When I was a kid the weather in Portland was a little different than it is now. It wasn’t as hot in the summer and fall weather started at a respectable time, like September.
Nowadays, we get a lot of 90-100 degree days all summer and all September long – plus, we don’t get credit for it the way the South does, but did you know that Portland is one of the top ten most HUMID cities in the USA?
So, swampy oppressive September became two weeks of 80 degree weather (still not my favorite, but we started to get a breeze thank goodness) at the beginning of October.
The above picture was taken October 16 at the Pumpkin Patch – look how dry it is! I’ve never been to the pumpkin patch dry. It was also way too hot by the time we left around noon.
Last week the highs went down into the 70’s and the clouds rolled in. Then it went from a high of 70 and cloudy to pouring rain and 56 degrees overnight. And it’s just been pouring and cold since.
I miss when we actually got FALL WEATHER. You know, sweaters, leaves, wind, mild weather…
Our fall weather nowadays seems to just be buckets of rain. I don’t mind a little rain, but I don’t like getting soaked through on walks.
This morning my pants got soaked through and my skin still feels cold on my thighs, like it seeped through the skin and took up residence in my fat cells.
This whiplash quick weather change always gets me to thinking about how life changes in general. I was inspired to write a kind of “update” blog post last year when the weather shifted and I found myself similarly moved now.
Ruby started kindergarten this September which is kinda crazy – on the one hand it feels like she wasn’t born all that long ago… and on the other hand it feels like, IT’S ABOUT TIME!
I’ve had a lot of hopes and fears for her starting school. Overall my own personal experiences with school were negative, but they didn’t really start trending in that direction until about 3rd grade, and didn’t become horrifically negative until 6th grade, so my high hopes for kindergarten are that it is “not terrible.”
She’s really into creating her own games lately. Some of them are board games, some of them are sort of sporty. It’s really cool seeing her create something completely new.
She’s also really obsessed with the Netflix movie “We Can be Heroes.” She has always liked superheroes a lot, having pretty long “Spidey and His Amazing Friends” (2020’s) as well as “Spiderman and his Amazing Friends” (1980’s) phases. She also liked Hero Elementary for a good long while on PBS. She even watched Sean play the Guardians of the Galaxy video game and seemed to be into those characters for a short while. Soon enough she’ll enter prime audience age for the Marvel Universe in general and then we’ll have to watch all the Marvel movies again, even though I still haven’t caught up on them myself yet.
Ruby had a “Star of the Week” poster assignment to fill out for school. You were supposed to write in the answers for various favorite things, like favorite color, favorite fruit, favorite subject at school. And one of the questions was “What are you going to be when you grow up?”
You might have guessed it: She wrote “Superhero.”
My leisure time, such that it is, has been mostly taken up with books and video games.
More and more I find it difficult to just sit down and watch tv or movies, I feel too antsy to sit still like that with my hands not doing something or my brain not being more challenged. I just can’t focus.
This is also why I won’t watch Lives, Reels, Tiktoks, or even Youtube videos (except in very rare situations).
I’m sorry, I just can’t focus! Is that a thing?
I’ve been enjoying Disney’s Dreamlight Valley, which I can play on the Xbox Game Pass. It’s like Stardew Valley or Animal Crossing but with Disney characters instead.
It’s very cute and I have spent a lot of the time playing with Ruby on my lap or next to me.
Also fabulous on Game Pass (this month anyway) have been Beacon Pines – a one-and-done adventure game – and Little Witch in the Woods – another cute crafting / life simulator which I’d like to get on the Switch when the full version comes out.
Also this month I have been playing Godlike Burger – which I got for my birthday – on Steam. Imagine if you played Overcooked serving weird aliens burgers, but you also had to kill your customers to make the meat to feed the next batch of customers. It’s pretty funny and challenging.
I got onto a bit of a point-and-click adventure kick after replaying Kathy Rain when the Director’s Cut came out.
I played Whispers of a Machine and NORCO which were both entertaining in different ways.
But then I played Backbone which was perhaps the worst game I’ve ever played in my life (the free first chapter is very good, everything else in it is so terrible it ruins that first chapter honestly).
I also tried playing Outer Wilds but have found that I can’t play it due to constantly worsening agoraphobia, but only so far relating to outer space. This is kind of a weird thing in my life and the truth is I used to love astronomy and stargazing as a younger person. But the older I get the more difficult it is for me to even look at the night sky, or maps of constellations, or photographs of objects in space, or maps of the earth even, without becoming irrationally fearful. I get vertigo, my stomach flips, the whole nine yards. I believe I can still play No Man’s Sky, but for some reason Outer Wilds is nearly impossible to play at all.
Other games I’ve had fun playing in the last few months: Potion Permit, Graveyard Keeper, Big Pharma, Stardew Valley, Don’t Starve Together, Evil Genius 2, Surviving Mars, Stardew Valley, and Honey I Joined a Cult.
Books I’m Reading and a Rant About Elitism in Literature
As for books I’ve been really getting my money’s worth from the local library, reading about two books a week. Mostly I’ve been reading a lot of Hugo and Nebula award winners and nominees. It’s my goal to eventually have read all of them. I have been taking detours at times just based on what is available at the library.
I recently finished both this year’s Hugo award winner and this year’s Nebula award winner and sadly I was bitterly disappointed with both. My solace is that I still have many years worth of winners and nominees to go through and I’ll find more things to my own taste soon enough.
In addition to the award winners, I’ve been reading a bunch of Stephen King, the literary world’s favorite author to pooh-pooh for being too pedestrian. For having such a bad reputation, I’m shocked at how much I enjoy it.
I find sometimes the default definition of what makes something great literature is nearly tortured syntax and dense sensory descriptions. For heaven’s sake, when I wrote property descriptions the entire job was writing descriptive passages – so for me I need a lot more than just that, in fact I think it’s far more impressive when the description is just enough to paint the scene but not so much as to explain every item inside a storage closet (ahem, looking at you, George R.R. Martin…).
What I personally value the most in a book is exploring deep themes and getting inside the heads of varied, interesting characters, two things Stephen King does well.
In The Outsider he says this about Edgar Allen Poe, which I think applies to his works as well:
The professor said people had the mistaken idea that Poe wrote fantastic stories about the supernatural, when in fact he wrote realistic stories about abnormal psychology.Stephen King, The Outsider
I’m surprised at how much King’s work contemplates the nature of Good over Evil, the existence (or not) of God or some other force for Good, and humanity’s bottomless supply of hope in the face of terrible things. The mainstream, especially Hollywood, narrative is that he simply writes violent, spooky stories meant to scare people. Looking over my notes I’ve read ten of his books this year so far, and all of them have been deeply hopeful and inspirational works.
It’s funny the kind of authority people feel free to have about writing, calling this or that “good” writing or “not good” writing as though it’s objective fact. It’s kind of absurd the hierarchies we create and maintain in these fan spaces when all it does is alienate each other.
Elitism in the book world is such a pet peeve of mine. It feels like people try to elevate books themselves as some kind of moral good, like reading makes you a good person. In my opinion, it’s all entertainment, not much different than watching television.
This idea of moral hierarchy bleeds into the bookworm circles, so certain genres are a higher yet moral good, and certain authors and kinds of books higher yet. Why do we call certain books “trashy” with such confidence…? That kind of judgment is not a good habit, especially for a group of people who often lament being looked down on as kids for liking books in the first place. You’d think we’d all know what it feels like and strive to eliminate that kind of elitism.
You’ll find me reading whatever I want and delivering no side-eye whatsoever, whether you want to read the latest Nebula Award winner, Moby Dick, the novelization of Mortal Kombat, or a “trashy” “beachy” thriller romance.
I’ve been working on my art but not posting anything because it’s difficult to both learn or practice and post at the same time. There is a pressure in posting to have everything right, to know what you’re doing. It’s very hard to experiment and play with a fear that you’ll be judged if you show your budding work to the world.
I’ve also been starting and stopping a number of projects and feeling a little lost about what direction to go in.
I’m doing a lot of thinking about what kinds of things I’d like to share online and which projects I’d like to focus on and finally conclude. So hopefully in the near future you’ll see more updates on this front.