January Things.

Here, a joint post in which we discuss what has been recently occupying our minds.

ALISON

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Things I Like.

There’s a bite in the air even in San Antonio this winter, so these days I enjoy the feel of cozy, loose sweaters (worn with fitted jeans or black leggings, so I don’t look like a bag lady), the inner warmth of crock pot dinners, chai tea in the morning, chamomile tea at night, and maybe a hot toddy in between.

And positivity. I like that. Thus, I will not have a Things I Do Not Like. At least…not this month.

Things I’m Reading.

no-one-belongs-here-more-than-youI am currently halfway through a collection of short stories by Miranda July, called “No One Belongs Here More Than You.” The stories are bizarre, funny, deeply sad but hopeful, and…resonate with me more than I’d like to admit. I have a feeling, although I have no evidence for it, that one has to be at least slightly damaged, even in some undefined way, to enjoy July’s work. One thing I noticed right away about this collection is that the voice (always first-person) is basically unchanging throughout the stories, despite the wildly different situations the various protagonists find themselves in. That singular voice could be a considered a criticism, but to me it created an impact and a sense of cohesiveness and made me appreciate July’s style more fully. This book is certainly not for everyone, but it is perfect for me, especially at this time in my life. I think Ms. July has even inspired me to tap into the short story well that lies somewhere inside of me.

Things I’m Thinking About.

These last few days, as I need a distraction from Real Life Shit, I have been daydreaming about What It Means To Be An Artist, (in my case, a writer), and what I need to work on. One thing I have trouble with when I sit down to write is that I have a deep need to Represent It All. I want to scoop up each morsel of life, hold it all at once, and spray it over the canvas, so to speak. I am the dog with a ball in its mouth that also wants the ball in his master’s hand. But no one can Show It All through art. Well, maybe the James Joyces of the world can come close, but I know my limits. Disciplined artists? They choose the little truths. They start with an idea, a truth, and the trick is, they don’t add to it, they subtract from it until they have reached its essentials. Those who practice this method realize they can’t impact It All, but instead they seek to create little waves that might ripple. My goal, as a writer, is to learn and master the art of truth by strategic subtraction. Knowing this might be half the battle.

Things I’m Listening To.

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I usually love discovering new music, but I’ve been in a rut lately, listening to familiar favorites like M. Ward, Jeff Buckley, Wilco, and soothing but stimulating classical music like Debussy. (Oh, and I share a birthday with him… nerd alert.)

AMY

Thing I’m Listening To.

(To which I am listening… ahem, grammar nerd here)

So it’s been around a while, but this video has everything I need to cheer myself up so I’ve been pulling it up almost daily to bask in the cheek of it. Seattle sights, Seattle inside jokes, Seattle faces. The weather is bitterly cold in Saint Paul and I keep dreaming of my old haunts (and cursing my instagram feed for all the photos from people I know who live places that aren’t sub-zero!). Plus, man, I miss that awesome Goodwill off Dearborn!

Things I’m Reading.

A peek at my Goodreads account shows me just how much of a homebody I’ve been the past month. Lots. Of. Books. Here’s just a sampling.

From the entertaining and imaginative but really not challenging category comes the Scott Westerfeld Leviathan series. Really, it is a perfect series to read in the middle of winter when the darkness and snow makes me want to stay inside and pretend I’m somewhere else. It’s a young adult science fiction steampunk alternative history novel, so there is something for every part of my imagination. One of the main characters is a teenaged girl and she’s quite well written. Sensitive, strong, smart but still a little dense at the right moments to make her feel real. Oh, and the artwork is fantastic.

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Staying with the young adult theme, I finally read The Perks of Being a Wallflower. How it missed me when I was in middle school (or high school, or college, or well, until the ripe old age of 30) is beyond me. I could only barely relate to Charlie, he’s just too, well to use his teacher’s terms, gifted and special. But the whole mood of the book, the whole feeling of being a lost teenager, not understanding how to navigate life, wanting to opt out of difficult situations and just live in one’s head – I could have used that when I was a teenager. And, least of all, I’m glad I didn’t see the movie because I can’t imagine such a tender, real and beautiful yet raw EPISTOLARY NOVEL be a live action film. Just can’t imagine it. Don’t want to. It’s so much better just living in Charlie’s head and seeing the world through his somewhat foggy filter.

Currently I’m reading Sacre Bleu – which is a mix that should really appeal to me – historical fiction/mystery/satire set in France and featuring Henri Toulouse-Lautrec and Vincent van Gogh. But I haven’t really dug into it yet. Plus… the text is printed in blue, and this makes my eyes hurt and also is a bit too CUTE for my liking. I will report back later on that.

I Like.

VINE!  The videos people are uploading range from strange to terrible to very creative. The sound aspect annoys me so far, since you can’t edit that — it can get loud and a lot of weird ambient noise gets chopped up and run together. BUT! I think it would be really interesting if used in a directed way. My museum brain is thinking of ways museums and educators could use the platform – such as asking for submissions on a theme, or asking people to respond to a question or prompt.

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I’m Working On.

Many things. Being more patient. A new sewing project (gunmetal washed silk crepe de chine – wish me luck!). Motivating myself to start playing my violin again. Learning Dreamweaver. Thinking about data privacy and copyright, because I find it fascinating.