Sunday, January 31, 2021

Friday afternoon traffic

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I drive to the city, walk on the beach with my mom at mid-day. The sand has been packed down by the recent rains. Get stuck in a bit of traffic coming back, eat carrot sticks from a jar clamped between my thighs, sing along to "High by the Beach." Marvel at the billboards for cocktails, spirits, B2B tech nonsense, a movie that was supposed to come out in March of last year and still hasn't been released. Marvel at the city streets, parks, and apartment buildings that suddenly look different now that I could feasibly live there if I wanted. It's always been a strange thing, being from a city I couldn't afford to live in myself, and now finally, at my 31-year-old income bracket, partnered, and with rents crashing, that's maybe not the case.

When I land back in the East Bay, I hunt down a very well-hyped, expensive apple that I have sold but not yet laid eyes on, buy two of them back from the little grocery I sold them to. As I promised my girlfriend, I go in two masks deep, face shield and all. It's over ten months that I've been working primarily or entirely remote now. Tasting our fruits is one of the things I miss.

Proper outings are such a rarity now that it's all refreshing in a way (save for those walkers who are unmasked). Even traffic has become semi-interesting, now that I spend my afternoons - and evenings and nights and mornings... - stuck at home rather than stuck in a car on my way home. Safe in a car with a good long playlist, what's to complain about?

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Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Read in December 2020

1. Why We Sleep: Unlocking the Power of Sleep and Dreams, by Matthew Walker (2017) 

Does a good job of being a science book that is accessible and enjoyable without being fluffy. I came away with a fresh passion for sleep (and lots of it). I highly recommend this for your health and self-appreciation! I've never felt so good about getting in bed.

2. How Reading Changed My Life, by Anna Quindlen (1998)

Quick and sympathetic little read.

3. The Unlikely Disciple: A Sinner's Semester at America's Holiest University, by Kevin Roose (2009)

As someone who went to an evangelical college as a then-evangelical, I couldn't resist checking this out. This author enrolled undercover at Liberty University to have a "travel abroad" type of experience in the heart of religious right country. It was easy to read and interesting to take in some of the cultural notes on a very conservative Christian university from a secular, liberal, but genuinely curious perspective. As he himself points out, his demographic qualifiers (male, white, straight, culturally Christian) narrowed what experiences he could really report on. Speaking for myself, an alumna of a different type of school but an equally religious one, my experiences there were radically shaped by being a woman (and also by being a then-closeted lesbian). So I sort of mourn the lack of a female counterpart to this book. But nonetheless definitely interesting, both in what was new to me and in what I saw in a new way through his perspective.

4. Bitter Greens, by Kate Forsyth (2012)

A meticulous historical novel that swirls through three women's stories in Renaissance-era Venice, 17th-century France, and a Rapunzel retelling. Both lush and grim, distinctly adult in content, and thick but always interesting.

5. Up to This Pointe, by Jennifer Longo (2016)

Glory be, it's a young adult novel about ballet, San Francisco, and Antarctica (was this designed specifically for me?). Credible, quirky, and lovely.

6. First Position, by Melissa Brayden (2016)

Little bit of lesbian romance fluff about two ballet dancers falling for each other, but when I say "fluff" I mean it in a good way here. Although: why does that trope of the technically fabulous but artistically stiff ballet dancer (who just needs to open up and let her hair down) persist and persist and persist? It's a bit odd. I want a technically fabulous control freak ballet dancer character who's also a moving performer.

7. Fire, by Kristen Cashore (2009)

Reread in a day. Such an enjoyable fantasy novel! And it stands alone fine without reading (or rereading) Graceling first.

8. Empress of the World, by Sara Ryan (2001)

Eh, meh. This really is a pretty early entry in the YA coming-out genre, and it was interesting to see the stylistic differences ten or fifteen years make. The teenagers' dialogue and behavior seemed rather more realistic than I am accustomed to, which perhaps was what was a little dull for me, a woman in her thirties. I just wasn't that fond of the love interest or the narrator.

9. Karl the Fog: San Francisco's Most Mysterious Resident, by Karl the Fog (2019)

Lovely foggy San Francisco photos paired with good fog jokes.

10. For Lesbians Only: A Separatist Anthology, edited by Sarah Lucia Hoagland and Julia Penelope (1988)

Whew! It's tiring reading this many essays on a limited number of variations of one topic! I feel quite accomplished and satisfied to have made it through finally. Some brilliance in here, some meh-ness, some repetitiveness and aside from its intellectual contributions, it definitely felt like a time capsule in many ways.

Sunday, January 3, 2021

Sunday morning/collage

High fog outside - homey weather. I grew up deep in the fog. I remember hourless white skies. Clumps of fog rolling humorously, gothically down the street outside our windows. Am almost able to drink it through my skin like a redwood tree.

The smell of tea tree oil on my chin. Inside a soft cotton mask.

S. has turned all the lights on, opened the blinds, and made the bed by the time I return from the bathroom in the morning. 

Warm running tights.

Crows yelling in the power lines overhead.