october 2018 books

i missed the turning of the months again, this time because i do not refuse trips to ikea. i found out after i was laden down with frozen meatballs and wooden hangers that i had the wrong bus pass, and the charitable driver of the #47 detour bus took me to queen and sufferin (when, oh when, will you be constructed, once and for all?!)- bless his heart. i also missed a hold for the first time in a very long time, but i managed to get it while it was still on the premises, even though i will pay the $1 fine because the library needs to make money somehow.

here are the books:

1) Lust & Wonder-Augusten Burroughs i didn’t know about this one, but discovered it on library tour. while i do not obsessively buy jewels, i can identify with spending money on pretty things when you don’t really have it-i think it’s a bit of a coping mechanism, but also a bit of a “fuck you” to the world for daring to insinuate that we cannot do anything that we do not want to. i also think it’s an important one, timing wise, because it deals with getting out of a long relationship that is no longer working.
*update, upon consulting an ancient reading list, i found out that i did know about this one, as i wrote a note to myself to read it-well, done.

2) Happily Ali After-Ali Wentworth more of the same-palatable bites of funny-kind of like this blog (when i’m not angry or frustrated with the patriarchy/white supremacy). but the kind of book that i could write…

3) Kiss the Girls and Make Them Cry-Brittani Williams walking with a dear friend the other day, she commented that it was hard to find a female hotep, to which i replied, “erykah badu”. sometimes you just want to read some fifty shades of heeeyyyyy. i found this on the library tour, and read it on the way uptown to my first thanksgiving of the season. it’s mostly terrible, but compelling enough. i was wondering if this was really a man writing as a woman, because i’m not sure if the multiple orgasms of the female characters are aspirational or delusional. i would like to meet the women who come like this-but i guess that’s the point of “mr. orgasm”, this mythical creature who fucks the shit out of you, but also holds you and is presented as the hero that rescues the 22-year old “good girl” after drake‘s own heart, who doesn’t have any problems with the fact that he is a legit ho that has also fucked her mama. also-how do we ignore the huge plot hole that the evil mother character was also responding to her husband fucking the dancers? i’m not gonna lie-i did go put everything else this author has written in our public library system, i can’t hate, i appreciate.

4) Ali in Wonderland-Ali Wentworth sometimes, when i decide to read someone’s entire catalogue all at once, i set myself up for disappointment. in this case, that was not true at all. although i have read them all in a short time frame, this one made me clutch my pearls, repeatedly, and chronologically, i think it was the first one that she wrote and the last one that i read. i am reminded that i could get this kind of book deal, and it wouldn’t suck.

5) Food-A Love Story-Jim Gaffigan although he credits his wife many times in the book as co-writer, she doesn’t actually get billing here. maybe that’s the publisher, maybe that’s the patriarchy. either way, this is charming in a kind of alarming way-i mean, i feel like it’s a bit irresponsible to eat like this and also have five children-is he trying to die young? and if so, he has no knowledge of how to cook to pass on to them so they can fend for themselves. and forgive me, but i don’t think dood is that well-known or doing this well that he can be out here, all casual, slowly killing himself with food. but the part about individual ketchup packets was comedy gold.

6) I’m Down-Mishna Wolff i completely judged this book by its cover. (google the cover, i’ll wait). i got it on my last day of the library tour, when i walked into an otherwise quiet jane/sheppard library to a woman behind the desk (i don’t know if she was a librarian or not, so i don’t want to give her more credit than she deserves) yelling at a young boy about how he could not get a library card because he didn’t have a proof of address. he was probably 15. and black. now, imagine the optics (and PR nightmare) of a representative of the library acting like this young man was making trouble because he wanted (heaven forbid) a library card. she was full out aggressively yelling at him, and he was not reacting at all. correct me if i’m wrong, but you can get a library card if you live in a hostel, so i’m not sure what the problem was. and kudos to him for coming back and trying again, because i certainly would not have. but i know who i am and i have a library card. eventually, she came around and allowed him to have a temporary card, with the caveat that he could borrow one thing at a time. maybe she was just having a bad day, or maybe she was an ignorant cunt who is absolutely in the wrong job. who knows.

7) Happy If You Know It-With/out Pretend this was a loaner that came out of our crystals x spirits x basketball ceremony and i’m so glad that i experienced it. what does it mean to trust our intuition?

8) The Door-Margaret Atwood i usually don’t gravitate towards her poems, but it’s a slim volume that was filed with some other autobiographical items so i grabbed it. nothing much stood out, but i did not read any aloud, as i finished it while i was (once again) ghosted by a child at the library one tuesday night.

9) The Paris Review 225 hilton als and kiese laymon, swoon.* i love the northern district library for being
the only branch that i know of that has this lovely collection. i dipped in to kill some time and switch out reading materials on the way uptown for delicious foods, after falling off a mechanical bull, and also cozied up in a corner to oogle my new mini lipsticks (which i have opted for instead of therapy for the time being).

10) Negotiating With the Dead-Margaret Atwood i love reading writers’ writing about writing. (when i love their writing) although, steven king‘s book in this vein was great even though i don’t love all of his writing all of the time-i do love that he is a reader, i love that very much. this somehow brings me to the final performance last night of the puppets that rose from concrete cabaret about not being original, and not having to be. to be popular is to be relatable, and that’s not a terrible thing. there’s enough rights for everyone, thank you-alice bag* (let this be a reminder that i want to read her book, but tpl doesn’t currently carry it, i may request that we get it). really, thank you, couch wisdom podcast for introducing me to alice bag on sunday when i went for a long walk along the water in which i saw snowflakes and got a local sugar baby watermelon at the farmers’ market (WHAT SEASON ARE WE IN? HOW CAN PEOPLE STILL DENY CLIMATE CHANGE?) here’s a pull-quote for the ages:

“Nobody hates writers more than writers do. The most vicious and contemptuous portraits of writers, both as individuals and as types, appear in books written by writers themselves. Nobody loves them more, either. Megalomania and paranoia share the writer’s mirror.” (87)

11) You’ll Grow Out of It-Jessi Klein i will start with the pull quote on this one:

“I was a woman sobbing in a hotel corridor, which is kind of incredible, because when I was little I thought I was going to be a senator.” (148)

because of the wealth of library resources available at my fingertips, i have forgotten how this one came upon my radar. i do know that i did not put it on hold, but grabbed it when i came face to face with it on library tour, most probably at the problematic jane/shep branch. i am further inspired to write a book in this vein, and very much enjoyed the audible guffaws that this book brought me.

12) The Lost Girls of Camp Forevermore-Kim Fu this one was a great find on the library tour (thank you, amesbury park). it also brought up some interesting conversation at wine wars with a close stander of a dood who was trying to hit on his date’s friends/make a case for his belief in rigid gender “rules”, but it was an interesting take on what a “female lord of the flies” would be. later that evening, i had an almost 6-hour commute home and had to tell yet another man, “this is how we die”. penis people-stop asking women “where do you live?” like the stakes are the same for us. ok? please and thank you.

13) Carl Weber’s Kingpins Philadelphia-Brittani Williams oh boy. what a rabbit hole i have gone down now. this entire category of cliterature that i wouldn’t even have been aware of if i had not gone on library tour, i am now low-key hooked. the writing is terrible, the scenarios are cookie-cutter, but i love it like i love lee daniels’ star. this one got a bit weird and preachy, using the HIV revenge scenario as a justifiable plot-line, but i am now equipped with the works of other authors, not just the “veteran” brittani williams. yesterday, i found two copies of toni morrison’s the bluest eye filed amongst the “urban lit”, and i’m still trying to figure out whether it was clever marketing, or the most hilarious mistake ever.

14) A Man Without A Country-Kurt Vonnegut can you believe this is the first one? i was inspired last month by an avid vonnegut reader that i met at the content canada conference, and was delighted that this was so palatable and snappy. it’s fitting that i read it on a leg of the library tour (stamp edition) as the pull quote i have is: “The America I loved still exists at the front desks of our public libraries.” (103) though published in 2005, this book is every bit as relevant (if not more) today.

special shoutout to adbusters magazine-i was able to catch up with you a bit thanks to the subscription at the gerrard/ashdale libray.

it’s the end of an era, my last metropass in this city was this month. allegedly, there is a pending canada post strike, but i feel like it’s just a way to get people onto team presto. good thing i got a free card on the day of the home opener.


journal mine #11

overheard earlier at the maria schuka library:

“gentlemen, there are two voices that i can hear loud and clear from upstairs”

“is it mine?”

i had an unexpectedly free writing sunday and decided to sleep in and fill in another page of my new library tour log. i conducted all of my writing sunday business (crosswords, poetry mashup, journal mine) in the ambiance of what sounded like 66 adolescent boys who took the above observation as a challenge to escalate their voices over each other.

today’s “journal”: an awkwardly thin brown notebook of waterproof paper that is a little less than a quarter full.
date range: april 26, 2010-august 10, 2010

i kept writing “the office” and it took me a minute to figure out that this was the room that i converted at the greek grandparents’ house after i kicked out the toxic accordion player. it’s funny to me how i thought i was going to move to new york (the dream was waning), that i was done with customer service (ha! as if!), and that my exit plan was to run away and write porn.

i was writing, performing, and stressing about money-and the dates put me right before i got the job at the store. i was definitely on the cusp of a lot of things.

here are some highlights:

“every time i make a decision motivated by money, i buy myself a life lesson more than anything else.”

“my financial situation is the latest in the unlearning that i have to do, and will be my next marker of success once i work that out.”

and i can count many money goals achieved in a relatively short time-it gives me hope for my exercise and relationship goals, lol.

“Beloved-before you beat yourself up, remember that it’s an invitation to others to do the same”-Iyanla Vanzaant

well, well. full disclosure-i haven’t kept up since the oprah partnership-though the read keeps me up on any pertinent fix my life, but i’ll ever be great-full for yesterday, i cried.

“…that the desperation of absolute passion is also not the way to go-the experience of being pregnant and then not decided once and for all that i will not have any babies but i will raise more than my share, that living space is important and vital-creating a home is always worth it, and not letting any old riff raff in is impertative…”

“i am also going to do my best to stop chasing ghosts”

some formulas and squad goals are good enough to keep trying until they’re proven correct

“i’m cool getting my groove back-caulder nash and dahlak braithwaite-i see those 20-year olds who won’t be having my babies in a decade (baby)”

hahahahahahahahahahhahahaha! i love this! it’s hilarious and clearly before i actually dated someone 8 years younger than me. for the record, my new vision is getting married at 50 or the golden girls house. with baby raccoons.

ok, i’m finally allowed to go to the barbecue!

burn-dir.tom putnam & brenna sanchez

“i just don’t know when we became the enemy-the firefighters, the police, the teachers-people who are trying to make a difference”

they say rome wasn’t burnt in a day. i’ll admit that throughout my life-i have focused very intently on the facts that i’ve cared about, and have let way too many slide to the wayside due to a complete lack of interest (like somehow the thunder making it to the finals in 2012 was news to me a few nights ago).

i will never forget learning in film studies almost a decade ago that “film is either a reflection of society, or a projection of what we want society to be”. i’ve thought a lot about this for a long time. i think the whole fascination with vampires has been about our fear of aging and/or making it ok for hundred-year old men to deflower teenage girls-same difference. and there has been a movement in the last few years to watch shows about scrappy times of the past (game of thrones, hell on wheels, spartacus, etc.) and i think this has to do with our current fascination with empires (hell, even empire or power can be contemporary examples of the same topic) but i’ve always been much more focused on how little we have learned from history, and how it cycles back.

basically-why watch people in manky furs dismantle each other in olde english, when we have access to so many crumbling empires so close to us? the rust belt, isa or any of our indigenous communities, north america is a nightmare that we can’t wake up from, and we don’t have to wait hundreds of years to watch it. i guess the separation factor, or the more pretentious “look how far we’ve become”, or the ever-curious camel back’s breaking straw factor “watch how quickly we can revert to this” makes it more appealing to keep our entertainment in history because acknowledging the present would mean that we would have to do something.

“why wouldn’t you want to do something to help the community you live in?”

“it’s like katrina without the hurricane”

i’d like to pair this doc with charlie leduff’s detroit-an american autopsy
, and shout him out for all the interesting work that he’s done on the topic of crumbling, failing, non-glamourous america. for everyone who quickly brushes off all our southern cousins with the same brush-here is where you can find the true beauty.

before you know it-dir.pj ravel

“it’s important to like yourself. when i was younger, i didn’t like myself”

on my last library binge before i left town last, i picked this up at the danforth/coxwell branch. i guess i didn’t read the jacket fully, but i’m glad i got it. it’s a beauty-full and tragic story of bravery, not being a shrinking violet, and the universal feeling of wanting (to be) love(d).

i cringed a little when it was really clear that the wedding planner really wanted to be married himself, and not just witnessing. it sucks when people are involved with folks who don’t want the same things as they do-whether that be marriage, kids, living together, or coffee in the mornings-ok, that last one isn’t as tragic.

i guess it’s sad to see evidence of the fact that things don’t get any easier as you get older…in fact, you can take your issues to the grave-yikes.

what’s love got to do with it?

“i’m ike, turner, turn up, baby no i don’t play, now eat the cake annie mae, eat the cake, annie mae, i’m nice…”

“in 1971 they could get away with it, but now in 2012, they can’t”

i watched what’s love got to do with it for the first time this morning and can cried at the ramada inn scene. i wondered if we’ve moved past the time when an ike turner would be tolerated for so long, and while we’d like to think that things have changed (we always do), there was no public outcry about the above bullshit jay-z lyric a few years back.

i made to the library’s presentation of trick or treaty tonight and i cried at the similarities of public and private helplessness, as well as those of private and public triumph and healing. i also had exactly two dollars in my wallet to donate to the day of giving-woot!

now, i’m bookending with angela bassett in betty and coretta (thanks, branch #100) and it’s interesting how things come full circle. bassett is playing coretta this time (with malik yoba as martinny undercover to birmingham), after already having played betty (twice), as well as biggie’s mom, michelle obama (on the simpsons), rosa parks, and michael jackson’s mom, amongst many, many other roles.

it’s the tina turner role, though, that’s most significant as of late, as she was up against whitney and janet for the role (what a different movie it could’ve been!) and she was behind the recent whitney biopic, and both of them ended in the same way, with the singer in a triumphant moment on stage.

angela bassett‘s career is a historical feat in itself, and she has also managed to interweave her career in history, in that forest gump kind of way.

and how is mary j. blige‘s skin still so flawless, tho?

library tour-do or die

“please don’t die”

i have to get a driver’s license at some point, but i must acknowledge all the places my feet have gotten me in my better part of four decades. sometimes, it takes walking a place, or past it, seventeen times before i really see it. like the 4052nd time (sometimes in a row) that i listen to a song. i had a moment like this today when i passed a graphic of a flamingo wearing a headdress and wanted to take a picture of it, but didn’t because my instinct was that it was appropriative. a culturally entitled tropical bird, yikes.

today was the first time that i’ve really walked brooklyn. i haven’t spent that much time here over the years, and while that will obviously change over the next little bit, today was the first time that i was alone to explore while mister was at work.

my first stop, obviously, was dough. i admit that i’ve caught the donut fever as of late, and even though i enjoyed the hospitality of a free donut for not being in a rush, i have to say that glory hole is winning so far. i look forward to this judging this ongoing competition as long as i don’t have diabetes.

i got my steps in as i visited four libraries today in the area-first was the bedford branch, and i even resisted popping into the popeye’s for their fine iced tea. next up was the brower park branch, which was sadly closed-whomp whomp. the marcy library has beauty-full blue stained glass windows, and i like the open concepts that i’ve seen so far. the clinton hill library followed in this vein, and also featured a nice children’s area, but it had a smell of adolescent male (you know, that sweaty smell with the tinge of pee) and a young boy was repeatedly singing the hook to a song that i’m sure is popular, but i don’t know it and didn’t want to learn it so i had to bounce.

it was a beauty-full walk home (to the apartment that is also missing a stepladder) and i put on my writing outfit and flashed back to when i would do this for a living-to succeed at about the same rate-two blog posts, lots of duolingo translation, and beating three levels of candy crush. what is life if not to revisit the past, celebrate that in some ways we’ll never go back, and growing into all the things about you that will never change.

guts-kristen johnston

the endless follies and tiny triumphs of a giant disaster

“So, many years ago, before I even got sober, I managed to stop lying to guys (except about my drug and alcohol consumption). Here’s the truth: I hate football, and I will never, ever care about it. Sorry. You enjoy, though.” (143)

riiight? i try with the footballs, i really do. i even played football in high school, though it wasn’t anything like friday night lights. but for the efforts-i have no idea what’s happening. and i really can’t be down with a sport where the average career is three years, and people get so busted that they kill themselves rather than live with brain damage when they’re used up. and i suppose it’s fitting that i’m writing this while watching straight acting-a story about queers and sports, which is worth a look if your library has it (yea, mine!) or you can get it on the netflix.

“She only had two minor drawbacks. She was dumb as a box of hammers and mean as a snake.” (46)

i’ve walked past this book and even picked it up a few times at my local branch, and i am seduced every time by amy sedaris‘ recommendation on the cover. actually, the cover itself is sexy as all fuck. i know you’re not supposed to judge a book by its cover, but hey-i do it. you do it. we all do it, that’s why the adage had to be invented. sheesh.

but it’s a quick read, as most of these funny lady memoir-ish books that i’ve read as of late have been. note: it’s exactly the kind of book i am writing, form tba. it was the perfect companion on my recent 24hr trip to new york, and i’m glad it exists. bigups to all the bullies and people who make things hard. life is always better when you have to earn it.