Currently … September 21, 2014

September 21, 2014 Miscellaneous 2

Currently

Time // 7:36 PM

Place // Home

Eating // I fried some chicken eggs earlier and had a couple pieces of cheese with it. I am regretting this. I’ve had a migraine all day and the stomach is decidedly queasy. It did not like the eggs. Or the cheese. Or possibly both.

Yes, I ate something I shouldn’t have. No need to lecture, my stomach is doing enough of that, believe me!

Drinking // Water. It’s all I can stand.

Reading // Not much. Light is killing my eyes today. I’ve been drawing some, in low light. It felt good to get a pencil in my hand again. Thank you Beth!

Watching // I watched a documentary on Alaska last night. Or, rather, I tried too. I actually fell asleep.

Listening // Was listening to Spotify earlier. A “Girl’s Night Out” playlist. I SO need new music.

Pondering // Blogging. Reading. Readathoning. Migraines. What my stomach is telling me. What my stomach ALWAYS tells me after I have something with gluten in it. I am so hardheaded.

Hating // Gluten. My head.

Loving // Drawing. The cool night air. My crazy daughter who just prank called me to ask me (in a posh English accent) if I wanted to go to a tea party.

Anticipating // Tomorrow. Back to work! I love my new job so much!

Have a great week!

 

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Weekend Inspiration – Week 1

September 20, 2014 Books 5

I’ve been feeling the creativity bug biting at me all week. There is just something about cooler weather and fall. I want to start creating again! Here are a few of the images that have captured my mind this week. I need to go pick up a pen, some pencils, paper, etc, etc.

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Nikita Gill at Behance

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Beach Baby Blues on Etsy

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Drops Props on Etsy

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Drops Props on Etsy

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Ankita Arvind at Behance

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Patrick Simons at Behance

Obviously, I can waste a lot of time at Behance and Etsy and I’m in a spooky mood! Have you seen anything this week that has inspired you?

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Thoughts on Robot Dreams by Sara Varon

September 19, 2014 Book Reviews, Books 8 ★★★★½

Thoughts on Robot Dreams by Sara VaronRobot Dreams
by Sara Varon
Published by First Second
on August 7, 2007
Genres: Fantasy, Graphic Novel
Pages: 208
Format: Paperback
Source: Purchased
Goodreads
Buy the Book
four-half-stars
Richly endearing and full of surprises, Robot Dreams follows an ill-fated friendship between a dog and robot. After a Labor Day jaunt to the beach leaves Robot rusty and immobilized in the sand, Dog, unsure what to do, abandons him. As the seasons pass, Dog tries to replace his friend, making and losing a series of new ones, from a melting snowman to epicurean anteaters. Meanwhile, Robot passes his time daydreaming, escaping to better places...Through interwoven journeys, the two characters long to recover from their day at the beach. 

Although its adorable characters and playful charm will win over young readers, Robot Dreams speaks universally to the fragile nature of friendship, loss, and redemption.

There is something magical about an effective story told with no words. Pixar, Shaun Tan, and now Sara Varon, have moved me beyond measure with their work that uses art instead of words. Looking at that cover…I don’t know about you, but my immediate thoughts are that this is a kids book. And yes, it is. My daughter enjoyed it. However, it is one of those books that is deceptive. It looks simple. It IS simple. But the story…it packs a punch.

The reason this story works for me is, even though it is fantastical (at least for me it is. Do you own a robot? A walking, human-like dog? If so, were do you get such things???), it is relatable. The dog. He is lonely. He wants a friend. So he buys a robot. He puts him together. He has a friend! So they go to the beach. And something bad happens. The pair are separated. Feelings are hurt. Actions are regretted. Through no fault of the dog, more like a lack of knowledge, the robot is hurt. Irreparably.

Kids can relate. I can relate. You can, probably, relate.

And it sounds sad. But no. No! It is beautiful!

Through this mistake, the dog and the robot learn. The dog learns from his mistakes. He comes to know himself better and changes based on the hurt he caused himself and his robot. In turn, the robot also learns. As he lays there, daydreaming is days away, he learns about himself and changes based on the hurt he received. They become better “people.” A lesson for everyone, not just children.

Again, I stand amazed at the power in this tiny book with no words. And Sara Varon has a diehard new fan. First Second is such a terrific publisher!

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To Routine, or Not to Routine

September 16, 2014 Books 14

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As part of my quest to “figure this shit out,” I’ve been reading the book Amanda from Fig and Thistle referred to in her post about this blogging malaise/pandemic that has hit our small community as of late. Called Daily Rituals: How Artists Work, author Mason Currey has taken it upon himself to cull the work practices of some of the world’s most famous authors, painters, composers, philosophers, psychologists…basically anyone who is somewhat creative for a living.

Y’all, this book is surprisingly interesting and insightful! So many interesting people are included too. Currey has culled letters, books, and other ephemera to find the work ethics of artists both long gone (Austen, Mozart, Toulouse-Lautrec, Freud, Hugo, Kafka and more) and current (Murakami, Toni Morrison, Patricia Highsmith Gershwin, Philip Roth, and more). And there is one thing that stands out to me, and dude, I’ve only read 28% of this book.

There is no wrong way. There is no right way. There is only YOUR way.

Currey writes in the introduction:

How do you do meaningful creative work while also earning a living? Is it better to devote yourself wholly to a project or to set aside a small portion of each day? And when there doesn’t seem to be enough time for all you hope to accomplish, must you give things up (sleep, income, a clean house), or can you learn to condense activities, to do more in less time, to “work smarter, not harder,” as my dad is always telling me? More broadly, are comfort and creativity incompatible, or is the opposite true: is finding a basic level of daily comfort a prerequisite for sustained creative work?

Isn’t Aren’t those the questions of the ages?

Currey makes it clear where he stands:

A solid routine fosters a well-worn groove for one’s mental energies and helps stave off the tyranny of moods.

Could this be my problem? But, then, witness my reaction to Auden:

“Routine, in an intelligent man, is a sign of ambition,” Auden wrote in 1958. If that’s true, then Auden himself was one of the most ambitious men of his generation. The poet was obsessively punctual and lived by an exacting timetable throughout his life. “He checks his watch over and over again,” a guest of Auden’s once noted. “Eating, drinking, writing, shopping, crossword puzzles, even the mailman’s arrival-all are timed to the minute and with accompanying routines.”

Doesn’t that sound like the worst way to live? Yet, when compared to Frances Bacon,

To the outside observer, Bacon appeared to thrive on disorder. His studios were environments of extreme chaos, with paint smeared on walls and a knee-high jumble of books, brushes, papers, broken furniture, and other detritus piled on the floor. (More agreeable interiors stifled his creativity, he said.) And when he wasn’t painting, Bacon lived a life of hedonistic excess, eating multiple rich meals a day, drinking tremendous quantities of alcohol, taking whatever stimulants were handy, and generally staying out later and partying harder than any of his contemporaries.

Well, that doesn’t really sound like anyway to live either!

Although maybe more fun.

I’m thinking I like Anne Beattie’s way of thinking:

She doesn’t write every night, however. “I really don’t adhere to schedules at all, and don’t have the slightest desire to do that,” she said. “The times that I’ve tried that, when I have been in a slump and I try to get out of it by saying, ‘Come on, Ann, sit down at that typewriter,’ I’ve gotten in a worse slump. It’s better if I just let it ride.”

and later:

“I certainly am a moody and, I would say, not very happy person.”

This made me chuckle.

I’m looking forward to reading what more artists and such have to say. I’ll report back if anything interesting pops up. I just had to share these thoughts early, because I find them so interesting right now. I think I know where I fall on the spectrum, but more research is always good.

*I am an Amazon affiliate and yada yada yada, you know the drill.

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Top Ten Tuesday – I Really Need to Read More by These Ladies

September 16, 2014 Meme 10

Today’s top ten Tuesday topic is Top Authors I’ve Only Read One Book From But NEED to Read More. I decided to just do these ladies, because, well, coincidence. Anywho.

1. A. S. Byatt, Possession. (not a review, but close) Egads y’all. Byatt is up there with Atwood for me, who, I was surprised to realize, I HAVE read more than one book by. Atwood I mean, not Byatt. I’ve only read the one, even though I’m pretty sure I own all of her books. Or at least most of them. I LOOOOOOOOVE Possession. I’ve read it multiple times. (Skip the poetry.) So, I’m not sure why I haven’t read another book by her. Intimidation?

2. Marie Brennan, A Natural History of Dragons. (haven’t reviewed. bah.) I had a feeling Marie Brennan would be a fun read. Geez, I have like 4 of her books, have that a couple of them for YEARS. But then this one came out, and I hemmed and hawed, until I finally listened to it. And lo and behold, I WAS RIGHT. She is a fun read. So why haven’t I read the FOUR I ALREADY OWN? Gah.

3. Diana Wynne Jones, Howl’s Moving Castle. (my review) Oh, Miss Jones. What kept us apart for so long? And WHY have I only read Howl’s Moving Castle? We must remedy this situation.

4. Angela Carter, Wise Children. (review from a LONG time ago) This. THIS. THIS is seriously embarrassing. Angela Carter is practically my most favorite author I’ve hardly read. And I own so many of her books? WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME. I’ve read Wise Children twice, and, granted, it is brilliant, it can’t be the only Carter I ever read.

5. Jhumpa Lahiri, The Interpreter of Maladies. (my review, another TRULY old one.) In my review, I said, “When I grow up, I want to write like this woman.” I still want to write like this woman. I would also like to find time to actually READ her. Now is a good time to do it too, with A More Diverse Universe going on!

6. Elizabeth Hand, Illyria. (my review) I just adored this book. Hand’s writing is something to behold. Or beheld. AGAIN.

7. Daphne du Maurier, Rebecca. (never reviewed? OMG!) Rebecca is one of those books I wish I could read again for the first time. I loved it SO MUCH. And I need to LOVE MORE by her!

8. Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice. (never reviewed? What is wrong with me??) Surely you know the fun and wit of Jane Austen. I’ve heard all her books are like this. However, I think I have a deep seeded fear than none will compare to P&P.

9. Natasha Solomons, Mr. Rosenbaum Dreams in English. (review) I can clearly remember how completely delighted I was with Mr. Rosenbaum. I was determined to read everything Solomons wrote after I read it. I even have the newer books. I feel like I’m repeating myself.

10. Jane Yolen, Briar Rose. (my review) I loved, LOVED I TELL YOU, Briar Rose. I loved it. Yolen’s writing suits the fairytale motif like magic. And she has written SO MUCH. It kind of reminds me of how I feel about Diana Wynne Jones…where do I begin????

Which authors have you only read one book from? Are you regretting it?

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It’s Monday! What Are You Reading This Week?

September 15, 2014 Books, Meme 12

So, in this first post with my new blogging sensibilities, I’m going old school. So no graphics. This is like my early years of blogging, like, almost 10 years ago! It feels SO GOOD. Seriously, making pretty pictures can stress me out.

So, y’all. As I contemplated all the things this weekend, I also did a bit of reading. You see, I went to the library for the FIRST TIME since CHRISTMAS last year and got some books. Which means I got graphic novels. So, when I finally finished Will Storr vs. the Supernatural, which was great, perfect RIP read, highly recommended, and yes he comes to a conclusion, no I’m not telling you what it was, I went on a mini-graphic novel binge. I read, in quick succession: BLUFFTON by Matt Phelan (OMG I LOVE HIM), BATTLING BOY by Paul Pope, and ROBOT DREAMS by Sara Varon. Bluffton was exactly what I expect from Matt Phelan, which is a touching story with AMAZING art. Battling Boy was a great story, and not so great art. Sorry, just not a fan of the art. Robot Dreams was absolutely charming and now I want to read everything Sara Varon does. Just like Matt Phelan. Did I mention I love him?

I love him.

In other readings, I’m still working through the book on childhood anxiety. But in other news, I think I figured out part of the girl’s problem. Her best friend moved a couple hours away and she was missing her! She didn’t even realize it, until I set her up with texting on her Touch. Now they are talking all the time again and she has been so much more like her old self. You can imagine my relief.

Since I finished the Will Storr, I need another RIP book. I haven’t figured out what that book is yet.

In the meantime, I started a book of short stories by Neil Gaiman; Smoke & Mirrors. The first story, hidden in the introduction is a brilliant play on The Picture of Dorian Gray and marriage. I LOVED IT. I love him. Come to think of it, this might fit in the RIP parameters…. Hm….

Now that A More Diverse Universe has started (YAY!!!!), I plan to start a book by a person of color. Like, as soon as I get off the computer. I will report back on that later.

How was your weekend? What are you reading this week?

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Hosted weekly by super-awesome Sheila from BookJourney.

 

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How Do You Solve a Problem Like Blogger Burnout?

September 14, 2014 Books 17

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Firstly, I want to thank everyone who took the time to comment, email, and otherwise comfort a very high strung Heather last week. Your words meant the world to me and reinforced what I needed to know where true; I can’t leave this community. Not for a minute. And thank you to all of those who wrote posts on the virus that seems to be spreading throughout the book bloggerdom, especially Amanda at Fig and Thistle, Andi and Estella’s Revenge,  and Shannon from River City Reading.

So this leaves me with some work to do, which is, mainly, figure out how to make this work. I’m afraid if I take a hiatus to figure out my schedules, my schedules might wind up not finding the time to write. So, I have to lay a few ground rules. These is my plans:

1) Find the time in unusual places. Write in unusual ways.

1a) Get your butt up earlier in the morning. I may feel boa-constricted by routine (yuck), but I have to give it a try.

1b) Post whenever a post is ready. Quit worrying about making that special midnight post time. If the post is for Tuesday and it’s not ready until 3:00, go ahead and post it. Or like right now, at 8:10 on Sunday night.

1c) Go back to pen and paper. I used to write up a lot of my posts before I typed them up. This worked well. I don’t know why it fell to the wayside. There is now a notebook and a few pens in my reading spot. Note takings have already begun.

TWO) Stop stressing if a review book gets read and/or written up or not. I just can’t deal. It literally crashes my reading.

3) Stop trying to follow a formula. I just can’t write that way and shouldn’t have to. I’m gonna write from the heart, damn the consequences. Write for myself and hope everyone else, how ever many there may be, enjoys it.

D) FREE RANGE READING. It rules, yo. If it ain’t catching on, I WILL throw it at the wall. Figuratively, of course. Well, unless it deserves it. I’m looking at you Beatrice and Virgil.

and 5) Embrace the blogging and freaking have fun.

OH, and SIX. STOP CHECKING THE STATS.

So, sorry y’all. Yer stuck wif me. And thank you again, from the bottom of my anxiety-ridden heart for the love and support. And thanks for sticking with me on this journey.

Photo credit: Flickr

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The Brain Needs to Purge

September 10, 2014 Books 18

I have so many thoughts going around in my head, whenever I sit down at my computer. I hardly know where to begin. I know earlier in the week, I sounded hopeful that I would adjust to my new schedule, that I would find the time to blog, and things would go on like they were.

And then I find myself wondering what’s the point. I can’t find the time to blog. I can’t find the time to read. And I find myself without the interest in much of anything to do with the computer, blogging, or read. I can’t seem to find The Sparrow interesting, NOT for lack of trying. Tiny Beautiful Things only holds my attention for about 1 story. I’m enjoying Will Storr vs. the Supernatural, yet here I am, as I have been for a couple of hours, goofing off on the internets instead of reading.

What gives?

I can’t decide if it’s the beginnings of a slump, dissatisfaction with what I’m reading, or just a general life malaise.

And now, after Andi’s post yesterday, I almost didn’t even write this up. Because I can’t even find it in me to blog. I have two half-reviews written and I didn’t care to finish them up. Because who cares. No one reads them. My hits have plunged in the last few years. I do good to break 100 hits a day now. I’m boring. Blogging is boring. I don’t want reading to become boring too.

I’m not sure where this train of thought is leading. That’s a lie. Yes, I do. It sounds like I want to quit, doesn’t it?

I don’t really want to quit. But I’m not sure I want to keep going the way I’m going. And no, I’m not looking for comments. I just needed to get this out. See, even at this point, I wonder what is the point in posting even this? Does anyone even care? I may NOT even post this, but just for the moment, let my brain purge, because it needs to. It needs to find the reason, the desire, the POINT, of continuing on. I know I would miss it. I know I would still read other blogs.

Maybe I just need a break.

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It’s Monday! What Are You Reading This Week?

September 8, 2014 Books, Meme 13

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Y’all. It’s another one of those days. I have to check the ole Goodreads to see what I’m reading because I HAVE NO IDEA.

And I totally just typed that is DIEA.

So, what am I reading? The one book I know for sure, because it’s the one I’ve been concentrating on, is Will Storr vs. the Supernatural by Will Storr. It’s pretty interesting. This guy, Will Storr, decides to investigate ghosts and the supernatural and decide for himself if it is real or not. He’s British, so he’s interviewing all the ghost societies and such. It’s obviously for RIP IX.

I just started listening to The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell for Trish’s read along yesterday. I haven’t gotten very far into it yet, but I’ve made it farther than I’ve ever made it while trying to read it. So, progress! I finished Marina by Carlos Ruiz Zafon Friday and OMG it was so creepy and good.

I’m still working through the book The Opposite of Worry: The Playful Parents Approach to Childhood Anxiety and Fear by Lawrence Cohen. As someone who has had lifelong anxiety and fear issues, you’d think I’d know how to handle this. Of course, I honestly never thought I would have to. I thought my issues were a result of my early childhood experiences. My daughter has had a much more stable and relatively calm life compared to mine. It’s looking like this may be a hereditary thing, as she’s starting to exhibit all the same symptoms I have. Will that dreaded P word coming on (PUBERTY!! AHHHH!!!!), I’m afraid this is the tip of the iceberg. This book has been great though, and we’re making progress on helping her learn how to control and deal with these feelings. Score one for Mama!

Lastly, I’m still working through Tiny Beautiful Things by Cheryl Strayed. I can only read a couple letters at a time, because most just break my heart. Talk about giving yourself fear and anxiety! Reading this book could do it!

On tap for me: getting into The House on Haunted Hill by Shirley Jackson more, some more nonfiction (not sure what yet), and gearing up for A More Diversiverse soon! I also really want to read The Shadow Hero by Gene Luan Yang and Sonny Liew before I have to take it back to the library.

On a more personal front, MY BABY TURNS SEVEN ON WEDNESDAY. SEVEN. We had his birthday party on Sunday and it was a blast. A Pokemon blast. He had a ball. The new job is going swimmingly. I love it. I seriously love it. I’m learning new stuff everyday and it’s FUN. Yes, FUN! I’m still working out how to blog more with less free time, obviously. Posting will be sporadic until I figure it out. :(

What are you reading this week? Tell me what’s good!

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Hosted weekly by super-awesome Sheila from BookJourney.

 

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Top Ten Tuesday – Come Eat At My Table

September 2, 2014 Meme 10

Or: Top Ten Book Characters That Would Be Sitting At My Lunch Table

Oh goodie! I LOVE lists like this!

1. Bod from The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman. I worry for Bod. I really do. What if he’s not getting enough to eat?

2. Kvothe from The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss. I have THE hugest crush on him. OMG. *blush*

3. CeeCee from Saving CeeCee Honeycutt by Beth Hoffman. BFFs. ForEVAH.

4. Blue Sargent fromThe Raven Cycle books be Maggie Stiefvater. So we can dish on those Raven boys, ya?

5. Eleanor and 6. Park from Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell. We can talk comic books and music and stuff I can just sit back and watch them be adorable!

7. Jamie from Outlander by Diana Gabaldon. Apparently, I just want to sit and blush and not eat during lunch. Hey, this might be a great diet!!

8. Hermione from Harry Potter. I want to watch her wingardium leviosa the Lima beans away from the table.

9. Thursday Next from The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde. Once lunch is over, she can get us into something good, like Mr. Darcy in the lake, or The Shire in The Hobbit or something.

10. Todd from The Chaos Walking trilogy by Patrick Ness. Boy colt!!! *sniff*

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