I enjoyed reading the Twilight series of books. I liked that Stephenie Meyer captured that innocent, nauseating, obsessive, sweet feeling of teenage love. Plus, the book revolved around a cute vampire. You can't go wrong with that. I was an Anne Rice fiend in high school so I enjoyed this new series that gave a peek into a vampire's world.
I had seen the trailers for the new movie and I wasn't too impressed, but I knew I would go and see it. I had read the book. How could I not see the movie?
AMC, can I please have my $5 back? Oh, my, it was disappointing and so horrible. And, my poor husband thought he would accompany me...see what all the fuss was about when it came to the books. Ugh. I haven't been reading reviews on the movie, but eek! It was so incredibly cheesy. The actor who plays Edward (the vampire) was adorable and he made the teenage girls in the audience swoon, but seriously the movie was activating my gag reflex. Toward the end of the movie, we enjoyed the action, but all-in-all...the movie was just wretched (ooh, I like that word...haven't used it in a while). I don't even want to go into all of the details that made the movie bad because then this post would just be shy of a novella. Just take it from me that it is not worth seeing. The snoring person that was sitting behind Ry and I at the movie is evidence enough of the suspense in the movie. I should add that the nasal symphony started only 15 minutes into the movie. *cringe* Not good.
Now, if your gross curiosity gets the better of you, see if you can find Stephenie Meyers in the movie. She has a quick bit in the movie, taking a tip from Stan Lee.
Movies I am hoping to see in the next few weeks...Australia with Hugh Jackman (yummy) and Nicole Kidman - it looks so 1960's epic movie; Quantum of Solace with Daniel Craig - heard the action is spectacular; and RockNRolla with Thandie Newton, Jeremy Piven and Gerard Butler (he's a Scottish treat I don't mind looking at) - it's a Guy Ritchie film -- don't think I need to say more.
For Thanksgiving yesterday, I went with my parents and we volunteered at Phoenix Rescue Mission. This was the fourth year we have gone to the Mission to serve Thanksgiving dinner to the people who rely on the organization for food, shelter and help. It is always a wonderful blessing to meet people and hear their stories, praying that they get the hand up they need to begin again. Yesterday was a little different, the faces were different. There were faces that looked like my friends and family. The economy's impact was felt in that dining hall yesterday...and I was so glad to be able to help. For five hours, my heart was singing with the harmony that only comes when you give of yourself to others. I love volunteering!
After spending half of the day at the Mission, I went to the grocery store and bought provisions so I could bake away the rest of the day. I baked my first pecan pie...it looks pretty darn good if you ask me (we eat it tonight so hopefully it tastes as good as it looks). And, with molasses on the shelf for the pie, I also baked molasses spice cookies. It was wonderful to have the freedom and energy to dance in the kitchen to some of my favorite music playing on my iPod and bake something for others to enjoy. When Ryan got home last night, I was still a ball of energy, but my legs weren't keeping up with me. They started hurting at the joints. I felt like I had been walking at Disneyland all day. And, as I began to tell Ry about my day, I realized that I wasn't too far off. I had enjoyed my free day so much that I hadn't sat down once.
For the first time in six years, I had the Friday after Thanksgiving off. I wasn't exactly sure what to do with myself. So, I cleaned the house and organized the two bathroom cabinets. Around the time I was ready for a break, Ry gave me a call and said he was ready to meet for lunch. Yum...sushi!
I was back in the kitchen this afternoon, making cauliflower au gratin for Thanksgiving dinner tonight with the family and oatmeal cookies. I plan to make rice krispie treats and chocolate chip cookies. Yes, can you tell I am on a baking binge?
In between all of this cooking and helping, I finished a wonderful book -- The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger. It had come recommended by several people and I had purchased it at Changing Hands as a gift to myself on my birthday. Oh, it was divine! What a love story! I didn't want the characters to leave. I didn't want the book to end. It wasn't a sappy love story, but one that had beauty, sacrifice, tribulation, sensuality and patience. It is a wonderful book that I devoured and savoured during the week. I finished the book last night admist the peace of a quiet house surrounded by a lovely autumn storm, eating a tasty meal that my husband and I created together.
I have started reading Saturday by Ian McEwan. I have enjoyed his writing immensely in the previous books I have read of his so I am looking forward to this one.
So much happiness this weekend. Happiness is something for which I am very thankful. I am also very thankful for my loving family, beautiful friends, an adorable work-in-progress home, a job that makes a difference in the lives of others, and an all around blessed life. God certainly takes care of me through good and bad and I wouldn't be able to make it without him. His love is all around my husband and I...for that we are most grateful. Happiness.
p.p.s. I was complaining in a previous post about concerts. Well, they are still lacking around the Valley, but I am excited about the upcoming Bloc Party show at The Marquee. Snow Patrol will also be in town. Planning to see Bloc Party.
Yesterday, I went to Borders with a 40% off coupon in hand so I could buy a couple of CD's at a discount. I felt like a traitor to my favorite local music store because I was giving my money and business to this big conglomerate store. A scarf on my head and large oversized glasses would have been the perfect costume for my trip into retail enemy territory. But, money is tight and who can refuse getting a CD for $10?
So, I confess...I am a traitor to my shop local mantra. I feel like I should be flogged for my bad behavior.
On top of this horrible indiscretion, I also bought Christmas CD's yesterday and well, I am listening to one of the CD's right now. That is right. It is November 11 and I am listening to Loreena McKennit sing exotic Christmas tunes through the speakers of my laptop. What has become of my grey matter?
I do admit that the Christmas music greatly increases my good mood and makes the stress melt away. I don't think I could listen to it in April, but with the cooler weather and Christmas only a month or so away, it doesn't feel all too bad. Small doses of holiday music aren't too bad.
Rest assured...there is no reason to worry for my well-being just yet. But, if I begin to link to Borders on my blog or I am listing Brian Setzer's Christmas Album among my favorite albums next July...someone call 9-1-1. Be sure they bring a straight jacket; I have thoroughly lost my mind.
Post Script... Highly recommend the new Kaiser Chiefs album, Off With Their Heads. Great sound. Purchased the new Keane and my guilt has kept me from peeling off the plastic wrapper. But, I am sure it will be opened by the week's end.
Waiting with impatience for the new Killers album to come out on November 25.
Post Post Script... Where are all of the good live music concerts? We have not one good band coming to Arizona in the next few months. I am in withdrawal, people!!
Last week I started reading The City of Dreaming Books by Walter Moers. He is a German author whose books I stumbled upon while perusing for the brilliant red dot that indicates a used book at Changing Hands Bookstore.
I was interested in the story(according to the back it a tale of adventure. And, when choosing a book, any chance to awaken my imagination is a huge plus for me. I tend to read books that allow me to escape.
Oh, it is so much more than I thought it would be! It is a good antidote for Harry Potter readers who yearn for the fantastical creatures and environments created by J.K. Rowling. Mr. Moers has a wonderful imagination. He has not only put in front of me a new world and habitants but a history and context for each character I meet. He paints a picture that makes my lips curl up into a smile every time I open the pages. And, to bring alive the child inside, I am surprised and delights by endearing illustrations of the characters he has drawn.
You may think it is a children's book, but it's not. It's an adult fiction book that takes me on an adventure whenever I turn the page. It is a book that gives me permission to go back to the days when I would anticipate the mobile library and the Choose Your Own Adventure Books. It has brought back to me an enthusiasm I have not had for books since reading Harry Potter, Narnia Chronicles or Lord of the Rings.
I haven't finished the book, but I am hooked! I am determined to read his other books so I can meet more of the inhabitants of Zamonia. His book is a great pick for those adults who want to indulge their imagination.
I completed The Other Queen by Philippa Gregory and I was really disappointed. I saw her read an excerpt from this book at my local bookstore and was thrilled to begin devouring the words on the page. It left me unsatisfied to say the least. And, it is on one of my favorite British monarchs -- Mary Queen of Scots. I mean, how could she not be interesting. She was a sneaky lass. This book was just not as deep and moving as The Other Boleyn Girl. I had little interest in the characters and so much of what was developed on them seemed only on the surface. I want to see in their heads. This did not happen with this book. I would take the book back to get credit for other books, but I resist the temptation because it is signed.
A great book is Monsters of Templeton. This book by Lauren Groff is brilliant. She paints a lovely picture of the fictional town of Templeton, based on Cooperstown in beautiful upstate New York. She gives us a flawed character that we fall in love with and gives a biography of the town of Templeton. We meet the people who built the town and the scandal that followed them. It gives a new perspective on geneology and the secrets you will unearth as you dig into the family tree. Oh, and there is a monster that gives opportunity for commentary on society today. It is really a wonderful read. I highly recommend it.
The last book I read was Spanish Dagger by Susan Wittig Albert. I love her China Bayles series. China teaches you about herbs and plants as she tracks down the bad guy. This is one of my favorite series. If you want a good mystery with comfortable characters, this is a great book to pick up. I also have to mention that Susan Wittig Albert is one of my favorite authors. She is very much an advocate for women telling their stories. She supports writing groups and story-telling stories. I also like the fact that she replies to my e-mails and has actually read my blog. You can't find a cooler author in my book. She is genuine and an inspiration for me as a female writer.
My current read is The City of Dreaming Books by Walter Moers. I came across this jewel of a book when I was last at Changing Hands. It was a Birthday gift to myself. I don't know how I overlooked this book before, but so far...it is just fun, fun, fun. It lets me use my imagination and I look forward to the adventure that is unfolding in the pages. It is kind of Harry Potter-ish in feeling. The writing and vocabulary in it are brilliant. I won't give away too much just yet. I am enjoying it and if it continues to awe me, I may be purchasing this book for some of the people I love.
I haven't blogged in quite a while. And, there is good reason for that. I have had a lot of change in my life. Okay, only one change, but it was a big one. I resigned from my position at the Food Bank and took a position with another nonprofit organization. I gave three weeks notice and in those three weeks I put in hours equal to three Thanksgivings. I have so much love for the Food Bank and I wanted to ensure the transition was a smooth one.
So, I started my new job at Planned Parenthood last week. Wow! It is so different. The politics and issues are infectious. And, there is so much I need to learn to become a proficient speaker on what the organization does. I am thrilled! And, I am slowly getting aclimated.
Being at Planned Parenthood, this election has become even more exciting than it already was for me. The health care policies of each state hinge on the election. Whether low-income women and men have access to birth control, and schools have access to sex education depends on the outcome from tonight. It is exhilirating...will the organization celebrate or roll up its sleeves to re-educate the legislature?
Right now, I am watching TV. The Arizona Biltmore appears to be mobbed by the press. So much excitement in Phoenix. Saw some photos on Twitter taken by a friend and local journalist. What a crazy environment! Excitement is sizzling through the air today. You can feel it! This is what democracy should be. There should be this much excitement every time the issues are on a ballot. For a political junkie...this is a dream.
So I don't continue to babble, I must relate two stories. First, this morning, Ry and I showed up at our normal retirement community polling place at 6:12 a.m. Polls opened at 6 a.m. There was already a long and winding line. We waited for an hour and a half. I thought our wait was horrendous, but then when I saw photos on The Washington Post and The New York Times...we were lucky. I also saw local blogs about people starting to line up at 4:30 a.m. this morning to vote and beat the crowds. Eek! Regardless, I survived the ignorant, blah-blah discussion that went on around us. People trying to figure out propositions while standing in line? Come on people! Prepare!
This final story...it is not election related, but it is a story that relates to stupidity. Driving home from work this evening, I was on the freeway and saw ahead of me a police officer with his cherries and blueberries flashing. He was weaving across all of the lanes to create a freeway break. Hasn't everyone seen these? Well, one person (talking on their cell phone) in their Hyundai Tucson seemed to think that the traffic break was merely a suggestion and something that pertained to him or her. When the police car broke to the left, the Tucson broke to the right. The police officer saw the SUV swerve and try to go around so he moved back to the right side of the freeway lane. The SUV swerved to the left, again trying to get by the police car. Can we say moron? Well, the Hyundai tried one more time to allude the police officer in front him or her and almost ran into the police car's rear. Oooh, that would not be pretty. I thought the SUV finally got the hint because it began to just drive down the center lane as the police car continued the break. But, no, the idiocy continued. The driver stayed back and then when they saw an opening, they went for it. The police car at that time, pulled to the left, the police officer got out and threw a tire off the road. The Tucson went right by. The cop yelled at the SUV, jumped into his car and went after him or her with lights blaring. I saw the police officer pull over the vehicle and I couldn't help but giggle. Stupid, stupid, stupid! Think the police officer will cuff the driver?
This evening will mark history...no matter who is elected.
Before reading Breaking Dawn, I absorbed the wonderful prose that is Jhumpa Lahiri's Unaccustomed Earth. The second book of Lahiri's short stories, it was a breathtaking surprise that I was delighted to imbibe. Her writing has grown into something complete. I loved each of her books before --The Namesake and Interpreter of Maladies. She introduced me to characters I enjoyed learning about, but I was always wanting more. Sometimes, the second half of the story seemed rushed or unfinished. But, Unaccustomed Earth is different. It is perfection.
Each story left me full and satisfied. Each story came full circle with depth and emotion. And, she played with different angles and writing styles. I was beyond impressed with this book. I cannot wait until she comes out with another novel, letting me back into her Indian-inspired world.
This week I finished reading Breaking Dawn by Stephenie Meyer. The series is done, I'm content and I'm already missing the characters. Now I wonder what the hubbub was about. I never read the articles about fans being discontented with the new book because every article had spoilers in it. But, seriously, what was everyone ticked about? Was it because neither of the men in Bella's life did not die? Was it because the story tied up so nicely? Geesh, the author loves her characters...she wanted them to end up happy. I think it is an honorable thing in an author.
I have to say that this last book was the best in the series. It let me see the world through a vampire's eyes (a nice vampire, but a vampire nonetheless). The writing was more complex. And, I was introduced to more vampire characters and some of the lore behind the supernatural creatures. Granted there are some cheesy moments, but there are quite a few of them in this series. It's a fun read. You care about the characters and I was glad that the book was left open so that there could be more to the series. I am not sure what everyone's beef was with Breaking Dawn, but I liked it. I look forward to what the author can do as her writing matures and develops. She's a good story teller and that is the first step to be a truly great writer.
I have been asked to write a correction to my Blog entry about our vacation to Los Angeles. In my entry describing our activities at the top of the San Jacinto Mountain in Palm Springs I said the squirrels were slightly obese.
Correction: The squirrels were REALLY obese. They were so fat that there was a group of children who made up a song about one of the squirrels that started with "Fatty Fatso." The photo attached with this blog entry will attest to the thick squirrels we encountered among the pines.
There was a sign posted in clear view about feeding the animals. And, obviously people are illiterate or they just think they are above the law that is the San Jacinto Park Rangers.
I may be in trouble with the Lord for typing this, but seriously...does anyone else expect to go to church and actually hear about the Bible and our duty as Christians? Or, is it just me? Today in church there was a complete lack of message coming from the pulpit. It sounded more like my pastor was doing a commercial for the church. Granted it was Fellowship Fair today (also known as Open House or Please Sign Up for a Committee or Volunteer Opportunity of Some Kind Day), but I didn't realize that meant all signals we were at service had to be thrown out the window.
I will give credit to the pastor that there was a passage from the Bible read to the congregation. It referred to our responsibility to take care of the earth, tying into the theme for the day's activities -- Be Green!
So, as I attempted to stay awake (because Ry and I had stayed up way too late last night), I wrote up an impromptu poem, inspired by the Amen at the end of the sermon, sung beautifully by our choir.
Round melodious sound Beginning anew and finality of forgiveness
Song, word, prayer in one Expression of soul, heart and will
A word to say when quiet is too still And, perhaps there is no need to say more
Namaste, Shalom, Amen
Round, infinite, eternal vibration of deep love, peace and one voice
Post Script: I believe the poem was in part because I am going to help my senior high youth write poems tonight for a Poetry Slam they are doing in a week. I was in that mind set.
Okay, so maybe the book wasn't total rubbish. It was a great concept that had me inspired and excited to take time to write. But, I did get rather bored with it. Wait...I don't think I have told you the book yet. Have I?
The last book I read was The Post-Birthday World by Lionel Shriver. I was really looking forward to reading it when I purchased it with a gift card in January. I had seen reviews for it in a couple of different places and it sounded like a writer's kind of book.
The concept behind the book is brilliant. It all hinges on one decision and then the book takes two directions from the decision-making point. Every chapter has two versions based on whether she kisses a man or not. Does she taste the fruit and get kicked out of eden (aka her long-term relationship) and is content with the new knowledge of infidelity, her sexuality and being all-around the person she wasn't before? Or, does she behave and do as society would dictate?
I was loving the book through the first half and then began to lose interest in the character's self-absorbed, yet naive, attitude. Not to mention some of the mundane in the book was beginning to wear me out. To be fair to the writer, she has an extraordinary vocabulary and she has a strong grasp for the human condition. She does a wonders expressing the deep-down of her main character/narrator. But, the whole book is told from the first person. I yearned for another voice. I ached for the perspective of the complex characters she introduces me to me.
I finished reading the book while I was on vacation a week ago. And, frankly, I was relieved that it was finally over. I was satisfied with the ending and it wrapped everything up nicely, but I didn't care to meet her character again which is generally a rarity for me when I read books. I can usually find some redeeming quality for a character so that I still want to peek behind their eyes again in the future. But, not this one.
After a week of marination and thought...the book wasn't total rubbish. As a writer, I can now appreciate the fact that the author gave me a perfectly voyeuristic view into the life of a common person. She let me see the struggle, pain, passion, and imperfection that exists in other lives outside of mine. Yes, we know people are generally like us, but sometimes it is hard to remember this when you are trying to get a clear view through our everyday mess, wonder, awe, and just general living.
I am the kind of person who reads a book to get away. I like faraway places. I adore happy endings. I like books that take me away from my everyday stress. This book showed that real life, without firework-creating kisses and violin soundtracks in the background, can be art. It can be inspiration for a book that can fascinate the reader. And, it can be written well.
With that, I have found some additional strength and encouragement to continue writing my book. So, maybe the book wasn't all rubbish. But, it won't keep me from turning it into the bookstore for credit toward another book.
Post Script: Current read is Unaccustomed Earth by Jhumpa Lahiri. Love her writing and was fortunate enough to borrow this from a friend.
Why does vacation have to be over so soon? We had a lovely vacation in California, returning the Sunday before Labor Day. Our extra long weekend included:
1. A trip up the mountain on the Palm Springs aerial tram. We walked around at the top and stood in awe of the overfed, slightly obese squirrels.
2. A glorious day and a half on Catalina Island. We stayed at the lovely Old Turner Inn, rented bicycles to ride around Avalon, tried ice cream from Big Olaf's and watched Hancock at the Avalon Casino. The beautiful art deco walls of the theatre with the plush red velvet seats was a treat, especially while we chewed on salt water taffy.
3. A wonderful concert of John Williams conducting the LA Philharmonic at the Hollywood Bowl. Yes, he had the orchestra play the Olympic Fanfare, Indiana Jones, and Superman, but the performance of Star Wars was fantastic! I have never seen so many glowing sticks, errr I mean light sabres, waving around in the air at one time.
Can you tell why we weren't in a hurry to come home?
Other highlights of our weekend included, my best friend's birthday party, Griffith Observatory, Sherman's Delicatessan in Palm Springs, Colorado Avenue in Pasadena, Beard Papa's cream puffs while watching the weirdos on Highland and Hollywood, and roaming the Farmer's Market.
Catalina was wonderful and we certainly didn't want to leave. And, the Hollywood Bowl was spectacular. But, the best part about our visit... holding my little nephew Corron. He is home! I didn't want to put him down.
I read the linked story below on the Valley PR Blog this morning and it was too good not to post for the reading pleasure of others. To lead in...two men have been making it their mission to go around the country making edit corrections to misspelled signs. Love it!
For a person who will sit down and edit agendas put in front of her or who will actually point out misspelled signage on trucks and buildings in disgust, I understand the mission that these two men are taking on. It is too bad that this miserable state of Arizona arrested them for their dubious act. And, why? Oh, why, was their Web site taken down? There are a few stories about these grammar-defending superheroes as part of the blog post. Enjoy!
It is 10 p.m. and my eyelids are certainly getting heavy, but I so wanted to make sure I wrote some kind of Blog entry today. So I will keep it short and sweet. What have I been up to lately? Here's a list... 1. I had a toe reading and a reiki session at the Summer Spa Series over the weekend. That was wonderful! I discovered some things about myself.
2. I reported to work on Monday at 3:15 a.m. in order to usher in media. The Food Bank was sending food boxes, water, hygiene items and blankets up to Peach Springs for the evacuees from the Grand Canyon. If you didn't hear about it; a dam broke on the Colorado River and so the water rose 10 feet.
3. Ry and I went to the Diamondbacks game against the Padres. The D-Backs are hosting an event for us and I met with our contact to see the venue. As a bonus we got some lovely club level tickets. Turned out to be a close game.
4. I made an appointment with myself to take time out to write and work on my book. I got a decent amount done during my two hours at one of my favorite coffee houses in Phoenix on Wednesday.
5. Today I met James Carville at a Phoenix Forum luncheon. He even posed with me for a photo. He and his wife, both on opposite ends of the spectrum, gave a great discussion on the current presidential race. He was a really engaging speaker. I was incredibly impressed.
So that is what I have been up to. On another note...I was thoroughly disappointed over the weekend. For months I have been looking through my photos from our trips last year to pick out a few and submit them to the National Geographic amateur photo contest. Finally had my photos and was ready to see if I had a chance at the grand prize -- a cruise to Antartica. So, I was reading the rules mid-registration and I saw the most horrible set of words ever..."Residents of Arizona are ineligble." Why??? I wish N.G. had put a reason as to why my state of residence was left out. I was deflated in an instant and obviously I still haven't gotten over it.
I know I will probably still buy National Geographics' Travel magazine, but begrudgingly. I know my Thailand photos would have had a chance. I just know it. I was just a tiny bit close to having one of my photos in an exhibit in New York. Maybe they will let me enter next year?
I finally got to go to yoga tonight after about a month and a half of having busy Thursday nights.
Ahhh. Breathing in, breathing out. Stretch. Twist. I love the awakening of my body and its muscles.
Didn't realize how much I had missed it until I had my feet firmly planted, toes wide and spread on the blue smooshy mat.
And, I was able to share the moment with one of my best friends, making strange looks at me when our instructor suggested something that seemed impossible.
Sounds like every Thursday will be yoga night for me and B.
Tomorrow is Friday and I am feeling zen about the prospect at this moment.
p.s. While I am sitting here writing in my blog with spare words. I have this one thing to say. Yes, Michael Phelps is an amazing athlete. But, seriously, can we stop talking about him for one minute. I heard him on NPR three times today. He was mentioned on two different TV stations. And, now they are talking nonstop about him. Yippee, he won another medal. How about talking about some other Olympians? They had to work just as hard to get there.
I am sure a million people are blogging about the Olympics. So, I will just be one of the sheep in the flock.
Ever since the opening ceremonies last Friday, our evenings have changed. Every dinner is eaten in front of the TV. We root. We yell. We jump and down, encouraging our favorite athletes. Last night's men's gymnastics was outstanding. And, no matter what you may think about Michael Phelps, he is amazing. He makes it look so effortless.
Watching the Olympics with my husband brings back so many sweet summer memories from my childhood. Sitting indian-style on the living room floor, popsicle in hand as drips of purple or red liquid fall languidly on my leg while I look on in suspense. Who doesn't remember Mary Lou Retton winning the gold? I can instantly smell the corn on the cob and hot dogs in the background. Hear my mother squelch out a scream of encouragement with her hands up to her mouth. The Olympics were always a family affair and they continue to be.
I have noticed that this Olympics has been a little more emotional for me. I know that many people have been critical of China and how they treat their own people. They are very much aware of this criticism, but while all of this whirls around, they still opened up their country to people from all over the world, making them vulnerable. I have been listening to NPR for the last couple of weeks and it has made me have a soft spot for the Chinese. They know this can change how the world perceives them. Maybe they will see what it is like to be in the positive limelight and they will change their perspective on Tibet? Can't goodwill beget goodwill?
We have always wanted to visit China, not just because it is part of my husbands ancestry, but the culture, people and places of the country look so beautiful. And, although there has been much to criticize, it hasn't deterred me from wanting to go. And, now, watching the Olympics, I have an even stronger urge to visit. Someday we will get to visit and I know we will love it.
p.s. Can't help but think that it's a sign -- the next Olympics just happens to be held in my favorite city -- London. Maybe we will start saving now for that trip?
Last night my husband and I had dinner with his cousin from Florida. He was passing through town on his way to Los Angeles, traveling with a motorcycle stunt group competing in the XDL Series. It was fascinating to hear about his job, videotaping their competitions and practice sessions. As he explained to us about XDL, it sounded very cool, but nothing compared to the real thing.
We were treated to a nice surprise when he had us go with him to where the guys on the tour were practicing their stunts. We pulled around and you could smell the fuel and hear the rev of the engines. In a parking lot behind an industrial park, six guys on motorcycles that resembled rockets sped up to nearly 80 miles an hour and then would put on the break to travel down the asphalt on their front or back tire. Wow!
It was just amazing to watch. They would pop up the motorcycle on a wheelie and then proceed to twirl it around as if the bike were a dancing partner. I waited for the sound of strings in the romantic movement of a ballet to begin when one of the riders for maneuver his motorcycle in a circle and then proceed to put one foot behind him like a ballerina.
It was a special treat to see Tim and the treat was made sweeter with the motorcycle acrobatics and performances we got to watch upclose. Thank you, Tim. We can't wait until the competition comes to Phoenix in October so we can see more of what these precision riders can do.
Want to see a little bit of video on the team Tim supports? They are Team Warped --comprised mostly of riders from California, Arizona and New Mexico. We were particularly impressed with Jesse Toler.
Frankly all other TV just plain sucks right now. So, what is a girl to do?
Tonight I was saved by my husband when we watched the three acts that comprise Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog. What fun! I may have had a slight crush on Neil Patrick Harris when he was Doogie Howser, but that was decades ago. Now, I find him irresistibly hilarious and brilliant in this online-only web-blog created by Harris and Joss Whedon.
Dr. Horrible may be evil, but boy, do I love him. Now, my hope is that there will be more than just the three acts that were released. We need more Dr. Horrible!
On another note, I have begun to read The Post-Birthday World by Lionel Shriver. So far the characters are intriguing and I am really enjoying the writing. And, how could it be too bad? It takes place in my favorite city -- London.
Okay, so on Saturday, I decided that I would get some semi-permanent hair color so I could even out my color -- something dark blond so it would look natural and not colored at all. I picked up a color called Golden Honey while I was at Target. It looked unassuming and rather harmless.
On Sunday morning, I decided to use the hair color I purchased. I reaffirmed with a good read and solid deduction that this would indeed be a great way to even out my color. After about 12 minutes on my hair, I climbed into the shower and rinsed away the gel that had been working its magic upon my locks.
Later on as I was blowdrying my hair, I began to notice that the color didn't look anything like the color on the box. In fact, it looked very much like a reddish hue they had on the box called Spiced Cider. Was it the right color in the box? I looked at the container that had the color in it and it matched the number on the packaging. Hmmm?
I now have a lovely Scottish/Irish Auburn color. It doesn't look too bad with my blues eyes and fair skin. Not what I had envisioned, but I am getting used to being a fiery redhead.
For about a month now I have been Tweeting away on Twitter. I find it quite fun to be able to share small blurbs of genuis with whomever may be looking my way at that moment. The best part of it is the spontaneity because I can Tweet from my cell phone. A simple Tweet can be what I am doing at the moment, but I prefer to write about interesting observations in the world around me, as well as give recommendations on restaurants, books, music or movies. You can find me on Twitter at www.twitter.com/cyndec. And, anyone reading my blog decides to sign up for Twitter, let me know what your username is...would love to follow you.
On another note, I am halfway through Eclipse and I am really enjoying it. Learning a little more history about Edward and Jacob's families. I have been on a righteous heavy metal kick lately. I would like to blame this little excursion into the glam hair realm on playing Guitar Hero way too much. But, I have to say one thing for metal, it sure keeps you going at the gym.
We went to the movies last night, on a whim, to see Wanted. I had been wanting to see it ever since trailers began to appear last fall. The draw of James McAvoy is plenty for me, but I had also read the comic book on which this movie was based. It is an intriguing diversion from the typical hero and villain comic books. In Wanted it is up to the reader as to whether or not these trained assassins are the good guys or the bad guys. And, although the main character, Wesley Gibson (portrayed by McAvoy) seems to think he has found himself after his escapade into this underground world you are still wondering -- he is a hero or a villain? It all depends on your perspective.
It was great that Millar and Jones who created the original comic books actually wrote the screenplay for the movie. The editing on it was fun and had some of those Matrix-like slow-action sequences that made your heart stop for a second. It is definitely an adrenaline rush the last third of the movie. And, while gravity may not agree with all of the stunts that are CG'd into the film -- I say, "who cares." It makes for a great movie that was just plain fun to watch.
Oh, another plus to this movie -- Danny Elfman did the music. He also did the music for Hellboy III which adds to that movie's draw (next on our list to see).
There are rumors that McAvoy has signed up to do two more installments of Wanted. Could he make his name in the states doing action? I can't lie and say I didn't appreciate seeing him flash his newly sculpted muscles on the screen, but he is an actor whose depth can be used for much better things. Atonement and Last King of Scotland were just the tips of the iceberg. I fully believe he can earn his right to be on the A-list in the U.S. by doing really juicy roles, but maybe this is the kind of work he needs to do to catch our finicky attention on the other side of the pond.
In the meantime, seek out the Wanted comics. If you are a fan of graphic novels...you should enjoy these.
Okay, for most people, reality TV is their guilty pleasure. Or maybe they indulge in a martini while wearing $200 shoes or flirt with the bartender just before they go home to their husband. But, I would like to confess to my guilty pleasure -- reading teen fiction.
And, my latest dip into the teen fiction realm has left me breathless. Twilight has been in the limelight a lot lately because of the movie coming out later this year and I was curious about all of the fuss. I wasn't disappointed. It is a romance book for teenage girls, but the writing is powerful...so much more so than the normal seam-ripper you find at the grocery store. The characters are intense. The narrator of the book, and main character, Bella, is real. She isn't perfect. She is insecure and prone to accidents. She is an awkward teenager; someone we can all relate to. And, well, she just happens to fall in love with a vampire.
Edward. The actor who plays this character is guaranteed to have thousands of teenage girls (and their mothers, older sisters, aunts and college friends) swooning and screaming for him. Edward is sexy and erotic (like any other vampire would be in fiction, right?). Any woman would have a crush on this sensitive-hearted monster who abstains from drinking human blood...oh, and having sex.
I am currently reading the third book in this series, Eclipse, so I can catch up and read Breaking Dawn when it comes out on August 2. And, last night I thought about the fact that Bella and Edward never have sex and how that doesn't seem to reduce the steaminess. In fact the tension is sexier by far. It is more upfront than the tension created by a pair of Jane Austen lovers, but the feeling for the reader is almost the same. You love that they have that tension and they don't hold back emotions -- yes, they tend to be dramatic, but it's a book. Why not have drama?
I am hooked on this series and I'm confident others will like the journey into a dreamy world of vampires...and other creatures (so i don't spoil it)...in the green and gray of Washington. I don't think I have been this excited about a vampire and his family since Anne Rice introduced the world to Lestat. Enjoy!
I just finished reading The Memory Keeper's Daughter by Kim Edwards. This is a wonderful book of prose. The words flow across the page like a gentle breeze. I imbibed every syllable. The book weaves relationships based on well-intended lies (if there is such a thing) and deceit. Pride takes center stage with the characters as well, often prompting the miscommunication and incidents that occur.
The book begins in the early 60s when a doctor's wife has twins -- one perfectly healthy and the other is considered a mongoloid (later called Down's Syndrome). Remembering the anxiety and hurt that his Down's Syndrome sister caused his mother and family, the doctor decides to have the nurse take the "sick" twin to an institution.
The nurse isn't able to leave the baby girl and the doctor tells his wife their little girl died at birth. The book then becomes two simultaneous stories. We watch the nurse raise the girl as her own, fighting for her daughter to have equal rights in school and community. The chasm caused by the death of their little girl creates turmoil and grief between the doctor, his wife and son.
I was intrigued by the characters, their pains and their celebrations. It was life -- good and bad. I have to say I was a little disappointed in the end. It wrapped up nicely, but it had a touch of the corny and sentimental -- a voice that didn't match the rest of the book. All in all, I would highly recommend this book to anyone.
p.s. I apologize if this is not a fully developed and detailed book review. I had written a brilliant one earlier and the text was lost when I lost power on my computer. But, I think you get the idea.
Yesterday, a dear friend of mine and I went to The Boulders Resort in Carefree to be pampered and receive goody bags like the rock stars we most certainly are not...and it was all for a wonderful cause. The event benefited the Fresh Start Women's Foundation.
Fresh Start is a resource center for women, which helps them with resumes so they can find a job to courses on budgeting and anger management. Recognizing that women faces challenges every day without the support they truly need to overcome those challenges, Fresh Start gives women the tools they need to be successful in life. It is a great organization.
And, the event is a lot of fun. For $25, you help a great cause and try out a Valley spa that you may not have the money to ever go to any other time. The Boulders is primetime and gorgeous. Surrounded by rock formations and desert landscape, it was hard not to relax. I got a 20-minute treatment -- I chose a reflexology session -- and there are classes available to attendees. My friend and I went to the self-defense session and an introduction to pilates (my abs are still hurting from this one).
While there, we munched on fruit, sweet treats from one of my favorite bakeries -- Let Them Eat Cake -- and other healthy snacks from the spa. And, when we left, we were treated to a goody bag filled with a full-size bottle of shower gel from Philosophy, a full-size jar of Whish shaving cream (divine) and a load of other samples and coupons.
I will be going to another spa event this summer to benefit Fresh Start. It is in August at the Southwest Institute of the Healing Arts in Tempe. Looks like a lot of fun and they still have spaces. So if you live in the Valley and want to help out a wonderful organization...come and hang out.
Yesterday, my husband turned 40 (that's him in the photo, riding a bike in Thailand) and his birthday gave me a whole new perspective on what it means to turn another decade older.
When he and I started dating almost 12 years ago, he was still in his 20's on the precipice of 30. I am 7 years younger and so at 21, he seemed much more mature than I and was a wonderful confidant to help me navigate life after college. After we were together for a couple of years, I never thought of our age difference. It was never an issue in how we related to one another -- we are true soulmates in every sense of the word. And, we discovered that many of our other friends were part of the "7 Club." We were normal.
A couple of weeks ago while I was planning his birthday party a.k.a. laser tag extravaganza, it hit me that my husband was going to be 40. "Wow! This is the age that many of us probably begin to think of adults as being old. But, he doesn't look or act 40. Ryan has stayed vibrant and alive. He acts like he is still in his 20s."
After think about this, it struck me. What does it mean to act your age? Who defines what is proper etiquette and activity for a person at a certain age? We certainly have friends who I think act older than they are. They were those people who as soon as they turned 30 or got married, they thought it meant they no longer could have colorful humor, clothing, lives or anything else that points them out as independent-thinking individuals. They have become the Ethan Allen-Banana Republic clones that in one word can only be described as "beige."
Ryan and I are would probably be described as bright. We seize every moment and enjoy it, making us great traveling partners and, I think, down the road, wonderful parents. Now, I think that we have had experiences most people are lucky enough not to have -- such as burying a parent or having cancer -- and maybe that is why we don't stick to conventions. And, while those experiences, created havoc and whirlwind in our lives, they showed us how precious our time together truly is. What would I do without this beautiful man in my life?
So, yesterday, we celebrated 40 years of adventures and the 40 years of adventures to come. We also celebrated the oncology appointment earlier that morning where we learned that Ryan wouldn't have to get radiation treatment for his most recent tumor.
My outlook on 40...it is another decade to reflect on your life thus far and then look toward the future and all it has to hold. I don't think it is as much a big deal as it once was. We live longer now. Many people don't even begin planning their families until they turn 40. It is a wonderful time to be alive and I know that when I turn 40 it will be a rite of passage and that much closer to retirement and a life of leisure.
Just a note...I know I am bias. But, my husband has got to be one of the hottest, most adorable 40-year-old men on the planet. Not too many men his age are just starting to get sprinklings of gray, or for that matter, even have hair that can turn gray. And, how many can say that their husbands are told often that they look like Johnny Depp. I am a lucky girl. I love you, sweetie!
Okay...I was reading my blog from yesterday and I think I see some confetti on my chair left over from the pity party I held in my honor yesterday. Maybe I am being harsh, but I obviously was in a funk yesterday. I can't say that I feel much better today, but maybe not as defeated. Ryan and I spent the afternoon together and all I could feel was how lucky I was to have him in my life. The glory and wonder of him; of us.
I know we will get through everything fine. We are surrounded by so many people who love us. Prayers and thoughts have been inundating us. Perhaps this is why God has no qualms about us experiencing these challenges? He knows we have the character to endure it. Of course, I would much rather be challenged by deciding what I should pack in a small carry-on bag to go to a pacific island or even changing a flat tire would better than this. Give me something I feel prepared for, darn it! Thank you to all of my fantastic friends who help us get through these stints in our lives. I promise, these things will calm down as the year wears on. I understand I have been taking up a lot of your prayers and energies, but at least it doesn't happen like this every year. We seem to be on a five-year cycle. Thanks for putting up with it all. I couldn't do it without you.
On another note...I would like to say Happy Blogiversary to my best friend Rachel! Her blog turned one year yesterday. What a special moment. I remember when it was only a few posts old. It was so cute. And, I remember when she posted that oh-so-lovely photo taken by some umm...photographic genius in a moment of creative nirvana. Ahhh!
Current music obsession -- Fleet Foxes. They are this perfect harmony alt band from Seattle that makes you happy and relaxed all at once. They would be great to listen to while you sit on a grassy knoll by San Francisco Bay, showered in dappled sunlight reading a favorite novel and drinking a lemonade. Their voices are clear and lovely -- almost reminiscent of Simon and Garfunkel. They have that 60's edge that makes me want to just shiver with joy. If you haven't heard them yet...take a listen. They won't disappoint.
I can't believe we are doing this again. On Tuesday, Ryan will, for the third time, endure surgery on his face in order to have a tumor removed. When he went through the first surgery, we braced for the worst. After four hours in the operating room and then several weeks of radiation treatments, we were sure we would never hear the word "cancer" again unless talking in the past tense.
But, on New Year's Eve we brought in 2008 with yet another surgery because we had discovered another lump on his face. "It is just something that happens," we were told. No radiation treatment was needed, but it was still grueling. How many times would this happen?
Well, three months after his surgery at the beginning of the year, another lump was found on his face; practically in the same place where he had his tumor removed previously. It was time for a biopsy, doctor's appointments, MRI and the explanation of what needed to be done next. Another surgery and another blip in our lives caused by cancer. It was hard enough to believe we were dealing with cancer so soon in our lives, but dealing with it three times now, we feel like old hats at this point; something I would never feel at the age of 32.
Now we may be veterans of the war against cancer, but it never stops being scary. It never stops worrying me and draining away my husband's beautiful carefree smile. And, perhaps the worse part about dealing with this illness is that others have such a lack of understanding. They don't really know what to say to us or what to do. Sometimes it becomes frustrating beyond end for me. You can see in their faces -- "should I smile and let her know it will all be okay?" Or, "should I give a look of concern and let her know I am thinking of her?" My advice...just say you will be there when we need you and be genuine about the offer. We'll call you when we need a hug, consoling or help with anything.
To be frank, no one can know what we are going through internally together. And, while I will always accept prayers, thoughts and concerns, nothing can take away the fear. Nothing can take away the fact that everytime my husband has cancer I am facing the possibility of the worst; the possibility of life without my best friend, my soulmate, the other half of my being. No one can truly understand that.
So, life tomorrow will go on as it always does with meetings, obligations, complaints about the mundane, pettiness -- all of the things that don't have as much meaning as the rest of my life, but unfortunately take up the majority of my day. I will spend the evening with the person I love the most, taking in every moment, every second with him. Then on Tuesday, I will go into work once again to work half of the day, acting like my whole life is not on the possible verge of shattering.
What else can I do? My concerns aren't the concerns of others...really. We are an egotistical world where me, I, mine reign. It never is more apparent than when you go through something like this on your own. Ryan and I are on a jagged crag above a canyon on our own. Once Tuesday is over, we will be back on terra firma. But, in the meantime, I am so blessed to have Ryan in my life. I can't imagine facing life's challenges and joys without him.
My sweet, you are in my prayers every day. I thank the Lord for the awesome gift he has given me -- you.
I really enjoy reading books that delve into different places and cultures. People and places fascinate me; I absorb this type of information like a sponge (this may be why I enjoy traveling so much). So, when I picked up Londonstani by Gautam Malkani, I couldn't wait to read it. The book takes place in London (my favorite place in the world) and gives the reader insight into an Indian burrow of the city.
What struck me first was the writing. The author writes phonetically in order to give the reader the flavor of the characters' accents. It is almost similar to reading Tom Sawyer except instead we are following the trademark sound of a group of British-Indian players and small-time gangsters. I was drawn into the language and had it swimming in my head long after I finished reading a chapter.
The book paints a rich environment and landscape for its characters and gives you a true look at the way these boys are pushing societal bounds and questioning their parents in order to pass on to becoming men. They question their traditions, culture, and religion while going against the law to make a living.
I won't ruin the ending, but just know that the ending has a fantastic twist to it that made me want to read the book again and re-examine the way I looked at the main character, Jas. Mr. Malkani, whatever critics and other readers may say...you most definitely should not have revealed the twist earlier in the book. It is beyond perfect, right where it is. This is a great book.
On the music front...I have been listening to The Ting Tings. A brit garage pop band, whose album just came stateside. I have been waiting quite impatiently for it to show up for about 3 months when I saw a little bit on them in Q Magazine.
When you were born, you were the angel I stood in awe of. When you opened your wide green eyes, I instantly had a smile upon my face. I thought that mom had given birth to you for my enjoyment and mothering. You were mine.
I could never coo or giggle at you enough. And holding you or dressing you was a treat that made me feel as though there couldn't be anything better in the world.
As we grew up, the four years difference between us left indeliable impressions on us both. You kept me young, my imagination bright and life vivid. How often I think of our treks to the toy store with our amassed allowance-based wealth in our pockets in order to buy a Jem doll kingdom, simple puzzle puzzle or sparkling bubbles (it always depended on how wealthy we were on that visit).
I taught you to appreciate who you are and grasp out beyond your bounds in order to grow and thrive. Question everything in the universe as you grow older. And, you did. Your riotous romp into teenager-adult territory was a proud time for me. Even when you came home at 3 a.m. after a night out with friends, I admired your independence and tenacity as a mother hen would of its chick. Along the way, I also like to think that I showed you how to listen to music and appreciate art. Or, at least I hope I did.
As I explored my life and tries to put myself together in college, a chasm grew between us. I guess it was inevitable. But, we were always there for one another, even when we felt as though we spoke two separate languages. We had a subconscious bond that grounded us. Unspoken love, respect and affection can reach fathoms inside.
When I left for another state, a new life and a future with a spouse and a job, you became my baby sister again. Your visits to the house brought back all of the old ties that bound us together as sisters. We laughed, explored and traveled together. we had fun. I cherish every moment because it was like I was walking with you to the toy store again.
We've continued to grow close even with so much distance. We are learning new things from one another. I am learning from you resilence, strength, and the ability to make life work out when it doesn't go as planned. You have a baby now and he is fighting to stay alive. You are by his side fighting along with him. Your heart broke when you lost the other child you bore. You mourned his loss and then took strength in the baby that is still here. No one's life is perfect, but you make it all work. You are content with the beautiful messes we are all handed day to day.
Little sister, your life and lessons are just now truly beginning. And, it hasn't been easy; not the princess-and-the-pea life I had always dreamed for you. But, I hope that what you have learned from your family helps you through. I hope my love and constancy is a source of strength. And, I hope you see that you have a huge fan, a big sister, who admires you and all you have accomplished...my little sister.
Your small forehead wrinkles and reminds me of the lines that make the sage brow of an elephant. These care-worn creases, usually reserved for the weathered and old, wrap around your small spherical eyes. Your flapping tongue gives away the fact that the ventilater tube inside your small mouth is irritating and invading. It flicks back and forth, next to the tube and then touchdown on your bottom lip. Your tiny nose is giving shape to your face -- a perfect blend of your mother and father. I look at you and you are a three-dimensional puzzle --there is Andrea's eyes and cheeks, there is Courtney's ears and nose, and do I detect the round chin that is prominent on your grandmother and great-grandmother?
A small miracle that is what you are. One day you will grow into a man, but now we revel in the tufts of curly dark hair on your head and the minute fingernails. We giggle a bit at the feet that have grown to a size that appears too big and out of proportion with your 15-inch baby body. You smile or coo and you melt our hearts. You cover your face or mischievously touch the tape on your face and we laugh at the intelligence and personality you already display.
We came to see you, speaking your name over and over like butterflies departing from our lips. A sacred hush or om because there is religiousness that is appropriate while you are in the hospital and we spend time at the side of your little NICU altar. We are waiting, and praying, for your true life to begin. You will have a life beyond these shiny white walls and sparkling tan floors. We are waiting for you. So many of us.
When you open your eyes it is like watching a Super Nova appear through the lens of Hubble. We are amazed and wonder at the incredible awe and power of nature. Every few minutes we glance away from your angelic face and look at the various monitors around your altar, displaying numbers that tell us of your progress and health. 22. 64. 82. Beep. Beep. Beep. Beep. All of this information is all once hope and concern. If the numberology tells us your future is bright we are excited and hope for the best, but deep down we still have conern because we have not heard the tension of your angry my-diaper-is-wet cry or the soft belch after a filling meal. We still haven't had the glee of passing you around to the seemingly alien hands of family members. We haven't had the chance to nap with you limp and asleep on our chests.
There is a crowd awaiting your arrival. We all pray and think of your baby skin and can't wait to inhale the sweet scent of your baby breath. We are waiting. And, the day you come home can never be soon enough.
My nephew, Corron, and his twin, Correll, were born at 24 weeks. Both were born so early they had not yet opened their eyes. They both fought for their lives vehemently from when they first exited my sister's womb. Correll lost his battle at two weeks and we mourned a life that was lost and never had the chance to truly begin. Corron continues to fight. He was born 1 pound, 1 ounce and is now 3 pounds, 2 ounces. Every minute I get to see him is a blessing. We hope he will be home in July.
Most recently I read the book The Secret Lives of People in Love. Yes, it was around Valentine's Day so the title jumped out at me, but it was also a slim book. Lately I have reading a lot of fat tomes that take two months to read. This is not normal for me. To lighten my load for a spell, I headed to my favorite local bookstore, Changing Hands, and searched for slim books. I was thrilled to see that this book was written by Simon Van Booy because I heard about his prose from others and looked forward to reading it. I enjoy reading books of short stories because that is what I tend to write myself. They are these small morsels of surprise that you can savor guiltily in a corner. This book did not disappoint me. Each story was a gift that gave insight into a character's life. He built poignant vignettes that I treasured. He did tend to equate loss with love a little too much to the point where sometimes the stories were slightly moribund. But, I still loved reading them. The prose was tantalizing and melted slowly like a good chocolate on your tongue. I would highly suggest this book to anyone who enjoys thoughtful, sensual writing. My favorite story in the book is The Apple. It is sweet with an endearing character who has experienced a lot of loss, but has paid homage to how that loss has made him grow.
Another book I recently read was My French Whore by Gene Wilder (yes, that Gene Wilder). I was happily surprised at how wonderful it was to read. The timing in the book fit its author -- the right amount of humor, intellect, and even a naive-like romance with a prostitute. Trust me, it is a great read. It takes place during World War I so the brutality of what is going on around the characters rears its head, and in fact, it makes you cling to them for a time.
My current music infatuation is Vampire Weekend. They are band from New York with a Paul Simon sound...a world beat with upbeat melodies. Enjoy!