Friday, December 30, 2011

Fresh Air At Last

And no, I'm not referring to the fact that it's the end of December but it looks and feels like it's mid-March. It's kind of nuts, and I'm glad I'm not a skier because I think I'd be pretty depressed right about now.

I just finished taking all the Christmas decorations down. And it was so refreshing. It's such a weird thing - I love putting them up, I love having them up, I don't want to take them down . . . and yet when I do it's a bit of a relief. They don't take up much space at all, but when they come down it feels like the whole apartment has doubled in size. Isn't it the weirdest feeling?

I think it has something to do with Christmas being at the very end of the calender year. All the talk about new beginnings and renewal and starting fresh and stuff . . . taking the Christmas tree down feels a lot like that first day in the spring that you go out without a jacket comfortably.

Of course, that could have been today as well . . . perhaps Winter and I need to have another talk.


Part of it definitely has to do with Christmas overload. Between all the red and green crap on sale at the first of October and non-stop Christmas carols and commercials starting in Novemeber, even though I love (mostly) everything about the season I think a little part of me just gets sick of it. I mean, when else does society put on a collective play list of about a dozen songs and reduce the collective color palette to three or four colors? It's almost like everyone decides to just put life on hold for the last ten weeks of the year or so. And then, with the dropping of a few balls, perhaps some wine or bad-idea-make-out session, and a bunch of people who haven't stayed up past ten since college staying out all night we all grab our life-remotes and hit play together and finally get going again.

And dang, it's good to finally see the next part, you know? For the most part this is a pretty interesting movie I'm watching here and I generally look forward to each successive scene, so this two and a half month commercial feels a bit endless by the end.

(I feel like I should clarify that that was a metaphor . . . not for those of you I know of - but who knows who else is reading? I have seen the denizens of the internet, and some of them are scary!)

But . . . yeah. Now that they're gone, I feel like I can breathe again. I miss the stockings and candy canes a little bit, I'll be happy to see them again in eleven months. But for now it's just nice to have the space again - even if all that was occupied was a little corner that didn't have anything in it before anyway.

It'll be nice to fill it again when the time comes. :-)

P. ost S. cript
So I was going to post one of the billions of versions of "What Are You Doing New Year's Eve" but I've had, like, 50% of my facebook friends post the Zooey Deschanel one in the last two days, so you've probably already seen it. Which leads to awesome news, because Lacey has now discovered an AMAZING new group! Here's hoping these girls are on Spotify . . . is this not one of the coolest East/West blendings you've ever heard?

Monday, December 26, 2011

The Truth Comes Out

So . . . a couple of months ago I made a vague and slightly cryptic reference to an "announcement" of sorts today.

And it appears most of you immediately guessed that I was pregnant . . .


Actually, since that is most emphatically not the "news" (and this is going to be so anticlimactic comparatively) I was caught quite off guard because it didn't even occur to me that anyone would go there - although I can see now why some people went straight to that conclusion . . . *cough*Erin*cough* ;-)

Anyway. I would ask for a drum roll, but . . . yeah . . . no.

The pictures were for Christmas presents. Specifically, a professionally done photo book that I had printed for both sets of parents. They are hard cover books and turned out looking kind of fabulous if I do say so myself - and if you don't believe me, check out a couple of pages:

(not actual final size. these are screenshots of the pages from the site where I made it.)

Now, I'm sure those of you who know me well are thinking "wait a minute, that girl can't scrapbook worth crap!" Well, you're probably putting it more kindly, but you're right. I can't. Like some sort of reverse Midas touch, all I have to do is look at scrapbook supplies to cause them to wither and shrivel and blacken and basically be ruined. Seriously. But back in January I discovered this AMAZING website (which is also where I put together your book, Grandma & Grandpa) and it is freaking brilliant because it is idiot proof. More specifically, it is Lacey proof. Sure you can get all creative and do everything yourself and make it totally unique and stuff. Or you can use the Lacey Can't Screw This Up method (trademark pending) where you choose a theme, and then you choose a layout for each page, and then you upload the photos you want to use and THEN . . . (this is where the drum roll should go, lol) . . . you drag and drop the pictures in the hole that says "drag and drop picture here." And if you want any text you put it in the box that says "insert text here."

Told you it was Lacey proof. Dude, I tried to screw this up and it still looked great! Not as good as the finished project, but still pretty great. Best move I made all year? Snapping up the $50-for-$15 groupon that popped up in my inbox shortly after making the Grandparental Anniversary Book clear back in January. I also printed one for us and this is SO how I am going to be doing all our family's scrapbooking for the rest of forever. Maybe it's not all cutesy and homemade like everyone else's scrapbooks . . . but it also does not look like it was done by a toddler like all my other attempts at scrapbooking. Yay!

Side note: Luke's parents loved it. In fact, I might even go so far as to say that it was their favorite thing under the tree. I haven't heard any opinions from my parents yet . . . so I'm just going to assume they're working on forgiving us for not including an ultrasound photo page at the very end. Which is soooooooo not how we would have announced it anyway. But my mother did take her shrines to me and Shayla down this year for Christmas decorations . . . who knows, maybe she'll leave them down as a hint that she wants to create grandkid shrines now.

Side side note for those not in the know: okay, they're not exactly shrines, per se. But ever since I can remember all the family pictures have been confined to the hallway - out of sight to pretty much everyone who ever comes to the house but doesn't live there. But after having two daughters get married, mom went a little Mrs. Bennett on us and covered the top of the piano and one of the end tables in bridal/engagement/wedding pictures of the two/four of us. Someone who didn't know better would never know there are four kids in our family. Therefore, I have dubbed the displays shrines. Because I can.

Anyway. Sorry if I disappointed anyone . . . but I am quite delighted at my new found fake-scrapbooking skills. And you all should still check out Elise for all your photography needs because seriously, you can see how fabulous she is. (you are coming back up here, right Elise?)

And that is all. Happy first day of Kwanzaa/second day of Christmas/fifth(?) day of Hanukkah everybody!

P. ost S. cript
Yeah, totally posted this last year. But it's still awesome . . . especially the intro. Alliteration for the win!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Christmas Musings

Feeling conflicted about laughing? That's okay, so am I.

Anyway - I get the feeling I am going to offend people this time around . . . so, uh . . . there was your warning.

~ So for about the last month I've been looking forward to going to the mall and picking a name off the angel tree and finding the perfect present for some sweet little kid who deserves it. I'm sure you can all imagine my disappointment at seeing that there is no such tree at the mall this year. Instead . . . I'm not really sure just who this tree is providing for or why - since there was neither sign nor explanation anywhere in sight - but suffice it to say that were we able to afford a flat screen tv we'd be a little greedy and get one for ourselves first, and things like frosting and twine and scrapbook paper just don't inspire any sort of "doing such a good deed" feelings. And I'm really curious as to who decided the kids didn't need anything this year.

~ Remember the Christmas "warriors"? Of course you do, they wouldn't let you forget them if your life depended on it. They REALLY seem to be out in full force this year. And by that, of course, I mean that I am seeing people among my facebook friends choosing to be counted among their number. It's been rather disheartening, and frankly has been driving me nuts . . . as you may have noticed with a few of my recent facebook statuses (stati?). I get the feeling that my last rant will far exceed the character limit on facebook - so I shall preach to the choir (but pretend the people who need to see it actually will):

You know what the most obnoxious thing is about the people who are all "you can say 'happy holidays' to other people but you better say 'merry Christmas' to ME!" on facebook for, like, the entire month of December? Not only is it passive-aggressive, it's pretty much the most useless thing a Christmas "warrior" could possibly do! I mean, HELLO!!! The people you're friends with on facebook? They're, like, you know, your . . . FRIENDS. As in - people you actually know (theoretically). People who know you. People who know you celebrate Christmas and therefore shower you with the appropriate greeting. You know who doesn't see your rant? People you don't know, who don't know you, and who therefore do not know what you celebrate. Believe it or not, when you post something like that it is not broadcast on the evening news along with your profile picture to make sure that everyone in the vicinity knows what to say to you. That tired, overworked cast member . . . I mean cashier . . . that you screamed at because it's okay for them to tell other people happy holidays but they should just know to tell you merry Christmas? Guess what - they have NO WAY of "just knowing" who you are and what you do. They have a 50/50 chance of getting it right or offending you and they happened to guess wrong. But they've never seen you before and they'll never see you again (lucky them) and they probably don't really care how you spend December 25. And seriously what is up with this "it's okay for others but I want it my way" mentality? You may as well post a status that says "include everyone on your own time, when you're with me I prefer excluding people" or "I'm more important than everyone else so make sure you cater to my preferences." Seriously, what makes happy holidays okay to say to others (presumably including other people who celebrate Christmas) but utterly unacceptable for strangers to say to you? That sort of self-important privileged thinking quite frankly disgusts me, and I'm really hoping the small number of my friends who have re-posted it did so without actually thinking about what they were saying.

Okay, that went on a little longer than I was anticipating. You people need to stop me when I get on a roll like that . . . :-)

Anyway. Moving on.

~ Our tree is the little 3 foot baby tree I've had since college. Years of outdoor storage have taken their toll, and when I put it up 3 weeks ago one of the branches didn't come out of the box with the rest of the tree . . . the plastic just snapped. It's a little sad I suppose . . . but Walmart has trees twice the size for $20. And now we have room for one that size so I will SOOOOO be snatching one up around this time next week - YAY!!!!!!!!! Full size Christmas tree again!!!!!! Here's wishing a real tree was a little more affordable. Also - we may have to finally invest in some lights for our bigger tree.

~ Fully prepared for there to be no repeat of last year's Christmas awkward on Wednesday . . . which means, of course, that some random person I never talk to is going to show up with some hand woven tablecloth or something. (Oh! Oh! I know - Katie, what do you want to bet Ms. How-do-you-scroll shows up with some loving crafted quilts or something, lol)

~ If we do not have a white Christmas I will be seriously unhappy. If I liked green Christmases we'd still be in Florida. (well - it's a lot more complicated than that . . . but it sounded good!)

~ There is an inflatable Christmas tree out on our "front lawn." It's tall enough to just about reach our windows. I'd just like to take a moment to remind everyone that we're on the second level - and state that I've never really understood the whole inflatable lawn decorations thing.

Anyway . . . yeah. Woo hoo for Christmas . . . and all the other holidays and any other excuse people can find to party this month. Yay!!

P. ost S. cript
Saw this commercial a couple of hours ago and I am still cracking up. I can only assume that Clapper sales have been dropping off the last couple of years . . . you can only get someone so many of those and chia pets every year before you just need a new no-thought-required gift. So let's upgrade the old one!!! :-)

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Something Tangible

Ummmmmmm . . . yes please. Delivered to me by its captain, please. (and in the flesh, not in gingerbread!!)

So this whole post is all about me being a cliche wrapped in a . . . I don't know, something else cliched. But while I totally have no shame about not making New Year's resolutions, I do sometimes feel a little left out when people talk about theirs. Not so much in a "hey, can't I play?" sort of way as much as a "hey, maybe I am missing out on something good" sort of way. And so, even though I do have a goal - sort of - for the new year, it's another forever ongoing one kind of like last years, so it kind of feels like another cop-out . . . sort of. So I'm adding something else. Something that has to be done within the calender year of 2012. Something that can be measured, success-wise. And this post - all of you - are going to be what makes sure I don't back out at the last minute . . . assuming, I suppose that there are still people reading a year from now.

Have you heard of NaNoWriMo? It's kind of a big deal, in a comparatively small circle. Anyway, here's the "tl;dr" version - National Novel Writing Month. Every November. The idea is that you write word one on November 1, and by the end of the month the goal is to have written 50,000 words. That works out to about 175 pages, which is a good first draft of a novella or a good beginning to a longer novel. Of course, it is just a first draft, and likely to need lots of editing and other work - far from publication ready, or even submission ready! I sometimes get the feeling that a lot of people forget that, and that's where Lacey's worst books ever written come from.


I've been wanting to do NaNoWriMo for a few years now, but there's a lot more involved than just picking up a pen on November first. You have to at least have, you know, an idea for a story. Some thoughts about where it's going. It takes some prep work. And every year around this time I tell myself I'm going to do it next year . . . and every year I forget about it until November 1, at which point it's pretty much too late because I have no ground work laid to work from. But let's be honest - I will never have the free time to spend churning out 1600 words a day for 30 straight days like I do now (and currently anticipate having this time next year . . . just so that's established). So that's where all the cliches come in - "now is the time" and "if a goal isn't written down it's only a dream" and all that trite, cheesy goodness.

Here it is. I'm writing it down. I'm doing it. I'll spend the next ten months outlining and character creating and all that jazz and come November I'll be ready to go. Maybe I'll register officially, maybe I'll just do it on my own. But I'm doing it, and I'm hoping you'll all help me keep on track and not forget about it.

For starters . . . anyone have a story idea? :-)

P. ost S. cript
For those of you still frantically searching for a Christmas present from me, lol . . . this.

(the sound quality isn't the best . . . if you can't tell, it's that "BWONG!!!!" sound from Inception . . . which would also make me an awesome present.)

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Appealing to Those with More June Cleaver in Them than I

I sliced open two fingers while cooking today. (they're both still attached, don't worry!) Now that the pain has subsided - and one hurt so bad I'm telling myself it must rival childbirth because that helps me believe I'll be able to survive it . . . childbirth, not the cut. Anyway. Now that I'm no longer in pain I'm not sure whether to be -

A ~ embarrassed that neither happened while I was chopping onions with a rather sharp knife.

B ~ ashamed that one was on a canned corn can lid and the other was on the dishwasher . . . still haven't figured out how I managed that one.

C ~ insane for admitting my incredible talent for hurting myself in ways that would make Bella Swan mock me.

So I'm asking everyone out there who can manage to make taco soup without seasoning it with blood (which I didn't!) - A, B, or C?

P. ost S. cript
Want a peek into where Luke and I live? Here you go! A few fun facts:
~ Apparently I should have gone shopping on black Friday this year.
~ This building gives new definition to "mini mall." It is seriously MINIATURE. In fact, you see it all here, pretty much.
~ At least 95% of the audience was planted there for the video. There are NEVER that many people there - not even on black Friday!
~ Pretty sure I saw at least half a dozen people I know.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Celebrating (Imminent) Success

End of the year blog meme time, yay! I've seen this one around a bit lately, and since I'm within single digits of reaching my only tangible goal for the year - reading 150 books - this shall be my reward party.

And since you've all totally been watching my little ticker over there >>>>>>>>>>>> with baited breath all year - yep, I am down to nine more . . . woo hoo!!! There were times when I wondered if I'd pull it off.

Anyway. Meme time.

1) What author do you own the most books by?

Tough call. Rick Riordan and L.M. Montgomery are both up there. Does my collected works of Jane Austen book count for each novel? Because then she'd probably take the title when you include the duplicate copies.

2) What book do you own the most copies of?

I only own double copies of three Jane Austens.

3) Did it bother you that both those questions ended with prepositions?

I usually don't notice until it's pointed out. So . . . thanks for that.

4) What fictional character are you secretly in love with?

Character? As in . . . singular? Can I just say "all of them" and have it count as one?

Marius Pontmercy
Gilbert Blythe
Fitzwilliam Darcy
Colonel Brandon
Sir Percival Blakeney
Rhett Butler
. . . and any others who might slightly resemble any of the above

5) What book have you read the most times in your life (excluding picture books read to children; i.e., Goodnight Moon does not count)?

Probably Tuck Everlasting . . . but I reread books a lot, so it's hard to say.

6) What was your favorite book when you were ten years old?

You really have to be more specific - I've never had consistent favorites. Favorite book on my tenth birthday? Favorite fantasy book when I was ten that I read that summer? Those I could answer.

7) What is the worst book you’ve read in the past year?

Hard to say. In an attempt to make a dent in my massive to-read list I've found myself reading a lot of vanity/self-published
stuff lately. I'm sure there are some gems in that pile, but most of what I've found epitomizes why that was the route those people took. These, however, fall into the category of worst-of-the-worst.

9) If you could force everyone to read one book, what would it be?

Again, hard to say. The Happiness Project comes to mind, but I think I'd prefer to tailor my recommendation to each person.

10) Who deserves to win the next Nobel Prize for Literature?

Me. Totally. :-)

11) What book would you most like to see made into a movie?

Do I really need to get into my do-not-turn-books-into-movies-ever rant again?

12) What book would you least like to see made into a movie?

See above.

13) Describe your weirdest dream involving a writer, book, or literary character.

I don't generally recognize people in my dreams. I know I know them, and I know where I know them from (high school, Florida, books, etc.) but I don't usually know who they actually are.

14) What is the most lowbrow book you’ve read as an adult?

Ummmmm . . . what part of "vanity press" strikes anyone as high brow?! Anyway . . . yeah. I totally read fluffy stuff. Gotta balance out Austen and Milton and Wilde and Dickens and such somehow.

15) What is the most difficult book you’ve ever read?

Define difficult. While I speak it pretty well (or, at least I used to) I can't read French to save my life, so the stuff in my French lit classes were brutal. (and yet I hold on to the more than slightly insane goal of reading Les Mis in french someday. Unabridged.) I've never had to much trouble with Shakespeare or any "old school" stuff - if you go a little slower it's really not that hard. That said, I struggled with Wuthering Heights the first time . . . I think I was a little too young for the writing style. Also, somehow I ended up with a copy of Canterbury Tales in the original Middle English for a concurrent enrollment class my senior year.
Kind of hard to read a book that is literally in a different language . . . especially when you think it's in yours.

16) What is the most obscure Shakespeare play you’ve seen?

Sadly, the only one I've seen is Macbeth - kind of shameful when you consider where I went to college, eh?

Also: donations for Lacey's ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY trip to Cedar next summer are being accepted starting . . . wait for it . . . now. Because with front page news like that . . . yeah. I have to go.

17) Do you prefer the French or the Russians?

Oh! Oh! New answer for most difficult!! I've never finished anything by a Russian - and heaven knows I've tried. I will get through Anna Karenina someday, dangit!

Hugo? Is my hero. One of them.

18) Roth or Updike?

Haven't read either, actually. I probably should fix that.

19) David Sedaris or Dave Eggers?


20) Shakespeare, Milton, or Chaucer?

Okay, I haven't actually read any Milton yet . . . I said I was working on my to-read list, not that it was done. Tough call - Shakespeare is a bit easier to read un-translated, but Chaucer's dirty jokes are easier to get.

What? You didn't know that those are two of the dirtiest writers in the history of writing?

21) Austen or Eliot?

I shall echo others' answers: which Eliot? And why Eliot? Because when I think of authors similar to Austen, Eliot doesn't even make the top, like, 100.

22) What is the biggest or most embarrassing gap in your reading?

I don't know that there are any large gaps in my collected readings, but there are a few that would make me feel like I should turn in my degree if I admitted to them.

23) What is your favorite novel?

Today? The FitzOsbournes in Exile. Mostly because it's the last one I finished . . . well, the last good one anyway. Can't wait for the third one.

24) Play?

Ummmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm . . . Much Ado. But mostly just because I've got Shakespeare on the brain from all these questions.

25) Poem?

I'm not a huge poetry person, but I do have a bit of a thing for "Dover Beach" by Matthew Arnold.

26) Essay?

Really don't do essays. Montaigne, I guess. Since I've read him.

27) Short story?

Again, not so much with the short stories. That said, a former professor of mine has a great collection out there (umm . . . shameless plug alert!) And I am a bit of a junkie of anything Millhauser.

28) Work of nonfiction?

I almost never read it so this is easy - The Happiness Project.

29) Who is your favorite writer?

Today? Ummmmmmm . . . Jane Austen, Jo Rowling, Jasper Fforde, and Emily Bronte

30) Who is the most overrated writer alive today?

Stephenie Meyer . . . Jack Weyland . . . oh! - Jodi Picoult! I really don't get why she's so huge. I wanted to like her since I'm practically the only person who doesn't, but all her books are the same - sex and violence that serves no real purpose beyond shock value to get people talking about her books.

31) What is your desert island book?

If ever I find myself on a desert island, it will be the chunk of land that castle from Beauty and the Beast is on, which mysteriously floated away from . . . ummm . . . all the land surrounding it . . . and I shall never leave.

32) And … what are you reading right now?

Dreams of Joy. I read Shanghai Girls this summer and really liked it, so I have high hopes for this one, but I haven't gotten very far yet.

P. ost S. cript
Totally fitting. Also totally awesome. And totally spot on.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

No Rest For The Grammar Nazi

The Santa Clause. Clever movie. You've seen it, don't lie. (feel free to lie about seeing the sequels though) It came out in 1994. I was . . . well, since this is the internet I shall just say that my age had two digits and I was not a teenager. Even then I thought it was an immensely clever title. Because you see, the mythical fat man in a red suit is named Santa Claus. No e on the end. There's an e on the end in the title of the movie because the movie isn't talking about the Bearded Dude (or Jeff Bridges . . . ten points!). No, the title was referencing the legal definition of the word clause, which is a stipulation or article in a legal document. As in "if you put on the red suit you are contractually obligated to keep it on blah, blah, blah." The clause pertaining to being Santa, if you will. And they even made the e a different color to emphasize what they were going for. And maybe I'm being a little arrogant here, but as a child still in elementary school I recognized that, got it, and enjoyed the pun.

So it breaks my heart a little to see that now, 17 years later, somehow everyone has come to believe that the jolly old elf's name is Santa Clause. Because you can hardly find it in writing anywhere properly any more. I think I die a little inside every time I see it spelled wrong. And you know Santa's gotta be pretty ticked by now. I hate it when people misspell my name, and I haven't been around for a century or two. I think this shall be my battle in the "war" on Christmas. Team CLAUS, y'all.

I would hide everyone in my facebook feed who spells it wrong . . . but I don't think I'd have many people left unhidden by the end of the month.

Let the Christmas blogging begin - happy holidays folks!

P. ost S. cript
Talk about a movie that just won't end - I much prefer this version!!