Thursday, January 29, 2009

I feel like a slacker

It’s interesting how much making a commitment—really deciding that I’m going to do something and stating that goal out loud—affects my actions. Here we are less than a month past Blog 365, and I’m a total blog slacker. I didn’t really find Blog 365 that hard to achieve, and I really loved putting something up there everyday. And yet, here I am with nothing cooking on this blog now that the year has ended.

It’s true that I have less time right now, and I know that’s a part of it. I’m doing homework before and after work, and my job keeps me busy with actual work rather than offering up blogging time these days.

Still, in an effort to keep up blogging appearances, here’s some of what I’ve been up to lately:

Last weekend was a great one. Rena was in town, and we had a great time catching up over a fairly healthy dinner (even though we both really wanted gorgonzola bread). Then it was off to Carole’s gig at Sugar Bar. I had so much fun! I had a chance to catch up with Josh and Todd on Saturday. How can we all live in the same place and still never get together? It’s just not right. I hadn’t seen them since before the holidays, so it was a treat. And we ate at the Clinton Street Baking Company which I’d never been to before and really loved. Apparently they have a killer brunch, too.

This weekend, I think, will be just as good. Jen’s in town tomorrow, and we’re hitting the movies. There are so many good ones that I haven’t seen! Saturday will be even more film fun, as Todd and I double date with Anne and Aaron. Unrelated: I never really noticed before that we’re two same-initial couples.

Interspersed, of course, will be lots of reading.

And now, I have a meeting starting (see all that real work they want me to do?) so I have to stop writing. More to come soon as I try not to become too lazy on the blogging front.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Good is Good Enough

I recently read this quote by Voltaire (no Shannon, not your musical BFF): “Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.”

It resonated with me. I’m a perfectionist and sometimes choose to not participate, not complete something, or not even try something out of fear that it won’t be perfect. Isn’t it better to send a friend an email birthday greeting than not send anything at all because I didn’t have time to create a personalized handmade card? Isn’t it better to join in the game and have fun rather than worry that I won’t be coordinated enough to be the star of the show?

Being a perfectionist is great when I actually perfect something. I feel accomplished and get the affirmations I love. But there are undoubtedly times that I hold myself back because of it, too, and I’d rather embrace the “good” more.

Saturday, January 24, 2009


This week was my first week of classes in the new program. Class #1 was a bit boring, as the prof covered nothing but housekeeping and the like for two hours. It's my most theory-based course, and I suspect it will not be my favorite—but such is the way in intro courses. The other class was off to a more interesting start as we dove right in to the content during our first meeting. All the other students I've met so far seem great, and both of my professors seem to have a lot to offer...including plenty of homework.

I am trying to adjust my schedule to make room for so much more to do. Rather than sacrifice every evening to homework, I've taken to getting up an hour (ok, more like 45 minutes after I snooze, but I'm trying for an hour) earlier to get some quiet reading time in. I think it's a good system. Once I actually drag myself out of bed, I find it easier to stay focused in the morning than any other time. It's just actually getting out of the warm and comfy bed that's the challenge. I'm going to try to stick with it, though. I'm feeling a little pooped right now, no doubt because I'm in the beginning of my limited-sleep experiment and because I generated a lot of anxiety for myself about class. I'm not so great with change and the unknown. :)

Long story short, I am no doubt in for a lot of work in the coming weeks, months, and years, but I think I'm going to like flexing that gray matter again, too.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

When did I get so wussy?

I used to live in Vermont! I made it through four Ithaca winters! How is it that I'm so sick of the cold this season? I still have months to go before spring arrives, so I realize I should stop wondering each morning if today is the day it'll be warm...still, I can't seem to help myself.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

A New Day

There isn’t much I can say today that isn’t being said all over the blogosphere and mainstream media. Still, I couldn’t let this day pass without saying how grateful I am that Barack Obama won the election and is about to become our 44th president. Go Obama! After seeing images of the crowds on the mall and parade route this morning it’s abundantly clear that the hope and excitement I’m feeling is widespread.

Here’s to an administration that will, I hope, revitalize America’s economy, bring healthcare to all Americans, reestablish this country as one we can be proud of (e.g., let’s stop torturing people and lying about it), and progress social and civil causes (down with Prop 8 and the equally horrific but underreported Arkansas Unmarried Couple Adoption Ban).

There is much to be done, but it's the first time in eight years I've felt hopeful about what we'll achieve.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Another New Look

I appreciate all the nice comments I got on my recently updated blog look, but I had to change it once again. That other design was ok, but there were some quirks with it that proved too annoying to keep (no dates on the posts, wacky margin issues, some archiving flaws).

I realize this template is girly in the extreme, but I'm a girl and really like it. Apologies to the boys who have too much testosterone to tolerate this much pink. :)

Friday, January 16, 2009

When We Were Romans

Are all you book-lovers out there reading Fiction Writers Review? You should be. And there’s a new review posted by yours truly to give you the nudge you might need to open that extra tab. Check out FWR to read my thoughts on When We Were Romans.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Students Get Busy

Here are a couple examples of just how initiative is paying off in some of America’s students. I saw these side-by-side on the Huffington Post yesterday, and the juxtaposition was just too good not to share.

10-Year-Old Reporter Damon Weaver Gets His Inauguration Credentials

Student Auctions Off Virginity For Offers Of Up To $3.7 Million

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Student Again

Last night was my orientation for grad school. To be very honest, I have mixed feelings about embarking on this adventure. It's continuing ed, the application wasn't that rigorous, and those elements allowed me to avoid thinking about how much time and energy would be invested in this program. Of course I knew, but I haven't had to put much time and energy into it yet, so it was easy to keep pretending that I could still read the same number of novels, watch lots of Netflix, spend days lollygagging around with Todd, and generally continue on as I always had--only I could proudly say I was a grad student, too.

Orientation was the wake up call, reminding me once and for all that that is so not the case. I met everyone in my program last night--there are only 18 of us (15 women), and everyone I met seemed smart, interesting, and to have a lot to offer. It got me excited about what I'll really be doing for the next two years, but it reminded me what I won't be doing, too.

My first class is next Tuesday, and I need to buy books this week for the pre-class reading assignment. Things have changed already.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Courtesy of David Letterman

The countdown is on, and Obama's inauguration can't come quickly enough for me. Eight years of GWB is way too long! That said, without his presidency, we wouldn't have comedy like this:

In other news, I think this template might have to change. Check out how wacked out the margins are on this post. It's annoying, and I don't know how to fix it.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Bring on the bike stands

I just read this article about a proposal to require bike storage in all new construction throughout New York, and the idea really makes me smile. Last spring when I was looking to buy a bike, the warning I heard most from other cyclists was that bikes are stolen nonstop in the city. I was frustrated that my office building was so unaccommodating, and that was a big part of why I opted for the more expensive foldable bike that I ultimately bought (better storage in a small apartment was obviously the other reason). To have a secure place to park my bike both in an apartment building and at a workplace would go along way toward allowing more New Yorkers to ride. And the more of us there are on the streets, the safer riding will become.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Sign me up for single-payer.

Last night Todd and I attended a community meeting about healthcare. It was run by the local democratic group who organized much of the Obama volunteering I did during the campaign, and they are using Obama’s transition site to funnel information back to him. Apparently these meetings have been happening throughout the country since December 15th.

As with so many of these, the meeting was a mixed bag. Many people told us about personal frustrations with healthcare: One woman had to fight for months to have her insurance company approve a test her daughter badly needed. Another had a friend released (on less than a day’s notice) from a rehab/physical therapy facility because her insurance-covered stay was over. Her friend was immobile and completely unable to take care of herself. The staff didn’t even help the woman out of the facility—her friends had to wrestle her into a taxi without any support.

These types of stories were not surprising but still affecting and awful to hear. The best part of the evening, though, was the information presented by a very persuasive physician who attended to speak to us. She’s part of a group of physicians who advocate for a single-payer system. 97% of Medicare (a single-payer system) goes to medical care, compared with approximately 70% of private insurance money: the rest covers overhead, bureaucracy, etc. The efficiency gained by a single-payer system basically covers the cost of providing care for currently uninsured Americans. Couple this with the incredible savings that occur when people can get preventive care and immediate care when needed (rather than waiting until a situation has escalated and an emergency room visit is needed, which is what many uninsured folks do), and the numbers really work in favor of a universal, single-payer system.

We talked about a lot more (the inherent impossibility of a good for-profit medical system being one of the ones that stuck with me), but my take-away was that a single-payer system would be an incredible improvement over what we have. There are so many of these systems throughout the world already that we’re in the enviable position of reviewing what is working and what isn’t and creating something thoughtfully. I have my doubts about the ability to get this enacted: The insurance companies have deep pockets and busy lobbyists and people really fear change. I hope to be proven wrong, though. This country needs universal health care.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

It's a Book. It's a Blog. It's the Wovel!

I’m shamelessly stealing this from Fiction Writers Review and Anne, but only because it’s so intriguing.

Editor/publisher Victoria Blake (Underland Press), along with programmer Jesse Pollack, is the force behind a new literary form: the online serial novel, or wovel; NPR describes it as “Choose your Own Adventure meets Wikipedia.” A self-confessed blog addict who loves reading frequently-updated online content, Blake thought it would be great to have opportunities to read literature online in a serial form, a la Dickens (and more recently Chabon), and to have that experience be interactive.

Here is Underland’s official description of the wovel (from their website):

Every week, the author posts an installment. Installment length hits the sweet-spot of online reading—long enough to get interested, short enough to read in the cubicle at work. At the end of every installment, the author writes in a plot branch point. Does the heroine kill her lover? Will the zombies catch the soldier? Is the box empty, or is it filled with bees?


On Monday, the post goes up. Voting is open through Thursday. The author writes Thursday and Friday. The editors edit Friday and Saturday. The post goes back up on Monday. Part literature, part exquisite corpse. The pace of print journalism, the imagination of fiction, the spark of reader participation.

I’ve taken only a very quick look at the wovel-in-progress so far. The latest installment is seven pages; not long, but certainly longer than my own cubicle sweet-spot. Still, it’s a very interesting idea, and I’ll be curious whether any of you start reading and voting.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Fun Home

I picked up Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home on a whim. I had heard good things about it and even purchased it once before as a gift for someone else. As Todd and I were wandering through the Village the night of his birthday, we were pulled in by the siren call of a used bookstore. You all know I can barely resist used bookstores even with all my defenses up. This particular night I was weakened by several alcoholic drinks and the excuse of buying Todd an impromptu used book birthday present. I also walked out of there with a couple of things for myself, of course; so much for his birthday being all about him!

I comfort myself with the fact that at least I spent my money on good books. Bechdel’s account of her slightly bizarre childhood is an incredible read. It’s also told in graphic novel form. This is my first ever graphic novel, and what a great one to lose my G.N. virginity to! Bechdel explores her own sexual awakening, her family’s dynamic and father’s homosexuality, life in a funeral home, and much, much more with humor and heart. Her black and white artwork is so rich that she can be succinct with her words. She chooses all the right ones and gives her readers a real treat. I loved this book and have added her The Essential Dykes to Watch Out For to my wish list.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Mac Book Wheel

I love my Mac Book and my iPhone, but this is still pretty funny.

Apple Introduces Revolutionary New Laptop With No Keyboard

Monday, January 5, 2009

My reading proclivities

I read 46 books this year, which is more than I read last year but still not one a week. At least it gives me something to continue striving for in the years to come. And in case you're all curious just what types of books I spent time with in 2008, here you go.

Note: After posting this, I now see that my legend is fairly unreadable. In case you don't feel like breaking out the electronic magnifying glass:

Blue: Fiction
Orange: Nonfiction
Yellow: Memoirs
Green: Short Story Collections
Gray: Graphic Novels

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Lazy Bones

This vacation is ending not with a bang but with a whimper. After going out for lunch, Todd and I retreated to my apartment where we've spent the afternoon watching a DVD of This American Life (highly recommended), reruns of 30 Rock, and reading. Well, at least I read. Todd napped.

We didn't mean to be so lazy. Todd's idea for the day was to explore Williamsburg, which sounds ok when you phrase it that way. When you rephrase it (as I did) as aimlessly wandering around some random borough, though, it stops sounding fun. Add to the mix the annoying number of hipsters Williamsburg has to offer, and I just wasn't into it. We came back here and just never formulated a new plan.

So that's it. Vacation is over, we're lazy, and we've just ordered in a final fattening meal before we start the great weight loss challenge of '09. After this, it's all spinach and excercise!

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Last Days of Disco

I'm in the last throes of my two-week vacation and am trying to make the most of it. Since Todd's been back from Florida we've been having a wonderful time together, but our shenanigans out and about have made me realize that I never fully recovered from my cold. He's out on his own tonight, and I'm taking the opportunity to rest, catch up on some Netflix (about to watch Mamma Mia; it's definitely a good one for while Todd's out, as I really don't think he could sit through it), and hang out with Camilla. Maybe to make it a full-on girls' night, she and I will watch some Sex and the City later, too.

Friday, January 2, 2009


I changed the look of my blog. New year: new design. The minimal look suited me well for the last year and a half, but I think it's time for something more interesting, colorful, and exciting.

Putting this in place was a far more tortuous process than I had anticipated. After looking at about a thousand blog templates online, I spent the afternoon being noncommittal. Then, the first two designs I decided upon proved annoying after they were put in place. Todd and I tried to customize away the aggravating bits, but in the end it was better to just go with a different design all together.

I hope you like the new look!

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Blog 365 Achieved!

Go take a look at my blog archive sidebar. See what it says in parentheses next to the year 2008? 368, baby! That means I not only achieved but exceeded my post-a-day goal, and I loved doing it. I cheated plenty (I'm thankful that blogger gives me the option of changing the post date), but doing blog 365 prompted me to write most days if not all, and that's pretty incredible.

The experience was made easier by the elections and my inability to ever shut up about politics, either in person or on the blog. We'll see what I talk about in 2009; something tells me a post a day might be a bit more difficult this time around.