25 May 2010

Synchronicity

Synchronicity is about the coincidental confluence of events. I've recently (just in the past day or two) started keeping a gratitude journal. I've never been all that great about journaling, no matter how many pretty books I've bought and how many resolutions I've made. However, gratitude is starting to become a practice - when I'm finishing yoga, when I'm having accupuncture, when I'm waiting in the doctor's office - I try to think of a few things for which I'm grateful. I hope, then, that simply writing some of these thoughts down should be a fairly easy transition.

In any case, one of the artists I really like - Hugh McLeod (aka Gapingvoid) sends out a daily cartoon. Today's cartoon is entitled "Thank You" and comes with the explanation that if the only prayer you can make is "Thank You," then that's plenty.

So, I'm saying thank you today - to synchronicity, to my friends, to my family, to having a job with great, smart people, to a wonderful husband, to the smoothies he makes me every day, to yoga, to doctors, to books, to my lovely pink curtains, and to my mom for having them hemmed for me.

What are you thankful for today?

Labels:

19 May 2010

Book Review: Get Lucky by Katherine Center

I sat down tonight to write the long-overdue (glowing, by the way) review of Katherine Center's Get Lucky. I pulled the book off the shelf and noticed the copy of Everyone is Beautiful that I had purchased immediately after finishing Get Lucky (but then I got distracted re-reading The Count of Monte Cristo; what can I say?). So, I pulled that one off the shelf, too, thinking it would be my reward after finishing my review.

Why don't I know better by now?

Apparently there is something about Katherine Center's books that grab me at a visceral level and refuse to let me go until I have slurped up every last touching word (and cried a little while doing so). So it's now about 3 hours later and I've finished Everyone is Beautiful and will now write my review of Get Lucky as my offering of gratitude for being inspired, shamed, comforted, terrified, and reassured.

The novel Get Lucky, is, as Center has said, about many things - sisters, babies, losing and finding yourself, parents, loss, giving, grief, best friends, love, and, of course, breasts. At the start of the novel, the protagonist, Sarah, is a high-powered ad exec in NYC, running a bra campaign. And she goes a little nuts when her sister, Mackie, forwards a link that contains hundreds of pictures of breasts. This crazy manifests in Sarah sending the link to everyone at work, and, unsurprisingly, getting fired for it. She rationalizes it a little, the way you do, and packs up for a Thanksgiving visit home to Houston.

En route, she runs into a high school boyfriend whose heart she'd crushed. She hopes for the kind of reunion we all hope for, years later. Unfortunately, Everett gives her an unexpected jab. We'll meet Everett again - he's also taken a job working with Sarah's brother-in-law.

Upon arrival in Houston, Sarah is greeted with the news that Mackie and her husband, after many trials and tribulations of infertility, have decided to stop trying. Out of her own despair and love and maybe a little desperation to have a reason (after losing the job that filled that role in her life), Sarah decides to be the surrogate for her sister. She thinks it will be a quick, easy gift, after which she will go dashing back to her real life. I've never had kids, but I've watched almost all my friends go through pregnancies and childbirth and even I knew this wasn't going to happen... but I could sympathize with the desire to cling to the comforting belief that it would.

So, Sarah gets pregnant and Mackie is somewhere between a healthy-pregnancy dictator and the saddest person in the world - who has to be both grateful and supportive while her sister goes though the joys and pains of the pregnancy Mackie wishes were her own - such as when her new stepmother (you just have to read it to meet Dixie) throws a baby shower, but none of the guests really pay any attention to Mackie - Sarah is, after all, the one with the belly.

During all this, Sarah discovers a liking for Everett, and the desperate need not to be just a pampered pregnancy. She gets a job trying to save a doomed historic library, which saves her just as certainly.

I'm leaving out so much that is important - Sarah's crazy hormonal...something...for Mackie's husband, the back and forth with Everett and the pool-house renter Barni, J.J. (the boss who'd fired her in New York) and the star (pitiful Veronica/April) of the bra campaign, plus Mackie and Sarah's dad, who'd pretty much just stopped when their mom died and his return to life with the unlikely love of pure-Texas Dixie. It seems like too much to fit into a quick-reading 270ish pages. And yet Center weaves it all together into a completely vivid tapestry that has all the mess and color of real life.

Sarah isn't completely likeable. In fact, none of the characters are. On the other hand, nobody's completely what you expect either. So, we like them anyway. And that means that when Sarah, inevitably, grows a little sadder, and a little happier, and a little more thoughtful, and a little more compassionate through the book, we're all doing the same with her.

Despite sobbing most of the time I was reading the book - so many of my own personal pain was reflected at me by this book - I enjoyed its gentle realism and the hope that it leaves for real people to find happiness in themselves.


Title: Get Lucky
Author: Katherine Center
Obtained from: purchased

Labels:

02 May 2010

Notesgirl in Exile

If you know my other site, Notesgirl.com, you can probably tell it hasn't been updated in a while. I've had some technical difficulties now that I'm no longer active in the Notes world - starting with no legal Notes client and an expired Notes ID file. Ah well.

After spending most of a year unemployed after getting laid off in January 2009, I also didn't have much I wanted to say publicly. Let's see... In a nutshell, and not necessarily in this order: I got married, I struggled mightily with depression, one of my closest friends lived with us for a while and then moved across the country, I applied for more jobs than you can shake a BIG stick at, I moved my mom to Houston, I thought I had a job that got whisked away thanks to more budget cuts, I took a temporary soul-sucking job, I did some contract work, and finally (almost exactly a year later) I took a more permanent job. It's been an eventful while. Not that I can point at any year in my life and say, "Nothing really happened that year - it was completely uneventful."

In any case, I've been thinking a lot about writing lately and hoping that I'm starting to get enough beyond my sadness and frustration that I can start writing again. We'll see how it goes. I'm still struggling with money and infertility issues, I miss the Notes world in which I worked for so long, and I'm getting used to a new job, so it's not all wine and roses in my life, but I'm pretty grateful for what I do have. One of the things for which I'm most grateful is my husband Philip, who is the most gentle, compassionate person I know and has had an amazing amount of patience in helping me deal with my year. Thanks, dear.

We had a mini Mythbusters marathon at my house today - one of my favorite shows. I didn't even know how much I liked it until our nephew re-introduced me to it and I spent some recovery time after a recent surgery engrossed in episode after episode. Now I'm a complete addict. Philip made strawberry-covered waffles and we ensconced ourselves on the sofa for a while. Lazy days can be very soul-restoring.


Also this weekend was a book club meeting at which local author Katherine Center came to talk about her book Get Lucky. Let me just say - what a lovely person. She was incredibly generous with her time and we loved meeting her. Second, what a fun book. I'm going to write a separate review so that it can be linked to more easily, but when I first read the book, I cried and cried - which is a testament to how realistic her characters came across and what a poignant story she wrote. Of course, there were plenty of giggles and smiles, too. I enjoyed it thoroughly. Look for a review soon. See what a good time we had?

Thanks for stopping by and look for more, I hope, soon.

18 April 2006

Olives, Postmodernism, and Literature Lost - Uncle Orson Reviews Everything

I hate it when someone else gets to say something i've been thinking about but not quite saying -- read Orson Scott Card's review of college (and high school and grad school) English departments, and the postmodern theories they espouse...
Olives, Postmodernism, and Literature Lost - Uncle Orson Reviews Everything

05 April 2006

Fodor's Travel Wire | Car Travel (Ireland)

Fodor's Travel Wire | Car Travel (Ireland)
Did you know that there's no right on red in Ireland? Can't talk on the cell while driving, either. Read more...

03 February 2006

Scenes from the Culture Clash

Scenes from the Culture Clash

I'll have more to say about this one in a bit, especially as it relates to this one but for now... some of you millenials are making me feel old and I'm not even that old!

19 January 2006

southmorehouse - Phillip Bergman in the Gallery

southmorehouse - Phillip Bergman in the Gallery

They can't seem to spell his first name right, but this is what my boyfriend does -- he's an artist, and this was a show he had at a gallery here in Houston.

Of course, at the moment, my dining room looks much like these pictures, as he works on more paintings, but then again, my office is stacked to the rafters with books while I'm working on grad school. ;-)

Blogthings - What Should You Major In?

Blogthings - What Should You Major In?

Just a giggle:
Your Scholastic Strength Is Developing Ideas

You can take a spark of inspiration and turn it into a full fledged concept.
You are talented at brainstorming, visualizing, organizing, and independent thinking.

You should major in:

Natural sciences
Computer science
Creative writing
Math
Architecture
Journalism

Maud Newton: Blog

Maud Newton: Blog
In this entry, Maud and her readers talk about their first literary crushes - thanks to a related Slate article -- maybe books they fell in love with or that changed the way they looked at books.

Do you have one?

I started with my literary crushes early and can still, quite clearly, remember the action and feel of reading Charlotte's Web, The Trumpet of the Swan, Stuart Little (all by E. B. White), and The Five Little Peppers and How They Grew (by Margaret Sydney) in oh, about maybe 2nd grade. And then, in about 4th grade, I graduated to the big time: Tolkien's Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, which I've read every summer since then.

I loved how the books transported me to a different place, let me see how other people lived and thought, and then quite clearly showed me how little difference there is between those people and me, when you got right down to it.

Those were probably my first crushes, but by no means my last.

Women's Place, Revisited - New York Times

YogaYak- Yoga Classes Online Hatha Meditation Pranayama

Fort Art Month: Girl Writing a Letter by William Carpenter

Fort Art Month: Girl Writing a Letter by William Carpenter

Like art? Like a giggle? Via profgrrrl, this is it. :-)

The Mechanical Contrivium: Trivia about Notesgirl

The Mechanical Contrivium: Trivia about Notesgirl

Via profgrrrrl, this made me giggle:

Ten Top Trivia Tips about Notesgirl!

  1. There are now more than 4000 satellites orbiting notesgirl.
  2. Notesgirl can sleep with one eye open.
  3. The National Heart Foundation recommends eating notesgirl at least three times a week.
  4. Notesgirl can give birth ten days after being born, and is born pregnant.
  5. Only one person in two billion will live to be notesgirl.
  6. Notesgirl can be very poisonous if injected intravenously!
  7. In a pinch, the skin from a shark can be used as notesgirl.
  8. Duelling is legal in Paraguay as long as both parties are notesgirl.
  9. About 100 people choke to death on notesgirl each year.
  10. Koalas sleep for 22 hours a day, two hours more than notesgirl.
I am interested in - do tell me about

18 January 2006

A BLOGGER IS JUST A WRITER WITH A COOLER NAME

A BLOGGER IS JUST A WRITER WITH A COOLER NAME

How true is this? And additionally, I'd say that there are many of us who are trying to keep up our "write something every day" lesson for whom blogging makes that a bit easier in some ways -- it's always easier to write something when you have an audience (or at least a potential audience) waiting.

11 January 2006

Powell's Books - PowellsBooks.BLOG

04 January 2006

Chron.com | Honors College tackles the daunting classics

Chron.com | Honors College tackles the daunting classics

Human Sit was one of my favorite classes and the fact that my grad school program at Rice began with a similar type of course was inspiring. When I think of what education should include, a Human Sit style course that includes a wide-range of "great works" (literature) integrated with science, mathematics, history, philosophy, religion, and other topics, feels like a great beginning.

ReadingGroupGuides.com

ReadingGroupGuides.com
May be a way to enhance our book club -- with contests, reading guides, suggestions, etc.

03 January 2006

vowe dot net :: url(x)

vowe dot net :: url(x)

Seriously neat -- useful tool and clearly good response from the builder -- thanks for pointing it out, Volker.

02 January 2006

Flying Fish Sailors

Flying Fish Sailors

Link to the Fish -- good, funny music.

Christmas Pic

LIbby and Philip and Philip's nephew Rhys
on Christmas day at the Bergman's house. Posted by Picasa

Bergman Family Christmas

Skip, Mary Ann, Paul, Margo and Rhys,
David, and Philip in their family Christmas
card picture. Posted by Picasa

Matching Santa Hats

Hannah and I were wearing matching Santa hats when she and her mommy and daddy came over for Christmas brunch. Cute! Posted by Picasa

More Christmas Tree

Actual presents underneath this time. They didn't last long because the kitties were a bit confused by having stuff on the floor -- they couldn't quite tell the different types of boxes apart... Posted by Picasa

Flying Fish Sailors at Hickory Hollow

We went to see the Flying Fish Sailors at Hickory Hollow for their Dec 23rd concert. I've known the Fish since I used to work at Texas Ren. Fest - I used to know Greg and Jay (left to right, in front) pretty well, but that was almost a decade ago! Still, awesome concert -- some of my favorites are Mary Mac, Poke You in the Eye, Loch Ness Monster, and Irish Rover. They were on a Beatles-esque kick lately, though... Posted by Picasa

Christmas Tree 2005

Just finished decorating the Christmas tree... Posted by Picasa

Some Pictures from Christmas Season

This is Pandora and Nibbler on my bed... Posted by Picasa

ENFP Profile

ENFP Profile
Took a Myers-Briggs type quiz today, via It's All One Thing and came up with a very different result than the last few times I've taken a Myers-Briggs. Of course, it's been a while and this was a much shorter quiz, so I'm not sure that it necessarily means anything, but it was interesting.

What is even more interesting to me is that I used to read the descriptions for the "positive" parts -- that was what I wanted to identify with to see if it had me pegged. Not sure if I've grown or gotten more cynical about myself (or both) but now I look much more at the negative bits, although I don't discount the more positive elements. This one mostly has me pegged, although I think I overcome (or at least am working on) some of the negative aspects of this personality type.

29 December 2005

Inside Higher Ed :: Easy Targets

Inside Higher Ed :: Easy Targets

Journalists vs. Academics, especially in the humanities -- I wonder if this is a place where I can bring some clarity as I get further into my humanities academic studies --

28 December 2005

OneLook Reverse Dictionary

Reverse dictionary -- you type in a concept; it gives you the words.

OKCupid! The Your SESAME STREET Persona Test

Amusing quizziness.
Kermit the Frog
You scored 58% Organization, 50% abstract, and 71% extroverted!
This test measured 3 variables.


First, this test measured how organized you are. Some muppets like Cookie Monster make big messes, while others like Bert are quite anal about things being clean.


Second, this test measured if you prefer a concrete or an abstract viewpoint. For the purposes of this test, concrete people are considered to gravitate more to mathematical and logical approaches, whereas abstract people are more the dreamers and artistic type.


Third, this test measured if you are more of an introvert or an extrovert.
By definition, an introvert concentrates more on herself and an
extrovert focuses more on others. In this test an introvert was
somebody that either tends to spend more time alone or thinks more
about herself.


You are mostly organized, both concrete and abstract, and more extroverted.



Here is why are you Kermit the Frog.


You are both somewhat organized. You have a good
idea where you put things and you probably keep your place reasonably
clean. You aren't totally obsessed with neatness though. Kermit is also
reasonably tidy. He'll even dress up for interviews.


You both are sometimes concrete and sometimes abstract thinkers. Kermit
spends a lot of his time as a reporter collecting facts, but he is also
the author of the dreamy song "The Rainbow Connection." You have a good
balance in your life. You know when to be logical at times, but you
also aren't afraid to explore your dreams and desires... within limits
of course.


You are both extroverts. Kermit gets along with everyone. Sure a few
folks annoy him, but that's just because they are annoying. Kermit
likes to meet new people when he does his job as a street reporter. You
definitely enjoy the company of others, and you don't have problems
meeting new people... in fact you probably look forward to it. You are
willing to take charge when necessary or work as part of a team.


Oh, and in case you were wondering, Kermit starred on Sesame Street years before The Muppet Show.


The other possible characters are

Oscar the Grouch

Big Bird

Snuffleupagus

Ernie

Elmo

Cookie Monster

Grover

The Count

Guy Smiley

Bert


If you enjoyed this test, I would love the feedback! Also if you want
to tell me your favorite Sesame Street character, I can total them up
and post them here. Perhaps your choice will win!




My test tracked 3 variables How you compared to other people your age and gender:
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 53% on Organization
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 44% on concrete-abstra
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 78% on intro-extrovert
Link: The Your SESAME STREET Persona Test written by greencowsgomoo on Ok Cupid, home of the 32-Type Dating Test

22 December 2005

Entertainment Weekly's EW.com | Feature: Stephen King on his picks for the best books of 2005

Another top 10 of 2005 list --

Of course, I like Stephen King's writing in general and his EW essays almost made me keep paying for a subscription. In any case, I've read two of his recommendations (Rowling and McEwan -- WOW, was Saturday engrossing) and plan to keep an eye out for some of the others....

21 December 2005

Coudal Partners: Read For us

Read a short verse online...
via NeilGaiman.com

20 December 2005

IBM in the Blogosphere - Motley Fool - MSNBC.com

A nice tidbit about how (and why) IBM is using (and encouraging) blogging, wikis, and podcasts.

19 December 2005

Concurring Opinions: What If Copyright Law Were Strongly Enforced in the Blogosphere?

Concurring Opinions: What If Copyright Law Were Strongly Enforced in the Blogosphere?

I got linked to this article from someone -- sorry that I don't remember where I saw it first. Especially since that makes posting it very ironic, given the topic.

We -- all of us bloggers -- do take fair use as far as it can go. As someone who falls both into the camp of a writer who gets paid for writing and a blogger who wants to make my posts understandable and interesting by quoting liberally, I'm on the fence, but interested to see how this issue falls out over the long term.

What Are the Blogs Saying About Me? - New York Times

What Are the Blogs Saying About Me? - New York Times
Yes, it's another NYT article -- sorry.

Anyway, this one is about the interaction between blogs (and bloggers) and authors. What I find interesting is that the author of this article didn't talk as much about how authors USE blogs, such as Neil Gaiman's ongoing discussion.

As for me, blogs weren't quite as big when I first published, but my books were the reason I got into blogging, I think.

Two Gay Cowboys Hit a Home Run - New York Times

Two Gay Cowboys Hit a Home Run - New York Times Sorry, it's the NYT -- registration required.

This is a review/essay about Brokeback Mountain the "gay cowboy movie" that has had "stunning weekend grosses" in NY, LA, and SF -- highest per-screen average in those cities, of any movies this year. Thank you people. From everything I've read about it, this story tells about the pain for people forced to live a lie, and treats their story in a very plain-spoken, realistic way --

I can't wait to see this movie.

And bless you, Frank Rich (the columnist) for writing such a lovely review essay --
And I am so grateful that I get to read

Salon.com Books | Top 10 books of the year

Salon.com Books | Top 10 books of the year

It's that time of year -- the time when anyone who talks about books in the media does a top X books of the year. Here's Salon's list. I haven't read many of their suggestions, although a few of them are in the "to be read" pile next to my bed (the pile that not only took over the nightstand, but actually engulfed an entire small bookshelf!).

I've often thought of doing this kind of list -- I certainly read enough books this year -- but... it's more likely for me to make a "best books I read in 2005" list than a "best books published in 2005" list -- I don't always read what's new when it's new... And my list would have to encompass some off-center books -- I thought, for example, that Anansi Boys, by Neil Gaiman, was one of the top novels published (and read!) in 2005, either in print or in audio format. But it doesn't fit neatly into most people's categories, does it?

timbl's blog | Decentralized Information Group (DIG) Breadcrumbs

Important to be able to find again -- Sir Tim Berners-Lee and his blog.
via vowe.net

16 December 2005

Aljazeera.Net - Japan's geeks set to inherit the Earth

Aljazeera.Net - Japan's geeks set to inherit the Earth

I watch an anime every week with the boyfriend and his friends about Otaku and one not-quite-so-Otaku girlfriend who struggles to "get it."

Thought this was interesting in that light. :-) I would never have known the term otherwise, so I guess I'm learning something too.

'Course, I'm not sure how I feel about reading it in al-Jazeera, but...

via http://www.rebeccablood.net/index.html

CNN.com - No advances made in adult literacy, study says - Dec 15, 2005

CNN.com - No advances made in adult literacy, study says - Dec 15, 2005

This is CNN's take on the NYTimes story I mentioned below:

"From 1992 to 2003, adults made no progress in their ability to read sentences and paragraphs or understand other printed material such as bus schedules or prescription labels.

"The adult population did make gains in handling tasks that involve math, such as calculating numbers on tax forms or bank statements. But even in that area, the typical adult showed only enough skills to perform simple, daily activities.

"Perhaps most sobering was that adult literacy dropped or was flat across every level of education, from people with graduate degrees to those who dropped out of high school."

Literacy Falls for Graduates From College, Testing Finds - New York Times

(Registration required for the link)

This article says that, according to the National Assessment of Adult Literacy exam -- which was given in 2003 to 19,000 people in the US -- our literacy has declined. Interestingly, the article emphasizes that it is the literacy of college graduates that has declined, but the test was given to "people 16 and older, in homes, college housing and in prisons" which implies to me that many of the people who took the exam were not, in fact, college graduates. Of those reults, though, some show a decline from 40% "proficient" literacy of college graduates in 1992 to 31% in 2003. Proficient is defined as "able to read lengthy, complex English texts and draw complicated inferences" -- in other words, what we as professionals have to do every day to understand and use reports, e-mails, articles, and instructions.

I'm scared.

13 December 2005

Lotus Geek | You, in 10 words

Lotus Geek | You, in 10 words

Can you describe yourself in 10 words/short phrases? Looking at my heading above, you can see that I tried, but here's the list I posted for Rocky:

1. reader
2. writer
3. friend
4. (grad) student
5. educator
6. yogini
7. family-member (aka, daughter, granddaughter, niece, cousin)
8. girlfriend
9. curious
10. runner
11. geek

Narnia - Uncle Orson Reviews Everything

Narnia - Uncle Orson Reviews Everything
Good review of the movie -- can't wait to see it!

Yoga Journal : Wisdom : Yoga tradition and philosophy, information on yoga's pioneers, wisdom from spiritual teacher Philip Moffitt, and ways to incor

Yoga Journal : Wisdom : Yoga tradition and philosophy, information on yoga's pioneers, wisdom from spiritual teacher Philip Moffitt, and ways to incorporate the eight-fold path into your daily life.: "Like many of my peers, my spiritual seeking has taken me down foreign paths and into distant countries. This blending of influences has molded me into someone who can believe in a Buddhist cosmology, practice a Hindu meditation technique, and still celebrate Christmas like a good Catholic girl."
This might as well be me -- I have a lot of beliefs that coincide with a buddhist way of looking at life, things, and people, but I do yoga (closer to the hindu), and I'm still the spirit of christmas personified! :-)