Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Book Review - Water for Elephants

Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen.

What a page-turner!! So, so entertaining. I started it Sunday and finished today - just could not put it down.
Primarily told in flashback as the story of a young man who joins a circus, this book covers a lot of ground - the young man's story, his older self's recollections (which, by the way, are a fascinating commentary on how America treats its elderly), the story of class distinctions and power, a love story, a story of prohibition, a story of the Depression, and of loss. Oh, yes - and the story of an elephant.

I thought this book had a little of everything that makes reading such an adventure. I highly recommend it!

Sunday, July 27, 2008


It has been a perfect day.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

It's official.

After thinking about it for a few months, getting increasingly tired of being tired and cranky more often than not, and some reading and advice from the doctor (at annual check-ups, don't worry folks, nothing major is happening to me) - it's official. I need more exercise.

I've got lots of good reasons to get more active at this point in my life. I used to run, back in the day in high school, till I got sidelined by an injury. It was a good stress release in college after exams. It really helped my PMS symptoms (A LOT), and I just felt stronger and healthier when I ran regularly. It will help me deal with stress, sleep better, and build more bone mass. I also want to join my friend Nicole in some fun runs (surprise, Nicole!! We haven't talked about it, but I'm hoping you won't mind a running buddy). So, meet my new lovelies:

Brand-spanking-new-totally-bitchin' shoes (full price, bummer) and running clothes (on sale!). And I'm really not picky and HM (high maintenance), but I'm digging how the clothes and shoes match. Hey, any bit of motivation helps, yeah?

Triathlon watch. No, I'm not going to train for a triathlon. (Yet.) I just wanted something for interval training and different timers.

See more of the plan here. Don't worry, I know my body. I won't start out all gung ho and quit. I'll do this gradually and give updates on my progress. As soon as I break in my running shoes, the streets better watch out. I'm serious about this and I intend to kick this tushie into shape.

Friday, July 25, 2008

I've got the grumpies.

It's been a long week. TH has been sick with bronchitis, which means neither one of us has been getting much sleep. I've been dealing with a student at work that's got my mind in pretzel-mode. We've been fighting with ants for dominance in our house (they've been going for the cat's food, so we keep moving it around all over the house. Poor cat can't keep up).

Yeah. Life's hard.

I feel like a schmuck for even complaining. My life is so good. But I still feel dissatisfied, sometimes, this week in particular. Anyone else with me on this?? This weird, mixed sense of both joy and ennui with my lot in life?

I think I need a good dose of rest, and weekend. And luckily, it's the weekend! WOO! I plan to spoil myself with a home pedicure, read lots and lots, enjoy some pizza and TV with TH (who's feeling much better, thanks for asking), and maybe a little housecleaning. I'm also thinking maybe it's time to go out to buy some running shoes. I think if I exercise more I can banish the grumpies for good. How do you send the grumpies packing?

Thursday, July 24, 2008

I'm not sure what this means...

...But my cat yowls every time I practice my piano lessons.

Everyone's a critic.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Book Review - The Keep

The Keep, by Jennifer Egan.

This book is BRILLIANT.

The end.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Observations from the freeway

Dear Fellow Driver -
I just wanted to tell you that road rage makes you U-G-L-Y. I know you were frustrated because that one car pulled in front of you on the on-ramp, but I think they were not being rude as it is a merging situation. Nevertheless, I don't really think you needed to get as mad as you got since you exited at the next off-ramp anyway. If you had seen your face, I wonder if you would have been surprised and shocked, like me. Your forehead was creased into a deep V, your eyes were narrowed, your mouth was distorted - all by rage. Over one small moment in your life.

You scared me, and I wasn't even the subject of your feelings.

Please be careful out there. Peace to you.

a page from her book

Thursday, July 17, 2008


My cat has more energy than me today.

He's chasing the fur tumbleweeds that flit across our hardwood.

Yes, I will vacuum. Tomorrow.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Weekend with the 'rents

I got back yesterday evening from an extended weekend with the parents. It was a wonderful weekend, and though I missed TH, it was nice to spend some time with Mom and Dad all by myself.

We spent our time talking, drinking, talking, eating, talking, going to the museum, talking, going to yoga, talking, going to a spa, talking, reading, talking, and quilting. And talking.

Mango-vanilla soy ice cream blended with coconut rum. Drinks all around!

The museum we went to is the California Legion of Honor. We saw a show of "Women Impressionists." Excellent exhibit.
La psyche (The Mirror). Berthe Morisot. 1876.

Mediterranean delights at La Mediterranee in Berkeley.

Is there anything better than new books??

The Chef at work in his domain.

Apricot tarte. Do not mess with perfection. I had two pieces.

The Quilter in her domain. Working on the infamous "Easy Coasters Project" of 2008.

I've discovered that quilting is not my thing. But hanging out with my parents, is.

Good times were had by all.


A One-Minute Drama

Scene: exiting the bank. Today, 4:08 PM.

Jennifer holds open the door for a Young Man of about 20 years old. Keep in mind that Jennifer is mid-thirties.

Young Man: Thank you, sweetie.

Jennifer: ... Did you just call me sweetie?

YM: (with pride and a pinch of bravado) Yes. I'm a polite gentleman.

Jennifer: (politely, but firmly) I prefer "Ma'am." (Exits to parking lot, long powerful strides, skirt whipping around her legs.)

YM: (softly) OK, I'm sorry.


Friday, July 11, 2008

Breaking Perfectionism's Grip

Not quite "Kicking Perfectionism's Ass," but I'm working on it.

I am a card-carrying perfectionist. I have struggled for years with wanting to be good - nay, PERFECT- at all I do. And when I inevitably make mistakes, I beat myself up and obsess for days (months, years). I am sure that everyone sees my errors when they happen, and - worse - remembers them as long as I do, and -EVEN WORSE - holds them against me. Forever.

(As you can see, being a drama queen along with a perfectionist can lead to some interesting internal conversations.)

Anyway, my latest work snaffle just hit this morning, as I am about to take a few days off to spend time with the parents. (Since you asked, TH and Leopold will be having a guys weekend - lots of beer, pizza, and expelling of gaseous substances. If you get my drift.) To make a long story short, an issue of miscommunication seems to have pissed off a professor. I own my mistakes in this situation. However, I recognize that the professor and a student have also made mistakes. I talked myself down from panic-mode, with the knowledge that out of 30+ situations just exactly like this one, this single episode (in which the student ultimately got done what they needed to) could maybe be acceptable. And when my coworkers and boss backed me up, I only spent an hour and a half obsessing before I was able to move on with my day.

I'm so proud of me.

So while I still have a ways to go, I feel like I've made progress. Gee, at this rate I'll kick perfectionism to the curb right....about....when....I....die.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008


Current temperature: 107 F / 41 ish C.
Current conditions: smoky. "Extremely unhealthy" range.
Visibility: pretty bad. Looks like a mile, maybe.

TH and I have burning eyes and sore throats.

(And people laugh at me for loving winter.)

Monday, July 7, 2008


Watch this link to YouTube. And then tell me this country ain't great!


Sorry, I would've embedded it in my blog, but I'm hopelessly non-geeky.

ps. Thanks, Dad, for the link!

Saturday, July 5, 2008

If lovin' you is wrong....

.... I don't wanna be right.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Happy Birthday, U.S.!!

I've been thinking a lot the past couple days about what it means to me to be free.

  • It means that I can make choices about my life, instead of having those choices made for me.
  • It means that I can think, say, and write what I want without fear of reprisal from the government.
  • It means that I can choose not to participate in patriotic activities.
  • It means that I can choose to participate in activities critical of my government.
  • It means that I can freely travel without suspicion.
  • It means that I am protected from search, seizure, and harassment from government agents without just cause.
  • It means that I can be protected from discrimination.
  • It means that I can vote my conscience. Heck, it means I can VOTE!!
  • It means that I can love my country, and love other countries just as much.
  • It means that I can be opposed to war without being opposed to my country.
  • It means that I can be free from propaganda and think for myself.
  • It means that I can support a woman's right to make decisions about her body.
  • It means that I can support the right of all citizens to benefit from well, benefits.
  • It means that I can support the dignity and rights of all people in this country, whether they are citizens or not.
  • It means that I can support the conservation of this earth, in addition to the people on it.
  • It means that any of you can disagree with me, and that the resulting discussion will serve to make our nation more interesting, stronger, and a better place to live.

Happy Independence Day!! What does freedom mean to you?

(See the text of the Declaration of Independence.)

Thursday, July 3, 2008

How time flies

On Notre Dame
Originally uploaded by shesingsforjoy
This time last year, we were in Paris.