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Saturday, January 3rd, 2015
10:59 am
Dear Diary,

for this New Year I gave my daughter the Game of Life. Looking back (or, rather, from the height of two rounds played), it was a rather dumb idea. Life, according to this game, is all about people and omnipotent external entities giving money for things like baking cakes and strutting in fashion shows, with low points of sometimes having to give money to strangers for adopting pet goats or deciding to get married. Oh, yeah, in this Life you can accidentally marry someone -- should you decide to do so. Then, if you're lucky, children fall from the sky into your car -- the one you're born into, along with two hundred dollars cash, just as the stork deposits you on the front steps of the college of your choice. The game ends in a stupefying limbo of retirement either in a millionaire's mansion, or on a ranch. Your choice!

On New Year's day my ex-husband's grandfather died. He was in his nineties, and despite being incredibly tenacious, he's been fading away for a while now. A patriarch who always kept his cards close to his chest, he fought in WWII as a teenager, became a surgeon, raised a son, and lived to see his great-granddaughter know who he is. A good life, I think, and yet I am sad, and a bit listless. I learned of the news squirreled away in a house in the middle of nowhere-upstate-New York, while my in-laws deal with all the peculiarities and necessities and weirdness of death back home, on the West Coast. I feel odd being away from them.

With chagrin, I guess, I found that my ex has about negative need of any sort of condolences coming from my side (though his remembering to say "happy new year" to every member of my family apart from me might have been a clue), and perhaps that's for the better. If only it were a game, one of us would've collected a few tens of thousands of dollars, either for spectacular insight, extraordinary composure, or lack of either.

But then the life we lead is not the sort where you get fired from being a teacher for sleeping on the job, only to become a rocket scientist the next morning -- and with exact same salary.

Happy New Year!

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Sunday, May 18th, 2014
7:36 pm - Bay To Breakers 2014
The city where I live is pretty small. Tiny, really: about seven by seven miles or so. Large parts of it are pretty suburban, so the actual city part is even smaller.

Today I ran the quintessential SF race: Bay to Breakers. As the name suggests, it starts at the San Francisco Bay, and crosses the town all the way to Ocean Beach -- Breakers. The course is about 7.5 mi long (12K), and race has been on continuously since 1912. The entire city dresses up in outrageous costumes, gets piss-drunk and has block parties.

I ran-ran it, except for 1 city block (I'll explain).

The course is not very hard: you start downtown, then after about 2 miles there's a pretty steep hill a few blocks long, then it's downhill, flatish-uphill for a while, and flattish-downhill through Golden Gate park, and then flat.

The Hayes hill took me a bit by surprise. I thought we were going to run on Fell (it's a street one south of Hayes), and there the hill is a bit steeper, but the highest point is on Steiner. On Hayes, the highest point is on one street over -- on Pierce, at the center of Alamo Square park, and I didn't know nor expect it. I am amazed over and over by proof of how much longer distance running is all about psychology -- and here it is -- again -- laid out clearly for me to see -- in my mind I was prepared to run up to Steiner and then run downhill. I ran up to Steiner, and there was another block to run. And I couldn't. I walked. I walked for a block or so, and only then resumed running. The next time I was aware of distance and space was when I ran through the 5 mi mark in the park (and then I tried to grab a drink without stopping, and kind of did).

I made a pretty mediocre time, I did run pretty slowly, but I did run.

…end of race with a friendCollapse )

some more notes --

A few weeks before the race, I had no idea what to do -- after overcoming various pains in my legs, my feet would start going numb after about 1.5 mi. I read somewhere that this is normally due to shoes being too small, as feet swell during running. I bought another pair of trainers, a size larger, but these weren't very comfortable (they were more rigid than what I liked and they gave me blisters), and my feet would still go numb. Then last week in Boston, I complained to a running friend that this is happening and she told me to cut my shoes! I did. Turns out the shoes I use for running (NB minimus) have a very narrow toe box, and cutting the ribbon that holds the box intact solved my problem. In addition, I now run in very loosely laced shoes.

During the race my feet did start to go tingly-numb at the top of that hill, but it went away after my brief walking interlude.

I did a practice run (4 mi or so) in Boston last weekend, and it was horrid. The air was awfully humid -- I returned with my fingers twice their normal size. I am not sure how you guys run in this weather, it was really really tough. In SF we're spoiled rotten with our fogs and dry air and mild temps. Today the weather was perfect for running.

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Wednesday, April 30th, 2014
8:55 am - Only Lovers Left Alive
What a feast for eyes and ears. Every shot, every moment, every scene — perfect.

The film starts with a subtle tag on your heart strings. You’re shown that little tufted thingie you forgot existed, the one on top of the record pole, one used to wipe dust off vinyl records. Unnamable childhood memories flood in, and suddenly you feel ancient, and alive, and alive forever — in summary, ready for the “Lovers Left Alive” experience.

A work of art, a gem of a movie, a contest between perfections of Tilda Swinton and Tom Hiddleston’s necks.

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Monday, April 14th, 2014
7:31 am - lytdybr; running
I need bigger running shoes, it seems (my feet swell ridiculously on longer runs). And better cushioned. May be.
Been running to Cabin Pressure episodes.
The other day my iPhone stopped abruptly, in the middle of a run, but I was still able to go on without stopping to fiddle with it. Surprisingly, I was able to be in my own head without panicking.

Distances are becoming easier, although I still haven't done over 4.5 mi, I think. On the other hand, I keep running in hills, pretty steep ones, too, so may be one thing will compensate the other.
Well, I am really no runner.

I am a boat adrift, with no sight of shore. Thrown here and there and may be a bit this way, unable to look at the stars to figure out where I am, because boats have no eyes.

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Sunday, March 23rd, 2014
10:59 am - On running
I am running on and off this spring, but much more consistently than I ever had before. When I was younger, running a mile three times a week for two weeks would instantly get me "in shape" -- whatever that means. My weight always yo-yoed a bit, on the one hand I still wear clothes I wore fifteen years ago, on the other hand they sometimes get too tight, and sometimes a bit loose.

Nowadays running makes no difference in my weight (and by weight I mean the appearance of weight, I don't own a scale), and it's a bit disappointing, but weight control is not the reason I run, so I keep doing it, circumstances permitting. To get stronger. To feel stronger. To overcome. To try and learn grace (again) at the onset of middle age.

I am not horrible at it, just not very good. I run slowly, I neglect to lift my knees, I pant. My boobs flap and my stomach is … well -- there. I know I have the capability to do it well, it's such a basic thing -- just go at it every day, train methodically -- there is an avalanche of literature on this very subject -- and eventually my stride will look like that of those gorgeous san franaciscans running in the Panhandle.

But I doubt I will ever do. Running is such a great narrative for everything else I've ever tried my hand in life. I am talented at many things; I am curious. And yet, yet, yet I never had the discipline or have the discipline to go deep enough, for single-mindedness to master -- coding, drawing, sewing, writing, dancing, guitar playing, french, hebrew, now -- running. I am always a bit or a lot out of my depth, always yearning to be just a step closer to mastery -- and never getting there.

With everything, everything, everything -- things get boring. I need to switch my attention to the next interesting thing I haven't mastered. It's a bit sad, really.

I was going to insert into this post a line about remaking flabby jewish girl, strike that, woman's legs into the legs of a runner -- but it doesn't fit anywheres. Oh well. Let it hang out here on its own, I'll bring it tea so it doesn't feel lonely.

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Sunday, March 9th, 2014
11:14 pm - Ski report
On a whim took a day bus to Kirkwood, southernish lake Tahoe ski resort. This is the deal -- you get on a bus at 5 am, sleep on the bus, ski, get back on the bus at 4:30 and are home by supper time.

The bus bits didn't work out quite like that, but the skiing was glorious.

I did another double-diamond run, and enjoyed it! The run was steep and narrow, and a bit with a rocky side. I had no choice but to do it to get back to my bus, and -- I did it. Slowly, steadily. Absolutely magnificent scenery from above the tree line. I was alone in the crevice, seemed like I was alone for miles on end -- and that made my inner me feel weightless.

Did a lot of black diamonds this time around. On the other hand, for the first time ever came to a run, looked down and decided not to do it. Skied uphill and took another route.

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Tuesday, March 4th, 2014
3:13 pm
leave it to honest tea to serve a bit of realness:
"The cure for anything is salt water: sweat, tears or the sea" -- Isak Dinesen (br. karen blixe).

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12:48 pm - Her :: back to the future
I went to see "Her" late last night, at a movie theater near my house. With trepidation, I admit: I was under the impression the movie is about made-up love, about falling in love with something you've made up; something that's tailored to you to such an extent that you can't help but love it; something that you love obsessively despite its being entirely the figment of your brainwaves.

I was hesitant to see a movie about origami.

This isn't what the movie about; not at all. Truth be told, it's a fairly conventional picture, quite a bit overdrawn, and is somewhat underwhelming. The movie is not even about love: it's about attachment, and exciting-deeper-than Mariana-trench relationships that run their course. "Her" (somewhat peripherally) makes a point about calm, underwhelming, subtle couplings: these are the ones that endure.

The movie is beautifully shot; the set design is brilliant; Amy Adams gives a beautiful performance, voice of Johansson is gorgeous; Olivia Wilde's cameo is nice, but nothing too special. Joaquin Phoenix tries hard, but he is somehow off. Too beautiful to play someone so dorky? Not sure, but I didn't quite believe him. This movie needed to be tightened, with a better script edit (yeah, I know it just got the Oscars for best original screenplay), shortened, and maaaaay be have different lead actor.

On the other hand I enjoyed my glass of red in a bar across the street, and a cig in the rain while walking there. Did I mention I love this city? I still do. Calm, enduring relationship, that's the aim.

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Thursday, February 27th, 2014
11:55 am
went skiing last weekend with G. (Heavenly, which really does deserve its name)

had my first double-black diamond experience: icy moguls at a steep angle. I can't say I finished (or started, or continued) on it gracefully -- I slid about 1/4 way down on my lovely behind. It was exhausting.

But black slopes are nice. Yep. I now enjoy black slopes -- provided no moguls and no ice.

Aaaand I still need to work on not turning my torso when I turn. And speed. And confidence.
However, I am doing alright in the orange-helmet department.

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Tuesday, February 18th, 2014
4:50 pm - SF
Feels a bit maniac, I know, but sometimes when I walk downtown San Francisco, I fall a bit in love with every passer-by, just for a second. All of them - men, women, the homeless.

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Tuesday, February 4th, 2014
7:06 pm
and then i wonder -- is there a bottom? where the fuck is it?
also, nice to have a shop 1/2 block from the house that sells cheap sweet wine.

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Monday, December 23rd, 2013
9:55 pm
If I could, I would write a story about memories that belong to no one but us. How lonely it is to be locked inside of something that only matters to you. I would write a short pretending to be fictional story about people falsely thinking they can be understood or understand, and how persistence of your unique memory contributes to the impossibility of being understood by those with whom one shares the most.

i mean, not always. there are those magic moments when consciousnesses touch, but these moments are so rare and so dear, and the memory of these gets corrupted just as much as any other memories, that I suppose these could as well be discounted.

tonight i danced and danced, and i thought and thought. i go to these dancing meditation classes when i get a chance, and today something clicked, and as I danced, I managed to get in touch with my inner Rashomon.

Funny, how one first feels and verbalizes this around the age of 16, and yet it doesn't go away, but becomes a life-long recurring theme.

Another thing that just occurred to me is that I sometimes have a fighting chance of reconciling my memories with my women friends; the men i've ever been in love with don't remember what i remember. never. and vice versa.

Tonight I find myself in my (very vivid) memory, on a bank of a river in an old french-y city, at midnight, looking up at a giant and ancient tree. As if it were yesterday. And I am so very alone in that memory.

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Monday, November 18th, 2013
10:44 pm - woe on me
found a Japanese hardware store in my neighborhood.
it has everything, including an extensive art supply section.

my imagination of what i could be doing with all that stuff is limited, but sufficiently greedy;
i have no time;
i only want to draw or doodle or make things when i am in the middle of other (very involved) projects.

woe on me. Luckily, the store is about seven blocks away, and that's quite a few blocks. Unluckily, my dentist is a mere block away from that place, and I will see him twice next month.

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Sunday, August 18th, 2013
11:40 pm
i know a lot of people; people who know other people who know people i know. extensive chains of people, interconnected in all sorts of ways imaginable or not.

i relate to people i know in certain ways; it's a labyrinth where the path to the next person is our mutual construction. weird that other people's paths to each other are so very different -- they turn left where mine turn right, hit a wall while mine keep going straight, and vice versa. custom-made, inexplicable and impossible to replicate puzzles.

Borges wrote on the subject so beautifully, i am only beginning to understand what that was about -- may be.

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Tuesday, July 9th, 2013
8:29 am - city
Definitely not the brightest I've ever done.

It was after nine pm, and I was alone at a Turk & Larkin trolley stop. The city was already dark, and the enclosure reeked of pee. Turk there is pretty narrow and is a bit claustrophobia-inducing. I stood on the outside of the stop and was thumbing the iPhone in the pocket of my fleece jacket.

I was nervous, yet I knew I was safe -- on the one hand it was a late evening in the Tenderloin, where the passer-bys mostly wore other-wordly expressions on their faces and haggard clothes on their backs; on the other hand, right across the street, a friendly Irish pub was lit brightly.

That evening I danced my heart out in an industrial studio overlooking San Francisco Central library, Market St., and a score of homeless men clustered around a BART station exit. Somehow it seemed a fitting continuation of the evening to be looking at a mural of a girl and a colibri bird across the street. There it was, right on the wall of the pub. I wanted to photograph it so very much, in spite of it being dark and me having an old iPhone for a camera.

I was so very out of place.

A man with a blue recycling container on wheels crossed the street toward my stop. Our eyes met briefly, and then he swerved towards the street garbage can on the other end of the stop. A short time later he started crossing the street again, in wide arcs, walking the roadway as if the recycling bin was his dance partner. I stepped onto the pavement, took my iPhone out and aimed at the mural. This is probably stupid, I thought -- after all -- I did remove my earrings a few minutes ago, lest they attract attention -- and what, the iPhone wouldn't?

I took the picture. And another one. One with a flash. They were all pretty horrid.

In a little while, the trolley came, I got in, rode it home until mistakenly exiting two stops too short of mine, smack in the middle of two large project developments.

San Francisco is quiet and beautiful in the evening. The fog was high, and the buildings which I passed in my car numerous times looked unfamiliar and magical when passed by on foot.

A pack of rowdy teenagers was getting ready to cross Geary; I crossed Divisadero instead, and soon enough was home.


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Wednesday, June 26th, 2013
12:45 am - End of MM season 6
Cardinal rule of Mad Men:

if in the middle of an episode you, the viewer, feel hopeful and amused and elated (like the characters on screen), you know it's all a setup, and by the end of the episode you and them will be grave, disappointed and shock 'n awed.


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Thursday, June 13th, 2013
1:59 pm - Origami
I've recently became enamored with origami. For a while there I folded non-stop, filling my little two-room house with paper cranes and lilies, my favorites.

I was folding and folding, sometimes unfolding, to make the creases more perfect, enveloping myself into a cocoon of protective beauty while going through yet another separation -- from what's so far has been my life's work, from Europe, from people who are dear to me, and whom I will likely not ever see.

but back to origami, my constructed beauty.

That's the thing -- these beautiful things I make myself. Put together into an exquisite shape to please my own eyes -- although really -- when one actually looks at what it is -- when one takes that exquisite shape apart -- there's nothing but crumpled paper. Regular, trash-worthy, crumpled paper.

You see, this duality? Perfection and regular nothingness, transformed by the force of my own hands and taste.

For a long time I couldn't let go of a construct I made, a thing of beauty that was ever so fleeting -- and it was also sad and useless and unproductive -- and it was holding me back. A few days ago, I realized that this thing I was holding on to (in spite of all efforts to let go) was just like origami -- yeah, I make it into this exquisite thing, but there's really nothing but crumpled paper there -- au vent mauvais -- and there's nothing --

and I actually let go, and the life itself became just a tad more beautiful.

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Sunday, May 12th, 2013
2:51 am - Summer in San Francisco
...is here. Whisps of fog flying past my window.


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Monday, May 6th, 2013
2:47 pm - Mad Man general
god, tlo are annoying with their moralizing! yes, Don is the same. What they fail to see is that everybody is the same. That's one of the life's freaking greatest mysteries, how everything is ever-changing, yet everyone is always, always, to the core, the same. If they fail to see that, they should re-read their own blog throughout the years, and see how much they changed -- through a change of platform, fame, exposure, taste, audience, blah blah blah. Not an iota, not really.

when we were young, N. once said, "no one changes, they just become more" -- and the longer I live, the more true I find that to be. We strive for change; we understand things -- about ourselves, the others and the world, and yet our insides harden into whichever way we're predisposed (unless a major neurological disorder's present, and then it's anyone's guess which way the wind will blow).

MM is so very good about showing this; so very good about playing and replaying that, it makes it what it is -- as close of an approximation to showing what real life's like as any epically good book. Whining about Don staring at the floor complaining he doesn't love his children? Don will be 90 and would still do shit like that, no matter what he understands about himself, his children or the world around him. Should we be surprised he will never become Captain von Trapp? -- but it almost seems like TLo expect the show to succeed only if this kind of character transformation occurs.

yet, in the same review they acknowledge that the major theme of the show is everyone remaining the same -- so TLo do understand -- and yet gripe about how boring are the ways in which the show makes "no one changes" clear.

Au contraire, mes amis, these are exactly the ways in which MM entertains and succeeds.

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Sunday, April 21st, 2013
5:20 pm
started exercising again. chose my most available subject, as usual.

I haven't done self-portraits for close to ten years; when i did them then, oftentimes they used to look older than me. now somehow i can't help but make myself look younger.

still am struggling with drawing hair volume and overall texture. well, as i said -- exercising.

picsCollapse )

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