In the New Year

“I tell ya, I love you. And my hearts in the strangest place.” It’s my New Year’s Eve. Saying goodbye to 2015 felt good, but saying goodbye to 37 feels more significant somehow. 37 was an incredible, sweet, sad, heartbreaking, rollercoaster, nightmare of a year. I’m so looking forward to waking up as a 38 year old, with a whole brand new blank unwritten year ahead of me. And hopefully waking up with a new perspective, a new headspace. But tonight, I enjoy my last night as a 37 year old, on the couch, in my pjs, listening to music with my kid and my dog. Tomorrow I start a new year, ready to be filled with hikes and movies and nachos and workouts and nights out and books and swim meets and shows and life lessons and parties and travels and records and mistakes and accomplishments and friends and laughs and (fingers crossed) love.

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Floating in a Most Peculiar Way

Confession: The first time I remember singing my heart out and dancing to a David Bowie song, it wasn’t Starman, or John, I’m Only Dancing, or even Modern Love. It was Magic Dance.

See, I was born a little too late to appreciate Bowie until he came into my life as Jareth the Goblin King in Jim Henson’s Labyrinth when I was 8 years old. I loved that movie with every part of my being. I would go through the HBO guide and figure out when it would be on so I could watch it every time. We recorded it onto a VHS so I could watch it when it wasn’t on. I wanted to be Sarah so badly. I wanted to go ballroom dancing in a fancy dress with man with crazy hair and tights. But as many times as my 8 year old self would say the words, the right words, Jareth never came. Thankfully, Bowie did. Not long after the start of my Labyrinth obsession I remember seeing the video for the Dancing in the Street duet with Mick Jagger and thinking, “that’s Jareth? He’s an actual person who sings actual songs without puppets? Sign me up!”

Thus followed decades of Bowie. Laying on the floor of my room in junior high listening to Ziggy Stardust. Imagining the sad beautiful story of Major Tom. Duetting with friends on Under Pressure (I liked to be Freddie). Driving around the orange groves with my cousin singing Young Americans and All the Young Dudes at the top of our lungs. Seeing him blow my mind at Universal Amphitheater during my first year of college. Possibly the best $48 my broke 19 year old self ever spent.

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It all came full circle on my 30th birthday, when I watched Labyrinth in the backyard with my friends and our kids, and introduced my 5 year old daughter to the magic.  Like me, she was smitten immediately, and watching her dress up in her sparkliest twirliest dress and dance and sing in the living room with Jareth, Sarah, and all those crazy puppets in the years that followed was pretty much the best thing ever. She’s 12 now, and too cool to dance in the living room with me anymore, but we did watch Labyrinth last night. After I took the liberty of dancing by myself in the living room for a while and singing my heart out to my favorite Bowie songs.

So I guess I have Jim Henson and Jareth (and my parents and HBO) to thank for being the jumping off point for all those years filled with amazing music and otherwordly spacey fantastical characters. Not to mention for the major life lesson that has stuck with me since the first time I saw that man appear in Sarah’s house wearing make up and tights (and presumably a weenie enhancer of some sort), that the only right way to be a human is to be who you are without worrying about what the world thinks of you. This life is made more crazy and fun and beautiful by people who don’t conform, who do the unexpected, and create magic for everyone to enjoy. Go out and be weird everybody.

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Aunt Marlane’s 45s

I have an Aunt who I never met. Marlane Sandra Olsen was born in 1951 and died in 1992. She was my dad’s older sister, and not only did I never meet her, I don’t even think I’ve ever seen a picture of her. Based upon what I’ve been able to piece together from stuff my dad, mom, and great Aunt Nancy told me, Marlane had some issues. When she was in high school, she started acting weird. She got into drugs, split town, and basically wasn’t heard from again. Aunt Nancy said Marlane was a diagnosed schizophrenic, and that my Grandma had a hard time convincing her to stick around to get treated. Instead, Marlane wandered. I heard she was homeless a lot. No one knew where she was or how to find her. I can’t imagine how hard that must have been for my Grandma, to not know where her daughter was, if she was ok, if she was hungry or sick. My Grandma died of Lymphoma in 1990, and as far as I know, and Grandma never saw Marlane again before she died. Shortly after Grandma died, within a year or two, my dad got a call that Marlane was in a hospital in Nebraska, and was dying of stomach cancer. He went out to see her, and take care of things. And that was it. Thats all I know of Marlane. But I’ve always wondered about her. What was she like? Did she miss her family? Did she think about them? If she had been able to get proper treatment for her schizophrenia, would her life have been different? I’ll never know. I know basically nothing about her life between the late 1960s when she disappeared, and 1992, when she died.

I do have one thing that belonged to Marlane though, a box of 45s. My dad hung on to them after she left as a teenager, and now they’re mine. Those 45s are the only clue I have about what she was like before she got sick, before her mind was compromised, before she lost control of her life. I’ve had them for years, but I’ve really never listened to most of them. So I’m going to embark upon a little project here at Pretty Girls Make Gravy. I’m going to listen to a few of Marlane’s 45s each week, and I’ll put a post up on the blog for each one. Let’s see if I can get a little bit of insight into the pre-schizophrenia Marlane, maybe a Marlane who is not so tragic, a Marlane who listened to music and smiled.

So, first up… (and of course we’re going to do this in alphabetical order)

The AssociationAlong Comes Mary/Cherish – 1966

Along Comes Mary was The Association’s first hit, and reached number 7 on the charts. Supposedly it was about Mary Jane, you know, the grass. Here is a link to a quick NPR interview about Tandyn Almer, who wrote the song.

Written by Terry Kirkman, Cherish reached number 1 on the charts in the US and Canada. Fun fact, Cherish was performed on both Glee and Gilmore Girls.

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25 Books in 2015: The Comeback

Another year, another attempt at reading 25 books! I’m determined to bounce back after a less than stellar reading year in 2014. I’m off to a better start this year than I was this time last year, so here’s hoping I can get ‘er done this time around. I’ve got a to-read list, but can always use more suggestions, so feel free to send them my way. Here’s what I’ve read, with a 1 to 5 star rating, and a little something about each book.

1. Number the Stars – Lois Lowry (4 stars)

My daughter recommended this one, she was assigned it to read in her 6th grade class. It’s a really sweet story about two friends living in Copenhagen during WWII. I loved it, made me feel even better about my Danish heritage.

2. The Wild Truth: The Untold Story of Sibling Survival – Carine McCandless (2 stars)

Meh. I really loved Into the Wild, and looked forward to finding out more about the story in this book, written by Chris McCandless’s younger sister Carine. Carine’s main objective with this book seems to be to convince the world what horrible people her parents are (and they do seem to be pretty awful), and also to talk about herself, a lot. It did not provide inside look at the Chris McCandless story that I’d hoped for.

3. The Girl on the Train – Paula Hawkins (5 stars)

SO GOOD. This is a suspenseful page turner with absolutely no likable characters. You know its a winner when you still can’t stop reading even though you can’t root for anybody.

4. The Black Dahlia – James Ellroy (3 stars)

Set in one of my favorite time periods, 1940s Los Angeles. You’d never know it was published in 1987, it feels like classic Ross MacDonald type noir, but more gritty and graphic. A little too graphic for my taste, to be honest, but a good read.

5. Stone Mattress – Margaret Atwood (5 stars)

She never disappoints. Stone Mattress is a collection of short stories, each one a page turner. The first three stories are connected, the rest are standalone. They’re all at least a little creepy.

6. Leaving Before the Rains Come – Alexandra Fuller (4 stars)

I am weirdly fascinated by Alexandra Fuller, ever since a friend recommended her book Don’t Let’s Go to the Dogs Tonight, which I read in 2013 and loved. Her latest book is the story of her divorce, the reasons for which I simply can’t comprehend. Why one would leave an adventurous husband who clearly loves his wife and works hard to provide a nice life for his family, I have no idea. What I would give for three kids and a financially secure household. But then I didn’t grow up in the chaos of Southern Africa, and it sounds as though she needs some kind of chaos to be happy. Give me calm and security, with a dash of adventure once in a while, any day of the week.

7. Never Let Me Go – Kazuo Ishiguro (3 stars)

This story line of this book was right up my alley. Weird and creepy, but just realistic enough to make you think… this could totally happen. Something about the writing style annoyed me though, a lot of starting a thought or story element and then “but I’ll get back to that later”. It just made me want to skip things. Still a good read.

8. Delancey: A Man, A Woman, A Restaurant, A Marriage – Molly Wizenberg (4 stars)

Back in 2010 I was browsing in the bookstore near my office and picked up A Homemade Life, a book Wizenberg wrote following the death of her father. It was an impulse buy, based off the pretty cover photo of glassware and a quick read of the jacket. Turned out to be a great decision, and I now gift that book frequently. So when I saw that Wizenberg had followed up on A Homemade Life with a book about opening a restaurant with her husband, of course I had to give it a read, and I wasn’t disappointed.  Delancey is witty and engaging, and her inclusion of an occasional recipe will encourage you to get yourself in the kitchen. For an ongoing Wizenberg fix, you can check out her blog, Orangette.

9. Esperanza Rising – Pam Munoz Ryan (4 stars)

I’ve had this one on my list for a while, actually to read with the kid. But she’s been preoccupied with the Percy Jackson and Heroes of Olympus series for a long while now so I read it without her. I definitely recommend, its lovely read, with a lot of relevance to California agriculture and immigration. And you can probably read it in two days.

10. Before I Fall – Lauren Oliver (1 star)

This book was recently on a list of top 100 books of the last decade, and I saw that my library had it available without a waiting list for kindle checkout I decided to go for it. I cannot for the life of me figure out why it was on that list. You’ll love it if you like reading about entitled rich kids who drink too much, treat each other (and their parents) horribly, and repeatedly make terrible decisions.

11. Still Alice – Lisa Genova (4 stars)

I haven’t seen the movie, but the book sure both heartbreaking and super interesting. I’ve never given Alzheimer’s Disease much thought, but after reading this it sure scares the bejesus out of me. Genova writes the family dynamics in a way that left me feeling very conflicted about how I would handle being the wife or daughter of someone with Alzheimer’s. I second guessed the family’s behavior constantly, but of course can’t imagine how I would behave in the same situation.

12. Paper Towns – John Green (3 stars)

I picked this one up because the kid wanted to read it, and I wanted to read it first to make sure it wasn’t to questionable for an 11 year old. It was cute, a quick little YA read that I’d say is the best of the John Green bunch.

13. The Drowning Pool – Ross MacDonald (4 stars)

I really can’t get enough of Ross MacDonald. I don’t know if its a fascination with mid-century noir, or because these Lew Archer books have settings in San Diego, Los Angeles, and a fictional Santa Barbara type place, but I love them. Thank goodness my library has all of them available for kindle, I can’t keep one handy at all times.

14. The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up – Marie Kondo (5 stars)

This book could not have come into my life at a better time. I read it just as The Boyfriend, and pseudo-dad to The Kid, of over eight years up and moved out of our house and our life. It was the perfect time to go through the house and purge it of things that don’t bring me joy. Highly recommended if you are going through a personal transition in life, a move, or just want to create a happier space for yourself.

15. The Martian – Andy Weir (5 stars)

A friend of mine recommended this one, said she and her son and liked it a lot and my kid  might like it too. So I picked it up, the kid started reading it and was hooked. It wasn’t until I started reading it a couple of weeks later that I saw that the first line of the book contains an f-bomb. Oops! Guess I should have read this one before the kid too! Truth be told, its a fantastic book, and the cursing is completely unoffensive and I didn’t mind that the kid read it at all. I’d be cursing too, if I were in Mark Watney’s shoes, and so would you.

16. Troublemaker: Surviving Hollywood and Scientology – Leah Remini (3 stars)

So I grew up a stones throw from the Gold Base near Hemet, CA. We never called it the Gold Base, we knew it as Golden Era, the Scientology place, and the rumor was that people were sent there to be punished, like stories of people being forced to walk in circles around a “punishment pole”. It was the place you went to in High School to creep yourself out late at night by driving out there and turning off the headlights and driving around the compound. You can actually drive right through it.  Anyway, I digress, Remini talks about the Gold Base, along with all kinds of other Scientology nuttiness in her book. Its a good follow up to the HBO documentary Going Clear, which is also a book (haven’t read it). Recommended if you’re into reading about weird culty religions.

Ok, its December and I’m only on 16 books. The goal of 25 is looking a little lofty at this point…

Curious about what I’ve already read? Click away…

2013 Reading List

2012 Reading List

2011 Reading List

Me and Books: A Reunion (Part 1)

Me and Books: A Reunion (Part 2)

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A letter to my daughter’s school, and anyone else who is shaming girls for what they wear

Hi friends, since many of you were curious about the letter I wrote regarding the recent dress code and girl shaming incidents at the kid’s school, here is the letter, with identifying information removed.  Thanks to the friends that took a look and provided input on my draft. Here’s hoping it does some good, doesn’t cause any trouble for the kid, and doesn’t just get me labeled as the crazy feminist parent.

Principal (name removed),

In the likely case that you share my perspective on this topic, I am sending this letter for you to use as evidence that parents support a positive school environment for both girls and boys. Hopefully this letter will serve as a contrast to the parental perspective that was previously communicated to administration, and to me by (teacher name removed), as described below.

I’d like to express concerns that I have regarding the recent implementation of a stricter dress code than is reflected in the handbook, as well as concerns I have about the reasons for implementation of that stricter dress code that have been communicated to our sixth grade girls, and to parents. I will preface this by saying that, in theory, I have no problem with a dress code, and have made sure that my daughter has followed the dress code, as reflected in the (school name removed) handbook, to a T.

I’ll start with my initial concern, which is that girls are now apparently required to wear shorts that are longer than “fingertip length”. I don’t necessarily have a problem with this; however, it’s never been a rule in the past 5 years my daughter has been a student at (school name removed). The Student-Parent handbook that we all received, went over with our children, and signed at the beginning of the year states the following regarding revealing dress code:

“Revealing clothing (cropped tops, short shorts, oversized tank tops, spaghetti straps/strapless dress, or swimsuits) is prohibited. Underwear may not be visible.”

I see that it specifically says no short shorts, but I don’t see anything in the dress code rules requiring that shorts be longer than fingertip length. If longer than fingertip length shorts are the rule, or if there are any other specific requirements regarding dress, they should be stated in the dress code part of the handbook so that when we are buying school clothes for our kids we can take those requirements into consideration. As the mother of an athletic girl with a tiny waist, long legs and long arms, I can tell you, shorts that reach her fingertips are VERY hard to find. When we went shopping for shorts after she got in trouble for dress code violations (for the first time ever) a few weeks ago, it took us several hours and trying on every pair of shorts in Old Navy to find something that would reach to her fingertips, and even then, it was only when I took out the cuffs on the shorts that they were BARELY as long as her fingertips. I can’t imagine my daughter is the only one with this “problem”, given the growth spurts that all of the girls are going through right now.

The bigger concern that I have, though, is what I perceive to be the reason that there has been a recent enforcement of a stricter dress code. My daughter, and a few of her 6th grade friends, have told me that (teacher name removed) recently gave them a talking-to regarding dress. Apparently the boys were told to go to the library, so that the girls could go to the book exchange. However, my understanding is that the girls weren’t taken to the book exchange. Instead (teacher name removed) sat them down in the auditorium and had a talk with them about appropriate dress, and included something to the effect of “boys are starting to like girls at this age, you need to be sure you aren’t doing or wearing anything to make the boys feel uncomfortable.” I was curious about the context of this, as I thought she surely couldn’t have meant what I think she meant by it, and I intended to ask (teacher name removed) about it. But before I had a chance to ask her, she sent an email on Friday, which stated:

“Student’s shorts need to be longer than the length of their finger tips when their arms are extended and need to wear appropriate tops that do not allow undergarments to show. The students were just reminded about this a week ago. Please help us support a productive learning environment with out the clothing distractions.”

So at that point, I emailed (teacher name removed) asking her to explain why the dress code had changed from what is in the handbook, and what she meant by “clothing distractions”. This is the response I received:

“Sorry forgot to address your whole question, clothing distractions comment was based on a parent’s concern that felt their boy was being distracted by the way the girls are dressing.

She felt that it was a form of sexual harassment thus the purpose of us having another discussion on appropriate school attire. It is hard to keep everyone happy”

What was said to the girls in the auditorium and the above email response are both HUGE concerns for me.

That a parent would go so far as to classify our sixth grade girls as sexual harassers because her son can’t keep focused in school is unbelievable to me. But it is made far worse by the fact that the school would support such a sexist and insulting statement about our girls by accommodating that parent and implementing a stricter dress code in order to satisfy her. I have a huge problem with the school instructing our girls that they need bear the responsibility of keeping boys comfortable and focused.

Why is it the girl’s responsibility to make sure the boys don’t feel or act on something they shouldn’t? It should not be the burden of the sixth grade girls, or girls of any age, to ensure that boys are not distracted, or made to feel uncomfortable, by their dress.

By doing this, our girls are essentially being taught at a young and impressionable age that if a boy is distracted by them, or leers at them, or harasses them, or assaults them, and they happen to have been wearing shorts or a tank top or have a bra strap showing, that its their own fault for dressing inappropriately. Perhaps the leap from distraction to assault seems extreme, we are talking about sixth graders after all, but our kids are learning behaviors now that shape who they will become as teenagers and adults. Everything they are taught right now, particularly by trusted adults such as teachers and parents, influences what kind of adult they will grow into.

Our girls should be taught that they are responsible for their own bodies, actions, and behavior; not that they are responsible for the thoughts, actions, or behavior of their male classmates.

Our boys should be taught that they are responsible for their own behavior; that it is their own responsibility to keep from being distracted by girls, that it is their own responsibility to control their gaze. Boys should be taught that it is their own responsibility to focus on their schoolwork, rather than on the few inches of visible leg between a girl’s knee and the bottom of her shorts.

I don’t believe that attempting to provide a distraction free learning environment for boys through dress code for girls is the answer to the problem at hand, as dress code can’t solve the problem of sexism. The best kind of dress code, in my opinion, is one that is clearly stated, that treats boys and girls fairly, and levels the playing field by taking the “cool factor” with regards to fashion out of school.  Of course the most effective way to achieve this kind of a dress code is by requiring a uniform. But even a uniform can’t solve the problem of sexist behavior.

Both girls and boys should dress in a tasteful manner that is respectful to themselves and others, and of course no undergarments should show. But it should end there, and based on the current dress code as reflected in the (school name removed) handbook, it does. Beyond that, boys should be taught to respect girls no matter what they are wearing, and control their own thoughts, behavior, and actions. That is the only way to solve the problem of sexist behavior and objectification of women and girls.

Rather than accommodating the sexist behavior of boys, and the insulting assertions of parents that it is the fault of our girls that their boys can’t focus; this sounds like an opportunity for the school, and more importantly the parents of these boys, to impress upon the boys that girls should not be objectified, even if they are wearing shorts that are shorter than their fingertips.

I know you, and the rest of the school administrators and teachers, are reasonable and will work to correct the unfortunate statements that have been communicated to our girls regarding their responsibilities as young women, and will also work to communicate to the boys what their responsibilities are as young men. Thank you for taking the time to read this, and please know that I am happy to talk with you about this further.

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Books and Books! Best of 2013

I read some books last year! Some of them were really good, and some were just ok. And for those of you who need the details on my favorites, I’m happy to tell you all about them.

Don’t Lets Go to the Dogs Tonight – Alexandra Fuller

dogsA friend recommended this memoir last year and it might be the
best book recommendation I’ve ever received. The author tells the story of her childhood growing up in Rhodesia, and that alone would have been an interesting enough tale what with the political unrest and exotic locale. Add to that her family dynamics, and it made for a book I couldn’t put down. Loved it so much I read two other books by Fuller, Cocktail Hour Under the Tree of Forgetfulness and Falling: The Story of a Marriage, in quick succession.

 

 

Empty Mansions: The Mysterious Life of Huguette Clark and the Spending of a Great American Fortune – Bill Dedman

mansionsLiving in Santa Barbara I always wondered about the huge estate by the bird sanctuary near East Beach. This book tells the fascinating story of the owner of that estate, Huguette Clark, and how she came to be a fantastically wealthy recluse. Read it, but be advised that you may get sick to your stomach if you are nauseated by people who have more money than they know what to do with.

 

 

 

The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood

handmaidThis book has been on my to-read list for years and I finally got to it. So great, and so creepy, it almost seems plausible. And isn’t that what makes great dystpian fiction? Reading this spurred me to read the MaddAddam trilogy as well. It was great, but couldn’t match the Handmaid’s Tale. The Year of the Flood was the best of the three.

MaddAddam Trilogy: #1 Oryx and Crake, #2 The Year of the Flood, #3 MaddAddam

 

 

The Age of Miracles – Karen Thompson Walker

ageAnother dystopian fiction novel, this one is set in San Diego during the “slowing”, when the earth begins to slow its rotation due to climate change. The story explores how people cope, and how society and culture changes, to adapt to longer days and longer nights. Super unsettling, and even more than The Handmaid’s Tale, seems like it could actually happen.

 

 

 

Flight Behavior – Barbara Kingsolver

flightAnother great one from Barbara Kingsolver, who so rarely lets me down (I’m looking at you Lacuna). She so perfectly captures small towns and the people that populate them, and I just can’t help but root for Dellarobia, despite her shortcomings. And I definitely keep rooting for the butterflies.

 

 

 

 

I should note that I read a ton of Young Adult fiction this year, and there are a few standouts:

Wonder – R. J. Palacio

wonderThe Kid read this with her fifth grade class and told me I HAD to read it. If my 10 year old, who isn’t much of a reader, tells me she loves a book I know it must be something great. And it is. Pick it up and read it, you can probably finish it in two days, and its two days well spent.

 

 

 

 

Divergent Series – Veronica Roth

divergentThese books were quite enjoyable. Almost as good as The Hunger Games series, but not quite. The concept is a world where society is divided into factions based on personality or virtue, and the factions together form a functioning society. Of course it doesn’t work smoothly, or it wouldn’t be dystopian fiction… I can’t say I loved the ending, but the series as a whole is worth reading.

Divergent Series: #1 Divergent, #2 Insurgent, #3 Allegiant

 

 

The rest of the books I read in 2013 are listed here, and if you want to check out my reads from previous years, click away.

25 Books in 2013

Favorites of 2012

20 Books in 2012

Favorites of 2011

More Favorites of 2011

40 Books in 2011

Me and Books: A Reunion Part 1

Me and Books: A Reunion Part 2 (kids books)

 

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Good Music, Good Friends, and a Good Cause

Looking for something to do tomorrow night?

Saturday September 21st, 2013, is the Imagesecond annual Amy Cole Memorial Scholarship Fundraiser House Concert! Featuring music from El Monte Slim, Dustin Illingworth (Tide Pools), and Marie Haddad with Kelly Duley, it’s going to be a night of great music. There will also be a silent auction with all kinds of goods available from local artists, businesses, and restaurants; and a dessert auction so you go home with a yummy treat after a night of fun. You can get more information about the event, including ticketing information by clicking here, to go to the event Facebook page.

The fundraiser will benefit the Amy Cole Memorial Scholarship fund for Young Audiences of San Diego. Young Audiences is a fantastic organization that provides visual art and performance classes and workshops to elementary schools in San Diego. If you can’t make it to the fundraiser, please consider donating directly to Young Audiences here, at their website.

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You Say Soda, I Say Coke

Hey, remember a while back when everybody was doing those regional accent video blogs? Well, a friend of mine just sent me link to a bunch of maps put together by a North Carolina University PhD student that are based on a linguistic study that looked at this very thing. Pretty cool if you’re into that kind of thing, and I know many of us are. You can look at all of the maps from the study, and look at the results by city, by clicking here. I’ll be nerding out on this for the forseeable future.

Despite what the maps say is the norm for a regional term or pronunciation, its not that simple. I grew up in Southern California, but use many terms and pronunciations that are distinctivly south-midwestern thanks to my mom’s family who came from Missouri. For example, soda/pop was always “coke” (note the small c) no matter what kind you were drinking:

Waitress: Can I get you something to drink?

Me: Sure I’ll have a coke, what kind do you have?

Waitress: Pepsi, Diet Pepsi, Sprite, Dr. Pepper…

Me: I’ll have a Dr. Pepper

See what I did there? Dr. Pepper is a coke, with a small “c”. Not “big C” Coke, like the brand. When I looked at my hometown on the map, it does reflect a higher percentage of people who use the word “coke” than in other Southern California cities, so it makes sense.

Also, we grew up saying “grinder” instead of sub, but I don’t even see that reflected on the map. I know we aren’t crazy, because there’s even a shop that my mom loved called D’Elia’s Grinders that she thought was worth going out of the way for if you wanted a sandwich. It was pretty good, as I remember.

And I know that California is a little blended on the caramel/carml question according to the map, but I can’t think of anyone who says “carml” instead of “caramel”, unless they are talking specifically about Carmel the city, in which case they say car-MEL; or one of the many roads and neighborhoods here in San Diego with Carmel in the name, in which case they say CAR-mel. If you’ve ever driven the highway 56 corridor through San Diego you know there are a lot of Carmel streets. I think they were short on name inspiration in that corridor, but thats another blog.

A couple of other comments:

Mayonnaise is always pronounced “man-aze”. And its gross.

It doesn’t matter how you pronounce “pajamas” because they are called “peejays” or “jammies”.

Dinner is an early supper.

“Roof” and “root” are not pronounced the same as “room” and “broom”, despite the presence of double ohs.

“Expecially” isn’t a word. It should always be pronounced “especially”. I can’t believe they even asked this question in the study…

Ok, so now go take a look at all the fun maps!

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25 Books in 2013

New year, new GoodReads Reading Challenge! Its already May, so I’ve been reading  and for months now and have made some headway toward my 25 book goal. I’ve got no real theme this year, I just want to make sure I fit a decent amount of reading time in between gardening, parenting, and training for a hike up Mt. Whitney.

This year I seem to be inundated with recommendations from friends (thank you!) so I fully intend to blow past my 25 book goal, and to hopefully read a variety of books outside my normal non-fiction, historical fiction and dystopian fiction comfort zone. As I do every year, I will update this blog post with the books I finish and give them a one to five star rating here and on my Pinterest.  I also hope to incorporate a more lengthy review or two, but that remains to be seen.

1. The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood (5 stars)

2. The Age of Miracles – Karen Thompson Walker (4 stars)

3. Oryx and Crake – Margaret Atwood (3 stars)

4. The Year of the Flood – Margaret Atwood (4 stars)

5. The Silver Linings Playbook – Matthew Quick (4 stars)

6. Gathering Blue – Lois Lowry (3 stars)

7. Don’t Let’s Go to the Dogs Tonight – Alexandra Fuller (5 stars)

8. Cocktail Hour Under the Tree of Forgetfulness – Alexandra Fuller (4 stars)

9. To Be Frank Diego – Dominic Carillo (4 stars)

10. Hallucinations – Oliver Sacks (4 stars)

11. Flight Behavior – Barbara Kingsolver (5 stars)

12. The Holy or the Broken: Leonard Cohen, Jeff Buckley, and the Unlikely Ascent of “Hallelujah” – Alan Light (3 stars)

13. Messenger – Lois Lowry (3 stars)

14. Pigs in Heaven – Barbra Kingsolver (3 stars)

15. Divergent – Veronica Roth (4 stars)

16. Insurgent – Veronica Roth (4 stars)

17. MaddAddam – Margaret Atwood (2 stars)

18. City of Bones – Cassandra Clare (3 stars)

19. City of Ashes – Cassandra Clare (3 stars)

20. City of Glass – Cassandra Clare (3 stars)

21. Orange is the New Black: My Year in a Womans Prison – Piper Kerman (3 stars)

22. Empty Mansions: The Mysterious Life of Huguette Clark and the Spending of a Great American Fortune – Bill Dedman (5 stars)

23. Falling: The Story of a Marriage – Alexandra Fuller (3 stars)

24. Allegient – Veronica Roth (4 stars)

25. Ender’s Game – Orson Scott Card (3 stars)

26. Dead Ever After – Charlene Harris (3 stars)

27. Where’d You Go, Bernadette – Maria Semple (4 stars)

28. Wonder – R. J. Palacio (4 stars)

29. The Book Thief – Markus Zusak (4 stars)

Curious about what I’ve already read? Click away…

2012 Reading List

2011 Reading List

Me and Books: A Reunion (Part 1)

Me and Books: A Reunion (Part 2)

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Sweet Dreams Are Made Of This

This morning I woke up early as the dawn poured springtime sun through the east facing window of my bedroom. I gazed with my blurry morning vision out the french door to the back yard and smiled to myself, so happy that I got the addition done so The Boyfriend and I could move into the back bedroom, which used to be the music room before we expanded it and added a small second bathroom. And I love the green paint that I chose for the walls. And since The Kid got to move into our previous room, she’s got a little more space to spread out her tween life and have sleepovers with her friends. I thought about how glad I am that we added that family room behind our tiny dining area.  It’s just enough extra space. We haven’t used the fireplace yet, but it will get its fair share of use next winter. And the custom shelves for all of our records, cds, and books were a solid investment too. Its our own little library! It’s amazing how going from 975 square feet to 1,200 square feet can make such a difference.

I dozed in bed thinking about how all of our hard work on fixing up the house has finally paid off, and heard Clover’s little morning doggy whining coming from the living room. Time to take her out and get the day started.  I heard kids and parents going by on their bikes, ringing their bike bells and calling good bye to one another as they headed to work and school, and I realized it must be getting late. So I rubbed my eyes, rolled out of bed and started down the hall.

And then my dreams were crushed. Reality dawned on me like the sun through that window. No remodel, no second bathroom. No family room with a little library. No money to start on any of those things. Not even any kids and parents riding their bikes to school.

The dog was whining to be let out though, you can always count on that.

Thankfully, the day is sunny and beautiful, so some dreams do come true.

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