Tuesday, August 15, 2023

Our Strangers by Lydia Davis


I had not read anything by Lydia Davis before this book. I had also not read anything by anyone that was quite like this. My first reaction shortly after starting this book was, 'Wow!' Now that I am finished with it, that is still my reaction. This is a fabulous book of short and very short stories about small aspects of everyday life that most of people would either miss or forget about shortly after they took place. Yet, as this collection reminds us,  these are the moments that make up our lives and they're worth noticing and paying attention to. Some of the stories are several pages long and some are just a few sentences. Even the very short stories leave  traces of larger stories that the reader can fill in in whatever way their imaginations takes them. A few of the stories provide different versions of the same events within them. There are stories that made me laugh out loud, stories that made me feel the awkwardness of a given situation, and stories that are poignant. I devoured this book in one sitting, but it would also be a good book to keep in a handy spot so one can easily dip in and out of it. It also warrants rereading. It may also make readers want to notice the usually unnoticed as they go about their daily lives. I can't wait to read more Lydia Davis and I am thrilled to have discovered her work. 5+ stars.

Thanks to NetGalley, the publisher, and the author for a digital review copy.

Sunday, August 6, 2023

A Cat's-Eye View of Japan

For those of you who love cats, here are some videos that I really enjoy watching--each one is about 5 minutes long. I can't share the videos themselves here because NHK Japan doesn't allow viewing off their YouTube page, but here's the link to the playlist.
The cats are fun to watch, the scenery is beautiful, and the glimpse into the culture of each place is interesting. There are subtitles where necessary.

Friday, August 4, 2023

Wait and See How It Goes

 I've started volunteering at a small local museum that has just reopened after being closed for 4 years. I'm not sure why they closed--it was before the pandemic--and we didn't live here then. In any case, it's open again now and I decided to volunteer for a shift each week. I did my second one today. It's going OK so far, but to be honest, I'm not sure how it will be in the long run. Everything seems very random, haphazard, and fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants. That's not how I roll. I have decided to wait and see how things go. I'm making conscious decisions to not jump in and try to do too much. As much as I am inclined to try to impose order on what seems to me to be a chaotic, disorganized situation, as I have done in the past (not always successfully), both in paid employment and volunteer gigs, I am going with the flow and accepting the way it is. This may mean that I eventually get so frustrated that I walk away or it may mean that I learn to comfortably operate differently. Time will tell. I remind myself that I am not in my own culture anymore and this is how things are here. It seems to work for them and whether it works for me doesn't really matter. I'm the one who doesn't know everyone in the town, the history, etc. So much is left unsaid because they seem to be used to dealing only with people who have been here for years. For example, I was not given any sort of instruction on what to do when I am in the museum--I still have not even had a chance to see all of it. Most of the exhibits are self-explanatory, but I had to ask for information on some things. Today a couple of people came in and I had to go downstairs to turn on the lights because it was particularly dark in one room. I went to the closet where the switches are, but I looked at the switch box in vain for anything that suggested which switch was for the downstairs front room. Finally I just turned all of them on to see what would happen. It was the last switch, marked 'audio-visual' that I needed. 😐😕 Communication is weird and via a What'sApp group where there are many conversations going on at one time and answers to questions are vague. Maybe this is typical of such groups--I am new to the whole What'sApp thing. In any case, the museum closes for the season at the end of September and I think there will be random events in the months until it opens again in the spring. I can decide what I want to participate in as they arise. In the meantime, I have learned more about the history and culture of the town, both of which I find quite interesting. In the process, I am observing myself, too, and noticing how I react to things, which is also good. More self-awareness is never a bad thing.