3 Negronis at Moonstruck

August 2021 Update

posted in: Personal Essay, Photography, Reading | 0

After a fairly quiet summer, things got a little busier in August, mainly because Holly and I returned to campus for the first time since March 2020. We’re fortunate that we still don’t need to go back every day, especially since some of our colleagues have been back on campus every day for months now.

Going back didn’t seem as odd as I thought it might. The first day I went back was in mid-August, and the main reason that seemed at all odd was that the bulk of the summer classes were over and we were still a couple weeks away from the start of the fall semester. Between the lack of students and the few staff, the building was eerily quiet.

But the semester has since begun and the building was full that last time I was in. It is a little uncomfortable being around SO many people after laying low for many months. But our campus has a mask mandate so everyone in the building was masked. We also have a vaccine mandate but the deadline for all students and staff to be vaccinated isn’t until October 15.

I am a little worried about so many people from different parts of the world all congregating on campus. Obviously, I hope there isn’t a major outbreak, but it feels like a big roll of the dice.

I guess the other big event of the month was going out to dinner somewhere indoors. We had been hesitant to do so but made an exception because one of our longtime favorite restaurants, Moonstruck, was about to close, and we wanted to go back one last time.

When I say longtime, I mean longtime, at least for me. Holly has been going there for “only” the 10 years she has lived here, but Moonstruck had been around for over 40 years and so has been part of my life for most of my life. The adjoining restaurant, Joseph’s Pizza, owned by the same people, has also closed, and that had been around for longer than I have been alive and had been a mainstay of my dining my entire life.

I’m contemplating writing more about these 2 places and their importance in my life at another time but wanted to mentioned it here just because it was an emotional part of my month.

We met my brother there one Friday night toward the end of the month, just a week before they closed. Not surprisingly, our last meal there was as good as all the others we’ve had.

As with all my dining out pictures, these were taken with my Samsung Galaxy S9+.


Between the hot and humid weather and returning to work, I didn’t go out to take photos very often in August. I posted about 1 roll I had taken during July and have since gotten 1 more roll developed which I still want to post about. That was about it. I’m certainly looking forward to some autumnal weather when I’ll be more likely to want to go for walks.

As I mentioned last month, I subscribed to SkillShare. My intention was to work through some drawing tutorials, which, so far, I’ve only completed one of, but I have gravitated toward some of their photography tutorials. Last month, I finished one on Still Life Photography. This month I finished tutorials about Night Photography and Creative Photowalking.

I’ve enjoyed all the tutorials I’ve viewed so far. They are shorter and a little less technical than some of the LinkedIn Learning ones I’ve done. That doesn’t make them better or worse. I foresee learning from both platforms.


Short Stories

This month was a more normal month for reading short stories, unlike last month’s epic 22 short story binge.

I liked 3 of August’s short stories from The New Yorker:

I’ve enjoyed everything I’ve read by Emma Cline, including her short stories, The Nanny and White Noise, as well as her novel The Girls. I wasn’t surprised that I liked her latest story. About a year ago, she released a short story collection, Daddy, which is high on my to read list (along with a million other books).

I don’t recall exactly which story/stories I’ve read by George Saunders before but I have a vague sensation of having not liked them so I was a little surprised I liked The Mom of Bold Action as much as I did.

I also read A Man Who Was Almost a Man, by Richard Wright and A Worn Path by Eudora Welty from A Story and Its Writer. Both stories were new to me and both were quite good, especially A Man Who Was Almost a Man.

Short Stories Read in 2021

So far in 2021, I’ve read 55 stories.

  • The Rivals, Andrea Lee
  • A Challenge You Have Overcome, Allegra Goodman
  • The Wind, Lauren Groff 
  • Casting Shadows, Jhumpa Lahiri 
  • Good-Looking, Souvankham Thammavongsa 
  • The Case For and Against Love Potions, Imbolo Mbue 
  • Future Selves, Ayşegül Savaş 
  • The Yellow Wallpaper, Charlotte Perkins Gilman
  • The Open Boat, Stephen Crane
  • Paul’s Case, Willa Cather
  • Hands, Sherwood Anderson
  • Araby, James Joyce
  • The Dead, James Joyce
  • God Mother Tea, Selena Anderson
  • The Apartment, T.C. Boyle
  • A Faithful But Melancholy Account of Several Barbarities Lately Committed, Jason Brown
  • Sibling Rivalry, Michael Byers
  • The Nanny, Emma Cline
  • Balloons, Thomas McGuane
  • Children of the Good Book, J.M. Holmes
  • A,S,D,F, Saïd Sayrafiezadeh
  • Before the Valley, Rachel Heng
  • Foster, Bryan Washington
  • The Coast of New Zealand, Cynthia Ozick
  • The Metamorphosis, Franz Kafka
  • A Hunger Artist, Franz Kafka
  • Offside Constantly, Camille Bordas
  • In the Event, Meng Jin
  • Liberté, Scott Nadelson
  • Howl Palace, Leigh Newman
  • The Nine-Tail Fox Explains, Jane Pek
  • The Heads of Dirty Children, Alejandro Puyana
  • Octopus VII, Anna Reeser
  • Enlightenment, William Pei Shih
  • Kennedy, Kevin Wilson
  • The Special World, Tiphanie Yaniquq
  • My Apology, Sam Lypsyte
  • Unread Messages, Sally Rooney
  • Satellites, Rebecca Curtis
  • The Theresa Job, Colson Whitehead
  • Coda, Tessa Hadley
  • The Rocking Horse Winner, D.H. Lawrence
  • Miss Brill, Katherine Mansfield
  • The Jilting of Granny Weatherall, Katherine Anne Porter
  • Sweat, Zora Neale Hurston
  • A Rose for Emily, William Faulkner
  • That Evening Sun, William Faulkner
  • The Circular Ruins, Jorge Luis Borges
  • Hills Like White Elephants, Ernest Hemingway
  • Superstition, Sarah Braunstein
  • The Iceman, Emma Cline
  • The Mom of Bold Action, George Saunders


I read only 2 books in August, although 1 of them was on the longer side.

I read Virginia Woolf’s To the Lighthouse for about the 4th or 5th time. It has been a longtime favorite which, obviously, I revisit from time-to-time. It’s interesting to reread books as one gets older and have a different response to it. I was much more sympathetic toward the older characters this time around, and I noted that I’m now older than Lily Briscoe.

The other book I read was Frank Herbert’s Dune. I had tried reading it as a young teenager and wasn’t able to get into it. I don’t recall what it was about it that turned me away, but I have always meant to get back to it. So 40 (!) years later, I finally did and am glad I did since I enjoyed it quite a bit. Certainly, I was inspired to pick it up because of the forthcoming movie by Denis Villeneuve. I really liked his Arrival and Sicario so am looking forward to this adaptation.

August 2021 Reading Update
August 2021 Reading Update

Books Read in 2021

So far in 2021, I have read 32 books:

This Creative Midlife Posts in 2021

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