These days I’m using my growing energy levels—hooray for being off Prednisone!—to actively improve my health, strength, and flexibility, both physical and mental.
My Discardian practice of late is equal parts letting go and upgrading. I’m paring away what I no longer need to or care to have on my list, and leaning into creative efforts that match my current activities and interests.
So, an appreciative waving of a handkerchief to cocktail writing and nerdery as that ship sails off, and then turning with delight to join friends for storytelling and adventure in our D&D games.
The oldest posts here can also slip away across the sea of time. Here on the departing boat is a baby, me, determinedly sucking a thumb as someone out of frame holds the other hand, apparently trying with limited success to get a spoon of food in my mouth. In the background, a chalkboard with a cartoon, evidence of the wit and creativity of my young mother. Forward slightly and a round-faced toddler, able to sit up and crawl, enjoys a blanket on a lawn in the sunshine. Child-me is wearing a little blue dress and has a white fluffy bunny stuffed animal. Probably Easter, because my mother is sitting on the grass in a little Chanel-style suit in a pale pink I cannot imagine her wearing today. White pointed shoes. Knees held tight together because the skirt stops 2 or 3 inches above them. The controlled femininity of the 1960s, tempered by the freedom to get down on the ground with her little one.
Hard to feel the last image on this page recede out of the public eye, to fade into the normal obscurity of old family photos, rarely stumbled upon. Toddler Dinah gazes up happy, excited, at my beloved grandfather Bob, seen in profile with the corners of his eyes crinkled looking down at me. So often I wish I could show him something I just found online. He would have been made as sad as any of us by the inequality and polarization of these times, but oh how he would have adored the myriad devices and the ascendence of nerdery. Just the other day, as Joe chortled over the sub-reddit “What is that thing?” I wanted so much to show it to him.
And so, there it is. The good parts don’t actually go that far away. What I enjoyed about him, what he enjoyed and we loved to share with him, those live on into the century he didn’t get to travel in with us.
Chalk it up to aging, having a parent die, climate change, the general shaking up of assumptions that is the latter-twennyteens, but I’ve been wrestling with my creative goals in blogging.
Jason Kottke, who started before me (and that’s saying something), had a very helpful post recently, ‘The Legacy of Philip Glass‘. Glass said about the future of his works, “I won’t be around for all that,” he said. “It doesn’t matter.”
Now as someone trained in history and librarianship, that’s not a sentiment I swallow easily. As someone who has had seen the writing legacy of beloved people—pour one out for Leslie, for Brad—vanish or fade from the Web, that’s something that instills worry not a sense of release.
“I like this idea of thinking about lineage vs. legacy, because it means you can sort of reframe any worrying about immortality and how you’re going to project yourself into the future, and think more about what you’re taking from the past and what you’re adding to it that creates a more interesting and helpful present.”
That’s got me looking hard at what I’ve been doing with my ‘retroblogging’. I described it as writing an autobiography in slow motion. And, to pull a phrase from Kleon, it was centered in projecting myself into the future.
But the future doesn’t need more of me.
That’s why I decided decades ago not to have children; I do not require permanence of myself or of some sort of avatars of me.
That’s a reminder to turn the inputs into outputs. Instead of merely talking or documenting, amplify and reflect.
As I write this afternoon, I’m looking at old pictures and thinking what they can inspire. A wiggly handed baby with her mouth open and a bit of a combover being gazed upon with love by a woman with a small bouffant suitable to a 60’s soul backup singer. The same baby dancing horizontally—foot kicking, arms waving—with tongue sticking out of her mouth in concentration. Excited baby amidst toys, bracketed by grandmother and great-grandmother. Wiggling baby/toddler again, hands waving and mouth open, in lap of laughing mother, hair now smaller but in a cute ’60s dress that still evokes stylish femininity. Back to baby on the rose-printed blanket on the floor amidst toys including foil pie pans, thumb in mouth and hand gripping the blanket edge. Rolling and stretching hands to be picked up. Unable to sit up, but able to raise on hands to gaze into a doll’s face or at the camera. Puzzled by the toy grandpa beckons with, unsure if it’s worth releasing the toy in hand to reach for. A note about immunizations—Diptheria, Tetanus, Pertussis, Polio—which places this baby at a point in time. Baby in a little tabletop seat, like a carseat but before they came into use, gaze away from mother, thumb in mouth, other wrist held gently to keep that hand from interfering with the loaded spoon; a mealtime standoff. In mother’s lap, gripping the spoon as she coaxes me to cooperate and eat; she is beautiful, like an escapee from a Renaissance painting, and I am intently focused on taking control of my fate, even if it only involves this bite. And with intent, I become not “a baby” but “me”. In father’s lap in an armchair beside a board-and-cinder-block bookcase, gazed at by him and by mother sitting beside chair, her hair in transition from fancy updo’s to the long natural look I remember from childhood; they are so young, so young. And, the baby, me, is safe and happy.
Filter, absorb, create, refine. I mark the posts with the pictures private; nothing to offer others. The next time through, my thoughts above will become further distilled, and maybe then or the distillation after that, if ever, there might be something to carry on beyond my time.
Delayed by spending a lot of time this week watching fire news to be ready to assist Sonoma and Mendocino county family if they needed to evacuate (which none of them did and all have power again, yay!), but here’s where I landed for this election in San Francisco.
Mayor: London Breed She’s doing a great job shifting a lot of things that don’t change quickly; we’ll be reaping the housing growth and homelessness reduction benefits from her tenure for a long time.
Member, Board of Supervisors, District 5: Vallie Brown Deep local roots and brings powerful experience to the Board, and she’s been doing a good job. Definitely don’t want to vote for Dean Preston, who seems—based on his actions in elections since 2016—to place his political advancement over the good of the district. That he persistently tries to displace competent women in office is particularly problematic.
City Attorney: Dennis J. Herrera Doing a really great job.
District Attorney: Chesa Boudin Brings a new perspective and helps balance out the political viewpoints in city government so it isn’t entirely Breed-backed.
Public Defender: Manohar Raju Sure. Seems fine. Good endorsements.
Sheriff: Paul Miyamoto Backed by retiring Sheriff Vicki Hennessey, who I liked.
Treasurer: José Cisneros Keep a good thing goin’.
Board of Education: Jenny Lam Sure. Seems fine and more experienced than other candidates. Good endorsements.
Community College Board: Ivy Lee Sure. Seems fine. Good endorsements.
A, Affordable Housing Bond: YES Solidly endorsed. Opposed by the Libertarians who pretty much don’t like collective effort for long-term good if it might possibly cost them any money or ever inconvenience them for a minute.
B, Department of Disability and Aging Services: YES! Important thing on this one isn’t the renaming, it’s the requirement for three of the seven members that (at least) one seat be held by a person age 60 or older, by a person with a disability, and by a person who has served in the U.S. Military.
C, Vapor Products: NO NO NO! Ok, Joe Camel.
D, Traffic Congestion Mitigation Tax: YES We do not win the fight against greenhouse gases unless people’s behavior shifts and there are a LOT more cars on our streets since Uber and Lyft. Funds from this will help to make public transit more competitive and increase public safety.
E, Affordable Housing and Educator Housing: YES Opposed by the dang Libertarians again. Selfish fucks; it isn’t even a tax or a bond proposal! It changes zoning to allow more housing—which we super duper need in this city.
F, Campaign Contributions and Campaign Advertisements: YES Yay, ethics and transparency in campaign funding and ads!
Re: endorsements, if David Chiu endorses someone, I tend to take them more seriously. David Chiu has always carried himself as a thoughtful public servant, in my experience.
Cool stuff to notice in the sample ballot booklet: p. 4 – info on Enhanced Election Transparency p. 10-11 – delightfully large print double spread on Accessible Voting and Services p.13 – reminder that the 2020 Presidential Primary for California will be MARCH 3, 2020. Mark it on your calendar. Make a note, plan to vote! p.116 – just inside the back cover, after all the actual text of the propositions, is a handy ballot worksheet.
Kabalor is my original universe for fantasy gaming which moves away from the binary bias and colonialist baggage of certain other games built on wargaming and traditional divisions of good/evil, male/female, civilized/savage, people/monsters. The core tension is not a battle between binaries, but the shifting power dynamics among Chaos, Order, and Balance.
Rather than lock myself away to write a sourcebook alone, I’ve created a Patreon community where I can share the growing body of work as it is ready, hear feedback and ideas, and make a better game for us all. The more gamemasters and players of Kabalor, the more it will be the open, inclusive, diverse, fantastic universe we need. patreon.com/kabalor
You can click the ‘Follow’ button on the Patreon page to receive new free posts as they go up. Thanks for reading and sharing feedback with comments if you feel like it.
If you want to really get into it, you can become a patron. Your monthly $1 support allows you to see exclusive or early versions of materials shared with my patrons plus new content about Kabalor every week. Also you’ll get access to detailed discussions and polls about the content and what comes next.
As I share this new universe, because I grew up within and continue to enjoy a lot of privilege (white, cis, middle class, educated), I need to do the work of listening to under-represented voices. Finding the flaws and dismantling them will take a community. By supporting my patreon you support that work. I look forward to learning from and amplifying those voices.
21 years? That can’t be right. Twenty-one? Well, huh. Yeah. 21.
I probably would have done something more on the blog today if I hadn’t spent the day working on getting things set to launch a new project.
I’m creating a new universe for fantasy gaming, one which moves away from the binary bias and colonialist baggage of certain other games built on wargaming and traditional divisions of good/evil, male/female, civilized/savage, people/monsters.
Because I grew up within and continue to enjoy a lot of privilege (white, cis, middle class, educated) I need to do the work of listening to under-represented voices. Finding the flaws and dismantling them will take a community and I’ve begun to set that up on Patreon.
It’s been two years since I first began experiencing symptoms of the rare autoimmune disorder I’m living with. It’s fortunately very responsive to medications and I only rarely experience symptoms now, and when I do they aren’t the worst ones. But my gums are still sensitive—I can’t eat food nearly as spicy as I used to, and I wasn’t a heat fiend by any means—and my torso basically won’t tolerate a waistband. Bras can only be of the very softest kind—we’re way beyond “no underwire” here—and its a grudging negotiation. Thank goodness for overalls.
Seriously, Carhartt saved me. I loved overalls as a kid and when, desperately trying to figure out what to do with the “no waistbands” problem in January of 2018, I finally ended up reading a clothing discussion on an IBS forum and saw “You could always wear overalls, I guess, ha ha! :D” it was a hallelujah moment. Amazingly, that was just when they were on the cusp of becoming fashionable. When I was at my most vulnerable, dealing with all kinds of discomfort and anxiety from my diagnosis, the disorders, and the medication side effects, I would go out in my Carhartts and get sincere “I LOVE your overalls!” Such a blessing at that low point.
It’s been a year and a half. I’ve weathered the body distortions of the corticosteroid Prednisone—which redistributes your fat and gives you moonface—along with having some weight gain from profound fatigue interfering with my ability to exercise.
Now that I have tapered Prednisone down to 1mg/day, and hope in a month to be able to continue weaning my body off it, I’ve got a lot more energy, a lot fewer side effects, and a lot more confidence in taking on something like a wardrobe refresh.
Now overalls are not something that leaps to mind as the obvious thing to build a capsule wardrobe around, but I am up for the challenge. I’ll be on these medications for at least another year or two, probably more, and while I’m looking and feeling WAAAAY better (thanks!), overalls are gonna be my jam for a good long time to come.
Time to lean in and embrace overalls as the core of my style. And why not? They bring me constant compliments everywhere I go!
So, today is the start of my building a greatly pared down wardrobe. Time to let go of a lot of stuff that’s been sitting in the way, not being wearable, and find the good pieces hiding behind it that work with my current lifestyle, body, and style.
I began over the past week by reading and watching a lot about capsule wardrobes and finding your style.
What all this has brought me to is deciding my clothing tends to fall in 6 categories (with the last three each being used a tenth as much as any of the first three):
Routine (Lowkey Lapgoat* Ready)
Out and About (Routine out of the house)
Get Togethers and Shows
Hot & Lazy (a.k.a. tropical climate vacation)
My day-to-day life sees me bouncing from typing at my desk to watering plants in the back yard to cleaning to meditation. I want a comfortable, practical, unfussy, friendly, relaxed, cheerful wardrobe.
My style goals are:
Have a great base of would-wear-every-day items
supplemented with things to dress up fancier but still feel comfortable and radiate Dinahness
and built around items that encourage me to be active and creative.
Keep my look well-coordinated to offset the casual comfort with color and texture poise.
Keep black as one of my core colors because I look great in it.
So the first step to making that easy, is to look at what I have.
I gave myself clear space in the bedroom for the job—cleared top of the dresser and the whole surface of the bed—and pulled out and rough sorted almost everything but jackets and underwear/leggings in half an hour.
I roughly sorted things on the bed, colder weather on the left and warmer on the right, with stripes across the bed for my six categories (and my most used categories nearest the foot of the bed for easy access).
What was clear at this point was:
I had totally forgotten about some great stuff I already had (because it was in drawers that didn’t have daily items)
I have a lot of stuff that doesn’t fit and I’m only beating myself up by holding it over myself like some kind of body-conformity sword of Damocles
All that stuff folks say about you actually having MORE style when you work with a smaller, more carefully curated wardrobe is clearly true.
Having my main palette represented in actual garments made the next step go quickly.
I held every garment piled on the bed (except the black ones) up to see how well it went with each of my main colors. As I went I laid them out with the best matches nearest to me.
It’s amazing to see so many of the greys that were the core of my wardrobe moving off center stage, but with a changed complexion and chocolate brown coming in as a new main color, they need to make room for greige.
That choice to bring chocolate brown in as a main color is surprising since I basically own nothing that color besides these overalls. But I’ve been wearing these about half the time for over a year and a half, so they’ve had a good test. 😀
So, taking stock after a couple hours work on this, I had confirmed that my sense of the categories of my clothes matched reality when I rough sorted them. Then sorting by color allowed me to direct half a dozen items or so to the charity box (e.g., some blueish-gray shirts).
I had created a prioritized (by matchiness of color) set of things to try on and make sure they actually fit.
The trying on is the most physically tiring part, so I’m set a timer for 30 minutes to see how far I got. When it went off at 10 minutes to 4pm, I chugged on through up to the hour and got through all the Main colors and all but a couple dozen pieces of those arrayed along the floor beside the bed.
My plan, after trying on those last pieces, is to take the stuff that fits from the laundry basket where it was thrown in the fitting frenzy and arrange them in the now empty drawers. I think I’ll group them by Category and within that by cold/middling/hot (we have very variable weather here in San Francisco).
This went way faster than I feared.
*It’s great to be ready for unplanned baby goats in your lap.
In the picture, Grandma Susie is feeding me with a spoon. It’s a well-framed picture, her own left shoulder at the left edge of the picture, my face in the top half of the center line, framed by her arm holding the spoon, and behind me on the table a bowel of fruit. I’m looking over the spoon toward the camera. Grandma’s smile is visible around the side of her face. A lovely domestic scene.
What draws my eye, though, is not the tender moment, but trying to figure out what print that is on her shirt. Are those early typewriters with interspersed flowers? Or some sort of cash register?
That’s not to say I don’t love the sweet way Grandma is feeding baby me, but I don’t feel a gravitational pull toward toward the domestic bliss. Non-parenting was a good choice for me.
The next blog post in that month shows just how quickly people forget the scourges that once assaulted us. An immunization record I found says I got my first vaccine against Polio on that day.
Last in this month is a happy baby (me) at about 3 months old under a very nice baby blanket. Vague resemblance to me, but if the picture was unlabeled, I wouldn’t know it was. Still, a happy baby indeed.
Let’s go on to the next month. Visiting the other grandparents (my father’s), I’m much bigger, but still pretty floppy as humans go. I’m shown in a clever garment my mother made, basically what amounts to a sleeping bag with sleeves and hood. And, as my mother noted on Flickr when we were discussing the picture, “a zipper down the front for changes”. I could wiggle without kicking off what was keeping me warm. Pretty great for a pre-crawling person. I am still not to my present eye identifiably me.
A photo of my father looking at me as he props me up in his lap. I gaze up at him open mouthed, apparently fascinated. His expression in profile though is calm and neutral. Maybe all faces are subjects of intense interest to four month old babies. He sits on a bench, a photo on the wall behind him of his mother holding him as a baby. Above his head the photo of a past beloved dog and other family pictures are visible in the distance on the knotted pine wall.
When I think about the 21 year old men I’ve known throughout my life, I know that it would be extremely exceptional for one to be ready to make this life choice. I’m delighted to exist, don’t get me wrong! But I do wonder what the lives of those two very different people who came together to—surprise!—make me might have been if I hadn’t come along. My sympathy for those young folks is on the side of being able to have an ordinary college romance, learn from it and move on. Now I know my mother at least gained a great deal from the path of parenthood and I’m sure she wouldn’t have turned back the clock and caused me not to exist. My father felt enormous responsibility toward me, I believe, and genuinely liked me as a fellow human. But he wasn’t cut out for marriage and parenthood so young—few are!—and if he could somehow have known that I could be me and exist as a person while he side-stepped into a different time path, I think he might have. I do not think it would have made as much difference as he might have hoped, but perhaps the opportunity to engage more with his restlessness while young would have helped his journey in later years.
Then a photo of me in a dress made for my maternal grandfather’s christening in 1915. Right arm in motion, tongue sticking out a bit, probably kicking under the long white dress. A perfectly good baby. And many copies of this picture were passed around in the family. I came upon three and my uncle gave me a scan of the copy he had.
Another photo, perhaps from the same day, in a different little white dress, this one more gauzy, with silky ribbons, echoed in the cuffs of my socks. Very fancy outfits for photo day. I continue to wiggle happily. I look a bit Japanese in this photo. One of my eyes still retains more epicanthal fold than the other.
The next photo—three copies of it—has me in my little zipper-front sleeping bag outfit looking positively triumphant about being held up in a sitting position (by Grandma, I think, judging by the watch).
Naked (but mostly concealed by my mother’s arm) baby me looks at the camera as I’m lifted onto a towel after a bath in a big kitchen sink. There’s a toaster behind me.
A slightly eerie picture of me, possibly after bath with wet hair, laying on a plaid cloth, stuffed animal just slipping out the left side of the picture as I make claws with my hands.
The next picture looks more to me like a baby picture of my childhood friend Rick than of me. Grandma Susie holds me on her lap smiling. She’s wearing a flannel nightgown or housedress with lace around the flat collar. She is smiling and looking down to see my reaction as the photographer gets my attention. I’m a chubby-cheeked, somewhat sleepy looking baby here.
Still I don’t really see myself in these four-month-old baby faces. Well, maybe a little glimmer in the one where I’m being lifted. Something about the shape of the eye. Dinah just beginning to come through.