November

Books:

  • 100 Sideways Miles by Andrew Smith ~ I didn’t love this one the way I did Winger, but it was good and I will definitely keep reading all of his books.
  • Noggin by John Corey Whaley ~ I loved the Printz-winning Where Things Come Back by this Louisiana author. And really I think I loved this one, too. More and more the more I think about it after the fact. It’s about a teenage boy with cancer who get his head frozen and is resurrected five years later after medical science has advanced to the point where it can be attached to a donor body. And so there he is, still sixteen, while everyone he loved has lived and grown up five years, but he feels like he just left them moments before. It is kind of crazy, but beautiful in a way.

And of course it wasn’t okay. But that’s what we have to do, right? We have to tell people it’s okay even when we know it isn’t. That’s what we say to people we love when we realize that maybe we can’t have them the way we want them. I guess it was kind of like that with everyone. For me, anyway. No one would ever be exactly who they’d been, and I’d never be exactly who I’d been either.

  •  Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson ~ I don’t know how I can consider myself a lifelong lover of young people’s literature and not know about Jacqueline Woodson. I didn’t, though. But now I do. What John Green says about this book is correct. It is simply gorgeous beyond all reckoning and I loved it very much and I am so happy it won the National Book Award. It also made me realize that I need to read all of her books, so …
  • Beneath a Meth Moon by JW ~ Phew. I will always dig deep Katrina novel this well-written — if I may re-recommend Salvage the Bones – and this one is definitely worth reading.
  • If You Come Softly by JW ~ I really can’t. I thought I was reading a teen romance — albeit a really good one — and didn’t know that I was sitting down to read a book published in 1998 as people marched through the streets of Ferguson and raised their hands and lay down all over America in protest of the killing of black men and boys and this book — this book. It broke my heart. That nothing has changed since it was written breaks my heart a million times over, over and over.
  • Behind You by JW ~ The follow-up to If You Come Softly — about what comes after you lose a light and love in the world. To the surprise of no one, I’m sure, this book is beautiful and devastating. DAMN IT JACQUELINE WOODSON.
  • Yes Please by Amy Poehler ~ Liked it better than Fey, Kaling, and Dunham if we’re ranking recent celeb memoirs. Worth reading if only for the SNL and Parks and Recreation retrospectives, which would have been enough for me – I loved them.
  • As You Wish by Cary Elwes ~ Kind of a snooze honestly, my love for this movie notwithstanding.
  • Secret Thoughts of an Adoptive Mother by Jana Wolff … Parts of this resonated with me, but most of it did not. I could not relate to a lot of the negative vibe of this book and I kind of wish I hadn’t read it.
  • Hyperbole and a Half by Allie Brosh … The dog parts were my favorite. I listened to her episode of WTF after reading this and was sad to hear of her sister’s recent suicide. Worth reading for sure – it’s a quick read.

Music:

  • I’ll just be over here listening to Hozier sing “Take Me to Church” for the 1,000,00th time.

TV:

  • Olive Kitteridge ~ Love, love, love, love, love.
  • The Comeback ~ Loved it before, love it now. That is all.
  • The Newsroom ~ Somehow this garbage is suddenly kind of good? What is going on? I don’t know, but I like it.
  • Getting On ~ This is such an uncomfortable and wonderful show. The main cast members are all perfect but so are the guest stars. Betty Buckley!

Podcasts:

  • Latest faves – Daniel Radcliffe being adorable on Nerdist and Julia Sweeney on WTF. I really do love Julia Sweeney. I loved God Said Ha, I loved Letting Go of God, I love her blog, and now I can’t wait to read her book. I also enjoyed the WTFs with John Mulaney & Martin Starr, and the Jenny Slate episode of You Made It Weird was kind of all over the place but definitely entertaining while traveling. W. Kamau Bell’s episode of You Made It Weird is also good, natch.

Favorite things on Internet:

  • I always appreciate when anyone touts the greatness of Slings & Arrows.

Best Food Eaten:

Probably AB‘s birthday brunch at my beloved Dante’s Kitchen.

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A Thanksgiving weekend dinner with these tried-and-true bozos was also pretty dang delicious.

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Pets Still Alive:

Both. Marley continues to have mysterious health problems and is on all of the medicines and all of the million-dollar food. Who knows what is wrong with her? Not me. And not the vet, although she’s super nice and we recently chatted for a long time about life, babies, and s’forth. Therapy! It’s everywhere.

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Bullets Being Bitten:

I flew to once again the midwest. My mom came with me this time. It was cold like I don’t think I have ever experienced. The two of us were basically like aliens from another planet in terms of driving/walking/living while skidding and slipping and sliding around on ice. Ridiculous really. But the visit was good and I remain hopeful.

Flowers, Trees, and Plants:

These aren’t mine but I wish they were. I had a lot of plant/tree envy walking around the neighborhood in November.

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Best Walks:

Speaking of walks … I love autumn walks so much.

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November brings the white pelicans back to us, praise be, and I am honestly kind of worried about this one. I hope he was not injured but rather was thinking about how to everything there is a season and all the fish he ate for breakfast and the circle and meaning of life.

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October

Books:

  • I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson ~ This one took me a little longer to fall into than The Sky Is Everywhere, but it turned out to be no less miraculous. She is a wonder.
  • Not That Kind of Girl by Lena Dunham ~ A little disappointing for me, truth be told. I still love her, though.
  • Mad About the Boy by Helen Fielding ~ Somehow I missed that the third Bridget Jones book came out a few years back. I think we can all agree that both the second book and movie are best ignored, but I thought this one was quite delightful.
  • The School for Dangerous Girls by Eliot Schrefer ~ I guess I’m making my way through the entire Eliot Schrefer catalog? He’s a really good writer. This book is dark. But I liked it.

TV:

  • Black-ish is my favorite new comedy. Whoever cast these kids is a genius, and I love Tracee Ellis Ross and always have, since her days as Joan on Girlfriends.
  • Firefly ~ Rewatching it. It holds up so well. I love it so much.
  • Jane the Virgin ~ I loved Ugly Betty so much, and I’ve missed it. But now we have this! It’s so funny and sweet and great.

Music:

  • I’m re-in love with Josh Ritter and have decided The Temptation of Adam is the best song in the history of the universe? Hearing my brother play this at the beach this month brought me a lot of joy. A LOT.

Podcasts:

  • Latest faves - Serial – obviously. I also really liked the WTF with Andre Royo (Bubbles) and the You Made It Weird episodes with Casey Wilson, June Diane Raphael (this one was particularly good), Jon Hamm, Ray Romano, and when Chelsea Peretti interviews Pete. And when worlds collide and Pete interviews Maron. My favorite YMIW thus far, though, might be Pete’s interview with Emily V. Gordon, with whom I am now semi-obsesssed. Also – the Chris Kelly episode of Beginnings. I do not remember how I discovered Chris Kelly, but I think he is great, and I am so excited about his movie. And I continue to listen to every podcast ever recorded that features Jessica St. Clair and Lennon Parham. I am in deep denial about Playing House and its apparent fate. I cannot cope. My latest Jessica St. Clair fave appearance is on Lady Shakes.

Favorite things on Internet:

  • This is the best … “Going from crying to laughing that fast and hard happens maybe five times in your life and that extreme right turn is the reason why we are alive. I believe it extends our life by many years.”
  • Actually, I think this may be the best.

Best Show:

I have loved this show for what feels like all my life, but I’ve never gone to see the tour until this year. It was opening night, and I cannot lie, it was spectacular!

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Best Trip:

October marks our annual family vacation. We ventured to a different beach spot this year. It was beautiful but strange and foreign. Awesome, but strange. I don’t think we felt like we quite fit in. But there was fishing and splashing in the surf at sunset and turning pruney in the pool and strumming guitars and all of things that make me love this crew of weirdos so much.

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Old friends and new also also ran away to New Orleans for a birthday party. We stayed at a cute B&B and sat around a pool at midnight and drank good beer at a new haunt and it was pretty sensational overall, as fall weekends in NOLA usually are.

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Best Food Eaten:

Oatmeal from Raw & Juicy on my last morning at the beach. I ate this then lay on the beach on my back in my clothes while passing through our old stomping grounds before stopping to visit with S. on my way out of town and thought about all the times walking down those beach stairs from the beach tower to that sand and those waves with people I love. And of course about everything in between last October and this October. I can’t wait to go back and hope we will go back forever.

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Flowers, Plants, and Trees:

Fall. It is here.

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Best Race:

I thought I would run a half-marathon to mark the one year anniversary of last October, but that proved a ridiculous goal, so I ran a 10K instead. Actually, I walked it. And came in last. But it was still really fun. The course was lovely, I saw my dear friends, one of whom was putting on the race and others who now live just down the road, gloriously. And at the halfway point, I had lots of deep thoughts about life. “Here. Turn.” and “Turn. Here.” Where is here? Where am I turning? WHERE ARE WE GOING? Etc.

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Pets Still Alive:

Both. Old and barfy and rickety, but here!

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Bullets Being Bitten:

I flew to the midwest, to a place I had never been, to meet someone I had never met. I don’t want to say more than that now, other than I think it went well and that my dear and hilarious friend from First Descents drove hundreds of miles to be there with me. Which reminds me that I still want to sit down and write about First Descents. Anyway – in this place we visited it was already winter. I thought about Ray Kinsella and his dad playing a game of catch. And I am hopeful.

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September

Books:

  • The Sky Is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson ~ New favorite book of the year for me. Giant, copious airplane tears on the way home from visiting my sister. It is about sisters. It is about love. I can’t remember reading a book that captures better what first love feels like. It is just so beautiful. Death and grief and healing. I just got her next book and I am so excited to read it I might freak out. His eyes warm at that — it kills me. What are we going to do with all this love? Good question, Jandy, you beautiful genius. I loved this book.
  • Just One Day by Gayle Forman ~ Honestly kind of ridiculous but that doesn’t mean I’m not reading the next one, Just One Year.
  • Threatened by Eliot Schrefer ~ Read because it made the National Book Award longlist and I liked Endangered. This is really good. I feel like it needs to be a movie for sure. He is a really good writer.
  • Wolf in White Van by John Darnielle ~ I think everyone knows that he is an unbelievable writer and everything, and this book is obviously so imaginative and well-written, but I found it so upsetting on the whole that I kind of wish I hadn’t read it. But it really was quite beautiful. I don’t know that I will forget this book any time soon even though part of me wishes I could. That said, I definitely recommend it? I am confused by my feelings about this book. This is a wonderful review that I am going to read again just to help suss out my reaction to it.

Movies:

  • How I Live Now ~ I liked this book (Printz Award winner by Meg Rosoff) and decided to check out the movie. I thought it was scary and lovely and good. Atonement is just so upsetting overall that I never fully engaged in Saoirse Ronan, but she is SO good. It’s kind of Instagram-filter-ish but in a nice way, and it’s genuinely scary, and Edmond is 100% dreamy.
  • Your Sister’s Sister ~ Enjoyable. Mostly just because I think Emily Blunt can do no wrong.

TV:

  • Aside from Rectify, no show has moved me as much this year as Transparent. It is simply wonderful. And I love, love, love the music.
  • Happy Valley led me straight to Last Tango in Halifax – same star, same creator, wildly different show - which I watched in a marathon obsessive fashion. Sheep farmers, lesbians, old people in love in Yorkshire – the works. It’s perfect.

Music:

  • I listen to Consummation every day. It was featured in the Daniel Goes to the Museum episode of Rectify and it just does something to me. Same with Fratres by Arvo Pärt, also featured on this amazing show.
  • It’s time for everyone in the world to listen to everything by Lydia Loveless, every last thing. Unreal.
  • Also, I think I might be in actual legit love with Hozier. My brother saw him recently in a very tiny crowd and said it was amazing and told me about him but I already knew, of course, because of this.

Podcasts:

  • Latest faves – both Mike Birbigilia episodes of You Made It Weird. I also very much enjoyed the one with John Mulaney, who I find so adorable it makes me die a little inside. He’s also very good at Catchphrase.

Favorite things on Internet:

  • This tweet. I saw a local production of In the Heights and it brought me back to how much I love this show and how it meant to me to see it on Broadway closing weekend and how every time I go to New York I literally imagine seeing Lin-Manuel Miranda on the subway and holding up my iPhone on which I am invariably listening to In the Heights and telling him how much I love it. It is maybe kind of psycho to imagine this but I do it anyway.
  • Party of Five season 1 oral history … I think we can agree that the Thanksgiving episode remains the best.

Best Food Eaten:

Gonna have to go with breakfast with my sister.

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The best drink was this sidecar on a Sunday afternoon.

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Best Trip:

I flew North to meet my new baby niece and she’s the cutest. She just is so snuggly and delicious. And my nephews, as ever, crack me up like no one ever has.

Flowers, Plants, and Trees:

You know what New England has in September? Apple orchards and trees on fire.

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Best Fall Activity:

Returning to this place always makes us happy, even when our team is doing things on the field that are straight up insane.

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Pets Still Alive:

Both. Historically, the dog’s main goal in terms of the cat is to eat her alive. I’m working on seeing if he’s is too old at this point do that. So we’ve been having a little face time. He’s okay with it; she is so terrified that it scarcely seems worth it. Here was a moment of temporary peace.

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Bullets Being Bitten:

Honestly, who knows what is next? All I know is I waited a lot of years for a surprise lily to pop up in my yard, and at the end of this month, one finally did. I’m thinking it’s a sign.

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