01 December 2016

Rabbit rabbit rabbit

Happy December 1st!

Can't believe it's already December.
My big news is that I started my new job on Monday!!!

I will be coordinating, monitoring, and doing strategic planning for assistance programs in Morocco and Algeria.
I am so excited and happy about the opportunity. The team is great, the work is interesting, and I feel that as soon as I get my feet under me, I'll be able to make a solid contribution.

In the mean time, I'm reading and listening and having meetings and asking questions.

Also, I'm doing all the important mundane tasks like adjusting my desk chair so that it doesn't tip me backwards when I sit down in it. I'm setting up hanging files to keep the reference documents I'd like to have a hard copy of. I'm running around getting badges and computer logins.


It feels so nice to have a job again.
Don't get me wrong - I know that at some point I will be tired of being in the office and wish for a vacation - but for now, it is great to have somewhere to be everyday. To get out of the house for a purpose, not just a whim. Doing 10,000 steps a day is a breeze when I'm working. When I was at home, sometimes getting 5,000 steps was a struggle! (Alphabetizing the spice drawer just doesn't require walking around very much)

23 November 2016

having a hard time doing once a day!

Having a hard time recently keeping up with the once a day posts that I promised. It will be a relief to go to once a week starting in December.
I'm planning to do updates on Tuesdays - fresh from the weekend, but enough time to write up on Monday and edit on Tuesday. One thing that has definitely been lacking in this once-a-day stream of consciousness writing has been any kind of editing.

I usually write it once, spellcheck it, and post it immediately.
It's quick, relatively painless, and often ends up being pointless.

I found that I stopped right at the 200 word mark and didn't finish a complete thought, didn't take the time to fully explain or explore the topic that I introduced.

Hopefully going with a weekly post at 500 word minimum will help a lot with that particular phenomenon.

One thing that was interesting and I didn't expect is just how much I have to talk about!

There's always something interesting, or at least interesting to me - it may not be my own life, but perhaps a news story or a new podcast that I've gotten into. In fact, it has sometimes been difficult to choose one thing to write about!

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving - and that's really exciting in so many ways :) gobble gobble

21 November 2016

Flu shot

I got a flu shot today!

That's about the most exciting thing in my whole day. I've been feeling a bit down and low energy and couldn't even get myself outside for a run. The cold certainly contributed, but it's still a little worrying.

Another thing I did today was buy a new pair of jeans, in a size larger than I'm currently wearing. I just need to realize that I am too big for my britches. haha. I will be very glad to have them but the process of buying them was put off, delayed, and painful because I've been trying to take weight off so I can get a size smaller, not larger.

It's days like today that I have to remind myself, sometimes verbally and out loud that I need to treat myself and speak to myself in the same way that I speak to my best friends and my sisters. This inner monologue that only finds fault and lack is mean. I would never be so mean to anyone I called a friend; there is no need to be mean to myself. Taking the words out of my head and into a new context really helps. I can look at the words from an outside perspective and recognize their negative impact. And then consciously make the choice to use other words.

I learned some of this from my therapist and realize how wonderful and life-giving it was to have someone actually be that external voice to give me perspective and tools.

It doesn't always work, and when it does, it doesn't always stick. But if I'm going to hold others accountable for being kind, using appropriate vocabulary, promoting those who are vulnerable, then I certainly need to hold myself accountable.

20 November 2016

musing about theatre

Back in DC!

It was a beautiful whirlwind of a trip to California. I was so happy to be able to see two of my siblings perform - one at his music residency, and one in a college production. In fact, C had the opportunity to play a much bigger part than she originally had because her friend fell ill and wasn't able to perform this week. So C stepped in at the last minute to learn the lines and blocking.

She did a wonderful job with an interesting part in a totally bizarre and thought-provoking piece of theatre called Mr. Burns, a Post-Electric Play

***spoiler alert***

If you are not familiar with the show and would rather not know the details before seeing it, you should probably skip this entry.

Wikipedia does a commendable job of summarizing the play in a comprehensible way:
"Shortly after an unspecified apocalyptic event, a group of survivors gather together and begin to attempt to recount the episode "Cape Feare" of the television show The Simpsons. The second act picks up with the same group seven years later, who have now formed a theatrical troupe that specializes in performing Simpsons episodes, with commercials and all. The final act is set an additional 75 years in the future. The same episode of The Simpsons, now a familiar mythos, has been reworked into a musical pageant, with the story, characters, and morals repurposed to fit the artistic and dramatic needs of a culture still reeling from destruction of civilization and the near-extinction of humanity decades earlier."

I found the production itself occasionally hard to watch and follow. Partly because a large part of the dialogue was written out verbatim from an improvised exercise where actors tried to recount the Cape Feare episode. It involves a lot of thinking patterns that are inherent to speech but don't necessarily translate as well when put into another actor's mouth and then performed on stage.

That said, the themes that the play explores - loss, loneliness, entertainment, how we find meaning when the things that we rely on daily are gone - are profound and disturbing. At its best, I would say that this production explores the importance of narrative. As one reviewer of a Chicago production said, the play "tells us that the worse things get, the more we need our stories." And not just the stories, but the pieces that surround and enhance our stories - like music, and even commercials. 

18 November 2016

Being LGBTQ at Notre Dame

I participated in a positive art project to support LGBTQ young people today. If you are in L.A. and would be interested in learning more and getting involved - comment, message, or email me and I'll get you in contact.

I'm being deliberately vague about the project in order to protect the creativity and intellectual property of this idea and I don't want to jump ahead of the launch!

Doing the project made me think about my experience when I first came out as a young LGBTQ person. I was at Notre Dame, an excellent school. Great academics, strong student focus, but also a pervasive macho culture and very conservative social values.

The editor of the alumni magazine asked me to write about my experience as an LGBTQ student at Notre Dame. It was scary - trying to represent a huge diversity of experience with just my own voice - and to do so in a format that would reach an audience that was potentially very hostile.

The writing process itself was very cathartic as I had the chance to look back and reflect on the experiences that shaped my coming out. (I'd also like to say that my article is very rambling and not great writing, so forgive my 21-year-old self if you choose to read it!)

The response...

Well, it was as expected.
Alumni wrote in saying that I should never have been admitted to the university. That I should choose celibacy. That they were withdrawing all financial support to the university because it chose to admit me and feature my story.*

On the other hand, the issue, which included several articles about LGBTQ concerns, received a first place gold medal award from the Council for Advancement and Support of Education for its special issue.

I believe that my four years at Notre Dame, a conservative midwestern college, made me into the LGBTQ feminist activist that I am. Being forced to define and defend my identity shaped my values and priorities. It led me to choose education and a career path where I could provide support for people seeking recognition and justice.

I hope that the four years in the Trump administration will serve as a similar catalyst for activists, youthful or experienced, to take up their values and push for them. It won't be easy, many people will push back, but let's take this as a wake up call.

*When I went back to the comments section in order add a link to this blog post, I was genuinely surprised by the number of positive comments I found. I had forgotten about the positive and affirming comments and only retained the negative ones. I am so glad that I looked up the comment feed again. There are still many comments that are frightening (for example, the Navy man who was "lost at sea" after aberrant homosexual behavior) but they do seem more balanced than I'd originally felt.

17 November 2016

my brother the resident artist

Last night I finally got the chance to see my brother perform at the Vampire Lounge, where he is the resident artist on Wednesday nights. He and a friend with a cello entertain the crowds sipping the "blood of the vine" from about 9pm to 11pm.

M, that's my brother, is a very talented musician. And just like Malcolm Gladwell suggests, he's put in those 10,000 to get where he is now. He not only sings, plays guitar, bass, piano, and drums, but also has taught himself to produce, mix, and edit the music he creates. It's so impressive how dedication and sheer time put in can yield such wonderful rewards.

Last night he brought along two guitars, a ukelele, and a keyboard. My favorite songs were his collaborations with the cellist. With the anchoring notes from the cello counterbalancing M's tenor voice, the sound flowed over us fluidly and was mesmerizing. I can see why a vampire-themed bar would love to have his music fill the space.

It also made me think about my own music and how I miss making it. I've decided to try to join the choir at the UU church and see where I go from there.

Plus... we're going to make a Lindgren family holiday album ... coming soon to a soundcloud near you.

To hear some of M's music that he plays at the Vampire Lounge, check out this youtube playlist, and this live recording , and this one that includes both ukelele and cello!

16 November 2016

Making music in California

I'm in California!

I booked a last minute trip out to California since I'm only funemployed for another 2 weeks and probably won't make it out here again until May for my sister's graduation.

As my Dad and I talked while we were waiting for my bag to show up I realized it has been nearly two years since I've been to California! The last time I was here was for Christmas 2014. I've seen my family in the interim - at cousin's weddings, packing up my house, and in Paris, of course.

But I hadn't actually been back to the house where I grew up in 23 months. It still feels like home :)
I love the wooden porch facing the park, the lovely wood floors, the walls filled with art and photographs. Even the smell of the linen closet is the same.

Best of all, I had the chance to hang out with B and M all day and we decided to lay down some tracks for Christmas songs! I learned a piano riff for Rockin' around the Christmas Tree and we've got that recorded. And tonight I'm off to the Vampire Lounge to see M play - he's the resident artist on Wednesday nights.

14 November 2016

Why I'm wearing a safety pin

In the wake of the vote in favor of the United kingdom leaving the European Union (infamously known as Brexit), many of my friends in Scotland began wearing safety pins visibly on their tops. Their safety pin was a symbol of solidarity with immigrants who faced a terrifying wave of vocal discrimination after the vote. Some people took the vote as justification, validation of their feelings that immigrants didn't /don't belong in the U.K. and therefore they felt safe making their xenophobic feelings vocal, visible and even physical. The idea behind wearing the safety pin now is that I pledge to stand up for people being targeted by racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic words and acts. Especially in the wake of the election of Donald Trump as the American President given his divisive and deplorable rhetoric. I appreciate the importance of a visible symbol and hope that seeing this symbol will give comfort to people being targeted. More importantly and more likely I hope that wearing the safety pin will start conversations and give me the opportunity to inspire other people to also stand up and take action against intolerance. I have read several articles written by both people of color and white people about the insufficiency of wearing a safety pin. I agree completely, and encourage you to read those opinions as well.

Ijeoma Oluo makes a real and important criticism of choosing a symbolic act rather than actual action in her article.
"All that energy that I had hoped would go toward real-life action in support of marginalized populations who have been fighting this system alone for far too long was diverted to a symbol that most people wouldn’t even notice."

Christopher Keelty offers ideas and challenges people to find more productive ways to show solidarity than just putting on a safety pin in his piece
"We aren’t going to congratulate ourselves on it, we’re not going to wear some stupid symbolic badge that says “Hey, I’m a good white person” so other white people will congratulate us on how woke we are. "

I will continue to wear a safety pin as a symbol but I will not let it replace the actual work that I have committed to. My safety pin means nothing if I do not call people out on intolerant acts and statements.
If I see someone being targeted, I will step in.
If I hear a racial slur, I will speak up.
I will actively increase the number of voices of people of color that I regularly listen to - I will seek out blogs and twitter accounts that offer me new perspectives.
I will question myself on my actions and not just my intentions and take criticism with an open heart.

13 November 2016

Supermoon and contemplating order out of chaos

Journey of the Universe describes the evolution and unfolding of life on Earth as being “nested” in the larger processes that preceded and accompanied it. Trace the formation of the human back through Earth processes. How does this shape your understanding of the human story?

One of the things that most captured my attention and surprise in this week's readings and videos was the creation of the moon. They described how the moon was created because of the collision of a Mars-sized body into the Earth. Being molten, the Earth absorbed the vast majority of the body but a ring of lava formed around the Earth. This ring eventually cooled into a ball that we now call the moon.

And now, the Earth and life on earth is so dependent on the moon. Its influence on our oceans and bodies of water create a mutable edge between dry and wet, between sea life and land life. The moon reminds us of how much change can exist even in stability.

When I lived in Togo, the moon was a much more important part of my life. I lived in a village with no electricity - the silver light of the full moon meant that I could go enjoy the night market in the center of the village without worrying about stumbling home. It extended the day for those three days every month, giving us more work, play, study time before sleep.

Tonight is a supermoon. The moon orbits the Earth in an oval pattern which means that sometimes, the moon is carried much closer to the Earth than we are used to. A supermoon occurs when a full moon coincides with that close orbit. It means that to our eyes, the moon looks 30% bigger than it normally does. It's pretty magical. I remember one supermoon in high school that was so bright and gorgeous that my friends and I laid out in a grassy field just watching it for hours. (If you are in the Americas, you should look for the supermoon tonight)

I think that the formation of the human is fascinating to consider in the process of the formation of the moon. The destruction of the colliding "planetisimals" was the spark for the creation of the moon. There was no plan, but there was opportunity. It is similar for the creation of humans. There was no plan to create humans, but there was opportunity. Out of the chaos emerged patterns. In difficult circumstances, some life forms thrived and others did not. Eventually, the patterns brought forth humans.

12 November 2016

Artomatic 2016

Today K and I had a delightful suburban adventure. We decided to go out to an art festival called Artomatic. It's an annual festival that runs on the weekends through November into early December. It seems to be a place where anyone can display their art - in fact we saw at least two exhibition panels with art from local middle schools!

But before I get ahead of myself - on our way out of town, we realized we were too hungry to wait until we arrived at Park Potomac so I did a quick scan of restaurants along our route (there's this new feature on Google maps that is awesome) - and we chose to stop at Mrs. K's Restaurant and Barrel Bar. It is an adorable stone house that used to be a tollhouse in Montgomery County, Maryland. It was converted to Mrs. K's Tollhouse Restaurant in 1930. In fact, hanging in the lobby is a newpaper article from 1941 praising the colonial dress of the wait staff and delicious food :)

Our waiter did not wear colonial dress, but had a lovely little blue bowtie. The food, however, certainly lives up to the reputation. We had the Saturday two-course brunch - we both chose the Maryland crab soup for appetizer and I had succulent and spicy shrimp and andouille sausage with grits as my main course. It was such a delightful indulgence and set us up well on our path to the art fair.

K and I have been thinking about art for our home but had not yet picked out anything together, so this was our first opportunity. We discussed a couple of ideas - nothing too figurative, prefer colors that will match/enhance the color scheme of white blue and tan in our living room, etc.

Instead, we bought a gorgeous rainbow cityscape by Jay Yirenkyi!!!!

When we turned the corner and saw the piece, we both gasped. We knew instantly that it was the right piece for us and immediately emailed the artist. But then we pushed ourselves to continue walking around and look at the rest of the show. We took our time and sat down to discuss whether we were ready to make the investment and ultimately, made that choice and went to paypal! We won't get the piece until after the show closes in December but in the meantime, we met an artist named Cheryl Ann Bearrs who was so enthusiastic and warm that we were inspired to pick up a couple of her beautiful abstract pieces for our dining room.

There were a lot of beautiful pieces throughout the Artomatic - and because the show is uncurated, there is a huge variety of art, style, personality. If you're in the DC/Maryland area - go check it out!