Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Books vs. Music

I have very specific and sophisticated taste in books. I can easily spend a $25.00 bookstore gift card. My biggest problem in a book store is deciding what not to buy as opposed to what to buy. I would never feel insecure about talking about the books I read. Actually, I can be rather superior about my taste in books, and it is sometimes difficult for me to refrain from showing my scorn about books that I feel are trash.

Music is another story completely. I have never felt that I had good taste in music. I spent my teenage years and early twenties listening to New Wave, pop, and rock--MTV years--and my thirties listening to hip hop and R&B. Now, I listen to a lot of the music from those earlier decades of my life and a few newer people that I have discovered from various sources, such as from Valerie, from the Houston Women's Festival music lineup, from iTunes commercials, and from TV/movie soundtracks.

Before my birthday, I had an old iPod 1G Nano that holds just over 200 songs as long as nothing else is on it. I had to make tough choices about what to put on it and take off of it when I got bored with my playlist or bought new music. I no longer have that problem.

For my birthday, Valerie gave me a new 8G iPod Nano, a bright orange one. It was a great surprise! I never expected her to give me an iPod for my birthday. And now, I can put so much more music on it and put things other than music on it. As a matter of fact, I put all the music from my iTunes library on it, and it isn't even half full--obviously, I have a very small library. I haven't had time yet to add much to my library to see how much it will hold either.

For Christmas, my older sister gave me a $25.00 iTunes gift card, and I had a lot of trouble today deciding what to buy with it. Well, actually, I had an easy time deciding on one album. I have been wanting a Nina Simone album for a while now, so I knew I was going to get one. The second album presented a much harder decision. I wanted to buy something "good." After looking at some best of 2008 lists and listening to some snippets of some songs, I settled on Coldplay's Vida La Vida. I already had the one song that had been on the iTunes commericial. Hopefully, I will like both of these albums.

Now, I need to get ready for New Year's Eve festivities. Later.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Healthier Thoughts

Last Monday, I turned 45. For a couple of months leading up to my birthday, I had been thinking about how unhealthy I am and how I would like to be much healthier when I turn 50. Yes, I know that's five years away, which gives me time to procrastinate, something I am very accomplished at doing, but I wasn't thinking about putting it off. I was thinking that I need to make changes now to be healthier in the near future as well as five years from now. And, I'm not just talking about losing weight, which I definitely need to do. I generally don't do new year's resolutions, and I'm not making this a resolution. I'm not sure why I have suddenly decided that I can't put my health needs off any longer, but I kind of feel desperate about it.

I've also been thinking a lot about menopause, which I feel very ignorant about, but I resist becoming intelligent about because it is an undeniable indicator of aging. I have a real problem with the idea of myself becoming an old woman. Also, I don't have any close friends near my age that I feel like I can talk to about it. Today, Allison Bechdel blogged about The Wisdom of Menopause, a book that she is reading. She's about three years older than me, so I was very interested in what she had to say about the book. She gave high praises to the book, so I looked at the reviews on Amazon. However, I can't decide if I would/should read this book or not. I'm not at all into New Age-y kinds of things and several reviewers complained about that aspect of the book. I do feel like I need to be more informed though, so maybe I will check it out from the library.

For now, I should be get my lazy butt up off the couch and do something active today. Later.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Bad Baking

I have been talking about baking pumpkin muffins for a couple of weeks. I decided last night that tonight was the night. I made sure that I had all the necessary ingredients, or so I thought. After adding the dry ingredients to the batter, I noticed that it was more watery than usual. I have made these muffins many times before, so I knew something wasn't quite right. The batter tasted okay, but it didn't thicken like it should have. I went back over the recipe to see if I missed something or if I had put in too much of something, but I didn't. I thought I would cook them for the required amount of time and see what happened, but I wasn't optimistic.

When the timer went off, I pulled the pan out of the oven. What a mess! It looked like the batter had merely boiled in the pan. I think Valerie thought that I must have put too much water in the batter, but I reviewed the recipe and knew that I had measured all ingredients correctly. The only difference I could point out is that I now use eggs from cage-free hens but different eggs shouldn't affect the thickness of a batter. Then I had another thought: the only ingredient that I wasn't mine or bought recently was the flour . It was some that Valerie had in a plastic canister--needless to say, we don't do a lot of baking--at her old apartment, and we've been here for a year. Still, I doubted that the kind of flour could make a difference, but if it wasn't flour in the canister, it would make a big difference. I opened the flour and stuck my finger in it. It was sweet. I tasted it again, and I knew: it was powdered sugar! DAMN!

Of course, we didn't have any other flour either. Valerie offered to go to the store tonight, but I told her that I would bake the muffins tomorrow or Thursday night. I really wanted a muffin tonight, too. (Funny side note: I didn't get angry, which is surprising because I would have been a total bitch about the mix-up in my previous relationship. Valerie really does bring out the best in me.) The worst thing, though, is that now I have to clean up the kitchen, and I didn't even get a yummy muffin out of the work that created the mess.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

What an amazing moment!

I am so happy with my fellow Americans tonight. Valerie, our CGF (closeted gay friend), and I watched the results at a GLBT watch party at a local. It was very exciting and a lot of fun.

I'm not sure that I ever believed that I would see anyone other than a white male be president in my lifetime. However, once the primaries were over, I did start to believe that America was on the brink of a historic moment of our own making. Even as late as this morning, I still resisted believing the polls were correct. I just didn't want to be disappointed this time.

Well, tonight, I was exhilarated by Obama's win. I texted some friends when CNN called it for him, and I was brought to tears by my African American friend Lois's text: "I can hardly believe it! I cried! Then I danced! A black man will be president! I never thought in my lifetime!" Then she texted this a few minutes ago, which made me laugh ruefully: "They didn't want to give us 40 acres and a mule so dammit we will take 50 states and a White House."

My African American friend Charles, whom I have known since junior high, only had this to say to my "OMG! We have a black president!": "Yes we do." I was very touched by Charles's reaction to Obama's acceptance speech at the Democratic convention. To think that at 44, you can finally believe that someone like you could actuall be president. How sad that it took so long, but how great that it finally happened. Almost all of my nieces and nephews are biracial, and now they can all know that someone like themselves is going to be president. This is truly a great day for America.

The negative for tonight/today is that all the same-sex marriage measures appear to be passing. I just don't understand why Americans are so stupid about same-sex marriage. Tonight, though, I can not dwell on the negative.


Monday, November 03, 2008

New addition

I have a very large extended family, and this is the newest member, my niece's daughter. Isn't she beautiful!

It's kind of funny that before she was born I really wasn't happy about this niece having a baby, but as soon as I saw her, I forgot about those feelings. I actually felt hopeful about my niece and her seemingly bad choice of a boyfriend. He was taking care of the baby at the hospital, changing diapers and feeding her, as much as my niece. I hope it's a good omen for their future.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

A New Toni Morrison Novel!

Toni Morrison is one of my favorite authors (Margaret Atwood is my other fav). I love Morrison's novels, especially The Bluest Eye, Song of Solomon, and Beloved. Tonight, I was cleaning out my NPR Books feeds, and I was completely surprised to learn that Morrison has a new book coming out on November 11. I should have already known this since I listen to NPR almost every day on my way to work and back, but this week is the second week of the local NPR stations fundraising drive. I am a sustaining member, so I do believe in NPR and don't mind contributing, but the necessary fundraising talk during Morning Edition and All Things Considered is still annoying. So I have been listening to my iPod and, of course, talking when I carpool.

Back to Morrison's new work, it's called A Mercy, a slave narrative set in the late 17th century. It's too late now to expound on the things that Morrison says she was trying to do in this novel, but I am completed intrigued by the story that she presents. Listening to her read an excerpt, I was reminded of what a good reader she is. As a teacher, I used a small portion of an audio of her reading of Beloved so that students could hear how the book should sound in their brains, and I always enjoyed listening to her read even that small portion. I have downloaded the 4 excerpts available on NPR and will definitely spend some time tomorrow listening to it at work.

Links to an audio interview, a video interview, and the four excerpts can be found here.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

I never thought that I would say this but...

I might want to read a Stephen King novel. And not just any King novel, The Stand, an apocalyptic novel of over 1000 pages. What's the big deal? Well, I am truly not a horror fiction or horror movie fan. I don't do scary! However, after reading a Salon interview with King today, I decided that this is a book that I might like. It is an apocalyptic novel that the interviewer believes will resonate as much with today's readers as it did with it's original audience. I do like apocalyptic novels and movies, and if this novel has "Fundamentalist religion, biological weapons, monster viruses, nuclear destruction, ecological havoc, mistrust of government, the breakdown of democracy" and is well-written, I think I might like it. Plus I still haven't read The Road but plan to very soon, and interviewer seems to think The Road was influenced by The Stand.

The interview celebrates the 30th anniversary of the publication of The Stand. I read it at work between book fair customers and made some notes about some of the specific interview points, but I forgot to bring the notes home, so I can't say more now. Well, I could say more if I wasn't so tired and lazy. I could reread the interview online and remind myself of things that I wanted to say, but I am tired and lazy. Now, I think I'll get even lazier now and watch some DVR'd shows before I go to bed. Later.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Book club book and cake - Updated

A while back, I read about a blogger (can't remember the blog and am too lazy just now to search for it) who bakes an appropriate cake for each of the books read by her book club. I decided that since the next meeting for my book club was scheduled to meet at a member's home, which we don't do much, that I would offer to bring dessert instead of the easier option of a bottle of wine. So today I will bake a Coconut Cream Cake to go with our most recent book, Babylon Rolling. One of the characters makes a coconut cream cake early in the novel. I didn't enjoy the book much at all, so I hope the cake is good. I have never made this cake and found the recipe on the Internet. There were several variations on, and I found one by Emeril on the Food Network. I started to choose the one by Emeril because the book is set in New Orleans and that is where he is, right? However, I decided to go with one of the variations on because they weren't completely from scratch and seemed a bit less work intensive. I decided that, although I normally like to bake things from scratch, today I want to have some time to read and watch the Cowboys for a while this afternoon.

Okay, I'm off to the store now. When I get the cake made, I will snap a photo and post it. Hopefully, I will also be able to report that it was a success with the other book club members.

UPDATE - Here's a photo that I took with my phone. The cake doesn't look special, but it tastes so good.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

A new fortune

I got this fortune a couple of nights ago: Character cannot be purchased, bargained for, inherited, rented or imported from afar.

This may be true, but I'm not sure character is very important to most people any more. In theory, I think most people would agree with this fortune. In reality, people without character get ahead all the time, and we accept it.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Book buying and an idea for the new year

This morning, Valerie and I went to one of our fave breakfast spots. She read the paper while I flipped through the latest issue of VOYA. As I perused the book reviews, I commented on some of them. At some point, Valerie said that I was making her want to go to the bookstore. I said that I had been thinking about going to Half-Priced Books to look for a book that I had not been able to find at Bookstop last week. The decision was made immediately; we would stop at Half-Priced on the way home. Being book addicted, we both purchased more than one book.

I bought three books:
  • A $3.00 copy of Infinite Jest in paperback. I've never read any Wallace, but I have read much about his writing since his recent suicide, and I think that I will enjoy his work. For $3.00 I just couldn't pass this up.
  • A like-new hardback of Rushdie's The Enchantress of Florence. I really enjoyed Midnight's Children and Fury.
  • A like-new Modern Library paperback of Middlemarch. After I finish W&P, I think this will be my next big read.
Valerie bought two biographies, John Adams and Einstein: His Life and Universe, which she has been lusting after for a long time now. She was so excited, and so cute in her excitement, when she found the Einstein book in hardback for only $8.00, showing barely any use. I'm excited too because I will learn so much when she reads these books. She loves to share, and I like it when she shares with me!

Now for the idea: I have a reading plan/resolution idea for the new year, but I will write about it later. Now, I think I will get off the computer and watch a show or two that we DVR'd this week. Enjoy the rest of your weekend.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

My Fortune

A while back I thought that I should blog my fortune cookie fortunes. I thought it would be fun to pontificate on their meaning or, most likely, lack of meaning.

I got this one tonight: You[r] critical insights can provide the stimulus for change.

I don't know about you, but I think that's a damn good fortune. It sounds like I should be something more powerful than a junior high school librarian. Any suggestions?

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Ike-Induced Vacation Day 9 (The last one!)

I didn't hear until 8:00 last night that I wouldn't be going back to work today, but I am going back tomorrow--no students tomorrow and no definite word that students will be there on Friday. As I said yesterday, I am ready to get back to normal life, which means working.

I'm also ready for the local TV stations to stop the all-Ike, all the time news broadcasting. There are only so many ways that you can tell a story, and now they are just fueling controversy so they can advertise later that they were the station to ask the toughest questions and refute the most myths. They spend less than 5 minutes on a round-up of the national and world news at the end of each hour-long night-time broadcast--it's disgusting!

Really, our economy is failing and our so-called leaders want us to hand over $700 billion to save the greedy bastards who have run our economy into the ground. People need to hear about this news more than about how bad CenterPoint is doing in restoring electricity. Pre-Ike, they said it could take 2-3 weeks to get power fully restored, and it has been less than two weeks. Yes, I'm sure if I was one of the unlucky ones who still didn't have power I might feel differently, but the mostly media created controversy still wouldn't help me get my power back or make me feel less frustrated.

Now, to the $700 billion bailout: I say NO! I don't buy the fear being sold with this story. I do believe that times could get hard, but I don't believe it would be another great depression. (Damn, I had something really pithy to say here, and I totally lost my train of thought. I hate it when that happens!)

Well, I should get up and do something to commemorate my last day of my Ike-induced vacation. Valerie didn't leave me a to-do list or send me a reminder email this morning, but I'm sure there is something I can do today besides sit and read. Of course, sitting and reading is very enticing. :-)

Happy Wednesday! (Btw, I just realized that I said "Happy Monday!" yesterday--see what happens when you don't go to work for 8 days.)

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Ike-Induced Vacation Day 8

I am so ready to go back to work! My school district still has 7 of its 22 schools without power. Yesterday, 8 schools were still without power. I just hope they get more than one school up and running today because, if not, I might be off work for another week. I don't need to be off work after only about 4 weeks back to work (wait a minute, librarians start back a week before teachers who start a week before students so I had been back to work almost 5 weeks--still not enough time to need a vacation especially not one of this duration). I enjoyed my summer vacation, but I was ready to return to work last month.

I do have a short to-do list today and will have lunch with Valerie later, but I'm still basically just reading and watching TV most of the day. Today, though, I will be reading more because I have decided that today is War & Peace day. I will finish this book by the end of the year, but I want to be 200 pages in by the end of the day. I'm stopped on page 143 before I got on the computer. Now after killing some time reading emails, news, and blogs, it's almost time to get ready for lunch. After lunch, I will complete the items on the to-do list and settle in to read some more W&P. Too bad it warmed up again this week. I would love to sit on the patio and read all afternoon, but I will have to settle for sitting by our wall of windows that faces the patio with the a/c keeping me cool. :-)

Happy Monday!

Friday, September 19, 2008

Some post-Ike rambling

I am a lucky person. I have experienced no significant adverse effects from Hurrican Ike or its aftermath. I realize that it will be a long time before normality returns for many people, but I'm ready for my life to return to normal. As I was at the end of summer vacation, I'm ready to go back to work. I love free days just as much as the next person, but a week of free days this time of year is too much. Hopefully, faculty and staff in my district will be allowed to go back on Monday with students returning on Tuesday. I'm so glad that I am a librarian now instead of a teacher. If I were still a teacher, I know I would be very stressed about instructional time missed.

I have started and stopped several posts since the storm hit almost a week ago. Here are some of the things I started to post:
  • From Monday evening, 9/15: Some thoughts triggered by the constant local news coverage: 1) ABC 13's Art Rascon saying 50 times how he covered the tsunami. Why does he keep reminding us of that? 2) Also on ABC 13, Melanie Lawson is being downright bitchy to the FEMA guy. (I know FEMA is not perfect, but FEMA-bashing should not commence until it has, once again, failed to do well.) 3) On ABC 13's website, included with the photos of storm damage is still clips of their reporters out in the storm. I hate it when reporters try to be the news instead of just reporting it. It's bad enough that we have to watch them constantly trying to make drama out of nothing on the TV but to post photos of your reporters with photos of the very REAL results of the storm is the kind of disgusting self-promotion that makes television news almost too difficult to watch these days. 4) Why do people need gas on Monday? If hardly anyone is working and if people had gassed up before the storm, I can't imagine that many people really needing gas today. 5) Speaking of excessive FEMA bashing - I heard this on the news today: a man called FEMA to report that his house in Galveston was destroyed. He couldn't understand why FEMA hung up on him, but I might have hung up on him too since he had not see the house yet--he evacuated--and didn't own the house but rented it.
  • From Tuesday, 9/16: Although I have lived in a coastal community since the fall of 1992, I have really never been here during a hurricane or even a strong tropical storm. I was in Europe for TS Allison and Rita ended up coming in well to the east of here. I did evacuate in advance of Rita, something I swore that I would never do again. My post-Ike experience has not been so bad that I would change my mind except, perhaps, in the case of a Category 4 or 5. Ike was the strongest Category 2, and it was very widespread, so it might as well have been a Category 3. I could brave a Category 3, but I might have to get in the hallway or a closet instead of sleeping through much of it in my own bed, which is how I rode out most of Ike's worst. :-)

    We got electricity back yesterday morning. We had gone out to look for coffee and a hot breakfast. Instead we stumbled onto a line forming at Whole Foods. The sign said they would open in 1 hour and would sell 2 bags of ice to each customer. The cool temperature and the relatively short line made standing in line much more palatable. By the time the store opened, the line had wrapped around the back of the store. To our delight, the store not only sold us ice but gave us free coffee too. Getting free coffee and our power back was like waking up to the best Christmas morning ever! Ahhh!
I have spent my free days mostly reading and being lazy. I did go volunteer for one afternoon, and I am ashamed to admit that it depressed me so much that I couldn't make myself go back for more. I don't know what I expected, and maybe I'm just too selfish/self-involved to help people.

I finished two books this week, Babylon Rolling, which I might post about later, and Twilight, which I will definitely post a review of on my school library site. For me, neither book was a great read, but I have decided that bad books serve a good purpose for me. They make me want to read something really good and make me appreciate good writing even more.

I guess that's enough rambling for now. I'm going to read while I wait for working people to get off work and meet for Mexican food and margaritas. Hooray for normal Friday evening fun!

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Some Sunday Stuff

Don't you just love alliteration! :-)

Wonderful Weekend Weather (More alliteration!)
The weather has been particularly nice this weekend in Houston. Last night, Valerie and I walked with a couple of friends to the park to watch a free modern ballet performance of Sleeping Beauty. I can't remember who said it, but someone said the pleasant temperatures and low humidity did not signify the beginning of fall but the beginning of the end of summer. A perfect description for this time of year in southeast Texas--unfortunately, it could take summer two or three months to end.

The ballet in the park was nice except for the young children who were behind us playing loudly and the drunk women behind us who couldn't control their children or their little dog or their own laughter. I'm not sure why they were there. They certainly were not watching the ballet. All things one must contend with if one wants to take advantage of a free performance on such a nice night. Our friend made a really nice, simple picnic: yummy egg sandwiches, grapes and cantaloupe, cheese, and homemade brownies.

One more thing about the ballet, as I said, it was Sleeping Beauty. Before we arrived at the park, I was trying to recall the story, and I realized that I sometimes confuse it with Snow White. Knowing that Snow White is the beauty who befriends the dwarfs helps me to keep them straight, but I really don't know the story of Sleeping Beauty very well. During the performance, I told Valerie of my lack of knowledge and she said she had the same problem. Later, our friend's husband leaned over and jokingly asked when the dwarfs were coming on. I told him that I didn't know this story that well either. During intermission, it became apparent from our conversations as well as others that I eavesdropped on. Using my phone, I looked up the story on Wikipedia and all of our inferences from the action on stage were accurate to the original story despite it being a modern retelling. Once the second act got underway, Valerie's earlier prediction that an overdose would put her in a coma proved to be right on. We are a very smart group of people indeed. ;-)

I can't emphasize enough how nice the weather has been here this weekend. This morning, Valerie and I sat on our patio and read the paper and books while we drank a pot of coffee. Then we went out for brunch and actually sat outside, two things we haven't done for several months. We really love our patio!

Speaking of Reading
War & Peace is really growing on me. I have finished only Part 1 of Volume 1. I want to read it all the time, but it is just too big to read when I go to bed or to take places with me. It is difficult to remember who all the characters are and what their relationships are, but I have decided that it is only necessary to understand the present of what's happening for now. I trust that eventually I will know enough the characters and their relationships so that I don't have this problem anymore.

I have read almost 200 pages of Twilight, which is essentially a work-read for me. I don't usually read the most popular books because I am an admitted literature snob and tend to find bestsellers to be lacking in depth and good writing. But I decided that as a junior high librarian I should read at least the first book of this series. Before I started reading it, I had read some really negative criticism, especially from the feminist perspective. I decided to read the book anyway and so far, I don't see the things that most of those feminist critics pointed out, but I do see how the main character could become what those critics decried. Still, I am enjoying the book and can definitely see how some readers, especially young girls and women, would be drawn to this book.

Then there's the book club book: Babylon Rolling. All I can say about this book is that it is okay. One thing that I am very confused by is the author's choice of using a first person narrator to tell one character's story while all the other characters' stories are told with a third-person narrator. The choice doesn't make sense to me yet, and I'm beginning to feel like it won't. I feel like the white, female author was attempting to show off her ability or her willingness to write in the voice of an African American drug-dealing teenager. I don't find the voice to be effective or necessary to the story. When I'm finished, I might do some review reading and see what critics think about it. Maybe I'm missing something, but I mostly find the change to be distracting, and I'm not usually bothered by narrator changes. Some of my favorite books utilize this very postmodern convention.

Well, the Astros and the Cowboys are on--both winning at the moment, and I need to do some work, so I guess that's enough stuff for this Sunday. Later.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Hillary and I Move On

I didn't watch Hillary's speech last night, the second speech this week that I wish I had watched. My brain and body were too tired last night--brain from a busy second day of school and body from walking 4.9 miles. Also, I think that I got kind of burned out on politics during the primaries and haven't completely re-engaged, but I am getting there.

Sitting here this morning watching the CBS morning show, I have seen a former FBI agent criticize Hillary's body language, which according to him didn't show enough emotion about Obama, and some Hillary supporters who were there last night and had reactions from still on the fence to gung-ho Obama supporter now. None of the coverage really spoke to what I think about the whole situation, and I don't have time to write what I think this morning. Luckily, I looked at my feeds on Google Reader and saw that Dorothy Surrenders had a new post. I think that the second paragraph of her post speaks to my feelings about Hillary and why I have to support Obama now.

Now, I am officially moving on and will be contributing some funds to the Obama-Biden campaign when I get paid this week. (Valerie, don't let me forget.)

Obama - Biden '08!!!!!!

Monday, August 25, 2008

BBC 100

I don't usually do memes, but I really like best books lists. It makes me feel good to see how many I have read. If I haven't read many, the list will give me titles of books that I want to read. I got this from Danielle at A Work in Progress.

The instructions:
  1. Look at the list and bold those you have read.
  2. Italicize those you intend to read.
  3. Underline the books you love.
  4. Strike out the books you have no intention of ever reading, or were forced to read at school and hated.
  5. Reprint this list in your own blog.
1. Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen
2. The Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien
3. Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte
4. The Harry Potter Series - JK Rowling (I have read the first book in the series.)
5. To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee
6. The Bible
7. Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte
8. Nineteen Eighty Four - George Orwell
9. His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman
10. Great Expectations - Charles Dickens
11. Little Women - Louisa M Alcott
12. Tess of the D’Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy
13. Catch 22 - Joseph Heller
14. Complete Works of Shakespeare (I have read many of the plays and not just the popular ones, but I have not read them all. I will read Comedy of Errors soon.)
15. Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier
16. The Hobbit - JRR Tolkien
17. Birdsong - Sebastian Faulks
18. Catcher in the Rye - JD Salinger
19. The Time Traveller’s Wife - Audrey Niffenegger (Valerie is very impatient for me to read this; she has been waiting for me to read it for a long time now.)
20. Middlemarch - George Eliot
21. Gone With The Wind - Margaret Mitchell
22. The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald
23. Bleak House - Charles Dickens
24. War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy (I started this during the summer, but I haven't made much progress yet.)
25. The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams
26. Brideshead Revisited - Evelyn Waugh
27. Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky
28. Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck
29. Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll
30. The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame
31. Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy
32. David Copperfield - Charles Dickens
33. Chronicles of Narnia - CS Lewis
34. Emma- Jane Austen
35. Persuasion - Jane Austen
36. The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe - CS Lewis
37. The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini
38. Captain Corelli’s Mandolin - Louis De Bernieres
39. Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden
40. Winnie the Pooh - AA Milne
41. Animal Farm - George Orwell
42. The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown (Really?!? Who put this book on the list?)
43. One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
44. A Prayer for Owen Meaney - John Irving
45. The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins
46. Anne of Green Gables - LM Montgomery
47. Far From The Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy
48. The Handmaid’s Tale - Margaret Atwood
49. Lord of the Flies - William Golding
50. Atonement - Ian McEwan
51. Life of Pi - Yann Martel
52. Dune - Frank Herbert
53. Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons
54. Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen
55. A Suitable Boy - Vikram Seth
56. The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon
57. A Tale Of Two Cities - Charles Dickens
58. Brave New World - Aldous Huxley
59. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time - Mark Haddon
60. Love In The Time Of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
61. Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck (I might have read this in school, but I'm not sure. I do know the story very well, but my knowledge could be from lit crit and curriculum materials that I have read over the years.)
62. Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov
63. The Secret History - Donna Tartt (Another book that Valerie recommends to me.)
64. The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold
65. Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas
66. On The Road - Jack Kerouac
67. Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy
68. Bridget Jones’s Diary - Helen Fielding
69. Midnight’s Children - Salman Rushdie
70. Moby Dick - Herman Melville
71. Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens
72. Dracula - Bram Stoker
73. The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett
74. Notes From A Small Island - Bill Bryson
75. Ulysses - James Joyce (I really do intend to read this, but I will probably take Edward Albee's advice and read along with an audiobook.)
76. The Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath
77. Swallows and Amazons - Arthur Ransome
78. Germinal - Emile Zola
79. Vanity Fair - William Makepeace Thackeray
80. Possession - AS Byatt
81. A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens
82. Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell
83. The Color Purple - Alice Walker
84. The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro
85. Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert
86. A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry
87. Charlotte’s Web - EB White
88. The Five People You Meet In Heaven - Mitch Albom (I just can't help but think of this book as touchy-feely dribble, and I just can't believe it belongs on a list like this.)
89. Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
90. The Faraway Tree Collection - Enid Blyton
91. Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad
92. The Little Prince - Antoine De Saint-Exupery
93. The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks
94. Watership Down - Richard Adams
95. A Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole
96. A Town Like Alice - Nevil Shute
97. The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas
98. Hamlet - William Shakespeare
99. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl
100. Les Miserables– Victor Hugo

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Reading Interrupted

I started back to work last week, and I have been watching too much Olympics at night to get much reading done. Twilight, my bedside table read right now, is good but not good enough to keep me awake into the wee hours, and I have wanted to keep reading more than once.

Even though I didn't make much progress in War & Peace, I felt pretty good about reading 13 books this summer. Then I read that Danielle at A Work in Progress has almost completed 1000 pages of Les Miserables, and I realized that I have a lot of reading to do if I am going to complete the Russian Reading Challenge by the end of the year. The problem with War & Peace is that it is too big to read when I'm lying in bed and too big to tote places with me. I wish that I was awake enough when I first come down stairs in the morning, then maybe I could make it a habit to read for a certain amount of time each morning. Reading would be more productive than lying on the couch watching the Weather Channel and dozing while my first cup of coffee cools and I get ready to get ready for work. And yes, I do realize that I could just come down stairs, get my coffee, go back up stairs immediately, and get ready earlier, thus giving myself some time to read before I leave for work. Yeah, I don't see myself making that a habit because I'm not enough of a morning person (read: I'm too lazy). I think my best bet will be to try to make it a habit to read some each afternoon when I get home from work. Of course, I'll to wait on that plan until Valerie's work schedule switches back to the one where she gets off work at 5:00. If she's home when I get here, I won't be able to concentrate on reading. ;-)

Now I'm going to get off the computer. I promised myself that I would not play any games tonight while I watched the Olympics. Maybe I can read some during the commericials, right?

Monday, August 11, 2008

Back to work

I start back to work today, and I am surprisingly ready to go. I would already be there except I have to go to pinkie therapy first. Even though I am not going in to work until late, I got up early this morning and did a bit of Internet surfing and discovered that what I already thought was going to be a great season of Inprint readings is going to be even better. I am so excited!!! I can't wait for the readings to begin. I am going to try very hard to post about each reading here. Actually, I have enough free time now that I could/should be posting regularly here, but for some reason, I haven't been. I'm going to try to post here more regularly.

Over the weekend, I finished The Wednesday Wars by Gary Schmidt, number thirteen for my summer reading, and started Twilight, finally. I have been putting off reading Twilight for over a year now. I just am not the kind of person who wants to read what everyone else is reading. Yes, I'm snobby like that. I'm the same way with movies. I figure that if a broad spectrum of people like something that it's probably too mainstream for me. I have been this way since I was a teenager--a very long time ago. I distinctly remember when Kramer vs. Kramer hit the theaters. All my friends told me that I had to see; it was the best movie ever. I saw it and didn't like it at all. When I went to college and grad school as an English major, I developed into a literature snob--sad but true. Of course, I am sometimes surprised by mainstream hits, both books and movies, and I hope to be surprised by Twilight. I've only read about 50 pages so far.

Wow, look at the time. I have to go to pinkie therapy now. Later.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

The end of my summer

This is my last week of summer vacation. Next week, I go back for my second year as a junior high librarian. I had planned to read a bunch of YA books this summer, but I only read a couple so far. I might read one or two more before students return to school two weeks from Monday. I have read several books this summer. I need to blog about them and post reviews of the two that are Early Reviewer books at LibraryThing. For now, though, I will just list what I've read this summer.
  1. Hero by Perry Moore
  2. Eleven Minutes by Paul Coehlo
  3. Among Other Things, I've Taken Up Smoking by Aiobhean Sweeney
  4. Christine Falls by Benjamin Black
  5. Skim by Mariko Tamiki and Jillian Tamiki
  6. Love Marriage by V.V. Ganeshananthan
  7. The Secret Life of Sparrow Delaney by Suzanne Harper
  8. Drown by Junot Diaz
  9. Rubyfruit Jungle by Rita Mae Brown
  10. The Murder Room by P.D. James
Wow! Ten books in just over two months. Pretty good for a slow reader like me. I will finish at least one more this week, Have You Found Her by Janice Erlbaum. Plus, I have read about 100 pages of War & Peace. I need to set aside 30 minutes to an hour each day to read some of it because I want to finish it before the end of the year.

Now, I need to go beat Valerie at Rummikub. :-)

Monday, July 14, 2008

Summer is going too fast!

I can't believe July is almost half over already! I haven't done many of the things that I intended to do this summer. I have read several books but not as many as I had hoped. The office is still not done. I haven't done any writing except for a couple of journal entries and a few short blog posts. I haven't walked for exercise since returning from vacation. I haven't been in the swimming pool once this summer.

So what have I been doing to waste my summer? I have spent way too much time playing computer games while I half-watch television. So I have decided to re-instate my game-playing fast that served me very well during Lent. I will not play games for the rest of this month. Instead, I will spend my time reading and writing and even working a little, and I will walk every day and work on the office. Hell, I might even do the housework that I had intended to do once a week. (But that's not a promise, Valerie.)

Tomorrow I will try to post about some of the reading that I have done this summer. Until then, I'll say good night.

Friday, July 04, 2008

Happy 4th!

Since I have the whole summer off, today really seems like just another day of summer to me. However, tonight I will watch the biggest fireworks show in the country (or at least that's how it's billed) from a friend's rooftop patio. Until then, I will probably just be lazy and read some. As a matter of fact, I think I will go some place and read while I have lunch, some place cool. Too bad, it's so damn hot and humid here. I would love to just stay here and move to the patio for a while this afternoon. I could just sit inside and be cool and lazy and save money, but the past couple of days, I have felt the need to get out of the house. Not sure why.

Unfortunately, deciding where to go is a problem. My favorite sit and read place has been closed down for a while now. :-( I need to find a new go-to spot for days like today. But first, I have to get off the computer and get dressed. If I don't do it now, I will still be sitting here when Valerie returns and then I won't go anywhere. So, enjoy your 4th. Later.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

I'm bored :-(

and i'm lazy. Yesterday, I told myself that I would do some housekeeping today, but today, I just don't feel like it--LAZY! I feel like I need to get out of the house and see what's happening in Houston. So, I think I will go to a couple of independent bookstores, Brazos Bookstore and Domy, unless I find what I want, Junot Diaz's Drown at Borders where I have a coupon for 25% off. Actually, I will probably go to at least one of the other bookstores whether I find the book at Borders or not. Sorry, I'm too poor to be a good supporter of independents.

Then maybe I will go to a museum. I have been feeling very art needy since I returned from vacation. Valerie and I went to the Georgia O'Keefe museum and the art museum as well as a couple of galleries in Santa Fe. In Albuquerque, we went to a gallery exhibit for Trappings, which asks women to identify clothing that makes them feel powerful. All interesting and enjoyable. But I still feel like I need more art and I feel like I need to be artistic, but I haven't been feeling very artistic of late. Maybe a museum visit will inspire me, but I won't hold my breath.


Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Ouch! and two books

Yesterday, I stayed on the computer so long that it got too hot and actually burned my leg. I knew that I was staying on the computer too long, but I just kept getting sucked in by things on the Internet. Today, I got my chill pad out, but I don't plan to stay on the computer all day--notice that I said plan. ;-)

After I realized that my leg was really burned, I got off the computer with the intention to be productive around the house. Instead, I finished reading Garden of Eden and started reading Skim, a graphic novel, which I finished last night before I went to bed. Before I went to sleep, after doing three NYT crosswords, one with Valerie's help, I read the intro to Virginia Woolf's To the Lighthouse, thinking that I might read it today, but I have yet to do any reading.

Garden of Eden
I bought this book a while back because I saw something on about a movie version being in the works, and it is a Hemingway novel that I have never read. Actually, I had only read a one of his novels and some of his short stories. I taught Old Man and the Sea for several years, and I read his short stories as a student and as a teacher.

In the beginning, I liked the two main characters Catherine and David Bourne, even though I felt the dialogue was mostly inane and completely unbelievable. As the story progressed, though, I just got tired of them and wished that Hemingway would have written explicitly about all the sex they were having with each other and eventually with another woman, with whom both of them had fallen in love. Of course, it's Hemingway, so the latter part of the book focuses on the heterosexual and merely alludes to the homosexual. Plus, of course, Catherine is tormented by her desire for another woman and by her adultery with the other woman while David feels only love toward the other woman--no adulterous guilt at all. Not surprising for Heminway, I don't think. At least Catherine didn't off herself after committing adultery or a perhaps even more despicable farewell act.

I am going to do some research and see what others thought/think about this novel and maybe I will write more about it later.

I am learning to like graphic novels. They make me feel like I can read faster. :-) This one is about typical teenage angst. While the dialogue leaves much to be desired and the plot is not very original, the graphics are wonderful.

Now, I'm going to get off the computer, have some lunch, and do something besides sit on the couch and surf the Internet. Maybe I'll work on organizing my stuff in the office or maybe I will go some place. Later.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Dad Memories

Today was Father's Day, and I miss my dad. He's been dead for over two years now--damn! time really does fly.

Tonight, I was catching up on some of my online reading and came across this episode of You Must Read This. It is about father-daughter bonding that begins with a shared movie experience. It reminded me of all the times that I spent watching movies with my dad and how those movies often led me to books. (My dad and I never really shared books: he wasn't a reader.) I figured out at a very young age that one way to get my dad all to myself, away from my mom and my four siblings, was to stay up late and watch movies with him. I love that I grew up in a large family, but sometimes, it was hard to have one-on-one time with my parents. Movie watching gave me that time with my dad.

In addition to movies, I also like to watch professional golf, especially the major tournaments, because my dad LOVED golf! When he wasn't playing golf on the weekends, he was watching golf. The US Open was supposed to be decided today. As I watched Tiger Woods make a birdie putt on the 18th hole this evening, I thought about how excited my dad would have been to see the US Open end in an 18-hole playoff, especially with the way Tiger played the whole tournament--he was a Tiger fan. Dad would have arranged his work on Monday to accommodate watching the playoff. He would have gone to work early and come for lunch and stayed until it was over or it was obvious who would win, then he would have either gone back to work for a while or gone and played golf himself. No doubt.

Fond memories of my dad make missing him a little easier to take. Happy Father's Day!

Sunday, June 15, 2008

It's so quiet this morning!

I love to get up early on a Sunday morning and bask in the quiet. Usually, on morning's like this, I read, but I finished Christine Falls rather late last night, and I am not in the mood this morning for either of the other books I am reading or ready to start the next book club selection. I should be doing something in preparation for a vacation road trip, but I'm not ready to do that yet either. Instead I am enjoying a cup of fair trade coffee, scoring 54 points! in Scrabulous on Facebook, and surfing the Internet.

Speaking of vacation, Valerie & I are leaving Tuesday on a road trip to Santa Fe and Albuquerque, NM, and Mesa Verde, CO. I have never traveled west of Texas, so I am excited about this trip. I told Valerie yesterday that it was kind of weird to be going some places where I really have no preconceived ideas about what to do/see. I think the only other place that I have been like that is Big Bend, which is my favorite nature place to go now. I know that Santa Fe is popular with artists and art lovers but nothing else really. Valerie went to grad school in Albuquerque, so she knows much about it. I can't remember now how we found out about Mesa Verde, but the idea of seeing cliff dwellings appeals to me.

Now I have to figure what books to take. I will not take War & Peace. It is just too big. I thought that I would be finished with Hero, and still might be, but I probably won't take it if I'm not because it is signed by the author. I should take the current book club selection, Eleven Minutes, which I am not looking forward to reading. Hmmm, how many should I take? I know that I won't read all that I take, but I like to be prepared for reading emergencies. ;-) I think that I will take three books, preferably paperbacks because they are lighter and easier to fit into a purse/backpack. I think I'll get a second cup of coffee now and browse our bookshelves now.

Enjoy your Sunday! Later.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

My summer of leisure

In May, I finished my master's degree. I am free this summer--no work and no school. What am I going to do with all my free time?
  • Read as many books as possible. Right now, I'm reading three--see the sidebar.
  • Blog more than once per month.
  • Write something other than a boring blog post, maybe some poems or an essay.
  • Walk for at least one hour at least five days per week. So far, I have walked three days, but today was the first one that I walked for an hour.
  • Clean house one day a week. I did laundry today. Does that count as cleaning house?
  • Swim.
  • Get my stuff in the office weeded, recycled, and organized.
  • Add books to my LibraryThing library.
  • Try out the watercolors that I bought about two years ago.
  • Find a new quote for my blog.
I'm sure there are other things that I could do. Any suggestions?

Monday, May 12, 2008

Where did poetry month go?

Geez, I'm a very bad poetry pusher. I can't believe that I just stopped posting poems on April 11, and that was a month ago now.

In the mean time, I graduated from the University of North Texas with a masters in library and information sciences. Woohoo! I am so glad to be finished and proud that I didn't give up and quit before I finished this degree like I did the masters in literature that I pursued in the 90s.

Since I will have more free time, I should be able to post more often--notice that I said should. :-) If I want to post more, I need to figure out what to write about. I tend to jot down blog ideas in my Moleskine, but I also tend to forget about the jottings until the moment has passed to write about the topic. Maybe my new phone, a Palm Centro, will help me post more.

I used to have a Palm Pilot that I loved and used all the time. Then it died, perhaps from overuse, and I never replaced it. I kept hesitating because I thought I might get a Palm phone or a Blackberry, but I never did. I just kept replacing my cell phone with a newer cell phone, nothing cutting edge or cool. Now, I have a Palm again. (Thanks, Valerie!)

If you are one of the two readers who hasn't given up on this blog yet, I will try to post something interesting on a regular basis, or at least, post links to someone else's interesting posts/articles.

Until then, have a good Monday.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Friday's poem

I have had Break, Blow, Burn for a while (a gift from Valerie, I think). In this book, Camille Paglia analyzes 43 "of the world's best poems" (book jacket). When I first received the book, I started reading it straight through, but I stopped at some point and put the book aside for other books and never went back. I chose today's poem because it is the next one, where I left off reading. It just happens to be by Emily Dickinson, one of my favorite poets. I hope you enjoy the poem and your Friday.

Safe in their alabaster chambers--
Untouched by Morning--
And untouched by Noon--
Lie the meek members of the Resurrection--
Rafter of Satin--and Roof of Stone!

Grand go the Years--in the Crescent--above them--
Worlds scoop their Arcs--
And Firmaments--row--
Diadems--drop--and Doges--surrender--
Soundless as dots--on a Disc of Snow--

Monday, April 07, 2008

Pin free but not pain free and today's poem

This morning, the doctor yanked the pins out of my finger. I really have no idea if I could feel the pins coming out of my hand or not because I was in too much pain from the doctor's death grip on my hand. OUCH!!! My day ended with more pain at physical therapy. Seriously, the concentrated pain of the physical therapist bending my very stiff finger was worse than any of the pain that I have experienced throughout this whole ordeal. I almost cried. Seriously. The old adage no pain, no gain must be the Hippocratic oath of physical therapists. The really sad part is that I will have to go back for more pain two or three times a week for at least a month.

Before I get too depressed about my pain-filled immediate future, I will give you a poem for today. This poem is from my (or Valerie's--we both have one) signed copy of Mary Oliver's Thirst. Most of these poems deal with her grief over the death of her partner of over forty years. Many of them are sad but so beautiful. This one makes me say WOW and wish I could write like her.

Those Days

When I think of her I think of the long summer days
she lay in the sun, how she loved the sun, how we
spread our blanket, and friends came, and

the dogs played, and then I would get restless and
get up and go off to the woods
and the fields, and the afternoon would

soften gradually and finally I would come
home, through the long shadows, and into the house
where she would be

my glorious welcoming, tan and hungry and ready to tell
the hurtless gossips of the day and how I
listened leisurely while I put

around the room flowers in jars of water--
daisies, butter-and-eggs, and everlasting--
until like our lives they trembled and shimmered

Saturday, April 05, 2008

A poem for Saturday

Thanks to working a little late and a great night out with friends I failed to post a poem yesterday. Of course, the likelihood that I might actually post a poem every day of this month was low to begin with. After all, my posts have been so sporadic for the previous several months that what small readership I had has dwindled to almost none. I am hoping that my post-graduation posts, especially during the summer and holiday breaks, will be more regular and generate some more interest and bring in some more readers. One can always hope, right? :-)

Anyway, today's poem is by Ani Difranco from Verses. I bought this book of poetry for Valerie a couple of weeks ago. Valerie is a big Ani fan, and she said this morning that I should post one of the poems from this book, something that I had already intended to do. My plan is to post at least one poem from each book of poetry that we own--most of our poetry books are shelved together on one shelf of our great wall of books. I love our wall of books! (If I wasn't such a lame blogger, I would include a photo here.)

Okay, here's the poem .


when they said he could walk on water
what it sounds like to me

is he could float like a butterfly
and sting like a bee

literal people are scary, man
literal people scare me

out there trying to rid the world of its poetry

while getting it wrong fundamentally
down at the church of "look!
it says right here, see!"

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Pin removal postponed and today's poem

I am so disappointed that I won't get things pins removed from my finger tomorrow as planned. The doctor had to reschedule for Monday morning. I am having trouble accepting the change, and I learned of the change yesterday. I am sooooooooooo ready to free my hand from the bandages. I know it will take some time to regain full use of my finger and stop having pain, but I am ready to be able use my left hand again. Alas, there is nothing I can do about it. I'm not brave enough or reckless enough to pull the pins out myself, and I can't (won't?) convince Valerie to do it for me, so I guess I have to live with the inconvenience for a few more days.

Enough whining, I'll give you a poem now. I'll make it a short one since I am still typing one-handed for the most part. The poem, by Jane Mayhall, is from her book Sleeping Late on Judgment Day. Enjoy!

Love Is

Love is not gourmet
cream trifles
or pacified sucks.

But walking on broken rocks
where nobody goes--
love is.


Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Today's Poem

Valerie went to San Francisco recently. At my behest, she went to City Lights Book Store, and she brought back this book. Today's poem is in this book, and it celebrates two things that I really enjoy, poetry and baseball.

The Origin of Baseball
--Kenneth Patchen

Someone had been walking in and out
Of the world without coming
To much decision about anything.
The sun seemed too hot most of the time.
There weren't enough birds around
And the hills had a silly look
When he got on top of one.
The girls in heaven, however, thought
Nothing of asking to see his watch
Like you would want someone to tell
A joke--'Time,' they'd say, 'what's
That mean--time?' laughing with the edges
Of their white mouths, like a flutter of paper
In a madhouse. And he'd stumble over
General Sherman or Elizabeth B.
Browning, muttering, 'Can't you keep
Your big wings out of the aisle?' But down
Again, there'd be millions of people without
Enough to eat and men with guns just
Standing there shooting each other.

So he wanted to throw something
And he picked up a baseball.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Poetry Month Begins

April is the National Poetry Month--my favorite month. I am going to try very hard to post a poem here each day. I probably won't comment on them most days, but they will be here for your enjoyment.

Today's poem is by one of my favorite poets, Adrienne Rich.

Diving into the Wreck

First having read the book of myths,
and loaded the camera,
and checked the edge of the knife-blade,
I put on
the body-armor of black rubber
the absurd flippers
the grave and awkward mask.
I am having to do this
not like Cousteau with his
assiduous team
aboard the sun-flooded schooner
but here alone.

There is a ladder.
The ladder is always there
hanging innocently
close to the side of the schooner.
We know what it is for,
we who have used it.
it is a piece of maritime floss
some sundry equipment.

I go down.
Rung after rung and still
the oxygen immerses me
the blue light
the clear atoms
of our human air.
I go down.
My flippers cripple me,
I crawl like an insect down the ladder
and there is no one
to tell me when the ocean
will begin.

First the air is blue and then
it is bluer and then green and then
black I am blacking out and yet
my mask is powerful
it pumps my blood with power
the sea is another story
the sea is not a question of power
I have to learn alone
to turn my body without force
in the deep element.

And now: it is easy to forget
what I came for
among so many who have always
lived here
swaying their crenellated fans
between the reefs
and besides
you breathe differently down here.

I came to explore the wreck.
The words are purposes.
The words are maps.
I came to see the damage that was done
and the treasures that prevail.
I stroke the beam of my lamp
slowly along the flank
of something more permanent
than fish or weed

the thing I came for:
the wreck and not the story of the wreck
the thing itself and not the myth
the drowned face always staring
toward the sun
the evidence of damage
worn by salt and away into this threadbare beauty
the ribs of the disaster
curving their assertion
among the tentative haunters.

This is the place.
And I am here, the mermaid whose dark hair
streams black, the merman in his armored body.
We circle silently
about the wreck
we dive into the hold.
I am she: I am he

whose drowned face sleeps with open eyes
whose breasts still bear the stress
whose silver, copper, vermeil cargo lies
obscurely inside barrels
half-wedged and left to rot
we are the half-destroyed instruments
that once held to a course
the water-eaten log
the fouled compass

We are, I am, you are
by cowardice or courage
the one who find our way
back to this scene
carrying a knife, a camera
a book of myths
in which
our names do not appear.

Saturday, March 29, 2008


I am absolutely elated and thoroughly relieved. I passed Capstone, a week-long essay test that I took in February, which is the "final exam" for my master's degree program. I was truly worried that I might not pass one of the three essays, and the exam is an all or nothing situation. Now, I just have to pass the class I'm taking this semester, and I will have a master's degree in library and information sciences. Hopefully, I will then be able to let go of some of my disappointment at never finishing my thesis for a master's in literature.

One minor sadness: I wish my parents were still alive to witness my success. I know that they would be proud, and my mom would tell everyone that she thought might remember me. After she died, I discovered that she had told so many people about even my smallest professional triumphs.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Catching Up: A Thursday Thirteen

I've haven't blogged in almost a month, and I thought a Thursday thirteen would be a fun way to get caught up.
  1. Falling for Hillary - On Feb. 28, I went to see Hillary Clinton. I was very excited, even though I was going alone because Valerie was out of town. At the time, I didn't know of any other friends whom I thought would want to join me. At this venue, unlike the Barack Obama rally that I attended, anyone could stand on the floor in front of the stage. Hillary gave an inspiring speech, and I was so glad that I didn't decide not to go alone. After being crushed by the crowd trying to get her autograph after the speech, I tripped and fell in the parking lot on the way to my car. No, I did not just trip of my own accord; my shoe got tangled in some plastic netting that had been used to block off parts of the parking lot. Yes, the same netting that others were walking over with no problem. Although I knew immediately that I had hurt my left pinkie very badly, I was more embarrassed than hurt.
  2. Secret Service Surprise - After I fell, I needed to figure out if and how I would go to the emergency room. I was in an unfamiliar part of the city, so I didn't know where the closest emergency room was. A man in uniform came over to see if I was okay, and he suggested that I should let some EMTs take a look at my hand before I decided if I could drive myself to the emergency room. He said there was an ambulance on the property already so I agreed. He radioed someone about the ambulance. Soon, two other officers arrived. One of them suggested that I go ahead and drive myself to the nearest ER, because the ambulance had already left the premises. Thinking that police officers could tell me where the closest ER, I asked, and was quite surprised when one of them said they were from DC. It was then that I realized they were Secret Service officers and not local officers.
  3. A Broken Pinkie - Feel free to laugh. The thought of needing surgery on a pinkie seems rather absurd to me. The pain and inconvenience of it has not been funny though. Seeing the hooks from the two pins that were inserted into the bone almost made me pass out this week when the splint and bandage were changed. I still have at least one and a half weeks before the pins are removed. I was lucky that it was my left one. Since I am right-handed, I can still write but typing virtually one-handed is slow and not much fun. And it has put a crimp in my Spring Break fun.
  4. Lucy, Finally - Monday, the first day of Spring Break, Valerie and I finally went to the museum to see the Lucy exhibit. In addition to the bones, the exhibit contains historical and cultural artifacts from various parts of Ethiopia. I enjoyed the exhibit immensely, but I enjoyed seeing Valerie's enjoyment of it even more. She really misses anthropology, and I'm sure that seeing the exhibit made her miss it even more, but it was really great to see how excited it made her.
  5. Recent Reading 1 - I finally found the time to finish reading Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche. I have decided than I do not like having several books going at one time. I read the first half of this one while I was reading some other books, then I put it aside to complete a book club reading, so by the time I finished the book, I had forgotten some things that I planned to say about the book. I was able to read the second half of the book during two post-surgery, sleepless nights thanks to a painkiller that kept me awake. I did mark one passage: "...a single act could reverberate over time and space and leave stains that could never be washed off." I wish that I had two hands to elaborate on the meaning of the passage. This is a civil war story, and it is even more interesting knowing that the war was real but the it is now forgotten and/or ignored. Adiche's prose drew me into the first section of the novel, and she kept me fixated even during the horrifying descriptions of the effects of war. In the final part of the novel, Adiche's characters attempt to put their post-war lives back together. I know I haven't said enough about it, but I highly recommend this novel. Also, if you have a chance to see Adiche read, don't miss her.
  6. Recent Reading 2 - Last month's book club selection was The Girls by Lori Lansens. I was pleasantly surprised by this novel. It is narrated by conjoined twins. Lansens does a good job of distinguishing between the two sisters. This novel has a lot to say about the connections we have with family. Lansens also does a good job of making the girls' as-normal-as-possible life believable in the context of the book. If I wasn't one handed, I would say more.
  7. Recent Reading 3 - The current book club selection is The Complete Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi. This is only the second graphic book that I have read. I really enjoyed it. It was recommended to me over a year ago when I voiced my dissatisfaction with Reading Lolita in Tehran. Persepolis was much more satisfying without being heavy-handed or too light.
  8. Current Reading 1 - I am trying to finish a previous book club selection, Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See. I wasn't able to finish it because I had that 7 days of writing hell for my degree. After that week, I moved on to the next selection. I'm about half way through it.
  9. Current Reading 2 - I just started Fathers and Sons by Ivan Turgenev. This will be the first of four books for the Russian Reading Challenge that I am supposed to be participating in this year.
  10. Next on my t0-read stack - Garden of Eden, one of Hemingway's posthumous novels. I read the first chapter when I purchased the novel a few weeks ago. It seems like an intriguing plot for a he-man like Hemingway.
  11. Another on my t0-read stack - The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz. Valerie gave me this book for Christmas (birthday?) and I am ready to find time for it.
  12. Still Waiting - I have two more weeks to wait before I find out if I passed Capstone and will get my masters degree in May. I am still not feeling confident, but I am ready to know one way or the other.
  13. At last - Thirteen things are more difficult to think of and even harder to write one-handed than I thought. Whew!
Now, I'm going to work the crossword with Valerie before she does it without me. Later!

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Just a quick post

before I clean the kitchen and go to bed. I am supposed to be working on a research paper, but I am procrastinating as usual.

I just have to say that I saw Barack Obama last night, and he was awesome. Not awesome enough for me to change my vote, but awesome still. He does have some great ideas. And, although I kept saying things like Is that possible? Can he really do that? How can he do that?, I did leave feeling like he could do some great things.

Texas matters this time, and I think it's very exciting. This is the best election year ever! :-)

Okay, I have to do the dishes now. 'Night all.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

A Rainy Day of Reading

Too bad it wasn't pleasure reading. No, instead I spent most of the day reading for my final library science class, History and Culture of Youth Information Services or something exciting like that. ;-) Although I don't consider myself a history aficionado, I have enjoyed reading about the women who feminized librarianship and children's literature. Don't worry, I'm not going to expound on the topic here.

Despite enjoying that reading, I wish I had spent the day pleasure reading. I have two books that I want to finish and one that I need to start so I can have it read for the next book club meeting. I want to finish Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. I started this book a while ago, but I put it aside to read a book (or two?) for work and to finish a book club book. Then I didn't go back to it because school was starting up and I needed to read Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See, which I was not able to finish on time for book club because I spent all last week writing three research papers for my degree.

Mostly, though, I want to read Half of a Yellow Sun. I can't wait to see the author Adichie read from this book tomorrow night. Since I was first seduced by this story, I have been trying to articulate what has drawn me into it. On Friday at work, I was thinking about it and thought I had figured out what I wanted to say about it, but now, I can't really remember my ideas. I'm sure I will recall them later. For now, I think I will retire to read to the sound of the rain.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

A Week of Writing

This week I will be completing Capstone, a week-long essay test that essentially concludes my pursuit of a master's degree in library science. The program that I am in does not require a master's thesis, thank goodness. I tried that when I pursued a master of arts in literature in the 90s. Yeah, I never got past the proposal for my thesis. I was just too lazy about doing the work, even in the summer when I wasn't teaching high school English. I still feel like a quitter and loser for not completing it, too.

This time, though, I know I will finish--my job depends on it. I will spend Monday through Sunday researching and writing three essays. I am confident that I can do this, but I am worried about my tendency to procrastinate. Really, Procrastination is my middle name. I am procrastinating right now. (I should be working on class work for the final class that I am taking this semester or organizing articles from my previous classes to use as resources this week.)

This morning as I finished reading the Capstone Guide, it struck me that I feel like I am about to do something physical. I feel like I should have done some physical training, doing push-ups, sit-ups, jogging, or weight-lifting. I feel like I am going to need some physical stamina to survive the week.

Of course, I have spent the last two years, doing mental training for this week, and I really do believe that I will be successful. I just don't want to be working around the clock next Saturday and Sunday, submitting my work at the last possible minute. I have done that with too many of my assignments in my coursework. Each time, I have said that I won't do it again, but I still do. Hopefully, I will feel too stressed this week to let my penchant for procrastination lead me down that path again.

Also, I know that Valerie will monitor my procrastination when she's home and will call me on it when she sees me doing it. Hopefully, I won't get too pissy with her when she catches me procrastinating either. If I do, I will just have to make it up to her as soon as the week is over.

Now, I should stop procrastinating and do a little class work before an online chat about Captstone begins at 1:30.

You probably won't hear from me again until after next Sunday. Wish me luck!

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Some restored faith

What a surprise! Hillary is winning in New Hampshire. Everyone had written her off there, and the media had all but given Obama the Democratic nomination after the Iowa results. I'm not going to boast or brag here because I know that this race is far from over. I will say, though, that I am pleased with the results.

I have been very angry at the Democrats, especially women (sorry Valerie!) , for the past week. I'm not exactly sure why it makes me so angry. In truth, I like Obama; I understand his appeal. If he ends up winning the nomination, I will be an ardent supporter. I just can't figure out how/why any woman who calls herself a liberal or a Democrat would not support an extremely qualified woman, a woman who has a real chance of becoming the president. Maybe it's my age--I am over 40--but I just think this race is the best chance for the women of America to put their votes where their mouths are and elect a woman president.

Now, I really should go to bed, but I think I will read for a while first. Tonight, I had intended to post some reading resolutions for 2008, but I guess I will post those tomorrow.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

A Great First Day

Actually before I write about the first day of 2008, I want to say something about the last night of 2007. Valerie and I went to a party at Paasha, a new club in H-town, and we had a wonderful time--one of the best New Year's Eves in my life! Lots of fun and no drama! We danced and laughed and didn't get home until almost 2:00. I am so glad that we decided to go to that party.
Yesterday morning, Valerie woke up ready to tackle some household projects, like cleaning the patio, putting away the Christmas decorations, and organizing our storage closet. Although cleaning the patio this week had been on my agenda for this week, I wasn't really enthusiastic about the prospect of spending a holiday "working."

However, once we got going on the patio, I was completely into the cleaning. Since we moved in together, we have not done anything to our patio except clear the leaves off the drains and wade through the leaves to get out the gate to do laundry. I wish we had taken a before photo of the ankle-deep blanket of leaves that covered almost every inch of the patio. It took us all afternoon and into the night, but we got almost everything done...on the patio. Yeah, we didn't do anything with the Christmas decorations or the storage closet. We didn't even eat our black-eyed peas and cornbread, which is a typical New Year's repast in my world, until after 9:00. But it was worth it, and we actually had a good time doing it together.

Now, if it wasn't so damn cold outside today--36 degrees in very cold to a wimpy Texan--I could sit on the patio and waste today instead of wasting it on the couch. :-)