Monday, October 24, 2011

Lazing About With a Good Book (or Two)

I spent the weekend reading though I should have been doing five or six other things, including lots and lots of laundry. Oh well, it was a delight to read outside in the fall sun, so I don't regret it for an instant, even as I sorted through my socks this morning to find the cleanest dirty pair to wear to work today. The week of cold and rainy has begun. It will be easy to focus on laundry now.

I read two lovely books this weekend that I thought to share.

The first one, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, many people have possibly already read. I think I just never bothered to read it because it seemed like it might have been overhyped. I got burned a few times with books that were fussed over as good book club books: The Jane Austen Book Club anyone? Yawn. This one came out around the same time, I think, and the title must have reminded me of the latter novel, so that's probably why I was never motivated to pick it up. It was recommended to me by Nathan's mom and aunt when they were visiting last weekend, and I'm so glad they mentioned it because it is wonderful. It is one of those books full of characters that float along beside you even after you've finished it. I rate a book particularly high if I actually truly laugh out loud while reading it. Read this one. Really, do.

The second one, The Tenth Gift, was still an enjoyable story though it was a bit more uneven. I think I liked it mostly because I found the mix of histories on embroidery and pirating that the plot contained to be fascinating. The book included a present day storyline in addition to a historical story of barbary pirates kidnapping people from Cornwall to sell as slaves in Morocco. I suppose if I had read another novel involving the historic connection between Cornwall and Morocco I may have been somewhat disappointed in the weaknesses of this novel's plot, but since I haven't, those were far overshadowed by the historical details for me. If I read it again, I think I would put it at the same "mildly disappointing" point on the scale as "The Lovely Bones." Loved most of it, but there were just one or two elements that I couldn't get on board with. Still, I certainly recommend it.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Twisting the Knob

 from "A Day in the Life of a Smiling Woman" by Margaret Drabble

      Looking round the polished table at their faces-at thin, grey, beaky Maurice, at tiny old James Hanney, at brisk young smoothy Chris Bailey, at two-faced Tom (son of one of the powers), at all the rest of them-she found that she disliked them fairly intensely.
     This is odd, she said to herself...This is very odd.
     And she thought, What has happened to me is that some little bit of mechanism in me has broken. There used to be...a little knob that one twisted until these people came into focus as nice, harmless, well-meaning people. And it's broken, it won't twist any more.

I'm finding it increasingly difficult to twist that knob all too often these days...Hmm, I think that means I should start doing more yoga.

*I have no idea where I got this image. I've had it saved in my images file under "Crank it to 11" for ages. If it's yours, let me know, and I'll credit you.

Monday, October 17, 2011

I Workout

aka Thoughts from the Midst of my Hip-Hop Workout Class

I have reached a sad point in my life in which I learn new dance moves and think to myself, "Ooh, I can't wait to show these off at the next wedding I attend." Hmm, I'm at the even sadder point in my life where I learn my dance moves from a gym class.

Somehow I just cannot pull off the "I'm a bad mofo" facial expression needed to sell this hand gesture. I don't look scary at all. If anything, perhaps a tad bit constipated.

My white girl moves in their natural habitat.
I may have the whitest moves out of everyone in my class. I think it's because I can't get rid of the smile. It would help if I didn't have a wall of mirrors in front of me showing me what I look like as I "wiggle, wiggle, wiggle, wiggle, wiggle it" and "throw my hands up" and "shake it in my jeans."

Oh, I'm way behind. I think I need to stop picturing doing these moves outside of this room. I usually forget them immediately after this class anyway.

Oh hey, am I actually doing the dance from Run the World (Girls)? Yes! I am. Wait, nope, lost it. Yes, that's it. Got it. Nope, lost it again. Now I've finally got it down; I'm keeping up. Oh nuts, the song's over.

I think gym instructors everywhere must have clapped and cheered when LMFAO's "I Workout" came out. Clearly it's this generation's "Let's Get Physical" for workout classes.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Art I Can Actually Afford!

Discovering Chicago artist Kate Lewis recently got me sucked into the art buying world. I came across a bunch of paintings that I loved on UGallery, which then led me to Daily Paintworks. Do you know there are painters out there painting a new painting every day? Yes, and then they sell them. This is an amazing way to purchase original art for under $100!

Here are a few of my favorites from the UGallery:

Clockwise from top left: Zen by Alaina Sullivan; Victoria Harbor Evenings by Robert Holewinski, Meditation on Yellow by Lana Williams; Tiny Flowers by Kate Lewis; Sassy by Autumn Rose 

I don't think I'll be purchasing any of these anytime soon though because the smallest (and least expensive) was still $175. While I do love Kate Lewis' work, this is not my favorite of hers. Sadly those are all currently sold (I LOVED Half a Poppy Chair). I think I'm going to hold out for one that I just can't live without.

Perhaps there are more amateur painters on Daily Paintworks, but I've always believed that you should buy art that you love, not art that you think will increase in value. The art sold on this website is extremely affordable, and I found it easy to find lots of paintings I love.  Here are a few of my favorites:
 Clockwise from top left: Singer by Alex Zonis ; Figs and Plum 1 by Mary Bryson; Tansy by Susan Gutting; Reach for the Beach by Marcello Saolini; Colorful Acting by Kelvin Lei; and Fall Garden by Jean Nelson

I am tempted by any and all of these, and best of all, the most expensive one (Singer) is only about $150.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

More Self Analysis

With the infamous permed bangs of Grade 4.
Whenever anyone asks me about high school, I find myself describing it as awful. This is odd because I didn't feel particularly suppressed or bored by small town life, nor was I ever bullied to any great extent. In fact, I was moderately popular in high school; though I was not part of the "popular" crowd, I was what could be termed at the second tier of popularity, friends with many different groups in school and plenty to do on the weekend.

But no one was readier to graduate from high school than I; as my friends shed tears at graduation, I looked on dry-eyed and counted the minutes until I could escape them all. I was thrilled at the thought that I was going to a college hundreds of miles from all of them. They were heading off to a larger version of the high school we were leaving, but not I. I was going on an adventure.

This constituted a good hair day for me. (Fr. year)
I look back at high school and my first reaction is always to cringe and get that uncomfortable feeling in the pit of my stomach. Was it because this was the time in my life where I felt completely awkward in my body? Not likely. I had permed bangs, braces, and glasses in middle school, so high school was a bit of an improvement over that horrendous look.

Was it because I was constantly dealing with the drama of rejection from a group of girls who were nearly as bad as the "Mean Girls?" Again, no. In third grade, my best friend in the whole world told me that she wasn't allowed to be my friend anymore if she wanted to be friends with the two wealthy popular girls in our class effectively severing our childhood friendship for good. So dealing with that was far worse than any "friend stuff" I ever experienced in high school.

I would call that a mane. (Jr. year)
And yet high school is the time of life I remember with a shudder and a knotted stomach. After a long time mulling these feelings over, I think it may be because high school was where I first felt truly different from many of my friends. I lived in a pretty conservative town with many pretty conservative people, and I don't think much like most of them. I don't believe that people choose to be gay or that you are any more dangerous if you had a different color skin. I love hummus and naan, and edamame. I ignore most fashion trends and buy vintage and classic looks, but...

BUT. And here it is. But I didn't know any of that yet. In high school, I didn't have gay friends (at least not ones who were anywhere near out) or know many people of color or other ethnicities. Our small town didn't have any particularly adventurous food options, and I hadn't really developed a personal style yet (I was just trying to wrestle my hair into a look that didn't resemble a mop or a poodle). In high school, all those personal feelings and beliefs were still swirling dimly through in me. Nothing had yet to solidify into a conviction. At that point in my life, I just felt like I didn't fit in. I didn't particularly understand why, let alone feel good about being different. And it wasn't until college that I actually got the chance to realize and embrace my beliefs.

So the reason I look back on high school with such rancor doesn't really have anything to do with the outside experiences I underwent there, but more with what was happening on the inside. I wasn't me yet, so every time I am reminded of high school I also get a shot of that feeling of being adrift and unsure. And as a gal who thrives on having a confident opinion on pretty much everything, it's hard to feel good about a time in my life where I didn't have an understanding of, let alone confidence in, my fledgling opinions.