Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Top Five

It's that time again! Another prompt from Mama Kat--two weeks in a row! Go me! 

Here is the prompt I chose this week: Five Things. List 5 things we don't know about you, 5 things you're knowledgeable about, 5 things you know nothing about, and 5 things you believe.

Five Things You Don't Know About Me:
(First of all, since I'm one of those open book sorts of people, it's hard for me to come up with this stuff, but I'll give it a whirl.) 

1. I have a little brother with Asperger's Syndrome. It's actually surprising I haven't talked about this before, because the "issues" my brother and family has dealt with has significantly shaped my life (including my meeting my husband), but I haven't yet felt compelled to blog about this. 

2. I was a flaming, unabashed Communist/Anarchist when I was 15. I'm not entirely sure if I knew what either one of those things were, except it meant I kept a notebook filled with that anarchy A symbol and political cartoons that I'd drawn, consisting mostly of conservative political figures hanging themselves. I was such a pleasant teenager. 

3. I won the school-wide geography bee in 6th grade and actually went to the statewide geography bee but went out in the first round. Did you know the capital of South Korea is Seoul? 

4. I seriously considered converting to Judaism in middle school. 

5. I played with American Girl Dolls and Barbies until I was about 15 (when my childhood abruptly ended and I decided I needed to take down the American government). 

Five Things I'm Knowledgeable About:

1. Autism and Asperger's Syndrome. (See #1 above.) 

2. The similarities between John Milton and William Blake (Renaissance poet and Victorian Era poet; both awesome). I wrote a pretty sweet research paper comparing the two. 

3. Nirvana (the band). I spend most of high school convincing myself I was Kurt Cobain reincarnated...despite the fact he died when I was six. 

4. Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings. I put these two things together because I don't want to take up the last to spots on my list with my extreme nerdy-ness. 

5. Babywearing. I am the ultimate salesman for all my slings and SSC (soft-structure carrier). 

Five Things I Know Nothing About:

1. Quantum physics. And I so badly want to be an expert. 

2. Seoul, South Korea. 

3. How to parent a little boy (or a teenage girl, for that matter). 

4. Karma Sutra (something DOH would very much like to change). 

5. Twilight (and I'd like to keep it that way...though, I will admit, I did read the entire first book, have forgotten much about it, and, again, would like to keep it that way). 

Five Things I Believe:

1. Karma. It's there, deal with it. 

2. Nothing is black and white, nothing is ever really clear. Life is too fluid for complete certainty on anything, but sometimes you just need to make a decision and go with it. 

3. My family. Together, we're capable of anything. 

4. This world was created with love. By whom or what I'm still pondering (though I've got some ideas), but there is absolutely no doubt in my mind that this is a place made for and with love, we just need to connect ourselves to it. 

5. Santa Claus. I don't care what anyone else says, he's real

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

But Why?

I've made a lot of decisions in my life that have given my mother pause. Making those kinds of decisions have sort of become a past time for me over the past six or seven years. And while she eventually adjusts to the decisions I make (for the most part), she likes to make a bit of noise during the adjustment period.

Now you might wonder why I, a grown adult, cares about what my mom thinks. Well, why does any care about what their mother thinks? Because you love her. Because she birthed you and raised you and took care of you. Because she instilled important values in you from a very young age. Because you respect her opinion.

But sometimes you have respectfully listen to her opinion...then ignore it.

A couple of days ago I wrote about wanting to do a home birth. I know this is an event (if it takes place at all) that is some time off. But time moves quicker than we'd like sometimes, and I've become one of those, as I put it in an e-mail today, one of those weirdo planner people. So, today, I got in touch with a local midwife regarding her policy on doing home births with women who have previously had c-sections. As far as she's concerned, it's a go.

Now, it's not written in stone that the midwife I contacted today will be the midwife I approach several months down the road when I'm potentially pregnant (there are a few in the area and I plan on meeting with everyone to get a feel, though, being one of those "vibe" sort of people, I got a "vibe" with the one I contacted today, so we'll see), but she confirmed for me something I needed to be confirmed before I could go on dreaming about the birth of my next child. I needed to know that a VBAC at home was a least a possible option, if nothing else. And now I have that information and I can rest easy for a bit.

But I don't know if my mom will be able to. I mentioned the idea of a home birth to her tonight. There are certain subjects my mom will shut down on. Tattoos, my sexual history, previous decisions I've made that she's still uneasy about, and current decisions I'm in the process of making that she's uneasy about. Home births fit into the last category.

I mentioned home birth and she sort of shrank into herself. I could almost see the barrier she put up and knew immediately I should have backed off almost before the word, "What?" passed through my lips.

"It just makes me nervous. Is it safe if you've had a c-section? Maybe you should talk to a doctor first."

Translation: "Aw, crap. This AGAIN?!"

You see, whether it's a decision to make a butt-load of cookies or a baby, once I decide I'm going to do something, that I really, really want it, then it happens. (I mean, the one stipulation is that I have to really, genuinely, completely want it, and I have to have a feasible way of doing it--thus far, the option of having a home birth seems entirely feasible and right now it's something I really, genuinely, and completely want.) My mom knows this about me, and you'd think by now she'd just give up and roll with it, but I suppose that would be like asking a fart to not smell (not that I'm implying that my mother's persistence is...fart-like, but I suppose it can be just as annoying, though slightly more endearing).

So, I guess this next part is for my mom and for her desire to worry and argue and try to get me to not only hear her side of the story, but to also completely agree with her. This is my answer to her yet unsaid, "But why?"

Unlike some people who turn to home birth after a c-section, I did not have a horrible experience. In fact, I would say it was a really great experience...considering I was in a place where all I cared about was getting that baby out of me safe and healthy. And for some people, that's all that matters, for whatever reason, and that is totally and absolutely okay. It's great even.

I have become not one of those people.

As I've grown up over the last few years, parented my child, read, watched, listened, I've realized that for me, I want the birth of my next child to be the most intense and emotional experience I can possibly make it. It was difficult for me to muster the emotion I wanted when my daughter was delivered. I was fighting sleep, not unbound excitement, when I saw my child for the first time, because I was so drugged (which was completely necessary, because I was having major surgery at the time). While I didn't have a huge let down, like many women describe after having an unplanned c-section, I've instead had this feeling of slight disappointment eating away at me.

I don't want to say things "went wrong" at Lizzie's birth, because how could they? I was given a healthy and beautiful baby girl. But, in many ways, I feel as though I was NOT a participant in her arrival. I was just the vessel and everyone else did the work.

And therein lies the problem.

For a very long time (like, my entire life), people have done a lot of hard things for me. My dad helped me a lot with hard science projects and math homework. Mom helped me with chores, projects, and other responsibilities. Up until a year ago, family members drove my butt around because I was too chicken to get my driver's license (I was also an incredibly bad driver). Nice things were bought for me. I inherited money to pay for things that we otherwise would have had to save for a very long time for. Even school, where I powered through under my own steam while raising a child and keeping a home, came easily too me. A lot of things have been handed to me or haven't been difficult for me to obtain. And my daughter, who I would not trade for anything under the sun, was also handed to me.

I'm trying very hard to change that. It's nice to have people to help you, but I don't want that help to be my plan A. Going into my first pregnancy I knew (I promise I really, really knew, even if it wasn't what I thought I wanted) that I would have a c-section. A lot of things contributed to this thought process, which I'm not going to go into here, but we'll leave it with the fact that I had that expectation and it only grew stronger as I got closer to my due date and eventual birth of my daughter. Perhaps, subconsciously, I knew this birth would be one more thing that I would have excessive help with.

So, why go over the top and do a home birth rather than just insist, with an OB that I have a VBAC, or even go to a birth center or have a midwife in a hospital? Well, I haven't ruled any of those things out. I may find that for whatever reason, an OB is my only option. Or I may decide that I would prefer to be at a birth center rather than my home. Or I may decide to be at home (and right now, I'd really rather be there). The point is, I want to be in a place where my desire to give birth to my child on my own terms is respected the very most while keeping myself and the baby as safe as possible. At the moment, I do not feel a traditional hospital setting is the most conducive to that IF I'm having a normal, healthy pregnancy. The statistics and my personal experiences simply do not mesh with my current desire to have an unmedicated, midwife attended, vaginal birth. And to me, an unmedicated, vaginal birth is a decision that represents the obtainable goal of me making a plan, figuring out how to execute that plan, and having the outcome benefit both myself and my family.

I know I've written a lot, and I hope that I don't sound ungrateful for the wonderful things I have been given in life, and I hope, as each day passes and I take on more and more responsibilities, I start to earn those wonderful things. I appreciate and love and respect my mother immensely, and I get why she worries. And I hope she knows that I don't resent her or anyone for what I've been given. I simply feel blessed for it all. But now I want to make something for myself, to do it myself, and while there are a million little things I've started to take on by myself, I want to start claiming some bigger things, and this birth, however far off into the future, is one of those big things.

Monday, November 28, 2011

There's No Place Like Home

Have you ever had that feeling of just boiling over with excitement about something? Where your whole body sizzles with an idea and you feel like you're on fire with passion for it.

That is what I'm feeling right now regarding home birth.

NOT a home birth. A good one (thought slightly frustrating), but NOT a home birth. 

Weird thing to get all excited over, but I am really, REALLY excited by the idea.

It's...what I want.

And I know a big part of this excitement has to do with the fact that I am currently having humongous amounts of baby fever. And another part is the fact that I'm currently reading Ina May's Guide to Childbirth and am loving the birth stories (which are making me ball in the middle of the teachers' room at work). But, I think this is genuine excitement fueled by a genuine desire to do something good for myself, my future child, and my family.

This is something I think I can do and I know I want to do.

Of course, in order for one to have a home birth, one needs to be pregnant (which I'm most definitely not), but...but...that could be happening at some point. Soon. Ish. (Or several months from now.) Kind of.

But, regardless of my fetus status, I can't quite get over how enthused I am about home birth. I know I need to do more research. I know I need to make sure DOH is completely on board (I've all ready run it by him, and while he thinks I'm nuts, he's basically said that if it's what I want, then that's what we'll do). I also need to know if it's even financially feasible. BUT, the benefit of not being pregnant right now (and not running the risk of being pregnant any time soon), is that I've got plenty of time to research. And obsess. And enthuse. And blog about it.


Sunday, November 27, 2011

Christmas Yumminess

It is my most favorite, favorite time of year: Christmastime!

With Thanksgiving behind us (which, by the way, was just as relaxing and fun as I had hoped), I finally feel free to really delve into all things Christmas-y.

One of the biggest and oldest staples of this time of year in my family is the baking of the Christmas cookies. My mom and I are sweets junkies and we are especially fond of all the baked goods Christmas tends to produce. While Mom and I are by no means professionals, we make a mean cookie and always have a blast getting together on a weekend to get the baking underway. Usually we spend a weekend trying to get everything baked. It makes for a rather stressful time, and by the end of the weekend we feel exhausted. This year, because I'm living way closer to home (twenty minutes versus an hour and a half!), we've decided to stretch the cookie baking out.

This past weekend we threw together some dough (lemon sugar cookies, regular sugar cookies, chocolate sugar cookies, peanut butter blossoms, and cinnamon reindeer cookies). Next weekend we'll make more cookies and dough and freeze them until the time comes when we distribute cookies to friends and coworkers as gifts of good cheer during this wonderful time of year.

Lizzie with her new apron (and snow boots!), ready to  help bake some cookies!

Lizzie and me!

Lizzie and my mom!

Perhaps next week I'll add some pictures of cookies...don't come back too hungry!

Friday, November 25, 2011

Picture Perfect

Last weekend our friend/amazing daycare provider/photog expert, Megan, took some great pictures of the family. We hadn't ever had our pictures taken as a family by a professional (and Megan certainly is that--she did so awesome) and it had been about three years since we had last had any sort of family shots (at our wedding!). With Christmas fast approaching, I decided this year we would do something different and rather than take some pictures myself (which always end up a bit shoddy) or torturing Lizzie with a trip to the sub-par Wal-Mart picture people, so I asked Megan if she would do our pics.

Well, they came out amazing. I am NOT photogenic (unless I'm doing weird webcam pictures where I can fuss for twenty minutes over how I'm holding my head), but despite my general sort of whale-ish-ness, I felt the pictures came out wonderfully. They were all taken outside of our house, which, I think, makes them that much more special, and I really feel Megan snagged some wicked sweet shots.

I gotta say, we're a pretty cute family :-)

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

A Traditional Thanksgiving

It's been a while since I've done a prompt from Mama Kat. In honor of the big day tomorrow and my desire to actually write something that isn't about books that I haven't read or the life I wish I had (i.e. the life of a glamorous stay-at-home-mom), here's what I've got:

2.) What traditions do you carry on with your family each year?

This is a year of breaking traditions and starting new ones. A year of finally, finally feeling like we're doing the holiday for our family and not someone else's (though, I suppose our extended family is our family, but you know, it's not quite the same thing--they don't have to deal with the cranky toddler and man after a long and crazy day).

Over the last five years, since DOH and I were first together, we've been battling how to arrange this frenetic time of year. Who's house do we go to? If we go this place at this time, will we be able to go to the other place? Should we eat there and not at the other? Who are we more comfortable offending by not eating their food/not staying quite as long? (Somehow my family seemed to always get the short end of the stick on that one, mostly because they wouldn't get offended, I'd just hear, "I wish you could have stayed a bit longer, Kirsten," fifty-billion times.) And after having Lizzie, it only got that much worse, because, of course, both sides of the family wanted the only grandchild/great-grandchild at their table for her first (and second, and third, and fourth...) Thanksgiving.

The Thanksgiving Day traditions of olde (and I use the "e" to emphasize how old I really mean, like six or seven years ago old, when I still had braces and stuff) were much more Norman Rockwell-esque. I'd force my brother to watch the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade with me. We'd stay in our P.J.'s until noon. Mom would be busy in the kitchen. My dad would be off picking up last minute supplies. Later on, everyone, my parents, brother, grandparents, and a smattering of my aunts and uncles (depending on who was around or what state we were in, Maine or Massachusetts), would gather around the dining room table with every sort of food you could ask for, we would gorge ourselves, then laze about the house, football game on, maybe play a game of Skip-Bo or Phase 10, then around 7 or 8 o'clock the adults would break out the wine and leftovers, gorge once more, and pass out in recliners and on sofas. It may seem small, but it was perfect. I was a weird sort of teenager in that I enjoyed being around my family, even my parents, and I cherish the memories and, even more than that, the feeling of safety, comfort, and happiness that I felt when I was around them on these special days. Plus, it paid off having all those adults loosened up, because I ended up having plenty of spending money when I would hit the stores with my friend in Newburyport, MA the following Saturdays (per tradition) to do some personal Christmas shopping and enjoy Starbucks (which, I swear, we did not have in Maine at the time).

But, as I said from the start, this year is different. It's not going to be like Ye Olde T-Day, where it's one house, one day of relaxation, one awesome freaking parade (which I will MISS for the first time EVER this year). But it's also not going to be the Thanksgiving Marathon and stress-fest it's been in years past. We still go to the two sides of the family, but we've coordinated it in such a way, that we've allotted at least a couple hours at each house and we end the night a mere twenty minutes away from home (as opposed to an hour or more). While those wonderful feelings of safety, comfort, and happiness have been a bit fleeting over the last few years, I can already sense (in an almost a Zen like way), that tomorrow will be different. It will begin a new era of Thanksgiving traditions and Thanksgiving days that Lizzie can look back upon and have the same feelings stir inside her own heart I felt growing up, where she feels the love and comfort of her families and is lucky enough to have the day with both sides.

But could someone please record the parade for me?

I'm Thankful For Books

So, I've read a few more of these books. And a quick note on Wide Sargasso Sea--if you've read Jane Eyre and liked Roderick, chances are, you're not going to like this book.
  1. Pilgrimage – Dorothy Richardson
  2. The Joke – Milan Kundera
  3. No Laughing Matter – Angus Wilson
  4. The Third Policeman – Flann O’Brien
  5. A Man Asleep – Georges Perec
  6. The Birds Fall Down – Rebecca West
  7. Trawl – B.S. Johnson
  8. In Cold Blood – Truman Capote
  9. The Magus – John Fowles
  10. The Vice-Consul – Marguerite Duras
  11. Wide Sargasso Sea – Jean Rhys I thought this book SUCKED
  12. Giles Goat-Boy – John Barth
  13. The Crying of Lot 49 – Thomas Pynchon
  14. Things – Georges Perec
  15. The River Between – Ngugi wa Thiong’o
  16. August is a Wicked Month – Edna O’Brien
  17. God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater – Kurt Vonnegut
  18. Everything That Rises Must Converge – Flannery O’Connor
  19. The Passion According to G.H. – Clarice Lispector
  20. Sometimes a Great Notion – Ken Kesey
  21. Come Back, Dr. Caligari – Donald Bartholme
  22. Albert Angelo – B.S. Johnson
  23. Arrow of God – Chinua Achebe
  24. The Ravishing of Lol V. Stein – Marguerite Duras
  25. Herzog – Saul Bellow
  26. V. – Thomas Pynchon
  27. Cat’s Cradle – Kurt Vonnegut
  28. The Graduate – Charles Webb
  29. Manon des Sources – Marcel Pagnol
  30. The Spy Who Came in from the Cold – John Le Carré
  31. The Girls of Slender Means – Muriel Spark
  32. Inside Mr. Enderby – Anthony Burgess
  33. The Bell Jar – Sylvia Plath
  34. One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich – Aleksandr Isayevich Solzhenitsyn
  35. The Collector – John Fowles
  36. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest – Ken Kesey
  37. A Clockwork Orange – Anthony Burgess
  38. Pale Fire – Vladimir Nabokov
  39. The Drowned World – J.G. Ballard
  40. The Golden Notebook – Doris Lessing
  41. Labyrinths – Jorg Luis Borges
  42. Girl With Green Eyes – Edna O’Brien
  43. The Garden of the Finzi-Continis – Giorgio Bassani
  44. Stranger in a Strange Land – Robert Heinlein
  45. Franny and Zooey – J.D. Salinger
  46. A Severed Head – Iris Murdoch
  47. Faces in the Water – Janet Frame
  48. Solaris – Stanislaw Lem
  49. Cat and Mouse – Günter Grass
  50. The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie – Muriel Spark
  51. Catch-22 – Joseph Heller I kept a notebook filled with my favorite lines from this book
  52. The Violent Bear it Away – Flannery O’Connor
  53. How It Is – Samuel Beckett
  54. Our Ancestors – Italo Calvino
  55. The Country Girls – Edna O’Brien
  56. To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee Another book I hated in high school, but I think it had more to do with the teacher
  57. Rabbit, Run – John Updike
  58. Promise at Dawn – Romain Gary
  59. Cider With Rosie – Laurie Lee
  60. Billy Liar – Keith Waterhouse
  61. Naked Lunch – William Burroughs
  62. The Tin Drum – Günter Grass
  63. Absolute Beginners – Colin MacInnes
  64. Henderson the Rain King – Saul Bellow
  65. Memento Mori – Muriel Spark
  66. Billiards at Half-Past Nine – Heinrich Böll
  67. Breakfast at Tiffany’s – Truman Capote
  68. The Leopard – Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa
  69. Pluck the Bud and Destroy the Offspring – Kenzaburo Oe
  70. A Town Like Alice – Nevil Shute
  71. The Bitter Glass – Eilís Dillon
  72. Things Fall Apart – Chinua Achebe So good!
  73. Saturday Night and Sunday Morning – Alan Sillitoe
  74. Mrs. ‘Arris Goes to Paris – Paul Gallico
  75. Borstal Boy – Brendan Behan
  76. The End of the Road – John Barth
  77. The Once and Future King – T.H. White I've read most of it....
  78. The Bell – Iris Murdoch
  79. Jealousy – Alain Robbe-Grillet
  80. Voss – Patrick White
  81. The Midwich Cuckoos – John Wyndham
  82. Blue Noon – Georges Bataille
  83. Homo Faber – Max Frisch
  84. On the Road – Jack Kerouac
  85. Pnin – Vladimir Nabokov
  86. Doctor Zhivago – Boris Pasternak
  87. The Wonderful “O” – James Thurber
  88. Justine – Lawrence Durrell
  89. Giovanni’s Room – James Baldwin
  90. The Lonely Londoners – Sam Selvon
  91. The Roots of Heaven – Romain Gary
  92. Seize the Day – Saul Bellow
  93. The Floating Opera – John Barth
  94. The Lord of the Rings – J.R.R. Tolkien Love forever. 
  95. The Talented Mr. Ripley – Patricia Highsmith A trip. 
  96. Lolita – Vladimir Nabokov
  97. A World of Love – Elizabeth Bowen
  98. The Trusting and the Maimed – James Plunkett
  99. The Quiet American – Graham Greene
  100. The Last Temptation of Christ – Nikos Kazantzákis
  101. The Recognitions – William Gaddis

Sunday, November 20, 2011

A Good Read(s)

Here's the next set of books (I haven't read). A lot of these are books or authors I've heard of or have read (Douglas Adams, J. M. Coetzee, Ian McEwan, Toni Morrison), but, I dunno, between required college texts (which seemed to include a lot of pre-Victorian literature) and my own personal love for prolific and slightly epic fantasy series, I haven't gotten around to a lot of the "modern classics." But I have read some of these. Surprisingly.
  1. The Beautiful Room is Empty – Edmund White
  2. Wittgenstein’s Mistress – David Markson
  3. The Satanic Verses – Salman Rushdie
  4. The Swimming-Pool Library – Alan Hollinghurst
  5. Oscar and Lucinda – Peter Carey
  6. Libra – Don DeLillo
  7. The Player of Games – Iain M. Banks
  8. Nervous Conditions – Tsitsi Dangarembga
  9. The Long Dark Teatime of the Soul – Douglas Adams
  10. Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency – Douglas Adams
  11. The Radiant Way – Margaret Drabble
  12. The Afternoon of a Writer – Peter Handke
  13. The Black Dahlia – James Ellroy
  14. The Passion – Jeanette Winterson
  15. The Pigeon – Patrick Süskind
  16. The Child in Time – Ian McEwan
  17. Cigarettes – Harry Mathews
  18. The Bonfire of the Vanities – Tom Wolfe
  19. The New York Trilogy – Paul Auster
  20. World’s End – T. Coraghessan Boyle
  21. Enigma of Arrival – V.S. Naipaul
  22. The Taebek Mountains – Jo Jung-rae
  23. Beloved – Toni Morrison
  24. Anagrams – Lorrie Moore
  25. Matigari – Ngugi Wa Thiong’o
  26. Marya – Joyce Carol Oates
  27. Watchmen – Alan Moore & David Gibbons
  28. The Old Devils – Kingsley Amis
  29. Lost Language of Cranes – David Leavitt
  30. An Artist of the Floating World – Kazuo Ishiguro
  31. Extinction – Thomas Bernhard
  32. Foe – J.M. Coetzee
  33. The Drowned and the Saved – Primo Levi
  34. Reasons to Live – Amy Hempel
  35. The Parable of the Blind – Gert Hofmann
  36. Love in the Time of Cholera – Gabriel García Márquez Good, but weird. The whole May/December relationship between second cousins sort of did me in. 
  37. Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit – Jeanette Winterson
  38. The Cider House Rules – John Irving
  39. A Maggot – John Fowles
  40. Less Than Zero – Bret Easton Ellis
  41. Contact – Carl Sagan
  42. The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood Love. It. Also loved Oryx and Crake
  43. Perfume – Patrick Süskind
  44. Old Masters – Thomas Bernhard
  45. White Noise – Don DeLillo Very strange. Probably not a book I would have read on my own had it not been assigned my Freshman year of college. 
  46. Queer – William Burroughs
  47. Hawksmoor – Peter Ackroyd
  48. Legend – David Gemmell
  49. Dictionary of the Khazars – Milorad Pavi?
  50. The Bus Conductor Hines – James Kelman
  51. The Year of the Death of Ricardo Reis – José Saramago
  52. The Lover – Marguerite Duras
  53. Empire of the Sun – J.G. Ballard
  54. The Wasp Factory – Iain Banks
  55. Nights at the Circus – Angela Carter
  56. The Unbearable Lightness of Being – Milan Kundera
  57. Blood and Guts in High School – Kathy Acker
  58. Neuromancer – William Gibson
  59. Flaubert’s Parrot – Julian Barnes
  60. Money: A Suicide Note – Martin Amis
  61. Shame – Salman Rushdie
  62. Worstward Ho – Samuel Beckett
  63. Fools of Fortune – William Trevor
  64. La Brava – Elmore Leonard
  65. Waterland – Graham Swift
  66. The Life and Times of Michael K – J.M. Coetzee
  67. The Diary of Jane Somers – Doris Lessing
  68. The Piano Teacher – Elfriede Jelinek
  69. The Sorrow of Belgium – Hugo Claus
  70. If Not Now, When? – Primo Levi
  71. A Boy’s Own Story – Edmund White
  72. The Color Purple – Alice Walker
  73. Wittgenstein’s Nephew – Thomas Bernhard
  74. A Pale View of Hills – Kazuo Ishiguro
  75. Schindler’s Ark – Thomas Keneally
  76. The House of the Spirits – Isabel Allende
  77. The Newton Letter – John Banville
  78. On the Black Hill – Bruce Chatwin
  79. Concrete – Thomas Bernhard
  80. The Names – Don DeLillo
  81. Rabbit is Rich – John Updike
  82. Lanark: A Life in Four Books – Alasdair Gray
  83. The Comfort of Strangers – Ian McEwan
  84. July’s People – Nadine Gordimer
  85. Summer in Baden-Baden – Leonid Tsypkin
  86. Broken April – Ismail Kadare
  87. Waiting for the Barbarians – J.M. Coetzee My first introduction to Coetzee in AP English. We also read Disgraced, which I rushed. 
  88. Midnight’s Children – Salman Rushdie
  89. Rites of Passage – William Golding
  90. Rituals – Cees Nooteboom
  91. Confederacy of Dunces – John Kennedy Toole
  92. City Primeval – Elmore Leonard
  93. The Name of the Rose – Umberto Eco
  94. The Book of Laughter and Forgetting – Milan Kundera
  95. Smiley’s People – John Le Carré
  96. Shikasta – Doris Lessing
  97. A Bend in the River – V.S. Naipaul
  98. Burger’s Daughter - Nadine Gordimer
  99. The Safety Net – Heinrich Böll
  100. If On a Winter’s Night a Traveler – Italo Calvino

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Gettin' My Cuddle On

For a lot of different reasons, when Lizzie was a baby, we decided to cosleep. It just worked. But then, as she got older, more independent, she moved herself out and into her own space.

And now she's back. It's not every night, and sometimes it's not until the wee hours of the morning (which is convenient for DOH and I, wink, wink, nudge, nudge), but when she climbs up into our bed and snuggles up between us...I can't imagine anything better. Maybe it's because I've been gone so much due to work (something I'm still trying to figure out how I feel about it), but I don't dislike the idea of the "family bed" in the way I thought I might when I first heard about the concept.

But this isn't even really about that.

It's not about a parenting style or choice. It's about having your sweet little one snuggle up next to you, give you kisses and tell you you're, "the best mama." All the cuddling and hugs and kisses and sweet words we missed out over the course of the day are more than made up for in those last moments before sleep. It's about having that physical connection again, especially at an age where you're lucky to get a quick cuddle in before your little Roadrunner sprints off to the next activity.

It's so easy to forget, as we play with and take care of our kiddos, day in and day out, that they're growing, and that they will soon become even less and less available for those squeezy tight hugs and extra wet and earnest kisses.

The things I love best about my daughter will constantly change, but one that never will is her cuddled up next to me, sleeping soundly, knowing she is safe.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Maybe It's Time to Take Care of those Library Fees...

Agh! Just one book! And I feel like such a loser for not having read Hitchhiker.
  1. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams
  2. The Cement Garden – Ian McEwan
  3. The World According to Garp – John Irving
  4. Life: A User’s Manual – Georges Perec
  5. The Sea, The Sea – Iris Murdoch
  6. The Singapore Grip – J.G. Farrell
  7. Yes – Thomas Bernhard
  8. The Virgin in the Garden – A.S. Byatt
  9. In the Heart of the Country – J.M. Coetzee
  10. The Passion of New Eve – Angela Carter
  11. Delta of Venus – Anaïs Nin
  12. The Shining – Stephen King
  13. Dispatches – Michael Herr
  14. Petals of Blood – Ngugi Wa Thiong’o
  15. Song of Solomon – Toni Morrison
  16. The Hour of the Star – Clarice Lispector
  17. The Left-Handed Woman – Peter Handke
  18. Ratner’s Star – Don DeLillo
  19. The Public Burning – Robert Coover
  20. Interview With the Vampire – Anne Rice
  21. Cutter and Bone – Newton Thornburg
  22. Amateurs – Donald Barthelme
  23. Patterns of Childhood – Christa Wolf
  24. Autumn of the Patriarch – Gabriel García Márquez
  25. W, or the Memory of Childhood – Georges Perec
  26. A Dance to the Music of Time – Anthony Powell
  27. Grimus – Salman Rushdie
  28. The Dead Father – Donald Barthelme
  29. Fateless – Imre Kertész
  30. Willard and His Bowling Trophies – Richard Brautigan
  31. High Rise – J.G. Ballard
  32. Humboldt’s Gift – Saul Bellow
  33. Dead Babies – Martin Amis
  34. Correction – Thomas Bernhard
  35. Ragtime – E.L. Doctorow
  36. The Fan Man – William Kotzwinkle
  37. Dusklands – J.M. Coetzee
  38. The Lost Honor of Katharina Blum – Heinrich Böll
  39. Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy – John Le Carré
  40. Breakfast of Champions – Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.
  41. Fear of Flying – Erica Jong
  42. A Question of Power – Bessie Head
  43. The Siege of Krishnapur – J.G. Farrell
  44. The Castle of Crossed Destinies – Italo Calvino
  45. Crash – J.G. Ballard
  46. The Honorary Consul – Graham Greene
  47. Gravity’s Rainbow – Thomas Pynchon
  48. The Black Prince – Iris Murdoch
  49. Sula – Toni Morrison
  50. Invisible Cities – Italo Calvino
  51. The Breast – Philip Roth
  52. The Summer Book – Tove Jansson
  53. G – John Berger
  54. Surfacing – Margaret Atwood
  55. House Mother Normal – B.S. Johnson
  56. In A Free State – V.S. Naipaul
  57. The Book of Daniel – E.L. Doctorow
  58. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas – Hunter S. Thompson
  59. Group Portrait With Lady – Heinrich Böll
  60. The Wild Boys – William Burroughs
  61. Rabbit Redux – John Updike
  62. The Sea of Fertility – Yukio Mishima
  63. The Driver’s Seat – Muriel Spark
  64. The Ogre – Michael Tournier
  65. The Bluest Eye – Toni Morrison
  66. Goalie’s Anxiety at the Penalty Kick – Peter Handke
  67. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings – Maya Angelou
  68. Mercier et Camier – Samuel Beckett
  69. Troubles – J.G. Farrell
  70. Jahrestage – Uwe Johnson
  71. The Atrocity Exhibition – J.G. Ballard
  72. Tent of Miracles – Jorge Amado
  73. Pricksongs and Descants – Robert Coover
  74. Blind Man With a Pistol – Chester Hines
  75. Slaughterhouse-five – Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. There was an awesome inside joke in my AP English class regarding this book.
  76. The French Lieutenant’s Woman – John Fowles
  77. The Green Man – Kingsley Amis
  78. Portnoy’s Complaint – Philip Roth
  79. The Godfather – Mario Puzo
  80. Ada – Vladimir Nabokov
  81. Them – Joyce Carol Oates
  82. A Void/Avoid – Georges Perec
  83. Eva Trout – Elizabeth Bowen
  84. Myra Breckinridge – Gore Vidal
  85. The Nice and the Good – Iris Murdoch
  86. Belle du Seigneur – Albert Cohen
  87. Cancer Ward – Aleksandr Isayevich Solzhenitsyn
  88. The First Circle – Aleksandr Isayevich Solzhenitsyn
  89. 2001: A Space Odyssey – Arthur C. Clarke
  90. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? – Philip K. Dick
  91. Dark as the Grave Wherein My Friend is Laid – Malcolm Lowry
  92. The German Lesson – Siegfried Lenz
  93. In Watermelon Sugar – Richard Brautigan
  94. A Kestrel for a Knave – Barry Hines
  95. The Quest for Christa T. – Christa Wolf
  96. Chocky – John Wyndham
  97. The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test – Tom Wolfe
  98. The Cubs and Other Stories – Mario Vargas Llosa
  99. One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel García Márquez
  100. The Master and Margarita – Mikhail Bulgakov
  101. Pilgrimage – Dorothy Richardson

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Why A Kindle Might Be a Good Investment

Here is the next hundred book segment from the list of "1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die". I'm really embarrassed to say I haven't read ANY of the books on this list. I've read quite a bit of Margaret Atwood's books, the same with Ian McEwan, but I haven't gotten to the novels listed here. I also own Thomas Pynchon's novel Vineland, but I haven't gotten around to cracking it open. 
  1. Silk – Alessandro Baricco
  2. Cocaine Nights – J.G. Ballard
  3. Hallucinating Foucault – Patricia Duncker
  4. Fugitive Pieces – Anne Michaels
  5. The Ghost Road – Pat Barker
  6. Forever a Stranger – Hella Haasse
  7. Infinite Jest – David Foster Wallace
  8. The Clay Machine-Gun – Victor Pelevin
  9. Alias Grace – Margaret Atwood
  10. The Unconsoled – Kazuo Ishiguro
  11. Morvern Callar – Alan Warner
  12. The Information – Martin Amis
  13. The Moor’s Last Sigh – Salman Rushdie
  14. Sabbath’s Theater – Philip Roth
  15. The Rings of Saturn – W.G. Sebald
  16. The Reader – Bernhard Schlink
  17. A Fine Balance – Rohinton Mistry
  18. Love’s Work – Gillian Rose
  19. The End of the Story – Lydia Davis
  20. Mr. Vertigo – Paul Auster
  21. The Folding Star – Alan Hollinghurst
  22. Whatever – Michel Houellebecq
  23. Land – Park Kyong-ni
  24. The Master of Petersburg – J.M. Coetzee
  25. The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle – Haruki Murakami
  26. Pereira Declares: A Testimony – Antonio Tabucchi
  27. City Sister Silver – Jàchym Topol
  28. How Late It Was, How Late – James Kelman
  29. Captain Corelli’s Mandolin – Louis de Bernieres
  30. Felicia’s Journey – William Trevor
  31. Disappearance – David Dabydeen
  32. The Invention of Curried Sausage – Uwe Timm
  33. The Shipping News – E. Annie Proulx
  34. Trainspotting – Irvine Welsh
  35. Birdsong – Sebastian Faulks
  36. Looking for the Possible Dance – A.L. Kennedy
  37. Operation Shylock – Philip Roth
  38. Complicity – Iain Banks
  39. On Love – Alain de Botton
  40. What a Carve Up! – Jonathan Coe
  41. A Suitable Boy – Vikram Seth
  42. The Stone Diaries – Carol Shields
  43. The Virgin Suicides – Jeffrey Eugenides
  44. The House of Doctor Dee – Peter Ackroyd
  45. The Robber Bride – Margaret Atwood
  46. The Emigrants – W.G. Sebald
  47. The Secret History – Donna Tartt
  48. Life is a Caravanserai – Emine Özdamar
  49. The Discovery of Heaven – Harry Mulisch
  50. A Heart So White – Javier Marias
  51. Possessing the Secret of Joy – Alice Walker
  52. Indigo – Marina Warner
  53. The Crow Road – Iain Banks
  54. Written on the Body – Jeanette Winterson
  55. Jazz – Toni Morrison
  56. The English Patient – Michael Ondaatje
  57. Smilla’s Sense of Snow – Peter Høeg
  58. The Butcher Boy – Patrick McCabe
  59. Black Water – Joyce Carol Oates
  60. The Heather Blazing – Colm Tóibín
  61. Asphodel – H.D. (Hilda Doolittle)
  62. Black Dogs – Ian McEwan
  63. Hideous Kinky – Esther Freud
  64. Arcadia – Jim Crace
  65. Wild Swans – Jung Chang
  66. American Psycho – Bret Easton Ellis
  67. Time’s Arrow – Martin Amis
  68. Mao II – Don DeLillo
  69. Typical – Padgett Powell
  70. Regeneration – Pat Barker
  71. Downriver – Iain Sinclair
  72. Señor Vivo and the Coca Lord – Louis de Bernieres
  73. Wise Children – Angela Carter
  74. Get Shorty – Elmore Leonard
  75. Amongst Women – John McGahern
  76. Vineland – Thomas Pynchon
  77. Vertigo – W.G. Sebald
  78. Stone Junction – Jim Dodge
  79. The Music of Chance – Paul Auster
  80. The Things They Carried – Tim O’Brien
  81. A Home at the End of the World – Michael Cunningham
  82. Like Life – Lorrie Moore
  83. Possession – A.S. Byatt
  84. The Buddha of Suburbia – Hanif Kureishi
  85. The Midnight Examiner – William Kotzwinkle
  86. A Disaffection – James Kelman
  87. Sexing the Cherry – Jeanette Winterson
  88. Moon Palace – Paul Auster
  89. Billy Bathgate – E.L. Doctorow
  90. Remains of the Day – Kazuo Ishiguro
  91. The Melancholy of Resistance – László Krasznahorkai
  92. The Temple of My Familiar – Alice Walker
  93. The Trick is to Keep Breathing – Janice Galloway
  94. The History of the Siege of Lisbon – José Saramago
  95. Like Water for Chocolate – Laura Esquivel
  96. A Prayer for Owen Meany – John Irving
  97. London Fields – Martin Amis
  98. The Book of Evidence – John Banville
  99. Cat’s Eye – Margaret Atwood
  100. Foucault’s Pendulum – Umberto Eco

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

All I Wanna Read is You

On Pinterest I found a link to a list of 1001 books you must read before you die. I have no real idea who started the list and whether or not they have any authority in saying what are must reads, but the books that are the list (or what I've read of the list thus far) that I'm familiar with are all pretty amazing books. Anyway, I've decided to go through the list in segments, see what I've read, and then maybe add some more books to my list of "Wanna Reads" (as if I need any more). Finally a simple and fun project that can be quickly/easily accomplished (you'll notice I've offed my other two projects--there's just no time to record everything I'm doing in those two areas!). 

Here is the first 100: 
  1. 2000s
  2. Never Let Me Go – Kazuo Ishiguro
  3. Saturday – Ian McEwan One of my fave McEwan novels
  4. On Beauty – Zadie Smith
  5. Slow Man – J.M. Coetzee
  6. Adjunct: An Undigest – Peter Manson
  7. The Sea – John Banville
  8. The Red Queen – Margaret Drabble
  9. The Plot Against America – Philip Roth Fascinating
  10. The Master – Colm Tóibín
  11. Vanishing Point – David Markson
  12. The Lambs of London – Peter Ackroyd
  13. Dining on Stones – Iain Sinclair
  14. Cloud Atlas – David Mitchell
  15. Drop City – T. Coraghessan Boyle
  16. The Colour – Rose Tremain
  17. Thursbitch – Alan Garner
  18. The Light of Day – Graham Swift
  19. What I Loved – Siri Hustvedt
  20. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time – Mark Haddon If you know anyone on "The Spectrum", this is a great read.
  21. Islands – Dan Sleigh
  22. Elizabeth Costello – J.M. Coetzee
  23. London Orbital – Iain Sinclair
  24. Family Matters – Rohinton Mistry
  25. Fingersmith – Sarah Waters
  26. The Double – José Saramago
  27. Everything is Illuminated – Jonathan Safran Foer
  28. Unless – Carol Shields
  29. Kafka on the Shore – Haruki Murakami
  30. The Story of Lucy Gault – William Trevor
  31. That They May Face the Rising Sun – John McGahern
  32. In the Forest – Edna O’Brien
  33. Shroud – John Banville
  34. Middlesex – Jeffrey Eugenides
  35. Youth – J.M. Coetzee
  36. Dead Air – Iain Banks
  37. Nowhere Man – Aleksandar Hemon
  38. The Book of Illusions – Paul Auster
  39. Gabriel’s Gift – Hanif Kureishi
  40. Austerlitz – W.G. Sebald
  41. Platform – Michael Houellebecq
  42. Schooling – Heather McGowan
  43. Atonement – Ian McEwan The end made me ball my eyes out
  44. The Corrections – Jonathan Franzen
  45. Don’t Move – Margaret Mazzantini
  46. The Body Artist – Don DeLillo
  47. Fury – Salman Rushdie
  48. At Swim, Two Boys – Jamie O’Neill
  49. Choke – Chuck Palahniuk
  50. Life of Pi – Yann Martel
  51. The Feast of the Goat – Mario Vargos Llosa
  52. An Obedient Father – Akhil Sharma
  53. The Devil and Miss Prym – Paulo Coelho
  54. Spring Flowers, Spring Frost – Ismail Kadare
  55. White Teeth – Zadie Smith
  56. The Heart of Redness – Zakes Mda
  57. Under the Skin – Michel Faber
  58. Ignorance – Milan Kundera
  59. Nineteen Seventy Seven – David Peace
  60. Celestial Harmonies – Péter Esterházy
  61. City of God – E.L. Doctorow
  62. How the Dead Live – Will Self
  63. The Human Stain – Philip Roth
  64. The Blind Assassin – Margaret Atwood Margaret Atwood is my hero, and this book rocks my socks
  65. After the Quake – Haruki Murakami
  66. Small Remedies – Shashi Deshpande
  67. Super-Cannes – J.G. Ballard
  68. House of Leaves – Mark Z. Danielewski
  69. Blonde – Joyce Carol Oates
  70. Pastoralia – George Saunders
  71. 1900s
  72. Timbuktu – Paul Auster
  73. The Romantics – Pankaj Mishra
  74. Cryptonomicon – Neal Stephenson
  75. As If I Am Not There – Slavenka Drakuli?
  76. Everything You Need – A.L. Kennedy
  77. Fear and Trembling – Amélie Nothomb
  78. The Ground Beneath Her Feet – Salman Rushdie
  79. Disgrace – J.M. Coetzee I loved this book
  80. Sputnik Sweetheart – Haruki Murakami
  81. Elementary Particles – Michel Houellebecq
  82. Intimacy – Hanif Kureishi
  83. Amsterdam – Ian McEwan
  84. Cloudsplitter – Russell Banks
  85. All Souls Day – Cees Nooteboom
  86. The Talk of the Town – Ardal O’Hanlon
  87. Tipping the Velvet – Sarah Waters
  88. The Poisonwood Bible – Barbara Kingsolver
  89. Glamorama – Bret Easton Ellis
  90. Another World – Pat Barker
  91. The Hours – Michael Cunningham
  92. Veronika Decides to Die – Paulo Coelho
  93. Mason & Dixon – Thomas Pynchon
  94. The God of Small Things – Arundhati Roy
  95. Memoirs of a Geisha – Arthur Golden
  96. Great Apes – Will Self
  97. Enduring Love – Ian McEwan
  98. Underworld – Don DeLillo
  99. Jack Maggs – Peter Carey
  100. The Life of Insects – Victor Pelevin
  101. American Pastoral – Philip Roth
  102. The Untouchable – John Banville

Monday, November 7, 2011

Hanging In There

You may or may not have realized this, but work, apparently, takes up a lot of time. Like, a lot. As does parenting a small child (and dog). Thankfully I'm currently only a part-time wife due to DOH's intense work schedule, leading me to seeing him, like, never. However, I still wind up cleaning up his crap...hmmm... (You'd think with only half the wifely duties I'd only have to clean up half the mess.)

And speaking of messes, there is my house. Or, the house underneath the mess that currently occupies it (Occupy Wall Street, you've got nothing on my dirty laundry). I'm feeling slightly overwhelmed. No body enjoys coming home to a disaster each day, but, also, no enjoys cleaning up a disaster when they've been up since 5:30 AM and aren't getting home until 5 PM. I'm sort of feeling like I'm fighting a battle, and a battle that I'm losing badly.

Now, of course, I tell myself that maybe more would be accomplished if I didn't spend so much time, you know, going on Pinterest (and thereby somehow feeling like a productive person without actually having to do anything) or Facebooking. But, of course, both of those activities require limited energy and I can still play babies with Lizzie at the same time (for the record, I do not Facebook or pin stuff the entire time I play with my kid...just most of it). Plus, I can't cut out the real quality time I spend with my daughter and husband (when he's actually around). The bedtime routine is crucial on so many levels, including ensuring that my kiddo actually sleeps. Cooking and eating a vaguely wholesome dinner is important, too. Even if we can't all make it to the table at the same time, it's nice to have a meal and to sit down and eat and and talk to one another. Those both take up a lot of our evening time (and forget the morning--I'm all ready running around like a crazy person).

I'm just feeling as though I don't have time to do anything else that matters to me. In addition to, like, wanting to clean the house, I'd love to do some projects around here, too. Like finally wallpapering and/or painting the downstairs and upstairs bathroom and hallway. Or working the piece my mom and I started together (super cool, but totally top secret). Or sewing the advent calendar I want to be finished in time for December 1st (yeah, good luck with that one). OR actually writing here, on my blog. There is a whole huge list of things I'd like to be doing but am having limited luck doing. It sorta blows.

Well, before I take up more crucial moments of actual energy, I should go do something...else.

Is anyone else feeling like their precious time has been sucked up by some sort of vortex. (And have I asked this question before? Clearly I need better time management.)
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