Posts By Holly

Five Things Meme

Five things you’ll find in my bag backpack:

  1. my fleece winter hat that I use as a cushioned pouch for lunch food
  2. ziploc “possibles bag” (i.e. things I might possibly need), currently has teabags, binder clip, quarter, bandaids, ibuprofen, antihistamine, dental floss
  3. eyeglass case containing tampons, ibuprofen, and spare pair of contacts in case I break my glasses and still need to drive somewhere
  4. drawing supplies: blue non-photo pencils, extra-fine sharpie, blank 4×6 index cards in a ziploc bag
  5. 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:

  1. my alarm clock, a small battery-powered cheapie
  2. 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.
  3. 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
  4. “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.
  5. 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:

  1. dogs
  2. trees
  3. chocolate milk
  4. library books
  5. mac and cheese

Five things I’m currently into:

  1. learning Japanese kanji and vocab at http://wanikani.com
  2. 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!
  3. berry season
  4. the front porch
  5. using https://checkvist.com for weekend and evening to-do lists

Five things on my to-do list:

  1. clean the gutters, figure out what the deal is with that one, and trim back encroaching tree limbs. Save bay leaves for shellynoir.
  2. email my parents. (a frequently listed item)
  3. finish that 1940s children’s book that’s overdue at the university library
  4. dishes (frequently listed item)
  5. try that barre workout DVD I checked out from the library

 

new bike 100 miles

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.

stock photo of Priority Continuum Onyx bike

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.

Last day of spring break

Campus errands took me past a belated Holi dance party today.

DJ and people in white t-shirts dancing amid colored powders in the air, in campus plaza

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

Monday Magpie

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.

belated Friday Five

Questions courtesy of littledupont at LJ:

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.

Medusa: An Approximated Dialogue

cover of Essential Dykes to Watch Out For, by Alison Bechdel

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.

Sanguinity: About…?

Me: I bought the big hardback Dykes to Watch Out For collection from Amazon.

Sanguinity: What’s the part you’re ambivalent about?

Me: …

Sanguinity: That it’s from Amazon?

Me: Mo would be disappointed in me.

Sanguinity: Mm.

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.

Me: Mm.

Sanguinity: Now, I do insist that you blog your disappointment in yourself.

Curtain.

Books I Read in 2017

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.

Other highlights:

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.

My complete list for the year is here.

Dear Lynda

I don’t think I am alone in always being on the lookout for more advice columnists to read. Did you know that Lynda Barry has been writing advice columns for the Paris Review? I think my favorite is what to do if your roommate keeps leaving their diary in the bathroom.

I went to Powell’s today in search of a copy of Portrait of a Lady that will hold up to the several rereadings I expect to do, and that has more legible print than my Penguin paperback. (I never used to understand what my parents were on about when they complained about tiny print. Now I know.) Alas, they had only three copies, all squinchy paperbacks. I think the literature section is smaller than it used to be… but the YA section has grown by a lot, so I won’t complain. It used to be that a trip to the Cedar Hills store was necessary if you wanted to bask in kidlit and YA.

Anyway, Sanguinity suggested that Portrait of a Lady might be read more on screens these days, being in the public domain and all. Maybe I’ll put it on my phone for when the bus driver decides to leave us all in darkness as we ride. This seems to be happening more often lately.

rabbit rabbit!

I’m putting the last touches on my 2017 book list– there were too many books for which I jotted down only the titles before they went back to the library. Now I’m adding in dates, noting whatever impressions of them remain in my head, and finding their place in the list. Next year, I mean this year, I’m going to try a spreadsheet so it’s easier to put in order.

The first book I finished reading in 2018 is Mitali Perkins’ You Bring the Distant Near.

The writing is so assured– the characters seem real, like we’re just dipping in as the three generations live their lives. The resolutions do mostly involve romance, in a way that makes me wonder if Perkins is a Jane Austen fan. (Or maybe it’s just that Sanguinity and I watched the 1995 Sense and Sensibility last night while we waited for the new year.)

It’s been a peaceful holiday season. Christmas was with Sanguinity’s parents, which feels traditional now– eating cookies and reading Yuletide fic on the sofa-bed upstairs while televised football filters up from below. My favorite kidlit-fic this Yuletide is “Completion”, by oxfordRoulette (2106 words). It’s about Lirael from Garth Nix’s Old Kingdom series; it has domesticity and refuge, two of my favorite themes. It’s post-canon, so I did miss the Dog.

It’s been a season of good food, too– I made fudge, and Sang gave me a tofu cookbook and made ma po tofu for us. The sun has been shining. I think I’m ready for 2018. Best hopes and wishes for us all!

Smells and Words

I wish I could post smells, because this is Pesto-Making Weekend and it’s sooooo fragrant. I supplemented our garden basil with some from Trader Joe’s, but once the garden harvest was in a heap on the kitchen floor I saw it was more than I expected. Pesto will be abundant this winter, hooray! (We freeze it in ice cube trays, sans parmesan.)

Sanguinity made onion gravy last night and that smell was also heavenly. We ate it on fries, poutine without the cheese curds. (The last few times I tried buying cheese curds, they did not squeak when bitten! I was disappointed.) Right now I’m making mashed potatoes for the leftover gravy.

I learned on Tumblr tonight that Merriam-Webster has a Time Traveler feature where you can look up which words and phrases were born (er, first used in print) in a given year. Here are a few the same age I am:

  • bad hair day
  • comfort food
  • granola (!)
  • labradoodle (!)
  • wish list

Surprises from my mom’s era: it says poster child and private eye were both new in 1938.