In which I DGAF

This post contains swearing.  It’s behind the cut.

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Paradise puts me in charity with the world

We’re both living in our own paradises this year.  #1 has to go back in not so long from now.  #2 has no end date in sight.

But we’ve both noted that paradise seems to make us happier and more mellow.

Part of that I am sure is the weather.   It’s hard to be sad when the sun is shining and your toes are neither too hot nor too cold.  And #2’s Bad Place really did seem to be trying to kill her.  Like literally, with allergies and pneumonia and stuff.

And the food is always good.  And the libraries are awesome so there’s always something to read.  And there are lots of cool people around to socialize with if we want to socialize.  And nobody is talking about how awesome Donald Trump is.  It’s really easy to think that all is right with the world.

It’s not that bad stuff doesn’t happen.  Papers and grants still get rejected.  But that somehow doesn’t seem like such a big deal.*

#1 wishes there were a job for her in paradise.  But it isn’t like I was unhappy where we normally live.  It’s just so much easier to be happy here.  It’s like that nothing really matters feeling you get with middle age coming even faster.  It’s easier to focus on the important stuff– comes automatically instead of with effort.  I think we would live longer if we lived out here.

Does where you live affect how you view the world?  Are you happier living in different places?

*Personal tragedies are still just as tragic as they were when we were living elsewhere.  But the stuff that can be not sweated, well, why sweat?

Can toilet paper spark joy?

Pretty much everyone has heard of the Konmari book about minimalism and cleaning and only keeping things that “spark joy.”

Detractors often say that some utilitarian things are just not going to ever spark joy.  Now, we believe in small well-made tools to the extent that we’ve recommended people give tweezers and pencil sharpeners for Christmas.  These little luxuries really do spark joy for me whenever I have to sharpen a pencil or tweeze an errant hair or open a jar or what have you.

What, of course, makes them spark joy, is the memories of using pencil sharpeners that don’t sharpen right, or tweezers that take a lot of effort.  Or jar openers that take too much hand strength.  And on and on and on.

Often people will say, “Toilet paper will never spark joy.”  And I submit that those people did not grow up with crappy toilet paper.  One of my guilty pleasures in life is buying really nice quality toilet paper.  Toilet paper that doesn’t melt upon contact with water.  That doesn’t scratch.  That doesn’t take handfuls and handfuls per use.  (It’s a guilty pleasure because I know it’s not the best choice for the environment, but I buy it still!)

So… how to make sure even your mundane objects spark joy?

  1. Use crappy cheap versions of the object
  2. Find the best version of the object
  3. Use that instead
  4. (dispense with the crappy versions if you’re Konmari-ing)

Joy sparked!

Of course, if you haven’t suffered, you’ll never know the joy.  I suppose that if you do get rid of everything that doesn’t spark joy then you’ll have a lot of unsharpened pencils until you get a new sharpener, at which point, its eliminated absence will cause new joy to be sparked.  So…

Ah, the cirrrrrcle of hedonic adaptation.

Do mundane objects spark joy for you?  Which ones?

Library Haul

After talking with #2, I decided to reread My Antonia.  I’d forgotten about the racism (#2 has been having this problem with books she read as a child as well– how did I forget?).  Also, having grown up somewhere with hot summers, I completely don’t believe that whole “it’s hot but we didn’t really notice it, and summer is totally beautiful” bunk.  Heat stroke is real, and not fun.

Anno Dracula.  It was ok.  A little bit too proud of itself.  I wanted to know more about the 400-year-old female vampire.

The Lyttelton Hart-Davis Letters (vol. 1).  Just two English guys being nice to each other, gossiping, talking about books, and how much they like each other.  Soothing and cheerful.  A good read before bed.

The Gates of Sleep, one of Mercedes Lackey’s Elemental Masters series.  Turns out I had already read it and I just kept forgetting.  It’s the sleeping beauty retelling.  The heroine triumphs through her own internal fortitude, aided by love of her family and friends.  A good popcorn read with a happy ending.  Get it from the library.

The Anchoress by Robyn Cadwallader.  Took a chance on this one because it looked interesting.  (Was it worth it?)  Yes.

Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson.  Not just a description, a philosophy!  The Blogess deals with her mental illnesses by writing funny things.

#2 read um… some more Loretta Chase, which continues to be mixed.  She does recommend Last Night’s Scandal and so far she’s enjoying the Dressmakers series.  She found Balogh’s Simply Unforgettable to be irritating with one of those a single serious conversation would have  ended the book a lot earlier tropes.  So much dragging.  Also, the heroes’ persistence would be scary if he were the villain.  The other books in that series are great though.

Long-distance book and bonding club

My mother-in-law texted me that she loves me and misses me.  We both love to read, so she suggested that the two of us have a book club!  We could each read the same book and discuss it once a month.  I said that it would have to incorporate drinking wine, as that is a key feature of book club.  We agreed that we will both drink (possibly the same) wine while discussing.

We’re in different time zones, but we both have MLK day and Presidents’ Day off, so those will be our first two meetings.  Yay day-drinking for the two of us lightweights!  Well, it’s five o’clock somewhere, including possibly in one of our time zones.  Time is TBA.  The first book will be The Library at Mount Char.  She recently loved it and I’ve been wanting to read it, so we’ll discuss that in mid-January.  I’ve heard only great things about it.

I’ll update and let you know how it went!  She really is the sweetest.

 

What did we read over Thanksgiving?

Earlier I read A Darker Shade of Magic by V. S. Schwab.  I enjoyed it: YA fantasy about multiple Londons existing simultaneously.

I also liked Orbital Resonance by John Barnes:  teen nerds in space.

I’m loving the Cormoran Strike novels by Robert Galbraith (J. K. Rowling).  I can’t put them down and have stayed up way too late reading, also sometimes reading before work and almost being late.  Number two is The Silkworm.

Then we had a long weekend and I read a lot.

Mira Grant’s series about bloggers vs. zombies (Feed, Deadline, Blackout) are each around 600 pages in paperback.  I read the first two over Thanksgiving, along with some graphic novels.  I loved them, but they’re too violent for #2.  I still haven’t gotten to the third book in the series.

Lady Killer, continuing my trend of reading comics featuring strong women.

Lumberjanes #2, in which the girls earn their “Friendship to the Max!” badge.  Also dinosaurs.  You don’t need to have read the first volume to enjoy this one.

I really just love reading books very, very much.

#2 reread Seducing an Angel, not realizing she’d already read it even though she read the others in the series and was sure she hadn’t read the brother’s story yet when she most recently read the cousin’s story (in fairness I read the paperback ages ago not realizing/not caring it was part of a series and it looks nothing like the hardback).  It is sometimes fun to read books out of order and then you get a completely different feeling for them reading again them in chronological order when you know all of the characters.

Also, if you want a free kindle book, #2 enjoyed Daisy’s Aunt.  Yes, the plot is ridiculous (“Victorian melodrama”-lite), and if you’re looking for Mapp and Lucia you’re not going to find those levels of mean-spiritedness (even the villain is treated benevolently by the author), but E.F. Benson’s biting sense of humor definitely shows itself here and there, particularly in descriptions of the country estate.  And some of the main character’s dialogue, and some of the ridiculous minor characters.  Light and fun with little bits of devilish writing that make you take a second look and highlight with a little smirk.

What do you love doing very, very much?  Alternately, how do you approach series?

In which we read some more

What are we reading these days?

Heresy by S. J. Parris.  First in a series of historical mysteries starring (the later-burned-as-a-heretic) Giordano Bruno.

Paper Girls #1 by Brian K. Vaughan, Cliff Chiang, Matt Wilson, & Jared K. Fletcher.  You know how paper boys deliver the morning paper on their bikes?  Some of them are girls.  And some of those girls have seen some weird, creepy, unnatural stuff around their town.  Number two is out now!

Exquisite Corpse by Penelope Bagieu (incredibly excellent ending!).  Highly recommend, yes.

First Second Press (:01) is really killing it with their publications these days, I tell you what.  I also have The Undertaking of Lily Chen out from the library.  Unfortunately I ended up not liking any of the main characters very much.

What’s #2 reading?

Raising Steam by Terry Pratchett.  This one doesn’t flow as well as the general Discworld– it feels like it’s missing a final editing, which it most likely did.  Things that would, in previous volumes, be more subtle are a bit more heavy-handed and overt.  Things that would previously have been more streamlined stand out as clever short vignettes.  But I still like it very much.  The messages are good.  The commentary important.  And, importantly, I feel like it is a fitting ending for our relationship with Ankh-Morpork, as we usher it on into the next long-century saying our final good-byes to favorite characters.  Ankh-Morpork will move forward into the future, even if we are no longer watching.  If the last Tiffany Aching is as good, then I will be happy.

So we’ve got this Loretta Chase thing going, but we can’t really fully recommend her.  Like… Lord of Scoundrels was a little problematic but a huge page turner.  Mr. Impossible was entertaining and had a great pair of main characters… but… the author used every vaguely racist Empire Cliche when dealing with the people of Egypt; it’s painful to even think about listing them.  Knaves’ Wager was a disappointment– a hodgepodge of other romance novels and characters and tropes but still managing to be dull.  She relied on the tropes too much to fill in the romance without actually showing things (like the hero says, “you’re too X to be trapped in this kind of marriage” but nowhere in the book up to this point has she shown herself to be X to the hero, not once)– it was pretty weak tea and I wish I hadn’t succumbed to the $2.99 kindle fee.  Most of the rest of her work seems to rely on the hero not taking no for an answer.  Which the heroine is secretly fine with when he is rich and titled.  The only difference between the hero and the villain in one of her books is that the villain is bad with money!

Lame.

Two more quick ones from #1:  I finished Secondhand Souls from Christopher Moore.  You probably need to read the first book before you read it.  And I’m in the middle of The Scorpion Rules by Erin Bow, which so far is excellent.  The very best part is the official Utterances from the AI.

Read, Grumpeteers, read!  What do you have on tap?