What I'm Into (May 2015 Edition)
Best Podcasts For a Road Trip

What I'm Into (June 2015 Edition)

  2015-06-29 20.26.52The sunset where I'm housesitting. Glory.

In the past month, I packed up my entire house, loaded most of my belongings into a storage pod that I won't see again for a couple of months, drove back to my hometown for a week, and then drove more than 2300 miles across the country to move to San Francisco. I cannot even believe this is my life!

 

Read and Reading

Missoula: Rape and the Justice System in a College Town (Krakauer) is not an easy read but I do believe it's one of the most important books I've read this year. Krakauer's exploration of date rape on a college campus often made me angry. It was horrifying to see the ways the victims were marginalized, dismissed, not believed, and then on top of that, had their characters misrepresented and smeared, especially when their rapists were football players. Krakauer's approach in writing this is excellent. The book is powerful. It exposes the secrets of our justice system, college sports, and power dynamics. It should be required reading. Maybe then things would start to change.

You don't need to know anything about basketball or the SEC to enjoy Strong Inside: Perry Wallace the Collision of Race and Sports in the South (Maraniss). Perry Wallace was the first black athlete at Vanderbilt, thereby integrating the SEC. While Vanderbilt is to be commended for integrating, it was disheartening to read about the lack of support black students received once on campus. Integration is not enough to build understanding and relationships and this becomes especially clear when Wallace played at more overtly racist schools and his coaches and team did little to acknowledge what was happening or, in some cases, protect him. I really enjoyed learning about Wallace's life in the years leading up to his decision to go to Vanderbilt and all he's accomplished since then. Such a remarkable man!

I've been reading more actor memoirs lately but haven't delved into any biographies. I was super intrigued when De Niro (Levy) became available as a review copy. I respect De Niro as an actor, though I knew little about his personal life before this book. He declined Levy's requests for an interview, as he declines most interviews. This could have translated into some juicy "tell all" but it is nothing of the sort. Levy is fair and balanced in his approach. The book really centers on De Niro's acting: what roles he took, his meticulous preparations and approach to each role, how his career has changed over the years. It was fascinating to go behind the scenes, even though I haven't seen most of his more famous roles. (He tends to pick violent movies and I have a very low tolerance.) I also enjoyed learning more about his relationships, especially with his parents. I had no idea he was such a womanizer! Levy becomes more critical of De Niro when he started acting in movies like Meet the Parents and The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle, and this section of the book faltered for me. But that's a minor note in this solid exploration of De Niro's life and career. (Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book through Blogging for Books in exchange for my fair and honest review. Opinion is my own.)

 

You can see all the books I've read at Goodreads

Currently reading: Searching for Sunday: Loving, Leaving, and Finding the Church (Evans), Cooked (Pollan), The Bookseller (Swanson)

 

(I read 8 books this month.)

 

TV:

Must-see TV: So You Think You Can Dance, Real Housewives of New York, Real Housewives of Orange County

I finally got to watch Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt and now understand what all the cool kids have been talking/laughing about. It was uneven for me but I loved every scene with Titus.

I am thrilled SYTYCD is back! Still not sure about this current judge combo though. I hope Mary Murphy will make an appearance at some point.

 

 

Podcasts:

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This month a dream came true! I got to be the guest so-host on Sorta Awesome. I had an absolute blast talking to my friend Megan Tietz about all things Enneagram. I'm crossing my fingers and toes she asks me to come on again someday.

I really enjoyed this Longform Podcast interview with Cheryl Strayed. She said something about halfway through that is going to set the tone for me in San Francisco. Before the movie version of Wild premiered, she told herself, "you will not shrink from this but you will rise to the occasion." YES.

I found out StoryWonk started a Veronica Mars watch-along podcast: We Used To Be Friends. Excellent commentary on the show! (This is by the same people who do The Scot and The Sassenach, which is a commentary on Outlander, which I also like listening to.)

 

Things I Love:

  • Watching the season premiere of SYTYCD with Kelley. I'm so sad we won't be able to watch the whole season together!

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With Abby at the game. Note: I am wearing my White Sox sweatshirt.

  • My first Nashville Sounds game, thanks to gifted tickets from a friend. Minor league teams are fun and the new stadium is fantastic! I might have developed a crush on the tattooed 3rd baseman.
  • My nephew-in-love turned 1! I'm so thankful I could be there for his party before I moved away.

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  • Quickie ice cream date with my niece-in-love. Love her so much! I cannot even fathom not seeing her or her brother every week.

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  • All the friends who helped load the storage pod: Tracy, Joel, Chad, Julie, Julie's mom, Abby, Alece, Kyla, and Chaz. I could not have done it without them!
  • Sleeping over at Tracy's house
  • Dinner at Fido with the family I nannied for.
  • Coffee at Edgehill Cafe with Alece
  • Housesitting for a friend. I adore her house and I adored having a comfy place to sleep until I left town!

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  • Happy Hour at Holland House with Kelley and Amanda. I don't know how I never made it over there before but it was well worth the wait. Cheers to their gin gimlets!
  • Taco Mamacita with Abby and Emily on my last night in town
  • Getting to spend time with my parents, brother, sister-in-law, and sweet niece!
  • Front Street Cocina with Donna, Jill, Jill, Annie, and Heather
  • Coffee with Laura and Ellie

2015-06-19 20.08.05
Taking a break from the dance floor, where I succeeded in getting most of my relatives out there

  • My cousin Pat finally married Kerri. I'm so happy for them and thrilled I could be there! Such a great night.
  • Day o' fun with Erin and her crew, which included the French Market, Pitch Perfect, and tapas. Perfection.

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  • My parents had everyone over for Father's Day, ostensibly to honor the dads but really it was so people could meet my niece.

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  • My niece is 5 months old now and her smile is EVERYTHING. I need more snuggles.
  •  Two of my good friends from college drove down from Wisconsin for lunch. Melissa and Danielle deserve all the gold stars! So great catching up with them.
  • My friend Megan hosted a lovely evening for me, including a delicious specially concocted drink: Leigh's Bittersweet Goodbye. Joy and Chris Ann drove in from their respective states and it was such a treat to be with some of my favorite people. I couldn't stop smiling!
  • By pure magic and happenstance, Tracy and the kids were in my hometown the day before I left and we got to meet up for lunch at Portillo's. It was near impossible to say goodbye to them so I'm glad we got a reprieve before they headed back to Nashville.

SF road trip

  • Driving across the country without any major trouble. I'm proud of myself!
  • A jar full of encouraging notes from my Life Council for my road trip

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I stood in this same spot and took countless pictures of The Slough when I was a student. It's gorgeous in the fall!

  • First stop of #LeighvingNashvegas: my alma mater! My friend Kelly works for the college now and took me on a tour so I could see all the ways it's changed and all the ways it's stayed the same. Then our friend Trisha met up with us for lunch. I don't know the next time I'll be back on campus so I'm extra glad it worked out.
  • Second stop: Lincoln, NE. I had delicious Thai food with Michelle DeRusha and slept over at Deidra Riggs's gorgeous house. I loved every moment I had with them!

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Colorado is a show-off

  • Third stop: a slight detour to Colorado Springs to see my friend Suzanne and her family. I loved hanging out with them! I could not get over the mountain view from her backyard. I really wish I could have stayed an extra day to explore.
  • Fourth stop: Salt Lake City, UT, which did include an extra day. Loved spending time with Nish and getting to meet her husband and kids at long last. She took me out for amazing dessert the first night and the next day we visited Temple Square, hiked to Bloods Lake, enjoyed a whiskey tasting in Park City, ate delicious Indian food, and watched Going Clear. It was just what I needed.
  • Also great: arriving in SLC to find out about the Supreme Court's decision on marriage equality! Love wins.
  • Fifth stop: Martinez, CA. It took 11 hours to get to this point and I'm so glad I planned to stay at Arianne's house instead of pushing myself straight to SF. Plus, we had such a magical evening together!

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New home

  • Final stop: San Francisco. As a reminder, I've never even been to California before. I could not believe my eyes when I drove into the city. GORGEOUS. I am housesitting at an amazing place with an ocean view. The sun was shining all day long. What a wonderful welcome!
  • Also welcoming? Cara, who brought me an amazing burrito and guacamole and then took me to her favorite butcher and drove me so I could get a closer look at the ocean. So much fun to live in the same state!

 

Things I Didn't Love:

  • Saying goodbye to Nashville friends
  • Packing
  • Giving back the key to my best friend's house

 

 

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What have you been into this month?

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