Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Holidays, Engagement, Layovers, and Abstinence

Hello readers!

I apologize for not updating this blog. As with most of you (I would assume), I've been out and about with family and friends for the holidays. I finally flew up to Alaska to meet my boyfriend's family. Matt and I have been dating over 3.5 years, with no opportunities to meet his parents! His family was gracious enough to take me in for 10 days and show me around the Island. I've always wanted to visit Alaska, and let me tell you: it doesn't disappoint.

While there, Matt proposed to me while on a hike up one of the mountains. It was perfect: the snowy mountains, sunshine, and ocean, and a wonderful man. It's everything I could have imagined, and I'm so happy to spend the rest of my life with him :)

The whole experience was beautiful. But I'll tell you--10 days isn't near enough time to spend with my boyfriend. We'll have to wait another 3 months to see each other again :(  BUT I feel so blessed to have wonderful future in-laws and an amazing fiance.

I am now hanging out in the Anchorage airport awaiting my red-eye flight. *sigh* I hate when the holidays have to end.

Three book related comments:

1) I'll be starting a poll on here today...I'm debating whether or not I should make it a new year's resolution to not buy myself any books during 2011. Before you gasp and un-follow me, hear me out: I have over 35 unread books on my bookshelf. People also like to give me books as gifts. My thought is that it would encourage me to read what I have, or visit the library should I think I really need a book.It'll also save me money, and perhaps save me some room I on my bookshelf. Please vote to let me know what you think.

2) Have any of you read Ahab's Wife by Sena Naslund? I have the book and began reading it on my trip. I'm 80 pages in and nothing really exciting has happened. The book's back cover sounds so good and it has excellent reviews, so I guess what I'm asking is: is that accurate? Is it worth continuing the next 600 pages? PLEASE let  me know if you've read it!

3) Thank you to those of you who voted in my reading goal for 2011. The results are in and majority rules: my reading goal will be set at 12,500 pages, a 2,500 page increase from my 2010 reading goal. I appreciate the response in helping me make up my mind!

Have a happy new year!

P.S. I apologize if you feel the title of this blog mislead you, with the "Abstinence" portion. Abstinence is the voluntary suppression of pleasure--in my case, being unable to purchase a book for myself for a whole year would definitely be a suppression of pleasure.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Double Cross

Good evening, readers!

With just under a foot of snow from yesterday (that's right--the news reported it to be 11.5 inches--yuck!), I swore I would not leave my apartment all day. Now I'm glad that I didn't. I've been wrapped up in James Patterson's novel Double Cross, and was able to start and finish it today.

About a month (maybe 2 months?) ago, I had reviewed Cross by James Patterson and informed everyone about the series of Alex Cross novels. If you haven't read it, click here: Snickerdoodle Coffee. This is the second novel within a somewhat mini-series of Patterson's Cross series. If you are a Patterson fan and haven't started on this series, please do! They just keep getting better and better!

In this particular one, Alex Cross is being hunted by two serial killers--one of them a killer who loves a large audience, and the other is The Mastermind (He's baaa-aaacccckkkk!). To complicate things, Cross is on an investigation with his girlfriend Detective Bree Stone, and us readers know Patterson has no problem killing off Cross's significant others. Patterson keeps the excitement up until the end, and I'll give a little spoiler: one of the two serial killers walks. Dun dun dun!

Here are my stats for this one:
Rating: 9/10
Pages: 389
2010 Reading Goal: 10,501/10,000

If you haven't voted yet for my page goal for next year, please do! It's the poll located at the bottom of each page of my blog. I'm extending the poll's closing date, but not by much.

So...that's what I've got about books. I've also completed wrapping Christmas gifts and will be mailing those off this week. Today, I was able to clean more of my apartment and make a delicious dinner (chicken breast stuffed with mozzarella and Parmesan cheese; whole grain penne pasta; green beans; a glass of Gewurztraminer wine, and sugar cookies for dessert!). Weekend Warrior? We'll see how tomorrow goes ;)

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Coffee, Cleaning, and SATC

This blog was not intended to be written about cleaning, because it is a rare day that I do clean. Yesterday, surprisingly, was one of those rare days. I have yet to figure out how to get into that particular state of mind that makes me want to clean, but I recognize when it exists and usually try to take advantage of it.

I still haven't fully moved into my apartment. I moved in on a Saturday in August, and began work the following Monday. For the month of August, I spent any free time I had putting the necessities in their place and organizing them. I started traveling in September, and have been gone 4-5 days every week since. This upcoming week will be my last week traveling for work. I'm pretty excited to be back home most of the time (hence the poem I wrote that made me sound homeless). I realized, though, that I'll likely have to move out in May or June--so should I just leave some stuff packed? I've got a second bedroom. My intention was to use it as kind of a sewing/crafts room. Right now it's a graveyard for all my unpacked items. One of these days, I'll get around to fixing it up as my sewing/crafts room. In the meantime, I suppose I should find my motivation first...

Anyway, I cleaned for at least 4 hours yesterday! My desk, which usually gets the worst of the clutter (consisting of little notes-to-self, lots of books balanced on the heaping pile of clutter, a couple of magazines, grad school info, and dirty dishes) is now perfectly clear. It hasn't been that way since I moved in! I also did my laundry and packed my last suitcase to bring out for work purposes for the rest of the 2010 year.

So, what happened to the rest of the cleaning, you ask? I was totally on a roll, and then:

I had innocently turned it on (I own all the seasons and have seen them all before, so I thought it would be good background noise as I diligently cleaned) only to be grossly distracted by the show! Eventually, all motivation I had went out the window. Dinner went from being a pasta feast to being a can of cold corn (no judgments!) and I became a lazy bum engrossed in the lives of these four friends--again. So disappointed. Here's what I've figured out about my motivation to clean:

  1. It only happens once a week, max. Take advantage of it while it's around.
  2. It does not happen without coffee. Ever. Even at 10pm.
  3. Watching HGTV usually enhances productivity.
  4. Watching SATC diminishes all productivity.
  5. It always comes around before I have guests over. Too bad I never have guests over here!
I suppose that's a start. Maybe when I'm 30 I'll have it better figured out. In the meantime, I'm going to sip on some Stephen's Peppermint Cocoa (because it's amazing--if you haven't already tried it, please do, it's a MUST!) and watch HGTV to see if the cleaning motivation comes back to me. If not, I've started on another good read...

Thursday, December 2, 2010

You People...

Perhaps I'm ready to be done traveling? I sat down to type of a FB status update and ended up writing this poem. It may make some of you laugh. I will finally be done traveling (at least for this semester) one week from today.

You people...
You people who wake up knowing where you are...
You people who stay in the same time zone day after day...
You people who use a refrigerator, not just a cooler...
You people who have the opportunity to freshly grind your Starbucks coffee beans every morning...
You people who get to nap on couches instead of in cars outside high schools...
You people who don't drive around strange towns in search of unprotected wifi...
You people who live out of closets instead of suitcases...
You people who have stoves and ovens to cook your food, not just a microwave if you're lucky...
You people who use plush towels instead of overbleached white ones...
You people who don't spend every Sunday packing and driving...
You people...
I envy you people.
And one day, one day very soon, I will become one of you.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten

Welcome to December! This is probably the most unproductive month for reading, as far as I'm concerned. It's surrounded by holidays: Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years. Ultimately, December means getting to spend time with loved ones, which is great. But it also leads to book neglect, unfortunately. Books are loved ones too!

So, as we wade into December, I encourage you all to pick up a book from time to time. It's ok if you don't finish it, but you deserve those couple of minutes each day to yourself.

This is where my most recent read comes in: All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten by Robert Fulghum. This novel is comprised of thoughts (expressed through short stories) of daily encounters. It's one of those "feel-good" novels. Some stories are a little more depressing than others. I was on a rollercoaster ride of emotions: a little sad, laughing so hard I'm crying, deep in thought, smiling, and giggling to myself when I have a similar experience. But most of all, it brought me back to childhood. Not necessarily the innocence of childhood, but the sheer enjoyment of life, a constant count of life's lessons. It's perfect for this busy holiday season. If you do not already own a copy, I encourage you to get one (I've seen several on shelves at used bookstores--now that I've read it, I'm horrified anyone would ever want to part with their copy!). It's only 196 pages, and each story is only 2-4 pages. But don't read it all at once (even though, at times, you'll want to devour it) because it won't allow time for the lessons to seep in. It's the perfect way to take a quick break in your busy day to make time for reading and remembering your blessings.

Here's the info for this book:
Rating: 10/10
Pages: 196
2010 Reading Goal: 10,112/10,000
I finally reached my reading goal! Woo hoo! That won't stop me from continuing to read the rest of this year though--but the holidays may. If you haven't already, please vote for my reading goal for next year. It's currently a tie between 12,500 pages and 14,000 pages, and I need someone to break that tie!

In spite of the busy busy holiday season, I hope you are all able to find a few minutes in your day to relax with a mug of coffee, cocoa, or glass of wine and a fabulous novel. Have a great December :)

Tuesday, November 30, 2010


I've been missing Oregon lately. I think some of the best times I ever had there were of sliding down 8th street hill and building snowmen in the winter.

Today, I was looking through my GPS and had selected a specific coffee shop to stop at before continuing on to my next high school. I was unable to find the one I selected. Grumpily, I turned around hoping to find a little kiosk somewhere to satisfy my craving. Then: Serendipity.

Serendipity means to make a positive discovery by accident. Serendipitously, I found Serendipity, the coffee shop, in Dickinson. I walked in and fell in love. They serve delicious wraps, too. It's located on the corner of Dickinson State University's campus.

I felt like I was in Oregon again. The interior has bold, basic colors and there's plenty of seating. A large menu for food and coffee is located at the front counter, and coffee-related art adorns the walls.

I Googled it. is the link for the website. Come to find out, the coffee shop was inspired by a local family's time spent in Oregon. They loved Oregon coffee shops so much, they wanted to bring that quality back to Dickinson, where they are originally from.

In the meantime, I feel like I am home, thanks to Serendipity.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Sarah's Key

Hello, Readers! I hope you're all having a great Sunday, curled up with a good book and coffee! I know I have been!

This morning I just completed reading Sarah's Key by Tatiana de Rosnay. If you do not already have this book on your reading list, I highly recommend you put it on there! The novel (which has an amazing, innovative plot) tells two tales that merge into one. The reader is first introduced to Sarah, a ten-year-old girl in Paris, 1942. The French police, by orders of the Gestapo, are rounding up Jews in the area to bring to Auschwitz. Confused and trying to protect her younger brother, Sarah locks him in a hidden compartment in the wall of their bedroom and promises she will return. When she is brought to the Vel' d'Hiv', she discovers that she won't be able to return to save her brother. I won't spoil that story any more for you.

The other main character the reader is introduced to is Julia, an American journalist married to a Parisian. She is reasearching the Vel' d'Hiv' for an article she's assigned to write, only to find that her husband's family is connected to Sarah, the ten-year-old Jewish girl. I won't go into detail on that, either.

What's important is that you know this novel has a wonderful story line and is a very fast-paced read. I had difficulties putting it down! If you're looking for a Christmas gift for anyone with interest in WWII, this may be right up your alley, too! I purchased it from for just under $6, so it's available for a good deal!

Rating: 9/10
Pages: 293
2010 Reading Goal: 9,916/10,000

I am now just pages shy of reaching my 2010 reading goal for this year, woo hoo! And I'm finishing up another novel (just under 200 pages) that will get be there pretty soon! If you haven't already, please vote in my poll for what my page goal for 2011 will be. I've noticed on my statistics (yes, I can creep on my audience like that) that I'm getting several new readers. For those of you who are new to my blog, welcome! I should probably clue you in about the page goals, too. Every year, I set a certain number of pages I'll be reading. This year the goal is 10,000 pages. Next year, I will be increasing that amount, but need your help with what the new goal should be. You can vote in the poll at the bottom of my page. It closes sometime in the middle of December, I think.

Anyway, I have to get packed up to travel (again!) in the yucky weather. Thanks for reading!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

I don't like titles...

...because I feel they pigeon-hole my thoughts. For example, if I title my blog "Starbucks Coffee," it will be your expectation that I discuss Starbucks coffee somewhere in my blog. Well, I don't want to talk about it. I may never make a title again.

This is what I woke up to this morning. Look. It's all gray and white and gross outside. You know what that means? I'm going to stay inside aaaallllllllll day...drinking coffee, hot chocolate, blogging, and, I'm sure, reading. I could clean, but the garbage is outside and I want to avoid outside at all costs. Including the cost of a gross apartment. And I'm slightly lazy. This Weekend Warrior thing? I don't know that I'm cut out for it. Maybe there's a reason I wasn't bred to be a Weekend Warrior. Maybe it's because I'm such a great blogger :P and should concentrate all my energy on that. Kidding.

I heard that sigh of relief, audience!

It is quite drafty in my room and I was planning to get some curtains today for my bedroom. But 2 inches of snow?!?!? Not worth leaving unless it's necessary to survival. I'm a pansy like that. I do worry, though, about Max. Max is my iMac. He sits right by the drafty window, in spite of this gross weather. Poor Max. Those curtains were mainly being purchased for him. Maybe I'll have to brave the weather anyway.

Just so you know, I don't really have anything specific to talk about today, so if you're looking for a point to this blog, please stop trying, and perhaps close this tab. I have a feeling this will go on and on forever. Or until my coffee is done brewing, whichever event comes first.

So I bought this great candle at Target on clearance (only $3.24, woo hoo!) called "Warm Caramel Apple". It is amazing. If you live near a Target, please go out and get one right now! And buy one for me, too, because mine's almost gone :(

My coffee is done brewing. Yet, unsurprisingly, I am not done talking--er, blogging. Lucky for you readers, right? Seriously, you have no obligation to continue reading. I actually recommend against the continuation of reading this blog. It will waste your entire day. Or morning. Or whenever. Because I'm good at talking. I get paid to talk. It's a glorious life, don't ya think?

How soon is too soon to begin writing New Year's resolutions? I usually have mine ironed out around Christmas day, but this year I have the urge to develop them early. Is that socially acceptable? I don't care. I'm doing it. I'm excited for a New Year. Not that this one hasn't been great, I just know there will be lots of exciting changes happening next year. This year's excitement is almost over :(

My hands are freezing as I'm typing this. Maybe I do need to brave the snow and buy a curtain for this room. Or maybe, I'll just brew more coffee and cling tightly to the mug to warm up my fingers.

I think I'm done blogging for now. I'm going to surf and creep around on the internet, but I may be back. This may be the blog that never ends. I feel sorry for my readers right now. I hope you haven't actually continued reading this far, in spite of my desperate attempts to deter you from doing so.

Have a great Saturday!

This is me. As a velociraptor.
UPDATE: I did make it to the store. I even went 35 mph at one point. It was just snow, no ice, so everything was ok. I was able to get my curtains and the new curtain rod. The curtains surprisingly perfectly match my teal bedding.  This made me very happy. They're also still the block-all-sunlight-and-cold-and-heat-and-velociraptors kind. Well, there isn't a guarantee on the package that they block velociraptors, but I wouldn't be surprised if they did. They'll at least block you from seeing them out your window!

Speaking of raptors, I've been Reah da Raptor all around my apartment today. All alone. It makes me feel like a doofus, but at least I'm happy! Also, slightly overcaffeinated. While at the store, I discovered the most wonderful product known to man:

Coffeemate Peppermint Mocha Coffee Creamer!!!

So, naturally, when I arrived home, I had to try it. With coffee. And it tastes so good, so much like a real peppermint mocha latte, that I can't stop drinking it! And I don't have decaff coffee (because, let's face it, what is the point of that?!?!), so I'm getting perhaps a little too wound up right now.

So...I'm sure I'll be back on here soon enough. Or raptor running through your neighborhood.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Sula's cold here! And it was cold and snowy in Montana this past week, when I was traveling for work! I love traveling for my job, but am ready to take a break as this harsh winter weather moves in.

Earlier this week (as in Sunday night--I'm such a slacker!) I completed Sula by Toni Morrison. It really is as good as everyone says. The theme of good vs evil prominent in the novel was driven home through very realistic situations, even though the novel itself is fiction.
Rating: 8/10
Pages: 274
2010 Reading goal: 9,623/10,000 pages--ALMOST THERE!

Reflecting on my overall choice of novels in comparison to college-bound reading lists (ha ha remember those?!?! who would have thought that they would really impact you the rest of your life?!?!?), I'm reminded that I need to incorporate books with larger societal impacts. I have the desire to read them, but never seem to pick them up in bookstores. Two that have been at the top of my list since high school: Catch-22 and 1984. I still haven't gotten around to reading either of them, but did recently acquire Catch-22, so that may be coming up in my blog sometime soon. The other ones that were up there that I've read recently were Slaughterhouse Five and Fahrenheit 451 (which is AMAZING, by the way).

Sula brings me 377 pages shy of my reading goal for this year. I'm debating about next year's goal, so please vote in my poll if you've got an opinion about how many pages I should read for 2011.

I hope you all have a great weekend full of warm blankets, hot cocoa, and a good book :)

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Weekend Warriors

How are Weekend Warriors bred?

You know who Weekend Warriors are. They come into work on Mondays and have managed to deep-clean their whole house, weed their garden, paint a bedroom, do all their grocery shopping for the week, experiment with a new baking item, bring their kids to the park for a few hours, get a couple hours in at the gym, go out to dinner and a movie with their spouse, and read a 600-page novel? I'm lucky if I can accomplish one of those tasks in a weekend.

How do these people become like that? Is it a gene in them, or the way they were raised?

In regards to housecleaning, I think of my best friend growing up: every Sunday morning, the whole family would deep-clean the house. It usually took about three hours, with all five of them working on it. There were no playdates or phone calls allowed during this time, only cleaning. It fascinated me. Their house was always spotless, and on weekdays they picked up regularly.
My upbringing was slightly different: it was on a case-by-case basis. As in, when the house is messy, clean it up. Sure, sometimes it would get messier than we had realized, but we would spend an afternoon cleaning it like crazy. My mom also liked to incorporate at least one larger project, like cleaning out the kitchen cabinet. Everyone would deep clean the house, then work to purge what's in the cabinet. In all honesty, that cabinet was lucky to have been gone through once a year. I also remember frantically cleaning before any guests came over, or before going on a trip anywhere.

Flash forward to the future: I know this best friend of mine still loves a clean house. Whether she's stuck to the Sunday routine or not, she stays on top of all cleaning for her house and it's always pretty clean. I, on the other hand, go through stages. I let things wait until I'm either motivated enough to clean or it starts to smell (ha ha...kidding?). Or, should I have the threat of anyone coming over, that's motivation enough to clean.

This analysis with these two situations tells me that Weekend Warriors are not bred, but rather learn from the environment around them. The question now is, is it possible to retrain yourself to become a Weekend Warrior if you've never been one? It can't be that easy to convert, since I only know of a handful of people I'd consider to be Weekend Warriors.

I suppose the first step would be to quit blogging and finish cleaning my living room. Is there a book I can get on this? Becoming a Weekend Warrior for Dummies kind of book? Ha ha ha not likely...but I'm going to just in case...

Saturday, November 13, 2010

North Dakotan

Yesterday, I changed my residency: I am now officially a North Dakotan.

I'm filled with bittersweet feelings on this subject. I have a passion for Montana and everything it stands for. I miss it a lot, even though I'm only 20 miles away. But ultimately, this change reflects a new stage in my life. I really love my job, enough to sacrifice my MT residency. Maybe this just means I need to spend some time reflecting on my values. I don't know that I've been able to comprehend yet that I will always be a Montanan at heart, in spite of what drivers license I hold. Until I was actually in college, I had never thought I'd want to live in Montana forever. I had imagined I'd eagerly trade my license in for an Alaska, Washington, or Oregon license upon graduation. Things change, though, I guess.

Work is going well, but definitely keeping me busy. This week was really nice because we got a holiday on Veteran's day, so the campus was closed. That was my day to play catch-up, and now I feel like I can actually breathe. Thank goodness.

Next week I get to see my family in my hometown. I haven't seen them in 3 months, so it will be nice to visit. I'm traveling for some college fairs, then will return to my hometown for Thanksgiving the following week. Woo hoo!

In other news, I would like to recognize two very special people in my life who have birthdays today. My mom, who has been an inspiration to me in every aspect of my life. And Yahtzee, the best roommate I've ever had. HAPPY BIRTHDAY!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Daylight Savings

Daylight Savings has saved me! It's like a gift from Father Time, allowing us to play catch-up. Sure, it can be a pain in the butt in the spring, but it's such a blessing come fall.

Thanks to daylight savings, I was able to wake up earlier, get out of bed, and be super productive! I did all my laundry (which has been piling up far too long) and put it all away. I thoroughly cleaned my kitchen and bathroom, and even went to work for 3 1/4 hours. I'm pretty proud of myself for not working all weekend. I get so consumed in my work that I often wear myself out and become less and less productive. I left my work at work and enjoyed the weekend without the everyday stress of work. I also got to chat with Matty for a long time via Skype last night. I'm so excited spend Christmas with him and his parents--just over a month until I get to see him again!

The only problem with my weekend? Toni Morrison is sitting on my nightstand, pouting. I haven't even touched Sula all weekend. Essentially, that was my whole plan for the weekend. Sure, cleaning would have been nice, but a good book? Priority. I'd like to think I could get some reading done on the road, but that's a joke. I've only gotten as far as taking my book out of my bag and setting it on the nightstand. Working 10+ hour days doesn't really leave one in a condition to pick up a book while in a really comfy bed...

This week I'll be driving a fair amount, since there are no vacancies anywhere in Minot (which is partially my fault, waiting until tonight to call for a reservation Tuesday). I'll just come home. Oh, and it's going to snow Tuesday night. Figures. Audiobook? Either James Patterson's Roses are Red or Kathy Reich's Bones to Ashes. Either way, I suppose I'll be deeply entranced and not even notice the long drive or the icky weather. Or maybe just sleep in my car (half-kidding).

Now: time to connect with some very important people in my life. And maybe Toni, too ;)

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Book Junkie

Welcome to Saturday. I hope it's going well for all of you. As usual, nothing is crossed off my to-do list, but my coffee is delicious and I've spent the morning curled up with a good book, as though that justifies my smelly dishes scattered throughout the apartment.

I wonder: at what point will I need a book intervention? I'm not even kidding. I get such a high off books and reading that I'm surprised there hasn't been an intervention yet. I suppose it may not happen until I start becoming a hoarder and skipping work to read (which, ideally, is not in my future). As a hoarder, my apartment would be a complete pigsty--except for my books, neatly organized by size in my decluttered bookcase :D

I was wandering around on blogs on this site (, and found lots of people who blog their book reviews. Not only that, but they're sent the books by publishers and authors for an honest review. They also post the reviews on sites like for non-bloggers to read. Sometimes, they'll also be mailed extra copies of the novel to do give-aways for the readers of their blogs. The reviewers appear ridiculously swamped, though, and several of them had postings on their sites that they are not accepting any more books to review for the next 6 months or so, until they get caught up. I'm not going to lie, I'm extremely envious of these bloggers. I want that job! Ah, if only I had the time and an opinion everyone wanted to hear...

In my wanderings, I discovered different pages I can have within my blog site, so I finally was able to create a list of my books I've read. I know I've had lots of friends beg me for my book reviews (and I'm giving them away FREE! :P), so I've posted my books I've read, along with the rating I've given them. There isn't a method to my rating system, so beware that I may have enjoyed one book I gave a score of "7" to over another book I gave a score of "7" to, but I found qualities in them that proved worthy of the same score. ANYWAY, if you scroll up the page, under the title and description of the blog, there is a label called "Book Reviews," which is where you can access that list. I'll try to keep it updated as I complete my novels. Don't forget, too, that you can vote on my 2011 page goal at the bottom of the page. I'm closing that poll December 15th.

Speaking of completing novels, I just finished probably one of the best audiobooks ever. It was long, yes, but not once was it boring. The book was Drop Dead Beautiful by Jackie Collins. In the beginning, the reader is introduced to so many characters that it's hard to keep them straight. As the story continues, we're able to see how the lives of each of these individuals is somehow connected. We learn secrets, lies, and plans for each character, all impacting the lives of the other main characters. This audiobook was so engrossing that I wasn't able to wait until Monday's drive to finish it. For the first time to date, I brought the audiobook home with me to complete it; it was THAT GOOD. For anyone looking for a suspenseful novel (not scary at all, though), this is definitely at the top of the list. Had I read it, I'm sure I wouldn't have been able to put it down. Overall score: 10/10.

Also, today marks the 22nd birthday of my best friend, Jessie Mae. I love her to pieces and wish I could be there with her and a bottle of Two Buck Chuck to celebrate :P  Happy Birthday, Jessie Mae!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Dr Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

It seems as though the only time I can ever write is late at night, when I'm feeling really restless. I don't mean writing like blogging, I mean working on one of my novels. I wonder if that's normal? I had always pictured authors to be a little neurotic, maybe that's where this is coming from. I assumed they did not get up until around 10 AM. In the early afternoon, they would research and drink and endless supply of coffee (ha ha can you now see why I always wanted to write?!?! Kidding!). Their writing would go deep into the evening, and occasionally into the wee hours of the morning. You could walk by their office to find them with a cup of coffee in hand, squinting at the screen, and pounding away furiously at the keyboard, as if the thoughts won't be committed to paper if they don't get written NOW. They would crawl into bed around dawn, and repeat the cycle, day in and day out.

I only wonder this because I don't know that I've ever had a stream of consciousness as thorough as I do in the wee hours of the morning. During the day, when I look at my writing, I'm always slightly astonished at how good--or at least, professional--it sounds. Somehow, it all just comes to me when I'm writing at night. However, when I try writing during the day, my delete key gets all the exercise, and I maybe have written one sentence by the end. Maybe I've got some Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde thing going on...

I'd be curious to find out how published authors write, and if it's anything like I had imagined. Being a full-time writer? THAT would be a dream come true. But in the meantime, I'll have to settle for these early morning hours, writing 3-4 pages here and there, in hopes to eventually complete one of my books and have it published.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Northern Travels

Earlier this week I went to Canada. It was the first time I'd been up there in at least 10 years, but probably more. It was great, don't get me wrong, but I was ready to come back down to the States (mostly because I was roaming and can't live or work without my cell phone). Here are some awesome qualities our neighbors to the north possess that I wish we would embrace:
  • Kilometers: I don't know why we insisted on creating our own system, but we did. Metric system=much better, much more universal, and more logical.
  • Beautiful hotel rooms: I stayed at a Super 8 and a Travelodge, both of which were HIGHLY impressive. Granted, I paid about double what I would in the States, but they were really, really nice. Also, my room at the Travelodge had a 50" plasma LCD tv.
  • Continuing the "grading" system: when we're kids, we grow up with a logical grade to describe our year in school ie 1st grade, 2nd grade, 3rd grade, etc. For whatever reason, when we get to high school, we switch to calling them freshman, sophomore, junior, and senior. In Canada, they are simply grade 9, grade 10, grade 11, or grade 12. What is a sophomore anyway? What does that actually mean?
  • Friendly border patrol: I seriously thought for a moment I might not be allowed back into the States. It was highly suspicious that I was only in Canada for 2 days for work. No worries, though, I made it back.
  • Tolerance of distance: driving 4 hours appears to be no big deal. Sometimes when I tell people we're 4 hours away, the look on their face is as though I told them we only accept students with a bright green mohawk that stands at least 16 inches tall. Yeah, their eyes get THAT big.
I put in a lot of hours this week (a 14 hour day yesterday alone) and am ready for a night off. The good news is that I was able to finish 2 audiobooks and make it about halfway through another one.

One of the books was Something Blue by Emily Griffin. It's a decent novel: predictable, but not too bad. The most fascinating part of it was that I was able to despise the main character throughout the entire book, which I don't think was Griffin's intention. I found the main character to be self-absorbed, egotistical, and narcissistic. Originally, this is the impression the author wants readers to get. However, by the end of the novel, their opinion is supposed to change to find the main character to have undergone complete change from the inside out.
My rating: 5/10

The other book I completed was the second novel in Steig Larsson's short-lived series, The Girl Who Played with Fire. It was just as good as the first one in the series, but I am definitely left craving more. I just hope I don't feel this way after the next one in the series, The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest. Steig Larsson, who had intended for the series to extend to 10 novels, died after these 3. I'll be so upset if the next one leaves me hanging! I think I'll be purchasing the next one in the series through my account, since I'm sure I'll be getting 22 more hours in on the road!
My rating: 10/10

Also, as far as page goals go, I figured out how to put a poll on my blog, so you can vote for my 2011 page goal simply by scrolling down and clicking whichever goal you think would be best! It doesn't make you log in or give any information, either, for you creepers out there :P

On a random note, on Saturday I finished painting all the main areas of my apartment in a streak of motivation. I finished it all on Sunday, and now I feel pretty satisfied coming home to a semi-finished apartment. Now all I need to do is clean it. Too bad I can't find where I left last week's motivation...

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Snickerdoodle Coffee

No more cheap coffee for me! Yay!

I have Starbucks coffee, but my coffee grinder broke about a month ago and, instead of driving all the way to WalMart to buy a new one, I simply picked up cheap, ground coffee from Albertson's. Therefore, I was never drinking good quality coffee--not on the road, and not at home. Saddest story in the world, verdad?
So last week, when I was in Bismarck, I picked up a new Mr. Coffee brand coffee grinder. I also purchased some snickerdoodle coffee beans from a local coffee shop. This morning I freshly ground the snickerdoodle coffee beans, and don't know I've tasted anything better and more satisfying within my month without fresh, quality coffee.

I've also managed to finish this week's book: Cross by James Patterson. He's done it again. I get so engrossed in his novels that they're quick reads and always leave me hungry for more of his literature. This particular novel launches a series of investigations into Alex Cross' wife Maria's murderer. It's almost a mini-series within the Alex Cross series itself, because the others are much more stand-alone novels. Cross is the foundation for Patterson's newer novels. In case you're interested, here's how the Cross series looks:
Cross (becoming a movie in 2011 or 2012)
Double Cross
Cross Country
Alex Cross's Trial
I, Alex Cross
Cross Fire (this one will be released in November of this year)

Lately Patterson's gotten into the habit of threatening to kill off Alex Cross in a novel, should he not sell enough of his books. I'm intrigued by this, and whether popularity will be the end of Alex Cross or not.

Random tangent, sorry. This novel brings me up to 9,449/10,000 pages for the year. I've only got 551 pages left and I'll have completed my goal!

I'm already trying to figure out where I should set my reading goal for next year. For those of you who don't know, I was inspired by a former boss (arguably the best boss I've had, but certainly one of the most influential) who sets page goals every year. Her page goals are significantly higher than mine, but I think it's best I set them to around where I feel most comfortable.
In 2006, my page goal was 2,500. Talk about starting small. I read 7,038 pages that year.
In 2007 and 2008, I read such a negligent number of books that I didn't even bother recording them. Tragic, I know.
In 2009, my goal was to read 10,000 pages. I failed, reading only 6,532 pages. When it came to choosing a page goal for 2010, I had thought about making it only 8,500 so it would be manageable. But then I realized I would never grow if I kept accommodating my handicaps. After all, my parents always told me I could do anything I put my mind to (best advice ever!).
Thus, in 2010, I created a goal of 10,000 pages. I believe it's very realistic I'll accomplish that goal by December 31.
Here's what I'm thinking for 2011's page goal:
11,500 pages
12,500 pages
14,000 pages
But I can't decide which one would be best. I guess I'll figure that out as the time draws closer. Every 1,000 pages added is approximately 2-4 more books, and I've already burned through 27 this year.
Well, comment if you'd like to help me out with this poll to choose next year's page goal.

I hope you all have a lovely weekend and that you, too, have the pleasure of curling up with delicious coffee and literature.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Midwestern Moron

I have decided I should make "Midwestern Moron" a screen name, because I sure feel like one right now! I left for the week and didn't turn my heat on. Now my apartment is freezing. Honestly, I'm pretty sure there was fog in my apartment when I came home.

It doesn't really help that I don't quite understand yet how to work my heater. It gets really really hot in my apartment. I don't know if there's no temperature regulator or what. Man, do I feel like an idiot. The heat's probably 20 years old, and I'm so dimwitted when it comes to the most simple things.

The week traveling went well. Snowy. Eww. But overall not too bad. Wanna know what is bad? I dread Fridays. How terrible! Not even kidding, though. There's so much I can't do while I'm on the road and meetings I need to be in, so everything gets scheduled for the one day I'm back. It's typical for me to work at least 10-12 hours on a Friday, with no lunch. Sickening.

Tomorrow is Friday. My stomach is churning with anxiety. Can I call in sick? I try to take Saturdays off, but because of that usually end up putting in at least 4-6 hours on Sunday. Then I pack. I leave again. Trust me, I love my job, but I could really use a break right now. Maybe a weekend--one full weekend-- off from work.

ha ha ha ha ha...I believe it'll be months before I make it to that point.

Also, I found a coffee shop in Bismarck-- called "Coffee Break"-- that charges $2.00 for 30 minutes of internet. WHAT?!?!?

It should be illegal for coffee shops to charge for internet. Especially when it's $4.00 an hour! If I ever become ruler of the world--which, unfortunately, is not likely--coffee shops will all have free wireless internet for customers. Also, time zones will change on state borders only, so I do not mess up again when visiting Bowman, ND.

In spite of my dreadful, torturous Fridays, I hope you all have a fabulous day tomorrow. Stay warm and TGIF!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Life's Little Blessings

Today began crummy, and, until an hour ago, I didn't think it had gotten much better.

Here were my plans for the day: I was going to wake up refreshed, alive, and radiating. I would visit my first scheduled high school, then grab coffee at a local coffee shop, where I would get a few items crossed of my to-do list (namely the ones that are plaguing me). At eleven, I would visit my second high school. Following, I would grab lunch at an adorable downtown cafe and stay for a while, sipping on black coffee and crossing off several tasks on my to-do list. I would spend the late afternoon shopping at the mall across from my hotel, and relax in my hotel room, lazily reading, until I dozed off.

This most definitely did not happen.

For starters, I really couldn't fall asleep last night. I am currently running on 3.5 hours of sleep, which is a lot less than I would like, considering I was in bed by 9:00 last night. So, I awoke with minimal sleep and a positive outlook for the day. Until I went into my hotel bathroom. I saw a spider. I know, I know, how girly. But wouldn't bother me so much had it been in my own home, but this is a hotel. And I'm staying in it a second night too. It just put a slight damper on the day. Not that I wore my Negative Nancy mood on my sleeve, but deep down, under the smile, was a case of the Mondays.

I visited my first high school. Nobody showed up, but I had a really great conversation with the very, very nice counselor. I left earlier than anticipated, and was eagerly awaiting visiting a local coffee shop. I went to two, both of which were closed. That's silly; what coffee shops don't open until 9:00?!?!?!? Before I arrived at the second shop, I thought I heard a little bit of a thumping noise coming from one of my driver's side tires. When I got out, I looked, and everything looked fine. I didn't hear any whistling of air coming out of the tires or see any flatness, so I continued on my merry way.

I was disappointed I wouldn't be able to visit a local coffee shop, and accepted my fate at the glorious Starbucks. As I was on my way, a light came on in my state car, informing me I had low tire pressure. I pulled over at the closest gas station to discover I had NO tire pressure in my front driver's side tire! It was completely flat! I put air in it, and stood back satisfied. Freak accident, no big deal.

Less than one minute later, it was flat again. I couldn't believe it. I felt around and, sure enough, there was a decent-sized hole in the tire, perhaps the size of a nail, which I suspect may have been the case. I called my boss, who told me to notify the state fleet people and get someone to help me out. Upon calling, I discovered I would have to change the tire myself, and they would give me the address of a shop I needed to bring it to in order to get a new tire put on. I was disappointed, but began removing items from my trunk and hoping I could remember how to change a tire. AAA was a minute's phone call away, when my cell rang. The guy on the other end offered to drive over to help me change the tire. HOW NICE!!! Not only did Jon help me change the tire, but he brought me to the tire store, and offered me another state fleet car to use in the meantime. Thanks to him, I was able to visit my second high school (and arrive on time), and fix my attitude.

I realized that I was looking at the day as an annoying Monday, and forgot to count my blessings. Here they are:
1) Jon proved to me that there are always nice people in this world, willing to go out of their way to help a stranger. In North Dakota, there happens to be an abundance of them.
2) My boss, and my school, are so supportive of me, and I'm so lucky to work at a place I love.
3) Unlike most days, I only had two schools to visit today. I didn't have to rush from one place to the next or have anxiety at the idea of not making it. It is what it is.
4) I am in a city, near civilization, not on a tire trail, in the middle of a field, smack dab in the middle of the Fort Peck Indian Reservation (long story).
4) I have met some truly amazing individuals in my travels, both in my position and through my position.
5) In spite of it being the end of October and in spite of snow having been forecast for this week, today, it has only rained.
6) It may be a really bad hair day for me, but my outfit is really cute.
7) I still found a delicious local coffee shop, Mocha Mommas, and am enjoying a Caramel Apple Crisp Latte. I recommend the coffee shop, should you ever find yourself in Bismarck.

Thanks for listening to me rant. I hope this blog inspires you all to look at the blessings life has given you, turning your case of the Mondays into a case of the Fridays.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Returning to the Blogging Scene

Hello there! Welcome to my first blog in...a very long time.

Once upon a time (about 6 years ago) I had a blog and was really into it. Then, one day, I just decided, selfishly, that I didn't have time to commit my thoughts, dreams, and future to paper (er...textbox?) and simply gave up on blogging.

After 6 years of longing for my thoughts, dreams, and future to be recorded, I have returned to blogging, with the conviction that this blog will not be my last.

I woke up to a chilly, Midwestern morning and a freshly brewed pot of hazelnut coffee. I had finished yet another book last night, and eagerly scurried to my bookshelf, staring at the wondrous potential it holds. I stared in bewilderment, wondering what my next adventure would be. Would it frighten me? It is close to Halloween, after all. Would it make me cry? Laugh? Learn ways to improve my leadership and communication? I decided that I would instead journal. Pulling out my journal, I felt eager to record everything I desire and know. Then I got distracted. By Facebook. FAIL.

My hope in writing this blog isn't necessarily to appease my audience (sorry, guys), but rather to ensure that I am committing to writing in one form or another. So I welcome you all to join me, as I make my way through my 20s, A LOT of coffee, and bookshelves upon bookshelves of beautiful, life-changing novels.

P.S. This was my most recent read, completed as of last night. I rated it a 7/10, but to tell you the truth, I was slightly disappointed in Stephen King. For once, I did not get the anxiety deep in the pit of my stomach while reading one of his books, flipping to the next page with such eagerness.

I would recommend it, but not if you're looking for an authentic Stephen King thriller.

Also, an update on my page goal. This last novel brings me up to having read 9,056 pages of my 10,000 page goal. Almost there!