Friday, July 31, 2009
This week, I've been dealing with those feelings again. Here's what's going on:
Last weekend I went to visit my choir friends. They had just returned from their trip in central Europe. I stayed at BFF's and drove around town with him and his partner. We went to a tag sale in the morning, then we went to a choir concert that night.
Something about the car ride got me nervous. No one talked during the ride. No one. I sensed a lot of tension. I didn't say anything about it, because it was BFF's birthday weekend and I didn't want to ruin it for him.
We went out to a bar after the concert with two other people to celebrate the birthday. I was the lone holdout from the trip. All they talked about was their trip, their trip, their trip, and they basically ignored me the entire time. I really don't think it was intentional, but it still hurt.
That was just the straw that broke the camel's back. I had been having a lot of self-esteem issues prior to this.
The week before I saw a woman whom I hadn't seen in awhile. She was preggo and glowing, and talking about how her mom was going to take care of the baby so she could go back to work, and how her husband just bought her a phone, and how life was just oh-so-wonderful.
And then I saw another woman whom I hadn't seen in a longer period of time, and she was talking about how great her career was, and she just got a promotion, and her house was newly renovated, and how life was just oh-so-wonderful.
This past Sunday was the worst day. I felt like I wasn't doing anything with my life. I can't afford to go to renovate my house, let alone take a trip to Europe. I don't have a husband who takes care of everything for me, and if I ever have children, I know my mother won't take care of them during the day (she lives too far away).
Lately I just felt like I'm never pretty enough, smart enough, skinny enough, or just plain good enough to feel worthy.
I've got friends who are getting promotions at work and who are buying these huge houses and who are going on these amazing trips and are overall doing very well for themselves. Me? There are some weeks when I'm living paycheck to paycheck, still trying to get myself out of the credit card debt I foolishly accumulated in my 20s, and figuring out how to put a few dollars in the bank.
I've talked about this with my therapist. She thinks that a man is what I need. You know what she said? I should dress myself up to try and make myself look attractive. You know, wear a little something more than T-shirts and jeans when running errands. I argued that, while it would change my appearance on the outside, my inner self would remain the same.
I left her office in tears. It's time to find a new therapist.
I thought I had made a lot of progress in the past year in terms of therapy and rebooting my always-has-been-shaky self-esteem. This weekend, though, set me back quite a bit.
So, that's where I'm at right now. The edge is still there, but it's not as bad as it was on Sunday. I've been way too self-absorbed. There are people in the world who have situations that are far worse than mine.
I just need to keep things in perspective. I know I'll be all right...it's just a matter of time.
Hmmm...now what kind of crepe do I want? Sweet or savory?
Watch as Chef Jean-Pierre starts to ladle the batter onto the crepe pan...ooohhhh, yummy goodness here...
Now another chef...I'll call him Jean-Louis, spreads the batter around the pan...
I decide to go with a chocolatey crepe...can't go wrong with chocolate, kittens!
Voila! Une crepe extraordinaire...
You can't go wrong with French food...especially delicious French pastries...
...or yummy fruit tarts...
These look to beautiful to eat. I imagine they're raspberry flavored.
And of course, what French yard food would be complete sans bread?
Happy Friday, kittens! Enjoy your yard food!
Thursday, July 30, 2009
Requiem for a Paper Bag: Celebrities and Civilians Tell Stories of the Best Lost, Tossed, and Found Items from Around the World, ed. by Davy Rothbart
The title of this book is so long I had to abbreviate the word "edited" in the title of the post. If you want to read the story about how I "found" this book, click here.
This is the book that introduced me to Found magazine, which is a publication devoted to stories, both fictional and nonfictional, of items that people randomly find--on the streets, in garbage cans, in the pages of a random book, wherever. Click here to go to the official website of Found Magazine.
And in a weird coincidence, Jenners commented that she has two books called "FOUND," which she says are photos of items that people have found in different places. The back of the book lists two such anthologies, and I think these are the very same ones that Jenners owns.
Requiem for a Paper Bag is an anthology that features such contributors as Seth Rogen, Andy Samberg, Dave Eggers, Chuck D, and Damon Wayans. There are also many lesser-known authors, musicians, and celebrities adding their tales to this book. Each short story is unique and recalls different experiences, some real, others created, but all of them based on objects that the authors found.
For example, one reader of Found Magazine found a report from the Michigan Employment Security Commission, which denies a man's unemployment claim based on such incidents as "set fire to reports...wrote abscene (sic) graffiti on the paper work...pouring ammonia on dry ice in the back room which caused the dry ice to explode." (p. 152) Writer Nelly Reifler took this report and created a hilarious backstory as to what really happened at the office that led the Michigan Employment Security Commission to deny the claim.
Comedian Patton Oswalt contributes a story of how he found a wallet in Sherman Oaks, and decides to do the noble thing by contacting the wallet's owner...and how the owner put his own little spin on what happened.
Andy Samberg tells the story of how he once found $5,000 extra dollars in his bank account one day, and the back-and-forth inner dialogue as to whether or not he should notify the bank of the error.
The best stories in the anthology, however, stem from random notes that readers have found along the way. Take this note, for instance:
If you don't give me your brain right now then bring $20 to the front desk Now!!! don't include the Police.
It's always interesting to use your imagination to figure out who wrote such notes, and why they did. In the case of this note, Aimee Bender, a creative writing teacher at the University of Southern California, writes the backstory that details the circumstances behind this note. It's surreal, clever, and very funny.
Other such notes make the contributors reflect on past instances in their lives. Tom Robbins, author of Even Cowgirls Get the Blues, writes a story inspired by a marriage proposal written on a piece of paper doctors use for prescribing medicine. He recalls how he married a woman that he barely knew for one night; she proposed, he accepted, and they were very quickly wed.
I really enjoy quirky stories, and Requiem for a Paper Bag is full of them. I never thought much about the backstories behind random items I find on the street, but this book has got me thinking about what the stories are behind these objects. This sounds like a good prompt for a future Writers Workshop: "Write about an item you found randomly." I think I'll post about that sometime...but I have to find the right random object first.
This is the latest entry in my 2009 100+ Reading Challenge, my 2009 Read Your Own Books Challenge, as well as my 2009 Take a Chance Challenge. As always, click the buttons in the sidebar on the right for archived lists of all of my reads!
Wednesday, July 29, 2009
Random Word. Go to this random word generator and generate a random word. Find a book with this word in the title. Read the book and write about it.
So I went to the random word generator and came up with the following word:
Here are some of the gems that I came up with in my search:
- Lawn Tennis Tournaments: The True Method of Assigning Prizes with the Proof of the Fallacy of the Present Method, by Lewis Carroll, 1883, out of print
- Assigning Liability for Superfund Cleanups: An Analysis of Policy Options (Resources for the Future), by Professor Katherine N. Probst
- An Account Of The Remedy For The Stone: Lately Published In England, According To An Act Of Parliament, Assigning A Reward Of 5000 Pounds To The Discoverer (1741), by Richard Gem
- Assigning a Value to Transboundary Radiation Exposure: Safety Guides, no author given
- Extracts from the Projected Penal Code: Containing the Fourth Section of the Thirteenth Chapter, Third Book, Entitled "Of offenses which affect written...and assigning the reasons for adopting them," by Edward Livingston, 1823, out of print
Soooo...back to the Random Word Generator I went, and it gave me this word:
And here's what I came up with: 176,340 results. Among them:
- War Crimes Against Southern Civilians, by Walter Brian Cisco
- The Right of Precedence: Between Physicians and Civilians, Inquired Into (1720), by Jonathan Swift
- Requiem for a Paper Bag: Celebrities and Civilians Tell Stories of the Best Lost, Tossed, and Found Items from Around the World (A FOUND Anthology), edited by Davy Rothbart, creator of Found Magazine
From School Library Journal
With two national best sellers (Found and Found II), a magazine of the same name and accompanying web site, and a road show across America already in place, Rothbart adds this collection of 67 pieces submitted by writers, musicians, and friends. Rothbart invited contributors—including such well-known figures as comedian Andy Samberg, musician Andrew Bird, and writers Tom Robbins, Susan Orlean, Dave Eggers, and Paulo Coelho—to share their finds or to include a short piece of fiction based on a find. Bich Minh Nguyen (Stealing Buddha's Dinner) found a photograph of her mother, whom she'd never met; Samberg found a ten-dollar bill with an obscenity written on it; Orlean found the idea for a book about orchids. Various selections are fascinating, disturbing, funny, poetic, graphic, personal, illuminating, and combinations of these. Clearly, Rothbart's idea has found a following, and his book is a keeper.—Anthony Pucci, Notre Dame H.S., Elmira, NY
Well, talk about taking a chance! I decided to buy a used copy. I like quirky anthologies, and this one contained pieces by Dave Eggers and Andy Samberg, which, for me, is worth the price of the book alone. That, and the cover art looked awesome, but I'm not using this book for the "judge a book by its cover" portion of the challenge.
The book arrived in my mailbox within two days of ordering it. And I read it, and...
You'll have to read my review tomorrow!!! Hee hee! You think I'm going to post both a behind the scenes story and a review in one night? You're greatly mistaken! And I'm feeling rawther deliciously evil tonight!
Seriously, the review is forthcoming...stay tuned, mes cheries...
Tuesday, July 28, 2009
Monday, July 27, 2009
Well, maybe I'm not so sure...just look at the questions.
1. If you could put thyme in a bottle, what is the first thing that you'd like to do?
Are we talking fresh or dried thyme here? 'Cause if you're talking fresh thyme I could throw in a few rosemary sprigs and make a nice infused vinegar out of it. If it were dried I'd use it as a part of a rub for a nice roast chicken or pork loin. Or I could use it in chicken soup.
2. Do eggs really crack or do they merely have a nervous breakdown?
Eggs have a nervous breakdown. Seriously, how would you feel if your fate is emulsion into a baked dish? Or if you were scrambled with sausage, peppers, and onions? Or whipped into a fury for a meringue? Or worse...hard boiled and dyed for Easter?!?!?!
3. Why are you whipping the butter? What did it ever do to you?
Butter was my first love, you see. But he betrayed me. He left me with cholesterol in my heart and grease on my fingers. I'm still bitter.
4. Do your spoons spoon in the drawer? Have you ever noticed? And more importantly, if wooden spoons spoon do they get splinters?
I've never caught them in the act. Maybe I should put a little camera in there so I can catch some of the action, then sell the tape on eBay.
As for wooden spoons, I'm sure they'd get splinters, but aren't they used to it? After all, they're made of wood anyway!
5. You hear: "Dumpling, my Dumpling, come hither." The candles are lit, the fondue is dipping, the Godiva is pouring, the scallions are steaming and the music is playing.....but wait, the windows are open. Why did you close them?
I'd be afraid of the neighbors eavesdropping. Besides, it's raining.
6. Do you need a recipe to cook or are you a bohemian chef? Show us your reckless and wild side in the kitchen. Don't have one? Here's a recipe I made just for you: You will need a spatula, a whisk, a gallon of Chardonnay, a banana and a rump roast. What is the name of your dish?
OK, first, pour yourself a glass of Chardonnay. You're gonna channel your inner Graham Kerr as you cook. Now peel your banana, slice it, put it in a bowl. Pour some Chardonnay in it, but not too much. Whisk it up till you have a nice sauce. Now pour it into a pot and let it boil until you have a nice glaze.
Now pour yourself another glass of Chardonnay, since you finished the first one.
Take your rump roast. Pour the glaze over it. Use the spatula to spread the glaze over the rump roast, since Mimi is being mean and is not giving me a pastry brush for the glazing, which is what I prefer and far easier than using a metal spatula. At this point, pour some more Chardonnay for yourself, 'cause you're frustrated that you can't spread a proper glaze over a proper rump roast properly.
Now that you've glazed your rump, put it in the oven at 400 degrees. Let 'er go for about 45 minutes, or until the juices run clear.
As you wait for a potential culinary disaster, help yourself to more Chardonnay. Don't bother pouring yourself a glass; you've earned the right to take a swig from the bottle. Or two swigs. Hell, just chug the damn thing down.
Take your rump out of the oven and serve. Have someone else carve it, since you're swimming in Chardonnay at this point. Hopefully it'll turn out well, or your rump will be roasted.
7. After dinner, the dishes are so dirty that the dishwasher refuses to wash them.
What did they say to get in hot water?
They muttered words that would get me on Blogger's content warning list. I won't write those down, dear kittens, for this is a fate that I would prefer to avoid.
8. Is your pot black?
Pa has called the kettle black before, but not the pot.
9. What is the sexiest spice or condiment in your cabinet? What makes it so?
Nutmeg. It's my secret ingredient in many recipes, especially white sauces, baked goods, and rubs.
10. How much crock is really in your crock pot?
I don't own a crock pot. Maybe I should get one. Then again, my life is full of enough crock as it is...
Welcome to another edition of the Monday Reads, hosted by the lovely J.Kaye. Here's what I'm reading this week:
- The Time Traveler's Wife. I first heard about this book from the lovely Jenners. I'll link her review once I have posted mine. I read her take on it well before I learned about the movie being released on August 14th. Now, you must understand, in order to get me into a movie theater, the movie has to be something special. Judging by the trailer, it is. And judging by the first chapters I've read, it's a special, special book. I hope the movie lives up to expectations.
- Requiem for a Paper Bag: Celebrities and Civilians Tell Stories of the Best Lost, Tossed and Found Items from Around the World: A rawther long title for a book of short stories. I find it delightfully quirky--and y'all know how much I lurve quirk. I'm reading this for my Take a Chance Challenge. There is a story behind this selection. I will let you know once I post my review.
- New Moon: I'm about 50 pages in, and I'm having trouble getting into this one. Is it me, or is Bella especially whiny in this one? I'm gonna keep plowing at this one, for I finished Twilight and will be very disappointed in myself if I don't finish the series.
- The Big House: A Century in the Life of an American Summer Home: This is a memoir of a summer house in Cape Cod that has been in the author's family for decades. I haven't started it yet, but it's my next book for my Summer Vacation Challenge. This challenge allows for only one book that can't cross into other challenges; this is that one book. It will be my asterisk book--kinda like how they keep an asterisk by Roger Maris's name in the record books.
Sunday, July 26, 2009
Meghan Fitzmaurice is the successful host of Rise and Shine, the most popular show on daytime television. She is one of those stereotypical women-who-has-it-all: successful career, spacious New York apartment, rich, successful husband, son in an Ivy League school.
By contrast, Meghan's younger sister, Bridget, works in a battered-woman's shelter as a social worker. She, too, has a successful career, and is dating a man that she loves, but can't escape the feeling that she's living in Meghan's shadow.
Meghan's seemingly perfect world crumbles one day as she, on live TV, mutters a profanity, which is then broadcast uncensored. She doesn't realize that the mike is on.
And so begins the downfall of the host of Rise and Shine. Prior to this incident, her husband, Evan, announces that he is leaving her, but doesn't give a specific reason. He moves out of the apartment that he shares with Meghan, and eventually, Meghan moves out herself, and runs away to Jamaica for an extended vacation. Evan goes to Tokyo. Their son, Leo, is in Spain and has no idea what's going on--even though his mother is on the cover of every tabloid known to man.
Meanwhile, Bridget remains in New York, trying to clean up the mess and figuring out how to tell her nephew all that has happened. She becomes the messenger gal for Meghan, Evan, Leo, and network executives. Talk about being caught in the middle. Meanwhile, she's trying to juggle her own set of issues, starting with her boyfriend, Irving, a cop twenty-three years her senior, as well as the lives of her clients at the shelter.
Sometimes I get comments from readers about the "Currently Reading" buttons in the sidebar. These comments range from, "I'm so excited that you're reading this!" to "I hated that book!" Rise and Shine falls in the latter range of this spectrum. It is not particularly memorable, nor is it particularly well-written. I'm really glad that I borrowed this book from the library; if I had bought it I would have asked for my money back.
This is the latest entry in my 2009 100+ Reading Challenge, my 2009 Support Your Local Library Challenge, as well as my 2009 A to Z Challenge. As always, click on the buttons in the sidebar for all of the archived lists!
Lisa See, the author, put in an extensive amount of research and care into this work. It is not just a work about the relationship between two young 19th century Chinese girls, but a fascinating look into Chinese culture of that era. It was absolutely fascinating to learn about such things as the treatment of women in society, how marriages were arranged, and the importance and symbolism of footbinding.
Wikipedia has an excellent page on footbinding, which you can read by clicking here. NPR also broadcast an excellent report on the eldest survivors of footbinding, which you can find by clicking here. I need to warn you, though, some of the descriptions of footbinding are graphic, and not necessarily for the faint of heart. Google Images has some photos of bound feet, but I have chosen not to put them on here out of respect for those who may be uncomfortable looking at such pictures.
That having been said, the novel opens with the main character, Lily, describe her preparations for her feet to be bound. A diviner and a matchmaker arrive at her house to meet her and start to arrange for her marriage prospects. Lily is seven years old.
The matchmaker, Madame Wang, determines that Lily is an excellent candidate for a laotong relationship. A laotong relationship exists between two girls from different villages and lasts their entire lives. This is not the same as a sworn sisterhood in Chinese culture, which are made up of several girls and last until one of the sisters marries. According to this article, "These relationships were based not only on proximity, but also upon auspicious astrology, numerology and even matching the size and shape of the young “sisters” feet. They would go to festivals together, and were often closer to one another than to their blood-related sisters."
Lily is matched with a young woman named Snow Flower, who sends her first letter on a silk fan. The letter is written in a secret language called nu shu, which Chinese women created so that men, who were the ones who were taught how to read and write traditional characters, would not be able to decipher it. Snow Flower eventually meets Lily at her home, and visits frequently over the years. The two girls grow into womanhood, and learn how to embroider, cook, and write together.
Snow Flower lives in a village called Tongkou. This is where Lily will live once she is married; Snow Flower has been arranged to marry a man in a different village, and the two women will not live in the same village together. Although Snow Flower has visited Lily's home many times, Lily has not visited Snow Flower's. Madame Wang, the matchmaker, says that the reason for this is that it would not be wise for Lily to see her future husband before her wedding day, even though she won't meet him until then.
However, one day Lily decides to pay a visit to Snow Flower's home. I won't reveal all of the details of this visit, but Lily discovers that Snow Flower has not been truthful about her background. This instills in Lily a sense of mistrust in her laotong. How will she know if Snow Flower is truthful in the future?
Snow Flower begs Lily for her forgiveness, and the two women marry and start families. As Lily bears her children and serves her husband and in-laws, Snow Flower struggles in hers. The two women remain faithful to each other, sending messages on handkerchiefs as well as on their special fan, but their destinies are turning out to be much different than they ever expected. Lily's sense of mistrust deepens, but Snow Flower can't understand what has happened to create the tension existing in their relationship.
Snow Flower and the Secret Fan is a compelling story about the relationship between two women who promised to be lifelong friends and sisters, and what happens when misunderstandings occur. This is a book that every woman can relate to; I'm sure every woman has had relationships with female friends that have had their share of conflict and misunderstanding. Sometimes conflict with our friends is so much more painful than what we may experience with family members.
For me, Snow Flower and the Secret Fan was just as much a tome about Chinese culture as it was about the unique relationship between Lily and Snow Flower. I learned a lot of history, but it was the lessons of the heart that the two women learned that will stay with me.
This is the latest entry in my 2009 100+ Reading Challenge, my 2009 Read Your Own Books Challenge, as well as my 2009 Summer Vacation Challenge. As always, click the buttons in the sidebar to read all of the archived lists!
First is a hilarious parody of the ShamWow commercial. A friend of mine showed me this and I had to share it with y'all:
The next one is dedicated to my friend Drollgirl. Conan and Colbert. In one magical clip. Ahhhhh....
Friday, July 24, 2009
When I learned this news, I did the Bookkitten Cry of Joy--all together now--"SQUEEEEEEEEE!!!"
Anyhoo, I just wanted to share the news with y'all and thank J.Kaye for featuring me today! You made me feel so special! :)
Thursday, July 23, 2009
I took a picture of myself in the mirror, and it didn't come out too well. Hated it. Was going to upload it, but decided against it.
So, I did what any good Bookkitten would do: I combed through the archives of my photo album and decided to think abstractly. In the process I found what I feel is one of the best photos I've ever taken:
New York is not my hometown. However, I live close enough to the Big Apple that I'm able to visit a few times a year. Last year I went into the city for a Bastille Day celebration. Afterwards I took a walk on the Brooklyn Bridge and took some shots. I used my zoom lens for this one, and cropped it when I got home.
This photo was taken at a time in my life when I was recovering from my last major episode of depression. Every time I look at this photo I think of several things, among them, how far my life had come since I began to rebuild my life. I know it sounds dramatic, but I was at a really, really low point.
For me, Lady Liberty is a reflection of every emotion I was experiencing at that time. Fear, but hope. Sorrow, but happiness. Insecure, yet confident.
Maybe I'm stretching things a bit for this assignment, but what can I say? I absolutely love this picture.
Until next week, Shoot-Out gang...
Wednesday, July 22, 2009
1.) They just don't make (fill in the blank) like they used to!
Well, we can say a lot of things about this prompt here, kittens. There are a lot of things that they don't make like they used to. A LOT. But rawther than me post a tres long, boring, complicated, non-sensical RANT, I shall choose one area of pop culture that has particularly vexed me, especially over the last four or five years.
Let's face it, kittens, they don't make television like they used to.
I was raised in the 1980s, but I lived on reruns of classic 1960s and 1970s sitcoms. I used to really enjoy staying home from school to watch The Brady Bunch and I Dream of Jeannie. Oh, how I wanted to be Jeannie! With the blink of an eye I could solve any problem. I also thought it would be kinda neat to live in a bottle and turn to smoke whenever I had to go inside, but that's another story.
Anyhoo, that's what I'd watch during the day. The after-school hours were filled with I Love Lucy (not from the 1960s or 70s, I know), Mary Tyler Moore, and, of course, Carol Burnett and Friends. With the exception of Lucy's pratfalls and Carol's costumes, most of the humor was well above my eight- or nine-year-old head, but I really enjoyed the actors' personalities.
Nighttime was the best. No, I did not stay up late enough to watch Johnny Carson or David Letterman, but nighttime was when The Muppet Show came on. Oh, how I adored the Muppets. That would be the last show Sister Kitten and I would watch before bed.
The best thing about these shows was, as I got older, there was a whole new level of humor I picked up on, which made me appreciate them much more. I didn't realize that these shows were written for adults, but when I saw the adult aspects of the comedy, I liked them better.
I just wish you could say the same things about American television these days. So many shows are so slickly packaged, manufactured, and just plain cliched. This especially applies to the tv that the kids are watching these days. I'm talking about shows like Hannah Montana, Wizards of Waverly Place, and--oh dear God, I think I just vomited in my mouth--JONAS. The writing in these shows is crap, none of the plot lines are realistic, and the kids just dress too damn perfectly. Kids no longer watch reruns of shows that their parents held near and dear to their hearts. Let's face it--they stay home from school and they have to choose among Springer, Steve Wilkos, and other sorts of programs that seem to bring out the worst in human beings.
You mention shows like The Brady Bunch and The Facts of Life to kids these days, and they're like, "I've never heard of that show!" Or, they have seen some of the episodes that their parents have on DVD and they say proclaim that the show is lame.
Not to mention, when these kids get to be my age, they're all gonna watch these shows and think, "I watched this crap?!?" The humor stays with their age group; there's not much there for the adults to like.
And Lord knows what kind of crap their kids may watch!
I'm not saying that all American television is bad; it's not. There are shows like and The Daily Show and The Colbert Report that have brilliantly sharp writers. I also like shows that push the envelope when it comes to quirky comedy, shows like The Simpsons and Family Guy. I really like shows that take a risk when it comes to that sort of thing, and there aren't many shows that do that any more. And some of the shows that do do that aren't always given a fair chance to succeed.
I am a snob about television writing, and when it works, it works brilliantly well. I'm so happy that 30 Rock is a hit. I love Tina Fey's ideas, and I have a bit of a TV crush on Jack McBreyer (or is it on his character, Kenneth the Page?) Anyhoo, I just hope that future writers of American television can step up their game a notch, or else there won't be much of a future in American TV.
Then these writers would have to write books.
Which, actually, may not be such a bad thing...hmmm...
I leave you now with some pearls of wisdom from Brian and Stewie Griffin, from the opening of the 2007 Emmy awards. They've pretty much summarized, in one musical number, everything I've articulated here.
Tuesday, July 21, 2009
WHO: Anyone who blogs about books is invited to participate. In fact, we want everyone who blogs about books and reading to be a part of this week!
WHAT: A week where we come together, celebrate the contribution and hard work of book bloggers in promoting a culture of literacy, connecting readers to books and authors, and recogonizing the best among us with the Second Annual BBAW Awards. There will be special guest posts, daily blogging themes, and giveaways.
WHEN: September 14-18, 2009
WHERE: Here at the new Book Blogger Appreciation Week Blog! (Please note that this year there are three separate blogs and feeds—one for the main event, one for giveaways, and one for awards.)
WHY: Because books matter. In a world full of options, the people talking about books pour hard work, time, energy, and money into creating a community around the written word. I, Amy, the founder of Book Blogger Appreciation Week love this community of bloggers and want to shower my appreciation on you!
If you want more information, click here. You can also use this link to nominate your favorite book blogs! Nominations are open till August 15, 2009.
Monday, July 20, 2009
1. You are a guest on the space shuttle. You just arrived on the moon and realize you forgot something back home that you can't live without. What is it and how do you convince them to go back and fetch it?
Ya want me to be honest here? My iPod, folks. Seriously. It only leaves my purse when I'm listening to it in the gym or at home as I'm doing chores. And how do I convince them to go back? Easy. I'll threaten to drive the shuttle for the rest of the trip. As I said last week, I have a lead paw. I'm also the worst driver in my inner circle--ask anyone. They've got stories.
2. Pretend you are a teacher in a rough public school for one day. You have been assigned to teach Manners 101. You have the "challenging bad butt kids" class (remember this is a pretend school and anyway I can't say ass on my blog 'cause it's so unQueenly and I might get fined or something). They are jumping up and down, cursing, and throwing things at you. What is the first thing you would write on the board?
I'd write my name on the board, followed by, "No one leaves this room until they are absolutely silent--even if it's till 5 PM." Then I'd sit back at my desk, calmly, and wait for them to be quiet. The key here is non-reaction; these kids see you react once, even in the littlest bit, and they're all over you. Yes, I know it's easier said than done, but silence is more effective than screaming at their level.
3. Someone in your family or a friend has started a blog. They think it is anonymous but you have figured it out. They are saying derogatory things about you. Do you tell them or do you read it for awhile? How would you handle it?
I'd read for a while until I was absolutely sure it was a friend or family member, gather enough evidence. Then I'd wait to calm myself down and contact them, and tell them, honestly, how I felt. But I need to be sure I have enough clues to make sure my case is rock solid.
If it was someone I was really close to, I'd be really, really wounded. If it was someone who was more of an acquaintance than anything else, I'd still be hurt, but maybe not as much. Maybe. You all know I tend to take things way too personally.
4. If you had one dollar left in your pocket, what would you spend it on?
Seriously, what does a dollar get you these days? It doesn't get you a gallon of gas or a small coffee--anywhere. Even 99 cent coffee is more than a dollar when you include tax. Up in my parts, a dollar and a nickel could get you that small coffee. So I'd scavenge my couch cushions and car seats for the elusive nickel, and treat myself to a Dunkin' Donuts French Vanilla.
5. President Obama and the First Lady are coming over for dinner. What do you serve?
Are they just dropping in or is this a planned visit? If they were just dropping in, they'd have to have whatever's in my fridge. If it's a planned affair, they'd get pork chops, homemade mac n' cheese, and homemade applesauce. As you know, that's my favorite meal, and if it's good enough for me, it's good enough for Barack and Michelle Obama.
6. You walk in on your lover. They are trying on your clothes. What do you do?
I'd choose an outfit that I thought looked good on him. I'd go along with it. However, if he wore my clothes outside, I'd find a new guy.
7. Every astronaut must have shots! Choose your vaccination: You only get one and you can't enjoy any of the attributes of the other choices. You choose either: (1) The fountain of eternal youth and sexual vigor but only for 10 years (2) perfect health for a lifetime (3) eternal mind-numbing nirvana and peace of mind (4) unlimited hedonism for one year with no negative consequences.
Perfect health for a lifetime. What happens when that ten-year period of eternal youth expires? Do I automatically age ten years? Secondly, I don't want my mind to be totally numbed. You have to accept both the good and bad emotions in life in order to be completely human. Too much of a good thing is never a good thing. I know some of you will disagree with me on that, but as I've said before, I am highly suspicious of people who seem to lead absolutely perfect lives, people who have what I call "the Pollyanna Complex." I'll write a post on that in the near future.
Go to the library. Position yourself in a section such as Fiction, Non-Fiction, Mystery, Children (whatever section you want). Then write down random directions for yourself (for example, third row, second shelf, fifth book from right). Follow your directions and see what book you find. Check that book out of the library, read it and then write about it. (If you prefer, you can do the same at a bookstore and buy the book!)
So I went to the library and wrote some directions for myself. I hope I remember what they were, but here goes:
"Fiction section, middle row, fourth shelf down, tenth book in."
Found myself in the Gs. I picked one book, but saw another one with a title that looked intriguing, so I thought, "What the hell? I'll read this one instead."
Kittens, I still feel that this was a random book selection! I didn't specifically search for this title!
So I borrowed this from la bibliotheque.
I took it home, and finished it in one setting.
This book spans about thirty years. It starts off in England, in 1952, with the death of King George VI. Peggy Dewey's husband, Vern is stationed at the Air Force base in Norfolk, and is raising their young daughter, Crystal. She has made friends with a few other Air Force wives:
- Betty Gillis, a mother of two young daughters, who has become the model of the perfect housewife, decorating her little abode and constantly making dinners and dresses. She and Peggy are old high school friends. They really weren't friends in high school, though, since they had different interests at the time: Peggy was captain of the softball team, and Betty was an active member of the Future Homemakers of America.
- Lois Moon is married to Herb, has a daughter named Sandie, and is not a very good housekeeper. She is known for her salty language and partying ways. She is known for her red hair and is always looking to socialize and have a good time. Lois is the comic relief of the group; at one point, one of the wives refers to her as the "Lois Moon Experience."
- Audrey Redman is married to Lance, who is advancing very quickly in the Air Force. He eventually becomes Captain Redman. Audrey then becomes the model of the perfect military wife, becoming active in the Wives' Club and organizing many events for the families.
- Gayle Jackson is the youngest in the group. She has recently married Okey, who is on her first assignment. She is obsessed with having a baby, but has also been hiding a drinking problem.
The whole book does not exclusively take place in England, or in the military. Throughout the years, the families receive new assignments and are stationed elsewhere. Some end up leaving the armed forces. There are a few births, deaths, career changes, marriages, and divorces. But what remains at the novel's core is the enduring friendship among these six women. Peggy is the central character; she narrates the story.
Throughout this book, the word "homemaker" keeps coming up. Each of the six women have different conceptions of what it means to actually be a homemaker. For Betty, it's staying home, raising her girls, and cooking and decorating. For Audrey, it's becoming an active military wife and assisting fellow Air Force spouses. For Lois and Peggy, it's trying to find a career--and an identity--separate from being an Air Force wife.
All six of the women portrayed in the novel face very different struggles as the years progress. Betty's home life is not as perfect as she lets the world see. Lois is determined to carve a life and career for herself. Gayle becomes a widow, and has difficulty setting up a life for herself as a single woman. Kath becomes a successful businesswoman, but almost ends up losing everything.
For a random book selection, this was excellent! I really enjoyed reading it! The chapters are all very brief, and Laurie Graham keeps the plot moving at a quick pace. You feel as if you're the seventh girlfriend in this little group of friends. She writes as if she's having a conversation with you.
This was an excellent book for reading on the beach, or on any lazy Sunday afternoon, especially when you've got a huge pitcher of iced tea--that's my experience with it!
In addition to this being the latest addition in my Take a Chance Challenge, this is also the latest edition in my 2009 100+ Reading Challenge and my 2009 Support Your Local Library Challenge. As always, click on the buttons in the right sidebar for all of the archived lists of my challenges!
Sunday, July 19, 2009
1. Who was the last person of the opposite sex you lay in a bed with?
I'm with Mimi here--this is a highly personal question here, Judd!
2. Where was the last place you went out to eat?
The Cat Family homestead. We had a picnic yesterday with some friends.
3. What was the last alcoholic beverage you consumed?
Beer from a mini Heineken keg.
4. Which do you prefer - eyes or lips?
Eyes may be the windows of the soul, but as the old song says, "If ya wanna know if he loves you so, it's in his kiss."
5. Medicine, fine arts, or law?
Fine arts, s'il vous plait. With medicine and law you get into these really complicated terms that no layman will ever, ever understand.
6. Best kind of pizza?
One with a tres thin crust, tomato sauce, pesto, mozz, and dollops of fresh ricotta cheese.
7. What is in store for your future?
Sorry, the last time I wanted to find out the fortune teller looked through her crystal ball, shrieked in fright, and ran out of the room as fast as she could.
8. Who was the last band you saw live?
Barenaked Ladies, with Vertical Horizon as the opening act. Amazing concert!
9. Do you take care of your friends while they are sick?
I do. I bring 'em food, talk to them on the phone, and am just there for them.
10. How many songs are on your iPod?
1,729 and counting.
11. Where is the last place you drove to?
My home, on the way back from Barnes and Noble.
12. Where did your last kiss take place?
Last night, kissing friends goodbye at the Cat Family homestead.
13. What were you doing at 11:59 PM on Monday night?
Watching The Tonight Show.
14. Are you a quitter?
No! I'm one who sees things through. There are times when I want to quit, but whatever doesn't kill me can only make me stronger, no?
15. Who was the last person you had in your house?
Mama Cat. She needed to use the bathroom and critiqued my housekeeping methods--AGAIN.
16. What do you think about people who party a lot?
It depends on what is done at said parties. I go to a lot of parties, but I don't engage in any abusive behavior. All I can say is, people must live with the consequences of their choices, whatever they are. If they're harmful, obviously the consequences are more dire.
17. Does talking about sex make you uncomfortable?
Only when I have to talk about it in front of the whole damn blogosphere.
18. What was the last CD you purchased?
Brad Paisley's American Saturday Night. I love his songs. He writes some very cheeky ones, but very meaningful ones as well. I'll have to post some examples...
19. What are two bands or singers that you will always love?
Just two?!?! Well, most of you know the obvious choice here: SPRINGSTEEN. I also love Bon Jovi. Maybe I'm in a Jersey state of mind here...
20. Which of the seven deadly sins are you guilty of?
Isn't everyone guilty of all seven at some point?
21. How is your last ex doing?
He's my ex for a reason.
For some reason it re-entered my head recently, and I can't get it out, so I'm doing a public service and passing it on to you.
Ladies and gentlekittens, sit back, relax, and enjoy the musical stylings of The Offspring and their hit song, "Pretty Fly (for a White Guy)."
Saturday, July 18, 2009
So far, sounds like a romantic comedy. A pair of star-crossed lovers, fated to be together, but they aren't. Will they ever have a second chance at love?
I know, I know, we've all heard of this same old story in many different variations. But Beginner's Greek takes the classic boy meets girl story and adds several layers of sophistication.
For example, Collins likes to focus not only on his protagonists, Peter and Holly, but his secondary characters, particularly their love stories. At the beginning of the novel, he writes about Peter's boss, Arthur, who was completely distraught after his wife died of cancer at a young age, and vowed never to marry again. He writes about Peter's stepmother in law, and how her parents' divorce and subsequent re-marriages affected her view on love.
All of the descriptions of the secondary characters' experiences may seem trivial at first, but they play an important part of the novel as it progresses. And that's what makes Beginner's Greek so intriguing. How do the parts of this puzzle fit together? Why is Collins telling us all of these stories? Do they affect the core essence of the story, which is about Peter and Holly falling in love?
There are so many themes in this book, but the primary ones deal with love. What is love? Is there such a thing as love at first sight? Can people get second chances at love?
I really enjoyed this book. Collins kept me in suspense as I read it; I really wanted to find out if Peter and Holly were really going to get together, and I kept reading as fast as I could to find out what roadblocks would be thrown at them. The subplots helped out too; the whole time I kept thinking, "Why is he writing about this?" As the novel progresses, it's neat to see how everything weaves together.
If you're looking for a twist on the traditional boy-meets-girl story, you won't be disappointed in Beginner's Greek. Be prepared, though, to sit for a while as you read each chapter, as they're 30 pages long on average. But trust me, it's all worth it.
This is the latest entry in my 2009 100+ Reading Challenge, as well as my 2009 Read Your Own Books Challenge. As always, click on the buttons in the sidebars for all of the archived lists!
Friday, July 17, 2009
Anyhoo, this week, Ann has asked us this question:
"What is one of the strangest dreams you've ever had?"
This is an interesting question, kittens. As some of you know, I've had some really weird dreams. But the weirdest dreams I've ever had have been a result of illness, medicinal side effects, or both. I'm about to describe this one really weird dream I had in 1996, when I was studying in Paris during the first semester of my junior year of college:
About two weeks into my stay I came down with a cold. I really didn't want to go to a doctor, but everyone around me insisted that I buy some medicine. My host family sent me to a pharmacy across the street from their apartment to get some meds.
Now in France, when you go to the pharmacy, you don't just grab whatever medicine you need off the shelf. You have to talk directly to the pharmacist. You explain your symptoms, and they ask more questions. They talk to you for a couple of minutes, and then they go into this back room where they keep all of the medications. They search for a medication that works best to alleviate your symptoms and bring it back for you.
So I got my little box of "Rhinofebral, a la vitamine C" and went back to my apartment. I took two capsules, as was recommended on the box, and soon found myself in a wonderful, blissfully deeeeeep sleeeeeep.
That's when I had the dream.
It was a rawther weird dream...Carol Burnett was in it, as well as Kermit the Frog. I know that Carol guested in an episode of The Muppet Show, but it was quite a long time since I saw it, so I don't know why these two popped up all of a sudden--in Paris, of all places. Anyhoo, I don't remember much of the dream itself, other than Carol and Kermit were dancing and singing, and there were a lot of swirly, trippy psychedelic patterns, shapes, and colors throughout.
I remember waking up, after about three hours, and feeling two things: One, I had never felt so well-rested before. Two, "what the hell was in that medicine, and why don't they sell it in the States?"
By the way, when I woke up, my cold was gone.
I still wish they sold Rhinofebral in the States.
Even if it does provoke some rawther weird dreams.
Yes, this cat is a yard object in the sense that he's almost always outside, especially on his favorite chair:
My friend has these little lanterns all over her garden:
I love this little table and chairs. There's a little slide in the background. It belongs to my friend's nephew:
The pool: classic yard object.
You can barely see it, but there's a little dog peeking out of the bush:
We finish with one of the many kitties lining my friend's garden:
Next week's theme is "reflections." I've been thinking a lot about that one. See you then!
Thursday, July 16, 2009
1. Do you know anyone with heterochromia? Does it freak you out or do you think it's interesting?
My BFF has one green eye and one hazel eye. Gabby, my younger cat, has one green eye and one gold eye. I think it's cool, and just adds to their mystique.
2. Should a 5th face be added to Mount Rushmore? If so, who?
Yes...mine. Can you picture my cute little grey face smiling next to Abe Lincoln's? (And I can't do a Photoshop illustration of it, sorry guys. If anyone out there wishes to do so, E-mail me your work at email@example.com).
3. If you could live on any planet other than Earth, which one would you choose and why?
Jupiter! Right smack dab in the middle o' the Big Red Spot. I have always wanted to see what the Big Red Spot would be like.
4. We're going to spend the night at a reportedly haunted location, are you going with us?
If so, which reportedly haunted place are we going?
Ahhhhh, noooooooo. I don't do haunted that well. I'm a pretty easy person to scare.
5. Did you play The Queen's Meme this week? If so, was it fair of The Queen to put Berleen in the dungeon by association with Kimber? (We all know Kimber deserved it, but Berleen?!)
I did play The Queen's Meme this week, and you can find my answers here. As for the answer to your second question, I don't believe in guilt by association.
6. What color is the towel(s) hanging in your bathroom?
I have striped pastel towels hanging up right now--white, pink, blue--ah, hell, here's a pic for y'all:
7. Tell us something funny that happened to you recently.
Click here for my lesson on how NOT to clean your keyboard.
8. We just bought you a cow. Do you kill it & grill it, feed it & milk it, or sell it?
I will hug it and squeeze it and call him George and make him mine forever!
9. It's 115 degrees outside (46 degrees Celsius), are you able to go without Air Conditioning?
Ahhhh, nooooooo. I'm asthmatic. When it's that hot usually there are pollutants in the air, which make it hard for me to breathe. So I just stay inside and chill by the A/C. HA! I made a punny!
10. When you visit the zoo do you wonder which animal tastes better with a bit of butter & spices?
OK, first we had a question about the welfare of a cow, now you're asking me another question about animal killing? Is it rabbit season or duck season where y'all live?
11. Dog ate your homework/work papers. Does it crap out Shakespeare, quantum physics, or just crap?
I don't think I've ever seen a dog crap out Hamlet's soliloquy or Einstein's theory of relativity. Seriously, the dog craps out some pretty shitty papers. HA! I made another punny! I'm on a roll this week, kids!
12. We are taking you to a Broadway show, what are we going to see?
Oooohhhh, you're taking me to a Broadway show?!?! I wanna go see A Steady Rain, a play starring Daniel Craig and Hugh Jackman. James Bond and Wolverine sharing a stage. Ahhhh...
13. Gunshots in your neighborhood. Pop, pop, pop. Do you go out to take a look, or hide?
If there was an opportunity for me to help the victim, I would. But I wouldn't randomly go take a look for the heck of it. I'd call the police.
Wednesday, July 15, 2009
This week our prompt is sponsored by the good folks at General Electric!
Why GE, you ask? Well, here's this week's prompt:
4.) Which appliance in your home would you most miss living without if you had to live without?
Do I have to limit myself to just one appliance? I'm not gonna go crazy and name every single one I own, because there are some that, in my eyes, are much more important and valuable than others.
We're gonna do this countdown style:
4. My garbage disposal
This stems from when I was a kid. We didn't have a garbage disposal, and one of our chores each night, after we did the dishes, was to empty the little drainer in the sink. It would catch all of the little leftover particles of food left over from the dishpan. Whoever did the dishes had to dump the drainer onto a paper towel, fold it up, and throw it away.
I got stuck doing this task most nights, even on nights when I didn't do the dishes. Sister Kitten referred to the remnants as "toxic waste." Or "radioactive waste." Or "nuclear waste." Y'all get the idea. I don't know why she hated it so much. Even as a 30-year-old adult, she loathes this task.
The garbage disposal enables me to get rid of all of the toxic waste that Sister Kitten loathed. I use it to rid myself of egg shells, potato peels, apple cores, and other such items. I know I can use this for compost, but I live in a condo and don't have room for a composter. Plus, ridding the waste this way prevents odors from coming out of my garbage can. If this happens it stinks up the whole condo. Not a pleasant thing.
And yes, I know they're bad for the environment, and they strain septic systems, but I can't help it! I love my garbage disposal!
3. My KitchenAid mixer
I had been coveting a KitchenAid for years, but couldn't justify paying $300+ for one. I just couldn't afford it. And then, lo! One day I was on Craigslist and saw one advertised for $50. I thought it was too good to be true, but it wasn't! It had only been used once. I talked to the owner and she was very nice about it.
And the price? $50!!!! It was as if the culinary angels were singing and smiling on me.
I took it home, and it has been an absolute godsend. Baking is more of a joy now than ever. Previously I had used a hand mixer, and that could get inconvenient at times, especially when you mixed with one hand and added ingredients with another. Now I just turn on the mixer and let 'er rip!
2. My Keurig coffee maker
I bought my Keurig a few months back, and can't imagine life without it. I no longer have to brew a whole pot of coffee and feel obligated to drink the whole damn thing. I don't waste coffee, and I can brew as many or as few cups as I want. And I can make hot cocoa with it, if I so desire. But I just use it for the coffee.
And finally, my #1 favorite appliance is...
1. My dishwasher
I know, I know...I have said in previous posts that I enjoy doing dishes. I really do love to wash dishes, but there are some nights where I'm just too tired or lazy. So I just load 'er up, put the dishwasher tab in, and let 'er rip! Two hours later, sparkling clean dishes!
I use the dishwasher for glasses, plastic storage containers, silverware...and dishes, of course.
And no, kittens, I am not getting free appliances from GE because I mentioned them. *SIGH* I could really use a new washer/dryer too...
Tuesday, July 14, 2009
Why haven't I been to the movies in so long? Well, a lot of it has to do with movie etiquette. I always end up, no matter where I am in the theater, sitting amongst people who are gabbing, texting, or taking pictures with their cell phones, or couples who are sucking face throughout the entire film. I don't wish to go to see a movie when those around me are being downright rude and aren't paying attention to what's on the screen.
That, and the price of a movie ticket has gone up ridiculously. Not to mention, there haven't been that many movies which have piqued my interest enough for me to go to the theater as opposed to waiting for the DVD to come out.
That having been said, there are three movies coming out this summer that I really do want to see.
The first one is called Post Grad. It stars Alexis Bledel as a freshly graduated college student searching for a job. The timing of this release couldn't be more appropriate, given the state of the job market.
But I don't wanna see it just for the former Ms. Rory Gilmore. Carol Burnett plays the kooky grandmother, and Demetri Martin is in it too!
The next movie I wish to see is The Time Traveler's Wife, starring Rachel McAdams. I have the book, and I have yet to read it. This will be a part of my Take a Chance Challenge--and I'll reveal details about that later.
The last movie I want to see is the one that I'm anticipating the most. It's called Julie and Julia and it stars two of my favorite actresses, Amy Adams and Meryl Streep. It's based on the book by Julie Powell, which I read a couple of years ago. I absolutely loved the book, and judging the trailer, I don't think I'm gonna be disappointed with this one!
And what movies do you wish to see, kittens?
So here, kittens, is the inaugural launch of The Queen's Meme. You can become a participant by clicking ici, or the button below.
1. You are in court. You are in deep doo-doo. What did you do?
I most likely got a speeding ticket, ran a red light, or a stop sign. I'm known for having a lead paw.
2. Your blog just became a best-selling book. What is the title of your book?
The Gospel According to Kitten.
3. It is midnight. The phone rings. It is Michael Jackson calling from the Great Beyond. What would you like to ask him?
Why are you calling me now? Everyone who knows me knows not to call me at that hour, unless it's an emergency.
4. You are having your fortune told. The fortune teller looks in the crystal ball, screams and leaves the room in fright. What did they see?
If that's the reaction that the fortune teller gave, I don't think I'd wanna know what they saw. I'd scream and leave the room in fright myself.
5. You're blogging along minding your own blusiness (that's blog + oh...you know) when Google unexpectedly puts a Objectionable Content Warning on your blog. Your own mother is afraid to enter! What, pray tell, did you do to warrant it? How did this happen? Do you think you deserve it? Just how objectionable are you? Do tell.
I said the f-word once. Just once. Oh yeah, and just one mention of the word "sex" as well. Just one. I don't think I would deserve it for just a one-time thing.
6. You suddenly become God Of The Universe. What would your first Commandment be?
Evil shall be banned from the world. In all forms. I'd like a peaceful, harmonious universe, merci beaucoup.
7. And finally, what secret would you like to tell the Queen?
If I answered this question right now, it wouldn't be much of a secret, since I'd be telling the Queen and the world. :) Besides, I don't think I've got many secrets...I can't think of any to write here!
Monday, July 13, 2009
This meme is brought to you by the lovely J.Kaye. Click here if ya wanna participate.
So what am I reading right now? Let's see...
Beginner's Greek: I'm on page 265 of 441 pages. I should be able to finish this week; it's going to be a busy week, so I don't know how much time I'll have for reading. It's had a lot of interesting plot twists. I really can't wait to finish this one!
Rise and Shine: This is not a book I'd normally choose, but it's for my A to Z Challenge, and I needed an author with a Q name--Anna Quindlen.
The Future Homemakers of America: I'm reading this for my Take a Chance Challenge. I'll let you know which task it was for when I post the review.
Snow Flower and the Secret Fan: This one's for my Summer Vacation Challenge.
And that's what I am reading right now! What are y'all reading, kittens?
One Monday night, a few weeks back, I had a fabulous blog post planned, and I was all ready to go post it, when I came into the office with my dinner and dropped a hot bowl of freshly microwaved potato all over the keyboard. I did not have one of those fancy-shmancy spill-resistant keyboards, so the potato spilled all throughout the cracks and crevices.
Then I turned the keyboard over on the drainboard to let it dry.
I carefully arranged the keys on the vanity so I would know where to place them when it came to re-assembling the keyboard:
1. The blow dryer blew some of the keys off of the vanity and onto the floor, which led to:
2. Gabby playing with the keys as they fell to the ground.
I had to re-arrange the order of the keys at least five or six times. I trusted that my memory worked. If not, I could always go online to find a diagram.
Once I was confident that the keyboard was completely dry, I painstakingly re-assembled all the keys. Then I went back to my office and turned on the computer. I plugged 'er in, opened Microsoft Word, and tested 'er out.