19 06 2008

Thanks for all the wonderful book suggestions.  To address some of them, I did read “Water for Elephants” and liked it.  I haven’t read any Jodi Picoult but trashy isn’t really my thing, at least not right now (but I can certainly see its place in one’s reading repertoire).  I’m more of a make-me-think-about-big-life-questions-provoked-by-every-day-happenings kinda gal.  I also like funny and quirky (David Sedaris), so the Nick Horny suggestion was right on – I LOVED the High Fidelity movie, and that is one where I think I could actually stand to read the book after loving the movie.

So off I went to the library and came out with two books: Hornby’s “A Long Way Down” (“High Fidelity” was lost) and “Pontoon” by Garrison Keillor.  I’ve been wanting to read one of Keillor’s novels since I discovered I liked A Prairie Home Companion, thus solidifying my inner-80-year-old-man status.  His writing, as well as his talk, is like taking one ball of yarn and unraveling a million of its threads in all different directions, for a long, long time.  It takes some concentration, but it’s well worth it.  It’s exactly what my brain needs to remind me why I love to read, and so I’m starting with that one.

I’ve just finished my first 3 days at my new job – cashier at a very chill locally-owned department store.  I’m happy to say I really like it.  The job is fun (as E. put it: “It’s like playing cashier!”), and the people who work there are very nice.  The customers are in great moods (it’s Cape Cod in the summer) and I just LOVED handing out discounts yesterday for all the Senior Citizens.  I think I can stay a while here until the right teaching gig comes along – which is great because I’ll be eligible for full benefits in the fall.  I’m so happy I made the switch!


Reader’s Block

14 06 2008

I have reader’s block.  There, I can finally admit it.

For many months now I’ve been struggling with finding a good book to read.  I’ve started books on my “to read” list by favorite authors that sound great, only to lose interest after a few chapters.  The unfinished and unappreciated book mocks me as I walk by – I only glance at it and think “soon I’ll get back to you” and I know it’s a lie.

I don’t know if it’s summer and all that comes with it – feeling more energized, being outside, etc.  Or perhaps an excuse is actual reality and I really AM too busy.  I don’t see many crevices stuck in between the many happenings of my day where I would be reading.  But perhaps I’m just not looking hard enough.

I feel incomplete without a book to read.  In times like this, I look back longingly at the H*P days – where I would spend hours (pre-baby) in one of the books with the next one in the series just waiting for me to pick it up.  I always did immediately after finishing one – never skipping a beat.  Where are those books?

I need something, dear fellow readers, that can snap me quickly back into my reading routine.  A good David Sedaris comes to mind (I’ve read “Me Talk Pretty…” and “Naked,” fyi).  Fiction is preferable, unless the non-fiction is extremely light and funny.  I think I also need something fairly current.  If you are inclined to help, please check out my GoodReads to see what I’ve read before.  Any help appreciated!

During which I’ll eat a lot, drink a lot, and answer lots of questions about my career status

21 12 2007

Happy Solstice!

Friday is FINALLY here, and I’m so happy to stop pretending to work to have 11 days off in a row before my final 3 days of work.  We’re schlepping two car loads of stuff to E.’s parent’s house, including our kayaks, to continue getting a jump on our June move.  Will we always be this prepared and organized after we have a child?  Time will tell.

E. is having a hard time being pregnant these days, and I feel so powerless to offer any help.  I can’t help her sleep, I can’t stop the crampy BH contractions, and I can’t make the baby stop kicking her at all hours of the day and night.  I guess that’s why I continue to do what I do – keep the stuff moving on out of our place (donating approximately 80 books today) and keeping on top of other errands.  I will be happy when we are both sitting, feet-up, during Christmas with nothing to do but relax.

I watched the Order of the Phoenix last night and oh my lord, if there was ever a doubt to my HP obsession it’s gone now.  LOVED that film.  I can’t believe I have to wait until November 2008 for the next one, and I might just have to drag my lazy, cheap a*s to the theater to watch it.  I’m currently trying to fill the HP literary void by seeking out other children’s fantasy series books, and currently have the first of two checked out: The Spiderwick Chronicles and A Series of Unfortunate Events.  I’ve also gathered that The Golden Compass is good, and that’s next on my list.  Any other suggestions?  Alas, I think I have to accept the fact that the HP shoes are just too large and too great to be filled.

Happy holidays to everyone – relax, eat, drink and be merry.

I love you, job that allows me to get my coursework done…

11 12 2007

The perfect constellation* of nearing the end of my job and nearing vacation has afforded me ample time to wrap-up my thesis, as well as get some other papers polished and printed. Yae for chill jobs! I CAN’T IMAGINE doing this program while teaching, let alone while having a newborn at home. Again – a perfect constellation of timing, and for that I am so grateful.

Because of all this productivity for school, I’m awarding myself evenings filled with reading, which makes me so, so happy. Recent favs include Middlesex and Catcher in the Rye, the latter being part of my quest to read classics I somehow overlooked while in school, which after reading this realized that’s the exact moment these kind of books should be read. It was alright, but reading gave me the sense of needing to stop in certain sections and have a class discussion on some deeper meaning I was most likely missing. Ah well, I guess I can at least appreciate it for its shocking and “banned-book” status.

Right now I’m in the middle of Eat, Pray, Love, which is a bit of a challenge for me because it’s a memoir, and I’m a bit more into narrative at this point. But the author is witty and interesting, which are required traits for writers of memoirs. It also helps that she writes about food, spirituality and finding oneself, all topics I’m into. A bonus is that I learned that my bestest bud, who lives across the pond, is currently reading it as well, and I can’t wait to discuss certain parts of the book with her, one of our favorite activities.

I’m happy. My scrooge-like fog has lifted, which I think was a combination of PMS (damn, those mood swings keep happening EVERY MONTH!) and the fact that this string of life-changing events is finally about to be tied in its nice, neat little bow. Even a month ago, when the mountain of work on my thesis lay before me, and I had weeks (now 11 days!) of work left, and the holidays had to be dealt with – the string was a mess and I looked at it with disgust. Then I picked it up, organized the hell out of it, and began to tie. First the big loop, then around with the other end and through the whole. Within the next few weeks I’ll be done with my job, done with school, starting to student-teach, and the baby will soon be with us, and two bows will be tied together so pretty and neat and snug.

It’s been a long time com’in, but now it’s here.

*The first time I published this post, I realized I had written “constipation,” a word which I swear I have no idea why my mind told my fingers to type.

Becoming the Path

29 08 2007

It’s always strange when I happen to be reading a book that explores and dissects the very issues that have recently bubbled to the surface of my brain – or it could be that I chose to re-read this favorite because some part of my subconscious knew that reading it would help me work through something. In any case, stars and books aligned, I’ve been mentally immersed in contemplating my relationship to geographic place – that is, re-evaluating what I want or need for myself and my family where I live.

I can link this near-obsessive contemplation to a minor event that happened recently that made me realize what few real and close connections we have to people where we live. But I’d be lying if I said that parts of it haven’t been brewing for a long time – finding it difficult to meet people here and form a sense of community, longing to give our kids the experience of living near relatives that we both had growing up, the lifestyle change of having relatives so close by to help with childcare and general emotional support.

Perhaps the latter two points have only been hypothetical until recently, and therefore the fun of living in a college town won out over making the move toward family. E. has nudged me in the direction of this move for a while, to which I always retorted with, “Move to god’s waiting room, where our neighbors will either be over 55 or will move to their ‘winter homes’ each year?” I then would proceed to tout the endless opportunities for fun in this area – the live music, the restaurants, the political protests, college lectures, the festivals and fairs. All of which we’ve been enjoying less and less of each year either because we are getting older and more boring, or we’ve gotten a bit wiser with money. Still – I remained enthralled with possibility just outside our door if we ever wanted it. I feared taking that away would be the end of fun as I knew it – or rather, the ever-present possibility of fun.

But, in choosing whether or not to move, do I fear the closing up of possibilities around me, or the chipping away of what I consider to be important parts of myself? Which parts of myself are enhanced by, or thrive on, place? How do I identify what parts of a place are the most important for me (and my family) to thrive?

E. and I moved here strictly on the basis of place. We had no jobs and didn’t know anyone here. We chose this area because of its culture (realize this was in relation to near-Northern Maine), outdoor activities, live music, good food, education, and geographic locale to 4 surrounding states, many with similarly-fun activities waiting to be discovered. Not to mention that we could be queer – and queer parents – with little a thought to how we would be treated in most parts of our everyday lives. I fell in love with this place – and thought we’d likely be here forever.

Perhaps love at first sight is also blind – because over the course of 4 years I’ve figured out that this place is not perfect – as of course no place is. We meet friends our age and they move on – to graduate school or to live in some other place better set up for permanence – and I realize the great parts of a college town are also its downfall – people move in, people move out. Our friends have come and gone – and one day I look around and see that what this place has never been able to offer me are lasting relationships and community. And meanwhile age has worked its magic and gone and changed my priorities while I wasn’t looking – and now I long for a sense of community so much I’m mystified as to how anyone finds or creates it. We can’t even leave our cats for a weekend – no one we know well enough to ask them to shove a couple pills down our cat’s throat each day while we are gone. Granted, living on a college campus probably hasn’t helped much, and perhaps if we’d been living in a neighborhood things would be different. And not that I’m holding cat-sitters as the standard, but I immediately get a picture of how hard parenting will be without close connections and a sense of community. I can’t deny that family who we (miraculous as it may be) actually enjoy and are close to provide a ready-made mini-community. Particularly in terms of our kids, E.’s sister-in-law said it best once: “No one takes care of your kids like family.” And I know first-hand it’s true.

And what is it again that I love so much about this place? We’ve maybe seen live music once in the past year, and rarely take advantage of the many offerings this area has, save for some random hikes and pond swims here and there. For the amount of times I take advantage of the “unique” offerings here, I could find those offerings in a new place. And then I’m left with the question: “What parts of our selves depend on place?” More specifically, “Who will I be if I’m in a new place?”

There are, of course, many things I love about the Cape – the beach, the rural-ness, P-town, the tiny unexpected pockets of locally-owned health food stores and activists, not to mention the warm, cozy UU church we were married in. And, of course, E.’s family, who we are very close to. And this is where, for the first time, my thinking shifts from myself to concerns outside of myself, to consider what’s best for my whole family. Perhaps this is the crux of my emotional breakdown the other day – a sort of reckoning with myself that I can no longer afford to only consider mine and E.’s needs – a thought both terrifying and invigorating.

But I fear leaving this place – perhaps because I feel I’ve become it – so much that I fear leaving it would be leaving myself. When we moved here, parts of me were able to be fed on a daily basis just by being here. Would I lose myself if I left this place?

The author of Drinking the Rain struggles with this very question – since she becomes quite a different person when she spends summers in a different place – and worries if those parts of her will remain when she has to move. A wise friend assures her that place has no power to dictate who we are, and quotes the Buddha: “You cannot travel on the path before you have become the path itself.” Her friend assures her:
“Everything you learned here will go with you. And what you haven’t yet learned you’ll be able to discover somewhere else. That’s what it means to be on your path – your understanding will just keep deepening.”

Of course, I am me no matter where I live. Perhaps what we think we need from a place mostly resides within ourselves – we just have to notice and nourish it. And if a place is truly not able to enhance what we value, we can always leave. But I need to trust that I am becoming the path I’ll soon be traveling, and will already have the tools necessary for the journey.

And, I know, the irony that I’ll soon become another young person leaving this place is not lost on me.  At least I’ll fit in really well when I hit retirement age.


15 08 2007

I just finished the final HP book and all I can say is, J.K.R. better write many, many more books.  Wow.  The book has consumed me for the last 4 days, I’ve been thinking about the plot even when I’m not reading it, thinking out the twists and turns as I drift off to sleep.  How does she do it?  Amazing.  And now it’s all over. Sigh.

Our baby shower last weekend was amazing – people are VERY generous and it really is true that (most) people just LOVE an excuse to buy lots of baby stuff.  And it actually is all really cool and cute when you are the one opening the gifts for your own child.  And wearing a sash that says “mom to be.”  I admit I was slightly nervous if any of it would make me feel too much like the “other” mother, but as I sat right next to E. and took turns opening gifts, it all felt fine.  And if she gets a bit more of the attention – then well, she is the one growing this baby!

Friday I’m off to my hometown to reunite with fabulous friends from High School and see some family as well.  A mini-vacation without E., and also my last “hurrah” pre-baby.  Although I have lofty thoughts of drinking in excess, staying up late, and getting into trouble just like the good ‘ole days, I’ll most likely be in bed by 11 and wake up from a 2-glass of wine headache.  Ah, age.

Although I’m staying with my bestest bud instead of with my parents (thank Jesus), I’m sure I’ll have some stories from my family driving me mad, which I do even when I see them for a mere 12 hours.  Stay tuned…

Bad Taste

26 07 2007

New Rule: I’m done with reading books by comedians/talk show hosts/pop politicians (yes, that includes Michael Moore).  I just finished New Rules by Bill Maher, and thought I would love his book since I love his show, but about halfway through I could predict his jokes as having to do with one of his only 3 political stances.  And misogynist date-rape joke aren’t funny.  Ever.

Don’t quit your day job, Bill.  You are better on TV where at least network censorship is good for something.