October, 2004

I just finished watching about 45 minutes worth of lunar eclipse outside. I quit when my tolerance for mosquito bites had been reached. I am a half-hearted observer of astronomical phenomena, at best. I’m interested, sure, but not dedicated. I can only recall watching one other lunar eclipse and, if my memory serves me, it will have been over a decade ago and half a hemisphere away. Strangely, although these are the types of things that people watch by the hundreds, possibly the thousands, both times I have been by myself. Technically, Sergei was with me this time, but he’s not big on conversation. I think I will put “watch lunar eclipse with human company” on my list of things to do in this lifetime. It will go before seeing the Pyramids at Giza<%image(20041027-pyramids-giza.jpg|210|171|The Pyramids at Giza, which I have not seen)%>, which I have doubts about getting to, but after seeing Gaudi’s “Sagrada Familia”<%image(20041027-barcelona.sagrada.familia.jpg|350|250|Antonio Gaudi's Sagrada Familia Church, also not seen by me)%> which I’m still determined to do at some point. There’s something strangely contemplative and lonely about observing an eclipse as I’ve done tonight and the last time I did it. I think I had a journal that last time, and was writing in it my impressions. I wonder where those papers might be now, if I still have them, if they say something worthwhile or inane. I would be tempted to hunt for them, if so many of my things weren’t packed now.

For some time now, I have felt as though I am locked away from the person I was before Simone died. There was a person who may have been me, and may have done some things and thought some things but they are so fuzzy and distant that I don’t recognize them as mine. Thinking about other cities I lived in and other people I knew at earlier jobs, in college, and in high school makes me wonder if I really lived all that or if I read it in a book or saw it on tv instead. It’s not so much because the events are faded and uncertain, though they are certainly that. I’ve been plagued with poor memory for my own history all my life, and its one of the reasons I write things down. No, the distance is less about time and more about alienation from the me that is to the me that was. It’s a distance that seems unbridgeable when the death of my daughter exists between the two parts. Tonight, however, I thought I heard my younger self nearby, watching the moon with me. Maybe I am still close to that other self, maybe the person I was is still inside the person I am now.

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So yeah, I am moving to St. Louis. I didn’t say much at first, because I have a work audience and I needed to wait until we’d both given notice to avoid any awkwardness or unpleasantness and then I didn’t say anything about St. Louis because, well, I wasn’t saying anything much about anything since I was swamped at work and home and couldn’t spare two seconds to blog. But, for those of you who’ve been waiting for the formal announcement, here ya go : Hey guys! I’m moving to St. Louis!.

I’m still mighty busy, but if I could spare an hour for Eternal Darkness earlier today, I suppose I can spare twenty minutes for an update to the blog. My husband has already started at his new job, the one that is causing us to move to St. Louis. I have stayed behind to finish a major project at work, pack, and keep Sophia in school as long as possible. We should all be living there, together, by mid-November, if everything works out.

Sophia is very excited about St. Louis. This pleases me, and reinforces my belief that maybe this is the right decision for us. Sophia is never ever excited about anything at first. She’s always resistant, so her wholehearted and uncharacteristic embrace of the move to St. Louis is very reassuring. (Isn’t she cute intrusion : Sophia now calls our friend Lewis “St. Louis”. In retrospect, I wonder if this is who she thought we were giving her pants to in this story). Today my beloved and much missed husband paid the application fee and first month of enrollment for Sophia’s new Montessori school in St. Louis. I hope to get a chance to write about the search for a Montessori school in St. Louis as it has been really exciting and complicated and we had so many good options that it was really a difficult choice. However, we’ve made our decision and so today I could start to tell Sophia a little about her new school, about her teacher and the classroom and the woods behind the classroom. I am so excited for her. We are going to miss St. James which has been such a perfect fit and such a healing place for her, but I think she will get a new perspective and some new opportunities at a school well-grounded in Montessori principles, and that’s really the most we can ask for. St. Louis has about 20 Montessori schools (I was able to drag up addresses for about 15, but at one of the schools we visited I was told there are closer to 20), of which we visited 4. Of course some of those twenty schools were loosely Montessori, and some much more like daycares than Montessori schools, so our process of elimination was made somewhat easier by that. Anyone can open up a school and say it’s a Montessori school, so one has to be careful. However, there were still plenty of genuinely Montessori schools to choose from. Unlike St. Louis, Jackson has only two choices. It was not until I started our search for a new school for Sophia that I realized that St. James is a top-notch Montessori school, comparable to the very best, despite being small and practically our only choice for Montessori education here. Incredible, and sad that we must leave it, but a new beginning is welcome to us on many other levels.

I went to my job for the last time last Friday. It was not sinking in that I was not coming back, despite stripping my desk bare and all the goodbyes and farewells I was given. It hasn’t sunk in completely yet, but I’m sure it will. I am suddenly and unexpectedly jobless. While I found my job engaging and rewarding, it was ultimately pretty focused and niche, and will be hard to replicated elsewhere. I have all sorts of avenues open to me right now, including pursuing writing. Seriously pursuing writing. That’s the forefront idea, because all the other ideas can wait until I’ve tried my hand at this one, and be the fallback positions should I not have the grit and determination to make myself write, or not be able to write anything someone might want to publish, or change my mind about wanting to do this for real or fail in some other way that I haven’t thought of yet, but I’m sure will come to me in the middle of the night at some later date to torment me. Because I’m toying with the idea of writing things for public and possibly even published consumption, I’m not going to try to do Nanowrimo this year. Primarily, I don’t want to be intimidated by the volume demands or the novel demands. I’m thinking of starting really small, with a couple of short stories or something. I have to actually be able to finish a thing, I think, and though I’ve had a blast in both prior Nanowrimos, I’ve not finished either thing that came out of it.

It’s strange to be in the business of thinking about writing for publication. A long time ago, I thought about this all the time, but I had stopped. At some point, I decided that was an unrealistic pursuit and an unsatisfying way to look at writing. Now, with my author goggles on, I read books and find myself saying “Oh, I can so do better than this,” or “Wow. That’s it. That’s the sort of thing I want to write.” or “People read this stuff? Why?” and so on and so forth. There’s a level of deconstruction that didn’t go on a few months ago.

I was half afraid to say anything about the writing thing. I’m not superstitious at all, but I didn’t want to set myself up for failure, or for queries about that whole half-cocked writing plan in two years when I’ve turned up nothing as of yet. Still, everyone’s been asking me what I’m going to do, and I have been somewhat evasive. To be fair, I’m still not sure what I’m going to be doing, but I do have ideas and a vague plan, so I figured it was only fair to lay it out. We’ll see how things evolve. Expect, for a start, to see more content here, as I flex my mind and my writing muscles.

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So I had this dream, which I’m not going to cut for today, because I just don’t feel like it, and because sometimes you start a tradition like that just so you can break it from time to time. If my dream stuff bores you, you can stop reading now, but the reason I’m not going to cut is because I’m going to be linktastic in this entry and it will be appropriately Halloweenesque and much fun will be had by all. So. Live with the not having to click read more for the dream stuff this once.

This past weekend I had a very uneasy not-quite-nightmare dream. I dreamed that I was having a fight with my husband, and that we were at this sort of farmer’s market/flea market/garage sale where everyone sold their sellable goods out of their front yards. So the whole neighborhood was like this market and you could get vegetables from people’s gardens or bricabrac (hmmmm, should that have been hyphenated? Leave me a comment and solve the conundrum, Elaine!). At any rate, I’m going along, looking through people’s junk, and then we get to my new house, and I can see OUR junk. Though now we are in our basement and looking at the things the people who had the house before us left behind. And there’s this object, a sort of one lensed viewmaster thing that has a tapered narrow top end and a wider squareish but with rounded corners bottom end. It’s possible the bottom is even curved slightly, so that it will rock if it is set down (also possible that’s an embellishment of my waking mind. These things are sometimes difficult to sort out, specially when I wait several days to post the dream.) The item would show brief movies, sometimes with sound, when you pushed a button in the top or the bottom (yes, the button moved around). The thing is, the item was haunted. It would flip on and play the shorts (all strange, full of strangers, but non-threatening – vaguely reminiscent of the art student style of the filmed bits in The Ring, if you’ve seen that) on its own. It was making me pretty anxious and I kept flipping it off and it kept coming back on by itself and finally I got so mad (and scared) that I picked it up and told it – well, tried to tell it – that if it didn’t cut that out I was going to kill it. However, my mouth was glued together and I could do no more than mutter my intent. Not that I had any doubt as to whether the thing heard me. I pondered then, if it was killable, or if I had just issued a threat I wasn’t going to be able to follow through on. I wondered if it knew that I might not be able to kill it.

I know exactly why I had this dream, and I’m going to tell you. It’s because that afternoon I had been looking up haunted places in St. Louis. I’m not much of a supernaturalist, and I’m generally on the fence about ghosts, possession, and hauntings. It’s not so much that I don’t believe weird stuff happens, as I have at least one completely unexplainable incident of my own witness, but it’s more like I’m just not sure the explanation for the weirdness is restless spirits, or aliens, or stuff that run the normal parapsychological gamut. However, as a horror enthusiast as well as an avid urban legend follower, there’s an automatic interest in ghost stories and tales of hauntings for me.

So it turns out there’s a haunted house with an intriguing history in the neighborhood where we’re buying a house. While I can’t say I want to live in a haunted house, I sure wouldn’t mind driving by one and looking at it. In addition to the Gehm House in Webster Groves, there’s also Edgewood Children’s Center. That doesn’t even start in on St. Louis itself, which apparently is the site of the real exorcism on which the famous movie is based. It’s also home to the Lemp Mansion. I read over these and several other stories the afternoon before I had the dream.

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Maybe this hyper brief blogging format will actually work better for me than long thought out posts that rust in my drafts folder and are never completed. At any rate, I had another of those silly, swoony Aragorn dreams last night. I don’t remember much except him wandering about looking like he was bearing the weight of the world and me chasing after him and making an idiot of myself mooning over him. Mmmmmmmmm Aragorn.

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19 Oct 2004, by

Hi. I’m sorry I haven’t written. I don’t have time to write now although much has been going on that is writing worthy. This is my last week of work, and I expect to squeeze in a little writing time to ponder everything that has happened in the last couple of months next week. I am looking forward to it. I miss blogging, but I’m just so crazy busy right now I can’t do any topic justice. Hugs, kisses, more later.

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MSNBC – To Torture or Not?

Update on the extraordinary rendition provision that would allow torture. [Link courtesy of Legomancer].

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5 Oct 2004, by

Don’t Panic

Ok, so maybe I misread the bill. It’s still a very bad no good piece of law that should never pass. But apparently it only applies to foreigners. So if you happen to think that the distinction on whether we shuttle people around to be tortured should depend on whether they’re American citizens or not, you might want to retract the letter to your congressperson that I asked you to send in the last entry. I am still opposed, heartily, but figured I should set my record straight. In case you feel burned by my earlier assertions, you can read the bill in pdf form for yourself here. The relevant sections are 3031 and 3032. You’ll not there’s noise about making passports required for Americans going to Canada and Mexico as well, a little before that. I thought that was interesting. Thanks, Shas for clearing that part up for me and linking me to the full text of the bill.

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I was chilled to the bone, last night, on reading Teresa Nielsen Hayden’s blog about a new bill in the house which has a section proposing to legalize “extraordinary rendition”. You can read Teresa’s thorough analysis of the meaning of this here. I feel the same sort of sick revulsion now, on reading about this, as I did when we decided as a nation to be the world’s bully and to rationalize pre-emptive strikes on other, weaker nations. The difference is that this bill, if passed, is a tool that can be used against the nation’s citizens. You or I could be imprisoned and deported to another country for torture. I cannot believe that anyone (except perhaps tyrants holding steadfast to power) can be made to feel safe through this strategy.

You will notice, if you read the comments on the blog entry, that the force trying to strike the extraordinary rendition clause from the proposed bill is miniscule. In a house of representatives with 435 members only 20 of them feel this is important enough to take a stand on. The 20 are Democrats, which I’m sure will lead people to assure me that this does in fact prove the difference between the Democrats and the Republicans, but I beg to disagree. There are 205 Democrats in the House, so 20 is a little under 10 percent. You can’t tell me that I can judge a major party to be more ethical and just because 10 percent of its sitting members in the House aren’t morally bankrupt.

Still, this is something you can act upon. Regardless of party affiliation, surely no one in this country wants their representatives to ok the torture of their friends, neighbors, and relatives on distant shores. If you don’t want your representative agreeing to torture in your name, write to them and tell them so. There are sample letters in the comments of TNH’s aforementioned blog entry.

Here is the text of the letter I sent to my representative this morning, cobbled from examples with a bit of my own language thrown in. Feel free to steal or copy any of it as you feel is appropriate.

Dear Honorable Charles W. Pickering –

I am writing you to encourage you to vote against Section 3032 and 3033 of H.R. 10, the “9/11 Recommendations Implementation Act of 2004”. These sections would attempt to legalize extraordinary rendition, the outsourcing of torture to other countries. I’m absolutely stunned that the House would consider making torture legal. The provision would require the Secretary of Homeland Security to issue new regulations to exclude from the protection of the U.N. Convention Against Torture and Other Forms of Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, any suspected terrorist.

Representative Edward Markey, from Massachusetts, is planning on offering an amendment to H.R. 10 that would replace those sections and take a strong stand against extraordinary rendition. I hope that you will vote to support Congressman Markey’s amendment to this bill, to remove the shocking and unAmerican provision making torture legal, or, if an amendment decisively rejecting torture is not included in the bill, to vote to defeat it. This is not, as I see it, a partisan issue. There is no place in any aspect of our democracy (or the defense of it) for torture.

I look forward to hearing back from you. Thank you for your time,

You can make your voice heard, and if you do not bother to, your elected representative will take your silence for assent.

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