Mallahide Castle, Dublin
When your month kicks off with a trip to Ireland, you know it's going to be an interesting ride. The past few months I had a good feeling about June (#TheMonthOfLeigh) and overall, it's been a great, if unexpected month. I had an amazing time in Ireland, I started and withdrew from the MLIS program, and I chased down some job leads. In the meantime, I focused on the best part of living in the Twin Cities: my community. I keep telling people: "my life is weird but I like it." This is why.
Read and Reading
Emotional Agility: Get Unstuck, Embrace Change, and Thrive in Work and Life (David) absolutely blew me away. It's about how we can best navigate life's ups and downs. Emotionally agile people are able to adapt to whatever life throws at them and stay true to their values, as well as grow stronger and healthier. It's a wonderful blend of story, research, and practical advice. David really gets into our motivations and the habits that trip us up and how small changes can change everything. Some of the concepts were empowering, others confirmed what I've already been doing. If you like Brene Brown or you know your Enneagram type, this book is completely up your alley.Even if you aren't into Brene or the Enneagram, you should still read this book. It's truly helpful and clarifying. Highly recommended.
I cannot believe how much I loved 180 Seconds (Park)! Allison was in foster care for the first 16 years of her life before she was adopted by a single gay man. Four years have passed and she's in college now but she still doesn't trust people easily or sometimes at all. She goes to class and otherwise stays put in her room, unsure of how to respond to people's overtures. Then one social experiment changes everything- and I do mean everything. As she and Esben stare into each other's eyes for 180 seconds, they experience a connection that's real and true and unexpected. There were some wonderful insights about foster care, social media, and how scary it can be to open yourself up to the idea of being loved. Such a moving story, especially the way Allison is transformed as she begins to trust the people in her life and the way Esben's social experiments factor into their lives. Speaking of which, where do I find a real life version of Esben? I haven't read this author before but I'm officially hooked. (Disclosure: I won a copy of this through a Goodreads giveaway but opinion is my own.)
The Whole Way Home (Creech) is an insider's look at life in Nashville and the country music scene. The story enveloped me, thanks to the rich prose, and made me miss living there even more. (Loved the cameos of some of my favorite places!) The juxtaposition of radio commentary, the careers of two established performers, and one up and coming band made for fascinating reading. I don't like country music but I loved the music scene in Nashville and the depiction rang true to me. Jo is a fierce character and I appreciated how hard she had to work to get where she was, especially as she figures out what concessions she'll need to make in order to keep her career. I loved the flashbacks to Jo and JD's hometown, as we see what brought them together and what drove them apart. Similarly, I really enjoyed Denver and Alan's perspective, particularly how race is a factor in making it in country music. The book raises great questions about identity, how the past defines our present and future, and whether we can ever really go home again. This would be great for book clubs. Read it with a glass of sweet tea by your side and be prepared to be swept away.
A Court Of Wings And Ruin (ACOTAR #3) was so satisfying to read! Such an amazing continuation of the series. Feyre, Rhysand, and company go through quite a lot to defend their land from Hybern but the plot developments made sense and always moved the story forward toward the inevitable conflict. Feyre's character growth was incredible. Feyre and Rhysand's relationship continued to make me swoon- the way Maas built it from the ground up in book 1 continues to amaze me. Nesta was a force to reckon with and I hope we'll get her point of a view as the series continues. I fiercely love Cassian, Azriel, and Mor and I'm curious to see how Maas will continue their stories as well. The sacrifices they each made in this book were incredible. The Night Court's bond just made me so happy, even when they were taking risk after risk. My heart was in my throat for at least half of this novel because Maas does not mess around and there were a few moments where I truly despaired for my favorite characters but there was the right amount of magic and redemption to bring it all home.
Currently reading: The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness (Alexander), The Art Of Happiness (Dalai Lama), Write Naked: A Bestseller's Secrets to Writing Romance and Navigating the Path to Success (Probst), Milk And Honey (Kaur), Strange The Dreamer (Taylor), Fast Connection (Erickson and Hassell)
Listen to the What I'm Into playlist.
The Popcast aired its 200th episode! Congrats, Knox and Jamie.
Code Switch's What To Make Of Philando Castile's Death, One Year Later is a must-listen.
Reply All's Friends and Blasphemers freaked me out about the intersection of LiveJournal and Russia. If you ever used that platform, you might want to pay attention.
Invisibilia came back and I loved everything about their new season/concept album, except it was too short.
- DUBLIN. I'm not going to go into every little thing I did during the trip but suffice it to say it was truly magical. I went to Ireland in 2006 and only spent a day and a half in Dublin so it was wonderful to come back and explore more of the city. There were so many places I didn't get to, which only means this is a country I'll have to return to again and again. As if I needed an excuse!
- Karen Huber and I have been blog friends for a few years and it was an absolute treat to finally meet her in person. She picked me up from the airport and took me straight to Mallahide Castle (picture at the top) where we had breakfast at the cafe and then explored the grounds. A beautiful place and a cuppa tea meant I was completely at home.
- We went to the Yeats exhibit at the National Library and then the National Museum- Archaeology, where I was quite impressed with the Viking display and the part with the preserved remains found in the bogs. (It sounds crazy and it is but also awesome.) We stopped at a couple bookstores, then drove through Phoenix Park, and ended the day with the best burger of my life at Bunsen. Karen was an amazing hostess. It was such a good day!
- Day 2: Chris, Micha, and Ace arrived- the reason for the trip! Such a great reunion with my dear friends. We had an amazing Irish breakfast at Hatch & Sons. Then we did a little shopping and spent some time basking in the sun at Trinity College.
- We perused the art at the National Gallery- my favorite pieces in the European exhibit were William Leech's The Sunshade, Paul Signac's The Terrace, Saint-Tropez, and Lyonel Feininger's Umpferstedt III.
- We went to Merrion Square Park, which was beautiful and which boasts the Oscar Wilde Memorial. I loved the quote sculptures and Wilde's statue. So cool!
- We went to The Oarsman for dinner where we each ordered a pint and fish and chips. I'm not a seafood lover at all but I cannot get enough of fish and chips. Loved the ambiance of this restaurant- the staff was super friendly!
- Day 3: Micha, Ace, and I had a leisurely morning, then lunch at Bunsen, a little shopping, and then a different exhibit at the National Gallery.
- We decided to see if there was a line for the Book of Kells exhibit- and there wasn't! The exhibit was really well done but the best part was getting to go through The Long Room afterward. I was like a kid in a candy shop! It's a beautiful library and I wished so badly I could take out some of the books in those stacks. I could have wandered around, taking it all in, for hours.
- After walking back to our Airbnb in the rain, we were ready to relax. Chris brought home pizza from Paulie's and my Greek pizza was AMAZING. We capped off the night by watching Hasan Minhaj's comedy special Homecoming King and it lived up to the hype. So good!
Look at that clotted cream.
- Day 4: we enjoyed the Floral Afternoon Tea at the Shelbourne Hotel. Truly, it was the stuff of dreams. The food- tea sandwiches, scones, and dessert- and presentation was amazing. I loved both kinds of tea I tried. It was a lovely splurge and I'm so glad we did it!
- Next we headed to Dublin Castle and explored the grounds. Then we enjoyed specialty whiskey sours- rhubarb for me- at the Jameson Distillery, which has greatly expanded since the last time I was there. On our way back, we stopped by Christ Cathedral Church, which was gorgeous. For dinner, we went back to the Oarsmen for another round of fish and chips and a pint. It was the perfect way to end my trip!
- I was super sad to say goodbye to my friends, especially once my flight home was canceled after a 4 1/2 hour delay. I did not love that at all. But I did love how my fellow travelers bonded over the experience and helped one another out. The airline staff on the ground did their best and were so gracious in the midst of a frustrating situation. My hotel room was cozy that night and my flights the next day were smooth sailing.
- Skyping with my brother, sister-in-law, and the kids. Technology never ceases to blow my mind. If I can't be with my favorite kiddos, at least we get to see each other through a screen.
- Hanging out with Annie and Foxy. I've got to soak it up before they move away!
- Seth Crocker was in town for dinner and staying with Addie so I headed over there for dinner. The kebabs were delicious! The view was incredible! (I told Addie and Andrew not to be surprised if they come home sometime and I'm just hanging out in their backyard.) Best of all, it was fun getting to know Seth in person.
- Catching up with Molly at Peace Coffee
- A fresh haircut from Amy at Rue 48 Salon. I feel like myself again!
- The iced tea at Urban Bean Coffee
- Dinner with Kristin and Karin at Bonfire Restaurant. I hadn't seen Kristin since we graduated from high school but it was like time never passed. Kristin lives in England now and I'm trying to figure out how soon I can go visit. I'm so grateful for reconnecting with these friends!
- I found some great shirts for work and a purse that was perfect for traipsing through Dublin from thredUP. I cannot get over the deals they have!
- Phone calls with my friends Kibibi and Laura and my cousin Adam.
- Hanging out with Haley and Becca, which inevitably led to me getting out my Enneagram cards. I will never stop geeking out over the Enneagram!
- After hearing various podcasts mention ThirdLove for months and needing to get new bras, I decided to give it a try. I've been wearing their bra for about a week and I have to say I'm a total convert. With ThirdLove, you can wear the bra for a month and if it's not right, you can send it back at no charge. (They donate the used bras.) Plus, they have half sizes, which is revolutionizing my life. I'm pretty sure I found a keeper.
- Helping Kristin figure out her Enneagram type. It was great getting to see her one more time before she headed back to England.
- Bahn Mi Pizza. Life-changing I tell you!
- This afternoon I'm headed to Chicago for a weekend with my best friends. I can't wait!
In the Blogosphere:
You can find the best of what I've been reading at Storify.
From the cobblestones to the Royal Chapel, I could not stop swooning over Dublin Castle. The history this place has witnessed for centuries! Be still my heart. #leighabroad
(If you want to follow me on Instagram, my user name is leighkramer.)
On The Blog:
I shared why I decided not to get a second Masters degree after all in Changing Course.
On the Leigh Kramer FB page, we shared which Harry Potter house we're in, as inspired by the 20th anniversary UK cover for the first book in the series; the things we don't like that everyone else loves (liberating!), and talked about our inability to stop requesting library books no matter how much else we have to read.
(The best way to see updates in your newsfeed is by liking and commenting on my posts regularly.)
What I'm Into Link Up Guidelines:
1. Today’s link-up will stay open for one week. The next What I'm Into link up will be Tuesday August 1.
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What have you been into this month?
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