Movement on the 2020 Reading List

Just finished Someone Who Will Love You in All Your Damaged Glory, by Raphael Bob-Waksberg, and it was glorious.

Now reading The Goblin Emperor, by Katherine Addison.

Self’s next two books are I Capture the Castle, by Dodie Smith, and Brideshead Revisited, by Evelyn Waugh. She found a review in The Economist about great houses in fiction, and those two books came up in the course of. She thinks she read Brideshead Revisited, but so  long ago that all she remembers is a British mini-series of the same name, with an actor with the improbable name of Anthony Andrews playing Sebastian.

Monday is off to an excellent start.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Last Short Story in Someone Who Will Love You In All Your Damaged Glory

More of the You that You Already Are

The Situation: The narrator works in a theme park called (self thinks) PresidentLand, and his job is to pretend to be Chester A. Arthur, which as we all know is not as fun as pretending to be FDR or even Jimmy Carter. Anyhoo, the narrator’s sister is also dying of cancer. And he needs to work because that is how he pays for her medical insurance. One day, his mother calls:

Your sister is going into surgery and she is very scared.

And I’m like, You want to get a job? Cause if not, who is going to pay for this surgery?

And she’s like, You know I can’t work on account of my shaky hands.

And I go, I know, Mom. Could you put Ramona on, please?

I wander into the midway and linger by the McKinley Shooting Gallery.

Ramona takes the phone and goes, I wish you were here. Mom is being so crazy.

And I go, I wish I was there too. How are you doing? Mom says you’re scared?

And right there is when self’s heart breaks into a million little pieces.

Self’s Dear Departed Dad said, before he died, I’m scared.

And self’s Dear Departed sister looked at self with such fear, and then she died (She was 34, she got streptococcal pneumonia)

And then self’s DEAREST Sister-in-Law Ying, who was more like self’s sister, got leukemia Stage IV and told self, I’m scared. And then SHE died.


The narrator manages to sneak out of the theme park (first stashing the head of his President, Chester A. Arthur, behind some bushes) and rushes to the hospital and he’s really upset and asks a doctor if his sister’s dead. The doctor says, “No, not dead, no! She’s just comatose.”

Self really feels for this story because when she was a lowly adjunct professor in Foothill Community College, her Dear Departed Sister-in-Law, Ying, was dying in Tel Aviv. And out of a feeling of terrible desperation, self took one week off and gave her class make-up assignments and flew to Tel Aviv. And when she returned to her class, the Dean was extremely extremely irate. And self never did recover her footing after that. Because Ying died. She died a few days after self had returned to teaching. So that was a really bad time. The worst. Also because the Dean cut her no slack. That was so long ago now that self hardly feels any anger at the Dean when she writes this.

Stay tuned.


UCLA Extension Writers Program: Essential Beginnings in Nonfiction

Class begins Wednesday, but students will be able to access the course materials tomorrow.

Self has always loved teaching this particular class.

It’s short: only five weeks. And it’s on-line. Something about the on-line format makes this class feel very safe. She will not be sharing material from this class (or any class), but she just wants to say: if the thought of being in workshop with 14 other people who will possibly hate your work makes you tremble with anxiety, you can take this on-line class and you will still tremble in anxiety (Her deadlines are firm; your grades will suffer. Yes, she grades) but at least no one can actually see you tremble or break out in a sweat, because you’re on-line! So you can clutch your blankie or whatever as you read your classmates’ comments on your work. You can even have a breakdown. It will all feel so intimate. But the on-line format gives you an extra layer of security. No one will hear your voice squeak when you get emotional, no one will see your changing facial expressions, and no one can tell if you’re posting in your pajamas.

But the students pull something out of her. And she can pull something new out of them. Every single time.

Some (if not all) have day jobs. Some take the class from New York City, others from Beijing and Tokyo. She’s had students take the class from South Korea and from a US Army base in Berlin, even from a tent in Guatemala. It is pretty interesting to read the introductory bios:  I’m a swimmer. I’m a journalist. I write screenplays. I’m a retired Army General. I’m a stay-at-home Mom. I’m a lawyer.

She took a year off from teaching, so this is her first time to be with students since . . . well, since last year. She has really missed teaching this.

Stay tuned.

The life of B

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