What I’m Loving Lately VI

books, daily life, food, music, pregnancy, reading

Contains Amazon affiliate links. 

It has been awhile since I have written one of these — not since January. I woke up around three this morning, not feeling well. I fell back asleep at five, but for the most part feel kind of groggy today. This is 38 weeks of pregnancy! Very glamorous.

Watching : Like nearly everyone else on this planet, I finished watching the final season of Game of Thrones the other day. That said, I’m not sure I can include it in things that I love. I liked the endings for everyone, but I thought it needed more time, more development to get to those endings. I’ve also been watching Chernobyl on HBO and it is terrifying and excellent. I feel so stressed out when I watch it, but it is so well-done I cannot stop watching. Bruno says there is a podcast that goes with it, but I have not listened yet. Other than that — I’ve been trying to watch how much television we watch. I’m tired of feeling like my evenings go to scanning through netflix, hbo, prime to find something to watch before bed. I’m not anti-tv. I love it, but I like to be a little bit more deliberative about what I’m watching.

Listening : My big post-dissertation gift to myself was a turn table. We bought an Audio-Technica. After it arrived, we went to our local record store and I bought Houses of the Holy by Led Zeppelin. For awhile it has been our only record, so I think baby will be a big Led Zeppelin fan. This last month, however, we bought Greta Van Fleet’s From the Fires, so we are expanding. I have no idea what I am doing when it comes to starting and maintaining a record collection, so I feel like such a newb. I will say this: there is a great pleasure to listening to something on analog. I like having to get up and turn the record to the other side. Plus, with headphones on all the time, Bruno and I do not get to share the music we are listening to, it seems much more communal now. I like that.

Reading : Plenty. I’ll share my May reads later, but I’m also trying to make it through some books in preparation for teaching in the fall. I am reading Paul Johnson’s A History of the American People. I did read a new history textbook the other week. I won’t share the name, because I’m not quite sure it is out yet, but I did not particularly care for it. I’ve been reading Introduction to the Devout Life by Francis de Sales in the morning and I love it. And of course — I’m still making my way through re-reading Harry Potter. I’m finally on Half-Blood Prince, so we’ll see if I get through all seven before baby arrives.

Eating : Probably too much. We bought Cook Once, Eat All Week to see if it would help save time and money. I think initially it cost quite a bit — all those different oils, spices, you know. But I think it will end up paying for itself. I spend all Sunday afternoon getting the components of the meals together and I love that it is step-by-step and I don’t have to think about it too much. We’ve been following it for three weeks and have been pretty happy about it. We had some bbq meatloafs with carrot fries which were delicious. Other than that — I am loving ice cream, lots and lots of ice cream.

What are you loving lately?

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What I’m Loving Lately V

books, daily life, dissertation, food, music

Before I even get started, I should say that what I am loving lately the most is heat and our furnace. I am loving modernity and the industrial revolution, because I feel like I am living in a Jack London novel. I am loving that I have a flexible schedule that allows for me to stay home all day if I want to. Being a graduate student is (sometimes) the best. With wind chill in the -40s in Michigan today (although strangely it will be 48 degrees on Sunday), I am very much loving that I am inside.

Watching: Like everyone else this past week, I watched the Fyre documentaries on Netflix and Hulu. You know you are a total nerd when, you go to Krogers and make lame jokes with your husband about “late stage capitalism” the entire time you picking out what you are about to binge on (peanut butter m and m’s and yogurt covered pretzels for me, Twizzlers for Bruno), probably scaring the other consumers. Ok, back to the documentaries. I recommend and I’ll admit not for the most virtuous of reasons. I definitely have a sort of #richpeopleproblems attitude to the whole debacle. There was one “influencer” who was not even shown for longer than two minutes (in both documentaries) who made me rage (“low, low economy”). I will say though it made me question whether I was part of the problem due to my (probably excessive) use of Instagram, so I pre-ordered Cal Newport’s Digital Minimalism to try to temper my social media-addict ways. Sidenote: the Fyre Festival memes on ultrarunningmemes are gold.

Listening: I am really liking Weezer’s Teal Album. I did not initially love their cover of Toto’s Africa, but it grew on me and I was pleasantly surprised with all the other covers on the album. A few favorites: Everybody Wants to Rule the World, Sweet Dreams are Made of These, and Paranoid. Weezer covering Black Sabbath may be one of the most fun songs I’ve heard in awhile. I went through a Weezer phase in high school (this is a thing, right?) and listened to plenty of the Blue Album and Pinkerton (just like this SNL sketch), but then never really listened to them again. So, it has been fun to listen to those albums again.

Reading: Confession? Not much. I’m reading True Devotion to Mary as a part of this reading challenge, but most of my reading has been Jean-Jacques Rousseau and dissertation-related as I begin to prepare for my defense next month. So yeah, strangely nothing too exciting here unless you are into the sources of inequality and the great swindle that led to political society.

Eating: I have been having bad cravings again. I made these blondies yesterday to satiate my sugar tooth and they were amazing. But mostly, it has been nothing too exciting — lots of soups made from my favorite cookbook. I switched up my flour from white to whole wheat for my sour dough bread and it was just ok — why does the bad stuff always taste better? I did start making my own yogurt and I will admit, it tastes much better than what you can get in the store.

I hope you all are staying warm! What are you loving lately?

 

 

 

What I’m Loving Lately IV

books, daily life, food, music, reading

Tomorrow we begin our annual holiday tour. We leave Michigan for Ohio and then will leave Ohio for Connecticut on Sunday. So today I’m finishing up grading, packing, cleaning — all that fun stuff, because after tomorrow it will probably be two weeks before we are home again. I dislike being gone for so long, but it is the best way to get seeing everyone in.

So it is a bit of a full day, but I figured I would share something I’m loving lately.

Watching: It is an old show, but we’ve been watching a lot of Pushing Daisies lately. I like the whimsical fairy tale-mystery-crime of the week vibe. Plus, the lines are so good. We’ve mainly been sticking to comedy shows, because I have not been able to tolerate anything too serious — just stress, you know? Anyway, tis the season for Christmas movies and I had a few firsts. One — I finally watched It’s a Wonderful Life and cried my eyes out at the end. I was so afraid it would not be as good as everyone said it was and it really is that great. Two — I watched Die Hard. Not as good at IAWL, but good in its own way. I’m not usually one for action films, but I liked this one. And finally, we watched the Christmas Chronicles on Netflix and thought it was hilarious. Kurt Russell should always play Santa Claus.

Listening: When I was not running in September and October, I kind of took a break from podcasts. Now, I’m back to them, catching up on Ultrarunner Podcast, Work, Play, Love, and Rich Roll‘s podcast. It feels good to have these voices back in my ears while going for runs. I find that I miss everyone when it has been awhile. I’m kind of in a music rut. I want something new that does not sound new — if that makes any sense. Like, I want to discover an old album or song that I have not listened to in years.

Reading: I’m reading Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. Every year between Thanksgiving and New Year I re-read the whole series. It has been pretty slow-going this year, but I’m sure it will pick up once we get to Connecticut. I tell you what, I still have the same reactions to those books as I did when I was a teen. I cannot put them down. I will sit on the couch all day to get through one of those tomes. I’m still trying to finish the Master and the Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov and reading Atomic Habits by James Cleary.

Eating: Well, you can see some of what I’ve been eating lately here. I’ve been trying to add more snacks to my daily routine (frankly, it is not working. I’m still hungry). I’ve forgotten how good something simple like hard boiled eggs sprinkled with salt can taste, like amazingly good. Another frequent staple is Montgomery Inn BBQ sauce (I’m addicted). I made this crockpot baked ziti on Sunday and it is so good and easy and has so much potential (like I would add a ton of veggies to it).

What are you loving lately?

xo, Ali

On Madonna’s 60th Birthday

music

madonna

I grew up on VH1 Behind the Music. My favorite and most-watched episode was the one on Madonna. Then I watched her Driven episode and Madonna Rising. I wanted to know as much about her as I could. I was around eight, maybe a little older. She was in her Ray of Light – Kabbalah – earthy-self phase. At the time, I wanted to be her. I would practice singing “Ray of Light” to whoever would graciously listen (ears suffering).  Later, I would declare that whatever I ended up doing, I wanted to be the Madonna of it.

I had a very specific idea of what that meant: It meant hard work and no apologies for who you were. I’ve certainly failed both of these standards. I’m sure Madonna does not even reach the “Madonna Standards” all the time (“absolutely no regrets”? — I doubt it). Even at eight years old, it was never the glamorous lifestyle or fame that I wanted. I remember watching that interview of her, when she first began, on Dick Clark’s American Bandstand. He asked her what she wanted. Her well-known response: “I want to rule the world.” It was her grit — although, I’m sure I would not have put in those words at the time. Many people I know would not call Madonna a roll model, but she was my first.

I’m not sure I would consider myself a Madonna-fan anymore. After Hard Candy, I quit listening. While I like Madonna’s more self-aware songs, Bitch, I’m Madonna is dreck. I think Camille Paglia has it right. I cannot relate to want-to-be-hip-and-young-Madonna. This is not because I’m old. I’m not at all. I’m 28, only a few years older than Madonna than when she came out with her first album. But I do think I’m more conscious of aging than I was ten years ago. I’m sentimental for the first Madonna I came to love. That was a woman I could grow into: deep, introspective, self-aware, thoughtful, and in a way, literary. Current Madonna is not someone I ever think I could age into. Or, would ever want to.

Still, I’ve been listening to Madonna all day in honor of the woman who showed me what hard work could make possible, who taught me “long stem roses are the way to your heart, but he needs to start with your head,” and that success may not be the be all end all. These are the true blue Madonna songs that I can listen to over and over.

  1. Bedtime Story.
  2. Ray of Light.
  3. Jump.
  4. Human Nature.
  5. Vogue.
  6. Express Yourself.
  7. Frozen.
  8. The Power of Good-bye.
  9. Hung Up.
  10. Drowned World/Substitute for Love.

xo, Ali

 

 

What I’m Loving Lately II

books, daily life, food, music

After what felt like a long hiatus, this week I have been hitting the dissertation hard. I have been waking up at four in the morning, so that I can start writing close to five to try to get anywhere between one and half hours (if I run in the morning) to three hours (if I don’t) of writing in before I get ready to go to work in the archives for the day. Evenings are spent reading and taking notes. I’m hoping to turn chapter four in by Monday, which also happens to be the day after my one year anniversary. We’ll see.

It has not been all work, excuse me, I mean leisure. Aside for Rousseau, there are a few things that have piqued my interest.

Watching : I haven’t really watched much tv lately, but Sunday night Bruno and I watched the first two episodes of A Very English Scandal on Amazon prime. We haven’t yet been able to watch the third and final episode, but it is well done.

Listening : My current writing music is Pixies DoolittleGouge Away might be the perfect editing song. While at work, I’ve been listening to Bad Blood : Secrets and Lies of a Silicon Valley Start-Up by John Carreyrou on audible. Holy shit. I am obsessed. I am trying to avoid going down an Elizabeth Holmes and Theranos google rabbit hole. I am only a couple hours into it, but I’m already sure it will be a five star book. Also, it is the reason why this song (not Taylor Swift!) has been in my head all day.

Reading : I’m still making may way through the Odyssey. I’m almost done. I started reading Sarah Perry’s The Essex Serpent. As Bruno bluntly put it when he opened the book and started read a few pages, “Sarah Perry can write.” I have two history books I am working through. The first is Daniel Walker Howe’s tome What Hath God Wrought : The Transformation of America, 1815-1848 and the second, Jon Meacham’s American Lion : Andrew Jackson in the White House. I’m loving the first a little more than the second. For whatever reason, I find Meacham biography kind of tedious, although it is interesting to compare Meacham and Howe on Jackson. I was hoping for more on his political thought, particularly on nullification, and less on scandals involving “wanton” women. I’m half-way through Howe’s book and I love every page, even during the long discussions of internal improvements and the bank.

Eating : Chocolate Vega powder and cherry smoothies. I do not like fruit. I do not like cherries. But for whatever reason, when they are mixed with some protein powder, almond milk, and some ice, magic happens. Also, I restarted my sour dough bread starter this week (is it weird to name your sour dough starter? mine is named Sebastian), so definitely looking forward to eating some of that.

What are you loving lately?

xo, Ali

 

 

Gonna Take Some To Do The Things We Never Had, or Why the Music Video for Toto’s Africa Exemplifies Life in Graduate School

books, daily life, graduate school, music
IMG_4754

This post brought you by the greatest song in the world: Toto’s Africa

And now for something completely unserious.

Toto’s Africa has experienced a renaissance. From its use in Stranger Things (don’t do it, Nance!), ubiquitous club hit, to being the internet’s favorite song, it is going to take a lot to drag us away from Africa.

But what much of the commentary has failed to recognize is the deep similarities the music video has with life in graduate school. As far as I know, none of the members of Toto have ever attended graduate school, but alas, I think the music video certainly characterizes the several years some of spend between undergrad and (hopefully) getting a real job.

Before you begin, watch the video here. Watch it twice, because of its greatness.

  1. The amount of time spent in a library. This one is probably the most obvious. I know my college library now more than I ever did as an undergrad. The only difference here is that where the library in the music video is themed “African safari,” the one for mine is themed “America.”
  2. Constantly looking through books for information. I just need that one quote…now where was it? Looking, looking, looking…oh, maybe it was a different scholar who said that. Like the lead dude in the video, if you are in graduate school, you are constantly trying to put the pieces together. That means a lot of book scanning.
  3. Looking for books. How much time do graduate students spend looking for books in the library? How much time do I spent looking for books in the library? An inordinate amount, most likely. Not included are the times when you are just distracted by books on shelves unrelated to research topic. I cannot be the only graduate student who falls into the shelf abyss.
  4. That feeling of being hunted. Is it fear of failure? Imposter syndrome? Or is it chasing time? Deadlines? Too much to do in too little time? I’m not sure I know what causes all the books and bookshelves to fall over in the music video, but I think I understand it.
  5. What does it all mean? After watching Africa’s music video, one might be left thinking, “Huh? What just happened?” One of the google results that pop up when you begin searching Toto Africa is “what does it mean?” The same question can come up on particularly tough days of graduate school or even certain difficult texts (I’m looking at you, G.W.F. Hegel!).

And there you have it. Five reasons why the music video for Africa by Toto is like graduate school. Am I Buzzfeed-worthy yet?

xo, Ali

Throwback Thursday Tunes : The Dissertation Process Edition

dissertation, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, music, throw-back thursday tunes

ledzeppelin

Keeping with my theme yesterday, I was thinking about the songs that get me through the different parts of dissertation writing. I am not one of those people who can write without music. I need to tune out the other world and drop into dissertation-land if anything is going to get typed out or edited. Usually this is Bob Dylan or the Velvet Underground. Television’s Marquee Moon and Patti Smith’s Horses have been on repeat lately. Other times I’ll just see what Spotify has in store for me. The first 60 seconds of the Avett Brothers’ Talk on Indolence describes the dissertating experience better than any song I’ve ever heard. It captures that frantic writing that comes with the first draft. If I am really trying to concentrate I’ll put on Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 6 “Pathetique” (my absolute favorite) and just listen to it over and over again.

Here I Go Again, beginning with the nerve-wrecking and hopeful beginnings. You happily take the plunge Into The Great Wide Open.

And then the hurdles come. When you feel like you just Couldn’t Get It Right and you just can’t see the light. You want to take a Mudshovel to your chapter. You tell Jean-Jacques Rousseau, “Babe, I’m Gonna Leave You.” Just me? Ok, then.

But you Carry On.

And eventually you start Beginning to See the Light. The argument makes sense (hopefully). You start to make sure every Oxford Comma has its place.

And then. Finally. The Beautiful Day. You turn the chapter in. And all you have to do is another round or two of edits until it is approved and soon enough, you’ll be Grazing in the Grass. Baby, can you dig it?

You can find the whole Dissertation Edition playlist here.

xo, Ali

P.S. The playlist is 1 hour and 30 minutes, the same amount of time I use as dissertation writing blocks.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Throw-back Thursday Tunes : February 15, 2018

music, throw-back thursday tunes

the-mamas-and-the-papas-monday-monday-stateside-dunhill-s

Do you have a favorite day of the week? I am a big fan of Monday’s and Saturday’s. I like the beginning freshness of the first and then the guiltless finality of the second. On Monday’s it is a new start. My motivation is high and the possibilities are there. But as the Mama’s and the Papa’s say Monday morning couldn’t guarantee by Monday evening that motivation would still be here with me. Ok, I did took some artistic liberties with the song, but you really can’t trust that day.

And for whatever reason, no matter how little or how much I got done during the week, Saturday is the day I can relax. I am usually exhausted from my run. I do not feel bad about that cheeseburger. Or that ice cream I have afterwards. Whatever is left to be done, well, that can always happen on Sunday.

I was listening to Tuesday Afternoon by the Moody Blues the other day, thus the inspiration for this playlist — the days of the of the week list. Not included: Manic Monday by the Bangles and Last Friday Night by Katy Perry. Nope. Hardest day of the week to find a song for: Thursday. I normally like David Bowie, but I could not even get through his song Thursday’s Child.

What is included? A little bit of the Rolling Stones, another visit from Simon & Garfunkel, a little bit of business time, and a little bit of a Louisiana Saturday Night.

I hope you enjoy!

Click here for the RSJ Throw-Back Thursday Tunes 8 Days a Week Edition!

 

 

 

Throw-Back Thursday Tunes : February 8, 2018

books, music
c73c49a652a6e6ce762bf70e4b884725

13th Floor Elevators

 

Confession: I’m a total ’60s music-lover. But I have zero music history knowledge. Even Bob Dylan, who is my favorite, I know basically nothing about. I just like listening to the music. The history does not interest me as much. We had a speaker come on campus to give a talk on ’60s music and while my heart swelled at every song he played, a lot of the history was unknown to me. And I thought, “I wish I knew more about that.”

Bruno bought me 1966: The Year the Decade Exploded by Jon Savage at Literati on Sunday as a birthday gift. I’m already in love, because not only am I learning some new favorites, but am actually learning about the history behind songs I have loved for years. I’m hoping that this will slowly develop into a moderate music buff-type knowledge.

But in the meantime, here are some throw-back tunes for this Thursday, heavily influenced by this book I’m reading. I love the dirty, grunge-y sound of the guitars in some of these songs, like The Groupies’ Primitive — a band and song I’ve never heard before and of course, I’ve loved 13th Floor Elevators’ You’re Gonna Miss Me for years. You can definitely hear the beginning of what would eventually become punk and later, even, grunge. I’m usually a total sucker for songs with attitude. I’m generally a happy person, but man I love some angry music.

On the not so angry side, having never listened to the original Paul Simon version of Sound of Silence, I have to admit it is so much better than the version I grew up with. It is both stark and haunting.

I’m about to express an unpopular opinion, at least among my conservative friends and acquaintances, thank God for the sixties.

Click here for the RSJ Throwback Thursday Tunes 1966 Edition.