Thursday, February 17, 2011

Boy Books

We're having a boy! At least that's what the ultrasound tech told us, and I have to trust her experience, because I wasn't at all sure what I was looking at! :) It's terribly surprising and exciting - it's a whole new world. I know all about girl stuff (I was a very girly girl), but as an only child, I know NOTHING about boy stuff! And it occurred to me this afternoon, as I was shelving juvenile fiction, that I'll have to start reading some BOY BOOKS. A lifetime of reading Nancy Drew, Little Women, Anastasia Krupnick, and Sweet Valley High has ill prepared me for getting a little boy excited about reading! At least there's always Harry Potter. Thankfully, I have some time before Little Man is ready for the J-Shelves. We'll do some board books first, and they're pretty gender neutral.

Thursday, February 10, 2011


Is this really neccessary?!?

In addition, I would like to abolish all Jane Austen "updates" - the latest one I saw on our shelves is Bespelling Jane Austen. It's four romantic novellas based on Austen's works - with a paranormal twist. The poor woman. Can we just LEAVE HER ALONE? Her works are timeless masterpieces in and of themselves!

Monday, February 7, 2011

Book Review - Espresso Tales

One of the weirdest of my pregnancy experiences thus far has been a phase in the first trimester where I couldn't read. Books held no attraction for me for about three or four weeks. This is highly unusual for me. I had no attention span, and this combined with overwhelming fatigue left me crashing in front of the television every night after work. I didn't even care what I was watching, truthfully. If I did deign to read something, it was a pregnancy book. Blessedly, somewhere along week 9 or 10 I was able to enjoy my usual steady diet of fiction and I felt like myself again.

I am trying to make the most of my pre-baby time in many ways: spending time with friends, going out to eat, reading voraciously. My life is about to change in ways I can't even imagine, and I am sure that reading will be challenging if not impossible once Peanut arrives.

I just finished a positively delightful novel, Espresso Tales, the second of the Scotland Street series by Alexander McCall Smith. He's a Scottish author best known for his No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency mysteries, which I have not read. This is not a mystery, but a story about people and families living on and around Scotland Street in Edinburgh. You have Bruce, the ridiculous narcissist, trying to open a wine shop knowing next to nothing about business or wine, and there's Pat, his roommate, who works in an art gallery and gets an invitation to attend a nudist picnic with a young man she's interested in. There's poor Bertie, a 6-year old genius pushed by his overbearing mother to play saxophone, learn Italian, and take yoga, when really all he wants to do is watch trains and go fishing. There's Cyril, the dog who longs to bite ankles but doesn't want his master to yell at him, and Domenica, the wise older anthropologist in a bit of a rut. These characters yearn, make mistakes, overthink, pontificate, blunder through life, like the rest of us; they feel real and the reader roots for them - even the unsympathetic ones have their charms.

Why do I love reading these novels? They're light without being vapid, funny without trying too hard, subtly moving without manipulating emotions. Entertaining and intelligent, wise and witty. I am excited that there are three more novels in the series.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Another Me

I started cleaning out the office, which will hereby be known as the baby room. It looks like a bomb went off in there now, but I have a vision of soothing, semi-organized loveliness to come. I found two boxes of letters, cards, and mementos from college. Last night I sat on the couch and started going through one, only making it half-way before I felt soaked in too much nostalgia.

Letters are fantastic. No one writes them anymore. But this is not that blog entry, the one where I lament the death of paper and pen. This is the one where I ponder who the hell that person was that received all those letters. Certainly she was lucky, to be loved by so many interesting people, eager to share their summers and Christmas breaks and semesters abroad with her.

As my stack of things to toss out grew, so did my discomfort level. A potent mix of feelings swirled within - embarrassment, yearning, gratitude, sadness. I realized just how different I am now, how much I am not that 20-year-old anymore. Old regrets rose to the surface with the hindsight of the past 14 years. I should have studied in London, I should have applied myself more to my schoolwork, I should have spent a summer at an internship away. Simultaneously I took heart in the knowledge that these great people loved me, confided in me, missed me. I was surely doing something right in my life at that time to be surrounded by a circle of true friendship and camaraderie.

My husband always tells me I'm too hard on myself, and I know he's right. I had a wonderful college experience, full of interesting classes, amazing relationships, silliness, crushes, road trips, stupid arguments, parties, dancing... all the things that make going away from home for four years worthwhile and edifying. Hubby says, "You're just a late bloomer," and he's right again. Self-confidence and a willingness to try new things came relatively later in life to me, and sometimes that's just how it goes. Better late than never, I say. Still, reading all those letters dredged up old self-doubt.

With a box and a half to go through, part of me wants to just chuck it all! Sometimes it's better to let your old life rest, let your former self stay mostly forgotten.