Tuesday, March 29, 2011

30 Before 30 - Memoirs of a Geisha

Well friends, I have learned two things about myself in making this post:
1. I am a liar because I told you I wouldn't be done with this book for a month.
2. Apparently, the train has been good for my reading habit.

12 down, 18 to go! 2/5 of the way through my literary quest. :) It took me four days to read the book - mostly thanks to the train.
I really liked this book until the very end. Do you know that I actually got the the FINAL page in the book before I realized it was a work of fiction? I was totally duped because I didn't do my homework before I started it. I thought it was a real biography. Sheesh.

Here's the skinny on Memoirs of a Geisha: A little girl and her sister are sold at a young age. The little girl (Chiyo) is sold to an Okiya (where Geisha live), and her sister is sold into prostitution. She meets the only Geisha at the okiya where she lives - a beautiful (but horrible) woman named Hatsumomo. Hatsumomo hates little Chiyo because she's beautiful. Beautiful = threatening in their world, apparently.

Chiyo tries to run away which makes her destined to become a maid (instead of a Geisha). Hatsumomo's nemesis Mameha takes little Chiyo under her wing, and after much consideration (and conversation), the "Mother" in Chiyo's okiya agrees to have her train under Mameha to become a Geisha instead of a maid. It all works out, Hatsumomo is eventually ousted (which, by the way, made me giddy and squealy like a little girl), and then Chiyo (who's Geisha name is now Sayuri) is adopted by the okiya thus ensuring a stable future.

Along the way, back when her life was destined to be that of a maid, she met a man who was mostly referred to in the book as "the Chairman." The Chairman was kind to her when he found her crying one day. Turns out he's really important. He runs an electric company. Once she becomes a Geisha, she is entertaining at a sumo event, and she runs into the Chairman again - she of course recognizes him immediately. The entire story culminates with the Chairman eventually becoming her "danna" (which, from what I can gather, actually means "sponsor with benefits"). There's a really touching story of destiny woven into the plot...it's pretty moving, actually.

Here's the part I didn't like: The Chairman is married. Sayuri (a.k.a., Chiyo) is his mistress. I totally get it - - she's a Geisha, which means it's her job to be a mistress, but if I'm going to call you my destiny, I would sure-as-heck want you to call me YOUR destiny too...ya know? It's clearly a cultural thing, but I just don't get it. All I could think about at the end of the book (when it becomes obvious that Sayuri has moved to the United States to avoid "inheritance complications" with her illegitimate son) was that she missed out on the most awesome part of destiny - actually getting to be with the person you're meant to be with. Don't shoot me for saying this, but I would have actually found the book a lot more alluring if the Chairman had left his wife for Sayuri. (eek...I'm sorry...seriously, don't shoot!)

I certainly learned a lot about the life of a Geisha. It was an extremely culturally enlightening book, and a really quick read (despite the 428 pages of teeny tiny print).

Since I've read a few books in a short amount of time (four total since two Saturdays ago, but only two of those are from my list), I've decided to embark on a tome for my next read...

Next Book: Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell...the Great American Novel. 1034 pages. Wish me luck!

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Monday, March 21, 2011

30 Before 30 - A Clockwork Orange

11 down, 19 to go! I turned the last page in A Clockwork Orange about a half hour ago.


Yes, I did read it in two days. Yes, I am incredibly busy with work, family, and life in general. It took me all of 3 hours to read the entirety of this book. I am becoming an insanely fast reader. (Bonus of reading every day for the past 7 months, no doubt!)

I know you're dying to hear what I thought about A Clockwork Orange. Well, you're in luck, friend, because I'mma tell you what it's all about (seriously, if you're not going to read the book, you should read my summary so that you'll know what it's about):

A sixteen-ish year old boy who is predisposed to violent tendencies spends the greater part of his youth in a small gang of boys who beat up the elderly and leave them for dead, commit daily breaking-and-enterings, drug and rape women (and ten year old girls), and all sorts of other acts of atrocity. He goes to jail for killing a woman, they put him in a rehab program where they use Pavlovian principles to rehabilitate him. Wait - not just to rehabilitate him, but to make him violently sick at the thought of...er...violence. Thinking about punching a guy in the lip? Violently ill. Thinking about raping a woman? Violently ill. In other words, they take away his will to choose between right and wrong. He is conditioned to choose right because choosing wrong hurts. He is released, beat to a pulp by various characters from his past (some shady ex-friends, and some people that he had hurt in his former life), kicked out of his home, and then is eventually "rescued" by a group of people who are angry with the government for making him a "victim" by taking away his free will. They do a terrible experiment on him after which he tries to commit suicide. It turns out the balcony wasn't quite high enough, so he just ends up hospitalized. Because of the press that is involved in painting him as a victim of a sick governmental reconditioning experiment, he is DE-conditioned while in the hospital.

This is where it gets crazy.

The original AMERICAN version of this book ends with him at the hospital, the conditioned responses have been removed from his brain, and he is, once again, enveloped in his violent nature. The end.

The original INTERNATIONAL version of this book continues for one more chapter after that. In this controversial "final chapter," he sees that he is too old for such violence and nonsense and sets out on a path to "grow up" and become a productive member of society (especially after witnessing one of his former gang friends who is now married and living as an adult). The end.

I must say, I am an eternal optimist, and I *much* prefer the international ending.

Oh wait - did I tell you that the entire book is written in an invented slang called Nadsat? And that it took me 20 pages to figure out what some of the words meant? Here's an abridged glossary:

droog = friend
slooshy = hear
viddy = see
horrorshow = good
chelloveck (or veck) = man
devotchka = woman
ptitsa = woman
forella = woman
appy polly loggy = apology
gulliver = head
rooker = hand

I could go on and on and on...you should read more about the words in this book here.

Here's what was great about this book: I love the idea of questioning the cost of taking away someone's free will. Is it better to be able to choose wrong over right or is it better to have "right" forced upon you? It's a really interesting question, and I'm sure there are dissenting view points, but I personally believe that humans should have the right to make the decisions that shape their lives. Right or wrong, you have the will to decide what your next move is.

The book was disturbing. There were times when I had to put it down for a few minutes to catch my breath. There were also a couple of times when I thought I should stop reading it because it was too violent and/or sickening for me to handle. All in all, I was certainly moved by it, and I'm definitely glad I finished it.

Moving right along...Next Book: Memoirs of a Geisha (don't expect an update anytime soon...this one has 428 pages of teeny tiny print...see you next month!)



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Saturday, March 19, 2011

30 Before 30 - The Bible

10 Down, 20 to go! I'm 1/3 of the way through my goal. I've been reading for 7 months, and I have 16 months until my 30th birthday. That means I'm still ahead of the curve, even after the 1,048 pages of the Bible. Woohoo!


Here's a little visual chart of my progress (note I'm having to go farther and farther back to get the photo...pretty exciting!):


It honestly doesn't matter what I say in this post, there is nothing that I can say that will do justice to the greatest book ever written. I had never read the Bible cover-to-cover, but I was pretty sure that I had read every page in it at some point or another. After my journey through the Bible, though, I can say that there were definitely passages that were brand new to me.

I have two new favorite books of the Bible (is that allowed?): Ecclesiastes and Daniel. You should read them (again).

I also have two old favorites: Luke and Acts. You should read those too.

It's probably some level of blasphemy to pick favorite books of the Bible, but Jesus loves me anyway.

There is no doubt in my mind why this is the best selling book of all time. It is compelling, historical, miraculous, comforting, thought-provoking, powerful, and full of hope. In fact, the whole time I was reading it, I just kept stupidly telling Eric, "this is *such* a good book!!" But it is - such - a good book.

I usually try to give you a synopsis, but I want you to know that the Bible is *impossible* to boil down to three paragraphs. My words are going to be far fewer than they should be to do this book justice, but I will do my best to give you a run down from Genesis-Revelation in a few short words.

Here you go: I believe that the Bible is God-breathed. I believe that the Bible is flawless. The main point of the Bible is that God created us (and our ancestors and our descendants) to be in fellowship with him. But we aren't perfect and we never have been...we fell into temptation from the beginning of time, and have never (*never, never, never*) been good enough for Him. Despite that, God kept providing means for us to reenter a relationship with Him, and we just kept screwing it up. Most parents would have given up after the first few thousand years, but not our Heavenly Father. He told us (through the prophets), that He was going to send the Messiah - his OWN son - into the world, that the Messiah would be "pierced for our transgressions," (Isaiah 53:4-6) that he would be "rejected," and that in his death, the iniquities (sins) of the entire world would also be put to death for those who believed and accepted this gift. Enter Jesus.

I don't know what you personally believe about Jesus, but the undisputed fact is that he definitely existed. (If you don't think he existed, come sit with me and let's chat). Some people say he was just a prophet, some people say he was a great teacher, a few say he was a lunatic, I believe that he is the son that God promised the world generations before. He claimed to be the Christ, and thousands of people have been killed because they had an unshakable belief in the same. If you don't believe he was the Christ, I sure-as-heck hope you think he was a lunatic. I don't see how any sane person could condone a "prophet" or a "great teacher" who claimed to be the anointed son of of the living God. The person who claims that they are the Messiah is neither a prophet nor a great teacher...they are either telling the truth, or they're insane...but I'm totally cool with whichever one of those you think Jesus is. (Thank you, C.S. Lewis). Jesus committed no crime, lived a sinless life, taught love, healed the infirm, and performed miracles throughout his time on earth. Despite that, he was sentenced to be flogged to the point of death and nailed to a cross between two (real) criminals until he ultimately died. And he did die...because he had to. Because he was thinking specifically of you while he was on that cross. He thought of your name and your face, and all that he wanted for you was the opportunity for reconciliation to God. Because of you, he made the ultimate sacrifice in pain and humiliation. Even if you don't want it, it has been made available to you.

Jesus' body was pulled down from the cross by one of his followers. They were all distraught because the One they had put their hope in was dead. Clearly, they felt like they had to start from scratch. This couldn't have been God's chosen one. Jesus' body was placed into a tomb, and a stone was rolled in front of the entrance. Ok - stay with me, because this is the best part of the story: Three days after Jesus' death, a couple of women went to visit Jesus' tomb. When they got there, they saw the stone was rolled away and the tomb was empty, and they were convinced that someone had stolen his body. All that was left in the tomb were the strips of linen that they had used to cover his body at the time of burial. One of the women started weeping outside the tomb, and two angels appeared and asked her why she was crying:

"They have taken my Lord away," she said, "and I don't know where they have put him." At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus. He asked her, "Woman, why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?" Thinking he was the gardener, she said, "Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him."
Jesus said to her, "Mary."
She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, "Teacher!"
(Jn. 20:13-16)

Jesus appeared to a lot of people after that, and then he ascended into Heaven. The Bible says that Jesus will come back to earth one day and gather his people (i.e., everyone who accepts the gift of his sacrifice). I'm sort of excited about that. And by "sort of," I mean, if he comes tonight, I will leave this world without looking back for even one hot second. :) Not that I don't love you...but c'mon, no matter how awesome you are, you will never willingly subject yourself to flogging and death for me.

There is so much more to say - there really is. I loved every second of reading this book. Ok, that's a lie. I did not love reading Lamentations. But *most* of the book was completely captivating. I have learned a lot about the character of God, and I've learned a lot about my own faith (or lack thereof).

So there you have it. The Bible in a really under-sized nutshell. But those are my happy takeaways.

Next Book: A Clockwork Orange (short. and secular - just like I promised.)

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Monday, March 14, 2011

How a Three Year Old Tells You "Where to Go"

Do you ever fuss at your kid, and then your kid says or does something hysterical (that they may or may not have meant to be funny), and then you have to somehow hold your face together while you're giving them "the look?"

This happens to me almost every day. Sometimes, even the face that Sadie is making while doing her dramatic cry (head back, eyes squeezed shut, mouth wide) is hilarious to me. (Did I say that out loud?) Other times, when she gets in trouble, she'll look at me quizzically and say, "Uhh...what are we talking about?" As if she has no idea. She's quite the comedienne, that one.

This weekend, I made Sadie a bracelet and a necklace out of some scraps of trim that I had lying around. She put the necklace on, took one look at it, looked back up at me, pulled it off of her neck, put it in her hand, stretched out her arm, opened her hand, and let it fall to the floor. While I don't blame her for the sentiments (it really wasn't a great necklace), I couldn't let her get away with being ungrateful, right?

So I said, "Sadie, that wasn't very nice. When people do nice things for you, you need to be appreciative, even if it's not your favorite thing. That kind of hurts my feelings."

Immediately, she started sobbing. I asked her (calmly) to go to her room until she was done crying, and then we'd talk about it.

When she was calm enough, she walked out and looked at me with her serious face, and said:

"Mommy, I'm done crying. I want to take you back to the store. I want to take you back to Target and put you in a cart and leave you there."

...sometimes I can keep a straight face...sometimes I can't.

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Sunday, March 13, 2011

Nesting

When I walked into my room from the shower this morning, a "mommy bird" had made a nest for her "baby bird" using the pillows in my bed...



Incidentally, the "baby bird" was a stuffed turtle wearing one of Sadie's pink sweaters. :)


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Saturday, March 12, 2011

Artwork Chandelier

Sadie and I had another fun project before bed last night!

I have been looking for a cool way to display her artwork, but she doesn't have that much wall space left, so the clothesline thing (though super cute) was sort of out of the question for us. {Enter the artwork chandelier}.

I was perusing the web, and I came across this chandelier from Pottery Barn:

Awesome, right?

Though I think this is a little formal and "adult" for a kids room, I figured someone, somewhere had done something like this for a kids room. I searched and searched for a tutorial, but alas, it appears that I am the first person in the universe to ever create an artwork chandelier...that probably means that the idea isn't very marketable, but Sadie and I love how it turned out!

Materials we used:
  • two wreath forms (one big, one small...you know, for the tiered effect)
  • off-white paint
  • ribbon
  • clips
  • trusty paint project towel (in hind sight, matching the project to the towel was not a great idea for photos)
  • hot glue
  • a ring for the top
First we painted the wreath forms so that they would be a little less obtrusive...
(One day Sadie is going to loathe the fact that I took so many pictures of her like this as a child)

After painting the forms, we hot glued the ribbon with attached bling around the outsides of both of the circles.

Then we used the bling-less ribbon to create the chandelier effect. I'm sure there is a much more complicated (and accurate) way to get it to balance, but since the knots didn't bother me at all (I think they're cute), then I just kept untying and retying until it hung properly. Worked like a dream.

Here's my project model holding our completed chandelier:

We added these little clips to the wreath forms once everything was put together...

And then put the chandelier to work!

It isn't full of artwork yet - but don't worry...Sadie's working on it.

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Thursday, March 10, 2011

A Little Sadie Survey

Sadie and I have been working on this survey off and on for weeks. The mind of a three-and-a-half year old is fascinating:


What do you want to be when you grow up?
"A grown up or an artist"
{who says you have to choose one or the other?}
What is Mommy's favorite color?
"blue!"
{correct!}
What is Daddy's favorite color?
"red!"
{right again!}
What is Mommy's favorite thing to do?
"make a room beautiful"
{I must say, this is definitely in my top 5}
What is your favorite thing to do?
"make a picture - my favorite color is pink too"
What do Mommy and Daddy do when you're not around?
"watch some movies"
{fairly accurate, actually}
What is Mommy good at?
"teaching me how to talk"
{don't make me regret it, kid}
What is Mommy NOT good at?
"you're good at everything!"
{she's a genius - that is absolutely true}
What is Daddy good at?
"eating"
{observant little monkey, isn't she?}
What do Mommy and Daddy do that makes you laugh?
"giggle!"
{this answer was changed at the last minute from "tickle"}
What does Mommy do at work?
"talk to your friends and type on your computer"
{*cough*cough*}
How old is Mommy?
"you're old"
{great.}
How old is Daddy?
"three and a half"
{hahaha - sometimes, sweetie...sometimes}
How are you and Mommy the same?
"we're the same 'cause we're beautiful"
{:)}
What is Mommy's favorite food?
"broccoli and asparagus and cauliflower"
{she forgot tomatoes...and salsa}
What is Daddy's favorite food?
"pizza"
{right...mommy likes veggies, daddy likes pizza}
How do you know Mommy and Daddy love you?
"'cause you love me so very much"
{very true...albeit redundant}
What does Mommy always say to you?
"go to bed."
{only 10 or 12 times a night}
What makes Mommy happy?
"hugging me"
{true story!}

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Big thanks to Debbie for the awesome idea!

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Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Really Cheap Gallery Wrapped Canvases...

I can think of about 20 people I'd like to send this deal to, but I'm nervous that I'll miss someone who would love to have one of these, so I'm posting here!

65% off of a gallery wrapped canvas...

You get a 16x20 gallery wrapped canvas for $45. These things are usually $125, and while I have a hard time *ever* justifying spending $45 (let alone when it's something I don't actually need), I had no problem swiping the card today...

Do you want one too? You can click here to order...

I'm so excited to get my canvas!! I'm pretty sure that I'm going to use this photo:

What are you going to do with yours? :)

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Monday, March 7, 2011

Traffic Jams and Sunsets

I think sometimes I feel entitled to perfection. Not because I deserve it -- I know I don't deserve it. Not because I feel like life is supposed to be all sunshine and rainbows. I think I feel entitled to perfection because a desire for the very best in life is innate. Our hearts are calibrated to want wonder and excitement and beauty and wholeness and perfection from the moment we're created. Our souls are constantly aching for heaven because that's where they belong. Really...think about it.

But something always happens to remind you that you're earthbound. Something happens to remind you that this beautiful life with sunsets and love letters and good food and music and breezes and families and afternoon naps...this life also has noisy neighbors and death and skinned up knees and bullies and vices and sickness and traffic jams. And somehow, most of us will learn to take the good with the bad. And somehow, most of us will also learn that the good moments make the bad moments bearable...and conversely, that the bad moments make the good moments worth waiting for.

When you're considering the moment that you're in right now, do yourself two grand favors:
1. Don't mistake your everyday misfortune for a tragedy. It might be a tragedy, but it's probably just a moment. This too shall pass, and then when you come out on the other side, you may even understand why it happened...or you may not, and that's ok too.
2. Stretch out the happy moments. Dwell on them and revel in them because they were planned just for you. For you, my darling. When those moments fall from heaven, it's ok to live in them a little longer than necessary. Those moments are like sweet postcards to your heart, aren't they?

I am not entitled to perfection {repeating that to myself once more} {nope...that wasn't enough...gotta say it again}. I'm only entitled to just enough grace to get me through the day. On tough days, I tell myself that crying is good for the soul until I'm able to convince myself that it's true (and just so you know, it's definitely true). And on good days, I appreciate the traffic jam because as fate would have it, it's giving me just enough time to rest my eyes on that breathtaking sunset.

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Friday, March 4, 2011

Does Anyone Else...

...laugh hysterically when your kid trips over something?
...catch yourself cursing under your breath when you rarely (if ever) curse out loud?
...make sure that your husband is driving your car at the exact moment that it will need more gasoline so that you don't have to pump it yourself?
...skip washing your face...every night?
...carry every grocery bag, jacket, piece of artwork, lunchbox, change of clothes, hair clip, random note from school, and purse because it's somehow more pleasant to be a pack mule than to make two trips?
...pull the pile of dirty laundry out of the way before snapping a photo?
...dust around stuff instead of under it?
...only dust when company's coming?
...leave clothes in the dryer until it's time to do the next load of laundry?
...hate hanging pants and skirts?
...sound upbeat and cheerful on the phone and immediately drop the smile, close your eyes, and sigh upon hanging up?
...wonder how it's possible that people can still like you after they know everything about you?
...want to say something snarky and passive aggressive on facebook, but press the delete button *just in time* to keep from making an arse out of yourself?
...pick the shortest bedtime story possible sometimes?
...think about other peoples' priorities and secretly pat yourself on the back because somehow you forgot how backwards your priorities can be?
...get the dishes washed and then see a piece of who-knows-what on a pan...but then instead of rewashing, you just make sure no one's looking and rub it off with the drying towel?
...completely tune someone out and then have to say something generic so that they don't know you weren't listening?

I'm pretty sure you don't do any of that because you and I are equally perfect...but...um...I bet some people do that stuff.

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Thursday, March 3, 2011

My Favorite Room in the House

I took some photos of Sadie's room and realized that there isn't a single photo without something she and I have made. That officially makes her room my favorite room in the house. Are you kind of bored today? Look no further, friend: here's a list of photos and the projects that are represented therein. You can click on the links to see the original projects in-process.

Pennant Project (This one has moved from the window to the wall {cue music} to just draped across the bed...which is now my favorite spot for it.

Owl Pillow, Owl Painting, Curtains (The flower attached to her bed is her night light...it's only on during story time, but isn't it cute?)

Board Book Wall Art (love the new bookshelves, but Sadie is a little bookworm, so we had to stack a few on the dresser...and we had to donate a few of the ones that she'd outgrown.)

Ok, the only thing I made in this photo is the curtain on the right (which I apparently didn't ever post about), but I love these pictures...one is of Sadie and her Papaw (my Papaw!) and one is of Sadie and her BFF Madison.

You may remember the St. Patrick's Day Rainbow! :)

"Wonder" and "Bonjour, Je T'aime" paintings, piggy bank (I made the piggy bank for Sadie while I was pregnant with her!)

Piggy bank (hard to see behind the black framed photo of Sadie. Yes there are three piggy banks in her room.)


"Sadie" stitching (made while Sadie was making this)



Possibly my proudest project ever...the used-to-be-green rug :)


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Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Starstruck

I had the day off today (for good behavior?), so Sadie and I decided to make a little downtown adventure of it!

We rode the train downtown, went to a meeting (don't you go to meetings on your day off?), and went to lunch.

Here's Sadie waiting for the train:

While we were eating lunch, Sadie asked about Chica (from the Sprout Sunny Side Up Show)

This is Chica:

Recently, I had name-dropped to Sadie, "Guess what, Sadie? Did you know that mommy works with Chica!!?" I thought that would probably make me the coolest mom ever. Little did I know that she was going to ask me if she could MEET Chica today.

I made a phone call, and a friend of ours (Miss Maryanne) got Sadie a visitor badge to Comcast Center (and even gave her a badge reel so that she could attach it to her skirt!). Pretty awesome.

In the lobby, Sadie hung out with these guys:

("What're you lookin' at up there?")

Once we got upstairs, Miss Maryanne took us to the other side of the 27th floor where the Sprout team is located, and within a matter of minutes, they magically arranged a tour for us!

Not only did Sadie get to see the Sunny Side Up production studio:

...and see Chica on the studio tv:

They also let her right in the studio where she met Dennisha and Chica in person!

They were so nice!! She was so starstruck she couldn't even talk. (Mommy may have been a little starstruck too..)

And then, she saw that she was on TV:
(The lady on the right is Ashley - she's the fabulous production coordinator for Sprout)

Thank you to the Sprout team for being so awesome and accommodating!! Sadie said she can't wait to draw a picture and send it to Chica!

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