The Moving Edition | This Week's Five

Friday, February 24, 2017

That's right - this is the moving edition. I can finally talk about our big secret and how I'm dealing with it.

1. A new job

We are moving between jobs, homes, and cities. Towards the end of last year, the husband accepted a job in Cincinnati, which was a huge step up for him. For a while, I have been looking for a job change but I have been dragging my feet on that. When the husband got this opportunity, I started looking as well and found one relatively soon. I won't be joining until two weeks later, mainly because of time-consuming paperwork but time has certainly gone by very quickly since I got the offer. I'm both excited and sad. I've been itching to announce this for the past one month but I had to wait until I told my company. I've been with my current company and in Lynchburg for almost 7 years, and am going to sorely miss my colleagues and this place. But, I know this is the right move for us and for our family. It's going to be rough for some time, while I transition and get used to my new job, but I can't wait for things to quiet down, because you know, I'm big on routines and predictability.

2. Oh, the things we own

With that said, guess what we have been so busy with for more than a month? Yup, packing. I am in shock that we have so much stuff. It was easier to ignore it all when they were sitting in shelves or cabinets or hanging on the walls. But, taking each item, packing it, and putting it into a box has me wondering how we ended with so many "essentials". It's ridiculous. We have been packing a little everyday to avoid having to do many sleepless nights closer to the d-day. We still have so much to do, but I am beginning to see the finish line. Telling my office yesterday about my move has made it mentally easier to actually speed things up. Somehow, the idea of telling my colleagues has been this big block that I couldn't look past. And now that it is done, it's made it easy to take care of what's left.

3. A new home

We are lucky to already have a buyer for our house. Although we won't be closing just yet, it's the biggest hurdle crossed. We are moving into an apartment for now - a huge downsizing for us but we will be looking for a house once we are somewhat settled. In other words, I have been spending a lot of time poring through Zillow and MLS, and ogling at beautifully decorated houses priced above my budget. I mean, some of these houses have wall to wall bookshelves that are built into the house. It is hard to stop wanting that house once I see that. Honestly, this is just my way of dealing with the big change that is coming. I am still sometimes in denial that in two weeks, we will be in a new home.

4. African American reading

I have been reading quite a bit this month. Two books finished (which is a lot for me) and three books in progress (which is too much for me). Somehow, I have been in the middle of several African and African American books this month. Totally unplanned but all the more welcome because one thing that has always bothered me is that I have to consciously look for diverse books. I'm glad to see more diverse books slowly making their way into the mainstream. Of course, the books I'm reading are among the more popular ones in their categories so there is still a lot of work to do, but it's a step in the right direction. I still have a post drafted on my current reads that I need to finish writing - someday this month, I'll get there.

5. When busy, open Facebook

After years of giving Facebook the cold shoulder, I downloaded the app on to my phone this week. Yes, I am literally embarrassed to admit that but Facebook's groups (on topics I care about) are a wonderful escape when I need to relax. Right now some of those topics are Instant Pot (what a magical device!), Home decor (hey, I do want some ideas on decorating my potential next home), Minimalism (because, you know, see #2 above), and Montessori (I am hoping to get Shreya started in such a school in a few months). Of course, political stuff is always on my feed and last night, I got sucked into one such wormhole but for the most part, I limit my news to news channels and Twitter.

So that's my life for a few weeks so far. What's happening at your end?

A Very Slow January | A Month in Review

Thursday, February 9, 2017


I barely read a book in January. Even though I started the month with very good intentions, by the time the first week was over, I pretty much abandoned my reading. It's not that I passed through a rut but other things came up and I found it easier to just put aside my books and, at the end of each day, watch TV. So that's what I did.

I did finish one book though - Michael Pollan's Food Rules, which I blazed through in less than an hour, while the baby toddler napped. It's that short. Besides, this is the first time in a long period that I carved out some time to read a physical book. Of course, that was in the first week of January, followed by three weeks of nothing. Ha!

I'm not complaining, honest. This is what worked for me in 2016 - I had months when I read nothing and months when I read a ton of books. So I expect more of the same this year, and frankly? I liked that approach much more than when I used to plan my reading.


Blogging also didn't happen much this past month. I just about managed to post my 2016 review and 2016 favorites before the month ended. But I am working on some review posts currently so I may have something coming up soon. I've also been thinking about where I want to take my blogging this year, as I always wonder at the start of each year. I will likely shake some things up to suit my routine, cut out some kinds of posts, add some other kind of posts, but nothing too drastic.


I am still watching Star Trek Voyager. This is the longest I have spent with any TV show. I love it and am savoring every minute of it. You could almost accuse me of intentionally watching it slowly just so that it doesn't end soon. Right now, I am halfway through Season 5 with two more seasons left.


Work was alright. There were some frustrating days and some rewarding days - not too different from everyone else's workdays. We’ve been through some very rough months in the past so any month that's only frustrating and nothing more is okay by me.


We had just returned from a week-long vacation to Boston at the end of last year, so much of the first week was spent mostly playing catchup. We did make a short weekend trip to Cincinnati because that's where the husband's client is based in and that's where he travels to every other week. It was more of a meet-and-greet friends kind of trip but we did head to downtown one day and enjoyed walking along the Ohio river.

The other thing that happened this month was that the husband and I started the Game on Diet! game. Do you guys remember that one? A few years ago, lots of us did the game with several others. Even though I only did it for one month five years ago, I liked the ideas behind it so we along with his brother and sister-in-law decided to start a slightly modified version of it, in an effort to lose weight and keep some healthy habits. So far, it's working like a charm. It has also prompted me to get in 10-11k steps every day - nothing close to what Kathy gets in daily but it’s still something.

2016 Favorites in Books

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Last year, this time, (with a 6mo keeping me busy) I managed to post my annual favorite books list around the 13th of the month. This year, I am posting on the 29th of the month. At least, we are still in January. But, next year, I have no guarantees on making this post on time. Still, maybe the benefit of being late to the party is that I am so late that you are all probably over the tiredness of reading yet another 2016 post. Right?

Truth be told, it is getting harder for me post here, pretending that everything is all right in the world. That makes it harder to blog - since November, I was expecting that "This too shall pass" but I'm not so sure now. With all that's going on, I somehow managed to write this post, so here goes my 2016 favorites.

Among the heavier, deeper, not-so-quick reads of the year, these six had a resounding impact on me:

Reality or Fiction? book of the year: The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood. When I read this book, I got plenty of goosebumps because so much of it sounded very relevant to the present. And that was seven months ago. I'd probably weep with despair today.

The book with many layers: God Help the Child by Toni Morrison. My very first impression of Morrison after reading this book was "eh? that's it?" And then a nuance from the book revealed itself to me. And then came another one. And then more. Very soon, I realized that there were so many layers to this book and that it was one fascinating story to try to explain to someone.

The most realistic (graphic) fantasy epic: Saga by Brian Vaughan. I am still disappointed that it took me so long to read this book. It's one of the most diverse and realistic fantasy fiction out there. And those illustrations - Fiona Staples does a fabulous job bringing the story and the characters to life.

Two books with kickass women: Girl Waits With Gun by Amy Stewart and Ten Days in a Mad-House by Nellie Bly. Both these books are set at a time before women (in the US) even had a voice. Both show a woman standing up to the establishment and making a change happen. One is fiction (yet based on a real character and true incident) and the other is nonfiction.

Creepiest book I ever read: The Woman in Black by Susan Hill. I started reading this book in a mountain cabin on a creepy windy night. Needless to say, I didn't sleep too well that night.

And then, among the lighter reads, these four stood out. I'm surprised I don't have more books below since most of the books I read last year were lighter or faster reads. I guess on some level, I still struggle to rate books that I finish reading quickly. How do you rate a book that you didn't spend a lot of time with?

If you love Mexican food, then go read Gabi, a Girl in Pieces by Isabel Quintero. Of course, this is not a food memoir or cookbook but Gabi knows how to talk about food (and about many other life matters too). I had to make it a point to never read this book before mealtimes because I found myself craving for Mexican food so badly (and we don't have a good Mexican restaurant in the area, so craving for it didn't mean I could satisfy it properly).

For all kinds beauty advice, Nora Ephron has it all: I Feel Bad About my Neck. I am a big fan of Ephron's movies so I was not surprised to find that I loved her essays in this book as well. They are very tongue-in-cheek humorous little pieces that occasionally felt elitist but only occasionally. Didn't dampen my interest in this book however.

The poetry book that everyone should read, even if you don't do poetry: Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur. I can't remember how I came across this book. I think I ran into one of its poems online, then looked for the book in my library, found it, devoured it, and struggled to go back to my life. It was too good.

Finally, I've leave you with the cutest funniest LOL Picture book: Mother Bruce by Ryan Higgins. If you have been wondering, yes, I read a lot of picture books last year. Mother Bruce wins the prize for being the most entertaining one of the lot. Seriously, you have to pick it - it just tickled the heck out of me.

Are any of these books on your favorites list?

2016 Review and Planning for 2017

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Hello fellow readers, bloggers, and dear friends! I've been semi-struggling with squeezing blogging back into my life. Not due to a lack of prioritizing but because quite a few chess pieces are still moving right now at my end. I'm hoping to be around sporadically until they are sorted out - I just need to figure out how to do it.

Anyways, I wanted to do a 2016 review before it got too late to talk about 2016. The whole of January qualifies as a good time to do such a post, correct?

2016 in books

In so many ways, 2016 was one of my best reading years. I read and listened to a good variety of books. My reading was mostly spontaneous with no reading list guiding it. Sometimes I read the book that everyone was talking about and sometimes I picked a book that sounded quirky. Sometimes the book in my hands just had the right description to suit my mood.

As easy as it was to read a book that felt right at the moment, I also found it not hard at all to put a book down if it didn't feel right. In the past, putting a book down was usually accompanied by a disappointing realization that I may never be reading that book ever. The time-constrained Athira however accepted that there can be another time or day for that book. Maybe never, but that was okay too.

One quality that many of my books read last year shared is that they were quick reads that could be easily put down whenever the baby and now toddler preempted my reading. This explains the higher number of books compared to last year (50 vs 47) and also the lower page counts (7168 vs 9344).

Without further ado, here's my 2016 in numbers:

Planning for 2017

2017 is already shaping out to pretty much the same pattern. Spontaneous reading is deciding my reading for the most part. I am continuing to stay away from making reading lists. I did however decide to do the Read Harder challenge this year but only to help pick my next read when I'm looking for options and not as a list to follow through the year. I will also be reading books via my Postal Book Club but that's probably the extent of my reading planning for this year.

I can't wait to read about YOUR 2016 review and/or 2017 reading. I'm slowly making the rounds through bloglandia. Tell me one thing though - are you planning to do any readalongs this year?

Happy Holidays!

Thursday, December 22, 2016

I hope you all have a wonderful (and very safe) holiday season with your near and dear! We will be on vacation with some of our close friends and family near Boston, but I'm hoping to be back here with more regularity once the holidays are over. See you in the new year, which, I hope, will be much better than 2016!