I didn’t have access to Friday Five prompts when I felt like answering them today, so I started my own set: What (if anything) have you had on your walls, as a kid and now? But then I wrote until I had five parts of an answer to this one question, so I’m doing it wrong, oh well!
- My mom likes French Impressionist painting, so my sister and I had Renoir prints on the wall of our room. Mine was Girl With a Hoop and my sister’s was A Girl With a Watering Can.
In my head, Girl With a Hoop’s name was Louisa and she wasn’t that nice– a bit stuck-up when we talked. I never spoke to Girl With a Watering Can.
- I chose light blue when I moved into my own bedroom (formerly my mom’s sewing room) and got to pick the color. Later I wished I’d picked a glossier cream color, to go with the dark brown furniture. But I was five, five-year-olds don’t think about cream as a color or know about semi-gloss paint.
- Kidspirational posters (Hang In There!) that teachers gave away at the end of the year, calendar pictures, maps from National Geographic (Space and The Crusades were my favorites), magazine collages. I think I chose the magazine portraits for size and look as much as subject, which is why Philip Glass’ face is weirdly prominent in my mental landscape. (There was also Cher and… Steve Jobs?!)
- When I first arrived in Portland, my college orientation group rode the bus downtown (look for the brown beaver icon to find your way back!) and went to a cheap-imports store to get stuff for our dorm rooms. I knew I wanted a poster, but what would I not regret or tire of? Thus I spent my college years looking at a big photo of vegetables in a basket.
- Now the art on our walls is mostly pieces by Sanguinity and me and our friends and family. Sang’s yarn sheepdog over the bed (soft in case an earthquake dumps it on our heads), my portrait of her and Louie the dog as Athena and owl, Sang’s college drawings of a downtown church, a painting by her grandmother, a signed Dr. Eldritch comic, 3D pieces by Bookherd and Nicole hanging inside the IKEA bookshelves. I feel very rich in art. The living room also has a world map (but you have to stand on the sofa arm to read it closely) and a laminated periodic table. I think if our house has a decor, it’s “Classroom,” down to the clock.
Oh wait, they’re not all about condiments. Still,
What is your favorite condiment?
Are pickles a condiment? I like pickles. I like pickle relish. On a hot dog I like yellow mustard, ketchup, and pickle relish.
Sour cream is also a great condiment.
What is your favorite spice?
Perhaps cumin, it’s so versatile. Although life without cinnamon is hard to imagine. But “favorite” is different from “hard to imagine life without it.”
I like the incursions smoked paprika has been making.
If herbs count, I’m excited about dill lately and have a dill plant out back in a flowerpot. I don’t know if it will get enough sun though.
What is your favorite cooking oil? (Canola oil, sesame oil, butter, etc)
I like butter. I also appreciate dishes with bacon where the bacon fat is used to cook other stuff in the dish.
What is your favorite starchy food? (Bread, rice, potatoes, noodles, etc)
Noodles! And crackers if those count. Noodles and crackers will get me through a lot.
What is your favorite flavor for candy?
Chocolate and mint together, maybe? I’m thinking Junior Mints. I also like licorice (including salted), pseudo-licorice like Red Vines, and candies involving peanut butter.
Cool new sculpture outside the art building on the college campus. Have not found info on title or artist.
Next is iced coffee and strawberries on the porch. This is the sweet season in Portland.
Five things you’ll find in my
- my fleece winter hat that I use as a cushioned pouch for lunch food
- ziploc “possibles bag” (i.e. things I might possibly need), currently has teabags, binder clip, quarter, bandaids, ibuprofen, antihistamine, dental floss
- eyeglass case containing tampons, ibuprofen, and spare pair of contacts in case I break my glasses and still need to drive somewhere
- drawing supplies: blue non-photo pencils, extra-fine sharpie, blank 4×6 index cards in a ziploc bag
- spare deodorant: Old Spice Deodorant for Nocturnal Creatures: Wolfthorn, which oddly smells exactly like lemon-lime soda
Five things you’ll find in my room:
- my alarm clock, a small battery-powered cheapie
- photo of sang and me in our opera duds in 1993, a stand-in for a wedding photo since we don’t have one. She’s in white tie (head shaved), I’m in her former prom dress.
- the small cedar box I made in woodshop in eighth grade, with a rose wood-burned on top: currently holds jewelry, much of it broken
- “rice socks” that are actually nicely sewn bags with slipcovers even, but we still call them that from when we used tube socks. Filled with rice for microwaving, essential for cold bedtimes.
- the Box of All Tapes (scotch tape, masking tape, painter’s tape, packing tape, doublestick tape) that got moved onto the bureau when the windows were being refurbished and never found another home.
Five of my favorite things:
- chocolate milk
- library books
- mac and cheese
Five things I’m currently into:
- learning Japanese kanji and vocab at http://wanikani.com
- Megan Whalen Turner’s Queen’s Thief series. I’ve reread the first four and have now gotten to the one I haven’t read yet!
- berry season
- the front porch
- using https://checkvist.com for weekend and evening to-do lists
Five things on my to-do list:
- clean the gutters, figure out what the deal is with that one, and trim back encroaching tree limbs. Save bay leaves for shellynoir.
- email my parents. (a frequently listed item)
- finish that 1940s children’s book that’s overdue at the university library
- dishes (frequently listed item)
- try that barre workout DVD I checked out from the library
Today I reached 100 miles of bike commuting (plus a few short errands) in May. I wouldn’t ordinarily keep track, but May is the bike commute challenge at work.
I am a lazy bike commuter– there’s secure parking in my building, so I ride in, leave the bike overnight and use my bus pass to get home, and ride the bike home the next day. It’s about 50 minutes to work and an hour home (homeward is uphill), and the one-way time commitment is all I really want.
I am loving my new bike, which I sprang for in celebration of completing 100 straight days writing on 750words.com.
Things I love about my bike:
- it has a kickstand
- the lights are pedal-powered and integrated so I never have to decide whether to turn them on
- the gearing is continuous so I don’t have to decide whether it’s worth changing gears or have a gear-shifting strategy
- the belt drive is very quiet and grease-free
- I can wear my normal clothes (hiking pants and running shoes, we have a very lax dress code) to commute
The gearing range is pretty small; I top out and bottom out on my commute. I’m slow, but I’m slow at lots of things so I don’t mind. In general, everything just works.
I like how absorbing riding a bike in the city is. I am busy and don’t have time to mull over something from work or whether I did the right thing six intersections ago. And my commute is on Clinton Street, which I love because the car diverters make it feel like Portland of 20 years ago except bike-centric, and then on the car-free bridge.
Campus errands took me past a belated Holi dance party today.
On the way back, another plaza was strewn with Wilderness First Aid practice subjects, each with two or three people trying to revive them. I tried to take a photo of that too, but it Failed to Save. :-O
Of the articles I have read and stashed over the last several weeks, two still stand out:
A Conversation with Gene Luen Yang about growing up Chinese American Catholic.
I Will Never Forget My First Gay Friends, by Oregon federal judge Michael McShane. An elegy. I wonder what led him to write and publish it now.
Would you rather shop or sunbathe?
Sunbathe, but there must be short duration or ample shade, because I burn easily.
I am surprisingly fond of shopping online, and do it for Sanguinity sometimes. Most recently, workout capris from SparkleSkirts— love their stuff.
Would you rather dance or sing?
Sing, probably. You can do other stuff while singing. And in public I’m probably less self-conscious singing than dancing. And I like the vibrations of singing.
Would you rather watch college football or watch NFL?
Um. Is it like basketball where college ball has more evident defense? I don’t watch much football, just study up on the Broncos a bit if I’m going to be visiting my folks, so I can follow the chitchat among my relatives. The moneyed interests and policies in both the NCAA and NFL may be incompatible with my values.
Would you rather write or read?
Oh, read. Hundred to one, reading.
Would you rather chat online with friends or hang out with friends?
Hang out with friends. I don’t like chat at all and very rarely do it. I just can’t get the hang of it, I always end up waiting around for the other person to say something or feeling very rude for going away mid-chat. That said, I do love seeing my friends’ blogs and social media go by and interacting asynchrously as the spirit moves me.
Sanguinity: What is this? This package here with your name on it… that’s still sealed?
Me: Well… I did something that I am ambivalent about.
Sanguinity: You are ambivalent about opening a package?!
Me: Not opening the package is the expression of my ambivalence.
Me: I bought the big hardback Dykes to Watch Out For collection from Amazon.
Sanguinity: What’s the part you’re ambivalent about?
Sanguinity: That it’s from Amazon?
Me: Mo would be disappointed in me.
Me: I looked for a used copy at Powell’s, several times over several months!
Sanguinity: Let’s put this in perspective. How often do you think Mo is disappointed in herself?
Me: Almost all the time.
Sanguinity: How often is Mo, when she’s going through her day, like “That thing I just did, that was good, go me.”
Me: Hardly ever.
Sanguinity: Hardly ever. Mo has not made peace with being caught in late capitalism. She is still wrapped up in the idea that her individual actions can somehow escape it.
Sanguinity: Now, I do insist that you blog your disappointment in yourself.
I finished my list!
I read 142 books in 2017, and achieved my goal of 50% books by non-white authors. Thank you, Jason Reynolds. :D
Some notes from my 50% project:
- It’s like those studies with teachers who think the girls in their class are talking at least as much as the boys, probably more– but when you count it all up it’s more like 30 percent from the girls. Imbalance is normal in my experience, so 50/50 feels like POC authors are strongly predominant.
- Despite all the POC stars in kidlit right now– Jason Reynolds, Jacqueline Woodson, Gene Luen Yang– there are strong pulls from the culture to drift towards white. The books from the library that I have to read and return because someone else requested them, the books I request because there’s buzz about them online, the classic books that characters in newer books read and refer to– turns out these are mostly by white authors.
- I worked hard to find series by POC authors to balance out my Animorphs and Dear Canada runs. Other than manga, I came up mostly with trilogies– Sook Nyui Choi’s autobiographical novels, Jenny Han’s To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before confections, and waiting-impatiently-for-book-threes from Nnedi Okorafor (Binti) and Linda Sue Park (Wing and Claw). Do POC authors have trouble getting contracts for longer series? Maybe I should poke around in mystery or romance for adults.
- I am definitely repeating the 50% goal this year. I feel like I need it there to counter those cultural currents I mentioned above. But I hope that as I get acquainted with more POC authors and books, the network will become robust enough that I’ll feel I’m being led along from book to book.
And now, books I’m adding to my life list at librarything. It’s a little hard to explain what this list is– not necessarily the books I admire most, but the ones that if they were DNA would, in combination, come closest to coding me. (With additional conventions, like having only one book per author for the most part, even if multiple books would qualify). This year:
- The Animorphs series by Katherine Applegate. I missed these when they came out; languageescapes sent me some for my birthday and I am wholeheartedly into it. Such whiplash between slapstick and war trauma! So many twists that make me grin too hard and say WHHAAAAT! and speculate further. And I’m only twelve books in.
- The Year of Impossible Goodbyes, by Sook Nyui Choi. Includes the other two books in the trilogy, Echoes of the White Giraffe and Gathering of Pearls. I think I found these when Linda Sue Park mentioned them as the first Korean-American fiction she found to read. So wide a variety of experiences, from a terrifying border crossing to attending a women’s college in the U.S., the kind where a house mother keeps tabs on you and your dorm-mates. I read these on the front porch and on our eclipse vacation this summer and was completely absorbed.
- I Believe in a Thing Called Love, by Maurene Goo. I mentioned this in my High School Romance post: K-dramas and family bonding and romance, so good!
- Enter Title Here, by Rahul Kanakia. I thought I wrote a whole post about this, but maybe I just raved to various people. I’ll say it again: sociopaths have dreams too, you know!
- What Did You Eat Yesterday?, a manga series by Fumi Yoshinaga. A gay lawyer cooks for his partner. Things happen in the background in their relationship and jobs and so on, but mostly it’s recipes and cooking. Satisfies my housekeeping/domesticity thing. I’m up to volume 9, I think there are at least a dozen so far.
Through My Eyes, by Ruby Bridges
The Best We Could Do, by Thi Bui
It All Comes Down to This, by Karen English
Little White Duck, by Na Liu and Andres Vera Martinez
Binti and Binti: Home, by Nnedi Okorafor
The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage, by Sidney Padua
Between Shades of Gray, by Ruta Sepatys
The Hate U Give, by Angie Thomas
And old-timey YA by Betty Cavanna! And discovering Jean Little’s Dear Canada books! And listening to Hilary McKay’s Saffy’s Angel, read by Julia Sawahla, as I watered the garden.