Month: November 2012

30 Nov 2012

new year’s resolutions: the overdue edition

When one announces one’s uh… ambitious New Year’s Resolutions on the internet, it is probably safe to assume that this person in question plans on keeping said resolutions, updating the public regularly, and generally following through, feeling good, and bragging about his or her improved quality of life and stick-to-it-iveness.

I obviously posted once about my progress and then abandoned my NYR dreams to wallow in guilty avoidance. Inner cringing to think of my goals, of how I had to get all high and mighty and post them online and now look – nothing! Nothing. You make goals and then let them blow away in the wind.

As I age, I still make unrealistic goals and then loathe myself when I can’t reach them, just like I did as a child, a teen, a younger young adult. But I am getting better at one thing – figuring out what I actually want to do with my life and my time, and choosing goals accordingly.

So when I make New Year’s Resolutions – even excessive ones that come in list-form – I can actually just ignore the list for 11 months and still do a decent job of meeting them.

This is one of the best parts about being an adult.


Start first-thing-in-the-morning writing

I do not have the early morning zen writing practice of my dreams yet, but over the course of the year I have, for periods of time, woken up first thing and 1) Did homework 2) Read books 3) Run a few miles 4) Keep a journal 5) Write.

Not all of them at once, but the common denominator is: I’m getting up early enough to do something.

Thank you, French Press. I owe it all to you.

Read 12 new YA releases this year

Knocked. This One. Out. Of. The Park.

  1. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
  2. The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson
  3. Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins
  4. Beneath a Meth Moon by Jacqueline Woodson
  5. What Happens Next by Colleen Clayton
  6. Son by Lois Lowry
  7. The Other Normals by Ned Vizzini
  8. Drama by Raina Telgemeier
  9. My Book of Life by Angel by Martine Leavitt
  10. Smashed by Lisa Luedeke
  11. Amelia Anne is Dead and Gone by Kat Rosenfield
  12. 37 Things I Love (in no particular order) by Kekla Magoon

Well, that’s the first 12 I could come up with. There were more, and I’m not even going to TOUCH the YA nonfiction.

I will say that most of these reads were due to classwork and paying gigs, so we will see if the trend continues in the future, especially since I am in an ARC-drought. I do, however, know when new books get put on order, so maybe my library hold addiction will even out the field for 2013.


Continue to pursue a mostly sugar & grain-free lifestyle

My quest to avoid metabolizing sugars in 2012 has been hit or miss, for sure. But I have not completely reverted to a carb-eater: a sandwich is a treat, sugared coffee is for the weak, sodas are for when you feel like having a headache, pasta is not a legitimate menu option. My Whole30 experiment was fun and one that I will probably try again soon. I have no idea what I weigh, but it seems I hover between two pants sizes pretty consistently – my body does not seem to be spiraling out of control at this point.

I don’t think this is a battle that can be won, necessarily, for me anyway. Just a series of small changes that I am still committed to, so I will call that a win.


Run two 5Ks

Objectively, I did not complete this goal. Granted, it is still the end of November, but let’s be honest – I am writing this post while under three blankets in bed. I am trying not to spill my cup of coffee on my bedspread. I am not going to go outside and run a 5k in December.

However, the 5k I did run came after I was feeling sick of running. I did two weeks of “prep” leading up to the race, which means I probably ran a few 1 or 2 mile loops, and I think I forced The Boy into a 2.75 at some point. But that was it. And then I ran a (slow and rainy) 3.1 miles on race day, without stopping, without dying. It is no longer beyond my capacity to run long distances. Give me a few weeks, and I’ll be back up to speed.

Now, sustaining this high level of fitness while remaining in bed wearing wool socks for the months of December, January, and February will be another issue altogether. But that’s 2013’s problem…


Be ballsy.

Well, this is certainly the most abstract of these resolutions. Was I bold? Was I ballsy? Should I even be using such a word as ballsy because although it is a good sounding word, it is somewhat anti-feminist or whatever?

I don’t know. Career-wise, I certainly applied for a lot of jobs. I did some high-stakes interviews. I did a lot of thinking about my career trajectory, the kind of work I like to do, and the kind of life I’d like to live.

Most of the time, it didn’t feel like being “ballsy.” It just felt like saying yes, felt like getting by, felt like doing what had to be done. Nothing ever felt triumphant, I never felt bold. Everything felt scary.

But, here we are, at the end of 2012. I have the job I wanted, the opportunities I wanted, a life that is a good fit for me right now. I’m not going to spend too much time analyzing my methods.


Work on a cleaning schedule

January through February: made minor progress.

March through August: gigantic fail

September through November…. surprising win?

It is much easier to keep our slightly-bigger apartment clean; more places to store things, to put things, it looks nicer even when it’s still a little messy. I am also working very hard to un-wire my lifelong bad habits. I am also trying to put some love into this falling down building of a home because when I take the time to hang pictures, arrange furniture, and sew crooked curtains, I want my space to look nice and not covered in dirty dishes.

That being said, we haven’t done dishes in three days. It’s a process, and I probably should have pushed myself harder this year, but I definitely feel like I am finally on the right track! Slob no more!


29 Nov 2012

i read all these (nonfiction) books these weekend


Did you do anything fun over this holiday weekend? Black Friday shopping? Sleeping in? Eating out? Visit a bar? Hang out with friends? Do anything cool enough to redeem the fact that you played a largely text-based computer game that doubled as a history lesson for far too much time, restarting and saving each and every time you contracted cholera or your boat sank as you came around Cape Horn or you accidentally stole a mule and was hanged?


No. I read a butt-load of nonfiction books. Here are some exceedingly short reviews.

Zora! The Life of Zoara Neale Hurston

by Dennis Brindell Fradin and Judith Bloom Fradin

Last summer, I read another story about Zora Neale Hurston, a fictionalization of her childhood called Zora and Me. I then attended a speech by the two co-authors that proved their tireless, inspired research into Ms. Hurston’s life, as well as their absolute insistence that the mythology of Hurston’s decline into obscurity and poverty was just that – a myth. Fradin and Fradin ascribe to this mythology to an extent, which detracted from my overall reading positive reading experience; however, this biography does an excellent job of portraying Hurston as a creative, independent, and complicated lady.


Moonbird: A Year on the Wind with the Great Survivor B95

by Phillip Hoose

Dear Phillip Hoose,

I do not normally give two shakes about birds of any sort.

However, I read your books, and suddenly birds are the most interesting thing I have ever thought about.

How do you do this?

Sincerely yours,



The Plant Hunters: True Storeis of Their Daring Adventures to the Far Corners of the Earth

by Anita Silvey

Weirdo scientists who took death-defying trips into the jungle to collect plants? Cool topic. And this book is real pretty – full of hilarious old time photos of said-scientists, beautiful plant drawings, and other ephemera.

That being said… I wish that I liked this book more. I think it was a bit repetitive, “one-note”-y. Ah well.


Stars in the Shadows: The Negro League All-Star Game of 1934

by Charles R. Smith

I have little or not interest in baseball, but Stars in the Shadows gets mega-points for a cool format – it’s a slim little book, recreating a single baseball game, capturing both the on-field drama as well as the surrounding cultural excitement and involvement. It’s told entirely in rhyming verse – cool! It is heavily illustrated – cool!

The format is fun, Frank Morrison’s illustrations are just amazing, buuuut at the end of the day, the poetry was just too much of a stretch. The rhymes were often forced and the rhythm hard to latch onto. Maybe if you are an actual sports fan, you could ignore this, but it was just too much for me to keep track of.


Miles to Go For Freedom: Segregation & Civil Right in the Jim Crow Years

by Linda Barrett Osborne

The Civil Rights Movement & surrounding racial history of America is important, important, important.

However, if I have to read another Civil Right book right now… I might just have an emotional breakdown.

Regardless of my emotional state, Miles to Go focuses solely on pre-Civil Rights era atrocities, which is unique. The images – vintage signage and publications and portrait photography – are especially notable.


A Passion for Victory:

The Story of the Olympics in Ancient and Early Modern Times

by Benson Bobrick

Fun fact 1: The Olympics used to involve no-rules fighting to the death.

Fun fact 2: The Olympics were not actually popular for a significant period of time – nobody really gave a crap until the 20th century.

Fun fact 3: I have been reading too many books and I cannot summon the energy to say anything useful about this book

Fun fact 4: The Olympics were, at some point, a display of ancient Greek athletes doing sports in the nude. Let’s bring that back *cough* Michael Phelps *cough*

Blizzard of Glass: The Halifax Explosion of 1917

by Sally M. Walker

This is a little known piece of history – what could have been a mostly harmless harbor accident turned into the biggest explosion before nuclear bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Two Canadian cities decimated, countless victims.

Massachusetts was a big help, donating supplied and money, and apparently the big Christmas tree in Boston Common is a yearly gift from Nova Scotia, in thanks.

Otherwise, Death. Destruction. Explosions. Suffering. Sadness. And so it goes.

How long until I can read something about cupcakes or fairies?





28 Nov 2012

david macaulay and the eternal city

Each night, hundreds of exciting things are going on in my fair city, and even when I am expressly invited to partake in in one such activity, I usually weasel my way out of it. It’s cold/It’s far away/I am not feeling well/I had a long day/I am a insistently joyless human. Et cetera.

However, when I have an hour to kill in downtown Boston, and a man of known genius is showing up for a free lecture during that exact hour, and once, this man of known genius welcomed myself and 20 other giggling girl classmates into his lovely Vermont studio?

I go.

Quick bio: David Macaulay is a trained architect, an illustrator, a children’s book creator. Although he is most well-known for his books of narrative architectural nonfiction (Castle, Pyramid, Cathedral, etc) and his gloriously informative and clever reference tome The Way Things Work, he also won a Caldecott award for his 1991 Black and White, and also won a Macarthur Genius Grant.

I have no idea what Mr. Macaulay will be speaking on when I arrive. The crowd is not nearly as filled as I would like, but there are folks present, including an exuberant man who laughs – no, he guffaws – at Mr. Macaulay’s every joke. But I am pleased when his Powerpoint flips over to a document camera, and Mr. Macaulay begins to draw as he speaks, a Roman square.

He can communicate verbally and visually, effortlessly, simultaneously. A wonder.

The rest of his presentation might be confused with a vacation slideshow. Mr. Macaulay has gone to Italy more than once, and has taken pictures in the way that a trained architect might – noting interesting buildings, features, arrangements. This is old territory for him: he has written and illustrated not one but two books for children about Rome.

But still – it was someone else’s vacation slideshow. A Man of Known Genius’s slideshow, but a slideshow nonetheless.

However, as a Man of Known Genius is wont to do, Mr. Macaulay dragged me along through his trip, through his city, through his thought processes, and then suddenly, suddenly, suddenly the only place I’ve ever wanted to visit in the world is Rome.

He talks about the bones of human existence – the buildings and streets that rose up as a way to structure human life, to allow people to share and sell the things they need, water, food, to bring them together.

This structure exists underneath our usual perception, at once invisible and absolutely physical. Walls, cement, columns, cornices, streets, fountains, sidewalks – they take up space, but we don’t see them.

He talks about why he goes through the hassle to take his kids to Europe. “To imbue these places with memories of family.” To allow his children to see, in the walls and the details, themselves and their human role in the larger public history. The world not as a playground in which they have been plopped – free to explore, play, destroy – but an organic, changing human fabric. You exist in a larger context, your kids exist in a larger context, and for Mr. Macaualy, Rome brings all of this to the surface for adults and children alike.

A good ten or fifteen minutes after I dropped my skepticism and fell under the spell of Rome, I had a second realization – I am going. I am going to Rome.

Or at least, it is possible that I am going. Watch me second guess. But at the time of this lecture in early October, it had been a few months since The Boy and I sat down and talked about a honeymoon and landed on Italy, on Rome. I am second-guessing – we won’t have the money, we (read: I) won’t have the balls, I will defer and take a nice beachy, resorty, all-inclusive trip.

I would be excited to go to the beach, to take a cruise. I am scared, however, to go to Europe.

But maybe I am afraid to see myself as a part of a larger, human, organic fabric.

And maybe I will go to Rome.

In case you doubt Mr. Macaulay’s Known Genius, here is his Ted Talk. On Rome.

(And back from 2008 when Ted Talks were not so generously distributed across the human population)

(For what it’s worth)

26 Nov 2012

2012: week forty-six

November 18 – November 24

In the ongoing saga that is Jessica’s Mood, I have identified the following areas as areas for mood improvement:

Procrastination Regarding Nagging, Annoying Tasks

See: making phone calls, submitting forms, sending emails. Of course, I attempted to take care of some of these tasks two weeks ago in the heights of my emotional unrest, and ended up crying over unhelpful customer service representatives. Not the best idea. However, the nagging tasks, they continue to nag.

Keeping Busy

A bored Jessica is an unhappy Jessica.

Taking Your Vitamins

Who CARES if the crazy bearded guy at Vitamin World was right and your Walgreens vitamins don’t actually do anything and are just a placebo. Take that placebo and RUN with it, child! Take your fish oil, your C, your B complex. Maybe add a Vitamin D to the mix to make 4 p.m. sunsets seem a little less tragic.

Moving Your Body

The season of 4 p.m. sunsets marks the end of after-work runs. But there are such things as weekend runs, you know, and also sit ups and push ups and Wii Fit and Netflix Pilates videos and it’s just cold out, you haven’t died, you know. You can get off the couch for four second.

Staying Warm

Except for the fact that it is still 2 degrees in your apartment, and it will likely remain 2 degrees in your apartment for the rest of the season. It is very hard to get off the couch. Heck, it is hard to stay on the couch and read a book because your hands get cold. Wear layers. Find your fingerless gloves. Hold hot cups of water. Buy long underwear, thick socks. Turn the heat up, you stingy fool.

Being Single-Minded

And finally it is okay not to want to tackle 50 tasks at once, to just Do One Thing pretty much all day long every day and letting other life things (eating, cleaning, working, sleeping) sift in as needed. Right now, that One Thing is ready a shit-ton of nonfiction books. Just go with it. Read and read a lot.

Light a Freaking Candle, Turn on the Twinkling Lights, and cue up some Sufjan

It’s the holiday season, dammit!

Play a computer game from 1988

I don’t know why. Just do it.


Listening To:

  • This Lullaby on audio… I’ve read it a million times, but never listened, which makes it kind of fun.


  • Had a mini-Shameless marathon on Saturday
24 Nov 2012

reading wishlist: i am out of time

I calculate my yearly reading quota from January 1st to December 31st; some years I am cramming books into that last week between Christmas and New Years, desperately trying to hit my arbitrary quota of 100.

This year, I am done with weeks to spare – Ask Elizabeth was my glorious 100th book of 2012 – but I am still feeling antsy. While my reading year still has weeks to go, my fiscal reading year – which is relevant for my Annual! Book! Review! Extravaganza! – is only two weeks away.

Aaand I am staring down two weeks of nonfiction after nonfiction after nonfiction.

This is fine, but at this point, my free-ranging anxiety reminds me of all those books that everyone said were AMAZING that I just didn’t get to read. Would any of those books have made the top 10, if only I’d turned off Skyrim for a few hours back in June and picked up the damn book? And what about all those books I started but never finished? WHAT ABOUT THOSE BOOKS?

Here is a handful that I just wish I had time to read:

Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

I really did like The Scorpio Races, and I really did start reading Raven Boys. And yeah, it started slow, but I would stick it out! I would!

The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach

Okay, I could just cut and paste the above sentence and place it here. Actually, I could probably cut and paste the above sentence 9 more times here. I actually did read enough of this one to get to where things got exceptionally interesting, but there was a vacation-related library-book snafu, and I had to return it.

Better luck next year? I now have an ARC in my Drawer of Shame at work, so no more untimely due dates.

The Round House by Louise Erdrich

This is the first time I’ve had a particular interest in the adult National Book Award category, but the youth category was just too all over the place this year (and *cough* Sheinkin got robbed *cough*). I have heard some good reviews of this Erdrich book, and it’s only just over 300 pages – not too long to scare me.

Days of Blood and Starlight by Laini Taylor

This one shames me. I have my copy, fresh, never been read, waiting for me. BUT ALL THE NONFICTION GAAAHHHHH

How to Be a Woman by Caitlin Moran

It’s been a long time since I’ve read a good feminist manifesto. And everyone went a bit gaga over this one in the summer. And I have my copy. It’s sitting there, taunting me. I could also cut and paste this sentence about eight times. What it is about library holds… you wait and wait and wait and then as soon as you have no time to read anything, all 25 come in at once?

Okay, so maybe I am the only human in the world with that problem. Carry on.

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein

I think Code Name Verity takes the award for Most Personal Recommendations from Friends… that I have completely ignored. Actually, I didn’t completely ignore them… I worked on reading this for a few weeks, but this was in my late summer reading doldrums, and eventually I decided to read some fluffy lifestyle-y nonfiction instead.

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

My new job has made me much more aware of trends in adult books than I usually am, and subsequently, I am more susceptible to book hype. I was number 600 and something on the hold list for this summer’s obsession – Gone Girl – and now that it was arrived, I am not even sure that it is a book that I would actually like. I’ve read a few pages and I think if I’d picked it up at a bookstore, I would put it right back down.

However, 50% of people I know who have read it say it is thrilling and disturbing and at least an interesting read. The other half said it was crap and didn’t finish.

Steal Like an Artist by Austin Kleon

I have long loved Austin Kleon’s blog for his lovely, hand-written note-taking – something about the way he combines information with visual design just pings something in my soul. I also love books on creativity! I would probably adore this book.

The Diviners by Libba Bray

Dear Libba Bray – Your books are huge. I was reading this book and then I stopped because it wouldn’t fit into my purse. Can you please divide your books by two? Thanks. Sincerely, A Concerned Reader

Tiny Beautiful Things by Cheryl Strayed

As we have determined in today’s post, I am a reading procrastinator with no patience who is highly susceptible to both hype and feel-good-prose. If I wasn’t such a procrastinator, I would probably like this hype-worthy, feel-goody book that is full of short, palatable essays. The end.


22 Nov 2012

holiday gift guide 2012

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! I am blessed to have some dear friends to hang out with today, and am blessed to have a full-time job that requires me to work tomorrow. Seriously, though. This is the first year in the last five that I have a ready-made excuse NOT to go Black Friday shopping! SERIOUSLY, THOUGH I live with this boy who discovered Black Friday shopping awhile back with one of his fellow stingy friends, and even though he had food poisoning or the stomach flue and became violently ill while WAITING IN LINE AT A CIRCUIT CITY, he still counts it as one of the best days of his life. You should have SEEN the deal he got on that external hard drive, guys!

Aaaanyway. This year, I’ve just got to work in the morning, so sorry, honey, you can get up at 4 a.m. and put on your winter coat and hats and mittens by yourself.

But for those of you getting your holiday shopping started early, and not everyone on your list would like a 1,567 GB external harddrive, here are some books I would suggest. Do bookstores do Black Friday? If the answer is yes, I might change my curmudgeonly tune…


For babies and toddlers…


Everywhere Babies by Susan Myers and Marla Frazee

Llama Llama Time to Share by Anna Dewdney

Pantone: Colors by Helen Dardnik

This is Not My Hat by Jon Klassen


For assorted other children…


Penny and her Doll by Kevin Henkes

Wonder by R. J. Palacio

A Wrinkle in Time: The Graphic Novel by Hope Larson

Chomp by Carl Hiaasen


For your weird teenage cousins…

Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

Baby’s in Black: Astrid Kirchnerr, Stuart Sutcliffe, and The Beatles by Arne Bellstorff

Pirate Cinema by Cory Doctorow

 Rookie Yearbook One ed. by Tavi Gevinson


For brothers, sisters, parents, grandparents, and other “adults”…




The Signal and the Noise: Why Some Predictions Fail – But Some Don’t by Nate Silver

The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook by Deb Perelman

The Story of America: Essays on Origins by Jill Lepore

Live By Night by Dennis Lehane



21 Nov 2012

the holocaust, the civil rights movement, and first world problems

It is possible to be objective about a book, to judge literary quality based on established criteria, to separate the reader-self from the text on the page.

However, it’s probably impossible to do all that 100%, and do it 100% of the time.

A professional part of me says I should try my darndest to be that objective reader, but a big part of me doesn’t really want to bother.

(And maybe the biggest part of me just doesn’t want to? The part that likes the intersections of self and reading, that finds it amusing to chill out in this in-between? This is why I insist on keeping a blog that is about a lot of books but also in no way claiming to be a professional resource, and also why I have a lot of persistent professional angst…)

And how, exactly, do you read these three books in the same weekend and not let the reading experience of one bleed into the other?

Beyond Courage: The Untold Story of Jewish Resistance During the Holocaust

by Doreen Rappaport

There are so many books about the Holocaust for young readers, but heck if this isn’t the most encyclopedic that I’ve encountered. And Rappaport doesn’t just retell the same retellings – instead, this book is thick with stories you haven’t heard, the often minute tales of bravery, ingenuity, and self-sacrifice enacted by Jews while they were oppressed, tortured and killed. This book is dense for certain – it took me a few weeks to muster up the energy to make it through, but man, these stories are wild! People crawling through sewers, starting armed forest civilizations, pitching homemade bombs into Nazi strongholds, and general badassery. See Marc Aronson’s NYTimes review for more coherent descriptions (maybe more professional? maybe not… I’ll let you judge).


We’ve Got a Job: The 1963 Birmingham Children’s March

by Cynthia Y. Levinson

This is another book about unsung heroes, this time of the American variety. I took an extremely comprehensive course on the American Civil Rights Movement while in college – probably the most life-influencing course this white girl has ever sat in on, by the way – and I’m sure we learned about this march in class. However, Levinson writes about the movement in Birmingham and its participants in such vivid specificity that I couldn’t remember a single thought or assumption I had before I opened this book. Focusing in on the particular experiences of four youngsters from different backgrounds and neighborhoods, creating her text with heavy research and interview material, Levinson captures not only the tremendous maturity and resolve necessary to willingly submit oneself to angry dogs, police with billy clubs, fire hoses, and, oh, jail, (AT FOURTEEN!), but also the experience of just being a young teen during this time of Jim Crow. What it felt like to look into a restaurant from the outside and see a banana split that looked good but know that you were not allowed inside, would never be allowed inside, and that was that. What it felt like to realize that you, just a kid, had the power to influence change, and were maybe even essential to the cause.

Yes, I’ve been in a bad mood, been hormonal, been pretty crazy… but this book made me cry.


Ask Elizabeth: Real Answers to Everything You Secretly Wanted to Ask About

Love, Friends, YourBody… and Life in General

by Elizabeth Berkley

To Berkley’s credit, this is probably a book I would have lovvvvvved as a ten, eleven, twelve-year-old. As an oldest child, tween and teenhood, to me, felt like a foreign landscape that I was walking through, alone, and believe me, I knew a written map when I saw one.

However, it is not possible for me to read a book as if it exists in a vacuum, 100% impermeable to the rest of my life and the world.

And it was 100% impossible for me to read a book about bffs, crushes, and self-esteem, penned by a non-expert celebrity, no less, without One! Thousand! Eye! Rolls!

Maybe it there was one reference to the following video clip, I could have taken this book seriously.

20 Nov 2012


Getting from Boston to New York City is obscenely easy. It is also affordable. Of course, staying in New York City is the opposite of affordable, so we never want to go. However, we bit the bullet a few weekends ago and spent a night in Manhattan.

I wish that I had a ton of pictures to share with you, but The Boy is the designated picture-taker when we travel, and it seems that he did not tend to his duties during this particular trip. This is not a complaint, because when we travel, I am the designated worrier, arguer, stare-vacantly-into-the-abyss-out-of-stress-er, and am generally a nuisance. I do enjoy traveling, but only about six months after I return from a trip.

New York is especially bad, I think – I can handle the noise and the chaos and getting around town, but there is something about that city that just puts me on edge. There is nowhere to sit down, nowhere to relax for just a minute, nowhere where you aren’t aware that you are in NEW YORK. Argh.

My shoulders retracted themselves from my ears for about one hour over the course of the weekend, but I was three cocktails into dinner.

Moral of the story: be more drunk.

Anyway, since The Boy is opposed to planning ahead of time, and I am the Queen of Planning Ahead of Time, grumpy old me got to set the day’s agenda.

So we took a tour of the NYPL’s Schwarzman Building, bought a couple paperbacks at Books of Wonder, and spent an hour or so at the Strand. Naturally.

For The Boy, I made a jazz brunch reservation, and he bought a Wynton Marsalis t-shirt from a vendor on the High Line.

For exhausted, grumpy old me, we paid 10 bucks to hop on an earlier bus home.


 Otherwise, a nice weekend.

19 Nov 2012

2012: week forty-five

November 11 – November 17

I am about done with this mood. The only thing I ever want to do is read pop-psychology and write in my orange notebook and feel feeeeelings. I am annoying myself.

Can we talk about how there are only six weeks left in 2012? What a year, guys. Some days I think back to January, February, March etc and I feel triumphant. Some days I feel chewed up and spit out.

One thing that doesn’t suck – Thanksgiving! I appreciate this holiday more and more as I grow older, probably because I have also become a better cook. A holiday devoted to food is one thing… a holiday devoted to cooking? Divine.

This is my second Thanksgiving away from family, sadly, since I am currently lacking these things called “vacation days,” and if the library is open the day after Thanksgiving then you better believe that I need to be there! We are heading out to East Boston to dine with friends and their family, which is really a good way to do Thanksgiving – to be the culinary “guest star.” You can devote your attention to a single dish, putting in the flourishes the host wouldn’t have time for and buying those weird ingredients. Also, you take the train home and your kitchen is waiting for you, clean.

My household will be providing a pumpkin pie, some brussels sprouts, and some kind of corn bread casserole as concocted by The Boy himself. I think the chosen recipe calls for green chiles and at least two types of cheese. I made my pie crust today.

Maybe Thanksgiving will perk me up, and if it doesn’t, I will have another chance – the following Thursday I have been invited to an event called “Thanksgiving 2!” Maybe I can squeeze in an extra Christmas before actual Christmas? Just shove a major holiday into every week, keeping your spirits buoyed with delicious food, drinks, and general cheer all year long?




  • So much nonfiction.
  • I am also reading a book about a boy who survives a tornado and finds out he is a sylph. I rarely subject myself to such “paranormal romance,” and I’m trying not to roll my eyes too much. Also, I can’t spell sylph. Also, I am 150 pages in and am not quite sure what a slyph is.


  • A little Breaking Bad.
  • A little How I Met Your Mother.

Listening To:

  • Shovels & Rope – O’ Be Joyful
  • Anya Marina – Slow and Steady Seduction
  • Tom Waits – Small Change
  • Oh, and podcasts. It has been a very long time, but I am now almost caught up with You Had To Be There, and SO EXCITED that Sara and Nikki are going to have an MTV show!!!!
15 Nov 2012

life as a normal human: hobbies

The things that you do when you are not working are called “hobbies.”

I have probably blogged about this already, but sometime last semester I had a conversation with an undergraduate student about my ridiculous schedule, and she looked at me funny and asked, “Uh, what do you do for fun?”

Blushing. An extended, “Ummm…” Then I settled on the following responses:

  • I read on the bus
  • I listen to podcasts while I run

This was not an adequate answer.

I suppose blogging could be considered a hobby, as well as enjoying fine wines with friends. But I didn’t want to reveal that to my undergraduate acquaintances.

By the way, did I mention that these undergraduate acquaintances who were so baffled with my lifestyle were honors students?

Also, by “enjoying fine wines with my friends” I mean “drinking Two Buck Chuck in my apartment, regardless of who else decided to join me.”

Anywaaaaaaaay. I finally have time to, you know, do some things in my free time. Things “for fun!”

I wish I could say I am doing much more than reading on the bus and listening to podcasts, but frankly, I am afraid that I am having trouble squelching my Type A tendencies. My free time is mostly spent blogging, drinking cheap red wine in my apartment, and micromanaging my life by the way of lists, charts, and cleaning and rearranging my apartment.

I am spending more time, guilt-free, with my friends, including occasional evenings cavorting around Boston without any homework taunting me at home.

I am watching occasional recreational television, and reading occasional recreational books.

I am cooking dinner every night.

I am mostly reading and writing, which is what I like anyway.

I have not begun working for charity, running long distance races, knitting, doing calligraphy, or writing The Next Great American Novel…

but thanks to my dear friend who moved to Seattle who loaned me her sewing machine in her absence… I have one crooked, red curtain in my kitchen.

 Give it another three months, maybe I’ll sew up the other one.