Point Reyes National Seashore, California

The Long Road

I’ve recently started looking into getting my B.C. driver’s license, and it got me nostalgic for the days I used to spend on the road with my family. The trips I took my partner on when we first started dating. But mainly, I miss the quiet and narrow of the highway lanes, and the sense of peace that washed over me when all other distractions melted away.

Things have been rough lately, for a multitude of reasons. After so many years of being able to see the path clearly, it feels now like I’m driving in a dense fog on unpaved and unmapped terrain, and I crave some sense of normalcy again. For the first time in my adult life, I’ve really been at the mercy of kindness and compassion from strangers and friends and family, and it’s been deeply humbling.

But, with so many forces out there working hard to get us out of this ditch, I’m starting to see the fog clear a bit.

Nicky's First Trip to Cali-164
The old Landrover at Pt. Reyes. I loved this car. One year, I rode shotgun for 10,000 miles on a road trip with my father and siblings.

NJ and I recently found a new apartment, and we get to move in the first week of August. It’s quirky and sweet, in a quiet neighborhood, and will afford us some much-needed recoup time before school starts. It’s also, strangely, reminiscent of the English school we taught at in Japan. Perhaps with gaily-colored rooms, even more of the fog we feel mired in will dissipate. (Even if the shower is red as crimson, and showering will feel like being deep inside a jugular vein.)

Fire engine red shower not pictured, because it needs a deep clean…

All of this to say that moving, like all good things in life, is a long road. There’s a certain loss of identity, now that I’m not in Japan, which I’m coping with slowly, but I didn’t necessarily expect upon leaving that part of the world. But I am driven to evolve, and discover new parts of myself, here on this blog, and in the real world.

If I had to say the fumble came from anywhere, it came from going backwards, instead of forging a new road. The new apartment, in a different town (and unconnected to old nostalgia), will provide us a new road going forward; one I’m confident we can navigate.

While we didn’t necessarily expect to be moving again so soon, the good news is that we’re still basically packed from Japan. I guess we were having trouble settling because we just felt it wasn’t going to happen where we are now.

In any case, I need to get back to my driver’s manual…. B.C. has a crazy-complicated tiered-driving system, which I am glad to learn I am exempt from, since I have a clean driving record in California, even though my license is expired. If I can get my license by August 1st, NJ and I will basically be able to move ourselves!

That would be a pleasant, self-sufficient win for the summer.


The Dictionary of Purple Prose: 100 More Words for Logophiles

I’m a bit of a collector of words. Several years ago, I began keeping a list known as The Dictionary of Purple Prose, which has been quite well-received among this blog’s readers. Occasionally, I remember to update the thing, as I did last year. It’s time to do it again. Here are 100 new additions to The Dictionary of Purple Prose for the year 2016. Have some fun and ameliorate your vocabulary skills!

Dictionary of Purple Prose: 100 New Additions

abecedary – (noun) a book relating to the alphabet.
acataphasia – (noun) loss of the power to formulate a statement correctly. [medical]
ailurophile – (noun) a person who loves or fancies cats.
ameliorate – (verb) to grow better or improve.
avuncularity – (adj.) of, relating to, or characteristic of an uncle.
bucolic – (adj.) rustic, rural, or pastoral.
bunkum – (noun) bombastic speechmaking for propaganda; a claptrap.
cachet – (noun) a private seal affixed to a letter or official document, or to commemorate an event.
callipygous – (adj.) having a beautiful buttocks.
canard – (noun) a false rumor; a hoax.
chatoyant – (adj.) [of feathers, gems, etc] with a changing luster, iridescent, shimmering.
crepuscular – (adj.) of or relating to twilight; dim, dark.
dalliance – (noun) 1. dallying or toying; 2. an amorous relationship.
demesne – (noun) any estate in land; a manor with attached lands not lent out to tenants.
desideratum – (noun) something much desired or wanting. Also desiderate (verb) to long for; desiderium (noun) grief for what is lost.
desuetude – (noun) disuse; discontinuance.
desultory – (adj.) jumping from one thing to another; rambling; hasty; loose; random.
diaphanous – (adj.) transparent; translucent; clear; delicate.
dissemble – (verb) to disguise or mask; to feign; to pretend; play the hypocrite.
dulcet – (adj.) sweet; melodious, harmonious.
ebullience – (noun) cheerful enthusiasm. Also ebullient (adj.) enthusiastic; agitated; boiling over.
effervescent – (adj.) boiling, bubbling; lively, vivacious, exuberant.
effluence – (adj.) flowing out; (noun) a stream that flows into another stream; liquid sewage waste.
elide – (verb) to cut off; to suppress, abridge; to rebut. Also elision (noun) an omission; suppression of vowel or syllable.
embrocation – (verb) to moisten and rub [with lotion].
emollient – (adj.) softening; making supple; advocating a more peaceful attitude.
eschatology – (noun) the doctrine of the last or final matters , such as death, judgement and the state after death.
evanescent – (adj.) fleeting, passing; vanishing.
fugacious – (adj.) inclined to run away, flee; fleeting [literary]; readily shed [petals, etc.]
fungible – (adj.) interchangeable; exchangeable for something similar.
furtive – (adj.) stealthy, secret.
gambol – (verb) leap; skip playfully; (noun) frolic; skipping movement.
gamine – (noun) a street urchin; (adj.) boyish, impish. [feminine: gamine]
halcyon – (adj.) calm, peaceful, happy, carefree [phrase: halcyon days]
henotic – (adj.) tending to unify or reconcile.
hericide – (noun) the murder of a lord or master.
hircine – (adj.) goat-like, having a strong, goatish smell. Also hircosity (noun) goatishness.
imbrication – (adj.) [of scales, leaves, tissue, teeth, etc.] overlapping like roof tiles.
indolent – (adj.) disliking activity; lazy; causing little or no pain; slow to heal [in ulcers, etc.]
ingénue – (noun) an artless, naive, inexperienced young woman [masculine: ingénu]
inglenook – (noun) an alcove by a large open fire; chimney-corner. Also ingle (noun) a fire in a room; a fireplace.
insouciance – (adj.) indifferent, unconcerned, nonchalant; heedless; apathetic.
inure – (verb) to accustom, habituate, harden, to come into effect; to serve to one’s own benefit.
inveterate – (adj.) firmly established by usage or custom; deep-rooted; stubborn; hostile.
jacent – (adj.) lying flat; sluggish.
jacinth – (noun) blue gemstone; reddish-orange color; slaty-blue fancy pigeon.
jalouse – (verb) to suspect; to be jealous of.
jark – (noun) a seal on a document; a pass, safe-conduct. Also jark man (noun) a swindling beggar.
jobation – (noun) a tedious scolding. Also Job (noun) a person of great patience. [phrase: Job’s comforter (someone who aggravates the distress of the person they have come to comfort)]
jumentous – (adj.) to smell strongly of an animal.
labyrinthine – (adj.) like a labyrinth or maze.
lagniappe – (noun) something given beyond what is strictly required; gratuity.
languor – (noun) languidness, listlessness, weariness, pining; a stuffy suffocating atmosphere.
lassitude – (noun) faintness, weakness, weariness, languor.
lilt – (noun) cheerful song or air; cadence; a springy gait; (verb) to hum, to do anything briskly; to sing or play absent-mindedly.
limner – (noun) a painter who uses paper or parchment; a portrait-painter.
lissome – (adj.) lithe, nimble, flexible.
malinger – (verb) to feign sickness to avoid duty or work.
mellifluous – (adj.) flowing with honey or sweetness’ smooth, sweet flow.
mirific – (adj.) wonder-working; marvelous.
moiety – (noun) half; either of two parts or divisions; a small share.
mondegreen – (noun) a phrase , often humorous or nonsensical , that results from mishearing the lyric of a song.
musth – (noun, adj.) a dangerous frenzy in some male animals, such as elephants.
obsequious – (adj.) fawning, compliant, dutiful, ingratiating. Also obsequies (noun) funeral rites.
palimpsest – (noun) a manuscript in which old writing has been rubbed out to make room for new.
panacea – (noun) a cure for all things; a healing plant of varying description.
panoply – (noun) complete armor; a full suit of armor; a full or brilliant covering.
penumbra – (noun) a partial or lighter shadow round the perfect or darker shadow produced by an eclipse or by a large unfocused light source shining on an opaque object; the part of a picture where the light and shade blend into each other.
peripatetic – (adj.) walking about; itinerant (as in a teacher that travels).
petrichor – (noun) a pleasant smell that frequently accompanies the first rain after a long period of warm, dry weather.
plenary – (adj.) full; entire; complete; absolute; unqualified; having full powers.
polemic – (adj.) given to disputing; controversial.
promulgation – (noun) something announced publicly or made widely-known.
propinquity – (noun) nearness.
pyrrhic – (adj.) relating to or associated with the Greek king Pyrrhus [phrase: phyrrhic victory (noun) a victory gained at too great a cost]
ravel – (noun) a tangle; a broken thread; (verb) to entangle; to untwist, unweave, unravel.
reticent – (adj.) reserved; communicating sparingly or unwillingly.
saccharine – (adj.) of sickly sweetness; sugary.
sangfroid – (noun) coolness, composure, self-possession.
scintilla – (noun) a spark; a hint, trace.
scrofulous – (adj.) having a diseased or run-down appearance.
sempiternal – (adj.) everlasting.
seraglio – (noun) a harem; a collection of wives or concubines.
somnolence – (noun) sleepiness; drowsiness.
sozzled – (adj.) drunk.
spurious – (adj.) not genuine; false; sham; forged; bastard, illegitimate.
strepent – (adj.) noisy.
supercilious – (adj.) disdainfully superior in manner; overbearing.
susurration – (noun) a murmuring; whisper; rustling.
swain – (noun) a young man; a peasant, rustic; a lover or suitor. Also swaining (noun) love-making; swainish (adj.) boorish.
syllogism – (noun) a logical argument in three propositions; duductive reasoning; a clever, subtle argument.
syrtis – (noun) a patch or area of quicksand.
tetched – (noun) touched: mildly deranged, somewhat mentally dysfunctional.
tintinnabulation – (noun) bellringing.
turgidity – (noun) swollen; dilated; inflamed; pompous.
verisimilitude – (noun) the quality of seeming or appearing real or true; a statement that sounds true.
vespertine – (adj.) of or relating to the evening; happening, appearing active in the evening.
vicinal – (adj.) neighboring, local.
winnow – (verb) to separate from the chaff; to fan, sift, separate, blow on, waft, etc.

Snapchat gallery silly selfie

A Break from all Seriousness

So, I recently discovered Snapchat, though I don’t use it for its intended purpose. I’ve never posted anything on the platform. Instead, I am using it as a five-minute break into absurdity, which has been a pretty good practice for me these days. It helps me retain a sense of humor despite the world’s constant drama, keeps me from taking myself too seriously, and as a bonus, it’s helping me amass a pretty awesome library of Alex-emojis™.

So, in invitation to all of you to forget you’re an adult for a moment (and embrace the joy of being preposterous for the silliness of it) here’s some of my favorite “snaps.”

I’ve never been an overly “funny” person. I couldn’t make a pun to save my life, and it takes me a few years to get comfortable enough around someone to make jokes (especially since I tend to rely on shared memories as the punchline), but even so, it’s felt good to cut loose, not be shy in front of a camera, and make some silly faces.

What about the rest of you? Do you have a favorite way to be absurd and just let loose?

Little Nothing, by Marisa Silver

Little Nothing by Marisa SilverLittle Nothing by Marisa Silver
Penguin Group/Blue Rider Press

3.0 Stars

“The silence is so dense that it is just as hard on the baby’s eardrums as is any sound. It is the silence that will become the refrain, when a stranger falls speechless in the child’s presence, or when a villager pushes her children behind her skirts as she passes the narrow market lanes to protect them from what might be catching.”

The story of Pavla the dwarf girl begins with an old woman giving birth. She screams as the gypsy woman that bewitched her old womb to “fill with a flower” urges her to push. Her father, a plumber in a town too superstitious for modern toilets suffocates a chicken in the back, waiting to hear his child cry.

Pavla is born with a large head and everything else too small. Her words are powerful, her situation crushingly real. Too real, in fact, for how the story plays out.

It is always a risky decision to write a book where the main character changes, especially if that first personality is the one that attaches herself to the reader’s heart. In Little Nothing, Silver’s writing is beautiful. Literary. But a transition in the first third left me stumbling through the second, and by the time I had recovered, the third had shaken things all up again. The ending left me feeling hollow, and while I appreciate the allegory and experimental nature of the work, I didn’t feel like Little Nothing ever really concluded. Perhaps it was not meant to.

The story of Pavla was curious and compelling. But Pavla changes into something else, and then something else, and then something else, and despite all the new, somewhat clichéd but interesting incarnations of the girl called “Little Nothing,” none felt as genuine to me as Pavla. And due to that, despite Silver’s incredibly strong writing and my absolute love of fantasy, I found the fantasy elements distracting and diluting of the real power the story could have portrayed.

The publisher provided me with an advance copy in exchange for a review. Little Nothing will be available for purchase on September 13, 2016.