Archive for ‘Books’

December 29, 2012

Vampire Brain

Here is what has been going through my head since I got back from Christmas with the fam and started my last 6 days of “vacation”:

“I have to finish all of that work I didn’t get to before Christmas…no, I have to rest and rebuild my energy for the crazy 2013 ahead…no, I can’t relax with all of this work hanging over my head…..I have to get back on OK Cupid and find love…is it really worth my time to come up with witty banter to write to men who don’t reply?….I really wanted to read The 4-Hour Work Week on my vacation to figure out how to “work smarter” …I can’t read The 4-Hour Work Week until I get some work done..I really wish I hadn’t downloaded Bubble Bust to my IPad at by brother’s house….I really want to see Lincoln, Les Miserables, Silver Linings Playbook, Zero Dark Thirty, Django Unchained, and the Hobbit, but I like to go to the movies in the morning when it is not crowded and that is when I do my best thinking…I should get up really early, do some work, then go to the movies…no, I should sleep in, this is vacation!…I should blog more..but there is not enough time I can’t get focused to write anything interesting….”

Welcome to my brain….

This brain banter reminds of the vampire book I am reading called The Twelve (second in a trilogy that started with The Passage.) The government experiments with a virus to try to create super-soldiers and ends up creating twelve vampires from the criminals they were testing on. These are not the sexy, fashion forward vampires from True Blood or The Vampire Diaries. These are creepy monsters that kill most of the humans on the planet. They also create new vampires. The vampires created by the original twelve become part of a “tribe” that has no knowledge of who they are and have one thought, the vision of the murder or rape committed by their maker, that plays over and over in their head.

It’s kind of weird that my brain banter reminds me of these mindless, creepy vampires, right? I can’t explain it, except that the brain banter is annoying. Luckily, not as annoying as having a rape or murder repeating over and over in your mind. One of the many things I have to be grateful for.

I have clearly found some time for reading. (It is vacation!) The Twelve is long and hard to follow, especially on a Kindle where you can’t easily flip back to remind yourself of who is who and where you are in time (it jumps back and forth in time). You also have to remember what happened in The Passage which I mostly don’t because I read it three years ago, but I think I finally have it figured out and it is getting really good. I recommend it.

I have also made time for running, yoga, and meditation to maintain some balance and calm. It helps.

The (seemingly) cute, cool OK Cupid guy who said he wanted to chat, never called. I am not surprised. I have sent a couple more emails that have not been responded to. Good times. I carry on. (I have not emailed my rejectors for feedback. I am fairly certain I will not get a reply and decided I might just come off as creepy. I think I will just play it cool, like its no big deal. Which it isn’t.)

I am caught up on e-mails, the bills are paid, my excess cash is invested, my retirement funds are re-allocated, I reached level 11 of Bubble Bust, I watched The Gray (because James Badge Dale is in it and you know I love him. Spoiler alert: he dies in the first 30 minutes. The movie is not worth it.) and I still have a nice long to do list. I did manage to get out a blog post and I think I can officially say that I am more productive than a creepy vampire!

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July 7, 2012

Early Summer Round Up

Clearly, I am having a hard time keeping up with the blog. I just haven’t been super inspired to write lately. I thought I would pop in today to update you all on what I have been doing, entertainment wise, since the end of Entertainment Christmas.

I know you’ve been dying to know what I decided on entertainment dilemma #2 – should I watch this season of The Bachelorette? Things were getting a little sparse on my Tivo, so I caved. Emily seemed pretty boring, at first. She is beautiful, in that fake barbie doll way, but she didn’t seem to have much personality. I stuck with it and it got better.  Emily started showing some chutzpah! She is not afraid to let guys go or tell them off, but still displays the on camera tears to give us the impression that she has some heart. I am once again sucked in to the unrealistic romantic adventures of a fabulously dressed woman who has hot men professing their love for her after three dates as she gallivants around the world making out with all of them. Good times and so not like anyone’s real life.

On the flip side, I watched Downton Abbey Season 2 in one week. Loved it.  Also so unlike anyone’s real life. Now that I think of it, not the flip side at all. How DO I manage to keep up my 600 square foot apartment without a full staff? I struggle through zipping up my own dresses, pouring my own wine, and getting myself around town without a driver. I do dress for dinner, although usually in my PJs. The lesson here is that crazy drama can happen anywhere. Even in a house full of people who’s only purpose seems to be to keep up their own house and look good. (Kind of like the Real Housewives!)  Can’t wait to see what next season holds for the Crawley/Grantham’s (isn’t that confusing? why do they have two names?) Apparently Shirley McClaine will go head to head with Maggie Smith. Bring it on!

What else? Falling Skies is back. It’s getting better.  The aliens abducted Noah Wiley for three months and now he is back but we don’t know how he was impacted.  That’s a Sci Fi mystery. His son seems to be some kind of alien sleeper with super human strength. Hmm.. The group is now headed to Charleston where they hear there is hot water and government. Woo hoo!

I am drudging my way through book two of Fifty Shades of Gray. It’s OK, not great. I am curious to see what happens, with “Fifty” and Anastasia, I guess.  I mostly want to finish up book two so I can read Gone Girl, which I have heard is gripping. Andersen Cooper just finished it.  He loved it.  Then maybe I will come back to book three. Or maybe not.

I watched three flicks that I really liked in the past month: Extremely Loud Incredibly Close (which had me sobbing), War Horse (also a bit sentimental and I liked it more than I thought I would), and The Artist (great movie). I also watched about 75% of Rise of the Planet of the Apes which I hated so much I couldn’t finish it.

On the 4th of July I was entertained by ten adorable children doing a birthday rap followed by a mini dance party for one of my BFFs.  That might have been my favorite entertainment since Game of Thrones. Watching a four year old unexpectedly break out the robot, is pretty hard to top.

May 26, 2012

Entertainment Dilemmas

I have been wrestling with a few entertainment dilemmas.

You may recall that a few weeks ago, I turned off the TV every night at 9pm and finished a book. The book dilemma was what to read next. The plan was to read the super popular erotic novel, Fifty Shades of Grey. I started it, but it was SO horrible that I could barely stand to skim the first few chapters. I was not super excited to read a book that starts with a man taking a college student’s virginity and then begging her to be in an S&M relationship with him (as his submissive, of course). And to top it all off, I did not find it that erotic. I have read my fair share of erotic literature, but this just did not do it for me. I was really scratching my head to figure out why the three books in this series are at the top of the bestseller lists.

Then I read Marlo Thomas’s take on the book. (I follower her on twitter. She is one of my childhood feminist idols.) She said she got it. Apparently, later in the book, Anastasia stands up for herself and there might be more to it than the first few chapters. I decided that if Marlo liked it and was continuing on to book 2, I should continue on as well.  It did get better.  I am sticking with it. Dilemma #1 solved.

The second dilemma is whether or not to watch this season of The Bachelorette. I usually really enjoy this ridiculous show, but I am not sure I can take another season of scripted fake romance. I left American Idol behind and have not regretted it for a moment, don’t miss it at all. I have a couple of episodes of the Bachelorette on my TiVo, but I think I might be able to resist it. Now the Bachelor Padlater this summer, will be harder to resist.  That show is crazy drama.

That brings us to dilemma #3. After my “turn off the TV at 9pm” week, I removed a bunch of stuff from my TiVo Season Pass list.  I have had a busy few weeks so I have not had time for to much TV and Mad Men, Game of Thrones, The Killing, and Scandal (LOVE it) have kept me pretty satisfied, but one show’s commercials have been tempting me. Revenge. Apparently there was this shocking season finale that I missed and I am kind of dying to know what happened! How have these crazy rich people turned on each other this time to cause misery and drama in the Hamptons? It’s been eating away at me.

Then, yesterday, I got an email offering me two free weeks of Hulu Plus!! I can stream Hulu Plus through my TiVo so I don’t have to watch on my laptop at my desk (yuck) and I can go back and watch episodes of pretty much anything. Clearly the universe is sending me a sign that I need to find out what happened on Revenge. As an extra bonus, I can watch Downton Abbey and maybe finish up Battlestar Gallactica that I still have three more seasons left of.

It is a quiet holiday weekend in NYC so, except for a pile of work I need to get done, I have time for some entertainment. Hulu Plus, here I come! Dilemma #3 solved.

May 5, 2012

I Finished A Book!

At the beginning of the year, I said I wouldn’t write about what I was going to do. I said I would just do it and then write about it. Well, I broke that rule this week when I announced my plan to turn of the TV every night at 9pm and read until I went to sleep.  I have to say, it was kind of fun to say I was going to do something and then DO it. (It’s like checking things off a to do list, and we all know how much fun THAT is.)

This week, in the 9 -10:30pm hour, I finished The Paris Wife, an historical novel about Earnest Hemingway’s first marriage. I realized how good it was at the end, when the marriage ended. (I am not giving anything away, you can read the whole story on Wikipedia.) She explained the pain so well, that all of my previous bad breakups came flooding back and I remembered that panicked feeling that comes after the initial relief when a bad relationship is over. If a book makes me feel something, it gets a thumbs up.

I also felt a HUGE sense of accomplishment for finishing the book and sticking to my plan!  It felt good to watch less TV. I could only watch one show every night so it took me through Thursday to watch all of my Sunday night shows. Crazy.

Who knows what next week will hold, but this week, I finished a book!

February 12, 2011

The Soul of Leadership Was Not For Me

I just finished my first non-fiction book of the year.  I am not a huge non-fiction reader.  I like stories.  It can be a true story.  I prefer a good true story to fiction, actually.  But if it isn’t in the form of a story, I would like it summed up in nothing longer than a magazine article.  Maybe this comes from years of being told to roll things up to communicate to executives.   I have set a goal of reading at least 5 more non fiction books this year, so maybe I will find one that keeps my attention longer than an awesome episode of Glee or Breaking Bad.

I did force myself to finish Deepak Chopra’s The Soul of Leadership: Unlocking Your Potential for Greatness so I could get to my next book.  Why did I decide to read this?  Around New Year’s, I saw Deepak on CNN saying something very profound while I was running on the treadmill.  By the time I got home from the gym, I couldn’t remember what it was.  I searched the internet to see if I could find the clip on CNN.com or You Tube but no luck.  I thought if I read his new book, it might be in there.  I was also thinking a lot about unlocking MY potential for greatness, and it seemed like something that would help me get psyched up for my new leadership role at work (which has still not started yet..LONG transition period.)  I don’t think I found it in there because I still can’t remember what it was.

I think part of the problem might have been the Kindle.  On the Kindle, it is hard to flip back to refer to things.  When I am reading a story, I can visualize it in my head and I don’t need to go back and refer to anything.  With this book, the ideas kept leaving my mind and it was not easy to quickly browse back to re-orient myself.  Maybe it was the Kindle, or maybe I just was not that in to the ideas in this book.

Deepak talks about his leadership concepts using this acronym (see how it spells Leaders!)

  • L (Look and Listen)
  • E (Emotional Bonding)
  • A (Awareness)
  • D (Doing)
  • E (Empowerment)
  • R (Responsibility)
  • S (Synchronicity)

I always have a hard time getting through this “self help” stuff because it just sounds like common sense to me when I read it.  (Be a good person, listen to people and understand what they need, have self awareness, mediate a lot, etc…)  There are some pearls of wisdom here and there, but those could really be summed up in a magazine article.  I am sure some people find this book inspiring.  That what keeps this man in business, right?  Maybe my head was just not in the right place.

I think the people who read this book, will already embody a lot of these leadership qualities.  This book might remind them of things they already know or inspire them to be more conscious of them (until they get busy again) but my guess is that the people who really need to learn how do the things in this book (because they are horrible leaders) won’t read it, or can’t learn them from reading a book.   Just my opinion.

Next up, The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest. The last in Stieg Larsson’s Millennium Trilogy.

January 9, 2011

Little Bee and The King’s Speech

I read an entire book this week.  It was a small book, only 288 pages, but I feel a sense of accomplishment.  I am retaining my (failed) goal from last year to read at least one book/month in 2011 and so far so good!

The book was Little Bee by Chris Cleve.  It came highly recommended by several women I traveled to Sicily with, so I was sadly disappointed when I did not completely love it.  Let me re-state. I LOVED the first 75% of it, but the last 25% was bad.  The dialogue went down hill, the characters started doing silly things, and the end was….a huge let down.

The book is about a 16 year old Nigerian girl and a well-to-do British couple who’s lives become intertwined due to a tragic event that alters all of their lives forever (of course).  The book alternates from being from told from the point of view of the 16 year old girl, Little Bee, and the wife of the British couple.

The perspective of Little Bee is well written (in a poetic voice that takes a few pages to get used to but  grows on you) and I loved the way he illustrated Little Bee’s perspective of England as a girl who grew up in a primitive Nigerian village but spent two years learning “the Queens English” in an immigration detention center.  There was great suspense and plot twists right up until 3/4 of the way through and then it just got weird.   One character entered the story that was completely unbelievable and the story just fell apart when lots of tings that made no sense started happening.  I can’t say more without giving it away, although I can’t imagine you would read it after my glowing review.

I also went to see The King’s Speech.  This is a movie I can recommend highly with no reservation.  Loved it.   True story (so I got a nice history lesson) about King George IV who was originally Prince Albert but took the name George when he became King (Albert was, apparently, not considered a cool King’s name.)   Prince Albert had a stammer (which I just learned from Wikipedia is a synonym for stuttering although Albert had more of a hesitation than what you would more commonly think of as a stutter) and he worked to overcome it with a speech therapist from Australia.  The movie is about the process of him overcoming this speech impediment and the friendship he develops with his speech therapist.  It is heartwarming and funny and deep and just a great flick.  Colin Firth is awesome, as always.  I also saw him recently in A Single Man, which I also really liked and he was also fabulous in that.  And he was of course in one of my favorite movies of all time, Love Actually.  I think he should be the King of England.  He rocks.

December 28, 2010

Riding Amtrak with Peter Drucker

So the holidays are pretty much over.  Gifts have been distributed and received.  Many miles have been traveled to visit family and share martinis, cheese triangles, games, Cracker Barrel, nieces, dogs, movies, museums, bean dip, and love.

I spent my Amtrak hours this past week reading Managing the Non Profit Organization by Peter Drucker. I didn’t love the book.  He talks about religion a little more than I would like.  (He somehow managed to include his opinion that fornication is a sin into this book.) He did say some interesting things about people development and people management, but I had a hard time relating to his examples which were mostly drawn from the Girl Scouts, churches, and hospitals.

I did find myself more interested in thinking about managing people and organizations than I have in the past.  I have a lot to learn, but the idea of doing it for a cause that I care about makes the idea much more appealing.

While I was reading, I was thinking a lot about the job situation and whether I should jump ship to the non-profit world.  I also talked to some very wise advisors and did some number crunching today to see what Quicken had to say about the whole thing.

Net-net, I think the best way for me to achieve all of the objectives I laid out earlier this year (see Reflecting on my 2010 Goals)  is to stay in the corporate world, get as much out of it as I can, and keep building on the volunteer work I started in 2010.  I have work-a-holic tendencies and I don’t want to get off balance again with a new, very challenging career that would consume my whole life.  I JUST got balanced.  I am doing more now to save the world than I ever have before and I can build up to the invisible plane.

So that’s the quick update.  I thought this was key information for my readers to have before I publish my 2011 goals, which are not fully formed yet.  Guess I should turn off this redonkulous Gossip Girl episode and get to work on those.  Or maybe tomorrow….it is still Christmas vacation!!!

November 29, 2010

How’s the Meditation Going, You Ask?

The day after my last post on this topic, I sat for 10 minutes as planned.  The next day I had an early morning work meeting and lost traction.  Then it was the weekend and I forgot.  Then I remembered and decided I should wait until I read this book that was recommended to me “Wherever You Go, There You Are” by Jon Kabat-Zinn .

I downloaded the book to my Kindle and read it on the plane to and from my Thanksgiving holiday in Kentucky.  It’s a good book.  It is hard to stay awake when you are reading a book about mindfulness, but I did get through it and learned some neat stuff.  One thing I learned is that I am a pretty mindful person already.  I have some work to do, sure, but I am not your average Jane bopping around totally unaware.  Jon Kabat-Zinn does think meditation can help me “be all I can be” which is what I am striving for, so I will stick with it.  Here is a quote that makes me think this is so:

“…by investigating inwardly our own nature as beings and particularly, the nature of our own minds, through careful and systematic self-observation, we may be able to live lives of greater satisfaction, harmony, and wisdom” – Jon Kabat-Zinn

Sounds good right?  I am not completely sure how the benefits of meditation and therapy are different, besides the fact that meditation is FREE!  I will have to investigate the other differences.  Jon Kabat-Zinn also recommends “meditating without advertising it.” He says instead of talking about it, just go do it.  Excellent point.

But before I stop talking about it, I will tell you that I did sit the past two days for 10 minutes each and my mind did not stop for one second.  (Boy, I wish I had coffee.  Should I have left the light off?  My apartment is so much quieter now that they built that building in front of my window.  I am so uncomfortable.  What should I get my mom for Christmas? It’s OK, just watch the thoughts float away in little bubbles.  I wonder if it is OK to picture little bubbles?)

According to Jon Kabat-Zinn (I do love that name!), it could be years before I am able to really quiet my mind.  That is a really long time!  Clearly, I won’t be able to achieve this goal until I have a comfy meditation pillow.

November 4, 2010

Sorry Barnes and Noble

I just ordered a Kindle.  I have always been in to my gadgets, but I have not had any interest in buying an eReader.  Then, I carried one of the heaviest books that Barnes & Noble sells through more airport corridors, buses, and trams than I thought existed and it put me over the edge.   The woman next to me on the plane (who was reading her Kindle) actually said “That is a mighty big book you are carrying around.”

Why did I choose “The Passage” by Justin Cronin, heaviest book I have ever owned, to bring to Italy?  Because my friend Liz recommended it, it looked awesome (and it was) and  I did not want to run out of reading material.

There were two women on my trip who had Kindles and loved them and I was surrounded by them on the plane.  I am planning more travel in the near future so I decided to do some Google searching and developed this pro/con analysis:

Cons of the Kindle (that have kept me from pursuing this option)

  • I feel bad for Barnes & Noble.
  • I love having a bookshelf that reflects who I am.  I love browsing other people’s bookshelves.
  • You can’t lend your books.
  • I assumed it would be annoying to read.
  • I figured I would get an iPad eventually and would read eBooks on that.

Pros of the Kindle (that I discovered this past week)

  • It’s better for the environment.
  • It is light.  I can carry lots of books and not worry about running out of things to read.
  • Everyone loves their Kindle.  If they can get used to it, so can I.
  • It will pay for itself pretty quickly if i am really going to read more.
  • I just got a super light laptop.  I don’t need an iPad.  AND several people on the internet said they have ipad AND Kindles and prefer to read on the Kindle.  (iPad is heavier and is hard to read in the sun)
  • It might encourage me to read the NY Times and learn more about the world.
  • My bookshelf is full.

I have read three books since I started this blog which I am quite proud of.  (It took me 8 months to read the last book I started pre-blog.  I think that was last year.)  They were all mystery/thriller novels which are not really that much different than watching TV but I feel like I am using more of my brain and in a better way.  I am thrilled that I still have the attention span to read for hours at a time.  Net net, this Kindle could be like vitamins for my brain (especially if I branch out in to non-fiction!)

September 5, 2010

Sniffles and Small Accomplishments

This week’s adventures included Puffs Plus by day, NyQuil by night, and way too much television.  A nice summer cold kept me cooped up in my apartment all week. I practically cleaned out my TiVo.  Least seasons episodes of Medium, The Mentalist,  Haven ( which does not normally keep my attention but perfect for a stuffy head) and  Real Housewives of New Jersey ( After part two of the RHNJ reunion, no more Real Housewives.  I swear!)  Completely blew my 10 hours out of the water, but  I did pull off some minor accomplishments this week while fighting the mucus.

Scariest moment of the season!!!!

(1) Wrapped up Season 4 of Dexter – definitely the best season yet  (spoilers to follow.)  So happy Laguerta and Batista ended up together (I called it!).  Nice plot twist with the reporter being Trinity’s daughter.  Did not see that coming!  Frustrating to watch Trinity continue to get away because Dexter HAD to kill him, but true to character and the ending was perfect.  Sad, but perfect.  So perfect, I signed up for Showtime so I can see Season 5 real time.  I am already stressed out about how I am going to stick to 10 hours with the new fall season so this was a BIG decision, but when they told me it was CHEAPER to change to an HBO/Showtime package for 1 year than keep just HBO, I knew the universe was telling me to go for it.

(2) Finished “Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” – Loved it.  Does take a while to get in to, but once you are in, it is a great page turner.  Been a while since I have read a great page turner .  I was not a fan of what I call the “outer mystery” (The financial scandal the book starts and ends with.)   I guess it was used to get Blomkvist to the “inner mystery” which was much more interesting and unfortunately ended with almost 100 pages left and then we were taken back to the financial scandal I had little interest in.   I skimmed those last chapters.  I was worried that I had lost my ability read for more than 10 minutes at a time since I am convinced my constant connection to my phone has changed my brain chemistry.  I now know that I CAN do it.  Not sure when I will do it again.  I did buy “The Girl Who Played With Fire”  the next day, but the fall TV season is coming AND I am planning to get OUT of the house more this fall.  Calendar is already filling up!

We watched Ana Ivanovic practicing yesterday. Notice her cute outfit!

(3) Attended my first US Open – I am not a big fan of watching any sports.  I wanted to check out this event people are always talking about and am quite glad I did.  It was a beautiful day.  I was finally feeling better and was very happy to be outside soaking up the Vitamin D.  The fans are much more pleasant to be around than baseball fans, which is to be expected from a sport played and watched by the upper and middle class.  Maybe I should start playing tennis so I can get those awesome arms I have always wanted.  (And wear those cute outfits).   I of course had to find out what was up with the love, 15, 30, 40 thing.  Fascinating that no one who has ever explained it to me ever has any idea why the scoring works the way it does.  Wikipedia satisfied my curiosity by giving some good potential origins for something that seemed completely random.  (If interested: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tennis_score)

Still figuring out what this content should be…how much do I write?  What do I share?  Do I wait to have entertaining, amusing thoughts?  Do I write about TV or other things?  Who is reading?  Who cares?  What distinguishes blog entry vs diary entry?  Since the intent is really to be an outlet of personal expression, I guess I can do whatever I want!  That is liberating.