TWIR: Life as a restless manner of being

Here is a modern tragedy: My hold on Carry On came in at the library this week, so I had to pick it up. But I’m out of town for the next few days, and this book, while not heavy, is THICK. No way I was making room for that. So I have to wait until next week to start it.

My Kindle will always have my back, at least.

Dune is a good book, did you know that? What a surprise! No, really. For some reason I had been put off by it for years, despite it being a book my mom loved (along with many, many other people). But over the holidays I picked it up and suddenly the first page appealed to me. If I were a more morally sound and upstanding person, I would be writing an essay about it. Including some thoughts about the women in it, because while I appreciated that there were significant roles for a few women, I have some unease about how that was executed in the larger story, and the implications of it.

I may have more thinking to do.

In other news, I listened to Modern Romance last week, but only reviewed it this morning:

Modern RomanceModern Romance by Aziz Ansari

My rating:💛💛💛💛 (4/5 heart emojis)

You know what’s great? Having a big ol’ Photoshop project, needing an audiobook to listen to, and something on your “It’d be amazing to listen to this rather than read it, because I know it’s read by someone good” list is immediately available at the library. Thank you, Library Deities. (read full review)

Short things

some other animal’s meat


Look, this is a new Emily Carroll. For some people you already went back up and clicked the link, in some feverish state of excitement. For some of you, I should say: Emily Carroll makes carefully drawn comics of a subtle and effective horror. Over the years I’ve been following her, her work has shifted from dreamlike, fairy tale horror, into horror weighted with a more modern reality, with living, with the discomforts and unease of life. And dreams and fairy tales.

My Father, the Church, And Why I Left — I always like Mindy’s writing. I’m terribly jealous of her ability to write about her life. In some ways I could relate to this essay (growing up in a church and leaving in gradual way) and in some ways our experiences are completely different (obviously! Hi, I grew up as mostly white in the Midwest where every church had a place for someone like me, using my language, focusing on one denomination). What makes this essay great is not church, but family.

But the story of my relationship to Christianity is also the story of my relationship with my dad. Growing up, we were close. We were both sloppy to the great annoyance of my mother. We were handy with languages and musically inclined. And my dad was the one who would listen to my doubts.

Why life is not a thing but a restless manner of being — On the origin of life, and alternate ways of looking at what life is, which I really enjoyed.

In that sense, life isn’t a thing so much as a manner of being, a restless fit of destruction and creation. If it can be defined at all, it is this: life is a self-sustaining, highly organised flux, a natural way that matter and energy express themselves under certain conditions.

TWIR: Tomatoes are delicious

I feel like I haven’t read much lately. I’ve been working on a project that I’m terribly excited about, so I let it eat up some time that would have otherwise been spent reading.

Also, I spent some time this week watching movies, which is not typical of me. And listening to music, which is. I had to do a lot of both of those, though. Because David Bowie means a lot to me. I wish I could put it into words, but I haven’t found a way. Others have said a lot, and it’s very good, and true, about discovering a place to be an outsider, and about making art, making it forcefully and daringly, being willing to change, and being kind, especially after you’ve found success. I’m sad and also not. I don’t know. I’m left with a lot of wandering thoughts.

Anyway, reading.

I started to read Waking the Moon by Elizabeth Hand early this week, because I was looking for books about schools of magic that weren’t vaguely medieval, but every character is so unbearable, so insufferably posed and styled and stiff, that I don’t think I can do it. I had such strange hopes for this book, but there’s only so many times I can plod through a description of another mid-nineties college-goth outfit. I’ll give it one more try before the library loan expires.

For some reason I dropped Dune for a while after I got back to Boston. I’m back into it. It’s still good, you guys.

Short things

On Jerks at the Casual Optimist, an excerpt from the book Measure Yourself Against the Earth. My favorite bit: “Regret may be rare and hard to come by, but the general sense that jerkiness is associated with perceived and maybe temporary superiority, rather than with entrenched entitlement, offers at least the chance of asking oneself: Hey, was I being a jerk?”

Spanish Lessons: On Language Loss and Recovery at The Toast. I have a lot of feelings about this. About not knowing the language of your grandparents, and feeling not [heritage] enough. The effects of assimilation echo far down the line. Down here on my end, you try to make your own way, to muddle your way back to that heritage, if you can. But you can’t. There’s a feeling of things lost, things missing, things not had because of whatever circumstances. I’m actually jealous of the writer of that article, because of how much more she had than me. She had Puerto Rico. She’s more real than I am. As though my life is fake, somehow, because it was so dominated by whiteness. All my life, every time there’s a demographic question about race and ethnicity, I pause. Every time, I pause, and I ask myself “Is it lying to mark Hispanic?”

Then I mark it.

The Tomato Thief by Ursula Vernon (Apex) – This is set in the same world as The Jackalope Wives, and I’m so glad. I’m also so glad for this worshipful tone about tomatoes. Just this week I was talking with some friends about how much I love tomatoes, and how that’s the thing I miss about Texas. A good, juicy tomato, sliced onto bread and devoured on a too-warm night. Eating cherry tomatoes straight off the vine. Anyway, The Tomato Thief is a bit of a longer story at 14,000 words, but it’s delicious, with magic and earth and desert.