In Brief: Eleanor & Park

Eleanor & Park

It was my turn to pick the book for book club this month and I chose Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell. I’d been hearing great things about this book since it came out earlier this year, but I rarely turn to young adult fiction when I have unread, uh, adult fiction on my list. I have to read something if we’re reading it for book club – except when I tell myself that I don’t have to finish a book if I really hate it, which was the case with The Orphan Master’s Son this year – so I really picked it so I would have an excuse to have to read it.

I read Eleanor & Park within 24 hours of buying it at the bookstore.* I imagine I would have devoured it with the same speed had I read it as a teenager. It made me feel like a teenager again. I saw a lot of my younger self in the main characters, especially Park – confident in a limited way, smart but still naive. There were a few aspects of the book that didn’t totally jive with me, but they didn’t get in the way of how much I enjoyed the experience of reading it. (Really, my biggest complaint is that I wanted to know more about the minor characters and their pasts, which is not such a bad thing.)

I would recommend this book to anyone who can stand reliving what it’s like to be young and maybe in love. Eleanor & Park is worth it.

*When I shop for books in the real world, I go to WORD in Greenpoint. I saw Rowell’s latest, Fangirl, on the shelf there next to Eleanor & Park and I’m looking forward to picking it up to read over my holiday break.

Today Sucks

Oh, man. I hate today! It’s usually very hard for me to hate a Friday but…this one really sucks. And it’s not even like anything unusually bad has happened today. It’s just been a dumb, shitty day.

When I went to bed last night, it felt like I had been drugged. I was exhausted. But also I was having like, really weird dreams before I was fully asleep. I woke up at 6:20 when my alarm went off because I need to be in Manhattan at 7:45 on most Fridays. Needless to say, I hit the snooze button at least twice because I didn’t fully wake up until 6:45. So then I was rushed to take a shower, get dressed, pack my lunch and blow dry my hair. I decided I would just bring my make up with me and put it on when I got to work. This was a real gamble because I wasn’t sure if I’d see my barista crush or not when I picked up my coffee on the way to the subway. My only stroke of luck today was that he wasn’t working.

Actually, I was also lucky in that I didn’t have to wait for the subway for very long today. (This has been a particularly bad commuting week for me.) However, I was struck by a mild panic attack after I felt like my foot was falling asleep on my walk to my subway stop and I got kind of hot and sweaty and I felt a little pain in my right leg, which I convinced myself was a blood clot that was going to lead to a stroke, which would occur specifically while I was on the L between Bedford and 1st Ave. Upon making it all the way to Union Square, I felt a great sense of relief that I was not dead. Indeed, I was alive! I walked sweatily up the stairs and onto misty 14th Street, which is not as terrible as usual before 8 am.

I left my appointment at 8:30 and walked 15 blocks to work in the rain. It was worth it not to get sweaty again. Also, my hair was already ruined. But the only thing worse than being on the subway on a rainy day is walking down a New York City sidewalk full of shuffling, inept assholes who don’t know how to carry their umbrellas. I’m not the first person to complain about. You all know what I’m talking about. And I’m not sure just how enraged I can get about this because I’m sure we’ve all been a shuffling, inept asshole who doesn’t know how to carry an umbrella to someone else at least once in our lives.

Hm, okay. What else sucks? I dunno, just being at work. I won’t go into too much detail but I will say that I am not being made happy by the collective terrible energy and general creepiness of atmosphere in my office.

Also! Oh, this one was annoying. UPS has not been able to deliver a package to me at work for the last two days. I needed this package on Wednesday, so. It’s too fucking late now. I had to call UPS to see where the package was and it took me like 10 minutes to figure out their automated system and then I waited for 20 minutes to speak to a customer service representative who told me it was my fault that the package wasn’t delivered because I had entered an incomplete address. (I hadn’t. At all. And besides, I chose the address that Amazon/UPS suggested after I had entered it when I was ordering this item.) I told him that I realized he had nothing to do with this, but that it was very frustrating situation and I guess I kind of yelled at him, which made me feel a little bit empowered but also a little bit embarrassed because I sit in an open office space. Anyway, now I need to go out and physically buy this thing that I ordered or reorder it from Amazon and have it sent to my home address. (Um, I realize I was vague about the item before this and that’s sort of weird, so I’ll tell you right now that it’s just a book that I had ordered as a gift for someone.) Amazon, by the way, refunded me for the item since it was technically sent back to them, so I guess that’s cool.

I had a shitty lunch because I have been packing my own lunch to save more money and I am not happy with anything that’s not a $12 salad from Sweetgreen anymore. So, I’m starving right now and am about to go to town on a huge thing of minty holiday M&Ms we have in the office.

Other tiny things that are bothering me:

– Rain, in general
– How dark it is outside
– How tired I have been all week
– My renewed anxiety about money, which is hitting me big time for a few big reasons right now
– What, in general, I am going to do with my life
– Year end list anxiety, which happens every year as lists roll out before I am done making my lists of my favorite things of the year (something I genuinely enjoy and have never been paid to do), which I only share with friends and you, readers, if you are lucky

Things that were somewhere between OK and cool today:

– Listening to the Sky Ferreira album on repeat
– Drinking a regular Coke for the first time in forever
– Being able to write out my frustration in under 20 minutes

Welp, here’s hoping I can add more more things to that second list before this day is done. And I will leave you with this, my favorite rainy day song, I guess because it fits the weather and my current mood and I’m listening to it right now:

All I Want For Christmas Is Everything

This year, I only asked for a few things for Christmas. Practical things. New boots (I’ve worn out a few pairs in the last year), new sheets, a new hat/gloves combo, new sneakers. I think that’s it. You know, things I NEED. I mean, I definitely want all of them. But only because I need them, I think. I really wish I could have asked for things I just plain want, but with the crushing guilt complex that I acquired somewhere in between nine years of Catholic school and growing up as the oldest in a large family, that was impossible. Also, my mom – the primary Christmas shopper in our family – never really bought me anything that I wanted unless I could get her on board with it. (Like, if I asked for most of the shit below she would say “Um, okay” but would silently be thinking “WHAT?” and then would pretend I never asked her for any of it.)  Anyway, here is a list of ten seven things I would ask for if I had no shame and I thought people would buy them for me.

Please note: I grew up extremely privileged and really have no right to complain about anything and feel so weird and guilty even writing this but I honestly couldn’t think of what else to write today.

Christmas Gift

1. A subscription to the NYRB Classics Book Club

Those of you who read my book reviews may have noticed that I read a lot of NYRB Classics. Not only are their jacket designs amazing, but very few of their books that I’ve picked up have been less than amazing.

2. Berlin Alexanderplatz (The Criterion Collection)

I still have never seen this and I often think about buying it for myself but, for some reason, have never broken down and done it.

3. Everything from Madewell

I was going to link to just the sweaters but then I realized that although I want all of the sweaters, what I really want is all of the everything. (I really, really want this metallic t-shirt dress, though.)

4. The Wes Anderson Collection by Matt Zoller Seitz

I’m a big Wes Anderson fan. But this seems like a silly thing to ask for. Also, I would like all of Wes Anderson’s Criterion Collection films.

5. An actual nice stereo system

And someone – an audiophile – to help me identify the things I would need to make that happen and then set it up for me.

6. A sizable trust fund

7. All of the weird crafting stuff I could buy at Paper Source

And here is where my ideas run out. I mean, I want like a TON of super fancy clothes but I would have to do a lot of thinking on what my top items would be. And makeup, too. (But honestly, with makeup at least, I would go out and buy an item I really wanted. The clothes, not so much.) But do I really want it? Probably not. If I did, wouldn’t I buy it for myself? Maybe there is a reason I didn’t ask for the stuff above (minus the trust fund). All of it is more stuff that I have to have in my life AND in my relatively small apartment. What’s the value of stuff, really, when it just ends up sitting around unused for most of your lifetime?

Just writing that last sentence gave me a small panic attack as I considered the worth of my book collection, which is my most prized and underused possession. Going to look at all of the items I posted above online, consider buying them to the point I put them in the shopping cart and then chicken out for the eight billionth time.

Thanksgiving Update

After a nine-day sorta staycation, I’m back to my normal routine, which includes posting stuff on this blog. I hope that I’ll be writing some more substantial pieces in the weeks to come but for now, I have made a list of things I did while I was off.


I was too busy taking selfies like this to write while I was on vacation.

I was too busy taking selfies like this to write while I was on vacation.


– Replaced my stolen and kinda broken iPhone 4S with a new iPhone 5S at a precise moment in time when I have like, zero money. But yay! New phone!

– Caught up with some high school friends at Luzzo’s in the East Village, which I recommend if you like good pizza, which you probably do. (If you don’t, you’re probably a piece of garbage).

– Hosted a large, raucous potluck with my friends Jen and Liza on the Saturday before Thanksgiving. Our Fourth Annual Cheesegiving was so much fun, filled with the best people and lots of good food (and lots and lots of drink). A big thanks to all of you who were there to party!

– Nursed a number of mild-to-vicious hangovers after visiting a number of my favorite bars in Greenpoint and Bed-Stuy.

– Spent too much time here, silently willing one of the baristas to fall in love with me.

– Studied a lot of German. (And attended German class!)

– Immersed myself in the world of Hild, Nicola Griffith’s new novel about St. Hilda of Whitby. It’s really, really good.

– Watched all of the TV I’d missed over the last few weeks.

– Stayed up until 2:30 am singing the soundtrack to every musical – by which I mean most of Wicked and The Sound of Music – with my roommate on the eve of her 27th birthday.

– Missed out on Thanksgiving Eve in my hometown for the first time in probably eight years. Which means I also missed out on the epic Thanksgiving Day hangover I usually have. Instead, I stayed in Brooklyn and watched two German films by myself. Lore and Barbara are both great, though don’t expect to feel uplifted after watching either of them. (Both are available on Netflix).

– Made my favorite Pumpkin Swirl Brownies (from Smitten Kitchen) for Thanksgiving dessert. And some Peanut Butter Cookies using this PB Crave Chocolate Peanut Butter.

– Spent Thanksgiving Day with my Flannery family in Newburgh. It was great to have all of my immediate family and cousins and aunts and uncles and grandma in one place!

– Spent a solid 24 hours in Binghamton with my other grandma (and mom and sister). It was equally great to get to see most of my other cousins and aunts and uncles.

– Caught Mauvais Sang at Film Forum. It’s playing through this Thursday, December 5th so if you’re looking to see a crazy but very good/beautiful French film and have some extra time on your hands during the next few days, you should check it out.

Um, so now you are caught up on what’s going on in my world, I guess. I’m looking forward to writing lots more this month! More culture reviews, more recipe tests, more Paris, more everything!