September has been a month of high highs and low lows. Korea feels like a million years away and I miss it more than I could have possibly anticipated. September has felt both impossibly long and incredibly short and I’ve vacillated wildly between feeling overwhelmed with all there is to do and feeling unable to do anything at all. We’re settling in more and more every day, but it still doesn’t quite feel normal.
As usual, I’m linking up with Leigh Kramer to share what I’ve been into this month.
What I’m Reading:
Guys. The library. That thing is amazing.
Days of Blood and Starlight by Lanie Taylor. This is the second book in the Daughter of Smoke and Bone Trilogy. These books are intense. And fascinating. I’m completely sold on this YA fantasy trilogy about love and war and revenge and what it means to dream the world new.
Selfish Shallow and Self-Absorbed: Sixteen Writers on Their Decision Not to Have Kids by Megan Daum. This was the book that earned me some alarmed looks from the librarian. It’s hard to give an overall impression of this book because there are 16 separate essays written by 16 individuals. Some of the essays I really appreciated and resonated with. Some I didn’t like at all. One thing that was interesting to me was that the vast majority of the writers were not people who had never wanted to have children. Most of them were people whose interest in reproduction waned over time, who became busy with other things, who didn’t have a willing partner, or who were otherwise unable. In some ways it was more a book about being content with not having children than it was about coming to the decision not to have them. Regardless, I found many of the perspectives in this book interesting and I certainly resonated with some of them (though not all).
The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman. I actually listened to this as an audiobook and I think the audiobook is the way to go on this one. It’s read by the author who not only has a fantastic dramatic voice, but he does all of the voices and accents of the characters which brings this strange, fantastical story to life.
We Were Liars by E. Lockhart. This book tells the story of Cadence Sinclair Eastman, a member of the distinguished Sinclair family whose greatest ambition is to be sure to always appear as if everything is perfect. Every year Cadie and her cousins spend the summer on their grandfather’s island. The call themselves “The Liars” and they are inseparable. Until Summer Fifteen when a mysterious accident leaves Cadie with chronic headaches and a gaping hole in her memory. This is a very quick read that’s become pretty popular, but to me it was only OK. (I listened to this as an audiobook on my way back and forth to Raleigh).
The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery . I finally read this book which has been on my To Read list for ages! This is entirely thanks to the generosity of my reader, Duncan, who sent me his copy in the mail so I would have no more excuses. This is a tiny little book that is packed with meaning. It’s one of those rare books that children will enjoy for the basic story line and adorable illustrations while adults will pick up on the underlying commentary about life, human nature, and the differences between childhood and adulthood.
Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert (author of Eat, Pray Love). I just finished this today so it only just made it into September books. I’d love to do a full review of this book because I thought some of Gilbert’s ideas were so important. If you are a creator of some sort, I think this book has value for you. If you are the type of person who is bothered by someone speaking about creativity and inspiration is divine and mystical terms, than this book might irritate you. This book explores the paradoxes of the creative life – that creating art is vital to our humanity, and also completely inessential to human existence. That we should commit ourselves seriously to our creative work, and we should always remember that life and death do not hinge on what we do creatively. Most of all, it reminds the reader of why a creative life is a worthwhile life even if you never receive any kind of recognition for your work.
What I’m Watching:
The onslaught of fall shows is about to hit, but lately Jonathan and I have been sticking to Frasier re-runs, I’ve made it to season 3 of my Gossip Girl re-watch and picked up The Good Wife again. We watched the movie Stardust together one date night (cause I’m on a bit of a Neil Gaiman kick) but I don’t think we saw any new releases. We did watch the first two episodes of How to Get Away With Murder earlier this week and I’m absolutely hooked. Can’t wait to get caught up!
What I’m Listening To:
Elizabeth Gilbert’s “Magic Lessons” podcast which is a sort of companion to her book Big Magic (though it works perfectly well on its own). For the podcast, Gilbert wanted to put a very practical spin on some of the things she wrote about in her book so she speaks with 5 creators (two writers, a musician, a painter, and a photographer who wants to be a podcast maker) who are feeling stuck in their creative lives for one reason or another. In one episode she will talk to that person about what’s holding them back and give them some advice and in the next episode she will call another (famous) friend of hers to discuss the case with them and get their input. She speaks to Cheryl Strayed, Ann Patchett, and Rob Bell, among others.
If you only listen to one episode of this whole podcast, listen to the last one (Episode 12) which is just a conversation between Gilbert and Brene Brown (author of Daring Greatly which I reviewed here and her new book Rising Strong).
What I’m Eating:
I know September was a little early for this, but ALL THE PUMPKIN THINGS!!!! Pumpkin spice lattes and pumpkin cake with cinnamon cream cheese icing and pumpkin ravioli and pumpkin butter. I also made this very fall-themed spiced apple pork chop recipe last week and it was delicious. Now if only the weather would get on board with this whole fall thing.
What I’m Writing:
I picked up a freelance job for the website Modernize this month. I’ve got an 8-week assignment with them for now writing various articles about home decor. This isn’t my usual genre but I’m enjoying doing something different (and being paid for it!) If you want to check out some of my articles you can click on the links below. My ongoing assignments are dependent on the number of views my articles bring in so I would greatly appreciate your clicking over, even just for a skim.
Blogging has been a little sporadic, but I’ve kept up with my 52 Weeks of Adventure with weeks 36, 37, 38, and 39. I wrote about my reverse culture shock and about chronic homesickness. And I wrote about my new appreciation for the Lord’s Prayer and what it means to ask for Daily Bread when provision feels scarce.
What I’ve Been Up To:
Josh and Laura and baby Genevieve, our good friends from Korea, drove through town one afternoon on their way North Carolina to visit some family. They stopped by our place for an hour or so in the middle of their drive which was wonderful and also pretty surreal. It’s always odd to see people you know from one specific context in a completely different one.
We also had the chance to see our friends Sarah and Kyle (also friends from Korea) who were visiting Kyle’s parents who actually live in Columbia (small world!) but I completely forgot to take a picture with them.
I have been loving having our cats back. I used to hate cats before we got ours so I am sympathetic to those of you who are just not cat people, but our cats really are the best cats in the world (not that I’m biased). They are so cuddly and sweet and gentle and soft, even if they are a little obnoxiously needy and oblivious to the fact that I don’t actually want them to shove their little heads under my hands for petting while I’m in the middle of typing.
We have (fingers crossed!) found a new place to live. Nothing’s signed yet so I don’t want to say too much about it, but things are looking hopeful! If all goes as planned we will move at the beginning of November. The new place is smaller than the current one, but is a duplex so it feels more like being in a regular house which is fun.
My beautiful bestie, Christina, got married this past weekend which meant I spent more than half of last week in Raleigh for all of the wedding festivities. It was the most beautiful wedding of life.
I continue to spend a lot of my time looking for work and while I don’t have a full-time job, I’ve managed to stay very busy lately substitute teaching at a local private school, working on a few freelance writing pieces, and tutoring 4 -5 times/week. It’s not consistent and it’s not quite enough income, but I actually really enjoy having a schedule that varies from day to day and if I could scrape together enough hours doing all of these different things I think I could be happy doing that.
What have you been into this month? What am I missing out on?