karenarthur: (Default)
Ten things about me:
  1.  I am a thirtysomething living near St Louis with my partner, my cats, and my books. I like my city quite a bit, mostly because of this place. I do wish I had more local friends, though.
  2. I write. Mostly fantasy with the occasional forray into science fiction and horror. I don't talk about it a lot; it feels like jinxing. 
  3. I am a leftwing bolshie populist and deeply interested in gender, race and class issues.
  4. Slightly pertinent to the point above, I was born and raised on a small grain farm in southern Illinois. I stopped admitting this when I was in graduate school. I don't deal well with classist, regionalist snobbery. 
  5.  I am also interested in mental health advocacy and neurodiversity. I've experienced episodes of major depression since I was a child and have been treated for fairly severe anxiety issues that stemmed from bullying and emotional abuse as a child and young adult. It took a lot of processing to realize I am not a weak or inferior person because of this, nor are mental health issues anything to be ashamed of. 
  6. My graduate work was in rhetoric and composition. Then I decided that I didn't want to teach. Whoops! Time to find a new life path. I am currently teaching myself how to code, which I am finding very satisfying. I think I might have the 'follow your bliss' thing worked out for now.
  7.  I am an old-school tabletop gamer. My fiance and I met at a local gaming convention, and we still play on a weekly basis.
  8. I also enjoy the consumption of video games, anime, comic books and science fiction television. I used to dabble in fandom, and occasionally get an itch to do so now and again. 
  9. I am an atheist and identify as secular humanist. I believe that Vonnegut had it right when he said "There's only one rule that I know of, babies—God damn it, you've got to be kind." That said, I am marrying a Catholic boy and am planning on converting at some point. My spirituality is complicated enough that I don't see a conflict there. I don't believe in a literal god or afterlife, but, being an afficionado of literature and poetry, I find a lot of value in religious ritual and symbolism, and the metaphors at the heart of the Christ story.
  10.  I've probably read too much Joseph Campbell.
karenarthur: (kaiju)
 Unfuck Your Habitat is the most inspirational force in the universe. 

self love

Feb. 5th, 2012 12:08 am
karenarthur: (Default)
 Here are a few quotes I have posted around my computer monitor:

-  No matter what path you find, no matter where you end up, it’s beautiful. There is no bad path, no bad destination. It’s only different, and different is wonderful. Don’t judge, but experience. (From a ZenHabits post.)

-  Be more concerned with experiencing pleasure than with being liked and far more passionate about having a life than making a living. (From one of those execrable French women are like this and American women are like this articles, but the line stuck with me.)

- Courage consists in the power of self-recovery. - Ralph Waldo Emerson (Making self-recovery a priority is hard sometimes, it helps to remind me not to feel guilty for asking for what I need.)

- No fear or shame in the dignity of yr experience, language & knowledge - Kerouac (My favorite quote on writing. I keep it close to my heart.)

- I am larger and better than I thought. I did not think I held so much goodness. - Walt Whitman (An all-purpose gem for when my sense of self-worth is in the shitter.)

- Your true task has just begun, and you may not know in your life if you have succeeded in it, but only if you fail - Peter S. Beagle (For me this means writing.)

- We are here on earth to fart around, and don't let anybody tell you different. - Vonnegut (Vonnegut has the best life philosophies. Trufax.)
karenarthur: (the platypus of doom)
I had a dream last night that I was explaining to someone how secretly devastated I was that I do not love Dr. Who. That when I saw phenomenal amount of love and devotion aimed at it by its fans, how they talk to each other, the bond they have, it was like a special club that I'll never be a part of. I swore that I'd tried, I really had. I just don't get it because I don't care that much about 'save the world from aliens' action plots.* I asked if there was something wrong with me for not loving it, and postulated that maybe it was like having a taste for cilantro, all dependent on a genetic factor that I just don't have.

Then I wandered around a shopping mall breaking plates in all the plate stores, of which there were a surprising lot of.**


* True for the most part. I've seen a few episodes and was 'meh' on most of them. If there is greatness lurking beyond my experience I've yet to encounter it.
** I have no clue about the symbolism there.
karenarthur: (Default)
I made an arbitrary decision that I would like to write about love during the month of February.

Naturally, that means writing at least a post or two about my cats, because cats are love.


I found a picture of Dinah on petfinder, which I had developed a habit of browsing. I had just moved out of my tiny little studio and into my partner’s house. It was my first summer off from graduate school, as the last one I had stayed on campus teaching a summer off over break, and I decompressed rather explosively. I was feeling wasted and overstressed and lonely, dissillusioned with academia and humanity in general.

I told Josh I wanted a cat.

I had always been around cats growing up, had always loved them, and I knew the value of cat therapy. It was the only kind I had access to as a child.

So I found Dinah online. She was not at a private rescue organization or humane society. She was at animal control, who don’t usually bother to post pictures of their animals. She was one of those very photogenic cats with cobby kittenish proportions and pale green eyes and fluffy white fur, with black ears and a black tail. Two years old, spayed, declawed, and an owner turn in. The only indication why was a warning that she wasn’t good with kids. No problems there, really.

We called to make sure she was still available. She was. We told them that we would be down the next day to come see her.

There was some road construction between us that we had not anticipated, and we called again. They said that people would probably still be there fifteen minutes after they were supposed to close, so we pressed on.

When we finally arrived there was an oldish lady at the desk, the one I had talked to on the phone, who had assured me that we would love her.

It was a younger guy that took me back to the cats. I won’t lie. Pounds are among the world’s grimmest places. Between all the chain link fencing and noise, and the sign posted outside about regulations for disposing of dead animals, and the impression I got that my guide was ready to go the fuck home already, I was eager to be out as quickly as possible. When he showed me Dinah, she was eating, fairly calm among all the cages full of crying cats. I reached in and gave her a scritch. She leaned into my hand.

The guy asked, “So do you want her?”

I had meant to ask why she was an owner turn-in, but it didn’t seem important anymore. I had a cat-shaped hole in my heart and she was a cat in need of a person to watch her eat and pet her.

I said yes.

We loaded her up into the carrier we had brought, and paid twenty five dollars for her. Just like that, she was our cat. They gave us a bag of food and a cat toy and the fleece blanket that was in her cage. On the way home she rubbed her face on my fingers through the bars of the carrier door.

We put her in the bedroom at first with food and water and litter, to make sure she would take to using the box. She was so starved for attention. She walked back and forth between us getting pets and scritches. She had a loud purr and a loud meow.

That night she layed on my legs while I slept. At some point during the night I shifted position and moved my legs, and she stretched out her front leg to put her paw on me, just so we would still be touching. I couldn’t imagine how she ever belonged to someone who didn’t love her.

Luckily enough for us, she proved to be a very good cat. Anyone who’s been put through the wringer at a private adoption agency (the humane society in my college town let us alone to see a cat and THEN told us he was already being adopted after we tracked down a staffer and said we wanted him)? There are plenty of good and worthy animals at your local pound.
karenarthur: (Default)
So I got a Cuisinart stand mixer for Christmas. 

Thus far I've not done much with it aside from make caramel cake for a birthday, which turned out tasty but not divine enough to make up for the pain in the ass of having to scrub caramel sauce off of half the kitchen. I exaggerate, but only slightly. I'm sure a more proficient cook might have been able to make it with less calamity. Mea maxima culpa.

But I am determined to make good use of my new kitchen robot, and have been on a wild kick to BAKE ALL THE THINGS lately. I'll do just about anything to avoid the aspects of cooking involving intensive chopping and handling raw meat and open flames on the stovetop, but I do love to make bread and scones and brownies and cake and cookies and all things deliciously carby. 

I've been compiling some recipes I'd like to try out and expand my repertoire some. I dream of tasting the untold wonders of homemade english muffins, bagels, donuts, pretzels, cinnamon rolls, and holy shit my diet is going to hell.

It will be worth it.

Today I mixed up a sourdough starter for making french bread, and a big batch of pizza dough which is rising in the fridge for tomorrow. Already in its first day my starter is threatening to escape its bowl and conquer the world like all-consuming schmooze.  Chocolate snickerdoodles will probably be forthcoming tomorrow, and then lemon blueberry scones for Sunday brunch.  

Recipes here:
karenarthur: (gathering)
 John Steinbeck on Love

Steinbeck has made me cry countless times, but never before in a good way. I would never have imagined he had it in him to write something so beautiful and kind and hopeful. 
karenarthur: (Default)
 In Praise of Calling It Quits

I wish I would have read this a few years ago. It was quite a process for me to even think about letting go of masochism and embrace self-love. Still working on embracing shamelessness.
karenarthur: (i like cats ok)
The other day our d20 Modern game that we play over Skype was cancelled, and the Boy and I were lounging on the couch watching something or other on Netflix instead of stuck to our monitors in the library. Our cat Dinah was so overwhelmed with joy and excitement that we were THERE and paying attention to HER that she galloped and poinged around the house until she threw up.

Cats are awesome.
karenarthur: (Default)
I figure it's about time I've done a proper post to inaugurate the new year. I will remember 2011 as the year that I realized I do not want to teach and made a break with academia. I began learning how to code and now dream of being a linux programmer when I grow up. I also started reading comic books again, and started to focus more on my fiction writing than I have in years. I made a good amount of progress on my novel.

What do I want from 2012? I'm not a big fan of setting concrete goals for myself. It pretty much inevitably leads to failure and guilt and self-flagellation and burying myself in a pint of Hagen Daas. Eff that noise.

Last year I started to make a conscious effort to establish small habits that will lead to better health, happiness, quality of life, etc. I started drinking green tea instead of soda, taking cod liver oil, and cutting back on red meat and fast food. This year I'd like to give up red meat entirely. I'd like to be vegetarian in theory, but I have yet to find a good substitute that will satisfy my occasional craving for orange chicken. Maybe someday, but I don't think I could go cold turkey yet.

I'd like to make habits of getting up earlier in the mornings, wearing sunscreen every day even if I'm just sitting around the house, cooking at home more. I'd like to start learning French, but that's not a huge priority. I want to start incorporating more health foods like brown rice and kimchi and tofu into my diet. I want to learn to make japchae and homemade caramels.

Career-wise, I want to finish the novel and rack up enough pro sales in short fiction to qualify for SFWA membership. In the short term, this means committing to at least starting to write every day (even if I don't make much progress, entropy will eventually work in my favor), and getting used to having a story or three on the submissions carousel while I work on a new one.

My biggest decision in the upcoming year will be whether or not to return to school for a computer science degree. I discovered a while back after reading an introductory book on ruby that programming gives me much the same satisfaction that writing does, and long hours spent tinkering with code actually sounds very appealing in comparison with teaching. Since then I have butterflied about between reading on Lisp and Java and C# and have been working through the online Harvard introduction to computer science course. I do have the feeling that it is something I would be suited to and enjoy as a career, but the prospect of going back to school again doesn't precisely excite me. Still, I think I could make much better progress in a structured program of study than I can on my own flipping through outdated books from the library. I am ass at multitasking on most days.

Other than that, I don't have much in the way of grand ambition. I'd like to spend more time outdoors and learn to incorporate more exercise into my days. I'd like to paint the house blue and find new art to hang in the hallway and get a collie. I want to start my days more often with a fruit smoothie and end them more often with a good book and a glass of red wine. But most of all, I want to live in a more present and centered way, and not worry too much about external drang and sturm.
karenarthur: (Default)
 

I hope your Christmas Day is at least as awesome as this.
karenarthur: (Default)
 I am amused by how many references to Blade Runner there are in the Harvard open learning initiative class on The Hero in Ancient Greek Civilization

 

karenarthur: (Default)
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Karen Arthur

February 2012

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