resolution

A Long December

I’m a few days late in writing this, but I suppose it’s better late than never.

This last year was mildly eventful, and my recap, once written out, looked like more than I remembered:

March
I turned 31.  I’m officially into my 30’s.  I think they should start digging a grave now…it’s all downhill from here 😦  When did I get so old?!

June
I quit my job at Yale, after 5 years.  It was bittersweet, and I’m lucky to still have friends there.  I miss them a lot.

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I started working for United Health, and moved to Dallas, Texas – the land of Pecan Lodge BBQ and Tacos y Mas.  You would not believe how attached you get to $1 crispy tacos until you don’t have them anymore.

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My parents sold the house I grew up in and moved to Florida.  They owned it for 26 years, and it’s where some of my best memories are.  It was really, really hard to see that Sold sign.

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My dad was diagnosed with lymphoma.  He’s undergoing treatment and is almost done, and will be moving back to Florida in March.
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September
I celebrated two weddings on opposite sides of the country:  One in RI, one in WY, on back to back weekends.  I also taught my mom how to take a selfie. #mistakesweknewweweremaking

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November
I packed up and moved to Washington.  We’ll see how it goes, but it’s really gorgeous when the sun is shining.

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This is the point in this blog entry where I usually write out my resolutions and lofty goals for the new year, instead of reflecting on how I did on last year’s stuff.  True to form, I am sure I failed at last year’s, and here are my lofty ones for this year:

I am going to blog more.  I promise.  I want to run a half marathon (my goals are getting more realistic).  I need to read more, and since I just found my Kindle, I will be able to.  I want to hike Mount Rainier and explore the national parks around me, and also eat my way through Vancouver, BC.

I have little challenges for myself for each month, like in January I need to run 100 miles, and in February I am going to try not to spend any money outside of bills and necessities.  Those will be fun, and anyone can do something for 30 days.

But my big, overarching resolution is to stay positive.  Surround myself only with people that are good for me, make me happy, and bring joy and kindness. I know it’s trite, but negativity is a poison and choosing to focus on the good is difficult – it’s something I know I need to work on.

Here is to a wonderful, happy, productive 2017 full of adventures and

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Damn the Torpedoes

You know, sometimes, I don’t know why,
But this old town just seems so hopeless.
I ain’t really sure, but it seems I remember the good times
Were just a little bit more in focus.

Normally, for my last post (or first post) of the year, I’d post the song Long December by the Counting Crows, and then recap the year’s events, and my resolutions for the coming twelve months.  This year, I decided to do something different.  I suppose I didn’t have resolutions per se, and I am not entirely sure I need to recap the whole year – in fact, I think if I did, I might want to go drink myself into oblivion and eat a whole cake.

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If I have to eat a cake, it might as well be this one….

 

If you just read this blog, you might think 2014 was a year full of fun – travel, books, racing, oh my!  I went to Madrid, Boston, New York City, Dallas.  I raced all over the country.  I read over twenty books.  I made new friends, visited old ones, and strengthened my relationships, despite hundreds of miles and oceans between us.

It looks like I had a great 2014.  But in reality, it was a really, really tough year.  I almost lost my mom – twice – to GI diseases.  The last bits of my marriage crumbled and ended in a very sad and difficult divorce that took eleven of the twelve months.  I couldn’t eat or sleep (still can’t sleep – working on the eating bit).  Work became so much more frustrating, and seemingly dead end, that I drove home in tears at least a few times a month.  Grad school screwed me over, I was not able to begin my Masters program, and I missed the races I had been looking forward to the most.  I was hospitalized for a week, and then admitted again for two days two months later for an emergency procedure (following the most excruciating diet I’ve ever been on), due to my own GI issues, which continue to plague me and are still of unknown origin.

This is the better graph - other 30-day periods are far worse.

This is the better graph – other 30-day periods are far worse.

I’d like to say, “Yes, I definitely learned something from all my trials and tribulations this year.  Yes, I am a stronger, smarter, and an overall better person from all of this.  Yes, I am viewing the year, despite all the hardship, as something put there so I can learn.”  And while all of that may be true, I also want to say, “Fuck you, 2014.”  Sure, I learned things.  I learned who is truly in my support network, and sadly, who is not (and sometimes, those people surprise you, and it really fucking hurts).  I learned about love, and loss, and what I really need from a relationship and from myself.  I learned that what you don’t say speaks far louder than what you do.  But looking back on the year, despite the lessons being important, I find myself asking, “Was it worth it?” Hmmmm……

Photo by Geoff Yen

Photo by Geoff Yen

I wholeheartedly believe that things happen for a reason, and I believe that the experiences you have and the choices you make shape who you are.  Heraclitus said, “No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it’s not the same river and he’s not the same man.”  But come on, 2014 – why did you have to be such a jerk?  I’m pretty sure I could have learned those lessons, made those choices, and been just as tormented health-wise without all the backstabbing, lying, stress, and missed hours of sleep.  I mean, come on 2014.  You sort of sucked.  And just when I thought I’d be seeing you out, that I’d seen the last of you, you rewarded me with an trip to the emergency room at 3 am on December 31.  Really?!

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I suppose that for the coming twelve months, I have lofty goals and ambitions, just like I always do.  I have the “read more, eat healthier, exercise more” things to fulfill, but I suppose there are other things I’d not thought about.  I’ve made changes to myself over the last year, that have bitten me in the ass, but have overall ended up better than worse.  I speak up and don’t let things bother me or fester for long.  I am trying to give more people a bigger benefit of the doubt, and taking them for who they are, instead of who I’d like them to be.  I also am trying to let things go and be more positive.  They aren’t easy things to do, but I figure I’ve got a long hard road ahead of me.  What’s a few more boulders in my path?

And who knows what will happen?  Maybe I’ll find a new job, maybe I’ll move to a new city, or find a new love.  Maybe I’ll even buy a new car.  The only thing I know  is that this year has to be better.

 

Revenge Is A Dish Best Served Cold

::deeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeep breath::

I wanted to not blog about this book, but I think it’s been bothering me for long enough, and I have had a sufficient amount of wine.

I might have underestimated how far I was in the book Revenge Wears Prada. I said 65%,  but it was more like 81%, which was my mistake. I finished the book that night, and I am now struggling to figure out how they’re going to make it into a successful movie.

Image courtesy of tumblr.com

CAUTION: SPOILERS AHEAD

I will be the first to say that a movie about a horrific boss, with designer clothes, is probably right up my alley. The book, however…..well, let’s just say I was less than impressed. So I’m not entirely sure why I thought the sequel would be better. If I follow the rules of sequels, the second one is always the worst* – just look at Indiana Jones and the original Star Wars! (Yes, I know those are trilogies, but something tells me that if we give it a few years, a third book will be in the works).

Primarily, I think the first-person narrative of the first book worked far better than the third-person POV of the second. For some reason, I believe Andy when she’s talking about herself. I find her a lot less believable when someone else is talking about her. Then, Emily, who hates Andy, suddenly decides to form a camaraderie with her? And then she decides to be her best friend? No. No, no, no. And Andy, who was so strong willed at the end of the first book, marries a guy she doesn’t trust, and allows his domineering mother and his complete disregard for her feelings because she thinks they can work through it, and the good times are better than the bad? Where the hell did strong Andy go? The one that told Miranda Priestly to fuck off?

Then, Emily sells their magazine out from under her, for millions of dollars. Emily might be haughty and full of disdain for those that shop at a normal mall (dammit!), but she wasn’t ever motivated by money. Prestige and free designer clothing? Sure. Money? No. Additionally, I don’t think Emily would ever try to turn her best friend’s husband against said friend…..mostly because she probably wouldn’t have friends.

Let’s be honest…does she really look like she’s the social type?
Image courtesy of crushable.com

Finally – I know there are asshole guys out there. And I know there are men that would completely ignore the woman they marry because of their father’s “legacy,” no matter how run into the ground said legacy is.  And perhaps there are men that would keep secrets about running into exes, or that would honor the “what happens at the bachelor party stays at the bachelor party.” But the idea that Andy, our heroine, would be seen with a guy like this, let alone marry him and then make excuse after excuse about his behavior? Sure, it’s the abused wife syndrome. But she’s supposed to be the strong protagonist that, after 10 years, knows herself, what she wants, and won’t put up with any more crap. And she sure as hell wouldn’t let her no-good husband name their daughter “Clementine.”

I think I was just so very disappointed with the second book in the series, I really don’t see myself trying any of the other books by Lauren Weisberger. Sure, it’s easy-to-read and a decent beach book, but I think she initially pulls you in (with the help of Anne Hathaway and Emily Blunt) in regards to character development, and then they fall flat on their face. I’d like to chase Harry Winston, or try to remember last night at the Chateau, but after my two experiences with Prada, I might stick to jewelry and hotels, instead of more chick lit.

 

 

*The only exception to this rule that I can think of is The Godfather trilogy, where the second one is by far the best of the series.

The Devil Wears…..

…..whatever she wants, really.

Image courtesy of gemm.com

A small disclaimer: I was going to write this review after reading the second installment, so they work as a whole unit, but I’m like 65% of the way through Book 2, and am really having trouble finishing it. 

My usual MO is to read the book before seeing the movie. because the book is always better. I didn’t know this was a book until after I saw it, which is unfortunate, because I loved this movie, and I loved it a LOT. There are quotable lines, there are absolutely amazing clothes, and who doesn’t love Meryl and Stanley?

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Add the New York City setting, Emily Blunt’s chic British redhead snark, and a hot guy in the form of Simon Baker. And really, when there are lines like “Cellulite is the main ingredient in corn chowder” and that Nigel is from Rhode Island….let’s be honest. This screams “ME!”

That being said, I was hoping the book would have a bit more into the world of Miranda Priestly. I suppose I don’t know exactly what I wanted, since the movie was so good, but I know I wanted…more. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve found myself more and more frustrated with youth, and though Andy is 23 in the book (and I am only 28), I found myself increasingly irritated with her attitude and approach to work. Let’s face it – we’ve all worked somewhere we had no interest in, and for a boss that seemed impossible at the time. The book, instead of a coherent story, seemed like a laundry list of a year’s worth of errands and demands from a boss who, while difficult, isn’t terrifically unreasonable – just curt and rude. And it’s not like the CEO of a hugely powerful corporation wouldn’t be the same way to his PA – that’s the entire point of the job!

Being that it is a book, I’m sure things were embellished from real life, and then even further embellished into the movie – but in the movie, they worked. In the book, the narrative was jumpy and the character development had far less depth than I would have expected. I did enjoy the delicious descriptions of the designer clothing and accessories, but I can see them for myself on Google – I don’t need a page and a half describing a Chanel jacket and Hermes bracelet or scarf.

Overall, I’m happy I read it because I have something to compare the movie to. While I wish I had followed my usual pattern of reading, then watching, it wasn’t a horrible beach read – if complaining about doing your job, no matter how stressful or ridiculous and unreasonable it seems – is your thing.

La Mappa dell’Inferno

Image courtesy of ohio.edu

The image above is by Renaissance artist Sandro Botticelli. It provides a foundation for Dan Brown’s book, Inferno, which I have just finished reading. I will try to write this without spoilers….

Deeeeeep breath…..And as a disclaimer, I was not aiming for a history lesson, or a factual account. I was aiming to be entertained. That being said, there were a few things with which I had major issues….

The Robert Langdon series as a whole is prettydecent – quite entertaining. They’re fast reads, fast paced, and have enough history and accuracy to be, well, entertaining. If you’re reading them for any sort of historical significance, you might want to try something by Stephen Ambrose instead. (You know, minus the plagiarism stuff….) They all follow the same basic storyline, and have some sort of Renaissance or culty tie. They’re all about secrets and fun stuff.  It’s kind of like the same sort of recipe Final Fantasy uses: The world is on the brink of X, and only you and your team can save it! I’m not knocking this recipe – I played most of the Final Fantasy games and loved every one. So I wasn’t horribly surprised, or put off, when this book ended up being: Handsome, rugged, famous, brilliant professor meets attractive, slender, inevitably brilliant female. They have an adventure, on the run, dealing with symbols and scavenger hunts across countries, and solve the mystery at the end. Yay!

That being said….I figured there were some historical inaccuracies, and linguistic ones as well. I didn’t think I’d be as annoyed by said linguistic ones as I was – that was surprising for me. The historical inaccuracies, ok. Take them or leave them. It’s like exposing holes in a movie plot. The linguistic ones, however….

Now, “symbology” isn’t a word. Most people know this. You’d think that after 4 books, you’d figure it out too. But no. Dan Brown continues to say Robert Langdon is a professor of Symbology. I believe the term he’s searching for is “iconography,” but don’t let semantics get to you – he’s a professor of symbols, and he’s world famous, so I suppose he can make up his area of expertise. I’m also pretty sure people that have read this book now believe it is a real word, and are searching for it in college catalogues. Ok, we’ll let that one slide, but we won’t be happy about it.

This one, however, really got to me. There were a good number of passages in Italian, and despite my outward appearance, I happen to be Italian. What’s more, I’m fluent. It’s like he used Google Translate to say things he wanted to, but in print they’re a little stiff and formal. Additonally, when he typed in said phrases, the English translation wasn’t really….right? And I know it’s nitpicky, but Dr. Sienna Brooks, the child prodigy with an IQ of 208 and a knack for languages and blending in as a native, should probably know that her Italian diction makes her stand out like a sore thumb.

There are lots of oddities that many other professors of art and art history, as well as history buffs have pointed out. These don’t bother me as much, but they’re a little off. Sienna doesn’ t know a plague mask, Robert misquotes lots of things, the entire painting on which the story revolves is much like, but worse than, Hieronymus Bosch’s Garden of Earthly Delights: You can’t see most things without a magnifying glass. On a more personal level, calling Manila the “gates of hell” seems a bit harsh – sex trafficking, attempted rape, and 6-hour traffic jams make it hell? Apparently they have never been to Africa.

Image courtesy of artinthepicture.com

Then, there are things about the entire franchise that irk me. (1) The girls are all super brilliant, but end up as damsels in distress. They can’t figure anything out themselves. They’re always troubled and Robert Langdon helps them somehow.  They also always seem to become inexplicably attracted to Langdon. (2) How many mysteries can there be, that one man can solve, that end up changing the course of history and shaking the very foundations of our spiritual beliefs? At least this one brought a lot of morality into it – could you ever conceive of doing what the villain wanted? But again, spirituality, morals, values….always the same sort of questions. (3) You already cast Tom Hanks. You keep referring to Robert Langdon as an “Indiana Jones” type, and because you made the mistake of choosing Tom Hanks over Harrison Ford (or a Harrison Ford type), now we’re stuck with a sort-of-lame, sort-of-passive, sort-of-boring “adventure” person, instead of someone handsome, adventurous, rugged…someone these brilliant girls could really be attracted to. Let’s face it: I have more faith that Robert Langdon is more like Sterling Archer than the guy from Castaway.

Image courtesy of 123people.com

I suppose, though, I read this book to be entertained. And I was thusly. I just won’t be referencing it for my next art history argument, or for my newest intellectual sex-symbol genius professor fantasy.