Life According To Literature

February 22, 2010

Using only books you have read over the past year, answer these questions. Try not to repeat a book title. It’s a lot harder than you think!

Describe yourself: An Unquiet Mind (Kay Redfield Jamison)
How do you feel: Lost & Found (Jacqueline Sheehan)
Describe where you currently live: Paradise of the Blind (Duong Thu Huong)
If you could go anywhere, where would you go: To The Lighthouse (Virginia Wolf)
Your favorite form of transportation: Stardust (Neil Gaiman)
Your best friend is: Oxygen (Carol Cassella)
You and your friends are: The Girls (Lori Lansens)
What’s the weather like: A Thousand Splendid Suns (Khalid Hosseini)
Your fear: Whistling in the Dark (Lesley Kagen)
What is the best advice you have to give: The Secrets of the Bulletproof Spirit: How to Bounce Back From Life’s Hardest Hits (Azim Khamisa and Jullian Quinn)
Thought for the day: We Need To Talk About Kevin (Lionel Shriver)
How I would like to die: Their Eyes Were Watching God (Zora Neale Hurston)
My soul’s present condition: Buffalo Lockjaw (Greg James)

Over a year ago, someone left a comment here in reference to a book that was in the process of being created, with the theme “feelings.” The authors performed web searches using the keyword “feel.”  That search brought them to this entry, in which I stated: I just want to feel like a normal, healthy person.

The person who left the comment asked if I would allow them to publish the photo of me knitting on the beach (also from the above-mentioned entry).  I responded with a “yes,” and soon received an email advising me that there were thousands of applicants, and I would hear back if I made the final cut. I honestly didn’t think anything would come of it.

Several months later, I received notification that my photo had been selected to be included in the book, We Feel Fine: An Almanac of Human Emotion.   Even though I signed a release form, I still found it hard to believe that this was actually going to happen.

Another email arrived today, informing me that the book is due to be released on December 1st, and I will be receiving a complimentary copy. I also received an invitation to attend the launch party on December 5th, in New York City.

How cool is that?

Song of the Day:  Fame by David Bowie

I’ve got a few things I want to talk about, but before I get to that I’d like to post the Bucket List that’s going around Facebook.  I was tagged by Penny.  (This list, by the way, is not the same as Fifty-nine Out of One Hundred.)

Things you have done during your lifetime:
( ) Gone on a blind date
(x ) Skipped school
( ) Watched someone die
(x) Been to Canada
(x ) Been to Mexico
(x) Been to Florida
(x ) Been to Hawaii
(x) Been on a plane
(x ) Been on a helicopter (in Kauai, Hawaii)
(x) Been lost
(x) Gone to Washington, DC
(x) Swam in the ocean
(x) Cried yourself to sleep
(x) Played cops and robbers

(x) Recently colored with crayons
( ) Sang Karaoke
(x) Paid for a meal with coins only
( ) Been to the top of the St. Louis Arch
(X) Done something you told yourself you wouldn’t.
(x ) Made prank phone calls
(x ) Been down Bourbon Street in New Orleans
(x ) Laughed until some kind of beverage came out of your nose & elsewhere

(X) Caught a snowflake on your tongue
( ) Danced in the rain-naked
(X) Written a letter to Santa Claus
(x ) Been kissed under the mistletoe
(x ) Watched the sunrise with someone
(X) Blown bubbles
(X) Gone ice-skating

(X) Gone to the movies
(x ) Been deep sea fishing
(x ) Driven across the United States

( ) Been in a hot air balloon
( ) Been sky diving
(x) Gone snowmobiling
( ) Lived in more than one country
(x) Lay down outside at night and admired the stars while listening to the crickets
(x ) Seen a falling star and made a wish
(x ) Enjoyed the beauty of Old Faithful Geyser
(x) Seen the Statue of Liberty

( ) Gone to the top of Seattle Space Needle
( ) Been on a cruise
(x) Traveled by train
(x ) Traveled by motorcycle  (It wasn’t exactly traveling, but I have been on motorcycles, as a passenger.)
(x) Been horseback riding
(x ) Ridden on a San Francisco cable car
(x ) Been to Disney World (Actually, it was Disney Land in CA)

( ) Truly believe in the power of prayer
( ) Been in a rain forest
( ) Seen whales in the ocean  (I’ve been on whale watches, but didn’t see any whales.)
(X) Been to Niagara Falls
(x ) Ridden on an elephant  (I have a picture of that experience, but don’t feel like digging through thousands of photos to find it.)

( ) Swam with dolphins
( ) Been to the Olympics
( ) Walked on the Great Wall of China
( ) Saw and heard a glacier calf
( ) Been spinnaker flying
( x) Been water-skiing
() Been snow-skiing
(x ) Been to Westminster Abbey
( ) Been to the Louvre
( ) Swam in the Mediterranean
() Been to a Major League Baseball game
() Been to a National Football League game

On to the next item… The last time I saw Dr. What Do You Want Me to Do, he referred me to an allergist because of my frequent problems with runny nose and sneezing.  I went for allergy testing yesterday, and it turns out that I’m not allergic to anything.  I do, however, have a deiviated septum.  I also have nonallergic rhinitis, which means that I am very sensitive to irritants such as dust and odors.  Changes in weather and chronic health conditions can also trigger nonallergic rhinitis symptoms.  The Mayo Clinic notes that this condition can make you miserable.  It sure does.  Lucky me.

In other news, we are going to pick up our new car today. Our current vehicle is a 1995 Chevy Cavalier.   It’s getting to the point where we are putting more money than is fiscally responsible into a car that is fourteen years old.  So, we looked for the cheapest decent car we could find and decided upon a 2009 Hyundai Accent, ranked number 17 out of 35 in affordable small cars by US News & World Report.  The color is charcoal grey.

We’re going to have to be even more creative in our budgeting now that we’ll be adding a car payment to our monthly expenses.  Our car insurance has gone up,too,  but it’s not as bad as I had feared.  Daniel called around (including Geico), and the best deal we got came from Liberty Mutual.  They also offered us a better deal on our home insurance, so we switched that over, as well.  Wish us luck!

Besides picking up our new car, we will be celebrating Valentine’s Day with take-out food.  I don’t want to go to a restaurant because they’re too crowded and you get the bum’s rush on holidays such as this one.  Take-out Chinese will do nicely.  Not having to cook is a beautiful thing.

After dinner, I will snuggle up with my sweetie, savor my Lindt Lindor Truffles,  and watch a romantic episode of The Sopranos.  We don’t have HBO, so we’ve been getting the DVDs from Netflix.  We’re almost at the end, and I have to say that I can see why the series was so popular.  I’m really loving it.

Speaking of loving, go on and kiss the girl (or guy, whichever the case may be).


Reading: Random Family: Love, Drugs, Trouble, and Coming of Age in the Bronx by Adrian Nicole LeBlanc
Song of the Day:  My Funny Valentine by Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart


January 16, 2009

Our schools are closed today, and I can’t figure out why.  Unless pipes are frozen, or something like that, this was a ridiculous call.  It’s zero degrees, so I can see having a two-hour delay.  This is a walking district, and some of our students have a two mile hike.  But closed?  This means that we’ve used three of our five snow days, and it’s only the middle of January!  I don’t want to give up any of our spring break.  (One year, we lost the entire break!)  Grumble.

I wish I had known about the closing before I had already been up for an hour and drank two cups of coffee.  Getting up was very difficult for me this morning.  After work yesterday, I went to the Ikea in Paramus, NJ, and didn’t get home until 9:00 pm, which is past my bedtime.  To make matters worse, I had a bad night (which always happens when there is any deviation from my usual bedtime routine), and woke up just about every hour.  I’ve been dealing with a flare-up of severe pain (which is one of the reasons I’ve been so quiet here), and nights like last night sure don’t help.  It would have been wonderful to sleep a bit later this morning.

My Friend and I are going to try to get an appointment with the chiropractor, then go to lunch, followed by a trip to Sam’s Club to return the red pea coat I bought Leigh for Christmas.  Even though it’s a size small, it’s way too big for her.   It’s too big for Rebecca, as well.  So back to the store it goes.

Before I head out, I’d like to share something that Sasha brought to my attention. Performing artist, Neko Case, and Anti record label will donate five dollars to Best Friends Animal Society for every blog that reposts Neko’s new single.  Click on the link below (under the Song of the Day) for this free downloadable mp3 and please visit Antilableblog and Best Friends Animal Society for more information.

Reading:  The Three Junes by Julia Glass

Song of the Day:  Angel by Sarah McLachlan (I can’t watch that animal cruelty commercial without crying, so I don’t watch it at all.)

People Got A Lot Of Nerve by Neko Case

Before I get to today’s Holidailies prompt, I’m going to do the Letter meme that’s going around.  I first saw it at LA’s place.  These are the instructions:

You leave a comment on this post, and I’ll assign you a letter. You write about ten things you love that begin with your assigned letter, and post it at your place. When people comment on your list, you give them a letter, and the chain continues on and on. (Don’t worry, you can leave comments without fear of commitment.  I’ll only give out letters to people who ask for one.)

I have been assigned the letter “R.”

1. Rebecca, my firstborn daughter, has a sunny disposition and a big heart. She has brains as well as beauty.  I’m very proud of her.  Here she is with her boyfriend, Matt.

2. Rachmaninov (or the variation, Rachmaninoff ) – I fell in love with the music of this Russian composer/pianist when I saw the movie “Shine.”  In this Youtube clip you can hear Rachmaninov play his Piano Concerto 3.

3. Radiohead – I love Thom Yorke’s voice and “Street Spirit (Fade Out)” is one of my all-time favorite songs.

4.  Raspberries – When they are in season, there are not many fruits that I like more than raspberries.  Eating them is a tactile pleasure as much as it is a gustatory one.  There’s something velvety about the feel of a raspberry on my tongue.  I also love raspberry sauce.

5. Red – My favorite color.  I love red autumn leaves, red barns, red nail polish, red lipstick (even though I can’t wear it), red tomatoes and red cherries, cardinals and red-breasted robins, the red flesh of a ripe watermelon, painting the town red, walking the red carpet, Red Rover, etc.

Photo from hi5layouts

6. Reading – It’s no secret that I’m an avid reader  – always have been, and I suspect I always will be.

7. Repose – I love to sleep.  After a draining day of trying to carry on in spite of constant pain and fatigue, it feels so good to tuck myself in and drift off to the Land of Nod.

8. Repast – I really like to eat.    Stuffed sole, penne a la vodka, Buffalo chicken wings, calimari fra diavoo, pad thai , homemade pizza, pastichio,  falafel, chicken francese, filet mignon, lobster, peanut sesame noodles, ziti al forno, king crab legs, crabbies (see below), etc.  The only food I’m not crazy about is ham.

9. Respect – Find out what it means to me.  Seriously, the lack of respect these days is alarming, and I’m not just talking about young people.

10. Retirement – I love the thought of not having to go to work anymore.

Okay, here’s today’s Holidailies Prompt:  Share a favorite recipe that you like to make (or persuade someone to make for you) at this time of year.

This appetizer has become a family favorite at Christmas.


2 (6 pkg.) English muffins
2 sticks butter, softened
4 tbsp. mayonnaise
2 jars Old English cheese spread
2 cans crabmeat
2 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp salt

Beat all ingredients except crabmeat together. After ingredients are smooth, fold in crabmeat and spread over the English muffins. Bake at 400 degrees until bubbly.  Cut into quarters. Note: They may be kept frozen for weeks before baking.

By the way, it’s becoming too much of a chore to try to come up with an entry every day.  The holiday  season is hectic enough without putting any more pressure on myself, so I’m calling it quits with Holidailies.

Song of the Day: Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer

I’ve always liked the idea of Holidailies and decided to give it a shot this year.   I don’t know if I’ll be successful  – the thought of posting an entry every single day until January 5th is a daunting one.  But, what the heck.  It’s worth a try.

Today’s prompt:  Introduce yourself

I am 54 years old but don’t feel or act my age.  One of the things to which I attribute my youthful attitude is the fact that I am surrounded by teenagers five days a week (while school is in session).  I work in a computer lab in what is classified as an inner city school.  For the record, this is the same high school I graduated from in 1972.

I have two daughters – Rebecca, who will be 22 years old on Sunday,

and Leigh, who is 20.

Both girls are presently in college, which means that we are really feeling the squeeze financially.  Rebecca will earn her Bachelor’s degree next year (after finally settling on Sociology after switching her Major six times), so the money situation should improve somewhat.  (The girls are on their own as far as Master’s degrees go, and, in Leigh’s case, Doctor of Veterinary Medicine.  We’ll help them as much as we can, but they’re going to have to take out large loans.)

Daniel (my 2nd husband) and I will celebrate our 4th anniversary in March.  Being married to someone who suffers from chronic pain is not an easy row to hoe, but Daniel is very helpful, patient, understanding, thoughtful and loving.   I am truly blessed to have him in my life.

Speaking of chronic pain, I have Fibromyalgia (accompanied by Irritable Bowel Syndrome and chronic fatigue), Degenerative Disc disease, a herniated disc in the lumbar spine, pinched nerves,  Anticardiolipin antibody, Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (mild), and a persistent pain in the right shoulder blade that drives me out of my ever loving mind.

Our nest is pretty close to empty.  Rebecca lives at her father’s place, and Leigh is away at school.  On the other hand, we do have dearly loved “fur children,” Eleanor Rigby, a cockapoo, and Penny Lane, a dachshund.

I am an avid reader. Knitting is a more recent obsession, having learned how to do it only about a year and a half ago.  Music has always played a very important role in my life.  My tastes range from The Beatles to Linkin Park to Mendelssohn to Modest Mouse to Conor Oberst to Broadway soundtracks to The Talking Heads to U2 to the B-52s to Elvis Costello to Radiohead to The Clash to The Shins to opera, and so on.

To sum things up, I yam what I yam.

Reading: The Story of Edgar Sawtelle by David Wroblewski

Song of the Day:  I Yam What I Yam from the Popeye Soundtrack

The Roaring Twenties

October 20, 2008

This year’s Big Read festivities came to an end with a closing reception at Locust Grove.  Here are a couple of high school students dressed up as The Great Gatsby’s Tom and Daisy Buchanan.

Those of us in attendance were treated to a lesson in the Charleston.

A co-worker/friend and her partner wore masks for the occasion.

This event also featured an announcement of our area’s Big Read selection for 2009, and the first 100 people to arrive (including me!) were given a free copy of the book, which is Their Eyes Were Watching God, by Zora Neale Hurston.  I read the book years ago, and look forward to reading it again.

And now for something completely different…

Some of the comments for my last entry made me pause to reflect on how insecure I am about my looks.   This has a great deal to do with the fact that I was a chubby teenager.  I was extremely self-conscious about it, and having a thin beauty for a best friend back then didn’t do much to improve my self-esteem.  Even after I lost the weight, I struggled with body image, and continue to do so to this day.  I’m not grossly overweight, but could stand to lose a good twenty pounds.

Anyway, it does take me by surprise when people comment favorably about my appearance.  I do know that I don’t look my age (at least I don’t think I do), but I certainly don’t feel beautiful.  On an especially good (but increasingly rare) day, I might feel fairly attractive.  On the other hand, there are plenty of times when I feel downright ugly.  At any rate, it’s been a mighty long time since I felt confident about my physical appearance.    Still, it’s nice to receive compliments, and they are always gratefully received.

Now you’ve got me wondering how YOU feel about your appearance.  Please let me know in the comments section.

Song of the Day:  I’d Rather Charleston by George Gershwin

Heat Rave

June 10, 2008

A couple of you mentioned Bryce Courtenay’s The Power of One in yesterday’s comments. That just happens to be the book I bought in the thrift shop a couple of weeks ago. I read the book when it first came out in hardcover (about 18 years ago), and loved it. So I agree with Sunshyn and Michael. And, Mary, thank you for your recommendations. I’ve added The Once and Future King to my list. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest is a great movie. Is the book even better? Does anyone else have any recommendations? (Other than Mad magazine, my dear LA!)

In other news, I saw the new pain management doctor yesterday. She prescribed Lidoderm patches, Cymbalta (anti-depressants taken in small doses have been found to be helpful for pain), and the anti-inflammatory, Naproxen. The pharmacy bill for these meds came to a staggering $65. That might not seem like a lot of money to some of you, but it sure is to me, especially considering that I won’t be earning a paycheck over the summer.  The potential side effects are pretty alarming, as well.

Besides the medication therapy, I also have to go back for trigger point injections.  Dr PM could have performed the procedure yesterday, but said she will only do the injections if someone is there with me.  I explained that I didn’t drive, and had taken the Dial-A-Ride bus, but that wasn’t good enough for her.  She insists that someone has to accompany me when I have the injections.

I don’t want to take any more time off from work (other than on the 20th, when I am scheduled for the second series of Epidural Steroid Injections), so I’ll go back for the trigger point injections after school gets out.  (June 27th is our last day.) However, the way my back feels (it took a turn for the worse yesterday), I don’t know if I’ll make it until then…

Speaking of work, school will be dismissed at 11:30 this morning because of the excessively high temps. I’m hoping to catch a ride home with My Friend so I don’t have to walk in this god-awful heat.

Song of the Day: Too Darn Hot from Kiss Me Kate

Saw this over at Hil’s place and couldn’t resist doing it myself, being the book lover that I am.

Meme: The top 100 or so books most often marked as “unread” by LibraryThing’s users. Bold the books you have read, underline the ones you read for school, italicize the ones you started but didn’t finish.

Note: I can’t remember which, if any, I read for school – The Catcher in the Rye, perhaps…

Anna Karenina
Crime and Punishment
One Hundred Years of Solitude
Wuthering Heights

The Silmarillion
Life of Pi : a novel
The Name of the Rose
Don Quixote
Moby Dick
Madame Bovary
The Odyssey
Pride and Prejudice
Jane Eyre
The Tale of Two Cities
The Brothers Karamazov
(One of my favorites!)
Guns, Germs, and Steel
War and Peace
Vanity Fair
The Time Traveler’s Wife

The Iliad
The Blind Assassin

The Kite Runner
Mrs. Dalloway
Great Expectations
American Gods
A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius
Atlas Shrugged (Eww – Ayn Rand!)
Reading Lolita in Tehran : a memoir in books
Memoirs of a Geisha

Wicked : the life and times of the wicked witch of the West (This is on my “To-read” list.)
The Canterbury Tales
The Historian : a novel
A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man
Love in the Time of Cholera
Brave New World

The Fountainhead (My least favorite book. Honestly, I hated it.)
Foucault’s Pendulum
The Count of Monte Cristo

A Clockwork Orange (Loved the movie but never got around to reading the book.)
Anansi Boys
The Once and Future King
The Grapes of Wrath
The Poisonwood Bible
Angels & Demons

The Satanic Verses (It’s on my bookshelf, but I haven’t read it yet.)
Sense and Sensibility
The Picture of Dorian Gray

Mansfield Park
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest
To the Lighthouse (No, but I did read Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own.)
Tess of the D’Urbervilles
Oliver Twist

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
The Prince

The Sound and the Fury
Angela’s Ashes : a memoir
The God of Small Things

A People’s History of the United States : 1492-present
Neverwhere (This one is also on my “To-read” list.)
A Confederacy of Dunces
A Short History of Nearly Everything
The Unbearable Lightness of Being
The Scarlet Letter

Eats, Shoots & Leaves
The Mists of Avalon
Oryx and Crake
Collapse : how societies choose to fail or succeed
Cloud Atlas
The Confusion
Northanger Abbey
The Catcher in the Rye
On the Road

The Hunchback of Notre Dame
Freakonomics : a rogue economist explores the hidden side of everything
Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance
The Aeneid
Watership Down
Gravity’s Rainbow
The Hobbit
In Cold Blood : a true account of a multiple murder and its consequences
White Teeth
Treasure Island
David Copperfield

Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrel

I’m curious about how many of these books others have read. Leave a note in the comments, if you feel so inclined.

Currently Reading: The Third Angel by Alice Hoffman and The Awakening by Kate Chopin (The latter is a re-read)

Song of the Day: The Book I Read by Talking Heads

My plans for spring break didn’t go as expected. I only made it to one appointment (with the pain management specialist. The first facet joint injections are scheduled for May 2nd.). That was on Tuesday. I haven’t been out of the house since then because I’ve been laid low by a pretty nasty cold. Every day I feel worse instead of better.

I had been counting the days until spring break for weeks. I can’t begin to tell you how much I was looking forward to it. To add insult to injury, the weather has been spectacular. And I’m stuck in the house, sick. It’s just not right.

Yesterday, I had to decline an invitation to go to the Botanical Gardens with my cousin. On Sunday, I might have to bow out of a trip to NYC to see Spamalot. This really sucks.

Thank goodness for books. I read (and very much enjoyed) Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides, and then moved on to The Friday Night Knitting Club by Kate Jacobs (much lighter fare, but still enjoyable enough).

When I haven’t been reading, I’ve been knitting. This is a shawl-type scarf I’m working on. (It looks lacier in person. The yarn is 100% natural silk. By the way, I also made that afghan.)

I feel pretty miserable right now, so I’ll have to cut this short. I hope that everyone else is having a better time than I am.

Song of the Day: Adelaide’s Lament from Guys and Dolls

A person can develop la grippe,
La grippe.
La post nasal drip.
With the wheezes
And the sneezes
And a sinus that’s really a pip!

From a lack of community property
And a feeling she’s getting too old
A person can develop a bad, bad cold!