January’s Favorites

The beast yawns. The world crumbles. Yet, there are still things worth finding in the rubble. These are my favorites of the things I discovered in January. 3 words, 3 songs, 3 stories.

Words

British

Long before the kingdoms became united, the big British island was populated by, well, the Britons. The languages that the Britons spoke were, naturally, called British. None of these languages were English. After being “displaced” by Irish, Latin and Germanic peoples, the Britons ended up on the Southwest side of the island. Some of the Germanic people that replaced them began referring to them as ‘Welsh,’ and the name stuck. So we call their country Wales, and we call their languages names like Welsh, Cornish and Breton.

So until the 19th century, the word British was a synonym for Welsh. History does weird things to language.

 

Rugose

I don’t have any interesting history for you here. I just really like the way it feels to say rugose. Roo-gho-sss.

It’s the same ‘rug’ that you can find in ‘corrugate.’ Full of wrinkles, or perhaps terryfolds. Usually used in biology. i.e. coral, skin, or the rugosa, an extinct order of sea critters that whose name would be a great name for some aliens.

 

Dell

Not the computers. Fuck the computers.

I’m talking about little valleys. You know the ones. The ones you dream into, covered in grass so soft you think you’re dead. With sparse trees for shade. Perfect for reading, or napping, or being. You know the ones.

‘Dell’ sounds so nice, and the thing that it denotes is also nice, and it sounds like what it denotes. What else can you ask for, in a word?

 

Songs

Appointments – Julien Baker

“Maybe the emptiness is just a lesson in canvasses.”

The day after this song broke me, I sent a message to a close friend.

Me: Mood – (link)

Friend: Oh, Liam. Are you okay?


So yeah, it’s one of those. But it’s one of those in such a clear and brave and unapologetic way that it sears. Every word of it cauterizes. And, wow, the part where she really starts belting is given so much weight by the restraint of the rest of the song. It’s masterful.

 

YOU&I – IU

This song is a shot of joyful energy. I once considered K-Pop’s capacity to condense a full day of sun into 3 minutes to be its best quality (‘once’ because when I heard Palette I realized that K-Pop can do anything and everything), and this song, of all that I’ve encountered, makes best use of that capacity. It helps me get out of bed on the mornings that I can’t do it myself.

 

Little Green Apples – O.C. Smith

And I look across at smilin’ lips / that warm my heart and see my mornin’ sun”

I encountered this song by chance, on my uncle’s favorite R&B station. Usually, that station bores me. Not because I don’t like R&B, but because I just don’t like their rotations. But the moment that Smith’s voice glided in, I shazamed the hell out of this one.

It’s simply lovely, and hopeful.

 

Stories

Binti: The Night Masquerade – Nnedi Okorafor

Binti: TNM

 

The gift of the name “people,” given to all living things. A refusal to romanticize violence. A paired refusal to bridle love with definitions. Characters “strong enough to push tradition to grow,” and to face growth, with all its costs, themselves.

This book found me just when I needed it. Which was yesterday. I read it all at once.

It’s certainly my favorite of the trilogy, but that may only be because I’ve now had the time to fall in love with Okorafor’s writing. It overwhelms the senses. It is both simple and beautiful, lain over stories that are refreshingly complex. And I’ve had time to fall in love with Binti, as, apparently, everyone does eventually.

 

“All the Time We’ve Left to Spend” – Alyssa Wong

robots_vs_fairies

 

Reading Alyssa Wong hurts. She hides knives in her prose. Her characters are sad and mean and real. Her stories fall down on you.

This one fell on me while I was in the middle of my own fucked up dance with memory. For the 48 hours after I read it (and, of course, I also read this one all at once), I carried it in me: heavy, cold, throwing off my balance. That feeling is common with her stories; it’s basically her brand. But even within her catalogue, this is something special.

 

The Only Harmless Great Thing – Brooke Bolander

The Only Harmless Great Thing RD3_quote4_pms2_pink

 

In the days since this book was released, there’s been a chorus of voices rising to match that of the story. Every voice is telling you to read this book. There’s really nothing I could add that hasn’t been said already, and better than I could say it.

Yeah, pretty much just go read it.

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