4.3.15

The fog lifts slowly

Aravis and CamPhilosophy Mom are back to blogging and, well, it's spurred me to attempt anew.  Unlike Aravis, there's been no major work stress preventing me from finding the time, but I suspect Philosophy Mom will recognize what I've been going through.  Late last year I read a book by Kathleen Norris, Acedia and Me, and while it didn't deliver in the way I'd hoped it would, I did recognize the symptoms: acedia.

It's not quite depression.  It's definitely not sloth.  There's a tinge of "why bother" and a whole lot of "who cares?"  And as for those wondering if SAD is a possibility, well, that wouldn't explain this starting in June.

Who knows why it started.  It just feels like the school year ended and a fog came down.  It stayed down during a wonderful vacation, visits from friends, some great culture culturing, many good books read (and some not-so-good books given up on) and other things happening that generally fall into the "life's not bad" category.  But it's real, and it's there.  The only thing that has consistently reached through that is cuddling with The Herd (in as much as The Herd allows for cuddling).

The thing is, there are things I've felt passionately about.  There are times when, as I drifted off to sleep or drove somewhere, I had something I wanted to share with my devoted readership.  But... obviously, it never happened.  Somewhere between thought and action, things got derailed.

I can't - or perhaps won't is the better word - promise to be or do or blog better in the future.  But I will try.  And right now, that's difficult enough.

Thanks for sticking with me, and for understanding.

26.2.15

Mark your calendars!

Ok, so we missed National Popcorn Day and Valentine's Day, but Pancake Day is right around the corner... (sorry for size of infographic; couldn't make it smaller!)

22.2.15

In lieu of real blogging

50 Questions Meme, copied by Philosophy Mom from wellinghall 

1. What time did you get up this morning?
That's a two-part answer: I was up at 4:57am to feed The Herd, then went back to sleep until 7:11am, when I officially got up to start my day.

2. How do you like your steak?
Rare to medium rare.  Not quite mooing, but I'm a fan of seeing pink.

3. What was the last film you saw at the cinema?
The Imitation Game, part of the Christmas Day doubleheader

4. What is your favorite TV show?
Hmmm.... I've been watching C-SPAN's Q&A and its predecessor BookNotes the longest; I do love Masterpiece but there are some series I just can't get behind so it's not Number One.

5. If you could live anywhere in the world where would it be?
Montreal.  Bien sur.

6. What did you have for breakfast?
Chinese Breakfast tea with milk, and oatmeal with raisins.  Aka "my winter usual"

7. What is your favorite cuisine?
Not sure I have one.  All cuisines have a variation on comfort food, so I'll just say "comfort food" and leave it there.

8. What foods do you dislike?
Pork.  Strong cheese (most blues, Gorgonzola, etc.). Sea urchin.  Eel.

9. Favorite Place to Eat?
I really don't have one, because it depends on where I am and who I'm with.

10. Favorite dressing?
I'll go with my current fave, a cucumber and shallot vinagrette.

11.What kind of vehicle do you drive?
StuTwo (or StuToo, depending on my mood), a Honda Fit.

12. What are your favorite clothes?
For work, right now (in winter), a loose fitting dress, tights and a turtleneck; for home, sweatpants and sweater.  When warmer weather arrives, loose tops/skirts for work and shorts/t-shirts at home.

13. Where would you visit, this weekend, if you had the chance?
See 5 above.

14. Cup 1/2 empty or 1/2 full?
Too small.

15. Where would you want to retire?
Asked and answered in number 5 and 13.

16. Favorite time of day?
When I'm not working, I like the hour or so I'm up between feeding The Herd and falling back asleep; when I am working, the time just before I fall asleep, sipping tea, reading and snuggling with The Herd.

17. Where were you born?
Boston MA

18. What is your favorite sport to watch?
I rarely see sports in person, so, F1 Racing (19 days until Albert Park!),  Most others have too many commercial breaks that stretch the competition out.

19. How many siblings?
One younger sister.

20. Favorite pastime/hobby?
Reading.  Napping.  Snuggling with The Herd.

21. Who are you most curious about their responses to this?
It really doesn't matter, no one else will do this!

22. Bird watcher?
The Herd are, but I don't think that counts.

23. Are you a morning person or a night person?
More of a mid-morning.  I need an hour or so on my own before I'm willing to interact with humans.

24. Do you have any pets?
The Herd.

25. Any new and exciting news you'd like to share?
Um, today Thing One de-iced our deck and stoop? It's only exciting because there's less of a chance of leaks inside when things refreeze tonight.

26. What did you want to be when you were little?
I wanted to own a bookstore.  No, I wasn't the most imaginative child.

27. What is your best childhood memory?
At the moment, I just can't think of one.  Maybe going to a tearoom on Boston Common with my dad, following a swan boat ride?

28. Are you a cat or dog person?
Cat, obviously.

29. Are you married?
Depends who you ask.

30. Always wear your seat belt?
When I'm driving, or in a private car, yes. Ok, most of the time.  I tend to not when driving the 100yds to work (don't ask).  Rarely in a taxi.

31. Been in a car accident?
Yes, but more of a fender-bender as I poked out of a parking space into a car driving above the parking lot speed limit.

32. Any pet peeves?
Don't get me started.  Might become a new post sometime (soon?).

33. Favorite Pizza Toppings?
Mushrooms.  Garlic.  Four cheese.  Not on the same pizza!

34. Favorite Flower?
Lilacs.

35. Favorite ice cream?
Vanilla Swiss Almond.

36. Favorite fast food restaurant?
I'm going to go with Chipotle, but only because it's slightly healthier than the other options.

37. How many times did you fail your driver's test?
Zero.

38. From whom did you get your last email?
My friend/mentor/woman-I-want-to-be-when-I-grow-up Marion.

39. Which store would you choose to max out your credit card?
None right now, but supposing I needed to buy all new furniture it'd be somewhere that sells Shaker style, and if I needed an entirely new wardrobe it'd probably be whatever department store had the best clothes in my size.

40. Do anything spontaneous lately?
What is "spontaneous"?

41. Like your job?
No comment.  That's a fraught question just now.

42. Broccoli?
Yes.  In all forms.

43. What was your favorite vacation?
2007 trip to Edinburgh, but probably because it came just after The Big Fire.

44. Last person you went out to dinner with?
Work friend Claudia.

45. What are you listening to right now?
The idiots asking questions on the E! Red Carpet.

46. What is your favorite color?
Anything in jewel tones.

47. How many tattoos do you have?
Zero.

48. How many people will fill this out?
See above number 21.

49. What time did you finish this quiz?
7:12ish pm.

50. Coffee drinker?
No, tea is my tipple (or, as my favorite mug says, "Coffee is not my cup of tea")

11.1.15

Typo Alert!

I've been meaning to post a whole bunch of stuff but... well... I haven't.  Sue me.

Still, tonight as I'm watching the execrable Golden Globes awards (who is writing this crap?  and hasn't anyone told Bruce Villanch that he hasn't been funny for at least two decades?) I've been getting ready for my visit to the tax guy and doing some digital tidying.  These two photos were taken a few days apart over Winter Break.  Both were at eating establishments, where someone should have known better... one hopes.





31.12.14

2014 Year-end Reading Round-up

A slightly updated post from the one I posted in the Semicolon Year-end Lists,

304 books read - 4 over goal! Not as good as last year, and no real reason except work stress. And now I'm down to 2113 books left to read, but at this pace I might go over (I do plan on living more than another 7-8 years!). So maybe I should stop tracking that? For lists and review links, go here, here, here and here (the totals on the review blog won't match these because I don't add the books I read for professional review).

And here's the 2014 reading analysis (2013 numbers in parens):
  • number of books read in 2013: 304 (325) 
  • best month: tie between March and August/38 (April/29) 
  • worst month: April/9 (October/8) 
  • average read per month: 25.33 (27.08) 
  • adult fiction as percentage of total: 18 (24.92) 
  • children's/YA fiction as percentage of total: 58 (40.6) 
  • Advance Readers Copies:202 (209) 
  • e-books: 0  (2) 
  • books read that were published this year: 233 (226) 
  • books that will be published in the coming year: 25 (20) 
  • five star reviews (aka "Must Read"):  20 (25) 
  • one star reviews (aka "DNF"): 17 (20) 
 In addition, I met the Reading Challenge I set myself, repeating the one from 2012, regarding "oldies" and Mt. Bookpile is at 252 (down from 2013! At this rate, I'll demolish it in another 15 or so years.). Since life seems to be holding steady just now, my goal for 2015 is to read another 300 books and get the mountain below 225. Let's see how that goes, shall we?

Notes from Mt. Bookpile

With a lot of hard work, I made it to my goal - thank you to the Thanksgiving and Winter Break gods!  Lots of YA this quarter, most of which was picked up at the ALAN conference in late November.  As always, you can see what else I've read over on the review blog

Biography/Memoir
Children's/Young Adult

Fiction/Literature
Horror
Mystery
Non-fiction
Science Fiction/Fantasy

2.12.14

Culture Vulturing in 2014

(a post sitting in draft format for quite some time - yes, I am a Lazygal!)

Over a year ago, having moved to NewJob, NewTown and NewState, there was some question of how much culture vulturing could be done - it's plausible that Thing One was more worried than I, but neither of us should have been.  Here's what the past year(ish) has looked like:

Freud's Last Session, produced by a local professional theatre company, was a play highly recommended by Thing Four (yes, folks, there is a Thing Four).  He'd seen it several times in NYC and was thrilled that I'd get a chance to see it.  Being a huge C.S. Lewis fan, it was interesting to see how this imagined conversation unfolds, a meeting of science versus faith.  To be honest, the Lewis character didn't impress me, but watching Ken Tigar as Freud more than made up for it.  Overall, a good way to start our culture vulturing for the year.

Next up was the Jay Geils Jazz & Blues Review in a smallish hall.  I've previously blogged about Bad Behavior during a concert - this was that concert.  The music was good, although having the bandleader constantly reminding us who was whom and the name of the group was a little... disconcerting?  annoying?  unnecessary?  There was no J. Geils Band music played, no Peter Wolf making a surprise appearance, and that was ok.  This was clubland, with a few standards and more original music that sounded familiar and was fun to listen to.

School ending is my cue to start prepping for ALA, this time in unspeakably hot Las Vegas. My Cruise Director, the wonderful Wendy, is a Cirque du Soleil fanatic and suggested Zarkana. I've seen Cirque three times before, all at Battery City Park in a round tent, so seeing them in a traditional theatre was a different experience.  I missed the ribbon dancers, but OMG the sand artist!

Then came summer and our trek to Montreal, in part to see the opening weekend of the International Fireworks Festival - this time, we didn't pay the big loonies to sit in the special seats but found a riverside perch and watched from afar - and in part to see/hear a little of the International Jazz Festival.  We'd missed seeing Rachid Taha and Michel Rivard (still on my To Be Seen List) but got tickets for Coeur de Pirate.  The songs were mostly in English from the Paroles album, the patter in rapid Quebecois with a few exceptions (like Place de la Republique).


What's fascinating is how Monteral handles this festival: an area of downtown, a relatively significant space akin to Lincoln Center and environs, is shut down to vehicular traffic for a few weeks.  Outdoor acts, outdoor dining and outdoor strolling are encouraged; dinner one night was a melange of scotch (sold from a booth, just like any other beverage or food), Belgian waffles, hot dogs and bubble tea.  All purchased from a booth, all eaten al fresco while listening to various jazz and jazz-related groups doing their thing for free in the plaza.  Heaven!

Shortly before school started Thing One, Thing Four and I went to This Is Our Youth, which I'd suggested because 1. it was Steppenwolf (my first job was at Circle Rep, which was transferring a co-production of Balm in Gilead from CRC's theatre to the Minetta Lane) and 2. it was Kieran Culkin, the best actor in the clan (and a former student).  Kieran didn't disappoint, Michael Cera was a bit of a surprise, but the female?  Meh.  And since she's pivotal, it detracted from the production for me.  Thing Four had seen, and loved, the original, and was similarly "meh" about it.

My senior year of high school brought J. Giels' Centerfold and Tom Petty's Refugee into my life... and having seen Jay Giels perform, it was only fitting that my "school's starting" treat was seeing Tom Petty!  The opening act, Steve Winwood, was good, playing only a few songs that others knew, despite a long, distinguished career.  Then Tom and the Pretenders showed up and played a great selection of hits and new music, Refugee among them.  There was even an extended sing-along portion (Thing One did wonder why we'd paid so much to have Petty act as our backup band... but I think he was kidding!). 

That was supposed to be the ending to my Culture Vulturing year but the gods were smiling! On Facebook I noticed that Camille O'Sullivan was doing a three-week residency at Irish Arts (and I know the tech director there) so on a Friday night, with a fever, Thing One and I headed to NYC to see her after seven years.  It was a small theatre, and she needs a slightly larger supper club atmosphere, but she's truly wonderful fun.  Why she never plays the US is completely beyond me!  This year alone I've introduced her song stylings to a few special colleagues and students - and here's a video for you:



So there you have it.  Several months of theatre, music, fireworks and fun.  Who knows what 2015 will bring?

26.11.14

One of life's little moments...



Those of us who have followed Terry over the years know about his art gallery (I've even seen in, albeit years ago before several pieces were added to the Teachout Museum).  What an interesting tweet to read. And then came the follow up, when I sensibly asked what he was before - he responded that he was "The Great Pretender."

There's a lot of literature out there about the Imposter Syndrome, about how people don't feel as though they deserve their position, or the kudos, or whatever it is that makes them feel somehow unworthy of a title or fame.  Don't most of us feel that at one time or another? 

Come on... it's just us here... you can admit it. 

It's a feeling I often have, possibly coupled with those failed fantasies I have.  Somewhere, the "real" Lazygal is living that life, and it's always a shock when I have to remember I am the real Lazygal, that it's the only life going out there.  For me, at least.

But I take his larger point, which is that there is sometimes a moment, or an action, that somehow transcends what you've been doing and makes it more real, or more adult, or more authentic.  For him, it's hanging a painting by an artist.  It could just as easily have been when his first column was published... or his first book... or his first opera was performed. For others it could be the first time they present to a professional organization... or own their own house... or get an assistant.  Obviously it differs for each of us.

Recently I gave up my beloved Stuart, a manual car, to lease StuTwo (or StuToo?), an automatic.  There's Bluetooth and a rearview camera to assist with backing up.  You'd think I've been feeling like an adult for a while now, but for some reason these two features confirmed for me that I really was, in fact, an adult. 

We all have those moment, disconcerting as they may be.  Let's be thankful for them and pause to reflect on how they've created a turning point in our lives.

24.11.14

Failed fantasies

As the end of the calendar year approaches, and as the end of my age year approaches, I've been thinking about my fantasies and how sadly failed they are... maybe I can come up with better ones?

I have this fantasy friend. We get together every few weeks, drinking wine or tea, nibbling on something delicious, sitting in amazingly comfy chairs and we talk. About life, love - all those Big Things like our hopes, our fears. I'm pretty sure those friends exist, because I've seen them on tv and in the movies. But I don't have one of those friends.

I have this fantasy job, where I'm paid what I'm worth to do work that makes me feel great and sends me home at night feeling energized, not ennervated. My superiors appreciate what I'm doing and support my efforts, my colleagues are collaborative and eager to hear about new books and ideas. My job isn't bad, but it's not one of those jobs.

I have this fantasy body, one that's a few inches taller than my current height (current for the past 38 years! I was promised at least 3 more inches, and not the 3 inches the ads say will make my wife happier!) and slender and flexible and not starting to get old. Guess what? I don't have that body.

It's not that I hate my friends, my job or my body. It's that I have these fantasies... unfulfilled fantasies. Maybe I need to stop fantasizing?

31.10.14

Notes from Mt. Bookpile

A month late with this list... barely keeping pace with this year's reading goal. We'll see how things go over the last quarter (pretty sure I can catch up). In the mean time, you know where to find reviews.

Biography/Memoir
Children's/Young Adult
Fiction/Literature
Horror

Humor
Mystery
Non-fiction
Science Fiction/Fantasy