Saturday, June 30, 2007

Book Review and A Little Bonus

As rad as Ghost World by Daniel Clowes is, I think I would have enjoyed reading it more back in high school or undergrad.

Or maybe I just don't like the way it makes me feel about post high-school life--too many memories--good & bad.

Four Hello Kittys.


I'm lucky to have a very talented hubby, who I love very much!


New obsession: GoodReads

As you probably guessed, you can find me under Hellokitty.


It's exhausting uploading my whole library. I've just included my favs and recent reads. One of these days I get my whole library on there...

Then and Now

Friday, June 29, 2007

It Was A Good Day

I just realized that I have read 20 books this summer thus far.

I called to FD from my office, and told him. He said, "You're a machine, my little bird."


We saw an incredible sunset this evening. I took some pics. Perhaps I will post them sometime soon.


I found the Juliana Hatfield Three cd I've been looking for. It's at our university library, on the music listening floor--my new favorite floor (imagine single vinyls hanging from the ceiling, purple walls with musician posters, and pink lamps--my kind of place). For $1.50 (the cost of a blank CD that works in their machines) they are burning me "My Sister" as well as her EP For the Birds. Needless to say, I'm happy.

I still have to trust strangers, but I feel a little better about that because they are strangers who I know work at our library.


Get this: last night during our late night walk past our beloved City Park, I get a bug between my toes. I stop us to pick it free when FD starts nudging me non-stop. I look up to see a man in amour walking out of the dark shadows of the golf course onto the lighted sidewalk. I stand up. FD and I stare. Medieval cross on chest. Tin-man clank. We were stone-cold sober, I swear.

FD: "Can I ask you why you're dressed in amour?"
Tin-Man: "Jerusalem."
FD and me: "?" (our faces say it all)
TM: "The Holy Wars."
FD and me: "?"
TM: "I'm just fucking with you."
FD and me: "?"
TM: "We have role playing in the park every Thursday night. I'm on my way to El Zarape to meet up with a friend. Try to make it next week to watch."
FD and me: "!"

Then the Tin-Man walked off into the night--in the street by the way--to a restaurant that by foot takes about an hour to get to--with his heavy outfit maybe an hour and a half.

When he was out of sight, we started walking again. After about five minutes FD said, "Cool."

Tin-Man reminded me of my favorite pic I took in Gettysburg of a Civil War re-en-actor walking down a street talking on a cell phone...I might have to post that pic soon.


Tomorrow is the last day of my birthmonth. I have a special treat. Stay tuned.


BTW, the title of this post pays homage to Ice Cube song.


Oh, and I got Sonic Youth's album Sister.


And, finally, if you want to get me a birthmonth present, please make it an iPhone. I actually think I want one more than my Chrome Hearts sunglasses...Oh, I don't know. It's really a toss up...

The Speed of Dark & Fun Home--Two Book Reviews

Elizabeth Moon's The Speed of Dark was a really interesting read about an autistic man, Lou, and his quest to understand his diagnosis and his relationship to the "normal" world. What was compelling to me was the similarities drawn between autism and "normal"--seriously I sometimes thought I could be diagnosed as autistic. My favorite chapter dealt with Lou and his reflections on his church and how God sees him.

My not so favorite things were the ending of this novel, which is a little too perfect for my taste. Also, the notion in the title "the speed of dark" (and light) was referred to way too much in the novel. I felt like I was being hit aside the head each time it was mention--let me rephrase that, each 10 times in every chapter it was mentioned.

I think this book definitely would appeal to those interested in autism, moral dilemmas, and the potential of science in the future as well as those interested in reflecting on what is "normal" in society, which, according this novel and my point of view is a very skewed and really close-minded notion.

I'd give it 3 1/2 Hello Kittys. That repetition of light and dark really ticked me off.


Fun Home by Alison Bechdel is a fantastic graphic novel. The story line is for bookies who especially love Fitzgerald, Wilde, and Joyce. Bechdel does a great job of paying homage to these big dogs and threading them into a contemporary storyline that attempts to come to terms with Bechdel's sexuality and her relationship with her deceased father.

This memoir is riveting in its honesty, intellect, and emotion. Where I think sometimes graphic novels rely too much on the graphics and not enough on the language, Bechdel's narrative is just as strong if not stronger than the illustrations. Her power with language and unwavering ability to connect with literary texts upped the ante for other graphic novelists to focus just as much on the writing as the illustration frames.

I adored Fun Home, but the only drawback was that, at times, it was almost too literary. Sometimes I wanted more personal--I felt like Bechdel sometimes hid behind the literary to get out of the personal.

Regardless, it's a fabulous read!

4 Hello Kittys.

A Glimpse of How Horrible the 80s Were to Me...

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Something Nice to Say. (And Some Silence.)

I've been thinking lately, which is also my favorite song right now by Handsome Boy Modeling School featuring Cat Power.


I realized that lately you, my readers, have been getting very cute pictures of me and book reviews and that's about it. Though, I love both and I hope you love both, I also think you deserve more. Why haven't I been giving you more?


Hons told me in middle school that if I haven't got nice to say, don't say anything at all.

I repeat this saying to myself at least 100 times a day. It's so embedded in my brain now that I'm just silent and sometimes nothing else, even if what I want to say something isn't really that mean.


I've been taking notes lately for my non-fiction essays about my sister. I started my sister project in 2002 in an autobiography class in grad school. Yes, I'm that slow of a writer (and/or that avid of a tv-watcher...) For readers who don't know, my sister is brain-damaged, non-verbal, and my non-fiction pieces revolve around my life as her sibling. Besides the freakshow-ness of Riding the Bus with My Sister (some of you may recall Rosie O'Donnell starring in the tv version), there is a lack of understanding about the mentally disabled from a sibling point of view. I've found research from Sweden, Great Britain, and other countries, but barely any in the US.

This kind of disappoints me.


Watching CNN, I can't think of anything nice to say besides "Paris, I'm glad you're out of jail."

I hate watching the violence of humans against each other and the environment. I don't get it. WTF is wrong with us? I mean war. I mean landfills. I mean being unnecessarily mean.

And as much as I love Fafa and celebrities, why the f is Paris the #1 news story? What about Iraq? What about these youth uprisings in Russia being compared to the Nazis?

What stock do the Hiltons have in CNN?


Recently while scanning the pics from my childhood, I've been noticing that my sister is in them or out of them. Think about your family photos or ones on this blog. There's the edge, right? That half face of a brother, a parent, the wall. In my photos, I realized my sister is never at the edge; she's featured or not included.

Of course, this could mean nothing, but to me as a writer, it means everything.


I want Paris free. ~Free bird.~ And I believe she might do some good now. I know there are skeptics, non-believers, but if she can't change, really who can? I want to believe there is good left in all of us, especially when I can't see the good in humanity as much as when I was younger. You're free, Paris, now prove us all wrong; do good.


The pictures of my sister are all hair, all arms, all torso, all legs. She was skinny as a kid. Now she's round in the middle. She has a little flab in her arms, a little chunk in her legs. What I love, though, is her face is the same.

FD tells me that he loves my face, that my face is the exact same now as it is in my kid photos. He loves the kid pic of me reading. It's how I look, exactly, he says, when I'm reading today on the couch or on my lawn chair while tanning. He says I look like a bird.


To combat my negative feelings toward humanity, I had to do something. Anything that would let me see there is light. There is hope.


Flash of bulbs. Paris runs to hug her mom. Paris smiles. She wears little make-up and looks gorgeous. She looks fresh. Hopeful. Anyone ("retarded," alien, or "normal") can see her face reads happy. We've all felt that happy, even if we won't acknowledge it.


How could I not be disappointed in humanity every now and then? Think about it: people let you down, the government lets you down, Wilco lets you down by selling out to AMC. Really, I'm just following destiny.


Drop an a from my sister's name and you get angel. That's not a coincidence.

She has made me a believer. She has taught me to believe.


So disappointed by humanity, I knew I had to counteract it. I had to do something before I became I total hermit. Seriously, some days I can go without talking, I can stay home, I can choose to not communicate, and I would. If not for cell phones, Facebook, email.

I decided I would thank one person a day for his/her goodness. Sometimes all it takes it recognizing it. And then all it takes is saying it. Saying your really appreciate him/her. Or writing or emailing. And then change. In me. In them. I think we feel a little lighter.

I started with FD. Not fair. Before we go to sleep each night we tell each other our favorite part of the day. I wanted to reach more.

I chose to voice my thanks on the spot or a little after. I chose to thank those I thought would know how I feel but maybe don't. I chose to tell them the life I see in them. I chose to say things that some would say are "weird" or "creepy." I took that risk because saying something "weird" or "creepy" is better than thinking humankind is going to pot. And so what? It's clear by my dress and my attitude that I'm "weird," "creepy." There was nothing to lose.


My sister. "My Sister."

One of my favorite Juliana Hatfield Three songs.

Long ago, I traded that CD for cash. For a car payment. I regret that right now while working on my essays.

I want that song more than anything else. I want that song like sometimes I want to be around my sister. To the point I could cry because I feel so lonely. You might read that as "weird."

But I imagine having that song a light will beam down on me, and I will be able to write a flawless book in one draft and get a book deal. Like I will make sense not only to myself but others. Like I will get a spot on Oprah.

Does anyone have that CD they could burn for me?

Seriously, I'd like to get on Oprah. I really like her. And I think her book club rocks.


Dear Matthea,

I love your poetry. I love your website, especially the photographs of the little things. I can't express how happy/sad they make me.

Thank you.



Facebook Member since 2007

Matthea Harvey
to me

Dear Amanda,

Thanks so much for your email! I'm so happy that the pictures make you
happy/sad--it's a line I like to try and tiptoe along. I'll try to put up
news ones as the months go by... Thanks again for writing.



Become What You Are, the Juliana Hatfield Three album "My Sister" is on, has been discontinued. That means I can only buy used copies.

That means I have to trust a seller on eBay to send me a copy in "good condition."



I was ranking things in my head today, and I thought of this ranking:

#1 person I don't see enough of: Patti S!

I LOVE you, doll! You rock!

Big D


Facebook Member since 2007

to me

That is the greatest e-mail I have ever received!!! Thank you!!! I love you too!!!


In other words, who knew?


In other words, there are others I love/adore like sisters.

There are strangers too.


In other words, we are all making a difference.


My sister. There are times throughout my adolescence I never understood why she was in my life. The sad thing is I can't even tell you why I thought she was in my life then because my main goal was to pretend she wasn't in my life and that I was an indie-rocker writer who was boy-cursed and prep-hating and didn't have the time to think of her "retarded" sister.

It hurts to write that. Even though I don't think that way at age 30.


I'm a bird to FD.

To my sister I'm a bear. Friendship Bear to be exact.

Remember those old school sewn together from a pattern bears? Those are the ones my sister's world hinges on. Each family member worth a damn is a bear. Your life, in her eyes, revolves around your bear. They cry in your absence. They come to your birthday celebration. Without a bear, we would be a stranger. She might like us, but we wouldn't play a vital role in her life.

She moans that the bears, our bears, Friendship Bear (me) and Good Luck Bear (FD), cry in our absence. I can tell by her sounds on the phone on Sunday evenings.

Friendship Bear: Truce flowers on her chest. Orange and friendly.

Was I destined to send emails to those I love/adore?

Was I destined to think of them as sisters?


The more I think about my sister, the more I think about Nicky Hilton.

I know it's weird. But consider, the one sister who stayed out the limelight. The one sister who tries to be "other" than her parents.

I am the Nicky Hilton in the McGuire family.

I lay low. I try to do good at what I do.

Am I breaking the rule of saying something good or nothing at all when I say I am the McGuire daughter who could try it her own? Who could go after her dreams? Who wanted to teach and write and am doing it because happiness means more than money to me? Am I wrong for saying that?

Why do I feel like I am wrong?

What would my sister do?


What if I told you I'm thanking those that I love because of my sister. Because without her I wouldn't fully understand appreciation, humility, or kindness?

Would you be skeptical?

Would you think I have no power to change?

Graphic Novels Rock!

American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang is definitely a worth-while read.

The story line is really eye-opening to the issues of current-day assimilation, which are told through the eyes of the narrator Jing Jang. Carefully interwoven into Jing Jang's story are two other stories/fables that connect with Jing Jang's near the end of the novel.

The themes of race, culture, stereotyping, family, identity, and, in a sense, history are at the forefront and intelligently dealt with in a funny and, at the same time, emotionally honest manner.

Also, as a graphic novel it is easy to read. Some graphic novels are hard to follow because there's too many frames on one page, too much going on in each frame, and the print is too small to read. American Born Chinese has few frames to each page, which makes it easy to follow text/dialog, and Jang uses a good size font. Also, the drawings are very visually appealing and do an excellent job of conveying the (as I call it) "unsaid."

National Book Award finalist and winner of other literary awards, American Born Chinese is rich and thoughtful. It left a lasting impression on this reader.

4 1/2 Hello Kittys.

Defining Cute Since 1977

Saturday, June 23, 2007

My New Mid-year Resolution

After reading Fast Food Nation, I vow to never give in to my fast food urge again, especially my McDonald's cravings.

I'm not going to spoil this fun read by giving you the statistics and specific examples of the diseases, poor treatment of employees, the ill treatment of animals, faux-care of environmental issues, the tremendous amount of murders that are carefully hidden from the public, and the destruction of family farms--all stemming from the rise of fast food chains. I will, however, include one of the concluding paragraphs from the epilogue that really solidified my new resolution:

"Nobody in the United States is forced to buy fast food. The first step toward meaningful change is by far the easiest: stop buying it. The executives who run the fast food industry are not bad men. They are businessmen. They will sell free-range, organic, grass-fed hamburgers if you demand it. They will sell whatever sells at a profit. The usefulness of the market, its effectiveness as a tool, cuts both ways. The real power of the American consumer has not yet been unleashed. The heads of Burger King, KFC, and McDonald's should feel daunted; they're outnumbered. There are three of them and almost three hundred million of you. A good boycott, a refusal to buy, can speak much louder than words. Sometimes the most irresistible force is the most mundane" (269).

(Note to self: I MUST use this paragraph in my comp classes as an example of an effective "call to action.")

It's not like I eat Mickey D's (0r other fast food besides Qdoba b/c McDonald's owns Chipolte) every day, every week, or even every month. But every few to several months I crave/must have it. The clown still has a power over me. But not anymore. All I needed was to read this book. Now when I want my "comfort food" that reminds me of the happiness only a Happy Meal could bring, I'm going to remember this book. Then I'm going to go to the store and buy free-range, grass-fed, organic beef and make my own damn burger.

My only temptation will be the fries...but Alexis makes some fab frozen fries...

Fast Food Nation gets 4 Hello Kittys. Beware: this book is not for the faint of heart, stomach, or mind.

Wearing Plaid: A Tribute to FD

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Welcome to My Country

Welcome to my Country is a fantastic piece of non-fiction. Exactly what I wanted to read to help me understand how to craft meaningful essays.

Thanks, Bunny, for the recommendation!

Slater's memoir not only discusses her work as a therapist but also as a patient.

What is gorgeous about this book is that she doesn't shy away from the the complex questions good prose inspires, the attempt at answering such questions and being honest when there's not an obvious answer. She sees the self in others, which is hard to do in person--let alone in writing! Her prose is constantly pushing the boundaries of self (and human) understanding and experience too. And the language is never compromised for the narrative. Some sentences were lines of poetry.

"Some Kind of Cleansing" was definitely my favorite chapter. On the surface, this is an essay about Schizophrenia. Deeper down it becomes an intellectual debate on creative ownership and authorship. I love this--that this memoir is layered and complex and replicates the human experience. It's not a flat narrative about the self. It's a narrative about relationship between the self and others. The give and take. The back and forth. It's clear Slater wants to share her experience, but her reflection clearly shows she's still learning from it too.

The other chapter I loved was "Three Spheres." It was a perfect ending to the memoir. And it really brought home the theme of the self as the other, but learning to draw boundaries and heal while being compassionate and relate-able. Really great stuff! Think Girl, Interrupted but way more mature and full-circle without the girl cattiness.

I read Slater's Lying in grad school. I remember liking it while being disturbed by it. And not really trusting her as a memoir writer..., but now I think that was the whole point of Lying based on how I wholeheartedly trust her as a narrator in Welcome to my Country.

Slater = newest influence for my own non-fiction writing.

Welcome to my Country = 4 1/2 Hello Kittys.


I'm trying to write essays right now, but it's taking me a long time to produce an essay. I need more incubation time with essay writing than poetry. I wish there was a mind reading device that could plop your thoughts onto paper. And I'm feeling pickier about my prose than my poetry (which is why it's taking me so long to produce one piece?). And/or because it's new...?

My Bro and I Used to Look Like Twins...

Monday, June 18, 2007

Two Quick Reviews

While visiting family this weekend, my mother-in-law, STR, said she had finished reading The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne and had an interesting reading group discussion about it. I asked her if I could read it, and she said, "DEFINITELY! so we could talk about it." A couple hours later on Saturday, we had a good talk about it.

I don't want to give anything away because I hate ruining surprises, but here's the scoop. The narrator is an 9-year-old (I'm really into the kid narrators lately), and it's his story about seeing people from different perspectives and understanding we all have more in common--no matter how different we are--than we think.

The writing is not that sophisticated, but the message is very touching. I found some flaws with the logic of the main character (I just don't believe kids are that unobservant), but I like how the title has two meanings and I liked what a quick read it was. Don't get caught up in historical accuracy or translation/language issues. Bear in mind, it is a fable....
3 1/2 Hello Kittys.

Good Roots was a nostalgic reading experience. I related to the cities/townships I grew up in or have ties too. Some of the essays, though, lacked lyrical language and shied away from getting to the complexity of why place is so vital and important to us as writers, but, overall, it was an OK read. I especially like the following essays: Micheal Dirda's "Sweet Lorain," Ian Frzier's "Out of Ohio" (about Hudson and my fav store The Grey Colt was mentioned!), Susan Orlean's "Pool Buddy," and Scott Russell Sanders' "After the Flood" (which had probably the most beautiful language of the bunch). I think it would be interesting to see how an Ohio anthology like this one changes in 10 or 20 years. And I would like to see some younger writers featured in my proposed new one. The poetry for me good-but-nothing-to-to-write-home-about.

If you're really into Ohio and have Ohio pride, it's a good read. If you're reading it to see what the personal essay can do, pick up something else. 3 Hello Kittys.

Happy Birthday, Grandpa!

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Happy Father's Day!!!

Most times when I think of my Pops, I think of him sitting in "his chair" reading the paper, real estate magazines and/or his Hot Rod magazines. He is an avid reader, like me, but different from me in that he doesn't read much ficition or poetry. I asked him once about not reading novels and collections of poems and he said, "Why read stuff about made-up people when there's plenty to read about real people. And I have you to tell me about the made-up stuff." (You can see where I got my sass from...)

While I was reading my new favorite book Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, I thought about my dad a lot and how I would feel to be in Oskar's shoes, who lost his dad. It's not something that I like to think about, but I think every kid does. That train of thought, though, led me to this realization, I think without my dad, I wouldn't have followed my dreams and my heart. He was always there to be my cheerleader and my reality check. He's responsible for motivating me and teaching me a little hard work never hurt. (OK, I did learn to be a work-a-holic from him, but I also got my fantastic sense of humor from him--that's a fair trade-off.) And I realized in my reading that every time I encounter a dad, I either relate to love between a main character and his/her father or wish that character had my dad. (Of course, I feel the same way during "real life" talks about dads, but for some reason it's writing that always resonates the dad-thing more for me. And that's not a coincidence...) My Pops hears me out, gives me sound advice, and is always there for me. Even after the time in middle school when I slammed my bedroom door in his face during a fight. Or when I went to "the Beach" at night when I wasn't allowed to and got caught by one of his co-workers who I begged to not tell Pops and, of course, who told Pops, and I had to come clean in order to get my first car, a VW Super Beetle. Or when I was yelling at him for yelling at me while he was teaching me how to drive stick in my Beetle and he whacked the back of my head to shut me up and suddenly I was driving stick. He's there now when I get discouraged house-hunting or with my writing, and he's always eager to hear a funny story about one of my students or the neighbor kid we caught pissing on the house next door.

And probably my favorite story right now is how I got him on April's Fools Day. The same McGuire from my Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close posting is one of my former students. And in February she emailed me pics of her new tat--some gorgeous ink on her bicep that beautifully scrawls "McGuire." After I got these pics, I knew right away my plan and saved them. On the eve of April's Fools Day (actually early morning on the day), I woke up special to craft a seemingly drunk email that talked about going out for drinks with some girlfriends and deciding to get a new tat (Pops hates the one I already have!), and then getting in a fight with FD about it when I got home, and what should I do, I'm so upset, etc...You get the point. I called him really late on Sunday morning (we usually talk Sunday mornings pretty early) and acted hungover (if you have sinus problems, like me, it's really easy to do and if you have had a lot experience with hangovers, it's even easier) and asked if he got my email. He said, "No," and asked me what was wrong. I gave him a huge sob story about my hangover and tat and fight with FD; I was faking crying--it was great. He listened quietly to the whole story, and finally at the end, he blew up and started yelling at me (I didn't know at the time, but he was a Starbucks and spilled his coffee all over a new shirt Hons had bought him and all these people were staring!). He said he thought I had grown up and he couldn't believe I was going out and getting tats without talking to FD, and spending our house savings money to boot without talking to FD and he couldn't support me on this one, etc.--I had him eating out of my hand. FD was listening to the whole thing, and we couldn't take it anymore. We busted out in a fit of laughter that left us totally breathless and satisfied in our trickery! And poor Pops, once he realized what day it was and that it was all just a joke, he couldn't do anything but laugh. See, it pays to be a hell-raiser in your younger years b/c come April's Fools Day you can really get your old man!

So to my Pops, my father-in-law FJR, and all the dads out there, Happy Father's Day! And remember when us kids are giving you hell, it just means we love you.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Unplanned Connections

During my hour tan today I finished Missing May. It's a quality YA read.

The thoughtful characters (Cletus reminded me so much of Oskar in Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close, which was refreshing because I really didn't want to leave that book yet, but I have to get through my book-pile-mountain before the new Harry Potter!) and a perfect setting that is really important to me (Ohio and West Virgina) are what really stood out for me.

It is a fabulous read for a young adult experiencing grief and loss. I don't want to give too much away.

4 1/2 Hello Kittys, and a big thanks to Stacey O. for recommending it.

The next book I'm reading is a collection of essays from writers who grew up in Ohio (Good Roots). See another connection that I didn't plan?! I love when my reading is cohesive like that without any force from my behalf.

Now if only my writing could feel that cohesive...

Too Cute for Words!

Thursday, June 14, 2007

The Other Love of My Life...

Today while tutoring, I've met with one student right at 1 and another at 4. In between those times, I read Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. Perhaps that was not the smartest thing to do...

Sometimes I find the book so funny that I laugh out loud. Which is fine if I had a quiet laugh, but I don't. And I tutor in a common meeting space which is a center room with offices surrounding it. Clearly, everyone in the office knew I was getting paid to laugh at what I was reading. I felt bad; if I was working, I wouldn't want to hear someone who was getting paid to read laughing. In my defense, at least everyone could see that writing matters to me and I appreciate quality literature, which further proves my already-established qualifications as a tutor.

But then I got to the climax of the book, and I was moved by how the climax was written because it felt so "real" to me, because it captured how I feel and think (if those things could be replicated in language other than poetry), and I loved the characters as I love my families, and I loved the twist in the plot and how it came together in a way I didn't think it would come together because I was being skeptical and I thought it would be more trite, so I'm reading in the middle of this common room but I wouldn't call it reading as much as I would call it immersing myself into the novel when I start crying. Once the tears got in the way of my reading, I looked away from the page to wipe them, and realized I wasn't at home. I was in the Student-Athletics Department. I was tutoring. I had to pull my shit together.

What I love is that a book could do that to me. That it could inspire me--to write, to live, to not be afraid, to not be embarrassed when I bawl at work. I love this book so much I'm going to buy a copy of it. I would marry it if I wasn't married to FD. I want to put
Kiedrowski's frosting on it and eat it.

I love the multi-genre-ness of it. It's brave and out-there and absolutely gorgeous.

I still have one chapter left. Once I started crying, I thought maybe I should wait until I was home to finish it--just in case I need to sob for a couple of minutes or hours.

It's moments like these that make me happy to be a reader, and even more so a writer...


It's almost 9 p.m., and I finished the book. I didn't cry. I didn't sob. I just finished it while BBQ-ing tonight's dinner (Chicken, roasted potatoes, and broccoli), ate dinner while watching the newest Deadliest Catch, cleaned-up, and talked to Pops. What's funny is, though, all the while I was doing this business, I was thinking about this book. And I have a feeling I'm going to think about this book for a long while. Like when I see a great film that moves me, it sticks with me, such as Dancer in the Dark.

And when I read something so good, like Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, I believe in God more than any other time in my life. Because without God how could such a great book come into existence? Or such a great author who is able to write such a great book? And then such a great mind? And the food such a great mind eats? And the air such a great mind breathes? (You probably can see where this is going.)

I can't review this book like other books. Mostly because I'm too emotional right now. But I can say if you read this blog, you should this book, if you haven't already.

And before I give my HK rating, a fellow McGuire/Facebook buddy said about Foer's book, "
it's seriously chronic. i already bought Everything is Illuminated." Chronic, people! Dr. Dre and Snoop would be up on this shit! C'mon!

For the first time ever and maybe only time ever...5 Hello Kittys.

Smiling Though the Claustrophobia

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Untitled Accidentally At First But Now Intentionally

I finished The Curious Incident... in under 24 hours. That is how much I loved the book. I felt it really accurately captured most family life with a special needs child, and it really brought autism to light. Christopher's interactions during his adventure reminded a bit of how people treat the main character in Alan Lightman's The Diagnosis. And the talk of math and science make me think it would be a great choice for BGSU's Common Reading Experience. (Check out the CRE blog too for reading suggestions and the next possible CRE book!) I heard a rumor, though, that Mark Haddon doesn't like to travel, which wouldn't work to well, considering we like to have the author come to campus for a reading and meet and greets...


I tried so hard to like Kaufmann's The Sister, but I couldn't. I stopped reading it after page 50. Emily's sister was annoying me. I thought it would be a good esoteric read for my sister project (a collection of essays about my sister that I'm working on--however, it's taking me years to write them) and because I love Emily Dickinson. The Sister just bored me though, and I had to move on. I have to get through a lot of books before the new Harry Potter comes out. I don't have time to waste on being bored, which significantly slows down my reading! If anyone has read The Sister, liked it, and wants to shed some light on it for me, I'd be more than happy to listen. I've found with many books that if I wait a couple of years and to read it again, things click for me and I like it. Maybe I'll try again in 2010.


I'm having a frustrating week (I realize it's only Tuesday). I've been thinking lot and internalizing a lot and I feel like I have something to say, but I don't feel like being verbal, and when I am verbal I end up not communicating properly and sounding like an idiot or a bitch. Today while working out I realized I get like this when I'm starting a writing project and/or writing. I have two ideas I'm working on, and have been taking notes in my head, my computer's post-its, and in my dream journal. But I didn't really realize I was working on anything until last night when I was trying to go to sleep. Tomorrow I plan on writing. I'm hearing some language and feeling "disturbed," which are good things for me, but they may not be so good for people I try to talk with. I thank God every day for FD b/c he's the same way and we can understand each other. It's the people at the grocery store, the bank, etc.--whoever we run into that I feel for. Sometimes I wish I could just wear a fashionable shirt that said, "I'm not mad (as in upset and crazy), I'm just thinking." (It would be a really cute shirt if it had a LV on it or a Lilly Pulitzer palm tree.) And when I'm thinking really hard sometimes I wish every place was automated so I could think and do my chores and not talk and save my energy for writing.

I guess it's a blessing I do have a faculty job and I have the summer off and I don't get like this too much when I'm teaching. Normally, I get it over breaks. Or just in the morning before I teach. So I guess it would be a blessing that right now as I'm sitting here in the Student Athletics think tank no athletes are showing up. Would I sound like a complete ass right now if I tried to talk about writing?

Maybe that's why I like Christopher in The Curious Incident...Maybe because he was a thinker and I'm in that mode today.

I gotta stop. Writing of this thinking while thinking the thinking and thinking of how to write the thinking is driving me stinking crazy.


Sidenote: While here tutoring, I came to find out it is one my favorite people's in the Student Athletics Department birthday! And she called this (June) her "birthmonth" as well. See, I'm not the only one!

Books Captivated Me at a Young Age. (What a Surprise...)

Saturday, June 9, 2007

Birthday Adventures

The fun began last night when Gary, Mandy, FD, and myself went to the my fav Mexican Restaurant to got our eat on before a fierce game of Mini-Golf. Gary, who actually golfs, won. (No surprise!) And he got a hole-in-one on Hole 6! As for yours truly, it was an up-and-down game--on par and then why-even-bother-counting. What matters most is we had a great time! It was really nice catching up and being silly! Thanks, you two!

And today the fun continues! This morning FD and I went on the Wood County Driving Tour; he got it for me for my bday. (I bet you didn't know I actually am interested in history--and more so inspired by it.) And just in case you're wondering, driving tours are where you drive around and listen to a tour guide CD. You should see if your county has one; they're fun.

Here are the highlights sans photos (I had no idea digital cameras ate up batteries as fast as they do!):

The Start: Pemberville. My fav: the Pemberville Town Hall and Opera House where "the hundreds of holes from cigarette burns of famous, nervous performs are still burned in the stage curtain."

Pemberville's Most Legendary Citizen: James Andrews who stole a train to try and raid the Confederate Army. He stole a train! WHAT?!?! That's awesome! It was not awesome, I bet, when he was hung by the Confederate Army...

In one green farm field we saw one little freshly sheared sheep. He was very cute as he (or she?) frolicked around.

Fostoria: A much bigger city than I thought it would be. The driving tour dared to mention a Fostoria Mummy and just move on like it was nothing. A Fostoria Mummy! I have to research this mummy business! And we saw some crazy mansions in the middle of farmland. Like really crazy. For some reason it really blew my mind.

Then we got lost. The map wasn't really clear so when Rt. 18 split we didn't split with it. All turned out well, though, because on our detour we found Love's (replace the apostrophe with a heart for it's true name). We love Love's the Truckstop. Of course, by now I had to pee, and the bathrooms were better-than-average clean. As a memento, FD bought a Love's straw hat. Hot! (Or not...)

North Baltimore: Had 9 (NINE!) fires downtown. As you can imagine the downtown was not booming (for fear of another fire...?...)

Pottertown: Another community totally wiped out by the railroad not fulfilling its contract to go there and by a fire. It was truly in the Black Swamp. We heard the blurb on it, but didn't go through it b/c we wanted to get to Grand Rapids for lunch--we were starved. The blurb, though, was enough to inspire us to go back on another day (hopefully one that is rainy and foggy) and visit this ghost town. And that narrator made it sound ghostly and scary...

Grand Rapids: The end of the line for us. We had already done 2 hours and needed a lunch break and get home so we could read while I lay out and FD sat in the shade. Laroe's Restaurant was a nice pit stop. Very quaint and old timey. Bonus: I was carded without even asking the waitress to card me! Carded on my 30th bday! Ha! I still look card-able! It really made me feel not-so-old at all!

A closing scene: While on the river walk in Grand Rapids we saw a blue heron soar into the river for a landing, trot around, and flap away.

Tonight: FD cooking up some filet mignon and a fire to read by.

Tomorrow: My fam is coming in for a party.

30 is good times. As Stokes said today, "You're at the top of the hill, baby. Enjoy it."

The Birthday Girl's All-time Favorite Picture of Herself

Thursday, June 7, 2007

An Exercise in Brevity

Wayne Dodd's Is: The Is and the Is Not (yes, the glorious paradox) are beautifully questioned and explored in the musical language, the at-time humorous parenthetical asides, and true images in this controlled and aesthetically-diverse-yet-extremely-cohesive collection.

Four out of Five Hello Kittys.

When I Learned "If You Want Something Done Right, Do It Yourself." (Again with the yellow...geez!)

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Guess Who Has a Camera Crew?!?

You missed me yesterday, didn't you?

I was super-busy filming my intro-to-essay short videos for my online class on campus. I recorded six total, and whoever tells you that acting is a breeze, they're lying! It's exhausting work! It's hard to be on all the time. My Academy winning roles included a regular teacher, a reader, a Monopoly player, a blogger, and a very serious interviewer--all of which who wore a fabulous outfit. (Oh, you'll see the it all once the films go through final edit.)

Move over, Jennifer Hudson! Here comes the new "it" girl.

I jest a bit, but, in all seriousness, I did have a two-man camera crew with me as we walked across campus from my office to the Union and from the Union to the Library. How could I NOT feel a little bit celeb?! And to boot, my camera/audio team were the BOMB--two funny guys who were great conversationalists between takes and all business during takes! A shout out to Terence and Mike! And to FD for his guest appearance! And, most importantly, to Mary Ann Robinson who talked about domestic violence in Wood County and really opened my eyes!

This Was The Last Time I Took A Bet From A Stranger

Monday, June 4, 2007

Boating Beauties!

This weekend I had the great pleasure of having a boating birthday. I'd like to thank Stokes for organizing the weekend and getting me to raddest gifts (collectible art posters for three of my fav musicians: Lucinda Williams, Jeff Tweedy, and Cat Power.) Also, thanks to Noodles, Patti, and Rosa, Big John and Babs! I had a truly great time because of all of you!

Now for the Slide Show:

Big John steering while us girls do a little relaxing. You can't see yet, but we had to cut boating a little short. On the lake Big John saw some dark clouds, which prompted him to turn on the boater's radio. And just like a scene in Deadliest Catch, the crackling voice warned of t-storms. Big John bust a move to make sure we didn't get caught in the bad weather.

At the dock. We make a cute group, don't we?!

Captured outside Giant Eagle, this is the storm Big John saved us from.

"She knew how to work it."

Thanks, Patti, for the gift. I'm saving it for my actual b-day.

Because I'm obviously a good luck charm, the Cavs won, which excited the girls very much!

I, however, am more a fan of Apples to Apples, Loaded Question, and The Question Book, which we did lots of.

Miss Stokey and Mr. Humpty.

One of the delicious red velvet/cream cheese frosting cupcakes Noodles made for the occasion. Thanks, Noodles! And thank you for the HK stickers too!

Thanks to Babs for my iTunes gift card and for letting us all stay at the condo too!

A fab time was had by all! Thanks, again, so much ladies and Big John!