Sunday, December 16, 2012

Review: Sharp Objects

Sharp Objects
Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I read it in one day that should say enough in itself. It took me a few chapters to warm up to this book, but then I couldn't put it down! I had to finish it. Screwed up mother daughter relationships are just so delicious sometimes. Women and girls can be so cruel and awful to one another. There is nothing scarier than a pissed off middle school girl- omg they could kill you just by looking at you.

The basic story a girl returns to her hometown after years of staying away. She has a strained relationship with her mother and no real relationship with her half-sister. Till she goes home to investigate/report on the disappearance and murder of two girls. While the murder story has some interesting twists and turns, the rest story is the relationship these three women have with each other. The daughter in her 30s, half-sister only 13 and the mother.

I like Gillian Flynn cause she doesn't try to make amazingly strong women into saints, or superheros, she portrays them as the crazy bitches they are. Strong and crazy and almost always severely screwed up. Like in Gone Girl, the mother and daughters are pretty awful people and yet you find yourself sympathizing and understanding so much of what they do and say. It's disturbing that think that so many women probably feel the same way all the time, but no one talks about it.

The men characters aren't so good, Richard, John and Alan are just kinda boring whispy guys, they're there cause men have to be somewhere in the story but they aren't fully developed and don't add too terribly much to the picture. The one guy that has the most effort put into him is the 18 year old John, suspect and sister to one of the deceased girls.

Overall I really liked this book, I'll be thinking about it for a few days to come for sure. I will be thinking about all the crazy women I know about how crazy middle school age girls are and if I was one of them.

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Sunday morning

I'm surrounded by my kitties.  Sookie on the couch next to me begging for attention.  Sookie above me on the back on the couch resting from her surgery.  Neither cat is leaving me alone this morning.  They both want to be in whatever room I'm in and they're being extra needy- for cats.  For my cats, my cats are usually independent unless they want food, water or petting.

It rained for a good part of last night, this morning around 6AM there was a good thunderstorm.  I wished it had been later in the day, I enjoy reading during a thunderstorm, it reminds me of camp.  THunderstorms in winter are kinda weird.  Granted this isn't real winter it's 70 some odd degrees out side but it's December- so I'll rephrase and say Thunderstorms in December are weird.  I opened the blinds to the balcony to led the dull light in and the cats and I have been enjoying the view ever since.

I watched a couple of episodes of Downton Abbey (love) and have been readying a Gillian Flynn book since I liked the first one I read of her's so much.  It isn't as captivating as Gone Girl, but it'll do.  The apartment is the perfect temperature, I can lounge in pajamas without being too hot or cold.  From this angle I can see over the apartment complex and both my cats safely inside it.  It's comforting.  One of the first times since I've been here that I feel at home, relaxed.  The cats are happy, I'm at least comfortable and things are going to be alright.

It's my last Sunday in Bryan before I head home for Christmas.  I wont be back till the new year.  I'm hoping several things will be different then.  Least of all that I'll come back divorced.  I like starting things new and fresh.  I like making big changes in my life that are irreversible,  I think they kinda force you to move forward.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Do you ever feel like music is stalking you?

Music has been a apart of my life for as long as I remember.  I can't read without music in the background, I can't be in my car without my iPod, I have lots of exercise playlists and there is music I love to listen to while I sleep.  I like to theme my life and music is one of those ways I help carry out that theme.  There are certain bands I only listen to in the summer, there are certain songs I can't stand to listen to if it's sunny out.  I'm weird about music, it's okay cause I know it.  But music is something, like the books I ready, that I think guides me.  Music helps me let go of things and music most definitely reminds me of other things.

Whenever I hear Hard Candy I'm transported back to the summer before my senior year.  I can't listen to Hard Candy in the winter or fall, it just seems wrong.  There are other Counting Crows albums that perfectly fit the cooler weather.  Monte Montgomery only makes sense to me in the fall.  The first time I heard him play was at Krost Symposium at TLU in 2003, so I will always associate him with the fall.  Drive By Truckers should be listened to in the Spring and Summer, they're all wrong for December.  Muse, Radiohead and No Doubt are seasonless and can be listend to year round. 

I remember where I was the first time I heard a song.  I can remember what I was wearing and who I was with.  I can remember the lyrics to songs I was exposed to as a child and maybe only listen to once a year now.  Cat Stevens Ruins will forever remind me of waiting for my dad to pick me up on Wednesday nights in Middle School and while I haven't heard the song in years I still know every word.

Some songs follow you around, they stalk you.  Like that Fun song.  Seriously I couldn't eat lunch at Chili's at UTSA without that song coming on at least once, if not twice.  I don't listen to the radio so songs have to go extra out of their way to stalk me.

Then there are certain songs when you hear them you start looking around to see if a certain person is nearby, cause you could never hear that song without them being close.  Some songs immediately transport you from your body to a completely different time and place.

Some songs just take over your life, you emotions, everything that you're going through and claim you. Songs that so completely capture what you're going through it seems impossible.  Songs. Lyrics. Music. Just one chord.  All I have to head is one chord of one of those songs and immediately my world stops.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Goodreads Update

So I hit my first goal.  50 books.  I'm glad I hit this goal before December first as well.  I hit the ground running during the first of the year but then slacked off here and there and even had two whole months where I didn't finish a single book.  So now I'm working on my second goal- some could say my real goal of 60 books.  I'm at 51.  Last December I was able to read 5 so I'm optimistic if I put my mind to it I can complete my goal by December 31st, since I've already more than doubled my annual reading goal from last year of 20 books.  What's really fun for me is looking back on the year and the months and thinking about what I read when, how much I read when and so many other things.

In January I read 12 books, 8 were Charlaine Harris Southern Vampire Chronicle Books So very light reading, I could usually finish one of those in a single day if I tried hard enough or was super super lazy.  I read the first of the James Potter books, it's Harry Potter fan fiction and I'd never read fan fiction before, but I'm not ashamed to admit I've read the first two of these cause they were GREAT! Seriously loved them.  Then I read a couple other light bubble-gummy books.

In February I read 8 books, more Charlaine Harris another of her mystery series, the Shakespeare ones, I read 4 of those, read the second 800+ page James Potter book, the second Dragon Tattoo book (I'd read the first one on the Cruise in 2010), a totally guilty chick read Beautiful Disaster and the new Orson Scott Card Ender's Shadow sequel

In March I finished the Shakespeare series and finished 1Q84, the 1200 page monster that I'd been working on since December.  Written in 3 parts after the first one my brain was already becoming mush and I decided to take a month to recover before finishing the second part, but after finishing the second part I jumped immediately into the 3rd and was so sad to finish.  This was the first book of the year that I could say was in the running for my favorite book of the year.  A beast to read, but I loved it, I didn't even feel  bad that I only read 2 books in March cause this was one of the two.

In April I had lost some of my momentum and read only 5 books.  I finished the Dragon Tattoo series and was upset, angry and sad.  I wanted more! So for some reason (cause my mom told me to) I read the Fifty Shades of Grey books. I hate myself. They were awful. Having read all the Twilight books since theses are fan fiction and very parallel you know what's going to happen! Bondage aside the stories were so predictable.  Bondage not aside, I frequently found myself embarrassed to be reading these books and had to quickly turn the nook pages to make myself stop blushing. I ended the month starting the Alphabet Mysteries,  I'm in for the long haul! She's only written up to V so I've got some time to catch up.  These are great bubble gum reads too and I can usually knock them out pretty quick, whenever I can't decide what to read next I just download one of the Alphabet books and fill the gaps.

In May I read 4 books, the newest Southern Vampire Chronicle Book, Deadlocked which was over way too quickly! One more year till the final book.  In the Woods the first of the Dublin Murder Squad books that I will not be continuing with.  I can't remember the last time a book pissed me off so much.  The Rook I am in love with this book.  This is the 2nd book in the running for my favorite book of the year.  Surprise Science Fiction! Seriously had no idea this book was gonna be all crazy x-files-y mystery-y.  It was great! Then I started another Charlaine Harris series the Grave Sight books that I also have no desire to continue.

In June I read 5 new books.  All good books but nothing to write home about.  Graveminder, You Know Your Way Home (a free goodreads giveaway), Amped (second book by Robopocalypse guy), Eat Pray Love, and The Girl on the Dock.  Amped should have been better than it was since Robopocalypse was so good, but it was too short and rushed, cool ideas just not enough of them.

July Was an amazing month for my reading.  I read 8 books and loved 5 of them! The Magicians and the Magician King. Next two in line for fave books of the year.  Another Goodreads giveaway win and I'm so glad I did cause they were fabulous.  An Object of Beauty which I'd been meaning to read for years was amazing.  Great story, great art world history and great characters- love.  Gone Girl a book I read at the right or wrong time depending on how you look at it, a scary crazy book about people in a marriage who destroy each other- uh so good.  Then I read the second alphabet book, Music for Torching and then Rebecca.  Is there anything better than a great Gothic Mystery? Loved Rebecca and while you know the whole time who the bad person is, seeing it come to fruition is intense.  Then my sister talked me into reading the Anne Rice Sleeping Beauty book-uhg.  I didn't think it could get worse than Fifty Shades...I was wrong.

In August I read 4, well 1 and listened to 3.  I found this great site online with audiobooks of The Chronicles of Narnia and listened to Prince Caspian, Dawn Treader and Silver Chair.  I'd never read them and they were really great.  The actual book I read was Looking for Alaska.  I really enjoyed this book, enjoy is the wrong word though because it's kinda dark, but I enjoyed it none the less.  I finished the book the day before I left for College Station and it was the last book I finished before November.

In November I finished 3 books.  The 3rd Alphabet book and two books I am so disappointed in! A Super Sad True Love Story UHG! Such a disappointment.  I'd heard such great things about it and then it ended up being crap.  No plot for 200 pages then annoyance the last 150.  So sorry I wasted my time reading this book and I rarely say that.  Then Divergent I'd heard so many positive reviews and I just don't get it.  The book wasn't bad by any means but it certainly wasn't better than the Hunger Games or have an upsetting ending like I'd heard.  I don't get it, I didn't connect with the characters, the story was predictable, so meh.

So now it's December and I'm in a race to finish 9 more books before New Years.  All my Goodreads reviews are at the links above. I wrote about Goodreads and stuff earlier this year too.  So the books that are my fave of the year so far are-
1- 1Q84 by Haruki Murakami
2- The Rook by Daniel O'Malley
3- The Magicians by Lev Grossman
4- The Magician King by Lev Grossman
5- Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

Runners up
6- An Object of Beauty by Steve Martin
7- The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets Nest
8- Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier

Monday, December 3, 2012

Review: Divergent

Divergent by Veronica Roth

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Eh. I didn't hate this book but I most certainly didn't love as much as other people and I in NO WAY want Four to be my new book-boyfriend. I just didn't find anything intriguing about him at all. But about the book...

So dystopian America (yes again, I'm in a rut, or writers are in a rut, or both) in the future people are divided into "factions" based on their traits and talents. At 16 students are tested and get to chose which factions they'll spend the rest of their life with- if they can make it through initiation. Most students chose to stay with the faction they were born into but sometimes there are "transfers" those who chose to go against their family's and transfer to a new faction. There they go through initiation which tests and challenges them physically and mentally to see if they really do belong in their new chosen faction. This is where our protagonist is Tris (formerly Beatrice), she has decided to change factions and is going through initiation.

So the majority of this book like 85% is about her going through the 3 stages of initiation. She has switched from a faction known for being selfless, calm and polite to one known for being dare-devils, risk takers and not polite- the Dauntless. So her first stage is all about being physically like the Dauntless, then mentally- after she makes it through to the final stage of initiation she realizes that something isn't right in her faction filled world and with the help of the supposedly ruggedly handsome and dangerous instructor 4 they set off to save the world (over simplified for sure).

Its interesting enough and moves really quickly, I just never found myself wanting more. Lots of reviews say they hate the ending, but I found nothing wrong with it, I think people just don't like waiting when a book blatantly set up for the sequel. And this one is blatantly set up kinda like in the movie version of Golden Compass where Lyra says, I'm gonna find my dad and help him, while they're in the sky flight thingy. Ugh.

And Tris' inner monologue was annoying. Not as annoying as say Bella in Twilight, but it wasn't revealing or important at all. So I was probably a little generous in giving this book a 3 star review, but it wasn't horrible, but it just wasn't my cup of tea and I don't really need to read the sequel, I'm not invested enough to where I have to know what happens like with The Hunger Games books. I've heard people say this book is better than Hunger Games to which I say no- not at all.

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Sunday, November 11, 2012

Home for 43 hours...unless I did the math wrong

Friday after work I ran home gave the kitties an extra bowl of food and extra water and heading off home to San Antonio.  I got out of Bryan close to 5:40 and by the time I hit Caldwell it was perfectly dark.  The drive through Bastrop was scary, the road curved a lot and cause of the fires part of the road through the forest is closed.  Bastrop to San Marcos was completely dark too and after sitting in traffic for 20 minutes to get on 35, I was so relieved to be on a lighted highway I made it to San Antonio about 25 minutes later- ooops.  Got into San Antonio right around 8:45.

First stop Deirdre's house.  I think 2 months is the longest I've gone without seeing her since I was 16 years old and started driving. Crazy to think about but seriously never go that long without seeing her.  After Deirdre's I headed over to mama and mimi's and chatted for a minute.  Mama practically dragged me out of my car.  A little after 10 I headed over to Haley's house where I will be staying the majority of time I stay in San Antonio.  Isaac was sleepy so I barely had time to kiss his head before they swept him off to bed.  Chatted briefly with Hail and Greg and went to bed.  They have a super comfy temperpedic guest bed and it was like sleeping on a foamy cloud.

Woke up the next morning at 7AM when Isaac woke up.  My dreamy dreamy nephew sadly took a little while to warm up to me again.  It woud have broken my heart if I wasn't so excited to be home- even if it was someone else's home.  Mama came over around 9ish and the Swift's headed out around noon.

Haley left a binder full of instructions for Isaac.  When to feed him, what to feed him, how to change his cloth diapers, how to put him to bed, his morning rituals and nap rituals.  All in crazy detail.  I have put Isaac to bed on several occasions, mama had only once or twice.  Mama had taken care of him during the day time weekly for almost half a year and I've only watched him in the day time a handful of times.  So we both had our strengths.

Later in the afternoon daddy came over and we took Isaac to the park.  He played on the slide and played on the swing set, then we went home and napped.  Saturday mama also picked up BBQ since it was also a thing I missed from SA. Late in the afternoon Dr. Liz came over! She finally got to meet Mr. Isaac and of course got to hand out for a little bit.   Saturday night we got Isaac off his schedule a little bit and put him to bed too early, but he slept like a haus till 6AM close to 10 hours!

This morning we had breakfast tacos and played with Isaac in the house.  He took a good nap even though it felt like he'd slept forever.  Then we went and picked mimi up for lunch and went to La Hacienda so I could get decent Tex-Mex.  After lunch daddy came over again before I had to head back to SA. In true daddy fashion he cleaned my car before I left- he used to do the same thing when I'd go back to Seguin in college.  I ended up leaving around 3:30 and didn't hit too bad of rain till Bastrop.  Made it back to my apartment by 6ish.

My visit was way too short, but got to see the most important people (minus my stepmom who's kids were also in town this weekend).  I'll be back home- Hail's home- in 9 more days.  But that drive SUCKS in the dark so I'm gonna have to see if I can leave earlier in the afternoon.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Taking day 10 off from writing

Okay last post till Sunday.  Tomorrow I'll be too busy with this special man watching him with my mom while his parents take a quick holiday for their 4th anniversary.  I promised them when they had Isaac that for their anniversaries I'd always watch him...of course this was before I moved, but they're still holding me to it which is fine with me.  So take a look at the cute and I'll write all about it Sunday!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Painting with a Twist...Painting with a Purpose

So a few weeks ago we got an email from TAMU about the MSC Galleries fundraiser at Painting with a Twist.  Bring your own wine.  The second biggest thing I miss from UTSA is the Gallery- I can't help it, it was such a cool thing I got to do and I know it was probably a once in a Student Affairs career type thing, so I was like oooh ooh I'll go!   So tonight two of my colleagues and I went yay! 

The night started out beautiful...

Then I remember I have to paint.  I haven't painted since summer camp in 2002, I suck at painting, but the instructor promises we'll leave happy- she doesn't specify if we'll be happy with our paintings or happy cause of our wine.  But people say it's "easy" cause "they walk you through it".  So we find out stations and we have 3 brushes and a paper plate with about 8 different colors on it, blues, yellows, black, white and a teal- that's how we're going to recreate Vincent Van Gogh's beautiful Mulberry Tree

The one we're imitating 

So at least it's a little blurry so hopefully I won't screw it up too much.

Step One, cover the white canvas with white can add some blue or green to it but we don't want it white cover the top half with yellows and white cover the whole thing...

 Cool.  Step one- easy.  I like it.  It looks like water which a bright yellow sky!

Step 2ish, make your leaves like a bowl using the oranges and yellows...add some greens if you like...

Now do the rest...just kidding so next we painted the sky so we covered up ALL the yell we did in step one! Then we added white for "snow" to the bottom blue area, so that neither top or bottom resembled anything we started out with.  

Final painting..nothing like Van Gogh's, nothing like our sample either.  Oh-well.  It was a lot of fun.  I drank like 1/2 a bottle of wine so that helped, but it was relaxing and while I was doing it I was liking how the colors were mixing and it was super fun.  I enjoyed hanging out with two of my co-workers outside of work and I'm so glad I did it.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

I'm going home!

So this is the longest I've been away from home ever.  Seriously 2 months is the longest I've been away from home in one stretch.  Summer camp was only a month sometimes 33 days, I went for 10 years as a camper and 3 years as a counselor for 33 days every summer (1 year off between year 2-3 as a counselor).  I can't believe at 7 years old I was okay going away from home for 33 days but at 27 it sucks and I'm a whiney baby about it.  So needless to say my excitement about going home this weekend is a little excessive.

I miss my family of course, it's weird not seeing them every week.  I miss Isaac of course most, cause I have not had any baby cheeks to eat since their visit the first weekend of October.  They need to be consumed regularly otherwise they get ridiculously cute and I go off on a scary tangent about baby cheeks.  I miss my friends.  I can't just go over to a friends house and have a glass of wine when I need to complain, vent or relax.  I miss the city- oh god the city, with it's breakfast tacos, traffic, people and patios.  There are no patio bars here! Or restaurants with patios! It's crazy, apparently they're afraid of West Nile here, so they don't build patios.  The weather is beautiful and no one can take advantage of it!

But maybe it's like certain friendships, a little time a part does you some good.  So now when I go home I'll appreciate it more and be able to just do the things I like.  Hanging with the friends and family, eating and drinking.  That's all I did in SA right?  Eat, drank and hung-out?  I think so.  This weekend there wont be too much hang-out time cause I'll be too busy enjoying every minute of Isaac time, but for Thanksgiving I'll be home 5 days and for Christmas 2 weeks.  I can't wait!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

2004, 2008 and 2012 Election Days

In 2004 I was a Sophomore at TLU and member of the briefly active "College Republicans" (I went to two meetings and got a shirt).  It was the first Presidential Election I got to vote for.  I had previously, that spring, voted for a local Bexar county election for school  bonds and a couple of local seats, but nothing as exciting as this.  Less than two weeks after my roommate was killed, I still hadn't figured out how to be around my usual TLU friends without it being sad and awkward, so a lot of the TLU choir people took me in and invited me places and on this occasion invited me to watch the election results with them.

So that's how I ended up first at Austin St. Live in downtown Seguin.  I was only 20 so I couldn't drink, but I got to hang out with the TLU students who seemed to have a vested interest in politics and I got to enjoy all the debating and trash talking between everyone.  I had attended a couple of the TLU sponsored debate watchings in the ASC and that's how I had learned who in the choir seemed to actually care about politics.  One of the guys from choir had a political map he was coloring in as results came in, he and I seemed to be the only Republicans in the bar, but he was totally the loudest, all I had was my "TLU Dubya" swoosh shirt.  I was easily one of like 5 chicks there out of 30 guys, I knew none of the other chicks though.

I didn't stay there long, shortly after Texas polling closed and all that was left to do was wait for all the others, one of the choir guys invited me back to his apartment (on-campus) to hang out with his friends and to watch the rest of the results come in and drink.  So a group of about 8ish of us went back to their apartment and we switched back and forth between all the news stations for about an hour.  Eventually someone said it was boring we wouldn't get the real results till morning so they were gonna put on a movie instead.

Everyone was appalled I had never seen Clerks so that was first.  I didn't like it my first viewing, I thought it was entertaining and fun but kinda cheesy in some parts.  It wasn't till a few years later that I really started to like it when silly random things came back to me.  I was totally obsessed for a while and watched it the last election night in '08 and will probably watch it again tonight.  After that the results still weren't in so they put on a comedy DVD of Dane Cook which was also my first exposure.  The third movie I don't remember because I fell asleep.  Someone eventually woke me up around 2AM and walked me back to my dorm (all of 100 yards away on a well lit sidewalk.

So that was my first experience.  The second one was very different.  I didn't have a conservative support group at all besides my family.  All my friends and all my co-workers were staunch democrats.  I remember that night like any other Tuesday night going out to my fave local bar and seeing the results come, watching Clerks that night, but nothing too special about it.  The next day however was awful, I just remember the office being so smug and being like "Oh who won?" and it's not like I really really cared- cause like I feel this year my day to day life really isn't gonna change one way or another- but it was so obnoxious, I don't remember anyone being like that when Bush won in '04 at TLU.  So that totally left me we an icky taste.

This year, luckily my office at TAMU isn't very politics-chatty.  Most of the office voted Obama and I only know that because they said it in small groups or one-on-one, not loud, boisterously and in front of the world.  No one asks what my political preference is, probably two people in the office know, but they don't care. It's not gonna affect our work-relationships or friendships.  The students are actually louder about it here, as on a lot of college campuses I guess, and most of the students are conservative which again is a change from my last two institutions.

I don't get to vote this year, cause I moved at a weird time and just never got around to registering to vote here.  But I also don't mind too much.  I know Texas will go Red, so since that's all I would be able to participate in anyways, it doesn't really "hurt" that I didn't get to vote this time.  All I can control is my own vote, so I don't feel the need to get horribly stressed out about what everyone else does.  This country is supposed to be a democracy and if this year that means they chose a candidate I wouldn't have supported then so be it.  I don't agree stuff on both sides, but I'll live within the laws created under both- my day to day life really wont change much, sure I may pay more taxes here, get free crap I don't want there but I'm not going to stress about it.

Once upon a time I would have cared a lot more probably, I would have gotten involved in the debates and arguments online and probably pissed off some friends in the course, but I just don't have the energy and don't see the benefit.  You aren't going to change anyone's mind with your witty FB comment or Twitter rant.  Let people believe what they want and maybe ask questions about why they do, in my boss' words "seek to understand" instead of seeking to change or overpower.

Monday, November 5, 2012

What's my presentation style?

I remember my first "presentation" in higher ed.  It was at SAC just presenting about the Office of Student Life.  Sharing with a Student Development class what we did and how we did it, with a basic powerpoint and taking only about 30 minutes.  A year later I made my first presentation to a group larger than 100, an orientation program designed by an outside group but executed by me, this time a 55 minute one.  I never knew I'd be a nervous presenter, I don't remember being nervous speaking in college or in high school- sure I had terrible stage fright, but talking? I love to talk! But I remember being so nervous before my first orientation session, after that one was over and they laughed in the right places I was off.  I took over all the student and advisor trainings and even MC'd the annual awards banquet.  Nerves be damned.

 5 years later I enjoy presenting, yah I get nervous when presenting a new topic, but I jump at the opportunity to present.  I like being in front of students and sharing with them what I know.  Even better I like being in front of faculty and staff sharing what I know.  At UTSA I presented to both, I submitted presentation proposals to a student leadership conference and a staff development conference and was accepted to both.  Both only hour presentations, but both awesome.  It felt great to apply for something I wanted and something I researched and then get it.  

At TAMU presenting is a part of my job.  When I interviewed in person they asked me to prepare a presentation on Risk Management.  Just five minutes and not to worry too much about content, cause they were more interested in my presentation style.  Well I don't know what my style is.  I usually use power point cause I dislike prezi, I don't like handouts cause it wastes paper and I usually don't have a lot of questions afterwards cause I field them during.  So is that a style?  So I did a simple presentation with some Coyote cartoons and that was it.  

So a week or so ago my boss told me that in two weeks she wanted me to give a presentation, open to the department, on how to review contracts.  I was just learning how to review contracts that week, but the best way to learn something is to have to present on it.  It gives you a deadline to learn it, makes you ask questions and makes you an expert.  But how am I going to present it?  My initial reaction to is always make presentations more fun than boring, but it's such a serious subject- contracts.  Contracts aren't fun and exciting, they're tedious and you have to pay attention to all the little details.  I went with my first instinct though when I interviewed and went for entertaining, so I'm hoping that's what they want here too. I can't stand up in front of my co-workers droning on about the importance of Student Rule 42 and making sure it states "a recognized organization" instead of the institution name and not try to liven it up a little bit.  All the while reminding them "I'm not a lawyer" this is just advice.

So I have the outline done and I found a background I like in powerpoint but now I need a theme.  A good theme that will keep them engaged and happy without losing the point of the presentation.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

I never pay for TV

I'm a closeted TV junkie.  I can sit and watch hours of TV if given the chance.  I think we had cable when I was very little and then again in High School after I made good enough grades.  I have serious sloth tendencies so not having cable for the majority of my childhood was probably a really good idea.  I had cable again in college, TLU piped it into every room, but I was a very diligent student and didn't let it distract me too much.  After college I didn't really see the need for cable TV.  I worked ridiculous hours that didn't allow for much TV watching and the TV I did watch was all network anyways.  Also my DVD collection was constantly expanding and I owned most of what I wanted to watch.

Most of my favorite TV shows are from the past though so I have them on DVD.  Out of TV shows that are on TV right now, I never feel like I have to watch them when they first air cause I can always catch it later or watch it online.  What I watch that's actually on cable is usually cooking shows or travel shows, some reality TV that makes me hate myself, but really nothing that I would be devastated if I had to live without.

My apartment came with free cable and internet, just like college.  The internet I love, cause that'd be hard to live without, but the cable just is a time-suck.  I watch hours of food network and then wonder where my day went.  I get sucked in the vapid lives of some reality star and then feel an overwhelming need to be productive with my life.  I've been reading consistently less since I've been here because I've become lazy and would rather just watch TV.

In the cable's defense a lot of it has been Netflix, my free month of Netflix is up though so hopefully that'll help.  But I've gotten stuck on shows I've missed out on the last 6 years.  If it didn't come with the apartment I wouldn't pay for cable.  I still don't see the point, it's not something I need.  The internet sure I'd probably do what I used to do with Sprint and pay for it through my cell phone.  I don't use the internet enough at home to justify a huge expense with it.

Hopefully the novelty of it will wear off soon and I can get back to my nookworm standards.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

On Day 3 I was kinda lazy

My apartment is a good place to be lazy in.  My house in San Antonio...not so much.  I always felt guilty when I was lazy around the house in SA, I felt like I should be gardening or cooking or entertaining.  I don't have that problem with the apartment.

I moved from a 3 bedroom 2 bath house with a nice backyard I never used, to a 2 bedroom 1 1/4 bath apartment with a nice balcony that mama's used, but I haven't except for laundry.  The cats like the apartment, they love to look out the windows and sleep under the guest bedroom bed.  They wrestle at all hours of the night and like to climb into cabinets and disrupt things.  I'm glad they're here with me.

My apartment has a bookshelf that's mostly full of my DVDs.  1/2 DVDs and 1/4 pictures and another 1/4 books.  I don't really buy a lot of books anymore but I have my favorites.  It makes the living room feel homey.  Homey and makes me feel lazy, like I just wanna lie on the couch and read.

The kitchen is small, but big enough for just me, I can make my pasta salad and dump cake so really what else do I need room for.  I need a dining room table but its kinda a small space so I'm doing okay without it.

The location is perfect, 4.6 miles from work it takes me less than 10 minutes to get there- without traffic- with traffic it takes me 12.  I've never lived this close to work before it's totally spoiling me for the future.

But its a good place to be lazy, just to sit back drink a beer, watch Netflix or read on my nook.  Nothing exciting, just calm and lazy.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Bryan's First Friday

So it's First Friday, if I was at home I'd avoid downtown like the plague.  But since I'm in Bryan, TX apparently if you go early enough you miss the crowds.  The basic concept is similar, but just on a much much smaller scale.  Live music, art, street artist/performers and all the shops and bar are open.

First stop Uncorked the wine bar.  My fave place in downtown Bryan.  I've seriously been there at least once a week since I've moved here, some weeks more than once.  Thursday they have 1/2 price bottle night, they have yummy snacks and really reasonably priced good wine.  The owner is super nice and today she gave out Frequent Customer cards.  So basically after another month I'll get cheaper wine! Whoo-hoo! It's a super casual environment.  I've been there in jeans and t-shirt, my friend HR Liz brings her kids and there's an outdoor area for men with their stinky cigars.  I can't speak higher of the place.

After about an hour there we walk around the shops and take in the sites.  Super cute hippy dippy stores are everywhere.  As well as the expensive boutiques and gourmet chocolate shops.  Live music everywhere.  The weather was perfect for it.  Towards the end I stopped in a music shop for new guitar strings- it was way past due.  But overall it was a super ice experience.

One of the things I love about Bryan/College Station is you can go out, have a good time and still get home before 9! I love it.  Every time I go out right after work I get home before it's too late, before the college students get crazy and before I can do too much damage to my tomorrow self.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Day 1- didn't end with a bang.

Day one of my personal challenge to blog more could have ended a lot worse.  The day was great, I felt super productive, work was awesome as usual and I got to chat with my old boss- even if for something kinda stressful.  I love my job and I enjoy my job.  But at the 4:30 as I'm getting ready to wrap up the day we get a CODE MAROON

I love Code Maroon- I don't like getting them, but the system itself is wonderful.  First a computer message pops up that you have to acknowledge on your screen, if you don't click it right away it flashes at you.  Then my phone goes off.  Twitter notifications, I've been told, is faster even than the computer notice so I turn those on to go straight to my phone too.  This time, unlike the bomb threat a few weeks ago, the outside alarms even went off as an added notifier.  I feel like if there is an emergency on campus, there is no way I wont hear about it (unlike another institution where it took 2 1/2 hours to notify the campus something was going wrong) so I feel good in that regard.

So first notice came saying an "armed subject last seen near University Center Garage. Persons in vicinity find safe place indoors..." My building is attached to the University Center Garage, so I run to my door start locking it and one of my co-workers comes in with me to wait it out.  We turn off the lights, close the blinds, turn off my music and silence our phones.  I am freaking out- not screaming, shaking or crying, but still freaking out and very upset.

Shortly after getting on lock down the second notice goes through

This helps relieve my exit buddy as she figures it was probably just someone taking a gun collection to the corps for display or something- apparently that had happened before.  She's calmer, but I'm still a little on edge.  As it slowly passes 5PM we get more notices just saying to stay where we are they're still searching for the subject.

About an hour after it started we get the final message

Everyone exits their office and starts heading home.  Someone comments that this didn't happen before I got there, but I know it's just in fun.  I ask if I can go home yet.  Most everyone seems to be completely fine and unfazed by the situation.  Obviously I'm relieved nothing worse came of it, but I just worry about other people's reactions to these type of situations.  We always tell students when they ask if we have to take these things seriously that you always do because you never know if it's real or fake, but I feel like we need to remind the professional staff of that as well.  I feel like everyone just assumed it was another fake and so they were so unfazed about it.  I know it does no good to worry about every little thing, but there are some things I don't think I'll ever be unfazed by, or ever stop worrying about, it'll probably shorten my life and give me grey hairs, but I have to take these things seriously and I have to take the appropriate responses.  I'd rather worry and have nothing be wrong than not worry and be completely caught off guard.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

I don't wanna NaNoWriMo

So I don't really want to write a novel, mostly because I don't think I have the creativity to do it.  I suck at keeping up with my blog and I suck at writing original songs, but I still enjoy writing.  I love writing letters- evident by the fact I've had a pen pal for in Australia for 13 years now who I write at least 5 times a week.  I enjoy the act of typing- partially cause I'm fast at it and partially cause I like the sound it makes- also cause I typer way faster than I can write by hand.  So instead of participating in NaNoWriMo I'm just gonna try to blog daily for one month.  I know lots of peeps who give themselves a full 365 challenge for writing but for me 1 month is gonna be sooooo hard for me to accomplish- little failures before big.

So tonight- Halloween I'm gonna start- yes early but whatever.

So a little over a month ago I picked up my life- severely disrupted my life- and moved to Bryan, TX for work.  I left my city, my family, my husband and my friends to come work for Texas A&M.  I left  city I'd lived in for all my life- Seguin doesn't count- and moved away from family for the first time in my life.  Such a horrible thing to finally get around to doing after 27 years.  I was so spoiled by having lived in my home city forever, that this move has been awful emotionally.

Professionally it is awesome.  I love my job, I work with amazing people and it's an amazing institution.  Everyday I'm at awe that I get to work there.  The culture, traditions and most importantly the people are so inspiring that I know I made the right decision professionally.  It's just reconciling the personal that makes it tough.

But a month and a half later, I have a couple of really good co-workers I'm happy to call friends.  I have a super fun friend to go out with for drinks and super fun friend to enjoy $4 movies with (BCS has $4 movies it rocks).  I've figured out my fave places and the quickest routes- although working 4 miles from my apartment- everything is pretty quick.  I'm getting the hang of things.  I still feel new here, but I no longer feel completely lost.

When I'm at work I'm super excited everyday by what I do, but when I get home it's a little tough.  So I hope that soon I'll get to be a little founder of this place I'm in for the foreseeable future.  Till then I'm excited that I get to go home for the first two time in November, once for my sister's annual anniversary trip to watch my amazing nephew and again for Thanksgiving.

So here's to November, a month I hope of writing and two trips home to be with my family and friends.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

"It's scary in the dark when you're not here" *

Friends who know me know I’m not a “go-with-the-flow” kinda of person. I’m a planner. I like to know where I’m going, when, and how long I’m going to be there.   I’m okay with change; I just like to know how things are changing and what it means for me.   Change is fine as long as it’s planned far in advance and I have plenty of time to prepare for it. Schedules make me happy and planning things in advance is important to me so I don’t feel out of control.  I think control is the important word there.  I like to feel in control- even if I’m not, I like to know what going on cause it prevents feeling out of control. I’ve never considered myself a control freak though, I just like things planned and organized well.  Which anyone who has ever seen my house, or past apartments would probably laugh at cause while I’m not usually organized at home, professionally I am very organized and I also try to be socially as well.

So this thing I’m doing Saturday, picking up and moving from the only home, San Antonio, I’ve ever known is scary.  There is so much that is unknown.  There is so much that isn’t planned and organized.  I hired movers, so I know that come 10AM Saturday morning, they will arrive at my house, pick up my stuff and haul it off to Bryan, TX.  Once it gets there, they’ll unload it and leave.  And I’ll be left with my entire life in boxes, suitcases and storage bins, things will again need to find homes in a new location, but it’ll be an apartment, something that is not permanent.  Who knows how long I’ll live in this place.  I could love it and stay for 5 years or more, or I could hate it and start wanting to move back in another year.

When I get to A&M I’ll know two people (two people very well and another 3 in passing); two people from San Antonio, my stepbrother and a close guy friend.  I’ll have to make new friends, new friends who don’t know about my crazy scheduling needs and need for an organized social calendar.  The people I will wok with will be the ones I’ll probably initially cling to because I’ll be spending the most time with them.  But who knows if I’ll find people there I really click with.  I hope I do, after my daylong interview with them I’m pretty sure it was a “fit” thing they were looking for and why they selected me.

I don’t know when I’ll come home again.  My house will be rented out so I wont be going to “my home” but I’ll be coming back to San Antonio periodically, but where will I stay? My parent’s houses, my sisters, friends? I hope to make it down at least once a month, if for no other reason that so my nephew will see my face and still recognize me, still reach for me when I smile at him and still fall asleep in my arms when he feels sick.  Leaving my sister is the next hardest, she’s been my best friend for so long now and I’m so used to seeing her every week, talking to her everyday and just dropping by her house on the weekends when I had nothing else to do.  My mom is my random breakfast buddy, the person I can call when I’ve had a bad day and want to go somewhere and grab a drink, the person I call three times a day just to say hi.  I know my dad will come visit cause his stepson is there and his wife went to A&M and loves to go back.  My birth mom just had another daughter move away barely a month ago and now I’m leaving too.

I keep telling myself it’s only 2 ½ hours away (3 from my dad and sister) and that I’ll come home frequently, but when I come home I’m going to want to see all these people, I’m going to want to go to my favorite spots in San Antonio and see my friends.  I feel like such a wimp sometimes, because I know so many people move away from home at such a younger age, I’m 27 I shouldn't be so maudlin about this all, but I can’t help it.  I feel like there’s just so much change all at the same time.  I’m good with change usually, but this will definitely be the biggest one I’ve ever made.  I know my new office will help make me feel welcome; the outpouring of support they’ve already shown me is overwhelming.  My kitties will be with me so I can fulfill my goal of becoming a crazy cat lady.  My mom is coming up for a few days when I move, but gosh when she leaves I’m going to be a mess!  But I know it’s an amazing opportunity and I underneath all the fear and trepidation I am so excited.

*Title from the song my amazing UCPC students had dedicated to me last night at CoffeeHouse- "Scary in the Dark" by Valise Stalk them here, they're amazing.

Friday, September 7, 2012

They're only days.

2,094 days ago I graduated from TLU with my BA in History.

2,000 days ago I started a job at San Antonio College in Student Activities, I did a little bit of everything there.  I worked with student organizations, student leaders, faculty advisors, student fees, recreational sports and activities.  I was 12 when I started- not really I was 21, but it felt like 12.

632 days ago I got engaged.

604 days ago I left my job at San Antonio College.  

600 days ago I started my job at UTSA in the University Center.  I get to supervise students, advise a program council and curate an art gallery.  Such a cool combination of my BA skills and my Masters.

508 days ago I bought a house.

503 days ago I got married.

494 days ago mama fell into a coma.

491 days ago I graduated with my M. Ed. but did not walk.

488 days ago mama woke up.

484 days ago I cancelled our honeymoon.

292 days ago my amazing nephew Isaac was born.

162 days ago I turned 27 and my boss’ boss suggested I start looking for new job opportunities.

99 days ago I had a video interview with Baylor. (not selected)

81 days ago I had an in person interviewed with UT Austin. (not selected)

73 days ago I had a phone interview with Texas A&M University.

51 days ago I had an in person interview with TLU. (not selected)

18 days ago I had an inperson interview at Texas A&M University.

17 days ago my husband moved out of our house.

15 days ago TAMU made me a job offer and I submitted my resignation to UTSA.

10 days ago my last art exhibit as a curator at UTSA opened.

7 days ago I found an apartment in Bryan, TX.

Yesterday I hired movers.

The last 6 years have been really busy, I’ve done a lot, I’ve learned a lot and I wouldn’t change any of it- except maybe the mama falling into a coma- that really wasn’t necessary.  But they’re only days behind me now, good days, bad days, scary days and I’m looking forward to the next 2,000 days and the excitement they’ll bring.

In 12 hours my husband will move out for good and back to Houston. *

In 6 days I’ll have my last Gallery 23 reception at UTSA.

In 8 days I’ll leave my house, family and friends in San Antonio and move to Bryan, TX.

In 10 days I’ll be starting a new job at Texas A&M in Student Activities.  Where I will oversee the registration process of their over 800 student organizations, advise a student activities sponsored organization, work on the concessions committee and do risk management presentations for student organizations.

*I’m not ready to talk about it. We’re separated and my father is filing our divorce papers, we’ll both be okay, but for now I'm just not ready to talk about it.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Review: Rebecca

Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I heard so many great things about this book before I even read it. First I saw it recommended on GR, then I saw it recommended on Jezebel, and then I heard from a friend it was one of their favorite period mysteries. So I gave it a try and loved it! This is a genre I need to read more of- Gothic, romance, mystery! I loved the time period and the setting. It had a Gosford Park feel to me that I love, also a [b:The Thirteenth Tale|40440|The Thirteenth Tale|Diane Setterfield||849453] feel as well.

First off this book was very predictable, all the mind games I guessed right away, I always knew what was coming, but I found myself wanting to read it more and more because I wanted to make sure I was right. We never learn the protagonist's name and I loved it, it made her less of a character and living in a shadow, even though the whole thing is about her. I love that Rebecca isn't even alive, but she's a part of the story- a huge part.

Max the male lead is a bit unhinged, so it's kinda hard to see where his character is going, but all the while it's very believable the way he reacts to things. All of his staff are great and Mrs. Danvers may be the most creepy and horrifying character I've read in a while.

I hope I can find more books like this cause I truly enjoyed it. The only reason it doesn't get 5 stars is cause it was really predictable and I wanted it to be longer.

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Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Review: Music for Torching

Music for Torching
Music for Torching by A.M. Homes

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Overall this is a very good book. I like the way it's written. Another book about dysfunctional marriages- I'm in a dysfunctional marriage-book rut. A suburban couple with two kids live in a very close knit community- all the neighbors rotate and have all the couples over for dinner every week, all the kids friends are in the same neighborhood and all the husband seems to work in NY. Most of the married couples are perfect and our main characters are far from it. Paul and Elaine feel trapped, their in a rut and decide burning their house down will be the best way out of it. This backfires - well actually there's a lack of fire and the house instead just gets minimally damaged, the rest of the book finds them staying with the perfect couple in the neighborhood and their kids staying with their best friends.

While the fire is the main plot point that drives the book, everything that follows it is so minor. Sure the spouses are cheating, but they don't have guilt about it, sure their kids are kinda little shits, but no one really calls them on it. It's a very interesting look at suburban life that makes you feel like you're intruding on your friends uncomfortable fight. Like a burning house, you can't look away cause you don't know what's going to happen next, will the fire be contained or will it move on to the next house and devour another family.

Elaine is the more screwed up character although both have serious issues and probably shouldn't be allowed to be parents. But Elaine is so desperate for change that she tries anything she can to get out of her normal shell. Paul's affair seems pretty real and typical, nothing too exciting there. But overall you feel like this is just a simple story of two people experiencing a midlife crisis at the same time- both are scared that their life is stale, but luckily they also both agree to try to fix it.

The last section of the book takes a huge step in another direction and I was pretty shocked by the action, then the end leaves you totally high and dry and you're left to wonder what the resolution is. Overall a really good book where very little actually happens.

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Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Review: The Magician King: A Novel

The Magician King: A Novel
The Magician King: A Novel by Lev Grossman

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I won this book on GR give-away but hadn't read the first book yet so I had to go back and read that one first. And by read I mean listen to the audiobook on my 900 hour drive to North Texas a few weeks ago. So then I set in for this book.

I liked this book a lot more than the first book [b:The Magicians|6101718|The Magicians (The Magicians, #1)|Lev Grossman||6278977], I feel like this book had so much more original content which was kinda my biggest complaint about the first book. I liked that the majority of this book was spent in Fillory and that it brought in some new characters and went back to some of the old as well. The ending was super depressing, but I think I would have felt cheated if it had been a happy ever after fairy tail since nothing else in these books every happened that way.

The main character Quentin is so hard to like, all he does is complain and nothing is ever good enough for him. At some time I felt like the author was trying to make his an unlikeable character and goodness he succeeded. He always thought he deserved more than he did. It's funny to have a main character that it's impossible to root for, but here one was. I feel like all the supporting characters except the ones who died were such better and more likable people.

But even still I really enjoyed this book. I really enjoyed going back and forth between the Quentin story and Julia's backstory, I would have loved to hear how Julia hooked up with the old gang from the first book, cause her story was actually very interesting. Like happened a lot in the first book it did seem to skip over some very important parts, but that's okay cause you could mostly fill in the gaps. Also like the first book the brutality of some of the scenes was intense- maybe I haven't read enough fantasy books but there are some brutal murders and sexual experiences that are just not right. But again it definitely separates itself from Harry Potter and the Narnia books.

I hope he writes another book about this, although I don't know if it should be about Quentin- I'd like to see what Bingle and Julia end up doing, or more about the FTB peeps.

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Monday, July 16, 2012

Gone Girl- Ten Months of Puppy Parenting

This post has nothing to do with the amazing book Gone Girl I just read and reviewed below.  But I liked the name and felt like it was appropriate to describe my weekend.  Last September Bruce and I adopted two puppies- Hera and Helia.  We were so excited to bring them into our lives and love them and train them.  However somewhere along the way we got lost and couldn't figure out how to fit them in our lives anymore.  We didn't have the time to dedicate to their training, we were never home, their 8 lbs of puppy turned into 40+ lbs of dog each!  Life got in the way, our lives no longer could revolve around them and they became more of a burden for us.  So in April we decided that after months of trying to figure it out we'd have to give them back to the rescue we got them from.

When we adopted them from Give A Dog a Home- San Antonio we did so with the understanding that if we ever had to give them up, move and couldn't take them, or something else prevented us from keeping them, then they would go back to the rescue and not to a shelter.  So we waited 3 months in order to keep that agreement, the rescue wasn't able to take them at first and it was frustrating for us because we had made the very hard decision to give them up and seeing them everyday after that decision was made kept making me rethink if we were doing the right thing.

In mid-May my mom suggested maybe she and my grandma take in the little red one, Helia, she was our special-needs puppy and had some serious learning deficits, but was overall the calmer of the two and the younger.  Bruce took her over to my mom's where she started acting like the wonderful dog we knew she could be.  She has lots of other puppy friends there to play with and doesn't stay cooped up in puppy jail or outside all day, she's a lounger and now gets to lounge inside in the Air Conditioning.

This past Saturday Give a Dog A Home was finally able to take Hera back and I was dreading it all week.  I knew it was coming but was not prepared for how it was going to make me feel.  All day Saturday I had a horrible feeling in my tummy and would all of the sudden break out crying about her leaving! Around 3 that afternoon I met two girls who were going to take her to the rescue and I'm pretty sure they think I'm a basket case cause I couldn't stop crying.  I still feel completely terrible and awful about the whole situation and can only hope she finds a good home quickly- since I know Helia already has one.

I don't think we were the worst puppy parents by any means, but their life didn't consist of enough human interaction, they mostly kept each other company. Outside playing, and escaping frequently, or inside in their puppy jail- an area I blocked off in the entrance of our house.  I knew they could get more attention from people who didn't work weird hours, till 2 AM some days and who were gone all weekend- most weekends.

So now Hera is gone, I get sad whenever I look outside and don't see her anxious face waiting to come in, or when I woke up this morning for work and didn't have to let her outside and feed her.  Sookie the Viking Kitty is of course thrilled to have her house back and we'll hopefully be adopting another kitty soon.  Cats we can do, they take care of themselves and don't require as much parenting.

I know we did the right thing for Hera, but I'm still so disappointed it didn't work out, I feel like a puppy mom failure and now promise to never ever get a puppy again.  I hope she finds a fabulous family who loves her.

Review: Gone Girl

Gone Girl
Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I was torn between 4 and 5 stars- which is super unusual for me, but after review my other 5 star choices it just didn't have that extra thing to push it over.

I greatly enjoyed this book, was appalled by it, confused by it and angry at it. There are two narrators husband and wife Amy and Nick, switching POV every other chapter. Nick is the first narrator we hear from his story starts with the day of his and Amy's 5 year anniversary where she goes missing. Then we hear from Amy, a diary entry from 7 years earlier about her first meeting with Nick, her impressions and excitement about their relationship. The book continues this way until Amy's diary story catches up with Nick's initial starting point on the day she goes missing. Along the way they both lie becoming unreliable narrators, leaving the reader not knowing who to believe.

At the beginning you believe Nick is a good guy, maybe a little neglectful but a good husbad and he couldn't have had anything to do with his wife being missing. Then he does something that makes us loose faith in him, chapters into the story we learn he's cheating on Amy for over a year! This makes him seem much more a likely candidate to have killed his wife. Amy's diary entries make her seem like the Ultimate Cool Girl, but then we find out she completely faked her abduction and murder to get back at Nick and we learn that she is a sociopath and scary as hell. The final part of the book is a crazy story of mind games upon mind games between Nick and Amy.

The ending was nothing what I would have expected 200 pages in, but it was so fitting for what happened, but I cannot remember a book that played on my emotions for a character so much. I like that it came around full circle, cause I initially wanted to be on Nick's side and luckily I ended on his side as well, but it's amazing the author was able to make me constantly judge how I really felt about these characters and what they were doing to one another. There's one quote that completely gives me chills now, but also very nicely sums up both character's motivation and fears.

The question I've asked more often during our marriage, if not out loud, if not to the person who could answer. I supposed these questions stormcloud over every marriage: What are you thinking how are you feeling? Who are you? What have we done to each other? What will we do?

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Monday, July 9, 2012

Review: An Object of Beauty: A Novel

An Object of Beauty: A Novel
An Object of Beauty: A Novel by Steve Martin

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book was great. I love Steve Martin's writing style and always get very into his stories. One thing I can say against them is that they're always too short and don't let me live in his world long enough, but that being said they're still all great and this one was no exception.

An Object of Beauty is written from the point of view of an observer to the main character's life. Lacey is the subject and one of her close guy friend's whom she had a one night tryst with once upon a time is her storyteller. He is an art writer and she is an aspiring art dealer working her way up from the very bottom. Her story is about the rise, the amazing rise she took to do exactly what she wanted to do. She uses dishonesty, bargaining, bluffing, sex, and scavenging, as well as humor, knowledge, and experience. She is an amazing character who you never actually sympathize for and you know exactly what is coming to try to knock her down a few pegs.

The art in the book is probably what turns a lot of people off it. If you don't care about art, appreciate art or know even basic artist names, then a lot of this book is going to bore you and seem like "too much art talk". If you took an art history class in college or enjoy going to museums or know people who own fine art, then this is a really neat look into a world that you may not have known actually exists. The fact that the story takes place in our very recent US history also makes it intriguing, as we see the immediate repercussions of things that happened in the early millennium.

The characters are new and interesting, art dealers and brokers, private collectors and European's with more money than should be allowed. The extravagance could get annoying if you don't know what's coming. Lacey is an unsympathetic character, she's not a monster, but you never really feel like she deserves her successes, but in the end if she fails you'd still feel regret for her. Our unreliable narrator is not a fully fleshed out character because his story isn't the one being told, we really only deal with him when he's actually interacting with Lacey. He says up front that a lot of the stuff can't be fact because he wasn't there, but he fills in the gaps with what he thinks may have happened based on Lacey's recounts to him. The small characters are great, her art dealer mentor Talley is awesome, her European boyfriend Patrice is delightful. But at the end there are a few characters thrown in that don't really get their fair time in the spot light.

Overall I really loved this book and will totally read it again someday.

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Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Review: The Magicians

The Magicians
The Magicians by Lev Grossman

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I want to give this book 3.5 stars. I really liked if, but there wasn't really anything new here. Yes it's adult Harry Potter and yes it combines with adult Chronicles of Narnia too. This is the story of a boy who doesn't find out he's magical till he's about ready to go to college, he actually starts this magical college before his Senior years of HS is even over. There he learns all about magic, he's actually so good at it he gets advanced a whole extra year ahead. His Magical schooling only takes 5 years and it's dangerous and hard. After graduation he (and his friends) find out that a children's book about "Fillory" is actually real and a place he can travel to.

So I really enjoyed the story, even though little of the concept is original. I liked how magic school was sort of breezed through, it didn't take 5 books to go through all 5 years of his schooling. I liked that it never even really explored the magic they were learning, we didn't have to be pulling into different languages or spells, we only hear about them theoretically- very much like how the characters learn about them. The relationships are more adult, but still pretty juvenile. Yes, there's sex at this magic school, it's almost encouraged- at least in their final year. There's so much more acceptance of darker magic at this school, they teach it but don't necessarily practice it. Then once their time is up they graduate and find out that a childhood fantasy book is actually real. I enjoyed the battles, I enjoyed the relationships and the ending was okay with me.

Everything in "Fillory" reminded me Chronicles of Narnia. I feel like he was almost hitting us over the head with how much "Fillory" was like Narnia. The students entire journey in "Fillory" could have almost been another Narnia story- yah it was much bloodier and gorier but if the characters in Narnia had been adults you could see this happening. I think what made me give it half a star less was that it just lacked so much originality, I think it would have been better if I couldn't draw so many parallels to other fantasy works before this one. I know that's a lot to ask, but I was hoping for something different.

That being said, I really did like it and found the resolutions satisfying. I'll probably read the sequel, mostly because I already won a copy of it, but this probably isn't a world I'd want to follow for a whole series, one or two books yes, but I'm not in love with it like the world was in love with the Harry Potter books or that children love the Narnia stories.

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Monday, June 18, 2012

Review: Eat, Pray, Love

Eat, Pray, Love
Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I really enjoyed this book. Another book I've read recently that was just waiting for the appropriate time in my life to be read. Years ago a friend lent me this book and I just finally got around to reading it. Luckily I see her later this week so I can return the original book to her. I'm gonna break this one down book by one. If you don't know the basic concept of this book basically it's a woman traveling for a year to Italy, India and Indonesia to help get in touch with herself and god after her marriage ended.

Italy eat
Wow this book starts off kinda scary. A marriage is ending, in fact it is failing and flailing and all the other potentially scary and sometimes unstoppable things that can happen to a marriage. I think most married participants can probably connect with some of what was going through Liz's mind in this 1st section of the book. Throughout her trip through Italy she shares brief snippets of two horrible relationships, one her marriage that was ending and another with a horrible actor who could make anyone never want to date again. In Italy she eats pasta, drinks wine, makes friends and takes fun trips. The goal of Italy was to relax and find pleasure in her life again. I loved the descriptions of the food and how she enjoyed and learned the language. Great way to start out the book and obviously her year.

India pray
In India Liz went to study Yoga from her horrible ex's Guru who she also adopts as her Guru too. She's at an Ashram where she spends the majority of her days praying, cleaning (mandatory labor to stay at the ashram) and again talking with her new friends she's made. Here she is learning to let things go, to focus on her relationship with god and the spiritual side of herself. This section was a little harder to get through cause all the meditation and Sanskrit stuff didn't hold a personal interest for me, but I found her dedication and determination inspiring and reminded me that I need to work harder on my relationship to god as well.

Indonesia -guess which one this is
At the end Liz ends up in Bali where two years before a medicine man had told her she would return and stay for 3-4 months to learn what he knows. He is basically the inspiration for this whole year of traveling she was doing. This was a section of the book I couldn't stop reading, I kept wanting to see what happened (even though you know cause the title of the book gives away the third word). In Bali she learns to smile with her whole self including her liver, completing her year of finding herself. And I don't think it's a spoiler so I wont mark it but in the end she realizes she can love again, even though her marriage failed and her last relationship was god-awful.

I really enjoyed this book. I saw the movie and loved it but kept putting off reading the book. Again this is a book that I think I read at the right time. I know what it feels like to question everything in your life and know what it feels like to question if you have the right relationship with god and to actively seek that relationship if it isn't there. While yes parts of the book were annoying cause they were very self-serving, but it's a memoir so you kinda go into it already knowing that it's going to be a little self-serving. Overall I loved the book. I loved the division into three parts and I liked how the 36 chapters each all meant things to her, even if it chopped up the stories sometimes. Because of this book I think I'll read her follow up [b:Committed: A Skeptic Makes Peace with Marriage|6728738|Committed A Skeptic Makes Peace with Marriage|Elizabeth Gilbert||6924954] as well.

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Wednesday, June 13, 2012

When books help guide you

Okay music really sets me free, but like music, I don't think I could live without books.  Good, bad, depressing, chipper, chick-lit, smut, sci-fi, historical, bios, humor, self-help and textbooks- I need them all! In my life, all the time.  Give me books and I'll forever love you.  I've written about reading and books a little before here in January.  I wrote about my nook and my new love Goodreads. At the time I was still under a dozen books for the year, by now I'm at 34 for the year so far- no signs of stopping.

I think I started devouring books like a monster in middle school.  I was addicted to R L Stein's Fear Street books- the girly version of Goosebumps I guess.  I continued my passionate need for reading when I discovered Half Price Bookstore and I just bought the books that had interesting covers.  Yep I do that still sometimes- worked out great for The Night Circus.  Then people would recommend books to me, and I hadn't yet learned to be discerning about different tastes.  So when my dad told me to read Helter Skelter about the Mason murders or the Shining, I didn't know it would scare the crap out of me.

The sometimes people would recommend books to me because they saw something in me and thought I'd really connect with the book.  THOSE recommendations were always the best, because they aren't just random popular books being thrown around, but something more.  usually these books come to me at a certain time in my life where I need them.  They are either in sync with what I'm currently going through or can help kinda guide me out of it.

The first instance, and most influential, of this was The Celestine Prophecy, my camp counselor at the time thought I would love the book and let me borrow it one summer.  I was about to be a Freshman in high school, going to a new school, on a different side of town and with barely anyone I knew from middle school.  Celestine Prophecy is kinda cheesy when you look at it.  Goodreads describes it as

"You have never read a book like this before -- a book that comes along once in a lifetime to change lives forever.

In the rain forests of Peru, an ancient manuscript has been discovered. Within its pages are 9 key insights into life itself -- insights each human being is predicted to grasp sequentially; one insight, then another, as we move toward a completely spiritual culture on Earth. Drawing on ancient wisdom, it tells you how to make connections among the events happening in your life right now and lets you see what is going to happen to you in the years to come. The story it tells is a gripping one of adventure and discovery, but it is also a guidebook that has the power to crystallize your perceptions of why you are where you are in life and to direct your steps with a new energy and optimisim as you head into tomorrow."

Yah I guess that's what it's "about".  But to me I pulled on the synergy or synchronicity thing.  That the coincidences in your life will lead you in the direction you should be going.  This was something I had always believed in when it came to music.  I always thought music had to be a part of my life because there were so many damn coincidences.  In choir at school we would sing the exact same songs that would show up again that summer at camp.  Again after reading the book I noticed it more- coincidence that the last show my freshman year was "Crazy for You" and that summer at camp we just happened to do all Gershwin songs- coincidence or fate?  It was like the whole universe was trying to tell me music is a part of this, don't ever quit music.  Those coincidences went on my whole school and camp music experience.  Every year.  Also I can't forget this was the book that brought me and my now 12 year pen pal together.  So from this book I learned about coincidences and it helped solidify my "need" for music in my life.

Since then a few others books have come into my life and seemingly the right time to influence my thoughts or feelings on certain matters.  A close guy friend and I very much agree that On Love by Alain de Botton is the one fo the best, and most honey, relationship books we've ever read.  It's kinda like how I feel about the movie Closer, honest, brutally honest about relationships.  On Love is written by a philosopher, so his approach to love and relationships is completely rational, everything is deciphered and then deciphered some more.  

“If cynicism and love lie at opposite ends of a spectrum, do we not sometimes fall in love in order to escape the debilitating cynicism to which we are prone? Is there not in every coup de foudre a certain willful exaggeration of the qualities of the beloved, an exaggeration which distracts us from our habitual pessimism and focuses our energies on someone in whom we can believe in a way we have never believed in ourselves?” 
― Alain de BottonOn Love

I always go back to this book.  I can read it a hundred times and never get tired of it's simple truths.  It's very hard to find, so I recommend ordering it online, but it's worth the read and amazing.

Recently a book fell into my lap after I entered a Goodreads giveaway.  I'd been winning a lot lately and didn't check it very often, just waited for the emails telling me I'd won.  Then one day I got an email from an author, saying I'm sorry you didn't win, but can I send you an epub version for you to read and write a review for.  I agreed.  That's how I came to read You Know Your Way Home. I started reading it thinking it would only be a memoir of a woman's quest to find herself after 5 failed marriages.  Soon I realized it was much more than that.  This woman's journey through therapy and finding how to be happy with herself was very inspirational.  Her writing style wasn't always the best and some parts of the book were very self-indulgent, but overall the message was about finding your faith and taking control of your happiness.

Like another book I'm finally getting around to reading. Years ago a friend lent me the book "Eat, Pray, Love" and told me to read it and that I'd love it.  It's sat on my shelf since then.  I saw the movie and loved it and kept meaning and meaning to read the book.  I'm finally getting around to it and wondering why I waited so long.  So far I'm loving it.  I have no desire to travel, in fact leaving San Antonio makes me anxious.  I don't like being away from home, but through books about travel I can see how some people find it soothing and healthy to get away every once in a while.  The idea of going off to another country or countries for a year scares me to death, but I can appreciate that it can somewhat force you to have to find yourself.  

For me I can do it through books, by reading other people's journeys I can learn from their wisdom and from their mistakes.  To me it's less risky- as we say frequently in Student Affairs- Why reinvent the wheel? So I use my books to guide me, to remind me that music is important in my life, to remind me that sometimes love is really messy and to help find myself.  Books are my therapy, just like how sometimes music is my therapy.  I can't wait to see what more I can learn.