Quote of the Day: “just so bleeding tired”

Lamorna Ash’s first stop in Newlyn is, naturally, a pub:

“When you first come in,” . . . Nathan later tells me . . . “you literally do not know what to do with yourself. And you’re tired; you are just so bleeding tired that the easiest way out is to go to the pub and turn your brain right off.”

Seeking sanctuary in the pub becomes a way of numbing yourself within an environment that itself does not feel quite of the land, more an extension of your time at sea — filled with gumbooted men straight off their boats who retain the strong aroma of fish.

Dark, Salt, Clear, p. 18

Caroline Kim, Very Much on Self’s Mind

Dear blog readers, are you in for a treat.

Caroline Kim, winner of the Drue Heinz Literature Prize, and currently on the Long List for the PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize for Debut Short Story Collection, has agreed to share with self her process for writing a short story.

The story we’ll be parsing is Mr. Oh, the first story in the collection. Among other things, self will be asking her why this story came first. Or, put another way, how does she decide the order in which to put her stories?

Caroline’s answers to self’s questions will be posted next week. But read her story first. Read her collection, the entire collection. If you think of any questions, you can leave comments here, and self will pass on to Caroline.

So excited! SQUEEEE!!!

MERRY CHRISTMAS!

A Corona Journal: October 2020

1 October 2020

  • The tweet informing America that the President has covid went out at 1 a.m., Eastern Time. He went on the debate with Biden and might have had it then. I imagine he doesn’t look very good. His droplets flew back and forth, across the stage, for 90 minutes. His boorish children sat at the first row and removed their masks (against the rules of the organizers). I did not know whether to be happy, sad, or angry, On the one hand it was nice to imagine all the Trumps turned into zombies, But the rest of us –?

8 October 2020

  • Trying to create a sense of disgust towards food so that I will stop eating for comfort and lose weight. Hopeful that I can again make public appearances — how awful if no one recognized me because I turned into Jabba the Hut! I try the most disgusting recipes: how to cook Ball Park Franks in your crockpot. No water required! Just drop in the dogs! Set on high! The franks will cook in their own juices! In one hour, the dogs will begin to brown wherever they touch the sides of the pot! Holy cow, I think. Holy cow!

22 October 2020

  • A beautiful day. Beautiful. I am taking the opportunity to write before the debate begins. I did not watch the first because I do not need to hear or see a second more of the Malignancy. Today, in preparation, I’m on CNN. Mark Meadows, WH Chief of Staff, is talking to Wolf Blitzer: “When you test more, you’re going to get more cases. I do believe we’re rounding the corner.” That again? Wasn’t that the line three months ago? Is he running out of talking points? The Malignancy has never, not once, urged the American public to wear a mask.

On the Ground in North Carolina: NPR News Report, 11 Sept 2020

  • “Saying he did more for blacks than any President since Abraham Lincoln is the biggest lie he ever told . . . Mark my words, we’re gonna turn the mother out in North Carolina.” — Rep. Alma Adams, representing the 12th District of North Carolina
  • “People here just love the way he (Trump) is able to speak directly about the issues . . . without anger,” — young man near Raleigh, North Carolina. “He really cares. He’s been here three times in the past few weeks. We haven’t seen Biden in at least six months.”

Stay safe, dear blog readers. Stay safe.

Gizmodo: Shoreh Aghdashloo

The real reason self started watching The Expanse was Shoreh Aghdashloo. Her deep (world weary) voice imprinted itself on my brain, ever since I saw her in The Lake House. She is perfect in the role of Chrisjen Avasarala.

An excerpt from her interview with Gizmodo:

  • “With entertainment, we bring people together. And bringing people together is half a step to unite them. When we get united, we’re sort of healed, because we know the person next to us doesn’t hate us—doesn’t love us, love is a strong word and I’m not asking for it—but is living peacefully next to me.”

She is so smart! And articulate! Read the entire piece here.

Stay safe, dear blog readers. Stay safe.

RISING, DISPATCHES FROM THE NEW AMERICAN SHORE, p. 45

Lately my feeling is that I need time to just be here before I can decide whether to stay or not. My guess is that I will tap into so much gratitude for my life alongside this marsh that I may just become an old lady who drowns right here.

— Laura Sewell, resident of Small Point, Maine

BARRACOON: The Door of No Return

It took self a few days to get through the Foreword by Alice Walker and the Introduction by Deborah G. Plant. Now, she’s about to begin the book proper.

Just before the Preface is a photograph:

dscn0041

That little gap of ocean was all the slaves saw as they crowded together in the Slave House, the last stop before they were loaded onto ships that took them to lands of untold misery.

Zora Neale Hurston in the Preface, dated 17 April 1931:

I was sent by a woman of tremendous understanding of primitive peoples to get this story.

It is so uncommonly sad to read the Preface. The slaves entered the barracoon as human beings; little did they know it would be the last time they would feel themselves as such. From that point onward, they were mere cattle.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Anastasia Ivanovna Medvedkina, Machine Gunner

You’re a writer. Think up something yourself. Something beautiful. Without lice and filth, without vomit . . . Without the smell of vodka and blood . . . Not so frightening as life.

— from The Unwomanly Face of War, by Svetlana Alexievich

Taissia Petrovna Rudenko-Sheveleva, WWII Company Commander, the Moscow Fleet

A woman in the navy . . . that was something forbidden, even unnatural. People thought it would be bad luck for a ship . . .  In our village the women teased my mother to death: what did you give birth to — a girl or a boy? I wrote a letter to Voroshilov himself, asking to be accepted in the Leningrad Artillery School. They accepted me only on his personal order. The only girl.

When I finished the school, they still wanted me to stay on dry land. Then I stopped telling them I was a woman . . . on one occasion, I gave myself away. I was scrubbing the deck, suddenly heard a noise, and turned around: a sailor was chasing a cat that had ended up on the ship, no one knew how. There was a belief, probably from the earliest times, that cats and women bring bad luck at sea. The cat didn’t want to quit the ship, and its dodges would have been the envy of a world-class football player. The whole ship was laughing. But when the cat nearly fell into water, I got frightened and screamed. And it was evidently such a girlish treble that the men’s laughter stopped at once. Silence fell.

I heard the commander’s voice: “Watchman, is there a woman on board?”

“No, sir, Comrade Commander.”

Panic again. There was a woman on board.

. . .  I was the first woman to be a commissioned officer in the navy. During the war I was in charge of arming the ships and the naval infantry.

  • — from an oral interview in Svetlana Alexievich’s The Unwomanly Face of War (Penguin Books), translated by Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky

Svetlana Alexievich: Women, War

“I observed more than once how in their conversations the small overrode the great, even history.” — Svetlana Alexievich

“It’s a pity that I was beautiful only during the war . . .  My best years were spent there. Burned up. Afterward I aged quickly . . . ” — Anna Galai, submachine gunner

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