The governor of Georgia declared a state of emergency due to the predicted 4” snowfall tonight. So cute! How very dear! Also Kroger is apparently out of bread, due to people stocking up for the impending disaster. Here in Atlanta, we take the prospect of a quarter inch of ice accumulating on the sidewalk very seriously.
Ok, I scoff, but I also did cancel my plans to drive out to Marietta tonight in favor of, um, knitting and not driving, I guess. It’s not so much the weather as the comical unpreparedness - so very South, like Georgia goes and knocks on Alabama’s door and is all like, “Hey, can y’all spare any salt? Like, for them roads?” and Alabama like “Salt? On the roads? What kinda Yankee nonsense you talking about?”
eh, who am I kidding, I love it here. Enjoy your single-digit temperatures up there, y’all!
I actually guiltily enjoy that terrible Hey Soul Sister song that I still hear everywhere. Friends, do not judge; to my credit, the reason I enjoy it is that the phrase “mister mister” is private slang among the band I work with for “double-headed dildo.”
Yes, the band I work with has special private slang for “double-headed dildo.” What?
Since graduating, I read a book a week, plus or minus, as part of my not-getting-stoopider regimen. Here’s 2010. Not counting graphic novels or things I read bits of. Err of which I read bits. With asterisks on the ones I really extra special liked.
1. The Story of Edgar Sawtelle - David Wrobleski 2. A Blind Man Can See How Much I Love You - Amy Bloom 3. The Invisible Man - H. G. Wells 4. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian - Sherman Alexie 5. The Bone People - Keri Hulme 6. Dude, You’re a Fag - C. J. Pascoe 7. Babyji - Abha Dawesar 8. Tar Baby - Toni Morrison 9. Spoon River Anthology - Edgar Lee Masters 10. Virtual Equality - Urvashi Vaid 11. Deerskin - Robin McKinley 12. Finding H. F. - Julia Watts 13. The Basic Eight - Daniel Handler (also, incidentally, known as Lemony Snickett) 14. Cavedweller - Dorothy Allison 15. An Anthropologist on Mars - Oliver Sacks 16. Brooklyn - Colm Toibin 17. The Member of the Wedding - Carson McCullers 18. My Name Is Red - Orhan Parmuk 19. *The House of the Spirits - Isabel Allende 20. Outliers - Malcolm Gladwell (yes, this embarrasses me) 21. The House of Brook Street - Neil Bartlett 22. Midnight’s Children - Salmon Rushdie 23. The Graveyard Book - Neil Gaiman 24. Her Fearful Symmetry - Audrey Niffenegger 25. Other Voices, Other Rooms - Truman Capote 26. The Yiddish Policeman’s League - Michael Chabon 27. Payback - Margaret Atwood 28. Disgrace - J. M. Coetzee 29. The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro 30. The Robber Bride - Margaret Atwood 31. Foxfire - Joyce Carol Oates 32. The Eloquence of the Hedgehog - Muriel Barbury 33. Pomosexuals - ed. Carol Queen & Laurence Schmiel 34. Valencia - Michelle Tea (ok, I was rereading that one) 35. Are Prisons Obsolete? - Angela Davis 36. The God of Small Things - Arundhati Roy 37. *The Twilight of Equality? - Lisa Duggin 38. Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell 39. The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down - Anne Fadiman 40. The Shipping News - Annie Proulx 41. No Logo - Naomi Klein 42. *Black Swan Green - David Michell 43. *White Teeth - Zadie Smith 44. *The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay - Michael Chabon 45. She’d Come Undone - Wally Lamb 46. Reservation Blues - Sherman Alexie 47. The Chosen - Chaim Potok 48. Psychogeography - Merlin Coverley 49. The Mysteries of Pittsburgh - Michael Chabon 50. Freedom - Jonathon Franzen 51. The Wind-Up Bird Chronicles - Haruki Murakami 52. The Moor - Laurie Anderson 53. The IHOP Papers - Ali Leibegott 54. Tea - Stacy D’Erasmo
I recommend most of them. I recommend The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay and White Teeth with especial, maniacal vigor. I am currently reading Bleak House as a dare to myself and to see if I can. What next?
I know I haven’t posted in this in months, there were lots of things: my co-worker got really sick and tours were canceled and she’s getting better and there were holidays and things and I abandoned this thing and then I started writing a bunch in my spare time, which is under the circumstances copious, and now here we are, the last day of the year: I’m in a motel room in Ft. Lauderdale, really, cigarette burns in the bedspreads and all, taking care of a friend who just had top surgery, alternately knitting, reading Dickens, refreshing my email inbox, and apparently, posting to tumblr.
We will hopefully be back on tour in January. I am writing sonnets and making a hat and thinking about places. On Monday I will drive 11 hours and get home to a house we left the day after a rare Southern white christmas, to my surly cat and aging mead and poorly-organized to-do lists. In 2011 I plan to dabble in graphic design, learn to make bagels, and get better at not feeling threatened by people and things I think are cool. So.
Adorable dishy barista at Dancing Goats: I overhear the words “Jude Law”, “Oscar Wilde,” and “couldn’t happen 25 years ago” from his conversation with an older man in a suit. A bearded-striped-sweatered-buddy-holly-glasses friend of the barista’s comes in and they lean in together in time as he passes over the drink. I think perhaps they’re going to kiss, perhaps on the cheek, but it’s only confidential gossip, registered by a leap backwards, into the Monin syrups, and a swish of the dishtowel. I love queers.
I consider that a totally successful morning with the Dekalb County municipal court (EVERYTHING IS OK it involved demonstrating proof of insurance and paying $25), and I hope never to do it again. A friend-of-a-friend who’s in that band I saw that one time was also there. I saw two other people recognize each other with a high five in court too - I suppose you know you kind of, sort of, live in a small town when. I think that Atlanta has that property of being a huge city yet letting you run into people you know everywhere. That started happening to me here 3 weeks after I moved to town, when I knew a total of about 9 people but they kept cropping up in grocery stores, coffeehouses, parks. That happened hardcore in Buenos Aires, too - I mean, I lived there 6 weeks; it’s comparable in size to New York, yet I ran into acquaintances from queer tango on the subway and made friends with boys in parks because they’d seen me at gay bars. Is it geography or is it just queer shit, as usual?
I’m home for a Whole Entire Week, between the Carolinas and the Northeast. I am doing laundry so hard, hopefully throwing together a vegan potluck, and having coffee with a friend who promises to lend me a book on psychogeography. Which I have never heard of. But it sounds promising.
To my slight disbelief, I’m totally back in Atlanta. That was quite the 22-hour travel day. I am so incredibly excited about things like grocery shopping and cooking in a kitchen and doing laundry whenever I want. I mean, also seeing friends and having a cat and sunshine and things like that, but still. Yesterday (to use the term loosely, referring to a 30 hour period) involved getting up at 5 am Sweden time, taking 2 trains and 2 flights, passing through 3 security screenings (featuring the trademark singling out of the person of color in our group for “extra security screening”), and the successful transport of 5 musical instruments, 3 stereo equipment units, and an embarrassing amount of personal baggage across the Atlantic.
Previous to that: I don’t even know where to begin. After the tour, which concluded in Yorkshire amid champagne, Travelodges, frantic green room laundry, local ales, and cross-cultural misunderstandings of the term “flytipping” (turns out to mean littering, not, as might be imagined, something like cow tipping but with … flies?), I went to visit a friend in Berlin. I hadn’t seen her in 5 years, during which time she had, among other things, become a lawyer and gotten married (!?!). Actually, I had a great time with her and her husband, not only because Berlin is a fascinating city with incredible 20th-century history and a lot of excellent Hefeweizen, but also because both Sabine and her husband Marc are very intelligent and sweet people. Specifically, intelligent and sweet people with diametrically opposed politics: Sabine is (and has been the whole time I’ve known her) active in the Christian Democrat party of Germany (very roughly analogous to the Republican Party, but with socialized heathcare and … well, less fucked up, overall), while Marc votes for the ex-Communist Leftist party but feel that they’re a little too implicated by their own investment in the capitalist status quo. I made each of them explain Germany’s political parties to me independently for comparative (& fascinating) information. Then we played board games.
Also, I went to Stockholm. This was an espresso-fueled impulse decision made back in October on the strength of a tenuous personal connection to a feminist collective in Sweden and a double-shot cappuccino. It was a fantastic decision.
Here is a partial list of things that I encountered on my 72-hour stay in Stockholm: -feminist bookstores -dance parties to the dulcet tones of Freddie Mercury -wide-ranging discussions of the comparative merits of Swedish and American educational, medical, and judicial systems, veg*nism, queer legal protections, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer -cardamom rice and gingered kale -a large and cylindrical public library -beautiful architecture & views of islands, palaces, and medieval churches -a moose -very good coffee
Needless to say, I had an amazing time. My very favorite kind of thing that can happen when traveling is when you have the pleasure of dropping into a community, especially a community whose values, complications, and sense of humor I recognize. I have already made plans for an arranged marriage with a Swedish anarchist queer crafty vegan in order to take advantage of our countries’ residency policies and facilitate greater Atlanta-Stockholm transnational movement.
I am going to do some laundry so hard. I am going to do laundry as I have never done laundry before.
Yesterday I had a day off in Edinburgh, so I met up with a college friend in the local volunteer-run anarchist cafe and art gallery. (One of the things my Oberlin education had equipped me with is friends in surprising number and variety of interesting cities and the unerring ability to locate volunteer-run anarchist cafe and art galleries.) We did a variety of excellent day-off activities such as walking the Royal Mile, admiring the Castle from city parks, and visiting a goth-punk dance club at 1 pm to explore the catacombs underneath it. The day culminated in going to a cramped pub to hear some friends of a friend play a session. My traveling companions told me that sounded like a totally local, authentically Scottish experience. I can only assume that it was: the band spent the evening covering Gillian Welsh, David Rawlings, and Richard Thompson. I freaking loved it.
We’ve been learning to drive on the left side of the road with the aid of an imperious and unreliable GPS device, which is constantly, constantly, directing us to “cross the roundabout; second exit.” When you hear this over and over enough times in short succession, it begins to sound like the little lady in the box is trying to tell us another message. Perhaps, “Floss the hound’s snout! Second Texas!” or “Gloss the lounge throughout, second sextant,” or, my favorite theory so far, “Toss the flounder out, second breakfast!”
In summary: I am a sound technician with a background in English literature, cultural studies, and student dining cooperatives, attached to a folk music band with a moderately silly name and excellent songs, currently on tour in the UK. I am far enough out of college to miss things like creative nonfiction writing assignments and obscure intellectual debate, whence this tumblr.
I spend a disproportionate amount of time in vans, hotel rooms, and motorway stops. I think a disproprotionate amount about audio equalization, great post-national novels, and the intersections of homonormativity, white privilege, and vegan baking. Also cephalopod intelligence. I am starting this tumblir in the half-hour interval before leaving Basingstoke to drive to Canterbury. Carry on.
The day before yesterday began with tripping through an oddly sunny London morning to the British Library, where I encountered not only the Magna Carta and a beastiary specifying the characteristics of elephants and griffins, but also a recording on Virginia Woolf being interviewed on the BBC. It unmoored me. I hope it does the same for you:
'…Words, English words, are full of echoes, of memories, of associations. They have been out and about, on people's lips, in their houses, in the streets, in the fields, for so many centuries. And that is one of the chief difficulties in writing them today – that they are stored with other meanings, with other memories, and they have contracted so many famous marriages in the past. The splendid word “incarnadine,” for example – who can use that without remembering “multitudinous seas”? In the old days, of course, when English was a new language, writers could invent new words and use them. Nowadays it is easy enough to invent new words – they spring to the lips whenever we see a new sight or feel a new sensation – but we cannot use them because the English language is old. You cannot use a brand new word in an old language because of the very obvious yet always mysterious fact that a word is not a single and separate entity, but part of other words. Indeed it is not a word until it is part of a sentence. Words belong to each other, although, of course, only a great poet knows that the word “incarnadine” belongs to “multitudinous seas.” '