Back again

October 24, 2006 at 5:54 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment
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Feels strange to be back again after my trip to KC. It’s so quiet here. In KC I was the non-stop talker, and here, more like the non-stop thinker. Very appropriate that on the plane i finished Tuesdays with Morrie. My grandpa has always raved about this book, and I’m glad I finally got to read it. Though, wish I hadn’t been in such a public place for my blubbering at the end. If a book makes me leaky at the eyes, it usually ends up in my top 30.

The life lessons in this book speak to my state of mind at the moment. I’ve been pondering a lot lately about what I really want out of life, and what will really make me happy. And trying to ignore my annoying habit of over-worrying. This book spoke to me like nothing else I’ve ever read before. Maybe it was the timing, or maybe it’s just a good book. These passages in particular got me thinking:

“Part of the problem is that everyone is in such a hurry. People haven’t found meaning in their lives, so they’re running all the time looking for it. They think the next car, the next house, the next job. Then they find those things are empty, too, and they keep on running…”

“Wherever I went in life, I met people wanting to gobble up something new…And then they wanted to tell you about it. ‘Guess what I got? Guess what I got?’ You know how I always interpreted that? These were people so hungry for love that they were accepting substitutes. They were embracing material things and expecting a sort of hug back. But it never works. You can’t substitute material things for love or for gentleness or for tenderness or for a sense of comradeship…”

“It’s very simple. As you grow, you learn more. If you stayed twenty-two, you’d always be as ignorant as you were at twenty-two. Aging is not just decay, you know. It’s growth…”

“As long as we can love each other, and remember the feeling of love we had, we can die without ever really going away. All the love you created is still there. All the memories are still there. You live on — in the hearts of everyone you have touched and nurtured while you were here…Death ends a life, not a relationship.”

Top 30 books of all time!

July 17, 2006 at 7:08 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Without further ado, here is a ranked list of my all-time favorite books, both from childhood and adulthood. For whatever reason, each of these books affected me in a profound way, or I simply found them amusing. Many I’ve read more than once. I even put in links so you can check them out for yourselves. Happy summer reading!

1. The Stand by Stephen King
2. The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
3. The Talisman/Black House by Stephen King and Peter Straub
4. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
5. The City of Ember by Jeanne Duprau
6. Dark Tower series by Stephen King (Books 2 and 4 were my favorites)
7. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Alexie Sherman
8. Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides
9. My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult
10. Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser
11. Big Trouble by Dave Barry
12. Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling (Book 3 my favorite)
13. Tuesdays With Morrie: An Old Man, a Young Man, and Life’s Greatest Lesson by Mitch Albom
14. Life of Pi by Yann Martel
15. And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie
16. The Cheese Monkeys by Chip Kidd
17. The Bear Went Over the Mountain by William Kotzwinkle
18. The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver
19. Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers by Mary Roach
20. The Devil Wears Prada by Lauren Weisberger
21. Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood
22. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
23. The Shining by Stephen King
24. Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything by Steven D. Levitt, Stephen J. Dubner
25. Wait Till Helen Comes by Mary Downing Hahn
26. The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien
27. Sophie’s World: A Novel about the History of Philosophy by Jostein Gaarder
28. The Undomestic Goddess by Sophie Kinsella
29. The Hitchhikers’ Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
30. Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie

San Antonio for the Fourth

July 7, 2006 at 9:55 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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My in-laws graciously hosted me this past weekend in San Antonio. Robert, my (step)dad-in-law took me for a spin on his Harley. I’d never been on a motorcycle before, and as much as my mom worries, I thought I’d be nervous. But it was a blast! I’m on my way to being a full-fledged biker babe 🙂

The rest of the weekend was pretty rainy, so Patty and I took in a chick flick. The Devil Wears Prada, while not quite as good as the book, was still highly entertaining. Then we spent an evening digging through boxes in the garage in search of James’ baby pictures. The cutest, fattest little baby ever! And I discovered he looked an awful lot like Nicholas from 8 is Enough during his early elementary school years.

A huge storm rolled through the night of the Fourth, so we stayed in and played games. I discovered my teenage brother-in-law isn’t half bad at Trivial Pursuit. He must take after his brother 🙂

So now, after 3 weeks away, I’m back home. And missing James more than ever. He’s in Thailand until the 21st, and we’re counting the minutes until he’s back.

Books for this week:
Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood. Jill picked this up for me, and it’s right up my alley. A 1984-ish glimpse at a post-apocalyptic future.

James of the Jungle

June 6, 2006 at 8:34 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment
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James has discovered hell at a “resort” in Thailand. He called me this morning completely distraught, “It’s like camping. I hate camping!” Instead of a hotel room, he has a one room bungalow (he called it a tiki hut). It does have A/C, a fridge, and TV, but he has to unplug something in order to plug in anything else. Heh, sounds like our apartment in NYC. He called the bathroom a glorified outhouse–although he has running water and flushing toilet, the bathroom feels like a last-minute add on, with no A/C and cobwebs in every corner. The “resort” has a restaurant–apparently not good–and the closest convenience store is 20 Km away. Every morning he’s up at 6 AM to take a 1-2 hour drive through the jungle to the refugee camps. Then back again in the evening. After 7 PM there’s no transportation, and really nothing much to do anyway.

Poor guy. The only good news to come out of this is his cell phone reception is superb, so he’ll be calling me more often than he did on his trip to Cairo. And I suspect he’ll be bringing home less crap, er, souvenirs. He’ll be staying at his cushy hotel in Bangkok every weekend, with a couple of long weekends around some local holidays. So it’s not all bad, really. Only 6 more weeks to go. Sheesh.

Books for this week:
I’m quickly reading my sister’s birthday presents, hee hee. She already knows I’m getting these for her, so i won’t be ruining any surprises.

Gregor and the Marks of Secret by Suzanne Collins. Fourth in the Gregor the Overlander series, and I read it in 2 days! I’m becoming a junkie!

The Prophet of Yonwood by Jeanne DuPrau. Another kids book Jill got me hooked on–this is the third book in the series, a prequel to The City of Ember, which is probably the most fascinating children’s book I’ve ever read. Imagine an entire community with no sunlight, no real knowledge of their origins, and on the verge of chaos. Her follow up, The People of Sparks wasn’t as good as the first book, but so far this prequel is awesome. Tackles some very poignant, Big Brother-type issues.

Somethin’s gotta change

May 16, 2006 at 6:12 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment
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Do you ever get that strange feeling that big changes are ahead? Maybe it’s just wishful thinking, but I have this feeling that I’m in for some big changes soon. Maybe not this week, but soon.

Let’s hope something good is in store, cuz my work-time apathy can’t possibly get any worse. I’m verging on major burn out here. Part of it is working from home. I feel marooned here–sometimes I don’t see anyone but James for days on end, and when he’s out of town, then it’s just me. Strange how easy it is to stay inside with the windows open and forget how long it’s been since you’ve stepped outside. Remember that Ray Bradbury story about the kids who live on Venus, and they can’t ever go outside? Well, I guess it’s not quite that bad here–it doesn’t rain seven years for every two hours of sunshine–but sometimes it does feel like I’m on a space station or something. With cable, thank god.

So I’m hoping, hoping, hoping to have a new job soon. Got a couple of promising leads, which would not only get me out of the house on a daily basis, but would also afford me the ability to purchase a car. Which I’m still a little torn about. Part of me is proud of the fact that I don’t own one and I’m not having to deal with climbing gas prices. But there are times when it would really come in handy. And it would be great to throw my bike in the back and tackle some of the trails I’ve been wanting to try.

Books for this week:
Finished Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Quick read, and very funny and weird. Sort of monty python meets george lucas space fantasy.

Vanishing Acts by Jodi Picoult. I really enjoyed My Sister’s Keeper, so I’m expecting good things.

World Record

May 4, 2006 at 2:38 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments
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I had read somewhere that the metro station by our house boasts the longest escalator in the world, but never really knew if it as true. Here’s proof from Wikipedia:

The longest single span uninterrupted escalator in the world is at the Wheaton station of the Washington Metro subway system. It is 155 m (508ft) long, and takes almost 3 and a half minutes to ascend or descend without walking. Four of the five longest escalators in the Western Hemisphere are in the Washington Metro system (the fifth is in Boston) including what was formerly the longest escalator in the Western Hemisphere, located at the Bethesda station (475 ft), and also those at Woodley Park – Zoo (456 ft) and Medical Center (453 ft, or 138 m).

Books for this week
Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner. I’ve only just started it, but so far it’s really fascinating.

30 Years in 30 Days

March 3, 2006 at 3:06 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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The classic rock station out here had this fabulous promotion–30 Years in 30 Days, starting Feb. 1st with 1966, and ending yesterday with 1995. Each day they played music from that year. Some monumental years:

1972: My parents got married this year, and as I listened to the music from the early 70s, I imagined what it must have been like for them being newly married, living in an apartment above a TV repair shop in Rolla, MO. They only had one car, which my mom couldn’t drive because it was a stick shift. Reminds me a little of what James and I went through (and are going through) now in our newlywed years–being in a new town with little means of transportation.

1989: This was the pinnacle of my pre-teen years, and probably me at my happiest. I was in 6th grade, which was the top grade in our elementary school, I had a ton of friends, and life was generally good. I started every morning watching MTV. Aerosmith’s “Love in an Elevator”, Alice Cooper’s “Poison”, and Motley Crue’s “Dr. Feelgood” were huge that year. I also remember listening to Billboard’s Top 40 religiously every Sunday.

1993-1994: Musically, this was by far my favorite time. Nirvana, Soundgarden, Alice in Chains, Tool, Stone Temple Pilots Smashing Pumpkins, all of my favorites were getting their start this year. I was a sophomore in high school, and just starting to form my own musical tastes. Grunge had a huge influence on me–I always say I wasted my thinnest years in baggy pants and flannels. Grunge turned out to be this outlet i never knew I needed. I’d always been the goodie-goodie straight-A student, but there was this teen angst side of me that grunge music really spoke to.

Books for this week
Stiff by Mary Roach. Just finished this fascinatingly morbid non-fiction book about cadavers. Everything you’d want to know and some things you wouldn’t. glad I wasn’t reading it during lunch.

The History of Love by Nicole Krauss. Jill bought me this book for Christmas, and she warned me it had a slow start. So far, I love the writing style, though there are a lot of characters that don’t seem connected yet. But I suspect it will all tie up in the end. I’ll let you know.

Quick Trip to KC

February 5, 2006 at 10:51 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Imagine my surprise when my boss emailed me Wednesday afternoon saying if I could get a cheap flight to KC Thursday, I could come work out of the OP office for a couple days. 20 minutes and several frantic web searches later, I found a great last-minute deal for a (ugh) 6:50 AM flight. I had to take the very first train in the morning at 5, and I still just made it. But it was all worth it to see the look on Editron’s face when I surprised him at his going-away dinner!

I had a nice couple of days visiting w/ my family and seeing my sister’s new house and new puppy (both exceedingly cute). It was also a treat to work in the office again for a change. I like working from home, but I can already see the potential for cabin fever. Hopefully I’ll get to come back again, maybe for an extended stay while James is away.

I had a layover in Chicago on the way back, and on a whim I called up my Aunt Jenny and Uncle Kim. They met me up at O’hare, and I had a great time catching up on all the family gossip, and hearing how all my cousins and second cousins are doing. (Is that right? Are my cousins’ kids my second cousins?) It’s nice to know that if James and I had ended up moving to Chicago (someday we still might!), I’ve got family nearby who are fun to hang out with.

Books for this week:
Cell by Stephen King. His latest book, and probably the best one of his I’ve read in many years. I did enjoy the conclusion of the Dark Tower series, which was his last book, but it was getting a little weird there. This book is reminiscent of The Stand, which was my all-time favorite. Sort of “Night of the Living Dead” meets “The Body Snatchers” meets “The Stand”. And an interesting commentary on our society’s reliance on cell phones. Good read.

The Undomestic Goddess by Sophie Kinsella, of “Shopaholic” fame. My mom lent me this book, and so far it’s everything I expect from a Sophie Kinsella book. I love all the characters, and each plot twist has me in stitches. This is a great book for all my lawyer friends who are in for a little light reading (if they have the time!) It’s about a stressed-out lawyer who suddenly finds herself fired and mistakenly hired on as a housekeeper. And all she knows about cooking is how to make toast. Hilarity ensues.

the exciting life

January 22, 2006 at 11:48 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment
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So, as much as I’m loving DC, my life experiences have slowed down to a crawl compared to New York. Normally, after work I’d be commuting home and trying to stop by and explore my surroundings. But here, because I’m not commuting, I find myself staying home more. Which with this awesome apartment, doesn’t bother me in the least, but it doesn’t leave me with much to write in my blog.

So, instead, I’m going to comment on this great book I’m reading. It’s called The Memory of Running by Ron McLarty. My friend Ellen recommended it. The writing style is sort of stream-of-conscious, with a few flashbacks thrown in for good measure. Like Catcher in the Rye meets Confederacy of Dunces meets On the Road, which are some of my favorite classics. Basically, this 40-something, overweight loser finds new meaning to his life by riding cross country on his childhood bicycle. Like, from Rhode Island to Los Angeles. And he doesn’t have a wallet, ID, or much money to speak of. Quite an adventure, both on his bike and inwardly reflecting on his past. I particularly love the passages where Smithy, the main character, describes the liberating feeling of bike riding. How you notice things you normally don’t see when you’re driving. How after awhile you don’t even realize you’re peddling. I’ve often felt that way about bike riding, though I’m hardly going cross country. I find myself contemplating, either about my surroundings, which I’m usually exploring for the first time, or inwardly if I’m not passing anything interesting. I see people and places, and I really look at them. Sometimes I stop to rest, eat some fruit, and take in whatever passes me by. Life slows down, and for a little while, everything is at peace.

Another Day Older and Deeper in Debt…

November 28, 2005 at 10:01 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment
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I remember as a child first figuring out that at some point faaarrr in the future, I’d be turning 28 on the 28th. It seemed like such an “adult” age. I was certain I’d be living in a little house in the suburbs with my husband, our two kids, and the family dog. White picket fence optional. So now the day has arrived. Hmmm….husband, check. But no house, no kids, no dog, and not even a picket fence. Strangely, I’m in no hurry for the rest of those things. While 28 seemed absolutely ancient to my 12-year-old self (I mean, weren’t my parents only about 30 then? har har), I still don’t quite feel like an honest-to-god adult yet. They say you’re only as old as you feel, and dammit, I still feel 24. Didn’t I just graduate from college a couple of, er, oh geez, almost 6 years ago? How did this happen? Another scary moment–I’m starting to notice a few stray grays. Might be time for another round of Manic Panic Fuchsia Shock. Believe it or not, this was my streak color of choice in the late 90s, along with platinum blond. Too bad my photos are all packed away! Perhaps I’ll revisit this subject with a few visual aides in the future…

Books for this week:
Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides–incidentally, won the pulitzer prize. And now that I’m halfway through, I see why. I think this one might end up in my top 20, along with The Stand and The Time Traveler’s Wife. Also really enjoyed The Other Boleyn Girl. Regular Oprah book club I got going here, heh.

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