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Book Review – We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson

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I’ve read Shirley Jackson before. I remember reading The Haunting of Hill House and enjoying it and am disappointed in myself for not reviewing it at the time. Anyway, I knew I would like her book. The book cover had me really intrigued. I know you aren’t supposed to judge a book by its cover but c’mon. Don’t we all?

From the first line I was really wrapped up in this book. It definitely had a ‘vibe’ to it. It reminded me of the beginning of the movie Rebecca when the new Mrs. De Winter is narrating as the camera rolls up the driveway to see Manderly. The first line really set me up for the tone of the book. It is only “My name is Mary Katherine Blackwood.” – I’m not sure why such a simple sentence already put me in the right frame of mind. Maybe it was her actual name. The rest of the opening paragraph really pulled me in.

My name is Mary Katherine Blackwood. I am eighteen years old, and I live with my sister Constance. I have often thought that with any luck at all I could have been born a werewolf, because the two middle fingers on both my hands are the same length, but I have had to be content with what I had. I dislike washing myself, and dogs, and noise. I like my sister Constance, and Richard Plantagenent, and Amanita phalloides, the death-cup mushroom. Everyone else in my family is dead.

Well, I’m already intrigued! What sort of girl is Mary Katherine [Merricat as she is often called]. What happened to her family? We get teh story in pieces and those pieces come from what we suspect are all unreliable narrators – Mary Katherine, her sister Constance and their Uncle Julian – the only surviving members of the Blackwoods. We see through Merricat’s eyes what the town is like and how the townspeople have ‘turned’ on the Blackwoods – ostracizing them. Were they all crazy? The town and the Blackwoods?

Was any of one them sane? What was going on with the people in the village? What kind of mob mentality was this?

This was a real intellectual thriller, in my opinion. No supernatural tricks here – just people being people and what they can and will do to each other. A fascinating read.

I admit, I skipped over the intro of the book. I started reading it and realized it was giving pieces of the book away so I moved on. I’ll likely go back and read it now that I’ve finished the book.

No really, I’m still alive

Internetz, it’s been a while.

Wassup?

I was crazy busy at my day job in September and getting ready for a vacation to see some really good friends by the end of the month. I somehow foolishly thought I just wouldn’t be as busy when I got back from vaycay?

Newsflash – I was. OMG, I WAS A MACHINE. I am legit so productive lately, I amaze myself.

Of course, this means I generally come home at nights and then veg out, staring blankly at my computer trying to write. It’s been slow going.

But! Progress is made! I’m at about 56000 words on Book 2 of Covencraft, and I’ve finally got the pieces all where I want them and now I just hopefully have to knock them all down!

I’m also working SOOPER SEKRIT project. I would tell you more but it’s SOOPER SEKRIT. But it’s fun!

And of course, my fanfiction!  I’m feeling very inspired lately and just have a lot of good vibes and feels all around so I’m trying hard to capitalize on it and get writing.

I’m not ‘officially’ doing NaNoWriMo but some of my friends and I have made an online group and we’re supporting each other there through the month of November. We have ART! We have CRAFTS! We have WRITING! it’s a fun group and I’m lucky to have such a great group of people to rely on!

Okay! That’s it for now! I’m off for a few days and maybe I’ll have some pics when I’m back!

PS – the Drop in Center in Calgary is having a shortage of winter clothing. If you read this and you live in Calgary, please take a look around your house to see if you have anything to spare.

Hello Cello

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Since it’s been so long since I’ve used my blog regularly, I realized, I have not posted about the cello.

I started taking cello lessons about 2 years ago. I love it. I’d always wanted to play a stringed instrument – either the violin or the cello and I finally decided to give it a go and I’m so so so glad I did.

I feel like… it’s definitely a hobby that uses my brain and my body in conjunction but in a totally separate way from athletics or traditional physicality, which I’ve always struggled with. I didn’t realize how unaware of my body I was until I started taking cello lessons and my teacher, Christine, would say “Drop your elbow” and I’d drop the whole side of my body having NO IDEA how to just move my elbow. It sounds ridiculous, but I really had no sense of how to make it all work together.

There’s definitely an intellectual component as well and I really like that. And I truly believe I have the best teacher ever! I’m a question asker, and I often digress, or cannot properly articulate what it is I really want to know and somehow she manages to take my half formed sentences and phrases and parse out what I’m saying! she’s also really good when I show up and I’m like “It’s making this WAHNKWAHNKWAHNK sound on the A-string? WHAT AM I DOING?”

The beauty of taking musical lessons as an adult is that I can show up to class and say “Hey, it was busy. I didn’t practice, yo.” and it’s fine. There’s no recriminations. I don’t ‘get in trouble’. It’s so different from my days taking piano lessons or in band class when I would AGONIZE if I didn’t know my music and just… fear going because I was scared.

All that to say: I LOVE IT. If you ever thought about taking up a musical instrument but hesitated, DO IT. If you end up not liking it, you can quit. Assuming you’re a grown up now 😉

Writing is hard!

Is there anyone who whines more about writing being hard than people who write?

Nope.

I’m still gushing about how my book will be coming out and then my sister says “So, have you started working on the second one yet?”

I said “LOOK WRITING IS VERY HARD OKAY IT TAKES A LOT OF SITTING AROUND STARING AT THE INTERNET VERY HARD WORK AND THERE ARE PLOTS AND … STUFF.”

Short answer – okay, not really.

long answer – I’ve got my little journaling book started on book 2. I write on my laptop and I do most everything on a computer, tablet, iphone etc but I find for figuring stuff out I need the slower speed of a pen on paper.

and my chicken scratch handwriting. sometimes I can’t even tell what I wrote but I know the process helps!

[Taps mic] This thing on?

Sooooooooo, been a while. At least under this blog. I’ve been lurking on LJ and tumblr [under another name] for a while but I thought it was time to dust off ye olde real life blog and get back in the swing of things.

 

So! What’s going on? Well, I’ve started this new work out program and it’s going pretty well. I’ve been doing the Tracey Anderson Hipcentric workout – just the cardio. It’s like old school 1980s dance aerobics – a lot of jumping and bouncing around. It’s really fun and I find it mentally challenging [since coordination is an issue for me, as in I LACK IT] but man. My body is getting old.

As one co-worker and I joked, this warranty is expired. Should’ve gotten the extended.

It took about two months for the shin spints and the bursitis [YES YOU HEARD ME] to taper off and the arches of my feet are still working on compensating for all the jumping around. When I get up in the morning, I’m still not sure which way to limp. But it’s better. I just don’t want to quit because I finally found something I really like, and the treadmill is no longer an option for me [whole other issue again with the warranty being shot on this body].

So I’ve been sticking to it, managing 4-5 times a week. It’s made a BIG improvement in my cardio and I’m getting the fit feeling back.

Still a busy Squirrell

So it’s almost a month after my post where I said I was crazy busy and I’m still crazy busy. Although it has gotten a lot better now that my nail class is over and I just have my ‘clients’ to work on.

I skipped out on 2 bootcamps last week, which means I only went to one. and boy did i feel that last night. We had a relatively easy bootcamp and I was struggling.

I actually have been out of breath a lot at bootcamp lately and so I popped by my docs and she gave me an inhaler to see if I have exercise induced asthma. which I thought would be kinda weird if I developed it after a year of bootcamp, but I gave it a try last night anyway. Breathing was somewhat easier, although I still got tuckered out pretty quick.

So if I don’t lose weight this week at my weigh in, I’m going to ask Kelly, my nutritionist if I’m getting enough calories. Maybe that’s why I’m so tired, and am finding the bulge won’t budge.

As I mentioned I’ve been trying to do some nail sets in my spare time, and everyone has been super sweet. I’m charging FREE right now, but people have brought me starbucks cards and some bottles of wine, and I super appreciated the thought. Sniff. It’s so nice.

My sister said my work is getting better and I’ve been trying really hard to work on my technique. My own nail tech is sick this week, so instead of rebooking my fill appt, I’m just going to do my own set. I’ve been waiting for my business cards to arrive but no luck yet. I’m hoping any day now!! that and I’m waiting for my first issue of a nail magazine. oh, and I’m going to my first trade show on Sunday, whoot whoot.

and that’s all the shrimp there is.

Um, No. I just like to eat

You know, I’ve battled my weight for as long as I can remember. My first memory knowing I was chumby, hmmm….I think I was about 8 years old and I realized I was 20 lbs heavier than my classmates. Today, this is not a lot, as A LOT of kids are overweight [and that’s a WHOLE other post] but back then I was the only girl in my class who was overweight. I remember what it felt like and I didn’t like it.

Flash forward 25 years and I’m still struggling with that extra 20-40 lbs. I go up, I go down. I’ve tried a lot of different things. Never diet pills. Always something like Weight watchers or Jenny Craig. Working out more, watching what I eat. that sort of thing.

I read a lot of people’s stories on the internet and in print about their issues with food. I’m FASCINATED by anyone’s struggle with the bulge, and I voraciously read blog posts, articles, and the like. In these articles, someone is always coming to the realization that they have used food as a filler. Something to stuff down their emotions, or fill an emotional void. Often you hear them say “Food was my best friend.” “Food comforted me.” “I used food to salve the pain.”

I’ve thought long and hard about this and my ‘realization’ is: I just like to eat.

Plain and simple. If something tastes good, I want more. If something tastes like crap, I don’t want it at all. and High calorie, fat laden food tends to taste really really good and ergo, I like it. I like it a lot. I like the way yummy food tastes. and I’m like a 6 year old when it comes to decisions about my food. Ice cream for breakfast? You bet! Birthday cake when it’s no one’s birthday? why not? peanut butter as a food group? sure thing.

Trust me, I’ve been in therapy. I KNOW what my issues are, but using food as a filler for some void deep in my psyche is not one of them. I don’t eat to numb pain. I don’t eat less when I’m stressed. I don’t ever lose my appetite from my feelings. I do reward myself with food [do well on an exam, do a good job at work = CRAVE CUPCAKES!] but I don’t see this as any sort of emotional eating, but rather a cheap, inexpensive reward. People always say, don’t use food as a reward. Why the hell not? It’s cheap, it’s readily available. and like I said, it tastes good.
I don’t think of food as my best friend, I don’t think of food as “there for me.” And I don’t think that people who feel that way are wrong. I’m just saying that personally, I don’t have those issues. I like food. I like yummy food. I like sweet and salty and sour and crunchy and smooth and tasty.

Maybe someday I will wake and realize that I’m just deluding myself and I really do have deep-seeded issues about food. But then I’d prolly just roll over and get a cinnamon bun.