Friday, May 29, 2015

{Five Things} in NYC

That time we spent our last few hours in NYC at The Plaza drinking wine.
Last weekend in New York City with my besties from DC was the tops. We laughed, ate too much, drank too much, and reestablished our love for brunch, rose wine, the Kate Spade store and wealthy benefactors. Here are some of my favorite moments from this weekend (as if there were only 5 favorite moments).

That time we had cocktails AND a bag of donuts at lunch.

That time I was still learning how to use the selfie stick at the Carrie Bradshaw steps on Perry Street.

That time we made best friends with the Irish bartender and he decided to give us party favors.

And that time I FINALLY met Alice, emily and phil's little piece of sunshine beauty.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

This month is going to be cray

And by cray I mean completely not cray because I'm doing Whole30. I know, I'm shocked too. I'm on Day 2 of my month of no sugar, no bread, no cheese, no creamer in my coffee, no wine (gasp!), and no french fries. I may die.

On the other hand, I get to eat things like fresh fruit and veggies, lots of spices, sweet potatoes, eggs, and these almonds that I love. I wanted to plan something after New York because I tend to fall into really bad habits when I am home. I will usually pay little attention to what I eat, drink several glasses of wine a night and watch TV (lately Game of Thrones, another post on that later) until the wee hours in the morning. Not very healthy or productive. So I'm really looking forward to the change up. My mom is doing it with me, so I'll have a partner and it'll make it easier, I hope.

I know the hardest thing for me is going to be to not snack while I'm at work. At any given time at the store we have no less than three containers of peanuts of varying sizes and flavors. Well, apparently peanuts promote inflammation. So I've been taking shots of honey roasted peanuts thinking they are a "healthier" option. Turns out, they're not.

Le sigh.

Anyway, here we go. If anyone has any tips or recipes, feel free to leave them here. I'll keep you updated on my progress. If my next post is as angsty as a teenage girl, I apologize, but I'm probably just in the hangry stage.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

You sound like you're from London!

I think I've wanted to move to London since I read Pride and Prejudice sophomore year of high school. In college I bought a book called Living and Working in London that I meant to give to a family I knew that was moving there, but I never had the chance to give it to them. Or maybe I didn't want to part with it. Either way, it's been sitting on my bookshelf ever since.

So this announcement has been a long time coming: I'm moving to London in the fall to pursue a creative writing masters at Westminster University. Serendipitously, in the course of the past few years I've managed to shore up a decent number of friends who live in London, other places in England and across Europe. They're some of the nicest, most fun human adults I've ever met, and I'm excited to be able to see them more frequently. I'm also ecstatic to be working on my writing, with other like-minded people, in one of the most beautiful and exciting cities in the world. Is this real life?!?!

When I think about walking down those London streets, the cool air kissing my cheeks and the gray skies making everything around me glow in pale light, I wish I could go tomorrow. But I know a lot of things must happen before I can board a plane for Heathrow. I have to get a visa; I'm going to two bachelorette parties where I have to reluctantly say goodbye to the best friends a girl can have (even though I hope they will all come visit me). I have to pack, though I don't even want to think about the massive bag that I will lug around... I have to find housing; I have to keep writing; I have to mentally prepare for hearing all those accents all the time. It may be months away, but the planning starts now.

I'm not sure what the fate of Of A Long Book will be once I move across the pond. This move feels like such a large shift in my life, and I don't know if this blog will continue to fit the circumstances in which I find myself. I don't want to stop writing about my experiences, but maybe with an appropriate change to the way I present them to you, my dear readers. While I explore every opportunity I'll keep you informed. And if I do transition to another online location, I truly hope you'll follow along.

In the Ice Bar the last time I was there with some besties!

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Recent Reads

Nicaragua is a great place to get some reading done, it turns out. They don't tell you that in brochures. Since temperatures in the afternoon often reach the mid-90s, and there's very little refuge to seek in cool places, most days I would seek whatever shade I could find and read until the sun went down. Here are some of the more notable books I've read so far this year: 

A Time to Kill, John Grisham

We've all seen the movie, or parts of the movie, with Matthew McConaughey and Samuel L. Jackson, about the lawyer who defends an African American man in Mississippi who murders the two white men who raped and beat his daughter. It's a compelling story, but I liked the movie better. The book was good and moved along quickly, but there was a lot of buildup and not very much pay off in the book. At least in the movie, we get that great closing statement from Matthew in the courtroom.

A Painted House, John Grisham

My second Grisham novel of the year, this one is absent any lawyers or courtrooms. The Painted House is set on a farm in rural Arkansas and follows a seven year old kid throughout the summer and into the fall as he picks cotton with his parents and grandparents. They hire a couple other families to help, and there is inevitably some drama. As the little boy narrates, characteristics of small-town life begin to unfold before the reader's eyes, and I was drawn into Luke's life and the terrible and wonderful things he witnesses.

Devil in the White City, Erik Larson

I was taken aback by the sheer amount of research that had to have gone into this book. Larson writes with so much authority, it almost reads like a novel. In the 1890s, Chicago hosted the World Fair, and the architects and builders struggled to top the Parisian World Fair after it revealed the Eiffel Tower a few years earlier. Meanwhile, a charming, slippery, and absolutely crazy murderer lived and worked just a few miles away. This guy, H.H. Holmes, ran a hotel that allowed him to employ young women and then kill them in disturbing ways. It's not a book for the easily-nauseated, but it is pretty fascinating how he managed to do everything he did without getting caught. I also loved getting to picture in my mind the World's Fair, and what the head architect, Daniel Burnham, accomplished. Larson recently wrote another book about the Lusitania that I may have to read.

Orphan Train, Christina Baker Kline

This is a novel about a girl from Ireland who came to America with her family, then suddenly finds herself orphaned and shipped out West by train to find a new family. Set at the beginning of the Depression in the 1930s, the book describes takes us through her harrowing experiences with lots of families before she finally settles. I won't spoil it by saying how. Her story is intertwined with another girl's, but this one is 70 years later in Michigan. It's a really good book and I recommend it for a cross-country flight or a quiet weekend at home.

Born Standing Up, Steve Martin

I love Steve Martin. You love Steve Martin. We all love Father of the Bride. That's why I thought this book would be as great as he is. He is a good writer and kept me engaged, but it wasn't as laugh-out-loud hilarious as I thought it was going to be. Martin writes about his stand up career before going into movies, and it was somewhat difficult for me to connect because I know literally nothing about stand-up. However, it's always fun to see behind the curtain (literally) of a celebrity's life and certainly worth a gander if you're into memoirs of famous people.

Go Ask Alice, Anonymous

I read this well-known book, that's had some controversy over the years, in an afternoon. It was promoted as a real-life diary in the 1970s, but has since come out as complete fiction. It is sad to watch this girl's downfall, but what's most interesting to me is that teenage girls are going through the exact same thing as they were in the 70s. Besides all the drugs, Alice pretty accurately describes a lot of the thoughts and feelings girls have in those good ol' teen years.

The Girl on the Train, Paula Hawkins

This is a great new novel. As Rachel commutes into London by train every day, she becomes obsessed with a couple living in one of the track houses that she can see from the train. Then one day she sees the wife doing something she shouldn't be doing, and Rachel gets caught up in the whole thing. Come to find out her ex-husband lives just down the street and comes back into the fold in the worst possible way. I had to pry myself away from it, and I think you'll love it.

Utopia, Thomas More

I bought this at my favorite book store on Capitol Hill and am getting through it slowly. It's surprisingly readable considering it was written in the early 1500s and translated from Latin. It does have a lot of comments about social constructs and politics and is surprisingly relevant to today. I'll have more to report once I finish it. 

Happy reading!!