Me Being IS EXACTLY AS INSANE AS You Being You: A Book Review

Darren hasn’t had an easy year.

There was his parents’ divorce, which just so happened to come at the same time his older brother Nate left for college and his longtime best friend moved away. And of course there’s the whole not having a girlfriend thing.

Then one Thursday morning Darren’s dad shows up at his house at 6 a.m. with a glazed chocolate doughnut and a revelation that turns Darren’s world inside out. In full freakout mode, Darren, in a totally un-Darren move, ditches school to go visit Nate. Barely twenty-four hours at Nate’s school makes everything much better or much worse—Darren has no idea. It might somehow be both. All he knows for sure is that in addition to trying to figure out why none of his family members are who they used to be, he’s now obsessed with a strangely amazing girl who showed up out of nowhere but then totally disappeared.

Told entirely in lists, Todd Hasak-Lowy’s debut YA novel perfectly captures why having anything to do with anyone, including yourself, is:

1. painful
2. unavoidable
3. ridiculously complicated
4. possibly, hopefully the right thing after all.

The theme of this novel that really stuck with me was the family unit breaking apart. A pivotal point in your life is when you realize that your family unit consisting of you, your siblings (if you have any), and your parents will lead separate lives. If you are the one who had a harder time grasping that concept, then I think you can relate to Darren.  I had a hard time with my parents divorcing and my older brother leaving for the military, I felt abandoned and alone. I don’t blame anyone for moving on with their lives and finding their own way, but it was fucking tough for me.

At one point in the novel Darren is talking to his older brother Nate and Nate tells him a story about being lost as a young boy when Darren was still a baby. Nate explains when his parents found him,

“Eventually, of course, they found me. And they were freaking out, crying, and pretty much hyperventilating, especially Mom, who was wearing you in that baby carrier they used to have. She hugged me, just smothered me, with your legs dangling in my face. And I was glad to see Mom and Dad, relieved I guess, because I knew living by myself was going to be hard. But, I don’t know, I as mostly thinking , Okay , that was some kind of test and I passed it, because I had to, I could be okay on my own. You were literally tied to Mom, but I was surviving on my own; that’s how I felt then.” Nate continues to explain to Darren that he figured out at a much earlier age than Darren that eventually your parents leave and you must learn to adjust and make it on your own.

As a teen you really start to see your parents as the individuals they were before they became your parents. They don’t work as hard to keep the image of innocence alive for their children. How would they ever help us grow and prepare for the “real” world if we didn’t get to see them as flawed humans? Their defects allow us to forgive ourselves when we make similar mistakes as adults.

I had a wonderful time reading this novel. With each scenario Darren comes closer to finding himself, and ultimately walks away from the family chaos and begins life as an adult.

I highly recommend this book.

Happy reading,

♥R♥

Leave your Sexism at the Door: Gym Rant

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Image from madcrossfit.com

I have  been working out regularly 2-3 times a week for the past 7 years. I know this is nothing to brag about, but hey I’m also not a gym virgin either. So when men come up to me and assume I don’t know how to properly use a machine it pisses me off!

Yesterday I was at the gym, and it was one of those days where I went more to zone out between each rep and enjoy the solitude and freedom of not having a baby on my boob or my hip. It was very slow, obviously it was Valentines Day. Maybe that was my first mistake, never go to the gym on Valentines Day, it encourages people to talk to you and who wants to talk at the gym?  I was casually walking over to the lower back extension machine and I took a second to look at adjusting the height. Apparently my moment of thinking I wonder which lever I pull to lower this machine? was an open indication that:

A) I don’t know what the hell I’m doing.

B) I don’t know how to properly use the machine without hurting my little self.

C) I am open to conversation.

Just to clarify, nothing from that assumption is true.Without asking, a man leaned over in front of me and adjusted my machine to the height he though was appropriate for my frame and then instructed me on proper form. After he was done yammering, I pulled out my ear bud, and said I didn’t hear any of that, but thanks. He walked away, clearly my tone must have indicated I was less than interested in his advice or anything else he was offering. There was a second time when someone just walked up and adjusted a piece of equipment for me because I hesitated about 15 second to examine which lever to adjust.

Maybe I am being overly harsh, maybe these men had my best interests at heart. But this is the third time in a month that a  man has approached me at the gym and gave me unsolicited advice. It’s insulting to me that they assumed I needed help. Now I’m insecure that I look like an idiot at the gym. Last month I was working on my vertical jump at a huge equipment piece and I was hitting a handle high up in the air for my target and a guy came up to me and asked “Do you need me to get that handle for you?”. Oh gee, thanks Mister,  I would have been jumping here all day had you not come along. Seriously? You really think I’m jumping up and down 30 consecutive times in a row to to get that handle?  I am aware of the numerous step stools around the gym, mmmm k, thanks. Was he being a sarcastic asshole? Was he genuinely concerned that I was insane?

Maybe I cut them off before I know the truth behind their offers of help. Sometimes I wonder if I’m putting a vibe out there of helpless woman which is really the most terrifying notion. My only console is that women never make the assumption that I’m witless with weights.

For all of the men who are truly concerned about a fellow gym member, if you see a someone at the gym don’t make assumptions. If you are truly concerned about the way he/she is eyeballing a machine, know that if they can’t figure it out they will move on to another machine or ask the staff for help. For the men who are just looking to strike up a conversation, belittling a woman by swooping in to help her on a machine isn’t the way to win hearts or impress her, just be honest in your approach. Although I can tell you from multiple sources that women loath being approached at the gym.

I am not helpless, clueless, weak, or ignorant.

Sincerely,

The crabby mom at the gym.

♥R♥

Even When You Lie to Me: A Book Review

We did a lot of reading this weekend. Our Pacific Northwest weather  was very persistent with rain, wind, and just damp. Luckily there is an endless supply of great books at out local library and it’s only a 5 min drive away!

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Even my son Leif spent his time with a book. Eh hem, upside down Baby Bear.

 

I decided to read Even When You Lie to Me by Jessica Alcott. Even When You Lie to Me is Alcott’s break through YA novel and I was very impressed with her prose and description about an improper love story between a student and her high school English teacher. Here is the synopsis:

Charlie, a senior, isn’t looking forward to her last year of high school. Another year of living in the shadow of her best friend, Lila. Another year of hiding behind the covers of her favorite novels. Another year of navigating her tense relationship with her perfectionist mom.
 
But everything changes when she meets her new English teacher. Mr. Drummond is smart. Irreverent. Funny. Hot. Everyone loves him. And Charlie thinks he’s the only one who gets her.
 
She also thinks she might not be the only one with a crush.
 
In this stunning debut, Jessica Alcott explores relationships—and their boundaries—in a way that is both searingly honest and sympathetic.

Charlie is a sympathetic character, if you have ever felt like an outsider (and who hasn’t?) you will relate to her socially awkward struggles. Alcott has fun incorporating classic love stories into Mr. Drummond’s lesson plans: Pride & Prejudice, Jane Eyre, and Wuthering Heights. Using these tragic love stories for Mr. Drummond’s lesson plans, Alcott sets the stage and tone of her novel. Charlie’s English teacher Mr. Drummond has all of the makings of a modern Heathcliff, he has a tragic past, he is mysterious, and he seems so close and yet out of reach for 17 year old Charlie. Alcott does a wonderful job of vilifying him to the point of being disgusted with him and then pulls him back into a some-what sympathetic character through Charlie’s eyes. Alcott played with the idea of age through Charlie and Mr. Drummond by making Charlie seem much older than 17 and making Mr. Drummond  as emotionally immature as a teenager.

 

I have heard of too many women who had teachers that were vulgar in their actions or speech. So as an adult reading this story, I wanted to protect Charlie from beginning to end. While reading Alcott’s novel I saw some of my high school teachers in Mr.Drummond. I had the cool young teacher that everyone loved and adored. There were also times when he crossed the line and became too involved with student’s personal lives (never romantically though). I also had a teacher that was a flat out perv. There were rumors that every year this corrupt teacher would pick out senior girls who he planned to sleep with after graduation. I saw first-hand accounts of him touching students inappropriately and saying obscene insults to his female students. So, which teacher was Mr.Drummond? The caring teacher who got too personal or the total perv? I think he was a little bit of both.

  As an adult reader I applaud Charlie’s feminist friend Asha who is wise beyond her years. She disapproves of the inappropriate behavior of Mr. Drummond, but still doesn’t totally hate the guy. She can’t help but smile at his jokes and succumb to his charm like the rest of her peers, but she is also wary of him. I think Alcott wants her readers to see Mr. Drummond through Asha’s eyes. She wants the reader to know that romancing his student is completely wrong, but she doesn’t let you forget that charm and charisma can easily sway high school students (and adults).

At one point Charlie asks “What is the sublime?” and Mr. Drummond responds, “The idea of something being simultaneously beautiful and terrifying.” Alcott took an ugly subject and with her thorough and thought provoking prose she turns it into a work of art. Alcott examined the subjects of body image, feminism, power, and sexuality through the intricate charters she created.

This novel was a quick read, but try to savor the text. Examine the way the book makes you feel and give it the thought it deserves.

I would love to hear your thoughts on Even When You Lie to Me.

♥R♥

The Maturation of Creative Writing

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I try to forgive my writing; if I had to put an age on my creative writing skills I would say it is still in the high school phase. Yes, I myself made it through high school and graduated from college, I even spent 3 years in the technical writing world, but my creative writing skidded to a halt after high school.

Also, I desperately need an editor, like yesterday.

I don’t have the patience of a mature writer. I quickly come up with a new writing topic, spend maybe two hours on it and throw it out there on my blog. Similar to a high school boy going to 3rd base for the first time, he has the passion, but shall we say no finesse? Finesse, patience, and skill take time to learn. I have to make many grammar, description, and wrong word choices before I craft that perfect sentence (I have yet to craft THE perfect sentence.). I will hopefully look back on these old posts and cringe at my lack of composure. Resembling the way I look back on my high school days and cringe at my ardent and wistful claims of undying love for the boys with all of the passion and non of the patience. I will be able to see the growth from where I decided to take my creative voice and start speaking of the intangible: pain, fear, and joy.

I don’t know when my creative writing will go from over enthusiastic high school kid to mature professional. Maybe that leap can’t be measured in a single occurrence, but I look forward to blushing and cringing at these early attempts.

♥R♥

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Throw back to Graduation from Western Washington University 2010

Made

THIS IS A RE-BLOG

Writing goals, right here. Anna Fonté, you are a master of the craft.

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image courtesy Kathie McMillan image courtesy Kathie McMillan

I was 11 when the boys clustered around me at lunch, calling names:
skank, hoser, slut, scumbag, stupid butt-ugg bitch.
I don’t recall why they hated me, only their sneering baby faces
and those skinny chests puffed up with imaginary muscles.

We knew we’d probably be raped sooner or later, my friends and I all knew.
The knowing was something we carried tucked between our legs like a blade.
If one of us forgot and let her guard down, we’d get angry:
How could you let that happen, we’d wonder. How could you forget?

So I planned it carefully. A nice boy on a hillside overlooking the city.
Broad daylight sufficed since I wanted to do it in the open, natural, like any other animal.
I didn’t know how, after deed was done, he’d spring to his feet like a fighter
evading the count and sprint…

View original post 632 more words

Picture Wall

This is a tutorial on how to make a picture wall based off of my expertise.

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Before

Step 1: Buy frames from craft store. (I buy all of the discount frames and just go with what I get.) Most of the time the frames just work together and I like more of an eclectic look anyway. Buy other design pieces that you can hang on the wall. I like to to go with rustic and metal frames so I like objects that complement this look. For example: horse shoes, old keys, barbed wire. You can make almost anything “go” on your picture wall, just stick to similar design elements.

Step 2: Print pictures in accordance to frame sizing. Make sure you pick pictures that are taken with a quality camera. Camera phone pictures are awesome for Facebook and Instagram, but when those suckers are blown up you don’t want to see grainy photos on your wall. EVERY FLAW WILL BE EMPHASIZED.

Step 3: Then comes hanging the pictures. Ask husband to do this.

Step 4: Ask him again.

Step 5: Accept the fact that he is not going to do it anytime soon and if you want all of the pictures sitting in their frames collecting dust off of your floor then you are going to do it yourself. They call this step “acceptance”.

In our house DIY stands for do it yourself if you can’t get the hubs to do it for you.

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After

Today was one of those days that my husband Miles had other things to do in the garage (tinker and pound stuff). So I decided to tackle the hanging portion myself.

Step 6: The main tools that I use are a pencil, hammer, and nails. Since I can feel my husband’s judgey eyes when I collect my tools I grab the tape measure and level to save face (even though I probably won’t use them). To be fair, when my husband met me I was hanging everything with thumb tacks so I don’t have the best reputation for “safe” hanging.

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Step 7: I don’t make any plans on how all the pictures are going to go on the wall. I just start on one end and work my way down the wall. Technical right? I eyeball the shit out of each picture and make a mark with my pencil for where the nail will go and then I drive the nail home.

Step 8: Repeat step 7 until all of your pictures are on the wall.

Step 9: Drink a beer while my husband corrects every little thing that bugs him about my winging it technique. Hey, you got to have balance in marriage (and apparently your picture wall).

Do all of these steps and you should have a pretty decent place to hang your pics.

 

Voila!

 

♥R♥

Another picture wall that my husband and I did together:

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My Favorite Child

DSC_2657Every day I look at my son and think to myself, he will do great things. I don’t know if every mother feels this way, or if it’s just my ego, but I am pretty sure my son is the best.

Does every mother feel her child is the next Einstein? I don’t know, sometimes I see my son playing with his toys moving beads on a wire from point A to point B and he does it in such a precise and calculated way that I have to wonder if every 7 month old puts that much thought into moving beads. Will he be a brain surgeon? A master engineer? Who can say with those bead moving skills?

Does every mother wonder if her child is going to be the next Mozart? When my son “sings” along to Caspar Babypants and sings lalalala over and over again in such a wide range of pitch I have to wonder if my son is the next musical prodigy. Will he play the piano? Mandolin?

Does every mother wonder if her baby is going to be the next Jesus? I mean who does he get those angel eyes from? Definitely not me but wait, his Dad’s eyes are pretty amazing. And when he gently pats my chest while he is nursing and holds his hand over my heart I know he is better than I ever hope to be and his love and compassion are incomparable.

All I know is that he has already mastered the role of son, to me there is no one better.

♥R♥

Black Ice: A Review

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Britt Pheiffer has trained to backpack the Teton Range, but she isn’t prepared when her ex-boyfriend, who still haunts her every thought, wants to join her. Before Britt can explore her feelings for Calvin, an unexpected blizzard forces her to seek shelter in a remote cabin, accepting the hospitality of its two very handsome occupants—but these men are fugitives, and they take her hostage.

Britt is forced to guide the men off the mountain, and knows she must stay alive long enough for Calvin to find her. The task is made even more complicated when Britt finds chilling evidence of a series of murders that have taken place there…and in uncovering this, she may become the killer’s next target.

But nothing is as it seems, and everyone is keeping secrets, including Mason, one of her kidnappers. His kindness is confusing Britt. Is he an enemy? Or an ally?

I have to confess, I love young adult (YA) fiction. I don’t know if that means that I have not grown out of my 16 year old expectations of entertainment or if YA as a genre is just the best… I will let you decide.

I just finished reading Becca Fitzpatrick’s Black Ice and it was everything you could want for a Friday night, Dove chocolate kind of book-fest. There was suspense, romance, danger and for the night I was able to lose myself in a story that was fast-paced and marathon read-worthy. My husband laughed when he saw me half way through the book 4 hours after I bought it. I recommend picking up this book for a vacation, weekend, or a distraction read.

Warning: I stayed up until 1am reading this book, make sure you have adequate sleep-in time the next morning.

Happy reading,

♥R♥

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