My three week vacation in the U.S. has come to an end, so it’s time to do the numbers:
Books Read: Three. The first was How I Became a Famous Novelist by Steve Hely. This was okay, kind of funny, but not memorable. It lacked much heart, and the plot line–that all contemporary fiction that sells well is calculated drivel made up to push sales–made me really cynical about the ability of current novels to inspire or elevate. After studying Ulysses for two years to write my dissertation I started to think that already a few years ago, so this is not a good direction for me. Next came Making Your Dog Your Best Friend by the Monks of New Skete. Non-fiction, fabulous book from the ’70s from a monastic community who raises German Shepherds and their advice on how to have a great dog. I loved this book and read it all in one windy day on the beach, which the library probably won’t appreciate because sand in every single page may have fluffed it up permanently. Finally, the perfect quick plane read, My Horizontal Life by Chelsea Handler. Hilarious, bawdy and totally inappropriate account of the author’s history between the sheets. Midgets included. I read basically the entire thing from Doha to Islamabad. I like memoirs about 100% more than I like fiction at this point.
Trashy Magazines Read: Seven. So I am totally up-to-date on pop culture now. I used to turn my noses up at stuff like US Weekly and Star. That was before I moved to another continent and felt lost and confused when hearing about things like Kendra Wilkinson, Demi Lovato, the people with 19 children, any of the Kardashians, Ashley Tisdale, or Mike “the Situation” Sorrentino. It took plowing through the first three magazines to understand who all these people are, but now I am firmly in the know.
Farmers’ Markets Visited: Three. If you live in the U.S. and are not going to farmers’ markets all summer, what could possibly be your excuse? It is one of the things I miss the most. I was especially delighted by heirloom and yellow teardrop tomatoes, wax beans, corn on the cob, and homemade chocolate chip cookies.
Movies Seen: One. Just “Eat Pray Love.” I didn’t have much time to go to the movies but made an exception for this one. It was fun and made for a perfect girly outing. Julie Roberts pulled off a tough role, because really how fast could the plotline of an upper middle class woman traveling to (mostly less developed) other countries to find herself get annoying? I’m far from the first person to make this observation. But the filming was spot-on, in real locations, and the hectic cab ride in India scene made me think of home. Meaning, Pakistan-home, my adopted home for the time being.
Trips to McDonald’s and/or Starbucks: One. Seeing as these two things are some of the most American things I can think of, I am proud of this number. The exception was made one early morning for a roadtrip Sausage Egg McMuffin and hot chocolate, and it was delicious.
Dips in the Water: Too many to count. Yes I grew up in California, went to college in Santa Barbara, and had a pool in the backyard during high school. But I never cared about getting in the water then; I guess it was too easy. Now that I have moved to landlocked Islamabad it is apparently the right time to start loving pools, lakes, and the ocean. I jumped in Lake Michigan a few times (surprisingly warm this year!) and stayed at three hotels with pools.
Number of meals with bacon and/or avocado in them: 22. This just goes to show that you can accomplish anything if you set your mind to it.