Other New (sort of) Stuff

This September, I made two decisions, one of them being a major, life-changing decision. My older son has been alive for over ten years, and he has been asking me for a dog for almost that long. I had always resisted. Even though I grew up with many dogs (hard to remember, but maybe six), I only had a good relationship with one of them. Of the others, four barely tolerated me, and two actively hated me. Years went by, and I started to develop allergies to various animals. I’d sneeze all the time, but if a dog licked me, I would break out in a painful rash in that spot. Hence my hesitation. Also, I didn’t want to get a dog to just spend only about four hours a day with it (already did that with my kids).

Four months old and teething!

Then I started working from home and was home all the time with my kids (you know why–I don’t have to say it, right?). And I thought if I were to get a hypoallergenic dog, I could manage. And then I mentioned it to the kids and could no longer back out. So in September, we added Ms Ziggy Stardust the Wheaten Terrier to our family. She was only three months and I realized I’ve never had a puppy before, and it was almost as overwhelming as having a newborn human for the first month or so.

After a recent haircut. She looks like she’s sad about the bow, but she really just wants a treat!

Now, she is seven months old and almost a doggie teenager (I think?). My kids hug her fifty seven times a day, and she gets so excited when I put on my shoes, and loves laying on top of me to take a nap. I cannot imagine my life without her. I can’t wait to take her to the beach and camping!

More colorful than ever!

Also, the day before I met Ziggy, I dyed my hair blue! I’ve always wanted to dye my hair an unnatural color, and it was very freeing and self-actualizing to do it. It was also fun to go, in 24 hours, from a redhead without a dog to a blue-haired person with a dog. I occasionally like to shock my brain in such a way. Don’t be complacent, brain! Most recently, I dyed the front part purple for some more color, and I really like it!

Book List for 2020

In 2019, I read 70 books. In 2020, I read just 30 books. I had a really hard time concentrating on reading, and the time that I had previously reserved for reading (during my commute) was no longer a time that ever happened. Regardless, these are the few books I read this year. While I hope to continue to never commute in 2021, I do intend to find other moments to read.

If the libraries ever reopen, maybe I’ll send them my fancy poster.
  1. Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, by Susan Cain. 4 Stars. First book of 2020! I picked up this book in the hopes that it would confirm or refute my theory that I’m an introvert. I think I’m an introvert?
  2. The Family Upstairs, by Lisa Jewell. 3 stars. It was a fun afternoon read but nothing terrific.
  3. A River in Darkness: One Man’s Escape from North Korea, by Masaji Ishikawa. 4 stars. One true and very depressing but well-told story.
  4. Sunny Rolls the Dice, by Jennifer L Holm. 4 stars. This is a graphic novel I bought for Samir. As he gets older, his reading materials get more interesting. This was about a girl in the 1980s playing D&D with a bunch of guys. Some of us have already been there in real life!
  5. As I Lay Dying, by William Faulkner. 4 stars. There is something overly dramatic about reading this while in bed with the flu that I appreciate (note that this was read in January).
  6. Chronicle of a Death Foretold, by Gabriel José de la Concordia García Márquez. 4 stars. I was over being sick, so this wasn’t as dramatic, but I enjoyed the reverse murder mystery of it all.
  7. The Witches: Salem 1692, by Stacy Schiff. 4 stars. This is a dense tome about the Salem Witch Trials, a period of history that has always held my interest.
  8. Journey into the Whirlwind, by Evgenia Ginzburg. 4 stars. This is a nonfiction book about a woman’s life in Stalin’s Russian prisons and labor camps. Compelling and depressing.
  9. Hex Wives, by Ben Blacker. 3 stars. A graphic novel about witches that is nowhere near as good as the new Sabrina.
  10. Gardening Basics, Time-Life Books. 4 stars. Yes, I did read this from cover-to-cover and it was very helpful.
  11. Fake Blood, by Whitney Gardner. 3 stars. My son got this graphic novel from the library. It looked interesting, but I can’t remember much, so I guess it was not all that interesting?
  12. A People’s Tragedy: A History of the Russian Revolution, by Orlando Figes. 3 stars. Honestly, I cannot really remember what prompted me to borrow this from the library last February.
  13. The Mechanical, by Ian Tregillis. 4 stars. I don’t read a lot of fantasy, but this was really great, and I’m reminded I want to read the next book in the series whenever the libraries in NYC reopen.
  14. Graveyard Shakes, by Laura Terry. 3 stars. Another book my son got out from the library.
  15. Compost, by Clare Foster. 3 stars. Can you tell I tried composting last year?
  16. The Garden Organic Book of Compost, by Pauline Pears. 4 stars. I guess I liked this one a bit more.
  17. The Upright Thinkers: The Human Journey from Living in Trees to Understand the Cosmos, by Leonard Mlodinow. 5 stars. Super interesting book about human evolution. The last book I read on the subway.
  18. Cat Among the Pigeons, by Agatha Christie. 3 stars. It had been awhile since I read a Christie. Always entertaining.
  19. An Elderly Lady is Up to No Good, by Helene Tursten. 2 stars. I read this for a book club, but I didn’t like it.
  20. The Plague, by Albert Camus. 4 stars. Because sometimes it’s best to lean into things? The plague in this book lasted only three months.
  21. Pax, by Sara Pennypacker. 5 stars. My husband bought this book for my son, but a lot of very disturbing things happen right at the beginning and he refused to read further. I loved it, though.
  22. Then She Was Gone, by Lisa Jewell. 3 stars. I read this for a book club and enjoyed it.
  23. Piranesi, by Susanna Clark. 5 stars. I really enjoyed this book and was sad it was so short and thus over so soon.
  24. Stealing Home, by Sherryl Woods. 1 star. I read this for a book club but it is absolutely not to my taste. Every character was awful.
  25. Crooked House, by Agatha Christie. 3 stars. A fun afternoon read.
  26. Tomboyland: Essays, by Melissa Faliveno. 4 stars. I usually don’t read books of essays but this was free for Pride Month and I really enjoyed it.
  27. Out of the Silence: After the Crash, by Edwardo Strauch Urioste. 4 stars. For some reason, I’ve always had a mild obsession with the Uruguayan rugby team whose plane crashed into the Andes in 1972. This book was actually really beautiful, especially when the author spoke of having a spiritual connection to the Andes.
  28. Sapiens: A Graphic History: The Birth of Humankind, by David Vandermeulen. 5 stars. I got this for my son, but I think it’s above his head for a few more years. I want to buy the actual book as well.
  29. I Want To Be Where the Normal People Are, by Rachel Bloom. 4 stars. An autobiography. I think I’ve read very few of those.
  30. The Jungle, by Upton Sinclair. 3 stars. I think I missed reading this in high school, so I thought I would give it a shot. That said, I didn’t love it.