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Friday 5: State change

Questions courtesy of f.riday5.com:

  1. What recently caused you to boil? Reading the news that jail staff at MCDC are not wearing masks, and not all inmates had access to masks before mid-July.
  2. What often causes you to freeze? Social tasks like communicating a correction or reminder with the timing and tone that will not cast aspersions.
  3. When did something evaporate into thin air? Long ago, Sanguinity and I had an aquarium, and the first fish we got was a serious little bottom-cleaner type. His name was Mr. something, neither of us can remember now. He vanished, and none of the other fish was big enough to have eaten him, so I figured he must have ascended to nirvana. However, years later when we were moving I found his dessicated body stuck to the carpet, so apparently he had instead found a way to jump out of a gap in the cover.
  4. What recently caused you to melt? Our kitty lounging on the porch, free of her cone collar and looking elegant in black fur. It was hot, so she also tended toward melting.
  5. Among United States you haven’t visited [sic], which would you most like to check out next? Idaho, when Sang and I go to Hell’s Canyon one day. Nor would I say no to riding the train to Glacier National Park in Montana.

weathergram

I walked down through the college campus this morning. One of my last chances to do so for awhile: next month campus will close to casual public traffic because students are coming back in person.
weathergram hanging in shrubbery: "One cannot have too large a party"

weathergram is ephemeral, but these days it feels on the long side of ephemeral.  This one was hung in October for the inauguration of the new college president; I wonder what it will mean by the time it’s delivered.

Notes

Gradually, Then Suddenly
A couple of weeks ago I was proofreading a newsletter for my co-worker, and it felt strange that Black wasn’t capitalized when talking about people. I didn’t correct it, because it was consistent and I follow Chicago Manual of Style instead of APA for that newsletter, but sure enough a few days later the CMS confirmed my spidey-sense and announced the change in their recommendations. The AP, and therefore the website formerly known as my local paper, too. It was definitely less than a year ago but feels like ancient history that seeing Black capitalized meant I was reading something from the 1970s or a social work article.

”Is it reflex or sickness?”

I can’t remember how I got there—probably from Twitter—but I watched this five-minute video about asemic writing by Ananda Naima González, and gave it a try. Mine came out like this:
Page of an unlined comp book filled with asemic writing in purple ink

Looking back at the translation I wrote shortly afterward, it does reflect my state of mind on the day I wrote it. My favorite line: “is it reflex or sickness?”

If I try it again, I might write right to left, since I don’t usually get to do that and as a lefty it might feel good.

.

Love from A to Z, by S.K. Ali
cover of Love from A to Z, aqua background, teenage boy and girl in airport seating
Just finished the audiobook of this Muslim YA romance and it was so good! In the middle I was getting big Pride and Prejudice feels—they needed to work through their different outlooks on life, for real, but it was never the annoying “just a big misunderstanding” romance trope.

Then I was heading out for a walk and there was 45 minutes left in the book, and Adam and Zayneb were in love and trusting each other and communicating, and I thought, “Is it going to be 45 minutes of how things worked out happily?” and reader, it pretty much was!

I loved Adam’s family in particular and also now want to visit Doha. Islamophobia is a topic in the book, but not in the characters’ families or between Adam and Zayneb, It’s more about thinking through how to be yourself and not lose joy in your life even though haters are lurking.

There is a meant-to-be, Happily Ever After vibe much like the one in When Dimple Met Rishi, but it didn’t feel limiting to me like some YA romance does when it goes that way. Maybe because they weren’t high school boyfriend/girlfriend.

Anyway, it was a balm and just what I like in an audiobook.

Three More Things Wrap Up a Post

  • CSA vegetables are a lifestyle. Last night I made a Caesar salad. Tonight is red lentil dal with turnip greens, radish greens, and mustard greens.
  • Sanguinity and I are rewatching Farscape, about halfway through the first season. I forgot how trippy it is! like half the episodes are about some weird drug they come across. We remember the first season being something to get through before the show gets good, but at the same time a LOT happens in the first season.
  • I’ve walked about six miles today. Since I’ve been following a rule that each week’s running mileage is half the walking mileage of the previous week, I will be running at least (checks log) five miles next week. That’s more than I have been.

fifties achieved!

Holly backyard selfie smiling with red hoodie

…well, by achieved I mean reached. I took the day off work to mooch around and think about life, which I have done, largely in the back yard. It’s a good day. And sanguinity’s going to pick up Thai food and ice cream for us this evening.

sad news

For those who know him and have not heard elsewhere, I’m so sorry to report that Stephen, aka leboyfriend, died last night. He was in England, hospitalized with Covid-19 and other complicating factors, and passed away in his sleep.

I wish he’d gotten to marry his fiancee Imani and live for many more happy years. His is the most generous spirit I’ve ever known.

Stephen Llewellyn in a white shirt, seated and smiling

Life at home

I started working at home on Monday. Remote Desktop is so neat— the laptop I checked out from work controls my office computer, so I have my desktop, all the files, software, et cetera. Some things still take much longer because of the switching back and forth between windows on the laptop screen instead of spreading out over two monitors.

Work was very busy this week, payroll deadlines and a grant proposal and I’m also filling in for someone in our sister department who’s off having a baby. Sang and I can go for a walk at lunchtime and eat together.

I’m expecting Portland to issue a Shelter in Place order any hour now, but it won’t change my plans or activities, as the grocery store and walks are my only destinations now. Trader Joe’s on Tuesday morning was very cheering. There was a line waiting for the store to open, a very long line, but that was because people were queueing up six or more feet apart. Staff controlled how many people entered the store at once, and seniors got to go first. There was a two-per-item limit on everything but frozen food and fresh single items like bananas (oh, and one-per on toilet paper). As soon as the staff announced that, I felt great relief, because I wasn’t competing with the people around me and decision-making became much easier. And everyone was kind and upbeat. It made me feel really good about my neighborhood.

I registered for another class in the graduate publishing program this spring, Publishing for Young Adults. Unexpectedly taught remotely, of course. I am practicing my Zoom skills. But I think it’s going to be really good for me; look at my coursebooks that I’ll be reading instead of the news.  Stack of young adult novels in a leafy backyard
I am extremely fortunate to be so well set up going into this, and very worried about those who are not. Wishing for health and safety for us all.

never pay

parking meter with graffiti "NEVER PAY!"

I used to adhere to a “never pay for parking” philosophy. It meant, for instance, parking at the big movie theater and riding the light rail across the river to go downtown. (Oh Fareless Square, you are not forgotten.)

Now I feel relief that I’ve let go of that and am both able and willing to pay for parking. And I’ve decided not to sweat the five cents for a paper bag, either, if I didn’t bring enough totes to the grocery store.

Middle age, I guess.

 

Not-Hourly Comic Day, or, Five on the Third

sharpie illustration of a keyboard. text: I dreamed I was playing a C major scale. It had been awhile. The 3-1 and 4-1 thumb tucks could go in either order, I realized.sharpie comics. Panel 1, woman with food, coffee, books on couch, with cat approaching thinking "Incoming for LAP TIME!" Panel 2, 2 women and cat looking out the window where cats are growling. "There's a chain link fence between them."sharpie illustration of showerhead. Text: too stinky to go to the gym without a shower first... future showers: 1. gym 2. wash hairsharpie illustration of sedan. text: "a last drive" of the corolla--third "last" so far.two-panel sharpie comic. Panel 1: 2 women walk along a street, their conversation is "REDACTED." Caption: We talked over Sang's current fic assignment. Panel 2: 96 checked out, 6 holds ready, 4 no 5 no 6 gobacks. Checklist: 1. fewer checkouts than years I am old (not checked), 2. net fewer checkouts after this trip (not checked), 3. still under 100! (checked)

What you would see next if I hadn’t run out of steam:

  • Cooking packed lunches for the week! First Lentils Monastery Style from our old favorite Diet for a Small Planet

because we happened to have some Swiss cheese. A batch makes two bowls plus two packed lunches. Needed nine packed lunches. So on to pasta puttanesca, one of our workhorse lunch recipes. I keep thinking it’s vegetarian and then remember the anchovies.

  • Watching the Downton Abbey movie! It was silly. Sanguinity kept pausing it to say things like, “THAT’s what they do swelling music for? Is that SLO-MO?” and “Oh NO!! A person of the wrong social class has to set up CHAIRS! (beat, beat) In the RAIN!” The slavering approval of the servants for the masters and the system was really a bit much. Still, shiny! I’m going to pass it on to a friend recovering from illness.

Fences talk, books win

It is still dark when I walk home from the bus, evenings. I was not expecting a glowing rabbit on Harold Street.

Glowing origami-style rabbit on a nighttime lawn with house in background

I like January’s honest cold, better than the frequent chilly setbacks of springtime that start in February around here. Still, the last several photos I took on neighborhood walks seem to be of fences with a certain aesthetic:

weathered board fence with a plastic skull mounted on it

when Halloween decorations are too good to take down

iron fence with garland made of tinsel and photos of eyeballs

not sure which holiday this was for

gate with posted signs: "no soliciting" and "warning: strange dog"

strange…how exactly?

fence with sharpie graffiti "READ THE BREAD BOOK"

Turns out The Bread Book is an anarcho-communist manual. I tried the first few pages but it wasn’t for me.

On a brighter note, this morning I checked Twitter and remembered it was ALA Youth Media Awards day! I live on the west coast and am not a librarian, so I will probably always experience it in silence, sipping coffee in my bathrobe while feeling celebratory bursts.

My favorite book of 2019, Sal and Gaby Break the Universe by Carlos Hernandez, won the Pura Belpré Author Award! 

I don’t read a lot of picture books, but one I loved, Infinite Hope by Ashley Bryan, won a Coretta Scott King Illustrator Honor. It’s autobiographical, with many excerpts from Bryan’s letters home during World War II, when he was in an all-Black company stationed on Omaha Beach during D-Day, burying fallen soldiers and shuttling out to the ships to unload gear as a stevedore. It’s also about how he stayed alive as an artist in the face of racism and war. A treasure. cover of Infinite Hope

And this was the first year that the American Indian Youth Literature awards got announced at this event, instead of separately a month or two later. The Middle Grade Book winner is Indian No More, written by the late Charlene Willing McManis (Umpqua/Confederated Tribes of Grande Ronde) with Traci Sorell (Cherokee), and with this beautiful cover art by Marlena Myles (Spirit Lake Dakota, Mohegan, Muscogee Creek): cover of Indian No More In it, Regina is a kid when her nation loses federal recognition in the 1950s, and her family ends up moving away to LA, where the other kids only know about Plains Indians, through the distortion of TV and movies (so they think she’s weird and fake). Its publication was a collaborative labor of love among several Native and POC women, and seeing a kids’ book about disenrollment (and near where I live) feels important.

cover of PET, by akwaeke emezi

Stonewall honor!

cover of Red, White & Royal Blue

my Christmas Eve book won an Alex award!

cover of Scary Stories for Young Foxes

Newbery Honor: I haven’t read this one yet but asked the library to buy it and they said yes!

 

January 1, 2020

Traditional new year’s photo of the park:

park with Doug firs on an overcast day

It may not look as inspiring as it has other years, featuring neither snow nor sunshine, but after the nasty cold that consumed a week of my life, I was happy to get out on a walk and see it.

I pulled together my 2019 reading list yesterday, and my favorites were all kidlit:

  • Louise Erdrich’s Birchbark House series
  • Robin Stevens’ Jolly Foul Play, fourth of the Wells & Wong mysteries and my favorite so far (but I’m not caught up yet)
  • Sal & Gabi Break the Universe by Carlos Hernandez
  • Tess of the Road by Rachel Hartman. I liked Seraphina and Shadowscale fine, but thought this was a big step up in writing and emotional complexity.
  • The Parker Inheritance by Varian Johnson
  • Mao and Me by Jiang Hong Chen, translated from French by Claudia Zoe Bedrick.

I read Mao and Me again, last night and this morning. It’s a picture-book memoir of the Cultural Revolution, seen through the eyes of a boy age 3 – 13. I love the art, with lots of black ink and several images together on a page.

picture book page with three panel illustration of a boy and his grandmother playing cards

But most of all I love how somehow amidst the big events and big emotions there is room to sit there quietly beside the author with it all. The ending is part of this:

For a number of years now I have lived abroad, but I return to China regularly to see my family. My parents have not moved. The city of my childhood has changed a lot, yet my apartment building has stayed the same and the tree in the courtyard is still there.

I don’t know if this has explained it at all, but I’m not that much of a picture book person and I haven’t been able to bring myself to take this one back to the library. (I mean, I will. There are limits on renewals. So I will, eventually, buy a copy and take this one back.)