Wheelhouse Book Club: Everything I Never Told You

Welcome back to the Wheelhouse Review book club! Though I took an extended writing break earlier this year, I did not take a reading break. My physical book club is still alive and kicking, celebrating both 8 years and 100 books since I last wrote for TWR book club. Those were both very exciting milestones!

This month, we read Everything I Never Told You by debut novelist Celeste Ng. This book has been making mighty waves of late, having just been chosen as the Best Book of the Year by Amazon, and making it to the final round of the Goodreads reader’s poll. And it’s a perfect book for a book club, full of discussable characters, revelatory plot, pros, cons, and many things in between. Are you ready? Let’s goooooooooooooooooo!


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Photo Phriday (Thursday Edition): Beach Meeting

201409.10.11_Since the temperature is on a yo-yo continuum this week for part of the East Coast (60- wait!, no 25!, no wait wait! 30 degrees!), I thought we could all use a little beach in our lives as most of us bundle up to brave the next few months of weird weather. How about this for a business meeting?

*This photo taken and copyrighted by Verena Radulovic

Dear Diary: Thoughts on “Mortified”

“You’re not the only one who had an awkward phrase,” boasts the tagline of Mortified Nation, a recent favorite Netflix musing of mine.

Courtesy of Mortified Nation

The documentary follows Mortified participants as they read their childhood diaries out loud to a live audience of strangers.

One by one, each performer steps up to a microphone, flips open their diary, and spills their narrative of growing up, hormones and all. My personal favorite is a performer who showcases the pictures she once drew of herself and the crush she desperately longed for. With visions of the two one day riding horseback together and starting a family, the pictures are unrealistic only in the way a prepubescent girl can dream up.

I loved the Netflix documentary and was lucky to see a Mortified reading here in DC this fall. But what I equally love is how the series has made me think about my childhood and my relationship with my own childhood diaries. Continue reading

The Growing Season: An Unexpected Visitor

This is the next installation of The Growing Season by Stephanie Phillips. For other installments, click here.

The next day I receive messages from both Kennedy and Abby, asking what happened. I know Cara has already given them her version and I feel a childish irritation that she got to them before I did, that she rushed to make sure they heard her side first. But I don’t have the energy to deal with it. My paltry three-day work schedule is leaving me exhausted, both from the work itself and the effort of pushing aside my nausea just so I could think and function enough to do my job. I feel consumed by the pregnancy, and when I’m not thinking about how bad I feel, I think about female friendship: how it never seems to be unmarred by petty emotions and behavior. Jack’s relationships with his guy friends seem so simple in comparison, and so are any platonic relationships I’ve ever had with the opposite sex. There is always a layer beneath the overt friendship with women, an area of hidden meanings and judgments, a layer suffused with gossip behind backs and bolstered by little jealousies. Thinking back on it, I can’t remember one close girlfriend whose loyalty has never been untested by conflict or competition. And I have been as guilty as anyone. Are we all really that insecure, and when will we grow out of it?

My new sedentary lifestyle is not helping matters. Many days, my food intake reads like a state fair menu: milkshakes, nachos, fries, doughnuts. Rarely do I feel like leaving the house on days off, which gives me ample time to think and analyze what has happened with Cara over the past year. I’m lonely, having not formed a community beyond Jack here in our new hometown. I miss New York and long for its fast pace and constant distractions—and my life there, which feels like a distant memory. Thanksgiving comes and goes, with my parents and Matt convening at our house for the day. Mom provides a full dinner courtesy of the local gourmet grocery’s catering service, and I consume one helping of mashed potatoes before nausea takes over. I keep looking for the light at the end of the tunnel called My First Trimester and doubting it exists. For the first time in my life, I feel legitimately, not just seasonally, depressed. And the more removed I feel from my former un-depressed self, the more disconnected I feel from my pregnancy and the baby it represents. Continue reading

Potent Quotable: If

I quoted this
a year ago to
someone dear to me
And reawakened
my love of poetry
photo credit: Florian Klauer

photo credit: Florian Klauer

If you can keep your head when all about you
    Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
    But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
    Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
    And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:


If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;
    If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
    And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
    Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
    And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:


If you can make one heap of all your winnings
    And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
    And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
    To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
    Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’


If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
    Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
    If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
    With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
    And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!