Monday, March 14, 2016

Best : January 2016.

All right, 2016! Three months in and I'm already way behind! Today marks the first time I've actually turned on my computer at all in at least a month. I keep telling myself I can be good at my Library/School Life AND my Personal/Writing Life at the same time but it keeps not working out that way. IT'S FINE. I'M HERE NOW SO THE SOONER I START THE MORE I'LL GET BACK INTO THE HABIT AND THEN I'LL BE SUPER ON TOP OF EVERYTHING FOREVER. NO, I DON'T REALLY KNOW WHY I'M TYPING THIS ALL IN CAPS, BUT I HOPE I GOT YOUR ATTENTION!

My two favorite books of January were both National Book Award finalists, so basically the National Book Award committee and me are likethis. Bone Gap also ended up winning the Printz Award this year, and while I'm not always crazy about Printz winners, I was totally, totally down with this one. Combined with my love of last year's Printz winner (I'll Give You the Sun), the Printz ain't doing so bad lately! Most Dangerous also won the YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction this year. What I'm saying is, good job award committees, and me, for being geniuses!

Most Dangerous's full subtitle is Daniel Ellsberg and the Secret History of the Vietnam War, and it is essentially a history of what eventually became the Pentagon Papers. I love Steve Sheinkin and would read anything he writes ever. This is one of his longest books for teens thus far, and it's because that history of how the Pentagon Papers came to be is so long and complicated and frustrating. I also think this book is important because how many high school US History classes actually get to the Vietnam War? I'd say a majority are lucky if they can get all the way through World War II. I didn't know a heck of a lot of the information in here, either, and it's such a fascinating, devastating, important, and foretelling part of our national identity.

Even though it's pretty clear Sheinkin sympathizes with Ellsberg here, this could also result in some great discussions about whether what he did was right, or moral, or legal. What I'm saying is, people should read it!

Bone Gap, on the other hand, is hard to describe--it's great YA magical realism in that it blends the fantastical with the very real, and there's mystery, and romance, and really interesting characters, and most of all, a really vivid setting and sense of place and atmosphere that I got totally sucked up into and didn't want to let go.

Plus, you know this book has got to be good when I will so readily profess my love for it even though it has a BEE on the cover and I REALLY REALLY HATE BEES. One of the main characters is a BEEKEEPER and I still liked her despite that! I basically just tried to block all the bee descriptions out of my head and it was fine. Kind of. Why am I writing this paragraph. It's making me think about bees and I HATE BEES. 

I made a few decent meals this month, but one of the prettiest looking ones were these buffalo turkey lettuce wraps. Also pretty healthy!....except for when I smothered them in blue cheese.

I already outlined my love of The Things I Regret back in November, but this month on a couple long drives I finally got to really listen to this album as a whole, and it is so full of life and joy and fire and I love it all. I'd go far enough to say it's one of my fave Brandi albums ever. Ever!

Jill's Top 5 Tracks:
5. Mainstream Kid
4. Wherever is Your Heart
3. The Stranger at My Door
2. Murder in the City
1. The Things I Regret

January marked the beginning of my "training" for Oregon PCT 2016, a month-long hike I'm hoping to accomplish in July. This first month of training involved a 7.5 mile stroll along the Clackamas River Trail, the longest hike I'd ever done at that point, as well as starting on my mini-goal of hiking the entire 30 mile Wildwood Trail in Portland, which I'm almost done with now. I really need to start documenting everything in more detail on my hiking blog, but I think this was a good start to the year, especially the Clackamas River Trail, which presented some challenges that it felt good to work through.

Right now, I go through periods of working out a lot and feeling strong and focused and like I GOT THIS, and then I'll go a week without exercising at all but instead eating a lot of fast food and sitting on my ass, and I start to feel like I DON'T got this. I think the more I document my efforts and my plans and my feels about Oregon PCT 2016, the more motivated I'll become. This is me writing a paragraph all about how I need to be writing a lot more paragraphs about what this paragraph is about. Hope you liked it!

A couple other fun things from this month!

As a belated celebration of Kathy's birthday/Christmas/New Year's, we had a LEGIT DATE NIGHT downtown, and it was super fun! We got drinks at Henry's and then delicious pasta at the hip and delicious Grassa. Did you guys know spending time with the one you love in places that you love is super fun? Well, it is!

Took a couple of fun weekend trips in Jan Jan, including a trip to Eugene to strategize PCT-ness with Cliff, and a trip to Seattle that was principally for a librarian training but REALLY so that I could hang out with Ashley and Kelly. I sadly didn't take any pictures of Ashley and Kelly being the greatest pals, but they did take me to Ada's Technical Books & Cafe, which is my newest favoritest Seattle place. A month where I got to go to Eugene AND Seattle is a good month because THE BEST people live in Eugene and Seattle.

The most momentous part of January, of course, was the kickoff of The Year of the Puppy. After our soulmate JP passed away in December, Kathy and I waited a whole few weeks until we couldn't stand it anymore and needed a new doggy companion. The day we got Fury, the pup on the right here, was one of the more stressful and anxiety-inducing days of my life, but it was worth it. To be fair, Fury isn't truly a puppy, probably landing somewhere a little under a year old when we adopted her, but she's definitely the youngest pup we've ever had. She's extremely different from JP, and Toby--she's tiny, she's timid, she's lazy, she likes other dogs. She also had a damaged foot that had to be amputated, so she's also the first three-legged dog we've owned! If I tried to capture how I was really feeling about Fury at the end of January, it'd probably be a little weirded out still, a little nervous, a little upset that she wasn't all the things I'm used to in a dog. I still miss JP, a lot, who was something special. With each week that goes by, though, I realize how special Fury is, too, and she reveals herself a little bit more to us, and I can now clearly see the chunk of my heart that she will end up occupying growing bigger and bigger and bigger.

Manda also got a pup in January--a legit wild, crazy pup--and that's the monster on the left. Tegan and Fury are the bestest of friends, and Manda has put in so much time and effort and sanity to help mold this munchkin into something amazing. She's already grown so much since this photo was taken, and I CANNOT WAIT to take her on runs and hikes and adventures!

2016 is going to be something special, y'all.