Culture stuff

A few years ago, I found out my father is Roma. He had told my mom and us kids he had darker skin because he was part Cherokee. I had come to doubt him, so I got a DNA test. No Native American blood at all. I confronted him, and he admitted the truth. Roma, with some Jewish ancestry as well.

I can kind of understand. From what I’ve read, a lot of Roma have strong internalized racism. Dad could pretend he wasn’t Roma, so he did. Still does — he swore me to secrecy, but given that he’s treated me like shit my whole life, I feel no need to keep that oath. Also, it’s my heritage too, and I refuse to feel shame over it.

(After all, he’s ashamed to have a child who’s transgender and queer, and he hates that I’m so far out of the closet about it. He and I don’t talk much. He voted for Trump, I mean… ugh.)

So I am didicoi — half Roma, half gadje. I know little about my father’s side of the family, as my grandparents died in a car accident when I was 12. My mother knew them, though, and they were somewhat typical poor Southerners. (Both my parents were born and raised in Kentucky.) She never would have guessed they were Roma, so I don’t know at what point they assimilated, but I know there are other Roma families in that area because my dad and his high school girlfriend looked as though they could have been related.

When I found out my true ancestry, I tried to learn some about what I was, but didn’t have much luck finding info. So I stopped looking for a while. But this last week I did a few Zoom meetings, and I was shocked to see how dark I looked compared to the fully white people in the chats. I did the meetings in different rooms, and I used different devices too; it wasn’t the lighting or my webcam making me look darker. I found it kind of shocking, because I was raised to think of myself as mostly white, and compared to Dad I’m pale. But here I was, looking dark compared to my friends. It was interesting. I pass as white, but I’m obviously not as pale as I thought I was! Strange how perceptions change.

It got me wanting to look up more about my ancestry again, and I was lucky enough to come across the Romani Rainbow Tumblr. LGBTQ+ Roma? Yes please! Through that blog I found ROMBASE, which I’ve been reading this morning, and I bought Ronald Lee’s Learn Romani language book last night. I’m thinking about temporarily signing up for Ancestry.com as well, because I know my dad has done a lot of geneaology stuff there and I want to see my paternal family history.

(I know my maternal history. My grandmother was a geneaology fiend, long before the days of the internet and digitized records. Mom is half Irish descent, half German-and-Russian. But really, both sides of her family were in America by the mid-1800s. Culturally I’m a Southerner more than anything else.)

Yeah, I think I’ll sign up for Ancestry.com. All my dad’s ever told me is that my ggg-grandmother listed her occupation as “spinner” on the census, which he thinks is cool because I spin professionally as well. (That could indicate long-ago assimilation, because AFAIK Roma don’t have a textile-making tradition.)

So yeah, I want to learn more.

Oh, random comment about my dad’s family: I do know my grandparents were polyamorous. Not in those terms, but Grandma had a male lover who regularly ate dinner with the family when my dad was growing up, and the lover fathered one of my aunts.

I also know my grandparents were awful to their children and very abusive. I don’t blame my dad for hating where he comes from, but I do blame him for not being a better person than he is. He never hit us kids, but he was still an ass, and continues to be one to this day. Oh well. At least my mom turned out awesome, even though her parents were flawed too. Oh, the stories I could tell, but won’t because it would embarrass Mom… :)

Happy things

I didn’t blog yesterday because my antibiotics are making me tired. I slept a good portion of the day, but this morning my face doesn’t hurt despite me not taking Sudafed since 13 hours ago! (And I have the short-acting stuff, which can be taken every 4 hours.) There’s definitely still some sinus pressure, but I no longer feel like there’s an icepick in my right eye. Definitely improvement.

Yesterday morning I registered for classes at the local community college. I’ve always wanted to learn calculus, and have never gotten the chance. Also, it’s on my bucket list to get a degree in statistics. (Preferably a PhD, but I’ll start with a bachelor’s in it to see if I want to commit to a doctoral program.) Getting into the local university’s stats program requires completion of Calc 3. I never got higher than College Algebra when I was getting my B.A. in psychology, so I’m going back to learn calculus. If I hate it, that’s okay. I can find other things to study. But you never know until you try, right?

So this fall I’m taking Trig and Pre-Calc, so I can take Calc 1 next spring. (I’m planning to take Chemistry then, too, simply because I’m interested in it and never got to take it in high school. When I take Calc 2 I want to take Physics as well, for the same reason.) I’m doing both classes in person, because I’m good at math but not so much at arithmetic. When a real person grades my work I tend to get good marks, because I can show my work and they can see I know the material. If a computer is grading me, all it cares about is my final answer. It’s the difference between getting an A and a C, for me. I think I have mild dyscalculia, actually…

If I get a job between now and August, I can of course put off classes for a bit, or take just one at a time after business hours (once I get used to being employed). But for now, I’m signed up for Tues/Thurs morning classes. I researched the professors and chose carefully. Hopefully that will help. I get disabled student status at school and get help on note-taking, etc., but some professors are more sympathetic than others.

Otherwise, yesterday was pretty quiet. Lots of resting, some cheesecake… I didn’t play my cello because I was honestly unsure if I could lift my instrument. That’s how tired I was all day. I’m going to take it easy today, too, although I want there to be cello. Practicing is rewarding and I don’t want to skip it.

I have so, so many things I want to be working on lately. I’m enjoying cello. I have knitting, weaving, and spinning projects in progress. I’m in a Coursera class (Data Science with Python), and want to score some points on HackerRank in JavaScript. I have a web site I want to build with Python/Django, and a Discord bot I wrote in JS that I need to repair. I have a handful of fanfics I want to finish. Oh, and I’m learning a new language. It’s not that I tend to start stuff and never finish it. I’m pretty good at completing projects. The problem is that I’ve got too many of them at the moment, and they’re all fun.

I need to prioritize them, I think. Hm. Spinning commission first — I’m almost done with it, and that makes money. Cello doesn’t take long every day, nor does half an hour of language study. And I’ll only work on one programming thing at a time, starting with fixing that Discord bot (shouldn’t take too long, and a friend is waiting on it). Okay, yeah. That’s enough per day, and if I get inspired to work on a fanfic I’ll add that in. I fell better having a plan. I can’t set a schedule for myself — those never work out for me — but I can limit how much I’m doing at one time.

I have another blog post to write, then I’ll have breakfast, and then get to work…

Busy day!

I chatted with an online acquaintance last night before going to bed, about spiritual stuff. As I was falling asleep I had some ideas related to that, so wrote them down before trying to sleep again. Woke up at 6:30 this morning, fed the cat, back to bed until 7:30.

Paid my bills online, went to Walmart for grocery pickup (just a few things), then picked up a yarn purchase from the driveway of my local yarn shop’s owner. (She’s doing orders over the phone, putting the purchases in sealed bags, and then leaving them in her driveway. Contactless way to support a small business I go to regularly, yay!) Came home, put away food, ate some lunch, had a nap, then did another virtual knit meetup — this time with women from the weaving guild I’m a member of.

After that I read tarot for some people in my fave Discord server, caught up with my brother-in-law online, did therapy over Zoom (didn’t talk about anything serious — my head hurt and I wanted the human contact more than digging into my issues. She says she’s getting that a lot right now), did some more tarot. Someone I know is struggling and needed an in-depth reading. Which helped them, I think. The cards told them something they knew already but needed a kick in the butt over. I like those kinds of readings.

I am so proud of today’s cello practice. For a few notes there I actually sounded like I was playing and not sawing, and I was so happy! And then I got so into that that I messed up my fingering. Ha! So my bowing was good but my notes were off key. This is why I practice! Still doing etude #1 and Minuet in C, using the tuner app to tell me how my fingering is.

Did more tarot (it was one of those days), and now I’m ready for bed even though it’s not bedtime yet.

By the way: I love paying bills. Not the fact that I owe money, and I don’t like not having money after, but there were a number of years I couldn’t pay my bills, and there’s a satisfaction to be able to do it now. Gives me “responsible adult” feels. Heh.

I am almost done with singles #3 of my current spinning commission. Yay!

Okay, my head hurts. Bedtime.

Sinus infection, socializing, cello

Titling blog posts can be freaking hard. Sorry.

Last night I was up until almost 3:00, and woke up at 6:30 when a cat begged me for breakfast. I took my early-morning pills and tried to go back to sleep. Failed, but when I rolled over in bed the right side of my face started hurting like hell. I called the doctor’s office at 9:30, got a Zoom appointment for 11:00, and it turns out I have a sinus infection. Doc recommended Mucinex and Sudafed-D on top of the antibiotic she prescribed. After lunch I got everything at the pharmacy. I had to go inside because of the Sudafed, so while I was in there I grabbed some Easter candy. Couldn’t help it.

Doc said I can take 2000mg of Tylenol a day, but only for 2-3 days. So between those and the sinus OTC stuff, I’ve been in much less pain. My face still feels bad pressure, but it’s not full-on pain. I can’t read books because I still have the wrong glasses, but at least I can do everything else. Which is awesome. I’m glad I called the doctor.

The weather was lovely this afternoon, in the mid-70s, so Mom and I opened up the house. I spun for a while (finally, yay!) while we watched Law & Order reruns. And then it was time for cello practice (after I closed the windows; I didn’t want to hurt the ears of the neighborhood dogs).

I had looked up bow holds last night, and it helped a lot. Bowing felt more natural today, and more comfortable too. And I sounded a lot better. Still terrible, but better. I did the long, broad bows, the etude #1, and worked on the Bach minuet. I listened to the piece on YouTube first, because I play better when I know what I’m supposed to sound like. And then I had an idea. I have a tuning app on my phone. I turned it on and set it on the music stand, and played slowly while trying to match my fingering to the exact pitch. It helped a lot. I haven’t made it through the whole piece yet — bowing hand tired out again — but it was actually sounding like music (if terrible) after a bit. I was actually on pitch thanks to the app, and doing it over and over helped lock in the finger positions.

So much more to do with it, but I’m glad I thought of the app.

And then I did something unusual — I joined a virtual Knit Night over Zoom. It was my old local knitting group. I haven’t been in person for ages, despite being on the invite list, and they were surprised (pleasantly, I hope) I turned up tonight. I only stayed an hour but it was fun. I plan to join them online next week too.

Someone in the meetup told me there’s a well-organized group making masks for the local hospitals, at doctors’ request. I don’t sew but have a sewing machine. I contacted the group to loan them my machine, if they want it. No word yet, but it was just this evening.

More spinning with Law & Order, then 9:30pm dinner, and now it’s nearly bedtime.

I really am feeling better. It’s nice. I’ve been too chatty on Facebook today, probably, but I get verbose when I feel good…

Where to start?

I’m going to talk about things other than COVID-19. Because I think we’re all stressed about that lately.

My biggest stressor at the moment is related, admittedly. My city government decided optical stores are non-essential, and I’m trapped with the wrong glasses prescription for the time being. I had gotten progressive lenses for the first time, and they don’t work for me. I ordered single-vision lenses to replace them… and the store got closed indefinitely. So I’m suffering horrible headaches while I wait for either them to reopen, or for Zenni to send the emergency order I placed as soon as I found out the local store was closed. I don’t even know if the mail will still be coming in two weeks, which is the earliest the Zenni glasses will be here.

Small in the scheme of things, I know, but constant headaches and an inability to read books really suck. Especially when I normally would be devouring books as escapism right now. Eyesight being considered non-essential is ableist as fuck, for the record. Screw you, city government.

Let’s talk about something happy.

My mom retired at the end of August 2019, and since then she’s been relaxing a lot. Which is cool and awesome — she deserves it after 32 years of working for the same employer — but we’re roommates, and she’s home a lot. Which isn’t a problem at all, except that I feel really self-conscious playing my cello around her. Silly of me, I know, but when I’m playing non-musical technique stuff like etudes and scales, I feel I must be driving her crazy. (Cellos are loud, folks; she can hear me even in another room.) So I stopped playing.

Today I was feeling a bit better, thanks to Tylenol (I don’t take it often, because I have enough liver damage already — not from alcohol either), and I’ve been wanting desperately to play my cello since I saw Cello Fury live in February. (They’re my fave cello band. Check them out if you dig original rock compositions.) They were fantastic, and they played “Nightfall” — my fave song by them — and I finally figured out what key it’s in thanks to watching their hands during the performance. And I got to meet them and get their autographs and it was amazing.

Anyway, I’ve been wanting to play, and my cello teacher Luna and I are Facebook friends so I know she’s doing lessons over Skype right now. I contacted her and asked if I could start taking them with her again. I had stopped in, uh, August 2016 (ouch) for financial reasons (read: major dental work that I just finally paid off two months ago), but she’s happy to take me back and I’m excited. I told Mom she can just wear headphones while I play!

I asked Luna if there was anything I could work on while I waited for my first lesson (Tuesday the 7th). She recommended a couple of things, so I practiced some tonight. Not too long, my bowing wrist got cranky from disuse, but it was fun and it felt so nice to play again. Everything I did was bowing. Didn’t even get around to fingering. Just bowing open strings with the whole bow, for like 10-15 minutes. One of the things she gave me to practice was Bach’s “Minuet in C” from Suzuki Book One, a piece I’d played back when I was doing lessons before, but my wrist gave up before I got that far.

(I did look up bow holds after, and figured out that I’d misremembered it slightly. Probably explains the angry wrist — my thumb was slightly off so I had the bow tilted weird.)

I want to get back to where I was, playing Irish music. Jigs are awesome. An acquaintance obsessed with Viking stuff and I were talking, and I realized Nordic folk tunes were a thing, and now she’s after me to learn some. I told her to give me a few months. I haven’t played in seven months, and before that I wasn’t all that great anyway!

Let’s see, what else is up… I’ve been writing a good bit of code, in hopes of picking up some programming work. (Anyone need a Python developer?) I wrote a couple of Discord bots in JavaScript before the eye strain got bad, too. (I have a third one I’m beta-testing, but it needs work and my head hurts too much normally.)

I haven’t been knitting/weaving/spinning. Requires working eyes. But I have projects in progress I really want to complete.

I’ve been listening to a lot of podcasts. I recently got hooked on Ologies, which is mostly science, and Word of Mouth, a weird BBC language show (episodes topics include the words we use for numbers; how brand names are developed; words that aren’t words like humming… it’s strange and wonderful).

That’s about it, really. Lots of laying about in a dark room. But I’m luckier than some, right now. So I’m focusing on that.

Damn. It’s really hard to not talk about COVID, isn’t it?

Sleep and I are not friends.

One of the shitty things about mental illness is that it fucks with your ability to sleep like a neurotypical person. For me, this means I either sleep for twenty hours, or for two.  Last night, for example, I slept from 11:30pm until 2am, then again from 3:30-4:45am.  It’s now 1am and I’m not even tired.  It’s annoying as fuck.

But at least I’m being productive.  I’m writing fiction for the first time in almost 20 years.  It’s fanfic, but it’s still fiction.  A few of my favorite writers in the fandom have left positive comments on the story I posted today, which felt amazing considering how many years it’s been since I successfully penned a story.  I got very positive comments in general, and I love every last one of them.  I’m saving all the notification emails to read when I get depressed.  :)

I’m also working on a spinning commission.  Someone asked me to make a sweater quantity of handspun.  After a false start, it’s been going pretty well.  (The dyer used the wrong base for some of it, so I’ve had to get her to ship me the right stuff.  I’ve spun some of the wrong stuff, and it’s going to make great sock yarn.)

So yeah.  Going to try and read a little and get some sleep.  Soon.  Don’t think I can yet, though…

This poor zombie blog…

I write things.  Years go by and I delete everything and start fresh.

I don’t know how much I’ll post here, but I wanted to get the site running again because social media seems to be in an upheaval and I wanted a stable place for people to find and contact me.  So here we are.

At the moment I’m single and plan to stay that way; start school in the spring for computer programming (I have a BA in psychology, but that and a dollar won’t buy a cup of coffee), and spend my free time spinning, knitting, and occasionally writing fanfic.

So… hi.  Again.