best when viewed in low light

In the near future...


The future of school

Becoming a parent has changed everything for me. It's not that I didn't hold the same set of values and beliefs before, it's that enacting them has become intensely, critically important now that my daughter has to grow up in this world.

The bane of my existence for the first...well, for my life so far...has been education. Or, rather, school.

School sucks. Everything about it is frustrating, enraging, confusing, archaic, and counterintuitive. I've felt that way since my first day in school, and I still feel that way today.

I've said for many years that I want to start a school - a place where I could dispose of all the systems, incentives, and relationship dynamics that resulted in my hating school with a stultifying passion. The problem, after all, is not the idea of a school. The idea of a school is wonderful, exciting, inspiring! It's the current construction of school that is so disappointing. And that can be changed.

Thanks to another seed of inspiration from my mom (via this link, plainly embedded in an email titled "Have you considered Framingham MA?"), this issue now occupies the majority of my attention...

Some day Artemis will have to go to school.
Do we attempt to support her and assuage the inevitable feelings of frustration, confusion and humiliation as she adapts to the NYC public school system?
Do we sacrifice our financial future to fund a private school education that is questionably more effective and demanding?
Do we leave Brooklyn?
Do we homeschool?
Do we search out a school that embodies a different philosophy, here or elsewhere?
Do we realize our fantasy of building a school that reaches out to the whole person? And when, when do we do that?

The way I see it, the clock is ticking. At the best, we could delay her entrance into school until she's 6...forever if we commit to homeschooling, but the requirements for that in NYC are already ridiculous. They presume compliance with the evil corporation that is "Common Core" requirements. There are standardized tests and worksheets involved... And can we afford it?

What I know for certain is that I can't set this aside and just accept what's handed out, or gulp down my aversion and join the rat race that is charter school admissions in Brooklyn... I don't want to be one of those parents that's harping and harassing the "good schools", because parental involvement in school is worse than neglect - that lack of trust communicated to your kid and to the teachers and staff? No. Hell no.

Becoming a parent makes me want to be an activist... Don't mow your lawn, let the wilderness grow! Everybody bike! Turn off your lights! Buy reusable containers! Buy organic! Grow your own! Build your own! Design better! Play outside! Dance ugly! Sing your own songs! Form cooperatives!

Ada's Apotheosis

From one of the Ada Lovelace profiles...

"Her life was an apotheosis of struggle between emotion and reason, subjectivism and objectivism, poetics and mathematics, ill health and bursts of energy."


I challenge this characterization. Life exists in the tension between emotion and reason, subjectivism and objectivism, poetics and mathematics, ill health and bursts of energy! To believe otherwise is to buy into a narrative that forbids contradictions. That only exists in myth.

And even more...what a wonderful way to see the world! Full of logic, confounded by chaos.

Being able to see that the creation of systems is a human created, arbitrary activity that can encompass literally anything that can be assigned a rational value...perhaps that awareness arises from the acknowledgement of this life tension. It certainly requires a mind that accepts disconnections and contradictions without refuting them.

Ada came into the conversation when Suheir and I were discussing the potential for a poetry game - What would that be? What would it look like? And since the real act of poetry is a surgical truth-telling, and that's awfully hard to set up as a game, could you instead create a database (perhaps crowd-sourced) of values assigned to words that would generate "points" when combined? Would order and grammar and specificity matter, or would abstract or random orderings have the same interpretive value?



Ada is the start of all things

I almost wish I'd named our daughter Ada...but Artemis suits her perfectly.

I always do what my friend Suheir says, because when she says something that sticks in my mind, she's always right. She's the queen of the ear-worm.

I was at the Different Games Conference this weekend, and though I loved and laughed at Leigh Alexander's keynote, and was totally curious and engaged by the panel on Sex Games, I still feel like there's something missing from the conversation of games.

Because everything is a game! And where is the discussion of how our systems and incentives are set up to make choices for us? Or force choices that don't let us move outside of those systems? Or question those incentives?

Suheir suggested that I look up Ada Lovelace - whom I of course heard of, but don't know much about - and it turns out that it's really hard to find anything out about her. I guess that shouldn't be too much of a surprise, since she's a woman and she lived before the 21st century...

I'll have to extend the search into primary sources and whatnot, but here's what a quick google search came up with:

Ada and the Babbage Engine, from the Computer History Museum

Ada's Bio, from Yale's Computer Science Dept home page

Analyst, Metaphysician and Founder of Scientific Computing (this one has some helpful sources that I'll be looking into)

Hilariously short profile from the site for Ada Lovelace Day (?)

Of course, Wikipedia, which has the most comprehensive collection of information

More digging to be done...



"Science provides a [personal] understanding of a universal experience, and Art provides a universal understanding of a personal experience."


Time to say goodbye

Dear DVF sandals,

You are the most beautiful, comfortable, and functional shoes I've ever worn. I've paired you with everything from cocktail dresses to sarongs, and you've brought me nothing but envious looks and complements.

The holes in your soles are starting to wear away the leather of your footpad, and it's time for you to go to Shoe Heaven. You will be missed, and your pink sisters will never replace you in my heart!



Zombies all night, writing all day

Last night I dreamed of being caught in a zombie apocalypse with Mr. Fuzzykins, but the moment that kicked it off is the bit that really tickles me.

So, in the dream me and Mr. Fuzzykins are living in an old clapboard house, very similar to the one I grew up in, but with more neglected gardening in the yard. For the second night in a row, I'm pregnant in the dream, and we decide to walk over to the nearby McDonald's (which, I must point out, I wouldn't actually want to eat if I were 1. awake, and 2. not pregnant). So we go and get our McWhatevers, and then I suggest that we also stop at Taco Bell (because what goes better with your Mickey Ds than a side of bean burritos or chalupas or other ridiculous fauxican food?) and Mr. Fuzzykins stands in line, orders, and doesn't ask me if I want anything. So, I do what any hungry pregnant woman would do - I burst into angry tears and storm out of there, yelling about how inconsiderate he is!

But, when I step out into the semi-mallish, semi-suburban neighborhood, it's clear that all hell has broken out...sort of. It actually looks like any low-income semi-urban neighborhood where nobody gives a shit and does stuff like leave the carts from the strip mall grocery store in the middle of the empty parking lot. But there is food around, and you don't really see that much.

At this point, we're so wrapped up in our own argument, we notice the mild chaos around the hood, but we don't really take it in. (Then again, if you were in the midst of a zombie apocalypse, would that ever be the first thing you'd guess as the explanation for odd human behavior? Probably not til you saw zombies eating people.) When don't even have a chance to resolve our argument before we get attacked by our first zombie and go running back to the house.

The dream got pretty elaborate from there... We fought off zombies, gathered supplies, took in some neighbors and thought we had weathered most of the storm...until we see a giant tour bus of very happy people pull up and start flooding the street in front of the house! As we and our crew of randoms look around like WTF, one of us decides to step outside and warn them about the zombies...

When whoever it is - not me - steps outside and gets their attention, they storm our house en masse and start eating people. So their response to the zombie apocalypse was more of an "if you can't beat em, join em"...and they decided to survive with cannibalism. Somehow, a number of us convince them to keep us alive and set up a sort of fortress in our neighborhood...

I just hope my child doesn't have to grow up in a commune of cannibals fighting off zombies. Either way, I wake up hungry.

In my waking life, I'm embarking on the most terrifying project I've ever taken on: a novel. Holy shit what have I gotten myself into?!

In the past...