More Books!

I have 4 new books up on the sidebar today! And thank you to the people who made purchases last week! Don’t be shy on letting me know how you liked the books or why you gifted in them in comments or in email!

Lately I’ve been staring at the pile of my own books and feeling terribly guilty about not having time to read them. I’m currently carrying around Honored Guest, a collection of short stories by Joy Williams (author of The Quick and The Dead) in my purse and I’m about 1/2 way done, although I should have finished weeks ago.

I find it incredibly difficult to focus so much of my time on writing AND reading. It’s a little bit of one or the other at the moment. In a perfect world I wouldn’t waste the good hours of the day slaving away in an office, and I’d have time to do plenty of both, but gotta pay the bills! Oh, if 15 year old Lauren could read that line now – she would be shocked! A starving (read: temping) artist I certainly had no intention of becoming, that’s for sure.

But that’s beside the point – 4 new books for you to check out this week! All a little different. This time around not every author is living, but every book is, if that makes sense. The stories this week are vibrant, cry-inducing, fascinating pieces of literature. Make sure to check out my comments on each – Warning – I tend to gush. Happy Reading!

Giving of the Thanks

This is a little late since all of the Thanksgiving hoopla has come to a close (except for maybe leftovers? I hear someone out there (ahem) has a lot of leftover mashed potatoes to deal with). Over on this end, curled up in the little apartment with a view of the ocean, we spent Thanksgiving wishing to see family back home, watching movies, and eating dinner rolls with jam. And Apple pie. Because when you’re a grown up (debatable) and not with family, you can do whatever you want on Thanksgiving. So over a 3 day period I finished a can of black olives straight out of the can, sprayed whip cream directly into my mouth, and ate pie straight out of the Safeway box. Hells Yes.

Sunday, while we ate lunch at the Olive Garden (helloooo unlimited salad and bread sticks!), I realized we had not taken the time to give a proper thanks. (you mean this holiday is not only about food?)

So here it is, a little late but a lot well meaning:

– Best friends who stand in for sisters
– Finding my buddy in Kamel
– A solid soon-to-be extended family
– Good health
-Finding emotional evenness in my life
– Books
– My parents
– Writing buddies

I hope your weekend was full of good food, family and low on the drama. The Holidaze are upon us!

Books Books and More Books!

I have a kindle. I wrote about when I got it, nearly a year ago, here. I talked about how the world wasn’t quite ready for a kindle, because the world was still in a place between new technology and old technology, the book being a pretty rad piece of technology that’s been holding strong for centuries.

And though I have barely used it since Kamel bought it for me last Christmas, I am a huge fan (mostly because I had a towering pile of books to work through before I felt comfortable loading up on a bunch more, even if they were electronic copies). I’m really a huge fan of Amazon, period. In college I used to order fist fulls of books and then choose to have them shipped in bundles so the shipping would be the least expensive and sometimes one bundle would arrive in a week, another in 3 and another a month out. I was in college and still gobbling down books for fun, forgetting what exactly I had ordered until the boxes would magically appear on my door step. And then Amazon expanded into so much more than books and I started buying kitchen appliances and running shoes from there. Amazon is a magical, magical online shopping place.

This is why I am so excited to announce my amazon box over at the side bar. I will list 4 books I think are noteworthy for whatever period of time, then I’ll switch it up! Maybe I just finished one, maybe it’s one of my all time favorites, maybe it’s one I’ve heard good things about and is sitting on my nightstand right now waiting for its turn. I know from the awesome comments left on yesterdays post about sticking happy notes inside books, I have a lot of word nerds happy for suggestions lurking out there. I’m here to feed your addiction, my friends. If you hover over the individual book icons you can see my little endorsement.

I know that buying books second hand, and rocking the library are how a lot of readers roll. But! I strongly believe in supporting living writers with my cash money – since one day I hope to join their ranks and somehow pay my bills from my (many, many) book deals (ahem). And guess what? By supporting these authors – who all happen to be alive thankyouverymuch – you’ll also be supporting me (at no extra cost to you). If you would rather spare a tree (and hence your love of second hand and library books), you can opt to buy the kindle addition – which may actually be cheaper (until the publishing industry has its way, of course).

AND! Because I’m kicking this off right before the lovely holiday season – every week until Christmas I’ll be highlighting 4 new books, so you’ll have lots of stocking stuffer options, or just self indulgences to read on planes while heading toward family (who may or may not make you want to rip out your hair. Escape in a book, you’ll feel better). So ta da! Amazon! Welcome to Better In Real Life!


Adventure-ing: Random Acts of Kindness

I’ve been trying to come up with fun projects that make other people happy and it’s hard! It’s hard because so often it requires me to have an excess in funds and/or time. Both things I am currently struggling with (did you KNOW that I have not even seen HP7 yet?! You should totally be appalled.). I actually was supposed to run through this project three weeks ago. But one thing lead to another, and I spent all weekend on the couch, leaking from my face, and kindness to strangers got put on the back burner. Thankfully it’s Thanksgiving week and I’m thinking some kind gestures go quite well will this time of year.

So Saturday afternoon I braved the downtown pre-holiday madness to stuff some lovely notes into ten of my favorite books. Two notes per title. I always got a kick out of the people who said they found postcards inside the post secret books they bought. I have two of those books but I always bought them off amazon, so I never got to partake. But now, there are 20 notes floating around a bookstore in San Francisco waiting to be discovered. I’ll never know who finds them, I’ll never know if they fall out or if someone from the store sees me on the security cameras and then runs behind me and takes them all out of the books, but I hope not! It’s just kind of fun to know that maybe I made somebody smile while they were reading Pride and Prejudice for their Junior Year english class and hating every minute of it.

I didn’t put my blog URL or even my name on the notes, just happy words and letting them know they were reading one of my favorites. But if you do happen to find one, let me know, cuz that would be kind of fabulous.

The list of books I folded notes into are:

Jane Eyre, Bronte
Oryx & Crake, Atwood
A Year of Magical Thinking, Didion (nonfiction)
Their Eyes Were Watching God, Zora Neal Hurston
Pride and Prejudice, Austen
Tess of the D’Ubervilles, Hardy
Cat’s Eye, Atwood
The Time Travelers Wife, Niffenegger
Who Will Run The Frog Hospital, Moore
Blood, Tin, Straw, Olds (poetry)

Lust List: Stay Warm Weather Wear

I can’t help loving big coats and and hats and scarves (ok, so I don’t actually understand how to wear that last one, but maybe that discussion is for another day). I love winter time accessories! Summer makes me feel naked and like every roll and dimple is hanging out for the world to see. BUT WINTER! Winter covers me all up in amazing fabrics and chic little details. So let’s go shopping.

This is a kick ass ear warmer with a peony flower embellishment. In the center of the flower are Swarovski Crystals! I just drooled on myself a bit. It’s adorable! And found at Snugglebugkidz etsy shop.

This is a perfect example of a hat I wish I could wear, but even if I owned I wouldn’t. I’m bad at accessories. Maybe one day I’ll be able to figure it all out. But in the meantime you can take advantage of it. I love the extreme droopyness of it and how it looks so heavy and well made. Warm and effortlessly stylish. Natalya is from Las Vegas. Where it is sometimes cold? In the winter times? Who knew.

I want to have a baby JUST SO I can put them in this hat. Until they grow out of it, then I’m going to make another baby just so I can keep using the hat. Baby Trojan from Short Army? Yes please.

This is a jacket by Little Houses. The designer is from Canada and I swoon over her designs. Soon. I have THIS jacket (it looks better on me than the model… ahem) and really, really, really, really, REALLY want THIS jacket. More than… my car? I dunno. A lot. I love her style, her accidentally on purpose mussy look. The rugged, feminine of it all. Plus she’ll custom make her jackets for you if you don’t match the size measurements all that well (hello ladies with small ribs and big boobs! or broad shoulders and skinny arms!).  That’s right CUSTOM. So go buy presents for people! Maybe they need to stay a little warmer than they currently are. Brr.

Sci Fi For The Win!

So I’ve been doing my weekend writing on projects that are make believe with Margaret. Also known as Lauren-gets-to-eat-a-muffin-day! I have been frequenting the coffee shops and not checking in with Weight Watchers about it. OH THE SHAME (and delight!). But of course, I’m making these Saturday outings for the WRITING, not for the scones (and the tea)… of course.

A few weeks ago Kamel forwarded me a link that one of his friends had sent him about a writing contest promoting global climate awareness. I’d have to scrounge around for the link somewhere in my Gchats so hopefully I can find it before the contest comes due in December, but I couldn’t help but want to rise to the occasion! Especially with my avid love for Margaret Atwood and her current series (Oryx and Crake, Year of the Flood) that tackles just that. I’ve never done any sci-fi before, but I do know the way to write a good piece of fiction is by writing good, plausible characters, and not getting swept up and carried away by the details of the setting. Although, in Sci-fi those have to be pretty effing good too. I’m sure there will be thousands and thousands of entries, but I’m on track to finish it all up and send it off by the deadline, so here’s hoping.

And here is a little sample of what I’m working on. Ya know, to keep me honest.

When it was really hot Ellis slept with her bedroom door open, and when she slept with her bedroom door open she could hear her father’s snores echoing down the hall. On nights when her father’s snores kept her awake, she could also hear the rats sifting through the compact garbage outside, burrowing deeper, more complicated paths of tunnels. Lice had begun to be a major nuisance. Ellis scratched at her left leg with her right foot, her face smished into her pillow, then kicked off her sheet altogether and rolled onto her back. She pounded the mattress with her fist and groaned into the night, “It’s too fucking hot.” Her air purifier gently buzzed in the corner, trying to keep the toxins outside and the good air inside. It worked well enough to keep her from developing asthma. She was lucky to not be born with it.

If I win anything, I’ll let you know. Ha. Fingers crossed.

Hot Mess

Kamel had to fly to Miami last Tuesday for a family emergency and I encouraged this.

“It will be fine, you have to go. I can’t come, but everything will be fine here. Trust me. I’ll hold down the fort!”

“Are you sure?” he asked.

“Are you kidding me? I did survive before YOU came around,” I said.

And then he left and I tried to find my way home via the bus (it’s a new office, an area I’m not familiar with… yet) and I couldn’t find the stop! I wandered around for 40 minutes , 30 of which were in a very annoying misty rain. Smart phones only help when you know how to look stuff up. Ahem.

Wednesday started off with a tickle in my throat and wearing a shirt backwards all day long. I only noticed it when I was headed to bed. Oof.

And then Thursday I knew I was sick. Really, world? I can’t just have a normal week by myself while Kamel is in Miami dealing with his family? I can’t just keep it together and mind my own business? I have to get the worst flu I’ve had in years! Which means no work on Friday, and no leaving the house since the one time I went to Walgreens to buy more tissue and hand sanitizer. Awesome.

I’m still here. On the couch. Not at work. Trying not to speak too much lest I cough up a lung. Taking naps and my temperature at normal intervals. I am a disgrace to independent women everywhere! Mah Man leaves and then I completely fall apart. And then he has to sweep in and find me laid up, a total mess without him. Sigh. It reminds me of the time my dad went on a business trip and my mother – THE most fiercely independent woman I’ve ever known – was left to handle things for a week. And what happened? The dog ate rancid salmon and shit all over the house. I mean ALL OVER the house. Why does the universe wait for these perfect moments where we are at our most vulnerable? It’s a fun little stress test, I’m sure.

And now Kamel is back in town, force feeding me water and tylenol. And thank god for my buddy. Being sick is the WORST when you’re by yourself.

Lauren Life List Vol. 4

The Life List is an ever growing, shrinking, changing thing. Like an Amoeba. Actually, I don’t really know if the latter has to do with the former whatsoever. But let’s just all say Amoeba out loud one time, altogether. Aaa-mmeeee-baaa. Ok I’m done.

Back to the point. Life List stuff! As I cross stuff of my list, make plans to cross stuff off my list, or dream about crossing stuff of my list (trip to Spain, anyone?), I decide to take some things off that are just not that important to me anymore, and add some more things on.

Here are five new things that I am adding:

1.) Take more fashion risks (whatever this means to me… I haven’t quite figured it out yet, but I’ll let you know when I do)
2.) Finally find boots that fit (You can see my failed attempt(s) here)
3.) Work to support other women in their personal and professional goals without jealousy (this is an idea stemmed from this post and Alyssa’s following comment)
4.) Go to a ticker-tape parade
5.) Work on a photo project of LA

I also want to know what YOU are doing. I read all the comments over at MightyGirl from all the people over there accomplishing fun things when she asks for feedback, but I don’t know those people. And I know you (or I COULD know you), so therefore you are more interesting.

Like Maris – Are you going to write down your goals in my comments so that I don’t keep bothering you about them (because we talk, and then i forget…)? Hmmm?

And Ali! – Where is your life list? You are already doing an amazing thing by running 1 race every month for a year, so I’m pretty sure the rest of your goals are going to be A-mazing.

Alyssa – Do you have a life list? I feel like I should know this about you. If you don’t, can you just indulge me with something fun or scary that you are planning for yourself sometime in the future?

Even my wonderful Aunt has shared some life list-ery with me. And I think she should put those things on under my life list tab too, for all the internet world to see and support her with. Because you really never know who is going to read it, and who is going to have that bit of knowledge that could make your life just THAT much easier.

I’m Being Overrun Pt. 2

So, the car seemed to be handled, except for my chronic fear while driving that left me twitchy and probably a hazard to the road that ants would come pouring forth from the dashboard at any given moment and eat me alive. Possibly irrational? Yes. Totally terrifying? YES.

And then we were ant free. Until the following Thursday. No ants in the car on Monday, and then suddenly ants all over our counters in our kitchen on Thursday. Whhhhhhy??? I was home alone, probably writing a blog or doing something online, and I went to get a glass of water and noticed ants, crawling haphazardly all around the clean dishes in the dish drainer, all over the clean dishes, and even in the sink, which had nothing in it. Curiouser and curiouser. By this time I was just so annoyed by the ants, that I really wasn’t freaked out anymore, I was just tired of it. So I stayed out of the kitchen…. until I needed a snack… and then I opened the cupboards and there were ants crawling over all of our dried goods, all over the peanut butter, all over the sauces and spices, all willy nilly, with no line, no direction, just wandering around and driving me fucking crazy!!

Kamel got home around 9:30 and I hadn’t eaten because… ew. And even he, the eternal flame of patience, was totally icked out. So we whipped out the ant traps, we sprinkled pepper all over our cupboards… even as the ants were crawling on the ceiling. And then we hoped it would clear up over night, but the next morning ants were still there. All over our clean dishes, all over everything! So we made breakfast, put the peanut butter in the fridge (After rinsing it off because it was … covered), and left for the day. Well, Kamel needed to grab something in the apartment during his lunch break, and when he got back to the office I got pinged on gchat.

Kamel: You would have died.

Me: What?

Kamel: There were so many ants that I panicked and just started killing all of them. Lauren, it was a swarm! All over the sink!

Me: I would have puked.

Kamel: And it was all because I left a rinsed off spoon that had little, little speck of peanut butter in the sink. The spoon was BLACK!

Me: That’s it, we’re calling the landlord RIGHT when we get home.

But the apartment manager was shocked to hear we had ants, said he hadn’t had anyone complain about ants in 10 years! He told us to keep the traps out and in a few days it should work, but if not we should lure them out with some sugar and see if they form a line and then we can plug up whatever hole they are marching through. Puke.

Eventually they did leave, slowly, slowly. Except on Saturday I went to get a glass of water and after taking a gulp I saw an ant larvae floating in the water. EWWW!! And then last night I saw one ant roaming my cupboards again. Barf.

This just isn’t fair! we are clean! and yet… we have bugs. And now Kamel is out of town until Saturday night and I really, really hope that there is not a part 3 to this story.