Posts in what i'm loving
What I'm Loving | 12/2/2018

Rusty got to meet Santa yesterday! The shelter we adopted him from does a Santa Paws event each year that’s entirely volunteer run, so all the proceeds go straight to the shelter. It was so sweet to see the volunteers that helped us adopt Rusty and he was quite the hit with Santa, too. We didn’t mention that time he snuck a loaf of bread off the counter — we figured Santa doesn’t need to know everything.

Here’s what else I’m loving lately:

Reading :: After finishing it, I have mixed feelings about the format of The Argonauts. Subject matter would get a 10/10 — there are shockingly few writers who engage with material like this and produce a book that enters the “indie mainstream,” so I think it’s wonderful that Nelson did that. However, the book is almost a stream of consciousness style that made it difficult to fully grasp what was going on. It’s a small book, so I would say if you’re interested, definitely try it! It’s just on the experimental spectrum so be aware. After, I read Something Wicked This Way Comes. We discussed Bradbury in my short story class and despite having heard his name, I had never read his work. The dialogue in this book irked me to no end — lots of staccato-paced ‘whats’ and ‘no!’s — but the book itself was lovely. I tend to not like anything that involves circus imagery, but this book did such a fantastic job of laying scenes out that I didn’t mind. I’m now reading The February House; this is a SUPER NICHE read but I am eating it up. If you enjoy learning about the lives of literary heavy-hitters (which I practically live off of because of life goals) then I would highly recommend. If not, I’d probably say pass because it could get rather dull!

Spare Time :: I’ve been writing and writing and writing. Making something creative a priority is quite difficult, I’m learning, because sometimes the brain just does not want to cooperate. But bad writing is easier to fix than no writing, as they say, so I’m piling up the short stories in the hopes that something sticks.

Etcetera :: I finally made it up to Pegasus Books! It’s the oldest independent bookstore in Berkeley and they do both new and used books of all kinds. It’s an adorable store with a great selection and I always love searching for books in person instead of on the internet. They also do a frequent reader program where if you spend $200 you get $10 off! If you’re in the area, they also have a location in Rockridge and Albany, too. Totally worth the trip!

What I'm Loving | 11/25/2018

To be honest, the thing I’ve loved the most this week is a four day weekend. We had friends over for dinner on Thursday, put up the tree and enjoyed a lazy/rainy day on Friday, ran errands on Saturday, and now we still have a whole Sunday left. That’s what I call a good weekend.

Here’s what else I’m loving lately:

Reading :: The Heart is a Lonely Hunter: layers! depth! wonder! Seriously, this was a delightful read. It was nuanced — the plot points aren’t in your face, but they’re right there if you look for them. It really came together beautifully and I highly recommend it. Next up, We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves: I bought this on a whim on our trip to Powell’s, in all honesty because I thought the author was someone else. It turned out to be quite a happy accident because I thought this was an incredible read. The staff recommendation card at Powell’s said to go into it without knowing a thing, which is what I did, and I wasn’t disappointed. That’s what I recommend you do, too, so I’m not going to say any more. Now I’m on The Argonauts, which, so far, is a quick and heavy read about gender fluidity, the oppression of heteronormativity, and love in a queer and unique relationship. It’s equal parts science, studies, and anecdotes which keeps the pace quick and the subject matter engaging.

Spare Time :: Probably the same as everyone this week. Just cooking and eating in an endless cycle, but we also got our tree put up! It’s never too early for Christmas cheer.

Etcetera :: We saw Bohemian Rhapsody over the weekend which was a delight. I didn’t realize how much I didn’t know about Queen/Freddie Mercury. Their music has been around and popular my entire life, but learning more about their journey as musicians was such a joy. I admire Freddie Mercury for taking his fashion risks and being so open about who he was — and I can imagine that many people feeling oppressed in the time period did, as well. It was a fantastic film.

What I'm Loving | 11/18/2018

Short week, woo hoo! Last year I was so bummed about not being with my family on Thanksgiving. I’m bummed this year too, but it feels much less dramatic somehow. We’ll see if that changes the day of, but I’m excited to have some friends over and make a lot of food.

I’m cheating and getting a pre-made turkey from Whole Foods, but I’m cooking everything else myself. Last year my turkey didn’t turn out great, it was a lot of work, and a friend had one from Whole Foods that was SO delicious I decided it would be worth the splurge this year. Some things aren’t worth doing yourself and roasting a turkey might be one of them.

Here’s what I’m loving lately:

Reading :: The Autobiography of Malcolm X was interesting, albeit a bit tedious. Learning about the key events of his life was interesting, but I would’ve preferred it in a shorter format. I’m now working on The Heart is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers. I love southern gothic literature and this book has been no exception. I’m 75% through it and she keeps added depth and sustenance to her characters that leaves me amazed. Also, she wrote this AT TWENTY THREE, which is amazing but also making me feel a bit behind in life. 😬

Spare Time :: Unfortunately the air quality has only worsened so we’ve been spending ample quality time indoors. Poor Rusty babe is bored out of his mind — every time we get up he runs to the door thinking we’re going on an adventure. You’d think with all this downtime I would have been reading and writing like crazy, but it seems like every day I go to sleep wondering where the time went.

Etcetera :: When is it Christmas decorating time in your house? I know some people who already have their trees up, while others wait until a week or two before. We’re probably going to put our tree up this weekend, but it’s always interesting when other people think is the “right” time.

What I'm Loving | 11/11/2018

One full week of the Daylight Savings Time rollback and has meant one full week of me getting ridiculously tired at 8 PM. It’s the time of year when I increase my daily tea consumption by tenfold just to stay awake ‘til a decent hour.

Yesterday I competed in my second climbing competition and I am so. sore. It wasn’t at my home gym and was at one in the city that is much more difficult. I’ll do a full writeup later — for now I’m going to spend some quality time with the foam roller.

Here’s what else I’m loving lately:

Reading :: The Year of Living Danishly provided a balanced overview of Danish culture. It asked the tough questions to get to the root of their happiness, but also didn’t brush over unpleasantries such as -20C and 2 hours of daylight each winter. The real question is how can anyone be happy in those kinds of conditions? I’m unsure, but the Danes do it well. Next up, Exit West. I had high hopes for this book — Obama personally recommends it, after all. The prose was top tier and beyond striking, with the phrasing of descriptors being awe-inspiring beyond my dreams. I got sucked into the beginning and stayed that way for the first third of the book, but after that things seemed to slow down. I think in part because the beginning was so stellar and I didn’t feel that was followed up on throughout the remainder of the novel. I did, however, think that the book added a unique and holistic perspective to the refugee experience, and the magical realism which came as a noteworthy surprise. I still recommend this one even if just for the phrasing alone, but the end might take a bit of powering through to be satisfying. I moved on to Self Help by Lorrie Moore — NOT a self-help book, but instead a short story collection with instructions on matters such as “How To Be an Other Woman” and “How to Become a Writer”. SUCH a fantastic collection. Ms. Moore’s tone is both refreshing while paying homage to the classic influences of literary tone. I’m now on The Autobiography of Malcolm X which has been on my shelf for so long! I find that autobiographies tend to be a bit slow to start and this is no exception, but I’m interested to see where it leads.

Spare Time :: I had to go away for a conference at the beginning of the week, so I’ve been trying to spend extra time with Rusty since I’ve been back. He has been like velcro but the Camp Fire has made it difficult to get out of the house, so we’ve both been feeling a bit cooped up. We’ve been playing a lot of stairway fetch and utilizing his puzzle toys, but poor boy just wants to go sniff stuff again.

Etcetera :: I finally saw The Hate U Give film adaptation this week — read this book and see this movie. I read the book a few months ago and was blown away. It’s written for a young adult audience and the author did an amazing job of distilling some of the biggest issues facing us today (racism, inherent bias, and the “on both sides” arguments) into digestible prose that doesn’t overwhelm you with the world’s problems. The film adaptation is a bit different from the book, but I believe they did an excellent job making use of the time they were allowed to convey the most important messages. Highly, highly recommend.

What I'm Loving | 11/04/2018

It’s election week! If you haven’t voted early/voted by mail, make a point to get to the polls on Tuesday. Here’s a great guide on what to do if you’re turned away at the polls and a resource on polling places and hours near you. Regardless of political beliefs, it’s important that our voices are heard in the midterms — these are our policy makers, our bill passers, and our local legislators, and they can only work for the people if the people speak up.

Here’s what else I’m loving lately:

Reading :: I think last week’s look at After I Do was as comprehensive as I could be, despite not having it finished at the time of writing. The ending didn’t bring out any revelations that I didn’t expect as a reader, but if you look past its borderline-fluff nature it still holds its own as an interesting read. Next was The Incendiaries — I do not have the words to describe how awestruck I was by this book. The dialogue, premise, and structure are all unique, and every sentence comes together to form a beautiful piece of art. One of my favorites of the year. I’m now working on The Year of Living Danishly. Personally I’ve been feeling burnt out/worn down lately, so this is a little ray of sunshine for me. While the easy answer is “okay I’ll just move to Denmark to be happier” I’m hoping to find some nuggets of happiness I can add to my own life instead of moving across the globe.

Spare Time :: I have been writing and reading and writing and reading. And climbing. Really, not anything too exciting over here — just trying to lean in to the things that make me feel like my best self to combat this fatigue I’m feeling.

Etcetera :: Has anyone tried light therapy for the wintertime? I know Daylight Savings Time JUST happened but the shorter days are already starting to get to me. I already take 100% of the recommended Vitamin D dosage, so it seems like light therapy might be my next step.

What I'm Loving | 10/28/2018

Halloween is almost here! I always welcome the holiday, but I do wish we could suspend October to just last a smidge longer. No matter how many pumpkin dishes I make and fall activities I do, I always wish we could somehow prolong the experience. The leaves still fall and the air is still chilled throughout November, but there’s a magic October holds that can’t be replicated. It’s a month of perfect weather, vibrant colors, and near-ideal photography lighting all month long — it really is a beautiful thing.

Here’s what else I’m loving lately:

Reading :: I so enjoyed the concept of Behold The Dreamers, but overall, the novel fell somewhat flat for me. There was a lot of unnecessary background and the writing lacked the compelling tone of something that really pulls you in. However, it was (from what I understand) an accurate portrayal of the immigration experience in the US, and if reading this book can make its audience more empathetic to that, I would absolutely recommend it be read. I’m now on After I Do by Taylor Jenkins Read. This book is in the dreaded “chick lit” category, but it has enough meat to it that it’s an exemplar of how decent the genre could be. Protagonist wants to be in love, love isn’t working, she tries unconventional ways of fixing it — it’s not a book that will change the world. BUT —  this is a big but and why I would still recommend the book — amidst the fluff is a lot of wisdom, an in-depth analyses of what makes relationships tick, and some incredible phrasing which I’m a sucker for. I haven’t finished yet but I am sold on figuring out what will happen next, and sometimes that’s all a novel needs to do.

Spare Time :: I started my short story class this week! It’s always scary for me to try something new, but I think I’ll really enjoy this process and learn a lot about my writing capabilities. Our class is diverse in age, race, and gender which was a pleasant surprise, and I think it will be a wonderful place for me to improve. Plus, we have homework and I’ve SO missed having writing homework.

Etcetera :: When it comes to money, I’ve always been pretty decent at building up a savings. I’ve been better at it at certain points in my life than others, but I’ve tried to make a point to always consistently put money back. However, my savings is a “do not touch” zone, which makes it difficult to allocate money for splurges vs. savings for life circumstances. I’ve started using an app called Qapital to help with that and it is SO FUN. You don’t have to get their debit card, and can instead just use their core product with accounts you already have. You set up savings goals tied to dollar amounts and then use “rules” to put money back. So for example, I set up a goal for a new pair of workout leggings, and made all the rules pertain to hitting my daily exercise goals with my Apple Watch. Then the money gets drafted out of my main checking account into a fund that only lives in Qapital, and  can transfer the money back and use it whenever I’m ready. It’s technically just saving money you already have, but done in small — much easier to stomach than having $100 go from your account to lululemon all at once.

What I'm Loving | 10/21/2018

We took Rusty to a pumpkin patch yesterday and I could not have been more thrilled. I haven’t had a chance to edit the pictures yet, but you’ll definitely be seeing them in circulation because they are too adorable. We’re actually getting some autumnal weather this year, I’m planning on making a pumpkin loaf today (with canned pumpkin, not pumpkin patch pumpkins), and we have the Halloween candy out and ready. Yay autumn!

Here’s what else I’m loving lately:

Reading :: The rave reviews for Bel Canto are spot on. I was fascinated by this story, both due to the overall plot and due to the fact that the premise, once boiled down, is fairly simple. Ann Patchett mastered the art of suspending time while still making it feel that the plot was progressing, which turned something that could have easily been a dull retelling of events into something captivating. Next up, Black Klansman. This is a fascinating story that was recently made into a movie, and I enjoyed reading the book to get more background on the story. This is a rare instance where I do recommend watching the movie before reading the book — the movie has the grabbing thematic elements, while the book is more of a “just the facts” read and a great way to get more detail on what the movie glossed over. Now I’ve just started Behold The Dreamers and I can’t wait to see where the story goes.

Spare Time :: Because of our travels I got a bit behind on my climbing and I’ve made sure to get back in the swing of things this week. My next open competition is in 3 weeks and I feel like I have a decent shot of doing better than I did last time!

Etcetera :: I’m ready to start saving for my next lens, but I have no idea which one to get! I nearly always use my 50mm f/1.4 because the quality is SO good — but with the 1.5x crop factor, I’ve been finding it too close for pets/indoor use. I can’t decide if I should get something with more of a range and risk sacrificing quality (as I can’t afford the $1000+ telephotos) or a 35mm prime for close up situations. I’m also addicted to open aperture photography, and most telephotos only step down to the 2 range. Feedback welcome for any photographer friends!

What I'm Loving | 10/14/2018

Our trip to Portland was a dream. I’m writing a full post for Wednesday with all the deets, but for now, just know that it’s far and away one of the best places I’ve ever visited. I found myself seriously wondering how much it would cost to have our things and pets shipped up so we’d never have to leave. I have many photos to edit so stay tuned, but for now enjoy this one of my pouting as we headed to the airport.

Here’s what else I’m loving lately:

Reading :: French Exit was a quirky adventure of a book, but not endearing enough to stand out in my opinion. The characters were rich and vibrant, but not enough to justify a lack of plot development and notable events. It was quick, but by no means remarkable. I’m now on Bel Canto — I love Ann Patchett, I love her writing, and I love her characters. I’m still working on this one but so far, it’s of no exception.

Spare Time :: I strongly believe that the best way to learn a city is to walk it, and that’s exactly what we did. We didn’t have a lot of “downtime” per se, but we walked almost everywhere we went. Seeing things from the ground helps you notice more, and makes it much easier to get your sense of direction aligned.

Etcetera :: Do you think airports are representative of a city? I hadn’t thought about it until seeing PDX, which is steeped in Pacific Northwest culture. The San Francisco airport is fancy and high-tech, which is also on point. The Oakland airport is quaint and unassuming, with some interesting shops tucked away — also accurate. Chattanooga’s airport is the only one I can think of that isn’t representative, because Chattanooga is such a vibrant city and the airport is decidedly not.

What I'm Loving | 10/7/2018

We’re finally, finally, finally almost done with the bed frame. Our weekend project has turned into a month-long project and I can’t wait to be done with it. Because we don’t have a designated “work space” pulling everything out of the garage is a process on its own, making setting aside time to work on it even more cumbersome. Hopefully, today will be the day everything finally comes together.

Here’s what I’m loving lately:

Reading :: I’ll admit that I underestimated All We Ever Wanted a little bit — once I moved past the italics, there was more meat to the story than I thought there would be. Not my favorite and not the best-written novel I’ve read to date, but it was an interesting look at how different types of people handle the same unfortunate circumstances with vastly differing outlooks. I’m moving on to French Exit next. It’s a rarity for me to purchase a book this close to its publication date, but I had a good feeling about this one.

Spare Time :: I’ve decided to take the GRE (eventually), and I’ve been shocked to find how little of my math knowledge is coming back. I am all over the vocabulary prompts, but I’ve had to Google like mad to even get through the quantitative practice problems. I think it’s trite to make a blanket statement about being bad at math here, but I certainly struggle with it more than other subjects.

Etcetera :: I’m three years behind, but I’ve finally garnered an interest in the Serial podcast. I’m not a very “true crime” person, but I am fascinated with the litigation process. I didn’t like Season Two much, but Season One got me hooked quickly and Season Three is shaping up to be my favorite so far.

What I'm Loving | 9/30/2018

It’s nearly October! It’s no secret that I’ve been in the fall feelings since September 1st came around, but October is my favorite month — partly because it’s when it’s socially acceptable to crank the fall celebrations up a notch. Though my main complaint about the Bay Area is that we don’t have seasons here, it’s actually been feeling rather autumnal lately, and I’ve even spied a few fallen leaves on my & Rusty’s daily walks.

Speaking of walks, having a dog is the perfect excuse to get outside. It might sound lame, but I look so forward to taking Rusty on walks now just so I can get some fresh air and sunshine. It’s also a great way to break up the day and recharge when I work from home!

Here’s what I’m loving lately:

Reading :: The Marriage of Opposites was a piece of historical fiction that was interesting, but I never felt fully tied to. While the book did achieve its purpose of accounting for the life of the mother of a largely influential painter, I never felt enchanted by the story or attached to the characters. However, the wording was detailed and compellingly descriptive without being ostentatious — one of my favorite qualities in a book. I’m now reading All We Ever Wanted, which (so far) features simple prose with an interesting moral dilemma examined from several sides. One Amazon reviewer mentioned that the author was italics happy during dialogue; at first, I thought “what a silly thing to complain about” but now that I’m further into dialogue portions I absolutely get it. Still an interesting premise so I’m looking forward to seeing where it goes.

Spare Time :: I’ve been writing with every spare moment, it seems. I’m enrolling in a late-fall workshop but I want to get plenty of practice in before then so I feel more prepared. It’s been so long since I’ve taken a formal writing course!

Etcetera :: Rusty has terrible skin allergies which is something we’ve been trying our hardest to stay on top of. As we were explaining to his dog sitter our daily routine, I realized what feels simple to me sounds like quite an involved process when I say it out loud. Eventually I’ll just make it into it’s own post — after having 2 different dogs in 2 different states with the same problem, I’d say it’s a lot more common than people realize