Friday, January 24, 2014

Belated Book Review

It took about 24 hours to get from New York to Cape Town, the first destination on our honeymoon. What does one do whilst en route and disconnected from social media? It of course depends on the person. My husband watched a bunch of movies, which is now becoming quite annoying, as he vetoes all of my film picks as of late. ("Great Gatsby?" "Seen it." "Mud?" "Seen it." UGH!). At the time of our first departure (and on every plane ride throughout our honeymoon adventure) I wasn’t in the mood for movies. Or TV. Or sleep for that matter. I read. A lot. (Certainly more than the two books I had packed.) See below for my complete Honeymoon Book List, along with brief critical blurbs:

1.    Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter (Packed by moi in America.)
I wasn’t quite as enchanted by the book and enamored of its author as Helen Schulman, but I certainly enjoyed Beautiful Ruins. The novel is rich with beautifully written descriptions and smart in its story-telling. I would recommend it, but not gush over it.

2.    Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple (Also hand-picked in America; thank you Danny for the recommendation!)
This book, I GUSH over. My friend Danny recommended it. I saw it on bookshelves. I picked it up. I put it back down. This novel did not appeal to me at first. Then I gave it a chance. And thank goodness! I am obsessed. Can you tell? “Where’d You Go, Bernadette” is hysterically funny and addictive. Told mostly via email messages, its unique format adds to the genius of the book. Semple somehow accomplishes the delicious outcome of a novel that is both laugh out loud funny and a page turner. It’s an easy, delightful read and perfect for plane or beach.

3.    The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls by Anton DiSclafani (Wouldn’t have been my first pick at Three Lives or Barnes & Noble, but the Cape Town bookstore we stopped in had a limited selection of American novels.)
This novel has been described as a “romantic page turner” and I agree. However there are far more enticing romantic page turners out there. I would pass on picking up this one.  

4.    Friends Forever by Danielle Steel (Seriously slim pickens at the airport in Jo’burg.)
I can safely say Friends Forever is probably the first and last Danielle Steel novel I’ll ever read. I know Steel is some kind of genius, what with her 128-ish best-selling books, and I hope to be even a sliver as successful as her in my own writing career, but her style isn’t for me.

5.    Mr. Penumbra’s 24 Hour Book Store by Robin Sloan (I forget where in Africa I found it, but I’d choose it all over again back in North America.)
This book, which takes place partly at a bookstore, is smart, current and totally different from anything else I’ve ever read. I would definitely recommend it, and not just for other book worms.

6.    Where We Belong by Emily Giffin (Also an Africa airport bookstore pick, and also something I’d choose in the States.)
I love me some beach chick lit, and I adored Emily Giffin’s first few books: “Something Borrowed,” “Something Blue” and “Baby Proof.” Where We Belong didn’t disappoint; it’s an enjoyable, easy breach read.


P.S. For more on my adventures in reading see here, here, here, here, here and here J
image via

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Kate Tempest

Outside of coming up with formulaic Haikus for school and writing birthday card rhymes for friends I’ve never been all that interested in poetry, but when I heard about Kate Tempest my curiosity piqued. Tempest is a young rapper/poet who just wrapped Brand New Ancients in Brooklyn. Her words are magical. And her M.O. is seeing the magic in the day-to-day commonplace stuff of culture. Even online tidbits reveal that Tempest is a unique and genius storyteller. And as she says, “When it works, it really works.”

Check out the Brand New Ancients trailer here, an article in the Times about Tempest here and her interview with Charlie Rose here.


[image via]

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Golden Globes 2014

Did you watch the Golden Globes this past Sunday? I was feeling especially psyched since I’d seen many of the films nominated. And I was of course curious to see all the ladies’ fashions. So I DVR-ed The Red Carpet. (Apparently there were incredibly important football games on during the Globes pre-show. And marriage means compromise J)

But DVR-ing the red carpet was pointless. Once football ended and the actual awards show started, there was no way I was going to watch the entire Red Carpet afterwards. So instead I watched the Globes while perusing red carpet images on Pinterest. Isn't technology the best?

As for the styles, I thought Olivia Wilde looked amazing. I was underwhelmed with most of the other actors’ outfits. I’m a big believer in finding a dress that makes you look your best, not wearing a frock just because it’s allegedly fashion-forward. Or so hideous it’s cool.

As it turned out, the more interesting elements of the 2014 Globes were:
- That one funny joke about George Clooney. (Choosing death over dating someone his own age. Quite witty.)
- Jacqueline Bisset (I have no words.)
- Matt Damon (How smooth is he?!)
- Jared Leto’s Bun (Just the bun, not Leto.)
- Andy Samberg (When he thanked “my team” I just lost it.)
- And last but not least, Leo.

Leonardo DiCaprio is known for never winning awards. I’m happy for him that he brought home a Globe. His acting in The Wolf of Wall Street was convincing. And The Wolf of Wall Street was well done and certainly entertaining. What I don’t understand is why it was made it the first place. If I had done a little research and known more about the (true) story, I wouldn’t have purchased a ticket to see The Wolf in the first place. The Wolf, based on Jordan Belfort’s autobiographical book, was basically an “f you” to the Everyman. Not my cup of tea. 


P.S. Check out this article, written by the daughter of a man who had been in cahoots with Belfort. 

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Guest Post: Elizabeth J. Neuse

Speaking of setting intentions, I’d like to share my mentor Elizabeth Neuse's post on her own New Year’s Resolutions.

Elizabeth is not only an amazing Yoga Teacher, she’s also kind, candid, cool, laidback and incredibly funny. I aspire to be like her as a yoga teacher and as a person. 

But back to The New Year. Check out Elizabeth’s 2014 intentions. You’re in for a treat:

Resolutions and Samskaras

This year I made one New Year’s resolution- to omit sugar and road rage from my diet. No one likes to picture her yoga teacher raging at other drivers, but it happens. I decided to begin on Jan 5th right after returning from vacation. As I walked into the yoga studio yesterday a sweet student offered me a truffle. Walking out another dear student gave me a box of truffles. Before I knew it I was driving through SoHo steering with my knee, holding a praline crunch cup between two fingers and using another finger to indicate how I felt about the driver who just tried to cut me off. A few moments later I snapped out of my sugar rage, cursing myself for breaking my resolution after only 15 hours (if you count the hours I was asleep). A few moments after that I remembered something about self-love and decided to get curious rather than hostile towards myself.
In Buddhist practice we learn that suffering comes in the form of two arrows. The first arrow is the inevitable life circumstance- someone cutting you off in traffic or forgetting that you have given up sugar long enough to scarf down a few chocolates. The second arrow comes in the form of judgment of the first arrow. The second arrow is the expletive that flies out of your mouth, like a rabid sparrow, fueled by the nasty thoughts you think about yourself when you “mess up”. The first arrow can be a tool for learning. The second is a weapon.
When I take a step back and look at the first arrow I can see that while my intention was to love everyone and save myself from early tooth decay, I hadn’t done much to address the samskaras (habitual patterns) that caused me to react in the moment. Yogis have known for thousands of years what scientists are discovering today. It is incredibly difficult to change our habitual patterns, because they are wired into our brains. BUT it is possible. Through tapas (dedication), svadyaya (self study) and Ishvara Pranidhana (letting go), over a long period of time we can change our habits.
With these teachings in mind I got curious. I noticed that although I had flipped the bird at the other driver, I didn’t actually feel upset. My nervous system had not responded the way it used to, with clenched teeth and a racing heart. I looked in the rearview mirror at the man behind me whom I had not let in. I repeated a phrase Pema Chodron offers, “Just like me.” Most of the time when someone does something we abhor, if we get really honest we can recall a time when we did the same thing or at least something with the same energy behind it.
“Just like me” opened me up a little.
At the very next light someone else tried to cut me off. Instead of honking and speeding up, I slowed down and waved him in. To my surprise it actually felt good to help him even if he was breaking the rules. Sandwiched between my “just like me’s” I acknowledged that open feels better than shut. Curious feels better than judgmental. Gentle feels better than angry.  
Now what about the truffles?
They were given to me as a gift. I told myself gratitude meant eating them. However, as a vegetarian for the past 18 years, if someone gave me bacon truffles as a gift I would not eat them.
What would I do? Share them with a bacon-loving friend. 
Last night I enjoyed one more truffle and shared the rest with my bacon-loving husband. I decided that small amounts of high quality chocolate eaten mindfully works better for me than deprivation. I also changed my resolution to this:
 In 2014 may I deepen my commitment to curiosity and kindness, to recognizing others as “just like me” and to letting go of my secondary archery practice gently, one arrow at a time.
What are your New Year’s Resolutions?
How will you support yourself in the process of making these changes?
May your 2014 be filled with rich insights, limitless joy and bacon truffles;)

[Reprinted with permission by Elizabeth J. Neuse. Elizabeth is a Senior Teacher at YogaWorks and you can find more info on her and her teachings here.]

Tuesday, January 7, 2014


As discussed here, I’m getting all new ID’s bearing my new name. I’m embracing my name change. I’m excited to be a Singer. The downside? Having to get all new ID photos.

I think I’m low-maintenance; my husband begs to differ. Justin agrees with Harry, of When Harry Met Sally fame: I’m the worst type of high maintenance, because I think I’m low maintenance. I don’t deliberate over outfits or spend very much time on makeup. But I do take my time ordering a sandwich. I’m particular when it comes to eating out.

When do I really primp? For big events, and for ID pics. I know to some it may seem ridiculous, but you have your ID’s for years to come! So when Refinery29 featured this post on looking fine for the DMV, I took note.

And I was pleasantly surprised when the cat lady (she literally had a cat with her in the bodega) taking my new passport picture provided the below commentary, in broken English:

“You vain.”

“But pretty.”

“I like you style.”

“You skinny.”

“Where you going?”

“I don’t like Mexico.”

“Ugh, the food.”


P.S. Speaking of vain and skinny, StyleCaster instructs on how to look skinny in pictures, here. (In case you didn’t get the memo about The Arm Trick.)

P.P.S. My first passport pic, from before I was vain J

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