Image courtesy of Stew Dean. Licensed under CC BY 2.0.
Recently, I’ve been taking an improv class. When I tell people about this, it sometimes seems to strike them as slightly adventurous, which makes me laugh. I am anxious about many, many things in the world, but never has being on stage been one of them. Heights, my own failure, smalltalk? Yes. Stage? No.
So, when I graduated, I decided that I needed a hobby that wasn’t drinking beer or crying on cars (an actual search term that led someone to this blog today–hello, whoever you are!), I settled on two things that I already knew I liked: class, and theater. The fact that I am not a particularly good actor (and am by far a worse improvisor) was immaterial. I dropped a chunk of my paycheck, and got myself a slot at Dad’s Garage for the next eight weeks.
Three classes in, I can say that I’m pleased with my decision. I’m firmly in the bottom quartile of the class in terms of skill, but I’m trying to build adult skills like not wanting to vomit on my shoes in embarrassment every time I do something asinine. Improv class is great for building your realization that–to paraphrase Merlin Mann–if you screw up, it’s okay, because no one’s going to eat you.
I was telling all of this to two of my friends on Friday night in the middle of drinking a mid-range hefeweizen, when I looked up from my seat and nearly spat out my beer. Standing next to my booth was my improv teacher. This shouldn’t have come as a shock, given that we were maybe two miles from the theater where I am taking the class, but it was still unexpected.
This weekend, my family celebrated Father’s Day by–as is our custom–eating entirely too many delicious egg-based foods for breakfast. This freaked out the table next to us, since Father’s Day isn’t actually until next week.
The mixup happened due to a combination of familial paranoia and inertia. We did figure out that it was the wrong Sunday due to the magic of Google, but at that point we were all excited for brunch and figured the lines would be shorter anyway. Problem solved!
This is not the first time that my family has willingly changed a holiday date for convenience. When I was small, for example, I didn’t realize that Thanksgiving and Hanukkah weren’t actually the same holiday. (There were not many other Jews in Tulsa with whom my sister and I could compare notes.) Continue reading →
My mother’s memorial service was this past Saturday. That is not what this blog entry is about.
Instead, I want to talk about what I’ve been reading lately. It’s a biography of Ada Lovelace with the delightful title, Bride of Science.
Ada Lovelace, for those of you who spent high school not learning about the history of science, is widely considered to be the first computer programmer in history. She worked out proto-programs for Charles Babbage‘s difference engine, which–for those of you not familiar with it–is what happens when steam punk enthusiasts build a computer. Babbage was never able to build the entire thing, though he was eventually vindicated in 1991 when some English historians built one with the advantage of modern mold casting for the parts (covered in this biography, which I read last year, and which is interesting for that alone).
As the biography points out, in her own day, Ada Lovelace was far more famous for her parentage. She was the daughter of the poet Byron, the rockstar of his day, and her parents’ separation proceedings were the basis for some of the beginnings of what looks–to the modern reader–very much like modern celebrity culture.
I picked the biography partially because I enjoy reading about scientists, particularly women scientists. More than that, though, I have a deep and abiding love for science biographies from right around the time period where Ada Lovelace lived. Because there was So Much Science happening at that time, and scientific circles were confined to a series of fairly related genteel families, there are plenty of fascinating people about whom one can read. And–the part that’s fun for me–they show up in each other’s stories. Continue reading →
Original photo by Alex Cheek. Licensed under CC BY SA 2.0.
This weekend has been a reminder that I actually live in a city. With people. And Culture. Because this weekend was the Atlanta Jazz Festival, an annual event that–if traffic is any indication–draws everyone, from everywhere, to listen to music and/or drink margaritas sold by the yard.
(Yes, really, that is a thing you can buy at our festivals.)
And on some level, it was a little annoying. After all, driving back to my old place to give someone a blender yesterday took me an hour when it should have taken 20 minutes. There’s no way to spin that that doesn’t suck.
At the same time, it is difficult not to be a little happy when you see families carting kids off to go watch jazz in the park on a Sunday night. The weather is beautiful, and as I sit in my new studio I can hear the jazz coming through from the park. When I came home from getting groceries, my neighbors from the next building over were sitting in the street, drinking beer and petting their diverse variety of giant, excellent-seeming dogs. Continue reading →
In the Venn Diagram of things that are both terrifying and true, the fact that I just meandered through my first post-graduate week is pretty firmly in the middle of the circle. And it wasn’t even like I had a boring, quiet week to help ease the transition–I managed to attend the (lovely, tasteful) wedding of a (lovely, tasteful) friend, pack the vast majority of my belongings, and haul my life across town.
So that’s been fun.
But in between assembling furniture and crowding six to a hotel room in south Georgia, a weird thing has happened. I’ve begun to gather glimpses of my looming adult life. The end of moving is in sight, and that means that soon enough I will have substantial free time in the mornings. I could take up running! Or sit in my local coffee shop and flirt with baristas before work! My tiny studio, which seems Parisian if you click your heels together three times and just believe, is within walking distance of Atlanta’s largest park, most famous art museum, and (to my knowledge) only botanical garden.
By the time this post is published, I will be in the middle of the long, bagpipe-filled process of graduating from college. I am not particularly excited about the ceremony. I checked out from school a month ago, and even at the best of times I was never particularly connected to Emory College. And, of course, it’s been a difficult semester.
However, attending my younger sister’s graduation from Oxford College (my other alma mater) over the weekend reminded me that two years ago, I went into graduating with a very different frame of mind. I was excited to celebrate my time at Oxford. In the pictures taken during my graduation, I look happy (and slightly sunburnt from spending some day of the previous week drinking mint juleps on a beach).
Going back to Oxford reminded me of why. Walking around after their own long, bag-pipe-filled ceremony, I was greeted by professors and staff members and lookers-on who remembered me, and asked about what I was doing with myself. They were pleased to see me, and they remembered me well. Perhaps most startlingly, the way that they remembered me lined up with the way that I remembered me (with, of course, the polite gloss that someone else will give when describing someone to their face).
My mother died this week. I have been trying to come up with an appropriate response to this that I might post on the blog, but of course there isn’t one. It’s awful. I will probably fail to feel the weight of its awfulness until a few months or years from now. That is–I am told–the course of these things. Thankfully I do not know from firsthand experience prior to this point.
Cancer is an awful disease, and at my mother’s insistence I refuse to categorize her experience with it as a battle, though research and anecdata both tell me that this is the Done Thing. It was a bareknuckle fight with an asshole of a disease.
I try to avoid cursing on the blog in general, but really, fuck biliary cancer.
So, I was just delighted to find myself with my two classmates and professor on a Saturday morning, heading out to Cartersville to hang with people who like to make their own arrowheads, and–in the case of the primitive bowhunter side of the festival–their own arrows and bows, and then shoot deer with them. We rolled up–one of the few cars that wasn’t a truck–around 11am, and headed on in. Continue reading →
Image courtesy of Jarapet. Licensed under CC BY 2.0.
I have come up with a fail-safe way to test whether you are ready to have children at This Moment in Your Life. Ready? Here it is:
Go to the zoo during the first nice-weather Saturday in the last two weeks.
Meander on over to the tamarin exhibit.
Decide whether you think that the five-year-old screaming, “AHHHHHH” every time the tamarins move for two minutes straight provokes an “awwww” response out of you or an “AHHHHH” of your very own. If the latter, maybe hold off on spawning!
I spend so little of my time around children, particularly children in groups. Hell, I spend very little of my time around adults that are not in the 18-22 range, or at least did before I got a job. (My coworkers have children! And hobbies that are not drinking and being sad! Truly it is a brave new world.) After being in Senegal last year, I thought my view towards them had softened. I had been around kids! They didn’t hate me!
I had forgotten what happens when the children clump together. Because then? All bets are off.
Children aside, the zoo was great fun. I spend so much of my class time learning about non-human primates via YouTube videos that I forget that you can, you know, go look at them for real. Which I did! Much to my excitement, our gorilla troupe had a newborn, and she was out, and it was phenomenally cute. Because if that infant was making noise? I couldn’t hear it! Continue reading →
Most of that derived from the fact that RespectCon, the conference on sexual assault prevention/response that I helped organize, happened this past Friday. Like, actually happened. People came! Presentations were made! Cameron and I got to have a wonderful discussion about armadillos and leprosy! There was a hashtag!
So that was very nice. I think it went well. If it didn’t, then I know a lot of very polite, very convincing liars, which is emotionally equivalent.