Friday, February 21, 2014

The Year of Living Biblically

The Year of Living Biblically: One Man's Humble Quest to Follow the Bible as Literally as Possible
A.J. Jacobs
Weight: 1lb
Method of Disposal: Leaving near a bookstore

I have been thinking about how to write about this book for the last three days, and I am still not sure so, as usual, do not expect greatness.  I picked it up years after it was given to me to read.  I am ashamed to admit that I was suppose to read it so I could tell customers in the bookstore about it and recommend it, but I see that it did quite fine without me.  How many sins did I commit then?  I am fairly certain I was suppose to return the copy to the store once I was done.  The store I worked for is closed down now so I cannot give it back.  I guess the next best thing would be to leave it near a bookstore now so someone can find it. 

The book was amusing, and it gave me lots of new information.  I was speaking all sorts of Bible talk to people at random for days, and it felt good.  People would just look a little stunned, a little confused, and then try to engage, though skeptical. 

I had no idea that their was a group called RECAP that existed for men who wanted to get back their foreskin after circumcision.  The group still exists with a different name.  Here.  I will save you the Google search:
But it is not a great conversation starter over sushi with friends.  I learned that last night.

There are people out there that will drive dangerously slow in order to abide by the laws and thus not lie.  And, by dangerously slow, I mean the speed limit.  There are also people that believe Noah took dinosaurs on his ark.  Only God knows what sin they committed to get knocked off after completing that journey.  The grandmother of an ex-girlfriend once told me that dinosaurs did not exist, with full conviction, because they were not biblically accounted for.  I loved that woman.  She also liked the way I colored.  With crayons.  It was far more beautiful than her granddaughter's style.  We were adults at this point--just to clarify.

I fell in love with A.J.'s wife.  She was quite endearing when she would pop up, and I loved her use of the word "helmet" to let A.J. know that he was being an overprotective parent, which happened with regularity.  I appreciated that she sat in every chair in the house while on her period, inadvertently forcing A.J. to buy a stool to carry around with him.  I cannot imagine being intimate with the man who has the biblical beard and that is relieved when he does not have to touch impure women--and later men.  I know she struggled, endured, and believed in something--love, I guess--to get through that year.

And, at one point, I connected with A.J. in a way I have not discussed with many people.  It happened on day 271.  He writes about how in high school he was concerned that girls he liked might be watching him...while he was at home, chilling.  He would try to look extra cool doing mundane things, act rebellious for no reason, and listen to music he did not necessarily like.  I did this too.  For years.  Is this normal?  Can someone tell me?  I would randomly flick off the window or flash the woods behind my house just so that THEY would know that I knew THEY were there.  You can imagine that discovering masturbation was both a blessing and a curse.  Oh the joy.  Oh the shame!

All of that being said, I am not sure what I wanted from this book, but I know I did not get what I was looking for.  I enjoyed it, and it was amusing.  Like I said, I appreciate my new and rare trivia, but it all just felt so incomplete.  Like A.J. said, it would be impossible to take on the entire Bible in a year, and really everyone who is interested is forced to pick and choose which parts of the holy book they pick out, follow, or speak about, but I still wanted more.  I think my wariness started with the proclamation at the start of the book that he would not buy into the crap while he studied it. 

On the one hand, I liked to see him talk about how it affected him far more than he thought it would and was glad that it even made surprising improvements in how he is as a person when dealing with others.  But, I couldn't help but feel like the whole year was just to get a laugh.  It would vaguely irritate me when he would do rude and/or ridiculous things like not shake people's hands when we all knew good and well he was avoiding all sorts of other shit he didn't want to deal with.  Why should that bother me though?  There was SO much for him to follow and what's wrong with a sense of humor? 

He explored some extreme subsets and did some weird shit, but it was all just the tip of a very massive ice berg.  I cannot tell you why I was hoping to get something deeper from the book.  I am not religious.  I guess it was just so obvious that he was focusing on the surface level of everything and not really trying to delve into the meaning, which was a little off putting since he complained all the time that he was not really feeling God.  I never got the impression he was really, truly trying to so what was he worried about?  I am not hopeful about the Bible and yet I could tell I was let down at the end, and there was that point, before the end, where I started wanting to skip pages.  It wasn't so much that the New Testament was rushed.  I can appreciate why, but it was disoriented and not as coherent, which felt weird since that is when his lovely neighbor died and his amazing wife gave birth to his two sons.  Maybe that was it.  Life got real busy, real fast, and he was on a deadline. And it was obvious.  Whatever it was, I lost interest and when my curiosity would get peeked by some little tidbit it would be over a minute after I started reading it, which was a letdown. 

At the end of this rant, I must confess that I am slightly nervous A.J. or someone he knows will stumble across this one day and be aggravated.  How sweet is it that his dad marks negative Amazon comments as unhelpful?  I love him.  I think it is clear that, despite my problems with the book, I really enjoyed it and had fun reading it.  I think A.J. can be proud and if you want to learn a bunch of random things about Judaism and Christianity then I recommend that you pick this book up.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Beyond the Yellow Brick Road

Beyond the Yellow Brick Road: Our Children and Drugs by Bob Meehan and Stephen J. Meyer
Weight: 1 lb
Method of Disposal: Burn

ABC 15 News Bob Meehan

Nuff Said.

Good Riddance.

Autobiography of a Fat Bride

Autobiography of a Fat Bride
Weight: 7.2 oz
Method of Disposal: Leaving Somewhere

My wait is almost over, but it could not end soon enough.  The closer I get the more anxious I am for it to get here.  Our visa has been approved, but it is like I cannot believe it until I see it.  Hopefully, she will be here by the end of February!  Is there a better Valentine's gift than that?

I guess it is pretty obvious why I chose this book.  It is going to be me soon!  And I have 6 hours and 8 minutes of songs on my Wedding Mix to help us get through the long ass drive to DC and back that we will be making twice.  

I bought this book, originally, because I had read Notaro's others.  It is a rare thing that comedy/humor makes me laugh, but when she did I would be in tears and sometimes, no matter how embarassed I was, I could really relate.  

Here is Notaro on a visit to the gynecologist:

"Dont worry about children now," my doctor said as she laughed mockingly at me.  "You're not even married."

"I'm getting married...soon," I explained hesitantly. "And I don't want to have a newborn when I'm so old we can sleep in cribs next to each other."

She laughed harder.

"Let's wait and see if your marriage works out first," she scolded me. "It's no fun being a single parent."

Her comment felt like the slap of my mom's flip-flop to the side of my head.  What?  I thought as I looked at her.  What did you just say?  My mother is the only one who has the right to pop my self esteem with a harpoon like that.  You don't have that right!  You've only seen me naked! (34)

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Snow Day

The Last Book in the Universe by Rodman Philbrick 2000
The Magic Paintbrush by Lawrence Yep 2000
Weight: 14 oz
Method of Disposal: Leaving Somewhere

I am feeling very lucky and a little guilty.  I have been in my nice warm house all day, and the power has not gone out yet.  I am very thankful for this.  I have not been back to the animal shelter since 11pm last night.  Four of us went to clean up the pets, let them out, and make sure the one generator we have was working.  Today, a small crew of dedicated staff went to the shelter to care for the animals.  I was pleased to enjoy my day off and also feeling a little useless.  Mixed feelings.  I have no idea what tomorrow brings.

Meanwhile, in the UK the weather is even more atrocious.  Harriet's power went out a couple times, and we were creating backup plans to ensure we would still be able to check in with each other periodically.  Wishing everyone could be safe and warm tonight.

80 mph Gales

About 4 hours away in Wales

I wish I could say that I had been productive today, but I absolutely have not been.  I have been snuggling with all the critters, my own and my fosters, and reading books.  I should be cleaning, working, writing letters, but I am so sleepy and my body just seems to want to rest so I have been reading.  I finished these two books today.  I remember being worried that The Last Book in the Universe would just be a rip-off of Fahrenheit 451.  Not at all.  It might have made me cry at one point. I am already scanning my shelves for my next read.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Let's All Kill Constance

Let's All Kill Constance by Ray Bradbury
Weight: 14.2 oz
Method of Disposal: Leaving Somewhere

I really enjoyed this book for the first 100 pages, but I slowly started to lose interest after that and by the end I will admit I was glad it was over.  That is almost more disappointing than reading a book you do not enjoy through and through.  I had such high hopes!  I, honestly, do not have a lot to say about it other than that and that Constance Rattigan is a fantastic name for an aging Hollywood icon.
Today was one of the worst I've had in some time.  Work has been absolutely brutal.  It has been stressful, raw, emotional, and hard.  So hard.  And tomorrow is a really important day for me.  I am tired, but I am having trouble sleeping since it is all I can think about.  I am trying to distract myself by reading, blogging, and, yes, by Facebooking. :(  Send me all your positive energy, keep your fingers crossed, and hope tomorrow is a fantastic day.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Common Sense

Common Sense by Thomas Paine
Weight: 4 oz
Method of Disposal: Leaving Somewhere

Sometimes being a little nerdy can make you the dumbest one in class.  I remember that in high school we were able to pick a book off a list for class, and I chose Common Sense based on the title.  Not on any previous knowledge of it.  Not on the number of pages, though it amuses me to think that kids regularly fall into this trap.  At the time, I was bored out of my mind while reading it.  It was paine-ful.  Haha, get it?  Okay, not funny.

Any who, now I have taken home this adorable Chihuahua puppy and was considering adopting her, but common sense tells me I should let her go.  A high school acquaintance who is a wonderful dog mom is very interested and that has to be the best route.  To love her for the next two to four weeks and then let her go.  The joys and sadness of fostering...

Guess I better talk to the wife.  Got some things to work out.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Feast Day of Fools

Feast Day of Fools by James Lee Burke
Weight: 1.6 lbs
Method of Disposal: Leaving Somewhere

Anytime I start to argue that I have a sleeping problem remind me that I only seem to have this problem when I know I have to go to work in the morning.  Something about knowing that I will not be able to control my schedule, freedoms, and admonishments makes me feel like I have to pack everything into one night.  If I stay up the morning will never come, but I know from college (all those years ago) that is not true.  Morning does come.  Over and over and over. Responsibility is this beast that some people try to maintain and others just let run away, but either way it complicates things.  If you stay up all night you are just tired the next day.

Dictionary of Modern Anguish

Dictionary of Modern Anguish by R.M. Berry
Weight: 7 oz
Method of Disposal: Leaving Somewhere

This Chantix is an emotional rollercoaster, mostly one that is going very quickly down, but I trust that it is all so I can get off, safely, at some point.  I picked this book of the shelf because of the title on a particularly miserable night.  I did not know what to expect, and I think that is a good thing because there is no way I could have expected this.  I loved it.  I really enjoy experimental fiction and, when I read this, I could not help but think this is what separates brilliant people from the rest of us.  Book reviews of books that have never been written, insecure ramblings, and a man entranced by two women--the young, despondent one he loves and the old, mind-controlling talker who got him stuck in the first place.  There were some pieces that I couldn't care less about, but the ones I loved I really loved.

Saints and Strangers

Saints and Strangers by Angela Carter
Weight: 3 oz
Method of Disposal: Leaving Somewhere

My grandmother gave me this on her 80th birthday in October 2013.  She was surprised that I had not heard of Angela Carter, and almost appalled that Harriet had not, being from England and all.  I just now read it, and I was very impressed.  My mother walked by while we were discussing the book and put in her two cents that it was horrible.  Lovely writing, but the stories would just make you feel terrible.  They were both right, but I loved it.  I was shocked and slightly embarrassed to realize how well-known and respected Angela Carter is.  A quick Google search and you find that Time magazine considered her one of the 50 greatest British writers in 2008.  I am absolutely going to be seeking out her other work.

After finishing her book, I was feeling down and decided to begin working on a realistic long-distance love letter.  Here is the start of it:

I stare at the body under my sheets.  It is blanketed in a thick, dark layer of fur.  A physical reminder of how long you have been gone.  It is dreary and self-important to think of oneself like a tree whose rings announce its age to the world, but I do.  My hair says you have been gone for months, and my general malaise says there is no end in sight. I take the razor slowly and clumsily to my skin.  It does not matter if I get it all or if it looks organized.  I have time.  I secretly hope it will speed things along, but then I realize that you left me at the coldest time of the year, and I have removed my coat for you but you are not here to accept it, and I am cold.

The water is cold.  I dry myself off with a towel, check the fire and miss you.  I get into bed and slide towards the middle.  My dogs’ weight and the age of the mattress creating a rut that is just big enough to be uncomfortable.  I lay on 15 years of dead skin cells collected from ex-lovers, old pets, and dear friends.  If you cut my mattress in half could you map out my life until now?  We could take little tacks and tiny scraps of paper.  Organize it by number.  The single digits being the deepest and driest, and the double digits being more recent and fragrant.

All of this makes me want a cigachantichocolate.  I want chocolate.  Or do I want a cigarette? 21 long days for a 22 year old woman that makes my heart as pretty as my matching shower curtain and the candles that are “just for decoration.”  I never knew that I was supposed to choose them for color over scent.  The things you learn when you trail behind the world’s most beautiful woman with your legs shaved, your panties wet, and your mind focused on reorganizing your life philosophy developed over 28 years.

All this paints a fairly unattractive portrait of what it feels like to love 4,033 miles away from you.

My incredibly sweet grandfather on my father's side always asks if I have written anything lately and wants to read it.  Should I show him this?  And, just to clear things up, I ordered a new mattress immediately after writing this.  I shouldn't even show you this...

I cannot tell you how relieved I was to see it being toted away in a giant plastic bag this afternoon.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Monica's Story

Monica's Story by Andrew Morton
Weight: 1.2 lbs
Method of Disposal: Leaving Somewhere

Do you remember the Monica Lewinsky debacle?  Anyone old enough probably cannot forget if they want to.  What a strange, absurd thing.  I bought this book when I was in eight grade.  My girlfriend at the time really liked Monica and told me I should read it.  I decided I would.  Her story felt like slut-shaming to me.  What did she do to deserve so much scorn?  I bought it partially to hear her side, partially to impress my girlfriend, and partially to throw money Monica's way.  After all the public embarrassment and nastiness being slung about her, I really did not care if she got "rich" of it.  Nowadays, I am just not interested in keeping the book, rereading it, or really thinking about Monica Lewinsky.  I wish her and everyone else involved the best regardless of anyone's actions.

A Trade Off

The Politics of Social Service by Jeffry H. Galper 1975
The Sixteenth Century Journal Vol XXXIII, No. 3 Fall 2002
Weight: 3 lbs
Method of Disposal: Leaving Somewhere

A volunteer brought me two books about dogs today, and they look awesome!  It is not my fault and, anyway, it would have been rude to turn them down, right?  I will get rid of two other books in order to make room for the two new ones.  They are far more up my alley anyway.

I wish I knew when and if and who will end up with The Politics of Social Service.  I would like to know what they think about it 39 years later.  We may never know though...