Tuesday, November 30, 2010

No Christmas Spirit

I had an entry all written to post tonight when I got home. I wrote it during nap at work, but I had to wake the ids up before I could post it. It’s all about how perception and how I look at myself. I’m sure I’ll post in a few days when I’m nice and calm and rational again. But for now, I’m going to write this one…
I hate Christmas. I never used to. I’m one of those people who just barely gets through Thanksgiving anticipating Christmas. I usually shop on Black Friday. I put my tree up before the weekend is over. This year, like many others, I had presents wrapped and under the tree before Monday. I’m not sure what went wrong this year.
I could say it started Friday. I was a little down because I couldn’t go Black Friday shopping since I was completely broke (should have waited to buy a car until after the holidays!). But, instead I had Nataly over. Mandy and I made plans weeks ago for me to have special Aunt Tina and Naty only time while she was at work and Steve was supposed to have the kids. That day was the first day that I snapped this holiday season. First Steve called me to tell me Naty didn’t want to come with me, but when I talked to her she said she was excited to have our special time. I went to get her and Steve said, “It’s freezing here. Nick and I are coming with you.” I told him no because then Naty and I don’t have our alone time. He yelled a bit more and I told him he could come if he was going to entertain Nick and keep him away from Naty and I. Then he got mad at me and said if I was going to have an attitude about it. When I got her to my house, we started pulling out my special ornaments, the ones that mean something to me. Nataly asked about them and we talked. I pulled out the one that says “Baby’s First Christmas, 1982” and asked her who she thought had their first Christmas in 1982. She thought for a second before very proudly claiming “Jesus!”. Once the tree was up, we watched Christmas movies for awhile (Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, and Frosty the Snowman). Then we wrapped the presents that I had already bought before her mom picked her up. Overall, it was a good day. Hopefully that’s how Nataly will remember it, if she remembers it at all.

After work I went grocery shopping. While I was shopping I picked up (and put back) Christmas presents for the kids. I also had to buy new Advent candles because three of mine wouldn’t light today. I spent literally hours looking for purple and pink candles and never found them. Instead I bought a five candle candelabra with the intention of tying ribbon in the appropriate places. When I got home I started working on it, but then I found it.
Neelix (the dog) has been plucking ornaments off the tree since I put it up. What I found was the first one he had destroyed. It had been made for me by a now deceased friend out of terra cotta balls and a mini planter- it was a snowman that meant a lot to me. Now it’s in the garbage. I FLIPPED out and started screaming at the dog. I wound up angrily putting all of my Christmas decorations away so nothing else could get destroyed. Mom had previously pulled all the hangers off a bunch of cheap ball ornaments I had for very basic decorations because Nick tried to eat them and she had promised to fix them for me. Instead they had sat there for three days, in the place she puts stuff she wants me to put away. I asked her if she was going to fix them or if I should throw them away and she got mad at me and told me to throw them away if I was going to have an attitude. So I did. Then I put away all my ornaments and brewed a pot of tea to relax myself.
I feel better now that I’ve written all of this, but I have literally no Christmas spirit left. It’s all drained away from me in a blur of rage and sorrow.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Cremain Thief

A few months ago my friend’s uncle passed away and was cremated. The other day her aunt called her in tears. She went into the closet where the ashes were kept to scatter some of them per her husband’s wishes, only to find them missing. Her house had been broken into a few weeks ago and the thieves apparently stole the cremains.
I know that sounds like a terrible story, but really…think that through. How dumb were those thieves to steal a medium sized white plastic bag with the words “Funeral Remains” written in black letters on it? What did they think that grey dusty material was? More importantly, did they smoke it or otherwise try to use the remains to get high only to find themselves coughing up dust? Also if they ingested the cremains, are they now either cannibals or zombies?

Thursday, November 25, 2010

What I'm Thankful For This Year

It is officially Thanksgiving. Also, I just got back from a late dinner with a friend from high school during which we really talked about some serious topics, which I will go into a bit later. The two things combined have really made me reflect on my life and now I want to write about the things I’m most thankful for.

  1. I'm thankful that we can change, who we are is never set in stone. Pretty much the thing I’m most thankful for is that I am not the same person I was ten years ago, or even five.
    Ten years ago I graduated high school. Now, I can look back, and I can remember some good times. However, in general I was miserable. I pretty much had one friend and she abandoned me whenever she had a boyfriend. People made fun of me and teased me for being a lesbian (which I am not). I didn’t fit in with choir (where I sang anywhere from soprano to tenor, but nothing very well). I didn’t fit in with the theatre kids because I worked backstage where it was my JOB to blend in and go unnoticed. I didn’t fit in with any of the writing cliques because while I took the classes I was too shy to let others read my writing. I sucked at math and science but cared about my grades so I didn’t fit in with either the smart kids or the kids who didn’t care about grades. I was socially inept and generally uncomfortable with who I was.
    Today while I can still see some my old behaviors, I am much more confident in who I am. Part of the trouble in high school was how clear it was that I had a crush on a certain boy. I wasn’t very subtle in how I expressed myself. He was friends with a girl I sometimes talked to, and I would go hang out at her lunch table just so I could check him out and pretty much ignore the girl was pretending to be talking to. I made my friend pose for pics in front of him and cut her out so I could get a pic of him. It was ridiculous. I still can’t keep a secret (especially at Christmas, I get to excited about the “perfect gift” I’ve bought and can’t resist dropping unsubtle hints), but at least I can be a little more subtle about crushes.
    Five years ago my best friend (the same one from high school) admitted to me that she basically used me as a scapegoat, that I was someone to yell at anytime she was angry at someone else. And instead of standing up for myself I let her get away with it because I was still so shy I didn’t really have any other friends. Eventually I grew a spine and wouldn’t let her treat me like that anymore. That combined with some other stuff was the last straw for her and we had it out weeks before her wedding and haven’t spoken since.
    Today I still don’t make friends easily, but I do have a small group of friends that I can be myself around. None of them would even consider scapegoating another adult and I generally wouldn’t let anyone treat me like that anymore.
    I hope that I will continue to grow and become more the person I want to be and I’m thankful that I have that chance.
  2. I’m also thankful that I have good friends. My family isn’t close and I’m truly thankful that I have a wide support system of people who are like family to me. My best friend’s family welcomes me with open arms at most holidays (actually…I think at all holidays). Without my friends I wouldn’t be the person that I am today and I like who I am. Without the group of friends I now surround myself with, I would never have grown that spine I mentioned before. I would still be the shy, awkward girl with no opinion instead of a fairly outspoken woman who knows what I want and don’t apologize when it’s not what others expect.
  3. I’m thankful for the opportunities that I’ve had. I was able to walk away from a good job and study full time for an entire year, which very few adults are able to do, and as a result I graduated college. I know that while I had to work hard for that, without my father I would never have had that opportunity. Even in this economy I still have a good job, and not just any job I have a job I love and was just promoted to an even better position. I was able to buy a nice car and I have a solid home to live in. So even when I complain about these things, I need to remember that these are still good things that I need to be thankful for.

There are many other things I'm thankful for, but those are the top three. What are you thankful for?

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Lauren Willig Book Signing

So I told you about going to Chicago the other day for a book signing- Remember the Creepy Train Guy (I think I should start tagging those entries "creepy guy")? That was so long I didn’t get a chance to tell you about why I was actually in Chicago.
One of my favorite living authors is named Lauren Willig. She writes spoofs of Baroness Orczy’s League of the Scarlett Pimpernel books, that are sort of sequels with a modern frame story. They are FANTASTIC and you should totally read them. Actually I’m going to post y review of her first book here in a few days just so you can see how much I liked them. Anyway…
I had met her once before about a year and half ago, and this is how cool she is. She was at a conference and she thought that the book signing portion of the day was open to everyone not just conference attendees, which turned out to be not true. So she spent her scheduled break in a hotel lobby hanging out with fans, signing books (and since there were only like six of us giving us amazing spoilers!) So when I found out she would be in Chicago again, I promptly took the day off so I could go see her again.
It was great, there were way more of us this time, so it was less intimate, but still very cool. She read us an intro to her new book that the publisher made her take out (because they thought it sounded to serious, but none of us thought it was at all serious, so…), she answered questions, and gave us a few minor spoilers then she signed books. So now all of my copies of her books are signed, and I got another Christmas present checked off my list.
Afterwards Kristin and I went to dinner at the restaurant we’d been planning on going to BEFORE but were unable to since I missed my train. The food was AMAZING and the prices were absotlutely astonishing (in the good way). As in we split a carafe of Sangria (wine and brandy poured over ice and fruit), Kristin had linguine and clams, I had wild boar ragu (yes you read that correctly, I ate boar for dinner), and we split chocolate fondue for dessert. Mind you this was all at a restaurant in downtown Chicago (on State St) that was so nice, there was a bathroom attendant. Our total bill (not including tip) was only $45!!
Now enjoy the pictures I took that night (I’m the one in the black and white cityscape tee, Kristin is in blue lace, and Lauren Willis is in the amazing red dress.

Nectar In A Sieve

Nectar in a Sieve (Signet Classics)Nectar in a Sieve by Kamala Markandaya

I found this book to be moving and lyrical, sorrowful and yet hopeful. However, I think to fully appreciate the book the American reader to place it in historical context first. Rukmani marries Nathan in 1930’s rural India. This is a time and place where there is no such thing as adolescence. The poverty stricken Indian people have to make choices that provide the highest chance of survival to the highest number of people. So, when Rukmani’s parents contract her marriage when she is only twelve years old, the American reader has to understand that not only is this an acceptable age in that culture for a woman (and she is considered a woman by her culture) to be married, her parents are really trying to ensure their own survival (one less mouth to feed at home) and hers (she is the mistress of her own home and although her husband is a landless farmer, she will likely not starve).

Nectar In A Sieve moves through the rest of Rukmani’s life. She sees her family’s prospects grow as Nathan saves money hoping to buy the land he farms, and dwindle as a tannery opens in her town artificially raising prices and destroying the farm land. Eventually her daughter is forced to prostitution to feed her youngest son, who still dies of starvation and they are kicked off the land they’ve farmed for thirty years. Nearly all of their sons are lost to them either through death, because they’ve taken jobs in Ceylon, or through simple vanishing acts. Every day is a struggle, and it’s hard for an American to grasp situations where a family is stretching one meal of rice water to last three days. And yet, Rukmani never gives up. Even after Nathan has joined the dead while they in a distant city far from home, she doesn’t give up. Instead she adopts a leper boy (and saves his life by doing so) and returns home.

This is a novel about hope, the hope that is necessary for people to strive for a better, more secure life, achieved only through gainful employment and a stable income in a capitalist world. Where these opportunities don't exist, or barely exist, you will have thousands of Rukmanis, and Nathans begging in your towns and cities. And thankfully, there will be other "Kamala Markandayas" to document their stories for those who are willing to open their eyes to the world around them.

View all my reviews

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Creepy Train Guy

Tuesday afternoon I got off work at one so I could do my week’s grocery shopping, change clothes, and catch the train to Chicago for my book signing. I left for the train in plenty of time and SHOULD have made it well before the train arrived. Instead, I got stuck on the wrong side of the train station as the train pulled up, stuck behind the train crossing thing. I called Kristin who was supposed to be meeting me, to tell her that I wasn’t going to make that train so she wouldn’t get on (there was another train that would get us there in time). She didn’t answer, and I left her a voicemail telling her not to get on the train. A few seconds later she called me back and asked where I was because she had gotten on the train JUST as it pulled away and she wanted to find me. We agreed that she would continue on and I would catch the next train. We would just meet at the Newberry where the book signing was going to be held.
I didn’t leave the train station, since I didn’t really have that much time before the next train. Instead I sat in my new car and read until it was almost time for the train to arrive. At first my train ride was fairly normal. I sat on the second level, where I always sit when I’m alone. I put in my earbuds to listen to a comedy program and enjoy my ride. Except…there was this guy. He had checked me out at the station while we were standing around waiting for the train, but since I was in my cute going out clothes, I was flattered not worried. However, the guy followed me and sat upstairs but on the opposite side from me. Still, not creepy enough for this to be a story about a creepy guy on a train. No, what makes this a creepy guy story is what happened next. I was sitting there, listening to my music when I noticed Creepy guy’s (CG) reflection. Staring at me.
I didn’t say anything, I didn’t look at him, I just turned the music up and kept an eye on him via the reflection. He never looked away. He just kept looking at me. All the way from Elgin to Galewood. According to Metra, it’s a trip of 54 minutes. Fifty four minutes CG just watched. Can you even imagine??? Anyway, just after the train pulled out from Galewood, CG got down from sitting across from me. I pulled out an earbud so I could be more attuned to what he was doing. People, we was moving across the train to sit by me!
Since we were nowhere near a station and I was pretty well stranded, I thought quickly. I was dressed up, in fancy jewelry and everything. I slipped my big fancy ring from my right hand onto my left and put my earbud back in before he made it up the stairs and sat down two seats away from me (the seat right by me was full of my purse and bookbag). The problem was, my MP3 player died right then. And since it was clipped to my coat, he saw it turn off. And he started talking to me. I’m not great with confrontation, and I can’t tell a guy to take a hike, so I did the next best thing. I flashed my shiny ring and fidgeted with it hoping he’d take the message. He did not.
His opening gambit was “I like you.” Uh…no you don’t buddy. You think I’m hot and you want to know if I will sleep with you. HUGE difference. I tell him that’s very nice, chuckle and open my book. He asks if I have kids. I tell him no, and that I don’t want any. “You don’t mean that,” he says, “You’d make such pretty babies. Especially mixed babies.” Uh…Creepy Guy, get the heck away from me! He’s quiet for awhile before he tries to talk to me again, just about random stuff. So I chat politely for a minute, really ramping up the fidgeting with my ring. Then I ask him “Do you like my new ring? My boyfriend, oops I mean fiancée just gave it to me this weekend.” Even after that he still told me he “likes” me two more times, and asked for my number just as we pulled into Union Station. I told him that my fiancée wouldn’t like it if I gave my number to a random guy on a train, and he literally asked me “Why? What would happen? Would you fight? Would you still be together?” I’m not even kidding from there he told me I should break up with my fiancée so he could call me. I told him I loved my fiancée and got off the train.
People, he followed me! I literally had to go into the ladies room to loss him! Even then, when I came out of the washroom he was waiting for me. I slipped out so he wouldn’t notice me and then practically ran to the cabs out front just to lose him. It was RIDICULOUS!
Next time I write, I’ll tell you about the actual book signing, and share some cool pics.

Monday, November 15, 2010

And the Winner Is...

...The shiny “new” 2011 Ford Focus! I put new in quote marks because it has 3,000 miles on it because it’s been a loaner for a dealer for a few months. But I don’t mind because they knocked like $1,000 off the price for me over it. Also, the dealer is a liar. He specifically told me that the Sync system was standard in all Ford’s and it was what tipped me over to the Ford. Then when I got there and we were talking about my specific car, it doesn’t have the Sync system because it’s the base model. But, whatever, I just wanted to be done and I’m very happy with my choice.
Tomorrow…A book signing with one of my favorite contemporary authors in Chicago :)

Sunday, November 14, 2010

New Car Drama

Okay internet, I told you I’d tell you more about the car thing when I knew more. So let me tell you what’s going on…
To recap, I had dealt with a few rude dealers and not found anything I liked until I stopped to look at the Ford Fiesta. I couldn’t get the Fiesta, but I was kind of done car shopping and I could get financed in theory for the 2011 Ford Focus, which is ubiquitous but not horrible. In practice, I needed to give them a partial down payment ($200) before they would get the financing done because I don’t have a co-signer and they “had to call in some favors” to get it done. So I gave them $200 (fully refundable) and asked when we would know for sure. Two days later they had finally called me back and let me know that they had it worked out. In the meantime, I had found a new car that I LOVED, the 2011 Mazda2. When I saw it online, it seemed perfect. When I saw it in person, my heart literally skipped a beat. It felt so right when I test drove it. But it was late, and they couldn’t even deal with a bank that night. The next day they called me and told me that they couldn’t do it for me. So I was upset, but prepared to get the Focus, but it still had to wait until my next payday for the other $300. In the meantime, I found another Mazda dealer that advertised that they dealt especially with people with bad credit. I don’t have bad credit exactly, so much as very little credit history. Anyway, they told me they could probably finance me, so I went out there and got some things in motion. I just heard back on Friday that they can finance me for the Mazda2 but “we need to discuss some things”, I don’t really know what that means, but now I’m flustered. Tomorrow, one way or the other, I’m buying a new car and I don’t know where to go, so here’s my pro/con list for each car…


  1. Bright green=super pretty
  2. Mazda has a great reputation
  3. It felt so right when I drove it
  4. Unique/European styling- it's not the same as every other car on the road


  1. Almost no features/options- it will route MP3 player through the radio but that's it
  2. Back seat is not comfy/spacious (I feel I shouldn't have to concern myself with kid comfort since I don't have kids, but because of how often I watch Nick and Naty, I do)
  3. No former US model to refer to- it might have bugs we don't know about since there's no history
  4. Not very powerful
  5. low MPG for it's size (subcompact) (29/35)
  6. slightly more expensive


  1. Blue which is my favorite color
  2. Ford's Sync System (Bluetooth, will run calls through the radio for a hands free system, plays music from MP3 player radio adjustments on the steering wheel, ambient lighting [this is cool, colored lights at the feet that you can change depending on your mood])
  3. Back seat is more spacious/comfy (see above)
  4. It's a Focus, it's been around long enough that I know what problems I'm likely to run into with it
  5. Slightly cheaper than the Mazda


  1. Ford doesn't have a great reputation, and the Focus especially has had terrible years in the past, although the reviews have been universally fair to good since 06
  2. STILL haven't test driven it due to dealer issues
  3. Ubiquitous
  4. MPG is lower than the Mazda (25/35) but average for the size of the car

Hmmm… I thought that writing it out like that would help me make a decision, but it didn’t. I love the Mazda, but I’d be giving up some pretty neat stuff with it. I do really like the Sync system but I certainly don’t need it.
If I could wait a year to get a new car, the 2012 Mazda2 is supposed to have a much higher MPG rating and a potential for a “speed” version with more power. Buying a car is hard people!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

This week I...

This week, I…
…wanted to call in sick to work almost every day, but decided not to because I don’t get sick pay until I’ve been full time for a consecutive year. Which means that since I wasn’t full time from the September 3 to September 27 I have to wait until September, even though I was full time from June 4 to September 3.
…STILL did not buy a car. But only because I was waiting to hear about the car I really wanted. Which I finally did, and I might be buying that car on Monday. Otherwise I’ll buy a different car on Tuesday. Either way, I guess we know what I’ll be blogging about early next week!
…had to blow off my best friend for a trip to the zoo (and Christmas shopping), a party with high school friends, and a work party so I could babysit for my SIL while my brother slept (he works nights). Then when I got there, he went out.
…informed my SIL that I will be unavailable for ANY babysitting the weekend of Thanksgiving, most of January, and from May 30 through July 6. This is only partly related to the above item, and partly to things like my friend’s wedding.
…argued in favor of a guy taking a child bride. To be fair, it was in an historical novel in which a girl was married to her husband when she was twelve, but in a time (1940s) and place (rural India) where that was the norm.
Next week I’m looking forward to hanging out with my friend Sarah and reading my next book club book which is about Cholera and death-woo-hoo but at least no children will be getting married!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Hockey kicks baseball's butt!

I’m not going to say anything about my car search just yet. I’ll let you know stuff once it’s set for sure. However, I do have some things to say about the weekend.
This weekend was AWESOME!! Kristin and I went out to Rockford where Jamie’s fiancée lives. From there we stopped first at David’s Bridal to look for a wedding dress. Jamie bought the second one she tried on and it was perfect. I have pictures, but I’m not sure if I’m allowed to share them here. So…no photos will be posted unless I’m told otherwise.
After that we went Christmas shopping and I got several people knocked off my list. Then we went to an Ice Hogs game (minor league hockey). I love hockey, but I hadn’t been to a game since my dad died because he was always the one who took me. We crammed five people in Chris’ Focus and headed to the game, parked, and then were informed that no one really knew where we going, so for the fourth once again we busted out something we nearly always say when we go to Rockford “Follow those people!” Good thing people in Rockford are pretty nice or we would have been drowned in the Rock River years ago! So we get to the game and I’m sitting there screaming my head off cheering and cursing and basically acting like any sports fan who’s really into the game and I think Kristin was quite surprised by my behavior. Not that it was out of line, but she just didn’t realize how much I like hockey, and had never seen me like that because she’s only seen me at sporting events I didn’t understand. Also, when the players started fighting (dropped sticks=fights) Kristin thought it was poor sportsmanship and couldn’t get into it until I explained that it’s allowed in the rules of the game.
We stayed the night and shopped a bit this morning, but no matter how much fun the whole weekend was, eventually it was time to head home. We got in Kristin’s car and we started off but less than five minutes later her car was bouncing and making a flapping noise. Of course we figured it was a flat tire, but the tires all looked fully inflated. We debated, but decided to go back to Chris’ apartment. Good thing, because as Kristin was calling her dad to ask his opinion, she ran out of cell phone minutes and my phone battery had run out the day before (despite having been fully charged when we left). I tried to get her to write on the note she left for the mechanic “My car is making a noise like ‘flappa flappa flappa clunk’ and bouncing like a lowrider over train tracks” but she didn’t think that would be very instructive :(

Wednesday, November 3, 2010


That's all I have to say for now. Just ARRRRGH!!!!!!!! I'll have more to say when I finally buy a car.

Monday, November 1, 2010


My best friend volunteered to learn how to play whist and then teach it to my Jane Austen Fan Club. Which really meant she volunteered herself, me and two other friends to learn to play whist and then teach it to my Jane Austen Fan Club. Friday we gathered in Kristin’s house to learn the basics of this game. If you don’t know, whist is a card game frequently played in Jane Austen novels involving two teams of two trying to win tricks by playing the card of highest value. I turns out it lots of fun. You know what else is fun? Sitting around, playing whist and listening to our friend John repeatedly put his foot in his mouth. Here are a few of his D’oh moments from Friday night.
John is partnering Kristin and I am partnering John’s girlfriend Jessica. John triumphantly plays the last card, nearly slamming it onto the table and whoots “And the lovers take the trick!” Whereby Kristin nearly dives behind me for protection because uh…she is not in fact John’s lover, but his girlfriend is RIGHT THERE. What none of realized for a tense second is the cards we’re playing with have pictures of Modern European art on them. Including a Picasso called The Lovers. Which is the card John just played.
Later I complimented Kristin on her earrings. John has just seconds ago said (I don’t remember why) that he sometimes wishes he was a girl. And now he responds to my compliment with… “Sometimes I want to poke a hole through my body and hang dangly things from it.”
Uh… John do you want some leftover pizza to get that foot taste out of your mouth?
Anyway, I really enjoyed whist. It might actually be one of my new favorite games! Also, I should not tell anymore John stories because he is a very private man who doesn’t like people knowing things about him.