Archive for December, 2010

December 31st, 2010

» 2010 Review

At the start of 2010, I made 5 goals. Report card time!

  • Post more than last year. Success! This is post #37, and I only had 16 in 2009. It’s not super-fantabulous, but honestly it’s better than I expected I’d do.
  • Read more; keep track of it. Win! The goal was 24 books, and I ended at 29, AND I at least mentioned everything I (remembered I) read. I want to do this again in 2011.
  • Take more pictures. I — did take pictures. I don’t know that I took more pictures. I definitely didn’t go out specifically on picture-taking missions, and I still feel shy about toting my camera places. Still a lot of room for improvement here. I’ll give myself half on this one.
  • Travel. Check! (Hi past self!)
  • Start cooking again. FAIL. Utter fail. This goes back on the list for next year.

And, to be thorough, the list of stuff-I’d-like-to-do-but-probably-won’t:

  • Website facelift. Yep, didn’t do this! I also bought a domain for the Poe-face that I’ve done jack all with.
  • Write about Peru. Also didn’t do this! I have started writing about Bali, though. I feel like I should get half credit here…
  • Write fiction. Decidedly not done, not a bit.

Final score: 4/5. I’m pretty happy with that. My last hope for 2010 was that it would be better than the last part of 2009. I’ve been struggling a lot in the last month or two, feeling pretty bad about some things, but there’s no question that 2010 was overall a big improvement. And I’m going into 2011 positive: I’m doing what I can about the unhappy stuff, and trying to cultivate a better attitude toward the things out of my control. I used to be really good at that, at taking deep breaths and side-stepping fear, and I think I can be again.

Happy New Year, everyone.

December 31st, 2010

» 24 Books: December & 2010

I bought three books for my Bali trip, imagining myself lounging glamorously beachside, in little coffee shops, maybe on rooftop verandas; I was definitely going to read a lot on the plane rides. On the way over I ended up watching a lot of movies and doing cross-stitch, my head too much of a whirl to settle into any book; there, I spent the whole trip working through The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle.

On the flight back, though, I finally cracked Kushiel’s Dart, by Jacqueline Carey. I don’t know that it was the best choice for my sleep-addled, wandering frame of mind; it’s a fantasy book crammed with strange, vaguely French names and lots of court intrigue & politicking. Very early on I sort of gave up on trying to keep track of the names and the politics, and just let the story carry me along, hoping that it would all come clear in the end. It did, more or less, and I enjoyed it. The world is Terre d’Ange, a place where everyone is breathtakingly gorgeous, and the people are all about art, refinement, and beauty. The central character is Phèdre nó Delaunay (see?), who is marked from birth as a masochist, and raised as a courtesan and spy. There was basically no trashy romance novel to the book, despite the premise and cover art, and she ends up being a pretty kick-ass, strong lead character. I’m not sure I’m up to sorting through another 900 pages of political intrigue and French names so I may forgo the sequel — and definitely won’t try it again in the middle of two days without sleep — but overall I enjoyed it.

There’s a good chance you’ve already heard of the newest rage in YA fiction: The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins. I loved it, and devoured it in the course of a couple days. If you like YA fiction, particularly dystopic, you should like this one. The second and third books on the series are at the top of my to-read list.

The last of the bunch was my run-away favorite: The Name of the Wind, by Patrick Rothfuss. This one kept me up past midnight on a work night, and when I discovered yesterday that the second book in the trilogy isn’t out until March, there was much wailing & gnashing of teeth. Particularly since that means it’s likely another three years or more before the third book… I’ve gone on and on about how I like to go into books knowing as little about them as possible, and I’m sure you’ve noticed that when I have no complaints about a book I pretty much say “I liked it; you should try it” — and that’s what I’m doing now. If you’re a synopsis reader, Amazon has lots for you!

2010 Book Count: 29 (+4 fluff)
January: 2 (+3 fluff)
February: 4
March: 3
April: 2 (+1)
May: 1
June: 5
July: 1
August: 1
Sep-Nov: 7
Dec: 3

And, for fun (or my own record-keeping enjoyment, I guess), the complete 2010 list:

  • The Innocent, by Harlan Coben, read by Scott Brick
  • Watership Down, by Richard Adams
  • 4 romance novels
  • Odd & the Frost Giants, by Neil Gaiman, read by Neil Gaiman
  • various Buffy Season 8 comics
  • Angel: After the Fall comics
  • Sign of the Labrys, by Margaret St. Clair
  • The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society; by Mary Ann Shaffer & Annie Barrows; read by Paul Boehmer, Susan Duerden, Rosalyn Landon, John Lee, & Juliet Mills
  • The Foundling, Georgette Heyer
  • SuperFreakonomics, by Steven D Levitt & Stephen J Dubner
  • A Study in Scarlet and The Adventure of the Speckled Band, by Arthur Conan Doyle, read by Simon Prebble
  • The Pru-Bache Murder: The Fast Life and Grisly Death of a Millionaire Stockbroker, by Jeffrey Taylor
  • The Fox Woman, by Kij Johnson
  • Dead in the Family, by Charlaine Harris
  • Dragon Keeper, by Robin Hobb, read by Anne Flosnick
  • Dragon Haven, by Robin Hobb
  • A Single Man, by Christopher Isherwood, read by Simon Prebble
  • When You Reach Me, by Rebecca Stead, read by Cynthia Holloway
  • Lone Survivor, by Marcus Luttrell with Patrick Robinson
  • The Warrior Elite: The Forging of Seal Class 228, by Dick Couch
  • Tongues of Serpents, by Naomi Novik
  • Let the Right One In (or Let Me In), by John Ajvide Lindqvist
  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, by J. K. Rowling, read by Jim Dale
  • Fool, by Christopher Moore, read by Euan Morton
  • The Lust Lizard of Melancholy Cove, by Christopher Moore, read by Oliver Wyman
  • Island of the Sequined Love Nun, by Christopher Moore, read by Oliver Wyman
  • Room; by Emma Donoghue; read by Michal Friedman, Ellen Archer, Suzanne Toren & Robert Petkoff
  • The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, by Haruki Murakami
  • Kushiel’s Dart, by Jacqueline Carey
  • The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins
  • The Name of the Wind, by Patrick Rothfuss

I feel like I need a new book-related goal for 2011, but I’m not sure what it should be. Maybe to read more Literature?

December 28th, 2010

» Bali: Tue 23 Nov 2010

In the morning we decide to press on to Ubud. We arrange a taxi — 180,000 Rp for the 1 hour 15 minute trip. We pack but decide to spend the morning in the bright blue front pool, which is glorious. We swim and splash for 45 minutes, then read on lounge chairs as we dry out, surrounded by the fragrance of incense and flowers.

Read the rest of this entry »

December 11th, 2010

» Bali: Mon 22 Nov 2010

We arrive in Denpasar at 2:15 am local time, Monday. In the crush of cabbies outside the airport we bargain ours from a ridiculous 250,000 rupiah ($25) down to 50,000 Rp. It’s a short ride from the airport to Kuta, where we’re dropped at one end of Poppies 1, a narrow road jammed, at this hour, with closed shops, the alleys littered with offerings — woven bowls of flowers & incense.

The air is thick, heady with incense, and overhead the sky rumbles. We trudge down the street looking for Masa Inn — when we find it, we discover an oasis of dark gleaming carved wood, two courtyards surrounding brilliantly blue pools, a lawn littered with flower petals. After 30-some hours, it feels so good to be here.

Read the rest of this entry »

December 11th, 2010

» Bali: Sat 20 Nov 2010

  • MSP > Chicago > Seoul > Denpasar

Favorite thing of the day, as of 11 am CST: Korean Air has a frequent flier/airline club called Morning Calm. Not sure what you get with it or where the name came from, but it is awesome.

The female flight attendants all have these crazy awesome outfits, including giant barrette things in a soothing sort of mint teal color, and bold scarves tied around their necks (same color or white). [I included a little sketch in my journal but it's very much not worth putting here.]

So far on this flight (Chicago to Seoul) I’ve watched “Salt,” “Inception,” “Despicable Me,” and slept through “Tarbosaurus, the Mightiest Ever.” This flight is 14 hours; to Denpasar is another 7. No clue what will be left to do by then…

Read the rest of this entry »