Monday, June 30, 2008

Book Review Monday

I picked up this book the other week after reading the first few paragraphs and not wanting to put it down. I remember when this book was written, Joan Didion was on the Today Show talking about her memoir and why she had written it. The story is about the sudden death of her husband, one evening shortly after Christmas. The book that follows is heartbreaking, wonderful, amazing and endearing. What follows is a love story of the most ordinary sense between two people and the daughter they raised. The memoir gives snippets of a life well lived, well travelled, overflowing with friends and experiences. It's a life most would only dream to have. However, I identified so much with the author. Having just lost my Uncle Dennis, and trying to cope with grief and grieving and loss, this book was a wonderful read. It basically puts loss into the most understandable of words - having no logic or reasoning, wanting that person to be back here and thinking they indeed will return. That loss carries on much longer than society allows us to grieve. This was a beautifully written memoir, one I highly recommend, even if you are not grieving. I think it helps to prepare you for what you may or may not go through. It has both clinical information taken out of books and papers as well as wonderful lines from poetry and literature. I could not put this book down and I did not want it to end. The glimpse inside other people's relationships and marriage was absolutely fascinating and very well written and described. And the loss she experienced, while beyond words, was very poignant and a telling memorial to her lost husband.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

A Weekend Lost

As I mentioned in my previous posts, we had a visitor this past weekend. He is a friend of my Dad's and of course, anyone with any relation to my family is always welcome at my house. He had some business to take care of in northeastern PA, and decided to stay with us to save some money and get shown around the city. Alex and I are always more than happy to have people visit and we take special care to make sure that guests are comfortable, that we get to check out whatever it is they might be interested in. We make sure to go to some of our favorite places and we always make an effort to make it to the most famous places (Liberty Bell, Independence Hall, etc.). Alex and I have spent this entire weekend catering to a person who is very opinionated, does not like anything or anywhere, complains about everything, and becomes argumentative. I'm sorry - who raised you?
Who taught you
  • to knock the place people live;
  • to complain about the ethnic/racial makeup of a neighborhood you are walking through (as you are walking past people of that ethnic background);
  • to call local art "propaganda";
  • to interrupt;
  • to bring up topics of religion, politics, or law and argue the hell out of it with your hosts;
  • to walk around a large city remarking that some areas smell like "dead animals", "raw fish", or "Mexico";
  • to be taken to a lovely Italian restaurant which your hosts love and complain that "it's not what you were expecting";
  • to describe how little you enjoy hanging out at bars because "they're too noisy";
  • to complain that "fancy restaurants don't give you enough food to eat";
  • to complain that the National Constitution Center consisted entirely of "propaganda" that promoted the end of slavery and women's suffrage (as if these things should not have happened!);
  • to complain that anyone of any color other than white has no right to live in this country;
  • to describe Mexicans in general as "dirty, lazy and the scourge of our civilization";
  • to complain about surfing and the ocean because you think surfers are "assholes";
  • and to all around represent my hometown as bigoted jerks who have never left their tiny little bumfuck town?
Thanks a lot, houseguest! You will never be invited into my home again. Ever. And you know what? It made me realize how lucky I am to have never had a terrible houseguest until now. Pretty good record, no?

Friday, June 27, 2008

Haiku Super Duper Friday

Dude! Summer is here.
So great to celebrate the
season with some friends.


Presenting today.
I hope it goes well. Always
get way too nervous.


Time to celebrate
Cheese steaks. Water ice.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

To think they cut funding for music in our schools...

Random Thursday Buzz

  • Friend's in town visiting. I always forget what a great place Philly is 'til I walk around with someone who's never been here. Quaint, cute, walkable, old fashioned - Philly's great!
  • The washing machine that broke months and months ago in our basement and then they couldn't get it out disappeared the other day! So much more room in my basement now!
  • New lab moved onto our floor. I think there's going to be a little elbowing around until things get settled. Hopefully it will lead to good relations.
  • It's supposed to storm like crazy for the next 3 days. Why does this always happen when people come to visit?
  • We're headed to the Berkshires in 2.5 weeks - I can't wait!
  • Trying to purchase a ticket to my friend's wedding in Aug in the Bay. Can you believe how expensive tickets are? We're looking at paying around $500/ticket just to fly there. I'm sorry, but should it cost over $1000 to go to a wedding?
  • We've been going nuts with planting things in our backyard. We've got two types of squash, cucumbers, tomatoes, peppers and a couple flower plants. I love how our tiny yard looks and am so excited we might have a "harvest" this year! Farmer Brown has been diligently watering all the plants every morning and night and checking on them daily. We report things to each other like: "Did you see the new flower on the zucchini plant?" or "Have you seen how big the peppers are?" It's actually kinda fun to watch stuff grow.
And I think that's all folks. Have a good'un!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Yoga for the Day

So, I've been taking yoga now for over a year and I love it. I'm currently in 3 classes, which gives me a great range of stuff I can do / am learning how to do. So I thought I'd suggest a couple things to do that I really like and are really nice.
1) Hot? Open your mouth, roll your tongue up and breathe through your mouth. Cooling, right?
2) When I stress, my jaw and face tighten up alot. Try a move called Lion's Breath. Take a deep breath in, all the way into your belly, then as you exhale, open your mouth and stick your tongue out like you're roaring like a lion.
3) Another one of my favorite poses is a hip releaser. I carry a lot of tension in my shoulders and my hips, so this one is great. Sit in a cross legged position, with one leg in front of the other, instead of on top. Breathe in deeply and extend your hands behind you and clasp them behind your back. As you exhale, lean forward and bring your forehead to the ground and your clasped hands behind you and try to reach over your head. Repeat with the other leg in front.
Now, don't you feel relaxed?

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Book Review Tuesday

I generally devour books, most any type (except science fiction) and most any genre. I picked up this book in the used book store because (I must admit) I liked the cover. I've seen this book everywhere and I've always wondered if it was any good. Well, basically, it's not. The book is about Jane, and it hops around in Jane's life, first starting when she was young and then moving into adulthood. To be honest, I really couldn't figure this whole thing out. It started off well enough, with Jane meeting her brother's first "real" girlfriend and the sadness she felt when her brother broke up with her. And essentially, I think the book is a reflection of Jane trying to figure out what relationships are all about and why people have them and they work or don't work. But this book, sadly, failed at this attempt. I'm not saying I didn't like it, I just think I didn't get it. I've never read a book where it's short stories all about the same character, but not sequential. I really learned very little about the subject character and all the other characters kinda blended together. Even the story when her Dad died (which should have been heart-wrenching) was just mediocre. The relationship with the older, alcoholic guy who talks like Rodney Dangerfield? A little creepy (although we are never told the age of Jane, it's implied that her boyfriend is much older). What's the point in discussing these things if the character or the reader learns nothing from them? Where's the point? Are May-December romances any different from any other romance? Isn't she just looking for her father? Why didn't she pay attention to her father when he was alive? Did she regret this? These are all questions the character could have answered but did not. And, as far as the "chick lit" category it's in: I must ask...what is it about women authors writing about women that automatically categorizes it as something fluffy and pink? I think that women writing about women's lives, ideas, hardships is great. But this "dumbing down" of women's literature is not acceptable. Just anyone should not be able to publish a book. And authors should be held to standards, not allowed to write and publish crap for people to consume. And I think I'll get off my soapbox now.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Boda Wrap Up

Dear Philly Car Share,
I love you. You are amazing and convenient and altogether a great idea. Keep up the good work.

Dear New Jersey,
HEY THERE! Why does it cost $6 to drive the entire length of the state on your beloved "turnpike", but $8 to cross a g-damn bridge? And seriously, the signs saying "No Photos" aren't really gonna stop terrorists if they want to blow up a bridge. Just sayin'.

Dear Long Island,
Look, you seem allright, although I prolly won't ever return to your areas. But seriously, having "Merrick Blvd" exits off two different "parkways" is not cool, since the Merrick Blvds are not the same road. Also, they should not both be exit 24. Also, the idea of having streets named "Jerusalem Ave" or "Jerusalem Blvd" is not cool either, especially when they are not the same road.

Dear People who Plan Weddings,
Please make sure your directions are correct on the invitations. Please drive the route to make sure the street names match what they say on Google Maps. Because Google Maps is often wrong. Please put directions or a map with your invitation for people who are driving from out of town. Please also indicate if there we are not to exit at the FIRST Merrick Blvd, exit 24, but we are to wait until the SECOND Merrick Blvd, exit 24.

Dear People who name streets on Long Island,
Get a clue.

Dear NY Drivers,
Look, there's traffic. It goes on for miles and miles. Anticipate it. And try a little patience. Because we cannot go any faster than the people in front of us. It's just physics, not anything personal. Deal with it and stop honking.

Dear Brooklyn,
Your signs are funny. "Leaving Brooklyn: Fuggeddaboutit"

Dear Brooklyn,
Charging $10 to cross a bridge is even more atrocious than charging $8 from NJ to Staten Island. It cost us nearly $30 to drive 250 miles. Not cool, man.


Friday, June 20, 2008

Haiku Gettin 'Er Done Friday

Another week come
and gone. How does time fly by?
Thesis moves along.


Lots of vacay soon.
Visiting the Berkshires for
some relaxation.


Wedding in Aug.
Then Sept. Also heading to
German Frog Meeting.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Dear President Bush

How is it that you are now pushing for drilling for oil off our coasts when you've (supposedly) been against it all your presidency? Did you do any research before you made this decision? Do you know that all the boats used for drilling new oil thingys are booked up for 5 years? How will this change the price of gas when oil can't even begin to be drilled for for 5 years? Even I can figure this out, and I'm no economist or geologist. Do you really think drilling for the measly amount of oil we have off our coasts will have an effect on gas prices even so? Drilling for oil destroys the environment, clogs up our beaches, kills wildlife. Guess why we exist on this planet? 'Cause there's oceans here. Don't destroy them!
Here's what you should do: Invest in young scientists, engineers, chemists, physicists. Create a group of people geared toward coming up with clean energy sources or improving the outlook for some of the energy sources we have (solar, wind, nuclear). No, I'm not talking about ethanol, which is a crock of shit, or "clean coal", wich is (hello!) still coal, still burning and still making C02. Let's invest in the technology you've completely ignored for your entire presidency. Let's actually do something positive for the environment, to curb global warming.

Dear Senator McCain,
Don't run some stupid lie of a commercial saying that you "stood up to President Bush on his environmental policies" when you clearly are supporting offshore drilling! You are such a lying, conniving, disgusting politician. I can't imagine why anyone would even consider voting for you.


Wednesday, June 18, 2008

SATC: the review

There are spoilers ahead...

I've taken a long time to post about this movie because I'm not sure how I felt about it. I went with some of my girlfriends to this great old theatre in the 'burbs. My friend KJ made this cute little finger foods and cosmos party at her apt and we all dressed up and headed to the theatre. The place was great- old theatre with creaky seats, huge ceilings, painted ornate walls, etc. It was great. I had love the Sex and the City series on HBO and I thought it tackled a lot of pertinent topics about being single and living in a city. I loved the power the women held, and although Carrie mostly drove me nuts with her flaky personality, I loved Miranda's personality because I identified immensely with it. I loved Samantha's confidence - I wish I was as confident about myself - and Charlotte reminded me of the dreamer in me. Anyways, I felt the series ended well, putting the emphasis on the four women and how important their relationship is with each other. This movie starts off 5 years after the series has ended. All the women's personalities have changed to a certain extent. Samantha is living with Smith, her last boyfriend from the series, but they've moved to Hollywood and Samantha has turned into a woman waiting at home for her boyfriend to come home instead of out doing things like she normally would have been. Charlotte is the same, but we see some bad sides come out in her at some points. Carrie is even more superficial (if you can believe it) and Miranda is so bogged down by work she doesn't even notice her marriage going down the drain. I feel that Miranda and Steve's story about working, raising a family and forgetting to be married is a pretty common theme and I was glad they addressed it. Although, I was surprised at the casual way Miranda threw out her marriage and "moved on", although they eventually work it out and get back together. The outfits were outrageous, which was wonderful to watch, although the cliche montage scenes of trying on old clothes could have been left out (seriously, how many times do you want to see Carrie in old dresses she wore in the series?). And how many entrances can Samantha make, having just flown in from LA? But the worst thing of all was the major plot line. Big and Carrie decide to get married and then he leaves her at the altar after she plans "too big of a wedding". I thought this was ridiculous. She got "Carried away" (I'm punny!) and he couldn't see himself there at all. So, of course, the girls go with Carrie to her Mexican honeymoon (where Charlotte shits herself-totally hysterical!) and then attempts to muddle through the breakup with Big again. Of course, in the end, they end up together, getting married at the courthouse, and he called the girls to meet them after the ceremony. I think this movie was a lot of fun to watch - beautiful scenery, amazing city shots (Chinatown had NO trash ANYWHERE!). The movie is like a reunion of a sorts -catching up with old friends. But instead of being happy, it turns into a big giant mess. I realize there has to be some drama in the plot or no one would want to watch it. I'm just bummed they had to compromise the character's personalities and cores to accomplish it. It's sad that four women's relationships with each other has to be turned into the over-dramatic left at the altar plot. I was expecting more than that from the writers. Especially for the highest grossing movie with only women as leads.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

First Memories

Do you remember your first memory? I was just thinking a while ago what my first memories are. I remember visiting PA when I was about 9mo old. I remember sleeping in my Aunt Bessie's attic in a crib with a stern picture of an older woman above me. I also remember sitting on the floor of my Uncle Bob's house, playing with the Kleenex box and eating the dog, Freddie's, food. Or maybe, trying to eat the food. I can remember the Christmas when I was 2 years old. My parents had gone kinda nuts, since it was the first Christmas I knew what was going on. I remember being really excited when I got up and my Mom making me wear some silly Christmas PJs. That year, I got this big cardboard house, which I think I had until I was 10 and had to move. It was painted to look like it had brick on the sides and flower pots all around. We had "jelly buttons" (English muffins with grape jelly) for breakfast and I was a bit overwhelmed from all the gifts and excitement. At some point, I went into my new house and sat by myself "just to get away". I then recall reaching out of the window and grabbing a present to open it. It wasn't a present for me, but I opened it anyways. I was disappointed because it was from my Grandma's friend, Jane Golby, who must have been 90 years old then. She lived in a rest home and made presents for everyone during craft time. I am sure it was something unappealing to my 2 year old self, so I threw it out the window of my brand new home.
My parents had a really nice backyard, with a pool and a swingset. I used to grab the hose attachment for watering plants and pretend it was a microphone. My stage name was Cindy Gargamel (of course, no relation to that evil Gargamel of the Smurfs fame) and I used to sing my heart out on the patio and "perform" for my folks. You don't realize what you put your parents through until you're older, eh?
My last memory I will bore you with was a time I was hanging out in the backyard with my Dad. He was watering plants or washing the patio off or something. I managed to fall into the mud, wearing al my clothes and my diaper. I was covered head to toe in mud - it was even in my ears! However, my only concern was my hands. I started screaming hysterically, "Wash hands! Wash hands!" As soon as my Dad had hosed off my hands, I was quite content to continue what I had been doing, even though my diaper now weighed about 30 lbs.