Wednesday, October 31, 2018

A Wednesday list...

1. J and I finally jumped on The Good Place train, and oh my goodness this show is so funny! I haven't started the current season (season 3) yet, but the first two seasons are on Netflix, and it has most certainly disrupted my sleep habits the past week. It's creative, clever, and the actors just inhabit their roles to perfection.

2. Sunday afternoon I laced up my running shoes for the first time in three and a half weeks. It wasn't the most glamorous run (and it included a hefty amount of walk breaks), but it was the perfect afternoon to be outside and it felt good to move again. I'd had a goal this year of running another half marathon. That didn't work out (the race I wanted to run sold out before I registered), but my research did reveal three spring half marathons in the greater Houston area, so I have something local to choose from and training will fall within the right time frame -- i.e., when it's not blazing hot and when the kids are in preschool two days a week.

3. Today is Halloween. I'm going to admit something here, something that's a bit of -- as Knox McCoy would say -- a spicy take: I don't really like Halloween. What's a bit spicy about my particular opinion is that my dislike is not for religious reasons -- I don't think it's "the devil's holiday" necessarily. It's mostly because I'm lazy and honestly don't see the point. In the past I've occasionally gotten excited about a costume party, and made an effort and it felt fun and felt silly. I've never made my kids adorable and creative costumes. I love looking at other people's creativity in costume creating and executing, but when I try to get in the spirit of things myself my energy fizzles and I just feel...conspicuous, pointless, and tired. I also really hate scary and/or gory house decorations, but I could overlook those (literally) if I just didn't feel kind of Grinch-like about all the rest. I'm not against it enough to try and dampen your Halloween enjoyment or excitement -- it really can be a chance to stretch those creative muscles -- but I'm personally not going to muster the energy. I like carving pumpkins. That's about it. Otherwise, I'm sort of...aggressively lukewarm about the whole thing.

4. It occurred to me this morning that I've made two pies in the past three weeks. Why is this worth mentioning? (well, is anything on here worth mentioning? That's another blog post) It made me realize that somewhere deep inside, I equate making pies with the beginning of fall. Don't get me wrong -- I will make pie any ol' day of the year. You can make pie with seasonal offerings throughout the year. It's not as connected to the season as something like soup or stew, but for some reason the changing of the season from summer to fall makes me want to bake pies. I'm not going to complain about it either.

5. I started three new books this week. It's too many to start at once, but I'm participating in a readalong and two books I've had on hold at the library for months became available. The readalong is Howl's Moving Castle, by Diana Wynn Jones -- young adult fantasy, considered a classic by many. The library picks are Reading People, by Anne Bogel (host of the delightful What Should I Read Next podcast), a non-fiction book that explores all different kinds of personality tests and typing systems; and Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo, a Russian-inspired fantasy-heist novel set in the same world as her Greisha trilogy (which I loved). We'll see which one gets finished first!

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

A Wednesday list....

1. Life's been out of the normal routine for a few weeks because I was sick and recovering from minor surgery, but I think we're beginning the get-back-in-the-groove process. I think the biggest challenge will be getting back to setting my alarm clock and living that early morning life. When I am disciplined about getting to bed early enough, I really do enjoy waking up before the kiddos to start the day. My goal is to use that time for writing And because I tend to have more creative energy earlier in the day, but getting back on that schedule may take a week or so. Baby steps!

2. It's midterm election time! I spent some time in a waiting room today, and used the opportunity to do a little bit of research on our ballot. I find researching political candidates to be a little bit daunting, but I don't like voting by just by party. Speaking of voting -- I heard someone on a podcast today propose that people approach politics emotionally, and don't realize that voting is an act of decision making. We feel like we're choosing a brand, which leads politicians to act like they're a brand, not decision-makers. While I was already planning to vote, the comment gave me food for thought and inspired me to make my vote count.

3. The Flavia De Luce mystery series by Alan Bradley has been on my radar for years, and I finally picked one up a few weeks ago from the library. I'm about a third of the way through and so far it's as delightful as I wanted it to be. Also in reading news, I recently read Solo, by Kwame Alexander after hearing him do an interview. It's a novel in verse, which is not something I've ever read before; but I have to say I really, really enjoyed the book. The story is about the son of a famous rock star -- who is also famously an alcoholic. After his dad drunkenly crashes his high school graduation, and his girlfriend breaks up with him, he gets into a fight with his sister and finds out he was adopted. His search for his birth mom leads him to Ghana, and on a journey to find peace with himself and his family. I was engaged in the story and invested in the characters right away. The poetry was beautiful and vivid, and I discovered that one of the best parts about a novel in verse is that you can read it in a day!

4. Netflix has been suggesting I watch the movie Ali's Wedding, so while I was sick I finally did! It was a really sweet romantic comedy set in Australia (which, incidentally, inspired me to re-watch Strictly Ballroom. I love that movie!). The main character is the son of Iranian immigrants, and the son of the neighborhood Sheikh. Ali lies about passing his exam to get into medical school, and shenanigans ensue. I also watched the first episode of Salt Fat Acid Heat, a four episode series inspired by the cookbook by the same name and starring the cookbook's author. It was so good! Well, at least, if you like cooking shows starring people who are passionate about food. (pro tip: don't watch a cooking show when you're on a restricted diet).

Happy Wednesday! What are you watching? what are you reading? How are you researching your vote? (Go vote!)

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Poetry break

We finally got our first fall front -- so it actually feels like fall outside! Bring on the sweaters and soups and hot drinks! For your autumn entertainment, here's a (not great) poem about fall in Houston, written a few days BEFORE the temperatures dropped.

Seasons still change

by Amanda Waters

On our street
Fall enters
in its own way.

Not through the air.
Not through a wardrobe change.

Fall enters on the rays of the sun
as the light

The days get sleepy.
Summer's party closes down
making room for
cozy light.

Cozy light
gives our weary bodies and minds
a new mood
a new season.

A chance for

On our street
Fall enters
in its own way.

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

A Tuesday list...

This is really more of a list-within-a-list situation with something I've watched and something I've read over the past couple of weeks.

1. Today, I took myself to see A Star is Born, the film starring Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga that came out over the weekend. Here are four reasons why I enjoyed this movie SO MUCH:

  1. The talent of everyone involved. The acting was on point, everyone from Ally's Dad's buddies who only have a couple of scenes to our main couple Ally (Lady Gaga) and Jack Main (Bradley Cooper) and every supporting character in between. Of course, we already know Gaga's musical talent is undeniable, but Cooper is a legit rock star now.
  2. The laser sharp storytelling. No moment, no word, no scene, no frame is wasted. There are no unnecessary tangents, and nothing is left out.
  3. This is a movie about a rock star who meets and falls in love with a talented singer and songwriter singing in a dive bar a few times a week. He believes in her and gives her a chance to be on stage and grow her talent, and -- as the title says -- a star is born. However...the story is not about music or life on the road or fame. It's about Jack and Ally. It's about Jack's demons and the context of his relationship with Ally. It's about her growing confidence and the context of her relationship with Jack. It's a story about two people who meet, fall in love, and live a life together.
  4. The music. This is closely related to talent, of course, but it's worth saying the soundtrack to this movie is on fire. I know I just said it's not a story about the music or rock star-pop star life, but the fact that Jack and Ally are musical stars is certainly a big part of the story. It's the context, the setting, and sometimes almost like another character.

2. The Royal We, by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan a novel about Bex --an American college student who gets accepted in a study-abroad program at Oxforrd -- and Nick -- prince and heir to the throne of Great Britain (yes...inspired by the real-life romance of Britain's college sweethearts William and Kate) 
  1. This book was so engaging and hard to put down. I'd pick it up any chance I could, and would stay up way too late reading one more chapter. 
  2. There are so.many.bad.choices being made in this book. So many bad choices.
  3. I loved that it was as much about Bex's relationships with her twin sister, her parents, and her friends as it was about the main romance. Relationships are hard and messy, and this story did a great job of showing relationships of all kinds in a realistic, nuanced way.
  4. London! Oxford! Pubs and tea and slang and all that good stuff.