Things of the Week 4/24/17

Flipping Off Fish: My new favorite juvenile, guilty pleasure–this is an Instagram account. And the username pretty much says it all.

Reading rut: My habit of reading too many things at once has gotten so bad I’m barely reading anything at all. Goodreads has even started sending me passive aggressive messages, “We noticed you’ve only read one book toward your goal” etc. Maybe I need to start a new Instagram account…

FitTwit: I’ve abandoned my FitBit. It’s falling apart and it’s less than a year old. This is my fault–I didn’t save the receipt or the box, otherwise, I could send away for a replacement. I considered buying another one but then I thought about what I use My FitBit for–the alarm. Sure, I paid attention to the steps, but not in a productive way. I didn’t do laps around my house if I didn’t hit my goal. When I think about my health during the time I’ve owned my FitBit, it’s the least healthy I’ve been my whole life. I can’t necessarily blame the FitBit, but I do think it made me lazy. In my brain, I thought, “I have a device tracking my health habits, therefore by knowing my habits I will be more healthy. Brilliant! That mean’s I don’t have to pay attention to my health anymore!” And so, I didn’t. Strangely, having put the FitBit in the drawer, I already feel healthier because I’m paying attention to my hold body instead of just my left wrist.

I am reading some things: This article is awesome for several reasons but I particularly like the way science is being used to study literature.

“Some fairy tales may be 6000 years old” by David Shultz, 4/22/16, Science

Watching: Community and This Is Us. Way late to the party on the first one, only kinda late on the second one. This may be blasphemy, but I might like Community better than Parks and Rec. I’m only in season 1 so I may feel differently by season 3. And I can see why This Is Us is being reviewed well. The writing is very good as is the acting, and I love the parallel story lines.

Fun Brain Injury Side Effect: A hyper-awareness of my brain. The other day I was putting together a lesson plan with a colleague. I selected several reading selections and I knew that they complimented each other well, but I couldn’t explain to my colleague why. She reviewed the selections and immediately made the connections. I realized that my right brain was seeing the themes and patterns but my left brain couldn’t describe them. My understanding that this was likely related to the brain injury helped me explain my weird behavior to my colleague. She described the situation this way: “It’s like you brought me all of the ingredients for paella and asked, ‘What the hell do I with these?'”

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Things of the Week 1/25/17

With the holidays and the start of a new semester, I’ve been on a bit of a hiatus. Returning to a routine has provided an opportunity to start Things up again.

So, About That New Year’s Resolution: One of my fave podcasts just did an episode examining one explanation for why some people can follow (or set) New Year’s resolutions and other cannot (or do not). The episode features Gretchen Rubin, author of the Happiness Project, and her theory of habit natures. Also, there’s a quiz (I freaking love quizzes). I got “Questioner.” My husband got “Rebel.”

The Four Tendencies: How to Feed Good Habits

Reading: The Hidden Life of Trees: What They Feel, How They Communicate by Peter Wohlleben–I asked for this book for Christmas because I was so fascinated by the Radiolab podcast I heard last summer, “From Tree to Shining Tree.” Wohlleben’s writing style is personal yet informative, and the book is also fascinating.

Catching Up On: Finally watched Stranger Things over the holidays and the show definitely lives up to the hype. Now catching up on Season 3 of Brooklyn Nine-Nine. Sometimes that show makes me laugh so hard I can’t breathe.

DIY: We decided that the only way we could afford to update our kitchen (circa 1953) was if we did it ourselves. This weekend we began phase 1 (countertops and sink) of our remodeling project. Phase 2: refinishing cabinets. Phase 3: new floors. Bonus phase: tile backsplash.

Law of averages: I have four students with the same name in my Composition class this semester.

Fun Brain Injury Side Effect: Often, when I write the capital letter “A” a capital “M” comes out. It’s especially surprising to me to hear myself say “A” in my brain but see an “M” on the page.

Things of the Week: Post Thanksgiving Edition

A greyhound won the National Dog Show:

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Thanksgiving Miracle: Our greyhounds are cuddling.

Commercials: I’ve noticed that commercials this holiday season have a particularly tenderhearted quality about them. It’s nice.

I Got Gilmored: Yes, I’m a fan. Yes, I’ve been bingeing seasons 1-7 for the last several months. Yes, I bought a box of Pop-Tarts to toast Gilmore Girls: A year in the Life. Yes, I might have squealed when I heard the opening music and saw the beloved gazebo. No, I did not expect the #lastfourwords.

Swimming in uncertainty about whether or not we’ll return to Stars Hollow, I’ve been reading as many think pieces as I can to hold on to that Gilmore feeling. Here are a few I particularly liked or was amused by:

“Turns Out, Rory Gilmore Is Not a Good Journalist” by Megan Garber, November 28, 2016, on The Atlantic 

“Watched All of the ‘Gilmore Girls’ Revival? Let’s Talk About It” by Margaret Lyons, November 29, 2016, on The New York Times

“A Play-by-Play of the Only Thing That Matters in the New ‘Gilmore Girls’: Logan Huntzberger”  by Kara Brown, November 28, 2016, on The Muse/Jezebel 

Reading (too many things at once): With the semester coming to a close and lots of papers to grade, I find that I keep collecting books to read without finishing them, assuming the next one will satisfy something in me that the previous one didn’t:

You Are Here: Discovering the Magic of the Present Moment by Thích Nhất Hạnh

 How to Train A Wild Elephant: And Other Adventures in Mindfulness by Jan Chozen Bays

Clear Your Clutter with Feng Shui by Karen Kingston

(These three books are all an attempt to remedy semester stress)

Autobiography of Red by Anne Carson

(Recommended to me by a friend because I had never read anything by Anne Carson. I’m reading this with the hope that it will make me feel smart. Instead, it makes me feel like endeavoring is pointless. So now I pull it out and read it when I feel like I’m trying too hard at something).

Feeling Very Strange: The Slipstream Anthology Edited by James Patrick Kelly and John Kessel

(Reading this one slowly, a story at a time. Have been pulling it out when I need something to put reality in perspective.)

Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff

(Picked this up because I wanted to get lost in beautiful sentences. So far so good.)

New Addition to the Brain Injury Glossary: gravel brain – when it feels like there are pebbles sitting on top of my frontal lobe, small but still heavy, with spaces between them that allow brief moments of lucidity to shine through.

Things of the Week 10/12/16

Tweeting the Season: 

Poet-ing: I competed in my first Slam Poetry Competition. An absolutely fabulous night. I think I’m more of a poet-for-the-page, but the experience was well worth it. The poem I recited for Round 1, “Modern Witchcraft: A Business Meeting” was published back in April by Easy Street. Check it out. 

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I think they caught me on an “m” word.

MOMIX:  Had my mind blown by the dance-illusion experience “Opus Cactus.” Truly have never seen anything like it. Video doesn’t even do it justice, but:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PJKIO93zBg4

High Plains Book Awards: Had the opportunity to attend the High Plains Books Awards and was delighted to discover that the centerpieces at the banquet tables were books–free books.

Reading the Season: The Witches: Salem,1692 by Stacy Schiff. I didn’t realize that the period of time surrounding the Salem witch trials was so short. I’m having the sneaking suspicion I fell asleep in American History on the day this was covered.

(Actual) Fun Brain Injury Side Effect: I’m taking up Tai Chi. I’ve started with YouTube and resources from my local library, but my next step will be to join a class locally. Discoveries so far:

  • practicing Tai Chi will be as much about developing patience for me as about anything else
  • moving slowly feels good (whaaaat)
  • the naming conventions for Tai Chi moves are a bit poetic, which I like
  • I’m sore (whaaaat)

Things of the Week 10/05/16

Listening to: Lady Gaga. In a recent episode, the hosts of Switched On Pop fall down a musical rabbit hole describing the ways in which Gaga’s music depicts both the “fame” and the “monster,” (complete with aural comparisons to Phantom of the Opera) and I’m like

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Drinking: Decaf cardamom lattes at Annex Coffee House and Bakery

Teaching: Comparison essays, using Riz Ahmed’s excellent essay as an example:

“Typecast as a Terrorist” by Riz Ahmed, September 15, 2016 on The Guardian 

Yes, this: Recently, I read Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale for the first time, and after I finished I swirled with all the implications for modern society. Then, someone took all the things I was swirling about and put them in one essay, and it is awesome.

Is ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ A Prophecy of America’s Future?” by Laura Beans, 9/28/16 on The Establishment

Discovering: great literary organizations in Montana:

Helena Area Literary Arts  and Tell Us Something 

Purchased: an iPhone 7. (see Gif above) This will be the first time that when my phone was eligible for an upgrade I purchased the newest model of the iPhone available. I’m expecting that the jump up from my iPhone 5s will feel significant.

Things of the Week 9/21/16

Small Pleasures: When you get more marshmallows in your cereal than you expected.

Awesome Thing I Saw on the Internet: Artist Adds Monsters Next To Strangers On The Subway

Watching: Happy Endings–this is a fave of Pop Culture Happy Hour host Linda Holmes and I like her taste in movies/tv so I thought I’d give it a try. It took me until episode 12 of season 2 to click with this show, but now it has me laughing out loud, particularly when I saw this scene where Brad goes to the dentist.

Paranoia: Having watched the documentary Citizen Four and listened to the Note to Self Podcast Episode “There is No ‘Off the Record'” in the same week, I’ve decided that I really appreciate the idea of first drafts–something that no one will read, and something that can be taken down on paper…

Reading: Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler with art by Maira Kalman–I’m really getting into the novel-containing-visuals trend. Perhaps I’ll make my way into some graphic novels eventually.

Practicing: memorization, a skill I haven’t really employed since my days in grade school school plays.

Confounded by Technology: I fell victim to an instance of too good to be true. Having returned to academia I discovered our university provides Microsoft Office 365 subscriptions through our email accounts. Pleased with this discovery, I dowloaded the various Microsoft apps to my iPad and began using One Drive to back up my lectures. When, while in One Drive, it offered a free download of the latest Microsoft software I thought to myself, free upgrade? Why not! Only after having dowloaded updated versions of Word, Excel, and Powerpoint (which deleted the old versions from my computer in the process) did I discover that to use these programs on my computer I have to sign in (with my university email address) first. The catch–I’m an adjunct, and in semesters when I’m not teaching (like for example, over the summer) my email address is deactivated i.e. I won’t be able to use these programs come this summer. This has led to hypervigilant saving practices to make sure anything I need stays on my hard drive and won’t get trapped in the cloud if and when my access is turned off. Wish I could have stumbled upon some hashtag on Twitter for this one. 

Things of the Week 9/7/16

Nature: My weekend included a hike near the Woodbine Falls area of the Beartooth Mountains. I love that this trail winds along the river for the first half a mile or so. It’s beautiful and loud–the sound of the water definitely clears the mind.

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Watched: Street Fight–a documentary by Marshall Curry about Cory Booker’s 2002 campaign to become the mayor of Newark, NJ. I remember now why I don’t often watch documentaries–the more controversial the topic, the more I yell at my TV screen.

Reading: Feeling Very Strange: The Slipstream Anthology edited by James Patrick Kelly and John Kessel. Was introduced to this in grad school by James Patrick Kelly, who was a faculty member in my program. Don’t know why it’s taken me this long to read it other than now feels like the right time.

Mental Health:Clinton just made a very important announcement — and hardly anyone is talking about it”The Post’s View, August 31, 2016, on The Washington Post

Possibly one of the more optimistic articles about government/the  election I’ve read in awhile (and possibly why it’s not getting much coverage). I particularly like everything that’s happening in this paragraph:

“The big-ticket item in Ms. Clinton’s plan is $5 billion for community health centers providing substance abuse and mental-health treatment as well as traditional medical care, which jibes with elements of reform initiatives emerging from Congress. To address a shortage of mental-health professionals, meanwhile, she would smartly encourage telemedicine, among other things. Ms. Clinton also proposed pumping up the budget for basic scientific research, some of which would be diverted into studying the brain. Aside and apart from the debate over mental health, Democrats and Republicans have often been able to agree on funding basic research such as this.”

Current Obsessions: eating dry cereal, candles, tea,

Thing Happening Today: First day of school.

Things Happening This Weekend: 

Pulitzer Out Loud Presents: Slam Poetry Workshops

I consider myself a poetry dabbler and I’ve never tried Slam, though I have great respect for it. Very much looking forward to attending these workshops.

Brew Ha Ha 2016 – Oktoberfest

Drink beer to support literacy? Don’t mind if I do.

 

Things of the Week 8/25/16

Thing I’m Sharing: Giving up alcohol opened my eyes to the infuriating truth about why women drink by Kristi Coulter, August, 21 2016 on Quartz

Watched: The Imitation Game–appreciated this film, especially the soundtrack. Found myself somewhat distracted by images that reminded me of some cast members in other movies with a WWII or pre WWII setting. (Keira Knightley in Atonement, Matthew Goode in Brideshead Revisited). 

Culinary Delights: burgers and milkshakes for my husband’s birthday, a fresh baguette courtesy of the baker at my new fave coffee shop, peaches, popcorn

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Happy Birthday weekend to this guy, love you!

A post shared by Ashley K Warren (@ajoybliss) on

Reading: The Weight of Feathers by Anna-Marie McLemore–I’m told by the praise on the front cover and reviews on Goodreads that I’ll like this because I liked The Night Circus.  Passing no judgements yet.

Prepping: materials for my return to teaching at the college level. Overwhelmed by my own millennial tendencies to hyper consume I now have collected more articles than I’ll likely have time to teach. Under consideration:

  1. The article shared above (Cause and Effect Essays)
  2. The Near Certainty of Anti-Police Violence by Ta-Nehisi Coates (Argumentative Essays)
  3. Why Women Still Can’t Have it All by Anne-Marie Slaughter (Cause and Effect Essays)
  4. How Michael Brown’s death, two years ago, pushed #BlackLivesMatter into a movement by Josh Hafner (Process Essays)

Fun Brain Injury and Whiplash Side Effects: cheek numbness, dropping everything always. (EVERYTHING. ALWAYS.)

Things of the Week 8/10/16

Funny: The Terrible, No Good, Very Bad Day I Woke Up as a Debut Author: Jade Sharma Tries to be Happy About the Publication of PROBLEMS August 4, 2016 on Literary Hub 

Alfred Hitchcock’s, The BirdsWas awoken by a flock of sparrows battling in a tree directly outside my bedroom window. Went to the bathroom and discovered one had managed to maneuver itself under the screen and between the storm window and the actual window. It looked like a living shadowbox. Only days before while practicing yoga I watched a sparrow try to enter our house in a similar manner.

Looking Forward to: roadtrip to Missoula with greyhounds in tow, stopping in Bozeman to eat at Roost, and listening to episodes of RadioLab on the way.

Reading: Tattoo Machine: Tall Tales, True Stories, and My Life in Ink by Jeff Johnson. This book has a brilliantly colorful quote that demonstrates the use of tattoo industry slang. Terms indicated in italics:

“Dude, it was a Dee Dee on speed dial unholy bloodbath. No pork chops, a mid-shift seismic California bumper sticker taco valve explosion, a fucking parade of drunks brimming with Chud potential and I ran out of boy butter after the second fight in the lobby. Bonus hole city to boot.”

Also reading: The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

Found: that mouse we were “over” last week...by way of our olfactory senses 😦

Mystery: there seems to be evidence of something large bedding down by our fence. Could be animal or human due to our location.

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Listening to: 

Things of the Week 8/3/16

Writers Being Writers: fave quotes from An Interview with Annie Dewitt by Brandon Hobson, 7/25/16 on The Believer Logger 

“I think it’s important to talk about the reality of being a writer. The glossy author photos don’t really speak to that. To the sacrifices that are made. And the times when you watch your family and friends who have chosen other paths make money, get married, move up and out in the world, have kids. You wonder what direction your life is truly going in and have to grapple with some difficult choices, all without knowing whether or not you’ll succeed. That’s, to date, the hardest thing I’ve had to face. My own self-doubt. ” – Annie Dewitt

“I’ve always admired how writers like Schutt and Salinger accomplish so much through the use of the unsaid. As a child, you have so little of the world explained to you. Your perception of events colors everything. So much of what you know is defined by the perimeter of what you don’t know, which is always expanding.” – Annie Dewitt

Reading: Religion for Atheists: A Non-believer’s Guide to the Uses of Religion by Alain de Botton

Rereading: A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle (thanks, Chelsea Clinton)

Nature: while walking by a city park near downtown I saw not one but three hawks hanging out behind the bleachers near the high school. They sat on the chainlink fence and watched as the crows picked over scraps. Whenever the crows found something good, like bullies the hawks dove and chased the crows until the crows gave up their lunch money.

Having My Mind Blown: “From Tree to Shining Tree” a podcast by Radiolab, July 30, 2016

Current Obsessions: my local library, evening walks, drinking water, ice cream (any number of flavors)

I’m kinda over it: the mouse we saw in the house a few days ago, despite many mice-preventing tactics currently underway

Bingeing: Gilmore Girls (3rd time), this time with my husband and in preparation for Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life

Pompey’s Pillar: Visited Pompey’s Pillar National Monument for the first time, and during Clark Days, a miniature festival celebrating Montana history. I was maybe a little underwhelmed at the pillar’s size, but the graffiti courtesy of Lewis and Clark was pretty cool.

 

Brain Injury Accessory of the Week: earplugs