books on death, chats on life & casts on fire
if you want the super-quick version: i am good, ash is good, spring is here, life feels manageable and hopeful, i’m even goddam hopeful for my home country with bated breath and crossed fingers, lenny henry’s podcast was a huge success, next week’s podcast is Dr BJ miller and me talking about death (it’s SO GOOD), i did a very long and joyfully silly patron webcast yesterday if you wanna watch the replay….and i love you.
oh wait also…if you want a long weekend read and you missed it, i cranked out out a 6,000-word essay the other day to introduce jack and gaby’s final patron-funded tour reportage piece. read it here.
greetings from a sunny saturday morning here in hawke’s bay.spring is exploding and the air and streets heat up. we are walking around outside barefoot almost all day.
i’m sort of choking on gratitude lately.
for being here, for being patron-funded….for managing to keep my shit together after everything that’s happened in the last six months. i feel like i’ve been put through a fucking human washing machine. but something must be watching out for me, because despite all the heartbreak of my life and the situation, i am alive and whole and here in aotearoa new zealand where these is almost no covid, and where my child can play free of worry and masks and anxiety. i am learning so much about what i have always taken for granted. i assume we all are.
so despite the fact that there are injustices galore, and pains beyond describing within my heart, i feel happy and steady inside. i survived winter.
we spent the past two nights at the hasting fringe festival….i took ash to see little low-budget plays, climbing on 0public sculptures in the park, seeing musicians playing songs, and feeling my heart hurt for how special and rare i know it is, but how normal it feels.
what a strange, strange cocktail of art-hurt it is.
i’ve been posting a lot of little videos and photos up on instargram so as not to bombard you with constant posts….head over there if you want to see the constant flooding reminder that life here is pretty much….normal. no masks. no social distancing. and in total, this country of five million has only had 25 deaths from covid. twenty. five.
cross-posting this from IG, because this one is so sweet and i want to add links….here is a little wander into our book-bed this morning…
SO…a few months (weeks? what is time anyway ahhh) ago, when ash experienced his first death, a bunch of you recommenced good children’s books about death, and i wanted to thank you.
this morning for whatever reason ash wanted to focus on the death books. so we are reading “the funeral” by matt james – which arrived yesterday – and ash’s all all all time favorite: “all the dear little animals”, which is an incredible story by ulf nilsson translated from the swedish by the wonderful local gecko press, who specializes in finding great non-english kids books and getting them into young eyes and brains.
we are on, i think, our 20th reading of “all the dear little animals”, which is about a group of little country kids who are bored one day and decide to start a burial business for all dead animals. it’s so dark and funny and beautiful and sad and true, and watching ash’s obsession with it after dealing with death is a stark reminder that kids crave stories in order to make sense of life. and death. and feelings. and everything.
goddammit i love books.
i’ve been wanted to do more posts about ash, reading with kids, book suggestions and recommendations…..but it always falls to the bottom of a long list. maybe this month i’ll finally get to it.
today we are heading to a birthday party today, ash’s school friend elijah is turning four. we bought him three books, and ash picked them out himself at wardini’s bookstore: “mighty min”, “poo bum” (also by gecko press) and “the tiger who came to tea”.
neil also has a new kids book out this week called “pirate stew”. he and ash had a delightful time this morning reading it over zoom. it’s about pirate babysitters. illustrated by the great chris riddell.
i’m wide open to more ideas about death books for kids.
ash is eating them up, and also, he’s getting so obsessed with star wars and guns that i’m pulling back on the men-shooting-at-men shit and trying to balance out his diet of space and guns with earth and shovel.
help a mother out, yo.
coincidentally, on the topic of DEATH and FUN…this next weeks podcast guest, Dr. BJ miller, is a palliative care doctor and an expert on death and dying. it was such a good talk…do subscribe if you ain’t yet and get ready to tune in, you’ll be getting a huge-ass post like usual. the patron-only follow up chat with him will be 7pm this wednesday (not thursday!!!!!) nyc time, you’ll get the link soon, but hold the time.
and…if you wanna do yourself a favor before listening to the podcast, check out is life-changing TED talk about death, “what really matters at the end of life”.
i was there in the room when he delivered it: i cried. i think i actually wept. it was so…true:
speaking of things to WATCH….I’M BACK on casting, BITCHES.
i held a patron-only webcast yesterday that was ostensibly the follow-up to lenny henry’s podcast, but mostly became a human surreal chat-fest that included the whole group helping me come up with new alternate covid-and-black-lives-matter-related lyrics to “american pie”. an entire concept project was born. watch out. there will be posts. i promise. if you were there, you know what i mean.
SO….if you want a really warm laugh and a cast, and a clue about how fucking fun and human these casts can be. go watch the replay, it’s open to the public:
truly? it was nice to take off my adult-interviewing hat and just be sloppy as fuck amanda, making coffee in the kitchen and forgetting my charger and crying over my ukulele like the weirdo i am when i’m not trying to sound intelligent. next week on the BJ cast, you’ll get intelligent amanda back, i promise.
i have to apologize to everyone on the webchat, i think i lied to you.
i thought it was a jacaranda tree….
but then someone told me it was a paulownia tree.
now i don’t know what to believe.
you know what?
it is a blossoming tree. that is truth.
it is a fucking purple tree. that’s not even true.
were i colorblind, it would be a black and white tree.
you know what
i don’t know anything anymore, and that is fucking fine.
xx love from the kitchen on the way to the birthday party xx
——THE NEVER-ENDING AS ALWAYS———
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