Sunday, October 28, 2012

Friday Five: Sweaty

Yeah, I'm making a habit of these delayed Friday answers. Friday's just never a day I feel like writing. I get home after a long week and Joe and I make a tasty dinner, put on comfy house clothes and curl up on the couch to watch The Walking Dead or Parks and Rec or some other show we've DVR'd during the week, I never want to write. But Sundays, quiet, open Sundays, staring at the woods that are right outside of the window in my office, listening to music, that's prime writing time for me. So I'm a couple of days late again. Who cares. Here's my Sunday 5 courtesy of the creative little introspective gang at Friday Five:

1. What was the cause of your last working up a sweat? 
Run/walking this morning. I set out for my standard training run/walk on this lovely chilly fall morning and after running for five minutes I decided, screw it. I just want to walk. So I did. And it was a lovely 45 minutes. I listened to an episode of This American Life. I counted political yard signs. I stopped and collected the prettiest leaves I could find. I waved at neighbors and said "Hello, puppy!" to back yard dogs. I worked up a sweat. I'll run tomorrow, but today, today was a slowly paced take it all in kind of day.

Fall bouquet. I'm collecting.

2. What routine part of your life seems to take more mental effort for you than for most others?
I think I struggle with making better food choices, meal planning, grocery shopping and making myself work out more than most people. But I'm getting better at it. Much better.

3. What’s something many others consider laborious but you consider rather easy?
I love cleaning the house.  I love that feeling of sitting down on Saturday afternoon before we go out with friends, after I've spent a couple of hours doing basic cleaning and seeing how nice and tidy and lovely our little home looks. It helps me get rid of my stress, feel in control and feel at peace, and ready for the next week. I love organizing and sorting and getting rid of stuff. It's easy and it feels fantastic. This makes me want to go clean our basement again and sort through my books and closet and no, no, I'm going to sit here a finish these five. (Sitting still and focusing maybe should have been my ADD answer for #2.)

4. What’s something you’re going to have to do really soon but have been putting off just because it’s going to be a lot of work? 
About 431 house projects. We need to paint the windows and trim and ceilings in the house. We need to paint all the interior doors. The list is long. We are currently ignoring it, but if we want to put our house on the market in the next year or two, which I think we do, then we need to get to work. Ugh.

5. Where’s the steepest hill in your neighborhood?
Of course it's the hill that leads to the nature trail that I love. The walk down to the trail is all down hill, but the walk back up, back to our house, feels so steep that I want a sherpa and some crampons to make sure we arrive safely. Want to help me set up a base camp?

That was so strenuous, I think  I'm going to go curl up on the couch and do some very important lounging. What's on your Sunday agenda?

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Lady Porn for the Ladies

Warning: All adult relatives who still picture me as a freckled third grader with a long ponytail and serious Barbie collection should probably skip this post. It talks about S...E...X.

I like sex. A lot. I'm an adult woman, and I think my saying this is far from shocking. But it's true. I also like reading books that use the English language to dexterously and seductively write about people having sex, with skill and polish and care. Since 6th grade, when I quietly one-by-one, stole and slowly read every single titillating romance novel my mom had hidden away in her closet book shelf, I've loved to read about sex. My taste has gotten better over time. I like good erotic literature, lady porn, dirty books. I admit it. In public. I mean, not like shouting it from a busy street corner, but here, in my public, I admit I like reading about other people having sex. But more than that, I like to read about what people think about sex, not just pornography, but more analysis about who we are as sexual beings and all the messy, intimate, strange things that people find erotic and will do to access that part of themselves. And I'm not alone. But I'm picky. I hated 50 Shades of Grey, because it was idiotic and poorly written.  But I'm thrilled that more women are reading because of that book, and reading racy books that hopefully help them tap into their true sexual natures, in a way that women aren't often encouraged to do. But I'm sorry, 50 Shades was just awful.

So when Blogher's Book Club selected Diary of a Submissive for one of their October books, I was giddy to read and review it. (As always, I was compensated for my review and received the book for free, but the bawdy opinions in here are all mine.) This memoir follows the sexual adventures of a young British journalist, Sophie Moore, who writes about her experiences and relationships as she finds herself drawn into ever more intense and seductive BDSM relationships. I started reading it, quite excited to see where Moore would go, and hoped the book would be an intense dive into the life and psyche of a strong, real woman with a kinky interest in BDSM. It wasn't quite that.

Well, at least the writing was better than 50 Shades of Grey. Though I struggled to believe that this was a real memoir, frankly. Not because anything in it was too shocking or surprising to be believed, but because all of the characters feel cliched and bland. Sure, some of the many, many, many sex scenes were sexy. They should be, since that's really all there is to this book. With a couple of pages of non-sex plot or back story stringing together the sex scenes, it just got boring after a certain point. Like watching five hours of 1970's pornography in a row. I didn't feel like Morgan explored enough about who she was a person, separate from the BDSM relationships, or enough about why she was drawn to that lifestyle. This is a cursory surface glance at a submissive woman's experiences, as a way to package lady porn for the ladies. Right down to the classy pearl necklace on the black and white cover. It's safe, it's pretty and it's empty. And that's fine. If you are looking for a kinky, sexy read, pick this up. But don't expect more than that.

Though I'm sure some readers will find this book disturbing and racy and maybe a little unsettling, it just made me want to read something meatier and deeper. (That sounds dirty doesn't it? Of course everything does since I'm writing about the SEX.) It made me want to read another Dan Savage column or listen to another episode of his podcast. Real callers, real stories, and real advice. Or re-read Sex at Dawn: The Prehistoric Origins of Modern Sexuality, a revelatory book that explodes the myths that sexual monogamy is our natural state, or Whip Smart by Melissa Febos, a memoir of a young dominatrix in New York City that was insightful and engaging, or for straight up filthy sexy fiction read Ann Rice's Beauty series. It's full of strong characters set in creative, intricate and layered worlds where dominance and submission are the rule of the land. Hot. Smart, and hot.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Like Autumn in Your Mouth

Other than my husband and books, the only thing I write about more here is probably food. And specifically baked goods. Or maybe I'm just thinking about them all the time. Nope, I write about them a lot too. Umm, cupcakes. Anyway, this year I've become a reformed baker. I want to bake cookies all the time. And cupcakes and caramels and all of those delicious treats. But then I eat too many. So many. All the cupcakes, except for the few that I share. So I've baked rarely this year and lost about 25 pounds. That weight loss is not directly connected to just less baking, but it sure as hell helps to not have batches of your favorite cookies sitting around the house every few weeks.

And suddenly in the last two months, with training for this triathlon in July 2013, the idea of losing more weight isn't just for cosmetic reasons or to fit into my clothes better. I want to run faster, feel better when I'm running and become stronger and fitter. But sometimes a girl's gotta bake. And this weekend was lazy and rainy and relaxed and it needed cookies. And I have book club tonight, so those ladies can eat most of the goodies, right? I'll just save a dozen for myself, I mean, me and Joe, ok, me.

So after careful recipe evaluation, I baked. And it was good. So good. Saturday night, after we went to the movies and had a quick dinner, we came home, the golden leaves falling on our deck and the night arriving earlier all of a sudden, and fall firmly in place. So pumpkin orange cranberry cookies were on the menu. I forgot how much I enjoy lining up the ingredients, measuring out the dry and the wet. Smelling the cookies baking in the oven. The whole house smelled like nutmeg and pumpkin the rest of the weekend.

These are a really cakey type of cookie. Almost like little muffins. Not chewy or crunchy, but moist and soft and with a strong spice flavor, dried cranberries, and the zest of a large orange to cut the sweetness a bit. They were wonderful. With a large cup of coffee, they made an excellent breakfast on Sunday morning. And they satisfied my urge to bake. I think I'll hold off baking again until the holidays, when I can mail off all the treats and send a little sweet joy to friends and family. And damn it, I need to run a little longer tonight, I might have had a couple or six of these little treats. But yum, so worth it. (Oh, ok, this might be happening before the holidays, but does it even count as baking?)

Friday, October 12, 2012

Friday Five: Go, Mustangs! Whatever.

Joe and I are going to see The Perks of Being a Wallflower on Saturday, mostly because we are both suckers for indie movies and I'm particularly in love with high school based outcast/underdog films, especially of the maybe gay/misfit/weirdo/too sophisticated for your age/wear black/read books/love theatre/uber-awkward variety. It feels so familiar to my high school experience. And when the underdog gets a new gang of friends or wins the girl or outwits the bully or finally gets that dramatic poem published in the literary journal (come on, literary magazines are the pinnacle for nerdy high school writers, at least they were for me) I feel a sense of all the wrongs being righted in my own high school history. It's silly. It's truth.

Which fits perfectly with the Friday Five for today. Today's questions from Friday Five are inspired by Perks. Just another charming excuse for me to delve into the treasure trove of my high school adventures, angst and mishaps. Heavy on the angst and mishaps. Which I've covered here, here, and here, oh and here, god and that prom post, how could I forget prom. I love writing about those messy, heartbreaking, crazy formative years. It makes me realize how far I've come from that nervous 15 year old, and still how shockingly close I am to her some days. So, class, here are today's questions....

1. What do you remember about high-school dances? 

Ok, for a longer post on high school dances, visit that prom link up there. It's a doozy. But the actual dances themselves I remember being quite boring and awkward. I don't think anyone cared about the dance itself. It was the lead up, the prep work, the anticipation, the Boone's Farm Strawberry Wine that we were excited about. The dances were usually set in the school commons area, streamers and balloons, bad DJs, dry humping on the dance floor, yeah, not great. But the dress shopping and accessories, the big hair and bigger make up, total fun. The getting felt up in the car on the way home, even more fun. I haven't made out in a car in ages. I might have to remedy that. 

2. At whose house would you and your friends usually gather after school-related activities? 

I didn't have one solid group of friends where we all piled over to someone's house everyday after school. I wasn't in a clique. I floated. I had a few close friends and my house was often the place where we hung out, my mom was nice and gone a lot (always a perk in high school.) Mostly I remember floating between theatre friends and a boyfriend or two, and older friends and forensic friends and writer friends. I didn't feel like I fit in anywhere exactly, but turns out, no one really felt like they did.

3. Who in your school had a memorable nickname? 

I cannot think of a single nickname. Not a one. I just don't remember details about little high school stuff like that, unless I sit down and start hashing it out with someone I went to high school with, or looking at my yearbooks. I got nothing on this one. Though I do remember this pep rally/contest thing we had one year, where the football jock guys competed to be "Mr. Mustang," complete with shirtless push ups and gyrating dance moves so risque that it made the local news from all the outraged parents who complained. So, Mr. Mustang is out there somewhere. Just don't ask me who it was. No idea. 

4. What was your high-school cafeteria like? 

Pretty much exactly like that cafeteria scene in Mean Girls. Though I never ate lunch in the bathroom, I wanted to some days.

5. Your parents aren’t reading this, so what were some of the crazy (or just memorable) things you or your friends did while driving? 

Smoking, shouting at boys in cars next to us, meeting strange college guys in parking lots, then following them to their nearly empty apartments to drink strawberry daquiries and cheap beer, blasting the stereos, driving with our knees, racing each other from red lights, and all that making out. So much making out.

Monday, October 08, 2012

Friday Five: Sorry, I'm a Little Late!

The lovely, porcelain-skinned Bex posted these questions on her blog Friday, and I immediately felt a sense of relief. Finally, something easy that fell into my lap that actually made me feel like writing a blog post. An easy, teacup blog post. So thank you, fair Bex. This was so easy it feels like cheating, but I think it counts as a real post, even though it's a couple of days late. And I guess I need to thank and immediately begin following the Friday Five since they are posting these questions every week, on guess what, Friday. (Not Monday, which is today, but let's pretend.) So here we go, I'll try and do that writing thing and you do the reading thing again, but hang in there with me, I'm a little rusty....

1. Where is your favorite tree?
It was an enormous old pine tree that stood outside of our living room window at the house I grew up in, on a small, quiet street in a modest suburb. We loved that tree. We climbed it. We hid from neighborhood bullies in it's tall branches. We pretended to live in it like the Swiss Family Robinson. It was lovely and sticky with sap and sturdy and tall. I could peer through the heavy velvety red and black curtains in our living room (dramatic and dated leftovers from the previous owners) and watch that tree become covered in snow, then melt into fresh spring with green grass never quite growing under it because of the dense shade from it's thick needles. I drove by the house a few years ago, and saw that it was gone. Not just faded or shrunken like a myth from childhood, but it's really gone. Maybe it was sick or dying or just a hazard, but I still love that tree in my memories.

2. Where is your favorite chair?
My favorite chair is a couch. It's lumpy and red and sucks you right in.

3. Who has your favorite hair?
Joe Sands, hands down, especially as it gets a few more gray hairs year by year.

Third in the " @jastereo drinks beverages while looking cute" series. (Pemaquid Ale is yum.) #latergram

4. What's your favorite mug (or drinking vessel) like?
It's a dottery mug covered in beautiful, dainty spots and filthy, filthy curse words, hand painted by the accommodating and lovely Bethany.

Dottery May 2011 Omaha

5. Where's your favorite parking spot (not at home)?
The library any day, outside of my in-law's house before a big family weekend, or outside of the movie theatre on a Friday opening night.

Thanks, Friday Five!