Monthly Archives: August 2009

To life, to life, l’chaim

I follow quite a few blogs (not all of which are listed over on the right side of this page, although those are the ones I visit frequently) and sometimes I randomly choose a post in which I read a large majority of the comments. I do not do this with every post because, quite frankly, I do not care what 97.3% of those comments have to say. However if the post is something I care about (like this one) I skim through to see what people have to say on the subject. Today I was reading a particular post from a very, very creative blogger whom I absolutely adore (Color Me Katie) and in this post she asked her readers to comments the answers to these questions: 1) The first thing to make you smile today, 2) Your favorite thing to do, 3) Favorite Memory, and 4) Where you want to be right now. Seeing as these are questions that will produce a wide variety of answers I decided to read the comments. The fifth comment started off like this: “The first thing to make you smile today: The fact that I woke up. I’m not terminally ill or anything, but I still appreciate life. :]”

And that got me thinking. I may have health issues but I am not terminally ill. When I wake up I automatically think about what I have to do on that particular day, what I am going to wear, should I make my bed (which I usually do) or what book should I start reading today. And this person who posted this comment maybe sat there in front of his computer, sitting for a few minutes until the perfect answer came to him, I don’t know. But this is a pretty attention grabbing answer if you ask me. How many times do you wake up and say “Holy cow. I am alive today.” Embarrassingly enough, I rarely think this. I’m not going to say never, because yes, sometimes I do think that as my first thought. But when you go to bed at night you automatically assume you are going to wake up the next day. So you pick out your clothes and you get your school books (or work stuff) in order and you go to bed with thoughts and visions of the future. But some people never wake up to greet the sun. I try not to stuff religious ideas and things into my posts because honestly, I don’t want to be one of those preachy-type bloggers. Yes, I am a born again Christian. Yes I pray and read the Bible (though, not as often as I should). I am not perfect. But God has once again given me the gift of life and all I can do is sit at my desk and complain that I can’t pronounce the French word for car. (It really is an annoying word.) So often in life we get so busy with work or friends or relationships that we don’t notice any of the little details around us. Like the alarm going off, or the bus getting to the stop on time, or very little morning traffic that allows you to get a nice cup of coffee before your morning meeting.

I guess what I am trying to say is that we should take time every morning to greet the sun and be thankful for another day of life, then go out and live it to the fullest.

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I move into my dorm on Sunday and start classes on Tuesday. I promise more interesting blogs will be coming your way SOON.

Often in life I turn to my mother, sister, family member and/or best friend and say “remember the time we/you/I…” and then I go on about something that usually happened within the last, oh I don’t know, ten minutes or so, and they just look at me and say, “you mean the thing that just happened ten minutes ago?” To which I just say, “yes” and watch them ponder the question, as if I was testing their memory or going insane. Well it has sort of become a running joke in my family. I don’t remember (shockingly) what started me saying it, but I just sort of… did. I think something funny would happen and ten minutes later no one was laughing about it anymore, that is, no one but me, and I didn’t want to be the only one still laughing so I brought it back up to bring back the joy. Except it didn’t really work out that way. And then my mother would say something like, “go get me a pencil” and my sister would reply with “remember that time you told me to go get you a pencil?” Then they would double over with laughter as I sat there, directing icy glances in their general direction.

Well on Twitter (of which I happily have an account found HERE) there are “trending topics” and people insert this phrase or word into their daily tweets. These topics rapidly change (daily) and tonight I found myself thinking about random memories only to look at Twitter and see the number one trending topic was “remember when.” I clicked on this and found some very amusing (and quite frankly some very disturbing) “remember whens.” So because I 1)don’t have anything else interesting to blog about and 2)can’t tweet any of these because of a silly 140 character limit I am going to post some of the most random memories that come to my mind. Mind you, these are only fleeting moments of things that have happened in my life and as a gift to you, dear reader, I am letting YOU come up with the details of the situations. The how or why or what or when that would make this little moment possible.

Remember the time during Freshman year at college when I had to stand up in front of THOUSANDS of people and do an African chant/dance while wearing an actual dress from Africa and pretending to roast the Universities mascot in a fire?

Remember the time I punched Alan Hanson because he tried to kiss me at Taylor Wall’s birthday party?

Remember the time I stood on a fake stone wall at Disney World and sang the Mickey Mouse Club theme song while holding my hat out for tips?

Remember the time strangers gave me tips for singing at Disney World?

Remember the time Dave saw me in my unmentionables?

Remember the time I posted about a movie on my blog and everyone on the Internet got all bent out of shape because I said I didn’t enjoy the sex scene between two homosexuals? (This is my top viewed post, and I still get people visiting it from the message boards.)

Remember the time I drove my friend’s 4-wheeler into a tree in her back yard?

Remember the time I met my favorite Broadway star?

Remember the time I convinced my Spanish teacher to let us play Lord of the Rings Trivial Pursuit in class?

Remember the time I stayed up all night (literally) with the rest of my class, studying for a state administered Education exam only to (like the rest of my class) barely pass with a C? (I still tear up at that memory…)

Remember the time I accidentally asked my roommate if she wanted to go get a hamburger with me after she *just* said she was a vegetarian?

Remember the time I went to the state science fair in third grade?

And lastly, remember the time I was sleeping nice and cozy in my bed when my brother woke me up to inform me he was sick, and when I told him to go to the bathroom he turned and threw up all the way down the stairs? (And I do mean EVERY. SINGLE. STAIR.)

What are some of your random memories?

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Spring Flowers

This is what happens when you leave me alone with too many shoes to choose from, making packing for college simply impossible.

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Book Club book #25: The Lovely Bones

Just an update: the last time we checked in I in the middle of reading book 19 which was Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. I finished that book, as well as the rest of the series and then immediately jumped into The Lovely Bones. I am not talking about the Harry Potter series as I plan to continue my book vs. movie discussion over on Bullshish. Now if you did the math you would realize I should be on book 23, but I forgot to include two books in my previous post. So now I should be between 28 and 32. Meh, I will catch up! And now, for the latest review. **Oh, and I tried my hardest not to include any sort of spoiler. I think I did a good job, but just sort of be warned there may come a piece or two of information that could be considered “spoiler” worthy.**

The Lovely Bones

Book: The Lovely Bones

Author: Alice Sebold

Number of Pages: 328

Plot, according to the back of the book:

“My name was Salmon, like the fish, first name Susie. I was fourteen when I was murdered on December 6, 1973.” So begins the story of Susie Salmon, who is adjusting to her new home in heaven, a place that is not at all what she expected, even as she is watching life on earth continue without her—her friends trading rumors about her disappearance, her killer trying to cover his tracks, her grief-stricken family unraveling.

Plot, in my own words:

Susie Salmon was just a normal girl who was brutally raped and murdered. She spends the entirety of the book narrating her story from Heaven as she watches down on her family, friends, and killer.

Thoughts, comments, questions, concerns:

One day I walked into a bookstore, picked up a copy of The Lovely Bones, paid for it, went home, sat on my bed and began to read the story of Susie Salmon. (A story that was rapidly becoming a much talked about topic among the literary world.) One chapter later I put down the book and did not pick it up again for at least five years.  There it sat, lonely (no pun intended) on my bookshelf just waiting to be read, but every time I looked at the thing I got the most horrible feeling in my stomach. Then I heard a rumor that it was being adapted into a movie. I thought about reading the book. Then I heard that the rumor proved to be true. I thought about reading the book. Then I went and saw a movie, and can you guess what one of the trailers was? Go on, I don’t think you will get it. IT WAS THE LOVELY BONES. I then went home, picked up the book, pushed myself through that darn first chapter and fell in love with the stupid thing.

As previously stated above, The Lovely Bones is the story of a young girl, told in first person narrative, who was raped and murdered by her neighbor. You find all of this out within the first two sentences of the book, so I don’t know what I was expecting, but by the end of the chapter it was as if you had witnessed Susie’s rape (which I believe was so realistic because of Sebold’s own rape that occurred during her college years). One of my biggest fears in life (as I am sure it is with a lot of women) is getting kidnapped and raped. I mean honestly, when I had to walk the streets of London alone to get groceries I was terrified. Not because I didn’t trust the city of London, but it is just this fear instilled inside of us. It has increasingly grown over the past few years and when I first picked up the book I couldn’t read past the first chapter. Now, I’d like to think that within the past five or so years I have grown up. Rereading the chapter wasn’t as bad as it was the first time; I was able to push through and read the entire novel, but Sebold is such an exceptional writer that no matter what point you are at in the book you are feeling some kind of emotion whether it be happiness, grief, fear, hatred, suspense, or even confused.

And that right there is what makes this book exceptional. You are seeing everything through the eyes of a girl sitting in Heaven, and yet you are able to sympathize with a grieving father, a heartbroken sister, a brother who is too young to fully grasp the situation, a mother who is on the slippery slope of severe depression, and a girl who can see her family, hear her family, but not talk to her family. Without giving anything away, all I can say is one minute you find yourself crying, the next SHOUTING at a character, then laughing, and maybe some more crying, and finally coming to grips with the ending. The characters are all lovable in their own unique way (with the exception of the killer who is one of the creepiest characters I have come across in a long, long time) and it has been a while since I have read a story of fictional characters set in the “real world” (as opposed to a wizard’s school) to which I have felt so connected.

The imagery and details Sebold uses to describe the events as well as the setting for such scenes is brilliant. You really do get a sense that you are there, alongside of Susie, watching this stuff unfold. Sebold has such a creative, unique style of writing as well. In the middle of a chapter when she finished a thought or a scene, she finishes it, skips a few lines, and then jumps to the next thought, scene, or flashback. There are no unnecessary fillers between the stories. She gives you the facts, slightly veiled by mystery, and then she sort of brilliantly strings them all together in the end. This is definitely a book that requires your full attention as things are often mentioned in one chapter, and then slightly (and sometimes quite sneakily) referred to in future chapters.

Bottom line:

Read this book. Read this book, read this book, read this book! I’m not going to lie and say it is happy all the time and everything ends up nice and pretty and perfect. It doesn’t. But sometimes books NEED to end this way to remind the reader that life doesn’t happen this way. People aren’t perfect; they make mistakes. You can’t bring people back from the dead but you can keep them alive in your memories. The final message of the book is about understanding, acceptance, and moving forward with your life. This book is a beautiful representation of how life really works. I absolutely recommend this to anyone and everyone.

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I saw a Movie and I Liked It.

Julie & Julia

I must start this post by saying I absolutely adored everything about this movie from the actors to the characters to the story lines (both of them) to the scenery to the dialogue to the dishes that were cooked to everything. Doug from Bullshish posted his review of the movie (found here) and actually said while he didn’t find the Julie storyline as interesting as the Julia storyline, he still enjoyed the movie. But I must say I disagree with him on this aspect for more personal reasons.

First, I LOVE to cook. I love everything about cooking, especially cooking things from scratch. From the sixth grade and beyond I watched the Food Network channel A LOT more than I care to admit. Now I am constantly recording episodes of Alton Brown and The Barefoot Contessa (just two of the many shows I watch) to see how exactly they hold the knife when chopping onions, and how much you should really pay for good, quality meat, and just what are the best cuts of meat because this stuff matters people! I print recipes off line, make them and sometimes quite a few come out better than I expect. My favorite chef is Jamie Oliver (who I stayed up to watch on the weekends when his poor little show was on at midnight) and I own every single one of his cookbooks. I think the reason I loved Julie’s storyline is that I have attempted to make a little progress through these books. Mind you, I have not attempted over 500 recipes in a year, but have you ever taken a huge cookbook, opened up to a particular section, picked a recipe and tried to make it? One of those “you have to add the egg in at this PRECISE moment and mix it in for this EXACT amount of time because if you go any over the time limit you will have scrambled eggs with your pasta but if you go any under you will have raw eggs with your pasta?” No? You haven’t? Well it isn’t as easy as they make it look on T.V. people. Amy Adams did a spectacular job playing Julie and I really do think she conveyed the emotions you get when trying to make a meal from scratch. Standing there, reading the recipe and talking to Julia– yes, I’ve done that. Cried when she couldn’t get the stuffing in the chicken? I cried when I burned a batch of fried green tomatoes, on my third attempt no less. Got in a fight with her husband? I’ve yelled and been yelled at by my grandmother while cooking. I’ve been there and sometimes it isn’t fun. I couldn’t even imagine doing it almost daily, though it is very, very tempting.

Second, I grew up with a grandmother who also loved to cook. She reminds me of Julia in a way; whenever we are in the kitchen cooking and I make a mistake I tend to get really upset with myself and she always tells me that it is okay, mistakes happen and then she manages to fix it. Please don’t ask me how, but when it comes to food the woman is just simply amazing. And that is what I got with Julia in the movie. That woman was fearless, never apologized and found a way to make it happen. Meryl Streep did an absolutely brilliant job at perfecting the voice and mannerisms of the infamous chef and I thoroughly enjoyed her performance. Meryl also was adorable shopping in the streets of Paris. Oh, Paris. So often you are associated with gross, nasty, rude people who don’t shave and wear striped shirts and berets. And sometimes that is true (well more so with the gross, nasty, rude people who don’t shave, not the striped shirts and berets) but listen to me Internet. When you go to Paris everything changes. You walk the streets and to your left there are the most beautiful tomatoes and peppers and every assortment of vegetables you could imagine. And the colors are so rich, and the smells are so appetizing, and the vendors are so lovely you just want to take one of everything. When I was there I seriously got very, very sad I didn’t have a place to cook delicious meals with these amazing foods. This movie made me miss Paris (and Europe in general) but through Julia I got to relive that beautiful month I spent in France.

I guess what I am trying to say is that I loved this movie so, so much but for more personal reasons than storylines. I found the dialogue to be hilarious, sad, touching, and heartwarming. The costumes were wonderful, the sets were wonderful (what I wouldn’t give to have Julia’s kitchen) and the acting was superb. I will absolutely recommend this movie to anyone and everyone and I can not wait to add it to my collection. Now if you will excuse me, it is time for dinner and I have to go put on my pearls.

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Absolutely Stunning.

This is a contestant from Ukraine’s Got Talent making art with sand. Kind of puts the other singing and dancing talents to shame…

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In the Car

The brother: “That woman is ready to rock and roll!”

Me: “That isn’t funny, I think she has scoliosis.”

The brother: “You don’t know that. You’re not a doctor.”

Me: “No, but I did stay at a Holiday Inn last night.”

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