Tuesday, March 30, 2010

On my shelves


On the top shelf are books I own and need to read because they were 1) given to me by friends with good taste, or 2) purchased in a burst of inspiration. Here they sit, unread.

Allow me to point out a few that feel the most urgent (based either on the number of years I've owned and never read them, or the amount of excitement involved in their acquisition). In no particular order:
  1. Telling the Truth (Beuchner). A good friend and fellow writer gave this to me. The subtitle is "The Gospel as Tragedy, Comedy, and Fairytale." Holy cow, how did I even forget that I owned this? I found it while reorganizing after the move.
  2. Musicophilia (Sacks). I've read the first several chapters: it's all about how music and memory are intertwined. Fascinating. But my attention span is shamefully short.
  3. Finding Life in the Land of Alzheimer's: One Daughter's Hopeful Story (Kessler). The title is unbearably sad, even though the word hope is in it. Having "Alzheimer's" and "Daughter" in the same sentence just hits too close to home, so I haven't picked it up since I bought it in the Dallas-Fort Worth airport in '08 (the bookstore is the only thing that makes that airport bearable, by the way. Blech).
  4. Little Heathens (Armstrong-Kalish). Read a great review. I think it's about triumph and creativity and family solidarity during the Great Depression. Ironic.
  5. My Family and Other Animals (Durrell). A favorite of my Mom's; I think she read aloud from this book when I was a kid. The title alone is worth displaying.
  6. Tender at the Bone (Reichl). A memoir about food.
  7. Thrumpton Hall (Seymour). Another memoir, this one about a big house.
  8. The Piano Teacher (Lee). I can't remember what this is about.
  9. The Help (Stockett). Lot's of buzz going around about how great it is; I'm borrowing this copy from a family member.
  10. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (Larsson). OK, is this the first in the series, or the second? I can't figure it out. Has anyone read any of these?
  11. Lenny Bruce is Dead (Goldstein). I read Goldstein's other book, Ladies and Gentlemen, the Bible, and loved every word of it. This guy's sense of humor is priceless.
Without little individual book stands and halogen lighting, books lose their luster once I bring them home. Is it just me? You know that sappy saying about life not being about the destination, but real value being in "the journey" (whatever that means)? I'd like to use the same line of thinking about my library. The appeal is owning books, not necessarily reading them. [I can't believe I'm even admitting such a thing.] It is so gratifying to find and peruse and purchase new books and discover new authors, that actually reading the dang thing becomes secondary. I'm a little anxious that a new book won't live up to my expectations. What a lame excuse. Especially when I look at the next two shelves: books I've read and loved and will never part with.

A few favorites:
  1. The Shackled Continent (Guest)
  2. An Ordinary Man (Rusesabagina)
  3. Shake Hands with the Devil (Dallaire)
  4. Minding the Body (Foster)
  5. After the Fact: The Art of Historical Detection (Davidson)
  6. A Different Kind of Teacher (Gatto)
  7. Holler if you Hear Me (Michie)
  8. Educating Esme (Codell)
  9. Sacred Pathways (Thomas)
  10. Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life (Rosenthal)
  11. The Divine Conspiracy (Willard)
See any other titles you recognize? Need a good book review? I'll rave about any of the books on these bottom two shelves. Maybe you can help get me excited about the top two shelves.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Things writers worry about

Current fear: I'm going to become Russell Crowe in A Beautiful Mind. I've filled hundreds of journals with ideas that I think are brilliant and spent hours trying create a sense of time and place in my writing, but what if I'm found out? All the exteriors will be torn away and it will be discovered that I've papered my walls with scraps of nonsense and have nothing to show for all my time and effort but bad taste in sweaters.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Hard to believe

Hey, you should really check out this blog. I have mixed feelings about it, but most days I laugh my head off. This post in particular. Guess which part applies to me?

And by "mixed feelings" I mean, "it's funny because it's true." I have the same shyness as a Christian as I do about being homeschooled: I'd rather not mention it, because as soon as you know that about me, you'll judge me and clump me together with all the other awkward, hypocritcal, socially retarded people you know in either category. There. I said it.

[Cringing, slinking into shadows].

Thursday, March 18, 2010

A necessary evil

So, I joined the gym. It's two blocks from work and I get an employee discount, so there were really no more excuses for not incorporating any physical activity into my life. It's been a week, and I've gone 4 nights after work. I'm less lethargic when I get home. Heart rate and sweat help me accomplish a few more things around the house in the evenings before collapsing on the couch. I wish I didn't have to be indoors to be aerobic, or pedal and run in place while looking out the window, but I haven't made much space in my schedule for rock climbing adventures, kayaking trips, or mountain climbing. Those things seem like more legitimate forms of physical fitness to me (picture me on the cover of the next REI catalogue), but while I wait for the time and cash and inclination, I'm turning into a lump.

It feels so ridiculous to be crammed into a room with a bunch of strangers, all straining against resistance we impose on ourselves, voluntarily miserable in the name of good health. It reminds me of my friend in Africa balking at the notion of jogging because physical exertion was already required as the norm. Run for recreation? What a waste of time. He didn't have an ounce of body fat on him, but that was because he walked most places out of necessity. Plus, there were no Krispy Kreme donut places in his neighborhood. I guess I can't have it both ways: unlimited resources and unlimited metabolism.

On top of that, the weight room sounds like a sweat shop. At least how I imagine one would sound. Wheels turn and motors grind. Treadmills, stationery bikes, and ellipticals sound like a hundred sewing machines. Combined with the metal clanging of the free weights from the buff guys in the back of the room, it's all very intimidating. It's time to invest in an iPod. Cause that will help me lose weight, right?

Wish me luck.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Excuse me while I vent

I'm pretty tired of being depressed. Tired of the people closest to me also struggling. But what can you do? I try to get as much enjoyment out of life as possible, but sometimes it just sucks. Collecting trash from around the house for garbage pick up before work seemed like a major triumph today: I remembered.

I've been sewing stuffed-animal bunnies for Easter and all I want to do is name them and snuggle them and throw a tea party. I bought a baby blanket for myself last night at Target, only because I wanted to hide under it and disappear for a while. It's pink and soft and comforting. Instead of spending the evening with friends, Hubs and I ate pizza and drank beer in front of the TV.

I used all the hot water this morning between my shower and dishes and made Hubs mad. He's not a morning person anyway, and the drive to work was sullen. Being at work feels like I'm sleep walking, but at least it will hold my attention for 8 hours and I can be somewhat productive.

Can today be a do-over?