Note:

This blog is now retired. My new site is at: Predictably Irrational.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Follow-up to "Burst My Bubble"

As mentioned in my earlier post, Burst My Bubble, I had a bad experience with a couple of the library staff members at my local branch. And although my anger subsided, my irritation was still there.

It was good to cool down though. Good because I could write a very proper e-mail to the director of Wake County Libraries.

In the e-mail, I first informed the director about finding out about the torn stickers and explaining to my daughter why that was wrong.

Then I proceeded with the scene-by-scene action that took place as I walked to the counter and first met "The Sigher". Although I did my best to show 'just the facts, ma'am', it was still written from my perspective of how the event took place.

I felt pretty good about the e-mail, albeit, I felt I could have been taking it 'just a little to serious'. But on the Wake County web site, there are several bullets with regard to what the library staff is there for, and a few of those bullets point out that they are 'professional', 'discreet', 'helpful', etc. I pointed these out to the director -- copied them directly from the website and suggested that these two staff members be re-trained in these principles.

I was duly surprised when I received a prompt reply from him and what a reply it was.

The director started off by telling me that my story reminded him of an incident where one of his kids mucked up the neighbor's driveway. As his wife was trying hard to scrub the damage her child had made, the neighbor walked out and shrugged off the whole thing. 'Don't worry about it' was the attitude, with a laugh between them. The director continued that had that neighbor walked out and treated his wife with disrespect, how differently everything would have been between them.

So, to me, he definitely understood what I had tried to put into that e-mail: I felt bad about damage my kid did; I tried to help; and you still treat me badly.

With that, he apologized in their behalf and hoped I would continue to use the library system. All eloquently said (impressive) and cc'd the branch manager, who promptly replied to me with deep regrets for the treatment and that she had "spoken to the two employees".

Although I certainly didn't wish these two women to be fired or harshly reprimanded, I certainly didn't want their day to go on without a reminder that 1) you can't treat people rudely and 2) most importantly, don't treat ME rudely.

Book Review: Ghost by Alan Lightman

This book was on a list recommending it. Why, I do not know.

I thought this would be about a ghost. Instead, it turns out to be 'something David couldn't believe he saw' in the slumber room of a mortuary that David worked at.

Obviously, the book is from David's perspective. And let me tell you, David is one mucked up fella. And we read on and on and on and on about David's boring, depressing, brooding, thoughts throughout the 240 pages of this book.

At some point, I was bored to tears and glazed over paragraphs, not caring what they said because I could care less what I missed.

The book opens with David explaining how he couldn't believe what he saw in the slumber room. And this goes on for nearly the entire book -- the reader never finds out what he has seen until 3/4ths of the way in...and really, at that point, I didn't even care because I was so far into the book -- realizing the structure -- that no "ghost-like" creature was going to emerge from this (well, something does, but I won't give too much away just in case this is interesting for someone to pick up).

But the "I can't believe I saw something that I can't explain" goes on and it repeats itself throughout. Or David is questioned "Did you really see something?", followed by, "Do you _believe_ you saw something?" as if answering the first question has nothing to do with the second.

So there are the doubters and then there's David, who becomes upset with the doubters. And then we learn about David's insane ruminating. Hey, I do that too but I certainly don't make you read about it for 240 pages!! Good grief.

When I was ready to give up and allow my eyes to glaze the words, something interesting would happen. Deep thoughts about death, life, a life that didn't turn out the way it was planned, you know, deep down gut-wrenching thoughts that made me sad...and then, it would turn to the monotonous dribble that I had been reading. Throw in a relationship forming with the mortuary "family" and some physics professors (which the author is/was) and supernatural believers, and there's a complete bloody mess of a book.

I have no idea what this book was supposed to be about. Was the author striving to bring meaning to supernatural occurrences? Was he trying to dismiss it with science? Was he trying to send a message at all? Or was he just trying to tell a story? None of these touched on this book and after such great reads as Jane Eyre and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time, this left me a little, well, displeased.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Coffee, Tea or Milk?

I read the recent article about the American Airlines (AA) passenger (http://digg.com/health/Horrific_Dying_woman_twice_refused_oxygen_on_flight) who passed away during the flight...after, supposedly, being turned down twice by flight attendants for oxygen.

AA, of course, is refuting the claims that their two oxygen tanks were NOT empty (as reported) and that the flight attendants, in fact, DID everything they could to help the dying passenger.

Are you like me...and _doubt_ the AA report that the attendants tried to help? Am I the only person that has found that every flight attendant I've encountered in the last 15 years have been, um, what's the word, SMUG? Self-righteous? Holier-than-thou? I-don't-have-to-do-anything-remotely-close-to-providing-you-a-good-experience? Seriously, every flight attendant I have had I try to avoid. I know that any interaction with them will be BAD because the rule is, ask them to help you and RUIN THEIR ALREADY FUCKED UP DAY.

Maybe they _did_ try to help this passenger, but based on my non-first-class experience, I can totally sympathize with that passenger (may she rest in peace)...I would expect to receive the same exact treatment that was reported by her cousin.

I think librarians and flight attendants attend the same course in customer service...

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend

BTW, I just saw Jessica Alba showing off her big ass Cartier diamond ring (on the red carpet). Anyone out there considering buying me a diamond anything...DON'T. I hate diamonds and I'm so sick of these movie stars trying to out-diamond each other: I have a two carat; I have a three carat: I have a four carat!

In fact, for the last few years, I have taken all my diamonds and put them in a stack to sell. I haven't sold them yet, merely out of pure forgetfulness, but they will be sold. Even my two carat diamond anniversary ring that Tim gave me for our 10th year anniversary. No personal attachments to it -- or the others that I hold.

And although it has a slight relevance to "Blood Diamonds", it has nothing to do with the movie (as I've never seen it) -- but the root of the theme of the movie is one reason I have no interest in diamonds -- and the other relevance is the stupidity behind putting so much emphasis behind diamonds. I've seen rocks at Umstead that appeal to me more than a diamond does...

The Oscars

So I'm watching E! and the red carpet show with all the movie stars being interviewed by Ryan Crest. It reminds me of many, many years ago, before kids, when watching Joan Rivers and her daughter "do" the red carpet shows.

Tim and I usually have an Oscar party. Well, we still do. In fact, tonight was a wonderful array of Spanish food I put together. Well, I didn't put it together...it was actually based on a phenomenal meal I had last weekend, which was a birthday party with a fabulous cooking "class' (we ate, she cooked) of Spanish foods. I decided to recreate it for Tim and hence, Oscar night.

Anyhoo, way back when, Tim and I were feeling festive for our Oscar party way back when. I was feeling pretty toasty and as I listened and watched Joan Rivers crack on every woman walking the red carpet. I was getting so pissed off -- this would be back in my road rage days -- that I started an e-mail to Joan Rivers as she talked and dissed everyone.

It was quite funny, as I sit now, writing this, feeling toasty, and laughing (as I did then) at the rampage I put onto e-mail about Joan Rivers (to Joan Rivers). I remember she was wearing a brown dress and I just kept at how drab she looked and how much nerve she had to talk about these folks in their beautiful dresses while she wore...well, derby brown.

Ah, good times. Good times. I love the Oscars. Not so much because of all the famous folk, but how it annoys me to see such pompousness from all elitist walks of life.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Coach Bubba's 20K

Race day didn't start off nicely.

I had my alarm set for 5:30 AM - give me time to get my stuff ready, eat, drink a cup of coffee and tend to anything else without rushing. Instead, I was roused by CJ's alarm clock at 7 AM. Race time is at 8:30 and it's in Durham...

So everyone has to wake with a jolt. Tim and the girls are slated to root me on and, well, _get_ me there...so they're "free" day is disrupted by my lateness. But Tim gets me there with time to spare.

I look for my buddy $Bill. He has a running plan and I want to join him for it. It took awhile, so long that I thought "maybe $Bill also slept late? but that is SO not $Bill". Soon, I see Frank, a mutual running friend of me and $Bill and I ask if he's seen my man...he says he's on the way.

We start the race together. The first part of Coach Bubba is very hilly -- up and down roads throughout an old Durham neighborhood. It's pretty challenging, but for the past several weeks, hills haven't been bothering me. I actually _like_ them, which is so 180 degrees against how I felt about hills when I first started running. Hey, they're not easy, but I am pretty confident at my ability to tackle them.

$Bill and I take this part of the course on pretty well. We're chatting and enjoying the neighborhood and not having too much trouble: despite the fact that $Bill had some sore legs and my calves were recently healed (like the day before) from my vigorous Step class this past Monday.

After we reached the 10K mark, I could see $Bill getting faster and either I'm not catching up or I'm getting slower. I make sure he knows I'm good to go without him and off he goes. I have him in my sights throughout the first length of the American Tobacco Trail (ATT). He's doing great time, and in a sense, so am I. My legs feel strong and I know that the ATT is just long and mostly flat, so I am feeling pretty darn good so far.

Soon after $Bill left me, I had started my counting phase. One, Two, Three, Four -- those were the numbers of my mantra. And they don't go to the beat of my steps...just to the beat that I repeat them in my head. At this point, when I find that counting rhythm, I don't want to be bothered. I even think that I don't want to catch up to Bill to throw me off my rhythm.

Finally, at almost the nine mile marker, there is the turn-around to go back the way I just ran on the ATT. Bill and I greet each other and again, he is off. I take an extra long walk break to the nine mile marker before I start my mantra again. That extra walk did something because after that, Bill was never in my sight and the ATT gives a significant amount of longitude to see ahead of yourself. I NEVER saw Bill. I was quite happy about that because I know he had a plan and I wanted him to make his plan.

So as I run towards the 10th and 11th mile marker, I am still feeling pretty strong. I look at my time and think, you know, I _could_ make close to the time I did last year.

Last year, my goal was to hit under two hours. I did it in 1:59:30. This year, my goal was to train conservatively and finish without an aggressive goal. For me, this was around 2:10 or less.

So imagine my surprise when I saw the time I was doing and considered trying to come in at two hours. I felt a little bit adrenalized and decided I would strive for it.

But once I past mile 11, my legs were just tired. My thighs were telling me they didn't want to go any further. My head was telling me to endure. In my training these past few weeks, the most miles I had run in a long run was 9.3 -- because 0.7 was just too much to do to get to 10. So I was elated that I had my longest run in awhile at this race. I decided, then, to treat this as my long run "in training", as $Bill described it earlier in the race.

During this time of concentrated effort, however, I had to deal with "paul" and his girlfriend or wife.

When I am struggling to keep it all together in the race, I don't like to be distracted. That means, if heavy breathers come around me, they piss me off. If clogging horses come around -- you know, those people who just let their feet fall to the ground with disregard -- they piss me off. People who stop to walk distract me, etc. etc. Pretty much anyone, at the point that I am concentrating to finish, will piss me off because they are interfering with my concentration.

So Paul and his female friend were pissing me off. This was the back and forth effect: I pass them because they are walking and then they pass me running; I pass them, they pass me; repeat. ARRGH! Pick a pace and go -- I'm sick of seeing you two!

But after mile eleven, Paul and mate were struggling with the last few miles too. At one point, Paul's mate was just a few steps ahead of him. Paul was walking. The mate turns around and says "Are you okay?" Paul says nothing. She repeats "Are you okay?" He still says nothing. I'm thinking - leave the poor guy alone. He's struggling here and you're not helping.

She continues and yells "Paul!!! Answer me!!!!!!!" That's how I know his name is Paul.

He finally mumbles, surprisingly without any irritation in his tone, that he is fine.

Anyway, they go through this throughout mile 11 and I am just sick of them. He walks, she walks, they run. It's not their fault, they're struggling like me, but god damn it was annoying.

There were a few other runners around me that did the same thing. But honestly, what inspired me were the people who were coming towards me -- those slower than me -- who were still moving on with their race. These are not the fittest of the bunch and yet, here they were, running 12.4 miles and doing it the way they want to. I knew I would finish but it was pretty enlightening to see other people -- not typical athletes -- continue with their own goals in mind.

My thighs were done. There would be no sprint for me to the finish, although I did pick up the pace towards my family. I asked Mi-Mi to join me in running to the finish, which she was happy to do. I needed that -- it made me appreciate the finish even more.

So I ended with a 2:08:25 finish, within my 2:10 maximum goal. And surprisingly, I felt really great about my race. I didn't hurt too bad -- sure my legs got tired, but I still endured and finished in a fairly decent time (for me). The best part of the race was the beginning and i got to enjoy that with $Bill and then the next part on the ATT seemed to go by fairly quickly. I mean, the mile markers came quicker to me than I felt I was running. Probably doesn't make sense to anyone out there, but it was a fairly do-able feat without any agony on my end.

$Bill made it about five minutes before I did. I thought he rocked. He's probably in the best shape he's been in, in years, so he deserved to make a great time.

Next is Run for the Oaks. I think $Bill is shooting for a very competitive PR time. Me, I made my PR at that race last year. I believe it's that race report that started my blogging... This year, while I don't plan to make it a PR, I do plan to be more aggressive with my goal.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Burst My Bubble

Actually, it went beyond bursting my bubble. I ended up being LIVID. I hate having bad experiences for absolutely no reason. And actually, it's rare to have a bad experience for any reason, so let me clarify, I HATE HAVING BAD EXPERIENCES.

Of course, who does?

So last week, I wanted to return some library books. CJ pointed out to me earlier in the week that Mi-Mi had taken the stickers off the books she had checked out. These were the "upc" codes the library uses to scan books in and out. I explained to Mi-Mi that these books were not _ours_ and that she wasn't supposed to take these stickers off.

This has been a confusing issue for Mi-Mi, I think. When we go to Quail Ridge Books, she holds about five books and says "I want all of these", as she does when we are at the library when she can walk out with a dozen. But there are times when we are at the library where she will hold books and say "Can we buy these?" I've explained many times but I figure, if I'm not buying them, she ain't getting them...so soon, she'll figure out the difference.

The bottom line: she LOVES going to the library and the book store. And I do buy her many books (not to imply with the above statement that I don't) so we are spoiled with books.

When I reviewed the 'damage' to the library books, she literally pulled the upc codes off 12 of the 17 books she had. Great. I re-explained why this was not right. I gave her a monologue and she apologized: "I'm sorry. I didn't know."

I felt bad and at first thought, I could drop these books in the bin and not face the library folks, but instead, I thought that I would go through my account and write down the 14 digit number, in hopes that it would alleviate the stress of looking for it to relabel it. Do you know how difficult it is to write a 14 number down and feel confident that you wrote the numbers down accurately? And if you're anal-retentive like me, do you realize how time consuming a task this is?

So, I left with the bag of books, divided between the unlabeled and the untouched.

I get to the library and I wait patiently to be helped. The first sign of doom is that one person is helping another patron and not very happily. Two others have most of one side facing me and they cannot see me, and another is walking around, making eye contact with me several times, but not asking if I need help. So for ~3 minutes, I wait for acknowledgement.

Finally, the unhappily one looks at me like 'why the heck does she just leave the books there?' I smile GRACEFULLY and say, I am returning these books but these here, my daughter took the UPC codes off. Sorry about that but I wrote down the upc numbers for each one...

What did I get? A long silent pause then a big LOUD SIGH of irritation.

I repeat: I tried to make up for it by writing the numbers down...

Another big irritated loud sigh.

Okay, I'm pissed now but holding back. I ask the sigher, OKAY. WHY ARE YOU SIGHING? If there is a fine, I will gladly pay it. I don't need the sighs.

So one of the side-facing bitties comes to intervene. The sigher says to her cohort, exasperatedly "her daughter ripped the codes off the books". I say to them both "she didn't mean it"...whatever that meant. It just came out.

The side-facing bittie then pauses with a silent irritating look at said books -- and I'm like thinking, OKAY WHAT THE FUCK? IT'S DONE. MOVE ON. I'LL GLADLY PAY 50 BUCKS TO GET OUT OF THIS STUPID DRAMA.

Instead, the side-facing bittie says: well actually, she _can_ help it and she will next time because you will tell her that she is not supposed to do this.

WHAT DID SHE JUST SAY TO ME????????????!!!!!!???????!!!!!!

That's what my eyes did to her. My mouth said, EXCUSE ME?

And she said, oh, well, this happens a lot and I'm just saying that you'll tell her not to do it again...

Honestly, I can't remember what I said after that...it wasn't anything terrible (I think) because I was SO FUCKING MAD AT THE GALL of these two people, talking and treating me the way they did. I was shaking and I knew that I would be yelling and cussing soon and THIS TIME, I was very conscious of the people around me.

I usually lose awareness of my surroundings when I am this mad. It's like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde -- a different person comes out of me and becomes someone I'm not comfortable being because, well, I get really mean. Yes, you doubt me but a few of my old acquaintances may remember parts of that bad personality trait. Nothing that I'm proud of and over the years, I have called people back to apologize for my behavior...

But I've never turned away before and I did this time. And let me tell you, IT DOES NOT FEEL GOOD. Does it feel good to go off on them? Yes, at the time, but then time passes and sometimes I think, I could've handled that better. But turning away and walking out without berating them was the most difficult thing I had done in this type of situation.

I shook with anger as I walked to my car. I was muttering BITCHES under my breath. I wanted to scream. I was just insanely pissed. I sat in my car for a few minutes trying to decide if I should go back and do what I wanted, which was to put these bitches in their place, thus, making a scene. And I remained this way for a good while.

When I got back to work, I shut my door and wrote DND on a sticky. I was breathing fire. I canceled all my book requests for that particular branch and decided I would buy every god-damn book I wanted to read. Free wasn't worth it if I had to deal with rude, holier-than-thou folks. This really wasn't the first time that these library people have been 'rude'. I just hadn't experienced this level of rudeness...and actually, I would say for the most part, they haven't been rude, they have been either 1) unfriendly or 2) humdrum. Hence, probably my reluctance to face these people with the un-UPC'd books.

But I couldn't let it go. I called. When the other end answered, I asked to speak to one of the two people that had helped me -- I was the one that brought in the damaged books. The person responded that she was one of the ones that helped me (ironic to say "helped).

I asked, "Are you the one that kept sighing?" and she said yes. But immediately said she was sorry about something or another...about either offending me or having me _feel_ offended (as though that's not what she intended). She seemed, at least over the phone, meek and truly sorry about pissing me off. But added "it's just that we have to go through every one of those books and put the upc codes on".

When I asked about her friend with the parenting advice, she said she was out for lunch. It was 2:30 in the afternoon...I kind of felt like that was horseshit but I didn't pursue it. I told the sigher that I didn't appreciate her partner giving me parenting advice. She has no idea what might have transpired between me and my child and she had no right to say what she said.

Then the sigher started defending her: that's not what she meant. She was just trying to ensure...blah blah blah. I am now speaking strongly (without yelling; i'm at work, mind you) SHE SPOKE TO ME IN A CONDESCENDING MATTER AND YOU KNOW IT. YOU BOTH WERE CONDESCENDING.

By that time, I lost her and her "sorry" became a "sorry ass" in my mind. I asked her to tell me what the rules were when books are damaged: how should parents bring in the books to avoid sighs and parenting advice? They both stated that this happens "all the time" so if it were to happen again, what could I do -- or say to my other parenting friends -- to ensure that we can properly bring the books in without attitude.

At this point, she was just repeating herself about what, I don't know.

I'm better now. Time and alcohol has soothe my ire over this and I have re-requested books from that particular branch. Up until that day I brought the un-UPC-coded books, I have not had to deal with these people. I alway order my books on-line and pick them up, then use the automated check-out to check-out. As I said, these folks seem to act like the McDonald workers: I hate being here but I'm here...now , what can I do for you?

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Step It Up

Yesterday, I found that I had some time before an all afternoon meeting for a workout so I checked out what classes would be at my beckon call. Basic Step was listed at an ideal time but I had not done this class in AGES. I mean, YEARS. Probably before becoming pregnant with CJ, which is nearly 10 years now.

I wasn't prepared. I had no gym clothes but wait, I remembered having some yoga clothes in my office. What the hell, I thought. I know nothing about doing the step class, I have no one to join me in looking stupid, and all I have are pants and a long sleeve shirt to workout in -- the elements were perfect for a mucked up time working out. But I knew it would be a tough week to get any classes checked off and I wanted to make some 'miles' for another fitness program I'm partaking in.

So I walk a LOOONG way to get to the gym. The one day I don't drive to work is the one day that I end up very far from the gym. But I sucked it up and walked in my high heels boots to first, pick up my yoga clothes and then two, get to the gym. I was sweating like crazy by the time I got there just from the walk.

So the class is PACKED. And it's so packed that, even though I find my little niche to hide my incoordination from the rest of the class, people still walk in to cramp my space.

Class starts and I make it through the warm-up with flying colors...that was about two minutes and then we started on the step. No problem so far. But the beat is getting faster and within five minutes, I hear "Charleston kick!" Whaaaaaaa....?

And just as soon as I figure out the Charleston kick, she yells "figure eight!" This one, I don't really figure out until the last 15 minutes and by that time, I was SOOOOOO INTO this class...so I was pretty cocky about it by then.

There were a lot of other moves that I had to figure out but somewhat quickly figured it out...and even when I mucked up, I still managed well.

I was "lucky" as I was surrounded by step experts. I ended up learning to hop and jump and do more coordinated moves due to their influence: they were the only ones I could mimic. Soon, I was sweating like crazy but for the most part, I felt like I was doing something fun vs. having a hard time with an exercise class.

This class, on this day, and due to the stress of the past several days I put myself under, became my equivalent of reading Jane Eyre -- it set me up on such a high note. I was elated -- my adrenaline and endorphins making me fly as high as a kite. I think I just glowed for the rest of the day...while the birds all sang around me...and bunnies hopped alongside me with smiles as big as mine.

(I'm not on drugs. Seriously, a natural high...)

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Book Review: Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë

I now know what it feels like to be enchanted. This is what became of me while reading this most glorious novel. I LOVE LOVE LOVE Jane Eyre and feel privileged to have submerge myself into this world for a little over a week. I was quite sadden when I reached the final page (549) and my life with Jane was over.

This book enthralled and mesmerized me. I could not put it down and when I did, all I could do was think about what Jane would be doing next. I excitedly anticipated my next moments that I could engulf myself into the novel. I was so entranced that I think I floated on air for the entire week. I felt like I was in a Disney novel, with birds singing around me, the sun shining and the clouds parting to display the bluest of skies and everyone around me was happy and joyous. Quite honestly, they could have been singing disney songs, that is how magical life was while I was reading this book.

Well, there was an incident at my local library that burst my bubble...but other than those bitties that deflated my bubble...I was in heaven. I feel quite lonely now...I sit at the stop light and think, why do I feel naked? No, it's not because I'm sitting there in a thong and nothing else...it's because I don't have my beautiful novel in my lap, passing the time by being engrossed in whatever sentences I could peruse while waiting for the green light.

I doubt that there is a need to explain the story behind Jane Eyre (but I will): an orphaned girl with abusive 'family' (by marriage, not blood) who agree to send her off to a somewhat deplorable boarding school. We learn about her life at this school and the people that inspired her, and again, people who abused her.

The next part of her life we learn about is her becoming a governess for the master, Edward Rochester and his own orphan (and possible illegitimate child) Adelé. This was the most amazing time for me to read, as Jane Eyre stays true to character as she showed in the early part of the novel and we are teased with the development of a relationship with Mr. Rochester.

The next part, and for me what I would label the "third" part of the novel, she teaches at a school for the poor farmers kids. Here, she befriends the family of a young clergyman (devout, fanatical Christian) and lives a pleasant life with them.

In the end, well, I don't want to ruin it for you if you haven't read it. :-) And if you don't want to read it, then look it up on wikipedia, which gives a very thorough summary of this most amazing novel.

Charlotte Brontë is amazing. Her prose is the most beautiful I have ever read (and this is no way a diss to Charlotte, but I haven't read many classics, so my fare of prose is fairly low) and the rhythm of the book was spectacular.

Jane Eyre is by far my all-time favorite book. It will be a long time before I can lose this beautiful haze that has surrounded me since my introduction to this wonderful woman, and this wonderful novel.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

The Classics

At my first book club meeting, I announced to the group: I'll read almost anything but I don't like the classics.

To be honest, I don't even recall any of the classics I read. I can only think of Shakespeare and by god, no matter how much I think I have become smarter in age, I can't read it for the life of me.

And okay, I remember some poetry written way back when and I can't handle its prose -- at least back when I was forced to read the crap.

So really, to me, reading the classics is intimidating and well, I perceive it as boring. I worry that if I had one in my hand, my feeling of defeat would overcome me as I give up reading it due to the fact that I can't understand the prose and well, my mind will wander as my eyes gloss over the words.

So what takes place at the last book club meeting? We all agreed to give Jane Eyre a go for the next book reading choice. Surprisingly, we all seemed daunted by our choice, despite the fact that we seemed to be unanimous in the choice. We even discussed whether we should touch base within a week or two to find out how we were faring with it, fearing we would all be lost. We then suggested a runner-up book, just in case we hated Jane Eyre. Finally, we all decided to woman-up and endure the book, no matter what.

I added the book to my book list through the library and noticed that it was ~400+ pages. Geez. For me, that's a lot of pages. I tried to prolong the bore, by reading the 'curious incident' book. This ~200+ page book -- a quick read according to my book club peers -- took me almost two weeks to read and I LOVED IT. How on earth would I read 400 pages of a book that I disliked?

Instead of getting it through the library, I decided to support my favorite book store AND THE ONLY LOCAL BOOK STORE IN RALEIGH, Quail Ridge Books & Music, and ordered my copy through them. I wanted a very classic looking book, which I could not find at Amazon or ebay (yes, Quail Ridge was not my first choice, but I'm glad I went with them). When I picked it up, the book appeared more intimidating than I imagined: small, like a bible, thick like a bible (I exaggerate) with 595 pages. AND SMALL FONTS.

Incredible. I knew at once there would be no way in hell I would finish it by book club discussion time. At the time I picked it up, I was still reading the other book...

I decided to give it all I got and just dive in -- after I finished the fabulous book by Mark Haddon. I decided to shoot for almost 50 pages a day, or at least 25...I was trying to psych myself up.

Well, I started this book six days ago and I can almost guarantee that I will be done this weekend. As I write, I'm on page 388 and it's KILLING me not to just absorb myself into this book. I want to finish it but I don't because I fear losing the characters in the story.
Parting is such sweet sorrow...


I am completely engulfed into Jane Eyre. I am blown away by the talent of Charlotte Bronte and now, I am enthralled by her (Charlotte) and her life. How could someone write such beauty?

I shed my first tear last night and cried more this morning as I FORCED myself to put it away and try to enter the 21st century. I already can see the influence that this novel has had on everything else I have read and seen that is a love story.

I LOVE THIS BOOK. And I will be so sad when I have to end my affairs with it...

Anyone who likes classics like Jane Eyre and enjoy similar prose and writings, please PLEASE send me your recommendations. I am completely swooned...

Justice For Ethen

As some of you may know, I find the murder of Jenna Nielsen reprehensible. And what's even more upsetting is that it remains unsolved to this day. I know, I know...it's like finding a needle in a haystack but really, someone knows something (especially the murderer) and yet, they go on with life without conscious?

Well, if you keep up with this Raleigh crime, and so unfortunate, several others, you will know that NC does not have a fetal homicide law. Thus, the murders of Jenna and her soon-to-be-born son Ethen (she was eight months pregnant, even more fucked up for someone to kill a pregnant woman at that stage) will only count for Jenna; Ethen is not considered "murdered" as he was still in her belly, despite the fact that Ethen would be alive and well (most likely) if he were born at the time of his death.

Well, Jenna's family is trying to change that for North Carolina. Their attempt may not be unique, but it's been brought to the world of the internet.

Please consider "signing" this form, informing NC state leaders to consider passing House Bill 263 : Unborn Victims Of Violence.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Book Review: the curious incident of the dog in the night-time by mark haddon

I love, LOVE this book. This is, by far, my favorite in the past year (from today) and quite possibly, of all-time. I just can't really remember what I've read in prior years to compare, mainly, because I have a brain freeze since I am just blown away by this one. It certainly would be in my top five of all-time favorites...

I can tell how much I love it because all I feel like doing is citing from the book.

The book is written (in character) by Christopher, and soon I come to understand upon reading further that he's autistic. He's a young boy -- I thought younger than the 15 years that the book jacket states. One morning, Christopher happens to see that a neighborhood dog has been killed (murdered) and he decides that he must complete some detective work to figure out who killed "Wellington".

This is what launches us into the fascinating mind of Christopher. The entire story is written by Christopher and I learn how he thinks and how everything from his perspective is "literal". Christopher cannot really relate to emotions, other than dealing with stressful moments that are not "literal" for him. His reactions to these stressful moments are to groan, howl, yell, or succumb to complete silence.

Many times, he can logically steer himself away from groaning by doing math in his head, like doubling numbers: getting to 33554432, which is 2 to the 25th power -- which is not his record (2 to the 45th power). Or he concentrates on his foot steps: left, right, left, right, left, right. He does many things to calm himself in situations that are the 'norm' for the rest of the world: walking from the house to the train station, being in crowds, etc.

Christopher only allows people who he trusts to be in his intimate circle of "friends", but they are still not allowed to touch him. His dad and Siobhan, his teacher. It is fascinating to read how his dad deals with Christopher's day-to-day oddities and how Siobhan, whom Christopher refers to many times, instructs him to function with the rest of the not-literal society.

I love how he uses the number of colored cars to determine his day:
4 red cars in a row made a Good Day
3 red cars in a row made it aQuite Good Day
5 red cars in a row made it aSuper Good Day
4 yellow cars in a row made it a Black Day

When asked why he used this to determine his day he compared it to how people who get up in the morning have a good day when the sun was shining and it made them happy, but when it was raining it made them sad. But if these people worked in an office, the weather really didn't impact them, yet this is what determined their Good and Bad days. Brilliant!!!

And these things are riddled throughout the book -- pure logic. There are references in footnote form to explain how he came to know this, and there is even an appendix with the answer to this question:

Prove the following result:

A triangle with sides that can be written in the form of n-squared + 1, n-squared - 1 and 2n(where n>1) is right-angled.

Show, by means of a counterexample, that the converse is false.

The answer covers about 2 1/2 pages. BTW, the chapters in the book are written in prime numbers.

Christopher is a math whiz and an observant genius. He can look at a field and know right away how many cows and goats are in the field, and the patterns of which the cows displayed on their bodies.

It is by far, one of the most original stories I have ever read and I think the world of Mark Haddon to put this together.

I relate so much to Christopher that I wonder if I have autistic abilities. No, I'm not a genius or a whiz by any means, but I think very literal. I call it logical and really, what I tell most people is "I don't do circles" or "I think in squares", as in the shape, not in math.

Most of the things that Christopher explains makes so much sense. When he talks about similes and metaphors, he talks about their literal definitions and how confusing it was to hear someone say "I laughed my socks off". He had to be taught that this is a metaphor which is very different from a simile: talking about looking at a police officer's nostrils "It looked as if there were two very small mice hiding in his nostrils."

This is a book I would read again. I need to add this to my collection (it's a library book). I learned so much from Christopher's line of thinking and you know, I quite like it.

Friday, February 08, 2008

A Night Out in North Raleigh

I guess it depends on where you think North Raleigh is. In this scenario, North Raleigh will be the Millbrook, Six Forks, Creedmoor vicinity. Nowhere near where Durant and Falls of Neuse exist, where it appears to be spoken as "north raleigh"...

With reservations, our evening started at Oliver Twist. I don't have it listed as a favorite yet, but it is a place that will soon make my list. I have criteria for making a favorite but I have no idea how to imprint that as logic in words...it's all in my head and very justifiable by my warped mind.

If you've never been to Oliver Twist, you must give it at least one try. A very unique place that is truly romantic, in a more slutty way vs. roses and perfume...

There are dark leather couches, dark wooden coffee tables, with draperies hanging throughout the walls, as well as fabric hanging from lamps to provide more of that sexy, gypsy aura.

The ladies that serve dress very provocatively: whether they should or not is another question, but in my eyes, they should.

Food is mainly tapas - small plates - in which there is a wide variety to choose from. There are entrees too, but we've never ordered from that part -- tapas is too much fun.

On this particular evening, we enjoyed a bottle of Wolf Blass Shiraz and feasted on four fabulous tapas:

Tuscan Stuffed Mushrooms - four moderately large mushroom caps filled with an italian sauage mixture. Divine - my favorite of all of the tapas we had.

Flatbread Trio - pita bread with baba ghanouj, tzatziki, and hummus; quite good.

Asian Dim Sum - two fried spring rolls, which were excellent, along with about four steamed dumplings that were also quite yummy. Along with this were some green beans that were soooo good, with a sweet chili sauce that I loved but Tim found quite hot. It was so good though that he continued to dip stuff into it despite it being hot (he's not a hot food fan).

Fried Ravioli - this was also quite tasty despite the fact that I'm not much of a stuffed pasta fan anymore (chef boyardee when I was a kid) but I guess when you add a little oil to it and fry it up, you just can't go wrong.

Service was so-so and maybe the least favorite of the evening, but tolerable. The waitress was nice but failed my wine test question. She provide too much info by telling us she was new there (I don't care) and then couldn't figure out how to open the bottle of wine (it was actually a twist-off). She was slow too, but it certainly didn't affect the evening because her skill set "meets" my expectations...it's when you are actually good at doing this that I am moved.

After our delightful outing at Oliver Twist, we headed to The Colony Theatres to catch "There Will Be Blood". I had another glass of vino and Tim had a beer -- love these theaters that cater to people like me :-). The movie was relatively busy for a flick that's been out awhile, but I guess since it's Oscar-worthy, more people will come out to see what it's all about (like me).

It was a pretty good movie, but nothing to write home about -- for me. I mean, I really liked it, don't get me wrong -- it's just a good movie. Daniel Day-Lewis is amazing and really, the movie is about how great a character actor he is. But it certainly was no Juno, which even to this day, makes me so happy to think about how lucky I was to have seen that movie.

Ten Mile Run

Not really. I stopped after 9.3.

I had planned an eight mile run but $Bill was planning ten, so I decided to shoot for ten with him.

We had great weather and a great start time: 10:45. I really like sleeping in on Saturdays. And "sleeping in" mainly means snuggling with Tim and/or Mi-Mi, getting up whenever I want and having a great cup of coffee and then reading the paper, or one of the books of the moment, or even blogging. It's a very casual approach to the day, vs. the hurry up and get the kids to school, and then get to work, and then hurry up get the kids, go home, fix dinner, etc.

But most Saturday runs start pretty early which derails my casual approach to starting my Saturdays. But 10:45 was perfect, so I knew my day was starting out beautiful.

The run was great until, I don't know, mile 6? My legs were really tiring and I thought often about how the hell I could do four more of these. Actually, I never thought about how many more I had to do...I thought about where I was running to and wondered how the hell I could finish the path I had taken.

But peer pressure is great and especially when $Bill is applying that pressure. Since I spent most of my time concentrating on where I had to go, $Bill finally had an opportunity to talk. I am usually the talker and if Melisa is with us, she is usually the talker and our conversations are usually centered around what WE want to discuss with very little input from $Bill (I don't think he minds, though).

Anyway, it was refreshing to hear his take on politics. I enjoy a healthy conversation about people's perspectives and today was the day to hear his on our current elections.

We also talked about the idiotic corporate ways to provide raises and bonuses, how the grass seems greener in Spain for me, and how much fun our girls will have at Mi-Mi's birthday party.

At around 'almost eight miles', I announced that I was abandoning bill when my watch said I had gone eight miles. He then pointed out a mile marker and said 'just run to the next one and you'll be at 8.1'. I know this ploy -- bill does this all the time. It's admirable and despite the fact that I was on to him, I followed suit. I knew that by the time I got to the next mile marker that there would be no way I would stop because by that time, I would know that I was close to the end.

And it worked and I continued on but man, my legs were sore. How am I going to run my 20K if I can't get to ten? Well, I know I can, so I'm not really too stressed about it. Especially when I don't have a time goal.

My next vow was that I would stop once we crossed under the bridge (Millbrook). This time, however, I decided that if we were really close to ten that I would just run to ten. When we got passed the bridge I asked where we were and he said "9.3" and to me, .7 was TOO FAR for me to run so I said "I'm done" and let Bill continue on his way.

We met up at the parking lot -- I could not get myself to run anymore, even down the small downward slopes, to get back to my car. I was done. At some point, Bill dropped his key and we both kind of looked at it, setting there on the ground, wondering how it could get back into his hand without either of us bending down to get it. He finally, albeit slowly, managed to pick it up.

Our reward? White Lightning for him and Banana-Strawberry smoothie for me, plus two Apple Jacks to-go (turkey, cheese, apple butter wrap) from our favorite coffee house, New World Coffee House.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

My New Tattoo: Session 9

New needlework today. The pain scale was pretty good. There were moments of sheer fire-stinging pain but overall, a comforting pain (for me) throughout the hour and a half process.

The hard part with new work is applying the stencil on where it needs to be. Kathryn is great at this because she has such patience. She is in no rush to do anything until the image is on just right. Mind you, she only charges her time when she has the needle in her hand, so time is money to her -- but she doesn't let that interfere with her artistic process. Admirable.

Anyway, I had to be stripped from the top down and "roll my pants down to there", where there is mid-hip and lots of butt to showcase. I don't know whether to call it fortunate or not, but the butt showcase wasn't a problem since it was facing her. The other part -- the top half -- was facing the flimsy privacy curtain. Did I mention there are like three inch gaps on either side of this curtain?

And I couldn't cover myself with my hands because it throws off the balance of how the stencil appears on my back. So I stood there, for minutes on hand, just repeating to myself "Please no one walk by. Please no one walk by." I don't know why the hell I care, but I did. Someone did walk by but I was able to cover...

The new work, as shown in the picture (you can compare it to the back picture in The Dragon post) is more of the body of the dragon. I wanted to show how the initial outline of the tattoo looks. Hopefully, when you see how Kathryn fills in the work you can appreciate the amazing eye she has.

The first part in the process is what I would describe as technical: even though it's based on her drawing, it is the stencil -- the outline -- of one piece of the overall picture. This gets placed properly (according to the artists' eye) and then she outlines this with the ink.

The next part is filling in the outline with a finished touch -- finishing in any gaps, adding definition, etc. Sometimes this outline includes some of the shading, depending on how much time we have left.

The shading is the third part, which with the second part, is all artistic. She has this on her drawing (on paper), that she refers to while she shades with the needle. It's really incredible and I'll take another shot of it after the next appointment, so that you can sort of see this process as it takes place...

Monday, February 04, 2008

My Favorite Album: Good News for People Who Like Bad News by Modest Mouse

This is not my typical album to land in one of my all-time favorites, which makes it even more of a favorite. Does that make sense?

My old manager ripped a copy of this for me and I obliged. He's turned me on to some really cool shit, and some odd stuff, and this album falls into both those categories.

Almost instantly, I fell in love with it. I had already heard two songs from the album, getting some MTV air time, back when I used to watch MTV: Ocean Breathes Salty and Float On.

Float On was an instant favorite for me, from hearing and seeing it on MTV. The song was funky and the band, well, were not the epitome of hunk-dom.

It took a little longer for me to "get" Ocean Breathes Salty. Not get it to understand it, but to enjoy it as much as I do now. The video is outrageously weird and just tres cool at the same time: a little boy finds a bird with a broken arm, that ends up being one of the dudes from the band.

From the start of this album to the end, each song delivers an amazing and unusual sound. The lyrics are amazing:

From Ocean Breathes Salty, "You wasted life, why wouldn't you waste death?"
From Satin Coffin, "Are you dead or are you sleeping? Are you dead or are you sleeping? Are you dead or are you sleeping? God I sure hope you are dead."
From The World at Large "My Thoughts were so loud I couldn't hear my mouth."

Truly amazing -- the accompaniments and just the way everything is put together -- WOW. I love this album. My heart skips a beat every I play it -- those ripped songs now reside on my beloved iPod.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Movie Review: Juno

Website: http://www.foxsearchlight.com/juno/

As soon as I saw this preview, I wanted to see this movie. But, you know, it's not only a chick flick, but a TEENAGE chick flick...something I knew would not be as appealing to Tim as it is to me.

I knew the female character would be the bomb, and I have been a big fan of Michael Cera since Arrested Development, and have always been a Jason Bateman fan, who I didn't even know was in the movie until my BFF Audrey mentioned it to me, when I asked for some details about the flick.

So I thought, maybe I make this a girl's night out flick? But, you know, I just want to go to the movie without making it a big "to-do". I then thought, heck, maybe I'll just take CJ along.

I've done that before -- I wanted to see About a Boy so bad that I took her along. And she was probably four at the time. Now, she's nine, so, a bit more tweeny and closer to the PG-13 rating...

Of course, I had to have Tim agree to it. I tend to be OVERLY liberal with regard to what my children can watch, so there tends to be a difference between what Tim will want vs. what I will allow. And before you think that he's too conservative, or that I give in, or that I should stand my guard, or that he is dominating -- those thoughts do come through our minds (I am speaking for him) but at some point, you have to negotiate. After all, we're both looking out for the best for our children...so yes, in some cases, one has to give in. I think we divy up the "give ins" pretty evenly.

Fortunately, we didn't have that issue with this movie. He was OK with my plan. The only problem was to pick a date.

It only became a problem because I told CJ about it and then a play date/sleepover opportunity came up for her that minimized any movie-going-with-mommy event and frankly, I was now intent on taking her. In my mind, she was looking forward to it as much as I was.

So, despite having a busy morning and afternoon today, we did make it to the movie. I mean really, I've been wanting to see this thing for weeks and I just couldn't wait.

And it also ended up that not only did CJ come along, but my little imp Mi-Mi.

We made it and surprisingly, the theater was relatively crowded for a 4:15 matinee. Most were older people and NO KIDS or TWEENS to be found. I'm sure there were some folks thinking, what the heck does that mom think she's doing bringing her kids to this? Doesn't she know it's PG-13? Alas, they do not know that 1) I'm not vying for mother of the year and 2) My minimum rating for my kids is R.

Anyhoo, the movie was THE BOMB. My favorite movie of the year and the past year (it's only February...stating the best of the year doesn't really send the message at how much I love this movie).

It turned out close to what I wanted and even better than I could expect.

Yes, the gist of the movie is teenage pregnancy -- 16 year old Juno gets pregnant and the goofy father is awkward about the whole thing.

And yes, although the movie depicts the ideal dysfunctional family 'ala hollywood-style' (meaning, everything is ideal), it is still delving into issues that we americans still find taboo or somewhat controversial: teenage pregnancy, abortion, adoption, remarriage, divorce, and single-parenthood.

But Juno, played by Ellen Page, is the most interesting, charismatic character I have seen in years. Not original, but definitely the character that I would have eat, lived and breathed to be in high school. And despite the pregnancy fiasco, something I would hope my kids would be: confident in who she is without a care for anyone else's opinion.

And she has a popular, pretty friend who likes her for who she is. And a step-mom who sticks up for her and an older sister who, well, acts like a pretty cool older sister and best of all, a dad, who loves his daughter no matter what...and definitely loves her for who she is.

Audrey did a review and she was so spot on about this movie. It's just so funny and then, at the end, the emotions come out. Yes, I cried. I could have really cried those heaving, catch my breath cries, but I didn't want to disturb the old people around me.

My kids are used to seeing me cry. Not through the verbal and physical abuse I get from Tim, but mainly, watching Intervention almost ALWAYS brings me to tears. I love it. I love something that can evoke such emotion from me. I don't know why more people don't appreciate seeing, reading, hearing such heart-tugging things. But thankfully, I'm not one of those and Juno truly brought me to the emotions that not only made me cry, but made me happy, giddy, and full of delight. I loved it so much I just bought the soundtrack from iTunes just to try to relive those moments in the movie.

YOU MUST SEE THIS MOVIE!

Book Review: Not the End of the World by Kate Atkinson

I read Case Histories by this author last year. It was a very good book and Kate has a great style where there are different stories going on that eventually connect.

In Not the End of the World, Atkinson does the same thing. Different stories, but this time, too many. I found myself often flipping back, trying to find chapters to see where I recalled "a" (one) character being mentioned before.

What made it even more confusing for me was some of these characters occurred in different eras. A character is mentioned in passing by an adult niece and then later, the character is introduced before the niece's time. This wasn't obvious until I went back through the pages to figure out why a name sounded familiar.

There was just too many people to keep up with and in the end, it never connected. I ended up confused, trying to figure out what the main point of the story was. I think I have it figured -- the end tried to connect the two -- but for me, that explanation was as bad as Bobby Ewing waking up from a bad dream...

Fuck You I Won't Do What You Tell Me

A line from a great song by Rage Against the Machine, "Killing in the Name". A message from me to the media.

Am I bitter that John Edwards is no longer in the run? Yes.

So then my good friend Audrey came to my rescue and sent me a cool little app that asks the 'top' questions, and depending on your answers, shows which of the available candidates closely matches your answers.

My top place match was Dennis Kucinich. I have some familiarity with his campaign, mostly stemming from a skit off The Daily Show about FLILF (just like MILF, but with "First Lady"). They interviewed Elizabeth Kucinich, who, well, is FLILF in my book too.

Because of that, I read a bit more about her which gave me a little insight to him.

So I was mildly please that my answers matched me to him, so I went to his website, signed up for the newsletter, and went to research the man. After signing up for the newsletter, I went to the home page only to see "Kucinich Withdraws from Presidential Race".

Am I bitter about that? YES.

Why?

Because no one has a chance, based on the media coverage, to win this race, except Obama or Hilary. I'm not including the Republicans, since I'm not voting that way. But, have you seen anything on Ron Paul? Other than the signs that are put up all over the place. But I sure haven't heard anything about him from mainstream media America.

When Edwards dropped, I thought, geez, I have to decide between Obama and Hilary. Then I snapped out of it and realized, I don't HAVE to...but the media is making me choose between two people THEY want me to choose from.

Why?

To me, obviously, it's because we have unprecedented campaigns: a female, ex-First Lady and a young, black man. I have no ill-will against either one. I like both for different reasons, but I also take issue with both, as we differ on other points.

But there are more people to consider than these two. And have you heard of any of them? Maybe you have, but for the most part, it's been very little.

For instance, my second place match from that little quiz was Mike Gravel. Ever heard of him? I didn't. But now, I'm doing my homework.

And besides the signs I see for Ron Paul, very little is said about him in the media. BTW, I love those Ron Paul Revolution signs, with "LOVE" spelled out instead of "evol"... And I want to like him -- a grassroots movement that spans different political and economic levels -- but he's against abortion...a deal-breaker for me.

But still, he's a worthy candidate to entrust more information to be revealed about his campaign, but he's ignored by the media, as Gravel, Kucinich, Brownback, Tancredo, Hunter, etc. One of these people could have been the most amazing president ever, but we may never know...

Don't believe them: you are not wasting your vote. It's a sucker's cry to make you think your vote will only count if you vote for who they want you to vote for. Make you own choice based on your own beliefs.