i want

…a reading nook, please.


a conversation guide

Remember when you were in eight grade and waiting for a boy you liked to call you, and you you were so nervous that you made a list of things to talk about, “just in case?” No?

Maybe that was just me.

According to the world’s manners expert, Miss Emily Post…

“IDEAL conversation should be a matter of equal give and take, but too often it is all “take.” The voluble talker—or chatterer—rides his own hobby straight through the hours without giving anyone else, who might also like to say something, a chance to do other than exhaustedly await the turn that never comes. Once in a while—a very long while—one meets a brilliant person whose talk is a delight; or still more rarely a wit who manipulates every ordinary topic with the agility of a sleight-of-hand performer, to the ever increasing rapture of his listeners.”

That makes my head hurt.

I’m fortunate to have a wonderful group of girlfriends with no shortage of things to discuss. We’ve successfully maintained our ‘book club’ cover in order to get together monthly to drink wine. Recent conversations have been especially entertaining, and really spanned the spectrum of topics:

  1. The traumatic deaths of childhood pets. Cats in sofa beds, need I say more?
  2. Creepy vs. cute maternity pictures. Why would Yoda be involved in the shoot…
  3. Why foot cramps turn you into an evil clawed beast.
  4. The science of baking. How, no really how, do the same ingredients turn into so many different things?
  5. Which is more important to carry at all times, Smart Water or tactical pepper spray? And does the risk of pepper spraying yourself in the face outweigh the intended benefits?
  6. What does the Victoria’s Secret PINK line really mean? Regardless, it’s offensive.
  7. What are the best ways to avoid being killed while jogging or biking?
  8. The shame in tripping and falling flat on your face. We’ve all done it. And still do it. And sometimes we cry when it happens.

mustache monday

Admit it. You read the title of this post and thought it was about something inappropriate.

How wrong you were. This is a post about girls eating tacos and wearing mustaches, just a typical Monday evening.

Ever seen a taco with a mustache? They’re as rare as unicorns.

But wait…A Choco-Taco with a mustache? Too much, isn’t it?
Cheers to eating frozen chocolate tacos with birthday candles! Life is short – stuff like this is important.

…And somehow the dogs inserted themselves into the fun. I am such a creeper.

I love my life.

book (wine) club

I love that book club with my girlfriends translates to wine night without boys. We do actually all read the same book each month, but we don’t spend more than two minutes discussing it. How could we, there are so many other things to talk about. Like…burglars, coupons, weddings, work, furniture, health, movies…

I also love that our better halves are fully aware that we aren’t actually book nerds, but allow us to act like we are in order to continue these evenings of eating and drinking our faces off without distractions.

For those of you who are interested in what we’re pretending to read reading, here’s a list of recent books:

This month: The Hunger Games  – all three in the series. They may be written for 14-year olds, but they’re entertaining as hell and I cannot wait for the movie. Thank you Anna for introducing me to these!)

Next month: Room – I am very excited to start this one – and hope it’s less disturbing than A Stolen Life – which I read over someone’s shoulder on their iPad on a recent flight. Yes, really.

Coming up: Unbroken – already bought it – and have heard from lots of people that it’s ‘the best book they’ve ever read.’ Pressure’s on…

summer reading list

One of my favorite parts of other peoples blogs is getting recommendations for great books. I read obsessively, but am picky – so I’m always eager to find firsthand reviews.

If I had to pick a book to recommend to someone it would take me forever, I could never choose. But here are a few good ones I’ve read in recent years and can vouch for with certainty. The descriptions are courtesy of Amazon.

1. Loving FrankHoran’s ambitious first novel is a fictionalization of the life of Mamah Borthwick Cheney, best known as the woman who wrecked Frank Lloyd Wright’s first marriage. Despite the title, this is not a romance, but a portrayal of an independent, educated woman at odds with the restrictions of the early 20th century.
2. I Know this Much is TrueWhat if you were a 40-year-old housepainter, horrifically abused, emotionally unavailable, and your identical twin was a paranoid schizophrenic who believed in public self-mutilation? You’d either be a guest on the Jerry Springer Show or Dominick Birdsey, the antihero, narrator, and bad-juju magnet of I Know This Much Is True.
3. The Art of Racing in the RainIf you’ve ever wondered what your dog is thinking, Stein’s third novel offers an answer. Enzo is a lab terrier mix plucked from a farm outside Seattle to ride shotgun with race car driver Denny Swift as he pursues success on the track and off.
4. Middlesex“I was born twice: first, as a baby girl, on a remarkably smogless Detroit day in January of 1960; and then again, as a teenage boy, in an emergency room near Petoskey, Michigan, in August of 1974.” And so begins Middlesex, the mesmerizing saga of a near-mythic Greek American family and the “roller-coaster ride of a single gene through time.”
5. A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering GeniusBut on to the true story. At the age of 22, Eggers became both an orphan and a “single mother” when his parents died within five months of one another of unrelated cancers. In the ensuing sibling division of labor, Dave is appointed unofficial guardian of his 8-year-old brother, Christopher.
6. Living Biblically – Jacobs, a New York Jewish agnostic, decides to follow the laws and rules of the Bible, beginning with the Old Testament, for one year.
7. BlinkBlink is about the first two seconds of looking–the decisive glance that knows in an instant. Gladwell, the best-selling author of The Tipping Point, campaigns for snap judgments and mind reading with a gift for translating research into splendid storytelling.
8. Moloka’iCompellingly original in its conceit, Brennert’s sweeping debut novel tracks the grim struggle of a Hawaiian woman who contracts leprosy as a child in Honolulu during the 1890s and is deported to the island of Moloka’i, where she grows to adulthood at the quarantined settlement of Kalaupapa.
9. The Book ThiefDeath himself narrates the World War II-era story of Liesel Meminger from the time she is taken, at age nine, to live in Molching, Germany, with a foster family in a working-class neighborhood of tough kids, acid-tongued mothers, and loving fathers who earn their living by the work of their hands. The child arrives having just stolen her first book–although she has not yet learned how to read–and her foster father uses it, The Gravediggers Handbook, to lull her to sleep when shes roused by regular nightmares about her younger brothers death.
10. My Sister’s KeeperThe difficult choices a family must make when a child is diagnosed with a serious disease are explored with pathos and understanding in this 11th novel by Picoult. The author, who has taken on such controversial subjects as euthanasia, teen suicide and sterilization laws, turns her gaze on genetic planning, the prospect of creating babies for health purposes and the ethical and moral fallout that results.

dead mouse walking

You may recall that just a few weeks ago we had a teensy tiny issue with a stinky dead rodent in our attic. It was pretty disgusting and not something I hope to experience ever again.

I thought we might be in the clear, but yesterday we learned that we are apparently rodent magnets.

Let me set the scene:

I got home from work amid a huge downpour. It had rained all day – a rarity in the desert – and it was all I could do to get home, in heels, without landing on my face.

I hopped on the elliptical and got a workout in before I had to head to my neighborhood book club. As I got off the machine I saw something small and dark scurry down the hallway. Within ten seconds of witnessing this I had four simultaneous thoughts:

1. As much as I hate cockroaches I really hope that was a roach and not a mouse.
2. Did I completely imagine that?
3. If I ignore it, does it make it go away?
4. Can the dogs fix this?

At any rate, I made a swift leap onto the safety of my bed (reminiscent of the hot lava monster game of childhood when you couldn’t touch the floor) and called Jim in a panic.

In hindsight, I can’t blame him for laughing at me, but in that moment I needed someone to be as hysterical as I was. A MOUSE. In our house. A MOUSE! Fievel, Mickey, Mighty MOUSE.

As luck would have it Jim couldn’t leave work to save me, so I called my next lifeline, Zoee. I immediately announced to my favorite realtor that it was time for me to move. I could not possibly live in a house with mice. Zoee also found my situation purely hysterical, but agreed to come to my aid despite torrential rain.

My heart rate had now been raised to cardiac arrest level for about 10 minutes. I could’ve lifted a car with all that adrenaline.

Zoee arrived and with the courage of a valiant knight surveyed the house for a mouse (found none) and blocked all the doors with towels to keep the little bastards confined.

At this point I was more than ready to vacate the premises and head to book club. I enjoyed a wonderful evening with some fabulous ladies despite a lack of electricity. Fortunately Emily keeps a large stash of candles and wine on hand.
What’s also fortunate is that Jim doesn’t seem to possess one ounce of my rodent fear. He’s been a trooper setting traps and ‘removing the goods.’ We’ve caught three mice so far and are continuing our efforts with a vengeance. Stuff like this definitely makes me miss the days of renting and having a landlord who was obligated to fix everything. On the other hand, I suppose one day this will be funny. When that day comes I’ll be sure to let you know.

Did I mention that the roof started leaking during all of this? Right.

book worm

Tonight I was at my neighborhood book club. Let me fend off sounding like a complete nerd by explaining that this is a monthly opportunity to gather with neighborhood women, eat delicious food, have a fair amount of wine, and maybe (just maybe) talk about a book for a few minutes. We all have good intentions to read the books, but sometimes life gets in the way. At any rate, it’s fabulous company that I look forward to each month.

There’s something about being surrounded by different generations of women that really feeds the soul.

I’ve always loved reading, and it’s interesting to have a generally solitary activity morph into a boisterous social event. We have no theme for the books we choose; it’s merely the thread that laces together our gatherings.

In case anyone’s looking for some good reads, here are our latest picks:

1. The Book Thief

2. The Wednesday Sisters

3. The Great Gatsby

4. Julie and Julie

5. The Keeper

I enjoyed them all, minus # 2, and haven’t started # 5.