Sunday, August 31, 2008

Gustav: I Want to be Wrong

As I sit here, Hurricane Gustav is making it's way to the northern Gulf coast. No one can say for sure where it will make landfall, but New Orleans looks as if it's going to take a direct hit.

Sixteen years ago, I moved away from New Orleans after spending four incredible years there as a student at Tulane. Though I left New Orleans, New Orleans never left me, and I've tried to get "home" as often as possible.

Three years ago, Hurricane Katrina devastated extensive parts of the northern Gulf coast--including New Orleans.

And it wasn't just the land and buildings that were destroyed.

Katrina wiped out the homes of tens (hundreds?) of thousands of families, but even those who were able to salvage their belongings were deeply affected by the stresses of the storm.

And having to relive the nightmare all over again so are they expected to cope?

A note from my friend yesterday reported his family's safe evacuation to Florida ahead of the storm. He was going to head north to his office to ride out the storm with the hopes of keeping his business running and being close enough to get home to begin to work on the damage as soon as possible, but he is joining his family instead. His daughter who is six was just too afraid for her Daddy. She remembers moving away from her home last time. She has felt the stress it has placed on her parents--parents who have already separated once since Katrina.

Gustav looks as though it's going to hurt her home again, and I hope I'm wrong.

There is reason to believe that, even with a direct hit, Gustav will kill far fewer people with the emergency plans that have been put into place--plans that didn't exist three years ago.

But I'm a cynic.

Are the plans in place because Louisiana has a governor who can lead the state or is it because this storm happens to be occurring during a large political convention?

Three years ago, President Bush thought his FEMA director was doing a terrific job even when anyone watching CNN knew differently.

Gustav looks like it may have a significant impact on the Gulf Coast, but people are being properly evacuated this time. Is it because politicians don't want to look like ineffective leaders in this election year?

Again, I hope I'm wrong.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Just Trying to Get Back on the Horse

I've started so many posts in my head over the past week, yet none of them have made it down my arms and out the tips of my fingers.

I've probably had too much time with my own thoughts lately, and with a good portion of them clouded by a fever, I don't know that I can access those posts that seemed really important when I didn't have the energy to open up my laptop.

So here I am now just throwing words down like they're car mats that need to dry in the sun. But it's feeling germy in here and I need to open up the windows, air things out and hope to find the purpose of this here blog.

Clearly, I'm going with the "just start writing" method.

Appreciate your patience while I wasted your time giving myself a kick in the pants.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Twitter Speaks: More Than 50 Books that Have Had a Great Impact on Us

It's summer and I'm on a reading binge again. Our annual trip to the beach followed closely by a weekend of relative solitude (*gasp* imagine?) have given me the chance to get through a few titles at a much faster pace than regular life allows.

Right now I'm finishing up Still Life with Woodpecker by Tom Robbins and there are so many great passages/great lines that have made me stop to think about which books have spoken to me the most.

I subscribe to the belief that different books can mean different things to you depending on where you are in your life. Additionally, books can have varying impact on people reading them depending on the events going on in the world or the timing of the publication. For example, while I think On The Road must have been groundbreaking when it was written, I wasn't as blown away by it having had the experience myself of traveling without a plan--which is a far more common experience today than it was in the Fifties.

This thinking about reading and "the classics" led me to wonder what books had most influenced others. (My favorite section in Newsweek is A Life In Books... the brief interview with an author and the list of the author's favorite books and the book they felt was most overrated.) With trusty Twitter at my fingertips, I asked the following question to my Tweeps.

What book have you read, other than the bible, that has had the greatest impact on you?

Folks on Twitter (if you're not on there, you should be) were tremendously forthcoming with titles--so much so that the following list will keep my reading for years. While 140 characters didn't allow for much more than title and author, I did receive a few notes about why people had selected certain titles. I'm hoping that folks who contributed to the list (or others inspired by this post) might consider writing a post explaining why the book they listed had such an impact on them. I'm fascinated by these stories and am myself always looking for good recommendations.

Someone did come back to me wanting to know which book most influenced me and I do feel an obligation to share that information back. Unfortunately, I can't point to one particular title that has had the most influence. I love books. I always have. Each on it's own has affected me in one way or another. Do I have favorites? Absolutely. But even those that were difficult to get through have increased my love for words and added to my ability to think in words.

So without further ado, I give you...

Twitter Speaks: More Than 50 Books that Have Had an Affect on Us

Fall on Your Knees by Ann-Marie MacDonald Mama Tulip

She's Come Undone by Wally Lamb Mama Tulip

I Know This Much Is True by Wally Lamb Send Chocolate & Mama Tulip

Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides MamaTulip

Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck Karoli SoCalMom

Happy Hooker by Xaviera Hollander SoCalMom (you wouldn't believe how it could scare a 14 y.o)

Lamb by Christopher Moore Anissa Mayhew

The Pact by Jodi Picoult Jodifur

19 Minutes Jodi Picoult Jodifur & Hip Mom

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith Jessabean

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee Whit & GraceD & Dooblehvay

A Heatbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers Whit

Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison Isabel Kallman

Think and Grow Rich by Napolean Hill Rumford

Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott Flutter & Hip Mom

Teenage Liberation Handbook by Grace Llewellyn NoirBettie

Sister Carrie by Theodore Dreiser Neilochka

The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron Lola Goetz

The Catcher in the Rye by JD Salinger Devra

Foundation by Isaac Asimov YatPundit

Rebecca by Daphne DuMarier Casey Moosh in Indy

The Diving Bell and the Butterfly by Jean-Dominique Bauby OpenBookJen

Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde Redneck Mommy

Leaves of Grass* by Walt Whitman Redneck Mommy

Lucky by Alice Sebold Flutter

A Separate Peace by John Knowles Samanthia & PunditMom

Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxyby Douglas Adams Crunchy Carpets

Outlander by Diana Gabaldon Kiki Laughs it Off

A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens Kiki Laughs it Off

Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell Kiki Laughs it Off

The Witching Hour by Anne Rice Kiki Laughs it Off

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle Kiki Laughs it Off

Mullet Madness by Alan Henderson Undomestic Diva

Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera NOLANotes

A Sense of Honor by Jim Webb Gunfighter

The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood Jodifur

Love and Other Impossible Pursuits by Ayelet Waldman Jodifur

The Princess Bride by William Goldman SueBob

A Course in Miracles SueBob

Charlotte's Web by E.B. White Assertagirl

Intermediate Man John Locks tag

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou GraceD

Laura Ingalls Wilder books GraceD

Bias by Bernard Goldberg Kiss My Gumbo

Evidence of Harm by David Kirby To Think

Brave New World by Aldous Huxley SoCal Mom

1984 by George Orwell SoCal Mom

Cat's Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut SoCal Mom

Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien PaullYoung

A People's History of the United States by Howard Zinn khylek

Death Be Not Proud by John J. Gunther Slouchy

Atonement by Ian McEwan Slouchy

Superior Women by Alice Adams CharmingDriver

If on a Winter's Night a Traveler by Italo Calvino Linseyk

Pilgrim at Tinker Creek by Annie Dillard FairlyOddMother

The Snow Leopard by Peter Matthiessen Cindy Fey

How to Win Friends & Influence People by Dale Carnegie Mike Driehorst

Angle of Repose by Wallace Stegner Pundit Mom

The French Lieutenant's Woman by John Fowles Pundit Mom

Edited on 8/12/08 to add the following titles originally left off because, well, I'm just a dope.

The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell Julie Pippert

Children of God by Mary Doria Russell Julie Pippert

Bel Canto by Ann Patchett Julie Pippert

*This book of poetry was given the highest recommendation when Redneck Mommy explained that it virtually got her through the death of her son. It will be next on my list for a number of reasons and I will think of T's beloved Bug as I soak up Whitman's words. Thank you T for being willing to share him with us.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Too Much Tea

I'm a freak.

Okay, if you've been reading this blog for any length of time you already know that.

But every once in a while I like to pretend that I'm not, until I am so blatantly reminded as I was just now.

I visited the bathroom about an hour and half ago right after lunch. There was a woman wearing white sandals in there at the same time. We didn't talk, but I took note of her shoes (of course).

See there's something about the iced tea at my favorite lunch place. I drink gallons and my usually strong bladder caves to the pressure.

So back to the bathroom I went just a little while later feeling ridiculous that I had to go again so soon.

I noted that someone else was in there, but I just chose another stall to find relief. While washing my hands afterward the other toilet flushed and I looked into the mirror and could see the shoes peaking out from under the door.

White sandals!

I had to get out of there! I couldn't wash my hands fast enough! What if she came out and saw that I was in the bathroom again?! She'd know that I went twice in less than two hours!!

I hurriedly pulled the lever on the paper towel dispenser (I hate wet hands), grabbed the towel and quickly rubbed my hands dry as I sprinted toward the door. I could hear the latch on the stall opening. She was almost out.

I pulled on the handle of the bathroom door and swung it open just enough to squeeze through and I ran out.

I actually sighed with relief. I made it out without her seeing me.

And then I walked down hall back toward my office verbally smacking myself in the head.

What normal, sane person worries about being seen in the bathroom twice inside of two hours by someone else who obviously has to go as frequently?! Who rushes out of the bathroom like that?

Seriously. I'm a freak.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Everything I Learned About Baseball...

I learned through my sons.

Okay. Not really.

I mean I WAS the first girl in my hometown to play little league--information my boys find difficult to wrap their heads around and not because they don't play with girls now (they do) but because they don't seem to think it's possible that I know how to catch or throw (despite evidence to the contrary).

Baseball is all that is lived and breathed in my house. When my guys aren't out on the ballfield, they're playing it in my front yard or on the Playstation or watching it on TV.

They certainly know a lot about the game, its players, major events in baseball history, etc., but I have a sneaking suspicion that some of their facts may be questionable.

Case in point, our conversation over dinner last night:

Eldest Boy: Hey do you know what Jason Varitek* does when he's in a slump?

Middle Boy: What?? (he has a HUGE boy crush on Jason Varitek)

Eldest Boy: He wears a hot pink thong under his uniform.

And I'm thinking to myself, ouch! he's a catcher that can't be comfortable with all that up and down.

Husband: I thought that was Giambi* and it was a gold thong.

Eldest Boy: No, Giambi puts on a fake mustache. Haven't you ever seen how all of the sudden he has a mustache? It's not real. He keeps it on his nightstand.

Note to self: Explain shaving to eldest son.

*With my sincere apologies to the Jasons Varitek and Giambi. Trust me when I say my boys are big fans and at this very moment are probably considering sending me out to buy pink and gold thongs--and fake mustaches. Do you know where I can get some?