ASK Musings

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Author Archive

Friday

16

April 2021

0

COMMENTS

Knife Edge by Simon Mayo

Written by , Posted in Reviews

Four Stars

Best for:
People who like thrillers.

In a nutshell:
In one morning in London the entire seven member investigations team from a national news network is murdered, individually, at knife point. Who did it? And why?

Worth quoting:
N/A

Why I chose it:
Paperback sale.

Review:
Famie is a journalist at IPS in London, and she not too long ago had applied to be a member of the investigations team but lost out on the gig. Lucky for her, because that entire team is murdered on their commutes in to work one morning. Famie has connections to a few members as friends, but one is also a former boyfriend.

No one claims responsibility – so why were they killed? What were they working on? Two months before their murders, the entire team has stopped storing any work on their work computers.

To complicate things, someone is communicating with Famie. The reader learns who that person is, as we learn more about the motivations behind the murders. But we also learn that another attack is planned, so the book swirls around whether Famie and her colleagues can use their journalistic backgrounds to investigate the murders and potentially save more people from peril.

I read the first chapter before going to sleep on Tuesday and realized if I kept reading I’d never go to sleep. I only waiting two more days to finish it because I had plans on Wednesday. It’s that kind of entertaining that you don’t want to stop reading. This was a mostly thrilling read, with a mostly satisfying ending. It’s only not five stars because I’m still not entirely, 100% sure exactly what happened. But don’t let that put you off.

Keep it / Pass to a Friend / Donate it / Toss it:
Donate it

Tuesday

13

April 2021

0

COMMENTS

Dear Leader by Jang Jin-Sung

Written by , Posted in Reviews

Four Stars

Best for:
Those interested in learning more about the recent history of North Korea from an inside perspective, set against the suspense of someone seeking asylum.

In a nutshell:
Jang Jin-Sung rose high within the North Korean ruling class as a poet, but eventually fled the country.

Worth quoting:
A lot, but I listened while running so didn’t have a chance to take note.

Why I chose it:
I stumbled across Michael Palin’s show about his visit to North Korea (https://www.natgeotv.com/me/michael-palin-in-north-korea/videos/michael-palin-in-north-korea) and realized I know next to nothing about life in North Korea.

Review:
This is an interesting book.

The book opens with a description of Jang being summoned for an audience with Kim Jong-Il, and just that is enough to realize we are not operating in a realm of what we would consider normality. The phone call comes in the middle of the night with no information other than a place to meet by 1AM. Jang is then driven with others in circles before boarding a train at a private railway station, being instructed to sleep for the two hour ride, then boarding a boat to an island, where the meet with Kim’s … dog. And Kim as well.

From there, the description of North Korea grows. At times it matches the very little I know about North Korea – the hunger, the inability to choose one’s own career – but also it fascinates me. There was an entire department of people who were allowed to view South Korean popular culture (books, poems, newspapers) so they could take on the voice of a South Korean, write books and poems praising North Korea, then distributing it through illegal means within South Korea as a form of propaganda.

Jang is relatively lucky from a young age – he is accepted to a performing arts school for music, but eventually is tutored by a famous poet and wins an award from the leader that includes, essentially a favor. Jang asks that he be allowed to pursue a career in writing instead of the required musical performance / composing career that his education would insist. The leader decrees it, and so Jang becomes a writer. And a very successful one, considering that meeting with Kim Jong-Il described up top happened when he was in his late 20s.

Due to sharing some of the South Korea materials with a friend, and the friend then losing those materials, Jang and his friend decide to run. We know, given he is writing this book, that Jang is ultimately successful, but the how — and the uncertainty around his friend — remains. The experience Jang shares is utterly harrowing. In some ways, he is very lucky in the people he encounters, but others either ignore him outright or actively threaten him with a promise to report him to the authorities.

Interspersed within what could work solely as an escape book is a description of North Korea, including Kim Jong-Il’s taking power from his father, the extreme poverty and danger in the provinces; and the challenges of everyday life in North Korea. He shares one story of returning to visit his home after living in Pyongyang for many years and discovering it changed, including so many laws and rules that, if broken, result in a quick public ‘trial’ and immediate execution.

Obviously one cannot learn all about one country from just one memoir, but this one was engrossing, fascinating, and heartbreaking.

Keep it / Pass to a Friend / Donate it / Toss it:
Keep it (audiobook)

Sunday

11

April 2021

0

COMMENTS

The Better Liar by Tanen Jones

Written by , Posted in Reviews

Four Stars

Best for:
Those who like stories told from multiple perspectives; those who relish a good, feasible but not totally telescoped twist.

In a nutshell:
Leslie’s dad has died, and the only way she can get her inheritance is to show up with her sister at the executor’s office. But Leslie has just visited her sister for the first time in ten years, finding her dead. How can she get the inheritance? Perhaps with the help of Mary, a woman who is willing to play a role for a certain amount of money.

Worth quoting:
“But liars are always specific. People who are telling the truth don’t bother to try to convince you.”

Why I chose it:
Part of an Easter paperback sale at Foyles. Plus, I’m trying to read more fiction.

Review:
Hoo boy. While I read the first 20 pages yesterday, I basically spent all of today reading the final 280, because I wanted to know what was going to happen.

The book alternates between the perspectives of Leslie, Robin’s ghost (Leslie’s dead sister), and Mary, the waitress Leslie meets in Vegas after she sees her sister Robin’s body. Leslie is desperate for her $50,000 inheritance, and tells Mary it’s because she’s lost her job and going to lose her house. But Mary learns Leslie still has her job, house is fine. Leslie has a one-year-old baby, and her husband Dave might be cheating on her, so Mary become very curious about why Leslie lied to her, and what she is hiding.

This is a well-told story. There are some moments that slightly beggar belief, but they soon make sense in the broader context of the story. There are twists, there are cringe-worthy moments, and there are moment when the reader genuinely feels for Leslie while also perhaps judging her a bit for her choices.

I won’t spoil the book, but I think it’s important to share a broader content note around mental health issues; the author provides more exploration of the specific mental health issue addressed in the book at the end in a way I haven’t seen before, and appreciated.

Keep it / Pass to a Friend / Donate it / Toss it:
Pass to a friend.

Thursday

8

April 2021

0

COMMENTS

Sisters

Written by , Posted in Uncategorized

I think I realized I had a pretty cool sister when she gave me what is probably the best birthday gift ever:

A 2-liter bottle of Crystal Pepsi and a Steve Urkel puzzle.

I think I was turning 14, and I recall her handing me these gifts early in the morning. I believe she wrapped them together in the dust rag my mother kept on the vacuum.

Soda AND a puzzle? What did I do to deserve this?

***

About 80% of people in the US have a sibling, and those relationships can vary dramatically. Some siblings are so close in age that they grew up fighting constantly over everything, including friends. Some are so far apart in age that they are basically strangers to each other. Some have nothing in common, so while they are civil, they don’t, like, chat on the phone every week or two. I am four years younger than my sister, which means that I was just young enough to be annoying, but not so young that she had to, like, help raise me. I had my own friends, but I’m certain that if she had a friend over and I didn’t, I was probably bugging them.

It’s National Sibling Day on April 10th, and while having such a great sibling is something I’m sure I’ve repeatedly taken for granted, I know that having a sister — and having this sister, specifically — has improved my life in ways I’m continuing to discover.

My sister and I mostly got along when growing up, though there is evidence of the occasional fight. The biggest reminder is the broken bathroom doorknob at the vacation condo my parents own. We grew up super lucky, spending basically the whole of August at the lake, with friends visiting. We’d go to the beach or the pool most days, then spend what seemed like hours at the local video store picking out a movie to watch with the sitter who would come while my parents went out (that’s right, kiddos, we are old enough to remember VHS). My sister’s room had a door that led directly to our shared bathroom; I needed to enter from the hallway. One particularly nasty fight, I kept pushing to get in, she kept pushing me out, and boom. Doorknob broken. Whoops.

But those types of incidents were definitely not the norm, and that four year age difference proved to be kind of perfect, as we were never sharing friends or competing for the same … anything, really. My parents did everything to make sure we both felt treated equally. We both did sports, we both participated in the arts, and we even had the exact same value for our gifts at Christmas (my mom was adamant on that one – she didn’t want us to perceive any favoritism).

One area that could have been fraught is the fact that she is very tall and very thin; I am very tall and at times have been very much … less thin. That could have been a serious challenge growing up – I’ve heard of larger siblings being tormented by their thinner siblings. My sister has never said such a thing to me. She’s never looked at me eating dessert, or having other sweets and said ‘hey, maybe put that down.’ She’s listened when I’ve complained about gaining weight, but she’s never made me feel like I am more or less worthy of anything based on the number on the scale.

Her leaving for college just as I started high school was a bummer in some ways, but perfect in others, as during my brattiest years, I was essentially an only child, and didn’t take it out on her. As I got older, I could go visit her at her university – I remember one weekend where we went to see L.A. Story and halfway through she asked if there was more than one white guy in the movie. There were three, actually, but in fairness, they were pretty much visually interchangeable. Ugh, that was a boring movie.

When I got to university, she was living in LA, and then took a year-long trip to Australia. That was the hardest, because international texting wasn’t a thing then (shoot, I don’t even know if domestic texting was a thing). We had email, but it’s not like she kept a laptop with her, or had free wifi or a smart phone. I’d hope to get a call from her on a prepaid calling card on occasion, but it sucked, her being so far away without an easy way to communicate.

Since then, however, and until the pandemic, that was about the longest we went without seeing each other. I visited her when she was living in Los Angeles, and then made multiple trips when she was in Texas and then Florida. I’d often try to visit over my birthday, as it was usually close to a three-day weekend. One visit we had what I still consider to be the best restaurant dinner I’ve ever had (the perfect pork chop with this ridiculous potato dish), followed by a Jason Mraz concert. My sister is thoughtful like that — years earlier, when my family visited her in D.C., she figured out it coincided with No Doubt performing not that far out of town, so she got us tickets. There was a lightning storm, they had us all crowd in the actual seating area under cover (we had lawn tickets), and then we just … never left the fancy area. Best concert.

She’s visited me in every apartment I’ve ever lived in (except two – one because we only lived there for five months and one because PANDEMIC), and I’ve visited her. We got cupcakes together at Magnolia bakery when she visited me in NYC. We rode the Staten Island Ferry and went to the strangest museum with a lot of stuffed birds.

I’ve stayed with her a few times in Boston, and she’s always made it such a great time – last time we went to tea at the public library, and it was just delightful.

We’ve also traveled together as adults, once to Berlin, and another time to Iceland with our partners. Both times were fun in different ways. For Berlin I think I did most of the planning, and also ended up with a wicked cold for most of the trip (but I powered through!).

She did basically 100% of the Iceland planning, and it was so much fun. I knew next to nothing, so it was nice to just sort of sit back and have someone else in charge, especially someone who would know what I would and would not be interested in doing.

Traveling together is fun, but we can also just sit and hang out and talk. We once spent like two hours watching YouTube videos of 80s and 90s TV theme songs, dying with laughter while my partner looked on, eventually retreating to another room because while our laughter is infectious to each other, it’s not necessarily contagious to others. I’m sure that’s annoying, as is our ability to beat literally anyone at Taboo.

 

As we get older, and our parents get older, our relationship has shifted a bit, because we have to think and talk more about unpleasant things. We’re lucky in that our parents are both still healthy (and fully vaccinated now, woo hoo!), but they live in the house we grew up in, and are getting older, so we know that things won’t stay the same forever. And while our parents are seriously really good parents, we all have things that bother us, right? I have a very understanding partner, but he didn’t grow up in my house, so he can’t fully know exactly what I mean when I speak about my folks. But my sister gets it completely.

Texting and WhatsApp calls have made living overseas a lot easier, in part because I can still dash a quick text off to my sister regardless of the time of day, and know I’ll hear back from her when she has free time. It’s also allowed me to do things like give her a video tour of our new apartment, and properly sing happy birthday.

Those of you who don’t have siblings have I’m sure had wonderful life experiences that I’ll never have — having the full attention of one’s parents, not having any internalized competition with another kid in your house, not having hand-me-downs — and many probably love being an only child. I think that’s great! But I’ve only ever known a life with a sibling, and I feel so lucky.

So this National Siblings Day, if you have as great a sibling as I do, be sure to let them know.

Monday

5

April 2021

0

COMMENTS

The End of Days by Jenny Erpenbeck

Written by , Posted in Reviews

Five Stars

Best for:
People interested in a deep look into just a few lives – their potential, their reality, their what-could-have-beens. People who like novels that aren’t conventional but aren’t totally out there.

In a nutshell:
Five generations of one family experience the 19th century, stopping and restarting along the way.

Worth quoting:
“She’d been able to remake her thinking from scratch, but not her family history.”

“Before striding off on a new path, must one not have acquired a profound understanding of what was wrong with the old one?”

“At many points during her life she had done something for the last time without knowing it. Did that mean that death was not a moment but a front, one that was as long as life?”

Why I chose it:
This was a birthday gift from my partner.

Review:
This review will contain some mild spoilers for the first part o the book.

The premise of this book is what a life might be like should certain events not have happened. I thought it might be a reset at birth each time, but no. The first section looks at the lives of the characters if the daughter (no one has names) dies around eight months. Everyone is destroyed in different ways – the father makes a decision that I find shocking and fascinated; the mother ends up completely shutting down.

In the intermission, we look at what would have happened if, when the baby wasn’t breathing, someone had done something to startle the baby back to life, and follows the family until the baby is a young woman. They all are experiencing pain due to WWI and famine, and there is now a second, younger daughter. The main daughter is traumatized and does not want to live, and, this story ends with her death at 19.

It goes on for there, with five total lives / continuations of life, following the great grandmother, grandmother, mother, daughter, and son. No one has names. No one has an easy life.

It’s an interesting idea, seeing how something going a little different might alter the course of one’s life but also the lives of everyone around one. It’s been done so many different ways, but this way feels … dark but also refreshing. It is a book that both feels totally originally and also extremely familiar.

Something that has struck me throughout the book is just the heaviness of everyone’s lives, and the fact that we don’t know what other people are going through. In this book, the grandmother of the daughter carries a secret with her that affects both her and her daughter. The daughter gathers her own secrets that impact her son. There is generational trauma, and things these family members experience that no one else in their family knows, let alone understands. There’s so much pain held inside. How many of the people we know well, or just encounter on a daily basis, are holding onto a pain we’ll never know about?

Keep it / Pass to a Friend / Donate it / Toss it:
Pass to a friend.

Sunday

4

April 2021

0

COMMENTS

Call the Midwife by Jennifer Worth

Written by , Posted in Reviews

Four Stars

Best for:
Fans of the TV show Call the Midwife; anyone interested in life in London in the 1950s.

In a nutshell:
Midwife Jennifer Worth recounts stories of her time working in the East End of London, soon after the creation of the National Health Service (NHS).

Worth quoting:
N/A (Audio Book)

Why I chose it:
I very much enjoy the TV show Call the Midwife, and have been eying the book in shops for a couple of years now. Finally decided it might be fun to listen to the stories.

Review:
First things first: this book is much more descriptive when it comes to births than the TV show. The show does, I think, a great job of showing how messy and challenging childbirth can be, but hearing all the aspects of it described? That might be a bit much for someone who hasn’t given birth. I have not given birth, but found the descriptions of the different situations to be fascinating.

Jennifer Worth is assigned to work at Nonnatus House, which is an order of nuns who focus on providing nursing and midwifery to the community. She shares her experiences of the East End of London, which includes living conditions that many of us would find nearly unbelievable and definitely shocking were we to encounter it as the norm today. Worth is honest in her reactions (and at times revulsions), and I think that helps the reader understand what life was like for some people. And while Worth is often judgmental when she encounters new situations, by the end of each story she seems to have recognized either where her judgment has been wrong, or at least come to have more understanding and compassion for people who are in a different life situation than she is.

As someone who enjoys the TV show, I couldn’t help but superimpose the actors who play these individuals onto them, which is a challenge when the description is fairly different from the character on TV (this is especially true for Fred). I had to remind myself a few times that the stories she’s sharing, which of course will have shifted due to the passage of time and the fallibility of human memory, are essentially about real people, and real lives, lived not so long ago.

Keep it / Pass to a Friend / Donate it / Toss it:
Keep it (Audio Book)

Tuesday

30

March 2021

0

COMMENTS

Shit, Actually by Lindy West

Written by , Posted in Reviews

Five Stars

Best for:
Anyone who watched blockbusters from the 80s-early 2000s and enjoys a fair bit of of honest snark.

In a nutshell:
Lindy West, who started as a film critic, revisits a bunch of films and comments on them.

Worth quoting:
ARG SO MUCH

From the Harry Potter review: “Even in the moment when his whole family is being terrorized by a giant, fatboy Dudley can’t stop himself from plunging his face directly into the cake and omph momph gromph skromph. As a fat woman, this moment of cultural representation moved me deeply.”

From the Forrest Gump review: “‘My momma always said life is like a box of chock-lits. You never know what you’re gonna get.’ I mean, you mostly know. They write it on the lid.”

From the Rush Hour review (a film directed by Brett Ratner) “Unfortunately, due to the indefatigable vileness of men throughout history, sexual exploitation and abuse of power have pervaded all of our art and media, and everything is tainted and fucked!”

Why I chose it:
It’s LINDY WEST. Also MOVIES.

Review:
I don’t believe this book has been officially published in the UK. When it first came out, the only place I could theoretically find it was on a website I’d rather not use. I eventually was able to get it from a different bookseller, but it took over a month for it to arrive.

Worth the wait.

I thoroughly enjoy West’s writing. Shrill is an excellent book, and The Witches Are Coming was a great follow-up. But I love that she got a chance with Shit, Actually to just sort of … have fun. Obviously she doesn’t turn off her brain when watching these films (as evidenced by that last quote above), but there’s a sense of joy coming from the writing even when she’s reviewing such steaming piles as American Pie.

The book starts out with a review of The Fugitive, which West proudly proclaims as the best movie ever, and the one by which all others are judged. In fact, her rating system is 10/10 DVDs of The Fugitive.

This book arrived yesterday. I spent the evening reading it, then finished it up today, because it was just so good. So fun. I laughed to the point of snorting multiple times. And yes, part of that is possibly because I, too, am a white lady who is about the same age as West, so we are going to have some cultural touchstones in common. I’d seen all but one film she reviews, but even that review had be cracking up.

Times are hard, and it’s fun to read something delightful like this.

Keep it / Pass to a Friend / Donate it / Toss it:
Keep it.

Monday

29

March 2021

0

COMMENTS

The Draining Lake by Arnaldur Indriðason

Written by , Posted in Reviews

Four Stars

Best for:
People who enjoy a good mystery.

In a nutshell:
A skeleton has been found in a drying lake bed. Might be suicide, except there’s Cold War-era Soviet equipment tied around the skeleton’s body.

Worth quoting:
N/A

Why I chose it:
I had bought a bunch of this author’s books all at once, and finally decided to pick up this last one.

Review:
These books are either growing on me a bit, or the story within this one was just a bit more interesting to me. Not sure, but I’m not complaining, because after reading the first hundred pages on Friday, I basically devoured the last 300 today.

The premise: a skeleton is found in a lake and associated with some Cold War era Soviet equipment. The person likely was killed in the late 60s / early 70s. So Detective Erlendur and his colleagues need to figure out if anyone who was reported missing around that time might be this victim.

At the same time, we are in the memories of an unnamed man who was a young member of the Icelandic Socialist Party, and who was invited to study in East Germany, Leipzig, during the 60s. He’s all in on the ideals of socialism, but his experiences are getting odd. Is someone spying on him and his friends?

I think what I most enjoyed about this book is that I both sort of knew what was coming but also was surprised by the ending. There are another 5-7 (unsure if all have been translated into English) in this series; I think I’ll likely get around to reading all of them in the next couple of years.

Keep it / Pass to a Friend / Donate it / Toss it:
Donate it.

Sunday

28

March 2021

0

COMMENTS

Fighting For Your Life by Lysa Walder

Written by , Posted in Reviews

Three Stars

Best for:
Anyone who likes sort of true-life medical stuffs.

In a nutshell:
London paramedic Walder shares stories from various Paramedic calls she’s experienced during her career.

Worth quoting:
The bit at the end with tips about calling 999, should probably be printed and distributed in every household in the UK.

Why I chose it:
I was looking for something not too involved that I could listen to on my longer runs. This came up in the audio book app I use, given some previous purchases.

Review:
This is a fairly short book (5 hours as an audio book) that is broken into different types of paramedic calls author Walder has experienced during her career. She doesn’t share lots of her personal life or her path to the field like previous similar books; instead after a fairly straightforward interview she just gets right into it.

I can see why she decided to write the book and why a publisher chose to print it – the stories are generally interesting, not too over the top or salacious, and give a wide perspective on what it is like to be a paramedic in London. We don’t learn a lot about the author herself, but that’s okay – not every book like this need to go deeper into the author’s life. I don’t think the book is that much the worse for it, though it would have been interesting to learn about what (if any) support is offered to paramedics after particularly traumatic experiences.

If this isn’t usually your type of book, I’m not going to say you should drop everything and pick it up, but if you find yourself enjoying medical memoirs, you’ll probably like this one.

Keep it / Pass to a Friend / Donate it / Toss it:
Audio book, so kind of have to keep it.

Saturday

27

March 2021

0

COMMENTS

I’m Anxious About Resuming ‘Normal’ Life

Written by , Posted in Random

For some of us, it’s been a year. A year of staying inside, ordering groceries for delivery, taking a walk every single day because that was the only legal excuse to leave the house

(I say some of us, because some states haven’t had many restrictions, some countries had intense restrictions and then returned life to almost normal, and some had a hybrid of lock down / fewer restrictions / lock down again. And of course, others who have died from COVID-19 don’t have the chance to worry about anything anymore.)

During this time, even people in countries with a lock down have still had to go to work. They’ve been around other people on public transit, in the office, out in the world. They have likely experienced more trauma than the rest of us (especially and obviously those who have been providing care to those sickened by COVID-19). They also, I would guess, will have an easier time easing back into the social aspects of society, because being around someone other than their roommate or immediate family members, or perhaps the person ringing them up in the grocery store, won’t be weird. They have been around coworkers for the past year.

So this is for the rest of us – the ones who, regardless of lock down status, have been following recommendations to not be indoors with people outside your household if possible, not going out to dinner, not visiting stores for non-essential items. Maybe we’ve been able to play some outdoor sports, or met up with a friend for a walk in the park. But we’ve not seen friends in a bar in at least a year, and we haven’t had to make small talk with the co-worker we don’t really know.

***

I am an introvert. I know a lot of people roll their eyes at the extrovert / introvert discussion, but the reality is that being attentive to or receiving attention from more than a handful of people is, to me, exhausting. I love my friends. I love getting together over dinner with one or two of them, having interesting conversations. I love going to the movies with them. But I can only do it in fairly small doses without being exhausted for awhile.

And work? Oh man, work has always been a challenge. Working from home this past year has been hard in many ways, but in others it’s been AMAZING. I’ve gotten about 30 minutes extra sleep at night while still getting my morning run in each day. I’ve saved money on the breakfasts and lunches I would purchase during the workday. And while I have some morning phone calls where I have to be ‘on’, I haven’t had to make small talk with my admittedly awesome colleagues when I’m still getting oriented to the world. I can focus on my work without interruptions, and can also just get up and lay down on my bed for a few minutes when I’m overwhelmed. I know so many people thrive in the in-person office space, especially people who have more creative jobs than I do, but the idea of having to keep my mood chipper and my interactions constant for eight hours a day, every day, is a bit terrifying. Like, how was it okay that we used to do this? How is it still okay for people working in jobs that must be done in person? Surely they deserve fewer hours and higher pay because ack. That’s just so … much.

Between July and October I was able to train with my former football club, and that was amazing. It was structured – training once a week, matches once a week – but still a time where I was around other people, some of whom have become friends. And being outside, there wasn’t nearly as much concern about transmitting the disease. We could for the most part just run around and play, expending energy before returning back home to resume some of the elements of lock down life.

But (other than a couple of weeks in December), even that social interaction has been gone. Since early November, my in-person contact with other humans outside my partner have been primarily with my dentist. I needed a root canal, and the process took four visits. I admit I looked forward to those visits as it was a legally allowed way for me to both leave the house and hear another person’s voice. Also my tooth feels much better, so that’s nice. But I would always feel some anxiety in the day leading up, not because of the fear of pain, but because it was me, being around someone else.

Now that rules are starting to lessen, we’re starting to make plans, and I’m starting to get a little anxious.

Like, my new football team is starting training on 31 March. I’m seeing some friends this weekend and this week (outdoors, of course). And at some point, even more will open up. Restaurants will start serving again, and friends will want to go to one. I’ve not been inside a restaurant since February 2020. I did not “eat out to help out” because that seemed like a horrible idea (spoiler alert: it was). But I understand why some people did. They wanted to see people. They wanted some sense of normalcy. And they were probably tired of doing all the washing up after cooking every meal every day for months.

I would like a different normal when more people are vaccinated and restrictions are lifted. I want to start traveling again, for sure. That’s what I’ve missed the most – that, and bookstores. But I want to be more careful with my time, because I’ve learned that yes, I definitely need more human interaction than the pandemic has allowed, but I also work better with less than pre-2020 expectations required.

So what does that mean? Well, I’m keeping up with football, so that means one night a week I’ll have training, and Saturdays I will have games. I know that Friday nights I’m usually pretty tuckered out, so I think my primary times for seeing friends will need to be Sunday brunches or perhaps Monday evenings. Obviously I can’t be so strict that there’s no flexibility for seeing friends who are in town, or going to a show, or just spontaneously meeting up with folks, but I also know that I cannot and will not try to ‘make up for lost time’ by trying to shove my days full of things again. It has been nice, having weekend days that aren’t jam packed. It’s been nice knowing that when work ends, I have my evenings to my self.

But I do also really miss my friends. And I’m excited to have the option of making plans that aren’t just a zoom chat.

I know some people might read this and feel a connection to it. But others are probably flummoxed by the idea that, once vaccinated, I’m still going to be a bit timid with returning to ‘normal’ life. Or that I’m hoping that life never returns to the exact normal that we all had before.

So to my friends who are extroverts, and cannot wait to pick everything back up, and start making loads of plans: please be patient with us. My not jumping on the first opportunity to meet up does not mean I don’t want to see you. It just means that I’m still trying to figure out how to navigate the world again.