Casual Challenge Update June & July

Bimonthly seems to be working well for these so I’m doing it again. It looks like my intensive reading in June and July checked off more than a few boxes for me.

PopSugar 2016 Reading Challenge

  • On an island – Stiletto by Daniel O’Malley
  • Written by a celebrity – It’s Not OK by Andi Dorfman
  • Based on a fairy tale – A Wild Swan and Other Tales by Michael Cunningham
  • Haven’t read since high school – Party Games by R. L. Stine
  • Written by a comedian – Comedy of Doom by Joseph Scrimshaw

England is an island so I’m counting this sequel. It lost the intimacy of the first one by focusing on two characters on different sides of the same merger. We saw a little bit of Myfawny but not as much as I would have liked. While I enjoyed this book a great deal, I didn’t love it as much as the first one. 4/5

Andi Dorfman was on The Bachelor and got to be The Bachelorette so she’s a minor celebrity. Reading about her relationship going to hell was interesting although her denial about going up a size was annoying. Fat happens little lady. Get over it or cut back on the wine. 3/5

Cunningham’s book was a retelling of several fairy tales with a modern edge. Fairy tales are much darker than Disney would have you believe and having them altered to include our modern conundrums was a very entertaining read. 4/5

I’m bending the rules for the high school one because I have no desire to reread anything I read in high school. However, I was addicted to the Fear Street books when I was a tween/early teen. Since they relaunched the series, I thought I’d do this. More the spirit of the law rather than the letter. It was fun, cheesy, and as an adult I can tell you there’d be so many lawsuits at the end of that party. 3/5

For the High Summer readathon, I was able to finally enjoy Joseph Scrimshaw’s Comedy of Doom. I bought it after I saw him on tour with The Doubleclicks. It was funny, snarky, and a great read for any geek.  4/5


Book Riot Read Harder Challenge 2016

  • Read a collection of essays – Shrill by Lindy West
  • Read a book out loud to someone else – Ghostly Encounters by Jeff Scott Cole
  • A book over 500 pages – The Rook OR Stiletto by Daniel O’Malley
  • Author from SE Asia – Singapore Noir edited by Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan

Initially I counted The Rook but Stiletto clears 500 pages without bonus content. If only it had cleared 600 hundred I could have killed two birds with one stone. Boyfriend and I binged on the show Ghost Adventures last fall and listened to several Jim Harold podcasts so this was right up our alley. I played him several of the EVPs from Cole’s website and read to him to give him context. Unfortunately, there wasn’t as much book as I was hoping for so this got a 3/5.

Shrill has been described as a collection of essays but I honestly don’t think it reads as one. The narrative flow is so strong and cohesive that it reads like a memoir. It was everything I hoped it would be and more. 5/5

Singapore Noir is both edited by and primarily composed of authors from Singapore. It gave me a glimpse into a part of Asia I’ve never thought about visiting before. Some stories were meh and others were fantastic. I calculated the average and how I was feeling and this anthology earned 4/5



Richer Reading Life Activity 8 1/2

I have done half of the activities and it’s more than halfway through the year. I’m slightly worried. Concerns aside, I read a few pages of the Quran.

Unlike the Bible (Catholic or King James), it doesn’t open with the creation story but the righteousness and holiness of the book before you. It talks about the path you must walk, prayers for Allah’s favor, and how Allah will deal with disbelievers.

The PDF I found had the English on the right and Arabic on the left. The cadence, word usage, and overall message reminded me very much of certain passages from the Bible. A smidge of brimstone and reaffirming the holiness of the path you’ve chosen. I only read a few pages but I could sense some major similarities.

I’ve always respected the Muslim faith but now I’m curious about some of the myths and parables they have. Do they have tales like Job, Samson, Noah, and Lot? Maybe I’ll do some digging.

The 1/2 of an activity was finally not bringing any new books home for a month. End of June until end of July. I had more than a few I wanted to get but waited. Expect a couple of hauls in the month of August.

The Cost of Being a Temp

People think that being a temp is just about a lack of job security. I’ve been at my current temp gig for almost a year and I could be fired tomorrow no questions, no consequences. While we’re paid less than every full time employee in the place, it’s also about the costs that you don’t see right away.

Public Transit – Since I live outside a major city, it’s vastly easier to use public transit rather than driving and parking. Most jobs will either give you a transit subsidy to offset costs or do a pretax deduction from your pay check. I get neither of these. My transit expenses are 100% on me. FTEs at my current place get $125 a month.

Health Insurance – Any job worth their salt in the U. S. offers some sort of healthcare plan they partially or completely pay for. While the staffing agency does offer the plan I’m currently on, it takes 6 months to be eligible, it’s around $150 a month, and it sucks. If I’m ever hospitalized, I’m not covered. Need a major test because an X-ray or ultrasound won’t do? Completely out of pocket. I got an MRI last spring and now have to pay $1750. My lack of coverage was made clear when I had a lawyer friend of mine check my plan for any loopholes.

Maintenance Medications – I’ve had a stomach condition since I was a teenager, need antidepressants to feel more like myself, don’t want kids, and mainline Zyrtec until the first frost when I cut back to 1 a day. This is pretty much the only thing my insurance is good for. Most of my friends don’t take multiple daily medications and those that do usually have better insurance than I do.

No paid time off – I’m going on vacation this month. I will be working on that vacation because otherwise I will have no income from that week. Am I sick? I hope I remember to bring my computer home because I don’t get any sick days either. Holidays? Ha! I have to be at a place for a year before I get half a dozen paid holidays.

Retirement – No 401K for me. No matching, no nothing. I had a 401K from my first full time job after college that matched my contributions. I stopped working there in 2013. While that 401K still exists, no contributions have been made toward my retirement in the last 3 years.

You hear about Americans living paycheck to paycheck. I am one of these Americans. I’m not proud of it but I don’t make enough money or have a desirable enough skill set to do anything else. I will likely have to put off having children because my current gig is the best employment situation I’ve ever been in since I graduated college.

Richer Reading Life Book 7

I’ve got to read 16 books this year and I’m only on 7. I’m not comforted by this fact. At least the High Summer Readathon helped me check this one off the list. Takes place in Asia has been brought to you by Singapore Noir edited by Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan.

I’d been hoping to finish Dear Reader but the anti-American sentiment might not be optimal for the circus that this election year is turning out to be. I will come back to it but not right away. Singapore Noir was shorter and easier to read. An anthology of mystery stories, this turned out to be better than I anticipated.

Like all anthologies, some stories were meh and others I enjoyed. The ones I rated 3 stars or less either didn’t fully explain what was going on or just didn’t speak to me. I think “Kena Sai” was my absolute favorite. There was something so incredibly subtle about it but you kind of saw it coming. “Murder on Orchard Road” is my next favorite. It was quite funny.

Last Time 4/5
Detective in a City with No Crime 4/5
Strangler Fig 5/5
Smile, Singapore 3/5
Reel 2/5
Mother 3/5
Kena Sai 5/5
Tattoo 2.5/5
Mei Kwei, I Love You 2/5
Spells 3/5
Saiful and the Pink Edward VII 3/5
Current Escape 3/5
Bedok Reservoir 4/5
Murder on Orchard Road 5/5

I wasn’t sure if this was a 3 or 4 when I first finished it so I let my thoughts settle and calculated the average. 4/5 was the average and ultimately feels about right. I’m glad I’m branching out.

Music Monday: State It #1

We celebrated America as a nation on the first Monday. On the last Monday, we’ll celebrate some of the different states. There’s 50 states in the United States so there must be plenty of songs to go with them. Here’s your first installment.

The Dry Cleaner from Des Moines by Joni Mitchell
North to Alaska by Johnny Horton
California Dreamin’ by the Mamas and the Papas
Baltimore by The Tamlins
Hotel Arizona by Wilco Hotel
Concerning a UFO Sighting Near Highland Illinois by Sufjan Stevens
Devil Went Down to Georgia by The Charlie Daniels Band
Massachusetts by The Bee Gees
Bomb New Jersey by Voltaire
Alabama Pines by Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit
Blue Hawaii by Elvis
Tennessee by The Wreckers
Christmas Card from a Hooker in Minneapolis by Tom Waits

High Summer Readathon Wrap Up

I have finished the High Summer Readathon. I posted a TBR but when you’re at the mercy of the library, you have to willing to chuck the plan out the window.

Party Games by R. L. Stine (Fear Street reboot #1)
Fun and creepy but in today’s world of instant media, lawsuits would abound. I don’t remember these books being so cheesy but I did devour the originals before the age of 14. 3/5

Comedy of Doom by Joseph Scrimshaw
I say him when he was touring with The Doubleclicks and really enjoyed his comedy. This books was funny, easy, and a great read for any geek. 4/5

Squirrel Girl Vol 3
Despite my general dislike of the rodent in question (long story), I keep enjoying this series. It somehow handles superhero problems with a great deal of levity. 4/5

The Impostor’s Daughter by Laurie Sandell
I always thought this was a regular memoir so when I saw it in my library’s graphic novel section, I pounced. This was interesting and not quite what I expected. I enjoyed it. 4/5

Singapore Noir edited by Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan
This enabled me to knock out a few challenge categories and introduce me to a place I never thought too much about. Some stories were meh but some I absolutely loved.

I did not get to Sex Criminals Vol 3. BF and I attended Looney Con this weekend which was in a synagogue. I felt a little odd bringing that into a house of worship at a kid friendly event. I was also able to get 10 pages into Me Before You by Jojo Moyes. Still, 5 books in one week isn’t too shabby.


Capsule Update

Wardrobes are an ever moving and growing thing. My capsule has seen some changes as well since I started it in June.

I have removed my tiered ruffle dress, snakeskin style swing tee, and culottes from my wardrobe entirely. My 11th Doctor dress will be shelved until it cools off enough for me to wear not-shorts underneath. My wrap skirt has been swapped for this shark skirt from ModCloth.

A patterned tunic from my mother and my red tank from MocCloth have been put on notice. I’ll see how I feel about them in the coming weeks. I’m currently waiting for a new top in an identical print to the shark skirt. I also returned the unused sports bra and will be donating my Old Navy work out top, a sports bra that never fit quite right, and a pair of workout pants.

This leaves me with 5 dresses, 4 skirts, 4 bottoms, 4 leggings, 2 camis, 5 ‘work’ tops (soon to be 6), 6 casual tops, 5 sweaters, and 5 costume pieces. With the space left in other places, I’ll be adding two tank tops I picked up at Firefly from Then Now Always and To Write Love on Her Arms. That still leaves me 5 below maximum excluding costume pieces. I’m at exactly 42 including costume pieces.

One thing I really want to do when I’ve got the time is seriously Kon Mari my closet. Dump everything I own on my bed and sort through it all.