This Girl Reads Books

Yes, it’s true. This girl has fallen into an absolute spiral of locking herself in her basement and just all reading books, all the time. Why? Why have I turned into a book hermit?

Partially – I went to a writing conference with my brother Kevin from the weekend of August 10-12. You know how being around people who are hyped about the books they are writing just makes you want to read all the books they are writing?

Partially – it’s been hot and smoky in Calgary which makes me just want to hang in a cool, dark, well ventilated space. It’s as if I am a good bottle of red wine. (And yes, I know we are so much luckier than our friends in BC or California, but my asthmatic lungs just can’t mess with that 10+ air quality index situation.)

And partially – I have a problem that I think all my book buddies can relate to. I put a bunch of buzzy e-books on hold at the library, I waited months for them and then suddenly they all came in within days of each other. Yeah. That’s what I’m dealing with. My life is obviously terribly challenging. #firstworldproblems

Reading books, while being terribly fun, inspiring and transforming, is not exceptionally good blog content. Unless you do what I’m doing… and review a few of the books you’ve read lately! Yes! Without further ado… here are some books:

Circe by Madeline Miller

Circe by Madeline Miller

How can a goddess be so human in her flaws and dreams? Circle is absolutely magical in its re-telling of the full mythology of Circe (not just her appearance in The Odyssey). It is equal parts poetry and modern realism and absolutely compelling.

I’m super into Greek mythology, mostly due to performing in productions of Oedipus Rex, Antigone and The Trojan Women during university. Well, and Troy. Man, I love a trashy, non-historically accurate “historical fiction” movie. Circe takes the Circe of The Odyssey and pieces together the various myths about her in an absolutely gorgeous way. It does start up a little bit slowly and I did keep thinking every mortal she met was Odysseus but I still whipped through this dense book in something along the lines of three days.

The Rosie Effect by Graeme Simsion

The Rosie Effect by Graeme Simsion

Ugh.

I’m sorry. I loved The Rosie Project and I just kind of felt like this book subverted everything that was charming and quirky about the first book by taking it too far. In an attempt to create drama, Simision pulled all the characters so far that they were just unlikable. Your mileage may vary, but this book was not my jam. Some books just don’t need a sequel, methinks.

The Fountain by Suzy Vadori

The Fountain by Suzy Vadori

As a YA novel, you expect a quick read (which isn’t a bad thing!) – what I didn’t expect was to be completely engrossed and whip through this lovely little story in about two hours. Vadori masterfully paints what it’s like to be a teenager (granted, a teenager who makes a casual wish only to have it actually come true… can’t we all identify with that?) in a novel filled with magic, friends and rivals, adventure and a tiny bit of romance.

I whipped through The Fountain over a glass of wine and reviled in the memory of what it was like to be a teenager and live vicariously through a little magic.

Vacationland by John Hodgman

Vacationland by John Hodgman

No, John Hodgman is not particularly relatable. But who wants to read a memoir that basically describes their own life? He is insightful, funny and incredibly self-aware. Just like his podcast, Vacationland offers an absurdly witty reflection on the human condition told by a man who was once a teenager who just wanted to grow up to be a middle-aged bachelor.

I do think you might need to be into John Hodgman and his whole vibe in order to appreciate this book… but isn’t that true of a lot of memoirs? Context is key.

You can check me out on Goodreads (which I literally just started up), if you so wish… or you could just recommend me some good books here! Hit me up, whatcha reading!?

All images lovingly stolen from Goodreads

Bonding in Musicals – Theatre Thursday

wicked

Here’s a fun picture of the time I did Popular for a talent show thing in high school. In my defense, it was 2003-2004 and incredibly timely and not overdone at that point. Musicals!

I feel like sometimes when I write about theatre topics (especially some of the more serious ones like fear in theatre or auditioning for shows), the most important thing about why we do theatre doesn’t come across. Creating something is fun. It’s scary and exhausting and hard work, but it’s also fun. I find theatre especially remarkable because it is a collaborative creative experience, when so much creation is very solitary. Recently, someone commented to me they enjoyed doing musicals more than straight plays because they found that the cast bonded better during musicals.

Well, huh. That stopped me in my tracks. It’s been a long time since I’ve done a musical – I love them, but this girl does not sing, like to the point that when I have auditions that require singing, I sing Sing from A Chorus Line… wait, what was I talking about? Oh yeah, it’s been a long time since I did a musical but, in my experience, that actually is a pretty true statement. But why?

Is it because the rehearsal period for a musical is typically longer? (There’s so much more to learn – not just lines, blocking and motivations but choreography and songs as well!?)

Is it because choreography so often leads to touching each other? (Okay, that sounds creepy… I just mean that you need to get comfortable with each other pretty quickly because trust is important and… okay, you get it. I think.)

You know, I actually do think it has to do with the choreography and the songs. Not the touching or the time it takes, but the process of learning something together. Theatre is so collaborative but when you really think about it – only the actor learning the lines actually learns those lines. You can run your lines with your co-stars, they can help you, but at the end of the day it’s all on you. The way that we learn the things that are specific to musicals – song and dance? Those things happen together and they can’t be performed without each other.

But damn, what is out there for those of us who sing Buffy the Vampire Slayer songs because Sarah Michelle Gellar isn’t a singer either and they wrote the songs for her?

I’ve figured it out. Collective creation. Write a play together. Completely create something from the ground up. This is what my theatre company does and it’s amazing.

We may have a little project in store for the 2018-2019 theatre season and I’ll track the journey here. Watch this space.

Come ON, Stampede!

LOLOL, guess who didn’t do a final wrapup for their No Spend April challenge?

Classic Erin. New blog series = the flimsiest of plans.

Short version = despite spending an inordinate amount of savings on new couches/chairs, No Spend April went pretty well. I didn’t continue it into May, but I am certainly more mindful of the spending and I am planning (as I do every summer) to have a Frugal!Summer. Maybe this summer it will actually work?

Plus the couches and chairs have now arrived and my living room looking freakin’ wicked stunning. (Yes. I quoted Bend and Snap from Legally Blonde. This is a theatre blog, sort of. I am very very cool. Just the coolest.)

Anyway. I love recommitments to projects I will probably not complete, so here I am again. Recommitting to a vague project that I will probably not complete. This project being “writing things on a blog that maybe people want to read”.

Things like… Stampede wrecks dating apps. It just rips them up and trods them underfoot like so many horse droppings from the many horse related activities of these 10 days.

I’m not anti-Stampede, like so many people I know. I get that ten day drunkfest side of it is inherently gross and that it, like all things in the world, is not for all people. (For the record, I’m sure that there are people in every city that has a major event that lots of tourists flock to that hate that event. I know this is not unique to Calgary.) However, I like weird food, people watching and have a couple good Stampede related memories every year… I really am not anti-Stampede. But being mildly single and mildly interested in dating this year?

OOF, Stampede just wrecks dating apps. Can we make a city-wide Stampede only ordinance that as soon as you pass our borders, you have to update your profile to indicate that you’re just here to drink overpriced beers and hook up with girls? All these profiles with nothing in them is making it nigh impossible to tell the Stampede bros apart from the normal bros. I think I’m on hiatus, ya’ll.

Come ON, Stampede!

And that is my rant for today. Love it.

On an actual important note… what kind of content do ya’ll want to see on here? Because otherwise it’s just going to be all meaningless rants like this one all the time. Which is fun for me. And maybe only me. What do you want from me?!

No-Spend April – Week Three

No-Spend Week Three
Week Three

I keep thinking I skipped writing about No-Spend Week Three and I’ve messed up – and then I realize that I’m currently in Week Four and April has just been a bit of a runaway blur. I still have over a week left! I should be less smug about “no-spend”.

The Spends

  • Truth time: I bought a set of chairs and a new couch last week. (Note: Couch was bought on my mom’s HBC credit card so she can get points and I will be reimbursing her when the bill comes due, so not until May.)

This is literally the opposite of “No Spend”.

But hear me out! I’ve been looking for a new living room set since last summer. Despite being a fully functional adult and actually having a pretty cute house, I’ve never actually picked out my own, new furniture and bought it. Right around January, I picked out the chairs I liked at Ikea and the couch/chaise I loved at The Bay. Since then, I’ve just been waiting for a good price and, coincidentally, Ikea had a living room sale and The Bay put their couches on sale for 55% off, which is the best sale I’ve seen since the summer.

So, since this spend was from savings, it’s something that I would have spent a ton more on if I waited until May and it was mindful… I think it fits into the philosophy of “No-Spend April”.

  • This week also contained my pre-selected social outing – it was my friend’s 30th birthday and his girlfriend planned a whole surprise day for him (board game café, beer and chip tasting, Escape Room, Pin Bar). To be honest, I originally wasn’t going to go. I even texted her and was like “Ugggh, it’s No Spend Month!” And then I thought about it. About how I would probably regret it if I missed it, about how I shouldn’t be an anti-social shut in, about how I had budgeted myself one night out this month. And about how, really, life is about moderation and normally I would go out every weekend and have so many self-dates so I was still doing better. So I went and it was so much fun and so good to see my friends.

The No Spends

Groceries were $23 this week and I’m just killing it.

Maybe because I did purchase my new living room set this week (though it won’t be moving in until early June), but this month really isn’t feeling like a No Spend Month anymore. Not in that I’m spending a ton, but I’m just not feeling deprived, which is what I expected. It’s really just about making better choices about what I’m spending my money on and focusing on my goals.

I think I’m going to continue with a No Spend May (I have waaaaay too much stuff in my pantry still that I need to cook through), excluding a shopping day with Claire for my upcoming Vegas trip. I have finally found a roommate that I like, who will be moving in for May, which means a little help on the household expenses, but I don’t want to be going too wild just because of that. Gotta save for the future. Be the ant and not the grasshopper and all that.

The Yoga

I am two days behind on the challenge and I am totally okay with that. I am getting so much better at finding the space in my day and prioritizing my yoga. 30 days to make a habit, right?

No-Spend April – Week Two

Week Two
No Spend April Week Two

Week Two! Coming in late because I spend the weekend in the mountains and now I have hives. Which I suppose is helping me do my no-spend month?? (The hives, I mean, not the mountains. Well, maybe the mountains too.)

The Spends

  • I mean, I guess I spent $12 getting my allergy meds for my hives? But I think Blue Cross is going to ultimately reimburse me for that and also I feel like hives is a medical emergency so it fits in my criteria.
  • As alluded to above, I spent the weekend in the mountains and did spend $28 on Saturday night on drinks for myself and my mom. She bought me dinner that night, drove us out to the mountains (thereby using her gas) and also bought me Macdonald’s to eat in the car so I was feeling guilty that my mom was taking care of me as a 30 year old woman. I had to pull my own weight, at least a little bit!
    • Also, this challenge is all about making better choices with my money and I think I did that. A weekend in the mountains could normally be significantly more expensive!
  • Groceries this week went significantly over the $30 budget at $44 – but I was under budget last week at $20 and I think some of the things I picked up this week will roll into next so I’m not too fussed. As long as I hit around $120 for the month, I’m happy.

The No-Spends

I’m feeling quite pleased with myself still. I definitely think announcing/blogging about the No Spend month has helped, as my friends have been super supportive and suggesting all kinds of fun things we can do for no money. It really is easier to be fun and frugal than I had convinced myself that it would be and I think I can see myself continuing this lifestyle into the future.

I should mention here that I did purchase a Newbie month at HotShop Yoga and Spin – I typically pay quite a bit more in fitness memberships and had placed all of them on hold for the month, then found that I missed the fitness class setting. I count this as a win – I get to try somewhere new and I’m still being fiscally prudent. I’ve just discovered that it’s not reasonable for me to completely cut fitness spending out of my budget, unless my financial situation makes it absolutely necessary.

I also cashed in some Shoppers Optimum points during the bonus points event this past weekend to replace some “essentials” that were running on fumes – hairspray, deodorant, primer potion so my eyelids won’t be forever shimmery. Success!

The Yoga

I continue to love the TRUE challenge – there is nothing like turning off all the lights, lighting a candle and settling in for half an hour on my mat each night. I think once this 30 day challenge is done, I’ll try to create my own daily at home practice by combining various other Yoga with Adriene videos. Maybe I’ll eventually feel comfortable enough to create my own flows!