Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Events, Williamstown, MA and Manchester, VT

Yesterday morning I drove into Arlington, then continued onward with a friend to the Middlesex Fells. The trees are starting to change! So beautiful. And it reminded me that I've neglected to announce my plans for later this week in the Berkshires, where we are going to see such beautiful trees…

I'll be at Williams College, then at Northshire Bookstore in Manchester, VT, with three other Williams grads who write YA, Dayna Lorentz, Caragh O'Brien, and Tui Sutherland. Come join us.

October 2, 2014 (Thursday) at 8:00pm – Goodrich Hall, Williams College, Williamstown, MA
Writing for Young People: a Panel of Alumni Young Adult Authors with Dayna Lorentz, Caragh O’Brien, and Tui T. Sutherland

October 3, 2014 (Friday) at 4:00pmNorthshire Bookstore, Manchester, VT
Panel Conversation and Signing with Dayna Lorentz, Caragh O’Brien, and Tui T. Sutherland

Monday, September 29, 2014

A Poem for Changing

First, I continue to find designer Inka Mathew's Tiny PMS Match, in which she matches small, everyday objects to their Pantone colors, super soothing.

Second, I love this poem, by Gwynn O'Gara, found in my 2014 Women Artists Datebook.


Late afternoon the dog comes to my study
and rubs her softness against me.
Now, say her eyes.

Even the patient know urgency,
the dreamy wake to appetite.

Among the trees she greets old friends,
exults in the warmth of a new hand.
At home I fill her bowl.

So the heart finds where we hide
among strangers or preoccupations
and tells us it is time.

Feed what is hungry.
Air what is stale.

Pick up pen or phone
and pronounce the words 
practiced so long in silence.

Or lie down in the sun with the grass.
Neither bless nor curse,
simply change.

Gwynn O'Gara

Friday, September 26, 2014

Responses to Graham, Scott, Beha

In response to Ruth Graham's piece in Salon about YA, A.O. Scott's piece in the New York Times (partly) about YA, and Christopher Beha's piece in the New Yorker about YA, Sarah Hamburg wrote the very funny "How to Tell If You're in an Essay about Adulthood". It won't make sense without the context of the other articles, especially Scott's, so read them first, if you can bear it.

Also in response, Anne Ursu wrote the strong, thoughtful, and complete "On Poisoned Apples, The 'Great YA Debate,' and The Death of the Patriarchy", which can be read without all the context, and is a great example of why I wish the people who actually knew what they were talking about were the ones raking in the big internet audiences. Please boost the signal.

One of the most amazing and depressing things about this continual "adults shouldn't read YA" crap (and there are so many amazing and depressing things) is the unquestioned assumption that adults should be above the concerns of young people, that we have nothing to gain from the concerns of young people (other than nostalgic memories of our own innocence).  That if it's for young people, it can't be sophisticated enough for adults; it can't be art; it must be less. Yes, the debate devalues women; it devalues fine authors and their work. But most infuriating is the devaluation of girls and boys. Read the Ursu article. It has so many good parts. And please, please pass it on.

ETA: So sorry for the earlier version of this post, which named Heather Graham as the author of that appalling article, rather than Ruth Graham. Dictation slip. Sorry, Heather Graham! And thank you, JD, for noticing and telling me.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Interesting Article About Asexuality

There's an interview with Julie Sondra Decker at Salon today called "You’re about as sexually attractive to me as a turtle: Coming out as asexual in a hypersexual culture" that I found to be eloquent, thought-provoking, clarifying, and informative on the topic of asexuality. The last question in the interview, about how finding the right language for things can be clarifying and create the possibility to improve situations, is particularly interesting. Decker has written a book, just released, called The Invisible Orientation: An Introduction to Asexuality. Check the interview out if you're curious.

Separately, it's just come to my attention that my Twitter feed has not been picking up my blog posts since MAY, oops, sorry everyone. I'll make some time to figure this out and fix it in the next few days. Though I suppose the people this affects are the people who follow me on Twitter, which means they aren't reading this blog post, since presumably it's not going to show up on Twitter…

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Scenes from the Aquarium

One day this past week, I sat on the ledge of the footbridge while the sun was setting, with my feet hanging over the water. There was a little old lady watching the sunset next to me (she was not on the ledge), and I thought to myself, Oh, that's the kind of little old lady I want to be someday, the kind who comes out to watch the sunset. I was wearing a long blue dress and tall black boots. Suddenly she came over and told me that if I were to fall in, my boots would present a serious problem. I laughed and said, "That's a good point," but then I looked at her closer and realized she was Not Joking. She was a very sour person and she seemed certain that I was going to fall into the river and my boots would drag me straight down to the bottom and I would drown while she stood above me triumphantly yelling, "I told you so!" We had a brief conversation (*cough* argument), during which I remained pleasant, even though she was essentially telling me I was a young fool. Then she said, "Well, you be careful!" and stomped away. Be careful? Why is it necessary to be careful? Never once in my life have I fallen off the seat I'm sitting on. People don't do that, they don't just fall out of their seats. I'm not going to fall in!! When I told my friend Jess this story, she said she would've been worried that the old lady was going to push her in. This is, in fact, one of the few scenarios in which I can imagine falling in. Someone pushes me in; I lose consciousness and topple in; I lose my sanity and jump in; or, the ledge of the footbridge itself breaks off, falls in, and I fall in with it. I am willing to risk all of these unlikely possibilities. And anyway, that little old lady couldn't have pushed me in. I would've beaned her. Yes, you heard it here, I would knock a little old lady on the head, if she were trying to push me into the river.

I… didn't actually mean to tell that story, I just meant to post some videos from a recent trip to the New England Aquarium down at the wharf in Boston. If you hear the occasional screech, that would be a penguin.

If you can't see the videos, please visit my Blog Actual.

A few seconds of jellyfish. Did you know that jellyfish have lived in our seas for hundreds of millions of years?

More jellies --  these are called umbrella jellyfish.

Sea turtle!

This little cuttlefish was my favorite thing ever.

He had intense powers of concentration.

And can you see the way he is (electrically!) changing the color of his skin?

Finally, a few more jellies.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Sonya Tayeh and Christopher Scott, Happy Sigh

Tui and I are in agreement that this group routine, choreographed by Sonya Tayeh (who calls her style of choreography "combat jazz") and Christopher Scott (hip-hop/animation/popping), made what was an otherwise meh SYTYCD season worthwhile. Danced by this season's Top Ten and ten All-Stars. As usual, sorry about the screaming. I also find the spoken message to be CORNY, and as long as I'm listing complaints, the first 1:15 is a continuous shot and the music and the dancing are out of sync by the merest fraction of a beat. ARGH! It's probably unkind of me to point that out to you, actually, but it does a disservice to the dancers, especially the breakdancers (Dominic Sandoval and Emilio Dosal, left to right) and Will Wingfield (the guy with the dreads who goes crazy around 1:00).

Incidentally, the prominence of Marko Germar in this routine (the guy in the blue shirt who's at the center around 1:50) reminds me that in case you're wondering what his old dance partner Melanie Moore is up to – or what Thayne Jasperson is up to – they are both currently being fabulous in Finding Neverland here at the A.R.T. in Cambridge. :o)

Friday, September 5, 2014

Cheerios Can Bite Me

Today's rant comes to you from my Cheerios box, where I've just noticed that General Mills has trademarked this phrase: "More grains. Less you!"

The good news about this is that since it's a registered trademark, no one else is allowed to use it. Therefore, we won't see this unbelievably obnoxious message anywhere other than on our General Mills cereal boxes, which, frankly, we can stop buying. General Mills? What exactly is better about less me? Why would I buy a cereal that implies something is better about LESS ME? Have you failed to notice that I AM AWESOME? I want a cereal that gives me MORE me! But let's forget about me for a minute. Do you understand that your cereal boxes are sitting on millions upon millions of breakfast tables across the world, and there are kids and teenagers at those tables, bleary-eyed and grumpy about being awake, reading their cereal boxes while they eat? Which means that you are teaching them from a very young age that they and their bodies should be taking up less space in the world. That they should contain themselves, keep themselves small. That they should hate their fat, which is a part of themselves. That they should aspire to be less visible. Why would you trademark a phrase that creates shame? It's just despicable. These are the moments when I wish I didn't have a No F-bomb policy on my blog.

Here is a link to HAES, the Heath at Every Size movement.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Etsy and the Goblin Market

I've started writing the post that lists resources about girl and woman superheroes. It's a bit of a massive organizational project, so I'm not done with it yet, but I promise it's in the works!

My revision is so structurally challenging at the moment that it's funny the things I decide to do instead, because they're easier. Like, make major life decisions. Currently easier than my revision. I've finally got some revision momentum, though – this time around, it's been a long time coming – which reminds me that there's another post I'd like to write before too long. For the past few months and until rather recently, I was trying to do creative writing work while beset by extreme personal distraction. It was so, so difficult to focus. At some point, when I have the energy, I would like to share some of the techniques I used, borrowed from wise friends or invented myself, to work when I could barely keep my mind on my work. One of the techniques I used at a certain point was to recognize that I'd reached the point of diminishing returns and STOP working. I'd like to say more about that, too – about giving yourself permission not to work, when work is hurting matters more than it's helping.

This post is neither of those posts. This post is a series of links to some of my most favorite things that I will not be buying on Etsy. :o)

First, however, a warning. BE CAREFUL STEPPING OVER THE ETSY THRESHHOLD. Once you've entered, it is hard to leave. Such infinite temptation, such beauty and so many promises. My friend Becca sent me an email the other day with the subject line, "lost in Etsy." The message read, "have eaten their food and given my name" "send help"

You know not to eat the food or give your name, right? Are you ready to be strong?

I will not be buying this gorgeous blue-green and gold silk 1950s vintage gown on Etsy. But looking at it makes me SWOON. (By the way, if, by the time you click on the link, the dress has sold, and you get a message that says "Sorry, this item has sold," simply scroll down. Pictures of the dress should appear lower on the page, below the other stuff. This applies to all these links.)

Nor will I be buying this gorgeous blue-gray 1950s vintage cocktail dress with rhinestone buttons, but looking at it makes me want to DIE. Die, I tell you.

I will especially not be buying the best TARDIS dress on all of Etsy (yes, I have looked at them all). But if you have $499 rattling around in your pockets, go for it.

I have, in fact, purchased these sea salt caramels from time to time (both original sea salt and bacon sea salt), and they are divine.  Hopefully this shop, mermaidcaramels, will open again soon for the season.

I will not be buying this angler fish necklace, which might not be to everyone's taste (some people might find it... ugly and terrifying? Hm) but I think it's just great. As is this gold snake necklace, this cowfish, this rhinoceros beetle, this rocket ship, this squid attacking a nautilus submarine, and this shark.  Incidentally, with the exception of the rocket ship, these are all animals that you yourself might turn into, one after the other, while in the arms of your lover, who has just pulled your down from your horse in an attempt to rescue you from the clutches of Etsy.

(That was a clever reference to the fairy story Tam Lin. The idea is that Tam Lin is captured by the Queen of the Fairies and his lover rescues him by holding on tight to him while he undergoes all forms of transformation. I recommend the Pamela Dean version (called Tam Lin), which takes place on a fictional college campus in Minnesota in the 1970s. Also, The Perilous Gard by Elizabeth Marie Pope. Also, referenced in my title: "Goblin Market" by Christina Rossetti.)

This has been my browserwindowshopping for the day. Thanks for joining me, and good luck getting out.