Taking Stock: March 2020

Taking Stock

Making:

I mean, I wish. I’m thinking about taking apart an old laptop but I’m very nervous.

Reading: The 6th Extinction.  I don’t know why it is taking me forever, but it is.  It is this year’s One Book, One Chicago book.  Every time I sit down to read it, I make it like 1-3 pages before I have to get up and do something else.

Looking: Old. So very old. I don’t think I’m aging well at all. I don’t feel like a “new 40” that is really the new 30. I feel (and look) like an old 40. That has 20 years left before I retire and 23 before I die.

Listening:

I’m listening to The God of Small Things. It’s a Booker-Man Prize winner. I started it back in December and just ran out of steam. It’s good so far- but definitely has a “100 years of Solitude” feel.

Wishing: Running were easier.  I bought some new running shoes last week.  The weather is starting to turn here… so running outside might be nice.  I just wish I were better at it.  And that it were easier.  Really wish I could be one of these gazelle runners who just through their shoes on and go out for an easy five mile run an hour.  But that is not me.

Enjoying: I finally went to the Chicago Institute of Art this week.  Only been wanting to visit it for 7 years.  It was pretty cool.  I can see why it is so highly regarded… a lot of Manet and Monet, some Cezanne.  And a gigantic display of Arms and Armor… which Nico really liked.  He also got a kick out of this one, because he recognizes it. 

Loving: my planner. I love the Hobonichi Cousin, but had a hard time adjusting to the paper-where ink dries so very slowly. Also, the grids are so small. Was forced to get a fancy multi pen with 0.3 mm nibs. Like those white and blue pens from the 1980s with the four inks.

Only mine’s from Japan…

Hoping: my new boss wants me to do all the trainings this spring and summer. I am lobbying to do an intro to digital humanities workshop at Oxford this summer. In case you were wondering if I could be any more insufferable. Am hoping to go to one of the areas my distant ancestors were from to go to an old pub and have a drink, which I think my mom would have liked.

Coveting: While I still love winter, I’ve now reached the point of winter where I miss Florida beaches.

The Winter Doldrums

I am feeling a certain kind of way.

I can’t decide what my funk is right now. The house is a disaster area. Like it hasn’t been properly cleaned in months. Nico’s room looks like a tornado hit it. I don’t want to do any work. I want to create, but I have no space to create.  I want to garden, but its winter. I want to cook, but I am trying to eat keto and keto is boring AF. I hate the music I have been listening to, but I don’t want to listen to other kinds of music.  I really hate the books I have been reading.  I want to go camping, but it’s winter. I want to watch baseball, but its winter.  I want to pick berries and ride my bike, but again, winter.

Frankly, I have been struggling with this blog and the extent to which I am wasting time.  If I don’t think about this particular space and think more broadly about how people do what I want this blog to be, then I would have to answer truthfully that people don’t do this anymore. Blogging. It is such a holdover from the 2000s.  Like, what was a blog even? What a weird thing. To write your thoughts and ideas in a specific place with no limits… with the general expectation that people would read it and would comment on it and you could build a little community of people who read blogs like yours.

I also came across Mighty Networks, which made me feel even worse about wanting something big from this blog. There was an article or something I read on the site that was like, “Don’t start a blog in 2018” and I was like, “What if I started a blog in 2017?” Uh.

I agreed with so much of it. I just… I don’t know. I don’t see myself being an Instagram celebrity. I mean, I think you’re probably doing it wrong if you follow more people than you have followers. But, it feels self-indulgent to write a blog now- particularly when much of what I am interested in is doing stuff that is on my life list. I get hyped as shit to think about and do that. Work on SEO? And network? And make Twitter and Instagram friends? Ugh. God. No. Please.

And ultimately, what I bring to the table here, isn’t anything really ground breaking. It is not novel.  And it definitely isn’t creative.  Basically I am an aggregator of ideas: take Maggie Mason’s interest and efforts toward her life list.  Add Tim Ferriss’s hacks for life (pay people to do shit that doesn’t help you do stuff you want to do. Also, say no.) Add that to my mom’s method of: don’t know how to do something? Figure it out, bitch!

What I want? I want a community like Go Mighty was (I don’t know if there is a relationship between Go Mighty and Mighty Networks. It is probably worth finding out).

I don’t know what is wrong with me right now.  At work, I fluctuate between being like, “Holy shit, I worked 10 hours today.  And could easily have worked another 10 without even noticing” and “Have I really been at work for only 2 hours?  I feel like I have been there all day.”  At home, I fluctuate between, “I have so much time to do things” to “Ugh, its 6pm, almost bed time.  I can’t get anything done today.”

Maybe the problem isn’t me.  Maybe someone is messing with my timeline.  That could happen.  Right?

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When people in the past have asked me what kind of insane person I am to move from Florida to here, I have confided, conspiratorially, that the trick to surviving Chicago winter is to GTFO in February.  February is definitely the time to leave.  Because with a shot of some place warmer, some place greener, some place beachier, and sunnier, one can make it to summer here, which is when the fun starts.

Maybe it would be good to remember my own advice.

Taking Stock-Volume 1

Both Pip and Maggie are taking stock this month.  I thought I would get in on the action.

Taking Stock Volume 1

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Making : I made bread for the first time in the bread maker this month.  I used an old bread mix, which had old yeast.  Because I had some new yeast, I just subbed that in for the old.  Of course, Genius McDumbass here didn’t bother to check if it was the right amount.  Guess what happened to my dough?  Overproofed itself out of the bread bin and burned on the bottom of the maker.

Also, it would be great if we could get a GBBO episode that had a challenge using bread makers.

Drinking : Strawberry Limeade from Sonic.  One of my favorite drinks.  Of all time.

Reading : OffShore by Penelope Fitzgerald.  It is slow.  It is a short book, but damn, it is slow.  I am hoping that all the Booker prize books are not this slow.  I hope that I didn’t make a bad decision to read them all.

Trawling : Next month we are going to drive to Texas for my family’s winter holiday trip.  I have been trying surprise Dave by having a couple of good books to listen to in the car. We might even have enough time for two.  After listening to NPR segments on it last year, we seemed to agree that The Emperor of All Maladies  might be a good place to start.  But then, I see that Audible has The Boys in the Boat and The Fleet at Flood Tide: America at Total War in the Pacific, 1944-1945both of which look like his speed.

Wanting : This planner/workbook: Your Best Year 2017: Productivity Workbook and Creative Business Planner by Lisa Jacobs.  Normally, the imposed structure of a workbook grates me the wrong way- like, don’t tell me how much space I need to write my goals and dreams!!  But then I started thinking about getting the digital file and basically just using it as prompts to write into a fancy notebook, which would allow me to practice hand lettering and penmanship.  Also, this would give me permission to buy a new fancy notebook.

Looking : At dress patterns.  I think I have decided to make a dress or two during winter break.  See, I appreciate and understand the usefulness of dresses (only one piece of clothing to concern oneself with for work), but my body is just too weird.  My arms are too long, by boobs are too big, my tummy isn’t all that flat, which wouldn’t be a problem, except I got that powerlifter booty (#teamsquatsfordays!).  So all clothing is hard to fit.  I had a really nice dark navy LL Bean shirtdress that I loved, but it faded under the arms (I guess from my super powerful and potent sweat?)  I am just nervous that I am going to spend a lot of time making a dress that I am going to hate because I am just a baby ninja sewer.

Deciding : A couple of weeks ago, the temperature gauge in my car spiked and the engine started steaming.  I thought I might need some new coolant, but didn’t fix the problem.  I know it sounds ridiculous to be thinking about junking an 11 year old vehicle.  But it is a beat to shit Kia.  It has been really good to me.  I have had,virtually no problems with it.  At 150K+ miles, it still has its original transmission.  Can you even believe that?  It is just that it feels unnecessary for Dave and me to both have cars, when we live across the street from a CTA station serviced by a train that drops me off next to my work.  So I have to decide what to do with my car.  Let it go to the junk yard in the sky or try to keep it going?

Waiting :  I am waiting (so patiently) for the notebook that I ordered from Cognitive Surplus to get here.  My current planner, an XL hardcover with gridded pages from Moleskine is almost full- which is a massive accomplishment.  Normally, I stick with a planner and a system for 4-5 months, tops, before flipping the script and going with a new planner/system.  In any case, we are headed to Miami to see my in-laws later this month, and I wanted to have my new planner to work on, because it is apparently frowned upon to sleep for 14 hours a night when you are not a toddler.

I am so nervous about this new notebook.  The pages are blank, which makes me skittish.  I have a hard time writing in a straight line.  But I am hoping that the freedom of not having lines will be enough for me to not worry about lines.

Liking : Since my trip to Paris in September, I have been slightly obsessed with Chocolate Croissants.  I have had several from Whole Foods, Starbucks, and Le Pain Quotidien.  The ones from Starbucks are the worst of the bunch, which is surprising, because generally, I like most of their food.  I wish I knew more about baking so I could put my finger on what it is that is different.  Maybe theirs are not made with real butter?

Wondering : If I can watch previous seasons of GBBO on the PBS Passport thing they have going on now.  Dave and I tried to watch an episode of Finding Your Routes a couple of weeks ago, but needed access to the Passport in order to do so.  I signed us up, but haven’t had a chance to see if back episodes of GBBO are on it.

Pondering : Watching the Great Gatsby.  I just finished listening to the audiobook (narrated by Jake Gyllenhal).  It was okay.  I can kinda see how the literary tools in the story made it stand apart from much of what had come before.  There was some elegance to the story- how a lie caused the death of a person who had built his life on a set of lies and misconceptions.  And the ironic sadness in amassing a fortune for one’s self, but dying alone, without the one thing that you wanted.  Like, yeah, I get it.  I just am not sure I would put it up there with the greatest books/stories I’ve ever experienced.

Regardless, the version that is on Netflix has Robert Redford and Mia Farrow.  Or I go to Amazon and watch the Leo DiCaprio one.  I don’t see me watching this movie twice, so I am going to have to pick one.  I am not saying that I think DiCaprio is a bad actor, but I feel about him like I feel about The Great Gatsby.  Like, it works, sometimes.  But he’s not my favorite.  But compared to a young Robert Redford?

Listening : I took off a couple of days in the middle of this week.  I wanted to use the days to recharge and refuel.  I know it’s awful to say this because, its not like I work in a factory on a line or in a mine or something.  I go to my office and sit on my ass for 7+ hours a day.  So it’s not hard work-but this is the second quarter since January that I have taught two classes on top of my usual work obligations, so I have been feeling run down.

Anyhoo, being “off” at home has meant that I am doing work stuff, but I am doing it in my pjs and listening to music I own on my laptop (rather than pandora at work).  Right now, I am listening to old Counting Crows (August and Everything After).

Considering : Voting early.  Basically if I am going to vote early, it has to happen today.  Tomorrow, Monday or Tuesday isn’t going to work as well.  But it would mean I might not get a nap today.

Buying : All the Christmas presents!!  I think I pretty much narrowed down for gifts for my nieces and nephews.  It’s tough, because with four kids, they have, at some point, had ALL THE TOYS.   It’s ridic.  I have settled on gifts for three of the 4. But damn, I don’t have the mental bandwidth.  Could I just do Cubs shirts?  Doesn’t EVERYONE want a Cubs shirt?

Marvelling : Grace Bonney of Design Sponge recently published a lovely looking new book called “In the Company of Women“.  All reports point to be it being beautiful.

Needing : This lovely cake slicer.  I need it.  So much.  I have always wanted to make a layer cake.  I have never done it because I felt like it wouldn’t be very stable.  I like my odds with this guy.

Questioning : Why people are theorizing and questioning everything about Westworld.   Dudes, I am part of the GOT and TWD fandom.  I ugly-cried when Opie died in Sons of Anarchy.  I know only one thing when it comes to dramatic television: DO NOT GET ATTACHED TO ANYONE.  It will end in heartbreak.

Wearing : Wearing sweatpants.  It’s sweatpants weather and I am so glad its back.  Don’t judge me.

Noticing : Fall is happening.  The leaves are turning and falling.  It is my favorite time of the year.  My absolute favorite.img_9790

Admiring : Nate Silver.  I don’t know how he does what he does.  I kinda feel like the man deserves a vacation.

Bookmarking : StumbleUpon.  I am learning more about it.  Decided that until I can start blogging more the way I want to (when I have more time over Christmas and in the Spring), that I can at least figure out how promotion and influencing works on StumbleUpon.  This works out well for someone like me, how has a hard time staying focused on the task at hand.  I definitely needed another distraction in my life.  🙂

Disliking : Trump.  Always Trump.  Gotta say it now.  If he wins, I will get tossed in an internment camp for my hippie, liberal, socialist, pinko ways.

Feeling : Excited about going to Miami later this month for Thanksgiving.  I am hoping (desperately) to see a good friend from grad school who lives down there.  Aside from that, looking forward to slowing down a bit and doing some reading.

Helping : My son’s AYSO soccer season just wrapped up the fall session.  I volunteered by refereeing.  I hate it.  I absolutely hate refereeing.  There is so much to hate about it.  But it is one of those things that needs to be done.  Was thinking about whether or not I want to do it next year.  The organization always needs coaches and referees.  I am wondering, given my experience as a coach, if it would be better to coach.  Like, how much fun would it be to coach a bunch of little girls?

Hearing : Fireworks last night after the Cubs won.  Dave and I were super irresponsible and woke our seven year old up when they won.  The fireworks being set off across the street from our place definitely did not help us go to sleep.  

Celebrating : The Cubs won last night.  I cannot even. It is rare that things in real life work out the way they would if it was a movie.  Last night was an exception.  That was a movie ending for the Cubs, for David Ross.  It was just lovely.

Embracing : An awful haircut I got.  I probably shouldn’t be too pissed about it, because my original plan in being there was for her to fix my color (I may or may not have used a different dye that made me look more like Ryan Lochte than I would have preferred).  She did a brilliant job on my color.  But the cut has layers on top, instead of under.  The result is that my haircut is dangerously reminiscent of Michelle Akers’ from the early 90s.  Which would be okay if I were as badass as she was.  But I am not.

2016 Reading Challenge

One thing that I try to do as much as possible with my life list items, is to bundle them into larger goals or tasks.  Like killing two birds with one stone.  For example, I really want to put together annual family scrapbooks/photo books, not only because it would be cool to be able to look back through them (and because the older I get, the more I question my memory :), but also, it would allow me to get rid of the ton of scrapbooking papers, punches, stickers, and washi tapes that I have collected over the last 10 years.  Honestly, I have no emotional connection to that stuff- yet I move it from place to place because it would seem seriously wasteful to trash it.  Marie Kondo would have a field day with me.

One of the bigger items on my Fortyby40 list is to read all the Man Booker prize books.   In case, you are not familiar, the Man Booker prize for fiction is awarded for the best original novel, written in the English language.  It was originally awarded in 1968 (we’re coming up on 50 books on the list!)  In the literature world, it is a VERY big deal.  This life list item came about after I read Richard Flanagan’s The Narrow Road to the Deep North.

My mum disagrees with me, but it is one of the best books I have ever read.  My thoughts were, “Holy shit- if this one rocked my face off, maybe the other Mann Booker prize books will rock my face off too!”  It hasn’t actually worked out that way.  A couple of months ago, I started The Luminaries.  It hasn’t hooked me yet, which is to say that it is super slow.  Of course, I appreciate that I have plebeian taste, and that maybe, like John Snow, I know nothing.  But that is neither here nor there.

So, for me, when the Modern Ms. Darcy published her 2016 reading challenge, I jumped on board, because I thought it would be a great opportunity to make tackle some Man Booker books.  Also, because it gave me the excuse to read Deathly Hallows again. Duh.

A book published this year:  When Breath Becomes Air (Paul Kalanithi)

A book you can finish in a day: Night (Elie Wiesel)

A book you’ve been meaning to read: The Great Gatsby (F. Scott Fitzgerald)

A book recommended by your local librarian or bookshelf: The Third Coast (Thomas Dyja)

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A book you should have read in school: The Bridge of San Luis Rey (Thornton Wilder)

A book chosen for you by your spouse, partner, sibling, child, or BFF: Proud Breed (Celeste De Blasis)

A book published before you were born: Offshore (Penelope Fitzgerald)offshore

A book that was banned at some point: Slaughterhouse Five (Kurt Vonnegut)

A book you previously abandoned: Clash of Kings (George RR Martin)

A book that you own but have never read: Women who run with Wolves (Clarissa Pinkola Estes)

A book that intimidates you: The Catcher in the Rye (J.D. Salinger)

A book you’ve already read at least once: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (JK Rowling)

Right now, I am working on Off Shore by Penelope Fitzgerald.  It was the Man Booker prize the year that I was born (1979).  Since I was born so late in the year, technically, the book was published by the year I was born.  Its about a little community of people who live on houseboats in the Thames.  As I have learned more and more about the Man Booker prize, it seems that a lot of the criticism about the prize seems to be about it being very British- that is, not interested in America-centric books.  Authors have been “blacklisted” because they speak out on topics that judges find problematic.  Finally, it also seems like a lot of the controversy has to do with relative popularity of books; like the judges aren’t necessarily interested in books that do well commercially or that seem very “readable”.  Like being a commercial success was some type of indicator of the “access” a book has with the general reader.  And that if a book was accessible, it was not deemed “high end”.

I don’t really care.  I should be unimpressed- much like my mum is.  But, it’s a list, and we all know how I like lists.

I am about a fifth of the way into the book- and progress is slow.  It is slow because I got a new course prep for winter quarter and feel like I really should be reading those books.  You would think that I could get my act together to read, since I have been spending so much time on public transit lately.  But its proving difficult- mostly because I have just been zoning out on Instagram when I get on the train to go home.

One of the things I like about Audible is that sometimes, famous people/celebrities will narrate books.  Imagine my surprise when I got “The Things They Carried” last year and it was narrated by Bryan Cranston.  Yeah- that Bryan Cranston.  This week, I was perusing Audible and found a couple of the books that I am planning to “read”/”experience” for this challenge are narrated by familiar voices.  James Franco will be in my ears reading Slaughterhouse Five and Jake Gyllenhaal will be narrating the Great Gatsby.  Is that not the coolest?

Also, before you judge me for going after these old snooze-fest books, keep in mind that I have stayed away from the classics for years on purpose.  I mean, honestly, how can the Great Gatsby even attempt to keep up with the Hunger Games, Harry Potter, or the Game of Thrones series?  In any case, I am glad for the challenge, because it does seem unseemly, that the only thing I know about Slaughterhouse Five is from the movie Footloose.

Mr. Gurntz: He was trying to teach *that* book down at the school.
Mrs. Allyson: Slaughterhouse-Five, isn’t that an awful name?
Ren: Yeah it’s a great book… Slaughterhouse-Five, it’s a classic.
Mr. Gurntz: Do you read much?
Mrs. Allyson: Maybe in another town, it’s a classic.
Ren: In *any* town.
Mr. Gurntz: Tom Sawyer is a classic!

Literally, that is the only thing I knew about it.  *shrugs*

 

Five on Friday – Oct. 14, 2016

Friday Friday Getting Down on Friday!

I am starting a Five on Friday feature.  It is meant to be a random hodgepodge of things that are taking up my bandwidth.

Without further ado:

1).  In celebration of my birthday this weekend, I bought myself a new bag.  It deserves it’s own blog post, but at some point, I need to explain myself and exactly what my problem is when it comes to bags.  But this isn’t that kind of post.  The point is, I am kinda fussy when it comes to bags.  Right now, I have a Timbuk2 messenger bag that I have been carrying for about a year.  But, It’s not great for walking long distances.  I always put *way* too much stuff in it.  My water bottle doesn’t fit in the water bottle pocket on the outside of the bag.  And it is just a heavy bag.

I am trying to take public transit and walk a lot more- so I figured if I went back to a backpack, that might help. We should definitely NOT talk about the two other LL Bean backpacks that I have currently.  Let’s just say that they are not big enough for my lunch and my laptop.  Don’t judge me.

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I wandered into the Lincoln Park Title Nine last week and came across this guy, which I am currently in love with.  It is also Timbuk2.  Which is crazy.  I didn’t realize that that was a thing for me.

2). I discovered Katie Fleming’s blog last year, just after she took off on her thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail.  Despite being a Florida Gator, I really like her.  Her blog is pretty sweet- giving a wonderful description of hiker life.  She just completed a thru-hike of the Pacific Crest Trail (which is walking from Mexico to Canada).

You know how there are those hiker types that seem so alien?  It’s like they were born outside, walking a trail?  They eschew most of modern conveniences and are just so alien to most of us?  These are often the same types of people who are like, “Hahahahaha!!  I forgot to eat lunch today!!  Isn’t that funny?”

I’m like, “Bitch, I plan my whole day around lunch, so what are you talking about?”

Katie’s blog is the kind of blog I would write if I ever get off my ass to hike over 5,000 miles.  She’s real- its not all rainbow barfing kittens.  Sometimes the weather sucks.  Sometimes you bust your ass on the trail.  Sometimes you just can’t even.  She posts just about every day or every other day, which is really quite a feat, if you think about it.  Her posts are also pic heavy- so in addition to it being a nice account of recent PCT and AT thru hikes, it also fulfills my need for shiny, pretty things.

3).  I just finished listening to The Bridge of San Luis Rey.  The audible version was read by Sam Waterson, whose voice is sooooo recognizable.  I think he has a really reasonable voice.  You know how in tv and movies, the angels that sit on our shoulders, who are theoretically representations of Selfishness/Evil and Altruism/Goodness?  If there was a similar angel, for reason and intellect that sat, maybe on our brain, it would have the voice of Sam Waterson.

I am reading/listening to TBSLR (can I do that?) as part of Modern Ms. Darcy’s 2016 reading challenge.  This is the book I should have read in high school.  See what happened is that we were supposed to read it second semester of my senior year and I was done with high school everything at the point, so I definitely didn’t read it.

I never even bought the book.  Which is a shame- because it has a brilliant line in it.

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4).  I don’t know who this guy is, but he is adorable.

Moreover, I could eat a chocolate croissant every day of the week. EVERY DAY OF THE WEEK. But who even has the time to make chocolate croissant every day of the week? Why is my life so hard? Why can’t I just have a cook/chef who comes to my house, makes our meals and restocks my chocolate croissant stock? Every day? Is it too hard to ask that I have this in my life?

Apparently, chocolate croissant (sorry, I am not calling it Pain au Chocolat- I am already insufferable enough) isn’t that hard.  It is just time consuming.  And a little fussy.  Honestly, if I were on GBBO, I would just get really good at this and just make this for bread week- no matter what the challenge was.  Mel and Sue would be like, “Paul and Mary would like you to make a savory focaccia” and I would still make chocolate croissant.  But, I would make it so well, that they couldn’t even be mad.  Like, “We’re not even upset that she didn’t make a savory focaccia, because these chocolate croissant are amazing!!!”  Then I would moon walk right out of the tent!!

5). My kid is fighting in his third judo tournament this weekend- actually on my birthday.

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I am nervous for him. I am also supposed to have a soccer game that day. But it is the last game of the season and it is a consolation game, because we went 0-6. 0-6. Can you believe that? What is my life even?  I wish I could say that my presence in goal will matter to this team.  But I am not sure it will.  It hasn’t mattered all season- seriously.  I can’t put my finger on what our issue is.  I concede it is probably me.  This old girl just aint what she used to be.

Regardless, I think Nico would like it if I was at his tournament.

After two tournaments, we have settled into a pretty good groove- Dave coaches and I record on my phone.  Then I upload and send links to the grandmas and grandpas. It is almost like they will be there.

I hope your weekend is amazing.  Whatcha got shaking?