Friday, December 28, 2012

great expectations

Something about the end of the holidays makes me feel like a balloon with a pin-hole, air slowly and quietly escaping until I'm flat and rubbery on the floor. Figuratively, of course.

Literally, I feel like a balloon stuffed full of butter, cheese, and chocolate. I should never want to eat any of those things again, having over-indulged to the point of shame and illness, and yet I continue to put them in my mouth-hole, chew, and swallow.

Oh man oh man oh man am I happy this year is ending. I just didn't really like this year, dudes. There were neat parts of it and all, but mostly I felt frozen; stalled. I always love the fresh feeling of the start of a new year. Does everyone feel it? It feels like new chances. It's almost like when you start a new job, before the employees know what a complete freak you are. There's a chance to make a really good impression on people before you start talking to yourself and compulsively chewing on the ends of your hair.

I always say this -- I know I do -- but next year is going to be something else. Big things will happen. It could be anything. I feel like I don't know what's going to happen, but it's going to be big, and it's going to be good. There are so many things I want to do, and I figure I'm going to try to do all of it. I hear you now, you're saying Stop with all the goal-setting, you're setting yourself up for failure and disappointment. I would stop if I could, dudes. It's just the New Year feels so full of hope to me.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

not impressed

Long story short, I accomplished only four of the 33 goals I set for myself at the beginning of the year.

It's almost enough to make me want to abandon the practice of setting resolutions. Almost.

I've already mentally beat myself up over it, and now I am extra motivated to make amazing things happen in 2013. Next year is the year, you guys. Big things all around. Shit is gonna get done.

I've reviewed my goals and narrowed them down to 11 large and obtainable targets. This is the year I will prove to myself I can do anything if I want it badly enough.

Do you guys watch Survivor? If you do but haven't watched the finale yet, read no further.

Basically, there was a contestant named Malcolm, who arguably should have won. He'd been a very strategic player. He's young and fit and was winning most of the challenges. Until one day he didn't win a challenge, and the other contestants promptly voted him out. They knew he was a huge threat who could have won the million dollars.

Jeff Probst asked Malcolm how he was able to perform so well, on par with former legendary contestants like Ozzy and Stephanie. And he said it was because he has "swagger." Whenever he set out to do something, he'd say to himself: All right, here I go. Let's do this. He never told himself it was impossible or too dangerous (Until the last challenge when he totally choked).

Now, sure, Malcolm is a muscular, handsome 25-year-old, and I remember when I was a hot 25-year-old, too. A lot of shit seemed possible. What has changed since then? Not too much. Just being older, which makes me more cautious. And I'm married, but to someone who supports whatever I want to do. I don't have any kids, so that's not an issue.

It's time to remember I'm still young and vital and capable of amazing things. There's no reason I shouldn't also enable myself to have swagger, as cheesy as it sounds.


Do you have swagger? Tell me how you do it.

Monday, December 17, 2012

a ranking of the year's books*

I've ranked the books I read and reviewed this year, although there are only 25. Not sure why I didn't read more this year, but it wasn't for lack of material. I think this was one of my better years of reading as far as the quality of novels was concerned. A lot of these books really made an impression on me and several will be among my favorites of all time. I'd say that everything starting at Under the Banner of Heaven and above is worth a read. The others were not my favorites, but that's not to say other people haven't found them absolutely delightful. In fact, there are apparently millions of people enjoying the Fifty Shades books. If you're looking to give a book as a gift, I think Swamplandia and Cloud Atlas would be fabulous. Several of the sci-fi options would make good gifts for teens. To see my reviews just click on the "books" label at the end of this post and they'll all pop up.

swamplandia
 
the round house

gone girl

ready player one

oryx and crake

cloud atlas

all you need is kill

the sparrow

the last werewolf

john dies at the end

warm bodies

this book is full of spiders

1Q84

wool

when she woke

after you'd gone

bringing up bebe

honolulu

under the banner of heaven

the year of the flood

the leftovers

revolution

ghostwritten

shantaram

fifty shades of grey


*I chose not to write about certain events today because there's nothing I can say that hasn't already been said. Suffice to say every time I hear of it or see it, I feel nauseated. I can't comprehend that we live in a place where something like this could happen to the most precious members of our society. Arming teachers is not the answer, people. Let us look to Australia and Japan as examples of what should be done right now.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

things

  • I am really bad at blogging now. (Now, you ask? Psshh.) I suspect I have finally bored even myself. 
  • Which begs the question -- should I review the new Bachelor coming out in January? I think we both know I will. All two of us. I mean, there's going to be a one-armed contestant. I will be there, wine glass in hand. 
  •  I've been cleaning my house for a few days and have finally figured out why it is that professional house cleaners will always clean your home better than you ever will: It's because they see all the disgusting crap you've become used to. Your eye doesn't even see it any more. Here's a tip. Sit on your kitchen floor and look at your cupboards or fridge or dishwasher at that level. Tell me it's not caked in bits of food and cat hair (or whatever. Baby vomit or such). 
  • My husband and I have reached a point where we want nothing for Christmas, but still feel obligated to get each other gifts. If we were smart we would just go to Hawaii for Christmas and call it a day. 
  • My niece turns 1 on Friday ... There are no words. 
  • There are a few new trailers out for a few movies in the works. Here are the links if you're interested: Man of Steel (featuring Henry Cavill as hottest person ever), After Earth (starring Will Smith & son Jaden. Post-apocalyptic space movie? I am there), Lone Ranger (Armie Hammer as the Lone Ranger -- I sort of have a disgusting little crush on him. And for all you other ladies, Johnny Depp as Tonto. Seriously), and lastly Pacific Rim (looks frigging terrible but two of my boyfriends are in it -- Charlie Hunnam -- Jax Teller! -- and Idris Elba. Drool. I'm there).
  • The other day I had the opportunity to use the "Go home .... You are drunk" meme when I posted a link on Facebook to an article that contained a video of the most jacked up driving I'd ever seen -- 13 minutes of a video of Russians driving like maniacs. No one seemed to appreciate my usage of "Go home Russia. You are drunk." So I questioned my husband and he seems to believe I am among a select small group of people who would ever understand what that meme referred to because I spend entirely too much time on the Internet. Point taken, dear!
  •  I had a couple of cavities filled last week and yeah dudes, it sucked, but my dentist is like ... I don't know. He's just so hilarious that I almost didn't give a shit when his drill hit my nerve and I wanted to punch him in the face. He spoke like Christian Bale's Batman for about five minutes straight ("Don't swear to God. Swear to me!") and by the end of it I was laughing so hard I was crying. 
  • Damn, bullet points are hella easier than actually writing an entire, cohesive post.
  • I'm still doing kickboxing, and have to say it's still one of the most hilarious things I've ever seen. I really can't watch myself in the mirror or I start to giggle. And forget about watching Christina -- practically sends me into hysterics. Also, I am really so old. My knees always hurt afterward. I disagree with aging. 
  • Oh, I've gone gluten-free this week! Isn't that fascinating? So far I feel slightly more awake. Normally I feel like I could sleep for three hours at any given point in the day. Just constantly exhausted. I don't actually think I am gluten-sensitive, but would like to wean myself off of processed grains (as well as dairy and sugar) and this feels like a good start. 
  •  If I don't have a kid by next Christmas, there will be no Christmas cards. It's totally thankless and more and more people aren't even sending them out. I think Facebook has sort of nixed that whole thing -- used to be you hardly ever heard from certain people, and now you "hear" from them every day on the Internet. 
  • I believe there are 12 shopping days left until Christmas. I know. You hate me a little right now, don't you? Me too. 

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

books books books


I decided I should do a few flash reviews since I haven't talked about books in a little while. Here we go ...

 

I actually read The Year of the Flood a couple months ago and forgot to review it. It's the sequel to Oryx and Crake, which is a very good book. It's all that futuristic "we killed the earth" stuff I can't get enough of. I'm afraid Book 2 isn't quite as good. I found myself wondering why I should care about any of the characters. Plus it had these really long songs in it from this weird, made-up religion. Could have done without those, as I basically paged through the lyrics. I probably missed something vital, didn't I?

In any case, I will probably still read the third book in the Maddaddam trilogy, which I believe is as yet untitled and scheduled for release in 2013.



This is yet another sequel, this one to John Dies at the End, which I sort of loved. It was just so freaking weird and scary but fun. And somehow, Wong manages to keep that up with Spiders. It's a little Invasion of the Body Snatchers, but stranger. There is a little something lost in that the novelty of Wong's writing style is no longer novel, but I still enjoyed it quite a bit. Incidentally, David Wong is apparently a pseudonym for the author, whose real name is Jason Pargin. According to Wikipedia, he'd had some concerns about the merging of his online and true identities.




Wow. So The Sparrow hooked me when I realized it was set in the future and much of it takes place on another planet. It reminded me quite a bit of Contact in places, but in other ways it is much, much different. The basic plot is that a group of people have been sent to an Earth-like planet, but only one has returned, damaged in both body and spirit. It's a long novel, but a quick read because you're inching ever closer to the answer to the mystery of exactly what happened. I found it extremely imaginative and well-written.

Now, of course this novel is the first in a series, but I think it stands perfectly well on its own if you're not into that. But I will definitely be reading the second book, Children of God.




Erdrich's book has been receiving a lot of notice and awards, and rightly so. I'm thankful to have read many good books this year, and this one is at the top of the list. A lot of times I don't agree with the critics because highly acclaimed novels are so often weighed down in fancy vocabulary and detail. But this is not one of those times. It's extremely well-written and detailed, and just a very, very good read. It's written from the point of view of a 13-year-old Native American boy whose mother is attacked. The story takes place on a reservation in North Dakota in the '80s. The characters are all superbly thought-out and the story is very compelling. This one won't disappoint.

What have you all been reading? I just started A Discovery of Witches on the recommendation of a couple friends, and I'm enjoying it. And yes, it's a series! This is some guilty pleasure stuff. I still haven't finished Let's Pretend This Never Happened, although it is definitely entertaining ... not sure what's keeping me from finishing that. I also started White Jacket Required and have been stalled on finishing that one ... WJR is a book by a food blogger I read -- her recipes are the best. Perhaps the issue with the blogger books is that I kind of already know the story.

Anyway, tell me your recommendations, and friend me on Goodreads if you haven't already!



P.S. If you've liked me on Facebook but don't see my updates, there is a way to make sure you see them all. Just go to my page, hover over the Like button, and choose Get Notifications. This is the only way I'm aware of to ensure you see all the posts you want to see.

Friday, November 30, 2012

yeah no

So it turns out writing a novel in November is pretty much the stupidest idea anyone has ever had.

Probably the person who thought it up was some kind of novel-writing savant. Good for you, smart ass!

I wrote a portion of a novel this month, which was fun. It actually really was fun. Whereas the first novel I wrote was like ... oh, I don't know. Stabbing myself repeatedly? While sobbing? It was so difficult, probably because it was too close to home. Which is cliche, I know. Stupid novice novelists writing fictional books that are really about themselves. Go dig a ditch, ya dumb writers.

It really is stupid. But I had to get it out of the way so I could write about other stuff. Like the future and clones and weird technology and outer space. Because I am a science fiction writer now? Sure.

I don't know anything anymore.

In any case, I wrote a lot of words, but I think probably I only wrote about a sixth of what I ought to write in order for it to be considered a novel. I'm going to keep slogging away at it. Maybe it will just be a novella and I'll throw it up on the interwebs for people to download for like 43 cents. That's pretty affordable, right? I think I would need to sell just over 116,000 copies in order to make 50K. No problem. People really enjoy un-edited stories about the future that were written frantically by a person who has never written science fiction in her life. They really love that shit.


Monday, November 26, 2012

for a change

My, but the dental technology that has been invented in the last ten years. Sure, much of a visit to the dentist still seems to comprise lots of scraping and poking about in the gum area, but there have been advances!

Like the X-ray machine that just zips around your head and takes a picture of all your teeth so you're not clamping plastic squares painfully while a technician rushes to press a button. That was nice. Or the machine that can build you a crown on the spot, like that machine in The Fifth Element that put Leeloo back together after she got blasted out of space by ... space pigs or whatever they were.

Space boars.

It had been many years since I'd last seen a dentist. My previous dentist was fine as a person, and positively terrifying as a doctor. He'd tell me my teeth were terrible and then insist on drilling out cavities without using novocaine, because they were just shallow little cavities. Problem was they were never as shallow as they seemed, and though tears would be streaming out of my eyes, he'd still insist he was almost finished and the shot was unnecessary.

It takes a while to grow up and realize you can stand up for yourself sometimes. Well, it took me a while. I mature slowly.

Anyway, it might seem understandable that I would not ever want to see another dentist for as long as I lived. And that was generally the plan until I guilted myself into it. I do believe the mouth is the gateway to a number of health issues in the body, so figured I'd get mine checked out. Considering the train wreck that is my physical health, I assumed I needed a minimum of two root canals and one tooth would probably have to be pulled. There would likely be at least ten cavities.

So when I met my new dentist today I told him straight away that I was scared to death to be there and knew my mouth was a hot mess so to go easy on me. The man is a hilarious chatterbox who talks about practically everything but teeth. So it was a nice distraction. Everyone was generally impressed with the number of teeth in my mouth and the fact that my mouth has room for all of them (I have all my wisdom teeth). It was generally agreed upon that my teeth still appeared to be straight, thanks to two years of braces in my teens. I am apparently not in an advanced state of tooth decay or gingivitis and all my roots appear healthy. I have two cavities on one wisdom tooth. The hygienist earned her keep scraping away ten years of plaque buildup and polishing my teeth and now I feel like ... someone take a picture! These fuckers ain't gonna get any cleaner than this!

Until six months from now, I suppose. Because I made my next appointment, like a good girl. And I'm feeling very proud of myself for checking this little task off the list, even if it is something most normal humans manage to do on a regular basis.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

step 3

I cleaned the house! Murray (who is a cat) helped get the process started by barfing four times, on multiple surfaces, just as I'd sat down to eat a sandwich for lunch. A helpful beast, that one. I did not clean the aforementioned disgusting oven and grease trap. Will have to fit those in today.

Today is all about organizing my recipes, making lists and schedules of things that need to be prepped and cooked today, and prepped and cooked tomorrow.

There are many, many foods to make. I've got eight dishes for dinner, two appetizers, two desserts, and somewhere in there gravy needs to happen. I am a little stressed about the gravy. 

And, most importantly, I must obtain many bottles of wine at some point today. If there's time at the end of the day, I'll go to cardio kickboxing, but in all likelihood I will end up lying on the floor, covered in food spatter, funneling alcohol into my mouth. Priorities.

I'm sure many of you are in the midst of mad preparation, too. Godspeed! 


Tuesday, November 20, 2012

thanksgiving: step 2

Sometimes when I am having trouble falling asleep, I just remodel my whole house in my imagination and it makes me feel very peaceful. My house needs so much work ... it's pretty much reached a point of ridiculousness. For example, the hole in the ceiling in the hallway, from when the furnace was replaced two years ago.

We operate in fits and starts around here. It goes something like this: 1) Embark on enormous home improvement project. 2) Complete 3/4 of home improvement project. 3) Abandon home improvement project.

All that has very little to do with Thanksgiving prep, except that I'm always a bit ashamed to have people over who've been over before and they're like: So those holes in the walls are still there, huh? Yup. Thankfully we are loved for our endearing personalities and not our house.

Yesterday I completed Step 1 of Thanksgiving prep, which was to go to a couple stores and acquire approximately half a million dollars worth of food. Things I still do not have: wine, ground mace (WTF is that anyway), ammonia (where can I get this?), shampoo & conditioner (why is Yes To Carrots always sold out?), decorative gourds (yes, this is necessary to distract from the holes in the walls), and canola oil. The stores are already packed, dudes. It's only going to get worse. Last year the day before Thanksgiving I had to go to THREE stores just to find cream cheese (why is it always cream cheese?!) because two of them had sold out. I was having a major first-world-problems moment.

Today = Step 2: Cleaning. Oh lordy laws. Dusting and vacuuming and fluffing and mopping and washing and scrubbing and oh man I hate cleaning. Things I have recently realized need to be cleaned: The disgusting grease trap over the stove vent. Oh god. It is bad, dudes. Also: The kitchen cupboard doors. I need Mandy to come Windex those bitches for me. And I guess I should take the cooler out of the bathtub. And perhaps the living room curtains should go in the wash, since they look like they're growing their own pubic hair (THANK YOU CATS).

The oven needs to be cleaned in the very worst way you can imagine (last thing I baked: a smoked pizza. Smoked from the crud on the bottom of the oven that caught on fire), but I just realized it's not a self-cleaning oven (yes I have lived in this house for four years) and I will need to clean it with my hands. Which: WTF. I now understand why "self-cleaning oven!" is always listed in the specs for homes that are for sale. That always seemed so silly to me, but if you could see my oven now ... you would understand. It looks like 42 roast beefs exploded in it.

In any case, cleaning is my fate today. Time to embark on this ill-fated adventure.

Monday, November 19, 2012

unwashed masses

It's time to play a little game I'm going to call: "How many times will I need to go to the store before Thanksgiving because I forgot something?"

I've got a list as long as my arm and I'm heading to the grocery store today for all of my Thanksgiving accoutrements. The meal has been planned carefully, and my list has been quadruple-checked. Still, it never fails that I will miss something. And I will probably not realize it until I'm elbows-deep in some recipe, and will then need to run to Safeway at 1 a.m. for cream cheese and some greasy teenager will sidle up to me in the parking lot and ask to use my cell phone and I'll be like I WILL KILL YOU. This happened recently, is why I'm saying that.

The plan is always: Make The Holidays My Bitch, but mostly what ends up happening is I become the holidays' bitch. It's inevitable. Perhaps I should embrace it and just run, laughing maniacally through the malls. I could wear fair isle sweaters and tell strangers to have a wonderful Christmas. If I weren't a hermit who hates everyone. "You hate everyone. That's kind of your thing," my husband says, fondly. He is, of course, my polar opposite. Loves everyone. I just say, "Yes. It kind of is my thing." Mainly I just hate strangers who get in my way while I'm looking for canned pumpkin and bags of cranberries, and I really hate the cashier who shouts at me DID YOU FIND EVERYTHING YOU'RE LOOKING FOR even though I should probably have more patience with her because she might have some kind of mental disorder that causes her to act like an asshole and shout at people.

I knew this girl who was very zen and said to me she assumed that everyone who was driving erratically was desperately trying to get to the hospital. That was very generous of her. Because the fact is most people are driving like dicks because they're dicks. Which has nothing to do with the asshole cashier.

This is really just procrastination at this point. I've got to go out there soon. There's a turkey with my name on it behind the butcher counter. GO FORTH AND PROSPER. Make Thanksgiving your bitch, my friends. 






Friday, November 16, 2012

confessions

I appreciate when the internet comes up with my posts for me and I just have to fill in the blanks. Thank you Sarah for the idea!





1. Today I ruined a manicure (that I paid for)15 minutes after it was finished because I just NEEDED to break into a bag of chocolates.

2. I am terrible at keeping house. The worst. It's just that every time I spend more than 20 minutes on any household task, I start to get really pissed off because I keep thinking about all the awesome things I could be doing instead. Like watching a Real Housewives marathon. 

3. I haven't been to the dentist in, like, 10 years. I know, dudes. I know. I have an appointment about a week from now, at which I fully expect to hyperventilate while being told I have 64 cavities and need 14 root canals. 

4. I never ever ever ever ever ever ever ever wash my car. Ever. (I realize I am beginning to sound like a truly disgusting human being)

5. I think physical newspapers should freakin' die already. I know. I am a hypocrite, because I was a reporter for several newspapers. But facts is facts, man. The only people who would miss the real newspaper are hella old people.

6. I haven't cut my hair in god knows how long and now I look like a witch. I think it's maybe been two years. I don't even know who I am any more.

7. I believe I was about 100 percent funnier and smarter ten years ago than I am today. Now I am old and boring. 

8. I CANNOT STAND IT when people back into their parking spaces. It makes me inexplicably ragey. 

9. If I could get married all over again and do it exactly the way I wanted it, I'd elope. 

10. I am extremely judgmental. It's a problem. That said, I will rarely let on to someone that I am judging the hell out of them. Being two-faced: I haz it!

Ok, that's it! Feel free to hop on the bandwagon and fill out your own confessions ...

Thursday, November 15, 2012

trust no one

Any old The X-files fans out there? Oh, man. I was really into that show.

Anyway.

A little story for you today.

There was this woman who used to sit outside the Target I go to. She'd be there all day, every day, collecting money for a shelter for battered women. She was there for years. She made friends with tons of the customers. I'd see people chatting with her, hugging her, and of course giving her money.

Last night one of our local news stations ran a story about her because it turns out she is an enormous fraud. She and some guy named Willie have been pocketing the cash. Which explains the BMW she drives. 

I have an inherent distrust of anyone soliciting for a charity I've never heard of, so I've never given this woman money. But I always felt guilty walking out of the store and shaking my head "no" at her. She would tell me to have a good day, and I'd wonder briefly about her role at the purported battered women's shelter.

Now I feel vindicated, of course.

During a discussion about this on Facebook, one friend mentioned that she has to jump through tons of hoops with stores for get permission to sell Girl Scout cookies or solicit for the Salvation Army. If the store doesn't allow it, then they are technically not allowed to solicit there. The problem is the stores are unable to prevent solicitors who don't jump through the hoops. Anyone can set up camp outside a store entrance, claiming to be legitimate, and there's nothing to be done about it. In San Jose, the police don't have the staff to show up for these kinds of calls, so it goes unchecked.

So this is just a little tale for you and I to remember next time someone outside a store asks us for money. Unless it's for an organization you know is legitimate, it's possible it's a scam. Let's not be falsely guilted into giving money to these jackholes anymore.



Tuesday, November 13, 2012

oh brother

Whose brilliant idea was it to make November the month we would all sit down and write a novel? It's just like the worst month ever to write a novel.

Well, second worst. December would be worse.

Anyway, I estimate I have completed 12% of the novel. This is a very scientific calculation. Don't ask me how I came up with it. Ahem.

In any case, I should be 40% done by now, if the aim is to actually write a novel in 30 days. Which it is. I've been a very, very bad novelist.

And now, back to noveling. Toodles.

Friday, November 09, 2012

quit it

Oh, dudes, there are some ignorant people out there.

And there are also people who need so, so much attention.

And then there are ignorant people who need a lot of attention. And they are the friggin worst, you guys. And you know what makes these people like five quadrillion times more problematic than they already are as their own friggin ignorant-ass attention-needing selves?

The friggin internet.

Twitter, specifically, is Ground Zero for stupid-ass ignorant mo-fos who won't shut the hell up. Followed closely by Facebook.

And oh lordy, how we enjoy railing against these demented bastards. Except by "we" I mean tons of people other than me. I'mma tell you about that in a sec.

Here's the deal. There are certain aggravating people, with aggravating-ass personalities, always spouting their ignorant-ass opinions to whoever will listen. I'm convinced a lot of these idiots don't even believe the stuff they're writing; they're just writing it to get a rise out of people. And it works! We give them the exact thing they want: attention.

I'm gonna draw a comparison for you.

Have you ever heard of or seen that TV show called Bait Car? Cops outfit the things with audio, video, and GPS trackers, then wait for some idiot to steal it so they can arrest him. Which is just about the stupidest thing I've ever heard of.

That show is hella popular among a certain crowd: ignorant-ass mofos who need a lot of attention. They watch it and familiarize themselves with what bait cars look like and then they go out and steal one and get arrested just so they can be on TV.

Here's another comparison: those idiot chicks who go on Maury Povich and line up five different dudes for DNA testing because any one of them could be the father of her child, and then it turns out none of them are the father because chica boinked like 17 other guys, too. Dudes. You can buy DNA kits at the drug store. Or frickin Amazon. These people just want to be on TV, even though it's for the completely wrong reason. They need the attention.

Here's what I'm getting at. These ignorant internet trolls, some of whom are verrry wealthy and famous, need to go bye-bye. But that will never happen if we keep giving them the attention they so urgently need. Why should we justify their ignorance with a response? We should not. The only way to win against stupidity is to shun the hell out of it. That's my opinion, anyway. I don't follow those idiots on Twitter, I certainly don't respond to them, I completely ignore any references to them on the Internet, and it makes me ragey when I see them mentioned on TV, particularly when they have no legitimate reason to be involved in certain discussions.

I have to be vague about this because I refuse to mention certain people's names or even hint at what they might be involved in. This blog alone gives those blockheads WAY more attention than they deserve, but I had to write it to tell people to please stop giving the imbeciles attention. You're just stoking the fire.

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

when you eat

The election is over, and praise be. My phone is silent and the wasteful fliers I was receiving in the mail (and dumping into the recycle bin without a second glance) have ceased. I trust the nasty commercials are through as well.

It doesn't matter how I voted or what I think of most of what happened last night. Politics are extremely divisive and people on both sides behave very badly. Neither side is able to understand their opponents' views and neither wants to try. Facebook becomes a battleground. Uncomfortable discussions occur around the dinner table at family gatherings. It's over, and I don't want to talk about it any more.

Except for one thing.

In California we had a proposition on the ballot that would have required genetically modified foods to be labeled as such. I supported this, despite claims from opponents' scientists that there's no proof GMOs do us harm. I tend not to trust American regulatory agencies because they've proven in the past they're not looking out for us (consider BPA and certain pesticides, off the top of my head). They're always about 20 steps behind other countries in enacting safety measures for the American public because they're in Big Industry's back pocket.

Take a look at this Q&A from the World Health Organization site, if you're wondering whether or not you should care about GMOs in your food. It's not exactly reassuring. It shows that Europe heavily regulates the use of GMOs and in some cases bans them. As far as health implications, they admit further study is needed.

My opinion is we don't yet know if GMOs are harmful, and we won't know for some time. Personally, I'd like the option of removing them from my diet.

The proposition failed, likely thanks to dollars poured into the campaign against it by the likes of Monsanto and Hershey. Oh, yes. All those delightful miniature candy bars left over from Halloween are comprised of GM ingredients. And Monsanto ... well, if you've read The Omnivore's Dilemma or seen the documentary Food, Inc., you're aware of what they're up to. Put succinctly, they're not in business for your health; it's the money, baby.

They don't want to be forced to label the foods that include GMOs, and it has nothing to do with the cost of labeling. It's because if they labeled them, we'd discover nearly everything we eat contains genetically modified ingredients. And then people might really freak out.

Anyway, Monsanto and Big Business win again, but maybe we'll go to battle again another day. In the meantime, let's talk about how to avoid eating GMOs. Here are a few tips.

- Corn is the single most genetically modified crop out there, and corn is in everything. I'll refer you back to The Omnivore's Dilemma for more information. So basically, a huge amount of processed food has GM corn in it, and one study has shown rats that eat this stuff grow tumors (although some say the study was flawed). Best to avoid processed foods altogether, unless it's labeled non-GMO. Same goes for conventional meat and dairy, since the animals are fed GM corn. Buy beef that's 100% grass-fed or pasture-fed, and other meat and dairy labeled 100% organic.

- All organic fruits and vegetables are non-GMO. Fruits and veggies are also often labeled with a PLU number. If it's a four-digit number, it's conventionally produced. If it's a five-digit number beginning with an 8, it's genetically modified. If it's a five-digit number beginning with a 9, it's organic.

- Most canola, cotton, and soy are GM. Look for non-GMO labels. Personally, I think everyone should avoid soy if only because it's an estrogen-mimicker. There are already plenty of hormones floating around in our food and drinking water; no need to introduce more.

- Rice, pasta, and beans are believed to be safe. (although there is thought to be some GM rice out there)

- Most foods labeled as organic are believed to be safe, but there's no guarantee in the U.S. It will be labeled "100% organic" if it's GMO-free.

- Aspartame contains GMOs. So your diet sodas and sugar-free gum ...

- Realize that even if you are shopping at Whole Foods or other natural/healthy stores, they still sell products containing GMOs.


So, look. It's virtually impossible to avoid eating foods that contain genetically modified ingredients. I certainly eat them all the time. You'd have to quit eating out altogether and buy almost no packaged goods. But at least if we know which foods are GM, we can try to avoid them when possible.

And maybe in the meantime we can work on getting a similar proposition on the next ballot. And next time, let's win.

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

civic duty

This morning I walked half a mile to our polling place to drop off my husband's mail-in ballot (we rarely mail them in although I managed to mail mine this year). It was at an elementary school and kids were running around, eyeballing me like "Whose mom is that?" I blame these awful mom jeans I'm always wearing. Plus my big mom hips. I'm always tempted to yell something inappropriate at groups of kids. Like: I'm your worst nightmare! 

I didn't, though.

It was a very quiet polling location, no lines. Just a few elderly people standing in the voting booths. A woman took my envelope and gave me FOUR stickers. So I basically win at voting today.

Then I yelled at her: I'm your worst nightmare! And then ran out of there.

Just kidding. I graciously thanked her and walked back home, where I sat down to a bowl of cereal and spread out my stickers so I could fully admire them.


Monday, November 05, 2012

brain

A woman who's been dead for more than 20 years once taught myself and my fellow elementary schoolers a number of songs we will never have a single use for other than to become lodged in our brains every now and then, preventing anything useful from happening until said song can be dislodged with, say, The Macarena or My Sharona. (feel free to add to the list of music that gets stuck in your head, whether good or bad)

Which is to say I have had Crawdad Song stuck in my head for two days and it doesn't seem to be leaving any time soon. Why were there so many songs about people going fishing in the old days? Anyway, do you know this song? It's something like: You get a line and I'll get a pole, honey. You get a line and I'll get a pole, babe. You get a line and I'll get a pole and we'll go fishing in the crawdad hole ...

As I was chewing my toast this morning I wondered if this song might be a little dirty, with all its talk of poles and holes. Dirty, dirty southern old-timers. And all us kids sitting on the cold tile floor of the cafeteria, following along to lyrics about Clementines falling into brines and chewing gums losing their flavor. I wonder if the alternate meanings of these songs ever occurred to Mrs. Henry.

This is all really just a distraction, because I have no plot for my novel. I'm making it up as I go. Which is how life kind of is, I guess. Sometimes we err, sometimes we succeed. Sometimes Crawdad Song gets stuck in our heads for two days and nothing productive happens.

Friday, November 02, 2012

unoriginal bastard

So I'm writing my new book for NaNoWriMo, when I suddenly have a realization.

This book has already been written.

It is called Fahrenheit 451.

That could be a problem.

Thankfully I'm not so far into it that this is a problem, but obviously my plot is going to need some tweaking.

It's quite all right, really. I've already replaced books with another object of mystery. It's a little cliche, but I'm still finding that having an original idea is damn hard. I'm not sure such things exist any more.

So far I'm finding the writing of this novel easier than my first novel. Obviously the experience of having written one probably helps, but I think it also helps to have less of a vested interest. I'm not overly concerned with character names or the plot. I've already killed two people. The object seems to be just to finish the book. Whether it is horrendous or not is of little consequence.

Thursday, November 01, 2012

out there

After a little thought (not much) I decided to go with science fiction for NaNoWriMo. I love reading it and I'm obsessed with apocalyptic books and movies so why not just write my own?

The only issue is coming up with a story that hasn't been told yet. When it comes to futuristic stuff, it's pretty much all been done. And mine does, of course, have to include healthy doses of LOOK WHAT THINE NEGLIGENCE HATH WROUGHT ON THE ENVIRONMENT, like many futuristic/apocalyptic books do. But it's so true. Yello, Hurricane Sandy anyone? Although seriously dudes, it's irritating that we needed to have a hurricane before people were like, Oh yeah, global warming! I totes forgot that was a thing!

It's a thing, dudes. It's a real thing.

Anyway, I'm writing this new book, and whatever. It's gonna be very weird and out of my element and probably super-cliche and wrong, but that's all ok. I'm enjoying it and thinking creatively, so it's a good thing.

So tell me: What would you include in a book set in the future? I am totally going to steal your good ideas.


Wednesday, October 31, 2012

NaNoWriMo Eve

As my novel is currently being edited by professionals (professional winos), I'm considering starting a new one in November.

Which is tomorrow.

It'd be part of the madness that is National Novel Writing Month. It's 30 days of frantic writing, during which you are supposed to start and finish an entire novel. Which is reeeeeaaaally hilarious, considering the snail's pace at which I normally operate. Although there's one girl who self-publishes what I believe is considered paranormal romance? And she can write a novel in 48 hours? And she's a millionaire. I dunno guys. I just don't know anymore.

Anyway, I figure why not. Sure, write a novel in 30 days! It'll be a best-seller, fo sho.

Now I just need to figure out what in tarnation the book will be about. I considered a sequel to the novel I've already finished, but for reasons pertaining to the need for me to retain my last shred of sanity, that's out. I've thought about science fiction, seeing as how I've been reading and loving tons of that lately. We'll see. What I ought to write is the dirty version of The Hunger Games, like EL James did with Twilight. She's a gajillionaire now. Katniss as a dominatrix? Done and done.

Have you ever participated in NaNoWriMo? What would you write a novel about?

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

why i am going to stop eating halloween candy right now

1. If I keep eating it, we will need to buy more. Again.

2. I have successfully tried all of the Halloween candy. It will always taste the same as it did the first time, and definitely never better than it did the first time.

3. Cardio-kickboxing will all be for naught. Unacceptable.

4. Next week's weigh-in. Ugh.

5. Think of the children!

6. Thighs and double-chin -- my two most hated body parts. Candy's best friend.

7. Sugar is poison and it's gonna give me the 'betis. Read this vaguely-related article. Fascinating!

8. There aren't enough Weight Watchers points for all the chocolate my mouth thinks it wants.

9. I am angry with myself in the after-math of a candy binge.

10. So I will fit into clothing I ordered online recently.

11. Halloween is just the harbinger of the holidays. There will be many more food battles to be fought; best not to lose the war early on.

12. Various parties/gatherings I'd rather not wear my fat pants to.

13. Candy isn't even that good. Save calories for something really delicious and homemade.

How's your battle with Halloween candy going? How do you keep yourself from gorging on it?

Monday, October 29, 2012

everyone's doing it

Without exception, members of my family enjoy embarking on "projects." I don't know ... I think we are frustrated artists. We're not math-minded in the least. We're always dreaming up new schemes, new careers, new activities. I'd list some of our failed attempts, but that would be embarrassing for all of us.

In any case, here's the latest family member and her project -- my sister, Sarah, has started a blog about learning to sew on our grandma's 60-year-old sewing machine. The scheme is to eventually sell stuff on Etsy. It could totally work. Example: Last year I was looking for a super-cute apron with birds on it, and all of the aprons on Etsy sucked. Sarah could TOTALLY make cute aprons and be a millionaire! Or at least a hundred-aire.

So, check her out if you'd like to see her very first sewing projects. No, pressure, Sarah! Also, Sarah: More Ava pics! Heh ...





Thursday, October 25, 2012

books

A few decent reads ...


The Leftovers is a non-religious look at what sort of havoc a Rapture-type event would wreak on society. I found it interesting, if a little unsatisfying. And one thing that bugged me throughout the novel -- the author never says whether, when people disappeared, if the clothes they were wearing did, too. Not a huge thing, but it bugged me. Maybe I missed it? If you've read it, let me know.



Wool is a very short read that I downloaded for free. It's still free on Amazon if you're interested. It's a post-apocalyptic story (I'm a real sucker for those, aren't I?) about a society living underground after presumably destroying the Earth. I found myself really wanting more from it when I was finished, and it seems his other readers did to; he ended up writing four more books. They're available as a package deal for $6 from Amazon or $14 in paperback.


Ready Player One is my favorite of these three reads. I initially hesitated to read it because virtually the entire thing takes place in an alternate online universe, and there's a lot of talk about video games, which I'm not into. But it turned out to be really entertaining. There's a lot of humor and suspense and it's written very conversationally. What really struck me about the novel, though, was that it was set in the future (I think about 50 or 75 years from now?) and some of Cline's visions of what could be are downright eerie. He talks about stuff that could definitely happen.

Right now I'm reading Let's Pretend This Never Happened and This Book Is Full of Spiders: Seriously, Dude, Don’t Touch It (John Dies at the End #2). Stuff I tried to start reading but couldn't get going: Shine Shine Shine (someone tell me why I should keep reading this. It's getting rave reviews); Amor Towles' Rules of Civility; Where'd You Go, Bernadette; The Next Best Thing; and Come and Find Me: A Novel. Am I crazy? Should I have read some of those? 

 

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

infested



That is a photo I took of a black widow spider in my yard. I apologize if you feel like there are bugs crawling all over you for the rest of the day.

The red hourglass on the abdomen gives it away. Their bodies are black and shiny. They're basically enormously horrifying. A long time ago I read a Nancy Drew book that had black widows in it and have been terrified of them ever since. Perhaps rightly so. A bite probably won't kill you, but could result in temporary paralysis if you're not treated right away. It can kill pets, kids, the elderly, and people with compromised immune systems.

Unfortunately, this is just one of several black widows we have found and killed. None have come in the house, thankfully. We used to have the exterior sprayed for bugs but I had that stopped about a year ago when I became paranoid about the chemicals. Problem is all our neighbors spray for bugs, and I have a feeling the bugs are flocking to our yard. Blergh.

I posted this photo on Facebook about a week ago and the general consensus was OH MY GOD KILL IT WITH FIRE AND NUKES AND SPRAY FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE. I tend to agree, although I still haven't re-hired our old pest control company. I plan to ask the orange oil company if their spray will keep these beasties away. Other plans are to tidy up the garage and perhaps leave the porch light off at night -- spider meals like to fly around the light, so it makes sense that spiders would camp out in wait.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

grown ass woman

I turned 34 last week, and I don't have anything profound to say about it.


 

I'm a woman well into adulthood who has yet to figure out how to keep a tidy house; what hairstyle looks best on her head; which jeans flatter her figure; how to pretend to be normal; what she wants to be when she grows up; and what both the immediate and distant futures hold for her.

Speaking in the third person -- it's not for novices!

It's normal for me to take an inventory of my failures and unmet goals around my birthdays. This year wasn't as self-flagellating and miserable as certain previous years, although there was that visit to the doctor who asked pointedly: Is there a history of anxiety in your family? (Most things like that are family secrets; information that never trickles down to me. No, doctor! Actually, my family invented rainbows and kittens.)

Truly, this year was OK. I feel I am moving, albeit exceedingly slowly, in the right direction on many fronts.

Slowness is something I am still trying to accept about myself. Most things don't come naturally to me; most tasks are more difficult than I'd expected; I'm not the multi-tasking wizard I once claimed to be on my resume. My most redeeming trait has always been my quiet and generally easy-going nature, which is often mistaken for shyness or calm. It's what's gotten me jobs and friends; there's no danger of my personality overshadowing yours.

No, it was just fine, my birthday. I only thought a little bit about my most pressing problem, that one unmet goal that's always buzzing annoyingly around my head. Most of my friends have stopped asking because it's too painful after two miscarriages.

Everything isn't crap, it's just my human nature to focus on it. I've had 34 adventurous years I wouldn't live differently, even though I did many, many things wrong. I have love, kittens, family, friends, a home, a book, wine ... I've finally managed to start doing a few things right for a change, and good things are going to happen.
 


Monday, October 22, 2012

oh, hello

It's not that there's been nothing to write about, but I've had a serious case of the why bothers.

I believe I'm almost cured.

Anyway, I just returned from vacation in the Northeast and have decided I hate San Jose and want to live back east where stuff has history and character and it feels like America. Where I live feels like some second-world never-ending strip mall, and the weather's all wrong. (This is temporary insanity, I suspect. Normally I enjoy these temperate climes, particularly when it's snowing in other states. I hate snow.)

Here's a funny thing: Much of the east is so nice, and yet Florida is a hell-hole. Yo no comprendo.

There are many things to talk about, since I've been such a neglectful blogger. I won't attempt to catch up today, but will try to blog a bit every day for the rest of the year.

I'll leave you with a few vacation pictures.

 Fall color on the drive to Brattleboro, VT


 Church door, Brattleboro


 Such a cute idea. Jackson, NH


 On the walk to Sabbaday Falls, Kancamagus Trail, NH


Granary Burying Ground, Boston. Puts me in the mood for Halloween.




Tuesday, October 02, 2012

new shows

What's worth watching: 
Ben & Kate
Last Resort 

What's not:
666 Park Avenue
The New Normal
Vegas

What's still on the cusp:
Go On
Revolution
The Mindy Project

What I know nothing about:
Guys With Kids
Elementary


What'd I miss?

Monday, October 01, 2012

distracted

I'm not good at focusing on many things at once. I'm good at being in the zone on one thing. You know?

Which is how I'm explaining why I suck as a blogger for the last several weeks.



I just have things on my mind. Nothing particularly interesting. I swear.




If something interesting happened, I would tell you. As is my wont.




I think it's partially blogger's block. Because I can still write, I just can't blog.


 



It's a problem.

I promise to work on it.

Monday, September 24, 2012

funk

I haven't been feeling great.

(not pregnant)

It's too annoying to talk about. Basically a recurrence of some old symptoms



They began acting up after my kickboxing classes, and now they don't want to go away.




It's depressing.





I just want to feel normal.



But I don't. 




So I've been avoiding talking about it.



So I can pretend I feel normal.


But I don't.

Monday, September 17, 2012

weekend etc

 Last night Simon hissed at my brother-in-law. He's normally mild-mannered and I've never seen him hiss at or scratch a person on purpose, until yesterday. He's on probation now. 


 I made these turkey meatballs in the crock pot last week. I liked them although my husband says they were in need of salt. His other main problem with them is that they're not beef. But I'm like: I'm trying to keep you alive longer. 


 I also made banana bread, and threw in a cup of chocolate chips on a whim. Definitely an upgrade from regular banana bread. 


 I made these triple-threat chocolate cupcakes for our block party Saturday but only like a third of them got eaten. They may become trashcakes soon, otherwise they're gonna be buttcakes. 


 Simon in the sink. He does look a little unpredictable. heh.


It's been a nice change, rooting for a winning team, wouldn't you say Ava?


Wednesday, September 12, 2012

pics & thoughts

I started watching Six Feet Under. It ran from 2001-2005 so I'm only a decade or so late to this party.

If you've never seen it, it's brilliant. I'm only in the second season (so no spoilers, please) but what I've seen so far is poignant and funny and full of excellent dialogue. I find myself wanting to write down quotes from every episode.

My favorite characters are the women, although all of the actors are stellar. I particularly enjoy Brenda's totally jacked-up mother. And Claire and Ruth, of course.

In an episode I watched last night, Ruth tells Claire (I'm paraphrasing): You seem to be under the mistaken impression that life owes you something. You are in for a rude surprise, my dear.

God, it's so true. I think my own parents probably told me this a time or two. If they did, they were right.

Interestingly, we do not get everything we want just because we want it. It turns out almost every single thing we want to achieve/receive/accomplish requires really hard work. And sometimes, even when you work really hard at something, you don't get what you want. Like the song says. Except you get to choose whether or not to be philosophical about it and decide whether, if you're not getting what you want, you're still getting what you need.

Enough of that, though.

I was thinking yesterday -- summer is almost over, and where did it go? What did I do? Did I waste it? And then today I decided to do an iphone dump and pull more than 500 photos off my phone, and I realized summer was actually kind of sweet.

 

 




 


 


 


 


 
 


 


 





 


 

Lots of cat shenanigans, a few unique outings, the Olympics, lots of food (and a couple of ill-advised diets, as usual), some writing help from a friend, and babies. Maybe life does give you what you need.