The view from the de Young Museum observation tower
March is ending and I feel like I can breathe again. When you work for a church, the month before Easter equals a lot of work and stress but now Holy Week has come and gone and it went off without any major catastrophes. When I wasn't working, I was playing. In many ways, this was the best month yet.
Read and Reading
A little birdie passed along the ARC of Tell Me Three Things (out April 5) and I will be forever grateful. Buxbaum perfectly captures the angst of being a teenage, albeit self-aware, girl, while also offering a nuanced depiction of Jessie's grief over the death of her mom, which is complicated when her dad ups and marries a woman he met online. Jessie's grieving and then starting a brand-new life in California right as she starts junior year. Then she receives an anonymous email from someone offering to help her navigate her new school and a wonderful depiction of friendship and potential romance evolves. While I was pretty sure I knew who SN was, Buxbaum made me second guess myself up until the very end but oh how happy I was with the ending. Moving in places but also filled with wit. I could see myself rereading this every so often, which is the highest praise I can give a novel.
While there were parts of The Twelve that confused me, I was fascinated by Cronin's decisions in moving the story forward and building toward its ultimate conclusion in the forthcoming City of God. He is a master storyteller and my confusion didn't detract from enjoying the ways the plot twisted and turned. The character development was top notch as always.
It should be no surprise Shonda Rhimes knows how to keep her audience entertained, whether on screen or the page. Year of Yes was a thoroughly enjoyable book and then the last chapter came and blew me away. I could not relate to much of the journey Rhimes went over the course of a year+ but I recognized parts of myself, as well as friends' experiences. Her transformation is well worth celebrating.
I loved how The Many Lives of John Stone (Buckley-Archer) unfolded and the glimpse it gave us into the Sun King's reign. John Stone's experience of immortality is somewhat different from other novels exploring this territory and I liked learning more about his origin story and how it impacted his life and relationships, leading up to the present. The way it ended makes me think there could be a sequel- so much more about his life to explore, plus see what our heroine does next.
Spiritual Friendship: Finding Love in the Church as a Celibate Gay Christian (Hill) gave me so much good food for thought. While specifically for those who are LGBT and celibate (Side B), Hill's insights about friendship and community are important for all of us. When I consider my ideal single life, community plays a huge role. As such, the last chapter was the most valuable in clarifying what friendship can and should look like. Very helpful resource for anyone interested in the role of friendship or to better understand Side B LGBT Christians.
Also highly enjoyable reads this month: A Fatal Grace (book 2 of the Inspector Gamache series- I'm officially hooked), The Art Forger (Shapiro), Coming Clean by my pal Seth Haines, which was masterful.
Currently reading: The Complete Enneagram (Chestnut), The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness (Alexander), The Bible Tells Me So (Enns), The Emotionally Healthy Church (Scazzero) , The Empathy Exams (Jamison), Half of a Yellow Sun (Adichie), Jane Steele (Faye), When Breath Becomes Air (Kalanithi)
(I read 12 books this month.)
Must-see TV: Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, Real Housewives of Potomac, I Am Cait, Once Upon A Time, Jane the Virgin, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend
I really enjoyed the Downton Abbey series finale, (SPOILER ALERT: skip this paragraph) even though it raised a lot of questions about why every happy ending has to involve a wedding or the possibility of love. Like for EVERY SINGLE CHARACTER. On the other hand, I was pleased that's what Edith's happy ending looked like because she deserved to finally catch a break.
I love what Linda Holmes (of NPR's Monkey See and Pop Culture Happy Hour) wrote about Crazy Ex-Girlfriend. I want more people to watch this show!
I dusted off Shiny Toy Guns' first CD and have been blasting it in my car on the rare occasion I drive anywhere. It is perfect car music, whether or not the sun is shining.
Listen to the What I'm Into 2015 playlist.
I was on What Should I Read Next. Anne and I had a blast talking all things books. I've already read two of her recommendations. Still not sure about the one that's left.
I loved listening to Joanne Froggatt and Michelle Monaghan's respective episodes on Off Camera with Sam Jones. I learned so much about both actresses and appreciated the stories they shared about what made them who they are.
Magic for your ears: podcasts and podcasting on Sorta Awesome, a must-listen for anyone curious about the world of podcasts and how they're made.
When I was in high school, we were assigned poets for freshman English. I was given Nikki Giovanni, whom I hadn't heard of before, but I quickly became intrigued by her life and words. I was delighted to listen to her interview on On Being with Krista Tippett. She has only become more interesting with age. Plus, the poem she wrote after the Virginia Tech shooting is not to be missed. It moves me now as much as it moved me then.
Things I Love:
- I stayed at my friend Katie's house for a week and it was such a treat. Not only did I stay in their guest room, which the previous owner used as an unlicensed bar and gambling shack, she taught me how to make orange preserves. Toward the end of the week, she and a few of her kind neighbors helped me change a flat tire. Plus there was jasmine covering the gate by my guest room and I couldn't get enough of it.
- It was also fun getting to experience her neighborhood since I hadn't spent any time over there before. We went for lunch at Just For You Cafe where we ordered Cypresses (fresh squeezed grapefruit juice and champagne) in addition to fantastic food.
- Cara and I were supposed to explore Santa Cruz but it rained buckets that day so we decided to check something off my city list: Green Apple Books. The bookstore was even dreamier than I imagined. It's part new books, part used books, 100% magical. The used poetry section is ENORMOUS. We also found an amazing Vietnamese restaurant for lunch.
- I got my first trunk from Trunk Club. I had so much fun trying everything on. Post to follow soon. I'm in love with them!
- I met Katy for tea at Philz and she came bearing books. Somebody knows the way to my heart! I thoroughly enjoyed talking about books, writing, and the state of blogging.
- City Hope, which is a part of the church I work for and an amazing organization, put on an event called What's Race Got To Do With It? I was a table leader and I was so impressed with the openness and honesty of the people at my table. I'm also so happy we're wading into these conversations about race and privilege. It's a start and I look forward to seeing where it leads.
- My cousin Nick and I finally made it to dinner together (after not seeing each other since December), along with his girlfriend Erin. I loved catching up with them and only wish it had happened sooner! Getting to spend time with him is one of my favorite parts of living here.
- Lisa Sharon Harper preached the sermon I've longed to hear ever since Michael Brown was killed. So grateful for her wisdom and insights. You can listen to it here.
- After Lisa's sermon, we hosted an event with her around the intersection of faith and Black Lives Matter. It was absolutely incredible. I took pages of notes. You can listen to it here. I got to meet her afterward and it was just long enough to talk about our mutual friends and the work she's doing. A true highlight.
- Snuggling my friend Rachel's newborn Norah. She is the sweetest little peanut!
- My friend Jen had a business meeting in town so we got to hang out for a few hours before she flew home. We walked through the Botanical Gardens and then headed to Nopalito for drinks and appetizers. Plus we talked about allllllll the things.
- As you may know, I'm living with Micha and her family. Brooksie turned another year older! We celebrated with his favorite meal and then Polly Ann's for ice cream. Since it was his birthday, I broke my dairy-free diet and imbibed and from the look on Brooksie's face, I made the right call. We took a photo together and August said it'll be in their year end family album and I tried not to tear up from the beauty. They are such a gift to me.
- My friend Laura P has been working off of Things To Do In SF Before You Die list and invited Julie and me to help her cross another item off the list. First, she and I had dinner at El Toreador and the guacamole was as delicious as they promised, the servings were ginormous, and the wild decor hanging from the ceiling is not to be missed. Then Julie joined us for flights at Que Syrah, a small wine bar but they sure know what they're doing. It was great catching up with friends. Plus, I hadn't been over to that neighborhood before and it's darling.
- Laura T and I went to the Oscar de la Renta exhibit at the de Young Museum. Y'ALL. It was incredible! I've never been so close to that much couture before. I loved seeing his designs in person. It made me appreciate the artistry that much more. The exhibit is not to be missed if you're in the Bay Area.
- Before we left the museum, we headed up to the observation tower for a 360 view of the city. Even on a cloudy day, it's still beautiful.
- We hosted an event with Wesley Hill and Julie Rodgers and I was in charge of making sure it went off without a hitch. Wes and Julie did a great job. I loved seeing their friendship in action as they discussed their faith, lives, and what they believe about being LGBT, as well as how their friendship works when they hold different views. You can listen to it here.
- The next night I got to have dinner with Wes and a few of my coworkers. After following him online for a few years, it was a treat to get to know him better and talk about the importance of community. Sarah made us a delectable feast, capped off with Terely's incredible dairy-free flan.
- Micha and I rocked our #ACEface shirts for World Down Syndrome Day on March 21. We were pretty happy about it!
- I heard Bryan Stevenson speak at the Nourse. He was supposed to be interviewed by Gwen Ifill but she unfortunately had a family emergency so Jeffrey Toobin filled in. I only become more inspired and encouraged by Stevenson. Here's your regular reminder to go read Just Mercy if you haven't already.
- Afterward, JJ, Katie, and I had drinks and light food at Boxing Room, which was a fun place to try.
- August had a brief- yet utterly believable- role as a guard in Aladdin Jr. (directed by my co-director Barbara) so I went to cheer him (and her) on. I've never seen an elementary school play before and this blew all my expectations out of the water in terms of the size and scope.
- Here I have to take a moment to praise my team at work. We pulled off our Holy Week events without a hitch. We work really well together and the week was evidence of that, whether we were packing up the Russian Center, setting things up for Easter Vigil, or pulling off childcare and Children's Worship at Davies Symphony Hall on Easter Sunday. We are rock stars. Afterward I wanted to collapse but I'm still basking in the glow of accomplishment.
- Friends hosted Easter dinner, where we feasted on incredible lamb burgers and all kinds of yummy things. I drank buttery chardonnay and went wherever the conversation took me. It was a great way to close out a big work day.
- As always: snuggling baby Ace who is turning 1 next month. How did that happen?!
- Tomorrow I head to Napa for the first time. We're going wine tasting, followed by a Patty Griffin/Sara Watkins/Anais Mitchell show. I'm so excited!
In the Blogosphere:
Here are the weekly-ish posts of this month's favorite Internet finds but you can find even more of what I've been reading at Storify.
(If you want to follow me on Instagram, my user name is leighkramer.)
On The Blog:
On the Leigh Kramer FB page, we talked about being "too intimidating," where we'd be if we were transported to the last novel we read, and geeked out over the Chrome extension that shows whether your library carries the book you're looking up on Amazong.
(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 Monday May 2.
2. Link the unique URL of your post, not your blog's home page. Readers peruse link ups months after the fact and you want to make it easy for them to find your What I'm Into post.
4. Visit at least 2 other posts in the linkup!
What have you been into this month?
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