I hope you figured out that I made it to the Pa. (and back!) safely, even though I've been MIA over here for the past few weeks. I've been avoiding an update because there's just too much to write about, namely everything that happened in America (like becoming a US citizen). I have so many thoughts just about that — how I actually feel different being an American, the unexpected angst of my name change, the irony of becoming a citizen right in the midst of such a gobsmackingly insane election season. But my brain hurts from all the craziness of catching up to real life, so I'm going to punt and just write another list post.
A lot! As I mentioned in a previous post, I've had a tough time getting into books lately. I had my students read an article earlier this year about how we have to train ourselves in the habit of reading (I sadly can't find the article — will keep looking). When I realized I had started nearly a dozen books this year and only finished around three, I considered the likelihood that I've rewired my brain for nuggets of information transmitted through the screen of my iPhone.
So. For the past two weeks, every time I've felt the impulse to stare at my phone, I've picked up a book instead.
Guess what? I finished a pile books in quick succession (The Yiddish Policemen's Union, Tuck Everlasting, Big Magic, The Quiet American, Silence, and Pax). Which brings me to...
For many expats, one benefit of going "home" is the SHOPPING. I haven't been in Taiwan long enough to really miss anything from America (I'm still marveling over being able to easily buy stuff I've missed my entire adult life, like Yakult and Taiwanese pastries). Except books. I've really missed having access to endless cheap/used books. We do have English-language bookstores here but the books are pricy and stock is limited.
Here's a list of the books I brought back from the US:
The Goldfinch — Donna Tartt (it's been on my list forever)
A Handful of Dust — Evelyn Waugh (book club)
Pax — Sara Pennypacker (I love Jon Klassen. I bought this for Lucy thinking it was a picture book!)
Silence — Shusaku Endo (Recommended by a friend when I mentioned I love Graham Greene)
Big Magic — Elizabeth Gilbert (Read this with a friend)
The History of Love — Nicole Krauss (Own this. Bought to share.)
Unfamiliar Fishes — Sarah Vowell (Found this at Goodwill. Bought it on a whim.)
Small Victories — Anne Lamott (Goodwill)
Unbroken — Laura Hillenbrand (I've heard so much about this but still haven't read it.)
Cutting for Stone — Abraham Verghese (Goodwill — bought to share.)
The Quiet American — Graham Greene (One of my favorite GG books. Bought to reread and share.)
Evolution — Daniel Loxton (requested by Anna)
Other stuff I bought
This ceramic travel mug — I often have half a cup of coffee left when it's time to rush out the door. This mug is perfect — it has a lid (which makes it splash-proof but not leak-proof, just fine for sipping while walking or driving). It's double-walled but entirely ceramic, so it retains some heat while emitting just enough to give that cozy-mug feeling that's lacking from stainless steel Thermoses. I love it!
Mason jar straws and lids — We got rid of all of our mismatched glasses when we moved here. To replace them, we bought two flats of Mason jars (16 oz and 1.5 pint). I brought a lid/straw and a 1.5 pint jar to school and it's helped me remember to drink more water (instead of just coffee).
Instax printer — I actually bought this for my brother. He encouraged me to try it and now I want one of my own. The worst thing about the Instax camera (I own this one) is that you sometimes waste film by accidentally taking awful photos. The second worst thing is that you can't make duplicates of your favorite shots. The printer solves those problems.
Star Wars Lego set for Anna — Just look at that face!