Thursday, December 31, 2009

Read Your Name 2010

I've been a little hesitant to join this challenge because A) I've already joined a bazillion for 2010, and B) I didn't think I could find any book titles that start with "U". Shockingly, I found a couple on my shelves, so I'm signing up for this (what may be my final) challenge. The rules are pretty simple - use your first name, pets' name, whatever name you'd like, and read books with first title letters that spell out the name. Sounds good to me! I'll be doing my first name. The contest runs for the entire year.

L: "Living Well with Hypothyroidism", Mary J. Shomon, February

A: "Angus, Thongs and Full-Frontal Snogging", Louise Rennison, March

U: "Up the Agency", Peter Mayle, December

R: "Royal Flush", Rhys Bowen, January

A: "The Arrival", Shaun Tan, January

Completed: December 23, 2010!

What's In A Name? 3rd Challenge, 2010

The What's in a Name? 3 Challenge, hosted by Beth Fish over here, should be kind of a tough challenge. I'm not sure if I'll be able to find the right books for each category, but I'm going to give it a shot anyway. The rules are that you read one book in each of the following categories:
  1. a book with a food in the title
  2. a book with a body of water in the title
  3. a book with a title (like queen or prince) in the title
  4. a book with a plant in the title
  5. a book with a place name (country, city, etc) in the title
  6. a book with a music term in the title.

Categories Completed:
1) "Chicken with Plums" by Marjane Satrapi, March 30
2) "Heart of the Sea" by Nora Roberts, July 2
3) "Doomed Queens" by Kris Waldherr, February 11
4) "Persephone and the Pomegranate" by Kris Waldherr, February 18
5) "Round About Chatsworth" by Duchess of Devonshire, July 29
6) "Evanly Choirs" by Rhys Bowen, April 21

Books can be in any format, and each title cannot be counted for more than one category. There's even a prize to be given away at the end of this challenge! Yahoo!

I'll be spending the afternoon making lists of books to read, I think. And honestly, it sounds like fun for me. What could be better than making lists of books?!?

Completed: July 29, 2010!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

TwentyTen Reading Challenge

This challenge sounded like too much fun to me! Hosted by Bart at bartsbookshelf. The rules:
  • Read 2 books from each category, for 20 books total.
  • The categories are intended to be loose guidelines only - if you decide it fits, it fits. (Apart from those marked **)
  • Categories marked with ** have tighter rules and these must be followed.
  • Each book can only qualify for one category.
  • Crossovers with other challenges are allowed.
  • Challenge lasts the entire 2010 calendar year.
The Categories

1. Young Adult
Any book classified as young adult or featuring a teenage protagonist counts for this category.
- "Viola in Reel Life" by Adriana Trigiani (January)
- "Briar Rose" by Jane Yolen (March)

2. T.B.R.**
Intended to help reduce the old T.B.R. pile. Books for this category must already be residents of your bookshelves as of November 1, 2009.
- "Scandals, Vandals, and da Vincis" by Harvey Rachlin (February)
- "Bronte Country" ed. by Glenda Leeming (February)

3. Shiny & New
Bought a NEW book in 2010? Then it counts.
-"Living Introverted" by Lee Ann Lambert (June)
-"Never Learn Anything from History by Kate Beaton (June)

4. Bad Blogger's**
These books were picked up purely on the recommendation of another blogger. (Any reviews should also link to the original post that convinced you.)
- "We Have Always Lived in the Castle" by Shirley Jackson. Recommended by Bad Blogger Eva at A Striped Armchair. Her review is here.
- "Godmother" by Carolyn Turgeon. Recommended by Bad Blogger Swapna Krishna at SKrishna'sBooks. Her review is here.

5. Charity
Purchased in a charity/thrift shop.
-"The Golden Bowl" by Henry James (July)

6. New in 2010
Newly published in 2010, whether it's the first time released, or the first time published in your country.
- "Wench" by Dolen Perkins-Valdez (February)
- "The Swan Thieves" by Elizabeth Kostova (March)

7. Older Than You
Books that were published before you were born.
- "Botchan", Natsume Soseki (February)
- "Carmilla", J Sheridan Le Fanu (March)

8. Win! Win!
Have a couple of books you need to read for another challenge? Then this is the category to use.
-"The Kitchen Boy", Robert Alexander (August)
-"Nicholas and Alexandra" Robert K. Massie (August)

9. Who Are You Again?
Authors you have never read or have never heard of before.
- Chris Abani (February)
- Kris Waldherr (February)

10. Up to You!
I'm choosing Graphic Novels for this category.
- "The Arrival", Shaun Tan (January)
- "The Watchmen", Alan Moore (February)

2010 is shaping up to be a great year of reading and reading challenges!!!

2010 Young Adult Reading Challenge

I'm excited to be joining this reading challenge, as I stalked it online for the last few months. I've really enjoyed reading YA books this year, and this will hopefully help me feel less guilty about it. Challenge is being hosted by J. Kaye at J. Kaye's Book Blog. The challenge runs from January 1 through December 31, 2010. There are four challenge levels to choose from. I'll be doing the Mini YA Reading Challenge of reading 12 YA novels.

1. "Viola in Reel Life" Adriana Trigiani, January

2. "Briar Rose" Jane Yolen, March

3. "Angus, Thongs and Full-Frontal Snogging" Louise Rennison, March

4. "The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar" Roald Dahl, April

5. "The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner" Stephenie Meyer, July

6. "Enthusiasm" Polly Shulman, October

7. "Finn Family Moomintroll" Tove Jansson, October

8. "The Vampire Diaries: The Awakeneing" L.J. Smith, October

9."The Vampire Diaries: The Struggle" L. J. Smith, October

10. "Hex Hall" Rachel Hawkins, October

11. "Where the Mountain Meets the Moon" Grace Lin, November

12. "Bunnicula" by Deborah & James Howe, December

I'm almost positive I can finish this level, and am hopeful I can move up to the next level, Just My Size, at 25 YA books to read. *crossing fingers*

Completed: December 2010

All About the Brontes Challenge 2010

This challenge, hosted by Laura over at Laura's Reviews, sounds like it's going to be right up my alley! The rules:

  • The challenge runs from January 1 through June 30, 2010.
  • You can read a book, watch a movie, listen to an audiobook - anything you like! Reading, watching, or listening for the second, third or more time is allowed.
  • You choose your own goal for this challenge. Changes to the goal are allowed (and probably encouraged).
To make this a little easier on myself (since I'd like to overlap for other challenges and don't have the brain power to figure out a good number), I'm going to shoot for a total of 3 items completed. However, I hope to get at least a few more in here!

1. "Bronte Country", ed. by Glenda Leeming (read Feb 11)



As of now (December '09) I'm planning on reading "Bronte Country" ed. by Glenda Leeming, "The Secret Diaries of Charlotte Bronte" by Syrie James, and "The Professor" by Charlotte Bronte.

Reading Through the Seasons 2010

This challenge should be fairly simple, as it's only four books! Book Dragon, over at Book Dragon's Lair is hosting this challenge. The rules are:
  • Four books, one for each season.
  • Title must have a season (not holiday) - winter, fall, autumn, spring, summer.
  • Challenge runs from January 1 through December 31, 2010.
I'm looking forward to this one, as it seems like the only one that I'll finish for sure!





Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Colorful Reading Challenge 2010

In anticipation of all of the books I'll be reading next year, and the reading challenges that go along with them, I'll be adding my 2010 reading challenges here in the next week or so. Since I'm new to this whole interwebs thing (especially blogging), if any of you notice something amiss here, please let me know.

Okay, for my first non-LibraryThing challenge, I present the Colorful Reading Challenge!

The rules are pretty simple - read 9 books with 9 different colors in the title. The challenge runs from January 1 - December 31, 2010. This should be lots of fun! Here's hoping that I can find 9 books that I already own (trying to cut back on book buying - yikes) with colors in the title! And big thanks to Rebecca for hosting!

1. "Briar Rose" by Jane Yolen, March

2. "The Golden Bowl" by Henry James, July

3. "Agnes Grey" by Anne Bronte, November

4. "My Trip Down the Pink Carpet" by Leslie Jordan, November






Wednesday, December 9, 2009

So if you guessed that I'm posting this to avoid working, you'd be right! You win! Congratulations - you should be receiving your free monkey soon.

Winter is officially here. I had to break out the snowblower and shovel this morning. This was the view out of my front window last night at 10pm. Yes, I assure you, I took that at 10pm...pretty stinkin bright, hey?!? This was right before I started losing electricity (five times in an hour and a half), and I was still wide awake, pulling blinds shut to remind my brain that it was actually night-time and that I should probably be getting to bed. Instead, I finished a book and watched The Golden Girls. You know, the usual.

Other than that, nothing much new has been happening. Lots of working, not a lot of paid hours, nothing new. Except for books, that is!

"Beg, Borrow, Steal: A Writer's Life"
- Michael Greenberg, 2009
ISBN: 9781590513415

From the back cover: "Beg, Borrow, Steal" is an autobiography in installments, set in New York, where the authoer depicts the life of a writer of little means trying to practice his craft -- or simply stay alive. He finds himself doctoring doomed movie scripts; driving traucks and taxis; selling cosmetics from an ironing board in front of a women's department store; writing about golf, a game he never played; and botching his debut as a waiter in a coveted four-star restaurant.

Central characters include the City of All Cities; Michael's father, whose scrap metal business looms large; his elegant mother; his first wife, Robin, whom he met in a Greenwich Village high school; their son, Aaron, who grew up on the Lower East Side; a repentant communist who fought in the Spanish Civil War; a Chilean filmmaker in search of his past; beggars who are poets; a man who becomes a woman; and rats who behave like humans and cease to live underground. Greenberg creates a world where the familial, the incongruous, the literary, the humorous, the tragic, and the mundane not only speak to each other, but deeply enjoy the exchange.

Thoughts: Once I finally committed myself to finishing this book, it was an enjoyable read. Like so many things, I had started this one, left it sitting on my coffee table for a month, and then got so sick of looking at the bland advanced proof cover that I made myself sit down and get it done with. And I really liked it! I didn't know anything about Mr. Greenberg or what his writing would be like and was pleasantly surprised with what I found. It didn't have a reading "flow" to it, and it worked out wonderfully. These 45 essays are like little snapshots of his life experiences - just enough to get a sense of what his worldview is and what he sees around him. It's good, but I don't know if it necessarily qualifies for all of the accolades it has been receiving.

"The Vintage Caper"
-Peter Mayle, 2009
ISBN: 0307269010

From Publishers Weekly: Mayle uncorks a winning wine caper in the tradition of "To Catch a Thief". When a hot-shot Hollywood lawyer's most treasured and expensive wines are stolen, his insurance company calls in Sam Levitt, a gourmand and lawyer-of-all-trades with a varied background, to investigate. The investigation takes Sam to Paris and Bordeaux, where he hooks up with the elegant insurance agent Sophie Costes, a fellow wine and food snob. The trail finally leads them to a man named Francis Reboul in Marseille, and soon, with the help of Sophie's journalist cousin, Phillipe, they get an in with Reboul and close in on closing the caper. While the plot may be predictable, the pleasures of this very French adventure—and there are many—aren't in the resolution, of course, but in the pleasant stroll through the provinces and in the glasses of wine downed and decadent meals consumed.

Thoughts: I really enjoyed this book. Then again, I always enjoy Peter Mayle. No matter if it's fiction or non-fiction his writing, stories, mysteries, etc, are a gentle escape from everyday life. This book is certainly no exception. Dealing with a wine theft from a conceited s.o.b., a wonderful trip to Marseille, and a bit of a who-dun-it, it was an easy read that I looked forward to getting back to every time I had to put it down. If you're in the mood to read a book for pleasure that's not fluff, "The Vintage Caper" will happily fit the bill.

And now, between loads of laundry, I'll be nosing around on book blogs, checking out reading challenges for 2010, and probably signing up for a few along the way. On a related note, I should check out a HTML book, or look for a class - I don't know how to make my blog look better, and how to better post sidebar things, etc. Any recommendations are very welcome! See you later!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Venice Is a Fish

"Venice Is a Fish"
-Tiziano Scarpa
ISBN: 9781592404070

Back cover: "Venice is a fish," writes Tiziano Scarpa. "It's like a vast sole stretched out against the deep. How did this marvelous beast make its way up the Adriatic and fetch up here, of all places?" Paying homage to his native city in a lyrical and evocative style, he guides readers down tiny alleys, over bridges, and through squares, daring us to lose ourselves, forget the guidebooks, and experience Venice as Venetians do.

Venice Is a Fish provides no hotel ratings or museum hours. Instead, in a delightful initiation, Scarpa tells us how to balance while standing on a gondola; where lovers will find the best secret hiding places; the finer points of etiquette and navigation during an agua alta; and how best to defend ourselves from the pitiless beauty of one of the world's most stimulating cities. Open Venice Is a Fish, and Scarpa's magnificent images, secret history, and hidden lore unfold like a treasure map of the senses.

Thoughts: This was a wonderful little book. Fantastic language and descriptions of places, people, and of everything about Venice. Scarpa is also a poet, and that comes through in his writing. "VIaF" is not to be gulped down in one sitting - it should be dipped into and savored in little bits, letting the words sink in and settle inside your bones. Each chapter is titled after a body part, and Scarpa spends each one describing what happens to each part while you're in the city. That might sound a little pretentious and/or pervy, but it's so dreamy and lush that I just floated along happily with him.

This book feels like Venice feels, and everything he says seems so possible, it wouldn't surprise me to walk into any scene he describes every time I turned a corner. Even the ones involving people doing all sorts of private business in the streets - it wouldn't surprise me to find any of them happening at any time. I was beginning to forget what the city is actually like - how the breeze feels on your arms, the way the sun cuts between the buildings, the locals shouting to each other across a small canal - and this book brought it back. I read it almost like I was in a dream state, happily being pulled along with Tiziano, like a hovering balloon or a shadow. This book is absolutely gorgeous and witty and unlike any other travel book I've ever seen. It's subtitled "a sensual guide", and it's a completely accurate description. A dreamy gem of a book!

Friday, November 27, 2009

I started this post over an hour ago, and had a nice picture and thoughts about being thankful, etc, and then I got sucked in to Antiques Roadshow on PBS and Lord knows where that first post went. Isn't technology grand?

There was some lady from Texas who was yapping about a pocket watch and how she couldn't trace the family story told by her rich father. The appraiser valued the watch at $30,000 to $50,000. Want to know the first words out of her mouth? "Well, would it be worth something more if I could verify the story?" !!!!! Seriously? You have a watch worth at least 30 grand, and you want more money? How greedy can one person get!?! She just looked around and said "Well, thanks y'all, it's been innerestin", in those exact words. That just made me sick, and I thought you could use a disgusting head shake on this Friday evening. You're welcome.

Since I'm sitting here at 10pm, you'd be right in assuming that I'm procrastinating Job #2 once again. I have a deadline of tomorrow night, so I do need to actually do something this time. I've got that penciled in to do after I get home from Job #1 tomorrow afternoon. I already can tell that I might be posting a similar message about 20 hours from now and am trying to bribe myself with a tasty pot of coffee and a cupcake as a reward for doing my job. I'll let you know if it works or not, but don't hold your breath.

In my procrastination this evening I've been reading some of my favorite book blogs. There is one girl who I wish I was, she reads so much. This girl has already read over 350 books this year, has at least one review a day, and has a job in the real world. Amazing, right? I'm totally in awe and happily spent a half hour reading some of her reviews. It makes my maybe-a-book-a-week average completely sad and pathetic.

To add to my not-reading woes, I returned an audiobook to the library a couple of days ago and picked up 4 books on my way out. What? One of them is a new book that is due in 7 days...well, in 5 now. We'll see if that happens or not. (I'm guessing not.)

OK, extremely tired now and am pretty sure I mixed my verb tenses and didn't always make sense. If you read this blog on a semi-regular basis, you should be used to that stuff by now. Off to have Will & Grace and The Golden Girls serenade me in the background while I try to read.

Friday, November 20, 2009

It's friggin' Friday

And still not much is done. I'm FINALLY starting to get motivated, and now I only have an hour free before I need to go to a meeting for Job #1, then stop and pick up some chestnuts on the way home, work for another hour or two, and go to a home party at a friends' house. Yeah.

However, I did have breakfast with a friend today that was pretty helpful. We're both in the same industry, we think alike, and have similar outlooks... and of course, she's about twice my age. (In case you didn't know at least half of my really good friends are in their late forties to mid-sixties.) At least once a month, more often if we can swing it, we meet for a cheap-o breakfast and sit and talk for a couple of hours about what is going on in our lives, what we think about continuing to work in this industry, ramifications and options on both sides, any health issues, roots of problems, etc etc etc. It's really quite nice. We talked about lots of stuff today and I really realized that while Job #2 is perfect in a lot of ways, it's not something that I'd like to keep on doing. Not that I'm going to run out and quit, but there are so many layers and it's such a huge time commitment (more mentally than anything else) that it's making me crazy. It's why my friend gave it up and passed it on to me - she couldn't take it any more either. I feel the same way, and it's happening at the same time that it did for her, too. Is it the job then? Or is it us? Ugh, who knows?!?! We've been brainstorming about a business we can work on together that is creative and flexible and fun, and she questions me about things that no one else really does (or rather, that few do), and we're making some progress. It might not seem like progress to anyone else but us, but I assure you, it's something. It's exciting and makes me think in a way that I haven't in a long-ass time. A nice change.

Wow, what a ramble.

On another note, I'm not getting any reading done. Unless you count US Weekly and People magazine, that is. Isn't it like this for you too? There are certain times when you can read like nobody's business for a few weeks, and then you just stare at books for a few weeks thinking "I should probably finish that. Hmph. I wonder what's on BBC America now." I'd still like to try and finish my challenge for the year, but reading 13 (or is it 14?) books AND all of Les Miserables in the next 6 weeks seems unlikely.

Maybe I'm just in a pre-holiday slump, like in college - don't write that paper/read that book/work on that presentation until the last possible second and then look out! I'll be working like the house is on fire for 2 days! I think that's what this is. And I should really be getting back to it. As I've confirmed this week, things don't get done on their own - dammit!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Ah, home for a week!

Yes, that's right, I'm home this week! Unfortunately it's not for fun stuff that I'd like to do - it's for Job #2, which has been royally neglected for so long I'd rather not figure it out. That being said, I have done zero work for it so far today. In my defense, it is my Mom's birthday (Happy Birthday, Mom!) and we went out for lunch at Baker's Square. Plus, I've been sleeping like crap lately, but I'll get to that later. So anyway, I got dropped off here about an hour ago with the intention of making a list and getting groceries, going to the post office, and then to Target, all before 4pm. Yeah. That's totally going to happen. Instead, I've been reading and laughing out loud at (thanks, J!), and just generally wishing I didn't have any work to do.

One of the trickier points about being at home to work is that lots of people (okay, mostly me) want to go out and run errands and meet up for breakfast/lunch/dinner/drinks/coffee and do things we'd really like to do but don't because I have such a weird schedule, in that I don't have one. I'm making all of these mental plans to do fun things when really I need to be sitting here in my sweatpants giving myself wrinkles and computer headaches and getting some sh*t done. I have visions of waking up at 7, making a little breakfast, taking a shower, and starting to work like I have a Real Desk Job, with the added bonus of being able to do laundry at the same time. The reality of my life is not related to that fantasy land I think I operate in. Sad. But I do need to get some food in this house that is not cereal or freezer-burned, and I do need to go to the post office. And I'm on my last roll of paper towels. Not so great when you have cats that are having an un-advertised Hairballpalooza. So yes, I do need to get my butt in gear and get things done so I can stay home and work.

The lack of motivation on my part is also partially sleep-related. I'm getting 6 to 9 hours of sleep, but it's not restful. I wake up tired. I fall asleep tired. After I'm up for an hour in the morning, I could use a serious nap. That feeling of needing to sleep never goes away. It makes it hard to focus (literally and figuratively), hard to concentrate, and next to impossible to do anything physically aside from sitting or lying down. I might look normal, but on the inside I'm constantly fighting to pay attention, or walk around, or complete this sentence I started saying... it's not good. I'm not entirely sure what to do about that. It's exhaustion, certainly, but is it something else? And if so, what the hell could it be? I don't like to think about it, so I ignore it and keep on trying to function and operate like I normally do. I don't like to bring it up or talk about it because people either A) say "can't you go to the doctor? you always say there's something wrong, but friggin do something about it already" or B) give me this look like yeah-right-I'm-tired-too-you're-so-dramatic-and-obviously-lying-because-you-don't-look-or-act-differently-I'm-sick-of-this-crap-from-you. I can't afford to really investigate what might be going on, either monetarily or time-wise, and there aren't any big signposts pointing the way to what's wrong. So I keep on going like this because I don't know what else to do and to everyone else I seem fine and seem to be doing okay. But if you ever see me or talk to me, I'll say I'm fine when really my brain is yelling I JUST WANT TO LAY DOWN or CONCENTRATE ON WHAT IS GOING ON or PAY ATTENTION DON'T DRIFT OFF. Ugh. Any advice on how to handle this that will not cost me an arm and a leg is appreciated.

So, that being said, I need to get going to run those errands and then come back here to not-work and not-sleep but instead stare at the wall and guilt myself into oblivion over the one billion things that are not being done and need to get done. Oh, and I'm going to try and finish a book today too... yes, I may be officially insane. Later!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

The fall of Fall

Fall seems to be coming to a close. It looked like it would last much longer this year - acorns were bombing my house rhythmically and systematically, the leaves were turning colors slowly, they were staying on trees for what seemed like forever - and then suddenly, WHOOMP! They all plummeted to the ground seemingly overnight, bringing the temperature along for the ride. So now not only do the trees look as if they're bracing themselves for winter, yards everywhere need to be raked and de-leaved for the changing of the seasons. I, of course, raked my yard on the windiest day possible, so my Yardwork Joy was at least doubled, if not tripled. Yay. (Note: the previous sentence should be read with a straight face and no vocal inflections.)

Anyway, while my Favoritest-Of-Seasons is taking its last gasps, that means Winter is on the way. The bad part about that is the never-ending shoveling and constant fear of wiping out on black ice in front of dozens of strangers. The good part is that it means that it's much more acceptable, nay EXPECTED, that one should hunker down with a book for extended periods of time! Yippee!!!

In my obsessive need to finish the 999 Challenge, I need to read 14 more books by the end of the year. That in itself is not a problem. The fact that I have to read a particular 14 is what is irking me right now. It's not that I don't want to read these certain books, I really and truly do, it's that there are SO many more that I really want to read and I feel like I'm missing out on something by having a limited selection. I realize that the 101010 Challenge will start in 2 short months, and I can resume reading what I want when I want, but still... I want to read "Wolf Hall" now, not in 2 months' time! Anyone else out there have the same reading issues?

On a positive note, I seem to be in some sort of place where my work schedule is actually doing what I'd like it to do! I hate to post this for fear of jinxing myself, but the past 2 weeks have been wonderful. On the 3 or 4 days that I work, I have multiple appointments with Job #1, and then I have 3 or 4 days "off" to work here at home, whether on Job #2 or just on picking up this dump. It's a Miracle, I tell you! A Miracle! I even took a nap on Saturday, and it was almost a guilt-free experience! (Hey, I'm working on it.) If things keep on happening like this, I might actually begin to relax more in my down time instead of freaking out about the hundred things I should be doing. Things are looking up!

Yet another positive thing is that I seem to have more time for reading. Since it currently gets dark at 4:30 here, I'm spending less time running around and more time at home getting stuff done. My new normal is to come home, put on pajamas, a Netflix, and then to check out email, have some dinner, maybe watch an hour or two of TV, and then put on a record (yes, an actual record), grab a book and a blanket, and spend some serious time with a book in my hands. And a cat on my lap, of course. It's really quite nice.

Well, speaking of, I should probably have some dinner and then grab the nearest book and hit the couch. Stay warm out there!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Tuesday Thoughts

Well, I'm back, and am mostly recovered from Saturdays' Read-a-Thon. The cold that I hoped I wasn't getting, I now have. It's super fantastic, coughing your lungs out every 10 minutes or so. Someone called and asked me why I wasn't working today. Um, because I don't think clients would appreciate a barking cough during their massage, that's why. It's not exactly restful and relaxing, believe me.

And as promised, here's my final wrap-up of the 'Thon.

It felt indulgent and naughty to stay up and read for 24 hours, like I was skipping out of school. I kept expecting neighbors to wander over at 3AM, wondering what I was doing, but of course that didn't happen. In my over-planning for the event, I got myself too excited about updating every hour, doing mini-challenges, reading and commenting on others' blogs, wondering what snacky food to eat next... next time around, I'm going to simplify. I also thought I'd get to read (and review) two ARC copies I have, but just getting through the first one took longer than I thought. In the end, I should have picked books that I knew I wouldn't have to be intensely vigilant about paying attention to, and I should have tried to work out a better way to read the graphic novels I had as well.

For next time, I'll have a smaller pool of books (or just pick 2 or 3 I really want to read) instead of 40, I'll make more of an effort to spend more time actually reading, and I'll try to change up my reading locations. Nothing wrong with the good old couch, but that's where I spent all of my time. Also, I'll clean my house the day before, so I'm not tempted to sort through a stack of mail or do dishes instead of read. (Those of you who know me may think you mis-read that last sentence, but I assure you, my bin of dirty dishes was a real distraction. I know... I think I'm losing my mind too.)

The one thing that really surprised me (aside from how I didn't meet my personal goals - ugh!) was how many people out there have book blogs. I read so many, and had a lot of nice comments, from people all over the world! It was so much fun to read about what other people were reading! And it has been fun to go back and check out many other blogs in the aftermath of the 'Thon. I'm really looking forward to the next one in April!

Alright, back to coughing and cleaning up for me! Hope you are all doing well.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

At the end

OK, here are my final totals. I've got 17 pages left of my book, but I'm counting it as being finished.

Total pages read: 880
Total time read: 13 hours, 57 minutes
Blogs visited: 32
Books completed: 5
Mini-challenges done: 9

I'll do another post tomorrow oops I mean later today with a picture of the books read, final thoughts, etc.

Off to Bedfordshire for me! Good night everyone, and thanks for a great 'Thon!

End of Event Meme

Thought I'd complete this before I hit the book one last time...

1) Which hour was most daunting for you?
Honestly, I think the last two are hardest.

2) Could you list a few high-interest books that you think could keep a Reader engaged for next year?
I liked "The Turn of the Screw" by Henry James
"The Little Prince" by Antoine de Sainte-Exupiry
any of the Stephanie Plum series by Janet Evanovich

3) Do you have any suggestions for how to improve the Read-a-thon next year?

4) What do you think worked really well in this years' Read-a-thon?
I really enjoyed the mini-challenges, the cheering, and getting to read so many book blogs.

5) How many books did you read?
I'm going to predict that I'll have 5 finished, even though I'm not quite done with number 5.

6) What were the names of the books you read?
-"Come On Shore and We Will Kill and Eat You All: A New Zealand Story" by Christina Thompson
-"The Yellow-Lighted Bookshop" by Lewis Buzbee
-"All Quiet on the Western Front" by Erich Maria Remarque (not too sure of spelling right now)
-"The Turn of the Screw" by Henry James
-"A Royal Pain" by Rhys Bowen

7) Which book did you enjoy most?
It's a toss-up between Turn of the Screw, Yellow-Lighted, and Royal Pain, all for different reasons.

8) Which did you enjoy last?
Without a doubt, hands down, "All Quiet...". It's a wonderful book and very affecting (effecting?), but not a good motivator, kind of gross to listen to while eating, and generally depressing. I liked the book very much, but it was NOT a good pick for me for this 'thon.

9) If you were a Cheerleader, do you have any advice for next year's Cheerleaders?
I wasn't a Cheer-er this year, but I'm thinking about it for next time.

10) How likely are you to participate in the Read-a-thon again? What role would you likely take next time?
I'll read again for sure, and maybe cheer. There were lots of good mini-challenges, so I'll think about doing one too.

Now...finish that darn book!

Hour 24

This is going to be the most difficult, I fear. I've caught myself too many times to count, with the book almost falling out of my hands.

Pages read: 58
Time reading: 45 minutes

Total pages read: 815
Total time reading: 13 hrs, 21 minutes

I'm going to try and really buckle down to finish this darned book in the next hour!

Hour 23

For some reason, I'm awake more now than I was an hour ago.

Pages read: 46
Time reading: 32 minutes

Total pages read: 757
Total time reading: 12 hours, 36 minutes

I'm going to try and finish this book before the 'thon is over, and I'm just about halfway through.

Hour 22

Or, I can't believe I'm still awake. Well, mostly. And with the exception of a surprise 10 minute nap, I've been awake the whole time.

Having a grand old time reading A Royal Pain.

Pages read: 45
Minutes read: 45

Total pages: 711
Total time reading: 12 hours, 4 minutes
Blogs visited: 3
Books completed: 4

Hour 21

Currently reading the book to your left, "A Royal Pain", by Rhys Bowen. It's a light, funny little mystery so far, I'm hoping it takes me through without nodding off.

Pages read: 44
Minutes read: 31 minutes

Total pages: 666 (eek!)
Total time reading: 11 hours, 19 minutes
Blogs visited: 4
Books completed: 4

Haven't decided if I'll participate in either of the 2 mini-challenges going on currently. I'll press on, but if I find myself not-so-conscious, I'll be back for extra posts.

Hour 19

Vision is starting to blur a little. It took me quite a while to finish this slim little book. Really great, creepy, and intense. A good 'thon pick, overall. I have 4 more books I'd really like to read, so I'll go with what feels right when I pick my next one in a few minutes.

Pages read: 36
Minutes read: 54 minutes

Total pages: 622
Total time reading: 10 hours, 48 minutes
Blogs visited: 1
Books completed: 4

Mini-challenge of the hour- Go to page 23 of the book you're currently reading / will be reading next and find the most entertaining phrase to complete this sentence: "I would rather read than _____ any night!"

I would rather read than have all eyes in the Savoy on me any night!
(From A Royal Pain by Rhys Bowen)


Time for another tally!

Pages read: 90
Minutes read: 1 hour, 12 minutes

Total pages: 586
Total time reading: 9 hours, 54 minutes
Blogs visited: 5
Books completed: 3

Almost finished with The Turn of the Screw. It's creepy, which is good since it's keeping me awake and the sleepiness is lurking closer. Recently took a break, watched a rerun of "House", had some chicken curry and Mountain Dew (I'm trying to get a boost here, people), and enviously watched my cats sleep curled together for a few minutes. Sigh...

I'd really like to finish at least 1 more full book before this thing is over. I planned on starting "Les Miz" during the 'Thon, but that's looking less likely right now. Whatever it's going to be, I hope it's not hardcover and I hope that don't ever lay down while reading, or I'm dunzo, either by falling asleep, or by getting my nose broken because the book fell on my face because I fell asleep.

Maybe throwing another log on the fire would help keep me awake?

Another mini-challenge

This time, we're meant to list our top 5 children's books.

Here, in no particular order, are...

1) "Caddie Woodlawn" by Carol Ryrie Brink. I know it's not a childrens book outright, but every summer my Mom would read it to me under the apple tree in our backyard.

2) The entire "Toot and Puddle" series by Holly Hobbie

3) "Treat Shop", a collection of short stories for children that was first published in the late 60's/early 70's

4) "The Little Rabbit Who Wanted Red Wings" by Carolyn Sherwin Bailey

5)"The Little House" series by Laura Ingalls Wilder. My favorite in the series is the first, "Little House in the Big Woods". It seemed so real and full of possibilities when I was young. And of course, her name is the same as mine and it takes place in my home state, Wisconsin. I always pictured myself like her.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Hour 17

Mini-Challenge: Dance-a-thon!

This little challenge is just what it says - a dance break! I'm starting to feel a little tired (but no naps so far, yahoo), and this is just what I needed.

I danced to "I Don't Feel Like Dancing" by the Scissor Sisters, and for an encore performance, "Break the Ice" by Britney Spears.

Back to hitting the books and some more relaxed music. Beethoven for Book Lovers, perhaps?

Hour 13, Part 2

Mid-event Survey

1) What are you reading right now? I'm between books currently.

2) How many books have you read so far? Three

3) What book are you most looking forward to for the second half of the Read-a-thon? Nothing jumps out, but A Royal Pain should be lots of fun.

4) Did you have to make any special arrangements to free up your whole day? Not since my sole client cancelled yesterday. What a blessing!

5) Have you had many interruptions? How did you deal with those? I've had a couple of phone calls, but most people know that I'm doing this Read-a-thon so they've been short conversations. The only other interruptions I've had have been my own, or my brain checking out on me while reading. I don't think I can really "read" my armchair, despite where I find my eyes drifting!

6) What surprises you most about the Read-a-thon, so far? Honestly, at how hard a time I'm having with this. I've lamented not being able to read all day previously, but now that the time has come, I'm finding myself wanting to do other things, like put away the clean dishes, or do laundry. Also, I'm surprised at how far I am - or rather, how far I'm not.

7) Do you have any suggestions for how to improve the Read-a-thon next year? Nope!

8) What would you do differently, as a Reader or a Cheerleader, if you were to do this again next year? I'd clean my house up first, so there would be less distractions. I'd start with lighter and / or shorter books. "All Quiet on the Western Front" was not a good choice for me, in hindsight. Also, I'd probably work in a re-read or two, just to give myself a little break.

9) Are you getting tired yet? Yes, but my V8 Fusion juice is surprisingly helpful! Plus, taking a shower and running an errand, though still listening to an audiobook, was a nice change.

10) Do you have any tips for other Readers or Cheerleaders, something you think is working well for you that others may not have discovered? I'm sure others have done and are doing this, but an audiobook was good foresight. When my eyes and arms needed a break, I could close them and listen away. I might get a Janet Evanovich audiobook for the next time, they are too funny, and would really be a break.

Hour 13

I have finally finished "All Quiet on the Western Front"! Yahoo! It was wonderful and terrible all at the same time. A great book - just don't read it while eating.

I've also finished "The Yellow-Lighted Bookshop". Have to say, it's one of my favorites of all time.

Pages read: 292
Minutes read: 1 hour, 37 minutes

Total pages: 496
Total time reading: 8 hours, 42 minutes
Blogs visited: 0
Books completed: 3
No mini-challenges this time around.

Was starting to get tired, but after drinking some V8 V-Fusion juice, I do feel better. Maybe I'll have to hook up an IV of this stuff for the next read-a-thon!

Hour 12

I have FINALLY finished a book for this challenge, and have been listening to "AQotWF" for quite awhile now. If my math is correct (which it probably isn't) I should finish up with AQ in about an hour and a half. After about 6 hours of death, fighting, war, and depression I need a break. The only question is, what should I read next?

I'll include the page count for "All Quiet" once it's over and done with.

Pages read: 40
Minutes read: 241

Total pages: 204
Total time reading: 7 hours, 5 minutes
Blogs visited: 4
Books completed: 1
Mini-challenges: Intro, Google Maps, Hourly Reader Post, Best Title Sentence

On to something short and light!

Hour 8

Still listening to "All Quiet...", getting ready to hop in the shower and run an errand, all while still listening to this book. Oy.

Not bad, just not a great choice for listening to while eating. I was just starting to eat my sandwich when he started to describe the rotting corpses. Lovely.

Not sure how to count page numbers for this, so on my next break I'll head over to Amazon and do a page-count-average for the book.

I'm gonna keep on keepin' on!

Hour 7

Almost done with "Come on Shore,..." and currently listening to "All Quiet on the Western Front". Way to be easy on myself. (Did that make sense?)

Pages read: 108
Minutes read: 101

Total pages: 164
Total minutes: 3 hours, 4 minutes
Blogs visited: 9
Books completed: 0
Mini-challenges: Intro, Google Maps, Hourly Reader Post, Best Title Sentence

Need to put something in my body aside from coffee, delicious as it may be.


The Dead Man Walks into a Room, Lost in a Good Book

Just starting Hour 4

Still reading "Come on Shore..."

Pages read: 56
Minutes read: 47

Total pages: 108
Total minutes: 83
Total mini-challenges: 2, Hours 1 and 3
Blogs visited: 7
Books completed: 0

Hour 2 and 3

OK, since I'm in to hour 3, I think I've figured out where I need to be, post-wise.

Current book: Come On Shore.... by Christina Thompson
Minutes read: 36
Pages read: 52

Mini-challenges: Hour 1 (intro) and Hour 3 (google map)

Sadly, these are my totals so far as well. Still trying to get the hang of this reading / mini-challenging / blogging thing.

The book is pretty good, though I'm getting myself confused by trying to remember every Maori word and translation I come across. Relax! If I need to remember what it says, I'm sure the author will tell me again!

Hour 1

I found out my client cancelled for today, so instead of going in to work, I'll be here, reading!!! Of course, that doesn't mean that I didn't accidentally oversleep by an hour and a half, and consequently have a late start here. Anyway....

1st Mini-Challenge

Where are you reading from today?: Various places in my house, primarily the couch and big red chofa (that's chair / sofa).

3 facts about me: I'm a lifelong booklover and reader, I have 2 cats that are essentially my children, and I'm an only child.

How many books do you have in your TBR pile for the next 24 hours?: 36. Can you say crazy?

Do you have any goals for the Read-a-thon?: I'd like to try for 18 hours of reading, and 5 books completed.

That's it! It's my first time, so I'm not sure how to exactly pace myself, or if my expectations are insane or not. Also, I think I'm an hour behind on posting. Hm...I'll try and fix that.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Out with the old...

Adios, Goldie. It's been great, what with you cooking things in half the time, and burning the edges of baked goods while leaving the center surprisingly raw. Time to put you out of your (and my) misery.

And hello, gorgeous! I can't believe I finally have a new stove! It's white! And has a flat cooktop! And, what I really can't get over is the window in the oven door! No more singeing eyelashes while checking to make sure dinner isn't on fire. And there's even a light inside. And a built-in timer that is silent, instead of so loud that you could hear it in my bedroom at the opposite end of the house. Did I mention the window? AMAZING!!! I can't get over it. A window? I finally used it for the first time today, with quite a bit of apprehension. It boiled a full pot of water in 6 minutes, as opposed to over 20 minutes! The oven works great too.

Only one little thing... my entire house smells like hot plastic.

I picked up a few more titles for the Read-a-thon on Saturday. Because 30 just didn't seem like enough. My new library titles are:

Magyk and Flyte by Angie Sage
The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery
Barrel Fever by David Sedaris
The Fugitive Queen by Fiona Buckley
Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi
Maus II by Art Spiegelman
American On Purpose by Craig Ferguson
In Dublin's Fair City by Rhys Bowen
I Like You by Amy Sedaris

Watch, now I'll probably only end up reading 2 books since I have so stinkin' many. At any rate, I'm still excited about this Saturday. I've already got some food on hand, I've stocked up on coffee and creamer, and even toothpicks for my eyelids if it comes to that.

I may not be back between now and then, but you can expect a post an hour on Saturday, starting in the morning. Wish me luck! And that the plastic smell is gone by bedtime so I can sleep tonight!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Here I am again. Blogging twice in one day! Still drinking coffee!! Still in my pajamas!!! Will wonders never cease?

I've just been reading up on this 24-hour thing, and I'm supposed to post a list of books I intend on reading. So, um, here's my list.

In case you can't read microscopic print, here's an actual list of the books...

From top to bottom, right to left, they are:

"Come On Shore and We Will Kill and Eat You All" by Christina Thompson (An ARC to review)
"Beg, Borrow, Steal" by Michael Greenberg (Another ARC to review)
"The Circular Staircase" by Mary Roberts Rinehart
"The Turn of the Screw and Daisy Miller" by Henry James
"Yoga for People Who Can't Be Bothered To Do It" by Geoff Dyer
"Dream of a Thousand Lives" by Karen Connelly
"Driving Over Lemons" by Chris Stewart
"Falling Off the Map" by Pico Iyer
"Venice is a Fish" by Tiziano Scarpa
"Anatomy of the Spirit" by Caroline Myss
"Out of Africa" by Isak Dinesen
"Salt" by Mark Kurlansky
"Armadale" by Wilkie Collins
"The Yellow-Lighted Bookshop" by Lewis Buzbee
the red-spined book you can't really see is "Bitter is the New Black" by Jen Lancaster
"Dear Fatty" by Dawn French
"Audition" by Barbara Walters
"Official Book Club Selection" by Kathy Griffin
"The Virgin Blue" by Tracy Chevalier
"Her Royal Spyness" by Rhys Bowen
"A Royal Pain" by Rhys Bowen
"Bookends" by Jane Green
"The Seven Daughters of Eve" by Bryan Sykes
"Tilt" by Nicholas Shrady
and last but not least "Les Miserables" by Victor Hugo

Now to be fair, these are the books that I need to read by the end of the year to complete my 999 Challenge on LibraryThing. I didn't just pluck them off of the shelf and say "hey, I think I'm going to try and read ALL of these in 24 hours". Despite what you may think, I'm not insane. I'd just really like to get as many of these done as possible, and that will give me enough wiggle room to skip around when I'm sick of reading a book.

I should really get a move on if I'm going to be showered and wearing actual clothes for the movie tonight. I'm thinking it would be appreciated. OK, later!

Oh, I almost forgot - that little stack on top of the big stack contains some alternates and books that are due at the library before the read-a-thon starts. They are:

"Persuasion" by Jane Austen
"Daughter of Time" by Josephine Tey
"The Dark Secret of Weatherend" by John Bellairs
"The Clutter-Busting Handbook" by Rita Emmett
and "Chocolate, Please" by Lisa Lampanelli

I think that's enough book talk for now. Peace out!

Rainy Thursday....

It's almost 1:30 in the afternoon, and I'm still in pajamas. Awesome! I've been waiting for a day like today (kinda crappy outside, chilly, nowhere to go until tonight) for quite some time. It's an actual day off and I'm only sort-of feeling guilty about it. A massive improvement, believe me. Even though I've been doing some quick work for job #2, it hasn't been a buzz-kill (sp?) and I can still chill and watch TV stress-free. So this is that "relax" thing people keep talking about!

Both jobs have been pretty busy the last few weeks, which is good and bad, and I have some exciting news on that front. I'm going to get actual support at job #1! I know! We have another therapist that is going to work full-time (she was only part-time before), another soon-to-be-grad who will be working full-time, and 5 or 6 more part-timers, all by the end of the month! I am so stinkin excited it's a little sad.

The soon-to-be-grad and I were talking about how working at the clinic actually is, and how we could better advertise our services to boost our business. She asked why I hadn't done any of it before on my own, and while I was trying to think of why that was she said "Oh, you know I just realized that if you had done that, you would have just shot yourself in the foot. You're the only one working here, you're here at least 5 days a week, usually 6 or 7, and you have another job. Once I'm up here, you'll finally have some support"! And I have to be honest that I was so happy I started crying. Not a big huge heaving sob-fest or anything, but a nice holy-crap-I'm-getting-help-and-I-so-desperately-need-it kind of a cry. Thank God for that!

Job #2 is still being mostly neglected. Once I'm able to be home more to work on it, that will all change. There are going to be some decent-sized changes in my schedule in the next 2 weeks, and I can hopefully figure out some regular working time. That's all I really want. A little more stability at work so I can maybe start to have a personal life would be great. And how sad is it that that last sentence is true? Ugh.

Anyway, on to more fun things, i.e. reading. I'm up to 59 books read this year, with only 22 to go. I think I may have a shot at completing this challenge by the end of the year. And to that effect (or is it affect? I can never remember which is which), I'll be doing a 24-hour Read-a-thon on October 24. The rules are that you read what you want, when you want, for however long you want and you blog about it. There are prizes to be won, people to help cheer you should be a good time. Well, if you're a Reading Nerd like me, that is.

Unfortunately I have to work in the morning on the 24th, so I'll be starting later, but as soon as I'm done, I'm going to stay home, no distractions, and just read and blog for as long as I can stay awake. I can't wait to read for this extended chunk of time, and I'm hoping to get at least 5 books read and off of my shelf! Plus, my book posts by hour 12 or so should be fairly entertaining, so stay tuned if you need a good laugh.

Alright, I'd better eat some lunch (I'm thinking a chicken salad sandwich), and take a shower. I'm going to see "Bright Star" tonight at the movies, and I'm looking forward to popcorn and a nice period romance in the theater, instead of on my couch like normal.

Hope you're all having a nice Thursday!

Friday, September 11, 2009

September 11, 2009

“I started doing chest compressions on him, outside St. Luke’s hospital, even though he was grey. His left leg was mutilated and grey, his clothes were grey, his teeth were grey. I could feel him slipping. I looked at his eyes and even they were grey. You know, I never really look anyone in the eyes. Not really. When he rolled his eyes up at me, those were the longest 5 seconds of my life.”

My God, where am I? What time is it? What day is it? Oh…right…it’s September 11, 2009. The eighth anniversary. As I slowly wake up, I wonder why my ears are wet. Then I realize that it’s because I’m crying with my eyes closed. Wiping the tears away, I can hear Dave and Carole on the radio talking about That Day, playing sound clips from survivors and films and from what they remember. For a little while, I don’t know what year it is.

I’m back in my car, driving to my old job working for corporate America. It’s a job I both hate and enjoy. I like the work enough, it’s busy work, and I can listen to an audiobook or the radio while I do it. At this point in my life, it’s enough that I make a livable wage after college and it’s not grunt work (well, not really). I like the people I work with and I hate them at the same time. They are so annoying! Everyone else has been working there since they were straight out of high school. Most everyone is in their 40’s and 50’s now. That many women together for that long is not necessarily a good thing. They know too much about each other and everything is a bitter excuse to bitch behind their back. This is what I walked in to when I took the job after a year of temping for them. Because I was fresh meat, or because I’m not a crabby person, every person there liked me. And talked to me. About everyone else. And if I had a nickel for every time someone said to me “How can you stand talking to her?”, I would be a very rich person right now. Very rich. With a daily start time of 7:30 I was “the late starter” and got endlessly teased for it. They all thought that I was lazy and couldn’t get out of bed at 4 to start my day at 6:30 like they all did. Seriously? Who wakes up at 4 am to sit in a cubicle and feel like shit all day? This job was not that important, and there was absolutely zero reason to start that early. We’re in Milwaukee, with only an hour difference from the great East Coast time zone that we all balance ourselves on because of New York City, even though no one in our company works there, or anywhere on the East Coast for that matter. It was ridiculous. So, since 7:30 was the latest I could start, I took it. If I’m going to loathe the day and my having to be there, there was no way in hell I was going to do it an hour earlier just because. So I put up with the sarcastic “Well, good morning”s and “Oh, are we tired today”s. Nice. Thanks a lot.

Aside from what I’ve just said about my former co-workers, I like them well enough individually. It’s just the pack mentality that I can’t stand. The lady who works on the other side of my cubicle wall from me is nice but incredibly annoying. She and her husband never had children, and instead had dogs. But they weren’t just pets, they were show dogs as well, and did their own breeding. Maybe it’s just me, but you should never have to hear about dog sperm more than once in your lifetime at the office. I heard about it every day, even through headphones, for six years. Certain phrases you can always pick out of conversations – sex, penis, oh-my-god, you’re-kidding – add dog sperm to that list. The other people that sat around me all had their quips and quoibles, but Dog Sperm took the cake. She also only listened to extreme conservative right-wing radio and had a pin on her cubicle wall that said “Hell is full of Liberals”. Nice. Believe what you want to, it really doesn’t offend me, but when you are the kind of person that does not listen when anyone is talking, instead spending your time of thinking what to say next, I’m really not a big fan of you. It’s so plainly written on her face that I want to shake her and say “Where are you? I’m trying to talk to you, and all you’re concerned about is trying to get some jibe in and “prove” that you’re smart! Please.” This is the kind of thing I had to deal with all day, every day.

I woke up on September 11, 2001 like any other day. Begrudgingly, slowly, talking myself into forward motion at all times. I wake up to my local classic rock station. I’ve been listening to them since I was in sixth grade. Dave & Carole were almost like family in a strange way, and they weren’t your typical annoying “shock jock” personalities, always trying to fit a joke in. They covered the news normally, had interesting guests in (musicians, comedians, local government officials) and while they always covered the right topics, you also got to know a little about what that person was really like. It’s like you’re watching a serious news channel, and then you get to watch as they all go grab a cup of coffee and chat afterwards.

I turned my alarm off, walked into the bathroom, turned the radio on, and did the usual (shower, shave, makeup, comb through my hair), got dressed and ran to the car, 2 minutes late as usual. On the drive to work, I could feel something that wasn’t quite right. I couldn’t explain it, but things just felt “off”. I’m fairly used to experiencing that, having seen spirits and things my whole life, but this was different. This was larger scale. As I was driving down Bluemound Road, I heard Carole say “reports are coming in that one of the Twin Towers in New York City is on fire.” My stomach dropped a few inches. For the next few minutes, I realized that I was never going to forget this day. By the time I whipped into the parking lot, we knew that a plane flew into the first tower. How is that possible? How could a plane accidentally fly into the biggest thing in the New York skyline? I keyed into the building, ran into my bosses’ office and sort of yelled “The twin towers are on fire, a plane flew into them”. I ran to my desk, sat down and put on my radio Walkman to keep listening. Half of the office came dribbling by, one by one, asking about what I had just said. Really? Is it true? Yes, put on 96.5, they’re covering it live from CNN. Dog Sperm didn’t believe me. They hadn’t said anything on Her radio station yet. Well, believe it, lady. The next hour or so is kind of a blur for me. I sat in my cubicle, eyes wide open, tears welling up as I listened to everything unfold. DS kept coming over to “report the latest” which was at least 5 minutes old. After 3 times of doing this, I finally snapped at her “would just PLEASE change stations already, I’m trying to listen”. She did, as did the rest of our office. Stunned silence and the quiet din of radio noise was all that could be heard. They wheeled a TV into our cafeteria so we could watch the news on our breaks. Yeah right. There was always at least one full table in there, with people watching in horror, open-mouthed, eyes glazed over, like a bunch of floating fish. All I wanted to do was get out of there. I felt like I couldn’t breathe, and I wanted to be alone with my thoughts. Nothing like this has ever happened in my lifetime. I always heard about things like this, with people asking “Where were you when x happened” and they always knew and remembered. It seemed like a nice thing to have, this universal tragedy memory bank, where if you said “it’s like when Kennedy was shot” everyone is silent and goes back to that memory bank and relives it a little. I never thought that I would ever be a member of that bank. After all, I was born in 1978. The world was not the same place it had been before. Growing up, there weren’t huge signposts of disasters, or hugely famous figures that passed on. I mean, I vaguely remember my parents crying and calling a few friends to talk about some John guy that was just shot, but I was 2 years old. I don’t remember much of that, but I remember that feeling, that far-away disaster feeling and not knowing what it was. And while the Gulf War and the War on Terror all happened in my lifetime, it wasn’t a large “We are now at War” kind of thing. They both happened and are happening on such a long-term scale that I can’t really put them in “remember when” terms because it’s hard to remember exactly when it was and wasn’t anymore. But it all came flooding back to me that morning. After noon, the company finally consented to letting us leave the office for the day, unpaid, if we wanted to go home and watch the news. Gee, thanks a lot. By that time, it was all over, the towers were no more and I had had my fill of news and crying for a little while. How long can you listen to people cry and scream? I could feel the confusion, sorrow, and anger halfway across the country. It was so overwhelming, and I was exhausted. I would normally go into the bathroom to cry, once every week or so , every day near the end of my time there, because I hated where my life was, but after crying at my desk all morning, I had to get out of there.

I didn’t really know anyone living in the city at that time. There was one friend of mine, whom I’ve known since kindergarten, but she was finishing her Masters degree at a psych hospital in Brooklyn, so I knew she was safe. I heard through the grapevine that she was in lockdown at her work and was okay, if extremely shaken. But not knowing anyone almost made it worse. How do you assign this horrible feeling, how do you remember your story? It doesn’t really qualify because someone else always knew someone and had a Very Personal Connection. My memory has no home, no one to talk to this about that understands.

On the drive home, everything seemed quieter. People seemed calm and less hurried. The few people who screamed past on the street didn’t know yet. They couldn’t know. There was no other explanation. At stoplights, people turned and looked around, making eye contact with strangers and saying “I know, I’m with you, we’re all here together”. It was a strange and wonderful thing. By the time I got home in a daze, it was all I could do to not run inside and put the news on. So I turned on CNN and watch the towers fall over and over again. I had had the radio on non-stop since I woke up, and I couldn’t seem to turn it off. Carole’s voice seemed to be the one focal point of calm throughout this disaster. It was the familiar and comfortable in a world that had been turned upside-down. It was my lifeline. Yes, this is what is happening. No, it won’t always be this way. No, we will never forget.

I tried to talk to a few of my friends that day, but no one seemed affected. It was sad, but it was all very removed for them. What was wrong with me? I thought. But then I realized, that it wasn’t me, it was them. How can you not be affected by this? How can you function normally, waiting for faxes, wondering where you’re going to have lunch? In the next few weeks, I tried again to talk to a few of them, but no one seemed to want to talk about it. So I didn’t. And I haven’t. But when I woke up today, and thought it was happening again, I wasn’t sure what to do. It was 2001 all over again. Crying was automatic. The anniversaries between now and then hadn’t hit me in the same way. I always lit a candle, said a prayer and shed a few tears, but that was pretty much it. Why is this so different today? I think it was all because I woke up to that nurses’ voice, talking about trying to save that fireman. It suddenly became personal to me in a very new way. In the same kind of way that I felt that morning eight years ago, I feel today. I don’t have the radio on now. I couldn’t function if I could hear Dave and Carole talking about it.

So instead, I’m sitting here in the morning quiet, listening to the traffic go by, and pausing every time I hear a plane overhead. Remember how quiet it was following the attack? You don’t realize how much something is a part of your life until it isn’t there, and then it’s all you can think about, how much it isn’t there. That silence was deafening, screaming out to the world “THINGS WILL NEVER BE THE SAME AGAIN”. And they aren’t. Nor should they be. The events of September 11th changed this country and shaped how every single one of us now lives our lives. In big ways and small, we’re a different country now.

I’m not sure where this day will take me, who I will talk to, what will happen. But I do know that this day will not be like the other 9-11s. My memory bank account is wide open, and it’s coming with me today. I didn’t know what it would be like, personally, to have a “where were you when” moment. And I don’t think I can describe it now. The sun is shining through the window in front of me, basking me in its golden warmth. And while I’m sitting here in front of my computer, in front of this liquid light and silently crying, I can’t describe it, but this is what it feels like. This present, quiet moment is what it is like. Images and sounds rush through my head, but they’re all memory and no longer happening. But they’re all there. When I close my eyes, I can see people jumping out of the buildings and hear their bodies slam into the ground, thinking a death by choice is better than the unknown of what would happen to them otherwise. What a decision. And what a day. I think I’ll hold my pets a little longer than usual, call more friends “just because” and spend more time in quiet contemplative spaces. Because this is a different day from all the others. September 11th, 2001 was eight years ago, and now it’s also today. And when I close my computer down, and start my day, Dave and Carole will be with me, echoing in my memories, and the nurse and firefighter will be there too, covered in grey.

So let’s go guys. I could really use a cup of coffee.