Beginnings

Today, we are getting married. To all of you across the country who are not with us today as we quietly start the next phase of our lives – thank you for everything that you have done for us and with us that has led us to this point together.  Thank you. We both love you all.

From several years ago:

“There are so few people given us to love…If you can, at nineteen, count the people you love on one hand, you will not, at forty, have run out of fingers on the other.  There are so few people given us to love and they all stick.” – Anne Enright

Excepting my family (of course you love your family, and of course they stick,) at nineteen, I don’t think I’d hit the halfway mark on my first hand.  I mean, I love people all over the place – I’m a pretty affectionate sort of person, anyone could tell you that. But there are very few people in anyone’s life who are “given us to love” – and I could still count mine on one hand. These are the people who you love with a desperation, with a longing that is expressed in inarticulation.

These are the people who taught me that sometimes laying down your life for your friends requires living.

“But love is the answer to a question
That I’ve forgotten,
But I know I’ve been asked
And the answer has got to be love.”

– Regina Spektor, Reading Time With Pickle

Today, I miss you, Cori Lee. Wish you were here to play with my nephews and niece, to creatively come down the aisle in a wheelchair and to prop your chin on your two fingers and ask my groom a confusing existential question or two. “Tell me about your formative years.” Wish you had been here to spend last night with me, to get your nails done with my sisters and I and to laugh hysterically  with us. I miss you. The mind reels, Cori.

Top 10 of 2010

What?! It’s 2011 already?!

At the beginning of last year, I carefully didn’t promise to read a hundred books, which seems to have worked. I read a hundred books!! The last one (Reengineering Health Care: A Manifesto for Radically Rethinking Health Care, by Jim Champy and Harry Greenspan) finished on December 31st.

So the recap, the highs and lows of the year with links and everything.

1. A series, satisfactorily concluded:

Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games trilogy, concluded with Mockingjay.
Hunger Games, Catching Fire and Mockingjay might be one of the most masterfully executed trilogies I have ever read. Haunting, compelling, with a lot of emotion and thought under the surface, these books are something I would recommend to older teens and adults. Mockingjay, especially, is a harsh but beautiful contemplation of mercy.

2. A series, brilliantly continued:

My first buy on the Kindle, Megan Whalen Turner’s fourth book in The Thief series, A Conspiracy of Kings was an excellent addition to her earlier stories of Eugenides. This is a series I would recommend to younger readers with the caveat that there is a lot of swearing (mostly in the form of the use of the pseud0-Greek gods and godesses’ names in vain.)

3. The year’s best short story collection:

I finally read something by Amy Bloom, A Blind Man Can See How Much I Love You, and I’m not entirely sure how I felt about the content. Disturbing, beautifully written and truly an startling piece of work. I would recommend this to short story readers who are not faint of heart.

4. Best novel(s):

The most heart-breaking and the most informative: Still Alice
The sweetest: Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand
The most thought-provoking: The Help

5. The dystopian selections:

Always a favorite sub-genre of mine, I read several good dystopian books this year. First, The Unit, about mandatory organ donation for the over 50 crowd, set in Sweden. Second, Far North, set in a world annihilated by nuclear war and food shortages.

6. Sci-fi bordering on horror:

I hesitate to call any book horror, but I’m not sure what else you would call this book. A long saga spanning a hundred years, The Passage starts with the governments’ search for a cure for old age, and ending with the last remaining humanity searching for a cure for the cure. I think this was an excellent book within its genre – it steered clear of any s.x content, but it was very brutally violent. I will recommend this to fans of this genre, and to my bro-in-law. :-)

7. The year’s best Mystery:

I love Tana French. Love. Her. So it’s no surprise that Faithful Place was my top mystery pick for 2010. Complex, full of characters that are recognizable and easy to relate to. I am very excited to see the next book. Hopefully before 2012.

8. Book for work that ended up being really worth my time:

Drive – this book by Daniel Pink was about people’s motivations. Mostly, he asserts that people are naturally eager to learn and solve problems and that we are not as much motivated by money as we like to think. This book is the ultimate un-schooling support. I truly enjoyed it.

9. A book you should not read:

How I Live Now, by Meg Rosoff. It was dystopian teen fiction, and should have been everything I love. But it wasn’t. It was disturbing.

10. Top rereads of the year:

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Ender’s Game, Anne of Green Gables, Never Let Me Go, and The Witch of Blackbird Pond.

i can see clearly now

Yesterday was foggy.

When I was a child, foggy days in winter were the worst. You woke up in the morning and you knew that by the end of the day the white wonderland of the midwest would have dripped itself into a muddy, grey oblivion. Fog meant that everything was melting and the air was thick of a damp that the warmest mittens couldn’t hold out against.

Yesterday, of course, I was busy. I knew it was foggy, and it was irritating in the I-have-to-drive-home-in-this-goo, Why-can’t-it-just-be-sunny way, but I didn’t dwell on its impact on the 14-16 inches of snow lying about, since there’s not as much to celebrate with snow as an adult. (Pros: potential snow day – Cons: shoveling, plowing, ice on your car, ice on the roads, maniac drivers, snowbanks you can’t see around, driving in mittens, fewer parking spots because the snow takes up room – you get the point.) I thought briefly of how much more disappointed I would have been if this had been my childhood, all the snow melting away right before Christmas, but in my grinch-like whirlwind, I didn’t really think further than that.

But then, this morning, on the way to work – a miracle! It had become cold overnight, and all the fog had frozen on the trees, so that everything was sparkly and white.

I thought of grief. In the winter, fog is dank and depressing and overwhelming, but when the fog lifts and freezes and sparkles, while we still don’t understand why we had to come through the fog, we can see how the other side is all the more beautiful for it.

Maybe this doesn’t make sense to anyone else, but that’s my deep thought for today.

Loves to all.

mayhem

Yesterday I was getting ready to drive home from work, running through my mental checklists and suddenly I thought “When did I last post anything on my blog?!”

It seems really pompous to apologize for not posting, since that makes it sound like the last month has been bleak and empty for you without me, so I won’t. I will just say that my life has jumped a level of (busyness? intensity?) something this past month and I feel like my entire work day is spent dealing with transition. I have hopes it will calm down, but it may not. This might be the new me.

I mentioned I was moving to a new team at the beginning of November. I did, and two weeks after the move, just as I started to get back into a groove, I was offered a management position on my new team. (Side note: we call it “team lead” and we emphasize that it is a role change, not a promotion.) For me, it was good news, but it was awkward timing for my team, just getting to know me as a peer and then suddenly wham!  I have been enjoying this new work – I feel like I am able to do what I am best at every single day – and as a result, I am happy, even when I’m exhausted.

But it has changed some things. In the last two weeks, I have read Peer to Boss, Good to Great, Drive, The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, The One Minute Manager and am in the middle of First, Break All the Rules.  (Five of those were required with my role change – my workplace believes in personal development.) So…I haven’t really been reading my novels.

On the other side, I have knitted up a storm. My days can consist of up to 6 hours of meetings. Often this means that I can knit away merrily in the corner. No one seems to mind, and it has really helped me feel calmer in situations I’m still learning to navigate. I’ve knitted my niece a shrug, a cardigan that I’m hoping fits one of my sisters (not enough yarn for me!), finished some projects that have been back burnered for a while, and a beautiful hat I’m working on modifying for a smaller head. (Evie!)

All this to say, I might be a little sketchier on the posting for a while. When I get home at night I want to lay on the couch and stare at the ceiling for a while and then fall asleep. I will adjust, learn to fit into this role and find more time for myself, but this transition is exhausting and will take some work.
On the other hand, if you’re interested in managerial reading, I have some good recommendations. :-)

I’d love to love you.

My reading lately has been re-reads. Comfort reads.

I reread The Blue Castle, by L.M. Montgomery, Sabriel, by Garth Nix, The Witch of Blackbird Pond, by Elizabeth George Speare and Sorcery and Cecelia by Wrede and Stevermer. I think this is my normal comfort reads time of year. I hunker in and knit a lot, read things that make me feel cozy and safe and, yes, here in the midwest, warm.

Sorry I don’t have a lot of recent new reads. Busy with the nephews and niece, hanging out with my siblings and baking pumpkin biscotti. Maybe some of you have some recent read to share with me?

Evangeline

10/26/2010

I don’t normally turn on my cell phone at night. But, you know, Mel’s due date was coming up, so I woke up and just turned it up in case.

When the phone rang at 5:15, I saw it was Brock, but my brain was tired after a night of disturbed sleep. “Do you call all your relatives at this time of night?”

“No, Coral. You’re the first on the list.”

Oh. Right. When I had showered and shoved together an “I-really-was-planning -to-prepare-a-bag-before-you-went-into-labor-oh-why-didn’t-I-do-laundry-yesterday” bag, I ran out the door. It was pouring. Not just pouring, I discovered as I got on the interstate. NPR kept stopping programming to warn me of tornado watches all over the state as a record low barometric pressure system moved into the midwest. Also, it was raining so hard I could barely see.

But I made it. In time, too, even though Evangeline was in a hurry.

And she’s perfect. Just ask her brother.

Waterloo

Dear blogging world,

I miss you. I really I do. But I’m so. very. busy.

First, there’s the fine world of The Peanut Gallery Speaks which has blossomed beyond initial imagining, but also has received some of my more creative writing efforts in the last 3 months.

Second, my Kindle went on a fine jolly romp around the Old Country (the Netherlands) with my parentals, which coincided with the beginnings of knitting season in the midwest.

To recap, this:

plus this:

equals radio silence from me.

If you are feeling blue about this, let me give you two reasons to hope. First, a new laptop with a number pad, a number pad people, with Microsoft Onenote, which I heart. Second, the next months weekends are mostly free of weddings, wedding showers, peach canning and general mayhem. I’ll be back soon.