Archive for August, 2011

August 31, 2011

down in the mouth

Friends, in the words of Meg Murray, I am full of bad feeling today.

Yesterday, I worked for seven hours at two different jobs. Lance had his first day back on the job and I began to feel melancholy. Summer is over, it is sad that we have to return to the hard part of our life where we don’t see each other so much. That instead of getting a ride into town after work, I was stuck taking the bus. That I would have to run an assortment of errands before my appointment rather than outsourcing them to my house-boyfriend. That I couldn’t just call him whenever I wanted to, just to say hi.

Then, I went to the dentist.

I went because I thought I was getting a cavity. It had been almost one year exactly since my last appointment and cleaning, and I thought I found a pretty good deal for a consult, cleaning, and potentially a filling.

You see, I am a person that does not have dental insurance. I missed my first 6 month appointment in 26 years, because I do not have a local dentist or any insurance to entice me to go. But I didn’t wait THAT long, people.

Apparently it was long enough to grow FIVE CAVITIES.

The potential cost to fix my broken teeth was enough to make me weep behind my sunglasses while I walked the mile back to my apartment.

Yes, you see, I used to be That Girl Who Cries While Driving A Car. Now, I am That Girl Who Cries Walking Down the Street, or sometimes That Girl Who Cries on the Green Line.

I just watched this video about becoming an adult and it helped me think about why I am so upset.

The crushing monotony of brushing and flossing every day, of going to the dentist when I am supposed to…

… and the paralyzing terror that I CANNOT EVEN SUCCEED AT KEEPING MY TEETH ANCHORED IN MY OWN MOUTH.

So yes, I’m going to cry all the way down Huntington Ave, because life is not fair, good things don’t always happen to me, I am underemployed and underinsured, and my teeth hurt.

August 29, 2011

this is what happened during Irene

1. We cleaned our apartment pretty much top to bottom. And rearranged the bedroom.

2. We did grocery shopping early and bought non-perishable, stove-free dinners (read: farmer’s market tomatoes + basil on a french baguette with mayo) and bottled water.

3. I stayed up too late drinking a Hurricane or two.

4. The next morning, I couldn’t sleep off my hurricane after-effects because the wind was being too windy.

5. Lance and I made an executive decision to get the heck out of bed because the windy wind was bending a large tree toward our bedroom window with increasing vigor. (Note: the tree is still standing, although we monitored it closely throughout the day)

6. I cried about forgetting to put in our cold-brewed iced coffee together before bed (see: Hurricanes), and Lance brewed me some espresso.

7. We ventured out of the house in the afternoon to find that life was still going on. People were, in fact, dining at restaurants. What was surprising: people were strangely interested in eating the food at 7-11. Like, every person in there was really excited about 7-11 pizza and wings and such. (Note: we were buying energy drinks and dishwasher soap)

8. After it became evident that the power was *probably* not going out, we did all the laundry, folded it all and put it ALL AWAY. I need a hurricane every Sunday, people.

9. I started to contemplate how stupid weather reporting is. I am all for being sensible and safe, but Weather.com was getting a little ridiculous. It seemed our forecast was getting more and more favorable as Irene approached, but Weather.com wasn’t like “Great news!” it was like “(things aren’t looking as bad) BUT YOU STILL BETTER BEWARE OF CATASTROPHIC DEVASTATION!! AAAAGH!!! DOOM!

Even today – it’s gorgeous and sunny, but Weather.com wants me to REMEMBER THE FURY!!! IT’S NOT GONE YET!!

10. Ummmm yeah. Things got real boring from there. I pretty much couldn’t put down this one book I was reading.

You know the feeling. The book becomes your life. Either you’re reading it, or you are laying around bored and thinking, “I should probably just go back to reading,” and you finish a chapter and don’t stop to think “maybe I should take a break,” you just keep flipping the pages and then it’s time for bed but maybe you could read one more chapter?

Surely I don’t need to tell you that this is best achieved on a rainy, lazy, hurricainey day.

August 26, 2011

this one time…

…we went on a long road trip and ended up feeding Japanese peanuts to seagulls for about an hour on Galveston Island.

… one of my friends had a cute little backyard wedding.

… there was an orange cat that lived on Lance’s back porch.

… Lance and I both looked twelve.

Okay, fine. Lance looked twelve, I looked ridiculous.

August 25, 2011

it’s a disaster

So, on Tuesday, I felt my first earthquake.

I’m sure you heard all about it, and even my family in Michigan felt it, so yeah,¬† not the biggest deal. I was by myself in my 3rd floor office, so I thought I was having some kind of anxiety-related dizziness/hallucination or something, but the Internet quickly put me in my place.

Tonight, we might get some severe thunderstorms with hail. Great, just what I need on the night I have Restaurant Week reservations for dinner.

Oh, but later? Later this weekend, we might be visited by HURRICANE IRENE. As in, this Hurricane Irene may pass over Boston or Western Mass and leave us in its wake.

Oh, and sometimes, the eastern side of a hurricane (us), can create tornadoes.

!!!!!!

So I’m thinking about non-perishable dinners, buying bottled water and candles, and buying booze.

I already have 10 or 12 books from the library to read, plus THE LAST BOOK OF HARRY POTTER…

But I’m thinking that I might die anyway, because this book I read once? Gave me a mortal phobia of natural disasters. Some of you might have heard of it.

If you haven’t read Life As We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer, I would not recommend it as a “The Power is Out” read.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to stock up on batteries, penicillin, and Xanax.

August 24, 2011

secretly a dirty hippie

The following adjectives are fairly accurate descriptions of my attitude and demeanor:

  • boring
  • safe
  • homebody
  • conservative (despite any political leanings)
  • introverted
  • not a risk taker
  • nerdy

Some might go as far to refer to me as

white bread

However,

I not-so-secretly kind of have wanted to go to

Burning Man

for a number of years now.

Just thought you should know.

August 23, 2011

three things i am thinking about lately

Thing #1: Somebody please pay me

In nine months, I’d like to be able to find a pretty stellar job.

I am not really picky/sure about what that job should be at this point in time. Something full time with benefits. Something doing something with books and kids and books for kids. Or not. Whatev.

I have a solid resume, but it’s going to be a goldarn competitive job market in nine months, so I’m wondering if there’s anything I should be doing now to make me look like a You Can’t Let This Girl Go kind of candidate.

I mean, anybody who has ever worked with me knows that I have all the qualities of a top notch employee: I barely ever get sick, I am a pushover for covering other people’s shifts, if you need help with something I will help you, I like to be creative, I am entertaining, I am usually on-time.

But those things don’t come off in a cover letter/resume. So what does?

Things I am thinking about:

  • Another internship?
  • A special project? Maybe a new book-ish kind of blog?
  • Getting more involved with ALA? Planning to attend annual for job interviews?

What can I do in nine months that will be fun as well as valuable for the old portfolio?

Thing #2: Busy Busy Bee

This semester, I am taking two classes and working three jobs.

Job #1 has me at work 20 hours a week

Job #2 has me at work 9 hours a week: a night and a weekend

Job #3 has me at work 6 or 8 hours a week

Class #1 is Library Technology for 3 hours a week

Class #2 is Science Fiction and Fantasy for Children for 3 hours a week

I will be out of the house for more than 40 hours a week, plus homework!

It’s not all bad: Job #3 will give me some hands-on teaching experience, which could be useful for Thing #1, all three jobs are at my dear old school, Class #2 only has two (longer) papers instead of bunches of smaller ones, Job #3 willing, I will not be working any 12 hour days, and an extra 300 or so on the monthly paycheck.

I am, however, worried about general physical and emotional exhaustion.

Stress-management tips from last semester that worked:

  • Liberal application of Excedrin, IcyHot, and caffeine
  • Fun Friday Nights
  • Guarding my Saturdays (i.e. no schoolwork or setting foot on campus

Busy-bee time-management tips from this summer that worked:

  • Making progress on schoolwork every day
  • Managing tasks in an especially nerdy spreadsheet
  • Breaking up work time by hours (four hours to do work? do A for an hour then B for an hour then C etc…)

I just want to not have a Thanksgiving-time breakdown like last year.

Thing #3: This Boy

I have gotten used to having this certain someone around the apartment.

He’s there when I get home. He’s sometimes up before I leave for work. He drives me here, picks me up there, sometimes we go to bed at the same time.

Tonight, we are picking up our farmshare at the market and then going to trivia in the evening.

He’s back to school next week.

I’m going to have some withdrawals.

August 22, 2011

really me

The truth is, I can’t decide how forthcoming I like to be here.

In writing and in life, equally, I strive for authenticity. I try not to posture, to make things look better or worse than they are, to manufacture a written or visual self that is too far from what I see in the mirror and what goes on in my head.

I don’t want to spend a lot of time or energy trying to be somebody else.

However, I am starting to believe that who I am is a person with a lot of embarrassing habits, flaws, and insecurities that I’d rather not admit to anyone, much less the general public of the internet.

So if I am not interested in writing without authenticity but I am also not interested in “airing my dirty laundry,” then what does that leave me with?

A lot of time spent thinking about things but not a lot of time writing about things.

I will tell you this:

This is the time of year – these precious few weeks between semesters – that the hard work has to be done. I have two weeks to squeeze in my last summer activities, to clear my slate for Fall, to make decisions about how I want to spend the next four months of my life.

I might seem like a girl who just Makes Plans and then forgets about them.

That isn’t entirely accurate.

I am a girl who Makes Plans and Tries Really Hard and then Usually Fails.

I am usually okay with that. I really am. When I abandon yet another schedule or planner for something better, I don’t get discouraged. I recognize that the planning itself is therapeutic and sometimes I find myself in need of a geeky old spreadsheet I made 4 or 5 years ago and am glad I have a chest of different tools to get my brain straight. When I lose interest in yet another attempt to overhaul my health and eating, I notice the small, effortless changes that I learned in even a short period of time: I can now eyeball a tablespoon of salad dressing, I now eat cereal from the smaller bowl, I figured out how to enjoy vegetables for breakfast, I can drink coffee without sugar. Even if I didn’t succeed in my goals, I am usually better for the trying.

But I’m not okay with writing about my failures.

So in order to maintain my feeling of authenticity, I get blog-shy about certain topics, I make lists but never tell you what happened.

I don’t want you to know how deeply self-involved I am, how intensely I scrutinize myself and my life, how upset I get when things don’t go well. How constant life-revision is Me on a Good Day and exhausted blitheness and despair is Me on a Bad Day and me not saying anything is Me Just Trying to Figure Out Any One Single Thing.

So that’s where I’m at.

Making plans I might not stick to, making decisions I might not like, making believe I can maintain some semblance of control over the tiny sliver of the universe that is me and my little life.


August 17, 2011

Summer Vacay 2011

I think that smart bloggers do some extra credit writing before they leave for vacation, providing uninterrupted reading pleasure for their devoted readers.

I prefer to disappear into the abyss for weeks at a time.

I have, however, settled into a stable location within said abyss: my parent’s home. I have both some time on my hands and regular internet connection. Huzzah! This is what vacation is all about, right?

So this is what I have been up to, for the curious:

Day One: Leave Boston,

arrive in Cleveland.

Eat grilled cheese sandwiches and marvel over the cheapness that is Midwestern cocktails.

Sleep.

Day Two:

Hang out in Cleveland:

Eat dinner with The Roommate’s family and board games + wine + debauchery.

Sleep. (WAY TOO LATE)

Day Three:

Drive to Cedar Point.

Realize quickly that I am becoming a bit too old to enjoy Cedar Point…

… or at least becoming a bit too old to enjoy Cedar Point on zero sleep and a vague hangover.

Drive to Jackson through a storm. Parents house has no power!

Take out Chinese and hanging around in the dark. Sleep.

Wake up at 4 a.m. with all the lights in the room on.

Day Four:

Drive to Oakland Township.

Eat some barbecue food at my aunt and uncle’s house.

Drive to Northbranch.

Eat some barbecue food at Lance’s mom’s house.

Sleep.

Day Five:

Drive into Lapeer so Lance can make some phone calls.

Drive back to Northbranch.

Drive to Saginaw to have lunch with Lance’s Mom’s boyfriend.

Drive back to Northbranch.

Watch a movie.

 Sleep.

Day Six:

Sleep in (finally).

Drive to Flint. Walk around the mall.

Drive to Lansing. Eat at the Tuba Museum Restaurant.

Hang out at the Lake Lansing Mall until sister gets off work.

Drive to Jackson.

Sleep.

Day Seven:

Wake up. Drive sisters places.

Finish reading Harry Potter 5.

Watch the same episode of Master Chef twice before noon.

Buy a salad from Panera.

—–

I will be stationed here in Jackson until Saturday morning. At that time, we will return to our New England abode, to work, to regular internet access and not spending 50% of our life in a car, and to my sweet, sweet kitty

August 10, 2011

June Reading Round-up

June…

Came in like a lion, went out like… Harry Potter.

This is woefully overdue. I hope I remember any single thing about any of these books. Please don’t fault me for fudging weird details.

1. The Last American Man by Elizabeth Gilbert

This was one of my “trapped on a plane” books! But what a great book to be trapped on a plane with! I really enjoyed this book for three reasons. Reason #1: Eustace Conway – “The Last American Man” – is damn interesting. He kept hundreds of turtles in his backyard as a child. He left home at 17 and lived in a teepee while he put himself through college. He rode horseback across the United States with his brother. Much like my affection toward Unlikely Memoirs, I also like Unlikely Biographies… even though these two imaginary genres have kind of an inverse relationship. Unlikely Memoirs are normal people writing their life stories in interesting ways : Unlikely Biographies are profiles of people who are relatively normal (read: not famous), but have fascinating lives nonetheless.

I am getting confused.

Anyway. Reason #2: Gilbert’s biography walks the line between capturing Eustaces’s cool, fascinating-ness and showing the dirty-underbelly that make humans HUMAN. The book spends a lot of time commenting on the effect Eustace has on others – he’s incredibly charismatic – but Gilbert also talks about his character flaws that keep him from getting everything he wants. For this reason (and other more obvious ones), this book reminds me of John Krakauer’s Into the Wild – which is a high compliment!

Reason #3: Say what you will about Gilbert’s writing tone – I know it rubs people the wrong way – but I absolutely eat it up. Reading this book is like your best friend telling you about this amazing person they met. There’s an intimacy and definite passion in her writing. She could probably write about dirty socks and I’d want to read it. But to each his own!

National Book Award Finalist 2002

2. That Summer by Sarah Dessen

The first on my endeavor to Re-read Every Sarah Dessen Book in order. I’ve actually read this one at least twice, so I’m more familiar with it than others.

Everyone (myself included) talks about how reading one Sarah Dessen book is like reading Every Other Sarah Dessen book. Her books do have a similar aesthetic, often follow a particular narrative structure (messed up girl meets boy, boy helps girl not be so messed up), and share locations and characters. True true true. But re-reading these older titles, I am suprised by how non-romancey they are, or at least how the “heart-throb” love interests take a backseat to other stuff going on in the foreground of the novel.

This book, Dessen’s first, doesn’t even HAVE a love interest, really. The narrator, Haven, is a bit preoccupied with her older sister’s ex-boyfriend, but never in an actual romantic capacity. This story is all about Haven’s relationship with her older sister, and both sister’s reactions to a parental divorce. There’s a kind of spooky side plot about a local girl who became famous as a model but who had a mental breakdown and had to move home, too. A lot more than just boy-meets-girl.

3. Carrots ‘N’ Cake by Tina Haupert

I generally like books by bloggers. I don’t know what this means about my literary tastes, but I really do enjoy the “blogging” writing style, whatever that is. I like seeing how the writer’s personal style changes when confronted with a longer form of prose.

I whipped through Dooce’s It Sucked and then I Cried over one Christmas break, loved Girl’s Gone Child‘s Rockabye as a First Book After the Semester’s Over, savored Orangette‘s A Homemade Life while vacationing in DC, and am slowly giggling my way through Pioneer Woman‘s awfully silly Black Heels to Tractor Wheels.

However, I am not sure that Haupert’s blogging “personality” really translates well to book form. It could be that she keeps a food/fitness blog and not a personal blog, but I was disappointed in the lack of narrative in her book. It’s a fine book – well written and a lot of interesting content – but what it boils down to in the end is really basic fitness information aimed at those who are just embarking upon fitness journeys. No eye opening info, for me anyway, and not enough narrative content to keep me interested.

I will still continue to enjoy Haupert’s blog, but I just don’t think I’m the right reader for this particular book.

4. All These Things I’ve Done by Gabrielle Zevin

I told you about how when I visit my parents, I can always count on an unexpected book to grab my attention, usually from its abandoned position on a coffee table? Never a book that another family member is reading, of course. That would be mean!

Ahem.

Anyway, there is a second book phenomenon that I almost forgot about when I was at home in May: my mother’s occasional influx of Advanced Reading Copies! Yay librarians!

This was an ARC written by an author who wrote two other books I’ve enjoyed – Elsewhere, a book about the afterlife, and Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac, a book about what would happen if your memory from age 11-17 and what you would think about yourself.

All These Things I’ve Done, however, is a dystopia.

Big suprise, right?

I am about dystopia-d out, but I brought this all the way from Michigan to Boston so I thought I might at least try to read it. The dsytopian premise was interesting – class/power structures had gotten out of hand in America, and the government has stepped in to regulate, but of course have regulated some other stuff too, like declaring a prohibition on coffee and chocolate. The narrator, Anya, is a part of a mafia family that owns an overseas chocolate factory, but her parents have both died and left her and her two siblings in the care of their dying grandmother. Anya is kind of on the fence about her family – she loves them with fierce loyalty, but at the same time, their illegal doings eventually got her father killed – but she is managing to care for her siblings without involving herself with them too much. Things become more complicated when she is accused of poisoning her ex-boyfriend with a bar of tainted chocolate. And of course, things become even MORE complicated when she falls in love with the new kid in town – the District Attorney’s son.

There was some horrible cliffhanger in anticipation of a trilogy. I have completely repressed it from my mind, apparently. Which also could speak to my overall opinion of the book: it was a fine book, but had some annoying patterns. I didn’t really buy Anya’s switch from hating Win to conducting a torrid affair. I thought that her attitude throughout the book was kind of haughty and not particularly endearing. And can we write some more standalone books, people? Not everything needs to be a trilogy. And not every author needs to write a dystopia.

I am awfully testy.

5. Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver

I think that I could read this book every year for the rest of my life and be happy. This year, I read it at just the best time: June, when the farmer’s market is about to open, when you can finally spend some time outdoors, when you can actually start eating fresh, local produce instead of dreaming about it.

The first time I read this book, it was February in Michigan. Don’t do that.

For those who are behind the times, this is a book about feeding your family with locally (and often personally) grown food as a way of life. It is one of my favorite books because it is exactly the kind of life I wish I had. I would like nothing better than to become Barbara Kingsolver, ASAP.

Also, can I plug the audio recording of this book for a moment? Read by the author. It makes for a personal, lovely, listening experience.

6. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J. K. Rowling

So, I got this notion about re-reading all the Harry Potter books in anticipation of the movie.

Spoiler alert: I haven’t seen the movie yet. (whuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuups)

Anyway, I have read this first volume the most – probably four times now – and I am always shocked to remember exactly how much it reads like standard juvenile fiction. New kid comes to a new school, finds adventure, happy ending!

Never a bad read, but always feels like grunt-work to get through to the longer novels.

Side story: in an attempt to acquire the most random, unmatched collection of this series, I bought a copy of this book for 50 cents at a thrift shop.

What I didn’t notice – my copy ended on page 179.

7. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J. K. Rowling

The action picks up! Harry’s second year of school, and things get a bit more interesting, thematically and plotwise. I like how Rowling introduces the idea that Harry being a celebrity at school doesn’t necessarily mean he is well-liked. I also liked how Tom Riddle’s back story become relevant to the story.

Again, Adventure —>Dumbledore spends way too many pages telling Harry what everything meant about what just happened to him —> Gryffindor Wins The House Cup!

I don’t even remember if they actually did win the cup that year, but they might as well have. Happy Endings all around.

I also liked the orchestra of musical saws at the ghost party.

8. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J. K. Rowling

I am not really up on my HP research, but I would be willing to wager that this is the book where Rowling was like, “Hey, I think I’m really onto something here. Let’s turn this into something epic.”

The time turning plot really annoys me because I think the book/movie is going to be over BUT THEN IT’S NOT. wtf.

I did, however, cry when Harry sees himself and thinks its his father.

That is just so sad.

8 books read in June

(Oh, not too shabby.)

63 in 2011

January |February| March | April | May

August 9, 2011

hitting the road

It is true that 9 days out of 10, I do not feel like an adult. On 9 days, I am some kind of woman-child hybrid.

I blame grad school.

But there is nothing like executing a ROAD TRIP to turn my day into the 1 out of 9!

Leaving town for more than a few days is like an endless parade of adult responsibilites.

There are things to do around the house (when you are working 8 hours/day):

  • All The Laundry! And putting away All The Laundry!
  • Throwing out the potentially rotting things from the fridge
  • General cleaning so you don’t feel as if you have returned to a complete wasteland when you eventually arrive at home
  • Taking out the trash and recycling
  • Cleaning out the kitty litter with thoroughness

There are ERRANDS that you have to run (during business hours when you are working 8 hours/day):

  • Return all the potentially overdue library books
  • Buy appropriate car snacks
  • Obtain cash for tolls
  • Purchase other random travel things (Excedrin, more kitty litter, fluids for your car)

There are things to PACK!

  • Cooler full of deliciously prepared snacks
  • Clothing, clean and folded
  • Books/other entertainments
  • iPods full of new CDs and playlist

There are ARRANGEMENTS to be made!

  • When are we leaving, when are we coming back, and where are we going in between?
  • Who are we staying with on what day and how are we getting to and from the places we have to go?
  • Who will eat our farmshare?
  • Who will check in on our poor abandoned cat?
  • Who will do all the ERRANDS and the CLEANING and the PACKING????!!!

The person who has to take care of all this nonsense?

Me.

And my reward at the end of it all?

Being trapped in a car for an extended period of time.

And THIS is why I’m never geeked about vacation.

It’s much more relaxing to stay home and be a woman-child.

The End.