29 April 2015 @ 09:50 am
It is fucking wild just how much a pet dying will take it out of you...

Long story short, my hamster passed away yesterday from tumor-related complications. We carried her body to be cremated after crying for god knows how long. I guess that sounds silly to anyone who has never had an attachment to little/pocket pets, but living in a smallish apartment almost necessitates it, and I've always had/loved hamsters in particular over the course of my life even when that wasn't the case. She was such a gentle, sweet pet, and she never once bit me, R, or even any of our multiple friends and family members. Only the good die young, right?? She was only a year and a half old so in theory she should have had at least a few more months in her. Oh well. I'm glad we gave her a very high quality of life and were able to spend her last few days with her, at least.
Current Mood: drained
03 March 2015 @ 10:14 am
Wow, February has easily been one of the most difficult, worst months I've ever lived through. Logistically and physically, I mean. I'm sure everyone has seen the news of the terrible, awful snowfall in and around the Boston metro, but living in it has just been fresh hell. It's almost absurd. (Someone, quite appropriately, created a blog titled "MB(ecket)TA", wherein absolutely depressing and nihilist Becket quotes are superimposed over ridiculous photos of what life has been like in Boston for the last month and change.)

Getting to and from my job, only three miles away, has regularly taken upwards of an hour and a half. Sometimes two or more. Sometimes I had no choice but to walk it, since walking 40 minutes in -30 windchill conditions was better than standing 40 more minutes with a hundred other people waiting for the same inevitably full bus to come. It was during those walks, through a foot of snow or more, that I discovered that a) your nose will start bleeding if you get too cold and b) iphones actually can reach a temperature so low that they'll shut down and stop working outside while giving you a temperature warning.

At one point, the trains at Park street on the green > red line changeover were so crowded that people, numbering probably a thousand or more, waited 50+ minutes to inch forward to get on trains that were just as crowded. Which is exactly what I did. I watched four full trains of people come and go before I could get on one and miserably trek further downtown, all the while having people bump into me and splash my hot coffee all over myself the entire time. I think I would have honestly preferred it if someone had pushed me onto the tracks.

Also, houses and roads here clearly weren't built with weather this bad in mind. We've had two (minor, but annoying) power outages, I've spent a grand total of 9-10 hours thus far shoveling my car out of snow (only to continue not driving it lest I risk losing my good parking spot), the indoor stairs to my landlady's side apartment door got so cold that they froze over, icicles included, and I fell all the way down them (thankfully uninjured!) and finally, to top it all off, the roof of our third story apartment finally got so burdened with ice dams and snow weight that it bowed, which has resulted in a giant, leaking hole in our kitchen ceiling that is still unrepaired. (Mostly due to insurance related bullshit, but thankfully our landlady is a pre-existing customer of some roofing guy who can come in to fix 'er up whenever that's ironed out. What's startling is that when she attempted to contact an emergency roofer instead of her normal guy, she was informed that it would be a while since she'd be 600th in line.)

Basically, the past month has been hell on earth and I'm glad it's over. It's still not even over, really, because it's in the 30s and it snowed four inches the other night, but even that's way better than the pure, unadulterated torture we've been dealing with up until this point. I can honestly say that 30 degrees feels pretty balmy right now and I can comfortably walk around or take out the trash or whatever in short sleeves. I don't even know if I remember what the sun feels like...or grass. Or life, or goodness, or hope.

Gotta say, though, it's impressive how resilient people are. Clearly god is trying to kill everyone in Boston but is just not succeeding. Despite these terrible conditions, people have still been soldiering through and going to work, continuing to party and drink, and generally surviving, albeit in a very depressed, world-weary state. Also funny...before moving here, people told me and R that the winters around Boston and Cambridge and such were "pretty mild" compared to the rest of New England. Well, both winters I've lived through so far have been so bad that they've been labeled as "historic", so I'm wondering what the fuck is going on here...
26 January 2015 @ 09:56 am
R and I are currently vacationing in NC for a week, and it's been...weird, exciting, and simultaneously a clusterfuck all at once. So far we've had to deal with one canceled flight, one rescheduled flight, two rental car reschedulings, actually GETTING to the car rental lot and then having an agent accidentally rent out a (clearly running, already rented) car to someone else with all of our bags in it during the three minutes it took for us to sign something inside... but now, finally, we're here and not in fucking tundra-like New England and it's nice! (We got our bags back. And a super nice '15 Chrysler with free gas to rent courtesy of the rental company nearly giving away all of our possessions to a random stranger.) I honestly don't even know if I've been inside of a car this nice before, let alone driven one, and it's not like my own car is an eyesore or anything. But anyway, yeah. I'm just thankful nothing else weird / inconveniencing has happened but I guess we have a week left to see if that pans out.

It's only been a day yet but it's been interesting being back in the Triangle. One thing I've immediately noticed is that there seem to be more visibly queer people walking around. I still feel like people are staring at me/us--I was used to getting lots of stares when I was still pre-T and more ambiguous looking--but maybe it's just some sort of paranoid psychic holdover from years ago rather than actual reality.

Maybe things are getting better since Amendment One was struck down, but I guess it's hard to say without having lived here for a couple of years. I wouldn't want to move back and sacrifice our current comfort in MA, but there is a definite je ne sais quois about NC in general, and particularly its LGBTQ community and dealings with community activism. It still just feels very lacking in the part of the northeast where we live, but I guess it's because people here have had to fight harder for more basic rights or something. I'm sure it's a lot of things, really. Maybe I'll be able to put my finger on it one day.
24 April 2014 @ 02:55 am
Wow, what a week. For days straight I kept getting the strangest requests for juice at work. Marathon runners, man. Why would anyone want 12 ounces of liquid kale? (Ignoring the fact that if we even tried to make pure kale juice, it would destroy our juicer and probably cost close to 15 bucks for a glass. People don't seem to understand that some vegetables and fruits are very difficult to juice. You can't juice a banana. You can barely juice kale, spinach, broccoli, and other leafy vegetables. It's Food science. I would have to juice near to seven bunches of kale to get an entire cup, provided our juicer didn't explode in the process from dealing with something so fibrous. Some plants were not meant to be juiced by the likes of men.)

Thankfully, the marathon itself went off without a hitch. I guess we got enough excitement last week when that MassArt guy pulled his rice cooker stunt, which pretty much shut down Back Bay for a few hours. Naturally, while I was at work..

But anyway! Spring is finally here. It's so cool to finally go outside again without worrying about my fingers falling off or something. A few new things are happening in my life. Since I have some more free time, I'm starting work for my city's Human Rights Commission. (I've already done my case management training, so now I'll be stuck in bureaucratic hell for a bit while they process my official application and check references and my resume and such.) But it's very exciting to know that I'll be able to help people report things like housing discrimination and harassment.

Oh, and we got a hamster! She's adorable.
12 February 2014 @ 02:52 pm
Boston winters are, without a doubt, the work of Satan.

......I wish I had something more substantial to write than that, but yeah, it's pretty true. Horrible, horrible weather. We moved up just in time for a freak winter. I can't believe I used to think that 50F was chilly. Well, not so much compared with -15F. And the snow just is relentless. Living in a fucking Siberian wasteland for the past three months makes me long for Boston summers, and they're also pretty miserable. Apparently this city hasn't quite caught on to "central air conditioning", but at least I was born to handle the heat gracefully. I've spent more money on winter gear (and alcohol) this past month or three than I think I ever did during all twenty-something years I've been alive up until this point combined.

Other than that, things have been okay. I feel like I'm finally getting to the other side of my intense winter-season depression and might survive this. Spring is just another month away. I never truly understood the significance of "spring cleaning" because I grew up in the coastal south, which is pretty mild in the winter and early spring, but now I get it. People here must go fucking insane when it's warm enough to actually do things outdoors and you have energy to clean again.

But at least I have enough energy to write now, which is a very positive sign that this horrible experience hasn't left me as little more than a husk. There are so many films and shows I've watched recently and I'm bursting to actually examine them, long-form. Sherlock series three in particular, since I'm sure watching it has left me irrevocably changed as a fan and fundamentally distrustful of television as a medium for at least a little while. It's been nearly a month and I still can't quite wrap my head around it. (I guess this'll make the years-long hiatus until series four a little more bearable...)
26 November 2013 @ 02:51 pm
Things are going pretty well! Riley and I tied the knot earlier in the month, and we had a tiny city hall ceremony. It was very moving, much to our surprise; the Justice was wonderful and the speech Boston uses for all legal weddings is beautiful and only moreso because it's entirely secular and free of gendered terms. We also had a great time going out the evening of and ended up with a shockingly large tab, which thankfully our friends treated us on, cough.

We had a few days off afterwards, so we took a mini honeymoon to NYC and stayed in Midtown. I've only ever been to the city in the time between bus layovers, so it was my first real visit and chance to do, uh, anything other than eat and wander around for a bit. We stayed in this tiny hotel on 48th; great location for the price, but you get what you pay for in terms of luxury. But it didn't really matter since we spent most of our time out and about anyway. We had a lovely long walk through the park, visited Times Square and went up to the observation deck of the Empire State Building, went to the Met and MOMA, etc etc. Riley's been to the city countless times just because of childhood proximity, but it was my first time staying more than four or five hours, so I think I got all of my touristy impulses out, haha. But yeah, it was lovely. Especially MOMA. Much to my surprise (and delight!), the big special exhibit was on Rene Magritte, who's essentially my favorite artist, full stop. It was stunning to see so much of his work in person, and if I'm honest it made me a little emotional.

It's still kind of odd to think of myself as a married person; I've always associated marriage with "being old", or at least an older adult, despite the fact that a tremendous amount of my high school classmates are now hitched and/or have kids of their own. Funny how I used to think of a person in their mid twenties as being "old"...once you actually get there it's very clearly not the case.

(Also makes you realize that "adulthood" in general is a very meaningless term, since no one ever truly does figure things out or have their life as together as it seems from the outside looking in. Which is incredibly comforting.)
12 October 2013 @ 11:50 am
Hard to really know where to begin with this one, since a fucking shit-tonne of Major Life Events have taken place for me over the course of the past few months. So once again, defaulting to list form:

- We moved to the Boston metro successfully! We have a reasonable little attic apartment. Not so pleased with our landlord's repainting choice (everything is very yellow), but we're getting a good deal on the place. Plus heat is included, which is practically unheard of in Boston. It'd be kind of silly for it not to be since this is an Edwardian house and it (supposedly) just sort of floats up from the second floor, but still. More than anything we're paying for location.

- I got a very well-paying serving / bartending job at one of Boston's busiest (and perhaps among its most famous) restaurants. It's pretty hellish sometimes as it seems to be a big destination for tourists, but honestly, I can't say that I mind that much. I've worked just as hard and for way, way less money. I got promoted from server to bartender / barista in pretty record time, too. I do still intend to seek a job in my field as originally planned, but I'm not in a particularly big rush.

- R and I are finally getting married! The date is set in early November. We're not having a ceremony or honeymooning or anything just yet, but that's all in the cards eventually. For now it's mostly for legal and financial benefits. Plus, y'know, that whole "we love and are committed to each other" thing.

Generally I'm just very...content, I guess. My work schedule doesn't leave me with quite as much free time as I'd like, but I've honestly loved living in Boston so far. (The amount of times I've stumbled home embarrassingly drunk on nights out have also gone up by probably 200%.)

My only major complaint, other than the ridiculous housing prices, is the fact that no one in the urban northeast can drive. Like, at all. We stayed with my parents in rural NC for about a week over the course of my birthday in the summer, so rather than selling my car in NC, I decided to just drive up and see how owning a car would go for a while here. Things went pretty smooth until we hit the Mass Turnpike, and then everything devolved into barely structured chaos and hasn't really changed since. My first time driving in downtown and through Cambridge to get to our house was a literal nightmare and I think I had fifty heart attacks. It's seriously astonishing just how badly people here drive. Turn signals might as well not exist, and if you even dare to leave an inch of space between you and the vehicle in front of you, at least two or three other cars will try to cram into it from all sides. There's pretty much no safe way to travel outside of the subway, I swear. It's a dangerous city to fucking exist in if you're a pedestrian, biker, or other driver. Like anything else, you get used to it, but it took me a few weeks of having to mentally prep myself before getting on the road and I've been driving issue-free for over seven years.

But nonetheless, once you learn to stop giving a shit about the laws of traffic previously drilled into you, it's not so bad. Having a car is pretty convenient, at least. Parking is a nightmare, but that's kind of to be expected.

One thing I've also noticed is that health care is drastically better up here. I'm going to be getting insurance through my workplace pretty soon and as such can't make any full judgments just yet, but even my standard visit to establish a PCP and get a refilled prescription for my hormones went very smoothly and very cheaply. I also had a short ER stay several weeks ago due to a bad stomach bug, and it, too, was very well executed and almost dirt cheap compared to essentially the same sort of thing in North Carolina. My hormones are literally one sixth of the price they normally ran me in NC. Talk about pleasant surprise.

And I do really miss NC a lot, naturally. Things are definitely different up here culturally. Part of the reason I kill it as a server is because my baseline level of politeness is apparently "super super polite" in Mass. People regularly seem shocked at pretty simple polite gestures like door-opening, using "sir" or "ma'am", etc. etc. These are things that are more or less expected of you in the culture I was raised in, so it's definitely taken some getting used to.

--oh yeah, but the leaves are gorgeous here.
01 July 2013 @ 07:04 pm
God, it's been a weird month. Wish I had a better intro than that, but nope, I got nothin'.

- First of all, our housemate moved out without incident. Thank god. Talk about [ profile] housematehorror material...

- Second of all, I basically lost my (primary) job. The cafe turned out to be a bit of a financial disaster and my former boss couldn't afford to keep paying me. Won't say that I didn't usually have a nice time working there, but as weeks and months went on, it became more and more obvious that the owner had no clue what he was getting himself into and made some very fundamental business mistakes way too early on. I did what everyone would expect of a manager...scheduling, handling invoices, doing inventory and placing orders, etc., in addition to helping run the place. He once seriously referred to my invoice organization spreadsheets as "busy work". Giant red flag that someone doesn't know what the hell they're doing or what's actually important enough to keep track of in a small business. He thinks that he can run the place himself and turn enough of a profit to stay open without being very financially organized or even keeping up with invoices from outside vendors. (Honestly, he reminds me a lot of my uncle, who used to insist that he didn't need to keep a check register because he could remember his account balances in his head. You can guess how many times he accidentally overdrew.) I'm not really all that bummed over it in general, at least not anymore, and I didn't take the job because I wanted long-term career security. So in that sense I don't view it as a loss. I have a ton of new invaluable skills as a barista and coffee house manager, and now I know how to start a new retail / food service business and all the permits and such involved. (I also made some very good connections with smaller, high quality artisan roasters, which may come in handy down the road.) Sadly all of this has been futzed working for some hippie with his head in the clouds who thinks it's fine to chuck order invoices in the trash after he's checked them for accuracy. He'll have a lot of fun with that come tax season, I'm sure.

- My full-time job, however, was pretty much the only thing keeping me nicely settled in the Chapel Hill area, so R and I have decided to just move somewhere new. Everything just kind of neatly happened at the same time: our housemate left without major incident, our lease is expiring soon, and our jobs right now, while okay, are not exactly worth sticking around for (and at least R can transfer within the company to a different area). So we could essentially stay here and hunt for a new place while I search for a job I'm more qualified for, or...we could do the exact same thing somewhere else more exciting.

So we're moving to the Boston area! Yee! Seriously, I'm beyond excited to be relocating. Means we'll have to live out of my savings for a bit while we get settled, but hey, we'd be doing the same here after a while if I didn't have any good job prospects beyond my current part-time job on campus and a little bit of transcription work to do for my landlord over the summer. (I trust that the going rate for degrees from UNC-Chapel Hill is probably a little higher outside of, well, Chapel Hill. So I might actually consider trying to get back into research or something more related to my field when we do move, but honestly, at least I have very marketable skills as a barista if nothing else.) I think it'll be a good move; some of our best friends live in the area and they have a great LGBTQ community and a ton of resources for trans people in particular. And decent health care. And we can actually get married! (I guess it would be even more of a non-issue in MA that some of my legal documents don't quite match up, gender-wise, meaning that we can get federal benefits pretty much regardless. Yay!) And I'd be lying if I said I wasn't largely excited because NYC is only a 3 hour-ish train ride away and I haven't had a single slice of really really good pizza since last time I was there in 2010. I'll miss living in North Carolina, sure, but I'm more excited to try something different for a while and just visit home on stock up on Cheerwine and cheap cigarettes.

- Oh yeah, and we had a major flash flood yesterday. Thankfully everything is all right with the house, but our neighborhood (and most of downtown) has seen better days. The roads all flooded for a while, so everyone in our little townhouse complex had to park at the bus stop on high ground across the road to avoid having our cars flooded or swept away. I generally enjoy living right next to the major creek on this side of the city, but not when the creek is suddenly our backyard... but at least we were around to move our cars, unlike these poor bastards at the private pool next door.

Also feeling quite sorry for our neighbors. We had a wind storm over Bonnaroo weekend, and a large branch fell and crushed their AC unit outside when they were out of town in Tennessee. They got it replaced...only to have it completely flood yesterday afternoon. Talk about shit luck.
Current Music: Came Back Haunted- Nine Inch Nails
10 November 2012 @ 12:03 pm
Sometimes I love kids.  
I was sorting through some old things this morning at my parents' house when I came across a literal treasure trove of poems, drawings, and school assignments they've kept from when my brother and I were in primary school. I was happily looking through my third grade folder when I found a year's end "memory book"... It's a sort of a class-wide interview booklet where all the bitty students had the opportunity to share what they learned that year, get recognized for outstanding grades in certain subjects, etc. (I was apparently amazing in math that year, which might have been the last year ever that I gave a shit about it until college trig.)

Bar none, the best section was the page detailing where each student thought they would be in 20 years' time. (It's been only about 15 years, granted, but it's still amusing to see just how little of this has come to fruition for literally everyone, practically all of whom I still know and regularly see. Perks of being from an incredibly small, rural town. [Not really.])

Anyway, I wanted to be an animal doctor. Obviously that didn't happen. (I think I wanted to be a vet for most of my young life, but then again, I also wanted to be a private detective when I was three or four...) Some of my classmates clearly had more extravagant or detailed plans. Most names abbreviated just, um, because.

Mac: "I want to have one girl and one boy named Christy and Evan with my husband. Note: My husband won't be in this classroom. (Ha! Yes, this is literally what she wrote. Sorry boys.)

Ran: "I hope I will be in the Navy and I will be flying a F-14 Tomcat jet." (Typical thing for an eight year old to want, I guess.)

Rach: "I will be the first woman president and help everyone I can." (I have to say that I have absolutely no desire to see this happen.)

Ty: "I want to be married and have no children. (Understandable.)

Bri: "I will be 28 years old." (I guess this is the most reasonable one.)

Sha: "I will marry and have three girls." (Interesting answer...not exactly what you'd expect from a third grade boy.)

Anyway, none of these can top young Carl's answer: "I will have children, be rich, a teacher, president, baseball player, basketball player, ice-hockey player, football player, baby-sitter, singer, king of the world, scientist, spaceman...and preacher."

I don't particularly remember Carl, so I can't tell you what he's up to these days, but he seriously had his priorities in line.
Current Mood: amused
18 January 2012 @ 10:44 pm
Exciting stuff, I know.  
As you can see by my complete and total lack of personal updates since the first of January, my life has been utterly boring. I've had job interviews and whatnot here and there, but otherwise, what the fuck am I even doing? Nothing, that's what. Glorious amounts of nothing. (You know, not completely nothing. The bare minimum needed to survive and live like a respectable human being, most of the time. And job-hunting.)

The most exciting thing I could possibly even talk about would be the fact that our water bill is through the roof for the second month in a row, which literally makes no sense at all. The problem now is discovering just what could be causing it. The sinks and toilets seem to be all right, so I guess I have no choice but to snoop around and see if I can discover a leaky pipe or something. The great thing about apartment living was that I never needed to worry about this sort of mess, since we had onsite repair people who would take care of maintenance. (Of course, the bad part--feeling like you're living in a glorified college dorm when you're well out of university, yourself--more than soured that little bonus.) I'm just utterly perplexed. I mean, it absolutely has to be a leak or a busted pipe or something. Either that, or wandering vagrants are stealing water from our garden hose for hours every night when we're asleep.

Oh, and I've been (unsuccessfully) trying to grow out my facial hair. The hairs on my chin come in salt-and-pepper coloured, though, which looks a little odd. But I don't mind so much. I was making progress until I was kindly reminded that being clean-shaven makes a much better impression during big account management job interviews, so I was forced to start from scratch again yesterday morning. And I cry.

Weird thing I thought of today, when I was eating leftover pizza for breakfast: how long has cold pizza for breakfast been a thing? Why is it a thing at all? We did it somewhat often in our family because my aunt introduced my mother to the idea decades ago, and it's since become a storied tradition of mine, as well. (Provided that I ever have leftover pizza, which is a pretty rare occurrence.) I always assumed that my aunt told my mom that eating unheated leftover pizza for breakfast was a completely normal thing to do in order to hide her own personal, secret shame in doing so. Ostensibly the song by Christine Lavin was written for the same reasons. And oh god, speaking of my mother, she's visiting tomorrow. This means I have to clean up and pretend like I'm not the un-single version of a foul bachelor.
12 July 2011 @ 02:12 am
I present to you all the greatest thought experiment of all time.

I think every student of philosophy has done the whole train wreck determinism thing before, which only adds to the sick amusement and appreciation. If I ever wind up teaching a philosophy course I think I'll give that to my students as some sort of evil extra credit assignment.

In related news, Apostolos Doxiadis has apparently written a book pulled straight from the depths of my heart. It's a graphic novel on the life of Bertrand Russell and the founders of analytic philosophy. It seems as though it takes some historical liberties here and there and falls into the sort of pitfalls you'd expect from a book written by non-philosophers about philosophical ideas, but I can't really bring myself to care. Russell is probably one of my favorite thinkers of all time, if not my favorite, and the art is very cute and expressive. And, you know... There's a bit about Russell being adorable and flirting with his wife using mathematical logic. (I wrote most of my undergrad philosophy thesis on Russell's theories of logical atomism and gave a pretty long seminar lecture on his metaphysics, so you could say that I'm kind of partial to both him and his work. Partial enough to spend several days immersing myself in it, anyway.) Maybe I'll buy it as a gift for myself when my birthday rolls around.

Think that's pretty much all I got. I've been doing some "research" on organic/natural hygiene stuff. By which I mean, I've been buying different sorts of things from the Co-op and other local hippie-shops. Maybe I'll write up a post on it or something. I've managed to make my entire morning routine organic with herbal shampoo, sandalwood body gel, oatmeal soap, propolis and myrrh toothpaste, apricot deodorant, and vanilla chai lotion. (I thought I would miss Old Spice, but you just can't beat apricot deodorant. And the vanilla chai smells surprisingly...manly.)

Yeah. Not to brag or anything, but I kind of smell delicious.
Current Mood: cheerful
17 December 2010 @ 09:28 pm
Finally done with exams and term papers. I have never written so much in my entire life...ever. Over the past four-five days, I've done:

- Thirty pages on the metaphysical and empirical works of Quine, Russell, and Ayer concerning mental phenomena (like hallucinations).
- Eleven pages on the development of the Holocaust in Italy, Romania, and France, and on the ways that modernity, liberalism, and religious spin resulted in anti-semitism in 20th century Europe.
- Ten pages on hate speech law in the United States.
- Eight pages on Sen's opposition to transcendental theories of justice.
- Eight pages on the roles that propaganda played in the creation of the Theresienstadt ghetto.
- Five pages on Rawls' theory of justice, including global justice.
- Four pages on Murphy's legal roles and paternalistic law.

So in the end that's...nearly 80 pages of pure academic BS. And probably a few months shaved off my life. Whee!
Current Mood: accomplished
08 January 2009 @ 01:37 am
Valerie a Týden Divů (1945, 1970, CZ)  

Lengthy but fascinating Kinoeye film review here.

I finished reading Vitezslav Nezval's Valerie and Her Week of Wonders early yesterday. It was good, but the icing on the cake was an essay by Giuseppe Dierna at the end including analyses of Nezval and Max Ernst and themes in Surrealism. One particular recurrence in the Czech Surrealist works of the 30s (aside from animal masks...) was androgyny and the 'separation of the two,' which was also one of the major issues in Valerie. Of course, the whole thing was ganked from Greek mythology regarding the hermaphrodite, but this has always interested me, mostly because I feel that the concept of 'missing halves' in gender might affect both the relationships and the gender identity of individuals. It's something to think about, anyway.

--just not right now since it's like two in the morning.

May I add that I really hate getting up for 8:00 classes again.
Tags: ,
Current Mood: blank