What I did over Christmas Break

I did something odd (for me) over the holiday. I unplugged myself, specifically from Facebook. So, my Christmas break consisted of decorating, spending time with family and friends without my attention wandering and reading books. You know, those things with paper pages? They have words on them? It had been so long since I read a book for pleasure that I got a bit carried away!

I read 10 books. WHAT?! I know!!! Here they are with my thoughts.

1- The Heart Goes Last by Margaret Atwood

Ms. Atwood. I think I love you. I don’t think I have read anything I haven’t liked from her. HandMaiden’s Tale was remarkable and Oryx and Crake, well. I just can’t say enough. Her visualization and imagination of another world is so possible yet creepy, and I love every second of it!

So, The Heart…Atwood has this way of creating characters that you both understand and root for and yet despise at the same time. She is great at throwing in twists and turns that make your jaw drop and either go “ewww” or “WHAT!” I won’t get into any spoilers, but you should definitely check this one out. It is set in a future not too far away, the world has become very dangerous after an economic collapse. We find our “heros” of the story living in their car, scared for their life. Then, an opportunity comes along. Of course it does.

They have a chance to live in a safe environment, a home to themselves, jobs. Everything everyone aspires to. Except…. every 6 months they go to jail and someone else lives in their home. But even that doesn’t seem to be so bad. Until… some communication is found and confusion and misunderstandings abound.

It’s fascinating really.

2- Luckiest Girl Alive by Jessica Knoll

I was conflicted on this one. The comparison to Gillian Flynn could mean many things to many people. But, what I have found is that if it is anywhere near the same voice as her, it gets a thumbs up. I was a bit disappointed in this book though. I liked the first person narrative, it fit. I didn’t like the “big reveal” though. It seemed, well, stupid.

Again, no spoilers (I wont say it anymore, I promise. From now on just know I am spoiler free) but this chick is cray. This mysterious secret about her past and her obsessive need to reinvent herself into a caricature of what she thinks she should be, have, and want is built up and the climax is just…I don’t want to say ridiculous, but it’s completely out of the blue.

It’s not a bad read. It’s actually quick and kinda fun. It’s just not a very good read.

3- Enchanted August by Brenda Bowen

Yes, I read chick lit. And yes, I like it. And I liked this book too. The characters are deep and yes, a bit cliche, I don’t care. And yes, I knew how it would end. And I don’t care. It’s a fun little romp around a little lost island with a beautiful beach house shared by 4 people who start off not knowing each other and end up friends for life. I realize I may be making it sound a bit lifetime movieish, buhow each member of his family relates to both the disease and the man. And Genova t hey, I like those too! So there!

4- Inside the O’Briens by Lisa Genova

Wowzers! Did you ever read I’m Still Alice? Well, this one is like that but it concerns Huntingtons Disease. We get to know Joe and his family. We see his decline and we see ties in statistics at the beginnings of each section that make your heart hurt.

The research that went into this book is astounding. And to make each character come alive is a talent in it’s own right.

Read this. It will give you the feels.

5&6- Bumped and Thumped  by Megan McCafferty

Lets take a detour into YA, shall we? Don’t mock me. I like YA.

So, these books were typical dystopian YA reads that want to jump on the Hunger Games and Divergent train. I don’t want to say that they missed the train, but maybe they caught another. I just didn’t care for them. I read a lot of YA and what I like about the authors is that they aren’t afraid to just go for it. These books had their own premise, sure, but they just seemed used up. Here we have a society that values teenage pregnancy (because there was a virus dontcha know that prohibits being able to get preggers after 18ish). Throw in some twins and a gigolo of Richard Gere proportions (if you don’t get that reference, I feel kinda bad for ya) and Church! Can’t forget about the Church side of things! Did I forget to mention that the twins are separated at birth and one is a churchy and the other the poster child for knocked up teens everywhere? Sound like a lot? It is. And that is the problem I think.

They aren’t abysmal by any means. They are quick reads. A nice way to keep up with what is going on in the YA world, but there are better ways to spend your day.

7- After You by Jo Jo Moyes

Ok, so she is very Danielle Steel. So what? And the book is good. Really. I’m not going to say anything else about it. I can feel your judgement coming through the dsl cable.

Just read it. If you like Romances (not those slutty almost porn things, but romances with modern day struggles) you won’t be disappointed.

8- Everybody Rise by Stephanie Clifford

Back to chick lit. I liked it. I found it a bit pretentious. Well, I found the main characters all pretentious. Here we find a struggling twentysomething whose mother always dreamed of being a socialite. Needless to say she never was. But she focused all of her energy on making her daughter one. Only a few problems. Evelyn (our heroine) is a bit shy and not very glamorous. Plus, she doesn’t have the endless stream of income that the people she is hobbknobbing with have. Of course you can see whats coming. And of course there is redemption along the way.

It’s a fast easy read with some eyerolling and “I knew it’s” along the way.

9- Is Fat Bob Dead Yet by Stephen Dobyns

I am the first to admit that I judge a book by it’s cover. And a good name draws me in every time. So when I say this book at the library and the cover is a dog smoking a ciggie, well, combined with that title, I had to check it out. I had to!

At first I didn’t know if I liked this style of storytelling. But we should all expand our genre repertoire, so I kept going. The story is narrated not by a character, but by a narrator who speaks in first person. For example, a section will start off by saying something like “If we remember what Connor was thinking when he first met Sal, we would know that Connor knew him from Detroit, but Sal doesn’t know that” that kind of thing. But the actual story is told third person.

And this is a fun book! We have con men, gangsters, witness protection people, and a guy chopped in half by a truck while riding a Fat Bob motorcycle. But was it Fat Bob? (yeah, Fat Bob riding the Fat Bob) That is what the detectives (who live to rile each other) have to decide.

Read this one. It is something different.

10- Wither by Lauren DeStefano

Back to YA. But I liked this better than Bumped. Maybe because I like darker dystopia? Who knows. But in this version of the future women only live to be 20 and men only 25. We have the Older Generation (which I think would be us), teenagers and babies. Women are a commodity since men want wives to have babies with (why is it ALWAYS women????? in danger?) and they will kidnap, kill and enslave them to do it. And of course, men can have more than one wife. But our heroine does not want to be enslaved. She wants to escape and find her twin brother. She develops bonds with her sister wives and doesn’t even mind her husband so much since he is just as much of a victim of his father as she is. In a way he is enslaved too. And then she starts having feelings for one of the staff. You know what that means, right? yup, trilogy!

So, that’s my long reading list. Let me know what you think!

The importance of being Earnest

So, here’s the skinny on how I spent two hours of my time last night. First, a little back

story:

Hubs and I rarely get a date night. He works super long hours and we never seem to be in the same place at the same time for very long. So, last week we ordered the Avengers. The DVR said that it was pending download. We gave up and watched something else.; (sigh) Seinfeld reruns. That was our date night. Thank you for filling it with frustration.

Today my husband got home from work early, at about 6:30, we decide to watch the avengers and have some nice family time since we rarely have more than 2 people in the same place at the same time. And Darling Daughter was hanging out in the living room instead of squirreling herself away in her room.

But we couldn’t watch the movie because the stupid service said we had to call in. A few minutes after that appeared on the screen we had the option to text to order the movie. My husband spent several minutes doing this and ended up being told he ordered a movie in 3-d. That is ridiculous. He ordered it in hd.

So, he called in. And waded through the infuriating customer service automated system to end up on hold for about 10 minutes. After all of that, he was told that the purchase couldn’t be redacted because it had been more than 5 minutes. HE WAS ON HOLD! Ridiculous!

Now, I understand that we are being credited next month. But we operate on a budget and now our budget has been messed up. Along with date night and family time.

I fought to get direct tv a few years ago because this is the type of stuff that we had to deal with with Comcast. And the longer the labryth of computerized menus and long hold times, the more frustrated people become. This has WASTED an entire hour of my life just today. I even called in to pay my bill last week or so and we had been charged for NFL ticket that we never even ordered!

Frankly, a refund of a movie we can’t watch isn’t going to make me happy. What might make a dent in making me happy is an instant retraction of the charge, free HBO a monthly price reduction AND two free movies that I don’t have to mess around with mailing in a coupon that everyone knows will get lost and that’s the point isn’t it?

That was my spiel I jotted down while on hold. I nicely recited it to a person named Rain. And I was nice, really! Even after fighting with a computerized voice menu (I so hate those)! Rain then needed to research my issues. It took her 18 minutes. Then she had to transfer me to a higher authority.

Great. Another 10 minute hold with the worst connection imaginable and horrid music.

20 minutes later I have the pleasure of speaking with Mario. Same spiel, same response. Mario transferred me to yet another person because he had nothing to offer me to make me happy. Now 41 minutes later, on hold yet again.

Enter Earnest a mere 4 minutes later.

Same spiel. This time I told him it was going on my blog. Lol. Hi mom! And you know what? He was pleasant, friendly and eager to help. Here is what he did for me:

1. Took $35 off my bill for a year
2. Gave me Showtime free for four months and I don’t have to call in and cancel it. It will just expire.
3. Let me keep NFL ticket for free for the rest of the season
4. Gave me a credit for $14 to order movies.
5. Gave me some sports package for a month that will just expire.
6. Gave me another DVR for another room

So, wonderful Earnest took my payment from $152.02 down to $66.47 a month All I do after a year is add $35.

I love Earnest!

Direct tv is seriously the best company out there. If you would like to sign up with them and save $10 a month, use my name Lori Anaple in Romeo Michigan.

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Mini rant for the day – breaking up with junk mail

I just spent over three hours deleting junk mail. I know, I know, it’s my own fault for letting it pile up like that, but dang! Who has the time???

So this morning, I get up at 6 and start culling through it. I was determined to unsubscribe to a lot of crap that brought nothing into my life.

And discovered that “people” have made this an actual CHORE! Come on! I don’t want your email. Why do I have to go to your site (after finding it with that minuscule font size) and complete a freaking survey? Then, THEN! I have to “put the word you see above in the box below”. Are you kidding me? Just let me go. It’s not me, it’s YOU! I’m just not that into you. Why make it hard on yourself?

So now I’ve gone through over 400 (don’t judge me) unread messages and now have to organize what’s left.

It’s sad that cleaning out your email box is an item on your to-do list. I much prefer checking off the item “clearing out space on your DVR”

Rant over.

Until next time!

Being sick sucks

Everyone has experienced it; the common cold.  And, most people will say that their cold is anything but common.

This cold that I have is a monster.  And I don’t care if other people have the same cold, mine is worse.  Yes, it IS a competition.

I have stages of a cold similar to The stages of dying.  First stage is denial. I am not sick.  I can be walking around with red puffy slits for eyes, sneezing and full of mucus; but I am NOT sick. As a result, I end up infecting everyone who crosses my path.  You’re welcome.

Second comes “shit, I’m sick”. This stage consists largely of whining.  I also like to be petted, waited on and kissed on my forehead.  Again, lots of infection going on in this stage too.  I like to share the love.

Next is the “I’m dead” phase, also known as hibernation.  This is the most dangerous phase for me because it is in this phase that I let my darling husband medicate me.  And I should learn after 17 years of marriage, but I don’t.  In this stage, I just don’t give a shit.  So he gets home from work and gives me a handful of over the counter medication and I take it.  Usually his cocktail is NyQuil, fake NyQuil, musinex, and maybe a benedryl.  I take it like it is nectar from heaven.  Now I am a walking zombie.  And not even a good zombie.  Good zombies care about brains.  I’m a bad zombie because not only do I not care about brains, I don’t care about anyone.  I don’t care if the dog needs to be let out, kids needing to be fed, laundry (ok, truth time, I never care about laundry).  I care about nothing but laying in a prone position with very comfy pillows.  I don’t even care about television.

Finally, I find myself in the apologetic stage.  Here I apologize profusely for being sick, being whiny, and need constant reassurance that no one is angry at me for being sick.  It is here where I refuse to take my Darling Husband’s ‘cold cocktail’ and start doing a few things for myself.  My humanness is starting to return.

When  all is well with my health again, I notice those I love around me being sick.  Do I treat them the way I like to be treated?  Hell no.  They have a cold.  Cold’s do not kill you,  so get up and go to school/do the dishes/ or do your homework.

Why I am Thinking Purple and not Pink for October

In the past few years I have been getting more and more frustrated with Pinktober and more specifically with The Susan G. Komen Foundation. I truly believe that the Komen foundation filled a void when awareness regarding cancer affecting women was virtually nonexistent.  Now, however, they have, in my opinion, capitalized on the backs of the very same women they claim to be their cornerstone.

Recently two blog posts put my thoughts into words.  The first, http://butterbeliever.com/i-will-not-be-pinkwashed-why-i-do-not-support-susan-g-komen-for-the-cure/  put the pinkwashing of America under a financial microscope.  At first I wasn’t concerned about the amount of money being paid to executives.  I know that even nonprofits need to pay their employees.  But when I kept reading I was appalled.  Keep in mind this was written back in 2011, but I don’t think things have changed all that much.  As I read further, I was shocked at the Foundation for actually SUING smaller charities for using the word “cure”.  Pathetic.  This is a nonprofit that is running itself like a business, and that is not always a bad thing.  What is bad, is the capitalistic manner in which they are doing it.  By now, awareness is there.  Women (and men) know about it.  Why are they spending so much money in the awareness sector?  Profit.  Pure and simple.  There are countless products who rush to put a pink ribbon on everything it owns and people will buy it because they think they are helping cure cancer.  Not so.  We have pink tools, pink ribbons, pink ribbon jewelry, pink football jerseys, pink everything.  I adore the color pink, but please!  I’m nauseous.  A quick search on Amazon shows just a glimpse of some of the crap you can purchase to support breast cancer research and awareness.  Their definition of “awareness” is nothing more than advertising.  Similar to Abercrombie putting their name on everything that they sell.

The second post  http://graceless.me/not-for-sale-a-case-against-pinktober/   brought the conversation to a personal level.  What captured my attention here is that the survival rate for women with breast cancer has not been lowered since 1976.  It has, in fact, risen 2%.  The author discusses how she feels at being “whored out” without her consent.  And, I have to agree with her.  We need to change the conversation from awareness (read profit) to advancements in survival.

So, this being the beginning of October, I am not going pink.  I’m going  Purple.   Domestic Violence Awareness Month also occurs in October.  This is a cause that desperately NEEDS awareness and education.  Too many people blame the victim because they don’t understand the cycle of violence.  They don’t understand the stripping of support systems and financial resources.  And they don’t understand the actual threats of death to loved ones if they are caught trying to leave.

While I was in college I worked for a local Women’s Shelter.  I didn’t tell people about it; it wasn’t safe to.  I was a potential link to any abuser who was looking to find his battering ram.  Trust me, if you know me, it is hard for me to be quiet about anything that I do!  There was a point that I worked on the “Rescue Crew”.  This was one of the most terrifying experiences of my life.  Most of the time we picked women and their children up and all they had was the clothes on their back.  Many times we were chased by the person they were trying to escape.  And sadly, many times, after being safe for a few days, weeks, months, they went back to their abusers because they didn’t believe in themselves enough to make a life without the “security” provided to them by their abuser.

The cycle of violence is real.

Click here for a compelling story and diagram showing the cycle.

So many people ask the question similar to “why don’t they just leave?”

thehotline.org answers this question with a variety of REAL reasons.  if you, or someone you know needs assistance with defining abuse, making an escape plan, or leaving, this site is a valuable resource.  Locally, in Macomb county Michigan, Turning Point can help.

Yes, there are products that you can purchase that show your support for this cause.  Again, looking at Amazon, here are some ways you can show your support.  I find it interesting to note that while there are approximately 2,000 items for sale for Domestic Violence, there are 10 times that for Breast Cancer. nnedv.org has a user friendly list of things YOU can do to help create awareness for Domestic violence.  And they are simple; wear purple on Thursdays, talk to someone about Domestic Violence. Surely, we all can do that, can’t we?