Closing a chapter

The last weekend of summer is upon us. On September 1, Boston will make the “great migration.” Homes will appear to have regurgitated their furniture onto the streets as inhabitants play musical chairs and move to new apartments in the city. At the same time, all the students will come pouring back and clog the city’s arteries with their moving trucks and unnecessary amounts of dorm “necessities.”

This is the first September of my life that I will not return to school. I graduated last December, and still cannot believe that chapter of my life is over. Watching all the students come come marching (or grumbling) back to academic obligations makes me realize how much I miss school.

Photo of the Baldwin School

Let’s be real, I knew I’d miss school the minute my final class period ended. Being handed my diploma was like sticking a knife through my day planner. I’ve always loved school, from beginning to end and everything in between.

Since I went to a Catholic grade school, “back to school” never entailed shopping for clothes, but it did mean decorating and wrapping my textbooks in brown paper bags, and, of course, purchasing a new set of Gel pens. High school meant pouring over my reading lists for the upcoming year, and reading half of them before the term even began. My high school years were filled with dance parties in the hallway, dress up days, scavenger hunts, ugly blazers, Slip ‘n Slides on the soccer field, ringing gongs, and a plethora of other fun and bizarre traditions that can only be understood if you attended an all girls high school.

Baldwin Gates decorated

At the same time, high school was serious business –sleepless nights, endless term papers, day-long exam periods, and so many “well-rounded” extra-curriculars that we all graduated as perfect spheres. I was a well-oiled machine by the time I reached college, arriving early to every class, perched on the edge of my seat during lectures, fueling my excitement with cup after cup of coffee.

As much as I loved school, and continue to miss it now, graduating has given me the opportunity to do all sorts of things I wasn’t able to do before. For one, this blog. Two, starting to make a significant dent in my bucket list. A few successes from this summer include:

Writing 

I’ve been published!

Global Business Hub

Reading

I set out to read ten books this summer. Although this is a slight diversion from my original list, I will have completed a total of ten by the end of this weekend.

Girl With a Pearl Earring

We Live in WaterTinkersAnd the Mountains Echoes

TransAtlantic

AmericanahThis Is How You Lose HerThe Thing Around Your Neck

The Virgins

Hygiene and the Assassin

Discovering

Photo of kayaking on Charles RiverPhoto of NantucketPhoto of NYCPhoto Philly "LOVE"Photo of railroad tracks

And simply enjoying

Photo of hammockPoolsidePhoto cherry tomatoesMiacomet Beach

It’s been a beautiful summer, and I’m planning on making Labor Day the best weekend of summer yet. But each season brings new opportunities and possibilities. School or not, I’m ready to fall in love with my favorite season all over again.

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Summer, so far

Screen Shot 2013-07-14 at 11.44.56 AM

Recent travels to Philly and Nantucket, followed by a particularly jam-packed 4th of July weekend put my writing and updates on hold. But now I’m back in Boston to catch my breath (for a minute). It’s been a weekend of “housekeeping” and I thought I’d do the same for my blog. This is the perfect opportunity to check the progress of my bucket list, now that we’re (already?) more than halfway through summer:

  • Write something everyday. Even if it’s just a thought or a Tweet
    • So far, so good! Tweeting all day, everyday at @BtwnLines.
  • Post to this blog at least once per week
    • With the exception of last week…
  • Go kayaking on the Charles River AGAIN
    • STILL NEED TO DO THIS!
  • Spend as much time as possible with my amazing friends
    • Best 4th of July weekend ever and looking forward to more summer fun 🙂
  • Reconnect with old friends
    • Recent reconnections and upcoming date nights scheduled!
  • Go to a wine tasting
  • Discover some awesome new restaurants and bars
    • In Boston, New York, and on Nantucket  –and always looking for more.
  • Wander through outdoor markets on the weekends
    • Found an awesome cigarette tin at the 34th St. outdoor market in New York.
  • Soak up some culture at local museums, parks, festivals…
    • Fenway counts as a park, right? Need to work on this one…
  • Take my cooking to a new level and try some new recipes (like learn to make ice cream)
  • Find the best ice cream in the city if/when I fail at making my own
    • In leaving this goal virtually unfulfilled, I will always be on the hunt for better ice cream (and have an excuse to eat more).
    • Please note: Fresh cucumber ice cream is back at JP Licks for July!
  • Find a few beautiful new places to run
    • Been going the same route for awhile, but want to get out to Jamaica Pond.
  • Read. Lots of articles, blogs, and at least 10 books:

A few of my favorite sites & blogs:

Already read:

    • Girl with a Pearl Earring, Tracy Chevalier
    • And the Mountains Echoed, by Khaled Hosseini (my review)
    • We Live in Water, Jess Walter
    • TransAtlantic, Colum McCann

Currently reading:

    • Tinkers, Paul Harding

On the list:

    • Americanah, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
    • The Cuckoo’s Nest, Robert Gailbraith (aka JK Rowling)
    • Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore, Robin Sloan
    • Beautiful Ruins, Jess Walter
    • This is How You Lose Her, Junot Diaz
    • … always open to more suggestions!
  • Do outdoor yoga
    • The Liberty Hotel offers complimentary community yoga classes on Saturdays at 10am! On nice days, these take place outside on their patio.
  • Grow my indoor garden with potted plants and herbs (and keep them alive…)
    • Hayden (by basil plant) is just hanging by thread, but trying to revive him!
  • Take a class: An art class, computer workshop, or even a webinar on finance management
    • If time is of the essence, all my contracts are broken.
  • Discover some new bookstores (preferably indie and perfectly charming)
    • Two adorable bookshops on Nantucket, and again, always looking for more.
  • Walk everywhere and spend as much time outdoors as possible
    • Check!
  • Get completely lost visiting a place I’ve never been before
    • Really, this is not difficult for me to do. I get lost in my own neighborhood.
  • Have several deep and meaningful conversations with the people I love
    • Yes!
  • Do some traveling: Already booked to visit my family twice this summer
    • Back home in three weeks!
  • Take a few moments each day to bask in perfect happiness
    • 🙂

Halfway through summer, and halfway through my list! This is not to say, however, that my strikethroughs indicate a permanent “check.” I absolutely plan to spend as much time as possible with friends, and do more reading, writing, cooking, traveling, experimenting, discovering, wallowing in happiness. And, of course, continue to get lost between the lines.

Book Review: And the Mountains Echoed

Photo of book

I’m tackling another item on my summer bucket list, to read at least 10 books. I started my list off right with Khaled Hosseini’s latest book, And the Mountains Echoed.

The book is his first in six years and does not disappoint. Arranged in a series of interconnected stories, Hosseini subtly and seamlessly intertwines the lives of his characters across Afghanistan, Greece, Paris, and San Francisco. Their individual stories echo pangs of loss, envy, remorse, and regret.

Within each story, there is a pair: brother and sister, mother and daughter, husband and wife, master and servant. Their relationships are sustained by a constant ebb and flow. Their fights don’t so much end as dissipate, like a drop of ink in a bowl of water, with a residual taint that lingers.

The partners are bound together by love, jealousy, obligation, contract, debt, and guilt. One is forever torn between admiration and dislike for the other, suffering from the unsettling belief that they never really knew their other half.

For these characters, their counterparts serve as a reflection of their own self-loathing, an example of everything they wish they could be, or a representation of something they hope never to become. The magnetic push is as strong as the pull. Two people together out of a sense of genetic duty, doomed already to bewilder and disappoint each other, each honor-bound to defy the other.

Hindu Kush mountain range

Courtesy of National Geographic

It is those who are separated and forced apart, against their will, who are the true victims of this novel: They live their lives seeking to fill a void they cannot and will never understand.

Despite the sense of emptiness that pervades these pages, the message that resonates stronger is to remember that our relationships are permanent. There is no escaping our past, or those who helped write our stories. Everything will remind me of you.

It is for this reason that Hosseini reminds us to treat those who have touched our lives with kindness. You will never say to yourself with you are old, ‘I wish I was not good to that person.’ You will never think that.

This literary success echoes the emotional chemistry and elemental narration that Hosseini mastered in The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns. With precise language and beautiful prose, he reveals the rawness of human emotion and the truths of our age. Do not miss this opportunity to get lost in an intrinsic story, and delve deep between the lines.

Goals for summer and beyond

Photo of kayaking on Charles River

Dreaming of summer

This will be my first summer in Boston where I’m no longer in school, and I can’t believe how much time I have on my hands. I feel like I’m at a good point in my life to share some of my thoughts, my writing, and the things I love. I hope you’ll join me as I learn my way through my twenties, reading between the lines.

I’ve compiled a list of things I would like to try/do/see this summer –both in and out of Boston. These objectives are certainly not limited to this list, nor do I have to check off every empty box. This is more of a flexible list of hopefully achievable goals.

Summer 2013 bucket list:

  • Write something everyday. Even if it’s just a thought or a Tweet
  • Post to this blog at least once per week
  • Go kayaking on the Charles River AGAIN (photo from last summer above)
  • Spend as much time as possible with my amazing friends
  • Reconnect with old friends
  • Go to a wine tasting
  • Discover some awesome new restaurants and bars
  • Wander through outdoor markets on the weekends
  • Soak up some culture at local museums, parks, festivals…
  • Take my cooking to a new level and try some new recipes (like learn to make ice cream)
  • Find the best ice cream in the city if/when I fail at making my own
  • Find a few beautiful new places to run
  • Read. Lots of articles, blogs, and at least 10 books
  • Do outdoor yoga
  • Grow my indoor garden with potted plants and herbs (and keep them alive…)
  • Take a class: An art class, computer workshop, or even a webinar on finance management
  • Discover some new bookstores (preferably indie and perfectly charming)
  • Walk everywhere and spend as much time outdoors as possible
  • Get completely lost visiting a place I’ve never been before
  • Have several deep and meaningful conversations with the people I love
  • Do some traveling: Already booked to visit my family twice this summer
  • Take a few moments each day to bask in perfect happiness

I definitely hope to carry many of these goals and habits over into the fall: Write regularly, cook creatively, discover curiously, and spend quality time with friends and family —to name a few. But for now, I’ve got my sights set on summer.