Selfies with My Hats

I like hats. There’s not much more to be said. It’s fun how different each hat makes me look. With my hair at a weird in-between/awkward length, I’ve been depending on hats a lot lately.

The slide shows below are categorized. I dug around the house looking for some of these. This should be all of them. If others pop up, I probably won’t post them. Or maybe when my hair is long again I’ll post more.

If you like hats or are deciding whether to like hats, maybe this post will be helpful. Maybe not. Whatever works for you.

Flat caps

Running/Active caps with bills

Winter hats

Wide-brimmed hats

Fedoras

My Plan for Returning to Society

Isolating from people for over a year has been quite an experience. I’m not an extrovert by any means, but for the most part isolation has been voluntary, not mandatory. In the past, I’ve gone to parties because I’ve psyched myself up to go. I would have a fun time, but then I’d home, unwind for about an hour, then sleep unbelievably well.

But I do love people. I especially love being around people I consider close friends and family. That’s not saying I don’t like making friends, but that process is navigating new territory. Some people are easier to befriend than others. I generally have a very accommodating personality. I observe body language and facial expressions and tone; I listen and can often meet a person at their comfort level or on common ground. One of my greatest contributions to humanity is getting people to open up, to have people be ok with vulnerability. And have them feel connected to others, even in ways that seem fleeting or insignificant. Those ways have impact.

When I lived in New York, the deep desire to connect with individuals in countless, nameless mobs sometimes prompted spontaneous conversations about heavy things. The urgency to relate on deeper levels cut through a lot of the small talk. I remember waiting for a crosstown bus, and one other lady was at the bus stop. Somehow we struck up a conversation, and before I knew it, she was talking about her feelings about a daughter getting married. We boarded the bus and continued the discussion. I remember looking at her face. Although the openness came more from her, I also felt seen. I felt a connection.

I blogged a lot more when I lived in NYC, through the heart of the Oughts, almost seven years. When I look back this habit of writing likely helped with my social skills. In 2008 I had made a goal to write every day. Didn’t have to be substantial content. Didn’t have a word limit. Just had to think of a thing to write about and write. I do believe I lasted the whole year. (I’ll have to double check the blog.) That daily routine prepared me for social situations, because I had practice quickly forming opinions about various topics. I had practice going through my day observing everything, storing ideas and writing prompts. Learning to look and feel beyond myself.

And now, I’m reading a lot more, experiencing the privilege of living vicariously. Seeing the world through diverse lenses in books and other media.

And while reading has done wonders for my empathy, it’s not quite the same as writing. I mean, both are different ways of listening, or at least processing the world. If I can find the words to write something, I can usually find a constructive, correlative action. Even if that means more listening. Which is the case, most of the time.

I think this post puts me on a 10- or 11-day streak of writing. And as parts of the country start opening up more with increased vaccinated populations, stepping out to interact with other humans seems really important. Looking people in the eyes as they relate their lives of the past year in isolation. The cabin fever, the anxiety. The sensitivity to light. The reflex to cower away from someone going in for a hug.

I don’t know: writing about it has helped me get to a more stable emotional place. I would like to think that it can help me help others to feel seen or listened to. Or cared about. Or loved.

Teacher Appreciation Week

My husband has been a teacher for 11 years. He works really hard to give his students quality education. He got his master’s degree while teaching (and while I was pregnant). He’s created new courses and curricula. He is well-respected among his colleagues.

He teaches a range of related subjects: English, Creative Writing, Literature in Film. He accommodates students with a wide range of interests and motivation. His students like him. They appreciate his efforts to hold their attention and present memorable lessons that develop critical thinking and communication.

Respect from students would seem difficult to gain, especially among junior high youth, where the apathy emerges alongside the abrupt puberty. But Reilly has taught long enough to navigate these waters gracefully. Also: he was a teenager and remembers how he and classmates behaved at that age. He knows what he’s dealing with. He comes home with stories of the challenges and victories kids today face. Every day inspires to some extent.

Everyone: show some love to our teachers, past or present. Remember how they helped us grow, to become the people we are now.

Thanks, Google, for the reminder.

https://g.co/doodle/hjchhys

AAPI Heritage Month

Maybe 15 or so years ago when I lived in New York, I was talking with a Filipino couple from church at a picnic. I told them how long I’ve lived in the United States, and how long it had been since I visited the Philippines. I came to the US in 1978, and I visited Philippines for a month in 1983/4.

The wife of that couple, with no malice in her voice, matter-of-factly told me that I had lost all the culture in my blood.

I’m still trying to figure out what that means.

May is AAPI Heritage Month, which seems a meaningful gesture on the part of the government, especially in light of the prevalence of Asian hate and violence in the news, though I’ve been navigating my Asian American heritage for my entire life.

Whenever I see a Filipinx public figure, I feel connected to them through our common heritage. Our culture. Although I no longer understand or speak Tagalog, I can still recognize it, I love when my mom comments in Tagalog on my social media posts.

Mom and I sometimes talk about food and entertainment; customs, as well as genealogy.

I have memories of grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins and villagers from my visit in the 1980s. Humble and happy. Hardworking and hopeful. Qualities I want to sustain in myself.

How much culture is in my blood? How much do I understand from my ancestors? The country’s history?

However much there is, I still want to celebrate it. I want to accept myself exactly where I am, to assess how much my heritage influences my identity. And be ok with whatever that is.

At least for now.

May Day, Social Media Roundup

My name is May.

May is my favorite month.

I was born in May.

Today is May 1.

I tend to be in a great mood all month long.

And sort of obnoxious.

On Twitter I tweeted:

Did I do it right? Maybe I should be showing more skin? I mean, the shirt is supposed to highlight the irony of the thirst trap this isn’t. But I don’t know if people got that. I barely have over 100 followers, and I lie low not using a ton of hashtags or mentions. So I wonder if the four people who are active saw this post and got it. Probably, they’re pretty smart.

On Twitter and Instagram I also posted these:

Right? More irony, maybe? Because I’m not really trying?

But the following May Day photo was fun, because I got it on the first take. Maybe because I’ve taken jumping selfies before, and I know just when to jump before the snap. Also the angle makes a huge difference. Setting the phone on the ground at a slight angle up seems best for showing the biggest air.

Here’s one of me under the apple tree, with the neighbor’s farm and the mountains in the background. I think we may never move, because the view stuns me every time:

And, finally, to close out May Day, here’s my fair-skinned husband weeding our flower beds. He’s such a great guy, and I’m lucky to celebrate May Day with him. One of dogs keeps watch. The blooms on that tree are ridiculous. Wow.

Happy month of May, everyone!

A Comment I Made on YouTube, then Deleted

Last Wednesday I watched this panel, previously recorded:

They discussed Black activism and broader inclusion in the arts. These 90 minutes are well worth your time.

As soon as the discussion finished, I left these remarks in the comment section:

This discussion was so insightful, and so necessary. This is the day after riding on the cautious optimism of the Chauvin verdicts, then going to bed with the news of Ma’Kiah Bryant and waking up this morning angry. I’ve been trying to learn how to support Black people, to empathize deeply, to unlearn the ingrained racism that I grew up with while – as an Asian American, in this past year particularly – feeling unsafe as I read headlines of Asian hate. Navigating all these human paths, all the nuance, is so important. Listening to the wisdom of all the artists on this panel was encouraging. I loved how you all supported each other and acknowledged the process of becoming better, being intentional and uncomfortable, chipping away slowly at racism in the arts, making small, deliberate yet significant efforts to be more inclusive, to create belonging in lesser represented groups. I wish I knew about this series sooner, but I will go back and watch the previous episodes. Thanks so much for this.

I let the comment sit there, not knowing what to expect. There weren’t a ton of views at the time. Mine was the first and only comment. After a whole day with no other engagement with the video, I began to feel self-conscious about my comment. Did I say something wrong? Did I offend anyone? Was this video not for me? Should I have pointed out how vulnerable and willing to learn Hilary Hahn was by expressing to this all-black panel how much she didn’t know yet? Perhaps, to all these questions.

By Friday morning I decided to delete the comment. I felt that it wasn’t my place to say anything. And I’m perfectly fine working behind the scenes. (Obviously in my own blog space I feel more comfortable.)

Anyway, that’s all I have. I do want to see more diversity and representation in the arts. More access to opportunities. Better funding for access. An eventual unwinding of privilege to allow for truly equal opportunity for all.

I don’t know if this makes any sense. Just sorting through thoughts, I guess.

But I do want to donate to organizations, like Project 440, whose mission centers around opportunities in the arts for youth in minority groups.

If you have the resources, you should donate, too.

From Instagram, 25 April 2021

To go with the vaccine post from earlier today.

You already know this, but this coming Saturday is May 1. You know how excited and obnoxious I can get about my month.

I got my 2nd dose of the Covid-19 vaccine this past Thursday evening. Those who experience side effects, those hours are rather bothersome, but then those hours are over, like a switch flipped, and you’re feeling normal-ish again. Except now I’m immune. Well, in two weeks I’ll be fully immune.

Before my vaccine appointment I had a checkup with my doctor. My first one since 2017. A nurse and a med student were with him in the exam room with me. The nurse took my vitals: BP 123/79. HR 60. Wt 99.2. O2 96%. [By the way, I’m 4’10”, in case my weight happened to concern you.] The doctor looked at my bloodwork and said I was super healthy; that my cholesterol levels were better than his; that I was one of the patients he didn’t have to go to med school for. He had the med student give me a breast exam, which, at the time, was sorta comical, like maybe it felt like she was spreading and poking pizza dough with her fingers? She also gave me a pelvic exam, and she couldn’t find the strings to my IUD. The doctor checked and located them, but the IUD had shifted nearly into my uterus. So he inserted a clear speculum and showed the med student how to resituate the IUD. And I hummed a little tune as this was happening. And this caused cramps the same time as the vaccine side effects. The re-placing the IUD, not the humming.

Oh, is this too much information?

COVID-19 Vaccine, Dose 2 Symptoms

I got my second dose of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine last Thursday night. I ended up feeling a lot of the same symptoms as the first dose, but more intensely.

The aches were a little more pronounced. Thursday night I slept horribly.

Friday I experienced chills, a different experience from the first dose. Took a hot bath. Took a couple of naps with a space heater nearby and under a couple of blankets. As a result of trying to keep my body warm, my Fitbit reported that I burned as many calories as I would on a day of jogging 25-30 minutes on the treadmill. Very interesting.

Even with my Friday naps, I slept really well that night.

Saturday morning, outside of a slightly tender injection site, I felt so much better.

So glad to be on the other side of this.

Two weeks, and I’ll have full immunity.

Cool.

80s Basement Lecture Series

In November 2016 we bought a house. We moved in the next month. The idea of having the space to host events or parties crossed my mind. Our basement looked like hasn’t been updated since the 1980s, and this is where we set up the TV for movies and games. In February 2017 we started a quarterly lecture series, and we would hold each lecture in our 80s basement living room. We’d invite people over, we’d eat treats, and speakers would be our friends.

2017

18 February – Satire, by Reilly Ryan

Reilly started of our series with a fun discussion about satire. He provided a few written and video examples; he talked about his thesis, which discussed whether a show like Family Guy (compared to the Simpsons) was satire. (I actually blogged about this lecture here.)

20 May – Poison Control Center, by Amber Johnson

Amber is Reilly’s older sister. She talked about the Utah Poison Control Center, where she works. She provided pointers on keeping our homes safe and what to do in the event of a poisoning. Since this lecture she has been promoted to Director of the UPCC, which now also doubles at the Utah Coronavirus Hotline.

19 August – Horror, by Jonathan Smith

Jon knows a lot about horror movies. He spoke to us about horror films and the commentary they provide about family. We watched a few excerpts from classic scary movies and analyzed them.

11 November – Introduction to Fan Studies, by Melissa Beattie (Skype)

Melissa, a professor, talked to us about the ins and outs of being a fan. We talked about fanfic. She mentioned a lot of pop references and talked about fan events and culture such as Comic Con, as well as the history and basics of fan theory.

2018

17 February – Bali and Gamelan, by Gavin Ryan

Gavin is one of Reilly’s brothers. He presented a lecture about Bali music and culture, and he brought some Gamelan instruments for a performance.

26 May – Immunohistochemistry and Libraries, by May Ryan

I talked about the app that I maintain for work. I also talked about the importance of libraries.

25 August – Semiotics and Tarot, by Bridgette Tuckfield (Skype)

We learned about tarot cards! The history and meanings behind signs. A very cool discussion.

10 November – Nigerian Literature, by Kylie McQuarrie

Kylie presented the work of several African authors, and how important they are in context of war and oppression.

2019

23 February – COLD Podcast, by Dave Cawley

Our biggest crowd. Dave had released his true crime podcast just a couple of months before. We were lucky to have booked him before all the other speaking engagements came along. For us, he told the Susan Powell story and gave background on all the footage and other artifacts that enrich this story.

4 May – Fur Foxen concert and Q&A

My hairstylist happens to play cello and sing in a band. We invited them to give a really nice, chill concert and answer some questions about their process.

24 August – Highway Typefaces, by Marjorie Smith

Very fun lecture about the history of highway typefaces, which includes some surprising drama. Everyone probably now notices the details of freeway signs now.

23 November – Visual Effects, by Ryan Sonderegger

Ryan talked about some of the technical aspects of his work. We discussed some of his more well-known projects. Very fascinating.

2020

22 February – Cheese, by Joseph Peterson

We sampled so many cheeses! Some were awesome; some required an acquired taste. We paired cheeses with crackers and breads and fruits. It’s always fun to discuss food.

We didn’t miss a quarter for three years. All of these lectures were amazing. We learned about so many really interesting things. We gained a deeper understanding of social issues and other cultures. This was also a chance/excuse to get like-minded friends to gather in a safe space, a tiny blue dot in the middle of our obnoxiously red county. We aired our grievances and frustrations with the political climate. (We closed on our house just before the 2016 election.) We loved being able to hang out with such wonderful people.

Lectures went right up to the cusp of pre-pandemic and pandemic times. We haven’t even held a lecture since then. Not even online, though I’ve toyed with the idea. But we’ve all been dealing with isolation and anxiety and everything else that came with the pandemic. We’ve been depressed and cabin-fevered; wanting to break out into society and wanting to keep the blankets over our heads at the same time. These have been difficult times. But with vaccines becoming more accessible and as more people get vaccinated, we’ll be able to gather safely soon. Hopefully.

I miss those guys.

Karim Dabbèche Animation to Violin Concerto No. 1 in D Major, Op. 19, II. Scherzo: Vivacissimo, Performed by Hilary Hahn

I have included watching this video into my daughter’s morning routine:

We listen to the whole thing. Z may wander during this piece, but she makes sure she watches the part where the main character falls out of the subway train. It seems she also likes to watch them stand up after falling down. Which is pretty dang cool.

The other day I scrolled through comments to this video and came across this opinion.

To be honest, I knee-jerked when I first read this. Like, I was sort of offended? But I didn’t need to be. I didn’t spend a lot of time trying to understand this person’s perspective. I get it: Hilary Hahn is mesmerizing to watch. But without really knowing this commenter, maybe I’ll try unpacking what they said here.

Disclaimer: This is not a defense of Hilary Hahn, as she does not need defending. This is a rebuttal of an opinion of a YouTube commenter. That is all.

I’m a fan of Hilary Hahn. Oh, me too! She’s so talented. She has great energy as a performer. A beautiful personality, and very gracious to her fans. I mean, here Commenter is setting up for the but of their comment. I can feel it.

I appreciate her sincerety [sic] and commitment to her music. I agree! She’s very sincere! She’s very committed to her music. Both are not always simultaneously present in famous musicians or public figures in general. The way she presents her 100 Days of Practice demonstrates both of these qualities in spades: she offers valuable music and life wisdom, and in the 100 days themselves she shows her dedication to her craft. Plus she provides videos of her practicing, so we get to see her every day during this time. This would be an easy thing to feel entitled to. Even as her adoring fans we are not entitled to see Hilary Hahn every day.

That said… “but…”

I would rather… Commenter is stating a preference, which they are absolutely entitled to. People like what they like. Just like I’m stating my preferences right here. Which happen to mostly disagree with Commenter.

I would rather watch her play the music than watch animations. Commenter seems to be dismissing the work of the animator here (as a preference, but still). Hilary Hahn has made an effort to work with Karim Dabbèche in his interpretation of this Prokofiev work. This is a collaboration of interpretations. A different expression of Hilary’s “sincerity and commitment to her music.” And why not promote other artists? Dabbèche is clearly talented, and this video is legitimately cool, and Hilary testifies that it captures the spirit and weirdness and charm of Paris. This work also overflows with real representation of diverse backgrounds and cultures, which is really what we need. It’s refreshing, frankly. That she has played an active part in bringing this video to reality says a lot about her generosity and breadth of creativity as a human being. And she wanted to share it with us. I’m so grateful she did.

I mean, right?

Done ranting now.