Tania's Words

here is an empty shell- a resonant shadow- waiting

Archive for January, 2010

On being a Lostie who reads Fitzgerald and Nora Roberts

Let’s see, what have I been up to? Umm…a lot of nothing I think.

At least, I don’t seem to have anything fantastic to tell you. I’ve been working out a lot. I really want to win this Biggest Loser competition we are having. I don’t think I will (I am currently in 6th place), but I am gonna keep giving it my all. Which means a lot of gym time and a lot of workouts at Maura’s house- both of which are awesome!

Speaking of the gym, I’ve finally mastered reading and working out. Well, depending on the workout. I can now read on the elliptical and when walking on the treadmill. Which really helps, especially on the elliptical, which I find mind numbingly boring.  Thanks to my new skill, I read The Great Gatsby for the first time.  Yeah, I know, how weird, I made it through high school and a degree in English Lit without ever having to read it. Which is sad because I loved it. Absolutely loved it. It was so beautifully written, I cannot wait to read it again sometime.

Because I am me, I also re read my two favourite Little House books again. I’ve literally read these both so much that my copies have fallen apart. I had to borrow Maura’s copies. Which led to this fantastic idea I’ve had.

Well maybe not fantastic, but I still like it. I am going to keep track of every book I read this year, even re reads. I’ve always wondered how much I read in a year, and if I can stick with this, it’ll be a cool list, I think.  I just have to be willing to own up to some of the crap I read. I read a lot of crap. I like to think that I make up for it by reading some awesome stuff. But lets face it, I’ve been known to read a shampoo bottle when I have nothing to read. I just have to read. It is essential for my mental health. So I read a lot, and some of it happens to be trashy Nora Roberts novels. Sue me.

So, other than reading and working out, I’ve also been watching LOST non stop and ignoring my dirty house. But in an effort to redeem this inexcusable laziness, I’ve begun working on a baby blanket for little Eva Jan. That makes up for the crazy wreck that my house has become, right?

I can’t help it, I love Lost. After Dan and I finally watched the end of Season 5 (I love you Netflix), I decided to watch the other seasons in order to get a good refresher and reminder course. There is so much mythology to remember! I still cannot believe how much more you catch watching it back. The creators said from the beginning that they knew where they were going with the whole series, and after watching just the first episode again, I believe them! As of right now, I am about halfway through Season 2, which means I have to deal with Ana Lucia, who was probably my least favourite character barring Mr. Eko. Go ahead and throw tomatoes Losties! I don’t care how cool you think Mr. Eko was, he made me want to go to sleep. Snoooore!

And now, it is time for me to close this fascinating blog post. My fingers are numb. I must convince Dan to line the doors and windows with plastic, otherwise I will be in danger of freezing to death.

In case you were curious, upcoming books on my list to read:

The Help – Katheryn Stockett

The Lost Symbol- Dan Brown

Dangerous Liasons- Choderlos de Laclos

Professional development for strippers or lessons in empowerment?

Be warned, today’s post might be a bit more risque than usual. This was meant to be yesterday’s blog, but alas, time got away from me. That is, I chose to watch four episodes of last seasons LOST with Dan. Good times.

Moving on. Yesterday proved to be one of those days where random and hilarious stuff happens.  Maybe only hilarious to me, but since I was amused, it was enough for me.

As I was exiting an appointment, yesterday around noon, I approached my car, only to be accosted by a flier for pole dancing classes (and by accosted, I mean it was stuck in my window).  I must admit that at first, I thought it was an add for a strip club, which seemed a little out of place in West Bloomfield. What led me astray? Perhaps it was the silhouette of a busty lady on a pole. Or it could have been the overly cute pink and black decor. You decide.

Anyway, I was curious enough to actually read the flier, which has since provided me with at least 24 hours of not only amusement, but also some deep thinking. A twofer. How rare.

Here’s what it said ” For years exotic dancing has served as an outlet for men to escape. Although, in recent times this art form has become not only an escape for men, but also a release for women. It provides a platform for women to display sensuality, sexuality, and confidence. No longer taboo, women can now approach the stage with fearlessness and self-assurance.  Now, with XXXX we intend to bring the essentials of exotic dancing, with added layers of physical fitness, sodality, and entertainment. Interest may range from professional to personal. Whether women want to spice it up in the bedroom or just have a fun time with their girlfriends. XXXX is dedicated to providing a warm and inviting environment while promoting sisterhood, self-possession, and good health.”

Oh man. Where to begin. I’m not even going to touch the awkward grammar. First, I had to look up the word Sodality, because I won’t lie, I had no idea what it meant. According to dictionary.com, it means fellowship, or, A society or an association, especially a devotional or charitable society for the laity in the Roman Catholic Church.

Huh. I’m not sure the Roman Catholic Church is gonna get behind this one. Just saying.

Ok, second- I am confused. Am I supposed to learn to pole dance because it is going to empower me, or to learn to be a stripper so I can get a good job? Apparently I can do both. Now  I cannot speak for all women, and I’ve never been a stripper, so this may be out of line. But I have known a few strippers (when you work in food service, you meet a little bit of everything and everyone). And I don’t think that stripping empowered either of them. For one, stripping funded a drug problem, and for the other, it was the only means of making fast enough cash to find a place to live after being kicked out of her parents house.

Now, I’ve never thought much about it, but always assumed that stripping (as in, being a stripper in a club or whatnot), was just another way to exploit women. If you disagree, please feel free to sway me to your side. I love a good argument.

Serious matters aside, just the way this add is written begs me to ask a few questions. “For years exotic dancing has served as an outlet for men to escape.” Wait a minute. Are the men dancing? What are they escaping? To be honest, the thought of male exotic dancers makes me want to escape.

“Although, in recent years, this art form has become not only an escape for men, but a release from women.”  I’m going to side step some rather obvious jokes here, and wonder, am I the only woman who isn’t into male exotic dancers? Is the author or said add not aware that it sounds like this add is for Chippendales?

Skip the next few lines to the line, “No longer taboo.” Ok- is being a stripper no longer taboo, or is learning to strip no longer taboo? Is this taboo in the literal sense (in which case, it hasn’t been, since as far as I know, there are strip clubs everywhere, and I challenge you to say you don’t know someone who has been to one. I challenge you. Gauntlet thrown), or is it no longer taboo as in, it is the cool new thing  to go to strip clubs?

“Interest may range from professional to social.” So…is this professional development for strippers or lessons in empowerment for housewives? I am all for empowerment, but I don’t know how many women, with a secret yearning to learn how to pole dance, are going to pay to learn to strip with women who are learning to strip because they need a job.  I don’t think it is a very empowering message to send to women- learn to strip so you’ll be self confident, and also, so you can get a job where someone will be exploiting you. Yeah.  How can this add purport to be “promoting sisterhood, self-possesion, and good health”? If I am really being a sister to my other lady friends out there, I think I would encourage them to use their other gifts, talents, and intelligence to get a job which will garner them the respect they deserve, and will empower them to love themselves.

If you are interested however, you can book a party with your friends. These feature Poletinis and Nibblets, which I assume are drinks and food. But they could be crazy pole dancing moves, in which case, I hesitate to ask, what is a nibblet?

Ok, and now that I have you all riled up because of my views on stripping, for the second hilarious thing that happened.

It was nearing dinner time and I was busy pulling about 75 giblets out of a 5 lb chicken (the packaging assured me that some chickens won’t come with all the giblets. I know why now. Because my chicken got them all), when I hear Dan calling me from the other room to come quick, two cats are about to get into a fight in our yard.

My life is just that exciting, that I dropped my chicken and did in fact, come running. Out the back window I can see the cats. One is a regular visitor- a large grey tabby that visits Punky and Peanut through the windows often. The other is a smaller tortoiseshell cat much like Peanut- mostly black with weird coloring. Anyway. The two cats are squaring off. The glooming sky is darkening, the snow sets a stark contrast as the black cat lays his ears flat and hisses (I assume he hissed). Parker, Dan and I are riveted. And then…a mouse runs between the two cats, and turns around to watch the fight…and watches the fight.

That is right. A mouse literally ran between the two cats, and they didn’t even bat an eye (I assume, they were too far away for me to see their eyes).

Oh and in case you still care, the grey cat totally kicked the black cat’s butt. After the fur had settled, and the snow where the black cat was defeated had been peed on (I assume), I returned to my chicken. The mouse, comfortable in the knowledge that it had no enemies, hung out in the back yard for a while. By now I assume he’s infiltrated my house and is after my plethora of chicken giblets. Time will tell.

The cold that killed my will to write.

Welcome to the procrastination station. All are welcome.

No seriously. I finished Emma today, which means I have to read Austen’s unpublished works and letters next, but I don’t have them, and forgot to borrow them. I had already decided that once I was done with the madness of the Austen spree, I’d edit the Beach House, I should be doing that. Instead, I am listening to Muse and facebook stalking several people who would probably prefer not to be the victims of my laziness. I’m just saying.

And the thing is, I want to finish the book. I want to edit it. But I have the cold from Hades (Seriously, this is the cold that will not die), I’ve eaten approximately 900 calories (probably because I have some amazing post nasal drip that is absolutely killing my appetite), and I worked out with Maura. We did the Biggest Loser Last Chance Workout, with heavy weights. After that, really I have enough energy left over to…lay in bed and stare at a wall?

But really, I know once I get started editing, I’ll get sucked in. Its just the getting started part that sucks. I know there are a lot of missing scenes to be written, which mentally are more taxing that regular editing.  If I knew what I wanted to write in those missing scenes I would have done it when I wrote it, or edited the first two times. Sigh. I am complaining I know.  At least I have Muse to keep me company.  Plus, really, why am I putting so much effort into this book? The chances of it actually getting published are ridiculously small. The chances of anyone other than my friends (who really, probably feel like they have to read it) reading it just as small. I guess I’ll just have to enjoy the fruits of my labor alone.

At least, at the end of the day, I’ll have written a book.  Writing is the best therapy sometimes, and goodness knows I am in need of some serious therapy. Plus, I think it is especially beneficial to keep my creative muscle exercised and ready to go, in case I shall ever have any need to use it in an emergency. Like, if the only way to prevent nuclear holocaust was by writing an amazing poem in five minutes….or something.

Speaking of creativity, I went to Michael’s, aided by a wonderful gift card my father-in-law gave me for Christmas. Went mad with the promise of shiny new scrap booking tools. Shopped my little heart out. Came home and organized said scrap booking stuff.  Now, I must scrap book with them. Which should be fun as I am making Parker’s baby book. Scrap booking is much more fun with friends though, so I’ll wait until Pilar or Maura or Laura can scrap book with me. Until then,I must,  I must, I must write my book (anyone but me flashback to Are You There God, It’s Me, Margaret? I must, I must, I must increase my bust….)

Some kind of crazy reading spree…

I think I’ll go for broke with this blogging business and get at least four in for the month. I think I only blogged 7 times total last year, so I am well on my way to surpassing all previous expectations. Or something.

Might I just take this moment to say that there are times when I really miss my LiveJournal? I loved my layout, I loved my little hamster, and I loved the option for what I was listening too. Now I realize I could just add that in to every post, but somehow it doesn’t feel the same. And I also realize that most people could probably care less what I was listening too when I blogged. But I do. I love being able to look back and see where I was musically at that moment. Probably because music is such a huge part of my life (not that I am a musician or anything). I just love being surrounded by music.

In case anyone is wondering, I am listening to Imogen Heap, Have you got it in you?

This week I’ve been on a reading tear. I read the Red Tent, by Anita Diamant. It was good, but at times a bit strange for my tastes. But it was beautifully written, and I loved the idea of getting to know the stories of the women in the bible from their perspective. I would recommend it with a grain of salt. I also read Northanger Abbey, by Jane Austen (who else?). I loved it. Really really loved it.  It was so much less edited than the other Austen’s, I felt like I was getting to know her real voice.  Or maybe just her younger voice? Either way, I found it at times hilarious, romantic, and interesting.

Now I am more than halfway through Emma, which, after having read the other two in a week, is quite the feat, as Emma is over 400pg long. Unlike Mansfield Park, which I must say, I dutifully slogged through, Emma is a lot more fun.  I rather don’t like Emma herself all that much, but I think she is intended to be a more sympathetic or like able character than I am giving her credit for. It helps to imagine Emma as Cher in Clueless though- makes me view her actions and attitudes much less harshly.

Although I am enjoying Emma, and have enjoyed the Austen spree, I am really very glad it is almost over. I know I must read her unfinished works and letters, but Maura and I are still searching for the best version to purchase. I have been longing to read other things for a while now. But I knew that if I strayed off the path, I’d be in danger of never returning. Especially after Mansfield Park.

I’ve also been longing to get back to the third edit of The Beach House. Speaking of which, this book needs a new name, STAT. Anyone who is reading it (either chapters or those who have the whole 2nd edit), any suggestions? Hopefully some are actually reading it lol, or this plea will be all for naught. I have to get the third edit done by March, because I’ve promised to let the book club girls read it, and it is in some kind of shabby shape right now. But I’ve been thinking about it more lately, and do so want to get back to Elle’s world.

I am off to read and relax. Parker refused to sleep at Pilar’s, so he went to bed a little later and threw my whole evening off. Poor thing was screaming bloody murder. But it was made up for by the absolute cuteness of him running into the laundry room in his pj’s, finding Pilar’s broom (he loves loves loves brooms), and staring at me hopefully with tears still on his chubby little cheeks, asking in the cutest little way, “Boom? Boom?” God I love that boy.  He got another hair cut today (A Mom’s Hatchet Job Special), and he looks like a whole new boy. So much more like a little boy and so much less like a baby.  It is such a cliche, but it really goes by so fast. It seems like time just sped up a whole lot after I had him- there is so much to love and treasure and so many amazing moments to cherish, it just feels like there isn’t time enough and soon it will all be over.

The one with no higher meaning

I seem to have a blogging problem. It used to be, I’d blog about anything. Sometimes it made no sense, sometimes it was kind of funny or quirky, and sometimes, I actually had something to say. I don’t know if it is increased blog pressure, or what, but for some reason I feel as though this new blog deserves better. Which is kind of sad, because I loved my old blog. It was totally me, very rarely filtered. I don’t know how many people who were reading it were actually enjoying it, but hey, what can you do?

Well, to recap this weekend, I….wait a minute I don’t remember.

Sigh…ok this happens all the time. I literally have no clue what I did the day before half the time. Is that insanity? Old age?

I do remember that Saturday was one of those crazy days where I was running around like a mad beast trying to get stuff done, including going to Sams Club with Pilar, Paige and Parker. The whole day is a blur of missed meals and headachyness, other than the driving from Farmington, to Canton, to West Bloomfield (to take care of my mom’s dog, Mattie),  to Mt. Clemens,  for an awesome Arbonne workshop, then back to Canton (by now with a horrible migraine) to pick up Parker, then finally back to Farmington. Holy Moses did I drive that day.

But, I did have an amazing and fun time at the Arbonne workshop (not party, as our consultant Michael made sure to stress). I had enough fun with the makeup that I am having a “Smokey Eye” workshop of my own. Ever wanted to learn to do a smokey eye? Come on over!

Really the worst part of the day was the migraine I got when I left the party. Seriously, absolutely one of the worst headaches I have ever had. I couldn’t walk straight, see, I could barely talk. Dan asked me if I’d been drinking when  I got home (I hadn’t), because I was so out of it.

Thankfully, this too did pass. Other highlights of the weekend (for some reason, I still think this is the weekend, owing to the fact that Dan has today off), included working out a lot, losing a few pounds this week (so that I may KILL at our friendly Biggest Loser weigh in on Friday), and finally, Ta Ta Daaaaaa! Finishing Mansfield Park. Now all I have left is Emma and Northanger Abbey, and the unfinished stuff. But for now I should probably read The Red Tent, since TBC is next week.

Ha! How is that for a useless and random blog! No higher meaning! No real purpose! I go. I hope you aren’t asleep.

On International Varieties of Ghosts and Fighting Jane Austen…Sort of.

We need to talk about my obsession with these Ghost Hunter tv shows on the SyFy channel. They are really terrible, and yet, it it like a car wreck. I just can’t look away. I think they are starting to warp my brain in a sad sort of way.  Parker was playing on the floor and he crawled into my lap to play with my hair. He was being really cute and giving me kisses and laughing hysterically. And all I could think about was…what if my house was haunted? What if my son was possessed?

The kicker is, that I don’t believe in ghosts or haunting. Yeah. I am just that suggestible. If that is even a phrase.

Anyway, I did manage to focus on playing with my baby, thank goodness. Poor little guy got four shots today, and took them like a trooper. His trip to the doctor was probably the most ambitious thing I attempted all day, other than waking up at 5:30. For some reason I am just unreasonably lazy today. I can’t even bring myself to pick up the toys in my family room. I’ve been reading Mansfield Park and watching…of course….Ghost Hunters International. Yes, this show comes in both domestic and imported flavours.

Speaking of Mansfield Park, I’ve been getting more and more into it. I have to say that I love, love, love that classics are available at Barnes and Nobles for only 5$.  The version of M. P. I have seems to have a wonderful introductory essay in the beginning, which I only skimmed. Unlike many other Austen novels, I was not remotely familiar with the story, and therefore didn’t want to ruin the storyline. Anyway, I am into the story enough that I started to jot down some reactions to the book while Dan was hogging the internet with his video game.

First, I must confess that I am only halfway through Mansfield Park, yet despite this fact, I feel the need to discuss it. So if you’ve read it or are reading it, feel free to throw rotten tomatoes at me, or just tell me what you are thinking, comment away!

I’ve heard and read that M.P. is often a lesser favourite amongst Austen fans- complaints that Fanny doesn’t do anything, say anything, excite much interest of any sort; basically that she’s pretty boring and lame.  And while I have to agree in some sense- after all Mary Crawford reminds me much more of Elizabeth Bennet (P&P), than does Fanny, I think this book is really rather interesting for other reasons.

But first I have to digress and talk about Mary for a moment. In so many ways she is so like Eliza in P&P…outspoken and a bit saucy, opinionated and yet friendly. So why do I not like her the way that I liked Eliza? It isn’t that I am in Fanny’s corner so to speak…I mean, I don’t really care if Fanny get’s Edmund in the end…but Mary rubs me the wrong way…

Now, I love a good romance. And Austen does romance so well in books like Persuasion and Pride and Prejudice, it is hard to come from reading those (and even Sense and Sensibility, which I didn’t like as well, but was also at its core, a romance), to reading Mansfield Park, where the focus is so much more broad and sweeping. Well maybe this isn’t the right way to put it. But this book doesn’t seem to be, at its core, about love or romance. I get more of a feeling that it is a broader social portrait or commentary on a microcosm of society.

Let me just remind myself that I haven’t finished the book, so I’d probably be better off leaving the generalizations aside. Anyway. I had to remark, however, that this book is interesting when you look at it from another angle (other than the romance angle, that is). Austen does so well giving us a microcosm of her world and society, of painting a larger picture with it. One thing that has struck me so well with M.P is the way she imagines the idea of “Improvement.”

All over this book are references to “improvements” of places- Sotherton and Thornton Lacey for example.  The question of what to do and how best to improve the look and feel and sense of these places is unavoidable. Take into account as well other “improvements” we see throughout the book, (turning Sir Thomas’s study into a theater for example), I found it interesting in juxtaposition with the development of the characters, who don’t seem to have as equal of a chance at improvement.

The first example of this which comes to mind is that of Mr. Rushworth, who is generally though badly of by all in the Crawford clan once they get to know him. At one point Edmund even remarks that there isn’t much that could ever really make him more tolerable, even with time. He’s basically seen and stupid and boring and…well…totally lame. And everyone is like, Oh well, he’s lame, but good thing he’s rich. Yay. And yet no one thinks that in time, he’ll develop a personality, or you know, mature in anyway.

I haven’t reached my conclusions yet, however, I think it will be interesting to see how this idea develops as I read on. The idea that landmarks and places, things which we might see as unchanging and immutable in general, can be so generally regarded as easily fixed, or repaired; while people might be seen as stamped forever into the mold they were born to. This interests me. People often seem to fall into one of two categories. Those of us who believe that people can change, and those who think that people cannot.

Now I cannot speak for Jane Austen, but based on certain evidence (One Mr. Darcy), I’ve gotten the impression that she did believe that with the right incentive or cause, people could change. So I am interested to see how this plays out through the rest of the novel.

Of course, I am an idealist, so I firmly believe that people can change. Maybe this is why I believe that Ms. Austen felt this way as well. I’ve always felt that if even only one person in the world has managed it (to change that is), then it is possible for anyone. And you can’t tell me that in the whole history of the world, this hasn’t happened.  I challenge you.

Ok, now that I’ve thrown down my gauntlet, I am off to read more of my book. Draw some more random and probably crazy conclusions that make no sense. Well, if you’ve made it this far into my random post of nonsense, congratulations! You win the perseverance award for the day.  Go you.

Crock pot dinner gets 2010 off to a great start.

Well, lets face it…I was a bit of a blogging failure in 2009. In fact, I’ve been a bit of a blogging failure ever since Bloggate 2007 ( I’ll explain that one later). Anyway, moving on. If Step One is admitting I have a problem, Step Two must be assigning blame.  Now, now, don’t you start with your pious, “There is no one to blame but yourself” speeches…  I must blame someone, if only because the blame game is so much fun, and I don’t really feel like taking the blame myself.

Actually, since it is a new year and all (although generally I don’t do the whole new year/resolution/starting over type crap, believing instead that each day is a new opportunity to try again, and commit to being a better person, whatever that may mean to you),  I feel the urge to recommit myself. To creative pursuits, to blogging, finishing at least one novel, and of course, being a better person. Mostly this is due to the amazing inspiration of my love, Jenney, whose blog has me in stitches quite often, and who is generally a totally awesome woman.

I defense of, well…myself, I must say that 2009 wasn’t a complete letdown in the writing and creativity fronts. I did finish the second edit of my first novel, and began working on the third. I took a giant leap of faith, and began emailing chapters of said novel to friends for advice, critique, and tomato throwing. I also managed, somehow, to complete another 50k NaNo novel this year, in a record 10 days (a success which I owe completely to Maura for egging me on in our strange little competition, and Dan, for letting me hole myself up in the study for hours at a time while he played with Parker).

Anyway, on to 2010. The start of a new decade. I think that some goals are in order. I love lists. Lets face it, who doesn’t? The satisfaction of crossing something off of a to do list is pretty awesome. I’ve been guilty in the past of adding things I’ve already done to a to do list, just for the satisfaction of crossing it off again and feeling accomplished. Yes, I am that lame.

Ok, so lofty goals for the year

– Finish editing novel #1. Also, re title it. Hate the title. Begin shopping for an editor.

-Write at least one poem. (I wouldn’t want to overdo)

-Read every book chosen for The Book Club

-lose the rest of this darn baby weight

– Raise $10,000 in sponsorship for Relay For Life, and for my team, Frankie’s Kids, hit our fundraising goal of $1500!

-Begin working on baby #2

-Keep up with my blog

-NaNo 2010…though maybe not in 10 days….

– Read every Jane Austen book (ok, so this is a cheat, since I started this in 2009 and am halfway through the books, but again, I like to know I can cross at least one thing off of a to do list.)

Make dinner today

All right…I know that I will think of more, but for now, that ought to do. I have a plate full of things I must get working on. At the moment, I am not working on any…well except for the Jane Austen part. I am in the middle of Mansfield Park. Although it is slow going; I’ll admit, it’s no Pride and Prejudice. But it has it’s own charms, and I am enjoying it. Maura and I both want to be through with the Austen’s by the end of January (I think), which means that in a few weeks I may be crossing at least one thing off of my list. Wonderful.

Plus, in recent and stupendous news, I already  made dinner- that is I threw lots of canned goods and some frozen chicken into the crock pot. Yay, I get to cross something off of my list! The year is off to a roaring start!