Our room is haunted!

Well, Ok. Our balcony I guess. Apparently, Annabelle was a student in the girls’ school here early in the hotel’s life. She had an affair with a professor and got pregnant and somehow ended up falling off the balcony of our room. Now she can be seen peeking into the windows of the dining room and falling off the balcony. There are several other ghosts on our floor, but we haven’t seen any ourselves, praise be.

We did some shopping today. And quite a bit of eating. Not as much walking as yesterday because we are too sore from yesterday. We walked mostly downhill today and rode the trolleys up the hill. I’ve gotten in some great reading time on our lovely balcony.

We’ve found that the nightlife here is not really for us. All the bars are smoke-filled, and my asthma is having a heyday as it is with all this thin mountain air. So, mostly, we find ourselves in our room by 10.

It’s very disconcerting to me to see all these beautiful Victorian houses with old recliners and junk on the porches and Harley Davidson signs in the windows. All the well-kept homes are bed and breakfasts, or timeshares.

We head home tomorrow. Then, we start planning our 20th anniversary!

Guess where I am!

I am at the Crescent Hotel in Eureka Springs Arkansas. We got here this afternoon and have already been on a couple of trails and through the shopping district. Our room has a door onto a veranda where I sat and watched a shower roll in over the Ozarks.

I’ve already found the bookstore. Duh.

We hope to be able to renew our vows in some lovely spot while we’re here.

This is incredibly difficult on Mike’s handheld PC, so posting may be spotty, but I will try to post pictures after we get home.

Edited to add: We got the laptop working on the wi-fi in the room. Although it may only work after 10 pm. Maybe I’ll have something to say tomorrow. No promises. I will say this. All the locals raved about the Motley Crue concert shirts we had on. Then they all told us stories about something Motley Crue reminded them of. It made for slow going around the town with all the stories we heard.

Book Hangover

My good friend Phoenix recently brought it to my attention that not everyone may know what I mean by “book hangover.” Let me ‘splain. No. Is too long. Let me sum up.

Book hangover feels just like a regular hangover except with less vomiting. You can’t put down that book. You just have a few more chapters to go. It’s so good. You begin calculating how many hours of sleep you could get and trying to guess how long it will take you to finish. Then, you finish the book anyway.

You put your head on the pillow, your eyes are burning from reading so long under your poor beside lamp. Your brain starts going over the book. You fall asleep remembering your favorite parts.

When your alarm goes off the first time, you decide what parts of your morning you can sacrifice for 9 more minutes of sleep. “I’ll wear pants. No need to shave.” When it goes off again, you keep bargaining. “I’ll take a shower after work. I can put my hair up. Nobody will know.”

When you finally open your eyes, you think, “Was the sun always that bright? Coffee! I need caffeine!” When you get vertical, your head spins and begins pounding. You stagger to the bathroom and take a peek in the mirror. “Oh god. Is that what I look like? How will I ever make that head presentable for work?” You do the best you can while leaning against the counter for balance.

Once at work, you sip your coffee and perch carefully on your chair while you tell your co-worker, “Yeah. Hangover. Way too much Dickens last night.”

Austenland by Shannon Hale

This book gave me book hangover. But not because it was a great book that I couldn’t put down. I stayed up til 2:30 reading it because it was so easy to read and at some point it was easier to just finish the darn thing than to lie awake wondering how it ended.

Jane has a closet obsession with Colin Firth. She keeps her DVD set of Pride and Prejudice hidden in her houseplant. Her great aunt dies and leaves her a vacation to Austenland, a live-out-your-Regency-fantasies playground for the rich.

It’s an interesting premise. Austenland hires actors to play the parts of all the gentlemen, and they are very good, so you don’t know what’s acting, and what’s real.

It wasn’t incredibly brilliant, but it was fun. If the book hangover had been any worse, it wouldn’t have been worth it.

Reminisce

Stolen from Sweet Memes

1. Go to the Billboard #1 Hits listings (scroll down and you’ll see them separated by decades on the left in the sidebar)
2. Pick the year you turned 18
3. Get yourself nostalgic over the songs of the year
4. Pick 5 songs and write something about how these songs affected you
5. Pass it on to 5 more friends

1989
Which I should preface by pointing out that I don’t remember a lot of songs on this list because I didn’t listen to top 40 pop. My tastes ran to the hair metal.

1. Every Rose Has Its Thorn Li- Poison – This was Poison’s first good ballad. Until we all got soooo tired of hearing it on the radio every 1o seconds. It was so “real” and “heartfelt”. Yeah, poor rock and roll star got dumped by his stripper girlfriend. Whatever.

2. Listen To Your Heart - Roxette – This was the number one song the week I turned 16. Somebody recently remade it and it is my 5-year-old daughter’s favorite song.

3. Like a Prayer – Madonna – WOW. Remember how worked up everybody got about this song? She’s got stigmata! She should be ex-communicated! I went to a Catholic high school.

4. Rock On - Michael Damian – I actually kind of liked this song. It said, “James Dean.”

5. When I See You Smile – Bad English – Confession. I still like this song. A lot.

Who’s up next? It’s really fun!

What have I done!?

You know the day isn’t going as planned when you suddenly find yourself belting out Deep In the Heart of Texas a capella to 180 people.

That was me on Tuesday. We had an organizing snafu with our program for the kids, and we had to smash together a program. We put on some little plays. Like, we were reading our lines from the scripts. One of the parts called for Deep in the Heart of Texas, but the girl doing the part didn’t know the song. Before I could even think about it, I jumped in and started singing the song. About halfway through I realized what I was doing and nearly passed out. Yikes! And to top it all off, my kids were in the audience. The are now completely sure their mother is crazy.

Freakonomics by Levitt and Dubner

Freakonomics [Revised and Expanded]: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of EverythingThis would be the second and therefore less in-depth blog post on this book. The first post disappeared into another dimension, I guess.

Suffice it to say, I liked this book very much. It reminded me of Malcolm Gladwell’s books which I also like very much. My favorite section was: “If crack dealers make so much money, why do they live with their moms?”

Scattergories

Stolen from Tanabata

Rules: Use the 1st letter of your name to answer each of the following.

1. Famous singer/band: ———–Alien Ant Farm
2. 4 letter word: —————– arse
3. Street name: —————— Aspen ave.
4. Color: ————————- aqua
5. Gifts/presents: —————- antiques
6. Vehicle: ———————– Aveo
7. Things in a souvenir shop: —– Always junk.
8. Boy name: ——————– Austin
9. Girl name: ——————— Alyssa
10. Movie title: —————— Alien
11. Drink: ———————— apple juice
12. Occupation: —————— astronaut
13. Flower: ———————- aster
14. Celebrity: ——————– angelina jolie
15. Magazine: ——————– allure
16. U.S. city: ——————– atlanta, georgia
17. Pro sports teams: ———— astros
18. Fruit/vegetable: ————– apple
19. Reason late for work: ——– avalanche
20. Something you throw away: — avocado peels
21. Things you shout: ———— aack!
22. Cartoon character: ———– can’t think of a single one!

Bloodsucking Fiends by Christopher Moore

Bloodsucking FiendsI made the mistake of reading You Suck before this one. This is actually the first in the series, but I got the second from the library first, so that’s the one I read.

This one’s OK, but You Suck has Abby Normal, the goth teenager with a major optimistic streak which totally ruins her street cred. She’s awesome.

Black Swan Green by David Mitchell

Black Swan Green: A NovelWhen you work at the library, people automatically assume you have the low-down on the best books. OK. So that’s actually true, maybe. Yesterday, I went to the doctor, as I was packing up my book, he asked, “Is that a good book?” I said, “Yes. It’s an excellent book.” He said, “So I guess you’ve got the drop on the best books, huh?” I said, “Huh?” Then I remembered I was still wearing my library badge. I said, “Yes. Yes I do.”

The book was Black Swan Green. This book is so good. The main character is a 13 year old boy in 1982 Worcester with a stammer. He accurately describes the delicate social balance of those years. There are also some stunning supporting characters.

There isn’t much to the plot. Mostly, it’s just a year in the life. But it’s also sort of a coming of age year. Jason learns a bit about himself in the year.

I really enjoyed this one.

How to Read and Why by Harold Bloom

How to Read and Why I first read this book about 5 years ago. At that time, it really made me mad. Bloom was a misogynist who didn’t think women were as smart as men, etc. Why did I feel the need to read it again? I have no idea.

This time through, I didn’t find a single thing to piss me off. Maybe I got an abridged copy this time. :) Maybe I’m older and less sensitive to that sort of thing, now. I don’t know, but believe me I was looking for it.

But, since I wasn’t so busy being annoyed, I actually retained a bit more of what he was saying. Bloom is a professor at Yale and NYU, so it’s not easy going. And I still don’t think I could tell the difference between a Shakesperean author and a whatever the other kind is. He tends to divide them up between two, but I can’t remember the other. But I swear I did get more out of it this time.

His Majesty’s Dragon by Naomi Novik

His Majesty\'s Dragon (Temeraire, Book 1)This book has been hailed as Patrick O’Brian with dragons. That’s true to an extent. O’Brien’s characters are more human. OK, so the dragon isn’t necessarily supposed to be human, but you get the idea.

The main character, Laurence (I forget if that’s a first or last name. Last, I assume.), is a naval captain whose ship captures a dragon egg from a French ship (it’s the Napoleonic wars, see). When the dragon hatches, Laurence appears to be the only person he will accept harnessing from. The dragons have to be harnessed at birth or they are useless as Air Corps weapons. The only catch is that the person who harnesses the dragon is now stuck as that dragons personal handler and captain.

That’s just the first couple of chapters. It’s a pretty good story even if Laurence is a bit of a cold fish.

Things have gotten out of hand.

I am currently reading 5 (count ‘em 5!) books. For those who have been coming by here for a minute, you know this is a bad sign. I’ve been reading at least 2 books at a time for over a month, and now I’m at 5. Things are sure to come to a head any time now. I usually only read one book at a time. More than that is a sign of stress.

So, what am I reading? you ask. Here’s the list

How to Cheat at Cleaning.
A Separate Peace – Book club selection
His Majesty’s Dragon
Black Swan Green
How to Read and Why – because I am a glutton for punishment.

Georgia Rule

The stars must be out of whack. I’ve seen two movies at the theater in less than a week! I saw Pirates on Memorial Day (being May 28th for those outside of US). And last night a friend took me to see Georgia Rule.

Now, my first thought on reading the blurb for the film was, “Oh, Lindsay Lohan is typecast.” She plays an out of control teen whose mother can’t handle her anymore and takes her to live with her grandma. Grandma is played by Jane Fonda. She’s wonderful. Dermot Mulroney is good, too. And Lindsey didn’t suck. She actually played a likeable character even though she was a delinquent. I loved how they got normal-looking people to play all the other girls in town to play up how striking she is.

It’s a good flick. It has funny parts, but it is by no means a comedy. It has some pretty difficult themes. Fair warning.

May reading

OK. I haven’t done this for awhile because I’m a slacker. And maybe you don’t care, but I’m going to do it again for May.

Books read in May:

(I didn’t post about all the books for various reasons, but I did read them all)

Darcy’s Story – Janet Aylmer
Bird by Bird – Anne LaMott
Mr. Darcy Presents His Bride – Helen Halstead
Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil – John Berendt
Read or Dream 4 – Hideyuki Kurata
The Most Wonderful Books – Ed. Michael Dorris and Emilie Buchwald
Songbook – Nick Hornby
Postcards from the Edge – Carrie Fisher
Wives and Daughters – Elizabeth Gaskell
Literacy and Longing in LA – Jennifer Kaufman and Karen mack
Mr. Darcy’s Diary – Amanda Grange
Beyond the Highland Mist – Karen Marie Moning
The Shadow of the Wind – Carlos Ruiz Zafon

Favorites: Mr. Darcy Presents His Bride, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, Wives and Daughters, Literacy and Longing in LA, and Shadow of the Wind. Wow! I read a lot of good books this month!

If you want to know what I thought of any of them, just ask. I didn’t want to burden you with my thoughts on every single book. Have you read any of these? What did you think?