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Dream: 1.14.2020

January 14, 2020

I’m rushing through an empty auditorium, then hallway, looking for room numbers. I need 403, but this turns out to be the 3rd floor, so I need to find the stairs. I’ve got a class.

I find 403. There are no empty seats near the front, where I like to sit, so I grab a chair near the back and drag it over to a group of guys who are talking. They ignore me.

That’s okay, because I’m mortified to realize I’m 15 minutes late. Good thing the teacher isn’t here yet, or I’d have disrupted their lecture, too!

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A girl behind me says cinema movies in Pittsburgh are now $15. We all laugh.

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I’m trying to remember what class this is, what the subject matter is. Drawing a blank.

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There’s a woman now at the front. She’s handing back an old assignment, but it’s not papers; it’s photographs, but they’re 4 feet high x 2 feet wide. I wonder to myself if students had to print them at home, as even Spouse’s photography printer couldn’t do something that big.       The photos are brightly colored, and from what I can see, I can’t figure out what they have in common. I wish I’d done that assignment though — it’d be cool to have something like that in my portfolio.

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A different woman arrives at the front of class. She looks a bit like Dolores Umbridge. She begins taking roll. Just then I notice students’ names are on the back of the chairs in front of me, many of which are now empty.

A guy called before me tries to correct the name called, but the administrator ignores him and he lapses into silence. When my name is called, I notice that it’s OldFirstName. Crap. Is it worth making a fuss, now?

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Gradually it becomes clear today’s session will be an exam.

I recall that the class meets weekly?, but I only attended the first class, a month ago. So obviously I’m going to fail the exam. I could leave now, but I’m curious about what’ll be asked. Maybe I’d be able to wing some of the answers – after all, I know a little bit about a lot of things!

The exams are handed back. The papers are at least 18 inches long, maybe 21 inches, so they take up the entire desk.

I start reading the questions. Students are all around me, and they persist in chatting in small groups. Every time I look up, in confusion at this odd behavior, I realize I have notes open, or even a textbook open, on my own desk (Even though I didn’t bring notes or a textbook with me). I worry that people will think I’m cheating.

When I fail this exam, I want to do it honestly! I want it to be clear that I knew nothing going in –-therefore, I will fail. Not that I failed because I cheated.

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I turn to page 3, and begin writing, in black ink, about how I haven’t attended this class in a month, have no idea what the subject matter is, and therefore will obviously fail. (It seems like that would be a fairly short statement, but) My handwriting continues on successive pages, changing writing instruments several times; by the end, it’s a blue editing pencil.

There are somehow other students’ answers written in with regular pencil, and I wonder whether the instructor will be able to distinguish my answers from theirs.

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It seems this is a class on Shakespeare’s plays.

(Why would I be taking a class like that? And then, why the previous photographic assignment?)

In a question on page 11, I see a B&W photograph that I recognize from somewhere, so I read the question. I vaguely recall the subject of it being something we discussed during the first class. But I don’t remember what was said.

I haven’t done any readings since (and I’ve barely read any Shakespearean plays at all, just the ones assigned in high school English in fact).

I look around me. Students are finishing and turning in their exams. I could do that.

I realize I’ve rolled up my exam, and it’s somehow wrapped in pink ribbons. I could stand up right now, hand it in, and walk away. (And never return: drop the class, and never see these people again.)

Instead, I look up around the room, whose walls have now been replaced with windows, so I see sky and trees and people far below us on sidewalks. I see balloons floating and birds flying. I feel … happy.

I realize that I’m here now, however it happened, whatever preparation I had, or did not have.

This is a good place to be. It’s cool I’m here. Let’s make the most of it.

I unwind the exam, open it up, and read the questions. I answer them, whimsically, happily, with a bubble of hilarity within me rising.

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Intercalary Reading List of 2019-20

January 13, 2020

RIP, abstract painter Emily Mason (1932–2019), British geomorphologist Cuchlaine King (1922–2019)

 

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Covers the period from 12.24.2019 through 1.13.20

 

I/we own 11 of these items. I watched 4 items in the cinema/via streaming. Baltimore County Public Library system supplied 7 of the books and DVDs. Libraries outside of Baltimore County, via Inter-Library Loan, supplied the other 5 items.

 

{Women}

 

Poetry:

  1. How the Universe is Made: Poems, New & Selected: 1985–2019 by Stephanie Strickland
  2. The Lay of Aotrou and Itroun by JRR Tolkien, edited by Verlyn Flieger
  3. Out of Bounds: British Black & Asian Poets, ed. Jackie Kay, James Procter, Gemma Robinson //5 stars//
  4. The Poetry of Dorothy Wordsworth, edited from the Journals by Hyman Eigerman [1970]

 

Visual Arts:

  1. A Velocity of Being, edited by Maria Popova and Claudia Bedrick
  2. Learn World Calligraphy by Margaret Shepherd
  3. [Charles Rennie] Mackintosh Watercolours by Roger Billcliffe [1978]
  4. Winifred Nicholson {English painter, 1893–1980}: Liberation of Colour by Jovan Nicholson

 

Geomorphology:

  1. Beaches and Coasts by Cuchlaine King [1960]
  2. Glacial and Periglacial Geomorphology by Clifford Embleton and Cuchlaine King [1968]

 

Miscellaneous:

  • American Muscle Supercars by David Newhardt

 

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AO3 Fanfics

  1. Harry Potter // read 15 works; 657,749 words
  2. Good Omens (TV) // read 12 works; 209,177 words
  3. Far from the Madding Crowd (2015) // read 2 works; 3002 words

 

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Films & TV:

  1. booksmart, directed by Olivia Wilde {2x: 2nd time with director’s commentary}
  2. Dora and the Lost City of Gold, directed by James Bobin
  3. Captain Marvel, directed by Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck
  4. Frozen II, directed by Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee
  5. Harry Potter 1, directed by Chris Columbus
  6. Harry Potter 2, directed by Chris Columbus
  7. Harry Potter 3, directed by Alfonso Cuarón
  8. The Social Network, directed by David Fincher
  9. On the Basis of Sex, directed by Mimi Leder
  10. Harry Potter 4, directed by Mike Newell
  11. Shazam, directed by David F. Sanberg
  12. Hairspray, directed & choreographed by Adam Shankman
  13. Harry Potter 5, directed by David Yates
  14. Harry Potter 6, directed by David Yates
  15. Harry Potter 7a, directed by David Yates
  16. 8 Disney shorts: Feast, Frozen Fever, John Henry, The Little Match Girl, Lorenzo, Paperman, Tangled Ever After, Tick Tock Tale; various directors (but mostly white guys)

 

((I don’t buy movies very often — I personally own 9* — but Spouse relaxes and unwinds by (re)watching fantasy movie series. He’s seen LOTR probably 100x, the Hobbit trilogy maybe 40x. And, I recently discovered, he got the Harry Potter series. I was pleased I could easily refresh my visual memory for Drarry fanfic.))

 

*Bend It Like Beckham, Blues Brothers, Brave, Hairspray, Lilo & Stitch, Pride & Prejudice, Southside With You [the Obamas], Spirited Away, Time Bandits.

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Creative Year in Review ~ 2019

December 31, 2019

Theme: tenderness

 

10 years of blogging (est. 2009); 8 years of CYiR (est. 2012)

 

  • January: IbaE.
  • Fiberuary Challenge on IG, cross-posted here
  • April–December: Watercolor painting
    • Read 15 books; watched 10 online videos
    • #100dayproject on IG ~ 59 consecutive days; day 81 was 12.12.19
    • Handmade watercolors (in pans) purchased from artists I follow on IG
    • // Spouse painted with tube watercolors //
    • Painted from photographs, but also from memory
    • Travel sketchbook
    • Mood sketchbook, for emotionally-challenging (clusters of) days
    • Plein air ~ experiments in what I’d need to pack
  • April–June: Zooniverse [crowd-sourced digitizing] projects
    • African American Civil War Soldiers ~ USA–the Carolinas
    • Squirrel Mapper ~ USA–DC/Maryland/Virginia
    • Canid Camera ~ USA–New York
    • Plant Letters ~ Portugal
    • Skink Spotter ~ New Zealand
  • Positive Disintegration 7
  • July–December: Aziraphale | Wales ~ read 31 books of British, concentrating on Welsh, literature
  • September: released dress form & sewing machine; acquired vintage metal toolbox!
  • September–December: AO3 ~ read 430 works of fanfiction in 13 fandoms (albeit 70% Good Omens, and 13% Drarry [HP])
  • September ~ decorating new place:
    • hardwood floors => rugs
    • secret room for Hibby
    • shared bookcase in front room
    • colors: shared spaces ~ blues, teal, accents of red; patterns: stripes, floral
    • 5 of my ceramic pieces1 on display in common areas
    • 3 of my watercolors on display in my writing nook

 

P*l a*y ~ Kernow

  • ariesiandunes
  • asexpanrom
  • exuberance, whimsy, charm
  • male friendships infused with tenderness
  • avoid pathperils of RW, CS1

 

Studio ~ reconceived for new apartment

  • donated ½ my books, mostly to WPBP, freeing up wall space
  • green metal headboard a sculptural element, enhanced by (wind-blown) branches from tree-friends, Lyrio and Sebbro (river birches) and EthelBCurry (maple)
  • storage concealed by favorite fabrics in forest tones, creating soft sculptures
  • center of studio cleared so I can dance
  • colors: greens, teal, cobalt, browns, accents of oranges, pinks; patterns: plaid, floral

 

Poetry

  • January: Named an original Poetic Form: PPEoSLtS => spore adept, an anagram.
  • May: ATLAS project ~ taking shape.
  • Started 6 poems; finished 1 (a spore adept).
  • 8.8 ~ my Quantum of Delight!!
  • Substantial revisions to a poem begun in 2018.

 

Travel

  • April: Chincoteague Island, Virginia.
  • June: Shenandoah National Park, Virginia.
  • June, August: Winterthur, Delaware.

 

River time

  • Instances = 19, in 11 months (not June).
  • 3, 1.18, 1.22, 2.8, 3.12, 4.19, 4.24, 5.8, 5.122, 5.23, 7.17, 7.30, 8.7, 8.15, 9.11, 9.25, 10.25, 11.21, 12.26.

 

Household habitat {previously Potager}

  • Our new neighborhood has a catalpa-friend, if I take a longish walk. I’ve named them for a beloved fanfic OC3. Closer to home, there are oaks in the parking lot, and conifers outside most of our windows (which I hope to paint). Spouse’s office is overlooked by a tulip poplar.
  • //Spouse got 3 pots of succulents; they’re doing well. //
  • Moved 2 long-dead plants in windowboxes to a pot, now on studio windowsill. Their shapes are pretty, maybe I can paint them. Meantime, I don’t have to stress about light, or watering them — they’re already dead.
  • New plants: F in July, M in October, Z in November.
  • Slyvori still doing well. (Coming up on 3 years together.)

 

Social Media

  • Still on Instagram.
  • Sent 500th postcard on Postcrossing. {To Latvia.}
  • Quit Patreon (2014–2019).

 

Human—social

  • September: one of my favorite in-laws died, but I had to stay behind in MD because…
  • September: we moved. New apartment is quieter, bigger, friendlier neighbors.
  • November: Spouse’s mom died, so we spent a week in KY.
    • Spouse got me GF breakfast food, improving my quality of life 500%
    • I set boundaries and stuck to them, despite (my own) discomfort
    • //Spouse did an amazing eulogy//
    • Bonded with Spouse’s dad; spent quality time with my favorite of his aunts
    • Talked family tree stuff with 2 uncles
    • Talked watercolor painting & social media with a 3rd uncle
    • A cousin who’s a fellow family tree enthusiast reads my blog!!
    • {Lrwfmvc debut was a success}
    • My name change [2013!] finally seems to have reached everyone
    • An enormous peace lily came home with us; Spouse cares for it
    • Upon return, I thought I’d escaped the usual long recovery time (just regular grief & sadness), but a week later I developed a sinus infection that flattened me for 12 days
  • December: LibraryThing’s Holiday Card Exchange, 2nd year for me
    • different this year:
      • I painted my own cards;
      • I noted in my profile that I’m a Pagan who celebrates the solstice and New Year, but not Christmas
    • 7 mailed: AR [same person as in 2018], AZ, MO, NJ, NJ, OR, SC
    • 3 responses: OR (esp nice), AZ, NJ
    • 4 cards received: BC Canada [same person I sent a card to in 2018] ~ wonderful note; also KY, TX, MA

 

 

Health

  • “Standing & Walking” ~ (12.27.19) 1455.9 hours total! [An increase of 88 hours]. Range: 0.4 to 8.4 hours per day; daily average, 4.03 hours [0.28 hours increase from 2018].
  • “Hands Free (HF)” days have morphed into “Hands–Elbows–Thumbs Free (HETF)” days. Now, even more difficult, boring & frustrating!
    • Jan to May, I allowed 3 hours to be a daily goal
    • Mar: 10 (13) / May: 10.5 (14) / Jun: 9 (10) / Sep: 14.5 (16) / Oct: 9 (10)
    • Jun to Dec goals: at least 8 days of >= 4 hrs/day = 32+ hours/month
    • Jun, 42.2 hrs / Jul, 21.75 / Aug, 29.9 / Sep, 72.9 [move] / Oct, 41.6 / Nov, 18.85 / Dec, 43.83
  • B: 12 (40), 12.92; P: 1 (1)

 

 

Epistolary

  • I sent 15 letters, and received 2 letters.
  • Realized recently, it might be because our June–July attempt to be penpals didn’t work that I’m still IG-friends with Ct.

 

 

Reading

  • Read 207 books all the way through; read 20 books partially.
  • 3 spans of not-reading: 2 weeks, May–June; 1 week, late June; 1 week, late October.
  • Since I began tracking in mid-2010, I’ve read 2934 books.

 

 

1Made while living in Indianapolis, 2002-03.

2Loch Raven trail, not Fx Road.

3Hylochiel, Guardian Angel of Lithuania, and friend of Aziraphale, in PeniG’s Akashic Records series.

 

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Still more on a dream, 12.25.19

December 27, 2019

Part of what separates Zebras from Wombats in my metaphor | model is… richness of their environments.

I think of Zebras as living in the equivalent of mature mixed-hardwood forests, while Wombats live in transition zones. Sometimes I’m envisioning a transition zone that’s disturbed or edge areas just outside one of those forests. Other times, I’m imagining an estuary, but for an organism more suited to a benthic zone. In other words, instead of freely-available abundance [Zebras], it’s subsistence and scarcity; it’s trying to discover how I can perhaps adapt some free-floating crumbs overlooked by everyone else into nutrients I can use, supplementing my meager diet before I starve.

Abundance, and Positive Thinking platitudes about Abundance (especially in contrast to stupid propaganda denigrating a Scarcity Mindset), scare me. They depress me, they instill despair and hopelessness.

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Abundance, when it exists at all, should be seasonal, or occasional. It should definitely not be constant and unchanging, never mind eternal.

Scarcity is the norm.

Subsistence is sustainable, and sometimes you starve, and that’s how it works. Yeah, maybe that deprivation eventually makes you stronger and more resilient. Not always, though. Sometimes you get sick, you suffer, you die. Or you’re weakened, and have to learn to make do with even less than you had before because you can no longer tolerate what you used to be able to.

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Maybe Encouragement, maybe Mentoring, for me, are like vitamin pills for koalas accustomed to nutrient-poor & poisonous eucalyptus leaves. They’re too dense. My body expects hormesis at best, not dessert. My mind and spirit expect obstruction and needing to strategize responses, needing to improvise and experiment and iterate.

I don’t really know how to appreciate, respect, and most of all, (beneficially) apply help that truly does help me.

That’s just not the kind of thing my life has fostered any skills for.

I do occasionally try to access (helpful) data by asking people direct and pointed questions. I’m not sure that approach has ever worked. I can’t get people to understand what I’m asking. Or maybe we don’t have the type of relationship where I’m worth enough to them to go through all that effort. Or maybe that’s just not a mode they’re familiar with using. I don’t know.

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The Woman on the bus, now that I think about it, was a bit like my grandmother: wordless approval. Questions so I’d elaborate; interest in what I said.

Sometimes I feel like Attention, Curiosity, Interest are the most potent, salient, nutrients of all.

She gave me exactly what I needed.

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Mentors. Encouragement. Baltimore. Solitary. Poetry.

I have a form of mentorship in the books and poems (and fanfictions) I read. A type that fosters abductive reasoning, which fits how my autistic brain functions.

Enjoying an activity encourages me to do it more.

Baltimore: the ATLAS.

Solitary: well, Wombat. Even though I love lots of people, and am friendly and gregarious, I’m also — and have always been — (human-)Solitary.

Poetry: Jane Hirshfield’s organ of perception. A way of being in the world. A dissipative structure. A means of conferring with my unconscious and subconscious. The Great Conversation. Metadata and hyperlinking and nonlinear dynamics, oh my.

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More on a dream, 12.25.19

December 27, 2019

Last night, as I couldn’t sleep, I considered this dream from various angles.

  • Mentors.

I’ve never had a mentor. They’re supposed to make things easier, or better, or smooth your path. I guess.

Growing up, I had people who manipulated me, pushed me, and in some cases, outright forced me to do things I had no interest in.

When I found things I cared about, and needed help, these people obstructed me every way they could think of. Or, they were just indifferent.

So it got to where… if I felt any interest from someone else in something I was doing, or trying to do, that interest of theirs felt like pressure. Like… coercion, or the beginnings of it.

Even with Spouse. And actually, Spouse did in fact exert pressure on me to take up creative activities I had no interest in doing. And I resisted him too.

  • Encouragement.

The Woman on the bus, I felt her quiet, subtle approval, but She didn’t encourage me. She didn’t offer any type of aid. And yet, with my fraught history, I’m glad She didn’t. I’m glad She didn’t make suggestions. I’m glad She didn’t sayanything.

Cf. Nikki Giovanni’s poem, Legacies.

  • Baltimore.

Maybe because we were on a city bus, the images in my mind as She spoke with me about what I’ve been doing were of city streets, and human beings. But if She’s a spirit of place of Baltimore, or a deity of Baltimore, why not Baltimore County too?

If we needed to be in motion, speaking with a fellow human-appearing passenger on mass transit makes more sense to my mind, probably, than us both being fish swimming in a river. Riding a bus (or train) protects you from the elements, it frees you from distractions, it’s not effortful.

  • Solitary.

She didn’t mention any other persons. Not people doing similar things. Not associates, or colleagues; teachers or students. It was just me and Her.

I’ve been reading tons of fanfiction, more than just my usual mass-published fiction, and I keep being struck by how Zebra-focused everything is: characters, settings, what kinds of stories are told, tropes, everything is Zebra World. But… I’m a Wombat. Yeah, I read Zebra, and I’ve always lived amongst Zebras, but I’m not a Zebra, and I can’t tell Zebra stories. They don’t make any sense to me — that’s not the world I personally inhabit. It’s just the world that human culture is, I guess.

When I’m with a tree friend, or my river, or rocks, I’m a Wombat, living in the World. (Not Zebra World.) When I’m with Zebras, they’re in Zebra World, but I’m just observing it, I’m not of it.

But She didn’t try to bridge that gap, or insist that Zebra World is my reality too. It never came up at all.

  • Poetry.

I think my uklgpnwanishomegrslks poem (from 2018), despite having begun as ‘about’ a person from the PNW (which is a place I’ve never been), is instead actually (1) about me, somehow, and (2) belongs in the ATLAS. Somehow.

She, appearing to me as a revered older woman poet, must be Significant. Also, recall that almost 11 months ago, IbaE, which means we’re… colleagues… kind of.

Dream: 12.25.19

December 26, 2019

I’m on a city bus, sitting with a distinguished 70-something Black woman*, who has been acting as a mentor to me. I explain that I’ve taken Her advice, and am getting to know Baltimore City.

She wants details.

Internally, I panic a bit: this is a long process, I’m afraid I’m going about it all wrong — what if She’s angry? Disappointed?

But I find myself saying, “well, I get out maps so I can explore neighborhoods. I take photos, then compare them over time.”

She doesn’t seem upset. I puzzle over what emotions She means to convey.

I realize She wants me to love Baltimore City properly — because I know it. Not in the abstract, like I do now.

 

 

*She reminds me of Lucille Clifton, or Maya Angelou, but is neither of them, or maybe, both. Lucille Clifton is my very favorite poet, ever; I respect and admire Maya Angelou tremendously — as a writer, an activist, an amazing person.

 

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NOTES:

This felt like a True Dream.

I would be honored beyond words if I’d ever had the privilege of being mentored by Lucille Clifton. She died in 2010, though, before I even began writing poetry.

She did live and teach poetry in Maryland for many years.

Maya Angelou, as far as I know, has no connection to Maryland; I can’t imagine why mentoring me would be appealing to her.

Even so.

The things I said in the dream I’d been doing… I have not been doing those things.  They sound like sociology, or maybe (human) history, and those aren’t my interests at all.

I’ve only been to downtown Baltimore City a handful of times. Spouse has infected me with his (grew-up-in-a-small-city) paranoia that Charm City’s intensely dangerous, and even though I’m not scared of the city itself, all the fiddly bits about navigating unfamiliar places prevent me from doing almost any solo travel. At all. The prospect of chaos and complexity in unmanageable doses has constricted my social world so much that the public library is the only place I go week in and week out.

{And, since last month, when my birch tree friends died and disappeared, that’s a lot less appealing.}

But this felt True.

And She… approved. She was quiet, restrained, but I’m sure of that bit.

Maybe the woman was a goddess, or demi-god. Maybe She was the spirit of place of Baltimore.

Even though waking-Mea hasn’t been getting maps to check out neighborhoods and photograph them, or venturing into Baltimore City at all, I have been… looking at maps, and making maps, and realizing connections. I have been photographing everyone of interest I find. (Mostly plants, especially trees, but rocks, and rivers, fungi, critters.) I have been writing.

It is a long process — I’ve been doing the stuff I’ve been doing since we moved here, in 2008.

Maybe I can trust myself, and what I try.

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Reading List 12 of 2019

December 21, 2019

RIP, Spouse’s mom (1940–2019),

my eldest uncle, JMF (1931–2019)

 

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Covers the period from 11.23.2019 through 12.19.19

 

I own 2 of these items. I watched 2 items in the cinema/via streaming. Baltimore County Public Library system supplied 9 of the books and DVDs. Libraries outside of Baltimore County, via Inter-Library Loan, supplied the other 5 items.

 

{Women}

 

Celtic people and places:

  1. The Discovery of Middle Earth: Mapping the Lost World of the Celts by Graham Robb
  2. To Speak for the Trees by Diana Beresford-Kroeger

 

Poetry & Poetics:

  1. The Deleted World by Tomas Tranströmer
  2. Love Poems by Women, edited by Wendy Mulford, et al.
  3. Poems by Diana Wynne Jones, edited by Isobel Armstrong {Wales}
  4. Poems about Trees*, edited by Harry Thomas
  5. The Road to the Gunpowder House by Neil Curry
  6. The World Began with Yes by Erica Jong
  7. Animal [Essays] by Dorothea Lasky
  8. The Crystal Cabinet: My Childhood at Salterns by Mary Butts
  9. Ditch Vision: Essays on Poetry, Nature and Place by Jeremy Hooker

 

*Of 128 poems, 15 were written by 12 women poets

 

SFF:

  1. The Future of Another Timeline by Annalee Newitz
  2. Without a Summer by Mary Robinette Kowal

 

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AO3 Fandoms

  1. Harry Potter // read 28 works; 1,083,978 words
  2. Good Omens (TV) // read 26 works; 189,282 words
  3. Goblin Emperor—Katherine Addison // read 5 works; 108,184 words
  4. Imperial Radch—Ann Leckie // read 1 work; 1400 words

 

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Films & TV:

  1. Dark Horse, written & directed by Louise Osmond {Wales}
  2. The Farewell, written & directed by Lulu Wang
  3. Ford v Ferrari, directed by James Mangold
  4. Maiden, written & directed by Alex Holmes
  5. [TV] The Crown, season 3

 

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