Our Bodies, Ourselves

It's in the middle of my end of semester grading hell, but I wanted to take a moment to discuss something I heard a commentator point out in regards to the Bruce Jenner interview.  He argued that unless we are asexual, most straight or gay people can likely imagine what it would be like to be oriented the other way, since most of us have experienced sexual attraction of some kind, but it is harder for CIS people to imagine what it is like to feel as though we are a different gender from our physical-at-birth gender--to feel not at home in or betrayed by our bodies.

I think this is really true, but it also makes me feel a certain kinship with Mr. Jenner, because, I think I--and a lot but not all--disabled folk can have periods of feeling like our own bodies are at war with us, or that we've been assigned the wrong body etc.  Unless a typically able-bodied person has been very ill or recently injured, I think it is hard for them to understand, or for me to describe to them, what it is like when I want to do X or Y thing and my body just. . .won't, or what it's like even after being disabled all of my life, to look down at myself and think, "This thing I've been issued is fundamentally flawed.  I want an upgrade."  Intellectually, I know my body isn't some separate being that is trying to make my life difficult--or just some meat sack I have to drag around, but there are days. . .so, God bless, Mr. Jenner.  I wish you the happiness you seek.

Here's the poem I promised. . .

So, I haven't updated this journal every Saturday like I wanted to--consistency my constant struggle, but here's the poem I said I wanted to write in my last entry:

Swimming Pool

One sweltering day,
When Matisse
Was old,

He wanted to
Sketch divers,
But it was too hot

“Fine,” he said,
I’ll make my
Own pool”

If Matisse can
Submerge his
Dining room,

With rolls of
Colored paper, scissors
And push pins

What else?

I want to be
A diver in Matisse’s “The Swimming Pool”
Stretching my blue paper cut out limbs,

Or tumbling into air,
Or racing the stars, and the

Splashing around
the borders of the
Artist’s dining room

As his guests make
Erudite Spanish


Forget for a moment
The swimmers with
Their muscular shoulders,

Or the divers
With their
Exclamation Point

Bodies Arcing
And Swooping
Among the jellyfish,

Let’s talk about
The pinwheel

Matisse's "The Swimming Pool"


I'm back to posting on this journal because it is now Christmas break and I have some time.  I will try--again--to make posting a regular thing. Maybe I can post on Saturdays?  Anyway, I'm here becasue I was listing to Slate's Culture Gabfest podcast and heard a really interesting segment about a new MOMA exibit of Henri Matisse's works.  Now, you all know I am not much into modern art, but I was really captivated by the story behind "The Swimming Pool".  Apparently, late in life, the artist was using a wheelchair and dependent on others for transport--I so relate.  One really hot summer day, he wanted to go to a public pool [an outdoor one] and watch people swim--again I really relate.  I love to swim and looking at water calms me.  Anyway, when he got there, it was so hot, nobody was actually swimming!  So, he said something along the lines of "Fine!  Take me home.  I'll make my own pool."  He then created (with the help of a cadre of female assistants) a mural around his whole dinning room in blue and white that basically submerges the viewer--to quote one of the gabfest-ers--in a kind of underwater playground of swimmers, divers, sea creatures and stars.  MOMA owns the piece now and it has been lovingly restored and put on display.  I looked at pics and am just transported.  I really think I'm going to try to write a poem about it.  It's just so lively and evocative!

So, that's the news from here.  Modern art is fun.  Who knew?

PS:  Actually, I think Simon Schama's Power of Art BBC series went a long way toward helping me appreciate all art more, but especially the modern stuff.  The episode on Rothko was especially helpful to someone with no modern art experience.
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Bagging on Purses or why accessorizing is such a pain in the #@$%

I have never "gotten" purses.  Mom used to insist I have a fall purse and a summer purse, but I always found shopping for them tedious in the extreme.  My chief criteria for purses were only that they be made of leather because I love how it smells and feels, and that they be big enough to fit all of my junk, but not so big that they caused a problem in my wheelchair bag.

These days, I have a big purse, which mainly rides in my wheelchair bag, and a smaller one that I carry.  The smaller one is easier to reach, so it has my important stuff in it.  It's starting to look more than a little beat up, but I dread shopping for a new one.

This brings me to the subject of purses in Second Life.  Why?  I mean, really.  It's not like I am going to actually carry anything in the purse.  What purpose would it serve?  I understand about accessorizing, don't get me wrong.  I LOVE, absolutely LOVE jewelry in real life.  All kinds, costume, real whatever.  I mean seriously, people, if you are looking for a gift for me, make it jewelry--or books, but anyway--it took me a really long time to get into jewelry in SL because I couldn't really see it clearly on my graphics settings, so I figured, why bother.  I have some jewelry now--much of which I've been gifted by generous SL friends--but I draw the line at purses.
One problem is, my inventory--the place where SL items are stored--is a pit.  It's like the Black Hole of Calcutta.  There are some earrings that I remember that I own, but I don't know where they are.  And don't get me started on shoes.  I hate them too.  Nothing fits right in real life, so I mostly wear one pair that's falling off my feet.  I dread shoe shopping worse than almost everything accept shots and dental appointments.  Shoes are much, much easier in SL, so I now own more virtual pairs of shoes than I own actual shoes in my real life, but do you think I can find the shoes I want when I want them--HA!  Dream on!

Where was I?  Oh yeah,  purses, and why I refuse to spend good Linden Dollars on them.  Purses are dumb.  And yet. . .I once spent three hours looking for a black cat purse I saw on a blog.  Doesn't sound worth it?  Take a look at this panda purse!  Is it not one of the cutest things you've ever seen?  I mean, I'm not buying it, but I can see why somebody would.  And this adorable summer bag goes perfectly with the cute outfit that the blogger is wearing.  Fashion blogs almost make me care about purses.  Almost.

Poem Revision: Rain

Here's the revision of my latest poem.  I think the suggestions of the folks in my writing group really improved it:


In the parking lot
The light is silvered by the rain
And the mist
So it seems like
The earth is sighing

The sharp smell of damp mud
And the way the puddles collect
At the edges of the sidewalk and
Reflect the bare tree branches

The warmth of the coffee cup
Beside my elbow
And the taping of the
Rain on the roof asks

Why have you made a shape to beat against?
Why are you here at all?
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Reflexes: Goodbye TWOP

After Roger Ebert died, I had to stop myself from going to his site automatically every time I saw a film.  It was such a life-long habit, I have no idea how long it will take to fade, and when it finally does, it will feel like losing Roger all over again.

When I heard from a friend that Television without Pity was being shut down, I didn't really believe it.  The site had been a daily part of my life for years and years.  I enjoyed reading the long snark-filled recaps even of TV episodes that I had watched more than once, and if I had missed an ep of a beloved show, TWOP was always there for me. That site had legendary forums, and its stable of recapers spawned some really good writers, many of whom work in the TV industry now.  To read more about the site's legacy and importance to fans, go here.  I'm glad that NBC/Universal reversed its earlier decision and decided to keep the archives public, but I literally do not know what I'm going to do without TWOP, or how long it will take me to stop automatically checking for new posted recaps after a busy Sunday night of TV.

To pick an example not at random, Jacob Clifton's recaps are legendary.  They veer from comedy to criticism to philosophy, and back, sometimes in the same sentence. The man has his own fans. It hurts me that I will probably never read his thoughts on the show-shaking events unfolding now on The Good Wife.  To take TWOP away during what is probably one of the best seasons of TV ever seems like a cruel irony.
I suppose I need to remember that life is just like this and I have to learn to let go and move on, but oh wow, it is hard.
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Strawberry Singh Meme--Books

This is a meme that will interest even non-Second Life folks, I think.
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  1. Are you a bookworm? – I am a huge bookworm! [ick]  In fact, some of my most embarrassing moments have happened because I was so deep into reading or listening to an audiobook, that I forgot the world around me.  I don't read as much as I used to because Second Life and work take up so much of my time, but I still manage to keep my goodreads account hopping.

  2. Which do you prefer: hardcover, paperback or electronic? – I prefer electronic.  I know some people love the feel of paper books, but I love the convenience of my kindle and the various ways I can read kindle books.  I now view paper books as odd artifacts and have a difficult time finishing them, as my regular readers [Hi to the four of you!] know.  Read a Real Book Thursday came about because of that.  I swear I'm going to start that up again this month.  You heard it here!  I'm also very fond of digital audiobooks since I can listen to them while I'm doing other things [unless I totally lose track of time].  Get an Audible account.  You won't regret it.

  3. Which book is your favorite? – I have reread Outlander, Watership Down and The Curse of Chalion literally dozens of times.  I also read A Christmas Carol every Christmas Eve.  I must mention The Bible, of course. Then there's the magic which is Silverlock.

  4. Which children’s book is your favorite? – The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, also, The Star of Kazan

  5. What’s the last book you’ve read? – I just finished listening to The Shadow Prince.

  6. Name your top five favorite writers: – I have a bunch:  Shakespeare, Lois McMaster Bujold, CS Lewis, Tolkien, Nalini Singh, Robin McKinley

  7. Name a book that had a strong impact on you: – The Curse of Chalion

  8. Favorite & least favorite book genres? – I don't read horror, except for the occasional King or Koonz, and generally avoid literary fiction [I have read a good book or two in the later category, but also a lot of dreary over-hyped, purple prose].  My favorite genres are romance, fantasy, mystery/thriller, and science fiction.  If you can manage to jam three of the four categories together in one book, so much the better.

  9. Favorite & least favorite book-to-movie adaptions? – This is actually a really hard question.  Like Strawberry Singh,  I absolutely loved the BBC adaptation of Pride and Prejudice with Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy much more than the 2005 adaptation with Keira Knightley , but I think my least favorite adaption would have to be Jack Reacher.  I admit I haven't seen it, but just from the trailers, it seems like the movie-makers and I have a much different sense of what that character is really like.  I wrote a blog post about that some time ago.

  10. Have you ever bought a book based on the cover alone? – Yes, I’m actually guilty of doing this often. I am attracted to books that have beautiful covers with mysterious titles.

  11. Where do you usually buy your books? – Amazon, AMAZON, AMAZON!

  12. Do you go to the library? – When my office was closer to the library, I went all the time, now that's really rare.  I ought to change that.

  13. How many books do you own? – only God knows.  I used to be accused of jamming books into every crevasse in the house.

  14. If you were to write a book about Second Life, which topic would you focus on? Exploration and the joys of SL for the disabled


I return to discuss skin in Second Life

Hello folks  ::waves to the four of you::

Well, I haven't posted here in forever, but in my defense, last semester was an awful lot of work, and then there was Christmas, and then more work and, and you get the idea.
I wanted to write a bit about how much fun it is to change one's looks in Second Life.  Believe it or not, people buy skins just like you might buy dresses in real life.  My original skin was a freebee, but then I saw this post, and decided I'd try a different look that would evoke the desert, and go with all these belly dancing clothes I was buying.  I also, of course, went with my Arabian Nights hair.  Here's a before and after for you:

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I have more to share about my adventures in changing skins and such, but I think I will make several different posts for each.  It's more fun and more manageable to go that route.  So, here we go with The Skin/Shape series!

New Poem: All Quiet

It was a busy day today, but luckily, I did get to meet with my poetry workshop group.  They gave me good suggestions that improved my latest poem.  Here is the revised version:

All Quiet

The young TV star rode the fame whirlwind
Like a surfer on a wave.
Everything he thought, said, did
Or thought about saying or doing,
Was tweeted, Facebook-ed, You-Tube-ed
And babbled brightly by tanned anchors on
Entertainment Tonight.

And then he crashed,
Found dead in his hotel room.
The internet exploded like a
90 pound hornet’s nest
Dropped from a high rise.
People were stunned, sad, bereft.
They offered tributes, raked over
His brief career for highlights,
And speculated.

When the coroner’s report was
Released:  overdose of heroin and alcohol,
Some were shocked, most were not,
Many wrote essays on addiction and fame,
And then. . . .nothing.

I don’t know why the silence that descended
Like new snow over Ireland bothers me so much.

After all, what else is there to say?
A report on the slow decomposition
Of his organs?
Updates on his soul’s journey
Through whatever purgatories
Or realms of bliss it traversed?

True, there will soon be a funeral.
Flashbulbs will bathe black-clad celebs
As they exit the church,
Someone will hold his mother’s arm.

And then buzzing will still again.
Until the leaves turn,
When his character will be written out
In a special two-part episode.

Unless the writers decide his
Handsome cousin should
Come to town or his on-screen
Girlfriend should have a pregnancy scare,
All mentions will then cease.

The new-shorn hay lies still in the grass
As the mower passes on
Heading for the long stalks
Waving brightly in the sun.

Adventures at the Hair Fair #6: Impulse Buy 2, or Maybe Iolanthe Doesn't Hate Modern Art

When it comes to the visual arts, I'm really more into the Old Masters, like my frequent poem muse Caravaggio, however, occasionally I do see the value of modern art.  Second Life is filled with digital artists of all kinds, of course, creating installations right and left.  What I didn't know, was that Linden Labs, which created Second Life, actually has a Linden Endowment for the Arts to support and encourage some of the artists on the grid.  Of course, when I first got into fashion in SL, I thought of it as a kind of art of its own.  Certainly the hair that I saw at the Curious Kitties booth at the Hair Fair was a kind of art.  I'd never seen anything like it outside of Japanese anime.  Again I felt compelled.  I bought "BigDeal" which belongs to their Nyanotech series and got some interesting colors to try.  It's really a fun style.

The shots below were taken at Storybook, an art installation on LEA28.  I'd like to look around some more there.  It has a very Alice in Wonderland feel.

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The next pictures were taken at an art installation called Resonant Osmosis in LEA26.  The really neat thing about this one was how everything moved and changed.  I really want to experience it again. Here's a link to a video showing the art in metamorphosis, and here's some more information.

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The vintage-style blue and gold dress I'm wearing, "Noemi", was made to help out the owner of Donna Flora.  There's more information on the creation of the dress here.

This is my final Hair Fair 2013 post.  I hope you've enjoyed them as much as I've enjoyed making them.  Trying to be a real fashion blogger is hard work.  It is also fun though.