Archive for the ‘Karsten’ Category

Day 1 in Shanghai, in incomplete sentences

Friday, March 13th, 2009

Idea borrowed from Jae from her updates about her most recent vacation. I love the idea of documenting highlights, but not bothering to write up whole sentences and paragraphs to describe what can be 90% summed up in loose phrases.

Day 1:

Survived 14 hour flight with massive head congestion: blew through 3 pocket packs of kleenex; stayed high on Sudafed; read several chapters of ‘War and Peace‘ (seriously!); watched ‘Burn After Reading‘ (good stuff); ate too much; slept a bit. Happy reunion with Paris at airport (Charles is away on business but will be back Saturday mid-day). Introduced to Tom, their driver. Rush hour traffic into town.

Tour of apartment (wow!) & shown to our guest room suite (wow!). Paris should win awards for being super-thoughtful friend and hostess. It helps that their place is amazing.

Much-needed sickie nap for me while Karsten & Paris chat over snacks & wine.

Dinner of vegan fried rice and dumplings with tofu & spinach (and more wine), prepared beforehand by housekeeper apparently despite confusion because  “egg is not meat” so it should have been OK to include. She did an awesome job anyway. Can’t wait to meet her and thank her for such a delicious meal.

Amusing overview of content on Chinese TV stations. Introduced to ‘True Blood‘ - watched first 2 episodes. Alan Ball is a genius. Belgian chocolates and yet more wine. Paris points out that we can see The Bund from where we’re sitting in the living room. Have I mentioned their place is amazing?

Off to bed. Cozy with Karsten. Not a bad night’s sleep.

Day 2? Coming soon.


Saturday, September 13th, 2008

The hospital discharged me early yesterday evening. Karsten has had his hands full ever since. Keep him in your thoughts. :)

Sad news about Karsten’s dad

Saturday, August 9th, 2008

Karsten’s father passed away yesterday. He was 84, and he’d been dealing with a variety of illnesses including emphysema (despite having never smoked a day in his life) and prostate cancer (which he beat — it was the treatment that led to complications). So while his death was not entirely unexpected, it was still rather sudden.

He hasn’t decided if he wants to be present for the visitation, but I think he’s leaning towards going. I’m navigating this as carefully as I can, because even though I know Karsten and his dad had a complicated relationship, I think Karsten is more affected than he expected to be.

We’ve been through so many shades of loss in the ten years we’ve been together, from the long, drawn-out, excruciating loss of my own father to the abrupt and devastating loss of Karsten’s mother, and now the sudden and emotionally puzzling loss of his father. We could really write a book. I suppose it would be more appropriate if we just wrote a song. Maybe that’s the project for this week.

We’re well preserved!

Saturday, May 31st, 2008

We’re well preserved!

Originally uploaded by Kate O’
(Thanks to Busy Mom for the subject line. :) )

Not sure why this didn’t post to my blog when I posted it to flickr. That whole “post to flickr and your blog at the same time” function is kind of sketchy, I find.

The moment we’d been waiting for finally arrived, and our house won a preservation award from Nashville’s Historical Commission. We genuinely didn’t think we’d win, sitting at the ceremony watching all the other winners be presented, with projects far bigger than ours. But when they called out our names, we sure weren’t going to turn the plaque down!

Karsten is thinking of wearing it on a chain around his neck. He says he’s busted up enough concrete around here to have earned it, and I quite agree. But in all likelihood, it will be as it is intended: mounted at eye level next to our front entrance. In this picture, I am holding it approximately where it will end up.

Things that probably deserve their own post

Sunday, March 16th, 2008

Yes, each of these probably merits a post of its own, and my blog has been sorely neglected of late. But since I’m powering through my to do list, I’m giving them each a bullet point, and I may choose to come back to one or more of them later.

  • I’ve been working very, very hard. If you visit over the next few months, you may see some cool changes start to take place.
  • I’ve been traveling a lot. Since the beginning of February, I’ve been in San Francisco, New York, Cincinnati, Salt Lake City, Chicago, and Boston. And not in Nashville very much, clearly.
  • My 17-year-old cousin (well, first cousin once removed) has lymphoma. But she’s got a great attitude and a lot of fight in her. I’m thinking a lot about my cousin and her family.
  • My coworker’s 10-year-old nephew just died from cancer after 9 months in the hospital. And then, at the funeral, the same coworker’s mother-in-law collapsed, had a heart attack, and died. I’m thinking a lot about that family.
  • Karsten and I are about to go on our first cruise. It’s a vegetarian cruise.
  • This weekend is the fifth anniversary of the crazy little experiment Karsten and I performed that we like to call “getting married.”
  • I finally convinced Karsten to join Facebook. We’re now married on Facebook! I feel so hip.

Birthday present - for both of us

Saturday, February 9th, 2008

Birthday present

Originally uploaded by Kate O’

Around the middle of December, Karsten was getting ready to start making visual art again after a long, intense period of house renovation, and in the middle of a period of exhaustion and depression, he needed a comfortable project to ease him back into it. Unfortunately, he’d also gotten his mind set on oil painting, which is a medium he’d done almost nothing with since art school.

I’m no artist, and I know almost nothing about oil painting except what I’d learned from Karsten while he’d been doing research, but I do know projects and I know how complexity compounds difficulty in execution. And I know Karsten, and how ready he is to feel bad about himself when something he tries doesn’t go quite right.

So I was worried that he would take on a painting project that would require a lot of skill with oil paint and he’d get frustrated and disappointed in himself. I tried to help him think of something that would reduce the variables in the process: we talked about copying an image from somewhere else and doing it in solid tones. The thought was that not having to work from an entirely original concept seemed like it would reduce the risk of losing faith in his own artistic vision due to medium complications, and not having to make elaborate color mixing decisions seemed like it would reduce the complexity of the painting and leave him to get familiar with other elements of technique, such as the application of the paint itself.

And then I happened across a print in a Chiasso catalog (which is seemingly no longer available). It was orange and white, like the colors I’m starting to use in my new home office concept, and featured a simple silhouette of a vine. I really liked it, but I thought it lacked a sense of animate life and needed a perched bird to be truly perfect. And I saw a wonderful multi-effect opportunity emerging.

When I asked Karsten if he thought he could paint the picture for me, he was unsure if he was up to the challenge. That was his fatigue and depression talking, of course, and I did worry that he might not be ready to try it, and that if he tried and felt like he failed, he’d be crushed, but he agreed to give it a try so I crossed my fingers.

It took several weeks, and I got to peek at it during the process, and it was always just as wonderful as I hoped.

He presented it to me a few weeks ago, and I have it sitting on a shelf in my home office, waiting until we finish painting the walls from their current dirty-pepto-bismol-pink to a simple crisp white before we hang it.

You can see how it fits in with some of my office accessories in this picture.

I just love it. It’s about the best birthday present I can imagine, for so many reasons — not least of which is that Karsten now has so much more confidence about taking the next step with painting. So maybe it’s sort of a present for him, too.

How about a REALLY happy new year?

Tuesday, January 1st, 2008

I thought about writing a year-end update yesterday, but the truth is, not all that much of note happened. And that’s a pretty good thing, as it turns out, because I was also thinking yesterday about how I’m feeling more balanced and centered than I have in — gosh, what? — maybe 8 or 9 years.

In the meantime, the highlights were clear:

  • Karsten and I celebrated our 10th anniversary of being together and being crazy in love by going to Paris, world capital of romance. And it was romantic. The trip wasn’t 100% perfect all the time, but it was wonderful on balance. As for being together 10 years: wow. Our ties to each other just keep getting stronger, and having that is the best thing life can offer in any year.
  • I started working at in January of 2007, and it’s been a really good move for me. I worked a lot (so much so that I seem to have lost my ability to update blogs), but I’m really OK with it. In fact, by far most of my efforts and energy in ‘07 were directed towards helping make something really special happen there. And it looks like that will be the case in 2008, too, and again, I’m OK with that. (Although if that’s still the case in 2009, I will have to re-evaluate my effectiveness. I want to be able to find better balance around then.)
  • We got the front porch, doorway, and fence built, and the front of the house is transformed. I find so much pleasure in those last few yards of my drive home, coming up over the top of the hill in front of us, looking at such a charming house and being perfectly content to live there. I’ve never had that feeling about a place where I’ve lived before, and I don’t take it for granted that I’m this lucky. (And who knows — we might even be able to begin the major addition and renovation in 2008.)
  • Karsten and I got close to another song placement, and although it didn’t ultimately come together, we ended up having much-needed clarifying conversations about our level of commitment to our songwriting (both still very committed) and how to refine our writing process under our current highly-unavailable circumstances (maybe more on that later). That clarity should help us over this next year, too, as we both continue to be heavily distracted by other areas of work (me with my job, him with renovation and visual art) — we should still be able to make progress, as long as we continue to want to. And so far, we still want to.

There were other events, of course: stressful conflicts at work, pests in and around the house, disappointments, disagreements, and so on. But they don’t stand out in hindsight, and that tells me exactly what my resolution for 2008 needs to be:

I resolve to find as much happiness in the current space of every moment as I possibly can, remembering that, in the end, it’s the happy moments I’ll want to carry with me.

May 2008 be the happiest of new years for all of you, as well.

Karsten at Oktoberfest

Tuesday, October 16th, 2007

Check out the pic of Karsten and our neighbor Jeff at Oktoberfest. Taken by the lovely and talented Sheila at A Blessed Mess.

Good question!

Thursday, October 11th, 2007

Someone hit my site from Google looking for “nicknames for Karsten.” Man, I wish I could tell you. Aside from “The Hammer,” which is really specific to my Karsten, I don’t really have anything for you. Karsty? He’d sneer at me for that one. Sten? I think he’d just look at me like I was crazy if I tried it.

Yeah, sorry, I got nothing.

The vacation that keeps on giving

Sunday, September 30th, 2007

You may have noticed I haven’t been posting in the last week. I didn’t want to make it too obvious when exactly we were going to be gone, but Karsten and I were in Paris for our 10th anniversary and in Amsterdam for his birthday.

We were scheduled to leave last Friday and arrive Saturday morning, but as it happened, we encountered a major traffic jam en route to the airport and missed our flight. About 30 or 40 minutes before the flight was scheduled to leave, while we were still only a few blocks from home, I knew we weren’t going to make it and called Expedia. The next few hours were a grueling exercise in trying to coax compassion out of apathetic customer support specialists. The ones at Expedia tried to pass me off to Air France, and the ones at Air France tried to pass me off to Expedia. Because we’d missed our flight, there was a sense that we would not be able to rebook it, but because we’d been on the phone with both Expedia and Air France prior to the flight’s departure (thanks to the aforementioned apathy and pass-the-buck-ism of each support department), there was a sense that we might be able to be reclassified and get on the next flight out. But it took losing my temper with a supervisor at Expedia and breaking down into sobs while exclaiming how important this trip was to me and my husband before that guy finally took pity on us and helped us change our itinerary. Cancelling the trip was an option, but without having, say, a medical emergency as an excuse, we would have lost most of the money we’d already paid for the trip due to the late notice of the cancellation. So we paid through the nose for new tickets, left Saturday mid-day and arrived in Paris on Sunday morning, one day later than planned and a lot poorer. But — I kept thinking — at least we weren’t in the accident that caused the traffic jam in the first place. There’s always perspective in that.
Anyway, you might say the trip was off to a bit of a rough start. And it was costing us more money than planned, so it had a lot to live up to.

Overall, it was truly wonderful — it really was — but parts of it were also really hard. Travel can be so exhausting, you know? And between jet lag and noisy hotel rooms (our room in Amsterdam overlooked a busy alley right near Centraal Station, so it was pretty much bustling all night), neither of us slept well most of the time.

Breakfast at cafe facing our hotel (with striped awning)And everything was SO expensive! I couldn’t get over how much meals were costing us. We weren’t being decadent but we also didn’t want to be overly frugal. Still, a modest sit-down dinner with an appetizer, a main course each, and a glass of wine each (which was almost always cheaper than soda, for perspective) ran us €45 — or about $65! — more than once. Usually, though, we were cautious about eating very little, and my loose-fitting clothes attest to that. Well, they attest to that and all the walking we did.

But we found so much to love about Paris, even when a waiter rudely refused to serve us, and even when our hotel front desk staff wasn’t technically proficient enough to help us with printing out the vouchers for our Metro and museum passes, bless their French hearts. And we both loved Amsterdam, even with all the ignorant, boorish Americans hooting and whooping it up, and even when a pickpocket almost got me but was thwarted by a random bike near-collision that made me turn my head in time to see the would-be thief sneaking up behind me.

Palais du Luxembourg and the Jardin du LuxembourgParis was big and loud and busy and dirty by day, but in spite of all that, still way more charming than, say, New York, and by night it was seductive and sly. We walked EVERYwhere, and even though we walk a lot here, my feet are still recovering. It was intense. We had no agenda; we just wandered where we felt like wandering and asked each other often what we wanted to do next. The afternoon we spent in the Jardins du Luxembourg was one of the most relaxing times I’ve ever spent. I sat on a bench with my Moleskine notebook and wrote poetry and random observations while occasionally looking up to enjoy the manicured gardens and fountain pools, and Karsten wandered the grounds watching people and studying the artwork.

Paris Apple Expo 2007My Mac-loving friends will appreciate that we found out about an Apple Expo going on last week in Paris, and we decided to stop in for a quick visit on Tuesday. I needed a travel adapter for my laptop’s power cord anyway, and that seemed like as good a place as any to pick one up. It was kind of a boring expo, though, so I don’t have much else to report about that. But I went to an Apple Expo in Paris! I think that earns me some serious Mac geek credentials.

Like I said earlier, though, there were parts that were really hard. Partly, I’m sure, because we were so exhausted and overwhelmed, Wednesday evening — our anniversary — turned sour unexpectedly and we fought bitterly. We so rarely fight that it’s always extremely hard on us when we do, but then to fight in the context of this much-anticipated vacation on this much-anticipated anniversary milestone was a big hurt and a big disappointment to us both, I’m sure. And all that anticipation was no doubt a culprit in feeding our hopes and expectations for how the trip would turn out — and I’ll be completely honest: mine especially. But eventually we found some resolution, got a little sleep, and like the grown-ups we strive to be, got on the train to Amsterdam the next morning, trying to make the best of it, trying not to let this over-hyped, over-anticipated, over-priced vacation be completely ruined by all of our best intentions.

Amsterdam canal cruiseUnsurprisingly, things started out rough in Amsterdam on Thursday, since we were operating on so little sleep and still, I’m sure, a little raw from fighting the night before. But by Thursday evening, we’d relaxed and settled into a pretty good groove and on Friday we were back to our old selves, laughing and having a great time enjoying each other’s company.

By Saturday morning, when we dragged ourselves and our heavy bags to the airport to fly back home, I was starting to feel sick and sore, with a slight burn in my throat. We were both drooping with exhaustion. I took an Airborne tablet and drank a lot of water on the overseas flight. But by last night, on the flight from Newark to Nashville, I was getting sicker and unable to keep my eyes open at all.

I woke up today with a searing burn in my throat, my head full of congestion, and my body aching all over. I’m most miserably sick, but I’m very happy to be home. And don’t get me wrong: I’m also incredibly happy that we took the trip. We experienced so much that we wouldn’t have wanted to have missed. And for all the headaches, frustration, disappointment, and hurt feelings, we are genuinely more in love than ever and I sense that our relationship is stronger for all the good and all the bad we rode out together. We never lost sight of how much we love each other, and that celebrating that was the reason for our journey anyway. Some of the best moments we had were when we remembered that most clearly: making each other laugh in the Louvre; daydreaming about — and then laughing about the unlikelihood of our enjoying — selling our house in Nashville and moving into a tiny apartment in the Latin Quarter; leering tipsily at each other over champagne; reminiscing about the beginning of our relationship while looking out over the rooftops of Paris; and so on, and so on.

Those are the memories I’ll be trying to keep with me. We can grow on those. The other memories are useful to grow from, but after that they’re not helpful anymore. I hope and believe we’ll be able to get what we need out of them and move on into even deeper and more meaningful times in our lives together.

And hell, if that’s what comes of this trip, that was worth going through anything for.

[More pictures are up at Flickr.]

Non-comformist appearance + musician + artist = hopeless drug addict?

Wednesday, September 12th, 2007

It’s hard not to be irritated with doctors in general right now.

Let me back up for a second. Ever since the rat problem in the back yard and the flea infestation in the house and all the cat sicknesses, and all the rest of it, Karsten has been having a lot of trouble sleeping. He hardly sleeps, and then when he does sleep, he’s been waking up with major anxiety attacks. You can imagine how, after a while, that would start to make you not want to sleep at all.

I’ve been trying to convince him to go to the doctor and get a prescription for Ambien or something similar. He’s willing to take something over the counter, but I foresee the possibility that this will turn into a fairly long-term arrangement and I feel like a doctor should be monitoring it.

But the problem is, doctors have had a history of misjudging and mistrusting Karsten, especially when he goes in asking for a prescription. They think he’s a drug addict, and this seems to be based partly on his somewhat non-conformist appearance and partly on the fact that he works in the arts. Once, when he was being examined for sinus problems, a doctor said “You’re a musician, so you’ve used a lot of cocaine, right?” while nodding his head at Karsten as if to encourage him to agree. When Karsten replied (somewhat indignantly, no doubt) that he’d never used cocaine at all, the doctor regarded him with a suspicious look and refused to give him any medication at all.

Another time, when our apartment neighbors back in San Jose were making our lives miserable (one actually spit in Karsten’s face) and we were both jittery wrecks, Karsten went to the doctor — a different doctor, of course — and asked for something to help calm his nerves, like Valium or something, because he couldn’t write at all. This doctor also asked about Karsten’s recreational drug use (none) and refused to give him anything stronger than what amounted to a placebo.

After all this, I think it’s pretty understandable that he’s reluctant to go in asking for a prescription for sleeping pills.

But I suggested that he explain his state of mind, explain what’s been going on, and ask the doctor for a recommendation. If the doctor refuses to prescribe something, I said maybe he should offer to take a blood test to prove he doesn’t use drugs. He actually seemed comforted by having that card to play and it sounds like he’s going to go.

Has anyone else ever received this kind of suspicious treatment from doctors? If so, what do you do to ensure the outcome you’re hoping for?

Might as well kick the tires on this thing

Sunday, September 9th, 2007

I’m not finished uploading old content yet, and I don’t quite have the layout and functionality I’m planning to have, but let’s go ahead and get this show on the road, shall we?

I’ve moved, and the majority of my blogging will now be done at The Bee Hive over at Honey Bowtie Music. I’d claim that you can expect a tighter focus on songwriting and music, but if you’ve read me at all you probably know I’m going to talk about whatever I feel like talking about.

Setting up a blog at has been in the plans for a while. I’ve wanted to tie the time I spend on blogging back into an area of my life that I’m passionate about in a meaningful way. And I wanted to give Karsten the opportunity to contribute in a way that would be relevant and interesting to him. Don’t expect to see too much from him — he hates typing. But if anything could get him to contribute anyway, it’s having the discussion take place here, in this context. We may bring him around yet.

Even with genuine motivation to get started, though, I was pretty put off by how much work I thought it would be. It helped so much for me to be so involved in setting up Music City Bloggers so I could get some heavy exposure to the inner workings of Wordpress. I wasn’t really wrong about the level of effort — I’ve spent the entire weekend getting this thing set up and migrated. But so far I’m pretty impressed with the flexibility of this platform. I think I’m going to like it here.

Anyway, for the time being, I will be replicating content and comments between The Bee Hive and High Holy Mass of Contradictions, but that may not be the case for long. I’m still deciding how best to use the LiveJournal account — it has a pretty respectable presence for a blog I never really put much effort into promoting. That may come in handy.

In the meantime, though, the main action is now at The Bee Hive. Please update your feeds and your blogrolls. Speaking of which, if you read me regularly but haven’t had me on your blogroll, now might be a nice time to add me. I could sure use the link love while I’m getting this thing rolling. Thanks!

Unexpected efficiency: the government edition

Saturday, July 21st, 2007

Karsten and I both just went through the rigamarole to get our passports processed, and although we have several months before we’re planning to take our European vacation, we’ve heard enough horror stories about delayed applications that we decided to pay the premium for express processing. It was definitely pricey (I think it added something like $100 between the two of us) but it was worth not taking the risk that we would have had to skip the trip.

Anyway, long story short: Karsten’s passport arrived two days ago, just a week and a half after he sent in the application. I’m seriously impressed.

(Of course, mine has yet to show up. Watch it take, like, 10 weeks.)

Over in Germantown: No, the straight kind, what else?

Sunday, July 8th, 2007

Karsten: Oh! I guess I thought that was gay.
Neighbor-friend: Like, homosexual gay?

Long term relationship = communication shorthand

Sunday, June 17th, 2007

him: I need to see a movie with lots of explosions and death.
me: Oh, did you call your dad?

Picked a fine time to leave me

Wednesday, June 13th, 2007

I keep forgetting to mention that the guy who’s painting the tippy-top of the front porch (which I’m thrilled Karsten isn’t going to do himself) is the son of the guy who wrote (co-wrote?) “Lucille.”

Now, come on. How Nashvegas is that?

View from my outdoor office

Friday, May 25th, 2007

View from my outdoor office
View from my outdoor office,
originally uploaded by Kate O’.

This is what I’m looking at as I work right now.

Karsten needs this

Friday, May 4th, 2007

I need to find a way to get one of these for Karsten.

I can’t think of a subject stupid enough

Thursday, April 26th, 2007

I backed out of the backyard into the alley this morning — naturally, we’re parking out back these days — and was detoured when I got to the end of the alley by Morgan Park Place construction blocking my normal route out to I-65. So I didn’t drive by the front of our house, as I like to do each morning.

Ten minutes later, I got a call from Karsten asking if I’d driven by the front of the house this morning. Strange that he should ask, I thought. No, why?

Well, apparently, someone nicked seven boxwoods from our front yard garden.

Let me just repeat that. Some clever burglar determined it worth his or her while to yank boxwood shrubs out of our garden. Small ones! I mean, have you seen our garden? I’m definitely not claiming it’s the most splendorous garden in all of the South or anything, but it’s got some pretty nice plants in it. The underwhelming hedge we’ve been attempting to grow with a bunch of young boxwood plants is pretty much the least appealing thing in the yard. And this wasn’t just a random act of boredom — someone took the time to grab seven of these things.

Now of course after explaining all of that, I’ll admit that I’m now dreading the disappearance of nicer plants in the garden — they’re sure to be the next to go.

Karsten and I have been told by folks who’ve lived in the neighborhood for a while that plant thefts used to be more common when some vendors at the Farmer’s Market used to buy plants from folks off the street to resell them, no questions asked. We’ve heard that this practice has been discontinued, so I have no idea what the boxwood thief is planning to do with the young shrubs. By ripping them out of the ground as he or she apparently did, the thief probably shocked them enough that they won’t do well when replanted (especially since pretty much all vegetation is still in recovery mode from the Great Easter Freeze), so if the idea was to plant the boxwoods, it’s not likely to be a happy outcome. Maybe I’m mean-spirited, but somehow that makes me feel a little better.

Also worth noting is that, a few weeks ago, someone apparently stole a young but still pretty large tree from the front yard of the house next door (which is for sale — the missing tree was noticed about an hour before they were having an open house). Earlier that day, I’d seen a guy riding by on a bike carrying a shovel. Not to say that’s related, but it could be. Apparently it wouldn’t be the first plant theft in the neighborhood involving a getaway bike, believe it or not.

We were already planning to install a period-appropriate iron hoop-and-spear fence, but all this makes me want to get right on it. (We already have enough motivation because of the bird feeders that keep getting stolen.) Karsten’s calling the guy today to see when we could get started.

Geeky love

Wednesday, April 4th, 2007

Karsten’s profession of love to me this morning: “You’re the improbability closest to impossibility.”

Tell me, who wouldn’t swoon?

Changing the front of our house and the ever-changing housing front

Saturday, March 17th, 2007

Good news – we got our loan to do our front porch / entryway work! Yay! What’s especially cool about this is that when we went into the banks to start the application process, we told them what we thought the value of our house was but we aimed pretty high, knowing that the appraiser would most likely be coming in to say “yep, it’s worth that much” or not. Somehow the numbers got mixed up, though, and the mortgage guy gave an even higher figure to the appraiser, who came back saying it wasn’t worth quite that much, but placed it almost exactly at the figure we originally gave. So in just about two years’ time, our house has increased in value by over 60% of what we bought it for. Not too shabby! Some of that is directly attributable to the appreciation of home values in our neighborhood overall, of course, but the new windows and some of the other work we’ve done were factors in the increased value, as well, so that feels good.

Anyway, this means that our front porch and entryway work can begin in the next few weeks, and the bulk of it should be done by late spring. The only part that will probably have to wait is painting, which will likely happen in the fall. And for the next little while, we’ll have to use our back door only, which will be weird. But I think it’s going to look great. I can’t wait.


Home is where my heart is

Wednesday, February 14th, 2007

The trip back from SLC involved a canceled flight, puking in the airport, and lost luggage, but it’s all over now and I’m simply happy to be home. I very nearly kissed the ground when we landed. Of course, I’ll soon be off again, bound for NYC, but let’s not think about that just now, shall we?

It doesn’t take much travel these days to make me appreciate being home. I worked from here yesterday, which was really nice. It gave us the flexibility to meet up for lunch at Baja Fresh with some of my former coworkers from the music technology gig, and that was a total blast. Aside from the ridiculous delay on one person’s one measly taco, it was an entirely wonderful experience. I really miss them, but I’m relieved that we’re actually staying in touch.

Karsten and I also dropped into a few banks after lunch and got some ideas on financing our front porch work. That’s looking promising. It’s going to look seriously great.

And then around sunset, Karsten and I walked downtown to the new H.G. Hill Urban Market to pick up some mushrooms for dinner. I’d read CeeElCee’s appraisal and basically agree with it, except that I’d add they did a great job with the vertical space. (And Smiley, if it were up to me you’d be a Metroblogger already.)

On our way back home, we stopped in at the Germantown Cafe to have a drink at the bar. After all this time, I still get a little thrill out of being able to pop in for a drink at such a great place.

And, oh yeah, tomorrow is Valentine’s Day. *yawn* Although actually, rather unusually, I bought Karsten a present this year. I can’t tell you what it is in case he sees this before his gift shows up, but I think he’ll like it. As for me, I don’t need any gifts — I already have the love of my life — what more could I possibly want? (All together now: awww.)

Oh, I almost forgot!

Wednesday, October 11th, 2006

According to the HRC, the theme of this year’s coming out day is “Talk About It.” They’ve got a “Sorry Everybody“-style collection of pictures of people posing with signs that say “Talk About It.”

I’m bisexual. But I’m also too lazy to print out a sign, take a picture of myself, and upload it, so I’ll just talk about it here instead, shall I?

Step 1: Coming Out to Myself
I started my coming out process (and it is a process, rather than one big step — and that process continues as long as you continue to meet new people) in 1991. That was the year I started college. I knew before that, in a way, that I was attracted to both men and women. What I couldn’t tell was whether those attractions made me completely normal or psychopathically deranged. Because while I had plenty of exposure to gay and lesbian people (well, plenty of exposure to gay males — it was rare that I encountered a lesbian), I had never heard of anyone who was attracted to both men and women… but I had never heard that it wasn’t possible, either, or even normal. Still, I kept it under my hat, hoping someday it would all make sense to me.

And one fine day, in August 1991, it did. I was walking around with my new roommate, Andrea, and all across campus there were informational tables set up for student groups. And that was when I first saw the word: Bisexual. It was on the banner for Pride, the GLBT student group. I could parse it right away: bi meaning two, and sexual… well, let’s just say I definitely knew what that meant. I stopped in my tracks and stared at the word. I even said it out loud. I can’t remember if Andrea looked at me funny right then, because I was too caught up in my own world. And then we moved on, and I didn’t say anything else about it for the rest of the day.

But the next day, after musing on it all night, I said to Andrea, “You know, I think I’m bisexual.” And she said, “Yeah, I know. It was obvious when you saw the Pride sign yesterday.”

Step 2: Coming Out to My Parents
I came out to my parents in 1993, just before leaving the country. At the time that felt like really smart timing, but in retrospect it gave us too much time apart with them unable to ask questions or have follow-up conversations, and in years to follow, they did their best to pretend I’d never said it. Even when I would deliberately make references to this “ex-girlfriend” or that “girl I was dating,” it was just dropped as quickly as possible.

Step 3: Coming Out to My Sister
I came out to my sister in a letter in 1996, just after I’d moved to California. She’d told me before I left that she was a good pen pal, and since we’d never been close, she indicated an interest in getting to know each better through writing letters. I included the fact that I was bi in the first letter I sent her, and I never got a response. For years, I thought this was her rejection of my queerness. It wasn’t until last year, as she and I were both giving care to our dying father, that I broached the subject. And it turned out she had never received the letter. She knew about my being bi before that point anyway, as my parents had told her, and she says she would’ve reassured me that it wouldn’t change anything. Instead, the letter that got lost in the mail was one of the causes of a 9-year rift between us.

Step 4: Coming Out to My Extended Family
I came out to my extended relatives a little bit by accident, in 1998. I’d volunteered to help coordinate a family web site, and in the process included a link to my personal web site. At the time, I was running a large, high-profile bisexual resources web site, and it was prominently linked from my home page. I didn’t worry about this, because I was under the impression that at some point, my parents had divulged this bit of information to the rest of the family, and that no one would be finding out this way. This was not the case. I received a scathing email from my uncle, who called me immature and selfish, and told me I was hurting my parents.

On the bright side of that hurtful incident, my dad came to my defense, writing a letter back to his younger brother and telling him that his response has been “extreme and totally unenlightened as well as un-christianlike” and adding that his “unfair and unkind judgment” of me was “totally unacceptable.” If my dad hadn’t already been my hero, he would have been immediately promoted based solely on that one letter.

Step 5: Not Becoming Invisible
In 1997, I met the love of my life. He happens to be male, and he happens to be straight, and initially that was hard for me. I didn’t want to limit my identity to just the “heterosexual side” (I don’t actually conceive of my sexuality as having sides, which is why I use the quotes, but it’s simplest to explain it that way). I feared that if we were monogamous, I would be defined as straight, and that felt deeply wrong. But being involved with other people has never worked out well for us, and we’ve been mostly monogamous for a large portion of the nine years we’ve been together. I’m still bisexual, I still find women attractive (just as I still find men attractive — occasionally!), and I still have major misgivings about being thought to be straight. But I have no regrets about being with Karsten, and our love is broad enough and complex enough that it makes sexual orientation a moot issue.

Step 6, 7, 8, …
And so it goes. Every time I meet new people, every time someone makes a gay joke, every time I hear someone ignore the possibility of bisexuality, there’s an opportunity to out myself. I’m less forward about it in some ways now than I used to be, partly because I live in a more culturally conservative area than I ever have before, partly because I find myself questioning how relevant it is to anyone but me, and partly because it’s just there in the background, not bothering me, not needing to be announced, not needing to be talked about.

Except for today. Today I’m talking about it. I hope it helps someone understand themselves or someone else just a little bit better.

Happy Coming Out Day, everyone.

Our new meerkat painting!

Tuesday, August 1st, 2006

Our new meerkat painting!
Our new meerkat painting!,
originally uploaded by Kate O’.

Sorry, I’ve been meaning to post an update on the animal art auction and have been too swamped. Or lazy. But swamped makes me sound more important, I think, so I’ve been swamped.

Anyway, we won a painting! And not just any painting: a meerkat painting!

Karsten loves meerkats. All along, I was hoping we’d find a good painting done by meerkats. But the first few we saw were kind of disappointing. Cute, of course — it’s impossible to imagine meerkats painting without being nearly cuted to death — but each of the surfaces had very little pigment on it, so there wasn’t much to be cuted by.

But then we saw this one, and we both agreed it was wonderful. And the colors in it even complement the shabby chic aesthetic we’re going for in the bedroom. So we bid on it and guarded it throughout the evening, and we won it! For a lean $52 (the auction sheet stated its value at $90ish, and just for the frame and matte I’d say that’s about right).

So if you click through to the rest of the pictures on flickr, you’ll be able to see more of the animal art that was up for auction. It was really a fun evening. If it happens again and you’re local, you don’t want to miss it.

2005 Year-End-y thingy

Thursday, December 15th, 2005

1. What did you do in 2005 that you’d never done before?

Started taking anti-depressants. Got my first single-song contract. Somehow that combination seems very rock’n'roll, so I’ll leave it at that.

2. Did you keep your New Years’ resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

My 2005 priorities were to improve my nutrition, improve my fitness, improve my finances, and improve and advance my songwriting. I stuck with those, for the most part. I think I let the nutrition and fitness slip a bit now and then when I was too depressed to pay attention, but I did pretty well on the finances and the songwriting.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?

No one close to me, no.

4. Did anyone close to you die?

Lordy, yes. My mother-in-law in March, and my father in November.

5. What countries did you visit?

I travelled frequently between the southern and the midwestern United States. Seems to me you should need a passport or something to cross the Illinois-Kentucky line.

6. What would you like to have in 2006 that you lacked in 2005?

A pay raise.

7. What date from 2005 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?

November 5th, 2005. Something tells me the loss of my father will remain a pretty significant event for me for a long time.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

Getting the single-song contract, I guess.

9. What was your biggest failure?

Being unable to keep working while spending time in the Chicago area. It has cost me professionally, I fear.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?

If depression counts, yes.

11. What was the best thing you bought?

It’s a tossup between my Treo 650 and my 17″ Powerbook. They’re both rockin’.

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?

Karsten’s. He was a total trooper.

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?

Some of my relatives.

14. Where did most of your money go?

Into the new old house! Lots and lots and lots of money went into fixing up the house.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?

The house! The single-song contract!

16. What song will always remind you of 2005?

Live Like You Were Dying” written by Tim Nichols and Craig Wiseman, and recorded by Tim McGraw. It really is a great country-pop song, but its significance this year has partly to do with how ubiquitous it was (#1 on the charts, for, like, EVER and winner of who-knows-how-many “song of the year” awards), but also, of course, in my life, how timely it was. I just wish my dad had had an opportunity to do the kinds of things the song suggests — living an uninhibited life knowing that your death is imminent — because he was too weak to do that in any kind of physical way. But he “loved deeper” and he “spoke sweeter” (sometimes), for example, so at least some of it was true for him.

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:

Heh. My answers to these questions prove that the world is so not a binary place.

i. happier or sadder? More of each.

ii. thinner or fatter? Thinner but, in some ways, less fit.

iii. richer or poorer? Lower income, greater net worth.

18. What do you wish you’d done more of?

I don’t know. Maybe cooking.

19. What do you wish you’d done less of?


20. How will you be spending Christmas?

My mom is coming here the week prior to Christmas and leaving Christmas morning, so I’ll be seeing her off and then Karsten and I will probably spend the day lounging around the house with the kitties.

21. How will you be spending New Year’s Eve?

Apparently the neighborhood has a big party, so we’re going to check that out.

22. Did you fall in love in 2005?

It may be corny but I found myself falling in love with Karsten again and again.

23. How many one-night stands?


24. What was your favorite TV program?

Arrested Development. (”Come on!”)

25. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?

I’m too tired to hate. I have some pretty annoyed dislike for some people, but it’s a pretty passive dislike. Hate seems so much more active and energetic than I have the capacity for.

26. What was the best book you read?

To be honest, I did very little reading, and what I did read tended to be pretty fluffy, like “The Lucky Guide to Shopping” or “What Not To Wear.” They were both pretty good, though. ;-)

27. What was your greatest musical discovery?

Was “Garden State” this year? I can’t remember. If so, like many people, I discovered The Shins because of that movie, and I love them. Also, I think Anna Nalick debuted with “Breathe (2 AM)” in the beginning of the year, and that has become one of my favorite songs ever (although most of the rest of Wreck Of The Day doesn’t impress me much). I think Keane got most of their visibility this year, too, and I just love them.

28. What did you want and get?

A single-song contract. :-)

29.What did you want and not get?

A promotion at work. Not just for the position of manager of our group, but for the next level of seniority within my own position (from Senior Business Analyst to Consulting Business Analyst). I think the perception is that I’m just not ready since I wasn’t around much of this year to prove my value, or whatever. It annoys me because I already deserved it for the work I’d done before this year so it’s like I’m being passed over for the second time.

30. What was your favorite film of this year?

Tossup between “Garden State” and “Sideways.”

31. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?

Haven’t gotten there yet, but I’ll be 32 and I’m having a pizza party with, like, two attendees. (Everyone else is going to be out of town.)

32. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?

Oh, how could I narrow it down? I don’t know. It’s really kind of depressing to try to pinpoint.

33. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2005?

I was shooting for urban professional sophistication with a twist of unexpected hip, but I probably missed entirely. ;-)

34. What kept you sane?

Now THIS I can get specific about. Karsten, for a start. Every day in some way, Karsten kept me sane. Then there were the long walks; the gardening; the cats; putting the kitchen together; Absolut Raspberri vodka & tonics; pedicures; girly-scented body washes; dying my hair burgundy.

35. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?

I don’t think there was one, really.

36. What political issue stirred you the most?

I guess it was the lack of response immediately following hurricane Katrina.

37. Who did you miss?

Too easy. I missed my dad as he was before the strokes made him less communicative.

38. Who was the best new person you met?

I think that honor goes to nothinganything. Congratulations! I don’t think you win any prizes, but, really, isn’t my fawning admiration enough?

39. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2005:

We don’t live in years; we live in moments.

40. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year:

I think, more than anything, it’s this from “This Woman’s Work” by Kate Bush:

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 we should’ve said,
That were never said.
All the things we should’ve done,
That we never did.
All the things that you needed from me.
All the things that you wanted for me.
All the things that I should’ve given,
But I didn’t.