Monday, March 29, 2010

lists & boys

Since I was twelve, I have been told to make a list of what types of attributes I would like my future Mr. Right to have. To be honest, I don't have one of those lists. I had Mel's around for years because it was hilariously written. Fast forward to a couple of years ago when 'O' magazine devoted a whole section to creating those types of lists - both Rachel's and my mothers suggested separately that we document our "love lists." Rachel may have written one, but I sure didn't get to it. Today I finally found my list courtesy of Dave Rogowski on Gilmore Girls. Is the list complete? No, but you have to admit, Dave's monologue (even if you are not a Gilmore fan), is fantastic and a great start to the list I'll compile sometime around my golden anniversary. Enjoy!


Plainsong Plainsong by Kent Haruf

My rating: 2 of 5 stars
I desperately wanted to like this book. It came highly recommended from two friends, and it was a National Book Award finalist. However, for me, it was not a winner. Haruf’s gift is his ability to set a scene – I could see the dusty cowboy boots, hear the rumble of a diesel truck on the gravel, and smell the fresh hay mingling with the cool night air. What lacks in Haruf’s writing are his characters. The writing leads you in, captivates your every sense, and then leaves you looking around wondering where you are supposed to go next – except that you never get there. I waited the whole book for back-stories on the main characters –why they were the way they were – the characters deserved that development. But those stories never came. Ultimately, I felt very unfulfilled at the end of the book, almost to the point that I wish I had put it down and imagined my own paths for the characters.

That said, “Plainsong” does capture the feeling of a very sleepy, very ordinary country town. The book is simply a snapshot of their lives. The title is apropos both for the location and the people it represents.

I would not recommend this book based on my reading, but I think in this situation, I am the exception, not the rule. I do think that Haruf would write excellent short stories, and I would recommend those without question. I don’t know if he writes short stories, but his agent should tell him to consider it. Haruf would be brilliant at it. Then maybe, I wouldn’t expect so much of the characters, and I wouldn’t leave feeling like I only had seen the middle of the movie with no hope of seeing the beginning or the end.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Once upon a time...

My paper chain looked like this:

Now it looks like this:

Which makes me feel like this:
and this:
[Thrilled to be almost done with the semester. Sad to be leaving Jewels, Brett, Mae, Hill, and my other Utah peeps behind.]

Twenty-one days and counting!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer

My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I picked up this book again because I couldn’t remember its details. I could remember the pictures - Laurence Olivier holding poor Yorick’s skull, the man falling from the twin towers, the elephant’s eye. I could remember the use of blank pages, the use of color, the use of spacing (how often do publishers willing put only one sentence on multiple pages?), but I couldn’t remember much about who the characters were and how the language was crafted. And oddly enough, I felt like I needed to know.

I talk about this book all the time. When I read it nearly two years ago, it was a shock to my senses and written about an event that changed everything. 9/11 changed me, and in turn, this book altered the way I look at life, look at people, and look at what it means to really live and love.

Rereading the book was still a shock to my senses. The story was even sadder the second time around. The characters’ loss and despair clung to me in a way that was almost too real. That said, I would still recommend this book. It is brilliant. Foer’s ability to be creative while still telling a powerful and challenging story is incredible. This is not a story for everyone – you won’t feel blissful at the end because the tragedy is real. We watched the footage of the towers falling. We saw the posters taped to every surface in Manhattan looking for lost loved ones. Foer doesn’t shy away from the pain. He embraces it and shows us that life does go on. He shows us that the real tragedy is not living after losing – a lesson I think we need to keep learning. We need to as President Hinckley once said, seek more fully the sunlight and stop seeking out the storms. The storms and the sadness will come – Foer’s novel assures us of that, but the sunlight is still there. We just have to look up--

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Belle in Pink

This past weekend I snuck home. A few days is definitely not enough to see everyone and to do everything I want to do. There were some definitely highlights though, and one was Jenessa's junior prom. It was completely surreal to stand next to Rachel and watch Jenessa get ready. Ten years ago, Rachel and I went with Dave and Rob to prom. We had the pre-party in my backyard in Concord and were whisked off to Golden Gate Fields for the best dance I have ever been to. Jenessa was gorgeous and looked absolutely radiant. Her date, the infamous and sweet, Chase Lewis, came to the door looking dapper in his new black suit (with fantastic pink argyle socks). The pre-party was crazy - 50 kids with parents in tow and dozens of cameras flashing incessantly. I loved every second of it. Miraculously no one fell in the pool, and everyone was still smiling when they left to go meet their charter bus.

The pictures are in no particular order and are not laid out well because I don't know how to mess around with photo layout. They're cute just the same.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Kiss Me, I'm...

…actually not Irish, but Happy St. Patrick’s Day just the same.

Two random thoughts for the day-

First – I love that so many people are wearing green. It reminded me of high school dress-up days, something I completely loved by the way. Even as a teacher, I would dress up if the theme of the day wasn’t too bizarre. After today, I am thinking that we should have themed days even if it is just all color coordinating once a week. Yes, I know – I’m in grad school – we’re supposed to be professional, but honestly – how great would it be to walk into a room and see everyone wearing the same color? Budgeting would be that much better.

Second – Two years ago, St. Patrick’s Day fell on a Monday. On that particular Monday, we (the students and staff) of San Ramon were in a competition with Monte Vista involving wearing seatbelts. To show our commitment, we were wearing t-shirts made just for this event. There were set days to wear the shirts and St. Patrick’s Day was day three in eight or nine school days. I was so sick of the shirt – something I complained about to Tracy sometime during the course of the school day because I had to go straight to FHE from school that day (and there’s nothing hotter than a grown-up in a tacky t-shirt, NOT). That night when I rolled up to the Dublin church building, Tracy met me at the door with a box in hand. That box held a new fabulous BRIGHT green sweater and white long-sleeve shirt to go underneath it.

When she and I walked out of the bathroom a few minutes later, I felt like a new person. I can’t remember what the activity was that night, but I had a great time even though I had a stack of essays to grade and the boy I liked wasn’t calling me anymore. Tracy selflessly took care of me that day and showed me the power of unexpected service. She took a holiday that I only associated with green beer I didn’t drink and green eggs I’d rather read about than eat, and made it one of my favorite days of the year.

Moral of the two stories - we should plan color coordinated outfits and Tracy is a fantastic friend. Love her forever. Love you! Hope you had a very lucky day today!!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Jude's Hamlet

Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens, bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens - no, that's definitely not my list of my favorite things. Somewhere on my list though, wherever it's at, is Jude Law and Shakespeare's Hamlet. I love that those two list items have been combined on Broadway this last year. Jude was just on SNL this past Saturday and here is his tribute to his experience playing the Danish prince. Hilarious, British, insanely good looking with superb taste in roles - Love the infamous Mr. Law. Wish I could see this production--

ps. If you read this post in a British accent, it's much more authentic and much more fun - word choice for this post, by the way, was based off a more British lexicon. And yes, I know, I'm a bit crazy. Happy Monday!

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Summer Plans

My summer plans are finally set!

I am going to be working for

and living near

I know - crazy, isn't it?! Life really is full of unexpected adventures. See you on the beach!

The Happiness Project

The Happiness Project The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin

My rating: 3 of 5 stars
I would love to eloquently tell you about Gretchen Rubin’s happiness project – a year spent as it says in the title, trying to be happier – but I lack the energy and my statistics homework is nowhere near done. “The Happiness Project” is replete with honest reflection, well-selected quotes, and suggestions for how to integrate desired aspects (i.e., laughter, spontaneity, love, etc.) into our own lives.

This is Rubin’s life and her truth. The book is a little long-winded, but overall an enjoyable read. I am torn between a 3 and 4 star rating (where are the half stars Goodreads?!). If you are looking for “Real Simple” life stories on steroids or unique, realistic ways to improve your day-to-day life, this book is for you.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Love Walked In

Love Walked In Love Walked In by Marisa de los Santos

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
As children, the stories we love most end well. Dorothy wakes up at home with Auntie Em and Toto by her side. The Beast turns back into a prince and he and Belle live happily ever after. Sleeping Beauty opens her eyes after her enchanted sleep to find a prince who is not only handsome, but also just happens to have a beautiful tenor voice. Essentially, the good guy (or girl) wins, the damsel (or the male equivalent of a damsel) is saved, and everyone rides off into the sunset safe, happy, and in love. Fast forward twenty years to the world of stories for adults – Cinderella drives the prince crazy with her compulsion to clean the castle. The Wicked Witch is actually the victim of a loveless upbringing. The sunset is the product of smoke and smog, and the car won’t start because things were so hectic that the “prince” forgot to get gas. The good guy or girl does not always win, not everyone is saved, and "happily ever after" is a hackneyed idea leftover from years before…

That said, every so often a book comes along that breaks the adult mold. Though the realities of heartbreak and tragedy continue to exist, love and goodness reign supreme. And the reader gets to breathe a sigh of relief and sees sun on the horizon instead of a storm. Marisa de los Santos’ “Love Walked In” is enchanting. It was for me, a silver lining book after reading so many sad tales of loss. The writing is lyrical. The details, from the soft touch of a wool sweater to the smell of pancakes, are perfectly vivid. The characters are such that the reader feels as though they too have walked into a Philadelphia coffee house to talk with an old friend.

This book is not perfect, but I thoroughly enjoyed reading it. De los Santos’ movie references are both brilliant and frustrating. Perhaps with a few more years behind me, I would not have had to look up so many of the films and the actors. What I loved most (besides the “sigh of relief” feeling and beautifully crafted language) were Cornelia and Claire’s references to classic books and characters– heroines like Jo March and Anne Shirley, two characters that have helped alter my stars just as they alter Claire’s. I have never seen my childhood self in a character, but I saw myself in Claire – and though it may sound a bit narcissistic, I loved it. For a brief moment, I glimpsed the world through younger eyes – when fictional characters’ experiences feel like they are your own and when you think there must be a clear reason why people do what they do. Perhaps, best of all, when despite the odds being stacked against you, things feel like they will work out. After all, Anne gets to stay at Green Gables. Sarah Crewe’s father comes home. Jo writes her book. And Claire and Cornelia – well, you’ll just have to read “Love Walked In” to find out.