Friday, June 29, 2007

Anniversary Advice

Today is my five year wedding anniversary. Weren't we cute?

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

I found out very quickly that when you share a life with someone, you learn quite a bit about them and yourself. It isn't easy going from an individual to a couple. I would like to share a few of the things that I have learned/observed with you today.

  1. In an argument, no one is ever really right or wrong. You think you're right and s/he thinks s/he's right--and that is how it will be. If you both saw things the same way, you wouldn't be fighting.
  2. When fighting, choose your words carefully--you don't want to say anything that you will later (or immediately) regret.
  3. Women: men will never truly understand why we want throw pillows on the bed.
  4. Men: PLEASE make sure you always put the toilet seat back down--women do not like a wet rear end at two in the morning (and you can probably avoid one of those fights mentioned in #1)
  5. Compromise. You won't always get your way. It is no longer just about the "me." It's now about the "us."
  6. Share the load. TJ and I both work and we are both tired when we come home, so we split duty when it comes to dinner. I cook, he does dishes. That way we both have a chance to relax a little.
  7. Support one another--especially in front of others. Even if you think your husband/wife may be in the wrong a little in a situation, don't ever side with someone else.
  8. Learn to listen. It isn't always about needing to fix the situation--sometimes your husband/wife just wants someone to talk to--be that person.
  9. Listen to what is important to one another and make and effort to do those things. It will make your husband/wife happy and, in turn, make you happy. This has to go both ways, though.
  10. Be willing to change (a little). I'm not saying that you need to become an entirely different person, but be flexible (it goes back to the compromise thing).
  11. Don't make big decisions without one another. This includes things like: buying a car, spending a large amount of money, making decorating decisions, etc. Remember: "we" not "me."
  12. Learn to love something that your husband/wife loves. (or at least try to). TJ started playing golf a while ago. I decided if it was important to him I would give it a shot (no pun intended). I was horrible at it and I don't really play anymore, but he loved the fact that i tried. In turn, he has gone to a few musicals with me and listened to jazz with me (two things that he previously would have never done).
  13. Make each other laugh.
  14. Remember stupid anniversaries (the first time you met, the first time you kissed, etc.) Maybe re-enact one of your first dates. Corny is okay.
  15. Love your in laws. When you got married, you didn't just marry your husband/wife--you married into a whole family. Just because they do things differently than you and your family doesn't mean that they do things wrong (refer to #1, 5, and 10).
  16. It's okay to keep separate interests and do things apart from one another--as long as you always come back.
  17. Don't be jealous of your husband/wife. You are a team--what's good for him/her is good for you, too.
  18. Do things without being asked (or after being asked the first time)
  19. Never go to bed, work, out of town, etc. angry (I know that is a cliche, but it's true).
  20. Say "I love you" everyday--and mean it. Don't let it just be three words. Remember what it felt like the first time you heard it/said it--try to capture that each time. Love changes, grows, and matures, but it shouldn't fade away.

That's it. Not much, not rocket science, but some of what I have learned. I am in no way an expert (my mom and dad have been married for 32 years...they know much more than I do)...but I do know more now that I did five years ago. And I am just as happy as I was in that picture. Sure, we have had rough patches, but I think that is something that happens--and we have always come back to one another.

Married readers: share your advice with us...I know I still have a lot to learn!

And TJ, if you read this: Happy Anniversary! I love you now more than ever.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

In a Rush...

I noticed that I hadn't' blogged since Tuesday, so I thought I would post something quick (I am on my way out for my weekly yoga class.)

I realize that we all have a lot of bad (or somewhat annoying) habits. My husband has quite a few, in fact. (Love you, honey!) I am not an innocent in the annoying/bad habit arena, though. I have a few (ask my husband and he will tell you I have more than a few). I realized today what my worst bad habit is:

I don't call people back.

Weird, right? I always have every intention of calling people back when they leave a message--but then I get to doing other things and I completely forget that I was supposed to call someone. Funny thing is that I am not a procrastinator at all (which would help explain this bad habit.) I am just bad about it...

Case in point: my brother called Monday night around 9:00...I still haven't called him back! A friend will call and leave a message on my cell phone and I will call her back four days later.

Luckily all my friends seem to understand that I am the world's worst at returning phone calls in a timely fashion--in fact it has gotten to the point that the message will say "call me as soon as you get this" if it is truly important because they all know I won't ignore that.

And, as I sit here right now I realize I forgot to call someone today. See...I told you it was a bad habit.

So, what is your worst habit?

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Upping the Stakes

Recently an article was printed stating that the Eminence School district in my great state of Kentucky previously eliminated D's as passing grades in school--meaning that all students had to get a C or higher in order to pass. AMEN! It's about time that we start telling our kids that "below average" isn't acceptable.

I want you to honestly think about this--would you go to a cardiologist who only gets his surgeries right 70% of the time? Would your boss pat you on the back and congratulate you if you only did your job right 73% of the time (unless you area meteorologist or professional athlete)? What if you paid only 72% of your bills? Hell, I wouldn't be happy if the kids at Subway only got my order 71% right...

If that is the case, then why are we telling our students that 70% is passing when we know it won't be when they get out of school? Aren't we setting them up in some way to think that the "real" world is going to accept sub-par performance? Just as I applaud this school district for pushing their kids beyond D's, you know that this isn't all sunshine and rainbows.


Simple: with any major change in schools, there comes some people who think it is utter bunk (translation: the parents of the kids who slack of and eek by with a 69.5 each year think it's bunk). Parents of athletes are complaining that this is a way to force kids out of playing sports because they are being held to a standard that is too high. Too high? I bet your all star quarterback wouldn't be starting if he only completed 70% of his passes. Hell, I bet he wouldn't be starting if he only completed 76% of his passes--so why is expecting at least average performance in the classroom such a stretch?

This goes back to what I said in an earlier post about parents needing to side with the school from time to time. It's not like this school is telling all kids they have to get A's--they just want them to perform at an average level. (Rumor has it that the district also wants to eliminate C's...which I think is a little harsh, but that's their business...).

I don't think that making at least a C is too much to ask, why do some parents? Shouldn't parents be happy that schools aren't allowing kids to eek by? Shouldn't parents be happy that schools are telling kids that they are better than what they are showing everyone? Shouldn't they be happy that someone else is pushing their kids to do better...and telling them that they aren't sub-par? You would think the answer to these questions would be yes, but it seems that it is a resounding "NO!"

When did our society get so complacent? When did below average performance become something to celebrate?

And where will that lead us?

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Look...But Don't Touch

In Fairfax County, Virginia, a school has enforced a strict no touching policy. That means no hugging, hand-holding, kissing, poking, prodding, high-fiving or any other form of physical contact between students. Period. The school says that they have done it to reduce confrontations in the hallway and to limit any gang handshakes, etc. in their school.

This ban has created a storm of controversy--mainly from parents of a student who nearly got detention for putting his arm around his girlfriend. Instead of supporting the school policy and setting a good example for their child (by teaching them that rules apply to everyone and there are no exceptions) the parents are lobbying for a change in the school policy.

Here's how I see it:

I am a high school teacher and I see the large amount of physical contact that goes on in our hallways everyday. Some of it may seem innocent enough, but, when you look closely at the elaborate handshakes and signs, you know what is going on. Kids are literally making out in the hallway (and, since we had close to 40 girls pregnant last year it seems that the making out in the hallway isn't where it is stopping). It's true that little innocent pokes and pushes often turn into fights in the hallway--and even if teachers are there to stop the contact, it doesn't always help because, in our code of conduct there is really nothing about physical touch at all--no bans, restrictions, nothing. In fact, we don't even have anything about public displays of affection--I think it says something like "all physical contact must be appropriate and unoffensive." Unoffensive to whom? The students? The teachers? Visitors? It isn't clear.

I digress...(what else is new?)

My point is this--if things were clear (like the absolute ban) then there would be no question about what the rules were. Our principal wouldn't have to deal with phone calls asking why their child got written up for kissing in the hall while their best friend didn't. It would be straight forward, no nonsense, no questions asked clear.

A news report last night said that this ban was crippling the kids because it was creating an environment that was too protective...too protective? In today's world of school violence and danger, I would think that parents and the public would be happy that a school is taking steps to protect kids the best that they can. If the school kept letting gang signs and "secret" handshakes happen and a fight broke out that led to injuries, they would be in trouble there, too. It's like schools can't win.

Can I see where some people may be upset? Sure I can...especially if you are one of the kids in trouble. But, can I see where the school is coming from? You bet I can. I see what they are trying to do...and it seems that they really are doing with the best interest of all their student in mind. It's not like they just woke up one morning and said "Hey...what can we do to make our student's lives a living hell? I know...let's enforce a touching ban!"

As a teacher I wish parents would try to see the school's side more often. If anything is crippling many kids today it's their parents' urgency to always tell their kids that they are right--even when they have blatantly violated an established rule. Even one as seemingly ridiculous as a touching ban.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Death to Snap, Crackle and Pop?

I have heard a lot of ridiculous things in my nearly thirty (gag) years on Earth, but what I read today takes the cake (or should I saw low calorie, no trans-fat faux cake?).

It seems that Kellogg's has decided that the cereals that Toucan Sam, Snap, Crackle and Pop advertise are not healthy enough for kids, so they are going to refrain from using those icons until their cereals meet their new health standards. What are the new standards? According to a news article printed this morning, they are:

fewer than 200 calories, fewer than 2 grams of saturated fat (and no trans fats), fewer than 230 milligrams of sodium and fewer than 12 grams per serving. (It's the sodium that gets the Rice Krispies.)

I grew up with these icons. I saw them on Saturday morning commercials (when Saturday morning cartoons were worth getting up for). I turned out okay. You know why? Because I didn't have McDonald's four times a week or sit down and eat a bag of chips and drink a twelve pack of Mountain Dew everyday after school.

Although I applaud cereal companies for trying to make things more healthy and improve the quality of life for kids it isn't enough. Kellogg's can pull those icons off the air and change their cereals, but, until parents decide to cook actual meals, buy fruit and keep sodas to a minimum in their household changes like this to the advertising of cereal won't make much difference.

What's next? A skinny Santa Claus who eats carrot sticks instead of cookies and milk?

Heaven help us.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

The Ten Commandments...for Drivers?

We all know the Ten Commandments...even if you aren't a Christian you know of them. They have been around forever. They have been the subject of many debates and arguments and petitions, and, when I was raised a Catholic, I was told that these Ten Commandments were the be all end all--they applied to every aspect of my life and I was to abide by them in all respects (at play, at work, etc.).

Suddenly it seems that the Vatican doesn't think that these "be all, end all" rules are enough. They have come out with the Ten Commandments for Motorists. Are you serious? The Vatican has endorsed this? Why? Weren't the original ones enough? The Associated Press says that there is no evidence that The Pope actually endorsed it, but his secretary did, and now they are out there. For those of you who haven't seen them yet, here you go:


  1. You shall not kill.
  2. The road shall be for you a means of communion between people and not of mortal harm.
  3. Courtesy, uprightness and prudence will help you deal with unforeseen events.
  4. Be charitable and help your neighbor in need, especially victims of accidents.
  5. Cars shall not be for you an expression of power and domination, and an occasion of sin.
  6. Charitably convince the young and not so young not to drive when they are not in a fitting condition to do so.
  7. Support the families of accident victims.
  8. Bring guilty motorists and their victims together, at the appropriate time, so that they can undergo the liberating experience of forgiveness.
  9. On the road, protect the more vulnerable party.
  10. Feel responsible toward others.

Anyone else feel that most of these are a little redundant? It seems that "feel responsibility towards others" sounds a lot like "love thy neighbor," "Cars shall not be an expression of power" can be tied into the "thou shalt not covet..."and I am pretty sure that "thou shalt not kill" is one of the originals. So, wouldn't it have saved time, effort and a lot of head scratching if the Vatican had simply made the following announcement:

"Just so everyone knows, the Ten Commandments applies to everything. Even driving. Thank you."

Monday, June 18, 2007

Why is it Always Bad News?

I realized last night why I really hate watching the news.

TJ and I had just finished watching the premiere of Last Comic Standing when the local news came on. The top five news stories? A triple shooting, a drowning, another shooting, a murder, a house fire that caused $150,000 worth of damage. The next four stories? Another shooting, another house fire, another drowning, and a missing woman who is nine months pregnant (her family, of course, fears the worst because if they were optimistic the story probably wouldn't have gotten on the news).

Why watch the news? Honestly--they can't ever report anything good. I'm sure there were some church festivals this weekend (St. Henry being one of them) or some kick-ass family picnics somewhere for Father's day. The Florence Freedom had their "Bark in the Park" on Sunday night (take your dogs to the ballpark night). The Cincinnati Roller Girls had an All Star match Saturday night...but where were those stories?

Why is our society so violent? Because the media GLORIFIES it! It never fails--if there is one school violence thing on the news there will be at least three more within the next week. Why? Because it is a sure fire way to get attention.

Until the news decides that there are other things in this world than violence, hatred and sadness, we will never be a calm, unified, happy society. And until they decide to break up the bad news with the good news that is happening all over, I think I'll stay away from the news for a while. Why fear that which I cannot control? I would rather spend my days reflecting on all the good things that I have done and that I know others are doing.

Have a great Monday.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

My Husband, the Hero!

On May 29th my computer decided to go on permanent vacation (I'm sure those of you who actually read my blog remember that--it was horrible. Lost everything, no more PC, very bad day). TJ tried gallantly to fix it but it was simply unfixable. So I had to order a new hard drive (two, actually) and wait for Dell to send the software that I needed. They sent everything quite quickly (ooohhh--alliteration) and we thought we would have my PC up and running my the first week in June.

Nope. Nothing doing, ladies and gents--it is amazing how busy things can get. TJ's dad and his step mom were in town, I went to Columbus, he went places for work, we have commitments in the evenings and, next thing you know, it was mid June and my poor computer was still sitting in my office looking soooooo sad. And I was sooooo sad, too, because I had to hook up my laptop everyday to check email and such (and that was a pain in the ass...not to mention a pain in the back since I had to hunch over the laptop every morning).

Well, we were up early yesterday morning to take the dogs to the $200 trip to the vet and TJ decided to work on my computer to get the new stuff installed. He worked for a few hours and, next thing I knew, he had my computer up, running with all the software and two brand new hard drives ready to go. He put it back in my office and I am typing on it RIGHT NOW! No more hunched over the laptop, no more hooking up wires and cords, no more slow connection--my computer is back, baby! Yippy!!!

And all because my husband is a hero. For many things, really, but, today, he is my hero because he fixed my sad PC...and made it (and me) happy once again.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Our Dogs, the Vet and Other Crazy Things

Meet Gizmo and Loki, the motivation for today's blog:

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

They are purebred Shiba Inus. Very few people have heard of this breed (although they are becoming more popular). Gizmo (the red one) is almost seven and Loki (the black one) is nearly five. Although they look nothing alike, I assure you they are the same breed.

TJ never wanted dogs, but a friend of his had one of these and he decided if we ever got a dog that's what we would get. So we got Gizmo. We were a bit ignorant to the whole breeder thing at the time, so we went to a place that was most likely a puppy mill (shudder) and got him. Although I know you should not buy from people who keep their dogs in inhumane conditions, I couldn't bear to leave this puppy in that place, so off we went with baby Gizmo. He was bit shaky and shy, but we thought he would grow out of it (he didn't...he is the most withdrawn dog with strangers, he hates Petsmart and he hates lots of people). When Gizmo turned two, he began having seizures--bad ones. TJ and I ended up having to take him to the emergency vet clinic one night at like 12:30. They had to keep him overnight. Our house was so quiet without him that we wondered what we would do if anything happened to him. The next morning when we picked him up they said they could find nothing wrong. I called a friend who was a certified trainer and she said to switch his food, so we did and (knock on wood) things got better.

After a while, Gizmo appeared lonely, so we got Loki. He was so tiny and cute and adventurous. He is Gizmo's polar opposite. They hated each other for some time (actually, I should say that Gizmo hated Loki--he was jealous that he was no longer the only dog...he got over it.) They became a pair and we became our own little family (as odd as it seems).

Then Gizmo started acting weird. We took him through a battery of tests and it turned out that he was allergic to dust mites (of all blasted things) so he was put on steroids and antibiotics. Fine, super. A dog on steroids. We figured it was because of where he came from and we were fine with doing whatever we had to to keep him comfortable--after all, he was our baby. Then, when Loki turned two, he started with the itchy, chewy, scratchy stuff. Guess what? Allergies--TO DUST MITES!!! You've got to be kidding me...two dogs, unrelated, allergic to the same thing. Suddenly we had two dogs on steroids and antibiotics.

The kicker? They have to be on this stuff for the rest of their lives or else they are miserable. Miserable as in Loki chews all the fur off his paws and Gizmo chews all the fur off from under his front legs. The steroids aren't bad ($9.00 for a month's supply for two dogs)...the antibiotics, however, run us close to $90.00 every two months or so. That's a lot, really, but we do it...every other month. Why? Because they are ours--we have raised them and we can't stand to see them suffer for anything. Some people may have given up by now...taken them to the pound, put them down, given them away--but we can't and we won't. Just because they are not perfectly healthy doesn't mean they aren't perfect. Gizmo is reserved and quiet, but, when he wags his tail, it makes everyone happy. Loki is wild and crazy--he will exhaust you with fetch, but he won't stop unless he collapses. Each of them is unique in their own way and our lives would be empty without them.

We knew what we were getting into when we got them, and we are in this for the long haul. It is strange that you can become so attached to something...but we have, and, no matter what, we are going to make sure that these two live a long and happy life...

No matter what the cost.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Star Wars

I am a Star Wars fan. I am proud to admit that--but let me clarify that I am a fan of the REAL Star Wars--not the new ones that came out. I have watched them, but the acting is exceptionally bad and the storylines weak at best. I see what Lucas was trying to do, but it didn't work for me--and many things don't line up with the original (for example, in Return of the Jedi, Leia mentions that she remembers her mother but she died when she was really young--in the new Star Wars, Padme dies right after giving birth to Luke and Leia, so Leia could not remember her real mother).

I digress...

I was watching Return of the Jedi this afternoon--enjoying myself, actually, since it has been so long since I have seen this one. I got a little teary when Darth Vader asks Luke to take off the mask so he can see him with his own eyes. I got a little tearier (if that is a word) when Darth says that Luke has saved him. Luke returns to the celebration and greets his sister and hugs everyone and then he looks over to see Obi Wan, Yoda and...wait...what the hell? Hayden Christensen? What the hell? He wasn't in the dare they mess with the end of this classic film to match up with the inferior and infuriating prequels? Where is Sebastian Shaw? The ORIGINAL Anakin Skywalker???


Shame on you, George Lucas--shame on you for changing your film to meet the needs of today's generation...what about the generation who grew up with Luke, Leia, Han and Chewbacca? What about those of us who revisit this film and find ourselves asking "WHAT THE HELL????"

Shame on you.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

A Thousand Splendid Suns

Yesterday I finished Khaled Hosseini's second novel A Thousand Splendid Suns. It did not disappoint. I had loved his first novel The Kite Runner and was hoping that this novel would live up to those standards. It did.

This novel starts with Miriam, a bastard child of a very wealthy man in Afghanistan. She and her mother have been given a small shack on the outskirts of town to hide her existence from her father's family. Her father (Jalil) comes to visit once a week and Miriam looks forward to this each week. Miriam's mother does not believe that this relationship is healthy because she knows that Miriam will be let down in the end. One fateful birthday, things turn bad for Miriam and she suddenly fins herself married to a man she doesn't know (Rasheed). She moves away and is forced to live a life that is less than what she imagined. Her story later interweaves with Laila, and orphaned woman and her two children.

The novel spans from 1959 (when Miriam was born) to 2003 (well after the Taliban and 9-11 rocked Afghanistan and the United States). It is interesting to get the Taliban from the Afghan perspective. It is not what I expected.

It seems that Hosseini loves the theme of friendship. Evident in his first novel with the boys and this second novel with Miriam and Laila. He also weaves unwanted (or unplanned) children into both novels. His style is beautiful and he writes page turners. I finished this novel in three days and was disappointed that I finished. It was bittersweet--I'm glad that I finished, but, at the same time, I wanted more. I am thinking of picking up The Kite Runner to read again because I want to revisit that novel.

Hoseinni is, in my humble opinion, one of this era's great novelists and we can only hope that he delivers another novel as good as his first two.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

True Friends Never Fade

I will be the first to admit that I lost touch with many people over the years. In fact, I have blogged about that previously. What I found this weekend, though, is that true friends never really go away.

Nicole and I were friends in high school--we were part of a trio that was inseparable. We went everywhere together. When I graduated from high school we stayed in touch and went to lunch, dinner, movies, etc. We even made an ill-fated and ridiculous trip to Richmond, Indiana to track down two guys that we had met at Kings Island the day after I graduated from high school (loooong story--maybe I'll tell you all sometime).

When she graduated from high school she went away to college. That's when the separation started. We still talked, but it wasn't as often. She came home from college from time to time and we talked, but it was different. I wasn't naive enough to believe that everything would always be the same, but I never really thought it would be all the different.

When it came time for me to get married, she was the first person I thought of to be my maid of honor. She lived up to the title, was amazing and fabulous and I thought that we would go back to almost how we used to be. And then she moved to New York and the separation became greater. I still thought of her often, but we never really talked. I missed her. Two years ago she moved to Columbus. Sure, she was closer, and we got together the day of one of my other best friend's wedding...but when she went back to Columbus she never called (and, in all honestly, neither did I). I was beginning to think that she and I grew too far apart to be friends.

But I was wrong.

Sunday was her birthday. On Wednesday of last week I got a phone call from Gini who said Nicole wanted us to drive up to Columbus to spend her birthday with her. At first I thought it was just Gini wanting company on the ride, but, when I signed onto Myspace I saw the message from Nicole inviting me up. I took the opportunity and off we went.

I got to meet her new boyfriend (who is fabulous), I got to meet her friends (also fabulous). Most importantly, I got to reconnect with her. Long after everyone went to bed, Nicole and I sat up and talked. We were up until five in the morning talking about Chris, TJ, her life, her future--everything. It was great to just spend time with her again.

Do I think everything is going to be like it was ten years ago? Hell no. Do I think we can be friends again? Yes, I do. I think that we can be new friends--and that is the best thing I can hope for.

True friends--friends who are supposed to be in your life for a long time--never really fade. They just change...and that's okay.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

The Last Day of School

It is hard to believe that today was the kids' last day. I say hard to believe because it didn't feel like the last day of school. I'm not sure why it didn't. It may be because we had the kids all year and I am used to switching kids halfway through--I feel that since I didn't switch kids I'm only halfway through the year. It felt like a normal day.

I'm glad it felt like a normal day, though. The kids weren't crazy and the day went smoothly (except for the stinkbombs set off at the end of the day) and it ended as normal. I will admit that I did a happy dance at the end of the day--who couldn't after the year we have had? Honestly, these kids drove me crazy. I will miss a few of them, but, overall, I think my life will be much less complicated and stressful.

As I type this I realize I am not really in the mood to blog tonight--hence my overall lack of sarcasm and voice. I think I will wrap it up, curl up on the couch and watch a movie.

After is the last day of school.

Saturday, June 2, 2007

Today Show's Sizzling Summer Reads

As an English teacher and a general book freak I am always on the lookout for great book recommendations--especially for the summer (albeit short). I was watching the Today Show's weekend edition this morning and they did their Sizzling Top Ten Summer Reads. I wanted to share them with you. I have included the Today Show's summaries and added my thoughts in purple below the summary.

A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini
Hosseini's first novel, The Kite Runner, spent more than 105 weeks on the Times list and has editions published in thirty-four countries to date. In his second novel, A Thousand Splendid Suns, he takes us back to Afghanistan as he entwines the lives of his characters with the devastating events from the 1970's to the present. His characters guide us through the communist revolution, the Soviet occupation, the civil war under the mujahideen, the terrifying reign of the Taliban, the American invasion after 9/11, and the reconstruction since that time. It is a story of an unforgiving time, an unlikely friendship and an indestructible love.

Hooray! I was waiting for his next novel. The Kite Runner was such a beautifully written novel that I was wondering if his writing style would be sustained through another work. I have high hopes that he will blow me away with this one as he did with the other.

The Last Summer (of You and Me) by Ann Brashares
The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants author delivers her first novel for adults in this summer read. It is the story of a beach-community friendship triangle among three young adults. Brashares takes us the town of Waterby, on Fire Island, and reminds us of the complexities that can arise when female friendship and young love all strike the same small group. Her plot twists carry us through the sting of friendship, the great ache of loss, and the complicated weight of family loyalty.

This intrigues me. She is mostly known for young adult works. Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants was a good story, but her style wasn't geared towards adults. I am interested to see if she can make the transition from young adult to actual adult fiction.

Drop Dead Beautiful by Jackie Collins
This is the 25th novel for bestselling author Jackie Collins. All 24 of her previous books have been New York Times bestsellers and many have been the basis for film or television miniseries. Collins is known for giving her readers an unrivaled insiders knowledge of the glamorous lives and loves of the rich and famous. In her newest novel, out June 26th, she re-introduces her readers to Lucky Santangelo, last seen in 1999's Dangerous Kiss. Lucky is proof that it's not always easy being rich, gorgeous, successful and a happily married mom, but Mafia princess turned Hollywood producer and real estate mogul again proves she is up to the challenge.

I will admit I have never read a Jackie Collins novel. I am not sure I will run out and get this--nothing against Jackie Collins--I just don't find the lives of the rich and famous all that interesting. It would be the last on my list of books to grab this summer. Now, if I stumble upon it and I can read it for free I may.

I Love You, Beth Cooper by Larry Doyle
From the pen of a former Emmy award-winning writer and supervising producer of the The Simpsons, this book is an account of the 17 hours that take place after Denis Cooverman stands up to give his graduation speech, but instead uses the opportunity to announce his love for Beth Cooper. Beth, the head cheerleader, has only the vaguest idea who Denis is, but this homage to and deconstruction of classic teen movies reminds us all that we all once knew or were a "Beth" and a "Denis".

I will say that the fact this is written by one of the guys who did The Simpsons pushes me away from this one a little, but the concept is totally original. According to the guy who reviewed this on the Today Show, they get locked in the gym during graduation and that's when Denis proclaims his love. I will most likely check this one out due to the that fact that I feel I can relate to Denis: who hasn't had unrequited love?

A Good and Happy Child by Justin Evans
Fitted somewhere between horror and psychological drama, Evans' first novel explores the notions of demons - how real they are and how real we are able to make them. The novel opens in a New York therapist's office, where thirty-year-old George Davies is seeking help for a unique problem: He can't bring himself to hold his newborn son. Desperate to save his dwindling marriage and redeem himself as a father and a husband, George begins to delve into his childhood memories. From there readers become immersed in a world of demonology and subsequently themes of religion, psychology, and medieval history.

This will most likely be one of the first novels I read this summer. The reviewed said that Stephen King fans will love this book because it deals with psychological thriller themes. I am hoping that this novel is as good as the summary sounds.

Promise Not to Tell by Jennifer McMahon
Set in rural Vermont, Promise Not to Tell is Jennifer McMahon's chilling debut novel about a woman whose past and present collide when she returns to her small hometown to care for her aging mother on the same night a young girl is killed. The crime mirrors the murder of her childhood best friend who had been murdered in the Vermont woods thirty years earlier. The similarities of the crimes draw the stories protagonist, Kate, into the new investigation as she begins to realize old friends were never quite what they seemed, and the ghosts of her childhood are far from forgotten.

The plot seems a little redone (I think It by Stephen King anytime you deal with childhood trauma, etc.) Still, if McMahon can find a way to make the plot fresh this novel has great promise.

The Accidental by Ali Smith
Smith's last book, Hotel World, was the winner of the Whitbread Award for Best Novel and a Man Booker Prize Finalist. In her latest novel, Smith introduces her readers to Heather O'Neill, who plays Amber, a mysterious stranger who wangles her way into the lives of a vacationing English family spending the summer in a remote cottage. Her "accidental" encounter transforms the lives of four variously unhappy people. However, after a disturbing event, Amber is compelled to leave. The family is left to re-evaluate who they are post-Amber and to decide how to live with the changes she has brought about in them.

First, as an English teacher I have problems with the fact that accidental has no noun to refer to--it is an adjective, after all. That aside, the novel looks to be somewhat interesting. I am hoping it is not predictable or dry. Although it seems it could have a good plot, something tells me that I may walk away let down. Maybe not-who knows?

Damage Control: Women on the Therapists, Beauticians and Trainers who Navigate Their Bodies Various Authors Edited by: Emma Forrest
Traditionally, women share their secrets with their hairdressers. But what about their manicurists, masseurs, chi gong teachers, and tattoo artists? In Damage Control, women wax poetic about the experts and gurus who help them love themselves, sharing stories of everything from friendships born in the make-up chair to the utter dismay of a truly horrible haircut. In this book Minnie Driver finally meets a Frenchman who understands her hair . . . and tries to teach her not to hate it, Marian Keyes remembers the blow-dry that pushed her over the edge, Francesca Lia Block tells the ugly story of the plastic surgeon who promised to make her beautiful, and Rose McGowan explains why it's harder to be depressed when you're glamorous . . . and shows how it takes a village to transform from mere mortal to movie star.

Um...who cares? I guess I can't say that--many people are interested in what celebs think--I will not be reading this novel (er, book) this summer. Why? Because everyone has had a bad haircut (I once cut mine so short it looked like a boy's...and then I permed my bangs. That was a dark time for me), bad hairstyling experience (when I was a senior in high school I went to get my hair chemically straightened and the lady left the solution on too long and made my hair the consistency of straw)...and everyone has made friends in odd places (one of my best friends is my brother's ex-girlfriend). If celeb gossip is for you then I guess you would like this book--I just don't think it would be for me.

Poolside by Various Authors
A waterproof collection of fourteen stories about the satisfactions (and tribulations) of learning to swim, making huge splashes, and just floating, among other aquatic pursuits. The book includes stories from bestselling and highly regarded authors including: John Cheever, Ernest Hemingway, John Updike, A.M. Holmes, Amy Bloom and David Foster Wallace. You can read it by the pool, in the pool, or even in the bathtub.

Amazing! A waterproof book. How often have I been in the tub and accidentally gotten my book wet? More times than I can count. And this book is really waterproof--they had it in a baby pool on the Today Show and they fished it out and it was fine. This book may be worth getting just to repeatedly throw it into the water to amaze your friends!

On Chesil Beach by Ian McEwan
McEwan is the author of two collections of stories and ten previous novels, including Enduring Love, Atonement, Saturday and Amsterdam, for which he won the Booker Prize for in 1998. His newest book is set in July of 1962. Florence is a talented musician who dreams of a career on the concert stage and of the perfect life she will create with Edward, an earnest young history student at University College of London, who unexpectedly wooed and won her heart. Newly married that morning, both virgins, Edward and Florence arrive at a hotel on the Dorset coast. At dinner in their rooms they struggle to suppress their worries about the wedding night to come. Edward, eager for rapture, frets over Florence's response to his advances and nurses a private fear of failure, while Florence's anxieties run deeper: she is overcome by sheer disgust at the idea of physical contact, but dreads disappointing her husband when they finally lie down together in the honeymoon suite. On Chesil Beach is a story of lives transformed by a gesture not made or a word not spoken.

A virgin bride and groom? What a new concept! Novels this day and age have everyone sleeping with everyone else--what a change to have the two main characters be a little different. Granted, it is 1962, but still...I think I will check this one out.

There you have it--The Today Show's list. How many can you read this summer? Or, if you have read a few, what did you think? Let me know.

Friday, June 1, 2007

The Blahs

Today was not a good day. Every last thing got on my nerves and I am just cranky (Cranky Librarian I am taking your adjective for the night--just call me Cranky Shan).

We are two days away from finishing the school year. Normally that would make me jump for joy, but, for some reason I am just "ick" about it. Am I looking forward to not having to get up at 5 am? Sure. Am I glad that some of the shithead kids are going to vanish from my room and never return? Amen. But, I have to go back to work starting July 26th (for site based training) and August 3rd (for department day) and August 6th (for more professional development), August 7th and 8th (for freshman academy stuff) and August 9th (for test score stuff). So, technically, I get less than a month and a half off. To most people that is a lifetime off, but, when you are used to getting out in June and not going back until the end of August, this sucks big time.

Some people would call me a whiner for this (namely TJ who would kill for two months off), but THIS BLOWS.

I am also cranky because I am lonely today. TJ went out with my brother (and he does that often on Friday nights). Normally I don't mind, but, for some reason, today I am lonely. I have also been trying to call one of my best friends for the last couple of days and sent her numerous emails but she isn't returning my calls or emails--so now I am wondering if I did something to piss her off. She is probably just busy and I am probably just paranoid, but I can't be sure.

Plus the fact my computer died and I am hunchback over my laptop right now does not help my mood any.

Cranky Shan.

That has a nice ring to it. I think I will go to Blockbuster, get the saddest damn movie I can, get a bottle of wine and curl up on the couch and have a good cry. Maybe that will help. Maybe a hit over the head with a rubber mallet would help. Maybe not having an "alternative calendar" nest school year would help. Who knows.

Hopefully I won't be cranky tomorrow. This mood seriously conflicts with the new centered life I am tyring to lead.

Until later...