I'm looking out my window and blossoms have bloomed on a tree whose name I should know but don't. It's spring break and an ethereal magic has begun to weave its way through St. Louis. It reminds me of the Bob Ross painting show on PBS, as though the apparition of Ross scrutinizes our trees each night and says "now we're going to add just a little green to the edges of these trees. You make your trees how you want them, this is your special place".
Spring break also means that I get to catch up on a few things: reading, writing, my breath. My Goodreads 2012 reading challenge balefully reminds me that I am 9 books behind pace to meet my goal. However, simply because I have not been reading or writing does not mean life hasn't been interesting. In fact, rather the opposite. So here's an update.
As of right now, I am successfully on day 37 of 100 days of not purchasing books. So far, it's actually lovely. As opposed to being bound by my impulses, I have instituted my own "cooling off" period. I started a list on Goodreads of books to buy after 100 days and I find myself editing it: books without which I once thought I would not make it through the night now look slightly puzzling on the to-read list at all. I think I may institute a consistent "cooling off" period after 100 days are over.
I have currently read 20 books in 2012. Here they are:
1) Binchy, Maeve: "Minding Frankie"
2) Borman, Tracy: "Elizabeth's Women"
3) Browler, Sam: "Profit's Prey"
4) Cain, Susan: "Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking"
5) Chua, Amy: "Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother"
6) Drew, Clifford: "Designing and Conducting Research in Education"
7) Franzen, Jonathon: "Freedom"
8) Giordono, Paolo: "The Solitude of Prime Numbers"
9) Isay, Dave: "All There Is: Love Stories From StoryCorps"
10)Kingsolver, Barbara: "The Lacuna"
11)Morgenstern, Erin: "The Night Circus"
12)Persico, Joseph: "Franklin & Lucy"
13)Pratchett, Terry & Gaimon, Neil: "Good Omens"
14)Prose, Francine: "Reading Like a Writer"
15)Rehm, Diane: "Finding My Voice
16)Rubin, Gretchen: "The Happiness Project"
17)Simonson, Helen: "Major Pettigrew's Last Stand"
18)Wiggins, Grant: "Understanding By Design"
19)Wolitzer, Hilma: "An Available Man"
20)Yuknavitch, Lidia: "The Chronology of Water"
I am currently reading:
1) Harris, Bob: "Prisoner of Trebekistan: A Decade in Jeopardy!"
2) Patchett, Ann: "State of Wonder"
3) Seligman, Martin: "Flourish: A Visionary New Understanding of Happiness and Well-Being"
I have also been involved in other lovely things. For example:
1) I wrote my first official lit review: 27 pages of pure mental exhaustion and torture. A couple of days after I turned it in, I received an e-mail from my professor that said "Just wanted to let you know I just got done grading your lit review. It is BEAUTIFUL!!!! Needless to say, you got a very well-deserved A. Wonderful work!" It was probably the single most gratifying moment of my life.
2) I started karate lessons! I can honestly say that karate is something I never anticipated to be a part of my life. However, the opportunity was offered to me and I have a hard time resisting adventure (which is how I ended up at a fundraiser the other night involving bowling and square dancing and was hilariously misrepresented by calling itself "Swing Both Ways"). I have found that I love karate. It is the perfect antidote to the amount of time I spend sitting in an uncomfortable chair, pondering introspectively or pouring through academic articles. The opportunity to take a break from that to kick and hit things is an enormous catharsis.
3) A couple of friends and I have decided to organize a "Cola Crawl": A twist on the traditional pub crawl. We're raising money for St. Louis Arc, a local organization that provides services for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. It takes place March 30th and we have the loveliest fliers and t-shirts.
4) I participated in a flash mob! It was with the same organization: St. Louis Arc. We gathered in multiple places (my group met in front of the St. Louis History museum) and danced to Aretha Franklin's "Respect" in order to raise awareness about appropriate language to use regarding people with disabilities. It was an amazing experience! I went by myself and experienced the immediate feeling of bonding with a group of people. As I am inherently not someone who joins organizations or other groups of people, this was a rare and unexpected delight. Also, we were on the news which was really fun. Post Script: has anyone watched the St. Louis local news lately? It appears to be primarily comprised of footage from people's cell phones.
5) I entered a first-time novelist competition. This was a really cool exercise, because I had to submit 50 pages of a novel. However, my apartment was broken into twice in January and someone had stolen my laptop (among many other things), which had all of my graduate work on it, as well as everything I've written creatively in the last 3 years. No, of course I hadn't backed anything up. So, in the thick of my graduate coursework, I decided to embark on a new writing experience. It was difficult and amazing and I'm thrilled that I decided to do it.
6) I had a real, live crime scene unit in my apartment dusting for finger prints after break-in #2. They aren't nearly as terse and harried as they appear on T.V. However, no one was murdered in my apartment, there were no blood spatter patterns of any kind, and they appear to have sent the high school intern over to check things out. No matter, I was enthralled.
Tonight, I'm going to see Temple Grandin speak and I cannot wait.
So everything right now is an adventure. I intend to read like a mad woman this week while simultaneously immersing myself in the annual miraculous seasonal developments. Maybe I'll even figure out the name of that tree.