Category Archives: Books

Silver Linings

I would be lying to say this week has not been a challenge. Monday was the worst–my roommate’s case of the flu was confirmed (poor thing) and I’ve been  staying at a friend’s house, one of my podcast co-hosts, D1. This was so I could sleep (our townhome’s walls are quite thin) and so I would not be infected.

My anxiety about getting the flu got so dastardly, I went to our health clinic to get a flu test done. I don’t have the flu. Yay! But, in my hasty celebration, I shove my wallet in my pocket. A couple hours later, when I cannot find it, I realize it’s gone–as in lost permanently.

No, this is not as bad as one of my favorite podcaster’s stories where he loses his bag which contains his passport, iPad, laptop, 3DS, and all his possessions in a crowded Tokyo train station at rush hour. No, it’s definitely not as as bad as that. And while that does make me feel better, it’s still problematic. I cancel all my cards, and realize that pretty much everything in there is replaceable, and keep going with my week.

The first silver lining to this whole debacle is that I start talking to D1’s new girl friend, R, on the phone while I was over at his house, and mildy tipsy on Tequila. She’s one of the sweetest, smartest people I’ve met in a long time. D1 is gaga, and who can blame him, honestly? Do you remember the last time you talked on the phone with a gal pal of yours for an hour and felt totally comfortable? I don’t. That may be because that’s never happened to me before, ever. I hope we can meet in person soon.

Another silver lining, unrelated to the flu and wallet thing, is that I pulled a 245 5×5 deadlift, followed by 275 for a triple. 275 is a PR, and considering I got it for three feels almost surreal. I was so focused on getting that weight, that I didn’t notice until I got home that it was my first time getting that, ever. But, I got it for three. Incredible. Couple of my PL guys put some great tweaks in my form and approach, and I think at this point, this lift is going to skyrocket.

Needless to say I’m sore. And I’m tired. Had an interesting talk last night with H. We really discussed some valuable things, and I think our relationship is only going to improve. While that cloud darkened the horizon of my mind for a while, the fact that we are enjoying the sun right now speaks to the potential longevity of our relationship. We’re going to start up our little tiny Book Club again, and I’ve picked the selection. My Risk, Policy, and Law class assigned the first two chapters of Against the Gods: The Remarkable Story of Risk, which sounds extremely dry, but I LOVED it.

Probably the best silver lining of all this week was that my faith in humanity was restored. Someone turned my wallet into the police station, and I got EVERYTHING back yesterday. It was in front of a building I never walk in front of. The world will never know on that one.

Last, but not least, here’s some great reading that’s been keeping me going this week:

“Why Don’t I Look Like Her? A Guide to Stop Comparing” I’m pretty bad about this, but I’m beginning to love my body for how I’ve improved and look. This was a pretty helpful read. I might have goals for my physique, but I’m starting to learn to love the process.

“Taking Care of Yourself When You Feel Like Shutting Down” This got me through Monday. Self care is paramount, and no amount of self flagellation will return a wallet to you.

“Get Your Hair Wet Activity” I love this idea! I really want to do it. It’s kind of like a love letter to yourself almost. Here’s from the site:

“A creative way to catalog all the upcoming adventures you’ll have is to keep them safe and tidy in a decorated mason jar. Each time you get out of your comfort zone or try something new, write it down on a strip of paper place it inside your jar. You can even color-code your memories — red for a time you spoke up, blue for a time you faced your fears, purple for learning a new skill — you get the idea! At the end of the year you can empty out the memories and bask it all the ways you got your hair wet and feel proud to be you.

I love that proud to be me part. I am learning how to be, slowly.

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Filed under Adventures, Books, bro, Friends, H, Health, Likes, School, Workout

Changes

It has gotten a little mad around here, I’ve gotten a busy, and now remembered that I had this great blog outlet for my writing.

I got a new job recently, one that I enjoy immensely. I work at the Target deli where mostly, what I do is slice meat and cheese. In addition to slicing deli fare, I also make items in the cold case such as sandwiches, wraps, salads, and other miscellaneous pre-made food. Then, there is also the deep friers to contend with.

Customer interaction is rather minimized with this job. Don’t get me wrong, deli can get lines. In fact, at one point, we had about four people in line today to get something sliced. However, that’s about the extent of a line in the deli. Compared to Chick-fil-A, where a line could stretch through the lobby if not out the front door.

Due to my deli position, I’ve gotten creative with food again. I’ve really missed engineering tasty new things for me to eat. I’m being inspired to recreate the recipes from my job at my home with good results. Although, the other day I did make a Chick-fil-A inspired sandwich–Spicy deluxe with pepperjack cheese–and thought it was probably a vast improvement on the original.

Another change that has happened recently is more in regard to my mental health. I have included more spiritual mindfulness stemming from meditiation and healthy introspection. I got ideas for these things from reading the Deepak Chopra book Reinventing the Body, Resurrecting the Soul: How to Create a New You. While some things in this book seem kind of absurd (you mean we can think all of our illness away?! 2012: I seriously hope you all don’t do this), I think there is some legitimacy about how much control our minds have over our body. This falls perfectly in sync with weightlifting, regardless of what H says about Chopra. Yes, I know he gets a bit “oogity boogity” about the mind and spirituality, but I think we don’t give this kind of thinking enough credit.

I’m pleased I’m going down this meditative road. Things seem to be falling into place more without anxiety. I’ve discerned through talking to my counselor and close companions that my anxiety is merely just a symptom of me trying to punish myself for some malady that I have “done” in my head. Whether this is a mess-up at work or just not scoring high enough in school, my anxiety the way I sadistically keep myself in check.

But through a new found calmness, my contentment can be self generated and not dependent upon external circumstances. Slowly but surely, it is becoming progressively more okay just to be myself.

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Books

A main aspect of my existence as an English major are, of course, books. The acquisition of new books, however, is problematic.

During the school year, I don’t have a lot of time for fun reading–doesn’t stop me from having at least two books I’m starting on at a time though–and therefore multitude of collected books on the ever present “to read” list piles up.

Added a few new babies to that collection yesterday at our University’s Friends of the Library Booksale. Patrons can donate books and the library goes through their collection and pulls out-of-date or old materials for selling.

Some golden finds were the entire VHS collection of “Upstairs, Downstairs,” which I’ve been dying to see for ages, a few Norton Anthologies (sadly, I already have all of the ones I needed although I might go back to purchase any of the modern ones…books on half.com don’t sell themselves!), and a John Updike novel that I almost purchased because we just finished studying him.

However, I feel happy with my selections:

A combination of work and pleasure...

Longman Anthology of World Literature by Women: I am quite excited about this, I’m sure that this will get a lot of use. I frequently choose female authors for my various research grants, breaks up the monotony of the “dead white guys” club.

Angus, Thongs, and Full-Frontal Snogging: This came out in 2001. I read half of it whenever I was in the 6th or 7th grade and my mom freaked out and turned it in to the library. It is pretty raunchy for young adult literature, but I think more than ten years separation is enough time. I always wanted to read the sequels too, so here’s my silly-lit for the summer.

A Short History of Literary Criticism: A lot of used book places don’t have a lot of literary criticism books. I have one on my Kindle and the one I used for my Lit Crit class. Best class I’ve ever had as an undergraduate.

Understanding Clinical Nutrition: I’ve been looking for a reliable nutrition source for ages and this textbook came out in 2006. I think the current students at my school are only using the 2009-2010 edition now, so it isn’t really that out of date. As someone who lifts, I want to know why the body works and what could make mine work better.

Of course, these books are in addition to this:

Summer reading....shelf.

I should not add any more books to my ever growing reading list. But I do anyway. I love my paper friends.

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Filed under American Literature, Books, British Literature, English, Purchases, School

Introduction and Some Ramblings on Books, Of Course

This entry is merely to make sure I have some content before I begin the rest of my blogging adventure in my English 2653 and 4910 classes.

I’ve been wanting to start a blog and maintain it, which is the kicker, for some time now. After a few futile attempts, I think probably the best course of action is precisely what is occurring now: I am doing it for a grade. Because I’m doing it for a grade, I’m going to be contemplative, thorough, and write much better than if I was just doing it for myself.

Although, in reality, no one blogs merely for “themselves”. There’s always that undercurrent of “I hope someone out there, even if it is my mom, reads this.” If there wasn’t that desire, people would just make private blogs. Or write on actual paper and decide not post the personal and private details of the innermost thoughts on a medium that people could stalk you through.

That being said, this really isn’t a “Bio” type entry, merely a semi-mission statement of why I’m starting this blog and what I hope it transitions into. I’m sure that in Blog Writing and New Media, I will have to do the standard backstory type entry, but I feel right now that this is neither the time nor place.

Although, for a small forray into my personal life, I will post one of my new goals for this new year. I plan to be constantly reading at least one extra-curricular book at a time. Right now, I think I’m actively reading (defining “actively reading” as “I have picked this book up in the last week to read it”, because sometimes I’m a book quitter) three, not counting The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn for American Lit II. Goodreads.com is actually helping me maintain a much more active reading life, which is thrilling. It’s a good site, especially since it takes a load off of mind of trying to keep track of the books I am reading or like to read.

Current reads:

The Magicians by Lev Grossman
I picked this up probably at least two summers ago. It’s been so long since I bought it, that Borders actually wasn’t on the threat of financial collapse. Basically a grown-up amalgamation of a Hogwarts and Chronicles of Narnia setting, it follows the protagonist Quentin, who learns there is a lot more physics and cynicism in magic than he could have possibly anticipated. Written in a dry, wry style reminiscent of Chuck Palahniuk, Grossman is able to captivate my attention, hold it, then punch it in the face with his dark view of society at large. Actually, I think it was that death punch that knocked my first attempt at reading this out of the water. There’s this weird Part II break, that follows Quentin and his friends around NYC being “grown up” magicians who are squatters in people’s houses and do a lot of hard recreational drugs. It got pretty depressing. I think, however, that due to my new love for these more cyncial themes and growing up in general, I can make another attempt and actually finish it, since it has been taunting me from my bookshelf for at least two years.

The Sirens of Titan by Kurt Vonnegut
This was a reccomendation of the way to make baby-steps into Vonnegut by a very dear person to me, so I thought I would give it a whirl. I’m still not very far in yet, perhaps chapter three, where we are receiving a lot of backstory of the history of Malachi Constant, but I loved the beginning section of the book, talking about the meaning of life and other universal truths. Probably this review on the cover best demonstrates how I feel towards it and gives a good starting point for the novel as a whole: “His best book . . . He dares not only ask the ultimate question about the meaning of life, but to answer it.”  I hadn’t realized that I was already familiar with one Vonnegut story which I saw as an adaptation into a really bad one-act play performed my high school drama society when I was a Freshman under a different name. Whenever I got bored at my Nana’s house this Christmas, I pawed through her wall-to-floor bookshelves in my mother’s old bedroom. This search yielded fruitful, for I found a literature textbook that my uncle used in college. I was able to read some authors I’ve never heard of before, but “Harrison Bergeron” was anthologized within it, so I thought giving Vonnegut a go was a good idea.

The Egypt Game by Zelpha Keatley Snyder
This was a “hey, it’s Christmas break, so let’s do fun reading” book that I never finished. I’ve read this book so many times, but it never gets old. Yes, it has pictures. Yes, it’s a tiny paperback book written on fifth grade reading level. But, it’s one of those stories that you just constantly return to because they inspired you somewhere along your walk of life. I used to want to find friends to play the Egypt Game with. I used Melanie and April’s system for making paper dolls and stories. I found that I loved mythology through this book. In regards to the plot, The Egypt Game is about a group of kids who break into the back yard of a zany antique dealer and play-pretend that they are in the days of Egyptian pharaohs. It was written in an older era, possibly the late 1970s or 1980s, when kids were still allowed to be kids. Snyder tried writing a sequel called The Gypsy Game, which is set up from the end of this book, but The Egypt Game is one of those books that doesn’t need a sequel. Just like the ever-increasing amount of sequels that don’t need to happen  (Mission Impossible 5, Madagascar 3, Final Destination, anyone?), I like leaving these characters where they are and imagining what happens to them in the end.

I can’t think of a better way to sign out, so I’ll just leave it at that.

–a.b.

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