Recap of January’s Reads

Historically speaking, January is always my busiest month for reading. Something about the new year just inspires me to buckle down with my books, I guess. Here’s a quick recap of everything I finished* in January.

January Books

Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell finished 1-2-13 *
This book inspired its own mini post, and was a gift from my Dad. My sister Carol gets credit for finding it and introducing it to my family, though. A much deeper read than I originally expected, it’s a novel that spans centuries of mankind and postulates on slavery, self-empowerment, and the power of hope.

The Hottest Dishes of the Tartar Cuisine by Alina Bronsky finished 1-5-12
It took me several attempts to finish this book, and I must have read the first 15 – 20 pages a half a dozen times during 2012 before finally settling into a rhythm and honestly reading it. It’s a (failed) attempt at comedy that features a hyper-narcissistic woman as the first-person narrator and touches on themes (including pedophilia and emotional abuse) that I found, in the end, inappropriately handled. I don’t need to like a protagonist in order to like a book, but in this case the author wrote the narrator too antagonistically, leaving me to find not just her character but the whole book unredeemable. 

Marbles by Ellen Forney finished 1-6-13 *
Ellen Forney is a local Seattlelite who draws regularly for The Stranger, and reading her graphic memoir about her journey with a bipolar diagnosis was a very intense and beautiful experience. Her art style was masterfully used to capture the varying moods that accompany her diagnosis, and her attention to detail in her research outside of her own specific experience places this squarely on the Required Reading list for anyone diagnosed with a personality disorder, and anyone who has friends or family with such a diagnosis. I could go on for hours about how much I loved and was impacted by this book, but hopefully this quickie review sums up my appreciation thoroughly enough.

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie finished 1-12-13
This was unintentionally the perfect follow up to read Forney’s
Marbles, since she was the illustrator for this young-adult novel. Alexie is also a local Seattlelite with his writings appearing regularly in The Stranger, and this was his first novel I’ve read. It was beautifully and honestly written about an American Indian boy who very bravely steps out of his tribe in search of a better education and economic opportunities. Alexie doesn’t dumb down the writing or gloss over the issues of race and acceptance in this novel and effectively reaches his audience with the raw portrayal of the protagonist’s experiences.

Reached by Ally Condie finished 1-14-13
I read this at the suggestion from my friend Violet over at List Love Laugh. It’s the third in a Young Adult trilogy that is basically a plot combination of Hunger Games (romantic angles) and The Giver (societal structure). The whole thing was fairly well written, although it lacked any amount of originality for me to feel comfortable promoting it. I was a huge fan of The Giver growing up, though, so I was happy to read a three-part storyline about a world almost identical to The Givers. 

The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zappo finished 1-16-13
This is one of my sister’s favorite books and she gave it to my mom for her book club. Then she gave the original Spanish version to my dad for Christmas. See what I mean about passing books around? I had to get it for myself, and I really enjoyed the story. It was super creepy and scared me in a couple of spots. I’ve never really read mysteries, mostly because I feel like I’m supposed to have it all figured out but I never do. In this story, about a boy who saves an old book and finds a mystery surrounding it, I had the mystery solved in the first twenty pages. And then I was wrong. And then I solved it again. And then I was wrong. And then I solved it aga—-catch my drift? Basically, it was a ton of fun. Creepy creepy fun.

Just My Type by Simon Garfield finished 1-21-13 *
I had a lot of high hopes for this book, which presents itself as a design history of typography. Mostly, though, it’s just a type nerd nerding out over his favorite fonts. The history was fairly rich, but I was a little stumped by the lack of examples and diagrams of fonts. I think this book would have gained a lot from almost instruction-like illustrations. It was an easy read, but I don’t feel like I gained anything out of it. Especially since he’s a little harsh in how he bashes Brush font, which I happen to use on the blog. And don’t think I’ll be changing anytime soon.

Animorphs # 8, 14, 26, 33 + The Andalite Chronicles + The Ellimist Chronicles  by KA Applegate
Okay so in the realm of guilty pleasures, these books are definitely it. I look for them every time I’m in a used bookstore or thrift store because they are the best easy, half hour reads for me. I love them like candy.

*These books were technically started in the last week of December, or in the case of the last one, I’ve been reading it on and off for months, but I’m still counting them for January. Since that’s when I finished them.

DIY Faux Taxidermy Brooch

DIY mounted animal head brooch

Hey guys! I was working on a project the other day and thought it’d be a fun DIY to share with you. First, gather your supplies.

You WIll Need

 

The next part is creating the baseboard for your animal head to mount on. I rolled out my clay using a wooden knitting needle, and it’s important to do it on top of wax paper or else the clay will stick to fucking everything. Trust me. Also I freehanded the mount after a quick google search.

step two

Okay so don’t actually do that last step. I did, though, after an irritatingly cocky moment of being a know-it-all when it comes to baking fimo clay. It was pretty bad, guys, and I almost didn’t redo the project. However, once you have properly baked the fimo clay, here’s what’s next.

animal beheading

 

It felt so dark and wrong, but it was also kind of fun. I’ve been waiting to behead a plastic animal for a long time now. Also, I’d recommend cutting at an angle similar to the one pictured, to make sure the animal sits right. You need to be careful that if antlers are involved, they won’t be smooshed into the mounting piece.

I didn’t take a picture of the next part, but when it dries, go ahead and paint your fellow. I painted him with two coats of white because I’ve been drooling over white faux taxidermied animal heads on Etsy. Especially this one. To cover the antlers in glitter I let the white paint dry, carefully covered the antlers in rubber cement and dumped a ton of Martha Stewart glitter on them. I tapped off the excess and used a dry paintbrush to de-glitter the non-glued parts. Then I covered the antlers in a coat of clear nail polish so the glitter won’t contaminate everything I pin my brooch to.

For the brooch part:

pinback

 

 

I opted to pin him to my suspenders and wear him to work. Where I received a half-hearted, confused compliment from one of my photography sessions.

pin on outfit

Friday Fiction

friday fiction

So I want to make a point of having my Friday Fiction exist solely for myself, although I’m inviting random strangers to read it as well. This is a place of rough drafts, initial free writes, and the pre-editing stage. Today’s clip was inspired by an imaginary conversation I heard in my head, and it turned into a rough outline of a young adult novel. Which is a genre I’ve never dabbled with before. Today’s clip is really short because, if all goes according to plan, next week you’ll see the same piece only presented the way I envision it. That is, a la graphic novel style.

“Did you know you can change the color of your eyes by thinking about an exact color for ten minutes every night before you go to sleep?”

Those were the first words I ever heard Summer speak, and I knew right away she was different. She had an other-ness about her that I recognized.

“That’s stupid, everyone knows that doesn’t work.”

That would be Susie, the queen bee of eight grade and an utter, total snob. It bothered me, the way she dismissed the new girl’s claim, as if everyone had heard that trick and tried it at slumber parities in the sixth grade or something. I mean, I had never heard it before, much less applied the theory to practical experimentation.

I’ll admit, though, later that night I did test it out. I thought of the color of our vibrant, obsessively-maintained front lawn. It’s my dad’s pride and joy, and it’s even won a couple awards from our neighborhood organization. He keeps them on display in the formal room. Anyway, I held that color in my mind for as long as I could stay awake last night.

What to Wear to Karaoke


what to wear
I’m not the singer in my little unit, anyone will tell you that. The closest I get to the stage is practicing harmonics with David in the car, and trust me when I say I fail epically. Which means all I’ve got to go on is my amazingly stunning stage presence. And clearly I’m all about the bright colors and bird patterns. Oh and mini skirts are always a crowd pleaser.

Marci 1-23-13 Karaoke Full

Shirt & Skirt: H&M | Sweater: Target | Tights: Gift | Shoes: Payless

Seriously, though, I’ve done karaoke a total of two times in my life. Once in high school, at Yearbook Camp* where I sang Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds with a group of girls even though I had never heard the song before (shamefully, I know, but let’s not talk about it), and once more recently at Alicia’s place, after her husband got a karaoke machine for his birthday.

Marci 1-23-13 Karaoke CLose Up

It was a pretty sweet night, and I sung myself hoarse. David and I opened up the stage with an intensely passionate rendition of Hooked On A Feeling, which will always be our go-to song. We used to sing it at the top of our lungs every single time we got in his car, complete with smacking the doors and stamping our feet to provide the drumbeat. Good times.

Marci 1-23-13 Karaoke Collage

So watch the video below (because I know I did like five times while writing this) and then go check out the rest of the crazy cool cats who participate in WiW for their awesome karaoke outfits!

Nicole: Gypsy in Jasper
Sondra: Abhaya Yoga
Lisa: notladylike
Sarah: Exploring Woods

Lisa: lala faux bois
Shayla: Northern Exposure

*Oh heck yes I was one of those kids. I also went to Journalism Camp, since I was the editor for both the yearbook and the school paper.

Italo Calvino said: The more enlightened our houses are, the more their walls ooze ghosts.

This is someone else's house, full of someone else's ghosts

This is someone else’s house, full of someone else’s ghosts

I clicked on the Inspire Me button again, and now all I can think about is how many different ghosts of myself I’ve left places, scattering them haphazardly in the halls of where I used to live. I have theories on ghosts that are more appropriate for a different day. I also have theories about ourselves, and what we leave behind. I’ve lived in a few different houses and every time I moved, somehow I changed into someone else. The little girl who lived in the sun-scorched hills of southern California was transformed entirely by the rain-drenched foggy graylands of the Northwest where she spent the rest of her life. The girl who moved out of our first house in the northwest left behind traces of all her awkward, ungaily innocence and became someone else that lived in the glitzy, oversized luxury apartments. That girl was someone full of dreams, but weetzie bat dreams with traces of darkness that were readily discarded when we moved into the comfortable house in the suburbs that we made our own with Tetris-painted garage doors.

It makes me really sad that I never took a picture of our Tetris garage doors

It makes me really sad that I never took a picture of our Tetris garage doors

I think of all the pieces of me living in those different places and I feel nostalgic. I know that I’ve been the same person throughout, but sometimes the changes feel so radical that my brain can’t reconcile memories of who I was with who I turned into. I recall memories from only a few years ago and wonder who that person was and where she went. It’s easier, simpler, to picture the moment of stepping away from those doors was the moment my body split in half. Half of me stays behind, haunting those walls with my memories while half of me goes on to figure out how the new will mold itself around my skin and change the person I am.

Important Life Lesson–Don’t Ignore Problems

I’ve written before about how biking is my main mode of transportation. It’s my thing, and it’s how I travel the 8 mile round trip to my job. And I’ve learned that unless I wear a really thick scarf, sometimes two, breathing is going to be an extremely painful thing. You have asthma David said insistently and repeatedly. I just need to drink some warm tea I would wheeze back as I thoroughly ignored the problem.

Marci with Helmet

People who know me in real life know that I get a little obsessive when it comes to worrying. I worry about a lot of things, many of which deserve not even half an iota of my brain space. Asthma, though? I ignored the problem. I wrote it off as me being out of shape, despite several signs to the contrary. Despite having had asthma attacks in the past (they ended when my sister or a friend with an inhaler handed me it, said oh my god just try this). Cue last Thursday night, when I couldn’t breathe. The fog has been particularly bad around these here parts and have led to a build up of some nasty air pollution. It felt like I was having a panic attack, but no matter how calm I tried to be, it wouldn’t go away. I fell asleep breathing shallowly and refusing to let myself panic and assumed it would be over when I woke up.

This scarf has become one of the only scarves thick enough to help me breathe.

This scarf has become one of the only scarves thick enough to help me breathe.

My morning plans with my mom were promptly rerouted when I mentioned I was still having a hard time taking deep breaths and she asked why I was being so damn stubborn about not seeing a doctor. One (surprisingly pleasant) trip to the nearby walk in clinic later, and it’s official.

Marci Asthma Shot

David gets his I Told You So card and I get two inhalers. You think I would have learned my lesson about ignoring signs from my body at this point, but yesterday proved otherwise when I ignored the oncoming migraine, to the point of going grocery shopping. It took me sitting on the couch and wondering why I felt like throwing up before my brain finally connected the pieces that it was because I was in so much pain and maybe it was time for me to turn off the lights, put the book away, and go lay down.

Baby steps, people. Baby steps.

Currently: Jumping on the Bandwagon

currently header

Drinking //  Apple “sidra” (normal soda) from Taiwan. I know it’s not the healthiest choice for a first-of-the-morn’ drink, but hot damn it’s so tasty!

Listening // My scanner working away as I upload some new paintings.

Anticipating // The soon-to-be day of my big reveal! Revealing what, you ask? Oh just wait, friends. Just wait. It has to do with art, though.

Planning // Above-mentioned Big Reveal, as well as my day’s plans. I don’t work, and I wanted to walk down to Value Village to check out their table collection..

Watching // Warehouse 13. I’m only a couple of episodes into it, but I tend to seek out neutrally uninteresting tv shows to have in the background while I work.

Missing // David. We spent most of the weekend apart, and this upcoming weekend I work open to close so we won’t be seeing much of each other except for that exhausted time period after he gets home from work before bed.

Loving // My life, despite the awkward work schedule. Things are working out a little easier than I expected, and I’m so grateful for it.

Going // To Value Village, and I’ve almost talked myself into swinging by for a McDonald’s breakfast McGriddle (they’re my ultimate guilty pleasure, and I haven’t had one in months)

Making me happy // Plans with friends! Kels is coming over tonight for crafting, which will rock.

This template for “Currently” came from My Billie.

Friday Fiction

friday fiction

Okay so this is a continuation on my Friday Fiction post from last week. If you haven’t read it, or don’t remember, I recommend clicking here for a refresher

It does not take long before I pull into my assigned parking spot and enter my apartment building. I keep my coat on, the collar turned up around my neck, and for a moment I feel like a secret agent or a spy. There is a trace of irony in that thought and it is enough to make me smile. I am grateful that I am not required to fumble with my keys in order to gain access to my living space–I am now down to two remaining fingers, both on my right hand. I instead look into my peephole, where I have added a useful modification. The door swings open, and I rush quickly but still calmly to my second bedroom. I limp only slightly, having grown accustomed to the nightly effects that plague my feet.

It is tricky, removing the photograph from is folder, but I am successful after two attempts, and I quickly slip it into the tray of fluid I prepare each morning. To most it would look like a developing tray for black and white film photography. I did this intentionally, to provide an easy explanation, although I have never yet invited anyone over. Nor do I plan to, to be honest. It would complicate matters, matter which are still rather too delicate to withstand complications.

I use my one remaining finger to flick the power switch on and then sit down. I am rooted to my seat because I lack any feet to stand on. My right leg ends just below the knee. My head is fuzzy, as if a swarm of bees was building a hive, and I know that more of the inner structure of my ears have vanished–the process has moved to my brain. This is why I’ve programmed the process to be mostly automatic, requiring little participation from myself. This is why I spend two hours every morning taking care of the machinery parts, looking over the programming and setting up all the preparations for my nightly ritual.

The machine starts buzzing as it finishes warming up. Right on cue, the radio switches on and classical music begins to fill the apartment, thoroughly masking any noise created from the process. My neighbors assume I am an enthusiast, and this works well. Just as being assumed an addict works well. All of the people who surround me find answers so easily, without me having to provide anything other than my silent habits.

With the Beethoven’s Concert #_ playing in the background, I closed my eyes and focused on relaxing. My breathing became a steady rhythm that found its place within the music and I allowed my whole mind to use that pattern of breathing as an escape conduit. Sending my mind into Beethoven’s music as I leave my body, I abandon what remains of my physical form to the inevitable pain that accompanies the process.

The machine began making a shredding noise which I refused to let distract me from my meditations. My eyes, mostly gone at this time, failed to recognize the brilliantly blue glowing light emerging from the box that held my photograph. I leave my thick curtains lowered for a reason.

The music is flowing from the radio and floods the room entirely, cushioning my mind the way air and gravity blend together as a container to surround my form. It keeps me enveloped in a trace, but the fringes of my mind are aware of the pain as the process begins. The light radiates outward in thin, piercing shards, aimed at where I remain seated. I have lived through this process for 363 evenings, but I have also seen it applied on others. This allows me a vividly descriptive mental image.

Still flowing along the rhythm of Beethoven’s harmonies, I watch as I slowly begin to re-emerge onto the chairs. I picture it happening in time to the music, my delicate fingers sprouting from my hand like the rebirth of springtime blades of grass through snow. My ears regain corporeal form and I watch my body’s rebirth play out in front of me. When the largest pieces of my body have been puzzled back together and the machine concentrates on the topical mapping details of freckles and brain strands, I allow myself to drift slowly and calmly back into the newly formed body. I gently urge my mind to remain mellow and relaxed, not allowing myself to tense up in anticipation of the lingering pain. Time has taught me the best way in which I should approach the process.

Carefully, without overexerting or testing out the limits of my newly formed image, I ease my eyes open. I sit there for no more than a minute, resting. Then I cautiously eased one hand up, extending one finger, and switched radio off. With the silence now surrounding me, I turn off the lights in the apartment and head to bed. The process is exhausting and I am always eager to escape to sleep. For so long now, it is the only place my mind is allowed to roam with the freedom in which is used to be accustomed to, back home. As eager as I am to sleep, though, I am conversely just as reluctant to face the dawning of a new day. For that is when my cycle begins anew.

Foggy Friendships

Okay there’s actually nothing foggy about this friendship–but it worked with the photo shoot we did, so I’m keeping my adjectives the way they are! I know I’ve talked about her before, but my darling friend Alicia is one of the bests. She blogs over at Break Out of the Bell Jar, so you can even see what I mean for yourself! Anyway, David and I rung in the New Years with her and her husband, who is David’s close friend. Their friendship is actually how her and I met, although David was just a groomsmen at their wedding, and I was the maid of honor. So, you know, suck it, David*.

Alicia & Marci 1

Ahem. New Years. Which makes these photos my official first real photos of The Library*! I think it’s also the first time I’ve done outfit photos in the middle of the street, which was pretty fun. Mildly terrifying, especially since it was super foggy and we ran the ever-present risk of being hit by a car who couldn’t see us until we were fifteen feet in front of it, but that’s how committed we are to, er, fashion blogging?

Alicia & Marci 2

I could go on for a while about why I like Alicia, but it can be better summed by saying that she’s in the Good People category. Even if she jokes about how she isn’t. Her and I are pretty different in a lot of way–religion, politics, fashion–and she often talks about how I’m her weirdest friend–most eccentric friend–she says it right here, as a matter of fact, but she’s awesome. We have a couple of big, important things in common and the biggest one of all is that we like each other. I don’t see her anywhere near often enough, so maybe that’s why I decided to write a whole rambling post about her, but when we do see each other it’s pretty seamless.

Alicia & Marci 3

*I’m just kidding. I mean, not about our roles in their wedding, but about it mattering. Those two crazy kids are equally in love with the both us.

**I don’t actually have a fear of 2013 or the number 13, but I do think this is such an ugly looking year and writing The Library is so much prettier.

Bangs Sent From Above

So I won’t lie to you guys–I was having doubts about the pink hair after I did it. I couldn’t figure out how I wanted to style them and I started feeling like a goofball weirdo for doing it. I was really random in how I decided to dye just a part of my hair, and it didn’t look the way I wanted it to. The other night I was goofing around while David and I were brushing our teeth and I pulled the dyed hair to the front of my face, mentioning I was thinking about dying it brown. Then I looked in the mirror, and realized I had given myself the perfect outline for bangs. The dye–it was destiny.

Bangs 1

This morning, after showering, I reoutlined my hair and took the scissors to it. And guys, it’s perfect. I love it and I love how they turned out. I feel so confident and adorable, and those are two things I rarely feel when I look in the mirror. I’m relishing my bangs.

Bangs 3

 

My mom is probably rolling her eyes since I think cutting my own hair is one of those things that will always bring out the parent in her, but it’s okay. She’s also rolling her eyes because every time I think about getting bangs I love love LOVE them for a whopping twelve hours, and then regret the rest of the grow out period. Well, I’m not saying that won’t happen this time, because it might, but there’s a big difference in this set of bangs–they’re hot-frickin-pink!

Bangs 2

What do you guys think? Better this way, or should I just dye it all back to brown? OH and also if you’re drooling over my scarf, know that you’re in good company. I’m so in love with it and I’m amazed that my new coworker knows me well enough to give it to me as our Secret Santa gift exchange. I am lucky.