Apartment, Lately

So somewhat recently I moved into this cute apartment in Lincoln Park. Except, it’s mostly only cute because it’s small, and theoretically small things are inherently cute. Theoretically.

That sounds a big pessimistic. I know. But some days I look around and lament the lack of a bedroom. Some days I can’t help but keep noticing the stains and scars on one corner of the ceiling and wall from when the place upstairs last leaked, purportedly last winter. Some days I look at my so-far lame attempts to put things I like on the walls and feel a bit like an interior decorating failure.

Some days I just sigh melodramatically: “Oh dear.”

But other days I know how lucky I am, that I can live as close to work downtown as I do with Chicago’s ridiculous living costs, and that my little studio is technically on the bigger side—for a city like Chicago, at least.


This past week I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking through all the little details I’ve been avoiding making decisions on—and some big details, like actually putting things on the walls. (And cleaning. Oh cleaning.)

My family will be in town this weekend, and it’s just been some pretty good motivation to just finish.

And I’ve got a lot of questions. Is it normal to take this long to put things on the walls? Does it take other 20 somethings a few homes before they get better at all of this? How much weight can I place on what other people think when they walk in my door without it being pride? And is it possible to be completely happy with your home?


Eventually I’ll put some pictures up of a clean, decorated space. In the meantime, tell me your stories: what were your first homes like? Did a big, melodramatic “Oh, dear” ever come from your lips? And blank walls, how long did you let yours live?

Growing into my newly-minted adulthood: a blog series (of sorts)

In an effort to get more comfortable with updating more frequently—and, really, with sharing more of my personal life—I’m setting myself up for a mini-challenge. While I completely flaked and didn’t even bother trying to participate in the Nester’s 31 day challenge, I realized I could make my own. Instead of 31 days, I’m taking it easy and going for once a week, for ten weeks: through the end of the year. To actually make it a decent challenge, I’m not counting book posts (either goal ones or Twitterature) or top-of-the-head life updates about coffee or quiche.

Part two of the challenge should be that posts that are mostly drafted don’t count, right? And I’ll go one step further and say that I have to make an effort to post those in good time as well.

As for a theme, I struggled to pinpoint one area that I want to consistently talk about (that isn’t books), but a list of things I wanted to but haven’t written about yet pointed me towards one of those ultra-cliche topics: growing up; being a newly-minted adult; independence and all that jazz.

Safety, commuting, professionalism and clothes, reading as an adult, hobbies, friendships, feminism, independence, church: all of these are deeply embedded into the whole shebang of figuring out how to do my adulthood & even personhood in these first couple of years.

So I’ll write about it. It’s time, and maybe I’ll keep figuring out more through the process

 

Reading, Lately [September]

The list below gives evidence of A) September simply being an inexplicably good month of reading; and B) my nerdish desire to make my Goodreads reading challenge in exactly 3/4 of the year, once I realized it was a viable possibility.

(And I did, in fact, pick the shortish novella A Tangled Web on September 30th to achieve that. Yes, that’s almost cheating. No, I don’t care.)

Fiction


Fortunately, the Milk  
Neil Gaiman

Sometimes I think that Neil Gaiman is my favorite genre. This kids book isn’t really in any way relevant to that thought—because it’s necessarily very different from his non-kids books—but this remarkably clever story makes me think it anyways.

I gave this as a gift to a friend who loves children’s books long before even reading it, because I knew it would be good. And now that I’ve listened to it on audio book (read by Gaiman, even better!), I’m trying to come up with an excuse to put my hands on a hard copy again, because apparently the illustrations are lovely.

Rules of Civility  Amor Towles
I think it was lovely. It was lovely, right? Perhaps it was mostly lovely. I got bored a few times, and that doesn’t lend itself to the description, but when I was enjoying it, which was much of the time, it was. Lovely, that is. And I finished much of the second third or so quickly, as I was just into it quite a bit more by then.

 

Big Little Lies  Liane Moriarty

Big issues, light book. It feels like reading chick-li, and I suppose it is, but Moriarty is good here are packing the best kind of fluff right around the tougher things. I don’t know much much sense that actually makes, but anyways, I enjoyed this one all the way through.

 

 

Left Neglected  Lisa Genova

This one has been sitting on my bookshelf, waiting for me to do this silly self-challenge to read the poor books waiting for me on my bookshelves. I picked it up from the used bookstore, even though I’d been wanting to read another book by Genova more — but this one was there! It wasn’t anything special, but I liked engaging in the story, and all of everything in here about left neglect was fascinating.

 

The Geography of You and Me  Jennifer E. Smith

Silly, fun YA… but also a bit of a downer for some of it? This was another one where I did enjoy the reading, and I was more or less motivated to finish the story, but it didn’t wow me in the slightest. Maybe it was the improbability of a teenage romance lasting too much past the last page, but I’ve read plenty of books where I didn’t mind that.

 

A Tangled Web  Mercedes Lackey

Short 90-page adventure through Lackey’s vision of what Greek Mythology looks like in her 500 Kingdoms world. Picked for my need to finish a book that day– and it was perfect for that. Not as good as the first two or three books in the 500 Kingdoms series, but significantly better than the final three.

 


 

Non-fiction

Bird by Bird Anne Lamott

I devoured the first few chapters of this right when I bought it several months ago, but once it became more focused on fiction it became a bit-by-bit book for me, since I don’t really write fiction. It took ages to finish, but was completely worth it: even the things that didn’t apply much to me were good. But if you’re also not a fiction writer, and don’t much care to read about it, the beginning and end are particularly great.

 

How To Be a Woman Caitlin Moran

I have absolutely no idea how to review this. The first who chapters feel quite a bit crass, but only so much in that we don’t really like talking about going through puberty all that much! It might not be for everyone, especially in my usual circles, but it was so worth it for me, particularly the later bits more specifically on feminism. Perhaps the most true thing I can tell you is that I carried this around at all times and finished it in under two days.

 

 

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Dear Monday: Go home. You’re drunk on coffee.

It’s Monday and this morning I drank coffee.

IMG_4053.JPG

(Yes, I understand for most of you this is a normal thing, part of your routine, and possibly even part of your very identity. You’ll just have to trust me that this was an unusual thing to have happen to my mouth.)

Now, I subscribe to the strong belief that coffee is an exceptionally untasty thing. I wouldn’t call it nasty, but that’s sheerly because I respect the good that it does in the world.

So I generally avoid it.

And yet, this morning, I partook.

I suppose this is what happens when you’re unexpectedly asked to attend a meeting ten minutes before it starts; when you stayed up late working on other projects; and when h you aren’t utterly certain you’ll even stay awake through the meeting, much less pay attention.

(I should probably admit that it was only half a cup, because I needed room for the disgustingly excessive amounts of cream and sugar necessary to make it palatable.)

(But then I did the same thing after my meeting, so…)

Anyways.

In the midst of all this unusual-for-me caffeine consumption, I had a revelation.

Coffee is medicine.

Whaaaaaat?

Coffee is medicine for tired.

Many of you already knew this, but perhaps because you do, in fact, think the stuff tastes good, you didn’t bother to explain this to me.

Shame on you.

This means I can stop thinking that I may as well not drink coffee because I don’t like the taste. I can just drink it to feel like I’m slightly less sleep-deprived on Mondays.

Coffee doesn’t have to be enjoyed! Because it’s medicine!

This is revolutionary.

And life-changing!

And…

Is this how addiction starts?

 

 

 

[Autumn Reading] Why I have to force myself to read the books I already own


FallReading

My summer reading was technically a bust—but only IF we grade me by how many of the 12 planned books actually got read.

So let’s not grade me by that, eh?

The Interestings || Meg Wolitzer
Froi of the Exiles || Melina Marchetta
Garlic and Sapphires: The Secret Life of a Food Critic || Ruth Reichl
The Girl You Left Behind ||Jojo Moyes

Look at that, I read 4 out of 12! (Woop de doo.)

But I’m also still reading Torn; I read about a 1/3 of Sweet Life in Paris before deciding not to renew it when it came due; and I tried listening to House of Hades on audio book before giving up and signing up for a nice, long wait list for the ebook with my library.

And in the “alotted” two months, I powered through some six other books that never made it on the original list.

So was it really a bust? I’m declaring no. I had various reasons for not starting the remaining five: the price of Pastrix, the moxie required to attempt Women Who Run with Wolves, and not wanting to start the huge Ender’s Game series yet all came into play.

The only book on that list I have absolutely no excuse for not reading? I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.

That book has been sitting my stack for months now, just staring at me.

(I’ll get to it eventually, I swear!)


The actual Fall Reading “plan”

I don’t exactly have a Fall Reading plan. You could argue that I do, maybe, but it’s a bit… looser.

I’m going to read the books I already own.

(Um, Jenna, isn’t the kind of obvious?) (Shush.)

Here’s the thing, the absolutely ridiculous thing, the thing that I really hope is not just my ridiculous thing: sometimes I buy books I have no intention of reading right away.

This is somewhat normal, if still crazy, right? It happens most in used book stores, when there’s no guarantee I’ll see that book for cheap again! (Never mind that I very rarely will have a crisis where I need that particular book right now  and can’t wait for Amazon Prime.)

In addition to the sweet guarantee that I’ll have said random book when said unlikely crisis occurs, I also just like buying, having, and decorating with books. (How else would I have enough to make a rainbow with the spines? Seriously.)

(We’ll deal with the budgeting problem inherent in this some other time.)

Some of these books-I-own-but-have-not-read are non-fiction, which just take me a bit more motivation to pick up. But mostly, it’s the very simple reason that I always have my Kindle on me—and I don’t always want to carry physical books. So I end up reading one or two of the books-I-own-but-have-not-read in fits and spurts for months, while tearing through library kindle books because easier.

The result of this madness is that I have quite a few books that I theoretically want to read, but never get to.

So that’s my fall reading plan: to read them.

Below is the madness that is the books I haven’t read from my shelves at home. This isn’t everything, but it’s a good amount of it.

I have no intention to try to read everything here, but it’s the pool I’ll be picking from as much as possible  this fall.

That is, in between my Kindle books, of course. 😉

AutumnReadingCovers

 

This post is linked up with Everyday Reading’s Third Quarter Reading link up, despite the fact that is has more to do with future reading than July-August. Woops.