Monthly Archives: September 2014

Adventures in Barnes & Noble

excited

I’m backkkkkkk, bitches. Woah. Too far.

So, after taking the summer off to, you know, have kids and stuff, I’m finally getting back into book club.  And seriously, I’m like unnecessarily excited about it.  I love book club.  First of all, I love reading and books and I love talking about books.  Then, of course, it’s just an excuse to drink wine and eat cheese and get together with a few of my close friends and talk about one anothers lives.  Seriously, I didn’t go to book club for a few months and I don’t think I’ve seen anyone.  Well, I’ve seen them, but it hasn’t been consistent or reliable and I miss them.  So, this month’s book is This Is Where I Leave You by Jonathan Tropper, which you may recognize as the new movie that’s coming out with Jason Bateman & Tina Fey.  We are excellent at picking books based on movies, I’ve gotta tell ya.  But it’s nice, because it means we read the book before seeing the movie, and it helps us get a nice variety of genres in.

While that is all very well and good, and I’m OBVIOUSLY excited about it, that isn’t even the exciting part of my story.  So, first of all, I gotta tell you, FUCK non-automatic doors.  It takes me at least 5 minutes to get into anyplace that doesn’t open for me with this damn double decker bus masquerading as a stroller.  But I do get in, and move on with my day. I go to get the book, and I take the girls with me, which leads to a COMPLETE AND TOTAL MELTDOWN in Barnes and Noble.  Just as I found the book, Maddy started to fuss, and since we had stopped at the grocery store before the mall, I knew it was a wet diaper situation.  So I took them into the bathroom to change.  A very nice lady actually knocked on the stall door (their changing table is inside their handicapped stall, which honestly seems weird – what if a handicapped person came in while I was changing them?  I was NOT QUICK) and asked if I needed help, which was nice. Then I had to find a quiet corner to sit them on the floor (in their carseats, of course) to feed them both before they would settle.  So, I was all kinds of DONE with this trip by the time I got to the register.  The lady asked me if I wanted to renew my membership, and I said fine, because it’s only $20 instead of $25 and with book club it usually ends up being worth it.  And I have a gift card that I found in my wallet – I think someone gave it to me for my birthday and I forgot about it.  I assumed it had the usual $25 on it, so I got ready to pull out $10 or so for the book.  NOPE, THE GIFT CARD HAD $50 AND I HAD TO PAY $0 TO RENEW MY MEMBERSHIP AND BUY THE BOOK.  I was thrilled.  Like, unbelievably happy.

This is my life now.

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The Times They Are A’Changin’

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I was chatting with a friend recently, and I realized that while i have definitely been reading fewer and fewer books, I’ve been more than making up for it with online reading.  I’ve always considered myself a fiction reader, and really only “counted” books when I was thinking about what I’ve read.  Since having babies – and even before, since starting my current job, in an office rather than in retail – I’ve started reading online a lot.  Lots of blogs, mostly, although I’m not opposed to an article or two.  This marks a pretty big change in my reading habits, and it’s one that I think is tied pretty directly into where I am in my life right now.

For most of my life, I’ve been told what I need to read, and so all my personal reading was purely for pleasure.  I didn’t read any nonfiction because I didn’t have to – I only read what I wanted to during my personal reading time.  Now I’m still only reading what I want to, but I’m more interested in nonfiction – still not dry dusty histories or even biographies, but design and DIY tips to learn how to make our home nice without spending too much money, or parenting articles and advice – even parenting blogs written by non-experts give a nice perspective on how other people are raising their kids.  In a way it’s a less rebellious way to read – for a  long time I only read nonfiction when I was forced to, by school.  Now I’m free to admit that there is a time and place for nonfiction, and it’s absolutely in my life.

More importantly, though, blogs and articles can be read quickly.  Reading even one chapter of a novel can take twenty minutes, easily.  When do I have twenty minutes free to sit and read? (Spoiler alert: it’s during story time, IF I put away the laundry beforehand).  Reading online, however, can be done in short spurts that fit into my life.  Finish my paperwork with five spare minutes before I have to be on a conference call?  Thats enough time to read a new blog post.  Ten minutes left of my lunch break after eating and tinkering with my lineup?  Plenty of time to catch up with a few articles.  I can even read them on my smartphone while I’m snuggling with one of the girls.

So, it’s not so much that I’m reading empirically less these days.  I’m just reading in a completely new and different format.  And it’s one that even I don’t recognize as “real” reading.

 

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No-Cry?

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So, I finished Elizabeth Pantley’s The No-Cry Sleep Solution, and I have to say, I’m surprised.  I knew I was already using some of her techniques – specifically the bedtime routine (seriously guys respect the bedtime routine, EVERY SINGLE NIGHT that we get lazy and don’t do it the girls are up ALL NIGHT) – and I kind of expected there to be a lot more in the book itself that I enjoyed & found usable.  Instead, I found myself wondering who the hell this woman thinks she is to write a book – actually, a whole series of books.  She is a proponent of attachment parenting and co-sleeping, which I’m not super into – which is fine, except that most of the book is written as though OF COURSE you’re doing these things because you LOVE YOUR CHILD and only somebody who doesn’t LOVE THEIR CHILD would insist on them sleeping somewhere other than their bed (despite the fact that co-sleeping is famously controversial, all major medical bodies regularly flip-flop their position on it, and HELLO BB and I sleep in a  full size bed and have twins.  #sorrynotsorry).  Honestly, I’m all for attachment parenting.  You want to put your kid in your bed and have them attached to your boob for multiple years?  GREAT, I’M SUPER HAPPY FOR YOU AND HOPE YOU AND YOUR CHILD ENJOY YOUR BONDING TIME AND GROW UP TO HAVE A HAPPY AND HEALTHY RELATIONSHIP.  But I cannot do that.  I need my alone time, I need to have some separation and give my children time to bond with their father and grandparents and whatever, REASONS.  I’m absolutely not shitting on attachment parenting (in fact, I haven’t actually read the “official” book on it, but I fully intend to, simply to have a full understanding of what it is).

 

So, sort of went on a tangent there.  But honestly, I was underwhelmed by this book.  There was a lot of “You know best, so do whatever you want, even if it goes against what everyone is telling you” following right on the heels of REAL, MEDICAL information, like “babies must sleep on their backs because it reduces the risk of SIDS by over 50%”.  I felt like this was irresponsible, like she was giving mothers permission to do things that are LEGITIMATELY dangerous just because it seemed to work for their child.  She also openly says at several points that you should IGNORE advice from your PEDIATRICIAN if it disagrees with your motherly instinct – which, again, I think is exceptionally irresponsible.  If you’re finding yourself consistently disagreeing with your pediatrician, and he or she is not respectful or supportive of your parenting choices, you GET ANOTHER PEDIATRICIAN, not ignore the person who is supposed to be giving you medical advice.  I actually tried to look up Pantley’s credentials around this point, thinking that she must be pretty well-educated and respected to go about giving such ballsy advice.  She’s pretty cagey about her actual credentials – every biography about her simply lists her as a “parenting expert” and talks about the fact that she’s a mother and an author and parenting columnist and gives talks on the subject fairly frequently.  Nothing really mentioned about what credentials she had to get her to that point (besides the four kids), so I have to assume she really doesn’t have any.  I’ll let you know if I discover otherwise.

 

So, besides the fact that she comes across as super judgmental and kind of reckless with the type of advice she’s flinging about as though she has a right to do so, I also found her advice to be…useless?  That’s not really the right word.  But it was a lot of what I saw as common sense.  I did really like the idea of tracking your baby’s sleep patterns for 10 days, then looking back at the log & seeing when he or she is sleeping and where there may be problems; similarly she recommends logging what the baby does in the hour or so before bedtime to help determine if the baby is getting all wound up right before bed.  But beyond that, her advice is common sense – make sure your baby is sleeping the right amount for his or her age, because overtired babies fight more sleep.  Start a bedtime routine, and make sure it’’s quiet and in dim lighting and guides your baby to feeling sleepy and signals to him that it’s time for sleep.  Learn the difference between  your baby’s “sleeping” sounds and the sounds when she is actually waking up, and if he or she is simply making noise in her sleep – don’t wake her up!  Teach your baby to fall asleep in his crib (or basinett, or your bed, or wherever you want her to sleep) instead of your arms so you can do things while your baby sleeps!  I was honestly underwhelmed.

 

And that was how I felt about the book as a whole – when I wasn’t frankly offended by the tone she used or horrified by the irresponsibility of her advice, I was underwhelmed by the common sense nature of what she had to offer.

 

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The Sacrifices of Parenting

Me, all the time now.

Me, all the time now.

Normally I’m strictly a fiction reader (mostly fantasy, unless I’m forced out of my comfort zone by my book club), but these babies are forcing me to read non-fiction.  Namely, their refusal to nap and stay asleep past 2am is forcing me to buy and read baby sleep books.  I bought Solve Your Child’s Sleep Problem by Ferber (yeah, the infamous cry-it-out book) and The No Cry Sleep Solution by Pantley (which is basically an anti-cry-it-out manifesto).  Before I had kids I had no idea how many theories there were about parenting.  I thought it was basically, you know – keep them alive – try not to let them be assholes – profit.  But I guess there’s crying it out and attachment parenting and perfectionist parenting and if Bravo can be believed all kinds of extreme parenting ideas as well.  Apparently BB and I need to figure out what we believe and what kind of parents we want to be and until we figure it out our children will never ever ever sleep.  Of course, it’s a little bit difficult to find time to read when you’re working.  And parenting.  And your children are not sleeping.  So, we’ll see how long it takes me to work my way through them.


So, I’ll be back someday soon with my reaction to those books, and maybe some more.  If this was written on real paper instead of typed onto a laptop there would be coffee stains on the page.

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Fantasiessss

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So, I’ve mentioned a time or two before that I’ve been pretty heavily invested in the fantasy genre as of late (meaning, like, at least the last two or three years?).  I’ve read Harry Potter more times than I can count. I’ve gone deep enough into LOTR to read The Silmarillion.  I’m almost caught up with Game of Thrones, but I feel like I’ve lost track of the characters.  I’ve done The Inheritance Trilogy and the Circle of Magic and The Enchanted Forest Chronicles and The Daughters of the Moon and The Hunger Games and probably a few more I’m forgetting .  My favorite series of all time is The Wheel of Time.  So, yeah, I’m into fantasy.  Just a little.  Sci Fi, too (haaay, DS9!!) but more so fantasy.  

It isn’t the magic and the mystery and all the things that simply aren’t in our world.  Or, at least, not entirely.  Obviously, those things are sweet and anybody who tells you that reading about someone who can ride a dragon or make a sword of fire out of his or her mind is boring is obviously an idiot.  But that isn’t really what’s attractive – at least to me – about these stories.  What draws me to them is the scale, the scope.  Very, very rarely do these stories deal with the mundane, day to day realities of living in a world in which dragon dung and magical swords cause everyday sorts of chaos.  These characters aren’t drained because they worked at their jobs and took care of their families and their homes and it’s just been a really rough week, OK?  They’re drained because the fate of many rests on their shoulders, because the world may live or die by how pure they manage to be.  

Obviously, I’m not saying that I want the world to end or that I want it to be in danger of ending based entirely on choices that I or my friends may make.  That’s a lot of responsiblity and I really don’t think we’re ready for it (I also don’t think we’re ready for mortgages and children and such, but here we are).  But sometimes it’s nice to  imagine that all the shenanigans that we deal with on a day-to-day basis can fade into the background as we all turn our focus on something much, much bigger.


Also, I mean, come on.  There’s magic.

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World Wide Conspiracy

This has nothing to do with this post, but man I miss RoL

This has nothing to do with this post, but man I miss RoL

So, at first I thought I was craving a book, but now I’m thinking maybe that isn’t it.  See, a craving usually comes from within – it may be triggered by something outside, like a song or a picture, but the sustained craving comes from your body (or mind!) telling you you want it.  This, this is different.  I feel like every time I turn around, the universe is SHOVING Fear and Loathing at me as if reminding me that it’s been an unacceptable length of time since the last time I read it.  First a random Florence + the Machine song triggerd it (literally, she just like mentioned a rabbit and my brain went rabbit–>Alice in Wonderland–>White Rabbit–>Jefferson Airplane–>Fear and Loathing).  Then a signed copy of the book was featured in an episode of Pawn Stars (I think that’s the one?  With the old man who looks Asian but is really just sleepy all the time and the young guys who’s name is like Chum?  Why are there so many shows about pawn shops?).  Then White Rabbit ACTUALLY came on Pandora on my way to work yesterday.  There were a few other, smaller things, but they’ve all blended into the sleep deprivation that is my life lately to leave me with a VERY STRONG feeling that I should reread Fear and Loathing.  Also, maybe Fear & Loathing in America, a book of letters of Thompson’s during the 60s that I bought accidentally once that is seriously entertaining.

So, despite currently being AWFUL at finishing anything I’m reading, or really finding time to read anything at all – and, in all honesty, not being 100% sure where my copy actually IS – I’m considering reading Fear and Loathing.  I can finish it in a day or so, right?

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Oh, This Again?

So I had this post all written and ready to go, and then I hopped online to post it (because GODDAMNIT I’m determined to do this again, for some reason, as if there isn’t enough on my plate?) and realized it’s essentially the SAME. DAMN. TOPIC. As my last post.  Five months ago.  But the only other post I managed to begin writing yesterday isn’t nearly done yet – I thought it was last night but this morning on my way to work I realized it was WRONG VERY WRONG AND NEEDS FIXING and well here’s where I’m at, which is the same place I was at five months ago.  

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I feel like the worst sort of reader lately.  I’ve gotten little to no reading done, and the reading that I have gotten done has fallen into precisely two categories: 1) blogs and 2) rereading things I’ve already read.  Now, on one hand, I can quite easily make excuses for myself as a reader – I’ve got two month old twins, they’re teething, I’m working forty hours a week, etc. etc.  But honestly I still feel disappointed in myself.  I feel like reading has always been such a fundamental part of my personality and for it to suddenly start slipping through the cracks makes me feel like I’m starting to lose myself.  Most nights I’m able to read for a little while during story time, since BB is much better at voices and reading stories to the girls than I am (not the the girls know the difference yet, really), but sometimes I fall asleep or have laundry to put away or decide to write instead.  

 

Then there’s the fact that instead of using my – limited, as discussed – reading time to read something new, I’m rereading things that I’ve already read.  I’m rereading the Wheel of Time, to be specific, because I had a craving, and because rereading things makes me feel good.  It sounds silly but it does.  I know the characters and I know the setting and it’s like slipping into a really well-fitting pair of jeans, it’s just comfortable and it makes me happy.  But it isn’t stretching my mind or my creativity, and it certianly isn’t making me a better person in any way.  So it’s just helping me stagnate.  And, yes, book club is still active, but I took a month or two off at the end of my pregnancy / right after giving birth and then book club took a month off and now I won’t have a book due till October and I’ll just figure out when I’ll fit that in when it becomes an issue.  


So, I’m still struggling to get any reading in, and the reading that I am getting in is old reading that I’ve done before, but makes me happy.  I guess the moral of the story is any reading is better than no reading?

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