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Last week I listened to this episode of Insights at the Edge (transcript also available at the link) where the guest was Rabbi Rami Shapiro. Rabbi Rami was a congregational rabbi for twenty years, and now teaches on being a holy rascal and what he calls "perennial wisdom." Tami, the host, asked him about moving away from Judaism. He describes Judaism as, "It's all about God as a male superpower somewhere," talks about issues with the idea of Jews as the "chosen people," and says that many organized religions treat a service as something to just get through. The whole time I was listening to that, I kept thinking, "That's a really narrow view of Judaism." Then I went to a Saturday morning torah service, and thought, "Oh, now I see what you mean." It felt like we were just doing things to get through them without any time to think about what they meant. Also, I discovered that where I know the Friday night service very well, I knew almost none of the Saturday torah service.

There's another part in the podcast where Rabbi Rami talks about the "house-church movement where people who don't feel comfortable at church are just getting together. They pray something, they read something, and then they just have conversations. ... I think what people were hungry for was conversation," which made me laugh because conversation is the last thing I want out of a religious service. I'm not even all that interested in the teaching part - I have a lot of other avenues in my life for that. The other thing that made me laugh is when he says, "we didn't have a cantor so we had whale song instead—recorded whale songs," because I thought, "You don't need a cantor; just sing!"

The combination of listening to Rabbi Rami's thoughts on Judaism and going to a Saturday morning torah service (with a cantor) really helped me define what I want out of a religious service. First, I want a slow, gentle approach to prayer where you get to really think about and feel what you're praying. This is particularly true for me in a Jewish service because I don't read Hebrew, so I'm always trying to follow along with the transliteration while skimming the English translation to see if there are things I don't want to say. Secondly, I want to sing or chant with other people. We chant in my yoga class, and my yoga teacher has various things she says to get people to not feel embarrassed or weird about it and just chant. I find chanting easy because I grew up Jewish without speaking Hebrew, so for me, singing with other people in a language I don't speak is my idea of collective spiritual practice. Part of what I like about Friday night services versus the Saturday torah service is that we sing a lot of songs I know, and when I started going to services on occasion again, what I wanted was to sing with other Jews. Lucky for me, our current rabbi does a contemplative service one Saturday morning a month that's an hour of chanting and guided meditation. It's really lovely, and I do really feel a connection with the divine during that experience. (I feel a little bit guilty sneaking out after the contemplative service instead of staying for the torah study afterwards, but, again, the conversation/learning part is not the valuable piece to me.)

In February, the rabbi's adult education class was "An Intro to Jewish Angels," so at the February contemplative service, she did a guided meditation with angels that I found really moving. (Also interesting: I had a very clear image of the personification of three of the four of them.) It probably helps if you've already done some chanting and breathing first and pause to breathe into each of these, but here it is as best I can remember it: Close your eyes. Take a few breaths. Now imagine to your right the angel Michael, the one who is like God. You may feel some warmth or see a light. Now imagine to your left the angel Gabriel, the power of God. In front of you, imagine Uriel, the light of God. At your back, imagine Raphael, the healer. Now feel the angels surrounding you in their warmth or in their light. Rest in their light. Now from above, feel the light of God pouring over you like honey.

I really love the divine light guided meditations the rabbi's done at both of the contemplative services I've been to so far. For a secular version of a filling yourself with light meditation, I also recommend Danielle LaPorte's Light Scanning Contemplation (at her site, registration-free Soundcloud version).
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I read either 40 or 44 books in 2016, depending on whether you count unique books read or instances of reading a book. Of those, a little more than half (23) are things I read for the first time. (Methodology note: this only considers books finished; I left out the one I gave up on halfway through.)

Top 5 books/series I read for the first time in 2016
Conjured by Sarah Beth Durst - YA mystery/thriller with magic that does some amazing things with point of view and verb tense.

The Graces by Laure Eve - YA, witchcraft, mysterious/charismatic family, new girl in town, somewhat reminiscent of The Craft.

Shadows Cast by Stars by Catherine Knutsson - YA dystopia with magic that I both enjoyed and kept thinking about for days afterwards.

His Fair Assassins trilogy (Grave Mercy, Dark Triumph, Mortal Heart) by Robin LaFevers - This is the medieval assassin nuns of the god of death YA trilogy I never knew my life needed.

The Fire Starter Sessions by Danielle LaPorte - I found this very inspiring, even taking into account that parts of it are more directed at entrepreneurs.

Top 5 books/series I re-read in 2016
The Glass Lake by Maeve Binchy - By far my favorite Maeve Binchy novel.

Chalion series (The Curse of Chalion, Paladin of Souls, The Hallowed Hunt) by Lois McMaster Bujold - Good fantasy novels with a fascinating theology and people with intense feelings.

Cordelia's Honor by Lois McMaster Bujold - Sci fi, interesting politics, including the gender politics. The only scene I vividly remembered is on page 563. The book is 590 pages long.

The Labyrinth Gate by Alys Rasmussen - This is my second favorite fantasy novel built around a Tarot-style card deck, and I enjoyed rereading it.

Attolia series (The Thief, The Queen of Attolia, The King of Attolia, A Conspiracy of Kings) by Megan Whalen Turner - This is another excellent fantasy series with an interesting fictional religion.
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Stories For Me

I got three stories for Yuletide! They are all on the theme of women after they give up on their mother's dreams for them, which is not surprising based on my requests, but still interesting. Also, when it became reveal time, I recognized two of these authors from other fandoms. I recommend them if you're familiar with the fandoms.

So Is It Wrong To Dance This Line (1135 words) by gaialux
Fandom: Dance Academy
Rating: Teen and Up Audiences
Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
Relationships: Kat Karamakov/Ethan Karamakov
Characters: Kat Karamakov, Ethan Karamakov, Natasha Willis
Additional Tags: Slice of Life, Implied/Referenced Incest
Summary: Often enough, all they had was each other and dancing.

In the Shadows, In the Light (1682 words) by escritoireazul
Chapters: 1/1
Fandom: Ice Princess (2005)
Rating: General Audiences
Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
Relationships: Ann (Ice Princess)/Gen Harwood
Characters: Gen Harwood, Ann (Ice Princess), Casey Carlyle
Additional Tags: First Kiss, Female Friendship, Yuletide Treat, Awkward Flirting
Summary:

Gen Harwood gave up figure skating to have a regular life. Now she just has to figure out what that means.

Plan B (2634 words) by carolinecrane
Chapters: 1/1
Fandom: Ice Princess (2005)
Rating: General Audiences
Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
Relationships: Gen/Ann
Characters: Gen Harwood, Ann (Ice Princess)
Additional Tags: Post-Canon, Yuletide Treat, Accidental Dating
Summary:

Gen walked away from her Plan A. Ann's Plan A just didn't work out, but Plan B's not always such a bad thing.

Story By Me

I was about 90% sure I wouldn't get matched on The Fast and the Furious because I only offered Mia and Letty and I figured anyone requesting it would request Dom and/or Brian. I got matched with someone who requested any characters and specifically mentioned being interested in Mia in the request, and I really enjoyed writing this alternate path for Mia after the first movie.

And You Welcomed Me (10724 words) by rsadelle
Chapters: 1/1
Fandom: The Fast and the Furious (2001), Fast and the Furious Series
Rating: General Audiences
Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
Characters: Mia Toretto, Original Female Character(s), Original Male Character(s)
Additional Tags: Alternate Universe - Canon Divergence, Post-Movie, Families of Choice, Roman Catholicism
Summary:

Mia makes herself a new family.

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Best of the Year

Here are the five best books I read last year, alphabetical by author's last name, with first lines. I'm cheating again by including two separate series as one book each, and by including a series whose first book made this list last year. (And which will probably make the 2013 list again if the third book is as good as the first two.)

  • The Magicians and Mrs. Quent, The House on Durrow Street, and The Master of Heathcrest Hall by Galen Beckett.
    It was generally held knowledge among the people who lived on Whitward Street that the eldest of the three Miss Lockwells had a peculiar habit of reading while walking.
  • A Curse Dark as Gold by Elizabeth C. Bunce.
    When my father died, I thought the world would come to an end.
  • Finnikin of the Rock and Froi of the Exiles by Melina Marchetta.
    A long time ago, in the spring before the five days of the unspeakable, Finnikin of the Rock dreamed that he was to sacrifice a pound of flesh to save the royal house of Lumatere.
  • Happier at Home by Gretchen Rubin.
    A "happiness project" is an approach to the practice of everyday life.
  • Cast in Ruin by Michelle Sagara.
    The worst thing about near-world-ending disasters according to Sergeant Marcus Kassan - at least the ones that had miraculously done very little damage - was the paperwork they generated.
All of the Year

A decade ago, I decided that I would keep a list of all the books I read. It would be, I thought, interesting to see how much, and what, I actually read. So when I read a book, I wrote it down in my notebook. I liked the whole project so much that I've been doing it again each year.

What's here:
  • Books I read in 2012.

  • Authors of the books.

  • Dates I read the books.

  • Short notes about each book or links to my reviews if I did one. Note: reviews all contain spoilers.

  • Approximately how many times I've read the book.
What's not here:
  • Magazine and newspaper articles.

  • Fan fiction.

  • Short stories and individual chapters I read to remind myself of what the book was about.
This year, I read 43 books. For those of you playing along at home, that's 3 fewer than last year. 36 of those, or 84%, are books I read for the first time. 21, or 49%, were Young Adult novels. 9, or 21%, were nonfiction. 4 were written by a PoC author; 38 were written by a female author. Of the 34 books for which I counted protagonists, 3 had a PoC protagonist; 29 had a female protagonist.

The List )
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I've never watched Generation Kill, but I have read a lot of GK fic, largely because [livejournal.com profile] lakeeffectgirl started writing it. (This sometimes causes confusion when I run into GK gifsets on Tumblr; none of them look the way I imagine them in my head.) This is a four-story rec set because I couldn't find the fifth story I was going to rec.


we should do it again (Brad/Nate, 6378 words) by Lake
Summary: In which Nate has issues, and occasionally sleeping with Brad is the least of them.

You should really go read all of [livejournal.com profile] lakeeffectgirl's GK fic, but I'm choosing just one for this rec set, and I'm choosing this one because of the three I love best (the other two are Après moi le deluge and and my glory shall be love), this is the one I didn't beta read, which means I never commented on it as it went along, and I also meant to leave a comment on the finished story and never did. If I'd left one, it would have been something like, "Wow. This packs a lot of intensity into a fairly short story."


for my move, well I'm making it (Brad/Ray, 3226 words) by stolemyslumber
Summary:Ray has been a chick for three days when he sits down next to Brad on the couch, puts a hand on his knee, and says, “Brad. I think you should fuck me.”

Of course this rec set needs a hot suddenly a girl story. (stolemyslumber has also written a bunch of other GK fic. If you're going to read more, I highly recommend both we can take it easy if you want me to and then I pick up the pieces and run.)


For What It's Worth (Brad/Ray, 10876 words) by SarahJeanne
Summary: Neither of them really notice it's happening, until it has.

Very good accidental d/s relationship fic.


Bright College Years (Brad/Nate, 7780 words) by fourfreedoms
Summary: Bravo platoon as a fraternity.

This is possibly my most favorite frat AU ever. The throughline of the story is the Brad/Nate relationship, but it's also, in many ways, an ensemble story, and I love the other povs.


The lost story: the fifth story I was going to rec is the Brad/Nate one where Nate is sometimes female and sometimes male. I'm pretty sure I didn't hallucinate it, so if anyone knows what it is, leave a note in the comments!
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Jerry/Kramer is my Seinfeld OTP. It's possible that's entirely because of the episode where Kramer gets a job. Some kind YouTube user has excerpted only the Kramer's job bits from the episode, and I'm inclined to think Jerry/Kramer was also the writers' OTP for this episode. The video is not embeddable, but you can watch it here.
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I loved Justina Chen Headley's Girl Overboard, so I put Nothing but the Truth (and a few white lies) on my PaperBackSwap wishlist, and sat down and read it in one sitting last week.

Patty Ho's mother is Taiwanese; her absent father was white. Her older brother Abe is their mother's smart and athletic darling; Patty bears the brunt of her mother's strict parenting. A fortune teller reads Patty's belly button and predicts she'll end up dating a white guy, which prompts her mother to ship her off to math camp at Stanford for a month.

From there, the book is, in a lot of ways, your basic summer at camp changes a teenager's perspective on her life story, although the perspective she's changing is largely about coming to terms with her mixed race identity. It's also very good. One of the things I liked about it is the way that, while there are men in her story who make a difference, a lot of what gives Patty strength are her relationships with other women: Jasmine and Anne, who Patty calls Kung Fu Queens and whose friendship and example help her see herself as a Kung Fu Queen and part of their trio that she calls "Asian Mafia Girls"; Auntie Lu, who helps illuminate the past that explains just how strict Patty's mother is; and, of course, her mother, who Patty ultimately comes to understand better.

One warning: Spoilers. )

If you like YA lit, I highly recommend the book.
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Uh, yeah. I don't really know how I stumbled upon these, but I like them. Like the last set of kink recs, these are long on porn and short on plot.

Strive to Overwhelm (2523 words) by faviconlocketofyourhair, girl!Steve/girl!Tony, "Steph Rogers has a very fast refractory period, and Tony loves that, she does, but sometimes even she needs to sleep."

This is no different. Tony sets up the machine in her bedroom, throwing a sheet over it so the dildo isn’t as obvious. Steph shows up after a run with Clint, and she’s sweating and hums into Tony’s kiss. “I can take a shower,” she says, even though she knows what the sight of her sweating, in jogging shorts and a tank top, does to Tony.

“Oh, no,” Tony says, and she slides her hands over Steph’s hips to hold her close. “I have an experiment.”

Steph’s face falls a little. “Oh,” she says. “In the lab?”

Tony laughs and kisses Steph, biting at her lips. “Sexy experiment. I want to see how you like something.”
Adjustments (2004 words) by faviconsomehowunbroken, Steve/Tony, Tony/tentacles, "It's three hours before JARVIS tells Steve that Tony is ready."

Steve laughs softly as Tony stands back up and walks back towards the tentacle machine. He drops his pants as soon as he’s out of Steve’s reach, tossing a smirk over his shoulder as he runs a hand up the length of the nearest tentacle.

“Any requests?” Tony asks, flicking the end of the tentacle with his fingertip. It ripples and moves, curling around Tony’s hand and tugging. He laughs as he stumbles toward it.

“Oh,” Steve says, almost involuntarily. Tony glances over and grins.

“I think we’ll just see where it takes us this time,” he suggests, and all Steve can do is nod.
As Passionate Machines (2155 words) by faviconsinuous_curve, girl!Steve/girl!Tony, "Steph makes the mistake of asking, “What do you do for fun?” one afternoon when she and Tony are alone in the mansion, when they’re both sweaty and pleasantly sore from a couple hours spent sparring."

Tony grins. “I think you want to try it.”

“Okay, then,” Steph says, hiding her tangle of fear and desire behind defiance. “Okay, I want to try it. What do I do?”

“Get naked,” Tony says promptly.

Steph never changed out of her thin tank and shorts after Tony finally collapsed and declared she would die if they went another round sparring. She strips off her clothes, panties, and sports bra, setting them in a pile on the nearest table. Her nipples go hard in the cool basement air and she crosses her arms over her chest, even though Tony has seen her naked hundreds of times at this point. It’s different.
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If you don't know what knotting is, fanlore has a good overview. I'm sure there are a lot of interesting stories to tell about alpha/beta/omega worlds, but I'm not in it for those stories. I'm totally in it for the porn. Overstimulation/people taking it beyond what they think they can is one of my top five kinks to read, and knotting totally plays in to that. These recs tend toward the shorter and plotless side.

SPN RPF

Working Hard/Hardly Working by [livejournal.com profile] poor_choices. Chash has done a fair number of knotting stories around the question of "What about the girls?" and this is my favorite of them all: Jared Padalecki/Danneel Harris/Genevieve Cortese, "Jared has the best job ever, in that he gets to fuck hot omegas and make out with a hot beta during his downtime." Bisexual threesome; what more do you want?

There's a jangle of bells, and Danneel sighs. "Customer," she says, slumping back against him. "What do you think, yours or mine?"

"I hope mine," he says. "I've got a raging hard-on and you're not available until eleven."

"Longer, if this girl wants a proper knotting," Danneel says, smugly. Jared isn't allowed to get off with Danneel during work hours, because he needs to be ready to take care of the omegas if they stop by. Which works for him--he just follows Danneel home and fucks her on her own bed.
Sure to Lure Someone Bad and its sequel, You Are A Fever by faviconObstinatrix, faviconmistyzeo Jensen Ackles/Jared Padalecki, "Jensen plans to take care of his heat the way he normally does: alone. But there’s a stranger on the subway that has a better idea."

“I’m Jared,” the guys says, very quietly. “And I’m gonna fuck you.”

It should be insulting. It should be ridiculous, and outrageous, and the exact opposite of really goddamn hot, but it isn’t. Jensen sucks in a sharp breath, a pulse of want and need rocketing though him. His cock is fully hard now, throbbing in his jeans, and he has his briefcase positioned just right to not scandalize the whole train. Jared takes another step into his space, gets a foot between Jensen’s boots where he’s bracing against the subway’s movement, and his hard thigh between Jensen’s spread legs. His crotch is against Jensen’s ass, and Jensen can feel the solid line of his dick.

“Jensen,” Jensen says, choking on a moan as the guy, Jared, ducks his head to the curve of his neck and inhales. He’s obviously got his animal instinct in check, just enough that he can keep up the charade of normality in public, but Jensen’s got a feeling this guy will take him apart.
X-Men: First Class

Reading XMFC fic usually just makes me irritated with the movie all over again, but we're just in it for the porn here, so the plot doesn't really matter. (This is also why the not quite 60s elements of the porn don't bother me much.)

Fighting Acceptance by faviconheeroluva Hank/Alex, "Not all of Hank's changes are so obvious, and he has problems adjusting. Alex finally gets through to him."

Alex’s mind abruptly supplied him with a vivid image of what it would look and feel like fully erect, but Alex pushed it aside. Mouth suddenly parched, Alex swallowed thickly, his tongue darting out in a failed attempt to wet his dry lips. Forcing his gaze upward, Alex met Hank’s terrified, wide-eyed gaze. He was obliviously prepared for rejection, for disgust or fear.

Those were the things farthest from his mind at that moment, and probably one of the hottest things he’d ever seen. Alex said as much. “You’re hot.”
much in common by favicon1001cranes Hank/Alex, "Kink meme fill. Knotting, and neither Alex nor Hank know what's coming."

Hank catches him staring, and that's it, the awkward-face is back.

"Don't even," Alex says, and he launches himself at Hank for good measure. Literally launches, and he knocks Hank onto the bed more by surprise than force. "I can't wait," he slurs, because sex does this to him, it knocks him out, it makes him languid, it makes him want. He gets pushy and malleable all at once. "I want to suck your cock so bad," he croons, shoving one hand between Hank's legs, fingers sliding just over the head, and Hank makes a noise like he's been shot.
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When I returned Happier at Home to the library, I skimmed the shelf for its call number and picked up The Wishing Year: A House, A Man, My Soul - A Memoir of Fulfilled Desire by Noelle Oxenhandler. I love these kinds of one-year books, and the author bio on the back flap let me know she's a practicing Buddhist, which also appealed to me.

I sat down to read The Wishing Year and couldn't put it down. Oxenhandler starts with two wishes - for a house and for spiritual healing - and adds a third - a man - after a month. Oxenhandler talks throughout the book about her skepticism about wishing, both in that she doesn't know if it will work and in that she is a "wish snob" and has reservations about wishing for material things. Over the course of the year, she learns to wish more readily, which is one of the things that makes it so engrossing. I think the weakest of her wishes is for a man. I'd be interested in knowing if the relationship lasted; she spends a lot of time talking about ways in which he isn't such a great fit for her, particularly with his relationship to money.

If you like year-long memoirs or find wishing interesting, I highly recommend The Wishing Year.
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Today I'm thankful for Little Mosque on Hulu and the people on Tumblr who blogged about it. I'm about halfway through the series, and I've laughed a lot.
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needs must (98686 words) by faviconthatotherperv

This is an AU where Harvey is Harvey and Mike is a paid sub. It's almost 99,000 words, so it's one of those things you don't want to start unless you have a lot of time on your hands. I started reading it, and I planned to take a break at one point to do something else, and I just couldn't tear myself away from it.

Mike needs the money for Grammy's care, so he finally takes a long-term, very highly-paid subbing contract with Harvey. Mike's done this kind of work before, but he's not into subbing - or so he thinks. As time goes on, he finds out he's wrong about that, and Harvey helps set him on the path to law school. Plus, of course, they fall in love.

I loved this story. There's a middle part that hews closely to the plot of the show that I thought was only okay, but the rest of it was exactly what I wanted out of this kind of story. (Weirdly, to the point that I felt like I couldn't email this rec because it was too close, but posting it publicly to LJ doesn't bother me.) If you don't like this sort of fic, this story isn't going to change your mind, but if this is your sort of thing, I definitely recommend it, and I think most of it will make sense even if you don't watch the show.
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Today I'm thankful for [livejournal.com profile] lakeeffectgirl. We've now been friends for long enough that I can refer to it as a very long time. We've drifted in and out of various fandoms over the years, sometimes together and sometimes separately, and it's a joy to be in a fandom together again. There are a lot of other great things about her, but right now one of them is that we spend a lot of time emailing back and forth about hockey. In the midst of one of our threads, she emailed me a snippet about Mike Richards in high heels, which I starred so I got to reread it every time I went to email something else to her in that same thread. When she took NaNo prompts, I told her that even though it felt like cheating since she's already writing so many things I love, I would throw in additional votes for a few things, including more high heels. She turned that original Mike in heels snippet into middle of that riot. Until she wrote it, I'm not sure I realized how much Carts buying Richie heels would absolutely be my kind of thing.
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Today I'm thankful for YouTube. Amongst all the other great things about it, if there's a song I have in my head but not my iTunes, I can pretty much always listen to it on YouTube. (This afternoon's song I keep replaying is Fergie's Glamorous featuring Ludacris.)
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Those of you who've been around for a while know that I'm a fan of Gretchen Rubin's Happiness Project blog, and you may further know that I wasn't as excited about her first book on the subject, also titled The Happiness Project. She now has a second book on the topic, Happier at Home, which I was able to request from my local library much faster than I thought was going to be possible.

I liked Happier at Home much more than The Happiness Project. (Keep in mind that I read the first book two years ago, so it is possible this is a change in me more than a change in her.) I thought it was a more useful, concrete book. One of my problems with the first book was that I felt I didn't learn anything I didn't already know from the blog, where I didn't feel that way about this book. I've been reading her blog all the way through the time she implemented the happiness project for Happier at Home, and somehow that worked better for me with this book. I recognized things in the book that I'd read posts about on the blog, but instead of finding that repetitive, I got a thrill out of it, a little like I was an insider. I do still wonder how it would read to people who haven't read the blog - there were places where I could practically see the hyperlinks to previous posts that would explain her basic philosophy (and she did just post about her abstainers vs. moderators distinction in response to a lot of book tour questions about it), and there are patterns to how she talks about things that are familiar if you read the blog - but I think it would still be a useful book even if you aren't a regular reader.

As the title implies, the focus of the book is on being happier at home. As she usually does, Gretchen (side note: proper book review etiquette would involve using her last name, but I feel like I know her too well from her blog for that) breaks her project into several thematic areas that she then focuses on one at a time on a month by month basis. She then has four or five specific resolutions within each thematic area. I found the resolutions for this book much more concrete - and, in many cases, more widely applicable - than the ones in the previous book. I finished the first chapter on "Possessions" and put the book down to reorganize a nearly-unusable cabinet. I also finally threw away my broken umbrella (although I haven't yet replaced it).

There are three of her specific resolutions that I've been thinking about. The first is "give warm greetings and farewells." This is one of those resolutions that doesn't seem particularly applicable to me: I live alone, and I have people over about once every other month. However, we already have mandatory warm greetings at work: when someone comes into the main office area, everyone has to say hello to them before they can fully enter the room, and they have to go around and greet everyone individually (originally, the options were handshake, fist bump, or high five, but it's devolved to everyone just exchanging fist bumps). It really has made a difference in the attitude of our office, and it's exactly what Gretchen talks about: taking a moment out of whatever you're doing to greet someone. I've been trying to do the same thing when people leave for the day, although I have to admit I'm terrible about looking up from what I'm typing to say hello or goodbye.

The second resolution I've been thinking about is "make the positive argument." The idea behind it is what she calls "argumentative reasoning": "When a person takes a position, he or she looks for evidence to support it and then stops, satisfied." Gretchen specifically talks about this in the frame of her marriage: whenever she's upset and tempted to think something like, "Jamie isn't very thoughtful," she then thinks to herself, "Jamie is very thoughtful," and can come up with a lot of evidence to support that argument as well. "Make the positive argument" fits right in with a lot of similar advice about seeing the positive side of things, but it's one of those things that you hear over and over again, and then you're in the right place and it's said in just the right way that it sticks with you.

The third of her resolutions that I find interesting is "enter into the interests of others (within reason)." The basic idea is to take an interest in other people's interests by listening or asking questions: "entering into other people's interests is an important way to show respect and affection." I've been thinking about this in two ways. One is that I've been trying to be a better listener over the past few years, and paying attention to and asking questions about other people's interests (which is not something I'm good at, particularly the asking questions part) is one way to do that. The other is that one of my coworkers, who I don't know very well at all, brought in a craft project for us when it was her turn to lead our weekly teambuilding activity. One of the things I really liked about it as an activity was that she told us that the craft supplies she'd brought for us to use were just a small portion of the supplies she has, and that she has an entire room at home devoted to crafting. Crafting is very much not my kind of thing, but knowing that about her and seeing what kinds of things she brought in for us to use has made me feel much warmer toward her.

I would definitely recommend Happier at Home, and if you read it without having read the blog, I would especially love to know what you think about it. I liked it so much that I might actually buy myself a copy to have on hand for reference when it comes out in paperback.
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It took me six weeks and two vacations to read Apollo's Angels: A History of Ballet by Jennifer Homans. That has nothing to do with quality. Instead, it has only to do with the length of the book. It's 648 pages long, and even though the last hundred pages are endnotes, bibliography, and index, it still makes for a lot of dense reading.

Homans takes us from the beginnings of ballet in the seventeenth-century French court all the way through the death of Balanchine in the 1980s, with an epilogue on the state of ballet today. At every stage, she intertwines the history of ballet with the history of the places she takes us, which gives the reader a context for what happens in the ballet world. Although it's a relatively dense history, it's not a hard read. The style is not quite conversational, but it doesn't read like dry academic prose, either. It reads much like a lecture. There is an audiobook version; if audiobooks are your thing, I imagine this one would read well.

Overall, I greatly enjoyed the book, and don't have much to say about it, but it does have three flaws worth talking about. First, it doesn't have a ballet glossary. There aren't really that many ballet terms in the book, but there were a few I didn't know, and a glossary would have been helpful. Secondly, her grasp of sexual identity terms is pretty shaky. She refers to someone as "homosexual (at times bisexual)" and says that someone else "was homosexual (although he also loved women and married one)." Unless she was relying on people's self-identification (which, given the time periods, I somewhat doubt), both of those sound like bisexual people. Thirdly, the book falls apart a little bit toward the end. Homans was herself a dancer trained at Balanchine's School of American Ballet, and she doesn't quite have the distance to talk about the more modern choreographers she covers. She also makes a lot of assumptions about the reader's knowledge of more modern ballet - one section begins with, "Everyone knows Jerome Robbins," and I didn't - where the book would have been stronger if she'd continued on with the assumption that the reader didn't know anything about ballet's history. The epilogue is a particular disaster. Homans bemoans the state of ballet today and doesn't have much hope for the future. The problem with this is that I wasn't sure if I could trust her judgment or if it was just a case of "things were so much better in my day." It's almost too bad the book was written two years ago; I'd be interested to see what she thinks about how the recent uptick in ballet-related TV shows (I watched three this summer) might affect the future of ballet.
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Sidney Crosby and the Russians Who Love Him

Fandom, take note: this man is not a robot:

Picture )

I have to admit that I can barely handle this picture. Look how absolutely delighted he is to have that child in his arms. You know who else loves kids?

This guy:

Geno! )

Also, this guy:

Ovi! )

Where is the nanny AU where Sid has a baby and hires Geno or Alex to be the kid's nanny?


Danny Briere (with bonus Taylor Hall, Tyler Seguin, Scott Hartnell, and Claude Giroux)

Whatever, like I was going to make a hockey post without including him. First, let's watch this:

Video )

This is the video I tell people about when I'm trying to describe how unintentionally dirty hockey is. Barely legal draft prospects Taylor Hall and Tyler Seguin visit the Flyers locker room where Danny tells them how hard or soft he likes his sticks and how many he goes through in a season. And then Tyler Seguin can't keep himself from commenting about how tiny Danny is.

The only bad thing about that video is that it's during playoff season, which means Danny has terrible facial hair. So let's look at him in the adorable hats the Flyers had for the Winter Classic:

Adorable hat! )

And while we're on the subject of the Winter Classic, I may have watched this video a very large number of times today:

Video )

It's titled "Flyers See Winter Classic Ice," but is actually just Scott Hartnell and the Briouxs checking it out. Hartsy greets all five of them with, "Hey, Brieres."


Carts+Richie 4-EVER (with bonus Staals!)

This gif floated around tumblr recently:

Carts and Richie making hearteyes at each other. )

Mostly, it makes me want a college AU, but I can't say why it reads that way to me. Also, it comes from this video:

Video )

The best thing about this video is that nearly all of the dialogue is just the Staals chirping people. Best Scandinavian trolls.


Tyler Seguin's House of Bros

I really mean it when I say that Segs and his husband and boyfriends are making my whole summer better.

First, his husband was upset that Segs and the dog were napping without him:

Picture )

Then Segs took his other other boyfriend to see Magic Mike:

Picture )

And then slept on him in public:

Picture )

Also, it appears that someone in that house is sleeping in a bed with pink blankets:

Picture )

Really, how does this kind of thing happen in real life?


Danny Briere's (ex?-)Husband's New Boyfriend

Let's just start with pictures of that time Claude Giroux took Paul Bissonnette as his date to the NHL Awards:

Claude and Biz on the red carpet )

And lest you think that's fangirl exaggeration, allow me to assure you that every interviewer they met on the red carpet called Biz Claude's date, in those words. And then there's the video that the screencaps above come from. You may need a minute to prepare yourself for this. Keep in mind that it includes this exchange:

Alyonka Larionov: I'm just wondering, how did this relationship start?
Claude: I don't even know. When's the first time we met?
Biz: It's complicated.
Claude: My status on Facebook, "It's complicated."

Yeah, that happens:

Let's go to the video tape. )

And don't forget the first red carpet interview where they talk about how they were hanging out together in Montreal when they decided Biz should be Claude's date:

Video )

You have no idea how much I want Claude/Biz fic. And the fact that no one wants to break up Claude and Danny isn't going to stop me from talking about it. Possible plot bunnies:

The one where Danny's straight and Claude is not: Claude's young, but he's not completely stupid. He knows falling in love with an older straight man who already has a family isn't going to end well for him, so he moves out of Danny's house, gets his own place, gets over Danny, and hooks up with Biz.

The other one where Danny's straight and Claude is not: Danny really is just a friend. Claude tends to just hook up with people, and then he starts hooking up with Biz.

The one where they're poly: Claude and Danny have an open relationship. Possibly they're monogamous during the season and free to do whatever (or whomever) they want during the summer. This summer, Claude spends a lot of time hooking up with Biz.

The one where they fall in love: Biz is not into relationships. He just likes sex. And then there's Claude, and he thinks it's just hooking up. (This would be like that Taylor Hall/Ryan Whitney story with the part of Taylor Hall played by Claude and the part of Ryan Whitney played by Biz.)

The one I'm most likely to write: Claude and Biz casually hooking up in varying cities. (If I end up writing it, it's probably just going to be a sex scene that hinges on Claude asking, "Can I fuck you this time?" and Biz finding that he really likes being fucked.)
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I wrote this whole post at work today, and then Carter and Richards got their last piece of happily ever after with their Stanley Cup and no one will care about anyone else, but I wrote it, so have it anyway.

Hockey people, if you don't have [livejournal.com profile] lakeeffectgirl and her fic journal [livejournal.com profile] alonewithghosts friended, you're missing out. She finds and/or writes the best things.

Once upon a time, before she even liked them, she outlined the epic Brioux plot for me, and then she wrote some bits of it. She's ditching it now, but she has put the breakup scene of my heart (and a few other bits) up at her fic journal. Be forewarned, it is full of sadness, but in a really satisfying way. (Sometimes I just go reread that scene. I love it that much.)

She also directed me toward this video )which is all about Mike Richards being sad after he got traded. We would both very much like some Mike/Cabbie fic if anyone would be into writing that.

Also glorious is this post by [livejournal.com profile] gigantic which has both a video of Kings players talking about Twilight (Did you know Mike Richards read the books? I have no idea why they appeal to hockey players, but I almost hope he and Carter are reading 50 Shades of Fan Fic now.) and a fabulous plot bunny about hockey players having a YA lit book club.

Also devoted to making my summer better: the Tylers. [livejournal.com profile] littledivinity has an awesome primer about them, and they're continuing to live up to everything that primer promises. They live together in the off-season, which prompted Seguin to tweet about yoga. Then he adopted a puppy. Then Brown retweeted some other guy who said of them, "Good to see u boys are still happily attached at the hip." I don't know why I find these two in particular so delightful, and yet I do. Possibly it has something to do with Brown calling Seguin "the wife" in a cheerful and non-demeaning way.

Also delightful, this picture of P.K. Subban and Carey Price wearing each other's names. )Clothes sharing and people wearing each other's names forever.

Anyway, [livejournal.com profile] lakeeffectgirl and I have been discussing tropes we could apply to the Briouxs or Carter and Richards. Tell me your favorite tropes we could plot bunny!

I have so far written no Carter/Richards (Given the way these things go, I'm sure I will eventually. Keep in mind that they once played on a team with Patrick Sharp, who makes everything more entertaining.), but I now have three Brioux docs: the one where Sean has a boyfriend, the one where Hartsy is confused and no one got divorced (I really want to write more of this, but I don't know what else would happen), and the one where Danny is Claude's professor. I was going to post something not Brioux this weekend, but then I decided I didn't want to (a) read through it one last time for anything that needs to be fixed or (b) deal with AO3. But clothes sharing and feelings sometime this week, I promise.
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It seems like all my hockey posts are just repeating [livejournal.com profile] lakeeffectgirl, but as much as I feel like I've abandoned the rest of my fannish friends (there's a clear divide: the two of us are into hockey; everyone else is all Avengers all the time), this really is what it's like when we're in the same fandom. Anyway, have some links.

First, [livejournal.com profile] lakeeffectgirl's hockey nicknames spreadsheet that anyone can edit. If you know nicknames that aren't on it, add them! I used the spreadsheet this week, so it is useful for writers. (You will get bonus points in my book for including a source citation.)

Secondly, she also transcribed Sticking Together, the definitive January 2011 news article that lays out the Briouxs' domestic arrangements. Highlights include Danny asking Claude to move in repeatedly, neither one of them thinking there was anything weird about their living arrangements, and the kids preferring Claude to pick them up from school.

And then there's her series of Brioux snippets. I am the lucky first recipient of these snippets in my email, and they make my day every time. I don't even know if I can put into words why I love them so much. They are just exactly the kind of story I want to wrap myself up in. They're domestic and soft and full of cuddling and oblivious marriedness. If you don't know anything about hockey, all you need to know for these to make sense is that Claude Giroux lived with divorced Danny Briere and his three sons for a season, then moved out. (Alternately, you can read the news article from the previous paragraph, since it works perfectly well as a Brioux primer.)

Unrelated to the Briouxs, you could also go read this Mike Richards and Jeff Carter article from the Philadelphia media. It's not fan fic, but it might as well be. Richards can only speak in the couple's we and the writer informs us, "While Mike Richards grew to enjoy life in L.A. this season, Jeff Carter seemed to be dying a slow death in Columbus and didn’t hide his unhappiness." I honestly think the hockey media might be even more invested in this relationship than the fangirls.
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I keep thinking I should post about hockey more so we can have more conversations about it and do all that fannish stuff, but (a) I'm not very industrious when it comes to things like pictures and video and (b) I think [livejournal.com profile] lakeeffectgirl is the person most interested in it, and she and I email about hockey all day long anyway. And speaking of, go read her snippet about the Briere kids wanting Claude to move back in. It's so great! Also, I really want all the stories about the Briouxs and their kids. ALL THE STORIES. (Well, actually, only the good ones. Badly written ones can stay unread.)

Mostly my everyday tiny hockey things go on Twitter or Tumblr. I have a confession about Tumblr: sometimes I open things with the intention of reblogging them, and then don't because tagging them seems like too much work. (And I refuse to reblog without tags. My biggest Tumblr pet peeve is untagged and uncaptioned pictures. You can't interest me in people if you don't tell me who they are.) I think I use Tumblr all wrong anyway because I almost never just reblog things. Everyone who follows me and is interested in whatever it is probably also follows the person I'm reblogging from, so there's no real point in reblogging unless I'm going to say something about it, which I don't think is how you're supposed to use Tumblr. You all know I'm wordy anyway, so of course I can't just use Tumblr for pretty things. I also often open things and then decide that, no, I'm not going to pick a fight about it. (But I think there's at least one thing that's getting some angry commentary if I see it a third time.) See? This is why I can't just be fannish, because I overthink things and refuse to just capslock. Semi-relatedly, I'm horribly jealous of how much time people seem to have for fandom. Why can't I have a job where no one cares if I watch videos of hockey players taking us on tours of their houses at my desk?

I must have more time than I think, though, because I ran out of hockey fic to read. (If you know of things I'm not likely to have read, meaning things not at AO3, you should tell me about them!) I tried reading some Generation Kill fic instead (because I generally love GK fic even though I've never seen the show), but it turns out I've read an awful lot of it already, particularly the AUs, which are what I like most. I don't know what to read now. Is there new good Star Trek reboot fic?

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