Magazine Reading

I’m a genuine licked-thumbs, gum-snapping, eye-rolling, foot-jiving magazine skimmer.  I read books to savor them.  I read magazines when I’m too tired for that kind of concentration: I read magazines for the blurbs.  The “Oprah’s Favorite Things” section of O Magazine?  The little “Did You Know” tidbit boxes gracing the margins of InStyle?  They’re my weekend Shakespearean sonnets.

That being said, when I actually sit down and read through an entire magazine article, it has to be exceptionally interesting.

I read this article last night in Runner’s World, having tried to skim past it first, and then having been pulled in regardless:

http://www.runnersworld.com/runners-stories/bret-dunlap-discovered-running-and-it-changed-his-life

Photo credit: Holly Andres

Photo credit: Holly Andres

Even if you, like me, hardly pretend to be a real runner, I think you’ll still find it poignant and inspiring.

Happy weekend!

Memorial Day Weekend

My family’s Memorial Day weekend, like most of our weekends once the ice is melted, was spent up at the boat.  “Up at the boat” for my entire life (quite literally: there are photos infant Holly asleep in a car seat wedged between fish coolers on the back deck) has meant the boat my family owns on Lake Superior.  We don’t have a cabin, we don’t have isolated acreage with four wheelers and an archery range, but we do have a boat that sleeps four plus one dog, and a vast expanse of lake to float her on.

Although there was a time when I hated the idea of leaving the “civilization” of cable TV and frequent showers in favor of fishing, exploring the Apostle Islands, and meeting the many characters who moonlight as avid boaters, I have since come around.

I even filleted two fish last weekend.  Of course, I refused to hold the head while slicing the torso, so my brave younger sister did that for me.  I never said I was Ahab.

Here’s last weekend, “up at the boat”:

Ruby pleading for attention during the ride down.  Also, as per usual, using anything within reach as a pillow.

Ruby pleading for attention during the drive down. Also, as per usual, using anything within reach as a pillow.

My breakfast view.

My breakfast view.

Reading material.  Let the Michael Perry obsession continue.  Oh how I aspire to write books like this someday.

Reading material. Let the Michael Perry obsession continue. Oh how I aspire to write books like this someday.

I call this one "Glassy Water with Downrigger."

I call this one “Glassy Water with Downrigger.”

After a fish took a lure and broke the line, Dad felt compelled to go down and do some untangling.  I got to drive.

After a fish took a lure and broke the line, Dad felt compelled to go down and do some untangling. I got to drive.

The person in possession of the wheel is also in charge of watching the lines.  When a pole dips and bends sporadically, there's a fish on.

The person in possession of the wheel is also in charge of watching the lines. When a pole dips and bends sporadically, there’s a fish on.

I also got to keep tabs on what was going on down below.

I kept tabs on what was going on down below.

Once my driving duties were over, I took a nap on the couch.  When I awoke, the wind had picked up significantly.

Once my driving duties were over, I took a nap on the couch. When I awoke, the wind had picked up significantly.

Our catch.  You can't see all of them, but we caught nine Coho salmon.  Enough to win us $35 in the marina fishing contest.

Our catch. You can’t see all of them, but we caught nine Coho salmon. Enough to win us $35 in the marina fishing contest.

Ruby is fond of giving the camera forlorn looks.  But believe me when I say that she gets more than her share of attention from all of us.

Ruby is fond of giving the camera forlorn looks. But believe me when I say that she gets more than her share of attention from all of us.

See?

See?

After a long day on the water, it was time to head back to the marina for the annual chili dump.  This is the most delicious bowl in the world.

After a long day on the water, we headed back to the marina for the annual chili dump. This is the most delicious bowl in the world.

Two Colins

My dream from last night is hazy except for the part where I was back in kindergarten and meeting one of my childhood chums for the first time.  I say “chums,” because everyone is generally friends in kindergarten, although I distinctly remember disliking this boy at first because he was loud and rough and I was shy.  So shy, as a matter of fact, that while my September birthday might have qualified me to head to school early, my parents decided to keep me back another year for fear that I would be too timid to make friends.

Anyway, in the dream, the boy told me that his name was Colin.

I was delighted.  “Colin? I love that name!  One of my favorite literary characters is named Colin.  That’s in a book called The Secret Garden.  Everyone else likes Dickon because he talks to animals and isn’t so cranky in the beginning, but Colin is the best at the end.”

Kindergarten Colin gave me an incredulous look.

So much for being too timid to make friends.

Great Exspocktations

It has been a glorious day.  I haven’t had much opportunity to leave the house since graduation (alas, the plight of the newly alumnied and unemployed), but today the gentleman caller and I went to see Star Trek Into Darkness.

For the record, I think the first one was better (all ye Trekkies: I promise I am aware that there were other Star Trek movies before the 2009 version (to which I refer when I say “first”)).  Into Darkness was a little misguided in the plot department.  Scenes that didn’t seem very important (e.g. moving from one ship to another) were made into long, drawn-out affairs that didn’t do much to further the story despite their dramatics.  They became tiring after a while, and it felt like J.J. Abrams was using them to either add run time or to supplement an underdeveloped plot.  Further, the villain’s motives were highly unclear, at least to me.  I got the revenge part, but then there was something about being a peacekeeper, and then something about wanting to destroy all those of lesser intelligence. The gentleman caller and I agreed that had some dots been connected, the character development of the villain could have been a lot more compelling (and less confusing).  That being said, if you liked the “first” Star Trek, you’ll probably like Into Darkness.  All of the beloved characters are back, the action scenes are fast-paced, and the moments of humor (mostly at Spock’s or Scotty’s expense) are still there.

Also, if you go see it in 3D like I did, try not to visibly flinch every time something appears to jump off the screen.  People will stare, even in a dark theatre.

After the movie, we drove to Half Price Books.  I hadn’t been there in over a year, and it was a blissful reunion.  The funny thing about HPB is that when I go in with a list, I never find what I’m looking for, but if I go in with an open mind, I find some real treasures.  This trip, I went in without expectations (despite the one that I would probably buy something.  But that’s unavoidable in a bookstore), and came out with Suze Orman’s The Money Book for the Young, Fabulous, and Broke and David McCullough’s 1776.

The Orman is key for my post-grad plan for self-improvement and independence, and the McCullough is one I’ve wanted for a while: I read his John Adams while studying abroad, and enjoyed his style of historical storytelling very much.  He doesn’t presume to know everything, that David, but he does presume to paint as complete a picture for readers as he possibly can.  There’s a prose about his writing, rare, in my experience, for heavy historical tomes.  It makes his books accessible to the masses.  And for that–if I may get up on my “I hate highly specified academic jargon because it leaves people out” horse–I will laud him forever.

More graduation saga to come soon, I promise.  It’s been hard to sit down and commit with this out my back door:

IMG_0833

Relinquishing the Hoard

I’m taking a hiatus from writing my graduation saga in order to write about another momentous event:

I have cleaned out my bookshelf and donated one hundred of my babies to my old K-8 school library.

My bookshelf is a giant, unvarnished, red-brown thing, looming over all of the other furniture in my bedroom at home.  I’ve had it since I was about eleven years old, when my grandparents, knowing my tendency to stash overflowing books in piles around my room, got it for me for Christmas.  The bookshelf was initially supposed to be hidden in the detached garage.  Grandpa had written a clever poem which was meant to lead me to its location.  Unfortunately though, Christmas morning dawned especially cold that year, and my parents thus decided to spare me the traipse outside.  The bookshelf waited beside the Christmas tree instead.

For years, this bookshelf has been large enough to hold all of my books.  Sure, there’s some double layering going on.  Sure, when I ran out of room to arrange spines vertically, I stacked more horizontally on top of the vertical.  But I don’t especially mind having a packed bookshelf: I have a system of arrangement, and I do, contrary to my family’s belief, generally know which titles I own and which I don’t own (and how to find them).  Plus, a packed bookshelf implies literary affiliations.  I feel proud and cozy and like an English major when I gaze upon it.

Today, however, when standing in front of the dear thing, trying to decide what to read next, I tipped back a few titles to peek at the ones behind.  And some of the ones behind, I realized, I hadn’t seen in a while.  And I hadn’t missed them.

I decided it was time to pare the collection down.

I have long thought that if an eleven-year-old girl in possession of familiar bookworm tendencies were to stop me on the street and ask me for a suggestion regarding what she should read next, I would undoubtably pile all of my Gail Carson Levines, my American Girls, my Nancy Drews into her hands.  I would happily pass my books off to someone who I knew would enjoy them as I had.  Why, though, was I sitting like a miser on a mountain, hoarding books I had long outgrown, waiting for the right young prodigy to come along and ask for them?  Surely it would be better to put the books in a library, where they could be paged through and jam-smeared by hundreds.

I quickly had all my books off my shelves and into piles: Classics; Popular But Still Quality; Popular; Teen Fiction I Still Love; Short Stories, Poems, Plays; Reference; Series; Children’s With Sentimental Value (Little House, Betsy-Tacy, Charlotte’s Web); and Donate.

I dusted the empty shelves, and then slowly started refilling them.  I moved my most beloveds to the top, and–vainly–put the classics front and center.  I pulled out the books I plan to attempt this summer and stacked them separately, for easy access.  I bagged up the “Donates,” including A Series of Unfortunate Events.  Perhaps the ban has been lifted since I left middle school?

Mom (a teacher at my old school) placed the bags in her van.  While I’m a little ashamed that it’s taken me so long to pass all of those books on, I’m glad it’s finally happened.

 

Holly Graduates from College, Acts I-II

My goodness, I have such a graduation story to tell you!  It has everything: action, drama, ugly robes, copious hugs, celebrities, public speaking, a trip to the ER …

Obviously, then, it’s going to take me a while to write out such a saga.  Bear with me.  It’s a long story.

I’ll be publishing it in parts.  Both for my sanity and yours.

Act I. Prequel

About a month ago, I broke the overhead light fixture in the bathroom in the house I’m renting (with three housemates) from a former UMM professor.  This was bad for three reasons:

1. I’m renting the house.  And the former UMM professor is currently trying to sell the house.  And a bare lightbulb in the bathroom looks kind of sad.

2. I’m renting the house.  And that means I put down a deposit when I moved in to ensure that if I broke or otherwise damaged any part of the house, my landperson could keep the deposit and use it to pay for repairs.  The light I broke may not have been very expensive (not that I know much about lighting beyond my enjoyment of that glowing section of Menards), but it was probably enough to justify my landperson keeping my deposit.

3. The light fixture I broke (not the actual bulb, but the globe that fit over it) was made of glass, which is sharp, hard to see, and generally dangerous.

Knowing this, I swept thoroughly.  I made sure to get the corners, the sink (where the light initially landed and shattered to almost cinematic effect), the tub, even out in the hallway, where I suspected small pieces had flown and were lurking.  Throughout the next week, I swept a few more times, and picked up tiny individual pieces that I had missed.  But by the week after that, I had mostly forgotten about the incident.  There were no more random glitters as I brushed my teeth, no more ominous crunches underfoot.

Act II. Or So I Thought

It was the morning of Commencement.  I had slept fairly well the night before, due to the NyQuil I was still allowed to take because of a lingering cold.  I was mostly concerned with not thinking about my impending speech, and so I showered, washed my face, and brushed my teeth with almost zombie-like coolness.  On the way out of the bathroom, I took the same route as usual: I stepped over the threshold and turned immediately left, then left again around the low-walled stairwell, and then turned right into my bedroom.  Somewhere along that route–I suspect not far from the bathroom–I felt a sudden stinging in the bottom of my left foot.  I thought, as had happened before, that a small piece of gravel, tracked in from outside, was stuck to my foot, pressing its sharpness against it.  When I looked, I didn’t see anything but a small cut, which was bleeding profusely.  Strangely, that part of my foot hurt a lot when I put weight on it, which was what initially led me to suspect that there was something in my foot.  I was running a little late, and so didn’t have time to do much besides apply a band-aid and note with satisfaction that my fancy graduation sandals forced me to walk on the middle/inside of my feet instead of on the outside, where the wound was.

Commencement of Commencement

Want to watch me give the student commencement address/graduate from college?  Likely not (that’s okay), but just in case, the url for the live stream is here:

http://www.morris.umn.edu/events/commencement/

The ceremony is tomorrow (Saturday), and starts at 1:30 p.m. Minnesota time.  I should be giving my speech about 10 minutes in, give or take.