Ba-ba-da-bum! A What I'm Into post? For reals? It's true, everybody. My hiatus of using my brain to remember stuff is over (we can do hard things). I don't entirely recall why I haven't done a What I'm Into post since July of last year (heretofore known as Here & Now because if NPR can do it, well, obviously). So if this is a little long or lame, I apologize.
And now I will attempt to all you all about everything without boring you to tears. Ready? Okay.
Sadly, as my freelance work has increased in the last few months, my reading for fun has slowed down considerably. But I have picked up a few good books of late, according to my Goodreads feed.
First, I finally caught up with The Girl on the Train last autumn, and I have to say... Meh. For those who haven't read it (just me, then?), this suburban-murder mystery centers on the most unreliable of narrators: a heartbroken alcoholic trying to piece together her fragmented memories of a terrible crime with what very little she knows to be true about her herself and the one person she loves. Rachel makes every terrible decision possible to keep this novel from having any sort of happy ending, but you still root for her. You hope she'll make good choices, you hope she'll respect herself enough not to lie to and subsequently sleep with the husband of a missing person (to whom she is fatefully tied), and you hope she'll realise what you suddenly find yourself realising nearly halfway through the book. I did appreciate the nuance author Paula Hawkins tried to give the female characters sharing narration duties, but even then: wanting the book to end a certain way was more about who you (the reader) disliked least... not totally different than the US election. So while I wanted to love it - and in truth, it was well-written and kept my attention - I just didn't.
I also picked up Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger (who wrote The Time Traveler's Wife). This is another book which kept my rapt attention, but which I closed at the end feeling a bit let down and more than a little bit disturbed. "Mirror" twin sisters inherit the flat of their long-lost "aunt," becoming infatuation with the somewhat strange men occupying the flats above and below, and entranced by the life and death they feel around them. I love how Niffenegger writes and appreciated the winter diversion, while still feeling remains of the story to be a bit shallow. Still, there is one minor love story which resolves into a lovely conclusion.
Station Eleven and Columbine round out the books I've recently finished. I loved Station Eleven, finding the story of post-apocalyptic North America to be devastating and redemptive. Columbine was recommended by Laura Tremaine (the Hollywood Housewife) for true crime junkies (or those of us who were obsessed with the Titanic and Anne Frank as pre-teens). I remember so clearly when it happened, being just 20 years old myself, and now that I'm raising a (newly) teenager, I could not put it down. Dave Cullen did a remarkable job researching, reporting and dispelling many of the myths that have long outlasted the front-page-news-worthiness.
Related: am I the only person who skips to the acknowledgments first thing and maybe cries a little? And when he writes on the last line of his notes - "When a journalist stopped by: I was that journalist" - WEEP.
Meanwhile, on my nightstand: On Writing (Stephen King), All the Light We Cannot See (Anthony Doerr) and Out of Sorts (Sarah Bessey). Let's be friends on Goodreads.
Christmas was an uncharacteristic season of movie going for our crew, including: Star Wars: The Force Awakens (I have so many strong feelings - all positive - about this movie that I had an immediate intense need to phone my dad); Sisters (with my sister, Jessica, who was in town for a week in January); Mockingjay Part Two and The Peanuts Movie (with each of my boys before the New Year).
We also love love loved Super 8 (on Netflix) - I cannot recommend it enough for young-teen boys and their parents.
Shows we're digging right now: Brooklyn Nine-Nine (so, so funny), Great Canal Journeys (elderly married couple take one last journey together before the wife grows more ill with Alzheimers), The X-Files (I don't even know), and The Late Show with Stephen Colbert (literally the only way I'm staying sane right now with all this awful US presidential race news).
NPR One app, Sorta Awesome Podcast, Pop Culture Happy Hour, too much political news, and a lot of Spotify (including new-ish Audrey Assad).
- A mild winter.
- Work. Writing work. Which, as it turns out, is hard work.
- Visas. The date we were afraid of for three years has come and gone and we are still legally resident and welcome in Ireland. I can't even tell you what a gift this is. We are overwhelmed, re-energized, and at peace.
- Weddings. Our Irish brother got married in January, and my American sister came to celebrate with us, and it was simply the best. If you've never been to an Irish wedding, I highly recommend it.
- 13 year old boys. I became the mother to a teenager this month. My firstborn, my heart. He's taller than me and sweeter than ever and I don't remember life at all without him.
- The Clue app. For women only.
- Our quasi-monthly-ish home group.
- 49 Seriously Good Blogs for Christian Egalitarians (and this marriage resource list from Sarah Bessey)
- Summer with my mother and Matt's parents, autumn with my dad and stepmom, Christmas with my tribe, Dingle in the sun.
- The relative speed, yet somehow still slightly inefficient Irish general election.
- Running. I never ever thought I'd every really be a runner, and full disclosure - I'm a very new, very amateur, very short-stretches-of-time runner - but it's been really good for my mental and physical health.
- The Lent Project from Biola University Center for Christianity, Culture and the Arts.
- Black bean burritos (a must-have for meat-free lenten dinners).
- Kids on trampolines (thanks to the grandparents for this last, great Christmas gift).
- Seeing my name in a book of Irish short stories.
- Not having the flu.
Here's just a few of my favourites at Vital:
Comforting Your Child’s Worried Heart
The Value of Women in the Workplace
Happy Kids Learn More
How Preventative Heart Health Saved My Dad’s Life
15 Scriptures for Valentine's Day
Search Engines and the Modern Mind
Teens and Young Adults in the Age of Interactive Porn
THE PEACE OF WILD THINGS
When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.
― Wendell Berry, The Selected Poems of Wendell Berry