Still full of rage and grief, still trying to spend time each day helping make things better in some way. Obviously fascism is here in an even bigger way than before, and America has been getting more and more fascist/authoritarian my whole life. These next few months before the election: how can I do more? In my list-making way, I’ve been keeping a list where each day I have a goal to write down at at least specific action I’ve taken for anti-racism, anti-fascism, and other things to make a better world right now.
Showing up: For most of June and July we spent six weeks out of our routine, showing up and being there for my family who needed us. Everything is extra fraught in the pandemic, a trip that would have been an all day flight turned into a very long drive, with minimal masked and sanitized stops for gas and rest areas and camping. I’ve been trying to fly as little as possible for the last few years. I don't think that it’s not ethical/moral in terms of the climate crisis and I've been really letting that sink in, and then looking at my own choices. Not really having the option to safely fly to be there quickly made me think a lot about how far my home (Seattle) is from family. The Chris Arnande book Dignity talked a lot about the high achieving people from each small town/red state being sold on “escaping” but also losing a lot in the process. I'm thinking of that, but also on the climate impact of choices to live far from family.
Carving: I started carving spoons, and I’ve been enjoying it all so much. It’s meditative for me, figuring out the shapes as they go, working with the grain of the wood and discovering it as I go, making decisions about shape and size. I’ve made four spoons so far, and promptly given each away as a gift. All so beautiful! And a small “river stone”, plus a tiny tray is almost done, and another little dish I just started today. It’s a good quarantine hobby, I think I’ll make many hundreds of spoons and bowls and little things over the years. My dad told me about 600 grit sandpaper and taught me how to use a bandsaw to cut out spoon blanks.
Friendship and community: Mia Birdsong’s How We Show Up was so, so good, and paired well with a book I recommended earlier in the year, Kat Vellos’s We Should Get Together. (Read both! You won’t regret it!) Over the past couple years I’ve been doing a lot thinking of how to show up, how to be in community more and expand and deepen how I’m a part of things. And these books were all about that.
Reading recs wise: I also really got a lot out of Ibram X. Kendi’s How To Be Anti Racist, and Crystal Marie Fleming’s How To Be Less Stupid About Race. It feels like it’s time to reread Marquez’ One Hundred Years of Solitude soon; I tried to read all three books titled Pandemic that were available as ebooks from SPL and it was NOT a worthy endeavor. (The sci-fi one was fun at least!) I read The End of October pandemic thriller, and man, society went down fast in that one. I’m currently reading Deep River, which is just so good.
Listening: The 2004 album The Power Out by Electrelane, particularly the song The Valleys. An obsession. So strange, so good. What is it! I love it! Lots of Jon Prine, Gillian Welch, Neko Case, lots of Andrew Bird. Ray La Montagne’s new MONOVISION, the new The Chicks album Gaslighter. Waxahatchee’s Saint Cloud, Phoebe Bridger’s Punisher. We listened to all of the Floodlines podcast as we drove.
Haircuts: Adam and I gave each other haircuts last month, they look surprisingly great. For a while in 2009-11 ish era, we cut each other’s hair, and compared to that, this is WAY better. The things that have helped in the meantime: cutting out shampoo and using the “curly girl method” plus both getting dry curly/wavy-specific haircuts and understanding that that’s what works for our hair. We watched some videos online about that and then went for it. Seems like we’re back to the cut each other’s hair era again, maybe permanently. My hair dye grow-out is approaching the year mark, and I’m almost done. I’m mostly liking how it looks, with all the white streaks showing up.
Poetry zine: Amy and I collaborated to have ANEMONE publish an edition of her poetry as a zine, poems for covid-19 made a limited run of 25 copies, and it sold out in a few hours. Amazing! We sent ~$190 (all the proceeds minus production costs) to an artist relief grant run by Sister Outsider. It felt good to be batch producing zines again, and I liked using the new stack cutter to trim the edges. More production process notes here. It’s wildly heavy (almost 80 lbs!) and I need to build or scavenge a rolling stand of some sort for it.
Pants + sewing: We’ve also been doing a lot of work together on All Well collaborations: the Studio Pants pattern is getting closer now, after some more rounds of fitting it’s now getting tested by a larger group. I’ve been wearing my blue denim pair a lot, and am working through the testing process now, sewing a natural canvas pair. Two sewing related zines are in the works. We also wrote about our process for developing pattern instructions!
Blog pictures: I spent a while coding and built a new /blog section of my website, with photos and subtitles and pagination! That was fun, still a lot to do on this site, as always. And a new favicon. Next up is probably some different fonts.
Swimming: We’ve been staying home still, taking walks, going to get groceries once every week or two. We swam in Lake Washington, I want to start swimming (in Greenlake?) more regularly. I have an extreme aversion to the bottom of lakes/milfoil seaweed, so I need to figure out a way that doesn’t gross me out to get to the deep water, because I love swimming. Ideally something that is bike-transportable.
Money: we’ve started to formalize a more clear plan for spending on political donations. The last few election years, we’ve been focusing on smaller races (where funding democratic/progressive candidates can make a big difference) and things that we’ve been sending funds to for a while (reproductive justice, anti-racism, mutual-aid). Each year in November we make a budget together, and this year we’re starting to set the amount we allocate to that to 10% of our spending.
RISO: Finally, I’m starting out on a new era: risograph printing. I’m VERY excited. And a bit nervous, big dreams! A lot to learn. But one thing at a time. Printmaking again. Publishing again. Yes!
So, that's a sort of random list of things that I’ve done in the past few months. Nothing that consequential, but a lot of creative things and time outside, trying to make the best of a lot of hard things, and a lot of trying to do things each day and week to create the world I want to live in now.