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Because You Stood Still

Comic books have always been a part of my life. My brother was a huge fan and my Dad before him. We are a family of nerds. But I’ve been a little more selective in my comic book consumption. Brian K. Vaughan’s work really spoke to me in the early aughts. I loved Y: The Last Man. But I was still a bit of a romantic then. I’m older and more cynical now. The author’s more recent work, like Papergirls and Saga, has resonated with me. But now that we FINALLY have a live-action adaptation of Y: The Last Man, after being in the works for 15+ years, I’m not sure how it’s going to hit me. I watched the first three episodes last night. They were solid. But my now 48 year-old self can’t help but think the 27 year-old protagonist is a little shit and, after years of therapy, I have a much lower tolerance for dudes like him. I realize Yorick Brown’s character has always been written that way but I’ve grown a lot as a person. And that’s great, honestly. Thankfully, there are other characters. And Ashley Romans is absolutely brilliant as Agent 355. PERFECTION. I look forward to watching the series unfold.

Five interesting things:

The first time I attended Square Lake’s Film and Music Fest was back in 2006, to see Low perform in a barn. I’ve returned many times over the years since. I am so grateful for this place and for the generous souls who share it with us. And was so happy to return there Saturday night, for Low’s HEY WHAT album release show outdoors. The pandemic drags on. But I’m trying to take advantage of safe opportunities to experience joy.

Looking up downtown to see blue sky and puffy white clouds above a 100+ year-old building

Wonder and Inquiry

Last night I’d already planned to get to the Derecho residency on Icehouse’s patio. It’s one of Alan Sparhawk’s many side projects. But my all-time favorite band is Low, his main, long-running musical endeavor with his wife, Mimi. And I was treated to a surprise Low set last night, before Derecho’s funk kicked in. The weather was absolutely perfect and it was just what I needed. Other good news yesterday? A friend who has been looking for work (pivoting from software sales to data science) for over a year and 60+ interviews just landed a job that looks to be a great fit. I’m so happy/relieved for him.

Five more good things:

Bonus: When I got home last night I watched the first few episodes of Only Murders in the Building on Hulu. It’s a true crime sendup/whodunit. Steve Martin, Martin Short, and Selena Gomez are all fantastic in it. I can’t wait to see how this all unfolds.

My sweet Olive, a ticked tabby, perched on my dresser while looking alarmed

Failure is an Option

I often fail at sleeping. Usually, it’s my own mind that prevents me from getting a good night’s rest. But the other night I was deeply asleep when a neighbor’s car alarm was triggered. It went off several times, at length, between 2am and 4am. It was like having a newborn again. It left me feeling pretty wrecked. I am opposed to toxic positivity but sleep deprivation put me in sort of a good vibes only mode, paying attention to things that please me. Here are five of them:

In other good news, a handyman friend has been working at our place all week. Replacing hideous, partially-functioning light fixtures and putting in tile. We’ve lived here for just over two years. Before we moved in, I had all the rooms repainted. And I’ve been slowly making other changes since. It’s nothing like what you see on HGTV, with a crew of dozens blowing through a punch list in a couple of days. But I’m proud of our progress! I have a few more big ticket items on the list, like a new fridge (in an annoying specialty size to fit our small kitchen) and ductless mini-split air conditioning. But those things can wait a little longer.

Concrete stairs painted in rainbow colors

All the Moments After

Life has been a mixed bag lately, as usual. What’s going on in Afghanistan makes me feel powerless though the situation has been occupying my thoughts a great deal. Please consider donating through the International Rescue Committee, or other vetted NGOs, if you are able to.

The Taliban’s Return Is Catastrophic for Women

As a photojournalist covering Afghanistan for two decades, I’ve seen how hard the country’s women have fought for their freedom, and how much they have gained. Now they stand to lose everything.

The rest of my brainspace has been occupied by random distractions, as usual. A round-up of some of them:

My son started Fall semester today. And his courses are all fully remote, again. It’s like deja vu from the last school year, except this time around we’re vaccinated at least. And I’m taking a break from teaching at his college. Last week, I got my first new tattoo in years. This tiger is a stunner and it felt like a little bit of normal life. But I’ll be using my home COVID test kits just in case. Sigh.

Freshly inked orange and black tiger tattoo on a forearm

Mudslide of Emotions

My son and I had been together, every single day, since January of 2020. When I decided to take a brief trip to Madison, I asked if he wanted to join me. He declined. Some time apart is healthy. I’d feel better about it, however, if it weren’t for the Delta variant. I went out of town to attend my first indoor music show. Orville Peck was absolutely amazing. The venue was lovely. As was the boutique hotel I booked, a block from the venue. I drove there after work Thursday night, worked from the comfort of my hotel room all day Friday, then went to the show. It all would have been so perfect but being packed into a crowd of 2500 other humans was unsettling, to say the least. Maybe 60% of us were wearing masks. I hope the percentage of folks vaccinated was much higher. I try not to judge other parents, but a couple brought their unmasked three or four year-old daughter to this sold-out show, and without ear protection to boot. If my son was still ineligible for the vaccine, we wouldn’t be engaging in such risky behavior. I do wish I could have gone to Orville Peck’s outdoor show, at Red Rocks, instead. Or that the venue required proof of vaccination, like the First Avenue empire now requires. I hope more businesses go this route. My new employer planned to have us return to the office, part-time, following Labor Day. But this current surge is so severe that that plan is now on hold, thankfully.

In less dire news, comedy continues to help me get by.

  • Ted Lasso is back, and as beautiful as ever. And my Roy Kent crush has only deepened (the twitter-verse is with me on that one). Roy Kent is played by the delightful Brett Goldstein, who has a podcast called Films to Be Buried With. He has a lot of other great comedians on to discuss two topics that occupy my thoughts: films and death.
  • A repeat guest on Brett’s podcast is the incomparable Romesh Ranganathan. Who also has a show with Rob Beckett. I’ve seen many episodes of Rob & Rom Vs. but a recent one had me just howling. So much that I alarmed my son. Watching the out-of-shape Rob and Rom attempt to participate in Olympic sports was a thing I didn’t know I needed.
  • Speaking of out-of-shape middle-aged people (I am one, myself), I thoroughly enjoyed The Paper Tigers. Now on Netflix. The movie “blends action, comedy, and heart to produce a fresh martial arts movie with plenty of throwback charm.” I highly recommend it.
  • Back to the Olympics, the only coverage I really consumed was comedic. Like Snoop Dogg’s commentary on dressage. Perfection. Or diver Tom Daley’s impressive knitting output.
  • Another source of joy recently has been the musical comedy Schmigadoon!
    Sad that we’re already reaching the finale this Friday. I wouldn’t want Melissa and Josh to be trapped there forever, but I could use more episodes. Each one has been so brilliant.

Last September, for my son’s pandemic birthday, we had a small outdoor picnic. We were careful to spread out and shout to have conversations with the handful of friends and family we invited. To make up for last year’s lackluster celebration, I’ve rented out a small movie theater next month to host a private screening of Scott Pilgrim vs. The World. We’re asking our guests to only come if they have been vaccinated and that they wear masks throughout to minimize risk. Really hoping that the covid surge reverses and we can pull this off safely.

Selfie wearing a covid mask with fringe for the Orville Peck show
Neon sign with Good Morning lit up
Neon sign with Good Afternoon lit up
Neon sign with Good Evening lit up

Be Wrong Fast

Over the weekend, on an otherwise pleasant Saturday, I had a big blowout with my kid. Over the most mundane of things. The laundry tub lint trap. It wasn’t so much about that specific thing but a concept he has yet to grasp. I get it. I learned the hard way myself. “Be wrong fast.” It’s applicable in professional settings, but equally so in interpersonal relationships. Quickly acknowledge when you’re in the wrong. Ask questions, if appropriate. Learn from the situation. Make a mental note to do better in the future. Then move on. Instead, my son deploys operation “excuses and deflection,” which I find infuriating. And I don’t always bring my best self when reacting when he has his shields up. We were both wrong that day.

My son, posing in the hallway with our new retro wallpaper with jaguars and tropical birds
My other son, Fred the cat, posing in the hallway with our new retro wallpaper with jaguars and tropical birds

Vibrating at Another Frequency

The older I get, the more life seems to be in flux. I’ve started several draft posts recently. But after a day or so everything seems like old news. How about a roundup instead? In the last month I:

  • Turned 48, on the day my Dad turned 77. We celebrated together with lunch at his favorite restaurant;
  • Accepted a new position, even though I wasn’t looking for work;
  • Traveled to Seattle with my son to visit family and friends. Our trip coincided, unfortunately, with their record-breaking heat dome;
  • Attended the Turf Club’s Open House reopening event (felt great to be back in that space);
  • Purchased tickets to too many upcoming live music shows (many of which may end up being canceled or postponed);
  • Have been plagued by anxiety and self-doubt but heeded my therapist’s advice. To “change the channel” or at least turn the volume down on that noise;
  • Enjoyed some ice cream places around town with my kid (we particularly appreciated our inaugural visit to MN Nice Cream);
  • Took photos at a Siteimprove event with their new CEO and COO before leaving the company. The party was a great way to say goodbye to colleagues.
  • Experienced my first day at a new job for the first time since early 2015. Onboarding will be uncomfortable for a bit, while I absorb a great deal of information. And get a feel for the systems and processes and how they tie into the bigger picture. But I’m excited.

Currently, I’m hiding out at home with the windows shut thanks to a very unhealthy air quality alert. Between this and the Delta variant, there’s plenty to fret over. Yet these are not the threats I expected to be dealing with as an adult. As a kid, I was worried about the ozone layer, getting kidnapped by strangers, nuclear war with the Soviets, and quicksand. Simpler times.

Selfie in Seattle
Becky, myself, and Parker in Seattle outside the Unicorn
My son with a giant vegan waffle cone from MN Nice Cream

Masterly Inactivity

Finally. I finished teaching for the semester so I’m down to just one job. Instead of teaching prep this weekend, I’ve surrendered to laziness. Yesterday I couldn’t tell if it was 1981 or 2021 when I took my kid to see the original Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark at the mall. We went to enjoy the air conditioning. Growing up, I always looked forward to June in Minnesota. Because it meant the school year was over and it’s the month of my birthday. But also because the weather was always mild and perfect. Not so anymore. We’re in the midst of a flipping heatwave and temps aren’t cooling off at night. I do miss having central air. Which is one reason I’ve willingly gone into my office a few times. It’s the first time I worked from the office since the start of the pandemic. My company moved in the thick of it so it was a little surreal to return to work in a totally different place. I’ve been playing that game of “is that a new employee or someone I haven’t seen in 15+ months?” I honestly don’t know most of the time. Polite head nods of acknowledgment for everyone!

Last weekend we hung out with friends at a BBQ. It was so great to see everyone. My friends gave my son his first-ever beer. Though that one beer made him a little sleepy and grumpy. A few days ago we had board game night with a co-worker friend (and his cats). Tomorrow night I’m meeting another friend for happy hour. I look forward to many more social interactions to come, while our current doses of the vaccine are at their most effective. That’s also why we’re flying later this month, to visit family in Seattle. Our first flight will feel a little surreal but it will be fun to be out of our tiny condo for a bit and back in one of our favorite cities.

My boy, with beard and beered
Me, sitting on a large, curved blue couch in my company's new office
Freddy, a large orange tabby, lounging on a blue couch

An Exercise in Curation

Lately, I’ve found it difficult to write. I feel overwhelmed in multiple areas of my life. But I’m doing the work, thanks to therapy. Feeling the feelings. Naming what’s going on and being more compassionate to myself. While I’m working on being more present, I also allow myself some enjoyable distractions.

I bought our condo in July of 2019. I’ve been gradually making improvements. Some are less visible than others, like replacing the boiler back in January. But last week I had our hallway repainted a daffodil yellow. And I replaced the three pendant lights in the kitchen (that I loathed). Today a plumber replaced our OG 99-year-old toilet and installed my new kitchen faucet. It’s all coming together. Next, I need the wallpaper hangers to come by to jazz up an accent wall. Then hire an electrician to install a pile of light fixtures. And, lastly, there are a couple of tile-related projects to take care of. Overall it is feeling a whole lot like home.

Cya, 99 year-old toilet!

Celebration of Durability

It has been an especially strange time to live in Minneapolis. I’ve posted about the Chauvin trial plenty elsewhere. I’ll just reiterate that this verdict is accountability more than actual justice. There is so much work to do yet. And Minneapolis can’t even begin to do the work until we vote our current weaksauce mayor out of office (I never voted him in). In this next election, I will vote for Sheila Nezhad, whose values align with my own. I hope she is elected as it will mean a better Minneapolis for us all.

Five Good Things:

  • The other day I attended my first live music event / social gathering of the year. It was largely outdoors. I bundled up appropriately. It felt moderately awkward to begin with since I’m so out of practice. And there were a few folks I didn’t quite recognize behind masks. But the music was lovely and I’m glad I went.
  • Ron and Russell, of Sparks, have written a movie that looks interesting. Annette, starring Adam Driver and Marion Cotillard. And The Sparks Brothers documentary by Edgar Wright will be screening as part of the MSP Film Fest next month.
  • I have an appointment scheduled for my next tattoo. It’s not until August but it’s with the person who first tattooed me nearly 30 years ago, and many times since, and I trust him. Plus? I can walk there from home.
  • Adulthood has its perks. All of my bedding is from Marimekko and last night I slept on the newest set of sheets. They are so very lovely and comfortable.
  • On my walk last night I listened to the latest Why Are Dads? podcast episode with the fantastic Eric Garcia. They dug into Rain Man. I clearly remember when that movie came out. Growing up, I only had two first cousins. One of whom is autistic. Going out in public with him was always an adventure. People would ask what was wrong with him or glare at us over his puzzling behavior. He was just stimming or self-soothing. He lived in NYC but my aunt would bring him to St. Paul for weeks at a time in the summer. Now that I am older and the parent of an autistic young man I can only imagine how much havoc that wreaked with his routine and comfort. I’m sure it was constant sensory overload. If Rain Man had been done well, it could have from the perspective of the autistic main character rather than his jackass brother’s. The movie did bring more awareness to autism but it may have done more harm than good. Anyhow, this podcast episode is wonderful. Pre-order Eric Garcia’s book, We’re Not Broken: Changing the Autism Conversation.

This weekend has been one to relax and recharge. But thanks to targeted ads + insomnia, I ordered this Vietnamese coffee lover’s bundle early this morning. It’s a good thing I really do love Vietnamese coffee. I did manage to get some things done: laundry, cooking, grocery shopping, walking. But my media consumption has been excessive. I’ve watched season finales for Falcon and the Winter Soldier and For All Mankind. I also hate-watched the new Mortal Kombat movie (why, Sharyn, why?) and somehow binged the first season of Shadow & Bone, despite not enjoying it much (I read the books years ago but can’t remember them). Tonight I will watch the latest episode of The Nevers, which could be great but is just ever-so-slightly off, followed by Mare of Eastown, which has been wonderful. My point? Too much TV time. I look forward to better weather and more fully vaccinated friends and family members to visit with.

Pink hyacinth in bloom
Funerary statue of a young woman resting her head on one hand while holding a wreath in the other hand
An orange tulip just beginning to bloom