Skip to content

Reading List 1 of 2019

January 20, 2019

Covers the period from 1.5.2019 through 1.19.19

 

I own 4 of these items. I watched 4 items in the cinema/via streaming. Baltimore County Public Library system supplied 14 of the books and movies. Libraries outside of Baltimore County, via Inter-Library Loan, supplied the other 7 items.

{Women}

 

*** RIP, Mary Oliver (1935–2019) ***

 

Poetry:

  1. A Muriel Rukeyser Reader, edited by Jan Heller Levi
  2. A Sleepwalk on the Severn by Alice Oswald
  3. The Carrying by Ada Limón
  4. Cossack Laughter by Fania Kruger
  5. The Gates by Muriel Rukeyser
  6. Ghost Of by Diana Khoi Nguyen
  7. The Green Wave by Muriel Rukeyser [1948]
  8. Honest Engine by Kyle Dargan
  9. Late Wife by Claudia Emerson
  10. Museum of the Americas by J. Michael Martinez
  11. Theory of Flight by Muriel Rukeyser [1935]

 

Creative people:

  1. Florine Stettheimer: Painting Poetry, edited by Stephen Brown and Georgiana Uhlyarik
  2. The Lives of the Surrealists by Desmond Morris
  3. Maya Lin: Thinking with Her Hands by Susan Goldman Rubin
  4. Paula Modersohn-Becker: The First Modern Woman Artist by Diane Radycki
  5. [Graphic memoir] Hey, Kiddo: How I Lost My Mother, Found My Father, and Dealt with Family Addiction by Jarrett J. Krosoczka

 

Films:

  1. 3 Identical Strangers, directed by Tim Wardle
  2. Catwalk: Tales from the [Canadian] Cat Show Circuit, directed by Michael McNamara and Aaron Hancox
  3. Lilo & Stitch, directed by Chris Sanders and Dean DeBlois
  4. Monsters, Inc., directed by Pete Docter
  5. Welcome to Kutsher’s: The Last Catskills Resort, directed by Caroline Laskow and Ian Rosenberg

 

Television:

  1. Derry Girls, written & directed by Lisa McGee

 

SFF:

  1. The Arrival by Shaun Tan [Australian] {5 stars}
  2. Bright Ruin by Vic James
  3. Jeweled Fire by Sharon Shinn

 

Miscellaneous:

  1. King Edward VIII: An American Life by Ted Powell
  2. One Drawing a Day by Veronica Lawlor
  3. Tangle Journey by Beckah Krahula
  4. [Fiction] There There by Tommy Orange [FN ~ Cheyenne & Arapaho] {4.5 stars}

 

+

Poet Mary Oliver is #7 in Flujx & Gekinoo’amaaged; I first read her work circa 2005. In 2013, as a new poet, I asked fellow AROHO attendees for recommendations: DA and RT both recommended Mary Oliver (among others).

+++

Advertisements

More on a dream, 1.9.19

January 10, 2019

3 spiders, working in close proximity, perhaps even cooperatively — but not as a team. 3 spiders creating sculptural fiber art.

A blue spider ~ When a color makes itself memorable in a dream, there is a reason for it, even if it takes me a while to puzzle it out. This blue wasn’t ordinary sky blue, azure, or robin’s egg blue. Nor was it “astonishment”, or “surprised by happiness” {synesthesia}.

About the best I can figure, the specific shade approximated “pleasant associations, but please be extra-aware of your surroundings”.                 That interpretation owes a lot to having recently seen [the excellent] Spider-Verse.

+

In the dream, the one man I clearly saw who was trapped in a transparent ball… resembled Chidi, from The Good Place. I can easily imagine how a professor of ethics might run afoul of the green-clad goons tasing people.

[I need to watch TGP season 2 again.]

+

One of the neighborhoods Spouse and I walked through… resembled CJ’s neighborhood near Plainfield, as it appeared in 2007.

+

Puget Sound, an estuary.

Wooded hills.

+

Leaving (almost) everything we’d traveled with behind us, but feeling zero anxiety about it.

Unfamiliar with the area, or how we got there. Being unreachable. Not predicting even the immediate future.

++

Dream-me and dream-Spouse working cooperatively and respectfully together. Complementing each other’s strengths, as we faced uncertainty (which is definitely more familiar and comfortable for me).

+

Dream-D didn’t listen to or know my reason for attending his shindig, but it was the usual reason I do anything: curiosity.                              It wasn’t, however, deep interest (or really, any interest) in the tech topics of the conference. It wasn’t respect for his subject knowledge. It certainly wasn’t respect for Dudebro.

I felt like mule handler Gereny Vox at a diplomatic reception on Jubal. She was probably dressed for comfort, too. Scruffy, even.

The more time I spend observing some (white) people from my past on IG, the more I realize how bland and boring their lives seem to me.   Everyone’s always happy and smiling and they all love each other, and I guess that’s cool, but… we’re all kinda trapped in Omelas, and which parts are they playing? Or, in whichever YA dystopia is popular just now, what do these people have at stake? Why do they care if the world burns? Do they care? I see no evidence of it.

+

Maybe the dirty, broken-down concrete wasn’t being refurbished nor recycled because the whole endeavor needs to be destroyed before Real Change could occur. [Not that Dudebro himself, nor his juggernaut organization, would be interested in wholesale change.]

Maybe I’ve finally realized that Dudebro ‘authorities’ offer nothing I care about, no vision for the world that I could possibly participate in.

My dream counterpart/aspect {that is, dream-Spouse}, however, who has historically behaved as an internal ‘authority figure’… they were half-entranced by Dudebro’s bullshit; I had to rescue them. How far did years of Being an Authority Figure, Like, For Realz, get them? Nowhere good.

+

I’ve got allies on the ground, helping me see what needs seeing. They’re generally not human, but that also means… hardly any (other) humans are paying attention to them. So the knowledge my allies offer… might be noticed but misinterpreted; more likely, though, it’s never perceived at all.

+

Loki.

Earthmasters.

What stories could they tell, if anyone was listening?

+++

NOTES:

Gereny Vox appears in Sheri S. Tepper’s After Long Silence, 1987.

Omelas is Ursula Le Guin’s creation.

I have a headcanon version of Loki that owes little to fictional representations I’ve read.

Earthmasters appear, obliquely, in Patricia McKillip’s Riddlemaster series, late 1970s.

Dream: 1.9.2019

January 9, 2019

D invited me (us?) to some expensive techie shindig, as his guests, so we could see for ourselves how important he is in the tech world the bright shining wave of the future.

The keynote speaker, and organizer — not just of this particular event, it turned out, but of an entire (longstanding) series of them — was some middle-aged white dudebro, similar to Seth Godin. Very enthusiastic about how Tech Will Save the Planet; adoring acolytes in the stadium all around us, soaking it all in.

Dudebro was spending gobs of money everywhere we looked: the finest This, the latest-tech-innovation That.

Me, I was cynical, doing an ironic running commentary in my head: a lot of, “how can anyone be taken in by this bullshit?!??”

Still, it was a harmless, if annoying, way to spend a weekend, especially at someone else’s expense, until I needed to go to the bathroom. I set off, expecting to return to Spouse in fairly-short order.

+

There were no bathrooms.

I got further and further into the bowels of the arena, found less-used hallways with almost no foot traffic. Restricted areas. Still, no bathrooms.

WTF? (Luckily, I didn’t have to go desperately, yet.)

Everything was run-down, cracked and dirty gray concrete back here. When I looked into various rooms I passed (my insatiable curiosity), indoor pools had been emptied and were falling apart, there was only broken-down furniture, … everything was in disarray.

Then I started noticing teams of uniformed “troops”, walking in formation, down some wider hallways. Their outfits were the sickly-mint-greenish color of scrubs, they had masks on their lower faces, … when I tried to pick out the details of why they disturbed me, I found the color itself somehow prevented me from focusing — like a green screen?                High-tech, but definitely ominous. Also, once I’d realized there were a lot of these teams, my Gift of Fear instincts activated: better to not catch their attention. I worked on looking inconspicuous, unassuming.

Still no bathrooms.

+

At some point, I must’ve found an exit door, because I was suddenly in a hilly, wooded area. (Inside the arena, it had felt like mid-morning, or maybe early afternoon, but now I saw) It was early evening, and people were milling around, some doing VR stuff.

I recalled, with some internal grimacing, that — if absolutely necessary — I could “pee in someone’s yard”, but I continued to hope it wouldn’t come to that. Anyway, I was initially preoccupied with my bladder.

Still, insatiable curiosity, so I observed these surroundings too.

+

Interlude ~

Walking along a paved path, I come upon an orb weaver’s web, stretched between trees on either side, but up about 12 feet at the top, enabling one to walk under it. As I pass under it, I look up at the spider, who had been kind of a weird sky blue color — at a certain angle, the underside of their abdomen has a pattern like “turtle teeth”. It’s unsettling, but, hey, spiders aren’t exactly cuddly, right?

I walk through, then turn back, to see if the spider is blue again. Now there’s 3 spiders, apparently working cooperatively, and I see the web is more like freeform crochet than the usual 2-d ‘wheel’.

I suddenly realize my red camera’s bag is in its usual spot, slung across my body, so I take the camera out to photograph the spiders. They speed up — in all my photos, they are bluish blurs of legs, working, working. I realize I will have to rely on my own memory for How It Was, How I Felt.

+

Dusk has fallen. Well, sort of, in some places anyway.

Some people I had taken (at peripheral glances) to be absorbed in their phones or VR headsets, are actually… incapacitated, or worse. Nobody around me seems to see me, which is excellent, because those green-clad teams are out here, too, and they are … tasing people. Imprisoning them in transparent unbreakable spheres — small and cramped enough that the people are curled into fetal balls to fit.

At least once, I see a green-clad person kill someone. They don’t shoot them or stab them; they ‘just’ push them off a cliff.

My unconscious has put all the pieces together — I need to find Spouse, and get us both OUT. Now.

+

In a surprisingly short time, I’m back inside the arena. Spouse is not where I left him, in a stadium seat. No, he’s in a large kitchen, where the doors are open to the stadium, and he’s following along with the speaker’s words. As I approach him, from behind, he turns and sees me, smiles dreamily.

I’m abruptly even more alarmed: his white business shirt has been ripped off, and he seems half-entranced. [Spouse only walks around without a shirt, at home, if it’s, like, 38 C (100 F) outside, and he’s just come in from unloading his car of heavy gear. Definitely nothing related to a business context, though.]

I try to catch his eye, bend in quite close to his face, whisper in his ear, “we have to get out of here…. Don’t look surprised; we’re being watched.”

He ‘sobers up’ quickly, but is … docile … following my lead, as I thread him back through those gray dreary corridors, while I explain the danger we’re in.

Myself adrenaline-alert, I consciously reflect that I have years of lived experience evading human predators in my environment, while Spouse, as a (relatively) privileged middle-aged white guy, has… probably zero experience.

Also, and uncharacteristically, Spouse doesn’t seem to see the (unobtrusive) surveillance cameras everywhere. So we’re performing for their benefit as well. Super.

+

Much later, Spouse is himself again, and we’ve escaped. We walked through miles of residential neighborhoods, trying to look like we belonged there, while getting as far away as possible.

It’s now full dark. We’re walking along a wooded path, on a ridge. To our left, miles away in the distance, there are the twinkling lights of a city. I ask Spouse, “Where are we?” not really expecting an answer [although his skills at recognizing cities, like in movies, are way better than mine]. He squints a moment, then says, triumphantly, “Seattle!”

Seattle? I thought we started the day in Minnesota. Or St. Louis. Maybe even NYC. But Seattle??!?

I’m still reeling from that revelation when Spouse continues on the path, down the hill, so that we’re now walking on a plain, near water. We can see the faraway city better, too.                               Spouse says, “Didn’t you always want to see Puget Sound? Well, here we are!”

[I marvel that he remembered about Puget Sound. I’m not here because I’m attending Hedgebrook, but I did get here. Cool.]

+

I try to recall if Spouse and I had brought with us, on this trip, any favorite clothes, or books, or other treasures. If so, they are utterly lost to us — we walked away with just our clothes, and my camera.

I’m not concerned, though. I think of wildfires, and people fleeing them by taking only what really matters. (Also, surely I wouldn’t have packed and brought treasures on a trip with D. They should be safe at home.)

+++

INTERRUPTION:

Today I was supposed to be running the errands I didn’t do yesterday, since today’s the one warmish [7 C] day left in the week before the weekend’s snow, but this dream felt so significant, I changed all my plans.

+++

DREAM NOTES:

Unshakable conviction this dream has something to do with Ca.

+

A lot of the strongest images and the emotions they evoked were straight from movies I’ve seen (mostly) recently — Spider-Verse, the Kutsher’s documentary, the separately-adopted Jewish triplets in the panopticon documentary,  The Circle; or books I’ve read — the Murderbot series, Beartown.

+

Grandmother Spider is a longstanding archetype for me, and I intuit She was here.

++

Dream-Spouse has historically been a hectoring adult figure, inciting dream-me to resentful rebellion.

I feel like I’ve somehow graduated? Because in this dream, my skills at not just observation (and strategically employing my curiosity), but also pattern recognition, and visceral awareness of menace all around, straightforwardly saved our lives.

Chaotic Good, not Lawful Good.              ‘Sneaky’, unobtrusive, smart.         Which is maybe where Ca comes in?

Also, *scruffy*. {When I wrote *scruffy*, in 2014, I was defensive about all of it. Later, much later, I wanted “defense” to become “praise”, but I couldn’t write it. Later still, I felt I’d found some sort of ‘balance’… But I couldn’t write that neither.}

+

Do D, or Ca, or even Cb, have anything that I actually want?

Nope.

+

I’ve recently unearthed people I knew in the 1980s on Instagram. Those I attended school with have remained, and have raised their own kids to be, devout, Catholic, conservative, Republicans. Those I knew from other places have remained, and have raised their own kids to be, not-devout, Protestant, conservative, Republicans.

{From what I’ve read of people who tend toward authoritarianism} ‘Submitting’ to authority figures feels ‘right’, it’s pleasant, maybe even enjoyable.

I read my father’s copy of The Gulag Archipelago as a young teen. A lot of it went over my head, but I recognized the Soviets’ brutality as akin to how I was being parented.

I could probably tell you every. single. time. in my 50-something-year life that I have ‘submitted’ to authority. They were all terrifying. My PTSD keeps them fresh in my mind, and my curdled guts.

+

I realized just recently that, although I think of 7381 as “when I ‘converted’ away from Catholicism, and became a Pagan”, arguably… I was never a Catholic at all.      I was coerced at every step. Whenever I think about ‘my’ Confirmation — that I resisted with every fiber of my being, but still found myself forced to go through with, by my mother — I’m filled with rage. It’s been almost 40 years now.           Just this moment I realized, picking “Marietta” as the name, a girl about my age then when she was raped so violently she ended up dying of it, … maybe there was irony in it.  Marietta forgave her rapist on her death bed; I, however, have never forgiven my mother, and I never will.

Thus, I could never have become a Catholic saint. I’m not dutiful. I’m not obedient. I hold grudges — wolverine-style {the animal, not the fictional character}.

+

Maybe the reason my mother deposed me as her heir in favor of D was precisely because I don’t submit. (And not ‘about’ N’s arrival at all.)

And maybe that’s part of why D and I always clashed so much. “No, I’m not ‘over it’ yet, and yes, someone should answer for it (any of it) before I can bring myself to care about how you’re raising your own kids to sweep all before them, as you did, swamping everyone else around you.”

+++

[{[I knew this dream was Important, but, 3 hours ago, when I began writing about it, I had no idea how primal…]}]

+++

I invoke Great-great-great-many-times-Great-Grandmother Proto-Rat. She had teeth and claws and used them too. She probably had a great snarl.          I claim Her ancestry proudly.

What is this dream telling me?

It’s not just the planet Earth that’s in peril — something I am always, always consumed by awareness of — but human-political affairs are fairly terrifying right now on all sorts of fronts.

I grew up amongst people I didn’t trust, people who harmed me with impunity, people who expected me to eventually Realize My Place and thereby submit to authority because That’s How the World Works.

What I actually learned… was different.

Intercalary Reading List of 2018–19

January 3, 2019

Covers the period from 12.21.2018 through 1.3.2019

 

I own 1 of these items. I watched 5 items in the cinema/on Netflix/Amazon/ HBO/YouTube/Vimeo. I listened to 2 podcasts. Libraries outside of Baltimore County, via Inter-Library Loan, supplied 1 item.

{Women}

 

Not reading books of poetry since 12.2.2018

Pause in reading any books, 12.28.18 — 1.3.2019

++

 

Data Visualization by First Nations’ peoples:

  1. Cartographic Encounters: Perspectives on Native American Mapmaking and Map Use, edited by G. Malcolm Lewis

 

 

SFF:

  1. Children of Earth and Sky by Guy Gavriel Kay

 

 

Television:

  1. Blue Planet II, produced by Mark Brownlow; episodes 1 & 2
  2. The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, created by Amy Sherman-Palladino; season 2 {rewatched, with subtitles}

 

 

Podcasts:

  1. Han and Matt Know It All’s Best & Worst Advice Column Humans of 2018, featuring Ask a Manager and Captain Awkward {71 minutes}
  2. LaineyGossip’s SYW: The Work of Wakanda, with special guest Kathleen Newman-Bremang | Glen Mazzara’s Variety interview | Bob Costas’s pink eye at Sochi {94 minutes}

 

 

Films:

  1. Ellen DeGeneres | Relatable, directed by Joel Gallen and Tig Notaro
  2. The Man Who Invented Christmas, directed by Bharat Nalluri
  3. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse*, directed by Bob Persichetti, Peter Ramsey, and Rodney Rothman

+

 

* I expected this movie to be fun, but it was waaaaaay more fun: I laughed, a lot! I cried, a lot! I cheered, a lot!!      Also, I never expected to see a superhero movie with pretty colors, and a pleasing color palette, but this one has both!!!

**Unfortunately, the flashing lights and super-cool effects maaaaaay be why I got a migraine that’s lasted for 2 days so far. Perhaps I will not go see the movie again.

 

+++

Creative Year in Review ~ 2018

December 31, 2018

Theme: nimble ~ brief ~ pizzazzy

 

Congruent with my overall low energy, interspersed with bursts of intense activity ~ my ideas incubate, I now realize, for several years before I germinate how to implement them:

  • 2010, began listening to Spanish-language radio in the car; 2013, I (slowly) puzzled through tweets in Spanish; 2015, composed my 1st fully-bilingual poem {cento of Vicente Huidobro}; 2016, 1st entry to A***********a to be solely in its originating language, Spanish, because I found the published English translation inadequate; 2018, reading short poetry, as well as IG captions, in Spanish.
  • {{See ~ Environmental / Mixed Media}}
  • 2015: Dissatisfied with system for numbering my poems. 2018: Realizing I need ~ a master list of poems; to designate various categories of poems, integrated into their metadata?; I can utilize similar methods of displaying metadata for both my own poems and A***********a.
  • Late 2015: I deleted my blogs’ About Me pages. October 2018, Spouse photographed me in the woods, but it was 6 more weeks before I began writing new text. (Will post in 2019.)
  • 2016? Began 13-hue color wheel on studio walls; 2018, still in progress.
  • Metadata entered my poems in late 2016. Chapbook organizing class {Sandra Beasley at TWC} in early 2017. Summer 2018, a poem with extensive metadata. After learning about Library of Congress cataloging, realized I want Metadata to be an integral element of my poetry.

 

Poetry

  • Started 11 poems; finished 4.
  • Time working on most complicated efforts dramatically increased: 2+ months for bbmmpmnav poem; 2+ months for wvhosdvkyrppl poem; 4+ months for uklgpnwanishomegrslks poem.
  • I leveled up in degree of difficulty: complex interweaving of widely-disparate elements; unusual structural modules; more metadata, integrated better. Not just juxtaposing, but learning to ‘hear’ what connections I can show that on the page.

 

  • I sought out the work of poets of the Pacific Northwest, for a poem. I sought out poets of Kentucky, to understand where Spouse is from better.

 

  • Anishinaabemowin, a First Nations language from the Great Lakes region, which has had a presence in my life since 2007, is reshaping parts of my poetic practice.

 

 

Metadata

  • Summer: began indexing volumes of MFP, now renamed as A***********a. Currently in #5.

 

River time

  • Instances = 20, in all 12 months.
  • 1.19, 2.16, 3.9, 4.13, 4.26, 5.15, 5.31, 6.22, 7.2, 7.18, 8.1, 8.17, 8.31, 9.10, 9.19, 9.25, 10.23, 11.21, 12.12, 12.21.

 

Photography

  • Photographing makes me a better observer, and helps me feel connected with my surroundings, so I do it almost every day — approximately 4,000 photos, red camera combined with camera phone.
  • March: (solo) session with art model. {Details of session(s) with art models.}

 

Household habitat {previously Potager}

  • I can see catalpa-friend and sycamore-friend from our kitchen window. I wave during daylight hours when I’m making coffee or tea. I visit during nice weather. Photos of friends!
  • I didn’t realize t-o-m-a-t-o could’ve been kept indoors, as a perennial, until after it was too late.
  • Snake plant, now named Slyvori, is thriving. (Watering every 3 days suffices.)
  • Have seen tiny soil organisms in the dirt of the windowboxes.

 

Environmental / Mixed Media

  • CYiR 2014, I imagined “creating a ‘tree’ sculpture from metal, bamboo, and glass bottles”. 2016: I added tree branches to my studio, and affixed them to the bed frame in the bedroom. 2017: In studio, I arranged tree branches in vases, mugs, so they activated negative space in their surrounding 3 dimensions. I also added a 5′ branch to my writing nook, left of my standing desk.
  • By 2018, it seemed possible to integrate the balcony garden (where I’ve often written) with the writing nook and studio, via tree branches. They are not quite stand-ins for live trees; in some ways, they’re better. They’re already dead, so I don’t have to keep them alive [not my strong suit, I’ll admit], but also, they can be oriented any which way — not just vertically.      So this year, I affixed tree branches to the balcony’s metal railings — mostly horizontally. I also have tree branches gathered vertically in one corner; tree branches arranged artfully (like the ones in the studio) in containers of dirt. An 8′ maple branch still has a few brown leaves on it.
  • I added small branches of (dried) cut flowers at nodes along the maple’s length, hanging vertically, so they would move in the wind.
  • I admire aspects of large-scale 1970s Land Art, and the site-specific works of British sculptor and photographer, Andy Goldsworthy, and American architect and sculptor, Maya Lin, but I often haven’t liked the disruption those works cause the sites’ nonhuman inhabitants.      My ‘installations’, however, mimic natural arrangements; can be easily adjusted, altered, changed (and eventually, removed); and have, in fact, encouraged some new wildlife to populate our balcony garden: Spiders! All sizes.         Photos!
  • An orb weaver (spider) lived and worked in a corner of our balcony, near the horizontal maple and vertical birch affixed branches, for several summer months! More photos!

 

Travel: none.

  • September: Planned trip to the Smokies, cancelled.

 

Human—social

  • January: I broke up with my 2nd LWA penpal;
  • November: I broke up with my 1st LWA penpal.
  • December: LibraryThing’s Holiday Card Exchange ~ 5 mailed, to AR, CA, NY, WI, and BC; 1 received, from NJ. (1 received was evangelical Christian/hectoring, so, ugh.)       [[1.7.19: Received 2 more cards, from CA and NY. No metadata, or mention of what connects us. | 1.18.19: Received 1 more card, handmade, from WA; it does mention shared authors!]]

 

  • May: A strong intuition that a family funeral was imminent => I now have 2 or 3 possible outfits to wear. [I expected my ailing late-70s MIL, but it was actually my own aunt who died, too young, at 69.] My condolence letter to my uncle incorporated mail art and vintage stamps.
  • August: Proposed visit from OK to MD ~ cancelled.
  • December: Unable to coordinate visit with Spouse’s cousin’s family.
  • December: Accompanied Spouse to see his parents, after his dad suffered an alarming double mishap. 11-hour drives are not fun, plus I know I’ll feel multiple physical discomforts once we arrive, which is why I generally let Spouse go alone. But I was quite worried about his dad, so I made the trek.                And… FIL and I bonded.           Spouse also took me to see a (spectacular) 300 year old tree, and a favorite independent bookstore.      So even though (2 days at home) I haven’t completely recovered, I’m very glad I went.

 

  • Being an Extrovert with nonhumans, while, often, an Introvert with humans… perhaps this is ideal for a =vallo=?   When happy and relaxed, I can enthuse all I like, paying no social cost; when tense or unsure, I can stay quiet and observe.
  • 5 Love Languages book ~ Me: Quality Time & Words of Affirmation tied for #1; Touch is #2; both Gifts and Acts of Service are way, way, at the bottom. Spouse is actually quite similar (I was surprised): his tied-for-#1 are Quality Time & Touch; he also doesn’t care about Gifts or Acts of Service.               Unfortunately, for him Words of Affirmation are down at the bottom.       On the plus side, when he does offer affirming, encouraging words, they’re insightful and heartwarming, and I treasure all of them.

 

Food:

  • Coffee: now at ¼ strength (tisane?); spices: black pepper, clove, cardamom.

 

Health

  • For the first time since I started keeping track (~8 years), I did not get seasonally depressed in January/February/March! Possible contributing factors: river-witching in all weathers; warm woolly sweaters in mood-lifting colors; reserving a jar of local farmstand honey to open and use mid-winter; accommodating my [non24hour] sleep schedule. Also, more sunlight?
  • “Standing & Walking” ~ (12.30.18) 1365.9 hours total! Range: 0.6 to 8.2 hours per day; daily average, 3.75 hours.
  • Dictation software abruptly stopped working over the summer. Beginning in September, I’ve been aiming for 2 “Hands Free (HF)” days per week, where I minimize using my hands for repetitive activities. It’s quite difficult; also, I forget to do it, and (when I do remember) it’s boring & frustrating. Easier to achieve via ½ HF days.
    • Monthly numbers should be >= 8-10 HF days
    • Sep: 5.5 (8) / Oct: 9 (13) / Nov: 4 (6) / Dec: 5.5 (10)
  • B: 12 (38), 13.57; P: 3 (3)

 

 

Epistolary

  • I sent 27 letters, and received 17 letters.

 

 

Reading

  • Read 319 books all the way through. {2010–2018 ~ 2,673 books, averaging 297 per year.}
  • Read (at least) 40 books part of the way.
  • 2 periods of not reading any books for at least 8 days, plus 1 period of not reading poetry books for 29 days.

 

 

Writing

  • Wrote 18,509 words in 29 blog posts (including this one). Following the pattern of decline over the last 3 years, this year’s number of posts decreased, although it reached 93.5% of last year’s; the 2018 word count approximates 74% of 2017’s.
  • {10.19.09–12.31.18 inclusive, I wrote 612,267 words in 790 blog posts.}

 

+++

Dream fragments: 12.31.18

December 31, 2018

1.

I’m at a large social gathering with dignitaries in attendance. Maybe in Washington DC? There’s a mix of races and ethnicities, and many people are wearing beautiful clothing reflecting their heritages.

{The part I recall clearest} I stride up to an African woman wearing a turban and a spectacular outfit, put out my hand and say, in a friendly way, “Hello, I’m Mea!”      But I’ve been doing similar things the whole time. I’m vaguely aware that my father is behind me somewhere, and if he’s paying attention to me, he’s probably pretty surprised. When he knew me, I wasn’t an extrovert, nor was I this level of socially assured.

 

2.

I’m in a multi-storied library, looking over a balcony into the sunlit atrium. Maybe there are potted plants on the ground floor, but what catches my attention is white metal sculptures suspended about 4 feet below me. And then, their occupant — a mountain lion! Tawny above, white below. It’s moving around a lot, so I can see different parts of its body. I’m captivated and delighted. I’m torn between wanting to get my good camera out to take some cool photos, and leaving the area immediately because mountain lions are dangerous, and this one could attack me.

+++

NOTES:

1.

My waking life father, when I knew him, was quite comfortable amongst other white men, but I rarely (never?) saw him in settings as mixed as this dream scenario.

It’s curious that I had no sense of being in attendance in an official capacity because if so, wouldn’t I (naturally) be fairly reticent? I mean, why would these important people care what my name is? And yet, none of that type of social anxiety was in my mind at all.                         I was happy to be there, friendly, relaxed, curious, eager to engage.

I was in my element, and in the moment. And I knew it.

In waking life, that’s been extremely rare. Maybe 2019 will change that.

 

2.

Mountain lions always signify.

This dream contained: library/archive; open & airy space; metal mobile-like sculptures {Calderesque}; kinesthetic movement; a sacred animal; my heightened awareness.

Maybe pondering questions raised by this dream makes more sense than trying to ‘solve’ it.

It does feel hopeful, anticipatory, *aware*.

+++

Dream: 12.30.18

December 30, 2018

I’m in a research library attached to a particular school. I’ve been coming here most days, for months now. All the regulars have their places at a long table, and keep books and other items under the table grouped near their feet. I’ve become a regular, just by returning so often, so I have a place too: at the far left end, lower corner.

The other regulars, though, are officially scholars — some are undergraduates in a special research program, some are graduate students, some are postdocs, some are professors and visiting scholars.

I’m none of those.

I’m an undergraduate in a completely different school — that doesn’t have a research program at all, never mind at this library — and I’m flunking my real classes because I’d rather be here every day.

I’d rather be learning any and all cool stuff I’ve stumbled across and realized I was intrigued by, rather than learning only what falls into a narrow tube that some authority figure has decided is important for me to know.

So I’m aware an external clock is ticking: when will authorities in my program realize they should expel me? When will the research library be notified, so my access can be revoked?

Will I be publicly denounced as an impostor?

So, I had been checking out a big stack of unwieldly books (which required a staff person to sign out individually in a large book), but now I’m unobtrusively slipping them back onto carts where they’ll eventually be found and processed as returned.

I don’t want to leave here at all (never mind in disgrace). This is where my Real Work is.

Unlike everyone else here, however, I have zero credentials bolstering that fact. I have no one to vouch for my probity or fine scholarship. I’m just one person, who has found a congenial niche, and I’m utilizing it effectively — but also enjoyably — while I may.

+

This particular day, it’s spring, and a beautiful enough day outside that some people are looking out the (large) windows, onto the streets below, with people scurrying by, trees flowering, big clouds in the sky, and deciding they should actually leave for home around 5 p.m. Catch that “early” train, so they can enjoy the weather when they’re at leisure.

I’d like doing that, too, but maybe today is my last day here. So, instead, I should clear up my space as best as I can, minimizing the work for whomever notices I won’t be returning.

Instead of waiting to be denounced, maybe I just leave one fine afternoon, and never come back.

Will anyone remember I was ever there, after? I don’t know. Will anyone miss me? Probably not. I was part of no clique no cohort. I shared no classes, no papers, nor commiserations about teachers.

All that kept me part of the table group was… proximity, attendance, and shared love of learning.

But I’ve made no friends, have no mentors or true colleagues.

+

I realize that if I had a teacher or other professional staff person intercede with the administration for me, maybe a way could be threaded for me out of this tangle: maybe I could be transferred into a better program — something interdisciplinary would be best, something self-directed and open-ended. An individualized major.

Even if the university would allow that, though, it wouldn’t be for someone like me, who is already failing out.

I would need a powerful ally indeed.

And yet… I’ve been putting out friendly overtures fairly consistently, but no one ever seems interested. If I try now to find an advocate, (a) I’ll probably fail at it too, (b) if I somehow gained one, wouldn’t they feel used when they discovered I actually needed their advocacy?

I don’t know how to present myself to others so that I seem appealing and congenial as I am.

+

I just want to do my Work. In this pleasant and cozy library, where I’ve created a space for myself at the table, I just want to explore, and be surprised and delighted, and learn.

+++

NOTES:

This dream could easily be a metaphor for my entire life.

But I think it’s partly also a metaphor for this past week.       (Not the potentially being denounced as an impostor parts.)                   I can do things, in the moment, that are Right, Helpful, Needful things.                       I can’t tell anyone how I knew what to do, but I can do it. I did do it.

Spouse told me he can’t do those things (or, perhaps, the other person won’t allow Spouse to be the giver). Without me there, Necessary Things just don’t occur.

+

Considering how many hundreds, thousands, of visits I’ve made to libraries in my life, it’s kind of odd I don’t dream about them more often.

Long years ago, during my first undergrad experience, I discovered a very old bilingual dictionary that I pored over in wonder, in lieu of my “real” assignments. I was, indeed, flunking all my classes because I’d rather be at the library.    7 years later, that time, remembered, became the foundation for composing my new surname. Which I still have.    I earned no degree from the school, but I gained much better prizes: self-awareness, discovery, a name, a different connection to my heritage.

+

I’ve recently realized that… I don’t need credentials to be a scholar. If I do the work, I am a scholar. (Like how being a writer means you’re someone who writes.)

In some lights, it might be more impressive to have made such strides into scholarship while having no assignments, teachers, cohort of students, administrators; no mentors. Most importantly, perhaps, for a poet, no friendships within one’s cohort and amongst mentors — that’s where the recognition, prizes, residencies, all that grow out of.     So those things are out of reach for me.

But I can still do the Work.

To have access to the Enoch Pratt Free Library in Baltimore City — an excellent source of scholarly works, some of great age — all I require is (apparently) Maryland residency, and a public library card.

I’m tech savvy enough to have learned more about Marina (Maryland’s online inter-library loan system) than most of the librarians at my local BCPL branch.

I keep 2 sets of records of what I’ve read {w’y, LT}.

I datamine my own metadata to further my understanding of my own work. And also to discover new avenues of inquiry.

I occasionally write to poets whose writings I’ve read.          (Most times, they’ve responded.)

I continue to read biographies and memoirs of creative people in various fields. I’m currently reading a biography of the life and works of German painter Paula Modersohn-Becker.

Don’t I have what I need? Amn’t I doing my Work?