For my birthday, M and I drove to Pittsburgh for just 24 hours! It was a whirlwind trip, but we had so much fun. We stopped at Primanti Brothers for sandwiches. After lunch we walked around the Strip District for a bit and then walked up Penn Avenue to Fort Pitt Block House, located inside Point State Park. The museum was free so we did a quick walk thru and learned a lot of about 15th and 16th century American history.
We tend went to Roundabout Brewing for a flight of their beers. All were very good but the lingonberry ale was the real standout. Then we headed to the Duquesne Incline for some stellar views of the city.
We ended the evening with drinks at the Butcher and the Rye and then dinner at Meat and Potatoes. One the way home, we stopped at Ikea – and get this – stuck to the list! Hard to believe, I know! It was a great little getaway!
When we got home, we went for dinner and to see The Stray Birds at Natalie’s Coal Fired Pizza. A truly stellar weekend!
It’s a point of pride that I make my ‘resolutions’ or annual goals on my birthday, not on New Year’s Day, when the peer pressure to ‘save more’ and ‘weight less’ isn’t so strong. Not that I don’t want to do those things too but because I’d like them to be on my terms dammit. This post, this year’s Resolution, has been bumbling around my brain for a while.
This year. This year, I’m stuck. Things have changed from this time last year – we bought a car, we paid off some debt and generally sucked less with money, I knocked a few things off my 30×30 list. I started a novel, I finished a quilt, and so on and so on.
And yet. Things are so much the same. We live in the same apartment, with the same incredibly teal wall I made M paint for me – OOPS. I still long for close girlfriends here (absolutely what I miss most from Chicago).
I’ve been sorting of dreading this birthday and I’m not sure why. We have an awesome, happy full weekend planned and it’s not even a Big Deal Number. As lame as it is – I’d like to continue making the same good choices and grow the same habits I’m already working towards. Now, I’m off to go have some fun with my main squeeze and my family.
I Shall Be Near to You by Erin Lindsay McCabe: Following a Rosetta and Jeremiah, young couple during the Civil War, I could not help but fall in love with these fully realized, flawed characters. Based on a true story, we experience both major battles and mundane days with Rosetta and Jeremiah. McCabe opens up America in the 1860′s to us modern readers and explores the highly delineated worlds men and women were forced to inhabit. It seems hard to believe that women could have pulled this off but once you realize no man had seen a women in pants before, it becomes more believable. Even though I finished it a few weeks ago, I cannot stop thinking about this book and have mentioned it several times on Twitter and to friends. I Shall Be Near to You is hauntingly good. This is important inclusionist history and every feminist worth her salt should read this book.
What I watched: North by Northwest, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, The Nightmare Before Christmas, Fright Night, The Addams Family, Galaxy Quest, The Benchwarmers, A Fantastic Fear of Everything, Elvira: Mistress of the Dark, Ever After: A Cinderella Story, The Mighty Ducks
Where’d You Go Bernadette? by Maria Semple; I really liked this book! I thought it was engaging and loved how Semple interwove various ‘primary’ documents to expose different points of view on the narrative. I was rooting for the Fox family at the end, which I think is so important in connecting readers to characters. I get why this is on everyone’s list now!
The Talent Code: Unlocking the Secret of Skill in Sports, Art, Music, Math, and Just About Everything Else by Daniel Coyle; Coyle argues that talent is not innate but grown in our brains in the form of myelin, once thought to be inert coating for brain cells. I found his writing to be clear and approachable and he offers some easily transferrable take aways for mastering skills or talents.
The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin; I wish I remember who’s GoodReads this popped up on so I can say thank you! While filled with tragic experiences, Zevin manages to weave together a jaunty narrative that never sags under it’s own weight. She’s filled this novel with wonderfully compelling book people who will remind you why you love your local book store.
What I watched: Only Lover’s Left Alive, Muppets Most Wanted, The Lego Movie, The World’s End, Hocus Pocus, Bad Words, Her, X Men: Days of Future Past, Muscle Shoals
M had a surprise weekend off so we took off for a spur of the moment camping trip. One of the things he needed to see as someone who wasn’t a child in Ohio was Old Man’s Cave and the Hocking Hills.
We stayed in the state campground and spent Saturday morning hiking between Old Man’s Cave and Ash Cave. I want to tell you it was so pretty (which – it was) but I am incredibly disappointed in this particular state park experience. There were exactly ZERO Rangers or Naturalists at any of the sites. No one to encourage sound camping practices (so I saw our ‘neighbors’ washing diapers in our clean water…so I walked an extra 1/4 mile each way for the rest of the weekend) and there was no one to interpret the history, ecology and geology of the site. I consider this to be the crown jewel of our state park system and I was expecting so much more. On Sunday, we hiked around Rock House and that trail had much less litter.
State parks are the lay person’s entry into nature. It the job of those who manage this INCREDIBLY VITAL RESOURCE to interpret it’s significance for visitors; to explain why it is important, how to engage with it safely and why is worth protecting.
I will save my rant about being allowed to hunt in state parks for another day.
Oh yeah, we did take some pictures too.
This list has been going around Facebook and I knew I wanted to put together my list. However, I also knew I needed a bit more time than a quick status update to put together just ten books!
- La casa de los espiritus by Isabel Allende: I read this in English in high school and in Spanish in college. This is book that made me fall in love with Allende and magical realism.
- Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy: My first thick Russian novel, but not my last. What a desperate, passionate love story and a wonderful entry point to Dostoevsky and Pasternak.
- The Red Tent by Anita Diamant: This is a radical re-telling of part of the book of Genesis, from Dinah’s perspective. I fell so hard for this book I devoted a 1000 word essay to it (no, you may not see it) and have sought out everything else by Diamant.
- Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston: What a beautiful voice. Hurston is incredible at building a real world with her writing.
- The Happiness Project by Gretchin Rubin: While I did read this recently, this non fiction book really challenged me to relish my blessings and make room for more of what makes me happy.
- Power and Powerlessness by John Gaventa: This is an academic look at why social movement spring up in some times and places but not other with ‘worse’ oppression. It is also the only time I devolved into a pile of angry tears in class because my rich suburbanite classmates just did not get it. [They still don't]
- The Unconquerable World by Jonathan Schell: This exploration of the history and place for non violence to make the will of the people known was essential for shaping some of my most deeply held beliefs. There is a way forward, one that does not include violence to solve all the worlds problems.
- The Giver by Lois Lowry: This was probably the first ‘sci fi’ book I picked up on my own and I adored the story. Something about ‘watching’ the world turn to color spoke to my pre-teen self.
- Across the Wide and Lonesome Prairie: The Diary of Hattie Campbell, The Oregon Trail, 1847 (Dear America Series) by Kristiana Gregory: This is the only book I have ever reread over a 100 times. I broke the binding.
- The Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling: ‘nough said.