I TAKE MY BODY BACK

I've been sitting on this post, pondering what I wanted to share to explain how completely different I've felt for the last week. A week ago, P and I headed to see Thao & The Get Down Stay Down at the Woodward. It was one of the best shows I've been to, like ever, in my nearly 2 decades of showgoingtos (attendance?)

I was reading a bit more about the album I fell in love with, her most recent release, A Man Alive and it donned on me why I was so attracted to the sort of deep cut, "Meticulous Bird." She wrote about giving survivors of abuse, sexual abuse in specific, a space and anthem and words to scream: 

I find the scene of the crime, I take my body back

It hadn't occurred to me that might be why I was so attracted to this song, why I found myself listening on repeat for the last month, and how wonderfully combative it felt. But so that was all I wanted to hear—just that one song. I know, from years of going to shows, it is positively setting oneself up for heartbreak to have your mind and heart so set on hearing that one song, but I didn't care because I needed to hear her play that. She had a fantastic set and came back for the encore and covered Missy Elliot which was amazing and then went into this track. 

It was pure magic. For me, something shifted. It's been nearly 2.5 years since I was raped. I didn't even tell Patrick about it until 6 months after it happened. That was followed by an even harder, bumpier, year and a half of therapy and recovery. I went through many phases from denial (I couldn't even use the word rape until Patrick repeated it to me over and over when I referred to what I could only call an "incident"), to anger, to not talking about it, to only talking about it (telling strangers, people I just met because I needed them to see me to tell me I was in fact there and not the ghost I felt like), and after hearing this song, a since of closure and resolve. 

For the longest time, it's been about him: the person I trusted and cared about who raped me. It's been all reactionary, all consumed by this one night and this one thing he did to me. It became the defining mark of my identity, there was pre-rape Katrina and post-rape Katrina and this person got to exist as this hyphenating troll ruining my life and nearly ruining my relationship with Patrick. It takes an extraordinary amount of courage, forgiveness, kindness, and love to work through something that painful together. Finally, though, I feel as though I've arrived. 

I take my body back I take my body back I take my body back

The Sundays 04.10.2016

After looking back to last weekend, this one was totally pretty much the total opposite. We were busy with all kinds of fun things but I almost feel like I need a weekend to recover from my weekend! 

Looking back: This past week I got rid of the pink in my hair and went over to the dark side, so dark in fact, that Patrick has said I'm borderline goth. My appointment ran late, however, so I didn't make it to hear a former professor speak on politics and humor. I was happy to meet more new folks at the Brewery Book Club and to discuss a pretty good text but had to cram that in before Patrick and I headed to the Woodward to Thao & the Get Down Stay Down. That in itself will be a post I hope to get up this week. It was a phenomenal show. I also got to meet up with some of the girls from Girls Pint Out on Saturday for a lovely event sponsored by Artswave at one of my favorite watering holes in OTR.

Looking forward: I'm super pumped about heading to my first official Girls Pint Out event this week. I identify pretty much as an ambivert, though I'd say these days I'm definitely feeling that the scales tip more toward the introverted side than extrovert. So it's been a real mission lately to put myself out there and try and meet new people. Patrick and I have a full weekend of plans next weekend, so hopefully we will have a low key work week. It's been colder than I like, so I'm hoping for spring to return again and get these legs running again. I'm also hoping to make my way through more of this fascinating book I started, The Invention of Nature: Alexander von Humboldt's New World

 

Cincinnati Goddamn

Fifteen years. Fifteen . 

I didn't live in Cincinnati when the riots happened. I was just across the state line, in Indiana, probably thinking about what I was going to wear to my first prom. 

Timothy Thomas, just two years older than me, fled from police down an alley in Over the Rhine, where he was shot and killed. He was unarmed. 

I think about him often, I spend a lot of time in Over the Rhine, and I pass that place he was killed on a regular basis. If those walls could, the stories they'd tell.  

Patrick and I went this past Tuesday to a screening of April Martin and Paul Hill's feature-length documentary about police brutality and grassroots activism, Cincinnati Goddamn , at one of our favorite venues in Over the Rhine, The Woodward Theater. It was a compelling examination into the decades long institutional racism our city has experienced and the deaths of several black men at the hands of Cincincinati police officers.  

Admittedly, I cringed when a fact that is often quoted on my tour, a boasting about Over the Rhine being the "largest intact urban historic district" flashed on the screen among these stories of fractured families and communities caused by police violence. 

I've been thinking a lot about my own research and wanting to share stories of Over the Rhine and her history. I've been thinking about the voices you don't hear on tours and how to incorporate the stories of the often marginalized communities, to give them a seat at the table and let them share their stories, their histories, and their hopes.  I feel a real calling to try to do this work, because it's important to present history in a nuanced and critical way.

It has been 15 years. That's a lot of time for things to change, but the wheels of progress turn slowly. But at least, I suppose, they feel like they are turning. That's no doubt because people like Martin and Hill are presenting an opportunity for these important conversations to happen. 

You can purchase a copy of the documentary Cincinnati Goddamn here

The Sundays 04.03.2016

Goodbye, March! Hello April!

We had an absolutely terrific weekend. It was a perfect mix of productive and lazy and was full of recharging and relaxation. It was exactly what was needed after this week.  

Looking Back: 

We got to try out some new recipes thanks to trying out Marley Spoon subscription service. The first meal was a bust for me, but P really liked it. The second meal we tried knocked it out of the park though! It was these little meatloaf burgers served over rice with quick pickled cucumbers! I can't believe I haven't tried the quick pickling thing before, but damn it had me like: 

 

Today was really special because we got to celebrate with P's aunt who was celebrating her 50th year as a nun. It was a lovely service and we heard lots of really funny stories about her experiences joining the convent and what it was like to make a decision like that. P's mom (his aunt's older sister) shared how she had sent a sympathy card as joke to his aunt when she first moved to the convent after joining and little did she know, the mail was all opened before delivery to the sisters. His aunt got called in by the head nuns who wanted to know who had died! His mom has a real sassy spark to her and the biggest heart. 

Even though I don't hold the same religious affiliation/spiritual world views, I think that it is really great to celebrate the commitment to service and making the world a better place that his aunt has made for the last 50 years. I can't wait to go back and celebrate her 60th! 

Looking Forward:

I am so excited for this week.  It's gonna be a full one, but hopefully the kind that leaves you very happy even if very tired. Looking forward to seeing Thao & The Get Down Stay Down, a former prof from undergrad give a talk on humor & politics, my brewery book club meetup, and depending on how I'm doing by Saturday maybe a little Roller Derby? Shew, it will be fun. We're also getting our first delivery from Blue Apron so we'll see how making meals goes with that!

 

 

 

The Sundays 3.27.16

I've decided (schedule and life permitting) that sitting down to reflect on the past week and think about the week ahead might be a regularly scheduled post around these parts. In undergrad, my roommate and I instituted SNMN (Sunday Night Movie Night) as a means to curb those Oh-No-We-Have-To-Go-Back-To-The-Real-World-Because-The-Weekend-Is-Over-Blues. So maybe this is new iteration of that sort of blues-curbing/self-caring kind of thing.

Looking Back:

So let's see, what's in the past? This weekend was full of #hliðstæðu time. For once, Patrick and I didn't have a full weekend of obligations and plans, which was terrific. We had a super low key Friday at home. Saturday morning we started things off at Covington's Braxton Brewery for their 1 year anniversary party! In just one short year, they've really upped the game when it comes to delicious local beer. We also hit the cinema to see the much talked about 10 Cloverfield Lane which was so good (I'll probably end up writing a longer review on sometime soon).  We don't celebrate Easter, but our Sunday was still full of fun and sunshine as we toured around in Over The Rhine, enjoying some new brews and eating a delicious lunch at Pontiac. It's been so nice out we decided to invest in a new small bluetooth speaker to enjoy some tunes on the front porch and may have hit the jackpot when we found a Lisa Frank complete with rainbows and puppies speaker at a second hand bookstore. I may or may not have squealed at the sight of it. 

Looking Forward:

We are going to get our first delivery from Marley Spoon midweek so it will be fun trying to cook some new styles of cuisine for dinner. We are most certainly guilty of not getting outside the box around here, mostly because I'm guilty of having a "toddler diet" with my main food groups being tacos, pizza, and chicken nuggets. 

I'm really relieved to not have any commitments or plans for this week. It seems like such a rarity, so hopefully it means I'll play a lot of catch-up with my Omnifocus task list for dumb adult/house type duties—which would be nice because Spring brings such an anticipation for bringing things back to life and a deep cleaning around this corgwn/cat hair palace is definitely in order. 

Actually, technically we were to meet for our FWB: Friends with Books Book Club this week, but the book I had picked for this month has been an absolute bear and none of us have gotten through it, so we're aiming to meet up at the end of April. It's been a big exercise for myself to let go of what I would normally want to put in the total failure category, but not all books are good book club books, so we try, we learn, we move forward. Giving myself the space and permission for that has been a lot of work, but I'll get there.

Also totally can't wait to check this film out this week. It looks absolutely stunning.  Might even turn up later as a film review!

Here's to a fantastic week!

It wasn't a match, I say. It was a lesson.

 

Claudia Rankine's Citizen: An American Lyric  is unforgettable, unsettling, and unapologetic. It answers questions of what it means to be a person of color in America—she presents quite clearly what traumas, including those fatal moments where in a situation things occurred specifically because of racial aggression.  

It's heartbreaking. It's honest. It's brutal. 

Rankine's prose poems collectively show from a smaller personal scale, to national headlines, to celebrity athletic stages—there's a shared experience that exists as a person of color.  

On Hurricane Katrina, she writes:  

He said, I don't know what the water wanted. It wanted to
show you no one would come. 
He said, I don't know what the water wanted. As if then
and now were not the same moment.

From her poem "Making Room," Rankine recounts her experiences in public transit, her awareness to the way men of color are mistreated. It's this level of awareness, that beyond being a black woman, there are the difficulties of being a black man that she pens so beautifully. 

You sit next to the man on the train, bus, in the plane, wait- 
ing room, anywhere he could be forsaken. You put your
body there in proximity to, adjacent to, alongside within. 

There's a solidarity in her understanding. The experiences outlined in these prose poems are infuriating and collectively make me wonder, how does one deal with this? Perhaps, as the final lines suggest, not as matches, but rather as opportunity for lessons. 

 

image.jpg

I've got the Sundays.

This week was a bit of a doozy and I've started the weekend by spending Friday home sick from work. Lots of corgi cuddles have definitely helped on that end. Here's a little bit of what my week was like though.

 LISTENING:

 

I'm adding those three to my Iceland 2k16 driving mix for sure.

READING: 

In the process of reading a few titles:

  • Radiance of Tomorrow  by Ishmael Beah
  • Daughters of the Samurai: A Journey East to West and Back by Janice P. Nimura
  •  Junot Díaz and the Decolonial Imagination  edited by Monica Hanna, Jennifer Harford Vargas, and José David Saldívar
  • Fantasies of Identification: Disability, Gender, and Race by Ellen Samuels

WATCHING: 

  • Season 4 of House of Cards (OMG, CLAIRE I LOVE YOU SO MUCH) 
  • Pretty Little Liars (still a few episodes behind this season because seriously, wtf is happening)
  • Fixer Upper marathons a made for sick/lazy days
  • Vikings 

ANTICIPATING:

  • A fresh start this week with more sunlight in our days
  • Seeing Drive-By Truckers this week and avoiding all Ohio Primary coverage Tuesday night
  • Seeing Beertown at The Know Theatre for Patrick's birthday
  • seriously sore muscles after heading back to yoga tomorrow
  • my first Green Bean delivery this Friday—hoping for some better produce than our local grocer.

 

 

 

What I've Been Reading: Mini Reviews

Lately I've spent a lot of time with my nose buried in a book or two or three and it has been a mostly pleasant experience. I have a longer piece on Roxane Gay's Bad Feminist in the works that I'll be posting in the next week or so but until then I thought I'd share some of the other things I've read lately. 

image.jpg
image.jpg
image.jpg

It was some time during in the summer of 2015, I think, that I heard Ta-Nehisi Coates doing an interview on Fresh Air, discussing his book Between The World and Me. I knew immediately I needed to read it. Written as a long letter to his son, Coates heartbreakingly describes his own struggles as a black man in America. It's raw, emotional, and honest. As stated on the cover by Toni Morrison—This is required reading. 


Yusef Komunyakaa has been one of my favorite poets for the nearly 15 years now. Admittedly, I've kept myself rooted mostly in his Vietnam War poetry. What a disservice to myself! Picking up his newest collection, The Emperor of Water Clocks, it quickly became apparent why this won the Pulitzer Prize. As I took this around town with me, reading and sending bits of it to friends, I fell deeper in love with his jazz-influenced prose. 

The President of the United States of America
thumbs the pages slowly, moving from reverie
to reverie, learning why one envies the octopus
for its ink, how a man's skin becomes the final page.

from "The Day I Saw Barack Obama Reading Derek Walcott's Collected Poems"

There were so many pieces I loved in this collection, but I think "The Gold Pistol" is the one that really made an impression. It's one of the historical moment things, remembering where you were in finding out that Gaddafi had been found and murdered.  I think the day I read that one I sent it on to seven or eight different friends. It made such an impression. 


Terry Galloway's memoir, Mean Little deaf Queer, was a delightful find at Half Price Books one Saturday morning. I have a former professor and friend  who works within the intersection of Queer Theory and Disability studies. Since she's moved far away finding this on the shelf made me feel a little sentimental in my missing a scholar whose work I really admire. 

Galloway's memoir is an interesting one and coming off some earlier reading this year of Brown and Gilbert and concepts of identity and owning our own story. What I particularly enjoyed is, while memoir, Galloway has presented a very honest and at many times self-deprecating account. 

"I had a real shot at becoming, at the very least, the hero of my own story."

There was a really great passage toward the end of the book where Galloway is discussing the importance of stories and our owning our own and telling it. 

"In every sentence, every word of stories told I feel the presence of something still unspoken or as yet unheard, and I feel it as an emptiness akin to hope. There are so many more of us out here who don't know how to tell our own stories or make our own small triumphs compelling or simply convince others that we have souls as complex (or perhaps more so) as any movie star, politico, or prince of the realm. If we don't or won't or simply can't tell our own stories, does that mean we matter less or not at all?"

image.jpg
image.jpg

 

I started reading Helen Macdonald's H is for Hawk one morning and got some surprising news that one of the professors I taught under in my grad school stint had passed away. It was serendipitous, I guess. Working through her work, her grieving process over the loss of her father and her struggle and resolve to raise a hawk was really intriguing. She writes absolutely lovely lines. 

"There was nothing that was such a salve to my grieving heart as the hawk returning."
"There is a time in life when you expect the world to be always full of new things. And then comes a day when you realise that is not how it will be at all. You can see that life will become a thing made of holes. Absences. Losses. Thins that were there and no longer. And you realise, too, that you have to grow around and between the gaps, tho you can put your hand out to where things were and feel that tense, shining dullness of the space where memories are." 
"How can you love something, how can you fight to protect it, if all it means is loss?"

It was a difficult book to finish and in a lot of ways, I do not think I am finished with it. I think I'll return continually, flying back to her perch just as Mabel did. 


Lastly in this series of mini (or not so mini) reviews was the first book of the #hliðstæðu book club as I'm calling it wherein Patrick and I read books together, just the two of us. All The Light We Cannot See was the first book we tackled and it was incredible. The structure was interesting and the way that disparate characters were woven together and the utter and total pointlessness of war as written by Doerr was as entertaining as it was devastating. We still talk about the characters, as if they are old friends who we miss dearly and that kind of companionship I truly treasure. For our next #hliðstæðu book we're going to read a book that I've already read once, but so good it is worth a reread, especially since we will work our way through the trilogy so we need to start with book one. We're going to delve into the world of Eoin Miller at the hands of our friend and author Jay Stringer. It's a bit for nostalgia purposes, I finished Old Gold, the first book, right before our first trek to Iceland. It feels a little full circle to return to it (and introduce Patrick) here shortly before our return trip. 

Checkpoint/Check In

Typically I've done long lists of goals each year starting with my birthday. I started that a few years ago with a 28 before 29, 29 before 30, 30 before 31 etc. But this year I decided not to do that but then I got bit by the goal bug for 2016 and set some goals for this year. To keep myself focused on this, I thought I'd do a little check in every couple of months to do a progress report to see where I stand. 

So as I enter into the third month of 2016, here's where we're at:

  • Run the Cincy Beer Series: First race of the series is this weekend! I'm so not run ready, but it will still be fun to do this together with Patrick.
  • listen to (new to me) albums: pretty lacking in this one. I've been more into podcasts as of late rather than full album listens. So far this year new to me albums I've loved have been David Bowie's Blackstar and Sia's This is Acting
  • write some snail mail every month: some success here! I sent just because cards to several pals, sadly some sympathy notes, some valentines for my nieces and nephews, and notes with lovely poems for my sisters. 
  • go to a yoga class...like with other people...that's not in my living room: I went to my first yoga class in February! I was a bit over eager though and felt the pain for like a week. I'll definitely go to more though, it was a great experience.
  • read some of my own work at an open mic: haven't touched this one. I definitely need to work some more on the writing I'm doing to get reading ready. 
  • read more books and write reviews: am killing this one on the reading front, but not so much on the review front. There's some really great stuff I've encountered as of late so I would love to get some more reviews written because it really helps with the digestion of the material.  
  • record an EP: this is my far out goal, meaning, I really want to do this but haven't even begun to think about how or what or when I'll address this one. 
  • pass the ABO-AC exam: I decided this is going to be a late summer goal, I'll have some serious studying to do before I even register but the registering will be the first big step!
  • drink more water: this is exactly why I'm writing this recap, I'm failing miserably at this one. Maybe I need to get those little flavor squeezes to add to water to make me drink more?
  • start a book club with friends: Success, sort of. I started a book club but most folks had to bail on the first book, which was terrible anyways, but you live and learn. Patrick and I have a book selected to meet up and discuss for end of March and I'm also headed to my first book club meet up at a local brewery at the end of this week!
  • hike all the trails in our county park district: the wildly unpredictable weather here in Cincinnati have presented little opportunities so far, but hopefully spring temps are in the near future and crossing some of these off will be happening soon!
  • unplug more/practice quiet time for myself: I haven't been as successful at this one as I'd like to be, but letting myself have some really lazy days on the weekend has been a first step towards this one. 
  • write more about Cincinnati history (maybe a new tour?): have been doing lots of research but little writing on this, but the inspiration is definitely there.  
  • do amazing things in Iceland: can't touch this one for another couple of months, but the plans are in motion to do some way outside my comfort zone activities and I'm so pumped.
  • reduce spending/personal debt: doing just okay on this one. Have paid off the balance on one credit card but definitely haven't been as careful as I could be moneywise—so am trying one new behavior this month to see if it really works, which is to only pay in cash anytime I want to go out whether for drinks, dinner, movies, etc. I've read that this can really make yourself more aware of the act of spending so we'll give it a go here in March and see!
  • resist FOMO (fear of missing out): ha, how does one measure this really? I feel like I have made some progress, but I can definitely remember a few occasions where the FOMO was creeping in pretty fierce. But I still feel like I definitely declined a few invitations and just kept this goal at the forefront of my mind, even if my heart still fell susceptible. 

So there you have it. Overall, I think I'm doing fairly well at not letting these goals over complicate life, but definitely helping healthier habits develop. For the month of March I do have 2 more specific goals I want to tackle that I'm adding to my list: complete the March A Photo A Day Challenge on Instagram and Run 15 Times This Month.

A nice start to the new year: films!

Wow, tiny little break there in the writing but probably because I've been busy doing all the things. Lots of books, films, and albums to review from the start of this year, but let's focus here on the films, shall we?

It's been a pretty solid start and we've gone to some really great films so far. Here are the ones that were just absolutely terrific. 

image.jpg

We went and saw Spotlight on New Year's Day (told you I was playing a bit of catch up here) and it was a provocative story about the investigative team who broke the news on the Catholic Church covering up sexual abuse by its priests and clergy in Boston, MA. Not a spoiler here, but at the end of the film for several screens in small print the director listed all the cities around the US and World where similar cases have occurred. The sheer volume was staggering, but hearing everyone around us in the theater utter, "Cincinnati" when we saw our own name on that list was pretty telling. I never grew up Catholic and didn't encounter Catholic institutions until I worked on my undergrad, but Patrick was raised in the Catholic church and attended Catholic schools until he worked on his undergrad at a public university. Which, perhaps, readers, you were wondering when my counterpart might make his debut? Well, I present to you my introverted hliðstæðu, and his response to our first film viewing of 2016:

To me, Spotlight was a very interesting, if maybe a little overly dramatic (I recall lots of intense journalistic running). Having grown up in the Catholic church, the prevalence of abuse as conveyed by the movie was not at all surprising. My high school religion teacher, a minister, was arrested after I got out of school for having child pornography. Additionally, my parish priest was arrested around the same time for soliciting sex acts from a male police officer. Seeing the cover-up portrayed in Spotlight confirms much of what I suspected about that organization. 

That reminds me, we had a really interesting conversation on the way home from the film. Coming of age in this weird late 20th/early 21st parts of the centuries, I expressed to Patrick that I couldn't imagine complying and participating in this abusive community. He raised an important point, that pre-internet age, people didn't have a way to socialize and reach outside the grasp of the church. There were no tumblrs, chat rooms, online support groups for folks to be able to connect with one another and step outside faith which was/still is the cornerstone of so many of these communities. 

The power of the Catholic Church is far reaching still today and abuse is still such a  huge problem. Which for me, as an outsider, it seems that if they weren't so sexually repressed lots of people would probably have healthier attitudes about their bodies, desires, and how to communicate that in a safe way. But as I'm informed by my ex-Catholic partner, it would seem that's a really big deal and they aren't gonna change their minds anytime soon. But, shew. 

At any rate, for a film that's about investigative journalism (not really my thing) and the Catholic Church (also not really my thing), this one kept your attention and told an important story. 
 

    

Our next film viewing of the year was Trumbo, in which Bryan Cranston reminds us all that he's a goddamned genius. Admittedly, I was little disappointed in Louis CK's performance—he was almost like Tom Cruise. You know, like himself, playing himself, playing a character? Nevertheless, it was admirable to see the story of writers working to fight blacklisting during a dark time in our history (and not that long ago). A real gem to the film is Elle Fanning's performance as Trumbo's oldest daughter, Nikola. 

image.jpg

In conjunction with the French Film studies and French department at one of the local universities, we were lucky to catch the 2014 film Samba

I loved this movie. A brief synopsis—is that it follows an African man's experiences as trying to maintain work visas and gain citizenship in France and his female aide who is on a sabbatical trying to recover and find herself in charitable work with immigrants. In many ways they help themselves find each other. It's a really great film for raising questions of identity, nationalism, and language, and what happens when you strip those things away and are just human

image.jpg

Speaking of human.... the most human story without any actual humans—Anomalisa

We were so lucky to catch this one on the final showing at our local theater. I knew as soon as I saw this trailer that I had to see this film. I had no idea it would be set in my city, so that was a delight. The funny little jabs about our obsessions with chili (totally understand that) and our Zoo (meh, maybe not so much this one, but maybe that's just me) were interesting. I didn't recognize the name of the hotel the main character is staying, but upon looking into it—it turns out to be just another great Charlie Kaufman trick. 

The entire story played out so familiar to me... to Patrick, too. We all know someone who is a Michael Stone (the main character) or maybe you have a friend you see turning into this character. It really pulls at the heartstrings. I think the underpinning mood of the entire film was very Raymond Carver, one of my favorite writers, which is probably what attracted me to it so much. 

And honestly couldn't believe I would say this about a stop motion film, but it had one of the best, most honest and realistic sex scenes I have seen in film. Period. 

If it comes to Netflix sometime soon, I would definitely recommend a viewing, or you know, add it the other amazing films Kaufman has written and go on a bender. 
 

image.jpg

One of the most anticipated films for us... in search of a great horror film ever since we saw It Follows last year... The Witch.

The Witch was a suspenseful, creepy, claustrophobic film that really delivered in all the right ways. There have already been some really great critiques written about it—specifically the director's aims at presenting a mostly objective story (so much that The Church of Satan approved) involving witchcraft and the role of feminism in character development. The attention to detail in set design and dialogue to give the film a historical accurate depiction is notable. 

All the positive critique aside, Patrick and I were discussing how it is a strange film to recommend as some of the really great parts that set it aside from "typical" horror films may be a turn off for some folks. But the best kinds of films are the ones that give you nightmares (this one did) and make you think about them for days after the viewing. 

So all in all we've been doing pretty well at picking films lately. Just last night we saw The Boy and the World which I will include in a future review recap along with a few others I hope to see soon including: Touched with Fire, Krigen, The Lady in the Van, Son of Saul, Hello My Name is Doris, My Golden Days, and Midnight Special (duh, Michael Shannon).

 

Better late than never

Well it's only the 40th day of a new year, but I finally settled on a few goals—16 to be exact, for 2016. Let's dive into them, shall we? 

In no particular order they are: 

  • Run the Cincy Beer Series
  • listen to (new to me) albums
  • write some snail mail every month
  • go to a yoga class...like with other people...that's not in my living room.
  • read some of my own work at an open mic
  • read more books and write reviews  
  • record an EP 
  • pass the ABO-AC exam
  • drink more water
  • start a book club with friends
  • hike all the trails in our county park district
  • unplug more/practice quiet time for myself
  • write more about Cincinnati history (maybe a new tour?) 
  • do amazing things in Iceland
  • reduce spending/personal debt
  • resist FOMO (fear of missing out)

and there you have it. These are just the vague goals, but I'll work to quantify what it means as I look to achieve each one. Mostly, I want this year to be a year of mindfulness, one where I look to make the best decisions for my happiness, and one that is full of fun and amazing experiences.  

A never ending sentence in my head

Well I guess you could say I'm just a wee bit behind on listening to more new music this year. I listened to the new Bowie and was just kind of sad about music for the next couple of weeks. There's only one gal to pull you outta that kind of a slump and that's my girl, Sia. This Is Acting has been billed as a reject album, of bsides and songs meant for homes they never found with other artists. And I'm goddamn glad they never did. The pure, raw, unadulterated sounds that come out of Sia's lungs are the kind of thing that makes you stop in your tracks. Or, if you're like me, your brain listens to a song like, "Unstoppable" and the cranks start turning and you start thinking that maybe the internet does need more Jessica Jones fan videos. I mean, seriously.

The track "Space Between" is big, expansive, and dreamy. The lyrics are simple, but the way in which Sia's voice grows and swells feels like your getting pulled out in her vocal tide. It's okay, it's a beautiful floating feeling. It might be my favorite on the album, although admittedly many of the others had me dancing from my chair while listening and wanting to write this review. 

I think it's underdog in me, cheering for songs that weren't picked first for team. That were left standing against the wall,  waiting their turn so they could come out blazing that I find so satisfying. 

Yeah, this is gonna be on heavy rotation and pulling me out of Winter and into Spring (which is coming early this year—thanks Punxsutawney Phil (or Global Warming/Climate Change)!

Brews in Review: 02 Christian Moerlein's Big Piney and 03: Christian Moerlein's King Pin Cream Ale

image.jpg

A little over a week ago, Patrick and I headed out (on a school night) to attend the debut of Christian Moerlein's newest IPA, Big Piney. Admittedly my days of being over the moon for IPAs have passed. I think when I checked this in on Untapped, I got the Level 38 baggage for "I Believe in IPA," but there was something not quite hitting the right notes for me for this one. It has a bold, pine needle and citrusy flavor with some maltiness to it but ultimately it was underwhelming. I rated it 3.75 because it does what it says it will do, but the danky forwardness must be better suited for someone else.

We were discussing that it does seem that Moerlein tends to go with some safer recipe selections, sticking close to good traditional lager and ales. If ain't broke, don't fix it, right? I am interested in their attempts to go a little bolder and further, but not so far-fetched to suggest some weirdo combination of sriracha + mushroom + anchovy silliness for the sake of "innovation" or whatever. That being said, their King Pin Cream Ale was a good, safe, and pretty delicious selection we followed up after trying the Big Piney. It tasted like a traditional cream ale, with more of a lager fullness than say, my past summer favorite of their Strawberry Pig Cream Ale. I think the thing I discovered with King Pin is that I really like the fruitiness of other cream ales more than a simple cream ale, but nevertheless I would definitely order this one again if given the chance. 

image.jpg

2016: A Reading Challenge and First Review of the Year

Full disclosure: I have been, for the last several years, a terrible reader. I've started a gazillion titles and finished few. I wasn't always this way. As a child, I was a voracious reader, often stealing titles from my older sister's required reading lists while I was barely in junior high and as she was finishing out her high school career. To this day, One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich remains one of my favorite books---but it could be in part because my own mother tried to get it banned which only made me want to read it more and love it, which I did very dearly. I still remember being in an airport when I saw Solzhenitsyn's face come across the television screens and they announced his passing. I began rereading One Day... as soon as I landed home. 

For 2016, I decided I wanted to return to that. I wanted to be a reader again. I wanted to set a goal for myself that would push me outside my comfort zone of classical and celebrated white guy author canon and delve more into contemporary literature, but more specifically, literature penned by women and people of color. So as 2015 was coming to a close I devised a list of texts and began plotting my return to Actual-Reader-Land (not a real place, btw) and so far have been pretty successful. I even enlisted the help of peer pressure and started a bookclub (oh hai FWB: friends with books) and promptly went to task on tackling Kim Gordon's Girl in a Band. Since I'm going to discuss that with my FWB, I thought I'd start with my first (of what I hope become a regular thing here on the blog) review of the second book I finished this year, Rising Strong, by Brené Brown. 

How I came to read this book was from my total adoration for Brown following a read of her book, Daring Greatly, which helped me so much in my own healing process following a sexual assault. A lot of what is in Rising Strong builds on her work in Daring Greatly and her other work relating concepts of shame, vulnerability, and what she calls in this text: The Reckoning, Rumble, and Revolution. This text definitely included a deeper reading of her own personal experiences and that seems to be a major turn off for many readers and admittedly for myself as well. I love her exploration of what this all means in her own life is present in the text, but at times it seemed redundant and even a stretch to make the stories fit with her philosophy. Nevertheless, it seems to be a good philosophy and maybe best summed up with the following excerpts:

"I believe that vulnerability—the willingness to show up and be seen with no guarantee of outcome—is the only path to more love, belonging, and joy."
"Rising strong after a fall is how we cultivate wholeheartedness in our lives; it's the process that teaches us the most about who we are." 
"When we own our stories, we avoid being trapped as characters in stories someone else is telling." 

A lot of the story owning bit really resonated with me because it echoes much of Daring Greatly. And coming to that text in part of my own recovery process following my assault, I realized my identity was forever changed. But rather than being defined as merely a victim, I am able through wading through these vulnerability swamp lands and take back what Brown calls my "SFD" (shitty first draft):

"Our identities are always changing and growing, they're not meant to be pinned down. Our histories are never all good or all bad, and running from the past is the surest way to be defined by it. That's when it owns us. The key is bringing light to the darkness—developing awareness and understanding."

Overall, I would recommend Brown's work, but I definitely feel like this is better as a second or third read from her rather than the first text to gain an understanding of her work. 3 out of 5 stars. 

Where the fuck did Monday go?

David Bowie was dead: to begin with. There is no doubt whatever about that. 

Maybe it's because we just got over the holidays, but all I could think about was the opening to A Christmas Carol when I heard the news this morning. Or, I suppose in this day and age, when I first read about it on the internet.  Having nearly 99% of my friends who are musicians and that little sliver of 1% being music lovers, there's no way I could avoid the David Bowie shadow over this day. Oddly enough, the first album review I wanted to post here was for Blackstar, the first album I've listened to in 2016.  

With his recent departure, it feels even more as the critics are calling it: a parting gift for fans. And David Bowie was a generous and thoughtful gift-giver.  What terrific level of genius to turn something as difficult as facing cancer and death into provocative art. At just seven songs and clocking in around 41 minutes, the lyrics are peppered with a sentimentality about the fragility of life and echoes of religious references. I found the question---see title of this post-- from the track, "Girl Loves Me" as particularly intriguing with reference to how days all blend together and before you know it--- you're at the end of the week (and perhaps your life) left asking, wondering,  "Where the fuck did Monday go?" 

I feel like there's a bigger discussion to be had about the agency he held as a white man and the way he really utilized that agency to push barriers surrounding sexuality/love and relationships/identity --but perhaps next time.  

I never dressed as Ziggy Stardust for Halloween, but I loved Bowie as the Goblin King in Labyrinth. I appreciated his androgyny, his line-blurring, his celebration of the weird. His influence will surely be long lasting and as so many have already declared affectionately today:  "The stars look very different today." 

beginnings

It's funny. I have blogged on and off for the last decade or so, but have locked up all proof with the exception of a much neglected tumblr. Some of my greatest problems with blogging, besides coming of age when the entire personal style blog wave of sponsors and affiliations was really getting underway---were that I struggled to maintain a routine schedule or any semblance of fitting into a genre of sort. I enjoyed crafting personal style outfit posts but lacked all skill when it came to DIY tutorials. My photography skills were minimal at best and my interests weird, like really weird, and varied. To be honest,  I mostly enjoyed escaping the difficulties that were my life as an undergrad and a while later, a graduate student.  

Fast forward a few years and some major life changes and I'm back at it again. I want to use my little corner of the internet to document snippets of my life: review what I'm reading, what I'm listening to, films I love/hate, Queen City historical discoveries, plans for our upcoming return to Iceland,  to discuss life as the mama to two wild corgi pups, and if I'm really feeling up to it an outfit post or two. 

So welcome, I'm Katrina. I'm a recovering academic, feminist,  progressive, booze connoisseur and craft beer aficionado,  lover of all things Iceland, Queen City history nerd, and mother of corgwn (and three lovely kitties). Won't you stay a while?