Bookish (and not so Bookish) Thoughts

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1. Seattle was fantastic, albeit freezing. I have a ton of pictures and thoughts that I hope to share soon. 

2. While I am extremely thankful that I was able to go, I am utterly beat now, compounded by the fact that this is an absolutely busy, stressful week at school and I lost a weekend to get things done. But still. Not complaining. Fine, maybe I am a little. Is it ever possible to return from a trip rested and prepared to take on what awaits at home? 

3. Speaking of travel, I finally filed the paperwork for Sawyer's passport yesterday! It was, frankly, a huge pain, since my husband can't make it to the passport office when it's open, and you have to have both parents to get one. Luckily (I guess), you can have a form notarized saying the absent parent gives the present parent permission to file the paperwork. This meant we had to have pictures done, papers filled out, and a trip to AAA for notary services. But it's done! Yay! 

4. I am reading An American Marriage and absolutely love it so far.

5. I am listening to Dax Sheppard's podcast "The Armchair Expert" and am really, really enjoying it. It helped that his first episode was his wife, Kristen Bell, but he seems to know how to get people talking, despite being a tiny bit overbearing at times. 

6. Fahrenheit 451 is going to be a show? I am cautiously optimistic after seeing the cast and trailer, and think the subject matter is timely, but a little part of me still cringes anytime I hear a book or movie is going to be adapted. 

Bookish (and not so Bookish) Thoughts

Hey! Hello! Hi! What's up? Link back in the comments if you do a post.

1. I have started selling my used baby stuff on Facebook Marketplace and have seen some success. It really isn't about that money, although a few extra bucks is always nice, I just want things out of my house. Kid stuff takes up so much room and I just want it gone as soon as possible.

2. My mom was in town for a few days and we took Sawyer to the Safari Park in Escondido and it was such a fun day. It's nice to have the occasional adult on hand for conversation and for doing crazy things like WATCHING MY CHILD WHILE I PEE. The rest of the time she was in town we just hung out. I love that my mom is so low-maintenance. I want to show her a good time, but I know that because she's busy back home she's also content to lay around and read. 

3. I finished Salman Rushdie's The Golden House finally and really had inconsistent feelings about whether or not I liked it throughout. I am currently lowering the bar a tad and reading Jojo Moyes' newest book, which is incredibly fluffy but a nice mental break after the density of Rushdie.

4. I go to Seattle in a few days for the first time! I am incredibly excited, even if it is just for work. The weather, by my fragile Southern California standards, will be absolutely horrible, but still. So excited. Our good friends moved up there a few years ago, so not only do I get to travel with my work best friend*, I also get to see them one evening. Don't worry, it will be over and I'll quit talking about it soon (and will then be obsessed with our upcoming trip to Yosemite). 

5. *She's actually my friend in real life, too. Isn't it weird how we so often differentiate "work friends" and "friends"? I need to stop. This lady is stuck with me whether we work together or not. There are other "work friends," sure, who I'd probably not really see anymore if we weren't at the same site, of course. But nonetheless, as society we need to start acknowledging when work friends transcend boundaries and just become friends. Then end. Tucking this unnecessary soapbox back under the podium. 

6. When we were at the Safari the other park I saw that they have a Roar and Snore camp where you can pay to spend the night at the zoo in temts (the more you pay, the better your digs, of course). We must do this someday! You get to walk outside and see giraffes and rhinos and whatever else sauntering by while in your pajamas? Yes! This also reminded me of something I hope to do when Sawyer turns six- The Natural History Museum in NYC has a sleepover program that is reasonably priced (I was seriously shocked). Granted I'll still have to therefore plan a trip across the country with a first-grader, but nonetheless it sounds like so much fun.

7. I feel like I'm getting sloppy with my time. Not enough essays graded, not enough house cleaned, not enough pages read, not enough QT spent with people, not enough sleep, not enough intense exercise, not enough current event info consumed, just not enough. I'm not sure what's going on and if this is just how I feel or if this is reality. I know that the time isn't going to frivolous things- my TV watching hasn't increased, my social media presence is the same... I just don't know. I do feel like I've been in the car a lot lately, driving to appointments, to preschool, to errands, so maybe that's part of the issue. I don't like it, though, not one bit.

8. I received my first PLAY! subscription box from Sephora (only $10) and I was really, really pleased. There were samples from Nars, Sephora, Peter Thomas Roth, and Laura Mercier, all products that I would legitimately consider buying. I love that they only include things they carry- I often found that there was a lot of crap in the Birchbox and Ipsy boxes back when I got those. 

9. I still haven't gotten a new phone, despite the new "increase" in paycheck from the tax "cuts" that the "government" has "given" us. I can't use the monthly payment as an excuse now. Get your life together, Christine.

Field Trip: The Broad

[this is actually inside the museum, which is art itself!]

Last Tuesday my sister-in-law drove to downtown LA to visit The Broad museum, the first time for both of us. Modern/contemporary art is definitely my favorite, although I know not everyone feels that way (my husband constantly protests that he could make half of the things on display, while I counter with comments about color composition and texture). The Broad is still incredibly popular, despite being open nearly three years. In order to get tickets you have to jump online the first of the month to get the ones that opening up for the following month- the general galleries upstairs are free, but the featured exhibit on the bottom floor cost (we saw an extensive Jasper Johns collection for $25, which isn't bad at all for a visit). 

[Infinity Mirrors]

[Jasper Johns]



Besides the current Jasper Johns collection, the bottom floor also houses Yayoi Kusama's Infinity Mirror, which is a small room with lights and mirrors that make you feel like you're in a space that extends for forever. You stand on a platform in the dark alone for a minute, and it's pretty awesome. I was a bit afraid my claustrophobia would kick in, since I know the room is tiny, but the optical illusion proved successful and I was more in awe than anything.


[Robert Therrien]

[Jeff Koons]

[Jeff Koons]

[Glenn Ligon]

For me, the galleries upstairs totally stole the show. Some of my favorites were pieces by  Chuck Close, Roy Lichtensteinn, Andy Warhol, Kara Walker, Jean-Michel Baquait. I must go back.

We also swung by The Grand Central Market for lunch, which I have been by a few times but have never actually gotten to eat at. It's basically a huge sort of enclosed hall with tons and tons of food stall and stands ranging from burgers to pupusas to calamari to beer to ice cream. I need to go back to try Egg Slut, but the line is always out of control. 

If you're ever in town I highly recommend both places!

Bookish (and not so Bookish) Thoughts

[so lazy]

Link back in the comments!

I had written this draft before I heard about the tragic shootings in Florida. The whole thing makes me absolutely sick. What will it take to find a better solution to this problem? Our thoughts, prayers, and the pictures we post honestly mean nothing. They are little bandaids that make US feel better, but they serve no greater purpose. Instead of being a nation of these little ineffective gestures, we need to be a nation that votes better and is willing to donate to people and groups that will make changes.

1. I finished Salman Rushdie's The Golden House earlier today and I was so torn about deciding whether or not I actually like it. There were some really great moments, and I thought the overall plot line was great, but there were also some very dull sections and the end was just too rushed. 

2. I was at my yearly check up the other day discussing birth control options with my doctor and I was just so very, very thankful that we as women in the US still have these choices. Short term, long term, permanent, hormonal, non-hormonal- the list goes on and on. I am also, as always, very thankful for my health insurance.

3. We got our taxes done the other day and it took over two hours. I am not adult enough for that. What I am adult enough to do, though, is quickly spend my allocation of it (but on responsible things, mostly, like travel, bills, and savings). 

4. My sister-in-law went to The Broad in LA the other day, a modern art museum, and it was awesome. This was my first time there and I was seriously impressed by their collection. I hope to have a post up tomorrow, since I have so many awesome pictures from the day.

5. Can we talk about this massive hang up I have about the 6,000+ pictures I have iPhone? They're all since Sawyer was born, so all very special and whatnot, but I am irrationally scared of losing them. I have them backed up in (on?) The Cloud, but what if that somehow deletes everything? I need (fine, mostly want) a new phone before I go to Seattle in ten days, but I am terrified that somehow in the transition all those pictures will disappear. My solution? I am going to download EVERY SINGLE pictures from the cloud onto my computer and then back up my computer on my external hard drive. Seriously, can I get any crazier? Can I? 

6. My mom is coming tomorrow night to stay for a few days (I am off this week) and we are going to head to The Wild Animal Park with Sawyer on Friday. I still sort of struggle with zoos, but the two that the San Diego Zoo run are super involved with conservancy, which eases my conscience a little bit at least. 

Bookish (and not so Bookish) Thoughts

1.   My Target stopped carrying my Donut Shop Sweet & Creamy K-Cups and I’m basically devastated. I don’t understand why they’re doing this to me.

2.   I’m currently listening to the Woman in the Window by AJ Finn and I’m actually more interested in the character’s backstory than present story, which is really quite rare for me (I’m maybe 1/3 of the way through). As a whole I’m intrigued by the book, but sometimes little pieces of dialogue sound a bit unnatural and bother me. The pacing is also a little bit off, but that might just be because of how I'm listening to it. 

3.   In terms of actual reading, I’ve returned to Salman Rushdie’s The Golden House, which I had started six or so weeks ago but put on pause. Now that I am almost 100 pages in I am really, really enjoying it. It reminds me of sort of a modern day Gatsby-esque sort of story.

4.   I have next week off for our President’s Week Break and I have stacked appointments on top of appointments on top of appointments. I try to save things like dentist appointments and yearly check-ups for times when I am off, and boy have I ever. I think I have two doctor appointments, a vet appointment, a hair appointment, a repair man appointment, and then a few other things too. Plus trying to get in some fun. I’m not complaining because, HELLO TIME OFF, but I think by the end of the break I’ll be more tired than when I started.

5.   I cross-stitched the above pattern for my classroom and I love it. I am slowly creating bigger, more elaborate pieces for a gallery wall I hope to create in our guest bedroom eventually, but I am having fun doing smaller, cuter projects for my classroom.

6.   The Yeah Yeah Yeahs are at the Hollywood Bowl in May and I want to go so badly. I also really, really want to see Elton John before he quits touring, but his tickets are SO expensive. I mean I totally get wanting to make a huge wad of cash before quitting, but sorry Sir, I am not paying a couple of hundred dollars to cram myself into the Rose Bowl to see you sing.

7.   For the next three months either my husband or I have a work trip scheduled each and yet we never travel together. Sigh.

8.   So, I have saved the most serious and saddest item for the end. Our thirteen-year-old Golden Retriever Cordie has been having some trouble with her eye and they have feared that it was the result of a larger, more systematic, issue. We tried one round of drops and the symptoms came back after we were done using them, so the vet took some blood and her leukocytes were through the roof. This is generally an indicator for leukemia, so I have to take her back for an ultrasound and biopsy next week. She is showing no other symptoms besides the eye, which can be controlled with drops, but obviously cancer isn’t something that will lay dormant forever. Considering she is geriatric we really want to focus more on keeping her happy and comfortable, so I am dreading the Big Decisions that will come with her treatment in the future. I’m trying to stay optimistic, since she is currently doing so well, but it’s still pretty depressing, since I really don’t remember life without her. I’m also really, really dreading dealing with pet loss and a small child (yes, I’ve already started looking at books on Amazon to explain this).

Oh, Running

[there's just something about the start...]

Oh running, I love you and I hate you. And I also accept that when I start trying to talk to most people about you their eyes roll back in their heads, so I'll take advantage of this space to yammer on and on about this super volatile relationship of mine. 

I have been a runner for probably a decade or so, plodding away through a dozen half marathons and several 5ks and 10ks. I have terrible lung capacity due to a lifetime of on-again-off-again asthma, several foot issues, and a bum hip, so I will never ever be close to fast. But, in terms of caloric burn and convenience it’s often been the exercise I turn to. It's also a way to push myself and remind myself, simply, that I can. I may not be wonderful at it, but I am capable of covering long distances in one go (which still impresses me since in middle school the idea of running the mile made me want to stay home sick). 

For the past six months I’ve run four times a week to train for the Surf City Half Marathon, which was this past weekend. I did one long run on the weekend and whatever I could get in time-wise during the week. The half did not really go well- my body was totally fine, but it was really warm with no cloud cover (on asphalt). I do miserably in the heat and after six or so decent enough miles I started feeling that familiar light-headed “hmm will I pass out?” sensation and knew that this was not going to be my race. I had a moment of sadness, but after all this time I know that this sort of thing just happens and is part of the whole running races process. So, I slowed to a walk for the first time. Seconds later my cousin, who I had seen at the start, magically appeared and we spent the rest of the run alternating between running and walking, catching up on the last year of our lives. I was also able to spend the night down there in a hotel room alone, so despite not having a rock star time I was still fine with how everything went down. More than fine, actually. 

I’m actually really glad that it’s all over, since I’ve been really wanting to diversify my exercise lately. I miss yoga! And walking with the incline cranked up and getting on my bike! I need to really incorporate weights and ab work into my life, something I’ve always neglected. I’m also pretty confident that this will help me shed a few pounds. It’s a well-known fact that most people actually gain, or at least maintain, their weight when training for an endurance event, since you are constantly hungry and may not always make the best choices (raises hand… with the other shoveling Girl Scout Cookies in her mouth).

I will never say I won’t run a half marathon again, because I have before and have had to eat my words (not as tasty as cookies, sadly). I don’t have one planned immediate future, though, and am just looking forward to rounding out my fitness. I do intend on continuing to run, though, and plan on always maintaining and ability to go at least 3-4 straight. I am fortunate enough to have had made exercise such an important part of my life that I don’t have to have something to train for to be active.

February Intentions

[Goal #1: Eat more cream-filled football donuts]

It has to be bad luck or something doing your goals for the month five days late. Nonetheless, better late than never. Before we look at the next twenty-three days, here's a quick look back at what I attempted in January:

1. Make better/more deliberate food choices and track calories- Yup! It's not one of my goals, but I'm going to keep doing that this month. I get too snack-y when I'm not holding myself accountable (hello, Girl Scout Cookies!)

2. A financial diet- Yup! I tracked my spending and spent far less, although there were a few mandatory expenses that sort of got in the way (vet bill, car repair, etc...). 

3. Be ready to run Surf City Half Marathon- Yes. I truly, truly was ready on Sunday but the heat got in the way. My body was fine, but it was just too warm (more on that in a few days).

This month:

1. Stick to my new "budget"- I reworked some things in my budget so that I can hopefully start saving close to 20% of my check each month. 

2. Diversify exercise- I have been exclusively running for six months and I'm so excited to bring back yoga, hill walking, and time on my bike.

3. Spend a total of two hours working on my writing ideas- This is definitely small potatoes, but it's a start! 

4. Either sell old baby things or get rid of them- I've been trying to sell things online (big things, like our stroller), but I'm starting to think I'll just donate them. We have a daycare center at work for teen moms, so I may pop in there and ask if they have a need (or know any expectant mom that do). I want my space back (and yes, this means we have decided to be a one-child home). 

January Reviews

It's February! My goodness. Here's a super quick rundown what I read last month:

The Awakening by Kate Chopin
116 pages
Edna Pontellier, a kept woman at the turn of the century, has had enough. Enough of her husband. Enough of being home Tuesdays for society women to call on. Enough of pretending to enjoy mindless activities like sewing and enough of feeling obligated to give every ounce of herself to her children. Edna wants to party. She wants to host dinners and got to horse races and let other men kiss her. Edna is done taking crap. 

Verdict: I have read this book several times and enjoy it more each and every time. 

Confessions of an Unlikely Runner by Dana L. Ayers
144 pages
Dana Ayers works in DC and runs races all the time without necessarily training adequately or getting any better. She tells hilarious stories of her adventures and provides amusing tips for those embarking on the hobby

Verdict: I get burnt out on reading running books that feature amazing athletes, so it's nice to read someone I can relate to a little more. 

The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen
382 pages
The narrator of this text is a communist spy from Vietnam, telling his confession about his time after the fall of Saigon. He travels to the US with the General and reports back to Vietnam on what he observes in America, attempting to develop a life, albeit temporary, for himself. The book raises important questions about identity and loyalty, all through a creative narrative (especially at the end- the last fifty pages or so are super intense). 

Verdict: This book was excellent- a sort of Catch-22-esque style with more of a solid plot and better developed characters. We discussed this at book club and could have spent hours talking about so many of the thematic and stylistic attributes. 

Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House by Michael Wolf
336 pages
Wolf describes Trump's campaign and first 100 days- I plan on doing a post on this soon, so we'll just leave it at this for now. I will say that this was the first book I've ever read electronically and I really did not enjoy it. I'll stick to paper. 

978 pages