Third Day Book Club... Coming Soon!

I just wanted to remind you that on December 3rd I along with many others will be blogging about Daniel Woodrell's Winter's Bone.

Yeah, yeah, I know what you're all thinking. December 3rd is a Holy Sunday, and not holy in the way most people think, for me it's Football Sunday! Well, don't worry, I already have my review written and am just waiting to post it. Plus, I'll be on my computer anyways checking my Fantasy Football teams, so it all works out. No fear, football will be watched quite undisturbed. Hope you check all the reviews out and join in on the fun!

Work Etiquette

Okay, so this may be a bit raunchy, even for me, but I couldn't help myself. I'd read this email a while ago but it has resurfaced in my inbox and now I must post it.

For all those stuck in offices with such human oddities such as cubicles, this is for you:


We've all been there but don't like to admit it. We've all kicked back in our cubicles and suddenly felt something brewing down below. As much as we try to convince ourselves otherwise, the WORK POOP is inevitable.

For those who hate pooping at work, following is the Survival Guide for taking a dump at work.


When farting, you walk briskly around the office so the smell is not in your area and everyone else gets a whiff but doesn't know where it came from. Be careful when you do this. Do not stop until the full fart has been expelled. Walk an extra 30 feet to make sure the smell has left your pants.


The act of scouting out a bathroom before pooping. Walk in and check for other poopers. If there are others in the bathroom, leave and come back again. Be careful not to become a FREQUENT FLYER. People may become suspicious if they catch you constantly going into the bathroom.


A fart that slips out while taking a leak at the urinal or forcing a poop in a stall. This is usually accompanied by a sudden wave of embarrassment. If you release an escapee, do not acknowledge it. Pretend it did not happen. If you are standing next to the farter in the urinal, pretend you did not hear it. No one likes an escapee. It is uncomfortable for all involved. Making a joke or laughing makes both parties feel uneasy.


When forcing a poop, several farts slip out at a machine gun pace. This is usually a side effect of diarrhea or a hangover. If this should happen, do not panic. Remain in the stall until everyone has left the bathroom to spare everyone the awkwardness of what just occur red.


The act of flushing the toilet the instant the poop hits the water. This reduces the amount of air time the poop has to stink up the bathroom. This can help you avoid being caught doing the WALK OF SHAME.


Walking from the stall, to the sink, to the door after you have just stunk up the bathroom. This can be a very uncomfortable moment if someone walks in and busts you. As with farts, it is best to pretend that the smell does not exist. Can be avoided with the use of the COURTESY FLUSH.


A colleague who poops at work and is proud of it. You will often see an Out Of The Closet Pooper enter the bathroom with a newspaper or magazine under his or her arm. Always look around the office for the Out Of The Closet Pooper before entering the bathroom.


A group of co-workers who band together to ensure emergency pooping goes off without incident. This group can help you to monitor the whereabouts of Out Of The Closet Poopers, and identify SAFE HAVENS.


A seldom used bathroom somewhere in the building where you can least expect visitors. Try floors that are predominantly of the opposite sex. This will reduce the odds of a pooper of your sex entering the bathroom.


Someone who does not realize that you are in the stall and tries to force the door open. This is one of the most shocking and vulnerable moments that can occur when taking a poop at work. If this occurs, remain in the stall until the Turd Burglar leaves. This way you will avoid all uncomfortable eye contact.


A phony cough that alerts all new entrants into the bathroom that you are in a stall. This can be used to cover-up a WATERMELON, or to alert potential Turd Burglars. Very effective when used in conjunction with an ASTAIRE.


A subtle toe-tap that is used to alert potential Turd Burglars that you are occupying a stall. This will remove all doubt that the stall is occupied. If you hear an Astaire, leave the bathroom immediately so the pooper can poop in peace.


A poop that creates a loud splash when hitting the toilet water. This is also an embarrassing incident. If you feel a Watermelon coming on, create a diversion. See CAMO-COUGH


Pretty Dead On

What American accent do you have?
Your Result: The Inland North

You may think you speak "Standard English straight out of the dictionary" but when you step away from the Great Lakes you get asked annoying questions like "Are you from Wisconsin?" or "Are you from Chicago?" Chances are you call carbonated drinks "pop."

The Midland

The Northeast


The South

The West


North Central

What American accent do you have?


The Death of a Dream

No, no, I'm not talking about my dream to go to Africa, I'm doing that in January. Nor am I talking about my dream to backpack through Europe for a month with my husband, that's getting done in March and April. I'm talking about my dream for my Steelers to have a repeat Super Bowl appearance and win. Yes, that dream was squashed big time with a shut out from the Ravens. You thought I wouldn't mention it, didn't you? That I'd hide in my little cubicle hole and pretend that I had never heard of the Pittsburgh Steelers? Nope, no fair weather fan here. I still love the team and am looking forward to their incredibly awesome comeback next season! My Vikes are crawling to their death bed as well, but I figure it all works out for me since if either of my teams did make it to the playoffs, I'd have to miss the first couple of games since I'll be in Africa, and I truly doubt I'll be thinking of football while I'm there - though I am a football freak, so I wouldn't be entirely surprised if I were thinking football either.

Nonetheless, the death of my Steelers dream has brought on a lot of doubts and questions about my own dreams. See, I have a problem, I'm not one of those people who can just be happy doing something they don't hate and living an uneventful life. I need to be doing exactly what I love and living a busy, meaningful life to be happy. I married a man who is more like what I first described, not that he doesn't like to have and eventful life or wouldn't love to do something he loved, but he doesn't have to in order to be happy. I'm insanely jealous of him. I stress about my decisions because I know my happiness is dependent on them, such as what if I go for my Masters in Social Work and end up hating it and wasting those years and money? When should I have children? If I have one soon, will I not be able to fulfill my dreams? If I wait, will I be miserable waiting and have that unexplainable yearning in my womb that I'm not sure if any man will ever understand? Sometimes I feel as if my body wants a child more than my brain does, am I crazy? Why can't they get on the same frickin' page! How do you know what will make you happy if you haven't done it yet? What if you get into it and it doesn't make you happy? Some things, such as children, are not reversible, nor would the graduate school refund my money I'm sure if I'm unhappy with that decision. I'm sure I want to help people and I absolutely have to change professions, and I'm sure I want children, but I get so freaked about the when and how and all those other important details that make decisions impossible.

I'm sure it's normal to have doubts when making such life changing decisions, I just wish I had more faith in myself while I were going through it and wouldn't waffle so much. I'm so sure of my decisions when I first make the decision, but as that decision gets closer and closer my heart starts to beat a little faster and my self-doubt inevitably creeps into my brain. Will I be a good social worker? Will I love it or hate it? Will I be a good mother? The questions go on and on and truly there is no answer to them but experience, but going for it and finding out the answer through living it. I don't like those sorts of answers. I like answers that are written in a book. Answers that you can see and anticipate. Answers such as, when you push this button so and so will happen.

How do you get through self-doubt and learn to believe in yourself when going through tough times and huge changes? How do you feel pride and happiness in your life even when things aren't exactly as you'd like them (in job, family, love life, etc.)? I hate being dependent on my life situation to be happy, I wish I could just be happy no matter what, like my wonderful peaceful hubby, who I sometimes would like to murder for his contentedness that, again, I'm insanely jealous of. I've found that when things get tough and stressful I just implode and wrack myself with an amazing amount of guilt and self-doubt. I'm really sick of it and wish I could tackle changes like I imagine an old frontier hero heading out to the wild West would. All sun-chapped face and cowboy hat, with one foot on a rock, chest sticking out, hand over the eyes and looking into the horizon of the unknown with nothing but courage and self-confidence twinkling in the eyes. Why can't I have that much confidence and adventure in my spirit? Instead, I'd like to crawl into a hole and go into hibernation until it's all over and we're moved, the decisions are made and it's calm again.

Yes, I know, I'm a horrible coward, but possibly the only thing I pride myself in right now is that I'm still going through with my original dreams and plans. That I trust myself enough to trust the decisions I've already made (or I'm too chicken-shit to change those decisions). I'm not going to run away from my dreams, even though I think going after your dreams is far scarier than never realizing them. It's like in The Alchemist when the boy asks the shopkeeper of the crystal store why he never follows his dream and the shopkeeper answers that he didn't want to let go of having the dream and that he felt that he would have nothing to look forward to if he fulfilled it. But then, truly, the shopkeeper is only living a half life.

So I will buckle down, look for the signs that I'm headed in the right direction and do the big move, go to school and hopefully it will make me happy. If not, then I'll have to come up with a whole new plan with a whole new headache and a whole new slew of anxiety attacks. Blah.

P.S. I just realized that the last time I had a major breakdown like this with big decisions I was totally ragging, and surprise, I am again (sorry for those of faint heart - though if that's the case, why the hell are you reading my blog?) What the hell, should I just shut down all thoughts and decision making for one week every month? I'll be seriously annoyed if hormones has anything to do with my breakdown. That will be TBD in, hmm, about a week or so. I'll let you know if my whole perspective changes once the monthly leaves me. On one hand that'd be great cuz, you know, I wouldn't be freaking out, but on the other hand it'd just straight piss me off that my emotions are so controlled by hormones. Fuck hormones! Man, it sure does stink to be a woman sometimes. That's why I sooo am Not looking forward to the whole pregnancy bit, I've heard that's a wild hormonal ride. Joy.


No Surprise Here

So, at the suggestion of my co-worker, I took a psychology temperament quiz. Yeah, there's definitely no surprises here, but it's nice to know that I am what I thought I was, if that makes sense...

Your Temperament is Idealist (NF)

Idealists, as a temperament, are passionately concerned with personal growth and development. Idealists strive to discover who they are and how they can become their best possible self -- always this quest for self-knowledge and self-improvement drives their imagination. And they want to help others make the journey. Idealists are naturally drawn to working with people, and whether in education or counseling, in social services or personnel work, in journalism or the ministry, they are gifted at helping others find their way in life, often inspiring them to grow as individuals and to fulfill their potentials.

Idealists are sure that friendly cooperation is the best way for people to achieve their goals. Conflict and confrontation upset them because they seem to put up angry barriers between people. Idealists dream of creating harmonious, even caring personal relations, and they have a unique talent for helping people get along with each other and work together for the good of all. Such interpersonal harmony might be a romantic ideal, but then Idealists are incurable romantics who prefer to focus on what might be, rather than what is. The real, practical world is only a starting place for Idealists; they believe that life is filled with possibilities waiting to be realized, rich with meanings calling out to be understood. This idea of a mystical or spiritual dimension to life, the "not visible" or the "not yet" that can only be known through intuition or by a leap of faith, is far more important to Idealists than the world of material things.

Highly ethical in their actions, Idealists hold themselves to a strict standard of personal integrity. They must be true to themselves and to others, and they can be quite hard on themselves when they are dishonest, or when they are false or insincere. More often, however, Idealists are the very soul of kindness. Particularly in their personal relationships, Idealists are without question filled with love and good will. They believe in giving of themselves to help others; they cherish a few warm, sensitive friendships; they strive for a special rapport with their children; and in marriage they wish to find a "soulmate," someone with whom they can bond emotionally and spiritually, sharing their deepest feelings and their complex inner worlds.

Idealists are rare, making up between 20 and 25 percent of the population. But their ability to inspire people with their enthusiasm and their idealism has given them influence far beyond their numbers.

The Four types of Idealists are:

Healers (INFP) | Counselors (INFJ) | Champions (ENFP) | Teachers (ENFJ)

There is absolutely nothing in the paragraph that isn't me. You know how you read something and you're just nodding your head the entire time, yeah, that's what that was for me. I'm really happy to know that I'm going in the right direction with my life going into Social Work. I'm excited and look forward to the fulfilling work. My job now drains me right now because it's soo just not me, if that makes sense. It's not really the job from hell, even though I talk about it like it is sometimes. I love the people I work with, the hours are fairly flexible, the pay is reasonable, but I just hate what I'm doing every single day. It doesn't fulfill me or make me happy. I find myself very fortunate to know who I am and what I want out of life and hopefully going after it will fulfill my every dreams... okay, so I'm not that deluded of an idealist. I know it won't be heaven all the time working in my dream job and there will be hard times, etc., but I think I'll be able to get through it because I'll actually give a damn about my job. I'm the type of person that if I'm not passionate about something, I can't fake it and I can barely muster myself to care about it at all. It's definitely all or nothing for me. I know it's extreme, but that's me! See, the quiz proves it.

Izzz cool.


You Tube Funness

An old favorite of mine:

Seriously, yo, Boom goes the dynamite! I'm going to start saying that Everywhere! And for everything... for example, a perfect time to use it would be when taking a dump in a public bathroom. If you say it in perfect sync with the, ahem, drop then it'd cover some of the embarrassment of the plop sound that inevitably conspires when, well, you know. You know that fake cough isn't covering anything up. Try it, and then let me know how it goes!

And only because this took place in Ohio and I've got to have some flickering Ohio pride left before I move... alright, I'm laughing my ass off making fun of Ohio in my head while watching this! Screw you Ohio!

Last but not least, who doesn't need to hear a chubby young man in his New Jersey bedroom lip-syncing to a Romanian pop song every once in a while? Oddly enough, that song sticks in your head like a disease! It's got an awfully catchy tune to it, doesn't it?

Bias Towards My Own Style?

I just finished a book in which the style of writing felt awkward to me. It took me out of the story and used words in ways I wouldn't even think of doing because it just seems like a horrible idea to me. Not that I didn't enjoy the book. Would I ever read it again? Probably not. Was it a good plot, characters and storyline? Most definitely. Afterwards, I picked up a book by an author I love, whose previous book Cold Mountain I had raced through without taking a breath until the final word (which of course I was sobbing through by that time). Frazier's new book, Thirteen Moons, was like a breath of fresh air for me from the first sentence. I went from feeling like I was a foreigner in the previous book (in which the language and writing had been praised highly in some reviews I'd read) to feeling like I was at home and I could relax into the story without having to be distracted by the writing style, unless there was an extremely good sentence of course. In which case I'd reread the sentence over and over until it just rolled off of my tongue like candy and I'd mark the page so I could revisit the sentence when I felt the need for something beautiful and powerful. However, I am aware that many have criticized Frazier's writing style as dense and perhaps too descriptive. He's been known to go into excruciating detail when describing the surroundings and environment of his novels. He's often wordy. As I've read the criticisms the thought has crossed my mind, hey, that's what people have said about my writing before!

Okay, so I'm not at all comparing my writing at all to Frazier's, that would be, quite frankly, idiotic. He's hands down amazing, and I, well, I'm still unpublished. So there it is. Nonetheless, the fact that I lean towards having a similar style to Frazier does make me think of my favorite authors. As I list them in my head (Isabel Allende, Barbara Kingsolver, Maya Angelou) I recognize that all are very descriptive writers, not at all like the more blunt and awkward style of the book I'd just finished and hadn't connected with. Actually, often I emulate those authors, I read their books desperately trying to find out their tricks and secrets. I steal sentence structures from them, and whatever else I can safely steal from them.

This observation has brought up the question in me: Do we like writers who write like we do? And if so, why is that? Can we not appreciate different styles? Perhaps we just have a preference, like some like chocolate and others like vanilla better. I wouldn't say that I can only read books written in my preferred style, but I will say that I enjoy books much more when it is. It's often difficult for me to get into books that are written in a different style or written badly. I have refused to finish some books that were written badly, but I've always finished books that were written well but in a style that I perhaps wasn't too keen on. So I think I can appreciate different styles of writing, but I won't connect with the story as much as I would a story written in a style that I enjoy more.

In general, the whole idea of "writing styles" sounds awfully vague to me, as if there were clear cut categories that writers are divided on upon their style of writing. Of course it isn't so clear, and there are mixed styles and unique styles, etc. But I do feel that I definitely lean towards a certain style over others, whatever vague category that is. I tried even now to just think of a style "category" for my style of writing and I come up blank and stuttering. It's too complicated to some up in one word, but the closest I could come up with is descriptive. But then there are a lot of different ways of being descriptive, so even that ends up being vague and useless. Unless it's a very extreme and unique style of writing, such as Kerouac's "Beat" writing style, then I don't think people can be categorized so easily.

Do you feel like you prefer one style of writing over another? Does it match your own style?


Random Linkage

They just save our lives and try to make our lives better... Screw Them All!! A doctor in Germany has to pay child support for a child conceived due to a failed contraceptive operation performed by the doctor! Pay child support? Okay, getting sued I can see, but pay child support? Come on people, we're pushing this screw the doctors thing a bit far. I know they're supposedly filthy rich and are human gods, saving people's lives and manipulating their reproductive systems, but shouldn't we just, um, let them do their jobs? As much as we'd like doctors to be perfect because they're dealing with life and death, it's just not possible. They're human and we're just going to have to accept that.

The first woman to head the Chinese Writer's Association. On some blogs, there was an expressed discomfort or concern that she's served for the Communist Chinese government and therefore associates herself as a Communist. Um, hello, she's Chinese! The whole country's Communist. What'd you think, she'd be Republican? Not that that'd be much better than Communism in our country right now according to the masses...

Speaking of China, animal activists would be going nuts over this in America. Good thing the Olympics are in China in 2008 and not here. I mean, most people just use their spouses to test for poisioned food here.

Isabel Allende, pro-women or pro-women who help murder mass amounts of innocent people? You decide.

The illogical logic of Dawkins.

Step right up and get your very own crappy book!

If that's not enough to keep you busy, check out Grumpy Old Bookman's Thursday Linkage. He puts me to shame.


Reading Challenge Even More For Real

Okay, so when I posted my Reading Challenge for myself not too long ago, I hadn't realized it'd become a for real phenomenon... I mean with prizes and a bunch of people really doing it with a deadline and stuff! Okay, so I'll reiterate my Reading Challenge with an official entry to the From the Stacks Winter Reading Challenge. So, since my books weren't focused with this particular challenge in mind and at least one of the books I'd already started and a couple I'd intended on reading casually as needed, here's my official list of books I'll complete from Nov. 1 to Jan. 30 (a lot longer time frame then I was giving myself!):
  • Winter's Bone by Daniel Woodrell. I've wanted to read this book for a while, but I finally just purchased it this weekend at the sale and I'd like to get it read before the third of next month for Simply Wait's the third day book club! This month they blogged about Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, which I also purchased this weekend. Since I just bought the book, I didn't participate in the third day book club this month, but am eager to next month. It sounds like such a delightful idea! I hope I already own the book that will be blogged about for January 3rd since I'm not allowed to buy anymore.
  • Paint it Black by Janet Fitch. I've been dying to read her widely anticipated follow up to the amazing White Oleander since it has come out, but haven't had time yet. It took her 7 years to complete this one after the stress of the success of White Oleander hit her (damn you Oprah! Um, just kidding, please don't have me shot, Ms. Winfrey...)
  • Thirteen Moons by Charles Frazier. There have been mixed reviews on this follow up to the popular Cold Mountain, so I'm eager to see if it's as good or as bad as everyone is saying.
  • Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Adichie. Not only have I heard a lot of buzz surrounding this novel and read some great reviews and interviews that make me want to grab it, but since I'm traveling to Africa in January I thought it'd be a good novel written by an African on Africa issues and war in Africa to prepare me for my trip.
  • The Last King of Scotland by Giles Foden. I had purchased this book as soon as I heard about the movie coming out and found out it was a book first. I think this would be the perfect read for me when I'm in Uganda as it's about the history of Uganda under the reign of the deadly Idi Amin. I know it's a fiction book, but it's obviously based on the history of Uganda and could give me a glimpse into their culture and history in a more connected way then just reading articles about it. *Note: I changed this selection from The Audacity of Hope by Barack Obama because I realized that I would need to read one of the books while in Africa and I didn't feel like bringing a hardcover book.
So 5 already purchased and owned books that I have Not started yet that I aim to have read by January 30th! That should be plenty of time to finish all of the books even with the Holidays and whatnot. Books will be read, reviews will be posted, and my husband will see my alarmingly growing stack of unread yet purchased books finally shrink rather than grow. All will be happy. Hey, maybe I'll even win a prize, what the hell?

This Challenge has already tested me. I am devoted to reading books before I watch the movie based on the book and the movie Notes on a Scandal is coming out soon. I've had the novel by Zoe Heller on my wishlist ranked "high" for some time now, but haven't found a good excuse to purchase it yet. If I'd known it was going to be made into a movie I would have purchased it a while ago, but alas, I was unaware until I saw the preview this weekend in the theater. So I will have to wait to purchase the book which means that I'll have to wait to see the movie. Cate Blanchett and Judi Dench, could it get better than that? I'm dying to both read the book and watch the movie. Darn Challenge! Oh right, that was the point of the Challenge and why I joined, so I'd stop finding reasons to buy books non-stop. At least I'm not the only one who struggles to afford the expensive life style of a book addict.

On another note... so now the new and improved Blogger is all done. Are we going to be forced to use it? I'm tentative to switch, but I don't want to be an old fuddy duddy who's afraid of change. Anybody using it yet? Any thoughts, likes, dislikes, warnings, etc. for us tentative Bloggers who are thinking of making the big switch?


Elections And More!

Yes, it's the day after and what an exciting day for those of us who wanted a change in our government. After some despairing elections, finally a victory. And not just in Red and Blues, but also in some key issues.
In a triple setback for conservatives, South Dakotans rejected a law that would have banned virtually all abortions, Arizona became the first state to defeat an amendment to ban gay marriage and Missouri approved a measure backing stem cell research.

For those cynics who doesn't believe the government will change with Democrats taking the House and possibly the Senate, here's an outline of how the Democrats can make an immediate impact. I'm also excited to have our first female Speaker of the House in Rep. Nancy Pelosi. Overall, these elections were inspiring and relieving. And too bad this genius didn't get voted out of the office, although his term doesn't end until 2008, he should have been voted out for pure stupidity for this comment:
Senator Jeff Sessions (R-Alabama): "“If every American back in 1950 had quit buying novels and invested money in high-yield bonds, today we would be looking at a savings surplus of several trillion dollars, and Social Security would not be in the mess it'’s in. Instead, we know what happened-most of the money wound up in the pockets of one unscrupulous novelist, Pearl S. Buck, with the disastrous consequences of which we are too well aware. The fact that that woman never spent a day in jail is a disgrace to the history of our nation. I would ask every American, before you lavish your next paycheck on expensive novels you may not need, consider the other spending choices available. You could expand your cable service, visit a casino, make a political donation, give to a faith-based concern, or put the money in something the brokers call a flort. I think we all know a little bit better how our earnings should be spent than the average novel-writer does."”
Not only is that idiotic, but I'd also like to point out his hypocrisy. Check out this picture on his website:

Ummm, what's that behind his peanut head? Are those, *Gasp, Books?!?! Wait, so where'd those come from? Did they appear out of thin air, or did someone, um, Buy Them? Okay, granted, they may or may not be novels behind his head, but it could be, you never know. I wonder what's on his approved books to purchase list. Sessions also links to the American Library Association on his Kids Page. Last I checked, those places were oozing with dirty, nasty novels that the Library Purchased.

Despite the craziness of one kooky old man, I found this great article on Powell's Blog by the author of the memoir There Is No Me Without You, Melissa Fay Greene, a book that I desperately want to get devour before I go to Africa but probably won't because I promised to not buy anymore books this year. Damn promises. Greene writes in this article about her large family of seven children, four by birth and three by adoption. She continues by discussing the decision to add even more children from Ethiopia to their already large family and the reactions of their friends and family, one friend called her the old woman in the shoe. I loved this article because that's soooo me, I want to adopt and could see myself having a larger than life family, I want to be the old woman in the shoe! I already have a house overflowing with animals, why not kids too? It was an inspirational article and I can't wait to get my hands on her memoir to be even further inspired.

But for those who wish to be uninspired, check out this page of Demotivators. See, I try to tailor to all my readers, despite their motivation or lack there of preferences. Does that mean I'm bipartisan or an Independent? Ha.

Hot off the wire: Rumsfield quits... or was forced to quit? That is the question. I'd like to know what was said in the series of "thoughtful conversations" between Rumsfeld and Bush about the defense secretary's resignation. Either way, thank the lord. Also, Democrats won the Montana Senate seat, now we're just waiting on Virginia.


Reading Challenge

Okay, so there was a sale this weekend at a bookstore, and I went a little hog wild and bought 8 books (I told my hubby he should have came with me!) I've been bad, buying books when I have More than enough at home to read. I just can't help myself! I literally have 130 books on my Amazon wishlist... I know, it's a sickness. Logistically, also, it just doesn't make sense to buy more books. Any book lover knows, it's a pain in the ass to move with bunches of books! Those suckers are heavy!

Nonetheless, I found this challenge on Around the World in 100 Books and felt like it was literally speaking to me. So, I've resolved to buy no more books for the rest of the year (eek, I know it's only two months, but it seems so long!) and limit myself to a budget of $25 a month for books for next year, though I may wait to implement that after the move since we'll be tight for moolah in the mean time. Plus, soon I'll have college text books to buy again, ugh, I'm not looking forward to that!

I will devote myself to being happy with the books I have already purchased rather than continually looking forward to books I wish to purchase and will read books I already own. Wacky idea, isn't it?

I've also been slacking on reading in general just because of the business of applying to schools, selling cars, getting my house ready to sell, and other personal things that have popped up in my life distracting me from my reading (okay, fine, so television is the culprit part of the time!)

I'm going to set goals for the month of November:

  • Finish Crime and Punishment finally! I've picked it up and laid it down a number of times, not for want of interest, but because it always happened that a book would take precedence over it such as I had to finish a book for a book club meeting, or I borrowed a friend's book so wanted to finish it to get it back to them, etc. I will finish it this month!
  • Winter's Bone by Daniel Woodrell. I've wanted to read this book for a while, but I finally just purchased it this weekend at the sale and I'd like to get it read before the third of next month for Simply Wait's the third day book club! This month they blogged about Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, which I also purchased this weekend. Since I just bought the book, I didn't participate in the third day book club this month, but am eager to next month. It sounds like such a delightful idea! I hope I already own the book that will be blogged about for January 3rd since I'm not allowed to buy anymore.
  • Paint it Black by Janet Fitch. I've been dying to read her widely anticipated follow up to the amazing White Oleander since it has come out, but haven't had time yet. It took her 7 years to complete this one after the stress of the success of White Oleander hit her (damn you Oprah! Um, just kidding, please don't have me shot, Ms. Winfrey...)
  • The Celestine Vision by James Redfield. It's okay if I don't finish this in November since it's more of a spiritual read and is more of a "read as you need" type of book, but I think I need some spiritual grounding so I'll be hitting it up this month for sure.
  • The Art of Fiction: Notes on Craft for Young Writers by John Gardner. I'm not too concerned about finishing this one either since I've read it before, but I'd like to dip into it to inspire me to get back on track with my writing again. I've been slacking on that as well.
That's about a book a week if you count my goal to read at least parts of The Celestine Vision and The Art of Fiction, so they can count as one book in that sense. Not an overly ambitious goal for me, but one that will hopefully keep me on track with my reading and keep me from slacking and vegging out in front of the TV.

I'll be traveling a lot next year in January and then March so I'm hoping to get a lot of reading done then and have already laid out themed stacks of books for the trips. My husband must think I'm nuts, but of course I have my African novels laid out for my trip to Uganda and my European based novels for my trip to Europe in March. I can't be the only one who does this!

Good reading and writing folks! Wish me luck on focusing and buckling down. There's something about the winter that makes me feel incredibly lazy and like all I want to do is lay under the covers and do nothing. I must have been a bear in my past life, because I sure would like to hibernate for the winter. Wouldn't that be wonderful?

The Alchemist: A Review

In a book that reminded me a lot of The Celestine Prophecy Series by James Redfield (to such an extent that I'm inspired to reread my Celestine books), The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho offers a spiritual outlook on life in a tale of adventure and following one's destiny.

The story is simply written and allows the reader to follow a young boy on his path to his destiny. The book discusses omens, listening and trusting your heart, and the language of the world. It's a grounding book that encourages you to live in the present and to follow your dreams. This book is just what I needed in my hectic and scary time of quitting my job, moving and going back to school to follow my dreams. It's been stressful and I've more than once had doubts. It seems so easy to just stay at my wonderful, beautiful house which I'm completely in love with, start a family, stay in our shitty unfulfilling jobs, and live like nearly every other family in suburbia. But I know me and I know that I would never be happy living like that even if my family life is wonderful. Right now, I couldn't ask for a better home and personal life with my husband, yet I'm miserable because for 9 hours a day I'm subjecting myself to a completely unfulfilling, meaningless job that I hate and dread going to every single day. I cannot imagine being happy while at my current job. The Alchemist is inspiring and encouraging to those who want to follow their dreams instead of live a subpar life settling for what is safe and comfortable. It reminds me to connect spiritually with the world and to trust in fate/god/the world (whatever you choose to call the higher power) that if you pursue your dreams, while you will be tested, the universe conspires for you to achieve your dreams.

I really enjoyed the book. It was simple and straight to the point. I enjoyed the story and the vision and understanding of the universe in the book. It's a quick read that rejuvenates your spirit and focuses you away from all the distractions that surround you so you can follow your own fate. I recommend this book, especially if you need a little focus, grounding and spiritual rejuvenation.

Also, a friend loaned me Pride of Baghdad, a graphic novel by Brian K. Vaughan and Niko Henrichon. It was excellent and really exams many of the issues surrounding the liberation of Iraq in a vivid manner that only a graphic novel can. I highly recommend it.


Can I Vote Against Her?

Should I take pleasure in this? It feels so wrong and yet so right...

It's A Football Friday!

Okay, so I've been slacking a little on the football posts. It's been over a week since my last football post. I know, I'm gasping too. But as you could have guessed I've been a bit depressed about football recently. Why? BECAUSE THE STEELERS HAVE THE SAME RECORD AS THE BROWNS! Anyone who knows anything about football knows how awful that is. So, as I munch on the leftover Halloween candy (hmmm, chocolate) I've decided to take on a new approach to my Steelers games. Forget playoffs and repeating the Super Bowl, that's not even on the radar. I'm just going game by game and legitimately, the Steelers could win any game left on their schedule and they could lose any game left on their schedule. There are no more guaranteed wins or losses for the Steelers this season because they've been on such extremes of good and bad, you just don't know What Steelers you're getting.

I'm personally getting sick of the Ben Bashing and the Steelers fans giving up on the season. Sure, the ultimate purpose of each season is to win the Super Bowl, but only one team achieves that goal each year. So we have to have other goals and focuses, and like one of my favorite radio personalities from Sirius's NFL Radio, Solomon Wilcots, said in response to a Steelers' fan who wanted to rein Ben in like he was a rookie, let Ben play! Let him play out of his funk, gain confidence and become a better Quarterback for our future. Just because he's struggling, doesn't mean we don't have great things in our future. I believe in Ben and am totally confident he'll come back. What's ridiculous to me is that after hearing about the motorcycle accident, anyone would have said that our season was shot. And just because Ben came back, albeit perhaps a bit too early, everyone seemed to forget all that he'd been through this offseason and subsequently non-stop since. Dude, if this makes Ben a stronger person and QB, then so be it. We have A Lot more years with him then just this year. And what about the fact that he has yet to give us a bad year at all. Give him a break, people! I know fans are fickle, but this is ridiculous.

I think our major problems are our O-Line and Special Teams, and Not our QB. I'm not saying Ben isn't struggling, but our O-Line's not giving him much of a chance either. And now our O-Line is being shuffled. Great, that gives me confidence. Personally, I never thought our O-Line was great. I always thought they were average to good and Ben made up for their weaknesses with his mobility and made them look better than they really were. Now that he's recovering from Multiple injuries he's not as mobile, and here we see sacks galore and an interception party. Not to mention that the O-Line has not been opening up the running game at all. Our running game has been inconsistent and overall bad this year, and I really don't believe it's Willie's fault either.

And I don't even want to start with our (*cringe) special teams. Okay, I get letting go Randle-el because, honestly, he isn't worth what the Redskins are paying for him. But why let go of Quincy? A great returner and a veteran receiver... both of which we've desperately needed this year! And I'm still baffled by releasing Chidi, wasn't he our special teams Captain last year?

Overall, I think we could Totally win this weekend. But then again, we could get killed too.

Depends on which Steelers show up.


Cheap Books, Sad Death and a Plea for Peace

And I don't mean cheap in the trashy sense. For anybody else who's as obsessed with purchasing books as I am (to my husband's dismay), this site is a must. It's called BooksPrice.com and it compares book prices from the major online sellers so you can find the cheapest price. I even tested the site (the cynic that I am) and it doesn't favor any of the sellers, which is nice. Another cool feature that I really like is that it can find a book wishlist from Amazon.com, which is where I keep my book wishlist. I'm pretty excited about using this site to feed my growing book obsession. Nevermind that I have a bookcase full of say about 50 books that have yet to be read. I need More! Needless to say, it's a pretty cool website for book nerds like me and you. :)

On to more serious news, this story just about broke my heart.
(November 01, 2006) -- The true stories of how American troops, killed in Iraq, actually died keep spilling out this week. On Tuesday, we explored the case of Kenny Stanton Jr., murdered last month by our allies, the Iraqi police, though the military didn’t make that known at the time. Now we learn that one of the first female soldiers killed in Iraq died by her own hand after objecting to interrogation techniques used on prisoners.

She was Army specialist Alyssa Peterson, 27, a Flagstaff, Ariz., native serving with C Company, 311th Military Intelligence BN, 101st Airborne. Peterson was an Arabic-speaking interrogator assigned to the prison at our air base in troubled Tal-Afar in northwestern Iraq. According to official records, she died on Sept. 15, 2003, from a “non-hostile weapons discharge.”


“Peterson objected to the interrogation techniques used on prisoners. She refused to participate after only two nights working in the unit known as the cage. Army spokespersons for her unit have refused to describe the interrogation techniques Alyssa objected to. They say all records of those techniques have now been destroyed. ...

She was was then assigned to the base gate, where she monitored Iraqi guards, and sent to suicide prevention training. “But on the night of September 15th, 2003, Army investigators concluded she shot and killed herself with her service rifle,” the documents disclose.

- Editor & Publisher
Thank you to The Daily Dish for bringing this story to my attention. The trials of war on our soldiers is high and often underappreciated despite the "Support our Troops" car magnets. We can't forget the emotional trauma and deaths that are inflicted onto our soldiers and we can't forget that especially when they come home. Just because they're home doesn't mean their trauma is over. Anybody remember the Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder that ravaged Vietnam Veterans? It's obvious that this war has already taken an effect on some of our soldiers psychologically and has sadly resulted in a death of a true heroine. My heart goes out to her family.

A Child's Plea

When the children start begging for peace, isn't it about time we listened? In Northern Uganda, the children, many of whom have been abducted and forced to fight or be sex slaves for the LRA, have banded together to plead for successful peace talks. The Juba Peace Talks between the LRA and the Ugandan Government have been fragile since its beginnings and continue to be strained, but as one Ugandan child said, "We hope they keep the dialogue going. Beginning a new life is not difficult as long as you have peace." I hope the Ugandan government listens to their plea. It also wouldn't hurt for the rest of the world to hear their pleas and to show their support openly and monetarily for the peace talks. Sadly the international community has been oddly quiet about the peace talks, leaving Sudan the only vocal supporter for peace in Uganda.

Another child's plea comes from our first genital mutilation case in the United States. The little girl of an Ethiopian immigrant testified on a video tape that her father "cut me on my private part." Her mother apparently was unaware of this until two years afterward. In a grotesque tradition that is often still practiced in Africa, this marks the first case of female genital mutilation in this country. Thankfully the father was jailed.


On Politics

I was thinking about politics last night as the Elections come up and I felt overwhelmed with it all. I figured I couldn't be the only one, so I thought I'd mention it here. I took government class in high school and have tried to keep up with politics as much as possible, but sometimes not as much as I'd like. As I try to follow the news I feel like I need a refresher course or maybe I never learned as much as I should have in high school. I only had one government class for one semester, I think kids should have a lot more education on our government than that because it's frickin' complicated! Sometimes it all confuses the hell out of me! I understand the basic structure of our government and all that, but sometimes all the political BS that goes on just makes it difficult for me to follow politics, which maybe is the point of all that BS. It's more the political maneuvering that gets me confused, it makes it harder for me to see the truth and to understand what is really going on with our government. I was reading some of the issues that will be on the ballot and for some of the issues it's just impossible to understand what I'm voting for or against without some sort of interpretation written (and even that can be biased). It makes me feel dense and ignorant. Beyond that, I know there are the people who blindly follow a certain party and vote for their party only, and I understand why people are inclined to do this. It's a lot of work and effort to research the candidates and decided if you support them, you tend to trust your party to choose the best candidate. Yes, it's partly laziness, but also I wonder if it really is as confusing and overwhelming to the general populace as it is to me. I don't really want to be a party follower per se, though I am obviously closer to one side than the other, but I would like to feel more educated on the issues and candidates which I feel is hard with all the bashing each other campaigns that are out there right now. I don't learn anything about the actual candidate in the campaign commercials, only what the opposing candidate did wrong. While I don't believe at all the Kerry was bashing our troops with his "botched jokes", just the fact that his was once again bashing Bush makes me lose respect for him. Stop bashing and start telling me why you're a better option. There's criticizing a political opponents policies or approaches, but then there's just below the belt bashing by calling someone uneducated and lazy, which is basically what Kerry called Bush. Grow the fuck up. Everyone in politics could use a little growing up. I mean, they're supposed to be solving our nation's problems and all they can do is bash each other. Are we in elementary school here?

I, as many do, of course hate our politics. It's dirty and shady without a doubt and has lost much of what it was meant to be. Many things dismay me, from the blatant use of fear to control people to the lack of separation of church and state. I feel that many people end up washing their hands of politics because of the distaste it leaves in their mouths, but I think this is a mistake. It's clear to me that apathy in the people is what has led to much of the debacle in Washington. When people stop paying attention, that's when the government can start taking advantage of its people. So despite the fact that it is perhaps harder than ever to keep up with politics because of the over-information and the lack of any objectivity in the majority of the information, I will still trudge forward. It's gotten to the point where I skim headlines on politics because there are so many and when I read the content often it's so laced with biased I can't stand it.

I'm wondering what do you do to keep up on politics and stay educated? What non-biased (or as non-biased as possible) sources do you read/watch/listen to in order to stay in the know with politics and what's going on in the world? I'm sick of the strongly biased stations, etc. Where do you go for some Good Reporting? I'm so sick of sifting through all the political bullshit, I just need a No BS Zone for my information. Does one exist anymore?

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