It has now been five months to the day since quarantine began. That really sneaked up on me, just like the two-month mark did. (Also apparently I thought May was three months from quarantine start when it was in fact two months wtf me??? That’s been fixed now but I still don’t know how I did that ?) I was originally planning this post as just a middle-of-the-month reading update but then life got in the way and I got ambitious, so now we’re looking at a middle-of-the-month quarantine update. Sorry not sorry.
Requiem for an Office
I cleaned out my work desk on Friday – not because I’ve been fired, but because my team is going 100% remote and our office space is being eliminated. It’s a bit of a bummer because I loved this office and I’ll miss seeing my coworkers in person and going on our morning coffee runs, but I’d rather have the job than the office.
I actually took this photo after I cleaned out my desk for the first time (when we first went into quarantine), but I never found a way to work it into whatever posts I was writing at the time so it’s been sitting around in my folder since March. I’ll miss this desk; I got to pick it out myself, and it was my first window seat. I’ll also miss those monitors because they got taken away before I had a chance to grab one, but I suppose that’s life.
I don’t know what I was expecting when I went in, but Friday was almost surreal because I was on some level thinking I’d find everything exactly as I’d left it but instead found our space covered with boxes and styrofoam rolls. Then there was the work room, where we used to print and bind until that all got moved down to our other office. I was not prepared for this.
I mean okay that printer was a gigantic pain in the ass when it wanted to be but I liked printing and I’m going to miss this equipment ? On the bright side, I remembered to get a quick pic of the Dilbert cartoon that’s graced the work room door for as long as I’ve been with this company:
Now I just have to figure out what to do with all this crap I hauled home.
When I told my contracting company I had a few things at my desk to take home, that didn’t quite cover it. I thought I was going to find maybe some loose scrap paper, a package of Cheetos, and a handful of magnets I didn’t take home in March. What I actually found was the Cheetos, a few microwavable ramen bowls, a few magnets, a shit ton of scrap paper, three pairs of shoes, and a lot of office supplies that I was planning to leave but ended up bringing home because all of the office supplies were up for grabs and my Chinese genes took over and said “WELP IT’S FREE” so here we are. You can never have too many staplers, right? (Also I brought my mom to the office to help me carry off the monitor and she apologized to my boss for my Chinese blood while I was busy shopping through all the free stuff and making off with as much free printer paper as I could carry……….good times. I am not sorry. #AsianProblems)
I was originally planning to take home one of the two gorgeous Samsung monitors I’d been using in the office, but sadly those sprouted little legs and walked off before I got there, so I instead made off with one of the iMacs that had been left behind. (Not complaining, it’s still bigger than my home monitor. Of course, it’s probably going to spend the week sitting on my side table covered with a towel because I’m too tired right now to even think about rearranging my workspace.)
If this isn’t a metaphor for my whole damn life, I don’t know what is.
August Reading Update
Not that I was exactly expecting to reach the dazzling heights I achieved when I basically had the whole month off in July, but I’m mildly disappointed with myself this month. My resolution to read 100+ pages per day has mostly held, but I’ve really been slacking off the last few days (translation: haven’t picked up a book since the 21 pages I read on Thursday). I’m currently at four books finished and 1,251 pages read. At this time last month I had finished eight books and read 2,828 pages (thank you, Google Sheets), so I’m going to have to put down Super Mario World and pick up my damn books again. On the bright side, those four books were all from my August TBR, which I’m pretty happy about.
Monsieur Pamplemousse on the Spot
I was right. This was super cute and surprisingly funny. I actually wasn’t able to read this all in one day, so August got off to kind of a lumpy start, but I did finish the book on the second day. Monsieur Pamplemousse is a French food inspector/detective with a bloodhound named Pomme Frites (“french fries”), who gorges himself at a hotel pig trough and has to be rolled around in a wheelbarrow for a couple of chapters. There were some dated ideas about race, but the book was written in the 80s, so I can live with it (or at least can’t do anything about it). This was #3 in a series of 18, so I’ll be keeping an eye out for the first two books. Unfortunately Monsieur Pamplemousse appears to be out of print and available only in electronic format, but I might get lucky at one of the secondhand bookstores.
The Year of the Witching
This was a really good read. If you’re at all into witches, dark fantasies, and women who defy their puritanical societies, I highly recommend this book. The Year of the Witching centers around Immanuelle Moore, a young woman descended from witches, who lives in a tightly controlled, church-ruled land called Bethel. She is an outsider, owing to her race and the crimes committed by her late mother, but tries to adhere to Bethel’s laws until she stumbles across a coven of four witches’ ghosts in the Darkwood, the forbidden forest next to her house. When the witches unleash a series of plagues on Bethel, Immanuelle discovers powers she never knew she had. Could I have done without the romance with Ezra? Yes, of course I could. However, it is what it is, and I still really enjoyed the book. My biggest complaint is that I wish we could’ve seen more of Vera Ward, Immanuelle’s badass grandmother. Maybe there’ll be a sequel? ?
A River in Darkness: One Man’s Escape from North Korea
This book was just depressing. I don’t have much to say about it that I haven’t already said, except that I’ve taken out another book on surviving in and escaping from North Korea because apparently I’m a masochist.
Sharks in the Time of Saviors
Kawai Strong Washburn
I really need to stop picking out favorite books but I can’t really stop myself and THIS BOOK WAS SO GOOD. This has been my favorite book so far this month. I loved the supernatural aspect of it. I loved the use of Hawaiian/Japanese words that I grew up with. That being said, this book is not for the faint of heart. I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t heartbreaking. One of the most pervasive themes is the anger against the people who completely took over Hawai’i and turned it into a vacation home for the rich, in the process making life unaffordable for real Hawaiians. As a result, the characters struggle with poverty, the desire to be better, and the all-consuming idea that they will never be able to rise from their current stations. Seriously, go read it. It’s so good.
I’m currently working on these two monstrosities:
If I can finish these before they go back to the library at the end of the month I’ll be satisfied. The Map of Time (Félix J. Palma) is really interesting and I’m a sucker for Victorian books, with bonus points if they include Jack the Ripper, which this one does. My mom read the whole trilogy and liked it, so I decided I’d give it a try. It’s not difficult to read and it’s supposed to be full of literary figures, so I don’t anticipate any difficulties finishing it this week, as long as I can sit my ass down and focus long enough to read it.
On the other end of the difficulty spectrum, I’m having real trouble concentrating on The Name of the Rose (Umberto Eco) and I’m not sure why. I’ve been enjoying it so far. There’s a paragraph where the narrator basically describes Benedict Cumberbatch, and I am here for it. The book was clearly at least partially inspired by Sherlock Holmes, and I’m here for that too. The prose isn’t particularly difficult to follow. It’s nowhere near the level of struggle I habitually have with pretty much anything written by Vladimir Nabokov, but I’ve been reading and rereading the same sentences over and over again because for some reason they’re just not going in. This has sort of sapped my motivation, and it’s been frustrating trying to get through Rose even though I know I shouldn’t be having any trouble with it. Maybe I should stop reading it at night. I might have better luck during the day, when I’m not as tired. The good news is that today I kicked off a two-week readathon in my goodreads group and I always do well in readathons because OCD, so I’m expecting that I’ll be more motivated and focused for the rest of the month.
In other news, these are the first two books I’ve borrowed from the library since probably March! The libraries aren’t just open for drop-offs anymore; they’re also doing contact-free pick-ups, where you put a book on hold and then schedule a pick-up appointment. When it’s time for your appointment, the library staff will put your book(s) in a bag and leave the bag on a table out front. It’s a really good system because you don’t have to schedule multiple appointments – if another one of your holds is ready by the time of your appointment, they’ll include it in your bag automatically. Lucky for me, The Name of the Rose was ready in time, so I didn’t have to make a separate trip to get it.
The only thing is, is it just me or does this look like a Hunger Games feast? Like literally I got there and I was like do I wait in my car or do I hide in the bushes so I can grab my books from the Cornucopia before the Careers get there ??? (sry I’m a nerd but you knew that)
Reading difficulties aside, this has actually been a fairly eventful month book-wise, because I also visited the new Rockville Barnes & Noble for the first time and holy shit I want to live there I mean just look at the prettiesssssss ?❤️
Also for some reason Harry Potter has been translated into Latin? I died. (I didn’t actually buy the book because I never took Latin, but I was mildly tempted because that cover is gorgeous.)
And, of course, the obligatory book haul photo:
I marched into the store with a large tote and figured I’d stop once the tote was full, but clearly I didn’t plan very well because I could easily have got out with more than these and it was only by sheer force of will that I managed to stop at six. Before you give me more credit than I probably deserve for that, I should mention that I’m already plotting my next trip. I’ve been on the fence about this series, but I’ve finally decided to pick up The Poppy War (R.F. Kuang), which has been heavily promoted by Regan (PeruseProject), the one BookTuber I follow. The final book is coming out in November, so I’ll have plenty of time to read the first two books, even if they are about 700 pages each. The second book is called The Dragon Republic and idk if it actually has dragons but that’s a great title and I’m a sucker for dragons and I’m always looking for Asian authors to support, especially if they’re writing Asian-themed books, so I’m super excited about this series. As a major added bonus, Regan has said that the series portrays Western characters from a less flattering and more accurate point of view (i.e., not as White Saviors), to which I said SIGN ME UP. I might not even be able to wait till next weekend to visit the store again because I am a child and I’m getting myself seriously hyped ???
(also I cannot tell you how grateful I am to be working again because my book habits are not cheap #fail)
I take too many pictures of my dog. (The first photo is from 2014, but I found it while I was going through my old photos and I couldn’t resist because it’s one of my favorite pictures of her ?)
And the tuna kimchi stew I made a few weeks ago, which doesn’t look like much but was really, really good:
I’ve gotta get better at taking food photos cus this really doesn’t do it justice.
On an unrelated note, I’ve been watching Hamilton a lot lately and it’s really wormed its way into my heart. I wasn’t really sure what to make of it the first time I saw it, but then the songs started getting stuck in my head and after another couple of viewings I have a much better idea of what’s going on and I can pay closer attention to the details I missed out on the first time around. I’ve been watching Hamilton videos on YouTube all week, and I am O B S E S S E D with this gorgeous five-singer cover of Burn omg it’s SO GOOD I have no idea how many times I’ve watched this video now but I finally bought the song last night.
Final thought: sometimes it pays to read the YouTube comments, such as this one:
“moral of the story: don’t cheat on your wife or she will multiply and write a diss track”
Thank you, I am deceased. ???