Patriotic? Maybe Not This Year

Somewhere, I know there is a photo of me taken at a Bicentennial parade looking patriotic in an over-the-top sort of way. I’m wearing red, white, and blue clothing and waving an American flag. My tricycle is decked out in paper streamers, and a sign is taped to the back of my seat that reads  “Happy Birthday, America!” The only thing missing is a bald eagle flying above me in the sky.

I was about five years old, and the times were much simpler.

This year, I wasn’t in the mood for fireworks or singing about the land of the free. I did grill some burgers and dogs for dinner tonight, but that’s because we have to eat. And, I always appreciate a three-day weekend. But, in light of the U.S. Supreme Court rulings this past month, I’m not feeling particularly festive. I’m not going to get into politics here. But, in general, my rights as a Jewish American woman have been infringed upon. This country is supposed to be built on freedom of religion, but the line between church and state – that I count on – has been blurred beyond recognition. And it’s not a good feeling, to say the least.

But, while I’m not feeling patriotic, I am grateful. Grateful to live in a country where there is still freedom of speech so that I can say these things on my blog or in person and not fear punishment. Backlash on social media, maybe…but not punishment.

Maybe there will be something to celebrate next year, but I just can’t get there today. Maybe next year, there will be liberty and justice for all.

June Book Report

Summertime is my favorite time to read, but this month has been slow going as I make my way down my endless TBR pile. Between a busy work schedule and my son’s high school graduation (and all the festivities around it), there hasn’t been much time for reading. I typically average around four books per month but only managed to finish two. Too bad listening to podcasts doesn’t count toward my Goodreads goal because I’d be way ahead of the game by now. But, maybe there is something to be said for slowing down and enjoying some quiet time while sitting by a beautiful lake with a book in hand. Wherever you are reading this summer, I hope it is something that you love.

Here is what I read last month:

In Every Mirror, She’s Black

One of my 2022 reading goals is to pick up more titles written by People of Color. I want to learn about other people’s experiences, expose myself to different cultures, and – as always – dive into compelling stories. My first attempt at this was when I tried to read “The Other Black Girl” – a bestselling, genre-bending novel that everyone raved about last summer. Unfortunately, I had to DNF it more than halfway through the book. I tried to like it, but I was so confused by the storyline and couldn’t keep the characters straight. After a while, I became frustrated and threw the book onto the couch.* I had to physically and mentally let it go.

Thankfully, the next book I tried was a much better fit. “Black Cake” was released earlier this year, and I loved it. I also read, finished, and loved “The Personal Librarian” and “We Are Not Like Them.”  And then, I picked up this novel, “In Every Mirror, She’s Black,” and my winning streak came to a screeching halt. Set in Sweden, three women find themselves connected to one wealthy man in different ways – two work for him, and the other falls in love with him. The minefield of microaggressions they experienced was quite clear to me, even though it wasn’t as obvious to them. I wanted to yell at the characters, but I knew they couldn’t hear me. They aren’t real – after all.

The one thing I will say about this book is that it reconfirmed my philosophy about DNF-ing books. While I did finish this book, I only did so because I was invested in one of the three characters and wanted to see her story play out. The other two women made bad choices and constantly put themselves in no-win situations that annoyed me profusely. Because I felt compelled to finish this book, I wasted a lot of time not reading and enjoying much better stories.

Bomb Shelter

To me, a great memoir doesn’t necessarily have to be written by a celebrity. In fact, there have been many times that I’ve picked them up, hoping for all of the juicy details and have been either thrilled or vastly disappointed. But, they are fast and fun beach reads. If you need a recommendation, I have a few titles I can share with you.

Meanwhile, this memoir is written by a bestselling author who shares my sense of humor, level of parental anxiety, and positive outlook on life. We are both middle age and have two children who are about to launch into the world. We both are trying our best to support them and guide them without interfering in their lives – which is a thin line to walk sometimes. Her musings about motherhood and marriage validate my own choices while also looking optimistically at the future.

The other thing I liked about this memoir was the format she used. It isn’t often that a memoir is written in personal essay form – almost like a blog post. Each chapter tells a different story, and they don’t necessarily connect to each other or follow a timeline. But she weaves together a relatable series of moments that any woman of a certain age (or man for that matter) would be unable to put down.

In the Middle

I’m in the middle of a bunch of different books right now. Today, I downloaded Randy Rainbow’s memoir entitled “Playing with Myself” on Audible. Once I found out that he narrates his book, I could not merely download it on Kindle. If you are familiar with his work, you know that he is hilarious as well as charming and smart. I’m nine chapters in and have no doubt I will finish it tomorrow. And if you’ve never heard of this author before, I highly encourage you to visit his YouTube page – unless you are a fan of our 45th president, and then he might not be your cup of tea.

Another memoir I’m in the middle of is “Inheritance” by Dani Shapiro. I’ve been trying to finish it for a while. It is one of those books that I read a few chapters and then put down. I will finish it, but it is taking me longer than I thought.

Nonfiction books seem to be my jam lately because I am also just about done with “Stupid Things I Won’t Do When I Get Old” and “Can We Talk About Something More Pleasant?” More reviews to come next month.

Indie Bookstore Check-In

This month, I visited two independent bookstores. One was Reads and Company in Phoenixville, PA and the other was Inquiring Minds in New Paltz, NY. Both stores had plenty to choose from and were fun to walk through, but unfortunately, I wasn’t in the mood to buy anything. Knowing how long my TBR list was getting by the minute, it made more sense to visit and browse.

What are you reading lately? Recommend some books to me in the comments below. And if you are looking for something good to read this summer, let me know what you like. I’m happy to make some suggestions.

Happy reading!

Elisa

*No books were harmed while they were in my possession. 

Scenes from an Inbox

If you feel like you are being bombarded with advertisements from the moment you wake up until bedtime, you are absolutely right. Whether it is a fancy car commercial in the middle enjoying Stephen Colbert’s monologue on YouTube or a flyer on my windshield for a local arts festival, I cannot escape someone trying to sell me something.

Last week, I asked my husband to add Dove soap to our shopping list, not realizing our house was bugged – or more likely, Alexa was eavesdropping again. That bitch. For the rest of the day, my FB page and Yahoo inbox were inundated with soap and body wash ads.

Speaking of my inbox, here is what I found this morning:

  • My alma mater is soliciting donations to the university by the end of the month so that I can receive my exclusive address labels. Tempting! (NOT!)
  • A cluster of spam emails featuring Fourth of July sales on patio furniture, must-have BBQ tools, and swimming pool accessories. By the way, we don’t have a pool.
  • Oh, look! Starbucks is giving away four chances to win four cars if I sign up for their rewards program today.
  • PA Conference for Women informs me about their brand-new ticketing system (“Just like the one Hamilton uses”) for its upcoming conference.
  • ServicePlus (who?) offers me a free quote for a home warranty.
  • UberEats will help cure my lunchtime cravings with a $25 gift card when purchasing something at one of these fine stores.

As if that weren’t enough, an obnoxious and intrusive pop-up window appeared out of nowhere from Yahoo advertising the benefits of their “premium email service” Apparently, I can enjoy an ad-free experience. It sounded too good to be true. And guess what, it is.

I read the fine print. Paying for this premium service is like putting a useless wet bandaid on Big Brother’s big toe. Even if I decided to pay $60 a year for this service, it is only available for “eligible subscriptions.” Just like when I want to buy a tube of Smashbox Original Photo Finish Smooth and Blur primer with an Ulta coupon and am told at the register that all the brand items are excluded. So, a completely ad-free inbox is what it sounds like – another advertisement.

Big Brother will always find me. Lately, he has been living on my Facebook page disguised as 80s nostalgia clickbait articles (my Kryptonite).

One time, Big Brother followed me into the parking lot outside Nordstroms at the King of Prussia mall after I bought Jenna’s senior prom dress. I specifically remember paying cash and not providing my email at checkout, leaving no breadcrumbs behind. I was smart enough to know that any evidence of being there increased my chances of receiving department store advertisements. It didn’t work. BB scoped out the map coordinates on my cell phone and chased me to my car, armed with coupons via text message for my next visit.

Friends, there is no escape. And if I sound like a bitter, empty nester as I’m writing this, I apologize. As you read in yesterday’s blog post, I have a to-do list a mile long and no time for these distractions. The irony is that email marketing is a big part of my day job as a nonprofit communications professional. But, the emails I send are for interested parties. I don’t buy lists or sell my contact list to other organizations. I appreciate their willingness to give me their email address, and in return, I do my best to be respectful and not fill up their inbox with junk mail. I religiously check my unsubscribe rate and am happy to report that it is low – which means I guess I’m good at my job. 🙂

So, where does Big Brother visit you the most – in your inbox, on your windshield, or someplace else? Inquiring minds want to know.

XO,

Elisa

1 2 3 113

%d bloggers like this: