… I made a good attempt at hibernating!
I undertook a new challenge at work. I am now on the collective bargaining team – on the management side! The whole thing is a new experience to me. Our contract expired 10 months ago but there seems to be no urgency about settling it. The process may take months. We have been meeting two full days a week. It is quite a change from spending time in the office and in the library.
I am pleased to say I cleaned up my act when it comes to eating and exercise. It got away from me back in November when my elliptical machine conked out and I went to endless holiday food events. This led to a long stretch of saying What the Heck. You know how it goes – New Year, New Diet. I have now been working out 5 days a week for 3 weeks – mostly on the now-fixed elliptical, but also skating once a week. I can’t believe how much better I am feeling. It also helps to counteract those long days of collective bargaining, cooped up in the board room. With lunches on an expense account! Walking to work and snow shovelling help, too. I have even given up snacking with the exception of fruit and yogurt. Oh, and the Super Bowl exception 🙂 (Doesn’t that sound like a title for an episode of Big Bang Theory?)
Tons of volunteer work was done and as a result I feel on top of it right now. This involved 8 meetings and events throughout the month!
As you know, I tidied up my old laptop and got my new computer on stream, which makes everything I do a little happier!
Rom and I didn’t spend a cent of our entertainment budget, not even on tickets for future events. On the 31st we spent a day on grocery shopping and errands. That was it for outings! However, we did get a great start on our little goal of listening through all the Beatles albums. We have 7 in the house right now and I have listened to some of them multiple times. Having an actual snow day helped! The library closes on especially nasty winter days, but it’s beyond rare for Rom’s private-sector office to shut down.
Apart from a routine dentist visit, that was January!
What this means is: I spend eons of time reading, and even watching DVDs! It has been ages since I’ve watched anything. I saw:
CBGB, starring Alan Rickman as Hilly Kristal, was better than I expected. It was a fictionalized account of the early 70s NYC punk and art rock scene, featuring the original music, but actors playing all the musicians. I started off skeptical, but it won me over. If you have any interest in Blondie, Television, the Ramones, etc, I recommend it. It complemented the book I read in December, From the Velvets to the Voidoids.
On a trip to the UK, I bought a DVD copy of Quadrophenia. The original film came out when I was in school and too young to see it at the theatre! Although I didn’t find the lead character entirely sympathetic (I am too old now for that), I loved that it was set in Croyden and Brighton, and the settings were so realistic. Being a rock music fan in general, I enjoyed it tremendously.
Rom and I watched Grand Budapest Hotel on Netflix. Very stylized; I liked it.
On Gam Kau’s recommendation, we saw the wonderful documentary Happy, a series of vignettes about unusual people who are happier than average. I found it very thought-provoking and it affected me deeply, especially the story of the debutante.
Finally I watched The Maid. It was hard to commit to seeing the whole movie because the lead character was so unlikeable, but I am so glad I stuck with it. Memorable!
I spent the whole month reading whatever I liked, ignoring my book club selection. At year-end I was just finishing Delusions of Gender by Cordelia Fine. Ultimately it is a book of brain science, but quite accessible. The author warns that brain research does not support gendered education. I was amazed at the number of popularly-accepted studies that the author was able to refute.
I went on to three easy-to-read books.
A Bunch of Pretty Things I Did Not Buy was an artist’s interpretation of a Buy Nothing challenge. She actually made beautiful paintings of clothes she wanted to buy online – and then didn’t buy them! The text was rather slight, but I admired the project. By contrast, I was disappointed with How to Be Parisian Wherever You Are. If you think women love gossip and flirting and cattiness, this one’s for you! I shouldn’t have picked it up because it traded in stereotypes, whereas I thought it would try to get behind the stereotypes. Oh well. I also read a manga that teens at my library like, called Black Butler. It has some creepy content but lots of appeal, too. I wasn’t into it enough to continue to Volume 2. I will have to try out the anime version on Netflix.
Then back to novels again. I read The Blondes, which I had thought was a zombie novel, but was actually a dystopian pandemic novel. It had lots of good concepts: I really liked that it had a women’s studies subplot and that it was mostly about women’s interactions with each other. An interesting undercurrent was a fear of older, more powerful women. It would make a great movie. I also caught up on the Sue Grafton series by reading W is for Wasted. I was so glad that this one got back to Kinsey’s family and love life. Some of the recent books just felt like place holders. Now it seems like the series is back on track in time for its last 3 volumes.
Finally I read The Boy in the Moon by Ian Brown. It’s a memoir about life with his son, who has profound disabilities and requires 24-hour care. He loves his son, but struggled to find meaning in their experiences. He used his connections as a journalist and as a parent to interview others who spend time with people who have intellectual, physical and communication challenges as well as great medical needs. Ultimately he was asking – what is the meaning of life? And what is the meaning of these lives? I like pondering the big questions so this was my kind of book.
Incidentally, it included a lot of brain science and genetics information. This must be my theme for the month because I am now reading The Organized Mind!
I am super-happy with January. I needed that!