Growing Fins

Why the 40th Anniversary of Star Wars Became Unexpectedly Special and Significant For Me

by on May.25, 2017, under Academia, Theatre

I wasn’t going to post till after a week but…

Today I realised my students’s production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream using site-specific theater and the naturalistic, Stanivslavski System precepts that I teach, was on the 25th of May, 2013.

Today, four years later after that memorable, magical saturday,  my students put on their adapation of a Shakespearean play (not gonna say which because you know, desperate Thathas), with a [redacted because of Thathas] twist at the same venue. Fully utilising (with minimum reminders by me) the site specific theater techniques I wholeheartedly endorse, the naturalistic acting I very subtly induced through coaching + walking them logically through possibilities of their characters, and fully employing dramaturgical perspectives. Great cast and crew, fantastic acting talent. Most of them were either previous creative writing students of mine or past creative writing students of mine. I’d also taught most of them drama and acting in first year. But it was a team effort.

The course coordinator came up with this brilliant idea of what they could do with Shakespeare. I, purist that I am about Shakespeare on the stage, was initially skeptical. But she turned me into a believer. I was so thrilled to see how both groups developed Shakespeare and made it contemporary, with new words.

My work was made so much easier by very independent and capable directors and producers. The main director for the stage has hands-on the best raw talent for directing I’ve seen in any students. She absorbed every single thing I told/advised and made magic out of it. Everyone worked like different parts on a body, and it was a tightly knit production, plus they took care of the sensory aspects of it — basically did EVERYTHING that I advocate in theater  practice without my having to nag about it or remind them to the extent of sensory augmentation. In fact, I was pretty hands-off comparatively with this batch because I feel they needed space and room to grow. Though I of course wound up spending a lot of rehearsal time with them in the end.

This is the first time a theater production by students have made me only cry tears of pride and joy, not also tears of heartache. I think part of that is that I am maturing more as an educator (hard admission, I know). My success with this batch has me introspecting on how I could have done better by previous batches. By giving them space and room to grow. But in the end those batches were happy by production day, despite the rocky road. This time the road was less rocky and it was good. I’m so glad.

Literature festival was so much better this time around. I finally felt the collegiality and togetherness I wanted with my fellow colleagues. Maybe we’re learning also, and can cut each other some slack. I’m so impressed by everything the different classes/cohorts/lecturers put together. I just wish people would appreciate us more. We’re doing good stuff here but other universities **cough Thatha cough** act like they’re re-inventing the wheel.

Anyway, I digress. May 25th, right? With every major production I give my peptalk with major star wars geekery about not getting nervous and how not to get nervous. And I always end with “Remember Han Solo”.

Guess what, it’s the 40th anniversary of Star Wars today.

Also, I can’t get over the fact that they took my advice and used the saxophone love theme from Blade Runner for the love scene, that now has more than enough chemistry. Hee hee.

I’ve told them this show is way too good to just be shown once, and in university. It should be at a theater or creative space. But how? Funding? How?

(And I nagged at least two to consider film/acting school because oh my god, they totally blew me away. I’ve had at least two really talented lady directors in my cohorts — I want to see them direct things professionally. We need more powerful no-nonsense lady directors in this country)

As for me — this more than ever makes me want to direct my own play. But how? Funding. How? The technical aspects of it are a bit terrifying. I’d need a producer to do the wrangling. I’ll sleep on it. But god, I really really really really want to do it.

Listening to: Aria 1 — Max Richter

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There’s no business like show-business?

by on May.24, 2017, under Academia

Wedneday is still exhaustion and I have to wake up at 5am tomorrow because my eager-beaver director and crew want to do make up and rehearsals before their performance at 10:30am. One of the directors will be giving me a 5am wakeup call. I am also setting multiple alarms.

Guess that’s show-business!

But we did full dress rehearsal today and they were so good. So good. Hope tomorrow will be brilliant. I’m so proud of them.

Poetry recital was great also. And the other classes also did well. Everyone cooperated and today’s lit festival was good, I thought. Hope tomorrow will get a good turnout. I guess I could have made things easier on myself and everyone by improving my communication the previous two semesters. But last year I was post-op. And the semester before that weirdness was happening. Anyway, it does help that I’m super mellow these days. Heh. Or is that super tired.

Whatevs. Now must eat last food of the night so I can take last meds of the night. Then tido.

Listening to: Wolf in The Breast — Cocteau Twins

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Notes from Tuesday’s Valley of Exhaustion

by on May.23, 2017, under Academia, Aural Chambers

Laura Marling’s Semper Femina is lovely! I, on the other hand am beyond exhaustion. Tomorrow’s the poetry recital. I’m really nervous — not just for my students but because of what generally happens during litfests. I hope tomorrow will be better. I’ve kept channels of communication open so things will be better.

All I can do now is keep it cool and pray for the best.

I couldn’t get to Cheras on time because of the jam so I wound up buying more meds from the neighbourhood pharmacy. Wasn’t too expensive apart from the plendil which I now have to buy anyway — they don’t give it free at government hospitals anymore. So that’s alright. Hopefully I can go on Thursday, or Friday.

Instead, I suddenly had a panicked thought of my poetry kids coming with empty stomachs. I knew morning tea would be provided but I also knew they might be hungrier — plus I always give food to my creative writing (and drama) babies. So I wound up buying them breakfast stuff. And now I’m worried the sausage rolls will get overheated so their breakfast is in the air-conditioned bedroom. You can’t make this stuff up.

Oh, have somehow managed to convince them to use the Blade Runner love theme in their shakespeare mash-up play. It’s hopefully gonna be awesome. The director wrote a great script. And yes, in a way I functioned as a director’s advisor/dramaturge/acting coach for them but they did all the important things themselves and I am so proud of them. Some day, however. Some day. I’d love to direct my own production. The feeling of wanting to do it is pretty strong.

`kay. Now I need to eat a slice of bread with jam, then next bit of meds. Then inhaler, then sleep. (dinner was KFC, totally no spoons for cooking today, and I wanted KFC).

This is all fun and stuff but honestly I can’t wait for the semester to end. Incidentally, still waiting to find out if I got my sabbatical or not. :/

 

Listening to: Wild Fire — Laura Marling

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Tuesday on the Brink of Global Geopolitic Disaster, As Always

by on May.23, 2017, under Academia, Blogging, Domestic Adventures, Food Notes, Interconnectivity, Reflections

Amuses me quite a bit that my daily default is now weheartit+Giphy+tumblr while listening to music I’ve bought from bandcamp. It’s been an okay day so far — I mean, it could be an okay day but for the news of more attacks 🙁 — so upsetting. We live as always on the perpetual brink of disaster — and some of us retreat into our havens of beauty and light, and music. But it’s not enough to keep the ugliness at bay, really.

Went to the maintenance office to discover my swipe card is not yet ready but I have the visitor pass from the security guard post — that’ll have to last me another day. Then I bought nasi kandar again for lunch (had for lunch yesterday also, with roti canai breakfast). Today’s combo was squid curry (I asked sadly was there no squid curry today and the thambi told me to wait. So I waited until the freshly cooked squid curry was brought out) with 1 piece daging kicap (the quintessential indian muslim meat dish) 2 types of vegetable, and with some of the daging kicap gravy sprinkled over the mix of squid curry, fish curry and a dash of honey chicken gravy. I like to mix the gravies myself.

Oh, and I haven’t been going to buy coffee much lately because I love the taste of the Robert Timm’s Mocha Kenya coffee via french press. So full-bodied and chocolatey. Maybe I prefer french press coffee to espresso coffee overall.

For today, because I have a lot of work to do and needed some soothing folk music that’s sweet as molasses but with the bite of salt,  I’m on a Laura Marling kick. Haven’t got around to listening to her 2017 release Semper Femina and am looking forward to doing so. Here’s a song from it! Directed by Ms. Marling herself!

I’ve just finished doing my academic journal associate editor duties for the week. My reward is this post, because I want to post a jellyfish GIF from Giphy.  And now I’m going to make rose & french vanilla tea then work on my academic article for about an hour before I supervise poetry recital practice. Oh shoot, I also need to do the set list for them. Gah. Okay. I do academic writing for an hour then do the set list for tomorrow’s recital.

Listening to: Next Time — Laura Marling

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Closing Monday Thoughts: Contemplating Sensawunda vs Toxic Masculinity in Space

by on May.22, 2017, under Cinema and Television, Domestic Adventures, Food Notes, Mermaids Have Drums, Orphée's Theatrette, sf/f, writing

lj icons_by_meaWorth noting that I made completely awesome chow mein noodles tonight. And then went on a frenzied hausfrau cleanup of the living and kitchen areas.

Beyond exhausted, also thinking about tomorrow when I finally go to collect my meds from the uni hospital after nearly 2 weeks of postponement due to work-related matters (back-to-back, sigh). Been buying small batches from nearby pharmacies. May do poetry recital training first rather than going in the morning because I also need to collect my swipecard.

Anyway. Kitchen’s clean. Pantry’s nicely stocked, which is good because I’m inclined towards cooking more than eating out right now. I think the two times I spent a lot of money buying dishes to eat at home for 2-3 meals each did it. Because see, as tasty as the restaurant dishes were, I think I cook most of those dishes better, and with more quality ingredients. Except perhaps for the Egg Fuyong which maybe that’s just because I never got around to making it. Could try!

I have many many thoughts about Passengers. It was such a good movie in some ways but such a terrible movie in others ways and that ending. God. I don’t know what to say, so I think I may write a long spiel one of these days about the things they got right vs the one thing they got so wrong it’s irredeemable (aka rape culture ahoy wtf man). Harumph.

Anyway, things to ponder about as an active space opera/hard SF author who does write about ships that travel through time-and-space, with hybrid cultures, tensions etc.

MAN! I never thought the day would finally come when I could say yo, I’m an active space opera/hard SF author who has been published in multiply award-winning and award-nominated SFF magazines. 8)

Of course right now I’m fully engrossed in writing fantasy, dark fantasy and light Gothic stuff but eh, sooner or later I’ll return to the good space opera stuff. I have already plotted out the next episode in Space Admiral Zhen-Juan’s adventures across time and space 😀

 

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Missive From A World of Exhaustion

by on May.22, 2017, under Academia, Domestic Adventures, Food Notes

Ha, so it wasn’t my ISP — but the plugins I had on the browser on this machine that set off the HTTP error.

Anyway, I’ve had an exhausting day. I was training students for both the poetry recital and the theatre production. I felt really bad for students as they also need to work on their final year thesis and that is rough on them. Anyway, I thought the work they did was brilliant, and I allowed the director to position me all over the courtyard for photos, apparently they want my face in their brochure or whatever it is they’re doing for the play. Heh.

Came home by 830pm, having stopped to do MORE grocery shopping because apparently the only thing I want to eat now is my own cooking. Stirfried noodles again. Chow Mein style. I make them exactly the way I want them.

Well, now to cook and eat dinner while watching the second half of Passengers. Tomorrow I have so much to do also. 🙁

This whole week is going to be very challenging. Then next week is fasting month and a whole other challenge — how to eat, take my meds, get hydrated adequately during a very trying time.

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Salty Monday Thoughts

by on May.22, 2017, under Academia, Aural Chambers, Interconnectivity, Orphée's Theatrette, Website-Related, writing

Mostly I am posting this to see if I can upload GIFs from this machine. Yup. Without a problem. So why is my at-home internets, with supposedly 50mbps not allowing me to upload GIFS? Things that make you go hmm…

I managed to order a new swipecard at the condominium maintenance officer earlier, and filed a report about the cigarette stubs. Have got an assurance from both manager and chief of security that they will look into it. I’ll only get my new swipecard tomorrow but the chief of security anneh said he’ll give me a temporary pass when I get back. So that’s that.

I have bought chocolates for my students who will be rehearsing for their wednesday poetry recital. Then it’s onwards to our shakespeare theatre practice. They’re doing a photoshoot right now.

I have salty thoughts about a desperate Thaththa (tamil for grandfather, but no grandfather of MINE, my grandparents FROM BOTH MATERNAL/PATERNAL SIDES were AWESOME) from another university employed in wholesale looting of other people’s ideas/research interests. I mean. I could express those thoughts but it’s a desperate Thaththa, right?

Carry on, Thaththa. Carry on. I’m okay with being charitable towards my elders even when they’re being horribly tacky.

But it’s almost comforting to know this wholesale intergenerational rivalry and stealing of the ideas of another generation so as to not allow them to advance is not limited to wimmin alone. Not limited to age either given I suffer from both younger and older iterations of this. Mostly it reminds me to be respectful of my elders, and charitable towards my juniors (because I do not want to be as tacky as desperate Thaththas, and Maamas and Paattis) but not to let either get away with murder.

 

Yay! Pretty giphy timelapse in all of its psychedelic glory!

 

 

Here’s a Motion Sickness of Time Travel trippy psychedelic album to go with it.

 

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Sunday’s Ending with Security Woes

by on May.21, 2017, under Aural Chambers, Blogging, Cinema and Television, Domestic Adventures, Food Notes, island-hopping, Mermaids Have Drums, On Reading, Reading (Notes), sf/f, Website-Related, writing

I made Hainanese-style fried beehoon which lasted me for lunch, tea and dinner. Very tasty. Then wrote a bit. Then read. Then did laundry, washing up. And watched The Passenger via Astro’s On Demand service. Very conflicted thoughts about it that I’ll post about at some point. Haven’t finished watching it yet, am at the halfway point where another human being wakes up. I’m a bit furious that a movie of such potential, and width, and budget had to be another iteration of toxic masculinity and how it’s framed so we’re supposed to sympathise with him. But on another level…argh. Okay. A full post at some point.

Dragged myself to go out of the house. Pulled on a pair of snug jeans, a crumpled Doctor Who threadless tshirt, brushed my hair (gasp) to pull up into a ponytail, and off I went. First to the pharmacy to get lancets, and then onwards to the neighbourhood Giant for quick grocery shopping. Have nearly everything but I forgot the jam. Tomorrow, then. Still need to stock up on meats. I did buy a cut of beef because I had half-baked plans of making roti jala and beef/potato curry. Came back, was too tired. Then I lost my access card to get into the condominium lobby. Fortunately was rescued by what seemed to be an Indonesian Chinese couple (they were speaking to each other in three languages! English, Indonesian and some form of musical chinese I’ve never heard — could it be my own Foochow that I’ve never learned how to speak?) — but am very upset by the loss of the card. Have to go to maintenance office tomorrow to report and to get a new card :/

Oh, of note! I found popsicle moulds! Hurray for future experimentation w/ sugar-free popsicles! Already have cool ideas lined up. And I have plenty more waiting in my pinterest folders!

Speaking of which, I now most definitely do *heart* weheartit and have it talking to my tumblr. I stay on pinterest/weheartit/tumblr and just keep/share pretty things, and don’t have to see upsetting things on other social media. Works for me — except I do need to keep abreast of world news and what’s going on in SFF. But it doesn’t have to be constantly, I suppose.

Oh, I also got another Motion Sickness of Time Travel’s releases on Bandcamp. One of her most acclaimed releases, Seeping Through the Veil of the Unconscious. It’s amazing. Simply amazing.

Reading Notes: Very slowly reading through Patricia Mckillip’s The Cygnet and the Firebird. Yes, it’s good and gorgeous prose. I’ve just been too scattered to enjoy a book but today I read more than I have in the past two weeks so there’s that.

Well, time for bed. Tomorrow’s a long day and I have so many worries apart from the access card. Worried about security. There was a cigarette stub inside my yard, and outside my bathroom in the common area. Trying not to make too much of it but can’t help it. Doesn’t really promote good sleeping when one must be hypervigilant all the time.

 

 

Listening to: Clairvoyance — Motion Sickness of Time Travel

 

ADDENDUM

Additional notes because I couldn’t be arsed to start a new post. And yes, I am very unrepentant about the inundation of sparkly celestial GIFs. It’s my blog and I’ll add the celestial bling if I want to. I’m still the girl who would project  an autolooping timelapse of all the galaxies onto a ceiling if she was rich.

Over the weekend of cooking simple things my blood sugar shot down and plateau’d to normal transmission. Clearly eating home-cooked food agrees with me. I even had 3-4 teaspoon tasting treats of Haagen Dasz’s ice cream once a day! Another thing I’ve been doing is filling up my very tall water bottle with lemon juice, fresh mint from the balcony garden, water and ice cubes (since I am now well enough for cold drinks), shake it, and I glug it down happily. Can’t wait to make concoctions of this w/ stevia and fruits for super healthy and refreshing popsicles.

Things I’ve been wanting to cook but no time + energy + place to put all the food in my fridge (I really do need a bigger fridge and space for a bigger fridge, mine is quite petite) or in my stomach!

  1. Roti Jala with beef, potato and tomato curry. I always remembered that the best roti jala and curry combo I had was up north when we stayed in that super cheap working class terrace house. Our neighbour was an indonesian (Sumatran, I believe) lady married to an indian muslim man. So she was called tok  mami and cooked really tasty indian muslim food. She used to have a stall selling mixed rice. Anyway, she babysat me on and off, and would leave packets of food for me on the fence (also made really cool nasi lemak). So when I make my roti jala combo I try to make my beef curry as close as possible to the indian muslim curries I love (I also had other Tok Mamis looking after me in Penang, both for babysitting and @ religious classes after school).
  2. Masak Lemak Udang Galah Cili Api. Oh god. I’ve been wanting to make this for quite some time. I want to get the freshest Udang Galah (prawns — though google translate says they’re lobsters. Baby lobsters? Whatever, they are delicious) I can find, and then loving pound together the paste for it and stir it into coconut milk. Oh man. My mouth is already watering thinking about it. I would pair this with —
  3. Pucuk Paku Belachan — ferns stir fried in sambal. So good. Also great as masak lemak.
  4. Chappati with vegetable trio and chicken curry. That was supposed to be made yesterday, actually. But Szechuan soup happened.
  5. Rose Vanilla Tea cupcakes with raspberry curd filling and german buttercream frosting. I already bought all of the icing things I need, for crying out loud.
  6. Earl Grey and Lavender cake. Argh. Want it so bad.
  7. Chilli Crab. Haven’t tried since Chilli Crab disaster of NYE when I realised they really should have been LIVE crabs and then was too scared to eat. Need to figure out where I can get live crabs.

ADDENDUM REQUIRES ANOTHER GIF:

Listening to: Auto Suggestion — Motion Sickness of Time Travel

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the fluidity of silent odysseys

by on May.21, 2017, under Interconnectivity, Mermaids Have Drums, Reflections, sf/f, writing

Still thinking. Also very hungry. Will go do a quick stir-fry after this. I still have some of the chicken I browned yesterday.

I wanted to put down here a thought, because when I write down resolutions I make them manifest and feel I need to follow-through on them. I’m already logging my submissions on my own chart, and on the submissions grinder. I have no reason to announce submissions, rejections, acceptances on Codex, on social media and whatnot. Sure, it’s great to let people know you’re still “in the game”,  but let’s face it, I’m still very much in the game with reasonable prominent publications as of March (I mean, movie execs and literary agents were looking through Event Horizon. Even though I didn’t get picked — I mean who on earth would want to turn Tower of the Rosewater Goblet into a movie, right — it still speaks to the fact that I have been in publications that got a lot of notice this year). And there are more publications to come. What happens when I (because of weasels) keep bemoaning rejections and lack of acceptances is this: people who haven’t read enough of me or know enough, think it’s reality and I’m a failure. This portrait of failure sticks — which encourages more rejections, which is how the market works, really. If you paint a portrait of success, you get more and more acceptances.

I’m not quite at the failure level. I’ve got name recognition, and people have told me they think my works are quality. That pleases me very much indeed. So I fully intend to keep to my word re: calling the shots in relation to how I play this game. I will express myself here, my private, yet-not-so-private place. I love that I can add pretty pictures and gifs, it is very comforting and therapeutic. The same way my tumblr gives me so much comfort and joy these days. And my pinterest. I haven’t warmed up yet to weheartit but it’s also quite nice.

So when do people know I have stories and poems out? When they come out, of course. 8)

I shall be quietly productive mermaid. I will leave the horn-tooting to others. No more from this point, okay?

Listening to: Ballade for a Crow Moon — Motion Sickness of Time Travel

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My Uneventful Sunday aka Motion Sickness Of Travelling Without Moving

by on May.21, 2017, under Aural Chambers, Cinema and Television, Domestic Adventures, Orphée's Theatrette

I’ve had a lot to think about this weekend re life, life choices and everything. Mostly, I’ve been puttering about doing whatever housework I feel able to do, and cooking simple things. So far today I’ve had coffee, three slices of toast w/ 2 types of jam (St Dalfour’s Strawberry, and Orange-Ginger Marmalade) plus that lovely raspberry curd. That was about it.

I’m running out of the St Dalfour’s jam, there’s just dregs left in both jars, running out of detergent and softener, water, rice, and meats (chicken, lamb, beef) for the freezer. I also need to get lancets for my nightly bloodletting to check my blood sugar, and antiseptic for the first aid kit (I cut my leg this morning but managed to wash it and it looks okay but antiseptic should be on hand). So I definitely need to go grocery shopping. Urgh.

Problem: I don’t really want to leave the house and face/talk to people. We’re at that stage of introversion/exhaustion. Also, I’m very premenstrual right now.

Also, I have a deep reluctance to spend money, given that I stayed in a hotel last week and that cost me (plus breakfast and room service) about RM360, plus the RM120 I donated for the students’s annual dinner. Got to save for my birthday, for emergency renovations prior to the big one next year-ish, plus my Helsinki trip that’s coming up, plus my one month in Australia that’s going to eat up a lot.

As for bills — one has the huge relief of paying everything only to have other bills happening. Now I have to pay the Astro bill.

I’m not **broke** but I’m starting to have a deep fear of being broke again. Flashbacks. It was horrible. Probably why my period cycle was going haywire while I was trying to juggle finances.

Anyway, yet again tomorrow I am working until 7pm so I just want to enjoy as much as I can of home life without having precious minutes, hours, stolen by the traffic jams and the crowds.

 

Upon reflection it’s a good thing I don’t listen to as much Grouper these days and won’t mourn too much not seeing her live. These days I’m listening obsessively to Motion Sickness of Time Travel. The Ballades are amazing and each Ballade is actually about an hour long — and has its own vinyl (all sold out). I got the entire set (.Flac files) on Bandcamp and cannot get enough of it. Pity the vinyl is limited edition and sold out. Not that I uh, have a turntable. But I’d collect that. Like I collect Grouper vinyl.

Reading-wise, looks like May’s a major reading slump. But I figured that one of these months would be a slump month. I’ve only completed one book and about to finish another one. No way I can make 10 books. I’ve failed in March and April thusfar also. Good thing I hit 20 books in January and February. Oh well. Already I’ve read more than some years. Plus writing a lot and falling ill.

Oh. Last night I watched Four Weddings and A Funeral for the first time since the `90s when I watched it from a VCD I bought at the Pasar Malam with very bad picture quality. The good bits were very good (although the sex bits were all censored because ASTRO-lor) but eh, tragic gay couple, which had me a bit pissed off. But then again, in the credits snapshots, we see Matthew happy again, and the dedicated relationship between Gareth and Matthew was the punchline, the lynchpin of the whole plot. It’s so weird — when I watched it back then, the punchline really was a punchline because I was so blur in that heterosexual innocent Asian kid way. Now it’s pretty obvious, I mean, just before he keels off, this elder lady is asking him if he knew Oscar Wilde. WOT. I mean. WOT?

So there’s that. I watched two romantic comedies yesterday which had me thinking thoughts albeit making me feel horribly relieved no one’s snared me yet. Being in a couple seems to be like a huge bother. At least Carrie in Four Weddings And A Funeral gets to call the shots so I’ll give the movie that. Does seem to be unbearably cruel to make a man look at your wedding dresses when you’re marrying another man, though. Especially a man so obviously besotted with you. But eh, what do I know. Maybe that was another punchline. Or maybe she didn’t know? Who knows!

Me, I see older women grasping to still be seen as objects of desire but at the grand age of 42, rather than being sad, I’m immensely relieved not to be desired. That sadness happened during my 30s. I guess I live too much in my head these days. I just seem to want to disappear. I delight in wearing frumpy clothes, am only presentable when required to be presentable and wearing makeup. Love being in crumpled and used tshirts and baggy trousers. If I was actually married, this would be the point at which husbands run away in search of younger, more attractive women.

Well guess what, buckos. I own my home. And I can be as frumpy as I wish. And if I want to spend the weekend at home pantsless, nobody’s complaining. 😛

Today’s timelapse animation is, as always, via Giphy. Yes, I am addicted to these timelapse GIFs 🙂

 

Listening to: Ballade for a Wolf Moon — Motion Sickness of Time Travel

 

 

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