February Wrap Up

So, about that Happiness Project?  How is that working out?

Honestly, I am a lot, a lot happier than I was last year.  Two months into my project, I have paid off a burdensome debt, ordered a year’s worth of contacts, almost replenished my emergency fund, lost 5 lbs, eaten some great food, and am feeling all around more stable.  My tax refund really, really helped this year.  I feel like I could be a lot better off by the end of the year.

February was great.  Part of it was that I scrapped all trackable goals and just tried to eat better, eat things I actually wanted, and cook a little more.  Mission accomplished.  (Cheeseburger pie.  Effing delicious.)  I’ve even worked a lot harder on using up my leftovers.  I’ve thrown out less food and I’ve bought less food, which has helped me to stay on budget.  Staying on budget with the groceries means that I have more money to get myself treats, like that veggie grinder I had this week.  I am a firm believer in the fact that you can have what you want, you just have to make room for it.  That’s what eating is like.  Can I have a 700 calories sandwich?  Totally, but I’m going to have to have a very light dinner.

Tonight we may be going out for some prime rib.  Eff yeah.

What do we have to look forward to for March?  Loving home.  More on that this weekend.

Looking for Alaska by John Green

This is my second time reading Looking for Alaska.  The first time I read it, perhaps eight years ago now, I was in a completely different place in my life and since then I have suggested it to just about every teen that walks into the library and looks mildly confused about where to start.  I Loved it, capital “L.”  I raved about it.  I meant to read more John Green and I really, really meant to but I didn’t actually get around to it until The Great Book Requesting of February when I ordered 12 books in one sitting, including all of the John Green.  The last couple of books I picked up got tossed the wayside pretty quickly and I had a feeling that this reread would to.

But I was wrong.

Holy geez, this is still a great book!  At one point, I looked up at my husband and said, “God.  I just wish you would read this.”  It’s exactly like that, the kind of book that is so good that you want everyone you love to read it so that you can talk about it together.

Miles is the kind of kid who sticks to himself.  He has what he calls “school friends” but isn’t close to anyone.  He entertains himself with reading his father’s collection of biographies, with a particular interest in final words.  His junior year he goes away to Culver Creek, the boarding school his father attended as a boy, in search of “the great perhaps.”  Boy, does he find it.  At Culver Creek, Miles instantly falls in with his new roommate, known as the Colonial, and takes on the new nickname Pudge (because he is so lanky).  Soon he is surrounded by friends, the kind of friends that every nerd dreams of.  They are smart and funny and a blast to be around, constantly into something (usually Strawberry Hill Boonsfarm, a personal favorite from my high school years).  At the center of it all, at least for Pudge, is Alaska, a girl unlike any whom Pudge has come in contact with before.  She is smart and funny and easy to talk to, but also unpredictable and moody.  Pudge falls for her.

Then Alaska dies on the highway, driving drunk to some unknown destination on some unknown errand that Pudge and the Colonial helped her escape to, and Pudge and the Colonial are ripped apart by grief and guilt.  Suddenly it becomes clear how little they knew of Alaska and they set about on the quest to find out what her last moments held.

This is a funny and touching, serious and silly read.  For the love of God, just go read it.

Random Updates Plus Monies

Eating more real food this month has been great.  However, what has turned out to be even better is the monies this month.  Due to a number of circumstances, such as awesome parents and tax refunds, January’s challenge is actually working out for me this month.  A couple of months ago, my parents lent my brother some money for a deposit on a house.  He recently paid the money back and they decided that it was only fair to lend me the money to attempt to take care of my most annoying bill, if the company would settle.  The company did settle and yesterday I paid off my most nagging and annoying debt.  Tax refunds have started to seep in and I also gave Hubby his half yesterday, minus some funds that he owed me.

A lot of people, mostly older people, are surprised by the fact that Hubby and I don’t necessarily share money but there are a number of reasons for that.  Hubby, for instance, only has an associate’s degree and has way way less student loan debt than I do.  His car payment is lower than mine.  Plus, and this is a big one, I don’t want to know how he’s spending his money and I don’t want him to know how I’m spending mine.  If he wants to take his half of the tax return and buy an xBox, he totally should without me judging him.  The same way that I want to take my half and build my emergency fun back up so that I can tackle paying off some more debt without worrying about things like tires.  Eventually we will share more and we already do but right now it just makes more sense not to.

Any way, other things have been going on.  Earlier this month I went to the eye doctor for the first time in 12 years!  That doesn’t mean much to you but to me it means that I was a hell of a lot blinder than I thought.  I wondered at how everything looked with my new glasses and then I got contacts.  Contacts!  I feel like an actual adult now!  What I have learned from the contact experience is that Left Eye is an asshole.  It’s always blinking the contact out while Right Eye just takes it.

I am working hard on all of my projects.  I should be able to review a book for you all later today and the house is clean and I am thinking about making cheeseburger pie for dinner.  Onward!

Rereading

Dear Readers, please, don’t judge me too harshly.

Obviously, I gave up on Fifty Shades and I explained that all to you guys.  Then I read a Gossip Girl novel.  I don’t review those books because they’re pretty much complete and utter brain candy.  I did sit up on the couch the other day and explain to my husband some of the crazy soap opera drama that was going on.  “OMG!  Nate is dating this townie with pear shaped boobs because he’s working on his coach’s house in the Hamptons because he stole his coach’s viagra and got busted.”  He was not amused.  Anyway, I finished up that book and reached for my next book: Seinfeld and Philosophy.  I’ve been listening the the Philosophize This podcast and really enjoying it so I checked this book out because I am all caught up on the podcast and need some amusing philosophy.  Then I decided I didn’t want to read it and I went for my next book.

Which is Twilight.  Let that sink in.

If I told you that I am a young adult librarian (actually my focus, not actually what I do), I think that it would be safe to assume that I have read this series.  You would be right.  I read it while I was working on my masters degree, which would have been about 5 years ago.  It was one of those books that was suggested to me 50 bazillion times and I gave in and read the whole series in two weeks while working 30 hours a week and maintaining my full time graduate degree workload and being a 50’s housewife.  Twilight (I’m not going to italicize it every time.  I’m lazy.) got a bad name pretty fast but I remember really enjoying the first couple of books.  I mean, I devoured these things in two weeks, which is impressive anyway because I’m a pretty slow reader, but also while I was reading text books and lectures and notes.

What happened?  Well, a couple of things.  First, I did have feminist issues with the book.  However, I now feel that those issues will fall to the wayside because they are nothing compared to the issues I had with FS.  You know what else?  I remember being really mad that Bella was “sacrificing herself for someone she loved” and now I realize that I had a double standard!  The second reason that Twilight got a bad name?  Kristen Stewart.  Enough said.  Finally, soon after reading the books I started dating a guy who hated the books and made fun of them constantly and I felt pressured to agree.

Sometimes I feel like rereading a book is a waste of time.  I only have so long to live and need to squeeze in every book that I can but sometimes… sometimes you just need to revisit. When I went on my crazy book requesting frenzy a couple of weeks ago, I decided that I wanted to reread the series because it had to be better than FS and also because I wanted to see how I really feel about it.  But I can honestly say that this is the first time that I’ve reread a book for these reasons.  Usually, it’s because I love the book and need to go back there.

How do you feel about rereading?

Peer Pressure and You

I read a lot of stuff about how important it is to say “no” and set boundaries and it’s something that I’ve really really been working on.  I hate telling people no because it makes me feel like I am letting them down.  Last month you may recall that I had an issue with going out to the bar.  I didn’t want to go.  I didn’t have the money to go.  My husband wasn’t comfortable with the whole thing.  I agonized about it until I made up my mind and said no and got on with things.  Saying no was freeing and I have used this scenario to remind myself that I have to do it sometimes.

Now, this weekend I have two parties to go to.  The first is tonight and is local and is the birthday party of one of my best friends.  The second is tomorrow night and is over an hour drive away and is also a birthday party for the same friend, though a surprise party.  It just seems like so much and I really only want to go to one.  I will tell you that this friend would be completely and honestly cool about it.  We have both always given each other a lot of space and freedom plus she is someone who fully approves of saying no and would totally do the same if the situation was flipped.  She is a dear heart and I adore her but I know that I won’t feel up to it tomorrow night, that I might even be a little resentful of not having a hubby night this weekend when I can just sit home and drink and play games in my pajamas and glasses.  This is also something that she would totally get.

Finally, last night, I decided that I would only go to the party this evening.  I wrote the Bestie and she assured me that this was totally alright.  If the bestie doesn’t yell at me, I know I’m probably in the clear.  I went home, feeling relieved, and told Hubby my decision.  Hubby smacked it down without hesitation.  We are apparently going to both.

Now I am locked in this debate.  See, I have already come to the conclusion that I am okay with going to only one party and that I don’t want to go to a party over an hour away.  I would rather give the friend one night of my completely into partying than two halfsies nights.  On the other hand, I don’t want to tamper with Hubby’s moral compass.  Part of me suspects that tomorrow will be different and he will wake up with an unwillingness to go but that also won’t work for me.  In the world of divvying up who gets to drink when, I have given him tonight because I don’t want to drive tomorrow.  But I also gave him my last turn and don’t want to end up not drinking with my best friend on her birthday.  Gah.  I don’t know.  I guess sometimes you just have to go with the flow.  That’s something else I need to work on.

Miss Rachael on Reading Fifty Shades

When Fifty Shades was really really big still, I made my first attempt at reading it.  I had to.  It’s one of the hazards of being a librarian.  When something gets huge, patrons will tell you over and over again that you need to read it.  Then there are the people in your private life that read and I find that it takes only one or two of them to suggest a book on top of the 50 patrons to push me over the edge.  This is why I started reading Harry Potter (awesome) and also why I read Twilight (eh).  Most of the time I find that these suggestions don’t actually work for me.  Most of them I don’t make it through.  So, I was not at all surprised when I made it 10 pages in, decided it was trash and Christian Grey was a complete tool and Ana was an idiot, and I tossed the book in the return bin at work and went on with my life, satisfied with my decision.

What made me try again?  Well, earlier this month I read the parody, Fifty Shames of Earl Grey, and it was completely ridiculous but also just funny enough.  When I finished I went on a book ordering frenzy.  In one day I requested 12 books.  I got the Fifty Shades trilogy, the Twilight books, and every John Green book.  (I had to balance it out, you know.)  I decided to give FS a try again and I have an experiment in mind for Twilight.  And I just love John Green and have only read Looking for Alaska.

I was on the couch sick on Sunday and Monday and in those two days I managed and impressive 225 pages.  And then it sat there.  Last night I attempted to pick it up again but I only read one paragraph before closing the book and turning to Hubby.  “I think I might give up on this,” I said.  Hubby rolled his eyes and said, “Just return them.  I have never heard you bitch so much about a book and, frankly, I’m sick of hearing it.”  I went to my second main bitch, The Bestie, and she said that at this point I was “book raping” myself and it probably wasn’t worth it.

So, what happened?

Oh, God.  Well, to begin with, I knew that this was not a masterpiece of literature.  I knew the content, probably way better than my mother-in-law who suggested it to me a number of times because I grew up with the internet.  I knew what I was getting into.  But, BUT part of me kind of died while I was reading it.  It just felt wrong.  I didn’t actually want to read it and I knew that it wasn’t something I would enjoy.  I was trying to fit a square peg into a round hole and part of me knew that it wasn’t going to work.  I was embarrassed to be reading it.  I know I sound like a snob, but I felt above it to begin with.

And why wouldn’t I?  I may use a pretty damn informal style here and in my real life but I have my English degree and I spend a ton of time with books and I know shitty writing when I see it.  At one point, Ana is “shaken from her reverie” twice within the span of a page and a half.  She’s very reverent.  Never ever start a novel with descriptions of a character getting ready, but that’s exactly what we get along with a description of her looks.  BTW, I think we get a great glimpse of Ana on that first page.  She puts herself down constantly.  She’s always, “I’m so stupid!  My hair won’t do a thing!  Blah blah blah.”  No wonder she “falls under Christian’s spell.”  Girls like that are drawn to DB’s.  Then we find out she’s, like, gorgeous and guys are falling all over themselves to be with her and she’s like, “Kate is prettier!  Giggle!”  So, she falls into Grey’s office and he’s condescending and charming (a DB).  I hate him.  Any guy can tell you he finds you irresistible.  Whatever.  He’s a creep, get the hell over it.  Basically, I don’t care about these characters at all.  At all.  I’ll buy into Ana’s inner Goddess bs but when she talks about her subconscious, which is always stomping or screaming, I want to rip pages out.  If it’s that loud and insistent, it’s no long “sub.”  One more thing, I have a hard time trusting a girl who’s about to graduate college and has never “diddled around with herself,” as Hubby put it.  And she hates coffee and doesn’t understand the proper way to steep tea.  Boy, is she talented at picking up new skills too.  After losing her virginity she orgasms like 6 times in 24 hours or some crap.  She also just randomly decides to go for a run after never exercising one day in her life.

The whole thing, everything about it, felt just too contrived.  The supporting characters?  A rich girl and a very ethnically insulting guy.  Like, if I were Hispanic I would be effing insulted by Jose.  A couple of car girl things: Grey seems to only drive Audis (and helicopters).  Like, I’m a car girl and your expensive foreign piece doesn’t do it for me.  If a guy tried to impress me with an Audi, I’d laugh.  Ana drives a vintage Beetle, just so you know that she’s cute and innocent.  When she borrows her friend’s Mercedes, she calls it a Merc.  We all know, that means Mercury.  Grey listens to Brice Springsteen.  Is he trying to remind us about his hard knock life?

I was willing to look past the sub/dom story line and let that stuff be.  Okay.  Grey likes to be in charge and he’s got a fetish.  Whatever.  But, you know, the rest of the bullshit was just too much.  I couldn’t waste my time on it anymore.  I returned the books today and went back to reading Gossip Girl.  Believe it or not, it’s a bit more believable.

Self Attraction

Winter is always a hard time around here.  Today we broke 40 degrees and I actually had the mad thought that I could put the top down on my car.  That is what Michigan does to you.

But it does more than that.

The past couple of weeks I have been positively racked by doubt.  All kinds of things.  The feeling that everything is slipping from my grasp and there is nothing that I can do to stop it because I am just not enough.  My mind runs rampant and if I let it go unchecked where I see myself in a year or two is divorced, living in my parents’ basement with my cats, unemployed.  Of course, I am smart enough to look for patterns and after sorting through some old journal entries I found that this usually happens every year at this time.  Last year I was all, “Oh!  Why did he even propose!  We all know he’s just going to find someone better and run off and I’ll die alone!”  (BTW, I know for a fact that it’s never someone better than you.  Any situation like that makes it not possible.  Anywho.)  This year it’s all, “Boo hoo!  Hubby is slipping away from me because I can’t be perfect and do everything and I am so stupid and dull and I’ve let myself go!”  This is, of course, effing ridiculous.  Hubby is not slipping away from me.  Hubby has the winter blues too.  It happens.  When it warms up things get easier and better for everyone around here.  It’s called winter.  It sucks.

There was one year, that magical year of 2010/2011, when winter was not so wintery for me.  I was at one of those moments in my life when everything just clicked.  I remember smoking out the side door of my house, listening to the snow falling off my pine tress, and just grinning.  I had recently gotten my masters degree and bought my house and met my future husband and everything was so wonderful and I was feeling so happy and accomplished.

That doesn’t mean that I haven’t been thinking and what I have been thinking is this:  Maybe I have been worried too much about being a wife in the past few months instead of being me.  Maybe?  I’ll explain why I think this.  I think that a man marries a woman because he loves her and the woman has all of the preconceived notions of what is expected of her and changes.  So, for me, I have really actually been trying to be a stellar wife.  I’ve tried to be encouraging and supportive, to keep the house clean and the laundry done, to bring home little treats and cook his favorite meals.  But I get the suspicion that he doesn’t care about all of these things as much as I think that he does and that all I am actually doing is driving myself nuts.  I’m running myself into the ground and then I get upset because HE doesn’t seem to notice all that I am doing for him because really he doesn’t actually care that I picked up his socks.  He doesn’t.  He never has.  He’s just that kind of guy.  Being married to me hasn’t made him domineering.  It hasn’t made him chauvinistic.  He’s just gone right the fuck on with his thing, like any sane person would.  It is my honest belief that it is easy to get sucked into thinking about yourself in comparison to society’s ideal of women.  And that’s not fair.  And that’s not a way to live.

Feeling particularly frustrated with my life the other day, I assigned myself the task of making a list of things that I always wanted to do and never really got around to.  Like, that banjo.  A couple of days later I came across a podcast that was titled “Sex Appeal vs Self Appeal.”  I listened but I didn’t need to.  The title of the episode was enough to get my brain going.  At one point I looked down and thought, “Why am I wearing this sweater?  This isn’t me.  I’m wearing it because I feel fat and it’s comfortable.  I never used to do this.”  It seems like a little thing but it sent me on a slippery slope of thought.  One thing led to another and I realized that I just have not been very true to myself for a while now.  I was busy and then I was blissful and then I was just going through the motions because I couldn’t slow down.  But I WANT to slow down.  I want to cultivate a life of joy, as cheesy as that sounds, and I know that I can.  I know that making myself happy is always the best route on things like this.  Experience tells me that pleasing yourself makes you more pleasing towards others.  I bet he would like it best if I just chilled the eff out and quit driving myself mad.

I am in a strange place right now.  I have a lot on my mind that I can’t talk about and, honestly, I am doing my best not to over think anything.  What I have to focus on is myself.  Right now, myself is looking forward to a night on the couch watching Ghost Hunters, which I have already told Hubby I need the TV for.