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Friday, June 28, 2013

Book of the Week: The Ocean at the End of the Lane

“Monsters come in all shapes and sizes, Some of them are things people are scared of. Some of them are things that look like things people used to be scared of a long time ago. Sometimes monsters are things people should be scared of, but they aren't.”

I never know how to start writing about the books I truly love - the ones that infiltrate the corners of my mind and stay there for days, weeks, months after I've finished them.

I can try to tell you what The Ocean at the End of the Lane is least, I can tell you what it made me think about. This is a book about childhood, memory and loss. How would we live, if we knew what was lurking behind the thin veneer of reality? Would we make different choices if we understood the sacrifices that had been made on our behalf? Is it really easier to forget, to not know these things, than it is to walk through the world with the weight of them on our backs?

This is one of those novels where upon finishing it, I immediately had to start it over again because the ending made me see the beginning in a whole new light. It is poignant and heartbreaking, and fantastically eerie in the way only a Neil Gaiman book can be. There were times when I felt like I was reading a very dark Studio Ghibli film, and I mean that in the best possible way. Plus kittens. KITTENS NEIL REALLY?? Come on.

Anyway. That's all I'll say for now. Read this book.

I'm going to start trying to do this book of the week thing. Is it even a thing? is now. I'm making it one. Even if I'm not actually able to finish a book a week (highly likely) I've read a lot of books in my life so I have some serious catching up to do. Book of the Week may be a book I'm currently reading or a book I just finished, or it might be something I read years ago. Whatever strikes my fancy. We'll see where this goes.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Bus Stop Miracles

I've slowly come to realize that probably 85% of my ability to function as an adult human is dependent on the sheer kindness of the people around me who do not steal my crap when I leave it lying around everywhere.

Generally, I am an extremely thorough person. On any project I'm working on, I will make sure absolutely every scenario is covered, no stone is left unturned and all details are accounted for. But at the same time, I have a tendency toward extreme flakiness that just refuses to be defeated. Forget my mat at the yoga studio for 3 consecutive weeks? Sure. Leave my car keys in a coffee shop (but remember everything else I am carrying)? Why the heck not. Abandon my driver's license at a random table in the airport? You bet. Each and every one of these things has been returned to me, and I have given up on trying to explain how or why this happens.

It's never going to change. Trust me. And don't even tell me I am being defeatist because there is a big, big difference between being defeatist and being realistic about who I am. I will always love reading more than big parties. I will always be able to memorize a piece of music after singing it two to three times, and I will always forget whatever I am carrying the second I put it down.

My parents are not convinced of this. They really and truly believe that if I develop the right 'system' I'll never forget anything again. Nope. False. I'll just forget the system. For example, getting into my office requires an access badge. If this badge is not in my purse when I leave my house in the morning, I will forget it, guaranteed. In order to make sure this doesn't happen, I take off my badge and put it in my purse every day as I'm leaving the building. The further I get from my desk still wearing the badge, the more dramatically my chances of remembering it in the morning decrease. The system works probably 80% of the time, but without it I'd be batting 200. So no, it's not perfect, but in most circles a 4X improvement is nothing to sniff at. I'll never get to 100%. No system on this earth is ever going to make this happen. Ever. ....Ever. Just deal with it.

During grad school, I took the bus to campus every day and most of the time, I managed to get off the bus with the same amount of stuff I was carrying when I got on the bus (OK aside from one umbrella. Possibly two umbrellas). It was a minor miracle.


One day, during the spring of my first year, I got off the bus, walked into the building and immediately realized that my purse, which I had definitely been carrying when I left my apartment, was no longer on my person. First, I panicked. Then I immediately called metro transit (thankfully my phone had been in my jacket pocket and not in my purse) and spent probably 20-30 minutes being transferred from department to department, trying to contact someone who could tell me whether my purse was still on the bus. Finally, they got ahold of the driver and discovered that nope, my purse was not on the bus.

This is my friend Lindsey and me, probably 3 years ago. Pictured on the table is the offending purse
I cannot even describe what an idiot I felt like at that moment. I had let my attention wander for one second, and now I was completely hosed. I had no money to buy lunch. I had no way of getting home because my cash and my bus pass were in my wallet, and even if I had been able to get home I didn't have keys to get in the building, or car keys to drive anywhere else. I also knew I needed to call the bank and cancel my credit card and debit card, but all the information I needed in order to do so was...inside my locked apartment. Delightful.

Just as I had resigned myself to failure and an afternoon spent on the phone with the bank/at the DMV, I decided to check Facebook for some unknown reason. (kidding, I know exactly what the reason is. Facebook is addicting). I had one new message in my inbox. It was someone I had never met - a medical resident at the University Fairview hospital who wanted to let me know she'd found my purse. I had left it not on the bus like I thought, but at the BUS STOP IN UPTOWN, which is kind of even worse??!?

Not only had this lovely person found my purse before some shady person happened across it, but she also happened to be going to roughly the same destination (the U), AND she was an Ole. We hadn't known each other well but we had a number of mutual friends. Of all the bus stops in all the world, etc.

Don't get me wrong - I have lost things. See the aforementioned umbrellas, my favorite scarf from college (left on an elevator in NYC), my yoga mat strap (left at the studio and I'm pretty sure this one was an accident since it is the same damn black lululemon strap that everyone and their mom has), and I'm sure more that I can't remember. But thankfully, nothing too important (yet).

Anyway. All this to say, it can be hard to find that balance between believing in the essential goodness of people with the reality of the appalling things that we are capable of doing to each other, stealing purses being among the more minor offenders. Beautiful strangers have saved my ass too many times to count. All I can do is keep trying to pay it forward.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Happy GoT Finale Weekend!!!

Game of Thrones season finale is tomorrow!  Plus it's almost Father's day, so Ben and I decided to pay tribute to the greatest dad of all time - Tywin Lannister!  Happy Father's day, you big teddy bear you.

Lannister Family BBQ

World's best dad? Bitch I might be

Silently judging his kids' art projects like a boss

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

What's happening in Istanbul - spread the word

As many of you know, I spent January 2011 in Istanbul Turkey as part of my masters program. Just yesterday, I learned of the events that have transpired in that city over the last week or so.

During the last week of May, a group came together to protest the razing of one of Istanbul's last green spaces. What began quitely and peacefully quickly escalated into violence as police turned up with tear gas, rubber bullets and water cannons.

My friends and I stayed near Taksim and walked through that square every day. It's hard to picture such terrible things happening in a place that still feels close to my heart. Turkish authorities have been actively trying to stop the word from spreading, and even Western media sites seem reluctant to comment on or reveal the full extent of police brutality involved. Below are some links to blogs and photos from Taksim Square - PLEASE read and help spread the word. Just as a heads up, some of the photos in the first link are pretty graphic.

With friends near Taksim Square, eating spiced stuffed mussels

Chatting with students at Bosphorus University
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