Wednesday, April 28, 2021
Almost the end of April, already! As of now, I'm two weeks past my second vaccination shot, and just beginning to experience the first glimmerings of... I won't say normalcy, because who knows what that even is, but rather a quiet peaceful happiness. One I usually inhabit, but which felt far away during the past year, and really throughout most of the last four years. I won't write a lot today, but want to share the good feeling while it's visiting, along with this new little to-be-read stack of books:
First and foremost, I just received the brand new Jonny Sun book in the mail, Goodbye, Again: Essays, Reflections, and Illustrations (Harper 2021). I loved his illustrated book everyone’s a aliebn when ur a aliebn too (Harper 2017), not to mention the book of Lin-Manuel Miranda tweets he also illustrated, Gmorning, Gnight!: Little Pep Talks for Me & You (Random House 2018), which is utterly charming and heartfelt. I read his twitter account regularly, and love his highly-anxious-yet-positive vibe. Now I'm over halfway through this new book of his essays. Favorites so far are On yearning, On nostalgia, Staying in, How to cook scrambled eggs (which he should win some kind of award for, it's so odd and so good! like a storyboard for a perfect film short!), I am trying to decide if I should buy two rolls of paper towel or three, and Anxiety tax. Some of the essays are one paragraph, or even just a few sentences. Others are longer, and have line drawings and symbols accompanying them. All of them allow us, the readers, a glimpse at the truths of his life, a life in which he experiences depression and overwork, and examines the nature of happiness, with houseplants, friends, and family members making appearances along the way. Open and endearing.
My other books are all over the place, as usual. The Frugal Vegan cookbook by Katie Koteen and Kate Kasbee (Page Street 2017) was a gift from my mother-in-law a while back. I'm not vegan but have been mostly vegetarian for the past three/four years now, and after cooking for myself and Ryan for more than a year I'm very interested in learning a few new foodways. The book has some good ideas and illustrations. I'll at least have fun imagining them, even if I don't implement them.
The rest of the books I'm just dipping into. I've started and stopped Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teachings of Plants by Robin Wall Kimmerer several times and am determined to read the entire thing, soon. What I've read so far is fantastic, but other books keep nudging her aside. Her long essay The Serviceberry, in December's Emergence magazine, is deeply beautiful, and gives a taste of her writing style. I also got a new book of poetry by local author Stuart Kestenbaum, things seemed to be breaking: visual poems (Deerbrook 2021), and a collection by art critic Dave Hickey, Pirates and Farmers: Essays on Taste (Ridinghouse 2013). Hickey says on the front flap of the book:
"I advocate site-specific optimism. Hope for a better tomorrow is delusional, but we can still look forward to the next few hours with a high heart."
On that note, which sounds a lot like what I'm feeling today, I'll sign off and walk out into this gorgeous afternoon. I might even paint the flowers in the back yard. The forsythias are a generous froth of bright yellow, and the dandelions and daffodils near them radiate almost the same color, against the fresh green of the lawn. We heard the first hermit thrush of the year, last night. Spring. SPRING...!
Class lectures end next week and finals the week after. Another twice-a-year ritual.
I'd heard good things about Emily St. John Mandel's Station Eleven before Covid, but the subject hit too close to home the past year. I'm ready for it now, so it's near the top of the TBR pile.
Enjoy that stack!
Best wishes as you wind up the academic year. Ryan's workplace had a truncated semester, so they are finished for now. It's been such a strange time for the students - who want very much to return to complete in-person classes in the fall. Fingers crossed.