Me. Annoyed.

30 Tishri, 5771

To: Marsha
From: Appetite
Subject: Out of Office

Dear Marsha,

First of all, a Shana Tova to you! May you be inscribed in the Book of Life for 5771 (and sorry about being so late to say that).

Now I must move on more pressing issues. I regret to inform you that I will be taking a leave of absence, effective last Sunday (you probably noticed). Consider it a "mental health" vacation that was very much needed. I apologize for the lack of notice.

Please know that my complaints are not primarily with you but with my co-workers. Your small intestine has always lived in its own universe, causing no end of suffering to both of us but especially to your large intestines, to whom I have the deepest sympathy. Unfortunately this brazen behavior, left unchecked, has also caused your stomach to act out. I believe at this point it's mainly for attention, but in the specific case the pyloric valve may just not have the right work skills for its occupation, as it never seems to know when to be open and when to be closed.

As you know, we've all been doing well together for the last few years thanks to SSRIs and tranquilizers. I know you haven't let anyone come down the office since your last colonoscopy, but Klonopin was particular effective at mellowing the mood, though I could have done without the stomach putting up Bob Marley posters and the esophagus blasting Pink Floyd at five in the morning. This are only minor workplace complaints. Frankly I'm only down there to deliver messages, so I have no platform on which to file a complaint about the atmosphere, provided things are working properly.

I can't point to a specific moment, but things started heading downhill around your start of Crestor, of which your heart is a big fan. We all understand that you need to take it for your cholesterol and that you've exhausted other medicinal options and that you can't change your diet due to, well, our behavior, but it is like a punch to the gut. It's not Colestid or anything, but it's hard to take. We also weren't thrilled, collectively, with you adding fruits and vegetables to your diet during the holidays because they were served to you. Not to put all of the blame on you - I know the social and nutritional pressures are tremendous - but we've been in the processed foods camp for a long time and I don't perceive any switch.

It's not my intention to make your gastroenterologist's job too easy, so I won't go into the squabbles that led to my departure. I will say that it will do me a world of good to be removed from the situation. In my absence, please remember to consume at least 1500 calories and 25 grams of fat a day, even if it's the last thing you feel like doing.

Your Appetite
  • Current Music
    Soundgarden - Black Rain

Pennsic Report (6 Elul, 5770)

First of all, a full set of photos are up on flicker. I didn't go crazy photographing everything I saw because I've photographed the same things over and over again in previous years.

1. Sunday. Got a surprisingly early start (10 am) and the drive took me 6 hours, which is about as short as it gets. That gave me 4 or so hours at Pennsic before I headed to the hotel, long enough for me to talk to people, walk around, and listen to Monday's battle plans. And buy a new gorje, as the old one was choking up on me. The new one still does a little, but not nearly as much, and only if I lean my head back.

2. Monday. The "break the siege" battle, which was new. We had to charge out of the castle and capture some flags in the "town" of hay barrels or something. The rules were complicated, involved points and different amounts of resurrects, and was obviously designed by gamers. Needless to say, one position (defending) was immensely easier than the other (attacking) and we lost, then switched sides for the second battle, then won. This usually happens when they introduce new battles. I only stayed for the first, as it was long and confusing and I wanted to save my strength for the woods battle. I went to a class on Russian icon painting, took a nap, stayed for the battle plan for the woods battle, then went home and sacked out.

3. Tuesday. The woods battle. Wow, it was way harder to get up on Tuesday even though I was only waking up half an hour earlier. Still, I did it, then trudged out to the new woods area, which of course was a clusterfuck of confusion at the beginning because it was a new area (people knew the old woods too well) and none of the marshals could agree on where we should start. I also learned that nobody knows how to identify poison ivy, because everyone claimed there were fields of it and no one got poison ivy. AND I learned the one thing I learned in girl scouts, how to identify poison ivy, was incorrect. Anyway, holy shit was this a hard (but fun) battle, mostly because there was no water except at resurrection point, which was really far away from where I had to guard the banner, so it was about an hour and a half before I said, "Let's find someone to kill me so I can get some damn water!" If you play defensive shieldman, which is what I do to defend the spearmen of Drachenwald, you don't die a whole lot. Somehow I made it through the whole battle, the walk home, and then managed to get through an egg tempura painting class without passing out. Then I went back to the hotel and passed out.

4. Wednesday. Ow, ow, ow. No part of me didn't hurt and I got in fairly late, but there was no war points battle and I wouldn't have fought it if there was. I got to a manuscript illumination painting class, which makes it a record I think for how many classes I got to in one Pennsic. Then midnight madness, and shopping.

5. Drive home. Highlights: didn't take that long, only 7 hours. Lowlights: speeding ticket, first in my lifetime. The officer was a nice guy and wrote down a speed way lower than what I was actually going on the ticket.

Other issues:

1. The main contraversy this year, or at least the one I was involved in, was waterbearing. Somewhere in SCA corpora there's a guy whose job it must be to sit around thinking up ways to sue Pennsic, and then activities or groups to ban to make sure that doesn't happen. Three years ago it was ciurgeons. This year it was water bearers. Not the actual act of water bearing, but the guild responsible for it. We were told we could be part of, or organize, any "group" of water bearers because if they were an identifiable organization, they could somehow be sued. As a result, water bearing was reliant on uncoordinated volunteers and a total fucking mess. I've never been so totally reliant on my own kingdom's water bearers, especially because we're such a small kingdom at Pennsic and sometimes we don't have water bearers, but by the woods battle everyone who wasn't fighting was drafted in. The siege battle notably lacked people who knew what they were supposed to do. When I went to the end of the combat area and screamed, "Water!" I heard one water bearer in front of a cart of unopened jugs turn to another and say, "We're not going to go to them - they have to come to us." Jesus Christ on his throne, lady, you could at least open the jug, put the straw in it, and cross the 5 feet required to come to me, person sweating to death in a suit of armor. Then the Drachenwald water bearers showed up and basically saved the day.

The woods battle, in reaction to the siege battle, we were overstaffed if anything, and the crowd packed the resurrection point. Getting the water itself was still a problem, because Cooper's just dropped it somewhere and no one knew where it was or how to organize people to get it, but everyone brought their own stuff pretty much.

The third day, there were tournaments and small combats, so everyone assumed they could take the day off from water bearing, apparently, and a lot of people got sick. Sven (a duke in Drachenwald and a somewhat legendary fighter) ended up in an ambulance, on a saline drip.

So, guy who is responsible for coming up with imaginary lawsuits, FUCK YOU.

2. Art. No one knew how to paint Tibetan thangkas, but the merchant tent where they have professional manuscript illuminators were more than happy to help me figure out what I needed to buy based on instructions I pulled off the internet and what I've read over the past two months. They were also really, really excited to see someone in the SCA get into this art at Pennsic. I bought some rabbit skin glue from them and an embroidery bracket from someone else and got instructions on how to make period gesso. It's going to be some trial and error, but I'm going to try.

3. I was sitting out in the woods playing scout and I sat down on a log and started talking to someone else, who asked me where I was from in Drachenwald (I had a taberd on). I said, "Israel," and she got really excited. Apparently it's gotten around that Israel sends one fighter every year, as she wasn't the only person to have this reaction. Awesome. Hail Ma'ale Giborim!

Me. Sort of.

9 Av 5770

Two important rulings from my rabbi today:

(1) Using Tibetan mala beads only to manage chronic pain, if I have no intention to use them for worship: Permitted.

(2) Painting the Buddha and Tibetan demon protectors if I have no intention to worship them or sell them to someone who would worship them: Permitted.

I suspected the answers but it's important to have a ruling.

On another note, Tisha B'av is a pretty good day to watch the movie Ikiru.
  • Current Mood
    okay okay
Me. Sort of.

Abandon All Hope, Ye Who Enter Here (7 Av 5770)

Here's my spoiler-free commentary for Inception: If you're going to to see it, take some advice. While you're watching, if you notice something that doesn't make sense, don't obsess over it. Totally forget about it and go along with the crazy movie's crazy logic, because the movie is much more enjoyable that way. Just let it go, man.

Also, lower your expectations a bit. It was still great, but I was underwhelmed.
  • Current Mood
    awake awake
Me. Sort of.

24 Tammuz, 5770

This morning I went to get a hug from Amma, the hugging saint. Normally I don't like to be hugged, but I make an exception for saints. Or supposed saints internationally renowned for their hugging.

I found out she was coming to NYC from a pamphlet in the kosher Indian restaurant I eat at, and the dates were convenient. Then I said, "Maybe I'll wake up around 11:30, catch the end of the darshan (hugging sesion) before 2." Instead I magically woke up on my own at 8, and rushed downtown while taking advantage of my body's confusion. Doors opened at 10, we were supposed to be there at 9 (when it was already 90 degrees and climbing) to get numbered tokens. By the time I got there at 9:10 they were already up to the letter K, and only giving them out to "people who haven't gotten a hug this summer." 

If I had known it was going to be another 4 hours of listening to chanting and sita guitar-playing, I might have passed. But I didn't. 10 am, she came in and there was a brief (like, 5 minute) meditation session led by someone who could speak English. The crowd was about 50/50 actual Indians/white Americans. A lot of people were buying and immediately putting on Indian clothing, but I wasn't into spending tons of money beyond the donation I made. Then we waited until our letter was put up on the sign. And waited. And waited. To be fair, it was a very relaxed atmosphere - you could sit 5 feet away from Amma and watch her give hugs if you wanted to (I'm used to the Dalai Lama's high security so this was pretty novel). There was a cafe downstairs selling vegetarian Indian food. There were some need things in the stands to look at, and some strange things, like ordinary socks and nighties worn by Amma (gross) being sold for charity. I want to say things were overpriced, but I really shouldn't. It all went to charity and I should remember I usually shop discount online or in some hovel store. Things were probably normally priced.

Finally K7 came up, and suddenly that line moved really fast, because next thing I knew I was being told to kneel in front of her (so she could reach me easily, she's not very tall) and open my arms wide by putting them on the chair so she could envelope me in a hug (she's very large). My head was buried in her armpit, which was actually a much nicer feeling than I'm making it sound. She said something to me, presumably not in English, with incredible devotion. At this point, I'd read in accounts of her, you're supposed to ask for a wish, but as that would be avodah zora, I didn't. Actually, I said to her, "I wish you a happy, healthy life" as she released me, though it was sort of garbed by the attendants rushing me out. Jews can bless anybody. We just can. It's stronger on your birthday, and the strongest on your wedding day, which is why it's customary for women to go to brides for blessings.

And that was it. I was a little underwhelmed, and eager to get out of there, because if anything will make you want to put a bullet through your brain it's 4 hours of sitar music. It was only when I stepped out and returned to normal life on the New York City streets did I release how peaceful I felt and how real the devotion was inside that makeshift Ashram on 34th Street.
Me. Sort of.

13 Tammuz, 5770

I recently read an article in Newsweek about the way our brain ages, and according to them, it's all downhill from here. Basically I peaked around 21, memory-wise and reasoning-wise. It's depressing as hell, even for a Newsweek article. (You could rename most Newsweek articles, "Trouble Ahead") I don't want to get old. Fortunately, this gives me more a license to continue treating my body with a chemical and preservative-based diet. Fuck, years 70-90 do not sound good. Maybe I don't want to be around for them.

Mentally preparing myself for next week. The closing date on Aristotle Vampire is June 30th, meaning that's when Katie has asked publishers to get back to her, and we're waiting on six. We only need one an acceptance, but I doubt we'll get six (I'm starting  doubt that we'll get one), so it'll be a roller coaster of a week, emotionally, that will be either up and down or a straight shot down into the well of not getting my sci-fi published.

In other news, anyone want to see a movie this weekend?
Me. Sort of.

14 Sivan, 5770

I am really enjoying reading all of the negative reviews of Sex and the City 2, a movie I have no plans to see. The first reason is that negative reviews are always far more interesting than positive reviews. The second reason, I can't really explain, I just want to see it fail. Badly. The zeitgeist is past; if they were really so attuned to fashion, they would know that they should go away and never come back.

I enjoyed Sex and the City. My mom did, too, but she was embarased to admit it, so I would tape it, and then she would shyly ask me for the tape "if I happened to have it around." And then she would totally watch it. It certainly got better as it went along, trying to tackle issues while still being the show we know and loved, which for the most part it did successfully.

At it's heart, though, I felt it was a profoundly sad show. That's actually one of the reasons I liked it - it had meaning to me. These four women who were supposed to be my feminist icons (yet another explanation as to why I won't consider myself a feminist) were not flawed so much as deeply unhappy in an unsettling way. People seem to forget, with all the reruns and the famous jokes, that a lot of episodes ended on a sad, or downright depressing, note. Until the final seasons, none of these sexy, rich, fashionable women living in the greatest city in the world for who they were could find happiness. Miranda didn't want to be pregnant, or didn't know how to feel about it because she was so focused on her career and not totally in love with the guy who got her pregnant. Charlotte, who desperately wanted a baby, was barren. Samantha held herself up purely on her self-confidence, to the point where she blazed through breast cancer (except for one memorable breakdown), but you always knew that if she didn't find a guy and settle down, her life was eventually going to suck. And Carrie couldn't decide what she wanted, even though she had everything - an insanely nice apartment, way too much for a weekly columnist or whatever her do-nothing job was, a ton of shoes, and the constant attentions of various attractive and supportive guys.

The show got really popular right after I came home from a trip to Israel where I was feeling particularly frum, and it occurred to me, from my super-religious perspective, that while religion might not have been the solution to their problems, the fact that their lives were totally devoid of spirituality was certainly not a help. They lived on the most transient of things - clothing, jewelry, disposable boyfriends - and were convinced that that train would keep on chugging forever. Until the final two seasons, any attempts to deal with life's difficulties were an unmitigated disaster that could somehow be solved over what looked like a very calorie-heavy breakfast for some very slim ladies.

In the end, the biological imperative - find a mate, gather resources, produce children - couldn't be delayed any further. Miranda married, Charlotte converted to Judaism and adopted, Samantha found a guy who was for reasons beyond my understanding completely devoted to her, and Carrie finally agreed to be with Mr. Right as more than just an unromantic couple. That to me was a good ending to the show. I didn't feel the need to see the movie. The stories were done for me. They weren't going to all ride off into the sunset, but I was done with their struggles. At least when they were single, they only hurt themselves. I didn't want to see them when there was more at stake.

Also, the movie is set in Abu Dabi (but filmed in Morocco because the title alone got them banned from the UAE, as they were similarly banned in Dubai, the original setting for the movie). I don't think the basic tenets of Islamic culture, much as I might not agree with them, deserve the punch in the face that is a Sex and the City movie. Everyone Draw Mohammad Day is more up my alley.
Me. Sort of.

Stuff coming up (12 Sivan, 5770)

Long, awesome weekend. Mina permed in the Isles. There's only two sessions left in the game, one of which I can't make, so it was time. Always take the chance to go to your own funeral.

Coming up: Tomorrow night (Tuesday, May 24) I have 2 tickets, courtesy of my dad's mis-scheduling adventures, to go see Woody Allen talk about stuff at the 92nd Street Y. If you want to go, it's at 8 pm and I have a free ticket for you.

Also, does anyone in NYC have plans for Memorial Day Weekend? I'm wide open. Have a ton to do up until then, but then my calendar's open.