Archive for February, 2010

So my phone rang last night when I was off doing something else. Probably having a pee or looking thru the fridge for something to quell the nausea.

It rings a lot lately but it’s always these wrong numbers being dialed by a) a harried business man who thinks I’m his secretary. His office phone seems to be one number off from my cell and he periodically calls to yell at me about having coffee made when he gets here or cancelling some meeting. He never stays on the phone long enough to find out he’s dialed a wrong number and I’m not going through the permutations to save “Shelly” some grief. or b) some woman who is either intoxicated or woefully stupid and thinks I’m her friend with some exotic name.

So when I got back I didn’t check the voicemail. And then I forgot. In all fairness, I was quite out of it.

But no! This time it was an actual FRIEND calling with actual NEWS! Happy news. Very happy news.

And I reflect once again how nice it is to be friends with people through the bad times and the good. Because when the good gets there after all the bad it seems extra good.

A running theme, it seems, for this week in my life.

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End Of The Road

I’ve always thought it was in poor taste to write blog posts about things you just bought–unless it’s a house. New houses are one of those momentous life events that have more to them than basic acquisitiveness. So I don’t think it’s a bad idea to chronicle that journey. And I also don’t mind the posts where folks who’ve blogged about a series of car problems or appliance woes or computer ails then give you a happy ending by telling you about their new car or their replacement washer. Or how they finally switched from a PC to a Mac.

But the posts some folks do about how they got this or that piece of technology have often struck me as a bit sideways.

I may have to revisit that theory, though, now that I’m writing this post. We’ve recently made a couple of major purchases. I’m writing about it not to brag that we did it but to explain to folks who don’t do things the all-cash way what a glorious feeling it is to have saved up for something for HALF A DECADE and finally get it. And when you’ve got it to know that it’s all yours and no finance company can take it away. And you don’t have to regret it once a month when the bill comes from the credit card company.

And most of all, how great it is to finally see one of your plans work out after years of having all your plans seem to crash and burn–if they even took off briefly at all.

I’m so proud of my husband for all the work he put into this thing, and so pleased with the result.

I’m so grateful to God and our family and friends who all supported us during the hard times. I can’t have these good times without being reminded constantly of how we would not have this level of joy in our lives if it weren’t for the people we’ve leaned on.

These tangible things could be lost tomorrow but the feeling of satisfaction we’ve got at having accomplished a goal, made it across a sort of finish line, will never go away. And that’s what I’m happiest about.

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There are slightish spoilers in this discussion of tonight’s episode of Lost. But then again, they aren’t that spoilery if you’ve watched any past episodes featuring Jack.

All the ads in all the magazines say that this is the final season of Lost. We’ve been promised answers to the myriad questions posed by the last five years of this, and while I’ve seen more than a few answers I think more and more that my largest question will never be concluded satisfactorily.
Why do the writers have such an attachment to the most boring and tedious characters, namely Jack and Kate?

Watching hours of Lost which center around its narcissitic and vacuous Prom King and Homefleeing Queen makes me think that this must be what it would be like to read the Harry Potter series–if multiple chapters focused on Padma Patil and Terry Boot. All the action and sympathetic characters are elsewhere doing riveting things. And yet we are forced to divert our attention to watching these two contemplate their navels.

I am a person afflicted with an overabundance of natural curiousity. I have to know the answers and will stay up late at night to finish a book when I know the solution to all the riddles awaits after a just-a-few-more…pages. When I meet a new person I often pepper them with questions, dying to know as much as I can about their life experiences.

It seems that Jack is the anti-me. Because whenever he is faced with an excellent opportunity to get some answers to even the most basic and pressing question he goes into Hulk Smash mode and throws a temper fit worthy of the most spoiled toddler. And that’s why watching him makes me feel like I may vomit. Or drive to the writers’ houses and pelt them with old sausages.

Tonight was quite possibly the worst example of Jackholery I’ve ever witnessed and it was so bad that I just left the room in disgust. Here he is, after traipsing around the globe for YEARS. Finally he is in front of a device that just may hold some answers. And you know, even if it DOESN’T have one answer to give Jack, you’d think that it’s utter coolness, it’s “Holy cow, this is a live-action Myst game!” gadgetry would make any person with an IQ higher than lightbulb wattage want to examine it more closely.

I am speaking of the ancient lighthouse. The one with the names (and those infamous numbers!) of various Losties and others etched around its circumference. The one that showed the image of Jack’s childhood home reflected in its mirrors when it was dialed to ‘Shephard’.

If I were in front of that thing I sure would spin it to as many names that I recognised as possible. I’d say to Hurley, who was with me and also on the wheel, “You wanna see what your number has?!?” I’d examine the sucker. I’d spend time with it, studying its engineering and craftsmanship. I’d look at all the names to see if there were others that rang a bell. (How cool would it be if there was an etching for ‘Earhart’?!)

Jack? The man we’ve been told has enough brains to be a world-class spinal surgeon. Jack smashes the mirrors. All the while screaming about how “He’s watching me!!!”

What a self-centered, thoughtless, biological smear of a man! Now no one else can get answers. And, by the way, good of you to notice the other multitude of names on there. You aren’t the only one being watched, Dr. McSelfish!

And so the writers think we’ll be moved by the sight of post-smashal Jack sitting on a cliff staring out to sea. All I want to do is push him in and go back to Locke’s storyline.

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This started as a comment in a below post, but it evolved into a post of its own. And since it’s on a topic I’m keeping a weather eye on, I’m glad to promote it. Because we’ve GOT to watch this mess.


It’s not that I don’t appreciate having you get up in my grill about the righteousness of Student Loans and how they buy virtue (a topic for another time).

It’s just that I think you miss my point.

I’m not against the Federal Student Loan program. Used properly it enriches the entire populace, and since it is largely a guarantee program with the actual money coming from banks it doesn’t ruffle as many of my libertarian feathers as you might think. I’m against the way this particular series of ads makes it appear as though it is free money straight from Your Loving Daddy Barack Obama.

You have to spend a fair amount of time on FB to have seen this whole series of ads. There is actually one that says “Pell Grants are Free Money!” Others promise that you can use your Student Loan on living expenses.

I’ve written before about how the Student Loan program is going to be the next debt bubble if we’re not careful. And this is more of the same.

What’s even worse to me about this ad–and yes, Dolphin, I KNOW the Obama team is NOT behind it–is that it portrays Obama as some sort of quasi-Robin Hood folk hero. And by extension, the Federal Government.

The more I spend in the trenches the more aware I am of a severe entitlement mentality in the generations behind mine. Coupling that mentality with ads like this is a recipe for an enslaved populace in the future.

The Federal Government is NOT remotely like a bank. These ads, at best, subtly change the thinking of people to liken the Govt. to an institution that creates revenue. Banks and businesses create revenue. The Government merely collects and redistributes it.

You can wave the flag for student loans all you like. But I promise you, we need to be very vigilant about the future of the Student Loan. Because in 5 years Student Loans will be what subprime mortgages are now–a stinking term that brings pain and bitterness.

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Sick man looking for the doctor’s cure
Looking into his hands for the lines that were
And into every masterpiece of literature
For Dignity

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I was gonna present this without comment….

But I can’t.

I’m just so seething at this. As though that smilingly benevolent father reaches into his pocket and gives out money HE’s earned to help you with tuition.

I guess “Tuition $ from your hardworking, taxpaying neighbours, granted through highly dubious and possibly unconstitutional means” isn’t so pithy.

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Mrs. H

Back in high school I got in an argument with a substitute teacher about music. It was my birthday and my parents had left me to stay with a friend, separated from my siblings, while they went on a trip with the Senior Class. I felt lost and abandoned and alone and the last thing I needed was some sub talking about how Meat Loaf was an unhealthy thing for Christians. To be fair she wasn’t singling Meat out in particular as much as she was basically advocating that we focus only on wholesome things. And Rock and Roll did not fit in that category.

Over the past couple of days I’ve started to realise that I’m turning into her. Not about Rock, which I still listen to all cranked up. Of course, I don’t get a lot of the real hardcore profanity. It took me several years to realise that ‘Take Your Mama’ by the Scissor Sisters is considered explicit because of the line “..get her jacked up on some cheap champagne.” I’m still naive enough to think that “jacked up” just means “messed up.” Anyway.

I’m in this weird place where the then and the now and the not yet are all folding into each other. I’m starting to connect the dots and the dos and the don’ts in weird new ways and see where what happened 30 years ago fertilised this crop today and how I’m pleased with who I am in spite of what I have or haven’t done.

But the weirdest part of this new segment of travel I’m doing is that I’ve found myself becoming more and more acutely aware of the destructiveness of some allegedly-harmless actions. A couple of hours ago I actually wrote a couple paragraphs of complaint to the makers of a Facebook game. They are rewarding extra points in one of the games if you ‘gossip with 10 friends’. When I was proofreading my little note I realised just how much I sounded like Mrs. H did all those years ago. And I’m halfway between embarrassed and frustrated. Because I’m not expecting to ever be in total agreement with her. But I’m also realising more and more how much the things we do for play say about the people we are deep down in our souls. And to me playing at gossip or playing at adultery or playing at stealing are all acts of nurturing the old self.

And I wonder if I’m doing things wrong, kind of. Because I didn’t expect to be here at 40. I like here, but I see some of the others I know doing strange and surprising and funky things and I think “why don’t I have those kinds of guts” all the while also thinking “why don’t they have any kind of sense?!?” It’s a weird and thrilling place to be.

Speaking of weird and thrilling; I’m glad I got something written at all. I’ve been paralyzed in that department for a week and a bit now. I am waiting for someone to invent Writeagra, because that sense of impotence that I feel really ought to be something that can be fixed.

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A Novel Afterglow

In the past two weeks I’ve either read or re-read a dozen Women’s Fiction novels. Some good, some bad. All pretty predictable–which is why I think those of us who read them do read them. We like the comfortable sameness and the home-cooking feel.

I was in the mood for something different and decided I’d dive into Neal Stephenson’s Anathem.

I cannot state strongly enough how much I am in love with this book. I could live inside this book, wrap myself up in the linguistic tapestry and dance to the music of the philosophical dialogs that are laced through the book like lashings of cream. I said someplace, maybe Facebook, that I feel as though this book were written for me and according to specifications I had sent to some Book Generating Device in the sky.

I don’t know how to tell you what it’s about without giving away key parts of the story OR failing to convey just how special a book this is.

The most basic explanation is that it is a story set in a society where science has become a sort of religion. The central figure is a monk, but in this world the Monasteries are called Maths and the Monks are philosophers, astronomers and scientists. The book opens on the eve of Apert–the first time in 10 years our hero has left the Math–and unfolds from there. And refolds and refolds until you’ve got an origami depiction of such perfection that it’s hard for me to express just how fantastic it is.

Now I know that a lot of folks have disagreed, finding it dull or pedantic. I understand, and that’s okay for them. For me, however, this is as perfect as a book can get. I’m only sorry it’s over.

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So I’m half asleep, at 1:45 am, when I’m possessed with the strangest urge. A compulsion, really. I knew deep down that I had to–just HAD to–make a lasagne from scratch. I have no idea where that came from. I haven’t even been able to stomach more than chicken fingers and hawaiian punch for the last three days. And now out of the blue my body wants to make a lasagne?

I tamped down the urge best I could and then fell asleep, only to spend the night dreaming about being on the run from government forces. It was terrifying. At one point I and my co-runnees stole a cab (watching LOST much?!?) and I was driving while the man with me kept shouting “Mayhem! Mayhem! Mayhem!” I’m still not sure if he wanted me to cause Mayhem or was just commenting on the general situation. I was a group of four people, and I mean that literally. At times I was the mother, at other times I was one or the other of two daughters. The only thing that was clear was that we were believed to be somehow contaminated and were therefore breaking the law by being out in society.

Now that I’m awake the feeling is staying with me. I’m having a hard time relaxing and realising that no one is chasing me, even though I still feel like shouting “Mayhem! Mayhem! Mayhem!” just for kicks. I probably will make that lasagne tonight.

Now the point of this entry–other than writing a blog entry, which Ihaven’t done well in awhile–is to tell you the gospel of the latest book I’ve got my Kindle on. Every now and again you’ll come across a novel that feels as though the author said “so, Kath, what do you like to read? Uh-huh. Okay. Got it. I’ll get that written up and sent to you ASAP.” All the themes and structure are just right there together clicking like clockwork. Neal Stephenson’s Anathem is just that book. So far. I just started it and am not that deep into the story but the linguistic aspect just has me so tickled that I find myself giggling (yes, giggling. I know.) with joy. Now since the book was written with ME in mind I can’t necessarily say you would love it, but I encourage you to give it a try.

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The Lace Makers of Glenmara The Lace Makers of Glenmara by Heather Barbieri

My rating: 2 of 5 stars
This book has the (dubious) distinction of being the first novel I’d ever seen a book trailer for.

I had no idea how fitting that would be. Because this book was actually more of a movie. Albeit a movie without the visual shorthand a filmmaker can use to expand upon the character development.

It seemed like it had the potential for a fun light read. But this was almost too light a read. I had the feeling of a stone skipping across a pond, touching down lightly on this character or that but not really sinking under the surface. (more…)

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