Saturday, March 29, 2014

Appropriate title...

Hands down, Flynn is a good novelist. 

That being said, I can't say that I am a really big fan of her writing.  I have now read this one, as well as Gone Girl.  Both are well crafted thriller suspense novels.  I have grappled with my reactions to Flynn's writing and characters, and I think where I end up is that although these are truly good books for the genre, I find them really bleak, dark forays in to human psychology.  This is not a terrible thing, but I find that the absence of the redeeming, or of hope in a sense, makes these books not quite my cup of tea. 

I am not quite sure how to articulate this feeling, but these are not happy books to read.  The characters are definitely interesting, and everything comes together with some pretty amazing twists in the end... as I mentioned it is well written, but at the end of the day, it is a bit of an unsettling read.  I don't always need a knight in shining armor, or a happy ending, I just find these books to just not be completely satisfying as a result of the bleak darkness that the characters and tale tends to exude.  In a Tarantino kind of way, you could see this book as the adult characters ultimately catch their dues. 

Friday, March 28, 2014

specific measurable achievable relevant time-bound

Now this is the way that you describe time management and goal setting.

I intend to add more to this post.  Time will tell.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

A practical soul

If I had a lot of fun in my twenties, and my thirties were a blur between hockey, before kids, marriage, kids, house in short order, I think I am buried in the very practical years of my life in my early forties.  I planned a baby shower this week for a coworker, and as I wandered around a box store picking up items for our group gift, I could not get away from practical soul. 

I went for things like a curved laundry basket, crack cream (ok zinc oxide cream for diaper rash), lanolin, books, a sleep sack.. I realized that I am thinking to cover the basic needs.  The practical.  I didn't even blink an eye at the flash in the pan type items you can get for a baby girl.  I wasn't even tempted.  I am definitely a planner at this point, and I keep lists, and I recycle, and I have a budget, even if I can't always stick to it.

Ken gets to be the fun parent.  He makes the kids laugh, and he scares them all the time, he plays video games with them.  I feel like I am the one that gets to do the stuff in the background, and when that is done, if I have energy, then it is time to have some fun.  I still laugh, and my sense of humor is definitely twisted and healthy... but I am not always the merry making person.  I am worrying about the laundry, or the bills, avoiding the dishes, or wondering if it is time to roll over the kids clothes to the next size.  I have a hard time sitting still, and I am half on the hunt for my next project... which has been filled with the making of baby blankets and dishclothes so far this year. I don't think that I am not a fun parent, but I think I have to get all the practical stuff out of the way first - the cleaning and cooking, and then the chasing for brushing teeth and practise reading. 

Which comes back to my practical heart. 

I think another side project for this year will be balancing practical with moments of whimsy.

Like wearing my crazy neon coloured zebra print socks when I go for a jog.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

The writing is slightly better than it's competitor....

I can't say that this book is going to make my "top 10 reads of 2014" list anytime soon.  I picked this one up in our lunchroom out of curiosity since the "50 shades" has sparked off it's own cottage industry of similar novels.  This better writing, perhaps a little more plausible (fractionally in an impossible word) storyline, and still, fodder.

It really didn't take me long to blitz through this read, I don't think I will read the next ones in this series...

Not quite at a loss to say something profound about this book, but there isn't quite a lot to say.  If you are looking for some romantic escape, it is an average read and it does feel pretty predictable. I think I would return to a Nora Roberts, or even better, pick up another Sarah Addison Allen novel.  I think I am looking for a little more something in my reading... :)

Saturday, March 22, 2014

I really value individuality.

I am catching up on my bookclub reads, and now I am ready for our next meeting in April.  I had a really hard time getting in to this novel.  I have come to recognize that not only do I have a hard time getting in to short stories, I also have a hard time getting in to futuristic novels that are pretty bleak.

This novel did get better after a few chapters, and it is an interesting exploration in to how "sameness"and "uniformity" and avoidance of pain can lead to a very bleak and joyless society. 

I found there was a lot of lead time to when the "giver" and the "receiver" meet, and then everything unravels quickly towards the end of the novel.  There were a few loose ends for me, which was likely by design since it would spark some good discussions with tweens, but for me, it wasn't a truly satisfying read. 

I am very much an optimist, which is affirmed when I read novels like this.  I know I can look at the world through rose-coloured glasses, and I am kind of glad for it.  I do believe we all have choices when we get up in the morning.  We can choose to dwell on the negative and have a pity party, or we can dust ourselves off, and choose a different path.  The path that involves us being the best us we can be in the moment.  I am trying to be more.. more of what I am not always sure but I do want to try to do my best, and push myself a little harder to enrich our lives to the best of my ability.  When I read novels like this, I like to see the role of the group, but also how important we ALL are as unique individuals.  The highs and lows makes our lives worth living and gives us depth and character.  I think it is important to step out of our comfort zones, and ask ourselves some tough questions at times.  I find complacency and fundamentalism/closed off minds disconcerting and I hope to never find myself in that place.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Amazing, inspiring, or just crazy?

This was certainly an interesting choice for our book club last month.  I am only a few weeks behind in our reads, and well, last month we saw a movie, so I am in the clear :)  When I was a few chapters in, I asked one of my mates how they felt about it - she made the comment that she was amazed by the accomplishment, but certainly not inspired by her to do the same thing.  Over all the reads we have tackled over the years, some of the authors have created quite the response in all of us (not always the same response).  Some of the authors we all wanted to reach out and connect even remotely on FB, and others, you realize you don't even really want to meet them in person.  I think I went through a range of emotions as I read this book, and considered whether or not this is an inspiring tale, or an amazing one.  I would err on the side of amazing.  Yes, it is truly inspiring to read about any individual challenging themselves physically or intellectually, however, how she goes about it is truly ass-backwards.  There are moments of clarity in this book, and there are profound moments that could have been revealed that are dropped like bombs and then moved away from as quickly as possible in a slightly disconcerting way.
It is hard to reconcile parts of her life - the woman who could shoot heroin the day before she takes off on such a momentus hike and the humbled person whose hand reaches out to touch the Bridge of the Gods.  The person who struggled with being alone, and the one who sought out to undermine her first marriage.  It is also hard to grapple with how the family horse was so ungraciously 'put down', and then the quiet serenity in the woods when she sees a fox or a deer. 
It is a good book.  I thought of myself when my friend Kelz and I did a 120 km backwoods canoe circuit in northern BC.  We planned the whole thing out, had our supplies, and took a fair amount of care heading out.  Definitely a personal accomplishment, and you meet some amazing people along the way.  Ken and I hope to take the boys and do it in a few years.  I digress. 
Was I truly inspired by this book? Well, I was impressed at what she accomplished but I am not planning to trail blaze in her path, in her manner.  Then again, who would?  We are all on a personal journey of discovery and I look forward to talking about this book in our next meeting.  Cheryl completed most of the PCT as a woman on her own, with limited financial means, with very little training. She most certainly accomplished something to be proud of. I suspect it will be a lively discussion and I look forward to hearing everyone's opinions about this book.
I have come back to edit a few paragraphs of this post, since the end felt a bit rushed.
I reflected a bit more, and I do admire her honesty in this book.  To know your kids are going to read about some of your mistakes, and events in your life that you are not proud of is raw and leaving your self vulnerable.  She does leave herself open to criticsm (such as the points mentioned above), but there is also a kind of courage in writing a book like this and not omitting these kinds of details from the book itself. 
I know that writing this blog, there are parts that I do censor, even if it is from strangers. I choose the details that I want to reveal.  Laying everything on the table isn't easy, and in this book, there are parts that I wish she talked about more, but perhaps the starkness of some her revelations are also telling.  So, to go back to an earlier point, it will be an interesting book club.  At some point  in the future, I think that I will pick up Bryson's "A Walk in the Woods"... which is another backpacking novel.  I also think about what will be my next personal, physical challenge.  Will it be participating in a few 5km jogs (I really don't move fast enough for them to be called runs yet) this year or if it will be something else that I don't know is coming... I look forward to figuring it out.  I would like to get in some local hikes and just challenge myself.  I would also like to start canoeing again, and spend more times doing these kinds of things outdoors.

one thousand posts

It is hard to believe that when I started this thing many, many years ago that one day I would reach this milestone.  I can't quite call this a journal or a diary, and perhaps that is why the name "blog" fits.  It has been many things over the years, and currently it is mostly tracking the books I read and the thoughts that spontaneously burst in to my head.

I think it would be interesting to grab a picture of me back then when this started in 2005 (OMG) and how I look today.  When this started, I wasn't a mom.  I worked somewhere else.  Ken and I were in the beginning stages of our relationship.  Some of my friendships were different, I was in my thirties.  Now, I have two boys, married almost 8 years, and most definitely over my 40 year old self.  I still knit, I still love the outdoors, I am still slightly offbeat.  We moved, and now live in a community that I grew up in that I never thought I would see again, and it has worked out beautifully.

What a journey!

Here is a mighty cheers to a 1000 posts. 

I can't wait to see what the next decade will bring.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Beginnings and Endings

I only have two more "work" days before I return to my old job.

I think I have run the gamut of emotions when it comes to this, especially when I think about everything that has transpired over the last eighteen months.  The good, the bad, and the really UGLY.

This has been a great learning experience for me - the things I wanted to be able to put on my resume, I now can.  I am hoping that eventually this allows me to take the next step in my career, whatever that looks like.  It feels like it has been really hard won at times.  This has not been an easy time.  When I look back over 2013, it is a real blur of experiences.  It feels like a year that I almost wish I could have a do-over for.  In that same breath, it was an incredible learning experience too, both personally and professional.  I also turned 40. I would not go so far as to say I had a midlife crisis, but it was an anticlimatic year, and I kind of shake my head a bit when I reflect over how it evolved.

I think I was a little crispy around the edges from a bit of everything for most of the year.  I can't say that anything was truly terrible, not was anything absolutely amazing.  There were some great moments along the way (like our trip to Olympia). It was a year that just was, in my books.  I started some things that I think will pay off in the long run - kids are happier now in school and care, I am jogging, I am making some better food choices, and I am grabbing control back for our finances, trying to just have a bit better balance.  I know as I write this post I am drinking from the "half-full cup".  I do try to see the positive, and I choose to find the silver linings rather than dwell on the negative. 

I leave this position and return to my old position a little more open, and a little more ready for whatever is next.  Our kids are a little older.  I am also getting better sleeps.  The jogging also helps heaps, even if I don't always get out and hit the pavement.  That hour on the weekend when I just get out and go, is great for both my head and my body.  This is something I have learned to enjoy more than I ever thought I would.  It helps my coworkers are really looking forward to welcoming me back.  Being wanted changes everything.  I am keeping an eye out on the postings here.  I may be picky at what could be next, but I think that it is a healthy attitude to have.  To be open to making a change, or a leap of faith and see where it takes me.  I was not there a year ago.

Searching for a profound title for this post. Nope. Not coming up with one right now.

You know that point in a book where you realize it is time to just buckle down and finish reading it?  Some times this is a really positive thing - you can't wait to get to that last page because you are so involved and wrapped up in the plot you really need to know what happens next so you can get on with your life.  Some times you need to finish a book so you can move in a different way without putting your finger on the exact reason why.

For me, this book fell in to the second category.

French is a good writer, she crafts memorable characters and plots, however, there is a layer in her books that gets under my skin.  Kind of similar to Gillian Glynn's book (Gone Girl), there is a layer in the novel that is unsettling.  Not about the crime, or the detective work (I have read plenty of these at this point) involved, but in the overall portrayal of the characters.  I guess I would call it around hope, and positive feelings.  In this novel, the characters are richly drawn, and quite fallible, but there is an underlying feeling that things are just poised on the brink of falling apart, or thinking about Scorcher Kennedy, of losing total control.  I like Scorcher (the lead murder detective in this book), and I have cared about the other main characters in her novels.. but there is this element that I do find unsettling, that sits with me.  It just takes something away from the experience for me - that isn't there with an Inspector Banks novel, for example.