Working through this (kinda/sorta). Recently checked one off the list:
Make Amanda’s jerkface cross-stitch.
I think the ‘Dr’ really saves it from accusations of questionable taste.
I have to say, the second half of the list was WAY harder. I have done some of these – will update as soon as I get this thesis chapter off my back (right now it’s all up there like a very angry little chimp).
Drink beer on the Staten Island Ferry
Bag a munro
Go to a ceilidh
double bag-of-wine movie date
send snugget mail
Watch the sunrise and the sunset on West Sands, on the same day
go to Africa
walk from St A to Anstruther
rewatch the Star Wars trilogy
go to Tomatina
take a photo of a place in all four seasons
take a cooking class
celebrate Australia Day
go to a shooting range
go up Arthur’s seat
drink five cocktails I’ve never tried – (
1, 2, 3, 4, 5)
go to a roller derby…match? I don’t even know what they’re called
play kick the can
have a tea party
spend a rainy day reading The Grass Harp
go to the gym 5x a week for a month
go to an SCO concert
talk to someone about running a coffee shop
sort through the JIL listings and compose a calendar of deadlines
Drink beer in Munich
watch Ghost with Elbows
cook dinner for the McLeods
go to Ikea with Lisa
eat dinner at Urban Angel
go to late-night Muppets Christmas Carol
go to Bampton midnight mass
get an iphone (oh htc, I hate your face)
do amanda’s jerkface cross-stitch
make mum’s scones
take photobooth pictures
drink mulled wine at the Edinburgh Christmas market
make five recipes from Good Food
watch The Goonies
play poohsticks in Bampton
apply for an academic job
have a pint in a bampton pub
go to the stables
go to the st a auction
put 10 GBP in savings for every task completed
I’m always incredibly grateful for my internet-active friends, especially during the times when I’m meant to be super productive. Crossed and Dotted is a favourite – in part because it’s so lovingly tended by my friend Renée. She posted a list of 101 experiences to chase in the next 1001 days, and I’ve been thinking about it a lot recently, as I’ve been driven by an obsessive (but possibly unjustifiable) desire to eat my first oyster. That’s happening TOMORROW, to the general bemusement of my parents, and in honour of that I thought I’d build a list of my own. Here’s the first half (and Renée, I think there’s only one direct steal from you…)
eat an oyster
go to the Brooklyn Flea
make crème brûlée
publish an article
do something with the spare room
purge the flat of unnecessary crap
revamp the picture wall
cook dinner for Taylor and Andrew
walk across the Brooklyn Bridge
watch 10 films from the AFI list
visit Jesse in Oxford
take a cocktail lesson from Lisa
see a tragedy at the Globe
go to a Read Not Dead performance
make pancakes in St Andrews
read five banned books
get a pair of properly chunky specs
eat at papaya king
make soft pretzels
visit knole estate
visit the dennis severs house
make ten recipes off pinterest
have coffee at monmouth
go (back) to cinque terre
go (back) to Skye
try seven new whiskies
see a play at the RSC
have tea at the Four-teas
make fresh pasta
get my uk license
go vegetarian for a week
learn to identify five constellations
go to three museums (RAA, BL Ice Age, MS exhibit in Munich)
photograph a regular day
build a fort
distribute cupcakes or muffins on a rainy day
get to the office every morning by 9am, for a week
watch ten films from Ebert’s list of 102
walk the highline
write jojo a letter
visit Amanda in Glasgow
go for a walk in central park
walk to the cocoa tree with kat
visit the secret bunker
go to the St Andrews castle
write letters/postcards to thirteen friends from college
I just love the Good Will, even if it does totally destroy my sense of reasonable pricing (‘Ten dollars for a pair of jeans? Are you NUTS?!’). My mum and I hit up the Seattle store this morning, and even though we were totally outclassed by an assortment of vicious, game-faced grannies, I still made out like a tiny bandit:
Here’s my fist-pump moment:
Signed hardcover copy of Freedom for 2.99? Nailed it. It’s cute that I arrived in Seattle vowing to read the books I’m already hoarding with my parents, because so far I’ve purchased five new ones. What a jerk.
This Pyrex is WAY too heavy to bring back to Scotland, but I still insisted on buying it because I thought it would be extra charming with lemons in it. AND LO:
Clothing purchases aren’t super exciting, but here are some bargainous Gap jeans (5.99) and a plaid shirt with a weirdcute bomb on it. Plus a pastry cutter that will only excite Team Zombie Night, since it means impending scones.
AND, finally, these happened at Mercer Island Thrift, but:
There are seven, actually. Bring on the rosemary gin fizz!
Some people don’t like Christmas.
I’m not judging…but that’s completely ridiculous.
Other people dislike Valentine’s Day, Halloween, Thanksgiving…you get the idea. I like to cultivate a moderate level of apathy for most of these holidays, so I can focus on the important ones like Boxing Day and Australia Day (the unsung heroes of the holiday calendar, to my mind). But I hate, hate, HATE New Year’s Eve. I am the Scrooge of New Year’s Eve. It’s shocking – since it seems to be the one day everyone is encouraged to roll around in glitter – but there it is. Take Groundhog’s Day and push it back a month or so and you have my own personal 9th circle.
In spite of this overwhelming hatred, I do sometimes participate in the resolutions. (Don’t read anything into it; I’ve been known to indulge in Lent, too.) Some of you will remember that I posted a list of goals for 2020. That’s similar to a list of resolutions, I suppose, except I’m going to go ahead and call them action points, because I don’t want New Year’s to get any funny ideas and think we’re becoming intimate. At any rate, one of those action points was to read 101 novels in the next ten years.
I picked that as an action point for a couple of reasons:
1. It was mentioned in a BBC adaptation of Emma. Emma set herself the goal because she was being petty and competitive. That seemed reasonable/noble at the time and I’m impressionable. (Sadly, this is the primary reason. Don’t judge me.)
2. Most civilians assume that anyone getting her Ph.D. in English has read ALL OF THE BOOKS. All of them. That’s a pretty tall order. I’m not a vampire, you guys, and therefore I don’t have that kind of time. Also I’m an early modernist. Professionally, I only care about Renaissance literature. Personally…I pretty much only care about Renaissance literature. (That’s not actually true, but just so we’re clear there is no possible world in which I am interested in the Lake Poets. It’s just not happening. I’m glad that other people are interested, though.)
3. Ironically, I spend most of my life feeling as though I’ve read approximately four books. Total.
So, 101 novels seemed like a nice workable goal. I mention my reasons for setting myself the challenge because it’s important to realise that there’s some sort of underlying desire to become a better person with all this reading. That leads me to the question of standards, because reading 101 gas station novels obviously isn’t going to do me any good.
Anyway, I’ve been keeping track (kind of, sort of, I think) of the books I’ve read since 2010, and in the grand tradition of English students in January I’ll offer said list up now (Bolded titles for the ones I particularly enjoyed/would recommend, but bear in mind only vaguely depressing books seem to fall into that category):
The Sea – Banville. Amsterdam – McEwan. On Beauty – Zadie Smith. Lolita - Nabokov. Enduring Love - McEwan. The Blind Assassin - Atwood. The God of Small Things - Roy. Emma - Austen. Mr.Pip - Jones. Jeeves and the Feudal Spirit - Wodehouse. A Short History of Tractors in Ukranian - Lewycka. The Book Thief - Zusak.
So, 12 books that I feel fairly comfortable counting towards my 101. Although even some of these feel like cheating. I feel like I must have read more than these, but I can’t remember and the only other books I can recall are The Amber Spyglass (Pullman; children’s book) and The Tipping Point (Gladwell; not a novel) and I’m pretty confident that I shouldn’t count these.
1984 – Orwell. On Chesil Beach - McEwan. The English Patient - Ondaatje. Wolf Hall – Mantel. The Shipping News - Proulx. Never Let Me Go - Ishiguro. Middlesex - Eugenides. Oryx and Crake - Atwood. The Edible Woman - Atwood. The Year of the Flood - Atwood. The Clothes on Their Backs – Grant. The Penelopiad - Atwood. Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim - Sedaris. A Thousand Splendid Suns - Hosseini. The Secret History – Tartt. I Capture the Castle - Dodie Smith. The Comfort of Strangers - McEwan. Lucky Jim - Amis. That’s 18, before you count my questionables: One Day (Nicholls; is this just a trashy romance novel with a brain?); Blink (Gladwell; not a novel, also the type of book one buys in an airport); The Hunger Games (all three of them; Collins; strictly speaking a YA series but I LOVED the first one in particular); Good Omens (Pratchett and Gaiman); The Help (Stockett; enjoyed it, would especially recommend it to older female family members; not really sure why I feel like I can’t count it). All in all, 2011 was a far more successful year, in terms of reading. Well, presuming enjoying the books is a measure of success.
Here’s my issue. Why am I stressing so much about which books count? It’s not a question of enjoyment, because if that were the case then The Hunger Games would slide right in and I’d never admit to anyone that I’d ever picked up The Sea (not to be reductive or anything, but that book was stupid.) The ‘action point’ was 101 novels, and a friend and colleague of mine quite accurately pointed out recently that figuring out what ‘counts’ should be fairly simple. A novel is a novel is a novel (though I am certain that someone somewhere would happily start an argument with me on that point). I don’t have any problem admitting that I read books that are below my fighting weight (I’ve read all of the Twilight books, and when I was interrailing I read some of the trashiest trash anyone has ever encountered). So I’m not worrying about this because I’m trying to be a huge poseur. I think the concern is more that, having set myself the challenge, I don’t want to wimp out; I want to challenge myself. So team: any ideas for what ‘counts’? What should the criteria be?
Did you know that I recently started recycling? I know. And before you all get up in arms about the baby polar bears, and how I am (was?) a discredit to Seattle-ites everywhere, let me clarify. It’s not that I’ve actively been destroying the environment. It’s more that I take the Jim Gaffigan approach to recycling, in that I’ll go out of my way to avoid using anything I’d have to recycle. (This is surprisingly difficult, when you’re a lit student with a diet coke problem.)
(Sidenote: for the life of me, I cannot find a youtube video for Jim Gaffigan’s “Recycling,” but I HIGHLY recommend you all look into it.)
But anyway, this new recycling thing. One problem with being friends with someone from Bellingham (hiiiiiiii Amanda!) is that all people from Bellingham are dirty hippies. And dirty hippies will openly mock you for owning umbrellas/drying your hair/using deodorant or Pantene Pro-V. But when it comes to recycling, it’s apparently GAME TIME. There’s no mocking so much as open hostility. On Saturday I got in trouble because Amanda found a diet coke can in the WARDENNIAL OFFICE trash can, since I am occasionally IN the wardennial office, it had to be my fault. (It was, for the record, EZRA’S coke can.)
So it came to pass that my overwhelming laziness was in direct conflict with my desire for a quiet life. And it turns out that my desire for a quiet life is stronger than my laziness. I agreed to start recycling, IF Amanda could come up with a recycling system that’s cute enough to be appealing.
So since I’ve finally caved on this, the foundation of hippiedom, I thought I should explore other hippie pastimes (ones that still allow me to shower and wear preppy headbands). In that spirit, I bought some ground flaxseed today. I’m not entirely sure WHY I did this, unless you count my freakish obedience (I read in Good Food magazine that it’s super good for you). But I have concluded, since it’s a ground seed, is brown, and looks suspiciously healthy while at the same time being generally flavourless, that it must be at least a vaguely crunchy purchase. And let me tell you, I was feeling pretty smug about the purchase until it dawned on me that I might be allergic to it. I don’t typically have a problem with seeds, but then BRAZIL NUTS are allegedly seeds, and a brazil nut is a surefire way for me to get an epi-pen straight to the facepiece. As a result, I am eating approximately four grains at a time, until I either a) determine for sure that I’m not allergic to the flax or b) build up an immunity to it (similar to Wesley’s immunity to iocane powder in The Princess Bride). The only minor difference is that a flaxseed immunity will be of very little use, should I ever find myself in a battle of wits with a Sicilian. Pity.
Nevertheless, I am for sure going to start demanding that people call me “The Dread Pirate Roberts of Flaxseed”.
Oh, herro. I’m back. Sorry about the what, 7 month? timeout I took.
Today let’s talk about being useful in a desert-island situation. I recently got a call out of the blue from Amanda. It went something like this:
Amanda: Hello, whorebag. (Editor’s note: Ah, pet names. Aren’t they adorable? Enjoy this insight into a functional, supportive friendship.) I’ve been talking to Dustin, and we just wanted to call and let you know that if we’re ever stranded on a desert island, you’re going to be eaten first.
Tovia: Um, pardon? Also, rude. Why?
Amanda: Well, it’s simple. Both Dustin and I have discernible survival skills, whereas you do nothing useful whatsoever. In fact, you’d probably be a liability because your neon/sparkletown wardrobe would scare off any potential prey.
That was essentially the end of the conversation, except of course for a few indignant noises on my part.
I would really love to say that that was the end of it, but my uselessness on our fictitious desert island home KEEPS COMING UP. Examples:
What did Amanda say?
“Does it come in hot pink? Either way, you should probably buy it, since that’s basically what I picture you wearing on the island. Plus it will make you easier to find, when it’s time to kill and eat you.”
You can understand why I’ve yet to commit to purchasing the skirt.
2. We built a fort in Dustin’s flat. AND IT IS AWESOME. And when I say “we” built a fort, I mean Dustin and Amanda are entirely responsible for its structural integrity. I strung lights all over it and made foil stars to hang from the lights (which was GENIUS, if you ask me). However, according to Amanda, my interior decorating skills won’t save me on this stupid island, since TECHNICALLY electricity-dependent decor won’t contribute to our survival and/or rescue. Apparently Amanda fails to recognise the positive contribution ambient lighting makes to overall quality of life.
It boils down to this:
I’ll probably never get on a plane or a boat with Amanda and Dustin, just in case.
And for those of you who don’t have access to my facebook account, here is a picture of my AWESOME fort decorating: