read * hear * say * see * eat

Inspiring true story about Gene Roddenberry from The Oatmeal

I posted yesterday, and now I’m posting again today! Posting every day is certainly not my new plan, but I hope to be back to posting about once every week or two. Thanks for encouraging me to keep posting podcast recommendations! I feel great knowing that even one person enjoys them. I still listen to about an hour a day of radio at least, so I have plenty of material to share.

Read

honoring the end as much as the beginning by my friend Lindsey Mead, who among other things is the most consistent writer of wonderful things on her blog of any blogger I know (seriously, a great blog to follow) and who has the rare ability to look even more fresh-faced and happy-looking in person than in pictures

Mizzou, Yale and Free Speech—a NYT Op-Ed by Nick Kristoff, via @PattonOswalt

5 Books to Teach Kids Kindness by Cup of Jo—You probably know her blog already, but in case you don’t, I could have posted anything else I’ve ever read. Her curatorial ability is fantastic both for its breadth but also her steadfast devotion to a particular “Jo style.” Whether it’s a post about marriage, kids, movies, clothes, or books, I know I’m going to love it.

Mommy blogging, 101 by Dooce

…when Leta says she doesn’t want to have kids I’m like WRONG. YOU HAVE TO LIVE THROUGH RAISING SOMEONE WHO IS EXACTLY LIKE YOU.

Hear

Sampler, a new Gimlet podcast, came out yesterday. I’m excited to have a podcast that features great clips from other podcasts. There’s only one episode so far, but it’s a doozie. I also like another new Gimlet show called Surprisingly Awesome, which is not 100% awesome yet but is getting there. Basically you can’t go wrong with any Gimlet show.

Song Exploder picks apart the making of a song with its songwriter. So cool! I’ve listened to these episodes twice, I liked them both so much: 1) Tune-Yards, and 2) The Long Winters (inspired by the Columbia crash).

Speaking of the Columbia, Snap Judgment #601 “The Path” includes a story about an astronaut and his wife that raised the hairs on my neck. Ditto another story from that episode in which a mother becomes an expert tracker of missing children after tracking her own.

Fugitive Waves’ Walkin’ Talkin’ Bill Hawkins was touching. If you haven’t tried this show yet, I recommend it to go along with any activity that puts you in a meditative, relaxed mood. The voices of the hosts, who call themselves the Kitchen Sisters, are so rhythmic and soothing that I can nearly fall asleep while listening.

This American Life, Episode 577: Something Only I Can See. The segment I particularly loved was the one about Tig Notaro and her mother-in-law. I love Tig’s comedy, but the best part to me about this story was that I so identified with her mother-in-law! I am not a funny person by nature except by accident or self-deprecation, and I can clearly recall this one day I got the song “Ain’t We Got Fun” in my head while folding laundry (deeply sorry for getting it in your head just now), except instead of the title lyric, I sang to myself, “It’s laundry time!” Somehow I was so giddy with the humor of this lyric swap that I could barely get the words out when telling Nate. I don’t think I need to describe his reaction, but even so, I still laugh almost just as hard now at the memory as I did at the time.

She Does podcast: interview with Anna Sale of Death Sex Money

What if my kid asks to try my beer (with audio!) by Casey of Life with Roozle — because of this post, my kids never ask us for a sip of beer any more! I also love that they know what a law is enough to be able to define the concept to others.

Vocal fry and other speech trends by Stuff You Should Know (in this episode, they refer to a great conversation on Fresh Air between a linguist, a speech pathologist, and Jessica Grose of DoubleX Gabfest)

Say

Gretchen Rubin offered a starter kit  for people interested in starting their own Better than Before habits group. I love this idea (I’m an Obliger, no surprise there). Is anyone out there interested in starting a habits group with me? I’m thinking it could be online, just a place where we can cheer each other on and keep up accountability. I’m not that into Facebook, but I could see it working well there. Or are there “LinkedIn groups”? Someone please chime in who knows more about starting online groups. Thanks!

See

Making a Murderer, the Netflix original series everyone is talking about. I think folks are right that it’s similar to Serial except for being a TV program. I can only recommend the first episode, as that’s all I’ve seen so far. Honestly, I’m not sure I’ll watch them all. Ten hours is a long time for me to commit to TV, especially since I almost never watch TV alone, and Nate isn’t interested in seeing it. But I think the first episode is definitely worth watching, if only to remain plugged into pop culture; personally, it got me riled up so much that I am looking into volunteering with a nonprofit focused on prison reform. And if nothing else, I have some excellent articles to offer once you’ve seen the first episode. One is this article on The Rumpus by one of my favorite Boston writers (and Arlington Author Salon readers!), Lisa Borders, and the other is this New Yorker critique, which begins with interesting details about the Perry Mason crime writer that I never knew.

For something a little lighter, I recommend Reading Rainbow for parents and kids. That intro song really takes me back. I finally just had to put it on for the girls, who weren’t sold simply by a picture of a man’s face (ditto Mr. Rogers, whom they both also now love. Next up will be Pee Wee Herman). They love the 1st episode featuring “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie,” plus how bowling balls are made and a guy who sets up huge displays of dominoes and knocks them down.

Eat

I hope you follow Catherine Newman, aka the blogger behind Ben & Birdy and the advice columnist for Real Simple (and writer of a new book coming out soon that you can pre-order on Amazon!). I never chortle so much as when reading her blog (and just at this moment, her new website). Last night I choked on some sauerkraut while reading this post, which I’m putting under “Eat” because she gives the recipe for a delicious-sounding blueberry pie smoothie (and yes, I said choked on sauerkraut. Sauerkraut that I was eating out of the jar, that I eat every night out of the jar ever since Nate started fermenting our very own homemade sauerkraut. More on this development is forthcoming). Anyway, because I love Catherine so much, I will add my favorite quote of hers, which perfectly described my own second child, Charlie, at the age of two so much better than I ever could have.

“Even as a 2-year-old, she had the determined wrath and gait of a murderous zombie gnome — and my husband and I grimaced at each other, afraid, over her small and darkly glowering head.”

I still read her article from NYT Motherlode, where the quote originated, from time to time whenever I am worried about Charlie’s tendency to glower. Catherine reminds me that not only is it ok, it might even be a good thing. A writer who can do that is a keeper.

exhale

My desire to come write here again after a long break always begins with being annoyed. It’s something like trying to locate that hair inside your mouth. You absolutely can’t go on with your day until you get it, but no matter how much you fish around and gag and curse, it remains elusive. Ditto this experience. I can’t just sit down to write. First I have to torture myself with indecision about the topic I most want to discuss. Then I will finally sit down to write, but instead I will stare for half an hour at my list of half-finished posts (of which I always have between 15 & 20, it’s just how I keep track of interesting subjects), at which point I’ll have either run out of time or become so disgusted with myself that I rage-slam the laptop shut and go find something yummy from the pantry to soothe my aggravation.

But not today! Today, I finally have a chunk of time. I thought this hour was going to be filled with finishing a project for my microbiology class (my last nursing prerequisite, yay!), but because I ended up completing that task yesterday evening during the girls’ group violin class, I have a glorious unmarked hour in which to blab some things I’ve been pondering lately.

My quest to write this post started with this Instagram caption by Amanda Palmer:

amandapalmeri carried the child for six hours on a big jet plane to the other side of the country, where he is going to spend the next few weeks meeting his extended west coast tribe. i am not working here. it is hard. when I delve into despair, remind me that it is fine that i’m not working or touring and that i am a fucking new mother who is allowed to take six months off to nurse and cuddle a baby. my good friend @andrewoneillcomedy once told me something about our mutual hero Henry Rollins. Henry, he said, takes an inhale year (reading, learning, traveling, absorbing) and then an exhale year (touring, working, speaking, art-assaulting). if I ask you, remind me. this is an inhale year. this is an inhale year. over and out.

Inhale years and exhale years. What a cool concept, right? Henry Rollins! Who knew. A few weeks after reading that quote and pondering it, I read this post by my friend Kristen about her word for the year and immediately knew mine would be Exhale. If I had to give an official start to my exhale ‘year’ (thank goodness I don’t), it would probably be November 16th, the day I started my job.

But before I tell you about the job, first I want to back up and tell a quick story about how weird and small the world is. The first mom I met when I introduced myself to other parents in Vivi’s class was our neighbor (I’ll call her “Sue”) who lives in the house behind ours. Sue’s daughter and Vivi hit it off right away and are now best beds, and as fate would have it, Sue’s career is in public health, so we hit it off too (I would say, “What are the odds?” but this is Decatur, Georgia. Between CDC and Emory University, it’s the public health capital of the world).

A month after I met Sue, she started a new job at the Task Force for Global Health, a nonprofit under Emory’s umbrella that is focused on eradicating diseases of poverty. When I would ask her for updates, Sue always told me how swamped she was and how she wished they would hire extra project management help temporarily. That general complaint became more focused as the weeks went on into how they should hire ME temporarily. She knew I didn’t want to work full time, certainly not in a permanent position, but she twisted my arm to apply for the job. And even though I told them I only wanted to work 30 hours a week, they hired me!

It’s been great being back in the working world. My house is a mess, but no one cares but me and Nate, so I can handle that. I won’t underestimate the kids’ sadness at not having Mommy give them  her undivided attention full time, but to be honest, I needed a bit of a break so that I could appreciate how much I really enjoy taking care of them. And I do miss knowing as much as I used to about all the little minutiae of their days. It’s not like I can’t still ask them questions, but much more often these days I’m too tired to make dinner, let alone grill my kids about their social activities and composition of that day’s cafeteria lunch. For example, tonight’s dinner is comprised of spaghetti-o’s (might I add that they are leftover spaghetti-o’s?) and dried pears. Yum!

After the inhale year of getting ready for the move, the move, and recovering from the move, I am looking forward to doing some exhaling. I hope lots of that will happen here. And I hope there’s still at least one human out there listening! I promise I will try to listen as much as I talk. Even though I’m exhaling, I can still inhale too.

Cheers, xoxo