Saturday, March 26, 2016

Words: about the ones I can't find to explain myself well, and the ones I can't spell

I don't even feel like I can put into words. Not enough thoughts to compute—just a general feeling of being not good enough at things I've said, ideas I've expressed. I've tried to capture them before they were fully formed and I made a bad image. But I don't have time or wherewithal to properly form good thoughts before I have to speak them.
"Before we can get all the facts, we may be going to have to act." —They Might Be Giants
I am torn and pulled in different directions. My mind cannot settle on one idea long enough to do anything about it. Dart, flit, swoosh, and I'm off to a new idea. I will paint my nails. Write a letter. Eat a snack. Tweet. Write a blog post about how I never liked the illustrations accompanying Shel Silverstein poems. Write a blog post about words I can't spell, like "occasion". Reminisce (<-- not confident on that one either) about how when I wanted to thank accompanists in high school for playing piano for me, I always had to write "Thanks for playing piano for me" because I never, and still haven't, learned how to spell the word for the role they do. Don't write a blog post because no one cares about my quirky asides that are one sentence long and decidedly not worth an entire blog post. Write a blog post about how I always want to write blog posts to have an excuse to tell people my quirky asides. Don't write a blog post, just say my asides randomly to my spouse who is across the room and who will probably love me anyway, even if I say things completely out of context and annoy him by interrupting what he is reading. Is this a blog post? I can't post this—it's the pointless ramblings of a restless person who drank coffee 13 hours ago and wonders if the caffeine (<--that one I can spell, oddly) is just now kicking in. But what if it has comedic value? As soon as you ask that it doesn't. But what if other people sometimes feel the same way? But what if they don't and I look like an idiot who talks to herself?

I write for the case of "just in case": "Just in case I'm not alone on this." I write to make connections with people. I write because I want to say the "connections" thing better but I'm having trouble sentencing today.

All spellings checked and corrected before publication. (Thanks, red squiggly line!)

Bonus quirky aside: What's with cookbooks without pictures? I'm already trying to imagine what a recipe going to taste like and now you want me to imagine what it is going to look like, too?

Thursday, March 24, 2016

26 Books in 2015: A Follow-up Interview with Andrea

Last year, my friend Andrea decided to participate in a reading challenge she found on Pinterest: 26 books from different categories. All year I enjoyed asking her about what she was reading and hearing about her progress on the list. Below are the results of her year of reading along with her answers to a few questions I posed to her about the adventure.

Q: Did you ever think you weren't going to make it, or did you consider stopping at any point?
A: Towards the end I got a little nervous about finishing, but I had such a fast start from the beginning of the year that it was never a huge concern (I finished on Christmas Eve). I never thought about quitting! Which I'm a little proud of because I quit lots of things.

1. A Book you own but haven't read:
Into the Wild
2. A Book that was made into a movie:
Paper Towns
3. A Book you pick solely because of the cover:
I'll Give You the Sun
4. A Book your friend loves:
Why not me?
5. A Book published this year:
All the Bright Places
6. A Book by an author you've never read before:
Red Rising
7. A Book at the bottom of the "to be read pile":
The President is a Sick Man

Q: Did you do any rating/reviews of the books?
A: No ratings/reviews in a formal sense (other than my Twitter review of The Scarlet Letter: "if you want an old book that takes 200 pages to get interesting, this one's for you!") Lots that I informally talked to friends about though throughout the year.

Q: What was your favorite book you read this year?
A: Picking a favorite book is hard. The book that stuck with me the most and that I still think about sometimes was Les Miserables. I don't know that I would ever read it again though, mostly because of the length so it's hard to call it my favorite. Maybe I could get one of those kid versions that's a bit condensed, though it probably wouldn't be as good. I really loved that one though—the way all the stories fit together and the redemption were great. Even the super long tangents weren't too bad! I became kind of obsessed with this story while I was reading it. I also really liked Modern Romance. That book was fascinating from a real life/science standpoint. Plus it was funny and entertaining to listen to (one of the audiobooks I "read"). I'd want to read it again because I feel like I can't remember all of the facts.

8. A Book with a color in the title:
The Devil in the White City
9. A Book set in a place you want to visit:
The Rosie Project (Australia)
10. A Book you started but never finished:
Guns, Germs and Steel
11. A Book with a lion, a witch or a wardrobe:
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (it has all three!)
12. A Book with a female heroine:
The Royal We
13. A Book set in the summer:
The Paying Guests
14. A Book "everyone" has read but you:
The Scarlet Letter

Q: What was your least favorite book you read this year?
A: Worst book—well, as you can tell from my Twitter review, I was not a fan of The Scarlet Letter. Thank God it was a short book because I wouldn't have made it through much more. The whole introduction of that book didn't make a lot of sense and I didn't feel like it really added to the story, but it was like at least 1/3 of the length of the book so I didn't feel like I could skip it. I also didn't like The Spy Who Came In From The Cold. Maybe I'm kinda dense, but I just didn't really get what was going on in a lot of that book. It was one I was supposed to read for a college class. I'm glad I didn't back then—I'm sure my time was spent better elsewhere.

Q: Which book surprised you the most?
A: The Devil in the White City surprised me, but not in a good way. I thought I would enjoy it a lot because I enjoy history and serial killers (not in a creepy way!) and I had heard very good reviews. I found it kind of slow though really wished that there was more about the serial killer and less about the financial woes of building a World's Fair. On the positive note though, the history in The President is a Sick Man was fascinating. My dad recommended the book to me and I thought he just liked it because it was partially about a journalist (dad's a writer), but the whole book was really interesting. There were weird medical procedures, US history, and presidents! Some of my favorite things. :)

15. A Book with a great first line:
Modern Romance ("Many of the frustrations experienced by today's singles seem like problems unique to our time and technological setting: not hearing back on a text.") (or, if you count the introduction: "oh, shit!")
16. A Book with pictures:
Castle Waiting
17. A Book from the library:
The Rosie Effect
18. A Book you it again!:
Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince
19. A Book of Poems:
Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats
20. A Book you learned about because of this challenge:
The Murder of Roger Ackroyd

Q: Have you been able to lift your self-imposed book-buying ban yet??
A: I just bought a book yesterday! I still haven't made it all the way through my own bookshelf, but I decided it was okay to reward my efforts.

Q: What are some of your takeaways from this experience? Would you do it again?
A: Takeaway #1: I thought I would come away reading a whole bunch of different genres and liking lots of different stuff. While I did branch out a little in the genres I chose, at a certain point, you like what you like. And that's ok! I still enjoy memoirs and books by funny people most and have no interest in picking up another book of poetry any time soon. I like hearing peoples' stories, which is harder to get out of poetry.

Takeaway #2: There are a lot of good books out there! Every once in a while I should take a break from Netflix and get back into reading.

Takeaway #3: Audiobooks aren't so bad...for a certain kind of book. I still will probably only choose audio for lighter books, mostly non-fiction, but I loved the efficiency of "reading" while walking to work.

I would totally do it again! I think I would want a different type of list, but sure!

21. A Book that will make you smarter:
What If?
22. A Book with a blue cover:
23. A Book you were supposed to read in school but didn't:
The Spy Who Came in from the Cold
24. A Book more than 10 years old:
Les Miserables
25. A Book based on a true story:
Yes Please (Amy Poehler memoir)
26. A Book by an author you love:
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (JK Rowling) 

Q: Any reading goals for 2016?
A: I told myself I would read 12 books that have been adapted into films. Then I would see the movie. (or that order might get reversed). I'm already behind schedule. :)

If you enjoyed reading about Andrea’s adventures in reading, then perhaps you would also enjoy my friend, Kate’s, blog. She reads and reviews a ton of books, and completed her own reading challenge last year, and is doing it again this year.