Have you ever

Have you ever read a book that was outside your comfort zone?  Or watched a movie you didn’t really like?  Awhile back I joined a book club at work that meets during lunch once a month.  Our most recent book, which we discussed yesterday, wasn’t my favorite.  There’s nothing wrong with the book itself, I just could not relate to the story or the protagonist. 

I read for enjoyment.  If I’m not having a good time it becomes more like work.  After trying three times to read this book I finally faced the fact that I couldn’t finish.  The female protagonist was thoroughly unlikable.  She had no redeeming features.  Not. One.  As an example, when her mother is shot our heroine ponders what she should wear to the hospital!  In addition, everything – and I DO mean everything – is about sex with this girl.  At one point she’s in a restaurant with her younger sisters and the young man her father sent to watch over them while he’s with their mother in the hospital.  As they’re led to their table she sees a centerpiece with lit candles and immediately starts thinking about the flames and how they’re heating her up!  Only her thoughts are a bit more explicit.

Now I’m no prude.  At fifty-mumble years old my life experience includes sex abuse, a few adult liasions and two marriages.  I’m a Scorpio, married to a Scorpio for heaven’s sake!  I’m not adverse to having sex in a book I’m reading if it furthers the plot or helps me understand a character.  But this girl was so over the top that I was uncomfortable reading her thoughts.  She talks about losing her virginity at 12!!  Voluntarily!  [shudder]

Okay deep breath Bubbe.  And hold it, hold it….  Let it out slowly.  There, a little better now. 

During our meeting yesterday one of the members who did finish the book said he kept waiting for the character to develop but she never did.  Through all the trials she faced (father arrested, mother shot, foster care, jail) she NEVER grew.  And of course it was always someone else’s fault.  After hearing various members agreeing I was so glad I didn’t waste any more time on the book than I did.  Life is too short to read books you don’t like.

And don’t even get me started on Leaving Las Vegas!

P.S.  I’m not naming the book because it isn’t my intent to trash it just because I didn’t like it personally.  Others may enjoy it; several in our group did.

Much Ado About Normal

What exactly is normal?  People use that word a lot.  Normal weight.  Normal blood pressure.  Normal diet.  Normal (i.e., REAL) job.  Or as we say sometimes in our house, “back to normal.”  In the words of one of my favorite characters ever (apologies in advance for the poor quality):

Just sayin’.

From Merriam-Webster online:

According to Merriam-Webster “normal” is an adjective.  Well hell.  It’s been a LOT of damn years since I was in English class.  My first guess is that an adjective describes something.  Am I right? Huh?  Do I win?  Not really. 

Again according to M-W, an adjective is a “modifier of a noun to denote a quality of the thing named….”  So “normal” modifies nouns.  Modifying is similar to changing, correct?  I think I’m safe there.  Maybe looking at the actual definition will help: 

Definition of NORMAL

1: perpendicular; especially : perpendicular to a tangent at a point of tangency
2a: according with, constituting, or not deviating from a norm, rule, or principle 
  b: conforming to a type, standard, or regular pattern
3: occurring naturally <normal immunity>
4a: of, relating to, or characterized by average intelligence or development
  b : free from mental disorder : sane
5a of a solution : having a concentration of one gram equivalent of solute per liter
  b: containing neither basic hydroxyl nor acid hydrogen <normal silver phosphate> 
  c: not associated <normal molecules> 
  d: having a straight-chain structure <normal butyl alcohol>
6 of a subgroup : having the property that every coset produced by operating on the left by a given element is equal to the coset produced by operating on the right by the same element
7: relating to, involving, or being a normal curve or normal distribution <normal approximation to the binomial distribution>
8 of a matrix : having the property of commutativity under multiplication by the transpose of the matrix each of whose elements is a conjugate complex number with respect to the corresponding element of the given matrix

Um, not so much.  Although perhaps 4a and b are the closest to what your “man-on-the-street” thinks normal means.  But when you see all the other meanings…it’s a bit overwhelming.   I’m no English expert (I had one – count it – ONE English course in college many, many years ago) and I don’t get it.  And guess what?  I. Do. Not. Care. 

Plus?  Nowhere on this list is my go-to definition for normal (it’s a setting on the clothes dryer for heaven’s sake!).  Unless it falls under one of those weirdly-worded dealy-bobs up there.  That’s right – dealy-bob.  It’s a technical term. 

Besides, Google knows all and Google says Normal is a town in Illinois.  Seriously.  Look it up. 


Stealth Secretary

Today I had my annual performance review.  Not to worry…it was fine.  My supervisor called me her “secret weapon.”  That’ll make you feel pretty good about yourself.  Then she proceeded to skim over the comments made by the four attorneys I support.  I’ll eventually get a copy of their comments so I can read them in depth, but today she gave me some of the highlights. 

At one point she quoted one of the attorneys who mentioned my assistance on a pro hac vice (pro hawk veechay) motion with very little oversight.  Paraphrased, he commented that I had the necessary skills to handle a more litigation-heavy work load, and my supervisor turned back to me and said, “Your secret’s out.” 

It wasn’t really a secret.  I worked for an Attorney General’s office for around 8 years in litigation so I do have the skills.  When we moved to Washington though I had been out of litigation for at least a year and I started with BigLaw in the environmental department, which was fine by me.  After years of dealing with inmate civil rights litigation I was pretty burnt. 

I’ve been with BigLaw for 15 years this September and for most of that time I’ve had only minimal exposure to litigation – thank goodness!  Now however, management has higher expectations for secretaries and ALL secretaries will need to have some familiarity with litigation.  So I’m ahead of the game there I suppose. 

My organizational abilities were also given “exceeds expectations” marks.  Now if only I could make use of those at home – sigh.  I’m not even as organized as some other secretaries I know; I just like things in a certain order, so I know where to find what I need. 

Other comments included my collegiality.  Okay, I confess.  I knew that collegiality was positive and means something like “plays well with others” but I looked it up anyway.  The thesaurus had this to say: “mutually respectful, uncompetitive.”  Yeah, that’s me all over. 

Have a fabulous weekend!  I’m gonna get a pedicure tomorrow to celebrate!  Oh, did I forget to mention I got a raise?  Go me!  😉

P.S.  I did NOT add the tags to this post and I’m not sure how they got added since they’re  advertisements.  My apologies.  (If anyone out there knows how they got added and how I can prevent it in the future please let me know?  Thanks muchly.)

I Heart You

Happy Valentine’s Day peeps!  And if you’re not a regular and you found yourself here today for some reason – Happy Valentine’s Day to you too. 

Let’s spread the love around shall we?  Just the love though.  No cootie spreading!


You have to read this!

In her debut novel Still Missing, Chevy Stevens mesmerized me.  After borrowing the book from the library on Tuesday I found myself reading every chance I got.  On the train going home.  On the train Wednesday morning coming to work.  At lunch on Wednesday and again going home.  Today – Thursday I did it again.  But after lunch I couldn’t put it down and work was so slow I didn’t.  Leaving it open on my desk I continued reading while keeping one eye on my inbox in case new work arrived.  I finished it a few minutes ago.

One of the blurbs on the back cover said it best, “While reading Chevy Stevens’s thriller Still Missing, I had to remind myself to breathe.  Simply terrifying.”  (Erica Spindler, New York Times bestselling author of Blood Vines).

I’m a fan of authors like Dean Koontz and Lisa Gardiner who know a thing or three about suspense.  Chevy Stevens took suspense and fear and dread to a whole new level for me.  Her protagonist, Annie O’Sullivan is a career woman who seems to have it together.  Until she’s abducted by a psycho bastard who locks her in a fortified cabin hidden in the woods.  The story describes how Annie fights to stay alive while losing bits and pieces of herself over the next year.  It’s frightening, heart-wrenching, desperate. 

Set on Vancouver Island in Canada, the story unfolds as Annie describes her experiences to her therapist.  She recounts the abduction, the brutal treatment by her captor and also shares how her transition back into normal life is progressing. 

When the investigation into her abduction takes an unpredictable turn, Annie confronts a startling truth and must make some hard decisions. 

As I said initially, the book mesmerized me; and it gave me the chills.  And it made me cry and even laugh a little.  It’s a wild ride!  If you aren’t a fan of thrillers you might still enjoy this.  As frightened as I was for Annie the reader knows from the beginning that she survived, because she’s talking to her therapist afterward.  Knowing that helps with the scarier parts. 

If you do read it, or have already read it please let me know how you liked it.  Now I need to go find Stevens’ second book.  Well, after I read this month’s book club selection I guess.

Head’s Up

Blogspot hates me again.  And not only Blogspot; I think the entire Internet is out to get me, period. 

I’ve been having difficulty commenting at several of my favorite blogs of late.  And now I can’t even see the blogs I follow on Blogspot!  I thought it might be FeedDemon giving me crap but even when I try to go to those blogs in my browser rather than the reader I still can’t see them.  I get the wallpaper but not the posts.  Makes me want to throw a tantrum!  Or a brick at the monitor. 

Not sure what to do about this.  Hubs suggested I chat up IT to see if they can figure it out.  Technically it isn’t verboten to read blogs at work but something tells me the Powers That Be might not be thrilled to know how many I follow (about 18 at last count) when I’m supposed to be working for The Man.  So I think I’ll only consult IT as a last resort. 

For now, I’ve uninstalled FeedDemon, retaining the cache in case I decide to reinstall it later.  Last night at home I downloaded a reader app onto my Kindle Fire.  Earlier today on my break I subscribed to most of my FeedDemon list via the Kindle.  That’s as far as I’ve gotten.  Everything seemed to go fine; I checked out Grammy’s blog and all her most recent posts show up – YAY!  Ditto for awesomesauciness.  And that was all I had time to check after subscribing to about a dozen blogs.  This weekend I plan to spend some time getting familiar with the feeder, etc. and I’ll try commenting. 

The downside to having the feeds on my Kindle is that I must be in an open/free wi-fi area as I don’t have a connection in the Kindle itself.  So I’ll only be able to read the feeds when I’m at home, at work in the building lobby (and sometimes our cafe), at the library or on the particular cars of the commuter train which provide wi-fi.  This should be fun.  No, seriously. 

So if you hear a pitiful wailing coming from the west this weekend hopefully it won’t be me!

Have a great weekend everyone!