missroserose: (Kick Back & Read)
[personal profile] missroserose
What I've just finished reading

Yes, Roya, by C. Spike Trotman and Emilee Denich. I picked this up after reading the review on Oh Joy Sex Toy (link NSFW, but then, so is the book, heh). And, whoa - it definitely lives up to Moen's praise. Frankly, it's as much romance as it is pornography, effectively engaging the emotions as well as the gonads; you really feel for poor Wylie, in thoroughly over his head and yet determined to prove his worth, professionally and sexually.

So, it works emotionally, it works physically (boy howdy, does it). Me being me, however, I of course have to think through the story and its implications, and that's where Yes, Roya's pornographic sensibilities become a liability. Pornography, to paraphrase Neil Gaiman, is defined in part by its lack of consequences - no STDs, no babies, no traumatic experiences, no social repercussions. What's frustrating is that Yes, Roya is clearly trying to be more than that - there's some very intelligent examination of the social context of the 1960s, the limitations of gender and race in society, the repercussions of living an unconventional lifestyle, and the advantages of keeping one's true feelings and identity hidden while nonetheless subtly coding art to introduce unusual dynamics. But ultimately, I wanted more of that - more context of Wylie's life outside of his work and romantic interests, more about Joe and Roya's social life outside of Wylie (presumably they have likeminded or at least accepting friends?), more indicators of the social rules that our three protagonists are upending, and the consequences they must accept. I think this would have given the ending a little more dramatic punch; certainly it would have felt more honest.

Even with my complaints, however, this is a hell of a read - kinky, erotic, beautifully written and drawn, and crazy hot. Well worth checking out and admiring even if femdom threesomes aren't your thing.

A Wind in the Door, by Madeline L'Engle. I read this once when I was much younger, and didn't like it as much as A Wrinkle in Time; I think I had trouble with the increasing level of abstraction, and Teachers like Blajeny and Louise-the-serpent weren't anywhere near as emotionally engaging as the tripartite-motherly Mrs. Whatsit, Mrs. Who, and Mrs Which. Reading them as an adult, though, I think this is the stronger volume; the themes are better developed and Meg's grown up enough to be not quite so self-absorbed. In retrospect, I could have saved myself quite a bit of life frustration if I'd read more closely the bits about Charles Wallace having to adjust to life with a peer group at a very different level than he was, but I suppose that's never really been me, heh.


What I'm currently reading

Blood of Ambrose, by James Enge. This has won my scant reading time this week due to the sheer convenience of being on my Kindle. So far (all of maybe three chapters in) it's been pretty standard high-fantasy stuff; some palace intrigue, hints of a historical tragedy, a dash of trial-by-combat. I feel like the author read the advice of "start your story with an action piece" but fell into the very common trap of focusing on said action without having spent any effort getting to know the people involved, which makes it feel somewhat distant. Still, now that the setpiece is over and the characters are interacting, things are picking up a bit.


What I plan to read next

I suspect She's Not There will be my airplane reading, although I'd really like to finish Come As You Are first...we'll see how it goes!

Timing, perseverance

Jul. 26th, 2017 12:36 pm
missroserose: (Warrior III)
[personal profile] missroserose
Hey guys! It's been a week. (And it's only Wednesday.) My computer went boing Monday morning, and that afternoon a full quarter of my yoga playlist disappeared...right in the middle of teaching class. Timing! I switched over to the last section of another playlist, and it went fine, but wow that threw me off...I depend on my music to set the pace and the arc of the class, so hiccups like that become significant speed bumps. Seriously considering switching to a non-connected device for music (I think I've got some old iPod Nanos hanging around) so I don't have to worry about that happening again.

Tuesday was supposed to be my rest day, but I spent it biking down to Lincoln Park to see if they could un-boing my computer. They did (yay!) and didn't even charge me (double yay!), so I biked home, used it for a bit without incident, then plugged it in...and shortly thereafter it went boing again. Current theories are either the adapter or the power board are bad; either way, double augh. It's going to have to wait until Brian can take a look at it, because I don't have the time to get back down to Lincoln Park...and he's in Las Vegas at the moment, and then we're both headed to Boston almost directly after that. And of course, Monday was the day I had multiple people messaging me wanting to set up massage appointments, which is a giant pain in the butt to do on my phone. Woo, timing!

On the upside, I've got my old computer with an external keyboard, so at least I'm not completely dependent on my phone. Also, I'm kind of proud of myself - usually when Brian's out of town I live on packaged food and take-out, but instead I hunted down ingredients at the Asian store and tried out a recipe for a cold noodle dish with pork and vegetables that I could separate into single-serving containers and stick in the fridge. (The recipe itself is maybe a 3.5 out of five - like most NYTimes recipes, it needs more spices. But it's edible and halfway healthy...although I was entertained to realize halfway through that I was basically making a more-white-person version of a dish the Vietnamese restaurant next door sells. They do it better.) And this morning I went to Sculpt despite being much more tired than originally planned. I'm glad I did, despite my arms being tired; Rob-of-the-enthusiastic-5:30-AM-sunrise-pictures-#blessed was teaching, and his energy always cheers me up. Especially when I'm grumpy.

So, yeah. I think the theme for my classes today and tomorrow will be something related to perseverance, heh. We'll see if it pays off...

Wednesday book meme thing

Jul. 19th, 2017 10:36 am
missroserose: (Default)
[personal profile] missroserose
What I've just finished reading

Future Sex, by Emily Witt. Those of you following along at home may have noticed that this book has generated an awful lot of drama for what feels like, in retrospect, a 200-odd-page blog entry. But such is the danger of high hopes. I'd almost given up on the book halfway through, but persevered through the end, which was bittersweet - Witt returns more to her analytic mode, and even shows some self-awareness about her privileged perspective. For instance:

No wonder people hate Burning Man, I thought, when I pictured it as a cynic might: rich people on vacation breaking rules that everyone else would suffer for if they didn't obey. The hypocrisy of the "creative autonomous zone" weighed on me. Many of these people would go back to their lives and back to work on the great farces of our age. They wouldn't argue for the decriminalization of the drugs they had used; they wouldn't want anyone to know about their time in the orgy dome.

[...] To protest these things in everyday life bore a huge social cost - one that only people like Lunar Fox were willing to grimly undertake - and maybe that's what the old Burners disliked about the new ones: the new ones upheld the idea of autonomous zones. The $400 ticket price was as much about the right to leave what happened at Burning Man behind as it was to enter in the first place.
 
I also really enjoyed her (lamentably short) chapter on birth control and reproduction, and how our entire social framework for childrearing remains stuck in 1950s norms despite technology having thrust us into an entirely different world:  

40 percent of births in the United States are to unwed parents. This happened because most people have separated their sex lives from marriage, but the thinking about the subject has yet to flip. When people cite the research about the advantages of raising a child in a two-parent home, it tends to be an argument for marriage, not for improving the experience of raising a child outside of it. And this has meant that many women, unmarried but also pragmatic about the challenges of single parenthood, feel the 'choice' they have made not to have a child is not much of a choice at all.
 
Indeed, she brings the subject of that disconnect home, in this particularly insightful bit:

I had always preferred success through recognized channels: getting good grades, going to the right college. I experienced satisfaction in obeying rules, and I had greater affirmation from my family when we acted as if I hadn't chosen to be alone, when we spoke as if I was simply waiting (maybe for decades) for the right person to come along. [...] I had now absorbed a powerful lesson about resistance to change: that it manifests less by institutional imposition and more by the subtle suggestions of the people who love you.
 
I feel like there's a really great book in here about social order versus social anarchy; about the way people who dislike or don't fit in to the majority norms instead seek out subcultures with their own norms and rulesets, because most humans function best with boundaries and limits and social reinforcement; about the price those people pay in terms of estrangement from the greater culture, and the varying ways (closeting, sociopolitical advocacy, withdrawal) in which they minimize or deal with that estrangement; and about the ways technology is enabling these subgroups, and whether this means our sexual culture is broadening or merely splintering into individual shards. Unfortunately, and perhaps ironically, these remarkably clear-eyed observations are clouded by the author's own unexamined prejudices and assumptions, especially once she starts getting into her own experiences. Ultimately it feels like a missed opportunity, but I nonetheless hope that it might start a conversation on these important topics.

The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue, by Mackenzi Lee. Buckles were swashed, adventures were had, supernatural solutions determined to come at too high a cost. The ending is satisfying; without going into details, our three heroes ultimately reject their proscribed social roles, running off to do...they're not sure exactly, but certainly to live their own lives as they choose, Monty and Percy as lovers, and Felicity quite possibly as a medic on a pirate ship. ("But girls can't be pirates!" "Haven't you heard of Grace O'Malley?")

That said, I'm personally a little torn on said ending. It's certainly appropriate enough for the story, and it's true to both the late-teenage perspective of the protagonists and the YA intended audience - it's a stage in life when most of us have little to tie us down and a great hunger for new experiences and the possibility of trying new identities. But the way it's handled feels...just a little bit facile, like the characters are playing dress-up rather than committing to a difficult life road. To a degree, this can be excused by their immaturity; they acknowledge that it's going to be a tough time but clearly don't understand exactly how tough it is to forge your own road, outside of the social ruleset you've been raised to follow. But the ending as written feels like it's supposed to be an unfettered triumph, rather than a "we've overcome this set of challenges, hurrah, but new ones are right on the horizon."

Maybe it's precisely that tonal dissonance that's not quite sitting right with me; as a fellow 19-year-old I would have been all "Yes! Screw the patriarchal social hierarchy! Go live on a tropical island with your beloved with no skills or visible means of financial support! Love is all you need!" whereas 34-year-old me, having had some small experience with the difficulties of moving to a new place with entirely different sets of rules (as well as having complicated moral feelings about piracy as a career in the 18th century), is somewhat more mixed on the prospect. But, difficult as it was, I eventually found my niche, and what I feel is a good balance between social approbation and forging my own path; perhaps they will too.


What I'm currently reading

So this is kind of awkward - technically I'm in the middle of a number of books, but I've done so little reading lately that I haven't made any progress in them this week. Clearly I need to fix this!


What I plan to read next

I have two primary candidates at the moment. One is James Enge's Blood of Ambrose, a birthday present from my delightful friend Claire (with the promise of the rest of the trilogy to come if I like it). Apparently it has an Ambrosia in it! However, my friend Olivia gifted me with Jennifer Finney Boylan's memoir She's Not There: A Life In Two Genders, which looks fascinating - and happens to be written by Olivia's aunt. I'm leaning towards that because she'll be officiating at Olivia's wedding later this month, and if I'm going to possibly have the opportunity to meet her I'd like to have read something of hers - I know very little about her other than that she's a writer. But I still have so many other books to finish! Sigh...
missroserose: (Warrior III)
[personal profile] missroserose
aaaaaaaaaaaa

^^The feels I'm having when I've literally just finished my internship and my studio manager emails me saying "hey, we've got a C2 opening up in September Mondays at 7:30 PM, do you want it? It's plenty of time to get you ready to teach C2s, and I'd love to have you in another prime time slot."

I mean, yeah, without a deadline I'll probably never push myself to get there, so I'm not going to say no. Breanne's not going to leave me hanging on training, and she wouldn't have offered it if she didn't think I'd be up for the challenge. And this is a huge compliment - Monday nights are super-prime-time for attendance. But whoa, that's...a little high-stakes, relatively speaking.

Good thing it's just yoga. :)

(aaaaaaaaaaaaa)

(feels)

Biker babehood

Jul. 17th, 2017 08:11 am
missroserose: (Freedom on a Bike)
[personal profile] missroserose
It's been thirteen months, hundreds of miles, a few traffic near-misses, and a slightly embarrassing amount spent on accessories, repairs, and eventually a new bike, but I'm beginning to feel like a seasoned urban cyclist. I bike so much (and Brian works from home so much) that, for the first time since we moved here, I've given up our monthly transit pass subscriptions; it makes more sense now to pay as we go, or nab Brian a weekly pass if he's got an on-site job.

My unstated, very-unofficial goal for the spring/summer/fall has been to only use the car for trips involving at least two people. With the notable exception of my once-or-twice monthly Costco/Trader Joe's stock-up trips (I have yet to figure out how to load a pallet of toilet paper onto a bike), this has been surprisingly doable. Especially in a crowded city, biking is often faster than driving for short distances; it may not be quite as fast for longer ones, but that's balanced out by not having to search/pay for parking at the end. (The one exception currently on my regular schedule is the Sauganash studio, which is a fifteen-minute drive with a free parking lot at the end, versus a 25-30 minute ride. But that's balanced out somewhat by being a far more pleasant commute by bike, as well as getting to eat All The Calories afterward.) There's definitely been an adjustment curve with my physical condition, but I feel like I'm largely over the hump, even if my hip and glute muscles might not agree, heh.

All of which is to say, biking is feeling less like a novelty and more like a lifestyle change. I'm...torn on saying whether I'd consider it part of my identity; there's a lot of aspects of the urban-biker subculture I either don't fit into or am less than enthused with (I have zero desire to do triathlons or multi-city tours; I bike largely for commuting/eating purposes rather than recreation; I try not to look down on people who primarily drive, not all of us are able-bodied enough to pedal everywhere). But I think it is, to a degree; I like who I am better when I'm biking most places.

I'm not sure how this coming winter is going to shape up. Last year I put my bike away in late November when the temperature was regularly dropping below freezing; there was more than one period over the winter, however, when the mercury rose and I regretted not having it handy. I think I might try leaving it out this year and seeing how often I can ride it. I am nowhere near hardcore enough to ride in snow, but if the roads are clear and I have enough layers I don't see why colder temperatures have to be a barrier. I suppose a lot will depend on the weather.

In more fun news, I've been combing through Redbubble looking for stickers to decorate my new bike - hence the reflections on biking culture and where I fit (or don't) in it. Still, even with the hardcore athlete/snooty stickers discounted, there are some good candidates, even if my all-time favorite is untrue for me on every level, haha. I like the colors in this one, and the fanciful vintage air of this one; this one has a nice minimalist feel to it as well as being a good shape for a crossbar. This one probably gets the award for most accurate/most likely to be purchased, possibly with this one as a complement; also, it's nice to see an actively non-snooty message in a bike-oriented sticker.

How about you? Are there any subcultures you probably fit in but are hesitant to actively jump into?
Have you ever tried something new and discovered you hadn't even realized it was part of who you wanted to be? Seen any great bike stickers lately? Let's discuss!

Coyote Cinema: Baby Driver

Jul. 16th, 2017 09:54 pm
cyrano: (Coyote Cinema)
[personal profile] cyrano
I went in knowing the director did Scott Pilgrim and that it was an 'untraditional heist film'. It met my expectations. This is one of those 'good man driven to bad situations' plots that I love, complete with brief glimpses of what could be if only he could escape his bonds. For pretty much the entire second half of the film, Baby is in peril, and the directing keeps that afloat. I got caught up in the characters, and I properly hated the bad guy. Props, btw, to Kevin Spacey for showing up to work in this project. I was really worried they were going to fuck up the ending, but I was very satisfied with what I got.

I found it very hard to keep my car under the speed limit as I drove home. IT DID NOT HELP that THIS is what came up on the iPod when I started it up.

Symbolism in Life

Jul. 16th, 2017 07:35 am
cyrano: (Clay)
[personal profile] cyrano
Take this as you will, in your personal theory of the metaphysical relating to the physical or avatars or ritual or totems or whatever your personal theories involve, but since I got my new tattoo I've been a lot more interested in sex.
missroserose: (Life = Creation)
[personal profile] missroserose
I was reflecting just now that lately I've been both hyper-aware of what day of the week it is, and completely unaware of how the days are passing. The former because it's the basis for my entire schedule, and the latter because my commitments vary so much week to week that it's hard to get any sense of cycle or rhythm. I'm not overextended, precisely; I've been doing better about keeping my pace sustainable, and taking days off when I need them. But I feel like lately all I've written about here is either the books I'm reading or how tired I am; this seems to be an indicator of the thoughts that occupy my downtime.

Which is not to say I haven't been doing fun things - this summer has been full of them! I went to a storytelling event with my friend Andrea just before leaving for Washington; Brian and I went to the Welcome to Night Vale live show; we took Jamila to see Aladdin and Jamila and her mother to see Hamilton on Broadway, we went to see a local production of Three Days of Rain solely on the strength of the company's previous performances (a gamble that paid off; it was an excellent show), we've been rock climbing with our friend Erin a couple of times, as well as the various just-hanging-out events like movie nights and festivals that summer here is full of. To paraphrase Alice Isn't Dead, Chicago in the summer is happy in a way few other cities seem to be. So it's not that I've been doing nothing other than work. It's just...I don't have a lot of downtime, and a lot of days I fall into bed exhausted. Maybe that's why we all curl up into our hermit-shells come fall and winter - we're so tired from running around so manically for months.

Still. Perhaps I'll block tomorrow off for a rest - no plans to go out, just take a yoga class and some much-needed downtime. (Now that I've said this, I'm almost guaranteed to get a text from someone hoping for a last-minute massage booking, haha.) Saturday is my birthday; Brian and I are getting massages and then going to check out some open houses for a couple of condos in the neighborhood that look promising. Onward and forward.

...I wonder if that isn't actually the fundamental source of my difficulty achieving balance - that need, a la Miles Vorkosigan, to keep the forward momentum going, lest I fall into another rut, leading to a depressive episode. That might explain a little about that sense of almost-fear that feels like it's driving me sometimes.
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