book review: The Patron Saint of Liars

The Patron Saint of Liars
by Ann Patchett

I’m not sure how this book ended up on my list. I think maybe it was a desire to read Bel Canto  and it was checked out… so I decided to read The Patron Saint of Liars instead. I’m glad I did. I really loved this book. I liked that four different people take a turn telling the story and I thought the plot itself was good and interesting. Especially Son’s story. I also really like reading books from this time period. You know, where it’s so shameful for a woman to be pregnant out of wedlock that they get sent away or go of their own accord to a home to give birth and pretend it didn’t happen. I just think it’s so fascinating that it was normal for women to be treated that way. The only thing that bothered me was (surprise, surprise) the end. How could Sissy really not figure out why her mom was at the home where women go to give their baby up for adoption in the first place?? And she really didn’t put it together that her dad was possibly someone else? Granted, she’s a 15-year-old girl and I’m a cynical 29-year-old. So there’s that. Side story: I happened to read this book when I was still pregnant, and I got really weirded out by the miscarriage in this book. Especially because I read another book with a miscarriage. It was like three books in a row with some side story about a miscarriage and it felt like total foreshadowing. Which I guess it was.

I loved the characters of this book, though, and I was fascinated by who Rose was as a person. I’d be curious to be friends with someone who is so… unfazed/unattached. I can’t think of the right word. Anyway, this was a good book and just like with The Goldfinch, I’m excited to read other books by the same author. Which reminds me, I really need to go to the library.

Next week’s book review: A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki.

book review: The Goldfinch

The Goldfinch
by Donna Tart

I first heard/saw about The Goldfinch through Pinterest. I kept seeing it on blogs as a book club book and pinned by everyone as a new book to read and I have to admit, I was skeptical. I just felt like it was talked about so much as this incredible book that I felt like it couldn’t live up to the hype. It did. I really loved this book. Not only was it a good story with interesting characters, but the writing was superb. I mean, of course if it’s a published book, the writing is going to be good, right? (Okay, not necessarily, but you know what I mean). But the writing in The Goldfinch was amazing. Donna can do in one paragraph what it takes most great writers to do in five. She can make you feel like you’re in the story and really seeing what she wants you to see in one sentence. It was so fun to get to read a book like this. I just kept putting it down and telling B, “this book is really well written!”

The narrator of the story, Theo, tells this incredible story about the day he and his mom go to the Met — and Theo acquires a painting. The rest of the novel follows Theo and the painting as he travels to Las Vegas, New York and later Amsterdam. Honestly, my complaint with this book was that I wanted to know more about the stories that weren’t told. I wanted to know what Theo’s life would’ve been like if he’d stayed in Vegas with his crazy Russian friend, Boris. I wanted to know how Theo would’ve turned out if he’d stayed with the Barbours. So that was a little disappointing. I’m not even sure what that would look like. Maybe a few short stories about the same character? Like a choose-your-own-adventure novel but not crappy. I guess I felt like Donna wrote these incredible stories separately and then figured out a way to tie them together and I didn’t want them to be. If that makes any sense.

I’ll be the first to admit that maybe my fascination with wanting to read more about his life in Vegas was because I felt like Donna’s descriptions were so spot-on. I lived in Arizona for awhile and the descriptions of the housing developments in Vegas reminded me so much of Phoenix that I was just nodding my head the whole time I was reading about the landscape. Still, that being said, I felt like for how grandiose the rest of the story was, the ending was a little… lacking. I think the ending is one of the hardest things to do in writing a book and it’s rare that I’m actually satisfied with an ending. But considering how fantastic the rest of the book was written, I have to say I really expected more. I liked how most of the story wrapped up, but wanted more of an ending from the rest of the book.

This book was fantastic and I look forward to reading Donna Tart’s other two books. I hope her writing style is similar to that of The Goldfinch, because I really just appreciated her incredible writing. Have you read The Goldfinch? What did you think?

Next week’s book review: The Patron Saint of Liars by Ann Patchett

another story about the gyno

Because who doesn’t want to hear another story about me at the gyno? Probably lots of people. We’re finally back on regular insurance again (we’d been on COBRA while we waited for the new insurance to kick in), so I made an appointment to go to our new gynecologist. I needed to have more blood work down to follow up on my thyroid and since I was a new patient, the doctor went ahead and did the whole awesome pap and breast exam. While I was filling out paperwork, they had a few questions about domestic abuse. I obviously checked the “No, I’m not being abused and of course my husband would be supportive if I became pregnant” boxes and then started getting slightly nervous. I have this really bad habit of laughing when I get accused of something I didn’t do. I’m so freaked out I won’t be believed that I end up making my story not believable. Because I’m laughing.

Then the nurse asks, in addition to the paperwork, if I’m being abused. Again I say no. She leaves and I undress and notice a huge bruise on my leg from me being clumsy and running into the bed frame in the dark. Crap. What if they don’t believe that I’m clumsy? The doctor comes in and starts doing her exam and immediately is like “OK WHOA! You have a huge bruise on your bottom (except she said it way more scientific than that) and do you know how you got this?!” So I’m freaking out and trying to think how I got a bruise there and am like oh god, is it from sex? This is going to be a really awkward conversation and also that doesn’t make sense… and suddenly I remember and yell “I went snowboarding! On Saturday, my husband and I went snowboarding!”

The nurse hands me a mirror and I’m like “OH MY GOD!” Because the bruise is HUGE. I have this gigantic purple bruise on both butt cheeks. I’m actually kind of proud and impressed. And relieved, because it hurts to sit down and I thought I was being a gigantic baby. Also, I really wish  I could show you the bruise, but I tried to take a photo and there’s just no way to show the bruise without vagina and/or butt being shown. So, no.

poop cupcakes always overthinking it

poop cupcakes

They’re not really poop cupcakes. So if that’s how you found yourself here because you googled that because you’re going to hide poop in your cupcakes or the frosting, a la “The Help,” you’ve come to the wrong place. And you’re probably an asshole.

marble cupcake always overthinking it

B wanted marble cupcakes with chocolate buttercream frosting for his birthday (Happy Birthday B!), but it turns out piping chocolate buttercream frosting onto said cupcake is a bad idea. It took me one or two before I realized just how grossly accurate those frosting piles looked. I was half tempted to just do them all that way, but B was supposed to take them to work and I couldn’t be the wife that made cupcakes that literally looked like shit. (I say supposed to because B decided they were too delicious and he kept them all at home. After eating five).

I used this recipe for the cupcakes and this for the frosting in case you’re curious. (I halved the frosting recipe because four cups of frosting is a lot. I still have a ton of leftover frosting that I have no idea what to do with. Besides eat.) But maybe use vanilla frosting if you feel like you need to pipe something. At first I was like, “Hmm maybe I really do need to take a piping class, because why do these look awful?!” I still probably need (and definitely want!) to take a piping class. Anyway, I smooshed them down with a spoon and they looked more appetizing:

marble cupcakes chocolate buttercream frosting always overthinking it

I also made homemade ravioli and it was amazing. I’d never made homemade pasta and it wasn’t nearly as scary/awful/hard as I thought it’d be. I used this recipe for the dough because I think the fact that pasta can be made with just flour and water is amazing. For the filling, I used ricotta, basil, pepper, an egg and pecorino-romano cheese. B’s birthday is today so I made it for his birthday dinner last night. Which hopefully will make up for the fact that I haven’t gotten him a birthday present yet. Not because I didn’t want to, but because all the ideas I had fell through and fine, I’m an awful wife. Whatever, at least I made him poop cupcakes.

my to-do list is never ending

I don’t know if it’s the fact that we’re having six guests over for Christmas Eve dinner (and we haven’t even planned what we’re having) or that it’s almost Christmas or what, but I’ve been feeling really spastic lately — more than usual. Every day I make a new to-do list, most of which gets filled from the leftovers that I didn’t feel like doing — and haven’t done for the past month. Isn’t it weird how there are always a few things on a to-do list that you don’t feel like doing? Even if it’s relatively easy, for whatever reason you don’t want to do. For instance, I’ve had “dry cleaning” on my list for a month. I don’t know why, but I just don’t feel like dropping it off. It sounds like such a pain. A few weeks ago, my excuse was that I didn’t have a car and so I had no practical way to lug dry cleaning to the store. But now that I have a car… I don’t have such a good excuse.

At night when B and I go to bed, I lie there and feel like I should just get up and do the 8,000 things on my list. Yesterday, I drove all over town stopping at the fabric store, Target and the grocery store to try to get prepared for this week. I felt like I was on a deadline and thought once I was done shopping, I’d feel better. Instead, I wanted to go run sprints in the street to try to calm down. But it was raining and late and we hadn’t eaten dinner.

My brain feels all over the place. I have so many projects I want to work on and things I want to do. It’s exciting because I haven’t felt inspired to actually make anything in awhile. Note to self: Go on Pinterest next time I feel stuck in a creative rut. Anyway, the problem lately has been that every time I think about starting a project, I feel like it’s too late in the morning to start something and I’ll have to leave and go to work. So instead I bury myself in a book. Which is fine (it’s great! I love reading!) except I feel like I’m trying to escape or something. Although, I have read a gigantic pile of books.

Tonight when I get home I have two different kinds of Christmas ornaments to craft, a tree skirt to make/sew and presents to wrap. Hopefully. The presents have to get delivered first. Which is also stressing me out. Online shopping is great, except for when you wait until the last possible minute and then you have to keep track of all the gifts and all the destinations. I’m hoping I’ll be able to get started on some projects I’ve had in my brain for awhile with my free time this week. Except we’re also hosting Christmas for our family… hmmm… hopefully they like crafting?

christmas tree fireplace alwaysoverthinkingit

it’s friday and christmas is coming so get ready

IT’S FRIDAY!!

Which is awesome except for if you haven’t bought your presents for people yet that live far away. I’m almost done Christmas shopping and every website I looked at was all “Order today for your present to arrive the day before Christmas, you fucking lame person who sucks at life.” Or something like that.

Ugh. Can we just talk for a second about how Christmas is awesome but also sucks? I love Christmas. I love snow and trees and Christmas lights and egg nog and eating junk and feeling like a fatty but being able to say “it’s only for a few more weeks (and FUCK those people who try to give you advice on how to diet through the holidays. NOPE.)” But also? Buying presents for people who I love when I have no idea what to get them is like the stressiest thing ever. Stressiest is now a word. So there. And while I love looking at people’s holiday gift guides, is it just me, or are they for people that don’t exist in your family? It’s like oh, what a cute and quirky t-shirt, but no way in hell would my dad actually wear that. Or like oh, yeah, I wish my dad were a “beer guy” and needed an expensive bottle opener but NOPE. And if he did need that, he’d probably end up buying it for himself the day before Christmas like he does EVERY YEAR. Is it lame that I just want to buy everyone in my family gift cards? I’d love gift cards, as long as it wasn’t some place lame.

Some parents at my work bought all the teachers in our classroom gift cards to Target. Like, for $50 each. HOW NICE IS THAT? They were so nice about it, too. They’re like, “well you watch after our most precious cargo” and I’m like “I get to play with your adorable baby all day.” Anyway, so thoughtful of them. I was really touched.

I took a pregnancy test the other day. It was negative and I cried and was totally caught if guard because I never even considered it could be negative. But then I researched (aka googled) how long you’re supposed to wait before taking a test and apparently you’re not supposed to take it 5-6 days after the day you got it on. Huh. So fingers crossed. Obviously, pregnancy is on my brain and I swear everywhere I look are babies and people who are pregnant and also this post is a way better discussion of miscarriages and not talking about being pregnant. It’s like if you took all of my thoughts and made them good, it would be this post.

What plans do you have this holiday season? My MIL is coming tomorrow and B and I have to run to IKEA to buy more chairs because we don’t have enough. Also, B and I bought these salt and pepper shakers as a couple present to each other. Is a couple present a thing? I’m trying to make it a thing.

Go buy yourself something. It’s almost Christmas. And other holidays that are equally (if not more) awesome.

frankentree always overthinking it

frankentree

Lesson of the day: When buying a used car, make sure the previous owner has smogged it first before you actually buy the car. Today B and I spent all morning trying to get my new (to me) car smogged. But the check engine light came on this week, which apparently means it won’t pass the smog inspection.  So we drove the car to the only mechanic place open on a Saturday, where the guy tightened the gas cap and cleared the check engine light. Then we drove back to the smog place, only to be told we had to drive the car 100 miles before we can re-smog the car. Luckily, B and I were planning on taking a mini road trip to a little area 40 miles away where we saw some cool property for sale.

The area is surrounded by farms and fields, mostly with bare trees and alfalfa for cover crops. I love alfalfa. It’s so green! A lot of the farms had these weird frankentrees. Basically, one tree is grafted onto another for whatever reason. It could be for a number of things, but the ones we saw today B thought looked like the roots were really strong. The top portion of the tree was grafted onto the bottom because the bottom had better roots. All the trees looked like they were half-naked or wearing shoes or something. I thought they were kind of beautiful. On the way back, we also saw these weird yak looking animals. Or sheep with huge antlers. Maybe it was a frankenyak.

Hopefully tomorrow we can actually get the car smogged. Then registered. Being an adult is overrated.

(Fun fact: My computer keeps trying to change frankentree to frank entree. I wonder what a frank entree would be. Steak and potatoes?)

a storm?

I think California’s definition of a storm is different from most people’s. Or maybe the storm just ended up being way less mild than anticipated. Earlier this week, my boss at school warned everyone about the upcoming storm. We got emails with storm preparation help like having a flashlight with batteries and extra water. Schedules at work were rearranged so the people who lived the closest would get to work first. Everybody was obsessed with the storm.

It rained all day long here and there were some heavy winds, but otherwise it was pretty… disappointing. Apparently our power went out this morning, but I wouldn’t have noticed if B hadn’t gotten up at the butt crack of dawn like he usually does. I rolled over and went back to sleep.

I never really appreciated being able to go outside like I do now that I work in a daycare center. This past week has been wet and cold, so for the most part we haven’t gotten to go outside. The kids are stir crazy and restless, so we try to find other things for them to do. Today, we taped butcher paper on the floor, took off the kid’s clothes and let them go crazy with paint. I’ve never seen such happy kids!

Right now I’m listening to the rain outside the window, watching the fire and about to read a book. Also, is it just me or has this week been insane? I’m so glad tomorrow’s Friday!

madrigal winery sky always overthinking it

some photos and stuff

tara and b always overthinking it golden gate bridge always overthinking it madrigal winery always overthinking itsunset at madrigal winery always overthinking itI feel like it’s been so long since I posted consistently. A quick update and apologies if I’ve already mentioned anything:

  • I’ve been working at a daycare center in the infant room and it’s AWESOME! I was nervous going into the job that I wouldn’t enjoy working with kids as much as I thought I did, but that’s luckily not the case. (The preschool room is another matter.)
  • I finally have a car! We only needed one in LA, so my dad bought my old car from me. Lately, I’ve been riding my bike to work because it’s close to our house. After getting completely rained on a few times, though, I was ready for a new car. Also, car hunting is worse than job hunting in my opinion. I’m always worried I’m going to buy a used car and then it’s going to break on me. Still not sure that won’t happen with the one we bought, but… oh well.
  • Our house has a fireplace and we’ve been having some awesome fires. I kind of want to get a bearskin rug to lie on. Just kidding (not kidding).
  • B works for a company that delivers boxes of produce to your front door. Every week, we get a box full of fruits and vegetables and I never realized how amazing this would be. I love cooking dinner, but hate coming up with what to cook. Having a box of produce helps narrow it down because now I can come up with something based on what we got in our box. We’ve been having butternut squash soup, this chicken and leek dish, smoothies and roasted vegetables practically every week. If you live in an area that has CSA boxes, I highly recommend getting one. Or if you live in the California area, check out Farm Fresh To You! That’s the company B works for. They’re awesome, and even have options to take out produce you don’t want before it gets delivered so you don’t have to throw away something you don’t like.
  • Living across the street from the library is the best thing ever.
  • Some friends came to visit a few weeks ago and we went to San Francisco to go sightseeing. While eating at this awesome fresh seafood place in Sausalito called Fish, we saw Jason Segel! I almost went and took a photo of him, but refrained. Barely. The next day we went wine tasting in Napa and later we played a really outdated version of Outburst. I think I could play games every night of my life and be happy.

who wants to talk about miscarriages?!

When I first started blogging, I never really imagined that I’d get to a point where there was something I didn’t want to write about. I’m a chronic oversharer, constantly saying things and then realizing — too late — that I shouldn’t have said that. As B says, I have no filter.

But then I had a miscarriage. At first, I wanted to talk about it, but decided to wait just in case I changed my mind. Then I didn’t want to talk about it. So I thought I’d blog about other things, but it felt like a lie. How could I be writing about going shopping when inside I was totally and completely heartbroken? I considered emailing some of my blog friends (who happen to be moms) so I could talk to someone privately. You know what’s annoying? Finding out that miscarriages are apparently super common ONLY AFTER I HAD ONE. Why isn’t this talked about more often? I mean, I get it, it’s not exactly a topic people want to discuss. But what the fuck? I felt like something was wrong with me and am still not convinced something isn’t wrong with me and all these people tell me that they’re super common and I didn’t get to know about this beforehand? Because instead of being able to reassure myself that miscarriages are common, I felt horrible about myself, convinced I’d done something wrong and caused the miscarriage, or maybe it was a sign from god that I don’t deserve to have a baby because I’m going to be a horrible mother. Which could still totally be the case, who knows.

The day I found out I was pregnant I’d made an appointment at the gynecologist because I thought I had a cyst on my ovary (I’ve had them before). Right before I went to the doctor’s, I took a pregnancy test because I hadn’t had my period in awhile and maybe I’m pregnant? (Also, am I the only one who takes pregnancy tests even when I couldn’t possibly be pregnant? I have this weird fascination with taking pregnancy tests). Anyway. So it turns out the cyst I was feeling was a tiny baby I guess. But I also found out that I had hypothyroidism. Apparently, it’s really dangerous to have unmedicated hypothyroidism while pregnant. So the day I found out I was pregnant I also went on thyroid medication. And maybe that caused the miscarriage? My OBGYN wasn’t sure. She said it could’ve just happened because miscarriages are common. But now I’m terrified I’m going to have miscarriages forever and I’m freaked.

Two days before my checkup to hear the baby’s heartbeat, I had a really bad feeling I was having a miscarriage. I’d been spotting (which doesn’t necessarily mean a miscarriage, I tried to tell myself) and just had a bad feeling. I get weird feelings about things that usually end up being true, which isn’t really comforting considering the horrible things I think about. For instance, I’ll have a bad feeling I’m about to get a speeding ticket and right when I slow down I pass a cop. Sometimes I won’t believe myself because I always get “bad feelings” about everything but the ones that actually happen feel different. Like when my mom told us she had cancer, the first thought that popped in my head was “oh my god, my mom’s going to die.” I obviously pushed that thought out of my head and told myself I was wrong, but I knew I wasn’t even though I didn’t want to admit it to myself. She passed away a year later. So when B and I went to the checkup, I was really nervous and hoping I was wrong. I wanted the doctor to be able to say “everything’s fine, you’re just being a crazy paranoid pregnant lady.” But that didn’t happen. Instead she said “you’re right. Something’s wrong and I can’t find a heartbeat and the sac around the baby doesn’t look right.” Well fuck. To add insult to injury, I had to take medication to complete the miscarriage (because I had a dead baby inside me) and that was miserable and painful. On top of already being miserable and painful.

This happened a few weeks ago. I finally got my period a few days ago so I can get pregnant again. Which is awesome. And terrifying. Because now I’m going to be a legitimate nervous pregnant lady — and I’ll be holding my breath for 10 weeks until I see the baby’s heartbeat. And then after that for the rest of my life. Which is probably what it’s like to be a parent anyway, but thanks for the mindfuck, life. I’m freaked out and also want to be pregnant so badly. It’s a weird feeling. I’m terrified to be pregnant but also terrified to not be pregnant, if that makes sense.

Blah.