Our trip was relaxing. Not much to report there. We had a lot of "porch time" with my folks. The only excursion we did was to a nearby prairie park. My mom had wanted to see prairie smoke in the wild and we happened to catch a bunch of it in bloom.
Our trip was relaxing. Not much to report there. We had a lot of "porch time" with my folks. The only excursion we did was to a nearby prairie park. My mom had wanted to see prairie smoke in the wild and we happened to catch a bunch of it in bloom.
When I posted it to Facebook, a friend of mine came on and poked at the open wound that is my relationship to the ending of Bleach. She didn't do so intentionally, she just casually mentioned that she was find with Renji ending up with Rukia at the end because, for her, "it felt right." I don't even necessarily disagree, but in going back and forth with her, I realized that I might have been a lot better with that particular pairing (which absolutely had a foundation in canon, at least on Renji's part,) IF ANY queer couples had survived in tact. ( Read more... )
So, yeah, I might be less bitter about RenRuki--which I have always supported, even in my super gay fan fic--(I always make Renji bi), if the other queer characters in Bleach had not been so poorly treated.
But no one cares about that, but me.
In other, non-fannish news, Mason is expected home late tonight. I'm looking forward to hearing all the stories of Anaheim. I did find out that their team did NOT place at the competition, but Mason had not expected them to, so he didn't seem the least bit disappointed. In fact, he kept say, "It was so much fun!" I'm super-glad that we have somehow instilled in him this attitude. It will serve him well all his life, IMHO.
We're packing to head off to LaCrosse tomorrow early. Poor Mason will land sometime around midnight and then be bundled into a car around 7 or 8 am the next morning (or same morning, if it's after midnight, eh?) But, as I told him, he can sleep in the car.
It's nice enough out that I mowed. I have to say that--knock on wood--the yard is looking half-decent this year. Now I just have to keep it up, which is always the struggle, isn't it?
Yet, I'm feeling grouchy. We woke up late today because we don't have to get Mason to school (which not only made me miss him, but I kind of hate starting my day later than intended,) AND Shawn woke up with a migraine. I only managed to consume a single cup of home brewed coffee on the way out the door. I would have bought myself a decent latte, but we're out of money. My cat, Buttercup, hissed at me when I picked him up after he escaped outside. And I think I overheard that the woman who owns the laundromat I frequent voted for that dick, 45. And, if the federal budget passes, the economy will tank. Shawn, meanwhile, got news of the state budget and things look grim over at the Minnesota Historical Society, too.
I want to write or read or play in my garden, but at some point I need to go over to see Nate at the nursing home... and that's just depressing on so many levels, it's not even funny. (Well, I mean, of course it's not funny, but... see, EVEN CLICHED EXPRESSIONS SUCK.)
I really think what is needed is a fresh pot of coffee. I tried re-heating some of what was left over from this morning and it's beyond gross. Maybe once I do that I'll be able to enjoy this amazingly perfect weather.
I finished COMPANY TOWN by Madeline Ashby, which I liked a lot all the way to the last... oh, I dunno 50 pages or so? The action took a sudden uptick and the narrative got kind of... sketchy? Sloppy? It felt like it was missing critical bits of connective tissue. We'd jump from one scene still reeling from the events there, and be knee deep in another before really having a sense of resolution from the first moment, you know? Then, when it looks like everyone has sacrificed for the greater good, there's a plot twist that hinges on--and I'm not making this up!!--magical sex. (Not literal magic, but, like, 'whoops' we forgot the condoms so now I have your nano-bot superpower, too, just in time to save my life!)
All that being said, I liked the first part of the book a lot. Our main character Hwa, (Go Jung-Hwa) is a bodyguard for the United Sex Workers of Canada on one of the last remaining oil rigs/floating towns. The company town is being bought out by a new owner who is going to shift the industry to nuclear power. Hwa has Sturge-Weber Syndrome and, so, unlike most people, she's completely un-augmented. After a chance encounter, she ends up working for the new owners of the town. I think the thing I found compelling in the first part of the novel was the tension between Hwa and her new world. She's poor; the new owners, her bosses, the Lynch family, are über-rich. They're so augmented they're nearly cyborgs; Hwa is flesh and bone, and flawed, at that. That made for some compelling scenes/tension, IMHO. Plus, Hwa is badass.
I'm half-way through WAYPOINT KANGAROO by Curtis C. Chen, and enjoying it so far. The novel follows Kangaroo, a interstellar spy, who has a secret superpower: the ability to open up his own, private pocket universe. What I'm enjoying about Kangaroo so far is that he's kind of an anti-Bond (he keeps screwing up, is awkward with the ladies), while still having all of the fun parts of a James Bond-type character (speeder chases, Sherlock-level people/observation skills). Plus, what's not to love about James Bond in space? I also love the the pseudo-plot point, which is that Kangaroo has been sent on "vacation" to keep him out of the way while the spy department is audited, and Kangaroo SUCKS at taking it easy. (I say pseudo-plot, because it's clear that Kangaroo has stumbled into a much bigger plot.)
It's not hard to imagine that James Bond would, in fact, be terrible with downtime. And you hardly ever see that sort of thing in movies--high-adrenaline people having to deal with the fact that life is not all car chases and shoot 'em ups, so it's nice to see it explored in a novel. In that way, WAYPOINT KANGAROO almost feels like fan fiction. Fan fiction does this sort of thing a lot, i.e. asks the reader to imagine what happens when super spies have no urgent problem to solve? What happens during the downtime? Can a character like James Bond ever relax? Who is the spy when s/he is not wearing the 'persona,' the 'legend'?
So, I can't vouch for the ending of this one, but half-way through it's still quite engaging. Of course, I would have said that about COMPANY TOWN, too.
Things on my TBR pile still:
The St. Paul Public library finally coughed up volume 1 of Monthly Girl's, Nozaki-kun by Izumi Tsubaki. I started reading that, actually, but am finding the format (a series of self-contained, 4-panel shorts/one-shots) a little hard to adjust to, when I'm used to the more traditional storytelling of a manga. Luckily, I'm familiar with the anime, so I suspect when I get into it, I'll be able to rip through it pretty quickly. The art is lovely, actually, so that will help.
The other thing I picked up is the first three volumes of Behind the Scenes!! by Bisco Hatori. The story appears to follow the classic lost soul--Ranmaru Kuriso--who has spent his life apologizing for being in the way. He's drifting through his first semester of college, trying to keep his head down and away from people, when he finds himself in the way again. This time, he almost literally stumbles into the film club's shoot of a zombie horror movie. The loud, brash back stage crew adopt him. Wacky hijinks ensue. I expect that hapless Kuriso will also discover a secret superpower regarding prop construction or otherwise figure out that the back stage crew are "his tribe." Possibly there will be romance, as this manga is published by Shojo Beat.
Dear gods, do I actually have two shojo series right now? Yes, yes, I believe I do! How about them apples.
So, what are you reading?
If you want to read more about what is actually happening at the National competition: https://www.kidwindchallenge.org/p/17-
Mason will be back on Friday, and, until then, Shawn and I have the place to ourselves. I suspect we'll get up to all sorts of mischief, including maybe going hog wild and cleaning the house. Books will be read with abandon! We might even have DORITOS AND CHEESE FOR DINNER.
Yesterday, it was sunny, so I spent much of the day outside. I'm really proud of how my faux Japanese garden is looking this year, and I'm working very slowly on getting other parts of the yard in decent shape. (I should really take some pictures before the ENORMOUS bleeding heart stops blooming). I don't think we'll ever be a showcase garden, but it would be nice if I could look out and feel happy instead of thinking, "OMG what a mess." I definitely think we're well on our way to that. Especially since several bulbs showed up for stuff I don't remember ordering. I planted them in a couple of different places--a few near the little free library (which is my one remaining "problem" area) and a bunch in the front of the Japanese garden. I think they're going to be irises...? We'll have to see what blooms next year, if the squirrels don't eat them all and/or replant them for me.
I got a couple of letters from my international pen friends yesterday. I love all my pen friends, but I have a couple that I adore. My friend in Canada is AWESOME. Of course, I didn't get her from IPF. She's actually someone I know from Bleach fandom who volunteered last time I put out a request for pen pals. Her letters always make me happy.
The other letter came from an IPF friend from the Netherlands. I like this particular woman because in her very first letter back to me she talked about her daughter and her daughter's partner (female.) This meant that I felt free to be my honest/authentic self, which is something that I've been sloooooowly revealing to my other IPFers. I mean I had that one German lady quit me because I told her I wasn't Christian. Can you imagine if I'd said that I was a big ol' lesbian? Probably we could have heard her head exploding from across the ocean, eh? But, my Netherlander is great. She got me following the recent election there--another country that held tight against the rise of fascism. She always closes her letters with "Ah! That Trump of yours!" in various iterations.
A sign of our times.
The sale was much slower today, despite the fact that the weather was actually quite a bit nicer. I think this is a Saturday vs. Sunday thing. I know that when Shawn and I do rummaging we like to do it on Saturdays. Sundays, particularly rainy ones, are for being curled up on the couch with a good book.
We had a few humorous interactions with strangers who came to the sale. One was a set of grandparents who were entertaining the kids for the weekend, it sounded like. Apparently, after church they traditionally go rummaging and so this time brought the two (amazingly well behaved, if indecisive) kids along. They stopped at our sale specifically hunting for a "digger" for the young man. Apparently, at the previous sale the young lady had gotten a treat and now it was the young man's turn. He reminded me of Mason at that age, which I would guess to be about three. But, he was very articulate, though the hilarity ensued when grandma became very insistent that since our bucket was labeled "4 for a Quarter" the two kids had to chose four, and ONLY four, toys. We, alas, had no diggers, but there were plenty of trucks. The young fellow first wanted the dumper, then didn't, then grandma finally sort of picked something for him so they could get in the car, but then, hilariously, kept coming back and forth to the bin trying to appease the kid. It cracked me up. Finally the problem was solved by me explaining that, honestly, as long as it was okay with her, the kids could have all the trucks, no extra cost. I explained that what we didn't sell was going to GoodWill, anyway. She finally decided this was a good deal and took all three trucks.
The other was the two women (maybe a mother and daughter, but possibly just two good friends, with one slightly older than the other) who checked out all our board games and ended up buying almost twenty dollars worth of things (which at our sale is actually a LOT.) They were funny because they seemed seriously impressed that we "knew our merchandise." I wanted to know where they were shopping previously that people didn't really know what they were selling, but I think they were really surprised that we'd at least tried all our odd board games at least once. I think I liked them because they reminded me of who Shawn and I are when we're out sale-ing. We chat pleasantly between ourselves and the sellers and generally talk about all the merchandise.
One woman came by specifically looking for bookshelves (I hear ya, sister!) but left with another nice piece of furniture.
Then there was the big haul to GoodWill. Lisa and Shawn did most of the packing up, while I went and pulled up signs. By the time I came back with the car, they were mostly ready for me to jam everything into the trunk and backseat. We managed to haul it all in one load because Lisa filled up her minivan as well. I can't believe we finally got all that junk out of the house!
We only came back with a small bag of LEGOs for Mason and a stool for Shawn to try to use with the loom. She's got one now, of course, but since she hurt her back, she's been specifically looking for something that might offer a bit more back support. We're hoping that this one from Lisa will do the trick! Fingers crossed.
The last things I have to do before Mason leaves is get him some cash for food in Anaheim. Shawn is going to start packing his bag a bit tonight, but we're all so wiped out that she'll probably do the lion's share of it tomorrow. We've already done our bookstore run so that Mason will have new books to bring along for the trip. I hope that Mason remembers to take lots of pictures. Last time he did a big trip like this he actually took notes of things he wanted to remember to tell us about on his iPad. I hope he thinks to do that again.
We had our big rummage sale today. It was pretty much a downpour all day, but we still managed to move $70.00 worth of stuff. It helped that a couple of big ticket items--including a bicycle--sold. Despite being wrapped in cling wrap, our signs melted. I had to replace them with ones that we put packing tape over, so I kind of spent the day in a weird loop. Picking up signs. Replacing signs. Rinse, repeat.
Given how cold and miserable it was, we thought that we might have had an even better day, had the weather decided to cooperate. So Lisa and Shawn decided that since they had everything so nicely set up in Lisa's garage, they might as well just leave it there and try again in the morning tomorrow. My feeling is, why not? $70 is more than I was expecting to make, but if we could get it a little closer to $100 that feels like a nice donation. 100% of the proceeds for this rummage sale is going towards funding Mason's Wind Energy Team's trip to Anaheim. (They leave Tuesday!) They made enough to book tickets and cover much of hotel, but not quite enough.... also currently they have no funds to cover food for all 8 kids for the three days they're gone. Any money we make (or that you donate: https://www.gofundme.com/help-send-us-
Otherwise, my mood has been.... feeling my mortality. I suppose that's not a mood, but it's definitely something that's been on my mind lately. After Mark died, I've been working hard to stay in touch with his partner Joe. It's not terribly hard. He's on my mind a lot. So it's more that I have to remind myself to go ahead and text Joe when I'm thinking about him. In fact, we text/chatted a bit today, because he'd been thinking about bringing over some donations to the sale, if the weather had been a little less gross.
I can only imagine how lonely he must be. It's not hard to think about "what if...?" And, life without Shawn is.... UNTHINKABLE. And, I would have Mason to share my grief. Joe has only friends and relatives like me.
Then, today, by chance I discovered that a Facebook acquaintance lost her husband, unexpectedly, a few days ago. He seems to have died in his sleep, probably from a heart attack. I was floored. This is not someone I know terribly well. We only friended each other several months ago, after hanging out on Google with a mutual friend who had moved out of town. I thought she was cool, and so I followed her, like you do. And now... this.
It's like this "what if...?" is stalking me, circling closer.
Mason was playing second base, which is, IMHO, a tough position because you have to be constantly alert for base steals, grounders, and of course any balls coming your way. AND it's best if you have an arm strong enough to comfortably toss to first base, in order to do a classic 'double play.' And coach kept letting Mason play there, which is a nice change from right field.
Listen to me, sounding like a baseball mom!
The bummer is that Mason is going to be headed off to Anaheim on Tuesday, so he's going to miss the play-offs. Well, most of them. They start on Monday so he will likely make that one, so long as the informational meeting during 510 doesn't go overtime and it's a home game (or at a field I can find quickly.) Weirdly, I'm going to miss cheering for the team. I jokingly asked Mason if it would be alright to cheer for the team while he was gone, anyway, and he snapped a quick: NO, DON'T BE CREEPY, IMA.
Speaking of Mason's trip, a bunch of us Kid Wind Team moms are planning a last-ditch fundraiser for the trip: a multi-family garage sale! If you're interested to see what we're selling, feel free to stop by on Saturday, May 20 (8 am to 4 pm?) 2260 Sargent Avenue, St. Paul, MN 55105. I can tell you there will be lots of unusual things, more than your standard baby clothes (although a lot of those will be there, too!) Shawn and I have, over the years, collected all sorts of odds and ends--and a fair number of them are on the chopping block, including an old foosball table and an antique adding machine. It'd be nice if we could raise a couple hundred bucks, so to that end, we're pricing things TO GO. We will be very much "or best offer" because what doesn't sell is going straight to GoodWill.
Today I have to go get cash for the cash box and some plastic tarps, because the chance of rain, unfortunately, is quite high. (Bummer.) But, we can't delay because the kids LEAVE on Tuesday. We may end up extending the sale into Sunday, though I think it's supposed to be rainy all weekend (because Minnesota now has a monsoon season, apparently. Though, I do feel like this is more NORMAL than the spring droughts we've had in the past, so I'm not *really* complaining, universe!)
Because it's been cold and rainy, I made myself a big pot of borscht. I am literally the only person in my family who eat this. I don't mind making big batch, because that means I can have ready-made lunch for a couple of days. But, the hilarious thing is that while gathering ingredients at the store today, I FORGOT THE CABBAGE. For borscht!! This is the second time I've made borscht with everything but the cabbage, so I guess that's partly why I keep doing this, but what heck. Next time I spontaneously decide to make borscht I need to think: beets AND cabbage.
Right, I'm off to start the pre-garage sale errands!
Twenty students, holy crap.
Anyway, normally, right now I'd be sitting outside of Mason's school waiting to pick him up. But today he has a late-start baseball game against his old rival, Capitol Hill.
Mason's rivalry with Capitol Hill started in pre-K. He had a friend in pre-K called Noah. Noah was a lot like Mason, only... bossier. He tended to mock Mason for things like not knowing how to count after 100 or how to spell Mississippi. (Keep in mind, this is PRE-Kindergarten. Both Mason and Noah equally qualified for gifted and talented, and Mason, like Noah, was ALREADY READING. Something neither of them would really be taught for another year or two.) Noah ended going off to Capitol Hill, the Gifted & Talented magnet school. We chose to keep Mason at Crossroads for a number of reasons, not the least of which being that, while Mason is gifted, he's NOT a "high achiever." Giving Mason extra busywork results in him blowing off said busywork to read more about animals and fish that live in the twilight zone under the ocean, aka the thing HE wants to learn about at the moment. (This is, btw, still very true of Mason. He has a tendency to do what is required to get the grades and not much more. Unlike his friend Rosemary, who will voluntarily do the History Day competition, even when it's not mandatory.)
The rivalry continues into Mason's tenure at Washington Technical, because for the longest time there were only TWO junior high school math teams in Saint Paul, Washington and, you guessed it, Capitol Hill. Capitol Hill still having mostly gifted and talented students at this point regularly wiped the floor with Mason's team at the various math meets. Defeat at the hands of the Capitol Hill math team is something Mason's math team has now faced for THREE YEARS IN A ROW. (Despite Mason placing among the top scorers in the region, individually.)
Then, out of all of the students who qualified for the state competition for the National Geographic geography bee, Mason was one... as was one kid from.... yep!... Capitol Hill. THAT GUY made it into the top ten finalists, and I have to admit that both Mason and I silently cheered when he was finally knocked out of the competition.
So, for Mason, today's game against Capitol Hill's baseball team is very FRAUGHT. Those guys have no idea how motivated Mason is to make a run against them.
Should be interesting.
As long as the rain stays away....
I'm going to try to remember to participate, because I love reading other people's posts about their reading lists, even though lately I have been having a hell of a time consuming entire novels. I don't know if this problem has to do with mood, my dyslexia, the political situation in America, or my attention span. But, whatever causes it, I tend to ride it out by reading a LOT of graphic novels. So, since last Wednesday, I have read:
Princess Jellyfish (Volumes 2 & 3) by Akiko Higashimura: It should probably be noted that I read the two-in-one volumes of both 2 & 3, which actually brings me up to volume 6 of the traditionally packaged tankōbon. Princess Jellyfish is the story of Tsukimi, a nerd obsessed with jellyfish, who lives in a female-only commune. Her life becomes topsy-turvy when she mets Kuranosuki, the son of a high-powered politician, who likes to cross dress. The plot basically revolves around three basic questions: will the commune get sold out from under the otaku women in order to make way for a high-rise development? Will the others in the commune figure out that Kuranosuki is actually a man? And will Tsukimi fall in love with either Kuranosuki or his dorky elder brother? Princess Jellyfish is josei (basically: written for an older female audience), so, despite these romantic elements, I'm not automatically expecting a HEA. I have some caveats/reservations before I would recommend Princess Jellyfish, in particular around how 'performing femininity' seems to net the nerd girls more positive results than when they're being their authentic selves...(and I HATE that message and that trope). BUT, so far, there's enough progress in the 'hey, nerd girls have useful skills/inner beauty too!' counterpoint that I'm willing to roll with this and enjoy its whacky ensemble cast. A lot of people chimed in when I posted about this on MangaKast, because the anime is apparently VERY popular, despite there being only one season and it having been produced some time ago.
I read a number of one-shot and single volume yaoi on Sunday while I was waiting for the dozens of small batches of flieschkueckle to fry. I read Ace no Kyuujitsu by Nishida Hagishi (about a baseball star that hooks up with a cruise ship captain) and Host is Down by Nishin Matsumi (a one-shot/single chapter story of an android seemingly alone on a derelict ship).
The things I have in my queue/TBR pile right now include:
Nozaki-kun Monthly Girls' by Izumi Tsubaki. I loved this anime and, when I saw that the Saint Paul library had copies of the manga, I decided to try reading it as well. The title character Nozaki is a high schooler who also has a "secret" life as a shojo (girls' romantic) mangaka. I have volumes 2-4, because... libraries. But, I'm not sure that's going to stop me from reading these, since I know how the story starts thanks to the anime.
Waiting for me on the hold shelf of Ramsey County's Roseville branch are:
Company Town by Madeline Ashby
The Reader by Traci Chee
Waypoint Kangaroo by Curtis C. Chen
So, that's what I'm reading and hoping to read... How about you?
He's been really looking forward to this game--well, any game.
In fact, last night Shawn and I took him out to "Play It Again, Sports" and dropped a fairly decent chunk of change on a used baseball bat so that he can continue to practice and play ball this summer. He really, REALLY wants to get good enough to be on the varsity team in high school next year. I'm perfectly wiling to help him practice, but I have the skills of any 50 year old nerd who never played any kind of sport, which is to say: almost none.
I'm really hoping that Mason works up the nerve to ask his teammate Eh-Ku if he would be wiling to get together this summer and practice throwing and hitting and such, but I get what that might be difficult for a thirteen year old boy to manage. Hell, asking people you admire for help learning a thing you don't feel especially good at is hard for anyone of any age.
If nothing else, we found a good batting cage for him to go to. It costs money, but not a huge amount.
I managed to get over to Rachel Hoffman-Dachelet's place to pick up some of the shade plants she was splitting. I got a ton of ostrich feather ferns, which I put in the back border of my fake Japanese garden. (The garden is fake Japanese on two counts. One, I am obviously not Japanese and this is not Japan, but, possibly more importantly, the Zen aesthetic of clean lines is one I can only aspire to, but never achieve. It's kind of anthesis of my basic personality which can be broadly categorized as: loud and messy.) I also put in a whole bunch of wild ginger in a ring around the new rock border I put at the top of the main hill of our front yard. The dirt there is root bound and hard packed, so if any of them live I will be deeply grateful to whatever Nature God(-desses) favor me. I also cleaned up another problem area and planted hosta and some Siberian Irises. (I may have misplaced the irises. I think they need more sun than I gave them.) BUT the idea there is that I'm really trying to work on some areas that are "gateways" into our backyard. Similarly, I put a bunch of stella del'ord day lilies as a border to the other exit/entrance to our backyard.
I worked like a fiend to get everything in the ground last night, and I'm VERY grateful for the downpours this morning for MY sake. Now, I just hope things clear up for Mason's.
We've got a projected high of 83 degrees F (28.3 C) today and I don't know how that could happen without sun. But sun and a muddy field still doesn't do Mason's team much good, alas.
Tonight is my last Loft class. I'm going to miss this crew. They were AMAZING. Like I've been saying, I'm not sure if you can say that I was the best teacher, but, in this case, that's beside the point because what I did for these people is facilitate their workshopping. And, honestly, when you're an intermediate to advanced student, that's all you REALLY need: colleagues at (or above) the same level you are that can push your skills forward. At the advanced/intermediate level the main thing to do is write, critique/get critiqued, send out, and repeat until something hits.
Often the trick is finding a good group, so that's definitely what the Loft provided.... and I happened to be there to help it happen. So, I feel very proud of them, even though I kind of did nothing especially profound.
It's going to be weird to have my Tuesday nights free again. I won't necessarily miss the critique load, though. 60 pages of in-depth critique every week? It's a lot, especially on the weeks when Wyrdsmiths also hands-out (although we met last time without any critique, just to have an industry
I'll have to find something to do with myself on Tuesday nights.... maybe I should try this writing thing for myself, eh?
Shawn had a lovely Mother's Day. Facebook informed her that four years ago, we had apparently made the food of her people, aka fleischkuekle, and so she turned her big brown eyes to me and said, "Pleeeeaaaassssee." Which always works, so we spent a huge portion of the day making and frying up fleischkuekle. We now have 120 of these lovely little meat pockets. And, I spent three hours deep frying them--that was a little less fun, but, honestly, I've gotten to the point where I don't have to watch them, I can listen to the sound of the grease. There's a particular change in the bubbling noises when they're ready to be flipped. So, I sat next to the deep frier and read. I ended up reading a lot of random manga, which I queued up for Mangakast. (If you ever want to read my reviews of the manga I'm reading, check out: https://mangakast.wordpress.com. WARNING: I do read a lot of NSFW yaoi and yuri and I review them using the grown-up words, though I do tend to eschew writing out the swears for some reason, probably because I started this blog/podcast when Mason was still quite young.)
Today, I managed to get outside and mow before the thunderstorm hit today. I also remembered to pull the grill into the garage. We'd grilled out on Saturday, after my shift at the library.
The weather was amazing this weekend, although I'm not super-fond of actual heat, which is to say anything over 72 degrees F (22.2 C).
I didn't manage any gardening despite the amazing weather, mostly because I worked noon to 5 on Saturday at Roseville, and then cooked all dang day yesterday (don't listen to me, it was fun. There's something really soul feeding rather than tiring about making ethnic food like that, which is made by the whole family, talking in the kitchen all day, generally in community, as it were.)
I actually managed a lot today. For some reason I was convinced I'd have no time to read and review my critiques for tomorrow's class so I quick drove out to Office Max for printer cartridges for our little Jet Ink thingie, printed out stuff for class, and read some work that I'm being paid to critique this morning as well. I did a bunch of laundry, most of the dishes, mowed, and... a whole slue of little things I'd been meaning to do forever. I guess this is what productivity is, eh? I'm not very familiar.
Speaking of that, I ought to get that next load in the drier.
I don't know why this always seems to happen in the language CDs I'm learning from, but here I am on lesson seven and I am already asking:
Me: Nani ka nomumassen ka? (Wouldn't you like something to drink?)
Her: ii desu ne (Sure / it's okay) Doko de? (Where at? Basically: where should we go?)
Me: Watashi no tokoro de. (my place.)
What the hell, language tape! I am NOT THIS KIND OF GIRL.
And I am not kidding you. Pimsluer is teaching me to ask, "At my place?" BEFORE TEACHING ME HOW TO ASK "at the restaurant?" Restaurant is literally "restaurant" in Japanese. It's a borrow word. Sure, you have to kind of say it in a Japanese accent, but C'MON! Also, I'm apparently a little rapey, because the next conversation goes:
Me: Nani o nomumasu ka? (What would you like to drink?)
Her: Ah... so desu ne... wakarimassen. (Hmmm, let me see.... I don't know.)
Me: Wakarimassen ka? (You don't know?) O-sake? Biiru? (Sake? Beer?)
I can not believe I'm like, "You don't know?" What kind of jerk am I? Am I really shaming this nice woman about her being hesitant and indecisive? Then, I'm pushing the alcohol!??! Why not kouhi? (coffee) Or o-cha? (Green tea, which, like sake, gets an honorific 'o' in front of it.)
On the other hand, I'm certainly learning all the super casual interactions and, because this method really seems to works for me in terms of how I'm learning and the amount of repetition, I'm remembering everything. I was talking to a friend of mine who is also studying Japanese and she told me her flashcards are all very "Your company is very efficient!" and other such business-like transactions. I told her that I'm clearly studying to be a frat boy to her salaryman. Suddenly I had this wonderful image of the two of us in Japan: me, trying to hustle the women on the train, and her, brokering the deal with Nissan. She can get us reduced rates at the hotel; meanwhile, I'm making small talk with the receptionist at the hotel....
Weirdly sort of suits my personality. I mean, I hope I'm not rapey, but you know the sort of super-pushy aggressively overly friendly sort.. that's me. As I told my friend, I already talk to strangers on the train. This isn't that far off. :-)
So what do you say? Watashi no tokoro de nani ka nomumassen ka? (Wanna have drinks at my place?)
On the other hand I did manage some gardening. I should take a picture of the amazing bleeding heart that we have in our faux Japanese garden. (I would love a legit Japanese-style garden, but I think the closest thing I can hope for is to emulate the aesthetic of one. I'm just not that tidy and organized a gardener.) The bleeding heart is huge and gorgeous, and inspired me to pick up a couple more bleeding hearts, because: damn. I should also connect the hose to water the new plantings. Last week I didn't have to remember to do that because I was basically gardening in between the rain showers. This week looks to be fairly dry and sunny, so I'd better get out there and water things. It'd be stupid to do all the transplanting and planting just to have everything croak.
Sunday, Mason's baseball team did a fundraising gig at the Cub Foods on Larpenteur Avenue. Nine of them working as baggers raise a couple hundred bucks. When I picked up Mason, coach made sure to let me know that Mason "had good hustle."
Here's a picture our friend Sean Murphy (SMM Photo) took for us at last Thursday's game:
Pretty good action shots. Of course, Murphy is a serious sports photographer and you should have seen the size of his specialty lens! Huuuuuge, as 45 might say.
Speaking of fundraisers, though, Mason is going to suggest the whole bagging thing to his Wind Energy Teacher/Advisor. His wind team still has a couple thousand dollars to fundraise to make their goal, and so they're looking for ways to make that difference up in the next few weeks. My friend Naomi thought of a rummage sale for charity, and so we've cooked up something with one of the other moms from the team. Gods know, Shawn and I have a ton of stuff to contribute. We don't really have a great place to host it, but the other mom does, so fingers crossed that we can raise a few more bucks for the kids that way. I mean, obviously, having made it past their deadline, Washington Tech is committed to sending these kids to Anaheim, but it would be nice to continue to lighten the school's burden. (You can still donate here: https://www.gofundme.com/help-send-us-
That means we're starting to eye everything in the house with the "can I sell that???" look. I think the cats will be lucky to escape without being tagged "$10 OR BEST OFFER." ;-)
Right. I should go get dressed for work. See y'all on the flip side.
Monday I worked at the library. It was a very, very short shift--only three hours, 10 am to 1 pm. Even so, I considered calling in to cancel because Mason woke up with a migraine and stayed home from school, but, given that he spent the day sleeping it off, I figured he'd hardly notice me gone for three hours. Plus, he's thirteen and has mastered the life skill of baking a frozen pizza for lunch.
I'm not sure how much help I was at the library, however. I was having one of those days were doing one thing took my whole attention and took FOREVER. Normally--and, for some reason, especially at this particular branch--I'm a workhorse. I do all the things kind of mindlessly and efficiently. This time I was like, "Oh, a book! I love books!" and I'd read the back cover flap and somehow an entire half hour would go away and when the book finally hit the shelf I was all, "Uh, oops, somehow I still have two thirds of a cart undone...." (On the other hand, I found a memoir about two pen pals that got me curious about other books about pen palling.)
When I left they were complaining about how they'd SOMEHOW fallen behind. As I waved goodbye, I was thinking, "Yeah, I did that. You're welcome!"
Monday was also the day it SNOWED. I took a video and posted it on Facebook actually, because: dang. It melted almost instantly but it was briefly disheartening to see tulips covered in snow.
Yesterday I spent hanging out with a friend during the day and teaching at the Loft at night. My class continues to go really well. As I was saying to a friend, in a lot of ways, teaching the advanced/intermediate students is easy money. I mean I put a lot of time and effort into critiquing, but, the thing is, so do they. Learning to think about how writing WORKS (and when it doesn't) is invaluable. At least, it was for me. That's how I learned what I did about writing an why I always structure my classes so that a huge percentage of the time is spent engaging in peer (and instructor) critique. I mean, I think that's also something people really want from a class--you know, a chance to talk about their own work, have it reviewed, and discussed.
I left last night full of energy, too. Of course I am an extrovert, so that would happen to me no matter what. I always leave the party late, with increased energy. But my students are also really smart and engaged, so that's a double plus good boost. I came home at 11 pm to discover that I had forgotten to pick up cat food, so I turned around and went out to Walgreen's to pick up a couple of boxes of canned wet food. I probably didn't get to bed and asleep until midnight. Which would be fine, I suppose, if the alarm didn't go off at 5:30 am.
But today I did that thing where I pulled myself up out from under the covers long enough to put my clothes on and then I crawled back in to snooze until Shawn yelled that we were leaving. So, I probably stole an extra hour of sleep that way. Granted, not DEEP sleep, but I'll take what I can get.
I also heard back from Twin Cities Geek. They're interested in having me, and so I sent along bios and photos and such. Now I'm just waiting to figure out assignments. I don't know if, like at Bitter Empire, I just do the thing and send it to them or if I'm going to get actual "do this thing" kinds of assignments. Regardless, I'm honored, because reading through their site they seems like 'the cool kids.' (in a good way, like those slightly cooler than you, 'sempai'-types, but with whom you really, really want to hang out, because OMG SO COOL.)
Today I've got a few errands to run and then I'm going to spend some time at the coffee shop with 'The Ladies.' (A group that started out as the female contingent of Wyrdsmiths, but has morphed into a group of cool writer women.)
Next step will be buying some dirt from Menards. Part of the idea of the little rock border at the top of the hill is to hopefully stop all the dirt from eroding down the hill.
Otherwise, sent in an application to write for Twin Cities Geek. It's not a paying gig, but they were specifically looking for women to review comic books and since that's something I'm reading, anyway, I thought it might be fun to do it for them.
To that end, so far this year, I have spent probably a total of four hours on a couple of problem areas. One, hardly anyone will see, but we have this pathway that leads from our backyard to the front. It's usually completely ignored by me and becomes the place the weeds with the sticky burrs live. Then every time I take the garbage out and come back again, I have to pick those little sticky bastards off my sleeves. WELL. A couple of days ago, I dug that whole area out and transplanted some hostas and day lilies and now my fingers are crossed that the predicted snow does not kill them.
Today I spent an hour or so on the front hill. The front hill... when we first moved into this house we had lush, green grass growing down the hillside. It was a really big pain to mow, but it was GRASS (something, it turns out, I have no skill in growing or maintaining.) Now... now there's a lot of dirt and weeds. Underneath the weeds are some hosta, so pulled out a lot of the weeds today and uncovered several hosta. A few were big enough to split and a couple were in places where they were going to get smothered out--so I moved some stuff around. I'm hoping this will help things look intentional.
The second resolution is that I'm going to try to learn more conversational Japanese. I did NOT start this year out well in that regard as I have had to drop out of my community education class, however, I did find a REALLY GREAT set of language CDs at the library which I'm listening to while I do the dishes/make dinner/other housework. I love these CDs because they're actually teaching me some useful phrases ("I don't understand Japanese being the FIRST THING THEY TAUGHT ME) and they keep bringing up the things you learned in earlier lessons on heavy repeat. I actually, for once, feel like I'm retaining some of this information I'm learning. That's a HUGE step forward in the language department for me. Because I can't otherwise seem to retain information. I told Shawn that I'm going to have to buy this particular brand of language CD.
I should probably resolve to write fiction, too, but sometimes I feel like I should give up. :-(
These are our future engineers, my friends!
The only problem is that Washington Tech is not a rich school. The kids are required to fundraise 100% of the travel expenses. Added pressure is that the principal won't start the paperwork (which has a deadline of May 1) until they've raised a "significant" amount. Thanks to a lot of big donations (that biggest one is from us, because Shawn and I decided that we would have otherwise funded Mason's travel, so we should just go ahead an donate what we would have paid), they're getting REAAAAAAALLLLLY close to halfway. I'm fairly certain that the principal would accept half as "significant," but we don't know.
Thing is, there's no need to break the bank. Every little bit helps. So, if you've got a spare dollar or five dollars for science these kids would really, really appreciate it.
Even if you DON'T have a spare buck, you should check out their GoFundMe page, anyway, and watch the video to check out the cool stuff they're up to. The narrator is Mason's friend Rosemary, and you can see Mason in several of the shots (hint: the white dude.)
What is a friendship book? It's... okay, it's usually handmade, here's a picture of one sent to me:
Inside the booklet are people's names and addresses. Some people handwrite their addresses, but others have address labels specially printed for FBs, which include a whole lot of mysterious acronyms. "NPW" = New Pen Pal Wanted. SNNP = "Sorry! No New Pen Pals!" (I'm considering keeping a list handy, because some of them are counterintuitive.)
Often people will include the various languages they could potentially correspond in, you might see "NPW in English, François,.." etc.
How you use this is kind of like a chain letter, only much less malevolent. One person starts it (in the case of my example above someone has started it for someone else), and they send it on to one of their pen friends. That pen friend adds their name (and whatever notation they might like), and then they pass it on to one of their friends. When the booklet is filled, it's returned to the original, initial address. Sometimes these are used to actually gain new pen pals, but sometimes they're just sent off into the world to see how far they go before they come back. There's apparently a whole subculture of FBs, which... weirdly, I am now part of, that include things called "decos" and "crams." In addition to the several books that have now been passed to me from German pen pals (this is REALLY a German thing,) I also received a Friendship Sheet.
Here's another couple examples of what they can look like (sorry this is a little blurry.)
If anyone out there wants to be part of this German pen palling thing, let me know. I should note that it's not unusual for people from other countries to have gotten roped into this. The only thing they need to have had is a German pen pal. I've seen names from Russia, Japan, Sweden, Canada, Australia, Austria, and I'm not the only US pen pal to have been part of one of these.
It's a weird/cool thing. Feels very retro, very 1980s. It's kind fun.
My own sign was less clever, but I did manage to make one before I left for the March for Science (Saint Paul, Minnesota):
This march was smaller than the Women's March, but there was still a HUGE turn out. I can't believe the reports that are only counting us at 10,000. I would easily have said 50 or 60 thousand. I went with Mason and his friend Rosemary and her mom (and a friend of her mom's). We were able to get fairly close to the Cathedral to be dropped off. We could even have found parking, but the plan was for a drop-off. It may be that with the nice weather, a lot more people were finding non-car ways of getting to the march. I know that my friend Naomi biked, and she reported that she could hardly find a spot to lock her bike. Given that this march took place on Earth Day, I wouldn't be surprised if a large number of people biked in (there was still snow on the ground for the Women's March.)
The signs were all amazing. So many math puns.
As I remarked to Rosemary's mom, it was impressive how "on theme" everyone was. I mean, there were a couple of re-treads. I saw at least one: "Things are so bad, the Introverts are here!" and one or two on the overarching theme of Trump Sucks, which could have been recycled from the Women's March. But, from what I saw, science really was the main theme. The T-Rexes were there. Someone (people, probably,) had a giant wholly mammoth puppet. Lab coats seemed to be a bigger theme than the knitted "brain" hats (which were meant to the be science version of the pussy hats.)
The sun was bright. It was actually kind of hot, despite the typical Spring-like weather. Me and the kids gave up early (the acoustics for the speakers were still really very bad) and we hopped on the light rail and went to Ichiddo Ramen for some sustenance. Then we light railed it the rest of the way home.
Via la revolution!