Thursday, May 31, 2012

Thursday Thoughts [5.31.12]

Linking up with Sar for Thursday thoughts 
1. Running shoes are so expensive! I started looking into them last weekend because I thought there might be some good Memorial Day sales. Wrong! I think I might have to treat myself to a new pair after I finish my Couch to 5k program. I think that'll be worthy of a reward!


Like maybe these? Although I'd rather have the men's blue and green ones.
While we're on the topic of running, have any of you ever gotten sore shoulders/backs from running? My shoulders hurt way more than my legs ever do!

2. Swimsuit shopping is an awful torture. And I hate it. The end.

3. Alyx of Every Day is a New Adventure (and my wonderful designer of my blog layout!) is co-hosting a pretty fun blog swap! Go here to check it out! Because mail is fun. And presents are fun. And Christmas is fun.




4. Tomorrow is 1.8 for me and Pat! (aka a year and eight months) Woohoo! Although last year I was with him here


so it's exciting, but not as nice as last year. But! Only 76ish days till he's back. :)

Happy Thursday, friends!

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Do you type like you talk?

Hey friends!

A fun picture. Just cuz I want to. Me and Meleah circa 2007
On the coattails of my post about sincerity in blogging I was thinking about it... And in some ways, I don't sound at all in real life like I do in my blog!

The example that sticks out the most is that in my blog (or in any kind of writing) is that I'll call people "love." I text it, start letters with it -- but I never call someone love when I'm speaking! I'm sure there are other things too. I know out loud I'll say some things that would seem silly in writing. (Like "holy potatoes!" which is something Pat and I say.)

I would, however, walk up to a crowd of people and say "hey friends!" just like I did at the beginning of this post. I've been known to shout out "dude!" when I'm excited and call guys and gals alike "dude." So it's a mixed bag, I guess.

What about you all? How do you think you translate into the written word?

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

On blogging and being genuine

I was planning on posting a recap of Anna's visit today, but she's still here! Sooo... I'll have that soon. With actual pictures! Woah! ;)

A while back, I experienced something in the blog world that just rubbed me the wrong way, and I'd like to see what you all think of it.

I'd been following a blog for not very long when the author wrote a really personal post. She seemed to  open up to her readers, and that's something I admire in the blogging world.

I commented on the post, thanking her for her openness and honesty. A little bit later, she emailed me back, saying thanks for the comment. Nbd, lots of bloggers do that.

But a second after the first comment-reply, I got another. "P.S. Would love to have you become a follower!!! I love new friends!"

And I stopped following her blog.

Here were my reasons:

1. I was already following her blog, which she didn't even bother to check before asking me to follow her.

2. I felt like her request took away all the sincerity I'd seen in her post. It suddenly seemed like all she cared about was gaining followers. If that wasn't her end goal, she could easily have started a friendship with my by visiting my blog or starting a conversation based on my original comment. (Yes, we all pay attention to how many we have, and it's exciting to have readers. But it isn't the only reason we blog, is it?)

What do you guys think? Have any of you ever asked someone to become a follower? Maybe it's just because I'm still fairly new at this whole blogging game, but it really rubbed me the wrong way.

To end this post on a positive note...


I'd like to highlight some of the bloggers that write about real things, not just the glamorous (although I'm sure they all are very fancy!); whose posts I enjoy, and who seem to be open, honest, and genuine! (If any of you don't want to be featured, please let me know!)

 




Tamara from Lehmann Laughter



Sar from [life of love]





Stop by and show these wonderful ladies some love! And also, let me know -- Was I being too sensitive? Is asking for followers a normal thing in the blogging community? I'd love to hear your opinions and experiences!


Friday, May 25, 2012

Book review: Unwind


Unwind by Neal Shusterman

Description from Goodreads (below) can be found here along with other reviews. Linking up with Blonde... Undercover Blonde for Book Club Friday.

Connor, Risa, and Lev are running for their lives.

The Second Civil War was fought over reproductive rights. The chilling resolution: Life is inviolable from the moment of conception until age thirteen. Between the ages of thirteen and eighteen, however, parents can have their child "unwound," whereby all of the child's organs are transplanted into different donors, so life doesn't technically end. Connor is too difficult for his parents to control. Risa, a ward of the state is not enough to be kept alive. And Lev is a tithe, a child conceived and raised to be unwound. Together, they may have a chance to escape and to survive.


I really, really liked this book.

It made me think a lot about real things -- about judging other people and whether you can deserve or not deserve the life you have. 

"Unwind" switches perspectives. This can be an awful tactic because you may not get to know anyone well if you're constantly jumping from one POV to another, but Unwind uses it well. 

When I told people (my mom, my doctor, friends...) what "Unwind" is about, they'd ask "but who would ever unwind their kids?"

The switching perspectives allow us to see who exactly would unwind their kid. See, first of all, it comes with no stigma. So in our mindset, you think "who would throw their kid away like that?" But in the mindset of many of the people in "Unwind," it's just as everyday as adoption. recycling. garage sales. It's something that some people do. And often, it's seen as a contribution to society.

The three main characters are Conner, Risa and Lev.

Conner comes from a normal family, but he's a hot head. He got into a lot of fights at school and didn't get great grades and his parents decide to unwind him.

Risa comes from a state home that just doesn't have the budget to keep all the kids until they'e 18.

And Lev--Lev was the most interesting to me. He's a tithe, in the religious sense of the word. His parents had ten kids, and so he's the ten percent they have to give up.

(All this is in the first 30 or so pages, so I'm not spoiling anything.)


I think I liked this book because it made you think about real things without shoving them down your throat. I know there are religious and political subtexts about abortion and human rights, but I can't say with any certainty which way the author leans.

"Unwind" is fast-paced and full of surprises. There are so many nuances about the unwinding process and many we don't learn until the end of the book. The characters were very real to me; I rooted for them and liked them. It was the kind of book that I read 90 pages without really noticing I'd read it.

Some people might feel like it pushes the issues too much. You do have to go in with an open mind. But I highly recommend "Unwind." 

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Thursday Thoughts [5.24.12]

1. I noticed the other day that I had lost a follower! I looked through to see who it was. My mom. Ha. Dunno why she disappeared for a day, but she's back now.


2. Little sister is coming to visit! Anna will be hanging out with me and Emily tonight through next Wednesday. I'm SO excited! She'll go to the pool during the day while I'm at work and then at night and for the three day weekend, I'm thinking we'll wander around downtown, paint some pottery, and maybe go to the lake or the aquarium! Eeeeee!

3. Did you guys know that if we were hanging out for 40 minutes together, I could run for more than half of that time? ME EITHER. But yesterday, I did. Yup, I did the running challenge for this week -- Run 6 minutes, walk two. Then do that again three more times. Woah. Can you tell I'm a liiiittle proud of myself? :)

4. Yesterday I had the opportunity to try another new food and I chickened out. Whoops. But that's why it's one of my goals. It's not supposed to be easy, right?


Hope you're all having a wonderful Thursday morning! Anyone else have big plans for this weekend? (Or ideas of how to entertain a 13 year old for 6 days? ;)

Linking with Sar for Thursday thoughts!



Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Ripple effect

In January, I started going on walks every day during my lunch break. My building has a fake indoor walking track. It's really the bridge between the upstairs of the north and south wings, but it happens to be a circle, and people happen to use it as a walking track.

When it got warmer, I started going outside.

See, there's a wee little lake outside, just behind my building. Too small to be considered a lake, really, but not small enough to be a pond. So when it was warm enough, I started walking around and around that lake. I liked it lots better than inside – I was less visible, and I did only ten laps instead of the forty I do on the tiny inside track.

One day, I noticed some men walking around my tiny lake. Then they crossed the street. I kept walking, and about ten minutes later, they crossed back to my side of the street and continued around my lake.

Thick-headed as I am, I had to witness this a couple of times before I started to wonder what was on the other side of the street. But finally one day I followed them...

And found a bigger, better lake!



I started walking between the two. Eventually, I saw someone disappearing across a street near my new lake. I was a quicker learner this time and soon followed her across and found yet another lake. This one – this third lake – is my favorite. It's where I see baby ducks and baby geese and turtles, and it's where the songbirds seem to live.

I've found one more lake, and suspect there's another two, at least, lurking around some other corners. I have yet to explore that far.

I called my mom one day and told her about following the people across the street. About how all this time I'd been walking around the same little pondlake over and over when really there's miles and miles of trail around these many lakes. She exclaimed "That's like a metaphor!"



If I were a crazy cool author like my fav. Sarah Dessen (what up Jaz? So glad you love her too!) I know I'd be able to weave this into a story and use it to change my characters' lives. And maybe someday I will. (Dibs. None of you get to use it. ;)


But for now, what I have to say is this:

The ripple effect that can be caused by small changes amazes me. November first of last year, I started a new job. Around the same time, I started this blog, and I started trying to pay attention to what I ate. These three beginnings have interwoven and changed so much of my daily life.

I look back and feel like so much has changed. And sometimes I forget the work that has gone into those changes. None of these changes were easy. Small, yes. Easy? No.

Now, every day I take a break at lunch and enjoy a little bit of nature. Sure, I'm walking on a paved path in an industrial area. But I can't explain to you the joy of hearing birdsong or of seeing those sunbathing turtles and fluffy yellow baby geese.

And tonight? Tonight I'll be running – my third week in a row of going three times a week. I'll be running for 24 minutes total, the most I've run so far. But it doesn't scare me. So far, in my Couch to 5k club, I've only been amazed at what my body can do.

I'm not writing this to brag on myself. I'm writing this to hopefully show that small changes can have big results. and that big things really start with small steps.

I hope you all are having a lovely, lovely Wednesday. If you got this far, thanks for reading. :)

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

The puzzle...

is finished!


Pat and I tried all through our first seven months or so of dating to finish a puzzle, and then we moved out of the dorms for the summer and had to give up. He gave me this one for Christmas and last week while he was living with me we finished it! 1,000 pieces! My specialties were the clouds and the water reflection. That's another thing off my 24 before 24 list!

I think it looked great. :)

And he looked great cleaning it up. :)



Monday, May 21, 2012

Dear Monday [5.21.12]

Dear Monday... well. At least next Monday is memorial day, anyway.

Dear Pat, three months apart is a long time. Like, a really long time. But when you're done with your summer yard work, your awesome internship, and your summer class, when you've said goodbye to the kitties, mom, sister and dad, I'll be here.


In the meantime, thanks for taking six pictures with me during the two KU baseball games only for me to decide I liked the first best. You're nice.


Dear Jenna, in one of Sarah Dessen's books, she talks about having someone to be your 2 a.m. -- someone you can call no matter the time, no matter the situation. Thanks for being my 2 a.m. last night, even though it was actually 11:30. (That's pretty late for this old lady.)

Dear Mom, thanks for being there, even though me and Em are here. I wish I could do more.

Dear blog friends, my heart is pretty heavy today. Pat's gone for the summer and I've got some family stuff going on. If you pray, please keep us in mind. Good vibrations and positive energy are also welcome.

Linking with Megan for Dear Monday and Meg for Mingle Monday.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Book review: Delirium


Delirium by Lauren Oliver

Description from Goodreads (below) can be found here along with other reviews. Linking up with Blonde... Undercover Blonde for Book Club Friday.

Before scientists found the cure, people thought love was a good thing. They didn’t understand that once love -- the deliria -- blooms in your blood, there is no escaping its hold. Things are different now. Scientists are able to eradicate love, and the government demands that all citizens receive the cure upon turning eighteen. Lena Holoway has always looked forward to the day when she’ll be cured. A life without love is a life without pain: safe, measured, predictable, and happy.

But with ninety-five days left until her treatment, Lena does the unthinkable: She falls in love.


I really, really liked this this book. I'm listening to the next book, Pandemonium, right now! I'm doing another list of thoughts because I'm not sure I can articulate likes and dislikes. Ready, set, GO!

1. I can't decide how I feel about Lena, the protagonist. She's very slow to move. I think I've become used to BAMF main characters in dystopian books who see that something is wrong and are like WE MUST CHANGE THIS.

But Lena isn't like that. Because of things that happened in her family and the inescapable influence of the society in which she's raised, she has been completely brainwashed. She drank the kool-aid. And even when she falls in love, even when she begins to dread the date of the procedure that will make her incapable of love instead of looking forward to it, she doesn't do anything but whine about how close it is. It pissed me off that she was so passive...

but it was maybe more realistic to have the main character be scared than the protagonists who are ready and eager to change things. It took time for her to see the light and change her mind. I was just impatient and ready for action way before it happened.

2. I mentioned this when I started reading it but for any audiobook friends out there, this one is read by Sarah Drew, an actress from Grey's Anatomy. She is stellar. She sounds young enough to be Lena and really emotes well.



3. I've heard other people say they thought it started slow, but I was really hooked all the way through from the beginning. And there are more and more surprises throughout the book.


That's all I've got for now. I'm starting to wonder what I usually say in these lists. Idk. I don't have a lot to say. But I highly recommend this book, especially if you like dystopians. (Anban, if you're out there, read this!)

Have any of you read it? What do you think?

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Thursday thoughts [5.17.12]

I'm linking up again this week with Sar for Thursday thoughts!


[1.] Pat is essentially living with me this week, and let me tell you, I'm loving it. We've played a couple games of disc golf and watched a few movies (Deep Blue Sea, anyone?) and tonight and tomorrow we're going to KU baseball games! I loooove baseball games, even though I usually go just to be outside and talk and eat and I'm sure Pat will actually want to watch, but it should still be fun! Nothing says summer like baseball!

[2.] Before Pat was allowed to start crashing here, I made him buy groceries. I mean, I can feed him a couple nights here and there, but I knew feeding him for a week was going to break the bank. We both eat a lot of pasta, and so I paid for the sauce and let Pat pick the pasta. This is what he got:


A ginormo box of spaghetti. That picture doesn't really show it, so I made a little size comparison for you:


In front is a normal-sized box of spaghetti. The one in back is the one we've been eating from this week. Woah.

[3.] Ok, so you guys remember a while ago when I was looking for yogurt without a million grams of sugar? Just in case anyone else out there is looking, I've found it in Yoplait's Greek yogurt! I bought the blueberry and it's great!

Source

Well apparently I have food on my mind. But those are my thoughts this week.

I hope you all are eating yummy food and have wonderful, summery plans coming up! Happy Thursday everyone!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Run, Forrest!

Hey guys! Guess what? I went running!
So far, I've gone running twice. The first time was pretty stinkin' miserable.

But the second time?

The second time was ah-may-zing. Maybe the first time in my life a run felt good.

The homework for my Couch to 5k club this week was to walk for five minutes to warm up, then run for two minutes straight. Then walk for three to four minutes. Repeat the running and walking part four times and then stretch.

Starting today, though, we're upping the running to four minutes each time. Yikes!

There was some interest in the running tips I got through my running club, so I thought I'd post some of them today. They'll be after the jump!

The two tips I have from my own (tiny bit of) experience so far?
1. Pee before you leave your house.
2. Make sure you have a rockin' playlist for motivation.


Anyone else out there trying out a new physical activity? I know I felt as foolish when I started Zumba, and I loove it now, so hopefully I'll get there with running!


Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Making a lamp from a champagne bottle

Remember how I said I was super crafty last weekend?

Here's the other craft I finished!


This one was also on my 24 before 24 list because I started it waaay back over Thanksgiving and needed to follow through and finish!

I did pretty much everything wrong while doing this craft, so I'll give you a heads up on where you can do it better if you're looking to recreate it :)

The steps and mistakes to avoid are after the jump!

Friday, May 11, 2012

Book review: Still Alice

Still Alice by Lisa Genova

Description from Goodreads (below) can be found here along with other reviews. Linking up with Blonde... Undercover Blonde for Book Club Friday.

Genova's debut revolves around Alice Howland - Harvard professor, gifted researcher and lecturer, wife, and mother of three grown children. One day, Alice sets out for a run and soon realizes she has no idea how to find her way home. It's a route she has taken for years, but nothing looks familiar. She is utterly lost. Is her forgetfulness the result of menopausal symptoms? A ministroke? A neurological cancer? After a few doctors' appointments and medical tests, Alice has her diagnosis, and it's a shocker -- she has early-onset Alzheimer's disease.

What follows is the story of Alice's slow but inevitable loss of memory and connection with reality, told from her perspective. She gradually loses the ability to follow a conversational thread, the story line of a book, or to recall information she heard just moments before. To Genova's great credit, readers learn of the progression of Alice's disease through the reactions of others, as Alice does, so they feel what she feels -- a slowly building terror.


This book was a very personal, close-to-home read for me. I don't know anyone with Alzheimer's, but my grandmother does have dementia, which affects you in a lot of similar ways, and my mom is a social worker in the division of the elderly and disabled, which encompasses people with Alzheimer's. So I was thinking of my grandmother and mom often as I listened to this one.

My dislikes were few:
1. This one starts out really slowly. It takes a few chapters for us to get to new information--the first few chapters all deal with her noticing something is wrong and then her diagnosis. I think the beginning might be intriguing if they didn't give away that she has Alzheimer's on the back of the book.

2. In the beginning it focuses a lot on Alice's profession. This didn't really bother me, and it was important later, but it does contribute to the slow start, I think.

Likes:
1. What initially intrigued me about this book is that it's told from Alice's perspective. And Genova used her perspective really well. Because of the nature of Alzheimer's, sometimes Alice didn't know how far her disease had progressed until someone told her. And because it was from her point of view, we, as readers, sometimes don't know until she's told. Other times, she'll do something and we're conscious of it and then she'll forget, but because we, as readers, don't have Alzheimer's, we remember and can see the progression even though she can't. For example, she starts repeating herself, asking the same questions over and over within just a few minutes or half an hour. Alice doesn't realize she's doing it, but we do. It's a really captivating perspective and makes you feel like you're going through everything too.

2. There's a whole lot I never knew about Alzheimer's that I learned from this book. Like that they have delusions of things that haven't actually happened or aren't real. That a lot of times they don't recognize themselves in the mirror. My mom confirmed that one--said she's heard of social workers entering a room and hearing the elderly client talking. When they ask who they're talking to, the elderly person will point to the mirror and say "her." Because they don't realize they're old; because that couldn't possibly be their reflection--that woman has wrinkles and white hair.

I had thought Alzheimer's was a familiar disease to me, but this showed me I know very little about it.

3. Like I said, there were a lot of things that reminded me of my grandma. Like my grandma once didn't recognize a pancake--had no idea what it was, poked it, and ended up asking us. So I thought it was very easy to relate to and realistic.

4. Alice thinks about suicide a lot. And while it's easy to say suicide is never the answer, Genova does a really great job of helping her audience through Alice's thought process and helping us see why she would consider that end.


All in all, I thought "Still Alice" was captivating and beautiful. Sometimes I was so into it that once I was at work I feared some of the mishaps that were happening to Alice would happen to me--that I would lose my words or end up putting my cell phone in the freezer or something. I know this one's going to stick with me a long time.

Have any of you read "Still Alice"? Or do any of you have someone close to you experiencing Alzheimer's or dimentia? I'd love to hear about your experience.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Thursday Thoughts [5.10.12]


Linking up with the lovely Sar for Thursday thoughts!

1. Remember when I asked for running advice? Well, yesterday I kind of accidentally joined a running club! I had gotten emails at work about doing a Couch to 5K program so I wandered down to the meeting expecting to pick up the training schedule and peace out.

Turns out I'll be running once a week with a group of 5-6 middle-aged women, one of their husbands, and potentially even their 5-year-old son. I'm also supposed to run 2-3 times on my own every week. I also get a t-shirt! I think it'll be semi-awkward, but probably good for me.

Also, they gave me a list of running tips! I can post some of them if you all are interested.

2. Also, remember when my roommate had the toothbrush mix up a couple weeks ago? Well, earlier this week I got new razors. I saw that she had an orange one, so I picked a yellow one to start using. This morning I got in the shower and she'd changed it out for a yellow razor. What the what? I hid mine behind some shampoo bottles so hopefully she can keep them straight.

3. No pictures so far... hmmm... here's a picture of a maybe snapping turtle I saw when I was walking the other day! He was actually quite large.



4. Boyfriend leaves for Oregon for the summer next Saturday. Boooooo. I will probably start crying the night before and not stop until an hour or so after I drop him off at the airport.

Before he leaves, though we have to finish the puzzle we've been working on. Otherwise, I'm never going to check that off my list!


Happy Thursday everyone!


Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Crayon melty art

Guys. Let me tell you. I got my craft on this weekend. You might notice I have two new things crossed off on my 24 before 24 list. One of them was to do one of these dream crafts.

Well, this weekend, I did one!



I know there have been tutorials for these eeeverywhere, but since it was on my goal list, I'm going to go ahead and document the process.  Check it out after the jump!

A quick PS from yesterday's post--you know how I said I like getting to know you all? Well for some of you I can do it better if you let me answer your comments! Check out this post if you've never gotten a response from me. :)

Monday, May 7, 2012

Dear Monday [5.7.12]

Dear Monday, Oh man. You got me good this week. Or maybe it was Sunday? Either way, I set my alarms for 7:40 and 7:45 instead of 6:40 and 6:45. That's quite a difference and means dry shampoo and a frozen meal for lunch for me. Oh well. The day has already gone up from the rocky start!

Dear Leah, Whatcha doin?

(She held this pose for a good five minutes, despite us calling her name and laughing at her. Silly puppy.)


Dear blog friends and readers, When did there get to be so many of you? Thanks for caring. :) I feel like I know so many of you and love getting to know you better.



Dear Chime, I really didn't like you for at least the first two discs. I didn't understand what was happening at all. But now, I'm stuck in the climax of the story and can't find out what happens till after work and it's killing me! Way to turn yourself around!

                                                                                      Source: is.gd via Abbey on Pinterest



Dear Pinterest, Thank you for these. (Recipe #5 for my  24 before 24 list!)

Linked with Megan and Meg!



Happy Monday, friends! I hope you all had a wonderful, crazy weekend or a sweet, relaxing weekend, or a mix of the two. :) Anyone got anything big going on this week?

PS. Congratulations to Valerie on her first anniversary with her husband!


Saturday, May 5, 2012

Avengers!

Hey friends. Just dropping in reeeaaally quick on a weekend (which may be a first for me?) to let you know what I thought of the new Avengers movie! Me and Pat went with some friends and saw the Friday 12:05 a.m. showing. I fell into bed at three and had to wake up at seven for work. Yeesh.

Source
To put it simply: I loooooved it!

It was so funny. Like, I can't remember the last time I laughed that much in a movie theater. And there's a few cute guys to look at. Which doesn't hurt.

I liked it so. much. better that I thought I would, and I think it has a really wide appeal, even if you aren't a midnight-premier-level fan like me and boyfriend were. :)

If you aren't caught up on all your superhero movies and you can only pick one to watch first, I'd go with Thor. I haven't seen it in a while and was a bit confused about some of the nuances.

But even if you don't see any of them, I think you can catch on well enough. And it is really, really funny.

Have a great weekend friends! And if you see it, let me know what you think :)


Friday, May 4, 2012

Book review: The Kite Runner


The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini

Description from Goodreads (below) can be found here along with other reviews. Linking up with Blonde... Undercover Blonde for Book Club Friday.

A novel set mostly in Afghanistan. The introverted and insecure afghan narrator, Amir, grows up in Afghanistan in the closing years of the monarchy and the first years of the short-lived republic. His best and most faithful friend, Hassan, is the son of a servant. Amir feels he betrays Hassan by not coming to his aid when Hassan is set on by bullies and furthermore forces Hassan and his father Ali to leave his father´s service. Amir´s relatively privileged life in Kabul comes to an end when the communist regime comes to power and his extrovert father, Baba emigrates with him to the U.S. There Amir meets his future afghan wife and marries her. Amir´s father dies in the U.S. and Amir receives a letter from his father´s most trusted business partner and, for a time, Amir´s surrogate father, which makes Amir return, alone, to a Taliban-dominated Afghanistan in search of the truth about himself and his family, and finally, a sort of redemption. 

This is one of those books that makes it difficult to pin down your feelings. For one thing, the book encompasses over 30 years of the main character's life. That's a lot to cover in one book. And it's not a boring life. I'll do my best.

Instead of likes and dislikes, I have a list of thoughts on this one.

1. For at least half of the book, I found Amir (the main character) to be truly despicable. I really, really didn't like him and saw no good in him. His friend Hassan, however, is good. Good to the core. So good it hurts.

This, I think, makes Hosseini both a good and a bad author. Bear with me as I go into my I-studied-creative-writing zone. On the one hand, he made me care for nearly 400 pages (or in my case, 11 discs) about a character I didn't like. Granted, halfway through I didn't hate Amir so much. But I still thought he was a coward and didn't really like him. I liked his wife, his friends, sometimes I liked his dad. But I never really liked Amir--not until the very end of the book.

It's hard to keep people reading if they don't care about the characters. So this is a pretty great testament to his writing skill.

But on the other hand, no one is singularly good or bad. Ok, I might agree to extreme cases, like Hitler. He was probably pretty much all bad. But characters that are pure good (like Hassan) or pure evil (a character I haven't mentioned yet, Assef, fits this role) is not true to life. It's a characteristic of fairy tales to have a character that is purely good or evil. So I feel like some aspects of Hosseini's writing weren't all that great. A more skilled writer would humanize the bad guy, just a little. (I by no means mean to imply I could do better. Just an observation gleaned from studying creative writing.)

2. The culture represented in this book is fascinating. I have no idea if it is accurate or if it has changed--most of the book does take place before the Taliban took over or in America, and I know the Taliban changed a lot in Afghanistan. But it's incredible to me what heavy roles religion and social status play.

Hassan and his father Ali work for Amir and his father Baba. Baba and Ali (the fathers) grew up together and Hassan and Amir are growing up together. But Amir talks about how he cannot call Hassan his friend. He considers him his brother. But it would be shameful to call him his friend since he is a different religion (race too? not sure) and he is Amir's servant. He talks about how when his other friends are around, he doesn't include Hassan.

I know there are class differences in America and in my life. But, in my sheltered experience, most are not openly acknowledged like they are in "The Kite Runner." Religion can play a huge role, but I've never personally witnessed such persecution as Hassan faces. I am sheltered. I know it happens. But in this realm, "The Kite Runner" truly showed me aspects of life I've never seen before.

There's also a lot of beauty to the culture. It's amazing how Hosseini transports you so fully into Afghanistan and lets you feel like you're really experiencing the culture.

3. I related a lot to the little bit we learn about Amir's mother, who died right after childbirth. Amir learns from someone who knew her that she was afraid because she was so happy. She feared it meant something bad was coming--no one was allowed to be that happy for long. I've felt that way before.


There is a lot more to this book. It's heavily relationship themed. What it means to be a father, son, husband, wife, friend, brother. There's a lot of violence, and redemption is a heavy theme as well.

I liked it. I think. In the kind of way when you don't want to say you liked it because you're not supposed to like when a character dies or bad things happen to good people but it's a beautiful story. It's not happy, so it feels like you're delighting in someone's misfortune to like it.

But I'm glad I read it. I have a feeling it'll stick with me for a long time.

Have any of you read it? I'd love to hear what you thought. Please be careful of spoilers in the comments. If you have anything spoiler-y to say, email me at aestrusz[at]gmail[dot]com instead!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Thursday Thoughts [5.3.12]

Hey guys! I'm linking up with Sar for Thursday thoughts!

[1.] Today marks four months that I've been working on my health/getting in shape/eating better. To date, I've lost 16 pounds (!) and two jeans sizes. I still walk every week day. I'm pretty lucky that I have such a great place to walk. Check out these pictures:





I always get back and email Pat about all the wildlife and other stuff I see on my walk. Best day so far was three baby ducks, two teenage ducks, nine yellow fluffy baby geese, four turtles, two of which may or may not have been having sexy time, a woman wearing a shirt that said "I like spinach," and a guy running really oddly and without any shoes.




[2.] Thank you for all your running advice! I haven't been running yet, but I feel much more prepared for when I go. :)

Some of my favorite words of wisdom came from Tamara from Lehmann Laughter who said "Try running in your shorts, if you don't get chub rub {when your thighs rub together - it be the debil!} don't bother buying running tights." Chub rub. Ha!

[3.] I'm allergic to cats. Since I've moved out of my parents house, they've adopted a cat and have been foster-parenting my sister's cat Raja. I try to keep my bedroom a safe zone from their fur so I can have somewhere to escape. But Monday, when I was home, Raja got in. Sassy Raj!



[4.] My boyfriend is cute. He made these signs for his floor in the dorms, and they make me smile. :)



[5.] I've never been a neat freak. When I was young, my room didn't have to be clean as long as there was a path for me to get out if there was a fire. However, our bathroom had reached a level that even I wasn't ok with anymore. I cleaned it last night and seriously felt so good this morning. Shiny floors, shiny mirror, shiny sink. I felt like I'd just bought a new wardrobe or won money or something. Seriously. Such a great feeling.


[6.]Has anyone ever heard of Paperblog? They emailed me and "invited" me to join. Is it a scam?

Also, are you guys in any of the other blogger databases/resources? Are they worth it?



That's it for today, folks. Tonight is the midnight premier of Avengers, and tomorrow I myself will be a zombie as it's a 2.5 hour movie and I have to wake up at 7 at the laaaatest. Yeesh.

Have a wonderful Thursday!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

What are you afraid of?

I'm afraid of all the normal stuff. Losing my family, etc. But I'm not scared to admit (womp, womp... ok I'm done) that I have a few unusual fears.

1. I hate hate hate hate zombies. Guys, this is so for real, I couldn't even look at the google images results to find a picture to post here. If I look at them or think about them too much I'll have night mares tonight.

Source

2. Surgery. Blech. I think my fear is related to my vegetarianism -- I don't like the idea of being cut open or sliced or broken apart. Yuck yuck yuck. I do, however, love Grey's Anatomy. I just don't watch the yucky parts.

Source -- No spoilers please! I'm not quite caught up!


3. I've recently discovered I'm afraid of eating bad food. This one isn't as scary to me as the others, but it probably affects my day-to-day behavior the most. Like, almost every morning I smell my milk and taste a bit before I pour it into my cereal. I hate wasting food, but I'll throw it out if there's any indication that it's not good anymore.

Source
I also used to love to learn phobia names. Fear of surgery is tomophobia. Last time I checked there didn't seem to be an official word for the fear of zombies, but the best I found was kinemortophobia. (Get it? Kine = moving, morto = dead.)

I've met a couple people who have fruit phobias. Legit, don't eat fruit, don't touch fruit. I also have a friend who's afraid of touching adhesive things like stickers and stamps and tape.

So what about you all? Any weird fears out there?

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