Yesterday marked 7 weeks of living in Minneapolis. It still doesn't feel real. I don't know that it will until I find a full-time job and move into my own place, both of which will hopefully happen soon. There has been a lot to enjoy about living here, even as I desperately miss my friends in San Francisco, especially when they text me pictures of themselves eating my favorite spring rolls or talk about how we should have watched the Gilmore Girls together. It's bittersweet.
What mixed emotions I have about November. In truth, it's been a hard month but not because I'm figuring out a new city. I am grieving the results of the election. It has been hard not to give into despair but I have to believe- we all must believe- love will trump hate. I'm going to make sure of it.
Read and Reading
The fact that I gave All The Ugly And Wonderful Things (Greenwood) 5 stars is all due to the author. It is exceedingly well-written, deft and nuanced, but the empathetic portrayal of a situation that is at first glance unconscionable is what took it to the next level. Wavy is 8 and Kellen a decade or more older when they first meet. They are drawn to one another from the start and while Kellen is aware of how the situation could look from the outside, he is more aware of how Wavy and her brother Donal have no one looking after them. When her mom is in a drug-induced haze, Kellen goes to the parent-teacher conferences and brings groceries. It is a needed and valued role for him to play. Greenwood illustrates the long-ranging effects of child abuse and neglect. When your parents both scar and fail you, you don't know how to relate to other people in a healthy way. Kellen and Wavy were both traumatized by their parents and in some ways, it makes perfect sense that they would recognize a kindred spirit in each other. And yet there's no denying a romantic relationship between them is wrong, especially when Wavy is young. Kellen recognizes this but he also doesn't ultimately rebuff Wavy's advances. This propels the plot along and I had no idea what would happen next or how I should feel about any of it. Part of me was rooting for Kellen and Wavy to find a way to be together once Wavy was older, if indeed she still felt the same way by that point. The other part of me recognized this relationship would never have happened if any of the adults in Wavy's life had intervened at some point, whether it was her parents actually taking an active, healthy role or a teacher speaking up or her aunt and uncle stepping in. Wavy was failed time and again and it is no wonder she developed feelings for the one person who was always there for her. This would be perfect book club fodder.
As an Outlander fan, The Winter Sea (Kearsley) was a fascinating precursor to the Jacobite Uprising Gabaldon depicts. I learned so much about the exiled King James, who, from my limited understanding, seemed like he would have been a great king, much better than his great-great-grandson Bonnie Prince Charlie. This is my favorite kind of novel- interweaving a present-day storyline with a historical one- and I loved how Kearsley twisted it by playing with genetic memory, a concept I wasn't familiar with but which took the story in entirely interesting directions. Throw in the love stories between Sophia and John and Carrie and Graham and I was quite the happy camper. I also loved that Carrie was a novelist and that we got to see how her manuscripts come together.
I finally finished The Complete Enneagram. Chestnut has her own spin on the Enneagram. I particularly liked how she lists the key beliefs and assumptions for each type and the way she laid out practical applications. She offers one of the most thorough explanations of the instinctual subtypes (self-preservation, social, sexual) that I've come across and while that particular part of the theory has yet to resonate with me, a ton of friends were able to identify their specific type because of this. I had a huge personal breakthrough while reading the chapter on Fours, which should warrant 5 stars in itself. However, I find her explanation of arrows to be confusing and even misleading and would point people toward Riso and Hudson's explanation in The Wisdom of the Enneagram instead. I also didn't like the insets on each type's Greek archetype, though I can see why others will appreciate it. Overall, a solid resource.
Elements of Chemistry was another winner from Penny Reid! Kaitlyn and Martin were such complex, delightful characters and I loved every part of their story. I laughed out loud and I teared up. And per usual with a Reid romance, I learned a lot, everything from chemistry to sidekicks. The character growth was spot on. I particularly loved how Kaitlyn learned to stop hiding and start figuring out what she really wanted in life.
Big Magic (Gilbert) is a great addition to the creativity canon. The chapters were short and easy to read but also packed a lot worth mulling over. It's not so much that Gilbert presented new information but that she presented it with her unique perspective and passion for creativity. I especially appreciated the chapters that addressed the idea that art must be painful and angsty, as well as how she uses curiosity in her art.
I read all 4 books in the Stage Dive series by Kylie Scott. They're all about 250 pages or less so they were a breeze to read and pure enjoyment. New Adult is a hit or miss genre for me but whether it's my love for bad boy rock stars or my appreciation for feisty heroines, Scott makes it work. They made me laugh out loud and a couple made me tear up. Lead (book 3) was my favorite. It had fantastic character growth (be still my heart, Jimmy!) and it made me laugh and cry. The banter was perfect and I loved watching Lena and Jimmy fall for each other.
Currently reading: The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness (Alexander), Always A Bridesmaid (For Hire) (Glantz), The Art Of Happiness (Dalai Lama), A Mind Of Winter (poetry), The Association Of Small Bombs (Mahajan)
(I read 34 books this month.)
I'll say this about the Gilmore Girls revival:
1. Overall I really enjoyed it! It was like getting together with old friends.
2. Amy Sherman-Palladino better be working on new scripts and have actors locked down in contracts or so help me God.
3. I didn't know it was possible to like Rory even less than I already did.
Listen to the What I'm Into playlist.
As a former hospice social worker, I was all about The Town That Loves Death on Planet Money. They profile a hospital with the lowest healthcare spending of any region in the country due to its regular conversations about advance directives. I've heard a lot about this place over the years, especially when everyone was debating the so-called death panels and I'm so glad their methods have proven true. I hope it leads to more organizations talking regularly about last wishes and hosting honest conversations about dying.
Smartest Person in the Room launched its faith series and it is seriously so good. I haven't stopped thinking about Judaism as a Cultural Identity.
- Addie and I had lunch at French Meadow Cafe, which is becoming a favorite place to eat.
- This was my 4th year participating in #OneDayHH and it was fun as always. One of the best parts was ending my evening at Kelly's house. Just hanging out in her kitchen like I do.
- Erika Morrison was in town and after years of internet friendship, we finally got to meet! She is such a delight. We had dinner outside on the patio at Hola Arepa and talked a mile a minute and it was perfect.
- My old friend from youth group Katie was in town for work. We hadn't seen each other since at least college but we picked up right where we left off. It was so fun to hear what all she's been up to.
- Kelly and I had lunch at Pizza Luce where I had an incredible Muffuletta sandwich. Is it ever going to get old that we can just hang out whenever we want now?
- This month involved a lot of petsitting: Sammy, Hermione, Foxy, and Abby were good pals. The dogs took me on lots of walks. And now I'm hanging out with Gus the Cat, who is trying to sit in my lap as I type this.
- Annie and I have been watching This Is Us together most weeks. I love sharing a show with a friend.
- I celebrated Thanksgiving the night before at Annie's house and it was so much fun. Her neighbor shared stories from days gone by and there might have been a little singing by the end of the night. Plus: turkey!
- Addie and I watched the last two episodes of Gilmore Girls together while eating loaded french fries and drinking The Rory cocktail she mixed up. I'm so glad we could process all of our feelings together.
- I survived my first snow in Minnesota. I have not missed this.
In the Blogosphere:
You can find the best of what I've been reading at Storify.
(If you want to follow me on Instagram, my user name is leighkramer.)
On The Blog:
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What I'm Into Link Up Guidelines:
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What have you been into this month?
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