Two firsts & some distractions

In my last post, I mentioned doing a #fridayfiction post on Twitter. It didn’t actually happen until Sunday so I’m going to call it #fictionSunday. You can see my tweet about the short story I read on the STORY Magazine website. It was actually an excerpt of a longer story that will be in the print edition.

More new things! I finally signed up and participated in One Page Wednesday, an event that Literary Arts hosts. Right now they host the event on Zoom, but before the pandemic people went down to the Literary Arts space and did an in-person reading. Basically, there are featured writers each month who read at the beginning of the event, and then others sign up to read their page. One of the Literary Arts staff members emcees the event (December’s was hosted by Jessica Meza-Torres) and it kicks off from there.

This is me ready to read out loud to people other than my toddler for the first time in a couple years!

I didn’t get super nervous, probably because I was sitting on my couch in my house, I didn’t have to go first, and everyone on the Zoom call was very supportive. I loved seeing new-to-me writers and hearing what they are working on. I hope to join the call again next month.

Other items I have found of interest, amusement, or otherwise distracting:

  1. This music video by Vremya & Steklo “Troll” was the #1 song in Ukraine in December. I found while browsing Twenty-two Twenty-eight literary journal’s website.
  2. Perfecting my vegetarian chicken soup (instant pot!).
  3. Read a few articles about Omicron. Here and here. I’m sure new stuff will continue to be reported on.
  4. I learned a little about the Transgenic jellyfish from the e-news digest I get from Nature. Researchers are learning more.

“Jellyfish neurons seem to be organized in hierarchical patterns that independently control different body parts, the scientists say. Transgenic jellyfish could serve as a model for studying how brains and nervous systems evolved, they suggest.”

– Nature

What are you doing to keep distracted? Have you tried anything new lately?

Okay, that’s all for now. Hope you are staying healthy and sane.

Inevitable Certainty

This post is going to be a little scattered. I have a couple things on my mind and I want to talk about both of them. To be fair, the subject of each idea is linked closely together.

IMG_9680First, on Twitter, I follow Caitlin Doughty, mortician, activist and founder of the death acceptance collective The Order of the Good Death. I made a pledge to The Order of the Good Death a few years ago. I quietly advocate for a death positive existence, but I don’t push the topic on people. It means a lot of different things to different people. My main goal in life is to somehow “normalize” death for myself and to be able to talk about it in meaningful ways in my writing and to others. Some people are more receptive to it in conversation than others. I’m not a doom and gloom type of person, I can be serious, but overall I hope to figure out a way to deal with the overwhelming emotions that come with it, a practical response to an inevitable certainty. Granted, I fully believe that any reaction is appropriate to the death of a loved one. Emotions can’t be controlled, nor should they be. Doughty makes these conversations funny and serious at the same time. If you are interested, Doughty recently posted her 7 Habits of Highly Effective Death Positive People on YouTube. 

Now, there are many different ways in which the inevitable happens so it’s not about the actual event, but more about preparations before it happens. One way to do that is to make sure you have an Advanced Directive. Doughty has a Youtube series that talks about all kinds of things, but this is just one of many that are super important if you can wrap your mind around the inevitable. I will admit that I still need to get this done. I’m planning to sit down with my husband, make a living will and create advanced directives for both of us. I’m giving myself a deadline of two weeks from today. I’ll check in with you on the blog and let you know. It isn’t an easy thing to make yourself create. I get that.

Now to switch it up to a different but related event . . .

The second part of this post is about saying goodbye to a fantastic and well-known Portland-beloved writer. I was fortunate enough to attend the Literary Arts tribute to Ursula K. LeGuin a couple days ago. I was late to reading Ursula, but she sparked my interest again at an event about eight years ago. It was another Literary arts gathering called in conversation with Margaret Atwood and Ursula K. LeGuin (thank you to Gina for giving me your extra ticket!). I’d long admired Atwood and that night I was struck by the vitality and wit LeGuin exuded from the stage. I’d only read short pieces by her. Soon after, I read The Left Hand of Darkness and then a friend gifted me her book, The Dispossessed. Both are fantastic. I also read a few books in her EarthSea series. Anyway, her willingness to be part of the literary community not only by participating in it but in supporting other writers gives me a lot of hope. Yes, we are living in scary times, but LeGuin has given us many guidelines on how to move forward through social justice and speaking out in whatever voice you call yours. I remain optimistic.

Drop me a line or comment below. What are your thoughts on death, Ursula LeGuin, or anything else?

 

Book Event: Oregon Book Awards

IMG_8760Last week, the Oregon Book Awards sponsored by Oregon Literary Arts doled out checks and drink tickets to the winners. This year I knew one of the nominees and had read three of the books nominated, two of which, won their awards. The three books I read were The Last to Die – a young adult novel by Kelly Garrett, The Fish Market – nonfiction book by Lee Van Der Voo (she subbed on my co-ed soccer team a few years ago!) and Strange the

IMG_8757Dreamer – a young adult novel by Laini Taylor. The latter two won in their category. I highly recommend all three books depending on your mood. Each one was well-written and immersive. After sitting through the list of nominees and reading their book descriptions, I have a few more books to add to my “to read” list.

This year, I truly felt part of the writing community. Over the past few years, I’ve gotten more involved in readings, workshops, and writerly events. What that means is, I recognize or have had interactions with many of the writers in the Oregon community. I’ve also put myself out there to meet new people. It’s fun to see some of them out in the world and getting nominated for awards, receiving fellowships (Yay, Jacob Aiello!), or enjoying an event.

The night started out with vegan gluten-free pizza with two friends (Erin and Erica) who I met through a writing workshop at The Attic Institue. We’ve been friends now for a few years. We met up with Kelly and her husband to celebrate her accomplishment as a nominee for the Oregon Book awards. I was a little off that night due to getting hit by a car as a pedestrian in a crosswalk two days before, but I wanted to be there. The whole getting hit by a car story is one for another day, or maybe I’ll turn it into a short story or a scene in my next novel! I’m doing okay after a few days of limping, a bandaged hand, and some emotional trauma that is ongoing. I don’t recommend this experience. My advice: wear a fluorescent jumpsuit at all times and be aware of your surroundings at all times!

Anyway, we ate and headed to the event where we sat up in the balcony. A few minutes after I sat down, I looked to my left and noticed I was sitting next to another writer, Mo Daviau, who I had recently met at a happy hour I hosted! She also wrote a fantastic book called Every Anxious Wave about a wormhole that allows people to go back in time to see their favorite band play. There’s more to it than that, but check it out. It’s a small community once you start putting yourself out there and meeting others around town. On our way out, I saw my friend Hillary an awesome librarian (and someone who is always smiling) who said she and her staff chose the adult novel, American War by Omar El Akkad, and highly recommends it. I’ve already added that to my reading list.

What’s on your reading list?