Monday, March 30, 2009

Dear Michigan bloggers...

...you know who you are. I've got you in my mind lately, and it has nothing to do with Detroit's auto woes.

See, I, like millions of Americans, transform into a rabid, ravaging, foaming-at-the-mouth college basketball fan every March. And this March in particular, I am raging. In case you have not been practicing the fine art of bracketology, I would like to point out that your Spartans have made it to the Final Four.

Well...so have my Huskies.

I know, I know, y'all have home court advantage, what with Detroit hosting the Final Four, but really, we all know that the Huskies are gonna win this game.

Consider this:
  • In their previous trips to the Final Four, UConn has been the top seed in the West. Same thing has happened here.
  • Yeah, State upset Louisville, the overall top seed, to get here, but c'mon, what makes you think they're gonna retain that staying power? Besides, if Michigan State--COUGH--does win (although unlikely), they're not gonna last past the Tar Heels in the final game.
  • In 1999 and 2004, when the Huskies won the National Championship, Coach Calhoun was hospitalized during early round games. He was also hospitalized this year during the first round.
  • The Huskies won their second national title five years after their first one. Our last one was in 2004. We're at the five-year mark, kids.

So, my dear, dear Michiganders, best of luck to you and your team...NOT!!

P.S. In the unlikely event that the Spartans upset the Huskies Saturday night, feel free to trash talk me on your blogs. Might as well return the favor!!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

The jar

Do you have a lot of stress in your life, Kittens? Do you have a group of people who just seem to bother the crap out of you? Do you wish you could tell these people to suck it, even though it would not be in your best interests to do so?

I have an alternative that works really well for me. It was inspired by those ceramic jars that you can find at Hallmark with the little sayings such as "Casino Money", "Retirement Fund," or "Ashes of Obnoxious Teenagers."

Well, here's what I did. I actually did this a few years ago:

1. Get yourself a clean, empty jar. Don't bother buying one from the store. Remember, Kittens, reduce, reuse, recycle. I suggest an empty peanut butter or tomato sauce jar. Make sure it is absolutely clean and dry.

2. Get yourself some masking tape and a sharpie. It has to be masking tape, not scotch.

3. Tear yourself off a strip of the masking tape. Using the sharpie, write, in big, fancy letters, the following phrase on the tape:


ASHES OF PEOPLE WHO PISS ME OFF

4. Place your tape on the front of the jar, in the middle. Now let the fun begin.

Every time something or someone gets under your skin, take a piece of paper and write their name down. Open the jar, and tear that piece of paper into little itty bitty shreds. Now seal the jar. Or, if you prefer, put the paper through a shredder, and deposit the shreds into the jar

I like the latter option.

Now when the jar gets full, dump it into the garbage. You could recycle it, and that would be the better, more environmentally friendly option, but recycling the paper with the names of those who have pissed you off would be like recycling bad chemicals into the atmosphere. You need to let go of these bad vibes, Kittens.

Your jar will fill at varying speeds, depending on the number of people who piss you off, as well as the frequency that this is done. Sometimes my jar will fill up in a matter of hours, other times a matter of weeks. It's perfectly normal if there are some names that make it to the jar on a regular basis

I find this ritual--well, comforting is not the word here, nor is soothing--but the emotion I feel when I rip these names up into shreds makes me feel a whole lot better.

And it's okay if you want to write someone's name over and over again and fill the jar up that way. If that's what you're feeling, go for it!

I haven't used the jar in a while. I was very proud of myself for that. However, I'm dragging it out of the cupboard tonight...it's gonna get some use soon.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

I tink I gots de ick...

Hello Kittens,

I just felt like posting randomly tonight, even though I'm technically still on blog break till Easter.

Good news: the depression seems to be lifting. I had a stressful few weeks and I think that's what started the latest episode. Today, as I was driving home, I felt a strange feeling. I was like, "Hmmm...I feel content." Not overly joyous, but not in the depths of despair, either. I was content. And I still am. I hope to hang onto this as long as I can. :)

Bad news: Norovirus is going around, and I know many who are dropping like flies. I really hope not to fall victim to this, but tonight, I got home, and I felt tres fatigued. So fatigued I couldn't make it to the Y. I went last night and felt fabulous. Tonight, though...well, let's just say that I changed into my jammies 20 minutes after I walked in the door.

I'm feeling spring allergies, especially tonight, with the first rainfall of the season. Ahhh, it's so nice to say rainfall as opposed to snowfall.With the rain comes elevated humidity, and with elevated humidity comes discomfort in the sinuses, a runny nose, and watery eyes. I'm feeling pretty crappy.

My appetite is good, though, and I haven't felt nauseated. I'm trying to stay positive. I really can't be sick right now. (Then again, is there ever an opportune time to be ill?)

So that's what's going on right now...I'm on vacation two weeks from today (but who's counting)? In the meantime, it's almost 8 PM on the East Coast, and I think I'm going to turn in.

Later!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

When in Doubt, Sing: Prayer in Daily Life, by Jane Redmont


I originally found Jane Redmont's blog, Acts of Hope, through PeaceBang's. I soon became a regular reader. When I learned that she had a second edition of this book coming out, I knew I had to get it.

At the end of last year, a friend of mine gave me a book called Writing as a Way of Healing. One of Jane Redmont's essays was referenced in there, an essay about praying during a time of depression.

Well, that sealed the deal for me. I bought it as soon as I could.

I felt it was very fitting for me to read this right now, given my current mental state. Sure enough, one of the chapters is titled, "From Where Will My Help Come? Praying During Depression." Even though it was the eleventh chapter in the book, it was the first one I read. In this chapter, Redmont describes a mental and emotional breakdown she suffered in 1993, which led to a brief hospitalization. She writes about how the prayers of other people helped get her through this difficult period. She adds that her reading of the Psalms, particularly Psalm 121, helped her through her depression. But she concludes that her best form of prayer during these months was with her body, particularly through the practice of yoga.

Redmont recognizes, though, that different people pray differently. What works for one person may not work for another. At the end of each chapter, she gives examples of different types of poems, chants, psalms, and other brief readings to guide the reader in different forms of prayer. At the end of the chapter on depression, Redmont offers a brief written exercise to help one articulate what they are trying to pray for as they heal.

Redmont covers all of the issues that most people experience when it comes to prayer. For example, she has chapters on praying with anger, petition prayers, and praying with the body. She follows a very logical sequence with her chapters, beginning with the definition of prayer in chapter one and ending with social justice prayer in the final section. She writes about praying with icons, praying with writing, and praying with song. For those who are seeking to enrich their spiritual practice, this book is a great aid for them.

One of the nicest things about this book is that each chapter can stand alone. I suggest reading the whole book through first, then going back and re-reading your favorite chapters. I'm particularly concentrating right now on the chapters dealing with depression, troubles, and thanksgiving. I have a lot to be thankful for, but I also need to ask for some spiritual help at this time.

Redmont interviewed many people for this book, and she quotes them extensively throughout the text. I'm glad she did this, because it shows the different ways that different people use prayer throughout their lives.

I've always been a spiritual person, but I will admit that my prayers have not been...well, thoughtful or grounded. Like many people, I always prayed for "stuff", or bargained with God--or whoever may be up there. For example, consider a typical prayer in high school:

"Dear God, please make me get an A on the science test, and please let Tim ask me out!"

In college:

"Dear God, please make me get an A on the history exam, and please convince Ted to dump Mary so he can ask me out!"

Recently:

"Dear God, please don't make this depression last too much longer."

As a kid, Mama Cat taught me to say the "Our Father" and "Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep" before I went to bed. I always ended these prayers by saying "God Bless Mommy, Daddy, Grandma and Grandpa, my aunts and uncles, and all my cousins. Thank you for this day, God. Amen."

I don't remember when I stopped this bedtime routine.

But I need to have prayer back in my life again.

With this book, I think I can manage to pray once again, but this time, with a little more meaning.

This is the latest update in my 100+ Reading Challenge, my Read Your Own Books Challenge, my A to Z Challenge, and my Dewey Decimal Challenge. Click on the buttons in the sidebar for all of the latest updates!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

A quick hello...

Thanks to everyone who left me comments and well wishes on my "Sabbatical" post. I told you I wouldn't be gone for long! However, many of you were worried about what's been going on, so I only thought it was fair to let you in on some details...

Regular readers know that I've been battling depression almost my entire life. I wasn't officially diagnosed until May of 2002, though. I've been doing really well depression-wise for the past year...but this past week, the symptoms started coming back. And its best friend, anxiety, has been paying a visit as well.

I've been seeing a therapist for the past 15 months. She's been a big help. A few months ago I felt I was doing well enough to reduce the visits from every week to every other week...I think I'm going to have to increase the visits back to weekly for a while.

I also need to see my GP. I need to talk to her because I may need to get back on meds. I've been off them for a year--the first year since I was diagnosed that I've been nonmedicated. What worries me most about getting back on the meds are the physical side effects. When I was on Prozac, I gained a lot of weight. When I was on Lexipro, not only did I gain more weight than I did when I was on Prozac, but I also felt fatigued all the time. I'd come home from work at 4 PM and sleep for the next four hours. Not a healthy way to live.

While the drugs offered me a sense of mental stability, I don't want to compromise my physical health, either.

Last night I forced myself to attend a church potluck. I'm really glad I went. I'm feeling a lot better, but I'm not going to consider myself cured.

So that's what's been going on off-blog...I'm not going to delve into the reasons why I believe the depression has resurfaced. I'll just say that March has come in like a lion and it is going to leave like a lion. I haven't had a full day to myself since my birthday. I had a stressful day at work on my birthday, and it hasn't abated yet. I'm not going to have a full day to myself till after Easter, when I'm on vacation.

When I say full day to myself, I mean a day free of commitments. A day where I can stay in my pajamas from sunrise till sunset. A day when I don't have to shower. A day when I don't have to leave the house and can sleep all day if I wanted to.

And finally, there's the blogging. I've been overwhelmed by it lately. As of this writing I follow 65 blogs. Every night I was faithful about reading all the new posts and commenting on every single one. But 65 blogs is a lot to read in one night. I know that all of them didn't update simultaneously, but I knew I had to figure out a way to read all of my updates withouth getting overwhelmed.

Within all this, something had to give--and that something is blogging. I don't anticipate I'll be blogging full-time again until after Easter. I need to get my mental health straightened out and need to take a rest from life--even if it's just grabbing a few minutes here and there. I'll post some bits and pieces every now and then, but it won't be the lengthy tomes you've all been accustomed to.

Phew! So much for a quick hello! Again, thanks for all of your well-wishes! We'll chat soon!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Sabbatical

I've decided to take a break from blogging. I don't know how long it will last.

Well, actually, I'll be blogging a little bit. From now till further notice I'll only be posting book reviews. I won't be doing any memes or posts about my daily life.

There's been a lot going on off-blog. Fortunately it's nothing too heavy-duty, but it requires more of my time right now.

I will be back, though. You can count on that!

See you at the page turn!
Love,
Kitten :)

Thursday Thunks: March 19, 2009

Welcome to another edition of Thursday Thunks--the first sign that the weekend's almost here!


Wanna play along? Click here!

1. The last flight of stairs you walked up/down - were they carpeted?
Yes, they were! I walked up the stairs from my foyer up to my living room. They have a beige carpet, just like the rest of the house.

2. Green or purple grapes?
I like eating purple grapes better, but I prefer drinking white grape juice,which is made from green grapes.

3. Do you like Peeps?
I don't like consuming Peeps. They're too sweet. Throw 'em in the microwave, however, and you've got a totally different ball game.



4. The smell of Vicks - like it?
It's not so bad in minute doses. I wouldn't want to smell it all day, though; reminds me too much of a doctor's office, hospital, or just being sick in general.

5. Do you put decorative cling-ons on your windows for different holidays?
I tried to do this once, but I didn't really like it. I only decorate for Christmas. I've never really liked decorating for other holidays; as a child I absolutely loathed pumpkin carving at Halloween.
6. Finish the sentence - I spent too much money on ________.
Books and makeup. Books are obvious; after all, I am the Bookkitten. However, get me in a Sephora and I will literally go insane. I freakin' love that store. Or rather, get me in any makeup section of any store and I will go insane. Hmmm...sounds like a Kitten Confession post is coming...

7. Which celebrity should be flown into outer space or placed on a desert island?
Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes should just leave the planet. Right away. I think I hear the announcement for their flight, now boarding for Saturn at gate 22.

8. Would you support schools changing the "open" time? Such as 10am - 5pm, for example?
Kids and adults alike benefit from more sleep. I'm not sure about the 10am - 5pm time, but I'm more at ease with 9am to 4pm.

9. Do you go fishing?
I used to fish when I was a kid. My grandparents used to have a cottage in the Adirondacks, on the banks of the Hudson River. They had a little pontoon dock, and I used to go out on the dock in my little Snoopy life jacket, carrying my little Snoopy fishing pole. My grandfather would put the bobber on the line for me, and I'd go out there and fish. I was always disappointed that I never caught a fish on that dock.
Several years ago, I learned why: Grandpa never put any bait on the line. I can't believe I was fooled like that. (Then again, he always distracted me when he hooked the line for me, so I never saw the deception).

10. What question should we ask next week?
Oh, I don't know...Elvis vs. Beatles? Beatles vs. Rolling Stones? Rolling Stones vs. the Doors?

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

The Pillars of the Earth, by Ken Follett


Well, Kittens, I know that some of you have been anxiously awaiting my opinion of this book, this true chunkster, this 973-page monstrosity that I thought I'd never finish.

So here it is.

Simply put, it is an amazing book. The characters really stay with you. There are many separate plot lines that are seemingly complex, but they all weave together as the novel progresses. I will try to separate them all as best as I can, without revealing too much information that may spoil the book for those who plan to read it.
  • Tom Builder is a mason who is building a castle for Percy Hamleigh's son, William, and his intended bride, Lady Aliena, daughter of the Earl Bartholomew, who is the earl of Shiring. Aliena has intense hatred for William and rejects his proposal. William halts construction on his castle, leaving Tom out of work. William also plots revenge by planning to raid Earl Bartholomew's castle and seizing the earldom from him.
  • Tom, his pregnant wife Agnes, and their two children, Alfred and Martha, are left destitute and spend many days of hardship in the forest. Agnes dies while giving birth to their third child, a boy.
  • This infant is found by the brother of the prior of Kingsbridge, who brings the boy to the priory. The prior, Philip, decides to raise the child as if he were his own.
  • Days pass, and Tom and his children arrive in Kingsbridge. Tom is looking for work.
  • During their stay in the forest, Tom and his family are joined by a woman named Ellen and her son, Jack. Alfred and Jack immediately hate each other. This figures into the novel much later.
  • Kingsbridge is granted permission to construct a cathedral. Tom is appointed master builder.
  • William Hamleigh seizes the earldom, leaving Aliena and her brother, Richard, destitute and searching the county for work.
  • Aliena and Richard find their father imprisoned and dying. Before they leave him, their father makes them take an oath: they must work together to make Richard the rightful earl of Shiring, and restore the earldom to their family.
  • With their new oath in mind, Aliena and Richard continue to look for work. Aliena eventually becomes a wool merchant, and Prior Philip of Kingsbridge purchases her first batch. She and Richard eventually relocate to Kingsbridge.

I'm going to stop there. I've highlighted most of the main characters. Now for the setting: this novel is set in 12th century England, between the time of the White Ship disaster and the murder of Thomas Becket. (Thanks to that bastion of journalistic integrity, Wikipedia, for the help in the research.) Ken Follett was absolutely meticulous in his research. He wrote, with amazing detail, the fight over the kingship between Maud and Stephen, the conflicts between Becket and king Henry II, and skillfully weaved all of this historical material into the plotlines. More importantly, he was able to blend fiction with history so well, you can't tell who the fictional characters are at times.

Ken Follett is known for his suspense novels, and he is wonderful at keeping the suspense in this book. You never know when and where a plot will twist. You never know when a seemingly insignificant detail will become a major factor in the story. This is what kept the pages turning for me. For example, late in the novel, Jack, Ellen's son, is living in France and is helping to build the cathedral at Saint-Denis. Here he discovers a new building technique: pointed, as opposed to rounded, arches. Inspired, he decides to bring this knowledge back to Kingsbridge. (How he got to France is another story in and of its own). Keep in mind that this was a huge revolution in church construction at that point in time.

The novel is primarily about the construction of a cathedral, but for me, it was much, much more than that. It is an amazing account of the complex relationship between church and state in England. It profiles all of the power plays, brokerages, and wheeling and dealing that were involved in getting people what they wanted. The relationship between William Hamleigh and Bishop Waleran is particularly interesting when it comes to this. Add Prior Philip to the mix and the equation becomes especially interesting.

This book took me almost a month to read. To be honest with you, I started reading it mid-February and set it aside for about a week. I had gotten up to 150 pages when I did, because A) I was intimidated by the length of the book, since I had not read any book that big before, B) it was a little slow to establish itself, and C) I was intimidated by the length of the book. I was able to get past all of these intimidations and read all the way through in about two and a half weeks, once I picked up the book again. There are some parts where you have to put it down for a little while to reflect on what you've read, but there are more parts where you can just plow right through.

I will admit that this book may have set me back a little bit on some of my reading challenges, but it was totally worth it. This is one of the most amazing books I've ever read, and I can't wait to reread it. In the meantime, though, I'm going to pick up the sequel, World Without End, and see how that goes.

If you want to read this book, though, by all means, do so! And don't hesitate! It's worth it, it's worth it, it's worth it. I think I may just get a copy for myself!

This is the latest entry in the following reading challenges: the 100+ Reading Challenge, the Chunkster Challenge, the A to Z Challenge, and the Support Your Local Library Challenge. Click on the buttons in the sidebars for the latest in all of these challenges!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Clip of the Week: St. Patty's Day

For those of you who missed this clip when I posted it for the Virtual Girls Night Out, here it is again. It is the best St. Patty's Day clip EVER.


Sunday Stealing: The high school meme

1. Did you date someone from your school?
Nope.

2. Did you marry someone from your high school?
See question #1.

3. Did you car pool to school?
Occasionally. Some days I rode the bus, but by senior year I was looking for an excuse to borrow the car every day.

4. What kind of car did you have?
I didn't have my own car. I drove my dad's, a red 1991 Ford Tempo.

5. What kind of car do you have now?
A 2002 Kia Spectra.

6. Its Friday night...where are you now?
Either at home or out with friends.

7. It is Friday night...where were you then?
See question #6.

8. What kind of job did you have in high school?
I had two jobs. I was a checkout girl at Caldor's and also worked as a library page. I liked the library job a lot better.

9. What kind of job do you do now?
I'm in education.

10. Were you a party animal?
Hell, no.

11. Were you considered a flirt?
Again, no. I was a nerd. I was very shy, and more into studying than partying.

12. Were you in band, orchestra, or choir?
I was in band for two years and in choir for one.

13. Were you a nerd?
Let me put it to you this way: Senior year, I was a write-in vote for Teacher's Pet.

14. Did you get suspended from school?
No...I was too much of a goody-goody.

15. Can you sing the fight song?
We didn't have a fight song, but we had an alma mater, and I can still sing it.

16. Who was/were your favorite teacher?
Mrs. Keenan was my favorite teacher.

17. Where did you sit during lunch?
During the first three years, at a lunch table with friends. By senior year, we all sat in the senior section.

18. What was your school's full name?
Northwest Catholic High School.

19. Where did you party the most?
I didn't go to many parties. Again, I was a nerd. No one asked me to parties.

20. What was your school mascot?
An Indian.

21. Would you do it again?
No f-ing way.

22. Did you have fun at Prom?
I didn't go.

23. Do you still talk to the person you went to Prom with?
See #22.

24. Are you planning on going to your next reunion?
See #21.

25. Do you still talk to people from school?
I'm friends with one or two on Facebook, but that's about the extent of it.

26. What are/were your school's colors?
Green and white.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Childhood Ponzi scheme

A friend of mine posted this NPR News article on Facebook, and I thought I'd share it with you.

Sweet Memories of a Snack Food Financial Scheme

Weekly Geeks Quote a Day: Finale

I saw this quote on another blog a few weeks ago, and it has stayed with me since. I thought it would be a good one to end the week with:

"A person starts dying when they stop dreaming." --Brian Williams

Saturday 9: School Daze

Wanna play along? Click here.

1. Do you have children in school?
No. I don't have children of my own. And my cats are not like Snoopy; they don't follow me to school and perform better on tests than I do.

2. Did you go to public school?
Up until 9th grade, I went to public school. I went to a Catholic high school. I was bullied so much in middle school that I had to get away from my classmates.

If you have children did/do they?
N/A

3. Are you currently in school or taking classes?
Uhhh...that's how I make my living. I'm an educator.

4. What level of education have you completed?
I have my Master's degree.

5. Do you, or did you have loans out for your (or your children's) education?
I'll be paying loans off for my education for the rest of my life. Or at least it feel like it. Fortunately, I don't have that much debt compared to friends who have attended medical or law school.

6. What are your thoughts on the cost of tuition for colleges and universities?
Ten years from now, college will become a privilege that only rich kids can afford. It's not fair. Make college affordable to all!

7. Did school prepare you education wise for working in the real world?
For certain things, yes. However, most things you experience in the "real world" are experiences that school never teaches you. The "School of Hard Knocks" is the best education of all. I think we learn more from our experiences than anything else.

8. Did school prepare you emotionally for what lay ahead?
I really don't know how to answer this question. I was one of those kids who was bullied in school, and as a result, my confidence has always been shaky. There are some days when I regress emotionally back to that 7th grader who, at one point, wanted to take her own life. I'm not suicidal now, but back then, it was a really rough time. That's one of the reasons why I went into my field of work--to help other kids like me.

9. If you were to run a high school, what changes would you make?
It's important that kids know their ABCs and 123s, but it's just as important that they learn life skills--if not more so. I'd make financial management a required course for graduation, as well as auto repair and home economics. Kids should know how to jump start a car, sew a button, hem pants, and how to boil water for pasta.

The College Board's 101 Books College-Bound Students Should Read

I saw this over at Meg's, and thought I would give it a try.

All of the books I have read are highlighted in bold blue. If I've highlighted the author only, that means I haven't read the work listed here, but another work off the list.

NOTE: I didn't read some of these works until I was actually in college, not before I entered college.

Ready? Here we go!


Author Title
Beowulf
Achebe, Chinua Things Fall Apart
Agee, James A Death in the Family
Austen, Jane Pride and Prejudice

Baldwin, James Go Tell It on the Mountain
Beckett, Samuel Waiting for Godot
Bellow, Saul The Adventures of Augie March
Bronte, Charlotte Jane Eyre
Bronte, Emily Wuthering Heights
Camus, Albert The Stranger

Cather, Willa Death Comes for the Archbishop
Cervantes, Miguel de Don Quixote
Chaucer, Geoffrey The Canterbury Tales
Chekhov, Anton The Cherry Orchard

Chopin, Kate The Awakening
Conrad, Joseph Heart of Darkness
Cooper, James Fenimore The Last of the Mohicans
Crane, Stephen The Red Badge of Courage
Dante Inferno
Defoe, Daniel Robinson Crusoe
Dickens, Charles A Tale of Two Cities
Dostoyevsky, Fyodor Crime and Punishment
Douglass, Frederick Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass
Dreiser, Theodore An American Tragedy
Dumas, Alexandre The Three Musketeers
Eliot, George The Mill on the Floss
Ellison, Ralph Invisible Man
Emerson, Ralph Waldo Selected Essays
Faulkner, William As I Lay Dying
Faulkner, William The Sound and the Fury
Fielding, Henry Tom Jones
Fitzgerald, F. Scott The Great Gatsby
Flaubert, Gustave Madame Bovary

Ford, Ford Madox The Good Soldier
Goethe, Johann Wolfgang von Faust
Golding, William Lord of the Flies
Hardy, Thomas Tess of the d’Urbervilles
Hawthorne, Nathaniel The Scarlet Letter
Heller, Joseph Catch 22
Hemingway, Ernest A Farewell to Arms
Homer The Iliad
Homer The Odyssey
Hugo, Victor The Hunchback of Notre Dame
Hurston, Zora Neale Their Eyes Were Watching God
Huxley, Aldous Brave New World
Ibsen, Henrik A Doll’s House
James, Henry The Portrait of a Lady
James, Henry The Turn of the Screw
Joyce, James A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man
Kafka, Franz The Metamorphosis
Kingston, Maxine Hong The Woman Warrior
Lee, Harper To Kill a Mockingbird
Lewis, Sinclair Babbitt
London, Jack The Call of the Wild

Mann, Thomas The Magic Mountain
Marquez, Gabriel Garcia One Hundred Years of Solitude
Melville, Herman Bartleby the Scrivener
Melville, Herman Moby Dick
Miller, Arthur The Crucible
Morrison, Toni Beloved
O’Connor, Flannery A Good Man is Hard to Find
O’Neill, Eugene Long Day’s Journey into Night
Orwell, George Animal Farm

Pasternak, Boris Doctor Zhivago
Plath, Sylvia The Bell Jar
Poe, Edgar Allen Selected Tales
Proust, Marcel Swann’s Way
Pynchon, Thomas The Crying of Lot 49
Remarque, Erich Maria All Quiet on the Western Front
Rostand, Edmond Cyrano de Bergerac
Roth, Henry Call It Sleep
Salinger, J.D. The Catcher in the Rye
Shakespeare, William Hamlet
Shakespeare, William Macbeth
Shakespeare, William A Midsummer Night’s Dream
Shakespeare, William Romeo and Juliet
Shaw, George Bernard Pygmalion
Shelley, Mary Frankenstein

Silko, Leslie Marmon Ceremony
Solzhenitsyn, Alexander One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich
Sophocles Antigone
Sophocles Oedipus Rex

Steinbeck, John The Grapes of Wrath
Stevenson, Robert Louis Treasure Island
Stowe, Harriet Beecher Uncle Tom’s Cabin
Swift, Jonathan Gulliver’s Travels

Thackeray, William Vanity Fair
Thoreau, Henry David Walden
Tolstoy, Leo War and Peace
Turgenev, Ivan Fathers and Sons
Twain, Mark The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
Voltaire Candide
Vonnegut, Kurt Jr. Slaughterhouse-Five
Walker, Alice The Color Purple
Wharton, Edith The House of Mirth
Welty, Eudora Collected Stories
Whitman, Walt Leaves of Grass
Wilde, Oscar The Picture of Dorian Gray
Williams, Tennessee The Glass Menagerie
Woolf, Virginia To the Lighthouse
Wright, Richard Native Son

Out of the 101 books listed, I've read 44. Not bad. That's not to say that I liked them all--I didn't like 'em all. But that's another post for another time.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Virtual VGNO: St. Patty's Day Edition

Top of the evenin' to ya, Kittens!

It's Friday night, and time for the Virtual Girls Night Out, hosted by the lovely Miss Ann.

I'm a little late to the party, as I had an unplanned GNO with some girlfriends from work and got home about half an hour ago. I am tired and won't stay too long, but I wanted to pop in and say hello.

Anyhoo, tonight's party game, in honor of Saint Patty's Day, is called "The Shamrock 3." This is a great game for me, Kittens, as you know how much I adore the number three. So here we go:

Name three places you'd rather be right now:
1. A field of sunflowers in Tuscany
2. A ginormous hot bubble bath
3. On a bateau mouche in the river Seine in Paris

Name three things you will NEVER drink again:
1. Vodka, either straight up or mixed with something else. Grandma Cat used to drink it straight up, on the rocks, in a water glass. When I was six years old I came in from the yard, saw the glass, and thought it was water. Haven't gone near the stuff since.
2. Mountain Dew. I seriously don't understand why people adore this stuff. It looks like urine. I've never tasted urine, but I imagine that this is what it would taste like.
3. Pulpy orange juice. Seriously, orange juice is not meant to be chewed.

People you would like to pinch (for not wearing green, of course!)
This is an easy list, because I talk about these men all the time:
1. Hugh Jackman
2. George Clooney
3. Brian Williams (seriously, I've never seen the man wear a green tie on Nightly News)

Finally, to get you in the St. Patty's Day mood, here's the best St. Patty's Day clip with the best Irish singers ever. Enjoy!


Weekly Geeks Quote a Day: Wisdom from Anne Shirley

Here's a quote from another one of my collections, as well as from my all-time favorite fictional character:

"I'd like to add some beauty to life. I don't exactly want to make people know more...though I know that is the noblest ambition...but I'd love to make them have a pleasanter time because of me...to have some little joy or happy thought that would never have existed if I hadn't been born." --Anne Shirley, as quoted in Anne of Avonlea by Lucy Maud Montgomery

I guess we all feel this way every now and then...

Friday Fragments, Focus, Fill-Ins, and Favorites!

I've decided to combine all of the Friday posts into one! Saves me--and you--time reading and writing.

First up: Friday Fragments, brought to you by the good people at Half Past Kissin' Time.

The moon was huge today as I drove into work. I mean, huge! I never saw it look so big. Maybe it was abnormally close to the Earth; I don't know!

Why is it that the plastic wrap, aluminum foil, and baggies can't be located in the grocery store with all the rest of the paper goods?

Brian Williams has a crooked nose. Anyone else notice this?

Speaking of my TV boyfriend the NBC Nightly News anchor, from him I learned how the expression "Ponzi scheme" got its name, and that the first Fireside Chat took place 76 years ago yesterday.

I love red wine. I mean, I reaaaaaalllllllllly love it.

My car repairs finally got done. I had to drive a 2008 Chevy Aveo for a day. Roll down windows, manual locks, crappy gas mileage. On a 2008 car?!?

President Obama's been in office for more than 50 days now. Where the hell does the time go?

I have jury duty next Wednesday. I hope I don't get picked for a jury.

I really want to go to Long Beach Island for a couple of days in April, before the tourist season starts. I haven't been there since I was 16 and feel like taking a trip down Memory Lane.

Lately my town's sounded more like New York City. There have been a lot of cop sirens and fire trucks going by my place!

Focus Friday

Focus Friday is brought to you by the good people at Thrifty and Chic Mom.

This coming week I'm going to focus on finishing The Pillars of the Earth. Only 300 pages to go--and it's really getting good!

Now for some Friday Fill-Ins.

ffi

1. When I look to the left, I see my bookcase.

2. My living room is the room that has the best view in my home.

3. Let it work, but also let it play.

4. I like to get stuff done dirt cheap!

5. Owning Citigroup is a responsibility that all qualified citizens must share.

6. If you have any comments feel free to add them to the end of this post.

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to participating in Ann's Virtual Girls Night Out, tomorrow my plans include singing in our church's talent show and Sunday, I want to read and veg!

And finally, some Friday Favorites, brought to you by the lovely Miss Janna Bee.

So what got me through this week, Kittens? Well...

  • The good folks at Enterprise Rent a Car helped me when my car was in for repairs. They gave me the above-mentioned Chevy Aveo. Not the best car in the world, but it was reliable, and it got me to where I needed to go. And the people there were very friendly and helpful.
  • My mechanic at the Kia dealership. He's honest and will help out a customer as much as he can.
  • My Monday night book club. I needed a diversion this week. It was a long one.
  • Red wine. Good for both the heart and soul.
  • Sleep. I really needed it this week.
  • Friends, both bloggy and non-bloggy. Their advice and humor kept me sane during a tres long week.
  • My iPod.
  • The good news stories at the end of the NBC Nightly News. It's refreshing to hear about the good things that people are doing for others during hard times.

Well, there you have it--my fist full o' Friday! I'll be back later tonight--that is, if I don't fall asleep in my dinner--for the VGNO. I hope to have another soundtrack ready to go for you girls! Happy Friday!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Weekly Geeks Quote a Day: Alternate City/State Mottoes

Found these gems in one of my old quote books. No offense to anyone who lives in any of the states or cities mentioned here!

"We are what we are." --motto of Lake Woebegon

"You gotta live somewhere." --motto for Cleveland suggested by Jimmy Brogan

"It's a living." --motto for the U.S. Army suggested by Mort Sahl

"What died?" --motto for New Jersey suggested by Steven Pearl

"What the hell are you looking at?" --license plate slogan for New York suggested by Steven Pearl

"Eat cheese or die." --motto for Wisconsin suggested by Joel McNally

"Not you." --bumper sticker in the state where the license plate slogan is "You've Got a Friend in Pennsylvania"

What alternate mottoes can you come up with for your home state?

I wish I could think of something for Connecticut...

Thursday Thunks: March 12, 2009

1. You are walking down the road and you look down. There is a bug. Do you step on it?
No. I don't like the crunch sound it makes when you step on it.

2. What is one fantasy that you want to come true more than any other?
Not having to worry about finances ever again.

3. Someone knocks on your door. Do you look out the window to see who it is before you open it? Do you open it regardless of who it is?
Yes, I look out the window to see who it is. I open it if it's a friend, neighbor, the postman, or the UPS guy. Otherwise, if I have no idea who it is, I don't open the door.

4. Have you ever eaten Play Doh?
Only the homemade kind. Mama Cat used to make it with a mixture of flour, salt, and water.

5. What was your favorite Saturday morning cartoon as a child and why?
The Bugs Bunny Road Runner Show. I loved Bugs Bunny.

6. Are you a "people watcher"?
Yes. I'm fascinated by human nature.

7. I have a bowl of fruit. There are apples, oranges & pears. You help yourself to one - which one do you choose?
An apple. I don't like oranges or pears.

8. What is your biggest pet peeve in the blogging world?
People who use their blogs to deliberately hurt others.

9. What is one religion that you could just never see yourself joining?
I'm a Unitarian Universalist. We're open to and recognize all religious practices.

10. What word do you use far too often?
Jackass...especially when I'm in the car.

11. How long do you spend in the shower?
In the morning, as long as possible, to delay getting ready for work a little bit. At night, I'm usually in and out, because I want to get to bed quickly.

12. If you were to write a personal ad about yourself, what would it say?
I'm not going to answer this question, out of fear that Bud would make fun of me. :P

13. Your favorite flavor of soup is....?
Lentil with lots of parmesan cheese sprinkled on top.

14. You are sitting on a bench in the park and a bug walks in front of your feet.... do you squash him?
What's with the squashing bugs today? I'd only squash the bugger (pardon the pun) if my sandwich was in danger.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Carol Burnett on Ellen!!!

Dedicated to Mel, who first let me know that Carol was on Ellen today. I immediately went into Freakout Mode, but in a totally good way!

And how 'bout that Carol Burnett Barbie doll? I've GOT to get my paws on one of those!

Writers Workshop: "You always hurt the ones you love..."

Welcome, Kittens, to another session of Writers Workshop, brought to you by Mama Kat.

This week, I'm writing about this:
"Tell about a time that you hurt somebody that still bothers you to this day."

I'm giving this prompt a twist: You see, I don't know if I really hurt this person. I haven't seen her in eight years, and haven't spoken to her in almost five.

That person was once my best friend.

I was a bridesmaid in her wedding.

I haven't seen her since her wedding day.

We met in college. We were casual friends at first, but during our junior year, we were both hurt by the same group of people, and became very close. Some would even say we were like sisters.

The two of us hung out with another guy, the guy who remains my best friend to this very day (and is frequently mentioned in this blog). The three of us made a happy little trio, and we were very, very tight.

Towards the end of senior year, however, we had a fight, and it looked as if the three of us were going to end our friendships. BFF #1, whom we'll refer to as P, broke up with her longtime boyfriend and was dealing with the fallout with that--dating guys she normally wouldn't date, hanging out with people she normally wouldn't spend time with. BFF #2, whom we'll refer to as K, was acting very secretive around the two of us, and he would often leave campus without telling us where he was going and what he was doing.

My BFFs bonded over their mutual troubles--and left me out in the cold.

It felt awful, and to this day, my college graduation is still somewhat bittersweet because of the events that had unfolded.

Time, however, healed our wounds. Six months after graduation, K called and we talked for two hours. Long story short, K came out of the closet, and he was dealing with the fallout amongst his family, as well as his friends. We still had a lot of healing to do, and it took several years for us to completely repair our friendship. Several weeks after that, P called, and we resumed our friendship.

(NOTE: I may or may not write more about my friendship with K in the future. He knows I have a blog, but he's never read it. I don't want to talk about it in depth or very personally without having his permission first. From here on, though, I'm going to talk about P).

Anyway, P lived in another state, and we weren't able to see each other often. Between the time we graduated and the time she got engaged, we saw each other twice. During wedding plans, however, we saw each other much more frequently, and we were on the phone a lot--often for three hours at a time. I heard about all of the arguments she had with her family over wedding plans, all of the first details about the dress, the honeymoon plans--I heard everything. And when I was asked to be a bridesmaid, well, I thought that bonded us forever.

But it didn't.

While P was making her wedding plans, excited about the celebration she was about to have, I was a poor grad school student scraping to get by. I was taking a full-time course load, working full-time, and searching for permanent jobs for the following school year. I was fried, busy, and did I mention, poor? This should be a moot point, but at the time, it wasn't. P and her fiance had an income, an apartment, and were being given stuff, through their registry, for their new home. And here I was, a single person, barely making enough money to buy a coffee maker for my apartment.

She had a bridal shower where she got four toaster ovens. She got all her stuff for free.

I had to go buy all my appliances. I didn't have a horde of people helping me start my new life.

I started to feel bitter. I still regret feeling this way. I knew I had to be happy for my friend, and I put on a smile at that damn shower. It was very difficult, though, but not just for the material gifts. During the final months before the wedding, we had less and less to talk about. We were both embarking on different stages of our lives: she as a new wife, me moving out of my parents' house and onto my career. We just didn't have as much in common. We were both stressed out for entirely different reasons. At times, we took it out on each other.

P married in July of 2001. I moved out of my parents' house a week later. I'm glad the timing was this way, because it didn't give me any time to brood.

P and I talked on the phone every couple of months for about two or three years after she married. And then, suddenly, she stopped responding to my E-mails. She stopped calling.

I don't know what I did, if I did anything, but the fact that she never responded to the last Christmas card I sent her really saddens me.

I know where she works, but I don't know where she's living. I don't even know if she's still married. I've tried finding her on Facebook, to no avail, but I seriously doubt that P would be a Facebooker. I think the ball's in P's court now. I still have the same address that I had five years ago, I'm on our college alumni network, she knows where and how to find me. Hell, my parents still live in the same house as I did when I was in college, so she can always call my rents if she doesn't have my contact info.

I'm just so sad that I don't know why she decided not to talk to me anymore. What did I do? What did I say? Did I even do or say anything to upset her?

I would just like to talk to her one more time, just one more, to have some closure. Just a chance to say goodbye.

I don't think that will ever happen, though.

Weekly Geeks Quote a Day: Thoughts from YOU!!

I've opened up the Weekly Geeks Quote a Day conversation to you, Kittens, and here are the pearls of wisdom that you have contributed:

From Yaya: "Just when the caterpillar thought the world was over it became a beautiful butterfly."

From Jodi: "When you assume it makes an ASS of U and ME." (From The Odd Couple)

From Blueviolet: "Children should be seen and heard and believed."

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

The songs in my head...

It's currently 11:37 PM EDT as I write this (well, technically it's 10:37, but that blasted Daylight Savings...)

Anyhoo, why am I blogging? Two reasons: one, I'm waiting for my facial peel to dry before I turn in, and two, I've got two songs in my head that just. won't. leave.

The first one is this. I sang it all day at work. And I mean, all day.



And just when I got that one out of my head, this one pops in. I found it over at Grammy Janet's Place. It's Mark Ballas's and Derek Hough's new band--you know, the cuties from Dancing With the Stars?



So now, it's 11:42 and I'm still wide awake. I'm gonna go brush my teeth now. I hope to get some more sleep tonight. Or at least a deeper one. Good night, Kittens.

Name that tune!

Found this over at Don't Forget to Flush, who stole it from Moomin Light.
This is an interesting little meme. Here are the instructions:

Step 1: Put your music player on shuffle.
Step 2: Post the first line from the 1st 25 songs no matter how embarrassing
Step 3: Strike through once someone guesses both the artist and the track correctly.
Step 4: For those who are guessing, looking up the lyrics is CHEATING.
Step 5: If you like the game post your own.

And awaaaaaayyyyyyyyy we go!!

1. "Sitting in the movie show thinkin' nasty thoughts." Shelley, Mel
2. "The road is long, with a-many a winding turn that leads us to who knows where, who knows where." Mel
3. "There go the street lights, the night's officially on, I got the green light to do whatever I want."
4. "I just can't get you out of my head, boy your lovin' is all I think about." That.Girl, Steph Su
5. "If I could turn the page, the time that I'd rearrange just a day or two, close my, close my, close my eyes." CDB
6. "And it's all right, and it's comin' on, we gotta get right back to where we started from." Jodi, Mel
7. "Superstar, where ya from, how's it goin'?" Mel
8. "Here's a groove, slightly transformed, just a bit of a break from the norm."
9. "One toke over the line, sweet Jesus, one toke over the line, sittin' downtown in a railway station, one toke over the line." That.Girl
10. "Who is this man, what sort of devil is he to have me caught in a trap and choose to let me go free?" Steph Su
11. "When this old world starts a gettin' me down, and people are just too much for me to face I'll climb way up to the top of the stairs and all my cares just drift right into space." Jodi, Mel
12. "When I was a little boy, the devil called my name, say now who do, who do you think you're fooling?" CDB
13. "Dear Sir or Madam, will you read my book?"
14. "You always said you liked my style, you say I'm tough and kind of wild."
15. "As long as he needs me, oh yes he does need me, in spite of what you see, I'm sure that he needs me."
16. "People point and fingerpainting the world, even me the silhouette of my life, and I'm filling in the negative space with positively everything."
17. "The local rock group down the street is trying hard to learn its song."
18. "Hey girl, in your eyes, I see your picture of me all the time."
19. "Some dreams are in the nighttime, and some seem like yesterday but leaves turn brown and fade, ships sail away."
20. "I met a gin-soaked bar-room queen in Memphis, she tried to take me upstairs for a ride." CDB
21. "Come on-a my house, I'm gonna give you candy."
22. "The flame is burning deep in my soul, saying I was half now I'm whole."
23. "When I come to the clubs, step aside, pop the seats don't be hating me in the line."
24. "I don't remember what day it was, I didn't notice what time it was."
25. "Every day when the work is behind you and the shop and the store, put the lock on the door, just get away where your worries won't find you, if you'd like then I'll tell you more."

Good luck!

Weekly Geeks Quote a Day: A rivalry among authors

I used to collect quotes in college, and by the time I graduated, I had three journals full of quotes. I have been leafing through them in order to find some good quotes to post here for the Weekly Geeks meme, and found this series of gems. Read all of the quotes, including the names of the quoters, in order to appreciate the full humor.

"He was a wise man who invented God." --Plato

"Plato was a bore." --Nietzsche

"Nietzsche was stupid and abnormal." --Leo Tolstoy

"I'm not going to climb into the ring with Tolstoy." --Ernest Hemingway

"Hemingway was a jerk." --Harold Robbins

Kittens, what would be an appropriate quote to continue this series? Comment away!

Monday, March 9, 2009

Weekly Geeks Quote a Day: My favorite quote

Today we spotlight my all-time favorite quote, which can also be found in the Poor Kitten's Almanac section in the sidebar:

"A lot of comedy is tragedy plus time." --Carol Burnett

I try to see the humor in most things. And if I can't see it right away, over time, I start to see a situation's humor. There are some life problems that don't have any humor at all, but most of the time, I can sense some of the funnier elements.

To me, a sense of humor is vital for survival in this life. Without humor, I would seriously be a dead woman today.

And that's no joke.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Note to Self: 30 Women on Hardship, Humiliation, Heartbreak, and Overcoming it All, edited by Andrea Buchanan

I know that my "Currently Reading" section indicates that I'm still reading The Pillars of the Earth. I still am. I'm currently on page 600. However, it recently occurred to me that I need to read other books as I'm reading those for my Chunkster Challenge; if I don't, I won't get to the 100+ book goal for J.Kaye's 100+ Reading Challenge.

Not only that, but one of my book clubs is meeting tomorrow, and this was the selection. I knew I had to buckle down and whiz through it, pronto. I started either last Wednesday or Thursday night and finished it this afternoon. It's a quick read, but not something that you can whip through entirely on a Sunday afternoon. There are thirty essays in here, and it's best to read about four or five of them at a time, so that you can reflect upon what you have read.

I thought that this was apropos to read, given the times that we're living in right now. Many women are facing hardship, humiliation, and heartbreak right now. I thought that this anthology would be an enlightening, feel-good read that would help liven the spirits of a woman who is facing hard times. This book does exactly that. The essays are all very honest and real, and in most cases, the emotions are raw. There's no sugar-coating in any of these essays, and while most of them end on an upbeat note, they don't end with a neatly packaged ending wrapped in a pretty pink bow.

Some of the situations that these women face are absolutely heartbreaking. Melinda McGraw writes with much candor about her daughter's premature birth, as well as the heart attack she suffered the day she was supposed to be discharged from the hospital after giving birth. Maisie McInerney, who, at 13, is the youngest contributor to the book, writes with a maturity and grace that is well beyond her years. She writes about her diagnosis with juvenile arthritis and the effects her subsequent treatment had on her life. Katie Hnida, the first woman to play college football, recalls the harassment she faced from her fellow players on the Colorado University Buffaloes football team. Maile Zambuto, director of the Joyful Heart Foundation, recounts her years of sexual abuse at the hands of one of her teachers.

The subject matter in most of these essays is very heavy, but there are a couple that are humorous, such as Kathleen Dennehy's recollections of her New York therapist, as well as Annabelle Gurwitch's memories of guest-starring on the 1990s version of Hollywood Squares. I'm glad that these were in there to lighten the load. As I mentioned before, I had to put the book down after I read some of the heavier material, because I didn't know how much more I could take.

Each essay ends with a little "note to self," or a life lesson learned from the experience of hardship, humiliation, or heartbreak. Some of these notes to self include the following, which are taken directly from the book's back cover:

"Only you can determine the moments that define you." --Katie Hnida

"You can only command an audience when you know your self worth." --Kathy Najimy

"If you stand just an inch away from the edge of the tapestry, you can't see the whole pattern." --Cal Peacock

"If somebody treated your best friend as badly as you treat yourself, you'd kick their ass." --Camryn Manheim (This one's my personal favorite).

Overall, Note to Self is a worthwhile read, especially for those who have experienced some hardship, heartbreak, and humiliation. All of the women in this book tell stories that people can relate to, and readers will be inspired by how these women were able to overcome their odds. The best part about this book is its lack of saccharine; while the conclusions to the essays are satisfying, for the most part, they're not overly sentimental. I think I appreciated that most of all.

This is the latest entry in my 100+ Reading Challenge, my A to Z Challenge, my Pub Challenge, my Read Your Own Books Challenge, and my Dewey Decimal Challenge. Click on the buttons in the sidebar for all of the latest updates, as well as archives of past reads!

Clip of the Week: Extreme Knitting

A friend of mine recently E-mailed me this clip of a woman who knit a piece with 1,000 strands of yarn. This shows how she did it:


Weekly Geeks Quote a Day: Deep Thoughts

Since this week's Weekly Geeks has its participants posting a quote a day, I thought I'd start off with some very deep thoughts...that is, some Deep Thoughts courtesy of Jack Handey. (Remember Jack Handey? From SNL in the 90s?)

"Dad always thought laughter was the best medicine, which I guess is why several of us died of tuberculosis."

"Maybe in order to understand mankind, we have to look at the word itself: 'Mankind.' Basically, it's made up of two separate words: 'mank' and 'ind'. What do these words mean? It's a mystery, and that's why so is mankind."

"I hope if dogs ever take over the world, and they choose a king, they don't just go by size, because I bet there are some Chihuahuas with some good ideas."

"Ambition is like a frog sitting on a Venus flytrap. The flytrap can bite and bite, but it won't bother the frog because it only has little tiny plant teeth. But some other stuff could happen and it could be like ambition."

"The face of a child can say it all, especially the mouth part of the face."

"I'd rather be rich than stupid." (I like this one especially; I'm adding it to Poor Kitten's Almanac in the sidebar.)

"If you define cowardice as running away at the first sign of danger, screaming and tripping and begging for mercy, then yes, Mr. Brave Man, I guess I'm a coward."

"The memories of my family outings are a source of strength to me. I remember we'd all pile into the car--I forget what kind it was--and drive and drive. I'm not sure where we'd go, but I think there were some trees there. The smell of something was strong in the air as we played whatever sport we played. I remember a bigger, older guy we called 'Dad.' We'd eat some stuff, or not, and then I think we went home. I guess some things never leave you."

"Blow ye winds, like the trumpet blows, but without the noise."

And later this week, I'll be highlighting some quotes that you, Kittens, have already contributed via the comments section. If you haven't contributed your favorite pearls of wisdom yet, comment away!

Book Giveaway Carnival winner...

And the winner of The Story of Edgar Sawtelle, according to the happy machine at Random.org, is...

#144.

And that lucky entrant was...

MEG89, AUTHOR OF THE AWESOME BLOG, LITERARY MENAGERIE!!!

Meg, I'm shooting off an E-mail soon, where I will ask for your address so I can send you this wonderful book. Thanks to everyone who entered! There's another contest coming soon...possibly non-book related!

Happy Sunday Kittens!

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Weekly Geeks: A Quote a Day

This week's offering over at Weekly Geeks has its participants posting a quote a day over the coming week. I'm going to participate in this one; you'll get to know seven of my favorite quotes.

There's a section in my right sidebar that's sorely neglected, but I love it because I love quotes. It's called "Poor Kitten's Almanac," and I developed it to showcase a rotation of my favorite quotes. However, I haven't had a chance to devote anything to it lately.

So I'm going to expand the Weekly Geeks theme and throw this out to all of you, Kittens: What are your favorite quotes? Leave 'em in the comments, or send me an E-mail at thebookkitten@gmail.com.

I look forward to hearing from you, and highlighting some pearls of wisdom!

Exhaustion...

Hello, Kittens...

I haven't blogged since my Thursday Thunks...unless you also count my Book Giveaway Carnival update that I did before this one...but I have been a busy busy Bookkitten!

Last night I indulged in one of my other great loves...scrapbooking. I went with four other girlfriends. We spent a lot of quality girl time together, and had a lot of sorely-needed laughs. It was a great night...we spent more time laughing than scrapping...which often makes the best memories. :)

I was up till 2 AM, getting my house together for Mama Cat's visit. For those readers who are living in their own places, and have any relatives come over (especially parents and/or in-laws, if you've got 'em), do you feel more pressure getting your house clean for them than you do for friends? I mean, no matter how clean and sterile I get my condo, Mama Cat will find something out of place or with a speck of dust on it. So I tidied up till 2 AM, then woke up at 6 to continue the job.

The purpose for Mama Cat's visit?

She helped me clean closets today.

Oh, the irony...

But at least I have a clean condo...and clean, organized kitchen and linen closets.

After we cleaned we went to the diner for lunch, then I took Mama Cat to our new Aldi. I told her a lot about what Aldi was like, and she was curious about the really cheap prices. She was really impressed.

Funny little story about the Aldi experience...I took a quarter out of my wallet, and explained to Mama Cat that you had to make a quarter deposit in order to get a cart. One woman saw us coming into the store, and she gave us her cart, quarter and all.

"Don't you want your quarter back?" Mama Cat asked.

"No," said the woman, "someone else gave it to me with the quarter already in the slot."

We thanked the woman for the cart and entered the store.

When we left, Mama Cat found another person looking for a cart, and she gave our cart to them. She told me that she felt bad stealing someone else's quarter. (The quarter is stuck in the slot till you return the cart to its station).

So I've been home since, numbering entries for the Book Giveaway Carnival, and really, really needing to take a nap. I'm bummed that Daylight Savings Time starts tomorrow. Out of all the times to lose an hour's sleep, why'd it have to be this weekend?!?! WHY?!?!?

OK...even though it's 5:16 PM, it's still naptime.

Off to the couch I go...see you later, Kittens!

Last chance to enter the Book Giveaway Carnival!

If you still haven't entered my contest for the Book Giveaway Carnival, where I'm giving away my copy of The Story of Edgar Sawtelle, you have until 11:59 EST tonight to get yourself a chance. Tomorrow, I am choosing the lucky winner!

The winner's name will be announced here on the blog, and if you left me your E-mail address in the comments, will also be notified via E-mail.

Once again, thanks for your enthusiasm! I can't wait to see who the lucky winner's gonna be!! :)

UPDATE, 4:51 PM: I just tried out Random.org, the random number generator, just to see if it would work, since as of now, counting Twitters, blog posts, and followers, I have 293 entries. Now that I've figured it out, choosing a winner will be easier than I thought!

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Thursday Thunks: March 5, 2009

Dedicated this week to Pooba, who said that I owe my readers at least one meme. :)

1. This cat- Link- scary or cute?
Cute in a very sad way. Poor kitty!

2. Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes reproducing again. Good idea or don't care?
Jimmy crack corn, and I don't care,
Jimmy crack corn, and I don't care,
Jimmy crack corn, and I don't care,
I wish they'd go away!

3. Do you smile at strangers when you make eye contact?
Mama Cat always told me never to talk to strangers. Or make eye contact with them, for that matter. :P

4. What percentage of your sarcasm isn't really sarcasm at all?
Moi? Sarcastic? Who ya calling sarcastic?
Truthfully, zero percent.

5. If you were to be a dog breed, which breed would you be?
A lab. I'm very loyal to my friends--right, Pooba? ;)

6. Go grab the closest book. Open up to page 27. Whats the 4th sentence?
"Even at the height of their popularity, these programs offended a number of people for a number of reasons." --Punished by Rewards, by Alfie Kohn

7. When's the last time someone put one over on you, told you a story that you totally fell for when it wasn't anywhere near true?
I can't remember the last time, but back in college, my freshman year, a friend of mine had convinced all of our mutual friends that he and his girlfriend were getting married. It tunred out not to be true; in fact, they broke up five months later.

8. Ever seen Michael Jackson in person?
No. I was too young to see any of the Victory tour, and by the time he last toured I had lost interest in his music.

9. Do you have a gut?
I always listen to my gut. It never fails me. I have good intuition.

10. What is one thing in your kitchen you have too many/too much of?
Lentils. I was into making lentil soup for a while, but haven't made it all winter.

11. Ever had a colon cleansing?
Yes, I have, and what better note to end this week's Thursday Thunks on? Ya glad I decided to do this? I am! :)

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Writers Workshop: Normal is...

Here's the definition of the word "normal" according to the 1998 edition of the Webster's American College Dictionary:

1. conforming to the standard or the common type; usual; regular; natural.
2. serving to fix a standard.
3. of natural occurrence.
4. approximately average in any psychological trait, as intelligence, personality, or emotional adjustment.
5. free from any mental disorder; sane.
6. free from disease or malformation.
7. a. being at right angles, as a line; perpendicular.
b. of the nature of or pertaining to a mathematical normal.
8. the normal form or state; the average or mean.
9. the standard or common type.

I'm stopping at #9, since #10 deals with math and more perpendicular lines, and I'm worn out from the other definitions.

Let's analyze these definitions, shall we, Kittens? I'm really bothered by the word "conforming" used in the first one. I don't like that word. To me, conforming means that one has to be the same as everyone else. Conformity leaves no room for individuality. Conformity means one can't celebrate one's true self. Conformity sucks.

Definition #2: "serving to fix a standard." Well, whose job is it to set that standard? And how did that person obtain the power/means to set a standard? The same standard can mean different things to different people. Who decides what normal is? This leads to people being judgmental. That sucks, too.

Definition #3: "of natural occurrence." How did we determine what is natural? Who determines what is natural from what is artificial? We can create artificial chemicals from so-called natural materials. So is artificial natural?

Definition #4: I object to the word "average." Here's what average means to me: dull. Boring. Ordinary. Average, for me, represents beige, brown and ecru. Who determines what is average? How did this person get to determine what is average? Could it be the process of natural selection (see #3)? Was Darwin the one who separated the natural from the artificial?

Definition #5: "free of any mental disorder; sane." This irritates me the most. As a life-long sufferer of anxiety and its best buddy, depression, this immediately disqualifies me from being "normal." I will not let a dictionary determine whether or not I am qualified to meet a standard.

Definition #6: "free from disease or malformation." Again, Webster's Dictionary, you're pissing me off. I have asthma. So that means I'm not normal? That means I'm a freak?

Definition #7: OK, we're getting into math here, and I'm not a mathematician. I'm skipping over this one.

Definition #8: Again, more math here. Next.

Definition #9: "the standard or common type." Again, who determines what's standard? What's common?

My point is this: normal is bogus. I don't think there is such a thing as normal. We all need to celebrate our own individuality and not let society, or anyone else, tell us how to be. I'm going to celebrate my quirks and be proud of the person I am, and I hope that y'all do the same!

Kitten has spoken.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Thank you for entering the Book Giveaway Carnival!

I am absolutely blown away by the number of entries I've received for the Book Giveaway Carnival! Thanks for participating, Kittens!

I've also noticed that the number of followers has increased since yesterday! Wow! For those of you who are new, welcome! Make yourselves at home! I promise I'll visit you all very soon, if I haven't yet!

This is going to be a busy week for me. I'm going out to dinner tomorrow night, dropping my car off for repairs Thursday night (nothing major, not to worry), having company Friday night, and Saturday, Mama Cat's paying a visit.

In other words, for the regular readers out there, you may not see the usual weekly memes or content. (Famous last words, I know, from someone who can post up to five or six times a day). I'm also really getting into The Pillars of the Earth. I'm currently on page 327! Woot!

Anyhoo, that's enough for now. Again, a big welcome to the newcomers! See y'all real soon!

Luck be a lady tonight!

Thanks to everyone for the lovely birthday wishes! You made me feel so special!! :) :)

Anyway, here's how I decided to celebrate today. A colleague of mine suggested I play the lottery. I never do this unless Powerball's worth $300 million or thereabouts, but I decided, with the mathematical significance of my birthday, why the heck not?

Sooo...I went to Sunoco today and played three lottery games:
  • First I played a scratch game called "Beginners Luck." I bought three tickets. The object of the game was to match three identical dollar amounts. If you did, you won that prize. I came up short in each of them. For one I had two $3,000 amounts! Alas, no 3rd amount. :(
  • Then I bought a Play 3 ticket. You play 3 numbers, any one you want. My choice? 3-3-3. (Should've gone with 3-3-9. I'm out later tonight, I may just do that).
  • Finally, I bought a Powerball ticket and chose six numbers that were all multiples of three. The drawing's tomorrow night; wish me luck!

I'll let you know how I do!

Monday, March 2, 2009

Kitten's 2009 A to Z Challenge

I found this challenge from a new book blog that I found through Kim. This new site is called S. Krishna's Books and I'm going to add it to my reader.

But first, Kittens, my latest reading challenge. I know, I know, you've all commented on how many I join, but seriously, go visit S.Krishna's place. This blogger makes me look like an amateur when it comes to reading challenges.

My newest challenge is the A to Z Challenge, sponsored by Becky.

There are five options for completing this challenge:

Option A: Read authors A to Z. Commit to reading 26 books theoretically speaking.

Option B: Read titles A to Z. Commit to reading 26 books theoretically speaking.

Option C: Read both authors A to Z and titles A to Z (52 books; this is the challenge Joy created)

Option D: Read internationally A to Z (books representing 26 different countries) (The books could be from international authors (writers from that country); however, it's fine if a book is only set in that country. If need be, instead of countries one could use cities, states, regions, etc. The idea is to use proper place names. If you'd like you could even use a few fictional countries.)

Option E: Read 26 Alphabet books. Embrace your inner child and go visit the children's section!

I'm going with Option A, reading 26 authors from A to Z.

Here's the list, updated July 31, 2009:

A: Adams, Richard. Watership Down.

B: Buchanan, Andrea, ed. Note to Self: 30 Women on Hardship, Humiliation, Heartbreak, and Overcoming It All.

C: Corrigan, Kelly. The Middle Place.

D: Davis, Michael. Street Gang: The Complete History of Sesame Street.

E: Eggers, Dave. A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius.

F: Follett, Ken. The Pillars of the Earth.

G: Gerhart, Ann. The Perfect Wife: The Life and Choices of Laura Bush.

H: Harris, Joanne. Gentlement and Players.

I: Ironside, Virginia. No! I Don't Want to Join a Book Club: Diary of a 60th Year

J: Jacobs, A.J. The Know-It-All: One Man's Quest to Become the Smartest Man in the World.

K: Knisley, Lucy. French Milk.

M: Mortenson, Greg and David Oliver Relin. Three Cups of Tea.

N: Naylor, Clare and Hare, Mimi. The Second Assistant.

O: Obama, Barack. The Audacity of Hope.

P: Phillips, Marie. Gods Behaving Badly.

Q: Quindlen, Anna. Rise and Shine.

R: Redmont, Jane. When in Doubt, Sing: Prayer in Daily Life.

S: Sittenfeld, Curtis: American Wife.

X: Xinran. Sky Burial.

2009 Blog Improvement Project, Week 5: Social Media

Welcome, Kittens, to the latest installment of my 2009 Blog Improvement Project, brought to you by Kim at Sophisticated Dorkiness.
This week's installment concerns the use of social media applications such as Facebook, Twitter, Digg, Delicious, and Technorati.

I will be completely honest here, Kittens: up till six months ago, I thought I was pretty techno-savvy. I mean, I thought I was with it. Alas, I am not. I have no idea how Technorati, Digg, or Delicious work. I see their little icons whenever I go to embed a video in a post, or at the end of an article I read on Yahoo! News. But I just don't know what their function or purpose is. And if I can't understand what their function or purpose is, I don't use it. Period.

I use Twitter, and I like it, but I still don't completely understand how it works. I originally installed Twitter to update my blog during those moments when I didn't have time to update it. I enjoy coming up with little one-or-two phrase entries that update my fellow readers on the Life o' Kitten. However, I don't understand the whole concept of "following" on Twitter. In this respect, Twitter, to me, seems like glorified text messaging. I have a steady stream of Twitter followers, but I don't have my cell phone programmed to receive Twitter messages from anyone else. So if you follow me on Twitter, and you haven't heard from me, or have been able to respond to my witticisms, I apologize. I'll have to look more into this when I get the chance.

I don't want to let social media overwhelm my life. I think my social media life is pretty full with Twitter, blogging, and Facebook. I don't want to be a slave to all of this networking...in fact, the very thought of it is overwhelming me as I type this. I'm getting a bit sleepy. Is it all this talk of Twittering, or is it the herbal tea I just finished drinking?

Book Giveaway Carnival: The Story of Edgar Sawtelle

Tracy over at Bookroom Reviews is hosting a Book Giveaway Carnival this week.


And as a participant, I am giving away my copy of The Story of Edgar Sawtelle by David Wroblewski.

How do you enter this giveaway? It's easy!

1. Comment on this post. You'll earn one entry.

2. Follow this blog, or remind me that you're a follower. You'll earn five additional entries. (But don't post comments five times about this, please).

3. Follow me on Twitter. You'll earn two additional entries.

4. Post this contest on your blog and link back to me. You'll earn three additional entries.

This contest ends at midnight March 7th, 2009. The winner will be announced March 8th here on this blog.

Good luck to all my Kittens!

Sunday, March 1, 2009

I can haz some awards!





I'm a little behind in some of the awards posting, so here we go:

First of all, That.Girl has given me two awards. First up is the Honest Scrap Award:


The rules are simple for the Honest Scrap Award: all you have to do is list ten honest things about yourself. Without further ado:
1. I love to wash dishes.
2. I once dyed my hair black--but it was blue-black--and it came out purple. :P

3. I can't stand peas or lima beans.

4. Parts of my back molars don't have any tooth enamel.

5. Twins run in my family. When my mother originally got pregnant with me, her doctor originally thought she was having twins.
6. I'm afraid of snakes.
7. My first pet was a chipmunk that lived in the wall of our house.
8. Prince Charles is my mother's cousin 17 times removed.
9. The New York Times is my favorite newspaper.
10. I enjoy watching infomercials.
That.Girl also bestowed the Sisterhood Award upon me:
Drollgirl has also given out several awards to her peeps. First up, the Lemonade Award:
Next, we have the Kreativ Blogger Award:


And I bestow this award on...all my bloggy friends! Y'all are awesome and deserving and encouraging! You rock!