Archive for March, 2011

pressure

March 29, 2011

i am one of the few people i know who does NOT work well under pressure. the few times i’ve procrastinated, something has come up at the last minute and i’ve had to choose — finish the model of Westminster Abbey/pass the class or skip school for a day/with mother’s help in both skipping school and with model building (hey, i was in the 4th grade). that was a tragic day because i had to SKIP SCHOOL and ask my mom for help. sure, some kids would be cheering, but i was just worried about all the work i’d have to make up.

another time, i choose to wait to fill up my car’s tank of gas until the day of departure which resulted in having to wait 45 minutes at the gas station (long story) plus, that 45 minutes allowed all the other cars to leave work and hit the road which added up to two more hours on the highways.

the reason why i have pressure on the brain (other than this cold i developed on friday) is that i witnessed two of the best procrastinators i know at work. one being brother G and the other being my uncle T. and they pulled off the best videos/presentations of the night (i’ll tell you about the party at a later date). i don’t know about uncle T, but i know brother G has my mother’s ability to stay up until the wee hours of the night, which helps when your deadline is only hours away. me? i’m a sleeper. a napper. a go to bed early-er. a wake up later. i’m pretty much always tired which severely hinders things when a deadline is only hours away and which is a driving factor of why i don’t adhere to the “why do something today when it can wait until tomorrow” but rather to the “why do something today when i could have been done yesterday.” (i wonder if being a night owl (or a really early bird) helps with this procrastination thing…?)

yes, i’m the girl who, when applying to undergraduate colleges, told my mother that if she didn’t read my essays by week’s end, i was going to mail them in without her comments. she’d had them for two weeks, but yes, i gave my mother a deadline, which was still weeks ahead of when the actual applications were due. me, who had lacrosse practice and games six days a week plus all sorts of school work plus friends to see plus books to read for fun on top of all that.  my mom still laughs about it to this day mainly because she was the one nagging my other siblings about writing their essays whereas i was the one nagging her. (oh man, how early are the signs? i am becoming my mother!)

this is the only “good” way i differ from my siblings: i stay on top of things (tee hee). i blame G and J because they are both so naturally smart, i had to study extra hard to be able to match the grades they brought home. and then there’s the whole blushing thing. it’s bad. still is. but i figured if i was prepared with the answers (well, except for math class), perhaps i wouldn’t blush when the teacher called on me. didn’t work, but i didn’t stop trying. some call this tenacious or ambitious. others call it stubborn. it depends on if your glass if half full or half empty.

what’s the point of all this? there isn’t one, really, but everyone either is a procrastinator or knows one and in my cold medicine ravaged brain, this is the post you’re getting. talk to me about your procrastination efforts. ever get into a jam you couldn’t get out of or are you the type who spins gold out of dust?

(seriously, talk to me here. i want loads of comments. this is a general topic, so i KNOW YOU CAN RELATE TO IT. speak up. your voice is important! *offers cookies*)

p.s. speaking of pressure, i don’t recommend flying when you have a cold. the part where the plane descends for its landing? yeah, the pain will radiate downwards from your ears to your jaw to your teeth and back up to your sinuses until you’re forced to check your ear to make sure it’s not dripping blood from a ruptured ear drum.

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90 reasons why

March 25, 2011

maga is my mom’s mom and TODAY SHE TURNS 90. a celebration of epic proportions is clearly due, which is why i find myself surrounded by family in the great state of colorado. tomorrow’s the big party, but today, her big day, this blog is all about her…

*throws confetti*

first, there’s this post, which, yes, i wrote it, but that doesn’t mean i’m not allowed to admit it’s one of my favorites.

second, because we finally got her out from behind the camera (photo circa visit in 2009).

third, because lists are so much fun, here are 90 reasons to celebrate maga. (this is slightly revised and smoothed out from an earlier version i posted at this time last year. except that one only had 89 reasons, because, yeah…) and here we go!

(1) Because she’s lived 90 incredible years with grace, class, and perseverance.

(2) Because she graduated from Wellesley College, earning a degree when many women didn’t.

(3) Because it wasn’t all work and no play during her college years. She knew how to have fun. By gathering up the girls and playing round after round of bridge.

(4) Because she said “I am” when a friend asked who was free to go on a blind date with a boy from MIT.

(5) Because that “I am” turned into an “I do” when the date was with one Joseph Searles Bowman.

(6) Because she moved to the west coast so she could be “closer” to Jobo should he ever get leave from the war. (A leave was apparently quite short and they wanted to maximize their time together. It would have been severely diminished if she had a 3 day train ride from the east coast to the west.)

(7) Because she didn’t know anyone on the west coast. She moved there for love.

(8) Because it’s a brave woman who can follow her heart like that.

(9) Because it’s a strong and true love story that can withstand a war.

(10) Because that love became the foundation of this family.

(11) Because she has expanded her horizons, traveled all over the world, and decided home is the best place to be.

(12) Because she took a house and turned it into a home.

(13) Because she created a family and cherished them completely.

(14) Because her strong opinions, formed from years of studying, traveling, and living, challenged her children and molded them into who they are today.

(15) Because she is fragile and feminine and fabulous.

(16) Because she still gets around town.

(17) Because she always puts on lipstick before leaving the house.

(18) Because she eats dessert with gusto.

(19) Because she has pictures printed into hard copy form at her photo shop down the street which makes the memories tangible.

(20) Because she instilled a love of card games (and competition) in her children, which then got passed down to her grandchildren.

(21) Because she can still whip my butt at cards.

(22) Because she has a hard time letting go of magazines and cards and trinkets and whatever else you can fit into a basement, but what she really doesn’t want to let go of are the memories.

(23) Because she opens the doors to 353 Ivy Street 365 days a year.

(24) Because she makes a decision and sticks to it.

(25) Because she has seen and experienced the world, but loves nothing more than spending time with her family.

(26) Because she puts a smile on her face and makes it through another day.

(27) Because she is grateful for the smallest gestures, like regular phone calls.

(28) Because she really listens to what you are saying.

(29) Because she loves gardenias.

(30) Because she has more courage than she realizes.

(31) Because she has so much to teach us and share with us.

(32) Because she likes to laugh.

(33) Because she still finds creative ways to travel the world (visiting museums and going to the theater) despite the limitations her age now puts on her.

(34) Because she is embracing the detour life has given her.

(35) Because she still writes and sends Christmas cards.

(36) Because she keeps the candy jar full of lemon drops.

(37) Because she gets dressed up when the occasion presents itself.

(38) Because she has a reason to get dolled up, which demonstrates how active her social life is.

(39) Because she gets her hair done every week.

(40) Because she has a computer in her house even though she has no idea how to use it.

(41) Because she has a cell phone even though she has no idea how to use it.

(42) Because she has an address book full of names and she knows how to use it.

(43) Because she is honest about how she is feeling.

(44) Because over the course of a conversation, her voice can go from sad to happy.

(45) Because she is continuing to live, and possibly even thrive, despite the passing of the love of her life.

(46) Because she is an incredible role model.

(47) Because she is stubborn.

(48) Because she has all of these memories to share.

(49) Because she shares them willingly.

(50) Because her mind is as sharp as ever.

(51) Because she loves to take pictures. The old fashioned way. With film.

(52) Because she then takes one more picture for insurance. (As do we all.)

(53) Because she has the best nickname, Maga, which makes people go “What do you call her?” which gives me a reason to go ahead and gush.

(54) Because she is stronger than she even knows.

(55) Because she doesn’t ask much, just that we visit.

(56) Because she would do anything for her family.

(57) Because her heart is full of love for us.

(58) Because her legacy is one of love, laughter, intelligence, and family.

(59) Because she has 12 grandchildren and 5 great grandchildren.

(60) Because of Greg.

(61) Because of Jane.

(62) Because of Jennifer.

(63) Because of Peter.

(64) Because of me.

(65) Because of Heidi.

(66) Because of Emily.

(67) Because of Gib.

(68) Because of Caroline.

(69) Because of Anna.

(70) Because of Jack.

(71) Because of Joey.

(72) Because of Madeleine.

(73) Because of Aaron.

(74) Because of Liam.

(75) Because of Christian.

(76) Because of Kaelyn.

(77) Because she’s happy when we’re happy.

(78) Because she gave us the means, motivation, and preparation to succeed.

(79) Because she sends us a $2 bill on Valentine’s Day.

(80) Because she sends us handwritten cards.

(81) Because she deserves to have the love she sends to us returned to her tenfold.

(82) Because she generously shares access to the Dillon condo, the dude ranch, the fishing spot, and Cherry Hills Country Club.

(83) Because she answers the phone with a “Hello, Abby dear” and an excitement in her voice that can be felt from 2,000 miles away.

(84) Because she teaches me something new every time I talk to her.

(85) Because she is loyal.

(86) Because she always observes the proper etiquette rules and expects nothing less from us.

(87) Because she’s given us roots at 353 Ivy Street, but allowed us all to have wings.

(88) Because she checks the weather where we live so she can keep tabs on us by knowing what type of weather we’re dealing with each day.

(89) Because she is a survivor.

(90) Because while she may not express her emotions verbally, we can feel her affection through the way she listens, the questions she asks, and the tone of her voice.

we love you! happy birthday, maga!

sean griswold’s head

March 22, 2011

you’ve recently heard me waxing pretty things about one lindsey leavitt, specifically about how i want my writing to be like hers. how do i know this?

i’ve read this:

and this:

the latter of which was released just this month and is the subject of this GUSHY post (you’ve been warned).

the first time i remember hearing about lindsey was when she posted this video about stephanie perkins’ ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS:

her sense of humor was right up my alley, so i figured i’d take a look at her books. at the time, only PRINCESS FOR HIRE was out, so that’s what i picked up. that book is a lot like LEGALLY BLONDE in the sense that you’re expecting a light chick flick, but are pleasantly surprised to discover it’s got a lot of heart, charm, and intelligence waiting for you. this book could get into harvard law school. it’s a middle grade series, which i’d recommend for any girl aged 9-13. yeah, ok, i certainly don’t fall into that age bracket, so heck, i’d recommend it for any girl, any age.

needless to say, i was won over and anxiously awaited her next offering, SEAN GRISWOLD’S HEAD, a YA title. it got a lot of early buzz, so i was even more impatient for it to be released.

the gist (from amazon): “According to her guidance counselor, fifteen-year-old Payton Gritas needs a focus object-an item to concentrate her emotions on. It’s supposed to be something inanimate, but Payton decides to use the thing she stares at during class: Sean Griswold’s head. They’ve been linked since third grade (Griswold-Gritas-it’s an alphabetical order thing), but she’s never really known him.

The focus object is intended to help Payton deal with her father’s newly diagnosed multiple sclerosis. And it’s working. With the help of her boy-crazy best friend Jac, Payton starts stalking-er, focusing on-Sean Griswold . . . all of him! He’s cute, he shares her Seinfeld obsession (nobody else gets it!) and he may have a secret or two of his own.

In this sweet story of first love, Lindsey Leavitt seamlessly balances heartfelt family moments, spot-on sarcastic humor, and a budding young romance.”

you know how i am with expectations…so i was a wee bit nervous to be so excited about a book’s release. but i’m here to tell you the wait was worth it, folks. this book is practically perfect. i don’t even know what to say about it except i laughed A LOT, i cried (a little, just at the end), i swooned, i dog-eared pages because i wanted to remember particular passages, i cheered, i winced, i sighed, i loved. the characters jumped (or should i say, rode) off the page and straight into my heart, flaws and all.

i may be 30 and payton may be half that, but i can admit i really related to her. the way she communicates (or not), her fears, her dreams, her actions in real life. she’s flawed and stubborn and confused and all around fantastic. it takes a lot of talent to make a character that well rounded. and sean?! sean! oh sean. he’s ADORABLE. and he’s a good guy! not a mean-baddy-mc-I’m-so-hot-and-unattainable-and-I-brood-a-lot-so-you-must-fall-in-love-with-me-immediately-though-i-shall-play-hard-to-get guy. payton never fears for her life, well, not in the way she would if he was a vampire or werewolf or zombie. to have the boy be steady and caring and awesome and a real boy in real life (you know what i mean, contemporary), what a refreshing change of pace that was.

the other thing i loved about this book was every single scene and action and decision and moment was true to the story. i never felt or even thought about the author. it was like i was sitting in the classroom with these kids listening to them talk to me directly. the voices and personalities were spot on. it’s an incredibly difficult thing to do — to write a story so clearly defined by your characters that the author herself becomes invisible. i’m beginning to think lindsey could have gotten into harvard law if she’d wanted to…

and you know another thing that got me? lindsey’s admitted her husband was a bit like sean in that he’s the guy that was always there, in class, in school, but she was distracted by other, shinier boys so she overlooked him. until she didn’t. but that’s a story for another time and place (so she says…it’s also one i don’t know considering i’m just a fangirl and not in her inner circle. minor details, people.) i love knowing this small detail about the leavitts because, let’s face it, i have a feeling i’m a bit like sean in that sense. i’m the girl who’s overlooked, who’s just the friend, until the day i’m not*.

ok, i’ve rambled on long enough — you see the effect her writing has on me? she gets ME to RAMBLE. that doesn’t happen often. let’s hope i’m not MUMBLING while i’m doing so.  read the book, kids. you won’t regret it.

*let’s not hold our breath, people.

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love child

March 18, 2011

i’ve decided that if i could be anyone when i grow up, i want to be the spawn of LINDSEY LEAVITT and JANDY NELSON. well, to be precise, i want my writing to be a combination of the two. think of the amazeballs books i’d produce if jandy’s luscious and vivid prose + lindsey’s startling and hilarious life lessons = MY WRITING.

i’ve still got time to grow, right?

although, if that dream doesn’t work out, i wouldn’t mind becoming a chef so that i could make myself a different type of pizza every day. and i also assume my taste buds would be more worldly thus removing the embarrassment of having to say, “eww, spinach? broccoli? mushrooms? pineapple?” so perhaps what i need here is for my taste buds to hit maturity rather than my cooking skills.

if you could be anyone or anything but yourself when you grow up, who would you be?

BOOK HUNGRY: natural born charmer

March 17, 2011

who says you have to be crowded into the living room, kitchen, and/or dining room to hold a book club? we are ladies of the 21st century. we don’t need no stinkin’ couches. so pull up a blog and join in the conversation.

the members of the BOOK HUNGRY are (alphabetically): patty blount, kelly breakey, karla nellenbach, vanessa noble, alyson peterson, cynthia reese, elizabeth ryann, and myself. here’s the deal. we pick a book to read. we discuss via email. we post a review on our individual blogs on the same day (3rd thursday of the month). we link to each other. done. i know, genius. click on each one of their names (above) and it’ll take you to their review. browse. enjoy.

this month’s BOOK HUNGRY selection is:

NATURAL BORN CHARMER by susan elizabeth phillips

the title is accurate as this book IS a natural born charmer. i read it in one sitting, or rather, one laying down. i woke up early one weekend (someone tell me why that always happens? the one day i can sleep in and i pop awake at 7am. not ok.) and had nothing on the agenda and ended up devouring this book. i am so grateful for mornings like that.

i hadn’t read anything by susan elizabeth phillips before (or at least from what i remember), but it appears i’ve been missing out. this book was chock full of characters, but each one was individualistic, unique, funny, memorable, and all around awesome. this was the exact book i needed to be reading because all i wanted to do was escape from reality.

i mean, watching blue bailey and dean robillard try to resist falling in love was as charming as their personalities were, which is to say, a lot.

in addition to everything else genius inside (the pacing, the characters, the romance!), this book made me laugh out loud. case in point: “But, even so, he blasted enough heterosexual mega-wattage to light up the entire female population. Which he’d undoubtedly been doing since he shot out of the birth canal, glimpsed his reflection in the obstetrician’s eyeglasses, and gave the world a high five.” (pg. 21)

don’t bother trying to resist, just pick it up and read it!

p.s. sister J, this book reminded me of childhood when you’d check out stacks of romance novels from the library and i’d sneak them out of your room. thanks again for sharing! i was always too embarrassed to check them out…..but now, i proudly proclaim, viva la romance novel!

p.p.s. join us next month as we tackle my choice: THE SKY IS EVERYWHERE by jandy nelson.

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