Saturday, October 29, 2011

The Magic Dry-Erase Board

I once owned a magic dry-erase board.  True story.  Any task applied to the board would eventually get done.  The board saw such mundane entities as vacuum and call landlord about dryer, as well as more complicated items like algebra test Thursday, and please remove the bong from the living room before my mom arrives.  I acquired the dry-erase board well before I met my last roommate before getting married.  Said roommate and I would frequently communicate via the board, and the board often featured a running commentary of miscellaneous things to be done/bought/cleaned/whatever.  It was affixed to the wall by a nail driven through a giant metal clamp, which I had purchased to secure some random art project.  Originally the board came with its own adhesive, but that had long since worn out. 

It came as little surprise one day, when my friend and neighbor, who I will call Gwen in order to keep her online presence minimal, noticed the magical qualities of the dry erase board and added find Gwen a boyfriend to the list of tasks on hand (which included finding me a new job).  My roommate, Bee, and I looked at each other and thought, ok, we'll get right on that as soon as we're finished vacuuming and bong-hiding.

Meanwhile, in another part of the woods, I had also joined a running group.  The typical Saturday routine for Bee, Gwen, and me consisted of Gwen and I going off and running with our different running groups, while Bee went to work.  Gwen and I would return from running very, very hungry and would eat a bunch of scrambled eggs with veggies and cheese and toast and then proceed to fall asleep in whatever apartment we were in.  It was Bee's job to come home from work and wake us up so Bee and I could proceed with our ridiculous Saturday afternoon grocery-shopping routine.  Gwen tended to avoid this bit of mayhem. 

My running group was headed by my former running coach, from when I signed up to run my very first marathon through Team in Training.  Through my running group, I met this guy, Winchester.  Somehow, we became the same pace.  I say somehow because we're now very different paces.  And at the time, Winchester had no idea how fast we were running.  We'd go off for a run of 6, or 8, or 12, or 15 miles and I'd TALK the whole time.  He'd figure, we're not working that hard: Virginia's talking the whole time.  As it turns out, we were moving fairly quickly, and he managed to learn a whole lot more about me than I did about him.  Nonetheless, I discerned some important pieces of information.  Winchester 1) had a great sense of humor; in fact he performed stand-up comedy; 2) was terrific with children; and 3) loved animals. 

This is not exactly my list of qualifications in a man, since I don't want any kids of my own, and I'm allergic to just about every animal ever, but I figured they'd be good for Gwen, who is quirky, teaches music to elementary-aged children, and has this cat, Jordan, who's around 100 years old in cat-time and figures it gives him the right to be a crotchety old man. 

Of course, this wasn't all fireworks and unicorns right away.  Nothing would be more awkward than me saying to Gwen and Winchester, you're perfect for each other, now go ahead and get married.  Winchester was shy, Gwen was gun-shy, having recently gotten out of a messy relationship, Winchester had some budgetary constraints, and frankly, I was having trouble describing each one to the other.  In the world of dating, everyone wants to know what everyone looks like, not what they're like.  And despite the fact that I know that both Gwen and Winchester are super-powered rock stars, they're not the sorts of people who'll make the cover of Glamour or GQ.  Which is really everyone else's loss.

So, fast-forward about a year and a half to my wedding.  Gwen was a bridesmaid, Winchester was a guest.  I was determined that between the alcohol, the music, and the festive environment, the two of them could find about seven words to say to each other.  Until I caught Gwen's mother DANCING with Winchester!  To be fair, Gwen's mom was young when she had Gwen, and Winchester is old enough to sort of fall in between the mother and daughter in terms of age.  Nonetheless, this was not what I was aiming for at all.

I remember turning to someone and saying, that's not what's supposed to be happening, AT ALL.  I'm not sure who intervened, and it doesn't really matter.  When you're the one in the big white dress, you get to make all of the rules.  And miraculously, somehow, Gwen and Winchester managed to exchange phone numbers.

The day after my wedding we were loading boxes into the u-haul that my brother-in-law was driving to California for us, and I saw Gwen's note still on the dry-erase board, as well as many cross-outs from last minute moving and wedding things.  I shrugged because I figured I had done about all I could do on that front. 

We packed up and moved to California, where the dry-erase board made it's home in apartment.  Captain America erased Gwen's note.  Fortunately, by this time, Winchester had worked up the courage to ask her out on a few dates, and while I wasn't positive of their relationship status, I figured things were pretty much out of my control. 

By the time we moved into our house, Gwen and Winchester were happily engaged and I was going to attend their wedding in a month or so.  The dry-erase board had been stacked in the garage with a few other things that hadn't found a formal residence in our new home.

The dry-erase board met it's untimely death when Captain America pulled the truck into the garage and smashed a corner of it.  Like a wily cat that doesn't want to be an indoor pet, the dry-erase board managed to finagle it's way into a place that was out of the line-of-sight of my husband as he drove into the garage.  As soon as he heard the smash, he knew what happened, and when I returned home that day, I was met by a sad-faced husband who confirmed: I have a sad story for you. 

We tossed it without ceremony into the trash bin.  I told Captain America not to feel too bad; that dry-erase board had a longer and more productive life than anyone would have anticipated from it, and in all likelihood, we weren't going to get much more out of it: after all, it helped to find Gwen not just a boyfriend, but a husband.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

A is for Alibi (Kinsey Millhone, #1)A is for Alibi by Sue Grafton

My rating: 1 of 5 stars

I read this book because I was curious about the series. I can see why it's a best seller, but I was hoping it would be trashtastic, but it wasn't. To be fair, I didn't read the book, I listened to it. In fact I listened to the abridged version. I'm normally not an abridged version person, but I accidentally picked up the short version at the library. I don't think I could have sat through the whole thing, so it's just as well.
This book is a bit of a rom-stery (if rom-com is a silly way to say romantic-comedy, I figure this is a silly way to say romantic mystery), but there just wasn't much of anything. The mystery wasn't very mysterious, the sex wasn't very sexy, and the drama didn't create suspense; I just wanted to shout "get on with it!"

I suppose it's possible that the series gets better, but I'm not going to stick around to see what happens.

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Saturday, October 22, 2011

WonderstruckWonderstruck by Brian Selznick

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book was amazing! The plot line was fairly simple (although I'm sure it's not quite as simple to a child). The book is basically two overlapping stories, one of Rose that takes place in 1927, and one of Ben, in 1977. Rose's story is only told in pictures, and Ben's only in words. The two stories weave together beautifully, and being able to guess the ending does not distract the reader.

For example, Ben runs away to New York. The book says:

Ben continued uptown. After a few blocks, he stopped at a red stone building set back a little bit from the road. It was surrounded by trees and seemed larger than any of the other buildings nearby. The name of the building fluttered on a banner hung between two columns.

It looked like a castle from a fairy tale.

But then, rather than telling the reader where Ben is, the story switches over to Rose's POV, and we see her holding a postcard of the American Museum of Natural History.

Yes, I would absolutely categorize this book as a children's book (my guess would be grades 3-5), but I think any bibliophile should check it out because it's creatively and beautifully done, and is a testament to the reasons I love reading.

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Monday, October 17, 2011

The Demigod Files (Percy Jackson and the Olympians)The Demigod Files by Rick Riordan

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

This book is sort of akin to "Quidditch Through the Ages" and "Fantastic Beasts & Where to Find Them" of the Harry Potter series.

This book is a few short stories, combined with some insider information and a couple of puzzles. It makes for a cute anecdote to the series, but isn't particularly substantial. Also, I can't tell where in the series it's supposed to occur (other than sometime before the last book).

All-in-all, I'm sure this is a totally entertaining read for the kids who are fans of the series, but adults may want to skip it.

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Sunday, October 2, 2011

The Invention of Hugo CabretThe Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is perhaps the most interesting book I've ever read. The story line is not that impressive...I would say it is targeted to 4th-6th graders. What made the book unique is that half of the book is pictures. It's described as a story in which you have to read the pictures. Unlike the traditional use of pictures in books, in which the illustrations emphasize the story, in this book, the pictures actually tell the story...if you were to skip the pictures, you would skip parts of the story.

I recommend this book to everyone who is interested in a different sort of reading experience. The illustrations are remarkably well done, and I'd be surprised if a fellow bibliophile didn't enjoy this book!

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