Tag Archives: Harry Potter

Ice Cream, Tom Cruise’s Face, and Other Melty Things — August 2019 Month in Review

June melts into blissful firefly nights. July is sticky freedom.

August? August is reflection and anticipation: Did we do enough? Have the kids been appropriately bored? Were they given enough freedom to make terrible yet harmless choices? Did we use our time well, including not using it at all? Did we chase the ice cream truck enough? Are they happy?

What makes my kids happy and what makes me happy often swerve and loop towards and away from one another, although my kids’ happiness overall contributes to mine and vice versa. We’re a family after all and love makes happiness contagious. Also, there’s the chestnut that you’re only as happy as your unhappiest kid at any given moment, so there’s that.

Overall, 2019 provided us enough adventure, learning, and laziness to satisfy everyone’s pallet, although definitely not enough ice cream truck chasing.

The goal, as I told the kids before school started up again, is to keep the summer sense of adventure and play throughout the year. To be sure, this is markedly more challenging without large chunks of empty space in our daily calendar, which makes it all the more necessary.

This summer, I read two books about immortality  –  Circe and Eternal Life. Then I read Almost Everything, which deals with mortality. All three good reads in very different ways. The common bond among the three books is the message that mortality is good. Deep stuff for summer.

Olio Live, performed selections from the Pulitzer-Prize winning Olio, is a brilliant, challenging, and thoroughly satisfying listen. I hope to get my hands on the book and experience the complete works in print form.

Also got to read along with my youngest as she tackled Harry Potter. She needed some guidance with the Britishisms and keeping track of minor characters. We sat side by side and read to ourselves, with her asking questions as they arose. The introduction into the magic of that world is truly one of the things I love most about parenting. I had the same experience with one of my twins several years ago. The other twin never took to Harry Potter, although he appreciates it. This is the same way I feel about Shakespeare, which is near heresy for an English major and former English teacher.

We watched a few of the Mission Impossible movies again, starting with the most recent (not great) and working backward (better). We’ll probably watch the remainder of them in coming weeks.  Watching backwards is not really prohibitive, and prevents viewer disappointment. Plus Tom Cruise’s face grows more normal.

Go from this…
Image result for tom cruise mission impossible ghost protocol
to this!


My writing clicked along. I learned I might have aphantasia  which means I don’t see images in my mind, and certainly don’t create mental movies when I write. It makes things harder, especially writing description. I’ve always skipped over long descriptions in books because, well, they seemed kind of pointless. Just say they’re in a dungeon. I get the general concept. Move on. I don’t need to read about every nook, bat, and drip of water. That means nothing to me. Writing a novel forces me to approach description with care. I think my lack of a traditional mind’s eye can actually be an asset, a pipeline to keeping description adequate while moving the story along.

Here are some highlights of what I liked on the internet this month:

Some changes to the website in design and content coming in the next few months…looking forward to it all!

Happy September!

World Eater: My Favorite Books (and more!) of 2015


My time is a wild animal resisting domestication. A casualty of that has been my hard-to-shake belief that reading for pleasure was a luxury during this time and place of motherhood.

To sit still and travel, to be unavailable while fully visible, to ignore the now, to bathe in someone else’s imagination felt and feels decadent, and too often the to-dos make me feel unworthy of such extravagance.

When young, I would devour fiction, consuming worlds at a pace that sometimes meant the beauty of entire swaths of words was sacrificed to gobble plot and character.

But I grew up and responsibilities and goals took over, or were thrust upon me. Read for school. Build a resume for college. Learn for work. Keep reading for work.

When I taught, almost all reading was career-focused: either trade publications or young adult novels that I could share with the students, or whatever the texts I had to teach that year. Even summer was awash in reading for others.

Responsible reading.

Permissible reading.


I am not proud of this literary lapse.

I suppose it was the heady, panicked sacrifice of “me time,” and then the sacrifice of not sleeping well for years due to early motherhood. I had no focus or energy. Once the kids were asleep, if I sat down, I fell asleep. I could read short pieces in spare moments, but I had no time nor ability to retain any information from a longer piece. Fiction didn’t interest me as I could barely make sense of my own reality.

It was a fallow period.

No wonder I couldn’t write. I wasn’t nourishing myself as a reader, and I decided to stop that nonsense this year. I tiptoed back into it, starting with books I could justify as helping my career or my volunteer work, then I allowed myself to completely sink into books that had no practical application whatsoever other than nudging me in all the right places.

I still struggle to find time to read, mind you. But I insist on thirty minutes a day, minimum. No maximum. No excuses.

Here are some highlights of what I enjoyed reading this year:

  • Nora Ephron’s Crazy Salad and Scribble Scribble: Some Things About WomenA complaint on Goodreads is that this book is dated. I think that’s part of the fascination and charm for me, the ability to see certain parts of feminism in its second wave tween years. She wrote with a voice familiar to me, educated East Coast Jew who is highly amused by the whole rotten thing.
  • Erma Bombeck’s Family – the Ties that Bind and Gag and am in the throes of Forever, Erma (which I am in the final pages of): The later more easily fits into my “sometimes I only have five minutes to read” lifestyle, but both are warm and hilarious and better than almost any “mommy blog” out there.
  • The Second Coming by W.B. Yeats: I never thought I’d be one to read poetry on purpose. It seemed the stuff of English class and academia. What I fool I’ve been.
  • Geek Love: Years after it took the world by storm, I plowed through this book with curiosity and hunger and a bit of reader’s vertigo. Katherine Dunn made me feel wonderfully woozy, a feeling I’ve so far only had when I’ve read John Irving and Chaim Potak.
  • The Ocean at the End of the Lane: not a children’s tale, although a tale of childhood. Magical, lyrical, beautiful. I hated finishing it. I am fully on the Neil Gaiman fan-wagon.

There were other books, some better than others, all worthwhile. I long ago decided life is too short to finish reading a book for pleasure that isn’t. I fortunately had no books this year that I started and quit, although I am admittedly struggling to finish Damon Knight’s classic Creating Short Fiction.

I have more than 200 books on my to-read list. I cannot wait

Not books, but noteworthy:

  • The New Yorker: There is nothing else that murmurs “Lazy Sunday morning with perfectly balanced coffee” as this magazine does.
  • Writer’s Digest: pleasant and more often useful than not.
  • It takes a spectacular show for me not to fall asleep in front of the television. Jon Stewart kept me awake, informed, and impassioned. I mourn heavily the loss of him on my watch list. I do love the man and his team. He may be the reason we finally break down and get HBO.
  • Speaking of HBO, my husband and I are finally watching Season Five of Game of Thrones. We have to wait until it comes out on Amazon prime. It’s a rich show, but not too rich to binge upon. As the kids are enjoying two (!) nights at Grandma and Grandpa’s, we should be done with the whole season by the New Year. Then the wait begins anew.
  • I enjoy Shark Tank for the sheer Americanness of it all. The tackiness. The hopeful. The stories. The earnestness. The money. The math. The occasional “But I worked so hard!” The ingenuity.
  • I watch Walking Dead between my fingers.
  • I Doctor Who and I Star Trek and I Firefly whenever I see it on.
  • Archer makes me laugh without fail.

My movie list has films dating back over a decade.

I think I went to two movies in a theater this year, both children’s movies. Neither worth mentioning.

  • My family loved watching Inside Out and all the Harry Potter movies.
  • I loved: Unbroken, Departures, American Splendor, Imitation Game, Interstellar, The Theory of Everything, The Wolf of Wall Street, Bernie
  • I enjoyed: Wild, Guardians of the Galaxy, Cake, American Sniper, Edge of Tomorrow, Lucy, The Hundred-Foot Journey

Ultimately though, I enjoyed the act of once again being a pleasure-seeking world eater.