I took a weekend trip to see the West Coast (so lovely, by the way), and did some reading for entertainment. (Along with making my mother see some of Doctor Who. I am nothing without priorities.) Here are my Goodreads reviews from that.
Shade’s Children by Garth Nix
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Reading two post-apocalypse books at the same time and having neither of them explain about why the world was the way it was frustrated me. (Time to read more Susan Beth Pfeffer books!) Still, Shade’s Children was gripping. The technology! The ridiculousness of something else harvesting human organs to create their own monsters which then go after the children that run away because… why? Some kind of battle. Okay, so we really didn’t get into the other side of the story. Whatever. That’s fine.
There were still really compelling conflicts of children who did not grow up with adults and therefore do not know how to reason like an adult. And Shade itself! The most fascinating take of this book is what happens when you let something like him run loose. Is it okay? Are the children being raised in a fair environment where they know all they need to know? Do they learn compassion in addition to Sex Ed I, II, and Basic Contraception? (Oh man the fact that those existed cracked me up.)
View all my reviews
Fever Crumb by Philip Reeve
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
I would say that this book is almost-but-not-quite steampunk, since many of the characters are trying to resurrect and understand technology from our time. (As with the last book I reviewed, what happened to make this change? So curious!) It was fascinating to see this girl, who was raised with the point of view that irrationality is wrong, struggle with her feelings as she learns that her entire history was a lie. I was quite pleased at the ending, as she realizes that she needs space to think away from the people who want to use her, and she takes it. That was quite a strength, to go from a childlike “scientist” who follows where the older men direct to realizing what she needs and taking it. The best part of this book was absolutely watching Fever mature, when I almost expected her to stay this childlike doll for the entire book, pushed from one thing to another by the plot.
View all my reviews
If you’ve been around me at all recently, you may have noticed me gazing at my nails more often than usual. I’m in awe at them. Never before have I had such long and healthy-looking nails. They’ve always been strong, yes, but I’m actually trying to see how long I can get them and if they’ll stay just as pretty.
look at those nails! still working on getting the strength back from The Job That Won’t Be Named but getting there.
I did mention discovering Accio Lacquer, did I not? I went from her Nails 101 down the rabbit hole of a few “how I care for my nails” blog posts and worked out what would help me.
The thing is, the media would have you believe that beauty is effortless, when no, upkeep and making sure your nails are strong and healthy and moisturized, it all takes time. Moisturizing your cuticles all the time, using a cuticle oil at night, it takes time and effort. But for long and strong nails having well-moisturized cuticles apparently does something.
Can I just say how much in awe I am of my right thumb?
long and strong!
My left thumbnail still breaks from time to time and has to be filed down, but my right somehow avoided disasters. I mean, my nails in general aren’t perfect; the dry environment in The Job That Won’t Be Named really messed with my whole body and most of it is still recovering. So just the fact that one nail is pretty great is exciting to me.
Other things: filing [dry nails] seems to be better than clipping them, and I grew up clipping my nails (wet). They are definitely retaining their shape better with filing rather than clipping and I’m never in that situation where I clipped a nail TOO short. I’m trying to stop picking at them so much, too.
I’m not sure why this seems like a fun goal to be working on right now (I mean, really? long pretty nails? that’s a goal??), but, y’know, to each their own. They’ll be a great base for nail art, and maybe that’s the point: to me, playing with standards of beauty means being able to create my own image, and in that creativity there is freedom.
need some spring in my step
This morning, when I woke up and logged online, a friend wanted to show me her makeup from the weekend. This led to squealing over makeup and beauty and suddenly the question—can we please have a makeup blog together??
I’ve become an avid follower of Makeup and Beauty Blog and Accio Lacquer, and I’ve been using makeup lately as a creative outlet (can’t knit,
the clowns will eat me um, I mean, tendinitis). So the rest of today has been consumed with brainstorming, finding themes, starting write-ups.
It’s been a good day.
I’m off to Zumba with a dear friend and starting the rest of my life today. Retail work was hard and it was taking away from who I am. All the people who care about me supported my decision to leave and take care of myself and so, here I am.
Hello, World. Did you miss me?
Once upon a time, personal web sites were places to showcase your creative works. The online version of my paper ideas journal. These days, seems like they’re all blogs about showing off how creative you can be. (Can I be? We’ll see.)
I need a place to let thoughts marinate, to explore the world and take up space in it.
(Aside: Women are taught not to take up space.
It is time for me to stop creeping, stop tip-toeing unseen from place to place, to be unabashedly.)
Who is this woman? What does she know about herself? What does she have to live for, and will she leave any footprints behind her?
My annual visit to the Minnesota State Fair took place yesterday and as usual it was a delight. My Flickr State Fair set has twenty-two photos from the awesome time I had at the fair, but I thought I might share some highlights here.
The seed art, aka art made from seeds, actual seeds, was a treat as usual, and this “VOTE NO” art made me laugh out loud:
Before heading to the fair, we looked up where to get cheap fun snacks, and found s’mores on a stick – 50¢ or three for $1.25.
Also, this is the place where you can get anything on a stick:
As for this, I think I need to enter this contest next year:
I was really impressed by the knitting this year. I only saw a couple of things that I felt like I could do easily, which is an improvement over last year. Go knitters!
My new favorite State Fair memory is heading to the exit at the end of the day and passing by the French Fries booth, where the employees were all doing some type of flash mob dance to “Jump On It”. I will continue to randomly sing “JUMP ON IT! JUMP ON IT!” whenever the notion occurs to me now.
Dear State Fair, you’re a great experience and one of the many things I love about where I live.
Do you remember at one point I was going to take pictures of my cooking and share, to make sure that I was actually cooking and everything? That worked out pretty well, didn’t it? After sinking so low last month that I actually miss food—the act of savouring each step in a meal—I decided to recommit myself to beans, legumes, rice, and vegetables this week. With a fantastic farmers market in the area and a fair growing season for summer vegetables, now is the time to try new things! Especially with the help of books like How to Cook Everything and the Veganomicon. I can do it!
Even with those two, though, I found myself looking at some friends’ cookbooks… and then borrowing some of theirs. It turns out that this week is Try All The Indian Recipes week.
Sunday was kitchri (rice and red lentils, and yes I love red lentils), Monday was mushroom bhaji. Tuesday, once I tried to get asafetida and cumin seeds, was a chickpea, tomato, and spinach concoction. I am in desperate need of leafy greens.
Here’s the bhaji results.
I realized near the end that I did not have any tomato paste, even though I thought I had, so I substituted a fresh tomato or two. Not quite the same thing in getting a thick sauce around the mushrooms, but it worked out all right and is delicious, which is the important part.
And here is the chickpea/tomato/spinach concoction, which took close to two hours with all the chopping involved, but is MUCH more than the four servings specified in the recipe:
I’m not sure if it’s amazing enough to take as long as it does, but at least it got me many good nutrients and will last through the rest of the week. I bet I would make it again. I definitely would make the mushroom bhaji and kitchri again, so I could see myself stealing this cookbook and not giving it back… ;)
I even made lime cooler from the drinks section yesterday. Great way to use my overflowing mint plant. I wish I’d discovered it sooner; it’s been a hot hot hot summer!
After a sudden, sharp panic attack at the library this afternoon, I picked up my things and raced out the door, hopped on my bike, and got home as quickly as I could. Now I’m trying to catch my breath (half an hour later) and wondering what caused my heart to jump to my throat. Is it the weather, a sickly grey, amazingly cooler than it’s been in weeks, with wind rustling odd patterns through the trees? Is it some sense of foreboding, something within me that I managed to awaken while soul-searching the past few days? Is it something else?
One secret that I’ve kept from this blog is a long-standing interest in the pagan and metaphysical. Over the past few weeks I have noticed that my psychic skills have gotten more accurate, and while I’ll brush it off with a joking “Yeah, I’m psychic”, but I’m not sure joking about it is going to cut it anymore. It’s keeping me from trusting my feelings, all of them, which is keeping me from being whole.
Last night I re-read Note to Self: On Keeping a Journal and Other Dangerous Pursuits and what struck me was the chapter “Sense of Self”: being honest with yourself about what you’re going through. My sense of self has both expanded and shrunk in the past year, and my writing habits have not kept up with the changes. I’m a different person than I was a year ago, two years ago, or five years ago. I know that much. But by not recording the changes, I can’t pinpoint how I am a different person: just that I am and it’s important.
The thing that really gets me is that I’m finally understanding just how much writing means to me. I used to have in my sidebar a text that said “I can’t seem to stop writing.” I had better not stop writing, or I’ll lose myself.
How’s that for a re-commitment to my blogging and journalling?
I keep thinking of all these posts I’m going to write, then when I sit down I get distracted by something else. Mostly job hunting, writing, volunteer things, hanging out with friends. Just in the last week, though, I started thinking about knitting more and more. I have too many things I need to knit for others still, but Phoe posted a knit from a lovely pattern and I think while I’m slightly in between projects for others, I might start that today. I desperately miss knitting socks, but I still feel slightly unsure about starting a pair for myself. So, another shawl I don’t need it is!
I also have a finished and blocked shawl waiting for pictures, and I think I’ll take those pictures and post them over the weekend. I’m hoping to have plenty of knitting time this weekend. Until then, have some links!
I hate to admit it, but a meditation retreat sounds incredibly appealing. Ten days without phones or internet or people? What amazing feats could I come up with if I were on my own? I know I have a lot of untapped potential because I’m so often thinking about others rather than quietly dreaming by myself. What could I do with ten days truly away and taking care of me? And what kind of energy would I bring back?
Phoe says, I Refuse. If I had the courage to refuse? I think I would refuse to conform to society, but that won’t get food in my belly.
How to be Fearless in the Workplace. Though mainly I suppose I’d like to be a fearless adult.
Because I have been going going going so hard the last month: 5 reasons why you should take the day off. Someone help encourage me to take a day off for my mental health and stop looking at me askance!
The Place Where Things Collide: a reflection on the different identities in the world.
I’m off to knit now. I finally have some good news in the job hunt department, so I am going to reward myself by starting something new and actually RELAXING. Three cheers!
People have talked about this before, in newspapers and on the internet. We’re disconnected and don’t talk to each other and we rush about and we are out of time all the time. I am a part of this generation. All I really know about is trying to fend for myself without a whole lot of support. When I was in high school, I took care of myself, got a 4.0 GPA the whole time, and made dinners and drove my brother and myself to the places we needed to be. I was the second mom in my family. I did not make lasting friendships and I did not have a mentor and I did not feel supported by any one outside of my immediate family.
To the future and college age, I did not make friends easily. I was too used to taking care of myself. I rarely asked for help from professors and counselors. I thought I was on my own for everything, and I assumed everything would be up to me. Saving the world. Stopping genocide. Maintaining a 4.0. I had to be on top of all of that and I had to do it all myself, and no one reached out to me to say, “Hey. It’s really okay. We’re in this together.”
I hit a pretty low period at the beginning of my junior year of school and near the end of that year I fell apart. Since then I’ve been putting together the pieces that are truly me, and trying to discard what isn’t. It’s been difficult, so difficult. I’m at the point where I’m happy with my friends and generally content most of the time (which I couldn’t have said much in my life before 2010), and I feel like I’m always discovering something that needs to be tweaked to work better in my life. Right now it’s community.
I grew up in the digital world; my community ties are almost all online. The people who have known me the longest are friends in far-off places that I’ve only communicated with via text. They supported me, but they were also lonely and far away. They were all young people without a sense of community in their geographic location.
Becky and I were talking the other day, as we do very often, and mentioned how we wish we had had a mentor growing up. And still wish we had a mentor. Growing up is difficult and lonely, and I never feel like I’m doing the right thing. I feel like I have all this responsibility and none of the words of wisdom. I don’t (and won’t) belong to a major religion, so those community ties are not available for me. So what is? Where do I get someone older and wiser to tell me things are okay? How do I work with people in all stages of life to be an example to me? And I an example to them?
Questions that I’ve been pondering.