Sunday, November 25, 2012

An Epitaph

I was cleaning out a drawer in my old Pittsburgh bedroom over this past Thanksgiving break, and I came upon this poem. I've never considered myself much of a poet, but I was actually a little impressed with this one, so I thought I'd share it. I have no idea how old I was when I wrote it, but I have very clearly lost my rhyming ability since then.

An Epitaph

There once was a child
and she loved to eat
spoonfuls of pudding
and salty fried treats

One fateful day
she caught her reflection
and saw every bulge
each imperfection

At about that time
she looked to the sky
wishing and dreaming
of kissing a guy

But as the time passed
and other girls dated
she began to feel
more and more deflated

So the girl began
to do what she could
she ate less and less
so she'd look as she should

But to her dismay
when at last she looked good
authorities caught her
and made her eat food

Angry and ugly
and out of control
she caved in and let
self-hatred take hold

Quite soon after that
she started to gain
more weight than she ever
had held on her frame

Her stomach bulged out
and she cursed its swell
as she stuffed her face full
and damned it to hell

She knew that the guy
who'd aroused her with lust
would now see her figure
and grimace in disgust

So she dressed in sweats
for she had much to hide
like her expanding waist
and jiggling thighs

This all made her sad
when she watched every other
girl that she knew
attract a new lover

At last one fine day
she looked in the mirror
and smiled 'cause she knew
she had nothing to fear

For she had failed once
but she would fix that
when she unsheathed the knife
and carved out her fat

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Pittsburgh Turkey Trot 2012

Perfect way to pregame for Thanksgiving? A 5 mile race at 9am, of course!

It was even better this year because my parents came along to cheer, and both my sister A___ and my dedicated boyfriend R___ ran the race too! It certainly wasn't my fastest race, but it was nice to have an active event to do this morning, since I have spent the majority of this holiday so far either sitting in a car or eating.

Results from this race:

Race LengthFinishing TimeAverage PaceOverall PlaceGender PlaceAge Group Place (F25-29)
5 miles38:017:36/mile260/1771?/92318/202

Monday, November 19, 2012

Snapshot Book Review: Amy and Isabelle

Amy and Isabelle Amy and Isabelle by Elizabeth Strout
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Beautiful, lyrical writing. This book is for those readers who read simply for the characters. The plot was intentionally predictable, with every turn foreseeable chapters before the characters come to make the discoveries. The mother-daughter connection is written poignantly, and "the past will repeat itself" theme is clearly stated without being annoyingly repeated.

My qualm with the book is its pacing. Once I read a heart-rending passage, I wanted more; I wanted acceleration. Instead, as soon as Strout finished a chapter, she would begin the next one with outstanding but lengthy descriptions of scenery or town history. With every chapter I felt like I was moving backward before I could more forward, and I am a very forward-moving reader.

However, the relationships between women--young friends, old friends, coworkers, wives, mothers and daughters--are all rendered with authenticity, which I greatly appreciate in a book which, superficially, is about affairs between men and women.

View all my reviews

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Snapshot Book Review: Sad Desk Salad

Sad Desk SaladSad Desk Salad by Jessica Grose
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I agree with many of the other two-star reviewers: it was ok.

I don't read much chick lit, so I'm not sure if it's all like this. I actually only read this book because I received it as a galley copy from HarperCollins. Still, even if chick lit is all written like similarly, this is a book I could have written . . . back in 7th grade when everything I wrote mirrored my life, only with far more melodrama than I could muster up in real life. I am unimpressed by any of the characters including Alex herself, and while I can sincerely appreciate the dilemma of "making numbers" at any moral cost, I remained uninspired by Alex's wishy-washy self observations: she observed that she was making the wrong decisions and then made them anyway again. And again. And again. And I simply couldn't identify enough with her at the outset to care that she was clearly making a mess of herself.

On top of that, I am offended by the very concept of a "sad desk salad" (something that "desiccated chicken breasts" and "greens with low-fat dressing" eaten by girls in offices all over the country) and am even more offended by Alex's belief that she is bucking the trend when she goes to get not one but two slices of pizza. To my mind, this perfectly epitomizes everything I did not like about the book: its reliance on--often false--stereotypes of working women, particularly those recently graduated from college.

Is it the worst book I've ever read? No. Would I recommend it to any fellow readers I know? Definitely not.

View all my reviews

Thursday, November 15, 2012


Prompt: Choose a phobia from the list provided. Write about it.

Time: 10 minutes


It's watching me. I glance over my shoulder, but nothing is there. Nothing I can see, at least.

Shifting uncomfortably, I cross and then uncross my legs. What is taking her so long? I agreed to come see Laura's prom dress; I did not agree to sit alone in her living room with that . . . thing.

There's a rustle in the corner, and I snap my head around so hard my neck cracks. The dusty leaves of the fern on the windowsill rustle, but nothing is there.

I know it's watching me. Circling closer. Plotting.

My neck starts to itch. I sit on my hands so I won't scratch, but then I start to envision the thing launching itself toward my face, claws extended. So I bring my hands back out and clasp them tightly in my lap.

A door opens upstairs. A voice floats down,

"Sorry Katie, I'll be right there."

I hear the shuffle of chiffon and sequins across wood an hear another door slam.

Couldn't she have warned me? That would only have been polite. What if I was allergic? Actually, who's to say I'm not allergic?

My throat fels scratchy, so I clear it. More phlegm seems to ooze back into my throat, so I clear it again. And again. I reach up. It feels swollen.

I start to hyperventilate in raspy wheezes. My eyes dart frantically around the room. Where is it? I know it's there, stalking me.

"Show your face!" I shout, gasping.

A door opens and Laura comes down the steps. In a blur of black, the beast is on her, around her neck.

"Ow! Tonx, stop!" She removes the claws gingerly and looks back at me. "So, what do you think?"

Saturday, November 10, 2012

What a Light Bulb and a Stomach Have in Common

You know how, during a thunderstorm, you feel incredibly annoyed when the power goes out? Great, now I can't watch the rest of this movie. Seriously, you'd think power companies would be able to prevent this sort of thing. Guess I'll go find the flashlight. Now turn the thunderstorm into a hurricane and that one night into one week.

Losing power for one night makes you recognize how much we take electricity for granted: without it, there's no reading after dark, no television, no internet. Losing power for a week makes you realize how many aspects of your life rely on this resource (and how little attention you ever paid to this dependence): no refrigeration, no freezers, no street lights, no heat or air-conditioning. No credit cards. No cell phones.

Believe it or not, I actually thought I was prepared to lose power during Hurricane Sandy. (Well, at least mentally prepared.) Even without rain or flooding, we all knew that the wind would be brutal and would probably knock down a power line or two. Therefore, although I was a little nervous about only having two candles and a flashlight, I was feeling rather gracious during those first few days, especially as I observed the amount of destruction and devastation around me. Okay, we haven't gotten power back yet, but it's only been two days. They must be working on it, and they probably have a lot of apartments to restore. At least my apartment didn't get flooded. I should be grateful enough for that. They'll get the power back on soon enough. Plus--hey--this is sort of like camping, right? An adventure!

After five days of "adventure," however, all I really wanted to do was watch a movie. That, and take off my winter hat and coat. No electricity meant no heat, and it also meant that around 4:30pm, it was time to start planning where we could go to bide the time until we had to return to our pitch-black apartment and force ourselves to sleep. Luckily, a neighbor gave us some candles, so at least we could make our way around the apartment at night without any catastrophes.

Finally, after a full week of darkness, cold, and, of course, no internet, I jetted away on a work trip to California. Finally I'll have good food, a warm room to sleep in, and unlimited access to do all of those things on the internet I've been meaning to do. The next morning, however, I awoke to a new, brutal reminder of yet another aspect of life most of us take for granted: our health. At first I just thought I had eaten too much at dinner the night before. As the hour wore on, however, I realized that mere digestion was not the issue. Something was seriously wrong in there.

I had been sent to California to work at a scientific conference, and I was one of only two people who were responsible for setting up our company's booth in the exhibits hall of this conference. Work had paid to fly me here, and my coworker was depending on me to be there to help. That sense of indebtedness, combined with my Protestant work ethic and Catholic-school-instilled guilt, motivated me to get up off of the cold tile bathroom floor, pull on some clothes, and wobble out to the street below.

I had only gone one block when I realized that if  I didn't sit down, something awful would happen. I immediately sank to the curb and leaned heavily over my thighs. What was wrong with me? The traffic light changed twice before I got myself back up and trudged on. I made it across the street before the wave of naseau hit me. I could see a garbage can, but in someone's moment of genius, they had welded on a cover that hovered three inches over the opening. No way would I get my head in there. That left me, sitting on the edge of a flower planter, puking my guts out beside the garbage can.

This story doesn't really have an ending, although if you really want to know, power was restored to my apartment after two weeks, and I am back to eating solid foods again. The point is this: there is an awful lot in our privileged lives that we never recognize until it is taken away. At that point, we can either be grateful we had it in the first place (and will likely have it again), or we can moan, groan, and wallow in our misery. Some moaning and groaning is inevitable, but I hope that the next time something I take for granted is taken away, I can feel even more gratitude when it is returned.