Saturday, November 23, 2013


I feel like as long as I manage to post at least once a week, I'm winning this blogging thing. That's what I say to comfort myself. Unfortunately for you, I can't promise what gets posted will be amazing. My life right now is thrilling [insert sarcasm font] and I can tell you agree since not even one of you had anything to say on my "Day in the Life" post :)

I leave you with two pictures that sum up why I haven't blogged much lately. Consider them worth 2,000 words.

Compare to the last time you saw these.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Big Block of Cheese Day

A few weeks ago I mentioned that I was going to try and come up with some kind of calendar to help me post more regularly. Today, my iPhone tells me it is "poli sci nerd at heart day" which lined up quite nicely with a question Anne asked in the comments to my bookshelf post.

So here's a little more about my collection of presidential biographies. It started in college, when I was just a wee Political Science major working on a presidential primary campaign. That was the most fun 18 months. And also very stressful. Around the time that I was meeting and observing most of our political leaders (which made for a nice comparison study, because it's not often you meet a different candidate every day of the week), they published a collection of Ronald Reagan's letters. It's huge, but so intriguing.

I began to see many similarities (more than differences, to tell the truth) between the current candidates I was interacting with and President Reagan. I wondered: what do all these people who decide to run for - and win - the highest office in the land have in common? So I did what any good, studious little nerd does and I started reading. I've read books on Reagan, Obama, Clinton, and Theodore Roosevelt. I branched out to include contemporary "significant" candidates, as well as First Ladies. It is, quite honestly, my biggest little quirk.

Up next on my to-read stack is Andrew Jackson, as told by Jon Meacham. Who, let me tell you, is one of my favorite historians. [Seriously, I have favorites] I also have his book about Thomas Jefferson, and I had the great joy of seeing him interview General Colin Powell last year at an event at Belmont. He lives here in Nashville, and I would love to someday get to pick his brain. My field trip for the end of this book will be to The Hermitage, President Jackson's home that is right outside Nashville as well.

I hope that he at least mentions Big Block of Cheese Day, which I confess is one of my first associations whenever I hear Andrew Jackson's name. Please tell me you know what I'm talking about.


So that's me. Your friendly, local presidential history nerd.

Do you "collect" books along a particular theme?

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

on my bookshelf

Anne over at Modern Mrs. Darcy is doing a little blog link-up today asking us all to share what our bookshelves look like.

If you follow me on Twitter you may have noticed that about 3 weeks ago we had a little catastrophe over here. I rearranged my room and my bookshelf literally fell over and split in half! The nerve!

I am not in a position to immediately replace it, but needed some kind of storage more than piles on the floor. So I decided to make do with the pieces.

Let's take a look!

Moving from left to right we have:

Top shelf: a stack of all my Bible study workbooks from the last couple of years; all of my journals from 2004-present (I'm re-reading them); some Bibles, The Federalist Papers, and a book of quotations.

Middle shelf back row (not in view): the books I've started but not finished over the past few months (i.e., next up on the to-read list); the only thing I collect - biographies/memoirs of American Presidents & First Ladies; fiction that I've already read.

Middle shelf front row (in view): currently reading or will be reading next (Brene Brown's works, American Lion: Andrew Jackson in the White House); Paris in Color; classics that didn't fit anyplace else & my French Bible.

Bottom shelf: more fiction, mostly series. Anne of Green Gables, some Lori Wick, and the Christy Miller & friends series (a favorite from high school).

The first shelf maintained its structural integrity in the fall. The second did not and is barely hanging on.

Top shelf: these books are stacked two rows deep. These are all the books I haven't read yet, stacked alphabetically by title. I know. It's a problem.

Bottom shelf: law school case books, reference books (French dictionaries); yearbooks from high school & college; and a couple binders of legal research.

I do have to confess that this isn't all. I have four boxes of books still in storage in California because they wouldn't fit in my car when I moved here.

What's on your bookshelf?

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

a day in the life :: November 11, 2013

I've been seeing these day in the life posts a lot recently and thought I'd join in. I've been at my job less than 2 weeks, so a lot of what I'm doing all day is just reading. I work at a non-profit dealing with higher ed, which is about as specific as I'll get.

5:29am :: alarm goes off and angels cry because this is FAR too early

I have been going to a community group (a Bible study) on Sunday nights for about a month now. These are people I met when I attended/worked at my old church. Even though I don't go there anymore, I like seeing them each week and talking through the book of Acts together. That said, we normally don't get done until 9:30 and when I tack on a 30 minute drive home...I am quite exhausted in the morning.

5:40am :: shower & get ready for the day. Try to find "business casual" wear in my closet after 2 years of freelancing (skinny jeans & chucks) prefaced by 3 years of law school (suits). Regret not picking my outfit out the night before, like my mom did for me in Kindergarten.

6:40am :: realize I need to get gas before heading to work and race out the door. Any later and I'll sit in traffic for an hour to drive 9 miles.

7:10am :: iPhone alarm goes off warning me that if I haven't left yet, I'll be late. Precaution for the mornings I may dawdle leaving the house. I am nearly to the freeway, so all is well.

7:35am :: arrive at work, completely bewildered at how I made it so quickly. [later in the day I'll realize it's Veteran's Day and that's why traffic was so light] Greeted by building security guard who learned my name the first day and always opens the door when he sees me coming and says with great cheer, "Good morning Amanda!" Get off elevator and see that someone has already made coffee. Hallelujah.

7:40am - 9:00am :: settle in at my desk and power through the emails that have accumulated since 12:30 Friday afternoon. This is the first job I've ever had where I am not expected to have my email synced to my phone and check it constantly. That will change later this year, but for now I'm grateful.

9:00am-11:30am :: play phone tag across 2 time zones to get some calls set up with college administrators. Finally get a conference call scheduled I've been trying to coordinate since my first day of work. Learn I will be joining the call (and another) later this week so try to catch myself up on what's on the agenda.

12-12:30pm :: take a shorter lunch than normal to "earn" my Friday early release. For the rest of the month we can leave at 12:30 on Friday if we make up the 3 hours elsewhere in the week. I've dedicated lunch as reading time (when I'm not out of the office) and I'm working on CS Lewis's The Screwtape Letters.

12:30-1pm :: get a call on a general line with a question regarding a program that was moved out of my portfolio before I came on board, so spend some time tracking down an answer that's respectful of Northern Ireland's visa requirements.

1-3:30pm :: in deep, deep spreadsheet tunnel vision. Craft many color-coded beauties to help me make sense of all the areas I'm responsible for. Begin to identify points in the system put in place by my predecessor that don't work with my organizational style.

3:30-4:30 :: work on winding down active projects for the day and look ahead to see what is on my calendar (and my boss's calendar) for tomorrow that needs to be prepped today. Call with staff accountant to go over some procedural things for department expense reports.

4:30pm :: leave "on time" for the first time since starting my job.

4:35-6:30pm :: walk down the block to Starbucks to kill time before Bible study. Work on to-do lists for the rest of this month, prep for Thanksgiving travel plans, draft out my Winter Bravery Bucket List, and start on a new professional 5 year plan. Remember I meant to write this post so snap a photo of my favorite feature of this Starbucks.

7:00-8:15pm :: head over to church for our women's Bible study on Daniel. This is my second week participating and the last official week of the study. Of course.

8:45pm :: home for the night. Visit with roommate and her friend before heading upstairs.

9:10pm :: finish up this post and pop in a Friends DVD while I wind down for the night. Learn my lesson and pick out my clothes for tomorrow.

9:45pm :: bed time for Grandma Amanda.

What did you do yesterday?

Monday, November 4, 2013

back to the basics

In the inaugural post on this blog, I said:

The theme of this blog was largely inspired by observations from the initial pages of The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald. 
"There was so much to read, for one thing...I was rather literary in college...and now I was going to bring back all such things into my life and become again that most limited of all specialists, the "well-rounded man.""
 Reading for pleasure took a back seat in graduate school and now, two years post-grad, I'm finally getting back into the swing of things. I moved to Nashville a little over a year ago, so there's a couple of layers to naming this wee blog the Next Page. I'm not interested in writing full-scale book reviews. Instead, I'm hoping to share those snippets that jump off the page, that earn a margin note or find themselves underlined. Good writing should make you think, and want to talk about what you read. I told you I read a million books at once, so I won't be making my way methodically through anything. Instead, you'll get pieces here and there of whatever moves me in the moment.

That quote from Gatsby is now one of my favorites, because it so sums me up. The thing about it, though, is that he starts out with these great intentions and swiftly becomes distracted by all the shenanigans going on in the neighborhood (hey-o Gatsby & Daisy). I certainly don't have distractions on that level, but I'll admit that I definitely did NOT make the most of the summer/fall in terms of reading and working on my goals. I had great intentions, but they didn't come to a lot. I can blame some of that on my broken ankle, but I was off-track before that.

So it's time to get back to basics and re-prioritize. More reading, less TV. I ::gasp:: canceled my Netflix and at the end of this month (because I already paid for it) Hulu+ is going away as well. I'm going to take the rest of the year to get my eyes off the screen (aside from your blogs, obviously) and onto the page, or the things around me that need doing.

Is there anything you need to give more of your attention?

Friday, November 1, 2013

What is a "weekend"?

One of the things I (re)discovered over the past few months as I freelanced, babied my broken ankle, and was just plain not working was that I lost some sense of time. TGIF doesn't mean much when Tuesday could just as well be Friday.

This is my first weekend back on a normal, professional-woman schedule. TGIF indeed :)

PS - I adore my new job so far. Thanks for all the support!

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