Fourth Quarter Book List

I remember hardly any of these books.  That can’t be a good sign. Ah well.  Such is the life of a pregnant speed reader.

109.  Willow  – I remember liking this book.  Much more than I normally like “issues” books. Sadly, I remember almost nothing else about it.

110.  Swim the Fly – one of my top books of the year – I really loved this book.  AND I laughed out loud at parts, which is quite unusual for me.  It’s rare that I LOVE books with adolescent males as the main characters, but this book was fabulous. Highly recommend.

111.  I also really liked Carter Finally Gets It – but it’s pretty similar to Swim the Fly, which I preferred by a slim margin.

112.  A Summer Affair – I was really glad I didn’t buy this book, as it was mediocre at best, but I loved the cover art so that sucked me in.

113.  September Sisters – What in the heck was this about?  Dear lord, let’s blame all this pregnancy brain, because I also have no memory whatsoever of this, but it can’t have been too terrible.  I usually remember the really bad ones.

114.  Catching Fire – Loved it.  Read it.  Start waiting for the next one and wondering why there isn’t more great YA Adventure stuff out there.

115.  How to Buy A  Love of Reading – interesting.  It was far from perfect , but I still think about it.  Definite recommend.

116.  Case Histories – some random mystery my mom must have bought in the airport.  I prefer her non mysteries.

117.  A Certain Strain of Peculiar – I really liked this book, despite the overall general formulaic vibe.

118.  The Summer I Turned Pretty – I liked this book, but I didn’t love it.  I found it to be a bit too drawn out and it felt like nothing much happened.  I needed MORE.

119.  The Old Cape Magic – I was running out of YA Library books so I was forced to resort to random books I had lying around.  This took me forever to get through. I liked hearing about Cape Cod, but the main characters were the unpleasant sorts that you get pretty sick of after not too long.

120.  The Chosen One – Another polygamist cult “issue” novel.  I think I need to quit reading about this subject matter because I never like it.

121.  Twenty Boy Summer – Meh. (Right about now is when I started to lose my faith in random teenage girl YAF and decided to read some other stuff.)

122.  Messed Up – Things just kept getting so much worse in this book that I kind of had to check out emotionally.

123.  Caddie Woodlawn – one of my all time faves.

124.   My Side of the Mountain – Another one of my all time faves.  I could reread this book 100 times, I think, and never get sick of it.

125.  Crazy for the Storm – Interesting, and an easy read, but not at all what I expected from the big review build up I had read ahead of time.   I enjoyed the parts about the disaster/storm survival, but since it happened in a 24 hour period or so, the alternating chapters about the main characters childhood felt like padding. I think this could have been a magazine article, it didn’t need to be a book.

126.  This Full House – The final book in the Make Lemonade trilogy. I liked it, but Make Lemonade is still my favorite book, and one of the major plot points in this book felt MIGHTY contrived.

127.  Perfect Life – This was one of those books with too many main characters.  Just when I got interested in someone’s story, they’d never  be heard from again.

128.  The Believers – The mother in this book is SO ROTTEN to the daughter that it makes the entire book nearly unreadable.

129.  Juliet, Naked – Meh. In other news, I bought this in Australia, and let’s all be grateful that we live in the good old USA, because all the books in Australia were softcover (even new releases) and were still UNCONSCIONABLY expensive. I paid $35 for this book in SOFT COVER.

130.  The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo – Oy.  I had high hopes for this book, and they weren’t met…my feelings on this book are somewhat similar to my feelings on the Kite Runner. It felt like a gross exhibitionist catalog of sexual assault.  No thank you – not as the explanation for every single facet of the mystery you’ve been building for 400 some pages.  Blargh.

131.  Swimming – Loved it.  I’m not sure where it’s been – I really didn’t hear anything about this book this year, and it was one my favorites.

132.  Sag Harbor – interesting. I would never have finished it if I hadn’t brought it to Australia, but I’m glad I read it. Interesting to hear about “the other side” of the Hamptons.

133.  All Over Creation – Oy.  I found the characters in this intensely annoying.  The seed stuff was interesting.

134.  Anarchy and Old Dogs – For a random mystery, surprisingly funny and entertaining.

135.  Best Bad Luck I Ever Had – I didn’t love it, but I didn’t hate it either.  Skewed maybe a little young for me?

136.  The Great Brain – Another one of my very very favorites of all time.

137.  Heavier than Heaven – might I recommend not reading a biography of a someone with a chronic stomach ailment so bad that it may have eventually led to suicide while one is in the first trimester of pregnancy?

138.  These Happy Golden Years – Sigh. Perfection.

139.  The Best Christmas Pageant Ever – Another one of my favorites EVER.   The perfect blend of good writing, dark humor, sarcasm, and love.

140.  Splendor – the last book in the Luxe series and my least favorite. No spoilers, but I hated the ending.

141.  Mare’s War – I really really liked this book, and for some reason I had really low expectations.  Although I can’t lie, I skimmed the “modern day” chapters, but I devoured the ones about the war.

142.  Rebel Angels – I’ve been sucked into the Gemma Doyle trilogy, years after everyone else, I suspect.  This book was sort of stupid, but it was entertaining.

143.  Naomi and Ely’s No Kiss List – NOT a fan.

144.  Strawberry Hill – Sort of boring (too young for me?) but it was nice enough.

145.  Crooked River – I really liked this book.  Strangely compelling historical novel about a captured Indian in 1800’s Ohio.

146.  The Third Angel – probably my least favorite Alice Hoffman book I’ve read so far, and normally I am a big big fan.

147.  Looking for Mary – Maggie told me to read this and I loved it.  It made me want to pilgrimage to Medjugorge like, tomorrow.

148.  Christmas on Ice – It’s not really Christmas if you don’t read the Santaland Diaries at least once.

149.  The Donovan Legacy – Oh, this book was MIGHTY amusing.  A romance novel AND magicians makes for an awesome combination.

150.  The Fifth Woman – Almost done!  Mostly entertaining random mystery.  The swedish or the translation always reads a little funny.

(btw, I numbered this wrong early on and then almost had a heart attack when I only made it to 149.  But no, 150, there it is! Goal accomplished! Now I have to step up my game to read 200 next  year.  I think it’s totally doable – I had some major chunks of time when I read nothing this year, so I’m pretty sure I can do it. Go ME!)

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Smells Like One Too

We’ve only got a survey sample of 1.5 children so far, but of those 1.5 children, you may notice that none of them have birthdays that fall anywhere close to the month of December.  That’s because Mr. E’s birthday is TODAY, December 29th, a mere four days after Christmas, and it absolutely sucks, sucks, sucks.  It’s hard to remember and no one ever has any money left for presents and the thought of eating CAKE when your house is still full of cookies and candy canes and such is kind of gross, and also have I mentioned it’s hard to remember? I know this because one year I FORGOT MR. E’s BIRTHDAY and now I wake up in a cold sweat for a week before the damn thing even happens because god forbid I forget it again.  Also, one  year the only present he got was a GIRL’S BELT. but please note I had nothing to do with that.

Anyway, every year I make these grand plans (in July) for how Mr. E’s birthday isn’t going to suck and well, dammit, every year Christmas inertia takes over and his birthday sucks! Sadly, I fear that this year is no exception.  At least I didn’t forget it, but let me assure you that non stop nausea does not a fabulous party make for any of the parties involved.

What am I even trying to say?  Well, at first I thought there was absolutely no hope whatsoever, and that Mr. E would have to settle for a birthday candle stuck haphazardly in a gluten free waffle while we glumly stared at each other across our crap laden dining room table, but I think we’re gonna try and see what we can pull off here.  It might not be the birthday dinner of his dreams, but dammit, I am GOING to cook something and even if I have to throw every single thing on it straight in the trash, I am going to clear off the gd dining room table and I think I might have a birthday banner somewhere.  Also, I hear that crazy lady Sara Lee makes a mean frozen key lime pie.

Confidential to Mr. E:  Your birthday will probably suck.  But I love you anyway.  And Happy Birthday.  And also, I DIDN’T FORGET IT, so there’s that.

11 In 2010

Did you know that awhile ago I decided I hate life lists?  I totally did.  I have this big manifesto about how life can’t be listed and how you just have to do things when you can and go where the road takes you and I’m glad I didn’t post that, because although I do believe it’s awfully hard to plan just how life is going to go, I am also a big big lover of the list.

(I also really really really really really really HATE it when people try to adultify babies and I find baby girls in bikinis and books filled with rules for unborn children CRAZY ANGRY MAKING, but let’s save that rant for another day, shall we, I think this is supposed to be a happy time!? Or something.)

So here’s some things I want to do in 2010.  I’m not calling it a LIFE LIST because you know, I don’t know about how that’s all going to go down, for all I know I could get debilitating morning sickness and want to throw up all day every day of my life and not be able to do any of the things I really wanted to do to round out this year but oh no, ha, guess what, I already did that!

Whatever. Here’s some thoughts on what I’m going to do in 2010:

1.  Have a baby.

2.  Behave with grace and dignity when I find out said baby is a boy, which it surely is.  I KNOW people KNOW I want a girl.  I also can’t imagine any thing worse than anyone feeling sorry for me when and if the baby is a boy, so I am hopeful that I can convey properly that if this baby is a boy, I can only imagine how happy he is going to make me when I finally get to meet him and he stops making me want to throw up every single thing I eat.

3. Buy a double jogging stroller, and plop said six week baby and Senor Pants in said stroller and start walking and then running and eventually run my fourth half marathon, in under two hours.  I cannot wait to cross this off the list.

4.  Think of a really good nickname for Baby Number Two. Senor Pants is hard to beat, I am sure you will agree.

5.  Read (gulp) 200 books.

6.  Buy a new car, an unapologetically large ass car which I don’t have to lift any children in or out of.

7. Cut the damn cable bill or get rid of the television altogether.

8.  Party like a rock star at the Blathering 2.o

9.  Give myself emotional permission not to breastfeed if I don’t want to.

10.  Volunteer on Furlough Fridays.

11.  And spend a really fabulous fun filled last six months alone with my sweetest, darlingest, most wonderful Pants.

Edited to add:  What’s up Google Reader?  You suck.

Saturday Morning Poetry

Christmas Party at the South Danbury Church

December twenty-first

we gather at the white Church festooned

red and green, the tree flashing,

green-red lights beside the altar.

After the children of Sunday School

recite Scripture, sing songs,

and scrape out solos,

they retire to dress for the finale,

to perform the pageant

again:  Mary and Joseph kneeling

cradleside, Three Kings,

shepherds and shepherdesses.  Their garments

are bathrobes with mothholes,

cut down from the Church’s ancestors.

Standing short and long,

they stare in all directions for mothers,

sisters and brothers,

giggling and waving in recognition,

and at the South Danbury

Church, a moment before Santa

arrives with her ho-hos

and bags of popcorn, in the half-dark,

of whole silence, God

enters the world as a newborn again.

Donald Hall

Seven Again

1. I’ve got a tricycle put together in the garage, waiting to go under the tree at the last minute so it’s the first thing that Pants sees on Christmas morning.  Strangely, this has made me feel more like a real honest to god parent than almost anything I can think of in the last two and half years.

2. I ‘m not really feeling better, except that all of your nice comments were like the best medicine anyone has ever taken. I felt like I was getting sympathetic doses of feel good potion from across the universe, and that helped immensely.  I’m also embarking on a dairy free, sugar free, and 100% gluten free diet (as of this morning) so we’ll see what that does.  I have a sneaking suspicion that the milk in my morning coffee is starting my day off on the wrong foot.

3.  Please don’t take this the wrong way – but please know, that I know, that for certain, FOR CERTAIN – Pants is bored out of his mind.   Hell, I’m bored out of my mind.  That’s just another level of the suckitude of the first trimester – this morning sickness is horrible for everyone. It’s horrible for me and it’s horrible for Mr. E and it’s horrible for Eli.  Unfortunately, the way I feel right now means that days when I can manage to take a shower without wanting to throw up before, during and after said shower are days of victory.  I am not able to take Eli to the park or to join a mom’s group or to grocery shop or go to children’s hour at the library because I spend my ENTIRE day and NIGHT focusing on NOT THROWING UP. And you know, that’s just going to have to be ok.  Despite the fact that it’s not very good right now, I am, nevertheless, doing the best I can, and right now that’s just gonna have to be staggering up and down the block for two walks a day.

4.  The sleep thing is something else, and we’re working on it, but it’s really hard to tell people to sleep train a kid with chronic stomach issues.  We never know if he’s screaming for two hours instead of taking a nap because we accidentally fed him the wrong thing.  My mama instinct tells me that SOMETHING is going on with him, and his sleep is taking a hit because of it.  And so we’re not going to cry it out or sleep train right now.  The other day, he did take a nap, which was like two and half hours of PURE ANGELS SINGING ON HIGH, so I choose to look upon that as progress.

5. Aside from the fact that I feel like horked up cat dander 99% of the day, and I can’t take my Lex@pro because I throw it back up, I have also been really bummed out regarding the sad number of Christmas cards we’ve gotten so far.  However, in the last few days, they’ve really picked up, so maybe all is not lost.  But based on my totally scientific polls I’ve been taking (IM’ing Maggie), everyone’s been getting less Christmas cards this year – I’m wondering, is this where people are cutting back during the financial shipwreck of doom or whatever we’re calling it now?   Maybe it’s just because the post office refuses to design some non terrible stamps.

6.  Aside from the fact that it makes no financial sense and it means Ahnold stole my Christmas presents, the Friday Furlough thing is like, the best thing ever.  Mr. E is home today and he already went to the grocery store and now he’s taking Eli to some crazy art studio thing downtown and I have had HOURS, simply HOURS to myself today and now I am going to watch Jersey Shore and all I have to say is that I LOVE YOU FURLOUGH FRIDAYS.  Except for the sucky 15 percent pay cut.  Ah well, can’t win em all?  As they say – you can’t always get what you want, but sometimes, you just might find, you get what you need.  And man, did I ever need a day off.

7.  And lastly, here’s a small glimpse at my stellar parenting techniques – the secret of which hinges on one thing and one thing only : TOTAL AND CONSTANT BRIBERY.  With a side of threats for good measure.

Today

This morning I am feeling hopeless.

I am feeling like I will never ever stop feeling sick.  I feel sicker today than I did last week, and it’s just a horrible feeling, to go backwards.

I am feeling like I will always be the only one to take out the bathroom trash, like I will spend the rest of my folding laundry and putting it away and it will never be finished.  As if I will never have help until my husband needs clean pants.  As if I will spend the rest of my life screaming at Eli to stop throwing m and m’s on the floor and to stop painting on the wall and stop pulling wet wipes out of the container.  Like it will never stop raining.

I know I shouldn’t care about these things, but there is a kind of hopelessness that comes from FIGHTING nausea all day, fighting it to vacuum the floors because you care about having a  clean house, and going to bed with a clean house, and waking up and finding your couch cushions crushed into a flat ball at the end of the couch even though you have explained that it’s important to you to not wake up to beer cans in your living room and half empty popcorn bowls and crushed sofa pillows.

Sometimes I feel like I am going to spend the rest of my life in a tiny house that only gets vacuumed when I do it, which is filthy otherwise, and with a husband that doesn’t help until the laundry falls over, with a dog that I hate, and a kid that I fight with all day long because he won’t ever ever ever ever ever sleep.

Today it just feels like too much.  Today is one of those days I want to go out for cigarettes and never come back.  And I don’t even smoke.

I just want to stop feeling sick.  I just want Eli to stop screaming every single time he has to take a bath or take a nap or have his diaper changed.  I just want the sun to come out.  I just want someone besides me to take out the god damned bathroom trash for a change.

Someone please, send me a Christmas miracle.  Toddler sleep, or empty trash cans, or for the love of god, make me feel better.  I don’t care which one, just please, please, one of the three.

Letting Go of Some Things

Did anyone else read Her Bad Mother’s recent post on the show Hoarders and why she doesn’t watch it?

I read it last week and I can’t get it out of my head.

For the record, Mr. E and I watched one episode of Hoarders and that was enough for me – I really hope to never see it again.  Mostly because of the uneasy feeling of creepy I got as I watched it – like a voice in my head repeating “something about this isn’t right”.  But also because overwhelmingly, time and time again, my reaction to any retelling of hoarding is intense anger.  Anger that doesn’t feel healthy in the slightest. Anger that makes me nervous enough to delete reality tv shows off my DVR.

My father was a hoarder, for sure.  Not the type that bought so many things that he couldn’t use them all or that lived in squalor – there weren’t any dead cats in our entryway or buried under stacks of boxes.  He was a cleanish type hoarder.  He had simply assigned so much NEED to certain things that it was next to impossible for him to let them go.  When my parents got divorced my mom took the dining room table and eventually the dining room became unusable anyway, there was nowhere to put a new table because he’d filled the room with cardboard magazine files, each neatly stacked with computer magazines, and the cardboard files filled the entire room.  You could not see the floor, only boxes upon boxes of computer magazines.  Because if he threw any of them out, what would happen if he ever needed one?

He was the same way with junk mail and check stubs and once used ingredients sitting untouched on pantry shelves – he couldn’t figure out which things he’d never need again, and so he just kept everything.

Growing up in that house filled with stuff has left me with a  pathological fear of clutter.  I can’t sit still while piles of papers cover a counter or art supplies spill across my dining room table.  Nothing stays if it doesn’t have a place – in my house, everything has to have a place – a spot it can be returned to when you’re done with it.  And there’s probably almost nothing I love in this life as much as throwing things out – it feels like freedom to me to decide that we don’t need something and to be done with it forever.  And nothing brings out the crazy faster than questioning this – when I was a kid, I wasn’t allowed to throw out anything.  My father would go through the trash cans and yell at us, horrendously angry, irate that something he though might be useful had been discarded.  Mr. E once casually asked me why something was in the trash and I don’t think he’s ever emotionally recovered from the reaction he got in return.

I so don’t care who watches Hoarders, it makes no difference to me if that uncomfortable feeling I get feels like guilty voyeuristic pleasure to someone else.  I am just so envious that HBM can speak of her father and his hoarding with love and compassion and understanding.  For me, it still feels as though to my father, stuff was more important than people, than me, and I can’t watch a television show where a woman chooses things over her children without feeling righteous anger boil in my veins.

When my parents got divorced, and literally divided up the contents of their house, it was insanely difficult for my father to let most of those things go.  He refused to part with our beds, and so at my mother’s house, we slept on cots.  He refused to part with toys, and so we snuck them out in our duffel bags when we packed to spend the week with my mom.  He got home early once or maybe my mom was late to pick us up – I can’t remember, but I’ll never forget the feeling when my father caught us in the driveway with a black trash bag full of things we’d picked out to steal from his house, and I can still remember the dark dark cloud of dread, knowing we had been caught trying to escape with my father’s things.

My mom was a horticulturist before she became what she is now.  Even though she was a professional gardener, my father refused to give up any of the gardening things in the garage, wouldn’t let her have one of the two trowels sitting on the shelves.  That was the moment my mother’s trowel collection began, and for twenty years now we’ve been buying her trowels whenever we find them – fancy ones and simple ones, strange ones, painted ones, trowel christmas ornaments and trowels with pine tree handles and trowels that glow in the dark.  She has a special display rack that my step father built just for the collection – she must have over 75 by now.

It’s something hard to explain to people who wander in on the trowel collection.  There are so many of them that this doesn’t quite make sense, but still, I like to think it’s my families way of saying “Not anymore. Not in this family.  Stuff isn’t more important than people in THIS family.”

That or it’s just our way of saying “You want some trowels?  We’ll get you some goddamned trowels.”

And now it’s me and Mr. E and Pants, and Baby Cakes is on the way.  And in our house, when you break a bowl, you’re not a horrible person who has ruined something precious.  You’re a human being who has broken a bowl, accidentally, and because you are a person, your feelings are more important than a bowl.   We don’t give that kind of power to STUFF.

Now I need to figure out how to let go of my anger at people who DO.