I don’t like change

Heya,

Immediately after writing the last post, I updated to “improved posting” because Apple has programmed me to obsessively upgrade and then wallow in regret. To the point that it’s almost masochism. Oh, and look, there’s a new update for iOS! Thanks for the info, Apple, I’ll get right on that.

The sad part is, I actually will. I just plugged my phone in. I am on it.

I don’t like improved posting. I mean, it’s like anything, I’ll get used to it. It’s not like I’m being stabbed in the eye with a pointed stick or anything like that. It’s fine. It’s just change. And change is never good. They tell you it is, but they’re wrong.

Oh, look, there’s an option to switch to classic editor.

Let’s do that.

Ah, yes. Now I can languish in my inferior nest and sneer at the newfangled “improvements.”

Actually, what are the improvements…

Okay, this might actually be worthwhile. I’ll get back to you.

Love,

B

Favourite books from undergrad

Heya,

I should really be working on a research essay for one of my classes.

But I am just having so much trouble caring about it. Which is never a good sign. It usually means I’m going to end up writing something weird just to make it fun for me.

I did my undergraduate degree in World Literature. In World Lit, we read a lot of translated books, and a big part of why I was interested in the program was because, while the English department’s reading list was filled with familiar names, World Lit featured a number of authors that I’d never heard of before.

Like any university reading, some of the readings were good. Some of them were exhausting. A handful of them I absolutely loved.

  • Borges. Not an original recommendation, but he is awesome and he deserves a sizable chunk of the praise he gets. A sizable chunk.
  • MAUS: A Survivor’s Tale
  • Khirbet Khizeh by S. Yizhar
  • 69 by Ryu Murakami
  • The Storyteller by Mairo Vargas Llosa
  • Hopscotch by Julio Cortazar
  • The Abandoned Baobob by Ken Bugul
  • The Pickup by Nadine Gordimer
  • Waiting for the Barbarians by J.M. Coetzee
  • Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov

Okay, I should really write that paper.

Love,

B

Boadicea or a toy poodle

Heya,

I’m about five foot, two inches tall. I come from a family of “teeny, tiny women.” Which is what my mom used to say when she worked at the bank and clients were getting mad at her about something she had no control over. “Why are you yelling at me? I’m a teeny, tiny woman. Do you want me to cry? Cause I can’t do anything about the stock market, but I can cry if that’s what you want.” And usually they would calm the fuck down, because they didn’t want to see her cry, they were just being inappropriately angry in her direction.

It’s recently come to my attention that my perception of myself is somewhat askew. I know that I’m short. But I don’t know it. I don’t think I’m overweight or anything like that, but I seem to think of myself as being more physically formidable than I actually am. I was in a play a while ago, and I recently got some stills from it where I was standing with some of the other actors and I think that’s when it struck me that I was not the warrior that I am in my own head. Not physically, at least.

I guess what I’m saying is that I’m the human equivalent of one of those toy poodles that thinks it can boss around the Labs. Because usually I can.

A friend of mine has a theory that people feel more comfortable invading the space of a short person because they don’t find them intimidating. I think it might also be harder to gauge appropriate distance, cause it’s easier to look down at someone than up, so when you get too close to someone who is shorter than you, it isn’t necessary to awkwardly crane your neck to look at them. But maybe it’s a bit of both.

Anyway, it occurred to me that there are things that people do around me that they wouldn’t do if I were as outwardly imposing as I am inwardly. As an example (and most of the reason I’m writing this to begin with), here’s something that happened to me yesterday:

I’d gotten a lone seat on the train, one that looked out the window at the front of the car. This made me pretty happy, since I hurt my foot a few days ago and I’m still not up to a lot of standing. I put in my earbuds and got out my book and started reading.

About a quarter of the way into my trip, someone nudged me. I took out one of my earbuds and looked around. There was a girl, about my age, who’d been pushed back by the rush hour crowd and was now sort of pressed halfway between my seat and the wall.

She saw me looking at her and apologized for bumping me. I said, “No, no worries,” because apparently I’m some kind of hippy these days. And then she said, “Thanks” and sat down on the edge of my seat with me.

And I thought, Okay. I wonder what she thought I said.

Because I’m sometimes an almost crippling degree of Canadian, and because she looked kind of sad, I just sort of budged over a little and kept reading. It didn’t really occur to me that it was odd to share a small seat on the train with a stranger, or for a stranger to feel comfortable doing that, until about halfway through my trip.

I texted a couple of my friends about it, to make sure that it actually was weird, and was told that it was.

And I thought that the absence of real discomfort on my part might be because, despite the fact that in my head I’m Boadicea, I’ve spent my whole life with people treating me like a toy poodle. Without really knowing that’s what they were doing. It’s like when you’re a little kid and you sort of assume that everyone has had the exact same experiences as you, but as you grow you realize how different our individual experiences are. How abnormal your normal is to other people, and vice versa.

And I also thought that what the girl on the train did was the kind of thing I would do. So maybe she was a toy poodle, too. Maybe there’s some signal I’m giving off without realizing it.

I’m not entirely sure if there was ever a conclusion that I wanted to reach with this story, except to tell you one of the weird things that happens to me every now and then.

I overdid it with my hurt foot the other day, so I’m home. (The reason my foot is hurt, by the way, is that I was climbing over some tables, because they were arranged in a semi-circle and I didn’t want to go all the way around. I tripped on something, fell off, and landed hard right on my heel. In support of the “I’m a poodle” theory, when I tell people this story, they seem not at all surprised. The reaction has generally been, “You’ve got to stop climbing stuff. You’re not a cat/child/Spider-man.” Which seems like defeatist thinking, inappropriate for either Boadicea or a toy poodle. So I’m going to continue climbing things.) I may post something that actually has a point later.

If nothing else, you know me better now.

Best,

B

Binge-watching the golden age of television

Heya,

I watched Orange is the New Black on a whim yesterday at my friends house. It was awesome. I’m actually going into a bit of withdrawal from it right now. Because I don’t have Netflix, or money to get a Netflix subscription. I considered camping out in front of her television and binge-watching the whole first season, but since she goes to school in London and will be going back in a few days, I think that maybe her parents wouldn’t be cool with me hermit-ing it up in their house.

Or maybe they’d be totally cool with it. They’re nice people. Still, it would be a little odd, even for me.

This is an amazing time for television. If I didn’t have to take care of my dog and go to school and feed myself (I didn’t realize that was the order of my priorities, but I’m not entirely uncomfortable with it), I could probably happily lose all muscle definition in my entire body from sitting and staring at the TV.

Breaking Bad is over, and the void still looms in my psyche. I’d gotten used to the constant buzz of anticipation while waiting for new episodes of that show.

I wonder if the “Golden Age of Television” as it’s so often called, will transition to books. I mean, in a sense, it has. There are more books being published then ever before. The publishing industry is in a bit of a state, but it seems to me that people are reading more, more widely, and in more varied forms than ever before. There are so many options for getting new books. But the curatorial aspect is kind of lacking. There are so many books, and so many of them are probably good, but it can be really hard to find them because of the vast quantities.

I think that the ease of publishing is a double edged sword. It means that there’s so much possibility for new, interesting works, stories that take risks and don’t necessarily conform to accepted practices as far as storytelling goes. But there are so many people who don’t understand how to tell a story flooding the market. Everyone seems to have written a book lately. And sometimes it seems to have been done with the mistaken assumption that there’s a lot of money in books. Which, generally speaking, there isn’t. Even when a book is a bestseller, it doesn’t even approach the kind of numbers that a Hollywood blockbuster brings in.

I don’t remember where I was going with this.

I really want to watch Breaking Bad all the way through again. Maybe I’ll binge-watch that while I manufacture reasons to go to my friends parents’ house to watch Orange is the New Black on their Netflix.

Love,

B

I will use “they” as a singular pronoun

It’s going to happen. It has entered common usage as a neutral pronoun. Here’s the argument for it, which is the argument I would have made if I could speak articulately about grammar:

Is “They” Acceptable as a Singular Pronoun?

I will link you back to this post if you correct me for using “they” as a singular pronoun.

That is my stance on “they.”

That is all.

Something that I think would be cool but would probably be really complicated

I think it would be cool to do a simultaneous release of a book in different languages with different artists doing the covers and binding and whatnot. Do a limited print release but in various countries, in conjunction with the eBook release. 100 artistically bound books each in Canada, the US, the UK, France, Germany, Argentina, and so on and so forth. And they come with an eBook code, so when you buy these (probably more expensive, let’s be real) print books, you get the eBook, too.

That’s the basic idea. It’s obviously more complicated than it seems. If you want to skip over me babbling about the idea and just comment on the concept, skip down to the comment section.

The easy publication of (immersive) fiction creates the possibility for books to be released worldwide without associated shipping costs and distribution issues. It’s easy to connect with artists around the world through the internet. PayPal and other such systems mean that you can get and give money to wherever from wherever. Sort of.

I love print books. I love the artifact of the book. I’m generally a tactile person; when I shop for clothes, I have to touch them. It’s part of why I’ve never really been an online shopper. If I think a sweater looks nice, I want to be able to touch it.

Because sometimes that’s the only way to tell whether or not it’s going to be itchy.

I like flipping through a book, I like feeling the weight of a book (have you noticed that YA books can be as thick as other books, even having the same page count sometimes, but are way lighter? Do you know why that is? I feel like it’s something to do with the type of paper and the amount of ink per page, but I’m not sure). And in a weird way, I like how battered a book I love looks over time. I like to see it’s poor cracked spine and dog-eared pages, and the notes that I wrote in the margins that I don’t understand because I’m not studying deconstruction anymore and don’t need to remember the difference between “difference” and “diffĂ©rance.”

I like that I have to read A Storm of Swords in chunks because the binding keeps coming unglued and I’ve lost interest in fixing it. And I like that I know that print books aren’t going to become obsolete the way that LaserDisc and Floppy discs did. I’m not going to lose the ability to read them when my system updates, or have to buy a new gadget to let me access them.

Have eyes, can read.

I can also lend them whenever the fuck I want, without having to pay extra for the privilege. And no one can take type in some lines of code and make them disappear.

Sorry. I just have a lot of feelings.

I also really enjoy seeing different editions of books – the different choices that publishers make so that the book will appeal to different cultures. I love the artistry that is possible (but not prevalent) with the print book that isn’t (currently) available across the board with eBooks.

I’d love to see what an artist in Senegal did with the cover of a book compared to what an artist from China or France or Finland did. I’d love to see what kind of idioms a Spanish translator came up with. I’d love to feel French binding. And I’d love for a book to be immediately, internationally available.

Mega-super wishful thinking, right? Right. Massively complicated to organize and fund and gather the funds from, assuming there are funds at all. What’s the sales percentage? How do you manage workflow? Getting a book out on time and on budget is a crazy crapshoot when you can see the person holding up the process five feet away from you eating frozen yoghurt, how will you keep track of people when you’re in different countries? How do rights work in this situation?

No fucking idea. I’m an idea man. I can’t do everything.

Also not a man.

Uncomfortably warm at the back of the class

I sit directly under a projector that produces a low, continuous whine. My prof introduces a freelance editor to talk to us about editing children’s literature. I have not done the readings and I made the mistake of buying hot coffee instead of an iced drink because I forgot that the room I’m in has no windows.

It gets stuffy in here.

I spent the first half of the day doodling variations of a hipster leprechaun. Because a while ago I wanted to buy a pair of green jeans and then thought, “No, then I’ll just be a hipster leprechaun.”

So … yeah, that was the first half of my day.

I’m in the middle of one of those oh-so-common Quarter-Life Crises. Mixed in with a healthy dose of existential crisis. Why am I here, what am I doing, why is she getting married at twenty-two, his Instagram is prettier than mine, what is life?!

Fun times.

That’s my introduction to what this blog will be. Maybe Dusty will say something better.