31 December 2008

2008: The Year in Review

In January of this year I posted my new year's resolutions.  The theme was "The Year of More" and my resolutions were: (see original post here)

1.  Read more 
2.  Take more photos 
3.  Run more 
4.  Blog more  
5.  Hire babysitters more 

So, how did I do, you ask?  Well...

1.  I definitely did read more.  I successfully completed the 50 book challenge.  It was down to the wire since I just finished the 50th book today, but I did it!  The complete list can be seen on the right side bar.  Some of my favorite books read this year include The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, Interpreter of Maladies, Blink ( a rare foray into non-fiction), and When you are Engulfed in Flames.  I am hoping to read another 50 books in 2009 and will keep a running tall on my blog as I did this year.

2.  I failed miserably at this one.  I never made one excursion just for the sake of photography.  I never eve cracked the book on my camera that I bought.  I did get a few good photos this year, but there could have been so much more.  I will have to do a post on my favorite photos from 2008 very soon.

3.  I did well with running for the first half of the year and then about halfway through the summer I just got bored with it.  Running became more like torture so I decided to take a break from it.  I haven't gone back yet, but I'm thinking about it again now.  I think I just can't do all running all the time.  I prefer to mix up my work outs.  I never ran another 5K this year and that is a bit disappointing.  

4.  I was highly successful at blogging more.  I had a total of 96 posts in 2007 (an average of 8 posts per month) and including this post I had a total of 154 posts in 2008 (an average of 12.8 posts per month).  I hope to continue at this pace in 2009.

5.  I was lucky enough to find a wonderful babysitter and I have definitely kept her busy this year.  I have no plans of letting up on that in 2009 either.  It has been very liberating to rely on a babysitter and I feel lucky that we can afford it.  Which reminds me, I must email her about some upcoming nights in January...

All-in-all 2008 was not a bad year.  It had its ups and downs -- ups especially on the vacation front (Italy and the SXSW tour) and downs especially on the work front.  Everyone I love is healthy and pretty happy so I am feeling lucky.  Best of all, there is much to look forward to in 2009.  2009 resolutions are coming soon...

24 December 2008

Merry Christmas!

2008 Christmas card, originally uploaded by Marcyjill.

(Hiatus-shmiatus)  :-)

22 December 2008


I've just decided to take a mini-hiatus from blogging. My to-do list runneth over as does my nose from this cold and as much as I would like to be blogging about the Hanukkah and Christmas fun and craziness, I need the time I'd spend blogging to either wrap presents or nap. So, I'll be back sometime after the 25th and before the 31st. Until then I hope you all have a Happy Hanukkah and a Merry Christmas!

19 December 2008

My To Do List

I'm sure the title of this post excited you (NOT!) but I cannot get over the things on my to do list and they all need to be done by 12/24 -- also known as Christmas Eve. I woke up at 5AM thinking about this list and I feel the need to share it. So, without further adieu and in no particular order I present my list:

(Please note that this does not include any items from my work-related to do list.)
  1. Buy a Hanukkah gift for my cousin who I just found out will be at my father's house on Sunday night for the first night. He's 10 and a wonderful kid so I don't want to get him just anything, but I have no idea what 10 year old boys like.
  2. Buy the rest of Rob's Christmas present. I am not quite sure what that is going to be yet.
  3. Buy stocking stuffers. That one is pretty easy and can be fun.
  4. Buy salad stuff to make salad for the aforementioned Hanukkah party. Another easy one.
  5. Buy stuff to make baked ziti for Christmas Eve party (which is not at my house so I am not complaining!)
  6. Buy chocolate at Munsons -- especially the sugar free assortment for my friend with diabetes and nonpareils for my cookies. Going to Munsons is not hard duty.
  7. Buy cookie making stuff. Cookie day is Tuesday. (I think that is it for the stuff I need to buy.)
  8. Make 2 dozen cookies with Zoe for here first grade cookie exchange on Monday. Would someone please explain to me the educational benefit of a cookie exchange?
  9. Decorate the Christmas tree we got on Sunday and has been standing naked in my kitchen all week. The poor thing!
  10. Get a hair cut. I need it bad.
  11. Wrap presents. Daunting, daunting thought. I love buying presents, but I hate wrapping them.
  12. Make cookies all day Tuesday. That will be a fun, but very tiring day.
  13. Make salad.
  14. Make baked ziti.
  15. Get my iMac fixed. Fingers crossed that my baby can be saved.
  16. Load 2 different iPods that are Christmas gifts.
  17. Plan the Christmas morning breakfast menu.
  18. Get the Jeep's oil changed.
  19. Negotiate with Zoe on her Christmas Eve attire.
I'm sure I have left something off this list, but whatever it is, I don't want to know right now. I am also sure I am not the only one with a list like this right now. Aren't the holidays fun?!?!

17 December 2008

Words for Wednesday: Losing My Religion

So I can't believe how many weeks I have been doing "Words for Wednesday" posts and this is my first R.E.M. song. I love R.E.M. and have loved them since 1984. So many of their songs are poetry, amazing poetry. "Losing My Religion" was one of their more popular songs and maybe that is because it is such and evocative song. The thing I most love about it is that it could be about so many things and it all depends on what you bring to it. There's a lot of pain in these words, but the way they are expressed makes you feel that you are not alone in your own pain rather than just feeling sympathetic.

R.E.M. - Losing My Religion

Oh, life is bigger
It's bigger than you
And you are not me
The lengths that I will go to
The distance in your eyes
Oh no, I've said too much
I set it up

That's me in the corner
That's me in the spotlight, I'm
Losing my religion
Trying to keep up with you
And I don't know if I can do it
Oh no, I've said too much
I haven't said enough
I thought that I heard you laughing
I thought that I heard you sing
I think I thought I saw you try

Every whisper
Of every waking hour I'm
Choosing my confessions
Trying to keep an eye on you
Like a hurt lost and blinded fool, fool
Oh no, I've said too much
I set it up
Consider this
Consider this
The hint of the century
Consider this
The slip that brought me
To my knees failed
What if all these fantasies
Come flailing around
Now I've said too much
I thought that I heard you laughing
I thought that I heard you sing
I think I thought I saw you try

But that was just a dream
That was just a dream

(repeat chorus)

But that was just a dream
Try, cry, why try?
That was just a dream
Just a dream, just a dream

16 December 2008

Fun on Ice

Last night I had the good fortune to go see David Sedaris at Avery Fischer Hall in Lincoln Center.

Yesterday afternoon as my mother and I were figuring out what train we were going to take and where we were going to eat dinner I asked her if she had read anything about what exactly David Sedaris would do on stage. She hadn't. Neither had I. Google was of very little help because the best thing I came up with was a link to his agent's site which only gave a basic bio. It hadn't even occurred to me to think about what exactly we'd be seeing until just that moment. I mean, its David Sedaris, of course I want to go see him. Duh!

Mom and I traveled into NYC by train in the afternoon. Upon arrival we headed downtown to West Elm so I could pick out furniture to outfit my new work from home life. I got some great stuff and it is coming next week. Yay! Then for old time's sake we headed to our favorite West Village Chinese food joint, Sammy's Noodle Shop where we indulged. Yum! Many years ago not many weeks went by without us eating there so we try to get back there as often as we can. As we were finishing dinner we both started wondering again about what we were about to see, but we were both at a loss.

After dinner we grabbed a cab and headed uptown to Lincoln Center and can I tell you just how annoying the mini TVs in taxis are? Ugh! We picked up our tickets from Will Call and noticed that there was a display of signed David Sedaris for sale and a notice that he would be signing books at the Lincoln Triangle Barnes and Noble after the show. And then I started to get a little disappointed. Was this just going to be a typical author appearance on a large scale? Quick, but amusing speech, quick reading, and Q&A where a bunch of people ask questions that are so obviously trying too hard. I hoped I didn't pay for a glorified author visit.

I'm not exactly sure what to call what we saw besides a veritable laugh riot. It was part reading, part lecture, and part performance piece. It was all wonderful. I'm not sure how much of David Sedaris in print and now as I have seen him in person is persona and how much is the real David Sedaris, but I have a hard time believing it isn't more true than act. I like him more today than I did before I saw him last night and I was even tempted to go to the signing afterwards. Especially since he said on this last book tour he moved all men under 5'6" and all women in braces to the front of the line. Hah! The only time wearing braces could ever be a benefit.

For all my book loving friends I have to mention that David Sedaris included a book reommendation at the end of his performance. Last night's book was The Braindead Megaphone by George Saunders and it sounds hysterical. I've already added it to my Amazon cart. There is a list of book reommendations from David Sedaris here. There is a number of very interesting looking books there.

12 December 2008


The funny thing about routine is that both too much and not enough are not good.

With my recent change in work situation my regular life weekday routine has been trashed and I am feeling kind of out to sea. It is both disconcerting and liberating. It is an opportunity to re-think the routines I'd established, shake things up, do things differently and hopefully better, but it has also left me feeling terribly inefficient and unmotivated.

I've had a thing for quotes lately and I recently found these two quotes:

"Most of life is routine - dull and grubby, but routine is the momentum that keeps a man going. If you wait for inspiration you'll be standing on the corner after the parade is a mile down the street." Ben Nicholas


"As long as habit and routine dictate the pattern of living, new dimensions of the soul will not emerge." Henry Van Dyke

The thing is, I think they're both right. The key is to find the balance and that is what is missing in my life right now. The holiday season always throws routine a loop anyway, but this year is extreme and I am having trouble feeling festive. Zoe is counting down the days until Christmas and I'm not even sure what day it is half the time. Everything seems so much harder because I have to think about it so much more. I know 6 months down the road things will look different, but that just looks like a long road right now.

10 December 2008

Words for Wednesday: What's Been Going On

My song for this week, Amos Lee's "What's Been Going On" takes a page from Becky's penchant for male angst music -- tormented lyrics and jangling guitar included.

I am a pretty new Amos Lee fan and once again have to thank my favorite Sirius Satellite Radio station, The Spectrum, for the introduction. I think just about anyone who has tried to return to a place that used to be home can relate to the words to this song. It is a beautiful, simple, tortured song and you just have to hear it to really appreciate so I highly recommend you watch the youtube video or just take my word for it and buy the song on iTunes.

What's Been Going On
by Amos Lee

And no one says a word to me
They're concerned with my jealousy
Well I guess that's how it's gotta be
From now on

And time, it swallows everything
From the mighty to the meager thing
And it's as dark as it is comforting
To play along

Well what's been going on?
What's been going on?
What's been going on?
Around here

There goes her old beat up car
Outside of our old favorite bar
She's proudly in there playing her guitar
With stars in her eyes

Those are some of my favorite memories
All of those carefree melodies
While I'm out of here on this raging sea
About to capsize

Well what's been going on?
What's been going on?
What's been going on?
Around here

What's been going on?
What's been going on?
What's been going on?
Around here

And no one says a word to me
They're concerned with my jealousy
I guess that's how it's gotta be
From now on

09 December 2008

Homemaking, A-Z meme

It has been a slow (non-existent) blogging week for me so I was happy to discover and tag myself for this meme I found both at Becky's and Emily's. Anyone who knows me is probably scoffing already and even though they are right, I will proceed regardless.

A is for Aprons. Yes/no, favourites?
Once a year and only once a year do I don an apron. On December 23 of every year I get together with 2 of my sisters-in-law to bake Christmas cookies. We bake all day, get covered in flour and everything else and generally have a great time. Plus we make a ton of cookies. I wear the apron because I was given it as a gift and it has cute snowmen on it.

B is for Baking. Favourite thing to bake?

See above. I enjoy baking cookies. Baking is the only kind of cooking I can say I actually enjoy.

C is for Clothesline, do you have one?
No, but the neighbors right in back of us do so we get to see their clothes drying on the line all the time without the work. It is quite a view -- especially when the nightgowns are up.

D is for Doughnuts. Have you ever made them?
Yes. Once. In 7th grade home economics. Buying them at Dunkin Donuts is a lot easier.

E is for Everyday. One home making task you do every day.

Laundry. Dirty clothes, sheets, and towels multiply exponentially in my hamper therefore rare is the day that goes by that I don't do at least one load of laundry. It just never ends. And if I skip a day it is as if I skipped a month.

F is for Freezer. Do you have a separate deep freeze?

No, but I wish we did. I would stock it with ice cream. What else would you use it for?

G is for Garbage Disposal Unit. Do you have one?
Yes, we have one. I use it now and then. It is rather convenient at times, but I did not know it was bad for the environment as I read on Emily's post. I will have to look into that and re-think my disposal use.

H is for Handbook. What’s your favourite home making resource?
My favorite home making resource is not a handbook, it is a person -- my cleaning lady. She is heaven sent. My second favorite resource is take-out menus.

I is for Ironing. Love it or hate it?
Hate it and won't do it unless it is absolutely necessary. I would rather wear it wrinkly or send it to the cleaners to deal with it.

J is for Junk Drawer. Have one, and if so, where?

One in the kitchen for things like tape, pens, coupons, clips, etc. And one in my bedroom for small miscellaneous items like wallets, sunglasses, bits and pieces given to me by Zoe, etc. Also every drawer in Rob's dresser. He just doesn't get the idea of a sock drawer, a t-shirt drawer, etc.

K is for Kitchen. Colour and decorating scheme?

Our kitchen has cream-colored walls and counter tops with a black island top and red cabinet fronts. It is fairly modern with stainless appliances, but the flower tiles and the oak trim take away from the modern look.

L is for Love. What’s your favourite part of home making?

Decorating. I love to pick out paint colors, new furniture, art for the walls, etc. I will even paint and hang and move around heavy furniture.

M is for Mop. Do you have one?

Yes. We actually have a couple of them. When our dog, Spanky, was still around, mops often came in handy.

N is for Nylons. Machine or handwash?
I detest nylons and I usually run them in their first wearing and then just throw them in the trash. Tights I will wash in the machine.

O is for Oven. Do you have a window or do you open the oven door to check?

We have a window, but I never use it. I always opent the door.

P is for Pizza. What do you put on yours?

I am the most boring and un-adventurous eater you will ever meet so I only make plain cheese pizza.

Q is for Quiet. What do you do during the day when you get a quiet moment?
Read or write blog posts or read my book or the current issue of The New Yorker.

R is for Recipe Card Box.Yes/no? If yes, what does it look like?

Uh, no. I have a couple of recipes stuffed in the junk drawer, but I haven't read them since I put them in the drawer.

S is Style of House.
Converted Cape with many modern touches -- hopefully more to come.

T is for Tablecloths. Do you use them?

I used to when I had a real table. Now our kitchen has a big island and no table. I like tablecloths and miss using them.

U is for Under the Kitchen Sink. Organised or toxic wasteland?

Definitely organized. Sometimes it gets a little crazy down there, but I clean it out fairly regularly.

V is for Vacuum. How many times a week?
Does that include dustbuster use? Because if so, then vacuuming happens every day. If not, once a week.

W is for Washing. How many loads of washing do you do a week?

At least 7 and probably more like 11.

X’s - do you keep a daily list of things to do that you cross off?
I keep a to do list for work, but not usually for personal things. Once in awhile I make a personaly to do list, but I generally don't have trouble remembering the personal items.

Y is for Yard. Who does what?
Rob does it all except for grass-cutting and taking care of the outside furniture. I clean the furniture and move it back into place after the grass-cutters come.

Zzzzzs - what’s the last task before going to bed in the evening?

Put the dishwasher on -- we fill it just about every day.

03 December 2008

Words for Wednesday: Albuquerque Turkey

There is nothing meaningful about my song lyrics this week. This week's song is something Zoe learned in school for Thanksgiving and she has been singing it non-stop despite the fact that Thanksgiving is over. It is one of those brain-infecting songs and while I was trying to think of something good for this post these were the only lyrics I could think of. I will spare you a link to the actual music so that if you don't know the song you won't also be infected.

I promise to try to come up with something better for next week, but for now...

Albuquerque Turkey

(sung to the tune of "Clementine")

Albuquerque is a turkey
And he's feathered and he's fine
And he wobbles and he gobbles
and he's absolutely mine.
He's the best pet that you can get..
Better than a dog or cat.
He's my Albuquerque turkey
And I'm awfully proud of that.
He once told me , very frankly
he preferred to be my pet,
not the main course at my dinner,
and I told him not to fret.
And my Albuquerque turkey
is so happy in his bed,
'Cause for our Thanksgiving dinner...
We had egg foo yong instead.

02 December 2008

SXSW Tour: What I have learned

Here is a list of things I learned on my SXSW road trip:

1. Just because a hotel room says it is non-smoking, it doesn't mean it won't smell like smoke.

2. The GPS woman (we named her Greta) gets easily annoyed when you stop for gas or lunch or whatever. I swear I heard her sigh after her 3rd "Recalculating."

3. Cabela's is not a store for me -- or really anyone who is not interested in either making things dead or moving dead things around.

4. Tennessee has a lot more to offer than is obvious from the highway. Like The Arcade restaurant -- I am still thinking about that French Toast!

5. Always take more audio books than you think you'll want.

6. Families on Thanksgiving are basically all the same -- it is just a lot less stressful when it isn't your family (or in-laws).

7. The highway between Dallas and Little Rock is so flat and straight that you could put the car on cruise control and get in the back seat for awhile.

8. Tex-Mex food eaten in Texas is so much better, but turkey is turkey no matter where you are.

9. Any trip that involves going through New Jersey will mean taking at least 2 wrong turns.

10. When you're doing your final hotel room check to make sure you have everything always, always, always check under the covers.

That's what I learned. What I knew going in was that we were going to have a great time both in the car and in Dallas, we were going to eat a lot, and that I am lucky to have a husband and kid who were as enthusiastic about this trip as I was. I also knew it was going to be absolutely fantastic to be with Karen and her family and that it would be really, really hard to say good-bye.

01 December 2008

Rocket Man

I received and Early Reviewer's copy of Rocket Man by William Elliott Hazelgrove through LibraryThing's Early Reviewers program. In general I am predisposed to like these books because I had some initial interest in reading it based on the description and that was certainly the case with this book. I was quite pleased that I was chosen to receive this book. Unfortunately this book did not live up to my expectations at all.

Rocket Man is a story of middle-aged, middle class white men's angst. It is the story of Dale Hammer living and struggling in suburban America and battling both with and for the "American Dream." Dale is, in my opinion, the worst kind of snob -- the kind who despises people for finding success and/or happiness in situations where he cannot and therefore looks down on those people as being less intelligent. Worse than being a snob, he is also a hypocrite. We are supposed to feel sorry for him because his father wasn't there for him growing up and yet he cannot stop himself from disappointing his own son at every turn. His own father mis-treated his mother and yet he mis-treats his wife albeit not in the same way it is still mis-treatment. There is no redeeming moment, no better qualities that shine through Dale. The female characters are paper doll thin stereotypes. The plot itself only loosely hangs together. And although the last couple of pages try to redeem him and give him a happy ending, it is hard to believe Dale won't sabotage this happiness as he has sabotaged all other happiness in his life.

After visiting the author's website, I see that this book is supposed to be satire and I think I missed that. I'm not sure if that's me or the book.

[My original post included some negative comments about the copy-editing, but I received a note from the author that the copy I received was an un-corrected galley. I looked for that on my book, but it didn't say it anywhere so I thought it was a final version. I'm glad it is not the final version. My apologies to the author and editor.]