Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Edge of (20)17

The post title may have been more appropriate going into 2017, but I only thought of it now, so here we are.

For me, 2017 felt like living through several years at once. Here's a quick round-up of some of my favorite pieces of culture from the past twelve months:

The most French bicycle

Stay With Me by Ayobami Adebayo - This is one of the most remarkable books I've read. It follows a couple in Nigeria struggling with infertility while trying to push back against polygamy. Each twist is enough for its own novel, and yet Adebayo continues to surprise the reader with her precise look at a marriage.

No One Can Pronounce My Name by Rakesh Satyal - As I wrote in July, this novel follows two Indian immigrants in Ohio as they struggle with loneliness and grief. It's beautifully written and even side characters have depth and complications. It remains one of my favorite novels.

Dead Letters by Caite Dolan-Leach - A woman returns to upstate New York after her twin sister supposedly dies in a fire, yet seems to have set up a twisted scavenger hunt to draw her back from Paris. This remains a favorite from 2017 for its creativity and careful pacing.

Marlena by Julie Buntin - Cat examines the brief, intense friendship she had during high school with Marlena, a drug-fueled teenager she met after moving to northern Michigan. I hadn't realized how much I crave novels that examine the nuances of female friendship until I finished and wanted to reread it immediately.

Crazy Rich Asians and China Rich Girlfriend by Kevin Kwan - Economics professor Rachel Chu agrees to join her History professor boyfriend Nick Young at his best friend's wedding in Singapore. Little does she know that Nick's family is one of the wealthiest families in Asia. The first book is hilarious, dramatic, and heartwarming and somehow the sequel is even better. I'm partway through the final book in the trilogy, Rich People Problems, and can't get enough. Kwan's footnotes throughout are delightful.

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Summertime Recommendations

March in Las Vegas

It's been a busy few months! Here are a few things I've been making and enjoying while celebrating the longer days:


My first short story was published in June and I struggle to describe fully how much it means to me. It's set in Chicago at some of my favorite places. You can read it at Chicago Literati, a nonprofit online magazine:
I had my first comedy pieces published and am particularly proud of them. I feel that much closer to achieving my youthful dream of being Tina Fey. The Belladonna editors are great to work with and I highly recommend submitting your stories.
I've continued working with the Billfold, most recently to discuss graduation season and my ever-expanding wish list:

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Favorite Things, 2016 Edition

Now into February, I bring you my annual favorite things list from 2016! With so many bigger things to worry about as we start 2017, this list feels rather minor. It's more culture-focused than gift-focused this year, and I hope it provides some entertaining links and maybe something new that you'll like as much as I do.


The Good Place is the best show. Eleanor Shellstrop (Kristen Bell) dies and goes to the Good Place, which is run by architect Michael (Ted Danson). She realizes it's a mistake - she's not the Eleanor who conducted humanitarian aid trips in central Asia - and chaos ensues. The diverse ensemble cast matches Ted Danson's incredible energy and comedic ability, and the character development and structure of the Good Place provoke fascinating questions about the meaning of goodness. All episodes are currently available for streaming on!

Image result for the good place

Sunday, April 24, 2016

First Quarter Check-In

How is 2016 going by so quickly? Most of the last few months have been taken up by setting up our new place, bundling up through another Michigan winter, and thinking ahead to the rest of the year. Here's a sample of some things I've found lately and loved:


Choppers - Rebecca Scherm 
"I wondered if the rabbit was negotiable.
'I don't think it's a snake,' my friend Nathan said. 'I think it's a dragon.'
'I don't think you should go through with this,' said pretty much everyone else." 

MFA vs. CIA - Jennifer duBois
"Many of my characters feel a sense of their unlived lives flickering around them; in my first few years of writing almost all of my narrators were men. As both a writer and a reader, I seem to possess a steroidal sense of credulity. “That wouldn’t happen,” I’d hear my workshop colleagues say later on—but the thing about things that wouldn’t happen is that once in a while, they do. And these make for interesting stories, if there is anyone to tell them."
How millennials should deal with baby boomers at work - Ann Friedman
"Restraint, millennials on Twitter agree, is indispensable, even when boomers aren't showing any. Older colleagues may drop comments such as, “I have children your age!” Under no circumstance should you point out that you have parents their age. Just smile and don't stop smiling for the duration of your employment."
Women Leaving Tactfully in Western Art History - Mallory Ortberg 
"oh gosh
I honestly wish that I could
but I
running water

I thought that was witches

I’m that thing
I’m witches, I’m too witches to come, sorry"

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Random Goals for the Next Year

At my last birthday, I took stock of a few things I was particularly proud of from the previous year. There are the larger-scale professional and personal successes, of course. However, I was especially excited about the following minor things:
  • I can now drink coffee black. Among the handful of reasons I tried to do this: the creamer in my office started tasting weird to me; we buy good quality coffee, and it seemed counterintuitive to brew it and then add coffee creamer; I had access to good espresso and wanted to enjoy it in all its glory; I got the idea that adults drink black coffee. Success! I enjoy black coffee, though still sometimes add cream and sugar.
  • I can walk in 3+ inch heels. I love being tall. Eric and I are roughly the same height, so for a while I avoided shoes that made me taller. Between working on a team with many men who stand above six feet and realizing that being taller than my spouse is a non-issue, I decided to figure out how to wear kickass pumps. I now have a few pairs that I love and wear regularly.
  • I am good at volleyball. I took volleyball for a few quarters in high school gym class, but usually focused my recreational sports on softball. This past summer, I joined a volleyball league and remembered that, oh hey, I'm good at volleyball and I really love team sports. I'd gotten burned out on softball by the time I turned 16, and it was fun to feel reconnected to athletics in a way I hadn't been in a long time.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Laura's Favorite Things 2015

Last year, I put together a collection of my favorite things as a year-end round up/belated gift guide. I'm trying to get this one out before 2016, and maybe it will give you some ideas for how to spend your gift cards from the holidays.

Jane the Virgin
Jane the Virgin is fantastic. The premise - Jane is accidentally artificially inseminated during what she expected to be a pap smear - is solid, but the characters are what make the show irresistible. Even the most over-the-top, such as telenovela star Rogelio De La Vega, are grounded in believable emotions and motivations. The writers manage to balance character growth against telenovela-style dramatics (drug lords! kidnapping! mistaken identities! long lost parents! murder!). Even the narrator adds to the show's charms. Jane the Virgin has me considering trying to learn Spanish this year. I highly recommend it.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Lazy Summer Reading

Possibly my favorite way to indulge in something luxurious is to find a great book and read for an entire afternoon. I don't have to be anywhere else and I don't have to do something more productive with myself. I can get lost in a story and emerge hours later.

Eric with books and baklava
Here are a few books for your summer afternoons:

Raw Shark Texts by Steven Hall

Eric Sanderson wakes up with no memory of who he is and only pieces together his history through letters from his past self, the First Eric Sanderson. His letters direct him to his therapist, who insists that he shouldn't open any packages that arrive for him. He agrees, until he's attacked in his living room by a fish that comes out of nowhere. The story explores the idea of conceptual fish as well as the power of language, memory, loss, and giant sharks in a captivating way. It was absorbing and moving in ways I didn't expect. The conceptual fish have swirled around my mind since reading the novel last summer.