It turns out I had more Cursed Orb cartoons in me. Who would have guessed?

I spent this weekend at the Portland Book Festival, and arrived with the giddy sensation of coming home after a long time away. I only lived in Portland for a summer, but it’s close enough to Seattle to always have felt like a tangent of my existence; in high school, my friends and I would drive down for the weekend to stay with my uncle and aunt, and anyway, the whole Pacific Northwest feels of a piece to me: that’s what I’m missing, when I miss home, more so than one specific part of it.

The festival was also great—they scheduled a lot of short “pop up” readings in the Portland Art Museum (each writer paired with a specific piece of art, reading/talking about it briefly, and then taking questions) and while I was nervous about how these would go (would anyone come? should I have done more to prepare?) they turned out to be my favorite part of the event. Casual, intimate, particular, quick: you were in and out in 15 minutes, and you could easily run into another reading while wandering through the exhibits. Also, since many of the festival’s venues were in the museum, there were a lot of ambient attendees, so audience was not a problem.

Readings can be so fraught. You’re worried no one will come. (Sometimes they don’t!) You’re worried you’ll read badly, that people will be bored; then someone will tell you they wished you’d read longer and you’ll worry you didn’t read enough. There’s a lot of pressure to performatively satisfy, with material that isn’t by nature performative. Adding an element—another person to talk about the material with; a bit of music; or in this case, a work of art—makes the process feel much smoother and more natural, at least to me.

It’s fall here. It was fall in Portland too; more so, arguably. I was cold there, even in a jacket, even with a scarf, whereas when I came home I quickly changed into a t-shirt and sat outside. But the high is only about 65 in Tucson now, which means I am genuinely chilly in the mornings, and the wind is going wild with the sudden drop. When I was carving my jack-o-lantern, I discovered that a handful of the pumpkin seeds were sprouting, and one of those, after some nursing in a jar of water, is now in a small planter in my house. I realize this is a dumb way to grow a pumpkin, and that it probably will not work, but it’s too cold outside; nature has tricked me by appealing to my sense of nurture at the worst possible time.

On the plus side, the Democratic candidate, Kyrsten Sinema, ended up winning a Senate seat in Arizona after a long period of post-election ballot counting. I was actually gratified by how long the counting took, despite biting my nails down to the quick while I waited for results, because I am part of the…maybe 75%?…of voters here who vote by mail. I really feel like my vote was counted, and while that might be small potatoes, I’m happy about it, and happy with the results (frankly I would have been happy with the long, careful counting, either way). Democratic Senator, Democratic congresswoman, Democratic school superintendent. It took a while to get here, but I’m excited to see how these new representatives do.

Also in personal boasts, I went to the dentist yesterday and have no cavities and my pride level about this fact is Far Too High.