I’ve been a bit short in the pandemic projects department. Oh, I helped a lot with the art room, but Joy was the project manager. Meanwhile, from what I read, others learned how to bake bread, or organized their houses top to bottom in accordance with what brought them joy. Our diagonal-backyard neighbor has remodeled every room of their house, from the sound of things. Me, I’ve pretty much just kept on doing what I do.

But today I completed one of those long-intended projects. Behold: all of the recipes we’ve clipped from newspapers, printed out from websites, or jotted down on bits of paper over the course of decades, beautifully organized into categories and subcategories. They fill five binders. I feel very accomplished, and also hungry.

My study leave was originally going to begin on Tuesday, three days ago. It has been harder than usual to wrap up my work (and there are still a few loose ends), but today has truly been a study day. I’m quite happy with how I worked self-care into it:

Over breakfast, read The Alchemy of Race and Rights, Patricia Williams

Walked to and from my haircut, listening to a Spanish audiobook (Harry Potter y la piedra filosofal, since reading a book I know very well is excellent listening practice). Exercise, grooming and Spanish practice in one fell swoop! Sadly, my Fitbit is MIA, but it was about four miles.

Picked up a pile of books at the library on the way back. Now reading Unrig, one of two books from World Citizen Comics I borrowed.

Walking the rest of the way home, I wished I had brought a bag.

Oh right, I also stopped at Dog-Eared Books and bought a book for my dad (he reads this blog so that’s all I’m saying), a Colson Whitehead book I hadn’t heard of (Apex Hides the Hurt) and a book that I have read before but want to reread, How to Live Safely in a Science Fiction Universe by Charles Yu. I listened to it on audiobook but I have wanted to read it again ever since, preferably with the ability to flip back through the pages. The last two might go with me on vacation; they’re fairly light.

And now I’m going to take Unrig out into the back yard and enjoy the garden.

Like many people, we are once again venturing into the world of Travel this summer. We’re fortunate: we’re all vaccinated, and being that we spent little money on camps and none on travel last summer, and aren’t spending any on camps this summer, we can afford a couple of weeks in beautiful places. We’ll be flying to Boston, and after a couple of days there, driving up to Waitsfield, Vermont, for four days, then to Harpswell, Maine, for a week. Then it’s four days in Connecticut before returning to Boston for the flight home. I can’t wait.

I do all the driving in the family, and it will be quite a lot of driving (punctuated by long stretches of doing nothing in a tiny town), but I love this kind of driving, seeing places that, if not actually known to me, are deeply familiar, and very beautiful. New England is my homeland. I know the shapes of the hills, the architecture of the houses, the inimitable green of the trees, and the sounds of the birds. And we’ll take the federal highways and other smaller roads more than the interstates, to make the most of the time on the road and greatly increase the opportunities to stop at roadside attractions. Leominster, Mass.: grave of the man persecuted for his beard! Brattleboro, VT: eat lunch by the West River while checking out the resident sea serpent! Lincoln, NH: state historical marker noting the spot where Barney and Betty Hill were abducted and probed by aliens! (TMI, Barney and Betty.)

But first, a week-plus of study leave. I have a pile of books to read and time in which to read them.

I’m seeing a lot of debate about racial and ethnic representation in In the Heights. I don’t doubt the merits of the arguments, and I can’t judge them until I’ve seen the movie myself. Something I can judge, though, is whether we usually examine racial representation with such immediacy and thoroughness. Here are a few movies that have received considerable praise in the past few years without much public comment about their racial and ethnic representation:

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. Director/writer, star, and leading actors all white non-Latinx.

The Irishman. Director, writers, and leading actors all white non-Latinx. (Also mostly men, but that’s another post.)

Once Upon a Time . . . in Hollywood. Director/writer, leading actors all white non-Latinx.

Downton Abbey. Um, yeah.

And now there’s In the Heights. Director: Asian-American. Writers: Latina and Latino. Stars and leading actors all Latinx and/or African-American. In the trailer I saw, everyone who spoke was a person of color–not a white non-Latinx in the lot. It was exhilarating. I should have known right then that it would come under the microscope.

I’m glad we are asking questions about the colorism and racism in Latinx cultures and how that shows up in the few, oh so few, movies by and about Latinx folks. But I would like to know why movies by and about white people so often get a pass.

Collage, 5 1/2″ x 7″

Collage, 5 1/2″ x 7″

5×7, completed yesterday

Conté, 8×11

I don’t think this drawing is finished. It might have been more finished when I had drawn only the dog and an outline of a door. But if so, I can draw some like it again. I’m going to spend some time with it first.

This is the dog Denise Levertov wrote about that helped me so much a few years ago: grief, wanting to be acknowledged and not shut out in the cold. So I suppose this drawing comes earlier than that one, in which the dog was more at home. But grief doesn’t just move forward in time. Last week my mind’s eye, or maybe my heart’s eye, spotted a forlorn dog nosing and scratching at the door, so here he (?) is.

Vortex (Coming Together or Coming Apart?), 5×7
Vortex, 5″ x 7″
(c) 2021 Amy Zucker Morgenstern

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