Friday, July 31, 2009

Some birthdays are more important than others

So. We're celebrating Sara's birthday this weekend.

From what I understand, it's going to be a pretty festive affair. It's her first married birthday, and it's coinciding with a visit from her Iowan in-laws. They're bringing sweet corn!

Then again, Sara's birthdays are always a big deal.

For as nearly as far back as I can remember, her favorite threat to someone was a banishment from her birthday party. She demanded extra turns in the front seat the week before and the week after her birthday. She did the same thing for listening to a CD, a television show, and meals. Seriously, this has been going on for as long as she's been able to talk.

And just why did we let her pick things and get her way for all of those years?

Because it was her birthday. It was the only explanation (trans.: demand) she made and we accepted.

Also, she's terrifying forceful.

BUT:

Last year, Cody was unable to attend her birthday celebration. The plan had been to visit Laine and Robert and enjoy some shopping and eat at the restaurant of Sara's choosing (of course) as a family. Levi had an excused absence because he lives in North Carolina, and because he was planning to drive in a week later for our parents' anniversary.

The weekend plans for the birthday unfortunately interferred with Cody's mom's plans to help Casey move home from Missouri....10 hours away. Cody explained this plan to Sara in advance and felt that he had a good reason for missing that particular birthday.

Mrs. Dicy felt it was a good reason.

Casey definitely felt it was a good reason.

I felt it was a good reason and vaguely wondered if I should be swinging by the house to see if Spencer was doing drugs while his mom was away, but forgot about it since I would be......um, attending Sara's birthday.

What? I couldn't miss her birthday!

Sara, however, did not feel that this reason was acceptable.

She was appalled. She was furious. She was loud.

Cody didn't think he had any other recourse:

"What am I supposed to do? Is he just supposed to take a bus?!" he asked.

Sara did not seem to think this was a rhetorical question and said, yes, that would work.

Cody didn't see why missing one birthday party for a sister-in-law to help his twin brother move home was such a big deal.

It was this fact that made us, as a family, cringe the most of all. It's one thing to miss her birthday. It's another to act like you have a good reason to do so.

So it came as no surprise to us when Sara declared that Cody would not be invited to the next year's birthday party.

Well, Cody was surprised. Bless his heart.

And so the feud began. They argued about his priorities at every opporunity. When we celebrated my parents' thirtieth wedding anniversary a week later, she asked him how he enjoyed his weekend missing her birthday. He said he enjoyed it fine.

Oh goodness.

They trashtalked about parties.

Parties, for Pete's sake!

Thanksgiving. Christmas. Cody's birthday (which she boycotted). And so on and so on. So I decided quite a while ago that I'd just bring Cody to her birthday as my guest.

She never said I couldn't.

Since she's still basking in the glow of those last few wedding presents trickling in, she even told me I didn't have to buy her a birthday present!

Mrs. Dicy pointed out that Cody probably should anyway. She's a smart woman.

So Cody's already bought his present. We're all set.

Wish us luck.

*********************************

I should mention, though, that Robert opened his home to us and participated in all of the birthday activities like a brother-in-law champion.

UNTIL:

We went to a restaurant. Some Italian one that Sara picked out where you pay too much for the food to taste so generic.

Robert noticed the waiters singing to people with birthdays, so he thought it would be cute to violate family tradition and inform our waiter that 'someone' was celebrating a birthday.

Oh Robert.

So our waiter brought Sara a free dessert and serenaded her.

In Italian.

In a fake opera voice.



Because of Robert, she was being sung to, in a fake opera voice, in a language she didn't understand, in front of a bunch of people.



That song took a loooong time.

Robert asked for forgiveness.

He received it.



Mostly.

Maybe this year will be better.

We're definitely not inviting this guy.


It will definitely be better.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009


You know how some people go through awkward seasons? Maybe not awkward. Maybe weird.

Maybe weird and sadly shut-down.

It looks like this a lot


Just closed off


Quiet


Pensive


Just....something


These things happen.

These things are understandable and important and necessary and they happen.

And then the mood passes.

And everything will be fine.


It always is.

August is coming very soon.

But there's no help for this guy.


None at all.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Probably the last time I'll mention the move

Tonight we'll be officially moved away from here.

Hooray for having just one home!

I don't have any pictures of our new place.

I'm actually trying to remember where I've unpacked my camera as I type this.

I'm not remembering....

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Slash and burn

So. We're in the process of moving.

I haven't really mentioned it because I despise moving. I have such intense dislike for the process of moving and packing and unpacking and shutting off utilities and opening new accounts and making phone calls and filling out address cards that I wish moving would get hit by a big truck.

But we are mostly moved thanks to some lovely people and their arms and boxes and vehicles and time and skill.

But in general, I loathe moving and haven't mentioned it because it's unpleasant and I can feel myself getting bored with myself whenever someone asks how the move is going.

It's about like you'd imagine. Some of our stuff is in boxes. Some of it is unpacked in the new place. Some of it is unpacked in the old place.

Cody's not cooking meals and I'm not cleaning up every single thing before falling asleep.

But it's fine and will be much better very soon.

And now, I only mention it because I've discovered something in this move:

I love throwing stuff away.

We've been recycling for a while now. So we were keeping our recyclables in our large trash can and throwing trash into a grocery sack or whatever (because we try to be responsible, we didn't have a lot of grocery sacks because we usually remember to take cloth bags. We apparently packed the cloth bags a couple weeks ago and still haven't found most of them. We now have trash bags galore.) and trotting it out the dumpster every couple of days.

We've been doing this for several months and taking the recycling to the center in the church parking lot every Saturday has become just another part of our weekend routine.

But....

We are now chucking entire trash bags full of completely recyclable cans, bottles, boxes, papers--you name it, and I have looked at it (sometimes after carefully wrapping it in paper and hauling it clear across town), sighed in disgust, and thrown it in the nearest cardboard box or trash bag.

Forget landfills, the lifespan of plastic, and the idea of reusing unrenewable resources.

I love throwing stuff away.

Yes, I know that doesn't mean it's actually gone. But it's gone away for me. Completely out.

Pictures, t-shirts I was going to use for dust rags (no, I never was), trinkets, the collection of root beer bottles--gone.

I feel clean.

I feel renewed.

I feel like shredding every financial document we have.

I haven't felt this good since I was living with my parents and we would burn trash.

I love burning trash. Don't even get me started on the glories of burning trash into oblivion.

This post really has no point other than to tell you that sometimes I feel a little desperate and take the cleaning too far. And that it's nice to have a clean start.

And you should never move if you own over 50 books. Just don't do it.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Book sale finds

Cody and I went to the library basement sale on Sunday afternoon.

I'm convinced I was either still enjoying some NyQuil or extremely exhausted, because I don't remember picking up some of the books I bought.

That's kind of pleasant. I like book surprises.

I hadn't shopped at the book sale on a Sunday in a while, so I'd forgotten how picked over the selection could be. This was kind of nice. Because there were fewer books that I wanted to buy, I felt okay about spending money on the books that ordinarily I'd look at and say, "Oh, that looks interesting." and place back on the shelf. But this time, I took them home.

We spent $6.50.

Thomas Hoving. King of the Confessors.
This has something to do with some cross that was found at a dig.....and Jesus......and the world of art collectors. This one is Cody's.

Malcolm I. Thomas. The Luddites: Machine-Breaking in Regency England.
I just think this is interesting.

Stanley Reed. Oriental Rugs and Carpets.
Cody really likes Oriental rugs. I'm not sure why. We don't have that kind of money, or that kind of decorating style (or any decorating style, actually), but he still gets excited about them and wants one someday. I thought he'd enjoy the pictures. Instead, he wants an Oriental rug more than ever now.

Well!

John Marley. Handwriting Analysis Made Easy.
I just think it's interesting. And I think people who say "I could fool a handwriting analysis expert because I never write my signature the same way" are gigantic liars with some ridiculous stuff to hide. Maybe now I can expose them. I enjoy how-to books.

Better Homes & Gardens Step-by-Step Household Repairs.
Like I said, I enjoy how-to books. And even if I didn't, I probably would have bought this for the cover. I'll show it to you some time. Priceless.

Blanchard and Zoubeck. Expert Shorthand Speed Course.
Why not? It could come in handy. Also, I bought this for the font on the cover. Cute!

Maybe I could even learn to do handwriting analysis on shorthand notes! Oh man.

Walter Laquer and George L. Mosse, eds. The Left-Wing Intellectuals Between Wars, 1919-1939. Crazy times, that era between 1919 and 1939.

I'm completely serious.

Madeline L'Engle. Dragons in the Waters.
She's the best. Plus, this novel has Polly and she was a character in one of the other books. Something about a starfish. I liked it. I like all Madeline L'Engle books. Why? Because she's the best.

July 21, 2009

To Laine



and Robert:


Happy second anniversary!


You're obviously quite meant for each other.

Sara and Levi salute you as well..... or something.

I hope y'all have a great day today.
Laine, thank you for letting me steal your pictures.
(Because I did.)
And Robert, thank you for making Laine happy.

Love you guys.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Just to say

I am wishing you a happy weekend.....
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
......... from my office.


On Monday, I'll go down to the storage room and get some chairs.


I could have done it today, but I wanted to drag out the new office thing for a little while longer.

O-F-F-I-C-E.

That's right.

It has 4 walls, a window that I can open or close, and a door.

It's a lovely start to what promises to be an exciting weekend.

Be safe, have fun!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Out-of-context stuff

Levi dispenses helpful car knowledge
Levi: Tell Spencer that if his band wants a windowless sex offender van I know where they can get one for cheap.

There is no reason why this won't work
Brad: Just delete 'heretofore' and write in 'give five million dollars to Brad Anders' some time.

She was not paying attention to the conversation
Sara: Your name is Cody Lee Roy?!

He had his hands raised as if giving benediction
Jen: It's 9:30!
Sara: Why is it still so bright here?
Chad: The sun.....it shines on Iowa.

Robert loves children and children love Robert
Nathan: Mom! Look at this old battery we found!
Robert: Does it still work?!
Stacey: I don't think you need that.
Nathan [to Robert]: I don't know.
Robert: You should lick it and see! Are there more back there?
Nathan: I don't know!
Robert: Let's go check!

Cody is not detail-oriented
Jen: Hey. I like your glasses. Cody, look at his glasses. Don't get a pair that look just like this.
Cody: You got glasses?!
Casey: Yeah. I was wearing them this afternoon when you were over.
Cody: Really?
Casey: Yeah, I'm sure.
Cody: Guess I didn't notice.

Cody is a very thorough tour guide
Cody: This is the hallway. This is the kitchen. There's the stove. There's the water heater. That's Jen. Down here is the bathroom...

It's a compliment.....or something
Sara: Oh Jen, that dress looks much cuter than the picture you sent me.
Mom: Sweetie, do you want your dad to tie your sash? It might help your sack dress look a little more 'together.'

They're transition lenses

Cody: I got my new glasses.
Mrs. Dicy: I like them. They look kind of like your old ones. Are they tinted?
[He was standing next to a window.]

No, she could not

Laine: I think I can wear this.

They're transition lenses, Part II
Jeff: I like your new glasses.
Cody: Thanks.
Jeff: I want to see you wearing them outside! Do they change really fast?
Jessi: What are we talking about?
Jen: They're transition lenses.
Jessi: And?
Cody: They get darker in sunlight.
Jeff: They change!
Jessi: Are we in the future?!

I cannot overstate the obvious enough
Jen: I felt fine until I got sick.

The cause for Starbucks Scuffle '08
Sara [hands Jen a cookie with a witch on it]: Look, it's a picture of you.

I called him back
Levi: I didn't think it looked very good.
Jen: I don't know. The first part of the preview looked kind of fun but then.....did you see the big long preview. [To Cody]: Hey, what was the last dumb action movie we went and saw with your brothers?
Cody: What?
Levi: Star Trek
Jen: You're right, that was it. That wasn't dumb. I was thinking of The Day the Earth Stood Still.
Cody: That wasn't an action movie.
Jen: Parts of the world disintegrated and they were attacked by aliens!
Levi: I wasn't arguing.
Jen: Sorry. Cody was talking. Did you notice there was a Wayans brother in it?
Levi: What? Why? I'm definitely not watching that.
Jen: I have to go. We're making pickles.

This is completely normal
Jen: Sometimes I ask Cody if he'll still love you if you do stuff. Like, if you committed treason or if you were involved in a hit-and-run.
Casey: I would stay at the scene.
Cody: Then it's not a hit-and-run.
Casey: Exactly.
Jen: He usually says he would still love you, but a while ago I asked him, "If Spencer went to college and fell in with a bad crowd and became a hipster, would you still love him?" and he said "No."
Spencer: That's your definition of a bad crowd?
Jen: Yes. And, you know, I don't think I would love you anymore either.
Spencer: You shouldn't. Those kids lie right and left.
Jen: And I don't think they love their moms.
Casey: Wait, wait...
Spencer: No, they don't.

It can be difficult to find the right caption for your picture
Jessi: Do you think it's okay? Because I thought it was funny, but then I thought, "Now it just looks like I'm making fun of how infertile they are."

I'm really good at this game
Terri: Mamaw's really sharp, but I've noticed that sometimes she forgets certain words. But I do that, too. The other day, we were talking on the phone about something while she was reading the paper and she said "What's like another word for "school"...?" and I said "College?" and she "It's like that and you've got a town or a community.......let me call you back" and I said "How about you finish your newspaper and call me then."
Jen [excitedly]: Was the word "vo-tech"?
Terri: Yes! Yes, it was!

This, that, and the other

Hello. We're nearly halfway through the week.

And I'm mostly just posting this for the sake of doing something.

I'm wearing this dress today in observance of Duggar Day.

But I'm wearing glasses, and my hair is cuter than it is in this picture. So I feel pretty, which is always nice.

Mozart's really grown since this picture was taken. I like having my picture taken with Mo. He's enormous.

I'm including this picture of Cody with our friend Jessi because it's cute and nonsensical.

I think it's time for another 'conversations out of context' post. I haven't been compiling one, though, so I'll be relying strictly on memory.

I apologize now for misquoting you. Look for the post itself in a day or so.

I never thought I'd say this, but I wish I had more potted plants. I may do something about that soon.

The library basement sale is this weekend. The sale will be in the basement of the Main Library in Little Rock.

As always, hardbacks are $1 and paperbacks are 50¢.

10-4, Friday and Saturday
1-4, Sunday

There are fantastic deals to discover.

I'm not sure when we'll make it out there, but it will happen at some point this weekend because one of our favorite hobbies seems to include carrying lots of old books in boxes.

I you're having a nice afternoon.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Just think about it


Does anyone else think this guy looks like Cody?

Because I do, and I don't like it.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Food, changes, unpainting

Hey there!

So. We've been a one-car family for about a month now. For the most part, it's worked out fairly well. I usually have the car unless Cody has errands to run in the middle of the day because I get off work earlier than he does. So far, so good. Obviously this hasn't been going on very long, but I'm still happy that this hasn't presented any groundbreaking problems.

Cody has decided that he doesn't want to bother with painting some of the cabinets and walls and other hideous areas of the rent house before we move. He wants to move this weekend and then we'll paint at some later date when we don't have so much going on. On one hand, I see his logic. We're busy. Anyone who could help us sand and scrape and paint is also busy. Time is running out on the lease on our current apartment. So we'll just move in and fix things up as we can. We're both seriously considering taking a week off in September to just have a vacation, and that might be a good time to take care of nearly everything.

On the other hand, if this process is as horrific and frustrating as I fear then he'll never, ever, ever make this mistake again and I can throw the ordeal back in his face for the remainder of our marriage.

Yes, I know this is going to be more stressful (probably) for me as well. But I don't deal too well with home improvement projects or moving or any kind of major change, so this should be fine.

Should.

Can you imagine my smirk right now? I'm pretty sure you can.

In other news, I am getting an office. More accurately, someone is moving out of an office and I am moving into that. I actually occupied it for a little while last year while no one else was using it. But now it's mine. That is something I'm looking forward to, and should happen this week.

I'm not as excited about moving as I thought I would be. From the looks of things, I'm not as excited about moving as other people thought I'd be. I'm going to miss the dishwasher. And the big closet. And the patio. And the storage space.

But I won't miss the building management, the inept repairmen, the carpet, or the popcorned ceiling. Or the rent. Or the road noises. Or the Christmas traffic.

So. We're moving this weekend. We'll be packing and cleaning and moving a few things throughout the week. We're moving.

Gross.

New topic: Cody made zucchini bread for the first time ever yesterday. It's fantastic. He also made gingerbread, 3 jars of spaghetti sauce, and 4 jars of pickles. I helped, but not a lot. And he made some more rhubarb strawberry pie last week, so I'm having some of that for breakfast.

And last month, he made this:


That's a pork chop with homemade cream of mushroom and blue potatoes with butter and salt.

Oh, Cody.


Poor planner/house-fixer. Good cook.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

To Jeff, Certified Professional Coder






Way to go! Big thumbs-up to you.

I shall require curtains for my garage's windows

Sorry about the picture quality.

In my last post, I mentioned a few times that EA used to do quite a bit of woodworking. For the purposes of my own nostalgia, I thought I'd talk more about it.

First off: Mamaw and EA have the best-smelling garage in the world. It's a nice mixture of the gas from the tank used for the lawn mover, the grass on the lawn mower, the dryer sheets from their dryer, cleanliness, old clothes, and wood. Lots of wood. Some sawdust. Some power tools. Some half-finished projects. And some more wood.

I absolutely love the smell of wood and sawdust and this why I sometimes enjoying browsing Home Depot without actually looking at anything and breathing as deeply as I possibly can through my nose.

Ahem.

EA can take beautiful-smelling wood and turn it into anything. Really.

We have Christmas decorations and door hangings and all kinds of decorations that EA made and Mamaw painted. (PS: Mamaw has a craft room. When I grow up I want a garage and a craft room just like theirs. I don't know if I've mentioned it to Cody or not, but my dream house looks almost identical to their house.) He can make anything.

Birds.

A miniature wagon.

A clock.

Birdhouses.

A violin. And a miniature violion.

He made the violin because he thought it would be neat to learn to make one, and Mamaw thought it would be neat to learn to play.

And that's where this comes in:


Yes, it's a spinning wheel. A fully functioning, not-that-old spinning wheel.

EA made that.

Mamaw thought it would be fun to learn to spin wool into yarn, so EA made her a spinning wheel.

It works.

I've seen her use it.

They found some old carding paddles. I have no idea where they found wool.

I don't know if she ever spun enough wool into yarn for a project (spinning wool into yarn is a big deal), but I was grandparented by a man who knows how to make spinning wheels and a woman who knows how to use them.

Yes, of course I'm bragging! You would too if you had such heroes to worship.


One last thing:

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Everything

I didn't say a lot about my weekend because.......there were a variety of reasons.

It was a beautiful time, it really was.

Cody and I were both off work on Friday and had lunch out with a few friends and played catch-up on some errands. We watched movies and ate food.

On Saturday morning we went to farmer's market and then went to Oklahoma to see friends and family. The drive up really wasn't too bad. Yes, there were storms and yes, we got lost and bickered. But it was fine.

My grandparents are getting old.

Really, really old.

And their health is not good.

They've been old for as long as I've known them, but they've been consistently upbeat and happy and active. During last summer's visit they had just bought a new car and were in the process of repainting their house.

I don't know how to effectively convey to you how vibrant they were. Their home has always been a constant source of happiness, 1970s decor, and comfort. It is one of my favorite places to be. Ever.

And it still is. But....there's always a but.

And I think it's the fact that they weren't the constants I remembered. They aged. They were tired. My grandpa's weak heart, diabetes, and bleeding ulcer are really wearing him down. And taking care of him and seeing him this way is taking its toll on my grandmother. Even with their daughter and son-in-law right there in town--which is a huge help for them--and even with their granddaughter and her girls visiting, I could still see how diminished my grandmother was growing. She's been saying for 2 or 3 years now how it breaks her heart to see her husband weakened, but this time she was breaking my heart.

We know how this ends. There is only course this will take.

We all know that when E.A.'s pacemaker battery is replaced, he's going to feel better. It may help him to the point when he doesn't even need oxygen anymore. (The oxygen is a very recent development.) And when he's recovered from the pacemaker surgery, the doctors will scope his stomach to check on his ulcer and maybe they can change his treatment so that he's feeling better.

Objectively, we know these things and we hope for the best possible outcome.

But Mamaw's having none of it. She knows he's 86 and she's 84. She knows their son-in-law will be mowing their lawn from now on. She knows they'll never travel to another family reunion with her siblings again. She knows, and has known for a while, he won't be doing any more woodwork. She knows the garden will shrink until they can't have one anymore.

This knowledge weighs heavily on her and on Saturday it was very clear how hard it is for her to adjust.

She didn't even try to feed us.

We were in her home for 4 hours.

It was hard.

But: that was only part of the visit. It was the saddest possible aspect of the visit and shook me up more than I could have prepared for, but it was only a part of things.

It was the 4th of July, and we celebrated Mamaw's birthday. One of her great-granddaughters made a cake. We ate cake and cookies and ice cream at Carl and Shirley's. We met Mamaw's niece, and her son, who I recognized from pictures and who knew me. We saw our old church's old preacher, who recognized us from last summer (and recognizes me because I look like Mom). We visited. We laughed. We ate.

We talked about homeschooling. We talked about our families. Carl sang some of the songs Laine and I learned in church when we were little. Cody was impressed. We talked about Sara's wedding. Mom and Dad dropped by (they had been seeing other friends and family in the area and covered more houses than Cody and I did) and people saw wedding pictures. And Mozart.

Everyone was greatly impressed with Mozart. He's a nice dog, after all. A very large, very nice dog. I think Mamaw and E.A. would have let him in the house, but I don't think Mom or Dad would.

Things were just different. And that's not all bad. Mamaw talked a lot about her brothers and sisters, which she normally doesn't do. She has 9 of them. She's the oldest. I haven't normally heard much about them, so it was nice. I like watching people talk about their siblings. I think it shows a lot about them. I watched Mamaw laugh as she listened to her brother and his wife in Colorado sing the birthday song to her over the phone.

It finally occurred to me to ask how they wound up in Oklahoma when they were both from Mena, Arkansas. They moved up there after getting married (she was in tenth grade, I think) to look for work. They stayed with E.A.'s sister. He worked in a shop. She waited tables. Then his parents joined them. Then he left for the war. Then Shirley was born. Then Mamaw learned to crochet (this is important). Then he came back. Then Shirley and Mamaw went to college at the same time. Shirley was actually telling me about that this weekend. Then Mamaw got her master's in education. Then she was a teacher. Then E.A. retired and became a master carpenter. Then they befriended the nice couple down the street.

She's extraordinary.

They're an extraordinary family and I'm glad they claim us.

Carl said we were kin.

On our way home, Cody and I saw fireworks in three different states. How many people can say that? Until the thunderstorms hit around 1 or 2 in the morning, the drive back was safe and not that bad at all. Cody and I took turns napping and reading and talking and picking out music.

On Sunday, we slept and recovered. I felt sick, so Cody went to the store. I did laundry. He made dinner. I cleaned the kitchen. He called his mom.

I'm working my first full week in quite some time. Things are normal and everything is fine.

Yesterday, we met my parents at a Barnes & Noble to swap out picture frames and trade things we'd been meaning to give each other. We drank coffee. We talked about Dallas. We talked about dogs. We talked about school and books. Dad would hold up books to see if I'd read them. When I'd invariably reply that I hadn't, Mom would exclaim "We had to read that just to graduate high school!" One of my favorite things about my mom is that she is almost never ironic. We saw one of Sara and Levi's friends. I bought a Sherlock Holmes book.

Sherlock Holmes stays the same. He's always, always, always right. And, like Mamaw, has been a hero of mine since I was 8 or 9. I only recognized 1 of the stories in the index. Good times await me. I've already read a story. Before I went to sleep, Cody asked me how the book was.

"Perfect."

And tonight: we can pickles!

Or we plan to. I'll let you know.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Pictures of Iowan stereotypes, III

These pictures are from my camera and I just now had the chance to develop some of my film.

What's in Iowa?

Sinclair gas stations. They're everywhere.
I love that little brontosaurus.

Here's some more tractor pictures!
By the time I pulled my camera out, Sara was taking a turn at steering.

Chad does not seem as thrilled as Sara.
But that's usually the case.

Especially when picture-taking is involved.
This would be the perfect Sara-and-Chad picture, except his eyes are closed.
Actually, that probably makes it the perfect Sara-and-Chad picture.

It moved a little after she jumped off.
It was still running.

Iowa also has lots of corn fields.

Here's the corn up closer.


Closest.

And dirt roads.

This concludes the Pictures of Iowan Stereotypes Series.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

June's book list

Hello. It's that time again.

You know how I said this month would be better? Well, I did. And I read diligently. And I read some books I'd been meaning to read. And I finished some books I'd started a while ago. And this month's book list takes up nearly half a page in my notebook. And I derive a sense of satisfaction and accomplishment from that.

But: I started typing up the unhelpful reviews for these books and I realize why I've been in such a bad mood. This stuff is terrible. I mean, it's ridiculous. A couple of nights ago I went home from work in a crazy-foul mood and cut off 5 inches of my hair. By myself. I assumed it was hormonal. Then I checked my planner and felt like a moron--this was all me. Yup.

So while I try to calmly pretend that this is really no big deal (and most people think it isn't because my hair looks fine and I seem to have lost the ability to shock anyone anymore), I do have to admit that some of my deep-rooted dissatisfaction must be coming from the pitiful reading month. I like reading and I'm disappointed when a book turns out to be a complete waste of my time.

Capote, Truman. Breakfast at Tiffany's. 1958. New York: Modern Library, 1994.*
At the risk of alienating more than half of this blog's readership, I'm going to be completely honest. I did not like this. I not only did not enjoy this book, I thought it was a bad book. A stupid story. With ridiculous characters. Who do not age well. At all. And maybe that's the point. Maybe I'm supposed to be enthralled with this deeply flawed and wounded character and realize that all of her incredibly off-putting actions are just defense mechanisms that I'm supposed to pity. But I do not. This book stinks. Thank you. I feel better now.

Dietz, Laura. In the Tenth House. New York: Crown, 2007.*
I saw the spine on the bookcase at the library and checked this out. The beginning was slow, the middle was riveting, and then I was just mad. Horrible, pointless book. The plot was ridiculous and tragic and the characters were upper class British people in the Victorian age. Oh help me. I thought I'd take a chance and judge a book by its cover. That will not be happening again soon.

Gibran, Kahlil. The Prophet. 1923. New York: Knopf, 1972.
Well. It was pretty. And brief. I can cross it off the list. The drawings were cool, but can we really get that excited about someone who writes and draws. Didn't Blake already do this? With colors? Am I too jaded?

Traig, Jennifer. Well Enough Alone: A Cultural History of My Hypochondria. New York: Riverheard Books, 2008.*
Oh my goodness, who knew this neurotic hypochondriac would be the bright spot in this month's reading?! It's gross, it's painful, it's hilarious. I liked her book about her OCD, and this is even better because there's no anorexia involved. This made me laugh out loud until I cried. Absolutely fantastic (Cody, who was usually trying to sleep in bed while I was enjoying this, may have a different perspective). And educational. No, really!

Weir, Alison. Queen Isabella: Treachery, Adultery, and Murder in Medieval England. New York: Ballentine Books, 2005.
I'm pretty sad I paid money for this. It was on sale, but not like "sale section of Barnes & Noble" or "library basement used book sale" sale. This biography was not very good. Objectively speaking, I can say it was awful. Because there's revisionist history, and there's feminist perspective, and then there's Alison Weir typing away sentences that end with prepositions while wearing her "I ♥ Isabella" t-shirt. I'm fine with you liking the subject of your work--that's probably a good thing. But when you spend all your time trying you justify her actions and refute the work of historians and scholars no one has ever heard of (mostly because your subject is a little irrelevant), you're going to lose me. Give the readers some credit: we get it. It was the 1300s. Disembowelment happened. Whatever. Sadly, this was the first biography focusing solely on Queen Isabella in roughly 150 years. Bummer that it was.....this.

So. I'm more optimistic about July. I'm currently reading Still Life by A.S. Byatt and A Proper Marriage by Doris Lessing and I think I'm going to ask Cody to recommend one of his nonfiction books about food. I'm also open to your suggestions because I very clearly need some help with picking books.