5 ways to preserve my proverbial steam

I recently returned to work after a brief week-long hiatus.  On D-day eve (the D is for Dang-I-gotta-go-back-to-work?! of course), I sat in bed pondering ways to sustain my refreshed feelings and prevent the extreme burn out that precipitated the hiatus.

Here are the few things that sprang to mind.  They may prove helpful to you too:

1. Be hands on.  I know we’ve all heard the advice “get everything together the night before!”  I even scoffed at it with righteous indignation, “well duh!”  But I’m sure the lifestyle-guru-home Ec-ky-Martha-Stewart-disciple type didn’t have my version in mind when first she offered those words of wisdom.  In my version I virtually assemble the items–that is I know where they are (I think) and it’s just a matter of  getting them together in the morning.   5 year old’s socks: under living room couch (well one of em is),  my day planner: under newspapers on kitchen counter, 7 year old’s sweater:  in the dryer…    

2. Eat your oats and feel ’em too.  I typically don’t eat breakfast.  As previously disclosed, I barely do mornings and since breakfast is a trapping of that merciless, early ante-meridiem hour, I don’t do breakfast.  This must end.  I’ve gotta fuel up to start the day, even it its only toast and O.J.  **funky fresh rhyme alert on aisle 3**

Get it in!

3.  Leave the excuses and take the stairs.  My journey to work includes public transportation.  And the train station that I use daily to get to work boasts a 100 step escalator.  Most days I just ride but on the days when I tackle them I find myself oddly refreshed.  I’ve fueled up with breakfast so I guess it makes sense to rev the engine a little eh?

They loom before me every morning...

4.  Stop plowing thru like the end is in sight.  If the end is in sight that means R.I.P ville right? Not so good—unless you’re into that sort of thing.  Sometimes I get into this lather, rinse, repeat mode and forget to stop and smell the—well the laundry.  Speaking of laundry, this bit of advice kind of stems from a scene from that movie American History X.  You know the scene where the little, funny yet sagacious black guy scolds Edward Norton’s character for angrily plowing through their laundry duty.  He said something to the effect of  ‘The work doesn’t stop so quit doing it like you’re gonna get to the end of it. Chill!’  Chill indeed.

5. Come ready to work, ready to do the job you’re paid to do.  That way you’re not annoyed as annoyed when your boss interrupts your Facebooking or WordPressing.

image from jezebel.com

Salut ladies and gents!

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I owe like 13 books but I’m too ashamed of my slackerness to put up all those images.  Each picture would be an accusatory glare.  I’ll just give a list of titles and we’ll call it even.

Days/titles 90-102

  1. Never Let Me Go – Kazuo Ishiguro
  1. Saturday – Ian McEwan
  1. On Beauty – Zadie Smith (OMG! Love this book!)
  1. Slow Man – J.M. Coetzee
  1. Adjunct: An Undigest – Peter Manson
  1. The Sea – John Banville
  1. The Red Queen – Margaret Drabble
  1. The Plot AgainstAmerica– Philip Roth
  1. The Master – Colm Tóibín
  1. Vanishing Point – David Markson
  1. The Lambs ofLondon– Peter Ackroyd
  1. Dining on Stones – Iain Sinclair
  1. Cloud Atlas – David Mitchell
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Are our winningest moments behind us? Say it aint so.

It’s been pretty popular since the dawn of time.  Wars were fought to achieve it.   Frontiers were forged to obtain it.  It has recently enjoyed a surge in popularity (as if it needed it) thanks to the illustrious and eloquent Mr. Sheen.  Yes folks I’m talking about Winning.

From the frozenpea.xanga.com

I got to thinking about winning and was struck by how many opportunities we have to be victorious in our adolescent and teen years (and perform the requisite “We beat! We beat! We beat yo stinking feet! Yall loss! Yall loss! Yall ate tomato sauce!” chant)  as opposed to now.  I mean back in the day you had:

  • Hide and Seek marathons…WINNING
  • I Have a Dream essay contests…WINNING
  • 6th, 8th and 12th grade graduations/commencements…WINNING

You know I think I went to grad school as much for the student loans and grants as I did in search of that ol’ winning feeling that I’d get on graduation day!

I mean as an adult, how many opportunities do we have for that cloud 9, Nanny nanny boo boo! You can’t catch me!,  I’m-kind-of-a-big-deal type of high that we got every 5 minutes when we were kids?

What do we got?

  • A high score on Angry Birds…winning
  • A lot of ‘likes’ on your Facebook status…winning
  • A new recipe that the kids don’t hate…winning
  • A raise at work … WINNING (but how often does that happen?)

I love my life—the good bad and ugly—but I’m gonna need  some more of those cloud 9 moments.  I’m on a quest to find and create winning moments (thats why I’m doing this) and when I find em’ I will be doing the tomato sauce chant.  Already have yours?  Care to share em?

Day/Title 89

Fight or Flight. Or freeze.

It was a regular Saturday afternoon at this blogger’s home.  Life on Saturday.  I was doing a bit of mom mowing and generally putting around the house when a sudden crescendo of my youngins hoopin’ and hollarin’ caused me to look out the front room window.  There, barreling toward the front door were my 5 and 7 year olds hand in hand.  As they piled inside, red-cheeked and panting they eventually explained that they were fleeing for their life—from Pepper.  The curly little neighborhood free roaming dog.  Who’s the size of a fruit cake.

I did the comfort thing all while stifling my laughter because they were genuinely terrified.  And I couldn’t help but think how proud I was of my 2 ‘fraidy cats.  They were facing certain death at the paws and jaws of Pepper but they had the presence of mind to stick together and to run.

My own solidarity/survival instinct track record is not so stellar.  There was that one time, in ’88.  My younger sister and I were playing in the street when a free-roaming dog in our neighborhood—who was more the size of a fruit cake on ‘roids—gave chase.   I’d like to say I scooped her up or even grabbed her hand and hauled arse.  I’d like to, but I can’t.  I hauled one solitary arse, mine.  But I did yell C’mon!!!  Ruuuuuuun!!!!  We both got away un-scathed but it wasn’t my proudest moment.

image from redriverpak.files.wordpress.com

More recently I had another dog vs. man moment.  I was visiting a friend and taking her some food I’d prepared.  As I stood at the back of my mini-van with the hatch ajar to retrieve said food I heard behind me the undeniable sound of  panting and hoofs (?) pounding the pavement.  I turned and to my horror there were TWO red-eyed, meaty jowled pit bulls bounding toward me.   They were about a 4 feet away yall.

Did I run? No.

Did I jump in the open hatch and close it? No.

I stood stark still.  Filled with terror.

I did manage to rebuke them in the name of The Lord and (Hallelujah) they stopped.

And then they advanced again.  It took a couple more loud, panicked rebukings and my friend coming to her front door with her WTH face on before the animals retreated for good.

I would later marvel at my reaction.  Fight or flight my eye.  Walter Bradford Cannon needs to add a 3rd reaction: stand perfectly still praying/rebuking/hoping to evaporate and re-materialize in safer environs.  Thank you very much Sir.

Title/Day 88

Pulp and Circumstance: A Tale of Breakfast

Hiya party people!

Once upon a time there was a short, chocolate, Muslimah Queen. She had many talents, including blank staring, doing impressions of herself and she even maintained a blog with a modest following. This Queen appreciated a challenge as much as the next person—so long as it didn’t interfere with or alter her daily routine in the slightest—but a challenge wouldn’t be a challenge if it didn’t…

The chocolatiest Queen I could find with a Google image search. Always liked Arthur so I'm cool with it.

The latest challenge in this Queen’s life was the addition of her eldery father-in-law to her household. She recognized it for what it was—a blessing AND a test. And she and her family adjusted accordingly. They fell into a rhythm. With the exception of breakfast.

The Queen had 4 children and a husband, the King, who was amazing 90.78% of the time (The other 9.22%? Well that’s a story for another time kiddies).  She hadn’t the benefit of wait staff or ‘help’.  Recession era.  Even the royals felt it.  But back to breakfast.  It fell upon the Queen to prepare the morning meal for the King’s father.  Breakfast had always been the Queen’s nemesis.  It combined 2 things which she utterly despised—early mornings and doing things in the early morning.

It's rootin' and tootin'!

She rarely ate breakfast and when she did it wasn’t ’til around 11ish.  As for the royal crumbmakers, she would normally only give them breakfasts which could be tossed at them to them as they headed to the car.  Toast, granola bars, bananas, orange slices; if you could chuck it at a kid, that’s what they ate.  Not so for the King’s father, a sweet silver-haired octogenarian with a twinkle to his eye.  For him the Queen had to pull out all the stops,  she used their best serving tray, the best dishes, if there was only one paper towel left on the roll—he got it with the best of the cutlery lovingly wrapped inside.  Hey! Regarding the paper towel no judgement! Technically that’s heresy…

I'm just sayin.

Ok where was I?

Oh yes, the breakfast.  Bleary eyed and the egg-shell shocked (more than a few eggs have rolled off the counter to their death) the Queen would stand in the middle of the kitchen for 10 minutes just looking.  And blinking.  Eventually, the fruit got cut, the coffee percolating, the eggs plated and the hot cereal bowled.  Each day the Queen tried to move a little faster, get started a little earlier, do something a little more efficiently; but try as she might the Queen could not shave down the breakfast routine time causing the children to be late to the Royal Academy, her to be late to her job (Recession!) and the King to be late to—Kinging. The Queen did 2 things, she issued an edict declaring all short order cooks (specifically those who worked the early AM shift) to be given a 50% raise. The second thing she did was put out a call for suggestions on streamlining her morning routine. Who will answer the call? Who will answer the call?

The End

Day/Title 87

My daughter’s Thoughtful 13. How sweet it was…

So my “tween” just crossed the threshold into teen-dumb I meant ‘dom’. Bad mommy! 😀  I made sure the birthday staples were covered: cake, pizza and goody bags, but I also wanted to make sure that she got a wealth of guidance (not just loot and gifts) at this milestone in her journey.  My family and friends are amazing, with insights that I may not be able to effectively impart.  At the birthday gathering I asked each of them to jot down some words of wisdom between mingling and noshing on fish tacos.  Some complied, some were too busy noshing—those were some damn good tacos.  Anyway I said they were amazing not obedient.

My plan is to do something with the advice notes. Something posterity worthy that will inspire her to keep them around.  No, I haven’t already decoupaged them, crafted them into an origami sculpture or blew them up poster sized and wall papered her room with them.  I’m not that kind of WordPresser—not yet anyway (Crafty McCraftensteins I AM joining your ranks one day! Look out!).  But I do hope that the gesture was not lost on her and my daughter knows that we expect her to be thoughtful, introspective and engage the world around her.  She really is a special gal…

I'm a softy of a parent but I'm not above crafting these notes into a medieval torture device---you know, for when the resident teen needs further elucidation.

Day/Title 71

Paris, Pee Wee, and Big Dog

Guy, Rosa

New York : Delacorte, 1984

My reaction:

How fitting that today’s book be one of my fav’s from when I was a teen!

Critics were hard on this book: "The potential for a story is here, but this one never quite happens as it plods laboriously along." School Library Journal

C’mon. Have a heart.

Day/title 60

Bibliographic info:

Zombie in love
DiPucchio, Kelly S.

Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2011

Will you be mine?

Summary (Amazon):

Mortimer is looking for love. And he’s looking everywhere! He’s worked out at the gym (if only his arm wouldn’t keep falling off). He’s tried ballroom dancing lessons (but the ladies found him to be a bit stiff). He’s even been on stalemate.com. How’s a guy supposed to find a ghoul? When it seems all hope has died, could the girl of Mortimer’s dreams be just one horrifying shriek away?

My reaction:

I wrote this rap verse on behalf of Mortimer (rap name Mos Dead):

When I’m alone in my tomb sometimes I stare at the wall

And from the back of the crypt I hear my homeboy call, telling me

He and his girl might go eat brains at the Pub

For the first time in my life, I see I need love…

Mos Dead! One of the illest that you ever known!

We’re all nerds here right?

Day/titles 54-58

So nerd to nerd, I can unleash my I sheer excitement about this new development in the Dewey-A-Day project.  I found a solution to last week’s quandary! Let the Fiction title exploraration begin!!!!

I found this site, it allows you to generate a random identity, name, occupation, address, the works–if you’re into that sort of thing.  Ok, so I:

  • went to the site
  • got a name
  • went to the library’s catalog
  • did a search for the name in the fiction section
  • chose the 1st title on the list

And that brings us to….

My name is not Bella! It's Ella!

Bibligraphic information:

Tempestuous
Livingston, Lesley

HarperTeen, 2011

Summary (Booklist Review):

Kelley and Sonny are caught in the middle of a war involving fae and Greenmen, and only their faith and trust in each other can offset the treachery that surrounds them. This book brings the trilogy that started with Wondrous Strange and Darklight (both 2009) to a careening, crashing, chaotic conclusion. Livingston’s artistry at creating imaginary worlds that exist side by side with contemporary New York remains strong, and while it isn’t a good place to enter the series, fans of the first two entries will gulp this one down with gusto.

My Reaction:

I took one look at the cover and thought: Twilight knock off. I read a few passages. From what I can glean there’s some time travel or flash backs involved.  There was mention of a place called Avalon (isn’t there always?), some maidens and leprecauns for good measure.  I’m not being fair. This could actually be a good read.  I’m just not keen on anything teen (funky fresh rhyme alert!!!! :D)  and this is a teen read.  Hope the lottery doesn’t yield too many more.

**CURMUDGEON RANT. STOP HERE IF YOU ARE A TEEN OR IF YOU OWN/LOVE ONE**

Teens are good for one thing, self centered-ness and these books reinforce the notion that the world does indeed revolve around them.  You’re a fair maiden, the fate of the world centers on whether your boyfriend is a wolf or a blood sucker with sparkly skin! Choose wisely! 

Also I’d like to send a telegram to 1990:

Sorry mom! My teenager-ness made me do it! STOP

So kids, no reviews for the other 3 books, just images. I’ve worked myself up into a tizzy.  We fogey’s are prone to this from time to time.

Looks rather promising.

Because we all can't have a phalanx of bodyguards. Arm yourself with this book ladies!

I'm actually pretty good at woodcarving.

With a bleep, bleep here and a bleep, bleep there!

Day 38!!!

Ok. I censored the post before and chose another title when the book lottery served a little lasciviousness.  I thought about doing that with today’s title but, dangit the lottery has spoken and I will sanitize no more.  Yes, I’m a tad puritanical by today’s standards (as proof of this, I actually said ‘Oh my’ when today’s book title popped up.  If I had pearls I might’ve clutched them).   Without further ado…

Lullaby...and goodnight...

Bibliographic info:

Go the fuck to sleep 

Mansbach, Adam

Akashic Books, 2011

Summary (Library Website):

Go the Fuck to Sleep is a bedtime book for parents who live in the real world, where a few snoozing kitties and cutesy rhymes don’t always send a toddler sailing blissfully off to dreamland. Profane, affectionate, and radically honest, California Book Award-winning author Adam Mansbach’s verses perfectly capture the familiar – and unspoken – tribulations of putting your little angel down for the night. In the process, they open up a conversation about parenting, granting us permission to admit our frustrations, and laugh at their absurdity.

My Reaction:

Me being an insider to the biblio world (I’m a librarian. No autographs please.), I remember hearing about this book well before the mainstream media got a hold of it.  Like most people my 1st reaction was  “Thats horrible! how can you send your kids to bed with those being the last words they hear before they drift into la la land?!” But I must admit I’ve warmed to the idea a little.  If we slip an expletive or two into our exchanges with our kids in their waking hours, why not throw some in for good measure just before bed? Kidding. Kind of.

But seriously, I doubt anyone is reading this book to their kids.  I think the author bills it as a kids book for adults, kind of like that one Carrie Bradshaw pitched to an editor called “Little Cathy and Her Magic Cigarettes”.  Remember that episode? Good times.  Anyway the book is well written, beautifully illustrated and f@#*&’ hilarious.

 

Not your Grandma’s Mother

Hi All!

Forgive me for deviating from the Dewey-A-Day norm will yall? Just had to get this out but I do give you a bite sized Dewey entry sans ‘my reaction’ at the end of the ‘Mother’ post for you die-hard Dewey heads 😀

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The following was inspired by a recent epiphany:

“Oooh he’s kinda cute”… “Ooh! I wanna get this outfit so I can be the bomb.com!”  These words have actually been uttered (to me mind you) from the perpetually glossed lips of my  actual 12 year old.  Pre-epiphany this kind of overly familiar teen talk would get met with a disapproving glare from me or a scold:  How are you talking to me!? You do know I’m your mother right?! That’s inappropriate!

I may owe my daughter an apology greater understanding.  You see, prior to this epiphany whether I “did it like my mother” was my litmus test for whether I was mothering right.  I now see a mild error in that logic  because all of the ‘players’ involved are different.   I was a different kind of child than my daughter is and my mother’s experiences made her different from me and vice versa.

That said, I realize that my mother did a bang up job raising us (fight anyone who says otherwise!) but I don’t have to follow her blueprint to the letter to be a successful parent.  Imitation may be the sincerest form of flattery but in this case it may be the sincerest way to ruin your mother/daughter relationship with your own child.

After an exchange like the aforementioned one I asked my daughter “Why do you talk to me like this? I would have never had this kind of conversation with my mother”.  Note that her talk was not in a disrespectful tone, just a very ‘familiar’ tone.  She looked at me with that look specific to pre-teens and teens, lip gloss just a poppin on her pursed lips and said “like what? what way?”

But in that instant I had answered my own question.  She talked to me in a way that was natural to her, and when I wasn’t holding myself to my mother’s standard—a much more strict, conservative parenting style—I realized that it felt very natural to me too.  So in the end my daughter and I do talk freely.  We might talk about things that might make another mother blush or get worked up into a self-righteous tizzy. That’s ok.  I’m the mom.com in my house and we’re doing it our way 😉

Mother/daughter girl talk...with only the occasional reminder about who pays the cost to be the boss.

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As promised!

Day 11

Bibliographic info:

The quotable scientist : Words of wisdom from Charles Darwin, Albert Einstein, Richard Feynman, Galileo, Marie Curie, and more

Horvitz, Leslie Alan

McGraw Hill 2000

Summary: A book-o-quotes from that odd lot called scientists

It’s Tuesday somewhere in the world

Two Kinds of People Tuesday

1.) Those who know that a mirror accent wall should have been left in the 70’s to die a lonely smudgy death

2.) The geniuses who built my house

photo from thelede.blogs.nytimes.com

Dear geniuses,

Windex thanks you, my pirouetting 7 year old thanks you, I do not.

Sincerely,

Asha

photo from busybeeandrosebud.wordpress.com