Converge 2: WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge, Week of Nov. 28 (2014)

2014 was absolutely packed with occurrences, dear blog readers.

Since CONVERGE is the theme of this week’s WordPress Photo Challenge, self is having a lot of fun looking back at the pictures she took this year.

Keeping in mind that the focus has to be on “geometrically-rich photos,” self chose: a painting, a picture taken during Redwood City’s Annual Fourth of July Parade, and Dublin’s Connolly Station (Self was en route to Sligo on what turned out to be William Butler Yeats Day; Yeats was born in Sligo)

Rauschenberg? At the Los Angeles County Museum of Art

Rauschenberg? At the Los Angeles County Museum of Art

Spectators at Redwood City's annual Fourth of July Parade: July 2014

Spectators at Redwood City’s annual Fourth of July Parade: July 2014

Irish Rail: Out of Dublin's Connolly Station, Train to Sligo: June 2014

Irish Rail: Train to Sligo Pulling Out of Dublin’s Connolly Station, June 2014 (Self was experimenting with the “soft” setting on her camera so yes, that blurring is deliberate)

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

CHINESE YANKEE, by Ruthanne Lum McCunn

(Not a third-person post, for once!)

Many of the stories in my second collection, Mayor of the Roses, were shaped when I was in a writer’s group with Ruthanne Lum McCunn.

Lives diverge, self hasn’t seen Ruthanne for many years.

But, a month or so ago (first I typed “weeks ago” then decided to double-check the date on Ruthanne’s e-mail — time moves like a river oh me my), I got an e-mail saying she’d written a new book: Chinese Yankee, a True Story From the U.S. Civil War (Design Enterprises of San Francisco, $16)

Here’s something from the Hong Kong South China Morning Post:

Chinese Yankee is an extraordinary story that still resonates 150 years later. With her empathy for the central character and her engaging and accessible prose, McCunn is ideally qualified to tell the tale.

Ruthanne Lum McCunn is also the author of: Sole Survivor, God of Luck, The Moon Pearl, Thousand Pieces of Gold, Wooden Fish Songs, Chinese-American Stories, and Pie-Biter.

More about Chinese Yankee can be found here.

Stay tuned.

Heart Broke Right Here: pp. 132-133 of Hans Fallada’s EVERY MAN DIES ALONE


In Hans Fallada’s novel, a couple named Otto and Anna, residents of Berlin, have received news that their only son, a soldier in the German Army, has just been killed.

News of the death is delivered on p. 2. Once that’s been established, the novel focuses on the bereaved parents.

On p. 132, Otto comes up with a plan (Before that, their son’s death opened up all kinds of silences into which the couple’s marriage was slowly disappearing).

Anna is the more fiery of the pair, and she has envisioned some “great” gesture of political protest: assassinating the Fuhrer, perhaps.

Imagine her disappointment when her husband reveals that all he wants to do is write “postcards with slogans against” Hitler and “leave them lying in the stairwells of widely visited buildings, leave them to their fate, without any control over who picked them up, where they might be trampled underfoot . . . ”

Hesitantly, Anna says, “Isn’t this thing that you’re wanting to do, isn’t it a bit small, Otto?”

“Whether it’s big or small, Anna,” her husband says, “if they get wind of it, it’ll cost us our lives . . . ”

Stay tuned.


EVERY MAN DIES ALONE, by Hans Fallada, p. 118

The book self is currently reading is very bleak. It’s set in World War II Berlin and tracks the lives of ordinary Berliners, all of them residents of one apartment building. The people have lived there since before Hitler, so naturally the population includes some Jews.

The very title of the book should serve as a warning. For a while self debated the wisdom of reading a book like this just before Thanksgiving. For a while she worried that the book would make her feel depressed, isolated, alienated. But the sobering reality is: reading this book makes self feel — paradoxically cheerful.

Reading a book like Every Man Dies Alone (The translation from the German is by Michael Hofmann, the publisher is Melville House) is tremendously eye-opening, even therapeutic. It makes self question every single complaint she’s made in the past week/month/year/decade.

Self can’t help thanking her lucky stars that she lives in California. Safeway is less than a mile away, which means it is very walkable, Hallelujah! As an American living in California, she is surrounded by a plethora of pleasurable distractions. Like animated movies (“Penguins of Madagascar” was great). Like fan fiction. Like “Gotham” which shows every Monday night. Consumerism does tend to dull the senses.


In the section self is on, a Jewish woman whose apartment has just been ransacked by her neighbors is given refuge by a retired judge. He gives her strict instructions not to go out, blah blah blah.

After spending a day in utter loneliness and mental anguish (Her husband is in prison, she has no one to talk to, etc etc), she decides to go out. Next thing you know, she runs into some brownshirts, tells them her name (Frau Rosenthal), tells them her husband is incarcerated somewhere, and that she has two sons.

What? What? What?

Oh boy, self can hardly wait to see what happens next. She is really worried for that retired judge!

Stay tuned.


The blogging challenge keep you motivated and start the new year on the "write" track!

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