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Hidden Storms Within Us All

What a week. I try to give others the benefit of the doubt. I realize that school and district staff are likely overworked and underpaid. But I also tried to be as prepared as possible for a parent, to make my son’s high school transition a smooth one. And it’s been anything but through no fault of my own. Being a special ed mom can be challenging. Not because of my son, but because of the surreal Brazil-like bureaucracy I have to deal with. I wrote up a timeline to figure out where things went wrong in the chain of events. And I explained it over and over again, higher up the chain, before we gained any traction. It took until day three of school but it seems like the situation has *finally* been sorted out. What a roller coaster!

Five encouraging/interesting things:

Last night our household ventured out to the MN State Fair after school. And many of our friends joined us for the 4-H Llama Costume Contest. I made a tentative plan for eating my way through the fair. But I also finished reading through yet another piece about sugar being poison. Which I totally get. But what a downer. So I mainly stuck to savory foods and something on a stick didn’t agree with me. Most likely the seafood. Common sense should have encouraged me to avoid that. Anyhow, my son wants to return sometime over the long holiday weekend but the weather isn’t looking so swell. And it’s trickier to get to the Fair now that we are on the other side of the metro. But I did miss our annual Sky Ride. We’ll see.

I love the butter princesses

Summer Vacation in Outer Space

We’ve been traveling a fair amount this summer, but not as a household unit. My son has had trips on his own, with his grandparents. And I’ve traveled with him. And my boyfriend went up North without us. And then I went to Missoula with him, but not my son. Much of the summer my son has been nearly off the grid. The past two weeks he was camping with no cell phone service. So it was bittersweet when I received a text from him the other day saying “remember Robin Williams” - without punctuation. More command than question, I would say. I think that’s the worst of the news he’s aware of. His autism makes him a bit oblivious sometimes. But right now that might be all right. The awful stuff is particularly overwhelming right now. The murder of an unarmed teenager and additional injustices in Ferguson, the suffering in Gaza and Syria and Iraq and elsewhere, the Ebola outbreak, the beheading of a journalist by ISIS. The news is bad all over.

Limping along with five good things:

Last night I attended my son’s high school open house, without him. Today we’re going there together, to wander around. He hasn’t set foot in the building yet and school begins on Monday already. Next week will be a busy one and it will take a while to adjust to our new schedule. But we’ve got to make time to for the MN State Fair. Particularly for the 4-H Lama Costume Contest.


Possess the Right Thinking

My son departs again soon, for yet another trip to Seattle. I’m trying to pack in as much quality time as possible before then. Last weekend we attended an outdoor birthday party and walked around the Powderhorn Art Fair with old friends. Monday night we just barely made it in time to a screening of Back to the Future. In a park, with FIVE Deloreans parked nearby. And the owners did neat things like flashing their headlights at appropriate moments, or honking when the Delorean in the movie did. Last night we attended our neighborhood National Night Out Block Party. I made watermelon-feta-mint skewers and a three bean salad. We met a lot of nice folks and drank some home brewed beer, cherry cider and mead. And were ranted at by one crabby elderly lady, oof.

Five random items for this Wednesday:

While my son travels my boyfriend and I will be taking a couple of road trips ourselves. Both music related. One closer to home, at the Square Lake Film and Music Fest. And another to Missoula, MT for Total Fest. The schedule has finally been posted and there’s a music sampler up on bandcamp. But I have so much photo editing to finish before I can take off and enjoy myself. I did wrap up the volunteer work I did for the Family Tree Clinic and I’ve been chipping away at wedding work. Inching ever closer.

Toni spewing peanut butter pretzels

Adventures in Mass Transit

Last week when I returned to Seattle I still had my ORCA card in my wallet. And I planned to use it. But wound up renting a sweet Toyota Yaris instead. Reliable cars really are the most convenient thing. Now home my bad car karma continues. Tuesday my mechanic fixed my car and I drove it away without incident. Yesterday I worked from home but ran an errand in the afternoon. On the way back my car flipped out. Flashing check engine light, bad smell of unburned gasoline, stalling. Thankfully I hadn’t gone too far. It was all side streets. And my boyfriend was able to have AAA tow it back to my mechanic. This morning I took the city bus to work. It was a straight shot on one bus, with no transfers. But the entire journey took a full hour. And along the way I saw some strange things. Like a city employee downtown trying to sweep an injured bat off of the sidewalk on Hennepin. Hmm.

Five items of note:

So my automobile is failing. But I’m also experiencing some parenting fails. Next month my son goes on another, shorter trip to Seattle with family. Not only will he be missing the Internet Cat Video Festival, which is tragic enough, his flight gets in just hours after the open house/orientation at his new high school. Smooth move, mom. And this was after I paid money to reschedule his original flight that was due to bring him home the day *after* school starts. Because Minneapolis schools start before Labor Day, not after.

my brooding teen

Harnessing the Flow of the Universe

Several times I’ve experienced car problems immediately after a trip and/or shooting a wedding. This time it was both. My son and I returned from Seattle on Friday and Saturday I shot a lovely wedding downtown Minneapolis. On the way home my car’s engine light came on. The beast is with my mechanic now. I guess it’s better to have car problems after being paid to shoot a wedding than after spending money on travel. But since I’ve just done both this means things are sort of evening themselves out. Thanks universe! At least being car-less has ensured I’ve been home more, editing photos. I finished this recent batch of trip pix then finally got through the ones from our previous trip to Seattle and Portland, over Spring Break. On that trip we attended the Emerald City Comic Con. Maybe one day we’ll attend San Diego’s Comic Con, which just ended. But it’s gotten too large and would likely be overwhelming. I’ve been distracted enough just by the news coming out of the con this year. Some of the top tidbits:

While in Seattle we got to visit the fabulous Fantagraphics, where I picked up the Henry and Glenn Forever trade paperback, and a few other books. And we played lots of pinball and ate excellent meals and lounged. I’m working on another post to, outlining our best trip stops so that I remember where to go next time. When we got back to town I took my son to our new co-op, Lakewinds. They’d had their grand opening after he left for his month long adventure. He seemed suitably impressed. Not only is it the closest we’ve ever lived to a co-op, they stock all of his favorite vegan items. Which has been great for the short term, until he leaves for one more trip this summer. This time just for two weeks. And then bam, school starts. If only I could convince him to shave his wispy mustache before then.


The Wall of Forever

Just as I’m about to embark on yet another trip utilizing AirBnB they’ve freaking overhauled their branding and their new logo is…icky. As Gizmodo puts it: The New Airbnb Logo Is a Sexual Rorschach Test For Our Time. So many tech nerds are taking pot shots at it today. Like “New Airbnb Logo Wants You To Draw It Like One Of Your French Logos” and the sight gags in this one: AirBnB Reveals Its New Logo Mockups. Why’d they have to go and mess with a perfectly ok thing? Speaking of parodies, Weird Al Yankovic is firing on all of his funny cylinders. I am particularly enjoying his take on Royals called FOIL.

Five good things for mid-week:

Less than a week until I see my son again. Last time we were in Seattle we made due with public transportation but it wasn’t always convenient or happy-making. A couple of times we broke down and made use of Uber cars. So I had kinda sorta resigned myself to renting a car but today I learned about a major highway closure while we’re there which makes that option less appealing. Can’t win. But I will be able to drive us to the LASER DOME. And that’s pretty cool.

This Bud's for you!

As Mellow As Moonlight

What a wonderful weekend. Friday night we had dinner at Northbound Smokehouse Brewpub before leaving the car there. It was a quick walk from the restaurant to the light rail where we zipped downtown for the Made Here launch in The Parklot. Then we took the light rail back, grabbed the car and saw our friends’ band, Rabbit Holes, play at The Hex. Saturday was lazy. We kinda-sorta got a few things done around the house and enjoyed take out from Hot Indian Foods for dinner. Then it was off to a backyard hangout under the supermoon with friends (including a favorite friend who just signed a lease and is returning to Minneapolis after five years working in the South). Sunday we biked from our place to the Kingfield Farmer’s Market, which was lovely. But holy wow am I out of shape! I was already sore by Sunday evening when we went to a fantastic wedding party at the beach.

Five good or interesting things for this Tuesday:

  • Yesterday I didn’t leave the house. I remained in pajamas all day, working from home, bundled up in layers with slippers on. It was actually kind of nice. I’d prefer record breaking cold in the summer vs. record breaking heat: “128 year record cold Monday?”
  • And in our Russian sister city of Novosibirsk, Swimsuits for snow boots: Freak summer snow & hail hit Siberia, Urals
  • And another report from that neighborhood, The North Pole Could Soon Drift Over to Siberia: Earth’s magnetic field seems to be weakening and potentially migrating
  • Our household is 100% full of Scott Pilgrim fans. Which is why I pre-ordered author Bryan O’Malley’s new book, Seconds. And was pleasantly surprised when it showed up today. Yay me! Except now I want to go straight home to read it instead of stopping by the Y for a work out, like I should.
  • With my son traveling with his grandparents I haven’t been needing to get groceries nearly as often. But I’ve added a few items to the list after reading th eFood-Mood Connection: How You Eat Can Amp Up Or Tamp Down Stress. Some are already staples in our household but I don’t know that I’ve combined them. Yesterday I made scrambled eggs with kale and pumpkin seeds. I’d probably feel less anxious if I would cut out that second cup of coffee…

My son has spent much of the past few weeks in the wilderness, with unreliable cell phone service. He has been posting some updates to Facebook, thankfully. But yesterday I received my first text from him in well over a week and I BURST INTO TEARS. Sad mama. His text was just letting me know his phone was working and he was asking how our cats are doing. I think the cats are fine but I’m kind of a wreck. Looking forward to seeing him in Seattle next week, for sure.

Zena & Grace

We Are Made of Star Stuff

Yesterday there was a bit of excitement at an area zoo when three gorillas took a brief jaunt through unsecured door. Naturally someone set up a ComoZooGorilla twitter account with the best tweet being: “Who’s down for a midnight screening of ‘Dawn of the Planet of the Apes?’ I should be able to get out of here by 10:30 tonight.”

Five good things for Friday:

  • This weekend the silent classic Nosferatu is being shown at The Trylon, with live music by Fate’s Palette. Buy tickets here.
  • For his 158th birthday, Nikola Tesla got a day named in his honor and a new science museum with $1 million in funding from billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk.
  • There’s a trailer now for the new Terry Gilliam movie, The Zero Theorem, featuring many of my favorite actors. Like Christoph Waltz, Tilda Swinton, David Thewlis.
  • I adore Rejected Princesses: “A series of illustrations of women whose stories wouldn’t make the cut for animated movies, illustrated in a contemporary animation style.” An interview with the man behind the project here.
  • Oh tumblr. There when you need it (but often when you don’t want it too). Fox News started it with the single lady voters / Getting to Know the ‘Beyoncé Voter’. And this was one brilliant response.

The weather has been all over the place today - downpours and sunny skies in equal measure - but I’m hoping things will clear up for the weekend. We already deeply appreciate grilled pineapple but I’ll have to give grilling other fruits a shot too.

Drew, lighting up with a sparkler

Adult Mediocrity and Fatuousness

We had a decent 4th of July holiday weekend, though I’ve been having a hard time feeling terribly patriotic. The headlines hurt. Supreme Court Broadens Hobby Lobby Ruling to All Forms of Birth Control. Grrrr. So much for Justice Alito’s “narrow” opinion. One of my all time favorite people, George Takei, blasted the High Court’s ruling and called for a boycott of Hobby Lobby. Hell yeah. And Democrats are trying to fast-track a bill to override the Hobby Lobby decision but I don’t know how far that will actually go. There’s at least one rich white American guy who gets it: The Pitchforks Are Coming… For Us Plutocrats. And Nick Hanauer wrote that before the unfortunate SCOTUS rulings. I like this guy.

Middle-out economics rejects the old misconception that an economy is a perfectly efficient, mechanistic system and embraces the much more accurate idea of an economy as a complex ecosystem made up of real people who are dependent on one another.

The income gap is widening at an alarming pace. And this reality is being reflected in our dystopian, end-of-the-world fiction. Books and films and tv series. In the last week I’ve seen Snowpiercer (TILDA SWINTON!) and the first few episodes of Dominion (Anthony Stewart Head!) and have read plenty of books like The Last Policeman series and The Maze Runner.

Sometimes I leave too many danged tabs open. But then I find five or more good things:

Another busy weekend ahead. Seeing the Budos Band tonight. My old friend Joan Vorderbruggen is coordinating Hennepin Theatre Trust’s new art-in-storefronts project, MADE HERE, launching tomorrow. A beach wedding party. Dengue Fever (the band) at The Cedar. And it’s now less than two weeks until I see my son again. A little over the halfway mark. Man, this is excruciating.

Zena, with mini bottles in her bra

There She Goes, My Beautiful World

Hello emotions! What a whirlwind. So it’s finally sweet sweet summer. And it’s far too easy to let things slide after such a brutal winter. Now that it’s lush and green and warm I am even more easily distracted. By going for walks or sitting outside on patios. We’re lucky our new place is on higher ground but just last night we had dinner on Sandcastle’s new terrace on Lake Nokomis, and got another look at how flooded the paths are around the shoreline. Last week President Obama was in town for two days, to meet with a working mother, and he gave one talk near the swollen Minnehaha Falls and another along Lake Harriet. This was just days after my amazing boss had been in D.C., serving on the panel of the first White House Working Families Summit. All the best things were said and great sentiments expressed and I was actually feeling hopeful for a minute. And then. Today’s Supreme Court Ruling. My spirits are sinking fast. I’ve tried to explain to my male partner just how disheartening and discouraging it is to systematically be shown/told that one’s gender, which makes up 50% of the world’s population, is somehow inferior. That women’s agency and autonomy aren’t important after all (never mind, oh, SCIENCE). I’d already been feeling that sting. Lately I’ve been taking a good hard look at the fiction I consume. Particularly in film. How many movies even pass the Bechdel Test? Such a low bar and yet Hollywood has trouble clearing it, time and time again. But back to today’s news. We must find a way to ensure widespread access to effective contraceptives. Health care should not be tied to employment. White male right wingers in this country think that corporations are people, and fetuses are people, but women? Meh. Like another woman noted on twitter, it feels like we’re living in a Margaret Atwood novel.

In other personal news, one week ago today my son left with his grandparents. RVing from Minnesota to the Pacific Northwest - for A MONTH. He’s been texting and updating his Facebook wall sporadically so I generally know what he’s up to. But wow. A month apart. The longest yet. I might be a bit of a wreck by the end of this. While he’s away Minnesota needs to dry out. Last week a mudslide shut down part of West River Parkway. A couple of weeks ago we drove out to my boyfriend’s family farm and saw so many sad flooded fields. A state of emergency was declared in 35 counties. And the parks and playgrounds in downtown St. Paul, near our old house, were completely submerged as the Mississippi crested. The seventh highest crest in 100 years. Gulp. On a related note, “the 2014 Minnesota Biennial reinstates the Minnesota Museum of American Art’s long tradition of surveying contemporary artistic practice through an open call process.” The final cut is being exhibited now, in downtown St. Paul near all the flooding. And it includes:

a piece that uses craft but also an element of audience participation is an installation by Sarita Zaleha. A comment on global warming, the piece includes a blanket equipped with sensors that turn on heat when you move the blanket to get inside. The installation also includes needlepoint works that spell out the names of hurricanes, commenting on the effects global warming has had on society.

Struggling to find five good things for this Monday. Maybe five interesting things?

I’m a long-time atheist but recently I had the closest thing possible to a religious experience. Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds returned to the State Theatre and were even more amazing than last time (in 2002). After that I saw two of my favorite local bands - comprised of my friends - in a sweaty basement on a Friday night and that was somehow even more life affirming. Oh yeah, and my Dad turned 70 last week on our shared birthday. I was able to go out to lunch with him and his wife, which was lovely. And to get out to Pizza Farm with fantastic friends the night before. I really have been slacking with the updates here. Oops.

Pizza Kitten!