Learning New Words: Consider it done!

Um so guys, here’s the thing. My whole learning new words goal? I’ve stumbled on the holy grail of awesome and amazing words, and now I’m pretty obsessed with the blog.

from deadwords.info

This blog is so beautiful and well crafted and makes me jealous and convinced that I need spend the next ten years hiding in a whole and working on my own (nonexistent) design work. But, you know, in a good way. Also this blog shared with me the amazingness that is…. THIS LINK

I’ll still share fun new words, but man I have to come up with a new, fun way of how….

DIY Bird Pin

I’ve been admiring the blog Diversions for quite some time, and in particular, I love this pin she has. I’ve been admiring it for a solid month or so before realizing that I could make my own. I had a leftover wooden bird silhouette from something or other, so I used some painters tape, an exacto knife, acrylics, hot glue, pin back, and felt to make…

I’m in love. It was super easy–it took about half an hour total, and I’ve worn it almost daily. This is what it looks like actually on:

In The Board Room

*Note: this is what it looks like, unedited. Be gentle, but constructive, if you must.

Sitting in the meeting, she is calm and she is still. With her head leaning at a slight forward angle, and her lids slipping down her eyes, she looks almost half asleep. She’s awake, though, listening to everyone else’s garbled words, translating each letter and placing its data onto a graph etched in her brain, plotting each point behind her muffled ears, until the pattern begins.

It starts to form, a clear cluster, a gradual slope etched out. Her head nods upward, one hand following the motion like a marionette, following the arc of motion to resting still again.

“Well what if…”

And it begins. Her head nods up again, this time with both hands trailing along on their strings. The wave of motion continues this time, though, as her puppeteer hands gain in momentum, circling outward in waves that grow to try to contain her expanding idea, to accommodate the line being driven through the dots.

“…Because if I can just…”

Her eyes are open now, th elides give way to the fierce determination blazing a brilliantly glowing line across the graph. Swooping her hands onward still, her whole odd leans forward to include even the anomalous clusters scattered across the graph. her eyes keep watching for new points appearing, points to be gathered in with her outstretched arms, even the points taller than she that require yogi stretching, straining to reach that final, elusive dot.

Her body pauses, the calm after a heavy exhale.

One hand still raised, grasping tentatively, her other slides in line with her posture, forming to a delicate, gentle curve. Her lids regain their weigh and begin again their descent, shades lowering to keep the blinding glow safely contained.

“Then that would be…”

The hand above her head, reassured that all the plots on the chart are accounted for, categorized, and included, falls gently to her side, folding into her body’s angle. Her chin pulls towards her neck as the strings grow slack and the key waits to be wound once more.

Family Portrait

My Mother’s Day card. I’m the awkward gawky one on the far right, my mom’s in the middle, my sister’s on the far left. The animals (from left to right) are Sidney, Lyra, Ginsburg and the cats Sophie and Maddie. My mom is hands down my biggest fan and the one who is a constant force of positive and encouragement in my life. She’s pretty awesome.

Match-Tastitc Nail Art

I really need to work on getting my toothpick polka dots to be actual circles, instead of raindrops. Practice will make perfect, hopefully!The left thumb and right ring finger design was made with masking tape. I love how it looks on top of the glitter, so I’ll probably do a whole set with just funky designs like that. Also, in case you can’t tell, yes–yes I did match my outfit to my nails perfectly. I’m a dork, I am aware. I am okay with that.

Combined Glitters: Snow-Man of My Dreams, Nicole by OPI (blue) and Strobe Light, Sally Hansen Xtreme Wear
Happily Ever After, ORly
Lacey Lilac, Sally Hansen XTreme wear
Innocent, Sinful Colors
Invisible, Sall Hansen XTreme wear

Into The Beautiful North

Into The Beautiful North, Luis Alberto Urrea
5.3.12 – 5.5.12

Reading a book about a strong Mexican woman seems like a fantastic way to celebrate Cinco de Mayo, eh? I picked up this book on Thursday when I was having just a horrible time. Truth is, I get slapped down with bouts of depression from time to time, and I’ve learned that the best way to cope is to escape into a book when everything else is too painful. Urrea is an author I’ve had recommended to me multiple times before, but I never could get through the first few pages of The Hummingbird’s Daughter before getting distracted with something else.

I’m beyond glad that I gave Urrea another chance, because he didn’t disappoint–not in the least. This book was a beautiful, whirlwind escape for me to hide out in for a few days. Reading was quick and flowed smoothly. The dialogue was the perfect blend of English and Spanish, seamlessly creating an impression of their interchangeable, imperfect flow of languages.

The story itself is fairly simple, and outright tells you it copies The Magnificent Seven, but Urrea uses the formulaic plot to showcase Mexican cultures, Mexican relationships with Americans, as well as other countries, and it’s an unabashed look at how Americans treat strangers in our country, without generalizations. Which is impressive.

In The Realm Of Hungry Ghosts

In The Realm of Hungry Ghosts, Gabor Mate
4.17.12 – 5.2.12

Writing a review for this book feels like pulling teeth. To have to recapture what I spend two weeks absorbing and then to spit it out in a neat package of words feels very… if not daunting, then inappropriate. Inappropriate in the sense that I’m sure I won’t be able to do it justice, but I suppose I can attempt at it anyway.

His book takes two approaches to his subject, addition, and he uses those two approaches simultaneously throughout to create a very complete experience for the reader. He addresses addiction on a very technical side–examining what research has taught us (or is trying to teach us, if we would only listen) about the scenarios leading up to, and then resulting from, addictive behaviors. He has nearly endless footnotes and appendixes to support this aspect of his book, and I was pleased with the research.

The technical side isn’t daunting or unreadable. I know I didn’t retain everything, but it was laid out in a very accessible format, and that was essential for his other approach to the book–the human approach.

He works with “these people”, people who have addictions. He has an addiction himself that he is honest about explaining. He uses the stories of those around him to create a very human face to what society has accepted a very ignorable problem. He lets readers acknowledge their aversion to making eye contact on the street, and without guilting them about their behaviors, he lets readers know that our society’s health depends on our willingness to not ignore those dealing with problems bigger than anything we could dream up.

It’s a very powerful book, and I’ve recommended it already to multiple people in my life. Some, because they work in a similar field or have compatible interests. Others, because the reality check and wake up call in this book is so thoughtfully and accessibly done that I prefer handing them this book, rather than yell at them about needing to face facts.

It’s a wake up call for me, as well, and it’s one I hope I don’t ignore. The wake up call from this book is tenfold–the reader is reminded to not ignore their own problems, as well as to not ignore others’. It’s a personal, individual wake up call that I need to remember, as well as a greater, broader call to action.

I finished reading this book in a park on the water, alone, facing the waves. The serenity and calm from my surroundings helped solidify the message. Deciding to read this book is like deciding to engage in a process that will force you to grow and stretch as a person. It won’t be easy, and it won’t always be fun. I’m pretty sure I cried solidly through at least two chapters. It’s worth it, though.

Lets Pretend This Never Happened

Let’s Pretend This Never Happened, Jenny Lawson
4.25.12 – 4.28.12

I can’t recommend this book enough. It’s not a masterpiece of carefully crafted metaphors, and it’s not a follow up to Tolstoy. It’s not very clean and polished, nor is every sentence constructed with a surgeon’s precision.

It is, however, honest. It’s a hug to those people who need it. This book is an amazing reminder about how fallible humans can be, and how, in the end (or the middle, or the beginning, or sporadically throughout), it will be okay. Whatever concern  you had, whatever secret fear or anxiety you hide away in your heart–it’s okay. You’re not alone.

This book is like getting the most awkward, semi-inappropriate hug on a day where you really need someone, anyone, even a stranger, to tell you that you’re alright. Because you are.

I’ll admit, I’m one of the many people who bought this book because I’m a huge fan of Jenny Lawson’s blog, TheBloggess.com. It’s a website full of writing that is a combination of hilarious, painful, and comforting. She’s an amazing writer, but not in a classic sense. I was surprised but also relieved that the book follows in the same style as her blog. It’s partly just a stream of conscious full of her correcting herself as she goes, and partly an earnest pouring out of her story. And her story is definitely worth hearing. Mostly so you’ll know that whatever anxiety you have about whatever bizarre random thing you’re afraid of happening, you can rest assured that it’s already happened to someone else.

I have a feeling I’m not doing the book justice, but I hope the end impression of this review is that I loved it. I deal with some intense battles with anxieties and depression, and I read this book right before facing some of my reoccurring monsters. That turns out to be the perfect time to read it, since that book turned into a shield I could use to defend myself, comforted in the knowledge that there is someone out there who deals with similar battles, and she is even weirder than I am.

Oh yes, yes I did read this book with a glass (or two or three) of wine

Troubles

Troubles, J.G Farrell
4.4.12 – 4.22.12

I picked this book up after finishing (what was apparently second in the series) The Siege of Krishnapur. I loved that book, and found that through the recommendation of Tasha from What Would A Nerd Wear. Somehow my brain got jumbled, though, and when I thought all the recommendations were for Siege, they were all for Troubles. So I moseyed over and found myself a copy.

…And didn’t like it nearly as much as Siege of Krishnapur. Which isn’t to say I didn’t like it, but…

The first half felt stuffy and a bit thick. Once I picked up on the (fairly obvious) metaphor about the house, though, the whole book seemed to fall into a similarly snarktasktic rhythm of Siege. This book was written first, and was supposed to be first in the trilogy, which I can see definitely makes sense. Reading this one first prevents you from making too many comparisons to Siege, so you don’t pick up on all the awkward, first-book-growing-pains as Farrell falls into his rhythm.  This book was definitely solid, though, and well written.

Since it covers the Ireland during Irish War of Independence and all its accompanying political upheaval, I think my wet and rainy Northwest setting was perfect. Reading it in college coffee shops helps set you in the appropriately underground and revolutionary undertones that are being squelched throughout the book by its main, British characters. Sipping on a hot cup of black tea while listening to the water dripping down your single pane windows is the easiest way to relate to the characters, apart from actually boiling a sheep’s head and leaving the skull under your bathroom sink. Not that you’d want to relate to them, of course.

Tape Me Some Pretty Nails

This one was fun, guys. Fresh nail polish ideas are abundant on the internet, so it’s fun to actually put that whole internet-thing to use. I used this tutorial. For the record, I found that tutorial through one of my favorite blogs-to-stalk, The Dainty Squid. I have a ridiculously silly fangirl crush on that chick, and her weekly nails are ones I plan on copying for this endeavor.

Oh, also, you’ll have to excuse the silly hand positioning, but right before my friend took the photo I realized I had the woman I volunteer with’s number on my hand, and it would be so so so so a breach of confidentiality to share that with the world!

So the tutorial itself kind of blew my mind–using scotch tape for as DIY stickers is just…well, it’s mind blowing. I did learn a couple things, though

First, don’t be impatient waiting for the top coat to dry. I know, I know, common sense, right? Wrong. Clearly I lack common sense. Exhibit A–my thumb.

Also, maybe don’t try to put light colors on top of dark colors. It’s another color-basics skill that I seem to lack, but I thought it’d look good. I’m not disappointed with my nails, but I think the light on dark showed off the opaque level of polish I was using. I did put three or four coats on the tape, but a fifth is probably necessary if I want to layer light on dark.

For the record, I did a quick touch up with a hot pink by Sally Hansen almost identical to the original Sinful Colors one I used, and that worked better. So maybe it was the nail polish quality itself.

Nail Polishes: Chinchilly & Adore-A-Ball from Essie, Top Coat from Sally Hansen’s X-treme Wear collection, Boogie Nights from Sinful Colors