Friday, September 12, 2008

What I have done with my days off

Continued to indulge my library addiction: I am now a member of both the Queens and the NY Public library systems. The list of recently completed books has included

  • Alias Grace (good but slowly paced; historical-type fiction in an epistolary and vacillating first-person narrative form) and Oryx and Crake (very good futuristic/dystopia fiction; similar to the idea of what would happen were Brave New World to fall apart and then crash into Lord of the Flies) by Margaret Atwood
  • The Notebook by Nicholas Sparks (terrible, unless you are interested in a dressed-up Harlequin romance novel; Sparks didn’t even bother to research his audience and wrote the sex scene with the woman acting out his own “take me now” fantasies)
  • Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen (a fun but substantial pop fiction read; well researched and therefore convincing look at circus drama)
  • Girl Meets God by Laurn Winer (thought-provoking memoir; introspective look at how to reconcile Judaic beliefs and habits with Christian faith)
  • Middlesex by Jeffery Eugenides (cross-generational style fiction; tells the stories of family members leading up to the birth of the narrator, a transgender man)
  • A Long Way Gone by Ishmael Beah (strikingly simple prose; a memoir about a boy-soldier in Sierra Leone)

Tried out the NY bus system. I have a monthly unlimited pass, so I scouted routes between hospitals and libraries one day, when I was doing health insurance research. Personally, I prefer walking if the distance is under 20 blocks. It makes me feel in control of my own transportation and as if I am accomplishing something with my time rather than sitting in pointlessly congested traffic. However, there are advantages, as I took the M60 all the way from Harlem to the LaGuardia airport, and I never could have walked that.

Found grocery stores. When visitors come, I may not know where to take them out to eat, but I will certainly know where to buy anything they might like to cook for dinner!

Played volleyball with a group of Russians. I went to Coney Island last Sunday, for my last “summer hurrah,” and when I first arrived, I saw a group of volleyball players setting up a net. The sports addict in me was ravenous to play, but I felt uncomfortable approaching them, as they were already playing 4-on-4 and I would have made their numbers uneven. I went and sat on the beach for a couple hours, reading and swimming alternately, and when I finally decided to leave, I paused again on my way out. Now there were 3 different nets set up and a variety of people milling about. I stood watching a game for several minutes until one man came up to me and asked, in a very thick accent, me whether I had a team. Laughingly, I replied that I didn’t, and then his partner came up and said, “You do now!” Then I guess he rethought his invitation, because he remembered to ask, “Do you play?” And so I spent the next two hours playing pick-up volleyball games with what turned out to be the Russian volleyball community. I had no idea what they were saying, most of the time, but luckily, if you know how to play a sport, that’s all the language you need.

Bought a basil plant. I really hope I can keep this one alive. I am paranoid already that its leaves are turning white, like the ones on the basil I was plant-sitting for my cousin did, but I’m crossing my fingers, looking up every single piece of advice on herb gardening available, and murmuring encouraging words to it at bedtime!


rome said...

that's the reason i walk everywhere as well...maybe...i think.

chinadollaileen said...

I tots feel the same way about The Notebook (as in the book, not the movie). I was so unsatisfied when I finished.