Hello? Is anyone still reading? Or, I guess, still trying to read? Sorry about the lack of new content. I guess I should tell you I've been super busy at work or with a social life or something. But that wouldn't necessarily be true. The truth is I just fell out of the habit and have had a difficult time pushing myself back into the habit. Not sure why but this is my first step to getting back into the blogging habit.
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I spent a blissfully solitary weekend during which I had many good ideas about what to write and how to write, etc. But Saturday I was concentrating on staying out of the way of the remnants of tropical storm Gustav by not leaving the confines of my apartment and living off the odds and ends I deemed food. Mostly I read. I picked up The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway which I purchased a year or so ago from a discount shelf at Barnes & Noble and never got around to reading. My first impression was - really? This is Hemingway? I have vague memories of reading and loving The Old Man & the Sea in high school but this just didn't seem remotely similar to my memory of Hemingway's style. It was so conversational and simple. I guess I was expecting something more akin to Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh which I finished a week or two earlier and was written about the same time period. Waugh's writing was quite elevated and took me a couple of chapters to get into and understand (it didn't help that I thought Evelyn Waugh was a woman . . .). But Hemingway was all conversation and only sparse scenary. Once I adjusted my expectations I couldn't put the book down. As torrents of rain snapped at my window I affixed myself to the couch and was transported to Paris and then Spain in the 1920s until I hit the last page. It was an engrossing novel that flew by. The perfect way to weather a tropical storm.
I went to bad sad that summer was over but looking forward to pulling out the tweeds and sweater of fall. But Sunday was a reminder that summer never completely ends before October around here. It was absolutely the most beautiful day. I decided to go for a walk on the Hudson River and instead of my usual routine of walking south to Battery Park, I ambitiously decided to walk to the George Washington Bridge. For some reason I thought the bridge would be about the same distance. Nearly 13 miles later (round trip), I realized that is not quite the case. Roundtrip to Battery Park is roughly 9.5 miles. Those extra 3.5 miles really made a big difference! (By the way, did you know you can calculate miles you have walked here? Being a big walker in NYC I have grown to love this site as a good reality check - no, you did not just walk a hundred miles today, only 13.) But in a good way. I had water and granola bars and a book in my backpack and collapsed in a lounge chair facing the river only a couple of blocks from my apartment at the end and took off my shoes and enjoyed the end of summer by opening a favorite book - Persuasion by Jane Austen. It has been several years since my last reading and after recently seeing two different movies adapted from the novel with two different endings (well, the same ending just different versions of the ending), I have been curious about how the novel staged the ending. And yesterday the book was staring at me on a shelf so I abandoned the book I had intended to read in favor of Austen. Such a good decision. Now I'm half-way in and had to force myself to turn out the light last night at midnight so I could wake up for my morning work out.
So now you know what I've been doing: reading. I'm not sure why I read so much more in the summer. I don't know if it has to do with traveling or how much I love sitting outside with a good book but I have been reading a lot lately. And I will just say a couple more things about it.
First, I cannot tell you how frustrating it is to be on an airplane and discover your book is missing thirty pages right in the middle. After flipping through the pages to see if maybe pages 154 to 182 (or thereabouts) were incorrectly stashed somewhere in the back, I had no choice but to just read on. I went to Borders the next day to request a replacement since I still had 100 pages or so to go only to discover there were no longer copies of Brideshead Revisted on the shelf. I decided they must have discovered the mistake and made further inquiries. I was told there was a new shipment of the book but they were still in the back, unshelved and likely still shrink wrapped. I agreed to return. I never did. Now there will forever be a 30 page gap in my understanding of that book.
I also recently read Prodigal Summer by Barbara Kingsolver. Several years ago I read The Poisonwood Bible yet despite really enjoying Kingsolver's writing I never picked up any of her other books. For some reason, in my head, I had decided (retrospectively) that her writing was simple and indulgent. I have NO idea how I came to that conclusion but it is anything but simple. And while I would definitely describe it as indulgent, not in the same way I had in my head. I learn from her writing so much about imagery and character development. Her writing is beautiful and I recommend it.
Okay, so enough about books (although I could go on about how I also loved both Into the Wild and Into Thin Air by John Krakauer but I'll stop).
Aside from reading, yesterday I reminded myself how to cook. I finally put the new knives I received for my birthday in June to good use by mincing garlic, chiffonading (is that a word?) basil and slicing mushrooms and tomatoes for an augmented can of spaghetti sauce. For some reason, it feels overly indulgent to cook for myself. I used to do it all the time but I've fallen into the habit of snack-type meals at home such as carrots/pitas/crackers and hummus or apples and cheese, cereal or breakfast foods that even making something as simple as spaghetti felt extravagant. And delicious. And simple. So why don't I do it more often.
Anyway, as a preview of things to come (because I will be blogging more this week), I will be doing a retrospective pictorial of How I Spent My Summer, including my summer vacation. There are so many things I've missed telling you........