The Updates #14

Estimated Reading Time:  12 minutes

Week 14 of the updates and I'm still surprised I'm going at it!  
A short-hair Persian cat with gray and black fur looks up at the camera
Pumpkin Demands Attention

Not much progress here.  Mostly doing some organizing and prepping for the next stage of the process. This upcoming week includes meeting with my advisors to move into that next stage and I'm also hoping to get more work on transcribing.  
A routine work-week to some degree.  Nothing out of the norm and slowly making my way through the big and the small.  A shorter week because I got my booster (see below) but I feel like I still moved the needle on some things.  Two interesting experiences of the week:

I had the opportunity to go for a walk with a colleague to talk about their experience at CU. Unexpectedly, it became a partial job-coach session where I helped them think about where their job could go.  That's the interesting thing about College Unbound; we're growing and morphing and so there's a chance to think about what is the next role that you might evolve into as we grow.  It was helpful to talk with this person because it also helped me to think about what's next.

There's a challenge in working at CU in that we are at the infinite buffet; there's so many possibilities and things to do or create. It's exciting and it's also challenging.  But what I appreciate is that sometimes, it means you can just start to do things or build momentum with others to just make things happen. I witness that regularly but this week, I was just reminded of how rare that can be.  

What I'm Reading

The Tin Man by Justin Madson: A story about friendship, family, and what it means to care told with a layering of The Wizard of Oz on top of it.  Characters, events, and places are inspired by Oz but it is also its own story.  The titular Tin Man is a young Tin-Man who is alienated from his (literally) heartless father when he acquired a heart and befriends a brother and sister who each need him to resolve their own familiarly challenges.  A fun read but not sure if the Oz overlay was necessary or that it added much to it.

Star Wars: The High Republic: Trail of Shadows by Daniel José Older: Another story in the High Republic timeline. It had a bit of a gumshoe detective feel to it but honestly, it was a quick read and not really that exciting. I keep wanting to enjoy this area of Star Wars but keep finding there's not characters that I feel drawn to.
A green sign that says "Oomph Meeting Room"
What Happens in the
Oomph Meeting Room...

Cassandra Speaks: When Women Are the Storytellers, the Human Story Changes by Elizabeth Lesser
: Lesser explores what does it mean when we center women's voices in the ways we tell stories both in the past and the present. It's an intriguing consideration of how historically (and even contemporarily), we still put masculine ideas at the forefront of things to value whether that's in storytelling, news, politics, or language (how often "war" metaphors are used to focus attention and energy).  Yet, it's not a book that frames "men" as the problem and even highlights the way men and those who identify as male can be included and valued in a system that is more balanced. Like other books in this area that I've read, I appreciate how it expands my understanding of women and those who identify as women's experiences while also making me question and explore parts of my own identity. 

Throwing Rocks at the Google Bus: How Growth Became the Enemy of Prosperity by Douglas Rushkoff: In some ways, this feels similar to Chokehold Capitalism by Cory Doctorow in some of the questions that Rushkoff raises about the problems of digital technology and data regimes in the 21st century.  Yet, it doesn't hit the same chord. Rushkoff's approach feels messier and harder to follow--we're to somehow reprogram capitalism, and this might or might not include cryptocurrency.  In some ways, it feels like he wants to double-down on certain structures and that has me more dubious.  Though it is 6 years old and pre-2016 election, so I do wonder how his later books might adjust and changed based upon what has changed.

What I'm Watching

Barbarian: I don't know if American Horror Story or just TV series in general have ruined the horror genre but I definitely feel like Barbarian felt too little substance and a whole lot of "we're gonna scare ya".  I know that's some part of horror films but after a creepy and well-developed season of a horror show, a film like this felt a little dull. There's some interesting gender dynamics at play in the movie but nothing feels strong or sustained enough for it to feel like a cheap gimmick than a deeply entrenched theme throughout.

Dexter: New Blood: I enjoyed the original run of Dexter and thought this worked as a stronger means of finishing the entire series than the original final episode. I don't think the villain of the series was a good as others but the dynamic between Dexter and Harrison was enjoyable to watch.

Pinky (1949): Since the last 2 weeks, I had watched different versions of Imitation of Life, I wanted to revisit Pinky which I watched about 6 or so months ago.  Pinky is returning home after successfully becoming a nurse up in Boston, where she was largely understood as being white.  When she returns home to visit her grandmother, we learn that she is considered Black and lives in the Black part of a town.  Upon returning, she reluctantly takes to helping her grandmother's employer who is in need of medical care but whom Pinky hates for the way she is treated.  Like Peola/Sarah Jane in Imitation of Life, Pinky is straddling two worlds and seeing the artificiality of race and how it impacts her life.  Though rather than breaking away from her family, the story creates a situation where she is brought back to her community and serves to enrich it. The ending arc (a court trial) feels a bit too much deus ex machina in how the judge comes to his decision (that is, it feels unbelievable and there's nothing to suggest that this is the way it would go); still this film has some interesting things to offer.  I'm fascinated by films that both try to be progressive (call out the artificiality of race) while, often, it reinforces the very issues it's trying to challenge.  Thus, while we have admirable Black people like Dicey, Pinky's grandmother, and redeemable white people, we also get stereotypical Black depictions.  Dicey is clearly a Mammy character while Rozelita is a Sapphire and Jake is a con-artist).  In particular, watching this film in relation to Imitation of Life makes me wonder how many films are out there about passing throughout the 20th century.  

This Week's Photos

Pumpkin Demands Attention: When Pumpkin demands attention, it is so hard to say no.  And sometimes, I also have to grab my phone and take a photo of her because she's so damn cute. It's hard to tell with the still-frame, but that is definitely her insistent face and pose--making sure you know that she means business and expects some pets--particularly on the bridge between her eyes.  It's not a place she can get to easily because of her facial structure so she regularly demands some care there.

What Happens in the Oomph Meeting Room...: I had the opportunity to spend some time in the Providence Public Library in downtown Providence. It's a beautiful building with all sorts of things in it, including some private spaces.  Colleagues and I got this room to debrief after another meeting we had while at the library.  I feel like there's got to be an interesting story behind the name for this meeting room.  

What's on My Mind
Getting the booster:  I got the booster on Thursday and that left me largely out of commission on Friday, feeling mostly fully recovered on Saturday.  The booster experience is always a humbling experience and a reminder for me. I'm lucky to have a largely healthy body that isn't prone to bouts of any kind. I don't get headaches more than 1-2 times a year. I don't often get the flu (more prone to get a cold). My body feels fully functioning 99% of the time.  But I get the booster and within 12 hours, I'm feeling brain fog, a slight headache, light chills, and some aches. I know it's temporary and I know why it's happening. I could work through it if I chose but took the day off.  

However, these symptoms among many others are chronic things they must deal with daily or in an inconsistent manner that can be taxing in its own right (how can you plan when you're not sure if you'll be physically able to engage).  It's a reminder to me of both my luck and the real challenges that people around me and folks that I don't know must navigate each day of their lives--and how our world does so little to recognize and support folks navigating these challenges while taking a toll on their mental and emotional health, making it harder to do all the things we demand people do.  I don't have a lot of deeper thoughts on this one other than thinking about how do folks who don't experience these kinds of challenges hold space in their mind for understanding, including, and making space for those that do?

Till next week...

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