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Phoenix Public Library

Day 83/90 – I Love Documentaries

Day 83 of the 90 Days of Awesome is in the bank! What made today awesome? I watched two awesome documentaries!

Movie Night! by ginnerobot from Flickr (Creative Commons License)

Movie Night! by ginnerobot from Flickr (Creative Commons License)

I love movies that are based on real events and documentaries. In the last year, I have spent a lot of time checking out movies from the library, and more recently I’ve been checking out mainly documentaries. I’ve learned that when it comes to fictional books and movies, I rarely remember what I read and see because my brain knows they’re not real, so it is difficult to convince it to retain any of the information as useful. So I can read or watch a work of fiction and enjoyed it, but I will barely remember it.

I find real life and stories about real people much more engaging. This weekend was no different. I watched to documentaries in between doing chores around the house:

  • Dark Girls (2011): An investigation into people’s views about dark-skinned women in America – in Caucasian and non-Caucasian communities. I had no idea that being a lighter skinned was such a preferred characteristic, or that there was such a thing as the “paper bag test.” It was shocking to learn that this issue is not limited to the U.S.; skin lightening products are popular throughout the world, including third world countries.
  • Out in the Silence (2009): After Joe Wilson legally married his partner in Washington, D.C., he ran a marriage announcement in his hometown paper in Oil City, PA. This led to a documentary featuring the lives of several LGBT people in this small city and the views of heterosexual Christians who opposed homosexuality same-sex marriage.

Documentaries show real people, in their real lives, sharing their real feelings and experiences. It’s raw. They provide a glimpse into someone else’s world. I also like that documentaries tend to be shorter than feature films. I can often get through two-four documentaries in a lazy weekend, which is great because there are so many documentary films that I want to see.

In case you missed it: Day 82 of the 90 Days of Awesome – A moment of grace in the sea of sadness following the announcement of Atticus’ passing.

Day 27/90 – Biking my Errands

Day 27 of the 90 Days of Awesome is in the bank! What made today awesome? I ran my errands by bike today.

This is an old picture but it embodies how I felt after riding 21 miles today.

This is an old picture but it embodies how I felt after riding 21 miles today.

Last week, I proved to myself that I can easily bike to library to get books and DVDs.  Today, I took it to the next level and ran all my errands by bike. My ride started around 9am with a ride to the library to exchange some DVDs. I stopped off at home to drop of my DVDs and grab a snack before heading out again. I rode into Tempe to pick up a prescription and check out Zia’s Records. Zia’s is giving 20% off if you shop with a Golden Coupon during Independents Week (not a typo). I appreciate that the City of Tempe has invested a lot of energy and funding into making the city safer for cyclists with lots of bike lanes and racks. In all, I rode about 21 miles today. My legs were pretty tired and I was worn out in general by the time finished these two rides.

Although I sprayed myself down with sunblock before I got dressed today, I still got a bit of a sunburn on my arms and the beginning of a farmer’s tan on my thighs. And I hate having tan lines. Note to self: re-apply sunblock frequently.

I want to be someone who doesn’t rely on their car for every errand. Getting out and riding more often is showing me I can accomplish a lot even in a city with a substantial amount of urban sprawl.

In case you missed it: Day 26 of the 90 Days of Awesome – The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that same-sex marriage is legal!

Day 20/90 – I Love to Ride my Bike

Day 20 of the 90 Days of Awesome is in the bank! What made today awesome? Riding my bike!

New bike pic

I love my bike.

I love to ride my bike. It gets me where I need to go. It’s a good workout. And looking at the world at bike-speed gives me a much more complete picture of each neighborhood than when I’m driving.

This morning, I jumped on my bike and rode to the library to return and check out DVDs. When I’m not going that far and if I have the time, I’d rather bike than drive to my destination. I feel so much more free when I ride. I love the feeling of wind whipping past me as I zip along. It also make me feel like I’m more connected with my surroundings compared to when I’m closed up in my car with air conditioning and the radio blaring.

My quads could tell that it’s been awhile since I’ve done a ride but they settled in after the first mile. Today’s ride was 6 miles round trip. It was a gorgeous way to start the day. Every time I ride it makes me think that I should ride more and look into biking to work and training for an all-day ride.

I need to ride more often.

In case you missed it: Day 19 of the 90 Days of Awesome – Lunch with Julia!

Day 3/90 – Phoenix Public Library

Day 3 of the 90 Days of Awesome is in the bank! What made today awesome? The Phoenix Public Library!

Only in Arizona do they have to tell you to check your gun at the library

Only in Arizona do they have to tell you to check your gun at the library

The public library may be the most under-utilized resource in the community. Thousands of books and movies are free for your borrowing pleasure! I’ve started using it on a regular basis in the last few years and I love it.

Through the Phoenix Public Library website, I have an online account that contains my lists of books I want to read and movies I want to see. When I want to borrow something, I simply reserve it and they ship to my neighborhood branch where they set it aside with my name on it. I can swing by on my way home from work and pick it up – and be in and out in less than 5 minutes.

When it comes to movies, a lot of people ask me, “Why don’t you just get Netflix?” No offense to Netflix, but why would I pay $8/month for something I can get for free? I’d rather put that money towards my next pair of running shoes.

I never got into movies as a kid. I was too busy with school and gymnastics – so now I’m playing catch up on my cinematic education thanks to recommendations from listening to Profiles with Malone and Mantz, my favorite podcast about movies.

Lately, I’ve been checking out 3-5 movies a week. It’s too hot to spend much time outside in the Arizona heat, so the summer is the best time to catch up on movies. Today I checked out American Sniper, The Book Thief, and Jerry Maguire.

Summer Lunch Program at my branch of the Phoenix Public Library

Summer Lunch Program at my branch of the Phoenix Public Library

When it comes to books, I generally only buy them if a friend is the author or if I’m going to a book signing. Otherwise, I start by borrowing the book from the library and then buy it if it’s something I’ll want a copy of on my shelf to re-read. When I did my big minimalism clean-out project when I moved into my condo, I set aside a box of books and labeled it “Read Me.” Any books that are still in the box at the end of the year will be given away. Because of this deadline, I’m working through these books instead of the library’s.

I want to give a huge hat tip to the Phoenix Public Library, not just for lending me awesome books and movies, but also for offering a summer lunch program to help families who rely on school lunch programs to feed their children.

Bonus: Did you know that the library has cultural passes? You can check them out to visit local attractions like the Desert Botanical Garden and the Phoenix Art Museum for free!

In case you missed it: Day 2 of the 90 Days of Awesome – Rosie Goes Where I Go!

Falling Back in Love with Reading

Last year I realized that law school sucked my love of reading out of me. I had to read so much for my classes that the last thing I wanted to during my down time was read for pleasure. At the end of the day the most I’d read was Texts From Last Night. After the bar exam my brain was so fried I couldn’t read anything for two days.

I <3 2 read by katerha from Flickr

I <3 2 read by katerha from Flickr

Now, I come from a family of voracious readers, so it’s weird that I barely read anything for years for my own enjoyment. I used to devour books. I made the decision at the end of last year to make reading a priority – and it’s been heavenly.

My goal this year is to read 2 books a month – one for fun and one for business. It’s hard to make myself read the business books, but the books for fun have been absolutely wonderful. I flop into bed every night and tell myself that I’m going to read 10 pages from my book, and I usually end up reading closer to 20. I read until I’m so tired that the words on the page are blurry.

I love to read nonfiction work. There’s something about reading about a person’s real life that is gripping. When I read nonfiction, I’m way more likely to remember it because it’s real. I forget big chunks of the fiction books I read and I think it’s because my brain knows the story isn’t real, so why bother remembering it. I recently read Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk: A modest bestiary by David Sedaris. I love David Sedaris’ work so when I saw he had a book out that I hadn’t read, I checked it out from the library without looking beyond the front cover. It turned out to be a collection of short fictional stories about animals. I read the book (It didn’t do anything for me – sorry David) and each night I picked it up, I couldn’t remember what I had read the night before – it just wasn’t important enough to remember.

I rarely buy books that I know I’m going to read once unless I know the author, so I’ve been loving the Phoenix Public Library this year. I took suggestions from my friends and my virtual bookshelf is up to 68 books that I want to read. The first book I checked out was Anderson Cooper’s Dispatches from the Edge: A Memoir of War, Disasters, and Survival. It was fantastic! Right now I’m reading You’re Not Doing It Right: Tales of Marriage, Sex, Death, and Other Humiliations by Michael Ian Black and I’m loving it. I’m looking forward to trying out the library’s ebook borrowing program so I can get library books on my Kindle. The library has a great system where you can put a book on hold and it will be waiting for you on the first floor with your name on it, but getting books without having to leave the house is even better.

Reading is still a chore for me to get started each time but I’m so grateful to be reading books again. I’m looking forward to reading Heads in Beds: a reckless memoir of hotels, hustles, and so-called hospitality by Jacob Tomsky; Argo: how the CIA and Hollywood pulled off the most audacious rescue in history by Antonio Mendez; and I Killed: true stories of the road from America’s top comics by Ritch Shydner and Mark Schiff.