Hither and Thither #22

RemiNoel1Batman, with a different variety of pathos than is typical.

division squiggleThis is only for a few of you, but it’s so useful I wanted to get it out there even a tiny bit more. Over on Tumblr, there’s an excellent, excellently written, and very thorough list of retailer tips for selling minicomics, from production to distribution to just generally not being a pain in the ass. If you’re tempted to do it, I hope you do… while following a few best practices.

division squiggleIf you have $175 to spare (and shit, who doesn’t?), you should order yourself one of these. I’m a sucker for gorgeous, expertly done hand lettering (one of the things I like most about certain sections of West Seattle, although there’s been some superb lettering going on on the big red wall that surrounds the Capitol Hill light rail construction), so I love this. Although part of me would want it to go through the mail properly – I like the artifacts of travel. It’s the same part of me that likes scars, tattoos, and secondhand things.

division squiggleI am ever so slightly better than monolingual (I can take care of basic needs in Spanish, even if they have to be largely discussed in the present tense), but I am trying to improve. Sometimes in vain, as these things go – I am a piss-poor memorizer on my better days. Rosecrans Baldwin had a great bit about the queer vulnerability of switching languages in Paris, I Love You, but You’re Bringing Me Down, where he discusses operating from a place purely populated by needs and earnestness. When you switch languages, you shed all cleverness and subtlety, at least for a while. You start from a single level and perhaps you grow from there.

Which is why the idea of switching languages in writing is so damned daunting, especially for me. It’s my ability with English that’s paid the bills for the last ten years, for the whole of my functional adulthood. To walk away from that, even for a paragraph, is quite scary. (I’m working on it.) This New York Times article addresses that switch, that demolition and rebuilding, with just the appropriate amount of drama.

And then there’s also code switching. NPR has had an interesting (if oddly dispassionate, at times) series about it, which is always interesting. And then there’s this essay at STET by a woman who’s traveled and adapted, watching her languages be shaped by people she loved, placed she adored, those who taught her, and her own preferences. And I guess I speak more than 1.1 languages, when you take that into account. Through a trick of geography and relatives, I’m conversant in Southern Midwestern, Southern, and my own curious natural blend of what sounded like a neutral accent to me when I was 12, words I delighted in that no one else used, and my own past and present as a weird kid.

division squiggleHow much am I a sucker for a hand-drawn map? I can’t convey it without tone and gestures. So when I next go to Amsterdam (after Iceland, Japan, Berlin, Paris again, and possibly even the Nevada desert), I will want some of this business in my pocket.

division squiggleI AM SO EXCITED THIS IS PART OF OUR POP CULTURE CONVERSATION RIGHT NOW. I am even more glad that the weird switch between V.C. Andrews as person and V.C. Andrews as copyrighted label of creativity is better known now. I noticed the weird little note about her demise and revival when I was 13 or 14, but people didn’t quite believe me when I told them. VINDICATION. Also a TV movie I’m hoping to watch in the next few days, red wine and powdered donuts at hand.

division squiggleSo I am a pretty damn prolific journaler, and I have been for – woof – about 18 years now. However, I have nothing on Alison Bechdel, whose brain is revealed as being more and more interesting as the days go on – and she started strong. She put up an absolutely fucking fascinating post where she moved between January 15ths in her life, from junior high to just a couple of years ago to college to entries she excerpted in her memoirs.

This is not why I would tell you to start a journal. (And I would tell you to start one, if you’ve ever even faintly considered it. We have a tendency to let the past blur together into more of a feeling than an event, and if you’re trying to change things in your life, that tendency is unhelpful.) But it’s a wonderful side effect of following your life with its own chronicle.

division squiggleAnd, finally, a little listening for you. I first got caught by This American Life with their Testosterone episode, which was scientific, and personal, and also got uncomfortably in the business of their entire staff. I find their more frequent recent turns toward hard reporting exciting and a great use of their time, but I’m glad they’re still making new episodes that make the hairs on the back of my neck tickle with that sense of uncomfortable intimacy, a certain risk, and the appreciation that some people are willing to share so much. I felt that with last week’s episode, Good Guys. It started with a kind of situation that made me feel unnerved the way that Curb Your Enthusiasm do, and it just escalated from there. Worth it.