I received a number of books for Christmas. This shouldn’t come as a surprise. Without books (and coffee), I’m fairly sure I’d turn into the Madwoman in the Attic—but don’t go calling me Bertha (or Antoinette) just yet. (Whoever guesses both those references wins my undying love for a whole week. *wink*) I certainly have enough books to tide me over.
I prefer books to DVDs. There was a time where I liked both equally, but “I’d rather have books” has apparently become my mantra. I should probably amend that to good books, but that’s entire subjective, unless the author’s name is Snooki or Paris. Then I can safely say, Shakespeare has rolled over in his grave.
But I digress. Let’s talk about books.
I’ve just read The Stepsister Scheme by Jim C. Hines, and it was a really fun book. All the characters were clever, distinctive, and amusing. The plot kept me turning the pages. I didn’t want it to end (now, I just have to get my hands of the rest of his Princess series). I never would’ve stumbled across Hines, if it weren’t for Kat Howard and her awesome blog (unintentionally, she’s responsible for the bulk of my Christmas book haul). I found Kat via something Neil Gaiman posted at some point, thus proving that the Internet is fantastic place for the Creatives. Which should never be confused with the ROUSes or the Borg, if one might be so oddly inclined.
Bear with me. I’m tired, and this coffee appears to have been made by stingy monkeys who failed to add enough actual COFFEE.
Now, I’ve begun reading Deanna Raybourn’s latest installment in her Julia Grey series, Dark Road to Darjeeling, which is fantastic. If Deanna’s written a book, it is always good. Except, I suspect, the ones left in the attic. But anyone who has written anything has manuscripts that resemble Frankenstein’s monster. If you don’t, you either need to readjust your ego—or you are Shakespeare reborn, in which case I expect novels and plays starring three witches, Inverness, and a magical fairy named Puck. GO. (Note: I am being silly and projecting a bit. My point, which is buried rather densely, is that Deanna is a brilliant author–and I relish reading what she’s written. This current novel plays a bit on my admiration of peacocks, and now I’m afraid I’m going to have to find a dress in peacock blue.)
The rest of the To Be Read Pile is as follows:
- On Writing by Stephen King – I’ve been meaning to read this for years. I’ve read excerpts. I want to learn.
- Full Dark, No Stars by Stephen King – I’ve heard such good things about this novel. I’m very excited.
- The Dark is Rising series by Susan Cooper. By all accounts, a fantastic series, and I’m so looking forward to it.
- The Ice Queen by Alice Hoffman. I read Practical Magic years ago, after seeing and LOVING the movie, and I’ve been meaning to read something else by her. Now, I can.
- Carmilla by Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu. A vampire novel published 25 years before Dracula, and one of his sourcebooks. This one was a surprise from my brother. I suppose I really should try my hand at another vampire novel. (Yes. Another. The first one is in the attic.) I promise: no one will sparkle or be named Edward. Or Reneesme.
- Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger. I had to copy her last name directly from the book, because I can’t even begin to recall the spelling on my own. I’ve heard excellent things about this novel (*cough* Andrea *cough*), and anyone who references Blake is fine by me.
It was a wonderful, happy, book-filled, food-filled Christmas. There were also video games, which is something of a tradition in my house.
I hope that everyone had a great holiday.
My dog Max is a particularly strange mix of completely frustrating and the most adorable creature ever. He will attempt to eat anything, including feet and rocks. He still has a lot to learn, but he’s come a long way. Or so I keep telling myself–as I remove the tassel from the pillow that he has ravaged.
*ahem* Honestly, he has a really interesting personality. He’s begun to use barking as a method of communication. Well, he thinks he’s communicating. I’m pretty sure he’s frustrated that I don’t speak dog.
He is the dog of a hundred names, ranging from Miracle Max to Maximus. Someone once called him Maxi Pad, but that was nipped in the bud on the spot.
At heart, he is a goofball. He tends to try and squish himself places that he just doesn’t fit. He runs into walls, bangs his head, and just keeps plodding along. I suspect he thinks he’s a Tigger, but he’d yet to actually BOUNCE when falling.
The best way to explain Max is, unquestionably, in pictures. So, without further ado, this is Max…and the coffee table.
What? I’m perfectly fine. I’m not stuck at all.
Really–I’m good. I promise.
Oh, my god. I’m STUCK.
Fine, I’ll just make the best of this.
Are you STILL looking at me? Nothing to see here. Move it along.
When I was in high school, one of my friends bought me a birthday card. In it, it said something about love and other indoor sports. This was freshman year of high school, I believe, and there was some inside joke tucked in there about soccer. (Someone had a crush on the captain of the soccer team, who was gorgeous, a senior, and the class president. Nothing like aiming high. *ahem*)
Anyway, after that, I used to sign things, “Love and _____.” It became a kind of creative game. “Love and smiles,” “Love and starlight,” “Love and laughter,” or “Love and dreams.” Admittedly, some were more creative than others, but it became a habit. That’s how I signed things.
Somewhere along the way, I stopped doing that. Now, I just sign Love, when it’s applicable. Simple. Ta-da. Nothing sparkly about it. I can’t remember what made me stop signing things with a bit of, well, flare. Did someone make fun of me? Did I simply think I was too old to be so silly? I wish I could remember, but I can’t. No matter how much coffee I drink.
I was reminded of this yesterday, when I was finishing up my Christmas cards. I am absolutely abysmal about figuring out what to write in cards. So, if you get a card from me, and I’ve said something boring or stupid – forgive me. I probably spend entirely too much time coming up with the boring or stupid sentence. Really. I feel like I might as well write, “Nice feet” and be done with it.
Also, my handwriting has not improved over the years, so if you were expecting perfectly legible handwriting, go look somewhere else. I can’t do it. I can, however, write in pretty purple ink, because I rock like that.
When I get to the end, though, and I have to sign my name…I tend to agonize over that a little bit. OK, so you’re a good friend or an old work acquaintance – what do I write? There are some people where writing “Love” just isn’t appropriate. I can’t very well write, “Much Like” and then sign my name. I’ve compromised somewhat, I think, and I tend to write, “Hugs, Ali.” But I also feel like the closing greeting should fit well. And let’s face it: it often doesn’t. “Best” is too formal, as is “Fondly” and “Warmly.” I feel silly just signing my name.
Then I wonder if I’m taking this all too seriously.
Love Fondly Warmly xoxo
Oh, screw it.
This time, last year, where were you? What was your life like? Is it very different than it is now?
A year can make such a difference. The list of things that changed is rather long. This time, last year, I was in a different state. I was in a completely different place in my life. I had made bad decision and good ones, and sometimes it’s difficult to tell the difference. I had hope, but it was the foolish kind. I had fears, but they were trivial. I had a shoddy little life plan that evaporated shortly after December ended.
On January 1st of 2010, I remember writing, “This is going to be a great year! I can feel it.”
Apparently, it’s unlucky to do that.
It was not a great year in a lot of ways. Things went wrong. Horribly wrong. Wrong in so many ways that sometimes I wonder about the nature of life. Have you ever just wanted to shout into the void, What the hell? Or You’ve got to be shitting me! Throw in a few curse words, a smattering of interesting adventures, lots of tissues, some packing paper and bubble wrap – and you have a partial visual of my life, this past year.
So much changes in a year. In a moment, really. One phone call. One lack of a phone call. Awkward words, or no words. The things said and unsaid, the roads taken and the roads abandoned. Each little thing is a leaf of a tree, and sometimes, that tree turns out to be pretty damn ugly.
I consider myself a fairly strong person, but I hate change. Hate it. I wish that some things would stay the same forever (this is probably why I still wake up at Ungodly O’clock on Christmas morning, only to painfully wait for my lazy bones siblings to emerge from their ridiculously lengthy slumbers).
I’ve had to get better at dealing with change. This isn’t a maybe. It’s a necessity. It’s been a crash course in a lot of ways. But I still hate it as much as I hate Brussels sprouts, which are vile and should not be considered an edible vegetable. I think I’d rather eat cabbage, and that’s saying something.
I don’t know exactly what this next year will bring. I don’t know what will happen tomorrow, or three seconds from now. No one does. We try to hold to the illusion that planning represents certainty. It doesn’t. All it represents is an idea. Ideas change. Life changes. Everything is subject to influence.
I suppose I’ve learned a lot. I’ve learned that even if other people are flat out morons, I can put myself out there. I’ve learned that sometimes you have to talk someone into letting you help them. I’ve learned that the little things, like making someone a cup of tea in the morning (even though I don’t drink tea), can make a difference. I’ve learned that I can’t stop making jokes when I’m upset or uncomfortable. I still hate to cry. I don’t always expect enough from people. I can still be surprised, and sometimes that’s awesome. I know that people don’t often change, and even if they are capable of it, often don’t want to. Love is, and it isn’t, all it’s cracked up to be. Raising a puppy is like falling in love – it’s messy, trying, and you need nearly infinite patience.
This past year wasn’t entirely bad. I have a lot of things that I’m thankful for. I hope, for everyone’s sake, that this next year is full of magick. I hope that inspiration and joy are waiting around every corner. I hope that life surprises everyone, but in a good way. I have a lot of hope.
And that is one thing that never changes.
Okay, first there was the Plastic Surgery Book for Kids – explaining why Mommy has a nose job and is now BEAUTIFUL (as opposed to pre-op Mommy, who looked like an Ugly Stepsister crossed with Pinocchio). Now, there’s a reality show called Bridalplasty, where women compete for plastic surgery for their wedding day. Because nothing says “I do!” like butt implants.
SERIOUSLY, America? At the risk of sounding like I have a microscopic vocabulary, what the crap? This brings to mind several things. Several terrible truths.
- We are a nation of vain idiots. If you are getting married, your significant other loves you for you. That doesn’t mean you need cheek implants. LOVE YOURSELF. (Heidi Montaq, I’m looking at you.)
- The idea of self-confidence gone has been replaced with quick fixes and low self-esteem. To me, this show screams insecurity. It seems to decry the idea that you don’t have to love your calves. You don’t have to exercise, either, to make them more shapely. Just let someone implant silicone—and voila! You’re Johnny Chase from Entourage (who, hilariously, thought his calves were too small).
- We have no shame. Competing on television, against other women, for the chance to nip and tuck, polish, and liposuction away flaws doesn’t demonstrate or encourage self-respect. It says, I want my fifteen minutes of fame—and I’m not afraid of embarrassing myself on a national broadcast. Remember the days where game shows reigned supreme, and people only competed to win MONEY and PRIZES? Apparently, lip implants are now on par with a refrigerator.
What is America’s youth supposed to take away from all this malarkey? Exercise is for suckers? Don’t work with what you have—change it? You shouldn’t love your flaws? It totally boggles my mind, especially in today’s world where eating disorders are so prevalent – even those that go unnoticed, untreated, and undiagnosed. For every person who seeks treatment for an eating disorder, I’d bet my coffee that there are many who still remain in the shadows.
On television, I’ve also noticed a very scary push for this One Hour Facelift. No anesthesia. Back to your everyday routine quickly! It sounds like something you’d see on The Jetsons—if it took place in the Twilight Zone (The Eye of the Beholder, anyone?).
I’m not someone who is wholly against plastic surgery. If someone wants to get a nose job, fine. That’s a personal choice. Granted, I do think it’s a slippery slope, and I’m bothered when someone stops resembling themselves. But what I’m most against is the idea that someone is not okay as he/she is. That it is seemingly okay to compete for a chance to be “perfect.” Perfection doesn’t exist. (Remember that statistic about Barbie? If she were a real person, she wouldn’t be able to walk upright. Her breast would make it impossible.)
Me? I want to age gracefully. I don’t want to compete against other women in order to change myself. Honestly, I want to sit those women down and talk them out of the craziness. No one is perfect. NO ONE.