Bookish and Not-So-Bookish Thoughts

  • My birthday was on Monday. I took the day off work, made pancakes, went hat shopping, went book shopping, went to an art exhibit, came home, called my mum, made my own cake (from this recipe by She Cooks She Eats), and then we had pizza. It was all very nice.
  • It’s been hot in London this week. Like, really motherf*ckin’ hot. Before anyone starts mocking the Brits for their weather weakness, please bear in mind that a) I grew up in Virginia, where it’s often 90 degrees (Fahrenheit; that’s 32 Celsius, kids) in the shade by mid-May, and humid, so it’s not like I don’t know what heat is, and b) in Virginia, every building is designed to deal with the heat. Even the ones that were built pre-air conditioning; my parents’ house is from about 1890, and they’re not legally allowed to install a/c, but it was built to allow cool breezes (when there are any) to drift through the whole building. My office in London, by contrast, has no air conditioning and is designed to keep us warm in the Victorian winters (although, as I can attest, it does a pretty crap job at that, too). There are no breezes and we’re all miserable.
  • Angela Eagle has stepped down from her bid to be leader of the Labour Party. This is sad, partly because Piers Morgan has decided to play on it by suggesting that perhaps women just aren’t good enough (his words, y’all. His actual words). Mostly, though, I’m sad that the team on Dead Ringers won’t be able to satirize her anymore. (“I may sound like a nervous badger, but when I want something, I take it! And then I put it back. And cry when the police come.”)
  • Yoga isn’t something I’m particularly good at; my flexibility and upper arm strength are nil (though my balance isn’t bad) – but I’ve been doing it for nearly two months through work and I am, I think, getting a bit stronger. I’ve only got another week of it left, though, so if I want to continue, I’ll have to find a class near home. I’d like to carry on, but like everything else, it costs money, which I soon won’t have much of. I know it’s the sort of thing worth spending money on, though. Ugh. Someone help me to convince myself?
  • I’m 13 books into #20booksofsummer, and have finally read the first on my list which I really wasn’t into: Raw Spirit, by Iain Banks. He may have been a brilliant fiction writer, but in person he strikes me as a self-indulgent blowhard with too much money, a less funny Bill Bryson. Shame.
  • Kodasema is an Estonian architecture group that’s designed a beautiful, tiny pre-fab house (the KODA) that can move with you. It only takes seven hours to put up, in total (I spend more time than that at work every day), it’s green as hell, and it’s unbelievably good-looking. The downsides are that the ceiling is only 7’1″ (the Chaos is 6’7″), and no website seems to have information on prices. Still…




21 thoughts on “Bookish and Not-So-Bookish Thoughts

  1. Sounds like you had a lovely birthday. Sad that you had to bake your own cake, though! My husband does all the cooking and baking in our household; his birthday is the one and only occasion when I pull out all the stops and make him a decadent cake from scratch.

    I just about survived the heat in our flat this week. It was cute the responses I got from Americans when I asked for tips for dealing with no A/C. One friend thought I could just open the windows all the way since there would be screens; in fact we have a cat so can only open them one inch onto the catch. And then my mom said, ‘oh, why don’t you just go to a friend’s house with A/C?’ Um, because no one has it? Whereas my suggestions from Brits were to go to a cinema or a hospital!

    Yoga is one of those things I’ve always meant to do. I did a taster session with my mom once and enjoyed it, but classes here cost at least £7.50 each, which seems steep for what it is. A friend suggested I just do it along to YouTube videos, but that would require actually motivating myself to exercise. I can make myself use the cross trainer because I can read my Kindle at the same time; anything else, not so much. (I bet Geoff Dyer’s Yoga for People Who Can’t Be Bothered to Do It would be amusing in this context.)

    Sorry for the too-long comment!

    • I actually needed an excuse to bake this one, so I was quite happy to go ahead and do it! It turned out rather beautifully.

      HAHA yes, cinemas are air conditioned! Although I’d avoid hospitals like the plague (literally). It’s absolutely ridiculous.

      The cheapest yoga class I can find in my area (zone 2) is £8.50 a session. I’d be willing to spend that much if I knew I had a steady income, but as I’m going to be unemployed soon, it seems a bit of a scary leap to make (though I’ve done all the money-saving things like canceling frivolous subscriptions and getting a bank account with better rewards, etc.) I find self-motivating reeeeeally hard, so YouTube and apps would be tricky for me too! Though there’s a woman called Jessamyn who has an app I really want to try – she’s an unapologetically plus-size woman of colour, and I like her emphasis on being flexible and strong at any weight/body shape. The damn app costs money too, though! Not much, but some.

      • I’m trying not to shout about it – I’m also trying not to panic, which is my default setting in unemployment situations. I was doing fine until yesterday, when the fear started creeping in. I’ve got savings, and a summer of freedom to write a novel is something I’ve dreamed about, so if that’s what it comes down to, I think I’ll be okay for a while. But man, I have been poor and desperate for a job before and I never wanted to go back there. Circumstances are different now, but that experience has left its mark. (Sorry, not very cheery!)

  2. Happy birthday! Your cake looks divine. We are in the midst of a heatwave in Minnesota combine temperature and humidity today we are expecting a heat index of 110. Minneapolis is used to -30 windchills but not this and even with good a/c we are all miserable. Let’s hope we both cool off soon! Yoga, you could always try YouTube, there are lots of good videos there. That tiny house is gorgeous and I would totally live in it.

    • 110, oh my gawd. Stay indoors. Lie on the floor. (Seriously, floors are very cool, as long as they’re uncarpeted. I think the floor in our kitchen might be the coolest place in the house.) Isn’t the tiny house divine?! I suppose you’d need a plot of land to put it on, though…

  3. That cake looks delicious! I grew up in a coastal town in SoCal and most homes do not have air conditioning. We’ve had some pretty hot summers recently and it’s been miserable! I totally feel your pain.

    Happy Birthday!

  4. Yoga is totally my jam. Before my son I’d go to a studio 3-4 times a week, but he’s sort of ruined that for me. I have been using the Down Dog app and it is THE BEST. It’s free with a cheap (like $3) monthly subscription options for upgrades if you want them.

    • I’m thinking about apps, actually. I’m just so awful at self-motivating and also am not at all sure I wouldn’t do myself an injury by trying too hard without having an instructor to say “whoa there, buddy, your feet need to not be doing that” or similar. The chap I’ve found who offers classes locally is called something like Alonso and is Argentine, bald, muscular and smiley (from his website), so I’m thinking the hilarity/stereotype factor alone might make me sign up for a block…

  5. ian darling says:

    Happy birthday and hope the worst of the London heatwave is past. Moaning about the weather may be a bit wimpy but what I can’t get is so many people saying how lovely this muggy heat is! Aaaargh!

  6. Belated happy birthday! 🙂 I love these posts so much.

    I never thought I would self-motivate to do yoga either, but I found a Youtube channel I really love called Yoga with Adriene. She does video series of 30 day challenges as well as weekly routines, and somehow knowing that I’m on video 13 of 30 keeps me coming back to the mat everyday. She’s also so good at telling you how to adapt the more difficult poses for beginners (which I definitely am). I’m on day 23 of a perfect streak of practice now with her. I’d highly recommend.

    • Thanks! I’m glad you like them. I have a good time writing them!

      I always go through this huge emotional cycle when I’m doing yoga – happiness and pride at being able to hold myself up followed by shame and embarrassment at my body for not being strong or flexible enough to do the hard poses. (Or even sometimes the easy ones.) Adapting the poses to beginnners is definitely something I need.

  7. Happy belated birthday! That cake looks delicious. I’m the same re: upper body strength and flexibility, I’ve found Yoga has really helped me too, but I don’t stick to it enough.

    • Thanks! Yeah, yoga is great, but I’m worried about sticking to it when I don’t have steady income. I’ve had some amazing recommendations for YouTube videos, though, which might be a good way to keep it up.

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