November and December 2020 media round up

What I read during November and December 2020

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They said this would be fun by Eternity Martis

This is an unfiltered memoir about Eternity's 4 years attending Western university (a predominantly white campus) as a racialized person. I must admit that my own university experience was extremely uneventuful compared to hers. I was and continue to be a non-drinker, non-party-er, and non-social person!! I found myself wanting to pull her outta all the toxic situations she found herself in, and that she eventually finds more opportunities to stay true to herself, and love herself more.


Disability Visibility edited by Alice Wong

This was some much needed-reading on my part because I am soooooooooo unknowing about disability-related experiences. The format of the book is short writings/essays/stories by different authors, organized in loose themes. I appreciated how intersectional the book was through its inclusion of a wide variety of stories and writers from different backgrounds. I am grateful to this book for introducing me to more voices, and so much more...it's just the tip of the iceberg, re: how much I need to learn.


Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer

I first saw this book because it was recommended on Wonderpens...but honestly had no real idea about what it was about and just added it to my HOLDS in my library account. There was a 8+ week hold, due to its popularity. As a plant lover and a (former?) scientist, I was pleased to find out that there is a big plant component to the book! You can really feel the author's passion and respect for all things living: the descriptions of her experiences and relationship and JOY that she feels when she is in the moment, observing and respecting nature. I also like the critique of English language and science, and how it others humans from all other living things, which is fundamentally different from how many Indigenous cultures associate with the world. She also wrote about her struggles to reconcile the feelings of gratitude/reciprocation and science/traditional ways of thinking and living. I thought that it offered a fairly clear viewpoint about our paths forward: we've done a lot of damage, and merely stopping the damaging isn't going to help; we have to work on restoring our relationship with mother earth. I will think hard about my gifts, and how I can reciprocate back to nature.

The book felt long to read; I think this is driven by the fact that (a) my book was almost overdue and I was in a mad scramble near the end, and (b) the author finishes her chapters with extremely eloquent closure/lessons statements, so it gave me the false impression MULTIPLE TIMES that I was done reading/the book was over (I'm reading an ebook copy from the library), but NOPE there was still more to go! I'm grateful that I had time to really think deeply about what I read in this book.


Today's music post: Inuugannuk by Terry Uyarak.

October 2020 media round-up

What I read during October 2020

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Honey & Clover 1-10 by Chica Umino (2000-2006)

Ahh, coming of age, self discovery, multiple love triangles (in all senses of love), and art school woes, coupled with beautiful artwork that seems both effortless, beautiful, and hilarious. I gotta say that I got so many Wai vibes from the art/expression/paneling (especially the exaggerated freak out parts). So if you like Wai's work, you'll probably like H+C, vice versa. The way that the title "honey and clover" is woven into the ending was chef's kiss.

The author draws herself as the best bear ever in her freetalk!!!!!!!!!!!!! Freetalk goals!!!!

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Untamed by Glennon Doyle (2020)

I listened to the ebook narrated by the author, which I've never done before, but it's quite effective because I could hear her passion in the delivery of her words. She uses a caged/zoo-born cheetah as an analogy at the beginning of the book that is carried throughout the prose. I'm about to butcher it:

The cheetah in the zoo has never been in the "wild" before. She has a Labrador dog best friend as a role model. As a performance for the visitors of the zoo, the dog first demonstrates running after a dirty pink bunny plush down a race course track. Later on, the cheetah does the same, but does it much faster and is rewarded with a store-bought steak for her performance/obedience.

The cheetah is a representation of a creature who has never been let out into the wild, who has their path pre-forged for them, and who follows that path for a sub-par reward at the end. BUT, when placed back in her enclosure, the cheetah begins to show more instinctive/wild preying and stalking. There's more energy and sparkle in her eyes. Something innate in her, that has been suppressed. Tamed.

The book itself talks about forging your own path, rather than the path that was defined/given for you (e.g., following the dirty pink bunny), thus the title of the book, untamed. I was concerned about the title feeling cheesey (e.g., RAWRR FIERCE GIRL POWER!!!) but the way the analogy is used, is very effective. Although she addresses untaming primarily from a women's POV, but it can also apply to any person.

The author breaks away from being a devout/traditional christian living a straight life with husband and kids, to living and building a life with a female partner. The book has several examples of how she tried to "untame" herself in a lot of different contexts, primarily by:

  • looking inwards instead of looking at what is already out there (before the world told you who to be) and
  • living from imagination (instead of indoctrination).

In particular she addresses being called a racist (as a white woman) and describes how we fundamentally live in a racist world, where we're taught to be racist, so yes, in fact, we are all racist, and need to actively try to unlearn it.

Overall I think it's a worthwhile book to read if you always felt like there's was something about your life that feels unsatisfying, because you did what was expected of you. Personally I think I've been untaming for a while now, so I'm glad this book exists for those who haven't strayed off their indoctrinated path (yet).


One Native Life by Richard Wagamese (2009)

As we all know, the recent news about our indigenous relations in Canada is pretty terrible, on top of being historically awful.

Richard's book was meant to be positive and introspective, specifically written to help heal and reclaim his identity as a displaced Ojibwe child who was tossed into the foster/adoption system, because his parents/family suffered trauma from residential schools, and couldn't necessarily be parents. The book itself is written as micro short stories (a few pages each), compiled in 4 themes within the book, so it was an easy read. Could easily be picked up and down without losing your place. I think I read it in about 4 hours straight.

Richard was put into a foster and adoption homes of white people since ~5 years old. He shared a lot of stories about not belonging/being heard, learnings and heroes along the way, and overcompensating with wearing super native things (e.g., having long hair) when he tried to reconnect with his native side in his 20s. It was interesting to me that there are specific camps and retreats that exist purely for people like him, who were displaced, to relearn and reclaim their native lifestyle. The existence of such camps/retreats speaks to the historical erasure and genocide of their culture at the hands of settlers/colonizers. A lot of stories about native lives are ones of anger, injustice, and despair, so knowing that positive reflection (while acknowledging the historical issues) can still be a path forward, feels important.


What's coming up?

Hopefully:

Today's music post: Window by Midori Komachi. The song itself is kind of peaceful but kind of uncertain at the same time, which feels appropriate as it is from I hope this finds you well in these strange times – Vol. 1, an on-going and multi-artist album compilation made for the COVID-19 crisis.

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Been trying to engage with work by BIPOC creators so I didn't end up drawing comics. There's always a guilty productivity tradeoff...but now my brain has more knowledge! Here's what I read/watched in September 2020.

7 Fallen Feathers by Tanya Talaga (2017)

A book about 7 indigenous teenagers who died in Thunderbay between 2000-2011 (ish). Its tagline is Racism, Death, and Hard Truths in a Northern City and I think the book is a must-read for any Canadian. I wrote down several 'real talk' quotes from the book in my commonplace book; here's one of them:

We didn't have space for them in our world and didn't make space for them in theirs

An important book to read about our failings to support indigenous youth in our country. Right after reading this book I went to donate to the Dennis Franklin Cromarty High School.

Skull-face Bookseller Honda-san 1 and 2 (2019)

A few weeks ago, Papermaiden sent me a message with a photo that showed an old man in glasses from this comic. She said that the character reminded her of how I draw old men (haha). I had seen photos of this series around and enjoyed the slivers I saw, so I borrowed the first two volumes! It is pretty funny, especially if you like over-the-top emotions and facial reactions and know about fandom subcultures in Japan. I feel like there's something very Japanese about the humour-style, in terms of dramatic shifts in emotions (kind of like what I remember from Gintama). There were some parts that were harder for me to understand from a...visual clarity POV? There's also tons of small text crammed all over the place. Kudos to the translator who must've had a lot of work to do (they also provided lengthy translator notes at the end)...

Becoming by Michelle Obama (2019)

I feel like I would really get along with Michelle Obama. Lots of relatable content and attitudes/orientation to life/growth/development. The book is written very clearly, and she doesn't hold back on writing honest and raw feelings that she had during her life. I hurhur-ed at the portions where she was insulting Barack but then somehow totally falling in love with him.

Like a Dragon (2007)

I'm a huge fan of the Yakuza video game series (though I've only played 0-2 and am cursing the lack of PC console releases). This movie will make no sense unless you've played the games, and they even changed the plot a whole bunch to get it to fit into 1h50min-ish time frame. The redeeming points of the movie were Majima Goro's extremely chaotic portray by Kishitani Goro and the shiba inu dog. I laughed at Nishikiyama's weird CG back tattoo (that was clipping into his hair as he randomly stripped?!), the helicopter that was flying extremely recklessly and blowing off Kiryu's blazer so he could be ready for his bare-top fight scene, etc. I think it's still a worthwhile movie to watch for any Yakuza fan!

Raising Multiracial Children: Tools for Nurturing Identity in a Racialized World by Farzana Nayani (2020)

Even though the book is targeted at parents (which I am not) or teachers/educators (also not), I was interested in learning more about multiracial experience and having productive conversations about race in general, with adults and children. This book has a lot of practical knowledge for that. The me right now would peg myself as monoracial POC but multi-ethnic, so a lot of the experiences outlined in the book still felt very familiar to me.

Didn't finish: The Back of the Turtle by Thomas King (too slow and ambiguous even after 1/3 way through the book).

What's my on October media list?

Hopefully...

Today's music post: DJ Shub - Calling All Dancers.