That picture up there? That's how my vacation began. An hour and a half after I left Collingswood, my car died on the New Jersey Turnpike. The repair cost $2,500, and kept me in Jersey City from Sunday morning through late Tuesday afternoon when I should have been tromping around in Vermont. I'm lucky I wasn't hit by another car, and I'm fine, but what a nightmare. And it's not over! The car was making noise when I got home, which my local mechanic told me was the dealership that made the $2,500 oops in the installation of the new clutch and its assorted parts. So back into the shop it goes. The only good thing is the dealership that did the work said to take it to a local dealership and they'd handle the cost. That's nice considering I only had the new clutch for six days when I called.
BIIIIIIIIIG SIIIIIIIIGH. Given the cost of the work (on top of work I'd had done on the Jeep the week before and a hefty vet bill for the dog), I almost went home after I got the car back. Instead I pointed it north and went to Vermont anyway. This was far from the relaxing experience I hoped for, but I'm glad I went. It's a lovely state. I went to the Cabot cheese factory, visited a maple syrup farm and saw that yes Burlington is really crunchy. I even got out onto a mountain for a hike. But now I'm home and back to reality – hopefully with a soon to be fully repaired car.
Jen Talks About Her Book
"Jen A. Miller: An Author on the Run" in Parade
People Talk About Jen's Book
"Why You Should Try Meditating While Running (and How to Do It)" in Runner's World
"First Person: Alexander Zampieron" in Bentley Magazine
What I'm Reading
On my trip, I read two books. First was Indelible by Adelia Saunders, which comes out next month. It's okay – not mind blowing, but not bad. It uses the rotating narrator, which seems to be in vogue right now. I then read A Walk Across America by Peter Jenkins, a 1979 best seller that I bought at Powell's in Portland (yes, I bought a lot there). It was interesting, but slightly dated. He also used a lot of exclamation points! I'm now reading Tessa Dare's A Night to Surrender, a fine romance novel to slip into while I deal with fall out from the car BS and wind down the year.
I also listened to two audiobooks: The Tao of Martha by Jen Lancaster, which I didn't like at all, but listened to through the end anyway to study why I didn't like it, and how I can avoid that in my writing. Then I listened to Onward by Starbucks Chairman and CEO Howart Schultz. It focused on how Starbucks lost its way, and how, during the Recession, they turned things back around. As someone who ran a business through the Recession, I appreciated hearing how they did it, and what they learned. While I had a good year with my book, my freelancing took a hit (in part because of touring, losing two regular clients and some other stuff), so it was a good reminder of going back to core values, being on the offensive instead of defensive and continuing to take risks. I still got a Dunkin Donuts coffee on the way home though. It's a tad long too (and I half listened to the last chapters while doing other things), though I appreciated knowing more about how the Via product came to be since it's what I use for coffee while camping and before races.
My goal was to read 52 books this year. I more than passed that. Hooray books!
So what's next? I'm not big on New Year's resolutions, so pass on that. I haven't picked a goal race for the spring but I'm close. The thing on the forefront of my mind for 2017 is selling my house. It hope it will be listed soon into the New Year. I have already have an offer of a Saint Joseph statue to bury in the garden. I am not above a little superstition and a prayer to help things along (and then if it sells, I guess I have to move…)
What I'm Watching
I saw a lot! Let's hit them in order:
- The Jungle Book, the new one. I wish I'd seen this in the theater. It was gorgeous.
- The Imitation Game. Excellent, though depressing in how he was treated for being gay. Worthy watch.
- Trumbo. This was good, but not great. If you are interested in the Hollywood Black List, check out the You Must Remember This podcast series on it.
- Rogue One. Well, part of it. When the dealership thought they'd only need to replace one part on my car, they told me to walk to the local movie theater to see Rogue One while I waited. They called me while I was in the movies, though, to tell me the bad news that the repair was a big one and would take a day longer. I hope to go back and see the end.
- The Holiday. I watched this at my mom's house on Christmas Eve. It's silly! But I'm glad I re-watched it.
- Shakespeare Live! An excellent homage to Shakespeare in honor of 400 years of The Bard. You can stream it on PBS.
- Foyle's War. This is one that Netflix has been recommending to me over and over again, so I finally took the plunge. I can see why: a historical series about mystery and murder. And British. That checks a lot of my streaming series boxes. It also has a lot of British Actors before they got big, including Rosamund Pike and James McAvoy. They look like kids!
- Call the Midwife Christmas Special. Aw I miss those gals. This is also streaming on PBS.
ARE WE READY FOR NEW SHERLOCK? I AM READY FOR NEW SHERLOCK HAPPY NEW YEAR!
Seriously though: thanks for sticking around with this newsletter in 2016. I hope you'll be here into the next.