Jul. 5th, 2017

missroserose: (Default)
I'm grateful that I have no particular difficulty with fireworks; I wouldn't want to have people shooting them off every night, but once or twice a year doesn't really bother me, and I genuinely enjoy the more artistic displays. Towards that latter end, we decided to head down to the park to watch the Saddle and Cycle Club's (yes, we have an honest-to-god country club in our neighborhood, dating back to the 1920s when this area was a tony suburb of Chicago) annual fireworks display. They were gracious enough to invite the plebeians to watch from the beaches and parks nearby...you know, the ones that are public property. So generous!

After literal years of talking about it, Brian had finally nabbed a small grill to do a cookout. So yesterday morning, we bundled up the car with the grill and charcoal and bags of chips and utensils and blankets and a cooler bag with approximately 50 pounds of various meatstuffs and salads and ice packs, and drove all of five blocks to the lakefront park, intending to unload and have me drive back/walk down (parking at the park is difficult on any nice day, but absolutely insane on holidays)...only to discover that the police had blocked off the parking lot, likely to manage traffic flow. Well, at least we didn't go too far out of our way, heh. We pared down our supplies some and I dug an old wheeled luggage bag out of the closet to pack up the cooler and we managed to trundle everything down on foot; Jamila came down to meet us and helped us unpack everything. The weather was lovely - humid, but not unpleasantly hot, with a nice breeze to keep the smoke from the fireworks and cookouts moving. Most of the families around us were Hispanic; Brian commented later that it was nice to spend Independence Day surrounded by immigrants.

Brian's food was predictably excellent; Jamila got a great picture of him in front of our tiny grill. She also documented our excellent burgers and one of our gigantic beef ribs; and, at my spur-of-the-moment request, did her best Baby Groot impression). I spent most of the time sprawled on our blanket, reading and occasionally reapplying sunscreen; at one point our friend Erin stopped by and we chatted for a bit, although unfortunately her dog was feeling poorly so she wasn't able to stay for the fireworks.

Possibly my favorite part of the day, aside from the fireworks show, was dusk; the crowds were starting to go really wild with the fireworks, so everything was getting noisy and flashing, but amidst the chaos there were comparatively tiny fireflies coming out, blinking hopefully at the colorful displays. You keep those aspirations high, fireflies!
missroserose: (After the Storm)
Happy Day After Loud Patriotic Noises day! On Monday I taught two classes at Sauganash, my usual 1:30 and the 6:15. What with the long holiday weekend, I had a huge crowd for the 1:30 class - 20 people (my usual count is between two and five) crammed into a relatively small studio. It turned out to be an awesome class, though; despite the fact that there was a whole range of skill levels, everyone meshed well and flowed together, and I felt like I had a good rapport with people. I got lots of positive feedback from folks afterward, too, which is always gratifying, and a teacher who took my class gave me a good tip on dealing with crowds. I was curious if the evening class was going to be similarly crowded, or if everyone was going to be drinking by then...as it happened, it was closer to the latter, with all of four people, one of them Breanne (the studio manager), taking my class so she could give me my internship evaluation. (As hinted at in the headline, it was almost completely positive; she said I was clearly already an excellent instructor, and she couldn't wait to see what I started doing with the more advanced classes. She also particularly mentioned my music and gave me possibly the best compliment I've ever had - "The choice of songs at the beginning and the way they fit with the timing made me feel like I was in a musical!" So many warm fuzzies.)

It's been a busy week, but luckily I managed to get some reading done, albeit mostly yesterday at the park. So on to the meme:


What I've just finished reading:

The Kissing Booth Girl and Other Stories, by A.C. Wise. A collection of short stories, many of them with some kind of queer romance theme. A lot of them feel like they could have been fleshed out a little more; the title story especially seemed incomplete, like it was really a novella rather than a short story. Still, there's a distinct sense of atmosphere throughout most of the stories; I found "The Final Girl Theory", about an archetypal 70s-esque slasher/mondo/gore horror film and the cult following that had sprung up around it, particularly chilling.

The Wicked + The Divine vol. 5: Imperial Phase pt. 1, by Kieron Gillen. The gods are in the second year of their supposed two-year lifespan. And, as an academic dryly notes in this volume, "There are very few stories of gods bathing in blood in the first year of their return." There's a lot to unpack here, about the effects of power on ungrounded human minds, about the ways in which various personalities deal with the stress caused by a sense of disempowerment, and about exactly how dangerous a powerful person who feels disempowered and victimized can be. (That last feels especially cogent for our times, on an individual and a group level.) Given all of that, the subplot about The Darkness - an as-yet-unexplained threat that the gods are so far the only ones equipped to deal with - feels almost like a red herring; far more interesting has been seeing how the embattled deities try to aggregate their own fecal matter, or (in the case of Sakhmet) don't even try.


What I'm currently reading:

The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue, by Mackenzi Lee. A complete impulse buy, and I'm all of one chapter in (in truth, I burned through the last of The Kissing Booth Girl almost solely so I could get to this one - I was that charmed by the description), but this is shaping up to be a new favorite. Henry Montague, a brash and self-centered young 18th-century British lord, is off on a Grand Tour of Europe with his (sigh) younger sister and his best friend/confidante/longtime secret crush. Swashbuckling action, perhaps-requited pining, and encounters with historical figures have all been promised, and given the strength of the main character's voice in the first chapter, I'm already sold. I fully intend to savor every chapter.

Future Sex, by Emily Witt. Despite being almost three-quarters done (and not a long book), this one's feeling more and more like a slog. I've been reading the chapter on polyamory, which I have something of a personal stake in, and find so many problematic aspects with her analysis, stemming in large part from the fact that her case studies come almost entirely from a single demographic (rich white Silicon Valley workers in San Francisco). While I realize most practitioners of poly come from a background with a certain level of privilege (it's hard to juggle multiple relationships when you're working three jobs just to survive), there's all sorts of unexamined assumptions here, especially in the couple privilege and unicorn-hunting fields. The entire tone is faux-supportive-while-actually-being-condescending - "Look at these adorably earnest young people and how dedicated they are to their alternate lifestyle that their parents already tried and failed at in the 70s! But they really think they can make it work!" It reminds me a lot of the New York Times article on polyamory that generated a lot of justifiable resentment from the community - it's at least a more nuanced perspective than the usual "blog post illustrated by stock photo of three pairs of feet sticking out from under the covers", but nonetheless feels written to reinforce the couple-centric monogamous norm rather than challenge it.

Now that I think about it, that's probably my biggest issue with the entire book; supposedly the author's writing about possible roadmaps to future ways humans might engage with each other sexually, thanks to technology and changing social mores, and yet the whole book is written with a sense of exoticism - "Look at this! Isn't it strange/disgusting/fascinating/novel?" - that's very much at odds with its purported mission, and only serves to reinforce the "othering" of those particular lifestyle choices. Bleh.
I'll probably finish it, if only because I'm pretty close to the end already, but for a book I had such high hopes for initially, it's been awfully disappointing.


What I plan to read next

I'm beginning to feel like my reading style is downright Heisenbergian, or perhaps Schrödingeresque - there are possibilities, and maybe even probabilities, but the fact is I just can't know until I'm there. So as usual...stay tuned!

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