Monday, July 30, 2012

Monday Confessions: Typing is difficult for me, today.



I confess...that I'm often the type of person who can't take steps backwards. I have always needed to plunge forward...but that's making things a bit rough right now.

I confess...that I had one heck of a Sunday Funday yesterday, and I only regret that in doing so I'm pretty sure I broke my left ring finger.

I confess...that despite the above, I still tried to row this morning and that was NOT a good idea. Ouch.

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Saturday, July 28, 2012

Book Review: Time's Last Gift by Philip Jose Farmer

Time's Last Gift is, above all, a quick and interesting read. I feel the need to get that statement out of the way first, because while I liked the general idea of this novel[la], I'm not so sure I cared for the book as a whole. Quite often the writing style seemed overly simplistic, and considering that this is a reprint I must say that the number of typographical errors was unfortunately high enough to be seriously distracting.

To return to my thoughts on the story itself, though, while Gribardsun's character was certainly well-written, at times the other three time travelers - especially von Billman - seemed to be simply "filler" characters. Of course, in my opinion the use of filler material was the only thing that made Time's Last Gift a novel when it really could - and probably should - have been a short story.

That said, the time travel and anthropological ideas that appear in Time's Last Gift are definitely the best developed aspects of the book and make it worth a read in and of themselves. As for the edition that I read - the new Titan Books release - I highly recommend it, especially for first-time readers of Farmer. The Afterward and the Timeline included at the end of the book (along with the Epilogue, which was not in the very first publication of Time's Last Gift) are definitely worthy additions and, for me at least, went a long way toward opening up the "Wold Newton Universe" that Time's Last Gift is a part of.

In conclusion, while I would rate the book/story only about 2/5 stars, if you are a Farmer fan or if you are interested in time travel novels I say give it a try and take away your own opinion :)

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Thursday, July 26, 2012

If you *really* knew me...

Well, I've been in a bit of a blogging slump lately (can't you tell, considering I post the same three days of the week, every week, and two of the three posts that I make are always Monday Confessions and Writer's Block Wednesday?) so when I saw a few of these "If you really knew me" posts on my dashboard I figured I'd give it a go ;)

If you *really* knew me, you'd know...

I'm allergic to penicillin, and yes, it's a pain in the you-know-what. I'm also allergic to most shower gels, bubble baths, and basically any kind of bar soap that has a ton of scent or whatever added to it. All of which also suck.

I lose interest - in hobbies, tasks, and especially relationships - very, very quickly. ADHD is a big cause of this, of course, but I think there are other factors too. Regardless, I can get really into something or someone really fast and spend months obsessing over it/them...but then I'll wake up one day and BAM! the interest is gone and there's really nothing I or anyone else can do about it. At times this is an awesome trait...at other times...well. I'll just leave that there.

I thought I was a dog person when I was younger, though I did love cats as well...and then I raised a puppy on my own while I also had two cats that I'd raised from kittens. So for a while I thought that I was actually a cat person. I mean hey, they're so much easier to take care of! But then, along came Miss Wendy...and now - as much as I love my cats - I'm firmly entrenched in the dog lover category again ;)


I will never understand people who take the same. exact. vacations. every. single. year. Don't get me wrong...I always love a trip to Vegas (duh!) or Orlando (obviously!)...but if I *had* to choose between returning to one of those places and going somewhere I'd never been, I'd choose the latter.

I do not forgive those who have wronged me very easily or quickly. The last time I was able to do so, it took nearly 4 years of removal from the situation, life changes on the part of both myself and the person who hurt me, and what was very obviously true remorse on her part for me to "forgive and forget".

For most of my life, I didn't believe that a person could have a soul mate. I thought it was an archaic and silly idea. While I still don't think that humans are meant to be completely and totally monogamous (I'm sorry, it's just not in our natures), I can't imagine ever truly being with anyone other than Steve. Because yeah, since not quite four years ago we've totally known that we are soul mates...and we probably would have known it sooner if other, err, things, hadn't gotten in the way.

2005. He's always been able to make me crack up like that.
2008. He embraces my piratical side :)
2012. He steals hotel bathrobes with me.

If you include college dorms, I've lived in 5 different states and had 12 different addresses. (Though technically it's more than that because I'm counting the three different apartments I had at Vista Way as one address, and I'm not counting the two times I moved back home with my parents for a couple months here and there. If I did, that 12 would actually be 16!)

I go through phases regarding whether or not I want children...but most often I'm in the "wow, never, I couldn't handle them" mindset.

...though to be honest, this little CC Bear - my sister Christy's 11-month-old daughter - is the best baby ever and sometimes makes me think twice about the no kids thing.

I bruise really, really easily. I'm generally very healthy and no doctor has ever been able to figure out why I get bruises from the lightest bumps or touches.

The first time I ever sang in front of people other than my family was when I was 8. My dad and I sang "Silent Night" as a duet at church (around Christmastime, obviously). It's...one of the better memories I have in regards to our relationship.

I've owned five cars. None of them have been the same color as any of the others (or the same model, though I did have three Chevrolets sandwiched between two Volkswagens). My absolute favorite, and the one I've had the longest, is my current car - a white VW GTI. It's my baby.

 

I would totally be okay with surviving off pizza (GOOD pizza!) and chocolate chip cookies for-eh-vurr.

When I lived by myself my apartment was spotless. Part of this was because it was small. Another part was because I was never home. But mainly it was because I hate leaving stuff lying around and I hate crumbs or puddles on counters, so I'm constantly picking/wiping up after myself. Unfortunately, I not only hate picking or cleaning up after others, I almost always refuse to do it...which means that when I live with others my home is never as clean as I'd like it to be.

I had a lot of fun in college - perhaps too much - but I was also totally obsessed with my GPA. I graduated with a 3.82 overall and something like a 3.98 or 3.99 in my major due to one freaking history class in which I received a B. And yes, that still rankles me.

(PROOF THAT I HAD FUN IN COLLEGE, DAMMIT...and this is only a small sampling of what really happened!)

Drunk snow angels! (I'm on the left)
AST Pledge overnight
Four words: Rocky. Horror. Picture. Show.
Redheads and Cosmos.
Table dancing at a Sigma Nu party with my little
Last college party...White Trash Bash!

Pretty much all I ever drink (unless I'm you know, drinking drinking) is water. I seriously probably drink WELL over 100 ounces of water a day.

And last but not least...I attract redheads. Or I'm drawn to them. Regardless...

Told you. (I had 7 amazing friends at my bachelorette party...and as you can see, 4 of them were natural redheads!)

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Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Writer's Block Wednesday: 20 things to...avoid?...in your 20s. Part 2.

Well, #7 on this list really threw me for a loop...so enjoy an image-saturated installment of my take on the "20 things every person in their 20s should avoid" article!

6. Relying too much on your parents

I won't lie, my parents put me through college and I'll be forever grateful for that - because I have no student loan debt and I truly feel for my friends who do. And once in a while my mom will offer to take me for a mani-pedi or pay for a Target run (though she probably regrets the latter offer more often than not because we all know how "running to Target for one thing" usually ends)...but I've always been of the independent sort. I've always wanted to know that I can support myself. And yeah, it's a damn good feeling knowing that I can do the latter ;)

The only thing is, my parents have everything. Shoot, the first year I had the money I bought my mom a gift card for a massage for Mother's Day...and she didn't use it for almost a year! So me doing stuff for them is basically impossible. Thankfully I'm pretty darn good at thinking up heartfelt gifts, because those are really the only ones I can give them as again...they have everything else. They deserve it all, though...my parents are seriously some of the best people I know.

I probably couldn't have earned all of those honors cords and medals without my parents' help, no lie.

7. Small Horizons

The best part of the description for this "thing to avoid" is "...you will never have as few attachments and responsibilities as you do now. Travel...'Travel while you’re still young, stupid, and broke.'" It does go on to say that you should travel alone, that you should go away for at least a month, you should visit at least one place on the State Department's Travel Advisory List...etc. Honestly...that's not for everyone! 

And by "that's not for everyone" I kinda mean that it's not really for me, haha. I simply prefer the company of others to being by myself, especially when traveling (seriously, traveling in groups is always more fun). I'd love to visit one of those places on the Travel Advisory List, but sometimes it's just more feasible to stay safe. And besides, in my 20s I...

Went skiing and dog sledding in Wyoming...

Spent an entire day drinking Mint Juleps in Louisville, Kentucky...

Went bicycle riding in Holland...

Took a cable car to the top of the Aiguille du Midi in Chamonix, France...

Experienced broad daylight at 11-o-clock at night in Denali National Park, Alaska...

Drank around the World at EPCOT ***15*** times!

Took eight amazing trips to Las Vegas...

Experienced about six days of camping in the mountains in Massachusetts...in weather that was constantly rainy and cold.

Laid over a sailboat on the coast of Maine...

Went to New Orleans during Mardi Gras season and happened to catch the Saints winning the Superbowl at a bar on Bourbon Street. With locals. And cops.

...aaand then watched the Cubs lose a game at Wrigley Field (big surprise...heh)

Got stuck in Michigan and had to sleep in the most ghetto hotel ever in Detroit with these two guys that I'd literally met the day before at a mutual friend's wedding...

...did oodles of touristy crap in San Fransisco, including playing the Full House theme on Steve's phone while running around Alamo Square like eejits...

Mastered the U-Bahn and S-Bahn in Berlin...

...had one of the most ridiculous, insane and memorable nights of my life in Prague by going to a black light theater show, eating dinner in a former catacomb, dancing the night away at "THE BIGGEST CLUB IN CENTRAL EUROPE" (it had FIVE FLOORS! lol) and hearing the angels sing in the Old Town Square (okay, that one is a personal joke).

Spent a night drinking wine and watching an opera film on a big screen in front of the Rathaus in Vienna...

Drank Kufola in Bratislava...

Bought alcohol in a store in a subway station in Budapest...and then drank it.

Watched the Glockenspiel at noon in Munich...

Whiled away an afternoon on the Cours Mirabeau in Aix-en-Provence, drinking wine, eating Croque Monsieurs and Creme Brulee, and reading.

Hopped off a trail to ski some glades (stupidly, but bravely) in the first ever ski resort the US ever boasted - Sun Valley, Idaho!

Experienced Savannah, Georgia's infamous St. Patrick's Day celebration...

Oh yeah, and visited the Caribbean several times, experiencing cenotes and the Belize reef and climbing waterfalls in Jamaica and horseback riding in the ocean and spending the day on a private island and swimming with sting rays and sea turtles...the latter of which was probably one of the most amazing things I've ever done (the sea turtles, I mean).

And now this has gotten far too long, so stay tuned for next week's installment, which will include three of the things to avoid that should have been posted this week ;)
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Monday, July 23, 2012

Monday Confessions...nothing overly positive this week. Oops.



I confess...that I made a two decisions yesterday, one of which I went through with and immediately wanted to take back, the other of which I didn't go through with yet probably should have. Meh, I'm a mess lately :-/

I confess...that I meant to make a Sunday Funday post yesterday and then didn't have time! Maybe this coming Sunday...we'll see :)

I confess...that I procrastinated buying plane tickets for a bachelorette party I'm going to next month, and though I got a slightly better price on them the flight times really suck. that's what I get for procrastinating, which I basically NEVER do when travel is involved :-/

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Friday, July 20, 2012

Series Review: The Gracelin O'Malley Trilogy by Ann Moore

I am truly torn as to what to say about this series and how to rate it.

To be honest, the story is a bit predictable and cliche. I didn't really feel the romance or love between the characters who were obviously supposed to be the picture of those things. And the Irish tone of the first novel especially - the style of language and whatnot - seemed forced, especially at the beginning. That said, I absolutely suggest this particular if you are interested in Ireland and even more so, if you are interested in nineteenth century Irish history.

However - and this is a big however - while predictable, the series is not boring. The ending of the first installment, Gracelin O'Malley, isn't all sugar and kisses, which is a nice change. And Gracelin's story is certainly able to evoke some strong emotions. It has been a long time since I found myself choking up while reading a book - especially numerous times, and especially throughout an entire series.

A quick note: It would behoove the reader to keep in mind the culture and time period in which the novel is taking place; personally I had to remind myself of this numerous times because Gracelin's attitude toward her Irish lord husband and about their questionable marriage would otherwise be quite maddening when held up to modern beliefs and opinions.

To be completely honest, quite some time passed between my reading Gracelin O'Malley and picking up the second and third books, Leaving Ireland and 'Til Morning Light. Therefore, I can't recall if the writing style was the same in all three novels - but I must admit that I didn't care for the constant jumping around between point of views (after this referred to as POVs), and I think that many of those POVs were unnecessary. I might have been more understanding if the POVs were relegated to a few important characters, but they spread out across almost any character that had more than two mentions in a book.

While the settings of New York City (in Leaving Ireland) and San Fransisco (in 'Til Morning Light) are interesting in their own rights, they're no Ireland ;) The change of settings, combined with the ridiculous number of POVs and the fact that the series ended wrapped in a far too perfect package left me with a bit of a bad taste in my mouth in regards to the overall quality of the trilogy (but most especially the second and third installments).

One final issue - while I understand that the author wanted there to be a significant passage of time between the end of Leaving Ireland and the beginning of 'Til Morning Light, it seemed a bit unnecessary to me that so much of the latter be devoted to tales of what happened in that time period. If anything Ms. Moore should have stuck with the story that they spent the year traveling and that's that rather than describing adventures all over the United States...unless of course she wanted to insert another novel between Leaving Ireland and 'Til Morning Light.

In conclusion, I would rate Gracelin O'Malley 3.5/5 stars, while Leaving Ireland and 'Til Morning Light are probably more in the 2.5/5 star range. I can't say enough that the series as a whole is predictable; but it's also heartwarming and certainly a feel-good set of novels :)
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Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Writer's Block Wednesday: 20 things to...avoid?...in your 20s. Part 1.

This is another one of those articles "so many things" articles, but in this case apparently those things are things you should avoid. Twenty of them, in fact. I've decided to weigh in on them because honestly...some of them are extremely obvious, while others are a bit...I don't know, unnecessary, maybe? I'm going to jump right in with the first five!

1. Rushing

I find it funny that the article used the quote "Stop. Collaborate. Listen." Umm...okay?

While I agree that it's always a good idea to take time for yourself, to take time to appreciate the positive, to breathe, as it were...I can't say that I completely agree with the whole idea that people in their 20s try to do too much. I'm fast approaching 30 and there are still things I've never done, never finished, and yet I've rushed with the best of them...but I've also taken too much time for myself, here and there. Entire days when I did nothing but play on the internet and watch crap - literally - on television. And if I hadn't rushed a lot - at times too much, but in general just the normal amount for someone my age, I would say -  there's so much I wouldn't have experienced.

For instance, if I hadn't rushed to do my college program at 18, then rushed to get back there as a manager at 23, I never would have met some of my best friends...


2. The Gimmes

This particular entry in the list insists that you should set aside money from every paycheck and time every week for a cause you believe in. I can't claim to have done either one of those things, but when I have extra money it goes to something I believe in - animal rescue - and I spend time every single day with two dogs that I rescued. At times I have volunteered outside of that, but honestly the one thing the person who wrote this list doesn't seem to understand is that every little bit counts, and I know I've made a difference in the lives of Wendy and Rigby...that's my cause, that's what I chose, that's what matters to me.


3. Cliques

I don't think I had a problem with cliques in my 20s? I joined a sorority, but we were notoriously accepting (which harmed us more often than not) and when the sisters tried to not be accepting of one particular possible pledge (look at that alliteration!) I gave them what for. That said, once I was out of college I distanced myself from that scene anyway because as much as *I* wasn't clique-y when I was in my sorority, other people were and I had no desire to deal with that.

AST original Turtles ;)
 

4. A low ranking on your own priority list

This I do agree with. While I won't claim that I've always cooked or eaten the healthiest foods, I "gave up" fast food at 19 and though I will eat it a few times a year when traveling or hungover, in general it was a solid and awesome decision. I've also spent far more time being active...running, yoga, rowing, and the like. That's not to say that everything I do is perfectly healthy...but hey, one has to live a little ;) And I definitely look healthier than I did ten years ago...I'm happy with my body!


5. Ignoring your spirituality

This is something I suppose I've failed miserably at, according to the description on the list - I went from believing what my parents believe, almost unquestioningly, to forming...well, I suppose it could be called my own amalgamation of beliefs. I did spend quite a bit of time reading about religion, thinking about religion, even going to church in my early 20s...but I honestly haven't gone since I was maybe 26 and while I think I should go sometime before I turn 30...it probably won't happen. Religion itself has become a major turn-off to me, and spirituality is something that I can explore on my own. That I have explored on my own...just probably not as decisively as this article insists.

Stay tuned for the installment of the next 5 things on the list next week :)
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Monday, July 16, 2012

Monday Confessions



I confess...that I'm a bit tired of the "I'm your BFF and you can tell me anything and I won't judge you...until I get engaged/married at which point I'll question whether I can be friends with you at all" BS. I've gotten it from at least two people in the past 8 years and it's just not cool.

I confess...that I spent the afternoon with my niece and nephew yesterday, and no one except my dogs can make me feel better when I'm having a crappy day than they can :)

I confess...that I pretty much made a you-know-what out of myself Friday night/Saturday morning, and I'm still embarrassed about it :-/

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Saturday, July 14, 2012

A day of bad movies.

Last night was a late one due to a show with Juno and an after party at our house...which meant sleeping half the day away today, and then being lazy and watching movies on HBO. Unfortunately...nothing even halfway decent was on.

And so we ended up catching the tail end of a real classic...

source

...and following it up with this gem...

source
First we got a good laugh over the insanely 90s hair cuts in A Kid in King Arthur's Court. Why, oh why, did 90s kids ever think bowl cuts were a good idea? 

source
I really shouldn't say too much more though, because Steve definitely had a bowl cut back in the day ;)

That said, this movie was filled with actors you'd never see again...and then these two:

source
!!! Kate Winslet and Daniel Craig, you've come so far. :D

I think one of the best things was HBO's description of the movie - how a kid and his "knapsack of goodies" got transported back in time to King Arthur's court. Knapsack? Really? Who in the world uses the term knapsack?

(As you can see, we're clearly very easily amused.)

So, From Justin to Kelly was on immediately after A Kid in King Arthur's Court, and in a day of bad movies how could we pass up this one, which is rated a mere 1.7/10 stars by IMDB users???

I'm honestly not even sure what to say about this flick. I don't know what was worse...the terrible, no good, very bad music...or Kelly Clarkson's outfits.

Steve called this one her "Grimace outfit". (source)
I can't even with this one. (source)
Oh no, wait, I know what was worse...the entire premise of this movie. The script itself. The acting. I could go on and on. Yet we still paused and even recorded this when we stepped away for a while, because it's the type of train wreck you can't help watching. And because Steve wanted to "see if the geeky guy finally got lucky and if the blonde chick got her comeuppance"...haha.

(Seriously though, whoever thought that making this movie would be a good idea has major, major issues.)

What can I say? When you have a night that results in pictures like this...


...sometimes the only thing that can bring you back to reality are movies rife with bad haircuts, knapsacks, and just overall ridiculousness. ;)
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