Monday, February 13, 2017

Do What You Do


I’m through with you,

You winter flu…

I seldom get sick, but this time I did. The winter crud, the winter plague, whatever it was, I got it. I wasn’t sorry to miss some of the ongoing Trump disaster, but I was sorry to miss a local rally for Planned Parenthood and the annual Roosevelt Dinner for the Democratic Party. Sigh… But I kept my spirits up (and down) with favorite movies, To Kill a Mockingbird, Tootsie, Saving Mr. Banks, Mary Poppins, Cloud Atlas, Hot Fuzz. Yes, a weird array.

And now it’s almost Valentine’s Day…which I will be celebrating with another rally, Stand Up for Social Justice, while my husband celebrates by coaching volleyball.

My daughter has written a Valentine column in The VidetteThere is a new Valentine feature at Escape Into Life.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Math Challenged

I often joke that I am "math challenged,"...because I am. Now I am delighted to read and to be in the new issue of Snakeskin, an online poetry magazine in the United Kingdom. It is the Maths and Numbers issue, guest edited by Jessy Randall, poet and librarian.

Jessy also maintains Library Shenanigans, all about...library shenanigans! And she writes poetry comics as well as poems!

My poem, "We Matter," is about math, science, sociology, and counting.

Speaking about libraries, yesterday I participated in an online class on Librarians vs Fake News. You can, too, here at Gail Borden Library. I live streamed the panel discussion and Q&A, but you can still watch it there on YouTube and also see a great list of fact-checking sources.

Speaking of maths and numbers, yay for Hidden Figures at the SAG Awards!

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Women's March

What a thrill it has been to watch live video of the Women's March on Washington, D.C. today. And live video and photos of the sister marches all over the country and the world, even in Antarctica! I saw joyous, strong, peaceful protests everywhere I looked. At noon I was silent, and during a part of the march, I "marched" a 2-mile trek on the local hiking trail, as it is 60 degrees and sunny here in globally warmed central Illinois today, smiling at my fellows humans and dogs. So many friends and strangers were marching in so many cities. Thank you all. And thank you, Shepard Fairey, for these peaceful, hopeful protest posters. And now I'm off to see Hidden Figures, another form of peaceful protest. (I think Hollywood listened.)

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Public Library

I've been reading the short stories and the italicized interstices of Public Library and Other Stories, by Ali Smith. She's the delightfully random writer of The Accidental, about a woman who walks into a house. Ali Smith is in love with words, books, libraries, coincidence, connection, and the imagination. Between the stories, she tells us about the assault on libraries in the United Kingdom, and here is a BBC News article with the current statistics on that. Many libraries were closed, many people lost their jobs (and were replaced by volunteers) and many people lamented the loss of libraries they loved.

In the context of Brexit and post-truth America, I was struck by what writer Sophie Mayer told Smith: "I believe libraries are essential for informed and participatory democracy, and that there is therefore an ideological war on them via cuts and closures, depriving individuals and communities of their right to knowledge and becoming on their own terms." This coincides right now with the fears and worries about the end of democracy in America due to the lack of an informed citizenry.

Smith also includes comments by Richard Popple that coincide with our current concerns for our most vulnerable populations here in the USA. Popple says, "Libraries are, at heart, helpful and kind providers. It is hard for those who perhaps don't feel the need to visit their local libraries to understand what a vital service they provide for communities and individuals who do--and those who do are often the most vulnerable." I feel so lucky both communities in my twin-city home are talking about new libraries, and have already renovated and expanded to fit the changing times and needs, ever since I first used the library and since I first worked in one in my college summers. I hope we never head toward cuts like those in the UK, but these days any bad thing seems possible.

Back to Sophie Mayer, whose list of weapons used by Buffy the Vampire Slayer includes a library card. "Libraries save the world, a lot, but outside the narrative mode of heroism: though contemplative action, anonymously and collectively. For me, the public library is the ideal model of society, the best possible shared space, a community of consent...." I love that, "a community of consent" as a truly participatory democracy. And isn't there a Librarian Superhero yet?! 

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Baklava for Breakfast

It's true that during the holidays, I once had baklava for breakfast. Pistachio baklava from Mid-East Pastry Delight! By chance, that was the day a poet friend asked on Facebook what was the last thing you ate, as that would be the name of your new dog. My new imaginary dog is named Baklava!!

The holidays were a lovely, warm, game-playing, yummy-eating time for family wamily! Yay! Followed (or accompanied) by bitter cold and resumed terror in the world and in American politics. Sigh...

Sometimes I escaped, as I am wont to do, by reading. I read a bunch of nonfiction and a bunch of fiction, and in 2017 I have started a hard-copy reading log in a notebook that looks like a giant yellow library card. (I have socks to match.)

A fascinating coincidence: Harriet Jacobs. I read about her in Trainwreck, by Sady Doyle, and it would seem to me that she is a model for Cora in The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead! They both hid in an attic, as did Anne Frank.

Another coincidence: Rosalind Franklin. I love her because I love the double helix of DNA, and she was an x-ray photographer whose work helped establish the shape and structure of DNA. This winter I'll be working as assistant director on the play Photograph 51 by Anna Ziegler, about the pertinent photograph and the scientist herself, and I am currently reading Hark! A Vagrant, by Kate Beaton, which contains this fabulous cartoon about Rosalind Franklin that sort of encapsulates the play. (Likewise, thanks to Kate Beaton, I don't need to watch the rest of The Borgias television series. But do come see the play Photograph 51 at Heartland Theatre, in April. It is very well written and Franklin's character is a delight. I hope Ziegler and Beaton have talked!) I had already read Step Aside, Pops, another set of Beaton history, literature, & mythology cartoons, because it was available first at the library. And I devoured Swing Time, by Zadie Smith, a favorite writer of mine.

Once I emerge from reading hibernation, I'll be working on behalf of local politics as a Democratic precinct committeeman (person). Because that was one thing I could do after the horror, the horror of the recent election.... And here is my imaginary dog, Baklava.