Thursday, March 29, 2007

Once Upon a Time Challenge

Between now and June 22, I'll be reading (and reviewing) 5 fantasy books:

God of the Golden Fleece, by Fred Saberhagen
Greenmantle, by Charles deLint
Silver Birch, Blood Moon, edited by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling
Giving Birth to Thunder, Sleeping with HIs Daughter: Coyote Builds North America, by Barry Lopez
A Midsummer Night's Dream, by William Shakespeare (on the 22nd itself)

[here's the link, I'll do the coding and hope to add the banner somehow]

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

I did it

I have 10+ pages of handwritten material for my DayDiary submission. I can't publish any of it until after the book comes out, and then only 500 words worth (assuming that any of it makes the cut). I will check in later to write about the writing, the day, and how I'm getting by with no sleep. That kid had better take a nap today so help me...

I told Steve last night that I might could be book-published next year. He was surpised and happy. I haven't slept since 6:57 yesterday morning. I have to walk away from the writing so I can breathe and figure out how to clean it up for submission. I have a lot of chronicle and only a little depth and humor. Did not get to bake bread last night, so must go fix big salad and coffee for husband, hope it gets him through the day.

Links, explanations later, when I can see straight again.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Babyproofing Your Marriage, by Stacie Cockrell, Cathy O'Neill, and Julia Stone

I made the mistake of reading a few other reviews (and the resulting "I agree with you" commentary) before I cracked the spine on this book. Even though I had the negative impressions of the reviewers hoping to influence my own, I managed to find Babyproofing only marginally helpful for my own reasons.

Cockrell, O'Neill, and Stone come from and speak to a limited audience, which makes sense for book sales, but not as much for giving the self-help genre timeless and universal material. I realize that I'm crafting a fairly tall order for a book that isn't required to be more than the flavor of the month. Their suggestions may work just fine for those who are otherwise psychologically healthy; in my opinion, the healthy ones don't need this book, and parents who are dealing with some dysfunction will be frustrated with the authors' attitudes.

The authors state that "the sex issue" was the main prompt for their efforts to write this book. Amongst other suggestions, they propose using "the 5-minute fix" to satisfy one's husband's needs for the oh-so-small sacrifice of "mild feelings of compromising yourself." And that is where they lost me. I personally find that particular act to be demeaning on a high order. I don't like the idea of being a step up from what my husband can do for himself. I get no pleasure in pretending to be a porn actress. The times I have complied, I have never reaped any of the benefits the authors claim to exist on their little chart. While this "fix" may work for people who have come through life without having suffered/survived abuse via sex, it is at worst a reliving of a painful past and at best an insult to those of us who didn't escape what can be rightly called an epidemic.

As I was reading Babyproofing Your Marriage, I'd mention certain ideas to my husband. He scorned most of them, and after several attempts to communicate, I had to give up in order to keep the peace. Would this book have been more helpful if read before our son had been born? I find it hard to believe so.

The authors did have some good things to say about relationships with the new grandparents (although, thank goodness, very little of it has applied to our situation), having another child, and hope for the future. I especially appreciated that the authors (finally) included the best news I've heard in a long time: two-thirds of unhappy marriages right themselves within 5 years. If we (myself and my husband) can analogize this early childhood experience with a particularly challenging degree program, I think it will help us get through our rough patch.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Dog Bless America: Tails from the Road

I don't remember when I signed up to receive this book, but I'm sure I thought I would receive a simple novelty/cutesy/feel-good read. I definitely didn't expect to find inspiration in Selis's introduction: "...thank you for helping me find my ball," (the ball representing happiness, of course). This wasn't simply a photoshoot of the country's canines, Selis touched on the many areas in which dogs have become part of our culture: the Iditarod, church blessings of animals, police and service dogs, fox hunting, dog beaches and parks, and monuments.

Having the roaming urge myself, Selis's inclusion of his route made me consider which way I would traverse the country should I ever get the opportuity: West, then North, East, and South (does keeping things clockwise make it go smoother?)? Or would I have more fun with a wave pattern, say TX ->NM ->CO ->UT ->AZ, etc.? I don't know the nation's highway routes well, but I'm sure the latter would eat up many more miles/much more time. I'd have to save that trip for retirement.

This book also brought up memories of traveling with Persephone when we moved out here from California. The benefits at the time were obvious; no one was going to mess with me and risk tangling with her, and I would have that same security right away in whatever new dwelling I could find. The drawback didn't manifest until we arrived at our destination, and it was completely my fault. Persephone hadn't been eating during our trip out, and at our last overnight before Austin, I made the executive decision to give her some canned food (which she still can't resist). After we landed in Austin, I went into Kmart to stock up on supplies I thought I'd need if we had to camp while I looked for a place to live, Persephone went--messily--all over the front seat she'd been on the entire way. Lesson learned--don't try to outthink your dog's bodily functions--you will lose.

I had to laugh a little when I read about Pahu (the Hawaiian drum dog)--Persephone has loved drum circles from the first time I was able to bring her to one. Drumming is something that I've had to let go of for now; I miss it, and I'll bet she does too.

Selis's end to the book (technically the back cover) was definitely a fitting one; filking "America the Beautiful" was just too darn cute, which is, of course, exactly what I was expecting. I hope this book has kept Otis in dog biscuits for a while.

Pictured here is our 2-year-old Great Pyrenees/Anatolean Shepherd mix Boudreaux. Yes, we're aware of what his name means in "Cajun," and we stand by our decision. Trust me.

[originally published on BookCrossing, March 22, 2007]