Tuesday, March 31, 2009

My knees still hurt. They were doing okay but I made them do a lot of walking and climbing and driving while I was on break. I took them to the chiropractor and that untorqued my pelvis but my right knee still is torqued.

I totally got my license!!! Dad thinks I am not a safe driver, but the insurance people think I am (my insurance probably costs what his did in 1978) and I am pretty sure they are experts on risk assessment. Especially compared to the man who once put me in the trunk of our car in order to get me to the BART station.*

I am a very safe driver by myself, because I am very, very focused and if something is too fast or too complex I drive away from it or approach from another direction. Dad thinks I am bad at freeways, but I am really not. I just am not going to merge a lot of lanes in crowded traffic. And it took me an hour and a half to get from Oakland to Santa Cruz using this method, so I am pretty sure it works. I drove a different way than we usually go, out to Hayward and then 3/4 of a mile on this terrible little walled off part of a freeway that had walls on both sides of the lane and there was a lot of sun in my eyes, and then to SJ and then to SC.

Also I saw two patrol cars with radar guns, and they did not stop me, so I guess I was going the speed limit.

That sounds kind of bad, but on highway 17 in the dark I was not taking my eyes off the road for anything except checking the mirrors.

*That was quite fun, though.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Unicycling Last Day for a Bit

Well. I have been hurting my right knee a little bit on dismounts. Today I landed on it a little hard, and it straightened and sort of hurt. So I tried to dismount onto my left foot. I don't even know why it went so badly. Possibly I dismounted when my right foot was close to the ground and my left foot and pedal were really high. I don't hurt myself very badly very often, but this was awful. I did that shock thing where it kind of doesn't hurt but it really, really does. I was practicing in the parking lot and when my leg crumpled away I just lay there for a minute. Then a driver pulled up, and stopped to check on me. I thought she was stopping because my unicycle was several feet away and together we were blocking the road, so I tried to crawl away from it to give her room. Apparently that looked really sad, because she started asking me how she could help really persistently and I had to insist that my house was literally visible from where I was laying. I did not add that I would be up to crawling home momentarily. I just said I'd be alright.

So eventually I climbed to my feet and gathered up my unicycle. I thought, hey, this pain isn't so bad. Probably the fear of dismounting will help me ride farther. I hopped back on, rode a little way, landed on my right foot, but the impact on my left knee, even though it landed second, was horrible. But not too horrible, I didn't have to lay in the street that time. Nonetheless, in the interest of keeping my knees functional, I came inside and curled up in a ball of pain, to study. Going upstairs to get water was awful, but I stretched and bent my legs and got them to where they only hurt very much if I stand with my knees unbent.

I do not really understand what went wrong so I do not know what to do, except stop riding until the twinges are gone.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Very Eventful Weekend

I got a phonecall at 11:34am on Saturday. Dad was letting me know he was in Santa Cruz and did I want a ride to Oakland because there was a Mariposa Party. and I was like, "yeah! whatever, Finals Week will still be impending when I get home!" And the party was so nice, because all sorts of people we'd lived with and next door to came to say hi and to do rituals, such as Gifts and Time Capsule.

I always feel under a lot of pressure at Time Capsule time. Because, what if I die before it's opened and when my note is found someone mails it to Mum and Dad and they open it and it's like "Wooohooo! March 13th 2009!!!"? Or what if I say something that becomes unpc or science proves it wrong? Then I will look stupid to my future self. So I did what I often do when I panic, I drew a dinosaur*, then I calmed down and wrote down some current popular sentiments, then I had to start over because I had been writing on the biodegradable paper for the tree planting, not the lasting ten years paper. Jori got it straightened out. (I think people adaptively embrace competence in regions that are climatically deadly, and Jori is from the northeast)

Then out of nowhere, Joe and Mary and their friends who we spent thanksgiving with turned up in the yard. And it turns out they can't unicycle. (I KNOW WEIRD RIGHT?) Joe approved of learning to unicycle while juggling, but said not to bother learning to juggle more than 3 things - "Because, as it turns out, it is very easy for a spectator to name a number of things you can't juggle." That had not occurred to me, but I have had people ask me if I can do tricks. It's like, um, "if you look closely, I have got one more ball in the air than I have got hands." And Medea was there with Jordan, her DARLING little boy, who is very serious and likes to explore. And I scared Nathaniel, the neighbor boy who loves my whole family but is terribly wary of me. IF I WAS GOING TO EAT YOU I WOULD ALREADY HAVE DONE IT, LITTLE BOY. YES, GO, HIDE BEHIND YOUR FATHER. Not, um, really.

But there were dozens of delicious things to eat, lots of pasta and pizza and goat cheese with pistacios and cranberries, and deep fried turkey (Hey, I had that the last time I saw Mary and Joe as well, weird.), and this really dense bread that comes in a loaf about the size of a stick of butter, with brie. Oh my gosh, I wish I had the budget and the inclination to make delicious things at home. I can only make really good popcorn, pizza, and fries. So when I went shopping I got goat cheese! And other things! Trader Joe's cheap gourmet things!

Then there was a campfire! I love the campfire but everyone was drunk except me (at mum and dad's I only drink what they pour me, because I feel like it's respectful, except they always stare at me all mournful like "Well, she already stunted her growth, no sense locking the barn..." so I end up getting really thirsty and not drinking anything, and not getting water either, Not Before You Finish This Ounce of Wine, Young Lady.) so I got bored and came inside, to play with Nick.

Nick likes to hide inside during gatherings so no one will talk to him, but for a bit we had fun using Nini's fun fur and spirit gum to adorn ourselves. I had a Terribly Manly Beard, and Nick had arm fur, muttonchops, and chest hair. It made me think if I am ever a man with arm hair I shall dye it pink.

And then the next day we went to California-Dublin to see Mum and Dad's friends Steve and Ellen and their daughter, and we all went to the Dublin Town Fair. I drove from Oakland to Dublin and Dad instictively berates me whenever I am driving, and I can't just ignore him because I don't really know the route to Dublin. So I was merging, like I have done ten thousand times with Dad in the car, and he pipes up, "Yeah, *that's* safe." And mum adds "Caitlan, be careful!" and then it turned out Dad was not trying to be sarcastic at all, he just thought I should know I was merging safely. In his accidentally sarcastic voice. We re enacted this for Steve and Ellen, and Ellen joked that we ought to phone her when I'd be behind the wheel so she could stay indoors. And then it was time to go to the fair, and I drove our car and Ellen drove hers. I asked Dad to ride in the other car, which was good. Ellen doesn't do turn signals so she is a little hard to follow and she ended up following me and I missed our turn. Nick thought it would be a good use of his excess angst to imitate Dad berating me the whole drive, but Mum made him stop.

Anyway, the fair was fun! I for some reason thought I wanted a corndog. We had charming irish tea in the library when it started raining, and we rode the ferris wheel. (The ~1mph rotation of the ferris wheel made Dad nervous, as did the swaying from looking down at the ground, and the wind. That made me realize why me driving rather well at 60 mph is basically torture** and so I let him drive the whole rest of the day) The view was really pretty and we could see how the fairground games were rigged, so that was neat.

*Ask me about the time I was getting a D (post-curve) in stats and the final was so hard that I blanked and covered it with dinosaurs and then got a C in the class. Presumably because 1. dinosaurs are awesome, and 2. stats profs manipulate the grading curve more effectively than anyone in any other field.

**I think it's to do with his inner ear.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Mosasaur Painting

So this is my tied for favorite painting I've ever done. It is a mosasaur. This painting is like 3 feet tall. I should have shaded the face last but I didn't and so it kept staring at me. 2 color painting, as it turns out, is like five thousand times easier than infinity color painting. It seems obvious but I never thought about it. I think I want to make a few other skeletal extinct aquatic megafauna creatures on canvases the same size. I am hoping that horrible black blotch (where I put the tail at first) will go away when it dries.

Not For Dad (do not look at it it is a surprise)

Go away Daddy, it is the SOMETHING I made for you and you will like to see it in person. We had a project in art, to make a gift and mail it, and I picked Dad. But I don't think I will mail it because I am going home after next week and it is sort of fragile.

Making things from paper is nice because it is a good balance of testing and planning, and creativity. This was meant to look steampunk, and I think the colors convey that really well but maybe not the shape. The temptation with paper is to make everything really streamlined and sort of modular looking. When I presented this in class someone said it looks like the jetsons. I think up close the "rivets" (I used my compass point to emboss the back of some of the paper) and the red wallpapery rocketskin make it look a little steampunk. I even think the overall body shape does. But yeah, the little antennae nosecone is not very victorian, and the fins should be a totally, totally different shape- maybe more spindly? Another thing is that I ignored the functional enginey parts (one guess why) which are usually the focus in steampunk. I am really happy with how it turned out though, and I am glad I have drafted a pattern so I can make more.

this is the rocket posed on a painting I am working on. I bought a hake brush to do the blending and cover big areas quickly, and it works really well. Eventually I am going to paint on dinosaur bones but first I have to get better at bones. The painting is going to be called Nightmare Room, because it is based on my invention, the Nightmare Room.*

And here landed on the beanbag chair. The neat thing about self contained things like a model submarine or model cottage is that they transcend being models and look like a little object in the world, they force their surroundings to become part of the image or the work.

Here is a close up, again on the painting. Wow, almost any fin shape would have been better than that.

*The Nightmare Room came into my mind when someone pointed out that dinosaurs aren't scary because they are just skeletons- to me that beautifully conflates two really, really scary things. So basically in the nightmare room you are trapped in a room or a big cave or a coliseum, and it is very very dark. And you haven't got anything with you, not a flashlight or a candy bar. And you see a little far off light, and you are like, yay! A light! I will go to it- and it undulates toward you and when it is like a half mile away you see that it is a mosasaur and so you try to run away. When it eats you your skeleton stays in the coliseum and your flesh goes to the Cretaceous (it is maybe a different era, I don't feel like checking) in the stomach of the alive mosasaur.

Monday, March 9, 2009

LOL @ writing a post about my excellent happiness brain whilst kept up all night by insomnia.

So one of my guy friends pretty consistently brings up how I look if I am complaining about guys or about fat phobic societal norms or how difficult it is to make a flattering pillow case dress. Basically, he works it into most conversations. And I finally had to be like "Okay, great, duly noted, please stop talking about my appearance." Actually a lot of the guys I know will say appearance compliments, which is fine but not very interesting to me, for a few reasons. One is that I am kind of over caring how I look. I used to, then a lot of legitimately interesting things started happening in my life (japanese! unicycle! hostel! juggling! astronomy! econ! art!) and now I am not interested in how I look or how people think I look. Another reason is because, dude, I am not humble. I don't care much, but the last time I did I settled on the conclusion that I look good. I might have mentioned that I am cuter than Miss World, who is the actual most beautiful person in the world, but not in Happy Fun Awesome Land where I spend all of my thought time.
Even while I can tell it is a delusion, I am not changing my mind. And he was like "You're the only girl I know who doesn't care about looking good." And I was like, "Yeah. It's funny because no matter how hard they try they'll never be as cute as koalas" but what I was thinking is really? More likely girls just don't want to be rude and shoot you down while you're being nice.

So, right, what I am saying is complement me on things I care about, like my art, or things I am insecure about, like my singing voice* or my recycling (I always forget the rules for plastic bags).

The more I think about it the more I think that I might never know very many people that I really like. Everyone seems not to care very passionately about dinosaurs or the importance of sitting and thinking about the circus. I feel like the girl who invented uniquidditch- why aren't there more people like me? It is a pretty neat way to be, fun and fairly harmonious with the world, and happy.

That's part of it right there. People have this horrible aversion to happiness. NO NOT LIGHTHEARTED GAIETY!!! ANYTHING BUT THAT!!! I AM 20 YEARS OLD WITH ALMOST NO PROBLEMS, CAN'T YOU SEE I HAVE TO MAKE WORRYING AND STUDYING AND BEING CROSS ABOUT RELATIONSHIPS A PRIORITY? Um. No. No, I can't. I- everything is too too wonderful. I have this laundry detergent to smell. And my toes to wiggle. And these screencaps to laboriously transcribe to my notebook. And a paper to write. And now I have to stage a tiny me parade in my brain because it is my birthday minute. And now I am sneezing. Too, too, wonderful.

Talking to people, it's like I have the seratonin dialed all the way up. But I am just normal, and everyone wants to go around in a fog. And they probably don't even love fog, not really. Not sit-on-a-lichen-covered-stone-thinking-about-castles-in-pidgin-welsh love.

*no, I am not saying to lie, just be creative. Say it's way better than the syntho voice in that one Venga Boys song. Say I sing like Ron Brows dances. Say it reminds you of the color puce: I'm so talented I gave you synesthesia! (ok, it is kind of a lie but I would not consider it such.)

Friday, March 6, 2009

Unicycling Day 7

Well, I brought the uni to juggling. It's hard because the floor is so perfect for falling and traction, but the badminton club meets at the same time and takes over 3/4 of the gym. And since I can veer but not really turn I can't stay in our 1/4, I had to just dismount- I think I was worrying some of the players since I would careen toward them, then fall as close as possible to the edge of their playing area. When they would do breaks between matches I could pedal the width of the gym, but the nets made it so I didn't get to try the long way.

Of course, the rest of juggling club was also in our fourth of the gym... so it was both crowded, and very distracting because the juggling that involves throwing balls or spools really high would catch my attention and down I would go. I need to get better so I can do turns or mounting or something.

Today I took the unicycle on the bus. I wasn't sure it would work in the rack but of course it did. I was worried because the pedals seem like they would get in the way of the safety bar, but I just tilted the uni and it went on easily. People really, really like unicycles- the driver went out to check it (possibly for safety, but I think also because he was interested) and told me he had never had one on his bus before. I told him that was a shame. I feel like a poser going around with it, because people probably think I can unicycle properly. So everyone in the bus was like looking at me when I got off and collected it. I let them down and just wheeled it along.

One of my juggling friends said he feels like people think he's a dork when he rides his uni around town. I don't feel like that at all. People like to shout things, but not at all in a mean way. "nice bike!" "hey, one wheel!" " smallest bike ever!" "that's a unicycle!" people are not good at shouting things that are clever, but it is still celebratory. I have only taken it out to campus twice, so I am not good at saying clever things back yet. So far I have just reassured people: "Yeah, you'd pick it right up, it looks harder than it is." Again, I am a poser.

I am not sure if I improved much today because I had been measuring improvement in distance, but I felt like by the end of the 2 hours (I would switch between uni and juggling based on how tired I was and how much space was available) I was teetering less.

Okay. Actually, I felt like I was gliding. I definitely was traveling in a wavy line and had my arms held straight out, so I was probably not gliding elegantly. But it felt a lot like riding a bike; all smooth. And since I transitioned between wobbling and gliding all at once, I noticed the contrast a lot.

I have mysteriously not made progress free mounting the unicycle despite trying once at the beginning and end of each session.

Now I want to go out and practice, but it is 2 am so I guess I won't. I meant to bring my camera to put up a progress picture but I forgot. Maybe when I am home this Friday and Saturday someone will take one. I am reeeeeally hoping I can try juggling on the uni by next week because it is the last meeting for the quarter, so it is my last chance to get help, unless I go to the mysterious weekend unicycling thing. I am, as my optometrist helpfully pointed out, a dilettante. (ASK ME HOW MANY COLLEGES I HAVE ATTENDED.) For uni that means that when I can ride it around, do turns, mount it, maybe go backwards and uphill, and juggle, I will be done improving.

I think it confuses my juggling coach that I feel the same way about juggling (I was quite committed to learning 3 ball cascades, but with that under my belt... eh... marginal cost vs. benefit, or somesuch.), because he is completely obsessed. And, obsessed is an overused word, but I mean it.

I am trying to be less of a dilettante though. I am firmly committed to my major this time. And if I add art history, well...

it's just who I am.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Unicycling Day 6

Yay! Today was a great day! I think I can grow muscles really fast, because I was out for 2 1/2 hours and I'm not too tired. I started learning to unicycle on Feb 20th, which was 9 days ago. But this is only the 6th time I took my unicycle out. I would say the estimate 1 week of learning unicycle for every day you spent learning to bike is quite accurate, as long as Dad is not misremembering how long I took to learn a bike. (he thinks I learned right when I climbed on one)

Today I was dying to unicycle but it was raining out. So I practiced free mounting under the car roof. Then I got bored of that and practiced riding the width of 2 parking spaces, throwing myself off the unicycle when I got to close to the dreaded wet pavement. Then I got bored of that (oh, my spine hurts) and braced myself for riding on the wet. It was quite slippery but I reminded myself that when it dries I will have even better control. Actually I spent an hour not progressing at all, because of the puddles and the slipperiness and everything. But then I got the idea to put a pebble at the farthest place I had gotten previously and just get a little farther, and it worked really well. I still only made it to/past the pebble 1/3 of the time (2/3 of the time I fell before I got the pedals going right) but it helped me break the 25' barrier.

I was so pleased that I went to the nice place to ride (even though it is ugly when it rains), and spent a little while riding there. (I used a short light post to climb on) It was not very good because I can't stay on the path; I still need to swerve aaaall over. So I went back to the parking lot and stayed riding until I could ride nearly the length of the lot. I don't know how far that is but I think it is around 30 yards. I can't ride the whole way because when I throw myself on the ground I need some space to maneuver* without hitting the cars. Then I got too tired and my cycling started to degrade but I wanted to get to where I could ride the lot in the uphill direction** so I carried on until I hurt myself. I can't remember where; I am covered with bruises and all of my fingernails were already broken.

But some of the things I did today that helped were: put my pedals on so that they screw in and not out when I pedal, focus on something distant, flail my arms, and try to beat my previous distance. I am very excited to go out when it is dry and see if I can do even better.

I have been having a contest between unicycling and juggling to see what is easier, and unicycling has won by taking 1/2 as long to learn.

Unfortunately I think I have outgrown the portion of the gym allocated to the juggling club and it will be a while before I am dexterous enough to go in a little circle.

*calling what I do a maneuver is maybe generous.
**It is hard because you t4ravel very slowly uphill whereas downhill momentum makes it easier to carry on straight without tilting left or right.