Yumi Sakugawa, Krista Suh, and MILCK

On Monday night Isabelle sent me a link to an Instagram post by Yumi Sakugawa announcing that she would be participating in a panel at UCLA the following evening with MILCK and Krista Suh. Yumi Sakugawa is a comic book artist and the author of, among other books, I Think I Am in Friend-Love With You. MILCK (a.k.a. Connie Lim) wrote the song “Quiet” and sang it at the January Women’s March in Washington, D.C. in a performance that immediately went viral. And Krista Suh is a screenwriter and co-creator of the Pussy Hat Project, also of Women’s March fame. (It wasn’t until days after the Women’s March that I learned that Asian American women were behind both the pussy hats and the song that was being called the anthem of the march.)

The panel was variously advertised as being about women of color, intersectional feminism, Asian American women, creativity, and mental health. I was sold. And Isabelle is a big fan of Yumi Sakugawa and MILCK. So the decision to go was easy. Plus it was on campus.

The panel was hosted by LCC Theatre Co., an Asian American theater company at UCLA that Sakugawa was involved in as a student here. The evening started off with the trailer for Krista Suh’s documentary “I AM ENOUGH/Tea with Demons,” featuring Suh, Sakugawa, and MILCK and exploring the Asian American artist experience. It looks gorgeous and kind of just made me want to run away with my friends to write and make art and music in the desert.

Then the panel got underway, moderated by an LCC member. And here’s the thing: what MILCK, Sakugawa, and Suh talked about on Tuesday evening was almost eerily relevant to my life right now. As soon as I’d heard about the panel, I’d known I didn’t want to miss it for anything, but I didn’t realize how à propos it would be. For much of the panel, I felt like the three artists were speaking directly to me.

They talked about figuring out what they wanted to do (sing, write and draw, write) and in some cases having to break it to their parents that they didn’t actually want to be pre-med/pre-law/whatever. They talked about how long it took them to accept that they knew what they really wanted to do and what obstacles (often internal) they’d had to overcome to start pursuing what they wanted. They talked about friendship, about finding your people and both supporting and seeking support from your friends when they or you are going through a hard time. As an audience member later pointed out, it was wonderful to see their friendship shining through as they interacted on the panel.

Quite early on, Suh asked how many of us knew we wanted to do something creative (she knew her audience well). Most people’s hands went up, including mine. Then she asked how many of us were afraid or ashamed of that wanting. I didn’t raise my hand that time because I remember thinking very clearly that I wasn’t ashamed of wanting to write, but later I wondered, Am I still afraid? Even though I’m already an author? Maybe.

MILCK said something later that also resonated with me. She said to ask yourself what kind of suffering you were willing to endure. What are you willing to suffer for? What is worth the suffering for you? (And the unspoken converse, at least to my ears: What isn’t worth the suffering for you?)

Before the audience Q & A, they played us MILCK’s music video for “Quiet,” which I had seen before but was perfectly happy to watch again. And after the Q & A, Isabelle and I and a bunch of other people flocked to the front of the room where the panelists were to talk to them. Sakugawa had a few books and zines and prints on hand. We talked to MILCK first; Isabelle was delighted to hear there’d be more songs from her soon. Then we talked to Sakugawa, who said she remembered Isabelle from the Little Tokyo Book Festival. Isabelle introduced me as the writer friend she’d gotten Sakugawa to sign Friend-Love for. We all talked a little more (we told MILCK and Sakugawa that we were grad students in linguistics), and then Isabelle and I headed out. Night had fallen and the full moon slid in and out of the black clouds and walking past the botanical garden the air was heavy with the scent of honeysuckle.

YALLWEST 2017

This past Saturday was YALLWEST, a massive YA book festival held at Santa Monica High School. I went last year and had a great time seeing tons of authors I admire on panels. This year, Isabelle and I went together. I had two authors I wanted to get books signed by and a whole itinerary of panels planned out.

The first thing I did upon arriving at the festival was to buy Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz and The Queen of Attolia by Megan Whalen Turner. I had already read (and loved) both books, and both authors have more recent books, but those were the ones I wanted signed. From the Mysterious Galaxy bookselling tent, we went straight to the signing line for Benjamin Alire Sáenz. And after I got my book signed, we started the panel marathon.

Kingdoms & Quests: Epic Fantasy Roadtrips

S. Jae-Jones (moderator) [I’ve read her posts and podcast notes on PubCrawl–I think she’s into baby seals too!], Roshani Chokshi, Jessica Cluess, Heidi Heilig [a hapa author whom I saw at AWP and whose The Girl from Everywhere I’ve read], Linda Sue Park, and Erin Summerill

  • Jessica Cluess introduced herself as a Gryffindor while acknowledging that “it’s more posh to be Slytherin these days” (judging by the audience’s relative enthusiasm for the four houses, we Ravenclaws were the most numerous).
  • Erin Summerill said that after she creates a map of her world, she chooses the bleakest place on the map for the story’s setting.
  • It sounds like Linda Sue Park has a new book in the works about a hapa dragon (my term)!
  • Jessica Cluess told an anecdote that left me quite dismayed: Her fantasy novels have a Victorian setting, and so she once wrote in a manuscript that the characters danced a mazurka. She said her editor, who normally asks questions in the margins or makes gentle suggestions, simply crossed out “mazurka.” Later in a phone call, Jessica Cluess asked her editor offhand why she’d done that, and her editor said, “No one cares about the mazurka!” My jaw may have dropped, and Isabelle patted me consolingly on the shoulder. See, I learned the mazurka at bals folks in Grenoble and am rather fond of the dance. Plus the characters in my current project actually do dance the mazurka (under a different name). Now it’s my mission to make sure the mazurka makes it to the final draft!

Yallcraft: So You’re Thinking of Writing a Series?

Traci Chee (moderator) [I read her novel The Reader, which is also on the hapa book list!], Kasie West, Evelyn Skye, and Lindsay Cummings

  • I didn’t take a lot of notes at this one, but I remember the authors discussing whether they knew in advance which characters would die in the series or whether they impulsively decided to kill characters along the way.

Writ Large: Myths, Folk Tales, and Modern Retellings

Zoraida Cordova (moderator), Megan Whalen Turner, Wendy Spinale, Cecil Castelluci, Natalie C. Parker, Tracey Baptiste, and F.C. Yee

  • I may have been following Megan Whalen Turner throughout YALLFEST… This panel and the previous one were both in Santa Monica High School’s Gallery, and behind the panelists’ chairs were these two big boards covered with fan art for various books. Isabelle and I had already taken a look during the break between panels. One of the pieces was a portrait of the Queen of Eddis from Megan Whalen Turner’s books. As the authors began to arrive, I thought I recognized MWT, but I knew for sure when she went to examine the fan art and exclaimed, “This is from my book!”
  • Megan Whalen Turner talked about how wonderful it is that we still read about friendships in stories written hundreds and even thousands of years ago. She mentioned the Epic of Gilgamesh, and at the time I thought she said “romance” (and I wondered what romance she was referring to), but Isabelle later told me she’d said “bromance.” Anyway, the enduring power of literary friendships is beautiful.

After this panel, it was Megan Whalen Turner’s hour in the signing area, so Isabelle and I went to get in line. The woman behind us engaged us in conversation for a bit; she was an MWT fan on another level. She seemed to know that there would be a sixth book in the series, another one after Thick As Thieves, which hasn’t quite come out yet! When it was my turn to have my book signed, I managed to tell Megan Whalen Turner how I’d come to read her books and that The Queen of Attolia had blown me away.

Writing the Resistance: World Building IRL

Daniel José Older (moderator) [I seem to go to a lot of his panels–witness AWP!] , Marie Marquardt, Victoria Aveyard, Angie Thomas [she burst onto the scene with The Hate U Give, which I hope to read very soon], Benjamin Alire Sáenz, and Sona Charaipotra

  • Daniel José Older had apparently managed to get through his morning keynote with Cassandra Clare without swearing once, so he opened this panel with, “If you don’t like swearing, just leave now.”
  • A lot of this panel was what you’d expect from the title. A lot of it was also Benjamin Alire Sáenz being jaw-droppingly eloquent about his ideals and what it is we do when we write. Also, when an audience member asked the panelists if they’d ever been criticized by their own communities for the way they’d written about them, he said, after acknowledging that he had received such criticism, “I’m not afraid to be criticized. I’m not afraid of anything.”
  • The guy sitting next to me asked the panelists if they’d ever considered writing utopian fiction, as opposed to dystopian fiction, and their general reaction was: What would be the point? Where’s the conflict? But I kept thinking of Neal Shusterman’s Scythe (which, for the record, I have not read). Perhaps that’s an example of a utopia that has its dark side (after all, doesn’t The Giver start out utopian?). I also wondered about something else, though. Isn’t one of the great things about speculative fiction supposed to be that it can show us possible futures that are better than our present? There’s still conflict, of course, but set against an optimistic backdrop.

Fantasyish: The Role of Fantasy in the New Surreality of 2017

Alex London (moderator), Cassandra Clare, Danielle Paige, Daniel José Older, Megan Whalen Turner, and Zoraida Cordova

  • By now you may be able to tell which authors I was stalking.
  • Alex London opened the panel with a longish quote from Ursula K. LeGuin and then said, “Now be smarter than Ursula LeGuin.” Megan Whalen Turner joked that they could be done now.
  • MWT remarked that “we don’t often talk about the roots of conflict [i.e. war] in our fantasy for children.” And she also said that none of the people in her world are happy to take on responsibilities, but, for instance, Sophos, in A Conspiracy of Kings, reaches a point where he realizes he can’t make the decision he wants to, and he steps up. I pondered this because I’ve been interested in writing characters who choose duty over other things. Such as love.
  • Daniel José Older wondered aloud how fantasy writers can tell the truth while still giving people a happy place to go to.
  • MWT talked about reading the Chronicles of Narnia when she was six and never having grown out of the desire to check the back of the wardrobe (I like to think I haven’t either).

Ask Me Anything: The LGBTQIA+ Edition

Sam Maggs (moderator), Jeramey Kraatz, John Corey Whaley [I loved his Where Things Come Back–I think I said so last year too], Adam Silvera [I read his More Happy Than Not, and during this panel I think I learned that we’re the same age], Natalie C. Parker, Benjamin Alire Sáenz, and CB Lee

  • I’ll just sum this one up in one quote. Sam Maggs: “I’m from Canada, where everyone is 30% gay.” To which someone responded, “That’s why they’re so nice.”

After the last panel, Isabelle and I decided to visit Small World Books in Venice because in addition to being YALLWEST Saturday was Independent Bookstore Day. We walked along the beach to get there, skirting sand castles and watching adorable sandpipers chase the retreating waves. We even stumbled upon a bizarre, pulsing, pink, translucent creature that was sort of shaped like a shell but decidedly gelatinous. Later research suggested it might have been a burrowing sea cucumber. At Small World Books, the bookseller behind the counter indulged us by showing us the timid new bookstore cat. The shop is really lovely and has a nice selection; there was a display of Hugo and Nebula nominees, and I picked up Yoon Ha Lee’s Ninefox Gambit. We lingered until closing.

Science and Books and Madrigals, oh my!

I packed a lot into Earth Day weekend. Saturday morning was the March for Science. I bussed downtown with three other friends from the department. It was much less nuts getting to this protest than it was getting to the Women’s March. We actually made it into Pershing Square this time, where a button hawker greeted us with, “I’ve got you covered, nerds!” I did not buy a button. We hung out in the park reading signs as the morning speeches wrapped up. I spotted one that read: “I should be doing research right now #gradschool.” Too true.

I was glad to see this member of the clergy

We marched from Pershing Square to City Hall, just like in January. People chanted, “Science, not silence!” and when a little boy started chanting the slogan on his sign, “Science is better than Donald Trump!”, people joined in. When we reached City Hall, we stood around for a while watching the rest of the march arrive. One of our syntax professors found us, which seemed miraculous given the crowds. I later learned a bunch of other linguists from our department had been there, though we never saw them.

From the march, I headed to USC for my third LA Times Festival of Books. I wandered through the booths for a bit. I glimpsed Yumi Sakugawa at the Skylight Books booth and witnessed the eerie sight of red-clad, white-bonneted handmaids walking in pairs about campus. There had been a WriteGirl workshop at the festival earlier in the day (I finally started volunteering with them!), but I couldn’t make it because of the March for Science. I stopped by the stage where the girls were reading in the afternoon, though, and listened to some of their pieces. Then I made my way to the Big 5’s children’s book booths, and at the Penguin Young Readers booth I noticed that Julie Berry was signing. I had read The Passion of Dolssa recently and also enjoyed All the Truth That’s in Me, so when she had a free moment, I went up to talk to her. I told her I was a fellow Viking Children’s Books author, and then we chatted about grad school and Provençal.

After meeting Julie Berry, I met up with Isabelle at the Small World Books booth by the Poetry Stage, where she was about to get some poetry collections signed by Hélène Cardona. After that, we explored the festival a little more before heading to the first of the two panels I’d picked out for the afternoon. This one was a YA panel entitled Faith, Hope, and Charity: Strong Girls in Crisis, which struck me as a little dramatic, but okay. The panelists were Julie Berry, Sonya Sones (who…turns out to be someone I think I’ve contra danced with in Los Angeles–no wonder she looked so familiar!), and the person I’d been most eager to see, because I loved Cuckoo Song and The Lie Tree: Frances Hardinge. The moderator was Jonathan Hunt of SLJ’s Heavy Medal blog fame. The authors talked about the inspiration for their latest novels, mixing genres, and whether/why their protagonists are girls. Julie Berry said that since she has four sons she gets asked why she doesn’t write about boys, and she said, “I’m a girl! It’s like what you are doesn’t matter once you’ve reproduced!” Which elicited much laughter, but there’s something dismal underlying that if you think about it.

Next we went to the other panel I’d picked out: the hapa panel! I’d been excited for it because Kip Fulbeck–author of Part Asian, 100% Hapa and creator of the Hapa Project–was on it (the other two panelists were USC professors). He was indeed the highlight of the panel for me. I enjoyed his self-deprecating manner and his sort of “you do you” attitude. He’s not interested in policing hapa identity, and he told one young hapa woman in the audience that one doesn’t have to spend every minute of one’s life fighting. Taking care of oneself is important too.

On Sunday, I participated in Jouyssance’s fourth annual early music singalong. Jouyssance is a local early music ensemble whose concerts I’ve occasionally attended. I know one of the singers because she used to sing in our Georgian chorus. Anyway, I printed the scores to the nine songs on the singalong program a week in advance and made myself a Youtube playlist to sing along to. I can sightread vocal music to an extent, but I had a feeling I would be in over my head if I didn’t prepare a bit. My favorites were Orlando Gibbons’ “The Silver Swan,” Claudin de Sermisy’s “Tant que vivray,” Thomas Morley’s “April is in my mistress’s face,” and Heinrich Isaac’s “Innsbruck, ich muss dich lassen.” There was also Josquin des Prez’s “El Grillo,” which I find annoying.

I arrived in the sanctuary of St. Bede’s Episcopal Church on Sunday afternoon, clutching my scores. A few singers from Jouyssance were there, but most of the participants weren’t in the ensemble. Everybody seemed to be a relatively experienced choral singer, though. The Jouyssance director complimented us on our reading of the first song and said she hoped we were all singing in choirs. The pace was relatively swift, and there wasn’t any hand holding, but everybody could handle it, and it was fun. Plus we weren’t exactly striving for perfection or speedy tempi.

My row of the alto section included our former Georgian chorister, a woman I know from shape note singing, and a French woman whom we told about shape note singing and who later told me she’d just started alto recorder. She showed me some of her music: “Pastime with good company”! “Belle, qui tiens ma vie”!

We didn’t do the Gibbons or the de Sermisy, to my chagrin. No French and too much Italian! I learned that Orlando di Lasso’s “Matona, mia cara” is not only quite vulgar but is also largely ungrammatical. After working on six of the nine songs for an hour and a half, we took a break for some treats and then sang everything in an informal “concert,” which Isabelle came to. (This concert was so informal that we occasionally started songs over again after a rocky start.) It was a lot of fun, and I hope I get to do it again next year!

Adventures and African Linguistics in Bloomington

For the third year running, I spent the end of my spring break at the Annual Conference on African Linguistics, which was held at Indiana University in Bloomington this year (previously I’d gone to the University of Oregon and Berkeley). Leading up to my trip, I was unknowingly checking the weather for Bloomington, Idaho instead of Bloomington, Indiana, so I was excited to potentially see some snowflakes until I realized my mistake. It did not snow in Indiana (it hailed!), but I did get a dose of proper spring: daffodils, tulips, hyacinth, irises, grape hyacinth, redbud, forsythia, all manner of other flowering trees, and burgundy peony shoots, against a backdrop of mostly leafless trees and mostly gray skies. Plus robins and cardinals!

By now, ACAL feels a bit like a reunion. I gave a talk on tonal alternations in compounds in Efik, a language of southeastern Nigeria I worked on in my second round of Field Methods at UCLA. I also went to several talks that at least touched on Maragoli, my first UCLA Field Methods language and the language I presented on at my last two ACALs. There’s always such an interesting variety of talks at this conference, from “Common Plant Names in South Nilotic Akie” to “Monsters in Dhaasanac and Somali” (where monster is a technical term). There are also always wonderful examples and glosses; for instance, I learned that in Maniŋgaxaŋ (if I got the name of the language right) the compound formed by the words ‘tapeworm’ and ‘person’ means ‘public nuisance.’

I also took the time to explore Bloomington. I didn’t arrive with any expectations, but it turned out to be a lovely college town with nice coffeeshops, interesting cuisine (I had kham amdo thugpa, a Tibetan stew with homemade noodles, and lahmacun at various conference meals), and, best of all, bookstores! On Saturday morning, after the plenary on Luyia tone, I set out on my bookcentric itinerary. I first took a look in the university bookstore. Then I started walking west toward downtown. I stopped at the Monroe County Public Library, which turned out to be having a book sale! There was quite a large selection of former library books. I found some old, probably out-of-print children’s books and some French works, but I didn’t buy anything.

In the middle of downtown Bloomington is a square in the middle of which sits the handsome county courthouse. On the first morning of the conference, when two of my UCLA colleagues and I walked to campus, I’d noticed two bookstores within a few doors of each other on the eastern side of this square and made a mental note to return. After the library book sale, though, I first checked out the farmers market we’d seen from a distance on our way in on Saturday morning.

It was April 1st, and it may have been the first market of the season. I was surprised by the number of produce vendors. There were potatoes, fennel, mustard greens, and other vegetables, as well as eggs, meats, goat cheese, soaps, seedlings, cut flowers, and pussywillow branches! A guitar/fiddle duo was playing old-time tunes at the edge of the market. Their instruments were attached by strings to two free-standing puppets that were also playing the guitar and the fiddle, respectively, so that when the musicians played the puppets played too. In the other section of the market, there were vendors selling beer, kombucha, tacos, pizza, coffee, and pastries. And nearby there was a man with a large red, blue, and green parrot.

I returned to the courthouse square and walked first into Caveat Emptor: Used and Rare Books. It reminded me a little of Alias Books, but it was bigger. Behind the deceptively small storefront was a very deep shop. The lefthand wall was covered in bookshelves from floor to ceiling, with several rolling ladders for reaching the upper shelves. The selection was huge, with sections for everything from botany to women’s studies. I lingered over the Francophone African literature before moving on to the back of the store, where there were half a dozen or more small rooms housing children’s books, poetry, drama, science fiction and fantasy, psychology, foreign languages, and so on.

Caveat Emptor

Making my way back to the front of the shop, I found the music section. There were miniature scores of orchestral and choral works of the kind I used to shelve at the Swarthmore music library. And on the floor there were a few crates of music, which I started to go through with some care. I eventually found David Popper’s “Wie einst in schöner’n Tagen”, a piece I have played and may or may not already have the music to somewhere. This version was printed on two pieces of paper glued in a flimsy brown paper folder. I also found two short collections of cello sonatas, one by Handel and one by Loeillet, who I think must be a French Baroque composer, although I’ve never heard of him. I took all these to the counter and asked how much they were. The bookseller thought the Popper was something I had brought in myself, not something I’d found in his shop. He gave me both sets of sonatas for the price marked in the Handel and the brown paper Popper for free! I must say one thing I like about used bookstores is they tend to have at least some sheet music tucked away somewhere.

I had spent more time at Caveat Emptor than I’d intended, but I still walked down the street to the Book Corner and took a look. I think by then my book browsing hunger was sated, though, and I didn’t stay very long.

Saturday evening was the conference banquet. It’s traditional to have some sort of African food and music at the ACAL banquet, but this year we’d heard there would be neither. Instead, there was soul food. And the music… When I walked in, I saw on the little stage at the far end of the room a man sitting on a chair with a hurdy-gurdy. I almost exploded with happiness. (My love of hurdy-gurdies should by now be well-known.) And then a second musician joined him with…bagpipes! It made my day. Actually, it probably made my conference. One of the conference co-organizers, who I knew from previous ACALs, told me that the piper was a professor in the linguistics department and the hurdy-gurdy player was from another department. They played on and off during the early part of the banquet; the piper played Samhradh, Samhradh, which it took me a few minutes to recognize and which I’d never heard outside this recording. It was lovely. The musicians left relatively early, though, so there was no dancing, as there usually is at ACAL. I for one didn’t mind.

On the last morning of the conference, as I was walking from one session to the next, I caught sight of a little cemetery through the windows of Indiana Memorial Union. The building was something of a labyrinth, so I wasn’t sure I’d be able to find the cemetery outside, but then I studied the building map and figured it out. So after the conference had ended, I went exploring. I found Beck Chapel and, finding the door unlocked, stepped inside. It was pretty, mostly light wood with a small pipe organ. In the chapel yard, there were three markers commemorating the February 10th, 1942 planting of three trees respectively representing Catholicism, Judaism, and Protestantism. Only the tree representing Judaism remained, however; the other two markers stood at the foot of tree stumps. The cemetery was beside the chapel, but it was surrounded by a low stone wall, and the gate was closed, so I did not try to enter.

BUSted!

On Sunday evening Isabelle and I went to BUSted!’s Third Anniversary at Stories Books and Café in Echo Park. BUSted! is a monthly storytelling show featuring “True Stories About Getting Around LA Told By People Who Don’t Drive.” It seemed like the perfect event for us, since we fall into the category of people who navigate Los Angeles without a car, plus we exchange stories of our weird encounters in LA, a rather startling number of which have taken place on buses or at bus stops.

We in fact had a little mishap attempting to get on the same bus to go to Echo Park, but all’s well that ends well: we ended up on the same 4, and though we arrived a little late, we hadn’t missed any of the stories. Stories Books and Café is another LA bookstore I’d wanted to visit for a while (like The Last Bookstore and Skylight Books), and now I’ve checked it off my list. It’s a long, narrow bookstore with a café in the back and a patio beyond; the show was on the patio.

BUSted! is hosted by Scott Schultz, who introduced each of the featured storytellers. Most of the stories were actually about bizarre experiences riding the bus, though there was some almost virulent anti-car spoken word and a reflection on how driving turns us into our worst selves while riding the bus inspires us to write poetry, among other things. Our favorite story was the one told by Horace, about (not) witnessing a crime on a bus and being rewarded for not telling the police anything with an invitation to what turned out to be a crack house. After the featured storytellers, members of the audience, both known and unknown to the host, got up to share stories, some of which were more to my taste than others. As I listened, I decided that some of my bus (stop) stories actually were good enough to share, were I the type to relate anecdotes to an audience of strangers. And I also found myself wondering what buses these people were riding (sometimes they would name the route, and sometimes they were routes I take!) because had never seen all these guns and drugs and whatnot. So much the better.

Between the two of us, Isabelle and I recognized two people in the audience from Alias Books. And one of them might have recognized us? The world can be small, even in Los Angeles.

After the storytelling, the Matthew Teardrop Orchestra performed. Their lead singer (Matthew Teardrop?) told some bus stories of his own while the sound equipment was getting set up. In one of them, he missed his stop because the back door didn’t open, possibly because no one had actually requested the stop (though people did get on and off). It was a long way to the next stop because it was an express bus, and Matthew was on crutches at the time, so he asked the bus driver if he’d just let him off between stops. The driver refused. Matthew acted like he was going to light a cigarette so the driver would have to kick him off the bus. The driver threatened to call the sheriff.

The music was nice (there was a violin!), and after the band’s set, the BUSted! host told one more bus story, about two guys who were spraying down seats with bug spray because they were convinced they’d gotten bedbugs from the last bus they’d ridden on.

After the show, we went back into the bookstore and browsed for a long while. Stories is small, but it has a nice selection. Eventually, we left to catch the 704 back to the Westside, and who should we meet at the bus stop but Scott the host and four other storytellers. Of course everybody was catching the bus. The host thanked us for coming and asked how we’d heard about the show; evidently we were recognizably new faces in the audience. Then the 704 came, and we went home without any BUSted!-worthy incidents.

Chasing Wildflowers

It’s that time of year again: spring break (ish–it’s actually still finals week), the annual pilgrimage to the Huntington, and, like last year, more wildflower hunting because superbloom.

At the Huntington, we visited the Library Exhibition Hall (I’m pretty sure some of the books and documents had been switched out since the last time I was there, though the stars of the show–and some of my favorites, like the John Dowland songbook–remained) as well as the Beautiful Science exhibit, which I hadn’t seen before and which featured more wonderful old books. We also hit the clivia show and the Chinese and Japanese gardens, as per usual.

Poppy

Anemone

The Chinese garden has a new pavilion, the 愛蓮榭 (Ài Lián Xiè–Love for the Lotus Pavilion)! I was delighted because the Chinese name I’ve had since the beginning of college is 愛蓮. It’s my pavilion! The explanatory panel in the garden mentioned Zhou Dunyi’s 11th century essay 愛蓮說 (Ài Lián Shuō–On the Love of the Lotus), which I learned about for the first time only last year, thanks to department Chinese lunch.

On Monday, my parents, Adeline, and I drove to Anza-Borrego Desert State Park to witness the superbloom. We were not the only ones, but the crowds weren’t unmanageable. The park, at least the part we visited, is in a valley surrounded by mountains. After stopping at the visitors center, where I discovered thanks to some photos in the gift shop just how adorable bighorn sheep lambs are, we drove to two other destinations to see wildflowers. The first was Desert Gardens, where we’d hoped to find Parish’s poppies, but instead we saw lots of ocotillos, a lot of hawksweed, chollas, blossoming prickly pear, and a couple of desert lilies. Next we went to the sunflower fields along Henderson Canyon Road. Finally, we returned to the visitors center to poke around among the labeled specimens.

Indigo bush

A vetch of some sort

Desert lily

Phacelia with cactus

Some cactus flower

Some other cactus flower

Maui

First, here’s a lovely review of Wildings I stumbled upon!

At the end of February, I went to Maui for a family wedding. After all my friends in the Phonetics Lab went to Honolulu for the Acoustical Society of America’s conference at the end of November, I was particularly eager to go to Hawaii myself, especially since I’d never been there before. I’d never visited the non-continental U.S. or flown over the Pacific Ocean before either.

It was my mother’s cousin who was getting married, and my mother and I were the only representatives of the groom’s extended family. The bride had scads of relatives who traveled to Maui from Los Angeles, Toronto, Washington, D.C., Jakarta, and Singapore, among other places. Her family was very warm. And multilingual! Mandarin, Cantonese, Lao, English, French…

sam_1073

My great-aunt (the mother of the groom) and me at the rehearsal dinner

We were invited to the tea ceremony in the morning before the wedding itself. I’d never participated in any traditional Chinese wedding ceremonies before, so it was fascinating for me. And as a younger relative, I received 紅包 from the couple!

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View from the lawn where the wedding was held

The day after the wedding, my mother and I went snorkeling. On the boat ride to Molokini, we saw half a dozen or so humpback whales logging, breaching, and waving their pectoral fins out of the dark blue waves! It was quite spectacular. Definitely topped the whale watching I did off the coast of Maine once. Once we reached Molokini, a crescent-shaped volcanic crater I’d seen from the plane flying into Maui, we donned wetsuits, flippers, and snorkels and plopped off the back of the boat into the water. I’d never really swum in the ocean before; it was fun being so buoyant. The water was beautifully clear, and the coral and the fish were gorgeous. It was especially wondrous when those silky, gem-colored fish swam right past your face or your hands.

The next day, my mother and I drove along the northern coast of Maui on the road to Hana (we didn’t actually go all the way to Hana). This extremely twisty road, with its one-lane bridges, winds through mountains and rain forest, past many lovely waterfalls. There was even a hillside with goats on it! We stopped at the Garden of Eden Arboretum and Botanical Garden, where we admired the peacocks, exotic ducks, and many interesting native and non-native plants.

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View of Puohokamoa Falls from the Garden of Eden

On our last morning, we visited the town of Lahaina and the Wo Hing Temple, now the Chinese Museum. The museum seemed to have actual Shang Dynasty oracle bones (?!) and Song Dynasty pottery, among other Chinese artifacts. There were also photographs depicting the history of the Chinese community in Maui and lots of information on Sun Yat-sen, who visited Hawaii six times in his life and lived for a time in Maui.

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Inside the Wo Hing Society’s cookhouse at the Chinese Museum in Lahaina

All in all, it was a delightful family wedding and an idyllic post-prospectus defense vacation.