Tuesday, January 31, 2012

a disappointment (The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenedies) and a nice surprise (Make It Stay by Joan Frank)

I confess....I'm harder on authors I love...

I was so looking forward to this.  I even paid more than a few bucks to get it "early" (i.e. before there were super-cheap used ones floating around).  Middlesex is among my favorite reads and The Virgin Diaries was also a strong read.  I find my favorite books are from authors who don't churn out too many books and this was eagerly anticipated.  Perhaps that set me up for disappointment.

There are three young people at the heart of this novel, all of whom we meet in college and follow in the year after graduation.  Madeline is a lover of literature and enamoured by the idea of love.  She finds herself torn between Leonard, a manic-depressive scientist, and Mitchell, a romantic seeking enlightenment and value in religion and thought.  There is also a good bit of literary theory here, especially in the earlier chapters, and a hint of spirituality vs. science debates.

I'd had high hopes and was sorely disappointed by this read.  I'd give it 2.5 stars and am tempted to round down though admit that the review is harsher b/c of my high hopes.  I don't need to LIKE characters, but I need to CARE and I simply never did.  I related at points to Madeline's English major thoughts of theory taking the joy out of reading, but that's about it.  The writing was merely okay rather than captivating like in Eugenedies' prior works.  Can't recommend this one.
I recieved this short novel as a Goodreads giveaway winner.  I might have been hesitant to purchase it on my own since I shy away from shorter novels.  I loved it though so I'm quite glad that the giveaway brought it to me.

This is a novel of characters and relationships.  The narrator is Rachel and she and her husband, Neil, spend much of the novel sharing the story of another couple, Neil's best friend Mike and Mike's wife Tilda.  We also briefly see the story of Mike and Tilda's daughter, Addie.  There's a limited amount of action with the novel really being about the relationships and the ways love manifests itself.

I loved this book and happily give it 4 stars, at points I was leaning towards 4.5.  I loved the writing style which reminded me of Zoe Heller's What Was She Thinking (aka Notes on a Scandal).  The characters were interesting and imperfect, the love real and flawed.  The writing was accessible but still lovely.  This book is definitely for a reader who likes character over plot and I'd highly recommend it to such an audience. 

Monday, January 30, 2012

bullet rambles....

I confess....
  • My little corner of the Internet hit 10,000 views (not counting folks on "readers"). Pretty cool, though not such a big number given that I've been blogging since mid-2009.
  • I love the movie Hook.  IMDB and then Wikipedia taught me the little boy became a lawyer and now a law prof at Case Western.  Mean Me thinks tie was not kind to his adorable-ness.  Mean Me feels guilty for saying
  • My Fight Like a Girl story posted last week.  It is largely about the endo journey w/ a bit of the back thrown in.
  • I have a doc appt on Wednesday.  Cheer my bones on!!  Hopefully I am fusing well.
  • PT was tough today and I'm not sure why.  Nothing new on the plate, just struggled through it all.  I have more walking to do but feel lazy.
  • I've been eating horribly lately.  And it shows on the scale and in my jeans.  I'm not motivated to improve though...
  • I'll post two book reviews soon, one I was sorely disappointed in and another that was a really nice surprise (a giveaway win).
  • Still loving Once Upon a Time but not a fan of the storyline in this week's coming attraction.  I do like getting more backstory involving the Evil Queen though....she is wonderfully acted and just superbly icy. 

Friday, January 27, 2012

politics schmolitics

I confess...it is hard for me to define, and hard for me to evaluate, my political involvement these days... 

I certainly learned liberal views in my youth. I had an extra level of attention to women's matters....the teacher required a permission slip for me to do my chose ninth grade term paper topic of female circumcision in The Color Purple. I sat very far from the top-down management boy in my AP US History group (LOVED "opposites" day....he had to be all for the little folks and turned colors as he tried to do so, I just really had fun being the dictator)

I think getting active in college had a lot to do with proximity to start.  A few folks in my building were going to the Haverford Activits Collective meeting and I tagged along.  My roommate EH headed up a fight against Internet censorship that had us making a million little blue ribbons in our living room.  Later that year, reading period fell on 12/13 and we went to DC....my 18th birthday, in DC was darn cool.   I'm not sure that many of our meetings had been well-researched on their sides.  Saw Santorum, then junior senator for PA, and recall his folks solving the homelessness problems by having churches take people in.  I asked who his church had assigned to his home but didn't get a reply.  We had a photo op with Dole who is smiling amid seven liberal Democrats and three communists.

I did the requisite campaign work in college too.  In the first go on a House campaign, our candidate lost by about 80 votes.  In a U.S. House race, that's well below a percentage point.  It hammered home the reality that voting does matter (and the first time I voted, I'd "met" everyone I voted for...counting working for a Clinton rally as a meet).  The next time, I was still only a volunteer but started a full year before the race when there was one staffer, me, and the same roomie from the blue ribbons.  "We" won.  My friend had become a staffer but I never did.  Still, the original staff girl touched me when she said the three of us really made a congressman b/c it never could have gotten there without the early days of check copying and filing and such.  

I believed.  And have seen that "it matters"....but....  

Fast forward. 

I consider myself more informed than average, but I find the whole world of politics frustrating.  To use a phrase I've stolen from somewhere, I'm not sure there's much "there" there.  I can't stomach the debates because it feels like as much pageantry as Toddlers & Tiaras.  I read the details of the State of the Union the next morning....it is much less annoying with the forty minutes of clapping.  I care who I vote for (and will most likely vote for Obama again...I don't see much case in which I wouldn't), but I can't get up the excitement I used to have to work at or even attend a campaign event....especially for a national level race that feels too big and too, well, political.

I'm not sure there's a point here.  I think it isn't unusual to have more spirit at 20 than at 34 for such things.  It is sad.  Yet, I'm not sure if it's "me" or "them" that's the issue....

Thursday, January 26, 2012

withdrawal set in...bullet-point time!

I confess...I'm in bullet-point withdrawal!!

  • After being sent home from PT on Monday, I drove to a doctor's office and made an appointment.   We're treating a couple issues and I do think I'm feeling a bit better.  The inventor of the effective medicine for tummy cramping is my hero.  Let's hope my insurance plays nice with the appointment and tests (blood, urine, and x-rays). 
  • I miss Zappy.  I had to send the TENS back b/c it was out of network.  I will look into another once the prior bullet point bills are cleared.
  • I believe in celebrating heroes.  I know Joe Paterno did a world of good for the school, even outside the football world.  I also think he truly felt like he lacked the tools to handle the allegations of abuse when they first surfaced.  I can't decide how I think this impacts his legacy.  I do think he should have done more but can't decide how much that should tarnish his good deeds.
  • I'm in love with Once Upon a Time, even though I hate the little boy and am bugged by the married David macking on Mary Margaret.  I can't quite buy the story some folks are spouting that his marriage to Kathryn doesn't count since it is part of the curse's delusional nature.  He THINKS he's married and he's cheating....that's enough to bother me.  That said, the Evil Queen/Regina is among the most deliciously evil characters ever.
  • I'm sad that Parenthood seems not to be adding new episodes to On Demand.  Neither is Up All Night so it may be an NBC issue.  We do have an internet-to-TV line but I need to learn how to use it, especially since these are more likely to be shows I watch on my own.
  • MM had never had Snickerdoodles before I made them last week.  Poor deprived boy!!
  • I go for a back follow-up next week (2/1).  Root for bone growth!
  • I haven't done well on gaining control of my weight and dropping the vanity pounds.  I'm also wondering if that's because my new set-point is higher than my "perfect" scale number.  Though I've also definitely failed to "earn" any losses given that I comfort eat when sick (yes, even when nausea is an issue....it felt better w/ brownies!).
  • I'm not quite done and the review will come, but I'm hugely disappointed in The Marriage Plot.  I don't care about the characters at all.  I see Eugenedies' brilliance in flashes but it is nowhere near the level of my Middlesex love. 
  • It has been a mild winter but I'm still cold.
  • I like blogs that have frequent dog pictures (puppy porn!!).  Even if they all make me a little sad since it isn't going to happen with my allergies. 
  • I buy MM random cards.  I suppose it was inevitable that I got one for the second time!  I've read them all in CVS and can't recall which I just read and which I bought.  And, yes, he knew it was a repeat.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Suspending Disbelief and Falling In: The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

I confess...I'd delayed reading this one.  A dear friend recommended it but we've had really different responses to books in the past so I wasn't sure if I'd enjoy it.  I also read that it had a ton of characters and I'm memory-challenged when it comes to keeping folks straight.  But a fellow blogger is doing it for her "book club" and that gave me an added incentive (Hi to Julie).

Magic abounds in this novel.  The circus is almost another character and it plays home to two young people who have been trained to take part in a very undefined form of battle.  As a performer trained by her father, Celia is taught to make her magic appear to be "tricks" when in fact she truly can transform items into birds, change the color and material of her dress, and even heal her own injuries.  Marco's teacher found him in an orphanage and his strength is taking his target to a magical fantasy world.  The book also includes others who helped build the circus and a few of its fans.

The book seems to have pretty polarized reviews with folks either loving or hating it.  In my opinion, the writing is simply stunning.  It is not a fast-paced read, not a ton "happens" for much of the book, but that's okay by me although I know it isn't a fit for everyone.  I was less-interested in the book's billing as a love story (another complaint among readers is that it doesn't really fit in that realm despite the book jacket's promises) and more in just falling into the circus.

For me, four stars and maybe even four and a half.  You need to be fully willing to suspend disbelief and buy into the magic.  You also need to be okay with more detail than plot.  I will say that there ARE a lot of characters, and many do take center stage in at least one chapter, but I had no issues keeping everyone straight.  Recommend to folks who just like beautiful writing and are fine with slower plots.

Monday, January 23, 2012

not that y'all didn't know that i'm a lovely writer....

I confess...this is a short one.

I sent in my final column this week in my Newcomer series with our local weekly free paper.  I got an email back from the editor saying she'd miss me...enough to ask if I'd occassionally cover events in my part of the County!  It is just a small per piece rate but I'm excited by it.  Yay for a reward for something I enjoyed doing and for another opportunity to write.

I'm still looking for a "regular" job and crossing my fingers on one position that sounds like an awesome fit for both my skills and my heart. 

Saturday, January 21, 2012


I confess....I just wrote my final installment for the local freebie paper.  The series had a few stories of moments when I really appreciated living in the region.  Hopefully, I'm not causing any copyright issues by sharing this.  I presume it will be in next Friday's edition (and offered that she could delete the parenthetical in the final paragraph if desired).  The piece mentions an awesome surprise this morning that totally made MM and I smile....

I'll also confess that I "lost" two followers yesterday and that I dislike being bothered by that.  It may be related to some shifts in Google's blog programs.  On the other hand, I am approaching TEN THOUSAND visits to my little rambly world (likely get there before the end of the month) which is pretty cool!

I’ve been wondering how to bring this little series to a close.  I missed last week due to illness and also because I’ve told my biggest Bellefonte tales.  Someone gave me a great concluding moment today (writing with hot cocoa in hand on Saturday after the snow arrived), but I’ll get there….

In the end, the reason Centre County feels like home is quite simple.  It is cheesy to say but true nonetheless: It is the people.  This is particularly dramatic after a four year stint in Boston where I fell on the sidewalk more than once and no one seemed to notice.  I don’t think they were purposeful in continuing to walk when I slipped, but they were plugged in to headphones and just failed to notice.  During the week I spent in a full leg brace, people usually did offer a train seat when they noticed.  They just didn’t always notice.  There are good people everywhere, but there’s a level of commitment to being a community in our region that stands apart.

It’s really the smaller moments more than the big stories that make a place home.  It is the friendly chatter of the cashier and the “Get Well” wishes when I’m buying a basket full of cold remedies.  It is the fellow gym patrons who welcomed me back after a four month absence with smiles and inquiries about how I was healing.  It is the chatter in the physical therapy office about recovery and everything and anything else.  It is the residents lining the street back in the Fall for a football parade, dressed in team colors and staking a spot an hour ahead even despite a heavily losing record. 

And, today, as winter reminds us that it does still have some tricks up its sleeve, it is an anonymous neighbor and a driveway that was cleared while we hid under the covers with coffee and hot cocoa.  Thank you, whomever you are, for the kindness.  It was not necessary, but that makes it so much more lovely. 

An additional thank you to the Gazette for letting me ramble and to you for reading my musings.  I look forward to growing in 2012, finding a job that lets me further my connection to the community (can I steal a moment to say “Hire Me!” to any Bellefonte or State College employer in need of a hard worker with a fondness for the written word?), and becoming part of what makes this region special.

Friday, January 20, 2012

status update...way over 140 characters....

I confess....this is going to be a total ramble.

I've definitely been improving this week after nearly three solid weeks of physical troubles.  I'm still incredibly tired but I've tried to kind of let myself submit to it.  I'm typing from a warm bed because it just sounds better than the couch.  That is not a healthy forever solution, but I gave myself the full week to indulge such predilections.

I go to the back doc on February 1 for an early version of a six month exam (would be "due" 2/8).  Despite the struggle of the past month, I have finally noticed some small improvements. I move better.  My pain still maxes out at a 7 on the beloved pain scale, but I'm not there nearly as often as I had been even as recently as Thanksgiving.  I can get out of bed easier and I can even grab a dropped blanket in the night.  Seriously, folks, you don't know how nice that is!! 

I did talk to the PT a bit today about my continued lack of flexibility.  I've NEVER been a toe-toucher and I certainly don't expect it.  But I'm still getting only a bit past my knees whereas my "usual" norm was mid-to-lower calf.  I know I may have sacrificed a bit of movement with the fusion, but he is hopeful we can get some improvement.  He does amnual stretching for the hams each appt and suggested trying a doorway-lying stretch on my own a bit.  I will not be able to get my legs up straight in a right angle but he said to just do whatever angle I can for now and relax into it. 

We added a couple exercises today on the strength side and I'm already feeling them!  It included stability ball crunches although I only did about eight to start.  He was impressed though, as trainers have been, that I'm the exception to the "no hands behind your head" rule...I truly do just cradle my head in my intertwined hands without pulling on my neck or anything of the sort.  He said he was ready to jump in and stop me until he saw the form was spot-on.  He did have me try moving them just to help focus on the abs a bit since my back was feeling it a lot but said he'd generally allow me to do them "my" way since I keep it clean.  I do take pride in having always had pretty darn good form in the strength arena....not sure about running, though I'm still stuck in power-walk-land for now.

What else to tell? 

I'm wrapping up my little column in the local paper.  One piece was about our awesome mail lady.  I left it clipped to our doorside box one day, along with a note to her to check out the page.  Of course, the OTHER mail person shows AND has to knock with a package.  Poor MM answered and admitted it was kinda awkward.  The next day, the "right" mail person caught me over at PT and said a sweet thank you, along with an odd little bow (ummm...bow like tilting of the body, not like ribbon).  The editor also sent a note that another staff member was stopped by the mail lady's husband (also a mail person!!) and told to send a thanks.  I'll admit, it warmed me.

STILL on the job hunt.  I do enjoy my little law blog gig and I'm up to five pieces a week but that's pretty much just grocery and toiletries money so I do need another addition.  I'd very much like to get a gig w/ health insurance so I can stop having to be on X's...although it has been easier not to have to change in the midst of the post-op stuff.

Reading a lot.  Hiding from winter even though we've been pretty spoiled this year.  Made snickerdoodles last night (poor deprived MM had never had them!!!)...we'll neglect to talk about having to go to the store twice since I got eggs, butter, and vanilla, started the mixing and such, and then had to go back for baking powder (and that's after searching for a recipe w/o cream of tartar or shortening since I like that snickerdoodle ingredients are usually very much pantry staples that will get used for other stuff). 

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Reviews: The Red Tent (Diamant) and Artist of the Floating World (Ishiguro)

I confess...I'm not feeling creative enough for a more interesting post title.

I must be nearing my tenth go through this book but I've never actually written a real review.  I have, however, marked it with five stars in more than one locale.  Diamant's main character is Dinah and is based on a briefly mentioned Biblical figure who is the only daughter among Jacob's numerous children.  Dinah grows up with four "mothers", one her biological mother and the other three are aunts (all are half-sisters and all married to Jacob).  The titular red tent is where the women retreat during their periods.  Dinah does eventually leave her mothers but she remains very tied to womanhood and she becomes a very skilled midwife.  The story follows her from childhood to old age and imagines a side of history that is largely unwritten because most written accounts are from the male world.

I am enchanted by this book every time.  The women are all very different and each has her own strengths and foibles.  Dinah revels in a lot about womahood but she also is limited at times by the roles it brings.  The book shows relationships with amazing depth including those with a parent, the relationship among siblings (including sisters sharing a spouse and with Dinah and her brothers, esp Joseph), female friendships, mentorships, and romantic love.  There is so much detail and richness.  The book shows women celebrating womanhood and enjoying the secrets of their world, a place that men seem to fear. 

Five stars, no questions.  Definitely oriented to women and I truly don't know how it might feel to someone who is very religious given the Biblical ties.  For me, I feel like I've visited a friend every time I read this book.
This is the second of the two Ishiguro books I recently purchased after revisiting Remains of the Day.  As with the other, this is a fairly short book.  Set in Japan, it is narrated by an aging artist who is reflecting on his potential involvement in the movements that led Japan to WWII.  He revisits a good deal of his life, spurred by the marriage negotiations (the book's phrase...it is still more a deal between families than a love-based concept) for his younger daughter and concern about how his past might reflect in the current light.

I enjoyed the book.  Ishiguro really likes to see how individual people are impacted by national upheaval and how they come to terms, especially when they are on the "wrong side" of history.  I didn't really love it, but I looked forward to the book at night and was compelled to keep reading.   As with many of my preferred books, there are no perfect characters here and the narrator does contemplate his own flaws (though I think he misses a big one...but that's fine since I think the author helps u see it, partly through comments from his daughters). 

I'd give it 3.5 stars and would round up to make the "full star only" rating site folks happy.

P.S.  Won a second Goodreads drawing!!  And three Harper books en route!
P.P.S.  I am exhausted after so many health challenges but seem to be avoiding any new ones (knock on cyberspace).  I am taking it easy this week, letting myself rest in bed extra and cutting down the cardio.  I need some self-TLC. 

Monday, January 16, 2012

best laid plans (and more unplanned more time on the bathroom floor)

I confess....well, THAT diet is not happening.  I'm not going to re-mention the name of the plan b/c I don't want to get sued.  And I'll say it wasn't officially confirmed.  But I am pretty darn sure I got food poisoning on Saturday from the food I'd ordered for the diet plan.

Like I really needed to be violently ill all Saturday night (and just "off" yesterday).  Can I get a "restart" on 2012?

They ARE refunding my money.  They seemed suspicious of the illness but gave the refund easily.  I feel horrid tossing 26 days of food, but I'm NOT touching it after being that sick. 

Saturday, January 14, 2012

moving ahead into a heatlhier 2012....hopefully....

I confess...the first two weeks of 2012 have sucked.  I think the lexapo withdrawal is finally under control, but MM was kind enough to bring back a present from work in the form of a nasty cold.  I've gotten past the worst of the head symptoms, but still got the lovely post-nasal drip going on which makes me incredibly nauseous.  Not fun.

Anyway, I DO want to shed some weight (the few pounds dropped in w/d were just water weight and came back).  I will fully admit it is vanity weight, but it is still excess that I do not want.  My PT frequently comments on how small my kneecaps are (they are also tilted funny, apparently).  In my bigger days, I tried to deny that the wrist-test was accurate but I do have a fairly small frame.  When you combine that with being 5'4" on a good day (though the surgeon swore I'd be taller...by a few millimeters), a little weight makes a decent difference on me.  I feel my best at 115, a bit swollen over 120, and too skinny at 110.  Again, dear readers, this is for ME and MY BODY.  On most bodies, the  123ish range I've been in would be lovely.  It just isn't the ideal for me.

I'd actually looked a bit at NutriSystem.  I've always thought those programs work best for folks who know they have decent habits and are usually around where they want to be, but need a kick-start.  But they have a definite financial penalty if you are doing only one 28-day cycle instead of a longer stint.  I'd reached out to them but I'm not popular enough to get a blogger discount.  So I got grumpy and moved on.

My friend Lauren had mentioned Meal Movement so I decided to check it out.  It isn't cheap, especially for the long-term unemployed type, but it seemed like a fair price.  You can select different options but you pretty much get ALL your food instead of needing to supplement like many other plans.  They are semi on the Paleo concept of eating like our ancestors did.  I don't see myself in that long-term but it seemed reasonable for the 28-day run because it means a good deal of "real" food...a meat & veggie for both lunch and dinner and either nuts/seeds or cheese sticks/beef sticks for a snack.

So, I gave in.  I'm hoping the financial aspect is an added incentive to stick with it....the price IS reasonable if I don't go and "cheat."  I did the lunch, dinner, & snacks plan because the breakfasts seemed a bit high in calories for me.  They say you can do oatmeal instead....real oats, no sugary packet things.  I like that since I can really have two or even three bowls for the equivalent to their egg dishes but I can spread them out a little more.   I do miss my cereal and cracker/cookie snacks though....they are pretty strict on not going that route b/c of the sugar and such. 

The stuff arrived yesterday.  The box was HUGE, close to 50lbs.  Our freezer was half-empty and is now PACKED and that's with a few days in the fridge (can go in the fridge for up to 14d).  I've only had two meals but both were good.  I AM feeling hungry, but I've also been WAY "off track" lately and gotten used to way more food than I need so I need to adjust.  Hopefully this will re-acclimate me to eating a sane amount, help me shed a little bit, and just be a kick-start for getting to the body I prefer. 

Wish me luck!  I am def already wanting to cheat, but it's a weekend and MM is making himself bacon and other things so that's just an added challenge.  I won't update on it often but will let you know what I think after the experiment is over.

Friday, January 6, 2012

balancing act

I confess....I knew better.

I decided I needed some protein.  This wasn't wrong.  Thinking I could handle a jar of PB in the house, however, was.  I was fine with it last night... I did have more than one PB 'wich but I needed it.  Today though...yeah...eating 3/4 a jar of PB will NOT help matters.  I did not need the guilt on top of the rest.  I know I need to "let it go" but I'm not so good at that (and I manage to feel guilty about that too!!).  I didn't expect the temporary scale drop in the first few days of being sick to last, I knew it wouldn't, but I really don't want to come out of this higher.  Though just coming FULLY out of this mess is the first priority.

Lesson -- Do give your body what it needs (i.e. protien) but don't give your mind a challenge when your body's already down (i.e. a jar of PB when it is totally not a food I'm safe around). 

Status -- I felt a good bit better last night but pretty crappy again today.  It is the first day though that I haven't, shall we say "visited the bathroom floor."  That is good and needs to be counted as progress.   (really, body...you just HAD to prove me a liar...not much of one which is TMI but...I seem to have more trouble w/ liquids than actual food...).  But I'm really shaky.  I tried to walk and abandoned that at less than half my normal distance b/c I felt like I was just going to collapse.  My hands feel oddly "thick"....the phrase I was given is "Mickey Mouse" hands and it is totally applying...typing is SLOW and difficult.  My head is really foggy (I'm catching at least one typo per line, sorry for those I miss!) and my belly is just plain "off," even taking the PB binge into account.

Reflection -- I DO think I needed the medicine when I took it.  I DO believe that sometimes our brains need help to be balanced, just like a diabetic may need insulin.  I just never imagined I'd still feel like crap a week later.

Moving ahead -- When I'm better, I do want to start a committed program to get to my best body. I have numbers in my head but want to try to focus more on just feeling like my body is where it belongs. Which it isn't at the current weight. I know I'm still considered small by most standards, but I also know my body looked and felt and performed better at a lighter size.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

two reviews, one tempered by prior love for the writer: The 19th Wife (Ebershoff) and A Pale View of Hills (Ishiguro)

I confess....this post may end up a bit messy.  I am still far from well but I am also stubborn and want to put up my latest reads....

I tend to shy away from trendy issues in my books so it fits that I read a book about polygamy as the reality freight train on the topic has slowed.  This book has two distinct storylines with polygamy playing a backbone role in each.  The current story is told by Jordan, a young man who was kicked out of his cult-like community as a teen (never really thought about it but they have to get rid of some boys, esp teens...the multiple wives thing won't work if the society is evenly gender-balanced).  He is drawn back in when his mother, the 19th wife of one of the leading men in the community, is accused of murdering his father.   The historical story is told in several styles (journals, an academic thesis, a wikipedia entry) and focuses on a wife of Brigham Young who eventually flees the community and speaks out against the practice of polygamy.

As an initial matter, I do think the author made it quite clear that the modern-day polygamist plot was focused on an outlier community, pretty nearly a cult, and not the general Mormon church.  I have read objections to the historical narrative's discussion of polygamy as anti-Mormon but it never felt that way to me.  The story does portray Young and other leaders as in favor of the practice but I think that is historically accurate.  It also shows that many devout Mormons struggled with the concept and felt it detracted from their religious practice.

I really enjoyed this read.  I wouldn't call it "literature" but there is more substance than I find in man top sellers.  I liked the fact that they not only showed the impact polygamy has on women but also showed how it can impact men as well.  Women and children are the poster-child victims but the novel showed several men who either simply didn't want to engage in the practice or who felt like they were beaten-down by it and unable to be the spouse or parent they wished to be.  I liked the variety in the narrative devices overall, not every style worked for me but I appreciated the effort.  The variation in the historical thread was also countered by the modern-day story keeping a single style.

Four stars for a book that I looked forward to reading every night.  A bit disappointed in the resolution to Jordan's tale, but not enough to totally toss aside the book...oddly, it was SO "thrown in" that it didn't take me out of the book too much and I simply was able to enjoy the other issues without being solely focused on the "whodunit" matter.  Again, not an overly serious literary piece but fodder for thought and an engaging read.

I recently reread The Remains of the Day and my copy of Never Let Me Go has been well-worn (and not just b/c it was holding a chair in the Dominican Republic when a fierce lunchtime rain storm hit) so I decided to order two more Ishiguro works.  The totally unfair truth is I'm tougher on authors who've written books I love....it's like going to the film everyone had been talking about, it is more likely to disappoint.  So I'm struggling with this book review a bit....

This is the author's first novel and it is fairly short.  The main character is Etsuko who, in the modern storyline, is a Japanese woman living in England.  Her younger daughter is a twenty-something who is living in London and is making a first visit home after Etsuko's eldest daughter committed suicide.  The narrator also reflects on a period in her earlier life in Japan when she was married to her first husband and pregnant with the elder daughter.  She focuses her reflections on two topics: a visit from her father-in-law and a strange friend who lives nearby with her daughter.

I don't need my books tied in a neat little bow.  In fact, I prefer stories without perfect "magical" endings.  I am also certainly a fan of "show don't tell."  That said, I felt a bit lost when I finished this one.  There's definitely a secret there but I am not sure I "got" it.  I have browsed online a bit and my verdict tends to be one that is a bit darker and less popular than the conclusion reached by most readers.  I can, however, totally see both views.  In some cases, I might like that but I just feel a bit frustrated and it detracted from the book for me.  The writing is lovely, as always, and the book fits my preference for stories driven by character over plot.  I just kinda wanted to love it more.  3.5 stars, in the end, and I can't really decide which way to round.  A 4 is probably fairer and avoids punishing the book for not matching the other two Ishiguro's I've read, but a 3 may be a more honest reflection of my feeling while reading.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

b/c clearly whining is a good follow-up to sappy

I confess....2012 has not gone well.

I live pretty openly on most fronts.  I hope that doing so helps at least one person feel less alone with the struggles that are sometimes kept quiet.  I try not to embarrass others (well, too much...sappy posts are quite different from sharing other people's stuff) and don't think I post anything that would be a total turn-off for an employer...I don't give out my blog name or have my name directly on it but I have no doubt it could be found if someone wanted to find it.  Still, I try to be honest.

So, I've been on Lexapro for a couple years.  I do think it helped, but I decided a while ago that I wanted to see how I would do without it.  I had been on 20mg/day and had gotten quite ill the couple of times I missed a dose.  So I figured I'd be smart and went down to 10mg for 90d before cutting it out entirely.  There wasn't a single symptom during the 20 to 10 shift.

I took my last 10mg pill on Thursday night.  And I've been horridly ill ever since.  I've bonded more with the bathroom floor than I ever cared to.  There's a lot of naseau but the head symptoms are far worse and are definitely contributing to the belly.  It feels like my head is filled with sludge.  The world moves in fits and starts, kinda like a slowed down stop-motion animation.  There are "waves" in my head when I dare move.  The dry heaves (well, mostly...sometimes not so, ummm, "dry") are also not helping either the back or the off-kilter head.  Dizzy isn't quite the right word, but very "off" and I'm feeling like driving isn't the smartest of choices (not that walking is smart either).  I had odd hand issues yesterday too...the term someone shared when I explained it was "Mickey Hands" which totally fits since it felt like the fingers were swollen to mitten-size and hard to move. 

I skipped PT Monday and today (Wed).  Hopefully I won't be charged a penalty....I couldn't call 24h ahead on Monday and I just kept hoping I'd be better today.  I felt kind of human while hidden under he covers but it went steeply downhill when I dared to move.  They know I'm stubborn and would not skip a workout unless I really couldn't cut it.  I've come in limping and only said "no" after trying a move led to tears. 

The symptoms all fit with my research on Lexapro withdrawal and I definitely felt them before Googling so it isn't some sort of placebo affect. There's plenty out there on withdrawal but a lot less on how long this lasts.  A few horror tales said 8w but I am confident those are extreme outliers, well, I hope so anyway.  In my experience, it is only the worst tales that make it online since folks who feel fine are enjoying the world instead of lurking on medical sites.  I had Dr Dad dig around some doctor-resources and he said five days was the average.  I'm over that already, but my body isn't known for being cooperative.  I should be oddly grateful I was never "cool" enough to be exposed to any non-medical drugs since my body is defintely skewed towards physical dependence.

Well....I DID want to drop some surgery and holiday weight...and, I'll admit, I have.  Apparently eating a big pizza salad when your body says it is the only thing it wants (mostly a lot bread and feta w/ a bit of chicken and veggie mix...I think the carbs were the craving) works fine when it is the only full meal you eat in a couple days (and thankfully it stays put in the belly).  Still, this is NOT the way I wanted to lose a bit of the vanity weight.  I do not recommend it.

I've shuttled between the couch and the bed every few hours.  I'm pushing MM's sympathy limit, not that I can blame him.  Some folks say going back on 5mg would help....but it is hard to decide.  If I knew I'd be this ill for weeks to come, I'd do it with the hope that it'd ease the process.  But, if I'm CLOSE, then I don't want to backtrack.  I wish my body had some sort of predictive thermostat...clearly I should upgrade to a version that does.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

wherein i am unrepentantly sappy and annoying

I'm not gonna start with an "I confess".  So there.  And this post will very likely be a bit of a bore, but so be it.

Before heading to a NYE party last year, I left the following note on the host's facebook page
i'm putting in a request for a cute, mid-30s, non-smoking boy for a midnight kiss. strong arms a plus....we'll stay superficial since i only anticipate a 15 second relationship i'll bring cookies in return.
I remember walking in and noticing a boy with nice arms, but he was holding a cigarette so I dismissed him.  I didn't get my kiss but I got a backrub around 2AM that ended up lasting for two hours.  There was clearly chemistry.  I got my kiss the following evening, a hidden kiss b/c our friends were totally monitoring our every move.

Over the next week, we spent hours on the phone together.  I despise the phone , finding even ten minues insufferably long.  So, I knew this meant something, including that it was more than just good chemistry.  It moved fast, emotionally and geographically, with me packing the car not long after to head out to Central PA.  That's SO not me....but I never had a doubt about it.  And, btw, the cigarettes were just social and dropped without a request when shared friends gave a heads-up that I both dislike it and have allergy issues.

Thank you, MM, for a lovely year.  You've shown me so much.  I was so very wrong for so long when I thought I knew what love was.  You accept me, mental-and-physical-warts and all.  You said, "If I can't handle you at your worst, I don't deserve you at your best" and you lived it by my bedside after surgery and comforting me when some mental demons arose.  You made me smile more than I have since I was a nutty little three year-old running around restaurants and introducing myself to everyone.  You make me laugh all the time.  You taught me the right person is the one your heart knows, even if the match sounds so odd on paper (a conservative military boy, a liberal pacifist girl).  When you smile at me, a smile that takes your whole face and is best around your eyes, I feel so lucky and so loved. 

I'll stop now.  Not because I can't go on, but because it'd get way too long if I kept going. 

Love you MM.