Wednesday, March 30, 2005

50 Book Challenge

11. The Clique by Lisi Harrison

I generally like young adult fiction but the above kind of sucked. The true crime book I'm currently reading does too. But I'm going to start reading two more books this weekend, one of which is something I've read before, which I'm reading again for book club, and it's a good one, so at least I know I'm guaranteed one good read in the next few days. Although I would still argue I shouldn't have to read something I've already read to read something good. It's annoying that all these books are turning out to be kind of crappy lately :-/
I'm not saying everything with which I've ever festooned a vehicle makes tons of sense or anything, but... why exactly would anyone want to put, on the back of a perfectly nice-looking car, a sticker with a picture of a monkey that says "I Fling Poo"? Is there any logical explanation for this? I think not.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

More for the 50 Book Challenge

9. Final Gifts : Understanding the Special Awareness, Needs, and Communications of the Dying by Maggie Callanan & Patricia Kelley (BC, *)
10. High Fidelity by Nick Hornby (*)

Now I get to pick something new to read! I have a true crime book, a Tuesday Next sci-fi thing, a teen novel, and a couple of other things to choose from...

Saturday, March 19, 2005

This may be a new record in lack-of-blog-updating, even for me. But it's been a busy-ass couple of weeks. Last weekend my friends were here and it was pretty much an eat-, drink-, laugh-, sing- and shop-fest for three or four days. Lots of fun, and we got to spend it with Mr. E, the world's cutest baby! A true humdinger of a Cluckfest.

Some total asshole stole Rachel's bike last weekend. I hope whoever did it gets big painful boils all over their face and private parts.

My friend Janine's mom died on Monday morning. I met her once and she was a lovely, nice lady. I know Janine and her boys are really missing her, and I've been thinking about them pretty much constantly this week.

I managed to chop up the pad of my right index finger when I was trimming the bushes with electric hedgeclippers on Wednesday afternoon. Thanks for Sue for coming over, calming me down, cleaning up the blood I dripped all over the place on the front porch, and driving me to the doctor's office. And to think just the day before, I'd been lecturing her about being too available and dependable for her crazy friends!

Thursday I was part of a committee who interviewed speech therapists for the school district. It was very interesting and I kind of enjoyed it. I'm still curious about how I made the list of special-ed parents who were asked to participate though.

Ryan hurt his tailbone and has been complaining about it a lot this week. I don't blame him -- I've suffered through that particular malady before and it really sucks.

This week I "had it out" with my parents in a pretty major way. We aren't really the kind of family that does that kind of thing, so I gave it a lot of thought beforehand, and then when I did speak to them, I did it by email, which seems kind of wussy, but just thinking about what I wanted to say got me crying so I decided it was best to do it that way. The basic issue is that for several years I've felt like we don't get to spend very much time with them. It seems like they are always doing things with other friends, other relatives, everyone but us, and over the years I've had my feelings hurt over specific incidences of this happening more times than I can remember. I was afraid that my mom wouldn't take it well, but in the end I'm glad I spoke up. Both of my parents agreed that we all don't see each other often enough, and they both assured me that seeing us is as important to them as seeing their friends. I also found out that my mom is really, really stressed over everything that's going on with my grandma right now, and so I feel bad to have dumped my issues on her right now, but on the other hand, now that I know about it, I can step up and do some things to help out, and being left out of these kinds of things has been another frustration of mine. So ultimately I think it's a good thing I spoke up. The kids and I will be going down there to see them tomorrow -- I'm going to help my mom shop for some things for my grandma's new place, and the kids will spend the day with my dad.

On the way down, we will stop in to see my brother's fiance and her sister so I can try on the bridesmaid dress they ordered for me: I'm taking my bag of push-up bras and magic underwear, and hopefully I won't look like a total cow in it!

Okay, two hours is probably long enough to have sat on my ass with the computer...

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

To the Guy I Ran Off the Road This Morning

I'm sorry.

I was turning left. You were going straight and had the right of way. I was paying no attention and just turned right into your path, causing you to swerve up on to the curb and coming to a sudden, rocking stop. You looked terrified and stunned.

It was completely my fault, and I can't apologize enough. If there'd been anywhere for me to stop and lean out the window, I would have called out an apology to you and let you spew profanity at me for a few minutes. But I was behind you and already blocking traffic, so I had to drive on, and I wasn't even able to make eye contact.

It was completely my fault and I suck. I was talking to my friend in the passenger seat and not paying attention to my driving when I should have been. I am so glad you didn't hit anything or get hurt. If someone had done to me what I did to you, I would hate them forever. I hope you tell everyone you see today how some total moron almost killed you this morning, and how they should watch out for the chick in the white minivan.

Again, I'm sorry. I hope the rest of your day goes a lot better.

Saturday, March 05, 2005

50 Book Challenge

I just read about this online challege to read 50 books in a calendar year. Sounds like fun! I read a lot anyway, usually in the range of 1-2 books a week when I'm in a "reading mood," so it's possible I could do double the 50-book goal, but then I let reading go by the wayside quite often as well, so I do think 50 books is a good goal. Being in two book clubs will help with diversity of selection -- otherwise the whole list would probably be made up of true crime books *blushing*

This will be my first entry. Hopefully I can remember pretty much everything I've read so far this year. I will note which ones are book club selections (BC) and which ones I'd recommend (*).
1. The Time Traveller's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger (BC,*)
2. The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell (BC)
3. All She Wanted by Aphrodite Jones
4. The Amateur Marriage by Anne Tyler (BC)
5. The Art of Mending by Elizabeth Berg (BC)
6. Breaking Her Fall by Stephen Goodwin (*)
7. The Sweet Potato Queen's Field Guide to Men by Jill Conner Browne (*)
8. The Birth of Venus by Sarah Dunant (BC)

Right now I'm reading Final Gifts : Understanding the Special Awareness, Needs, and Communications of the Dying by Maggie Callanan & Patricia Kelley, which is also a book club selection. Next will probably be another true crime book.

Thursday, March 03, 2005


Yesterday I yanked another one of his front teeth out, at his request. He said it hurt, but he didn't cry. I have to admit, I'm impressed. Between the tooth-yanking thing him learning to ride his bike (and always recovering quickly on the occasions he falls off), he's been pretty tough lately, and generally that's not a word I would use to describe him.


He's home "sick" today. And sadly, I think I let him stay home in large part because *I* was feeling lazy, and I knew that if both kids went to school, I would have to get dressed, ride my bike to the gym, and take torture (otherwise known as stability ball) class, then after having coffee with Sue, ride my bike home BUT if he stayed, home, I'd get to sit on the couch with my laptop all morning. Which is exactly what I've done. I've *thought* about going out to the car to retrieve my yoga mat and then using it to do my yoga tape, but so far I haven't actually done that. Nor have I paid the bills, something I wouldn't even have to get off the computer to do. Instead I've been sitting here reading random blogs and chatting with my not-so-talkative friends while Will watches TV and fondles himself. Someday that boy will learn to keep his hands out of his pants when others are about. But I suspect it won't be today, because we're both being way too damn lazy for something that productive to occur.

I know I will feel A LOT better about myself after I do something on my mental to-do list, so why is it so hard to actually get moving?

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Autism is a fact of life in our house, and I finally learned to that it was okay to laugh about it, thanks to my friend Judy, who also has a child with autism. When she told me sometimes answered the phone "Judy's House of Autism!" and talked about having "the auties" in the backseat of her car, I busted out laughing. And guess what? The sky didn't fall and no one was struck dead and crispy by a thunder bolt. It doesn't mean I don't take my child's disability seriously, and I'm not making fun of my child -- I'm just finding the occasional silver lining on the cloud. So thanks for that, Judy.

Last night at Bunko, Gerri, a woman I don't know very well but whose husband's softball team played Ryan's last summer, asked me if my daughter was playing softball this spring, and I said no. I don't go around explaining Rachel to the whole world -- for instance, if she says something weird when we're checking out at the grocery store, I don't whisper "she's autistic!" to the checker or anything -- but usually I do mention it to people I'm acquainted with, especially other parents, with whom I talk about parenting things. So I continued, saying she didn't really play team sports, and then, "she has autism." For some weird reason, this met with peals of laughter from my two other friends, Sue and Jeannie, who were sitting there (in their defense, we were all a little drunk), and Sue goes "that's a sport in itself!" And we all cracked up (though Gerri looked a little uncomfortable). Anyway, it was fun. It was nice to be among friends who know my sense of humor and who I know are fond of Rachel but understand our struggles too. Sometimes all you can do is have a laugh, you know?

In related news, yesterday afternoon, Rachel freaked out about doing her homework -- it was very nearly a visit to the "Vortex of Indecision" where we used to go almost every day -- and I thought "oh shit, spring's here!" I made an appointment for her to go to the doctor so we can talk about upping her anti-depressant and get her on an antihistamine. I really hope we can get through the rest of this school year without too much disruption -- I know it's probably too much to hope for for her to do as well as she did last year, in such a structured classroom, but I'm hoping she's matured enough in the last year or two that she at least do better than she did two years ago, when she kept getting sent to the principal's office :-/

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

The Oscars

Yeah, I know, everything there is to be said about the Oscars has already been said, and most people don't care anyway. But I'm going to talk about them because this is my damn blog and I feel like it.

We watch the Oscars every year, and this year I was actually kind of excited about it for a while because it seemed like some actual good movies were nominated for some awards. Then I got sick of all the hype and if Ryan had said to me a few minutes before it started "Let's rent a movie instead," I would have been fine with that. Then the stupid show started and I was glued to the set for the next three hours (except when I went to the store to get some dinner).

General comments: The actresses are all too skinny. Messy hair looks... messy. Dear Renee Zellwegger: have you ever noticed that people start talking about how great you look whenever you're carrying some of that "extra" Bridget Jones weight around and then we are start saying you look like a scarecrow with fish lips when you lose it again? Oh, I don't know -- just thought I'd mention it. I seriously thought Penelope Cruz was Salma Hayak and vice versa, up until the one I thought was Salma left the stage and then Ryan said something about Salma's hair and used the power of Tivo to prove to me that it was Penelope who left the stage. Can't stand either of them so it doesn't make a whole lot of difference, I guess.

Hilary Swank's dress was a cool idea, but the front needed to be executed a lot better for me to give it a thumbs up. I liked her hair though. Take the dress from her first Oscar win and the hair from her second and you've got a pretty awesome look overall. I didn't like the short spiky hair on her the first time around and I liked it even less on Annette Bening this year. Maybe Annette thought that's what made the difference the last time around and adopted it for herself.

I hate to agree with Kathy Griffin's E! Fashion Police opinion about anything, but I thought Imelda Staunton looked pretty awesome too. So did Kate Winslett. So did that actress from "Maria Full of Grace" who was supposed to be so great but who we'll probably never see again. Okay, doesn't Gwyneth Paltrow probably keep, like, a stable of stylists around her, and couldn't one of them make sure she wears a dress that is flattering to her bust to the Oscars one of these days? By my count, we've now seen her wear way too big (the year she won), way too small (this year), and way more than I wanted to see (the year of that black mesh diaster). Aside from that, her hair looked flat and boring. This woman is a fashion icon?

Scarlett Johanssen's hair looked fuzzy to me. Maybe a little less peroxide?

Wait, there were men there? I guess nobody much cares since it's not as fun to ask "who" they're wearing when one tux looks pretty much like all the rest of them. I will say that Johnny Depp looked ridiculous. It's not that much fun to make fun of him for that, though, because "ridiculous" may well have been exactly what he was going for.

I'm not even going to say much about who actually won awards, since I didn't see hardly any of the movies that were nominated. I'm just going to whine about my biggest pet peeve, which is that the two screenplay awards have become more a consolation prize than anything else. It seems like most years there's a movie that gets all kinds of Oscar buzz and is intelligent and usually a comedy, and everyone seems to love it but in the end it's just not as big and flashy and dramatic as the eventual winner, and the next thing you know, the smaller buzzworthy movie has lost all the acting awards, and director and best picture -- forget it -- but the screenwriter goes home with a little gold guy and hey, that's a prestigious one too, right? Only -- come on. How many times has this happened? This year it was *twice* -- people peed themselves over "Sideways" and "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind" (both comedies, it must be noted), and they got all kinds of press and have won all kinds of other awards prior to the Oscars, but on the big night -- oh, sorry, we don't want you to go home empty-handed, so here's the writing prize. Last year, I didn't begrudge "Lord of the Rings" a single award it won and I didn't even like "Lost in Translation" all that much, but it was the same story -- one was big and one was little. And the most egregious example I can think of was the year that big bloated piece of crap "Titanic" won almost everything it was nominated for (it wasn't even nominated in the Original Screenplay category, which to me is evidence that there may be a God) while "L.A. Confidential" went home with a screenplay award and Best Supporting Actress for Kim Basinger (!?!).

Don't get me wrong -- I absolutely think the screenplay awards *should* be prestigious. If I were to win an Oscar, a screenplay award is the one I would want to win, and the films that win them do tend to be really well written, so at least there is some justice there.I'm glad Charlie Kaufman won an Oscar because the guy is just brilliant -- he writes some of the only movies I've ever seen where I sit there halfway through them thinking "I have absolutely no idea what's going to happen next!" I was similarly happy when whoever adapted "Sideways" won, because that movie was incredibly funny.

The problem is that both of those movies deserved to win other awards too, not just the consolation prize. I think the fact that these really cool but not big and flashy enough movies win screenplay awards but not usually much else, even if they get tons of nominations, is symptom of just about everything that's wrong with movie-making these days. For me, it all begins and ends with the script -- I don't care if the scenery and special effects are any good if I don't buy the storyline, and the most brilliant acting performance just suffocates under the weight of bad dialogue. I probably sound elitest and all, but I don't care. Drama or comedy, it has been be well-written if it's going to get my stamp of approval. And in my perfect world, the screenplay awards would be the most important awards they gave out.

Anyway, those are my Oscar thoughts. Or the ones I can think of right now, anyway.