Brand me? Brand *this*

On a lark, I signed up for a “BrandYourself” account a few weeks ago.

I’d read about it via a Quartz link and was curious. I’ve been living outside the US Culture Bubble for about two decades now, so I’ve largely missed the “OMG my employer is checking my SNS posts” terror that (apparently) has been sweeping the nation.

My first BrandYourself warning: You have 738 Risk Factors!

OMG. What were they? Was I really putting myself at risk? Continue reading

The beating of my hideous heart!

So much for my New Year’s resolution of writing more regularly on my blog.

I can blame “writer’s block,” which is sometimes just a convenient excuse for general laziness and sometimes stems from a genuine fear of being entirely uncreative and uninnovative.

(My software program tells me that uninnovative is not a real word. Well, now it is. So there.) Continue reading

Winter: A Time to Read

Since becoming sick this past November (first a momentary, sudden illness in the pit of my stomach…), I’ve found it difficult to stay 100% healthy as winter has well and truly set in. It’s not terribly cold where I live (the middle of Honshu, the main island of Japan), but the up-and-down irregular temperature pattern this year has made it easier to catch colds, influenza, and other upper respiratory sicknesses.

So while down in the dumps with the mumps (which I contracted over New Year’s from my two children, despite having been vaccinated against it as a child…different strain here, perhaps), I’ve tackled a reading book list compiled from last summer. Even managed to finish one or two! Continue reading

Thoughts on the eve of tomorrow

As I sit here in front of my computer late at night, on the verge of the 2016 US presidential election, I’m struck by the choice I had to make. Two different versions of a future US society: one that invites multidiversity and multiethnicity in all their chaotic, unpredictable combinations, and one that shuts the door and preserves a traditional us vs them, insider vs outsider mentality.

By all rights, I should support the latter. I’m from a small town of less than 3,000 inhabitants, close to 99.99% white, deep in the heart of Upstate New York. I grew up surrounded by people who basically looked like me, enjoyed camping and hiking, canoeing and fishing, playing baseball and football and video games. Driving. A lot. I did yard work when I was old enough to get my working papers (back then, you didn’t get your social security number until you applied for it after age 14). In the spring, I helped my father in the garden. In the summer I mowed lawns. In the fall I raked leaves. In the winter I shoveled driveways. In high school, I had a part-time at a local pizza place, then at McDonald’s, then washed dishes in a nearby town. All our customers were white. All of them spoke English. It was all just fine, everybody looking the same and acting the same. Everybody just like me. Continue reading

September to April

A couple of weeks away from submitting Notes from the Nineties to the online proofing system…

Here’s a sample poem to whet your appetite (story excerpts coming soon!)


September to April

September

I want to do a creative graduate thesis, he said.

In that case, you should keep a diary, his advisor suggested. Write every day.

OK, he said.

And bring me a story or two to look at.

OK.

October

These aren’t stories, his advisor informed. These are more like diary entries. Continue reading