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Category Archives: Salon

I haven’t checked in with the Sunday Salon in a while, so today is a good time to do so!

Well, as mentioned on Friday, I was in an apathetic funk all week. I didn’t do much of anything, including blogging. I did write a Happy Birthday post for Charles Dickens, as it would’ve been wrong not to as I spent so much time getting to know him in January. Which, by the way, I did complete all of my posts for Charles Dickens month and finished Bleak House in January. Win for me!

I have been reading in my funk, and am still reading Mrs. Warren’s Profession by George Bernard Shaw and I Want My MTV by Craig Marks and Rob Tannenbaum. I should have both books finished this week. Yesterday, I picked up volumes 2 and 3 of Locke and Key by Joe Hill at Mysterious Galaxy Mysterious Galaxy bookstore San Diegobookstore, so I’ll be reading those this week as well.

Speaking of Mysterious Galaxy bookstore, after much debate about affiliation, I have decided to hitch my wagon to Mysterious Galaxy and IndieBound books as an affiliate. For the last month or so, I have been considering what it means to be an affiliate, and would it be like selling out or going commercial if I did so? Am I plugging in like Bob Dylan at the Newport Folk Festival? I don’t want my blog to be a crummy commercial. After being approached by Audible and I considered Amazon, I decided that I would affiliate my blog with something that can use some attention. I realized that I could use affiliation to show my love for my favorite bookstore and help support other struggling independent bookstores. So, I applied for and was accepted as an affiliate for Mysterious Galaxy Bookstore and IndieBound. Now, if, by some off-chance, a reader clicks on one of the links that is connected to MG books or IndieBound AND decides to BUY the book via the link, I will get a small commission. However, that is unlikely, although it would be very cool. But, at least I am spreading the word about independent bookstores and Mysterious Galaxy, the coolest bookstores in Southern California (there are two- one in San Diego and one in Redondo Beach).

Another blogging thing I was considering was copyright. I see all of my friends’ blogs have little copyright symbols or some sort of copyright statement at the bottom of their page. What’s the deal with this? Do I need to do this? What do I need to do to get started on this? If anyone can give me some advice on this topic, I’d appreciate it!

Meanwhile, in my outside-of-blogging life, my husband and I have a dilemma on our hands. It looks like this:

Morgan Freeman the stray cat

This is a young gentleman who we like to call Mr. Fluffers or Morgan Freeman (he’s so cool and calm around our own hissing cats that he seems to be ready to handle any job in a crisis, much like Freeman in his presidential roles). He’s been hanging out on our porch the last few days, and the collar that he wore on Wednesday is no longer there. So, there is no contact info. One of his eyes is sorta cataract-y, and he’s awfully thin and needy, so we decided to let him into the house last night. Our little lady cats are not too happy with this decision, but what are we to do? He might get eaten by a coyote or beaten up by one of those ginormous raccoons I see fishing in the sewers. Today, I will make some posters to post around the neighborhood and put a “found cat” listing on Craig’s List. Then, today or tomorrow, I will take him into a vet or the humane society to see if he has a microchip that we can scan. Poor Morgan Freeman. Is he somebody’s lost baby? Is he abandoned? Who are you Morgan Freeman?

Other mentionables before I sign off on Sunday–

I am offering four giveaways this week! I am giving away Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, A Visit from the Goon Squad, The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, and And Then There Were None. These are all in very good condition (Kavalier and Clay and And Then There Were None are brand new!) and are all very popular and/or acclaimed books. I will mail them out next week, to anywhere! So, sign up people! I don’t have that many followers on my site, and not many people have signed up, so you have a very good chance of winning! Just do it! Click on the links attached to each of the titles above to be directed to the announcement post and sign-up form. All I need is your name and contact info. That’s it! You don’t have to follow my blog and you don’t need to leave a comment. I’m just trying to share the love with other book lovers!

• I should be posting my reviews of The Drawing of the Three and Locke and Key, vol. 1 this week. Be on the lookout for those!

the Stephen King Project• Obviously, January is over, and I have not yet shared my challenges progress. I will do that now!

Charles Dickens Month in January–COMPLETE, with Bleak House read and 5 Dickens- related posts written.

End of the World Challenge: have read 2952 pages toward my goal of 3500 pages (really? only 3500 pages? that’s the end of the world? someone has to have won by now. I’ll be done with this challenge by the end of the week! oh, I just read the rules. it’s the person who reads the most pages by the end of the year that gets paid out a penny per page via giftcard, up to a limit of 3500 pages. I see…).

The Stephen King Project: have read two books towards my goal of 12 books. This will be a piece of cake!

The Dark Tower Challenge: have read the first two books of the series. I am actually holding myself back from reading The Wastelands right now. I want to have just finished Wizard and Glass when The Wind Through the Keyhole comes out in late April. I guess I’ll read a book per month!

The Award-Winning Challenge: have read two books towards this challenge, and am currently working on the third.

Back to the Classics Challenge and A Classics Challenge: have read one book towards both of these challenges, and am working on the second. I have written one post for A Classics Challenge, and will probably put my February post out later this week.

What’s in a Name Challenge: Have read one book (Bleak House) towards the challenge. 5 more to go!

Well, I hope you all have a wonderful Sunday! If you have any advice regarding copyrighting blogs, please leave a comment! Well, of course, please leave a comment about whatever you want. Also, don’t forget to sign up for one of my giveaways! I want to give you a book!


Sunday Salon

I return to work this week, dragging my feet, and so my life goes back into hectic mode as I will try to balance all the important parts of my life. Shifting gears between delivering a quality education to underprivileged teens, to sweaty boxing and Muay Thai workouts, to daily blogging, to spending attentive time with my husband and friends will require some real strategy. Plus, don’t forget reading and gaming and cooking and cleaning and correspondence with my long-distance family. There’s a lot to be done! But, I’ll put my game face on and try to not have a total meltdown!

So, here’s what’s been and will be on my table:

A Dickens of a Time: I am totally engrossed in Dickens! I’ve been continuing in my reading of Bleak House (my goal is 250 pages per week) and absolutely loving it. This week, I wrote about Dicken’s masterful use of characterization in Bleak House with lots of examples showing how he uses characterization as a tool to accomplish other literary goals.

Charles Dickens: A Life by Claire Tomalin

I also snagged a copy of Charles Dickens: A Life by Claire Tomalin at one of the San Diego libraries. This book has been in high demand as it was only just published in October, and I was thrilled when I saw it was available on Tuesday afternoon at a library 20 minutes away in Carmel Valley. I fought traffic to get there and grabbed it from the New shelf before anyone else saw it. So far, it is very good, which is surprising for me as I usually detest biographies. But, I’m reading it in hopes of understanding his opinions on philanthropy (my Tuesday Dickens post will be on Dickens and philanthropy). So, between this book and Bleak House, I am having a very Dickens week!

Chuckles: I had some chuckles last night as I watched two very amusing videos with my husband in a cozy evening at home. We watched

Killer Klowns from Outer Space

killer klowns from outer spaceKiller Klowns from Outer Space~ his pick! It was his turn to pick as I forced him to watch the last two episodes of Downton Abbey season 1 last week (he doesn’t usually go in for period pieces), and I have to say that I loved this terrible “horror” movie from 1987. Now, I have to admit that I love really bad movies (see my discussion on bad movies here) and this one was right up my alley with bad music, bad acting, and terrible writing. Plus, it starred one of the two girls from Weird Science (the blonde one), and that’s one of my all-time favorite ’80s movies. There was also an actor who just cracked me up with his melodramatic reactions to everything and his soap opera style (he kind of reminded me of Dean Winchester from Supernatural, whom I didn’t realize had such a soap opera style of acting too. But, I love precious Dean!). So, as always, my husband chose well in the movie category.

He also introduced me to a YouTube video of Tebowie, Jimmy Fallon performing as a hybrid of Tim Tebow and David Bowie on his Late Night show. It was hilarious as he performed his own version of Space Oddity with new lyrics- “Ground control to Jesus Christ…”. I highly recommend it to all of you who are watching playoffs today.

A Return to Lectures and Research? I’m thinking that I want to go back to school and finish my MA in English Literature at SDSU. I started the graduate program in 2006, and then, after one semester, I switched over to the credential program in hopes that I could finish my MA while earning money as an English teacher. Now, it’s six years later, and my one semester is still hanging in limbo. I’ve put it off, thinking that I couldn’t handle it on top of my ever-precarious position at these schools where I always get laid off in the Spring. But, look at all of the difficult reading I have been doing, for fun! I think I could handle it, and am thinking even of taking an Open University course this semester, or at least in the Fall. Then, though, begins my debate on what my focus will be–British Lit. or American Lit.. I’ve always thought British Literature was my thing, and it is, but I wrote a really extensive annotated bibliography on The Grapes of Wrath and the Dust Bowl that my professor wanted me to publish, so that makes me lean towards an American Literature thesis. Well, one thing at a time, I guess.

On My Doorstep:The Forsyte Saga by John Galsworthy

I went ahead and purchased all of the remaining bookish items from my Christmas wish list with an Amazon gift card. So, midweek, I added the Oxford World Classics copy of The Forsyte Saga to my TBR shelf. This completes my collection for all of my reading challenges–I now own all of the books that I am setting out to read this year!

I also bought the 2011 Jane Eyre movie! I loved this movie when I saw it in the theater, and I already loved Mr.Rochester (my top book crush, as he pushed Mr. Darcy to number 2), but Michael Fassbender really made me swoon as he played Rochester. He’s now my number one hottie actor as well! Highly recommend this movie to fans of Jane Eyre and period piece movies in general.

Downton Abbey Tonight! Downton Abbey Season 2

I was very pleased with last week’s two hour premiere, so I’m looking forward to tonight’s episode. Mathew’s engaged, Mary is flirting with disaster with tabloid publisher Sir Richard Carlisle (played brilliantly by Iain Glen, whom I love from the Wives and Daughters miniseries and as Ser Jorah Mormont in Game of Thrones), and yet again, we’ve lost Mr. Bates to his past. So much drama, and Maggie Smith continues to steal the show as the Dowager Countess of Grantham. Love this show!

Howard's End by E.M. ForsterFor those of you looking for books similar to Downton Abbey, check out Dana Huff’s list of books at Much Madness is Divinest Sense, as well as this article at The New York Times. As mentioned earlier, I, like Dana, will be reading The Forsyte Saga this year, and am also planning on reading Howard’s End by E.M. Forster.

Upcoming Posts:

Monday: Review of A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness

Tuesday: Two posts! My Top Ten List of Classic Novels (as requested by Ankit the Reviewer)

and an analysis on Charles Dickens’ views on philanthropy

Thursday: Review of Charles Dickens: A Life by Claire Tomalin (? if I finish in time)

Have a good week!

Sunday SalonSo, it’s Sunday, the last day of my workless reverie before I start lesson planning this week and return to full-time teaching next week. Boo! Actually, I love the teaching aspect of my profession, I love the kids, but sometimes, collaborating with other teachers (adults) kind of bites the big one. So, I have one more day to pretend that I am blissfully unemployed and can do whatever I want. This is all I’ve been doing for the last two weeks, and I don’t regret it a bit!

So, despite the fact that all I’ve been doing lately is exactly what I want (reading, playing Skyrim, and reading some more), there has been a bit of excitement going on in my life! Here’s what I’ve been up to, and what’s on my mind lately:

Boxing and Muay Thai:

When I went home for Christmas, my sister and I engaged in one of our favorite past times: abusing each other with punches and kicks. We’ve always rough-housed, and our husbands usually look at us like we’re nuts, like we’re the 8-year-old boys that they’ve already outgrown. After one of our little play-fighting stints, I pointed out that we really should use this aggression in a way that would provide us with some much needed exercise. Namely, we should join a kickboxing class.

So, Erika did some research and found a boxing gym near us where we could take a trial class and then decide from there. So, nervously, we showed up to the gym, called Undisputed, with butterflies in our stomach, and signed up for a trial class of Muay Thai. Muay Thai is the formal name for kickboxing. The instructor was intimidating with his tattoos, blue mohawk, and black-painted toe nails. He was also rather gruff in voice. Yet, he immediately took us aside to some punching bags and showed us the correct way to punch, kick, and block. It turned out that he was very friendly and was eager to teach us the proper form and techniques in self defense. By the end of the class, we felt that we had some potential and that this was an instructor who could nurture us to success. We were also very sweaty and bruised!

So, we signed up for the gym, and since then, we have taken a boxing class and have both received a free personal training session with our boxing instructor. I must admit that I am very insecure about how out of shape I am, and am very self conscious when I see my red puffy face in the mirror. But, then I remember that everyone is a beginner at one time, and if I commit myself, I soon will be keeping up and slimming down (more like bulking up). I’m already feeling muscles that I haven’t noticed in a while! Plus, sparring with my sister is pretty fun–we even get to kick each other in the ribs. I know we’re strange, but that’s our kind of fun! I’ve never been the yoga type!

Authors as Trolls?

Yesterday, I was surfing around on Goodreads, and came across a really scathing review of a YA novel, which led to my discovery of a growing issue on the bookish social media site, as well as on Twitter. Apparently, in the last week, there has been quite a bit of tension between a few novelists (some very well-known) and Goodreads reviewers.

In short, there have been a couple of instances where a reviewer has written a negative review of a novel, and then is angrily addressed by the author of the book via a blog post, or by other authors (and literary agents) coming to their defense on Goodreads and even on Twitter.

For a recap of the various instances, see here at Cuddlebuggery.

For a reaction to these instances from bloggers, see Bibliophilic Monologues and today’s post from Chrisbookarama.

For a reaction to these instances from a few authors, see here: Veronica Roth, Phoebe North, and Hannah Moskowitz.

I find this all concerning as a reviewer of books, as I think it is my duty to write honest reviews–both the good, the bad, and the ugly. I’m not worried about hurting anyone’s feelings. However, if I don’t like a book, I usually don’t finish it, so I rarely will write a scathing review. However, that could change in the future. Yet, I always will behave as a professional (even though I’m performing this service pro bona, as a hobby), and I would expect the same behavior from the authors being reviewed, who are not performing their services pro bona.

What these authors need to remember is that readers are smart and selective. I find it highly insulting that they would think that one bad review can kill their career, that readers are so easily led that they wouldn’t read between the lines of a review, wouldn’t look at other reviews, wouldn’t read reviews with a critical eye, and would simply not read a book because someone else hated it. Why the hell do I provide links to Goodreads reviews on my own reviews, or more importantly, why do I include links to scathing reviews on my glowing reviews? Because I know that readers are intelligent, that they deserve the opportunity to read my reviews with a critical eye, because they deserve the opportunity to make a choice. Give your readers some credit!

Anyways, that’s something I’ve been thinking about for the last 24 hours…

Downton Abbey Season 2Tonight: Downton Abbey Season 2 Premiere!

Hooray! Downton Abbey returns tonight on Masterpiece Classic for PBS! I am so excited about this, and will probably re-watch the entire season 1 today in preparation for tonight’s episode! If you haven’t checked this series out, I highly recommend it! It is currently streaming on Netflix as well as on the Masterpiece Classic website. Pull a marathon today and watch all four episodes of Season 1 today, and then check your local listings for tonight’s Season 2 premiere! Woo-hoo!

More Books and Future Giveaways

Yesterday, I received more books as I had my last Christmas exchange with my in-laws. I received the following books:

I Want My MTV: The Uncensored Story of the Music Video Revolution by Craig Marks and Rob Tannenbaum

The Iliad by Homer

The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon

Endgame by Samuel Beckett

The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner

The Wise Man’s Fear by Patrick Rothfuss

I also got another literary candle by Paddywax, this time it was the Oscar Wilde scent!

Because a few of these books were repeats of books I already own, and because my shelves are being overrun by books that I’ve read (or won’t read) that I probably won’t ever read again, I have decided that it’s time for me to start giving them away! In the past, I have always sold them to used book stores, but I’d rather give them to people that I know will appreciate them. Namely, all of you! So, look for updates this week on what books I’ll be giving away. Maybe, I’ll do a book a week? Or a few books per month? I will let you know.

In the meantime, here are a few books that will be up for grabs in the future:

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children

A Visit from the Goon Squad

The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay

Olive Kitteridge

Wicked and Son of a Witch

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies

And Then There Were None

And that’s what’s going on with me! What’s going on with you?

2011 has been a huge year in reading for me. I’ve read a lot! Probably more than I have ever read in a single year. I’ve also read a lot of different genres.

This year, I began participating in reading challenges. Specifically, I participated in one major undertaking of a reading challenge: The Seasonal Reading Challenge at Goodreads. This challenge consists of about 30 tasks, each with a different theme, many requiring multiple books read. For this year’s Spring challenge, I really went all out with gusto to meet all of the tasks. While I didn’t end up completing the challenge, I came pretty damn close, with almost 30 books read just in the month of April alone! By completing so many different tasks for this challenge, I ended up reading a lot of books that I never would have considered picking up. For example, I read On the Beach by Nevil Shute simply because it took place in Australia. I ended up really liking this book, as I did with most of the books read for the challenge.

Because I read so much in 2011 before I started writing this blog, I have decided to dedicate each day of this week to the “Best of” certain genres I read, and will include a mini-review for each book not already reviewed on this site. Here is my schedule for the week:

Monday: Top Non-Fiction/Memoirs Read in 2011

Tuesday: Top Ten Favorite Books of 2011 (All genres)

Wednesday: Top Classics Read in 2011

Thursday: Top Adult Contemporary and Young Adult Read in 2011

Friday: Top Fantasy, Science Fiction, and Horror Read in 2011

Saturday: 2011 Reading Stats and 2011 in Review

Meanwhile, the countdown is on to Saturday, the last day of 2011, the last day for me to have completed my goal of 100 books read. I’m pretty confident that I’ll meet that goal (I am reading my 99th book right now).

So, until 2012, all reviews are put on hold! Happy Reading and Happy Holidays!

Swuh-Swear to muh-me that you’ll c-c-c-come buh-back.[..]Swear to me that if Ih-Ih-It isn’t d-d-dead, you’ll cuh-home back.

-Bill Denbrough, Derry, Maine, August, 1958

IT by Stephen King

I swear, Bill.

As did Beverly, Richie, Ben, Eddie, Stan, and Mike. The Loser’s Club. Lucky seven, plus me equals eight. I made this vow subconsciously in 1990, when I read IT at 11, and finally, it seems that the Turtle has pulled me back into honoring this oath.

IT by Stephen KingIf you’ve never read IT by Stephen King, you probably have no idea what I am talking about. You don’t know about Bill and the rest of the Loser’s Club, and certainly don’t know about the Turtle. But stay with me friends and readers, as what I’m about to share should connect with all constant readers, even if you’re not one of Uncle Stevie’s Constant Readers.

Have you ever read a book that was so engaging that you felt that you were there, knee-deep in the thick of it? Have you ever felt a friendship, a kinship with the characters that was so strong that you laughed with them, cried with them, and would go to the ends of the earth for them if they asked you? You know exactly what kind of soda they drink, what movies they want to see, what their bedtime ritual is, even though the author has never told you. Do you ever look back at these characters and wonder, “What have they been up to?” and think about how much you miss them?

I don’t think I’m alone in this, and I don’t think that readers who feel this way are mentally unhinged or are lacking in real life social skills.

I have been missing my buddies in the Loser’s Club for almost 22 years! I look for references to them in King’s other books, and sometimes see or hear about them in their later years (Insomnia comes to mind immediately), but still haven’t seen them in a while. I hope and hope that IT will come back and that the gang will have to honor their promise once more (although, they’ll be pushing 60 at this point), googling “sequel to IT” about once every two years. No dice yet.

11/22/63Of course, I don’t just read Stephen King novels for references to Derry (the fictional setting for IT), and I certainly wasn’t looking for any leads in his latest novel 11/22/63. King’s latest offering attempts to answer the questions “What if you could stop the assassination of JFK? What effect would it have on the world?” Well, the assassination took place in Dallas, not Maine, and seemingly has no connection to child-killing monsters. Thus, I had no reason to believe that I might get a peek at what’s going on in good old Derry.

Semi-Spoiler Alert!!!

Imagine my surprise (and burgeoning hope) when the protagonist, who has found a way to travel in time to 1958, decides that he needs to spend some time in Derry, circa September-Halloween, 1958. This would mean he would be in Derry right after I last saw The Loser’s Club all together! I get to see what happened next!

I almost wept tears of joy when I read on and found myself right back in the rotten little town I knew so well. The standpipe was there. Mr. Keene and his drugstore. The Barrens! The (gulp) Kitchener Ironworks (I know what’s in that gigantic pipe!). Honestly, I would have been happy with just the first line that the narrator writes as he enters Derry: “There’s something wrong with that town.” But, no, King takes me back to everything! And the best part: I got to see a few of my favorite Losers! I was so happy! Thank you Uncle Stevie!

This is where I stop with the spoilers.

I am now past the Derry interlude in 11/22/63, and I am content. I got a check-in with a few of my pals, I know they’re doing good in 1958, and I am hopeful that we will have another run-in (maybe an even longer visit! Fingers crossed!) in the future.

LostI am so grateful for books like IT that provide such a thorough and complete reading experience that it completely comes alive for me. Books can be real. Characters can be real. This is truly why I read. Anyone who doesn’t read is missing out on this experience. There are very few other mediums that can offer this experience that reading offers. Television serials comes close (Lost and Twin Peaks immediately come to my mind. I will wonder what’s going on with those characters for years as well).

If you have never had a kinship with characters like I (and many, many others) have had with the Loser’s Club from IT, I hope that one day you will come across that book that provides it. Maybe you could read IT and join up with the Loser’s Club like me. It is an amazing and very satisfying experience.

Lucky seven (+1) for life!

Sunday SalonSo, as is the case every year, November’s gone and December is here. It’s weird how that always happens, huh?

November wasn’t very productive for me, reading-wise, but I was a good girl and wrote quite a bit. Of course, if I hadn’t gone AWOL during Thanksgiving break, it would’ve been quite a bit more productive. Especially since I signed up for a read-a-thon that I didn’t end up participating in. Shameful!

However, there are a couple of things that I am especially proud of in relation to my blog that have just transpired. First, I hit my 75th post yesterday! I know it’s not that big of a number, but remember that I only just started blogging (I started in late August!). Plus, I have a tendency to start something, get obsessed with it, and then get over it and move on to a new hobby. So far, this is not the case with blogging. I am proud to say that I am writing several hundred words every day (almost) here on my blog, which has been a goal of mine for years! Finally, I am writing regularly! Huzzah!

Achievement Unlocked

Similarly, I have hit 25 followers on my blog this last month. Tiny number to many, but to me it is simply astounding. I can’t believe 25 of you are interested in reading my writing on a day-to-day basis! I am so very flattered and I appreciate your support and interest. Thank you to any and all who read my daily posts!

Finally, yesterday I made a monumental move and came out to my closest friends about what I am doing here. I have been keeping my blog address a secret, as I wanted it to be my own private place where I could write about whatever I wanted and not be influenced by the people in my day-to-day life. However, I now feel comfortable with what I am doing here, blogging is a very important part of my life, and so I revealed my blog site to my good friends Leigh and Jason. If you happened to read my very first post, you might remember that Jason is the man who came up with the moniker “Bork” for me, and thus is responsible for the title and theme of my blog. Leigh is my favorite bookish person in real life. It is she with whom I spend countless hours on the porch, drinking coffee and discussing our latest books. Without Leigh, I probably would have never had the guts to start this book blogging project. So thanks, Leigh and Jason for helping inspire this blog, and if you are now reading this, welcome!

So, since I’m all meta right now, discussing blogging and such, here is November’s blogging in review:

Number of Books Read in November: 4

Number of Reviews Written in November: 8

Horns by Joe Hill

The Secret Diary of Laura Palmer by Jennifer Lynch

And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

Sticky Readers: How to Attract a Loyal Blog Audience by Writing More Better by Margaret Andrews

The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss

Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout

Mad Men (Television Show on AMC)

I also signed up for a couple of challenges in November to be completed in 2012. These are:

A Classics Challenge

Back to the Classics Challenge

The Award-Winning Challenge

In addition, this month, I am taking part in some holiday events relating to book blogging, which I signed up for in November:

Book Bloggers Holiday Card Exchange

Book Blogger Holiday Swap

The 2011 Virtual Advent Tour

November was a good month, and I am looking forward to making December an even better one!

Children of the same family, the same blood, with the same first associations and habits, have some means of enjoyment in their power, which no subsequent connections can supply…

~Jane Austen, Mansfield Park, 1814

On Friday, my sister Erika and I got together to kick off Veteran’s Day weekend. We haven’t spent a day together in a long time, so it was long overdue. We’re both very busy with teaching (I work as an English teacher, she works as a Special Education teacher) and we’re both newlyweds, so we sort of lose track of each other. It’s rather sad that we were in better contact before she moved down to San Diego. Now she lives in the same neighborhood, and we’re lucky if we see each other once a month!

Erika came over early, around 8:00 in the morning, and we both grabbed a cup of coffee and sat on the couch and gabbed. As always, we shared stories from work, married life, and then moved on to the more emotional topic: family.

We are planning our trip up to Sacramento for Christmas, and it might be kind of awkward as I haven’t spoken to my dad in a few months. Make that six months. He doesn’t call me and I don’t call him. This happens every year and then we see each other at Christmas, catch up on each other’s life (well, my life), and act like there’s nothing wrong. I am sick of this sham.

I’m not even sure I want to see him. Maybe I’ll just spend the whole time at my mom’s house. But, that’ s just silliness, I know–what I need to do is be a grown-up, put my big girl pants on, and talk to him about our fractured relationship. Something’s got to change. It’s been weighing on me, not just for months, but for years, not speaking to Dad.

Erika nodded her head knowingly when I explained this to her:

Me: Have you ever noticed that when we’re fighting with Mom or each other or haven’t talked to Dad in a while, that even if we get on with life, it’s always there. Always in the background of our life. It’s like, being so close as a unit growing up, we developed into this one being–each of us is a part of a whole. When one piece is missing, we don’t feel whole anymore. I’m not 100% without you guys in my life. It’s always been that way.

Well, things almost got sobby there, so, after that discussion, we decided we were hungry and wanted to check out some used book stores. Erika was looking for a copy of Rosemary’s Baby and The Exorcist. I advised her against Rosemary’s Baby as the book is exactly the same as the movie. Waste of time if you’ve already seen the movie! Unfortunately, neither used bookstore we visited had a copy of either. So, we returned home after lunch.

We still had lots of time to enjoy each other’s company, so we decided to talk a walk down to a local independent bookstore, The Grove, to see if I could find myself a journal. It was a 20-minute walk, and though we started off chilly, by the time we arrived at the store we were both sweating. I was wearing boots with ill-fitting socks and could feel little blisters forming on the balls of my feet.

However, I was revived as soon as we entered the shop. I was delighted to find so many wonderful bookish items to add to my Christmas wish list! They had some lovely candles that were inspired by classic authors–Whitman is scented of grass, Poe is scented with absinthe, Austen with tuberose. I loved them! If you’re looking for a bookish gift like this, click the above picture for a link to the Paddywax Library Candles website. I also found a 5-year journal called Jane-a-Day, where each page has 5 short entry spaces for the writer to record a sentence or two about the day, each page accompanied by a Jane Austen quote. The idea is that you go through the book once every year until at five years you have an entry filled in each space, having chronicled every day for five years. Very cool! I ended up buying a small journal for recording blog ideas and a copy of Olive Kitteridge to read for the Award-Winning Challenge (it’s a Pullitzer winner).

We walked back home. My feet were killing me and Erika was wishing she hadn’t brought a heavy coat. Despite my discomfort, Erika told me a few things that gave me a thrill. First, she told me that my blog has inspired her to read again (she’s been in a dry spell for a while); that I have made reading sound so pleasurable. The best compliment ever! Also, she confided that she and her husband are considering writing their own blog as well. So, I gave her some ideas, and once we got home, I shared some of my favorite blogs of varying types with her. It sounds like she is deciding between a photography blog, a movie blog, a music blog, or an all-of-the-above blog. I’m very excited for them and hope they pursue this!

Shortly after our return, she went to her own home, and I felt wonderfully giddy. I greeted my husband with a warm smile when he got home from work, happily volunteered to pick up some take-out for dinner, and simply felt content for the rest of the evening.

I am so lucky to have my sister. I’m only a fraction without her and I can’t wait until our next get-together so I can fill myself up all over again!

Erika won't let me post a new picture. Boo.