list five: the stuff of undocumented days

1. Winnipeg has a lot going on, you guys. I didn't even do a tenth of the things that made me think hey, that sounds like fun, we should do that.   We saw lots of live music, twice at the Winnipeg Art Gallery (once to see JP Hoe and once to see the chorus of the Manitoba Opera); I saw the Winnipeg Symphony alfresco while coated in mosquito repellent. There were more, too, people I can't remember.

This pic... it was insane. At the Symphony show, a huge flood of people went down to the front of the stage and can-canned (?) together. It was glorious and unbridled and I loved it.

This pic... it was insane. At the Symphony show, a huge flood of people went down to the front of the stage and can-canned (?) together. It was glorious and unbridled and I loved it.

We went back to the WAG for their centennial exhibition and I saw my first in-person blue-period Picasso. This is a huge deal for me. We also prowled the art district and talked books with an encaustic painter and gossiped with a coterie of senior-citizen sculptors. People really talk  here. It's like how it felt to go from Pennsylvania to Georgia, from people who are generally reserved and have a nice sturdy shell to people who want to figuratively and literally clasp you and squeeze you a bit to see what you're made of.

2. I have been here six months now and only once can I say that we had an uninspired restaurant meal. The rest have been smashing. This is partly a product of knowing where to go, but suffice it to say that researching this topic is not a waste of time.

3. During July, my neighborhood butcher shut down for holidays and I went almost five weeks without the smell of smoke wafting through my windows. In case you can't tell, this was a sad thing.

4. My windows! They're open all the time. I approve; this lack of humidity is a wonderful way to run a summer. My compliments to the people in charge.

5. My windows! Part II! The next house project is a doozy--the slow stripping of years of shinysloppysqueaky paint from the trim around the windows (and doorways) (and the stairwell, my god, I'm crazy) and staining the wood to bring a little dignity back to the place.  

6. I am doing actual socializing things. They may be slightly contrived socializing things, but I don't even care. I'm new in town and without slightly contrived socializing things, I am stuck with Myron and my in-laws for human contact. And they're nice! But not enough, so off I go. I am not too good for slightly contrived socializing things.  

7. I have now listened to all of Welcome to Night Vale and I can no longer say that I can't bear to listen to podcasts but that still doesn't mean I'm going to listen to yours so let's just get that straight now.  And yes, I know, where have I been. I blame the rest of you for not telling me about it before last month.

8. I wrote. A lot. I don't think I'm going to be done when I wanted to be, but I made huge strides. I think I have said this same sentence about a dozen times and you are probably sick of hearing it by now. I'm sorry. But it's so true.


9. This is a thing that happened: On one of the hottest days of the year, this man got fries from the stand a few blocks away and fed them one by one to this giant, happy white dog, who snapped them out of the air and barked and climbed on him and licked his face. They stayed in the shade for about fifteen minutes telling each other what perfect beings they were, and then they were gone. It's a fuzzy pic--I took it from my window--but I couldn't let them get away without trying. I don't think there's a better way to spend fifteen minutes in the entire world. Maybe just as good. Or maybe close.

10. Lo these many months ago I tried migrating Kimperative to Squarespace 6 because the platform had finally stabilized and it was a good time to do it. Unfortunately, things went haywire during my many migration attempts and it took Squarespace engineering a long time to get it straightened out. They are heroes, though, and eventually things got done. It's mostly finished (there are still screwy bits here and there) but I didn't want to wait any longer to write, so the site is live today. (Tonight, that is.) Though the comment form looks complicated, I swear it's not--just select "guest" and don't worry about providing any credentials you don't want to provide. I have made a quick-and-dirty graphic to remind you of this for a few weeks. (Ha! This implies I'm going to write again in the next few weeks.) And the comments are threaded so that I won't feel so ridiculous writing replies to them. MODERN INTERNETS, they are mine. I hope you like it. Kick the tires; if anything's broken, just let me know. PSST: You'll probably need to change your RSS feed; sorry about that! Here's the new link.

what I did on my summer vacation

I am a summer girl. I love the way that everything slows down, the way the heat is an excuse for any self-indulgent behavior you can imagine. I look forward to it all winter long when the snow piles up and when I can’t sleep for shivering. This summer hit me like a baseball bat to the back of the neck, though. It was ushered in on the arm of shock and grief, and I’m pretty sure it tried to kill me. The only thing you can do sometimes when your inescapable friend tries to kill you is wait it out. So I did.

Look at this book. WHY do I still have this book? Because look at that faux-Nagel-style artwork. It has to go. But god, part of me still wants to keep it. John Waters would not throw this shit away, you know it. He would always keep reference to the truth about herpes.While I waited, I looked at thousands of pieces of paper I had carried with me through move after move. I’ve lived in a lot of places; I should have let these things go before now. I threw out all sorts of things that I had no business keeping for so long. The people in the neighborhood may very well have thought that I chopped Myron up into pieces and put him at the curb in one of those many black plastic trash bags. To keep myself focused, I read a lot of decluttering and minimalist blogs—not that I could ever be a true minimalist, but I do want to feel more strongly about the things I do have, and one way to do that is to have fewer things. I realized a lot of my possessions were curiosities, oddments that I wanted to rescue from used book stores or to remind me of some random Thursday night in college when we walked along the levee and sang Doors songs. Things that students gave to me, or my mother, or a waitress or a lover. And I felt strongly about so many of them that picking and choosing felt inappropriate to impossible—there was no way to rank things more important or less, sometimes. But moving—especially the kind of moving where you’re charged by the pound—will make you rapidly unsentimental about belongings. Almost a third of my books are not coming with me, and more mementos than I could tell you. I took a lot of photos before I let things go. Are they digital clutter? Maybe. But I’m more able to sweep a bunch of photos into my recycle bin than I am the article itself, so every bit that went into the trash was a success story.

It may surprise you to know that I left the house when I could no longer bear to look at papers. I did! I even left for some very good reasons. Back in June, I was selected to read at Blog Out Loud, and almost immediately after my selection I berated myself for having the balls to apply because then I had to go and actually read the post out loud, in public, with other people who were intimidatingly talented and funny. Lynn, the organizer, wrote a lovely intro to my blog and when the day came, I went down to the city, got my eyebrows done, and finally got to give a big hug to Patti, Allison, and Karen. I read to the group about my mother and the kitchen at home, and I managed not to cry, and I was glad that more people got to know her, even that little bit. One of the saddest things about leaving Ottawa is that I won’t be able to do this again, but I was so grateful to do it this year.

And then there was Social Capital, which packed my brain full of so much information and strategy. You may not know this, but I only reluctantly started a Twitter account in order to volunteer for Reverb10, even though plenty of people told me I would enjoy it. And boy howdy, look at me now. I went to the conference hoping to gain new perspectives for a potential next round of The Scintilla Project and wound up with so much more than I bargained for. Most of the discussion there had to do with social media as used by organizations and companies, but in two sessions I gained deep insight into the mechanics of sharing what I share on a personal blog, one that I have no intention of monetizing in any way outside of the occasional free book that I may or may not review. Sometimes amid the swirling miasma of what passes for Meta-Blog Discussion and Advice, the personal blog is the bastard stepchild, especially when the sidebar isn’t given over to advertising. After the conference, I was proud of what I’ve accomplished here, both as a partner in a shared blog and now on my own, and I have a renewed energy for what I hope to accomplish here once I’m settled into the new house. (Also, we gossiped about you. Yes, you.) I’m super grateful to the organizing committee for putting on such a rewarding event, one that I would love to come back for next year.

In the heat of it all, I jumped on a bus and went to Montreal to meet Shakti when she came up for a visit. For all the time I’ve lived here, Myron kept saying we would make it to Montreal for a long weekend, and it never happened. This has always been maddening, because Montreal is so temptingly close. I got to do two wonderful things at once—immerse myself in a glorious old city and spend a few hours with my vibrant, whip-smart, and beautiful friend. I should have taken her photo—don’t ask me where my brain was at the time—but I’m glad I got the chance to be with Shakti amid the wild street theatre, the gorgeous architecture, the thousand perfect typefaces, the people, and all the beauty. I can’t wait until I get back there, especially if luck and timing align so that I can walk those cobbled streets with the nip of autumn in the air.

In between all of this were smaller summer moments. Tending a lawn that crisped up beyond recognition during a record-breaking drought, coordinating the various upgrades to the house, lunches out with Patti, Allison, and Karen, days in the city, sunshine blasting a sandal tan into the tops of my feet, a long weekend visit with Myron. I took a fair amount of August Break pictures, which may have bored some of you to distraction, but I say again, “break”. There was bad stuff, too: the incident with the pinched nerve that is only just now allowing me to function and pack again, the friend-of-a-friend handyman whose “repairs” to our front steps caused us even more expense and work, the relentless humidity that had me wondering how I could have ever thought I wanted to move back to Georgia. But it’s September now, and summer’s on its way out, and my to-do list has gotten shockingly shorter. Things are coming to an end here. And I will say that again and again over the next two months, but I’m still wrapping my head around it. I have lived in this townhouse longer than anyplace I’ve lived since the house where I grew up. Inertia doesn’t want to let me shuck off the moss just yet.

#augustbreak: miss edith speaks out of turn

Miss Edith is sentient, I swear it. And ballsy, and a broad. Earlier this summer, though I had given up all hope of her ever growing again after a dismal showing last year, she went about the business of sending a few canes up into the world. And I noted them, and praised them, and did all the things you’re supposed to do. When the drought hit, the canes crisped up like overcooked bacon and I cut them away. Not exactly the thing you want a prospective buyer to see, even after a brutally hot year.

Then a little rain came. Not much. Not nearly enough, you would have thought. But god damn it, here she goes again. She doesn’t care that there’s not enough time left this summer for her to flower; she just wasn’t going to take that drought—or my presumptuous pruning—lying down. If I had half her gumption there’s no telling what I could do.

(Earlier: Miss Edith after an ice storm; Miss Edith’s only flower ever. Also, I name everything, not just shrubbery, and now you know this about me.)

a double #augustbreak: miracles and dirt

Sunday it rained. It was practically a miracle, after the stifling heat of the summer. And it was one of those bright (if brief) rains, and for just a few minutes everything was better.

Then I got some news about a death in the family back home, and I couldn’t post this picture because nothing was really better after all and I did not care about Things and everything felt dumb and I said it’s a Break, August Break, and no1curr if I do not post a photo today. And we watched NASA do its thing in the middle of the night and I teared up, I did, about everything.

And then there was today and two sets of gardening gloves and a good full-body soreness (just wait until tomorrow…) and I was just glad to be alive and able to take in the world. To see photos from Mars and Myron at the other side of the table are both miracles in their own way.