Friday, August 22, 2008


I don't think I'm built to handle round-the-clock sunshine. And it's not just the shock of successive 80-degree days after a month of rain talking, either. Long stretches of idyllic weather in Berkeley used to make me lethargic and melancholy, too. I think that inclement weather stimulates the senses more: the threatening horizon, the smell of rain, the crack of thunder. Or maybe I just resent feeling like I'm supposed to be more productive when it's nice out, and I can't just sit on the couch reading and knitting. Either way, I'm left staring up at blue skies and hoping for a raincloud or two.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Rain, rain, go away

Except not really. With a combination of the rainclouds prematurely darkening the sky and me typing away in a cafe, I feel almost transported to my undergrad days in Berkeley. I remember staying out late with Anna in freshman year and walking home on rain slick streets with a stop at the Asian Ghetto. And of course, later, spending untold hours at the Free Speech Movement Cafe with Karthik. If only CafeNation in Brighton were open until 2:00 in the morning. That's when my genius really happens.

Okay, that's enough nostalgia for an August day. How about a reading update?

Here's a book I forgot to include last time: Austenland. My roommate got it for me because she thinks that I'm some sort of Austen uberfreak (I disagree; I think I'm just a regular Austen freak). The story -- such as it is -- is about a single, New York woman (redundant?) who flies to England to attend an Austen camp for adults. She is simultaneously attracted to and repelled by the artifice of Edwardian era dress and beautiful men who are paid to flirt with her, blah blah blah. But (SPOILER ALERT) she finds true love in the end. But all in all, it was a delightful trifle and reminded me of the BBC reality show/contest that aired a couple of years ago wherein the participants/contestants live as Miss Austen would have lived. They had to follow the social rules of the time (e.g., no touching between men and women unless they were dancing) and were allowed no modern amenities. In fact, I distinctly recall one girl who had to bathe in old bathwater that had already been used by every other girl in the house. Does anyone remember the name of the show? Karthik?

And I finally read something that all high school students in America are probably required to read: The Great Gatsby. I'm glad that I read this for the first time as a mid-twentysomething. I don't know if I would have understand some of the themes of money and status as a 15-year-old. Beyond that, I don't have much to say about Fitzgerald that hasn't already been said a dozen times over except that the man sure knows how to turn a phrase.

I'm currently reading Kundera's The Joke. And despite the title, the book's not exactly laugh out loud funny. At best, it's cynically humorous, which suits me just fine. But I am getting a little tired of Kundera's misogynistic man-children (the Socialist precursors to Judd Apatow's?) who only want women for the services that they provide. I'll take the book with me down to the beach tomorrow, though. Maybe the sun will bleach away some of the darkness.