friday five, on monday

Via Gord:

The other day I had a talk I had with a co-worker, Shawn, at my workplace. I was talking about an experience at the swimming pool and how I realized, through that experience, that I was actually an adult; I mean, I felt it clearly at that time. It wasn't the first time that I felt clearly the reality of my adulthood, though. Those kinds of moments come at funny moments, don't they? My baby sister, who is engaged to be married this summer, commented that she wonders when she will feel grown-up. I was only a little surprised at that; I think many of us feel not-quite-grown-up for most of our lives.

How about you? Assuming you have had such moments, what were the five experiences during which the reality of your adulthood struck you the most powerfully? At what five moments in your life have you felt most clearly that you were, indeed, an adult? And if you can't think of five moments at which the reality of your adulthood struck you full-on, you could alternately include moments where the lack of such a feeling struck you most poignantly or significantly.

I guess my most adult moments were those when I felt the least supported and had to figure out how to do things for myself. A good place to be on the general growing-up continuum, if only in hindsight.

1. Moving to Texas from PA. It wasn't so much the move, but the aftermath. See--all that came with us was what would fit into the Ford Escort that we owned at the time. No furniture. No bed. Just some clothes, some books and a tiny tv. Our first full day in Austin consisted of trying to find someplace we could purchase a cheap bed and couch. Nothing makes you feel like adult than realizing you'll be sleeping on the floor for two weeks until the dang thing can be delivered.

2. Quitting my first job, also in Austin. It was an awful, awful job. (Can I get an amen, Adam?) I quit the day my paycheck bounced and I got yelled at by the owner for bringing it up. It was a moment of freefall, since I had no other means of support and Scott was in grad school. It all worked out in the end, tho.

3. Moving to Knoxville from Texas. Did that move solo, which is a long story. Scott joined me later. That first night, sleeping in an empty apartment with just a futon, some cutlery and bowls and my cat, I wondered if I'd made a huge error. I hadn't--but I wanted some real grown-up to come assure me of that.

4. As cliche as it is, September 11, when it was erroneously reported that a plane had gone down in my hometown. (In truth, it had crashed well outside of Pittsburgh, but that detail was lost for a bit in the chaos.) It is selfish--the whole day/week/month was horrifying, granted, but there were a few extra moments of special horror when I thought a large contingent of my family and friends might be dead or running for their lives.

5. Giving birth to the Diva and the aftermath that surrounded it. Nothing makes you feel more like a grown-up than having kids of your own. Yeah, most of the time I'm navigating the whole thing by touch rather than knowledge, but the mistakes are mine to make and no one else can make them for me. The joys are mine (and, of course, Scott's) as well--so it all balances out. One hopes.

Other, probably less serious, Fivers on the left list....


friday five

Melissa cuts to the chase: "Who are your top 5 fictional crushes?"

Only five? This might be tricky...

1) First one ever: Cat, from Joan Vinge's Catspaw. An emotionally frail telepath with secrets who can kick serious butt when he needs to. I always imagined him looking like David Bowie (who I've always had a crush on--and who, come to think of it, may actually be fictional as well) during his Ziggy Stardust days. Mmmmmm.
2) Spike, of course.
3) Prentice McHoan in Iain Banks' The Crow Road. I loooove Banks--although his recent stuff hasn't been quite as potent for me. But Crow is a keeper, especially because Prentice is exactly the guy who would have broken my heart but good. Crow also has one of the best opening sentences ever--"It was the day my grandmother exploded."
4) Henry in Audrey Niffenegger's The Time-Traveler's Wife. A recent one--but it's good to see that my lust for sensitive, waifish guys with secrets who can throw a punch and dig punk rock is still intact. Cat would like punk rock, too, I'd imagine.
5) Hal in David Foster Wallace's Infinite Jest. Pot-smoking tennis player (with secrets, natch) who also likes to dink around with lesser-known philosophers. Bring it on.

Two honorable mentions:
a) James Cobham from Brust and Bull's Freedom and Necessity. Secrets. Smart. Sexy.
b) Friday from Heinlein's Friday. I mean, come on. I can think of few folk who would kick Ms F out of bed or the 'fresher or the acceleration couch or the...

Other pervs on the left list.


Friday Five (on Sunday)

Mr Adam ponders:

Going through some old papers my parents brought from their house last week, I found several notes to my parents from teachers I'd had growing up. I got to thinking about the legions of teachers I had for the first 21 years of my life, and wondered:

Who were the 5 that had the greatest impact on me as a person, for good or ill?


1) Miss Stoehr and Miss Palfy, both in 4th grade. The way our elementary school was set up, you had two teachers for each grade and would change classrooms after lunch. Miss S was a former nun who, I think, was simply too nice to make it as a god-penguin. Miss P later became the school's principal, which rocked. Both helped me through a rough year--rough mostly because my mom was coming unglued and home was, to say the least, unsettled. Miss S came over to dinner a couple of times and did the best she could helping my mom find some help. Miss P gave me a cool-ass copy of The Hobbit at the end of the year, simply because she knew how much I loved to read. I still have it, in fact, and it is a treasure.
2) Mr Conoran (I think that's how you spelled it), seventh grade English. He pushed us pretty hard, but, man, did we learn a lot about how to think and reason. Exactly the person you want teaching in Jr. High.
3) Mrs Babcock, second grade. We moved from Chicago to Pittsburgh right before second grade. When I went to go take the placement test, I was having a shy day, which I remember being pretty common right after the move, and didn't speak during the whole exam. Of course, the principal assumed that I had some kind of exotic learning disability and put me in the "slow" class. By the end of the first month, I would sit in class and cry, simply because I was so freaking bored (which isn't to say that I'm a genius, just that I was a little speedier than the kids I was with). Of course, it was then assumed that I had an exotic learning disability and a personality disorder. It was Mrs Babcock who figured out that I just needed more of a challenge and lobbied to move me into the other second grade class. It did the trick.
4) My trig teacher in high school. Can't remember his name. Horrible instructor. Never actually taught and would sit in front of the class, mumbling about cosines, then assign problems from the book, which we were on our own to figure out how to do. I still don't know squat about trig, nor do I ever care to know more.
5) Dr. Stephen Lyons, Allegheny College, history. Amazing teacher. Again, pushed us hard but it was so worth it. Lots of reading, lots of discussions--during which you were expected to be on your toes at all times. I'd always kinda liked history before but he made me love it.

As usual: other Firday Fivers in the left list.


friday five

Posted by proxy from Mojave 66:

My apologies for the lateness-- I've been scrambling at odd hours to try to
get into San Francisco's City Hall to marry my partner of 12 years. It's
been an amazing, profound experience-- such an outpouring of love and
support from damn near everybody in our city. Florists have been dropping
off free roses, there are offers of discounted hotel rooms, people passing
around food and honking and waving their support.

So this week's question is inspired by all this: what are the five most
profound moments of your life? Those are those moments when you know your
life is going to be altered for better OR for worse, that the path you've
chosen has either been slighly altered or you've even fallen off a damn
cliff and now it's incredibly altered. You may have no clue where this new
path will take you, but you know for a fact that you're stepping off in a
new direction.

Rough chronological order:

1) Moving to Texas with Scott. Sure, we were serious about each other and lived together during our last two years of college, but it's a whole other ball o' wax to pack up and move 2000 miles from where you've lived for the past 10-odd years. Oh, and you really have no job prospects in the field you've just spent four years getting a degree in. And you're really just following some guy across the country because he's the one who really seems to know what he wants. It was a huge leap, made huge-r by having to unpack in frickin' Texas during August and during a drought. Good times. Thought I'd made the worst mistake of my life.
2) Not getting in to grad school for the second time. In hindsight, this was the best thing that could have happened. At the time, tho, it was devastating.
3) Catching an episode of Oprah my second year in Austin. I'm not really an Oprah watcher. No, really. But it was on and I lacked the will to do much else. The show was about regret. She did a whole segment about folks on their deathbeds and what they regret the most. And it got me to thinking--what would I regret the most, if I were on my deathbed? It was an epiphany--it would be not seeing if I could make it as a writer.
4) The Diva.
5) Moving to Oneonta. The jury is still out on this one. It made sense on paper, but the reality is something else. Too soon to tell.

Other Friday Fivers on the left list.


friday five (on sunday)

Ray asks:

Knowing the folks on the list, something similar to this has probably already been asked. Still, it's what I came up with after letting it simmer for the week so, here goes: My wife sits and reads all the time, and I used to as well. I've wondered why I don't anymore, and I think it's that since High School G/T classes, I haven't been forced to. I miss it. My question is, which books would you miss in my situation? More accurately, which 5 books have made the biggest impression on who you are, and why?

1) Ellen Raskin's The Westing Game and Louis Sachar's Sideways Stories from Wayside School. I'd been reading long before I discovered these two books--but these are the two that showed me that books, including books for smaller folk, could stretch the boundaries of what fiction could do. Plus, they hold up well even when you read them as an adult.
2) Vera Brittain's Testament of Youth: Had to read this slice o' WWI history for a college class and had the sudden realization that non-fiction doesn't have to be arid.
3) Robert Heinlein's Friday. First real, grown-up-like SF/F I ever read and I've been hooked on the genre since. And while I have some qualms about Heinlein now, then (age 10 or so) he was the coolest writer ever. E-V-E-R.
4) David Foster Wallace's Infinite Jest. Pretentious? Sure. Masterpiece? Yeah. Here's how much you can fuck with the form and still have it be engaging and memorable. If DFW wrote sugar packets and cereal box backs, I would read them.
5) Anne Lamott's Operating Instructions. While Bombeck hinted that motherhood wasn't all apple pie and sunshine, Lamott really spells it out in glorious, vomitous detail. And I'm thinking about getting her graf about the dog and the float tattooed on my back. No, really.


Other fivers:
Melissa, Adam, Merideth, Will, Chris, Gina, Gord, Marvin, Rob, Laura, Jon, Ritu, Julie, Morgaine, Rik, Fionna, Roganda and Mojave Sixty-Six.


friday five (on saturday)

Morgaine this week:

Well, I've been thinking about absent friends - the people you just aren't in contact with any more, for whatever reason. Maybe it was intentional, on either of your parts, maybe there is something unresolved between you, maybe you just lost a phone number or address and you would be in touch, if only you could! - so:

Who are the five people from your past you would most like to be able to see, speak to or simply communicate with, by whatever means? Why did you lost touch? What would you tell them if only you had the chance - without fear of major repercussions, especially if that's why you haven't been in touch already!

The one is perhaps the most serious:

1) My mother's brother, who died well before I was born. He could answer so many questions, really, and help me figure out why there are all of these gaps in the family narratives. However, my time travel skillz are not mad, so this one is out o' the question.

The rest are just kind of "whatever-happened-to..." sorts of queries. I don't really have that many unresolved issues and intentional rifts.

2) Lisa Trimber. One of my best friends in high school. We lost touch when we both went to different colleges. Her parents were strict Catholics and Lisa apparently rebelled after she left home. Rumor has it--based on reports from my last high school reunion, which I missed--that she is currently a dominatrix living in Columbus, Ohio. No, really.

3) Dave Brzozowski. The first of many geeky artist crushes that I've had. Dave (and, yes, that is his real last name and not a series of typos) and I did summer stock together in Pittsburgh. He was a couple of years older and went to Penn State. We used to write each other long, strange letters. His were always filled with wonderful drawings. I think he always saw me as more of the little sister type. Ah, well. We simply lost touch.

(Strangely, I recently rediscovered the whereabouts of yet another geeky artist crush I had in high school--one Malchus Janocko. Yes, that is his real name. But that is a story for a different day...)

4) Laura Ashley. No, not the retail store. Also her real name, which she received long before the purveyor of milkmaid frocks made it on these shores. High school. Lost touch. Notice the trend? I suppose that's what happens when you leave town after graduation and never really come back.

5) Michael Dalmon, an actor I knew in Austin. We just got weird around one another after a very strange night, the details of which seem to be lost in a haze of smoke and liquor. Just always wondered what happened to him and if he ever made it to rehab.

Other fivers in the left list...


friday five

Marvin today:

I don't usually remember my sleeping dreams, but sometimes I do. I have a handful stored away in my mind, dreams that for one reason or another have stayed with me over the years from childhood on through today. What are your five most notable dreams; when and where did they happen; and what do they mean to you?

In no order, really:

1. One of those recurring dreams that I had for a few years when the fam was living in Atlanta, which means I must have been 6 or 7--In the dream I would wander down to the basement and discover my parents in front of an old school mad scientist's rig (you know--bubbling beakers and the like). They would swill one of their potions and both change from my parents into big scary monsters who would try to eat me. Any shrink worth his leather couch would have a field day, especially since these years were when the 'rents were realizing that they shouldn't be married anymore.

2. The details of the dreams I had during the last few weeks of pregnancy are no longer fresh--but on the whole the dreams were blood-drenched, violent and grotesquely erotic.

3. Another recurring dream that kept popping up during the years we lived in Knoxville. The ceiling fan in the bedroom was actually a big giant spider that was scurrying down to do something horrific to me. Given that I also tend towards night terrors, this usually led to screaming my lungs out at 3 a.m., which simply scared the bejesus out of Scott. I would then drop right back off to sleep, while he would lie in the dark and wait for the adrenaline to fade. He puts up with a lot, Scott does.

4. Duran Duran's John Taylor. I was barely a teenager. There was licking involved.

5. Most recently, heart-stopping nightmares in which we have one day to move again. Ah, the horror.

Other Fivers on the left list.


friday five (on saturday)

Fionna asks:

I've just finished reading a book about Arctic Exploration from the 1860s to 1926, and have started another one about the truth behind the myths about pirates. What both these books have in common is that I get to relive some of the adventure stories I used to love as a child, whilst still pretending I'm being all scholarly and grown up. So my Friday 5 question is:

Given an unlimited budget, the ability to travel through space and time, and a guarantee that you would return in the full of your health, which 5 adventures would you like to join in? They can be real adventures, from fiction, on other worlds, or a time and place you would really like to witness first hand.

Ah, adventure. Right now my life's big adventure is waiting to see if the water pipes in the crawlspace cracked from the cold during the night. Those that lead to the kitchen are frozen like popsicles. We have fans and heaters blowing on 'em and are hoping for the best. I am keeping half an ear out for the sound of gushing water. Gushing water would be bad. Call it a small adventure.

For big adventures, these would be my choices, in no particular order:

1. Will already took one of mine (which is what I get for being late). A trip or three on the Gay Deceiver in Heinlein's Number of the Beast. I would, however, not be keen on having sex with people I'm related to, but the excursions themselves would be fun.

2 and 3. Any of Miles Vorkosigan's impressive jaunts, courtesy Lois McMaster Bujold, or Vlad the Assassin's adventures, courtesy Steven Brust.

4. It would have rocked to have accompanied Michael Palin on any of his trips--but the one that I'm most enamored with is his first, when he went around the world in 80 days.

5. On a smaller scale, Frances Mayes' adventure in Tuscany is something I ponder quite a bit, despite how cliche it's become.


Other fivers on the left list.


friday five

You know the opening bit of Raiders of the Lost Ark where Harrison Ford is running from the giant boulder? That's been my week, for the most part. My brain isn't exactly operating at its peak capacity (although, to be fair, I think the last time it did this was 1995) and I have a couple of freelance pieces to finish before Monday dawns. Add to that the holidays, the dead cat (which hit harder than expected) and the end of term (although everything is now graded, calculated and out of my hands). Woot. When can I take my long winter's nap?

While I would dearly love to answer this week's Friday Five, I'm copping out. It's a great question, tho, and it seems a shame to not post it. So here it is, with some links to some folks who are more on top of their situation than I:

Live, from India! Or, at the very least, from the witty and charming Ritu:

Everybody lives through certain moments in their lives when things go 'click' and ideas take a living, breathing shape. Concepts and thoughts which were only words until that moment now become an intrinsic part of one's internal landscape, altering one's perspective forever. Sometimes these lessons of life are taught by other people and that is the subject of this week's question:

Which are the five most important life lessons learnt by you and by whom were you taught the same?

Two from Marvin:
It's not about you. If you're paying attention life will find all kinds of ways to beat this lesson into a person, but in particular I'm thinking about the years I practiced karate with Sensei Nishida, which provided ample opportunity for ample numbers of people to beat the lesson into me literally. In a martial arts class everyone is trying to improve themselves by using each other as targets. The price you pay for this privilege is that you become a target yourself, and you cannot afford to take offense (with the other or with yourself) every time you get kicked in the head, punched in the belly, or hobbled by a shinbone delivered with surgical precision to an unprepared thigh muscle. Applied to life in general, one must realize that human interaction is never frictionless; but that doesn't mean everyone's out to get you. Chill, roll with it, be happy.
Sometimes it really is about you. This is the flip-side of the previous lession. In life there are people you will perceive as obstacles, embodiments of goals, pains in the ass, or some combination of these. Sometimes when you spar with them (or interact with them) you can't help but make it personal; if nothing else, your own goals are personal to you after all. But guess what: to certain other people YOU are that obstacle, that goal, that pain in the ass. And when they deal with you, it's personal to them. Sometimes the guy who just kicked you in the head has been trying for over a year to figure out how to get past your defense. Be happy for him.

One from rob:
Talent is priceless, determination costs more.Various. Friends, lost yet still close. You can try all you want, if you don't have the magic, you don't have the magic. If you do and you think anyone gives a shit you're only kidding yourself.


One from Ray (welcome, Ray!):
Bravery is Not What You See on TV. Very recently I've realized (read that as 'made up in my own head') that I'm a pretty brave person. No, I'm not talking about Skydiving, I'm talking about little day-to-day decisions that I would have avoided when I was younger that now I'm learning to stand up to. Some of them, I even attack with relish (like calling people on their shit with confidence). Some I still avoid (like talking to people I care about when the subject is very uncomfortable). When I was about 4, I asked myself what I wanted in my life, like what my goal was for life. I was a deep kid so, piss off. I said to myself, "I want people to remember me when I die." I'm thinking of revising that to "I want to live a brave life." The person that I learned this from was me. Like I said, maybe I'm making it up.

And, finally, one from Mr Spittle:
Never Bet You Can Beat A One Armed Man In Pool. In college, my friends and I would occasionally go to a club called "The Touchdown" in Birmingham, because their bartender wasn't always the most diligent checker of IDs. There was a jukebox full of Hank Williams Sr and Waylon Jennings music, a couple of scuffed up pool tables, and an assortment of hard-drinking rednecks and other characters. One night, I was sitting at a table with Mark Chapman, Trey Lackey and a couple of other people lost in the fog of too much cheap beer, and a one-armed man came by and asked if anyone thought they could beat him at a game of pool. Had I been sober, I'd have recognized this as a hustle and politely refused, but, being full of piss and vinegar (not to mention a couple of pitchers of draft Old Milwaukee), I knew that this would be the easiest $30 I ever earned. 4 minutes later, I staggered back to the table, not even having had a chance to shoot. I was $30 poorer and about the same amount wiser. If someone that looks like they'd lose big time offers to put money on a game, get ready to lose your shirt. One armed man, I salute you. PS, I hope Dr. Kimball doesn't find you.


friday five

Friday 5 avec Laura:

If you are anything like me, you'll go to lengths to avoid having to go see a doctor. I actually made an honest-to-god attempt to get to see mine today, but I was rejected out cold by the Secretary From Hell (never mind the fact I can't eat or drink anything). But that's not the point... My question for this week is short and sweet:

What are your five most popular (or common, rather) home cures, Granny's Recipes or magic tricks even for curing or preventing any old disease?

I'll gladly grant extra points for anyone whose tip kills my throat pain (preferably without killing me, but I'll consider other options as well)!

1. For hiccoughs, from my mother: A tablespoon full of sugar mixed with only enough water to make it easy to swallow. Works every time.
2. For a hangover, from Stefan at Allegheny whose last name excapes me: 16ozs of grapefruit juice, as cold as you can stand it. (See--we were doing a show and I was working crew after a long night indeed. I remember leaning forehead first against the theatre's bracingly cold back wall. Stefan's arm entered my line of sight and in his hand was a water bottle full of grapefruit juice, which I actually hate under ordinary circumstance. I pushed it away. "Nah," he said, "Try it." Now, Stefan was the kind of guy you'd trust to know how to ease debauchery's pains. And he did. Worked like a charm.
3. For menstrual cramps (boys can skip to 4), from a concert violinist I went to massage school with (long story): the reclined bound angle pose.
4. For colic-y babies, from random chance: swaddle the heck out of them and run the water in the kitchen sink. Hold their heads close to the stream--not in the stream, even though you may be tempted after an hour of non-stop crying--and rock 'em back and forth. Something about this particular white noise and the GENTLE shaking and the swaddling seems to calm 'em down. Dunno know why.
5. And, finally, for sore throats, from my mother again: frequent gargling with warm, very salty water.

Other folk remediy-ists on the left list...