Winter reading list, continued

One True Thing



I checked this out after reading an AQ quote on the Glitter and Glue cover, thinking it would be good to read some of her fiction.

Hmmph. 

This book.  It is captivating-I read it in a few days after work-but I don’t know.  I grew up with AQ’s columns in Newsweek and LOCPOC is on my top ten list of books that stayed, but I’d never read her fiction.  It’s tough when you do not like the narrator and I did NOT like the narrator.  The wrenching premise is a challenge, and I had a difficult time with it as is, let alone following it from the narrator’s perspective. 

Quindlen wrote the book in the early 90s, and the fact that death with dignity remains a controversial struggle made me think.

Weeks after finishing the book, I’m still moved by this passage:

“the lesson (my mother) left is that it is possible to love and care for a man and still have at your core a strength so great you never even needed to put it on display.”

Still mulling on that, like so much of AQ’s gems of wisdom.  Tomorrow: thoughts on Lean In…

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Winter reading list 

Writing from the plane back from DC, and I realized, hello, it’s spring! Want to take a moment to reflect on my winter reading list.  Pleasure reading took a two month hiatus during the bar, but when I picked back up at the beginning of March, I read some gems.  First up:

 Glitter and Glue, Kelly Corrigan

After my first year of law school, I remember picking up The Middle Place at the library and becoming totally attached to Greenie, Kelly and the hilarious Irish, Baltimore/Philadelphia Corrigan family. In this book, Kelly writes about her relationship with her mother, the family glue.  Her reflections are set against the backdrop of a post-college summer when Corrigan nannied for an Australian family that recently lost their mother. I read it in Hawaii and cried a lot-on the plane, at the condo, on the beach.  Corrigan just strikes a chord, and her honest memories of her youth and her mother are hilarious and moving.  
I love this quote; it captures growing up and beginning to understand everything your mother experiences on behalf of her family every day:
And it occurs to me that maybe the reason my mother was so exhausted all the time wasn’t because she was doing so much but because she was feeling so much.”
I read a WaPo review by a writer who just couldn’t understand what’s so special about writing about sweet family moments.  Didn’t Anna Quindlen and Anne Lammott already saturate that market-do we need more saccharine stories?, she wrote.  It made my blood boil. 
Corrigan is honest, sharp, and I’m so grateful someone with her writing talent is able to capture the sweet and challenging nuances of family relationships.
In a few weeks, she’s reading at Notes and Wordshere in Downtown Oakland.  The tickets are pricey, but it’s a fundraiser for CHO, so I want to try to make it work. In other thoughts-writing book reviews is tough to do with library books! I’m racking my brain for a beautiful quote from Mrs. Corrigan (whose name I also can’t remember) on her thoughts on San Francisco. I love the library, but this is a moment where I do wish I had the real thing.  Anyway, thumbs up to Glitter and Glue.  More books tomorrow :)

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Monday night at the Symphony

Do you like classical music?



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I think I do-especially when stressed and driving.  Saturday, my wonderful colleague Georgia emailed saying she had an extra ticket to the London Philharmonic at Davies Symphony Hall and would I like to go? Absolutely!

It was so thoughtful of her and I was excited to see a new place in San Francisco.  After a great Italian dinner in Hayes Valley-when the waiter asked, “and will you be attending the Symphony tonight,” it was so fun to say, “Yes!” as if short rib gnocchi and international performances are my Monday routine-we walked over to the Davies Hall.  As we settled into our seats, I briefly thought-hmmm…I know nothing about classical music. What if this is actually terribly boring?

Far from it-the performance was unbelievable. The performers had an electric energy.  Michael Tilson Thomas, the conductor, seemed like a humble leader, and Yuju Wang, the pianist, had an incredibly commanding presence.  They were a joy to watch together.  Despite my limited classical music background, I recognized the beautiful Gershwin set, thanks to years of re-watching An American in Paris at my grandparents.  

Listening to three hours of classical music was simultaneously energizing and relaxing. It was a total treat and Monday night escape.  Looking forward to the week ahead! 

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Hello, 30!

Happy Monday! Today is my first day in my thirties :)

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 As someone who wore Talbots sweater sets in middle school and was one of the earliest, and likely youngest, subscribers to Oprah, I’ve always been an old soul. In fact, 30 feels quite young.  This whole new decade isn’t necessarily scary, but it is significant.  I’ve found myself thinking about lessons I started to learn in my 20s that I hope I’ll remember and keep learning into my 30s and beyond. Here’s a few things that make more sense to me now than they did a decade ago: 

Give up on bad books 

Can’t begin to think how many months I’ve wasted, trying to muddle through a book because I hated the thought of giving up. A few years ago, thanks to rekindling my love of the library, I gave myself permission to give up on books I just wasn’t that into.  This is such a minor thing, but I read so much more now that I freely move on from lousy books.

Trust that everyone is doing the best they can 

It’s  really easy to get get disappointed and frustrated by people-in real life, in politics, the world.  I’ve relaxed a lot more in recent years by reminding myself that at every moment, most people are just trying to get through the day, doing the best they can at that moment.  I guess it’s a bit optimistic, but sometimes that rose-colored glasses thing really works! 

Keep valuing experiences over things

I know, this is so obvious now, but I didn’t really get it until my twenties.  David and I are both extremely uncool, our apartment is tiny, and our clothes are simple.  However, in our twenties, we’ve been lucky enough to travel and enjoyed incredible experiences. In the future, particularly if we’re fortunate enough to have kids, we’ll face serious guilt over things we’ll need to buy, a bigger home, etc.  There’ll be merit to some of that, but in general, I hope we’ll maintain our current priorities well into the future. 

Be satisfied, but keep growing 

So much of the last decade was about jumping from one moment to another: graduate college, get into law school, get a job, pass the bar, stop commuting, move to California.  Some of these (looking at you, California bar) I’m still working on.  I noticed it’s easy to fall into the mindset of always looking for the next thing (i.e. ughh-if only I didn’t have this commute from Baltimore to DC-life would be just right). On the other hand, if there’s not something to strive for, no new challenge, I fall into a rut, and start to tune out curiosity and creativity.  Not really sure what the solution is, but it’s taken years to realize these two conflicting, and yet equally harmful, mentalities.  Hoping that being aware of the delicate balance of remaining satisfied yet seeking new challenges will help keep things in check in the future. 

Nothing beats dinner at home, with family and friends 

Nothing novel here, but just want to remember that at this stage in life, there’s nothing better than dinner at home with family or friends.  Maybe it’s because our first special Thanksgivings together, I often think of cooking, gathering and being at home, when I think of my relationship with David.  Or maybe it’s because I’m just a total homebody, and finally discovered a word that sums up my favorite sentiment.  Either way, no matter what’s going on, it’s beyond comforting being home (and really-anyone’s home-mine, family, friends), with special people, good wine :), and food.  

Just a few random thoughts to close out the first day of 30 :)

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Goodnight, 20s

Tomorrow is my first day as a thirtysomething! Actually, 30 feels pretty normal.  I have more thoughts on the whole turning-30-thing, but for now, just want to remember some highlights from my last weekend in my 20s.  This weekend was filled with some of my favorite things, like:

Chardonnay, fire pits and friends:

On Friday night, I took the train along the water for dinner with friends.  Julie and Terry were staying at their parents house for the weekend, and their family kindly had David and me over for dinner.  What a phenomenal dinner! It was delicious-grilled shrimp, asparagus, and Shamrock ravioli. Julie’s parents are wine experts and the chardonnay was incredible.  It was so nice to sit in front of the fire, sipping on yummy wine and laughing with friends.  A very happy start to the weekend!

Sunshine and the beach:

Knowing it would be a warm weekend, David and I planned spend Saturday at Half Moon Bay. We picked up sandwiches downtown, and spent the afternoon watching the spectacular waves.  After a rainy weekend in Maui, we ended up having our best beach day in 2015 an hour from our apartment.  The wildflowers were out, the sun was bright, the water was sparkly–it was laughably picturesque.  There was even a lemonade stand.  Driving away, we agreed we had to return soon-it was such a quick drive but such a gorgeous getaway.

Indian food! + Friends + Moscow Mules

After the beach, we met up with friends for Indian food in Mountain View. After lamenting the lack of good Indian restaurants in Rockridge to pretty much anyone who would listen, the Hualgars recommended a place in Mountain View. This place-http://amber-india.com/mountainview-was exactly what we’ve been looking for! After striking out so many times in Oakland, it was exciting to finally find a restaurant with our favorite food. Sitting at the table, with a crisp Moscow Mule, a table full of simmering dishes, surrounded by some of my favorite friends, I felt pretty excited and grateful to turn 30.

Sleeping and reading:

This is so boring, but I spent this morning sleeping-in and reading and it was heaven.  It’s such a simple pleasure, but I want to write it down to remind myself how happy it makes me. One of the best feelings is getting into a book and not getting out of bed because you’re so wrapped up–and to have the luxury of a weekend to keep reading.  I’m incredibly grateful for the time to indulge in reading this morning.

Steak and Malbec:

To wrap up the birthday weekend, David made a special birthday dinner.  This is cheesy, and I’ll probably cringe reading it later, but it was just really nice and I want to remember it. He made a delicious rib-eye with a mushroom-rosemary-wine sauce, with french fries and my favorite kale caesar. It was funny, we didn’t make any major plans for the weekend long in advance, but it ended up being full of my favorite things. As an adult, especially since I just had a wedding, I feel kind of silly getting too excited about my birthday, but this was actually a very special weekend. Tomorrow is Monday-and 30-so time to go to sleep, thankful for the good people and memories of the last few days of 29.

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