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Wednesday, June 4th, 2014
11:58 am - Goodbye, Second Circle...hello, new roommate?
It's official. Our landlord is going to stop renting out the house agoodshinkickin, jawalter and I have been living in for 11+ years (15 for them.) Deadline: Sept. 1.

Joe will be moving on, literally, to a new place. agoodshinkickin and I are pricing two-bedrooms (and quietly freaking out. But that goes with the territory.) We're also considering finding a roommate for a 3-bed, or other situations that would net us a nice, affordable living space with awesome people.

We are looking for something accessible to both Allston and Longwood Medical by public transportation - Brighton mostly, but we're definitely considering other locations.

Dear LJ friends, if you know of somewhere, or with whom, two ladies, a cat, and some ornery turtles can make a home for the next year, don't hold back!

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Saturday, March 29th, 2014
8:48 am - jobs, jobs, jobs
Hello LJ world! The bad news for me is that two people on my team are leaving. The good news possibly for you or someone you know? The company I've been working for since August is hiring.

Things to know: It's a small software company in Allston, MA. My team is customer service, but the sale department often needs people too.More deets here.Collapse )
if you are interested, please ask me anything! Anonymous commenting is enabled and filtered, if you'd like to be confidential.

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Thursday, August 29th, 2013
11:14 pm - JRC job fair caper - the wrap-up
For folks playing at home, this is how it went down.Collapse )

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Monday, July 8th, 2013
11:08 am - British legal eagle needed to write briefs; operate blender
On a lighter note, another job post yielded this delightful tidbit: "We are looking for the perfect full time employee who can commit their energy to lead our barrister, smoothie, fresh vegetable juice team. This job require someone fun who is willing to work hard! what will you be doing? We are an all natural smoothie and juice bar, so main job? Barrister!"

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Friday, April 19th, 2013
1:31 am - also, this
I've been thinking lately about terror. Especially after a conversation with my roommate last night. She is right on.Cut for the obvious reasons right here...Collapse )

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12:50 am - RIP Nancy Lemoine
The world is short one fucking amazing teacher today.

Nan had a huge brassy laugh you could hear from the back of a packed auditorium. She took no shit but had the sensitivity and insight to make flailing teens feel understood and valued. As a director, she was a creative badass.Collapse )

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Saturday, March 30th, 2013
12:50 pm - out of many, one world
Joe and I were just talking about how some authors write characters from one book of theirs into others.  The effect is that seemingly unrelated books form part of a cohesive world. For example, a major character in an early book makes a cameo in a later story or novel, or a minor character becomes a protagonist. We agreed that this phenomenon should be more common, but Joe could only think of two writers who do this: Elmore Leonard and David Mitchell, and all I came up with was Kurt Vonnegut. Are there any others you can think of? Types of lit that don't count: historical drama or fiction and books that are explicitly sequels or series.

In TV and movies, we have the spinoff, but I feel like there should also be a literary term for this!

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Wednesday, November 7th, 2012
12:53 am - HIGH FIVE AMERICA
Dystopia narrowly avoided. Well played.

Good night everyone.

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Friday, October 19th, 2012
4:55 pm - at the laundromat
Because it is my very favorite task to procrastinate, I had a lot of laundry to do today before a weekend trip to Vermont.
[cut for violence]
Luckily for me, the place wasn't too busy. As I poured out Tide and set my wash cycles, I discreetly watched my neighbors maneuver their carts around and fold their t-shirts. One woman had a long conversation with someone, a prospective student from the sound of it, about her experiences rowing for her college. Three Hasidic boys, who I took to be brothers all around the ages of 10 to 14, came in and started unloading bags of wash by the laundry card machine. One of them hung up his hat on a cart. My laundromat has two big TVs, sometimes playing sports or news or sitcoms. This morning was CNN. It started as background but soon reversed to foreground.

I never watch TV news on purpose. I hate The News. I avoid it for the same reasons I steer clear of news radio - the bad stuff, and there's so much of it, makes me feel sad, infuriated, depressed, helpless. Not to mention the way the content is cut into wee bites, in exciting shapes and high-contrast colors, for maximum consumability. I strongly dislike that complex tangle of unpleasant feelings it stirs in my gut. Instead I read the papers online. Or political blogs, or Metafilter. When I want to, I can get longer stories with more complexity, more nuance. And when I don't feel like handling it, I can skim, or stop reading for days at a time.

But today, I couldn't tune out The News. That particular bright news anchor affect cut through the relative quiet to inform me that Malala Yousufzai stood up without help today. CNN had a doctor on, pink fingers pointing out on a model the particular ways Malala's brain was likely damaged when she was shot in the head.

And I lost my shit, right there in the laundromat, holding a hot fluffy towel. I'm sure most anyone reading this knows about Malala. She's the teen girl who was almost murdered for saying she deserves to go to school.

I don't write about politics, most of the time.  Because other people say so perceptively and persuasively what I struggle to formulate from a handful of inchoate impressions. Because I don't write much, in general. Because there's always something more fun to think about. But today.

I'm on vacation this week, which is why I was doing my laundry on a Friday morning. I work and collect wages and benefits, including paid time off. I listened to a woman talk about playing a sport while she pursued higher education at the school of her choosing.  From Malala's blog: "This time round, the girls were not too excited about vacations because they knew if the Taleban implemented their edict they would not be able to come to school again." I watched a young Jewish boy watch a woman on television talk about how another woman, Secretary of State, will probably not run for President of the United States of America, but might instead concentrate on her work with women and children. I listened to smarmy commercials. In one, a black man talked about how another black man had improved the country and another ad in which a white woman talked about how he hadn't. I folded my clean clothes. "Since there was no tuition on Friday, I played the whole afternoon. I switched on the TV in the evening and heard about the blasts in Lahore. I said to myself 'why do these blasts keep happening in Pakistan?" Today I'm wearing jeans that show the shape of my legs and a shirt which exposes my elbows and collarbone. Some of my clothing is dark, some of it is brightly colored and patterned. Some are skirts that fall above my knee. Other pieces show my wrists, my ankles, the tops of my breasts. "My friend came to me and said, 'for God's sake, answer me honestly, is our school going to be attacked by the Taleban?' During the morning assembly we were told not to wear colourful clothes as the Taleban would object to it." I took my things back to my home which I share with an unmarried man and another unmarried woman, and picked up the mail. My female roommate and I both received mail addressed to us, not our brothers or husbands or fathers, inducing us to use our votes a certain way.

I don't have a takeaway. The News is often ugly. The problems it presents are complex and resistant to easy answers, which are so often applied only to compound the problem. All I can think to do right now is - just to think about it. About the uncountable tiny actions of my day and how many people - how many girls and women, particularly, - were shot, beaten, cuffed, locked up as criminals, put away as insane, slandered, silenced - who published papers, arranged talks, held sit-ins, wrote books, made signs, marched, wrote letters, reported, studied, ran for office, who defied their family, friends, religious leaders, communities, and governments, who wouldn't shut up, how many of their uncountable tiny actions it took for me to have my ordinary day at the laundromat in Brighton, MA, in 2012. About Malala in a hospital bed in the UK, miles from her home, her body and her life permanently altered. Her voice is so powerful, so frightening to some that they tried to kill her to shut her up.


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Saturday, September 15th, 2012
3:27 am - the needle in your heart
Tonight I went to see the band Goli play at the Lizard Lounge. The opener was Petaluma Vale singing and playing the harp, with Valerie Thompson supporting her on cello. I've always enjoyed Petaluma as Jaggery's harpist, but I've only once heard her play one of her own songs, and didn't know what to expect. She was wonderful! Her songs were poetic and folk-y, the strings blended perfectly, and as her set progressed she got better and better; warmer and looser and louder. Her voice isn't one I took to right away - high and slightly nasal, but the more I listened the more I began to appreciate the beauty of her singing, detailed and textured like fine embroidery. I think I really started to pay attention during a song called Ursa Minor. There was one line in the song that caught me: "there's a needle in your heart/that won't lead you astray."

A needle in your heart. The song is about the northernmost constellation, and so the metaphor is clearly meant to be one of a compass. A needle in your heart, to guide you. It seems reassuring, the idea of a built in GPS for your soul, but it was the literal meaning that struck me first - something sharp piercing a soft organ. As I listened to the song I watched Petaluma, the quarter moon of her face that I could see behind the frame of her harp, and at the strings of the harp itself, like white and red needles running from her chest to her mouth. I looked at the back of Frankie's head and thought about what I should have said to her last week.

Frankie (not her actual name) is a friend of my friend Cos. We met for the first time last week, at a different show at Precinct in Union Square. She is traveling from California, Cos told me. He would introduce us. We were at Help! Our Bands are on Fire! (a benefit show for the residents of Columbia house displaced by the recent house fire. A great cause, by the way and you should consider helping out if you can. End of sidebar.) After a set finished, Frankie came up to where we were perched on a high bench along the back wall of the bar. "Frankie, this is my friend  Alissa," said Cos. "Hi," said Frankie. We smiled at each other. She leaned in closer. Frankie is young, maybe early 20s, with a forthright expression, femme-punk-ish with hair shaved into a 'hawke with what look like hands reaching out of it, either shaved in or painted on. She looks cool and courageous; like she knows exactly who she is.  "So, Alissa," she asked. "What's your passion?"

In a single question, which would turn out be the first and only thing she ever asked me, this person had pierced through to one of my deepest insecurities. Have you ever had a stranger do that? It's a bit jarring.

I gawped a little. "I uh, don't have one. Sorry." In the beat that followed you could just hear the creak of a door closing between two people who know that they are never going to bother knowing one another. Cos tried to wedge a foot in by saying something nice about how I write really well, just not often, but it was as though all three of us knew that I had four kinds of lip balm in my bag but no pen or paper. I put my game face back on and told Frankie that I liked to read and listen to music. I think she left soon after to find someone to dance with, and she did, for I saw her soon afterwards grooving with a gentleman with similarly awesome grooming.

So, I don't have a passion. I used to think one would find me, a natural turn of events that would happen effortlessly as I grew.  Now that I'm in my 30s, I'm reminded of my wistful expectation at 15 that the boob fairy would be along any day now to finish what she started. I do have plenty of interests. If Frankie had instead asked "what do you like," I could have given a very long answer, including but not limited to reading books, reading about books, talking about books, reading feminist blogs, listening to live music, dancing to live music, eating, being outdoors, meandering walks, trying new-to-me produce and obscure spices, doing foley, looking at art, singing, working with nice groups of people on projects, spending hours on the phone with friends, dating, makeouts, making mixes, watching people on the T and inventing life stories for them, trying perfume oils and scents of all kinds, taking photos, road trips, watching movies and plays, hanging out with my roommates, and so on and on. But none of these bits of life, dearly loved as they may be, count as a passion.  My job is a paycheck. I write when, and only when, caffeinated. My life is not organized aound any one interest or cause that I do because to do otherwise would be unthinkable; with the exception of spending time with friends, which falls under the basic human need for social interaction, and the possible exception of reading, which is more of an addiction, there's no "one-thing-I-do" that I would without question go out of my way to do if it could only be enjoyed at great effort or expense. A passion is not an interest. It is not a talent. It is a needle in your heart. It guides you. It is a sharp thing in a soft place.

Frankie was there tonight at the show at the Lizard Lounge, but we didn't really interact. I thought about her question, looking at the little hands wrapping around her head, and thought of answers I could have given her. What's your passion? Banana bread. Superior service in custom auto detailing. Experiencing the individual contours, like fingerprints or tree rings, of a thousand instants. Feeling this question sink like a stone to the pit of my belly. No rebuke meant of Frankie - her implicit assumption may have been wrong, but I am sure that question is usually an effective way for her to draw out the interestingness in new people and forge connections. I think people with passions must be like people with dogs. Dog people understand one another. You could have a rottweiler or a labradoodle or a mutt, or a passion for fencing or for achieving social justice for people with disabilities or Jungian psychology or homebrewed cider. In any case, you're going to have something that other people can identify with you; something that gives your life and personality a certain definition. A hook to grab. It occurred to me that don't know what Frankie's passion is, I never asked her.

Goli was, as always, pure delight. Vessela and Valerie are both such fantastic musicians, together and separately. Their songs are wry and warm and snarky and vulnerable. Vessela wielded her marimba mallets with dance-like flourishes, and played a deliciously sinuous clarinet solo. Val wore her invincible grin as she played the cello like a fiend and was in rare audience-banter form. Both of them play so competently, joyfully, and zealously, and stay in touch so palpably as they play; at times they even seem to pivot and breathe together at the same moment. During an hour like that I don't think I need a needle; I don't lack for a hook. I am just a soft naked heart, and I'm happy.

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Wednesday, July 18th, 2012
10:46 pm - A word on Wicked - because everyone loves reading complaints about how they got the book wrong.
After a longish spell of reading Serious Literary Fiction, and a bit stressed for unrelated reasons and in the mood for some undemanding, entertaining genre stuff, I picked up Wicked by Gregory Maguire. Personal background: as a kid I adored all things Oz. I read all the Baum books, watched the movies umpteen times, wrote an ill-informed research paper in high school on how The Wizard of Oz was the shit for being the first American fairy tale, omg. However, with time and exposure to other fantasy, my interest in Oz lessened. When the Wicked books came out, I didn't take notice, and when the musical became a phenomenon, I basically ignored it. I've heard a couple of songs from the show -  Defying Gravity and Popular, advance apologies to those who love them and the show, but I found the first unpleasantly saccharine and the second grating (Sorry Chenoweth, I think you're great, it's just the song.) But I was always a bit curious. And damn, I so did not get what I bargained for.
FOLLOW THE YELLOW BRICK CUT TO SPOILERS for both the book and the musical.Collapse )


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Friday, February 11th, 2011
12:42 pm
Holy crap, you guys. Maburak stepped down. Free Egypt?!

Also I'm posting to lj. Totally equivalent. Ok, not really. But just as unexpected?

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Tuesday, November 2nd, 2010
5:30 pm - off to the polls, now with redundant transportation!
Any commuters out there who still need a LinkPass for November? Do to my l88t losing-crap-and-then-finding-it-again skills, I have an extra Charlie Card loaded up with a monthly bus and subway pass. $40 or best offer. Wotta deal.

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Friday, July 30th, 2010
9:07 am
Ok cats and kittens. I never post, but I wanted to spread the word. Last night, I went to see Ari Herzog in The Laramie Project. It was a strong, very moving show. Before it started, the director informed us that the Westborough Baptist Church will be protesting tonight's (Friday's) performance. Yep, that's the same church that spread the love of god by protesting Matthew Shepard's funeral. So if you are free tonight, I urge you to spend this lovely summer evening in historic Newburyport, catching the final performance of an incredible piece of theater and fighting hate.

The show details:
http://www.firehouse.org/L3-shows-theater9.html

edited to fix day. whoops.

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Wednesday, June 17th, 2009
12:10 pm - Phoenix lays an egg
Dear Boston Phoenix editors,

I was excited to read the "Trail of Tunes" feature about outdoor music festivals in the Phoenix Summer Guide (June 12-18 issue.) After all, when a headline references the Trail of Tears, you know it's going to rock! What says summer fun like the forced exodus that led to the death of at least 4,000 Cherokees? Just the thought of all that misery and injustice makes me want to grab the picnic hamper and head to Connecticut for some smooth jazz. Hey, I thought of some other notable events in American history that, with a bit of imagination, may inspire other kicky Phoenix headlines: Japanese internment camps; the Stonewall riots; lynch mobs; Jim Crow; Tailhook. You're welcome!

No love,
petra_quince

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Monday, May 25th, 2009
2:57 am - why bigots fear marriage
It's very late at night and I got caught up in an editorial dpolicar linked to about gay marriage. As Dave said, it leaves you gobsmacked. I just wrote what is pretty much a line-by-line rebuttal because that is how intensely wrong it is. Please be advised that there will be much cursing.Read more...Collapse )

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Sunday, May 24th, 2009
4:19 pm - Grey Quinces Book Purge! Fifty free books if you want 'em.
Today I watched Grey Gardens, the new one with Drew Barrymore and Jessica Lange. It was quite moving and the performances were superb. The Beales women were intensely, wonderfully weird and I loved them. I very much want to see the documentary. There's plenty more to say about the movie, but it'll keep. One urgent, uncomfortable feeling the thing inspired in me was the desire to clean my fucking room. I'm committed to squashing my hoarding habit and tendencies toward squalor. Jackie O ain't gonna show up and make it go away. Ok, I don't think I would necessarily get to the raccoon-harboring stage, (although I do love me some raccoons!,) but it was a reminder not to live in my stuff like a fort. What stuff do I hoard the worst? Books and clothes. Clothes, I'm working on gradually, but the books are happening now. I'm keeping the books I love, the ones I know I will want to read again, and the ones I have not read that I convinced myself I will read some day. (That's most of my books. I'm still keeping hundreds.) The rest are getting the boot. Want anything, let me know in the comments and we'll arrange a meeting. Seriously, take whatever you want. Want to take the lot, unload 'em online and make a bundle? Knock yourself out. Anything unclaimed by the end of day Tuesday is getting a free stuff post on craigslist and the remainder of that hauled to goodwill.

Ok, I lied. There are 48. Read more...Collapse )

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Wednesday, April 22nd, 2009
8:51 pm - listening rooms
So, hi, internet. I'm out of practice with this journal thing. There's been a lot of unpleasantness over the past few months, but seriously, I don't feel like covering it. Let's stick to the Arts and Entertainment column today. I'm just going to natter on about an awesome day I had last week, and some awesome shows. There will be gratuitous band promotion. Aren't you glad you didn't purge me off your friendslist? You were thinking about it, right? Sure I haven't posted in months. But that's deceptive. I could post any time. I could be posting right now!Collapse )

So here's the big squee: Molly and Jaggery are going to be playing a show together tomorrow! It's called "From the Inside Out" (Thursday 4/23, 7:30) And "together" does not just mean they are sharing the venue, this is a collaborative show, meaning my oldest and newest favorite local bands will be mooshing together in various configurations for an evening that promises to be totally glorious. It's at the Lilypad (1353 Central St. in Inman, right by 1369) which is a good venue for this kind of thing - it's an intimate, warm, artsy little postage stamp of a place and you get to sit down. Also they start on time.

More on why you should drop everything and go to the Lilypad tomorrow:Collapse )

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Sunday, December 7th, 2008
12:34 pm - this is the first and last time this year I'm going to be delighted by it
It's snowing!

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Wednesday, November 5th, 2008
6:14 am - overflowing
Thank you. Thank you to the campaign volunteers. Thank you to those of you who got on the phones; knocked on doors; got on a bus to New Hampshire to do something. Thank you to those who donated money to the campaign. Thank you to those of you who talked to your friends, coworkers and family. Thank you for those who wrote thoughfully. Thank you to poll workers. Thank you agoodshinkickin for getting up before dawn to work her shift at election warden, ward, bringing homemade signs and self-purchased candy and stickers. Thank you for voting. Thank you to those who got up early to stand in line for hours to vote. Thank you to those who voted even though you're disenchanted with politics, even though you don't think it will make a difference. It will. Thank you to everyone and anyone who had a hand in electing Barack Obama the next president of the United States of America. Yes.

The country may not immediately transition into an episode of the West Wing. Some truly heartbreaking battles were lost over ballot initiatives in certain states last night. But there'e reason to believe now that denying people their rights can and will be successfully challenged. It's not over.

I'm letting out a breath I've been holding for eight years. Thank you.

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