Wednesday, January 30, 2008


So, I've been watching a lot of Penn & Teller's show "Bullshit" since I've been sick (some genius posted all the episodes on YouTube). I saw their show in Las Vegas and it was amazing, and in particular, a trick called Shadows was the most spectactular thing I've seen live. And some other genius has put it on YouTube. Check it out:

Amazing. The guy is brilliant.

Been a While...

Not much new going on in Fredericksburg right now, and I am enjoying the relative calm. I have been using the time to work on improving myself--namely by flat out telling people what I need in order to be a happier, less stressed person.

Of course, I am doing it in a good way. Recently at work, I was asked to take over my sixth county. Since it's a county right near our house, I thought this would be a great way to do some work closer to home. Still, it's another county. After a couple of months, I was just spending too much time in the car. So on Monday, I decided to screw up my courage, hitch up my pants, and ask my boss to take away my furthest territory, and the territory I hate the most: northeastern Prince William County.

I took this turf over from another colleague who was having some trouble managing his caseload. And I met some real nice people out that way. But it was too far. So I spoke to him about it and he about bent over backwards giving it away to someone else. It was amazing and empowering that I could stand up for myself in an assertive way and get a positive result. The thing I feared--being in for a fight that I would ultimately lose--did not come to fruition. I can feel my blood pressure falling.

I've also started to demand some respect for myself from others. It is no longer OK with me that people treat me like a doormat. This is something my husband has been coaching me on for years and all but begging me to modify my expectations about how I will be treated by other people. It's not easy. Some of the chief "offenders" are the people I love the most. But I have finally stood up and said, "It's not OK for you to treat me that way, and you wouldn't if you had any respect for me as a person." This, of course, has not been met with as much success as my previous paragraph's raging success, but I hope that someday in the very near future, it will work itself out and I'll get just a little bit of the respect I'm finally starting to understand that I deserve.

Jacalyn and I have started our writing club, and I am sharing my books with her, which is waaaaaaaaaaaaaay outside my comfort zone. We sit in a coffeeshop and Tuesday nights and I read her stuff and she reads mine. Not only is it really difficult to have her reading my stuff, but the pacifist in me does not want to give an honest critique of what she's written. I want to tell her that everything is brilliant. I want her to tell me that my every word is brilliant. But neither of us is going to progress as a writer that way. So I'm trying to screw up my courage again and be constructive in telling her what, from my perspective, could be improved and listen with an open mind to what she's telling me from my book could be improved. And I'm making progress. My goal for this week is to do my bang-up cut and paste job of my last 2 NaNoWriMo books and squeeze them into one big book, and then start editing the hell out of it. The bad part is that Jacalyn is telling me to add, add, add, and I feel like I need to subtract, subtract, subtract. I know it will all come together in the end, and I feel so proud of myself for having accomplished as much as I have. Having read book 2 to Michael recently and gotten his extremely positive reaction to the story, not necessarily the details, I feel like I'm on to something good.

Speaking of things in the fear department, I faced a minor fear head on (literally) last week. I had a new client to go visit, and this new client (I'll call her Ann) owns her own horse farm. I hate horses, I'm going to be honest. I can't recall ever wanting one, I've definitely never ridden one, I may have pet one when I was about 8 years old or so, but they kind of scare me. They're so big and powerful, and the idea of falling off one or getting kicked in the chops by one or some other tragedy has kept me away from them. One of my other clients also has a horse farm and as I was writing my NaNo book this year, I stopped to take some pictures of her horses in their riding pen. Her horse Sunny came over to the fence to see what I was doing and I literally hopped in the car and peeled out of there. That tells you something about my feelings for horses.

So, Ann asked me about my feelings towards horses, and I was honest with her, stating that I fully respected her love of her horses, but that I was somewhat afraid of them and didn't really like them. She announced that we were going to the barn when the evaluation process was over. I swallowed the fear and followed her out there.

We no sooner got in the gate when this horse ambled over to me. She was a big brown pregnant mare. Ann informs me that this mare is a real lovefest. And then this old white horse ambles over, and Ann informs me that he is about 20 years old and loves people too. So there I am, back to the gate, being stared in the face by two of the biggest horses I have ever been near. And I kid you not, the brown horse puts its head on my shoulder in a sort of a hug and the white horse licked my hand.

I obligingly scratch their heads and pat their noses, smiling in a hopefully non-threatening way when Ann hands me some horse treats and I actually fed them. Ok, ok, maybe horses aren't so bad if they're like those two.

As for books, I have thus far completed 11, and am in the middle of four more. I am struggling to get through Malika Oufkir's Stolen Lives: Twenty Years in a Desert Prison, which was recommended to me by a friend. I've been soldiering through against my better judgement, but there are a number of other great books out there that I'd much rather be reading that I am considering ending the quest. I've put it aside at any rate. Most of my January books have been non-fiction, and they take me longer to read. In fact, 7 of the 11 I've completed are non-fiction, and of the 4 I am "currently reading", it's a 50/50 split. It's interesting, I have never been much of a non-fiction reader, but suddenly, I'm really into reading people's memoirs.

Next week marks the 9th anniversary of the day the General and I became an item and started going steady. :-) We are looking at our options to celebrete ten years together next year. It hardly seems possible, and yet, it is. I'm grateful he's put up with me and all my baggage for this long. I hope he'll continue to do so for at least another 9 years!

Sunday, January 20, 2008


It was high times at Casa Kosior today. Last night at 11:00, I drove like hell to Alexandria to pick up Judy, Joe, and Lucas to bring them down to celebrate the General's birthday with football, food, and fun.

Of course, he was not the least bit surprised. Although we got back at 1am, and an elaborate scheme kept them out of his line of sight until 9:30 this morning, he knew the jig was up.

Hilariously, when we got back last night, Joe pointed out that we couldn't all slam our doors or Michael would hear us all slamming the doors separately. So I counted down and we all shut our doors, and sure enough, 4 separate slams echoed in the night. We all busted a gut laughing in the driveway, and then I said, "Don't get me wrong, but I'm not invading Poland with you people." This made us all laugh harder.

So this morning we celebrated with a big sausage and homemade biscuit breakfast, and then preparations kicked off to get ready for the two play off games.

Now of course, our big team is the New England Patriots. They had the first game. I made up a crapload of buffalo wings, pizza fondue, cheese and crackers, veggies, and chips and dip. Our friend Melissa came by with all kind of salsa, 7 layer dip, and chips. Judy, Joe, and Lucas chipped in and got the General a giant Happy Birthday cookie at Mrs. Fields. So we were well stocked.

The Patriots game was really great--especially since we won. The Patriots left their brains in the locker room for the most part, and if it hadn't been for the defense holding the Chargers to field goals instead of touchdowns, they might very well have ended the season 17-1. But they did just enough to win. And I say that worshipping Tom Brady.

The second game was the Giants versus Green Bay, and being from New York, and my dad being a rabid Giants fan (they are second only to the Jets for him), my sister and I were primed and ready for the Giants game.

It was one hell of an amazing game. When Tynes missed his 2 field goals that would have won the Giants the game, and then the Giants lost the toss for overtime, we figured that was it.

But then, a quick interception, and Tynes redeemed himself with a 46 yard field goal, and the Giants are going to the SuperBowl. Even Joe and Lucas and Melissa were on their feet screaming. The General and I grabbed each other and started jumping up and down and screaming "GIANTS WIN! GIANTS WIN!" I think Judy twirled Lucas right off his feet. It was the most thrilling victory, and calling my dad when it was over and screaming into the phone made it all good.

Naturally, I want to see the Patriots go 19-0. I've adopted the Patriots as my team after marrying into a rabid New England sporting fans family. But if the Giants win, I'll be happy with all my heart for my home team. Either way, I can't lose.

So, time to clean up, suck on a lozenge for my aching throat, and hit the sack. In an hour, my beautiful husband will be a year older. I love you, honey, and happy birthday!!!

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Book Review: Good Grief by Lolly Winston

Lolly Winston is quickly rising to the top of my favorite writers list. This is the second of her books I've read, and while I didn't love it as much as I loved Happiness Sold Separately, I loved enough to grant it a place on my "books I'll keep" shelf.

Sophie is 36 and a widow. Her husband, Ethan, has recently succumbed to cancer, and while she wants to be an elegant and graceful widow, she instead turns into a basket case widow. She arrives at work on the day of a key meeting wearing her slippers and robe. Oreos become the main staple in her diet.

Something's got to give, and Sophie eventually decides to sell her house--their house--and move to Oregon to be near her best friend, Ruth. She takes on a Little Sister, and tries to carve out a new existence for herself in the midst of the first year of widowhood.

The book spans the entire first year and then some. It harkened back to Marian Keyes's Is Anybody Out There?, which I liked much more than this book. Marian Keyes had me weeping from the middle of the book to the end, but I remained stoic during Good Grief. There were a few times I welled up, but nothing serious. I did, however, turn to look at the form of my sleeping husband next to me in bed and marvel how lucky I am.

I liked the writing a lot. There were the usual reminders of enjoying the people you have in your life while you have them and living for today, but it was couched in such lovely ways that it didn't feel cloying. For instance, Sophie and Ethan's mother Marian go to the beach for Ethan's birthday to put some roses in the water where they scattered his ashes. Sophie is wistful that Ethan was always at work and never spent enough time with his wife for her liking. She says:

It was always for us. He said I needed to realize that and focus more on the future. Now I'm here in the future with a handful of yellow roses.



Also, I realized it's kind of lame to do the same thing I did last year reading-wise. So my new reading goal for this year is to clear off my "to be read" shelf. More on this later.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Sadly, No Savannah

Our trip to Savannah has been temporarily postponed until we can party for Leap Year Day.

Tuesday, I was feeling pretty good, but after dinner, the headache came back with a vengeance. I told Michael that it was ridiculous and I was going to a walk in clinic. With the help of a neighbor, we went to three urgent cares before finding the one that did not close at 7pm (nighttime hours, ha!). The doctor diagnosed me with a pretty severe sinus infection and prescribed drugs that a) might make me jittery and b) might cause nightmares. Great. Well, I didn't care, anything to get rid of the headache.

Two days later, no sleep on the horizon (I wasn't jittery, but man! I was AWAKE!), bad weather looming Savannah way, we came to a group consensus to postpone until February. Probably a good idea, although we Kosiors like to go, go, go!

I have been taking the medicine instead during the day and last night I actually got about 7 hours sleep, which is more than I got in the last 2 days combined. Wednesday night, I sat up watching Penn & Teller Bullshit! on You Tube for hours. Just letting the day drift on by.

Today, we're up and moving, going to have some lunch and get some things for the house and then come home for the tech from Cox to come and look at our internet connection. I need to get the house cleaned before Hank and Sheila arrive on Friday, and even though it's been a long time since all our Christmas parties and such, the house is still in need of some sprucing up.

I'll be posting my first real book review of 2008 soon. I have read 8 books so far this year--so I'm thinking I'm going to try and do the 100 again. The rules? I cannot use any of the books I read last year. We'll see how it goes!

Monday, January 14, 2008

34 Down...

Jacalyn and I were just discussing this the other day, and now Mr. Gleck has put it on his blog. So I'm copying from him.

create your own personalized map of the USA
or check out ourCalifornia travel guide

35 down, 15 to go. I fully intend to visit them all. I could kick myself for not hopping into Oklahoma and Texas when I lived in Arkansas. Oh well. I am only counting states where I put my feet on the ground, not ones I just drove through. Although, actually, the number wouldn't change at all!

I'm not sure why this map won't resize properly, but suffice it to say, I've seen the entire east coast multiple times. This is showing where I haven't been rather nicely, so I'll leave it alone.


Blogging has been light because I've been sick as a dog and with our upcoming Gleckfest 2008, I've been trying to rest and get well.

It all started last Thursday. I had a bad dream in which I was at the dentist and I was so scared I was having a heart attack. I woke up with a killer headache. I figured I must have been really grinding my teeth in my sleep--now I wonder if in fact that I had this headache come on in the middle of the night and then had the dream as a response to the pain. I don't know for sure!

Anyway, I went to work and then came home and slept. Got up Friday, headache killing, killing, killing me and I could feel what seemed to be a pulsating in my sinuses. Soldiered through, went to work, went to the grocery story for the humiliating experience of proving I am not a meth addict and I don't want Sudafed for nefarious reasons, took a couple, came home, went to bed. Friday night, I was up for a couple hours, and then took a Sudafed PM, even though the regular Sudafed was doing -N-O-T-H-I-N-G- to alleviate my symptoms, and after an hour of tossing and turning, I went downstairs, laid on the couch, and drowned my sorrows in MXC.

Saturday was the first meeting for my Fredericksburg book club that I joined, so I showed up, having taken a long hot shower that seemed to alleviate the pain in my head. I lasted about 90 minutes before jumping ship, coming home, and going back to bed.

Ok, fine and dandy. Got up and made a couple of frozen pizzas so that we could watch the Patriots game, and after dinner, I actually felt kind of goodish. I noticed, though, that when I would stand up or sit back down, changes in altitude if you will, my head would start throbbing. So I started getting really, really nervous at this point. I start thinking, "Hmmm, a three day migraine? Am I having a stroke? What the hell is going on?" I finally fell asleep around 2am and was up by 6am, the pain was so bad. (PS There is absolutely NOTHING on TV on Sunday mornings--I watched 2 Britney Spears biographies, Mr. Rogers Neighborhood, VH1's Top 20 Videos, America's Next Top Model, the new TLC show about Miss America, and caught up on Project Runway--with the exception of Mr. Rogers and Project Runway, the rest was crap, crap crap)

So I'm really nervous now, because I have another book club meeting in Alexandria, and I'm feeling deathly ill. My dad calls me and lectures me to eat chicken soup and drink orange juice and that he's going to call my sister and yell at her about me coming up there. I explained that my doctor is up there and I need to go up anyway so that Monday morning I can see the doctor.

I hang up from my dad and 20 minutes later, my sister calls, just about sobbing about how Daddy yelled at her because I'm sick and am I ok and I can bag the book club and no big deal. So I calm her down and tell her that I'll at least get as far as her house so she can get to her book club meeting and then we'll see. So I haul it up to Alexandria yesterday afternoon, and lo and behold, Joe is sick as a dog. I hand Judy the keys and tell her that when I'm ready to go, we have to go.

We get over to where the club meeting is, I'm riding huddled under a blankie, and Judy announces that I have to parallel park, she hasnt' done it enough to feel comfortable doing it.

So we swap seats, and usually I'm a pretty darned good parallel parker, but it took me 3 freakin' tries. We hoof it up to Anne's house, and then I sit for a couple of hours before I just can't take any more, my head feels like it's going to explode. I give Judy the signal and we depart.

I get back to her house, me and the blanket snuggle up on the couch, where Joe and Lucas are deeply engrossed in a documentary about the Freemasons. Joe and I then tune into The Real DaVinci Code while Judy and Lucas busily grocery shop and go pick up the rest of Lucas's stuff from his place. (Yes, my sister actually met someone she loves enough to shack up with!!!! And, a link to his blog "The Ronald Reagan National Liberation Front" is on the right hand side. Go give him some crap if you get the chance.)

They stop back at the house around 8pm and Judy hands me some Tylenol PM, which I pop at 9pm, figuring that's a good bedtime. My headache was so stinkin' bad the Tylenol didn't make a damn bit of difference. So Joe and I learned more about how Jack the Ripper might have been a Freemason and finally he went to bed. I think I drifted off around 11:00, and didn't hear Judy and Lucas return around 11:30 with their final load of stuff from Lucas's old apartment.

This morning I woke up and for the first time in five days, there was no severe pain. I sat up and I thought, "Huh, this isn't going to last." But as I sat there, it was fine. I noticed I had a tickle in my throat, and I was stuffy, but that was it. No more headache! So I'm thinking, "I'm going to chance going to work!"

Well, I got in and went to speak to my boss who took one look at me and gave me a look that clearly said, "You're not staying, are you?" and I told him I was going home after I got a few things done. I actually worked 3 hours today before I decided it was time to drive home and relax. I've taken tomorrow off too, just to be safe. But it's like night and day the difference in the pain levels, I honestly can't believe it! I had a couple nips of DayQuil today but otherwise, I'm doing just fine. I just need to catch up on my sleep before the weekend. :-D

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Resolutions Update

Well, 2008 is more than a week gone already--hard to believe! Here's where Team Kosior and Kate Kosior stand:

1. Financial planning/budgeting/etc: We are doing very well. After running back and forth to the dump from the big party, I realized that I could, in fact, manage, and we cancelled our trash pick up. The crazy thing was, we were getting our trash picked up maybe once every two weeks, but paying for pick up twice weekly. Plus, those cats never took our recycling. So, we should save about $250 per year on that. Secondly, I opted out of the water pool for work. I was paying $47 per year for one glass of water per week. I bought a 1 gallon jug and threw it in the fridge. That should last me about 3 months. I have not been to a bookstore, to Target, or Walmart, or to the library book sales. I was eating out every single day for lunch and have not had one lunch out since the first of the year. It's way cheaper to eat in and better for you too.

2. Soda: I still have not had so much as one sip of soda since 12/31, which is now going on 11 days. Has it been easy? Nope. The other night, I forgot, and I had my hand on the cap of a 2 liter of Pepsi at book club before my brain kicked in and yelled, "STOP! PUT THE SODA DOWN AND BACK AWAY SLOWLY!" I sighed and got a glass of water. That's not to say I haven't had caffeine. I wouldn't have had the strength to get through the weekend last weekend without it. And let's face it, a chai frappucino from Starbucks isn't the most healthy thing in the universe. But it's not soda, so it doesn't count. I've tried to skirt the issue in the past by drinking that fizzy water that has fruit flavoring, but that has always led me back to drinking soda, so I'm not tempting it this time. We'll see how it goes. I'm getting mighty sick of water.

3. Taking Care of Myself: Damn, this is a pain in the butt. Part of my plan is to include in my daily routine "pampering" time. I now have about 6 different shampoos and body washes and foot scrubs and stuff in the shower. I love the stuff, but it takes forever. On top of that, I'm flossing REGULARLY, not just when I am overcome with guilt about not flossing, I'm wearing socks and putting lotion on my sorely neglected feet, I'm finding activities to do in Fredericksburg that are fulfilling my need for companionship and brain stimulation, and am trying to eat out less, which is much better and healthier.

4. Reading: My goal is to read Gone With the Wind this year, but I haven't even gotten a copy of it yet. I hate, hate, hate mass market paperbacks, and so I'm skulking about till I can get a non-mmp to read. Meanwhile, I've already read three books this year. Is another 100 in sight? Maybe. I'm not committing to anything at this point.

5. Job hunt: I've been diligently looking daily, but haven't found much. I got a raise though, so I'm not hating work quite as much as I might have otherwise. Still, I was driving around today and thought, "Do I really want my butt in this car 17 years from now?" The answer was a firm "Hell no!" I'll keep investigating my options.

So, that's where things stand, 10 days into the new year... Hopefully things continue to go well. Some things have started with a bang, others I've been slacking. We'll see where the year takes us!

Photography Club

So, last June, my sister and I went to see the show by the Fredericksburg photography club, and I thought about joining. I've taken some (what I consider) great pictures ever since getting my first digital camera, and I thought it would be fun. But I'm a chicken about doing new things on my own, so I never followed up on it. I did keep the brochure this whole time, however.

I mentioned it to Jacalyn at one of our NaNoWriMo meetings and she was interested. After Christmas, I called the guy and Tuesday night we went.

It was a most interesting meeting. The guy said if we had any nice pictures of birds to bring them. I didn't realize that we would be having a little art critique there. They had a professional photographer in and he was critiquing everyone's work. Now, the only picture I brought that was worth much due to the printing was a seagull I took in Niagara Falls. It was a 4x6. Hahahahaha It had to be at least an 8x10. I didn't embarrass myself. Jacalyn brought a bunch of pictures, but they weren't mounted, which was another requirement and in the end, we both sat and watched.

The professional sat and did a critique of all 30+ pictures and left the entire club with the impression that he was a jerk. There was a picture of an owl where I swear to you, you could see the thing breathing. His reply? "If this were taken in the wild, it would have value. If it's taken in a reserve, it's not as great a shot." The poor woman 'fessed up that it was taken in a reserve, so he gave it a 5 instead of the 10 it deserved.

There were other stupid comments like that. One guy took a picture of a flock of birds flying low over the river at sunrise where some people were fishing, and the pro didn't like the color of the sky. I mean, what the heck!? You can't change the color of the sky!

His final comment was that he felt like everyone had been given a theme and they just went through their photo archives and picked out a few pictures. Um, yeah!

I had a good time, but that dude was an idiot. When we got home, Jacalyn and I fired up AIM and started looking at this dude's work on line and a lot of it SUCKED.

I'm going to join the club, and the next critique is in two months. I hope it's not another bloodbath. Now that I know what I'm doing, I plan to submit a couple pictures.

The Nicest Email

I got the nicest email last night from a total stranger. I am currently addicted to and am busy putting my library and book reads together on there. I've posted all of my book reviews from last year and have been busy adding my books and so forth. I used to use LibraryThing, but they limit your free account to 200 books, and I'm up over 600 now on GoodReads, plus I was just given librarian status, which is cool.

But I digress.

So, last night I got a friend request and here is what the woman wrote:

Dear Kate I truly love your reviews. I used to be an avid reader and your reviews inspire my love of books. Mostly I would like to add you to my list so I can always read your reviews. It may be awhile before I get a chance to read and review a new book, but I promise to contribute when I can. I am a 37 year old mom of a 5 year old and almost 4 year old, with another baby due in April. (Surprise! :-) Happy but still a surprise.) So I am working on adding the pleasure of reading anything more than Sandra Bointon, Dr. Suess, a baby magazine or family fun magazine at this point. I appreciate your writing and the glimpse you provide back into the adult world of novels.
- Beth

That is pretty stinking fantastic.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Just Another Manic Monday

So, I go into work yesterday at 7:15am. I've been going in early on Mondays so I can leave early so I can try to beat some of the rush. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. It was a moot point yesterday because I had book club and it was pointless to go in early, except that Judy and Lucas were up at 6:15 and I might as well be too.

So, I no sooner walk in than my co-worker is there. He is absolutely hopeless at the computer, bless his heart, and he had forgotten his laptop at home, so he was working on a reception area computer. I no sooner sit down then he's asking me to come help him find files and stuff on the new computer. Ok, fine.

Then my officemate, Kris, comes in and reminds me that we have to take down the Christmas tree. But we also get an email from our boss that we have to take terrorism awareness training--and I had lost the original emailing detailing exactly how to take terrorism training, to which I got a reply back that the email had been sent in December. Fortunately, I was able to recover my deleted items, find that email, and I figured I'd work on it after I got the tree down.

So, Kris and I take down the tree, while at the same time James is sitting there next to me, asking for computer help. Get done with all that, and Kris and I decide to polish off this terrorism training.

Now, the training requires that you create a log in on some state employees "university" thing, and then you take the modules. Only, we had gotten the handbook for the thing attached to our emails and were under the impression that all we had to do was read it and we'd be done. Surprise!

So, I read part 2 of the email which said about the logging in and crap, and I was like, "Hey, Kris! We have to log in and do the modules." Well, I followed the easy to read instructions about the whole thing--how to get to the website, how to log in, where to go after you log in, and how to take the tests. So I'm sailing merrily along when all of a sudden, a string of curses comes like a blue streak from the other corner of the office. Kris can't figure it out.

So I go to her desk and walk her through it and we're both ready to take the test. So, lo and behold, we start. And it's audio. And we haven't started at the same time, and we can't seem to synch up the sound on each slide, despite a hilarious "1...2...3..." countdown system we try. Finally, I shut down my sound and she plays hers loud and we're sitting there learning about terrorist groups and how to recognize pipe bombs and such. Well, in walks Alex. And he's coming to inform us that he doesn't have to take the class because it's not accessible. "Ok, fine, get the hell out." Then Candace walks by. "Are you guys taking the terrorism test?" "Yes, but it's not accessible to JAWS users, so just send the boss an email and tell him you can't take it and he'll tell you how to get credit for it." Then Shelley comes in. "Susan, are you taking the terrorism test?" Ummm, we're trying to. I'm missing half the slides and I'm going to fail the quizzes if this keeps up... "Because I can't figure out how to log in." So I tell her to read the email from Bob and just follow the directions, it's all laid out very simply, one two three, and come and let me know if she has any problems. Then Debbie the Secretary, who I LOVE, strolls in and asks if I'll help her put a new shelf together. "Yes, as soon as I'm done." Then James walks back in and asks if I can help him find the forms he needs from the intranet.

I'm really losing it at this point. Then Shelley walks back in and asks if I can help her log on, she doesn't know what she's doing.

So, I tell her to hold on till we finish the section we're on and Kris and I shut the door and soldier through, by which point she has to use the bathroom. I go down to Shelley's office and walk her through the log in same as I did Kris. James is straightened around, Debbie's in a holding pattern, so Kris and I go back to taking the modules and quizzes. We JUST finish and it takes us both 20 minutes to figure out how to print out the transcripts and the certificates that we completed the damned things. I take them down to my boss who tells me "I don't need this, you just need to take the classes." AUGH! So, we basically could have just said we took it without all that nonsense.

So I'm settling in, I'm going to listen to my phone messages, when Kris comes strolling back in and says, "You have to go help Debbie now." So I go out and get Debbie and she has a 6 foot tall shelving unit she needs built. And it weighs about 600 pounds.

So we drag that into the back room and Alex, who is still strolling around trying to find things to do that don't involve working, comes running with the tool kit. The file room we are working in is about 8'x8' and already has a copier and 4 shelving units in it. so now there's all that, plus me, Debbie, Alex, and the pieces of the shelving. Finally I tell Alex that if we need him, we'll come get him and he leaves, his place taken by one of the mobility instructors. The three of us women are trying to put these shelves together and one of the VR counselors comes in and starts stepping over us, and it has to be the one who is pregnant and has told us we all have to be very careful around her per her doctor's orders. I'm pounding away with a hammer, there are pieces of shelving all over the place, and she's buzzing in and out. We get the shelving half put together when Debbie and Vijaya decide they don't like the spacing on the shelving, so we take it all apart again. I'm on the floor on my hands and knees hammering the shelving up when Shelley buzzes in and says, "Susan, I know what your'e doing is probably important, but my computer has just frozen up and I really need you to help me RIGHT NOW."

So I say, "Shelley, I'm not really in a good place to help you right now, but if you give me 5 minutes to finish this, I will be happy to help you." So this pisses her off and she turns to Debbie and says, "Debbie, you can help me, right?" So just to keep her quiet, Debbie goes to help her.

We get the shelves back on, and we're turning our attention to the finishing pieces when Kris walks in and announces she HAS TO USE THE COPIER RIGHT THIS MINUTE. So we were using the copier as our kind of workbench--the tools were on it, the instructions. Finally, I say, "Kris, give us two more minutes and we'll be out of here." I just wanted to cry at this point. But now. She insists it has to be done NOW. So I'm like "Fine, give me the papers and I'll copy them."

Well, for some reason, the copier doesn't believe me that there is paper in it, and Kris accuses me of jamming the damned copier. I said, "Kris, it's not jammed, it doesn't think it has paper in it!" So she's yelling, "Turn it off and put it back on." This doesn't help. So I try again and it still doesn't believe me. Finally, she says I'm doing it wrong, so I say, "Fine, go ahead and copy" and take everything off the copier. Well, she has it copying fine, but it's copying the wrong way on the wrong size paper, and she starts cussing a blue streak again. Meanwhile, I'm hammering the final shelf on, and the shelves are metal mind you and it's loud as hell in there, and she starts yelling at me to stop pounding on the shelves.

By the time it was over, it was nearly noon. I finally checked my voice mail, everyone was eating lunch, so I decide I'll go over to BOA, deposit my sister's money, and then get lunch and go eat with everyone. I need to cool down, so I walk. I get to BOA, and guess what!? NO FREAKIN' CASH DEPOSITS! I was so pissed off. So I stormed back over to work, got a salad and sat there and ate.

All this in about 6 hours, mind you.

So, last night was also book club night, and of all nights, the girls chose last night to give me a thank you gift for being the fearless leader of the book club. It was a night I really, really needed a little lovin', and they all chipped in and bought me gas cards since I have so far to travel for book club, and they all signed a beautiful card for me. Ladies, you rock!!

At the end of such a crazy day, it was just what I needed. It took all the fight right out of me... I got home last night and all I was thinkin' about was LOVE. :-)

But my brilliant husband, at one point I asked him yesterday, "is this ever going to stop?!" and he emailed me back and said, "It will when you say 'no.'"

Hello, wake up call!

Next week, I'm going in, shutting the door, and doing MY work. What a concept!

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Panic Starts Now

Today is our big Three Kings Epiphany dinner, and it is the largest gathering we've had, some 36 people will descend upon my house in less than 12 hours, waiting to be fed.

I woke up exhausted. I'm the only one up. I'm freaking out. Heading off to cook something. Anything!!! YIKES!

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Lame New Look

Ok, yes, this new layout is L-A-M-E, but I'm trying to get some stuff on here and the templates keep on messing up. This leads me to conclude that I have no idea what the hell I'm doing in customizing my blog, so for now I'm going to leave it be and come back when I'm less frustrated. Sometimes tech sucks.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

2007: Reflecting on a Year Well Read

So, I concluded my 2007 resolution to read 100 books in a single year, and overshot by 12. Reaching that goal was a lot harder than I thought it would be, and in fact there were times I almost gave up thinking it would be impossible.

The last couple of days I've spent entering my reviews onto GOODREADS.COM and reflecting back on the year as it was. I was also speaking with my boss about it today and he was recommending some books to me, which is so funny--you find out what people are reading and you'd never think that would be the type of book they'd read. My boss, when he's not working, is a beef farmer and a kind of macho dude, but apparently he loves Amy Tan. Go figure.

So we were talking and I was doing the reviews and I was reading over books that I thought I had enjoyed, but according to my reviews, I didn't, and then looking at books I didn't think I'd liked and according to my reviews, I had loved them. So go figure. I can't even remember what I read! A couple of books I actually pulled off the shelf to re-read the blurbs to find out what the heck they were even about and try to jog my memory. But there were some books that really stood out for me, books that I really loved and a few I really hated, and I want to make sure to mention those.

So without further ado, I present my top and bottom picks of 2007.

Let's start with the bad.

Least Favorite Fiction Book: Dumping Billy by Olivia Goldsmith. I had such a visceral reaction to this book--I beyond hated it. The story was promising, but I hated the main character with a passion, and from there it was downhill.

Runners Up: Hanna's Daughters by Marianne Frederiksson, The Note by Angela Hunt

Least Favorite Non-Fiction: Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi. Not only did it not live up to my expectations, but it was BORING. I desperately wanted it to be a triumph of the female spirit and it was just blah. I was SO disappointed by this book.

Runners Up: Final Analysis: The Untold Story of the Susan Polk Murder Case by Catherine Crier, A Thousand Days in Venice by Marlena de Blasi

Least Favorite Childrens/Young Adult Book: Motorboat Boys on the Saint Lawrence by Lewis Arundel. The book, written in the 20's, wasn't bad per se, just my least favorite of the genre I'd read this year. Since it took place near my hometown, I had hoped to read more into the geography of NNY and also I didn't like the fat kid getting picked on. Sue me.

The Year's Disappointments: There were threebooks that really let me down this year. Azar Nafisi's Reading Lolita in Tehran, Joan Didion's The Year of Magical Thinking, and Anna Quindlen's Blessings. I had high hopes for all three and all three really let me down.

Those are really all the un-favorites I can think of. On to the good stuff...

Favorite Series: I only read one series of books this year, that being the Elm Creek Quilts series by Jennifer Chiaverini. I read books from other series, including the final Harry Potter book and the latest Miss Julia book. I loved all of them. Harry Potter stands out for obvious reasons, but the new Miss Julia stands up to the previous books in the series and much as I have been loathe to admit it, I have loved, loved, loved reading the quilt books. They have made me laugh, cry, and everything in between. So I guess I'll point to them.

Runners Up: The Little House books, Harry Potter, Miss Julia

Favorite Young Adult/Children's Book: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling. Not even a fair fight, but hands down, no doubt, my favorite YA book of this year. It ended fair and square, left open new possibilities, was exciting, moving, and emotional. I get the chills just thinking about it.

Runners Up: Such a Pretty Girl by Laura Wiess, Homefront by Doris Gwaltney, A Northern Light by Jennifer Donnelly, Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac by Gabrielle Zevin

Favorite Fiction: Last Days of Summer by Steve Kluger. Not only is this my favorite fiction this year, it's one of my top five favorite books ever. The story of a wisecrackin' Brooklyn kid and his hero, a third baseman for the Giants, I read it twice this year, I let my dad borrow a copy and he didn't return it, I sent a copy to Jacalyn who promptly demanded her friends read it, and the book is really moving. For the record, the guy is a baseball player, but the book is NOT ABOUT BASEBALL. I just finished reading it to Michael and went through 16 tissues bawling my way through the end. Read it. What are you waiting for? I said NOW! :-D

Runners Up: Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson, The Dive from Claussen's Pier by Ann Packer, The Magic of Ordinary Days by Ann Howard Creel, Ella Minnow Pea by Mark Dunn, The Virgin of Small Plains by Nancy Pickard.

Favorite Non-Fiction: It's a tie. The first is Father Knows Less (Or: Can I Cook My Sister?)by Wendell Jamieson. I learned so much while reading this book and it didn't feel like learning. It just felt fun and interesting. The writing was great--easy to read, easy to understand, and covered a broad range of topics. This is a rare book I will probably read again.

Second is the book that really changed my life: How to Be Happy Dammit! A Cynic's Guide to Spiritual Happiness by Karen Salmansohn. I don't know if this was the right book or just the right time or a combination of the two, but since reading this book, I've never been in better headspace than I am now. The quick and easy lessons coupled with fun and interesting graphic elements, the humor and the simple truth all joined together to make a book I needed to read without knowing it. Meant as a gift for my sister, it's become a book I give out freely and without reservation to people I know are having a difficult time.

Runners Up: Eating Royally by Darren McGrady. It wasn't just a cookbook or a memoire, it was an experience, especially when we cooked. The Innocent Man by John Grisham, a book which changed my mind about the death penalty. The Martian Child by David Gerrold.

Favorite Biography: It was a squeaker, I had a couple of very good candidates, but I must award it to Sleeping Arrangements by Laura Shaine Cunningham. The story of a young girl in New York whose mother dies and who is taken in by her eccentric uncles was moving, funny, and sweet. I particularly enjoyed the trip to Cuba.

Runners Up: The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls.

Favorite Graphic Novel: Not a category I thought I'd include this year, but amazingly, I read several, and I'm happy to choose Superman: Secret Identity by Kurt Busiek and Stuart Immonen. It's rare a graphic novel makes me weepy, heck I didn't even cry reading Maus (which was amazing, by the way and if you haven't read it you should!), but I really loved this story of an average guy becoming a superhero and the life choices he's forced to make.

Happy Surprises: These are books I either stumbled into, books that were recommended to me, books I didn't expect much from but books that turned into a great read. My favorite happy surprise was reading two books by Geraldine Brooks, both of which I expected to hate, and both of which I wound up loving. The two books were Year of Wonders and March and I thought they'd both be too dark for me, but instead, I really enjoyed them both.

Runners Up: The Next Big Thing by Johanna Edwards, Water for Elephants by Sarah Gruen, Nearlyweds by Beth Kendrick, Happiness Sold Separately by Lolly Winston.

When all is said and done, the book that mattered most to me this year, the book for which I would throw away all 111 other books I read this year was Last Days of Summer by Steve Kluger.

I know. I have an unnatural, and probably unhealthy, love for this book. But it had all the elements of great literature: Amazing characters, humor, romance, heartache, great setting, great historical time period, the writing was incredible. Heck, I sent the author an email and he got back to me in under three hours! It was incredibly difficult to say that of all the books I read, there could be one that affected me so deeply, but as I pored over the list, and I thought of the experience of the people I've shared it with, and the feedback I've gotten from those who have taken my suggestion and read it, it is the obvious choice. If I were to choose a runner up, it would be How to be Happy Dammit! which had a tremendous impact on me personally, as it did on at least one family member I know of, but because Last Days has such broad appeal and is just such an amazing piece of writing, I am officially presenting with the 2007 Suasn/Kate Kosior Book of the Year Award. May it reign with pride.

So that's it. I'll go back to reviewing a book here and there as I feel they'll be of interest to people, but probably not each and every book I read this year. I'm already starting the year off with kind of a dud, so you won't be hearing from me about Smashed by Koren Zailckas, a true story of her bout with alcoholism from age 14. I'm to her college years and I'm like "Yeah, I get it, you're a drunk."

Happy Reading!