I haven’t been writing much lately. Or I’ve been writing a bit, but it’s mostly been resume adaptations and emails. Not really of the’ inspiring, share online and consider anyone else might be minorly interested’ type of writing.
What should follow after that statement is some thoughtful piece on Lent or inspiration from the communities I’m beginning to learn from befriending refugees in Portland or a story about how I spent the morning hanging out with women from 6 countries practicing describing ourselves in English. But, alas, the words just haven’t been quite working lately so instead you’re getting a list. Another musing of observations on apartment living.
We can hear snippets of at least 3 languages through our walls. Enthusiastic Spanish that carries surprisingly well through the floor from the neighbors below, English and a yet as undetermined language the top guess for at the moment is Korean.
Parking is at a premium, but we have an immense advantage since at least one of our cars is almost always in the lot during the day, we can claim one of the few covered spots. Very seldom have we had to park in the almost parking lot, gravel sloping, sometimes river I’m calling the back 40. Every once in a while we park far away to make us feel a bit better about the unfair advantage.
Things I miss about not sharing walls:
The yard. I miss being able to spend a couple hours doing yard work in my own space.
The garden. This marks the 3rd year I haven’t planned and put in a full garden. I miss it. Anyone want help establishing a garden? J
Garage parking. It’s nice to start up a non-cold car and not be drenched when hoping in.
This is something I never thought about before and is absolutely a major privilege, but that hand wash setting on the washer was sure nice and having a dishwasher that didn’t even require a prewash was pretty luxurious.
Local coffee. The little town we were in had 3 coffee roasters and 4 local coffee shops, plus a Starbucks and all the usual drive throughs. Now we have Starbucks. Several Starbucks, most with awkward space for working and I’m no longer much of a fan of their coffee. On the plus side, we bought a little coffee maker and have been making mostly our own, which is a definite cost saving mechanism.
And on that note, I’m going to decide it’s officially the weekend. Here’s to hoping the sunshine continues and that this little foray back into writing will make diving into something more inspiring an easier next step!
This phase of life has us living in an apartment for a handful of months. It’s the first time we’ve spent a month in one place since we were in Greece in October and prior to that since we moved out of the house in July last summer. It’s also the first time we’ve moved into a place together and the first time I’ve lived in an apartment since I bought the house in 2009! It’s been nice to have a real kitchen (and good knives!) and to not be constantly looking for the next place to stay. There’s plenty I miss about our roaming and the house, but have been thinking more lately on the perks of this phase and writing them out, mostly for myself seemed fitting.
When the dryer is broken a new one appears: carried up the 3 flights of stairs, installed and paid for by someone else.
The blocked gutters are also someone else’s concern.
No yard maintenance.
No garbage/yard waste/recycling cans to remember to put on the street at the correct time.
When the sidewalks of the entire town are uncharacteristically ice over for an entire week using a normally despised treadmill for the first time in a year doesn’t require a gym membership.
Leaving town requires only locking the door. No notifying neighbors, asking someone to put out garbage cans and considering yard/house maintenance needs.
New/old running trails to explore/rediscover.
Local happy hours!
A large, comfy (if not nearly as quaint/cozy) library.
September’s book list, because at least for the moment, I’m not going to go back to August right now. Looks like I landed on seven books yet again this month, unintentional and slightly interesting.
“Present over Perfect” – Shawna Niequest: This was such a great book for me. I have strong perfectionist tendencies and many years ago I wrote out 5 traits I wanted to be known for or themes I’d like to be key for my life and being present is one of them. This was one of my first ebook reads and I made extensive use of the highlight function, a departure from my usual folding down of pages. Of course, I’m also pretty sure I just accidentally erased all my highlighting when I went back to review them for this post.
“We Should All be Feminists” – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichi: “I looked the word up in the dictionary, it said: Feminist: a person who believes in the social, political, and economic equality of the sexes… My own definition is a feminist is a man or a woman who says, yes, there’s a problem with gender as it is today and we must fix it, we must do better. All of us, women and men, must do better.” Her discussion of the baggage associated with the word feminism as well as the importance of reclaiming and continuing to use it meshes with my developing thoughts on the topic as well as multiple conversations with grad school friends.
“Assimilate or Go Home” – DL Mayfield: For 75% of this book I was unsure what I thought of it, but there were a handful of moments where it really made me think or challenged me. I’m still thinking about this quote: “And beneath all of that seemingly ‘good’ stuff was a girl who had placed herself on a pedestal, someone who believed I am destined for something special, because I am special… And it was unspoken, of course, but the flip side of this belief was an ugly little hierarchy, a drive to be out on the top that came more from desperation than idealism: I am special because I have to be. Because God loves the special more.
“The Pearl that Broke its Shell” – Nadia Hashimi: I loved her “When the Moon Hung Low” and also thoroughly enjoyed this one as well. I read most of this on the plan over and was thoroughly caught up in the narrative. It follows two Afghan women of the same family, a couple generations apart who each at some point in life for a period of time act out the custom of bacha posh and function as males in order circumvent some of the gender role restrictions. I’ve heard of the custom, but am not overly familiar with it nor how common it has been at any point, but it left me curious and the book was fantastic. Part of the GoodReads description of it encompasses it well: “searing tale of powerlessness, fate, and the freedom to control one’s own fate.”
Emily Series (“Emily of New Moon,” “Emily Climbs,” “Emily’s Quest” – LM Montgomery: These were my first of LM Montgomery’s outside of the Anne series, while I read, or rather listened to for the first time all the way through a couple years ago. They were easy, enjoyable reads that fit great as airplane/ferry/jet lag recovering reads. They also made me wonder how many other lesser known books I’ve missed out on from key authors of childhood.
I have too many half formed thoughts muddling around in my head that I’m mulling over at the moment to be able to come up with any topic for today’s 500 words. That, and yesterday was enough of a rambling list that I thought I should do something a bit different today.
With that in mind, I’m resuscitating my earlier halted attempted of documenting in some form what I’ve read in the past month. This is book focused only, no articles or other material for the moment and is, I suppose mostly a means of remembering a few things about what I thought/read about things along the way.
So, here’s July’s list. Looks like I landed on seven books again for the month, which seems to be my accidental average.
“The Other Side of Paradise: Life in the New Cuba” – Julia Cooke: The author lived on and off in Cuba over a period of ten years first as a university student and later as a journalist. She spent much of her time interviewing and spending time with youth in the Havana, often interacting with the same individuals multiples over several years and visits to the country. It was a different and interesting glimpse into a period in Cuba’s history that I’m not overwhelmingly familiar with, but that coincides with when my dad first began visiting the island. It was interesting to read a bit about the small business, room rentals, etc. that have been gradually given permission to function over the last couple decades.
“The Breadwinner” (Books 1 & 2) – Deborah Ellis: There are 4 books in this series geared towards young adults or possible older children. I read each of the first 2 over a day or two and enjoyed them. They tell the story or Parvana, a girl living in Afghanistan as the Taliban takes over and then 9/11/2001 occurs. It’s the story of her and her family told from her perspective and without outside judgement or explanation of the occurrences. I think that adds to the enjoyment and effectiveness of the story since there is no underlying judgement or lesson inserted by a narrator, but just the story left to stand on its own.
“One More Year” – Sana Krasikov: An interesting collection of short stories of immigrants experiences in the US, mostly from Georgia, a region of the world I’m not overly familiar with. I’m not usually a big fan of short stories, but enjoyed this book just tine.
“Mornings in Jenin” – Susan Abulhawa: I think this is the first book I’ve read that dives much into the Israeli/Palestinian conflict and it is also from a Palestinian perspective. It left me much more interested in the topic and with a lot more reading material on my “to-read” list gleaned from her notes section. I recorded one quote in particular that struck me from page 193: “Amal, I believe that most Americans do not love as we do. It is not for any inherent deficiency or superiority in them. They live in the safe, shallow parts that rarely push human emotions into the depths where we dwell. I see your confusion. Consider fear. For us, fear comes where terror comes to others because we are anesthetized to the guns constantly pointed at us. And the terror we have known is something few Westerners ever will. Israeli occupation exposes us very young to the extremes of our own emotions, until we cannot feel except in the extreme.”
“Bel Canto” – Ann Patchett: This was my first work of Patchett’s after hearing her name and recommendations for quite a while. I listened to this as an audio book on my commute and picked it up rather at random since it happened to be available at the library. It was a bit of an odd one that I probably wouldn’t have made it through if it hadn’t been distraction on my commute, but it was interesting enough to keep up with. I’m not sure if this is a good one to consider Patchett on though?
“Fangirl” – Rainbow Rowell: This was more engaging and enlightening then I had expected. It was another audio book on the commute and thoroughly enjoyable. She hit the teenage characters in “Eleanor & Park” so perfectly and this isn’t quite there, but it was still a great book for the commute and more insightful then I was anticipating.
Once, several years ago I wrote a little blog on MSN Spaces. It was a bit of an experiment during a phase where I was working far too many hours and studying for a large series of technical certification exams. In the midst of that crazy season for some reason it seemed a fun diversion to see if I couldn’t pull off successful blogging, whatever that means. I experimented a bit, but found I did best with a general structure to my posts and not so much a common theme, but maybe a consistent voice to the posts. I wrote anonymously and worked at building up a community with other bloggers, a few whom I still communicate with occasionally. I don’t remember the specific stats, but a couple times it was featured on MSN.com with the resulting immense uptick in visitors. I posted a handful of times a week and consistently had good dialog with a couple dozen comments
on posts. It was an enjoyable and satisfying little community where I played with my writing and processed much of life at that point.
One of the formats I commonly used in posts was lists. I rather love lists, creating them somehow creates a little brain space and freedom from remembering items now contained elsewhere. I like their orderliness and I especially like checking things off if it’s that kind of list. One of the writing prompts from the writing challenge is to write a list. Today’s list is of the perks of being ‘location independent’ as seen from one very unscientific view a few weeks in.
No lawn to mow. Actually let’s change this to no yard to weed, because I actually rather enjoy lawn mowing (or cutting the grass as the husband says). There’s something immensely satisfying in the immediate impact it has on how the yard looks upon completion.
No house cleaning. There’s some trade off with this one, it’s somewhat challenging to keep things organized and there’s the normal dish washing, clothes washing, etc. that has its own set of challenges when camping or Airbnb type rentals.
Low desire for acquiring ‘stuff.’ Like when traveling, the need to find a home for new purchases makes filtering out what’s really necessary and functional much clearer then when one has a house to fill with things.
Running is a way to explore a new place, which is a highly motivating reason for me to keep up with this habit I’m trying to acquire.
We walk a good amount more than at home.
Connecting with friends and family we don’t commonly see. For example the great uncle we’ll spend this weekend with.
Opportunity to hone our packing/organizing scheme (it’d been a LONG time since I’d been in The Container Store previous to our moving out of the house).
Opportunity to experiment and improve on our eating and staying active goals while traveling. Somehow despite best efforts these always tend to clast a bit with the goals of exploring and in particular trying local restaurants. So far, we seem to be doing better this round.
I fear this list veered into the realm of uninteresting and it’s now at the 500 words mark, meaning it’s time to send it off into the interwebs before I give in to the temptation to start second guessing and editing!