A Book About A Hobby

Fangirl, by Rainbow Rowell, was published in 2013.

I borrowed it from the Seattle Public Library.

The first sentence is: “There was a boy in her room.

Before Fangirl begins, there’s an excerpt from the Encyclowikia entry about the Simon Snow series. These are seven books by English author Gemma T. Leslie, published between 2001 and 2010.

The series tells the story of Simon Snow, an 11 year old orphan from Lancashire. Simon is recruited to attend the Watford School of Magicks, to become a magician. He joins a group of fellow magicians, called the Mages, to fight an evil being known as The Insidious Humdrum.

The eighth, and final, book, Simon Snow and the Eighth Dance, is scheduled to be released May 1, 2012.

It’s Fall semester, 2011. Cath and her twin sister, Wren, are starting college together. They’re both going to the same college, so Cath had assumed that they’d be dorm roommates. But at Wren’s request, they’re in different rooms, in different dorm buildings.Wren had pointed out that they’d shared a bedroom for the past eighteen years, and that college should be a time to begin new lives.

Cath is scared. She’s never lived on her own before. She’s never been away from Wren.

Their father helps Cath and Wren move into their dorms. He asks Cath why she and Wren are fighting. They’re not fighting, Cath insists – Wren just wants her independence.

Cath’s new roommate is named Reagan. She seems nice enough, even letting Cath choose her side of the room, in case she has Fen Shui issues. Reagan’s boyfriend is always around – so much so that Cath thought, for one horrifying moment, that she’d been assigned a coed dorm room. When the boyfriend isn’t around, Regan isn’t either.

Cath decorates her half of the room with her Simon Snow memorabilia.

Cath writes Simon Snow fanfiction. Her stories are popular on FanFixx.net, where she’s known as Magicath.

Cath and Reagan barely speak to each other. Levi, Regan’s boyfriend, keeps trying to talk to Cath. Regan keeps trying to be friends with Cath.

Cath tries her best to avoid parties, the cafeteria, and any form of socializing. Wren and her roommate, Courtney, keep trying to get Cath to have some fun.

Although she’s a freshman, Cath has managed to get into a 300-level Fiction Writing class. The class is taught by a published novelist. Nick, a classmate, tries to talk to Cath.

Cath is working on her largest story ever, Carry On, Simon. It’s becoming as long and complex as an actual Gemma T. Leslie novel. The parts she’s put up on FanFixx.net have made her an online superstar. In this story, Simon Snow is gay, and in love with his possibly-evil roommate Baz (Tyrannus Basilton Pitch).

Cath and Wren used to write Simon and Baz stories together, with “Magicath” handling the dialog, and “Wrenegade” handling the plot and mood. Now, Nick and Cath team up to work on a class assignment. They have to write a story together, with each person writing alternating paragraphs. Nick writes the first paragraph, in which a boy and a girl are in a parking lot. He’s dazzled by her blond hair. She pulls him in close, she smells like American Spirits, and she whispers something in his ear. Cath writes the next paragraph, which reveals that the girl is the boy’s sister, he’s caught her smoking in the parking lot, and she’s begging him to not tell Mom about either the cigarettes or the hair color. Also, he’s on his way to a date with a boy named Dave, and his name is Nick.

Cath and Nick’s story gets an enthusiastic A from Professor Piper. Nick and Cath agree to become regular writing partners, even when not required for an assignment.

Cath and Nick meet at the library every Tuesday night, and Levi always shows up to walk Cath safely back to her dorm.

Cath calls Wren to talk about “boy stuff”. Wren is at a party, and obviously drunk. She assumes Cath wants to talk about Simon and Baz, and mocks Cath’s whole obsession with Simon Snow. Cath is hurt. Wren had never made fun of Simon and Baz before.

Professor Piper loves Cath’s writing, until Cath turns in a Simon and Baz story. Professor Piper gives it an F, and lectures Cath after class about plagiarism. (But, Levi says to Cath later, it can’t be plagiarism if it’s Cath’s original story.) Rather than have Cath fail the course, Professor Piper holds her grade, and challenges Cath to write a real fiction story – one that doesn’t include Simon Snow.

Cath reads large sections of her fanfiction to Levi, and we, the readers, get to read along.

The problem with fanfiction is that it can never be anything more than a hobby. Fangirl examines that, and what it means to use someone else’s characters in your story.

There’s a fascinating conversation between Cath and Wren about ending Carry On, Simon the way Cath feels it should end, versus the way readers want it to end. This book is full of concepts.

Eventually, Cath begins opening up. She begins talking to people. But, she doesn’t have any actual friends. She never gets invited to parties, except by Reagan and Levi, who feel “more like sponsors than friends“.

Each chapter of Fangirl ends with either an excerpt from a Simon Snow novel by Gemma T. Leslie, or an excerpt from a Simon Snow story by Magicath and Wrenegade, or an excerpt from Carry On, Simon by Magicath.

On page 135, Levi mentions Harry Potter and Encyclopedia Brown. It threw me out of the story, and I didn’t like that. Until then, I’d been thinking of Simon Snow as an analog for Harry Potter, and that Fangirl was taking place in an alternate universe, of sorts – a universe where an orphaned boy who goes to a magic school is a wholly original story, and Gemma T. Leslie is the most beloved author of modern times. But page 135 tells me that Harry Potter exists alongside Simon Snow. So does that mean that either Gemma T. Leslie or J.K. Rowling have written a knock-off? If Encyclowikia¬†exists, does Wikipedia, too? (Oh, why couldn’t Rainbow Rowell have left Harry Potter out of it?)

There is a lot going on in Fangirl. There’s Cath’s changing relationship with Wren. There’s her relationship with Nick, and her triangle with Reagan and Levi. There’s a subplot about Cath and Wren’s mother, who left them, and now wants back in their lives. There’s their single father, trying to deal with it all. And, above all, there’s Cath’s hobby that she’s being forced to outgrow. Fangirl keeps it all together quite nicely.

My favorite part was the story Nick and Cath wrote together. It had me actually laughing out loud. I also liked the side story that told us that Cath and Wren’s mother didn’t know she was having twins (Is that really possible?) and they’d decided on the name Catherine if it was a girl. When the second baby arrived, she had to suddenly think of two names, which is how she came up with Cather and Wren.

I loved this book a lot. It was full of big ideas without being heavy. The characters were interesting, and the story was believable. It was beautifully written. I got to the last hundred pages, and couldn’t put it down – I wanted to know how Fangirl would end, how Simon Snow and the Eight Dance and the whole Simon Snow series would end, how Carry On, Simon would end, and what Cath would start for her first non-Snow story.

I just need to do is unsee the Harry Potter reference.

A Book Recommended By A Celebrity I Admire

This was a tough prompt. I wasn’t sure how to go about finding a book to fit it. A celebrity book club? A search for “this book is recommended by…”? Reading book jackets in a book store?

Actually, searching for celebrity book clubs might have worked. However, one evening I was watching YouTube videos at random, and the answer was given to me. I watched an episode of Adam Savage’s Tested, in which Adam Savage responds to a viewer question about his five favorite science fiction books by recommending eight books. (Adam Savage is a celebrity I admire for his dedication to science and knowledge. I was a huge fan of MythBusters when it was on the air, and I still enjoy watching those old episodes, as well as Adam Savage’s various YouTube projects.)

Re: Colonised Planet 5, Shikasta: Personal, Psychological, Historical Documents Relating to Visit by Johor (George Sherban), Emissary (Grade 9) 87th of the Period of the Last Days, by Doris Lessing, was first published in 1979. It is one of eight science fiction books recommended by Adam Savage, a celebrity I admire.

I borrowed it from the Seattle Public Library.

The first sentence is: “I have been sent on errands to our Colonies on many planets.

Re: Colonised Planet 5, Shikasta is presented as a collection of observations, studies, and reports. The documents tell the story from a non-human viewpoint. It’s unlike any book I’ve ever read. I’m not sure I “got” it all after this first reading. (That’s not a bad thing.)

The Canopus galactic empire, along with Sirius and Puttiora (an enemy of both Sirius and Canopus), has colonized a planet named Rohanda.

Humanoids on Rohanda thrive under Canopus’ benevolent protection and guidance. For thousands of years, Canopus has established a “lock” on the planet, and has sent a steady supply of SOWF (substance of we-feeling).

Rohanda’s ape-based inhabitants evolve into two species: the Giants and the Natives. The SOWF keeps Rohanda living in peace. It guides them to build perfectly geometric cities.

Then, something goes wrong, the supply of SOWF is cut off, the lock is broken, and Rohanda’s inhabitants succumb to a “Degenerative Disease”.

“Rohanda” is a word meaning “fruitful”. After the disease takes hold, the planet is renamed “Shikasta” (a word meaning “stricken”).

Johor is among several emissaries from the Canopus galactic empire sent to study Rohanda/Shikasta. He passes through six metaphysical “Zones” to get there. He disguises himself as a Native.

Johor’s first task is to inform the Giants that their purpose on Rohanda is over. It’s time for them to be moved to another planet. The Giants, unlike the Natives, are aware of their link to Canopus. The Giants instantly recognize Johor as an outsider. His disguise fools the Natives.

Johor’s next task is to teach the Natives the laws of Canopus – commandments for acceptable conduct. They knew them once, but the Disease makes them forget things. As the Natives repeat these laws to other Natives, details get confused. Canopus becomes, to them, an angry old man.

The documents contained in this book record the overall history of Shikasta.

World War I – to use Shikastan nomenclature (otherwise the First Intensive Phase of the Twentieth Century War) – began as a quarrel between the Northwest fringers over colonial spoils.

The time gap between the end of World War I and the beginning of World War II was twenty years. Here we must emphasise that most of the inhabitants of Shikasta were not aware that they were living through what would be seen as a hundred-years’ war, the century that would bring their planet to almost total destruction. We make a point of this, because it is nearly impossible for people with whole minds – those who have had the good fortune to live (and we must never forget that it is a question of our good fortune) within the full benefits of the substance-of-we-feeling – it is nearly impossible, we stress, to understand the mentation of Shikastans.

After World War II, Shikasta enters what scholars call “The Age of Ideology“. There are many wars all over the planet. The fighting expands to the Moon, and into space. The next world war starts “in error” and wipes out 99% of the population of Shikasta. The remaining SOWF is now enough to sustain the few survivors. “The inhabitants of Shikasta, restored to themselves, looked about, could not believe what they saw – and wondered why they had been mad.

That’s one quarter of Re: Colonised Planet 5, Shikasta. The remainder of the 365-page book contains the personal reports of the emissaries. These are stories of societies, of religions, and of individuals. Some read like short stories. These reports span tens of thousands of years.

As Johor studies the inhabitants of Shikasta over the eons, it changes him. He sees slavery, hunger, fighting, holocausts, and inequality. “A container that has held food is thrown away, but over vast areas of Shikasta it would be treasured and used by millions of humans.” He becomes sympathetic. His reports become tainted with emotion.

Johor travels through the Zones and becomes a Shikastan named George Sherban. George’s story is told through the journal of his younger sister, Rachel. George has a twin brother named Benjamin. (But they’re not true twins, writes Rachel). Their parents are Simon and Olga. They are Jewish. Their family name was originally Sherbansky. George’s grandparents fled Poland and moved to England during World War II. The Sherban family left England and moved all over Africa, finally settling in Morocco. The fact that George and Benjamin and Rachel look different from each other is explained as a mixture of genes.

George Sherban becomes a revolutionary during The Age of Ideology.

As Shikasta kills itself off in the era between World War II and World War III, the planet Shammat, of the Puttiora empire, sees an opportunity to take over.

Re: Colonised Planet 5, Shikasta is a complex book. It took me the whole three week loan to read it. I couldn’t read it for more than a few pages at a time, I’d set it aside, and then I couldn’t go without reading it for long. Just when I thought I was getting the gist of the story, it turned into something else entirely.

I’m really not sure what I read. I was lost at times. And yet I kept going. Was this science fiction, or was it something else?

This book is a puzzle, and I have nothing against puzzles. Maybe it will be clearer in the next two books in the trilogy. Maybe repeat readings will reveal clues.

I did enjoy this book.

Trains Keep Running

At 3:59 this afternoon, while I was still at work, I received a text message: “Link light rail service is temporarily interrupted due to a mechanical issue. Updates will be provided when information is available.”

I decided I was going to ride a bus home, when another text arrived at 4:03. “Link service is temporarily not serving the southbound platform at Columbia City Station. Use the northbound platform.” Another text arrived at 4:06. “Link light rail has resumed normal operation and service at all stations.” I decided I would ride Link home.

I left my desk and walked to Pioneer Square Station. I got to the platform just as a 2-car train was leaving. I always wait for a 3-car train anyway.

I took a seat on the bench at the back of the platform. I checked my phone. A text had come in at 4:28. “Link light rail service is temporarily interrupted due to a mechanical issue. Updates will be provided when information is available.”

As I was reading that message, a recorded voice and the LED sign said the same thing. “Link light rail service is temporarily interrupted due to a mechanical issue. Updates will be provided when information is available.”

I overheard a conversation between two women, somewhere near me. “I just heard the trains are having mechanical issues,” said one. The other said, “Well, I’m going to go find a bus somewhere. Good luck.”

I wanted to interrupt, and point out that Link is still running, and that it’s just delayed. But I didn’t. I wasn’t entirely sure which two women had been talking, and besides, it sounded like one had already left. And, besides, I didn’t know for sure that Link was still running. What if I had told them to wait for nothing? And, besides, hadn’t I also been thinking about choosing a bus earlier?

A few minutes later, a 3-car train arrived.

I’m home. There had been more text messages about the mechanical issue, and Link not serving the southbound platform, and Link has resumed normal operations, and back to experiencing a mechanical issue. The last one was an hour ago.

I continue to be impressed with how Sound Transit keeps Link moving.

My Home Town, Simulated

At work today, I listened to Squirrel’s YouTube play through of the Washington DLC for American Truck Simulator.

Squirrel is an Englishman who says he has never been to Washington. So, he should be forgiven for mispronouncing just about every city in the eastern part of the state.

Still, I kind of felt sorry for him as he based his first “visit” to my home state on this simulation.

I don’t mean to criticize the game. It’s a truck driving simulator, not a geography lesson. It contains the elements that are important to driving a truck: freeways, highways, and industrial areas. The rest is really just background scenery. That’s all it really needs.

Still, it was interesting to see my home town, simulated.

Because it’s just a game, it condenses areas between cities. In reality, it takes a minimum of three hours to drive from Portland, Oregon to Seattle, Washington. But who wants to play a computer game for three hours? Squirrel was able to drive a truck from Simulated Portland to Simulated Bellingham, with scenic detours, in two 40 minute videos.

Still, it was rather amusing to see Squirrel drive from Portland to Olympia in about 15 minutes. From Olympic to Tacoma was a five minute drive on the freeway. According to the game, nothing exists between Downtown Seattle and Everett’s city center. The University District, Northgate, Shoreline, Lynnwood, I-405 – none of these places exist in American Truck Simulator. Past Lake Union is a sign saying Everett City Center is half a mile away.

Also, Everett doesn’t have a downtown. It’s just a few shops, houses, and places to load and unload a truck.

But the game does an excellent job of getting the look of a city right.

Simulated Seattle
Passing under Simulated Freeway Park

I probably wouldn’t have guessed this next screen shot is Everett, but knowing that it’s supposed to be, it does kind of look like it.

Crossing Simulated Broadway in Simulated Everett

American Truck Simulator and Euro Truck Simulator are not games I think I would enjoy playing, but they are fun to listen to while I work, especially when Squirrel is playing them.

Two Books That Share The Same Title

One

Sugar, by Jewell Parker Rhodes, was published in 2013.

I downloaded it from the King County Library System.

The first sentence is: “Everybody likes sugar.

The narrator is a ten year old girl named Sugar. Everybody likes sugar, but Sugar hates, hates, hates sugar. She hates that Ma named her Sugar.

It’s winter, 1870. Slavery is technically over, but most folks are afraid to leave the plantations. “They say, ‘The bad I know is better than the bad I don’t.’” Ma worked on the River Road sugarcane plantation. When Sugar was two days old, Ma strapped her to her back and kept working. Now Sugar works in the cane fields. It cuts up her hands. It makes her back ache. Mister Wills sets up lamps so folks can cut cane all night long.

Sugar is hard,” said Ma.

Pa was sold soon after Sugar was born. Ma and Sugar waited for him to return. “Five years of freedom and Pa still didn’t come.

Then Ma got sick. Ma had to keep working, even when she came down with a fever. If she’d taken one sick day, Mister Wills would have docked her an entire season’s pay. Ma worked until she died.

Mister and Missus Beale, workers on the plantation, take over as Sugar’s surrogate parents. Sugar loves hearing Mister Beale’s stories, especially the one about Br’er Rabbit, Hyena, and the Tar Baby.

Sugar makes friends with Billy Wills, the owner’s son. Billy is just a little older than Sugar. At first, Sugar thinks Billy is stupid, like Hyena. Then she decides he’s smart, like Rabbit. Sugar decides she and Billy are both Rabbit.

Mister Wills has forbidden Billy to talk to the slaves. Mister Wills believes that his workers are still slaves, despite what President Lincoln said. He believes that God didn’t intend for the races to mix.

Missus Beale scolds Sugar for slacking off on her work. Sugar doesn’t tell her who she’s playing with.

Sugar and Billy Wills sneak off and play games together. They play pirates, with both of them playing Captain. “Pirates don’t follow rules.

Billy uses words that Sugar doesn’t know – words like “pillow”. (Why would anyone need a cushion for their head?) Billy tells Sugar a secret: His father has hired some Chinamen, and they’re on their way. Sugar has no idea what “Chinamen” means, but she knows that secrets always lead to trouble.

Sugar tells Mister and Missus Beale about the “Chinamen”, but won’t say who told her. Mister and Missus Beale know what it means, and they are scared. They know it means they will lose their jobs. They know it may be time to go north, but they’re too afraid to leave.

The Chinese laborers arrive in chains, despite the fact that slavery is illegal. They work alongside the “River Road folk”, but don’t mix with them. But Sugar wants to know them. She wants to know who they are. Missus Beale warns Sugar to stay away from them, but, of course, Sugar disobeys.

Sugar makes friends with a man named Bo. (Sugar calls him Beau.) He teaches her some Chinese, shows how to write the characters, and teaches her that it’s more polite to say “Chinese” than “Chinaman”. He tells her stories about dragons. Sugar brings the River Road folk and the Chinese together. They swap stories. They share food.

One day, out in the field, Sugar hears the teacher, Master Liu, say something to the other Chinese workers. She notices that they have started working slower. Sugar understands that the Chinese are not going to cause the River Road folk to lose their jobs.

Sugar, by Jewell Parker Rhodes, is a beautiful, wonderful, and, and the same time horrifying, story. It takes place in an interesting time in American history, just five years after the 13th Amendment was ratified. The country is changing, and parts of it are resisting the change. Slavery is over, but white supremacists remain.

The book doesn’t shy away from depictions of either slavery or post-slavery.

Sugar is a terrific protagonist. At ten years old, she has lived half her life as a slave. She has no power – she’s just a child, everyone tells her – but through kindness alone, she changes the world around her.

There are a lot of wonderful moments of symbolism in this book. I especially love this pair of scenes: Beau, the Chinese laborer, shows Sugar how to write her name in Chinese. Sugar thinks the character is beautiful. Later, Billy Wills, the boss’ son, shows Sugar how to write the letter S. Sugar thinks the letter is ugly. It reminds her of both a snake and a whip.

I absolutely loved this book.

Two

Sugar, by Lauren Dane, was published in 2018. It is a sequel to Cake, which I haven’t read.

I downloaded it from the King County Library System.

The first sentence is: “Gregori stared at Wren from his place in their bed.

Gregori Ivanov and Wren Davis are in love. They both consider themselves fortunate to have found each other.

Gregori had asked Wren to marry him twice in the past. Wren said no both times. Her career had been the issue.

Gregori is a successful artist. Wren is a struggling graphic novelist. She didn’t want people thinking she was relying on Gregori’s success to boost her own.

Now Wren’s career has “hit a certain point”. Gregori proposes to Wren, and Wren says yes.

Hoping she would say yes, Gregori had it all planned out. They will fly to New York City immediately, get a marriage license, and get married in the courthouse tomorrow. (Wren had told him she doesn’t want a ceremony.)

Gregori and Wren leave Seattle in a chartered jet. But a combination of mechanical problems and bad weather grounds them in Idaho Falls.

Gregori is upset that their wedding plans are ruined. He’s used to getting what he wants. He has a “Russian temper”. Wren has an idea: Why don’t they get married in Idaho, rent a car, and drive home to Seattle?

It takes a while to convince Gregori. It’s not what he’d planned. He’s never been on a road trip, and the idea doesn’t appeal to him. But he’s in love with Wren. They get married in Idaho Falls by a judge with a cowboy hat and a handlebar mustache.

The book becomes a road trip story.

It was easy to jump into this sequel without having read the first book. There are enough references to the earlier story that I could fill in most of the gaps. And, really, neither the story nor the characters are complicated enough to need much of a back story. Gregori is a bad-boy artist with a punk rock Mohawk hairdo that shocks the County Clerk in Idaho Falls. (Is that supposed to be him on the book cover?) Wren is a quirky happy-go-lucky woman who sees the best in every situation. They’re in love. Everything is perfect and wonderful.

Gregori and Wren have sex often, and talk about sex when they’re not doing it. It’s quite graphic.

This is a short book. I guess it’s a novella. There’s not a lot of conflict in it. Gregori and Wren have differences of opinion, but no major disagreements. Just enough things go wrong during the road trip to keep it quirky and interesting, but nothing terrible happens. It’s all perfect and wonderful.

I don’t know why the book is titled “Sugar”. Maybe it’s because of Gregori’s “sweet tooth”, but I suspect it was explained in the previous book.

Sugar, by Lauren Dane, is a fine little book. It’s not great literature, it’s not full of lofty ideas, but it doesn’t really set out to be anything other than a fun, pleasant story. There’s certainly nothing wrong with that.

I actually wish the book was longer, so we’d get more of the road trip.

I enjoyed this book. It wasn’t to my usual taste, but I liked it.

My Newest Musical Obsession

I’ve been aware of the Icelandic band Of Monsters and Men for a long time. I’ve enjoyed their music from time to time, but I didn’t know much about them. I don’t feel bad about completely missing their cameo in Game of Thrones.

Yesterday, a video of their performance of “Hunger” showed up in my suggested videos, and I couldn’t stop playing it.

This band has become my latest music obsession. Today, at work, I was playing every video I could find.

I love their big stage rock performances. I also love their stripped down small stage performances.

I love their folk-style performances.

I hear they have a new album coming next month. I’m excited! If their appearance on the Jimmy Fallon show is any indication, it sounds like they’ve added yet another musical style.

The Sims 4 Is A Weird Game, Part 4

I have discovered that when a Sims household consists of three teenagers, but no parents, the family pet takes on the task of enforcing curfew.

You’re a good kitty, Tiger.

Meanwhile, in another household, Cheryl McCray is working on Stage 3 of the Painting aspiration. One of the tasks is “View or admire 3 paintings in a museum”. This may be the easiest tasks of any aspiration. All you have to do is send your Sim to a museum, click on a painting, and select “View”. Then, repeat that with two other paintings. It can be completed in an afternoon (game time), and requires no special skills.

For Cheryl, things got a little more complicated. She’s a five star celebrity, and as soon as she walked into the museum, she was surrounded by fans and paparazzi. She couldn’t concentrate on a single painting. I had her pose for photos, sign autographs, and then I had to send her home, with the task not even started.

I had Cheryl put on a “celebrity disguise” – actually, just a pair of sunglasses and a baseball cap combined with her normal outfits. Then I sent her back to the museum. The public was completely fooled. She was able to view three painting without anyone recognizing her.

(Now I’m wondering what would happen if a Sim’s normal outfit always included sunglasses and a baseball cap. Would fans still be fooled?)

Next, I decided to try an experiment. I sent Chery home, had her remove her celebrity disguise, and then had her change into a full-body raccoon costume. I sent her back to the museum.

Cheryl was mobbed by fans and paparazzi, who instantly recognized her.

Sunglasses and a baseball cap fool the fans. A raccoon costume does not.

Not As Convenient, But Not The End Of The World

As I walked to Capitol Hill Station this morning, I noticed that the westbound 10 and 43 bus stop next to the Rite Aid at Broadway & John had officially closed. It’s relocated a block east, in front of Broadway Locksmith and the mystery soda machine. (It actually relocated yesterday, but I first noticed it today.)

That’s a less convenient location for me, but a better location for folks living east of Broadway. That location next to Rite Aid was rather awkward, actually. The sidewalk was too narrow for such a busy bus stop, which, I’m guessing, is why it was moved. So, it’s a good move.

Yesterday, I received a text message from my Chiropractor, whom I’m now seeing on an as-needed basis. He’s moved his office off of Capitol Hill and onto First Hill, close to the Baptist church. It’s not as convenient for me, but it’s not the end of the world. I’ll miss having a chiropractor right to Capitol Hill Station, but it’s now close to the 2, 12, and 60 buses, and the First Hill Streetcar. (Ah, city living!)

We had a team meeting at work today. Most of our team was in the office, but one team member was in a satellite location. Our supervisor, however, was telecommuting. So, it was a meeting conducted over the phone. I miss the old days when meetings were held in the office, with a few attendees phoning in. It was weird being in the office, but still phoning in. (As I type this, I’m seeing an image from Charlie’s Angels, with the Angels gathered around a speaker phone, meeting with Charlie. I guess it was kind of like that today.)

Three Sisters

When Erika Hasegawa was adopted as a teenager by Emile Chisholm and Ashton James, she chose to keep the name on her birth certificate.

Erika and her mom, Ashton

Kirsten Behr-Downing chose to take her mothers’ names when she was adopted as a teenager by Hope Downing and Yuki Behr. Her older brother, Mateo Behr-Downing, had made the same choice.

Mateo, Yuki, Hope, and Kirsten

Erika Hasegawa and Kirsten Behr-Downing married, and moved in with Erika’s parents. Erika converted the basement to a practice space for her Musician career, and Kirsten converted the upstairs bedroom to a recording space for her Social Media career.

After Emile and Ashton died, Erika and Kirsten remained in the Willow Creek house.

In their elder years, Erika Hasegawa and Kirsten Behr-Downing adopted a teenage daughter, who chose the name Gena Hasegawa-Behr.

Gena and her mothers, Erika and Kirsten

Gena has dyed hair, Active and Self-Assured traits, and an Athletic aspiration.

Gena Hasegawa-Behr

Kirsten Behr-Downing died, and is buried in Lawsen Cemetery, near her brother and her parents.

Lawsen Cemetery

Knowing she didn’t have many years left, Erika Hasegawa adopted another teenage girl, who chose the name Zoey Downing-Behr, so that Gena wouldn’t be alone.

Zoey has dyed hair, Active and Self-Assured traits, and an Athletic aspiration.

Zoey Downing-Behr

Erika converted Kirsten’s studio back into a bedroom for Zoey.

Gena and Zoey get along wonderfully together. They are best friends as well as sisters.

Erika Hasegawa died, leaving Gena and Zoey 450,000 simoleons and a scheduled maid service.

Shortly after Erika’s death, a girl arrived at the front door, claiming to be Zoey’s distant cousin. Gena and Zoey adopted her as a sister, and she chose the name April Chisolm-Behr. (She may, or may not, have misspelled the name. Emile Chisholm had a habit of using two different spellings of her last name.)

April has dyed hair, Active and Self-Assured traits, and an Athletic aspiration.

April Chisolm-Behr

Gena, Zoey, and April get along wonderfully together. They are best friends as well as sisters.

The three sisters have sold Emile’s musical equipment, and have converted the basement into an exercise room.

With no income, the sisters have dwindled their household funds down to 320,000 simoleons. Gena ages into a young adult in a few days, and plans to pursue an Althletic career. She won’t earn much, at first, but the girls will get by just fine.

Gena, Zoey, and April