Saturday, February 28, 2009

The Bookkitten's iPod playlist: February 28, 2009

I rediscovered this last night as I was looking for tunes to listen to as I blog-hopped during the Virtual Girls Night Out. It turns out it's the second part of a playlist I created two years ago, when school started again. The first part of the playlist was the one I played last night.


1. "Bubbly," Colbie Caillat
2. "Sunday Morning," Maroon 5
3. "Kodachrome," Paul Simon
4. "Holding Back the Years," Simply Red
5. "Groovin'," the Young Rascals
6. "It's My Life," No Doubt
7. "Welcome Back," John Sebastian
8. "Extraordinary Machine," Fiona Apple
9. "Bittersweet Symphony," the Verve
10. "Living in the U.S.A.," Steve Miller Band
11. "Cecilia," Simon and Garfunkel
12. "Back Here," BB Mak
13. "Keep It Comin' Love," KC and the Sunshine Band
14. "Move Your Feet," Junior Senior
15. "This Love," Maroon 5
16. "Glory Days," Bruce Springsteen
17. "Working on the Highway," Bruce Springsteen

Bad, bad writing

Jenners has recently started a new feature of her blog, Fun and Games with Jenners.This first game has to do with bad writing. The rules are simple: write an introduction to a novel, as poorly as you can.

Here we go! I thought of this one in the car (where I have my best thoughts):

"Sally saw six serpents slithering slowly southward so slowly she saw slimy snails suddenly speed southwest."
--from my first novel, Sally Seahorse and the Seaurchins

Want more bad writing? Click the link above!

Saturday 9: Liar, Liar. Pants on Fire!

1. What is the last "white" lie that you told? I told our choir director I couldn't make practice because I had a dinner meeting. Truthfully, I was going out to dinner with friends.

2. Can you forgive a liar? It depends on what the lie is about. For example, if I had a boyfriend tell me that he wasn't cheating on me, and he was, out the door he goes!

3. Do you tend to exaggerate or underestimate? All the time.

4. Do you hold a grudge? You would think, with my Sicilian heritage, that grudges would be in my blood. They used to be...but I've exorcised them. Life's too short to hold grudges.

5. What's the biggest lie you've ever told? Telling my parents that I was doing well financially, when I wasn't.

6. Are there times that you feel that it is okay to lie? A little white lie every now and then never hurt anyone.

7. Did you ever end a relationship because of lies? Relationships, no. Friendships, yes.

8. Do you think you can tell when someone is lying to you?'s all in the eye contact and body language, my friends.

9. Have you been caught lying? Who hasn't?

Friday, February 27, 2009

The Bookkitten's iPod playlist: soundtrack for a VGNO

This was the playlist I listened to during the VGNO tonight:

1. "Jerk It Out," the Caesars
2. "Are You Gonna Be My Girl," Jet
3. "A Little Less Conversation (JXL Remix)," Elvis Presley
4. "Superstar," Sheryl Crow
5. "Swingtown," Steve Miller Band
6. "Born to Be My Baby," Bon Jovi
7. "Born to Run," Bruce Springsteen
8. "California," Phantom Planet
9. "Candy Everybody Wants," 10,000 Maniacs
10. "Girl, You'll Be a Woman Soon," Urge Overkill
11. "Hungry Heart," Bruce Springsteen
12. "Human Touch," Bruce Springsteen
13. "If I Had $1,000,000," Barenaked Ladies
14. "Like the Weather," 10,000 Maniacs
15. "Paranoid," Garbage
16. "Scattered Pieces," Domestic Problems
17. "Sweet Caroline," Neil Diamond
18. "Sweet Home Alabama," Lynryd Skynryd
19. "We Didn't Start the Fire," Billy Joel
20. "The Rising," Bruce Springsteen
21. "You Shook Me All Night Long," AC/DC
22. "Voices Carry," Til Tuesday

Funny...there was a lot of Jersey in this playlist. In addition to the obvious Springsteen and Bon Jovi, the Barenaked Ladies tune reminded me of when I saw them in concert. It was the summer of 2001, and my best friend and I, along with another mutual friend, went to the PNC Bank Arena--ahem, the Garden State Arts Center--to see them. Vertical Horizon opened.

That was a great summer. I'll have to blog about that someday...

Virtual GNO: Karate chopping edition

Welcome, Kittens, to another fun-filled edition of the Virtual Girls' Night Out, hosted by Ann over at Ann Again...and again.


Anyhoo, for those of you who are new here, feel free to stay awhile and explore. I'll kick off the festivities with the fun party game that Ann posted. It comes from Kat over at Sassy Irish Lassie. In this party game, you design a subtitle for your Virtual GNO post. I'm putting my selections in bold, with the great, final reveal at the end.

Here's how it works:

1. Pick the month you were born.
January-------I kicked
February------I loved
March--------I karate chopped
April----------I licked
May----------I jumped on
June----------I smelled
July-----------I did the Macarena With
August--------I had lunch with
September----I danced with
October-------I sang to
November-----I yelled at
December-----I ran over

2. Pick the day (number) you were born on.
1-------a birdbath
2-------a monster
3-------a phone
4-------a fork
5-------a snowman
6-------a gangster
7-------my mobile phone
8-------my dog
9-------my best friends' boyfriend
10-------my neighbour
11-------my science teacher
12-------a banana
13-------a fireman
14-------a stuffed animal
15-------a goat
16-------a pickle
17-------your mom
18-------a spoon
19------ - a smurf
20-------a baseball bat
21-------a ninja
22-------Chuck Norris
23-------a noodle
24-------a squirrel
25-------a football player
26-------my sister
27-------my brother
28-------an iPod
29-------a surfer
30-------a homeless guy
31-------a llama

3. What is the last number of the year you were born:
1--------- In my car
2 --------- On your car
3 ----------- In a hole
4 ----------- Under your bed
5 ----------- Riding a Motorcycle
6 --------- sliding down a hill
7 --------- in an elevator
8---------- at the dinner table
9 -------- In line at the bank
0 -------- in your bathroom

4. Pick the color of shirt you are wearing:
White---------because I'm cool like that
Black---------because that's how I roll.
Pink-----------because I'm NOT crazy.
Red-----------because the voices told me to.
Blue-----------because I'm sexy and I do what I want
Green---------because I think I need some serious help.
Purple---------because I'm AWESOME!
Gray----------because Big Bird said to and he's my leader.
Yellow--------because someone offered me 1,000,000 dollars
Orange--------because my family thinks I'm stupid anyway.
Brown---------because I can.
Other----------because I'm a Ninja!
None----------because I can't control myself

And now...drumroll please...the final reveal:

"I karate chopped a phone sliding down a hill because I'm cool like that."


Anyhoo, thanks for stopping by. I'll be paying y'all a visit now!

Friday Fill-Ins: February 27, 2009

Wanna play along? Click here!


1. I'm loud, I'm proud, I love being Sicilian.

2. Why do I have short, curly dark hair and not long, straight blonde hair? Oh that's right, I'm Sicilian. Duh!

3. How does this life work, anyway?

4. Every morning, I put extra-hold gel or mousse on my short, curly dark Sicilian hair.

5. I consider myself lucky because I have a great job, great family, great friends, and overall, a great life!

6. One day we’ll see if an afterlife really exists (I sure hope so).

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to participating in Ann's Virtual GNO, tomorrow my plans include sleeping in and Sunday, I want to continue reading The Pillars of the Earth!

Happy Friday, Kittens!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

What Kind of a Reader Are You?

Found this quiz over at Jenners' place. Here are my results. I think they speak for themselves!

What Kind of Reader Are You?
Your Result: Dedicated Reader

You are always trying to find the time to get back to your book. You are convinced that the world would be a much better place if only everyone read more.

Literate Good Citizen
Obsessive-Compulsive Bookworm
Book Snob
Fad Reader
What Kind of Reader Are You?
Quiz Created on GoToQuiz

Booking Through Thursday: February 26, 2009

Welcome, Kittens, to my first edition of Booking Through Thursday.

It's a quick little meme that I found through Kristi.

Here are this week's questions (all, of course, related to books, hence the name):

Hardcover? Or paperback? Whatever I can get my hands on either first or cheapest, depending how badly I want the book.

Illustrations? Or just text? Usually just text. I like to use my imagination when I read, especially when it comes to nonfiction.

First editions? Or you don’t care? Jimmy crack corn, and I don't care.

Signed by the author? Or not? See above response.

See how quick that was? I'm adding this to my reader...

A plug for my friend Yaya

Kittens, I need your help!

Meet my friend Yaya.

The guy in her button is her hubby, Josh. Click on the button to go directly to her blog.

Why am I directing you here, Kittens? Well, Yaya and Josh are going through the adoption process, and it is tres expensive. Yaya's having a little fundraiser over at her place to help pay for the funds that come with adopting a child. You'll find out a lot more information when you go visit her.

Here's a little bit of her story: Yaya's been struggling with infertility. She has had several miscarriages. She is determined to fulfill her dream of parenthood. Yaya's very open about her struggles, and her blog is one of the most honest I read every day. You feel every single emotion with her. You begin to hope with her, dream with her, cry with her. I admire Yaya for her candor and humor as she and her hubby go through this journey.

Yaya is also a very loyal friend. She was one of my first followers and always showers comment love upon me and her fellow bloggers. I always break into a smile when I see that Yaya's left a comment on my Gmail.

I know a lot of you already read Yaya's blog, but if you don't, please go visit and read her story! It's at points both heartbreaking and humorous, but is always a great read!

So please send Yaya your love and give her a hand! If you can't donate, leave her a comment of support!

Thursday Thunks: February 26, 2009

Welcome, Kittens, to another episode of Thursday Thunks!

1. What kind of dryer sheets do you use?
I don't use dryer sheets. I use Method fabric softener.
2. How many times a week do you eat out/order in?
Once a week, usually.
3. What did you do the night of your high school graduation?
I went to a party that the school held.
4. So Octomom is rumored to have been offered a million bucks to do a porno. Would you do it for a million?
I wish everyone would leave Octomom alone. I'm not answering this one.
5. If your child was born with an extra finger or toe, would you have it surgically removed?
Only if it significantly affected his/her way of living.
6. What was the last movie you saw?
I honestly have no idea. I haven't been to the cinema in five or six years. I hate going to the movies...I'll blog about that some other time.
7. I wanna buy you a dozen roses, what color should they be?
Peach colored. I hate red roses!
8. You are walking across the street, you are not quite half way when a speeding car comes... you have to run to get out of its way, which direction do you run?
In the opposite direction of the car! Or whatever direction that'll let me get out of the way!
9. Tell us about a time when you were invited over somewhere and had the most awful time.
I was invited to a friend's birthday party my freshman year of high school. I didn't know anyone else at the party except for my friend. I was very shy when I was in high school, and that made it much harder for me.
10. You open your front door and there is a box with a puppy in it... what do you do?
Take it to the Humane Society. The cats wouldn't get along with it. Besides, I already have the maximum number of pets that my condo association will permit me to have.

Writers Workshop: Alphabet Soup

This week, Mama Kat is offering these five writing prompts:

1.) For your birthday a sibling has decided to have the first six months of your blog printed and bound. Write a forward for the book.

2.) Write a 26-line poem using all the letters of the alphabet, where the first line starts with the letter "A," the second "B," the third "C," etc., culminating with the final line starting with "Z."(

3.) Start your story with, "In retrospect, I wouldn't say it was my best idea." And end it with, "And that's how I attempted to make this world a better place.(

4.) What would the truth have done? Write about a time when honesty was NOT the best policy.(

5.) What made your childhood bearable? Write about it.(

Well, I immediately nixed choice #1. I know that Sister Kitten would rawther write the forward, and she always surprises me with what she writes about. I know I could get really creative with choice #3, but I am sleep deprived right now and don't have the energy to think much. Choices #4 and 5 would lead to something schmaltzy, and I'm not in the mood for schmaltz tonight.

The alphabet poem did sound like fun, though, and I'm gonna give that a goes...

Another day, another dollar,
But I really want to hollar,
Can I take this great day off?

Don't tell me that I'm whining,
Even though I'm really pining
For change--perhaps a new coif?

Gotta be grateful these days
Have a job with decent wage,
I know I'm very lucky.

Just the other week,
Karma seemed real bleak,
Layoff--that would be sucky.

My boss gave us the news,
No job cuts--we said "Phew!"
Onto brighter days.

Please forgive this author,
Quite frankly, it's a bother
Rhyming leaves me hazed.

So in conclusion I
Think think that I will try
Undoing all my rhymes.

Very quickly I realize
Why I can't apologize
EXcept these aren't the times.

You see, I have to finish what I started.
Zing! I'm done--I'm now departed.

I thought the rhymes would be catchy, but I'll be honest with you--this was very difficult! Once I start to rhyme, I can't stop. It was hard enough coming up with the letters of the alphabet!!

On a side note: Jenners, this'll be my entry for your bad writing game.

At least I got something outta the deal.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

36 Random Things Meme

Thanks to NurseExec for this one.

1. Do you like bleu cheese?
You have no idea how much I love the stuff. I eat it straight outta the container.

2. Have you ever smoked?
No. Never have. I'm asthmatic, and both my parents smoked when I was a kid, so the thought of lighting up disgusted me. Actually, everyone in my immediate and extended family smoked.

3. Do you own a gun?

4. What flavor Kool Aid was your favorite?
Cherry. Ironic, since I don't like real cherries.

5. What job would you like to do other than your own?
I'd love to be a journalist.

6. What do you think of hot dogs?

7. Favorite Christmas movie?
Who doesn't love A Christmas Story?

8. What do you prefer to drink in the morning?
Black coffee.

9. Can you do push ups?
Only the modified ones.

10. What’s your favorite piece of jewelry?
My 3-stone aquamarine ring. It's my birthstone.

11. Favorite hobby?

12. Do you have A. D. D.?

13. Do you wear glasses/contacts?

14. Middle name?

15. Name 3 thoughts at this exact moment:
I need sleep, I need sleep, I need sleep.

16. Name 3 drinks you regularly drink.
Coffee, tea, wine

17. Current worry?
I've got several.

18. Current hate right now?
Life's too short to hate.

19. Favorite place to be?
At home with my cats.

20. How did you ring in the new year?
At my best friend's house with a group of friends.

21. Name three people who will complete this:
Whoever wants to.

22. Do you own slippers?
I love my slippers.

23. What color shirt are you wearing?
Tiffany blue turtleneck sweater.

24. Do you like sleeping on satin sheets?
I prefer cotton.

25. Can you whistle?
Not really.

26. Where are you now?
In my office.

27. Would you be a pirate?
Nope. Don't wanna get caught by the authorities.

28. What songs do you sing in the shower?
I don't sing in the shower.

29. Favorite girl’s Name?
Alice Anne

30. Favorite boy’s name?
Peter William

31. What is in your pocket right now?

32. Last thing that made you laugh?
Someone telling me the old "Pete and Re-Pete went out on a boat" joke in a cockney accent.

33. What vehicle do you drive?
2002 Kia

34. Worst injury you’ve ever had?
I've never been seriously injured, thank God.

35. Do you love where you live?
Connecticut's not such a bad state, but I'm not totally, madly in love with it.

36. How many TVs do you have in your house?
Two, one in the living room, and one in the bedroom.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Updates: Critters and Kitten

Hello, Kittens!

First of all, thanks to everyone for their words of reassurance and advice after I posted about the butter-eating dog. The poor pup still has the runs, and is now on a diet of wet dog food, rice, kibble, and Maalox. Strawberry-flavored Maalox. In one bowl. It's a lovely-smelling concoction.

I'm here at my friend's house tonight, once again. She has a relative who just was admitted to hospice, and she's staying over there tonight. I offered to take care of the animals if she needed it. So tonight, I'm sleeping over with the pups and cat. I'm administering the Butter Eater a dose of Maalox and wet food at 9 PM.

And here's an update from me...thanks to everyone for their suggestions for celebrating my birthday next week. I'll respond to everyone's comments soon; I've only had time tonight to visit one or two blogs. I haven't been home much since Sunday. I'll play catch-up with everyone later this week. I have a couple of post-dated entries that you'll see in the next few days, though.

I will be back, and soon!

Monday, February 23, 2009

2009 Oscars highlights

Dedicated to Yaya, who needed something funny to brighten her day.

In case you missed it, here are three fantabulous clips from last night's Oscars.

We start off with the opening number--my favorite part of the ceremony. I heart Hugh Jackman. But you already knew that, Kittens.

We follow with a bit featuring Seth Rogan and James Franco in their Pineapple Express personas. Freakin' hilarious.

Finally, we finish with a musical number featuring Hugh Jackman, Beyonce, Zac Efron, Vanessa Hudgens, Dominic Cooper, and Amanda Seyfried.

On a side note, I think Hugh Jackman should have a Vegas revue. Or better yet, have a revue at one of our casinos here. Yeahhhh...

About my faith, part two

This past December, I wrote this post about my faith journey. Here is the link; rather than me retell the whole story again, you can click on it to learn more.

But in this post, I'm going to tell you more about my particular church, why I like it, and the people who shape it.

One of the reasons why I like being a Unitarian Universalist is that no two services are alike. Take this month's services, for example. We began the month of February with a service led by our Covenant of UU Pagans, the "Winter Cross Quarter Fire Festival." This was the service on which I based my "Perspective" post. The following week, we had another lay-led service based on the concept of truth. How do we know what's true? What determines the truth, and why? I participated in last week's service, titled "One Singular Sensation," a service devoted to spirituality and the place single people have in society. I may post my sermon up on the blog, if anyone's interested.

Unitarian Universalism doesn't have a creed, but has its base in Judeo-Christian religious traditions. Basically, it's dedicated to developing and promoting "the inherent worth and dignity in every human being". This is what I love most about my faith, that every human being is valued, regardless of race, color, creed, or sexual orientation.

There are so many people from different backgrounds that attend my church. In addition to the Covenant of UU Pagans, we have atheists, agnostics, humanists, former Catholics, and former Episcopalians at my church. Everyone contributes to the church, and everyone's contributions are welcomed.

Just as important as the diversity of services is to me, the feeling of community I receive from the church is wonderfully enriching. I have made so many new friends in the church. It's a small enough community that if anything happens to anyone, either good or bad, we all rally around for support. We had, for example, a special collection for a family whose mother was fighting breast cancer. We collected over $1200 for this family; an astounding amount, given these tough economic times.

My favorite part of the service is "Joys and Concerns". It's a short part of the service, usually about five or ten minutes, where we share what's going on in our lives, both good and bad. We request prayers, for example, for people who are fighting illnesses, for pregnant women, or for good karma for job interviews. That's how wide it can range. Joys and Concerns helps me bond with my fellow parishoners, and brings us all much closer.

We don't have too many rituals in the church, but the ones that we do have are very interesting. Our church year runs from September to June, same as the school calendar does. At our first formal service of the year, in September, we have what's called "Water Ingathering". Every member of the congregation brings in a water sample from somewhere special to them. We pour all of our water samples into a bowl, and our minister takes it home with her, boils it, and filters it. This water is used for celebrations throughout the year, such as child dedications (our version of baptism). a nutshell, that's the story of my faith. If you have any more questions for me, pass 'em along!

P.S. You may have seen me mention a blogger known as PeaceBang in my posts. She's a UU minister at a congregation in Norwell, Massachusetts and is an absolute riot. Go over to her blog, which is on my blogroll, when you get the chance. PeaceBang rocks!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Freakout Mode: Critter sitting edition

I just returned to my home after a week of housesitting for my friend's dogs and cat. The other day, I composed a post which asked the question: "How far would you go to save your pet?"

Well, Kittens, I had a panic yesterday. Let me tell you all about it...

I had to bake for Coffee Hour at church today. I took two sticks of butter out to soften on the counter. I was in the den, which is adjacent to the kitchen, when I heard a thump on the floor, along with some lip-licking sounds that only a dog could make.

Well, can you guess what happened?

I ran into the kitchen and found the yellow lab, face inside the package of butter, licking her lips as I discover that she ate one of the sticks, wrapper and all.

Key words: wrapper and all.

Now I know how to take care of a dog, how to feed it, give it meds, walk it, let it relieve itself, etc. However, when it comes to canine emergencies, I am woefully inexperienced. I went online and I called two emergency vets to get their opinions. They assured me she would pass everything, but that she would have diarrhea.

Well, I took the dog out shortly afterwards, and sure enough, she did have the runs. I took her out again an hour later and she had a second episode.

I fed her dinner. She ate it all, albeit more slowly than usual.

I originally had plans to go dancing last night, but I abandoned them in order to keep an eye on the dog. I was so freaked out by this I posted this message on my Facebook status:

"Kitten is freaking out because one of the dogs she's housesitting for ate a stick of butter--wrapper and all--and hasn't passed the wrapper yet."

Within minutes, friends chimed in with their advice, links to websites, and consolation. Give it time, they said. It's paper, and it's only butter, the dog will pass everything.

The dog ended up sleeping verrry soundly till 11 PM, when I took her and her sibling out one last time before I went to bed.

I went up to bed, fell asleep during SNL, and was soon slumbering very deeply. The cat snuggled up to me, and life was good.

Then, at 1:30, I heard yelps and whining.

The yellow lab was at the foot of the stairs, wide awake and begging to go out.

In my sleepytime fog, I let both dogs out, and watched for ten minutes as the yellow lab hurriedly paced the lawn to find the perfect spot to poo. And poo she did--it was solidifying, but not by much. (Sorry if you're eating while reading this.)

So the dogs came in and I returned to bed--only to be awakened once again at 5:30 for breakfast. I fed the trio and returned to bed again, where I stayed till the alarm went off at 6:45. I hit the snooze until 7:30, then got myself up, let the dogs out again, and set off to finally bake that cake I was supposed to have baked last night.

As I drove up to church with my goodies, I kept freaking out. This is what happens when I am in Freakout Mode. I worry obsessively, and my thoughts keep spinning round and round and round. It really dampered my mood; with that and the fatigue I had from lack of sleep, I was pretty jolly indeed.

The dogs' owner called me during services. (Not to worry, I put my cell on vibrate). She had arrived back in Connecticut, but had to go visit someone, so she wouldn't be returning to the house right away. I called her on the way back to her house.

She asked if things were OK.

I told her about the butter incident.

She started laughing like hell.

I mean, she was hysterical.

"The dog will be fine," she said. "Similar things have happened before! Not to worry."

Well, I was reassured. However, before I left, while the dog did have another bowel movement, she still hadn't passed the damn wrapper.

All this agita over a stick of butter.

At least she didn't eat the cake.

Passing on Sunday Stealing...

Every Sunday I participate in a meme called Sunday Stealing. I won't be partaking this week, since the questions are way too personal. I join several other bloggy buddies in this; I'm pretty open about my life here, but, as Jodi says, I gotta draw the line somewhere.

Hope to see you next week, Kittens, for this!

About my faith, part one

A couple of weeks ago I wrote a post about a service that I had attended at my church. Since then I've received a few questions about my faith, and I hope that I can answer most of them in this post.

I attend a Unitarian Universalist church. The history of the Unitarian Universalist movement is quite complicated for me to explain, and I am still learning a lot about it. If you click here, you'll go to the website of the Unitarian Universalist Association. If you click on the "About Us" tab at the top of the page, you can learn a little more about the history. It also has a directory of all of the UU churches in the United States, if you're interested in finding one in your area. I'll put the link to the UUA under my "Linky Love" section if you ever wish to go back to it someday.

Unitarian Universalism is a very small religion; as of 2007, there were roughly 163,000 practicing members across the U.S. That's a number that hasn't increased since the Unitarians and the Universalists merged in 1961.

Yes, there is a difference between the Unitarians and the Universalists. Unitarianism was founded upon the belief that God is only one being, as opposed to the Trinity (that is, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit). In other words, it's a monotheistic faith. Most people, however, in the UU church, have moved away from this philosophy.

It's kind of hard for me to condense the history of Unitarianism into one blog post without risking plagarism, so click here for the Wikipedia article. (NOTE: I know I often sarcastically refer to Wikipedia as "that bastion of journalistic integrity", but there is a really good article here about the Unitarians. Not everything on Wikipedia is badly written!)

According to this Wikipedia article, Universalist philosophy holds that "all persons and creatures are related to God or the Divine and will be reconciled to God. A church or community that calls itself Universalist may emphasize the universal principles of most religions and accept other religions in an inclusive manner, believing in a universal reconciliation between humanity and the divine. For example monotheistic religions like Judaism, Christianity, and Islam still claim a universal value of their doctrine and moral principles because they feel they are inclusive.[1]
A belief in one common truth is also another important tenet. The living truth is seen as more far-reaching than national, cultural, or religious boundaries.[2]"

Finally, this Wikipedia article really delves into the history of Unitarian Universalism. Click on it if you want to find out even more!

Not many people are born into Unitarian Universalism. Most UUs come from other religious backgrounds. For example, about two-thirds of the members of my church are former Catholics. I am one of them. I was born and raised Catholic, attended Catholic high school, and went to a Catholic university and grad school. I was a Eucharistic Minister, a retreat leader, and campaigned for many social justice causes. I was really into it, especially in college, when there were so many opportunities to get involved, and more importantly, question everything.

I attended a Jesuit college, Fairfield University, and was really active in Campus Ministry. The staff of Campus Ministry really knew how to talk to college students, and provided opportunities for everyone to get involved in such things as mission trips, community service projects, and serving our fellow campus residents. I loved every minute of it. It was an important step in my faith journey, one that shapes my beliefs to this day.

Then I graduated college, and tried shopping around for a church that I would fall in love with. I didn't find one. I was very spoiled by the Fairfield experience. I missed the personalized attention, the close relationships I formed (many of which last to this day), and the fulfillment I got whenever I distributed Communion or was involved in a service project. All of the churches I attended were the same, and I never got a sense of fulfillment from any of them.

The churches I went to all had the same things in common. No one in the congregation talked to each other before the services started, no "Hello, how's it going" type small-talk catch up. Everyone sat in the pews, staring ahead at the altar, dutifully following the day's Bible readings in their missals, and dutifully singing the songs in the hymnal. (Most of the songs were performed like durges). Almost everyone would go up to receive Communion and return to their seats silently, then kneel in prayer.

I quickly became accustomed to sitting in the very back pew, not saying anything to anyone, and only acknowledging the presence of others during the Kiss of Peace.

I was miserable.

And my spirit, my faith, was slowly shrinking, shriveling up, like a raisin that was left out too long in the sun.


Clip of the Week: Brian Williams and Jon Stewart

More BriWi love for ya, Kittens!

Here is a clip of one of the many times that Brian Williams has appeared on The Daily Show. I love the interplay between him and Jon Stewart. This clip, from July 31, 2008, is typical of the back-and-forth between the two newsmen. They're the Abbott and Costello of the news.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Why I heart Brian Williams

Every weeknight at 6:30, I have a standing date with this man:

Ahhh, Brian Williams. How I do I love thee? Let me count the ways.

1. You haven't forgotten where you came from. I admire your modesty, Mr. Williams. In nearly every interview you've done with the talk shows, you always say, "I'm just a guy from Jersey." Let me add, working-class Jersey. Jersey, home of Papa Cat's side of the fam. The Jersey that Bruce Springsteen, our hometown hero, represents oh-so-well in all of his songs. Jersey, home of the greatest beaches in the world. You're one of my peeps!

2. You were a volunteer fireman. You understand the brotherhood that firemen share. You served your community, something I really admire in a guy.

3. You take your job very seriously. When you deliver the news, you don't sugarcoat things. You're a cut-to-the-chase type of guy. I really liked when you said on Ellen that you deliver the news as if you're talking to your family and all the ones you love. Boy, did that make me swoon! Anyhoo, I like how you deliver the news objectively and honestly, with no bias whatsoever.

That having been said, I remember this clip from the July 7, 2008 edition of the NBC Nightly News:

I mean, how could I not laugh when you broke out of serious anchorman mode to present this bit? It was as if you wanted to say, "I can't believe I'm reporting this." But I loved the way you did it, straightforward with a touch of sarcasm thrown in. Mama Cat and I were on the floor laughing when you delivered this report. (For the record, Mama Cat was also very sad to learn this, as she loves her Pringles).

4. You don't take yourself too seriously. Witness your Saturday Night Live hosting gig, something you did so brilliantly well. Witness all of those interviews you do with Leno, Letterman, Conan, Ellen, The Daily Show, and most recently, Bonnie Hunt. You have such a wonderfully dry sense of humor.

5. You're not afraid to let a little of Brian Williams, the human being, slip into your broadcasts. There are stories that you report on, and when they move you, sometimes you'll let something slip in like, "As a father of two, I..." It's clear that you care so much about your family.

6. You've been married to the same woman for 23 years. I think that's sexy. This coming from a woman whose idea of commitment is five minutes over a cup of Dunkin' Donuts coffee. There aren't that many people involved in the news or entertainment businesses who have had long, steady marriages. Yours is very admirable. Not to mention, you have a very attractive, funny wife. You have good taste. :)

7. You look like you're a great hugger. I can't believe I just typed that! Now I'm starting to sound all high school! Witness this clip from your appearance on The Bonnie Hunt Show:

I mean, look at the hug you gave Bonnie Hunt! Polite, yet firm, and you hugged as if you meant it. Some Hollywood types don't really hug the host, but you did. That was an embrace right there. (By the way, it's not the kiss that does it for me when I meet the guy; it's the hug).

8. You are wicked smart. Who else listens to hours and hours of the LBJ tapes just for the fun of it? You're a geek after my own heart! I love geeks!

9. You were on Sesame Street! I mean, that's just the epitome of cool in my generation! And you were awesome! I can't picture either Walter Cronkite or Dan Rather doing what you did!)

(OK, Kitten, breathe, calm down, wipe up the drool, remind yourself that you're an almost-33-year-old woman with a huge crush on a TV journalist and not an almost-13-year-old girl with a huge crush on her math teacher. Now's the time to redeem yourself, girl. What can you come up with for reason #10?)

10. Your baby blues look ever so much bluer and cuter in HD.

...a period of silence follows as Kitten realizes she's failed to redeem herself...cue the crickets...

I need to go now. I need to take a cold shower and watch some old Huntley/Brinkley footage. That'll bring me back down to earth... least until 6:30 Monday night...

Saturday 9: Letting the Sparks Fly

Want to play along? Click here.

1. Where would you go if you wanted to spark your creativity?
It depends on what I'm doing. I'm a scrapbooker, so I'd go to Michael's. If I needed to spark my cross stitching creativity, I'd consult one of the many past issues of Cross Stitch and Country Crafts that I still own. If I'm writing something, I find sparks of creativity in any situation. Once I start writing, then the creative process flows easily.

2. What would be one thing that would embarrass you a great deal?
Having a friend of a friend publicly criticize me for anything that comes out of my mouth. It has happened before.

3. What values did your parents instill in you?
They instilled so much in me...kindness, compassion, a sense of humor, and gratitude.

4. What’s a fad of your teen years that you remember well?
Well, my teen years straddled the late 80s and early to mid 90s, so there are a lot of fads I remember well. In the 80s, I remember jelly bracelets, slap wraps, ruffled skirts, neon colored skinny jeans, leggings under denim skirts, and...wait a minute, I think I'm describing today's fashion trends...

As for the 90s, I remember plaid flannel shirts and the overall grunge/emo look. The 80s fashions and fads were much more memorable.

5. What is your favorite breakfast?
I love breakfast! I'd have it for every meal if I could! I love the classic greasy diner breakfast: scrambled eggs with sausage links, a side of hash browns, and a tall glass of OJ to wash it all down. Throw in some coffee and you've got a great meal!

6. What is the best birthday gift that you have received?
For my 30th birthday Sister Kitten and my two best friends took me to New York City. We saw The Producers, went to lunch at The Olive Garden, then went to Jekyll and Hyde's for dinner, where they made a big deal, to the entire restaurant, that it was my birthday. After dinner we walked to Rockefeller Center where we watched the skaters for a while. Then we saw everyone clear the rink--except for two people. A guy proposed to his girlfriend on center ice! She said yes, and everyone around applauded. That's a weekend I'll never forget, especially since I was with the people I care about most in the world.

7. What gadget could you not live without?
Now you all know how much I adore my iPod. I certainly can't live without that. But up near the top of that list, as well, is my cell phone. In this day and age, I find it difficult to live without that too!

8. Do you collect anything?
I used to collect Beanie Babies. Now I collect coupons.

9. What website (non-blog) do you regularly visit?
I visit entirely too much.

Thanks for reading my list, Kittens! I'll be back tomorrow for more meme fun with Sunday Stealing! Toodles!

Friday, February 20, 2009

Virtual Girls Night Out!

My good bloggy pal Yaya said she was participating in a Virtual Girls Night Out, where we go blog-hopping. My plans for tonight got postponed, so I thought I'd give this a try...

So let's go with the party it is, in Ann's words:
In honor of the Academy Awards that are happening this Sunday the 22nd let's play... "I Would Like To Thank". List 3 people/things/situations that you would like to thank.
1. I'd like to thank...Facebook, for reuniting me with a friend from college that I haven't seen in...well, waaaaaaaayyyyyyyyy too long, and would never have seen again if it hadn't been for this social network.
2. I'd like to thank...Barnes and Noble, for always having some yummy bargains like publishers' remainders, which enabled me to add to my book collection today (in addition to providing the locale for the above reunion.
3. I'd like to thank...Sister Kitten, for a yummy, yummy dinner earlier this week with Mama and Papa Cat and two friends whom we don't get to see often enough.
Well, I'm off to party some more! Tally-ho, Kittens! Join me tomorrow for the Saturday 9 and for more bloggy fun!

Friday Fill-Ins: February 20, 2009


I just's been exactly one month since the inauguration. Wow! That month was both fast and slow.

Now that we have that out of the way, awaaaaaaaaaayyyyyyyyy we go!!!

1. Give me a dinner with George Clooney or Hugh Jackman and I'll absolutely love you for the rest of my life.

2. Whenever Friday fill-ins come around, I know the weekend's almost here!!!!

3. I wish to achieve financial stability sooner rather than later.

4. Sister Kitten's stuffed shells were the last thing I ate that was utterly delicious.

5. To live in this world you need to have a lot of ingenuity, intuition, and just a wee touch of insanity.

6. Other than this one, Jodi's blog is the last blog I commented on.

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to going to my needlework circle, tomorrow my plans include going to a dance and Sunday, I want to enjoy my last hurrah before I have to go back to work on Monday!

Friday critter blogging

This week we're taking a break from cat blogging and focusing on the critters I'm currently housesitting for. I'm not going to put up names or pictures because I don't have permission from the friend who owns these dogs, but I will describe them for you as best I can.

I'm housesitting this week for two dogs, a yellow lab and a black lab. The yellow lab has had some physical issues in the past; she had surgery on her hip quite a few years ago, about a year or two before I met my friend. So the yellow lab is on meds for her hip; even though she walks normally, she can't run great distances. She wants to jump on you when she sees you, but she can only hop, because of her hip.

In addition to her regular meds, the yellow lab is also on two different antibiotics for her ears; she has a blockage in her ears which is clearing up. She also gets a gel squirted down her ear canal twice a day, and another solution that gets massaged in her ears every other day.

The black lab is on one medication, but I'm not sure what it's for. She's also on another one for "biting issues." That's the best I can describe it. She tends to bite her left front paw quite a bit, and supposedly the pill is used to calm her down.

In addition to the two dogs, I'm also looking after my friend's cat, whom my friend believes is twelve or thirteen years old. The kitty has severe arthritis, so he gets a pill mixed in with his food every morning. Additionally, he has an anti-anxiety medication that he has to take every day as well.

All three critters also are on special diets. They can't have regular Purina that can be purchased at the grocery stores. I'm not exactly sure why.

I have to admire the care that my friend gives her pets. She never married or had kids, so her pets are her family. The critters all live happy, healthy lives, and they are fun to be around. They are playful and affectionate. I really enjoy them.

That having been said, I wonder how far I would go for my girls. I know that there are pet owners who spend $500 or more on meds for their pets. I had a friend who gave her cat insulin injections twice a day to keep its diabetes under control.

I love my girls. They are my family. They are my kids. They love me unconditionally, and I feel the same way about them. I would do anything for them.

That having been said, my budget is very tight right now and I don't have enough room for veterinary emergencies. Last week Gabby ate a ribbon and she puked it, but I admit that I was damn lucky that she was able to regurgitate it. If she didn't, she may have had to had surgery. I think about that and start having heart palpitations. What if I couldn't save my cats? That's like a mother not able to save her own child! Oh, the thought still sickens me...

My cats are young, six and seven years old, respectively, and I hope that I get a lotta living out of them. I can't believe I've had Maggie for almost seven years now. That's my entire adult life, Kittens. I've had cats my entire life, period, except for the first year I was in my apartment.

I've often heard parents say that if something needs to be done for one of their kids, they find a way to do it. They make what seems to be impossible, possible. That having been said, if my cats needed urgent care, I'd find a way somehow.

Now, Kittens, I must ask the question:

How far are we willing to go to save our pets?

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Plug for a new Etsy shop!

Hello, Kittens!

Yesterday I was working on postdating a series of posts that are coming up next week. I figured I had the time off, why not? I didnt think I'd be posting today, but I got a request from a friend that I'd like to let y'all know about.

Anyhoo, I just wanted to put in a plug for my friend Liz's daughter's Etsy shop. Emma, her daughter, lives in Hawaii and just opened up an Etsy called "Aloha Accessories." She's just getting started with it and could really use some visitors!

Click here to go visit Aloha Accessories. Now, I don't know how to put an Etsy widget in my sidebar; if someone could give me instructions I'd appreciate it!

Thanks everyone!

P.S. Updated to add: check out my friend Liz's blog called My Fiber Addiction. She is the most prolific knitter I know. She is to knitting what I am to reading. Liz has put her original patterns online and they are awesome. Tell her Kitten sent you!

Writers Workshop: My Biggest Pet Peeve

Among those writing prompts listed over at Mama Kat's blog was this little gem:

"What's your number one pet peeve? Develop a punishment for anyone caught in the act."

This one required a lot of thought, Kittens. I have a rawther big pet peeve, but I was debating in my mind what the punishment should be.

I can't stand text messaging. I really, really loathe it and the lexicon that is used, such as IDK, OMG, BTW, LOL, and BFF. I realize why this was developed, because many text messaging plans only allow you to use a limited number of characters per message, but I absolutely loathe when people use phrases such as: "R U going 2 da rstrnt 2 nite?"

My best friend and my friend K are the only people I know, besides myself, who text message using correct spelling, grammar, and complete sentences. I know it takes us a lot longer to text than the average person, but to me, there's absolutely no excuse for poor grammar or spelling. I have a friend who graduated from college Phi Beta Kappa, has a master's from Harvard, and she resorts to the classic abbreviated texting lexicon. Ironic, dontcha think?

What especially bothers me is that this texting lexicon has permeated standard grammar, spelling, and punctuation. Because of this, our language is "de-volving." Fifty years from now, our language will be reduced to a series of grunts and nonsensical words made up of only three letters. Imagine this conversation in your local grocery store:

CUSTOMER: OMG, no fnd da chz. Wrz it?
EMPLOYEE: IDK. Nxt 2 mlk, I tink.
CUSTOMER: OK, BRB. appropriate punishment, shall we say? I have the perfect solution, and it all comes courtesy of my English teacher from my freshman year of high school (not the one I've mentioned on the blog before, a different lady).

My English teacher from my freshman year of high school made us diagram sentences ad nauseum. At the time, I hated every moment of it, but now, I appreciate it. I know the difference between an adjective and an adverb, subject and predicate, and dependent and independent clauses. I will admit that diagramming sentences is not fun; it's boring. And what could be a more boring activity on a Saturday night than diagramming sentences?

So here's how the punishment rolls out: first-time bad grammar offenders will be sent to the slammer from Friday at 5 PM till Sunday at 5 PM. During their confinement, their cell phones will be taken away so they won't be able to text. They will then spend the next 48 hours in solitary confinement, in a windowless room, with nothing but a desk, paper, a writing utensil, and Warriner's English Grammar and Composition. They will do nothing but diagram sentences for 48 hours straight.

And 48 hours is just the minimum sentence. If, after 48 hours they can't diagram a sentence or haven't mastered the proper rules of English grammar, they have to stay in the slammer till they get it right.

The grammar prison is supervised by a trifecta of wardens. In addition to my English teachers from my freshman and sophomore years of high school, they have the strictest warden of all: my mother, Mama Cat. Mama Cat was an English major, and while she never taught, she was the utmost grammarian. She constantly corrected my improper grammar when I was growing up, and I am a much better person for it. She always read my papers, and was absolutely vicious with the red pen.

Here's how the wardens work: the English teachers inspect the offenders' sentences. When they give the OK to their work, they turn it over to Mama Cat for final inspection. My mama will wield her red pen, and even if she finds one minor mistake, back to the cell the offenders go. If mama gives the OK, then the offenders may leave grammar prison.

However, once the reformed grammarians leave grammar prison, their text messages will be monitored. A board of retired English teachers will work with computer programmers to carry out this mammoth job. If anyone is caught with bad grammar in their text messages, then they have to check into the William Safire Center for Grammar Rehabilitation for a minimum 30-day stay.

Now Kittens, I am not perfect, and I have been guilty of using bad grammar and spelling in much of my posting. I occasionally use the terms "BFF" and "LOL", but I don't make it a standard part of my writing. I used the word "dontcha" earlier in my post for stylistic effect, but that's about the limit to my misspellings.

So Kittens, do yourselves a favor: If you currently employ texting lexicon on a regular basis in your posting, watch out. My mama and I will come after you with the Warriner's Grammar sooner than you think!

Thursday Thunks: February 19, 2009

Good day, Kittens, and welcome to another fun-filled episode of Thursday Thunks!

1. What brand & flavor of toothpaste do you use?
Crest Multi-Care Whitening Plus Scope, peppermint flavor. Mama Cat, in her infinite wisdom, gifted me with a four-pack of extra large tubes of this stuff two Christmases ago. She got it at Costco, along with a whole bunch of other items. I'm on the last tube now. (I go through about two tubes of toothpaste per year. Remember, Kittens, I am the only human living in my condo).

2. What is your earliest memory?
The birth of Sister Kitten. I was three years old at the time, and I remember running up and down the nursery hall, between my mother's room, and looking at my brand-new baby sister.

3. Hot Dogs or Hamburgers?
Hamburgers, by far. Do y'all know what hot dogs are made of? Honestly!

4. If you could bring any one famous person back to life, who would it be?
Franklin Delano Roosevelt (FDR). I'd like for him and President Obama to have a serious meeting of the minds. I wonder what FDR would think about our current economic situation, and how he would help our current president resolve it.

5. What is one thing we would always find in your fridge... what one thing would we never find?
You will always find a bottle of white wine in my fridge. I tend towards pinot grigio, but I also like a nice chardonnay. One thing you will never find, sadly, is a bottle of Dom... :(

6. Did you have to go and look for the answer of #1?
Nope. I've been using Crest since I was a kid, with the exceptions of the rare occasions when Papa Cat did the grocery shopping. Then we'd find Aim or Gleem near the bathroom sink. Eventually, he got the message, and stopped grocery shopping.

7. What don't watermelons grow on trees?
Do you mean "WHY" don't watermelons grow on trees? Because the watermelons would just weigh down the tree branches and eventually lead to the collapse of the tree.

On that note, I really wish money could grow on trees right now...if that were the case we'd all be out of this stinkin' financial crisis right now...or we'd be in debt, since there are either few or no plants that bear fruit year-round (I'm no botanist, so don't ask...)

8. What is something that you own that you should probably just throw in the trash, but you never will?
My Cape Cod sweatshirt. It's old, aging, and ratty, but it has sentimental value. It will be 17 years old this year. I guess I should throw away my blue Fairfield sweatshirt, too (the one I'm wearing now), but I can't, for the same reasons.

9. I push you into a room and lock the door. I leave you there for 6 hours. The walls are chalkboards and in the middle of the room there is a box of colored chalk. What will be written/drawn on the walls when I let you out?
Doodles of my cats. Doodles of trees. Writing that says, "GET ME THE F--- OUTTA HERE!" No grand artwork, cuz I can't draw.

10. When was the last time you changed the oil on your car?
Why, two weeks ago, as a matter of fact!

11. In your extended family, who has been married the longest?
My aunt and uncle. They've been married almost 50 years.

12. Name one thing that is so normal to you now that someone who was your age 50 years ago would think was abnormal.
Well, let's see, let's think back, an almost-33-year-old woman in 1959, what would be abnormal to an almost-33-year-old woman in 1959? AH! Eureka! I've got it! Being an unmarried homeowner with a successful career and no ambitions to marry or to raise kids! That would be abnormal to an almost-33-year-old woman in 1959! But it's perfectly normal to me--because I've just described myself!

13. Have you ever wanted someone or something so bad that it hurt? first love...back in high school. Like many of my loves, it was, of course, unrequited. Remember, Kittens, I have a PhD in Unrequited Love from the School of Hard Knocks.

14. What do you dip your french fries in?
Ketchup. Good ol', plain, ordinary, Heinz 57. No other ketchup will do.

15. What was the last picture that you took?
It was a picture of Sister Kitten's oldest cat as she sat in her LL Bean terrycloth tote bag.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Kitten's 2009 Read Your Own Books Challenge

I told you I can't stop signing up for reading challenges!

This one's easy, and it comes from MizB. The rules are easy: set a goal for how many of your OWN books you'd like to read in 2009, and read them any time between January 1st and December 31st.

My goal is to read at least 30 of my own books this year. Here's what's on my list so far as of July 26, 2009:

1. American Wife, by Curtis Sittenfeld
2. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows 3. Note to Self: 30 Women on Hardship, Humiliation, Heartbreak, and Overcoming it All, edited by Andrea Buchanan
4. Three Cups of Tea, by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin
5. When in Doubt, Sing: Prayer in Daily Life, by Jane Redmont
6. You Shall Know Our Velocity! by Dave Eggers
7. The Second Assistant, by Clare Naylor and Mimi Hare
8. The First Assistant, by Clare Naylor and Mimi Hare
9. Gods Behaving Badly, by Marie Phillips
10. French Milk, by Lucy Knisley
11. Gentlemen and Players, by Joanne Harris
12. In a Sunburned Country, by Bill Bryson
13. Little Women, by Louisa May Alcott
14. Outliers: The Story of Success, by Malcolm Gladwell
15. Little Men, by Louisa May Alcott
16. Beginner's Greek, by James Collins
17. Holly's Inbox, by Holly Denham
18. Jo's Boys, by Louisa May Alcott
19. Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, by Lisa See

As you can tell, I've had a LOT on the to be read (TBR) pile for a verrrrrrrryyyyy long time.

And if you're a regular reader, you know the button drill. Just click on the buttons in the sidebar for the latest and greatest updates.

Wow! How many more reading challenges can I sign up for?

Kitten's 2009 Pub Challenge

I really, really, truly thought I was done signing up for book challenges. But NOOOOOOOOO!! I found this one over at The Pub, and I found this blog via Lynne's Little Corner of the World. The rules are easy for the Pub Challenge (rules are taken directly from the blog itself):

  1. Read a minimum of 9 books first published in 2009. You don’t have to buy these. Library books, unabridged audios, or ARCs are all acceptable. To qualify as being first published in 2009, it must be the first time that the book is published in your own country. For example, if a book was published in Australia, England, or Canada in 2008, and then published in the USA in 2009, it counts (if you live in the USA). Newly published trade paperbacks and mass market paperbacks do not count if there has been a hardcover/trade published before 2009.
  2. No children’s/YA titles allowed, since we’re at the ‘pub.’
  3. At least 5 titles must be fiction.
  4. Crossovers with other challenges are allowed.
  5. You can add your titles as you go, and they may be changed at any time.

So far here's my list, updated May 24, 2009:

1. Note to Self:30 Women on Hardship, Humiliation, Heartbreak, and Overcoming It All, by Andrea Buchanan (published January 6, 2009)
2. It Sucked and Then I Cried, by Heather B. Armstrong (published March 24, 2009)

I'm not going to resolve to sign up for more reading challenges! I'm lucky that I've been signing up for challenges that have crossovers...that's how I don't get overwhelmed!

And as always, there will be a button in the sidebar for you to click on whenever you want the latest updates.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

And now...haiku time

Stimulus is signed!
Dear President Obama,
Where the hell's my check?

The Middle Place, by Kelly Corrigan

"It is one thing to be a man's wife--quite another to be the mother of his children. In fact, once you become a mother, being a wife seems like a game you once played or a self-help book you were overly impressed with as a teenager that on second reading is puffy with common ideas. This was one of many things I had learned since crossing over into the middle place--that sliver of time when childhood and parenthood overlap. One day you're cheering your daughter through a swimming lesson or giving her a pat for crossing the monkey bars or reminding her to say 'please', and the next, you're bragging to your parents about your newest trick--a sweet potato recipe, a raise at work, a fix for your ant problem. It's a giant Venn diagram where you are the only member of both sets." (p. 29)

Oftentimes I get so absorbed in a book, I don't put it down till I finish. Or, I finish it in two settings. Such was the case with Kelly Corrigan's memoir, The Middle Place. I don't often cry as I read books, yet this one had me close to tears for so much of the time, I wasn't afraid to let them spill.
The Middle Place is a book about so many things.

1. It's a memoir about one woman's struggle with breast cancer, and how she copes with raising two toddlers simultaneously.
Corrigan isn't afraid to let her emotions become raw, as she goes to chemotherapy, as she tries to explain her illness to her daughters, ages 3 and 1, as she gets to know the nurses and doctors who treat her. She candidly describes the reactions of some of her daughters' playmates and mothers honestly, and doesn't sugar-coat anything.

2. It's a memoir about how, while Corrigan was going through chemo and radiation, her father was diagnosed with bladder cancer.
Corrigan recalls the anger and sadness, but mostly anger, when she learns of her father's diagnosis. A large portion of the book deals with her guilt at not being in Philadelphia, at home with her parents, as her father goes through chemo and radiation herself. (Corrigan lives in the San Francisco Bay Area). She calls and E-mails various doctors and does not hold back her frustration at what initially seems to be her parents' and brothers' indifference towards her father's disease. (It later turns out that this supposed indifference was a coping mechanism).

3. It's a memoir about father-daughter relationships.
This is what I loved most about this book. Kelly Corrigan takes great pride in being "George Corrigan's daughter." George Corrigan is a man that readers will grow to love throughout the memoir. Here is a man who started off the day by opening the window and shouting, "Hello, World!" Here is a man who is so positive and upbeat that people gravitate toward him. Here is a man who has unconditional love for his daughter. Kelly loves her father so much that she is so afraid of losing him. Her dedication to his care is inspired not only by this, but also, undoubtedly, by her own cancer.

4. It's a memoir about family relationships.
Corrigan recalls a conversation she had with her father about why she did not changer her name to her husband's after she married him. I won't write down the whole text of the conversation, but I will say that she is proud to be a Corrigan, proud to be a part of the loud, boisterous Irish Catholic family that she grew up in.

Corrigan also addresses many of her immediate family's personality quirks, and how they especially affect her during her father's cancer treatment. She is not afraid to hold back on her emotions or opinions, which is one of the reasons why the book is so gripping.

I really enjoyed Corrigan's style. Each chapter altered back and forth between the past and present. One chapter, she wrote about going to the prom with her two brothers. The next chapter, she talks about going into a chemo session. This style enables the reader to understand how her life was shaped, and how these past events continue to shape the person that she is.

As I read, I thought about the relationship between me and my own father. Papa Cat and I are close, but not as close as Kelly and George Corrigan seem to be. I really envied the closeness that these two have. I also thought about how Sister Kitten and I would react if something ever happened to him or Mama Cat.

Which leads me to wonder... there a Middle Place for those who don't have kids? Is there a place where childhood and adulthood overlap, as opposed to solely childhood and parenthood? For people like me, what is that one event, or series of events, that signals that you have permanently crossed into adulthood, and that there's no looking back?

For me, that day will be if and when my parents get too feeble to care for themselves and my sister and I will have to care for them. It could also be, if it ever happens, the day when I marry and have children, but that's a ways away, if it ever occurs.

The Middle Place will have you thinking about your own family, and what your Middle Place might be. It's a book that will stay with you for a long, long time.

P.S. This book also provided resources for those who have family members or friends who have struggled with cancer. Kelly Corrigan is the creator of the website, a website that teaches people how to help a friend who has breast cancer. I've read it and believe that this should be a website to teach people how to help friends who have all sorts of cancer. She also has her own website,, which is primarily devoted to promoting The Middle Place, but also has a blog that provides updates on her family. Both are worth checking out, especially the Circus of Cancer site.

***This is my latest entry in my 100+ Book Challenge, my Support Your Local Library Challenge, and my Dewey Decimal Challenge. Click on the buttons in the sidebars for lists and reviews of past entries!***

Mrs. 'Arris Goes to Moscow, by Paul Gallico

This was the last book in the Mrs. 'Arris series, and I was a little reluctant to read it, because it did feel like I was saying goodbye to an old friend.

Mrs. 'Arris, the incurable romantic that she is, has gotten herself involved in another crazy idea. One of her clients, Mr. Lockwood, has fallen in love with a Russian tour guide named Lisabeta, but is not able to see her due to lots of bureaucratic red tape. Once she finds out about this, Mrs. 'Arris immediately launches into a fantasy: Wouldn't it be great if she could go to the USSR, find Lisabeta, and bring her back to London for a reunion?

Keep in mind, though, that Mrs. 'Arris is a charwoman, working for low hourly wages, and does not have the funds to save for a trip to Moscow. Keep in mind, too, Kittens, that this story takes place when the USSR still existed. The KGB figures prominently in the plot.

However, fate intervenes. Mrs. 'Arris entered a raffle, and won a trip for two to Moscow. She takes this as a sign that the Lockwood-Lisabeta reunion must occur. She convinces her best friend, Mrs. Butterfield, to go with her.

Through a series of mixups, two interesting things occur. First of all, Mrs. 'Arris and Mrs. Butterfield are assumed, by the KGB, to be spies. Secondly, Mrs. 'Arris is believed to be royalty, with Mrs. Butterfield as her handmaiden. These two mixups lead the duo on an interesting series of adventures in Moscow, which eventually culminate in their arrest by the KGB for reading religious propaganda in the middle of Red Square.

Mrs. 'Arris's adventures have always been a bit on the farfetched side, but Paul Gallico makes them believable. Out of the four books in the series, this is probably the most serious one. After the arrest, you wonder how Mrs. 'Arris and Mrs. Butterfield will get themselves out of this one.

This was also an interesting commentary about life in the USSR at the height of the Cold War era. As someone who never really lived through or understood that era (I was 15 when the USSR broke up), I thought it was a good insight into the deep workings of the KGB and the Kremlin.

Sadly, this was the last book in the Mrs. 'Arris series, and while it was a satisfying conclusion, I was also sad that I would not be reading any more books about this impeccable, adventurous charlady. Still, I think four books is a good limit for this series; there aren't too many sequels to dilute the spirit of the books. Besides, what other adventures could Mrs. 'Arris get herself into?

***This is the latest entry in my 100+ Book Challenge, as well as my Support Your Local Library Challenge. Click on the buttons in the sidebar for the complete lists!***

I can haz an award! Thanks Jenners and Yaya!

It's the Friends Award! Thanks Jenners!

Here's what this award is all about:

These blogs are exceedingly charming. These kind bloggers aim to find and be friends. They are not interested in self-aggrandizement. Our hope is that when the ribbons of these prizes are cut, even more friendships are propagated. Please give more attention to these writers. Deliver this award to eight bloggers who must choose eight more and include this cleverly-written text into the body of their award.

And now it's time for me to spread the love! I now award thee:

Drollgirl over at Drollgirl
Jodi over at Moody Blue
Aileigh over at Inside Aileigh's Heart
Chessa over at Ciao, Chessa!
Amber over at Mommy Mania
That.Girl over at Faded Pictures and Misprinted Lies
Janna over at Janana Bee
Kim at Sophisticated Dorkiness

Have a Terrific Tuesday, Kittens!

Monday, February 16, 2009

Italy vs. the rest of Europe

Just found this funny video link at Acts of Hope. It's a flash movie that deals with the differences between Italians and Europeans. Yes, there is a difference--or at least the video producers think so.

C'mon, click here! You need a good laugh to end your day.

Do a favor for a friend and a fellow SITSta...

Cammie is part of a blog called Girls With Books. She also has her own blog, Life in a House with No Sleep. Cammie just wrote her 100th post! Her goal, now, is to get 100 comments on her 100th post!

So will ya do a friend and a SITSta a favor and head on over here and give Cammie some comment love? Tell her Kitten sent ya!

And now...haiku time

Tiffany over at Poetry and Hums had a great haiku prompt based on this photo:

Tiffany took a 3-5-3 pattern with her poem. I'm going to stick with the 5-7-5 pattern myself:

Red tulip blossoms

In a firy red color

Spring is now in bloom.

Bookkitten Basics: More about your hostess with the mostest

I've been meaning to compose an "About Me" post for awhile now, and here it is. My regular readers know a lot about me already, through my various memes, iPod playlists, book reviews, and what not, but I thought I'd go into some detail for those who are newcomers to my little corner of the blogosphere.

First of all, by day I work a regular ol' job, just like most people. In my spare time, I have many other hobbies: cooking, scrapbooking, reading, blogging, and writing. I try to incorporate many of my hobbies into this blog, with reading being the primary focus.

I started this blog in June of 2007. That year I had read a lot of books, and I realized that I wanted to keep a journal of what I read. My sister had a blog, and I thought that a blog would be a good way to archive my material.

I had exactly five posts in 2007. I lost interest, because I couldn't think of anything clever or witty to say in my book reviews. That, and I lost confidence, because my blog wasn't getting any hits. Most importantly, however, life happened. I had a series of personal crises that didn't allow me time to blog, so "The Bookkitten" was abandoned.

I came up with the name "Bookkitten" because I felt that "The Bookworm" was too boring of a title for a blog. The "kitten" half of the name came from my two cats, Maggie and Gabby. I loved books, and I love cats, so I decided to combine the two. Hence, "bookkitten."

I resumed blogging in May of 2008. I had started therapy, had gotten most of my issues worked out, and joined a book club. I remembered in the back of my mind that I had a blog, and wondered if Blogger had deleted it, because it had been inactive for so long. Well, it was still up and running, and I started posting again.

When I resumed posting, the book reviews got shifted to the side for a while. I found that I had a lot to say, and writing proved to be very theraputic for me. I really started getting into it. I put up photos, recipes, accounts of my travels, and put up a few commentary posts as well.

About six months after I resumed blogging, I found a friend's blog, and through that blog, found a couple of other blogs that I was interested in. From there, I found the Thursday Thunks meme and started getting commenters, thanks to the Mr. Linky that was on the site. Eventually I started finding other blogs to follow, and they started following mine as well.

At the end of 2008, I started re-evaluating the purpose for this blog. Yes, I was still reading, but not as much as I would have liked. I made it a point to try and read more during the year 2009. I signed up for various reading challenges via J. Kaye's Book Blog, and that has gotten me back on my goal of reviewing the books that I have read.

However, this blog has turned out to be so much more than I expected of it. It's a lot better, actually, than what I first envisioned. I need to balance out book posts with other posts about my interests and daily life. I have a lot of trouble writing solely about books, because, as I really got into blogging, I found that I had a lot to say.

I think I have a pretty good sense of humor, and I hope that comes through in my postings. If anything, I'm as open and honest as I can be without leaving my life wide open to the world. There are still some elements of my privacy that I need to maintain, just to protect myself (I don't want strangers who never leave me comments rapping at my door) as well as my family and friends.

That having been said, my immediate family gets mentioned quite a bit in this blog. To protect their identities, they have been assigned pseudonyms: Mama Cat, Papa Cat, and Sister Kitten. You can figure out which roles they have in real life.

The only two members of my family who don't have pseudonyms are my cats, who make semi-regular appearances here.

This is Maggie, my oldest, and my Gorgeous Grey Girl. She will be seven in human years this summer.

And this is Gabby, my Most Colorful Girl. She will be six years old this summer.

Mags and Gabs most often make appearances in the semi-regular feature, Friday Cat Blogging.

That reminds me, here is a list of regular features here at The Bookkitten:

Kitten's 2009 100+ Reading Challenge: A grand list of all of the books I have read this year.

Kitten's 2009 1st in a Series Challenge: A list of the books that I've read this year that are the first in a series of books.

Kitten's 2009 2nds Challenge: A list of the books that I've read this year that are either the second in a series of books, or are the second books by authors whom I've only read once.

Kitten's 2009 Support Your Local Library Challenge: A list of the books that I've read this year that I've borrowed from my local library.

Kitten's 2009 Chunkster Challenge: A list of the books that I've read this year that are 450 pages or longer.

Kitten's 2009 Dewey Decimal Challenge: A list of the books that I've read this year whose titles fall under the Dewey Decimal System.

In addition to my book features, here are my other regular features:

Thursday Thunks, Friday Fill-Ins, Saturday 9, and Sunday Stealing: These are the memes I participate in. I always look forward to them because they're signals that the weekend is coming!

Friday Cat Blogging: Featuring stories of Maggie, Gabby, and other creatures.

Cooking With Kitten: My favorite recipes, sometimes with photos.

And now...haiku time: I love writing haiku. Lots of things inspire me to write it...I never know where I'm gonna find it.

Writers Workshop: Every Wednesday, Mama Kat over at Mama's Losin' It posts some writing prompts. We get to choose one out of five possible topics.

Unconventional Lookalikes: Ever notice how some celebrities/famous people seem to like like...well, other unusual beings? This is an up-and-coming feature here.

And a few other notes...I live in Connecticut, aka The Nutmeg State, aka The Land of Steady Habits. Our fair state figures quite often in my posting.

I guess that's about it for now...

Oh yeah, one more thing...welcome! I'm glad to have gotten to know all of you! If you're a newbie, leave a comment so I can visit your place!

Thanks for stopping by my little corner of the blogosphere! See ya real soon!