January – April 2017 Reading

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I’m taking a break from hiking posts to share with you a 2017 new years resolution that I’ve been doing my best to follow through with: reading.

I set my reading goals for 2017 pretty high. I typically read like.. 2 books a year and set my goal at 2 books a MONTH! My pitiful two books a year is not because I don’t love reading, but because I never made time for reading. I realized that my standard “well I just need read a little every night before bed” is not a solution for me. If I’m tired and ready for bed and then I decide to focus on a story, either the story is boring and it lulls me to sleep immediately (Aka I retain nothing on the page that Im reading), OR the book is fantastic and I get sucked in. Like completely sucked in, to the point that I can’t go to sleep until I’ve finished the book (at 3am on a weeknight) and even then my adrenaline is too pumping to sleep. By doing this “read before bed” plan, I was setting myself up to fail and only read 2 books a year.

Once I made my 2017 resolution of reading 2 books a month, I was forced to take a look at these habits and figure out what wasn’t working, and then come up with a plan that works. For example, I now don’t start reading any books after 9:30pm, because if the book is good (which it should be) then I’ll be up all night. I find that the first part of books tend to be slower paced (introducing characters etc) so if I’m starting a new book it’s best done at 6pm when caffeine is still in my system and I’m more apt to absorb what I’m reading to get past the first few chapters until I get sucked into it.

Another thing I’ve discovered is AUDIOBOOKS. How am I just realizing this is a thing? Up until this past year I’d only ever listened to Tina Fey’s Bossypants as an audiobook on a road trip from Los Angeles to Las Vegas. I really just got that because I loved getting to hear Tina Fey read it to me, and I needed something to make the long drive go by faster.

Well, after getting my New Haven library card (another 2017 resolution) I’ve started going once a month to borrow a selection of audiobooks and I fly through them! I thought I would have trouble focusing on the book while driving, but it’s been the perfect solution for long car rides to Cape Cod and even for my 20 minute work commute. I’ve actually sat in bumper to bumper traffic and thought “thank god! I needed to find out what was going to happen next!”

January – April 2017 Audio Books:

The images above are a selection of audiobooks I’ve listened to on cd since the start of the year (there are even more than this!) and I’m super proud of myself. I’ve learned so much from all of these books and they’ve inspired me. Jon Krakauer’s Into Thin Air will make you feel like you are with him up on Mount Everest in this true story. He also wrote Under the Banner of Heaven which is a look at plural marriage, the history and it’s effects today. This book is especially relevant in 2017.

Betty White’s If You Ask Me (and of Course You Won’t), Mindy Kaling’s Why Not Me, and Nora Ephron’s I Feel Bad About My Neck are all really fun books to listen to by their author. Betty’s such an animal lover and listening to her on my way into work in the morning would start my day on the right foot. I’ve listened to a few of Nora Ephron’s books and her wit, wisdom and true stories are empowering. She led such an incredible life, and hearing her describe antidotes makes for really fun car listening. She has a few more books that I’m looking forward to listening to.

Steve Martin’s An Object of Beauty and Harper Lee’s Go Set a Watchman are the only fiction books I’ve read (although both are an accurate portrait of their time periods+ setting). I will say that with these plot driven books, it was a little more challenging to listen and not miss important details as I was driving. I did find myself re-listening to chapters to fully grasp the details while driving. Keep that in mind when you pick a genre of audiobook. Also who is reading the book can be helpful. For example Go Set A Watchman was read by Reese Witherspoon and her acting ability and natural southern accent made this book come to life.

Aziz Ansari’s Modern Romance was challenging as an audiobook due to all the charts and graphs that I couldn’t see (keep that in mind when picking a book). I Like You: Hospitality Under the Influence by Amy Sedaris was fantastic as an audiobook. Her character and charm made it really fun. I actually own the hard copy of this book but loved getting to hear Amy read it.

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Now as for my goal of “reading” (vs. audiobook) 2 books a month, I’m failing. I’m doing the best I can and I keep telling myself I’ll catch up.. but I’m behind. Given all the audiobooks I’ve listened to, I don’t feel like I’m failing, but I’ve only read 5 books since the start of the year.

I started the year reading Jessi Klein’s You’ll Grow Out Of It, which was really funny. She’s a successful, funny female who is completely relatable and I flew through this book. For Christmas I got Kristin Newman’s What I Was Doing While You Were Breeding, also written by a funny female comedian/comedy writer. This book is full of true travel stories from a female who lives in LA as a busy writer, but on hiatus lives it up traveling abroad. Warning: you’ll want to book a trip as soon as you’re done reading it (I totally booked a trip).

After two memoirs and a bunch of memoir audiobooks, I switched to a new genre and read The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware. It’s part of this genre of strong female leads (think Chicklit but smarter) involved in solving/committing a crime. It has a Big Little Lies/The Girl on the Train/Gone Girl feel and really pulls you in. I read this book over 3 days because it was hard to sleep without knowing how it would end.

Once I hit April and the weather got nice, it got a LOT harder to stay home to read. I ended up re-reading David Sedaris’ Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim because I needed something light and fun. I LOVE David Sedaris so much that when I get a new book of his I fly through them. I should probably re-read all of his books.

Lastly, I’m in the middle of reading The Room by Emma Donoghue (also a major film that has won Oscars). I basically read the first half in one night (another case of can’t-sleep-until-i read-more-itus) but have been stalling on the second half because I just know something bad is going to happen.. as all books have ups and downs.. I’m just stuck and scared to move forward. I will, I swear.. I just need to be brave 😉

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Lastly, I want to share some books that I’ve purchased, had for a while on my to-read list, and some pre-ordered books that aren’t out yet, all of which are on my list to read next.

In a Dark, Dark Wood was Ruth Ware’s book before The Girl in Cabin 10 and I’ve heard really good things about it. Into The Water also just came out and is the follow up book by Paula Hawkins, to The Girl on the Train. Both are in that mystery+ strong females category.

The Husband’s Secret is by Liane Moriarty who wrote Big Little Lies. This book I started to read but had a hard time getting through the first 50 pages (introductions). I’m sure it will be fantastic like Big Little Lies, I just need to push myself over the hump to get into the thick of the story.

We Are Never Meeting in Real Life by Samantha Irby and Theft By Finding by David Sedaris both come out at the end of May and I am SO excited. I wait years for a new David Sedaris book and it’s finally here. I imagine this is how some people feel watching the Olympics. Samantha Irby’s book was an impulse purchase and Im really looking forward to it. Not knowing much about her means it’s all going to be a fun surprise.

Anna Kendrick’s Scrappy Little Nobody, Lena Dunham’s Not That Kind of Girl, and Amy Schumer’s The Girl With the Lower Back Tattoo are all memoirs by funny women I admire and I imagine I’ll be reading these in-between my more intense crime books.

I’m sharing all of this not to brag, but to hopefully 1) inspire you to read more and 2) suggest some good books to you. Listening to audiobooks is now one of my favorite things, and I wish I had given it a chance sooner. Plus books and audiobooks are expensive and really using the public library has saved me SO much money. I highly recommend it. Also, reading these genre’s of both crime solving strong female characters and real life memoirs from awesome females I look up to has inspired me to write more. Not necessarily publicly, but for now it’s been fun to write creatively and it adds spice to life. I think in a former life I was Nancy Drew, so it’s fun to imagine what that life is.

March 13, 2017: Oscar’s 4th birthday

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Today my little boo-boo turns 4! He’s a rescue so it’s a made up date, but I imagine that on March 13th he was probably brought into that ASPCA by the police officers that found him tied to a tree/post outside. The ASPCA probably figured out he was approx 2 years old based on his teeth, and made March 13th his birthday. So while this is his “birthday” it is also his “I’m saved!” day. This would be the day that his rehabilitation began and transformed him into he love bug that he’s meant to be, and surrounded him with people that love him. He’s made my life infinitely more meaningful, and I’m so grateful to have him as my little boy.

March 10, 2017

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I have to say, as much as I miss Los Angeles, this is still really freakin pretty to me. There’s nothing like the silence of snowfall, and it somehow makes everything really quiet and peaceful. Of course now that it’s late in the day the snow is starting to melt. It’s loud again, and the day goes on as usual.

This weekend in Connecticut is expected to be really cold which really bums me out. I’m so longing to be outside hiking, and moving up hill. Well this will give me a chance to figure out what that smell is that’s coming from my fridge (it’s really bad) and hopefully cross something off my “things to see in CT that are indoors!” list. Aquarium? A museum? Something with a big fireplace to sit in front of?

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Last night I attempted to visit the Nasty Women New Haven exhibit at the Institute Library downtown. The opening event ran from 6-8p, and I arrived around 7:15 to not just a packed gallery but a packed street leading to the gallery.

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The closer I got the more congested it was. There was a long line to enter the event, and there’s nothing I hate more than a packed exhibit (makes it way too hard to really see the artwork). I’m glad it was packed, as that shows just how much New Haven cares, and from images online I’ve seen of the art, it was a very entertaining exhibit. I did not wait in the line and decided that I would come back, not on opening night, so I could really see the pieces in the exhibit. It will be running until April 8th!

March 7, 2017: Zumba

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Last night at 6:50p, I impulsively decided to try Zumba for the first time. I was already in work out clothes and debating going for a jog when I realized Zumba class started at my (very) local gym at 7p. Remembering my 2017 resolution of doing more new things, I impulsively ran over to my gym and joined the class.

I have never done, or even googled Zumba. I just knew it was dance-type exercise. Turns out a lot of people in the class go every week and had the music and dance moves memorized. Thankfully the back half of the room (where I was) was filled with clearly newbies who also had no idea what they were doing. I was basically Elaine doing her Seinfeld dance… except I was calling it Zumba. I also learned that if I’m trying to mimic a teachers dance moves, if my feet are doing the right moves then my hands, arms, and hips aren’t. I’m only able to control one area of body movement at a time… not ideal for Zumba. But it was good exercise (I sweated) and made in a good step count.

Was it humiliating? Yes. Is being embarrassed sometimes okay? Yes. Was it freeing to go make a fool of myself in a room full of people also looking goofy? YES!

March 6, 2017: Locked Out

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How was everyone’s weekend? New England had a blustery weekend after such unseasonably warm weather for February, March rolled in and so did the cold WIND! This was a knock-me-over weekend of wind, for sure. I spent my weekend out in Cape Cod.. doing my best to get in some good walks/hikes (more on those later this week) while trying not to freeze. I’ve got lots outdoor Cape posts to share!

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My ride back and forth to the Cape is typically uneventful, but this visit was different. Since I drove separately from my family, I ended up arriving at 8pm on Friday (my 3hr ride had an extra 1 hr of traffic). I didn’t mind the extra traffic because I am listening to a FANTASTIC book on tape, Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer, and I was so engrossed in listening to this book that the time flew by. I highly recommend it for a long car ride. When I do a March book recap of what books I’ve read and listened to on tape this month, I will definitely include a write up on this piece.

Any who, back to the drive. I arrive at 8pm in Cape Cod only to find that the batteries are dead on the garage door key pad needed to enter my parents house. I also learned the hide-a-key-rock was now deeply buried due to a driveway renovation (sorry would-be-robbers). Crap. I was locked out.

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The back of Oscar’s head as he stood guard on my lap in the car, while we waited for my parents to arrive in Cape Cod with the house key.

With my puppy Oscar in tow, I couldn’t just go to the nearest pub for some dinner (and a badly needed restroom break) so I drove to the nearby Public Library just to wait in the well-lit parking lot for my parents to arrive. Thankfully my parents arrived around 9pm, so it was only an hour of waiting in the car on a cold night. This just felt like CLASSIC Bethany unlucky behavior. I did my best not to let it put a damper on the weekend getaway.

See some new changes at Life Absorbed? Now that the new header is up, Im trying to update the blog and hope you end up liking the changes. Today I added buttons along the right side of the screen to help direct new visitors to blog posts covering these topics: East Coast (covering all of my New England adventures and local explorations), Lifestyle (creative inspiration/what Im feeling at the moment/ and life updates), Hikes (+walks, to help be a guide for locals looking for a detail guide of local trails), Travel, Comedy, and Los Angeles (linking to my posts from when I lived in LA). It’s super hard to organize the posts (especially old posts) so Ill do my best to organize them from now on.

Fall in New England

I’ve been on a blogging hiatus as I’ve just been incredibly busy, but I’ve decided to adjust my time to start posting more. I miss sharing with you, and frankly blogging gives a person a purpose. The past 11 months that I’ve been in CT (has it really been that long?!) I’ve been focused on settling in and getting into some type of a routine. Life felt so chaotic, that blogging had to take a backseat while I figured things out. Now that I’m starting to get into a rhythm. I’m excited to start sharing again. Blogging world, how I’ve missed you!

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Let me start by saying being in New England for fall has been so much fun. I’ve been staying in CT each weekend of October to really soak it up. I think it’s the celebration of fall that really prepares you for winter, and lets you appreciate it.

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The two photos above, and one photo below were taken this past Sunday on a walk with Oscar. We’ve got a new walking route that we take, which I’m loving! It’s the closest thing I could find to being like Toluca Lake and it’s so close to where I live. This Sunday we did that loop and then tied in East Rock Park to it so we could see more of the foliage.

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The past two weekends before Halloween I did north CT drive arounds and got to see the foliage peak in the Kent/Sharon/Litchfield area, and this past weekend was New Haven’s turn.

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Earlier this month we drove to Millerton NY and got coffee at Irving Farm Coffee House.

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We brought sandwiches from the Berkshire Country Store in Goshen (so yummy!) and had a picnic at the Lime Rock Race Track! What a nice celebration for my Dad’s birthday (who LOVES cars). It is free to hang out there on non-event days (they were still racing it just wasn’t a big event day).

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Mid road trip we had to stop at the Litchfield White Memorial Conservation Center and do a loop around the pond. It was a great way to get some exercise mid-road trip.

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Another fabulous thing about the past Fall, has been just seeing it out my window at Meyer Wire! The leaves have been changing all around us while the temps have been really comfortable (65 most days).

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The warm weather has encouraged me to get my bike out of hiding, and take it for spins around the parking lot… that is when my Dad doesn’t take it from me for his own joy rides.

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Halloween Costume 2015

Before I talk about this years Halloween costume, I thought we should look back at past costumes. Remember when we were featured in a BUZZFEED article about costumes. That was an awesome day. You’ll notice that I take Halloween seriously and I’m anti-sexy-halloween. I use this dress-up opportunity to represent strong female leads and role models for young women, and this years costume is no exception!

Let me start my taking a look back at past costumes…

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Here are my RISD friends and I as the Golden Girls (circa 2007?)

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Above I’m dressed as Nancy Drew (from the books not the movie). She’s a great strong female role model who was created back in the 1930’s!

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Here is my boss and I as Shari Lewis and Lamb Chop in 2012.

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Here I am on Halloween night as Shari Lewis.

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This is my costume from 2013, when I went as…

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Angela Lansbury! Specifically, I went as her as Jessica Fletcher in Murder She Wrote.

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In 2014 I went as Jane Goodall! It seemed fitting given my recent trip to Africa and she’s a very strong female role model. You rock Jane!

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Now onto 2015:

Now that we are up to date on past costumes, it’s time that I introduce this years costume. Now that I have a little doggie, even he will be in on the fun. Instead of coming right out and telling you, I’ll give you some very telling hints.

I typically dress as an older woman/character, but this year I’ll be only a few years older than my actual age. She’s someone I’ve respected professionally since I was a teenager. She runs a comedy school that stretches over several facilities in two different states. She heads up a program meant to empower young females called Amy’s Smart Girls. Not only am I going as this awesome woman, but Im going as this person dressed in character as a different strong female. Not only is the real woman great but the character is also a remodel to women everywhere. It’s a double-wammy of a costume!

As always, I’ve put together a cheat sheet of how I’m going to post this costume together in a cost conscious way. It will involve a trip to goodwill, some creative tricks and another wig to add to my collection! It’s all about the details.

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Have you guessed it? I’ll update you as I start assembling the items, and of course I’ll post the photos of me in costume after Halloween. So check back for updates!

UPDATE:

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I had a small get-together on Halloween night where people dropped in throughout the night. Here you can see I made Oscar his cute lil’ Sebastian outfit (took 15 min to make with on sale items from Jo-Ann’s). My outfit involved a wig from party city (a 50’s girl wig that looked JUST like Leslie Knope’s hair), a fitted suit from Goodwill, stickers I printed out and Amy’s book which I already owned. What a fun Halloween! Check out As Her World Turns blog post about the night! She’s got great photos of the evening.

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