Sunday, August 31, 2008

I can't stop listening to

Paul Simon's Further to Fly

I adore the lyrics in this song... there isn't so much a narrative - just lovely bits of language.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Oh you silly funders

I am a grant writer.
I generally like it.

This is what I hate about it.

Most funders want to see a plan for "self-sustainability."
Usually, this consists of you saying that fees from the program will cover costs or that you are "identifying and securing additional funds."

I understand that they are working from the "Teach a man to fish" principle, and there are LOTS of worthy programs out there and they can't fund them all.
It does makes sense that it's better to fund a program that may generate its own income.
There's one glaring problem with that concept.

If you are a funder, you are funding nonprofit organizations.
The nonprofit sector sprung up to provide services that do not exist elsewhere - they aren't governmental and they often can't survive in a capitalist system.

If my organization offered our product at market value, few could afford it. But we, as a community, have decided that our product is a good thing and because our product is arts and culture - the government has offered the incentive of tax exemption to help keep its costs lower.

Except it still costs more than the market will bear, so we have to raise income from those who want to see it continue and are willing to subsidize the product by making it available at a lower cost.

If what we did was sustainable, it would thrive in the capitalist marketplace and therefore not require subsidy.

Consider a clinic offering free behavioral health services to those lacking health insurance. Until there is a systematic change that allows for universal health care, this clinic will always depend on donations to ensure the program's survival. What is their "sustainability plan?"

As a funder, you could choose to invest your dollars in advocacy to change the system - but the band aid is still necessary until the system changes.

So, sure - we're all trying to increase our sustainability - but wouldn't the organization's resources be better used towards meeting the mission than paying for someone (or a whole department) whose job it is to constantly look for new money.

Why not just decide to fund it and FUND IT.

It's a difficult series of choices for both sides, but STOP ASKING US TO BE SOMETHING WE ARE INHERENTLY NOT, which is consistently self-sustaining.

If we were in the business of turning a sustainable profit, we'd be drilling oil or investing in hedge funds, not bringing arts to students or providing free health care.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Student Loans

An article in the NYTimes about student loan debt.

I didn't really like the tone, it seemed that those they interviewed were trying to get out of paying and it seemed to be focused on bancruptcy.

I have oodles of student loans, from my masters degree. But, I am proud to say that I paid off my undergraduate loans before allowing myself to even THINK about a graduate degree. I also had consumer debt from 3 years of free-lancing (following a layoff) and was living at 50% of the wage I made prior to that change.

The masters was my way out of low-wages (I was in the arts as a crafts person). As an arts administrator, I now earn 70% more than I did at the job I was laid off from, 300% more than I did as a free-lancer.
As a side note, how awful is it that the further you get from having a specific skill, one that ties you more deeply to the mission of an arts and cultural institution, the higher your salary goes?

Can you build museum quality mounts and handle priceless artifacts? Here's your $11 an hour.
Can you build an excel spreadsheet and schedule meetings? Here's $35,000 plus benefits.

But I digress.

I finally sought help to get a grip on the consumer debt - but they could not negotiate with Sallie Mae in the same way they could with my other lenders. If fact, they said they couldn't even try.
At 3% and 4%, consolidating my loans didn't make sense, as it would at least double my interest.
Other than consolidating, my options with Sallie Mae are forebearance or paying in full.
If you pay an amount smaller than the monthly bill, they send you into default.

There's no middle option for those who want to pay, but require a period to time to pay something between nothing and everything.

And I think that is a huge mistake.

Truly shared space

Given my attentiveness to the responsibility of sharing space, I love this article found by

I had heard about the Shared Space philosophy on NPR in 2003 or 04 (I recall a long discussion about this concept with someone I really need to track down again) and loved the idea of no rules creating hyper-awareness.

It's sort of like the rules of water.
On the water, the right of way goes to the vessel that cannot change course as quickly.
Speedboats must yield to sailboats.
Jet skis to kayaks.
And EVERYBODY yields to freighters.

For the most part, not knowing what someone else is going to do (or even knowing if they are aware of the rules) makes you a hell of a lot more aware and careful. Add to that a lack of "lanes," since on open water there are infinite navigational options.

I think our reliance on lanes and lights creates a false since of safety... which means less attention is paid.

So yeah, make downtown Cleveland a Shared Space, I'm up for the experiment...

UPDATE: As an aside regarding safety and attentiveness, there was this great New Yorker essay about SUVs from 2004. It talked about the assumed safety that drivers feel due to the womb-like nature of the vehicles. One of the ideas it posed was to not worry about the small, fast two-seaters on the road, since due to their size and lack of height, they must be more attentive drivers than those in high, well-upholstered behemoths (Buick Braggadocio, anyone?). The concept of safe=distracted really resonated with me at the time. Especially since I was making a daily commute on 480... I always felt like a bug between the 18 wheelers and SUVs, on the verge of SQUISH at any moment.

Bringing calm

I went to visit my friend and the new baby today.
It was a good thing - well-timed for both sides.
I needed a calm couple of hours and wordless human connection.
That is exactly what a baby can offer - especially someone else's baby.

K is doing well, but still experiencing the huge challenge of being a new mother who's just had surgery.
Everything physical hurts, everything mental is new and emotions are a roller coaster.
Luckily the Little Man is very charming and totally worth her (and everyone else's) efforts.

It was nice, I got to spend time with them while they were both awake, and then she took a nap and I hung out with the Little Man. He eventually succumbed to the warmth of a lap and the sound of a heartbeat and fell asleep.

L (the father) asked if he could go for a walk, and returned amazed that there was life outside of the four walls of the nursery.
I never knew how challenging those first weeks are for new parents, and I give them credit for standing upright at all.

I used the hours to sit quietly and think (he really is a good sleeper), which is something I never let myself do. So it was a symbiotic visit: I got to give myself the gift of a quiet afternoon and they were free to eat and shower and sleep, at least for a little while.

My mother asked with much anticipation if, following in K's footsteps, I was feeling more maternal.
"Not really."

But I do feel alot more connected and calm for the experience.

Thanks, Little Man.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Swimming for water

At 21, this woman has biked across the county, ran in the Australian outback and plans to row the Atlantic.

She's my freaking hero.

Thursday, August 21, 2008


Like most women, I have a weight/self-esteem identity war constantly waging in the nether regions of my mind.
Sometimes I think I just need to own it.
Sometimes I think I am a horrible person who wasted a perfectly healthy body.
Sometimes I think it's not too late.

That said, I thought this was a fascinating comparison of women's bodies, weights and BMIs...

It doesn't take much...

Click to enlarge

From 9 Chickweed Lane.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Worth 1,000

Courtesy of XKCD

First session

I attended my first "Behavioral Health" session yesterday and it was intense.
It's going to be a process that will completely change how I interact with the world - in a good way.
But I have to make difficult choices, some were made last night, but I'm hopeful that the outcome will be a better, fuller life.

Here's to the unknown...

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Because the story is everything

I love a good story.
And like anything else the delight is in the details.
It's never just a man in a room, it's man in bespoke three-piece linen suit, edges slightly frayed from wear, sitting with a little more elegance for the cut, in a room filled with souvenirs of a life fully lived.

I never fill a room with "stuff," I fill it to tell a story.
Those stories vary - some tell an honest history of me, some tell of the life I wish I had lived, and some point to the life I plan on living... when I get around to it.

Most of my themes revolve around the train of thought that certain experiences indicate a particular strength of character.

I'm partial to stories of ex-pats, especially early 20th century women who go from genteel society to pioneer. Delicate flowers who leave the superficial debutante scene to keep house at the mercy of an untamed land. Osa Johnson, Grace Crile, Beryl Markham, Karen Blitzen and Elspeth Huxley are the keepers of some of my favorite stories.

So, little surprise that when I was introduced to the J. Peterman catalogue circa 1994, I was entranced. To me, it was so much more than the ridiculous narratives that accompanied the vague sketches, it was the inherent lack of concern that the whole thing had for the opinions of anyone else.

The clothes were from the closet of someone who eschewed the look of the moment and wore a hand-made suit handed down from her mother, or the caftan she wore on weekends of her three-month safari - it was the closet of the sincere eccentric I was in training to become.

Years passed, Seinfeld made it the butt of so, so many jokes - and Peterman eventually went bankrupt. But I started watching his website.. and first he continued to sell his cologne and the duster... and slowly, kept adding merchandise over the years.

I'm happy to share that it seems to be back, and as romantic as ever...

Between the years 1906 and 1939, a trickle, then a light rainfall, then a downpour, of Englishmen, Germans, Scots, and some remarkable women, began to fall upon the immense gorgeous plateau of East Africa.
Some came for a year, and stayed a lifetime. Some came to farm; or make a fortune; or to put something awful far behind. Don’t ask what.
All came to start life over again. Fresh.
Discovered they hadn’t been expelled from a Garden of Eden after all, but were just now entering one.
That first night they lay awake listening, hearing Africa, hearing for the first time how to hear.
And how to read a flattened blade of grass: who or what had passed through here; and exactly how long ago.
It was paradise. It lasted three decades. Days of laughing, dancing, talking all night; ostrich omelettes the morning after; walking thirty miles to see an ocean of oryx, a river of hippos; flying low over a sea of wildebeest; driving among elephants in a maharajah’s 3-axle Buick; great luxury; great simplicity.
We couldn’t bring back the era, but here are some of the clothes, judiciously updated for today’s Karen Blixen.

I'm not quite as smitten with it as I was 14 years ago, but I still very, very much appreciate the ideal of the people he intends to sell to - who we are, where we've been and what we can eventually become.

Happy Birthday!

I've mentioned before that my oldest and dearest friend was pregnant.

Not anymore!

Look at that beautiful face...

Friday, August 15, 2008

Righteous indignation - be gone!

So I'm starting therapy on Tuesday. I've been before, but more for career counseling and less for personal fixing. There's quite a bit going on that could seriously use an objective viewpoint: parents, self-perception, relationships, blah blah blah.

But one of thing I really need to get some feedback on is my righteous indignation.

I get that way, more often than not, when dealing with strangers in a public place.
Especially if we're moving.
Moving is the worst.
Things that trigger it the most... ROAD RULES.

I'm not a perfect driver, not even close.
But I've never viewed it as a competition either.
I let people merge, I wait for pedestrians when it's a "Walk" and I wait for the person ahead of me in the parking garage to park without riding up them in a rush.

And yes, sometimes, when I'm in a hurry, it's teeth-grindingly annoying.
But, whatever - rules of the road.

ANYWAY - the righteous indignation.
Because I follow the rules of the road, I get REALLY REALLY RAGEY when I see someone blatantly ignoring them.
Take for instance pedestrians on their way to the Indians game.
I've been dodging those goddamned Indians fans all week.
And I've HAD IT.

Tonight, left turn arrow for me, "Don't Walk" for them and a pack of them cross.
And I know that's not remotely the best response.
But goddamn it, I wait (with eye-rolling from friends) until the sign says "Walk."

I'm not pissed because they're not following the rules, I'm pissed because despite my own urge to not look like an idiot waiting for a long light, I wait. And I look like an idiot.
But I know the one time I walk, I'm gonna be in the wrong and staring at the business end of a bus I didn't see.
And I know that my imminent squish would be my own fault.

But this pack - they shook their fists and looked at me - a car - on a road - with a green arrow - as though I was driving across their front lawn and headed for picture window.

How can I be possibly be wrong in BOTH scenarios?
And yet, I feel that I am.

That is the core of the rage and righteous indignation.
As the ped, it's my fault if I get hit, but turn the tables and I'm still apparently at fault.

So yes, therapy.
Less taking things personally - less stress - more good.
I can't wait.

Oh hell yes

A bag full of Phelpsian eye candy at NYMag.

From the accompanying commentary...
CHRISTAL: From far away, it's like his body is one of those long balloons you make animals out of, except for someone filled it with water and gerbils.
CHRISTAL: Who are constantly squirming around, trying to get out.

So if Phelps is made from gerbils, and Phelps makes me frisky... does that mean gerbils make me... um... frisky?

(this is why I never liked story problems in math)

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

This is the last post about this

...I promise.

Ok - finished the cowl.

And added beautiful vintage buttons that have been begging for use.

Love me, love my cowl.

It's a hat, too!

So versatile!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Obviously an obsession

I can't put this goddamned yarn down.
It's completely charmed me.

I decided on a cowl, so I could wear it inside and out come fall and winter.
Then I tried a rib, and loved how it striped.
So I frogged it.
And tried a chevron pattern that would highlight it even more.
(I'm aestheically greedy)

It deserves better lighting, but here's where I left it tonight.

Totally, completely addicted to handspun...

I even splurged on another skein.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Order up!

I got my yarn! I got my yarn! I got my yarn!

A heaping helping of handspun yarny goodness from Nessie Knits.

Close up (because you can't help but want to bury your face in it).

And she sent a sample for playing, too!

I feel so much better now.

Shocking revelations

I spent the weekend reading my own personal book of revelations.
Nothing truly horrible happened, but I became aware of some very, very ugly character flaws.
Which is everyone's worst nightmare, isn't it?
...that after you throw back your head and howl, wailing on with righteous indignation, only to see that you were in the wrong.

It's kind of numbing - but strengthening, in its own way.

Friday, August 8, 2008


The most beautiful house I've ever seen.

Great backstory, too.


I love Olympic bodies...

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Yarn makes it all better

I had kind of a crap ass morning.
I won't go into details, but it involved tears and hiccups.
To recover, I went to Ravelry to peruse the joys of handmade and found myself staring straight into the most delicious window of yummy yarny goodness.

I never understood the propensity of knitters to call yarn "yummy," but when I saw her colors and names (she had one called Disco Barbie!) "yummy" was the only word that sufficed.

It's like when I describe Lush stores... "it's like a cheese shop - except the cheese is candy and candy is soap."

It's like that - only yarnier.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Carl sends his love

And some muppets...

And since we've debuted Carl's tux (with vintage buttons, thank you very much) - I'm happy to share the picture perfect interspecies love that occurred following the fitting...

Important news for suburbanites coming to Tremont!


Learn more here.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Big Button Cardi

Here's the new sweater I started...
The perfect project for a mind in a bit of a fog.
(or wool-gathering, perhaps... hehe)

Back - 75% done

Left front - 25% done

The Cascade 220 is a dream to work with.

I keep thinking of more and more and more things I could make with it.

A bit obsessed, me.


I've been busy - and distracted.
I mean - unfocused...
And I apologize.
But I get so caught up in life that I forget.

What have I been up to?
Dinners with friends...
Knitting - I started a project - again - that seems to hate me.
But started a new new one that's going much better.
Work's been busy.
I'm helping my parents redo their kitchen - so that's one weekend gone, at least one more (or two.. or three...)
I'm trying to keep up with sailing, but the weather's been against me the last few weeks.
This last weekend I went to the beach, yarn shopping, to an arts fest... then out to dinner and got a wonderful tour of the city east of downtown.
Followed by a tour the next day of an area of Cleveland Hts I didn't know existed.

But I'm just beat.
And that's its own frustration.

I think I'm going to stay in a few nights and be with myself.
Don't take it personally.
I haven't seen a number of friends lately.
Haven't been to the UU.
Haven't accepted a number of invitations to do things I would love to do.

I'll be back soon enough.

I just need to slow down a bit...