Month: February 2012

Month In Review: February

Let’s jump right into it because there’s something else I’d rather talk about ūüėČ

  1. Take better care of myself. ¬†Unlike last month, this month I can categorically say that I did take better care of myself. ¬†Did I do everything that I lumped into this rather vague resolution every day? ¬†No, but overall I did a better job than I normally do. ¬†For example, I ate much healthier than normal (except for last weekend) and I exercised more days than I didn’t (which is huge for me). ¬†Major props, Kristin, keep it up.
  2. Read every day. ¬†I didn’t have any room for improvement with this resolution, which is fine. ¬†The important thing was to continue the good work from January, which I did. ¬†I read three books this month and, unlike last month, I didn’t have to read two books concurrently to accomplish that. ¬†Fabulous job, Kristin.
  3. Blog every day. ¬†Again, this wasn’t about getting better in February as much as it was about keeping up the momentum from January. ¬†Although, technically I did improve in February because I blogged every single day this month. ¬†I know, I gave myself the Internet Blackout off, but I also really love gold stars. ¬†Excellent work, Kristin.
  4. Work on my house. ¬†This also showed improvement month over month. ¬†(Oh God, I sound like I’m writing a KRI [Key Risk Indicator] report or something.) ¬†I haven’t really done anything big (except maybe cleaning out my closet), but I have been doing little things here and there. ¬†I got rid of two bankers’ boxes worth of junk mail at a shredding event on Saturday. ¬†And I’ve been inspired to organize the loose papers sitting around my office the past two days. ¬†There’s still a lot to do, but my mom is always telling me that I just have to do a little bit every day, so I’m trusting her on that. ¬†Keep it up, Kristin.

No, I don’t really know why I started talking to myself at the end of each bullet point either. But you get the idea, I can give myself gold stars across the board for February, but there is still room for improvement in March (and beyond). ¬†All in all, though, I’m feeling pretty good about things.

Of course, that good feeling may largely be due to the “something else I’d rather talk about.” Namely, baseball (natch). ¬†I listened to a live baseball game today! ¬†And the Phillies were playing and everything! ¬†It was pretty glorious. ¬†The only way it would’ve been better was if it had been televised. ¬†Alas, it was not, but at least the FSU broadcast was carried online (which is not a thing that happens with MLB broadcasts, in fact, I’m pretty sure those can’t legally be streamed online). ¬†The Phillies won, but that wasn’t even the point. ¬†Baseball!

In other awesome baseball news, the MLB At Bat app finally came out today.  I was counting down the days.  (I know an app seems like a weird thing to impatiently await, but it is one of the best apps ever.)  And the best part is, the app is free this year.  And I get the awesome, game-streaming version of it for free because of my MLB.TV subscription.  I had no idea that At Bat would be free until a week ago; I was saving a $15 iTunes gift card specifically for it.  Now I have a $15 iTunes gift card to spend on something fun.  Hooray!

Until tomorrow.

The Land Of Wawa And TastyKakes Is Here?

I received confirmation over the weekend that the long-rumored Tampa Wawa Wawas will be built.  And soon.  Yay!  Right?

Well no, not really. ¬†According to the article they won’t be open for a year. ¬†A year!?!? ¬†In the best case scenario, I will be in the actual land of Wawa and TastyKakes a year from now. ¬†At which point I kind of won’t care about Tampa Wawas (and it’s all about me).

But it is really freaking awesome that Wawas will be built in Tampa (even if it’s totally lame that they chose to build in Orlando first). ¬†Someday I will be able to buy a damn TastyKake pie at a Wawa in Tampa. ¬†At least, I’d better be able to. ¬†Wawa will kind of be worthless here if it doesn’t offer soft pretzels and way more TastyKake varieties than are currently available here. ¬†(I’ve seen at least 10 different varieties of TastyKakes in stores in the past year, but no pies.)

As the article points out, Wawa food is really good. ¬†Wawa also used to be both my favorite gas station and my favorite place to tap MAC (as they say). ¬†But I’d be lying if I said that one of the major reasons I wanted Wawa to come to Tampa wasn’t the hope of TastyKakes and other food I can’t really get here.

And speaking of the article, allow me to complain about three small things. ¬†First of all, “cultlike followers?” ¬†I don’t appreciate that turn of phrase, especially coming from a paper that makes an annual habit of running exposes on an actual local “cult,” the Church of Scientology. ¬†Secondly, the article claims that Wawa is “named for a wild goose.” ¬†That sounds like the chain’s founder had a pet goose named “Wawa” and that’s not exactly correct. ¬†According to Wawa’s Website,¬†“‘Wawa’ is a Native American word for the Canada Goose that was found in the Delaware Valley, that’s why we use the goose on Wawa’s corporate logo.” ¬†Finally, who the hell calls convenience stores “C-stores?”

Wow, I got kind of rant-y considering that this is actually fantabulous news that I’m really excited about. ¬†The important thing is that Wawa is really coming to Tampa. ¬†Hooray!

Until tomorrow.

Meeting Miss Austen

My introduction to my favorite author was not what you would call auspicious. ¬†Far from it. The first time I held a Jane Austen novel in my hands it was a punishment. ¬†(Yes, there’s a story there.)

One day towards the end of school in seventh or eighth grade, my friends and I were being a little overly talky in English class. ¬†(For the record, it annoys me to no end that I can’t remember if it was seventh or eighth grade. ¬†I think it was seventh grade, but there’s no way I can prove it. ¬†The great tragedy of team teaching, at least as it was implemented in my middle school, is that I had the exact same teachers for two years. ¬†At the time I was stoked, because most of those teachers were awesome, but now that I’m 20 years removed from it it’s hard to pinpoint which grade a lot of things happened in.) ¬†I’m sure that Mrs. Geesey, our teacher, told us to bring it in and bring it down a couple of times and we pretty much ignored her. ¬†Eventually she walked over to the bookcase under the window and pulled out six books. ¬†She handed one book to each of us and said that we had to read 20 pages a night until the end of the (school) year. ¬†(I have absolutely no recollection of how we were supposed to prove to her that we did, though.) ¬†When I looked down I saw that I had¬†Pride and Prejudice in my hands.

I still have that copy of¬†Pride and Prejudice. ¬†I never felt the need to buy a different paperback copy. ¬†(Although someday I would like nice, hardcover editions of all six Austen novels.) ¬†Besides, seeing “Geesey” written on the first page serves as a nice reminder of the above story. ¬†Oh, and I’m pretty sure that I didn’t steal it. ¬†I think Mrs. Geesey told us to keep the books when she first gave them to us.

Now, I’ve already told you that Austen is my favorite author. ¬†Pride and Prejudice also happens to be one of my all-time favorite novels (not to mention my favorite Austen novel). ¬†You’re probably assuming that I became a devoted Janeite that summer. ¬†Unfortunately, you would be wrong. ¬†I stopped reading¬†Pride and Prejudice as soon as school was out. ¬†I was only at page 100 or so, about 20% of the way through the book, and I wasn’t really feeling it. ¬†It sat on my shelf until ninth grade, when I read it for an English assignment. ¬†The assignment was to select a book from the list provided by T. David (my high school English teacher), read it, and then be interviewed as one of the characters in the book. ¬†I chose¬†Pride and Prejudice simply because I already owned it (thanks, Mrs. Geesey). ¬†I’m sure I got an A on the assignment, but I still didn’t really like the book. ¬†I just didn’t get it.

I was in high school in the mid-90s. ¬†Movie adaptations of Austen novels were quite popular in the mid-90s, whether they were straightforward (Sense and Sensibility and¬†Emma) or updated (Clueless). ¬†I saw all three of those movies in the theater. ¬†I also read¬†Sense and Sensibility and¬†Emma before I saw their respective “straightforward” adaptations. ¬†I liked both novels more than¬†Pride and Prejudice.

I remember that when I bought¬†Emma, the cashier at Waldenbooks started telling me about this new book that she thought I would like if I enjoyed Austen. ¬†It was¬†Bridget Jones’ Diary. ¬†I didn’t buy¬†Bridget Jones at the time, but I did eventually and I loved it. ¬†Even if it took forever for me to make the connection to¬†Pride and Prejudice. ¬†I know that seems hard to believe, but I really didn’t get the story in¬†Pride and Prejudice. ¬†How could I have seen the parallels? ¬†And every time Bridget brought up¬†Pride and Prejudice I kind of tuned out. ¬†I just didn’t understand why Bridget (or anyone, for that matter) got all swoony about Mr. Darcy. ¬†I thought he was a huge jerk. ¬†I didn’t understand why Lizzy Bennet married him.

I think I completed my Austen collection in college. ¬†As much as I wanted to love Austen, I didn’t really like¬†Persuasion,¬†Northanger Abbey, or¬†Mansfield Park.

Even though I didn’t love¬†Pride and Prejudice, I wanted to see the movie adaptation starring Keira Knightley that came out in 2005. ¬†I ended up waiting to Netflix it. ¬†But that was it; I finally got it. ¬†I understood that Mr. Darcy was, in fact, a swoon-worthy romantic hero. ¬†I saw that Mr. Wickham was despicable. ¬†I immediately pulled Mrs. Geesey’s old copy off the shelf and this time I loved it. ¬†Once I understood the plot I was able to appreciate the book.

My success with¬†Pride and Prejudice inspired me to re-read the rest of Austen. ¬†That also went well. ¬†From that point on I had no qualms about calling Jane Austen my favorite author. ¬†I now read at least one Austen novel a year and I generally re-read all of them at least every three years. ¬†In case you’re interested, if I were to list the six Austen novels from most to least favorite, it would look like this:¬†Pride and Prejudice, Persuasion, Emma, Northanger Abbey, Sense and Sensibility and¬†Mansfield Park.

I may be a Janeite, but I am not a member of JASNA (the Jane Austen Society of North America). ¬†Not yet, anyway. ¬†Nor am I a purist, the kind to get my knickers in a twist about, well, any number of things, really. ¬†Purists derided the 2005¬†Pride and Prejudice, I love it. ¬†I know there are some who are aghast at the horror mash-ups that started with¬†Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. ¬†As soon as I heard about¬†Pride and Prejudice and Zombies I wanted to get my hands on it. ¬†And I loved it. ¬†I was so impressed with the way zombies were seamlessly blended in to the source material. ¬†I imagine there are those who dislike the ever-expanding array of sequels on the market, but I’ve read a bunch of them that I liked (from the obvious sequels like¬†Mr. Darcy’s Diary and¬†Death Comes to Pemberley to the novels about Janeites like¬†Austenland and¬†Jane Austen Ruined My Life).

Okay, I’m at almost 1,100 words, it’s time to stop. ¬†(Now you see why I kept putting this off.) ¬†And besides, I think you get the point. ¬†I love Jane Austen and I will forever be grateful to Mrs. Geesey for giving me¬†Pride and Prejudice instead of something else.

Until tomorrow.


Apparently ABC Family decided to combat the Oscars by playing movies that I know by heart (and very nearly line for line): Aladdin and Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl.¬† The weird thing is that just having the movies on is making me sleepy.¬† Which really sucks because it means I’m still not going to write the post about my favorite author.

Part of me really just wants to go to be right now (10:37 PM), but I have some homework to do.  Blech.  This is what happens when I put off doing my homework.

At least I’m not remotely tempted to watch the Oscars.¬† According¬†to Twitter I’m not missing anything.¬† Well, I missed Christian Bale presenting an award (in his actual voice, no less), and that’s a bummer.¬† But that’s it.

Until tomorrow.

Curses, Foiled Again

Earlier this week I considered this title for a blog post I composed in my head and never actually wrote.¬† But I don’t remember what the post would have been about anymore, I only remember that I was going to use this title.¬† Undoubtedly something more interesting came along.¬† Oh wait, I know.¬† A mere 24 hours after I wrote my epic blog post about Brand New and how they became my favorite band, including the clusterfudge that was the first time I saw them live at Bamboozle ’07, Brand New were added to this year’s Bamboozle line-up.¬† I was so excited because, you see, in my head the Bamboozle is always the first weekend of May and I’m actually going to be home the first weekend in May.¬† But no, this year’s Bamboozle is the third freaking weekend in May and I can’t go.¬† Boo!¬† But then I read this interview with Jesse Lacey in which he states that the band is “intent on getting music out” and felt much better.

S’anyways…¬† None of this Brand New stuff has anything to do with why I chose to use this title for this blog post.¬† I half-composed today’s intended blog post in my head over the past several days, but I have to put it off again.¬† The plan was to continue my reading autobiography.¬† But the plan was foiled.¬† By me.¬† After dinner I decided to get my daily reading in and picked up The Magician King.¬† And then didn’t put it down until it was finished.¬† When I picked it up there were over a hundred pages still to be read and I got too wrapped up in the story and couldn’t put it down.¬† Not that that’s a bad thing.¬† It just meant that I won’t get to write about discovering my favorite author until tomorrow (and even then I might decide to write about the Oscars instead).¬† C’est la vie.

Y’know, I’m actually impressed with how long this post is considering that I completely forgot about my blog until about 20 minutes ago.

Until tomorrow.

Betsy Ray & Tacy Kelly

Yesterday I mentioned a (chapter) book series that meant so much to me that it would get its own post.¬† It was the Betsy-Tacy series by Maud Hart Lovelace.¬† Someone gave me a beat up (which I always interpreted as loved), secondhand box set of the first six books in the series (Betsy-Tacy, Betsy-Tacy and Tib, Betsy and Tacy Go Over the Big Hill, Betsy and Tacy Go Downtown, Heaven to Betsy, and Betsy in Spite of Herself) when I was a kid and I still have them.¬† I’ve often wondered why the set didn’t include the last four books (Betsy Was a Junior, Betsy and Joe, Betsy and the Great World, and Betsy’s Wedding), but it didn’t.

Although they’re called Betsy-Tacy books, and Tacy is a key figure in all of them, it’s really Betsy’s story from the first word of the first page of the first book.¬† It’s a coming-of-age story, spread across 10 books, about a girl growing up in a small town in Minnesota at the turn of the 20th century.

I always felt a special connection to Betsy, from the gap between her front teeth (mine was eventually fixed through years of painful orthodontia) to her love of writing (though her goals were loftier than mine).¬† Unlike Betsy, however, I didn’t have a Joe Willard in high school.¬† And, special connection or not,¬†I can’t really explain why I still go back and re-read the entire series every few years.

Like I said, I was only given the first six books in the series.¬† For years, those were the only books I could get my hands on.¬† It didn’t matter where I looked, I couldn’t find any of the last four books.¬† They weren’t in the Oxford Public Library, they weren’t in any stores (and I went to Borders a lot when I was in high school).¬† I once found a copy of Betsy and the Great World at a library in Wilmington, DE before one of my trips abroad in high school.¬† You can bet I took it on the trip with me, and rejoiced at having found one of the four books I’d been looking for for years, but I was also bummed to be reading it out of order.¬† (As I recall, none of the other three books was listed in the library’s catalog, or else I would’ve kept trying my luck there.)

All was not lost, however.¬† I eventually found the last four books in the series when I was in college (sophomore year, I think).¬† Unsurprisingly, I loved them too.¬† Someday I would like to get a matching set of all 10 books, but in the meantime I’ll keep my mis-matched set.¬† Actually, I’d also like to eventually give all 10 books to each of my little cousins (technically my first cousins once removed), but I’m afraid that it will be hard to find the books.¬† And there’s no way I’m giving up my beloved copies, no matter how cute my little cousins are.

So there you have it.¬† Unlike all of the books I mentioned yesterday (with the exception of Little Women, which I am overdue to re-read), the Betsy-Tacy books are the only books I read in elementary school that I was still reading in high school (and beyond).¬† The Betsy-Tacy books are definitely comfort food for me, though I don’t only reach for them when I am sick or stressed.¬† In fact, the last time I read any of them was last year when I had a random urge to read Betsy’s Wedding.¬† Good times.

Until tomorrow.

Chapter Books

Y’know, when I wrote Monday’s post my intention was to do at least a week straight of reading autobiography posts. ¬†But then the conference call from hell happened and then it was Ash Wednesday and those seemed like more pressing blog post topics. ¬†But I’m back on track today. ¬†Hooray!

Today I’m going to talk about some of the chapter books that meant a lot to me when I was little. ¬†I know I said this on Monday, but man, do you remember how big of a deal it was to read chapter books? ¬†Chapter books were awesome because a) they were so much longer than the books you used to read and b) there were hardly any pictures – it was just page after page (and chapter of chapter) of words. ¬†Just words. ¬†And you could read them. ¬†It was amazing.

Side note: Does anyone remember when they stopped referring to chapter books as “chapter books?” ¬†I don’t (and not because I still use that phrase).

Some of the first chapter books I was really into were mysteries, especially Nancy Drew books. ¬†I devoured every Nancy Drew book I could get my hands on, from the original run to the new books “Carolyn Keene” kept on churning out in the 80s. ¬†I used to have a couple of box sets of new Nancy Drew books that featured our heroine in totally rad 80s looks (complete with big hair). ¬†I wish I still had those books. ¬†Okay, per Wikipedia the box sets I had were actually of the spin-off The Nancy Drew Files because I definitely had the book pictured here. ¬†But my very favorite Nancy Drew book was actually the second one,¬†The Hidden Staircase. ¬†Interestingly enough, I remember nothing about it now, but I know I read it more than once. ¬†I should check it out from the library some time.

Those Nancy Drew Files box sets weren’t the only book box sets I got as a kid. ¬†I had secondhand sets of all the Laura Ingalls Wilder books (which I don’t have anymore) and another series that means so much to me that it will get its own post (unsurprisingly, I still have those books).

I wasn’t only a fan of series that were given to me in large chunks, though. ¬†Nope, like every other girl I knew, I was a huge fan of¬†The Baby-sitters Club. ¬†I even had the movie on VHS. For the record, Mary Anne was my favorite member of the BSC. ¬†I also read some¬†Sweet Valley High books, but I was never that into them.

It’s funny, writing about¬†The Baby-sitters Club movie reminded me that I received that movie and the 1994¬†Little Women for Christmas one year. ¬†Little Women is another book that meant a lot to me growing up. ¬†In fact, I loved all of Louisa May Alcott’s books about the March family:¬†Little Women,¬†Little Men, and¬†Jo’s Boys. ¬†The 1994 movie also meant a lot to me growing up and not just because it made Christian Bale my favorite actor. ¬†(He remains my favorite actor to this day.)

Okay, I think I’ve hit the high points (including some important books I’d completely forgotten about). ¬†These were the books I was reading a lot in elementary school, with one exception. ¬†But that exception is a subject for another day.

Until tomorrow.

Ashes To Ashes

It’s Ash Wednesday. ¬†Or, as I like to think of it, one of several days a year when the Catholic Church exhorts me to be a vegetarian. ¬†And don’t tell me that the Church would be perfectly happy if I ate fish; I wouldn’t be happy. ¬†I don’t eat fish or pretty much anything that lives in water. ¬†(The one exception is a crab cake sandwich at a greasy spoon in Wilmington, DE that only serves their crab cakes one day a week: Friday. ¬†Apparently the Charcoal Pit doesn’t accept Vatican II or something. ¬†Regardless, the crab cakes are mostly bread crumbs¬†and they’re deep-fried, so it barely counts.)

Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of Lent and is also a holy day of obligation. ¬†Did I go to Mass? Oh, God, no. ¬†I try to avoid going to Mass whenever possible. ¬†Plus, there’s the whole thing where I really hate Easter and Lent and all of it. ¬†Easter depresses the hell out of me. ¬†I know the whole Christ died for our sins thing is supposed to be a happy (or maybe uplifting or inspirational) thought, but I just find it dead depressing. ¬†And I have for years. ¬†I used to go outside when my parents played the soundtrack to¬†Jesus Christ Superstar.

One of the big Lenten observances besides the be a vegetarian thing is to give something up. ¬†Even though I’ve long been aware that I dislike Easter, I still give something up every year. ¬†It appeals to my (self-diagnosed) martyr complex.

So what did I give up for Lent this year? ¬†Two things. ¬†First, I gave up swearing, which I’ve given up every year since my freshman year in college. ¬†Over a decade of experience has taught me that it’s doomed to failure (and I swore at least five times today), but I like the challenge of it. ¬†Every year it goes the same way: first I catch myself swearing too late and admonish myself and then eventually I start catching myself before I swear. ¬†But even when I get to the catching myself before I say a dirty word part I can’t really say that I don’t swear. ¬†I’m still swearing, just not using dirty words. ¬†I feel like saying “son of a bee sting” isn’t really not swearing, it’s just swearing more creatively. ¬†The funny thing is that my mom is never that enthused that I’m giving up swearing for Lent. ¬†I think it bums her out that I swear so much that I feel like it’s a good thing to give up (and that I go right back to swearing after Easter).

Most years, the other thing I give up for Lent is eating sweets. ¬†But this year that would preclude me from having my fastnachts until Easter and there’s no way I’d be cool with that. ¬†So I’m giving up using the snooze button on my alarm clock. ¬†I saw somebody on Twitter say he was giving that up and it seemed like a great idea, especially since I was already thinking about wanting to kick that particular habit. ¬†Now, on those mornings when I hit snooze I can give myself a double guilt trip. ¬†Hooray!

Until tomorrow.

Conference Calls Are The Worst

I didn’t have my usual Tuesday night class tonight. Instead, we had online training for a piece of software that we need to use in our next homework assignment. The training was in the form of a conference call. I had forgotten how much they suck.

Of course, I don’t remember ever being on a conference call with so many people who were clearly conference call virgins. Apparently most people on the call had never heard of the mute button that’s on pretty much every phone now. And if your phone didn’t have a mute button, there was a way to mute your line through the conference software. I think what I found most annoying, though, was that the leader/teacher kept threatening to mute all the lines, but she never went through with it. Grr arrgh.

I’m glad I got that off my chest. I’m also glad that I’m watching Conan right now. I haven’t watched in ages and I kinda forgot how good it is. Not that I’m gonna start watching it regularly; I don’t have time for that sort of thing. But I am really glad that I remembered Fun. was gonna be on the show tonight. They were quite good. I noticed that the guitarist was wearing a Fun. t-shirt, but I’ll give him a pass because it’s a shirt I can support.

Until tomorrow.

Begin At The Beginning

When I started this blog last year, my mom suggested that I write my reading autobiography.  Apparently my aunt was assigned to write her reading autobiography in one of her classes to become a reading specialist and my mom always thought it was a cool idea.

I agree with my mom. ¬†It is a cool idea. ¬†Just because I’ve had this blog for nine months and never started the reading autobiography project doesn’t mean I don’t want to. ¬†In fact, today is the day I start it.

I’ve been thinking about this post all day and my intention is to, as the title says, begin at the beginning. ¬†The problem is, I don’t remember the books I really loved as a very young child. ¬†There are some, like¬†Pat the Bunny and¬†Cookie Monster and the Cookie Tree, that I know I liked, but I don’t remember liking them. ¬†It’s like, I know that 2-year-old me referred to my newborn brother as “my brother baby” because my aunt told me that story more than once, but I have absolutely no recollection of referring to him as “my brother baby.” ¬†Honestly, I don’t remember much of anything from my early childhood, so I guess it’s not surprising that I can’t remember specific books I loved.

There was a Mr. Rogers book, but I had completely forgotten about it until my mom found it in her closet and showed it to me. ¬†I know we had¬†Goodnight Moon, but I don’t remember it being a particular favorite of mine. ¬†And there were definitely some Richard Scarry books in the mix, but I don’t remember which ones. ¬†Oh, and Berenstain Bears. ¬†There were lots of Berenstain Bears books.

Even when I try to remember the books I used to learn to read (and the books I read when I first learned to read) I draw a blank.  I think my earliest book memories that really mean anything are of chapter books.  (Do you remember how big of a deal it was to read chapter books?)  But that is a subject for another day.

Until tomorrow.