Sunday, May 31, 2009

Morning people suck!!!

I am not a morning person.

I used to be one, however. When I was in school and living at home, I loved getting up early, reading the paper with my dad, drinking my tea and eating my breakfast, then getting on the bus. I was just one of those people who bounced out of bed and was ready to face the day.

Things changed, though, when I became an adult with my own place, my own bills, and my own set of responsibilities.

The older I get, the harder it is for me to get out of my nice, cozy bed in the morning--especially when it's dark out. I'm talking, the-sun-doesn't-rise-till-7:15 type of difficult. My alarm rings at 5:45--the latest possible time for me to arise, shower, dress, breakfast, and be out the door and on time for work. I have a 20-to-25 minute commute, and I like to get to work early so I can clear my head and focus on the day's agenda.

During the depths of my depression, it was almost impossible for me to get out of bed, so I set two alarms. I set my alarm clock on my nightstand, plus I set the TV in the living room to turn on fifteen minutes before my alarm went off. I have a loft bedroom, so the light from the TV helped me awaken.

But I also had other reasons for setting the TV to go on.

We have a morning weatherman who, while having the potential to be an annoying morning person, is one who helps me start my day on a decent note. Every morning, at 5:55:55, he rings a cowbell to signal the time. During these days, I relied on that cowbell as the final signal for me to drag my ass out of bed. I'd stay in bed till the cowbell, then slowly, but surely, arise.

After a while, he stopped ringing the cowbell. I sent him an E-mail, which he read on the air. He's been ringing that cowbell ever since.

These days I'm not setting the TV, but I still have a hard time getting up at the appropriate hour. I have learned to take shortcuts during my bedtime routine to maximize my morning sleep minutes. I shower, prepare my lunch, select my outfit, set the Keurig, and set out my work supplies before I go to bed. This streamlines my routine, so I am not frazzled in the AM.

Oh, and a word about coffee. I didn't start drinking the stuff on a routine basis till three years ago. That was when my depression got worse. Since then, I've relied on the java to jolt me awake, and not just for the caffeinated effects. I really enjoy my morning coffee; it's a comforting part of my routine.

Now, I've told you all about my difficulty waking up. I haven't told you my rules to deal with me before 9 AM, when I am usually fully awake, and up and at 'em:

1. Don't talk to me. If you must, keep the conversation light, with simple, preferably monosyllabic, vocabulary.
2. Don't talk to me especially if you're one of those extra-perky, life is perfect, rose-colored-glasses morning people. I resent your morning attitude. If I have offended any of you, kittens, I apologize, but please, don't piss off my kind before 9 AM.
3. Don't DARE say "Good morning" to me. Just say "Hello," or a simple, "Morning." Some mornings are better than others; there are mornings that just aren't that good, either.

Now Saturdays and Sundays I'm much happier in the AM because I get to sleep in and get up on my own time. I get to pace my AM routine the way I want it to: slowly. I take the time to ease into the morning. I drink my coffee for pure enjoyment, not the caffeine rush.

Of course, it would help if I weren't such a Night Owl. I love the nighttime. That's when I'm at my best, my most creative, my most productive, my happiest. All the good stuff happens at night. I love to stay up late and watch all the late-night talk shows (especially Conan and Colbert), and I love to fall asleep to those late-night infomercials. During the week I can stay up till 11:30 or midnight.

Of course, as the week progresses, I fall asleep between 9:30 and 10 PM. That's all right with me.

But no matter how much sleep I get, I dread that 5:45 alarm.

Speaking of which, it's 10 PM. I've had a long weekend, filled with dogs waking me up at the ass-crack of dawn, and it's time for me to get some shuteye.

Good night, dear kittens, and please, if you're a morning person, show some respect for the non-morning people. :)

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Housesitting and bored...

This morning, as I was doing the blog update, Celia wrote a post about how her critter wakes her up at 6:45 on a Saturday morning.

Boy can I relate today.

I'm housesitting two dogs that are true creatures of habit. Their owners get up at 5 AM during the workweek, and the way that they woke me up this morning, on the weekends.

The guest room has no alarm clock, or rather, and alarm clock with the incorrect time. So I kept tossing and turning and waking up in anticipation for the golden retriever to trot into the guest room. Goldens are the canine version of morning people. At least they're more likable than morning people.

So the dog trots in at what I assume is 5 AM...and it turns out to be 4:43. I figured it was just as well that I got up, so I let them out to do their business, fed them, and let them out again.

I went back to bed at 5:30, only to be awakened again by Mr. Happy at 7:06. (This time I brought my cell phone up to bed with me, so I could at least know the time). I went back downstairs, let 'em out again, and decide to fall back asleep on the couch--which I did, till 10:00.

So right now I'm blogging while watching Travel Channel. I brought my current books, but I just don't feel like reading. There's not much for me to do right now, and I'm bored.

It's a lovely day, and there's porch furniture, but it's got plastic covering and I don't quite feel like pulling it off and putting it back on again.

Maybe I'll go shower now.

At least I'll feel somewhat productive.

Friday, May 29, 2009

VGNO: I'm Migraine Barbie!!!!


Good evening, kittens, and welcome to another Virtual Girls' Night Out, hosted by Ann at Ann Again...and Again. This is my first VGNO in a few weeks, and I'm happy to be back! I've missed talking with you all!

Anyhoo, if you want to sign up for the blog-hopping fun, leave a comment over at Ann's. She's having Mr. Linky issues right now, so dig through the comments to see who else is participating. I've never understood how to put a Mr. Linky up on my blog; the directions were very confusing!

Anyhoo, tonight's party game is over at Ann's, if you want to participate. The first letter of your first name determines which Barbie you are. I'm Migraine Barbie. Weird, since I only get headaches three or four times a year, if that. Out of that, one is usually a migraine. Fortunately my migraines aren't so bad that I need to take medication, but I just sleep it off. Which isn't such a bad cure for a migraine.

Tonight I am housesitting. Now don't worry, kittens, I am not baking this weekend, so there will be no repeat of the butter incident. It's a different house, and dogs, than the butter-eating one. It's their next door neighbor. They have satellite TV, a hot tub, and lots of blissful quiet. I'm really enjoying myself. Don't get me wrong, I love my house and my kitties, but it's always nice to get away for a brief spell. I've already used the bathtub, am in my PJs, and am tres content.

Tomorrow is our church goods and services auction. I'll be assisting the auctioneer in recording all of the goods and services that are sold in the ledger, so I can announce, at the end of the evening, how much money we made. Then, on Sunday, I'm giving a 2-3 minute speech at church and hosting coffee hour. Oh, and did I mention that I was nominated as the clerk to the Board of Trustees?

Yes, I am one busy Bookkitten. I am also a glutton for punishment.

Tonight, as you see, I've updated my buttons and my blogroll. Now I need to go update my reading challenges, since I added two more this week, and am about to add a third. Again, I need to remind you that I am a glutton for punishment. Fortunately most of these challenges allow crossovers, which is how I'm able to balance things out.

So those are the goings-on in the Life o' Kitten. Drop me a line and let me know how you are!

Friday Shoot-Out: Water, water everywhere!

It's my first Friday Shoot-Out, kittens! I first found out about this through Reggie Girl. I left her a comment last week, saying that I'd like to participate in this week's version, and she wrote back and said she'd hold me to it! Well, I can't let Reggie down! She's a great girl and has such an awesome blog!

And a few days ago, Reggie's friend Patty, who is co-moderator of the Friday Shoot-Out, E-mailed me a welcome. She's got a cool blog, too, filled with awesome shots of small-town America.

Well, I don't live in small-town America, but rather, mid-sized city America. Our theme this week was water, and my town is full of it!

We start off at Wadsworth Falls, one of the most spectacular waterfalls in our fair state. (Please be aware, kittens, that I wrote that last sentence before I linked to the website for the falls. The link has an identical sentence.)

Here are the falls as you approach the banks of the Coginchaug River:

I love this shot:

There's a little platform at the top of the falls where you can stand and watch them go over the rocks. Here's a view looking straight down. I estimate that it's a 20-foot drop (but I am horrible at estimation):
Before you come to the main falls, there's a very small waterfall that goes underneath short bridge:
I've always loved looking at rushing water in a river:

This afternoon I took a walk in Harbor Park for our next set of shots, and found this neat old water pump:
Here's a shot of the bend in the Connecticut River, which forms the southern border of my town:

If you look very closely, at the top of the hill you'll find one of the main buildings of Connecticut Valley Hospital:
Here's a boat docked next to Harbor Park Restaurant. There's a barge right behind it. Harbor Park's the home of the Head of the Connecticut Regatta, which is held every October:
And here's the Arrigoni Bridge, one of the symbols of our town. It connects Middletown with Portland.
Cross the Arrigoni over to Portland and you'll find the historic Portland Brownstone Quarries.
You know those brownstone houses that you see in New York City? They're made of good ol' Portland brownstone!

The quarries flooded after a flood in 1936 and a hurricane in 1938. There have been many attempts to drain them, all unsuccessful. Recently they were converted into an outdoor recreation area. In this photo, if you look closely, you'll see a zipline. You can zip from one side of the quarry to the other, and if you want to, dive right in!

A smaller version of the brownstone quarries opened about fifteen years ago to supply materials for renovation and small construction projects.
Did I also mention that the quarries are on the list of National Historic Landmarks? town sure has a lot of the wet stuff! I hope I followed all of the Shoot-Out directions all right! If I didn't...well, this was my first time, please forgive me! I still think these were great photos!
I can't wait to see next week's theme!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Summer Vacation Reading Challenge

I found this reading challenge via Jenners, who found it via Molly at My Cozy Book Nook. I thought it was a cute idea for a challenge. The goal is to "travel to a different locale that perhaps you would like to visit."

Dates: This challenge started last Friday, May 22, and will end on Labor Day, September 7, 2009.

Requirements: There are two levels of participation in this challenge:

Beach Bum: you will read 3 books during this time frame (a leisurely book-a-month); cross-over book selections from other challenges may count; and you do not have to list books in advance -- after all, summer vacation is a time for spontaneity.

Globe Trotter: you will commit to reading 6 pre-selected books during this time frame, but you may substitute up to 3 books due to changes in travel plans. Cross-overs for 5 out of the 6 books are allowed, but ideally one book will be read for this challenge alone.

I'm going to stick with the Globe Trotter level, and here's where I plan to visit:
  • The Big House, by George Howe Colt. I'm a New Englander who's never been to Cape Cod. Go figure. This is about a summer home on the Cape that's been in a family for centuries. This will be my one book read solely for this challenge.
  • The Power of One, by Bryce Courtenay. This is billed as "The Classic Novel of South Africa." Sister Kitten's been there, but not me.
  • In a Sunburned Country, by Bill Bryson. I've always dreamed of visiting Australia, and Bill Bryson is one of my favorite authors.
  • A Year in Provence, by Peter Mayle. This has been on my bookshelf for years, and I've dreamed of visiting Provence and its lavender fields some day...
  • Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, by Lisa See. I can't wait to visit China!
  • Bella Tuscany, by Frances Mayes. I read Under the Tuscan Sun a few years ago, and Tuscany's been lingering in my head ever since...

So that's probably going to be the last of my challenges this year! Wish me luck!

The Take a Chance Challenge

Chance Challenge

My pal Jenners is an absolute whiz at creating games and challenges. This is her first reading challenge and it is rawther creative! Since Jenners invited me personally, how could I not pass this up?

Here are the rules, taken directly from Jenners's blog (with comments and additions of italics and other font changes by yours truly):

There are 10 tasks in all -- 7 involve finding a book to read in very random ways. The last three tasks are about taking chances as a writer as you are challenged to take on the role of short story writer, poet and movie/book reviewer. The challenge is meant to be fun and no pressure. Complete as many or a few of the 10 challenges as you want.

Here are the details:
1. The challenge will run from June 1, 2009 through November 30, 2009 (6 months)
One winner will be drawn on December 1, 2009 and will receive a grand prize of $25 worth of books from Amazon (any books you choose!)
2. Each completed task earns you one entry into the drawing for the grand prize.
3. To earn an extra entry, blog or Tweet about this challenge and let me know in the comment section.
To earn 5 extra entries, complete all 10 challenges.
The total number of entries that can be earned is 16 (10 for each challenge, 5 for completing all tasks and 1 for blogging/tweeting about the challenge).
4. You can join the challenge anytime before the November 30 deadline but only tasks completed by November 30, 2009 will be counted as entries.
5. To have your entries count, you must publish them on your blog and leave a comment with a link to your entries in the comment section for this post.

So now, without further ado, here are the 10 challenges for you to work on.

1. Random Book Selection. 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!)

2. 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.

3. Birth Year Book. Find a book that was published or copyrighted in the year of your birth. Read the book and write about it.

4. Judge A Book By Its Cover. Pick out a book based SOLELY on the cover. First, write about what you expect the book to be about based on the cover art. Then read the book and write about how the book was different from and/or similar to what the cover art led you to expect.

5. Phoning An Author. Pick a random last name out of the phone book. Find an author with the same last name and read a book by them. Write about it. (I'm flexible ... if the first random name you pick is Xprxyrsss, you can pick again!)

6. Public Spying. Find someone who is reading a book in public. Find out what book they are reading and then read the same book. Write about it.

7. Random Bestseller. Go to and, using the True Random Number Generator, enter the number 1950 for the min. and 2008 for the max. and then hit generate. Then go to this site and find the year that generated for you and click on it. Then find the bestseller list for the week that would contain your birthday for that year. Choose one of the bestsellers from the list that comes up, read it and write about it.

8. Lit Riff (inspired by the book Lit Riffs by Matthew Miele.) Choose a song and then write a brief story that is inspired by or further explains the lyrics of the song.

9. Poetic Review. Write a book review in three different forms of verse: haiku, limerick and free verse. (You can pick any book you want to write about.)

10. Movie/Book Comparison. Find a book that you haven't read that has a movie based on it that you haven't seen. Read the book and watch the movie within a few days of each other. Write about your reactions to both the book and the movie and compare the two.

It's very likely that #10 is going to be the most difficult one for me. As some of you know I'm not a huge movie person. However...I'm planning to read The Time Traveler's Wife this summer, and the movie is coming out soon...


Anyhoo, check out Jenners' blog for some other fun stuff. I wish I had a fourth of her creativity!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

French Milk, by Lucy Knisley

This, kittens, brought back soooooooooo many memories for me.

Lucy Knisley is an aspiring cartoonist. This book was the journal that she kept as she and her mother took a six-week trip to Paris between Christmas of 2006 and New Year's of 2007. Both mother and daughter were celebrating milestone birthdays; mom was turning 50, Lucy 22.

Lucy's journal is handwritten and full of whimsical drawings, cartoons, and photos of her stay in Paris. She and her mom rented a small one bedroom apartment in the fifth arrondissement. The apartment makes occasional appearances in the book, under the title "Strange Things About the Apartment." For example:

"There's this standing screen in the corner of the living room featuring fabric printed with hunting/gam paraphernalia...part of why I can't sleep well here is that the sounds at night are unfamiliar--I lie awake thinking: "What the hell was that?! Heat painting scares off any burglars!" (p. 87)

Lucy has a real cartoonist's eye. At the time she wrote the journal, she was a senior at the Art Institute of Chicago, trying to figure out her life post-graduation. Many entries in this journal address her fears of what could happen once college was over: Would she be able to find a job? Get into grad school? Maintain an apartment? Lucy articulates her fears well, not just with her simple writing, but with her wonderful cartoons, which show a lot of emotion and detail.

This is an incredibly sensual book, and not just visually. Lucy includes many, many entries on the delight that is French food. She loves to draw what she has for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and you'll be salivating over her descriptions over this terrific cuisine. You not only can visualize it, but you can almost smell and taste it at certain points.

This book, as I mentioned earlier in this review, brought back a lot of memories for me. I spent the first semester of my junior year of college in Paris. I was 20 at the time, and I remember a lot of the apprehension, angst, and fear I experienced as a twenty-something trying to make my way through the world. Lucy re-captured a lot of those feelings for me. She also made me realize just how much I miss Paris, and how I intend to go day...

French Milk is a very quick read; I finished it in a little over an hour. But the memories of it will linger for a very long time.

You can find Lucy Knisley's website here.

This is the latest entry in my 2009 100+ Reading Challenge, my 2009 Read Your Own Books Challenge, and my 2009 A to Z Challenge. Click on the buttons in the sidebar for all of the archived lists!

Gods Behaving Badly, by Marie Phillips

A special thanks to Jenners for this one. I found a review on her blog and I've been wanting to read it for quite some time. I'm so glad I did; it was well worth the wait!

We all remember the gods of Olympus, the band of 13 that we studied back in school, as these gorgeous, all-powerful, immortal creatures who ruled the earth from their mountaintop in Greece, with lots of muses and mortals worshipping them and offering up sacrifices in their names.

Now picture this same group of gods, living in squalor in a decaying flat in 21st-century London, their powers greatly reduced, and aging rapidly. This is the version of the Olympian gods that you'll meet in Gods Behaving Badly.

This novel, the debut work from Marie Phillips, is a rawther clever re-imagining of the Greek gods. Artemis, goddess of the hunt, works as a dog walker. Apollo, god of the sun, is attempting to earn a living as a TV psychic. Aphrodite, goddess of beauty, works as a phone sex operator. Dionysus, god of wine, has his own club, where the only alcohol sold is his extraordinarily potent wine. Eros, god of love, is now following the teachings of Jesus. There are many more re-imaginings of the gods in this novel, all just as clever as the ones I've just described.

Our story opens in London, where the former Olympians are now living in a filthy, rat-infested flat, and have been since they were banished from Olympus in 1665. Everyone is miserable in their surroundings. No one will listen to Athena's ideas for re-establishing themselves. Even though she is the goddess of wisdom, she is a poor communicator, no matter how many PowerPoint presentations she makes for her family. Demeter, goddess of the earth, is unable to make her garden grow. Artemis, the de facto leader of the household, wants out, but at the same time, recognizes the need to keep order within the chaos.

Enter Alice, a mortal who stops by the gods' flat one day, seeking a cleaning job. Artemis hires her, but gives her a three-page laminated list of rules that she must follow in order to keep her job. Among the rules: only speak when you're spoken to. This is no problem for Alice, who is very shy and introverted.

Then she meets Apollo, who falls in love with her--to the point of obsession--and the chaos soon begins. It all started out as a quarrel between he and Aphrodite, who gets Eros to intervene, and pretty soon, the situation escalates. The gods now find themselves in a battle for the survival of not just themselves, but for all humanity.

Marie Phillips took a big risk when she wrote this novel. It was a clever concept that she devised--imagining what the gods of Olympus would be like if they lived in our modern era--and in the wrong hands, this concept could have failed tremendously. However, she makes it work, and along the way, raises some pointed questions about humanity, faith, and belief. Why do humans believe what they believe? What happens when faith is lost? Is immortality all that it's cracked up to be?

Quite honestly, when I first read the summary at the back of this book, I was expecting it to be a lot more laugh-out-loud funny. There are some places where you will laugh, but even in the absence of gaffaws, there is an undercurrent of wit that readers can appreciate. You'll appreciate it even more, kittens, if you do a little research on the Greek gods either before or after you read; then you can see that Phillips really did her homework on this one.

In fact, go to and become a geek about your Greeks! (Sorry, had to throw that one in!)

This is the latest entry in my 2009 100+ Reading Challenge and my 2009 Read Your Own Books Challenge. Click on the buttons in the sidebar for all of the archived lists!

Monday, May 25, 2009

Clips of the Week: Julie and Carol: Together Again

Just found this out via Marcella's site...iTunes is selling a Julie and Carol special!!!!!!!!

It's the last one Julie Andrews and Carol Burnett did together, Julie and Carol: Together Again. I just finished downloading it to my iPod and am watching it right now!!!! How excited am I??!?!

Now all the have to do is get the other two Julie and Carol specials up and I'll be ecstatic!!!!

(Oh yeah, and throw in the complete seasons of The Muppet Show, that too much to ask?!?!)

In the meantime, kittens, watch some of these clips from Julie and Carol: Together Again.

First up, we have "The Tea Party," which has become something of a cult classic amongst hard-core Julie and Carol fans:

And now we have "The Mama's Rap":

If you're interested in the rest of the special, iTunes is selling it for $9.99.

Or...I could post two additional clips of the special upon request. ;)

The Da Vinci Code, by Dan Brown

For several years, I've had a few friends and acquaintances insist that I read The Da Vinci Code. I always resisted, given that I've never really liked mystery novels. But given that there have been several lists of "Books Everyone Should Read" that have contained this novel, I felt an obligation to read it, if only to check another one off the list.

(By the way, you can find posts about such lists here and here).

Anyway, back to the book. The Da Vinci Code was quite controversial when it was released, because the secret Catholic sect, Opus Dei, figured prominently into the plot. The plot itself centers around the location of the Holy Grail and the people who are entrusted to keep that secret.

Enter Robert Langdon, a Harvard art history professor who specializes in symbolism. One night, while he is on a trip to lecture at the American University in Paris, he is summoned to meet Jacques Sauniere, curator of the Louvre, for an important emergency meeting. Shortly before the two men are supposed to meet, Sauniere is found murdered, and Langdon is implicated as the prime suspect.

When the French police find Sauniere's body, they find a mysterious code and message. Enter Sophie Neveu, a cryptologist who is summoned to the murder scene--by Sauniere himself, before his death. Sauniere happens to be Sophie's grandfather.

I really don't know how I can write this review without giving away any spoilers--in fact, I may have just given some away. What follows is a complex, intriguing web of codes, getaways, and puzzles as Langdon and Sophie try to solve the mystery behind Sauniere's murder, as well as how Opus Dei and the Holy Grail figure in to the plot. Dan Brown is a masterful writer; he ends his chapters with surprising plot twists and new mysteries meant to keep the reader engaged. And boy, does he ever. Just when you think you need to put the book down to take a break from reading, something happens that makes you want to read more. And more. And more. I was on page 177 as of yesterday afternoon and finished the book over an hour ago.

The Da Vinci Code seems like one of those books where you learn something new each time you read it. My mother has re-read it three times. I plan to re-read it again sometime. Brown's research into the Holy Grail and the secret society of Opus Dei is thorough, precise, and intense. There was a lot of effort and care put into the craft of this novel, and it shows. No wonder the National Endowment for the Arts and the BBC endorsed it so heartily. (Which reminds me, I have to publish the BBC list sometime.)

You will absolutely NOT regret reading this book. The only regret you'll have is that you haven't read it sooner. That's how I feel.

Here are some more resources for you:

This is the latest entry in my 2009 100+ Reading Challenge, my 2009 2nds Challenge, and my 2009 Chunkster Challenge. Click on the buttons in the sidebar for all of the archived lists!

Never forget...

Remember those who gave their lives for us...
Memorial Day 2009

Sunday, May 24, 2009

It Sucked and Then I Cried, by Heather B. Armstrong

I read this at the same time that I'm currently reading The DaVinci Code. If I've learned anything about my reading habits in the past few months, it's that I can read two books at once. In fact, I'm going to add another button at the sidebar, "Also Currently Reading," so I can show all of my kittens every tome I'm engaged in.

I first learned about this book from my bloggy pal Pooba. The author originally had gained notoriety in 2002 for being one of the first bloggers to get fired because she wrote some very nasty things about her employer online. She took her blog down, moved to Utah with her husband, and started it up again, but didn't blog about work this time.

Instead, she blogged about such things as pregnancy, birth, and postpartum depression, all of which are chronicled in this book.

Armstrong makes it clear from the beginning that she did not like pregnancy. At all. She can be very graphic in her descriptions about the ways that pregnancy has changed her body and how it functions, especially when she writes about the way she has to contort herself in order to go to the bathroom. Anecdotes such as these can be downright whiny, but in other instances, are very comical.

One of the funniest chapters in the book was about the birth of Armstrong's daughter, Leta. The title, "Labor to the Tune of Janet Jackson's Nipple," says it all right there. Armstrong went into labor during the Super Bowl that had the infamous "wardrobe malfunction," and as she watched TV while giving birth, the nipple appeared again...and again...and again. She mentions this often as she also writes about how painful the whole process was.

Then Leta comes home, and baby makes three. Armstrong writes about the many life changes that she experiences as a new mother, from sleep deprivation to breastfeeding to sleep deprivation to packing one's whole life into the car for a ten minute drive and, oh, did I mention sleep deprivation? At the end of nearly every chapter, right after Leta's birth, Armstrong includes a letter that she writes to her daughter every month, on the anniversary of her arrival. She writes about Leta's growth milestones, to her favorite things, to how she swells up with love every time she looks at her daughter.

One of the things that intrigued me about this book, and one of the reasons why I borrowed it from the library, was its account on postpartum depression. Or rather, the book jacket summary promised an account on postpartum depression. I was expecting Armstrong to go more in depth about her experiences with this, but she doesn't. She devotes a chapter to it, when she checks into a mental hospital for treatment, but even so, she kind of glosses over it, save for several mentions in previous chapters. When she does write about it, she's very honest, open, and forthcoming about how she felt during this experience. I just wish she went into more detail about it.

It Sucked and Then I Cried definitely had its highs and lows. Truthfully, I was expecting much more out of this book than I actually got out of it. I found it was very disjointed and unorganized at points. It kind of read as if she took a series of posts from her blog,, and had them bound and sent them to a publisher. Maybe this book was meant to be read this way, but I wasn't too much of a fan of it.

I wasn't that disappointed with this book that I stopped reading it in the middle. It just didn't capture my attention that some other books are known to do.

That having been said, I suggest checking out some more of Armstrong's writing over at her blog. She's a great writer, very funny, frank, and honest, and you also get updates on what has happened since Leta was a baby. It's well worth the visit.

I just wish I could say the same for the book.

This is the latest entry in my 2009 100+ Reading Challenge, my 2009 Support Your Local Library Challenge, and my 2009 Pub Challenge. For all of the archives, click on the buttons in the right column.

Just back from Jersey

I am exhausted. Mama and Papa Cat picked me up from the condo at 2 PM yesterday, and dropped me off back home shortly after noon today. That's a whirlwind trip, all right.

The commutes to and from the Garden State were uneventful. We didn't witness any accidents or monster traffic jams, but we experienced a lot of people cutting us off, especially as we crossed the New York line. There were a lot of cars on the highway, given the holiday weekend, but we managed to get there in a little over two hours.

We stopped at my aunt and uncle's house before we checked into the hotel. Once we checked in, I realized that I left the 50th anniversary card on my dining room table. Off Papa Cat went to the Tar-jay across the way. Mama Cat went hunting for ice, found some, and then had me join her in the quest for snacks. We bought Doritos and pretzels--something light, as we were going to gorge heavily at the party.

We started getting dressed at 6. Mama Cat found a hole in her stockings. Off Papa Cat went to Tar-jay once again, this time to buy pantyhose. Mama Cat insisted that I join him, but Papa Cat said he could do it himself. And he did, much to the amazement of us all.

Then we went to the party. Now, kittens, for those of you who are not Italian, you need to understand three things about my people:

1. We like food.
2. We like wine.
3. We love food and wine together, especially in mass quantities at family gatherings.

I don't remember having so much wine. The wait staff kept replenishing the bottles whenever they were empty. Usually, at family gatherings such as this, Sister Kitten's the one to take the bottle and refill everyone's glasses. This time, the job fell to me, and I was more than happy to do it. I'm not normally a fan of Chianti, but this stuff tasted ever so good, and was sooooooo smooth going down.

We started off with the antipasti--artichoke hearts, sun-dried tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, prosciutto, roasted red peppers, spicy marinated veggies--and washed it down with wine. Then came the pasta--rigatoni in a meaty cream sauce--and cheese. The salad course followed--romaine lettuce, yellow peppers, red onions, and fresh tomatoes--all tossed in a lovely vinaigrette. (For Italians, there is no other way to dress a salad).

Then came the main courses--choices of chicken Marsala or veal layered with prosciutto, eggplant, and tomato slices. Both were very tasty indeed. Finally, after the coffee, came the cake. It was a yummy white cake with white whipped cream frosting. Everything was delicious.

And let's not forget about the family. It was so good to see everyone. There was lots of animated conversation, catching up, and gossip. Papa Cat designated himself one of the event's official photographers, and told everyone he'd e-mail all of the photos from the event. He just got his first digital camera. I figured I would let him get used to it before I introduced him to Flickr.

We reminisced about my grandmother and how she would have loved an event like this. We were saddened that Sister Kitten couldn't be there (she was attending a wedding). All in all, a good time was had by all.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have to get more sleep. And drink more water. I need to detox. Sweet dreams, kittens.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Friday Flashback: In a Jersey state of mind

My father's side of the family hails from Elizabeth, New Jersey. As a kid we used to make the trip from Connecticut to Jersey at least three or four times a year.

The four of us--me, my parents, and sister--would pile into the station wagon and make our way to the highway--eventually. Papa Cat was a huge fan of winding, country back roads, and we'd spend a good 45 minutes on such roads before we even hit the highway. And when we did hit the highway, it was a two-lane road filled with nothing but trees.

We picked up 84 west in Waterbury, and would drive it to Danbury, where we picked up 684 west. Eventually we'd hit the Saw Mill Parkway, which led to 87 and 287, the highways that led to the Tappan Zee Bridge. That bridge was a childhood symbol of going to Jersey. I thought it was the ugliest bridge in the world. I still think it is. As we crossed the span, Sister Kitten would be crying the whole way because she was terrified of bridges--particularly that one. It's a fear that has stayed with her, and has only intensified now that the bridge is much older and in need of repair or replacement.

Anyway, we'd all breathe a huge sigh of relief once we made it over the Tappan Zee. We'd get off 87 and 287 to pick up the Palisades Parkway, and from there we picked up the New Jersey Turnpike.

I don't consider anyone to be an expert in highway driving until they have driven the New Jersey Turnpike. It is the most interesting road on the eastern seaboard. First of all, there's the traffic. We'd get on the NJT at Fort Lee, just as the other drivers were getting off the George Washington Bridge. Here is where a driver becomes proficient in the art of merging.

Then there are the sights along the way. As you travel south, to your left, you get this amazing view of the Manhattan skyline. We loved looking for the Twin Towers (RIP), the Empire State Building, and especially the Statue of Liberty. To your right, there's...well, it's not a pretty sight. There are landfills, more highways, and lots of litter. That's about the best I can describe it. So as you drive down the NJT, and you see all of this, your goal is not to get distracted by everything.

And let's not forget about the Meadowlands, kittens. Yes, those Meadowlands, home of Giants Stadium, the New Jersey Nets, and the New Jersey Devils. Never travel southbound on the NJT on game day. Consequently, never travel northbound if there's a Yankee game, as hundreds of cars pile into the Bronx, causing major traffic jams getting on to the GWB.

Finally, there are the factories. At our exit, there was this huge oil refinery with a flame coming out of it. Papa Cat used to ask us if we thought the flame was pretty. That was our signal that we were ten minutes away from our grandparents' house.

My grandparents lived on the bottom floor of a two-family house--the same house where Papa Cat and his brother grew up. They owned it, and rented the top floor out. It was a one and a half bedroom apartment. You'll find out why I say this in a minute. Their living room had this white couch with a strange green, orange, and brown swirl pattern on the cushions. My grandmother ordered the couch in 1973, and had custom-made plastic covers over the entire thing. I hated sitting on it during the summer, when the heat from my legs would cause them to stick to the plastic.

Sleeping arrangements were tight. My grandparents had the one bedroom. My sister and I slept on a really tiny fold-out couch in the half bedroom, which was really a walk-in closet/storage space. We never slept well on that couch for two reasons: 1. There was a big metal bar in the center of the matress (which was really thin and flimsy), and 2. My grandmother, in later years, could not fall asleep without the TV on. She was hard of hearing, and kept the volume LOUD. Meanwhile, my parents slept on the fold-out couch in the living room.

And then there was the pink bathroom. Sister Kitten took pictures of the house right after grandma died, and I wish I had a copy to share with you right now of this gaudy, pink bathroom. There was a pink carpeted toilet bowl cover, a pink rug in the middle of the floor, a pink toilet brush, pink towels, a pink skirt that went around the sink, and a pink shower curtain so big that you had to wrestle with it every time you took a shower. And may I add, that this was Pepto Bismal pink we're talkin' bout here. Barf.

There was a playground right at the end of the street. Papa Cat used to take us there so we could use the swings. He was the director of that playground one summer--but that's another story for another time.

Whenever we visited, we'd see our aunt, uncle, and cousins. They all lived in the same town. My aunt and uncle lived three blocks from my grandparents; one of my cousins lived across town with her husband and four kids. My aunt and uncle also lived in a two-family house, and rented out the top floor. They had a series of dogs as I was growing up, most memorably, a German shepard named Brando.

We all used to get together for Thanksgiving and Christmas, and we'd make a pit stop there whenever we returned home from vacations on Long Beach Island. Food was always plentiful; my aunt is an excellent cook. Conversations were always loud; we are Italian, after all.

As we got older, the visits slowed down. We were lucky to make it down to Jersey once a year. When my grandmother died, we didn't have any reason to keep making even the annual treks. We went down once last year, for my cousin's 25th wedding anniversary party.

Things changed a lot when we went down last year. My grandparents' house, which was not up to fire code, was torn down. The playground we used to go to has become a haven for drug addicts. There are many more ethnicities present in the old neighborhood. And we take the Garden State Parkway down now; there's much less traffic, and it's a more pleasant ride.

This weekend, we're trekking down for my aunt and uncle's 50th wedding anniversary party. We won't be staying over at anyone's houses, but we have a hotel room. I really have mixed feelings about going. My family has gone down to Jersey so many times over the last 29 years (when we first moved to Connecticut), but the Jersey clan has only made the trek up to see us four or five times. Let me put it to you this way: when my father moved out of the house to take a job in White Plains, New York--one hour away from where he grew up--and you would think that he was moving across the country. Distance has been the main factor that has driven my extended family apart. There are other factors, but I won't explore them now.

However, I'm really looking forward to just being in another state. Jersey has its own unique flavor, almost like an American sub-culture. New York has its own unique subculture. Long Island has a unique culture as well. Connecticut? We're so vanilla here. New York, New Jersey, and Long Island are all places that inspire people's passions and imaginations. People from these areas have great pride in telling people where they're from. Connecticut? Not so much. Tell people you're from the Nutmeg State, and they're like, "Oh."

So I will return either Sunday night or Monday afternoon, depending on my level of fatigue. In addition to the travel, we'll be eating a lot of food. It's an Italian celebration, after all.

But first, let's pray that we make it across the Tappan Zee in one piece...

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Writers Workshop: I'm sick of these people!

And I'm sick of these things, too. Read on, kittens...

1. Jon and Kate Gosselin. I never was a fan of Jon and Kate Plus Eight. I was never a fan of reality TV, period. What they're going through right now is proof that reality television can ruin the lives of those involved. Look at the marriages it helped collapse (but were probably on the brink of collapsing, anyway, but I'm sure the TV shows contributed).

I feel bad for what Jon and Kate are going through, but I feel even worse for those kids...when they grow up, how will life be for them?

2. Octomom. I'm ambivalent. I share the same feelings that most Americans do about this woman. I don't have to explain myself here.

3. Blagojevich. Either Rod or Patti. Go away. Just go away.

4. Dick Cheney. You're saying more now than you did during your eight years in office. No one cares about you any more--that is, if they did in the first place. Dubya got the message and he's not around--why are you still here?

5. This f#$king recession. Nuff said.

6. Swine flu. Nuff said there as well.

7. Office 2007. Just got the upgrade at work. Am. Hating. It. Too many menus, no more buttons, and worse, no office assistant! Yelling at the paper clip guy in moments of frustration was the ultimate form of therapy!

8. Waking up an hour before the alarm goes off and not being able to go back to a sound sleep. Every fifteen minutes I lift my head, congratulate myself on having more time to sleep, but never get back to a deep REM. And if I do get back to an REM, it's always five minutes before the alarm goes off, and the alarm wakes me up and jolts me out of bed. Then I end up feeling groggy all day long.

9. A$$holes who don't know how to drive. They're multiplying. I thought Darwin's theory was all about the survival of the fittest, not the lamest.

10. American Idol. Sorry, kittens, I know there are quite a few of you who watch and adore this show, but I just don't get it. I don't get Survivor, either. Then again, I don't quite understand--or care for--most reality TV.

And we come full circle in this round of Writers Workshop. For more fun, check out Mama Kat's blog.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

The songs in my head

Lately I've been rotating a lot of Springsteen on my iPod. One song that's been figuring heavily into the playlist is "Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out":

Then there's "Glory Days":

And then there's my all-time favorite, "Hungry Heart":

And that's just a few of the songs from The Boss on my playlist. There are many more, far more to mention in this small space.

I've also had Lily Allen on the rotation. She's a singer from Britain who made her American debut on Saturday Night Live two years ago, when Drew Barrymore hosted. I really love her because she incorporates really cheerful melodies with some dark, bitter lyrics. And her delivery is so perky, it only adds to the irony of the text.

Here's one of her newest tunes, which she wrote about our 43rd President. It is a rawther catchy tune, in spite of its very free usage of the F-word:

And finally, there's "Poker Face", that Lady GaGa concoction that none of us can get away from:

So kittens, let me ask you: What songs are currently in your heads?

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Eleven years ago today...

...I graduated from college.

It started off as an ominous day. There were big, thick storm clouds in the distance when I awoke and looked out my window. All of the weathermen in the tri-state area had been predicting rain, rain, rain for that day, and I was wishing, hoping, praying that it would hold off till after the ceremony.

The day before, the weather was perfect for Baccalaureat Mass. Absolutely perfect. Sunny, a bit warm, but not a cloud in the sky. This gave me hope that the forecast was incorrect.

Just in case, though, I hung rosary beads out my window. It's an old Catholic trick: if you hang rosary beads out the window the day before a big storm, it's supposed to hold off the nasty weather.

Up until that fateful Sunday, my rosary beads worked every. Single. Time.

At 7:30 AM the phone started ringing. My friends and I were all calling each other, asking if they had heard anything about holding graduation indoors. We listened to the radio, turned on the university's cable channel, yelled out the window as random people drove by. Nothing. By 9:00 we all had to be in the science center and the school of nursing to put on our robes and line up, so we all squeezed into two cars (there were about ten of us traveling together) and drove the thirty-second drive from one end of campus to the other.

We got out of our cars, hugged each other for good luck, and went our separate ways.

It was the last time we all saw each other as undergrads.

At 9:30 AM, we were all lined up. The undergrads and the graduate students all participated in the same ceremony, so the line snaked from the chapel all the way down to the library. We slowly marched up the hill past the campus center, black robes on, hats on our heads, degree stoles slung over our right arms.

And then, ominously, the chapel bells chimed ten times.

10 o'clock.

Time for the ceremony to begin.

The line moved quicker. We walked up the hill past the chapel, past another classroom building, and onto Bellarmine Lawn, where we made our way to the back of Bellarmine Hall, that glorious symbol of our school, and took our seats.

So far, the rain had held off. The dark, stormy clouds still cast a pall over the ceremony. We were happy to be outside, but nervous as the clouds lingered over us.

At 10:15, as the first set of speeches finished, it started to mist.

The College of Arts and Sciences was the first to graduate its members. It was tradition for a graduate to climb the stairs of Bellarmine Terrace, hear their name read, and receive his or her diploma directly from the university president (well, actually, it was a decoy scroll meant to symbolize the degree. We didn't receive our real degrees until after the ceremony, when we turned in our robes).

At 10:30, the first batch of undergrads turned into graduates. Then it was time for members of the School of Business, the School of Nursing, and the Graduate School to receive their faux diplomas.

By the time everyone had been conferred their degrees, it was 11:00.

At that moment, the heavens opened.

A downpour.

About a third of the newly minted grads sprung up and ran for shelter.

Our commencement speaker, Carole Simpson, former weekend anchor of ABC World News Tonight, assumed the podium and asked us all one simple question:

"Are you all wet?"

There was a mix of cheers and groans.

"I will be brief..."

A thunderous round of applause.

Even though she cut her graduation speech in half, it wasn't until noontime when our university president declared the 48th Commencement Exercises of Fairfield University closed. By that time we were all soaked to the bone. Even though the downpour let up, it still rained pretty steadily.

The rain had paused long enough for my family to take pictures in front of the chapel. When I went to turn in my robes, however, the yellow sundress that I had purchased for the event had turned a faint shade of purple. The rain caused my graduation robes to bleed through. I had to return to my dorm room and get changed before we all went out to brunch.

We entered the restaurant at 1:00. It had closed for the day, only opening to Fairfield grads and their families. We all chatted with each other and reminisced about the ceremony. At that point we didn't find the humor in it. We were mad that our commencement got ruined by the rain.

By the time most of us left at 3:00, we discovered an interesting phenomenon:

Sun, in all of its bright, blazing glory.

I smiled. The bonfire was going to go on that night, as planned.

At least one graduation tradition wasn't spoiled by the rain.

The next day, I packed the remaining items from my dorm room (Papa Cat moved most of them back home the weekend before), said goodbye to some friends who were still on campus, and made the trip home.

It was a bright, beautiful sunny day.

I've never written about my college graduation before. As I type this, the memories of it are now as fresh as they were on the day it happened. I remember moving back home feeling very bittersweet, but more bitter than sweet. Amongst the bitterness: no job prospects, and having to move back in with mom and dad.

But that's another post for another time.

Let's move ahead five years, to the day I graduated with my Master's degree. I don't remember the exact date, but I do remember graduating in the bright, hot sun. My family didn't quite understand why I wanted to walk in my Master's ceremony, when about half of the grad students opted not to walk.

I wanted to graduate in the sun.

It was that simple.

Today, I'll be thinking about the students participating in the 59th Commencement Exercises at Fairfield University. For the first time, the undergrads and the graduate students will have separate ceremonies. My BFF and several other friends will be singing at the graduate ceremony with their choir.

The Weather Channel is predicting light rain in the morning.

I hope their clothes don't turn purple.

***UPDATE, 10:26 AM: I'm listening to the webstream and they're holding the ceremony outdoors. The rain has held off for the grads! Thank God!***

Saturday, May 16, 2009

What got me through the week

As you know, I've been feeling overwhelmed lately. Fortunately I've got some techniques that have helped me de-stress, if not, completely unwind. Here is a list of those things:

1. My therapist, Gigi

Obviously Gigi is not her real name. I once told her I had a blog, but didn't tell her my address or pseudonym. But I give every other human in this blog a nickname, so Gigi needed one as well. She is amazing. I've been seeing her for a year and a half now, and she has helped me turn my life around. I used to see her weekly, now I see her every other week. I really look forward to those visits. She helpes keep me sane, as well as keep my life in perspective. I've gotten more out of my visits with Gigi than any other therapist I've ever seen.

2. My aromatheraputic heat wrap

I picked it up at a tag sale two weeks ago. It's covered in mint green terrycloth, is filled with some kind of bead, and smells like lavendar and chamomile. You nuke it in the microwave at 30 second intervals for no more than two minutes, then put it around your neck and breathe in the wonderful scents. Yummy. They make me very sleepy, which is why I use it at night right before bed.

3. Evening primrose oil

Kittens, this stuff is amazing. I first learned about it through Maegan's blog. She described its affects as being similar to a Xanax. Well, this piqued my interest.

I did a little bit of research and it confirmed that it can help women alleviate symptoms of depression and PMDD. I've been taking it, and it has helped me tremendously. That little green bottle of caplets never leaves my purse. I take it three times a day, per the bottle's directions.

4. Vitamin D

I've said it before, I'll say it again: this stuff is amazing. Once I was diagnosed with a vitamin D deficiency, and had to start taking supplements, I was a changed person. I still had dark days when the depression was bad, but vitamin D lifted my mood. That, and the fact that the sun has been blazing in all its glory lately, has helped my mood so much.

5. Mundane household chores

Whoever thought that cleaning could be so relaxing? I'm not a huge fan of housecleaning, but when I wash some dishes here, pick up some stuff there, I feel like I'm in control of at least one aspect of my life. Cleaning gets my mind off of other things. Plus, the kitchen looks ah-mazin'.

6. Sleep, glorious sleep

Lately things have been so hectic, I've been in bed at 9:30, and asleep within five minutes. There have been a couple of nights where I've fallen asleep later, but for the most part, I crash as soon as my head hits the pillow. And once I'm in dreamland, ain't no wakin' me up. Do, and expect tres severe consequences.

7. Alone time--precious alone time

I'm the type of person who needs to build solitude during the course of my day. It really helps me recharge my batteries for whatever the next day will bring. This weekend a few friends invited me to go out, but I rejected their invitations. I need a break. For the next 48 hours I hope not to leave my house--or leave only if it's absolutely necessary, like making a trip to the liquor store to get that bottle of red wine, so I can savor that glass that I've been craving all week long.

So that's what's been getting me through the week. Kittens, what helps YOU get you through YOUR week?

Friday, May 15, 2009

Reflections at May's halfway point

It's been a month where I wake up 45 minutes before my alarm on a Monday morning, and work really hard not to sleep through it by the time Friday rolls around.

It's been a month where I have been in my car more often than I've been at home.

It's been a month where the only times I get to spend with my animals are upon awakening and upon falling asleep.

It's been a month where no amount of concealer can hide the bags, puffiness, or circles that envelop my eyes.

It's been a month where, just as I get rid of one blemish, another erupts. And another. And another.

It's been a month where I have to finish at least four books for book clubs and for pleasure, but have barely enough time to read a full chapter of The DaVinci Code. (At least the chapters are short).

It's been a month of working hard, but being aware of balancing that work with play.

It's been a month of seeing the fruits of my labor pay off.

It's been a month full of personal and professional satisfaction.

It's been a month where, for the first time, I feel truly happy, blessed, and satisfied with myself, my career, and in general, my adult life.

It's been a month of anticipation.

It's been a month of reflection.

And now, I have nothing planned for the weekend. Nothing at all.


And now, I collapse from exhaustion.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Clip of the Week: "My Wife Dumped Me For a Guy Named Jesus"

The latest in the Exit 57 clips that I promised you. This one is extremely funny.

The person who uploaded it to YouTube gave it the wrong title. The correct one is in the title of this post.


Saturday, May 9, 2009

Mr. T: "Treat Your Mother Right"

This video is hysterical.

It's classic 80s entertainment at its best, with its poor visual quality, bad 80s fashion, so-so production values--and of course, Mr. T.

This clip comes from a video he made in 1984. Wikipedia, that bastion of journalistic integrity, has an article about it here.

Enjoy this.

"Are you OK?"

We've all been asked this question at one point or another. But how do we respond?

I usually get asked this question when I'm depressed or stressed. This week, as you know, has been particularly stressful for me. So I got asked this question at least two or three times a day.

"Are you OK?"

How I respond:

"I'm fine."

How I want to respond:

"Am I OK? Am I OK? If I were, would you ask? I mean, I've got a to-do list with a hundred things on it and as I go through the course of my day I get asked to do fifty more things. I'm losing sleep and I may be getting sick. So you ask if I'm OK? Am I OK? What the hell do you think?

It's worse when you're at the grocery store and you get asked this question by the checkout lady. I was at Stop and Shop once, pulling my items out of my cart and slamming them onto the conveyor belt. I was in a furious mood because my car broke down and I had to drive a rental and I had no money for the repair.

The checkout lady looked puzzled.

"Having a bad day?" she asked.

"Yeah, my car broke down and I don't know how I'm gonna pay to fix it."

She smiled. "Oh, I know the feeling, girl. Let me help you with your groceries."

So the checkout lady bagged my groceries and--get this--took them out to my rental for me. She made me feel so much better.

But the point is, she didn't ask, "Are you OK?" She was more specific in her query. And I was able to give her detail because she didn't act overly concerned or nosy, like many people who ask this question.

I know I'm guilty of asking this question. I'm going to try and be more conscientious of doing this, because I have a feeling that a lot of people feel the same way I do.

Not to mention, OK is a weird term. Where did it come from? How did it come to mean "all right?"

Not to mention, "all right" means different things to different people.

So am I OK right now?

Yeah, now I am. It's Saturday, after all. :)

Saturday 9: With a little help from my friends

Click here if ya wanna play along.

1. How many of your friendships have lasted more than ten years?
Many, mostly from college. We're all very close. We're like the family members we've chosen for ourselves. We get together for many different events, and are always there for each other.

2. Which of your current friends do you feel will still be important to you ten years from now?
Most of them, but my BFF in particular. Ever since we became friends fifteen years ago people have asked us if we knew each other all of our lives. That's how close we are.

3. It’s Friday evening and you’re planning your weekend. What’s on your agenda?
Catching up on sleep, mostly. Taking some time for myself.

4. What was the most recent movie to scare you or give you the creeps?
I don't watch scary movies. Not a fan at all.

5. Finally, the new cast and movie of Star Trek are out. Excited or indifferent?
Very, very indifferent. Several of my friends are die-hard Trekkies. Mama Cat and Sister Kitten watched Star Trek: The Next Generation every week as I was growing up. I admire how it's become this whole pop sub-culture, but I just don't get the hype.

6. Do you have any nervous habits?
I bite my nails. I stopped trying to grow them out because they break so easily.

7. Do you swear in general?
Yes. I swear more often or less often depending upon whom I'm with.

8. Do you swear on your blog?
What the hell are you talking about?

9. Does it bother you when you read a post with curse words?
No, I just find that it's their writing style.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Thursday Thunks: May 7, 2009

Wanna play along? Click here.

1. Why the heck did you come back this week to do this meme?
I've had a long week and desperately needed to destress. Besides, the questions were really good this week--the best they've been in a while.

2. Ever whiten your teeth?
I tried about eight years ago, right before a wedding that I was a bridesmaid in. The peroxide in them irritated my gums, so I stopped after a couple of days.

3. Do you drive the speed limit?
Hell no! There's a reason why they call me Lead Foot! Besides, if you're in Connecticut, and you drive I-95, you're required to go over the limit. You drive the limit and you'll be among the dead possums at the side of the road.

4. Did the dog eat your homework?
Uh, well, see Miss, the dog didn't mean to eat my homework, but, see, I spilled some gravy on it cuz I was doing it while I was eating dinner an' the dog smelled the gravy and...well, the creative juices are running low tonight. Sorry guys.

5. How many bites does it take to get to the center of a watermelon?
As many licks as it takes to get to the Tootsie Roll center of a Tootsie Pop.

6. Did you eat paint chips as a child?
Ewww! Gross! I never heard or anyone eating paint chips! I did eat Meow Mix on occasion, though, and it was quite tasty, from what I remember.

7. If someone knocked on your door at 1am, would you answer it?
NO!!! There's too much violence in our world nowadays!

8. "Amazingly Smooth" makes you think of what?
An advertisement for some new cream that gets rid of the hair on women's legs "up to twice as long as shaving!"

9. What was the last stupid thing someone said to you? (not counting this meme’s questions)
I can't remember the last stupid thing, but it's hard to top someone asking me, "Did you know that Bill Clinton's married to Hillary Clinton?"

10. Would you eat a stick of butter for $100?
No, I wouldn't. Pass the Meow Mix, please.

11. Find the nearest fabric tab, not counting your clothing you are wearing. What does it say the object is made of and where was it made?
Polyester, rayon, and spandex, made with pride in Guatemala.

12. What is the strangest name you’ve ever heard someone name their child?
It's really hard to top some of the celebrity baby names out there. Again, I can't think of too many clever things to write tonight.

13. Why is some toilet paper really soft and others are really hard?
I think it depends on the paper. I used recycled paper toilet paper, and that's not exactly the softest kind, but it's better for the environment--or rather, my conscience.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Cooking with Kitten: Salad days

I went grocery shopping yesterday. I needed to get back on the health track again and cook myself some healthy meals.

Last week I was at a book club meeting and our hostess made spinach salad with avocado, tomatoes, hearts of palm, and other fresh veggies. Inspired, and in need of something that didn't come out of a box and couldn't be microwaved, I decided to stock up on salad fixins.

I fully intended to make a Cobb salad, but the recipe I'm giving you is not a traditional Cobb. Rather, it's more like "Kitchen Sink Salad."

Here's what I used:
  • a package of chicken tenders
  • a package of baby spinach
  • a package of baby romaine
  • a cucumber
  • 2 medium-sized tomatoes
  • broccoli florets (about a head)
  • 8 slices of turkey bacon
  • a can of chick peas
  • gorgonzola cheese crumbles
  • ranch dressing I had in the fridge

Now for the directions:

  1. Season the chicken however you like. You can use salt and pepper, poultry seasoning, Mrs. Dash--whatever you've got on hand. You can fry it up in a bit of EVOO, or you can grill it. I grilled the tenders on my indoor contact grill for about seven minutes.
  2. While the chicken's grilling, nuke the bacon according to package directions.
  3. Peel your veggies and cut 'em up.
  4. Get the largest salad bowl you own and dump your greens inside. Pile on the veggies.
  5. Open the chick peas, drain 'em, and rinse 'em. Dump 'em in the bowl.
  6. When the chicken's cooled off a bit, slice it up and dump it in the bowl.
  7. When the bacon's cooled a bit, crumble it up into little bits. Dump 'em in the bowl.
  8. Sprinkle on the gorg crumbs once you've served yourself a helping of the salad. Don't put 'em in all at once or they'll get soggy.
  9. Use whatever dressing you've got on hand.

Of course, you can use whatever veggies you've got on hand. I like to put hard-boiled eggs in salads, too, but I was too lazy to boil water tonight. That, and I didn't want to wash the pot.

Bon appetit!

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Married to the job

Lately, I've felt like my job is my spouse.

Usually, I enjoy my work, but lately, it's become too much. I've dealt with periods of stress like this before, but nothing, nothing like this. I don't know why I feel so overwhelmed, but I do. Well, actually, I DO know, but it's not anything I can blog about. I'm thinking of starting a separate blog and putting it on private in order to deal with these things.

I've had no problem balancing out the work and play. I've been able to squeeze in some fun activities between my job-related tasks. However, keeping my home and my health neat and tidy has been a big problem. There are dishes in the sink that need to be cleaned, and piles of laundry everywhere. I've been living hand to mouth, and have not been eating the most nutritionally balanced meals.

I don't like living this existance...I know it's temporary, but it doesn't make it any easier to deal with.

I really don't know how other women do it--work 8-10 hours a day, leave work, go grocery shopping, and then deal with their husband and 3 kids.

How could I possibly manage a home and family when I can barely manage myself?

Saturday, May 2, 2009

New England Bloggers May Day Giveaway Winner

...and the lucky winner of the Serious Skin Care Sistine body butter is...

Country Mouse City Mouse
PAM, of the terrific blog Country Mouse, City Mouse!
Pam, I'll be in touch with you soon to confirm your address. I need to send you that yummy body butter soon!
And thanks to all those who entered! Happy May to one and all!