the king of attolia, by megan whalen turner

Fields can be reseeded every year, but there is little point in planting trees that will be cut down before they grow old enough to bear fruit. So, where there is no peace, there are no trees.

the queen of attolia, by megan whalen turner

Steal peace, Eugenides. Steal me some time.

my year of rest and relaxation, by ottessa moshfegh

I can’t say it didn’t hurt me that she held herself at such a distance. But to confront her about it would have been cruel. I had no right to make any demands.

proposed staycation-jaunts

ETA: success!

back in the saddle

A big week round these parts: Claire got her braces off. I got out of the moon boot, retrieved my car from the barn, got a job, and rode Bentley for the first time in two and a half months. We saw a heron and an eagle mantled over its prey. Bentley, as whorled in his winter coat as a bear, arched his neck and stepped prettily through the mud. If I never jump again, if I never even trot, I will be so happy just to be able to sit on a horse, walking around the park like Queen Elizabeth, looking at the world more charitably through a pair of pricked ears.

red clocks, by leni zumas

And at this point, what else can she do? You could stop trying so hard. You could love your life as it is.

heartland, by sarah smarsh

The defining feeling of my childhood was that of being told there wasn’t a problem when I knew damn well there was.


As promised, Thanksgiving was the first day I left the crutches at home. I still wear the moon boot to clomp around, and I tire very easily. Breaking your leg at 47 is different from breaking it at 16. Medical technology is way better, for one thing. I had a spinal rather than a general anesthetic and I was up and about in a matter of hours. The two plates holding my tib and fib together were custom-milled in Fremont to match the curves of my bones. The moon boot is an infinite improvement over a plaster cast, and I can take it off for showers. You also get treated very differently, and much more respectfully, as a silver-haired, highly-educated captain of industry than you did as a clueless teen.

In lots of other ways of course it was worse, and I’m stir crazy and I’ve read too many library books and watched WAY too much TV. Hurry up healing factor you bastard, I gotta get outta here.

a life of my own, by claire tomalin

Looking back at what I know about only from their accounts, I see my young father advancing toward a fate that will change his prospects and character, driving him close to madness. And my mother too will be transformed, crushed and partly destroyed. Yet things began simply and happily between these two gifted and attractive creatures when they met and were drawn to one another. For both of them, reaching London was a reward won through hard work.

small fry, by lisa brennan-jobs

My mother said asbestos was insulation that turned out to be a kind of poison, and I thought about this at the farm, how clean the air was, how lush the farm, yet built on the proceeds of poison.

the witch elm, by tana french

I had been wondering why my aunts had quit leaving me voicemails, why my cousins’ texts had dried up. I had figured, with a hot scraped soreness, that it was because they were sick of me not answering and had decided not to bother any more. It came as a shock, cut with a bit of shame and a bit of outrage, to realize that it had had nothing to do with me.

the golden state, by lydia kiesling

Maybe the malaise, all the rotting homes and sagging enterprise, are punishment for taking the land. Maybe nothing good is ever happening on this land again for anybody.

the line becomes a river, by francisco cantú

You asked me once how it felt looking back on my career. Well, the Park Service is an institution, an admirable one, but an institution nonetheless. If I’m honest, I can see now that I spent my career slowly losing a sense of purpose even though I was close to the outdoors, close to places I loved. You see, the government took my passion and bent it to its own purpose. I don’t want that for you.

dead girls, by alice bolin

The Gothic as a literary aesthetic is completely entwined with the sins of colonialism and the unwelcome and uncanny ways they manifested themselves in Europe. The chaotic forces in the Brontës’ haunted-house stories are albatrosses of the colonial world, like the Caribbean madwoman Bertha Rochester and the dark changeling Heathcliff, whom other characters surmise could be Indian or American.

the one with the politics

I’m gonna assume that if you stumbled across my tiny angry queer blog somehow and didn’t run away screaming, we’re not in violent disagreement about Right Versus Wrong or Should Babies Be In Prison or Are Black Or Indigenous Or Trans People Human or any of the other hotly disputed issues of the day. I started calling my members of Congress the day after the 2016 elections. I’ve written fistfuls of postcards. I got so active in my local Indivisible group, they eventually drafted me into leadership. My first order of business was partnering with SwingLeft to canvass in our local GOP-held Congressional district, CA-10.

CA-10 stretches from the foothills of Mt Diablo right across the Central Valley to the Sierra. It’s all of Stanislaus and a big chunk of San Joaquin counties. The big towns are Tracy and Turlock, Manteca and Modesto; the big industries are agriculture and being a bedroom community for Sili Valley. You can get from Tracy to San Jose in just under two hours on the Altamont Corridor Express. My first impressions of Tracy, back in January, were grim. Much of the town was carved out of cow-pastures in the 1990s, that nadir of domestic architecture where success equalled building a beige cube to occupy the maximum municipally permitted volume over its lot. My first day, I canvassed with a clipboard in a depressing mall on the suburban/rural border, complete with flashbacks to my adolescence as a supermarket cashier in same. It was rainy and cold. I talked to two Trump voters, one of them a woman. It was awful.

Things got a lot better when I started taking cronies from SF and knocking on doors. Even the Trump voters were pleasanter, and our fellow Dems are family. Tracy is much nicer in the sunshine, and it’s sunny most of the year. The very significant upside of those cow-pasture subdivisions is that the gardens are glorious. The most memorable was a little bungalow that had ripped out its lawn and replaced it with gorgeous native meadow plants – talk about life goals – but everyone had something amazing: vigorous bougainvillea or California poppies, jade plants spreading into whole jade trees, mature redwoods, tree ferns from my island home, and the wildlife to go with them: cheery, chatty murders of crows, raptors soaring on thermals, hummingbirds buzzing among the fuchsia, SO many butterflies.

I got fond of the drive out, through Crow Canyon with all its mustard plants, over the Altamont pass. (Less of the drive home through the traffic in the Maze.) I recruited enough folks that I had to drive a minivan to hold ’em all! Then I broke my leg. My good friend the esteemed Jack took over the minivan, and reports that almost 200 people showed up on Saturday – we used to get 20-30. I’m gonna miss the big finish in person, but today I signed up for texting all over the country. Man, has the technology ever moved along! It’s a far cry from Hillary HQ. I’m with Red2Blue, a class operation focused on cleaning lists and setting us up for success in future campaigns. We’re using Slack, GDocs and Relay. We survey. We sweep.

Some days, I can almost convince myself there are gonna be future campaigns.

But whether we win or not – and not seems likely; I’m not sure we can retake the Senate even if we retake the House – I’ll keep doing this. I should’ve been doing it all along. It’ll take more than electoral disasters or broken bones or rapidly collapsing democracies to stop me. I’ve been training for the resistance all my life.

long overdue catchup

Goodness, it has been a while, hasn’t it? We had a pretty good summer. We went to Los Angeles and saw the Bladerunner building and a spaceship.

We went to Portland and saw some waterfalls.

Oz, obvs.

Then Alain and Ross came to visit, and I dragged them over half of Northern California. Santa Cruz, Monterey, Muir Woods, Yosemite, Calistoga. They were thoroughly good sports about it.

All this and we saw Ray of Light’s Jesus Christ Superstar, the Berkeley Rep’s Angels in America, Panic! at the Disco and Fall Out Boy in concert. I’m so lucky I did all those trips and went to all those shows, because the Monday after the boys went home, I had to do an emergency dismount from this gorgeous and wholly blameless fellow:

Suffice to say that for once I did not stick the landing. Now I have an ankle full of titanium and I’m on crutches till Thanksgiving. Still, though. Worth it.

band sinister, by kj charles

“It’s not that I don’t trust you, it’s just, I’ve spent my whole life not saying anything to anyone, barely to myself in my own head, and now you want me to say it all out loud, and I can’t.”

exit strategy, by martha wells

Note to self, never, ever jump into a gunship with a bot pilot and fight off a construct Attacker code again. You almost deleted yourself, Murderbot.

all we can ever know, by nicole chung

We were sisters, at last, because we had decided we should be.

the rules do not apply, by ariel levy

My mother was happy in a way I never knew I could make her, and this made me love her with an openhearted abandon I had not experienced since childhood.