Really bummed out today for the stupidest reason. I went to get a few things out of my handbag to go running today, among them my favourite old REI Multitowel, the kind they don’t make anymore with the waffle texture, and it was gone from my handbag. I took apart my bedroom, but it’s just gone.
I used it on Saturday right after the Sky Blue FC v. Seattle Reign FC footie match to dry off the bottle of Golazo I got for free on the way out, and because we were in sort of a hurry, I just stuffed it back into my handbag loose, instead of putting it back in it’s pouch, where it normally lives along with a small can of Lysol, a tube of aloe vera gel, and a tube of hand sanitiser.
We went to dinner, then food shopping, and walked home. I didn’t leave the house at all since then, until Tuesday evening, when realised it was gone. That towel was always in my handbag, and had seen me through some wet and messy times, only to bounce back good as new.
I bet someone found it on the ground, and threw it in the trash. This model was discontinued years ago, and there is just nothing else like it on the market. Everything about it was perfect for my needs. At least I still have the pouch. That’s useful for something. And we had one last Towel Day together… :creys:
DInner last night: Bratwurst and Polish sausages braised with Sauerkraut, Bacon, Onion, Carrot, and Caraway; Homemade bread; Latkes; Moutarde Dijon
Seriously the best latkes I’ve ever made in my life. They turned out perfectly. I still can’t figure out why I’m single. I mean, look at that bread! If you were my girlfriend, you could eat as well as this every day of your life.
The Inherent Contradiction of Industrialisation and Productivism
Industrialisation and feudo-capitalism have destroyed the profitability of traditional vocations and left us with a battered and broken middle class that has decreasing options for viability and relevance.
I grew up in the last era in which it was still possible to be on a first name basis with the owners of the shops in your town where you purchased all your customary needs, food, clothing, shoes, household goods, even farmstands. You knew where your money was going, because you saw the butcher’s wife wearing it to church on Sunday, or the hardware store owner driving it to the local school to drop his kids off before opening for business for the day, or you visited the homes of the more well-off families in your town when their children had birthday parties.
Artisanal crafts are beyond the reach of most people in our society, save for the upper middle class and the wealthy. I don’t know if you’ve had occasion to go shopping for the raw materials or tools necessary to be a woodworker, or a potter, or a tailor, lately, but the costs are prohibitive to making a profit. The prices of fabric and wood alone will cost the amateur artisan more at the retail level than finished goods from any number of international megacorporations, and this doesn’t even begin to address the capital costs of investing in precision tools and training.
The modern hipster wants to glorify (or perhaps more accurately, ape) traditional craftsmanship, but traditional craft cannot be afforded by most people, not as consumers, and not as producers.
And this isn’t just true of the industrialised West, I was just reading in Catherine McKinley’s book, “Indigo”, as well as India Flint’s book, “Second Skin”, about how these same economies of scale have destroyed local communities in West Africa, and how the second hand clothes you donate to charity are as likely, and possibly more likely, to end up being resold in far-flung corners of the Earth as they are to help any needy people in your own community.
The only careers which seem to be stable at the local level are those in which a manual installation at the point of service cannot be circumvented, such as skilled tradesmen like plumbers and carpenters and painters, but the days may be coming very rapidly in which those trades will also be at risk, or at the very least degraded to the point where skilled labor is no longer necessary for their function.
Even worse, the high-tech careers we were told would replace traditional labor are the very jobs that it is most easy to automate, abandoning a generation of workers with no other skills that those which relate to already-outdated technology to flounder in an automated employment market dominated by the very technology they built that has no use for anything other than strictly defined and strictly vertical career paths, where people are less people than machines, themselves. This is a system in which it is more important that the worker know Microsoft Word than it is that the worker actually be able to craft a phrase, a sentence, a paragraph, or a thesis.
Inexpensive goods encourage carelessness and needless consumption of raw materials, labor, and energy. Inexpensive mass-produced goods can only be produced by a system of industrialised feudo-capitalism that externalises its true costs.
So long as we do not demand that those who control production of goods compensate the commons for the value of their raw materials and energy they consume, and their degradation or the commons, itself, we will continue to accelerate the accumulation of wealth in the hands of those who have immorally seized possession of our rightful bequest from Nature and even the very output of our bodies.
Industrialisation is not in and of itself an evil, but we must understand that increasing industrialisation means that human labor that was once necessary is no longer so, and we must understand that our society has to accommodate the idea that not everyone can or should “work”. Adhering to an outdated conception of Productivism in the era of industrialisation is an inherently contradictory effort.
I have always felt most comfortable in black, but in my mind’s eye, I exist in sunlight dappled with shade, I am warm, but dry, and I am clothed in white and shades of indigo in various stages of fading, from deepest midnight to brilliant sky to pale robin’s egg, surrounded by the green of Nature in full growth, and yet, in my dreams, I am draped with crimson amidst the tones of hot, dry earth.
Today, I will return three important books to the library: “The Rarest Blue”, by Baruch Sterman, concerning the re-discovery of the sacred color of tekhelet, which was lost for over a millenium, which came from the same Murex sea snails as the Tyrian purple of antiquity; “Indigo”, by Catherine McKinley, her personal account as a woman of mixed-race connecting with the heritage of West African textiles, which humbled me; and “Saris of India: Tradition and Beyond”, by Rta Kapur Chishti, an oversized reference and art tome which the Seattle Public Library purchased at my behest.
Each of these books touched me deeply, resonated with my quest to embrace simplicity and the lost wisdom of ages past that may be our best hope for a peaceful transition into a lower energy state, which I believe may be humankind’s best hope for a future.
I highly recommend these books; they are part of an increasing body of insight into material culture that I have slowly amassed over the course of my life that includes a surprisingly diverse and often unexpected set of sources.
Pardon the lengthy sentences, this is more or less stream-of-consciousness at 4 am, after capturing a melody that came to me as I was trying to fall asleep. It’s a melancholy waltz, to which it seems natural to write lyrics in Japanese, and was intended to be played on bass, to begin with.
Sometimes, my life is as interesting as I make it sound.
The melody that came to mind in the middle of the night is an andante (walking speed) waltz (3/4 time signature) in D natural minor (Aeolian) scale.
With each note as a quarter note, the main theme goes:
D F A A E C D F A A E C Bb D G E(hold 2 counts) C A(hold 6 counts)
D F A A E C D F A E C A Bb D G E(hold 2 counts) C D(hold 6 counts)
If you have a keyboard, you can play it.
somebody i know put their hand on my bare back when i wasn’t expecting it. it kind of freaked me out. and then they said, “omg your skin is so soft”, in that tone of wonder that people sometimes get when they encounter something marvelous and unexpected
i wanted to cry
nobody touches me anymore, and no one knows what they are missing because no one touches me
The thing I find interesting about racism is that very few people are ever willing to admit that as a result of being indoctrinated in a racist society that they have ever contributed to racism, even inadvertently. I know I have, and I know that it is extremely painful for me to admit that even to myself, much less publicly, but if I cannot face that fact squarely and honestly, then how can I ever truly be said to understand my own place in the world?
There is a 100% probability that I have said at least one thoughtless racist thing in my life directly to a person who I love whom it harmed. Were they to hold a mirror up to me and call me to account, I would feel incredible shame for having participated in the marginalisation of others even as I am marginalised for my own heritage. It has happened before, but as time has passed and I have learned more, those incidents have become fewer and fewer.
I believe I still have a long way to go, a lot to learn, not just in terms of how race intersects with my life, but other aspects of my personality that may cause pain to others. I hope that one day, through hard work, I can eradicate all vestiges of oppression from my being.”
– Gemma Seymour, 14 April 2014
Elemental Blessings, Redux
I had occasion today to speak about my ex, and it occurred to me that she is not “hunti through and through”, as I said, but a woman with a torz soul whose blessings are hunti, hunti, and extraordinary.
She is a woman who seeks from this life serenity, contentment, and the security of wealth. These are all torz blessings, but her gifts are the hunti blessings I identified the other day, synthesis, certainty, and power. With those as her blessings, she will surely fulfill her desires.
It’s funny, because I think that had we better understood each other, we would have seen that we each were trying to force the other into a mold which was our own, respectively, to embrace. She wished me to provide her with the stability, nurturing, and security that are the hallmarks of hunti and torz, whereas I demanded of her intelligence and imagination, clarity, vision, hope, and honot to match my own sweela and elay.
We’d have been much better off with her accepting her strengths as the financial provider, the productive soil and solid stone and metal, and me as the inspiring, carefree spirit of air and fire. Had we been able to properly understand each other, we’d have been perfectly matched.
I wonder what qualities my daughter will develop. I hope she does not find the need for the torz endurance that has marked the lives of my mother and myself, but as much as I recognise the usefulness of wealth and power, I have come to feel that in my life, I would have been happier pursuing a simpler existence more amenable to uncertainty and change. I would wish her elay kindness and joy, torz patience, coru surprise and flexibility, hunti courage, sweela clarity, and most of all extraordinary triumph.
But today, I placed my faith in hunti courage, and torz honesty. I am not the person she married, not even the person she divorced. I am, finally, at last, the person I was always meant to be. I did not wish the freedom she forced upon me, but I cannot fail to recognise that together, it is likely that neither of us would have found ourselves. Throughout the process of our divorce, I knew that being on her own would turn out to be the best thing for her. The past six years since she resolved to be rid of me have completely changed my perspective of the world and what I want from it.
I don’t think that anyone who is truly honest with themselves can deny that after spending 20 years with another person as an intimate part of your life that you will always bear a certain fondness and love for them. I have seen the evidence of this in women who are very close to me, most especially in the sister of my heart, Stephanie.
I am in some ways, still very deeply angry with my ex, but it is time for me to accept that she has her way, and I have mine, and I must accept that she has closed certain doors that I have no right to open. I bear her no ill will, and in fact, wish her nothing but the best this world has to offer. I myself will be content with far less. I find my security not in wealth, but in somewhat more ephemeral.
The hardest lesson I’ve learned in life is that no one, but no one, owes you answers, time, or attention, not even a reaction or notice, simply because you want them.
I wish that I had been taught that lesson by someone, anyone, who came before me—my mother, my father, anyone—but it wasn’t until I learned that lesson for myself that I understood the reason they never taught it to me was because they themselves had never learned it.
When someone disagrees with you, they are not beholden to you simply because they disagree to explain to you why they disagree. I cannot think of a single life lesson that will be more valuable to your development as a human being than coming to terms with this realisation. As someone who talks a lot about how equal dignity is the central pillar of my philosophy of morality, it surprises even me, now that I recognise it, that more people don’t understand this simple fact.
Your time, energy, and attention is yours and yours alone, and no one has the right to demand them of you. If you are willing to engage in discourse or dialog, then the only equitable means of engaging is by the exchange of equal value. The only exception to this rule is when you have yourself committed a prior wrong against that person; only then do you incur a debt that must be repaid upon demand.
Our lives impinge upon other people, whether we realise it or not; the statements we make and the actions we perform have consequences that we may not always see or understand, consequences that may harm others, even if our intentions are pure. People are within their rights as autonomous, equally dignified beings to choose how much and how little they will share with you. Be thankful that they offer you the gift of saying, “No. I disagree.” It may be all they are able to offer, and it may be the most valuable gift you ever receive.”
– Gemma Seymour, 3 April 2014
After getting my settlement credit from Amazon, I finally got around to buying Sharon Shinn’s “Royal Airs”, the second book in her Elemental Blessings series. I finished reading it the other night, and I enjoyed it quite as much as the first, “Troubled Waters”.
Sharon’s description of the mythology in the country of Welce reached me at about exactly the same time as I was forming my own vision of an elemental symbology, and she was already one of my favorite authors of all time. A long time ago, I made a graphic to show my personal elemental blessings. I am a elay woman, a creature of air and spirit, but my blessings are Intelligence¸ Imagination, and Endurance, which are sweela, sweela, and torz, respectively: Fire, Fire, and Earth. My personal symbology is slightly different, but I equate torz with organic Earth, and hunti with inorganic Stone, or Metal, if you prefer.
The three blessings of intelligence, imagination, and endurance represent to me my personal attributes, but my ideals, what I strive for, are all elay: kindness, vision, and grace. And so, while I am probably more accurately described as a sweela woman, I prefer to be known as elay, and choose to pursue elay qualities in my mature years.
I was thinking about it a little more this evening, and I thought it might be interesting to work out the blessings for those who have had profound effects on my life, my mother and father, my brother, and my ex-wife.
My mother is, I think, a torz woman, and her blessings are torz, torz, and elay—endurance, honesty, and beauty. My mother has endured more than most in her life, and is still indomitable. I wonder if my mother has ever told a lie in her life, and sometimes I wish she would. Her beauty in her youth was unmatched, and she has passed that on in part to me, and even moreso to my daughter. My own endurance stems directly from hers. Endurance is a bittersweet blessing.
My father was a sweela man, and his blessings were sweela, sweela, and coru—intelligence, talent, and travel. He burned out younger than I might have liked, and far from the land of his birth. He would have been happier as an artist or musician than a doctor, I think. His talent as an artist and musician was passed on to both myself and my brother. I got more of the music, my brother more of the art.
My brother is a coru man, and his blessings are all coru—change, travel, and luck. I wonder if even he knows where he will end up, but he has been many things and in many places in his volatile life, and is lucky, I think, to still be around.
My sister is also coru, I think—change, swiftness, and surprise. My sister is an odd one, but her life is nothing if not turbulent, like river rapids.
My ex-wife is a hunti woman through and through, and her blessings are hunti and extraordinary—power, certainty, and synthesis. If she reads this, I am sure that she will either think me quite mad, or wonder why it is that I could not see this before in her. I am also certain that she will be surprised to hear that I have such a high opinion of her.
The answer to that is two fold, first because these traits were hidden in her during the years we spent together, in some ways hidden even from herself, and second because I didn’t know at the time what I was looking at, exactly. I used to joke that I’d somehow managed to marry a woman exactly like my mother, but the qualities of my mother I didn’t like. That was, in retrospect, only superficially true. She has, I think, finally come into her own, a Queen of Pentacles, in tarot speak, as I am a Queen of Swords.
The last one is the one I will find, the one who will be my partner for the rest of our lives. I’m not sure what her ruling element will be, but I am betting on elay or torz, and I believe her blessings will be elay, elay, and torz—kindness, grace, and serenity. Kindness and grace, because that is what I need in my life, what I wish to share, and how I intend to spend the rest of my days, and serenity because she will need it to put up with me. :D
The first two books in the series have covered coru and elay, but I think it’s obvious from the ending of “Royal Airs” that the third book, whenever it should appear, will be sweela—Corene in Malinqua. Corene, a sweela woman with whom I share two sweela blessings, intelligence and imagination, but whose third blessing of hunti courage, I have never been able to muster as well as I might have wished.
You can see all 48 blessings here:
My friends treated me to a steakhouse dinner tonight for a special occasion celebration. One of my roommates just sold a large collection of her artwork, consisting of most of her life’s work, an entire career of illustration work bought by a single collector. She brought along a bottle of 1998 Chateaux Margaux Premier Grand Cru Classé from her collection, and it paired very nicely with my Prime rare rib-eye steak. I even wore my pearls and that Michael Kors top I keep forgetting I even have.
ermagerd! hi, me! #gpom
First halfway decent picture in a year that I can use for a profile photo.
Minimal makeup: Monistat Soothing Care Chafing Relief Powder-Gel as foundation primer, L’Oreal Paris True Match W4-5 liquid concealer, L’Oreal Paris True Match W6 powder, L’Oreal Paris Lineur Intense Felt Tip eyeliner in Black Mica, L’Oreal Paris Voluminous Million Lashes mascara in Black, Maybelline Great Lash in Clear used as brow gel, L’Oreal Paris Infallible Plumping 6HR Lip Gloss in #306 Plumping Red.
La Mer de Lune
I smile, tilting my head forward a bit, so that she can’t see the heat in my cheeks, as I prod again at the slice of lemon that I’ve been muddling for some time at the bottom of my Sour Godmother. I have to try to remember not to do that, to maintain eye contact, even though looking into her eyes is disconcerting. Her voice washes over me like the gentle waves I’d left 3000 miles behind me, and I feel slightly dissociated and more than a little frightened.
What are we? What am I doing here? Why can’t I even ask her if this is a date, or not? What’s Hecuba to her, or she to Hecuba, right? Why does it matter, right now? It shouldn’t matter, right? Why did I freak out when she asked me if I wanted to meet for coffee, and not immediately respond, “Yes”? I said all those stupid things, instead of “yes”, when what I meant was “yes”, and them when she didn’t get right back to me, I freaked out for days that I’d totally blown it.
And then she asked again. This time, I said “Yes!” Immediately.
I’m so used to falling off cliffs, I suppose, that what frightens me is not the inevitable sudden stop, but the possibility of finding out I’ve been doing it all wrong all along. That love shouldn’t be a thing that happens, but that you do. For which you choose to be available. That this…this deliberation (and what an ironic word that is, de-liberate) is the true secret of happiness.
I keep hearing my ex asking me that horrible question, “Why do you love me?” The question I could only ever answer with, “Because I do.” The answer that was not enough for her. How do you answer that question without your love turning to ashes in your mouth? How do you pin Love to a board like a dead thing you can keep under glass and hang on a wall?
Pisces. I just realised that. Same as my mother. My ex was a Libra, you know? And my daughter is a Gemini. Not that I believe in that sort of thing, I really don’t, but why do I get the feeling that this is no accident, when I am a Sagittarius? I am surrounded by dichotomy, and in a way, I am dichotomous, myself, but don’t tell anyone I told you that, okay?
Of all the girls I’ve dated in my life, save two, half have been Jewish, and half have been Irish. Except my ex, the one I married, and the one I thought was crazy, but who turned out to be probably more sane then I am at this point. Guess who is sitting at a bar talking with a vivacious woman who is both Irish and Jewish, and getting way too far ahead of herself?
Hello, me. Moth, meet Flame.
"when you are adrift on the sea"
when you are adrift on the sea
without sails, oars, or engine
you are at the mercy of passing currents
you can shift your weight
from side to side
in your lifeboat, if you have one
hoping to be pushed a little further along
thankful you are at least floating
you spend your days staring up
at an expanse of sky
blank like the datebook
you keep because
that is what successful people do
save for the one baleful, burning eye
of withering conscience
you spend your nights staring up
at endless possibilities
a trillion pinpricks
relentlessly out of reach
and forever racing away from you
countless needles of shame
plans are for people
who can afford to make plans
when you are adrift on the sea
your world condenses
to this space
that fits within the compass of your arms
to this one measureless moment
sargasso spun in stasis
buddha said ‘thirst’
but tears are made of salt water
—gemma seymour, 29 january 2014
1985, Late Spring, New York City
i am 16 years old, at the tail end of my Junior year of high school. i am deeply involved in theatre at my school, despite its focus on math & science. i am a keyboardist, a student of pianoforte as well as pipe organ, and i purchase the July issue of Keyboard magazine, desperate to read about all the latest developments in the music world. i want so much to follow in the footsteps of Depeche Mode, Yaz, Thomas Dolby, and Howard Jones, of Devo and Kraftwerk, of Herbie Hancock…and of Wendy Carlos.
there is a woman on the cover whom i have never seen or heard before, pictured with a Fairlight CMI. her beauty is otherworldly, and her name is Kate Bush.
the article and interview captivate me. after school, i rush to tower records at 4th & Broadway, and purchase “The Dreaming”, her latest album
("Hounds of Love/The Ninth Wave", the album that would finally garner Kate some attention in the US, with the hit single, "Running Up that Hill" didn’t drop until September, with the single debuting on WLIR 92.7 FM in August, and eventually peaking at #30 on the Billboard Hot 100).
it’s an LP, so I can’t hear it right away. i tuck it into my danish school bag, and make the nearly 2 hour trek commute home to College Point, where i am able to finally climb to my bedroom on the third floor to hear it, in the apartment that once belonged to my great-grandfather Henry Seymour, who came to this city from Manchester, England, with my great-grandmother Lydia (née Haughton), and my grandfather Arnold, but 18 months old at the time in 1922.
i am transfixed.
her music touches me so deeply, it awakens a part of my soul that i was only vaguely aware existed. it is the first flowering of my womanhood.
to this day, Kate’s music transfixes me with its shocking beauty and unerring ability to pierce to the deepest core of my being. i’m not sure that words can ever really do justice to the visceral response she evokes in my heart. i don’t think i could have survived the next few years of my life without kate’s music.
(this image was used for a promotional poster for "The Ninth Wave", which hung on my wall for many years. i think i still have it, a bit worse for the wear.)
"The Dreaming", Kate’s fourth album, is widely recognised as one of the best albums of all time, and a must listen for any serious student of music. if you have not had the opportunity to become familiar with Kate’s work, as i suspect many of my younger friends may not have, i would recommend you begin chronologically with her first single, “Wuthering Heights”, from her first album, "The Kick Inside", from 1978. as a special treat, Kate was to revisit the vocal for "Wuthering Heights" in 1986, for her first compilation album, “The Whole Story”. the contrast between the two versions is remarkable, juxtaposing the crystalline 18-year-old Kate with the mature and rich 26-year-old Kate.
i look at you and see
my life that might have been
your face just ghostly in the smoke
this is where i want to be
this is what i need
this is where i want to be
but i know that this will never be mine
ooh, the thrill and the hurting
will never be mine
of all her music, it is perhaps the two songs from her album, "The Sensual World", from 1989, that turn me quite inside out the most easily, "Never Be Mine", a video of which i posted just prior to this, and "This Woman’s Work", because that song speaks perfectly of the abject terror i felt the night my daughter was born, utterly helpless as i was, not knowing if i would be going home that dark, hot night alone.
as a trans woman, to hear the lyrics from the father’s point of view sung with a woman’s voice is so poignant, like hearing my own voice that will never be coming from a place deep within.
i know you have a little life in you yet
i know you have a lot of strength left
i should be crying but i just can’t let it show
i should be hoping but i can’t stop thinking
of all the things i should’ve said that i never said
all the things we should’ve done that we never did
all the things i should’ve given but i didn’t
oh darling, make it go, make it go away now
there is one other piece of hers that shatters me, and that is "Waking the Witch", from "The Ninth Wave”.
spiritus sanctus in nomine…deus et dei domino…
GUILTY GUILTY GUILTY
of course, i am a witch of sorts, so that probably isn’t surprising, but it is entirely possibly that it was this song that lead me to my path.
sadly, Kate was to make only a single appearance in the US on Saturday Night Live, and has never since played live on this side of the Atlantic. she toured only once, briefly during 1979, and has since appeared live only rarely, preferring to release recordings only. she holds the honor of Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire.
Tonight, I was rebuilding a PC out of parts, and was copying files over from various old hard drives, when I came across this selfie that’s probably from the first half of 2009, so I decided to give you a bit of fan service…