Wherein I Recommend A Book Instead Of The Other Way Around
I figured out how to get out of my book rut last night as I was reading leftovers and staring at my bookshelf of favorites - read a book I’ve already read. I don’t do this often. Like I said, there are a lot of books in the world to read, so why spend too much time reading them again?
I picked up Important Artifacts and Personal Property From the Collection of Lenore Doolan and Harold Morris, Including Books, Street Fashion, and Jewelry. A favorite from last year, it is a graphic novel depicting the relationship of a rather hip couple: he, a traveling photographer; she, a food writer for the New York Times. Their story is told through items and notes they have given each other, through postcards and photographs, all up for sale in an auction. The relationship starts so hopeful, but the reader is always cautious - they know even from the beginning that it will end. As the months and years go by hints start to drop that things are afoot. (A note goes along with a vase, once filled with roses: Doolan later noted in her diary that the roses did not open. Telling.)
The other charming part of this book is that even though it takes place in the last decade, there is an astounding amount of handwritten letters and postcards. It makes sense, seeing as how they are a hip, charming, and effortlessly cool couple, but still. It’s difficult to read this book and not wonder what your stuff says about you and the arc of past relationships. And yet, most of the clues of my past are not found in pictures or gifts, or handwritten notes. (I wish!) They’re in my archived email, in chat logs, in text messages on phones that I no longer possess.
Before I get too deep into oversharing territory, I’ll just say this: this book speaks to me. I’m reading reviews and the pans are all complaints about how it’s too precious, too twee, and in some ways, it is. But when you take away the highly curated stuff, the feelings remain true.
The New York Times has a new feature: an education column every Monday. I am really excited by this prospect.
Today’s article is about a good principal that was removed from her school in order to get Race to the Top funds. The school was not passing state tests, mostly because it has a large population of refugee students. It’s a really good picture of the current education trends, including the one-size-fits-all model to “improving” schools, schools that have their hands tied because everyone is short on funds. For taking place in Vermont, it hits a little too close to home.
Good day, y’all. I’m sorry I haven’t been feeling very tumblry lately, but that is about to change.
Maybe you’ve seen this, you being a person on the internets - who do you write like? I of course tried it, and I got David Foster Wallace! I did it with another entry and got the same result. And again. Then I got James Joyce. Then I got DFW four more times, and James Joyce once more. So basically, I am about four parts David Foster Wallace and one part James Joyce. This struck me as a bit funny - do you want to hear why? Are you ready for the stream of my consciousness? I’m feeling listy so we’re just going to roll with that.
1. I have never read anything by David Foster Wallace or James Joyce (DFW and JJ, that’s what we’ll call them).
2. This is what I know about DFW - he is a modern author who died not too long ago, and the people who like him really like him. He wrote a book called Infinite Jest and even though I have no idea what this book is about (probably nothing, is my best guess), I know it’s very long and has a lot of footnotes and people who have read it consider it a badge of pride and people who haven’t read it also probably consider that a badge of pride.
3. Maybe this was just a 2009 thing, but some people decided last summer that they would read Infinite Jest over the summer and they called it their Infinite Summer. As someone who likes summer, making reading this book seem like a chore that will never end is not something I like to equate with summer.
4. Maybe you’ve gathered this by now, but for these reasons and more that I cannot really explain, I have slowly gotten it into my head that I don’t ever want to read Infinite Jest, and probably no other books by DFW, either. It’s stubborn and silly, but there it is.
5. I don’t follow Craig on twitter, though I probably should because Deb pointed out once that he said this: I’ve never read David Foster Wallace. Any of it. I’ll get around to it when you all shut the fuck up about him, probably.
6. Being a person of a non-confrontational nature, when people say things that I want to say but am too afraid to say I agree with them about ten times more.
7. I wrote a large chunk of this blog post in my head while I was swimming this morning. My swim workout was kind of awful, by the way. I never felt like I could get enough air and I was really slow and tired.
8. In my over-dramatic thoughts of what reading Infinite Jest might be like (having never even picked up the damn thing), I think it would be something like swimming today: feeling like I can’t breathe and wishing it were over.
9. The truth is I’ve been in a terrible book rut for the past few months. It’s a bad cycle to get into because I want the next book I read to be engaging and wonderful and if it’s not I’m just going to sink deeper into this hole. This makes me less inclined to read anything. If someone handed me a book by David Foster Wallace and said I should check it out, I’d have to say, I’m sorry, but it’s just not a good time right now.
10. There are a lot of books in the world to read.
11. My sad feeling on books as of late is that if I had the choice of reading a book or getting a beer with friends I would choose beer and conversation probably 75% of time. Of course, most of my friends aren’t inviting me out for beers at 11:42 pm on weeknights when I’m sitting in bed in my underwear.
12. You should either invite me out for beers more or tell me some good books to read.
13. But yeah, the point of this whole thing is that apparently I write like David Foster Wallace, and not like Dan Brown, and not like Stephen King. This makes me think that maybe someday I should read something by him.
More fascinating stuff for you to read. This weighs kind of heavily on me right now, given the amount of friends who are marrying, procreating, and even separating. I read the first five pages thinking, see, not having kids ever wouldn’t be so bad! I could live my fabulous life! Then I got to this part:
About twenty years ago, Tom Gilovich, a psychologist at Cornell, made a striking contribution to the field of psychology, showing that people are far more apt to regret things they haven’t done than things they have. … Not one told him of regretting having children, but ten told him they regretted not having a family.
I remember that post, and it changed my life! I’m not even joking. I make smoothies that way all the time, green ones especially, and they’re easy to tote to work that way. [I’m kind of getting more of a reputation as a weird eater.] Also, homemade dressings that way are incredibly convenient. Amazing stuff.
From Rebecca of thisisamap, in regards to using a mason jar instead of your blender pitcher. (See here, here, here, and here.) Yes! I also make dressings in mason jars on the blender when I’m feeling ambitious (read: more ambitious than simply drizzling olive oil and balsamic on my salad). And I also have a reputation at work as being a super healthy quirky earthy girl since I always bring soup in a jar.
So there you go: mason jars might change your life.