Month: May 2012

29 May 2012

2012: week twenty-one

May 20 – May 26

I do not much remember what happened on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday, because on Friday, my favorite roommate returned to Boston for a long weekend. Since leaving, she has become A FULL-FLEDGED, CARD-CARRYING CHILDREN’S LIBRARIAN, so we had a lot to talk about. And a lot of food to eat. And a lot of Pictionary to play.

Also, there was a wedding! A wedding so epically perfect to wipe out one’s memory of anything that has happened other than the wedding, (although the unlimited champagne did not help). Two of my dear friends (who you might remember from this post) did indeed tie the knot, and it was equal parts decadent, irreverent, and completely romantic. I laughed, I cried, there was a cappella music. So, so happy for them.

I could use a bit of a recovery period, but alas, life continues to steamroll on. Blogging will be light this week, as I am preparing for another Big Job interview – this time, an all-day affair! Fun stuff – cross your fingers for me so I, too, can begin carrying my Librarian card.



Listening to:

  • Okay for Now on audio. Not too far into it, yet, but there is something pleasing about the way the narrator says “Joe Pepitone”


25 May 2012

Summer Reading List 2012

I think a summer reading list, by nature, has to include at least two kinds of books:

books you want to indulge in

books you’ve been drooling over

books you know you’ll love

books you can dive into and swim around inside


books you think you should read but don’t really want to.

it’s hard to break the “summer break” mentality,

getting in your learnin’ before school rolls around again

So even though I have my whole reading life ahead of me and have no such academic structuring my years, I have fallen into such a pattern (or, perhaps, am in denial that no, school will not arrive e’er again)

Anyway, all psychoanalysis aside, here are the books I’m hoping to read before September begins. Some of them are indulgent, and other a response to my inner sense of Reading Responsibility.

Dead End in Norvelt by Jack Gantos

Posting about awards all semester left me jonesing to keep up with recent winners. I’d prefer this on audio – Gantos reads! – but I am having trouble getting my hands on it, so we will see.

Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi

I read (and loved) the 2012 Printz winner, so I went back a year to 2011. I’ve checked this one out 3 times by now, but didn’t get around to reading it yet. Although I am, in fact, anti-dystopia, so I’m not getting my hopes up.

Paper Covers Rock by Jenny Hubbard

Again, I read (and loved) the 2012 William C. Morris award winner, so I picked a runner up! I picked this one because it reminded me of A Separate Peace.

In Zanesville by Jo Ann Beard

This was the Alex Award winner that caught my attention. And after months of prescribed YA, adult fiction always pulls me in.

100 Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

The obligatory “classic.” I try to read one a summer. Past summer classics include The Bell Jar, Their Eyes Were Watching God, The Awakening. Last summer was a bit busy. Does My Darling, My Hamburger count as a classic?

Brief Interviews with Hideous Men by David Foster Wallace

I also try to read a random book that has been sitting on my shelf for over a year to finally knock off. The winner. I have read DFW since my college creative writing days, but I’m not going to lie – I mostly want to read this one so I can watch the movie, adapted by my favorite celebrity crush, John Krasinski. How awful of me.

The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner

One last BUT IT’S GOOD FOR YOU!! read: some high fantasy. I’m trying to build up a tolerance, and I’ve heard great things about this series. I also heard Turner speak a few years ago and was completely in awe of her brilliance, so I’m hoping this won’t be as bad as I am anticipating.

The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach

On to indulgence… this is the book that everyone I know reads and says “Hands down best book I’ll read all year.” I usually like books like that. I am very high on the hold list, however, and potentially leaving my library district before the summer’s end, so this might be tricky…

Wild by Cheryl Strayed

I love contemporary memoir. This one has adventure and drugs! Plus, my mama is reading it, which means it is probably good. Although my mom does have a strange affinity for books about mountain climbers… so maybe I shouldn’t read too much into her tastes 🙂

See You At Harry’s by Jo Knowles

I have a shiny new hardback of this one. I have heard this one is good and sad, which apparently I like? Did I mention how shiny the hardback is?


24 May 2012

Second Chance Summer by Morgan Matson

Can a book fall short of your expectations but also completely satisfy? I think I have a tendency to love or loathe books (and I don’t read a lot of books I loathe, so mostly, I collect books I love), but I think there is a lot more gray than I’d often like to admit.

I loved Morgan Matson’s first book, Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour, so her second book, Second Chance Summer, has been on my radar for months. When a shiny hardback crossed my path, I practically salivated.

I did enjoy this story – a summer in the life of a girl returning to her lake house with her family after a long hiatus. She left behind some messy romance and friendship situations, and of course they all are waiting for her when she returns – everyone has grown up a bit but nobody has forgotten Taylor’s crimes. Her family is a fun bunch of characters; moody but shy ballerina sister, nerdy fact-spouting brother, a stray dog that is adopted into the fold reluctantly. A romance.

Definitely a book for summer, atmospheric for sure, but not quite atmospheric enough to hide some overexplaining, some undeveloped character traits, some shaky plot bits. I felt like Taylor was trying too hard to be elusive and troubled, creating drama for herself where it would be easier just not to stress. All of her misdeeds occurred at age twelve – at fifteen, all the affected parties acted as if they had been stewing over terrible betrayals for the entire three years of Taylor’s absence. And Taylor’s love interest – literally, the boy next door – has an annoying habit of magically appearing – poof! – every other paragraph or so, popping out from behind counters, lurking in the woods with benign intent… Matson plays off Henry’s Houdini-act as a metaphor at some point along the way, but it was just WAY too convenient to escape my notice.

But despite any surface misgivings, I found this book to slowly move me. Emotionally penetrating. As I read, I found myself shutting the book and putting it aside, reading anything else instead – not because I couldn’t bear to see Henry pull up to the dock with his rowboat at yet another well-timed interval – but because I knew this book was going to hit me hard, at any second. The reason Taylor and her family have returned to the lake house is because her father has been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. He has three months to live, and he wants to spend it with his family at his favorite place in the world.

I wept. I wept on the bus, without apology. When it was my stop, I folded a page, walked to my apartment and picked up where I left off, and read on, while continually crying.

Maybe I’m letting my emotions sway my opinion here, but as the tragedy unrolled, I began to forgive the sloppy bits. Wouldn’t I be sloppy and underdeveloped and quick to see meaning where there is none if I were Taylor? If I was Taylor’s mother? If I were dying? Maybe the tragedy highlights Matson’s strengths here – her characters are not flawless, not aware of their motives. They are grieving ahead of time, and Matson captures the pain, the earnestness, the guilt, and, most importantly, the care and love they have for each other.

What I wanted was something flawless. What I got was something pretty but with messy edges, something that was hard to read, and tears on the bus.

22 May 2012

notes from the job hunt, vol 1

I. The Numbers

I have been applying for jobs for nearly three months now. In that time, I have applied for thirty positions.

Out of thirty, I have received…

  • One Skype interview
  • One phone interview
  • One follow-up phone call
  • One job offer (my new part-time job)
  • Four rejections

The remaining 23 jobs are, supposedly, still on the table – including the two aforementioned phone calls.

II. What I am Looking For

I am still pursuing positions that will move me on my desired career trajectory; youth/teen librarian positions at major public libraries or in major urban areas. I am also applying for non-librarian positions here and there – literacy non-profits, literary publications, etc.

However, the closer September 1 draws, the more pragmatic the job hunt becomes. The reality of staying in New England – within driving distance of Mr. Teacher Fiance’s job – seems more likely. Recently, I have honed in on the Western Mass/Northern Connecticut region, and also started applying for academic advising positions in the Boston area.

III. What I’ve Learned

If anyone says “Oh, at least you got the experience!” after I get a job rejection post-interview, I want to cut them. Losing out on a job you really want feels exactly like a break up – the barrage of internal self-loathing, the random tears, the loss of hope for the future. But it passes more quickly… maybe break ups would go smoother if you knew you had to find a new man before September 1 so you wouldn’t be homeless? Anywayy… the objective “experience” of job interviews is probably valuable. However, it’s intangible – it’s not like you can put “I had 35 GREAT job interviews!” on your resume.

What is valuable, to me, is what I learn from all aspects of the application process. Assessing what jobs I’m drawn to and figuring out how better to select future positions. Looking at which resumes and cover letters are the ones that get a follow-up… and then, during that follow-up, what questions do the reviewers have – aka, what did you FORGET to put in there? This is all comforting, helpful, and make me feel like I’m moving forward at least.

IV. What I’m Doing Now

  • Re-discovering my personality

I had an interview awhile ago for a job I really would have liked. I wasn’t really confident throughout the interview because I’d prepared for something entirely different than what I encountered. I dreamed up impressive answers to generic but intense interview questions, I studied the library in question intensely, I thought big thoughts about librarianship. And I’m glad I did all this because now I have an entirely different view of where I want to go in the field and what kind of jobs can get me there… but no. These questions were hard. These questions were abstract. These questions were “Tell me about a moment when you felt XXX about yourself.”

I was interviewing after a full day’s work during a particularly hectic week. A hectic 50 hour week. It occurred to me, at this inopportune moment, that I had spent the semester focused so intently on resume-building and job hunting and working my ass off, I was too tired to be an individual. My hobbies? Listening to podcasts on the bus. My favorite part of the day? Sleeping like the dead.

  • Adjusting my job hunting strategy to a new schedule

I have more free time now to do such things as, oh, revive my personality. Yay! I also have less time where I am at jobs that chain me to a computer for extended periods of time. Oh, cooking and cleaning and showering and playing Skyrim is nice and all, but I can already feel myself checking out a bit… I need to figure out a way to stay motivated while working ONLY 30-40 hours/week.



I will probably update this later… UNLESS I just get a job in the next few weeks and my job hunt is exceedingly easy. But who am I kidding? I will surely think of something else to say before then, either way. I will probably have some kind of existential crisis and then 24 hours later get a job. That is just how I roll.

21 May 2012

2012: week twenty

May 13 – May 19

Aside from being completely ridiculous, busy, and full of joy/nostalgia/desserts, last week was a bit of a symbolic break.

2012 Phase 1:

Work 40-50 hours/week while taking class

2012 Phase 2

Work 20-30? hours/week while scrambling to find health insurance, an apartment, and solvency before September 1.


Last week was the in between. Goodbye to the old, hello to the new. Woke up this morning feeling well-rested, feeling happy to have a cup of iced coffee, feeling happy that it is still May.

I think I love May in Boston The long weekend was gorgeous weather. Tank top and cropped pants without much sweating weather. The sun gets up early, birds chirp, your day just starts out better.

So goodbye, Phase 1. Hello, Phase 2; you might not be the most fun, but at least I’m not working myself to an oblivion and it’s May in Boston.




  • Still watching ridiculous LOST


20 May 2012


My family is the bomb. My sister flew in on Wednesday to see where/how I live – her first solo flight, first trip to Boston. My aunt and cousin came in on Wednesday as well, to sight-see and eat every strange Boston-based-concoction known to man. On Thursday, my mother and father and other two sisters, my grandmother and grandfather, all arrived in the city, so that on Friday, the bunch of them could watch me spend 15 seconds walking across the stage at the Bank of America pavilion.

Festivities included a trip to the bar, a social brunch, observing a television show filming outside Mr. Bartley’s Burger Cottage while we ate, a quick tour of Harvard, a swan boat ride in the Public Garden, a ghosts and graveyards tour, a walk around the Freedom Trail, Pinkberry, Mike’s Pastry, and a fancy dinner with wine and a tray full of desserts.

All to celebrate the fact that I have busted balls for the past three years working and taking class, gone into debt, teetered on the edge of financial insolvency more than once, and generally have lived like an insane, insane person.

My family traveled from across the country, walked & walked & walked until their blisters got blisters, and skipped out on work and school, just to celebrate my insanity.

Love. I miss them so. All I could think about this whole crazy trip was “when can I get back to Michigan?”

16 May 2012


Taking a few days off from blogging so I can graduate.

Finding a suitable reservation for 12 people on a Friday night during graduation season in a major metropolis is proving stressful. I need a little time to my self.

Here’s hoping that all my graduation pictures look like the previous pic and not like this one:

15 May 2012

Someone Like You by Sarah Dessen

Some time ago, I resolved to re-read the oeuvre of Sarah Dessen in order of publication.

My reading notions proved – as they usually do – a bit ambitious. I did not read any older Dessen titles that year, and in 2011 I only managed two out of ten.

The two I did read –  That Summer and Keeping the Moon – came at a time in the final weeks of August. I had just finished a class that crammed 20 or so books into thirty days, and I marathoned  the last three Harry Potter books before seeing the final movie. I didn’t need a rest – I was on a roll. I was anxious to dive back into another world before the next semester arrived and force-fed me science fiction and fantasy.

It was surprising how well these older Dessen titles sucked me in. I couldn’t put them down, read them while walking, felt sad to trade them for the Chronicles of Prydain as the semester approached. The stories were familiar, since I have re-read since first discovering Dessen in high school, but I read with a mix of new appreciation and nostalgia. What happened on the page didn’t match up with my memory… I read different characters differently, took interest in sub-plots I missed, saw the evolution of Dessen’s distinct settings and characters. And there was a lot I just plain didn’t remember properly. Heck, I even violated the fundamental premise of my reading task by mis-remembering the publication order.

Two semesters later, I finally picked up the one I forgot:  Someone Like You. I remembered that when I was in high school, this book was the popular one, the title that drew many new readers to the Dessen fan club. I also remembered that it seemed so dramatic, so sad; a tragic death right at the start, followed  by teen pregnancy, fitful friendships, and lots of fights with parents. I liked it when I first read it, but never picked it up again while reading other Dessen titles three and four times over. I started to wonder why everyone liked it so much.

But Someone Like You was not the book I remembered. Maybe this says something about me and my experience with female friendships, but I kept waiting for Scarlett to take over. She was the prettier friend, the luckier friend, the one who got to fall in love. She was a pregnant teen, yes, but she was so pretty and so lucky that this transgression was somehow looked over, somehow even worked to her advantage, leaving Halley even further from the spotlight. Halley’s affair with bad boy Macon was a form of self-destructive rebellion, something to be kept secret, away from judging eyes.

I remembered an entirely different book than exists. This time around, Scarlett was strong but Halley was stronger. Scarlett never asked more than Halley wanted to give. Halley wanted a boyfriend – love, sex, excitement – not validation, but either way, the trajectory of her relationship with Macon was heart-breakingly real to me; how every single one of my high school relationships ended.

Reading Someone Like You reminded me that in spite of the unique, visceral pleasure that is Reading a Sarah Dessen Novel, there is something underneath her stories that is a little raw. Bits of truths that make me think about myself and my teenage self and my life a bit differently.

Hiding behind a pretty cover, masked by a cute romance, there is something painful and true in these words, and now that I have some time on my hands, I can’t wait to move through the series again and see how I’ve changed.

14 May 2012

2012: week nineteen

May 6 – May 12

I am having trouble acknowledging that my regular-grad-school-life is coming to a close.

Maybe because my schedule has me a bit distracted from the rhythm of academic life. More than once this has bitten me in the butt at work, lately. “Oh, you need your course evaluation packet? In 10 minutes? Offff course….”

Maybe because my schedule has me a bit distracted from… oh… creative/independent thought.

Maybe because I am in deep, deep denial.

Or maybe because my schedule is not coming to a halt, but instead, slowly unraveling. Two more library shifts. Another month or two in the office. But this past week was my last crazy one, Friday was my last day as a writing tutor, and I said goodbye to some of my favorite crazy-undergraduates. There were one, two, three little end of the year parties. Cupcakes. Champagne. One last trip to the Squealing Pig, grad students squished into a too-small booth, ordering one more round.

Next week, we graduate. It is over, it is over.




  • LOST Having watched through to this point a few times, I have a single thought about Season Three: jumped the shark.


13 May 2012


Dear Mommy,

I miss you.

I have been thinking about you lately, because I am curious to know what your Myers-Briggs personality type is.

If you don’t know, you can take the test here. If you want to. I understand you are very busy being awesome. Case in point, I was randomly surfing the internet tonight and found this article about Storyfest, and was like “Oh, snap, that’s my mom.”

I am excited I will see you in a few days!!!

Happy Mother’s Day!


Your First and Best Daughter