Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Books, Baby!!!! It Is Wednesday, After All...

Not too much in my world of books has changed dramatically since last week because the holiday weekend was extremely full. Fun. But crazy F-U-L-L.

What am I currently reading?

I am still reading Can’t and Won’t by Lydia Davis. I am very much enjoying this very different collection of short stories.

I began Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. This is what Goodreads has to say about the book:

            “A story of love and race centered around a young man and woman from Nigeria who face difficult choices and challenges in the countries they come to call home.”

I am not far in, but it is funny, and sweet, and incredibly readable to this point. It’s one of those books you can let lazily wash over you. So enjoyable!

What did I recently finish?

An Untamed State by Roxane Gay. All I can say is WOW!!! It is a powerful book. It is, at times, difficult to read due to subject matter. It is not pretty. That said, I was glued to it every single free moment I had from cover to cover. The writing is sparse. I liked that. It is dark, dark, dark. I liked that, too.  Here is the Goodreads link:

What will I read next?

I think I will next read The Book of Unknown Americans by Cristina Henriquez or All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr. I haven’t read historical fiction in a long time. Or I could finish up The Vacationers by Emma Straub, which I lent out after 100 pages, but now it’s back.

As always, so many books, too little time.

Thanks to Should Be Reading for allowing us to hook up with other book lovers!

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

People Who Spoil All the Fun: Yeah Write

Ever looked forward to an adventure, something really cool and fun, then someone has to spoil your carefree feeling and excitement by mentioning the pitfalls, and scary parts, of actually doing it? Yeah, me, too.

I work at the aquarium in Chicago as a volunteer diver (all 86 divers are volunteers except for the dolphin and Beluga whale trainers, who may or may not be divers. They are probably just trainers, which is so cool.). While doing pre-dive preparations yesterday, the Aquarist of the Amazon Rising exhibit, asked me for a favor. He’s never before probably because I’m low man on the proverbial totem pole. Yep, a peon!

“Have you noticed the difference between the turtle shells?”

(I love turtles!)

“Yes.” (which really meant I sort of noticed.)

“Will you grab one of the two bigger ones (approximately 2.5' long, 18"wide) with the curved shell? I need to do a procedure. Doesn’t matter which one. See it halfway under that stump.”

I stuck my head underwater.

“Yes, I see it.”

[I was so excited because I have many years of experience catching turtles at the lake with my kids.  We’d mark their shells with red nail polish, put them in a homemade turtle terrarium (read tub), and feed them fishy food and bugs for a few days, if they didn’t crawl out sooner, or failed to survive evening (bloody) raccoon raids. (Imagine explaining to young ones why it is suddenly important to keep the terrarium inside at night, without, of course, any mention of the covert task of massacre clean up, but including a tall tale about turtles needing to be with their mommies, too.)]

“The little ones are friendly. These big guys will bite.”

“Did you have to tell me that?”

“They’re more aggressive. Don’t get your face or hands anywhere near their mouths. (I WON’T) They have very long, sharp claws, too, that can slice skin wide open. You have gloves on. You should be fine. Just be careful. Here’s the net.”

Well, that spoiled the whole freaking turtle catching adventure because now I was nervous, tentative, a little scared, which is not how I wanted to feel when trying to exude bravery and secure the turtle. Plus they aren’t the only creatures in these tanks. There are three giant Arapaimas the size of 300-pound men, 5-foot long, butt-ugly catfish, and Stingrays with barbs scattering underfoot.

I swear that turtle knew I was coming because when I got back in the water, it was long gone. I had to go looking while wading amongst every other animal in my way. Did you know it’s possible to break into a full-on, fearful sweat underwater? I found that sneaky thing wedged into a corner, adjacent to the sand-colored stingray sucking face with the glass. Her head and claws (temporarily) drawn into her shell.

She fought me some as I gingerly carried her up for her procedure. I did it. I was sweaty and scared, but I did it.

On my way home, I thought a lot about the ways other people sometimes, purposely, spoil our excitement about adventures, and things we look forward to doing. I don’t believe he was purposely trying to do so, or ruin anything, even though I do believe he was testing me (Did I mention he’s the same guy who, a few weeks back, purposely sprinkled turtle food above my unknowing head, and I couldn’t figure out why the turtles wouldn’t leave me alone?). I don’t always understand when it happens at other times, with other people. I also wonder why I let them.

(2nd Try!!!) My Beach (Lake) Read Stack For The Next Eight Weeks

Moments to myself, and for reading, have been few and far between lately. I brought a stack of books to the lake yesterday with the hope that reading time will be plenty, and I can leisurely make my way though them all.

What am I currently reading?

I am thick, thick, thick into An Untamed State by Roxane Gay. Have you heard of it? It has received some major buzz by many of the literary sites (like Book Riot, which I love, by the way. Their articles are interesting, insightful, and fun (if you like to read about books as obsessively, or incessantly, as I do)). This is what Goodreads has to say about it:

"Mireille Duval Jameson is living a fairy tale. The strong-willed youngest daughter of one of Haiti’s richest sons, she has an adoring husband, a precocious infant son, by all appearances a perfect life. The fairy tale ends one day when Mireille is kidnapped in broad daylight by a gang of heavily armed men, in front of her father’s Port au Prince estate. Held captive by a man who calls himself The Commander, Mireille waits for her father to pay her ransom. As it becomes clear her father intends to resist the kidnappers, Mireille must endure the torments of a man who resents everything she represents."

This book sucks you in right from the very first page. It won’t take long to finish this one!

I have also recently started a book of short stories called Can’t and Won’t by Lydia Davis. It has one of the more interesting covers I have ever seen. Too early to tell, as I’ve barely cracked it open.

What have I recently finished?

Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia (accent over the “i”) Marquez (accent over the “a”). I loved it. It is a beautifully written story of unrequited love. Oh, it made my heart hurt! The only resistance I had to the book was keeping track of all the names! They are so similar!!! Give it a whirl.

What will I read next?

Remember I told you about a stack? Also, add Cutting for Stone to it, too! AND The Rise and Fall of Great Powers by Tom Rachman (which I won a "first reads" from Goodreads!). There are three short story collections in this pile. I am most looking forward to The Book of Unknown Americans, and No One Belongs Here More Than You. But as always, this is subject to change because the Amazon drone knows my lake address, too!!!

Happy to link this back up over at Should Be Reading

Monday, June 30, 2014

Not Making a Decision is Making a Choice

Are you a decisive person?

While some people are deeply convinced Zodiac signs, and the traits that each one possesses, hold credence with how we behave, I am not. I am a Libra, born smack dab in the middle of the date range. Libras are “supposed to be” notoriously diplomatic, and chronically indecisive. I am extremely diplomatic and fair, but I am also very decisive. Maybe a little too decisive sometimes.

I wholeheartedly believe you learn this skill. I learned to make thoughtful, and thought out, decisions from my father. My dad takes decision making to the “nth” degree, and considers, not only the positive results of said choice, but also the potentially awful (“and if you can live with those”…).

I don’t quite go to the depth of his process (not at all), but I did learn to, and do, ponder choices, and then MAKE THEM to the best of my ability usually relying on equal parts intuition and logic. I will admit to making far too many stupid, and quick, ones in my younger years. But I made them. (I was a math major through most of college; I don’t know why I think it helped, but I am convinced of it did nonetheless.).

I had a conversation yesterday with my daughter. Let me rephrase; she talked and I listened. She was reevaluating a decision she recently, and quickly, made to move out of our house and into a city apartment with some friends. Even thought the first month’s rent was already paid, and most of her things moved out, she questioned the rashness of her decision for a number of reasons.

She described with well thought out, and sound reasons, her decision, and it’s possible drawbacks. In her mind, the pros outweighed the cons, and I agreed. She’s scared, but making decisions then sticking them out is sometimes scary. I am intensely proud of her.

This discussion reminded me of many times when my kids were young. We talked a lot about making good decisions, and how not making a decision is also a decision, in and of its self. When you chose not to decide, or leave it up to someone else, you have no other option but to accept the consequences of your non-decision (good or bad). It is always better to make the choice yourself, rather than rely on someone else who may not be as thoughtful as you, have the same goals/values, or your best interests at heart.

My daughter made an uncomfortable, yet exciting, but difficult decision to spread her wings, exert her independence, and begin living her own life. It is bittersweet, and makes me sad because, as happy as I am for her, I will not be able to look at her whenever I want, or touch her soft skin, but she made a decision. For herself.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Doing Not Thinking: Velvet Verbosity 100-Word Prompt

It’s not the disrobing, or reaction my body exhibits as every single inch of exposed skin is caressed simultaneously while I swim, or even the guilty pleasure and sheer indulgence of being touched in a way like no other. It’s when the water changes back to air. Then it feels forbidden.

Did my sounds waft through cracked windows? A cigarette glowing next pier over? Whispers in the shadows?

Even though I’m alone. Even though it’s an ink-black moonless night. And even though there’s a towel for coverage, I take the stairs back up two at a time.

Not until hot water pierces my skin can I smile like I got away with something again, because self-consciousness ruins moments if you let it.


I don’t believe I’ve ever participated in Velvet Verbosity’s 100-Word prompt before. The word this week is STAIRS.

(I am so very sorry for your lose, and hope that time heals the pain.)

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Reading This Week, You?

Showing at my house in 25 minutes! YIKES! This will be quick.

What am I currently reading?

I am reading The Vacationers by Emma Straub. It’s good so far, but not yet great. It has taken 100 pages to get into the story/characters (and I don’t like that with so many books in my “to read” pile). I feel it will be interesting…soon?

I am listening to Love in the Time of Cholera and LOVING the hell out of it. I have read several books lately by Latino authors. Maybe I just “get” them. It is romantic, extremely well written, and at times humorous. Although, I don’t think I could handle unrequited love for more than 50 years as this character has.

What did I recently finish?

The Light Between Oceans by M. L. Stedman. I gave it three stars on Goodreads. I liked it. I didn’t love it. But it makes the idea, for me, of living in a lighthouse very intriguing.

Summer House with Swimming Pool by Herman Koch. I really liked it. I immensely enjoyed his last book (dark, dark, dark) The Dinner.

What will I read next?

Who knows? What about you?

Beds, dishes, fluffing? Check, check, check!

Off to hot yoga!

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Sunday Questions While Making Bacon!

I am playing along (via phone) with this.

30. Do you read your horoscope? Yes. Sometimes. However, if I don't like it, I choose not to believe it.

31. Where was the last place you bought something? I just bought two coffees at a Cool Beans.

32. How do you feel about your hair right now?   Good. The summer is starting to bleach it out. Woo hoo!!! Free hair coloring!

33. Do you bite your nails? No, but I like them short. Painted light gray in the summer, and extremely dark in the winter.

34. Do you have any expensive jewelry? Yes. I have several pieces that were lovingly bestowed to me for milestone anniversaries. Totally unnecessary, but cherished nonetheless.

35. Have you ever been told you speak fast? When I was in college, I was. I am far quieter, and more contemplative now.

36. Is your laugh usually hearty? Yes.

37. How fast have you driven a car? 110 mph.

38. Have you ever smoked? I tried when I was in high school. Couldn't get over the dizziness hump.

39. What was your favorite subject in school?  Math

40. Do you have cell phone provider loyalty?  Not really, but my service is currently decent. I wouldn't hesitate to change if it weren't.

41. What type of boy or girl do you usually fall for? Tall. Masculine. Street smart intelligence. Makes me laugh. Emotionally strong. Kind and compassionate. Has own interests. Shares similar interests.

42. Do you have any hidden talents? Yes.

43. Favorite song? 10,000 Maniacs, These Are Days.

44. Do you like to sing at all? I do, but I've been told I am not very good at it. Guess what? I don't care.

45. Dream Job? Be promoted to the "show" tank (Caribbean Reef) exhibit at The Shedd Aquarium where I would be a diving docent. Otherwise, a travel writer or documentarist.

46. Where does most of your family live? In the Chicago area.

47. Are you an only child or do you have siblings? Nope. I have a baby brother.

48. Would you consider yourself to be spoiled? Not at all. I am a minimalist at heart, and compromiser by nature. However, I am very strong willed.

49. What was the first thing you thought when you woke up? It's Father's Day!

50. Do you drink? Yes.

51. Know any other languages? Enough Spanish to get by. Enough French to understand content (sometimes, but mostly written). Enough Italian to offer pleasantries, and order what I desire off a menu in Rome.

52. Ever write a coded message? Yes. I love hidden meaning.

53. Have you ever been in someone else's wedding? Yes. Many times.

54. Do you have any children? Yes, two.

55. Did you take a nap today? I will be too busy entertaining the father of my children today to nap.

56. Who has the same birthday as you? Arnebya at What Now and Why. Clive Owens (hottie!) and Gwen Stefani,

57. Ever met anyone famous before? Yes. Sting, Bob Weir, Marilyn and  Dan Quayle, General Norman Schwarzkopf.

58. Do you want to be famous one day? Absolutely not. I crave anonymity.

59. Any Pet Peeves? Judgmental people. Road ragers. Those without spatial awareness.

60. Are you multitasking right now? Yes, and no.

I am playing along here.