This could be a socially distanced event

 (Yes, I've been looking through the blog archives - update on that later).

Back in 2004 I mentioned that literature used to be an Olympic event.  With all the COVD variants and legitimate fears of large gatherings, etc.. why the IOC is still holding the games is beyond me (ok, I get the money thing... capitalism ├╝ber alles, I guess).  But isn't this the perfect time to explore new competitions, ones that allow for true amateurs and socially distanced partipation?


I'm nothing if not consistent

Back in October 2004, I answered the following questions.  Let's see what's changed?

#1: Name three of your...

1. Pet Peeves: incompetence, ignorance, not having enough time to read

2. Favorite Sounds: purring, pages turning, purring

3. Favorite Flavors of Candy: chocolate, peppermint

4. Biggest Fears: heights, dying alone, not having cats in my life

5. Biggest Challenges: eating properly, making small talk with strangers (or mere acquaintances), getting time to read

6. Favorite Department Stores: Saks, I hate shopping, especially in department stores, but if I did have one it was Almys (now defunct), Kaufmans 

7. Most Used Words: clearly, problematic, "not so much", "what's the word?"

8. Favorite Pizza Toppings: cheese, mushrooms, garlic

9. Favorite Cartoon Characters: Fisher, the dog in Drabble, Violet from Peanuts

10. Movies Recently Watched: Paycheck, Secret Window, Collateral  The Wife, Stan & Ollie, Knives Out

11. Favorite Fruits: apples, peaches, pomegranate, grapes

12. Favorite Vegetables: green peppers, cucumbers, carrots


1. What is your favorite word? Book

2. What is your least favorite word? Anything to do with bad weather (eg, sleet, snow, blizzard, nor'easter)

3. What turns you on? Intelligence and wit

4. What turns you off? Incompetence

5. What sound or noise do you love? Purring

6. What sound or noise do you hate? Doors slamming

7. What is your favorite curse word? The "O" word (O'F*ck) ties with F*cksh*td*mnh*ll

8. What profession other than yours would you like to attempt? Fiction writer

9. What profession other than yours would absolutely not like to attempt? Athelete

10. If heaven exists, what would you like to hear god say when you arrive at the gates? The bookstore library is that way, everything's there and it's all free to take.


You don't need a weatherman...

 ... if you have my father and one of my colleagues.

My father lives in Central New York, in an area known as the Mohawk Valley, also known as the Snow Belt.  Don't believe me?  Essentially, much of his weather comes from the West, travels through the Mohawk Valley, and then keeps heading east where it eventually meets up with the Atlantic Ocean. 

Then there's my colleague, who lives about 10mi south of MPOW.  If we get a rain shower, she's getting a nor'easter.  If we get a dusting of snow, she's digging out from a blizzard.  Now, what's interesting about this is that no one else at MPOW who lives in the same town has that weather pattern, but who am I to argue?

When I get weather, like today's humid rain, my father will say something about where he is and if they are not getting the same rain (or if they didn't get it yesterday) he'll go on for quite some time asking where it could possibly have come from.  My colleague?  She'll be shocked that I'm not getting out the scuba gear to go to the store (I think she's kidding... right?).  

Forget what NOAA says.  Forget the battle between Weather.com and Accuweather, or the American vs European model.  I've got Dad and a colleague!


Not sure what to do with this

 As a young girl, I had some problems with corporate Judaism, in addition to not finding the rituals meaningful.  Later I became a convinced Quaker.  But being a Jew isn't just about the religion part: it's a cultural thing, and some people even consider it a race/ethnicity.  So, to paraphrase, you can take the girl out of Judaism but you can't take the Jewishness out of the girl.  

I've had anti-Semitic incidents in my life, sometimes microaggressions and sometimes flat out aggressions.  There have been times I haven't been comfortable travelling in case someone found out that I was, in fact, a Jew (there was a time, in the 70s, when my mother—one of the most honest people ever—told me to lie if I was ever asked).  And I've watched the rise in anti-Semitic feeling.  Charlottesville's "Jews will not replace us", for example, made me cringe.  

MPOW is, like many schools, doing a lot in the anti-racist arena, stressing DEIJ training and allyship.  But Jews aren't included.  And yet...


It's one of the things that drove me away from the religion in the first place (as Alan King said, every holiday can be summarized as "They tried to kill us, they failed, let's eat.").  Constantly feeling as though I, and my family and friends, are under attack is tiring.  There is, according to my father, great joy to be found in the community—he grew up one step removed from the All-of-a-Kind Family's Lower East Side experience.

I worry that this generation is getting the wrong message, that we should hide who we are so the crowd with 6MWNE t-shirts doesn't come after us.  That we need security around our places of worship.  And that anti-Semitism is defining what it means to be a Jew.  

(and when I think about blacks and Jews, this quote always pops into my mind)


Still annoying

Once all meetings at MPOW started to take place over Zoom, it became easier to hide that we were "not quite paying attention".  Couple that with far too many annoying phrases and, well, you've got the perfect opportunity for a BINGO game.  

It's bad enough that these phrases are still overused, these have invaded virtually every meeting:

  • "I just want to name" (no, you want to acknowledge or identify)
  • "Using the lens of" (it's just as easy to pay attention to or having a perspective)
  • "Awesome" (not everything is awesome, right?)
There are others, but I've lost my BINGO card.  Oh well. 


Probably politically incorrect

When I was in college Villette was an assigned text in one class. There was a passage that to me was an example of the deep, romantic friendships so common at that time, but to the rest of the class it was a lesbian relationship that was being referenced.  We never did resolve that, but it's something I've thought about over the years, which is probably why this thread caught my attention:

Reading the comments shows that people really disagree with his theory, claiming he's homophobic, etc.. I don't know him or his views on homosexuality but in this case I think he's on to something.  And it leads to another thought I've been having, that of gender identity.  

Over the past 20 years several students (an increasing number) have identified as gender fluid or nonbinary, and some have even transitioned from one gender to another.  Now, I know that there are many who really do feel trapped in the wrong body and I can't imagine the pain they have until they can emerge as the person they're supposed to be.  That's not what I'm talking about here.  What I am talking about are those who feel as though they don't fit in to one gender or the other.

There's this article that cites a study showing that [m]ore than 1 million nonbinary adults live in the U.S. I wonder if some of that is due to how strictly we've defined gender and gender roles (from the must-be-stopped Gender Reveal Party to gendered clothing and toys to, well, you get the picture).  My mother was a tomboy, much to her mother's dismay (my grandmother wanted my 12-13 year old mother to wear lipstick!).  Today, would she have identified as gender fluid in her childhood/teens? 

Would the nonbinary/gender fluid feel more comfortable if it was acceptable for anyone to wear a dress or skirt (just as it took a while for it to be acceptable for women to wear pants)?  What makes it such a problem if a male is emotional or artistic?  If the behaviors and clothing we've been socialized to associate with one or the other gender were simply behavior and clothing, would that really be such a horrible thing?  All this isn't to suggest that I want to get rid of the "nonbinary" label, but a question about what is causing all the discomfort and wanting to make things easier for my students (and colleagues) to navigate their lives.



 My apartment is on the third floor, and there are no terraces close by on my level.  So why am I smelling someone's heavy perfume? (You know, the kind that gives you a headache it's so strong)  Is it someone on the ground?  The only other option is the people above or below our apartment.  Excuse me while I get some Motrin.

ETA: It was someone's laundry, venting their scented detergent or softener.  Ugh.

Notable Quotes

It was a little curious to be hurrying to the tea shop, because drinking tea is usually the opposite of hurrying.  Tea is difficult to drink quickly, because it is hot and needs time to steep, and so a cup of tea forces you to slow down and think as you wait for it to cool and become more flavorful.  I was hurrying to get somewhere I usually slowed down.  

Poison for Breakfast, Lemony Snickett

Their hearts can't take it

The past week has been difficult for The Herd, with peak difficulty last night.  As most pet owners know, cats do not like fireworks. It was bad enough that there was an Official Show on Saturday, with the sound easily travelling across the water from the barge to our apartment.  But the UNofficial shows?  So much worse.

Two people launched them from right in front of our building.  Several people have been setting them off about a block away.  There was another show a five minute walk from here (I think, based on where they seemed to be coming from).  Luckily, it all got quiet around 11pm.  Whew.  Time to sleep and relax, right?

Nope.  2:30am there was another show, across the Harbor.  I saw the fireworks and then four seconds later there was the boom.  My Big Girl had just cuddled with me and we were dozing when, well... she did that levitating and moving forward thing that you'd swear was only in animated comics but no, cats do it in real life.  

Ok.  It's morning. We're safe, right?  And here comes the garbage truck.  And The Herd once again goes into panic mode.  

It's going to be a long day, I can just tell.


I see you... I am here

That was our first exercize during Circle Training, merely turning to the person next to us and saying, "I see you", to which they'd respond, "I am here" and then we'd reverse the phrase.  

I knew almost everyone participating (there was one LS teacher, new this past year, so no surprise I didn't know her!) but I knew one best.  I had ranted about a DNF'd book to her, and somehow we got on to the topic of "books set in college", something she thinks is no longer a thing.  I mentioned Gaudy Night and her response was that Harriet has returned to college, not attends.  I conceded the point, and pointed out that it has one of the best love scenes ever.  She agreed.

She sees me.  I am here.


Notes from Mt. Bookpile

Lots of reading, mostly ebooks.  I keep setting a goal ("read xx number of ebooks and then switch to print") but, well.... it's not really working.  This summer goal for reading?  Do a one-one read.  There's nothing wrong with ebooks, it's just print feels so good in my hands! 


Middle Grade/Young Adult Fiction
Middle Grade/Young Adult Horror
Middle Grade/Young Adult Mystery
Middle Grade/Young Adult Speculative Fiction
Middle Grade/Young Adult Suspense
Speculative Fiction