ice cream cake edition
It's not been a great week for American educators and librarians (and I highly recommend following Kelly Jensen's work at Book Riot if you care about this stuff at all). I can't stress enough that at this point it's not the occasional foaming-at-the-mouth homophobe showing up at a school board meeting or even obnoxiously extensive copy-paste complaints from astroturfed organizations that function as a sort of meatspace DDOS attack. It's state and local government weighing in now, and institutions capitulating, and it's terrifying.
I was dealing with something related today at work and my spouse was texting me innocuous text messages about picking up our ancient poodle mix. I swear, glancing down at my phone and just seeing the word "groomer," even in a completely innocent and known context, skyrocketed my heart rate.
Please show up where and when you can, and don't take any shit.
I did get my story in for a contest I was working toward at the last possible minute. It wound up being almost exactly 5,000 words long and involved a lot of fight choreography, which I'm admittedly not great at. I wish I'd given myself enough time to send it out for a beta read and/or to give it a weeklong rest, which seems to be the magic interval for me. But if it doesn't place, at least I can edit it, go begging for feedback, and find another place to submit it later. And if it does place, then Yahtzee!
I'm really trying to keep the momentum going with my writing, even though all the wheels are falling off my work life. Deadlines and specific projects help. So, I think I'm going to set a seven-day flash challenge for myself. The idea is to crank out one flash piece per day, Sunday through Saturday of next week. It doesn't have to be good, it just has to be complete. Wish me luck on that.
You know what I would really like to write? A novel. You know what seems absolutely impossible given the constraints on my life right now? (and sure, fair enough, you know what sounds like one more excuse not to do the thing?)
But for now, at least I have a plan to write something, and so we'll see what happens.
I haven't been able to read nearly as much as I would have liked this week, but I did finish Kathleen Palm's excellent middle-grade novel Into the Gray. This book was a horror-inflected portal fantasy (YES PLEASE), and also gave me quite a bit to think about as a parent. The main character Ember puts herself under so much pressure to make sure things are okay. I think grownups forget just how deeply kids live in the same world that we do, and they react to our relentless insistence that everything is fine, even when we all know it isn't. Into the Gray was such a beautiful and empathetic story that reminded me how important it is to make space for the parts of life that hurt.
I've also started Erika Wurth's White Horse, and I'm listening to Darcie Little Badger's A Snake Falls to the Earth, both of which are delights so far.
We watched an episode of Haunted on Netflix, hoping for a callback to paranormal reality shows we used to watch on a questionable satellite connection in our tiny dorm room in China a million years ago. I'm really sorry to report that the experience wasn't quite the same. The production values were a little too high, or I'm too old, or something. We also tried Shrinking, which is perhaps the worst on-screen representation of therapy that I've ever seen, and bailed pretty quickly. So, not much to report here, except that The Last of Us continues to be great and Abbott Elementary continues to be a balm.
Okay, the highlight of my week: after an anticipated but hugely stressful development at work turned my brain into a bowl of spaghetti, I stopped by a fancy ice cream shop on the way home and bought myself a whole ice cream cake. Sure, I had them write my daughter's name on it in pink frosting (she'd had a track meet that day), but my primary motivation was completely selfish. In that moment I just needed a fucking ice cream cake. I need a lot of things I can't have right now, but I would like my gold star for at least properly handling dessert like an adult who is actually three nine-year-olds in a trench coat.
I also have a new cape sundew baby! I'm a little worried that she isn't getting enough light, because her dew has disappeared, but hopefully a few days of recovery after the stress of being in the mail will perk her up.
I've always been a pet person and not a plant person, but I may be moving into a new phase of life. We're at the lowest mammal population level in the house that we've had since 2009, and for once I'm truly not looking to expand there. But my carnivorous plant project has been oddly satisfying—they don't need much at all from me, and they don't mind if I'm just intellectually interested in them without being able to commit the emotional resources to an actual relationship.
So yeah, halfway through my life, I guess I've finally figured out how to appreciate plants.
Love you all. Take care of yourselves and enjoy the weekend.