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beach in the city

week nine in ephemera

Maps and the city

There’s a new map of NYC in Rebecca Solnit and Joshua Jelly-Schapiro’s Nonstop Metropolis, laying out the city as one of women. Sylvia Rivera is there, so’s Kitty Genovese, and Lil’ Kim. Zora Neale Hurston and Adrienne Rich are one stop away from each other. Edwidge Danticat, Dr. Ruth, and Salt’n’Pepa. Check it out.


Everybody’s saying oil is driving/killing *the* economy/planet (I emphasize “the” because there’s more than one, but this is how it’s talked about, and of course, there’s the behemoth global economy of stuff and people and forces; can you tell I didn’t study economics in school?). I’ve talked about Planet Money before, because it’s awesome. But this week I’m thinking about this podcast from August about oil and the stuff that makes oil/is made from oil/etc.


For most of the summer I couldn’t really wear my hearing aid because it didn’t fit and kept cutting my ear. Thus, I missed a season of grooves. Yeah, it’s as poopy as it sounds (or doesn’t sound, lolz). So I’m making up for lost time. Solange released A Seat at the Table at the beginning of October and I’m stoked. Google or search Fb for some thoughtful discourse on the politics of the album. Here, I’m just grooving (which, in my case, means chair dancing, which really means that I’m nodding my head as I listen. My grooving is sad but I like it.)

For when you need to be chill but need some groove too. I’ve not yet had a chance to peruse this playlist but something’s gotta hit.

Oh, shit

This stopped me cold. I know I pulled some hateful shit when I was a misinformed little kid who wanted more than anything to belong. To be a parent continually downgrading their anger when deciding whether/how to explain to another parent that their kid is doing racist turd things (which they in all probability picked up from them). Respect and solidarity to the poc and indigenous parents of poc and indigenous kids. This feeds systemic racism and grows cops that shoot to kill black people, just as much/even more than (?) the blatant stuff of Trumpies, etc.

Anecdotal but heartening

My weight and shape have fluctuated quite a bit since I started messing with starving myself at 12 (which is, like, the most classic narrative for white middle class girls of the 80s and 90s, apparently, though there are studies indicating that eating disorders go far beyond these folks; it’s just that doctors and counselors ignored everybody else). I’m a hedonist when it comes to food. I’m never, barring threat of death, going to restrict major food groups ever again, nor am I going to spend a shit-ton of time at the gym “working it off.” Nothing works the same for everyone, but I appreciate this doctor connecting the dots between pressure to lose it all and growing medically-sanctioned reliance on weight-loss drugs.

That desk jockey life though

So, yeah, I’m not gonna kill myself getting fit and stuff. But I do need to exercise on the regular, and go hard more often than not. Still figuring out what my routine is, but going from working not at all for nearly six months to working five days a week is wreaking havoc on my bod (lolz … such as it is.) Gotta step up the weights. And I need to move. Funemployment meant that I was swimming in the Gorge 2-3 times a week plus going on long bike rides and walks nearly every day. My favourite book on running (not that I read a lot of books on running; the blurbs or back cover descriptions make me shudder most of the time) is by Haruki Murakami. It’s about struggle and boredom and repetition, not triumph (a key summary). And I love it. Maybe it’s a life of being told I need to be exceptional to be average that’s got me down on inspirational motivation, so be it. Not into it. What am into is running as a way to get to know a city. I like that.


Week seven in ephemera: Reads!

Decent Reads:

My friends know that I love to read. Saying “I love to read,” feels inadequate most of the time; I must read or I begin to feel frantic, unsettled, even desperate. A while back I shared an article about bibliotherapy and when I first came across the concept, nothing felt so real as that possibility. Besides comics and graphic novels, I haven’t shared what I’ve been reading (except for the online articles and essays, of course). Now, I’ll start sharing both current reads and some past reads that impacted me in such a way that I don’t forget them (and I forget things easily – whoops).

Current Reads:

Colson Whitehead’s Apex Hides the Hurt | First, I love Colson Whitehead. I loved Sag Harbor, The Intuitionist, and Zone One. Still haven’t read John Henry Days. I’m only partway through Apex, so I’m not going to say what I think about it beyond the fact that I’m enjoying it. I enjoy satire. Also, it’s common for me to read old stuff. I don’t like having hype in my head when I’m reading something, so unless it’s “summer reading” (more on that later), I’m going to be at least a few years behind. This one was published a decade ago.

Colson Whitehead's Apex Hides the Hurt (2006).
Colson Whitehead’s Apex Hides the Hurt (2006).

~Damn! After I saved the initial draft of this post and continued to waste time in FB-land, I saw this feature on Whitehead regarding his latest, The Underground Railroad. Hype or no (and there’s a lot), I’ll be reading this as soon as possible.~

Elizabeth Bowen’s The Heat of the Day | Speaking of old stuff, the publication date is 1948. It holds up, so far! I don’t know if it’s because I grew up curious about my family’s experiences of the Nazi invasion and occupation of Poland (and their subsequent shifts in identity, dispossession/displacement, place-making, and belonging), but sometimes I appreciate a good WWII novel. I imagine, sometimes, who my grandmothers were before they had children, especially when I read stuff from this era.

Summer Reads:

Lauren Groff’s The Monsters of Templeton | I read this a few years ago and was into it. It’s based on Cooperstown, New York, where I once spent a few humid and resentful days following my dad and brother around the baseball museum and not even bothering to be interested. Looking back it was actually a weird and cool place but at the time I thought sports were crap, unless we were talking about Wimbledon, the giant slalom, or basketball (basically everything my brother was disinterested in – note the theme). Anyway, back to the novel: it’s messy and is about the messes hidden in family lore and reality. I like that stuff.

More recently, Lauren Groff’s Fates and Furies | Fates was on the fast-read shelf at the public library and I recognized Groff’s name. You’ll see in the review I’ve linked to that it was a huge book last¬† year but I’d missed that, such is the strength of my hype-aversion. Again, it’s messy and and is about the messes hidden in long-term relationships and family lore. There’s a Weeki Wachee Mermaid, there’s some weird intrigue, and apt descriptions of post-college house parties full of frenemies and acquaintances.

Colson Whitehead’s Sag Harbor | Noted above,¬†SH is one of my favourite summer reads. I was lucky enough to spend at least part of every summer by the coast in southern Maine, Connecticut, and Massachusetts, growing up. My extended family lives all over New England and I miss the region dearly the summers I can’t get back east. So many summer novels about vacation homes, islands, and beach living are about white people; white people with money and the mostly white townies whose world is disrupted/perhaps controlled by their brief presence each year. Sag Harbor, and Dorothy West’s The Wedding, an earlier example, share narratives of black Americans vacationing in beach towns (Long Island in the former, Martha’s Vineyard in the latter). Both novels describe parallel summer communities that have little to do with the more well-known white enclaves. For me, I love having that dominant narrative of summer life cracked; it’s only one story after all, and there are so many more.

Transformative Reads:

Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan Novels | Definitely an exception to my hype-aversion; I didn’t know about them at first but got into and read all of the first three just before the release of the final, fourth, novel. Lifelong friendships are complicated, just as family is complicated, but women are sold a particular idea of being bosom buddies that’s crap, much like romantic comedies are crap. These novels are brutally honest and beautiful. I’ve read several of Ferrante’s other novels as well, and recommend them. People have been talking about the infamously trite cover art of the North American editions. Here’s the latest on that.

Los Bros Hernandez’s Love and Rockets | I have a soft spot for this series and am reading new-to-me issues that I’ve missed. My absolute favourite is Maggie the Mechanic. I prefer Jaime’s work but Gilberto’s is bizarro good. Love, broken hearts, sex, punk rock, adolescent punks, aging punks, California – all the good stuff. Why was it transformative? I love the way these dudes write and draw women, loneliness, alienation, and home.

Lucy Knisley’s Relish | The guy whose comics drawing class I’m taking (Gareth Kyle Gaudin of Perogy Cat fame) loaned me this book right when I started the class. Before reading this, I kinda felt too uncool to attempt sharing stuff via comics but on reading Relish, I recognized my own relationship to food and art and travel in Knisley’s storytelling. I aspire to her way of telling the story visually.

Marsha Hewitt and Claire Mackay’s One Proud Summer | I read this book as a kid and given that my grandparents were part of the Polish expat and Anglo communities in Montreal and my dad was a year old at the time of the 100-day cotton millworkers strike in Quebec, it blew my mind. My mind was blown by Lucie, the 13 year-old protagonist, who Norma Rae’d her way around for justice. I was used to young adult fiction about American (hello, Newberry Award winners), but this was about Quebec, and it was about something that actually happened, and it was radical.

That’s all for now. Thanks for reading this far!