Thursday, February 25, 2010

Winter Olympics

I think the reason I was falling asleep during my short drive to work this morning can be boiled down to one thing: the Olympics.

I am obsessed, I totally admit it.
I am the girl who thinks it's her patriotic duty to yell at the TV for the South Korean skaters to fall so Ohno can win a gold medal - that kind of obsessed.

I was in NYC for the opening ceremonies, and since Jam is equally a fan, we've both watched as much Olympics as our schedules allowed since day one - though we did fall asleep before the end of the opening ceremony because we are old, ha ha ha.

While I always root for my countrywomen and men, I find myself this year, particularly with figure skating, cheering for the team/person that I feel "deserves" the gold - since I haven't followed figure skating at all for a couple of years, I was pretty unbiased (I really only knew Johnny Weir and Plushenko, LOL that's how out of the loop I am!).

In pairs, I found myself pulling for Shen and Zhao - how could you not, right, with all the treacly, feel-good stories NBC featured about their relationship, marriage, etc. I am a sucker though, and I totally pulled for them and was very excited to see them win Olympic gold!

As for Lysacek, he simply outskated Plushenko. No, dude, they don't just hand out gold medals to people who do quads. If that were the case, we should scrap the programs altogether and just have a jumping competition. Maybe you should switch to aerial skiing if you want a gold medal for one fancy trick. It was exciting to see an American guy score the gold, because as much as I love Johnny Weir, we all knew he wasn't going to get it done. Apparently Lysacek is dating Nastia Liukin, of individual gold gymnastics fame - I kind of love that. Of course I am biased, since I spent most of the Beijing games with my face pressed to the screen, screaming "CMON NASTIA!" because I had decided that she was my fav summer Olympian...

When I watched ice dancing (can we have a moment for the Russian team's costumes? Oy) I thought that Davis and White would be unbeatable after their "Phantom of the Opera" routine...

then Virtue and Moir took to the ice - Jaysus. I told Jamaal that their routine may have been the most beautiful ice skating routine I've ever seen. I was blown away by their elegance and they certainly deserved the gold.

Here's where my unbiased opinion completely fades: ladies figure skating. Can we please just give Joannie Rochette a medal for having the grace and guts to stay in the competition after the death of her mother, which occurred during the games - yeah, 3 days ago. She's sitting in third going into tonight's competition, and at the very least, I hope she is standing on the podium tonight. For mental and emotional strength alone, she deserves to win. That's who I'll be cheering for tonight.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Said Gonna Be a Revival Tonight*

Do you have places that soothe your soul? You know, those places that make you feel a little more complete just by being? I do. I have a bunch, and I need to visit one because all this stress, all this winter, all this rain and snow, it's making me feel empty empty empty. I feel as though the only thing that's going to put me to right is one of these places reviving my tired, broken-down self.

The problem? They're all either far away or cold. Ha ha ha, of course they are:


You've all heard it here before - I went to Kenya for a semester in 2003 and it turned my world upside down with its pure awesomeness. Some parts were simply breathtaking, others I loved because they were gritty and raw. There were a lot of things that just made me sad there, things I could not help or fix - but the place as a whole, it made my mind work, it made me happy, it challenged me so hard every single day. Then there are the people - the people that became my second family, the people I saw again in 2006 who hugged me close and said "Ah-LEE-zon. We knew you would come back like you promised." Sigh. Part of me knows I would feel better just going there for one day and having Salaash (below) find me a carmine bee eater or a ball python, hearing him say "this is so bea-yoo-ti-full I could sing "Amazing Grace."" But the plane ticket is several thousand dollars and I have this irritating thing shadowing me called "responsibility." The good thing? I know I can talk Jam into visiting one day, and he promised a trip to Botswana after we're married - maybe because we're all from Africa that it strangely feels like home, fulfills an emptiness inside? I don't know.

Bear Island, NH

A cold place right now. Not so good for visiting...yet.... My grandparent's cottage is my favorite place in the world - near home, that is. It's relaxing, it's on an island so you can't drive anywhere, there are no computers, and only small tv with only three channels. It's quiet, it's peaceful. When I go there I do whatever I want, read whatever I want, eat whatever I want and no one has any expectations of me. I get up at sunrise to take pictures of the sun coming up, then return to my bed on the porch to sleep for a few more hours. I lie in the sun (with SPF 75 on, no worries) and sleep or just stare blankly at the sky. It's glorious. I am counting down the months til I can go back.


I haven't been here in years, but my sister and I spent at least a week there every summer, camping in a pine barren. We would bike around the island - the best way to get around - and see all of its quiet, small, secret places. Though it's kind of a yuppie, wanna-be haven now (hee hee) you can still go there and feel like time has stopped. There are parts of it that feel so old, like those little side streets you can hike up to see Lucretia Mott's birthplace or Maria Mitchell's observatory - you almost feel as though you are living in Nantucket's heyday, in the midst of whaling and ships coming home from afar (and abolition! and feminism!). Out of town, there are still innumerable to find a peaceful quiet place. Maybe I should go there now, even though it's probably freezing - no tourists in the winter!from here

Grand Tetons

Also a place I haven't visited in forever...but seriously, how could you be sad or incomplete or tired or frustrated when you have those big mountains looming in front of you?from here

Lake Louise

This is the first "nice" place my grandparents ever took us. It's in in the Canadian Rockies and it's amazing. This shot is at the lake, but if I went for a visit, I'd stay at the old standby, the Post Hotel. I'd eat at their restaurant every night, get room service for breakfast, and spend a decent amount of time at the spa. Then I'd drink my cocktails in the library in front of the fireplace and read a good book. Sigh.

from here


My alma mater - it really feels like it should be "home" sometimes. I think just being on campus and remembering all the wonderful, fun things I did there lifts my spirits (because I have a happy filter and have blocked many of the bad memories. Like crying over bio tests and having mono!). I always return from Smith ready to tackle some problem. I could easily get there...but when? When can I sacrifice a day of making save the dates and emailing wedding vendors? AHHHHH!

Well, at least talking about these places helped me feel a little better. I think the winter is really getting on my nerves...and combine that with overtiredness, work stress (totally lame) a surprise $500 in car repairs, and the fact that I haven't been on vacation since 2007? Yeah, you get a little freak-out thing going on.

The good thing is that while I might now be able to hit up any of these places for a visit soon, I know I'll get back to all of them eventually. Also, I have a pretty healthy stretch of "free" time ahead of me to sort of unwind and relax. I'll be pet/house sitting starting next week, and while it's not the most relaxing thing in the world, the benefit is that my time will be my own. I don't have to make myself dinner if I don't want to, don't have to do the dishes or help out with xyz around the house. I know it probably sounds selfish, but it's kind of the mini vacation I need from my life right now. LOL. Until day 4 that is, when I call my sister because I'm lonely and bored...and the parrots are trying to eat me.

Eh well, thanks for reading on this damp, gray day. Maybe I'll be more upbeat tomorrow!

*From "Revival" by Soulsavers. Listen to it here Or simply watch Grey's Anatomy, the one where the ambulance crashes and Meredith is able to relieve the trapped EMT's cardiac tamponade by crawling into a wrecked ambulance with a huge-gauge

Monday, February 22, 2010

The Real Problem is...

Sometimes I think I have ADHD.
Sometimes, I attack my days. I hurtle through them like a meteorite and crash at the end of the day, leaving a trail of accomplishment (OK and sometimes destruction) behind me.

Other times, I'm like a damn piece of trash in the wind (aren't I like, SUPER GOOD at metaphors? *cackles*) I float around and do not settle for more than a few seconds at a time. Nothing gets done. I can't complete a task from beginning to end not a single task.

This weekend I realized that no, it's not ADHD. It's this:
That's my to-do list that I made on Friday night...for the weekend. It had some easy things on it: "renew library books" "buy Charlie bird food" "clean." But then it had these ridiculous goals on it "schedule life" "come up with a fitness plan for next three months" "finish save-the-dates" (I have to do 100!!) and then random things that have been put off for years "scan Kenya pics" "write to Ms. B." Yeah. Maybe the problem is more like, oh I dunno, I make unattainable goals and then feel like a failure when I do not accomplish everything on the list? I think that's more like it. It's a specific neuroses/condition, called "First-born over-achiever syndrome." One does not necessarily have to be the first-born child in the family to have this disease, but it does often afflict the first-borns. An even greater problem is that I'm not sure how to cure it. I like having my days filled with things to do, because at the end I can feel accomplished. Lately though, I've been seeing the value in having an unscheduled day in which I do nothing except watch movies and some sort of craft (if the weather is bad) or just wander around outside for no particular reason. Yesterday it was chilly but bright and sunny in Mass., and all I wanted to do was kayak. But there was NO TIME!!!!111one one

I'm going to work on this issue. I don't have a solution yet, but I have a few ideas on how I'm going to deal with this. Part of it is staying organized. Part of it is not being a damn overachiever who takes on too much (sure I'll make your baby a quilt, sure I'll do a hand-knit scarf swap, sure I'll bring that special beehive cake to your party on Saturday night). Part of it also has to come from me figuring it out a little bit. I know I'll always have that overachiever in me, but I have to learn how to wrangle it, harness it for good and not for destruction. There's got to be a way, right?

For now, I'm going to get back to work. I can't believed I focused on this post and wrote in uninterrupted. Go me, ha ha ha.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Annoying on a Friday

Ok. So most of you probably go through life and find that there are these little things that people do that are unbearably annoying. Maybe they're just annoying to you, maybe they're universally irritating to most normal society. I try not to complain too much, but this week I have seen a lot of special things, and I CAN'T KEEP IT IN!

1. People who treat others working in the serving industry like crap. I was at Dunks today and this guy was treating the three people who worked there like SH*T. To the point where I almost said something. The Dunks I go to has got to be one of the busiest in the city, fueled by the legions of hungry construction workers building the newest addition to our hospital. The construction workers have the system down. A lot of times they go into Dunks ordering about 12 sandwiches and 15 coffees. They write everything on a scrap of cardboard (why they never have paper remains a mystery) and hand it over the the manager. This guy (who was not a construction worker or nurse or doctor) had a paper with stuff written down, but then was getting additional stuff, like "one chocolate munchkin." The manager was like "look, we can't be as quick as you want us to be if you don't write everything on the list when you have such a big order." The guy just kept mumbling under his breath - luckily the manager is kinda scary, and she gets in his face and goes "You get me, RIGHT?!" After she walks away and the rest of the staff completes his order, the guy asks for a plastic bag and goes "yeah, and don't get your grimy-ass fingerprints all over it neither." Grammar aside, this guy was an ass. I so wanted something karmically bad to happen to him, like his whole coffee coolatta spilling down the front of his pants. Grrr.

2. People who treat public transportation like their personal chariot. This lady plops down next to me on the bus yesterday, and proceeds to take off her coat and make a little coat-nest around her, do her hair, spread her newspaper everywhere, open all her mysterious work folders, talk on the phone, primp, blow her nose, etc. Any one of those things alone would be fine, but lady, it's a 20 minute bus ride, sometimes even 15 minutes. WHY? Then there are the people who put makeup on, trim their nails, floss, eat, etc on the train/bus/commuter rail. It's gross. SO GROSS. I would rather have the throw-up lady in front of me on the train - she couldn't help herself, but that guy trimming his nose hairs? Yeah, he could've waited for a better time and place! Don't get me started about spitting....

3. People who refuse to give up their seats on the train to others who obviously need them. Get this - a 47-month pregnant lady hops on a crowded train at South Station. No one moves, including the perfectly-abled d**che who had lunged for the handicapped seat at the previous stop. I proceeded to give him and the guy sitting next to him the evil look of death (I was standing too. Because chivalry is dead). I too have been in the conundrum "is she pregnant, is she not, what should I do? eh?" but there was no doubt about this woman, who was actually supporting her belly with her hands. C'MON. So in hopes of causing the oblivious or just plain rude men great embarrassment, I lean over their heads, tap her on the hand and say "Do you need to sit?" She says "Oh no, I'm fine" Yeah right. I say "OK, but if you want a seat, please tell me, because I will yell at this people to get up. I will make them get up - because what they're doing right now, is ridiculous." I think the poor woman was freaked out. She kinda laughed and said "thanks" and I noticed a guy smushed between the subway door and someone's backpack was cackling, probably because he wanted to see me yell at someone. Everyone else just stared. What is wrong with people?! Oh and for the record, I have been asked if I wanted a seat by another woman, and when I said no she leaned in close and said in a conspiratory tone "but aren't you pregnant?" OK, so maybe some people would've been offended. I laughed and said "No" and the poor woman was mortified, and the guy she was with was like "I told you she WASN'T" but honestly, I was relieved to find someone willing to give up their seat - and I told her that too.

4. The backpacks. Take them off on the train and bus. I hate getting my hair snagged in your zipper.

5. Littering - If I had a dollar for every guy I saw littering in Jam's neighborhood this weekend, I'd be rich. Ok not rich, but I'd probably have enough cash to get out of the parking garage this afternoon. What is up with throwing your sh*t on the ground when there is a trash can on every corner? I was puzzled. It's just something I thought had improved dramatically since the 80's, you know?

6. People who barely seem able to move, then sprint in front of you to get the last seat on the bus. Ugh. It happened three days this week.

7. People who text during movies, especially those who do so with the screen shining in my face. I have yelled at people about this, thus scarring a 14-year old teeny bopper for life...ok, I scarred her probably for only 2 hours, but I felt like she needed the scolding.

Well I think seven items is plenty of complaining for a Friday, don't you? I feel like I just lost about five pounds getting this all out into the blogosphere. Whew.

So I realized on Wednesday that it is the Lenten season (after I wondered why three people had identical bruises/moles/lesions on their forehead. Ashes, dumba$$) and wondered whether or not I should give up anything. See, I'm Protestant, and I am always like "oh I'm Protestant not Catholic, so I don't subscribe to giving up things for Lent." I am guessing there are a lot of Protestants out there who say the same kind of thing. My church however, suggests giving something up, or even setting aside time for deep introspection about sacrifice, etc, blah blah blah what Jesus gave up for us, blah blah. OK you get it. SO last year I gave up candy, which was nice I guess. I thought about doing that this year, but it didn't seem hard enough, plus I should probably give that up anyways as I embark on my fitness regime. I could give up soda, but I only drink it on the weekends, coffee, etc. They all seemed too simple.

Instead, I decided to try and give up meanness. Yeah, sometimes I am mean. Not in the cruel sense, but in the rude/unsympathetic/unsupportive sense. Or the sarcastic sense. I am going to try and be pleasant. Nice. Maybe people will be nice back?!!? Maybe people will see my aura of niceness and give up their seats on the train, or let me take a left in front of them! Or maybe nothing will happen - but deep down inside I'll know that I was a better version of me. Let's see how far I can make it!

Happy Friday y'all.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Yup. Another Blog.

To the two people who read this blog ;)
I've decided to keep most of the wedding junk off this page - why?
Because this is my security blanket, where I can rant about coworkers, strangers, and emotions. Where I can write dumb posts about how I like birds and nature, or how I hate riding the T. It's more fun without wedding in the way.

Because I am planning our wedding (yes, I just used "I" and "our" because we all KNOW)
I am reviving an old wordpress blog I started after our engagement. I wanted a place to guiltlessly blog about all things wedding. If all things wedding bug you, feel free to avoid, but if you are the teeniest, tiniest bit curious, check me out here:

mad love fo' ev

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Oh Come ON NOW!

Yes, it's snowing again.

Actually, it's quite lovely: medium sized flakes, streaking across my window, upper left corner to lower right. Though seriously? I am a bit tired of it all...

My boss told me I could leave early last Wednesday in preparation for the snow that never came. We all ridiculed the meteorologists and local reporters for playing up a storm that failed to live up to it's snowpocalyptic predictions, and now, we New Englanders are complacent a sh*t. I saw the snow this morning and thought "eh. It's nothing." Now I would really like to be home.

Of course this might have to do with the fact that I am tired. I had a very restful, very lovely weekend, filled with the fiance, food, and the Olympics. It was glorious. But then I came home and had to fix my closet, which turned out to be nice because I got to redo it entirely - but after a 4 hour plus car ride, it's was very tiresome. Oh, and I think my car needs a new muffler. And just the thought of dealing with more car trouble is exhausting, especially because it will be one of those days where my dad insists on driving me to work, controlling the whole situation, picking me up. I do, I do appreciate it. But dealing with it? Ugh.

It may also have to do with the fact that I downloaded Bright Star from iTunes and spent a glorious two hours wallowing in the beauty of summer in the English countryside. Complete with a mulberry tree and butterflies. If you are looking for a feast for the eyes, watch it.

But then.
THEN there are the ALLERGIES. OK, what the hell am I allergic to in February?? Today's after work mission is picking up a prescription and finding non-drowsy Claritin, because srsly? I can't breathe! I am used to allergy congestion, but this takes one a whole new form. I'm congested to the point where I am gasping for air, like my asthmatic coworker....or a dying fish. It is super-unattractive, nevermind dramatica. I'm not used to the whole "I actually can't breathe" thing. Usually it's just a sniffle situation, but this is full-blown allergic badness. Time to medicate.

Seeing all this snow makes me wish that I were a badass skier or snowboarder - despite my New England roots I am neither, and am pretty sure that I would severely injure myself if I tried to snowboard. True, I survived a single skiing lesson when I was sixteen or so, but to try it now, nearly 12 years later? I am not exactly rushing to the mountain top. Just watching moguls this weekend made my knees hurt. Apparently our Jr. High Youth Group is skiing in a few weeks. I may be in the ski lodge. Knitting.

Oh and speaking of knitting and of things Olympic, I entered Ravelympics. Yes, how stupid can I get, right? The goal is to complete a project, start to finish, between the opening and closing ceremonies in Vancouver. The only rule (ok there are other rules) is that the project has to be new, or untouched for a long while and that you have to 'challenge' yourself. Naturally, being an idiotic overachiever, I choose to resume a long-abandoned difficult project: my sister's made of honor shawl. Here is what it is supposed to look like:

via knitspot @flickr

My version is a big ol' mess right now, but I am hoping that once I get through the first two sections, I will be a knitting machine. Some people on Ravelry claimed to have finished this in like, 9 days. Hopefully I will be as speedy, or at least finish before the end of the Ravelympics so I can feel like I accomplished something. Meh.

What else. Oh yeah. I was so bored at work today I took a color quiz. I am a bright red. I feel that.

You boast incredible willpower and are capable of overcoming obstacles that would normally leave others shaking in their boots. You have a penchant for colorful environments and often impress others with your energetic bursts of energy. Your interests in many areas of life often leave you scattered, but when you focus you can accomplish anything you put your mind to.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Calmer, Nicer, with a Bandaid On It...

Thanks for letting me vent about my issues, LOL. Just in case you thought I was all birds and unicorns and Africa and sh*t. I have my problems too, but that little issue, it's better, and blogging it out, helped a bit. Mind you, not all the elements are fixed, but the most important ones are, thank goodness. So I'm calm today. Feeling serene. And craving a red velvet cupcake for some reason.

So since that's out of the way, and it's already February, I thought I'd do a little book review, the Top Fiction and Non-Fiction of 2009.

Here goes (in no particular order)

A Guide to the Birds of East Africa - a novel by Nicholas Drayson
If it takes place in Kenya, I am mostly likely going to eat it up, so I am biased. If it has birds as a main theme, I am going to eat it up. Kenyan birds and a sweet story about two aging men competing for a date with Rose Mbikwa by having a bird competition? Fantastic. It was a quick and pleasant read, it brought back a TON of fond birding memories, and I loved every second of it. Thanks for giving it to me, Rach!

The Coral Thief by Rebecca Stott
This was a very entertaining read, taking place in post-Napoleonic France. There were a lot of botany/ecological specimen references as the work is narrated by a young Englishman, fresh out of medical school, and pretty damn naive. He gets wrapped up in a plot with a famous female thief and the police inspector who wants to take her down. Tangled web, mystery, cat and mouse game ensues, etc. And Napolean is in it too, on his way to exile.

The Neighbor by Lisa Gardner
Fun read. Takes place in Boston, is very mysterious and has a twist at the end. Great great great summer/pool/beach/vacation read. I'll probably read some more of her books this year when I'm looknig for something fun.

The Russian Concubine
and The Girl from Junchow by Kate Furnivall
I totes got sucked into these. Loved the historical fiction (though it's probably riddled with flaws that I am too dumb/oblivious to to detect, which I have learned from partaking in book club for the last five years. BUT THAT'S OK!!) I love love the scrappiness of Lydia and her fight to survive...then there's her illicit affair with Chang An Lo....hells yes, I loved every second and stayed up all night to finish The Girl from Junchow. I just hope there's more to come!

The Help by Kathryn Stockett
The best book I read in 2009, hands down. It's hard to believe that this is Stockett's debut novel, it's so well-written and cohesive and the characters are fantastically developed. I found it hard to put down and the story riveting - revolving around black maids in Mississippi (the "help") in the 1960's, and how the white children they basically raise grow up to be just as overbearing and racist as their parents. I admired the main character, "Skeeter" Phelan, who boldy decides to write a tell-all book about the life of a black maid, for her determination to bring awareness and incite change in the community, as well as the maids who bravely step forward to help with her project. I hope that if I had been born in a different time and different place, I would've been a Skeeter Phelan...

Eclipse by Stephanie Meyers
Yes yes I know that the Twilight series is poorly-written (in my opinion) and that the teen craze is more than a little nauseating. I also know that the Twilight series was freakin' CANDY for my brain, amazing, delicious candy. I was so into this book that I almost missed my train stop. It was pure, delightful entertainment, and I love that I barely needed my brain to read this, LOL. It was also the first book where Bella wasn't an insipid little beast, full of whining pathos. If you haven't read these and want to, I suggest seeing the movies first - Kristen Stewart makes Bella likeable, and it's easier to read the first two books thinking of likeable K-Stew, rather than annoying written-page Bella.

Olive Kittredge by Elizabeth Strout
Normally I try and avoid short stories because they irritate me (I don't know why, they just do). This was a great collection of interwoven stories set in Crosby (woot woot) Maine. Olive is a mean ol' lady.....and I love her for it. She is totally cranky and grating, but that's what makes Olive, Olive. I hope when I'm old, I'm a lot like her!

Tethered by Amy MacKinnon
Ok. This book was freaky as HELL. It's about an undertaker, and it took a lot for me to stick with it because there are a lot of work details in there....draining things and sewing things (and by "things" I mean "dead bodies" ew ew ew scary freaky). It also involves solving the murder of "Precious Doe," an unidentified child and murder victim that came through the funeral home. The book is set south of Boston, which made it additionally entertaining, but also disturbing - the imagination didn't have to take such a big leap to envisions certain things happening in the communities mentioned...


A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway
It made me like Ernest Hemingway. Which was kind of surprising.

by Dave Cullen
Best non-fiction of 2009. This book is gets down to the root of what happened before, during and after Columbine. It's sad, it's disturbing, it's terrifying, but it's real and it's true. There's nothing I like better than the cold hard facts and this book delivers them.

Life List by Olivia Gentile
This is a fantastic biography of Phoebe Snetsinger, an amateur birder, who at the time of her death (and maybe now, still?) had more birds on her life list than any other person in the world. It really illustrates the fine line between passion and obsession (Phoebe missed her mother's funeral because she refused to cut a birding expedition short), Gentile delivers the details in a non-judgmental way, leaving the reader to form his/her own opinions.

A Pearl in the Storm
: How I Found my Heart in the Middle of the Ocean by Tori Murden
Now I'm a Smith alumna, so naturally I am going to favor my fellow alumnae (ok maybe not, after all, do you see Commencement on this list??!) - Tori Murden's account of her solo row across the Atlantic was riveting. One of those "strength of the human spirit" books.

The Wordy Shipmates by Sarah Vowell
I hated this book...or rather, hated the author's tone. She was judging the Puritans, she mocked the Massachusetts Bay Colony! Sure, I'm only a third-generation American on both maternal and paternal sides, but HELL I am a New Englander, moreover I am from Massa-f*cking-chusetts, where we are proud of our history and our founding fathers/mothers dammit! Stop mocking John Winthrop! Do not make fun of the Merrymount folk! Luckily I went to an author's talk at the BPL to hear what she had to say (and I was all 'you're at the BOSTON PUBLIC LIBRARY Sarah Vowell, how do you feel now? Do you feel the SPIRITS of the Mass Bay Colony hanging over your head, cursing you for your mockery! To the STOCKS!) Then I realized Vowell wrote the book from an entirely different perspective. She sees the link between current-day America/ns and the Puritans...and totally identifies the hardship facing the colonists. While Vowell is funny about a lot of things, she forces the reader (or maybe just me) to put a little more thought into our Puritanical roots...

Wildflower: And Extraordinary Life and Untimely Death in Africa by Mark Seal
This book. So tragic. It's sad because it really captures an ugly side of Kenya. I love to focus on the vibrant people, the parks, the animals, rather than the problems that completely plague the country: pollution, corruption, murder. Joan Root was a wildlife filmmaker turned conservationist, working to stop the illegal activities (fishing, draining, etc) around Lake Naivasha (my most favorite place in Kenya). She was found shot to death on her estate on the shores of Naivasha, some calling it simple robbery, others, a contract killing for her conservation efforts. I think the peak of Joan Root's influence in Kenya had not yet been felt, and that's the true tragedy of it all.

Tell Me Where It Hurts by Nick Trout
Written by a vet from Angell Memorial in JP. A great read for any animal lover, full of funny and heartwarming anecdotes. Yes, animals have souls and emotions, people. Duh.

Central Park in the Dark by Marie Winn
I had no idea what kind of things went on after hours in Central Park....well not of the animal-variety at least. This book chronicles the lives of Central Park's animal inhabitants: moths, owls, birds, butterflies, etc. Great fun.

What I want to read in 2010:

Usually I pick someone's list and try to read "literature." It has served me well in the past, and without Oprah's list, I never would've read something like A Moveable Feast. This year, however, I'm taking it easy. I've just finished re-reading and reading the Jade del Cameron series. God, I freakin' love it. It's set, of course, in 1920's Kenya, and our heroine, Jade del Cameron, is an American WWI ambulance driver now working for a travel magazine, having wild adventures wherever she goes. Sure 1920's Kenya's colonial set is notorious, but Jade is all the more loveable for rejecting British society for her motorcycle, pet cheetah, the darkroom on her friend Beverly's estate, and Sam Featherstone, the dashing war vet/pilot with wooden leg. YES! It sounds ridiculous when I write it here, but oh, the fun of it all. I adore the adventure, I adore Jade - hell, I want to BE JADE! She's very Emma Fitzgerald in The Heat of the Sun - actually, they're probably friends ;) I finished the fifth in the series today on the train and was shocked with a cliffhanger ending - surprise surprise - and was seized with panic that the author, Suzanne Arruda, had chosen to end her series that way. NOOO! I was relieved to find, after a visit to her website, that I only have to wait until fall for more. Umm maybe it'll be out in time for the honeymoon?!! Or maybe it's best if it isn't, Jam might resent the attention I give Jade and her friends, i.e. be annoyed when I don't come out of our hotel room because my nose is buried in a book.

Anyways, during my book research, I discovered that amazon had some recommendations for me (the whole "people who liked "The Leopard's Prey" also bought, blah blah blah" section). Um WELL apparently there are tons of lady detective-ish books set in the 1920's, just waiting for me to read! BRILLIANT! I put my name in for a few at the library, and plan to spend the next couple of months being delighted by independent-minded ladies. I'm suddenly excited to hit the library again...I haven't been there since 2009, lol, 'too busy' or 'too tired.' Now I can't wait! YAY FOR BOOKS!

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Split Knuckle

And then I punched my Ethan Allen hardwood desk, because I knew I could hit it without breaking it (thank God I never downgraded to Ikea) and I had already shattered my bluetooth against my bedroom wall (I mostly fixed it).

1. because I am an a$$hole
2. because I was totally misunderstood and couldn't effing articulate it without exploding
3. because I am still mad about something that happened in December/January
4. because I was mad about being misunderstood
5. because between hating my job 60% of the time, the wedding planning, the money problems, the living at home still, my pending review for which I had not completed my self-evaluation and the lateness of the hour, I was stressed times a million
6. because I wished some people had followed through. and that others had been up front with me
7. because I regretted bringing it up
8. because men see things/issues in very clearly defined literal terms and women are about feelings and they don't translate well it seems
9. because no matter what it comes down to, I still feel like a jerk, even though I didn't mean what I said how I said it
10. because even after crying and throwing my bluetooth, I still had this pain/empty/hollow/stinging feeling and it wouldn't go away. So I punched my desk as hard as I could, hoping I wouldn't break my hand, have to drive myself to the ER at midnight and have to explain that I punched something because I have a bad temper and spend half the night reassuring a social worker that I was OK, things at home were fine, blah blah. I didn't break my hand, I just f*cked it up bad enough that it really really really hurt. And you know what? It felt really f*cking good to be able to point to it and say "THAT. That is what hurts. Nothing else."

But now it's infected. And it didn't really solve anything. And now I just feel hollow again, but can't punch hard enough with my left to get that competing stimuli to drown out the sad. So I'm going to try to not do that again. And I'm going to try and not be a jerk, but I will probably fail, because sometimes, I suck like that. Ugh.

Maybe something nice tomorrow. Maybe.

Monday, February 01, 2010

Revisiting A Goal

I haven't blogged in forever. Which is seriously how I start all my posts. Ha.

I actually have wedding things to talk about, but later. I'm kind of over them right at the moment because Jamaal and I spent the weekend scoping out wedding stuff - the reception venue, hotel, church, etc. Good stuff. Well I liked it. Jamaal just sort of hung out, and if he was cold/bored/etc, told me when it was time to go. Ah men.

Anyway, I was reading someone's blog and they had this sort of bucket list thing on there, with a 101 things they wanted to do in 1,001 days. Well I am not there yet, but I did make a list last year of 27 things I wanted to do before turning 28. Twenty-eight is about 10 or so weeks away, so I thought "sh*t, I'd better look at my list to make sure I can get something done." Yeah yeah I know, I've read the literature about how women these days try to be their own personal superwoman and stress themselves out with lists and trying to be perfect, BLAH BLAH BLAH...honestly though? Nearly completing this list would give me a sense of damn accomplishment, something that's missing from my life right about now, as projects pile up, wedding planning slips from my once-firm grasp into the oblivion of in-completion, and my work life remains dull and somewhat here's last years list, with notes:

27 Things I Want to Do Before I'm 28:

1. Go somewhere new and somewhat faraway: Nope. Unless you count Middletown, NY as exotic. Oh well. There is the honeymoon, so that is ok.
2. Make a superfluous and ridiculous cake for no reason: surprisingly enough, I haven't done this
3. Finish my running excel file bird life list (uber DORK!): nooope.
4. Make a blurb photo book: YES! YES I made two! And they turned out so wonderfully that I know I will be making more this year!
5. Run the Boston Marathon*: No, and not going to happen, but I am ok with this since it was a suspected but unconfirmed stress fracture that sidelined me.
6. Take more photos of everything, especially people I am giving myself this one, especially since I even bought a new point and shoot for a wedding Jam and I attended. Here's a sampling:

Christmas Joy:

Sis in front of Town Hall on random Sunday:

My dad kayaking:

The Jamonster, kayaking:

My mom, watching the storm go out over the mountains:
Mom Watching the Weather

You get the idea. I tried. :)

7. Become insanely and enviously organized. Hell no. Not *yet* I have some hope though.
8. Finish a long-abandoned craft project (under the sea cross stitch? sr year calligraphy project?) No. I am close though, with scanning Kenya pics. But I did make this, surely it must be worth some sort of abandoned craft project credit, yes?



9. FTDS and move in with Jamaal, opinions and judgments be damned OK I bolded this, not because it has happened, but because the opinions and judgments surrounding the move at this point, I think, are gone. PLUS the only reason we haven't taken the leap of living together has been his job situation. So it's not done...but it kind of is/will be. Kind of cheating, yes, but you get it.
10. Memorize a poem. Or two. No. I'll try.
11. Set the bar higher at work- I'm not organized, I'm not putting in 100%, and that makes me sad. I am getting there. It's slow. I am going to be moving offices and will try to get more organized. I am putting in about 85% effort, sometimes, on certain projects, 100%. I am a co-author on two published abstracts, soon to be papers, which is a huge milestone. I'm getting there, I haven't arrived, but I have set the bar higher.
13. Spend more quality time with Jamaal. We hardly have any down time or time to do fun things beyond go out to dinner. I want to do fun stuff for a change (not that food isn't fun, but you know). I want to do photo-worthy things. We're not totally at the photo-worthy point again, but we're trying! Jam finally completing his MBA has helped immensely!
14. See a Red Sox game LIVE (bonus points for a stadium other than Fenway!) No. Sad.
15. Skip work, even if just for a day, to do something furtive and fun, like go to the beach. ooooh the indulgence! No. Because I am a kiss ass.
16. Have the wedding planned out almost to completion so I enjoy the day Not here yet. Working on it. I think I will be able to reasonably bold this by my bday.
17. Take advantage of what Boston has to offer (restaurants, museums, shows etc) hmmff. not really. sad.
18. Help more people and animals. I donate platelets and all, but it's kind of removed from the situation. Uh...I sent money to Haiti...
19. Bird watch more - see five new species! (neeerrrddd alert) OK, haven't birdwatched a ton or anything, but I saw a f*cking ALLEN'S HUMMINGBIRD in Massachusetts in DECEMEBER. SOO hells yeah, I'm bolding this.
20. Take better care of my skin (beyond sunscreen, I don't do much of anything) If I have rocked anything on this list, it is skin care. Oh sh*t yeah. I have a damn regimen! I have been getting quarterly facials, and had the aesthetician analyze my products, make recommendations, etc. I am rocking sephora products and moisturizing twice a day, with sunscreen in the am and repair serum at night. I exfoliate any non-face skin with a sugar scrub and moisturize with Fresh lotion or some sweet St. Ives Target-style lotion. Is it sad that this has been my biggest accomplishment of the year? Part of me says "YES" but then this other part says "no, not at all. you'll never get a new skin and you have to live with the one you have forever, you may as well take good care of it and treat it with care." So there it is.
21. Chillax more. I am overbooked always, and feel guilty when I don't want to go to something, but have nothing to do otherwise. Have to stop feeling guilty too. I bolded this. Though I'm not sure I should have. eh.
22. Conquer a fear (this will be the hardest thing on the list!) Nope. At least I don't think so.
23. Reduce that knitting stash! Nope.
24. Visit the Mapparium Nope.
25. Reconnect with someone :) Yes.
26. Spend more time in my kayak taking in the world. It's been great, too.
27. Make a five-course dinner for me and Jamaal. I don't even know what those five courses would be really, but it's the kind of thing you hear in movies, and I'm gonna do it! Nooo. Maybe for Valentine's Day?

Oh lordy, not even half. I'm am going to "GET THERE." I'll report back on my bday!