0

Reading My Way Across America: Basketball Under the Big Sky

I haven’t been doing a ton of reading for fun lately, with grading, research, and dissertation-writing taking up most of my time, but I have managed to finish a few books this semester. In addition to being a stellar read, this book gave me a really interesting and fun idea. But I’ll get to that after this review.

Full Court Quest: The Girls from Fort Shaw Indian School, Basketball Champions of the World by Linda Peavy and Ursula Smith is an in-depth look at an extraordinary situation and group of people who have been almost lost to history and memory. Peavy and Smith navigate the reader through life at Fort Shaw, an Indian boarding school in Montana. Fort Shaw was among the institutions set up by the government in order to “civilize” Native Americans in a movement that was later regarded as a cultural failure. However, during the school’s heyday at the turn of the twentieth century, the new sport of basketball took hold in the heart of Josephine Langley, a Native American herself who had been educated on the East Coast. She brought the game back with her to Montana and added it to the physical education regime of the school. It was popular among the students, especially a group of girls who were exceptionally skilled at it, so much so that in the few years Fort Shaw fielded a team, against high schools and colleges from around Montana, the girls lost only once. In addition to playing basketball, they would also perform their own musical entertainment, read poetry, perform tableaus, and ballroom dance with local boys; all in one night. When word of this amazing team spread, they were sent to St. Louis in 1904, where they became part of the Native American exhibits along with Geronimo and others at the World’s Fair.

Along with all the other innovations of the World’s Fair, national and international athletic competitions emerged, reviving the Olympics. In that same spirit, the Fort Shaw girls supplemented their exhibition games at the Fair with a tournament against local high schools. Emerging undefeated against any team they faced, they were declared World Champions and presented with a silver trophy which they took back with them to their school. This level of interaction between Native Americans and white people was highly uncommon and actually revolutionary for the time, and it succeeded in changing many peoples’ preconceived notions about Indians. Even the mainstream media took notice, referring to the team initially with racially-motivated descriptions which got less and less stereotypical, until they were described in the newspapers just as any other team – evolving from “dusky maidens” to “Indians” to just “talented girl basketball players,” earning respect on small and large stages.

The book goes into detail about the early lives of the players, who came together from different tribes across Montana and Idaho to Fort Shaw, working together as sisters in sport. The initial five, assembled by Josephine Langley in 1903, were Belle Johnson, a Piegan; Emma Sansaver, a Chippewa-Cree; Minnie Burton, a Lower Shoshone; and Genie Butch and Nettie Wirth, both Assiniboine. Accompanying them to St. Louis in 1904 were their classmates Genevieve Healy, a Gros-Venture; Flora Lucero, a Chippewa; Rose LaRose, a Shoshone-Bannock; and Sarah Mitchell and Katie Snell, both Assiniboine. They ranged in age from 15 to 19 years old. Together, these ten were unmatched in ability among other girls their age and even girls older than them. At the Fair, they would play exciting, fast-paced exhibition scrimmages, five-on-five, to huge crowds, just like NBA superstars. After the Fair, they returned to Fort Shaw, and eventually parted ways as the school closed only six years later, in 1910.

What I loved about the book were the descriptions of the intense basketball games, and the girls’ relationships with one another and their own identities. Their journey across Montana through North Dakota and the Midwest to St. Louis, and their eye-opening experiences at the World’s Fair, were definitely the most interesting sections of the book. It was as if they were learning as much about the world as the world was learning about them. Even though we get some insight into the girls’ personalities, the first half of the book gets bogged down in details of the girls’ early lives, pre-Fort Shaw, as well as the lives of the superintendent and creator of the school, who was not Native American. When they start talking about the games, the book really picks up, and despite being non-fiction, keeps an exciting narrative all the way through the girls’ return to Fort Shaw from St. Louis.

What happened to the girls afterwards, though, was mostly disheartening with a few bright spots. Although one of them Nettie Wirth, was honored at the World’s Fair in 1962, and another, Genevieve Healy, lived until the age of 93, dying in 1981 as the last survivor of the team, most of them died in their thirties-fifties, including one under “questionable circumstances” and one who was unable to be tracked down entirely. Even sadder was the life of Minnie Burton, one of the team’s superstars (known for her shooting skills, so much so that spectators would chant “shoot, Minnie, shoot!”), who, although she did live to see many children and grandchildren, never spoke of her experience (imagine their surprise when they found out their grandmother was the LeBron James of the early twentieth century!) Fortunately for us, though, and for the authors, who found out about the girls from a team photo in a Montana archive, Emma Sansaver kept a journal and boxes of memories, which she passed down to her children and grandchildren, keeping the story from fading away into history. The authors did a mind-boggling amount of research for this book, contacting descendants of all ten of the players and people who knew them, ensuring that their legacy would live on.

Overall, I learned a ton about one of American history’s most unlikely and underrated footnotes, from a place I’ve neither been to nor even heard of. What these girls from the middle of nowhere did was groundbreaking, and even though all that’s left of Fort Shaw is an arch and a monument of a basketball – not even a museum – I’d still like to go visit it someday.

The idea that this sparked? Well, I had heard of this book and had it on my list for a little while, and ended up finding it in the Historical Society Library, where books are catalogued by country, region, and state. Finding it in the Montana section led me to want to read more from that section, and the Historical Society Library as a whole, with hopes to find more unusual but fascinating historical footnotes. I’m not sure how long I can keep up with this, but I’m going to try to find one historical hidden gem from each state. Now that Montana’s down, I’ve got 49 states to go, and rather than go in a specific order, I’ll ask Siri to give me a number between 1 and 50, and pick states that way.

As I typed that, I did that, and it gave me 7 – so Maryland, my home state, I guess I’ll be in your section tomorrow afternoon.

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6

I Think…No, I Know I Have A Problem

Well, so many.

Including never managing to post here at a reasonable hour of the day and resorting to between 11-12, never updating my iPhone/computer OS, and sticking to a good diet.

This post, however, is about my reading and book-acquiring habits.

I, That’s So Jacob, fully admit to being a reading addict and a book hoarder.

Allow me to explain.

First, reading addict. Some people say “oh, I read anything,” but I’ll literally read anything. No genre or era is safe; if it’s in a language I can read, I’ll read it. Sometimes I won’t even take the book out of the store, I’ll read the whole thing, then buy it. My reading addiction got me almost accidentally left behind on a family trip to Canada.

Furthermore, once I start a book, I can’t abandon it. Even if it’s a thousand pages, or completely boring, if I’ve gotten more than a page or two into the book, I have to finish it. Some rare cases have included books when I’ve accidentally skipped a chapter/section and not realized it (then I know there’s something wrong with the book…or me), and A Commonwealth of Thieves. It took me a week to read 10 pages without falling asleep mid-sentence. According to my calculations, had I continued reading, it would have taken me about a whole year to read it, upon which point I never looked at the book again. And then again, there was the mistake of picking up Ulysses in high school and feeling like a failure because I had no clue what to make of it, and couldn’t get the first chapter or so.

The last few books I’ve read have been, well…not so great. But not enough to abandon. I have no shame in saying their titles, if only to remind me not to do that again; with so many books and so little time, I need to find out what happens at the ends of the good ones. First, Pigeon English by Stephen Kelman. The back cover blurb sounded interesting, but the Ghanaian-British slang made it very confusing as well as the lack of a clear plot. Next came Andorra by Peter Cameron, a book which has nothing to do with the actual nation of Andorra, as it takes place in a coastal Mediterranean town. It also features two characters with the same first and last name (a husband and wife), and too many characters referred to by their common last names. The ending took me by surprise, but it was predictable and honestly at that point I didn’t care anymore. Finally, Red Dust by Ma Jian – a book that has been on my list for years – wound up being as dry as…red dust. After that string of mindless page-skimming, it’s clear that I need to read books I actually care about.

My second confession is to being a book hoarder. I’ve gotten a little better at it actually, I must say; while I still hoard plays/theatre texts (they’re for RESEARCH!) I’ve started to part with some of the books I’ve had around for awhile, and I’m down to a five-shelf bookshelf, two shelves in the bathroom, and two drawers full of mysteries and trade-sized paperbacks. It’s definitely not as bad as it was in Houston. But lately, the book-acquiring bug bit me again. I saw that someone on PaperBackSwap was wishing for a copy of a book in a mystery series that was the next one in series order from where I had left the series, so I actually bought a copy on Amazon mostly for the sole purpose of offering it on PBS (but reading it first, of course).

I also don’t seem to understand the concept of “rewarding myself,” since today I did so preemptively – I promised myself I would work on research for a few hours (which I did end up doing!), in exchange for a trip to a used bookstore where I promptly bought 7 books I likely didn’t need and already have one packaged to send out to a PBS user tomorrow.

Not saying that this addiction is a bad problem, or an expensive one, just one that I can’t seem to break. Will I ever not have the need to read?

13

What I Read in 2016

You’ve been forewarned – even though this is my first post of 2017, it will most likely be on the boring side.

So how are you? I’m doing fine, kind of FOMO right now, since I’m always in the wrong city, state, or country, as the occasion merits. This week in Madison, I’m missing Salsa Saturday, a number of dance classes, as well as a few get-togethers, and for New Year’s Eve, I was sitting at home with my parents rather than at a party in Madison or doing the midnight toast song with brothers who stayed in Pittsburgh. I am, however, enjoying just taking it easy for once after a stressful December (well, more like a stressful November, but a return-to-human December, as well as other household and teaching-related tasks that piled up on me) and trying to recoup and regroup for the coming year. I’m scheduled to fly back to Madison on Sunday, via Atlanta. Hopefully 2017 will be a zen time for me, to make up for the craziness of 2016 – not all bad, but just intense. Part of me is enjoying being lazy (I’ve either slept late or taken an afternoon nap every day this year/week), but another part of me really just wants to get back to Madison and figure out the rest of my life.

Anyway.

2016 was a relatively good year in terms of reading. According to Goodreads, I read 46 books totaling 13,716 pages. My shortest read was 129 pages and my longest was 560. My favorite books of the year were HushThe Phantom Limbs of the Rollow Sisters, and What Was Lost. From my Giant Reading List (approximately 248 fiction and 195 nonfiction/theatre), I read HushA Breath of Fresh AirLife is Not a Fairy TaleSpider Web, and We Are On Our Own. The most interesting stat? I read exactly double the number of books I read in 2015, and slightly more than double the pages, so that’s something.

Right now, I should go and finish a book that I’m about halfway through but want to get rid of tomorrow.

5

A Surprisingly Telling Reading Quiz

Poking around the blogosphere recently, I came across this post by Marina Sofia, AKA Finding Time To Write (ain’t that the truth) and ever since, I’ve thought about taking the quiz like she did.

So here goes.

Do you have a certain place at home for reading?

Bed. Bed is always good. But when the weather’s right, outdoors is great, just about anywhere. The sixth floor patio works fine.

Bookmark or a random piece of paper?

I have three handmade laminated bookmarks made by my friend June from Australia, and several magnetic bookmarks sent to me from Greece. I think I’d be devastated if I lost any of them.

Can you stop reading any time, or do you have to stop in a certain place?

Anytime, really. I like to at least make it to the end of a chapter, but sometimes I don’t have the time.

Do you eat or drink while reading?

Sometimes. I’ve been known to bring books to restaurants when dining alone, and of course, chocolate-covered pretzels, bridge mix, or popcorn are always winners.

Can you read while listening to music/watching TV?

Okay, so here’s the weird answer. Yes and no. I like listening to music and reading, but I’m not the best at doing those things at the same time. I find myself sometimes waiting for commercials, or breaks between songs. To drown out noise, yes to music. But normally, I can focus better in silence.

One book at a time or several at once?

Never just one! Usually a fiction/non-fiction, or a theatre/non-theatre, or a theory/fun book.

Reading out loud or silently in your head?

Umm…out loud in my head? My dad tends to read aloud and it scares me when he just starts blurting stuff out.

Do you read ahead and skip pages?

Generally, no. I did hear of a friend once who always read the ends of mysteries, then the beginning, to see if she could pick up on the clues and figure out the crime like the detective.

 

Break the spine or keep it new?

Keep it new for as long as I can.

 

Do you write in books?

Never!

5

Twenty Questions for That’s So Jacob

One of the most curious places on the Internet is Yahoo! Answers. Even though Yahoo! has been on a decline since the 1990s, but for some reason, Yahoo! Answers is still there. And people are still asking questions, every day, big and small. I haven’t yet asked any, but I’ve answered a few.

But tonight, I’ve decided to answer a few more.

I’m going to go on the site, answer the first twenty questions that come up, to the best of my ability, and post the responses here.

1. Michael asks:

Hi, I ordered a skateboard deck from amazon and the trackijg info on amazon shows the seller shipped the packaged today and the provided a tracking number. Below the tracking number in the status section it says 
We’re sorry. “We are unable to retrieve more tracking details for this shipment.” So I took the tracking number provided and checked all of the shipping companies and none recognized the tracking number. The company that’s listed on amazon as being used for shipping is FedEx SmartPost. I even called FedEx and they said they can’t see any package in their system. Why is my tracking number not recognized by FedEx tracking system and why doesn’t amazon have any info on its whereabouts?

Dear Michael,

Some things in life are meant to be mysteries.

All kidding aside though, sometimes it takes a day or two for the number to come up in the system. Other times, I’ve received things I’ve ordered online with that same message, and they’ve just shown up anyway.

2. Kayla asks:

I recently bought biotin at target because I heard it helped hair and nail growth. But then I further researched before taking the pills and I heard that it makes you break out in pimples. Are these true?

Dear Kayla,

I have no idea. I would probably rather rely on nature if I had a problem like that.

3. Alysha asks:

I have a membership card for Hot Topic that gives me points when I buy stuff or even visit a store. I was wondering if there are other stores with the same kind of cards? And if there, can anyone tell me? 

This is not a credit card by the way. It just gives me points so I can get discounts later or access to member events. I do not want credit cards or anything like that lol. Just ones that I get points for and get discounts later.

Dear Alysha,

Absolutely! So many stores have membership or rewards cards program. Starbucks has a membership rewards program as well, where you can download an app to get free drinks. Check your local supermarket to see if they have a club. Look at your favorite stores’ websites for more information.

4. Stephanie asks:

Like, I don’t get the difference between foundation and concealer. Okay, maybe. Foundation I think makes like the skin glow and give a pretty skin color look? And concealer might like cover acne and stuff? I don’t know!! I also don’t get like how people put it on. Makeup, I mean, basically. Like their routine, pretty much. I just put on makeup twice or once a week. I get foundation, smear it on and put on masara, a bit of eyeshadow and face powder. I don’t even know if I even do it right or not. Can someone just tell me how you put various products on, before or after another product? Makeup routines? The right way to put makeup on? Thanks!

Dear Stephanie,

One word: YouTube. Search for “makeup tutorials.” Cheaper than a fashion magazine!

5. James asks:

I feel betrayed and I don’t know what to do. This all happened a few days ago and ever since that day, I became very antisocial and did activities by myself. This is not how I wanted my summer to start -.-

Dear James,

Sounds like rough stuff. If my friends betrayed me, I’d ask myself…did I really want to be friends with them in the first place?

6. Jill asks:

I’ve read many times that regular makeup (oil based and creme makeups like Cover Girl and all those popular commercial brands) will not stick to silicone surfaces and look discolored, I understand that only silicone sticks to silicone. I learned that the best way to color silicone is alcohol-based makeup palettes, however, if silicone sticks to itself than would using silicone based makeup work? Like the Temptu brand or any other brands that use silicone in their foundations? It makes sense to me but I can’t find any information anywhere that it would work. If anyone does know, would this last over silicone all day and keep it’s color? Thanks very much.

Dear Jill,

I’d definitely say a silicone based makeup. Also, I think many spray products (spray tan, etc) use silicone.

7. Kiiashi asks:

My daughter is 6 months old and has been cutting her teeth in recently. Two are fully cut now and she’s cutting 2 more. Is she too young for me to brush her teeth now that she’s getting some in or do they need to be a certain age first?

Dear Kiiashi,

I was at Target recently and saw that in the baby care section, they have training toothbrushes that are small and soft. You could probably look at the age range on the back of them. Also, if she is not eating solid food, I guess that she’s not at risk of staining them with anything. Best of luck with your dental hygiene quest!

8. Naz asks:

Made a hair mask from Coconut oil, 1 egg, and vanilla/banana yogurt. 
Can I leave it in my hair overnight? 
Don’t normally use yogurt.

Dear Naz,

Put a shower cap on it, and in the morning you can pour it in a bowl for breakfast!

9: Holland asks:

Dorothea 

Theodora 

Ilithiya / Eilithia (pronounced, ill-ith-ee-ah & is a real greek girls name) my personal favorite 🙂 

I know Ilithiya is difficult to spell and pronounce but keep in mind we WILL be calling her Thea.

Dear Holland,

All those names are very nice! But remember, she’ll have to use that name on her college applications, credit cards, and when calling US Airways to book tickets to see her grandparents in Athens. I love the name Eleutheria, it’s Greek for “freedom” and she could be called Thea. There’s also Althea, Mathea, or even Cynthia. Whatever name you choose, she’ll still be your adorable daughter.

10. Kevin asks:

Where to get locator chip installed in my child?

Dear Kevin,

North Korea?

11. Colleen asks:

Do i need a work permit in the summer?!?! Im looking for a job (any job suggestions will be fantastic as well. Im a 15 year old girl in georgia)

Dear Colleen,

I had a summer job as a 15-year-old in Maryland. I got a work permit through a woman who was a secretary at my junior high school, who was also a notary. Popular jobs for teenagers include lifeguarding, babysitting, lawn mowing, deck washing, or tutoring kids. Good luck!

12. Lisa asks:

‘She have aids so I didn’t ask her out’ does this sentence make sense? Or should it be she got aids…?

Dear Lisa,

In this case, it’s past tense. “She had AIDS, so I didn’t ask her out.”

13. Sonja asks:

Favorite book?

Dear Sonja,

All of them.

14. Niamh asks:

It’s sunday morning and i have done an all nighter, will this effect my sleeping pattern as i have school tomorrow (monday) and i have to get up at 6;00, please help me out, if you have any tips on what i should do, please dont hesitate to give me advice.

Dear Niamh,

Sleep is important for restoring the body and aiding mental strength. Be careful and try to avoid too much sugar/caffeine lest you “crash” later.

15. Jacob asks:

I don’t really know what it’s called or how to fix it but if I do something stupid and embarrassing like everyone does eventually I will literally obsess over it for days and it drives me crazy…. any idea how to fix this

Dear Jacob,

First of all, awesome name. Second of all, you might have a type of OCD. I’m not a doctor, but remember…people won’t remember the things you did but how you made them feel.

16. Newty asks:

My friend is having problems reading and listen, some time he loose his consciousness for a seconds and comes back to normal. Is this something to do with neuroscience. What diagnosis should i suggest to him. He says that he has to read at least 3-4 times to understand the contents and he doesn’t like reading more lines as he get distracted soon. Also he finds himself distract when somebody is talking to him he misses out many points that were told to him.

Dear Newty,

I’d suggest focusing. No TV, no music, no interesting things in the room or on the walls or out the window. Maya Angelou used to write in a hotel room and request all the paintings be taken off the walls.

17. Jasmine asks:

I absolutely love people and wish I could easily talk to people. I’m 14 years old and had such bad social anxiety I had to be put into homeschool in 7th grade because I was fainting from anxiety attacks everytime I stepped within 60 feet of someone. I still am in homeschool and it’s just depressing to me that I don’t get to have the same experiences with friends and relationships as other teenagers. I’ve talked to people i’ve known since elementary school online and they say things like “we should catch up” and I say “yeah sure” and never get back to them. I’ve even canceled dates. It’s mostly because I feel weird looking and just well, weird in general. I don’t share much interest in things that other people do. I’m short (only 5’2), i’m curvy (not fat I have a flat stomach but a big butt and thighs), I have a weird face shape, I don’t dress very fancy just a tshirt and skinny jeans, I can’t even have small talk or be looked at without choking. It’s just horrible. Is there any advice anyone could give me to try to tackle this whatsoever?

Dear Jasmine,

I’m so sorry you’re suffering. I have had depression and social anxiety all my life, and I’ve tried a lot of things, and honestly, it’s different for every person. For me, it’s been finding out who I am, what I’m good at, and what I like/dislike; a strong sense of self is important, and in learning about yourself you might learn about others. I have good and bad days, but my best days are ones when I go out and do activities I like. Maybe joining a youth group or Girl Scouts would help you meet new friends your own age; don’t rely on the Internet. It’s summer, and I’m sure there are plenty of activities around you…look into taking a class in dance, acting, or public speaking, or audition for a local community theatre production. As far as inside of you, taking meds is not a shameful thing; seeing a psychiatrist might be beneficial. If none of these things feel possible for you yet, just do something small and creative, like a silly YouTube video or a funny blog; I have one. Good luck with things and remember you’re not alone.

18. Olivia asks:

I’m 14 turning 15 in a few months. I am really interested in modeling and acting. I have been for a few years. I have also started running to lose weight and working out. I have blonde medium length curly hair and blue eyes.
I’m about 5.5″ (that was a few months ago) and I’m close to Toronto Area.
I just need advice on how I could “break in” to the world persay. Also, both my parents work so they would not be able to stay on set or a shoot. Would this mean I would have to wait until I am of legal age to model/act? Is there any chance for me if I don’t have community theatre in my town (and the closest one is Musical which I strongly dislike)? And how could I model for companies like Garage, Walmart, etc? How would I find a legit agency? And would I have to pay them money or is it a scam?
Thanks to everyone who takes the time to answer!

Dear Olivia,

First of all, be VERY careful. Have a parent or older relative (aunt/uncle/sister/brother) with you, you never know who wants what.

Second of all, I think a lot modeling/acting “schools” are scams. Self-promotion is so easy in this day and age. Make a website and a resume, and a passport photo place could take a very nice and inexpensive photo; many high fashion models do their first series of headshots au naturel/very little makeup, looking straight at the camera expressionless. A white top makes it extra elegant. Camera phones have also evolved to take great pictures.

Third, I am sure you could act locally with your parents’ permission and possibly a waiver.

Fourth, if you live near a college/university, contact their theatre department; students are always looking for readers/actors.

19. Christina asks:

So I’m visiting my long distance boyfriend soon and I’m staying with him at his parnents house. (Both 18 by the way) anyways I got a blank thank you card with a gift card to his parent’s favorite resturant. How do I express my thankfulness to them? I’m not good at putting words that I express together. Thank you!

Dear Christina,

How about: Dear Mr and Mrs Jones:
Thank you so much for your hospitality. Please accept this gift as a token of appreciation for opening your home and your heart to me.
Yours truly,
Christina

20. D asks:

I’ve been getting a lot of social and mental problems lately and I feel I need to see a psychologist about it. I’m not wanting to meet one in person, I just want to be able to email one and ask for help in that way. Does anyone know any good psychologist sites and ones where I can email? Thanks 🙂

Dear D,

http://www.psychologytoday.com connected me to someone who really helped me a lot. Good luck!

You got questions?

I got answers.

Ask me.

3

It’s Gonna Be…Read Like Crazy Month!

Today is April 30, and you know what that means?

Yes, that, and also, all seven million (read: maybe seventy or so) of my books will be due at the library, with only a few of them renewable.

So…in honor of the mountains of books in every room of my apartment, 1990s boy bands, and tomorrow being the first of May, I am declaring this next month as Read Like Crazy month. Expect book reviews, Flip The Script, and hopefully book-a-licious posts over the next thirty-one days. Also, if you post a particularly book-tastic review on your blog, I will do something I don’t normally do, give your a link/reblog/trackback (if I can figure out how to do those things).

Also, That’s So Jacob gives a warm and sunny bienvenue to its first visitor from French Polynesia, and since I may have overlooked them, also several hits from Zambia, so big welcome to you as well.

0

The Differences Between Reading and Writing

Read, write, read, write, read, write.

This has basically been the last few days of my life.

What I’ve learned though, and want to share with you now, are the differences between reading and writing.

Reading requires way more of my attention. It is best done in the study, with no cell phone or timekeeping device around. Sitting in the upright position is best. Food and drink yes, a lovely view of course, and the more I can feel like I’m in my own private Idaho – I mean, library. The biggest thing: no music. I know, music makes everything better, but if you try reading in a quiet place where you can follow your internal monologue and even moderate a debate with yourself, uninterrupted by noise other than those of life.

Writing, on the other hand (at least for me)…bring on the noise, bring on the funk. Growing up with a TV-addicted sister who “couldn’t focus without the white noise” basically led me with the choice to either tune things out and write or get bad grades. Somehow, I ended up doing both. When I’m really in my head, I can pound out the paragraphs while completely blocking out the sound. Sometimes the music even helps me write. When I have the TV on, I often end up tuning out the show to write and then being jolted back to reality by the loud commercials, going back to writing once the program comes back on. Now, I’ve learned to mute the commercials, but sometimes they still catch my eye. And on the plus side of this skill, I can write virtually anywhere. I’ve written on planes, trains, and buses. Once, I even wrote the majority of a grad school paper in a crowded Starbucks in Manhattan.

Both reading and writing are a challenge in the face of a game, tasty treats, checking my blog stats (hi, Ecuador, Uruguay, Nicaragua, Panama, Mozambique, and Tanzania!) or even, sometimes, cleaning.

And as always, anxiety.