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Lisbon, Part I

In the second half of June, I went to LabPhon, a phonetics and phonology conference, in Lisbon. I had never been to Portugal before, and so when I and several other colleagues from my department were accepted, I decided to go to my first international conference. In preparation, I ordered a Portuguese phrasebook from France and proceeded to study European Portuguese extremely halfheartedly for weeks. It didn’t help that the phrasebook’s explanation of Portuguese pronunciation was abominable.

LabPhon itself was good. I presented my poster and had some fulfilling conversations with fellow linguists. It was also a good place to see friends from other universities. That said, I did skip a lot of the conference to explore Lisbon. Here are the highlights:

Tuesday

Isabelle and I met up in the afternoon and walked to the Terreiro do Paço, on the estuary of the Tagus. From there, it was a short walk to the Casa dos Bicos, or House of Beaks, a 16th century house whose façade is covered in pyramid-shaped protrusions reminiscent of beaks. It reminded me a little of the beaky portal of the Church of St. Mary the Virgin in Iffley.

Casa dos Bicos

Inside, on the ground floor, there were remnants of the Roman walls, and upstairs was the Fundação José Saramago, the museum of one of my favorite authors! The permanent exhibit featured hundreds of copies of his novels, translated into many languages, including Georgian! There was a lovely account of how after Saramago died, as the airplane carrying his remains took off from the island of Lanzarote, his neighbors read passages of his novels aloud, to bear him away, so to speak. And then when the airplane landed in Portugal, people waved copies of his books to greet it. It was rather moving. We also learned that Saramago’s ashes were buried under the olive tree we’d admired out front before entering the museum.

We then took a break, and I ate my first pastél de nata, bought at a fancy bakery earlier. This pastry is akin to the Chinese egg tart served at dim sum, but it’s thicker and richer. I’d heard of them long ago but never had one, and my first was delicious!

Next we visited the Igreja de Santo António, where mass was being celebrated (in Spanish…?). We went down to the crypt, where a sign indicated that St. Anthony was born HERE. Just up the hill was the Sé de Lisboa, the cathedral. We climbed one of the towers to get to the treasury and found you could walk through a narrow doorway onto the balcony at the back of the sanctuary. It was rather magical when it was just us up there.

In the evening, Meng and I walked around the narrow streets of the Bairro Alto and ate at a restaurant, where we got the bacalhau (salt cod) for two. It was also delicious.

Wednesday

This was the day I presented my poster. After the conference, Meng, Jeremy, and I walked up some very steep streets in what seemed to be a sort of Chinatown. We met up with Adam, Marc, and Jamie, all graduates of our program, and their partners on a bar patio overlooking the Tagus and shared some sangria. Then we went to a restaurant in the Alfama district, where I had rabbit in a plum sauce with couscous.

Thursday

After a day at the conference, I met up with my friend Andrew and two other Berkeley grad students to visit the Castelo de São Jorge. There were splendid views, as well as peacocks, peahens, and their babies. We had fun climbing around the castle walls.

View from near the castle

The castle

We had dinner at a restaurant downhill from the castle, and I had my second salt cod dish, bacalhau à Brás. It’s sort of like fish with egg and hashbrowns, all mixed together. It was tasty and filling. Two of the Berkeley students had bacalhau com natas, which looked a bit like a lake of cream with bits of fish in it (this is how I learned that nata means ‘cream’).

My bacalhau à Brás

After dinner, we kept walking downhill, enjoying Lisbon in the evening light of midsummer.

Azulejos in a little square near the cathedral

View from the square

To be continued!

Qing Dynasty Treasures and Boundless Peaks

I am woefully behind on blogging about my adventures, but such is the way of things. In the last month or so, besides diligently writing my dissertation, I’ve returned to the aquarium, enjoyed a 4-hour “study session” at the new cat café in my neighborhood, and spent nearly three weeks in Portugal and France. This post, however, harks back to early May, when I was in Minneapolis with Isabelle for the 175th Meeting of the Acoustical Society of America. It was my first phonetics conference. We presented posters in the same session, and I met exactly the linguists I wanted to talk to about my somewhat perplexing study (one of them, from the University of Minnesota, lives practically down the road from my parents!). I also got to see a friend and fellow linguistics Ph.D. student I know from Swarthmore.

After our poster session, Isabelle and I had lunch on Eat Street and then walked over to the Minneapolis Institute of Art to see Power and Beauty in China’s Last Dynasty. This exhibit was meant to weave objects and artwork from the Qing Dynasty into an immersive, sensory experience drawing on elements of theater. It began with ten minutes of meditation in a dark room. It was almost pitch black, but a vase placed high in one corner was illuminated. A piece by John Cage involving what sounded like pencils being dropped onto a stage played in the background. Several of the exhibit rooms included music, some of it rather strange. One of the rooms, featuring a carved wooden throne, had walls painted red with the image of a rather Western-looking dragon and a soundtrack of screams (possibly not all human?). The whole thing was rather unusual, but I liked the art.

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Look at those bats!

After emerging from the Qing Dynasty exhibit, we stumbled upon another temporary exhibit, Boundless Peaks: Ink Paintings by Minol Araki. Araki was a Japanese painter born in China who studied with Chinese painter Zhang Daqian. I was quite taken with his paintings, especially a monumental one covering several walls depicting mountains and trees.

LSA in Salt Lake City

At the beginning of January, I attended the Annual Meeting of the Linguistic Society of America in Salt Lake City. It was my second LSA; my first was Minneapolis in 2014, when I was a first-year grad student. As a fifth-year grad student, I did both more (presented, had more social meals) and less (didn’t volunteer, attended fewer talks, and certainly no sister society talks). The conference was also my second visit to Utah, the first being our road trip last summer.

My plane from Los Angeles flew in past pretty snow-dusted mountains and over a big lake that I thought was the Great Salt Lake. Looking at a map later, I realized it had almost certainly been Utah Lake; the Great Salt Lake would have been much bigger. I took the train from the Salt Lake City airport to downtown. A relative had told me that all Salt Lake City geography was structured around the Temple, and it was true! As I rode east, I saw through the train window the Madina Masjid, next door to the Pentecostals of Salt Lake.

The LSA was being held at the Grand America Hotel; the student rate rooms were across the street in the Little America (appropriate, eh?). I checked into the room I was sharing with my co-presenter and discovered that despite its younger sibling name, the Little America was probably the fanciest hotel I had ever stayed in. I headed over to the Grand America to register, spotted some familiar faces (as linguistics is a small field, the LSA feels like a family reunion), decided not to go to anything that evening, and set out in search of some dinner. I figured if I walked north into downtown I would stumble upon something.

Indeed, after walking for several blocks I noticed a sandwich board on the sidewalk advertising Curry n’ Kabobs, Indian/Afghan cuisine. I glanced through the door the arrow was pointing at and saw a restaurant counter at the back of a convenience store. This sounded perfect. But just ahead was Eborn Books, the used bookstore I’d glimpsed from the train coming in. I decided to check it out before eating.

Visiting local bookstores during conferences is becoming a habit. There was Caveat Emptor in Bloomington, IN, the Strand in New York City… Eborn Books was delightful: a quirky, labyrinthine shop stuffed with books. A sign over one doorway read: “Welcome to What We Call ‘The Ugly Room,'” which included self-help, politics, and religion. A sign pointed in one direction for LDS books while another pointed in the opposite direction for anti-LDS books. In the foreign languages section, I found a French book on given names, quite similar to one I bought at a used book market in Paris years ago, which said, of Eleanor (Éléonore): “Perhaps no other first name fascinates as much…” (clunky translation by me).

I wished I could have lingered longer in Eborn Books, but I had things to prepare that evening, so I left and went next door to order takeout. The man behind the counter was very nice and friendly, and I took an order of Afghan mantu and a mango lassi back to the Little America. They were delicious.

The LSA is an enormous conference (for our field), and I had resolved not to try to do too much. My poster was in the Friday morning session, and I gave a joint talk on Saturday afternoon as big snowflakes fell gently outside. On Saturday evening, we had a Swarthmore linguists dinner at a Nepali restaurant. There were six of us alumni, including my friend Andrew, from the classes of 2007 through 2016, and also a former Swarthmore professor who taught me semantics and typology/conlanging and also helped me navigate getting into grad school. There are a lot of young Swarthmore alumni in linguistics Ph.D. programs across the country; there were more at the LSA who couldn’t make the dinner.

On Sunday, I had lunch with Andrew and then squeezed in a last bit of sightseeing. First, I went to the public library, a five-story building with glass walls on one side that funnily enough hosted a linguistics conference (that I did not attend) a couple of years ago. The rooftop terrace was closed, to my chagrin, since I’d hoped to take pictures of the mountains from there. Still, it was a beautiful, very modern library, and there was a mobile in the atrium that consisted of many small blue book/butterflies suspended from threads that together formed a child’s head (I think). There was also a little boutique that sold vintage Utah postcards, stationery, and literary gifts.

Finally, on my way to the airport, I stopped in Temple Square and walked around. A young woman asked me if I’d like to go into the Tabernacle for the organ concert, but alas, I didn’t have time.

The Assembly Hall

The Mormon Temple

Downtown Salt Lake City had been bright and sunny, but the airport was plunged in thick fog. It created travel problems for other linguists, but I was lucky, and my flight departed. We flew out of the fog very quickly, and below, the mountaintops looked like islands in a milky ocean.

2017 in Review

Well, what do you know, apparently I began my 2016 in Review post by saying 2016 had been awful. Little did I know what 2017 had in store! -_- But again, despite the political train wreck and the grad school angst, 2017 also had its share of joys. Instead of doing a month-by-month recap of 2017, I’ve decided to just recall some highlights, in no particular order:

And 2017 is ending on an exciting note–on Friday, I learned that a short story of mine had been accepted for publication! This is my first short fiction sale. I’ll be excited to share it with you in 2018! Happy New Year!

A Night Heron in Central Park

First off, 中秋節快樂! Happy Mid-Autumn Festival! I can’t believe I only discovered my (new) favorite Chinese bakery in LA Chinatown in what might be my last year here.

In mid-September, I went to New York City to present at the Annual Meeting on Phonology. Shortly before my trip, I realized it would be my first time on the East Coast since I graduated from Swarthmore, which seemed unbelievable. It was my first time in New York City (not counting layovers) since the fall of 2008. I stayed on the Upper West Side with a family friend, her son, and their two cats. It was a weekend filled with meetings and reunions with linguists and friends from Swarthmore, the intersection of which is not insignificant.

But first, on Friday morning, I met my agent in person for the first time! I figured I should take advantage of being in the capital of the publishing industry. I got to visit Writers House and see where all my e-mails, manuscripts, and envelopes go.

After meeting my agent, I had lunch with my friend Eugenia, who had also studied linguistics (and folk danced!) at Swarthmore. We had taken a translation workshop together, and she’s now a professional freelance translator. We correspond by snail mail and had discovered we’d be in New York City the same weekend (neither of us lives on the East Coast), and luckily our schedules aligned.

I finally made my way to NYU, where my conference was being held. There I found my friend Chris, another Swarthmore linguist (and shape note singer, surprise, surprise), now at Yale, whom I hadn’t seen since I’d graduated. Chris and I had taken Field Methods together. We were both glad to see each other again.

The conference was great. I ran into many graduate students from other schools whom I’d met when we were prospective students together, or when I’d hosted them when they’d visited UCLA, or at past conferences. It’s always nice to see friendly faces and have a chance to catch up in person. I also saw (and sometimes even spoke to!) Famous Linguists (often East Coast ones) I hadn’t met before. There were interesting talks and posters.

On Saturday evening, after the conference reception, I discovered completely serendipitously that my friend Leland, yet another Swarthmore linguist, now at UMass Amherst, was also in New York City. The conference was crawling with his colleagues, but I had had no expectation that he would be attending (and indeed he was in New York for entirely unrelated reasons). We made plans to meet up on Sunday.

I gave my talk on Sunday morning, I think to my largest conference audience ever, and after catching up with another fellow grad student over slices of pizza in Washington Square Park, I headed to the Strand to meet Leland.

I had never been to the Strand before, and I was duly impressed. Leland and I wandered very slowly through the SFF section, half catching up, half discussing books. Then we nipped up to Children’s for a bit before returning downstairs to pick up the books we wanted to buy. I got Ada Palmer’s Too Like the Lightning, which I am currently reading and enjoying (lots of worldbuilding to sink my teeth into).

After leaving the Strand, we almost slipped into the Organ Meditation at Grace Church, then changed our minds and just went to get ice cream.

On Monday morning, before I had to head to the airport, I took a walk in Central Park. I chose trails somewhat at random in the Ramble and eventually hit the lake, where I witnessed this charming tableau:

Ducks and turtles living in harmony!

I’d been focused entirely on the reptiles and waterfowl on the submerged rock, but suddenly something in the tree on shore beside me caught my eye. For a moment, I thought a duck was perched in the tree; this struck me as unusual, and I wanted to take a picture. But then I realized it was not a duck but something far more interesting!

The bird’s shape reminded me of a night heron, but its plumage was totally different from that of the black-crowned night herons I’d seen in Minnesota. I didn’t figure it out until I got back to Los Angeles, but I think this is a black-crowned night heron–just a female one! Anyway, I stared at the poor bird for a long time and kept trying, mostly in vain, to take a decent picture of her. I think she was watching me too.

Georgian Food and the Turkish Sparkers

Last weekend I was in Chicago because I was giving a talk at the Chicago Linguistic Society’s conference (I had an awfully good time the last time I went to CLS two years ago). Shortly before I left, my advisor sent me a magazine article about a Georgian restaurant (the only Georgian restaurant?) in Chicago. The conference ended on Saturday, but I didn’t fly out until the following evening, so on Sunday I decided to seek out this restaurant.

Chicago Diplomat Café is a deep, high-ceilinged restaurant with leather-backed armchairs and black tablecloths and an aquarium with goldfish. When I arrived shortly before noon, there was only one other party, a couple, dining. I was seated at a little table not far from them. I can’t remember if I’ve ever eaten alone in a sit-down restaurant before, but it wasn’t too awkward. With my suitcase in tow, I fancied I looked like a worldly traveler.

The magazine article had mentioned all sorts of scrumptious dishes, and my one regret in coming alone was that I doubted I’d be able to try more than one dish (no supra for me). There were three kinds of khachapuri, but if I ordered one I didn’t think I’d be able to eat anything else. I decided I wanted the khinkali, Georgian soup dumplings. But when I asked the waiter if I could have them, he said no. I was a bit flummoxed and said something about them not having khinkali today. The waiter didn’t exactly confirm this, but I switched my order to the mtsvadi. I also ordered a Georgian lemonade, pear flavor (the other option was tarragon). If the waiter approved of my Georgian pronunciation, he gave no sign of it.

Georgian lemonade

The Georgian lemonade turned out to be a bottled soda that didn’t taste at all like lemonade. It was a little too sweet for my taste; it gave me the impression of carbonated apple juice (the kind of apple juice preschoolers drink). The mtsvadi was tasty, though it wasn’t quite what I’d expected from the menu. The seasoned chunks of chicken had been cooked on a skewer, and the Georgian fried potatoes were…basically French fries (though quite good ones). The red sauce on the side was sour (in a good way). The menu had called mtsvadi the dish of kings. According to the magazine article, the chicken was marinated in pomegranate juice, and the sauce was tkemali, a sour plum sauce.

Mtsvadi

While I was eating, a larger party with a reservation came in. One young woman was explaining the dishes to her friends, and I later heard her tell the waiter she’d been a Peace Corps volunteer in Georgia. She and the waiter discussed the fact that Georgian lemonade is in fact flavored soda, not lemonade (wish I’d heard that sooner). The group discussed ordering khinkali, and I thought to myself that they would be disappointed as I’d been. But then when the Peace Corps volunteer asked for two orders of the dumplings, the waiter accepted the order! There was some brief exchange I didn’t catch (perhaps khinkali take a while to prepare?), but the Peace Corps volunteer said one of her friends had his heart set on khinkali, and it seemed clear they were being allowed to order them. I was miffed. Someday I will eat khinkali!

In other news from roughly the same part of the world…the Turkish edition of Sparkers appears to be coming out tomorrow, June 1st! The Turkish title is Kıvılcımlar, which Google Translate tells me means “sparks,” and it was translated by Canan Vaner. The publisher is Kırmızı Kedi (Red Cat!), and their page for the book is here (it seems to be on lots of Turkish bookselling sites, but I can’t really read any of them, so I’ll just link to the publisher). If you or anyone you know reads Turkish, consider buying the first foreign edition of Sparkers!

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.

I’m Back!

I passed my dissertation prospectus defense and am now a Candidate in Philosophy or somesuch.

A couple of news items:

  • ChinaInsight, a monthly Minnesota newspaper about Minnesota/U.S.-China relations, ran a profile on me and my books in their February issue.
  • In early February, I had lunch with the 5th grade book club at the Brentwood School near UCLA. I had a delightful time, and there’s a little write-up (with photo) here.

To celebrate my successful defense, I spent the weekend being excessively cultured. On Saturday, my friend Dustin and I went to the UCLA Early Music Ensemble’s winter concert, Half Empty: A Post-Valentine’s Concert. The theme seemed to be depressing love songs. The ensemble was smaller than at the fall concert. Most of the pieces were for a few singers accompanied by vielle or viol, or maybe recorder, or dulcian. A lot of the early (i.e. pre-Renaissance) stuff was not attributed to a particular composer but simply came from some manuscript or codex. The concert featured guest artist Emily Lau, a singer with a gorgeous voice. She told us Francesco Landini, composer of two of the songs on the program, was her favorite composer; I swear I studied him in music listening back in the day, but I can no longer remember any particular works of his.

The program progressed chronologically. We got to Arcadelt’s “Il bianco e dolce cigno,” and to Dowland, and Gibbons. The final song was “I’m Stretched On Your Grave”; the words are a translation of a 17th century Irish text. Emily Lau performed this accompanied by viol and violin, and I thought it was quite beautiful. I could also understand phrases here and there, which was nice after the Gibbons, which might as well not have been in English. Afterwards, I looked up the full text and decided the third verse was, uh, dubious, but I still liked the song enough that Kate Rusby’s version is my new earworm.

On Sunday, I went to the farewell reading at Alias Books, which is, alas, closing. I arrived quite early since I’d come straight from shape note singing, so I had ample time to browse. I wound up buying Edwidge Danticat’s first two books (a novel and a short story collection). Then, while waiting for the reading to begin, I continued reading the copy of Possession I’d bought the last time I was at Alias.

The reading included poems, an excerpt from a novel, and translations (from Polish, Spanish, and Italian). There were a couple of musical acts too, one of which featured a song about a sick pet tortoise who required intensive care in a bathtub. Two of the writers I’d heard at the post-election reading last fall. One of them, Deenah Vollmer, has a particular knack for expressing what I might call, for lack of a better term, millenial angst (from which I am not exempt). Afterwards, I walked home through the rainy night, my backpack full of books.

2016 in Review

A lot of people have been saying that 2016 was awful, and yes, there was plenty of awful. Particularly a certain week in November. But there was a lot of wonderful too. Forthwith, my recap of my 2016.

In January, I got glasses! I also worked on Wildings copyedits and hosted a singing party.

In February, I revealed the cover for Wildings, trawled Hmong and Lao dictionaries for loanwords, and coordinated grad student Q & As with the computational linguistics job candidates.

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Celebrating Chandeleur

In March, my mother visited me for spring break, and we visited Mt. Wilson and went wildflower hunting. Then I took Trip #1 to the Bay Area to present a poster on Maragoli hiatus resolution at ACAL.

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Happy linguist amidst the echium at UCLA

In April, I went to AWP in Los Angeles, where I met Anne Ursu. I also went to the LA Times Festival of Books with Isabelle and to YALLWEST. It was a bookish month.

In May, Isabelle and I went to the magic show our conceptual artist had produced, and I spent a day shape note singing, fiddling, and stalking hurdy-gurdy players at the Topanga Banjo-Fiddle Contest. At the end of the month, I went home for my brother’s graduation from Count Olaf College, and I managed to catch my Morris dancer friends, in town for the Midwest Morris Ale, performing in a brewery!

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I also managed to catch my mother’s garden at the height of peony season!

In June, I took Trip #2 to the Bay Area, where I got to see my friends Miyuki, Andrew, Leland, and Katherine. I went to the Bay Area Book Festival and wandered around some of San Francisco with Leland. Back in Los Angeles, I attended the UCLA Linguistics Department’s 50th anniversary celebration and returned to the Mixed Remixed Festival, this time as a panelist.

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Datvebis Gundi performs before the anniversary banquet (that’s illustrious phonetician Ian Maddieson lurking in the background)

July: Did I do anything in July? In theory, I was being studious.

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There was a fire somewhere that made for interesting skies one day

In August, I went to a Georgian yodeling workshop and saw the Dunhuang cave temples exhibit at the Getty. Isabelle and I coached a tour guide in speaking our invented Martian English in our second collaboration with the conceptual artist. Martian English was featured at the Seattle Art Fair and even found its way into the New York Times, so I think we’ve made it. I returned to Minnesota, visited my friend Alex at Seed Savers in Decorah, IA, and went camping in the Boundary Waters.

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Adorable White Park calves, from a proud and ancient line of British cattle

In September, after enjoying the Minnesota State Fair, I returned to California for Trip #3 to the Bay Area. I saw the San Francisco Opera premiere Dream of the Red Chamber, visited Angel Island, Muir Woods, and Yosemite, and had all sorts of adventures, one of which involved Amtrak. I also acquired a copy of the Northern Harmony.

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In October, I went on Mike the Poet’s tour of downtown Los Angeles, which started at the LA Central Library and ended at the Last Bookstore. I started studying Manchu and presented a poster on Efik reduplication at AMP at USC.

On November 1st, Wildings came out! I had a launch party at Red Balloon Bookshop in St. Paul and spoke to students at my high school. Then I had a launch party at Children’s Book World in Los Angeles (which just turned 30!). In between those two parties was a devastating election. Fight on. At the end of the month, I hosted my first Friendsgiving.

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Autumn in Minnesota

In December, I had my radio debut on Minnesota Public Radio, ran an artificial language learning study, and acquired a hammered dulcimer from my friend Chase.

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Minnehaha Falls at the end of December

Happy New Year and onward!

Interview at Cracking the Cover

I did an interview for Cracking the Cover recently. You can read the post or, if you want more, the full Q & A. There’s a fair bit of linguistics and music.

Speaking of, I talked about linguistics and music in my radio interview on MPR last week too! As far as I can tell, the segment isn’t available to listen to online after all, so sorry to those of you who missed it and had hoped to listen to it later! The whole thing is kind of a blur. I think I might’ve tried to debunk the strong version of the Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis on live radio.