I'm so excited today to announce that my 3-Day team captain / work wife and I have filled the SanBriego Etsy shop with a bunch of fall beanies!! We're crocheting more colors and styles at work everyday throughout Breast Cancer Awareness month and selling them in the shop for $16-$22 each. The best part? ALL of the proceeds from these hats will go to charity! We are still a ways away from our team goal of $18,400 and every little bit helps!
So if you're looking for a cozy, unique hat for this fall, please consider supporting the boobies and buying one from us. We'll take custom orders as well! Go buy some Beanies for Boobies!
If you're looking for a new place to go out tonight in San Diego or hit up for brunch tomorrow morning ($10 bottles of champy!), look no further than Wonderland Ocean Pub in Ocean Beach. With open air views that overlook the pier and the ocean, two large rooms featuring two bars, a pool table and a performance space, and ocean-themed decor, this spot is sure to blow up in the coming months.
We headed there for drinks last week after a late dinner and had a great time. I sipped their vodka mule, which they call a Street Fair Donkey, while listening to live music, watching the ocean, and enjoying a good conversation with Ryan and our favorite Ocean Beach resident, Ian. This space has so much potential and seems like the perfect place to catch football on Sunday.
Wonderland Ocean Pub
5083 Santa Monica Ave
(between Bacon St & Abbott St)
San Diego, CA 92107
When I moved into my first apartment in Connecticut back in 2007, I went on a cookbook shopping spree. My goal that year was to occupy myself after a breakup by teaching myself how to cook. On the weekends, I would sit on the couch, usually hungover, thumbing through the books looking for a recipe that sounded yummy and manageable given my tiny, decrepit kitchen and the shitty starter set of kitchen items I'd bought from Bed, Bath and Beyond.
What I found as I flipped through the books was that cooking the recipes within them was going to be a challenge. "Prep the charcoal grill" .... um, but I just have a gas stove and only one of the burners actually works? "Using a gallon-sized food processor" ... a what? "Place the ingredients into a dutch oven" .... hehehehe, I mean, do I have one of those? I was 21 and I didn't have the kitchen appliances or the spice rack or the knife set of a functional adult. The cookbooks mostly assumed that I knew basic cooking terms and that I liked fancy meats and seafood, which I don't. After a few all-around disasters, up they went on top of my fridge and collected dust while I ordered pizza, marathoned Sex and the City on repeat, drank a lot of White Zin and usually fell asleep on the couch.
Flash forward to this past August, when Ali Larter's cookbook "Kitchen Revelry: A Year of Festive Menus from My Home to Yours" came out. Ali who, you ask? Let me remind you of a little movie called Varsity Blues in which a pretty blonde girl shocks Dawson Leery's virginal sensibilities by walking up to him wearing nothing but a whipped cream bikini. THAT's Ali Larter. And you know what? She's an amazing cook.
Her cookbook is what I wish I had when I was trying to teach myself to cook that winter. If I had had it, I wouldn't have been scared off of cooking for the following four years. The book itself is beautiful, featuring mouth-watering photography of the food and snapshots from Ali's home life over the course of a year. The chapters are broken down by month and there are 2-3 seasonal themes for each month with half a dozen recipes or more in each theme. There are entrees and salads and baked goods and cocktails and all of them are meant to be made with things that women in their twenties actually own. Within the past month, I've made her Lagered Turkey Chili twice and Ryan and me almost died over her Ricotta Meatballs in Chianti Sauce.
I can't wait to try and tackle everything in this cookbook and I can't recommend it highly enough. Do yourself a favor and try her recipe for Lagered Turkey Chili (below) this weekend:
Lagered Turkey Chili
Yield: 6 to 8 servings
- 3 tablespoons chili powder
- 2 tablespoons ground cumin
- ½ teaspoon dried red chili flakes
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 3 cups chopped onion (about 2 medium onions)
- 2 cups chopped seeded green bell peppers (about 2 green bell peppers)
- 6 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
- 2 pounds ground turkey meat, white or dark
- 1 tablespoon dried oregano
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 1 tablespoon cocoa powder or 1 ounce dark chocolate, chopped
- 1 (12-ounce) bottle Guinness or lager beer
- 1 (14 ½-ounce) can diced tomatoes
- 2 (15 ½-ounce) cans kidney beans, rinsed and drained
- cheddar cheese
- green onions
2. Heat a heavy large nonstick pot over medium-high heat. Add the chili powder mixture to the pot and stir for 30 seconds to 1 minute until fragrant.
3. Add the oil to the pot, then add the onions, bell peppers and garlic and sauté until beginning to soften, about 5 minutes.
4. Add the turkey and sauté until no longer pink, about 5 minutes. Add the oregano, then the tomato paste, salt and cocoa powder; stir 1 minute.
5. Add the beer and simmer 5 minutes. Add the crushed tomatoes and the beans. Bring to a boil.
6. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer slightly covered until the flavors develop, about 30 minutes.
7. Serve with sour cream, grated cheddar cheese and sliced green onions.
Reprinted Source: New York Times
Notes: The second time around I used a couple more tablespoons of chili powder, one additional tablespoon of cocoa powder, and half as many beans and I think that's the way I like it.
I'm happy to say that these days I do have a food processor (the adorable Cuisinart Mini-Prep Food Processor) and it is a life saver. Everyone should own one. But if you don't, fear not. This is a cookbook that doesn't require you to have acquired a wedding registry's worth of tools to eat good food. You can watch a video of Larter making her Lagered Turkey Chili here and be sure to order her cookbook, "Kitchen Revelry: A Year of Festive Menus from My Home to Yours" for a year's worth of simple and savory recipes!
I finally got it together enough to actually go ahead and enter one of the rooms in our house in an Apartment Therapy contest and they chose it as a contestant in their Room for Color contest!
If there's one thing people know about me, it's that I love color. I think all rooms should be bright and cheerful or calming depending on what you use the room for. Our living room is for people to get some shade during BBQs and for us to hang out with the dogs and for dance parties after the bar. I love our living room and I especially love our door (which I covered in a DIY post), but after looking at the other entries I definitely wish I'd taken better pictures. I don't feel that I captured it as well as I could have, but that's given me more motivation to take some better pictures and put together a house tour. It's also given me motivation to spruce a few things up and finish decorating one of the walls.
Sidenote: The funniest/weirdest part of this contest so far has been the two comments that strangers posted immediately after the entry went live. Someone posted the opening lyrics to the Three's Company theme song ("Come and knock on our door...") and then a second person mentioned that they were just about to do that. This is noteworthy for three reasons:
- I was obsessed with Three's Company as a kid and am now questioning whether or not my whole decorating scheme subconsciously comes from that show.
- Without knowing this, Ryan always sings either the opening line to the Three's Company theme song or sings other things to the tune of it and therefore it is Stuck. In. My. Head. Constantly.
- We live down the street from a bar called The Reagle Beagle...
The rooms with the most votes move on to the finalist round. Go check out the rest of the pictures on Apartment Therapy and PLEASE VOTE TODAY!!!!!
Britney Spears's new song "Work Bitch" is a gift from the workout gods.
That is really all I have to say on this gorgeous Motivation Monday. Those headphones I'm listening to up there? They're playing "Work Bitch." Do you know what song I listened to approximately 57x on my runs this weekend? I listened to "Work Bitch." It's perfect. It's like a coach screaming at you the whole time you're working out only your coach is awesome and you know that if she can break down and shave her head and lose total control of her finances and two small children and still get her bangin' body back, then dammit, so can you. You just have to work for it. Bitch.
I feel good about my workouts this past week. I got back on the road twice in one week which is promising and both times I felt so relaxed after. It made me realize truly how much I need my runs. I was supposed to start CrossFit but conflicts caused the trainer to cancel class. That adventure starts this week. I got to bikram once and got Ryan to come with me on a 3-Day training walk as well. All of this coupled with a lot of healthy home cooking made this a successful kickoff to the marathon madness that is about to begin in a week or two.
9/16/13 - 9/22/13 Health and Fitness Stats:
- bikram x1
- ran 2 days for a total of 9 miles
- walked 4 miles for the 3-Day
At the time, 57 Degrees was fairly new to the neighborhood, a huge event space that boasted a small wine bar, occasional tapas, a variety of wines available for purchase, and wine storage. But they had big plans and that afternoon they told us about their Food Truck Fridays happening every 3rd Friday of the month. Since then I've made it a point to try and make it whenever I can.
Today, 57 Degrees is closed on Sundays, but Ryan and I still get there a fair amount, usually with the dogs to enjoy a drink on their patio. Plus, they've opened their arms and their taps to San Diego's favorite alcohol (I mean, after Fireball and before wine): craft beer. With The Brew Project, they now offer one of the largest selections of local craft beers on tap. They also expanded their menu, added a pool table and a space for regular wine and painting nights, and more seating options.
All this means that Food Truck Fridays have only gotten that much cooler. I had a chance to go with my coworker yesterday for happy hour and chowed down on Devilicious's Asparagus Grilled Cheese and Parmesan Truffle Fries. We also stopped by one of my favorite food trucks, Two for the Road, where my coworker picked up a lobster roll and I contemplated a Whoopie Pie for dessert. 57 Degrees's next "Third Friday Food Truck Extravaganza" is on October 19th. Check the calendar to see which trucks are confirmed and head over if you can!
If you've ever been inside a JoAnn's Fabric store, you know that there are literally thousands upon thousands of fabric patterns to choose from. The selection can be overwhelming and when you're a busy Etsy shop owner with a ten month old in tow, it is nothing short of an art form to be able to get in, get out and in the meantime, occasionally find a pattern in the haystack.
Cue Lindsay, the gorgeous and talented owner of Precious Smiles and Luna Lilac Paper Design. After stumbling upon her shop during one of my many Etsy binge sessions, I fell in love with Lindsay's taste in patterns, her obvious sewing talent, and her careful eye for color and design. Her fabric buckets make "functional" look trendy and her newborn hats and diaper clutches are perfect presents for any new mom. I asked Lindsay a couple of questions about her work over email and was thrilled when she offered a 15% discount for me to share!
How old were you when you got your first sewing machine?
Shockingly, I didn’t get my own sewing machine until about 5 years ago. It was given to me by my Aunt who does a lot of garage sale shopping. She found me a pretty decent sewing machine that is definitely ancient! It still works great though and I love it!
What was the first thing that you learned to sew?
I first learned to sew from my childhood best friend’s mother. She was like a second mother to me. She taught us to use a pattern and make doll clothes on the sewing machine. Before that, I would use my mom’s sewing box and hand sew all kinds of things out of old clothes and socks.
One of Lindsay's gorgeous fabric buckets in my favorite pattern!
What are the most important things that your crafts have to include?
I think of my friends and family and the rooms in their homes or their children and that's how I create a lot of my product designs. Also, I spend tons of time browsing fabric designer websites and picking out fabric combos and from there I decide what to make out of it.
Where do you love to shop for supplies?
I spend A LOT of time at JoAnn’s Fabrics buying the little things (thread, new needles, buttons, etc.) For my fabric, I go to the designer's pages and spend hours browsing and marking fabrics I like. Two of my favorite designers are Blake Riley and Alexander Henry.
Are there any crafty women (or men!) in your life who inspire you?
I did have a really great art teacher from grade school all the way until I left for college. She made art a big part of my life. I have always loved to create something out of nothing whether it be with paint, paper, ribbon, fabric, you name it! The blogs I like to read are usually not sewing related just because I spend so much time doing that I like to browse home and food blogs when I get the time. Shrimp Salad Circus, burlap + blue, and Skinny Taste are the top three I spend the most time looking at. As far as pinning goes, I am embarrassed to say I just started using Pinterest about a month ago! I do love it but I also find it a bit overwhelming. I could probably waste an entire day on there. (Editor's note: Couldn't we all?)
How do you carve out time to craft?
Hah. Well.. I have a ten month old son and when he naps it is craft time. However, that usually means I have a pile of laundry taller than me (and I’m pretty tall) and a sink full of dishes. The time I spend creating is very dear to me. My husband is very understanding. He lets me take the time to create and manufacture new products whenever I need and helps to pick up the slack around the house to keep life running.
Do you have a favorite snack to eat while you work?
The good part about crafting is that it doesn't leave much time for snacking!! I’m so busy lately sometimes I even forget to eat regular meals. The one thing I do need while crafting is my coffee. Around here, in Massachusetts, Dunkin Donuts is king and it is a rare instance you will find me without a cup of coffee next to my sewing machine.
What's next for your Etsy store?
I’m glad you asked! I am super excited to announce that I recently expanded and created a brand new Etsy shop for my graphic design products: Luna Lilac Paper Design. I only have a few so far but I am hoping to create an array of printable party decorations, invitations, and Thank You cards.
What do you want people to know about your products?
Every single thing I make I pour my heart into. It is really a long process between looking at fabrics and choosing from the thousands out there. Then actually designing and putting it together. I get so excited when someone buys something. But I get a little sad to see it go too, because I love all of the things I make.
One of the absolute best parts about starting this blog has been meeting really awesome people, both here in San Diego, and elsewhere around the country. Back in my early days of blogging, when I was 14 and used to stay up all night fixing code and drinking 2 Liters of Coke right out of the bottle, other bloggers were actually the people I was closest to. I loved getting on AIM late at night and chatting with friends (like my dear Hannah out in Kansas City) and it was such a welcome relief from the lameness that was high school. Finding a new community of bloggers in San Diego has reminded me that there are so many lovely, inspiring ladies (and dudes!) out there.
I had the pleasure of finally meeting one of these women in person on my very first blogger date (the cool kids call them blates) for Taco Tuesday last week. Jen, the incredible cook and writer behind Marshmallows and Margaritas, lives just up the 5 from me in Carlsbad. Since I work in Del Mar, we split the distance and found ourselves at Las Olas in Cardiff by-the-Sea.
Las Olas is situated on the other side of the highway, right across from the beach, so sitting on their patio means ocean views while you down house margs for $3.50. Jen and I got there around 4:30pm and grabbed a table on the patio without a problem.
Usually their happy hour goes until 6pm, but beer and food specials last all night on Taco Tuesdays. Their taco special is simple: a la carte fish tacos and carnitas tacos priced at $3.50. Unfortunately, this was a bit of a disappointment since I don't eat fish and rarely eat pork. So I did the Classic Combo special ($2 off during happy hour) which is one crispy taco and one enchilada with two sides (cabbage, rice, or beans - I got double rice). The chicken enchilada was good (though it had a lot of dark meat) and I was so stuffed from that and the rice that I barely ate my crispy taco. I did like the crispy taco shell though. After all, I'm more used to an Americanized / Tex Mex style of Mexican than I am the soft tortilla tacos that are served here.
The view from our table.
An eclectic mix of families, teens and young professionals started to trickle for their own Taco Tuesdays just as Jen and I were finishing and it was yet more proof of how laid back people in Cardiff seem to be. Watching the sun go down, it's nights like this that I sometimes wish Ryan and I lived in North County, close to the beach.
I could easily have spent the night soaking up more of their drink specials ($1 off drafts and wine), staring at the ocean and enjoying the great conversation with Jen, if not for the 25 minute drive back home. Overall the food was pretty standard but filling, making the best part about this Taco Tuesday option the pretty views and the relaxed vibe. But the best part of the night was meeting Jen and making an awesome new friend in North County! Don't forget to visit her blog, Marshmallows and Margaritas, to try some of her tasty recipes!
2655 South Coast Highway 101
Cardiff by-the-Sea, CA 92007
Phone: (760) 942-1860
I can't believe there's only nine weeks left until the 3 Day! It's been a crazy summer of planning and fundraising and I am so touched by all the support from people I haven't even met.
For most people, the 60 miles of walking within 3 days is the intimidating part. But for me, it was raising money. I've never raised more than $300 before and I've definitely never been comfortable asking anyone for anything. For that reason, this experience has been an experiment in courage and creativity. Selling ads on this blog, offering to redo resumes in exchange for donations, crocheting beanies to (eventually) sell in my Etsy shop... these are all the things that I've been up to this summer. And even though I didn't meet my end of summer goal ($1,500), I feel pretty good about what I have raised and what we have coming up.
Half of my team is comprised of coworkers (the lovely ladies pictured with me above) and we are working now to put together a work fundraiser for October (which is Breast Cancer Awareness Month). I feel pretty confident that the fundraiser will contribute a decent amount to my goal. Marisa (far right) is our team captain and working with me on our lunch breaks to crochet beanies for the shop and I just learned about a great way to raise even more money through companies with matching gifts policies. So I'm on my way. But still. Nine weeks!
You know what nine weeks also means? I better get walking.
Although I wasn't scared by the walking at first, as we get closer, I'm starting to feel a little intimidated by the thought of walking 2+ marathons in one weekend. Also, to be honest I wasn't very good about my health OR fitness last week. School is now in full swing and my current class slammed me with a paper this past week on top of our regular classwork, so I've been more or less buried. But this week I start CrossFit (more on that next Monday!) and have a couple of walks and runs planned. My little fitness break is officially over.
I have so much gratitude for the people who have donated or shown their support for this initiative and I plan on thanking each of them in a separate post following the 3 Day. But for those who have contributed and read this blog, please know that each of your donations has made me so emotional and kept me motivated to keep on this sometimes awkward, sometimes tough journey knowing that it will have a really great impact in the end.
If you would like to donate, please click the link in the right hand column under "Donate" to reach my personal page.
In Connecticut and New York, going to get "Mexican" food was an extremely rare occurrence. Usually what it really meant was going to get margaritas. I had my staples: Viva Zapata is one of my all-time favorites, located in Westport, CT; in Manhattan, I went to Rosa Mexicano for fancy work lunches and El Cantinero for their insane happy hour that was made for alcoholic grad students like me ($3 margaritas + free appetizers). But none of those places really inspired me to crave Mexican food more often.
In San Diego, for obvious reasons, Mexican food is part of everyday life. There's two Mexican restaurants for every pizza joint that exists in New York (disclaimer: that is not founded on any facts) and there is a wonderful little tradition known as Taco Tuesday.
Taco Tuesday is when taco and drink specials abound. It is a magical night of the week to go get your guacamole on, engage in workday binge drinking and have a lot of fun with friends. I love exploring new places for Taco Tuesday so much that I've decided to make it a new weekly feature here on the blog. After all, this is a major part of the San Diego lifestyle. ;)
Today's Taco Tuesday recommendation is Barrio Star in Banker's Hill. The last time we were there they were installing a patio rail around the outside so this Balboa Park-adjacent eatery is about to get that much better.
Inside, the decor is really fun with a bit of a Dia de los Muertos vibe. There's a lot to look at. The restaurant manages to be cozy without being crammed, which I enjoyed, but it does get crazy as the Taco Tuesday crowd rolls in for their awesome specials. Vegetarian, meat, and fish tacos are priced a la carte at $3-$3.50 each with drink specials each week.
I opted to start with some chips and salsa, a cup of their Chicken Tortilla Soup, and a Pomegranate Margarita. The soup looked absolutely delicious but was a bit disappointing - just too bland. Next up were my tacos and I decided to try their chicken taco and the organic potato taco. Their chicken taco was just ok, but their potato taco was verrry tasty. It was almost too perfect a companion for drinking, especially since we live within walking distance. Both were filling despite their size.
I ordered a Skinny Margarita with dinner and was surprised and happy to have the waitress recommend that I go with their house margarita with less sweetener instead. I'm not sure how this worked or whether that meant they used less premade mix, but I'm always appreciative when I hear the truth from servers. I closed the night with some of their yummy flan, which is a must.
Overall, Barrio Star offers pretty decent food and a slightly more formal atmosphere for Taco Tuesday - great for a date or night out with co-workers or family. Absolutely use OpenTable to make reservations if you want a seat during their Taco Tuesdays and tweet me @SanBriego to let me know if you go!
2706 5th Ave
San Diego, CA 92103
Phone: (619) 501-7827
It's been a looooooong time since I have run a 5K race. In fact, I can't really think of any that I've done. Is that possible? Our meets in high school were 5Ks though (I think?), so if that's the last time I've run one, it's been 10 years. But after the marathon it seemed like a good idea to ease back into racing at the end of the summer with a fun little 5K. The thought was that even a 3.1 mile race would be motivation enough to start running again after hitting running burnout during marathon training. That thought was wrong.
The starting line crowd.
Basically... I did not run all summer (well, maybe once or twice). I wasn't motivated to even do speed work for this and challenge myself that way. And I guess it was a good thing I didn't because, as I quickly learned is the case with these fad-y 5Ks, this was not a race for runners. I should note that there were two starting waves, one at 7:30am and one at 8am and I signed up for the 8am wave (c'mon, it's a Saturday morning), so that was probably my first mistake if I wanted to take the run seriously.
Well apparently a 5K is a pretty approachable and fun activity for non-runners to get dressed up in silly themed outfits and enjoy some outdoor fitness with friends. I have nothing against that. Actually, I think it's great. Will I sign up for another one anytime soon though? Not a chance. Although the Aloha 5K was a well organized race on a beautiful and humid morning at Mission Bay, there was a major flaw: they had 500+ people running out AND back on one sidewalk. As our race wave poured out of the starting line, we had hundreds of people taking up the sidewalk while the 7:30am finishers were coming back. If I was one of them, I would have been incredibly annoyed. As it was, I was annoyed with the people I passed in my wave on the way back who, as I realized, have no concept of runner's etiquette since most of them probably aren't runners.
I know I sound upset, but I'm really not. I understand that this was a fun event and the people behind it made it really enjoyable with some dancers and musicians along the course and a luau breakfast after. Plus the proceeds went to a great charity, greenbeach, which provides housing for veterans with disabilities.
My time was totally shitty, but since I was forced to walk in sections from the sheer mass of people around me, I didn't take it too seriously. The crowd was great and I met some really nice, happy people including these guys who talked their way into a picture with me. ;)
Most importantly though, I was right about it being a good race to get me back into the groove post-marathon. I realized how much I missed the runner's world of camaraderie that I felt like I was surrounded by during marathon training. Lately, I've also been missing how in shape marathon training got me. I mean, realllly missing that.
Cue Sunday afternoon, about a bottle of champagne into football. While procrastinating MBA homework, I started looking up winter marathons in San Diego and, lo and behold, I learned that the Carlsbad marathon is January 19, 2014.
Back in the day, getting drunk and making bad decisions meant really terrible embarrassing things. Nowadays, apparently I just sign up for marathons.
Yep. I signed up for my second marathon.
I swore up and down to anyone who would listen that I was one and done with marathons unless I worked up the motivation to register for one of a handful of races that I think would be awesome to run (Big Sur, NYC, London, etc.). Part of me knew that probably wasn't true, but I thought the louder and more open I was about my retirement from marathon running, the more likely I would convince myself to never do it again. I undid all of that with one bottle of Barefoot Bubbly.
I'm still not sure how I feel about this decision and I'm sure when I come to terms with what I've done, I will have a lot to say about the various challenges and fears that come along with running a second marathon and training in the winter months. But I'll save those for a later Motivation Monday, when I need the motivation to disregard them....
What have I done!!??!
9/2/13 - 9/8/13 Health and Fitness Stats:
- completed the Aloha 5K with an official time of 0:34:29
See that smile? That is what I look like when I'm accomplishing a lifelong daydream. Ever since I can remember I've had an obsession with the ocean, Southern California, Hawaii, surfing and surf culture. Picture 8-year-old me sneaking over to the thermostat to turn the heat up to 80 degrees so that I could run around in my bathing suit while it was snowing outside. The best part is: I can't even swim. Really.
But I'm working on it, in my own backwards way. I have a "shoot first, aim later" approach to most things in life and surfing is now one of them. My thought is that if I get comfortable "surfing" (balance, strength, paddling, form) in shallow water, I'll be more motivated to learn how to swim so I can get better at surfing. My dad is not a fan of this idea on account of him thinking that I should learn the basics, like how not to drown, before taking on the Pacific Ocean, but this is just how I do things. It hasn't failed me yet and, fingers crossed, it never will.
I've had two surf lessons now, including the one in these pictures which are from my first lesson about a month ago. During my first lesson I stood up on my board for about .04 seconds and Ryan, my super hot surf instructor, got it on camera, as you can see below. And during my second lesson, I actually caught my first wave! It was an incredible feeling... just taking everything in around me for a few seconds while the ocean did the work. I finally got the pictures developed today (we took a disposable waterproof camera out to the ocean) and I couldn't wait to finally get them up.
I can't even tell you how much I'm looking forward to writing about this whole experience going forward: about learning to surf, learning to swim, learning how to cope with deltoid and tricep soreness from having absolutely no upper body strength, and all the revelations that come from fighting your fears, chasing your dreams, and spending time in the ocean. If you've ever wanted to learn how to surf as badly as I do, hopefully these posts will help convince you to try. If a 27-year-old who can't swim can start learning, so can you. Dude.
I need a book light. Or *sigh* an e-reader. I'm nine months into 2013 and I haven't even broken double digits on my #50Books. And I think I've figured out why: I have no way to read in bed in the dark. Because let's face it: my 27-year-old eyes don't have the same superhuman vision as my 11-year-old eyes did. Take Monday night for example. I woke up at 3:30am, something I tend to do when my room feels like it's consumed in hell flames, and could not fall back asleep. I could have gotten a ton of reading done in those 3 hours before I had to get ready for work, but instead I surfed the internet on my phone and refreshed Facebook and Instagram a dozen times before accepting the fact that no one else was awake. Unproductive.
This past month I read an incredible book and a, well, sort of credible one? The incredible book of course, was "Southern Cross the Dog" written by one of my favorite people, the genuinely wonderful Bill Cheng. When I was writing my summary of Bill's book for this blog in my head, by default I started to throw in the Hunter disclaimer that I usually do for my excellent former classmates and professors: something about my bias and a humblebrag about how I actually know these talented people with published novels. But it felt wrong and fake for Bill, since there is no bias. There is simply the truth: that he wrote a shockingly beautiful book showcasing his excruciating talent.
Southern Cross the Dog by Bill Cheng - I haven't read a book like this in a long time. For that matter, after reading SCTD, I think it's safe to say that I haven't read ANY books in long time. Actual books. Because this, this is a BOOK, the kind that gives you chills and makes you think, even if its mostly thoughts about how you wish you could be that talented of a writer. Southern Cross the Dog is a novel set in 1920s and 40s Mississippi, following the flood. And while the writing fully immerses you in that world, the themes don't tie you down there. This isn't a book about the 20s and 40s South. In my opinion, this isn't even a historical novel. Instead, SCTD is a ghost story about the things that haunt us and the ever-looming fearful anticipation for that point when they'll make themselves known in our lives. One of the book's most effortlessly achieved endeavors was to, in the words of Bill himself, "just communicate this feeling of what it's like to feel like you have no choice, to feel like the things that happen to you happen because of how the universe wants to use you." It's a timeless sentiment that many people can relate to at some point in their lives and Bill's ability to explore that within such dazzling pages is extraordinary. It took me all summer to finish this novel, mostly because of how much I had to put it down and think about it, but also because I didn't want it to be over. Expect greater than great things from Bill Cheng.
I'm Only Here for the WiFi by Chelsea Fagan - What this book is: The perfect present to give people between the ages of 19 and 24. This is a book that they will actually read and enjoy, and hopefully, after they finish, will find themselves able to breathe a sigh of relief. What this book is not: the collection of fresh essays with even a glimpse of depth or the novel that I've been waiting for Chelsea Fagan to write. Fagan, she of Thought Catalog fame, is a good writer. I enjoy her immensely. In my opinion, she could stand to shed some of her New York-centric paradigms (something I hope, but doubt, she'll do in Paris) and sure, she sometimes tries too hard to come across as the person she thinks she's supposed to be, rather than the person she is (which is a hallmark of her age), but I think she has talent and she's certainly a lot more disciplined in her chosen craft than some of her peers. While I hope (and believe) we'll see more from her and though I think this was a necessary first step career-wise, overall, WiFi is a letdown. But on the scale of letdowns, this is more like a really nice one done in person at a boutique coffee shop, not sent at 4am in an incoherent text message.
'50 Books' Progress: 9/50