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Tough Kids Love Sad Songs

It’s been one helluva week already. I am definitely not having fun. Yesterday my car wouldn’t start so I had to have it jumped (it’s an ongoing saga with Volvo and a class action lawsuit). But thank you, yet again, AAA. After getting the car running I backed out of the garage and the garage door broke. A spring snapped and it looks like the rusty rails are in rough shape as well. I share the garage with my duplex neighbor and his poor car is trapped in there. I am grateful it is our landlord’s responsibility and not mine (12 years of homeownership Hell was enough) but I’m not sure when that will be taken care of. Last night I parked in our driveway instead. This morning when I left for work my small car got stuck, hard, in the alley. It took another kind neighbor with a big Ford truck to tow me out. This is freaking APRIL! Spring! Allegedly. No wonder my mind is in wanderlust mode. I’ve moved forward on planning my solo trip to Rome for October. I’m flying into Dublin pretty cheaply. I’ve never been to Dublin so it will be fun to check out the city for a day or two before hopping on my RyanAir flight to Rome. Now I have something to look forward to again.

Tuesday’s Five Good Things:

If I am going to pull off my next solo trip in the Fall I’ve got to get back into miser mode until then, and work on my side hustle. Which means updating my other site,, and drumming up more photo gigs again. More TBD!


Sometimes It Snows In April

Well, I’m getting downright down with all these blizzards. Naturally my mind turns to travel. I came across this “How to live like a Local in Copenhagen, Denmark” post. If only. This time last year Spring had properly sprung in Minnesota. And I was preparing to leave for a few weeks of European adventures. This morning I went through photos from our global company meet-up last May, when it was unseasonably warm in Copenhagen. Somehow I never got around to uploading this batch. We sure have some delightful colleagues.

With this weather I definitely need Five Good Things (or more):

Yesterday I ventured out into the storm before things got too out of control. My brief bus ride to Uptown was straightforward. Enjoyed lunch and drinks with a friend before using MoviePass - for the first time - to see You Were Never Really Here. Joaquin Phoenix gave a solid performance but overall the film was more style than substance. And despite being written and directed by a woman it utterly failed the Bechdel Test. After the movie it took me an hour and a half to get home 20 blocks. Partially via very late city bus and the rest trudging through uncleared sidewalks with knee deep (for me) snowdrifts. And more snow is falling today. Hooray.

sunny by the canal

Window of Opportunity

My son’s final Spring Break of high school was last week. We didn’t venture as far this time, just to Colorado. But we both needed the change of scenery. Tooling around in the mountains in a RAV4 was just the thing. While soaking in some hot springs I was reminded that vacation life is the best life. But I have to endure the daily grind in order to support us, and hustle to scrape together funds for travel. I try to live in the now but my mind often wanders, daydreaming about my next trip. Doesn’t help that I signed up for Thrifty Traveler Premium. Daily emails show me deals I could get on flights to exotic locales. A few months ago they featured round trip airfare from Minneapolis to Budapest for just $390. I didn’t jump on it fast enough and missed the boat (or plane, rather - har). Just yesterday morning they sent out their regular newsletter with airfare deals to Rome for $431 round trip. I went out for my daily lunch walk and thought about Rome in October the entire time, barely paying attention to the podcast I was playing. When I came back in I was determined to grab that deal. Unfortunately within a half hour the flights to Rome had jumped back up to the $900 - $1200 range. Sad trombone.

It doesn’t help that this endless winter will be delivering another blow this weekend. Even our local meteorologists want nothing to do with it. It’s no wonder I’m turning to escapism more than usual, as evidenced by Today’s Five Good Things:

  • I’m so excited about this Andre the Giant documentary. Some day I want to visit his hometown of Grenoble, France and go for a ride in the cable car bubbles.
  • Hayley Kiyoko’s music is poppier than my usual fare but I can’t stop listening to Expectations. It’s SO good. And it helped send me back down the choreography rabbit hole on youtube.
  • Bill Hader’s unhappy hitman, Barry, is just what I needed. I want to hug him.
  • Legion season 2 has begun and is bringing back the beautifully weird to the MCU.
  • I’m curious about the movie Beirut, starring Jon Hamm (who also does narration for Legion season 2). Somehow it was shot with Tangier, Morocco filling in as the titular city. Despite being Lebanese I have yet to make it to Beirut but have visited Tangier.
Split, Croatia

Breaking the World Into Moments

Well then. I used to blog here regularly, from 1999 to 2014. Until Wordpress and PHP got into fisticuffs. Instead of wading into the fray and troubleshooting the issue I kinda just let this blog go. Social media had already taken over by that point. I hung on to this domain and its archives but it was my secret shame. Well, a publicly accessible secret shame. Since then I’ve haphazardly posted to my photo blog and kept my Five Good Things alive on Facebook but I have missed this outlet. And lo and behold! Somehow I’m able to log in and post again. I’m not sure why but I am thankful for it.

So much has changed since my last update here, back in November 2014. In the world at large and in my personal life. I couldn’t have imagined much of it. My little man is now 18 years old and graduating from high school, after enjoying his reign as Homecoming King last Fall. I left a company I mostly loved after ten years of employment and have been with my current company for over three years. A company that has more than tripled in size in that time. I’ve visited nine different countries since 2014 (and had only been to two of them before). My son and I wised up and started taking warm weather Spring Break vacations instead of going to gloomy wet places like Iceland or Seattle in March. Romantic relationships have come and gone. I’m still mostly on my own but that’s ok. Since my last post here I started seeing a therapist regularly, which has been challenging but incredibly helpful. I’m turning 45 soon and still don’t know exactly what I want to be when I grow up. But I have a much better idea of who I am, what I want out of life and what I need to do to make it all happen.

How about Five Good Things?

walk on the wild side

Deeds Not Words

On this election day I’m reminded that women in the U.S. have only been able to vote for less than one hundred years. So I will exercise that hard won right as I have many times before. But what about the right to walk down a public street without being harassed? Hollaback! - an anti-street harassment group recently made a video of a volunteer, a young woman dressed simply in a crew neck t-shirt and jeans, walking through NYC for 10 hours while being catcalled the entire time. This happened to me much more when I worked in the downtown areas of St. Paul and Minneapolis. But I experienced it just a few weeks ago, in front of my son. I was dropping him off at his Dad’s. We were on the sidewalk when a pickup truck full of bros rolled by and erupted in “whooooo lookin’ good girl!” And the like. Well, yes, I did try to look presentable as I was on my way to a funeral home for a wake. But my appearance didn’t warrant commenting upon. Especially in such a disrespectful manner from three strangers in a moving vehicle. It does seem like there’s more interest in addressing this problem lately. But naturally with it comes greater pushback from dismissive men. Not okay. From Media Matters for America:

We spliced together HollaBack!’s video depicting street harassment with clips of conservatives who defended it. This is how the right gives shelter to sexism.

How about five good things?

If you’re in MN there’s a nifty sample ballot / polling place finder tool. Nationwide there’s Get to the Polls.


The Abyss Gazes Back

We survived! My boyfriend and I took the lightrail to a show in the Warehouse District, on a Friday night that was also Halloween. After the show there were an appalling number of drunken revelers we had to push our way through. And far too many of them were pants-less. In 21 degree weather. This is Minnesota, people. I will never understand this behavior. Have you no self-preservation instincts? Or dignity? I wish more of those young ladies would have looked over these feminist costume ideas. Speaking of, I had an epiphany yesterday. The perfect Halloween costume idea! But I’m going to have to file it away for 2015.

Five good things:

  • Sneak a Peek Inside the “Witch’s House” of Beverly Hills. For the first time ever, Michael J. Libow shares pictures inside his home fit for Hansel and Gretel
  • What We Wore: vintage British street styles – in pictures
  • ZOMG Pee Wee Herman voices the Avengers 2 trailer, on Fallon. So good!
  • Also happy making, PJ Harvey covers Nick Cave’s Red Right Hand
  • Not a good tidbit so much as a bittersweet one. This week there was news that “Amelia Earhart Plane Fragment May Have Been Identified.” That evening a childhood friend messaged me. “You can finally finish your 6th grade high potential project!” I can’t believe he remembered my Amelia Earhart obsession. And oh High Potential. That was a strange program where a handful of students were pulled out of each grade level in our school district and brought together a couple of times a month. Which would have been great except it exacerbated our “smart kid” situations and caused the other kids pick on us more.

Yesterday my son’s school was closed, because of the end of the quarter. But it was nice having him with me for Halloween. We dressed up together, went out for lunch, stopped by my office in costume then saw The Nightmare Before Christmas on the big screen in a nearly empty theater. Afterward he volunteered to hand out candy to the neighborhood trick or treaters, while remaining in costume. That’s my boy!

Halloween 2014 at Clockwork

Meet Me in the Middle

Growing up in the 70s and 80s I remember popular music being omnipresent but not always grabbing me. Or, if it did, my parents were often horrified to find me singing along to something with mature content. Like eight year old me rocking out to the J. Giles Band’s Centerfold without having any idea what it was about. Similarly I’m pretty sure I enjoyed Eye of the Tiger just because Jimi Jamison was singing about tigers (but it was also very anthemic). These are strange nearly forgotten bits of childhood. If I hear one of those songs now I’ll realize I know all the words. But I process them differently as an adult. During a recent public radio pledge drive I found myself scanning stations on my car’s radio. I kept flipping back from one classic rock station to a golden oldies one. And it was like I was really hearing the songs for the first time. With maturity and life experience has come understanding. The pain of wronged lovers. Regret. Loss. Consequences for foolish actions. I get it now. I’ve been there. But some of the lyrics are still baffling. Like today, when I heard The Warrior by Scandal. “Your eyes touch me physically” - what? I can’t shake the mental image of some guy’s moist eyeballs actually making contact with my bare skin. So gross.

Five good or interesting items of note:

  • I have so much respect for this man. “How John Oliver won the Internet - Last Week Tonight has already surpassed other fake news shows of its ilk. Its secret? Long-form journalism” Watching John Oliver take on the sugar industry just in time for Halloween was so perfect. And immediately made me feel guilty for buying two bags of Halloween candy at Target. We should have just gotten glow sticks! Or toothbrushes. Or something else constructive and useful to hand out. Instead of this poison. I wonder if I saved my receipt.
  • Somehow I missed this over the summer but it’s pure genius. “Weird Al” Yankovic plays Isaac Newton in Epic Rap Battles Of History
  • This is so inspiring. “Old Masters: After 80, some people don’t retire. They reign.”
  • Terrifying but hilarious. “This is Deb, she sells handmade sweaters on eBay while looking like she’s being held hostage against her will.”
  • Since the beginning, in 2004, I’ve been a flickr user and fan. At times I’ve been disappointed in flickr, as will happen with a partner in any long-term relationship. But sometimes flickr surprises and delights me. As they did recently with Flickr PARK or BIRD. “We at Flickr are not ones to back down from a challenge. Especially when that challenge comes in webcomic form. And especially when that webcomic is xkcd. So, when we saw this xkcd comic we thought, we’ve got to do that

Oh crapple. I’ve long had lousy luck with iPhone cables. And the lightning cables are even less hardy than their predecessors. I’ve gone through at least five since the beginning of the year. The only thing that has reliably charged my phone is a little speaker dock. But that won’t sync my phone to my computer (and I can’t set up wifi sync until I get yet another working cable). “Prevent or fix frayed lightning cables.” I suppose. I quite like this one. But for now I’m going to try this sturdy looking one. And yes, I realize this is inconsequential non-news. But irritating just the same.

Devil's Tower, August 2014

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