31 December 2010

Christmas 2010... Ho! Ho! Ho!

A quick recap of my Christmas this year-- one of the best in my opinion.  Though, as I've said, my seasonal spirit was nowhere to be found in the approaching days of the holiday, it was back for December 25th.  Christmas Eve was a big disappointment, but I'd like to stick with the positive and brush over that low point.  All of the Christmas enthusiasm I couldn't muster beforehand projected itself through the gift openings, laughter, sharing, and general merriment of the actual day.

Traditionally, the immediate family gathers at my parents' home, wakes somewhat early, opens gifts, eats breakfast, then heads out the door to my aunt and uncle's house to celebrate.  The routine remained the same with a few tweeks: we slept until 8. It was wonderful and relaxing.  

I love Christmas morning at my folks' place.  We wake up to the smell of coffee brewing and Breakfast Souffle baking in the oven-- a dish that epitomizes holidays.  Growing up, Mom made the souffle only on Christmas and Easter morning; twice a year, creating a magic for us children around this aromatic, incredibly tasty breakfast treat. It's a classic.  

And so, while the house fills with our traditional smells of Christmas, we gather downstairs in the living room, in our pajamas, and the kids open their stockings. Yes, we still have stockings filled with goodies and presents from Santa-- Mom never had the heart to break with tradition. As an adult, encouraging Santa Claus feels like encouraging the Spirit of Giving.  Obviously we are Christian and celebrate the birth of Jesus-- the greatest Gift of all-- but I love the youthful encouragement of generosity.

Once we finished rifling through the stockings and admiring the scent sprays, Starbucks cards, and treats Mom and Dad stuffed into them, the family moves to the Music Room.  There, we gather round our Christmas tree covered in ornaments collected and given throughout the years, each telling its own story or provoking a memory.  Of course, due to the plethora of gifts falling out from under the tree into the middle of the room, we spend five minutes passing out each package, and then my parents enjoy the surprised expressions lighting our faces as we rip the colored paper and toss the bows around.

After opening, admiring, thanking, eating, showering, and gathering, we pile into the mini-van then travel over the river and through the woods to Aunt Debbie's house.  Below is a photo of the tree and piles of gifts from everyone. Did I mention everyone agreed to no presents?  Don't let the picture fool you, though, most of these gifts are for everyone animals!

The 19 of us ate delicious food, phenomenal dessert from Jarosch Bakery (check out the site, people!), the women chatted, we played Apples to Apples, and the family sang carols.  And the LAUGHTER.  My extended family loves to laugh and boy did we giggle.  :)  

Overall, I am incredibly overwhelmed by the generosity from my parents, in-laws, siblings, and extended  family-- AMAZING.  Not only did God bless me with His Son and the ultimate Sacrifice, but I also get to celebrate the birth of Christ with a loving family.  

24 December 2010

Twas the Week Before Christmas...

Though I've been a bit of a Scrooge about Christmas this year, I would like to spruce up this blog with some festive photos.  We've been visiting my former stomping grounds, spending time with family and friends, visiting Chicago, and goofing off with the cat.  My spirits are still low and I am finding the normal Christmas routine just that-- a routine.  I think new traditions and experiences are in order, and I am looking forward to those we start with our future children.

 The 900 North Christmas tree... from the bottom.

 Fourth Presbyterian in Chicago.

 The manger at Christkindlmarket.

 Hand-painted ornaments from Germany-- at the market.

 Niko looking festive on his 3rd birthday.

 Watching the Christmas Eve snow.

The table for Christmas Eve dinner.

Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!

22 December 2010

Literary Canon

For the final in my English class, my professor assigned a literature canon for a group project.  To summarize: our group needed to define the term "literature,"interview a couple people on their personal definitions and a few recommendations, then create a canon that all English majors should read during their stint in college.

I have a much more liberal and, I feel, inclusive view of literature.  Although I have the utmost respect for those eternal authors and works attributed to the founding of the study known as "English," I feel the current repertoire for English students offers little in the way of other categories, such as Young Adult, Children's, Graphic Novels, etc.  This concept led to a lively (and somewhat annoying) debate during our presentation, especially since my professor has not (and will not) read Harry Potter and must argue against its presence on the Canon.  Ah well, to each his own.

Before I present the list in question, I must clarify that I haven't read most of these works and at least half of the works must be UNread by the entire group.  We are basing this off of research, recommendations and required readings from past English classes, and personal choice.  They are organized by categories and I am aware that most of the titles belong in multiple categories; however, the list would be redundant.

Here is the Canon for your perusal--

1000 B.C. to 100 A.D.  (World Literature)
Fables by Aesop (Moral Tales 6th Century B.C.)-- read
Oedipus Rex and Antigone by Sophocles (Greek Tragedy Plays 5th Century B.C.)
The Dialogues by Plato (Philosophy 4th Century B.C.)
Poetics and Ethics by Aristotle (Philosophy 4th Century B.C.)
Aeneid by Virgil (Epic 1st Century B.C.)
Metamorphoses by Ovid (Mythology 1st Century B.C.)
Lysistrata by Aristophones, play, 411 BC—read
The Illiad & The Odyssey by Homer, epic poem, 1194-1184 BC
Dante’s Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri, poem, 1555
The Bible by Various Authors, religious text, around 500 bc—read
Greek Myths (author unknown), folklore, 800-900 bc—read
Medea by Euripides, play, 431 b.c. – read

From 100 AD – 1200 AD
Beowulf by Anonymous, epic poem, 8th to 11th century— (a little)
The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis, fantasy, 1950-1956
Confessions and The City of God by St. Augustine (Theology 4th Century A.D.) 

From 1200-1500 A.D.
The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer, frame tale, 14th century—read
Sir Gawain and the Green Knight by the “Pearl Poet,” Middle English alliterative romance, 14th century
The Decameron by Giovanni Boccaccio (Allegorical Tales 1353) 

From 1500-1700 A.D.
Utopia by St. Thomas Moore (Theology 1516)
Paradise Lost by John Milton (Epic Poem 1667)
Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan (Theology 1678)
Don Quixote by Miguel De Cervantes, satire, 1615

From 1700-1900
Grimm’s Fairytales by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm, Folklore/ Fairytale, 1812
Hans Christian Anderson’s Fairytales by Hans Christian Andersen, Children’s Lit, 1835-1861—read
The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexander Dumas, adventure, 1844-1846
Candide by Voltaire (Philosophy 1752)
Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert (Novel 1857)
Les Misérables by Victor Hugo (Novel 1862)
War and Peace by Victor Hugo (Novel 1865)
Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky (Novel 1866)
The Three Musketeers by Alexander Dumas, adventure, 1844

From 1900- present
The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery, children’s lit, 1943
The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien, fantasy, 1937
The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien, fantasy, 1954
O Pioneers by Willa Cather (Novel 1913)
Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf (Novel 1925)
The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck (Novel 1939)
The Stranger by Albert Camus (Novel 1942)
Pnin by Vladimir Nabokov (Novel 1957) 

Women’s Literature
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, novel of manners/ satire, 1813—read
Persuasion by Jane Austen, romance, 1818—read
Little Women by Louisa May Alcott, drama, 1868
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë (Novel 1847)
Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë (Novel 1847)-- read

British Literature
A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, morality tale/ fairytale, Dec. 19, 1843
The Complete Works of William Shakespeare by W.J. Craig (and Shakespeare), playwright/ anthology, 1914 (and 16th century)—read
**Animal Farm by George Orwell, Dystopian/ political fiction/ social science fiction, June 8, 1949—read
The Adventures of Alice in Wonderland/ Alice Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll, fantasy, 1865-1871
Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, detective fiction/ mystery, Oct. 14, 1892
A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens, novel, 1859—read
Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray (Novel 1847)
Collected Works of Alfred Lord Tennyson (Poetry Mid 19th Century)
North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell (Novel 1855)
Around the World in Eighty Days by Jules Verne (Novel 1873)
Far from the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy (Novel 1874
War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells (Novel 1898)
1984 by George Orwell (Novel 1949)-- read
Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathon Swift, adventure/fantasy, 1726
Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson, adventure/ young adult, 1883

American Literature
Collected Works of Edgar Allen Poe, poetry/ horror, 19th century—read
The Prince and the Pauper by Mark Twain, realistic fiction/ children’s lit, 1882
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain, satirical novel, 1885—read
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain, folk/ satire/ children’s, 1876
The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne (Novel 1850)-- read
Moby Dick by Herman Melville (Novel 1850)
Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe, fiction novel, 1852
The Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane, war novel, 1895
Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe, fictional autobiography,1719

Collected Works of Robert Browning (Poetry Mid 19th Century)
Collected Works by Molière (Comedic Plays 17th Century)
The Poems of Robert Frost, poetry, 1894 to 1960’s-- read 
Collected Works of William Wordsworth (Poetry 18th -19th Century)-- read
Collected Works of Lord Byron (Poetry Early 19th Century)
The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde, comedy/ play, 1895
Collected Works of Jean-Jacques Rousseau (Philosophy 18th Century)
Collected Works of Ralph Waldo Emerson (Essays 19th Century) 
Collected Works of Henry David Thoreau (Essays 19th Century) 
Mrs. Miniver by Jan Struther, newspaper columns, 1939
Hedda Gabler by Henrik Ibsen (Play 1890)
Waiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett (Play 1949) 
Our Town by Thornton Wilder, play, 1938—read

Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling, Fantasy, June 30, 1997—read
Savvy by Ingrid Law, Children’s Lit/ Fiction, May 1, 2008—read
The Giver by Lois Lowry, soft science fiction, 1993—read
A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L’Engle, Young Adult, 1962—read
Pemberly Manor by Kathryn L. Nelson, fan fiction, Dec. 10, 2006—read
The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman, fantasy, Sept. 30, 2008—read
Batman: Arkham Asylum by Grant Morrison, graphic novel, 1989—read
The Watchmen by Alan Moore, graphic novel, Sept. 1986—read
Freedom by Jonathan Franzen, historical realism, Aug. 31, 2010
Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk, satirical novel, Aug. 17, 1996
The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini, novel, May 29, 2003
The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison, novel, 1970—read
Mystic River by Dennis Lehane, novel, 2001—read
The Boxcar Children by Gertrude Chandler Warner, children’s lit, 1924-- read
 The English Patient by Michael Ondaatje, historiographic metafiction, 1992
The Help by Kathryn Stockett, fiction/ novel, 2009
Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel García Márquez, Latin American novel, 1985

06 December 2010

Creative Writing: Dictionary of the Khazars Entry

After reading and analyzing The Dictionary of the Khazars by Milorad Pavic, my English professor assigned this writing project requiring the class to add our own entries to the dictionary. Let me give you a little background on the novel before you jump into the entry.

The Dictionary of the Khazars is a meta-fiction novel, meaning it's a fiction within a fiction. The main point of the "dictionary" is to explain why the Khazar people disappeared after converting to either Christianity, Judaism, or Islam. Made up of 3 books, the novel consists of entries within each book, some repeated throughout, that define and tell stories about the particular subject. That's the uber-simple version.

Honestly, I hated the darn thing. However, reading the book enabled me to realize I dislike meta-fiction-- there's always a lesson to be learned! If you haven't read the book, reading my entry will seem weird, make absolutely no sense (not that reading it helps much), and it will all seem "out there". But let me assure you: I received a 98 on the assignment and my teacher mentioned how well I captured Pavic's style and tone. So there.

My entry--

Van der Spaak, Manuil (1979 to ?)— Hebrew devil and the son of Mr. and Mrs.Van der Spaak, the former an excellent white tortoiseshell instrumentalist and the latter a talented left-handed painter, a renowned aristocratic Belgian family; innocent murderer of Dr. Abu Kabir Muawia. Referred to by some as “the most beautiful little boy ever seen,” Manuil possessed the loveliest face worn by a person in three centuries, with milk-white skin and eyes like opals under the water on a sunny day. The face resembled a porcelain mask meticulously painted by his mother from right to left so as not to smudge the delicate features of her precious little one. Though cut short, his black hair gave the distinct impression that it wanted to be longer and was missing its better half, amputated as a sacrifice to a fallen friend. As a boy and a man, Manuil loved all things red, blue, and yellow; during his infancy he ate only foods of those colors but expanded his palette at the age of one when he made a conscious decision to mature. Also, he had a particular affinity for chocolate milk—the darker the better—and enjoyed dipping soft bread into his ice-cold glass.
Reports from those close in proximity to the family say the boy had two thumbs and no pinkies on each hand. No matter the occasion, season, or time of day, Manuil was never seen without the black leather gloves which meant he never had paper cuts, and it was rumored he wore them while he slept. Because his mother painted on every surface within her reach, the gloves were covered with brightly painted red, blue, and yellow Hebrew symbols and ancient Khazar designs, and Manuil often used his gloves to interpret his dreams. Once, he dreamt of a deep blue river of tears flowing up a waterfall with purpose and into a gaping mouth at the edge of a red mountain. Along the river stood white reeds, tall and menacing, and he used a jagged dagger to cut them down and collect the milky sap from their stems to gather strength. As he reached the mountain, a man lie dying, blue blood spilling from his head and around his neck, a gorgeous smile of perfect teeth on his face, his black eyes reflecting time and the universe. Manuil knew at once that he had killed the man though he had no idea why; he closed the man’s cosmic eyes, laying a yellow Ornithogalum umbellatum across his mouth. When he awoke, the boy searched his gloves for the meaning of such a dream but found only the little yellow flower on the tip of his right index finger.
In 1982, at the age of almost four, Manuil went on holiday with his parents to Istanbul and stayed at the Kingston Hotel during the conference about cultures of the Black Sea. One particularly balmy morning as his family breakfasted in the sunny corner of the hotel courtyard, Manuil noticed a lovely middle-aged woman with red eyes enjoying mint tea in the windy corner of the courtyard and he so approached her. Though he recognized her, Dr. Schultz recognized nothing of the boy’s features but still found him pleasant enough when he kissed the ring finger of her left hand. Everyday Manuil visited the woman, bringing the doctor his zaddik to smoke, watching her mouth release swirls of sad smoke that spoke of the past as she touched his hair with evident tenderness like old friends reuniting after years of estrangement.
On an October day with a red sunrise and white-hot conviction, Mr. and Mrs. Van
der Spaak left their son in the courtyard to find his way in life. Sipping chocolate milk, Manuil watched as Dr. Schultz resumed her usual table while clutching her handbag so close she was almost suffocating it while perspiring uncontrollably. Shortly after her entrance, Dr. Abu Kabir Muawia approached the doctor, sat down, and handed her a stack of papers that loosened her grip on the purse and swept away the beads of sweat almost instantly. As he sipped the milk and watched Muawia talk with passion—though about what he couldn’t understand—Manuil noticed the gleam radiating from his mouth. Muawia’s perfect teeth telling perfect lies. Suddenly Schultz left and the sunlight reflected against her gun hidden underneath the scattered papers. Manuil failed to notice Virginia Ateh, the Kingston Hotel waitress, standing in the background.
This is the dialogue taken from her witness statement of Dr. Schultz’s trial:
At once, Manuil approached Dr. Muawia and he asked, “Why don’t you remove your gloves, Boy?”
“Because this place makes me sick,” the boy answered. The doctor wanted to know what Manuil was sick of and he proclaimed, “Of your democracy!”
“What kind of democracy?”
“The kind you and your ilk protect. Look at the results of this democracy of yours. Before, big nations used to oppress small nations. Now it’s the reverse. Now, in the name of democracy, small nations terrorize the big. Just look at the world around us. White America is afraid of blacks, the blacks are afraid of the Puerto Ricans, Jews of the
Palestinians, the Arabs of the Jews, the Serbs of the Albanians, the Chinese of the Vietnamese, the English of the Irish. Small fish are nibbling the ears of the big fish. Instead of minorities being terrorized, democracy has introduced a new fashion: now it’s the majority of the planet that’s being burdened…. Your democracy sucks…”
Unable to respond, Muawia watched as Manuil retrieved Dr. Schultz’s gun from underneath the Khazar papers and aimed.
“Open your mouth so your teeth won’t be ruined!” And Dr. Muawia did as he was told. Manuil heard a scream from inside the hotel then fired one shot precisely through Muawia’s mouth, keeping his smile in tact.
Dr. Abu Kabir Muawia’s murder remains unsolved while Dr. Schultz—the initial suspect—went to prison for the murder of Dr. Suk. During her six-year sentence, Manuil wrote Dr. Schultz faithfully with a hand and tone the prison guards assumed belonged to his father. They corresponded until her death in 1988 on the day of her release. Though circumstances surrounding her passing remain a mystery, it was not a surprise to Manuil who had dreamt it a few days before and used his gloves to realize her death. His final letter containing one sentence was found in her hand the day she died in prison:
When we meet again, I will no longer be a man and you will recognize only my gloved hands with two thumbs on either side.
Manuil Van der Spaak did not attend her funeral as he was at the Interpol station with his parents in Bulgaria, sipping chocolate milk and coloring triangles with red, yellow, and blue crayons and going outside the lines only when someone said, “Jew.” Mr. and Mrs. Van der Spaak were being held for questioning in the disappearance of Virginia Ateh—waitress at the Kingston Hotel and accuser of Manuil in the death of Dr. Muawia. Mr. Van der Spaak claimed acquaintance with Miss Ateh and that he remembered she always served his ku scaled and tuned. When asked if he had taken and murdered Miss Ateh as revenge for her accusations against Manuil, Mr. Van der Spaak replied, “There is no time for foolishness when it is lovely weather for reptilian music,” and began playing furiously on his white tortoiseshell. Mrs. Van der Spaak said nothing and painted everything.
Having no evidence or witness against them, the Van der Spaak family joined the public once again, and it was at this point that Manuil decided to break away from his parents and make a life of his own. He was seventy in dog years and his porcelain face had become lined with questionable deeds and stolen innocence. After wandering into Romania, Manuil found himself in Transylvania at the traveling stand of a blind fortune teller who offered him a fortune by way of a palm reading. Although Manuil wore gloves, his mother’s paintings enabled his hands to have lines of flesh and so he paid the teller his fee of blood and a lock of hair. His fortune is as follows:
Your days grow short. Your nights grow long. Peace comes to those who learn nothing and know everything. Follow your footsteps back to the beginning.
Walking backwards, Manuil left Romania, went through Bulgaria, and was last seen in Istanbul with his back to the Kingston Hotel.

02 December 2010

About my Grandpa... Follow Up

In the early hours of Thursday, November 25, 2010-- Thanksgiving morning-- my Grandpa died.

I wish I could say I am sad, but that would be a lie. In his last days, Grandpa became grumpier, shouting at hospital staff and mocking his wife. No words of regret, no apologies. There was no realization of God-- he even requested no funeral and when asked if she wanted a minister at his private burial, Grandma replied, "what for?" This death was really a loss of life-- the life he ruined with bitterness and anger. Truthfully, he was dead long before he died.

Today his ashes were placed in the ground during a private ceremony where only his wife, three children, their three significant others, and two out of his four grandchildren gathered. No one offered to do the honors of placing his ashes in the small hole, and only his wife spoke a few delusional words in his memory.

This is hard. It's hard knowing of this loss and having the inability to feel it. To fully realize how little my own grandfather meant to me in life and death has struck me to the core, and I mourn the numbness I feel from his passing. However, I pray for his soul everyday because I fear it is in hell and I can't bear the thought of anyone being there for the rest of eternity. Never in my life have I thought anyone close to me who has passed on is not in Heaven, but in my grandpa's case... I don't know. I can only hope and pray.

There is a lesson here: Forgive. Love. Laugh. Share. And finally, never EVER take the people you love for granted and treat them poorly, otherwise no one will mourn your death and you will fall into nothingness.

28 November 2010

Thanksgiving: Here and Gone

As usual, the Holidays are flying by and time seems fleeting as we all gather with loved ones to celebrate joy, peace, and love. The moment from the day before Thanksgiving until December 25th is my absolute favorite time of year-- especially in the Midwest. Temperatures slide down below freezing and those magical little flakes of glistening white build up on the ground and create a world of magic.

And everyone is in a better mood. More smiles light faces, more "pleases" and "thank yous" leave those smiling lips, and God's presence flows through the Christmas lights, shiny ornaments, wrapped packages, and sugar cookies. We sing carols, decorate trees, shop for that perfect gift that'll bring just the right amount of joy to a friend's face, and I love every minute of it.

Although this world is harsh and life is hard, I am thankful for every breath and every step God gives me. For a husband who loves every inch of my mutated body, inside and out, not to mention all of my issues, and a cat with a quirky personality who (although he won't show it) misses us when we leave and loves when we come home. For family. I am blessed with the most incredible set of aunts, uncles, cousins, and immediate family members that a girl could ever want. Plus my Grandma... one of the most amazing women in the world-- I learn so much from her. And friends who share in the laughter, love, and embrace my weirdness with open arms.

I am thankful for continuing opportunities; for trials and tribulations that make me stronger; for enemies and the ability to pray for them; for hearth and home.

Most of all, I am grateful for God and the love He has introduced into my life. Happy Holidays.

13 November 2010

About my Grandpa...

Recently, I received news that my grandfather on my dad's side went to the hospital because he couldn't reach the living room from his bedroom without stopping for breath. As of today, he is in the ICU with a breathing tube-- technical medical terms are not my specialty-- and undergoing dialysis. My grandpa is well into his 80's (exact age is unknown because he and my grandma adamantly refuse to allow anyone to celebrate their birthdays), has suffered many health issues as of late, so this comes as no surprise that he is sick once again.

Although the doctors have yet to speak the words "he is dying," my dad and his siblings are preparing for the worst-- if you can honestly call it that.

You see, I don't like my grandfather. At all. While I harbor no actual anger or hatred toward him and do not wish him ill, I have no feelings of any kind in terms of my dad's dad. This numbness has bothered me over the past few days. Shouldn't I be sad? Shouldn't this turn my heart toward him in compassion and hope of redemption? Of course but... it won't happen. There is no love in my heart nor a place there for this man and I ask God to forgive me for it.

Whenever my grandfather comes up in conversation-- usually involving family drama-- I describe him simply:
"He's an asshole," I say with ironic laughter, "no, seriously, my grandpa is an asshole."

If only it weren't true. If only he hadn't yelled at me when I was a girl for taking my shoes off at his home. If only he hadn't constantly asserted his opinion as fact in every topic of conversation. If only he hadn't gotten worked up in conversations so much that he'd start yelling. If only he hadn't laughed at everyone else's mistakes. If only he hadn't acted superior to my grandma because of her alcoholism. If only he hadn't tried turning his children against each other. If only he hadn't treated my dad like the black sheep of the family. If only he had taken more of an interest. If only...

After years of my grandpa's emotional abuse, I decided to view his rude behavior with a sense of humor and stopped giving a shit. I mean, the man spent his summer sitting in the shadows on his porch yelling "get off my lawn!" to anyone who set foot on his grass! The people I feel the saddest for are my grandma, aunt, uncle, and dad-- they are the ones who truly endured my grandfather's abuse and his wrath the most. Thus, I see these casualties of a man bent on spreading misery and hatefulness in need of my prayers more than the man himself.

But of course, that's incorrect and this is where my dilemma comes to haunt me. Although the family most certainly deserves and needs prayer to heal and cope, the curmudgeon lying in the hospital blaming everyone but himself while going through life weighed down by grudges, anger, and hate without love needs my prayers the most. And so I am trying to work up the strength with the help of Christ to genuinely pray for a man incapable of loving.

06 November 2010


A few things I love about my Niko...

Every night he resumes guard duty, crouched down and bunched up facing the door with intent.

Niko loves to talk. A lot. We have long conversations with him almost every morning as soon as we're awake and he comes to investigate the conversation resonating from our bedroom.

He stepped on my face the other day and kicked my hubby in the eye once.

Give him a few treats and he'll love you forever.

I can't go to the bathroom and shut the door because he will cry and push it open. No privacy unless he says so.

My husband plays Hide-and-Go-Seek with him. Niko even meows before looking, as if to say "ready or not here I come!"

Even though he's not a lap cat, Niko climbs all over me early in the morning to make sure I feed him. If I don't get up right away he will sit on my shoulder or chest and stare me down.

He loves forts.

When my husband makes coffee, Niko jumps on top of the counter to help.

He eats my baking.

The second bedroom is Niko's room.

When playing he keeps his claws retracted.

Whenever Michael goes on the computer, Niko is right there sticking his kitty butt in my husband's face, begging for attention.

He will always be my little love.

04 September 2010

"Women Food and God"... and me.

I have just finished another Summer Reading List (now Fall Reading List) entry, the Oprah recommend book "Women Food and God." And actually, it was a breath of fresh air in the midst of a grueling weight struggle. I know I said I'd post entries for each chapter but... this is easier and less boring for you. All I can say is READ THIS BOOK.

No, I'm not filled with an overwhelming exuberance to toss out all junk food in my pantry, revamp my refrigerator, and run for two hours every day. Instead, I finished the book with a feeling of relaxation knowing this process (I will never say 'battle' again) will take time but will also be worth it in the end. I'm looking for a permanent solution to a lifelong problem, not a quick fix.

Basically, Roth's philosophy is eat whatever your body wants and stop beating yourself up about it. Obviously this is hard to explain if you haven't read the book. She believes the billion-dollar diet industry attributes its continued success by making people feel bad about themselves, telling them they have a problem, should be ashamed of themselves, and must fix it immediately. And I don't disagree with her-- haven't we all said those words to ourselves at one time or another?

The overall message is to love yourself and discover the underlying reasons for why you overeat, why you graze at the refrigerator, why you seem to bounce from one weight loss program to another. It's about understanding your body and feeding it the food that gives your body energy. Sure, in an example she uses in the book, you can eat hot fudge sundaes everyday but how does that make your body feel? Not YOU as in the "false self" you perceive as yourself, but your physical body. After you clear away "The Voice"-- that negative voice constantly putting you down and claiming you're a failure and will never change-- and what you think will make you happy, decide whether you can live with your body or not then go from there. Stop warring with your body, embrace it, nurture it, and everything will then fall into place. There is so much in the book I'd love to talk about but I have a feeling this blog will begin to ramble on and on.

Roth does have eating guidelines that she recommends using once a day and a starting reference, but it's all YOUR CHOICE. "The Voice" is my biggest hurdle because I'm constantly putting myself down and keep convincing myself I'll be happy once I'm thin. And yet, how many thin people do we all know with problems just like the rest of us? I do know that, disregarding any negative thoughts about myself and my supposed 'weakness,' I need to treat my body better and lose weight strictly for health reasons. I'm hoping to have a baby in a couple years and would be a high risk pregnancy at the moment-- definitely new motivation for me. Honestly, I'm also tired, feel sick almost everyday at some point, and have been subject to chronic headaches of late. After reading WFG, my priority isn't to put myself down but put the right foods my body actually craves into it. For example, I WANT NUTRIENTS! My body is screaming for fruits and vegetables, lean proteins, and lite dairy-- that's right, dairy! Soy milk as of late seems to be making me worse and I think that's due to the sugar.

Anyway, I'm taking notes in my journal as I go along to record aspects to a healthier lifestyle for ME. This, the Bible, and my book will be my references. This is what I have discovered so far--

1. I love walking-- a lot.

2. New music motivates me to pump up the volume and do an elliptical workout. With the right tunes I can end up being on there for 45 minutes and not even notice!

3. Starbucks grande lattes and mochas give me headaches, even with half the syrup. Time to switch to tall.

4. Starbucks iced unsweetened green teas are wonderful and refreshing. My body says YES!

5. When I go to the Bucks for a snack, skip the pastries and go for a KIND bar or sweet potato chips. The pastries aren't that good.

(I'm @ Starbucks right now that's why my rules are all about my favorite place)

6. Meditating is great! I think I might try doing it everyday.

7. Sodium is not my friend.

8. I heart the Body Gospel stretching workout!

9. As Starbucks is one of my favorite places to chill, I can't give it up and why should I? I haven't done anything wrong so I don't need to punish myself. It's up to me to figure out what my body likes and not what my brain says I deserve.

It's about time I love myself. Even when I lost weight at 20, I still felt like I needed to work harder and would punish myself if I didn't have a weekly loss. I think 25 years of degrading, negative, and mean hatred toward the woman in the mirror is long enough. I would NEVER treat my loved ones that way so why do I think I need to be treated that way?

"This time, baby, I'll be bulletproof."

28 August 2010

Now I'm not sayin' she's a gold digger...

Although I despise Kanye West-- I felt this way long before he embarrassed himself during the VMA's-- his song "Gold Digger" is... well... awesome. I love it. But it got me thinking, is it right to judge a woman deemed a 'gold digger?'

My immediate response has always been a resounding 'yes.' A social climbing woman interested only in a man's money and/or connections (sometimes power is worth more than coin) then marrying him as a result of it is selfish and low. Or is it? During the 18th and 19th centuries (well technically ALL of them before the 20th), marriages were arranged by families hoping to either elevate to or maintain a high social status, as well as add to property and wealth. They considered such marriages prudent and dutiful. Now these same sentiments inspire anger, negative judgement, and the idea that a woman who participates in 'gold digging' is one step away from prostitute.

Although I certainly agree that some Gold Diggers (men included) have the worst possible intentions, waiting for a spouse to die and making the rest of their existence hell until his/her passing, there are those individuals who look for a wealthier significant other for more practical reasons. First of all, security and comfort-- and don't we all want those? While society faults GD's for pursuing men with large bank accounts, we all strive for padded finances, spacious homes, nice cars, and the freedom to travel without huge budget restraints. A man or woman in possession of a prosperous career is a "catch."

Another sensible, or at least common, reason for desiring a baller is a better life. I'll use myself as an example. I have a great family and my parents worked hard to give my brothers and me a comfortable life with a few adventures scattered along the way. We had a comfortable home, clothes on our backs, food in our stomachs (plenty in mine), we even had a third car and cellphone for the 3 of us to share once we reached 16. However, our cousins had larger homes, bigger bedrooms (my brothers shared all of their life), more 'things,' and went to better schools. For all of my time spent in public school, our district was extremely poor with overcrowding, and yearly worries from the administration about eliminating the Arts programs (God forbid they consider cutting back on sports... but that's another discussion).
Now that I'm an adult and striving toward parenthood, I want to give my kids the toys & stylish clothes I couldn't have, a dream home that'll make a great party house, take them all over the world, and most of all a better education. Although I married my husband for a million better reasons than money-- I've got a Latin lover and devoted hubby all rolled into one for gosh sakes!-- one aspect that made him a more ideal man on paper was his potential toward greatness. I knew his confidence, strength, looks, and intelligence would take him far on whatever career path he chose. Does that make me a gold digger? Personally, no.

Overall, the point is we're so quick to judge before considering our own choices and the real reasons we make them. "Gold Diggers" exist and some have giant holes where their souls used to reside before selling them to the Devil, but many women and men just want security and a comfortable life. The number one cause for marital arguments is money, after all.

27 August 2010

Visits by Mom

Whenever Mom comes to visit, I always feel the need to arrange a bustle of activity to keep her occupied since she is bursting with energy. The result being our visits are always too short, and I've seen more of northern Wisconsin than I ever thought possible-- and it's not over yet. Of course, knowing or not knowing Mom, I should assure you every mini-trip is an adventure full of laughter (I should have abs of steel, we laugh so much).

Anyway, during Mom's latest trek up to 'Packerland,' she insisted we visit the Kristmas Kringle Shoppe and Galloway House in Fond Du Lac-- 45 minutes out of the way. Although I don't have any photos of the cute 'Shoppe,' let me assure you it was everything a Christmas shop should be, full of themed trees, shiny ornaments, lights galore, obnoxious carols playing over and over and over, the ever present Dickens Village, nic nacs, whats-its, and thing-a-mabobs.

However, the best part of this leg on our journey was my over-caffeinated, bubbly Mother's failing attempts at entertaining our Scrooge of a Cashier ringing up her ornament purchase. As Mom gathered her items, she purposely turned to Ebenezer's female counterpart and exclaimed, "Merry Christmas!" If looks could kill Mom would have been vaporized.

On to Galloway House! As I am far from a shutter bug, here's a smattering of photos from our odd venture at a historical landmark. It took us maybe an hour to do the entire thing-- we're not a family of readers when it comes to museum displays and markers. Once, we did Chicago's entire Field Museum in two hours, a record of which we are quite proud.

These mannequins haunt my nightmares. And the creepiest part was some of them would be hidden in displays and more than once scared the crap out of us. Not to mention the fluorescent lights were on timers, so every time we entered a creepy old building the lights would flash on with that eerie buzzing noise you hear in serial killer warehouses of horror movies.

The historical town made up of relocated old buildings. I have a thing for any old church, but my favorite are stone.

Mom at the old cabin.

Another view of the old cabin. I don't know how they did it back then.

Galloway House: Wide Shot

Galloway House: Tall shot so you can see the tower.

Mom's attempt at pole dancing...?

At this point, Mom's camera had run out of batteries and she really liked this train so I helped her out.

Church altar.

Inside the women's clothing store. I dig this dress.

But this one is my favorite and probably what my wedding dress would've looked like if I was skinny enough to pull it off. It's just so pretty!

One Luxurious Anniversary

According to my mother and her decades old trusty address book, the traditional 3rd Anniversary Gift is leather. Keep that in mind considering neither of us knew that when we chose each other's gifts.

For our marriage celebration this year, I decided to purchase Hubby a nice briefcase for his new job with my Macy's gift cards. On his end, he decided to spoil me with my first ever COACH PURSE! I couldn't believe it! How great is my man?

I picked out this beautiful Poppy Purse from Coach, with denim & metal detail alongside the original 1940's logo. Since it zippers and has plenty of pockets, it is both fashionable and functional. I love it! Even though I am not a saver and don't place too much sentimental value on material things, I won't ever be able to bring myself to throw my very first designer purse away.
Perhaps I'll have a daughter and give it to her.

King Bed fit for a Queen

Another milestone reached by me at 25 was the purchase of a king-size bed for our master bedroom. YIPPEE!!! For MONTHS Hubby and I have suffered from chronic back & neck pain, lack of sleep, and the inability to utilize our previous queen bed due to a rickety frame-- it collapsed several times at random points. The mattress was caved in in the center, it made the worst, most annoying creaking sound every time I shifted, and there was an overall lack of space since we're both tall and I'm wider than the average person.

It has always been a dream of mine to have such a luxurious and large bed-- I am all about spreading my laptop, notebooks, and novels on top of my bed to do work and now I have ample room to do so. Plus we bought a Sterns & Foster mattress. It was so soft I didn't want to cover it with sheets! And yes, we got a deal. Stan the Salesmen took 20% off everything: all pieces of the frame, the mattress, box spring, and gave us the mattress pad for half off with free delivery and setup! They even disposed of the old mattress and box spring!!!

Thus, everything cost $200 less than the original price of the mattress set alone AND we have a year with no interest to pay that sucker off. Not to mention we found the bedding, which was our current bed set just in all neutral colors, on clearance AND I had Bed, Bath, and Beyond coupons for all of the pillows! With the guest queen mattress and Hubby's old box spring, our old frame works better than ever and doesn't creak anymore. It's amazing what difference a mattress makes. Both Hubby and I have eliminated our pain, get a peaceful night's sleep, and neither of us bother the other when we shift. I recommend this mattress to EVERYONE! Our bedroom has become a nightly haven-- what a blessing!

24 August 2010

Quick Fire Film Review: Aug 2010

As I'm behind in my movie reviewing, I've combined a few films with short blurbs about why you should or shouldn't see them. I must warn you, we'll probably disagree.

"Salt" Lacking in Flavor
For the life of me, I cannot figure out the world's obsession with Angelina Jolie besides the fact she stole Jennifer Aniston's husband who happened to be Brad Pitt. Other than that, the big-lipped brunette no longer has claim to Hollywood, especially after this predictable doosey of a film. Basically, Angelina wanders from scene to scene, pouting her lips, smoldering her eyes, changing her hair, and trying her damnedest to look tough. Oi. Where is Jason Bourne when you need him? If anything, rent the film when you're in the mood for a brainless popcorn flick.

"Eat Pray Love" the Book
Julia Roberts is lovely. Julia Roberts is talented. Julia Roberts is a favorite actress of mine. However, Julia Roberts is not a good reason to see this film. In terms of an adaptation I cannot comment since I preferred to see the movie before reading the world-famous book. As a film, it's... okay. Everyone does a great job, especially Richard Jenkins, and the scenery is beautiful. That's it. My biggest problem is the message stories like this teach: a woman needs to travel the world to find herself. If you're lost then you're lost and a change of location isn't going to fix that-- it's the internal journey that will bring you to your destination. Don't get me wrong, I strongly encourage experiencing international culture, I just find it a hindrance when on the path to self-discovery... too many distractions. I'm hoping the book will shed more life on Gilbert's inner journey and thoughts so I can fully understand the transition-- a factor film can't show. Again, I'd say it's worth renting.

"The Expendables:" A Fun Bad Action Flick or Just Bad?
Ugh. Here's the problem with Sly Stallone's attempt at creating the most bad-ass action film in the UNIVERSE: the action sucks. During the climactic rescue scene where all of our heroes are acting out an explosive plan of attack, I literally sat in the theater yawning and thought to myself, "Gosh I'm bored." Apparently no one told Stallone not to take himself so seriously and inflated his ego instead. The action is bad, but the jokes are worse-- and I LOVE bad action films! The 80's and 90's action flicks rock my world, there's nothing better, but no one bothered to reference any of them. Skip it altogether, but if you're super nostalgic RENT and DO NOT GO TO THE THEATERS!

"Piranha" 3D is Not For Me
Ironically, my title is actually a compliment to the film as I HATE gory horror films and that's exactly what "Piranha" succeeds at: grossing me out. I actually had to leave it was so graphic; I came back because I needed to see how it ended, but my stomach was churning the whole way through. Unfortunately for me, the film had falsely been hyped as cheesy, with more laughs than horror. Even my husband, who was dying to see it and wanted my support which I was happy to give, admitted the film was not for me. I've also seen my fair share of bad horror movies and well... Piranha is not that bad, pretty freaky actually. So if that's your thing, by all means head to the theater and pay extra for the glasses.

Kick Ass and Scott Pilgrim vs. the World

Though the above post mentions some of this summer's hottest movies, none of which live up to their hype, these two films exceed expectations-- but only if you like that sort of thing. Cult films can be hit or miss depending on the subject matter, imagery, and audience taste--I dig them.

First up: "Kick-Ass"

Although the theatrical release of "Kick-Ass" happened months ago, the DVD just came out to a video rental store near you, and if you like colorful, violent, and twisted films this one is perfect. The film has been adapted by Brits (that's right folks, it's a foreign film also) from a comic book sharing the same title, is just as violent, super fun, and disturbing. What do I mean by 'disturbing?' See that purple haired hero in the above picture? She is a 13 year old assassin that does nasty things with knives. No joke. A good portion of the combat reminds me of anime. However, "Kick-Ass' is ridiculous, darkly humored, and one of the more original stories out there. Totally worth a rental.

Next up: "Scott Pilgrim vs The World"

After seeing "Inception," my husband and I never thought we'd come across another summer film so entertaining and interesting it deserved a repeat viewing... until we saw "Scott Pilgrim vs. The World." Another comic book adaptation, SPVTW is far less violent and twisted than "Kick-Ass." Instead, it's hilarious as Scott must battle the seven evil ex's (with super powers) of the woman he hopes to date. The world is completely fictional yet all the characters believe in this reality so as an audience member you join right in. Did I mention the music is fantastic? And the jokes? We laughed out loud several times and can't wait to go back. Unfortunately SPVTW will most likely be underrated until it's available for rent since going to the movies is expensive-- most people will have their doubts about spending the money. But I promise you it's awesome and you will LOVE IT!

08 August 2010

Easy Virtue and Dorian Gray

The other day, Hubby and I each rented a blu-ray and got to choose from 2 free blu-rays courtesy of the Blockbuster In Store Rewards program. We are one of the few households without Netflix (although I thoroughly recommend Netflix over any other rental option currently available, it's just not in our budget at the moment). Anyway, our free movies were LOTR 1 & 2 which we have yet to carve out the necessary half day required for viewing these films. Although this will be epic, it's not the point of my blog. The other 2 films- which we chose separately- were "Dorian Gray" and "Easy Virtue." Both British. Both period pieces. Both starring Colin Firth. How novel. Neither of us had seen DG and Hubby hadn't seen EV- I had and LOVED the film!

We began our movie night with "Dorian Gray" and for the life of me I could not pinpoint the strangle familiarity of Dorian's face. Why did he look so darn familiar? Unable to let it go, I grabbed my trusty laptop and entered in the only site to use when trying to figure out where you've seen that actor whose name eludes you: The International Movie Database http://www.imdb.com

And low and behold what do I discover? The lead in "Dorian Gray" happens to also be the lead in "Easy Virture" alongside Colin Firth! What are the odds? It's fate, I tell you, FATE! Both films were great, entertaining, visual, and interesting. However, the clear winner in this situation is "Easy Virtue." With its dry, almost dark humor, amazing production design, and somewhat twisted story, EV is an excellent film for any collection. But you should still see them both...


07 August 2010

A Tattoo

Though I have yet to embark on the adventure that is permanently inscribing messages and art by way of stabbing into the skin, I would like to get a tattoo before I'm 30. Preferably in the next year before I'm a mother and everyone thinks I'm getting one to appease a mid-life crisis. Honestly, I would love to get LOTS of tatts all over my body, but with my fatness, age, and career path, covering my skin with body art will work against me.

However, I want at least 3 small-ish tattoos in out-of-the-way places the art of which contains deeply personal messages about who I am and what I love. Here's is the first I found on Google and absolutely fell in love.

Pretty sweet, no?

26 July 2010

Niko: A Star in the Making

My cat, Niko, has been bitten by the fame bug and is headed for Hollywood. He's got the looks, the personality, and the talent to make it BIG. His journey begins here...

He has dreams of being on television.

So he's always working on his tan...

And his beauty sleep...

And more beauty sleep.

Don't forget regular workouts-- check out those guns!
"Hey everybody! Come and see how good I look!"

He even has an agent.

He does his own stunts.

He's got style.

And soon everyone will look up to him.

24 July 2010

July 22, 2010 ~ My 25th Birthday

A couple days ago I turned 25... but not without first experiencing a mid-twenties life crisis. I'll get into that in a sec. This particular entry is about a letter I remembered writing to myself and retrieved from a journal of mine I had since high school and my early college years. The letter was not to be opened until after my 25th birthday so here we go:

May 26, 2004

Dear Hodge Podge,

This is a letter to yourself to straighten out your priorities.
You will be successful. Furthermore, you will win that Oscar for a remarkable, life-changing film. No excuses. I know it'll be hard-- the road is long, bumpy, and filled with detours. Feel free to take a detour or two but ALWAYS get back to the main road. It's not about money or fame, it's about sharing yourself, your ideas, other people's ideas with the world. You will inspire, anger, frustrate, enthrall, and lift people up. Remember this:
Most of all, make Mom and Dad proud.
Continuing, you know you have to lose weight and IT WILL HAPPEN. Keep working out, DIET, and kick yourself to be active. Besides, you'll feel terrific and look fab!
Finally, the dating thing. Obviously, nothing has happened. You shouldn't have turned down Dominique because you were scared. It's a monstrous step, one you must take. Don't be afraid, you'll get burned (as you know), but you could meet someone amazing who thinks you're amazing too! Just keep smiling and step out of that damn shell!!!
Best of luck and see you on the other side,

Hodge Podge

I wrote this when I was 18 and a freshman in college. Who knew I'd have the right words for myself at the right time?! Well, God knew I guess... but I definitely have a stronger belief in my powers of perception and psychic ability (both gifts from Big G). Actually, I think I'll write another to myself not to be opened until I'm 35-- it's quite fun!

Anyway, excluding the part about not having found someone by now, the entire letter is relevant and inspirational to my new course of life. During the weeks leading up to my birthday, I battled back and forth between my optimism for the future and the despair of uncertainty brought on by depression. Toss in the weight struggle and I was fully in revamp mode.

No one warned me about the 25th birthday life crisis yet when I mentioned it on facebook I had plenty of friends who understood exactly what I was feeling: lost, uncertain, searching for a purpose and career mixed with a feeling of regret from all of the things I felt I should've accomplished and haven't yet. Fortunately, my husband and I have an open communication line and began discussing our options, wants, and future.

For the longest time we have not been entirely on the same page. As he's nearing 30, my husband has had a desire to purchase property, to finally stop renting and OWN something. I, on the other hand, have been obsessed with getting to the West Coast and begin a career in film without knowing how or where or when anything can happen. Yet as I began analyzing myself, my needs and wants, and my potential, I realized the importance of making a difference, of finding meaning in my career, and I discovered a desire for family. And so I began a transformation and finally discovered what I want.

It began with a desire to go back to school, find a house, start a career, and begin a family. Now I've come to specifics and have finally morphed my dreams into goals.

1. I am going back to school for a teaching certificate so I can teach high school English. I will balance a full-time schedule with work study and a part-time job.

2. We are settling in this area for the next 10 or 15 years at least and shall start with purchasing a house by September 2011.

3. I want to have a baby by the time I am 28. And before then we shall get a puppy.

4. Once I've begun teaching and my husband and I have adjusted to our new schedule with work and babies, I shall go back to school and obtain a Masters and finally a Doctorate in English. Hopefully some day I shall teach at the collegiate level while continuing to write and write and WRITE!

5. I want to find a church and begin participating in the community.

How's that for a goal sheet?

For the first time I am seeing my life and my purpose clearly-- it's a great feeling. However, now there's the technical mumbo jumbo like college applications, loan applications, job applications, fetching transcripts all of which MUST get going NOW so I can figure out what I'll be doing this fall and start making SOME money. This is exciting, scary, overwhelming, and trying my patience. I know it's a long road before I can begin my career and I want to get started as soon as possible but finances are holding us back, though I have FAITH it will all work out.
Film will always be an important part of my life-- it's a true passion of mine. I shall continue to write and I do not regret my days spent at film school (though I think my dad's wallet does). The experiences and people I met and know have all brought me to this point and I am forever grateful.

And so, Happy 25th to me.

Captain Wentworth's Diary

As you can see, I'm moving right along with my summer reading list and have just completed this lovely piece of Jane Austen fan fiction: "Captain Wentworth's Diary."

Although I LOVE "Pride and Prejudice," my favorite book is "Persuasion" so it was only natural I would enjoy the story told through our hero Frederick Wentworth's eyes. Plus Amanda Grange fills in the blanks by detailing the first meeting and falling in love of Captain Wentworth and Anne Elliot. Back story is always welcome. It's a fast, interesting read for fans of Jane Austen's classic as well as written well with elegant language. Check it out.

P.S. I ditched "Battles at Thrush Green" - it just didn't interest me. I'm looking for another book to replace it and will keep you informed.

20 June 2010

"Women Food & God" ~ Chapter 2: Ending the War

"The great blessing of our lives is our relationship with food."

"Why would any sane person believe that tolerating the intolerable is a worthy endeavor?"
"... when we welcome what we most want to avoid... we evoke divinity itself."

"I stopped trying to fix myself. I stopped fighting with myself, stopped blaming myself, my mother, my latest boyfriend for my weight."

"[My students] have whole friendships built on commiserating about the twenty pounds they have to lose and the jeans that are too tight and the latest greatest diets. They fit in by hating themselves."

Though I've definitely had conversations like this, none of my relationships are solely based on weight issues-- thank God. If anything, I'm the petty soul who feels jealousy toward certain attractive friends and family members. And no, it's not easy to admit that.
Fortunately I see the error of my ways and push those feelings out of my head, never sacrificing a friendship because my friend reached her goal and I didn't. However, I do believe I've used this topic to relate to my thin friends, as a way of making light my morbidly obese body.

"... researchers found that one of the best predictors of weight gain was having lost weight on a diet at some point during the years before the study started."

"83 percent gained back more weight than they had lost."

"Another study found that people who went on diets were worse off that people who didn't."

"I expect [my students] to realize they have been brainwashed by a sixty-billion-dollar-a-year industry."

You know, for all of the documentaries I watch about food industry, political, and religious conspiracies, you'd think I would've figured out the shady diet industry one! Of course you'd be more likely to gain back the weight if even slightly wavering from a program (which is almost definite) and needing to spend more money on more solutions. If you lost the weight once and kept it off for the rest of your life they'd be out of business. And that's what I want, to lose the weight once and say goodbye forever.

"... our worth in the world has always been tied to our looks... not the amazing miracle of mere existence."

"Women turn to food when they are not hungry because they ARE hungry for something they can't name: a connection to what is beyond the concerns of daily life."

"We have become so obsessed with getting rid of our obsession, with riding on top of our suffering and ignoring its inherent message, that we lose the pieces of ourselves waiting to be found beneath it."

"The real richness of obsession lies in the ineffable stillness, the irrefutable wholeness, that is found in turning toward its source."

"The relentless attempts to be thin take you further and further away from what could actually end your suffering: getting back in touch with who you really are. Your true nature. Your essence."

Honestly, Roth speaks for herself on this one. It's amazing how she touches upon EVERYTHING I'm feeling at once. Her goal is to help one deal with the WHY not the HOW-- that is the ultimate solution. My perspective of life is changing. As I continue to read I see more of what she means by facing the pain and emerging from it a stronger, brighter woman.

"Women Food & God" ~ Chapter 1

First, let me clarify how I am reading this book in order to get the most out of it. To analyze and truly absorb the information, I read through a chapter first then ready my pencil and pink highlighter, tackling the chapter once again only this time annotating points and relevance to my own life. Finally, I write important quotations and bottom lines in my journal, along with my reactions and thoughts on the impact of Roth's words. That's my method in a sort-of-nutshell.

Highlights from Chapter 1:

"I turned to food for the same reasons people turned to God: it was my sigh of ecstasy, my transport to heaven, my concrete proof that relief from the pain of everyday life was possible. Then it would be gone."

"Dieting was like praying. It was a plaintive cry to whoever was listening..."

Roth's definition of God:
"One that uses this human life and its suffering... as a path to the heart of love itself."

This is how I've seen God for years, I've just been unable to put it into words. I am still a Christian yet I've always felt God as this great expanse and a being who loves even the worst part of ourselves.
God teaches me to love and forgive not only others, but myself as well, while teaching me to embrace flaws and love weakness. Easier said than done, no? Forgiveness of one's self is, I think, the hardest type of Forgiveness out there. We might ask God to forgive us (and He will) but we refuse to forgive or even ask it of ourselves. If we won't forgive ourselves, how can God?

Roth's Discovery:
"... understanding the relationship with food is a direct path to coming home after a lifetime of being exiled."

As first chapters go, this is powerful stuff. Reviewing my notes has opened my eyes to more self-revelation, while lighting a fire within me to change my sad course of life. Furthermore, I'm inspired to dive back into my own spirituality and relationship with God.