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I don't use this much as a journal anymore, but I remembered this icon and it made me think of when I started my journal here over 10 years ago when I was so young and full of drama and living with Meshel and Ophelia was still practically a pup and used to jump up on us and chew everything. Yesterday we had to say goodbye to Ophelia and I feel like another link to that chapter of my life has been cut, though we have all changed so much since then that any link is more like a tangled thread. I'm not sure what I'm trying to say. I never expected to have a dog and I probably never will again, but I will miss her both as the young dog who still thought she should be able to fit on my lap and the old one who was content to just lie somewhere near her people.

When David called me Friday night and said that things were bad I was terrified that he was going to say that Meshel was in the hospital. This has been a reminder that really any day I could get a call that someone I love and who is deeply woven in to the tapestry of my life is ill or injured or has died suddenly. My cat, Crash, will be 14 in a few months, and I marvel quite frequently at how young he still seems with the underlying thought that at some point that will no longer be true. I also more frequently lately have the odd thought about how if I had seriously started trying to have children when I got married that I could have had a child almost his age but now I never will.

I still don't really know what I'm trying to say. I suppose all of this is a normal thought process for death to kick off. I'd like to write more about what's going on in my life, but nothing seems quite real anymore and there is rarely anything of note, just so many little things that go by so fast that it's hard to get a handle on them.
  • Current Mood
    pensive pensive

My co-workers are not the enemy.

Today I rode the bus downtown on my way to support state workers. In fact, that’s what I’ve been doing almost every Monday morning for the past 3 years working as a contractor doing tech support for a Wisconsin state agency. This morning, however, I wasn’t getting paid for it and I was carrying a protest sign. I still haven’t been able to figure out a pithy way of stating my position on just a sign, though, so here's how I see this in the most basic terms.

As a contractor, I don’t get any state contributions to a pension or my health insurance and I’m not part of a union, but I just can’t follow the reasoning some have suggested that because I don’t have these things I should want them taken away from the people I work with and for (or anyone for that matter). I know it’s simply not true that state employees “haven’t had to sacrifice” because they had the same furlough day today that I did, which by the way is also proof that the unions are aware of the realities of the economy and willing to negotiate if Walker would let them. I know that state employees are, in fact, taxpayers just like other workers (which seems like it should be obvious to everyone). I know that my team-mates and the people for whom I provide tech support work just as hard as the private sector employees I’ve worked alongside in my previous jobs. I know that this is not about the money, but about workers’ rights. At the moment it’s the collective bargaining rights of these particular unions that are under attack, but if those fall I’m sure Governor Walker has plenty of ways to show how little he values my rights, too.

It’s not right, it’s not their “fair share” and it’s not something I can just watch happen without raising my voice.

Only coincidentally about love.

Day Six: Five people who mean a lot (in no order whatsoever)

This is not counting my family of origin. These are my chosen family; the people whom I love for their marvelous selves.

1. Meshel- we've been friends for over 10 years now and have stuck by each other through some terrible times and some good ones as well. I know she will always be there for me if there is anything she can do. She taught me how to be a friend and a decent, caring person. She's the reason I get teary over the lyric "Who can say if I've been changed for the better? But because I knew you, I have been changed for good."

2. Dan- it's been almost 8 years and so many changes and he has never stopped amazing me. I don't know if I ever would have overcome my addiction to drama without him. He knows me in ways I will never quite understand and is the only person I can stand to be around when I want to be alone.

3. David- in times like these when communication is chokingly hard, it's so good to have someone in my life I click with on a profound level so effortlessly. Getting to a point where we can actually be friends has been difficult, but ultimately rewarding, or at least it finally seems that way. I can always talk to him and discover that I am still in here hiding somewhere. Plus it's somewhat amazing to have the kind of friend who would drive me to Milwaukee in a blizzard.

4. elly- I don't talk to her nearly enough lately, but she still gets things about me that others don't and makes me smile and giggle gleefully like no one else. And I've never quite gotten over my crush on her.

5. Daniel- Compared to the others on this list, I've barely gotten to know him. Our first ex-iversary is approaching, though, and it pleases me to note that we have indeed managed to remain a part of each other's lives. This is the only relationship in my life with no guilt attached to it, which is a very powerful thing. It's easy for me to be kind to him and in return I get support and encouragement... oh, and sex on a regular basis.

6. Angel- There have been things getting between us lately, but she is still important to me. We seem to be continually figuring out our boundaries, but I wouldn't sacrifice the intensity of connection that requires that.

Ok, so I cheated and added an extra spot. I am fortunate to have a lot of love in my life.

Wine instead of the usual whining.

The past two weekends have included revelatory wine experiences, and while I generally try to keep from rambling on in my journal about wine because I lack the art of colourful phrasing to make it of interest to anyone but myself, these must be noted.

Last Friday, Meshel and I went to a free tasting of various Malbecs (and one Torrontes) from Trapiche Wines. The exciting thing about this was that we got to sequentially taste basically the same wine from 2008 aged 3 different ways. There was first the un-oaked Malbec, then came one that was aged in oak for 12 months (Oak Cask), and finally one aged in oak for 15 months (Broquel). The 12-month actually tasted more identifiably oak-y to me than the 15 month, which I suppose means I still have some more exploring to do regarding spotting oak influence. Meshel preferred the Oak Cask, while I wound up purchasing a bottle of the Broquel because it smelled like Thanksgiving. I think perhaps the shorter ageing brought out the vanilla and creamy aspects more while the slightly longer brought out more spice.

Then we got to taste their 3 single-vineyard bottlings from 2007, which retail for close to $50 each. These 3 wines were all vinified in the same manner but the grapes for each were sourced from different vineyards, thus being a wonderful demonstration of terroir. All three were dramatically different. Really. I believed in this in concept before, but it was wonderful to taste it. Meshel and I both enjoyed the first two quite a bit and found the third unremarkable. Meshel's favourite was the Viña Adolfo Ahumada, while mine was the Domingo F. Sarmiento, which was so aromatically wonderful that I probably could have been convinced to pay almost $50 to sit around and smell it all night.

Saturday night, Meshel and David and I tasted bottles from my cellar, which provided more new lessons for my palate. I brought a 1996 Burgess Cabernet Sauvignon, a 2003 St. Supery Elu and a 2004 Blair Fox Syrah. The Burgess was the first Cab I've tasted over 10 years old, and I found myself quite enjoying the flavours that had developed in the bottle but having difficulty figuring out a vocabulary for them. There was a definite element of dry fallen leaves on the nose that was part of what I found so captivating and some earthiness on the palate, but there was so much more that was subtly making up the scent and flavour behind that which I was at a loss to identify. Unsurprisingly, aged wine and aged cheese paired beautifully. And the experience will encourage me to let a number of bottles in my cellar age gracefully rather than giving in to curiosity now.

I had been a bit nervous about bringing the Elu, since the 2002 incarnation had been the first wine that really made me take an interest in exploring it. I had tasted the 2003 last under less than ideal conditions when pondering whether to pick up 3 of them on a discount site so I could get free shipping, and didn't find it as amazing as the 2002, but still well worth the purchase. I feared that my friends wouldn't share my enthusiasm for the St Supery Meritages, but that proved unfounded. We were all amazed by the way this wine changed with every sip while it was in the glass, starting out rather floral and acidic, then picking up smoke and cocoa and finally a sudden explosion of raspberry after an hour or two. It also gained body in the glass, and we just wanted to keep inhaling and sipping it forever. I was also inspired to pick up a couple of bottles of the 2002 so I can experience that again as I only had a single life-changing 375ml of it originally.

Against these other two, the Syrah was perfectly acceptable but rather unremarkable, and I really only mention it because when I re-opened the bottle tonight after 3 days in my refrigerator, it was far more enjoyable.

The previous weekend I had spent in Michigan on a wine-tasting mission (and was quite fortunate to have Daniel, who doesn't drink, as my companion and driver), but it seems that should be another post another time.

If anyone has read this far and isn't yet planning on coming to my International Genache Day wine tasting on September 24th, perhaps you should.

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I seem to only read books about wine and Italy lately. Oh, and Sherlock Holmes. I will probably be in need of a nice hard dose of Sci Fi sometime soon, but for now this passage from Under the Tuscan Sun really resonated with me. I was starting to feel this a bit on the walk home from work today, which is good because I am deeply in need of answers.

Lying awake, I feel the familiar sense of The Answer arriving. Like answers on the bottom of the black fortune-telling eight ball that I loved when I was ten, often I can feel an idea or the solution to a dilemma floating up through murky liquid, then it is as if I see the suddenly clear white writing. I like the charged zone of waiting, a mental and physical sensation of the bends as something mysterious zigzags to the surface of consciousness.

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Today, I took the slightly less convenient bus home and instead of getting off at my usual stop and confining myself to sidewalks, I got off a stop early and strode across the damp little patch of urban prairie where a grocery store used to be. I reached the railroad tracks and followed them home. Something about the way the clouds were sailing so purposefully across the sky made me crave adventure, and fulfilling that in just a tiny way made me feel better than I have in some time.

When I got home, I threw together a delicious dinner for Angel and me composed of things from our share and things I had around the house and felt delightfully competent. Another tiny act with a major impact on my sense of well-being. These seem like good things to remember.

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I think I've mislaid my public persona somewhere along the way. More and more I'm just myself, or sometimes not myself. Or as Over the Rhine put it, "more and more I'm secretly just me." It's hard to know how to present oneself without that framework, though, and I think I've been mostly failing at interacting with people except in one-on-one exchanges. It's an interesting dilemma, since authenticity is a laudable goal yet social interaction is valuable and to my thinking necessarily somewhat at odds with it.

I'm in a really good place mentally today; I think I really needed this time off work. I still love a lot of things about my job and the people on my team, but it's been overwhelming lately; the amount of stuff necessarily left undone due to workload builds up until I have trouble approaching it. And then that carries over to home and my dishes take over my kitchen. Today, however, I'm winning the war against both the dishes and the mental blocks.

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Why is it that when I just go to sleep with wet hair it sticks up annoyingly in the morning, but when I go to bed and have sex with wet hair and then fall into a blissful post-orgasmic nap it looks great when I get up? Not that I'm complaining today.