I Pay Rapt Attention

Links from around the Web

Posted in Eccentricities by Zoelle on July 11, 2011

It’s been a while! I’m not so good at the regular blogging thing, I guess. But fear not! I’m still alive, and still writing. Here’s a sampling of recent work from around the interwebs:

http://www.chicagonow.com/the3six5-chicago/2011/07/july-9-2011-zoelle-egner/

http://borderlinepoetry.info/post/7435182775/vol-1-issue-9-zoelle-egner

http://dansemacabre.art.officelive.com/NouvellePoesieDeGuerre.aspx

I’m also a corporate blogger on green electronics for the MySears blog (but I’ll let you find that on your own ūüôā )

If you’d like to stay up-to-date on all things me, or peek inside my very strange brain, I keep a very regularly updated tumblr (zoelle.tumblr.com) with visual inspiration and snark from around the web, as well as an occasionally interesting twitter feed (@zoelle).

Stay tuned for serious life-updates in the next 2 weeks!

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And again, I return.

Posted in Eccentricities by Zoelle on June 2, 2010

Well, it’s official. I’m a college graduate. Crazy. Check out my class day speaker– he seemed more concerned with not having a funny hat than anything else. Also, I swear the man hasn’t physically aged since he left office. In manner, he’s certainly more grandfatherly, but still charismatic as ever.

What’s next for me, you ask? Well, I’m the type of person who panics without having several plans lined up, just in case all hell breaks loose and all of them fail. So: I’m in the bay area for the next two months, working almost full-time as a contractor for my old job. Then, in August, I’m moving to Chigago to start my first big-girl job. I just signed a lease on a beautiful apartment with a super awesome roommate and I’ve been pre-nesting for weeks. I’m looking forward to exploring Wicker Parker, not to mention cashing my relocation check. Besides that, I’m trying to find singing, writing and urban agriculture groups to join upon my arrival; trying frantically to learn about both retail marketing and etiquette; and trying to come up¬†with a reasonable budget.

Projects in the works:

-shortening my thesis for publication. I might not have won any major university-wide prizes, but my advisor thinks my work is seminal! Seminal, I tell you. What more could I possibly ask?

-finally starting my bathroom graffiti project. Stay tuned for details.

-Writing for the brand-spanking-new blog “Snob Lessons.” I’ll link there asap, fear not.

And, of course, resurrecting this blog. You can expect posts on experimental and digital literature, mobile apps, being a woman in the workplace, rooftop gardens, adventures in napa, my quest to appreciate beer, how to move across the country without going broke, the nuances of slam poetry, current events, and my terror at the prospect of actually leaving California.

Finally, the last¬†3 really good books I’ve read:

The Convalescent by Jessica Anthony. What an incredible story. Scrumptious. And the cover art is to die for.

Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides. Not about the place in England, as it happens. But what a gorgeous novel. So glad I got over the title and read it.

Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell. Wow wow wow wow. As has been said before, lovely Russian dolls masquerading as fiction. So beautiful.

BONUS FUN FACT: On Monday, I fell asleep in a casino. While seated at a slot machine. Yes, I am a champion sleeper.

What is it about Free Stuff?

Posted in Eccentricities by Zoelle on July 21, 2009

What is it with American culture and free things? This morning, my boss and I stood in line for half an hour to get a free pastry with the purchase of a hot beverage at Starbucks. Would I have typically purchased a pastry? Would I typically have gone to starbucks at that time of morning? Was the pastry even worth waiting for? The answer to all of these questions is a pretty definitive ‘hell no.’ And yet because I got a shiny coupon (both on my own and as a forward from two of my superiors at work) I shelled out my $4 so I could get the free pastry. How does this make any sense? I mean, kudos to Starbucks for getting so many people to waste so much time (and without even stocking additional pastries to meet the demand- seriously? If your promotion goes until 10:30, have enough pastries to last that long. There were basically none left at 8:30) but how do we let this happen?

Another recent example, just to drive this point home: I basically never drink coffee at all, and I never got to McDonalds, and I still seriously considered finding one in downtown Oakland yesterday so that I could get a free 8 oz mocha– just because it was free and I like whipped cream under all circumstances. I’d chalk this complete absurdity to my own proclivity for acquiring free things (after all, I probably eat more samples than normal human food during any given weekend- thank you Costco and Trader Joes…) but I’m not alone! That line was at least 3x as long as it is on even the busiest mornings- and these are people who avoid wasting time and calories at all costs! Regardless, this strategy of waving the carrot of something-free (even something that’s not entirely desirable on its own without the incentive of shiny free-ness) is one that works out really well for people. If McDonalds really wants to enter the specialty coffee market, then giving away McCafe’s once a week for a month a) gets people to try the product and thus overcome any assumptions of poor quality they might have because it’s coming from a fast-food restaurant and b) gets them to try it regularly, potentially getting them in the habit of heading to McDonalds for their morning coffee. It’s obviously not going to work on everyone, but not a bad strategy, overall. I’ll be curious to see if they’re able to overcome the stigma of their preexisting brand and have real success in this market.

Speaking of Free Stuff

Charlie Hoehn just came out with a (free) e-book on Recession-Proofing yourself as a recent college graduate. His strategy hinges on the idea of willing working for intelligent people for free in order to prove your worth, open the door to future (paid) gigs, build a network, and create an impressive portfolio. The book is only 30 pgs long (with HUGE type) so it’s worth taking a look if you’ll be graduating soon (or, like some people I know, are older and looking to transition industries during a recession or have been out of the job market for a while.)

¬†So: In the spirit of the Tall mini-experiment I ran last weekend (in which I tested my theory that being tall was not the most important factor in peoples’ perceptions of me as was kind of posited in a recent book on being tall [spoiler: it wasn’t.]) I’m going to try out this recommendation. Admittedly, I’m not a graduate yet, and I already essentially have 2 job offers for after graduation (so I don’t really need to recession-proof myself), but the general concept should still apply, right? I’ve got a few mini-projects I’ve been meaning to pitch to people anyways, so I’m going to use the process and scripts Hoehn outlines and we’ll see how this goes. Either way, I’ll keep you posted.

The Value of an Education

Posted in Eccentricities by Zoelle on July 20, 2009

A few days ago, Ben Casnocha posted on his blog about Tyler Cowen’s comparison of the modern educational system to a placebo. It was… incendiary,¬† shall we say. The main point (as exhaustively clarified in the very lively comments to the post) was essentially that perhaps college students receive “intellectual self-confidence” (what Casnocha identifies as the primary benefit of a college education) from just thinking that they’re being educated (as opposed to actually learning anything.) While I have some problems with the validity of the metaphor in general (how can the educational system, which is inherently a delivery system be a placebo?)nevertheless, it got me thinking, and rather than jumping all over his blog (again) I thought I’d post some of my musings here:

On Critical Reasoning

The selling point for the liberal-arts college educational experience is in many ways the contention that it will “teach you to think” (at least, that’s what they claim here at Yale…) Numerous people (who I’m too lazy to track down links for right now) have seriously questioned whether it’s possible to teach a skill like critical reasoning in a classroom setting. While I think a class called “critical reasoning” sounds both exceptionally boring and not particularly useful, I -do- think that the collegiate educational environment does provide legitimate, tangible opportunities to build critical reasoning skills on a regular basis, though in a perhaps less formal sense. Writing essays forces development of the ability to construct a logical argument from preexisting material- that’s a certain type of thinking that can be applied more broadly than in English class. I could give more examples, but I’m hoping my point is clear- critical reasoning, to my mind, is one of those skills that really can be acquired through internalization of the general processes at work in specific circumstances (like essay writing or doing problem sets or working on a project)and because the college experience forces those situations upon the individual regularly and within a (theoretically) supportive environment, critical reasoning is almost forced to develop, at least to a point. Perhaps I’m being naive; it wouldn’t be the first time.

On the Value of College in General

It could be argued that for the sufficiently motivated individual, such experiences can be had outside of the collegiate bubble. That’s totally true- but I imagine that very few people are sufficiently motivated to sustain that level of constant challenge (of one kind or another) for a full 4+ years. Independent learning and exploration of that kind certainly require strong goals or at very least enough self-awareness to recognize what ought to be studied. I refuse to believe that a completely random approach could be as valuable as an admittedly generic or flawed but guided program. You’d have to get very lucky, at least.

Yet (as has also been argued over and over and over again) I would point to the other aspects of the collegiate experience to locate its value– for me at least. Mostly, it provides a deferment- I get to explore lots of things, meet lots of people, and stew until I get at least a marginally better idea of what I want to do professionally (in case you were wondering, I still have no clue. But that’s besides the point.)I suppose if I had known from the age of 5 that I wanted to be a zookeeper (like one of my friends) it would make more sense to muck around for a bit and then go to Zoo School– but I’m not in that situation, and something like 90% of my friends aren’t either. College serves as one giant tasting menu of everything from academic disciplines to types of people and even physical locations. Great for my confusion. I hope.

It’s also got all those other things people mention- meeting and interacting with diverse new people, making contacts, accessing new opportunities, etc. All of that is great, and if you know what you want to learn, well then, that’s good too. Especially in the sciences or medicine or other fields where some base level of rote memorization or skill is actually necessary to function.

To bring this back to my previous thoughts about critical reasoning: for me (a literature major) it’s not about remembering the specific content of specific classes (unless they directly relate to my thesis) so much as recalling how I approached various problems or issues I encountered in previous essays or readings and using that skill set to deconstruct analogous situations. It’s about recognizing something essential to human nature in all of its forms (in this case, narrative structure- my continual obsession- but that’s another story entirely.)And while I could read all these books on my own, I know I get more from listening to my peers fail to understand the source material than I could get from independently reading a critical essay with a different perspective. It helps me understand how other people think– and I can’t think of learning anything more valuable for the future. But that’s just me.

Ok, I know many of you are college students or formal college students- so if you managed to wade through my rambling thoughts above, leave some of your own- do you think the only benefit we get from formal education is an “intellectual self-confidence” of sorts? Am I naive to think there’s something more there? What do value do you find in college? Do you think you’re actually learning anything? More importantly, do you care if you are?

Thoughts on being a “Tall”

Posted in Eccentricities by Zoelle on July 10, 2009
Arianne Cohen just came out with “The Tall Book,” an examination of the world of tall women, and while I haven’t read the book itself yet, upon reading the review¬† in the NY Times, I started thinking (as I often do) about being a “Tall,” as the author calls us. Unlike the reviewer, I definitely count- I’m 6’2″ (that’s too tall to model, just in case you were wondering) and completely shameless about wearing heels. In fact, I typically have at least 2″ worth of shoe, if not 5. This is equal parts irrational love for shoes and thumbing my nose at those assholes who feel that my height makes my footwear subject to their judgment and regulation (yes, you know who you are.) Honestly, unless I’m roaming the city stabbing innocent people with my stilettos, you can back the fuck off, shorty.

Anyways. According to this book review, I am an “SUV of humanity.” That means all those great statistics you always hear about tall people- eat more, better salary, automatically given more personal space, longer life, etc etc. And of course, less likely to get married. Or find pants that fit. Regardless of whether or not those findings apply to me, I’m not really sure what I think about being called an SUV. Just saying.

That said, unlike the supposed majority of young tall women cited by the reviewer (and perhaps the author) as unhappy about their height, I like my height. I relish it. One of my college essays was about being tall, for heaven’s sake. Yet I’m confused by the problem that other tall women (including the author) seem to have with “dating down.” Maybe I don’t have a problem with it because I’m rarely really conscious of my height differential with other people (it’s just sort of how the world works- I tend to be literally looking down most of the time. I only tend to notice if I have to significantly look up) or because I tend to meet the people I’m dating when we’re both sitting down (I am, after all, a student, which means a lot of time at a desk) but I’ve “dated down” for most of my life. I can think of two people total that have been taller than me at all, and only one who was noticeably so. My longest relationship was with someone who was significantly shorter, and while he DID find as many curbs to stand on as possible, that was more of a running joke between us than anything else.

As for being treated differently… well, it’s hard to say, isn’t it? I’ve only ever been treated the way I am, you know? I find that I get substantially different treatment based on the amount of time I put into my appearance, not whether or not I’m wearing heels. That could be because my starting height is already pretty up there, but I think it’s more than that. Attractiveness and confidence are just as important, if not more so.

Penelope Trunk recently wrote about “How to Be a¬†Tall Person¬†at Work” which, to be completely honest, I had some trouble taking seriously (yes, because I’m already tall,) even though she does make an interesting point about body language and people’s perceptions. And she’s not the only one writing about such things recently. It’s everywhere. What is all this recent obsession with height, anyway? Is it that height is one of those few things that people can’t really change about themselves (as opposed to just about everything else these days) and everyone is hyperaware of any real or perceived advantage that a person can have? Is this part of a larger societal fascination that I’ve been willfully ignoring? Perhaps. Either way, perhaps I’ll pay closer attention to people’s body language when they speak to me for the next few weeks, and we’ll see if I notice anything special. Maybe I’ll take to wearing those really high heels more than I already do. Who knows.

 

Thoughts on Music, Literature, and (dreaded) Self-Reflection

Posted in Eccentricities by Zoelle on June 24, 2009
Music
Is it just me, or is the majority of popular music written in a range suited for most women? That is to say, I’ve noticed that over the years, the popularity of certain bands experiences an abrupt increase once they change the key of their songs to accomodate the typical female range (see also: Death Cab for Cutie, etc etc) There are obviously notable exceptions to this, but it’s an interesting phenomenon nonetheless.

Literature

I recently finished Evidence of Things Unseen by Marianne Wiggins. Now as I’ve mentioned before, I really like Marianne Wiggins. Her prose is gorgeous and she has the capacity to write some of the most beautiful and expansive sentences I’ve ever encountered. I’m a huge fan of The Shadow Catcher. In that context, Evidence of Things Unseen was surprisingly disappointing. This isn’t to say that it’s a bad book- it’s actually quite good. The characters are compelling and she makes some interesting moves throughout her narrative about this couple building a life together post-WWII. Yet even as she painstakingly produces the voice of the characters in their thoughts and their dialogues with each other, she completely ruins the practical-country-folk-with-quirky-scientific-interests by giving them her trademark beautiful language. This isn’t to say that I don’t think them/that type of person incapable of expansive thoughts or beautiful language- it’s just remarkably out of character and doesn’t fit with the other things they’ve thought and said. Wiggins’ prose gets away from her, and it’s disappointing, considering how well she managed it in the Shadow Catcher. Oh well. It’s always disappointing to realize that you may have discovered an author’s best work first- the others are unfortunately diminished by comparison.

UPDATE: At least Shadow Catcher was more recent, and thus represents an improvement over her earlier work. I am slightly less disappointed.

What I’m reading now:

Zelda by Nancy Milford; Underworld by Don Delillo; House of Leaves by Mark Z Danielewski

Self-Reflection

As part of the process of writing essays for business school, I’ve been forced to think a lot about two relatively nebulous and thus uncomfortable topics: my past accomplishments, and what I hope to achieve in the future. I’ve had no problem articulating what I’ve learned from mistakes, or the trajectory of my academic career, but trying to identify my three most significant achievement is particularly problematic. I’m not trying to imply that I think I’ve accomplished nothing- I consider a lot of things I’ve done to be significant, at least to me. The issue is more attempting to find the balance between the things I find important (which tend to be more intangible and related to the relationships I have with people) and concrete projects that might be impressive to an admissions committee. As for my future plans, well- I don’t have to answer the question about my career vision. In fact, I probably won’t. But its presence made me stop and think a lot about why I’m even applying for this program in the first place. I know it appealed to me in that it built in 2 years of work prior to going back to school, but still guaranteed that I’d have a place if I wanted it. But why business school at all? It’s still a little unclear, but here’s what I came up with:

1. Business is a profession that appeals to me. I navigate complicated structures with relative ease, I’m a social person, and the types of problems that appear in a business situation appeal to me. I believe that communication between a business and its clients (or employees, for that matter) is incredibly interesting, and has the potential to be important. Also, I like delegating.

2. At present, I don’t want to be an entrepreneur. I have ideas, of course, but I don’t feel I’m in a place to develop them yet. I’d rather take existing entities and make them better. In several of my recent jobs, I’ve essentially acted as an internal consultant, and I really enjoyed the experience. I like dropping into a situation or organization and identifying problems or solutions that had been overlooked because of the culture of a company. I like clarifying the vision of others, and helping provide next steps to achieve it. To put it bluntly: At this point in my life, creating a business of my own feels like having a child, and I’m not ready to be a mother.

¬†Thus: If I want to be involved in business, but do so in the capacity of engaging with existing organizations and improving them, I could stand to use an MBA. I’ll learn things there that could be helpful, and I’ll get to meet people who could be helpful later.¬† Also, I can always change my mind.
A final note about current events:

-There are rumors that BART might go on strike because of potential paycuts. I know that paycuts are unfortunate, but they’re happening everywhere. The UC system is taking 8% paycuts across the board. As someone dealing with the impending unemployment of a family member and all of its repercussions, I say: suck it up. At least you have jobs. And relatively high-paying ones at that. If you go on strike, hundreds of other people (ok, I) can’t go to work. In this economy, that just doesn’t seem fair.

-North Korea is making me nervous, but that might be because I’m on the West Coast right now.

-I can’t come up with anything interesting, original, or even particularly informed to say about Iran right now. I can’t even clarify my thoughts on the issue. But it certainly feels significant, and I’m interested to see what happens. I wish I thought the outcome (either way) would mean much for women’s rights or attitudes towards the West, but I honestly don’t.

 

 

Summertime, and the blogger is back…

Posted in Eccentricities by Zoelle on May 10, 2009

I feel like this blog is a timeshare I only use during the summer.

Well, so much for updating this thing while I was away at¬† school. Apparently Yale is enough to distract me from my internet duties. That, or maybe the fact that my laptop has been broken since Thanksgiving. It’s a quick fix (I just need to buy and install a new monitor because my old one had an unfortunate encounter with the corner gmat study book after falling off my bed and thus looks a bit like two-dimensional broken glass) but I’ve been either broke or lazy for the last 6 months, so there you go.

Anyways, my last final was yesterday, I only have one paper left (for TV and Media theory, which should be fun rather than soul-sucking, even if it -is- 25 pages…) and from what I can tell, the sun is out for the first time in a week and it should be a beautiful day in New Haven.

Oh,¬† New Haven. How I love to rag on you most days… my usual deal with New Haven is that it’s only good for two things: Yale and eating. Fortunately for me, both of these things are pretty high up on my list of things to do, but still! Occasionally a girl wants to entertain herself with more than a lecture or a piece of (admittedly delicious) pizza. And the weather pretty uniformly sucks most of the time. Yet I’m having trouble with that argument right now, because I have to hand it to this place– when it’s not oppressively humid and the temperature is over 50 degrees and it’s not overcast, New Haven can be surprisingly attractive. With the sky no longer an eerie burnt orange color at night, and spontaneous rainstorms apparently on hold, the New Haven green with its trees and churches and colonial buildings is really pretty. My school has gothic architecture. I live in a bloody castle! How can I not feel some fondness towards this place when it’s sunny and I have no classes to murder my soul?

Regardless, I’m staying for commencement this year, which means I won’t be back in California until May 27. At that point I’ll be returning to my job from last summer- the pay was too good for a girl on financial aide to look elsewhere, if you catch my meaning.¬† Besides, my coworkers were/are good people, and working 9-5 in Oakland means that I’m close to SF or Berkeley when I get off, and I know I’ll have my evenings free. Who needs that 12 hour workday bullshit my i-banking intern friends are dealing with this summer? 1) Who would want to work in i-banking in this economy anyway and 2) I don’t care if you make $20,000 for the summer, it’s still a shitty per-hour because you’re working 100 hrs a week to get it.¬† I’d rather make half for only 40% of the hours and get to have a life of my own.

So. If anyone out there still reads this, I’m back, and will be serving up thoughts about food, books, and anything else I happen to fancy on a semi-regular basis starting soon.

I’m back! (also, my word count is currently 666. Creepy.)

Posted in Eccentricities by Zoelle on December 21, 2008

So apparently posting from school didn’t work out so well for me this semester. It’s been a while, let’s say. Regardless,¬† I’m back in California for the next several weeks, and finally have access to a computer again. I apparently have the worst luck with laptop monitors that has ever existed- both of my laptops have been put out of commission by problems with their screens. Sigh.

Anyway, what a crazy ride the last few months have been, right? There’s the economy, and everything happening in Mumbai, and that awful movie Twilight. That’s right, I saw it. In fact, it was so bad, I saw it twice. I’ve never had to do that before, but I suppose there’s a first time for anything. I simply couldn’t believe it was as atrocious as it was after the first viewing. Needless to say,¬† I wasn’t wrong. Who knew an American accent could be so bad? (That’s right, I’m looking at you, Robert Pattison) Who knew vampires glittered?¬† At least Australia had Hugh Jackman going for it…

While we’re on the subject of movies, I will say that Slumdog Millionaire was incredible. The movie ranges from depictions of abject squalor to startling wealth, showing along the way both the briefest glimpse of the range of Indian society and a truly compelling story about the power of human ingenuity and feeling. There are poop jokes and religious killings, blindings and riding on trains. I can’t even express how worthwhile this movie was. Go see it. I’m seeing it again.

In the absence of my computer, I was fortunate enough to get a lot of reading done. What is finals period for, right?¬† I finally finished The Savage Detectives by Roberto Bolano. It’s a wonderful book (if a bit sluggish in the middle) and incidentally, I’ve finished just in time for two new Bolano translations to appear- what’s being touted as his magnum opus, 2666, and a collection of his poetry, The Romantic Dogs. I’ve also been fortunate enough to read a collection of his short stories entitled Last Evenings on Earth, so I can safely say that based on that and Detectives, I’m looking forward to reading these new works. Bolano somehow manages to write obsessively about the same topics or characters (usually struggling writers and their interactions with others of their ilk) without driving me crazy. This is an impressive feat, considering how short my attention span is.

Yet perhaps the most wonderful piece of writing I’ve read recently was The Shadow Catcher by Marianne Wiggins. Wiggins has a way of stringing together words that’s truly moving. I found myself wandering around reading the first page of the book outloud to my suitemates, trying to figure out exactly what it was in her prose that was compelling. Let’s just say that it’s pretty enough that my suitemates didn’t mind (which is also saying something, considering that they were studying for finals…) Regardless, it’s a beautiful book, and I’m currently desperately trying to get my hands on a copy of “Evidence of Things Unseen” as a result.

Other books consumed in the last month: Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter S Thompson, Women with Men by Richard Ford, For the Relief of Unbearable Urges by Nathan Englander, The Book of Ralph by John McNally, The Burning Plain by Juan Rulfo (and many more)

It’s raining here, so lightly that I can hardly tell. Instead, the sky seems to flicker outside my window. It’s an odd effect. I’ve got to plan my trip to Southern California now, but I’ll be back to talk about my classes (Digital Literature and Graphic Forms and Advanced Fiction Writing oh my!) and the GMAT (terror!) and my fantasies of throwing dinner parties (which are more exciting than you might expect) and perhaps even the new projects I have in the works. Who knows? There may even be a graphic novel adaptation of the only good short story I ever wrote. Featuring old robots, no less.

Quick update

Posted in Eccentricities by Zoelle on August 26, 2008

Hey all,

Still haven’t quite made it to school yet- making a pit stop in Trumbull, CT for a capella retreat. I’ve been playing beach volleyball and going on long walks and staring longingly at the lake and oh, I guess singing too. Today we had a performance seminar, and I remembered how much I love performing. I may actually try out for some stuff this year.

In other news, the closing ceremonies of the Olympics were pretty sweet (though not as cool as the opening ones) despite the HORRIFYING costumes. Bright pink and rhinestones?! Really?! Stepping out of your dress to go grope Jimmy Page?! Really London? Sigh.

It was nice to see all of the replays as well (because Usain Bolt is amazing, as are the gymnasts and the swimmers) and watching Michael Phelps stumble through speaking in London was kind of fun. I was sad not to see more of the ridiculous World According to Ryan Lochte, but I suppose we can’t always get what we want. There should have been a greatest hits of the commentary. Excluding the weird cultural segments with Mary Carillo (who I really think may be a man. Maybe. [That’s mean, but dude, she has the lowest voice ever.) I feel like she could totally do some good journalism, but was limited to sort of lame things by the circumstances. Oh well.

Anyway, more to come later- I’m off to Redding and speed scrabble.

Red-Eyes, Reading, and Rena

Posted in Eccentricities by Zoelle on August 17, 2008

Red-Eyes

I hate them. I am tall, and the seats aren’t made for people of my stature. Enough said.

Reading

Upon (finally) reaching the hotel, I crashed into bed and grabbed All About Lulu, a novel by Jonathan Evison. This book also holds the distinction of being the book behind My Favorite Book Tour that I mentioned earlier this summer.

Despite my exhaustion, I powered through all 336 pages in 3ish hours, which is a testament both to the flow of the writing and my hunger to read. I’m pretty tired now, so I won’t go into an astonishing amount of detail here with my thoughts on the book. Basically, it’s relatively well written, breezy, with an interesting conceit, and some surprisingly captivating characters. I especially like one Eugene Gobernecki and his transcendental Hot Dog stand. The ending isn’t surprising (I think I figured it out 50 pages in) but the story kept me going until the end, and I didn’t resent its predictability, which is a feat for a twist junkie like me.

It’s a good summer read, and I would certainly recommend checking it out if you’re looking for a light, fun piece.

Rena

Is getting married tomorrow. Tonight was dinner with the relatives. They’re surprisingly cooler than I remembered. In the next few days, if I have time, I’ll try to recreate the rant that Bernie, my uncle’s old college professor AKA the crankiest Canadian man ever, decided to share with us tonight. He’s sort of amazing.

In other news, Speedo must be kicking itself for making million dollar promises to one Michael Phelps. What a great run, eh?