Love

2013/01/29

It is fabulous that Sylvie is always asking me for Math worksheets to do when she's bored. It is scary that she can intuitively do many of the things that my high school students struggle with.

Create

2013/01/19

Some friends and I went to a pottery throwing class a few weeks ago and today we're back to paint our creations. Perfection in imperfection. And fun.

Blindness

2013/01/18


BlindnessBlindness by José Saramago
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Second time I've read it and I still find it amazing. But I'm also careful to note that this is not a book that I freely recommend - some of the scenes are graphic. Which is understandable since it deals with the decay of society and the edges of human morality.

What I loved:
There is so much to think about in this book. So many questions and situations to make you consider what humanity and our social constructs really consists of.

What I learned:
It made me question many things that I take for granted. That is a first rate education.

A favorite passage:
Now there is no music other than that of works, and these, especially those in books, are discreet, and even if curiosity should bring someone from the building to listen at the door, they would hear only a solitary murmur, that long thread of sound that can last into infinity, because the books of this world, all together, are, as they say the universe is, infinite.



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The Light Between Oceans

2013/01/15


The Light Between OceansThe Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The biggest reason I think this is a great book is that I'm still troubled by the resolution of it several days after I've finished. Just can't make out what way I wanted it to go. The writing was great too, just all around wonderful read.

What I loved:
The premise is really a puzzler. There is no one good solution to the conflict presented and I think that makes for some great discussion.

What I learned:
The descriptions of the Australian coast were lovely. But that ultimately is secondary to thinking about the human conflicts and struggles in the book.


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My Favorite Albums of 2012

2013/01/13

I struggled over winter break to wrap my head around my 2012 playlist and craft a carefully curated favorite album list for the year. But alas, it is just not going to happen. Too much music and too little time to digest it all. I used to be a lot more methodical about how I approached music and the judging thereof, but now I just add things I'm interested to my yearly playlist and then delete it when I start to get sick of it. I still scour the new releases each Tuesday for fresh albums, but I'm don't have much time to test out new bands so I end up sticking to things I know or recommendations of people I trust. I had a really great time last year searching for new music and miss that a lot, but I guess there is a season for everything.

I'm not quite ready to let my little tradition die all together so I'll give you the more gut checked, in the moment version of my favorite 2012 albums. Not quite as solid and vetted, but at least a record of this one moment in time. In no particular order:


Heartless Bastards, Arrow
This is probably my favorite album of the year. Lucky for me it came out early enough that I've had lots of time to let it sink in; I was not immediately drawn to it. But it gets better with every listen. Her voice is just yummy.

Only for You


First Aid Kit, The Lion's Roar
Fantastic songs. Sublime harmonies. The songs never get old to me. They definitely have an ethereal, moody vibe and I'll be interested to see how it stands the test of time. But for me, right now, it hits the spot.

Emmylou


Hospitality, Hospitality
I stayed up to a ridiculous hour to see them live at a small venue here in town. Totally worth it. Just charming.

Friends of Friends


Sharon Van Etten, Tramp
Moody, a little dark, a little curious. Just like I like it.

Magic Chords (warning, strange naked bodies)


Lost in the Trees, A Church that Fits Our Needs
This is a crazy beautiful, breathtakingly personal record.

Red


The Avett Brothers, The Carpenter
I saw them live for the first time this summer and I adore them even more. Truly amazing musicians and showmen too. Their brotherly harmony is delicious.

Live and Die


Alabama Shakes, Boys and Girls
This is one of those albums that I think is great, but perhaps I'm not really a "fan". Until I keep listening and realize that I love every song. I am a fan.

I Ain't The Same


Metric, Synthetica
Just in case you thought all my albums were brooding and melancholy this year - Metric knows how to rock. Well, until you listen to the lyrics and realize that they're brooding and melancholy. But sounds great with the volume loud.

Breathing Underwater



Divine Fits, A Thing Called Divine Fits
Spoon is my favorite band so you know when front man Britt Daniels has a side project I'm going to pay attention. I'm not going to lie, this was not an immediate hit with me. But it's all there now. Fo' sho'

Would that Not be Nice


The Shins, Port of Morrow
If I had to list my relationships with the Shins on Facebook, I would put "it's complicated". I love, love, love their earlier albums so much that it's hard to judge fresh work fairly. Do I like mediocre songs because I'm in love with James Mercer? Or am I too hard on them because they've changed as they've matured and it can never possibly feel fresh again? Who knows. They still deserve a spot in my favorites.

The Rifle's Spiral


David Ramirez, Apologies
A local artist I discovered this fall, his song writing is amazing. I saw him twice and they were both fabulous shows.

Stick Around


Joe Pug, The Great Despiser
More fabulous song writing. The kind that can break your heart.

One of Many


Anais Mitchell, Young Man in America
This is another one of those albums that I'm surprised to like. But every time I come back to it I am amazed by her songs. Amazed by her performances.

Coming Down



So that's my list as of tonight. I know there are other albums on my playlist that will grow on me given time and I'm sad to slight them, but that's how it goes. I'll end with a shout-out to other 2012 albums that keep me grooving.

Kathleen Edwards, Voyager :: Nada Surf, The Stars are Indifferent to Astronomy :: Ben Kweller, Go Fly a Kite :: Foxy Shazaam, Church of Rock and Roll :: Plants and Animals, The End of That :: Mark Lannegan Band, Blues Funeral :: Chuck Prophet, Temple Beautiful :: Yellow Ostrich, Strange Land :: M. Ward, A Wasteland Companion :: Jack White, Blunderbuss :: Sarah Jaffe, The Body Wins :: Best Coast, The Only Place :: The Tallest Man on Earth, There's No Leaving Now :: Grace Potter, The Lion The Beast The Beat :: Fiona Apple, The Idler Wheel :: Jesca Hoop, The House that Jack Built :: Cat Power, Sun :: The XX, Coexist :: Two Door Cinema Club, Beacon :: Mumford and Sons, Babel :: Band of Skulls, Sweet Sour :: The Eastern Sea, Plague :: The Lumineers, The Lumineers

2012 Books


I read (only) 27 books in 2012. I'm going to go ahead and feel sad for myself even though I realize that is not a paltry number. Of course, because I am a data girl at heart, I have a lovely bar chart to illustrate my point. It is telling to recognize that 2008 is the only other year that compares in stress to 2012 as that was the year I was acting director of my department at GCC, killing myself to sell a house in Phoenix, and moved to Austin. (2012 still wins on the stress front hands down.)


I read some lovely books in 2012, my five star titles were:

Birthday

Happy birthday to my sissy!

Orient

2013/01/08

You are turning me
like someone turning a globe in her hand,
and yes, I have another side
like a China no one,
not even me, has ever seen.
So describe to me what’s there,
say what you are looking at
and I will close my eyes
so I can see it too,
the oxcarts and all the lively flags.
I love the sound of your voice
like a little saxophone
telling me what I could never know
unless I dug a hole all the way down
through the core of myself.
- Billy Collins

Disgrace

2013/01/03


DisgraceDisgrace by J.M. Coetzee
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I'm struggling with my feelings over this book. In some ways I found it completely thought provoking and meaty. And in other ways the protagonist was just plain awful. But even though there are some ideas and moments in the book that are uncomfortable, I have to recognize that as one of the things I love most about books.

What I loved:
The title plays its way through the book as a theme in many ways. The author made me question a lot of aspects of morality and did it subtly enough that I think I'll need to reread the book at a later point. The story is well written and paced very well.

What I learned:
I'm not sure. The protagonist's attitudes toward morality are not necessarily ones I want to adopt, but at least it offered perspective. The pragmatism/resignation/ease of his daughter is fascinating.

A favorite passage. There were quite a few beautiful passages that were a little too contextual to quote here, but I do love this one:
He continues to teach because it provides him with a livelihood; also because it teaches him humility, brings it home to him who he is the world. The irony does not escape him; that the one who comes to teach learns the keenest of lessons, while those who come to learn learn nothing.



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Beauty

A fun afternoon at the Blanton Art Museum. I love hanging out with my crazy, beautiful girls.