Life By Kristen

Go, and embrace your liberty. And see what wonderful things come of it. – Little Women

Five on Friday: Hey August!

Hey it’s August! The dog days of summer have arrived (and endless humidity it seems in Southern New England).

  • Bookworm problems: Anyone who has ever spoken with me for more than 30 minutes knows my love of books and the library. A few years ago, my library supplemented their use of Overdrive ( the industry favorite for ebooks and digital audiobooks) with Hoopla, which in addition to those two mediums also had TV and movies. I liked Hoopla for a bunch of reasons, mostly because even though there wasn’t as many titles as there were on Overdrive, there were no holds or waiting periods for the titles. I spent a good chunk of time going through my humongous Goodreads to-read list   deleting books off of that list that I wanted to listen on audio and saving them as ‘favorites’ on Hoopla. Long story short, I discovered this week that my library no longer supports Hoopla and is back to strictly Overdrive. While this isn’t a complete travesty, I had to re-add all those titles from Hoopla into Goodreads, making my to-read list much too large again, meaning a big edit is going to need to happen in the near future.

 

  • The month started off perfectly on Wednesday by visiting with one of my closet college friends who I haven’t seen in far too long because, life.

 

  • Goals for this month include knocking a few things off the house to-do list. Honestly, it’s been so hot and humid the past few weekends, we haven’t done much with house projects. Lots of movie and AC indoor time recently (it’s funny how summer weekends can look like winter weekends in regards to time spent indoors!)

 

  • I’ve written before about my love for ThredUp, the online consignment site. I’m not completely breaking up with them, but they’ve recently started charging a restocking fee for returns which is likely because of the site’s popularity I’d guess. Over the past couple of years, they are one of my primary destinations for online shopping and some of my favorite items of clothing in my closet are from there, but the trying on at home and returning without fee ( if you chose store credit, not complete refund) was one of the advantages of the site for me. Since I also really need to stop online shopping as a tool to overcome boredom, I don’t see me using them as much.

 

  • Things I’m looking forward to in August: a couple of long weekends, including an extra long one for Labor Day as we’re going up to NH Seacoast for a few days to relax and explore a little.

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Friday Finds July 2018

People who read live longer– scientifically proven!

Anne Frank’s family tried to immigrate to the US before they went into hiding.

World War I “Hello Girls” to receive Congressional Gold Medal honors. It still amazes me every time a story like this comes out how many forgotten people and stories of history are out there.

The global history of ketchup. Personal note: I only really like ketchup on the rare burger I eat. I prefer French fries with mayo.

Telling the stories and history of women on America’s Route 66.

Is there anything better than losing yourself in a good book? I say no! I’ll only disagree with the writer of the article on one point- while I don’t have as many days to spend entirely reading ( though I did that a few weekends ago and it was glorious), I read just as veraciously as I did when I was a kid.

Speaking of books, let’s all praise libraries and librarians. If I got a do-over on life, I think I’d become a librarian. Could still happen.

 

Blah Days of Summer

My general life feeling lately has been angst and tiredness. Not so much a particular worry or anxiety about any one  thing, but a general blah feeling and life rut.

If I’m being open and honest, one of the reasons I’ve been avoiding writing, both here, in my personal journal, and in all my other creative outlets besides my day job ( I haven’t even been freelance writing either) is avoidance of myself and my feelings. How I feel about who I am, what I want ( what DO I want?), my job, my relationship with Q, family, friends, coworkers, and so on. The only things I feel really strongly about these days are air-conditioning and reading as much as I can.

If I’m also being honest, I’ll say that while I’m not in a sad place mentally, I generally just feel “meh.” Some of it is heat/humidity related, especially over the past five or so days which have been just grossly tropical with “air you can wear.” I don’t like when it’s so hot or humid out that being inside is the only option. I’m getting a cabin fever that’s different than the winter kind I get by the beginning of March to be itching to be outside; this one I’m just itching to be anywhere but on my beige couch or bedroom. I see why murders and such are on the rise in the summer time- the heat really can make you feel crazy!

Flowers make everything better!

Part of this is I honestly feel so clueless about how to get to where I want to be next in life. I want to move, but don’t really know where ( though I know where not). I want to advance in my career, but haven’t seen any jobs that interest me in my current field and feel completely paralyzed/dumbfounded/clueless about how to pivot into another. I’ve read books/blog, listened to podcasts, and even worked with a career coaching program, but haven’t had an AHA moment or feel like I’ve found my “calling” or “passion.” My passion is reading books in my PJs- is there a job for that?

I also want my own little family beyond just Q and I. The struggles with Q’s son Little Man hang over us like a little black cloud many days, especially on the weekends. It’s been tough to overcome at times and the strain/stress of it is real.

So what am I doing to try to push through the muck? Keeping busy with plans with friends and family. Signing up for a new yoga class for August and September. I bought tickets for a concert in November, something I never do ( I think the last concert I went to was 6 years ago). Ignoring the to-do list with house projects for a few weekends in favor of reading books outside or on the porch. Not cooking every night of the week. Working on my summer bucket list. They’re little steps, but I feel like if I just push forward a little bit every day, I’ll come out of the fog and make a step forward.

Life Lately, July 2018

  • I took the end of the holiday week off last week which was wonderful. Back in May when Q and I decided to take those days off together, we originally envisioned them as a house project sprint, but it was over 90 degrees on the 4th and 5th (so hot we didn’t eat our 4th of July BBQ outside!, so we did no house projects. We did accomplish finally getting Q’s passport application done and a few little things around the house.
  • After the fire on the lot next door to me last year took down the building (still no word on what’s happening with the empty lot yet!), we have an open view to the rest of the street and sky, which meant we watched fireworks from our air-conditioned bedroom. It was pretty nice.
  • I know I want to move on in my career, but I’m not sure what exactly that means or where I want it go. I know where I don’t want it to and what I don’t want to be doing. I’m open to moving, but the list of places I’d consider going is pretty open. The list of where we don’t want to live (NYC, Florida) is pretty set. With no set ideas on a new career step, it feels like maybe staying in museums as a way to move to a new place might be smart, but then I question that too.
  • After a week of hot, humid, and generally unbearable weather last week, the weekend after the holiday was glorious. It was great to shut off the A/C (I hate its endless sound in the summer( and get the windows open. Saturday after errands we ended up getting sandwiches for dinner and eating them at a picnic table at a local state park on the water. It was perfect.

  • I didn’t pass the no clothes shopping challenge I set for myself in June. I have no excuses, especially since with one of the orders I made with ThredUp, all but one of the items (a polka dot cardigan for work) were returned. Going to try again for July.
  • Q is on some weird food diet where he’s not eating tomatoes which has made summer dinners difficult at the moment since I pretty much serve them and cucumbers in every cold dish I can- his loss!
  • Work is crazy busy for the next 2 weeks which is not the summer norm for me so it’s a bit annoying.
  • After a fury of reading a few books from library and even one from my owned shelf over my little staycation, all I can think about is knocking more books off my to-read list. I’ve added a ton to my library hold list, suspending them all so they don’t come in at the same time ( love that feature– I”m such a book nerd).

 

How are things in your world? I’d love any advice or insights from anyone who’s made a career/life shift successfully– feeling overwhelmed/unsure of it all at the moment!

Summer Reading

There really isn’t a lot different for my reading in the summer than there is in the winter, except I try to keep it light and not too involved since I often read outside and get easily distracted.

My goal for reading this year is 80 books and as of today I’m just over halfway to my goal. I took Thursday and Friday off this week after the Wednesday holiday, so hoping to enjoy some lazy days reading.

This past month was a total of 8 books– almost made it 9, but I didn’t read as much as I thought I would this past weekend, so didn’t finish it before the calendar turned to July. For this month, I’m going to focus on reading from my Kindle and my personal bookshelf. Funny that even with Kindle, I’m not reading books I own!

Here’s a rundown of the books from June!

Educated– Tara Westover (audio)

Matchmaking for Beginners– Maddie Dawson (Kindle)

All We Ever Wanted– Emily Giffin (advanced reader copy)

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child (hardcover)

Number the Stars– Lois Lowry (Kindle)

Calypso– David Sedaris (audio)

The Dressmaker– Kate Alcott (hardcover)

Uncommon Type: Stories– Tom Hanks (audio)

The Sun is Also A Star– Nicole Yoon (hardcover)

Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows– J.K. Rowling (hardcover, borrowed from friend)

Friday Finds June 2018

Nostalgic growing up in the 90s memes. #9 made me laugh as I recently found tons of “mix CDs” I made during high school and college in my attic.

I loved cauliflower long before it became trendy and a crucial part of a gluten-free lifestyle. That said, cauliflower crust pizza just is not for me.

I haven’t seen Ocean’s 8 yet, but they made a whole fake exhibition at a Met replica just for the movie. Fun fact: I met Hamish Bowles a few years ago when he was doing research for his Balenciaga exhibitions.

How recliners became a part of the American living room. Ours is currently in Little Man’s room and is my favorite reading chair since it swivels and rocks too!

Two Anne Frank related items: researchers find and decipher 2 hidden pages in Anne Frank’s diary and you can “visit” the Anne Frank Museum and see what it was like when she was in hiding, thanks to virtual reality.

Another job I didn’t know existed: art forgery detective.

When does hungry become hangry?

We use paper towels for many things (Q uses them a lot more than me)– it’s essential for sopping up grease on bacon, using when cleaning, etc. Even the best chefs agree with me!

An illustrated history of the picnic table.

 

Summer 2018 Bucket List

Happy Summer Solstice!

 

  • Yoga on the Lawn at the outdoor market in my town ( and a visit to the outdoor market)
  • Farmer’s market on Wednesday afternoons near my work
  • Movie outside in Providence
  • Drinks by the water
  • Beach at least once in July and August
  • Berry picking
  • Lobster rolls, sweet corn
  • Lazy Sunday mostly filled with reading on my sun porch or backyard
  • Watch sunset
  • Music at local vineyard

Little Women 150 Years Later

It’s hard to believe Little Women was written 150 years ago, and even harder to believe that so many of the issues that Louisa May Alcott wrote about are still things society is grappling with today. This AP article touches on some of these ideas, especially the idea of feminism and possible how Alcott would take the modern-day #MeToo movement.

I don’t remember the first time I read Little Women but it was definitely well before the 1994 film with Winona Ryder and Susan Sarandon (among others) came out. It’s a book that’s resonated me throughout my life at different times and one of the few books I’ve re-read. In fact, I re-read the book in 2011 shortly after deciding to end my marriage, which is also the time I began blogging. The quote on my blog masthead from the book found me at the perfect moment in my life when I was trying to figure out what I wanted for my life and it’s something that has stuck with me ever since.

I think some of my affinity for Little Women is the independent spirit of Jo March, a quality I value and a characteristic I think applies to me in many part of my life. I also feel a bit of a fierce local pride for the Alcott family and other writers from Concord, MA. I was born at the hospital in Concord and we visited the town several times when I was growing up, taking day trips to canoe on the Concord River, visit historical sites related to the American Revolution, and walked around Concord’s adorable downtown. I’ve been to Orchard House, the Alcott family home, a few times, though it’s been many years since I’ve visited so I think a summer day trip is in order. I’m sure my perspective will change now that I work in the history field, but it will always hold a special place in my heart.

I still pick up my copy of Little Women to read from time to time, though I’m well overdue for a complete re-read of the book. While Jo will likely always remain my favorite character, I have come to have a new appreciation for the older sister Meg and feel more emotional over the death of Beth than I did as a young person reading the book. The 1994 film is still my favorite and I always watch during the holiday season, though it isn’t your typical Christmas film. The 1933 Katharine Hepburn version is quite good as well– and filmed at Orchard House. I’m ashamed to say I still haven’t watched the most recent PBS Masterpiece adaptation, but that will be remedied very soon!

 

A few of the actresses who have played Jo March

 

Be Kind

The deaths of Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain last week came at a time when suicide was on the mind of Q and I already. A year ago, Q’s brother-in-law took his own life, and it’s changed so much of our family since then. Not just the actual physical loss of someone, but dealing with the pain of knowing they chose to leave this world and trying to make sense of it all. It’s been really hard for Q because he was incredibly close to his BIL, who often was the only person he’d talk to about some tough things. They were fishing buddies, and it’s something they did together, so much that Q hasn’t even fished since.

The saying that’s been going around all week “everyone’s fighting a battle, you don’t know it, so be kind,” is very true. This December marks 5 years since my Dad died, and I’ve felt his loss more this year than probably the previous few. I think part of it is because I’m in a transition- planning about moving somewhere new (who knows where!), possibly a new career, and hoping to expand my family with Q. I think a lot about Dad when I’m doing yard work or things around the house, something we often did together. Father’s Day is always a tricky time that brings up a lot of sadness because he isn’t here to celebrate and there is so much all around reminding me he is not here. I actually had to stop buying Q a Father’s Day card because I was having crying fits in the card aisle. This year feels particularly touchy because Q likely won’t see Little Man. It’s a long story, but we haven’t seen Q’s son in quite some time and I honestly don’t know when we will again. It’s another layer to our grief battle, just another kind.

All of this is to say to remember to be kind to people and to tell your people you love them.

Via LifeofTheKind

 

 

My Do Not Buy List

Do you have a “do not buy list?” Long before the no-spend challenge or other budget/financial goal challenges, I had a list of things I don’t like to or won’t spend money on. Here’s a bit of info on the idea , but it’s a pretty simple concept: these items you don’t buy either new, or at all. Here’s a few from my list and why:

  • New books: I can’t remember the last time I bought a book for my personal library brand-new. I also pretty infrequently buy used books. I choose the library for most of my physical book reads and only read free or Prime Reading books on my Kindle. I think the last time I bought a brand-new book was a few years ago when one of my beloved college professors published a novel.
  • Fast fashion: I don’t shop at places like H&M, Forever 21, or other spots that turn out cheap clothing at low prices. This has become remarkably easy for me as I’ve gotten older since a lot of fast fashion stores are aimed at a much younger, hipper demographic than mine!
  • Knickknacks and random house decor: I like minimal design for two reasons: my house is small and the less random stuff means less dusting/cleaning/arranging.
  • Random office supplies especially pens and notebooks/journals
  • Fancy makeup/face supplies

What’s on your no-buy list?

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