August 20, 2013

What I've Been Into - Summer 2013


I've decided to try something new here. I was talking the other day to a friend about our summers, and I realized two things:
  1. I loved hearing about what she'd been doing, what she'd read and seen, where she visited, what she'd been mulling over.
  2. Although I had read/seen/visited/thought over actual adultish things myself, I could hardly remember any of them. 
I am blaming this on my dear sweet little boy and the scientific FACT called "Baby Brain." And I am using it as a reason to put together a post now and then--maybe once a month? once a season?--to remember what I've been into between the rocking and feeding and human-jungle-gyming exploits that soak through so many of my waking hours. A good number of other bloggers do this same thing, and despite the fact that there's nothing overtly lovely or inspiring about a list of television titles, I look forward to these posts. They open the door to that writer's humanness, I think, and they establish a sense of community. That said, I hope you don't mind my intermittent forays away from the sublime edges of life and toward its muddier middle. I'd also love for your to share some bits of what you've found interesting lately, too.

So, to start us off, here's my first installment of what I've been into:

Books:
  1. The Round House by Louise Erdrich -- my hands-down favorite read of the season
  2. The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides -- +++
  3. The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg -- thinking about how to use these insights in my classroom
  4. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green -- sweet and sad; will recommend this to my students
  5. I Know This Much is True by Wally Lamb -- couldn't really get into this one?
  6. Stacks of picture books, most notably Frederick by Leo Lionni and The Deer Watch by Pat Lowery Collins

Articles/Posts:
  1. "Snow Fall" by John Branch -- I'm a bit behind, but I thought this was a well-told story presented in a fascinating fashion
  2. "The Opt-Out Generation Wants Back In" -- fascinating as I think about mothering/working/etc.
  3. "The Tragedy of the Sunset Photo" -- forgive me, world
  4. "Dear Prudence" -- guilty pleasure #1
  5. "Kissing" by Diana Whitney
  6. "In the Community Garden" by Mark Doty

TV and Movies (mostly via Netflix and Hulu):
  1. Breaking Bad -- the only TV show in years that has made me wish we owned an actual television 
  2. Dexter -- we have a thing for complicated characters
  3. World War Z -- husband's idea; kind of liked it?
  4. Jim Gaffigan stand-up
  5. So You Think You Can Dance -- guilty pleasure #2

Videos:
  1. "Treasure" -- spoken word written and performed by a former student
  2. Sheep protest -- oh, the power of the herd!
  3. The North Shore of Lake Superior
  4. Red Heart the Ticker -- love this VT musical duo

Finds:
  1. The Lucky Day collection at our local library -- books normally buried a mile deep under a wait list sometimes just show up on this shelf, and if you check it at the right time... ba-bam! 
  2. Norwex products -- who would have thought a wash cloth could win my heart?
  3. Nordicware popcorn popper -- okay, I actually found this a few years ago, but it's amazingness needs to be shared with other lovers of the perfect evening salty snack
  4. Grocery stores at 8pm on week day nights -- so peaceful you can hear the freezers hum
  5. Pureed sweet potatoes -- delicious? Yes.
  6. The Fourth River Magazine -- another place-based publication
  7. You Are My Wild -- beautiful photography of children
  8. Feedly -- I was a bit distraught when I learned that Google Reader would disappear in the beginning of July, but now after having used it for two months, I'm a happy convert. I really love swiping articles left and right on the iPad.

So that's that. Of course I feel like I forgot about one hundred things I intended to share with you here, but now that I've cleared a space for this kind of record keeping, perhaps I'll do a better job of making notes as various things inspire/move/humor/startle me. That's the goal, anyway. I start back at work in one week: eeeeeep! Here's hoping my baby brain doesn't fill with such a sweep of new need-to-knows that I suddenly forget how to type. :)

How about you? What's kept you thinking this summer? What did I miss? 

Be well, friends!


17 comments:

  1. Emily, I am on the opposite end of the spectrum, with my eldest getting married soon. That has been utmost on my mind this summer as is my son's departure for Tuft's University in Boston in exactly one week. Hold on to that sweet Elliot, for these children of ours grow up way too fast.

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    1. You are so right, Audrey. Elliot has spent the last few days watching his one-year-old nephew walk around, and it has increased El's desire to move tenfold. Very soon he'll be crawling, and then... off to college? Getting married? I'm very thankful I've had these months to live life slowly.

      I send you luck and comfort as the events you mentioned touch your family. Big changes! But what blessings.

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  2. I agree with Audrey's comment about holding onto your time with your son! My daughter Abby is leaving for her dorm room on Tuesday, way too soon and yet I know it's just right. Our summer has been filled with graduation parties, a trip to NYC (last family trip before Abby leaves), babysitting our 2-year-old granddaughter, gardening, hosting cookouts, and watching 3 of the 5 TV/Netflix shows you mentioned (#1, #2, #3 to be exact). Abby is reading The Round House for the required freshman reading for the U of M. Summer has slid by way too fast.

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    1. My goodness -- so much college talk! I mentioned this in my last post, but I really do look at all boys and young men differently now. I'm sure eighteen years will pass faster than I could ever imagine.

      Your summer sounds wonderful, Kathleen -- exactly as a summer should be spent. And per shows #1, 2, and 3 -- so good, right? My husband and I have found that we don't really have time for full movies any more, so 45 minutes or so after El goes to bed--with some popcorn or a delicious berry smoothie--is just right. I hope you get to read The Round House and discuss it with Abby... incredible storytelling!

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  3. Emily, You may be busy with that sweet son, but you also got an amazing amount of reading/viewing/living done! I spent a lot of time with my own dear grandchildren this summer. My husband and I say we know why 60+ year olds don't have babies! Our youngest grandson will be one year old next month. He grows and learns new things every day. We love watching his progress. Wishing you continued good health.

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    1. Thanks so much, Barb! Yes, when I look back at this list, I am amazed myself. I've done much of my reading/article perusing on an iPad while nursing, in between the long stretches of just gazing at the babe, of course. It's been a nice way to stay connected. And what a blessing grandparenting is, yes? We just spent several days with my husband's parents who love their two grandbabies, and my parents? Let's just say Elliot is one very loved little boy. Enjoy your time with your little ones!

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  4. I too love Breaking Bad. I've been on the edge of my seat all week, waiting for the next episode. Round House is gorgeous. The Fault in Our Stars is the Books and Bars book for September--we meet at School II in Chan on Sept. 3 at 7 p.m., if you'd like to join us. It's great fun and good discussion. Bring the baby!

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    1. My goodness, Amy -- in Chan? Sounds meant to be to me! That is a busy week for me, but if I can make it would, I would love to discuss the book and have a night out with other local readers (and meet you in person!). And just a few more (excruciating!) hours until Sunday night... :)

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    2. Hope you can! If not, just know that from Sept.-May, it's the first Tuesday of every month at School II. October's book is Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter. I don't know the rest of the schedule--it's at booksandbars.com.

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    3. Great! After checking my schedule, we do have an afternoon wedding that day, so making it to this gathering might be a stretch, but I will definitely try to come sooner rather than later. Sounds wonderful!

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  5. I've never heard of "baby brain". I found this on the Mayo Clinic site:

    "Some studies have shown that pregnancy impairs a woman's memory during pregnancy and shortly afterward, possibly due to hormonal changes, sleep deprivation or the stress of coping with a major life change. Other research has shown that pregnancy and motherhood have no negative cognitive impacts.

    Because the concept of baby brain is so widely accepted, some experts suggest that pregnant women and new mothers are more aware of everyday cognitive slips. As a result, they might mistakenly perceive themselves as having trouble thinking."

    That makes sense to me. I didn't have baby brain, but I well remember what it was like for a year or two after my mom moved down here and I took over responsibliity for her care. I'd leave for the grocery store to purchase three items and come home with one. Etc., ad nauseum. I thought I was the one with dementia!

    And yes - as my friends and I begin to move out of our sixties into our seventies and even (gasp!) our eighties, we're hyper-aware of every little forgotten aspect of life. Maybe we have Boomer Brain.

    The two things on your list I dearly love are weeknight grocery store trips and pureed sweet potatoes. My Thanksgiving sweet potato casserole is well-whipped with butter and brown sugar, a few spices and a crust of crushed pecans. So good.

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    1. Ha! I wrote "fact" with a bit of cheekiness, as I know it's debatable, but it certainly feels like fact to me. And I can see how you'd feel something similar while taking care of your mom. Any time you are responsible for someone for a long stretch of time, I imagine certain parts of your brain just have to go into a type of dormancy to allow you to utilize the parts of yourself that are constantly on call. And Boomer Brain! Ha! That sounds like the name of an essay someone I know might write... :)

      I made the sweet potatoes for Elliot and had enough left over to provide a nice side for my husband and me, but we just enjoyed them as is. Your additions sound deeeeeeeelicious! (And make me excited for the fall.)

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  6. "pureed sweeet potatoes" In my opinion anything made out of sweet potatoes in any form is especially delicious. Sweet potato soup with leeks? Unbelievable, especially in hot in a thermos while ice fishing!

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    1. Sounds like a recipe I will have to try! (I only really learned about leeks when I was out your way a few years ago... maybe a Northeast specialty?)

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  7. I so loved reading this. I've been into Barry Lopez and watermelon and watching hummingbirds. Good summer. And completely agree with you on "Breaking Bad." We're currently working through season 2. How have I missed this show for what, five years!? Complicated characters are refreshing.

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    1. All right! Enough already. I have heard Barry Lopez's name enough times now. I'm just going to go out a buy a library of his stuff. :) Any starting-point suggestions?

      We started with Breaking Bad last summer... excited to see where it all goes!

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    2. That must be how people start reading Lopez -- I bought several of his books this spring after hearing his name for years. ;) "Arctic Dreams," is his most famous, I've been told, but I never start with those for some reason, and began with "Crossing Open Ground." I would very much recommend.

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