Sunday, November 29, 2015

Best : October 2015.

My privileged and luxurious five-day Thanksgiving break comes to a close tonight, and while I've gotten some errands done and spent good time with good people, the majority of it has been a festival of lazy. I'm not always good at being lazy, a term which for me usually involves reading, eating, and watching depressing documentaries. Party animaaaaaaaal ovah here! And all those super awesome things are what I absolutely in my head wish I could be doing all the time. And for the first day or first few hours of doing these things, I am always SO HAPPY. And then it's like after that honeymoon period of Jill Alone Time Bliss, less oxygen begins to be pumped to my brain and heart and I almost start to be annoyed at all the books I need to read, all the media I need to consume, all the self-reflection I need to revel in and I'm like oh yeah, this is why having a job where I'm required to leave the house is so much better for me. At this point, on Sunday night, the oxygen has almost cut off completely, and I want to murder that last sentence I just wrote on account of its annoyingness.

One good thing has come out of this current stint of laziness, though, and it's thinking about, as the year winds down, how I'm going to be better next year at this. Work right now for me is very good. Personal life, very good. But there are the two things that I've always done Just For Me, that make my brain and heart actually tick and expand, and those two things are words and pictures. I still don't quite know how to fit them in to my current life, but I know I need to. This Best of the Month thing on my blog this year has been fun to work on, I think, and good for me in terms of recording and remembering things, but I think in the future it will be more meaningful (and perhaps more interesting to other people? not that that really matters) if I complete them, in fact, at the end of each month in real time. And I need to do more than JUST these lists. But ah, the end-of-the-year resolutions about writing more and taking more pictures, what is new here? Nothing, but it always feels new; it always feels important, and so it is.

Thanks for that space to think out loud, Blogger. You're a real peach. More soon.

For my birthday this month, I requested a dinner at Montage, whose technical name is Le Bistro Montage but how snooty is that, a restaurant I was obsessed with during our first few years of living in Portland but which we hadn't returned in a long-ass time. And guess what. I'M STILL OBSESSED WITH IT.

Montage is a Cajun/Creole restaurant in this shabby building that is literally UNDER A BRIDGE (the Morrison Bridge, just as an FYI) with long communal tables and they have all kinds of gross seafood like oysters and alligator--okay, I guess alligator isn't exactly seafood? right?--but the reason I love it is for their macaroni. Their macaroni is worthy of all the best emojis in the world, from the shiny hearts to the black leotard clad twins kicking their legs in joy. There's always the difficult option between their Spold Mac, a blend of their spicy mac and their "old" (read: heavy cream and garlic) mac, and their new(ish) addition of a Buffalo Mac, which is notable because of the 20,000 pounds of blue cheese that comes with it. (I went with that one this time.)

Okay, I just checked to see if I'd already written about the Montage mac on this blog before, and as suspected, I was all over it in 2011. In a blog post that made me cringe glancing through it but which somehow had SIX enthusiastic comments on it. Gosh, people really liked me back then.

Anyhoo, I have no foto of the Montage mac from anytime I've eaten there, apparently, probably because I scarf it down so quickly, and the lighting is so dim in that joint it'd probably be a horrible foto, anyway. But here's an Instagram of the front stoop of Montage that I took a long time ago. Here is what Google Translate reports that it says:

Come to me, you who labor the stomach, and I will restaurebo you.

Seems legit, Google Translate. Seems legit.

There wasn't a single 5++++ star book standout for me in October, but these are two really solid 4 - 4.5 star ones that I really enjoyed. The Unlikely Hero of Room 13B is realistic YA about a group of kids who meet in an OCD therapy group who take on pseudo superhero identities to help cope. They also sometimes visit a Catholic church, whose somber rituals soothe their OCD tendencies, and sometimes they fall in love. There was a lot of sweet romance here but there was also a lot of fascinating stuff about mental health. I only read this because it's a nominee for the Young Readers' Choice Award, an award I promote at school. I love this award for a lot of reasons, but an unexpected one so far has been that since students from British Columbia and Alberta also participate in the award, there's always at least one stellar Canadian title in there that I wouldn't have previously heard of because apparently stellar Canadian titles can run under the radar in the US because the US is stupid. Anyway, each one I've read so far, like Toten's, is eloquent, sensitive, and interesting.

The Name of the Star is pure fun--a modern-day Jack the Ripper tale in London--but I was pleasantly surprised by it because I was less-than-enthusiastic about the only other Maureen Johnson book I've read, 13 Blue Envelopes. Envelopes was also very fun, but also sort of meandering and pointless and I felt there were so many character elements that weren't fleshed out. This was sad to me because I looove Maureen so much on Twitter. But in terms of plot and character and tension, The Name of the Star felt so much more solid. It is also the PERFECT book recommendation for middle and high school kiddos in October (spooky, but not TOO scary), so A+ timing for me!

Project Runway is just the best, you guys. I've already made my love for this show apparent on this blog, but goshdarnit, I love it. Other shows will languish on my DVR queue for months but this fall Kathy and I would watch each episode every Thursday night in practical real time. [collective gasp from the audience] I feel like some fans were real grumps about this season, but I loved Ashley's final runway show SO EFFING MUCH. Is the overall quality of design as high as it was in the early seasons? Probably not. Are all the designers still more talented than I could ever be with some cloth and a needle? Absolutely. Plus, other than Candice most the time, and that one horrible Bitchfest episode, a lot of folks on this season were just genuinely nice people. And when it seems like the world is full of not-so-nice people more and more lately, sometimes it's stress relieving to just watch nice people make cool stuff on TV.

Okay, now for the Best Stuff. I dragged Kathy and Manda to the middle of nowhere, Washington State, to go on a hike for my birthday. And I mean real middle of nowhere. Probably the most middle of nowhere I've dragged other people to for a hike, ever. Lower Lewis Falls is in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest on the outskirts of Mt. St. Helens land, and even with its middle of nowhere-ness, this was a real nice day. The weather was nice, I got to play all my favorite music in the car, the hike was interesting and cool but not TOO strenuous, there was fall color, JP got to come with us, we had a really cool viewpoint of Mt. St. Helens on the way back, it was just nice.

So. Let me tell you. We saw Hanson this month, but I really wasn't THAT enthused about it beforehand. First of all, Hanson are all kind of assholes now. Second of all, I haven't listened to any of their new music in years (and yes, they ARE still coming out with new music--like, all the time--like, probably too much--for those people out there who are somehow NOT in tune with the Hanson universe). Third of all, this was a weird ass tour where they came to each city for two nights in a row and you HAD TO BUY TICKETS FOR BOTH NIGHTS. It was their "Roots of Rock and Roll" tour lololol and one night would be mostly cover songs and another would be "classic Hanson hits" lololol. And the combined ticket price was pretty pricey, way more than I'd normally pay for a concert these days.

BUT, because it is our legacy, we went. And oh man. Oh man oh man was I SO FUCKING HAPPY for the duration of a few hours for both of those nights. CURSE YOU HANSON, YOUR MAGIC STILL WORKS. I'm such a loser for even trying to be sarcastic about this because for instance, I just mocked their pretentious title of this tour, but it comes from an actual line in one of their songs, "Been There Before," and when I screamed along with it on one of those nights: "Does it fill your heart and soul with the roots of rock and roll?"  all I felt was YES! YES IT DOES!

On the second night, while dancing and drinking and singing along, I spent a lot of time writing a letter inside my head to my current favorite high school students, a letter that I was firmly planning on writing as soon as I got home but never sending, to the ones who love One Direction and Twenty One Pilots so fiercely. I was going to tell them--never be ashamed of your fandom, because I know what it feels like, and that feeling is so necessary when you're young. And one day, when you're in your 30s, maybe you'll still be going to One Direction shows, and you'll remember that feeling, of freedom and joy and being alive, and it will be just the same, and you will be so, so grateful for it, because for so many 30 year olds--for you, most of the time--it is a feeling that is almost entirely forgotten. I never wrote the letter, of course, which is a shame because I know I said it all so much better in my head when I was there, when it was all right there. But now I'm back to being a normal grown up, and the forgetting happens so quickly these days.

I feel like I don't normally include so many selfies in these Best Of posts, but I had a lot of really happy selfie times this month. Apparently my go-to happy selfie pose is to open my mouth really wide. Which I'm okay with. Because why not?

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