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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!

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.

 

Wildings Launch Party at Children’s Book World

Last Saturday was the California launch for Wildings at Children’s Book World in Los Angeles! I was lucky enough to be joined by professors and fellow students from my department, friends from my church, my friend Andrew (who came down from Berkeley and served as official photographer again), and even some people I didn’t know (miracle of miracles!). I got to break out Isabelle’s famous stamp for the linguists. 🙂 Here are a few photos, all by Andrew unless otherwise specified:

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With Sharon, the owner of Children’s Book World

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Reading

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With Andrew (photo by Spencer)

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UCLA linguists and Georgian choristers all! ❤

Wildings Launch Party at Red Balloon

Preface: Look, I can’t post this blithe write-up of my launch party pretending like yesterday didn’t happen. And it would also be pointless to hide my politics. The outcome of the presidential election has left me stunned, deeply disappointed, and more than a little afraid of what the future holds. I am a woman of color, but I enjoy all kinds of privilege, and I’m more afraid for others than I am for myself. At the same time, I have faith that no matter who is president we can keep working to spread justice and end oppression. We can continue to welcome the immigrant and the refugee in our communities. It may be harder, but we cannot, and will not, give up. We are not powerless. And I’m resolved to do my part. And for those of you who are hurting, who are terrified, my heart goes out to you. I’m here for you, and I’ll stand with you.

So.

This past weekend I traveled back to Minnesota to celebrate the release of Wildings at Red Balloon Bookshop in St. Paul! It was a lovely launch party. I feel so lucky to have gotten to share this occasion with so many people who are important to me. Members of my extended family, from both my parents’ sides, came, as well as a number of my high school friends and/or their families. My cello teacher, with whom I studied for nine years, came and admired the hand positions of the cellist on the cover of Wildings. My best childhood friend, whom I’ve known since I was born and with whom I wrote my first stories, was able to be there because she’s now in grad school at the University of Minnesota. One of my Lutheran Volunteer Corps housemates came with her husband.

My mother invited a neighbor girl who lives at the end of our block and whom I’d never met before. She read Sparkers in advance of the release party and sat in the front row at the bookstore. She asked several questions during the Q & A and then came up to the table where I was signing books several more times to ask further questions. One of them was who my favorite teacher was. Will anyone who’s read Sparkers be surprised to hear it was my middle school orchestra teacher? The last time, she gave me a card in which she told me she was an aspiring author. ❤

And now for some photos!

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Here I am! (photo by my mother)

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Reading from Chapter 1 (photo by my aunt)

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Signing books (photo by Madeline)

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The cake! (photo by Stef)

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Me and my youngest cousin (photo by my aunt)

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Me and Grandma Yee (photo by my mother)

WILDINGS in the Wild!

Happy November! It’s Wildings’ publication day! This book was two years and seven months in the making (which is amazingly short, compared to Sparkers), and now it’s finally out in the world!

Wildings Final Cover

I now give you…

5 Reasons to Read Wildings

  1. Caleb Levi: Did you like Marah’s younger brother in Sparkers? If so, you’re in luck because he’s back in a much more prominent role!
  2. Marah and Azariah: What happened to them? Did Marah become a concert violinist? Or a linguist? Or something else…? You’ll find out.
  3. Musical magic: Yes, there is spell casting with instruments and singing.
  4. Poking around in dusty archives: You know, if you enjoy that sort of thing. I may have been inspired by the Central Registry in José Saramago’s All the Names
  5. Rhubarb

If you’re in the Twin Cities or the Los Angeles area, I’d love to see you at one of my release parties for Wildings!

Happy reading!

Wildings Galore!

Wildingslatest trade review is from VOYA! You can read it here. The book will be out in the world in less than two weeks! And yesterday, a whole bunch of books arrived in the mail. I could build a book castle!

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Also, here’s an article about a new independent children’s bookstore opening in the Twin Cities! It of course mentions the lovely Red Balloon Bookshop and Wild Rumpus, two of my favorite places. I’ll be at Red Balloon in just over two weeks for Wildings‘ Minnesota launch.