Tag Archives: Books

What I’m Into This Week

It ‘s been a while since I wrote these posts. I love them and one of my favorite to write. It’s a journal for me of sorts (duh!) to look back on and remind myself–well–what I was into.

Jane Eyre–It wasn’t until I was almost 30 that I began to read classics. I didn’t read many of the big ones in high school or college. Though it was slow going, I’m loving Jane. I’m loving Charlotte Bronte. I find her character fascinating: she’s part feminist; at times confident, at times insecure; sheltered and supressed and sometimes just plain odd. I’m about 300 or so pages in, but I really look forward to my book club’s discussion–that is if we have one. Mostly it’s just talk of men, sex, jobs, houses, and gossip. I also want to read some analysis of it and maybe watch a BBC or Masterpiece Classic movie version.

I also love the writing. What I love about the classics is the language. It just all sounds so much more sophisticated. The love scenes are so pure and romantic. The character descriptions so blunt (I love the pure honestly of calling Mr. Rochester “an ugly man.”) I find it fascinating that dialogue and language is itself historical and classic. I hated history in school, but as I’ve become older I’m curious about many things and desire to learn more history. This concludes the book section of what I’m into this week (how’s that for segue?).

NBC and the Great The Late Show Debate–When I couldn’t sleep as a kid I turned on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson. (What I really tried to stay up for Letterman, but I’m sure he’s a post for another time.) Though most of the world is keeping abreast on the terrible situation is  in Haiti, I get enough of what is going on NBC. Here’s why: Conan is calling his bosses out for making bad decisions, and I’m jealous.

I’ve always been a Conan fan and was terribly excited he would be on an hour earlier (when I may actually be awake and able to watch it more). Conan’s letter announcing his position was brilliant, classy, and in the right. Sometimes you just don’t mess with tradition, and that tradition is The Tonight Show. Conan has been the nice guy too long, and now he’s pissed and acting out. I’m jealous because that is just what I wish I could do at work. In the five years I’ve been at my organization I’ve watched its demise. The Board and those in senior positions have made tons of mistakes and many have suffered because of it. It’s frustrating and sad and really wish I could pull a Conan because if I don’t change my attitude soon I’ll be begging to be laid off. Get my three to five month payout, go on unemployment, and be forced to figure out what exactly I do want to do next. Even if I have to bag groceries for a couple of months–I’m to the point where I really want out. But I’m also scared because unlike Conan, I won’t get 30 million and I won’t feel secure in this state of the world. It’s a debate I obviously have with myself because I really am scared of what would happen if I did lose my job. And now that I’m totally off topic, let’s move on.

Roger Ebert’s Journal–I’ve always been a fan of the Eb’s (as I pronounce it, da’-eebez). His writing is really creative and thoughtful–be sure to read the entry on food and memory.

NPR’s Monkey See Blog-A must for pop culture lovers. (I secretly wish I was Linda Holmes. What a cool job!)


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What I’m Into This Week: The Women Rock Edition

1. The Help (audible edition). Though I could listen to storytelling podcasts like  The Moth or David Sederis’ reading his own stories in only the way he can, I never thought I would like listening to books to tape. The Help changed my mind. I’m in the 10th hour and I don’t want it to end. A beautiful story of friendship and an intriguing look at 1962 Mississippi, The Help is easily one of the best books I’ve read (or in this case) listened to, in a long, long, time. I absolutely love the main characters: the two black maids Aibilnne and Winny, and 23-year-old white woman who interviews them for a book about their experiences as maids, Skeeter. They are all strong, thoughtful, independently minded, and sensitive human beings. These are women who are destined to become literary heros, at least in my mind.

2. Slates Julia Turner‘s reviews of Mad Men. I think she’s in my mind.

3. The sparky Kelly Ripa look-a-like Det. Andrea Penoyer  and the rest of girls of the TLC’s Police Women of Broward County. As a longtime fan of shows like COPS and it’s perfect counter-part Reno 911, this show has easily become a favorite. It has all the missing teeth, lack of clothing, and trash of COPS, plus crack whores, undercover drug busts, and women kicking ass during the day, but we also their vulnerability as they go home to their families at night.

4. Martha Stewart Encyclopedia of Crafts. If only I had unlimited funds to shop at the craft store. Sigh. Still, it’s Martha Stewart P*rn at it’s best.

Other women who rock (in no particular order): Tina Fey, Tina Turner, Peggy Olson, Rachel Yamagata, Dept. Chief Brenda Lee Johnson, Kate Winslet, and many, many, more.

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Forever Young

Over lunch today I browsed my favorite independent bookstore and came across this beautifully illustrated children’s book. I had to stop myself, as I always have to when I see a cool children’s book, from buying it for my future baby. So I did the next best thing: bookmarked it on Amazon. Which I’m so happy I did because I discovered this:

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What I’m Into This Week

Damages. Glenn Close plays such an evil, manipulative character, yet so awesome to watch I want her on screen the whole time. Though it’s wonderful she’s not because then we wouldn’t see Ted Danson’s egocentric billionaire try to swarm his out of a pending litigation. Or fresh attorney Ellen Parsons played by the beautiful Rose Byrne who is vulnerable, brilliant, naive, and strong all at the same time. This show is so addicting, I’m almost done with season one, so if anyone bother to read this blog, don’t tell me anything. 

Kabul Beauty School.  Author Deborah Rodriguez’s touching memoir of starting a beauty training school in Afghanistan is both a historical and cultural lesson about Afghan women. At times the book is amusing in the way that travel memoirs often speak about cross-cultural differences, surprises and misunderstandings. Then Rodiguez reiterates a conversations or story we hear from one of the Afghan students about life, about marriage, about being a woman and truth and heartbreak insue. Books like this remind me of all that I have to be thankful for and that though women in the U.S. may make .75 to every $1 a man makes, at least we have the freedom to dress, be educated, marry, and be who we want. It makes me want to be brave and do something important with my life to help improve someone elses. 

Roku Netflix player. I don’t have cable, I have netflix. I bought myself the little pre-holiday gift of the Roku so I could watch the “Watch Instantly” selections on Netflix. I’ve only had it hooked up for a couple days, but I’m already addicted. I’ve been watching episodes of 30 Rock, Dead Like Me, and classics, dramas, comedies, fitness videos, and documentaries in the que. Some may complain the Watch Instantly collection isn’t that great, but I like vast collection of documentaries, foreign films, and classics so I’m happy. 

Root Vegetables. Parsnip fries. Butternut Squash. A huge pan of assorted veggies roasted in olive oil and fresh rosemary in the oven. Great for salads or goat cheese pizza. I love to cook in the winter and root vegetables are comfort food.  

What are you into this week?

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Lessons from Gilbert

The fact is human beings come into the world with a passion for control, they go out of the world the same way, and research suggests that if they lose their ability to control things at any point between their entrance and their exit, they become unhappy, helpless, and depressed. 

Stumbling on Happiness by Daniel Gilbert

It occured to me lately that I feel powerless in my life. Maybe it was the “relationship” I was in, or that the world is in such chaos, or that things at work are spiraling out of control with decisions being made about our futures without our knowledge (I’m talkin’ they decicded to stop contributing to our 401K’s five months ago and didn’t tell us) and now we have to interview for the jobs we’ve been doing for years at our organization to see if we are essentially expendable. The word powerless came to mind and I got angry, and I really don’t get angry. I’m more of one those gals who suppresses her anger and instead cries out of frustration. 

I read the above sentence in Gilbert’s book on the train ride home today. Then I reread it. And reread it again. Is it possible we seek control our entire lives? I know it sounds slightly vague, but how do we achieve it in all aspects of our lives so we are not depressed or anxious? My therapist told me recently that we while we may feel powerless-and are in fact in some situations-we can change our perception. 

I also learned in Gilbert’s book today that our frontal lobes hold our ability to foresee our futures. It is what causes us to think about the future which in turn, causes anxiety. Something that I deeply suffer from. I couldn’t help thinking that I wish sometimes I could turn off my frontal lobe and just live in the moment, not having the ability to think about the next.

So, to strangely wrap up the lesson learned today, I wish I could control my frontal lobe, but I can’t, and that makes me kind of depressed.  Maybe I should just keep trying to change my perception. Or maybe I’ll learn more from Part II of Gilbert’s book and keep blogging about it.

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30 While 30

These are the 3 books I’m taking with me on my solo road trip: Swim Naked, Defy Gravity & 99 Other Essential Things to Accomplish Before Turning 30, The Late Bloomer’s Revolution, and How Now: 100 ways to celebrate the present moment. I was just about to pack them in my bag, when I realized they scream QUARTER LIFE CRISIS or maybe that was DEALING WITH HEARTACHE or maybe it was a singsongy CRAZY, or maybe it was an index finger and thumb shaped “L” on the forehead with John Travolta’s wife in Jerry Maguire saying LOSER in her malicious drawn out way that changed the connotation to the word as it was had changed once again from the word being cool thanks to the musical genius Beck.

You still with me? May I ask you why?

Since I blog for myself anyhow I’ll continue.

Strolling through Target yesterday on my 30th birthday I found the Late Bloomer’s book. I knew after reading the first sentence on the back cover I had to buy it to read on my trip. “Amy Cohen imagined that by age thirty she would be juggling a thriving career, a devoted English husband, and two adorable children with shag haircuts.” I knew had to read the memoir of a fellow late bloomer to cheer me up. I’ll write about it if it does (goal 1 for 30th year of life: blog more).

Jo gave me How Now as a gift. I’ve been working on mindfulness, or actually, have been meaning to working on mindfulness for years. What better reading while tucked in a robe at a day spa?

Swim Naked came to me tonight from my neighbor Carrie. I mentioned it was birthday yesterday and while a year late I hope to spawn some ideas from my self-fulling prophecy: 30 While 30.

Mission 1: Vacation by Thyself. Tomorrow I’m off to Milwaukee. At a safe hour and half from home, I’ll stroll the Milwaukee Art Museum by day, and live it up in a 4 star hotel at night (thank you Priceline). Wednesday I’ll go to a famous spa, get massaged, drain my pores in a steam room, envelop myself in a Jacuzzi, swim in a cool pool…I deserve this. (Repeat 5 times). 

I want to hike by the lake and capture the golden leaves in a state park. I want to challenge myself to get a drink at a hotel bar. I want to prove to myself that I am strong enough to travel alone, and have a great time doing so. I know it may sound like a small mission, but it’s a big one for me, and I’m excited about it. Off to a good start.

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What I’m Loving This Week

1. Dan Savage’s Podcast. Wow. Why didn’t I discover this sooner. I must download past episodes of this. In today’s episode he tackled younger woman/older man, kitty blowjobs, a man disturbed about going down on a girl (of which he said something to sort “good thing you’re not gay, because then you’d have to eat ass”), teenage pregnancy and the adult trying to help (“but the fuck out”), and more. He is a comedic genius, and a perfect modern day “Dear Abby” for the relationship and sex defunct. Download it now.

2. Two Fat Ladies on DVD. Jennifer and Clarissa ride around the UK on a motorcycle and sidecar to come to the cooking rescue–whether it be cooking for a girl’s lacrosse team, priests at a cathedral, or a house owned by a Scottish Duke–Jennifer and Clarissa’s humor, charm, and outspokenness, make entertaining television (even if the recipes aren’t really duplicatable, not to mention super unhealthy). Jennifer steal’s the show with her thick, round, black glasses, wit, and tendency of breaking into song, she is like the cool Grandma I never had. They end almost every show sitting out behind the kitchen smoking cigarette’s and drinking a glass of wine, continuing their funny observations of the day. 

3. Animal Vegetable Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver. Okay, I’m cheating here because I finished this book almost 2 weeks ago, but I absolutely loved it. I always love going to the farmer’s market, but now I’m more cognizant about where and how far my beloved fruits and vegetables have to travel to get to grocery stores. So until Winter (or until I join a CSA) every Saturday, I get up and go a week’s worth of fresh goodies. I admire how her and her family took time to build a garden, raise chickens, and have cooking adventures. The books makes you want to eat better, move to the middle of nowhere and grow your own food, and spend entire days in the kitchen with your family making jams, sauces, and chutneys. It is a literary treat.

*I’m going to attempt to make this a weekly “column” if only to keep track for myself what I enjoyed and why. A diary of sorts…kind of like my whole point to having a blog.

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