So…who watched the premier of the “Roseanne” revival? Heh, ME!!!! I was overly excited for it, and well, I’m looking forward to seeing what the remainder of the season has to offer. I also whipped up some vegan sloppy joes with rosemary red potatoes, and it was pretty delicious.
I am continuing to roll right on down my reading list and I’m really excited to share the latest read from Blanche’s Book Club with you! It’s “Into the Wild” by Jon Krakauer. Here’s the description from Amazon.com:
In April 1992 a young man from a well-to-do family hitchhiked to Alaska and walked alone into the wilderness north of Mt. McKinley. His name was Christopher Johnson McCandless. He had given $25,000 in savings to charity, abandoned his car and most of his possessions, burned all the cash in his wallet, and invented a new life for himself. Four months later, his decomposed body was found by a moose hunter. How McCandless came to die is the unforgettable story of Into the Wild.
Immediately after graduating from college in 1991, McCandless had roamed through the West and Southwest on a vision quest like those made by his heroes Jack London and John Muir. In the Mojave Desert he abandoned his car, stripped it of its license plates, and burned all of his cash. He would give himself a new name, Alexander Supertramp, and, unencumbered by money and belongings, he would be free to wallow in the raw, unfiltered experiences that nature presented. Craving a blank spot on the map, McCandless simply threw the maps away. Leaving behind his desperate parents and sister, he vanished into the wild.
Jon Krakauer constructs a clarifying prism through which he reassembles the disquieting facts of McCandless’s short life. Admitting an interest that borders on obsession, he searches for the clues to the dries and desires that propelled McCandless. Digging deeply, he takes an inherently compelling mystery and unravels the larger riddles it holds: the profound pull of the American wilderness on our imagination; the allure of high-risk activities to young men of a certain cast of mind; the complex, charged bond between fathers and sons.
When McCandless’s innocent mistakes turn out to be irreversible and fatal, he becomes the stuff of tabloid headlines and is dismissed for his naiveté, pretensions, and hubris. He is said to have had a death wish but wanting to die is a very different thing from being compelled to look over the edge. Krakauer brings McCandless’s uncompromising pilgrimage out of the shadows, and the peril, adversity, and renunciation sought by this enigmatic young man are illuminated with a rare understanding–and not an ounce of sentimentality. Mesmerizing, heartbreaking, Into the Wild is a tour de force. The power and luminosity of Jon Krakauer’s stoytelling blaze through every page.
I’ll be honest, I’m not really sure just how this book wound up on my reading list. But, as you may have come to realize, when a book becomes available on my reserve list, I drive straight to the library, walk straight to the reserve shelf, check out said book, and I often start reading it without even looking at the cover or anything else.
One Sunday night, I laid into bed and cracked this book open, reading by just a small book light hoping to fall asleep. Well… I actually read almost the entire book and before I realized it, it was 1 am and I had to force myself to close my eyes.
This book HAUNTED me. I am not quite sure what about it gave me the chills, but I think it’s because this entire story is just so far beyond me. I have no dreams of living off of nature or purposefully abandoning myself into the coldest wild. In fact, that sounds like my biggest nightmare.
A few things about this story really struck me. For starters, he really didn’t do much prepping before he crossed the country by way of hitchhiking, and during his travels, he really had an impact on the people he met.
I was also absolutely amazed by his ability to remember things; details that helped him survive as long as he did. And, I won’t give anything away, but he didn’t die in stupidity. This guy was smart – and he lived a lot longer than I think most people would have.
Krakauer’s writing – at times reporting – was incredible to read. So much so, I added some of his other books to my reading list. There is a movie based off this book, but I’m not sure I am ready to watch it. The book shook me so much, I don’t know if I could see it… you know?
I’m recommending this book for adventure lovers and anyone who enjoys true stories. The next book I’ll be reading is “Better Than Before: Mastering the Habits of Our Everyday Lives” by Gretchen Rubin.
Tonight, I’m heading out to see the premier of “Ready Player One” – a movie based on a book I read last summer. I have been counting down the days for this movie to come out! I hope it’s fantastic and I’ll have a review of it tomorrow!
Hey, hey! It finally got chilly in Austin last week (yes, it even snowed!), and I’ve been SO paranoid that this would be year #3 of having the Christmas Mouse come for a visit. Blanche started meowing at my coat closet door on Wednesday, and ever since then I’ve been so paranoid (not to mention I had a nightmare about a mouse flying out of the closet, and then woke up convinced there was a mouse on the kitchen floor – it was a dust bunny).
I proactively set mouse traps, and spent a good part of 2017 scouring my place for any holes that would allow unwanted guests – and filling said holes. I was confident, but it’s starting to slip. I would be lying to you if I said I wasn’t sleeping with my hallway light on tonight.
I need sleep. And this weekend was set not up to not be forgiving in that area… wah! But, ’tis the season, right? I know everyone is busy as heck this time of year.
So, let’s slow things down a bit and talk about this week’s book from Blanche’s Book Club! It’s “Five Days at Memorial: Life and Death in a Storm-Ravaged Hospital” by Sheri Fink. Here’s the description from Amazon:
Pulitzer Prize winner Sheri Fink’s landmark investigation of patient deaths at a New Orleans hospital ravaged by Hurricane Katrina – and her suspenseful portrayal of the quest for truth and justice.
In the tradition of the best investigative journalism, physician and reporter Sheri Fink reconstructs 5 days at Memorial Medical Center and draws the reader into the lives of those who struggled mightily to survive and maintain life amid chaos.
After Katrina struck and the floodwaters rose, the power failed, and the heat climbed, exhausted caregivers chose to designate certain patients last for rescue. Months later, several of those caregivers faced criminal allegations that they deliberately injected numerous patients with drugs to hasten their deaths.
Five Days at Memorial, the culmination of six years of reporting, unspools the mystery of what happened in those days, bringing the reader into a hospital fighting for its life and into a conversation about the most terrifying form of health care rationing.
In a voice at once involving and fair, masterful and intimate, Fink exposes the hidden dilemmas of end-of-life care and reveals just how ill-prepared we are for the impact of large-scale disasters—and how we can do better. A remarkable book, engrossing from start to finish, Five Days at Memorial radically transforms your understanding of human nature in crisis.
I heard about this book on a podcast and I was sold when I heard: true story + Hurricane Katrina. This book uses sold investigative journalism to look into the days leading up to a criminal investigation in one of New Orleans’ most historic institutions.
It’s a glimpse into public health and the issues any hospital would face as a storm approaches – Do they stay or go? What about the patients? How could they logistically get everyone out safely and in time? What if the weather alert is really nothing to worry about?
The questions get deeper when you start to consider patients on life support. Will the generators hold up? How long might we be without power?
But the real question the doctors inside Memorial hospital faced in those five days were moral questions of life, death, and ethics.
This story is a chilling one, but it’s fantastically written. I’m recommending this to my true crime lovers, any students of public health, and all who love the great city of New Orleans.
The next book we’ll be reading is “Watch Me Disappear” by Janelle Brown.
I stayed up late last night baking cookies and finally watching “Home Alone” for the first time of the season. I was able to bake everything I wanted… minus the meringues. This is my second attempt ever making them and I can never seem to get the texture right. Anyone got any advice? I miiiight try it one more time before i just give up – they just look so pretty in the pictures!
Anyway, I’ve got another packed week ahead, but I’m going to try and squeeze in some more holiday movies before the holiday season flies by!
Howdy! Even after taking Monday off work to recover from my holiday travels, this week was a bit of a struggle – am I alone here? Yikes! I think this weekend is my last one that’s sort of empty (as far as plans go) before all of the holiday parties and activities go into full swing, so I’ll definitely be taking advantage of that.
I’m planning on taking a few dance classes (naturally), getting lots of reading done (I currently have three books checked out from the library and they’re due next weekend), and I’m headed to the Drafthouse to see “Christmas Vacation” for the zillionth time!
Last year, they hosted a cheese pizza party with a viewing of “Home Alone”, which was a lot of fun, so I’m looking forward to whatever surprises they have in store for this holiday favorite.
Anyway, let’s jump into this week’s book from Blanche’s Book Club! It’s “The Hot One: A Memoir of Friendship, Sex, and Murder” by Carolyn Murnick. Boy, that title just makes you feel warm and cozy, doesn’t it? Here’s the description from Amazon:
A gripping memoir of friendship with a tragic twist—two childhood best friends diverge as young adults, one woman is brutally murdered and the other is determined to uncover the truth about her wild and seductive friend.
As girls growing up in rural New Jersey in the late 1980s, Ashley and Carolyn had everything in common: two outsiders who loved spending afternoons exploring the woods. Only when the girls attended different high schools did they begin to grow apart. While Carolyn struggled to fit in, Ashley quickly became a hot girl: popular, extroverted, and sexually precocious.
After high school, Carolyn entered college in New York City and Ashley ended up in Los Angeles, where she quit school to work as a stripper and an escort, dating actors and older men, and experimenting with drugs. The last time Ashley visited New York, Carolyn was shocked by how the two friends had grown apart. One year later, Ashley was stabbed to death at age twenty-two in her Hollywood home.
The man who may have murdered Ashley—an alleged serial killer—now faces trial in Los Angeles. Carolyn Murnick traveled across the country to cover the case and learn more about her magnetic and tragic friend. Part coming-of-age story, part true-crime mystery, The Hot One is a behind-the-scenes look at the drama of a trial and the poignancy of searching for the truth about a friend’s truly horrifying murder.
…ok. So, I have to admit that I found this book on a book list (probably off Pinterest), and it sounded good, so I placed it on reserve. I clearly wasn’t paying too much attention because I didn’t realize it was a true story until I started reading it. Duh.
But yes, it’s a true story and even has an odd little twist involving Ashton Kutcher (as in pre-trucker hat), but still. It was an interesting, and downright creepy read, but I know there’s some true-crime lovin’ readers out there, and this one’s definitely for you.
The next book we’ll be reading is “Five Days at Memorial: Life and Death in a Storm-Ravaged Hospital” by Sheri Fink.
After totally pigging out during Thanksgiving, I was really happy to get back into my vegan lifestyle this week, and I made two new recipes, Cincinnati chili over whole wheat spaghetti and “chick”-en nuggets made from bread crumbs and pureed chickpeas! I served it with mixed veggies and sweet potato tots and it was delish. I’ll be whipping up two more new recipes this weekend and I’m pretty pumped about it.
Have a great weekend, y’all!
See? I told you I miiiight have a lot of TV posts this week – promise this will be the last one (until next week’s recap of “Southern Charm”). But, when I saw the previews for Investigation Discovery’s “Casey Anthony: An American Murder Mystery”, I could not look away.
I don’t like admitting that I LOVE true crime, because really I’m scared of basically everything. But, I get hooked on these sagas, and I know it sounds crazy because there are real people involved.
However, when this case hit the news, I know I wasn’t the only one that just couldn’t look away. I guiltily admit that I watched every minute of “Nancy Grace”, every chance I could get. Bad, I know.
What what it about the Anthony case that had Americans hooked? I can’t speak for everyone, but for me, of course it was the little girl, Caylee. She was so cute, and who would want her killed?
Secondly, it was the obvious (I mean BLATANT) evidence built up against Casey… there was no way she’d be a free woman. Or would she?
So yes, for the past three nights, I’ve sat a little too close to my TV and watched this creepy case unfold before my eyes yet again, and again, I’m shocked. Here’s a blow by blow of the 3-part documentary.
“Lies, Betrayal, and Murder”
Episode one kicks off with a 911 call Cindy Anthony (Casey’s mom) makes to Florida police, saying her daughter has stolen their car, and should be arrested. When police arrive, they quickly find out that Casey’s daughter, Caylee, has been missing for 31 days.
That’s right, 31 days, and Casey hasn’t told anyone because she was afraid. She simply tells police she dropped Caylee off with her nanny, Zanny, and hasn’t seen her since.
Casey takes police to Zanny’s apartment, where police discover she has been lying. Not only is Zanny’s apartment empty, but according to the leasing office, no one has lived in that apartment for 6 months, and no one in the complex goes by that name.
Casey tells police she works at Universal Studios, which also turns out to be false – she even pretends to go to work every day… but she has no job.
Meanwhile, police uncover yet another 911 tape from Cindy Anthony, where she is frantically saying that her daughter’s car smells like a “dead body”. Police recover the vehicle, and find a stained trunk with the stench of body decomposition. They send a piece of the trunk liner, along with two hairs, to the lab for testing.
The results are enough to arrest Casey for murder… and then, thanks to Florida law, we were blessed with those jailhouse tapes. Remember those? Of George and Cindy Anthony visiting their daughter, where she shows no signs of being worried about WHERE Caylee could be? Hmm…
“A Shallow Grave”
Without a body, it would be impossible to prove Casey murdered Caylee. So, it was considered a huge break in the case when an electrical worker came across a small human skull in the woods near the Anthony’s home.
It was Caylee’s, and there was a plastic garbage bag, a laundry bag, and duct tape, also recovered at the scene.
While there was no remaining tissue on the skull or bones, the laundry bag was matched to a bag at the Anthony home, and the duct tape contacted DNA evidence, and would serve as proof that the child was murdered, and did not die from an accidental drowning, as was suggested.
And then… the TRIAL. America was shocked when Casey’s attorney, Jose Baez, opened his defense stating that Caylee drowned in the Anthony pool, that George Anthony actually buried her, and that he had sexually abused his daughter.
“Ten Hours, Forty Minutes”
There was a ton of scientific evidence presented to the jury – including chemical proof that chloroform was used – and it was time for Jose Baez to present his side.
From his perspective, there was no body in the trunk. Instead, it was just old pizza boxes sitting in the sun’s heat. Basically, Baez takes all of the facts from the prosecution, and turns them into alternative facts before that was even a thing.
You probably already know this, but the jury finds Casey Anthony not guilty on all murder charges. She is charged on 4 counts of neglect, but since she had already been in jail for more than three years, she serves 10 more days, and is then a free woman.
The remainder of the documentary talks about what happened after – how she had to file bankruptcy after being sued from so many people, and that she was caught running naked from Jose Baez’s office, and later admitted to paying him with blow jobs instead of cash.
There was a little bit of new information offered, including an interview with George Anthony, where he says what he thinks happened – basically that Casey did kill Caylee, and that he is no longer on speaking terms with his daughter. He is still married to Cindy, who still claims that Caylee drowned in the family pool.
There are only two people who know the truth… and we may never really know.
Whoop – it’s Friiidaaaaay! I’m excited for the weekend because my dance studio is hosting it’s semi-annual showcase on Sunday and I’m really looking forward to the performance, and seeing all of my other friends rock their dances, too.
Each weekend I’ve been spending some quality time reading, and I hope to get a few hours in this weekend, too, because I’m just loving all of the books flying off my reserve list at the library lately. So, let’s talk about Blanche’s Book Club’s latest read: “Superficial: More Adventures From the Andy Cohen Diaries” by Andy Cohen. Here’s the scoop from Amazon.com:
The megapopular host of Watch What Happens: Live and executive producer of The Real Housewives franchise is back, better than ever, and telling stories that will keep his publicist up at night.
Since the publication of his last book, Andy has toured the country with his sidekick Anderson Cooper, hit the radio waves with his own Sirius station, Radio Andy, appeared on Real Time with Bill Maher despite his mother’s conviction he was not intellectually prepared, hosted NBC’s Primetime New Year’s Eve special, guest edited Entertainment Weekly, starred in Bravo’s Then & Now with Andy Cohen, offended celebrities with his ongoing case of foot-in-mouth disease, and welcomed home Teresa “Namaste” Giudice, from a brief stint in jail. Hopping from the Hamptons to the Manhattan dating world, the dog park to the red carpet, Cardinals superfan and mama’s boy Andy Cohen, with Wacha in tow, is the kind of star that fans are dying to be friends with. This book gives them that chance.
If The Andy Cohen Diaries was deemed “the literary equivalent of a Fresca and tequila” by Jimmy Fallon, Superficial is a double: dishier, juicier, and friskier. In this account of his escapades―personal, professional, and behind-the-scenes―Andy tells us not only what goes down, but exactly what he thinks of it.
So, basically after writing “The Andy Cohen Diaries”, Andy said he just kept writing about his life, daily, and pitched it to his publisher, even though they said they didn’t want it. But of course, they published it and that’s how this book came to be.
On the one hand, if you’re an Andy Cohen fan, or really just a fan of pop culture in general, this book is punctuated by a lot of events you already know about – Joan Rivers’ funeral, Sarah Jessica Parker’s look for the Met Ball, and the outcome of the World Series.
But of course, Andy gives us a look into the parts of his life that we wouldn’t otherwise know: the extensive renovation of his New York City apartment, the start of his relationship with #BrazilianAndySamberg, how his XM radio channel was born, the idea for touring the country with Anderson Cooper, and his summer adventures following The Grateful Dead with John Mayer.
Per usual, there were a few scenes in the book that had me laughing out loud – a la, Andy making the hugest deal ever out of Sean Avery and his “overbuttered” pancakes.
This book was a little slow to start for me, but I soon was hooked. However, I will admit that I love Andy. I’m not sure this book would translate to the non-fans, but check it out – especially if you love Bravo!
The next book Blanche’s Book Club will be reading is, “Truly Madly Guilty” by Liane Moriarty. I think this one was on my reserve list for at least three months – until now!
Aside from dancing all weekend, I’ll be doing lots of cooking/meal prep. Follow me on SnapChat @OrangeJulius7 to see what’s on my stove. Have a great weekend y’all!
Hello! Happy Weekend Eve! You guys… I took a new fitness class on Wednesday night, which kicked my ass so hard I thought I was going to puke… and despite being so sore yesterday, I still went to two dance classes last night. So today I basically want to die.
But, hey everything is always okay on a Friday, right? Anyway, I finished reading another book for the book club, one that I was just SO excited to read: “The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl” by Issa Rae. Here’s the description from Amazon:
In this universally accessible New York Times bestseller named for her wildly popular web series, Issa Rae—“a singular voice with the verve and vivacity of uncorked champagne” (Kirkus Reviews)—waxes humorously on what it’s like to be unabashedly awkward in a world that regards introverts as hapless misfits and black as cool.
I’m awkward—and black. Someone once told me those were the two worst things anyone could be. That someone was right. Where do I start?
Being an introvert (as well as “funny,” according to the Los Angeles Times) in a world that glorifies cool isn’t easy. But when Issa Rae, the creator of the Shorty Award-winning hit seriesThe Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl, is that introvert—whether she’s navigating love, the workplace, friendships, or “rapping”—it sure is entertaining. Now, in this New York Timesbestselling debut collection written in her witty and self-deprecating voice, Rae covers everything from cybersexing in the early days of the Internet to deflecting unsolicited comments on weight gain, from navigating the perils of eating out alone and public displays of affection to learning to accept yourself—natural hair and all.
The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl is a book no one—awkward or cool, black, white, or other—will want to miss.
I’ve basically had a girl crush on Miss Rae since the debut of her HBO series “Insecure” last fall. Little did I know that the chick was not only the lead actress in the show, but also the lead writer of it, having based the whole series on her successful YouTube show.
But her collection of stories was published before anything happened with HBO, so it’s definitely a different side of Issa. There are some pretty funny bits in there – particularly about how she was Catfishing people online before it was a thing, and well before she could drive.
There are several stories about her childhood, her family, and in general, her observations of black culture – despite the fact that she’s never wanted to be a voice on the “black experience”.
The story that stuck out to me the most was a simple one about her being robbed – nearly all of her film and computer equipment was stolen, including lots of work she’d already accomplished for film school. It took lots of time for her to get back on her feet (it was thousands of dollars’ worth of equipment), and that’s essentially how she came up with the idea for her YouTube series – she just wanted to share the story of her life, and how awkward she felt at all times.
This is why I love Issa so much – she’s cool as hell, but thinks she so awkward or insecure. When, in reality, we basically all feel that way (right??). It’s the great equalizer… well, minus Olivia Palermo. Pretty sure she’s never felt awkward or insecure in her whole life.
If you’re a fan of Issa, or comedians, this would be a good book to check out. I wouldn’t necessarily recommend it for literary critics.
The next book Blanche’s Book Club will be reading is “Goodnight Nobody” by Jennifer Weiner. Feel free to read along with me next week by giving me a shout on social media @OrangeJulius7 – I’d love to hear from you!
This weekend, I’m looking forward to tackling a few dance rehearsals (I’m performing on stage at the end of the month), and hitting up a romance reading event at a nearby library. I am also totally planning to watch the Grammy red carpet, but not the actual Grammy’s, given that no one good is performing. Yeah I said it, Bey.
Anyway – I’ll catch you all on the flipside!
Hey, hey! I am back at the office today, and wow is that whole come-down after Christmas ROUGH. It’s like this month-long build up for a single day and then, it’s over. It’s honestly how I imagine me meeting John Mayer for the first time, only on a 16-year scale, with devastating disappointment (don’t tell him I said that though).
The good news is, there’s another long weekend on the horizon, so there’s that to look forward to – wow, my life isn’t pathetic or anything.
But! I did get some reading done over my lil Christmas break, and I’m really excited to talk about Blanche’s Book Club’s latest read, “The Pioneer Woman: Black Heels to Tractor Wheels” by Ree Drummond.
I’ve had this book on my list for awhile, but I sort of forgot about it until I stumbled upon it at the library when I was looking for something else. I couldn’t put off reading it any longer; I figured I could probably use a good (and TRUE) love story in my life. Here’s the scoop from Amazon.com:
Wildly popular award-winning blogger, accidental ranch wife, and #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Pioneer Woman Cooks, Ree Drummond (aka The Pioneer Woman) tells the true story of her storybook romance that led her from the Los Angeles glitter to a cattle ranch in rural Oklahoma, and into the arms of her real-life Marlboro Man.
I came across Ree, or “The Pioneer Woman”, for the first time on Food Network, and I came to absolutely love watching her show, “The Pioneer Woman”. She lives on a gorgeous ranch in Oklahoma, and she makes fairly simple (yet delicious) dishes for her family and friends. I’ve made her enchiladas many times, and they never fail to delight!
Her husband, Lad, makes some appearances on the show, and he is very handsome, and he seems really genuine and kind. So, I wasn’t surprised when I read this book and heard the many times she described him as such, only she referred to him as the “Marlboro Man”.
In fact, the book reflected what I assume to be her real-life personality, because it was just how she acts on the show. However, true fans of this Pioneer Woman may have been just as surprised as I was to learn that she was once a big city gal, living in Los Angeles, working in corporate America, drooling over high-end designer clothes, and spending her nights out guzzling martinis. Who would have thought?!
But she did, until her life took an unexpected turn and she ran into this Marlboro Man one night in her home town. A month later, they went on a date… and they’ve basically been inseparable ever since. This is really a love story that touched my heart; one that I really needed to read.
One theme that’s brought up a lot in this book is something I’m still learning and trying to understand about love: that it doesn’t matter how much you embarrass yourself, how silly you are, whether or not your mascara is perfect, or in Ree’s case, just how much you sweat through a gorgeous suit, the one you’re meant to be with is still going to LOVE you.
I’m really glad I got to read this lesson in this way – because Ree’s story is really beautiful, and the way she tells it is sometimes laugh-out-loud funny.
Another cool part about the book is that, of course, Ree talks a lot about food! While it doesn’t quite explain how she got involved in her cooking blog and her show, she discusses the meals she made for Lad when they were dating – many of which she flubbed due to nerves, or simply because she wasn’t an experienced home cook yet.
The back of the book contains recipes for most of the recipes she mentioned, but one stuck out to me the most – the Tagliarini Quattro Formaggi from Intermezzo in West Hollywood. Since angel hair is my FAVORITE form of pasta, I knew I was going to have to replicate this dish… so don’t be shocked if you see it on my social media feed in the near future. But, just in case you want to make it, too, here’s the recipe:
INGREDIENTS: 1 cup of heavy cream, 1 pound of tagliarini or angel hair pasta, 2 tablespoons of butter, 1/2 cup of grated fontina cheese, 1/2 cup of grated parmesan cheese, 1/2 cup of grated romano cheese, 4 ounces of goat cheese, salt and pepper to taste, 1/4 teaspoon of ground nutmeg, and 1 garlic cloved, halved.
DIRECTIONS: warm the cream in a saucepan over low heat. Prepare the pasta according to package direction, but undercook it just a little so it’s al dente. Drain the pasta and return to the pot and add butter. Next, add the warm cream, and all of the cheeses. Stire gently, allowing the cheese to melt and coat the noodles. Add salt and pepper to taste, and add the nutmeg. Stir to combine. Rub the bowls you’re serving in with the garlic, before scooping the pasta into the bowls. Yum!
The next book Blanche’s Book Club will be reading is “A Man Called Ove” by Fredrik Backman. Read it with us by following and chatting right here on the blog or on social media @OrangeJulius7. Happy reading, y’all!
I am so excited to share the latest read from Blanche’s Book Club with you all! I’ll preface this by saying that the month of October was SO, so busy that sometimes reading felt like a chore to me, and that is a feeling I hate.
But, after this weekend, my schedule is clearing up more, and I’m looking forward to more leisurely reading time like I was used to during the summer months. I went to the library last weekend and spent a few minutes wandering through the stacks, instead of just running to the shelf of reserves and running back out – and I saw so many NEW, good-looking books that I immediately added to my list of bookmarks on my account. Having a full reading list makes me so happy; it’s unexplainable.
Anyway, the latest read is for all of my “Serial” podcast lovers – it’s “Adnan’s Story: The Search for Truth and Justice After Serial” by Rabia Chaudry. If you recognize Chaudry’s name, it’s because she’s the co-host on the “Undisclosed” podcast, which started shortly after “Serial” and also shared details surrounding Anan Syed’s case during its first season.
Chaudry is a close, family friend to the Syeds, and much like the rest of the community, was shocked when Anan was arrested and charged for murder. As an attorney (though not Adnan’s), Chaudry has always worked to seek Adnan’s justice and finally see him live a free life. Here’s the book’s description from Amazon:
In early 2000, Adnan Syed was convicted and sentenced to life plus thirty years for the murder of his ex-girlfriend Hae Min Lee, a high school senior in Baltimore, Maryland. Syed has maintained his innocence, and Rabia Chaudry, a family friend, has always believed him. By 2013, after almost all appeals had been exhausted, Rabia contacted Sarah Koenig, a producer at This American Life, in hopes of finding a journalist who could shed light on Adnan’s story. In 2014, Koenig’s investigation turned into Serial, a Peabody Award-winning podcast with more than 500 million international listeners
But Serial did not tell the whole story. In this compelling narrative, Rabia Chaudry presents new key evidence that she maintains dismantles the State’s case: a potential new suspect, forensics indicating Hae was killed and kept somewhere for almost half a day, and documentation withheld by the State that destroys the cell phone evidence — among many other points — and she shows how fans of Serialjoined a crowd-sourced investigation into a case riddled with errors and strange twists. Adnan’s Story also shares Adnan’s life in prison, and weaves in his personal reflections, including never-before-seen letters. Chaudry, who is committed to exonerating Adnan, makes it clear that justice is yet to be achieved in this much examined case.
I don’t want to give anything away, but if you listened to “Serial”, this book presents that evidence and much, much more. In fact, the evidence in this case is compelling, and really makes me feel like this is a man that should not be behind bars.
And I’ll also say that I’m not someone who thinks everyone should be exonerated. Amanda Knox, Steven Avery? I’m not so much on their sides. But this case, Adnan’s case – it’s incredible the very small amount of evidence that was used against him, which was debunked from every angle.
This book also shows handwritten letters, scanned files, and the infamous cell phone records. All for you to see with your own eyes. Even though I knew how the story ended this time, I was hooked.
Currently, Adnan has served 16 years in prison, and is awaiting his retrial, which was granted in June of this year – big thanks to “Serial”. You can read the update here.
The next book Blanche’s Book Club will be reading is “The Regulars” by Georgia Clark. Want to read it with us? Contact me on social media @OrangeJulius7 and chat it up! There really are no rules in our tiny, non-committal bookclub.
As always, I hope you all have a great weekend planned. I’m performing in two shows on Sunday, so I’ll be practicing and weaving in hair extensions on Saturday, hosting a ladies’ night for my fellow stiletto performers, and rehearsing all day on Sunday prior to curtain call.
I took Monday off work to recover and give my brain a much-needed break. But don’t worry, I’ll still be blogging – you know I’d miss it too much not to. See y’all on Monday!
Every other Friday, I take an alternate route home from the office. It’s a few miles west of where I live, toward a place Texans call Hill Country. And it is beautiful. The road overlooks dozens of homes made of stucco, usually sitting under a colorful sunset.
If you’re new here, you should know that sunsets are one of my favorite things about living. Ever. But as I took my alternate route Friday, there was no sunset. This was probably partly due to the time change, and partly due to the thunderstorm rolling in, putting dark clouds over those tiled-roofs.
As disappointed as I was to have missed the sunset this time, it paired decently with my mood. Last week was ROUGH. The chances are likely, you probably saw that last week, I published a 5-part series based on my most-recent dating experience.
One thing about having a blog like The Bitter Lemon is that I get to write about the everyday happenings of my life, sometimes it’s simple things, like my alternate route home in order to swing by the laundromat. Other times, it’s a steamy, sexy story that ends in great disappointment.
But the other part of publishing real life stories is that, often, people react to those stories. And last week? People reacted in a way that I have never experienced. And while I have no interest in dragging out the drama any longer; I feel like it sort of can’t be ignored. This shit was crazy.
On Sunday night, before the blog series even published, I talked extensively about it to my mom. I always get a little nervous when things like this publish, because frankly, it’s embarrassing to tell the world that yes, I fell for an asshole once again, I slept with him, and I got sad about it.
However, I feel like that’s a way of coping for me. It’s a way to deal with what’s happened, and make some sort of sense of out my sadness. And so, the words I’d thought of for months, finally published on Monday around 1 am.
By 9:30 am, I already had a text message from the subject of these blog posts:
“Holly, I know your job is write and you’re great at it. And this may make things worse, but if your goal is to embarrass and cause problems for me with your articles, then it’s working, and I probably should’ve seen it coming based on how badly I hurt you. Anyone that reads your posts knows that’s me, based on the way that’s written you’re going to smash me on there. Please know my intent wasn’t to have it go the way it did. I know you don’t believe me, but it really wasn’t. It’s probably way too late, is there anything that can happen here for you to not just obliterate me? I clearly really hurt you and you’re definitely going to really hurt me with this series. I’m sorry (was before your post today and am now).”
Let’s unpack the facts here:
- My job is not to write; it’s my calling, my life’s mission, my way of life
- My goal was not to embarrass anyone or cause problems for anyone
- Not everyone that read my posts knew it was him
- Intentions lead to actions and actions lead to reactions
- Nothing can happen here, there, or anywhere
The interesting thing that’s important to note here, is that part 1 of the series says nothing negative about anyone. It’s simply background information about me, where I grew up, and how I met this person. So, he was shitting his pants before the party got started.
Secondly, a lot of the content of the posts talks about how much I LIKED this guy, talks about how hot I thought he was, how much I was attracted to him… am I that hideous of a person that having people know he hooked up with me is worth a Trumpertantrum? Please, child.
I did not reply to this text message because I didn’t want to open up that can of worms – this person is the type of person that will never take no for an answer.
About an hour later, he sent his PR team of 1 over to my Facebook inbox. It was a girl I went to high school with, and she told me she saw both sides of the story, but this guy was just SO upset, and she didn’t want to see anyone else get more hurt. And then she sprinkled in that he was thinking of suing me for defamation of character.
Ha. Ha ha. Ha ha. This post had been published for about 10 hours and I was already being threatened.
Let’s unpack the facts:
- This girl does not know me
- The blog post, or the situation, had nothing to do with her
- She didn’t know the end of the story
- Defamation of character is the legal term for harming someone’s reputation by making false statements
- The things I said actually happened; I know, because I lived them
So, then I really did get into it with the guy. I told him to stop having his PR team threaten me, and that our attorneys could talk if he really felt like that was the best way to end everything. He begged to talk to me so maybe we could work things out; he said ‘everyone’ knew it was him in the blog, and the fact that I said it was a “5-part series” really bothered him (still not understanding this).
I asked him what he was so afraid of and he said he was afraid his mom would see it (he’s 31, BTW). He also told me that “everyone” was taking it to heart and that what people think DOES matter (not to me). I stopped responding because I don’t like talking to idiots.
The next morning, part 2 was published around 1 am. By lunch, he’d already sent me another long ass text, and called my best friend at work to see if she could stop me (I’m so evil). His text read: “I know this won’t matter but I have heard from my boss today Holly. It got to both of them on social media. Both articles. Too many personal descriptive details to not know that you’re talking about me. I’m being asked to go into the administration offices when we return from break. Please don’t publish anymore this is putting my career in question. You said yesterday you just want it to be over. Please Holly, my boss said people have been let go over less. This is my whole livelihood here. Please don’t do this. My mom called crying today because of what someone at work said to her about me.”
Let’s unpack the facts:
- He’s right, he doesn’t matter
- He did not hear from his boss
- It did not get to his boss on social media
- Neither of the articles got to his boss
- Not everyone knew who I was talking about
- He is not a celebrity
- His mom did not call him crying
- No one at work said anything to his mom about him
This guy spent his entire day building on this story. He offered three times to show me the email his boss sent him, and backed down three times saying he had to respect the boss’ privacy. So, I looked up the boss’ email address and phone number, and told him there was no need for privacy. He still refused. I called him. He still refused. Finally, he agreed to show me the email, with the names covered.
Let’s unpack the facts:
- It was not a real email
- He wrote the email
- It was full of typos and misspellings
- The email address domains were incorrect
- It was in “edit” mode, within his “Work in progress” folder
- There was no signature
- He is full of shit
- He spent his spring break making up lies and crying
When posts 3 (password is drake), 4, and 5 were published, he said nothing. Because what other lie was he going to make up? Was he going to say that he was losing custody of his dog because of my blog? That he’d grown fatally ill because of it? It was truly the pity party of the century. It’s also really sad that someone that pathetic works in the education system.
Sure, I’ve gotten reactions from people pissed off about things I’ve written. The last guy I dated got an entire book written about him (How I Fell: Love, Lies, & Cocktails), and he told me my blog ruined his life. Really? Did my blog grow a body and walk itself to his place of business and put him at gunpoint to steal money from the register for three years before ultimately getting fired? Nope. No, it didn’t. Because if it, then I wouldn’t have to go to work everyday.
So, I’m pretty over people saying my blog does things that it, in fact, cannot do. My blog has not ruined anyone’s life. My blog did not make up a story about this guy and tell the world. He did things that he shouldn’t have, and those things were now being outlined for him to see. When he slept with me, and stopped talking to me, he knew it would be easy to never talk to me again. Until the truth was laid out, in black and white.
And in the end, nothing happened to him. He didn’t get in trouble. He didn’t have to answer to his mommy. He didn’t lose his job. And I’m fine with all of that. Because, it is not my responsibility to punish people for their wrongs. I believe the universe does a fine job of that on its own.
It’s one thing to learn that a guy you like is a douche. But it’s another thing to learn that he’s a complete psychopath and a pathological liar.
When I’m left to pick up the pieces of my relationship messes, I always try and figure out something I learned so it won’t be a complete waste of time. In all honesty, I keep learning the same lessons repeatedly, but I’ve learned a lot about red flags and gut instincts. If things seem off, they are, no matter how much glitter is clouding my view.
I learned more about just how complicated relationships can be. I learned that no matter how successful, smart, or nice someone seems – the truth eventually reveals itself. I also learned that not all women are interested in sticking up for other women. I later found out that the little PR team? She was the one responsible for suggesting he sue me. And while it was a stupid idea that never would have seen it’s day in court, it disgusts me that she jumped to his side without knowing what I went through. What if I was about to reveal in post #4 that he hit me? Sexually assaulted me? Disrespected me? And she’d rather have a dishonest prick on her side than that of a brave, honest woman.
Part of it is sad, and the other part? It’s so high school.