Here are the books I finished from January 1 through June 30 2019. Of particular note is that I just discovered Curtis Sittenfeld and clearly enjoy her work, since I read two of her books this period and am in the middle of a third. And then got to meet her at LitFest, along with some other wonderful authors Helen McDonald, Erika L Sanchez, Melissa Febos, and Ross Gay. Curtis was as lovely as her writing is. But…the highlight of LitFest was meeting my favorite, favorite, favorite essayist Sloane Crosley! She came right up to my table as I was enjoying the pre-panel discussion catering and we chatted for a few minutes. If I lived in NYC, I’d want to be her best friend. She’s just so cool! Continue reading →
I now have a complete manuscript of my debut novel, a contemporary young adult story. Complete, of course, means that I still have another full edit to do over the summer…and then probably another one after I start to query in the fall. My first task is to incorporate the remaining comments I have from the Lighthouse critique group I’ve been going to since October. This group has been invaluable in pointing out legitimate plot holes, helping me understand reader reactions, and getting me unstuck when I couldn’t seem to move forward. I never would have finished without my peers and especially without the facilitator. In addition, some of us branched off into our own writing group, which helps me continue to find motivation through dedicated writing time and having people to bounce ideas off whose opinions I value and who know my story. Continue reading →
Remember my New Year’s Resolution to stop buying things? Well, since I started my resolution on November 26, I’ve reached the halfway point. Hurray! Let’s see how I’ve done.
Here are the forbidden purchases (in no particular order). The original assessment is in italics and the update is in red. Continue reading →
Online dating isn’t for everyone, but it works for me. Words and how someone uses them play a big role in my life. Before I spend time in the real world meeting someone, I want to see how they communicate. I want to see that they are willing to put the energy into a well-written profile. I want to exchange quite a few messages with the person over several days or a week to see what they like to talk about and gauge how interesting they are. I rarely agree to meet someone unless they enthusiastically participate in this process. I’m not saying that makes the date more likely to be successful; I’ve had as much hit or miss as anyone else. It’s just my style.
Upon declaring myself a single person on February 2 this year, I thought all men were gross. The thought of even looking at or talking to a man sickened me. I couldn’t imagine ever getting close to one again. And then, suddenly, I changed my mind. Nothing in particular did it for me. It just happened. Well, almost. I opened a Bumble account and then closed it five minutes later. The next day, I opened a Tinder account and closed it five minutes later. A few days later, I built an OK Cupid profile and then immediately disabled it for a week. And then I reactivated it and actually started talking to people. And just like last time I was single, I realized it was fun. Everyone has a story to tell and I enjoy uncovering those stories and learning about lives that aren’t mine. And, let’s be honest, the attention and flirting helps the healing process. Continue reading →
It’s 7:40. Turn left onto the dead end street and rumble over the pitted lot, stopping the car more or less between two faded lines.
Open the advertisement-plastered doors and enter the arcade from the north. Walk to the south end. Seven people already wait, but not in a line, except for the father and son in their camp chairs to the immediate right of the entrance. 7:43.
Sit on a bench between two of the earlier arrivals. Take out your phone and pretend to have important emails from people who wouldn’t actually be at the office yet.
Put your phone away and take out a book. Don’t actually read it. Watch the others out of the corner of your eye. Why aren’t they in a line? 7:48. Two young women in bright outfits stroll down the arcade and settle in behind you, closer to the entrance where you can’t see them. Listen to their chatter as your heart starts to beat a little faster. Continue reading →
I’m way ahead of the curve in my understanding of some language rules. I took a trip down memory lane last month when this incredibly complex language rule no one knows! became a national obsession for a few days. But I knew it! I was teaching it to my English language learners in Russia 14 years ago thanks to the boring and overly formal Headway textbook series. If only I had thought to write about it on my blog, I could have had my 15 minutes of internet fame.
But some language rules I’ve gone my whole life without knowing about. And I feel a little embarrassed that I’ve only just figured this one out after 15 plus years of calling myself an English language professional. I’ve never known when to keep the silent e when converting words like knowledge to knowledgeable and when to drop it, as in judge to judgment. It turns out the rule is surprisingly simple. Keep the e when dropping it could cause confusion in pronunciation. If we wrote knowledgable, for someone who didn’t know English well, the a right after the g would make the pronunciation now-led-ga-bul entirely plausible. For the most part, this issue exists in words that end in -ce and -ge. Since judgment lacks a vowel after the g, the idea that we might say jud-guh-ment seems ridiculous.
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January through June 2016
Title: Good Christian Bitches
Author: Kim Gaitlin
Date Finished: 1/9
Ranking Out of 10: 3
Notes: I’m so embarrassed that this is the first book on my list this year, although I was reading a few others simultaneously, which you can probably figure from the dates of the next two entries. I don’t know why I read this. Every once in a while, I just need to junk out. These books are my version of celebrity gossip magazines or reality TV. It’s either read something like this or zombie out to Netflix for half a day. I’d rather read because at least then I’m engaging my imagination a bit. Anyways, this book was like the Babysitters Club for adults. Seriously, even the quality and level of writing. But it kept me reading to the end.
Title: Just Like Us
Author: Helen Thorpe
Date Finished: 1/9
Ranking Out of 10: 10
Notes: Let me start this by saying my position on how to treat and deal with illegal immigrants in America is the only issue out of every possible issue in the world that I don’t have a clear opinion on. I can see all sides of the argument and I just don’t know what the best solution is. Also, let me start by saying that when I pick up a book that has a very strong political bias one way or the other, and I didn’t know that in advance, I’m probably going to close it pretty quickly and not pick it up again. So I absolutely love this book because while Ms. Thorpe is clearly on the sympathetic, we-need-to-do-everything-we-can-for-them side, she presents both sides of the argument clearly and without mockery, condescension, or a snide attitude toward the side she isn’t on. Well worth a read (or listen) for anyone who is interested in the human side of the debate. Just the day to reality of what it is like to live without papers (through no conscious decision of your own) and yet be trying your absolutely hardest to make something of yourself. Continue reading →
It’s the Fourth of July in rural Western New York. The family is gathered at the grandparents’ house, the house the mother grew up in, only a mile down the road from their own. Both grandparents are still alive, although the grandfather won’t be much longer. The family doesn’t know this yet, but they are preparing for it. The homestead that had sheltered three bookish children in America’s golden age of microwave ovens and color television and the lingering threat of nuclear war now boasts an upstairs rental unit that bolsters the income the pensioners receive from the tenant-occupied cottage out back and the Social Security checks promised to all Americans of a certain age since 1935. The tenants are transient but the property division is not. It will only increase with time as the front of the large house is sectioned off into an efficiency and more of the expansive yard is bulldozed for parking. The grandparents’ belongings, when he has passed on and she is passed off to the care of a nursing home, will be consolidated into basement and garage, and later just the garage, and then they will be nowhere. But tonight, the children are free to roam around and the garage is still a garage in function, not just name. Continue reading →
I kissed their Kool-Aid mouths, touched lips with Terry, and went out.
Not the hard won fat of a gourmet or the juggernaut body of a truck driver, but the apprehensive fat of people who had decided to become their own airbag systems in a dangerous world.