The return

I don’t know that I’ve ever intentionally taken a blogging break. I know some much better bloggers than I who will announce, “You know, life’s gonna get kinda busy. See you on the other side!” I’m stubborn, it’s true, but I’m also not stubborn enough to keep blogging when things are too hard. So I took a break and it was probably for the best, but I’m back now and thrilled to be here.

Unfortunately for my pride, the last time I was blogging regularly I was telling you about how I was going to blog more, not significantly less. I had just started a new job and I had it in my head that job = structure = more designated blogging time! This is my first real 9-5 job, plus an hour commute on both sides. I’m out of the apartment for at least 10 hours a day, if not more. Somehow, in my silly naive head, I kept thinking that this would mean that I would structure my time better. That I wouldn’t find myself struggling to blog out of laziness, because I would only have 3 hours a night! So, clearly, blogging would take up one of those hours. Right guys? Right?

I’m sure there were some of you who were too polite to wonder at my logic publicly, but might have done a little head shaking and chuckling to yourselves. I do that now when I think back to my thought process those short two months ago. The reality is that I would come home bone tired most days. I don’t want this to sound like whining, because it’s not. I’m eternally grateful for my job and I really love it, but I don’t think I was prepared for how hard the transition would be. It’s not like I haven’t had long hours before, I have. I was in school, I had two jobs. That’s a lot of hours, but they were flexible and they were, mostly, on my terms. It’s different now, but in many ways it’s nice. I leave my work at work and there’s no more working on the weekends. I’ll admit, though, there’s just been a lot of change recently. Slowly, I’m starting to feel like myself again, but for a while I was just tired all the time.

It’s hard to admit that. It’s hard to admit that when everything is going right, you can still feel so tired. So I did what I needed to do to feel relaxed when I got home – I cooked dinner, I spent time with Z, I talked to friends on the phone, I read, I watched some television. Some nights I went to bed at 8:30. Really.

I’ve missed blogging. I’ve missed the simple act of talking about books and, most of all, you. I’ve joined a book club. I’ve been reading plenty. I’ve got plenty of blog posts to think about and write. Now, I’m starting to come home and feel energized, ready to do something, and that’s a huge change. I’ve spoken to a few other friends who left grad school last year who said the same thing – the transition is hard, but you get over it. Maybe that’s true of any change – for a while it consumes you, but it will, I promise, spit the real you back out eventually.

So I’m sorry, readers, that I promised you something I wasn’t ready for, but I’m not sorry I took a break. The blogging that I did do during the past two months was mediocre (or scheduled very long ago), and it’s better if I’m feeling tired of it or too busy if I just let the blog stay quiet for a while. Sometimes I think that promising to do something on the blog makes me more likely to fail in some kind of backwards self-fulfilling prophecy, but maybe it was just bad timing. I’m feeling a little superstitious about it right now, so I think I’ll just say that there are some things in the works and they are great things and I will talk about them more when I can, but for now, let’s just get back to normal blogging. To posting when I can (hopefully more than once a week), to writing posts I’m proud of, to getting the conversation started.

My God, What Have We Done by Susan V. Weiss

There are certain things that you learn about a blogger the longer you read their reviews. I hope you know, for instance, that I don’t mind not finishing a book. I don’t mind discarding a book if it’s not keeping my attention, but it’s a lot harder to justify doing that for a blog tour. So I tried. I really tried very hard to finish My God, What Have We Done, but I just got to the point where I realized that I was spending so much of time convincing myself to read the book, convincing myself to just pick it up and read. It just wasn’t worth it after a while. I read almost 200 pages and I just don’t think my reaction would be any different after nearly 500. Frankly, as soon as I made the decision not to finish the book, I felt relieved.

I think where My God, What Have We Done failed was twofold. First, the connection with Oppenheimer and the Manhattan project would have been as poignant without the unnecessary sections that tried to detail Oppenheimer’s life. Unfortunately those sections were dry and, beyond not holding my attention, were also unbelievable. I’m sure Weiss did a significant amount of research, but I just couldn’t find it in myself to believe the way she told the story. I could turn to any of these pages and point to woody dialogue, awkward phrasing, characters that simply didn’t feel real.

I’ve been reading the reviews of this one on the tour to see if other bloggers felt similarly. I was especially interested in Steph’s review, in which she expressed extreme dislike for Pauline. And while I have to agree that I didn’t necessarily like Pauline, I actually enjoyed reading about her. Especially after the birth of Jasper, I thought Weiss hit her stride describing the life and attitude of Pauline as a mother. If this had been the tone of the entire novel, I certainly would have kept reading, even though the sections with Pauline as a narrator were not without fault. The nonlinear timing of the story could have been a useful storytelling tactic, but instead felt gimmicky and confusing. Pauline is a frustrating narrator, but at least she is consistent and most of all, I believed in her and her voice. Like Steph, I found myself skipping over the sections that described Oppenheimer and his life almost completely. I would skim here and there for important information, but I wouldn’t spend too much time on them.

I hate to not finish a book for a tour, but I don’t think reading the last 300 pages of this one would have given me any different a perspective than the first 200. Pauline’s obsession with Oppenheimer was interesting, but I think, in the end, her point is obvious and a little heavy handed. But Pauline is the kind of person who would love a heavy handed metaphor, so maybe it works.

Thank you TLC Book Tours for sending me this book to review. You can find out more about the tour, including past and future tour stops, here

Poetry Wednesday – Louise Glück (2)

All Hallows
by Louise Glück

Even now this landscape is assembling.
The hills darken. The oxen
sleep in their blue yoke,
the fields having been
picked clean, the sheaves
bound evenly and piled at the roadside
among cinquefoil, as the toothed moon rises:
This is the barrenness
of harvest or pestilence.
And the wife leaning out the window
with her hand extended, as in payment,
and the seeds
distinct, gold, calling
Come here
Come here, little one
And the soul creeps out of the tree.
I know I’ve featured Louise Glück on Poetry Wednesday before, but when I came up with the idea to do a series of creepy poems for October, this one was easily my favorite. It’s chilling, frightening and all the things that a good Halloween poem should be, but it doesn’t seem to actually be about something frightening. Like the last poem we discussed by Glück, it’s hard to pinpoint exactly what she is referring to, but that goes well with the transformative nature of autumn. There is no difference between the sight of a field barren from harvest and barren from pestilence. In the same way a tree becomes bare and different, the simple imagery of a woman leaning out her window becomes sinister. And that last line! I’m not exactly sure what it’s referring to, though it could be as simple as the leaves falling from the tree, but the way it is written certainly gave me chills!