Friday, December 11, 2015

the (not so) easy life.

After days like today, weeks like the one past, I wonder how I have enough energy left to brush my teeth at night. It’s a goddamn miracle I’m even motivated enough to attempt to transcribe the bumbling busy thoughts in my frazzled head. The thing is, as tired, stressed, burnt out, emotional as I may be now/ten minutes ago/three days past, this is the easy life. Today. Right now. It’s easy. It certainly doesn’t feel like it – but it is, and I continue to repeat this mantra to myself against my will even when I want to smack myself in the head for it.

Thing is, I’m pregnant again. Most of you, (if anyone indeed is reading this), already know that because you stumble upon my blog because we likely know one another in ‘real life.’ Some of you, maybe read my ramblings from time to time, and may not know me personally per say, but know enough about me based on what I’m willing to share here on this platform. And some of you, are likely just phishing and posting wing ding comments about ‘how to get more likes,’ or something. But yeah, knocked up. Bun number two. Due five days after the first kiddo's second birthday this coming May.

I’m happy about the baby, of course, but since I’ve been down this path of pending motherhood/actual motherhood before, I know what to expect. Or at least have a pretty good idea of what’s in store. That being said, if what’s in store for me in five months is what I’ve been wrestling this week – this is the easy life. Baby number one, (who am I kidding, H is no baby), doubled his teeth count over the past few days – five to ten, including his molars. Blah, blah, blah, all parents gripe/know the terrors (or maybe not if they’re lucky) of teething, big deal. But tornado boy, (because that’s what he is now), is zipping around the house at top little boy speeds, tripping over his own feet, bonking his head, speaking like a parrot with a slight speech impediment (ch’lihips, bewbsh), and he’s like the Tasmanian devil – when he’s healthy and NOT in pain. So throw in a wimp with no pain tolerance with something I’d even cry about after having gone through one labor, and you can imagine the Sassana household has not been a very enjoyable one this past week. Our little dude used to go down at 6 pm, and then 7 pm. And lately this week? I’m lucky if he passes out when I’m ready for bed at 9:30. So siyanara to relaxing in bed with my husband and watching crap on Netflix. Even this, though, I’m ok with. I mean, it’s parenting. It’s what I signed up for, right? So I’m just trying to take it one day at a time and consider this my last vacation of my life forever. Because when I have two little boys running around, I’ll be counting my lucky stars if I’m able to ever shower again.

But I digress, it sounds like I’m just whining/bitching/ranting about motherhood and all the hard work that comes with it. And maybe I am. I can do that, right? If I really wanna get whiny, I’ll throw in the fact that my clothes are officially no longer beginning to fit and I’m sick of battling killer migraines if I don’t indulge in a daily caffeine fix. And I miss booze. Ohmygod do I miss booze. It's the holidays! Open bars at work events, swimming in wine to escape family shin digs. But sure, I'll take that Sprite. The stereotypes of second pregnancies are real. First time around the block, I swore off coffee like it was a cardinal sin. I never ate an ounce of ham, and I counted every ounce of water I consumed. I read every parenting book under the sun, and stressed about every weekly update like it was my bible. Now? I show up to the appointments/ultrasounds. I generally take pretty good care of myself, but I’ll be damned if I’m sacrificing ALL caffeine for another five months. I haven't indulged in any alcohol (I'm not that bad), but it's safe to say I've been much more relaxed this time around. And of course, because I'm not ready yet - this pregnancy is FLYING by.   The first time naps were included in the pregnancy deal. This time? With a toddler around? HA. HA. HA. HA. But anyway. . .

I might be a little (ok, a lot) tired. And stressed. And snippy. And feeling sorry for myself. And bitchy. Ok, that’s normal. Other moms of young kiddos I speak to happen to share my non-robotic real human tendencies, especially those expecting again. So I don’t feel bad about it. And even when I’m ‘mad’ at my 19 month old, as soon as he offers me up a sloppy snotty nosed wet open kiss or a big toothy grin, I melt like butter. He’s my baby. Always will be. And I’m his ‘mama.’

It’s times when I can’t sleep at night, not the times when he’s yowling in my ear or refusing to lay down, but the times after I finally win the ‘I’m the mom you’re the child now go to sleep’ battle – (although is it really winning if he’s succeeding in keeping me up/annoyed?) – when I’m laying against my cheap ass body pillow, struggling to find comfort with my bulging belly and million mile a minute mind, that things begin to come in perspective. Either I manage to calm myself down knowing that whatever menial tasks await aren’t really that big a deal, or he assures me everything is ok when I hear the calming rise and fall of his toddler snores/breaths. But recently, I was having one of my more anxiety ridden nights where I found myself worrying about his future – and hoping to god he makes smarter decisions than I did when I was young. I’m not talking childhood. Or even teenage years. But the twenties. And I guess late teens? I didn’t really have a close relationship with my mom growing up as  a teen for her to confide in me in her mishaps/experiences, and my only other sibling is 15 years my senior and male. So role models weren’t really a thing for me and I didn’t really have any mentor type relationships to talk to either on a personal scale. So it was just me, naïve small town girl, trying to find my identity, struggling, for a few rocky years once I was suddenly thrust into ‘adulthood.’ I didn’t ever do anything TOO stupid. Just the usual dumb shit, and I always cleaned up my own messes. If anything, the only repercussions made were towards myself – emotionally, whatnot. But they scarred. And I wish to goodness some days I could go back in time and give myself a super swift kick in the ass and beat myself down before I could act like such a fool. But bygones are bygones and I turned out just fine. And instead of letting these thoughts/memories of painful ‘jesus Jodi you were such a fucking idiot,’ bog me down, I realized – shit. Every shitty thing I’ve ever done – to myself or others, or every time I’ve embarrassed myself or stumbled in my own life path, it doesn’t matter. Because they all led me here – and no matter how moronic I may have been however long ago, he makes up for it. This child, my son. He’s my redemption. Not to get all holy here, because honestly I’m not even a religious person, but I look at him as a symbol of a higher power. Not him, personally, I’m not the mom who thinks her kid is really baby jesus or something, but the fact that I now have something to live for, a purpose, a meaning, a more fulfilling ‘why.’ It’s all for him. I may or may not make a difference in the world. People may or may not remember me after I’m gone. I might or might not contribute to society. I don’t really care – to be honest. I did when I was younger, all those pipe dreams and aspirations of doing god knows what for notoriety – fuck that. Now I KNOW I will make a difference. I can’t control the world, or even my own household, or my son, for that matter. But I matter. I make a difference. In my son and future son’s lives. I’m their mother, and I’m making a personal choice and investment in being as present and loving as possible. And hopefully steering them towards however they choose to lead their lives. Maybe I can’t/won’t save the world, but who knows? Maybe my kiddos can. Or maybe they won’t. But I can at least do my damndest to make sure they’re happy and respectful young men, and in that alone, I know I will lead a more fulfilling meaningful purpose than all the moronic shit I pulled in the past. So I forgive myself. Whenever I think of dumb 20 something Jodi whatnots, I don’t think twice. Dumb 20 something Jodi got herself to where she’s at now. And even though I’m tired, cranky, bloated, angry, whiney, pregnant and overall feeling awful and sorry for myself 80% of the time, I love the shit out of my son and family, and while I may begrudgingly crawl out of bed at 3am for a sippy of milk and resent the situation, it’s for something more important than myself. And I’m grateful for that. I may not have the freedom and liberty to take a shit with the door closed. Or a shower every day. Let alone a date with my husband or enjoy a dinner without inhaling my food, but coming home to my son (soon to be sons) and husband, disgruntled or not, sure makes this chapter much more worth living than not. Even the days where I inadvertently eat boogers off my son's cheek after going in for a small kiss on the cheek. 

So this is the easy part. The part where I’m as young as I’ll ever be ever again. The part where I have energy, youth, some looks remain. I complain when I get five hours of sleep. I bitch about chasing my single toddler son out of the kitty litter or having a meltdown in public. There is one of him/them. Soon there will be two. And that will be not be the easy part. But as nervous as I am – something tells me not to sweat it. Because with the double efforts there will be double rewards and I can only imagine the fulfillment of love and family I will experience once our family is complete.

Sappiness/ranting/rambling aside, it’s 8:41 pm. My son hasn’t gone to bed this week any earlier than 9 the past few days, so I’m going to sign off and try to enjoy the peace and quiet while I can. Soak up the leisure, if you will, before there’s TWO of them.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

this is what you get.

i happened to stumble upon something earlier today that reminded me of this song. or rather, a past reference to karma in general. whenever i hear that buzzword of hocus pocus, i can't help but channel a mopey thom yorke straight into my brain on repeat. haunting. this is what you get, when you mess with us. karma or not, it's funny what time will do. will show. will change. and tell. 

i still remember when i bought ok computer. on a total uneducated unbiased whim. at a wal-mart. when i was 14. in dodgeville, wisconsin, of all places. i was with my cousin staci and her estranged sorta kinda step-sister at the time. we each bought ourselves our own album with our allowances. staci might have gotten a cassette, if i recall? was it beck? or did she get that through her abused minor status membership with columbia house? i don't know. all i know is i began my flirtation with 120 minutes on late sunday evenings on mtv around then. and realized alternative/'punk' (blink 182/mxpx if that counts) music was more up my alley than the whole roller rink pop that was currently dominating the radio airwaves at the time. this radiohead group, they had the cartoon music video. (paranoid android - only one of the best songs ever written to date, still in 2015, in my humble opinoin). so that was basically the jist of my knowledge other than 'creep,' of course, which i had from my mtv buzzbin compilation cd, on radiohead and their discography.

there are people who love radiohead, and those who don't. i respect both categories. i kinda fall halfway in between. ok computer is a masterpiece and will remain a permanent fixture on my ipod for as long as i'm jodi robin root. the bends and pablo honey too, are excellent albums. once yorke and co. began to get trippy with Kid A onwards, i kinda half paid attention, but only really cared (or pretended to) under the influence of weed. because i was like, you know, in my early 20's and that was cool. at least i thought it was, a step above hanging bob marley or pink floyd posters in my college dorm room. but as creative/eclectic as it was, and showcasing real talent, it was further away from my beloved 90's alternative nucleus that i had found to be so comforting in their sound.

but is this a blog about radiohead? or my no secret admiration for 90s alternative rock? i don't know, i didn't plan on penning one at this particular moment - it just kind of vomited out. like i said, i was remembering an instance of 'karma', (or lack thereof), --> karma police --> the spoof video from MTV's TRL which featured Elmo instead of Yorke in the backseat of the car featured in the video --> Stephen King's 'Christine,' b/c if you've read it, duh - if you haven't (haunted car) --> back on this Elmo thing, holy crap I have a kid who likes Sesame Street, man how things have changed since my 14 year old me days of thinking bright blue lipstick and white mascara and going braless in a skintight babydoll blue camoflauge dress was EVER a good idea --> i think i need more coffee.

that's me, right now. 

staring at the clock. i have work to do. i have things to concentrate on. ways to be productive and proactive. but in 3 hours and fifteen minutes, i go to pick up my mom. at the jefferson park terminal. she's watching the little one tomorrow, as our regular babysitter fell through this week, and because ADULTING. adult. i know how to adult. sometimes. plus, booze cruise. saturday. thank god. as lame as it will probably turn out, i will be on a boat, downtown, with a large group of hipsters i do not nor care to associate with, drinking at a hosted bar, dressed in some sort of nautical gear, watching fireworks along the river, happy to be out on an adulting night. thank goodness for grandmas who periodically agree to babysit. because, ALCOHOL. it's a good thing. (in moderation).

my family and i moved, recently. same neighborhood, ish, different neighborhood ish. it's a good thing. we have space, now. and even bought the little one his own bed. (see: MY bed). it's comfortable. thank god for disposable income to buy responsible things like new beds. because sleeping, you guys. it's good. when you can. which isn't all that often, sometimes.

booze cruise. radiohead. working. life is good, at the moment. i do miss friends, from time to time. and yearn and anxiously await for saturday, september 26th. my date night with fellow mother to toddlers becomes a reality in milwaukee. brewery tours. maybe floating in a weird pod thing. manicures. ALCOHOL. because as previously stated, it's a good thing. girl time. no husbands, no children. and sleep. because i can. (for the first time in the little one's 15+ months here outside my stomach walls).

the kid is good. great, in fact. i've learned my hair cutting skills are not on par. but resourceful enough. we watch a lot of cartoons and i find myself singing along to horrendous theme songs more often than not. we walk, we run, we laugh, we play. playgrounds are a more frequent stomping ground for yours truly than former watering holes. that's ok. i love my little bugger. he knows how to give a hug that'll melt your insides and give you an unintended x rated smooch. (open mouth, all the way). developing like crazy. and alas, still on the breast. that's ok. he can win this battle, we'll win the war together, and meanwhile his immune system will continue to successfully battle any/all germs, and he'll continue to vacuum any chance of a booty his mama ever hopes to regrow.

it's all good though. this is what you get. it's what i get. police or no, karma or not. each day continues to progress, and some days anxiety rides higher than others, but we're still standing strong and proud. 

and booze cruise, you guys. 

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Book Review(s): The Last of Em - for Now

Now I've gotten to the point where I think I'm finally losing/finally lost steam. The writing bug itch isn't as scratchy as it was this morning. (Not to mention my coffee wore off HOURS ago). That being said, I still wanted to post tiny blurbs/ratings for the remainder of books I've tackled this year. Some of these were months ago, so they're an echo in my memory. Overall impressions remain - but not much more. I'm hoping I keep my bookworm on throughout 2015 and can post more of these pseduo-book reports with more details/criticisms/ramblings more fresh in my perma-fatigued frazzled brain. Here's a dump of the remainders. Will likely be a minute or five until I get a chance to post any new ramblings - along with being in a queue for the current 5 on my reading list behind others, I've also got trips back home and a pending move approaching in the following weeks, so likely won't have too much free time on my hands to get my read/write on until August. Til then. . . 

Stardust - Neil Gaiman

A love story. Fairies, magical woods, a fallen star. Another magical Gaiman masterpiece, but a bit more on the softer side. A quick breezy read without too much darkness. A happy ending. I can imagine a lot of teeny bopper raver girls or artsy kids who pretend they're into witchcraft and frequent Alchemy Arts digging this one. I'm neither of those stereotypes, and I'll admit I enjoyed it as well. Not the best Gaiman selection, but still a fun enough read. I'd rate this one 6.5/10.

The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay - Michael Chabon
My first second Kindle read! (Murakami beat it, but as you'll read below - doesn't technically count). It was immediately available for download on ChiPubLib website since it's the official selection for the One Book, One Chicago program. It was longer than it needed to be, for sure. Story followed two young Jewish lads on their quest for comic book notoriety, which they achieved, and then lost. Throw in a love story or two on top of it, and some teenage/adulthood angst, and there you have it. If you're looking for a long story and are into comics, this might be for you. I didn't mind the story, and liked Chabon's writing style enough to check out another one of his works afterwards - but it's safe to say I won't be revisiting this particular novel again. My rating: 5.5/10.

Wonder Boys - Michael Chabon

Definitely a more enjoyable read than the prior Chabon book I read. I understand this selection was made into a film too, which I've never seen. Maybe worth a watch? I dunno. Well written, but also kind of painful to continue reading all the pitfalls and catastrophes that manage to follow the protagonist. A lot of face palming, yet you still hope it all works out for the sad sack at the end. I rate this one a 6.5/10.

Neverwhere - Neil Gaiman

The first Gaiman book I read! After finishing the Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, the 2015 Chicago Public Library selection for the One Book, One Chicago program, I skimmed through past year selections and this made the cut. Hence, the nudge I needed to get over my reluctancy to pick up a Gaiman book. And I'm glad I finally did. This story reminded me very heavily of some Murakami vibes, but with a slightly darker edge. The 'bad guys' in this one seem like legit bad guys, and the thin line balance between reality 'London Above' and non-reality, but still 'reality' 'London Below' is so blurred, it gives you a bit of a mind think. But it's a great introduction to Gaiman's other works, and I recommend it very highly, maybe even more so than American Gods. No fairies in this one, or minotaurs or evil blobs, but there is still a dark presence that lurks beyond the edges. If you like Murakami, pick this one up. I did and I loved it. I'd rate this one a 9/10.

The First Bad Man: A Novel - Miranda July

Oh, Miranda. You overly honest feminsitic genius perv, you. This book is exactly what you'd expect from Ms. July. Perversions and oddities. In the best way possible. If you're not into weird sex shit or you don't dig Miss July's quirky sense of awesome, this isn't going to be the book for you. But if you are? It's classic her. I'd rate this one a 6.5, because it isn't her best work, but it's definitely still worth a read.

The Strange Library - Haruik Murakami

I am a huge Murakami fan. He is my favorite author and I love him and his stories. I will read everything he puts out. But this was such a bummer town tease! Yes, it was listed as a novela. But due to my lack of patience and inability to wait for my 45th position in queue to read this from the library, I splurged and spent 8 bucks on this eBook. And read it in literally 20 minutes. TWENTY MINUTES! One of the many reasons I love Murakami so much is his lengthy tales. It's like a commitment, sinking into one of his tales. You commit yourself to the story, and it becomes a part of your life throughout the read. Not this one, folks. And I'm pretty sure there's no cats in this one either, despite the cover. (Although it has been some months since I flew through this one). It's a dark twisty little tale, and it's good for what it is. But talk about a jaded, disgruntled Jodi after realizing - wait, what, really? LAME. For the story itself, I'd rate it an 8. For the book it's labeled as/pretending to be? I'd rate it a 2. Totally disappointed. But I still love him, anyway.


The Goldfinch, The Little Friend & The Secret History - Donna Tartt

I started with the Goldfinch, which technically was read late last year and was a legit, hard cover actual BOOK. Not an eBook. But the book itself was what got me hooked on this author, and even though I got glazey eyed and had a tendency to skim all the art references in the book, (which unfortunately, are somewhat many due to the plot revolving around a piece of stolen artwork), I still enjoyed this as a fun read. It also got tons of acclaim, so if you want to learn more about it, you can google it. Or go to any library and pick up a copy, I'm sure there's a shit ton of them since this was one of the most popular reads last year. 

The next Tartt book I conquered was The Little Friend, my personal favorite of the three books she has out. Many will disagree with me, and vouch for the Goldfinch, or even the Secret History. Not me, I dug this one. There wasn't as much overly dramatic overtones in it as the other two. It was still dark and twisty and full of suspense, but more believable? (Barely, but maybe). The story follows a young stubborn, scampy kinda girl, determined to find out who killed her older brother years prior. Her path twists in all sorts of directions it shouldn't, and she gets in over her head. It's a good read, a page turner.

The Secret History was the final Tartt selection I tackled. This one centered around a bunch of douchey college kids who all nerded out over their love of the Greek language. But gasp! Murder ensues! NOT MURDER!? Ha. It's a good read, but kind of predictable. Still, I enjoy Tartt's style and she does manage to keep the readers engaged, so I'd still recommend to a friend.

My ratings for the three: Goldfinch - 7/10; The Little Friend - 8.5/10; The Secret History - 7.5/10

Book Report: Not that Kind of Girl

Not That Kind of Girl: A Young Woman Tells You What She's "Learned" - Lena Dunham

I never watched Girls. I couldn't bring myself to do it. Well, actually, a few weekends ago my  husband and I were drinking on our Saturday night with the kid in bed and I drunkenly suggested we give it a try as it was featured on Amazon Prime. We made it 5 minutes in and I demanded we shut it off. 

It's official - I cannot stand Lena Dunham. Don't get me wrong, I totally support what she stands for in several regards. Feminist. Unapologetic. A REAL symbol of what women look like and her confidence of not giving a fuck if it offends anyone. Between her and Amy Schumer, it's really refreshing to see women who are not afraid of being larger than a size 6 and refusing to apologize for it. I can totally 150% get behind that. And her sexuality, too. Because women aren't all size 0's, and they do have sex. And we shouldn't have to fucking apologize for it or pretend not to be who we are, while men can go spit their seed wherever the fuck they want. Ok, tangent girl power rant aside, Lena Dunham fucking annoys the hell out of me. She's beyond self-absorbed, (without even realizing it!). She grew up beyond privileged, (again, without even realizing it!), and stumbled upon success because she can write about herself and apparently people give a shit about privileged hip white girls. I wanted to, I'll admit it, but I don't. Because, shut up you guys. I never liked Entourage, either. That was kind of the male HBO equivalent, but more 'glamorous?" Or maybe not at all. I don't know. I just can't fucking stand her. 

So I read her memoir because again, I needed reading material, and thought maybe I'd like her. I liked her feminist I dont give a fuck attitude and I appreciated her breaking out and being chubby and naked all the time. Go chubby naked women! Go get it, girl! But I did not want to read hundreds of pages about her discovering pebbles in her little sister's vagina, her adventures of entitlement working for a children's clothing boutique doing nothing, PAGES, LITERALLY PAGES of her fucking diet diary - days of what she ate, (WHO WANTS TO READ THAT!!), and essays upon essays repeating the same instances or her OCD. She was just - so. self. absorbed. And it's a memoir, I get it. But she spins it as "Lessons Learned" for other girls. Like girls can learn anything from her blunders. And I'll admit, some of her experiences were almost relatable, but mostly not. And the few I could relate to didn't teach me anything I didn't already know.In fact, I didn't learn shit. And just thinking about the time I lost reading about her "lessons learned," (UGH) makes me angry. Because unlike Lena, I had to actually try at my jobs and work hard, even during jobs in high school which were (wah wah) not pursuing my passion. Because I'm not an entitled spoiled kid growing up in a brownstown in New York. 

Maybe if you're a fan of Girls, and Lena Dunham, this book will be more enjoyable. For me? I've gone through my own roller coasters of emotional trauma in college years, fluctuations of weight loss/gain, esteem troubles with men and myself. And I worked fucking hard. I learned lessons myself, through experiencing my own life. All I learned from her is that I'm not interested and beyond exasperated.

My rating: 2/10. And that's generous.

Book Report: American Gods

American Gods - Neil Gaiman

As indicated in a previous post, I'm a fan of Neil Gaiman now. And this is his most often praised/recommended book (at least from my friends). The tale takes place in the Midwest, my lifelong stomping grounds. An extensive part of the story takes place at House on the Rock, which is a quirky, clusterfuck of a hoarder's paradise tourist trap, located approximately 40 minutes from my hometown. I am begging and pleading with my husband, to accompany me and allow us to bring our child there this weekend, in fact. Many of the examples he cites proves that he spent a good amount of time at the spot, which is awesome, because I'd love to be walking through there and randomly spot Neil Gaiman snacking on some overpriced Salt Water Taffy procured from the gift shop, intently sitting on  a bench near one of the token accepting shitty music machines taking notes. I bet he was really stoned. That place would be awesome stoned. Except the Infinity Room. That most certainly would not be. In fact, during a visit to New York some years ago, my friend Arlo and I once illustrated a scene at House on the Rock in the Infinity Room while stoned, of several children plummeting to their deaths on a field trip on Christmas Eve in that glass enclosed narrow death trap (its a long narrow hallway with glass windows, teetering over a cliff. It's not very stable, either. I'm sure it will collapse someday). I don't know why we did this. I just remember laughing so hard I was sobbing, crying. We're sick fucks, like that. I like the House on the Rock. But I also hope no children really die there. That would be very sad.

Despite my love for campy Wisconsin reminders of home, this book is solid and worth the recommendations and praise. It's a longer read, and I wish I had had more time to really ingest it, to take in all the details and themes. But I didn't. Alack, the life of a multi-tasking mother with not a whole lot of quiet 'me' time. The story follows a man named Shadow, who was recently released from prison. His wife died right before his release, and leaves him in a state of uncertainty. He has no job, no one to go home to, and really wants to be on the straight and narrow after the years of his incarceration. He then randomly meets a man called 'Wednesday.' From there on, shit gets weird. Wednesday hires Shadow as a helper of sorts, and they encounter a whole bunch of crazy shit. American Gods are not only real, but in jeopardy. Technology and modern times are threatening to replace traditions of past. There are good guys and bad guys. And twists and turns. And all the while, you as the reader find yourself rooting for Shadow to catch his big break. Throw in a shit ton of magic, and you've got yourself a solid read and adventure. 

My only complaint is that this of all the Gaiman pieces I've read to date, is by far the most cluttered with details. I think in a way it needs to be, but in order to fully visualize the tale in your mind, you need to drink up these details, but as I've stated previously, I ain't got time for that. So I found myself skimming at certain pivotal parts, because I wanted to know what the fuck happens, not how many eyeballs said creature has or if a beast is part goat or horse or whatever. Nerds will love this. So will non-nerds. I did. I hope to re-read it someday, preferably on a relaxing vacation where I can actually pay attention to the details. I heard somewhere that this is getting picked up as a miniseries on Starz or some other premium cable network. Could kill it, could potentially be super kick ass. I know I'd give it a watch, if only for the scenes at my beloved House on the Rock.

I'd rate this one an 8/10.

Book Report: Yes Please

Yes Please - Amy Poehler

I don't watch Parks and Rec. I only casually watch(ed) SNL.(It's either past my bedtime, or before it was, I'd be out getting drunk in bars like a cool 20 something year old).  Upright Citizens Brigade often played in the background at friends' apartments in college, but I was usually too stoned to pay any attention. 

Amy Poehler always seemed like a cool funny gal to hang out with, but I knew she'd never hang out with me. I knew she had kids, and I have a kid. But other than that, I think that's where our common interests end. Despite this, many of my girlfriends love Amy. They think she is quite a clever lady. And I think they are all quite clever ladies, and I needed something to read. So I gave this a spin. Spoiler alert: Amy Poehler has had a cooler life than me and you and probably most of your friends. She writes about it, and guess what? Like any female on the planet, she admits to having self doubts about her appearance or life or whatever. And she writes about it. And I realize she and Seth Myers are probably secretly in love, despite her relationship with Nick Krohl. 

But really, why do I care? I don't, really, so I don't think I'd necessarily recommend this to anyone who's not a fan of Amy. If you are, I'm sure you'll love it. She's clever and quirky. But if you're not? Then it's just a bunch of insider goop on her personal life and SNL that I didn't really care about. I'd rate it a 5/10, but I'll be the first to admit I'm not really a fan. Nor am I not a fan, I'm just a person reading a book about another person, I don't know anything about. Until now. And my opinion still hasn't really changed. Except that she did make me feel good about myself when I want to put my hand up to solicitors on the street and I'm not a horrible human for despising contact with people. 

Book Report: Ocean at the End of the Lane

The Ocean at the End of the Lane - Neil Gaiman

This was the most recent of many Neil Gaiman books I recently raced through. Whenever I stumble upon a writer I dig, I binge on their past works, and Gaiman was my latest victim. I don't know why I always steered away from him - several of my friends would recommend him from time to time, namely American Gods, (which I also read, but that's another post), but for some reason I always shrugged off the recommendation. Too nerdy. Didn't he do comics? (Or something, I'm ignorant, I know). But I'll admit I was a sucker, because once I flipped through Neverwhere, (the first of many in said binge), I was hooked. And I still have some more to flip my way through. 

I haven't done any research on Gaiman, so I can't spout out any trivial facts about him as a person, or his inspirations, or anything like that. I know he married Amanda Palmer and they're having a kid. I have music from Palmer and The Dresden Dolls, and despite my lack of interest and annoyance/resentment/borderline hatred in her begging for freebies to support her art despite having money herself and being married to a well established author, I for the most part support and enjoy their eccentric styles and art. But other than that, I know Zilch about Gaiman. But I don't think any of that matters. Because the other thing I know about him, from first-hand experience, is that he can tell a story. Good stories. This, being one of them. If not my favorite (thus far). 

This particular tale is a short one. It's one of his easier reads, but personally, I enjoy his books so much that they're all pretty easy reads. I don't say easy read in this sense of 'anyone can get through this, avid reader or not,' but easy in the sense of once you're hooked you're baited, and you don't need to invest too many hours to be reeled into the end. 

The story is comparable to his other pieces of work in the sense that there is still magic and surrealism, although this selection is particularly likely (or at least way more obvious than others) to be interpreted as symbolic reality, with elements of surprise and imagination so often found in children. Mystery, magic, no boundaries on what is 'real' or not. If I read this in an educational/analytical sense, I'm sure I could spout out several examples of underlying themes. Or even in a book club. But that's not my case - I'm a mom to a one year old boy, and my free time to devour literature is sparse, so I chug and binge as fast as I can, sometimes turning off my brain and taking the literal meaning at its literal sense. Someday,however, I'd like to give this a re-read and try to read between the lines. It could be a lot of fun.

The story follows a man who is back home for a funeral. Of whom, it's never really disclosed, nor does it matter, but it insinuates a parent or other older relative. The man is led to an old farm, off a beaten road. And from that point, memories flash back of an experience in his childhood - one of magic and friendship of an old childhood friend. I won't give anything else away, but the story's definitely worth a read, and quite possibly is my favorite read of 2015. 

I will say this though, when reading this story, I was particularly susceptible to a bunch of insect bites. Centipedes, most likely. (GROSS, i know). And my flesh has always been super tasty to asshole bugs, and will usually swell up 10 fold the normal human being. My ankle had gotten bitten, and the bite wasn't quite infected, but definitely appeared to have some sort of large hole in its center. This story has a similar incident, which goes into some detail - and leads to a greater tale. This hit me close to home, and super grossed me out. This doesn't really have much to do with anything, but it really creeped me out, and made the story even more relatable. So if you do read this, and you get to this part, just be grateful you don't have a centipede hole in your ankle. Because, ew.

I definitely would recommend this book to anyone looking for a fun read. If you're not super into surrealism or fantasy, I still think it's worth a spin, but if you're def not into it, then Gaiman probably isn't for you, and you may just not 'get it.' But are you really supposed to? I think that's two thirds the fun in reading his shit. The 'how do I piece this together into sense' aspect of it all. I'd rate this a 9/10. Or a 10/10. But I'm thinking a 9 - because my only complaint is that it left me wanting more, and I was sad when it was over. But then again, I could argue a 10, because it's comparable to how I feel about any successful pop song - keep it 2 minutes or less, because that's how you keep the listener/readers hooked - always craving more. And I want more.

Book Report: Station Eleven

Station Eleven - Emily St. John Mandel

I read through this book pretty quickly, on the recommendation of a friend. I've also since read two other books, back to back following this one, so my memory isn't as detailed or fresh as I'd like it to be to write a fair take on what I thought of this story. The general plot is as follows: it's the end of the world (as we know it, (sorry)), a flu strain has wiped out 95%+ of the world's population. Without going into spoiler territory, the tale follows a handful of characters with different origins/story lines, and their path of/to survival. Warding off predators, the illness itself, and the difficulties that exist in dystopia without the modern comforts or electricity, running water, shelter, etc. There are some underlying themes of modern technology and what they must be doing to our society as a whole, but I was too tired to really think about them. 

I've read a lot of books about the end of the world. I've read some with more of a surreal take (along the lines of Neil Gaiman, Haruki Murakami, etc.), and some more gritty/realistic ones (The Road - Cormack McCarthy). This is more like the latter. The book is an easy read, but I'll admit I heaved a big sigh of 'oh, this again,' once I figured out what the story was about. (Apocalypse, etc.). 

The opening segment of the novel is what hooked me in, and I'm not disappointed I kept going. There are interesting elements, in how the separate journeys interweave throughout the book, and the novel's gotten a lot of positive praise and attention, as well as the piece being well written. So it is a worthy read in that sense. But if you're looking for something new, this isn't really it, sadly, (as much as I wanted it to be). In my humble opinion, you read one end of the world story, (or 5-8, such as my case), you've read them all. Bleak, sad, BEWARE READER - IF YOU AND YOUR FELLOW EARTHLINGS DON'T WISEN UP AND TAKE HEED OF YOUR CARELESS WAYS, THIS TOO, COULD BE YOU, SOONER THAN YOU THINK. JUST WAIT. ok, yeah, i get it. But I'm still going to probably use plastic bags at the grocery store, and my husband is still going to leave the water on as he brushes his teeth, and we'll probably run our air conditioners with our bedroom inadvertently cracked open. And we probably will never learn to properly recycle every electronic device we own. It's a generation thing, the yeah, yeah, I know, take care of our natural resources, but we're not going to live forever so we'll still pretty much take everything for granted, generation. I'm not proud of it, but at least I'm self aware, right? And guess what, reading this story didn't change my stance on any of that. 

I'd still recommend this book to a pal looking for an easy read, with the caveat of 'it's another end of the world story.' My rating? 7-7/10. Because I liked some of the characters and the writer hooked me into almost giving a shit for their shot at happiness.

Book Report: Hausfrau

Hausfrau - Jill Alexander Essbaum

I read this book based on a recommendation from the Chicago Public Library's staff picks on their website. And it had a pretty cover that reminded me of Sleater-Kinney's latest album cover. (I know, I know).  And I had nothing else to read, and had some recent good luck picking random books on whim based on the CPL website or friend recommendations. 

Hausfrau is German for House Wife. It follows a depressed and bored housewife, American born, living in Switzerland. She is married, has three children, no job. She suffers from depression. And feeds her emptiness by having multiple marital affairs. The novel follows her struggles in the present day, flashbacks to the early days of her marriage, an earlier affair (leading to the consummation of her third child), and sessions with her psychiatrist. And I stuck it out for the 300+ pages thinking - ok, this has got to be going somewhere, right? No. Bitch gets more and more annoying, digs herself a deeper and deeper hole, the shrink talk gets more and more boring, and there's nothing interesting about the book at all - although the writer is talented enough to lead the reader on to thinking that it might be. You eventually realize you hate the protagonist, (although  I'm pretty certain that's not the writer's intent), and you want the bitch to hurry up and kill herself. And then she does. And the book is over. 
And you feel dirty and upset that you wasted several hours you could have been playing Candy Crush on your phone reading this stupid depressing garbage. 

Let me be clear, I'm not against this book because the protagonist is not a saint and has self-identity issues. I can almost relate to some of the feelings she experiences in some ways from a motherhood perspective. (For example, if I was a stay at home mother with three children in a foreign country who's language I don't speak - I'd be pretty fucking depressed and lonely, too! In my three months of maternity leave and even on some days alone with the kiddo, I can and have felt emotions of uncertainty and emptiness, but I cough it up to fatigue). But this bitch is just empty and annoying. And full of all sorts of woe is me, but never does anything about it. No self empowerment. Fucking dudes just because they ask her, but never any self admittance of nymphomania tendencies. But there's never any trigger - or circumstance - or depth revealed as to why the character is set upon this deep spiral of destruction. Not that there necessarily needs to be a tangible incident, but still - if you're going to interweave all these sessions with the shrink - have them lead somewhere, not just fill pages to lull the reader to sleep and mislead them on. So yeah, skip this one. This book sucked ass. I've never been so grateful for a character to off themself. 

I rate this book, 1/10. 1 for the pretty cover.