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I haven't really been posting here, in large part because I'm not quite sure what it's for. When I first started my Dreamwidth account I was thinking about it as a replacement for livejournal, somewhere to put more personal posts, because of the ability to lock them down to different levels of privacy. However, while the platform still seems well-suited to this use, my network on here doesn't. When I started on livejournal, I was all young and angsty and most of the people on my friends list were people around my age who I knew at least a bit offline.

Now, although a few of my close friends have come over to DW from LJ, most of the people I know here aren't necessarily going to be interested in my more introspective posts. And for things I share publicly, I tend to put them over on my 'grown-up' website or my tumblr, just because they're more visible.

I really like this platform and the possibilities that it affords, though, so I'm going to make an effort to start using it more often, even if it's just to read my friends list (and a big wave to all the Ada campers I've just followed!). Maybe in the process I'll work out what to use this for.
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I've been in San Francisco for almost a week now. It's been an interesting week. I really don't have time to write about half the things I want to, but to give a quick update:

* I'm staying with lovely people, and feel quite at home. There are kids and a dog and vegan snacks and plenty of discussions about politics, so I'm happy.
* I went to Occupy Wall Street West, which was a multi-centred protest that managed to disrupt significant parts of the SF Financial District. I've also been to an Occupy Oakland general assembly (which ended up moving into a council meteing), and joined a small counter-protest at a thousands-strong march against women's access to abortion.
* I've met some excellent people, and have friends to hang out and explore the city with. (And go to protests with.)
* Research stuff is going well, although at the moment I feel like I have way too much information to process.

So, basically, everything is pretty much okay. I have good people, I haven't been arrested, and I'm enjoying my work.
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I'm spending at awful lot of time these days battling uphill to Make Stuff. Staring at sentences, writing a few words, deleting them. I get everything that I need to do done, because I always get everything that I need to do done (for a given definition of "need"). But it often feels like such a struggle. And the things at the edge, the things that I would like to do, the things that I want to do for me and not anyone else, they often fall by the wayside.

I have an awful lot to do over the next two weeks. I have this Big Project for work which involves learning a heap of new skills, and the Big Project is meant to be leaving space to publish, somehow. And hopefully I'll be moving house, too. And then once the creation phase of Big Project has mostly been completed, I have to actually implement Big Project, in between doing a heap of other work and preparing for a conference and, again, trying to fit in some publishing.

I need to get better at getting around the blocks I have to Making Stuff. I need to get better at finding my focus, and not just staring and playing type-and-delete-and-type. I have moments of this, sometimes, but it needs to be happening more consistently. I need to work out how to breathe and relax and let out the anxiety that trips me up.

Because I really do love making stuff, and this stuff is potentially good and interesting and useful stuff.

Joy

Oct. 19th, 2011 09:43 pm
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* Our beautiful house, which is full of sudden morning singalongs in silly voices and tidy spaces and care. And also occasionally when you come home someone will hide behind the door in a ghost costume and jump out and yell 'boo!'. (This has only happened once, actually. I worry that it may happen again.)
* I gave a lecture tonight, as part of the evening extension course we're running. It went well, and I didn't fret about it or spend too much time preparing (because I didn't have time to). We have made this small space that works well and is cosy and interesting, and people speak and eat snacks and thank us repeatedly after each session.
* My greek teacher saw me on TV (not sure which station) at an activist event, and when I explained to him why I was there he said he was proud of us, he's happy that people are trying to fix things.
* I helped a stranger on the Internet today. It only took five minutes of my time, but it was helpful and they were happy and could get on with their work, and it made my afternoon better.
* Work is difficult, at the moment. I'm doing a thing I've never done before, and some days I am terribly anxious about it. But I also have times (like much of today) when I'm excited about how to fit it all together.
* So many lovely people, including many who I don't see nearly often enough.

joy

Oct. 15th, 2011 10:29 am
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I feel like I'm finding parts of myself I didn't even realise were gone.

Last night people came over and although I felt a little overwhelmed and anxious I was mostly just full of delight at the many lovely people in my life. There was ukulele! and dancing! and a gleeful singalong:



I spent a lot of the time bouncing around being silly (hopefully without offending anyone too much). I saw a few people I haven't seen in ages, and a few people who I never see enough of (including the lovely ones I see often and can't possibly tire of).

And after everyone left or went to sleep I did the dishes and swept the floor and picked up the last of the bottles (our lovely guests had already helped with the tidying).

This morning I pottered around in the kitchen and made everyone breakfast while our houseguest played ukulele, taking little breaks in between cooking to dance with J around the kitchen.

I'm lucky. And proud, a little, because I've helped to make this.

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It's been an awfully long time since I've written here. I haven't written about Burning Man, or San Francisco, or getting back and all the things that have happened since.

I don't know where to start, and I don't know if anyone's still reading. You're not writing much, these days.

I'm writing a lot, these days, just not here. I'm writing much more than usual in my on-paper journal, which is just for me, as I try to Work Some Stuff Out. I'm writing emails and on FB and Twitter and Diaspora. I'm trying to write more on my blog: every post I write makes me cringe with embarrassment at how clumsy it is, but I know the only way to keep better is to keep writing and live with imperfection. I'm trying to relearn how to write research-stuff, and how to research. It feels hard.

I'm also thinking a lot about who I want to be and how I want to fit into the world. How I want to live.

I've been fretting a lot about not having published anything over the last year. The last year's been very hard emotionally, and my contract at work hasn't left room for research and writing. But still I fret, because I know that if I want to be an Awesome Academic (TM) I need to publish stuff.

So, maybe I'm not going to be an Awesome Academic (TM). Maybe I'm not going to be an academic at all, because there doesn't seem to be a lot of room in academia for people who don't make time to publish. I don't know what I might end up being, because reading and writing and teaching is the only thing I do that people seem to want to give me money for.

I'm probably not going to be a Brilliant Author (TM) either.
Or change the world.

I think I'm okay with that.

There are sacrifices I don't want to make. There are plenty of things I want to do just for the sake of doing them, and not because they'll help me to Achieve Goals. I don't want to give up all the things I do without any hope of being ever being great at them (dancing, cycling, ukulele, greek...) I know the time I spend pottering around the house or seeing friends or visiting family takes time away from research and writing, but I don't want to give it up. I want space to compromise and travel with my tiny chosen family, even if it isn't great for my career. I want to work with friends on shared projects, even if they're tiny silly projects.

So, maybe I'm not going to be Awesome. I don't know what I'll be, but I think it'll be...nice. In a quiet kind of way. And that's okay.
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The first leg of our trip is done! We watched terrible movies on the plane (then accidentally talked about politics and disconcerted the people sitting near us) and had a tiny girl stare at our hair a lot. The stopover in Auckland was great - we walked from the city centre out to the Domain park and went to the museum there. (Although it wasn't open yet, so we slept on our faces on the grass for a bit.)

The museum was lovely. We spent a lot of time walking around the "Pacific People's" exhibit. I kind of want to live in the "Weird and Wonderful" bit, which is a really great exploring space for kids - it's full of small, soft, colourful spaces to sit, and a crazy collection of stuffed animals and bones and interesting rocks and dinosaur dioramas and spiders and frogs and (extremely stressed) hamsters. Also, the volcanoes exhibit! It has helpful tips on how to clean volcanic ash off your car, and also instructive lessons from previous disasters (such as: if authorities block of an area because of an immanent explosion, do not evade police roadblocks in order to get closer - it may well end badly for you).

Claire and I got into SF yesterday morning, and have spent the day wandering around with Tim and Star. We had dinner at a Vietnamese restaurant with them and some other lovely people who they all know. And Claire baked bread, because she's a lovely hippy. Shortly Claire and I will leave on the next leg of our trip: off to Reno to pick up Claire's mother, supplies, and the truck we're taking to Burning Man.
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I've had some nice catchups over the last few days. One of the things I'm really appreciating at the moment is having a whole heap of people (mostly ladies, but one or two of the man-types as well) who are terrible clever and insightful, and who aren't afraid to ask me the Tough Questions or tell me the Tough Things.

I am so lucky to have people who I have a whole heap of respect for who aren't afraid to disagree with me, and whose questions and requests for further explanation come out of their love and care.

Plus, people who are willing to let me babble on at length about Issues without telling me to STFU.

I know lj (not to mention dreamwidth) is pretty dead these days, but if you happen to be one of these people and you happen to read this: thank you!

Happiness

Jun. 10th, 2011 10:59 pm
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I have been finding the space to do things that make me happy again, including:

* I hung around in Northbridge for a while on Wednesday night. I had fifteen minutes to fill before meeting lovely-old-friend and lovely-new-friend for dinner, and I sat down in the Northbridge piazza to watch a documentary, and immediately a stranger sat next to me and started chatting. I like this! I like talking to strangers, and surprises, and the oddness of Northbridge.

* J invited a friend from uni around on Wednesday night, and when I got back from dinner I sat with them and the housemates in the lounge, talking about politics (live animal exports, how people see science) until 1 am. It is so restorative to have clever people in my life who are willing to pull apart ideas and ethics, and ask tough questions in gentle ways.

* I have been starting to do ukulele practice again, after a long absence (mostly to do with strange hangups and associations I have with ukulelestuff). I am finding new songs to play that are tricky, but not impossible, which is just what I need right now.

* Vegan cooking! Some of it works out and some of it doesn't, but I am feeling pretty good about vegan food at the moment. It almost never feels like I'm missing out.

* Getting back to research and writing. I'm having a hard time with it, mostly because after the last year of rushed teaching the slower pace of reading and thinking and plotting and planning feels decadently unproductive. But I'm happy to have ideas in mind and projects ahead of me that I know I'll get into eventually.

* People! J is absolutely and ridiculously lovely, and I am appreciating the heck out of him. Also, ladyfriends! Ladyfriends for crafternoon, and ukuleletimes, and Friday night museum visits (we went to a talk on dangerous marine animals: I am never going in the sea ever again), and dressups, and extravagant overseas trips, and dancing, and Always Having Someone Who Has My Back. Also, a variety of strange but delightful connections I have to people that are hard to describe, but which nevertheless make me feel much better about the world.

* Good spaces. I have always felt just a little odd in our house, because it's the first place I've lived where I haven't had my own room, and I haven't wanted to impose my crazy aesthetic on housemates. But I've rearranged the study/guest bedroom, and now it's colourful and useable and full of silly pictures, and I feel very happy in it. Also, in our room which I tidied up as well.

* Books! I keep forgetting to read, because I feel like I should be doing Productive Things! Always! But I have been making time, and I went and explored the Curtin library and found a book on women of the Beat generation, and it is so nice to be learning and exploring with no particularly aim.

That's probably enough for now, right? I am feeling fairly pleased about it all.
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There are many things from the last few weeks that I want to write about, but can't write about here. They're too important or private for the Internet, or not mine to write about in public.

I can write about the small things which have consoled me.

It has been so lovely to be welcome, to be able to be there, without a fuss made about it. I have felt grateful that there has been space for me to cook, do dishes, make tea, do all the small domestic acts that allow me to show love and care for the people around me.

I have felt quiet and steady and useful, because others have nurtured that tiny sprout of a feeling, after weeks and weeks of feeling helpless and overwhelmed. I like to be quiet and steady and useful, now and then, because it carries me through and makes me strong.

I woke up this morning and the first worries that sprang to my mind were about work, everything that needs to be done today, tomorrow, before Monday. That is a consolation in itself. I know I'll get it done, one part after another.

It is tremendously consoling to have a sense of myself as someone who can do what is needed, and provide comfort and care, even under difficult circumstances.

And I have been buoyed by the love and care of others. J, who has helped me to be strong and given me hugs when I wasn't, and all of Pink Hair Claire's wonderful words that I can carry with me whenever I need to, and House Claire who has made it easier to cook for people that I love, and my wonderful family, and all of the people who have sent messages of love and support.

The last couple of months have been hard, for a whole heap of reasons. But I think it's going to be okay. Now is the time for putting my house (literal and metaphorical) in order, finding a safe space for future adventures.
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I need a tag for entries that say: "hey, I know That Other Thing that was stopping me from being social is over, but now This New Thing is happening, so I won't see much of you, still."

This is another one of those entries.

I am back in Australia, and am now working full time (officially, rather than merely unofficially) in an actual office with my name on the door. Far more importantly, J's family is going through a very difficult situation, and I want to spend as much time with them as possible.

So I will probably be dividing my time up between work and family and home. I would still like to see people, but I think I will not have a lot of time and will mostly want to be at home, when I'm not doing other things. I want to nest and tidy, and make people tea, and cook for people that I love.

I'm going to try to make sure that work is something I can corral into my actual office time, and spend as much of the rest of my life as I can making small beautiful spaces and small beautiful things for the people around me, and for myself.

So, um, I guess what I'm saying is that once again: it's not that I don't like you. I do like you, very much! But there are some other things I need to do, for a while.
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It feels like the time has gone very quickly. There are still some friends I haven't had a chance to see, and most people I've seen I feel like I've hardly spent any time with at all. In the end, work's gone okay, I think. I have some very good interview material, and some projects that might expand and grow over the next few weeks and months (I hope!). I'm ready to be home, but there are lots of people and things I will miss about Bangalore.

I'm organising The Tiniest Unconference before I leave. It might end up being six people having dinner together, or it might end up being (very slightly) larger and more unconference-y. We'll see, I guess! Hopefully it will be a chance for me to share a bit of my work, but more importantly to introduce some of the people who I've spoken to who don't know each other already. I'm trying not to fret about it, and to just let it be what it ends up being.

I haven't done much shopping while I've been here. I'm comfortable with that! I am always stuck when it comes to buying presents for people, especially since if I buy for one person I want to buy for everyone. However, I have been thinking of getting a tawa (a flat cooking iron). Because a gift that lets me make masala dosas and chapatis more easily is a gift that just keeps giving. Hopefully. Should I do it? Yes? No?

That is all.

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First, the lessons:
* It is probably not a good idea to carry home a roti soaked in ghee and sugar in adequate packaging in your backpack. At least, not if you would not like to find a thousand ants in your backpack in coming days. If you enjoy a thousand ants, feel free to ignore this advice.

* I was pretty sick on Saturday night and Sunday during the day. I mostly spent the day sleeping, and drinking lots of water, and not doing anything absurd like trying to work or sit up. Then slept for 10 hours straight last night. I have still been a bit sick today, but well enough to do some work. Lessons learned: having a day off sometimes is probably a good idea! Also, coconut juice is good for rehydration (I knew this one already)! Also, one day is enough to rest, now back to work! (I think at least two of these lessons are good lessons.)

* I haven't been cooking while I'm here, because I have been daunted by the different kitchen setup and by cooking for people and fretting that I will get it All Wrong. But I couldn't eat much at all yesterday, and definitely not anything spicy, so I made myself a little mashed potato. And today my eating is still a little shaky, although I've been wanting to eat EVERYTHING, so I made some mashed potato-with-green-beans, and some tomatoes-with-onions, and noone said: 'peh! worst ever! stupid Australians!' I went to the supermarket to get ingredients instead of one of the little vegetable sellers (and I felt bad about it, but I wanted tofu - or 'soya paneer', as it was labelled). And it wasn't too scary, although one woman did just walk in front of me because I was queuing insufficiently aggressively. The guy behind me showed me how it was done by standing about five centimetres away from me the whole time I was Buying Things. Lessons learned: cooking is not too scary! I should do it, sometimes! Also, it's okay to not be good at queuing as long as I'm not in a rush.

In other news, I was taking an auto home from an interview a couple of days ago, and another auto pulled up next to us at the lights. And sitting in the auto was a goat. I looked at the goat, which was looking quite unconcerned, and had holes drilled into its horns that had little clusters of bells threaded through them. And the goat didn't look at me, because it had some serious staring off into space to do, but the guy sitting in the auto with it did. I think his curious looks at me were very similar to my curious looks at the goat. And then the lights changed and that was the end of it.
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* "Montessori school" means pre-primary.
* Auto drivers often have big stickers of actors on their windscreens.
* The cows are not just stray cows! They have homes, and they go back for milking.
* I am pretty sure I got called "sir" the other day.

I have been Getting Stuff Done. But I feel like there's a whole huge stack of other things to Get Done. I am pretty keen on having a little nap.
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I can't believe how quickly my time here has gone.Work work work )

I should say exciting things about being in India.

Like, did you know that people mostly do not walk on the pavement here, and walk on the roads instead? It is not because they enjoy seeing me anxious, it is actually because the pavement is mostly not that pleasant - it is often slabs of rock laid over the drains, so it doesn't smell nice, and then there's rubbish and other unsavoury stuff. The roads have more cars, but apparently an Agreement is reached, and noone dies (mostly).

And, the other day I completely shocked my friend by handing him my plate as we were packing up the dinner things. Apparently that is Not Done. He recovered well and we had a nice chat about it, but I had a few moments feeling like an awfully rude foreigner. You know, just for a change.

And, today I was cycling to yoga and I stopped to let an old man on a scooter past, and he smiled at me, and it felt totally awesome. I don't get smiled at all that much here. I used to think it was because I was doing something wrong all the time, but now I think it is mostly because people here are just less smiley. Not that they're necessarily less happy, it's just a body language thing, I think. (Or maybe I am actually doing something so wrong all the time that I make everyone around me very serious, and then they start smiling once I leave?)

It feels odd sometimes to emphasise the foreignness of India, like I'm contributing to making it into a strange exotic other land. Many things are the same! Many of the subcultures (geek, activist, academic) that I move in here are pretty similar to (and overlap with) subcultures in Australialand! But then, perhaps it is more interesting to write about the things that are strange and new, given that most people who read this aren't in India? Or not?

Either way (or any other way) I should probably go sleep on my face now. Sorry for flooding you with words, internets! If you have read this far, I am surprised! Also, grateful! It was very nice of you, when I know you have so many other things to do.

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Research is going more slowly than I'd like, but it's going. I have a few posts that I really need to start putting up on my grown up blog.

I'm meeting some interesting people doing good work, and I have some lovely people around me.

Last night I went to Z and K's house. Z is a researcher here doing some really useful work and K, her husband, is a hackertype. I played some capoeira with Ravi, who was also there, and had a nice dinner, and spent a lot of time sitting quietly in the corner with my computer. It was very restful, which was good for me.

*sigh*

Apr. 9th, 2011 06:33 am
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My alarm went off this morning at 5:15, and I managed to drag myself out of bed and wash my face and get ready for yoga, and then begin the long pep-talk that I need whenever I have an early morning ("you're doing this for a good reason! don't go back to sleep!" repeated over and over). Sent some emails, checked out Twitter.

Then I found out Dipti couldn't make it to yoga, meaning I was left to my own pitiful reserves of willpower. I ended up asking Twitter: more sleep? or yoga? Twitter, being a jerk, convinced me to go to yoga. So I got on my bike and went off, thinking, "yoga at 6:30, leaving at 6ish, should get there plenty of time". And then my brain warmed up, and suspicion began to dawn...

So I got to my yoga class late, walked two steps in (just far enough that everyone except the teacher could see me), saw that everyone had started and the room was pretty full, realised I would have to get people to move over to fit in, turned around and left.

I'm trying not to see this as a minor defeat. I'm going to see it as: morning bicycle ride! YAY!
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When I travel, it's always the small differences that are most surprising to me. I expect the cows on the streets and different food and not knowing the language.

Two small things:
* We went to the markets on the weekend. I enjoyed walking around: the smell of different fruit and vegetables, all of the colours, lots of things to point at and ask: "what's that? how about that?" I didn't notice at first, but each stall had a thick rope hanging over the fruit and vegetables. I started to pay attention to them when I saw one or two of the stallholders hanging on to them, and wondered if they were there to help with lots of standing up. And then a boy at one of the stalls near us grabbed a couple and used them to swing over the baskets of vegetables in front of them. There didn't seem to be another way to get out of the stall, with everything stacked up in the front. The boy picked something up, and swung back. It looked so practiced and fluid.
* Here, eggs seem to count as "non-veg". When I asked some of my vegetarian friends if they ate eggs, they looked at me like I was crazy. (Happily, this fits in well with the fact that I feel fairly comfortable having milk here, especially the milk we get to the house from the neighbourhood cows, but not eggs so much.)

In other news, I have been writing some stuff on my grown up blog. Much of it is probably not super-interesting to you, but maybe some of it is? It's hard to tell, really.
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Sometimes, there are a Difficult Few Days.

Sometimes, there are days when I talk to some of my best friends on Skype. (I am so glad we're living in the future.)

Sometimes, I get emails from people that I love.

Sometimes, I meet new people and old friends who look after me and hang out with me and help me think about work and are willing to indulge my sudden urge for sesame toast. (The Indian version of sesame toast is awesome.)

Hi, family! Are you reading this? I hope you're reading this. You know, I make sure that I write here reasonably often while I'm travelling for you. Because even though my friends love me and care about me, they are not usually worried that I've been kidnapped if I'm quiet for a day or two.

Hi, friends! Thank you for being my friends. It matters to me! I am missing lots of you!

Hi, strangers who read this! I don't know why you're reading this, but I guess you find it interesting now and then? Maybe say hello sometime, or something.

And now I will get back to trying to catch up on work, which is a constant and futile pursuit.

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I went to Hampi this weekend! We got to explore the Vijayanagara site a fair bit, which was awesome. I especially liked:
* A giant statue of Ganesha, tucked away inside a temple, looking very calm despite having been partially destroyed.
* Some of the temples have musical pillars! They're tuned to different pitches (?) so that people could play them. 
* A rocky outcrop where we sat and watched the sun set.
* A huge wall covered in reliefs of whales and fish and crocodiles. I stood and stared and pretended that I was underwater.
* Monkeys!

Also, I got to take my first overnight train trip. D. and I caught the non-A/C sleeper out, which was just like Indian trains in the movies except that there weren't a thousand people with all of their livestock. It was actually very nice - I rather like the way each bunk feels like a little room, and everyone creates their own self-contained space. We got the airconditioned sleeper back, which I also liked, although you can't open the windows.


And today:
* Lots of teaching work and research work and feeling more on top of things, work-wise.
* Cycling to yoga and back!
* Yoga! My teacher calls me, "Eh, what's that girl's name? Graduated Bob! Graduated Bob, right leg straight!"
* PANI PURI!!! 
* Accidentally having icecream with TBD and D, who knows me too well... when I say, "Oh, I suppose I might have a bite of yours if you have one", she says, "I know what your bite is! Come on, let's get icecream!" (At the moment, I am known for my ability to eat huge amounts, and to fall asleep within a minute whenever I get a chance.)


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