books & reading, dementia & brain health, library & information science, personal & miscellany

Purple hearts

It’s June, which means the jacaranda are blooming, and San Diego is awash in purple flowers. And it’s the time of year when many in my field don some purple of their own in recognition of Alzheimer’s & Brain Awareness Month. I’ve never liked the use of the term “brain awareness,” because I think most of us have a perfectly adequate awareness of our own brains – what we need is more information about how to keep them healthy. So I prefer to think of this as Alzheimer’s & Brain Health Awareness Month (“AB-HAM” has a nice ring, no?), and hope to share some thoughts here throughout the month about brain health and dementia risk factors. But first: an update, since it’s been many weeks since my last post. The daily juggling of work, school, and life currently has my brain working at max capacity, and I’m surely grateful for that.

Work: My role as the Director of Education at Alzheimer’s San Diego continues to keep my heart and my calendar filled, and my gas tank empty. Over the past seven weeks (since my last update), I’ve delivered 14 community education programs, two professional trainings, and participated in several special events including speaking at the San Diego Union-Tribune’s CaregiverSD Expo, presenting at two estate planning workshops, moderating a panel of researchers on the genetics of Alzheimer’s disease, and advising a group of engineering students at UCSD working on healthcare robotics projects to benefit people living with dementia and their care partners (UM HOW FUN IS MY JOB). I also attended and presented at the Aging in America conference in New Orleans, facilitated an outing for people living with dementia at the San Diego History Center, and wrapped up my duties supervising a rockstar social work intern from SDSU who graduated with her MSW in May. I’ve just firmed up the calendar for our summer education programs, and the months ahead look no less chock-full or inspiring.

School: A couple of weeks back I wrapped up my spring semester at San Jose State University, and am now officially 30% of the way through the MLIS degree program! (That sounds good until you realize I’ve been in the program for a year and a half already …) I made the decision last year that as long as I’m working full-time, I’ll take just one 3-unit class at a time, to be able to really get the most out of the coursework and maintain some semblance of a personal life. So I’m going through the program slowly, but enjoying it deeply. This semester’s class was on Reference Information Services, and was definitely my favorite yet: learning how to understand and answer people’s questions, assist them in their research, help them find a good book to read, or connect them to programs for experiential learning. It got me very excited about the prospect of working in public libraries, so I’ve started weekly shifts helping out at our downtown Central Library. If you’re local, come see me on Monday mornings helping out in the sciences department! The summer semester begins tomorrow, and I’ll be taking a class on Health Literacy in Public Libraries, an elective course that I’m really excited about.

Life: Marc, Norma, running, reading, friends, and the occasional load of laundry happily fill the other spaces of my waking hours. Highlights from the past couple of months include a performance of Carmen at the San Diego Opera; a great lecture with the mind-blowing thinker and writer Cory Doctorow; the celebration of Passover; an antiques show; a visit to the Nixon Presidential Library; a day at the Midway Museum; watching a friend’s band play at Art Around Adams; some dinners, happy hours, and an afternoon tea with friends; and of course our favorite regular date-nights: Padres games at beautiful Petco Park. Per a previous post, I’ve been trying hard to get myself into the gym for strength training with more regularity, and have made it a few times this spring, but am a long way from having made a habit of it. I continue to run a few days a week, and am thinking hard about a fall marathon. But it’s not all go-go-go around here. I’m proud to report that I spent the 3-day Memorial Day weekend accomplishing literally nothing more than reading two books and watching the entire 8th season of Game of Thrones. I think I also showered a couple of times.

And as I’m now at the start of a new semester of library school, I’ll soon be cracking open the second book in the Harry Potter series, per my previously-described plan. My leisure reading has leaned more heavily toward non-fiction than usual over the past few months, so I’m definitely ready to bring a little magic back into my life. Here’s what I read in March, April and May ~


The Bullet Journal Method: Track the Past, Order the Present, Design the Future, Ryder Carroll (2018)

Why We Sleep: Unlocking the Power of Sleep and Dreams, Matthew Walker (2017)

Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind, Yuval Noah Harari (2014)

Commander in Cheat: How Golf Explains Trump, Rick Reilly (2019)

Shortest Way Home: One Mayor’s Challenge and a Model for America’s Future, Pete Buttigieg (2019)

Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community, Robert Putnam (2001)

North: Finding My Way While Running the Appalachian Trail, Scott & Jenny Jurek (2018)

White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism, Robin DiAngelo (2018)

Fiction: Adult

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, Mark Haddon (2004)

The Ocean at the End of the Lane, Neil Gaiman (2013)

Mary Ventura and the Ninth Kingdom, Sylvia Plath (posthumous 2019 publication)

Children of Blood and Bone, Tomi Adeyemi (2018)

Where’d You Go, Bernadette, Maria Semple (2012)

Fiction: Children and Young Adult

The Graveyard Book, Neil Gaiman (2008)

If you’re curious about any of these titles, or want to fill me in on what you’ve been reading, come find me on Goodreads!

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