constance: (*studies*)
One of the architecturally obsessive things I like to do, sometimes, is house-hunt for fictional characters. This is where Daisy and Tom might live. This is a place like I imagine the Glasses grew up. That sort of thing. I'm not sure when I got into this habit*, but it satisfies my craving for spatial orientation, and besides, it gives me an excuse (uh, albeit a flimsy one) to click around the internet looking at other people's houses.

And I was poking around last night, doing just such a thing, and don't ask me how, but I somehow ended up in Dallas, here, and man, this house. Man, these people. They are so outside my experience that I've been spending the last eighteen hours or so imagining what the hell they could possibly be like. Five bathrooms, one bedroom? In a 7K+-square-foot house? That looks sort of like an extra-double-plus-fancy treehouse? With taxidermied lions and ebony statues, and wildebeest heads tacked to the wall? And what looks like a football-field-sized closet? I mean, seriously, come on, who the fuck are these people?

The house itself, the specific item for sale, is hyperamazing, ultragorgeous, uberextravagant, and a whole lot of other superlatives besides. But it's the whole package, you know, the gestalt of it, that has me kind of dazzled and bewildered (and, I confess, mildly horrified). I like to imagine my fictional characters in concrete spaces, and have for a long time. And I've always adored the process of extrapolation when it comes to people and their houses. I love guessing things about them from the way they inhabit their spaces, and usually they're reasonably accurate guesses. But I just have no idea about these people, and the novelty of that, the sheer arabesque exuberance of the house and the things inside it, is what I'm thinking about today.

Wouldn't these people make a good story? A story that could go just about anywhere?


* ETA: No, I think I do know, after all -- it was when I'd gone back to college, taking a course in women's fiction for fun, and we were reading A Thousand Acres, and Ginny was talking about the house they'd grown up in, a mail-order house called by name, I think The Chelsea but it's been a long time now, and I (longtime fan of mail-order houses that I am, and as who is not?) had a startling moment of revelation: I know this house, this is an actual mail-order house that I know because I fucking know from Sears houses, and I'm pretty sure that that particular collision of discrete interests is what kicked it all off for me.
constance: (*builds*)
You know what I believe? That sooner or later, we have to take responsibility for our issues and our mistakes. Sure, my life was molded by the adults who raised me, but at some point I became an adult capable of making my own decisions and running my own life, and my every decision may have been informed by every moment of my childhood and adulthood that led up to it, BUT, and here's the thing, they have ultimately, every one of them, been decisions of my making. I am the architect of my own life, people, for better or for worse. I genuinely believe that.

Except that lately, I've been resenting my parents for one seemingly tiny thing, or one set of interrelated seemingly tiny things. It's been on my mind because lately there've been a rash of press coverage about girls and LEGO, and the asinine new all-pink LEGO sets that turn building into an activity as stereotypically girly as dressing up your dolls, or painting your toenails pink with nontoxic Tinkerbell nail polish.

Not that there's anything wrong with dolls, or nail polish. I painted the hell out of my toenails, and I played with my dolls until they were all grubby and nappy-haired (I had a particular fondness for cutting their hair into ragged bobs that persists to this day, although now I just practice on myself). But the point of all this recent press is that LEGO, and other companies, really don't need to segregate their product; girls like building toys, and they'll play with green and red and blue as readily as they will with pink.

I loved LEGO as a kid (unsurprising confession: I still do), and I didn't care the least bit that the pieces didn't come in pink. I played with my brother's sets all the time. Whenever I went over to my best friend's house, that was the first thing I suggested when we were thinking up things to play.

You note the problem with that last paragraph, right? That I had to play with my brother's sets, or my friends', because I never had any of my own. That in spite of having wanted to be an architect from the first house plan I drew at the age of six, and in spite of requesting, for years, for every gift-expectant occasion, LEGO, or Erector Sets, or even Lincoln Logs and Tinker Toys, I never got them. My brother got them instead, and I played with them because, luckily, he thought I was awesome for a long time, but those building toys, LEGO and erector sets and Tinker Toys and Lincoln Logs, those were for boys, and everyone knew it. A couple of times I tried to save my allowance to buy my own, and when my mother brought me to the toy store, I always ended up with something else instead. "Oh, you don't want those!" she'd say, and steer me to the Girl Things. Oh, the curse of the biddable child!

Anyway, I've been reading all these articles, and working myself up to a heaving (and deeply personal) indignation over them. I think that on the whole, my parents did a decent job and, not entirely coincidentally, raised a decent human being. I think that on the whole, they don't have a lot to apologize for, and I don't have a lot to regret in them. But I regret this. More than that, I resent it, and I'm not one to carry around residual resentments for years, so I'm thinking that this small surprise resentment just lay dormant and unaddressed for many years, but is nonetheless important to me. I do resent my parents for this, however ridiculously, and I find myself wishing I had a daughter right now so I could give her every LEGO and Tonka truck and baseball glove she ever wanted. I'd tell her every day that there are no Boy Things or Girl Things, there are just Things, and whatever makes her happiest, challenges her in the most exciting ways, those are the things she ought to have. Whatever tools she decided to build her life with, Tinkerbell nail polish or chemistry sets, those tools are the ones I'd give her.

I need to stop reading those articles. Apparently, they're just making me all restless and tense. (Who knew?) But also, also. I think I ought, as a gesture to the geeky little hardhat-wearing-wannabe kid that I was, I really, really ought to go out and buy myself an extravagant LEGO set. I'm a grownup now, after all. I control my own destiny. My baggage is mine to carry around; I might as well carry it my way.
constance: (*tunes in*)
[profile] leestone: How bad would it suck to be that dude who starts the war by accidentally shooting the first orc at Helm's Deep?

me: Dude, I would not have wanted to be within a hundred miles of Helms Deep.


[profile] leestone: Really? :-/ Whenever anyone threatens me I always hide in the cupboard under my sink.

me: See, I myself prefer to send my son out to his certain death whilst I feast comfortably.

[profile] leestone: And dress me in chainmail and make me sing a stupid song? :-/

me: Well, you did offer me your fealty. If I want tragic Hobbit serenades as I slaver obscenely over my dinner, then that's what I'll get, by gum.

[profile] leestone: Dude. Two words: CHERRY TOMATO.

[profile] leestone: Try a wet-nap already! Y'all NASTY!

me: IKR? Denethor, my dogs are tidier eaters than that.

me: If he hadn't set himself on fire, Miss Manners would've.
constance: (*watches*)
Yay for yuletide! My first year as a participant was an almost universally fantastic experience. I wrote two fics, my offered fic for Michael Chabon's Wonder Boys (The Younger Generation) for [personal profile] pluvial_poetry, and one treat for Kate Beaton's Brontë sisters in Hark! A Vagrant (Blood Will Have Blood) for [personal profile] bowdlerized. They were both stories that I was thrilled to mull over and write.

And coupled with the stories I received and adored (As There Is Light, There Is Radiance by tsukara, and Jane Austen Has a Posse by bowdlerized, which I talk a little more about here), I feel as though I couldn't possibly have asked any more of the exchange. *beams at everyone*

I do have one question, though, a glitch that I have the feeling is my fault for accidentally skipping a step I shouldn't have skipped. I received my request in good order, wrote it, had My Splendid Beta [profile] leestone read it, and finally posted it on the 21st -- and yet my poor recipient still had her original offer sent out for a pinch hit on the 23rd. Was there something I should have done to notify the mods of my submission? I'm not sorry my recipient got extra stories, in the least -- the more stories the better, right? -- I just feel bad that she might have been spared a pinch-hit freakout, when it wasn't really warranted. :/
constance: (*sleeps*)
Tonight I've been nodding over a book (or actually, nodding over my new Kindle Fire, which yay for no creasing of pages when you faceplant into it), which is a favorite hobby of mine, especially satisfying after a long, tiring week. And each time I bob, it takes me a little longer to surface, until this last time, when I woke and realized I'd been not only asleep but dreaming.

My dream was this, and I'll keep it short, I promise: I was playing the Game of Life (a very interesting Game of Life that apparently worked something along the lines of Lisa Simpson's genesis tub) with my brother, who kept stepping away from the game to have not-quite-short phone conversations. This happened three or four times, and finally I made a sarcastic comment to him when he rang off. He said, "yeah, I really need to pay attention, because my family's pet shark went rabid during this last call, and I don't know what I'm going to do about that," and he held up a tiny grey peg that was copiously foaming at the tip.

I mean, who wouldn't want that game, am I right? As soon as I post this, I'm off to send Milton Bradley an e-mail.
constance: (*writes*)
For my first Yuletide, I received not one amazing story, but two! Amazing, and entirely different from each other, so I am feeling particularly lucky today.

My request fill was a Spirited Away story, As There Is Light, There Is Radiance. It's a gentle, lyrical vignette-album that showcases Chihiro and Kohaku's loneliness and longing for each other, and their certainty that they will reconnect. The author never loses her way through ten years of story, and her delicate touch never falters. It's gorgeous.

As for my unexpected fill, ohhhh, man. I feel it is silly to ask if you're in the mood for a Jane Austen's Fight Club crossover called Jane Eyre Has a Posse (in which several tempestuous Brontë ladies school the more repressed Austen characters, in more ways than one), because who wouldn't be? I don't feel its brilliance can be properly described in a single paragraph, but trust me, you're better off just wallowing for a while.

Today, I'm clutching my fics to my chest like a six-year-old with her first puppy. So happy, you guys, so happy.
constance: (*enholidays*)
Whether you celebrate Christmas or not, I hope your day's filled with nothing but lovely things. ♥

Atheist that I am, I myself am yet off to get my holiday on. And like so many others today, I'll be completely out of contact for most of the day, but the first thing I'm planning to do after I get home, uh, after making sure that my poor neglected dogs are taken care of, that is, is to sit down with my browser. So, Yuletide author, I may not be with you right away, but I'll be back soon!
constance: (*writes*)
You guys, I finished my Yuletide story! Finished, finished, finished! Well, I mean. It's still with My Splendid Beta, so there's that. And also, the title seemed like a good idea at the time, but the more I look at it, the less happy I am with it. Still, though! 4500 words written, and it went where I told it to go. So I say, loudly and brooking no contradiction: finished!

Unless My Splendid Beta hates it. Please, universe, let My Splendid Beta not hate it.
constance: (*builds*)
I just spent two and a half hours making my niece a simple pop-up birthday card. I do these things for myself, really, because I'm pretty sure that my niece is not the sort of child who treasures things and takes special care of them, which means that she will open the thing and, if she takes note of it at all, will think the bunnies are cute and nothing more.

But you guys, I made a pop-up card! I'm all pleased with the evening's efforts, and I just want to post a picture where I can come back to it every now and then and gaze in satisfaction.

you can look too, though; I don't mind. )
constance: (*enholidays*)
This autumn, I've been supplying [profile] leestone with contraband goods once a week, never mind what they are, and the whole thing's been a lot of fun, a little ritual added to another ritual I've enjoyed for years. And mailing ill-gotten gains once a week has reminded me that I love sending people things in the mails! And I want to send you something in the mail! So I'm doing something I haven't done since I flaked out in a fit of anti-Christmas spirit a few years ago: I'm putting an offer on the table to send Christmas cards. I may make them, or I may use commercially-printed ones, depending on my level of energy -- I feel I should not overcommit myself, after my default -- and in addition, you can (and should!) request one of the following:

(1) a drabble
(2) a recipe
(3) a tiny drawing
(4) a haiku

All comments to this post are screened, so you can provide an address in a comment, or e-mail it to me at tradescant at gmail dot com, if you don't trust Ye Olde Elljay.

Hooray for mail, right? <3
constance: (*rides*)
Yesterday it rained for most of the day, but by the time I left work, the rain was pretty much leaving off for the day as well. The light was strange, so I was gazing at the sky when I walked out the door -- otherwise I might not have seen it right away.

you can't tell by the photos, but it's actually a double rainbow )
constance: (*builds*)
A while back, I ordered some of these as part of an ongoing attempt to hang a series of tablets in my hall without frames (don't ask about The Great Corkboard Fiasco of Summer 2011), and ever since, I've been getting their product catalogs. I've gotten to the point where I both rejoice and despair when a new one arrives, because there's so much fabulous stuff in them. It takes me days to get through a catalog, reading every page and imagining all the amazing things I could do to my house if only I had an unlimited budget (and, in a lot of cases, a significantly higher DIY ability skill -- frex, my current obsession is this rolling cart).

Good catalogs, and even some bad ones (like OMG the home decor catalog half of which looked as though it were designed by and for eight-year-olds with princesss complexes), do that to me. They fire my imagination and become launching pads for new projects and inspirations. And I think we can all agree that I'm no technophobic curmudgeon, but browsing online just isn't the same; it's not as satisfyingly organized and linear, and even searching for a thing in multiple ways won't always lead you to a thing you want. With catalogs, it's all right there at your fingertips, printed in full color on environmentally unsound (would the opposite of a green thing be a red thing?) coated paper.

It's a good time of year for catalogs, and I guess if I haven't outgrown the thrill of seeing a new one in my mailbox when I get home from work, I'm never going to.
constance: (*jumps*)
All those things I didn't get done yesterday, I managed to get them done today -- I even had time for a bonus cabinet reorganization, yay! This is why I love long weekends so; there's time for everything, if you plan right. Everything, and nothing too.
constance: (*loves*)
There was a buncha stuff I meant to do today: laundry, cleaning, maybe the beginning of my Christmas shopping. I was gonna start reviewing canon for my Yuletide story, maybe. Bring some things to Goodwill.

It was gonna be a busy day, you dig?

None of that got done. Here's what I did instead: got up, fed the pets, walked the dogs. Built a house in The Sims, which really deserves its own entry in My Month of Awesome (not the house, although of course it is mighty fine -- Prairie Style, if you were wondering -- but the housebuilding, which is still, after all these years, my favorite part of the Sims by far) and took many hours. Ate some pie. Walked the dogs again. Fed everybody. Took a bath. Did all of this to the tune of the Temeraire books, which I'm finally getting around to reading. I didn't talk to a single human being, though I did have a couple of discussions with the pets, whose opinions on dog-walkers are outspoken.

Nothing, nothing productive got done today, unless you count the fact that when my Sims family gets rich enough they'll be able to live in a spiffing house. Well, that and my dogs are most definitely more bearable when they get their walkies. But regardless of how little actually got done, it was a good day.
constance: (*dies*)
I defy you to get through this video without experiencing the uncontrollable urge to pet owls.

eeeeeeeeeeeeee! )
constance: (*celebrates*)
Man, Gilly loves to play catch. She's one of those indefatigable dogs, which you may have gathered from previous stories, and she plays no differently than she does anything else. She throws her whole body into the game, and she'll keep playing long after everyone else is tired of it.

Here's how she lets me know she wants to play: she picks up whatever object she wants me to throw for her and brings it to me, whereupon I decide whether it's an appropriate item for a game of catch (balls, soft chew bones, the rope toys that never last longer than a few days in our house) or not (that one especially hard toy for superchewers, shoes, paper from the trash) and either put it back where it belongs or toss it for her. And we keep going like that for ages. Sometimes she wants to catch it, so she'll jump for it, and sometimes she'd rather chase it so she'll wait for me to throw it and run after it.

She'll always bring the ball (or whatever) back to me, though, even if she's tired of playing. Instead of, you know, not returning to me, or dropping to the ground to enjoy a little private chew, she'll bring it back and lay it in my lap, and I throw it and she just sits there. Sometimes the ball (or whatever) actually hits her and glances gently off her, and she lets it. Whether the ball's hit her or not, though, she just stares at it as it rolls to a stop, and then there's a significant pause and she hauls herself to her feet to retrieve it, and then she brings it back to me again. It took me a long time to realize that I will always be the one to end this game: now when she just watches the ball bounce past and looks at it as though she's thinking, despairingly, my god, what will it take to just get this woman to stop, already, I just take the ball and lay it gently at my feet, and she either grabs it for that solitary chewing session, or otherwise goes about her business, and that's that, until she decides she wants to play again.

Often, that's about three minutes.
constance: (*listens*)
You know how you can go your whole life without even knowing something exists, and survive quite happily without it, and yet as soon as you see it, you think, not only do I want one, I want to put it together, and then I want to learn to play it, beautifully?


(22) naps

Nov. 22nd, 2011 08:30 pm
constance: (*jumps*)
When I said I was too excited to sleep last night, I was only sort of exaggerating for effect; the truth is that last night was just one of those (rare, which by the way, thank you for that, universe) sleepless nights. I fell asleep on schedule, but by two a.m., I was wide awake again, and didn't get back to sleep for two and a half hours.

Luckily, I'm one of those highly effective nappers; it doesn't happen all that often any more, because there seems to be something to do such a lot of the time -- and when there's not, there's porn -- but when it does happen, I take a nap and feel approximately one million times better on the other end of it.

Here's my preferred method: I curl up on a cushioned, at-least-semi-horizontal surface with a book and a cover of some sort. Read until I feel myself drifting, and let myself drift. And in about 45 minutes to an hour, I drift back into my head again. It's not really waking, not like waking in the morning; it's much gentler and more organic than that, and by the time I'm fully aware of my surroundings -- this process can take as long as the nap itself, but it doesn't do to rush it -- I'm ready to proceed with my day as usual, only in an infinitely better frame of mind.

I took a nap this afternoon when I got home from work, and I feel pretty fucking good about it.
constance: (*sleeps*)
My god, it's been a crappy day. I had work to last about twelve hours, and managed to finish about half of it; I spent an hour of time I could have spent doing the aforementioned work on the phone dealing with my boss's personal finances; I fucked up in a big and horrifying way which had me tracking down an employee and his wife and making abject but ultimately unhelpful apologies to each of them; I had three errands to run once I got off work, one of them a shopping trip, which I can't stand doing lately because every time I swipe my debit card anymore I remember that I haven't had a raise in two years and during that time it's become substantially more expensive to live.

I brought some of that work I didn't finish today home with me to work on, but it's not gonna happen tonight, and here's why: as soon as I walked through the door tonight, my bad day eased up. Just being at home does that for me. Just walking through the door makes me feel better able to cope. And with each passing minute, as I changed into my flannel pajama bottoms and hopelessly mismatched tee, as I fed and cuddled and apologized to the dogs for not having the time to walk them, as I ate my very healthy dinner of toasted pecans (hey, I have like thirty pounds to get through! I'll be eating pecans at every meal for the next year or so!) I unwound a little more, and there's no way I'm willfully winding myself back up tonight.

The work's not getting done, which means that I'll end up getting up and going in an hour or two early tomorrow, but that seems a small price to pay for a quiet night tonight.
constance: (*cooks*)
I made a pie today! It was a practice pie, in point of fact, a new recipe that I didn't want to introduce at Thanksgiving for the first time without testing first. (Yes, I have been burned this way before.)

As it turns out, I shouldn't have worried about the test: it's good. Really good, as in nothing-but-pie-for-every-meal, this-is-food-of-the-gods-isn't-it good. The caramel gives it a darker, more buttery flavor than the traditional corn-syrup-based mixture. (It might also be especially buttery because there's half a stick of butter in it.) It's so delicious I'm bringing the test pie to work tomorrow morning, so I don't eat the whole thing myself. I mean, I'd do it, no question, but does one person ever really need to eat a whole pie in less than a week? I think not.

picture and recipe under the cut )


constance: (Default)

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