Archive for July, 2013

Treadmill Desk!

Thursday, July 25th, 2013

Now that I have a treadmill in my office, I’m consuming so much media that I’ll never have time to review it all here. You’ll just have to imagine me walking multiple miles a day (6, usually, right now) and watching untold second-rate crap on Netflix.

(True, technically the treadmill desk is for walking and working simultaneously, but I’m still trying to master the wrist/hand situation, which is currently achy when I do that. So instead, I’m using the treadmill on work breaks.)

Actually, I think I’m managing fairly well to keep the bar from sinking too low on my Netflix consumption. For instance, I spent the first week watching Orange is the New Black, which as I’m sure you’ve heard by now is excellent. It began to lose me by the final few episodes, such that I wish it had been a self-contained single season, but I’m still grateful for how very surprisingly wonderful it was. I also watched Ordinary People for the first time in my life, which, wow. Definitely my first time sobbing on a treadmill.

(Not my first time crying on a treadmill, though. When I was mid-wedding prep, I used to stave away boredom at the gym by imagining what it would be like to go through the ceremony, and I would inevitably start crying. DO NOT JUDGE, HARD-HEARTED ROBOT-PERSON.)

One thing about Netflix streaming is that it has a lot of documentaries about kids competing in things. Or rather, it knows I like those documentaries and serves them up for me. Kind of a mixed blessing, since that type of plot often appeals to my lesser angels (overachieving striver), and I’m inevitably crestfallen when the people in the children’s world aren’t adequately helping them cope with pressure and loss.

Case in point: Brooklyn Castle. It’s essentially a classic of the genre, where kids at a public school in a low-income neighborhood achieve heart-warming success via their school’s chess team. And there’s clearly a lot happening in that program that’s great for the kids. But, at least from what I can see, the school’s staff don’t do much to support the kids emotionally. (And why would they? They’re not trained counselors. One of them doesn’t even seem to be a school teacher—just someone who’s great at chess.) So, that part is always hard to watch.

Just today I took in Stage Door, a documentary about the eponymous performing arts summer camp in the Catskills, and similar thing. Except in this case, I felt that the adults were more complicit in that they created a situation where 30 or so of the campers win status in an elite performing group and then castigated those same kids for acting like . . . elitists. Can’t have it both ways, folks. Or maybe you can, but you’ll actually need to lay some groundwork for what compassion and humility look like, instead of telling the kids that they’re the “cream of the crop” and the “special people who light the way for others” (or something to that effect). Sigh.

Nursery University is impossible not to watch, but I can’t recommend it. You already know all of it, I promise. (The target is just way too easy.)

And hey—I finally finished my reread of Anna Karenina. I lost a little faith in it somewhere in the (ginormous) middle, but by the end I was reconvinced of its excellence. (Yeah, I know I’m the first to get on that train.) In particular I noticed how indelible so many of the scenes are, including Kitty’s time in labor (the narration of Levin’s state of mind), Anna’s trip to the opera post-disgrace, and Anna’s descent into madness. Every turn of mood in Anna, Vronsky, and Alexei is so scrupulously catalogued that you never stop believing in any of it.

And so on. My brain is currently a veritable chatterbox of characters and plots. Good thing John likes to hear me rehash movies and books.


Melissa States the Obvious

Tuesday, July 16th, 2013

I would like to introduce a new blog category: Melissa States the Obvious.

Here is my first entry:

Anna Karenina is long. Like, looooooong. Like, do not proceed if you are looking for a short book. It is not short. There is no shortness to be found there. You can’t just dip your toes in for a little refresher and hop on out of there. You start that book, you are IN FREAKING DEEP.

When Worlds Collide

Sunday, July 14th, 2013

Cue scene:

I’m lying on the bedroom floor, stretching post-exercise. John joins me as we discuss plans for the day.

J: Hey, can you pick something up for me on your walk to the bank?

M: I decided not to walk. But maybe I can pick it up anyway.

J: No, don’t worry about it. It can wait another week. It’s already waited a year.

M: Really? What is it?

J: Iron-on patches.

M: Iron-on patches for what?

J: I have holes in my jeans.

M: And you’re planning to cover them with iron-on patches?

J: Not on the outside. On the inside.

M: Yeah, that can’t happen.

J: What? It’s very functional.

M: What do you think this is, 1978? You think those are Toughskins? Jeans look good with holes. They’re supposed to have holes.

J: I’m worried that they’re going to fall apart.

M: They won’t fall apart.

J: But I want them to last a long time.

M: Okay, but you can’t use iron-on patches.

J: Why not?

M: You’re hurting me. Your idea is painful to me.

J: I don’t understand the problem.

M: The problem is NOOOOOOOOOOOOO.

J: Then what am I supposed to do?

M: Cut up a bandana.

J: And sew it on top?

M: No, behind.

J: I don’t have time to sew.

M: Give it to me.

J: You have other things to do.

M: Just give it to me.

J: But you have a whole list—


J: Seriously? You’ll do it?

M: Find me the sewing kit, get me a bandana, and hand over the jeans.

J: Wow, thanks, Sweetie.

M: We should have put that in our marriage vows. I VOW TO NEVER TO USE AN IRON-ON PATCH. ON ANYTHING. EVER.

These Summer Nights

Wednesday, July 3rd, 2013

This time of year is so deliciously lazy-long. These days that don’t end! I wish they would never end.

Last night, John and I were hanging out in our newly painted (by me) (with a brush) (2.5 times) living room, which was glowing in its tealness with the early evening light. Cool breezes were blowing through the house, which clocked in at 72°F. Flowery fragrances were wafting in from outside.

He was doing the initial assembly on the legs of my new treadmill desk, which we plan to get up and running this weekend, and I was working on a crafting project. Together, we were listening to Terry Gross interview Adam Liptak about the recent Supreme Court decisions, and we were companionably silent, parallel-playing*.

*True, it’s not really fair to call a furniture-assembly project “play,” but John did seem to be enjoying himself, as he is wont to do when he is a) fixing something, and b) helping someone.

I had the feeling of being perfectly, perfectly happy. Just full of everything good and grateful for all that I have.

Doesn’t happen often, does it?

Still glowing with the joy.