Recently Read

stack of booksIn the midst of pre-wedding lunacy, I stopped having the bandwidth for anything. But then I got married, immediately stopped thinking about getting married, and I tumbled through a bunch of books.

The Cove, by Ron Rash: In the tradition of Heaven and Winter’s Bone, this book is about back woods Appalachia people, albeit set in World War I times. Laurel has got some sort of birthmark and she lives up on a part of the mountain that is shady, so neighboring mountain hicks think she is a witch. She finds a mute man in the woods and he doesn’t think she’s a witch, so she gets friendly. Good ole boys get rage-y and tragedy ensues.

Among Others, by Jo Walton:  A cross between a Flavia de Luce novel and What a Girl Wants, that movie with Colin Firth and Amanda Bynes. Told diary-style by the protagonist, who (unlike Laurel above) IS a witch. A teenage witch! She doesn’t really do anything witch-y, though. In fact, she is adamant about not using magic. But she does see fairies in the woods. Mostly, the book is about how she likes to read a lot of science fiction and fantasy novels.

The Imperfectionists, by Tom Rachman: A novel that’s really a collection of short stories. Stories about the various people who work for a newspaper in Rome during a several-decade time period. The pieces aren’t really tied up into some neat inter-connected package like you might expect. But each little tale is so piquant in its illustration of some emotional exchange or experience, that I think this was, in the end, quite good.

The Lifeboat, by Charlotte Rogan:  A big passenger ship sinks in 1914 (2 years after the Titanic) and some of the people get in lifeboats. The book opens with Grace on trial for her life for something that happened while she was on a lifeboat with 39 other people for 3 weeks. What follows is an account of her experience on the lifeboat with the other survivors who suffer and power-struggle, while she reflects on her path to marriage-trap Henry, who she’s JUST married about two seconds ago and who is super rich, but no one knows she has married!

Big Machaine, by Victor LaValle:  For such a seemingly juicy plot, this was a bit of a slog to get through. There’s a supernatural element that seemed superfluous to the better parts of the book – the story of Ricky Rice, growing up in a strange religious cult, becoming a heroin addict, mysteriously being invited to Vermont to work as a oblivious researcher on a team of other societally-rejected black folk.

The Snow Child, by Eowyn Ivey:  Fairy tale-esque and as such, rather predictable. But very engaging and nice to read. A girl appears in the place of a snowman made by an elderly couple who lives miles away from anyone else. She disappears in the summer and reappears every year once the snow falls. Incredibly beautiful descriptions of winter homesteading life in Alaska.

Up next – Telegraph Avenue and The Golem and the Jinni. Anything else I should add to the queue?

 

2 Comments

Filed under Book crave, entertain me: reading & watching

august thirty-first

so.

I’m married!

The David and I got married on August 31 on a very sunny Saturday in Oakland.
IMG_4462

It was a gorgeous day and it somehow, miraculously, turned out just like I had pictured it might.

We’ll get access to use the photographer’s photos after the new year, but in the mean time, I’ll try to convey what it was like with the various snapshots I have.

Overall, we wanted to feel like ourselves and I shied away from anything that I wouldn’t normally do. I wear dresses, but I don’t wear gowns. I like to decorate with flowers, but I don’t carry them around with me.

Normalcy be damned, though. I started weeping in the morning while I was getting ready and continued to do so off and on. So a lot of what I remember is crying and trying not to.

We both wrote our own vows, which ended up being even cuter than I thought we were. One of my favorite bits was The David’s promise to love me even when I have the snots, which he said precisely as I was blowing my nose.

Lisa Congdon officiated for us and did a wonderful job of it. She got married a few months before us. Leading up to her own wedding, she wrote so genuinely about her joy and delight in love. The sound and sentiment of her beliefs were exactly what I wanted I wanted to be surrounded by while we did the marrying. And fantastically, she agreed to give some of her Lisaness to us.

75 of our friends and family came to spend the day with us, including The David’s parents, his sister+brother-in-law+their-3-kids, and one of his buddies from England. I had a goodly representation from the east coast. But the majority of the guests are a part of the family we’ve built for ourselves here in the Bay Area. I was struck by how special and fleeting it was to have all of our people gathered together in one place; there will never be another opportunity like that.

1185092_10152485458117137_408825325_n

I was surrounded by my best ladyfriends, who all picked out their own yellow dresses: one from my first real job, my sister-in-law, one from high school, and one from college.  (A fifth intended lady friend had had some unexpected travel conundrums and couldn’t make it.)
1185460_436105419841855_1312455868_n

David wore some yah-HELLOW pants and all his dudes wore bow ties and blue gingham shirts. It was great. A fantastic blend of British and San Francisco hipster.

1184876_436104633175267_1083499534_n

 

I had wanted the dinner to look and feel like something that I might have invited you to in my own home, without formal floral arrangements or place settings and I think it turned out beautifully. A dear friend and her mom sewed the yellow gingham table runners for me. The dishes and utensils were all compostable. The flowers were arranged in jars and cans that I’d saved for the past few months.

The food was fantastic. Seriously the best wedding food I think I’ve ever had. We had ribs and bbq chicken, a kale salad, a roasted corn and zucchini salad, and whole wheat mac n cheese. There were incredible deviled eggs, watermelon skewers, and sausage rolls passed before dinner. And there was an amazing cheese table. Later we had two kinds of pie, strawberry rhubarb and blackberry nectarine, with sweet cream ice cream.
994332_10151792863834318_1638758045_n

1383256_10151923647544310_1191522444_n

 

We demonstrated our swing dancing skills (rudimentary) for our first dance to Mumford and Sons I Will Wait.

1173878_436104783175252_2144697979_nThere were far off fireworks at the end of the night over the Oakland A’s coliseum. We packed up a ton of leftover food and a million flowers and went home to our new house.

I don’t feel different, but I do feel amazed and happy that we did it. And I am, as ever, surprised at just how much I lucked out with this fellow of mine.

 

3 Comments

Filed under Momentousness, Special happy things, The David

getting not-robbed

 

Last week, I experienced something pretty awful.

On Monday morning, I was in a line of people waiting for a ride into San Francisco, when three young black kids in hoodies turned up with guns and robbed as many people as they could before running away and getting into a car.

I was not robbed myself, but I was there in the line for casual carpool.

20131003-102340.jpg

That sign is the sign for casual carpool. That guy is about to get into that car. In about 45 seconds, I am also about to get into that car.

I happened to be at the front of the line and talking to the women next to me, so I was turned towards the rest of the line facing her. I saw these guys moving through the line in a strange way – why would you pass through a group of people like that when you could just go around?

The line started breaking up and I heard someone say “is this for real?”

As soon as I saw the gun, I backed up a few steps and said to the woman I had been talking to “look out, look out.” She still had her back to them and hadn’t seen anything yet.

She turned around and we backed up some more. I saw the kid closest to me facing a guy from the line, who then slowly took a backpack off his shoulder and give it to the kid.  And then I turned around and ran around the corner.

Having my back to them was terrifying. Would they chase after me? Would they try to shoot me? How far should I go? Could I call the police and run at the same time?

After an eternity or a few minutes, I ran down a driveway and ducked between the back of an SUV and some garbage cans, where I called 911. After a busy signal, I tried again. I listened to some messages in different languages and waited until I finally spoke to a person. I told her that there was a robbery happening and she transferred me to the Oakland emergency line. Then I told someone else that a robbery was happening, where it was, that I had not personally been robbed, and I gave her my name and number.

And then I creeped back down the driveway and saw other people heading towards the carpool spot. Since they didn’t seem to come running back around or anything, I decided to go back to see what was happening, because surely it would be over by now. Plus, I really couldn’t figure out where else I might go.

The kids were definitely gone, and the scene was a bit chaotic. There were people in small groups, one woman was crying hysterically. There was no line. There were cars pulled up, waiting for passengers, but no one was getting in them.  So I got into the first car and told the driver what had happened. There was another passenger who had also been there; she had just run straight across the street when she realized what was going on. The third passenger had just arrived on the scene.

Police were not there by the time we left.

People keep saying that I was so smart to get away. But it wasn’t planned. I just stepped back. And no one stopped me from moving away or told me to do otherwise. I mean, you can only rob one person at a time, right? And I happened to not be one of the first ones. So I managed to just move away.

The kids didn’t yell or make any noise. I’m not sure I heard them say anything. They didn’t point the guns, they just sort of held them, the way you would hold a water bottle in your hand. So it was really, really scary to see a gun and understand that it was a threat, but they weren’t acting particularly threatening. I don’t think they even touched anyone, and no one was hurt. But eight people were robbed of their purses and back packs and laptop bags.

A few days later, the police came to my house after work and showed me pictures to ask me if I could identify any of the robbers. I couldn’t.

They currently have two people in custody, one a 17-year old, who is probably the one who was closest to me.

I’ve been going back to casual carpool since then, but I make sure to keep my phone in my pocket and I’m trying to be more aware. I’m mostly fine; not freaking out all the time. This morning, though, I heard a man’s voice behind me on the sidewalk and my heart started racing. He was just saying hello to someone else he saw.

Once I realized what was happening that morning, I had the thought that at least it wasn’t my birthday today (it was the next day). Because man, it would suck to get robbed on your birthday.

But I didn’t get robbed at all.

 

 

3 Comments

Filed under Today, Uncategorized

belated birthday

There is a lot of belated going on around here, but the one I choose to report on now is my belated birthday, from last week when I went and turned thirty-six.

Prior to this birthday, there were many things transpiring. In the month of August, The David and I bought a house and we also got married. Which means that we had also recently spent a lot of time looking at houses, making offers, getting approved by banks, followed by packing up and moving and then living out of boxes, and clearing out an apartment that I’d lived in for 9 years. Plus the getting married!  I’m not going to list all of the things that went into planning a wedding in our four month long engagement, because I choose not to go back into that scary head place. Later. I will talk more about it later.

Suffice it to say, we planned to take a week off of work after the wedding, but knew that it was going to full of out-of-town visitors and unpacking boxes and putting up towel racks. It was nice, of course, to have the time off, but it was not a honeymoon of romance and relaxation and recovery.

But through it all, I had this far off knowing:  my company gives us a PTO day for our birthdays, so on Tuesday, September 24, I would have this random day off, all to myself.

That day happened and it was perfect.

The David knew of my wishes to spend the day lollygagging in bed with books and cats, so he (in a move that has totally sold me on this whole husband concept) prepped for my day by stocking up on snacks and my favorite Trader Joe’s lunch, chilling a bottle of vodka in the freezer, laundering all of the bedding, getting fresh flowers, and buying a stopper and a bath bomb for the bathtub.

20131002-131513.jpg

So I woke up and The David brought me my green smoothie in bed for breakfast. This happens every day and is non-birthday specific. I know, I got a good one.

But then, I proceeded to not get out of bed. I cozied up with a novel and one of my fur babies.

20131002-131357.jpg

I ate a bag of cheddar popcorn, still in bed, and finished my book.

I managed to get up out of bed and went for a massage, which was glorious. Followed by a pedicure, which was grossly overdue.

Then I came home, got back into bed and started a new novel, loving on a new cat.

20131002-131411.jpg

Then I got up, and watched an episode of America’s Next Top Model, which now has boy models in it, but is otherwise still fantastically awful.

And then I made myself a cocktail! In a copper mug! (Vodka, ginger beer, and lime juice.)
I sat outside supping on my drink and reading my book and listing to my sweet sweet booger cats yowling at me from the door.

20131002-131423.jpg

The David came home with takeout from Homeroom, the macaroni and cheese restaurant down the street. We sat outside and started a fire in our new fire pit, drank Moscow Mules, and ate our macaroni and cheese.

20131002-131500.jpg

I took a bath (not pictured) and went to bed.

And it was the best.

3 Comments

Filed under Special happy things, Today

that time when i strutted around with my shirt off

Last week, I attended FitBloggin’ 2013, a conference for healthy living oriented bloggers in Portland, OR.

There were a lot of bits about that trip that were worthy of note, but one of the standouts for me was participating in a fashion show.

It was organized by the incredible Emmie, who asked participants if they’d be willing to model with just a sports bra and no shirt ahead of time. Over email I was very cavalier about it. It’s just my body and why shouldn’t other people see what I look like in a sports bra? Isn’t that the whole point of modeling something? So that other people can see what it looks like on an actual body? It’s no big deal. And the more I act like it’s no big deal, the more it isn’t one. Right? !!

But as it loomed ever closer, I started to have some feelings. About the looking and the seeing and the putting it all out there. I was nervous. Scared, even. Feelings that increased dramatically as I was lined up in the hallway waiting for my turn to step out and walk the runway.

When it was time, I put on some cheap pink sunglasses and stomped out in the conference room and whipped off my shirt, throwing it aside with a maniacal vigor, displaying my shiny pink Enell sports bra in all its glory.

I blame the nerves. I was so scared that I just went balls deep. I did not so much as walk the runway, as strut it. Like a jive talking peacock. I’m not sure I could walk like this again now if I wanted to.

1045247_651157174913967_218333842_n

Exhibit A: strutting

I got to one end, leaned over, and I shimmied. It was all “God wouldn’t have given you maracas if he didn’t want you to shake ‘em!” It was a shimmy I had never managed to produce in any Zumba or dance class or in any of my own comedic stylings.

1016627_651157168247301_867759582_n

Exhibit B: Shimmying

There was one more point on the runway that I had to get to and then it would be over. I was still riding on a wave of adrenaline. I know there was a huge room full of people, but I didn’t really see them.

945333_651157171580634_2070189393_n

Exhibit C: a moment of sultry calm

The whole point of a sports bra is to control bounce, so I felt like I should probably demonstrate. In my mind I was going to do jumping jacks, but what happened instead, I think, was chaotic, gleeful leaping.

20130704-101832.jpg

And that was that. The entire group did some rounds all together, walking around in a line, with none of the pressure that the solo performance did.

fashion show final walk

We finished and I put my shirt back on, high on exhilaration.

It was scary, but I’m so glad and amazed that I did it. A million thanks to Emmie and Enell for the opportunity.

 

12 Comments

Filed under About a blog, Fitness and/or Fatness

On June 26th

20130626-144608.jpg

Five years ago today, I met The David. At a wine bar that no longer exists. I couldn’t stop giggling about the Britishness happening. I don’t remember too much about that night, but I do know that he asked if we could meet again on Sunday and that I said “yes.”

Since then, there’ve been a lot of other yeses. Not least of which is the promise to stand up with our friends and family in 66 days and say yes forever a thousand times.

I take it for granted that we are allowed to get married. It was such a momentousness for us to come to the decision ourselves, I can’t fathom anyone or anything else making a contribution to that decision. So today, on this big anniversary, I am grateful for the strides made in granting the right to marry to everyone. It’s been a wonderful day to appreciate what I have and how much it means to me.

2 Comments

Filed under Special happy things, The David, Today

i think i wanna marry you

20130621-120921.jpg

This is pretty old news now, but it’s time to note it for posterity: The David and I are getting married!

And when I say that we’re getting married, I don’t just mean that we got engaged, but literally that we’re getting married. In like 2 seconds. On August 31.

There wasn’t a proposal, per se, but on the couch in our living room, after work on Friday, April 12, there was a conversation that resulted in the decision that we should get married.
The words “we might as well get married” were issued. I almost swooned at the onslaught of romance.

And on the tails of this decision, we learned that the green card The David thought he would be getting through his employer was actually not going to materialize and that since he was almost all out of visa juice, he’d have to leave the country in November of this year.

Hence, the 4 month engagement.

And then we went out and drank beers and ate tater tots with cheese and bacon.

 

3 Comments

Filed under Family, Friends and other Humans, Momentousness, The David, Uncategorized