June 2020 Update

posted in: Drawing, Goals, Photography, Reading, Writing | 0

I had delayed posting my May 2020 Update because of so much happening in the world so it feels like I just did an update. Things are, of course, still happening in the world, but keeping up with my personal projects is helping keep me sane.

It is a particularly distressing time. On the upside, it seems like the protests that began at the end of May are having a positive impact. At first, I was concerned about the looting and rioting (especially the looting and rioting happening 4 blocks away), but after some reading and reflecting, I feel like I better understand why things escalated to that point.

On the downside, I live in a country that seems blind to the fact that there is a major global pandemic. People are actually arguing about wearing masks and being able to do whatever they want. Meanwhile, there are more new daily cases than ever. We’re at a point if we don’t begin to reign in the new cases, we might not be able to and could have 100,000 new cases a day. We’re at a tipping point. Add to that polls show that 27% of the country wouldn’t get the vaccine when there is one. I am among the people optimistic about there being a vaccine because science, but it’s disheartening to think there are people who won’t see through the haze of their preconceptions.

Good times.

Anyway, merrily we plod along.


Photography

I’ve been catching up on some of my film photography. During May, I got 5 rolls developed and 4 of them scanned. I scanned my 1 roll of 110 film myself. I posted about 2 of those rolls back in May:

During June, I caught up posting about the other 3 rolls:

I also went out once with my Canon EOS 5D Mark IV (with my Canon EF 17-40mm f/4 lens). A few days before Juneteenth, the city had declared it a holiday and our university followed their lead and also made it a holiday and closed operations.

In the spirit of the day, Holly and I went out on a photo walk with a friend of ours to seek out African-American historical sites and murals in our neighborhood. I have taken pictures of most of these before but never with such an educational intent. It felt like a good way to inspire some introspection and reflection.

Of course, I took some other pictures along the way.

I just got back another 5 sets of scans which I will start working on soon. I’m glad that I have a nice backlog to work on since I haven’t been out much in June. Between the heat and the pandemic (and not enough people wearing masks), I haven’t been out very much.


Drawing and Graphic Design

Quite a while ago (about 2 years ago, in fact), I bought a copy of Martina Flor’s The Golden Secrets of Lettering. I rather enjoyed working on some of the exercises and starting taking pictures of interesting lettering I found in my travels. As with a lot of my drawing practice, this fell to the wayside as I got distracted by other projects.

Now that I am spending more time at home, I decided to pick back up with this and signed up for Flor’s The Lettering Seminar. One of the appeals is that it’s asynchronous so I can work on it at my own pace. I have gotten through only a few lessons so far but am enjoying it and feel like I made a good decision to sign up. It’s been more rewarding than my first try at lettering partly because in the meantime, I’ve acquired better art tools so have more appropriate pens and pencils.


Writing

As I wrote in my 2019 Update and 2020 Goals post, I simplified my goals for this year and, basically, decided on two: 

  • More posts here on This Creative Midlife 
  • A refreshed and thoughtful approach to my short stories. 

I have posted a lot more to this blog than I had last year, although that trailed off a bit in June. As I mentioned, I held back posting anything because of all that has been happening in the world.

Although I posted only 3 times (which was the fewest so far any month this year), it was still more than the 0 times I posted last June. I have 31 posts this year compared to 8 times by this time last year. Site visits were down this month, probably due to posting less, but the overall trend of more activity this year continues.

I’m continued working on one of my longer story ideas. It’s still coming along slowly, but I’m making progress and am starting to feel more optimistic about it. My concentration, which has taken a beating during our self-isolation, feels like it’s mostly returning.


Reading

Short Stories

Unlike May, June turned out to be a rather good month for short stories. I enjoyed most of the short stories in June’s New Yorker issues which included a recently discovered Ernest Hemingway story, Pursuit as Happiness. Emma Cline, whose The Girls, I recently read an liked, also had a great story, White Noise.

My fondness for Haruki Murakami intensified with his delightful story, Confessions of a Shinagawa Monkey, which, I found out, was a sequel of sorts to his A Shinagawa Monkey published in the New Yorker back in 2006. As a New Yorker subscriber, I was able to get access to that and enjoy it as well.

I also started reading Lydia Davis’s Can’t and Won’t, which, on the whole, I haven’t liked all that much. She’s know for exceptionally short stories which means most of them come across as underdeveloped fragments which haven’t done much for me. But I have enjoyed a handful of the longer stories: Eating Fish Alone, The Dreadful Mucamas, and Reversible Story.

Finally, I read Scholastique Mukasonga’s moving Grief.

I read 8 short stories of note in June:

Short Stories Read in 2020

So far in 2020, I’ve read 25 stories that I have enjoyed.

Books

I finished 2 books in June: The Glass Hotel by Emily St. John Mandel and White Teeth by Zadie Smith.

I absolutely loved Emily St. John Mandel’s Station Eleven so was really looking forward to reading her latest. I realized that it was unlikely that The Glass Hotel would be as satisfying as Station Eleven so I tried to moderate my expectations. Although I had read some reviews when it first came out, I didn’t really remember what it was supposed to be about so I started it not knowing what to expect. For probably about the first 2/3rds of the novel, I was completely engaged and curious. I found some of the middle sections to be real page turners, but the book lost me toward the end. Still enjoyable overall, but I wish it had finished as strong as it had started.

On the other hand, I thought White Teeth was fabulous from start to finish. I have read only one other book by Zadie Smith, Swing Time, which definitely fell into the good but not great category for me so I was expected something similar from White Teeth. I found every character to be interesting and vivid and the plot to be fascinating and often surprising. It’s a smart novel with a lot to say, but it never feels overly didactic.

June 2020 Reading Update
June 2020 Reading Update

Books Read in 2020

So far in 2020, I have read 18 books:


This Creative Midlife Posts in 2020

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