Taking a Break

I kinda, sorta broke up with Facebook yesterday. I have a feeling it’s the same kind of breakup I had with my now husband when we were in college. I broke up with him for 8 hours. It was excruciating. 

But this breakup is probably for the best, and so far has lasted longer than 8 hours. 

I have still have an account. I still exist on the platform. I use Facebook at work and need a way to post and log in, so I’m not deleting my account. For right now, I deleted it off my phone and replaced that icon space with a game I really like, so when my thumb gravitates to that spot out of habit, it opens an addicting game instead of the social media app that’s lately made me feel like crap. 

There are all sorts of studies about how social media can impact self esteem. And lately, because of other external factors, I’ve been feeling kind of low. So this is an experiment to see if my lack of daily FB checking brightens my spirits. 

I’m on Instagram and Twitter still, so let’s be friends! And if you know me IRL, my number hasn’t changed since I signed up for Cingular in college. 

Friday Reads

I am so excited for the weekend because my to-be read pile is growing, and since I’ve checked all of these titles out from various libraries and I’m fastidious about turning them back in on time (no renewals allowed on any of the titles I’ve checked out!), I have a lot of pages to read.

First up: Housekeeping, by Marilynne Robinson. I’ve never read anything by this greatly esteemed author, but I’ve heard from lots of people that she’s a favorite author of theirs, and this book fits the bill for one of my reading challenge categories: published in the year I was born.

Second: The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl. I’ve never read a comic book from cover to cover, so I’m excited to branch out and read this, especially since it was recommended on my favorite podcast, Pop Culture Happy Hour.

Third: The Wang’s vs. The World. I’m a huge fan of Chinese immigrant and Chinese-American stories (side note: did you know Kevin Kwan’s next book, Rich People Problems, is coming out this May?!? I’m so excited!!) and this is a comedic take on a rich Chinese-American family’s downfall during the recession.

Fourth: Exit West. This new novel is getting rave reviews and I’m very interested in the timely subject matter in light of Trump’s latest travel ban. The NYT calls it “a dystopian parable about the current refugee crisis.” Anyone else want to read it for a virtual book club?

Happy Friday!

 

Goodbye, Giant Hunk of Metal

We said goodbye to our Toyota 4Runner this week. My husband was in a car accident and thankfully he’s fine, but the air bags deployed and the front bumper was destroyed, which made a car that old, with that many miles not worthy of saving.

I know it’s ridiculous to feel emotional about a car, but I do. We brought Future Husband home in that car. I remember it vividly: it was about 9 o’clock at night and super cold. I sat in the back with the baby and warned my husband to go slow. I was so tired, anxious about taking a jaundiced baby home. I was wearing the same thing on the way home that I wore on the way to the hospital.

We had plans to give Future President this car when he turned 16. “Where’s Daddy’s car?” the baby now asks whenever we pull into the driveway at home. “It’s broken. It’s gone. It’s getting smashed.”

The car dealership let us keep the car overnight when we were debating whether to buy it. So we drove up one of the canyons out of Salt Lake City to see how it did climbing a mountain. It was powerful, so much more powerful than the Ford Explorer we had used to move across country, a car that literally died five miles from our final destination. So we bought the powerful SUV, with dreams of someday pulling a water ski boat behind us, dreams of camping trips and packing it full with kids’ gear like bikes and skis.

My husband and I drove to D.C. in a car packed to the ceiling with our meager belongings as we set out for law school and work on the Hill; we drove back across country three years later to Seattle for more school; a year later, we drove to Salt Lake City for a new job; and three years later, we packed up a giant U-Haul and the 4Runner to go “home” to the Pacific Northwest. Here’s to more adventures in a car that gets better gas mileage than that red beast.

Books & Podcast Recommendations for the Easily Distracted Parent

In the six years since I first became a parent, I’ve discovered that my attention span is exactly the length of two Paw Patrol episodes. But due to a recent surgery, a broken wrist and seven (yes, count them: SEVEN) weeks of suffering through various head colds and the flu, I found a newly redeveloped talent: the ability to sit still and pay attention to printed words. However, I realize that not every parent has the luxury of sitting on their couch for hours on end, so the following recommendations can be enjoyed in snippets, too!

Books:

Act Like It When I received the iBooks email with the phrase “free books” in it, I didn’t know I was going down a rabbit hole of romance novels, but this book is well-written and a good read, which I discovered after two shout-outs, one on Book Riot and one on my favorite podcast, Pop Culture Happy Hour. After reading this, I’ve read a lot of BAD romance novels and I’ll tell you, this one is rare: good, an interesting plot with real-life characters. Trust me.

Dumplin’ If you enjoyed Rainbow Rowell’s Eleanor & Park, you will like this book. It’s YA fiction at its best: it doesn’t insult your intelligence and portrays teenage characters in a realistic way.

Hag-Seed Totally and completely different than the previous two recommendations, this is a highly entertaining book by Margaret Atwood. It’s her reinterpretation of The Tempest and you don’t have to remember the original (or even have read) to enjoy it.

We Live in Water I don’t usually enjoy short story collections, but this one by Jess Walter is so, so good. The first story is probably my favorite – it’s gut-punching, magnificent writing and the PWN is lucky to have such a talented writer.

And if you’re not in the mood for books right now, here are a few podcasts I’ve been enjoying lately:

Podcasts:

Crimetown Go behind the scenes of organized crime in Providence, Rhode Island, with this fascinating look at a larger-than-life mayor and the mob. After each episode, you’ll marvel that this is a true story.

Missing Richard Simmons I didn’t even know Richard Simmons was missing, but that doesn’t matter. Why did he disappear? Why haven’t his closest friends heard from him? And will the mystery be solved by the end of the season? I need answers. NOW.

Farewell, Baby Maker

I’m on the other side of one of the hardest medical decisions I’ve ever had to make, and yet as I snuggled with my two kids and husband in the early morning hours, I surprised myself by how content I felt with my family of four. 

I’ve struggled with endometriosis as long as I’ve had a period, but was not diagnosed until I was 18. I still remember that first pelvic exam and the giant speculum the doctor held up for me to see. That’s huge! I marveled. She laughed and then showed me the one used on women who’d already given birth. Oh. 

Surgery #1 was quite successful, as was the second. But the pain kept coming back and when I told my current doctor how much medicine I was taking to control the pain, she said it was time to find a better solution. More shots, different birth control, or a hysterectomy. 

As much as it pained me to go with the hysterectomy, it was the right decision. I didn’t have a party, celebrating the end of periods and hopefully the end of pain. In fact, I cried as I said goodbye to my husband as they wheeled me away to the operating room. I cried because I was nervous. I cried because my baby making days are officially over. 

But it was my choice. I made the decision. No one chose for me. As a woman, this takes pro-choice to a whole new personal level. I made the choice. Just me. 

In the operating room, before the anesthesia took me away to dreamland, my doctor admired my pink cast. I chose pink, I said, because while I couldn’t go to the women’s march and wear a pussy hat, I got a pussy cast instead. Everyone in the room – the two doctors, the nurse anesthetist, the nurse and tech – they were all women. 

You’re my pussy posse! I said. They laughed and said that’s right! And then I drifted off to dreamland. 

The 2017 Reading Challenge Begins

My friend C challenged her Twitter followers to a 50-book reading challenge, and I jumped on board, hoping it gives me the motivation to read outside my usual favorite genres. So far I’ve been successful, but that’s likely because my only appointment television this year has been two reality shows that air on the same night. The reading challenge includes books in categories like a graphic novel, a book you’ve started but never finished, and a book set in your hometown. Let me know if you want to join us!

Here are my January reads so far:

Empty Mansions I’m reading this as an ebook from the library and really need this in print for the pictures. It’s a non-fiction tale about a reclusive heiress who spent the last 20 years of her life in a hospital despite being well enough to live in one of her many palatial mansions. Fascinating! 

Hungry Heart This is the memoir of one of my favorite authors, Jennifer Weiner, and it’s about her life as a mom, an author, and as a “big girl”. It’s lovely and she has an incredible reading voice. 

Vinegar Girl This is my first pick of the modern Shakespeare retellings from beloved authors. Based on Taming of the Shrew, I only sort of liked this book, but I admit the original version is troubling so she could only do so much with the characters. 

The Woman Who Stole My Life I love the Irish author Marian Keyes and this book is yet another good read with complexly crafted female characters. It’s not new, but it was new to me. If you’ve never read her, it’s time to start! 

On the Positive Side

I am trying to be a mature, grateful adult even while staying home with the kids for the fourth snow/ice day in a row, the fourth day of school that was cancelled right after a federal holiday, on the third day of living with a splint and sling. 

I am mostly succeeding, thanks to the world’s most patient husband, a 5-year old who can actually make his own meals when needed, and the kindness of friends who make food, buy coffee and food, and provide their children for my own kids’ afternoon entertainment. 

I am also learning about my limitations: I cannot use a can opener, open the tiny Tupperware box where I store my meds, or do my hair at all. In fact, I am very close to cutting it all off and if my beloved hair stylist agrees, the next time you see me, I might have short hair. 

But! I’m surviving! I discovered these super comfy bralettes from Soma, that while making my boobs into a uni-boob, I can put on myself. P’s kids floss is easy to use one handed. And with enough pillows all around me, I’ve figured out how to sleep mostly through the night. 

Thanks to everyone who has sent their love, advice, and food. ❤️