Reading lately

21 Jun

It has been quite some time since I last posted. Shaking out the cobwebs with a list of what I’ve been reading.

I use Goodreads (follow me!) to track my reading, and for 2014 set myself a challenge of 52 books, or 1 book per week. I am apparently crushing it: even if I take out the 4 comic trade paperbacks I’ve read this year, I’m still 8 books ahead of schedule. I am a reading machine these days.

Cover of AmericanahChimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Americanah is at the top of this year’s list for me. It was hard to put down. Her book follows Ifemelu, a Nigerian immigrant in the States, through her early years growing up in Nigeria, her move to the US for college, and her decision to return and what that might mean for her relationship with her high school boyfriend, Obinze. Ifemelu becomes a well-known blogger during her time in the US, writing about race in this country from the perspective of a non-American black person. All her other books are going on my list after reading this one (which was just optioned by Lupita Nyong’o!)

 

Into Thin Air cover

Into Thin Air was terrifying. Seriously, I had nightmares of being lost in a blizzard every night while reading this. That explains why I read it so quickly: I’m not a fan of blizzards. It’s disaster porn, that’s for sure: a trainwreck I couldn’t look away from and wanted to know as much as possible about. The initial read was engrossing, as was falling down the internet rabbit hole tracking the controversy that stemmed from the original release of this book. This book makes me want to read more of Krakauer’s work, even though he writes about mostly horrible things happening.

 

Cover of The Book of Lost ThingsI’m just going to come out and say it: I was uncomfortable with how women are treated in John Connolly’s The Book of Lost Things. It had been on my to-read list for years, and when I finally picked it up, I was disappointed. The main character is fine, but in my opinion it takes too long for the story (the young protagonist’s trip into another world while in his world, 1940s England, bombs fall around him) to really get going and when it does, he meets only treacherous women on his journey. Seriously, not a single woman in this story has a single redeeming quality.

 

Other standalone books (more on series later) I’ve read this year: Meg Wolitzer’s The Interestings (Interesting!), Piper Kerman’s Orange is the New Black (Educational!), James Joyce’s The Dead (ok, this one’s a novella), Nancy Jo Sales’s The Bling Ring (meh), Ann Rule’s The Stranger Beside Me (Criminal!), Eowyn Ivey’s The Snow Child (Fantastical!), Edna Ferber’s So Big (Historical!), Donna Tartt’s The Secret History (Also criminal! But fiction this time!), James Robert Waller’s The Bridges of Madison County (Awful! But the musical was beautiful!), Tara Conklin’s The House Girl (also historical!), J.T. Ellison’s A Deeper Darkness (Like CSI but for reading!), N.K. Jemison’s The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms (Also fantastical!), and twelve other books. Phew.

Continue reading

This is me, sheepishly waving hello after a full month away

17 May

Hello!

I’ve been doing a whole bunch of consuming, and not a lot of creating in the past month. Chris Guillebeau would be so ashamed.

So, trying to break the pattern, but I don’t have much for you right now. I have been pinning a lot. There are two new “secret” wedding pinterest boards my friends added me to–and they are updated frequently. It’s a lot to keep up with.

So instead of a full post, I offer links to some of the things I’ve been consuming lately.

Above: I’ve been listening to Sara Bareilles’s new single “Brave” for several weeks, on repeat with Little Mix’s “Wings”. They give me that nice I-can-change-the-world-and-be-awesome feeling.

Speaking of being awesome (and changing the world), here is The Annotated Wisdom of Amy Poehler, my personal hero.

I am experiencing some serious 90s nostalgia lately. I’m wearing ripped, faded jeans and contemplating another set of holes in my ears, and possibly I have a playlist on my iPod titled “1997.” It was a fine time for me, I was learning to fight, fence, anything anyone would teach me…wait, no, wrong story. Anyways, Hello Giggles posted a few different suggestions for 90s themed parties, and now I want to go to ALL of them.

This article about the Today show’s Ann Curry debacle is a really interesting read I just came across on Longform.org, where I like to waste time on my lunch break.

I saw Seth Godin at a small, day long event in the city a few years ago, and while I don’t read his blog every single day anymore, I still think he’s a ridiculous genius guru. He’s hiring interns for a short summer term. I’m terrified to apply, because, well, it’s an internship with SETH GODIN. And also: it’s an internship. I have a full time job (that I, um, like receiving paychecks from). But I think I’d kick myself for quite some time afterwards if I chickened out of this one. Anyone else out there applying?

Finally, I love the “Words of the Week” that Sarah Tolzmann posts on her blog, Note to Self. I found this past Monday’s quote especially powerful.

Click for source!

 

Weekend Recap

15 Apr

Today was, for obvious reasons, kind of a hard day. My thoughts are with everyone in Boston tonight.

This past weekend was really, really nice, especially given the fact that I left the office Friday night basically just filled with dread at the thought of having to return again on Monday (so soon!). Work is definitely on a downward spiral right now, and taking my general morale with it. It’s difficult to keep a positive attitude there these days.

But! This weekend was lovely. Brunch with some lady friends, complete with unlimited mimosas ($9! Who cares if I needed to drink 3 in order to get a buzz. Mimosas are great) and a tasty asparagus, fontina and caramelized onion omelette. (If you put caramelized onion on/in it, I’m sold.)

My friend Cate (who will soon be a published author, cause she’s a big shot fancy pants) has been working on a bunch of short plays featuring “her muse”, Baba Yaga of Russian folklore, and so my friend Michele hosted a reading of Cate’s work at her apartment. A bunch of theater people came, read four of her plays aloud, and then had a lively discussion in front of Cate about the themes that emerged for them, how the plays might work together, and other interesting topics, while Cate took copious notes like a good MFA getting her work critiqued. I know it was a tremendously helpful exercise for Cate. It was honestly much, much more fun than I’d anticipated. I went into it worrying that I’d have nothing of value to contribute, and even at the beginning of the discussion, my mind was basically blank. But then other people started speaking about their impressions and it helped me get the wheels turning for myself, and I wound up making a few contributions to the discussion that even bordered on insightful.

On Sunday night, J and I caught up with some friends from grad school who were in town with the theater department’s BFA showcase. We met for dinner at a restaurant in Little Italy and talked about how, the last time I babysat their daughters, the oldest was three and the youngest was a baby drooling (adorably) on my shoulder. Now they’re seven-going-on-eight and six years old, and presumably the youngest does not drool so much. Which: weird. Kids you used to babysit getting bigger and older is the most tangible proof of time passing that I can think of. Nothing makes it seem like it’s really been 5 years and not, say, a few months, like encountering walking, talking small people who couldn’t walk and talk the last time you saw them.

So there’s my deep thought for the night. Kids: they get older. Woah*.

*And somehow I managed be completely sober and still to write this strange, meandering post.

Goings On (too boring to blog)

6 Apr

Sometimes, this is how I am. I write a long post about something like not feeling like a creative person or having a creative outlet anymore or whatever that last post was, and then I stop posting for three four weeks. Ish.

That’s me. I’m working on it.

So, this is what’s been going on lately:

We rearranged the bedroom to make better use of a closet system-style shelf against the back wall. Now it’s almost like we have a real closet! Instead of a strange bed nestled between our hanging clothes thing we had going on before.

I interviewed for a new job. I thought the interview went well, but haven’t heard anything else, so we’ll see. and now I have a second interview in two weeks. I’m still on the fence about it. We’ll see.

J’s been working on a show in New Jersey and staying out there for several days at a time. We’re getting closer to the summer, when like every summer before, he’ll be gone more often than not. It’s a mixed bag when he’s gone. Basically, it breaks down to: more space, less cuddles.

I spent Easter weekend with my sister and mom upstate. When you get the three of us together, we tend to shop. So we shopped. A lot. (At some outlets having crazy sales and at JC Penney and Target, so we didn’t exactly go overboard. Well. Maybe a teensy bit overboard.) Also we saw my aunt and uncle who live nearby and drank wine and laughed at my sister’s crazy dog Phoebe.

2013-02-17 10.29.37

When I got home, I started rewatching one of my my favorite shows ever, Buffy the Vampire Slayer (when I first drafted this post this part turned into a treatise on how the show changed my life, so perhaps that will get it’s own post at some point.) At this point, let’s just leave it at: I was in a place where I needed to watch a personal (fictional) hero kick some ass and get caught up in some (very) familiar storylines and characters.

And then I had another week of work and paid some taxes and now J’s out of town again and Saffron and I are sitting on the couch catching up on Grey’s Anatomy. Plans for this weekend include Thai with a college friend, but also laundry, cleaning, grocery shopping and maybe soaking up a bit of sun, taking a walk, something with some sort of physical or mental health benefits.

Avoidance Tactics

6 Mar

Several hours ago, I sat down at my desk in front of my computer. I clicked aimlessly through Pinterest and re-read blog posts I’d starred in my Reader (and saved on Pocket, and oooh! Feedly!) and put on more old episodes of How I Met Your Mother. I also bugged J, who was actually working hard on building a model of the set he designed for Pygmalion, all while I desperately avoided this self-imposed task of writing–creating–a new blog post.

I rearranged my desk, ostensibly to avoid the drip that might materialize during the night since my landlord came to investigate they mysterious stain spreading on our ceiling tile (that’s another story. For now we haven’t found a leak.) and wound up removing the tile above my desk. I stuck my face in Saffron’s face and scratched behind her ears. I stared at my own face in the mirror for way too long, cataloging all my various imperfections. I checked Facebook and Twitter and Tumblr and Facebook again. I  looked at my knitting in progress (I taught myself a few weeks ago! Go me!), but since crafting is also an act of creation, I can’t very well do THAT. Instead, I consumed.

I want to be creative. I’m pretty sure I am a creative person, actually. I was as a kid. I mean, most kids are, and the theory is that adults are, too, they’ve just learned to suppress their creativity in favor of conformity. I used to draw all the time, and write. I’d trace characters from storybooks and collage them together to create visuals for my own stories. I’ve absolutely retained that magpie tendency, but now I hoard bookmarks in Chrome and starred blog posts in Reader and regular books, too, some of which I don’t actually read because, well…

A few titles in my library. I've read three of these books.

A few titles in my library. I’ve read three of these books.

I’m not sure where my creative aptitude lies, and even if it turns out I have a talent for some creative venture–writing, or maybe design (boy, typing that was scary. Even admitting that I might be interested in such a thing was so very, very scary)–could I have the balls to pursue it? I can pick up a book on a subject I think might interest me, but there are some I’ve had for years without cracking the covers.

I’d rather continue to consume–pins things to my boards and read other people’s blogs and maybe take an online class in coding a website (but avoid the homework! wouldn’t want to actually produce anything!). I watch a ridiculous amount of tv for someone who doesn’t have cable, and I spend hours upon hours in front of computer screens every day, not producing anything, just consuming more content. Numbing, in other words. Avoiding something I may want to do, because even wanting something scares me at this point.

I’ve been reading a lot of Steven Pressfield and Brené Brown lately, and even listening to a podcast of Oprah’s 10 part webinar with Eckhart Tolle for her “Spirit” channel on XM radio, so I KNOW what this is. Resistance. Fear of vulnerability. It’s “me” struggling against my “self”, if you’re into Tolle’s teachings.

Even these journals are mostly blank!

Even these journals are mostly blank!

But knowing what this is doesn’t make sitting down to do the work less scary, especially since I don’t have a defined end goal. I don’t know what I want out of this blog. I don’t really even know what I want out of this life. I certainly don’t know what I want out of my career. So why am I even doing this?

I guess to try and figure it out. To find my voice, or talent, or develop a passion for one of the things that right now, I’m only curious about and deathly afraid of actually saying out loud that I might want to pursue.

Thanks for stopping by today, and I apologize if this post is a bit of a downer. I’m still trying to figure out a lot of things, especially how to live with all this confusion.

Sourcing Quotes

28 Feb
Very lovely poster by emilymcdowelldraws on etsy. Click for link.

Very lovely poster by emilymcdowelldraws on etsy. Click for link.

I’ve been seeing this quote around the interwebs for a little while now. I really like Louisa May Alcott–Little Women was an early favorite of mine once I graduated to big chapter books (and Little Men, though I never made it through Jo’s Boy’s.) Marmee and Jo were some of the first overtly feminist characters I encountered in my reading and Jo March is still one of my all-time favorite characters (like millions of other readers.) She’s flawed, for sure, I relate to her more because she’s blunt and hot-tempered, as well as a voracious reader. If J and I didn’t have a rule about not bringing any more J-names into this family, Josephine would be a front-runner on the list of names for any future kids, or pets, or houseplants (no, I don’t keep a list, I don’t know what you’re talking about).

As much as I love this quote, I’m having a very hard time finding it in the darn book. Some of the graphics just credit Louisa May Alcott, others assert that it’s from Little Women itself. I’m fairly sure it is indeed a Louisa May Alcott quote, I’m just wary of all these lovely posters with quotes on them floating around etsy and wanleo and cafe press these days.

I'm pretty sure this attribution isn't accurate, for example...

I’m pretty sure this attribution isn’t accurate, for example…

Cheesy as they can be, I do find a lot of these quotes helpful and inspiring. But it really bothers me to search the quote “Wanting to be someone else is a waste of the person you are”, for example, and find these:

Did Kurt Cobain say it...

Did Kurt Cobain say it…

...or did Marilyn Monroe?

…or did Marilyn Monroe?

Clearly there’s some disagreement here. I’m not interested in displaying a misattributed quote on my computer, any of my digital profiles, or in my home. And good luck trying to find the original source of the quote (or the original source for the Cobain quote graphic–please let me know if you know it!). I couldn’t find a reference to an interview or a diary or a letter (or a song, or liner notes in KC’s case) where either Cobain or Monroe might have made this statement. You’d think if there was proof of it, someone on the internet would have referenced this proof.

Or am I just googling wrong?

This post on famous words is my last for LaTrina’s #BlogMeFebruary link up. Click through and check out the other blogs that participated this month!

My very first hit via search words!

26 Feb

Today, this blog got it’s very first hit via search terms. Someone googled (or binged, possibly)

“got a pixie” husband

and on the 6th page of google results, my blog shows up! And they clicked!

So in celebration, here’s a picture of my cat.

Like me, she has a thing for shoes.

Like me, she has a thing for shoes.

Also, here's that husband you may have been thinking of, Searcher.

Also, here’s that husband you may have been thinking of, Searcher.

Also, that pixie cut.

Also, that pixie cut.

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