Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Everyone and Everywhere All At Once

Dear Reader,

Please excuse thisinquiringmind's tardiness. She happens to be forgetful as well as busy these days. She will bring extra snacks for the kids next week.

Ms inquiringmind's Mom.
A few quick updates about my latest reads and the best of my life:

We're approved for the loan on our new house. We are just waiting for the "final-final" approval and a set date for the closing. The attorney we chose has been a huge headache and I would not choose them again if it can at all be helped. I'd tell her to skip the closing if it didn't mean we'd eventually be homeless and out hundreds of thousands of dollars. Just saying.

I am planning on taking some dance classes starting next week. Part of me is psyched that I will be refreshing all I know about dance terminology for use in my dance judging; the other part of me is nervous that my body will collapse on the floor the first week, going, "why? why would she do this to me?!" Seriously, it will be good exercise, and I've been meaning to do it for years now. It's not ballet, but I'm willing to explore new/re-visit old territory. Dance judging conference/training begins this weekend. I get to spend all three weekend days learning how to talk into a tape recorder while simultaneously taking in 650 bits of information within 3 minutes and then frantcially scoring before the next song starts. It's gonna be great! It makes speaking difficult sometimes when you are so caught off guard by all of the things needing work that you cannot possibly communicate fast enough. And that brings us to our next point: my lack of communication about the awesome books I've experienced recently.

One, I gave The Great Train Robbery by Michael Crichton a shot. Husband has been pushing this book for at least a year and telling me how great it is. I do admit. The story was fascinating; real people, pulling off an extraordinary mega-crime over the period of a year in mid-19th century England. I half & half'ed it on audio and reading. As irritated as I was that the book binding broke, I was equally amused that the audio narrator made the main character sound exactly like Jason Staham, of action-movie fame and husband's man-crush.

Two, Dogs of Babel, by Carolyn Parkhurst is by far, the most depressing book I have ever read. I almost hesitate to write about it here. While beautifully written, it is extremely haunting and I did not care much for the discussion of death on every other page, or the intensity of describing mutilated dogs at various points in the novel. If you can stomach those things, you're good. I'd say it's worth the read, but I sort of wish I could un-read it.

My two recent FAVORITES: Winterdance by Gary Paulsen (about the young-adult author's decision to just get a team of sled dogs together and go run the Iditarod race.) The tale is non-fiction and absolutely incredible. Very funny, informative, and at times, sad. It was an easy read that I couldn't put down. So good.
Second (or fourth of all) was my read of Catching Fire. This is the second book in The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins. Even being crazed for Twilight at one time last summer, have I never been as entralled with such a quick-paced, well written adventure book/series. The writing is impeccable, makes you aware of each character's mannerisms, behaviors, & characteristics without over-explaining, and the story is fascinating. Basically, in The Hunger Games, a post-distaster North America airs a fight to the death between 24 kids, 12-18 years old that takes place in a set-arena until one victor remains standing. A sixteen year old girl fights for her life in the arena when she volunteers to take her younger sister's place. Catching Fire continues the story after Games ends. There are love stories, triangles, identity searching and some gore. These books have everything to make your life exciting for a few hours, at least.
On the flip.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Under and Outside of the House

Greetings and Salutations! As I recall, I left you stranded in the kitchen, therefore we will proceed to the dungeon downstairs. Not really. It's quite nice but we've got a couple of plans.

The view to your left as you walk down the basement stairs.

And the view to your right.

This is the family room area to the left. The photo below looks back into what they have set as a gym area and a connecting door waaay back there to the storage room. Planning on removing at least some of the red, not sure where yet. The boring stuff: Our laundry room and water softner. It has more shelving space built in on the right. The utilities are all enclosed in their own room near the stairs across from another storage room. The Packer half-bath in all its glory. We asked if they'd take the wallpaper down before they left but we didn't get any takers.
Get ready to party because the bar and the pool table are staying with us. The poster of Brett Favre on a Harley is sadly leaving.

Let us mosey on back upstairs and out to the yard...

This is the side entry into the back yard. The fence is coated chainlink, so it should not rust. Neighbors have a solid wooden fence.

That's our shed way back there. Some bugs were crawling around it but no damage. I love the tree because it shades almost the whole yard and we shouldn't have to worry too much about it falling on the house, since it leans away. Small brick patio to the deck. The kitchen door is on the right, some seating is attached to the deck behind the hedge but we've got to majorly trim the bushes before anyone could fit there.

So that's it. The end of our journey together and just the beginning for a young couple. Some work to be done, but no major projects to tackle. Thanks for looking and we'll let you know when the housewarming party is!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

The tour continues

I got sick of dragging images down and screwing up the formatting. (Excuse my illiterate-photo-inserting-blogging skills)

Some shots of the kitchen; tile backsplash, good space, enough for an island or a table in the center of the room. Note the builder model dishwasher that we'll need to replace. door to backyard on the right.

The paint colors in the kitchen: drab olive and this burgandy/maroon color. Like them separate but not together. Not sure what to do there. Door to backyard on left, garage door to the left, and dining straight into that yellow.

Because our dog is the coolest ever.

Congratulate Me: We're selling our souls for a house!

That's right, we've finally gotten a contract set for our new living space. The inspection went rather well yesterday and we did not discover any super creepy crawly things living under the bed, nor hidden corpses in the closet. I'm not certain that the latter is a violation of any building code, but needless to say, we're pleased the house is liveable. I'm so punny...
Anyway, a lot of people are asking, and I figure I should just post some photos of all the stuff we're going to be changing when we move in early October. Let the tour commence:

Le Outside of our new digs

Inside the front door looking left.

Check out that fireplace. (wood burning gas starter)

Standing in the living room. Door on the left goes into kitchen.

Hallway on the other side of the kitchen, the rockin' pantry doors & the linen closet at the very end.

Bedroom #1. It is much bigger than it looks here. Have not decided how to decorate it.

Guest Bath.

Sort of ugly paint & grout to clean/avoid on the tile bath! Excellent! :/

Bedroom #2: My favorite wall in the house. Unfortunately the current owner is perhaps the biggest GB Packer fan that has ever lived. As will be evident in later photos.

Master Bedroom. That's a king size, so our tidy "little" queen should work nicely. I'd like to paint it different than this ooky tan/yellow color but haven't decided what will be most calming...

Boring master bath & with shower...

To be continued....

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Latest and Greatest

I did end up finishing The Poisonwood Bible. It was very well written, but it could have been about 100 pages shorter and I would still have been satisifed. Speaking of levels of satisfaction, my stomach is growling and I can't wait until lunch.

I'm almost a third of the way through a giant brick of a book called Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett. Been listening on audio and enjoying it. I had to bring the cd's back to the library instead of renewing when I was smack in the middle of it because someone had requested it. Wouldn't you know, they brought it back within days and it's now riding along in my car again. I rented the hardbound copy in the meantime so I could catch up to part two of the audio and that bumped me up in timing. The story itself is about three characters; Tom Builder (the cathedral architect, Phillip, a Prior, and Lady Alieana, some earl's young daughter I don't know much about yet. It's really interesting because Follett combines drama with historical and technical material very well and I can't wait to see what happens next.

I am also beginning Along for the Ride, a predictable young adult novel by Sarah Dessen, and The Red Leather Diary by Lily Koppel. Red Leather is a biography using a woman's diary from early 20th century New York City. Waiting to begin at lunch but sounds great.

In the housing arena, big fat fail for our first offer. The sellers didn't counter our reasonable offer but wrote a very strange letter about how great their house is. We told them either counter or we're walking. 'Nuf said, I'm not heartbroken and we've got time to look for something better for us.

I got my heart rate monitor for the gym. I really like it but am torn about what zones I should stay in. The gym says they matter, other sources say they don't. I want to do what's best for my body and don't know what that is yet. Also trying to eat better, but it's hard when we've got awesome bacon cheeseburgers to eat from leftovers. Last night I ran farther and longer than I ever have before. I ran 3.25 miles in 45:30. I walked about 10 minutes of that, equaling about .6 miles of it. This makes me a lot more confident in my ability to do that and not pass out. I stumbled off the treadmill for a potty break and ended up rolling my ankle to the point of discomfort but not injury. If I hadn't done that, I could have gone longer. I did 3 miles in 41:40, which as I told my husband beats his recent run time. Anyway, today I'm meeting with a trainer and setting a good strength training plan for me. I should meet with a nutritionist too, but I feel like that isn't too necessary right now. Maybe if I get bored again I will use it to motivate me.

Wow, totally serious post here. Signing off.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Giggly Girl

Apparently I am making this a monthly blog. I just haven't had time in the last two months to either read, or stray from my hectic work schedule. Amidst all the economic turmoil, I'm trying to stay as current & valuable as possible. I finally finished a major grant application and celebrated by dancing in front of my boss' office. He did eventually ask later, but I appreciate the fact that he accepts that I would normally do that kind of stuff and is okay with it. Now, it's onto CDBG & green(er) grants.

In book news, I finally finished The Count of Monte Cristo!!! Jimmny Christmas, it.was.worth.it. Lots of characters to keep straight but the way it all intertwines is genius. I have already put other Dumas books on my to-read list. I just need a break from the super long period pieces. To break it up a little, I read Murder on the Orient Express, one of Agatha Christie's top Poirot stories. I do understand that it was written in a different time, but the racial stereotypes were very exaggerated. The plot & eventual solution was so crazy. Christie is definitely a master of her craft & her books are great for a little light mystery.

Now I am a couple of chapters into The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver. It is on the list of 1001 books to read before you die, and appears to be a recommended favorite. From what I gather, a family of missionaries go into the african jungle to live for a year. We'll see how this shapes up, it's a little churchy for me yet, but not to

Love how I ended this in the middle of a sentence. More in the next post.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Running Update #1 & Dairy Queen (the book)

Last night's run was tougher than Monday's. I ran my first mile in the same time (14:15) but ended up running the whole circuit about 45 seconds faster (28:26). I forgot my headphones at work and didn't have a spare. I had to strain to hear the music they pipe in and none of it was remotely motivational. While I do choose to run on equipment where I can see the TV with music videos playing, I swear if I ever have to hear any Jonas Brothers song ever again I will stab out my ear drums with the closest sharp utensil. It.is.so.terrible.

Reading a YA book called Dairy Queen by Catherine Gilbert Murdock. I am enjoying the Midwestern take on things and it is very interesting hearing about the average life on a farm. Generally though, I am somewhat irritated by the female narrator's teen angst and can only take so much of the whiny, "oh my life is so awful but I will be sarcastic and snarky so my complaints won't seem so annoying to the reader". I am also incredulous about her idea to join as a player on the local high school football team. Adding to this is the idea of her training (and maybe dating) the QB of the rival football team. If a young adult novel can't be far-fetched, what can these days? Some review said this book rivals Twilight but I have yet to find that an accurate statement.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The un-reading

I've been super busy between working through hectic lunches and working up a sweat at the gym, I have been neglecting my reading. I am happy to announce that I am now over halfway done with Gone With the Wind. While it is enjoyable, I feel like I have been reading it since before I was born (I began it in late March...yeah). I won a book on Goodreads called In the Kitchen by Monica Ali. Despite its neat-sounding description on the book jacket, it is too boring to read and therefore I will not be describing it further.

Since my reading habit has taken a slide into a bottomless well, I can talk about my get-healthy efforts. I am working my way through the Couch to 5K running program. I've always wanted to be able to run without feeling like I have a baby alien in my side or going to spew blood from my lungs. This is a good start because it is a solid, tested program that people use to slowly build their way into running. I will benefit from cardio, no doubt, but also the heart & lung-healthiness of the whole thing. I'm on week 4, day 2 tonight, meaning I will run 3 minutes, 90 second walk, 5 minute run, 2.5 minute walk, repeat once. Pretty simple, but I am happy because two and 1/2 weeks ago I was having trouble running 90 seconds let alone four times that amount now. I find it incredible what our bodies are capable of and that makes me feel better when I am running a tough one.

I want to keep track also of how fast I am running my miles, so Monday, I ran/walked my first mile in 14:15. Mile #2 pulled in at 29:48. If I do even a little better than the last day, I feel pretty good about it. No particular goal yet, just to get a little faster and not feel like I want to die afterward.

Vegas in T-minus 8 days. I shall be gorging myself with Mesa Grill and delicious French crepes (ooh lala) before we know it... I'll probably bring a new trip journal, just because snark is always most fun on vacation. Plans are a massage & fitness day at the Paris, lots of food, walking, and trying for a run on the Strip in early morning. We'll see if all my vegas dreams come true...(and the daydreaming harp music plays on).

Friday, May 8, 2009

Oh Where oh Where has thisinquiringmind Gone?

Where can she be? That is the song that anyone who reads this could have been singing for the last month and a half. Anyway, I've got new pursuits on the horizon: Working Out. Yep that's right ladies and gents, the husband and I joined a gym a couple of weeks back. While I don't find the locker room clean enough for me to shower without shoes, the rest of it is pretty nice. After my muscles were rendered incapacitated post "team fitness" class, I had my doubts, but the classes are pretty motivational. They are also really full. I have never been in a gym class with over 75 people, wingspan room only- this Dance Jam class was crazy. I am beginning the "Couch to 5K" program today. I guess it's a step-by-step method of building running endurance- it's like it was designed for me.
Today's plan:
5 minute warm up walk, intervals of 90 seconds walking, 60 seconds running for a period of 20 minutes.
I will also be doing 2-3 lifting exercises. I get soooo bored lifting but it needs to be done, since I haven't done it yet in two weeks of gym membership [blushes].

In book news, I've been slogging through Gone With the Wind for the last three weeks. I figured that reading a 1000 page book would be a breeze, however I am just hitting the 350 page mark. I've read at least a chapter everyday but there is just so much detail that it's taking forever. This is not to say that I'm not enjoying it, because I am, it's just not an easy read.

I polished off a Sarah Dessen book called Keeping the Moon, about a teen who was fat and finds friends who build up her confidence and ultimately change her into a different person. While elements of this story were fun, I just couldn't relate to almost any of the characters, therefore I enjoyed Dessen's later work more.

I am departing for Las Vegas in less than 27 days and it will be glorious. In addition to undoing all of the great things I'll have accomplished with my body in the next few weeks, I will be spending money on lots of fun things. My must-do's are eating at a couple of specific restaurants, doing a little shopping, going to the pool once in my new bikini, and surprisingly, I want to treat myself to a day at the spa and fitness center there.

When we come back from our trip, we will then be out looking for a house to buy. Hopefully we can officially be homeowners prior to the year-end incentive to purchase. An even bigger "hopefully" on my part would be to move while there is still no snow in sight. Scraping snow & ice off of my car last year went quickly to the top of my "hate" list and I would like to avoid it if at all possible. Plus, how awesome would it be to move in 17 degree weather?! (So awesome that I won't be participating it- that's how awesome.) So we've narrowed down the area to four different villages, all of which are connected and about 30 minutes from work. Here's to wishing for a nice affordable place with little to nothing wrong with it.

Finally, my job responsibilities changed at the beginning of April and I've been running around like a chicken with its head cut off trying to learn a new position (hence no real new entries here). While I enjoy what I'm doing now even more, it's been crazy. An update to that whole wilderness-store-cultural-potluck-gift-card debacle: After wandering the giant store for an hour considering everything from dog toys to bicycle helmets, I spent it yesterday on fudge to share at work and beef jerky for the husband. I'm so awesome.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Always wanting more

What I would really like to do today is set myself in my living room and read for hours. Possibly follow that with a nice crisp walk without my dog dragging me and killing my legs. Then, I would hop back into my chair after an awesome PB&J and read some more. This is what I would do if I lived in an alternate universe. Instead, today I am at work, summarizing housing statistics, writing letters to people who have violated code, and answering lots of phone call questions about zoning. Super fun. On my way here, I realized that the truck I passed did not have a tailgate but did have a board in its place, spraypainted with the following: " Chebrolet". At the point of not having the back gate on your car, is it necessary to attempt to put their logo back up on that rusty, mangy-looking vehicle if you are not familiar with the English spelling of said brand? I think not.

I finished Watchen by Moore and I wasn't crazy about it. I liked the flow of it because of the pictures and the fact that it already had filled in the descriptives with the images, but the story itself was not a favorite of mine. It isn't an epic fail, and I'm glad I read it, but again, not my fav.

I am almost through The Truth About Forever by Sarah Dessen. It's actually very good. It is considered Young Adult, but the writing is not dumbed-down and feels very realistic. I can only hope that it does not get churned out in theatres with someone like Mandy Moore in the teen lead (ironically, I realize, two Sarah Dessen novels were the basis for the movie How to Deal). The depth of the characters is real and you cannot help but feel a twinge of high school nostalgia for the memory of your own crushes by way of the heartthrob/tortured-artist Wes. I would not hesitate to pick up another of Dessen's novels and would recommend this particular book to anyone from twelve years old into adulthood. It just captures you.

Probably the next book (and probable final book of March & my 50 book challenge) is I Am the Messenger by Marcus Zusack. He wrote The Book Thief, also recommended. I've only read a chapter or two but the characters and the narrating voice from the young man is pretty hilarious and very similar to what I'd expect the inside of a 20 year-old boy's head to sound like. More on that later.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Look Out for UFD's (Unstrapped-Flying-Dressers)

I decided yesterday was a great day to use my hour and a half of comp time so I left work in the late afternoon. My buggy puppy required a new bag of food, and we get a discount after spending a trillion dollars at this animal feed store, so I set off on the highway in pursuit. I am safely cruising within reasonable speeds, and this pick up with random bedroom items almost side-swipes my driver's side. Why he had difficulty staying out of two feet of my lane, I have no idea. Perhaps it was the desk chair with the frantic wheel/windmill-action that distracted them.

I slow down to avoid said pick up truck. A minute later, a drawer comes flying through the air and I have to swerve into the lane on my left to avoid it. Sorry old crummy van coming up behind me! Seriously dangerous. I see the truck weave back into my lane ahead. I am anticipating my exit, so I move all the way to the right. Just before the exit, traffic slows. This is normal, considering it is almost rush hour and it is Chicagoland on a weekday. Another few hundred feet and I see masses of reds and yellows, and whites splayed all over the four lane highway. Splintered wood and shattered fragments of dresser being avoided as cautiously as possible by all highway drivers. I couldn't help but laugh because it was just a ridiculous sight to see, but noting my drawer near-miss, I couldn't help but wonder how the drivers who almost got crushed by a flying dresser avoided major crashes. I didn't see an accident, so I assume things were alright for most. It was just nuts.

I had to swing by my husband's work afterward to do yet another errand. In regaling him with this tale, much arm flailing and face scrunching occured along with a whine about how I wanted to kill everyone on the road. Outside of his office it must have looked like we were fighting between hugs. I already apologized for yelling about his whistling the NCAA tournament song repeatedly, but that is another story.

I finished The Nine: The Secret World of the Supreme Court by Jeffrey Toobin. I started it last year and never made it through before I renewed it and still didn't read it. I am so glad I picked it back up. I concede, I was a bit of a constitutional law geek in college, but that doesn't mean this reads like a textbook. Personal details about each Supreme Court Justice from the Rehnquist Court & new justice Alito and Chief Justice Roberts were shared. Some of the personal stories were hilarious to me, and I had to recite them to my (mostly but politely) un-interested co-workers. The history of the court appointments by the recent presidents and the case history came with the story and flowed through. It is inconceivable how anyone can sit by and not realize how important many of the decisions made by the judicial system are to us and our daily lives. Granted, some people don't even realize that we have a judicial branch in government, but I digress. This is my glowing review for a book that wraps up human nature, American history, and lots of true drama into one little convenient package. Read it and be informed.

I am one-half a book away from claiming my fifth-place victory in the Winter Book Challenge. I had to re-read a book with "Love" in the title, because I didn't find a book with a place in the title. (I've abandoned A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, sadly. It was too dull for me to get through.) My choice is Random Acts of Heroic Love - by Danny Scheinmann. It's relatively sad but beautifully written and my head is constantly full of pictures. Without giving anything away, one character wakes up in Ecuador to find his girlfriend died in a crash they were in. He is struggling to become whole again but remembers her constantly. The other character is re-telling his past experience fighting in WWI. There is supposed to be a connection between the two men and the very different time periods but I have no idea what it is yet. Like I said- the language envelopes and wraps you up in the story. I'm going out on a limb and saying, I like this.

Off to make a police report about our stolen mail. Again, another story. I secretly hope that whichever kid is stealing our movies shows up with our stolen baseball tickets at the game. Surprise! We are notifying the police when we get home and you're going to jail for a felony crime! Sorry about your high school graduation- you probably weren't going to make it anyway...

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Not too much happening here

The BBC put out a list of 100 books and claims that the average person has read six of the selections, modern and classic. I went through my list and found 33 books read, and another 21 I currently have on my TBR list. Apparently it was determined to be false statistically, but I wouldn't count that too far from the truth. Many people don't read and it makes me sad.

In other news, I want to pass out at my desk because I am so tired. The time changed back to “steal-an-hour-from-you-time” so I can’t fall asleep an hour earlier than I am used to, yet have to get up an hour earlier. I also stupidly pulled a muscle in my back/side/under my lung by picking up my dog this morning. I cannot breathe in deeply without a wincing pain. It sucks.

I finished Brida, by Paul Cohelo. It was supposed to be a girl’s search for more by way of learning magic, but it wasn’t really magic, just a lot of communing with nature, which some people would say is the real thing anyway. It was not my favorite, but written well. I would rate this a "meh".

I am also working my way through Count of Monte Cristo, which I love more with each page. Also reading A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (slow at this time) and The Nine – awesome book about the Rehnquist Supreme Court. I will talk more about those later I expect. This is your fearless leader, signing off.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Dinna fash, I've got ye covered

This is what I read since my last entry. It was pretty good but those 850 pages took forever to get through. Truthfully, I had been reading little bits of it for about two months, because I couldn't take more of it at a time. It was sooo slow to start and it only took about 270 pages to pull me into the story. Anyway, woman goes time-traveling through this rock, leaves her husband in present-day (post WWII) era Scotland. Captured by a band of Scottish ruffians, woman ends up fated to be with the young Jamie Fraser. It was interesting, and I enjoyed some of the sexy scenes, some fight scenes, the emotional depth of the characters and story. However, I just didn't connect like some people do to this story or these people. I think it is just me, so if you're interested in a well-written, long book with it all, this is for you.

In other news today, my husband called me at 10 am this morning with the following question, "Was the kitchen really flooded when you left this morning?" [blank stare and blinking happening here] "Yes Sweetheart. I found the kitchen gushing water all over the place and decided to pack it up, go to work, and leave it for you to find an hour and a half later." He had to stay and work from home today because of all the people going in and out from the house to fix the catastrophe. Apparently, there was a major clog in the pipes, which we sort of knew about (after one unsuccessful snake drill and two now successful bottles of Draino later), but we thought the problem was solved. There was water dripping from somewhere a couple days ago but we thought it was a roof leak or water coming from melting snow outside. It was not, since there was water times ten this morning after I heard a mysterious water-cooler noise. The dog froze, sniffed the vent that was a problem before, and we went on our merry way. Oh well, problem hopefully and completely solved. Husband is convinced there will be black mold growing in a week and kill us in our sleep. Lovely.
My sister's film got chosen to represent at a school-wide film festival. I of course, am the film's star but I haven't seen it. Very excited to have me looking naked in front of her entire college. Technically, I was taped into a shower curtain when I fell, and was in a bathing suit, but still. I am proud though. Hopefully my sitting around for three hours, sopping wet and getting paint (yes paint) poured on me will in some way, be worth it to her. On the other hand, I am not the filmmaker, so maybe that is what makes art. Hmmm. This weekend, husband and I will be playing vampires in her new epic short. Yes, really.

Sort of reminds me of another book I'm re-reading, Fahrenheit 451. I just loved the line, "the word "intellectual" became the swear word it deserved to be." I think that sums up our society nicely. People always afraid to learn, to produce and permit knowledge, to step off of the grazing sheep's path. I think Bradbury is still rather prophetic in this novel at least. This book was wasted on my 14-year old mind, but I do love it so now.

After this week, I am ready to go crack a bottle of wine or something, read, jam out playing Rockband with husband (his new favorite activity), and fill my head with trash wedding movies, like Made of Honor and Mama Mia. I can't wait.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Authentic Jesus & the other JC (Julia Child)

On my way home from work, I noticed two odd things and felt I must diatribe.

First, saw not less than three teenagers wearing neon sneakers, like, bright pink, & green shoes. Why?

Second, a highway truck drove by with an artsy silouetted photo of a man in a sunset. It said in block lettering, "Authentic Jesus". Tell me, what kind of product is this truck delivering? I doubt that it has anything to do with the Moses action figure with part-the-Red-Sea arm motion. On merging lanes very tightly with another vehicle, I muttered, "Jesus" and then caught myself in a fit of the giggles when I added in a second, rather correcting voice, "No, Authentic Jesus". Anyway.

The woman at the library knows me by name and asks me if I have something on reserve just about everytime now. I know I visit every Thursday, but do you have to acknowledge the fact that we could practically sit down and eat a Sunday night dinner with the family? They do a good job and all, but I don't want to be closer to the librarian check out lady than to my Grandma.

Today was a non-fiction day, so plenty of new reviews coming this way. For the past week I've been "reading" Julie and Julia by Julie Powell. I quoted "Reading" because it's an audiobook and a lot of people don't count it because I don't have my face in a book. Well dammit, I might want to do something more productive while driving than listening to some crap put out by the am radio shows or whatever. I know it's not technically savoring my silent, concentration time with a novel, but I'm still experiencing the book and could write a report on the same book you're reading in some little corner while I'm hitting up some other stories on the side. That's right, I'm a book player. If I get bored with you, I cheat, and then will come crawling back when I've decided I do sort of appreciate some things about you and we'll you'll entertain me when there's no other book I'd like to spend my time with. Back to the audiobook. Read by the author, so it has tons of sarcasm and witty banter, much like I would like to narrate a story about my exploration of French cooking by-way-of Julia Child. I'm not doing that but she does in the book. I recommend it for a hip-non-thinking mood, perfect for an audiobook. It's supposed to be a movie sometime this year starring Amy Adams and Meryl Streep. I'm not sure how I feel about that.

Speaking of food, I opened the door to my home and my crockpot had not caught fire during the day. Delicious roast awaits.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Medicine-Head, Logger.com, & Dog Hysterics

I was googling this site to log in and ended up at logger.com. Didn't realize there was such a thing, but to each their own. I've been sick the last few days and finally decided that I needed a day off of work. While yesterday was nice, and my hours and hours of coma-like daytime sleep were needed, I was not totally prepared for today to hit me full blast. Not only did I wake up every. single. hour. of the night last night from approximately 12:30 am on until 6:30 this morning, but I also flew into a whirlwind of leftover paperwork. While I appreciate being kept in the know, the bazillion "FYI" e-mails I received today left me slightly dizzy in addition to my already fuzzy outlook due to my acutely cold-medicined head.

I was on my home this evening and realized that I had become an Eskimo. Apparently heat is no longer necessary for the majority of a car ride home when you've pulled on a $3 dinky ski-cap and skinny Target gloves. I unlocked the door and was greeted by a distinct groan from an irritated puppy. I let her out and was ambushed by a frenzy of squeaking dog toys and lots of leaping around. I sat on the stairs and after the sixth time or so, began shooting video of her throwing her ball from the top of the stairs, racing/falling down the stairs, jumping about when it was retrieved, racing back up the stairs and repeating the process. As much as I love dogs, I don't know if I will ever get used to a foot and 1/2 tall creature zooming around my house, throwing themselves around in a completely deranged hysteria. She's of course sacked out after snagging a snippet of toilet paper from the roll in the bathroom.

Anyway, I've been reading bits of things here and there. I tried Angry Housewives Eating Bon Bons, which was supposed to be a selection from women's literature, but I just couldn't get over the constant dialouge. Is that what it sounds like when women are together? Landvik's writing was well done but I don't think I am in the right frame of mind at this stage in my life to read that book- great choice for someone who has children or are older.
Also attempted The Stars, My Destination - it's a sci-fi book, totally NMS (not-my-style) and some of it was interesting but I couldn't get past the unlikeable main character. American Wife was another attempt but again, I found it reading too much like Chick-lit.

I opted for a book called The House of Dark Shadows, a young adult book. It read really easily, and was a fun, semi-scary thriller for people like me, who don't love to have nightmares. Basically a teen boy and his brother move to town where nothing happens, they move into a creepy house where weird stuff happens, and they have adventures.

My rave of the week is The Count of Monte Cristo - Alexander Dumas. The writing is kickin' some a** and I love all of the characters, aside from the ones of course that you're supposed to dislike. I saw the movie a few years ago, but aside from the main character Dantes, I've forgotten who's who and that makes it all exciting for me. So, this is my favorite for the time being, reading it on my handy-dandy itouch is helping me get through it in short bursts too. While I do not expect to finish this in one sitting, I am so freaking glad I am not hauling around a massive 1400 page novel. And now back to the show...

Monday, February 9, 2009

Monday Funday

I think that gummi bears are highly underestimated in their resemblance to fruit. They have a delicious variety of flavors, are slightly chewy, and sometimes a little juicy when mixed with your saliva (I know, gross, but come on, it's true). I have been starving this morning since 10 am, only three hours since I shoveled down a medium-sized bowl of Frosted Flakes. I forgot my water bottle (reusable of course) and that helped my stomach remain empty until I discovered my plastic baggie of gummi bears leftover from my home-packed movie snack. Yep. I brought food into the theatre, but you know what? I was not the one making obnoxious crinkling and ripping sounds as I avoided opening a giant box of whoppers or almost spilling an already piddly plastic bag of sour patch kids all over the floor because the package was so hard to open.

Also worth noting from the movie, were the two must-have-been-close-to-30-single-ladies-who-are-probably-staying-single-a-while-longer who sat almost directly behind us in a slightly empty theatre. Granted, my mother, sister and I chose to see Bride Wars of all things, so we might have been asking for it. However, any time there was something said that might have been planned as a laugh-out-loud joke by the writers, but not such a hit onscreen, one of them would repeat it over like it was the funniest thing she'd ever heard. "Oh my gosh! He said "that's right honey!"" HAHAHAHA! "No way! She she just did such and such! I can't believe it!" HAHAHAHA! And they were completely into the whole thing. I bet it ranked up there in their top ten movies of all time. The laughs too were a chortle-snort combo. It was hellacious. My sister and I spared no time in glancing each other's way every time it happened, which was about every five minutes. Seriously. In summary of the movie, my mother and I agreed that it was just full of lots of yelling, and the favorite line had something to do with a comment about eating sticks of butter.

In literary news, I have forsaken The Pelican Brief by John Grisham and have opted to just watch the critically acclaimed (I have no idea if this is true) film starring Julia Roberts & Denzel Washington. I know it came out in like, 1994, but I haven't seen it and would still like to know what happens post chapter 6. Instead, I am embarking on some other randoms that I have not been able to invest myself in reading yet.

For now, I leave you to go back to the little fruity zoo in my hand.

Friday, February 6, 2009

A Day in the Life (and other random things)

I've not been around much, but in the last week I have been on the brink of thinking myself into despair about the rocky economic situation and my job, to being bored out of my mind with my husband at not one but two superbowl/sporting event "parties", and zoomed back into happiness and sunshine and puppies within the span of a week. As a bright spot, I made rockin' potato skin appetizers for a party and they were devoured, unlike our sad little salsa that sat unwanted all night last year. We love our salsa- I do not know what other peoples' problem is - I'm so sorry that it wasn't like processed, splashed into a Chi Chi's salsa jar and hermetically sealed. Whatev.

So I am sitting here today just about to enjoy my hour of reading and lunch at my desk, when the phone rings. It's a quiet ring, because I am irritated by loud rings that make the office occupants expect the telephone to rocket into space at the end of the ring tone. Anyway, I hear the phone ring. While it is not from "unknown caller" aka Fax machine (another story), I recognize the number as a business, and have no clue why they called. I shrug it off and let the voicemail get it, figuring it's just a question about some property maintenance thing. Three seconds after it stops ringing, the same number calls back. I glare at my phone, with a weird, puzzled look on my face as my boss walks by and spots the blank stare on my face, just watching the phone ring. After lunch I talked to the lady and they didn't need me in the first place. What?

As punishment one of those tiny eyelashes jumped from the safety of being connected to my eyelid to just slightly below, so the bottom tip felt like it was scratching my eyeball with a miniature sliver of sandpaper. I was in panic mode - fix lunch or go to the bathroom, carry my lunch bag on my way to the bathroom and leave it outside as I performed minor surgery? I opted to fish a compact mirror out of my purse and jabbed my finger in my eye to get it fixed instead. Disaster averted.

My husband and I watching some food show on tv a while ago decided that if we were to go on a newlywed -type game show (which I think would be awesome), I would be required to say that his favorite thing about cooking is smashing garlic cloves with the flat side of a knife. Odd, but true. I think I like making Italian appetizers and eating ice cream best. In thought, those are not really the same thing.

Two of my latest books read were Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugedines (sp), and Uglies by Scott Westerfield. The first, was interesting, but pretty much left me creeped out and haunted by the girl/guy's life. Yeah yeah, Orpah selection, it was well done, but I don't want to read about some hermaphrodite's grandparent's penchant for incest.
The other book, Uglies, is classified Young Adult and for almost the whole book, I wanted to punch the awful writing in the face. I did like the story concepts, and sadly, may also read the second book called Pretties [gags*]. It's a very fleecy introduction for our vapid youth to recognize that there can be problems with making outer beauty their main motivation in life. It is a sappy friendship, teen heart-throb novel disguised as a science fiction novel.

I've also begun The Pelican Brief but have become bored in the first six chapters despite its content- supreme court, government scandal- great. I just think I will watch the movie instead and move onto something else.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Diversity Potluck Hijinx

So the other day I thought I had left something in the freezer at work for lunch. I go to the fridge to make it and realize the freezer is void of any of my stuff. I explain this to the coworker who saw my disappointment and she said "go to the Diversity Potluck- they're inviting everyone." While I was not pleased about the idea, I ventured down the hall to the conference room. Typically, all of us in my division treat all-village get-togethers like a covert operation. We go in a group, try to be as invisible as possible, grab a plate of food and high-tail it back to our desk. This my friends (sorry John McCain reference there), was not in the cards on Thursday.

I arrive with my tiny saucer plate, to grab one or two items and am greeted boisterously by about four women who I have never seen before. "Hi! So glad you came! Grab some food and sit down!" I didn't bring anything and I told them so, explaining I forgot my lunch and it was about 4 degrees outside. "That's alright- it's for everyone!" [continues to blink widelywith plastered smile on her face] At that point I couldn't leave, so I obliged and sat down next to one of the 12 strangers in the room. Aside from my Boss' Boss, and his Boss, I know no one except for the another director who comes up to me, introduces himself for the 5th time (in a year and 1/2) like he has never seen me before in his life. The next thing I know, my name is drawn from a plastic schoolbox for a $25 gift card for a hunting/fishing outdoor gear store that I have never been before.

So here I was, showing up 45 minutes late for the meal, a stranger to all 15 people that attended and prepared food that day, made and brought nothing to feed others, and I am chosen for a gift card that while nice, is something I never desired. I felt so ridiculous. With my red face, I went back to work and was promptly teased by my co-workers for the rest of the day/my work career here for being a mooch. Great.

In other news, I am reading a book called A Lesson Before Dying, by Ernest Gaines. It features the story of a young black man sentenced to death in the 1940's South, and a teacher who shows up to visit the wrongly convicted man to teach him how to die with dignity and as they say in the book to be a man. It is pretty good in an assigned high school reading kind of way and I recommend it.

Monday, January 19, 2009

The Awesome-ness that is Rebecca

I finally hunkered down and began at the recommendation of my friends, my little sister, my mom, your mom, Rebecca, by Daphne DuMaurier. Written in the 1930's, this classic mystery tells the story of the new Mrs. DeWinter and the shadow cast upon her by the late Mrs. DeWinter, Rebecca. I am only in the 18th chapter but it has started to get really good. I cannot help but smile when I get a new tidbit of juicy, gossip-like material, something to the effect of, "oh my goodness, she did not just do that!" and it comes flying off the page at me.

While it is not totally my favorite style, I am invested now in uncovering the rest of this beautifully written novel. I am just waiting for some tragic ending with a bit of stoicsm by the book's unnamed heroine, as she stands looking out over the sea upon a cliff at Manderley. By the way, while I totally understand that the author left the female protagonist unnamed to illustrate the extreme level of overshadowing memories of Rebecca's life has over this young girl, I have named my lead. I think I've been calling her Lily, Victoria, or Eloise just to have a name with the face I'm picturing. Instead of the lack of a name, I find the lead's (Lily/Victoria/Eloise's) insecurities and naievete irritating.

Anyway, I am excited about finishing this and seeing how it all works out. Two thumbs up if that were still popular. I say to those who are hesitantly waiting upon the precarious edge of reading or not reading; "jump".

(Now, please enjoy my copy's sleazy,
harlequin romance-style cover):

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Headline: Frozen in Windy Tundra Previously Known as Chicago!

This morning at 7:30, the news said it was -10 degrees outside. Sick. Seriously, I am getting tired of the wonderful statistics about this warm and fuzzy winter season. Apparently, the average snowfall is recorded at 38 inches for the entire winter. We surpassed that just a few days ago in mid-January. Don't worry, we have another 3.5 months left of great Chicago winter left. (Yes, that puts us into May, but it has snowed then too- it's wacky around here.)

I found a new "green living" type of book called Confessions of an Eco-Sinner, by Fred Pearce. It's about a guy who figures that he needs to know where all of his stuff, food, energy, etc. comes from and sets off around the world to find out. I've read so far about the gold mining in Africa and coffee farming in Tanzania and there's some interesting stuff in there. For example, I did not realize that it took over 2 tons of mined rock and 550 tons of pressurized water to make my gold wedding bands and that over 60,000 workers are mining this stuff in one location- true story. I've often wondered about this kind of thing, like "who makes this stuff?" or "are they getting fair-trade for this tiny sack of herbs and spices"? This book answers at least some of those questions. Hopefully I will trust some of what Pearce is presenting and become a more well-informed consumer.

Monday, January 12, 2009

The beginning of the week

Not much today to piece into a thoughtful and satirical masterpiece of a blog entry, so I will venture to state the following:

Today is "Organize your Home Day" according to some wacky holiday calendar we post up at work. I am uncertain as to what at home I can organize, but I can certainly sort through the foot-high stack of mail that we leave perched precariously atop our shelf near the door. Granted, we take out the important stuff, but sorting things into trash, recycling, shredding, and keeping while you still have your shoes on takes a toll. That is why we ignore it. This weekend we went through a pile that I had put on our couch with the hopes that we'd get to it because we wouldn't like sitting on it. Most of the time, the dog got stuck on that side for the last few weeks. We found mail from 2007 in that pile, no joke.

My brain may be frozen due to the eleventy thousand inches of snow we appear to get dumped on us everyday.

We lost our movie and Applebee's gift cards from Christmas. I swear I washed the clothes that came out of the same gift bag but alas, there are no random gifts to be found. Not a clue. Maybe those items will come to light during our "home organization" day.

I have not chosen who should be playng in the superbowl. Just to make it interesting, I may be rooting for Phily if my husband is rooting for Warner's Cardinal team. I also called the Ravens being in the superbowl but I think its a toss-up between them & the steelers. Ces't la vie.

Have you ever considered that your family may not be the most extremely dysfunctional group of related people on the planet? If not, I highly suggest The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls. As her "childhood" is described, I cannot but have my jaw drop every few minutes from the shock of how selfish and odd her parents were and how deeply that affected her and her siblings' lives.
It really is astounding and I am certain she is not the only child who grew up with self-absorbed to the point of extreme negligence. This memoir is certainly un-put-downable.

Off to save the world, or at least organize something.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Snow Day.

It took 25 minutes for my car to defrost on the inside this morning. As pleasant as that was, I am now pining for living in any other state that would prevent this intolerable circumstance from ever occuring again in my lifetime. I have now affirmed that you may write to me in Las Vegas, Nevada or Portland Oregon. At least maybe in a year or so. I know that this is the best place for us right now with family and jobs, and I know that the last two winters have been especially harsh, but come on. This is recorded as the 22nd measurable snowfall of this winter- Almost a month of snow, and because this is Chicago, we will have at least 4 more months of winter. It is sickening.

Now as I sop up my tears, I would like to say that I am hungry, even though I ate breakfast roughly 3 hours ago, and I am tired, after my 7.5 hours of sleep. I am attempting to write up and edit our bike plan draft for work. I am psyched about biking but looking at a written plan about biking is not the most interetsing thing in the world. It will be wonderful when it's done, because a long-term plan will be in place, and depending upon available funds, might be brought to realization. I hope so.

I renewed the passion for bicycle riding I had as a kid as I sat on the stationary bikes in the gym. I figure it's not the same, and it might be fun to actually travel someplace, so I would like to get a new bike this spring. Think of how many trips to the library I will be taking on my shiny schwinn! Although a basket may be a good idea, I don't want to look like the old man you always see pedaling slowly down main thoroughfares with nothing in the front or rear baskets and no particular destination evident. It weirds me out.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

I'm the Cause of Earth's Destruction

So I found this website called My Footprint.org. http://www.myfootprint.org/en/

It allows you to take a quiz to find out what your footprint in terms of household, food, material goods and energy. I am bummed because I feel like I do some great things to reduce energy, save water, etc. and according to the quiz it would require 5.5 Planet Earths to support my lifestyle for my lifetime. Seriously? Am I contributing that many more toxins and granola bar wrappers to the polluted oceans and filthy air than other lazy butts?

I have planned on doing more anyhow, and found this really great book called "Go Green - How to Build an Earth-Friendly Community" by Nancy H. Taylor. It's a handy dandy little resource that I plan on finishing and trying some of their tips. In the short term, I have already joined the recycling team at work, and sent the coordinator some new ideas that I haven't heard discussed. I also am planning on bothering our apartment complex to coordinate a recycling program onsite. I guarantee about 90% of people do not recycle because the bin is not picked up oustide their door. We have to save our recycling for weeks then spend gas an dcarbon emissions to travel about a mile away to sort it on our own outside. Guaranteed, we are almost the only people who do that here.
Tonight I also swapped two of our bathroom fixture lights with CFL's (Compact Florescent lightbulbs) and thought at first it was the same level of lighting. I forgot that the CFL's burn brighter the longer they're on. Now our bathroom appears to be bright enough to be landing planes on. Oh well, we won't have to replace the bulbs for another nine years, so as long as we bring them with us when we move, all's good in the brighty-mcbright bathroom.
Future projects, program the thermostat, buy more local foods, and insulate our windows with that cellophane stuff ASAP. They did a horrible job with the windows when they re-did the apartment building. We freeze!

Do the "Right" Thing

In addition to the title of this post being a rockin' Spike Lee movie, I found a related quote in a book that I just finished and wanted to share my thoughts. The quote was something to the effect of,

"There are no right decisions, just different ones."
- A Great & Terrible Beauty, Libba Bray.

So with that in mind, I was pondering my life's choices and the potential results that could have risen from me making another choice or me having chosen not to choose at all. I've always believed that if you changed one thing or decision, the effect would ripple throughout the rest of your life, even if miniscule compared to the original debate/action. If you'd believe this quote, which I think is valid, there is not necessarily evidence of such a thing as fate if everything in life is a result of choices made or left unmade. I just loved this idea and yet it sort of creeps me out. That is all.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

This Inquiring Mind Wants to Know

This is the first entry. I have decided that I should begin a journey into blogging. This journey I am certain will be full of unnecessary commentary, faulty prose, and things that the average person would find stupid, irrational, or boring, but I will do my best. It's my blog anyway, so what do you care?

I figure I will be jotting my innermost thoughts about life's entertainments and successes/failures. My current attempts at bettering myself include the following:

* Reading
* Movie Watching
* General Life Observations
* Improving my work performance

I figure it's easiest to begin with basics. And now, ladies and gentlemen, here we go down the rabbit hole.