Qualia — Henna

I started using henna on my hair a few years ago but it was only this most recent supplier that made me realize how amazing it is. Everything about interacting with it is wonderful. The results are not the point (they are acceptable, not quite excellent); I want to use it forever. It's a pale olive color that deepens when wet. The powder is extremely fine, and it clumps slowly as you gradually add water, like high quality flour in a dry dough before you start kneading it. There is some critical point at which is suddenly becomes the wet color and kneads fluidly. The packaging refers to this consistency as "paste" but it's much more like a dough. So this dough then, it has incredible structural integrity. The actual application of any dye involves sectioning and coating your hair, usually an obnoxious and messy process. With this dough, the coated hair gradually forms a self-supporting mass, as you add sections to it. It's incredibly clean and there is no dripping. As it sits on your head, it warms slightly and has a texture more similar to wet clay. It can be spread and formed. When you draw your fingers across it, it leaves perfect pointed waves as it fills the gaps between your rounded fingertips. The layers of henna-dough-clay and hair gradually form a cap which is malleable but anchored by the root network of overlapping sections of hair. I am reminded of highly fibrous seaweed on clay-bottomed lakes. In fact, as you rinse it, it is exactly like the clay on the bottom of a lake. It becomes briefly silky and then disolves into dirt, its elastic properties disappearing as it becomes saturated with water.

Ah, there is one exception. If it dries on your head it is quite awful. It is hard to rehydrate and it tears at the hair as you try to remove it. So I always wrap it in plastic to prevent this. There is still the unsolved problem of the edges of the wrap not quite making a seal and the henna drying along my hairline. I suspect this could be resolved with vaseline, but then I would have vaseline on me. A horrible feeling.

Generating and consuming prose

I am reading a new Nicholson Baker book. I do not actually like most of his books as books, but I still attempt to read every single one. I just need to periodically consume Nicholson Baker prose. It's like chocolate. Not all chocolate is actually that great, but it all tastes like chocolate, and sometimes you just need chocolate. Generally I re-read parts of Fermata or VOX, more or less at random. This is the first new material I've read in a couple years.

It's like meditation, where I forget how lovely it feels. After I got about 50 pages in, I felt this odd calm and I thought to myself, "Oh, I have not meditated in perhaps two weeks. I should do that. I like this feeling."

No, I mean it feels exactly like meditation feels afterwards. Not just that I have the same avoidance pattern with it. Afterwards I feel calm and centered and like I know my place in the world.

I have similar mysterious unconscious needs that involve writing prose as well. I have never really been able to do fiction or poetry. I consider myself more of a letter writer. Or perhaps a journaler, but in this semi-anonymous public sort of journal. I need some sort of audience, not for the gratification of having my words read (if that mattered I'd be on facebook or a real blog) but for the perspective. That is what I get out of letter writing as well; the directed perspective of writing to this specific person. It's an exercise in theory of mind perhaps but it is also like having company, but without all of the inconveniences of real people.

Come to this place with me, dear audience, and let us contemplate it.

I want to go to this idea with this distant lover. Or recollect this old dream with this knowing relative.

I think I feel less alone when I am writing to someone than in many actual social situations. This is possibly narcissistic of me. Probably. Nicholson Baker's work is moderately narcissistic, in that it's rambling and self-indulgent, and it's almost always about loneliness. Sometimes I wonder what it did to me, reading his work so young. I can recall a journal entry from when I was 15 about eating steak and drinking red wine by the pool and reading VOX. I spent a lot of time when I was young at home alone, consuming adult things.

Gems from Shelley tonight

"It didn't taste that caffeinated." (About black tea at night)

"Wow, aren't her breasts bigger than that? Oh wait, I mix up her face with someone else's breasts."

"Some people think it tastes like washing up liquid." (About cilantro. She means dish soap.)

And from Hannah: "I love living with the three of you." (About Val and I)

Jacob's Ladder

Secret Cheerios

I generally have 8-10 boxes of cereal in the house. There are only really three different kinds, but I stockpile them. I cannot really live without all three.

1. Great Grains Crunchy Pecan - not quite discontinued, I am only able to find it online now, never in stores. I buy it in cases. There is a store version that you can find which has less pecans and includes raisins and dates. I find it insulting.

2. Reese's Puffs - the surprisingly vegan ultimate dessert cereal. When I was in the early stages of this love affair, I briefly thought that it might be better to get Cocoa Puffs and mix them with Peanut Butter Captain Crunch. I was wrong; it's too high-contrast. The people of Reese's know what they're doing with their chocolate-like and peanut-butter-like substances.

3. Cheerios - original flavor, no stupid shit on it. When I was a child I ate so much of this that we got swag. I still have a monogrammed Cheerios duffel bag that I used to use to ferry my tiny clothing between my divorced parents' houses.

Tonight as I was preparing for my usual elevensies meal of cereal, I was heartbroken to find that I had less than a bowl of Cheerios left. I knew I was running out, I've known all week, and I just kept forgetting to get more.

And then I thought to check the hall closet, where I sometimes hoard excess cereal. AND I HAD MORE CHEERIOS.

Guys I'm so excited.

Sweet workohol

In the last week or so I've been considering whether maybe I'm a workoholic. I fully intended to play video games all break but I started a coding project instead.

I have chronic shoulder and back problems so I'm trying massage regularly for a while. Today I accidentally left work a half hour early for my appointment. I could have stayed till 6:20!

I took a coffee break with a coworker today and as usual had to exercise conscious self restraint to not talk about work. I've learned that when you leave the office, many people want to stop talking about work. In fact, they take it very poorly if you capitalize on your time alone with them to bring up all the things you need their particular feedback on. I am capable of talking about non-work, but I can't think of any time that I've ever thought "can we stop talking about work?"


I often crave a feeling

Do you have any idea how hard it is to start using the livejournals again, after all these years?

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When I opened the page to make a post it offered to restore my last draft from who knows when. It was a short draft. It was the title of this post.

Introductory Floater Post (Edited)

Edited (2014): This was my floater post back in the day. Looks like now they offer a "sticky" date option. Cute. I just had this set to post on a date unimaginably far in the future, but of course now that was starting to be not so far off. So I'm just going to let this slip a little ways into the past. I don't know how I'll use LJ now but I think I can manage my two readers without this.
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Self portraits

Originally uploaded by httf
Not sure how it happened, but a lot of the photos I've been uploading lately are of me. There are more on flickr, especially if you're logged in and we're friends--there's a few indecent ones. This one was actually taken by yosh but most of the others were taken by me. And I might claim some credit for this one anyway (hee!) since I focused it and set the exposure and then handed him the camera. I've had interesting discussions with a friend of mine as to what constitutes a self portrait. Does it matter who pushes the button?