Your Last Autumn

It drifted in twirling pathways

Of deep grey rain and golden sunbursts

On the mountains

–Your last autumn.

Anxious finches, the rustling light on leaves.

The world in memory. The world in preparation.

Only in Fall

Can the world be angled so differently.

Your eyes were a cerulean blue,

Like the sky,

Your last autumn.

I wonder what moments were focused in those lenses.

Crinkly-smile lines and warm sweater hugs?

The final leaf falls, in a sigh.

But now it is some other Fall,

And I see grays and golds

And blues

And you.

-Kathryn Gustafson, 2016

AMWAP Book Review: Here on Earth

*Note: What is an AMWAP review? It’s a thing I made up. It stands for “As Many Words as Pages.” My AMWAP book reviews are uniquely crafted towards a specific word count. It’s my little way of keeping things snappy and driving myself slowly insane.For instance…The following book review is 309 words long.

Here on Earth

Pages: 309

Last night I finished reading Alice Hoffman’s Here on Earth (1997).  In case you are unacquainted with her, Hoffman’s got this raw-but-lyrical quality that leaves you feeling like you’ve been emotionally stripped bare at some kind of intervention, but that (somehow) you were thoroughly enchanted by the entire experience. It’s fitting that she often writes about magic, because her stories are spellbinding.

Recently, Here on Earth caught my eye. I read a New York Times Book Review that called it, “a Wuthering Heights . . . profound.”  Sadistic though it may be, I’ve always loved Emily Bronte’s twisted love story and the way it makes prickle with goosebumps of anger, passion, and regret.

And that’s pretty much the exact same effect of Hoffman’s Here on Earth.

5159The story successfully carries the haunting themes of Wuthering Heights into a setting of 1990s America as it follows the return of March Murray to her small hometown.  When March re-encounters Hollis, the childhood love she never let go of, the passionate bond between them grows.  As their relationship illuminates the ghosts of their common past, it also begins to cast a destructive shadow over their lives.  Despite the absence of Bronte’s moors, the rural Massachusetts setting of Here on Earth carries a ghostly mystique of its own.

Though I openly recommended this book to everyone while still in its early chapters, I would be more selective in my recommendations having finished it.  Literary triumph? Definitely.  Disturbing? Definitely.  Just don’t tell your teenager to read this alongside Wuthering Heights, okay?

Overall, Here on Earth is a choice autumnal read for those who know what they are in for:  a dark and compelling re-imagining.  It poses some pretty interesting questions about romantic possession, redemption, revenge and what might have happened if Catherine and Heathcliff had gotten a chance to be together, “here on earth.”

Tell Me About Your Books.

Hey readers! I just wanted to announce an idea that’s been on my brain lately.

I love reading and I read, well, everything.

I think most Hardcore Readers have several, hypothetical “stacks” of books surrounding them at all times: entertainment reads, classics, nonfiction, genre fiction, bestsellers, award winners, children’s books, comic books….you get the idea: a little bit of everything. (Coincidentally, that’s kind of what my blog is).

Anyway, while I’ve done a few book reviews on here before, I would really like to focus more on them with my blog. I’ll be done with my MA later this year, and I would like an outlet to keep writing about what I read/ sharing ideas about books with other readers. It may start out slow at first, but I’d like to get it up to a weekly read/review.

What am I going to read?

roryread

Everything, anything, all kinds of things: books that make me look intelligent when I walk around with them in my hand, and books that might seem…well, stupid… to the general public.

I’m of the mindset that readers should not be embarrassed to read YA, mystery thrillers, –whatever  novels keep you flipping those pages to wind down after a long day.

I also think that we should always push ourselves to read different books than the ones that immediately comfortable.

As readers, we challenge ourselves to explore worlds that we never would have known existed otherwise. That’s one of the best things about reading, right?

Why am I telling you all this? Because I want your help.

Starting now, I will be keeping an ongoing list of book suggestions. I make no promises about the order of my reading–but I would like suggestions for all kinds of books, from all kinds of readers. So if there’s a book that you love, or hate, or just want to talk about–please leave a comment and share it with me!

 

 

 

Standing Desks: What’s the Big Deal?

My husband has been talking about standing desks for awhile now.

While his past jobs have kept him physically active, he now works a desk job which means that he sits at a computer for most of the day. After work, he comes home and pays bills. Recently he also started online classes (we are both going to school with SNHU online); this also keeps him sitting, glued to a screen.  Lately, he’s had more back problems than ever and has felt down about the sedentary nature of his daily routine.

He’s a tall, strong guy and he wants to use his body and stay healthy.  He’s basically Mr. Incredible, and therefore I really think he doesn’t want this to happen:

incredibles

I also want him to be happy and healthy of course, so I was totally supportive of the whole standing desk idea for our home office, even though it seemed a little weird to me.

This weekend the stand came in and assembly began. He converted his Monster (HUGE) Desk into an adjustable desk with a crank that can raise or lower the height so that it can be used while standing or sitting. It looks like a Mutant -Monster desk now.

“You’ll use it too?” he kept asking me, excitedly, “I mean, do you think you’ll like it?”

I just kind of shrugged, “Sure, I guess. Maybe.”

In all honesty, I couldn’t picture it. I am ADD and I get distracted enough as it is. I usually have to do like five things before I can settle in to on my writing projects or grad school assignments: coffee, blanket, computer glasses, music. . . toddler MUST be napping or I can’t focus at all.Then it takes me about 20 minutes, after settling in, to stop the circuit of rabbit-trailing articles or checking social media and actually begin the work at hand.

I could only imagine how distracted I would get standing up. That just didn’t seem -well- cozy/settled to me. Also, I chase a  1 year old around most of the day and exercise on a fairly regular basis, so I don’t really struggle with feeling inactive.

But yesterday I had to write a paper and I wanted to use the office. Why not? I figured. I’ll give the Mutant Monster Desk a try.

Then it happened.

I realized that standing desks are FREAKING AMAZING.

I mean, I am totally, completely IN LOVE with them.

Here is why:

  1. Something about the act of standing up actually helps keep my ADD brain on track. I did not expect this. I guess my body is saying, Okay, remember what you are here to do. You are standing up. You are not a lump. You are a person with a brain and purpose. Get to it. This is the complete opposite of what I expected to happen.
  2. I can actually stretch while I work. If I’m listening to music (which I always am when I am working) I can bounce/dance around a little.
  3. Movement makes me happy, as it does for most of us (even if we don’t realize it). Being able to use your body is a natural mood booster. I did not feel nearly as anxious  as I normally would about having to write a paper under a major time crunch. Being able to move and focus better were both huge stress-reducers.
  4. No added tension to my neck and shoulders. I have chronic headaches; any stress or discomfort seems to make it’s way directly to my noggin. Obviously, hunching over my laptop, as I frequently do, does not help the situation.  I actually had a really bad headache when I started working on my paper yesterday. However, the standing/stretching I was able to do while at the standing desk honestly helped to ease my discomfort.
  5. Energy. I finished my paper around midnight, which would normally be past my ideal bedtime. However, last night I felt almost hyper after my time spent at the standing desk.

So today, I couldn’t wait to get back in the office after Kora went down for her nap. I decided I would use the standing desk to spend some time researching benefits of . . . well . . . the standing desk. Here is what the research says, based on my findings here and here and  here.

  1. Those who used sit-stand desks were 78% more likely to report a pain-free day than those who used regular workstations, according to a Stanford University back pain study.
  2. The increased utilization of standing/sitting desks may help reduce obesity in our nation and the multiple related health concerns which accompany it.
  3. Did you know that an hour or more of daily sitting can actually lower your metabolism and your body’s good cholesterol, contributing to Type II Diabetes and Heart Disease? This is something that the increased utilization of standing desks could help combat. This is regardless of whether or not you exercise other times of the day.
  4. A 2011 study published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showed that workers who were given sitting/standing stations sat a lot less and experienced improved moods. Happy workers are good.
  5. A 2015 study published in the Oxford Journal of Public Health shows that sit-to-stand desks in classrooms appear to be an effective way of reducing sedentary behavior (prolonged sitting) in a diverse sample of children. This means that using this option in schools could help the upcoming generation to establish healthier habits.
  6. Office workers who are equipped with sitting/standing desks may be WAY more productive. One study by the Texas A&M Health Science Center School of Public Health found office workers who stood were 46% more productive than their sitting counterparts. That a is HUGE productivity.
  7. Though research has not yet yielded significant data to support it, my personal case study has indicated that using a standing desk while listening to dramatic film scores may increase your likelihood of feeling like a super hero/villain/spy. This is always a good thing.

Okay, so you get the picture. I’m all about the standing now, and the standing desks. Does it sound weird to you?  Try it. Just try it. I dare you. And let me know what happens.

standing-desk