List Love: Bust a Move, part 1

list love

Yesterday we went apartment hunting. It was dismal. Our best bet is a smallish three bedroom in a smaller apartment complex. We like the complex; it is in a safer area, close to work and there are trees and nice places to walk. The rent will be more than we are paying for our three-bedroom house, but it includes many of the utilities and the electric bill will be significantly less. We will have to downsize considerably, though. We went to a few other places and realized we either make too much ($3,000 too much per year for subsidized housing), too little (3/4 of my monthly paycheck for the “cheap” apartment option in the ritzy complex), or we will be living in a slummy, unsafe area (and Sam works nights, so, ummm, no). However, I’m not saying this to complain. I’ve had friends endure homelessness, foreclosures, and other life-suck events and they do it with their heads held high. This isn’t even a huge move, we’ll be moving about 10 minutes away from our current home. I’ve chosen to downsize for two to three years until we pay off our van, eliminate some debt, and find the right home to buy. So what’s the problem?

Change. I hate change. I know it is from my issues with anxiety, but I really like for my days to be scheduled, my to-do list to be clear, and chaos to be a non-issue. If we get this apartment we will move in just over a month. The month that is busiest at work and that has Sam two weeks into full-time, on-ground courses. My spidey-sense is telling me we need to do this now and especially before the holidays and we are making the jump.

How do I combat my anxiety with change and disorder? I plan like a mofo. Last night I journaled, browsed Pinterest for moving and decluttering tips, and then I made the mother of all prep lists. Even if we don’t get this apartment, we will still be moving – most likely – by the end of the year; I don’t foresee this planning going to waste. Instead of tackling the entire list at once, my goal is to do twelve things each week. For the rest of August, I’ll be sharing my list on Tuesdays and updating you all with my accomplishments.

Here is round 1:

  1. Visit leasing office
  2. Fill out rental application and pull necessary documents (W-2’s and current lease agreement)
  3. Check for application fee
  4. Make a list of large furniture items to ditch
  5. Make a list of needed furniture (replacing some broken or cumbersome items)
  6. Cull books. I need to go from 600+ to no more than 500. Use my collection development guide.
  7. Get rid of broken or baby toys
  8. Go through the little kids’ books and remove unloved or damaged books
  9. Declutter knick-knacks in the living-room (yes, that means my owls)
  10. Clear off piles on the entry table
  11. Haul off this week’s stuff to Goodwill
  12. Begin collecting boxes and newspaper at work

Sam has a list as well, but he isn’t freaking out because he is in denial sensible. Let’s do this!

Readerly Rambles: Trollope and an August TBR

readerly rambles

What I read: Doctor Thorne by Anthony Trollope rivals the very best Jane Austen has to offer. Doctor Thorne, our hero, is a good man. He is a good doctor and he really endeavors to make the right choice despite how it impacts his life. While Doctor Thorne is our hero and holds all the cards, so to speak, the plot really centers on Mary Thorne — the doctor’s niece — and Frank Gresham, Squire Gresham’s heir. Doctor Thorne has cared for the Gresham family for years and as a result Mary Thorne, who is illegitimate and poor, has grown up as a companion to the Gresham children. Of course Frank falls in love with Mary and the Gresham family is shocked and dismayed. Frank is to marry money to save the financially compromised family estate and Mary has neither money or rank. But what if Mary had money? How would things change? How important is blood and can money outweigh “bad blood?” This book was marvelous especially with the witty dialogue and the excellently drawn characters. I think I would classify Anthony Trollope’s novels as the perfect “gateway” to reading large Victorian novels. Side note, Frank and Mary reminded me of Fred Vincy and Mary Garth in Middlemarch. He is young and brash and she is all sense, but still in love. Anyone else feel that way?

What I’m reading: Tonight I plan on sinking into The Black Count: Glory, Revolution, Betrayal, and the Real Count of Monte Cristo by Tom Reiss. The Count of Monte Cristo is one of my most favorite classics and I’m looking forward to learning more about the inspiration for the novel. I also think it will be nice to read something under 400 pages and non-fiction. I need a change before I dig back into Trollope and George RR Martin!

What’s up Next: Behold! My August TBR!!!

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  • The Black Count: Glory, Revolution, Betrayal, and the Real Count of Monte Cristo by Tom Reiss.
  • A Clash of Kings by George R R Martin
  • In Cold Blood by Truman Capote
  • Born Reading : Bringing up Bookworms in a Digital Age by Jason Boog
  • Framley Parsonage by Anthony Trollope
  • All Joy and No Fun: the Paradox of Modern Parenthood by Jennifer Senior

Let’s hope August is a readerly month, because I have many books ready to go

Happy Reading!

 

Goodbye, July

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Despite the fact that I loathe the hot, humid weather I’ve had a pretty good month. I accomplished quite a bit:

  • The house is semi-organized! The new planner is a huge help and the chore charts seem to be working. We’ve taken several loads of junk to the Goodwill and I sorted out the kids clothes and determined what everyone needed for back to school. Oh yeah, and — miracle of miracles — the study is cleaned, organized and has stayed that way!
  • My marriage got stronger. We made some decisions on moving later this year and we had a few arguments that actually led to some great conversations that improved our relationships. Sometimes you need to freak out over a fruit cobbler to get the bigger things straightened out (long story).
  • I kicked Facebook to the curb which has been amazingly freeing. I may be a bit more active on Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest but it isn’t consuming me and it isn’t negative. As a result, I’ve spent more time with friends and family and I’ve had more time for reading, writing, and creating.
  • I found a blog “schedule” that has been working for me. I don’t post everyday, but there is a rhyme and reason to my posting and I find that my thoughts seem to be less scattered.

There have been other joys this month: cozy time with the kids, a date with Sam, outings with friends, thrifting, and so much coffee.

So what’s in store for August?

The big news is that Friday is Sam’s last day of full time work. On Monday he will be on a part time schedule and working at night. This means adjusting our budget and schedules. We’ve known about this change since May and that’s allowed us to save and plan so we’re ready. Sam works as a janitor right now, but he is attending school and majoring in Art Education with the goal of working with middle or high school students (he is especially interested in working with high-risk youth). He is able to attend university for FREE because of my employee tuition waiver. Free bachelor’s degree? Yes, please. He needs to take classes during the day and he would like to ramp up to full time so he can graduate sooner. So that is what we’re doing. He is a full time student and part time employee and I think it will work out well. He is also prepping for an art show in September and that will take a fair amount of time.

August is an odd month for me. It really feels like prep time for the academic year. In August the faculty return, the library gets busy, and we have loads of mandatory meetings, trainings, and “social” functions. Hope is starting high school in exactly one week, Atticus moves to the “big” side of the daycare and Persy will begin weaning (slowly, no cold turkey weaning). Lots and lots of changes and busyness. With all of that comes simple meals, shopping, streamlining tasks and work and home and treading water until September when everyone should be settled into a routine.

I guess this means that my goals for August include transitioning, accepting change, and surviving until September when I’ll be ignoring the warm weather, drinking Pumpkin Spice Lattes, and pretending it is autumn.

 

Readerly Rambles: On Choosing Books

readerly rambles

There is no shame in have a bounty of books at one’s disposal. None.

I constantly hear other book bloggers (and I do this as well) bemoan looming book piles. We constantly tell ourselves to limit book buying or to not check out too many library books and I — for the most part — think this is unnecessary. Now if you have a fire hazard in your home from hoarding or you aren’t paying your bills because you’re buying books then yes, too many books is a huge problem. But on the whole, having a lot of books isn’t a problem and we don’t need to make it one. I know that my kids see that I value books and part of that is from the fact that books are everywhere in our home; in fact, they notice when we go somewhere and folks don’t have books on the shelves. I know that buying from indie bookshops is vital to keeping local bookstores in our communities so for goodness sake don’t limit those purchases. As a library employee I can tell you that circulation stats can make or break a library; staff size, funding for programs and materials, and other key decisions are determined based on checkout stacks. If you love libraries then GO CRAZY. I don’t care if you turn right around and drop it back in the book return, if you see a book that you think adds value to the world then for the love of cheeses check it out. Do. Not. Hold. Back.

The problem isn’t so much the spending or the checking out. The problem, my friends, is READER’S ANXIETY. That awful feeling of panic that arises when one wants to read everything, right now, and as a result nothing clicks. I’ve tried many times to curb my reader’s anxiety. What I found most helpful is to rename it “reader’s enthusiasm” and find a way to manage that works for me.

So, how do I choose what to read when my home is filled with books, I have bookish friends lending me enticing reads, I work in a library filled with books, AND I’m the ILL manager meaning that I can request books from LIBRARIES AROUND THE GLOBE? Add to that, the ease of finding and ordering books cheaply and I’m in a bookish frenzy. Well, friends, I have half of an answer.

Yes, you read that correctly. I will be treating you to half an answer (note that this is different from a half-assed answer).

First of all I will tell you what does not work for me that seems to work for everyone else: Reading Challenges. I do really well on challenges that have plenty of wiggle room (i.e. read 5 Victorian novels or 12 books from the library or 3 mysteries). I do not, however, have luck with challenges that require a set list or that are really specific (i.e. pick 12 specific books, read from this list, or pick this one author). It doesn’t work for me. The exception would be if it is something I really love like Charles Dickens or Anthony Trollope or Harry Potter. I try my best to stick to the list, but I end up chucking it out the window.

Readalongs and “themed” months are also usually a bust. The exception would be something that I already really want to read. I did well with The Little Stranger and The Historian readalong, but floundered (pun intended) on Moby-Dick. Then there is the problem I have with needing variety in my reading. For example, I thought of participating in Austen in August, but I’m reading a lot of Trollope and I think they would be too similar. I also contemplated reading East of Eden, but I’m reading so many thick books (between George R R Martin and the Victorians I don’t think I have it in me for another thick book). I have to have some variety.

Below you’ll see my current, not very scientific system that has been working okay for the most part:

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This list changes often. About every month I reassess my plans and make adjustments. Case-in-point: I will finish every book I planned to finish in July with the exception of The Black Count. When I “reset” my list in August, I’ll start with The Black Count and work my way through to my series book for the month. This works out with the goal — not always met, mind you — of reading/listening to five books a month. One on my Kindle, one through ILL or from the library, one in a series (I have many series in my TBR), one from my stacks at home, and an audiobook. Thus far, things seem to be working. I don’t get overwhelmed and I can easily participate in themed months or the Classics Club spin by picking books from my stacks or library books.

HOWEVER, there is a tiny glitch. I am still really overwhelmed when I need to choose a book from my stacks. I’ve tried many ways to narrow down choices:

  • I tried pulling from 20 to 50 books for an “immediate” TBR pile. Inevitability I end up a few days later wanting something else.
  • I tried making reading from my stacks a “reading challenge,” which meant I wanted to read nothing on my shelves.
  • I tried to use a random number generator that ends up with me looking like a crazy person trying to count out to book 206 and then not liking the book and then either picking another number (defeats the purpose) or starting from the opposite end of my shelves.
  • I tried getting drawing little slips of paper from a jar.
  • I tried determining what I want to read. Do I feel Victorian-y, Virago-y, Modern-y, Speculative Fiction-y?

AGH!

What do the rest of you bibliophiles do? I know I’m weird, but I have trouble picturing folks just randomly picking the *right* book off the shelf. Let me know if you have any weird  different systems I could try. I’m thinking that I should at least *try* to pluck three to five books off the shelf and reading the first three pages of each to see which one sticks.

Happy Reading (or happy obsessing over TBR piles)

 

 

Kindred Spirits for the Win!

I’ve had the most wonderful, friend-filled days recently.

Yesterday I worked a half-day and then met up with my friend Melissa. Melissa and I worked at the same library two years ago and she is a classic movie lover, bibliophile, and dear friend. The last time I saw Melissa I was pregnant with Persy and she was embarking on a huge out of state move to take a new job. Now she is working in Georgia again and lives only an hour away. Yay! We enjoyed some Thai food and talked about families, libraries, and books. AFter a few hours at the Thai restaurant, we went to Starbucks for coffee, cookies, and more conversation. I am a ninny and forgot to take a picture (excepting a picture of my cookie, how lame is that?). I am hopeful we can make getting together a regular occurance.

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I”m so lucky, today I got to spend the day with another friend — Catherine. That’s right, today was Caturday. I made the trip out to Athens while Sam hung out with the kids at home. First we chilled at Catherine’s house. She gifted me a cookbook from the Goodwill, The New Vegetarian Epicure — and each recipe looks divine. She also copied out a top secret-mother-of-all-scones recipe that I am eager to try.

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After a bit at her house we decided to go thrifting. Our first round of thrifting was a bit dismal. I purchased The Duke’s Children by Anthony Trollope and a collection of Chekov stories, but I didn’t see much else. Then we went to the GAP outlet and I bought some clothes for the kids. An old skool Optimus Prime shirt for Atticus and pants, pjs, a sweater, and a tank for Persy Jane.

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Then it was time for lunch. We went to my FAVORITE place: The Grit. I had a veggie omellette, taters, biscuits with yeast gravy, and coffee. It was heavenly. Luckily our server today happens to write one of my most favorite blogs, Grits and Moxie. I was finally able to introduce myself to Jennifer (I’ve seen her there before but she is always super busy and I didn’t want to disrupt her and, frankly, I was afraid I would sound like a dork introducing myself). It was so nice to meet a blogger in person and as we left Jennifer said she would love for us to do a sort of blogger meetup over coffee. That will be super exciting to get to know her better and meet even more kindred spirits.

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After our brunch, Catherine and I popped into a new yarn shop, but it was a bit sparse. Then we went to my favorite indie bookstore: Avid Bookshop. I showed great restraint and purchased a Penguin journal and some notecards. I could have gone crazy.

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Then is was another bust of a thrift store and on to the Goodwill. I hit the motherload of books at the Goodwill. I tried looking for clothes for the kids as that was the entire reason for my thrifting in the first place, but the quality of the available clothes did not match what they were going for. So I bought books, like ya do; because the kids can wear books to school. You can see the awesome spoils from the Goodwill below:

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Score!!!

After a very busy day we had a chance to hangout at Catherine’s house for about a half-hour before I had to make the journey home. There never seems to be enough time when I spend time with the people I love!

I need to remember days like today and yesterday. I can get so wrapped up into my hermitude and focus only on books, work, and family. I need to remember that my friends fill me with such love, happiness, and inspiration. Cheers to kindred spirits!