The Force Hums Along

Sanguinity and I went to see Star Wars today, with Evan & Kristi! People have been so good about eschewing spoilers that I can only return the favor… so I’ll just say this movie had an incredible knack for pandering to me without being irritating! Usually a lot of winks and in-jokes and shout-outs make me feel manipulated and grouchy, but somehow it all worked and had just the right mix of nostalgia and freshness for me.

We debriefed afterwards– I sipped a milkshake under the curiously intense ceiling heaters of the Bagdad’s restaurant, and we speculated on what Stormtrooper nurseries might be like.

To avoid detailing our many excellent (but spoilerish) queries and theories, I’ll end with a link to an internet friend’s recent essay that I found poignant and true: Help Me, Obi-Wan Kenobi: Death, Survivor’s Guilt, and the Power of a Well-Timed Story.

The Secret Life of Book Lists

My list of books read in 2015, with a line or three about each. And even more briefly, here are my ten best for the year, which I added to my LibraryThing archive:

    • Bright Morning, by Margery Williams Bianco. Her 1939 YA Other People’s Houses was also good.
    • Kiss the Girl, by Melissa Brayden. Also enjoyed Waiting in the Wings and Just Three Words, and successfully poked the library to acquire the next one.
    • Landing, by Emma Donoghue. Audiobook.
    • Earth Girl, Earth Star, and Earth Flight, by Janet Edwards.
    • We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves, by Karen Joy Fowler. Audiobook.
    • To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, by Jenny Han. (Sadly, the sequel had only a fraction of its charm.)
    • Lulu and the Hedgehog in the Rain, by Hilary McKay. I’ve read them all (I think), but this one was special because of the community organizing!
    • Stuff Matters, by Mark Miodownik. Nonfiction (materials science).
    • The Turtle of Oman, by Naomi Shihab Nye.
    • The Martian, by Andy Weir.

I read an interview with Meryl Streep once– I think maybe it was a Bob Greene column?– in which she said all her movies were secretly home movies. She’d watch a scene from Kramer v. Kramer and remember what her kid was up to that week, or who she’d been hanging out with, and all the things that were going on when the scene was filmed.

My book lists are like that for me. I’ll look at So You Want to Be a Wizard and remember how excited KP was to hear I was reading it, and how she visited Portland later in the year and presented me with the sequels after one of her many trips to Powell’s Books. And how Sanguinity and I went up to Olympia to dogsit for Sara and crew, and they had a copy on their shelves, so I was reading it in the backyard while Sang designated the dogs Horrible Thing One…

Sanguinity pointing at Molly

and Horrible Thing Two…

Sanguinity pointing at Beezy

and gave them stern looks…

Sanguinity considering Molly

…that didn’t fool them one bit.

Sanguinity kissing a happy Molly's head


Or how I read Gone Crazy in Alabama in Wyoming, decompressing on a sunny morning at my friend Jenny’s house after she left for work.

Some books have webs of people associated with them– I decided to read The Martian because every single member of the Maki family liked it, and then my co-worker lent me a copy from the first meeting of her new book club, and then I gave a copy to my father-in-law that he binge-read even though he hardly ever reads fiction.

Then there are all the online discussions like the one about The Hired Girland audiobooks whose performances and the setting I heard them in are inextricable from the text. (Tiny Pretty Things while striding home in the dark amidst headlights and big trees and rain!)

It’s impossible to know all that’s coded into anyone’s book list but my own, but I still like reading other people’s. Here’s hoping for rich secret home movies for us all in 2016.


Five from 24 in Fifteen

This morning I kept Sanguinity company on the early bus to downtown. She’s going to Seattle on Amtrak today. After we parted I walked to campus, and decided to try writing “5/24/15”: think about a five-minute period within the last 24 hours and take 15 minutes to write it down. Even if you end up ranging beyond the five minutes, there’s freedom from having to catch everyone up from the last time you wrote, or write only about important things.

(I can’t remember for sure where 5/24/15 comes from, but it may be Heather Sellers’ Page After Page. Which, now that I look up the link and read excerpts, has excellent advice about love, writing, and time.)

Anyway, here’s what I got.

As Thanksgiving weekend unspooled, I started thinking more and more frequently, “I have nothing on the calendar for Sunday. I can have all day just to write and putter!” It was like having money in the bank.

Then it was Sunday morning and I was on the couch with the coffee and the internet, and an email came in from Refgoddess wanting to borrow a Messiah score, and did Sanguinity and I want to take a walk with her and her dog when we made the hand-off?

Why, yes, and pretty soon we were chez Refgoddess while D wandered around getting ready for church, going to put a belt on only to find he was already wearing one. And then the rest of us were out the gate with Carbon and realizing we didn’t have to trace the same route we take on our commuting walks! We made a rambly loop around the neighborhood, and just as we were solving (retrospectively) the Thanksgiving Napkin Etiquette Disaster, Sang’s phone rang and it was Bookherd calling her back to arrange meeting up at a movie, and Sang asked me if she should bring Bookherd home for a visit afterward so I could see her too, and

Reader, I panicked. Standing in Refgoddess’ driveway where she has made a labyrinth in gravel. Days do not stay empty! A piece is waiting to be written and it’s due at the IPRC class on the 6th and then there is laundry. Sunday night blues started on Saturday night, this week.

There was still plenty of time, not that I used it well when I was on my own. (I resent using it well! I just want it to be there!) Bookherd came over for leftovers while I finished dealing with the turkey stock and carcass that Sang and Fourgates had got going Thanksgiving night. When the dog gave me his Meaningful Look, I glanced at the clock to see if it was eight o’clock (his suppertime) yet, and it was only six! I was so happy. You wish, little boy, I told the dog.

My relationship with time is really kind of fucked up. (I don’t want a relationship! I just want it to be there!) It was still a pretty good day.