Bookish (and not so Bookish) Thoughts

It's that time again. You know the drill.

1. I don't typically pay attention to how many years and whatnot that I have been blogging, but I realized that it will have been seven years here in a few days! Come back and visit for a post with a giveaway soon.

2. Saturday I took Sawyer to walk around Newport Beach for awhile and it was perfect. He loved it, the weather was absolutely perfect, and it was nice to get away from the area where I live for awhile (we're about an hour inland). It also finally felt like summer; sometimes I have trouble with change and transition, so I haven't really settled in to my time off yet (I know, I sound like an asshole to all you people that aren't teachers). But now that I've done that, gone to LA for the reading the other night, and have some more things planned I'm starting to feel like I am finally taking advantage of the time. 

[a Little Free Library outside a super wealthy person's beach mansion]

3. My Harry Potter sorting hat results are spot on:

4. I've been spending some time reading The Rumpus lately and can see it being a serious time suck.

5. Some good parenting advice about helping your kids acclimate to life's adversity:


6. I've started reading Persepolis, the graphic novel, and am really getting into it. I don't know a ton about Iran, so I feel like I'm learning a lot, too. 

7. I'm working on my photo book for 2017, hoping to get caught up before I go back to work, and I have come to the conclusion that my computer is the equivalent to someone else's incredibly messy closet or guest room. I'm fairly neat, but this laptop is a ridiculously unorganized shit show that I can't even begin to get together. 

Roxane Gay Reading

Last night one of my good friends and I drove up to LA with the primary mission of seeing Roxane Gay discuss her newest book, the memoir Hunger. Secondary: a stop at The Pie Hole beforehand for some of their deliciousness (their Maple Custard is the best pie I've ever had). There was no traffic either way, the weather was cooler, and parking was only $5. Clearly, it was a good night. 

Gay spoke to a packed auditorium at the Japanese American Culture and Community Center (put on by ALOUD) and was hilarious, honest, and poignant. At the time I was two-thirds through her book (now done), so it was interesting to hear her elaborate a bit on some of the topics she writes about. The discussion was often quite serious, as it should be when discussing rape, body image, and the cruelties of society (and self). Gay refused to let the mood stay somber, interjecting a healthy dose of humor into her reflections as she often does in her writing. I appreciated her mentioning that she writes only for herself; she is aware of her audience and respects them, but her authenticity prevails. Her trajectory into the public eye has been a challenge for her, as she often desires to not be noticed at all. She also revisited the struggle of her role as an imperfect feminist, as well, which I relate to immensely. 

I highly, highly recommend reading Hunger and seeing her if she ends up in a city near you. Her writing is thought-provoking, forcing you to analyze how you see yourself and others. 

Travel Considerations

[image source]

This summer is a low-key one for travel around these parts. So far this year I've been to Vegas, Yosemite, and Modesto, so my hotel expenditures are on hold for the time being. That doesn't mean I haven't been dealt a healthy dose of wanderlust, though. It doesn't help matters that I've had a few conversations with friends about potential future trips, and that Sawyer is turning out to be such an excellent little traveler. 

In the past I've taken some pretty great trips- Italy, Hawaii, Mexico, the Caribbean, NYC, etc...- but not really since Sawyer has been born (just Tahoe, Yosemite, and Modesto). My husband is not a traveler, which is totally fine, but taking a young kid alone on an airplane, and then navigating through the logistics of a car seat and whatnot, have admittedly been a little daunting. But in the next year or two he will be able to move into a booster, which will make things a lot easier to manage, and will also be easier to leave at home so that I can go alone or with friends (I have left him for three nights before, but the older he gets the less guilty I will feel about maybe five or seven days, since he is less trouble and a better sleeper). Given these developments, I've been doing a lot of daydreaming about potential trips and scenarios. I have some savings goals I'd like to hit first, but hopefully 2018 or 2019 will allow me to get back into the big wide world. Here are some of my current considerations:

As a Family

Seattle, Washington
Scott and I have always wanted to got to Seattle, and a few years ago our good friends moved up, so I have been bugging him for ages to go. I think this would be a great first plane trip for Sawyer, since it's only a few hours and a direct flight. Judging from all the pictures I have seen of the area between friends and family, it's beautiful and full of plenty of family-friendly activities.

Scott and I went together for Christmas in 2010 and had a blast (this is actually the only time we have ever flown together!). I think Sawyer would have a really great time and there are so many family-friendly resorts. We stayed at Turtle Bay on the North Shore and I loved it SO much I wouldn't be opposed to returning. 

With Just My Husband

Scotland or Ireland
This is really the only international trip he has expressed significant interest in, so if he's willing I'm ready! I don't think this is a trip I'd want to take a Sawyer on anytime soon, although I am no longer against paying to take him abroad like I was before I had a child (my opinion that Europe should be a rite of passage for a young adult who can pay his/her way has been replaced with my own selfish desire to have a guaranteed travel buddy). It just seems like there would be better options if he was tagging along. 

With Just Sawyer

Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada 

Sawyer and I love nature and hiking very much, and I have had my eye on this place for years. I think it would be amazing to go during the winter, but probably more practical during the summer in terms of outdoor activities and my lack of experience driving in the snow. I'd stay on Lake Louise, I already have a few hotels in mind, and it seems pretty easy for Americans to rent cars there, so I feel like this trip would be pretty manageable. Plus maybe we could hang out in Calgary for a day or two as well! Out of all the potential trips on here, I am actually most excited by the prospect of this one. 

Portland, Oregon

Despite there now being a Voodoo Donuts in Southern California, I still want to visit Portland. I hear nothing but great things about it, and it too would be an easy flight from Southern California for Sawyer and I. 

With My Fun, Spirited, Adventurous Friend

Parts of Europe or Iceland 

Recently a friend and I started throwing out some travel options for the two of us to consider for the next few years. We talked about Europe (Switzerland! Germany!) and Iceland, for starters. I have never taken a trip with her before, but I am pretty confident we could travel well together. A lot of things we are on par with (like willing to splurge on, say hotels, for example), so that makes a huge difference.  

With My Book-Loving Friend and Colleague

Nashville, Tennessee 

This is mostly because I want to go to Ann Patchett's Parnassus and this friend and I go to readings and other literary events together (she has no idea about these hypothetical plans, haha). We've traveled together for work a few times before, so we definitely can handle that part (the logistics of leaving our families and jobs would be the hard part, not surprisingly). 

With My Mom and Brother

Denali National Park, Alaska

I really haven't had an overwhelming desire to ever take an Alaskan Cruise, as I am confused about what the time at sea would be spent doing (I am pretty confident there aren't people sunbathing on deck sipping margaritas while lathering on suntan lotion, which is my preferred sailing activity). But flying up and spending some time exploring Denali? That sounds wonderful. I WANT TO SEE A MOOSE. My mom has always wanted to go and my brother is the young, outdoorsy type, so I know we'd have fun. 


Washington, DC

I want to spend a day alone in the Smithsonian. Maybe two. Is it bad that there are a lot of American-y places I have no desire to go to at all? Sorry Abe.

New York City

I have been to the Big Apple before, with my mother-in-law, and we crammed basically every touristy thing one would want to do into three days. It was basically the survey course for NYC and it was fantastic. I'd love to go back alone and revisit some of the places we went to (The Natural History Museum, the Guggenheim, Central Park, etc...), try some more obscure, well-reviewed restaurants, and see some places I didn't the first time around. 

A Spa Somewhere Fairly Remote

Honestly, I don't care where exactly it is, as long as it's quiet, there are massages, and I can look at my windows and see trees and water. While there are some really beautiful ones on the West Coast, it would probably be good to go somewhere new. Maybe... Maine? There are some really, really beautiful ones there and I've never been.

Bookish (and not so Bookish) Thoughts

Link up, link back, say hey!

1. Today is the last day of our first heat wave (supposedly). We've been up at 100 for a few days now, and I while I know other places in the country have it far worse, it's still pretty disgusting. I must say how thankful I am for our attic fan (or whole house fan), that cools off our upstairs once it gets cool at night for pennies, compared to the AC.

2. I love my life, most of the time, but I can't sometimes help wishing I had become an OBGYN so I could join up with Doctor's Without Borders and go help women deliver babies and learn about prenatal care in developing nations. I really, really feel called to do that, but I can't because talking about themes and motifs and everything else I am trained to do probably would not be helpful as they're trying to push something the size of a football through a hole the size of a grape (or something like that).

3. Am I the only person distrusting of Airbnbs? I love the price and the idea of all the variety, but it just seems strange to me.

4. I've had this fear that the preschool Sawyer is set to start at soon somehow lost his paperwork and didn't save his spot (it's hard to find a good, secular preschool where we live), so I finally put on my big-girl pants and called and we're good to go (I had signed up in February, so it's been awhile). They also invited me to come pick up some of the calendars for the next month so he can go on field trips or participate in family night, which I thought was nice. He is SO excited to go and give his love of the teachers and kids at gymnastics I think he's going to do well.

5. I made the above cake for an early birthday for my mom, who has been visiting. I love The Milk Bar's style of cake making so much- sure it's a little bit of a pain, but it's so forgiving and you don't have to worry about a crumb coat. 

6. I got back on the Goodreads train! I spent an entire nap time last week putting in all the books I have record of since starting my blog many years ago and the ones I haven't gotten around to yet. I'm not putting a widget on the blog, since I don't want to screw up the design I didn't make, but I'm going to attempt to put one in below so that anyone can follow me if they want (who knows if it will work).

 Goodreads: Book reviews, recommendations, and discussion

7. I am reading Waking Lions by Ayelet Gundar-Goshen right now and am really enjoying it. It's about a doctor in the deserts of Israel who kills an African refugee and must then pay the price in an unexpected way once the man's widow arrives at his doorstep. 

Lemme Tell You a Story (4)

My perfect compromise to not joining SnapChat but still having fun with the idea- Instastories. Every month or so I pop a few of mine up here to lighten the mood: