Bookish (and not so Bookish) Thoughts

[Lake Tahoe when I was there four years ago]

Link up, link back, say hey!

1. I'm on book five of summer break (we're two and a half weeks in). I am proud. I'm about half way through Ways to Disappear by Idra Novey and while I do find it interesting, I think there are a lot of areas that it's lacking, at least so far 

2. I am soon leaving for Lake Tahoe for three nights for work training and I am equal parts excited and full of dread. Obviously, three nights of guaranteed sleep and no domestic responsibility is pretty amazing, as is the beautiful location (we get done by three or four and can hike in the afternoon), and the quality of the seminars (I've gone for something in a different subject before). But, the logistics of leaving are a bit tedious. I hope everything goes smoothly and I can learn lots, relax, and get to spend some outside. 

3. I took Sawyer to a place called Pretend City today with a friend and her kids, and it was the coolest kid's museum ever. Basically, it's set up like a small town and the kids can interact in little rooms set up like a doctor's office, farm, STEM lab, gas station, fire department, etc... It was clean, creative, and the kids had a total blast. I even signed up for a membership since it was such a good deal. I think we only have to go back four more times in a year for it to be worth the price. Not bad.

4. We've had a busy few days, since we went to Downtown Disney over the weekend as a family, had a friend over to swim yesterday, and then have things scheduled for the rest of the week. But busy if good when busy is fun, and it has been, minus the scheduled well-child check up for Sawyer tomorrow. 

5. I am absolutely addicted to G.H. Cretor's Chicago Mix Popcorn. It's half caramel and half cheese, in the same bag. I pretty much hate popcorn, but this stuff is the best.

6. So, I love the Des' sit-in going on right now for gun control regulation, but I'm doubtful it will really help. I love that those who aren't participating are bringing their colleagues things like "soda pop" and "Pop Tarts." Damn straight. If you aren't going to help me work, the least you can do is bring me a Diet Coke and a strawberry Pop-Tart.

7. Apparently I'm going to just keep talking about food, because my husband sent me a link to Burger King's newest heart-attack-in-a-wrapper creation, which I must try:


8. These are the best shorts, ever, period, the end. They zip on the side, have a  scalloped hem, and can be dressed up or down. I have two black pairs (and many, many others from the Riveria line, and basically live in them every day). PSA: I think they're 50% right how. 

9. The other night I had a dream that the pool guy said that there was something wrong with our pool pump and GUESS WHAT! When I woke up the pump wasn't cycling water through and I had to call him to come fix it (I also worked myself into an impressive internal state of pissiness because I just knew that it was going to cost hundreds of dollars to repair... and then it was basically nothing and I don't think he's even going to charge us... the silver lining to seeing the glass half empty is the occasional pleasant surprise).  

10. If you have a toddler I highly recommend the Suryia and Roscoe books. they're not exactly brilliantly written, but Sawyer loves seeing the dog photographs of the dog and the orangutan together. He mimics Suryia's expressions and has me hold him upside down when we get to a certain page.  

When Breath Becomes Air

I don't tend to do whole posts centered on just one book, but I do make exceptions, most often for nonfiction works. When Breath Becomes Air, by Paul Kalanithi, is such one. I read this unfinished memoir in less than a day, sucked in by his cerebral, yet lovely, prose, his philosophical pondering, and his story in general.

For those unfamiliar with this bestseller, Kalanithi was a relatively young, brilliant, neurosurgeon at Stanford who was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer. He wrestled with careers in literature and science as a college student (while I wasn't even a fraction as intelligent as he, I did feel he was a kindred spirit in this sense, since I also faced this debate) and ultimately medicine won. He was incredibly bright and successful, although his description of his own accolades I found modest and humble. The first half of his part of the book is devoted to his background, giving us context for how he handles his diagnosis and course of treatment. I felt that even though brief, this part of the book gave me a decent picture of the man- one that I'd like to be friends or have as my own doctor (god forbid I even need a neurosurgeon). 

During the second section, the reader is already in awe of Kalanithi as a person, medical professional, and scientist. I was deeply affected reading his musings on life and death, and feeling conflict as he wrestled with his treatment options and whether or not he and his wife Lucy should have a baby with the sperm they proactively froze when they learned he had cancer. Death on one level is so simple and natural, but that's just biologically. Cells die. It's what they do. When human emotions and familial bonds are brought into play death becomes one of the most complex human events possible. 

The idea of knowledge is paramount to this book. Knowledge is power, so they say, but it can complicate matters profusely. At one point Kalanithi's oncologist tells him, gently, that whenever he is ready to let her be the doctor and allow himself to be the patient, she can make it happen. Having the information he has as an expertly trained physician proves to often be incredibly helpful, but it also makes the process of battling the disease more challenging as well. Doctoring oneself is no small task. 

Kalanithi loses his battle quicker than I anticipated, and his accounts of how much he suffered (before he stopped writing) were heart-breaking. His wife Lucy takes up the third portion of the book, writing about his final days and how she started coping once he did pass. Her descriptions of his final days and his interactions with their baby brought me to tears, which rarely happens when I read. 

It's cliche, but this book really does make you think about time and who, and what, is important in life. What makes you happy? What makes you feel valued? Does this sense of value make your life worth living? How important is your career? When we face death how would we react? This concept got me; if I was diagnosed with a terminal disease what would I do? Would I continue my life as is, or would I make drastic changes? We all want to think we'd go down with dignity, but you can't predict that sort of behavior. 

There's a blurb on the back of the book from Ann Patchett that says something to the tune of this book being something anyone could read. I had proposed it as a book club selection and it was vetoed by someone who lost a family member to cancer (understandable, since none of us had read it). I think, though, it's something that everyone can take something away from, even when such a loss is still fresh. It's a book that can help prepare, help heal, and help provoke thought. 

Makeup Break

[if I could only pick one product to use it would be this]

Hello, my name is Christine and sometimes I go to Ulta or Sephora and spend a lot of money. I know. It's shameful. But the older I get the more interested in I am in finding high-quality products that last, have some sort of benefits for my skin, and look natural. Hence my snowballing "bad" (but is it, really?) habit. I've found some great products over the past few months that I love so very much and thought I'd share. For some reason my husband and toddler don't really enjoy talking about beauty products, and when I'm with my friends we're either corralling kids or talking about things slightly more important.

Don't worry, I'm still reading books, but here are a few things I'm loving a lot lately: 

Giorgio Armani Designer Lift Foundation- I read rave reviews of the Luminous Silk line, but after going in and talking with the girl at the counter I ended up with this one. I have been searching for a fabulous foundation for years, and I think I've finally found it (although I might try the Silk one out of curiosity). It evens things out, applies easily with a brush, is full-coverage but has a really light texture, lasts all day, and looks fine layered. It's worth every penny if you're into foundation (unfortunately I had to go to Nordstrom to get it).

Nars Illuminator (Hot Sands)- Oh, how I love this stuff. I mix a tiny bit with my foundation and use it to add a subtle glow. I read somewhere that it's a limited edition product only, so I should probably order another.

Ulta Mineral Blush (Peony)- The Ulta line of blush is great and this color is so perfect for a light summer flush.

Pur 4-in-1 Tinted Moisturizer- This is basically a BB cream with SPF and a slight shimmer. If I'm just running to get coffee or to the store I use it alone, instead of doing a full face of foundation, or, if I really need to do my makeup I use it as a primer and it works really well in conjunction with the Armani stuff.

Beauty Blender- I know I'm way behind on this one, but I use a generic one from Target to blend everything a few times during the application process.

Smashbox BB Cream Eyes- I naturally have dark circles under my eyes, it's the Italian in me. But the extreme exhaustion from the past year has made the situation much, much worse, so I finally went on the hunt for a good under-eye concealer and found it here. I don't love the applicator, but that's a small price to pay to look slightly more rested.

3D Crest Whitestrips Luxe- Because I drink so many caffeinated beverages (ie coffee and Diet Coke) I have to make sure to keep up with my teeth. I use a straw, for the most part, but that only gets you so far... These strips are the best at-home product I've ever tried. The grip is pretty powerful so they stay in place for the full thirty minutes.

Eucerin Original Healing Rich Cream- This stuff has been around for forever and ever and I've been using it on Sawyer's super dry skin. I stole some for my hobbit feet and it works better than anything I have ever used.

Dermalogica Clearing Skin Wash- I have okay skin, break-out wise, as long as I am really consistent about things. This cleanser along with my Clarisonic has been pretty great in keeping things clear. 

Bookish (and not so Bookish) Thoughts

Link up, link, back, say hi!

1. This past week has been quite a busy one (hence the lack of posts). Sawyer and I went to visit my family in Modesto for three nights and we're finally back in the swing of things here. We actually had a lot more fun than I anticipated; the 6.5 hour drive up Friday went really well and after we checked into our hotel we headed downtown for the annual American Graffiti Parade. There were over 1200 classic cars, one of which belonged to my mom's boyfriend, so Sawyer had a blast. Saturday we drove to Sacramento to visit the California Train Museum, which I had initially decided on primarily because of Sawyer's current obsession, but we all enjoyed it. The next day we went to a car show that had the cars from the parade and just hung out. I made my family go to all the old places I loved to eat at and enjoyed watching Sawyer ham it up for his doting audience. The ride back wasn't near as stellar, but my friend Val was a godsend, between her patience and willingness to play with an emotional toddler. 

2. A week or so ago I watched the Macbeth movie that came out last Christmas and was fairly underwhelmed. It was visually very appealing, and the score was fitting, but there were some liberties taken with the story that I didn't love.

3. A few months ago I optimistically bought three pairs of shorts from Loft that were a teeny tiny bit too snug- I'm happy to say they now fit juuust right and I just bought several more. Victory is mine.

4. Actually, considering the lunch that I just had they may not fit anymore... My husband is home today and we dropped Sawyer off at daycare for a little while so we could go out to lunch alone and I feel like an Oompa Loompa. It was nice to sneak away, though, since it's really rare that we're able to do that in the middle of the day during the week.

5. I know it's summer and I live in a warm place, but the upcoming weather is horrible. I am ever-so-thankful for a working AC, solar panels, and a pool. 

6. Brie's book club over on her blog voted to read The Royal We by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan for their next selection. Given that I have a million books to read right now, and that this really isn't necessarily something I'd choose to read, I thought about waiting until next month. But then I had a genius idea- I'd listen to it. This was the perfect solution- while it's not exactly high-brow lit, it's entertaining, perfect for summer, and the narrator is decent. 

7. I made this Mascarpone, strawberry, mint and honey tart that I found over on The How Sweet It Is blog last night. It was really easy and perfect for summer.

8. The generous gift card my seniors got me for Barnes and Noble was burning a hole in my pocket, so I went book shopping yesterday. Man, I miss those kids, and not just because they fueled my addiction.

9. Someone tried really, really hard to bait me today on Facebook this morning by saying that feminism and racism are non-issues and that people are just "sheep," giving into mainstream media by caring about gender and racial equality. Whoa, let's back that 1950's misogynistic, bigoted train up, shall we? I briefly gave my two cents but eventually closed it out by saying that I refused to argue with people I don't know (it was someone on my brother's post). I felt pretty mature, since I could have gone to town on the young man (and really, really wanted to).

10. I'm headed to an actual yoga class in a studio tomorrow for the first time in a looooong time. Pray for me.  

Bookish (and not so Bookish) Thoughts

Link up, link back, say hi.

1. Does anyone have Tieks? Should I buy some? I love flats (well, my feet do, since they're assholes), and there's a girl at work who swears by them, but they cost a fortune. Who has some? Tell me more. Yes or no? 

2. I want to go to Vegas, without my child, for two nights, and with friends that will have fun and not wimp out at like 11. I want to stay somewhere expensive, spend way too much money on food and drinks, wear something that I probably am too old to wear, and sleep embarrassingly late the next day in a bed that I do not have to make. WHY IS THIS TOO MUCH TO ASK?

3. But, instead of this, I am going to the glorious Modesto this weekend with Sawyer and one my oldest and favorite friends (she's staying with her mom, I'm staying at a hotel, not because of my mom, I love her and she's great). I have mixed feelings about this trip. Part of me thinks the drive will suck, because of the two-year-old, part of me thinks it will be fun, because I'm a little bit of a sucker for a quickish road trip (6-6.5 hours). Part of me thinks I hate Modesto still, part of me is excited to eat Yogurt Mill and Taqueria Carolina. And see my family. It's been over three years since I've been back and it's just.... weird

4. I wasn't sure about the new Beck song, but I listed to it a dozen times and now I like it.

5. I'm on my second book of the summer, and I've only been off for five days. It feels good.

6. In the past day I've dealt withe the fence finally being put up in the back yard, the HVAC coming to finish up an issue with our downstairs unit, and the gardener about a sprinkler pressure issue. I have zero shits left to give about home maintenance.  

7. I have dinner plans with an old student tonight after Sawyer's bedtime and I know there's a solid chance I'm going to forget because it's so out of my normal routine and I have a weird headache. I haven't accidentally ditched her yet and I already feel like an asshole. 

8. Sawyer has developed the habit of telling everyone who even gives him a tiny bit of attention about whatever is on his shirt. Today is was Curious George, yesterday a goldfish in a bowl that he thought was a baseball, and so on and so forth. I think it's cute, but at some point people are going to think he's weird. 

9. Friday night (or Saturday?) sucked, and I was tired, so when I went to bed I needed to sleep. Sawyer somehow knew this and didn't wake up. Apparently I should have told the people that live in back of us, because at 4 am they started having extremely loud sex. Who does this? At 4? They aren't young, either. Were they up for the day? Had they not gone to bed yet? Did they wake up coincidentally at the same time and just go for it? I turned my light on and they took the hint and shut their window (mine had been open too, that's why I could hear). At the time I was super pissed, but now I'm just confused and a little impressed.

10. I am pretty sure most of America knows who they are voting for at this point. Let's cut the crap and just have the election now. I just can't deal with the internet for the next five months. People are idiots.