What I read in March

I’m going to have to start doing these posts bi-weekly instead of monthly if I keep reading at the rate I am. I allocated two pages in my bullet journal for the books I read in 2021, which should leave room for about 70 books, and I’ve already filled an entire page. Part of it is that I’m listening to a good number of audiobooks while I’m working, but most of it is just that I’m reading a lot! As always, you can add me on Goodreads if you want to follow what I’m reading throughout the month.

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Táim ag foghlaim Gaeilge le Duolingo

Last week I hit two milestones on Duolingo: I reached a 365-day streak, and I completed the Irish skill tree (finished all of the lessons for the language, for those who are not familiar with the app). I started doing a few Duolingo lessons a day at the start of lockdown when I first arrived back in the US from Southeast Asia and now, a year and change later and still in lockdown (although now in Ireland), I’ve managed to keep the streak going and also complete every lesson on the skill tree.

Despite being one of the official languages of Ireland, a history of oppression in which the use of Irish was forbidden by the English and Irish words and particularly place names were haphazardly Anglicised (in college I read Brian Friel’s Translations for a course and have been fascinated by this ever since) means that bilingual speakers are a minority. It is estimated that only 40-80k people in Ireland are fully fluent in the language, and in the 2016 census only 6.3% of respondents said they speak Irish weekly (with only 1.7% reporting speaking it daily).

While there are a few jobs that require a level of proficiency in Irish, for the most part you could go your whole life without ever needing a word, especially as an immigrant.

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Let people enjoy their damn donuts

This week Krispy Kreme announced a promotion: show your Covid-19 vaccination card and get a free donut every day for the rest of the year. A playful way to urge folks to get their shots and a fun way to reward people for doing so.

And apparently a sign of the end times, if you listen to any number of busybody doctors and busybody wannabe doctors on twitter and elsewhere, who were quick to tell people that they might be saved from covid but would undoubtably die of heart disease from eating donuts every day. The promotion, these folks seemed to take great pleasure in assuring everyone, is more evidence of America’s unhealthy obesity culture.

Paired with a number of articles that have just come out analysing the number of pounds we’ve all packed on over the course of the pandemic, it was a great week for people not minding their own fucking business.

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What I read in February

Another good reading month—I’ll probably have good reading months until the lockdown is over, or at least until the weather is better. Maybe it’s coming, the sunrise is before 7.30am now and the sunset is after 6.15pm, but for now apart from my daily walk I’m still spending a lot of my time inside and so I’m still getting a lot of reading in. It doesn’t help (in a good way) that I have so many books I’m excited about on hold via Libby and so every time a new one comes in I can’t wait to read it. So for now we’re two months in and I’ve already reached nearly half of my reading goal for the year, and I’m not complaining. This is what I’ve read:

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The Wall.

I think we’ve all hit it in the last few weeks. The reason is obvious, and so is the timing. We’re coming up on a year of Covid and lockdown, we’re facing some of the worst weather that keeps us even from our fresh air and vitamin D, and we’re reaching the realisation that even this summer might not be enough time to give us the fragments of normalcy we hope to grasp for.

And yet it still feels like there’s more to it. I’ve heard it from so many people, friends in all countries, all situations. Those who have lost their jobs and those who are working away from home. Those who have already received their vaccines (jealous!) and those who have no idea if they’ll even be on the list this year (hello). Even friends in New Zealand, where post-Covid life looks almost the same as pre-Covid life with a few more QR code check-ins, have noticed it.

Some people have hit the wall sooner than others. Some are doing what they can to stave it off—I sleep well, drink lots of water, walk almost every day, and yet the wall is still in front of me, my toes still bashing against it when I move to take a step.

This piece by poet Donna Ashworth really resonated with me the other day:

I’ve been having trouble sending or responding to messages, whether in direct conversation or through releasing them into the world via this blog. My anxiety tells me people won’t understand, but I know we’re all in the same boat. And when the flood of words comes, we’ll accept them with open arms.

We must remember that we are not alone. Although of course I don’t want any friends or strangers to find themselves up against the same wall as me, it helps to know that it isn’t a personal wall; it’s not a barricade just wide enough to keep only me from moving ahead. A wall that is wide enough to hold us all back is a wall that has plenty of space for cracks and fissures if we know were to look for them. It helps to know that we can still knock it down together.

What I read in January

Another month of winter, another month of lockdown, and my reading year got off to a bang with a wide variety: a reread of an old favourite, a collection of poetry, some YA, some contemporary fiction, my first ever romance novel, and more. Here’s what I read in January:

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