Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Life Lately | May

May slipped by in the way only the busiest of months can. My office is operating on half the usual number of staff, and with our big conference at the end of the month (happening as this is posted) every work day was crammed full. 

I took a few opportunities -- planned and unplanned -- to travel. Near the beginning of the month, I spent five days in Raleigh for a funeral and a college graduation. I hadn't been back since Christmas, and the days were crammed full with family and longtime close friends. The other weekends I spent in near and near-ish cities -- Fredericksburg and McLean in Virginia, Annapolis and Baltimore in Maryland -- rotating between walking trails, coffee shops, and bookstores. 

This month I was more intentional than usual about spending my free time well. I set goals for my free time, which initially seemed counter-intuitive but helped more than I thought it would. I set reading and writing goals, resulting in finishing 4 books from my unread shelf and publishing a blog post every week and several articles on Medium. Some of my 2019 goals involved hiking and getting out of D.C. once a month, and I did each multiple times. I made intentional plans with friends I hadn't caught up with in a while and re-connected with old coworkers.

I don't want to get ahead of myself and sound too optimistic, but May should be the close of a busy spring and lead June into a change of seasonal routine. I'm looking forward to fewer regular commitments, more evenings and weekends outdoors, and more progress towards yearly and monthly goals.

Favorite Books of May //

Spring by Ali Smith
The third in Ali Smith's seasonal quartet. It is nearly impossible to review or explain Ali Smith's books, particularly this quartet -- it's like she takes the twitter-speak of the day and turns it into something real. The isolated, scattered, short, incomplete thoughts of the day are made more probing, more human. She puts a human face to all sides of the issues she discusses; she "humanises the machine," and it works brilliantly.

An American Summer: Love and Death in Chicago by Alex Kotlowitz
In the summer of 2013, Kotlowitz set out to document the violence in Chicago's South and West sides and its effect on the communities that live there. Interviewees tell of the repeated violence they've seen, how it doesn't harden them like media narratives suggest but instead stays with them and tears families and friends apart. Kotlowitz lets his subjects speak rather than trying to analyze their stories, so there are few answers given and no judgment shown. Rather, Kotlowitz shows the reality of the violence and the complications in trying to untangle it.
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