the princess bride

June 26, 2017

why i wanted to read it: because my sister-in-law, niece and nephew had not seen the movie. we watched it while in colorado. when i'd mentioned to my nephew that it was based on a book and asked if he wanted to read it, he said yes, so i bought it. curious to know how it differed from the film, i read it. the boy's interest in the story, of course, has vacillated since having purchased it. i suggested on a number of occasions that we could read some of it, and he balked every time. my niece said today that she wanted to read it. they're eight. i'm sure they'll change their minds again. whatever.

what i liked: "if your love were a grain of sand, mine would be a universe of beaches" (page 63). (yes, it's corny as shit, but i'm a romantic. i liked the analogy. shut it.)

or worse, what if he got to america and worked his jobs and built their farm and made their bed and sent for her and when she got there he would look at her and say,"i'm sending you back, the moping has destroyed your eyes, the self-pity has taken your skin; you're a slobby-looking creature, i'm marrying an indian girl who lives in a teepee nearby and is always in the peak of condition" (page 65).

the woman who emerged was a trifle thinner, a great deal wiser, an ocean sadder. this one understood the nature of pain, and beneath the glory of her features, there was character and a sure knowledge of suffering (page 69).

he was fevered always now, but he forced his frail shell on, because this had to be the finest since excalibur. domingo was battling a legend, and it was destroying him (page 130).

consider: a little over three years ago, you were a milkmaid and i was a farm boy. now you are almost a queen and i rule uncontested on the water. surely, such individuals were never intended to die in a fire swamp (pages 212-213).

"i've heard before of creatures like this, the heartless ones, and as they grow bigger they get more and more beautiful and behind them is nothing but broken bodies and shattered souls" (page 241).

"he sails the seven seas with the dread pirate roberts."

"why would he do a thing like that?"

"because he is a sailor for the dread pirate roberts."

"a sailor? a common sailor? a common ordinary seaman bests the great inigo montoya with the sword? in-con-ceiv-a-ble. he must be the dread pirate roberts. otherwise it makes no sense" (page 275).

"there is a god; i know that. and there is love; i know that too; so westley will save me."

"you're a silly girl, now go to your room."

"yes, i am a silly girl and, yes again, i will go to my room, and you are a coward with a heart filled with nothing but fear."

the prince had to laugh. "the greatest hunter in the world and you say i am a coward?"

"i do... i say you are a coward and you are; i think you hunt only to reassure yourself that you are not what you are: the weakest thing to ever walk the earth. he will come for me and then we will be gone, and you will be helpless for all your hunting, because westley and i are joined by the bond of love and you cannot track that, not with a thousand bloodhounds, and you cannot break it, not with a thousand swords" (page 280).

"your ears you keep, so that every shriek of every child at seeing your hideousness will be yours to cherish -- every babe that weeps in fear at your approach, every woman that cries 'dear god, what is that thing?' will reverberate forever with your perfect ears. that is what 'to the pain' means. it means that i leave you in freakish misery until you can stand it no more; so there you have it, pig, there you know, you miserable vomitous mass, and i say this now, live or die, it's up to you: drop your sword" (pages 351-352).

i LOVED reading about inigo and fezzik's histories. i loved that it delved into the nightmares buttercup has about what would happen were she to marry humperdinck. there're a couple of other small differences, but essentially (because goldman also wrote the screenplay), the film follows the text.

what sucked: there are TWO introductions to the novel, both by the author. WHY??? why must you waste my time and the world's paper? just get to the good stuff! thirty-nine pages of bullshit, and THEN the story begins. because it's a story within a story, and i don't give a rat's ass about the exterior. i only want to read the GOOD STUFF, goddammit. and then there's some thirty more pages of bullshit before you get to a sort of epilogue (i HATE epilogues because usually they're stupid and CHEESY). i'll probably read it. eventually. but for the sake of this post, i'm sticking a fork in the thing.

having said all that: i enjoyed reading this. it's fast and engaging... once you find the true beginning.

show us your books

June 25, 2017

one. a man called ove by fredrik backman. both my parents read this about a year or so ago and were unsuccessful in their efforts to encourage me to read it. and then one of the gals in the book club i'm in selected it. it's about a cranky old man and his neighbors attempts to befriend him. it starts slow but picks up quickly and there's some beautiful passages and a great story once you get past ove's crusty exterior. five.

two. wait for me by caroline leech. i'd briefly considered this for one of the categories in erin's book challenge but decided against it, and then i met the author the following sunday at a writer's brunch and liked her so i went back and got it and read it as a bonus selection in the challenge. it's set in scotland at the conclusion of the second world war, and german prisoners are forced to work on farms. a girl falls in love with one of the prisoners. it's a neat idea for a story, and i liked the german character and his history well enough, but overall, i found it tedious. two.

three. the bookshop on the corner by jenny colgan. i'd seen this book before and thought i might like it, and so for a christmas gift exchange hosted by mattie and olya, i put it on my wish list and another blogger was kind enough to send it to me. and then i chose it as a bonus selection for erin's challenge. an english librarian loses her job and decides to open a bookshop in scotland. it's a neat idea for a story. i liked the main characters well enough. i do not like the way colgan writes, mostly because the way she tells the story is boring. there's like three dozen chapters in this thing, and only the last six were any good. two.

four. little beach street bakery by jenny colgan. i picked this up at the bookstore, off one of the front-of-store tables, i think, and quite some time ago. before i'd received the other colgan book. it'd been sitting on my shelves untouched ever since. i decided to read it for the challenge. i liked the premise of the story, although it's rather similar to the other: the business an english woman and her boyfriend founded goes bankrupt, and her relationship with the boy goes bust, so she decides to move to a small town in cornwall and open a bakery. she falls for a beekeeper, but neither are much good at communicating, so her life kind of goes awry again. i liked more of the characters in this one. i would've said i liked it better than the bookshop story, but then i got to the ending. the last few chapters are so much shittier than the rest of the book that they killed any appreciation i may have had for the thing. plus it's godawful long. one. 

five. the duff by kody keplinger. read it because i like the movie. but the book's a lot different. that bothered me at first, which was why i'd put it back on the bookstore's shelves on a number of occasions. and then one day, i said fuck it and read it, and i'm glad i did. i like the movie well enough, but at times it's pretty ridiculous. the book's better. an ordinary high school girl engages in a casual, sexual relationship with a guy she considers a manwhore to distract herself from a miserable home life and the crush she has on another boy. it's cheesy but cute and reads quick. four.

six. the romantics by leah konen. a friend lent me this love story as told by cupid. i liked the idea and the characters well enough, and there's some good subplot that keeps things interesting, but i didn't care for the author's writing style, and the ending's ridiculous. one.

ones i've started: furiously happy by jenny lawson and the princess bride by william goldman.

tally: sixty-nine. i'd neglected to include what light by jay asher (a novel i'd read last fall) in the count.

check out what jana and steph have read.

the romantics

why i wanted to read it: a friend recommended it.

what i liked: it's a love story told from cupid's perspective. neat idea.

what sucked: but i have an issue with cupid's so-called inability to intervene in some instances and the lengths to which he goes in others. and the ending's too unbelievable.

having said that: i liked the characters, there's some good subplots in it and it reads fast. but i didn't mark a single page. overall, it's mediocre at best.

the duff

why i wanted to read it: because i liked the movie well enough.

what i liked: "spanish, huh?" he said, glancing down at the scattered papers as he grabbed them. "can you say anything interesting?"

"el tono de tu voz hace que quiera estrangularme." i stood up and waited for him to hand over my papers.

"that sounds sexy," he said, getting to his feet and handing me the stack of spanish work he'd swept together. "what's it mean?"

"the sound of your voice makes me want to strangle myself."

"kinky" (pages 17-18).

"what you are is an intelligent, sassy, sarcastic, cynical, neurotic, loyal, compassionate girl" (page 175).

"i haven't been avoiding you."

"don't lie," wesley said. "you've been doing everything you can to stay away from me. you won't even look at me in class, and you practically sprint down the hallway if you see me coming. even when you hated me, you didn't act like that. you might threaten to stab me, but you never --"

"i still hate you," i snarled up at him. "you're infuriating. you act like i owe you an apology. i'm sorry i made you worry, wesley, but i just can't be around you anymore. you helped me escape from my problems for a while, and i appreciate that, but i have to face reality. i can't keep running away."

"but that is exactly what you're doing right now," wesley hissed. "you're running away."

"excuse me?"

"don't pretend, bianca," he said. "you're smarter than that, and so am i. i finally figured out what you meant when you left. you said you were like hester. i get it now. the first time you came to my house, when we wrote that paper, you said hester was trying to escape. but everything caught up with hester in the end, didn't it? well, something finally caught up with you, but you're just running away again..."

"i didn't mean anything to you," i told him.

"then why am i here... why the hell am i here, bianca?" (pages 229-231).

i discovered wuthering heights doesn't have a happy ending. because of stupid, spoiled, selfish cathy (yeah, i have no room to talk, but still), everyone winds up miserable. her choice ruins the lives of the people she cares most about. because she picked propriety over passion. head over heart. linton over heathcliff (page 252).

what sucked: i don't think i can say anything sucked.

having said that: it's pretty typical teen fiction and differs quite a bit from the movie, but i actually liked the book more. having seen the film first, i was hearing mae whitman and robbie amell voice the characters. it's heavy on wish fulfillment, just like the movie, but then, most love stories are, so... i liked it. it's cheesy but cute and reads fast.

little beach street bakery

why i wanted to read it: because i liked the title.

what i liked: "this is how it is," came the voice from beside her. mrs. manse didn't sound her usual snappy, angry self. she sounded resigned, sad, serious. "this is how it is. we stand and we wait. we women. this is what we do."

polly looked at her.

"does it help?"

mrs. manse shrugged. "it doesn't bring them back."

polly nodded. "but you think it might?"

mrs. manse was silent for a long time. the lighthouse beam swung around again. finally she spoke. 

"i don't know what else to do," she said.

polly bit her lip. 

"i always thought," said mrs. manse quietly, "that if i don't come one night, that will be the night he comes home... with the very last of his strength, only just enough to climb the harbor wall... and if i'm not here to help him, he won't make it."

polly understood that completely.

mrs. manse turned suddenly, her large body stoic and unmoving in the wind. 

"please," she said, in more urgent tones. "please go home. don't get like me."

"but i need to wait for them," said polly.

mrs. manse shook her head. "not like this", she said with desperation in her voice. "please. not like this. don't do this to yourself."

polly pulled the blanket more tightly around her.

"i can't think of anything else."

"but wishing doesn't do it," said mrs. manse crossly. "don't you see? wishing doesn't do it." she looked polly straight in the face. "please," she said, imploring her now. "please go home... don't. don't be like me... go. while you still can."

"i can't leave you out here."

"you have to," said mrs. manse (pages 288-289).

"i have invited all his sexy rich friends. there must be someone who won't move to another continent if you kiss them" (page 385).

what sucked: the names kerensa and huckle. seriously. what the fuck is up with this broad and her inability to name characters well? also, why in god's name must she take four hundred twenty-one pages to tell a story? and why does she have to have such weak subplots? and why must the majority of her pages be so badly written? GAH.

having said that: she has neat ideas for stories but the execution is so totally lame. i felt the complete opposite about this one than i did the bookshop tale. that one, the majority of it bored the hell out of me but the ending was pretty good. this one didn't bore me as much (but please understand i was still bored), and the ending was ridiculous shit.

skinny bitch

why i wanted to read it: because once upon a time i worked at a bookstore and all the girls were buying this book, and years later when i'd crossed over the one-fifty mark, i was thinking to myself: fat pig, you should read that book.

what i liked: of course it's easier to socialize after you've had a few drinks. but being a fat pig will hinder you, sober or drunk. and habitual drinking equals fat-pig syndrome. beer is for frat boys... it makes you fat, bloated, and farty. why do you think when kids go away to college they gain the "freshmen fifteen"? beer, duh. alcohol isn't any better. it raises the level of hydrochloric acid in your stomach, wreaking havoc on the digestive process. if you suffer from poor digestion, then food will not process through your body properly. hence, bloated fat-pig syndrome. to make matters worse, some alcohol (and non-organic wines) still contain urethane, a cancer-causing chemical. to boot, both beer and alcohol jack up your blood-sugar levels, which is bad for you bod. and don't kid yourself; when you have a hangover, you're bound to eat shit all day long (page 12).

aspartame (an ingredient commonly found in diet sodas and other sugar-free foods) has been blamed for a slew of scary maladies, like arthritis, birth defects, fibromyalgia, alzheimer's, lupus, multiple sclerosis, and diabetes. when methyl alcohol, a component of aspartame, enters your body, it turns into formaldehyde. formaldehyde is toxic and carcinogenic (cancer-causing). laboratory scientists use formaldehyde as a disinfectant or preservative. they don't fucking drink it. perhaps you have a lumpy ass because you are preserving your fat cells with diet soda... when aspartame is paired with carbs, it causes your brain to slow down its production of serotonin. a heathy level of serotonin is needed to be happy and well-balanced. so drinking soda can make you fat, sick and unhappy (page 14).

think about how widely accepted it has become that people need coffee to wake up. you should not need anything to wake up. if you can't wake up without it, it's because you're either addicted to caffeine, sleep-deprived, or a generally unhealthy slob... caffeine can cause headaches, digestive problems, irritation of the stomach and bladder, peptic ulcers, diarrhea, constipation, fatigue, anxiety, and depression. it affects every organ system, from the nervous system to the skin. caffeine raises stress hormone levels, inhibits important enzyme systems that are responsible for cleaning the body, and sensitizes nerve reception sites... coffee, whether regular or decaf, is highly acidic. acidic foods cause your body to produce fat cells, in order to keep the acid away from your organs... it also makes your breath smell like ass. furthermore, coffee beans, like other crops, are grown with chemical pesticides... so every single morning you're starting your day with poison. add sugar or other artificial sweeteners, top it off with milk or cream, and you'll be fat forever (pages 15-16).

the food you put into your body works its way into your organs and blood stream and is actually part of who you are. so every time you put crap in your body, you are crap (page 65).

think of how you feel when you are angry, afraid, and grief-stricken... these emotions -- fear, grief and rage -- produce chemical changes in our bodies. they do the same to animals. their blood pressure rises. adrenaline courses through their bodies. you are eating high blood pressure, stress, and adrenaline... you cannot be thin and beautiful with a glowing complexion when you eat fear, grief, and rage (page 76).

what sucked: i read this so many years ago, but i can't remember anything i didn't like, unless you count the authors urging that the reader go vegan.

having said that: sure i could stand to overhaul my diet, but i don't know that i could be as strict as they suggest. i could appreciate the way they wrote the book though, because they seemed informed, confident of their opinions and crass. and i do like the snark.

random quarter

June 24, 2017

one. i have been unemployed now for about eleven months -- the longest streak since graduating college. i keep telling myself god's got a plan. if that's the case, i'd really like to know what it is.

two. i firmly believe that seasonal depression doesn't just happen in winter. anyone who tells you that shit's limited to the shortest, darkest days of the year, and in some cases also the coldest (although it's usually still in the eighties in texas in december, so we don't see nasty until the month before winter relinquishes her evil hold on the northern hemisphere, also called february)... that person's a fucking moron. i'm convinced if a person can be prone to (greater) bouts of depression when the days are short (and cold) and the nights are long (and colder), then that person can also be affected when the days are long (and hot) and the nights are short (and as equally as hot, as is the case in texas right about now... though interestingly enough it was eighty-two degrees this afternoon in east texas, just as it was eighty-two degrees in west colorado... i know this because my cousin's wife told me so when i'd texted her, smugly, thinking that it was colder in texas than in colorado because yesterday i was in colorado and it was fucking hot.

three. the true reason why i allow myself to call these posts random isn't because it's twenty-five random things. it's because it gives me license, in my mind, to be okay with the fact that i'm rambling, and often like a lunatic. i've been in a car for two days with my parents. who wouldn't be a lunatic after that?

four. i'm also convinced that i could do a better job of driving through the mountains in the summer than my father. winter? not a chance in hell. he's the champion of the world and the nations, as he would say, then. but right now? i'd win. easily.

five. i missed the show us your books post for this month. but guess what? i'm going to do one anyway. better late than never, right? right after i post about the four books i read weeks ago (or in one case years ago but i'd forgotten to blog it... but that's a good thing, because i need the refresher... you'll see which one that would be shortly... as in the next post).

six. i need new pillows and duvets, new books... new teeth. SO embarrassing to be missing two. QUIT FUCKING SMOKING, PEOPLE. YOU CAN'T AFFORD THE DENTAL WORK THAT HIDEOUS VICE WILL CAUSE. i think maybe six of my teeth are still wholly mine. the remaining ones have been crowned and, in some cases, canalled. i just made that last word up, by the way. i'm keeping it. the more i gawk at that chasm between a bicuspid and rear molar on the lower right, where two molars once existed but had to be extracted because i'm an idiot who guzzles too many dark, cold, carbonated, caffeinated beverages and smoked, sometimes, three packs a day (FUCKING KNOCK THAT SHIT OFF, yall! i swear, it's a bitch to quit, and i've spent thousands on dental work, and i'm confident i'll be spending thousands more because i'm pretty sure that bicuspid and molar are going to be on the chopping block soon because i've not had a job and therefore don't have the funds to go to the dentist, and my mouth is turning into a dentist's dream, really, because look at all the money i could be giving him!) new teeth. seriously. who wishes for that shit? idiots. like me. also, when i smoked i was spending two bucks and eleven cents on a pack of marlboros. i'm pretty sure it's at least triple that now. you could buy lunch at whataburger or twenty cancer sticks. take your pick.

seven. whataburger, by the way, is the second best fast food burger joint in the country. up until a few days ago i would've said it's the best. my cousins reminded me of the awesomesauce of vicco's charcoalburger drive-in in glenwood springs, colorado. apparently, i'd eaten there before? or maybe they're remembering that i'd tagged along with them when in reality i hadn't (my cousins like to do things like skydiving and camping, and that's generally not my thing). anyway. i want vicco to relocate to the woodlands and open up a charcoalburger by my house. or i want to relocate to glenwood springs. chances are good that neither of these things will be happening anytime soon, but if i'm wishing for new teeth, then a girl can dream of something like this, too, yeah?

eight. i climbed a rock!! there's a mica mine trail outside of grand junction, colorado called bangs canyon trailhead. i did go hiking with one of those cousins and his son, my brother and his wife and children. and not only did i hike, i made myself climb up one of those rocks. before yall get too gobsmacked, it wasn't a huge rock or anything. but climbing scares me because of my vision issues and more because things in my body break really easily. i fucking rock-climbed. have never done that in my life. my kabuki would've been proud. i wish to god he could've seen me do it. the twins left a piece of mica on his gravestone yesterday. i was supremely touched that they had done so.

nine. i went zip-lining!!! this should shock yall more than the rock-climbing because it shocked the hell out of me. and you know what? the zipping didn't scare me. not really. the first time, i was a little fearful, true, and i was maybe a little distracted because i'd put my hand in front of me to brake rather than behind me (idiot, remember?). the second time i went i did much, much better. you know what scared the crap out of me? the damned suspension bridge. i about had a damned panic attack on that thing. had to have that cousin we'd gone hiking with a day or two earlier help me across. the cousin's practically half my age, but whatever. okay, that's an exaggeration. he's like fifteen years younger. but that's basically the same thing.

ten. last weekend, on the night we arrived in grand junction (the town from which my mother's family hails) i snuck into not one but two showings of guardians of the galaxy two. two days of riding in the car with my parents. my brother and his family were going camping (house with no electricity, heat, running water... really small house that could maybe fit five people that would be housing three times that many? i'll pass, thanks.) i stayed the night in the house we were renting for the week. my parents stayed in their apartment. my father and i are much, too much alike. we got into it. i decided i was very much in need of some space. i decided the best thing would be a solitary, two-mile walk to a movie theater at eight p.m. on a friday night, even in a town that small (a hundred thousand's small when you're from a metropolis that's like seven million or something). i figured hell with it, if i can walk down sixth street at night dressed in an aggies sweatshirt, i can walk to the movie theater in grand junction. so i finally get there (an hour later), and instead of getting my ticket and snacks, i head for the women's room, which is right next to the usher stand. i come out, and the usher's not there. i look to my right, and there are two theaters for guardians. it's nine p.m. one show had started forty minutes ago. the other would start in a half hour. all i really wanted to see was baby groot dancing to the opening credits (i needed happy and figured that was the best way i was going to get it), but since i had a thirty minute wait... so i watched thirty minutes of the first, snuck into the second to watch the credits, snuck back into the first to watch the rest. and then i walked back to the house. i said a LOT of hail marys. only instead of now and at the hour of death, i said now and in the hour of our need. i safely made it to the house. the only injuries i'd sustained were blisters on my feet because i'd opted not to change out of my flip-flops into my sneakers. IDIOT. 

eleven.  the family had dinner at the winery one night. super expensive. SUPER AMAZING. smoked salmon and broccoli alfredo. i wanted to inhale the whole damned plate. i was supremely bummed that my stomach could hold only so much. i'm supremely bummed that the good lord could not bless me with the culinary gene so i could make it myself.

twelve. i happened to spot an aston martin vantage after we'd eaten that night. i don't normally stop to gawk at cars, but damned if i couldn't help myself on this occasion. everything about that car looked amazing, even in its celery green coat. generally as a rule i am not a fan of celery green, and maybe such vehicles shouldn't be painted in such a color, but i was practically drooling... the girl who can't afford to buy new pillows is obsessing over a ridiculously, horribly overpriced method of transportation that she'd most likely wreck within six months of owning it... idiot.

thirteen. in the past week or so, i've gotten both a manicure and a pedicure. i had the pedi before we left for colorado. hadn't had the mani in about six months. i figured i was due. i clip my nails short, and when i'd told the lady that i wanted a manicure, she looked at me and said, pedicure? i shook my head, pointed to my feet and the bandaids on them and insisted on the manicure. my hands feel so much better.

fourteen. am reading goldman's the princess bride. the twins, their stepmother and i watched that the other day. they hadn't seen it. my nephew called out on more than a few occasions that a scene was fake, but i'd thought he liked it and when asked him if he wanted to read the book he said yes. so i bought him one. and i've not been able to get him to read since. after i'd gotten past the two introductions and the forty pages of what-the-fuck-is-this-shit to where the movie begins, i found myself enjoying it quite a bit. it's one of the better film adaptations i've seen actually.

fifteen. my throat hurts all the time. i'm more than a little concerned that the cause for all the dental work isn't just the smoking but a more serious issue. but then i'm a worrywart. and even if it were a more serious issue, i don't know that i'd do much about it, so worrying about this is pretty idiotic.

sixteen. i got maybe an hour's worth of sleep last night. i'm very glad to be back in my bed.

seventeen. there's a great deal more country music in my collection than there used to be. i'm a little concerned with that, as well.

eighteen. the new year's resolutions i'd set in january... those have all gone to hell. i plan on resuming my efforts in july. one more week of bad behavior and then i'll practice being good again. hopefully it'll last longer.

nineteen. i was looking through my facebook on this day posts just now. the top of the list: i've never stood someone up in my life, but that's happening in seventeen minutes. this was just last year. i can recall pretty much every douchebag with whom i've interacted, but this one escapes me. so much so that i'd forgotten that i'd stood the dude up.

twenty. also on that day, i'd woken up to discover that my bony elbows and restless nature had caused me to shred my pottery barn kids' empire strikes back sheets. that i do remember, and it still makes me sad.

twenty-one. six years ago it must've been unbelievably hot here. ridiculously so. why? because i'd posted that i was moving to alaska. i'll go skydiving before that were to happen, yall.

twenty-two. seven years ago i was touring europe with three of another cousin's children. this other cousin is older than me, so her daughters were a college-graduate, college student and high school senior at the time. seven years ago today we were walking around dachau.

twenty-three. today marks the tenth anniversary of my having smoked my final cigarette. it took more time (another four months or so of lozenges and patches before i could kick the habit in its entirety). a decade, yall. i am amazing. so what if i'm an idiot about all the other stuff. i'm always wishing i could go back and redo. i've heard that it takes about fifteen years for the body to fully recover from the damage smoking causes. five more... i'll be standing much too close for fifty for that, but... that's a pretty good birthday present, don't you think?

twenty-four. my niece put michael jackson's thriller in my head earlier today. fantastic.

twenty-five. i taught a cousin and a friend how to play splendor. they both whipped me. soundly. on several occasions. and i taught them. you'd think if i taught them, then i could beat them, but nah. that's not how it works.

fourteen things celebrated in may

June 3, 2017

number one.
one. may third. two different-colored shoes day. wear shoes that don't match for the entirety of your day.

number two.
two. may fourth. star wars day. may the fourth be with you. wear a star wars shirt if you've got one. share four of your favorite lines from the films.

i'd just as soon kiss a wookie (leia, empire strikes back).

i can arrange that. you could use a good kiss (han, empire strikes back).

laugh it up, fuzzball (han, empire strikes back).

we would be honored if you would join us (vader, empire strikes back).

three. may fifth. national cartoonists day. share a favored comic.

number four.
four. also may fifth. totally chipotle day. treat yourself to a burrito. (and yeah, it's cinco de mayo, too. i know. so if you wanna have a margarita with that, go right ahead.)

five. may tenth. clean up your room day. seriously. CLEAN IT. get rid of all the shit. donate the things you don't need, if you can, and trash the rest. that place should be a haven not a dump (like mine usually is).

so yeah. this didn't happen.

six. may twelfth. national spouse military appreciation day. send notes to those who have husbands and wives serving in our military, whether those serving are active or not, home or abroad. thank them for what they do, too. 

i sent one. better than nothing, i suppose. 

seven. also may twelfth. national limerick day. write one. YES, that's what i said. haikus are a hell of lot easier, now, right? you're wishing you'd done that one last month. limerick. write it, and then share one you love.

so i paired this one with...

twelve. also may twenty-fourth. brothers day. if you've got one, do something nice for the idiot.

... and wrote him a poem:

this here's a limerick for my brother, joe
mom tells me be nice; if only that could be so
sometimes it is such an impossible task
he can be a ginormous pain in my ass
but oh, how i do love that silly boy, though

i can't say it's a favorite, but here's one i like well enough. damned if i can say who wrote it:

the limerick packs laughs anatomical
into space that is quite economical
but the good ones i've seen
so seldom are clean
and the clean ones so seldom are comical

number eight.
eight. may fifteenth. national chocolate chip cookie day. bake a batch of chocolate chip cookies from scratch...

nine. may twenty-first. national waitstaff day. ...and take the cookies to the servers at your favorite restaurant. since these things don't have to be done on their specific day, can i recommend this be done on mother's day? that is the WORST day of the year for them. if you wanna be extra awesome, give them handwritten notes to let them know how awesome and how loved they are.

i did take them cookies, but on the last day of the month.

i'd gone by deaux's on mother's day after having brunch with mine to leave them love.

number ten.
ten. may twenty-third. national lucky penny day. get a roll of pennies. throughout your day, leave one here and there and everywhere, face up for others to find. give them some good luck.

i didn't do this the way i'd planned. i ended up cramming half these things on the last day of the month again, and so this one backfired on me. i thought i'd leave a penny on random tables and all the vacant barstools at pappadeaux's for guests to take... my mom's always saying find a penny, pick it up, and all day long you'll have good luck, so i thought i'd give the guests some luck. only the guests weren't so happy to find the pennies, i guess, and questioned the hostesses and bartenders, and one of the hostesses went around the restaurant collecting them. i overheard her complaining to one of the bartenders, asking who'd left the pennies on the table. i'd confessed that i'd done so, took the pennies from her, rounded up the rest, and gave them to one of the servers. it would've worked out better had i done it the way i'd intended. i would've felt better had i done it that way. lately, i'd been feeling like nothing i do is right, so this incident quickly sunk my spirits. i'd thought of leaving them on the fountain at the neighboring pappasito's, but then i suppose people would've been questioning the hostesses there, so... bad idea.

eleven. may twenty-fourth. national scavenger hunt day. i tried to get my niece and nephew to play along with me. they weren't too keen on the idea.

thirteen. may twenty-fifth. red nose day. get you one. i saw a passel of'm at walgreen's. wear that thing all day line and with much pride.

i'd meant to do this one on the actual day but forgot, so i did it the next day.

fourteen. also may twenty-fifth. national wine day. get a group of friends together. share a bottle.

this didn't happen, either. on the last day, after the penny debacle, i bought myself a glass. it should've helped me relax. it didn't.

tuesday topics: one. thing that scares you

May 30, 2017

i'd hoped to have a really good one thing for this particular post. i'd been mulling over what that one thing would be and decided that what i'd most like for it to be is get a tattoo similar to the one my younger brother has on his calf: a sunset scene of the marker where my older brother is buried. instead of a headstone, my parents chose a granite bench. when they go to colorado--my brother is buried in my mother's family's cemetery--she and my father like to get coffee, go sit on the bench and visit. i imagine they talk to him, tell him about what we're doing, what bambam and shazam are doing, what plans we all have... i imagine it helps them. i imagine it helps my brother to have that picture of the bench and the trees and the sky just before the sun falls below our horizon. i was thinking i'd like to have one like his, but on the other leg (i think his is on the left, so i'd want mine on the right) and at sunrise with a mourning dove. 

of course, i'm not employed right now, and i'd only considered the potential pain that would ensue... not the time it would take (which would be lengthy) or the amount of money it would necessitate. so... one day... i will have that. but for now...

ultimately the thing i most fear is actually fear itself. and my mind likes to imagine all kinds of tragedies... all kinds of hell. and it's the worst for me at night when i climb the stairs and get ready for bed... that is my least favorite time of day. because it's the bed my parents bought for me when i was in high school, in the room i've had for more than three decades, and i'll crawl into it every night and pray that one day this won't be the case, that i'll have a home of my own, and i won't have to take something to help me sleep because there'll be someone with me to hold me while i drift off... i've never known what that's like. i've slept with a man before, but it's never been sweet like i've seen in the movies and read in the books... and i keep thinking surely it's like that in real life sometimes... it must be so peaceful... and hot, literally. yes, i'm sure there's that, too. anyway... it's not a prayer i vocalize all that often, but it's there in the back of my mind. always. so i do things to make it as bearable as i can, like buying all the star wars sheets. like the flannel ones shown below, even though the high's getting to be in the mid-nineties here on a daily basis ('bye spring! thanks for hanging out in southeast texas for so long). flannel because right now i'm needing the softness. and the room's in chaos so often because that's the last place i want to be... in that room by myself with only my thoughts for company. and this is how it goes. every day. every. day. and i'm a little too sure that it's going to continue to be the case for all my days.

the bookshop on the corner

May 29, 2017

why i wanted to read it: it's a book about a gal who owns a bookshop. i was a bookseller for eight years. why wouldn't i want to read that?

what i liked: "i never understand," he said, shaking his head, "why anyone would go to the trouble of making up new people in this world when there's already billions of the buggers i don't give a shit about" (page 102).

"i've noticed something else," said surinder.

"you haven't got a book in your hands."

"well... i'm just about to go to the book van. with all my lovely books. and then i'm going to go out and sell some books."

"i know. but you didn't read a book over breakfast."

"i was talking to you."

"you didn't take a book to bed."

"we were drunk and it was four o'clock in the morning."

"you've stopped clutching one everywhere like a security blanket."

"i didn't do that."

"mm," said surinder.

"anyway, what's wrong with reading?"

"nothing is wrong with reading," said surinder, "as i have told you a million billion times before. but it finally seems you're doing both. read/live/read/live. and proceed, et cetera" (page 159).

"yes, you told him you were leaving him so that you could take on the world and go out and do lots of different things, then you sat upstairs in your bedroom reading for the next eight years" (pages 186-187).

"you look nice. as if you've taken off your cardigan for once."

"i don't wear a cardigan."

"your metaphorical cardigan. your librarian's cardigan. it's as if..." this was a long speech from lennox, and he seemed to be flailing a little bit. "it's as if you pull something around yourself, make yourself look smaller and more insignificant. than you really are."

nina blinked.

"like you don't want anyone to notice you" (page 239).

"i think i just stopped seeing books around," the man went on. "you know, on the bus, everyone used to read books. but then they were fiddling with their phones or those big phones, i don't know what they're called."

"they were probably reading on their tablets," said nina loyally. she loved her e-reader, too.

"yes, i know," said the man. "but i couldn't see. i couldn't see what they were reading or ask them if it was good, or make a mental note to look for it later. it was if suddenly, one day, all the books simply disappeared (page 260).

pretty much all of chapters thirty through thirty-six. lennox. nina. the farmhouse and barn and scotland. the bookshop in the van.

what sucked: marek, and the storyline tied to him. the first hundred pages. the name surinder -- seriously. WHY?

having said all that: i liked it well enough. those last six chapters save it from mediocrity. but dear god, getting to them is a chore. 

wait for me

why i wanted to read it: because i met the author at a brunch in houston and liked her. because i was unaware that german prisoners of war were sent to help farmers in scotland; i wanted to know more about that history.

what i liked: the prisoner of war and his story; the author's note and acknowledgements.

what sucked: i had to section this one off, break it into fifths to get through it. for a story that should be rife with conflict (and to the author's credit, it had the potential), i wanted to be enthralled but couldn't be because the writing left so much to be desired. it falls horribly flat and often. it's well over three hundred pages. the ending's simple. the story's tepid. i wanted to really feel for these characters but couldn't.

having said that: the thing i liked most was the author's note, detailing the truths imparted and the liberties taken in telling this tale -- comments on the history. she'd also shared a bit about the letters she'd received about stories similar to the one she'd written. in the acknowledgements, she shares some of her family's history, too. but yall, i've never mentioned the author's note and acknowledgements in a book post before... and i didn't mark a single page in this one, either. i wanted to like it. i really, really did. i like that i'm done with it.

what light

why i wanted to read it: because a friend of mine and i went to a book discussion and signing at blue willow bookshop in west houston. (this was many, many months ago, yall... something like october of last year? i read this thing way back when and forgot to post about it, so... pardon.) i figured i should get one of his books, and since this was the one he was promoting (and because i'd learned at the time that a new edition of thirteen reasons why would be released with new material, i figured i'd wait to read that one.

what i liked: i liked the characters well enough...

what sucked: ...but there's not much conflict, and what little there is isn't well-established or well-executed. it's two hundred fifty pages of cutesy mediocrity.

having said that: i didn't mark a single page, yall. not one. and for me, that's the biggest tell. if i can't find a single line of narrative or dialogue that speaks to me... that's pretty bad. i wanted to like this because it's christmas fiction. who doesn't want to read a good story at christmas time? i needed heartwarming and got lackluster. pardon the pun, but what light?

a man called ove

May 23, 2017

why i read it: because a gal in the book club i'm in picked it.

what i liked: while his proper cup of coffee was brewing, he put on his navy blue trousers and jacket, stepped into his wooden clogs, and shoved his hands in his pockets in that particular way of a middle-aged man who expects the worthless world outside to disappoint him (page 6).

ove was the sort of man who checks the status of all things by giving them a good kick (page 7).

all the things ove's wife has bought are "lovely" or "homey". everything ove buys is useful (pages 12-13).

ove knew very well that her friends couldn't understand why she'd married him...

ove wasn't one to engage in small talk. he had come to realize that, these days at least, this was a serious character flaw. now one had to be able to blabber on about anything with any old sod who happened to stray within an arm's length of you purely because it was "nice"...

ove understood things he could see and touch. wood and concrete. glass and steel. tools. things one could figure out. he understood right angles and clear instruction manuals. assembly models and drawings. things one could draw on paper. he was a man of black and white.

and she was color. all the color he had (pages 36-37).

he was well liked down at the railway, quiet but kind. there were some who said he was "too kind." ove remembers how as a child he could never understand how this could be something bad. 

then mum died. and dad grew even quieter. as if she took away with her the few words he possessed (page 39).

"the director asked me to pass on another message... it would be a damned pity for him to be responsible for kicking a decent man's son into the street just because the son has some principles."

and so it turned out that ove became a night cleaner instead. and if this hadn't happened, he would never have come off his shift that morning and caught sight of her. with those red shoes and the gold brooch and all her burnished brown hair. and that laughter of hers, which, for the rest of his life, would make him feel as if someone were running around barefoot on the inside his breast.  

she often said that "all roads lead to something you were predestined to do." and for her, perhaps, it was something.

but for ove it was someone (page 79).

he never understood why she chose him. she loved only abstract things like music and books and strange words. ove was a man entirely filled with tangible things. he liked screwdrivers and oil filters. he went through life with his hands firmly shoved into his pockets. she danced (page 108).

his days passed like this, slow and methodical. and then one morning he saw her. she had brown hair and blue eyes and red shoes and a big yellow clasp in her hair.

and then there was no more peace and quiet for ove (page 116).

ove had never been asked how he lived before he'd met her. but if anyone had asked him, he would've answered that he didn't (page 131).

so i listened to this one on audible. but i had to look through the pages and mark the passages that spoke to me because i LOVE ove's and his wife sonja's love story.

i love how this cranky, quiet man finds someone who can look past the cranky and the quiet and see the good. one of the gals in my writing critique group commented that she couldn't understand why my guy reese likes my girl isabel. and what i wanted to say to her was because he does. same way sonja loves ove, no matter that everyone she knows would prefer she didn't. i'm all for stories like this, yall. especially when they're told as well as this one is.

what sucked: the end's a little cheesy. the beginning's a little challenging because ove, again, is a cranky bastard. his character, initially, is hard to love.

having said all that: this should be on your to be read list. there's a lot more i loved about this book. i didn't feel like digging through the whole thing for all of the things. there's a lot of them.

hold your tongue

the first crucial instance in which i know i raised my voice for good, in which i attempted to stand up for myself was in third grade, when my mother picked me up from school and asked how my day was and i'd replied that it was fine except i don't like being in that box. i've no memory of this. we were living in natchitoches, louisiana; i don't have many good memories from there as i'd had no friends and my teacher visibly detested me. there's the sensation of being excluded, of being set apart, but i've no concrete memory of the box or of that conversation with my mother. the teacher had put my desk in an appliance box because she hadn't wanted me in her classroom; she'd tried to have me placed in special education, and when that failed, she must've brought the box to class and put my desk in it and there is where i sat. until i'd found the courage to confess my dislike for the box to my mother. in doing so, my parents addressed the matter with my teacher and learned that i -- who was quite capable of telling stories, even then -- was telling the truth; they took my older brother and i out of that private catholic school and enrolled us in a public one.

there's a blue-gray spot on my left cheek, about the size of a freckle. it's lead from a pencil. graphite. one of my fifth grade classmates jammed one of my perfectly sharpened pencils in my face because he was tired of having to wait on me to finish sharpening my pencils. i had a fistful of them; i wanted to sharpen them before we'd taken our standardized test to determine whether we were placed in honors, level or special education classes the following year -- a test that i later learned was a crucial one for me, as my teachers had again recommended i be placed in special education. that test, by the way, got me in honors classes the next year. got me in pauline elliott's classroom. got me a teacher who praised me and my talents -- a beautiful thing, considering i'd had some of the worst teachers in the world in the past two years. anyway, i wanted perfect points. i didn't want to have to sharpen them during the thing because i didn't want to distract my peers' thoughts during the test. i wanted sharp pencils so my bubbles were perfect and would be scored properly. i'd tried to stand up for myself, to say that he should wait his turn. he didn't like that i'd said so, so he grabbed one of my pencils and jammed it in my left cheek. the next memory i have is sitting in my desk bubbling in my name, being annoyed that there weren't enough spaces for me to bubble all of it and so i'd had to leave the r off, making my name jennife. i've no memory of what happened immediately after he'd hurt me. i've no memory of his doing so, really, except that i know he did it -- the fucked-up freckle's there as evidence. the only clear memories i have of that day are standing at the sharpener, knowing which boy it was who'd caused me harm and the bubbles. and thirty-four years later, every time i look in the mirror, my eyes are instantly, subconsciously drawn to that blue-gray dot.

this is the last instance from childhood that i remember standing up for myself.

so i'm not good at that. but i don't like feeling that i can't speak my mind. that i can't say what i think. that one of the qualities i love about myself, my ability to be direct, that i have to mask that and so often with meekness. that if i don't do so, i'm seen as argumentative, disrespectful, hurtful, bitchy, selfish, thoughtless, insensitive... pick an adjective. if those don't suit you, feel free to supply your own.

a woman lectured me on empathy today, about how i should be more empathetic. i've a vast capacity for empathy. if someone's hurt, i hurt for them. if my words have been the cause of that pain, then pile on guilt along with the hurt and regret that i've said a thing that has offended.

another lectured me a few weeks ago on having respect for others.

here's the thing... i'm being lectured about respect by someone who has no regard for my thoughts and feelings. i'm being told i lack empathy by someone who clearly hasn't considered how her words might make me feel. i'm not a patient woman. i've little tolerance for hypocrisy. i've no tolerance whatsoever for others forcing their beliefs upon me.

yall, the only folks who have the right to lecture me are my mama and my papa. that's it. they're the only ones whose nagging and request for behavioral change i must heed. they're pretty proud of the woman i've become, so they don't lecture me all that often.

i've learned to pick my battles. the greatest one i fight, the one whose victory is most important to me, is the one against the darker aspects of my character -- the depression that's plagued me since i was eight, the physical challenges that have plagued me since birth. i've learned to extract myself from situations that are unpleasant.

in eighth grade, i couldn't do the latter. i was sitting on a row of tires on the football field during lunch break. the day was gorgeous: bright and blue and beautiful. my mood was not: i sat out there wishing a lightning bolt could somehow magically appear and strike me dead because i'd had enough of all the bullshit. the physical and mental challenges i faced were just too great right then, or so it seemed, for my feeble body and brain to handle. i prayed for the bolt. i cried because i knew it wouldn't come, that the request was utterly ridiculous. and of course, a group of the most popular kids in school chose that moment to exit the cafeteria, stroll across the football field and form a semi-circle before me, standing so close that i could not rise, could not turn and walk away. they looked down upon me and slung their insults at me, and i sat there, helpless -- a fragile runt of a girl battling life from within and without and losing on both fronts. there was such rage within me, such hate for their behavior, for them but i could not, would not unleash it upon them.

i know i've mentioned these incidences before. they are defining moments for me. they are the times when i know i should've shown my strength and found the right words but didn't. they are the reasons i strive to say something now. they're the reasons i prefer to speak plainly whenever possible.

i've grown weary of the rage. i've grown tired of not being able to say what i think.

sure i could be more tactful. sure i should do a better job of considering the repercussions of my words before i use them. but if i've been asked my opinion, if i've been asked to voice my concerns, i'm going to do so and in as succinct a fashion as i can. i don't like to mince words. i don't like to be politically correct, and i've been lectured for that, as well. i shouldn't be made to feel guilty for having articulated my thoughts, especially when others have asked for the opinion.

it's taken me thirty years to find my voice. i'll be damned if i stop using it. that said, my moral, political and religious beliefs are my own; i don't generally feel the need to voice them.

writers join critique groups for the betterment of their craft. we are sensitive souls. we're supposed to go into those groups prepared to hear criticism and take what we need from what's offered to make our stories better. we're supposed to be able to handle it when others offer their opinions. these two instances i've referenced -- the ones about empathy and respect -- both involved other writers.

i'd said i choose the battles i fight. i've not been terribly fond of my facebook and twitter feeds in the past year or so because of the sentiments expressed there. but here's the thing: those are my friends, for the most part, or fellow bloggers about whom i've chosen to care. they can say what they think. god love'm for it. i don't have to. i don't have to engage. very often i don't, mostly because i don't want to lose a friend just because his or her beliefs, whatever they may be, differ from mine. they say what they think, and the less i like it, the faster i scroll past it. that's how i've chosen to play that. that is the best way i know to respect them, to extract myself from a potentially unpleasant entanglement.

it's so much easier to do that than it is to engage in actual conversation with those i call friends who aren't being friendly.

i used to pray, desperately, for friends. for a group of girls i could call my allies. and finally, the good lord has seen fit to give me a handful of them, some of whom i love more than others, but i'm sure that's normal. i hadn't realized just how much of a pain in the ass it can be having friends and maintaining those friendships. now i have them... now i have what i thought was becoming a pretty healthy social life, but it's so fucking exhausting, this walking on coals. if that's what friendship really is, then i don't know that i want a part of that. if my friends are implying that i should hold my tongue, how can i call them friends?

on a happier note, when i asked a friend this evening what she liked best about me, her response: that you're genuine. that was exactly what i needed to hear right then. :]