and joe)
Lindt truffles (amanda and rich)
Chips and salsa (S&L)

Some spreaders would be nice.


A hangover of sorts

I had my annual holiday party on Saturday. I was up late on Friday, up early on Saturday getting ready. I went all day with hardly a break, and almost fell asleep on the couch after everyone left Saturday night. I slept in late Sunday morning, went to yoga, saw a movie, then came home and took a nap. I couldn't shake the tireds all day, and pushed myself to stay up until 11p.

And yet, I lay in bed for three fucking hours and could not fall asleep.

Now I've called into work, and am struggling with the blues. Everyone is annoying, and nobody cares. What the fuck is happening to me?



Yesterday, I gave money to the Human Rights Campaign, Planned Parenthood, and World Bicycle Relief.  I also have plans to give money to the ACLU and Minnesota Legal Aid, as well as find a way to swing a subscription to the New York Times.

Aside from the normal reasons why someone would give, especially to these types of causes in this particular climate, I made these donations for two additional reasons.

One was to challenge my mindset about lack of money.  I often feel like I don't have enough money to do all the things I want to do.  Giving away money, even as little as $10, can be painful for me.  I am so afraid I won't have enough, even though I often don't even miss it.  So by donating this money, I hope to send a message of affluence and plenty both to my self and to my HP.

Additionally, few who know me would be surprised to know that I am rocked by this election cycle, and not in a good way.  The best way I know to combat this is to donate to causes that share my values in the hopes that those funds can help defend the progress we have fought to defend.


Post election - New normals

I knew that this would be a year full of firsts, but I didn't know they would extend beyond my family.

It seems like every other day, I get emails from my college's president relating to safety and freedom of speech, and balancing the two.  I have actively attended this school for two semesters before this elections.  These were not normal.

People have posted on facebook about how to prepare for marching/protesting.  Wear masks so that you can't be doxxed.  Have bail money secured.  Have a meet up plan if/when you get separated.  I've been on Facebook for ten years.  These posts, at least in my circle, are not normal.

There were fortified barriers at the properties of both presidential nominees following the election.  There have been countless marches and protests across the country protesting the elected.  This is not normal.  I don't ever recall there being protests just following the election.  Have there ever been? This is not normal.

People woke up frightened for their bodily safety, myself included.  Frightened because of specific statements the Elected made against large swaths of our population.  This is not normal.

It's been almost a month, and there is currently a recount taking place, instigated by a fringe, Green-party candidate.  This is not normal.

This is not normal.


Today, I feel particularly down. Particularly tired. Particularly lost.

I ordered another "information course".  I don't seem to do well with these, but I don't know how else to learn the skills I want to change things.  Part of me feels like even if it's the wrong step, at least it's a step, and that's worth something.  I guess we'll see.

I can't tell how much of what I feel is there because I actually feel it, or because I anticipated it.  If so, it's going to be a long, hard, rough 4 months through winter.


Today, I feel deeply unhappy.  I feel desultory, irritated, scrubbed raw, and crabby.

I am in the midst of planning my mother's memorial, roughly five months after her passing.  My father doesn't want much to do with it, but keeps dismissing ideas and suggestions.

I am increasingly unhappy in my current position.  I am bored, but underperforming, a bad combination.  I recently applied for a new position; here's hoping something changes quick.

I'm feeling broke as hell.

On the other hand, my hubby gave me the greatest compliment yesterday.  He had to submit a resume and a cover letter for a volunteer position at the Sundance festival next year.  It was odd, because I felt so confident in what to include, despite the fact I have no experience in that arena.  But he told me that I helped him elevate his cover letter from a B to an A, and that he couldn't have done it without me.  I was touched!

Although I do feel that I am a better than average editor (despite not having any professional experience), I feel like this is where my empathy helps me out.  I am able to see what someone wants and help communicate that to someone else.  My husband runs a multi-million dollar store in a national chain.  He is a born leader with tremendous vision.  But when I asked him what he thought they would be looking for, he was blank.  And yet, it seemed to clear to me that they would want someone who is as passionate about film as those in attendance, and yet be reliable and help the event run smoothly.  Once I helped bring those qualities out in his letter, it shone.

I guess it's not all bad after all.


Name Observations

It hasn't happened in a long time.  In fact, I don't recall it happening since I left my temp gig:  I got called "Lisa" on the phone.

Reminded of this frequent experience, I went asking Google for help.  I did happen to find this exchange here:

I find this fascinating for a couple of reasons: 1) Other people have had the same experience as me, specifically on the phone (i.e. Rachel=>Lisa), 2) This happens to other seeming dissimilar names, 3) it works in reverse (i.e. Lisa=>Rachel, or Rachel=Lisa=Rachel, etc), and 4) someone goes on to say that Rachel is mistaken for Rebecca.  This is same story is lore in my family.

I was named after my grandmother.  However, as a young child, this confused me because everyone called her Jean.  Well, the story goes that when my grandmother was a child, her neighbor often mistook her name and called her Rebecca.  This so infuriated her mother (my grandmother), that she decided to use my grandmother's middle name, Jean.  And it stuck ever since.


C'est la tuile!

Mon oncle and I have been independently studying french.  He does amazing things like read novels in French.  I just spend a lot of time on DuoLingo, and try to keep my french straight from my german and Spanish (and potentially Hebrew and Vietnamese?)  However, I have a leg up on him because he only had a semester or two of French in college.  Whereas I started taking french in the 5th grade, and I continued all the way through my first year of college (where I maxed out the program at my little community college).  As a result, he occasionally sends me texts in French or asking about words.  Here's an exchange I found particularly fun:

Today, mon oncle texted me for help deciphering "C'etait la tuile!" in the context of someone being ambused and feeling demoralized.  (I think he's reading a Bond-esqe spy novel).  Based on this link, I thought maybe he meant "It sucked".  But he seemed to think it meant the roof was caving in on him.  Hmm, Qui sait?


observations pt 2

I have a new co-worker.  At first, he reminded me of a lumberjack: tall, broad-shouldered, brown hair.  Today is only his third day, and I’ve only talked to him twice, so I can’t say I have  bead on him.  But I’ve noticed he’s reading a Jodi Picoult book, which is an unusual accoutrement for a lumberjack.  Consider me intrigued.


Yesterday, I encountered a blind couple in a building downtown.  We were both headed for the elevator, so I let them know one was ready, held the door for them, and punched their floor number for them.  While we ascended, another (sighted) woman entered the elevator.  She seemed visibly upset by their white canes, by their Spanish conversation, even after they departed.  It mixed like oil and water with my own observation of them, and my pride in having been helpful to them, in looking out for one another. 


It hurt my heart. 


I wished her good day and meant it.


My mom's childhood friend sent me a picture of my mother today. Although I see what her friend liked about it, all I can think is, "my mother would have hated that picture."

In my class this semester, I've been learning a lot about how media influences our cultural experience. Much of it is done with a capitalist sense. It's good business for us to hate ourselves.  And it saddens me that I think she was taken in by as much of this as most of us.


The million or so "firsts" after someone passes

I turned my work calendar to October this week.  I often put seasonal notes on my calendars that I carry over from year to year.  Check wrapping supplies in November; check Gopher Volleyball schedule in August.


On October 28th, I have a note to remind myself to mail Tante Irene’s birthday present to her so it would reach her by 11/11.


There will be no more birthday presents going overseas to her.


November is going to be a tough month.

The mystery of the Friday night dinner

Why did we wait until my mom was gone to start Friday night dinners?


I hope it’s because Mama was always unhappy with the shape their house was in, and didn’t want people over.  She couldn’t fix it and Poppa “didn’t do it right.”


And our place was too difficult because we live on the third floor.  If our building had had railings on both sides, she may have been able to make it, but it doesn’t.


Eating out every Friday wasn’t a good solution either.


But still, this makes me sad in retrospect.  But I can’t say I didn’t spend as much time as I could with them, with her.  Because, let’s face it, I did.


Things I've been thinking about

I feel like 2016 has been a year of questioning perspectives.  I find myself wanting to catalog a lot of this, so I resurrected this blog.  However, now given a bit of time to do that, I am overwhelmed.  So here goes, more or less, stream-of-consciousness like:

This year, I have made a concerted effort to emphasize non-traditionally voices/authors in the books I've been reading.  I.e. authors who are not: straight, white, male. To be clear, this isn't a permanent ban.  SWM have value to the conversation (does anyone ever truly dispute this?)  I just wanted to tune into some different perspectives.  This has lead me to seeking out a lot of media that previously I felt was off-limits to me, because it wasn't about me.  Listening to podcasts with a black perspective.  Reading books talking about issues I don't usually think about.  Seeing things from a different perspective.

This reflective and contemplative time has also brought some experiences in my day-to-day in sharper relief.  For example, the (recently relocated) head of our department talked about his recent trip to Tanzania and the Serengeti.  He looks like you standard Mpls Swede: Tall, blond, blue-eyed.  He said many people asked if they could practice their English with him, and would ask him questions.  Curious, I asked him what kind of questions they asked.

To my surprise, he said one of the questions they asked if if there was a lot of racism in the US.  Shocked, I asked him how he responded.  I'm paraphrasing, mind you.  But as I recall, he said that he told them that there is racism everywhere, but it's never as bad as the media portrays it.  He also then went on to say that he felt they would be welcomed in MN just as he had been welcomed there!

I agree there is racism/any -ism everywhere (here's praying for the day that is no longer true).  And although I think media have a taste for blood, it's hard to deny that there are a lot of young black men dying in proximity to police.  I don't think that's media making up a story.  Where there's smoke, there's fire.

I also am ashamed to say that I am not convinced that, especially in this political climate, that we would welcome foreigners with requests to practice our Swahili, etc,  We have a growing population of east Africans in the twin cities; I think they would disagree that they felt welcomed like honored guests to this country.  Maybe some times, in some places.

Can he not see that as the wealthy foreigner on vacation, rather than a refugee, his experience is inherently different?  Did he know that and he was trying to assuage fears?  I want to give him the benefit of the doubt.  I mean, sure, what are you going to say in that situation.  You're on vacation, for heaven's sake!  And I'm sure he meant well.  But it stuck in my craw, none-the-less.

There's this myth that Minnesota is this haven from racism.  We're not big like Chicago.  We're north of the Mason-Dixon line.  And there's that whole "Minnesota-Nice" (MN passive agressive?)  But we have issues here, just like everyone else.  We're just to passive to talk about them; so we sweep them under the rug.

This was highlighted in particular for me when I was walking to my job downtown one morning.  A man and a woman outside a government office were talking.  They were both POC.  They didn't seem to know each other particularly well, but they were recounting all the places they had lived: Texas, Oklahoma, Oregon, etc.  and yet, they hadn't experienced hostility, racism, in any of those places like they had here.  My heart just about broke, and I hung my head in shame.

It broke because I love this state of mine; born and raised.  It broke because I see what they are talking about.  It broke because I too struggle with it: how do I negotiate the privilege of the color of my skin with the status of being a woman in this society.  If I extend a cup of cold water in Christ's name, am I honestly doing good, or am I putting myself in danger?

The other day, I observed a young man with a sign and a upturned hat sitting on the corner next to the light rail station downtown.  Due to past experiences that have made me feel unsafe, I have a personal policy not to hand out money on the street.  To avoid the racking guilt I am made to feel for protecting my personal safety, I often don't make eye contact: eye contact signals you're a target.  And a target can mean all kinds of things.  But I looked at this young man, squarely in the eyes.  I don't believe anyone says, "you know what I'd like to do today? sit on the cold ground with a sign and an upturned hat and wait for donations".  Whatever your reasons are for doing so, they must be very compelling.  But I looked at this man with a smile and a face that I hope conveyed empathy. "Take care" I said to him in a still, small voice.  He said, "thank you, God bless." It felt so important, so connected.

Is there a better privilege to have: race or gender?  Or is it like having half a car?

I think that's it for my brain dump for now.  Let's see what the next week holds.



And it starts with this: I have been flummoxed for years by a simple wrinkle.  I started this blog before I committed whole heartedly to gmail, and so I use a different email address to log in.  This prevents me from being logged into my email while working on my blog.  I tried gooling for an answer years ago, but got no where. But today, I found a work around.  Maybe my budding tech career isn't so far fetched afterall?

Unearthing the past

I'm not quite sure what reminded me of this blog, but I've decided to unearth it.  I re-read all my past posts; it's odd how things have changed in four years.  It's odd how some things have not.  But I have a desire to post here again, so here goes nothing.