2014 reads [part 10]

Over the last few days I’ve been doing things in extremes. I ate an entire bag of Teddy Grahams in one sitting, I placed 7 online shopping orders before finishing my morning coffee, and I donated 2 garbage bags full of old clothes to the nearest thrift store on a whim. (Okay.. so those last two mayyyy have been correlated..)

Among my recent binges was Joan Didion’s Play It As It Lays. I started it Saturday night once the kids I was babysitting fell asleep. I planned on reading a few chapters before setting an alarm and having a nap (seriously, is there a better a single job than babysitting?) except a few chapters led to a few more and before I knew it there weren’t any left.

As I fought my drooping eyelids and the tired taste on the back of my tongue (does anyone else get that?), I felt like an 8 year old again — negotiating my lights out time to cram in a few more pages. I still can’t tell if it was the writing itself or the general screwed-up plot that kept me so invested, but regardless I couldn’t put it down so I would deem Didion’s work a success.

Now I know what you’re thinking: how ever will I go on without the anticipation of more compelling chapters?! Well luckily I have some serious online shopping orders to look forward to.

2014 reads [part 9]

I first bought a copy of Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse Five two summers ago for my then-boyfriend. It was part of a mono care package I made him after he contracted the kissing disease within 6 months of my own bout.

The book was, in all honesty, a bit of a toboggan gift – I had every intention of stealing the pocket-sized copy back once he was done to see what Vonnegut was all about. Unfortunately our summer romance ended before he finished the book, and I never did get the chance to read it, so when I saw a practically untouched copy in my favourite used book store, I figured it was about time.

The sad truth (almost as sad as the fact that said boyfriend dumped me via silent treatment) is that it was a bit of a let down. It was kind of like the year I waited until The Curious Case of Benjamin Button had received an unprecedented amount of hype, then critical acclaim, then Academy Award nominations before seeing it myself. It’s dangerous to go into these things expecting a masterpiece. Granted, I left the theatre after Benjamin Button mesmerized by Cate Blanchett’s closing pirouettes, but finished Slaughterhouse Five altogether unmesmerized. (It also took me six weeks to finish, drastically halting my Margaret-Atwood-inspired reading craze of the summer and causing me to fall off the rails a bit with this reading resolution!)

Does anyone have other Vonnegut recommendations that could sway me?

PS: If you’re carefully tracking my bookshelf photo journal (which you undoubtedly are) you’ll see a few glorious vintage murder mysteries thrown in for good measure this month. They were a Christmas gift from a great friend and I’ve decided they still deserve some publicity for being one of my favourite gifts of all time. That means something seeing as I would consider gift-selection one of my top 5 greatest strengths.

Not what it seems

I learned two valuable lessons yesterday:

1. Taking a vacation day on a Wednesday makes the work week far more bearable.

2. Accomplishments don’t always come as expected.

 

A few months ago I got my first print assignment for one of my office’s publications. And while it may have been the result of a mildly intoxicated rant to a higher-up friend at the office’s Summer Social, it still felt like a huge achievement. (Besides, my rant was, I’m sure, as eloquent as my karaoke rendition of Beyonce’s Love on Top later that evening.)

Once I submitted the article and watched the final proofs be shipped off to press back in August, it sunk in that I had accomplished a significant 2014 goal — and one that I had all but conceded as wishful thinking. Since any list-lover lives for the satisfaction of crossing off completed items, it inspired me to review the other goals I had set for 2014.

(Yeah, yeah, big surprise – this all comes back to listing..)

For the last ten years almost all of my goal setting has been golf related, so I decided to throw in a golf goal for good measure. Having played a few events on a local ladies’ golf tour by that point I figured it wasn’t unreasonable to want to win an event before the season was up. But despite a few solid efforts, when the final stop came to a close last Monday so did my chances of crossing this particular item off my list.

Yesterday the Sweeny Cup co-chairs held the tour’s AGM. Before hunkering down to hash out pace of play issues and handicap regulations, we paired up for a fun Chapman’s Scramble. And you’ll never guess whose team won.

As I posed with my lovely 63-year-old partner, Vicki, for a photo with our trophy & prize money (significantly better than the sleeve of ProV’s awarded at every regular tour stop) it hit me that while it wasn’t quite what I’d planned, I had accomplished my Sweeny Cup goal after all.

When I revisit my goals to put a clear check mark next to that one, you can bet I’ll use slightly more .. creative judgement for the rest.

Sunday scheming

Is it just me or is there something empowering about curling up on a Sunday evening with Carrie, Samantha, Charlotte, Miranda & a bottle of nail polish (and/or wine)?

I’ve loved S&TC since long before I ever should have – prompting my mother to hate that I liked it – prompting me to like it more…. vicious cycle.

And while I no longer have HBO or COSMO tv to rely on for a non-stop circuit of reruns, I do have illegal downloads via the internet for nights dedicated to goal setting where a little inspiration from NYC’s finest (fictional) women could come in handy.

I learned a funny thing about advice recently: it is a lot easier to give advice than it is to take it. A few weeks ago I was talking through a big decision with a coworker when I gave her one of my favourite tips: write it down. It wasn’t until I heard the words leaving my mouth that I realized it was the very advice I needed, too.

I happen to think lists are magical and have the power to solve the majority of our daily problems, but beyond this supernatural ability I also know that I’m a visual learner. I had been spending weeks trying to figure out what comes next in my own life, juggling a thousand ideas at a time – but unlike every other aspect of my life – neglecting to write them down.

I’ve since created three diagrams on the inside of my bedroom wardrobe that plot different life paths and plans. In some ways this visual plotting has slowed me down as each of three concepts manifest into many more choices, but it has also highlighted the common threads between the big picture ideas. Not surprisingly, having even the faintest clue of what the next step might look like has given me a whole lot more inspiration in my goal setting.

Carrie Bradshaw’s walk-in closet gave me an extra boost, too.