Reading Challenge 2016

Every year I set a reading goal in Goodreads, but this year I am inspired by Modern Miss Darcy’s reading challenge and have decided to more thoughtfully select some books to read in the New Year. You can hope over to MMD’s Reading Challenge post for more information, or browse the Pinterest board for inspiration (I’ve also pinned my selections there).

Here’s all the books I’ll attempt to read this year, with the chunk of them most likely read on my commute while I wake up with some coffee:

  • A Book Published This Year:

Solutions and Their Problems, by Allie Brosh

The author of the blog/book Hyperbole and a Half has a new book out this spring, which I assume will continue her story of life with depression and a stupid dog. I love her humor and excellent drawings, so needless to say I’m excited.

  • A Book You Can Finish in a Day:

The Lottery, by Shirley Jackson

This story gets referenced a lot in popular culture, so I’m pretty sure I know what it’s about. I’d like to find out for myself so I’m excited to finally read this.

  • A Book You’ve Been Meaning To Read:

The Dead Lands, by Benjamin Percy

It’s been sitting on my shelf since this summer. I thought Red Moon, his first novel, was such a fun read so I’m looking forward to diving into this one.

  • A Book Recommend by Your Local Librarian or Bookseller:

Descent, by Tim Johnston

I’m a librarian, so I COULD have checked out of this category and just selected any book on my too read list, but I pushed myself and selected this thriller recommended by my local bookstore. So basically I’m a saint.

  • A Book Chosen by my Spouse: 

Dracula, by Bram Stoker

My husband loves Dracula. Loves, loves Dracula. He’s not one for classic novels but I am, so I think this was a thoughtful pick on his part. He could have made me read some contemporary novel with a lot of dragons in it, but he didn’t.

(Nothing against novels with dragons, but it’s not my thing).

  • A Book Published Before I Was Born:

And Then There Were None, by Agatha Christie

I’ve never read anything by Agatha Christie. Maybe I would like it? Hard to say. I read a lot of classical literature — in fact many of my selections for this challenge were written before I was born — so I tried to pick something a little outside my typical selections for this one. This is supposed to be one of her most classic stories, so I thought it was a good place to start.

Also: it’s at this point in my list I realize most of my selections are dark stories, best suited for the fall and/or Halloween. Because I like reading throughout the year I took this into consideration when selecting my other books. Case in Point:

  • A Book You Should Have Read in School:

Middlemarch, by George Elliot

A classic novel set in Victorian England. I never read this in school likely because George Eliot is a woman and the focus of this novel is on domestic life, two strikes against all the reading lists that dominated my public school education. #patriarchy #maybenotandijustneverreadit

  • A Book You Previously Abandoned:

The Worst Hard Time, by Timothy Egan

I abandoned this book last year because I was pregnant and tired. From what I remember, this was a fascinating read so I’m looking forward to finishing it and getting depressed about how the dust bowl may return.

  • A Book You Own But Have Never Read:

Bring Up the Bodies, by Hilary Mantel

I bought this when it was released in paperback, but it’s sat on my shelf ever since. Why? I loved “Wolf Hall,” and I keep wanting to watch the miniseries but keep putting it off until I’ve read this. Well, I’m gonna do it.

  • A Book that Intimidates Me:

The Grapes of Wrath, by John Steinbeck


Because I find the Dust Bowl interesting. Intimidating I’m a Midwestern girl, raised on Fitzgerald and Hemingway, and the only Steinbeck I’ve ever read is Cannery Row after a visit to Monterey a few years ago. For some reason I’ve always been a little hesitant to read any more.

  • A Book That Was Banned at Some Point

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, by Sherman Alexie

This was the hardest category for me. All the banned books I was really interested in reading are older, and since I have so many works of classical literature in my challenge I wanted to avoid it. This was appealing because a) it’s modern and b) the main character is Native American, which isn’t a voice I read often.

  • A Book I’ve Read at Least Once:

Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Bronte

One of my favorites. I first read this in high school but picked it up again just two years ago, only to discover it’s even better than I remembered. Can’t wait to read this again.

And that’s my 12 picks! I’ve also set an annual reading goal of 45 books for my Goodreads challenge, so hopefully I can find some time in between everything else to curl up witha


My Baby’s in Daycare

From Keen Public Library, on Flickr:

This morning I left my son sitting in a bouncer chair on the floor of his new daycare. Two other babies there were screaming, so the providers were running around tending to them, and my son stared calmly ahead in his chair while I walked away and got in my car.

Then I cried. For a long time.

It was a chaotic way to start daycare for us. There are no red flags about the place, and I’m sure it’s fine blah blah blah, but the only way I would have felt good about this interaction was if my husband or one of our parents, my son’s grandparents, were there to stay and hold him all day. Oddly enough this daycare center did not employ anyone from my family, so I cried.

My husband and I cannot afford to have one of us stay home with our son full time. I knew this, and knew daycare was always going to be in the cards. I was always fine with that in theory, but it wasn’t until the reality was looming in my calendar did it begin to feel wrong. I went back to work almost one month ago and cried, and left my son in the hands of strangers for the first time today and cried even harder. I am told it will get easier, that these women won’t be strangers so very soon, but does that mean it is the right choice for me?

I have no choice currently, so I suppose it is.

This blog is called “Life is Really Easy” because I know it almost never is. I began writing it as an outlet for my anxieties and work while pregnant, and now that I’ve become a mother I’m still figuring out where this blog fits in my brainspace. I’ve found there’s little time to dwell on what I’m doing or feeling while caring a newborn, and any downtime I have is spent on things that distract me from the chaos that is my current life – so, not this blog. But since my single New Year’s Resolution is to “get my shit together,” maybe there’s a place to do that here.

Anyway. This is just a post to say I left my son with someone else, it feels wrong and I’m crying, but since life is really easy I’m sure this was the best decision and things are absolutely fine.

literature, parenting

My Maternity Leave, in Books

Image by Simon Cocks, on Flickr:

It’s been three months since I welcomed my son into the world. What a ride. Between the c-section recovery, breastfeeding, and family visits I’m just beginning to get the hang of this mothering thing. And back to work I go.

Looking back, I am amazed at the growth and development of my son in this short time. I’m also amazed at the lightening fast transition my husband and I experienced from laid back jokers with pets to laid back jokers with a baby (note: the pets are still here and equally adorable). Our late nights at restaurants, theaters, and comedy clubs were replaced with late nights, in bed, shuffling our son to and from his bassinet. I read books on my Kindle while my husband played games on his iPad while my son ate. At first it felt like a chore, then our son started smiling and all of a sudden I realized this time was a gift.

As he sleeps in his swing (note to parents-to-be: buy a f*cking swing), I decided to lay out my maternity leave the best I know how, in books. I’m about to return to my job as a librarian and, quite frankly, all the small moments that comprised the first twelve weeks of my son’s life blur together into a cloud where everything is soft and hazy. I wish I could remember more, but I already don’t. So here are the books I read:

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parenting, pregnancy

Baby: Had One

Baby Face

I had all these posts in the works, then I do something silly and go and have my baby over three weeks early.

I had an early induction due to health concerns three weeks ago, and have been juggling life with a newborn ever since. I’d like to thank Netflix, my husband, and my iPhone for getting me this far.

More soon – as soon as I can get both of my hands on my laptop, that is.

literature, pregnancy

What I’m Reading: Princess Shit

What I'm Reading: Princess Shit

I’m so uncomfortable now. Baby is kicking in all the wrong, not-cute places and my swollen feet and restless legs keep me awake all night. Hunger pains strike at odd moments (3 am call to eat plain Cheerios, why?) and the two nonfiction novels I’ve had on my nightstand can’t capture my attention, leaving me to stare off into the distance and worry about everything I need to do.

A few days ago I had it. I’m usually an avid reader, and the fact I haven’t been able to finish a book in over a month kills me. So I knew a different approach was needed, and I jumped in: candy.

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Working in Your Third Trimester

Working in the Third Trimester

According to my doctors, I’m exactly 35 weeks pregnant today. According to my body, I’m exactly 55 weeks pregnant.

While every day brings a new surprise and ailment my way, I’m still expected to hit the office and smile and compute like everyone else. And it sucks. In my brain I thought I’d take off a bit before I gave birth, to help accommodate all my doctor’s appointments but also to rest before the baby arrived. When my doctor stated she wouldn’t sign off on my leave unless a more serious medical condition presented itself I almost cried. I have so long to go.

My pregnancy was a choice I made, so while I don’t regret the discomfort I think some moaning is still warranted. It’s like how friends and I used to compare how terrible we felt the morning after a particular fun night out: yes we all felt like death and occasionally wish we could take our choices back, but mostly we’re super happy we decided to infuse that watermelon with vodka and we’re adults so whatever.

Even though I still have a few weeks to go, I’ve developed some coping mechanisms that make work not nearly as painful as it could be, given the fact I’m constantly wetting myself and need to eat exactly every three minutes. I thought I’d share them with the internet, in case there are others out there like me who wonder how they’ll survive the next few weeks. Here’s my suggestions on how to survive life at the office in your third trimester:

  • Give in to leggings. I remember reading accounts from other pregnant woman about how they lived in leggings their third trimester. I also remember being dumb and judgmental about it, thinking about how I would wear professional maternity clothing because I’m a professional or whatever. To these random women on the internet: I’m sorry I ever judged you. I can’t remember the last time I wore real pants to work. My go-to professional dress is now a nice tunic or dress over leggings. I dress up dowdy single-color maternity dresses with scarves or distracting bracelets. It works for me.
  • Snacks. All the snacks, everywhere, in my cubicle all the time. I felt bad for the very nice colleague of mine that can probably hear every crunch of every carrot stick, but hopefully I have the pregnancy card to play and she realizes this shall pass. Or wears headphones.
  • The more brainless the task, the better. I seek out projects that really just require me to check preexisting work, pull documents, or even enter dumb numbers into my dumb computer. Anything requiring thoughtful analysis on my part seems to take twice as long as it used to, and I seem to second-guess myself more than before. I’m not saying I don’t pull my weight at the office – in fact, I’m volunteering for more work than ever before. But I try to grab projects that I know I can do in my sleep, because honestly I’m so sleep-deprived third trimester you don’t want me doing much heavy lifting. My brain is also constantly distracted by random pains or emergency bathroom trips to focus on anything for long periods at a time. Depressing but true.
  • That leads me to bathroom breaks. Assess your closest bathrooms, and have a back-up bathroom on hand in case it’s occupied and you suddenly realize you are about to wet yourself. This happens to me at least once a day – I stand up from my computer to get a drink of water or to mail something and realize I have exactly one minute before I wet myself. My son is sitting very low though, so maybe my urgency is unique. Also if you’re the sort of person who likes to pretend you don’t have bodily functions in the presence of others I suggest you get over it. People WILL notice how often you run to the restroom and having a sense of humor about it is the only thing you can do (unless adult diapers are your thing).
  • On a less physical note, connect with your colleagues. One of the best things about my current ailments is I’ve discovered so many of my colleagues understand what I’m going through. I’ve been able to connect with people I haven’t before, and it’s made my experience at work so much more pleasurable when I can joke with co-workers about my waddle or swollen feet at the water cooler. Co-workers that seemed distant before are happy to share stories about their own children or nieces and nephews. I feel like I’ve really gotten to know people at my office on a different level, which can only help improve our work environment. Note: this may not work for you if you’re office is full of the sort of people who want to dole out advice on how you should raise your child, or how you’re doing it all wrong. I worried so much about these reactions I didn’t talk much about my pregnancy to begin with, but once I opened up a bit I was really pleased to discover my colleagues are normal, nice people who’ve lived through similar experiences. Humanity!
  • If you’re like me and have a billion doctors’ appointments towards the end of your pregnancy, own it. Remember you are a professional and having a doctor’s appointment doesn’t make you any less good at your job. For me, one of the most difficult things about expecting my first child is learning to weave impending expectations related to motherhood with my own sense of self. I try to view these new aspects of my life as complementary and not competing. Yes, 2-4 doctors’ appointments a week takes me away from my desk more than I’d like. But because of this care I’m confident in my baby’s health and can focus on the task at hand when I’m at the office (unless I need to run to the bathroom . . . again). I also think that displaying this confidence, even if it’s just for show, tells others to take me seriously and not write me off as a new mother who doesn’t care about her job. Because I love my job!

I wish I had more snarky points about being awkward at the office, but honestly besides the discomfort, ranging from mild to extreme in any given day, I am glad I am working right now. Without the office I would be sitting at home, trying to set up my nursery but getting breathless and instead sitting on my couch twiddling my thumbs/Googling my symptoms to feed my anxiety. So thank you, mean doctor, for not signing off on my leave despite my intense desire every morning to just give in to my ailments. My paycheck and sanity thank you.

Friday Reads

Motherhood and Making Art

Amanda Palmer's

If I had kids, would I turn into a boring, irrelevant, ignorable artist? Would I suddenly start writing songs about balance and shit? Would I have a sudden, terrifying, interest in the LUTE?

A really great piece on impending motherhood and life as an artist. By Amanda Palmer and found on Medium.

pregnancy, rants

Shocking Update

Woke up this morning after a particularly fitful night of rest to discover that the weather had changed dramatically overnight. Instead of a summer morning, today is shaping up to be a beautiful fall day.

Of course, all I have in my closet are summer maternity clothes. So I went on a little scavenger hunt for a pair of thick sweatpants I wore all this winter. When it hit me.

I’ve been pregnant forever.



Face of sad, tired me

Me, when I realized that yes, I was pregnant this winter. With the same pregnancy.

pregnancy, rants

Third Trimester is Really Easy

Third trimester is really easy

. . . not that any of my pregnancy has been easy. The title of this blog, in case you haven’t inferred, is sarcastic. Because I’m sarcastic!

I originally thought I would update this blog weekly, as an outlet for myself because I can’t talk about all the shit that stresses me out to my nonpregnant/financially stable/distant friends. Everyone has their own stuff to worry about and I’m not one of those people who feels comfortable burdening my friends with worries and issues I’ve really brought on myself. That’s what the internet is for, right?

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Buying Guide: Buy Whatever You’re Going to Buy

Buying Guide: Buy Whatever You're Going to Buy

I resisted doing any research about infant/baby products my first trimester for two reasons: I was too ill/tired to lift my weakly fingers to my keyboard, and because I was terrified of investing too much in a pregnancy so early, especially when I had so many medical concerns.

Thankfully my first trimester came and went, so halfway through my second trimester I glanced quickly through Lucie’s List and my copy of Baby Bargains to get an idea of what I might need right away. I set up a private Amazon registry and shared it with my husband. And then I didn’t think much about it.

Until I did.

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