madmartyr: (Default)



K. Toronto. Mutant and proud.

There is order here. Very faint, very human.
Meander if you want to get to town.
[personal profile] stormkeeper_lovedoris
1. I don't post much about it, but I continue to be politically active. Coming up in the next 6 days I'm going to a meeting of a local LGBT group, and doing canvassing. 

2. Doris and I have dinner with Chris and Heather tonight

3. I think my cold is finally gone, other than a really runny nose. 


Jul. 22nd, 2017 07:18 pm
[personal profile] stormkeeper_lovedoris
Today was awesome! Scrabble and nutella waffles with Ann and Doris! Before that, Doris and I doing a food rescue for the food pantry! And just general hanging with Doris and starting to maybe recover a bit from my cold. Great Saturday!

Strangest Gratitude List Ever

Jul. 21st, 2017 06:49 pm
[personal profile] stormkeeper_lovedoris
1. Just 2 weeks of work till my sabbatical! I know a sane person would be super-excited. I'm not super-excited yet, though maybe that's partially because I'm still sick with this cold (and partially because I do love my job and partially because the horrific political situation in this country puts a damper on everything). But you know, despite sickness and political horrificness, life goes on and I really need to take a few moments to be grateful for something that most people could only dream of - 9 paid weeks off of work.

2. Maybe the last sentence is the real problem here. I feel sad that other people don't have what I have (you know, paid sick days like I took today and paid sabbaticals). 

3. Well then maybe all of this is or should be a reminder to keep working and fighting for the kind of world I want. I will, I will keep on doing so

Not the usual format of the list today but this is what came out when I sat down to type.


Jul. 20th, 2017 03:09 pm
rachelmanija: (It was a monkey!)
[personal profile] rachelmanija

Curious Alex.

Erin, waiting for it.


Jul. 20th, 2017 10:49 am
[personal profile] stormkeeper_lovedoris
Missed a few days of gratitude, so here goes....

I'm coming down with a cold (2 days of airports, airplanes and conferences didn't help), so I am eternally thankful that I have a job where I have paid sick leave, and can sit on the sofa reading Samantha Irby and watching a Netflix comedy special.

I wish everyone on the planet had paid sick days.

Book report

Jul. 19th, 2017 09:52 am
[personal profile] stormkeeper_lovedoris

My rating system:

10 – life-changing, an all-time favorite

5 - average for what I read

1 – terrible; why did I finish it?


A Piece of the World by Christina Baker Kline – This was a wonderful piece of fiction. Based on the painting “Christina’s World” by Andrew Wyeth, the novel tells Christina’s life story. It’s done with sensitivity, with heartbreaking details, and realism. Christina suffers from an unknown illness that makes it hard for her to use her arms and legs, and she struggles with other people’s pity and attitudes. I found it very hard to put down, and even better than “Orphan Train” by the same author. Grade: 8


Hunger by Roxane Gay – How is this book so good? There are many memoirs out there but none like this. There are many books out there about women struggling to deal with the aftermath of rape, struggling to love their bodies and deal with pain, memoirs of people just telling you the truth of their lives and letting you inside their heads. There are many memoirs by people who ultimately do not triumph. But none are really like this. I can’t say quite why Gay’s book is so outstanding, but her writing itself is a cut above the prose in almost any other memoir. There are many gobsmacked reviews on Goodreads, here’s a bit from one of them: “It is not a memoir that asks for our pity, or tries to manipulate the reader, it is simply a woman's truth.” And “I was glued to the pages, completely rapt, as the author used words to create a plethora of emotions and reveal things about the world we live in.” Sorry for quoting from other people’s reviews; I do that when a book is too awesome. Grade: 9

And now, a digression…

Given the above two books, and “Saga” on the last book report, how am I supposed to enjoy any other books now? The struggle is real, nothing’s measuring up now! Here’s a rundown of books I started to read after the above but couldn’t finish.

There was a book about women pirates – well-researched but didn’t hold my interest; it just skipped around from one similar story to another until they kind of all blurred together. A young adult novel about a gay teen – great topic but bogged down with uninteresting details, and the writing (especially the dialog) was embarrassing. A book meant to inspire people to become their own superheroes but was really an excuse for the solipsist author to talk about her amazing self. (Blech).  A book of essays which started out strong, full of incisive observations and strong cultural commentary, but after a few good ones the book got filled with the author’s reviews of books and movies  - books and movies which I’d never seen or read (and most I’d never even heard of), so I just couldn’t relate or see a good reason to keep reading. A work of fiction that involved talking animals, and sorry – I hate talking animals, your book has to be otherwise amazing in order for me to read it if it’s got talking animals.  A work of fiction narrated by a character who is a drug addict – it was immediate, sexy and daring, consisting of mostly brief paragraphs, snippets of her day. Not bad, but again it got very repetitive and plus I knew exactly where it was going and just wanted off that ride.


There are always books that I start but don’t finish; I am the first person to say that life is short and I’m not going to force myself to finish anything I don’t wish to. But dang, I’ve outdone myself lately with giving something the ax if I don’t love it! I guess each book just has too much great competition. And there are more good books below!


Okay, back to the book report. Here was another good one:

I Will Always Write Back by Caitlin Alifirenka, Martin Ganda, and Liz Welch – A true story told in chapters that alternate between Caitlin’s perspective and Martin’s. Caitlin is a well-off young student in the US, and Martin is an impoverished student in Zimbabwe. Both of their schools unroll an optional pen-pal program, they are matched to each other, and develop a friendship through their letters. Although Martin doesn’t write about it directly, it eventually becomes clear that his family is impoverished, his entire country is struggling, and even being able to afford postage to the US is becoming a problem. Caitlin and her family want to help. Definitely a heartwarming story that reminded me that one person can make a difference in this world. Grade: 7


Believe Me by Eddie Izzard – A memoir by the renowned comedian. I loved hearing Eddie’s coming out story (he is trans), but oh man the book needed better editing. It’s way too long and has so many details. (Like a whole chapter about him playing football as a kid. There wasn’t anything special about it. He just played some football when he was a kid. If I ever write a memoir, I won’t include how I took piano lessons as a kid since it didn’t really impact my life that much). Only the obsessed fan will be able to make it through the whole thing.  I also expected a memoir by a comedian to be, well, funnier. I think Rachel Dratch did the perfect comedian memoir: it was hilarious, it was broken down into the most intriguing parts of her life, there’s no filler. So, full disclosure: I didn’t read the entirety of Izzard’s book. But his parts on coming out were good. And as meh as the book was, it did inspire me to YouTube some of his performances and they are great.  Skip the book, re-watch some of Eddie’s performances instead. Grade: 3


Get Well Soon: History’s Worst Plagues and the Heroes Who Fought Them by Jennifer Wright – Another fantastic book! The author makes a very grim topic readable, and truly at times hilarious. And yet it’s full of insight and research and just fascinating stuff about human history that we should know. Did you know that just about 100 years ago, a flu swept the US, killed more Americans than the number who died in the Civil War, no one really knows what caused it, what stopped it, or if it might strike again? And since World War I was going on, journalists were heavily censored and couldn’t even warn people to stay away from public places! Each chapter of the book covers a plague, like the one above – how people handled it, what we should know, just the interesting stuff. And I can’t say again how funny the writing is; I think I’d read anything she wrote. Grade: 9

No mo emails from DW

Jul. 18th, 2017 02:32 pm
[personal profile] stormkeeper_lovedoris
So apparently just like LJ, DW periodically decides to no longer send you emails when you get comments?

My apologies if I miss your comment. 


Jul. 17th, 2017 08:19 pm
[personal profile] stormkeeper_lovedoris
 Lots to be thankful for today. I'm traveling on business so just a few highlights: although I boarded the plane towards the end, there was a little bit of room in the overhead bin for my suitcase. When I got to the hotel even though it was early they let me check in, that was awesome. Got to see my old coworker Jackie who I love and rarely get to see. And I was able to book myself onto an earlier flight home tomorrow. All good stuff!  


Jul. 16th, 2017 03:40 pm
[personal profile] stormkeeper_lovedoris
We've had a really nice Sunday. We decided to explore the Harrison Arts District section of town. It has a sculpture walk thing going on, that was cool. And we ate at a cute outdoor cafe which we had forgotten about; it was pretty and like eating in a garden. There's a (live) theater there that we always meant to go to but never have. They'll have an improv show in September and we decided to plan to go. Funny thing about the Harrison Arts district: it has all these little shops that do the same thing (art galleries, yoga places, boutiques, places that do reiki and massage and similar things, and a couple hair/nail salons). They're all so close to each other and all so similar I have no idea how they stay in business. But in any case, we had a great day.


Jul. 15th, 2017 05:33 pm
[personal profile] stormkeeper_lovedoris
 It's been a lovely Saturday. I got a sweet note in the mail from someone I met via LJ (and we still follow each other here, to this day). The weather was lovely. My food pantry shift and shift at the Dems' table went easy breezy. Doris got home from work relatively early and we ate at a restaurant here in Oak Park that we'd never been to before. It was somewhere between good and excellent. Then we went to a bar across the street that had a rooftop bar. (We're not "bar people" but we were checking it out in advance of Pam and Sean's visit in August). 

PS - I've written about being very down because of all the suffering in the world. There's always been suffering in the world. I do believe that with Trump in office though, everything just feels worse. That's part of what is just making everything feel more acute. 


Jul. 14th, 2017 03:41 pm
[personal profile] stormkeeper_lovedoris
1. The weekend is here! Nothing too big planned: food pantry volunteering and them Dems' table at the farmers' market on Saturday. Doris is working, and then we'll go out to eat. Sunday we're doing dinner with Chris and Heather. 

And - I want to write about other things but I feel bad writing them. Like how I listened to a story on NPR about life in Haiti and how I feel grateful I don't live there and how much I hate the suffering on this planet. And don't get me started on the climate change article I read. It makes me glad that I am not any younger. Writing about this juxtaposed with the above feels so weird. I wish this planet got a "do over" and could go back 40 years and fix things. I'm so happy with my life now and so fearful that the entire planet will be a nightmare in a few decades.

I suppose I need to write about this stuff, as depressing as it is.
rachelmanija: (Book Fix)
[personal profile] rachelmanija
I have obtained this from a free library (one of those little birdhouse things in my neighborhood.) It's a collection of short stories.

I love Stephen King but not his propensity for grossouts or body horror. In fact, I shied off his short stories after reading two Ultimate Body Horror Grossout stories, "The Cat From Hell" and that goddamn story about the surgeon stranded on a desert island UGH UGH UGH.

Given that, which of these should I read, and which should I avoid? I'm OK with scary and with violence that isn't revoltingly graphic.

Dolan's cadillac
The end of the whole mess
Suffer the little children
The night flier
It grows on you
Chattery teeth
The moving finger
You know they got a hell of a band
Home delivery
Rainy season
My pretty pony
Sorry, right number
The ten o'clock people
Crouch end
The house on Maple Street
The fifth quarter
The doctor's case
Umney's last chance
Head down
Brooklyn August.


Jul. 13th, 2017 06:27 pm
[personal profile] stormkeeper_lovedoris
1. Today was as lovely as I'd hoped! I got to work from home and Doris NEVER works from home, but she did it today due to road flooding. We had "couple time", we (mostly she) cooked, we watched Supergirl. Nice day; Thursdays are never this good. 

2. Speaking of which, I continue to be happy and surprised that Supergirl has gotten so much better than it was at first. 

3. Work is good


Jul. 12th, 2017 05:26 pm
[personal profile] stormkeeper_lovedoris
1. As always, not much politically to be thankful for but I did listen to a good story on NPR about how Republicans are worried and Trump's approval rating remains low.

2. There was bad flooding up north where Doris's office is, and fortunately she and her staff are all ok. 

3. And because rains continue, she has to have her office closed tomorrow too. I'm working from home tomorrow. So we get a day tougher in the middle of the week!


Jul. 11th, 2017 06:07 pm
[personal profile] stormkeeper_lovedoris
 Nothing too exciting happened today so I will just be glad for my education and for the family I was raised in.

Chasing the Scream, by Johann Hari

Jul. 10th, 2017 01:48 pm
rachelmanija: (Book Fix)
[personal profile] rachelmanija
A readable, gripping, informative, and convincing report on the War On Drugs. Hari covers its despicable history starting in the 1930s (created by a sort of coalition of racist politicians and gangsters eager to profit), its horrific results (millions of murders, overdoses, and lives needlessly destroyed), the actual science and psychology of addiction (not what we're told, at least in the US), and a portrait of the few places that have been able to try decriminalization and legalization, despite massive pressure not to do so (their drug problems universally get better, not worse.)

I knew the broad outlines of this story, but not the details, so this book was very educational for me. The part I knew best was about how addiction really works; I can't vouch for the rest of the material, but everything he said about research on addiction matches what I know. I have some arguments or different perspectives on some of his conclusions, but not with his facts. So even if you know a fair amount about the subject already, it's still very much worth reading.

I highly recommend this if you can deal with absolutely horrific stuff in the first half, which is about the War On Drugs and is wall-to-wall hideous injustices, tragic deaths, and gruesome violence. If not, you could just read the second half, which is about addiction and how a few places are dealing with drugs in a compassionate and sane manner.

Chasing the Scream: The First and Last Days of the War on Drugs