Saturday, September 20, 2014

One More Thing

One More Thing: Stories and Other StoriesOne More Thing: Stories and Other Stories by B.J. Novak
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

First thoughts: so funny. so quick. so easy to dip in and out of.

My favorite was when characters/ideas from earlier stories made their way into later ones.

Where I read: CTA, which made me feel tres chic.

Recommended for: funny people, fans of The Office, snarky people.

Suggestions for improvement: Yeah, some stories were probably not necessary in this collection, but I kind of liked the hodgepodge. My suggestion is keep writing!

Final thought: Novak's Instagram is also delightful.

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Friday, September 19, 2014

Friday Night Links 2

Tonight is pre-wedding mini-reunion night for my community (okay so it's mostly Jesus and me waiting for two of the out-of-towners), so my usual pizza + wine night looks more like chips/salsa + wine. This will be our third community wedding since 2012 and my fifth and last wedding this summer. It's also summer's final weekend! In the coming weeks I'll be uploading and printing out pictures from the last three months as I squeeze all I can out of a summery fall.

Let's not get too serious on Summer 2014's final Friday. Lighthearted links only!

What are the women in classic art thinking? This will never not be funny.

The "If Our Bodies Could Talk" Series by Dr. James Hamblin: spot on. Here's a wine-inspired one.

The power of reading. Way to go, Chicago kids!

A history lesson for a song I'll probably hear/dance to this weekend.

And one more wine link for the road: I think I'll stick to my corkscrew, but if I ever misplace it, I have options. (PS: they are totally drinking Three Buck Chuck from Trader Joe's...they should know Winking Owl from Aldi is cheaper & tastier!)

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Hay Fever & Heritage Thoughts

I spent today in a Benadryl hangover--a totally real thing that happens the day after you take Benadryl--so I'm even more daydreamy than normal. I try to stay away from pharmaceuticals as much as possible, but my garbage can overflowing with snot-filled tissues and the bags under my eyes convinced me to say yes to drugs. I sneezed 97% less today (super scientific statistic) than I have all week, and my eye bags are more lavender than deep purple. Trade offs.

In any case, I don't know if it's the Benadryl haze, this gorgeous last week of summer, or just that I haven't finished with something until I've over-analyzed it, but I'm still thinking about the surveys Jesus and I did for Monday and yesterday.

Mostly I'm thinking about how differently we answered the questions. More specifically, I'm thinking about how Jesus never once mentioned his hair, eyes, or skin--the first three indicators I gave for my heritage and what I would consider some of the most obvious indicators for his. I also talked about food more than he did, which I didn't expect. (Although both of our families eat way more than just "traditional" foods, our childhood experiences with rice and beans couldn't be more different. In my family, rice is eaten with sugar and milk. And beans just means Bush's Baked.)

When it comes down to it, though, the way our families are similar or different has less to do with where our ancestors are from and more to do with how Crespos do things compared to how Kaisers do things. (Not to mention things like sibling order, hometown, hometown population, or hometown population as a ratio of people to cows.) If my own parents discussed their heritage/childhood, they'd appear similar: German-American, Catholic, rural. And still I have traits that are clearly Rachu or Kaiser.

Maybe this next month is for celebrating German or Hispanic heritages specifically, but the definition of heritage doesn't necessarily include race or ethnicity. It just means "things passed down"--whether that be traditions or objects. In that regard, Jesus and I will both celebrate by being grateful for the things passed down to us, especially snarky wit and strong wills. (In simpler terms, thanks for making us stubborn smart asses Moms and Dads!)

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

What Being Hispanic Means to Me (Guest Post!)

Yesterday was the beginning of Hispanic Heritage Month, which goes from mid-September to mid-October in order to encompass the independence days of many Hispanic countries (Mexico's is today). Since I already shared a bit about being German-American, I asked Jesus if he would answer the same questions about being Hispanic. I didn't coach him at all (as in, I simply asked the question and let him interpret it on his own) and he didn't see my answers before he shared his experience, so I did make a few changes/additions to questions for clarification. I think the differences in how we answered are interesting, and though I wasn't surprised by his answers, there were a few things I expected him to say that he didn't.

[Disclaimer] This is Jesus's personal experience and is in no way meant to speak for Hispanics/Latinos/Mexicans/Puerto Ricans/Mexican-Puerto Rican-Americans as a whole. I wanted to hear more about his views on ethnicity and I thought a guest post would be a fun way to start the conversation. If you want to learn more about Hispanic and/or Latino culture in general, talk to more people/read some books/travel. This blog is personal, and he can only speak for himself. [End Disclaimer]

Do you identify as Hispanic-American? No.

What do you identify as? Plain old Hispanic or Latino.

What's the difference? Saying that I'm Hispanic-American implies that I'm not whole unless I'm American [as well] and I don't feel I need to add the American to my Hispanic. I can be Hispanic without being American in that same way that I can identify as American [without being Hispanic]. I can identify as American or Hispanic. They can be separate. They don't have to be the same thing.

What parts of you/your personality do you attribute to being Hispanic? Having a mother who speaks Spanish and a father who is, well, 100% Puerto Rican...they raised me in a Hispanic fashion...with Hispanic customs and traditions. Living in America, I still picked up on "American" traditions on my own. They never tried to seclude me from American culture.

What does it mean (to you) to be raised in "a Hispanic fashion"? The food, the language, what was considered culturally acceptable (discipline-wise).

Is anything about you not Hispanic? My girlfriend. I fit Hispanic stereotypes pretty great, but I can fit American stereotypes as well. I'm also pretty weird in general, so...

How did you know you were Hispanic growing up? (Did you know?) Any family traditions? Things that set you apart from people you knew who were not Hispanic? Just the fact that I grew up among Spanish-speaking people and speaking Spanish with them. I was lucky enough to attend a pretty diverse school so I understood that there were differences between all the different kids and their families and upbringings.

What do you think people assume about you when they see you? Do you get tagged with Hispanic stereotypes? I've spent a lot of my grown up life having people be surprised to find out I was Hispanic. When I would say I was Mexican and Puerto Rican they would say, "What, really?" so I guess I didn't act/look Hispanic enough...I don't know what they thought I was.

Will you celebrate at all this month? If so, how? No, not at all. Not in the least bit. I actually hate the traffic and the parades.

Monday, September 15, 2014

What Being German-American Means to Me

German-American Day isn't until October 6th, but today marks the beginning of German-American Heritage Month. It stretches from mid-September to mid-October to encompass the most German-y festivals and traditions (according to several sources--the documentation isn't great on this). In any case, I wanted to take some time to share about my experience as a German-American, and how it's shaped who I am. (Today also marks the beginning of Hispanic Heritage Month, so I'll be bringing in a very special guest tomorrow to share his experience--I hope you're as excited as I am!)

[Disclaimer] This is my own personal experience and is in no way meant to speak for German-Americans as a whole. You'll understand as you read, but I would never claim my worldview as "typical" of my "people"--whether that be German-Americans, Wisconsonites, white people, rural people, urbanites, females, or any other groups I identify with. This blog is personal, and I can only speak for myself. [End Disclaimer]

Do you identify as German-American? Yes. I'm very clearly white. I have blond hair and blue eyes. My last name is Kaiser, for crying out loud.

Is there anything else about you that you attribute to being German-American? My family has been in the United States for more than a few generations and we're fully assimilated, so I can't say if my personality is "German" (nature/DNA/aligned with the majority of other Germans) or just how I was raised (nurture/shaped by my family and environment). Things like my stubbornness, thrift, snark, and penchant for argument definitely fall under the German stereotype umbrella. It's also nice to be able to say, "Yeah, I follow rules and enjoy order--I'm German," and to explain myself easily that way. I'm punctual. I like brats and pretzels and rye bread and egg noodles and sauerkraut. That being said, I'm definitely more American than German. I feel no natural camaraderie with German people, as if they were my fellow countrymen. (That might make me more German, actually, if the stereotype of German coldness/reservation is true.)

Is anything about you not German-American? I don't speak any German. I don't like beer. Or soccer--further proof I'm more American than German.

How did you know you were German-American growing up? Any family traditions? Things that set you apart from people you knew who were not German-American? Other a casual interest in my ancestry and my last name, I never felt German/German-American growing up. I think because where I grew up was very German/Polish, so I never felt apart from others. Much like being white, being German-American in central Wisconsin doesn't necessarily challenge you or make you think about who you are. My extended family drinks a solid amount of beer and we play traditional card games, but there was never a time where I was like, "OMG my family is so German it's embarrassing," because we weren't doing anything that different from anyone else I knew.

When I went to college I started to understand (or rather, understand more) that not all families valued structure and routine like mine. Moving to Chicago was even more of an eye-opener in actually experiencing how families are different instead of just a conceptual knowledge of the fact.

What do you think people assume about you when they see you? Do you get tagged with German-American stereotypes? I think my whiteness supersedes any other, more specific, stereotyping. From what I've heard from people who are now friends, when they first saw/met me they thought I was reserved, goofy, intense, prone to daydreaming, sarcastic, and (from my boyfriend) blond. All of these things are partly true part of the time, but they are in no way stereotypes based on my looks. (Except blond. Jesus learned quickly that I'm not the blond white girl he fantasized about growing up, but I think that's for the best in the long run.) When people learn about my German heritage, they say they understand me better.

Will you celebrate this month? If so, how? Probably not. I might drink a cider at some point? Like I said, I'm more American than German. If anything, I'll cook a German dish, write about it here, and be grateful for what my ancestors did for me.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Sunday Night Survey: Church Edition

My boyfriend took me to church this morning. That was a second. (I was about to say first, but he did take me to his childhood church earlier this summer.) We went to Christian Community Church's official opening of their Lincoln Square campus to support our friends Matt and Amanda, who hold leadership positions there. They've been putting in long hours to grow this church location and it was great to see the results of what they've been working on. The free food wasn't bad either. :)

The rest of the day (and earlier this weekend) went like this:

Making: two batches of granola since we ate the first one in two days
Smelling: cinnamon and nutmeg.
Cooking: the first granola for the season, plus a pizza
Eating: pulled pork and potatoes and carnitas (aka more pulled pork)
Drinking: coffee, wine, horchata, jarritos
Putting: flannel sheets on my bed.
Being: okay with that?
Wondering: if I'm a fall person, or just a season change person.
Missing: summer weather nonetheless.
Sneezing: everywhere.
Lighting: candles.
Doing: all the laundry I've been putting off since Labor Day.
Watching: football (Go Bears!) and Miss America (it's a scholarship competition!).
Walking: to our taqueria for carnitas.
Layering: all my clothes.
Reading: The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
Writing: A scary story based on a prompt from Jesus.
Playing: scary games.
Listening to: RiotFest from a few blocks away.
Wanting: more days like today, weather-wise.
Needing: to buy more floss. (Keepin it real.)

Saturday, September 13, 2014

The Broken Teaglass

The Broken TeaglassThe Broken Teaglass by Emily Arsenault
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

First thoughts: Huh, that was interesting. A little like A Lover's Dictionary, but less captivating. Could have been sharper, but I like the idea of a mysterious story hidden in reference cards at a dictionary publishing house. Mostly I like the idea of a dictionary publishing house. Lately I relate to the mindless job/new job/job search aspect of any book I read. Also: teaglass?

Favorite character: the old guy...whose name I can't remember. And Billy's dad. (Billy being the protagonist and the new guy at the publishing house.)

Where I read it: on a coach bus to and from Wisconsin.

Recommended for: word lovers, job searchers, people who take a lot of bus rides.

Suggestions for improvement: another round of edits to remove some awkward dialogue and fluff.

Final thoughts: not bad, but kinda forgettable.

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