Saturday, November 28, 2009

Venice Is a Fish

"Venice Is a Fish"
-Tiziano Scarpa
ISBN: 9781592404070

Back cover: "Venice is a fish," writes Tiziano Scarpa. "It's like a vast sole stretched out against the deep. How did this marvelous beast make its way up the Adriatic and fetch up here, of all places?" Paying homage to his native city in a lyrical and evocative style, he guides readers down tiny alleys, over bridges, and through squares, daring us to lose ourselves, forget the guidebooks, and experience Venice as Venetians do.

Venice Is a Fish provides no hotel ratings or museum hours. Instead, in a delightful initiation, Scarpa tells us how to balance while standing on a gondola; where lovers will find the best secret hiding places; the finer points of etiquette and navigation during an agua alta; and how best to defend ourselves from the pitiless beauty of one of the world's most stimulating cities. Open Venice Is a Fish, and Scarpa's magnificent images, secret history, and hidden lore unfold like a treasure map of the senses.

Thoughts: This was a wonderful little book. Fantastic language and descriptions of places, people, and of everything about Venice. Scarpa is also a poet, and that comes through in his writing. "VIaF" is not to be gulped down in one sitting - it should be dipped into and savored in little bits, letting the words sink in and settle inside your bones. Each chapter is titled after a body part, and Scarpa spends each one describing what happens to each part while you're in the city. That might sound a little pretentious and/or pervy, but it's so dreamy and lush that I just floated along happily with him.

This book feels like Venice feels, and everything he says seems so possible, it wouldn't surprise me to walk into any scene he describes every time I turned a corner. Even the ones involving people doing all sorts of private business in the streets - it wouldn't surprise me to find any of them happening at any time. I was beginning to forget what the city is actually like - how the breeze feels on your arms, the way the sun cuts between the buildings, the locals shouting to each other across a small canal - and this book brought it back. I read it almost like I was in a dream state, happily being pulled along with Tiziano, like a hovering balloon or a shadow. This book is absolutely gorgeous and witty and unlike any other travel book I've ever seen. It's subtitled "a sensual guide", and it's a completely accurate description. A dreamy gem of a book!

Friday, November 27, 2009

I started this post over an hour ago, and had a nice picture and thoughts about being thankful, etc, and then I got sucked in to Antiques Roadshow on PBS and Lord knows where that first post went. Isn't technology grand?

There was some lady from Texas who was yapping about a pocket watch and how she couldn't trace the family story told by her rich father. The appraiser valued the watch at $30,000 to $50,000. Want to know the first words out of her mouth? "Well, would it be worth something more if I could verify the story?" !!!!! Seriously? You have a watch worth at least 30 grand, and you want more money? How greedy can one person get!?! She just looked around and said "Well, thanks y'all, it's been innerestin", in those exact words. That just made me sick, and I thought you could use a disgusting head shake on this Friday evening. You're welcome.

Since I'm sitting here at 10pm, you'd be right in assuming that I'm procrastinating Job #2 once again. I have a deadline of tomorrow night, so I do need to actually do something this time. I've got that penciled in to do after I get home from Job #1 tomorrow afternoon. I already can tell that I might be posting a similar message about 20 hours from now and am trying to bribe myself with a tasty pot of coffee and a cupcake as a reward for doing my job. I'll let you know if it works or not, but don't hold your breath.

In my procrastination this evening I've been reading some of my favorite book blogs. There is one girl who I wish I was, she reads so much. This girl has already read over 350 books this year, has at least one review a day, and has a job in the real world. Amazing, right? I'm totally in awe and happily spent a half hour reading some of her reviews. It makes my maybe-a-book-a-week average completely sad and pathetic.

To add to my not-reading woes, I returned an audiobook to the library a couple of days ago and picked up 4 books on my way out. What? One of them is a new book that is due in 7 days...well, in 5 now. We'll see if that happens or not. (I'm guessing not.)

OK, extremely tired now and am pretty sure I mixed my verb tenses and didn't always make sense. If you read this blog on a semi-regular basis, you should be used to that stuff by now. Off to have Will & Grace and The Golden Girls serenade me in the background while I try to read.

Friday, November 20, 2009

It's friggin' Friday

And still not much is done. I'm FINALLY starting to get motivated, and now I only have an hour free before I need to go to a meeting for Job #1, then stop and pick up some chestnuts on the way home, work for another hour or two, and go to a home party at a friends' house. Yeah.

However, I did have breakfast with a friend today that was pretty helpful. We're both in the same industry, we think alike, and have similar outlooks... and of course, she's about twice my age. (In case you didn't know at least half of my really good friends are in their late forties to mid-sixties.) At least once a month, more often if we can swing it, we meet for a cheap-o breakfast and sit and talk for a couple of hours about what is going on in our lives, what we think about continuing to work in this industry, ramifications and options on both sides, any health issues, roots of problems, etc etc etc. It's really quite nice. We talked about lots of stuff today and I really realized that while Job #2 is perfect in a lot of ways, it's not something that I'd like to keep on doing. Not that I'm going to run out and quit, but there are so many layers and it's such a huge time commitment (more mentally than anything else) that it's making me crazy. It's why my friend gave it up and passed it on to me - she couldn't take it any more either. I feel the same way, and it's happening at the same time that it did for her, too. Is it the job then? Or is it us? Ugh, who knows?!?! We've been brainstorming about a business we can work on together that is creative and flexible and fun, and she questions me about things that no one else really does (or rather, that few do), and we're making some progress. It might not seem like progress to anyone else but us, but I assure you, it's something. It's exciting and makes me think in a way that I haven't in a long-ass time. A nice change.

Wow, what a ramble.

On another note, I'm not getting any reading done. Unless you count US Weekly and People magazine, that is. Isn't it like this for you too? There are certain times when you can read like nobody's business for a few weeks, and then you just stare at books for a few weeks thinking "I should probably finish that. Hmph. I wonder what's on BBC America now." I'd still like to try and finish my challenge for the year, but reading 13 (or is it 14?) books AND all of Les Miserables in the next 6 weeks seems unlikely.

Maybe I'm just in a pre-holiday slump, like in college - don't write that paper/read that book/work on that presentation until the last possible second and then look out! I'll be working like the house is on fire for 2 days! I think that's what this is. And I should really be getting back to it. As I've confirmed this week, things don't get done on their own - dammit!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Ah, home for a week!

Yes, that's right, I'm home this week! Unfortunately it's not for fun stuff that I'd like to do - it's for Job #2, which has been royally neglected for so long I'd rather not figure it out. That being said, I have done zero work for it so far today. In my defense, it is my Mom's birthday (Happy Birthday, Mom!) and we went out for lunch at Baker's Square. Plus, I've been sleeping like crap lately, but I'll get to that later. So anyway, I got dropped off here about an hour ago with the intention of making a list and getting groceries, going to the post office, and then to Target, all before 4pm. Yeah. That's totally going to happen. Instead, I've been reading and laughing out loud at (thanks, J!), and just generally wishing I didn't have any work to do.

One of the trickier points about being at home to work is that lots of people (okay, mostly me) want to go out and run errands and meet up for breakfast/lunch/dinner/drinks/coffee and do things we'd really like to do but don't because I have such a weird schedule, in that I don't have one. I'm making all of these mental plans to do fun things when really I need to be sitting here in my sweatpants giving myself wrinkles and computer headaches and getting some sh*t done. I have visions of waking up at 7, making a little breakfast, taking a shower, and starting to work like I have a Real Desk Job, with the added bonus of being able to do laundry at the same time. The reality of my life is not related to that fantasy land I think I operate in. Sad. But I do need to get some food in this house that is not cereal or freezer-burned, and I do need to go to the post office. And I'm on my last roll of paper towels. Not so great when you have cats that are having an un-advertised Hairballpalooza. So yes, I do need to get my butt in gear and get things done so I can stay home and work.

The lack of motivation on my part is also partially sleep-related. I'm getting 6 to 9 hours of sleep, but it's not restful. I wake up tired. I fall asleep tired. After I'm up for an hour in the morning, I could use a serious nap. That feeling of needing to sleep never goes away. It makes it hard to focus (literally and figuratively), hard to concentrate, and next to impossible to do anything physically aside from sitting or lying down. I might look normal, but on the inside I'm constantly fighting to pay attention, or walk around, or complete this sentence I started saying... it's not good. I'm not entirely sure what to do about that. It's exhaustion, certainly, but is it something else? And if so, what the hell could it be? I don't like to think about it, so I ignore it and keep on trying to function and operate like I normally do. I don't like to bring it up or talk about it because people either A) say "can't you go to the doctor? you always say there's something wrong, but friggin do something about it already" or B) give me this look like yeah-right-I'm-tired-too-you're-so-dramatic-and-obviously-lying-because-you-don't-look-or-act-differently-I'm-sick-of-this-crap-from-you. I can't afford to really investigate what might be going on, either monetarily or time-wise, and there aren't any big signposts pointing the way to what's wrong. So I keep on going like this because I don't know what else to do and to everyone else I seem fine and seem to be doing okay. But if you ever see me or talk to me, I'll say I'm fine when really my brain is yelling I JUST WANT TO LAY DOWN or CONCENTRATE ON WHAT IS GOING ON or PAY ATTENTION DON'T DRIFT OFF. Ugh. Any advice on how to handle this that will not cost me an arm and a leg is appreciated.

So, that being said, I need to get going to run those errands and then come back here to not-work and not-sleep but instead stare at the wall and guilt myself into oblivion over the one billion things that are not being done and need to get done. Oh, and I'm going to try and finish a book today too... yes, I may be officially insane. Later!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

The fall of Fall

Fall seems to be coming to a close. It looked like it would last much longer this year - acorns were bombing my house rhythmically and systematically, the leaves were turning colors slowly, they were staying on trees for what seemed like forever - and then suddenly, WHOOMP! They all plummeted to the ground seemingly overnight, bringing the temperature along for the ride. So now not only do the trees look as if they're bracing themselves for winter, yards everywhere need to be raked and de-leaved for the changing of the seasons. I, of course, raked my yard on the windiest day possible, so my Yardwork Joy was at least doubled, if not tripled. Yay. (Note: the previous sentence should be read with a straight face and no vocal inflections.)

Anyway, while my Favoritest-Of-Seasons is taking its last gasps, that means Winter is on the way. The bad part about that is the never-ending shoveling and constant fear of wiping out on black ice in front of dozens of strangers. The good part is that it means that it's much more acceptable, nay EXPECTED, that one should hunker down with a book for extended periods of time! Yippee!!!

In my obsessive need to finish the 999 Challenge, I need to read 14 more books by the end of the year. That in itself is not a problem. The fact that I have to read a particular 14 is what is irking me right now. It's not that I don't want to read these certain books, I really and truly do, it's that there are SO many more that I really want to read and I feel like I'm missing out on something by having a limited selection. I realize that the 101010 Challenge will start in 2 short months, and I can resume reading what I want when I want, but still... I want to read "Wolf Hall" now, not in 2 months' time! Anyone else out there have the same reading issues?

On a positive note, I seem to be in some sort of place where my work schedule is actually doing what I'd like it to do! I hate to post this for fear of jinxing myself, but the past 2 weeks have been wonderful. On the 3 or 4 days that I work, I have multiple appointments with Job #1, and then I have 3 or 4 days "off" to work here at home, whether on Job #2 or just on picking up this dump. It's a Miracle, I tell you! A Miracle! I even took a nap on Saturday, and it was almost a guilt-free experience! (Hey, I'm working on it.) If things keep on happening like this, I might actually begin to relax more in my down time instead of freaking out about the hundred things I should be doing. Things are looking up!

Yet another positive thing is that I seem to have more time for reading. Since it currently gets dark at 4:30 here, I'm spending less time running around and more time at home getting stuff done. My new normal is to come home, put on pajamas, a Netflix, and then to check out email, have some dinner, maybe watch an hour or two of TV, and then put on a record (yes, an actual record), grab a book and a blanket, and spend some serious time with a book in my hands. And a cat on my lap, of course. It's really quite nice.

Well, speaking of, I should probably have some dinner and then grab the nearest book and hit the couch. Stay warm out there!