random quarter

August 28, 2013

i snagged this shot (diego velasquez' arachne) here.

one. i have discovered that pinot grigio's not such a bad thing. and my lovely pappadeaux's barstaff probably like me a little bit better for ordering a glass of that rather than the martini--it costs a little more and is easier to fix. and one glass works wonders. everybody's happy.

two. i am not so eager to watch aggie football this season. mr. manziel and mr. miller... i'm kind of ashamed of yall. no. not kind of. i am. you're making my boys look bad. you're making people think bad things about the fine institution that is texas a&m university. i am unthrilled.

three. i have read twenty-seven new books this year. my friend swissy has given me several to peruse. i checked out a bunch at the library last night. i kind of figured reading a hundred books wouldn't be that hard, given that i read so much. but i'm struggling to find titles that interest me. suggestions are supremely welcome.

four. i didn't see man of steel. but apparently one of my little brother's friends was an extra in it or something. and one of my friend's posted a trailer to the sequel on her facebook page, and so now i'm kind of curious. should i bother?

five. i can never remember, when i go to buy more pens, if i like the five-tenths or the seventh-tenths. i bought a batch of the fives the other day. i do not like them.

six. sometimes being single really, really sucks. i should be used to this by now. but every now and then, it kinda knocks me on my ass. it did this last night. and the older i get, more effort's required to right myself or whatever.

seven. i really wanna go back to london. like. now.

eight. some chick just asked her server for a side of simple syrup. i'm a little awed by some of these customer requests.

nine. i'm irritated. i hadn't renewed my membership on the stupid dating website, because really, i'm never that impressed with it. but i got four emails in matter of days (and i never really get that much notice on there... i'm forty, and i don't live in houston proper), and so, against my friends' advice, i stupidly forked over the funds to see who these dudes were. and they're just like all the other dudes on there. i am such a goddamned romantic sucker. ugh. so gullible. so stupid. so when it expires, i am definitely disappearing from that corner of the world. and to my friends who counseled against it, no saying i told you so. i'm already saying that to myself.

ten. one of the bussers thinks a prius is a sports car. i weep for the next generation.

eleven. there's baseball on every television screen. yay. usually, i look to the screen when i'm in need of distraction. at least it's red sox. that makes it a little better.

twelve. i'm very, very tired of working retail. i'm very, very tired of not being able to polish off these last few scenes. i'm very, very, VERY tired of being tired of this crap. so if you're the praying sort, i need some inspiration, some luck and some faith.

thirteen. i don't like beer.

fourteen. the last time i got a sinus infection, i toughed it out without going to the doctor, and for the first time in more than a decade, that actually worked. in the past, thanks to smoking, sinus infections always turned into bronchitis. and i'd wait a couple of weeks, and it wouldn't get better so i'd finally go and get my shots and my drugs, and in a week or so, i'd feel better. but this time (mostly because i didn't feel like paying eighty bucks for a shot and some drugs), i didn't go. (this was a couple months ago, wen i complained of sounding like the aflac duck.) and you know, what? i got better. it was actually kind of cool.

fifteen. i've never smoked pot. once upon a time there were a ton of things i'd said i would never do. this was one of them. but of course, i got older and weaker, and the list of things i swore i would never do has gotten to be quite short. but that one's still on there.

sixteen. i've had more adult beverages in this year than i've had in my life. this could be why i weigh more now than i've ever weighed in my life.

seventeen. i've never been to a casino, either. but this isn't on the short list of never-dos.

eighteen. there's some movie coming out where sandra bullock's adrift in outerspace. i marvel at the things hollywood comes up with nowadays. whatever happened to a good, old fashioned love story?

nineteen. so. greek mythology. one of the shuckers suggested i talk about that. and i do love it. one of my favorite myths is about arachne, a proud and vain woman who boasted that she could weave better than athena, who overheard her bragging and challenged her to a duel of sorts. each were to weave a tapestry to see who was better. arachne wove one that depicted all the horrible things the gods had done. athena's showed all of the good things. athena won. she turned arachne into a spider. still capable of weaving, but nothing with any permanence. the shucker could only name three of the twelve gods and goddesses: zeus, poseidon, hades, apollo, ares, hephaestus, hera, athena, aphrodite, artemis and demeter. normally i could rattle all of them off without having to google it, but i couldn't remember if hermes was the sixth of the male gods or if it was dionysus (some would say he was more important than hermes. i would agree, but then, communication should trump inebriation, i guess.), and i'd neglected to include demeter. which is odd to me, because i also like the story about how hades took persephone as his wife and how demeter coped with her daughter's absence.

twenty. i'm usually pretty vigilant about checking the ingredients of things like lotions and conditioners. and detanglers. but today, i was in a hurry to get ready for work and borrowed the detangler my mom bought for the twinkies when we have them over. and got a rash on my face and neck because of it. also my left eye's been irritated with me all day. all because i didn't want to yank half my hair out brushing it after my shower.

twenty-one. i kind of like bowties. but maybe this is because i spend too much time at pappadeaux's.

twenty-two. i get really tired of eating at the same restaurants. and it's not like this area is without a selection. but i'm almost always going for sandwiches, seafood, salads or pasta.

twenty-three. i kind of want to give up my cell phone. but then, the moment i kill the service is the moment i'd start to really need it, i guess.

twenty-four. i haven't felt determined to do anything in months, which could be why i'm barely a fourth of the way toward accomplishing my reading goal and fourteen pages away from accomplishing my writing goal and why my life is, for the most part, in an utter state of chaos. i know better. i do.

twenty-five. all i had to eat today was a bowl of corn pops, some strawberries, some bread and a dinner salad. breakfast and dinner. i was doing really good about eating more regularly throughout the day. and i know better than to do this, too.

dr. bird's advice for sad poets

August 26, 2013

why i wanted to read it: i'd gone to the library to pick up some books, and i caught a glimpse of it as i was hunting for those i'd originally sought. the title caught my attention.

what i liked: every day i miss my sister, expelled from home and school with just a few months left. no prom, no graduation, no celebration, no gifts. a metaphorical footprint on her ass after years of literal bruises on her body put there by my mother, the banshee, and my father, the brute (p. 4).

whatever the case, the girl who didn't look my way when the grill of a bus ruined my week is now shamelessly watching me calculate force with a dull pencil (p. 12).

she drilled a hole in the side of her jewelry box that allowed her to shake out two earrings. she wore them regardless of whether they matched or not (p. 18).

but what would my week be without a massive cloud of worry? it would be like a different week. and my weeks just aren't different (p. 40).

i'd like to celebrate sarasallysomething and assume she's just living the life she wants to live, but something tells me doing coke at a high school party is not what she dreamt of when she was little (p. 52).

when my alarm goes off in the morning, i have no energy to celebrate myself or hug trees or even look any birds in the eye (p. 73).

"we should get the check," i suggest, because i can't listen to someone else tell me how my life would be different if it were different (p. 194).

"are you aware that your real self is this anxiety-ridden, bursting, twisting, unhappy, buzzing, hate-filled, meandering, overtired sleepless boy?"

i say i'm not sure who i am.

"then would drugs really make a difference? would the drugs be any worse?"

"i don't want to be artificial."

"you want to be nonfunctional?"

"i would rather malfunction than sit and stare at a wall like an unplugged coffeepot" (p. 202).

but fuck you, whitman, because my sister defiled her body with little cuts while trying to find the joy that you so easily see in spears of grass. how come that couldn't save her? how come trees can't save me? how come we didn't see bright joy in the world, or in ourselves? (p. 214).

i recall derek's rule number one of teenage happiness: less detail makes for an easier lie. right now all these details signal a very difficult, unhappy lie. but what's the lie? and why was it created? (p. 254).

what sucked: i tabbed a lot of pages that had sentences that piqued my interest at the time. but when i looked back on them i didn't like them quite as much. i liked the characters, but i couldn't love them. i liked the story--it's got good amounts of conflict and it plays out well enough. i cared about the story and its characters like i care for a good acquaintance. i did not love it.

having said all that: it's an interesting read. and better than most of the tales i've read this year.

life is good

August 19, 2013

today, i'd like to introduce to you a fellow blogger named tina, and she's been a loyal picky reader for a very long time. what i love best about her is she gives some great insight, some wonderful perspective. she writes some pretty nifty stuff...

Maybe you've been wondering about that badge in the sidebar with the sunflower and the flamingo and thinking, “Who is that?” Hi! It's me! Tina @ Life is Good. I thought I'd introduce myself and entice (Force? Bribe?) you to come visit me. I'll tell you a little about myself, and include links to some posts that will continue to tell my story.

I'm a writer who's been blogging since 2009. I'm also a wife, mother, sister, daughter, friend, Bruce Springsteen fan, word AND math nerd, former math and English teacher, former office manager/HR department head, currently a stay-at-home mom working on my first novel. It's a sci-fi/thriller.

I am also one of the co-hosts of the worldwide April Blogging from A-Z Challenge and help run the blog we share year round. It's a blast, and I've met so many great people. I encourage you to check it out and consider joining us. You've got plenty of time to plan...

I was born in Sweden to an American mom and a Swedish dad. We lived there until I was nine when we moved to Silver Spring, MD. In April of 2012 I wrote my A-Z Challenge posts about my childhood in Sweden and taught a word of Swedish a day. For this April's Challenge I wrote posts about my first year as an immigrant to America. All of those have corny and embarrassing pictures of me as a child. Enjoy.

I married my high school sweetheart after dating nine years. He's The Engineer, and is a mad inventor (see The Engineer Grows Food: Aquaponics). I've got two boys, 13 and 16. The oldest I call The Transporter because he has his permit and drives me everywhere. He's into video games and programming and living in his room, making occasional appearances for food. The youngest is OYT (for Our Youngest Teen, which I think is a boring nickname, but he picked it). He's into RC cars, video games like Minecraft. They started as 11th and 8th graders on Friday.

I keep busy year-round because we are The House where all the friends gather. We've been here 13 years, and most of the boys who lived here when we moved in--a total of 7--still live here. Now that The Transporter has friends who drive, lots of non-neighbors come too. I love it. I know who my kids' friends are and what everyone is doing. I do buy a lot of groceries, but it's worth it. The kids actually clean up after themselves, and when they order pizza (on their own dime) during a marathon gaming session, I usually get a piece.

The other thing you should know about me is that I'm a total klutz, completely accident prone and, as OYT likes to say, a medical apocalypse. So WHEN you come visit, you could start with my “about me” tab which has some revealing info, and then just go at my search box with “medical” or “accident” or “embarrassing” and you'll be entertained (at my expense) for hours...

Thanks jenn for letting me hog your blog today!


that gal's a tough cookie. get to know her, yall. you'll be glad you did.

this is what happy looks like

August 15, 2013

why i wanted to read it: i went to the library to get a couple of books (because i don't already have a lengthy to-read list): forman's if i stay and jennifer smith's the statistical probability of love at first sight. i found the first with little trouble, but the second title was hiding and would not be found. i spotted this one and snatched it up, thinking it might be cute.

what i liked: so little.

childhood memories were like airplane luggage; no matter how far you were traveling, or how long you needed them to last, you were only ever allowed two bags (p. 116).

ellie watched as the little girl handed her father a postcard with a picture of the sun rising over the ocean. but the mother had corralled the boys out the door and was calling sharply for the other two to join them. the dad shrugged helplessly at his daughter, whose chin trembled as she clutched the postcard to her chest.

"she can just take it," ellie found herself saying, and the man spun around with a look of surprise. his daughter beamed at him, then skipped off with the card in hand, a memory that might only make it to the corner, or the end of the trip, but that would--with any luck--be carried with her at least a little farther than that (p. 121).

no matter how long it's been or how far you've drifted, no matter how unknowable you might be, there were at least two people in the world whose job it was to see you, to find you, to recognize you and reel you back in. no matter what (p. 342).

what sucked: so much. that it was four hundred four pages of trite crap. seriously. this is the kind of crap that makes breaking into the publishing business such a pain in the ass. four hundred pages? i don't mind lengthy novels so long as they're packed with awesome. and no, not every page has to be so, but there sure as shit needs to be more than two pages. hell, that's barely half of one. and that's not even awesome. that's the best this book's got, though.

having said all that: maybe i'm being a little harder on it than i ought to be. but the author? she works in the industry as an editor. if i'd sent in something of the same caliber, it wouldn't get more than a half-second's glance... it'd go into the slush pile, and when the editorial assistants got around to looking at everything else that got tossed there with it, they might give it two seconds, and then it'd go in the trash.

maybe i'm a little frustrated. it's just that i can write better than this. and it makes me a little annoyed when others' work, which is considerably less, gets printed. also, i stubbed the same toe on the corner of some brick twice in thirty minutes. and maybe i've been a little too spendthrifty lately. these things do not a happy gal make.

but still. it's crap. too little conflict, too little chemistry between the main characters (who aren't all that likable), too much cheese. way, way too much cheese.

i used to really like the name graham. and now i'm gonna think of this lame dude from this lame novel.

if i stay

August 13, 2013

why i wanted to read it: because it comes before where she went. i should've read this one first. i would have, except when i sought out more of ms. forman's works, i only saw the second. i could've looked harder. but i wasn't feeling like hunting.

what i liked: unlike the other, where the sentences appealed more than the story did, in this novel, i wasn't quite as touched by the word choices. but the story is sweeter.

remembering adam would be like losing him all over again, and i'm not sure that i can bear that on top of everything else (p. 181).

i'm feeling not just the physical pain, but all that i have lost, and it is profound and catastrophic and will leave a crater in me that nothing will ever fill (p. 195).

there were a few others here and there, but none so strong that i felt compelled to mark the page so that i could put them here.

then again, i showed yall quite a few from the second book, and maybe i'm just not feeling as generous this time around.

what sucked: there's a spot where the story sort of lulls, but that's all i've got, really.

having said all that: of the three forman books i've read, i like this one the best. also, i'm glad i read adam's tale first. makes me like him more here for having done that. makes me like mia more, too.

where she went

August 12, 2013

why i wanted to read it: because i kind of liked the gayle forman's other book.

what i liked: and before i know what i'm doing, before i can argue myself out of it, rationalize what a terrible idea this is, i'm walking toward the box office. i don't want to see her, i tell myself. i won't see her.  i only want to hear her (p. 37).

the tremor in my hand has become so normal, so nonstop, that it's generally imperceptible to me. but as soon as my fingers close around mia's, the thing i notice is that it stops and suddenly it goes quiet, like when the squall of feedback is suddenly cut when someone switches off an amp (p. 56).

my mom liked to say that everything i'd done--from my mere existence, to becoming a musician, to falling in love with a girl like mia, to going to college, to having the band become so popular, to dropping out of college, to dropping out of the band--was a surprise...

"you working at the plant," she said, staring at my solemnly. "this doesn't surprise me. this is what i would've expected from a son of mine" (pp. 60-61).

"not in new york. the diner pies are such disappointments. the fruit's almost always canned. and marionberry does not exist here. how is it possible that fruit simply ceases to exist from one coast to another?"

how is it possible that a boyfriend ceases to exist from one day to another? "couldn't tell you" (p. 72).

i'm pretty sure there's not going to be another postscript with mia, and i'm gonna have to live on the fumes of tonight for the rest of my life, so i'd like a little more to show for it than parking lots and arthritis and aborted apologies (p. 113).

"the faculty here will coddle you because of what you went through. i, however, am of the opinion if we do that, that car crash might as well have killed you, too, because we will smother your talent" (p. 123).

"i suspect deep down he's doing this because he thinks by giving me a shot at a career, he'll help me fill some void... but he doesn't have to give me the career. that's not what fills the void."

and it's like, mia, don't you get it? the music is the void. and you're the reason why (p. 126).

"bullshit," mia says... "quitting's not hard. deciding to quit is hard. once you make that mental leap, the rest is easy."

"really? was that how you quit me?" (p. 182).

letting go. everyone talks about it like it's the easiest thing. unfurl your fingers one by one until your hand is open. but my hand has been clenched into a fist for three years now; it's frozen shut. all of me is frozen shut. and about to shut down completely (p. 189).

i've blamed her for all of this, for leaving, for ruining me. and maybe that was the seed of it, but from that one little seed grew this tumor of a flowering plant. and i'm the one who nurtures it. i water it. i care for it. i nibble from its poison berries. i let it wrap around my neck, choking the air right out of me. i've done that. all by myself. all to myself (p. 190).

and the music, it's like, i dunno, fresh bread on an empty stomach or a woodstove on a frigid day (p. 201).

her hands were freezing, just like they always were, so i warmed them just like i always did.

and it was while i was warming her hands that i thought about how lucky it was that they looked okay. because without hands, there'd be no music and without music, she'd have lost everything (pp. 214-215).

what sucked: maybe this was intended and maybe it suits the characters, but it sort of plodded a long in places. then it got pretty good. then it got really cheesy and went back to plodding along.

having said all that: i did like it. it's not a bad story. so much of it's told with some well-crafted sentences. there's poetry, even, really in the author's prose. the characters are likable, too. it's good. not great. but worth reading.

just one day

August 11, 2013

why i wanted to read it: i like the cover. and it's sort of strategically placed, so that i would pass by it on pretty much every visit to the bookstore. i picked it up a couple of times, but i never felt compelled to keep it. and then, the other day, i saw it again and decided what the hell. 

what i liked: "oh, so you're saying that i'm an accident?"

his smile stretches like caramel. "absolutely."

i rub my toe against the curb. i think of my ziploc bags. i think of the color-coded schedule of all my activities that we've kept tacked to the fridge since i was, like, eight. i think of my neat files with all my college application materials. everything ordered. everything planned. i look at willem, so the opposite of that, of me, today, also the opposite of that.

"i think that might possibly be one of the most flattering things anyone's ever said to me." i pause. "i'm not sure what that says about me, though."

"it says that you haven't been flattered enough" (pp. 84-85).

i feel like the whole day has been an electrical shock, paddles straight to my heart, bringing me out of a lifelong torpor i hadn't even known i was in (p. 126).

but still, that whole day, being with willem, being lulu, it made me realize that all my life i've been living in a small, square room with no windows and no doors. and i was fine. i was happy, even. i thought. then someone came along and showed me there was a door in the room (p. 179).

he looks at me, and then, reverting to the voice he'd used with kendra, says, "if homegirls wanna see me as ghetto trash--" he stops and switches to his lispy, sassy voice-- "or big-ass queer--" now he switches to his deepest shakespeare voice-- "i shall not take it upon myself to disabuse them" (p. 210).

and the people we pretend at, they're already in us. that's why we pretend them in the first place (p. 237).

i am helpless. i am a void. a disappointment. my helplessness, my dependency, my passivity, i feel it whorling into a fiery little ball, and i harness that ball, somehow wondering how something made of weakness can feel so strong. but the ball grows hotter, so hot, the only thing i can do with it is hurl it (p. 255).

that day with willem, i may have pretended to be someone named lulu, but i had never been more honest in my life (p. 256).

avenue simon bolivar and rue de l'equerre, the cross streets of humiliation and defeat (p. 311).

what sucked: i haven't decided how i feel about the ending. it's a little too unreal for my tastes, but at the same time, there's a second book scheduled for release in october, and i'm curious to read it. still... there's a whole lot of suspension of disbelief here. and i typically reserve that for the works of science fiction. then again, it's (yet another) teen fiction novel, so perhaps i should go a little easy on it...

having said all that: i liked it well enough. had a hard time putting it down. it's a quick read. light. fun. and for all it's improbability, there are certainly scenes that ring true.

they're just numbers

August 8, 2013

so i try to tell myself.

i've written about this before, but it's been on my mind lately, so i'm doing it again. i'll try to put a different spin on it this time. it won't be a big one, of course. it can only go so far, so wide.

yesterday, i emailed another cousin in colorado (i've lots of them there--my maternal grandmother's father and his three brothers literally set up shop there when they came over from austria). she and her husband are expecting their first child in january.

her husband's birthday is september twenty-seventh.

that's a date that sticks with me.

as does december twenty-eighth.

today, i reread cecelia ahern's novel love, rosie. alex, the man rosie's loved all her life, marries his second wife on this particular day. his first marriage crashed and burned, of course, because rosie is the woman he's loved all of his life, but neither of them are brave enough to accept this... so he first marries his college sweetheart... and then he marries his high school sweetheart, all the while trying to ignore the fact that he's pretty much always longed for his childhood sweetheart. that book, by the way is equal parts adorable and annoying. but i love alex and rosie, despite their pigheadedness. you should get to know them.

i've written about him before, the only guy who's really mattered to me. he doesn't now. i'm pretty sure if were to see him, i'd be like what the fuck were you stuck on this guy for? but... i see certain numbers and i am reminded of him. of feeling a certain way. and that... that is what i miss. not him. but the possibility of him.

when i was younger, like almost every other woman in the world, i would imagine my wedding day. i've since gotten to know myself really well, and so i don't delude myself with this stuff anymore, but once upon a time, i entertained the possibility of normal.

his birthday was september twenty-seventh.

mine is march twenty-ninth.

halfway between the two is december twenty-eighth. the year i knew him, that day fell on a saturday. the following year it was a sunday. good days for getting married. and i felt, not too long after i met him, that if i were to get married i wouldn't mind being married to him. i was almost thirty, and i'd begun to realize by this point that perhaps that wasn't quite the right path for me, but i found myself toying with the idea, anyway.

first there was yesterday... and then today. the dates always make me a little nostalgic.

so, to distract myself a bit with other things, i went to wikipedia to see what else happened on december twenty-eighth. i won't give you the years. and i'm sure as shit not giving you an encyclopedia. a few of'm will do. and maybe, the next time i see december twenty-eighth, i can reference these instead of that:

westminster abbey was consecrated
the planet neptune was discovered,
though galileo referred to it as a fixed star
iowa was recognized as the twenty-ninth state
the endangered species act was passed
woodrow wilson, stan lee, maggie smith, edgar winter
and denzel washington were born
jerry orbach died
and it's the fourth day of christmas, referring to the four gospels

and the next time i see september twenty-seventh:

the norman conquest began
pope urban the seventh died, 
thirteen days after being chosen... the shortest reign
lancaster, pennsylvania was the united states capital... for just one day
mexico gained its independence from spain
the first ford model t was built in detroit, michigan
the tonight show debuted nationwide
meatloaf, gwyneth paltrow, lil wayne and avril lavigne were born
general braxton bragg and babe didrikson zaharias died
and it's world tourism day

i don't want these dates to mean anything personal to me anymore. i don't want for march twelfth and seventeenth, september twenty-seventh, october twelfth and december twenty-eighth to matter anymore. i want them to just be days--ordinary, unmemorable days.

and if i can't have that, then i'd like it very much if karma could stop shoving them in my face.