Monday, July 26, 2010

This has 10 things and I didn't even plan it that way

I don’t have any more photos of the apartment Bert and I are moving into in September, but here’s a little bit more about it. It’s a two bedroom place on the first floor. It has a very open plan so the living room flows into the dining room into kitchen (all of which are big rooms) and then the two bedrooms are off the dining room and the kitchen. One of the bedrooms will be a LEGO studio/computer room, though we haven’t decided which one yet. There is central air and heat and a dishwasher in the unit and free laundry in the basement. It’s only a couple blocks away from the Paulina Brown Line stop, there’s a Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s just around the corner and a bunch of restaurants in walking distance. I can’t wait until we move in!

Of course, the other side of moving is the packing. I’ve already begun to pack up my LEGO collection. The Star Destroyer has been dismantled and several shelves have come down off my wall. I packed up a good deal of my books. Still a lot of stuff left to do, but I feel good about the process since I’m starting so early.

This Saturday was another book club where we read a book I chose. This time it was “The Man who Mistook his Wife for a Hat.” (Yet another great book recommended to me from Stephanie.) The book is a collection of short non-fiction stories about people who have non-typical brain function. This ranges the gamut from amnesia to agnosia, Tourette's to neurosyphilis, temporal lobe seizures to autism. While the book, like the previous sentence, is littered with a lot of precise medical terminology and often goes into details that would only be of use to a trained specialist, there is a powerful emotional core to the book that is accessible to anyone willing to look for it.
The story that struck me the most was “The Disembodied Woman.” She goes in to the hospital for routine surgery and ends up losing her ability to sense where her limbs are. Most of us never even think about this automatic feedback we get from our muscles that lets us know how our bodies are oriented. She describes herself as “pithed,” as though something vital has been scooped out of her. She feels like a stranger in her own body. This is absolutely terrifying – a modern nightmare.
In the chapter on Tourette’s he recounts a scene where a woman walking down a busy NYC street compulsively imitates everyone she passes in rapid, exaggerated gestures and expressions. One gets the impression of her as a living funhouse mirror. As people grimace at gape at her bizarre pantomime, she amplifies and reprojects these right back leading to a grotesque feedback loop. The woman ducks into an alley where she spasms out the remaining imitations and catches her breath to recollect herself. One wonders what her inner life is like, how difficult is it to maintain a sense of self when the barrier between self and other is so flimsy? While “The Disembodied Woman” is an exile in her own body, this woman has the opposite problem, her body is home to anyone and everyone.
Not all the stories are so macabre, some are actually quite touching and uplifting, but all of them convey the incredible fragility of the self.

The meeting itself was good too. There was a much better turnout than for my last book (twice as many) and there was at least one other person who loved the book as much as I did. It generated some of the most interesting conversation of any meeting I’ve been to so far, so I’m pleased. I made the Ithaca Artichoke Medley and it was a big hit (thanks for that recipe Jenny&Leo!) and I had enough left over to take to Tiffany and Seth’s apartment warming the next day. Then there was lots of wine and laughter and brownies and ice cream and we went to bed feeling very content.

As I just mentioned, Tiffany & Seth had an apartment warming brunch the next day. This is the first place that they aren’t sharing with roommates and it’s clear how excited they are to have their own place. It was a gorgeous day with a nice breeze, so it was perfect weather to eat quiche and waffles, drink juice, sit in their big living room, crowd into their less spacious kitchen, stand on their balcony and covet their neighbor’s pool and listen to their collection of vinyl jazz records. I look forward to many future visits to their new place which is a stone’s throw from our new place.

Sunday night, mom and dad were back in town. Bert treated us to dinner at Quartinos where we looked at pictures from their trip as they regaled us with tales. They got us some awesome Yellowstone T-Shirts and a magnet from Glacier National Park. Quartino’s was good, we each got a small plate or two and since the portions were relatively small we also each got a dessert and then were taken aback when ENORMOUS DESSERTS were laid in front of each of us. We did our best to soldier through though. It was another nice evening. Here’s a picture of Bert and I my mom took the previous time we had dinner with them.


Last night Bert took me out for Korean BBQ for the first time. This picture only shows the meat cooking, but there were also a dozen small dishes full of various foods that ranged from weird to delicious. I tried everything but didn’t ask what anything was. Overall it was very yummy.


Stephanie and I have finished the last regular world in Mario Galaxy and moved on to the special world. Craziness ensues. I should note that I really do mean Stephanie and I, because her contributions as player 2 are invaluable, and often more important than mine. It really is a cooperative game when played this way.

I have a new internet addiction - StumbleUpon. Basically you tell it the kind of things you like and then you press stumble and it takes you to a random webpage that other people have said is awesome and stumble worthy. It’s just a way of finding new cool stuff on the internet. I like it so much, I installed the toolbar. Here are some of the random awesome things I’ve discovered in the past week or so because of StumbleUpon.
NPR story about a high school school without teachers or classes
Adorable baby animals
Inkblot Art
25 Great Calvin and Hobbes Strips
Wikipedia Article that perfectly describes something Tiffany and I were talking about the week before
A demonstration of how music is hard-wired in our brains

You might have already seen this animation when I posted it here a couple months back, but last week I was finally able to post Metamorphosis on youTube. It got blogged by the Brothers Brick so it got a (relatively) massive amount of views in the first week. Also, it was blogged about in at least three other languages (Italian - French - Portugese). Crazy, right? If you want to know more about the behind the scenes stuff for the video I posted a write up on my animation blog.

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