Since I’ve Been Gone: Part I

Shockingly enough, a lot has happened since I was last here, so I want to take the opportunity to highlight some of the stuff I loved/did while I was gone. I’m going to start with a mixture of random stuff here to be followed by some more cohesive groupings.

As far as everyday life is concerned the last six years saw me complete my bachelors, go back to school for a certificate in public health while I contemplated what I want to be when I grow up, and then start my masters this past January because I finally have a general idea. I’m extremely fortunate to still be working both of my jobs as they are both deemed essential, though I’m not doing any traveling this year which I’m bumming about – presently I’m supposed to be in Sweden, but alas COVID. Instead I’ll keep adding to the list of future travel plans, and reading, and occasionally doing some homework in a semi-timely fashion while getting the odd extra hour of sleep. Now into the good stuff…

First up, my favorite book of 2019 and probably even the decade.

A Gentleman in Moscow

Book: A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles. This is going first because I still think about this book all the time even though I read it about eight months ago now. This book was an accident, because I didn’t expect to finish the book I had been reading on my way to Phoenix, so I had to grab a new one at the airport when I was coming home and the synopsis sounded interesting enough. I proceeded to read about half of the book on the way. It was so good and I could not stop reading it. From the setting, to the characters, to just the feel of the book and the writing. Every single thing about it took my breath away. I absolutely adored it and I want everyone to read it.  

A Dance with Dragons (A Song of Ice and Fire, #5)

Book/TV Show: A Song of Ice and Fire/Game of Thrones, let’s talk (very briefly) about it, because everyone has an opinion. I read the first book in the span of a week back in 2014. I started book 2 soon after, got distracted and didn’t go back to it until last year because the show was ending and I could finally just binge the whole show, so if ever there was a time to get to it and read the damn books, last year was it. And I was insistent upon reading the books before watching. The quick version of my feelings are, the books are better, 955%. However, there were some parts that I really enjoyed watching the scenes more than reading them, but that was not the case most of the time. The other thing is the ending of the show. I won’t spoil anything, but I’m not mad at what happened and I understand why it was done the way it was. That said, I am mad that they rushed it. That last season should have been longer than it was, so I feel like they did not do justice to the story because of it. I’ll still read the last two books when they come out though, and I’m sure they will be 955% better than the show too.  

TV Show: The Repair Shop. This is a much more recent find, but a few months ago we happened across this show on Netflix and it is one of the most wonderful and fulfilling shows I’ve ever watched. It’s literally a group of people who repair everything from furniture, clocks, toys, leatherwork, paintings, ceramics, and on and on. If I have a half hour to sit down and chillax, this is probably what I’m watching. My only gripe (NETFLIX!) is that I can only get two of the seasons. I went so far as to see if I could buy the other seasons on DVD from BBC and have them shipped over…. NOPE. Sigh.  

Dunkirk Poster

Movie: Dunkirk. If you’ve seen this movie, you probably know. It really is one of a kind and it was so well done. There are not many movies that I can say I’ve watched that have unsettled me quite like Dunkirk and despite only seeing it once while it was still in IMAX (even though I totally bought it when it came out), I still remember it like it was yesterday. The sheer lack of dialogue, the use of sound, and the way everything was put together just stuck with me. Absolutely one of the best and most memorable films I’ve ever seen.




Place I’ve Been: Auschwitz-Birkenau Concentration Camp, Poland. I’ve been traveling as often as possible the last few years, so it’s difficult to pick a single favorite place that I’ve been. However, if there is a single place I’ve been so far that is more memorable than anywhere else, it is certainly Auschwitz. I went in 2018 and I remember the feeling of getting off that train and walking across town to the camp of my own volition. Being there is like feeling the energy and history of the place, of the horrifying things that happened. It’s such a strange dichotomy because in a lot of ways it’s almost peaceful there now. I don’t know if I’ll ever really have the right words to describe it, but it’s one of those experiences that will stick with me forever.

Until next time!

5 thoughts on “Since I’ve Been Gone: Part I

  1. Cyberkitten June 21, 2020 / 8:35 am

    What’s your Masters in? I’m greedy so I have 2 – Religious Studies & History of Philosophy. Both *super* useful!

    I have ‘Rules of Civility’ on my To Read List but I’m saving it presently for the ‘right’ moment.

    Haven’t read any of the GoT books like but LOVED the TV Series – less so Series 8 which had (I think) definitely lost its way.

    Agree on ‘Dunkirk’. Once I clued into the three timelines (what a brilliant idea) and the whole thing gelled I was completely hooked. Seen it maybe 3-4 times now. Gets me every time. Have you seen ‘1917’?

    Not sure if I could cope with Auschwitz [muses]. I think that the experience would just be far too overwhelming. Good on you for going though! Most definitely something that should *never* be forgotten.

    • Hannah June 21, 2020 / 1:11 pm

      Oh come on, I’m sure people are just knocking down your door, LOL!
      My Masters is in Homeland Security/Public Health Preparedness. I’m leaning towards moving into emergency management…disaster preparedness and response was a topic I could not get enough of when I went back and did the certificate program.

      I’ve since added Rules of Civility to my TBR as well, but I haven’t picked up a copy yet. I think it’s safe to say though I will give anything he touches a go though.

      The show really wasn’t bad, but we miss so much because of how chunky the books are. They really did do a terrible disservice to that last season though. I can only imagine how much more we will get when the book comes out someday.

      I don’t think I’ve even heard of 1917 before but I just did some IMDB sleuthing. It looks amazing and Colin Firth and Mark Strong are involved so I’m sold.

      Auschwitz was definitely difficult, but I’m so glad that I went. I don’t know that anything will ever compare.

      • Cyberkitten June 23, 2020 / 9:04 am

        No more ‘door knocking’ for me. I retired 3 months ago. Now very much a person of leisure – AKA reading!

        That Masters degree sounds VERY interesting. A very good choice too. I’m guessing that expertise will be in MUCH demand for the rest of your life.

        I’ve been really lucky with books lately. I’ve read some great ones. Rather weirdly though I seem to have developed a real fascination for post-apocalyptic lit. No idea where THAT came from [grin] Plus I have a real hunger to read about epidemics & such!

        I’m catching up on boxsets ATM. So behind though – recently watched Lucifer (series 1) and Westworld (ditto). Still haven’t watched Mr Robot yet but I’ll get around to it eventually. Presently re-watching Stargate: Atlantis (Series 4).

        Just watched Le Mans ’66 after missing it @ the cinema due to some pandemic or other. Really liked it despite not being a petrol head or a huge fan of Christian Bale.

        How are you coping with the Covid Times we live in – apart from restricting your travel plans?

      • Hannah June 23, 2020 / 11:34 pm

        Oooh, congratulations on retirement! Right on time too, I suppose!

        The program is quite interesting, and while I don’t know 100% how I want to apply it, if nothing else I am learning A LOT, so I’m happy.

        LOL, chalk it up to doing some research for the near future! Epidemics are an interesting business. When you start reading about it, especially older ones that we have recorded information on, it’s very interesting just how right we got it sometimes, and how wrong we got it other times. 🙂

        I actually marathoned Lucifer sometime last year I think. For the most part I really like it, I just hope that Netflix keeps it, because they really do seem to be doing a damn good job with their shows. I haven’t watched Westworld yet, but I’ve started watching the HBO Chernobyl mini-series. I think I still have two episodes left, but I highly recommend it thus far if you’re interested in it.

        I haven’t even heard of Le Mans ’66… interesting, will have to look into this one.

        Honestly, there isn’t much different for me with Covid aside from being very careful with my family and wearing a mask when I leave the house. I’m working from home part of the week for my full time job, but my part time job is retail so I’m working with the general public and I am much more cautious about what I’m touching and who’s in my space, that sort of thing. My masters program is online so nothing changed about that. One thing I can say, is that Covid has brought out the best in some people and the absolute worst in others. But other than that it’s really same shit different pile. How has it been across the pond?

  2. Cyberkitten June 25, 2020 / 9:04 am

    My Retirement was weird in a way. I left just as Covid hit – so no leaving presentation (after 32 years), no drinks, no nothing. It just sort of…. ended. Weird.

    I have a whole stack of books now on Epidemics (plus a growing collection of Post-Apoc novels) that’ll make me far more prepared for Covid-22 or whatever…. Plus I’ll be practicing my head shots – just in case!

    I know of the Chernobyl series but I haven’t seen it *yet*. It’s definitely on ‘the list’. I (naturally( have a few books on the topic.

    The first few weeks of the lockdown was very strange. It *really* did feel like that first 10-15 minutes in an End of the World movie before moving on to the half dozen people surviving in the wreckage. It was spookily weird. Once people got used to it then it became ‘OK’. A bit of gallows humour & people swerving out of each others way & stuff. Now we’re slowly re-opening there’s more people on the streets but you still don’t see groups and people still avoid too close contact with strangers. I’m certainly not planning to be in a group situation until *after* they get a vaccine out. So I’m not expecting anything like normality for at least another 12 months. A few of my friends are struggling with the social isolation though. I don’t like it overly much but I have a lot of practice being on my own [lol] I always knew being a loner would come in handy one day!

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