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2017-02-13 10:46 pm

Lewis, John, Andrew Aydin, and Nate Powell - March, vol. 1-3

This is John Lewis' memoir of his time in SNCC during the Civil Rights Movement, co-written with Andrew Aydin and illustrated by Nate Powell.

It begins with Lewis preparing for the 2009 inauguration, and the contrast between that and the 1960s Jim Crow era was probably much more uplifting just a few months ago. As things are today, the book feels more necessary than ever. It's not as though the work stopped after the Voting Rights Act, after Obama's election, after anything, but there is so much more of it now.

Part of me wishes I had at least one experience of reading this before the election, with Obama still president, because those flashes to his inauguration in the comic, the hope that is so tangible, all of it is painful to read now.

I've known the general story of the Civil Rights Movement for almost as long as I can remember, having grown up reading those Scholastic biographies of Martin Luther King, Jr. And I've learned much more about it later on, from how much community organization was going on to the many different groups and philosophies involved. That said, I found this comic to be a valuable addition, particularly the first-person narrative and the way the black-and-white illustrations grab you.

The three volumes cover all the big points up through the signing of the Voting Rights Act, from the lunch counter sit-ins to the bus boycotts to Freedom Summer and Selma and the March on Washington, but it's the little details within the big moments that make the comic so good. Ones that particularly struck me were the students who couldn't make it through the nonviolence training or the fear of being killed—I feel it's always so easy for people to say, "If I were there, I would have marched or protested or volunteered," but to be honest, I'm not sure I would have been brave enough, particularly as a college student. The stories of all the people who were killed while helping are pretty chilling, and I'm glad that the authors and artist make it very clear how dangerous it was and how the activists there didn't know if they would make it through or not.

Other moments: one of the people running the lunch counters shutting it down and fumigating it with the protesters still inside; the ways people still resisted even while they were in jail; how the activists set up check ins; and through it all, just how violent the pushback was to every single tiny step. I keep returning to that after reading all the justifications for police violence on the protesters today and how quickly just saying "no" becomes a reason to beat you down. It's not that I didn't know, but seeing it illustrated brings it home in a very particular way.

My one complaint is that I wish Lewis had gone more into how the movement started to splinter, how some people began to advocate for physically fighting back, or the increasing divide between SNCC and the SCLC and other organizations. Lewis hews to his nonviolent philosophy here while also trying to portray other people's points of view without demonizing them. I think his attempt to walk the line of upholding nonviolent resistance without condemning those who thought he sold out makes those parts a little too abstract; without the dialogue and arguments and examples of what happened in those clashes of philosophy, much of the power of the comic is lost.

I also wish he had gone into more detail because I would have found it extremely helpful for right now, when it feels like there's a different answer or strategy every day, and as a roadmap for making change with a large coalition of groups who frequently don't see eye to eye.

All in all, very worth reading, and I only wish it were longer and had more details about how to deal with splintering coalitions.
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2017-02-13 09:38 pm

[Politics]

I feel like I basically got nothing done in January because I was sick through most of it--one of those awful colds where you just keep coughing and coughing and not getting any rest because you're coughing so much. Thankfully, it's now gone.

Questions re: calling your members of Congress: Does it matter if you call during business hours, or is voicemail left after hours okay? And if they've already made a statement on something, is there a point to calling about that issue?

I have also started doing stuff for one of my local Indivisible groups \o/! I still need to look into more cybersecurity stuff as well. And I am doing that thing where I am reading way too much news. Some of it is necessary for volunteer work, and some of it is useful for work, but I really do not need to be refreshing five sites all the time, along with my personal social media accounts. I tried setting up something like Flipboard or another aggregator, but it feels a bit disorienting. I like being on the news provider's website and getting a better sense of their style and what they report on and etc. I suppose once I've figured it out for many sites, the aggregator will make more sense.
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2017-01-29 12:58 am

(no subject)

Does anyone know if any California representatives or the governor were at SFO today? I think I saw Scott Weiner but as of the last time I checked, didn't see any statement or anything from Jerry Brown.
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2017-01-21 02:47 pm

[politics]

I'm going to be posting anti-Trump stuff under the tag "potatoes of defiance" (thank you Terry Pratchett!) for anyone who wants to filter it out.

Anyway, I finally managed to set up a few recurring donations yesterday and am deciding what to do with the rest of the money I've budgeted for donations. And I made my first call to my Congressperson. It went to voicemail, and I stuttered a bit, and I don't even know if it was helpful, but at least that was a start!

Also waving a fist in solidarity to everyone going out to march today. CB is out there, but my cold has triggered my asthma so I'm not =(. The pictures of people around the world protesting are great though.

And as an FYI, I've stopped crossposting to LJ and am still debating over deleting all my posts there and/or my account.
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2016-12-12 09:26 pm

(no subject)

Does anyone have good recommendations for "one action a day/week to oppose Trump" sites/mailing lists/other? I saw several right after the election but didn't note them down. Bonus points for ones that have helpful actions for someone living in a very Democratic-leaning state with Democrat elected officials (San Francisco, CA).
oyceter: (bleach parakeet of doom!)
2015-09-29 11:17 pm

Quick recs

First, I am sure everyone has heard about this by now, but just in case you haven't or have but didn't check it out yet: Hamilton Original Cast Recording Spotify playlist (or if Spotify doesn't work for you, YouTube). I've been dying to see or listen to this musical since I heard about it a few weeks ago, and now that the soundtrack is out, I can at least listen to it. Lin-Manuel Miranda's mix of hip hop and Broadway and other pastiches (the BritPop!) is amazing, and it reminded me of the excitement of listening to Rent for the first time in the 90s after only having heard Andrew Lloyd Webber and Les Mis. The recitative bits sounds a little like Rent to me, but other than that, Hamilton is entirely its own thing. Also, Thomas Jefferson sports natural hair and purple velvet.

I also saw East Side Sushi over the weekend, a cute indie film about a Latina woman who gets a job in a sushi restaurant and decides to become a sushi chef. The plot is pretty much what you would expect—opposition from her more traditional father, racism and sexism from the Japanese owner, a competition where she Proves Herself—and it sometimes felt a little clunky, but it's extremely charming and features Mexican-Japanese fusion food. It's also filmed in Oakland by a local director, so I got a ton of enjoyment out of seeing familiar places on screen as well.

And I (FINALLY) played through Hatoful Boyfriend, aka the pigeon dating sim, thanks to [personal profile] bluerabbit. Although to be accurate, it's more a piece of post-apocalyptic science fiction masquerading as a pigeon dating sim, which was not what I was expecting. Also, you date pigeons (and other birds). If this interests you and you're generally not into video games, I'd give this a try. It's a visual novel, so there's not that much game play involved aside from making some decisions about who to talk to and etc., and it's worth it to go through all the storylines.

I also mean to rec N.K. Jemisin's The Fifth Season and Zen Cho's Sorceror to the Crown, but I am still holding out hope that I will write actual entries on them.
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2015-08-31 10:07 pm

Orange Is the New Black, 1x01-3x13

It's good I've heard so much good stuff about this from various people I trust, because otherwise I would have never made it past episode three and missed out. It is sad that Jenji Kohan felt that she needed to use white, blonde, upper-middle-class Piper as a kind of Trojan horse to get people to watch something primarily about women not seen on TV as often—queer women, women of color, women of various body types, trans women, old women, etc.—but I don't doubt its true.

(On a side note, I love how we've finally gotten a few shows with POC in leading roles and already there have been concern troll-y "But what about the white men?!" articles.)

Anyway, once the episodes stopped focusing on Piper, I started liking the show much more.

Spoilers got time )

Also, the opening song is the best.
oyceter: Stack of books with text "mmm... books!" (mmm books)
2015-08-20 12:38 am

Lerner, Rose - multiple books

I've been hearing about Rose Lerner for a while, but I didn't particularly enjoy the first book of hers that I read (A Lily Among Thorns), so I didn't try any of her others until now. (I have been marathoning Parks and Recreation and wanted something that felt like the main romance in the show, and suddenly remembered Lerner!)

Her specialties so far seem to be: nice people who genuinely like each other, heroes who are decidedly not jerks, class issues, local life and politics, sibling dynamics, the weight of parental expectations, and protagonists who have a very difficult time knowing and/or expressing what they want because they have sublimated their desires, frequently out of the desire to be nice and get along with society. And the last bit seems very evenly split between the men and the women, which I very much appreciated.

So far, there has been more diversity around the protagonists rather than embodied by the protagonists, but like Courtney Milan, my sense is that she is pushing at a lot of those boundaries. There are secondary characters who are POC and gay and lesbian—I am using these terms as a shortcut, since they don't quite match up with Regency categories/ways of thinking—and her latest hero is Jewish! And it looks like the protagonists of her next book are in the servant class, which is nice.

In for a Penny - Lord Nevinstoke's father dies, leaving his family deep in debt, and thus Nev proposes to Penelope Brown, who comes with a substantial dowry courtesy of her father's success in trade. Together, they attempt to restore his family estate and prevent a peasant uprising! The couple is probably the most traditional in terms of romance norms, and I find them absolutely adorable. It also helps that "socially inept heroine who is good at spreadsheets + hero who is not the best with numbers but great with people" is something that hits rather close to home. The book tends to fall a bit into the "wealthy titled people rescue impoverished workers" thing, and the villain and final conflict feels over-the-top compared to the rest of the story, but I liked it a lot.

A Lily Among Thorns - I bounced off this one the first time because I wanted an icier heroine, but on rereading it and knowing better what to expect, I liked it better. Lady Serena, former courtesan and current innkeeper, wants to help Solomon Hathaway find heirloom earrings, as he's the one who gave her the money to buy herself out years and years ago. And then there are French spies and threats from Serena's father and the plot is a bit over the top still. Solomon the tailor (or rather, master dyer) is very cute, but I didn't fully buy that Serena was able to terrorize the London underworld. Good, but I think it's the weakest of Lerner's work.

Sweet Disorder - Nick Dymond goes to the town of Lively St. Lemeston, where his brother is running for office, in order to convince widow Phoebe Sparks to marry a Whig so that her husband gets her inherited vote. I love that Phoebe is middle class and worries about having to wear the same dress to parties and can't afford mustard. Also, she is fat and the narrative is fine with it, and the hero needs a cane due to wartime injuries. I think this is my favorite of Lerner's books so far, and I particularly love one sex scene that manages to be hot while also advancing characterization AND tying up the hero. Bonus points for many loving descriptions of Regency era sweets.

True Pretenses - Ash and his little brother Rafe are con men, but Rafe wants to get out, so Ash comes up with one last con to get Rafe married to an heiress so she can get her money and Rafe can get money for a commission. Despite his secret hopes that Rafe and Lydia (aforementioned heiress) will fall in love, Ash somehow ends up engaged to her himself. They bond over the difficulty of raising younger siblings while also wanting to give them everything and how conning people and being a gentlewoman call on a similar set of skills. I especially like how being Jewish is integral to the characterization of both Ash and Rafe. On the other hand, I didn't like this as much as I had anticipated because both Ash and Lydia are rather overbearing older siblings and I ended up sympathizing with Rafe a lot. That and I wasn't entirely confident about the happily ever after, not because I didn't like the characters together, but because I still stressed about how Ash's past could still be dug up. Still, I think this is probably Lerner's best and chewiest book to date. Also, I love that Lydia is a Tory while the main characters in the previous book are Whigs and that she doesn't get converted and still doesn't like them.
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2015-08-12 11:13 pm

Reading Wednesday

So that whole trying to ration out Frances Hardinge books so I didn't tear through her backlog too quickly didn't work so well. I read Fly by Night, A Face Like Glass, and Cuckoo Song over the weekend, all of which I loved. Hopefully a more detailed write up to come!

I also realized NK Jemisin's latest book just came out and promptly got it, and then got distracted by some novellas and short stories set in the Inheritance universe I hadn't read. So... I haven't opened the new book yet, but I am looking forward to it! I have also finally started Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, thanks to hearing about the TV series. I'm not very far in yet, but I'm enjoying the voice. It also makes me happy that [personal profile] qian's Sorcerer to the Crown will probably be out by the time I finish the Clarke, which means my desire for fantasy in Regency-voice will continue to be fed.

On a totally different note, I thought people would enjoy the latest episode of the Criminal podcast, which is about a grisly murder in 1896 and how it got turned into a murder ballad. It ends with a modern take on the ballad, which is very mournful, as is proper, but alas, the ending totally cracks me up, probably inappropriately (and unintentionally) so.
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2015-08-06 01:40 am

Hardinge, Frances - Verdigris Deep and The Lie Tree

I feel like I have been hearing about Frances Hardinge from my dwircle for quite some time now, and I've finally gotten around to reading her after a reading binge that I blame on [personal profile] skygiants' posts on the Fionavar Tapestry. (I started with The Fionavar Tapestry last weekend and then.. kept reading things! It was great! I think I read more books this past week than I have all year to date!)

Verdigris Deep

Ryan, Chelle and Josh are desperate for bus money one night, and Josh ends up sneaking down a well to grab some of the wishing coins. But then each of them begin developing strange powers (I am still viscerally creeped out by Ryan's), and they find that they have to start granting the wishes tied to the coins they took. And since granting wishes never goes well, things slowly start to go very, very wrong.

I've seen many comparisons of Hardinge with Diana Wynne Jones, and this book in particular feels very much like DWJ--the oddball kids, the way some unlikable characters grow likable and others turn bad, the slowly growing sense of dread and uneasiness. This book was very creepy in that damp fingers down your spine kind of way, which was not what I had been expecting. There's a lot here about what you wish for on the surface and what you actually want, and how you can be trapped in wishes you've outgrown. I also liked that even though Ryan, Chelle and Josh band together because both Ryan and Chelle would have been picked on at school if not for Josh, Hardinge takes time to show what bits are being friends just because there's no one else and how you can kind of be friends with someone and only get to know them better later.

The Lie Tree

So, I thought Verdigris Deep was creepy. The Lie Tree is SO MUCH CREEPIER O_o.

Faith's father is a discredited paleontologist who has taken his family and a secret project to an island to avoid the public eye, but growing a tree that feeds on lies that you spread never turns out well. This is set in the late 19th century, and it manages to make the time period feel just as alien as a built-from-scratch fantasy world. Hardinge makes fossils and the radical idea of evolution feel terrifying and world- and faith-shaking in a way I haven't really encountered before, and there's a matter-of-factness to the Victorian focus on morbidity that makes the entire worldview feel foreign. I went and looked up tons of details on Victorian photography and mourning rituals after this.

I loved Faith, who is clever and angry and not particularly nice, how she despises her mother and desperately wants her father's acknowledgement even though he is a terrible human being. I love that Hardinge doesn't try to file off her edges (or anyone else's, for that matter), and although it's not particularly new to talk about just how circumscribed women's roles were, it's rare to get that visceral feeling of being slowly stifled. Also, bonus points for not magically making Faith believe in evolution and other things we now know are scientifically correct; one of my favorite exchanges consists of one person arguing that something is caused by animal magnetism only to be pooh-poohed for being unscientific, as obviously it is spiritual energy instead.

This is a very, very good book, and I've been deliberately holding off on binging on more of Hardinge so I don't get through all her back catalog too quickly.

Links:


Link me to other write ups! I'm sad I missed the conversations!
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2015-07-07 10:23 pm

Agents of SHIELD - 1x01-2x22

After watching several MCU movies (particularly CA2) in preparation for Age of Ultron, I wanted more source material and ended up mainlining this despite being completely meh about it when it first aired. I'm still unconvinced that the writers think SHIELD is as sketchy as I do, which is frustrating, because they keep toeing the line of "SHIELD is untrustworthy" and then hastily backpedaling and reassuring us that Coulson is great and trustworthy, and therefore by extension, so is SHIELD.

On the plus side, the second season added some much more interesting new characters and threw a few wrenches in the "happy team yay" vibe from the first few episodes.

Spoilers )
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2015-06-08 10:23 pm

Arrow S3 and The Flash S1

Er, if I haven't commented on people's comments or posts, it is because I haven't really been online for the past few months =(. I have, however, been watching a ton of TV! I feel like I have finally recovered from grad school brain and been able to focus on things requiring more effort and attention span, like books and TV. It only took five years, ha.

Arrow (spoilers through end of S3)

Spoilers have to become someone. Something. )

The Flash (spoilers through end of S1)

Spoilers became the impossible. )
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2015-04-07 09:18 am

Madison Concourse room

I've got a reservation for a room at the Madison Concourse for Wiscon that I won't be using, anyone interested in taking? It's from 5/22-5/25, $127/night, should be two queen beds.
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2015-02-20 11:30 pm

Lots of TV

Hi, I am alive! Obviously I have been terrible at being online, which then goes into the whole "I have too much to write up, so I don't write it, so then I feel even more behind" thing. It also doesn't help that my laptop is getting slow so I spend most of my computer time on my phone, which isn't very conducive to commenting or posting.

Anyway, life stuff is going on, mostly not too eventful. And I am watching a lot of TV! Here, have some impressions since the thought of doing coherent write-ups of each show keeps me from writing anything.

Arrow

This started out as my laundry folding show, except then I got hooked. It is probably not the best show ever, especially in terms of writing, but I'm fond of many of the characters and the focus on family. Also, plot like whoa. My main gripes are the romance storylines, since they are mostly terrible, and how you of course learn all things mystical and martial-arts-y in Asia. Or from Asians. (Or sometimes from possibly non-Asian people in Asia? Let's not go there...) My main delights are Oliver's relationships with his family, particularly with his little sister, and assorted Team Arrow teamwork hijinks.

Spoilers through Arrow 3x14 )

The Flash

So of course since I got hooked on Arrow, I started The Flash, largely because Grant Gustin is ADORABLE. I also love how deliberately non-gritty it is; Barry helps people because he likes helping people. I do wish they weren't making the same mistake Arrow made with Laurel, which is to keep Iris in the dark and thereby make most storylines having to do with her boring. This is especially too bad because the actress is a lot more likable than Katie Cassidy (sorry Katie Cassidy!). On the other hand, the Joe-Barry relationship is BEST.

Spoilers through The Flash 1x14 )

The 100

I have really been enjoying this show, and having a female protagonist is such a nice change from Arrow and Flash, much as I like them. I especially love how one of the main themes is Clarke becoming a leader. My other favorite thing is the various shifting alliances and groups and all the politicking. There are some things about the worldbuilding that questionable (Grounder culture, for one), but overall I love how much worldbuilding there is, and how large the world feels. This has really been scratching my SF/F genre itch.

Spoilers through The 100 2x11 )

Jane the Virgin

Yes, I am indeed watching all CW all the time.

This show! This is my new favorite and actually has me looking forward to something on Mondays. I love so many things about it, from Jane herself to the Villanueva family to the wtfbbq, telenovela-ness of some of the plot to Rogelio and his hashtags. This gives me all the warm fuzzies.

(Also, so many hearts to the show for having a bilingual household and not making it a big deal.)

Spoilers through Jane the Virgin 1x14 )

Agent Carter

I am enjoying this a lot! The Peggy and Jarvis snark is fun, and the bits fleshing out the larger MCUverse are nice as well. Mostly I am ignoring period accuracy but enjoying the clothes. Alas, this is also the whitest show on this post.

Fresh Off the Boat

This is the show I wish I were enjoying more than I actually am. I don't know how much of it is the sitcom humor, how much is the show finding its legs, and how much is stuff just feeling a little off.

One of the main things for me is that Louis and Jessica feel like second gen Chinese Americans, not first gen immigrants. Constance Wu's accent sounds a bit off (I'm not sure if Randall Park is even trying one? Which is probably the better option.), and of course, they don't speak Chinese at home! It's particularly glaring compared to Jane the Virgin's use of Spanish in the show. And when there is Chinese, it sounds a lot like it was written first in English and then translated.

That said, the 90's-ness of it cracks me up (even their light fixtures look it!), and I like it when the show focuses more on individual character quirks rather than commentary on being Chinese. Show! I hope you do well, even if you do end up being not for me.
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2014-12-18 11:39 pm

The 100, 2x08

Apparently I am watching all the CW shows, all the time now. (Well, not Jane the Virgin yet, but it's next.)

I wanted to write up a general post before this, but I got stuck, so maybe some other time.

Spoilers )
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2014-11-16 04:07 pm

Big Hero 6

I feel with this, Frozen, and Wreck-It Ralph, Disney is really entering another golden age (I know, all the critics say that...), which makes me happy despite all my issues with Disney because Disney is so much of my childhood. I was afraid Big Hero 6 was going to be too pop-culture-referencing and wink-wink-nudge-nudge, as well as being afraid that the main character would annoy me (that's my biggest issue with How to Train Your Dragon) and that the blend of San Francisco and Tokyo would feel pasted on and Orientalist. Instead, it's a really good movie that made me cry more than once, has some great relationships, and did what I thought was a pretty impressive job of balancing gender roles and portrayals as well as having POC representation.

(That said, Disney, I will be so happy if you make your next geek-oriented movie with a female lead!)

Also, the marketing department did a really good job with the trailer; I think it only goes into the first half hour of the movie and doesn't let on to some pretty big things while keeping the overall tone of the movie.

What most impressed me about the trailer was how the first ten or fifteen minutes of the movie completely recontextualizes a lot of the scenes, so even if you've seen them a lot, there's more there when you see them again in the movie. As I mentioned, I was worried I would be annoyed at Hiro, and I kind of was... and then they introduced another character that helped a lot. Then when something happens and Hiro gets acquainted with Baymax the robot, it adds a new emotional layer to all the boy-plus-robot scenes from the trailer. Also, Baymax is hilarious and adorable, as the best companion robots seem to be. (Are there any girl-and-robot stories that mix coming of age with teaching your robot how to be more human or something? Boy-and-robot seems to be a distinct subgenre, with this, The Iron Giant, Terminator 2, and probably more I can't think of right now.)

Cultural appropriation, gender, and other considerations )

I am talking a lot about the more political aspects of the movie and not focusing on just how fun the movie is, I think partly because so much of it is in the background and not that noticeable if you aren't looking for it. I thought this was a really great example of how to have diverse characters and places and make it feel organic and not the central issue of the story, and it's what I would love to see more of, especially in genre stuff.

A lot of the reviews I've read were tired of the whole superhero thing, but I did not realize it was a superhero movie going in (I had it more pegged as an Iron Giant thing), so when Hiro starts seeing everyone as a superhero team, it totally cracked me up. Because if you are a boy with a giant robot and a 3D printer, why not?

And finally, I LOVED how the entire movie was a celebration of engineering and science and making things; one of my favorite parts is Tadashi showing Hiro his "nerd school" and how clearly he loves it. I feel I should say so much more about this, because it was a huge part of why I loved the movie so much (that, and the Tadashi-Hiro relationship) and I've spent so many words on the background stuff. Except I don't really have anything outside of how much I love it and how much they made an effort to show that the whole maker culture thing isn't solely a white guy thing.

On a completely random note, I'm amused by the Disney-Pixar-Marvel mashup so that the movie has the now-famous animation short a la Pixar and the post-credits scene a la Marvel.
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2014-10-07 11:57 pm

Gotham 1x01-1x03

So far, I am still watching because I am a sucker for Batverse, but I haven't really hit it off with any of the episodes yet.

Spoilers )
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2014-10-06 10:11 pm

Sleepy Hollow 2x01-2x03

Hello, show! I missed you in all your cracktastic glory!

Spoilers )
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2014-09-08 09:16 pm

(no subject)

I feel kind of stupid posting this right now, but I haven't been checking stuff online even though I was posting the daily happiness posts, and I just found out about [personal profile] delux_vivens.

I met her online when I was first figuring stuff out about race and racism, and she and Dead Bro Walking opened up so much to me and introduced me to so many people. She took me to my first powwow and shared a fry bread taco with me and laughed when I insisted on getting another fry bread for dessert (she was right, that was a bit too much fry bread for my stomach...). She shared details about her regalia and her beading projects and braved the dread lack of transportation to have craft circle in South Bay and meet CB. I was really nervous around her at first because I wanted so badly to not look stupid, and I felt she kind of took me under her wing and watched out for me. I hadn't seen her for a while, even though CB would sometimes ask, because he only met her once but thought she was awesome, and now I wish I had reached out more.