Probably not really the way to answer the question, but I love summer by reading books. And here are my reviews.
(Side note: I went to a new book club on Tuesday, and one of the women there was talking about how she keeps a notebook and one of the others said that she was inspired and has started doing it too. I asked what she wrote in the notebook, and she said, oh when I read the book, who recommended it, passages that I liked, and a review. And then I almost said, oh yeah, I just keep that on my blog. But before I said it I realized it might make me sound a little crazy. So glad I caught myself.)
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks -- Rebecca Skloot
The story: This is a non-fiction book about a woman named Henrietta Lacks. She was an African-American woman in the fifties who died of cervical cancer. Before she died, the doctors harvested some of her cells. They tried to get her cells to grow in a petri dish. Amazingly her cancerous cells did. Because they kept growing, they have been used in all kinds of experiments and have been used to further science and medical breakthroughs.
The review: This was excellent. Skloot writes really clearly and explains some very complicated science very easily. Her focus is on Henrietta Lacks' family and what has happened to them since their mother's cells have been growing all over the world. It becomes a deeply personal human interest story.
My only disappointment was that Skloot kept saying different things that the HeLa cells had been used for and didn't explain the results. So for example, the cells were taken to the moon. And I'm dying of curiosity, what happened to them on the moon? But there was no answer to that.
My Name is Mary Sutter -- Robin Oliveira
The story: Set during the Civil War, Mary Sutter is a young midwife who dreams of becoming a surgeon. She is denied admission to all the medical schools because she is a woman, and so she takes the chance of going to war. Her first hope is to become a nurse, and so the novel follows her time at war.
The review: This was good. The character of Mary was very likable, and Oliveira did a good job with the historical information. It was an entertaining read.
My one disappointment was the ending. And I won't explain that because I don't want to spoil it, but I finished the book feeling rather dissatisfied.
Bossypants -- Tina Fey
Jamie gave me this book for my birthday.
The story: Tina Fey writes about her life.
The review: It was hilarious. I totally laughed out loud while reading different parts. Seriously, when was the last time you laughed out loud at a book? (Ok, if it was yesterday, then clearly we aren't reading the same kinds of books). And there were also parts that I was like, "Preach it! Amen!"
A funny part:
Fey talks about going to the doctor and passing out. So she passed out the first time, and they wake her up and try to do the procedure again, and she passes out again. She says, "I'm amazed I didn't wake up in Spanish mode!"
A "Preach it" part:
After describing a time when she was really skinny and a time when she was fat. "We should leave people alone about their weight. Being chubby for a while (provided you don't give yourself diabetes) is a natural phase of life and nothing to be ashamed of. Like puberty or slowly turning into a Republican."
Forever Queen by Helen Hollick
The story: A historical fiction novel about a queen in ancient England (like viking times).
The review: Ok, here we should call the review "The honest truth." I have not finished this book. I think I am 30% through.
And I have no intention of finishing this book. (Unless Heather reads it and tells me it suddenly gets amazing and I absolutely have to finish it).
I can't get in to the characters. Because this is supposed to be historical fiction, there are things going on that Hollick seems to expect her reader to know about, because it is really not explained. But I know next to nothing about the vikings and England during that time period, so I am spending most of the reading being frustrated and confused. And why does every character have the same name!
Some books that I am reading for school -- which doesn't make them bad books or boring in any way
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn -- Mark Twain
Do these really need reviews? If you haven't read Huck Finn, go read it. It's actually very entertaining and a quicker read than I remembered.
The Great Gatsby -- F. Scott Fitzgerald
I remember reading the Great Gatsby in high school and really feeling like I didn't get it at all. But it is a really good read as an adult. It is very short -- I read it in an afternoon -- and a good story. Although, you really have to wonder about Nick Carraway.
Writing as a Way of Healing -- Louise DeSalvo
I picked this based on a suggestion I read in one of my textbooks or higher ed reviews. I thought it might give me some ideas for how to help some really struggling students that I have.
DeSalvo does an excellent job of compiling research and explaining how writing can really help you recover from a trauma. She still emphasizes the need for trained professional therapists. But a lot of this book is focused on how a normal non-writing person can use writing to help them. Then she takes that and talks about how a normal person can then use all of this writing to become a writer. That part was less helpful, but if you are looking for some tips, this was a good book.
I did a 5K race on Saturday. It was the first annual race sponsored by my school. We have a soccer coach whose job in the off-season is to set up and coordinate all kinds of fitness initiatives. So he's done 6-7 week walking competitions, blood drives, etc. This year he decided to go all out.
I decided to do it and registered.
Then last weekend, my mom was telling me about the 5K she did with my dad. It was a race for the cure and there were 25,000 people running. I said, "Oh that's cool. I'm running a 5K next weekend. I might be the only person there."
Well, to my surprise (and very fortunately) I was not. There were 80 people preregistered and about 4 or 5 more came and registered that morning. But there were some who didn't show, so I'm going to guess that there were 75 people who came and ran or walked.
I've been in this leadership program at work, and one of the things we did was strengths quest test. So I learned what my top 5 strengths are. But Saturday proved that "competition" must be in my top 10.
I did not train at all for this race, I just kept up my usual exercise regimen (which has not involved tons of running over the past month). And I went and said I would run, but I'm not really competing, I'm just here to finish it, and support a new race.
When I got there one of my coworkers had brought her daughter, so she introduced us and said, there you two can run together. So we started off running together. I just set my pace to match hers and keep with the people in front of me.
At about a quarter-mile, the daughter passed me.
And then it was on.
I passed her back, and passed the whole group that I had been following.
The course was mostly an out-and-back, so we had to turn around. When I got halfway, I started seeing people coming back. Then I realized that there was only one woman in front of me. So then I was determined to be the second woman across the finish line.
I was also secretly hoping that she wasn't in my age group, so I could be first in my age group.
I was the second woman across the finish line. Yay!
But the first woman was totally in my age group. So no medal for me. I did win a super fancy reusable grocery store bag.
The funny story, besides my sudden competitiveness, happened after. I drank my bottle of water and then went in to the bathroom. Another girl followed me and started talking to me.
"Wow, you were really going fast there. What was your time?"
"31 minutes. What was yours?"
"Oh that's good."
"How old are you?"
"I just turned 30."
"Oh good! You aren't in my age group!"
She keeps talking, "I'm sorry, I know you aren't supposed to ask women their ages, I was just wondering if you were in my age group, You totally don't look thirty, you look really young." (Yes, I'm not using periods in all of that on purpose.)
"Oh thanks," I said.
"I hope I'm that fit when I'm thirty."
And then she left the bathroom.
And I'm standing there thinking, "What the heck?! Wait, I beat you! I'm faster than you! You don't get to call me old! Get back here!"
There is an outdoor theater here that opens during the summer and has a variety of Broadway plays and concerts.
On Friday, a friend and I went and saw The King and I. The performance was great, and you couldn't beat our $10 seats. During intermission, they came out and warned us that it looked like rain was heading our way. I pulled out my poncho and was ready for it, but it didn't even rain on us.
At the beginning of the play, Anna says, "etcetera, etcetera, etcetera" when she is talking to the king. He says, "What is this etcetera?" She explains what it means, and so he uses it throughout the rest of the show. The actor playing the king really played up the etceteras, so after a while the audience started laughing every single time he said it.
I have seen the movie version several times, but I have to be honest, all I remembered was the basic plot, the song "Getting to Know You," and the etceteras.
So as I was watching the performance, I kept expecting the King to say, "So let it be written, so let it be done."
I was kind of disappointed that he never did. There were obvious times that he should have, and I couldn't figure out why he didn't.
I thought this project was a great idea. I hate my collection of plastic grocery bags, so I like the idea of reusable bags. But I hate the bags that the grocery stores sell because they are too big, so they get too heavy, and they touch the floor when I try to hold them in my hand instead of over my shoulder.
In cleaning out my closet, I found a few t-shirts from NCSU that I don't wear anymore, but I just hated to give or throw them away. I also found a shirt that I love to wear, but shouldn't because I spilled on it (so embarrassing).
So I grabbed my shirts and started cutting and sewing.
The finished bags.
Trying to show it full.
Look at how well that works.
Project three: Repot/transplant a few veggie plants
These just didn't fit in my original bed, so I spent some time this morning and got them all potted up.
Heather came to visit me over for my birthday over the Memorial day weekend.
***Warning: This post is a bit of a travelogue. Can I entice you to read by saying there is a cute story at the end? Probably not. If you aren't interested in travelogues, stop reading.***
Our visit started out with an adventure -- her flight was cancelled because of tornadoes and I got stuck in the Walmart. Lame.
Then she really did arrive. Yay!
On Thursday, we went to see Pirates 4.
It was awesome! I Captain Jack Sparrow.
Then we went to a new sushi place.
On Friday, we went to the Diana exhibit at Union Station.
It was really cool. They had her wedding dress, which took up an entire room by itself. It is totally not in style anymore, but it's still pretty amazing. They also had things from her childhood. It is interesting to see totally normal photo albums just like my mom has in her closet. The last room was all of her clothes, and it explained the different designers and how her style evolved.
It was a really cool thing to see.
Then we went to a super fancy chocolate place in a super not fancy part of town. Then we went to the Plaza, where we shopped and ate at a restaurant called Ingredient. The salad bowls could easily be described as vats! They were huge. (And of course I ate all of mine).
We were hoping that the picture for Saturday would be an "after" picture of my front walk. We did get 2 bushes out! Yay for super strong Heather.
Then we went to some different fabric stores. Heather is looking for curtain/drape material. I didn't know there were such fancy fabric stores around here.
And we went out for sushi again.
I got a Groupon for a sushi place downtown called Nara. (If you aren't signed up for Groupon, you should be, so click here).
It was a very fancy sushi place, where Heather got a roll called the "Corn Dog." It was delicious.
After that we went to some shops, and then went to the super cheap theater and saw Limitless. I really liked it, and Bradley Cooper is pretty.
Sunday was a totally chill day. Heather and I did some therapy for her homework, and then I tried to get her hooked on Modern Family.
Then Monday was my birthday. We had a leisurely morning and laughed a lot when I opened Jamie's present.
Then we got ready and headed out to the ballgame. The Royals were playing the Los Angeles Angels. When I told my dad who was playing he said, "Well, two bad teams, but hey! someone has to win!"
I found a special deal on Travelzoo. (Yes, seriously another site you should subscribe to.) I got close seats for $13!
See how close we were?
We're having fun!
Throughout the game they did special messages for the troops for Memorial day. That was nice. It was an afternoon game or they probably would have done fireworks after. (A note on afternoon games -- sit on the 3rd baseline, then you'll be in the shade).
The game itself was super exciting. The Angels were up first, and then the Royals scored 3 home runs in the first inning.
And they did it again in the second inning!
Everyone was jumping up and down cheering. The only things that were missing were the great Japanese umbrellas.
The Royals stayed ahead the entire game. Until the 9th inning. And then they threw it all away. Final score: Angels 10, Royals 8.
Now for the cute story of the game. During the breaks between innings they have people play all these silly games. So they had the game guy pick a girl and set her up to play one of the games. Then he said, but first, we have to watch a little video. So they turned around and played a video on the jumbo-tron. It was her boyfriend who is military asking her to marry him.
Then the game guy said, "Don't answer yet. You haven't seen him in a year right?" She said, "Right." And the game guy said, "Well, since it's been a year, I think you should get a look at the ring before you answer. So if you'll just come over here."
He turned her around, and her guy (in full military garb) was standing on top of the dugout.
And she said yes.
AWW.... Actually, I think there might have been some eyerolling, but because he was military, it was more acceptable.
After the game, we went home and Heather cooked me a fancy birthday dinner.
We had veal with a rosemary-garlic marinade, fried rice, a basil-tomato salad, and cherries, blackberries, and plums for dessert.
It was a great visit. We had a good time and talked and laughed a lot.