Currently reading:
Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race by Margot Lee Shetterly (i’m just going to have to start over with this because I kind of forgot I was reading it.)
Becoming by Michelle Obama
Tibetan Peach Pie: A True Account of an Imaginative Life by Tom Robbins

 Read:
Hunger by Roxane Gay
Horns by Joe Hill
The Man in the High Castle by Philip K. Dick
The Last Policeman Trilogy by Ben H. Winters (re-read)
The Alienist by Caleb Carr (re-read)
Who Thought This Was a Good Idea? (And Other Questions You Should Have Answers To When You Work in the White House) by Alyssa Mastromonaco
A Wind in the Door by Madeleine L’Engle
Yes Please by Amy Poehler
Lovecraft Country by Matt Ruff
They Can’t Kill Us Until They Kill Us by Hanif Abdurraqib
The Boys of Fairy Town: Sodomites, Female Impersonators, Third-sexers, Pansies, Queers, and Sex Morons in Chicago’s First Century by Jim Elledge
Meet Me in the Bathroom: Rebirth and Rock and Roll in New York City, 2001-2011 by Lizzy Goodman
The Power by Naomi Alderman

It hasn’t been a good year for book-reading for me. (It hasn’t been a good year for a lot of things.)

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Scene report from inside my head

Written on June 15th

Some concerts are a joy and some turn into an ordeal that must be endured. Most are the former, very few are the latter. Last night’s Francis & the Lights show was somewhere in between.

Most of it was my own fault. I was coming to the end of some extremely stressful time at work up to and including that very day. I was sweating bullets hoping I would to get to leave on time. (the show had an oddly early start time of 7:00pm, and I normally leave work at 7:30). So I hopped in a cab at 7:30 while Dawn was texting me that despite the 7:00 pm start time nothing was happening. As it is, I got there in plenty of time, because opener Peter Cottontale didn’t go on until shortly after 8:00.

In my ignorance I’d never heard of Peter Cottontale by name, but he’s a member of Chance the Rapper’s band The Social Experiment. His band crowded the Metro stage, with a rainbow coalition of singers, a horn section, bass player, guitarist and drummer alongside his keyboards. On a better day I would’ve LOVED this performance with all my heart. It was a jumping, jamming, Parliament/Funkadelic-style joy. And it was all I could do to not burst into tears because I just felt empty. At one point he shouted “Do you all feel free tonight?” and of course everyone yelled, “YEAH!” and I was like, really? You do? Because I don’t. And then I was furious at myself for being unable to enjoy this beautiful thing happening in front of me, wiping away tears and trying not to look like I was having a nervous breakdown. All the bottled-up stress & anxiety of the last few weeks had chosen this exact moment to break me.

At the end of the set, Chance came onstage. He’s also worked with Francis so there was much pre-show buzz about whether he might make a guest appearance, and when Peter Cottontale was announced as the opening act the buzz was even stronger. So there he was, for their final song, performing “Blessings” and that was exciting! The crowd lost their collective shit and all the phones went up in the air (including mine).

Now that we knew Chance was in the building, it seemed inevitable that we’d see him again during Francis’ set. But the crowd was dragging me down. It was a sold out, all ages show and it was PACKED. Dawn & I were trying to hold our spot on the raised floor area where we usually stand at the Metro. But of course we were constantly being jostled and blocked by “The Talls” as Dawn has hilariously labeled them. We’re both about 5’4″ and I really wish I could institute standing zones by height at GA shows. (Any clubs interested in a pilot program, get in touch.) I know I’ll be banging this drum until the day I die, but maybe #TimesUp for tall men with no self-awareness at GA shows.
Then Francis finally appeared. Right off the bat, he jumped into his signature dance moves, and the stage couldn’t hold him for more than 10 minutes before he started climbing a lighting rig, and ended up on top of the giant speakers at the side of the stage. He didn’t bother climbing back down, he just jumped.

Later he climbed up the other lighting rig and maneuvered himself to the balcony with ridiculous ease. I don’t know how he does it, and he must have a hell of a liability insurance policy because if he fell, the best he could hope for would be broken limbs. (These are the thoughts you have at shows when you’re 51.)

Halfway through the set, Chance returned again, to perform “May I Have This Dance” (the song he features on with Francis) and cue everyone losing their shit again. I couldn’t see much (the aforementioned Talls being in full effect) so I put my phone up high and could actually see it better that way. I THOUGHT I was recording, but as the song came to an end I realized I hadn’t hit the button right and the delightful Francis/Chance choreography was lost to history. I’ll be periodically kicking myself until the end of days about that one (which I KNOW is not a big deal and there are a hundred other videos of it that I can watch on Instagram & YouTube, like this one:

But it just put another log on the fire in my head.

After a few more songs I started feeling really sweaty and nauseous, so I worked my way out of the crowd to get some air and shed a few more hyperemotional tears before walking around outside the crowd to the left side of the stage where I watched the rest of the show.

Then it was over, and we made our way out of the sweaty crowd into the cool night air and I felt a little better, but still annoyed at myself that I couldn’t get out of my own head and enjoy it more. Dawn and I walked down the block to Jeni’s Ice Cream and it was still open, so we had ice cream and talked about the show, and babies made of Jell-O, and all the other shows we’re going to see this summer and I felt more like myself again.

Sometimes you just have a bad night, and hopefully no one else can really tell.
Scene report from inside my head

2018 Reading List Update

Currently reading:
Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race by Margot Lee Shetterly
Lovecraft Country by Matt Ruff
They Can’t Kill Us Until They Kill Us by Hanif Abdurraqib

 Read:
Hunger by Roxane Gay
Horns by Joe Hill
The Man in the High Castle by Philip K. Dick
The Last Policeman Trilogy by Ben H. Winters (re-read)
The Alienist by Caleb Carr (re-read)
Who Thought This Was a Good Idea? (And Other Questions You Should Have Answers To When You Work in the White House) by Alyssa Mastromonaco
A Wind in the Door by Madeleine L’Engle
Yes Please by Amy Poehler

I’m kind of slacking on my reading so far this year. . .

2018 Reading List Update

2018 Reading List Update

Currently reading:
Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race by Margot Lee Shetterly
The Alienist by Caleb Carr (re-read)

 Read:
Hunger by Roxane Gay
Horns by Joe Hill
The Man in the High Castle by Philip K. Dick
The Last Policeman Trilogy by Ben H. Winters (re-read)

2018 Reading List Update

In the old days, the phone would ring at some unusual time. Late at night, early in the morning. It would be startling. The news would be bad, whatever it was. Come to the hospital. Meet me at the police station.

But now, you don’t even have luxury of the phone ringing at 3am to brace yourself for the bad news. Last night I was scrolling aimlessly through Facebook, “walking my internet traps”  (huh, he said that once and I loved it so much I stole it.) and the bad news just cold-cocked me right in the face. He’s dead? What? I’d had a few cocktails, so maybe I was reading it wrong. . .  but no. Others were reacting in a similar fashion. I held it together because I was in a Lyft and almost home and maybe it was all some weird mistake.

But it wasn’t. And gradually, bit by bit the truth was revealed and it’s not just death but the worst kind of death, the thing you never want anyone you love to choose.

I say “love” which feels natural, but also strange, because we never met in person. He was one of those people I knew through the zine & comics world, for nearly twenty years, first through the mail, then message boards, then Facebook. He supported my work, and I supported his. He loved music and art and cats and food, and he could write a painfully bad joke better than anyone. Really, just paragraphs of build-up to the absolute WORST puns and now we’ll never get any more of those and it’s heartbreaking. And I’ll probably never know why. Not that I need to know, or am owed any explanation. Life can be hard. He felt a lot of pain. I will never be angry at someone for making that choice. I will be sad. I’ll feel guilty that I didn’t know, or couldn’t help even if I wanted to. I’ll wonder why he felt he couldn’t reach out to someone. Anyone. He would’ve been there for any of his friends when they needed him. I’ve walked up to that edge in my own life, but was always able to back away in time, by whatever grace there is in the world. He had so many people who loved him, but it wasn’t enough. Sometimes you can’t see your way around the pain.

You touched a lot of people. We all miss you, and the world will be poorer without you. We can only hope there is peace, and freedom from the pain.

2017 Reading List – The Final Update

Books read this year:
Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
I Am Legend by Richard Matheson
David Bowie: The Last Interview and Other Conversations
Sipping from the Nile: My Exodus from Egypt
by Jean Naggar
How To Build A Girl by Caitlin Moran
Kindred by Octavia E. Butler
Girl In A Band by Kim Gordon
Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency/The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul by Douglas Adams
The Pope and Mussolini: The Secret History of  Pius XI and the Rise of Fascism in Europe by David I. Kertzer
The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
The Sellout by Paul Beatty
Waiting for the Punch: Words to Live by from the WTF Podcast by Marc Maron and Brendan McDonald
The First Collection of Criticism by a Living Female Rock Critic by Jessica Hopper
Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee: An Indian History of the American West by Dee Brown
The Fat Girl’s Guide to Life by Wendy Shanker
The Awkward Thoughts of W. Kamau Bell by W. Kamau Bell
A Manual for Cleaning Women: Selected Stories by Lucia Berlin
Leaving Mother Lake: A Girlhood At the Edge of the World by Yang Erche Namu and Christine Mathieu
It’s Messy: On Boys, Boobs and Badass Women by Amanda DeCadenet
Gulp: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal by Mary Roach
We Are Never Meeting in Real Life by Samantha Irby
Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri
Shrill: Notes from a Loud Woman by Lindy West

2017 Reading List – The Final Update

2017 Reading List Update

Currently reading:
A Manual for Cleaning Women: Selected Stories by Lucia Berlin
Leaving Mother Lake: A Girlhood At the Edge of the World by Yang Erche Namu and Christine Mathieu
An Innocent Abroad: Life-Changing Trips from 35 Great Writers (will I ever finish this? I dunno.)
Every Body Yoga: Let Go of Fear, Get on the Mat, Love your Body by Jessamyn Stanley (I kinda forgot I was reading this too)

Read:
Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
I Am Legend by Richard Matheson
David Bowie: The Last Interview and Other Conversations
Sipping from the Nile: My Exodus from Egypt
by Jean Naggar
How To Build A Girl by Caitlin Moran
Kindred by Octavia E. Butler
Girl In A Band by Kim Gordon
Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency/The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul by Douglas Adams
The Pope and Mussolini: The Secret History of  Pius XI and the Rise of Fascism in Europe by David I. Kertzer
The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
The Sellout by Paul Beatty
Waiting for the Punch: Words to Live by from the WTF Podcast by Marc Maron and Brendan McDonald
The First Collection of Criticism by a Living Female Rock Critic by Jessica Hopper
Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee: An Indian History of the American West by Dee Brown
The Fat Girl’s Guide to Life by Wendy Shanker
The Awkward Thoughts of W. Kamau Bell by W. Kamau Bell

2017 Reading List Update