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Fear Makes the Wolf Seem Larger

What a moody Monday! Trying to move past that feeling of being engulfed by my obligations. Breaking it down into smaller bits to make it all more manageable. I do need to get better at saying NO when others ask for something that requires a chunk of my time. There just isn’t that much of it to go around. I did drop one of the Coursera classes I’d been so excited about (cryptography). And being sick for most of September sure didn’t help things, followed by our long weekend away. Hopefully I won’t be playing catch up forever. I did make some headway last night. Spent many hours editing wedding photos while listening to podcasts. Including each episode of This American Life’s new show, Serial.

Serial is a podcast where we unfold one nonfiction story, week by week, over the course of a season. We’ll stay with each story for as long as it takes to get to the bottom of it. A Baltimore County Murder From Fifteen Years Ago, Revisited

The show is fascinating and well done but I didn’t intend to get so wrapped up in teenage murder mysteries. That one is not fictional, which makes it even harder to listen to. But I also happened to pick up Tana French’s new book, The Secret Place, and, as usual, her writing is so well done that it feels real even if it is fiction.

How about five less depressing things:

This morning my boyfriend and I have been waiting at our computers for 9am CDT to roll around so we could buy some Sleater-Kinney pre-sale tickets for the upcoming Minneapolis show. But no dice. I managed to click the Buy Tickets button somewhere between 9:00am and 9:01am but was immediately greeted with this message: “All tickets in this ticket type are currently in customers’ checkout carts. Should any of these customers choose not to complete their purchase, the tickets will become available again.” Boo hiss. Allegedly there will still be tickets available from First Avenue on Friday at noon but those are likely to sell just about as quickly. Guess I need to be inhumanly fast on the draw! Dang.

Eryn lounges

The River of Time

Last week was another frustration-filled one (which included what would have been my brother Tom’s 44th birthday). My To Do list is a mile long but we had already booked the trip for my son’s school break so we forged ahead. Without internet access. On Lake Pepin, in Stockholm, WI. It was a lovely long weekend of trying to get my mind off of all of the things that need doing. But now we’re back in it with ALL the stress. Everything demanding my attention all at once. At least the trees sure are pretty right now.

Five good things:

In the super bad news category, freaking GamerGate. I haven’t addressed this here (been tweeting about it like mad) but in case you aren’t aware here are some good pieces about the lousy situation:

Women Are Being Driven Offline“: Feminist Anita Sarkeesian Terrorized for Critique of Video Games. And A Former FBI Agent On Why It’s So Hard to Prosecute Gamergate Trolls. And “Rape and death threats are terrorizing female gamers. Why haven’t men in tech spoken out?” The smallest glimmer of hope from the UK where a new law will throw trolls in jail for two years.

Super discouraging. In the early days of the web I had so much hope for this new medium, to bring us all together. And it did then. I still have many friends who I initially met through our blogs or flickr photo walks. But the web has also become just another avenue for humans to be shitty to one another, and a more impersonal, removed one which only makes the hate filled cowards that much bolder. I’d like to think the good outweighs the bad but situations like this are so damned overwhelming. Makes me long for my own Point of View gun, Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy style.

Screaming Females

Same As It Ever Was

Bureaucratic frustrations abound. We did manage to make one positive change at my son’s school, and it was a major one, but the entire autism program still needs an overhaul. I had hoped for a smoother transition to high school for my son. Instead it seems like his entire freshman year will be a bumpy ride. And that is frustrating beyond belief. I just want to make it all better for him but I’m feeling powerless. And at times steaming mad. But I am persistent and I’m not going to give up. We have another meeting at the school early next week. Hopefully more progress can be gained.

How about five good things?

Last weekend I shot my last wedding of the season. And I also managed to cram in some Fall family fun on Sunday. Our little household ventured off to The Vegetarian in St. Croix Falls along with Fawn Doe Rosa, the Franconia sculpture park and Sven’s Clogs in Chisago (dangerous, I want them all). Oh and we picked up some New Glarus since we were in Wisconsin. And there’s the novelty of purchasing alcohol on a Sunday! Something we still can’t do in Minnesota.

Dick Diver

My Whole Life is a Dark Room

Now that it is October I feel I can officially get excited about Halloween. My son’s costume has been in the works for months and I finally thought of a costume idea for myself. You see, I, myself, am strange and unusual. And I will be dressing up as goth teen photographer Lydia Deetz, from Tim Burton’s Beetlejuice. Naturally I already have most of the things needed for her outfit. And we’ll host our annual pumpkin carving party the weekend before Halloween. I gotta say, the idea of this Halloween camp-in overnight, at the Science Museum of Minnesota, is sort of tempting but there’s too much going on that weekend.

Five other good things:

What an odd day. Congressman Keith Ellison randomly dropped by my workplace. That was neat and I managed to snap off a few photos of his visit. Before my main camera died. And I don’t just mean the battery ran out of juice. I’m talking catastrophic failure. And I’ve got another wedding to shoot in a few days. Naturally. A photographer friend asked if I had any idea what my shutter count is for my Canon 5d Mark ii. I admitted that I don’t know (nor can I find out at the moment) but I’m sure it’s ridiculously high. I plan to have this body repaired but it likely doesn’t have a whole lot of life left in it. So I bit the bullet and ordered a new Canon 6d body. From Amazon. Only realizing once I got to the checkout page that Amazon started collecting sales tax in Minnesota TODAY. Life can be a mean drunk that way.

Keith Ellison stopped by Clockwork>

Something Went Wrong

My son wasn’t even in pre-school when I first suspected something. The combination of an astute day care worker and my own experiences with my first cousin led me to have him screened early. I’ve never cared what label was applied. The labels are meaningless. My son is not a label. Unfortunately these descriptors are necessary in order to get him the services he’s needed. And modifications. And adaptations. His first two years in St Paul’s early childhood special ed program were just the thing. But when it came time for kindergarten we weren’t offered enough support. He was just going to be tossed into a classroom with 30 typical kids and one teacher. Nope. So I found a great charter school. It wasn’t so conveniently located to our home but we made it work. When our time there ended we made the messy transition back to public school. His charter school IEP was written in a way that made it difficult for his new school to interpret. But they tried. And they worked with us to re-write it. And he made so many gains he was moved out of an autism-only setting to general ed classrooms. Fast forward to this year. I made the choice to move us to another city - and a new school district - for high school. It seemed like the best choice. Closer to his Dads, a school with a later start time and a good reputation, within walking distance from our new home. But it’s been an anxiety-filled obstacle course trying to get my son the help he needs. The staff seem overwhelmed and the program understaffed. It’s hard to strike the balance of advocating for our kids without turning the educators against them and making a bad situation worse. Recently I met parents of other students in the same autism program and we have similar concerns, so we are voicing them together. Hopefully we can collectively make some positive changes for our kids.

Five random good things on this gloomy Monday:

It’s nearly October. My son’s Halloween costume is coming together nicely. Now I need to think of one for myself. Or a group or themed Halloween costume, which is something we try to do annually at Clockwork. For some reason my son’s school is closed on Halloween so I’ll have to convince him to come to work with me during the day to see everyone dressed up. And that night I’m actually going to a show. Generally I don’t go out on Halloween. I like to stay home and hand out candy to the trick or treaters. But seminal shoegaze band Slowdive is on tour and playing here for the first time in forever so of course I picked up tickets. And only realized what a nightmare the Warehouse District is going to be. On a Friday night. That is also Halloween. Groan.

Artist-Designed Mini Golf at the Walker Art Center

The Man Who Sold the World

Today I have Bowie on the brain, even more than usual. David Bowie, the patron saint of gender bending, is not just one of the most influential musicians of all time. Bowie is also an accomplished painter, photographer, actor, collector and more.

David Bowie Is presents the first retrospective of the extraordinary career of David Bowie—one of the most pioneering and influential performers of our time. More than 400 objects, most from the David Bowie Archive—including handwritten lyrics, original costumes, photography, set designs, album artwork, and rare performance material from the past five decades—are brought together for the first time.

The retrospective opens today at Chicago’s Museum of Contemporary Art and a documentary about the exhibit is screening at select theaters tonight only. Alas, I can’t make it to the theater tonight due to prior parenting obligations. But this gives me an extra excuse to make it to Chicago sometime this Fall.

Five more good things:

Ever so slowly I have been recovering from this sinus infection. Two plus weeks of sickness, combined with being exceptionally busy. Friday night we made it to the Turf Club, again, for Old Familiar Chime: A Guitar Festival. It was lovely but exhausting. Saturday there were multiple shows happening around town featuring friends’ bands but I was in no shape for any of them. Instead we took my son mini golfing at the Walker Art Center in the afternoon and stayed in to watch Jim Jarmusch’s Only Lovers Left Alive. I adore Tilda Swinton so much. And she had great chemistry with Tom Hiddleston. Sunday we overdid it a bit. Met up with friends to sample the new brunch menu at the Turf Club (again with the Turf), and amble around St Paul Open Streets for a spell. We didn’t have much time to rest before my son’s birthday party out in the suburbs at SkyZone, an indoor trampoline park. A bonus perk? My son can go back to SkyZone for free whenever he wants for the next month. And I scored some free SkyZone aerobics passes. Oof. My back still hurts from Sunday.

In the clown lounge with Wendy

Staying Ahead of the Narrative

Next week the Minneapolis chapter of Girls in Tech will be screening the documentary Miss Representation. The trailer is a bit hard to stomach so I can only imagine what the full length film will be like. But this is a topic that needs to be addressed. The portrayal of women in the media has bothered me for as long as I can remember. I’ve read a few reviews that attack this documentary for not being perfect - for not being this or too much of that. But we need to start somewhere to get the discussion going in earnest.

Five good things for this Wednesday:

In my previous post I mentioned that last Sunday saw our area’s Open Streets in Minneapolis but this Sunday is another one - in my former stomping grounds of Saint Paul. There will be plenty to do and see, including a performance by our friends in International Novelty Gamelan. And so far the weather forecast is looking mighty fine.

Shonen Knife

The Wall of Forever

On this day every year I find myself dwelling on the DEEP THOUGHTS. Or just plain sappy and schmaltzy and maudlin ones. Because my life changed forever on September 15th, 1999. In ways I would never have been able to anticipate. And today my son is fifteen years old. Wowzers.

Five random yet somewhat related things:

  • Bittersweet. “When artist Ania Dabrowska started working with Diab Alkarssifi, a homeless Lebanese man in London, she made a startling discovery. He was a compulsive photographer with a hoard of unseen pictures from his homeland.” A lost Lebanon - in pictures. I’m not sure if my family has any photo stashes like that from Lebanon but I should find out.
  • This is pretty neat. Every Ikea Catalog Cover Since 1951. The year of my birthday, 1973, is pretty weird. Puffy denim floor rolls? I don’t know man.
  • Tomorrow night we’re seeing Shonen Knife at the Turf Club. They are an amazing all-female pop punk band from Japan and this will be their 1000th show together. Their first having been in 1981. I’ve only seen one of those performances and it was some time in the 90s, before my son was born.
  • Peter S. Beagle wrote one of my favorite books that became a quirky yet class animated film in 1982 and now The Last Unicorn will be screening at The Riverview Theater a couple of times this week, with the author in attendance. We’ll be there. I watched it with my son when he was much younger so we both have nostalgia.
  • Much of my life revolves around autism and cats, and we’re in MN. We are not alone! Another very dedicated cat lover - who happens to be on the spectrum - did a neat thing. Finding Minnesota: The Feline Fun House: “Krueger’s four cats get to look down on their owner from nearly 100 yards of catwalks through every room.”

We moved in May. Nearly four months ago. But our garage was chock full of our unneeded stuff until just this past weekend. We finally made a dent. Over half the contents of the garage are now gone. Out of our lives FOREVER! A genius goddess friend had a yard sale yesterday and let us unload our biz there. She happens to live on Nicollet, right on the Open Streets route. So much foot traffic! Everyone who was selling their goods made a killing. The redistribution of our usable belongings makes me feel better too. I happened to be sitting on the lawn when an adorable 11 year old girl bought a pair of my old platform black combat boots for a buck.


The Urban Organism

This week was meant to be a quietly productive one. I had nothing scheduled for my week nights aside from photo editing, helping my son with homework, cooking and cleaning. And I’d hoped to squeeze some bike riding in there. But my sad meatsuit had other plans. What started as the usual seasonal allergy symptoms morphed into full on debilitating illness. What a waste of time. But I’ve been trying to take it easy and hope to be on the mend and back in the world soon.

Five Fall Activities:

  • This weekend there’s another Open Streets Minneapolis event happening and this time it’s pretty close to our house. This map has the highlights.
  • One of my favorite things starts up next week. Cinema in the Cemetery: Alien Invasion Film Series. I don’t think I’ve ever seen Plan 9 From Outer Space on the big screen.
  • The Midwest Comic Book Association’s FallCon is coming up Saturday, October 4th. Sounds like it’s been a scramble to keep everything on track because, sadly, one of the main organizers passed away last month. Dominic Postiglione of The Source.
  • For years I’ve been meaning to take my son to the Fawn Doe Rosa wildlife park. It’s just a little over an hour away and I am determined that this will be the year.
  • Note to self, other MN Fall To Dos: The Landscape Arboretum, Walker Mini Golf Course B (we already played Course A), Big Stone Mini Golf, Franconia Sculpture Park, ValleyFair/ValleyScare, an apple orchard, various Farmers Markets.

In other news, my amazing son turns 15 on the 15th. How this is even possible I just don’t know. It’s too bad his actual birthday is on a school day. The transition to high school hasn’t gone as smoothly as I had hoped. But I do plan to celebrate with him for at least a week, if not more.


Going Down With The Ship

Too many ups and downs lately. Funerals. Weddings. Back to school. Too great a concentration of BIG LIFE STUFF. Let’s pace ourselves, shall we?

Five good things (from last week, I’m way behind):

With the start of school comes the question, what to do for MEA break in October? A question many other parents have, apparently, already answered because just about every danged cabin in Minnesota has already been booked! I’ve spent too many evenings googling and sending inquiring emails and scouring AirBnB only to be rejected time and time again. One contender was not meant to be. After some initial confusion, caused by duplicate entries on AirBnB (one run by a college kid, the other by his parents) it turned out the amazing looking cabin on a chain of lakes was unavailable after all. And that very day in the nearby town of Dorset - jokingly called “the restaurant capital of the world” - half of their restaurants were struck by lightning and burned down. That means they went from four to two. Sad. Finally we found two places that were actually available. One in Northern, WI and the other in Southern, WI. I guess Wisconsin kids don’t get the same school break. Anyhow, one reason we opted to go South is to catch better colors with the leaves changing and all. Plus it’s only an hour and a half drive. Sold!

Jesse and Drew