Sunday, November 18, 2012

Is PMS a Hoax?

Ever follow a link of a link of a link in an interesting story? I did today. I started at Nursing Clio and ended up at an article that cites a recent study by the University of Toronto that found PMS may not be related to any lady mood swings.

As a teenager, I was convinced that I became actually depressed a week or two before my period, a condition called PMDD. Looking back, I think maybe I was just in a mild depression during my teens and into my last year of college, and I think the science is a bit shaky on PMDD being an actual thing or not.

I am in the camp that believes that there is a whole lot more attributed to PMS than there should be. I think that some women use it as an excuse for bad behavior, and men often use it to write off women's valid concerns/feelings as crazy and illogical.

Food for thought on a Sunday. What do you think? 

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Review: Bender: New and Selected Poems

Bender: New and Selected Poems
Bender: New and Selected Poems by Dean Young

My rating: 1 of 5 stars

I rarely give one stars, and maybe I should've given these poems more of a chance, but ugh.

Let me explain: I like to read my baby poetry while I nurse her; relaxing to her, relaxing to me. I saw this book in my local library's featured new books and picked it up, seemed promising. I read five or six of the gazillion poems. Thinking maybe things got better towards the middle, I randomly flipped to a page and started reading. My husband walked in and literally though I was stringing random words together. He flipped to another page, had me read that, and by the end we were in hysterics, it was so bad.

Maybe this guy is genius and it's just not my kind of poetry, and maybe it's meant to be digested slowly. In any case, I'd much rather read Anne Carson any day.

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Thursday, November 15, 2012

On a Thursday Night

I can't believe it's been over a month since I've written, especially when I used to make a point of posting daily. But you don't really want to hear about that, and I really don't want to write about it.

Today Ian and I hired someone to watch Felicity for 10+ hours a week, at least until the end of the semester. My work has been spotty at best (seems to be a theme), but I'm happy to report I've actually started writing (yay!). It's been a long time of trudging through books and taking a ridiculous amount of notes. Ian, in his wisdom, sat me down a couple of weeks ago and told me that I'm taking too many notes and spending way too much time in the research phase, not enough time writing. He was right, of course.

During Hurricane Sandy
So there's that. I'm excited to be making forward progress.

Other than the thesis/research, we've had a couple of things happen. Of course, Hurricane Sandy happened. It didn't seem like much as the storm was actually taking place, and we were all bundled in the apartment, safe and warm. We even went and took a picture outside, and this was during the worst storm surge.  It was only until we started looking online the next day, watching news reports and seeing pictures, that we really understood the horrific nature of the storm.

We were impacted in three ways from the storm.

First, my mom, who was supposed to be visiting for four days, had an extended visit of ten days. Thankfully we all have a wonderful relationship. Ian and I have offered to let her move in with us multiple times(she can sleep on the pull-out couch in the living room!), but she never takes us up on the offer...

Second, there was some local damage in Riverside Park, as you can see in the picture below. Mom and I went on a walk the day after and took some pictures - what was most striking were all of the leaves on the ground. So many colors and textures, all mixed together. The park staff has done an amazing job cleaning up, although much of this downed tree is still there, weeks later.

Third, the subways were, of course, closed for several days, and then re-opened with limited service. This wasn't too big of a deal for us as we don't depend on the MTA on a regular basis to get where we need to go. but it was a reminder that our family was priveleged and lucky to have suffered so little, while millions were without power for days (many over a week), clean water, or cell phone service.

Save the storm, my mom's visit was an incredible amount of fun. We did some jigsaw puzzles (I'm not embarrassed to say that I do love a good puzzle), made some wonderful cupcakes (which I'll blog about on Plant Matters in the next day or two), spent lots of time playing with Felicity, cooked, drank lots of tea, and played some Scrabble and Bananagrams. My mom also took some great photos of Felicity (thank you Mom!), which of course I feel obligated to share with anyone who will look. I mean, she's adorable, isn't she?

Below are some of my favorites.

 I can't believe small Flick-a-Dee is almost one! Here she is, in all of her splendor, on the once-white chaise in our living room, dressed of course in some very cute clothes. This child may only speak in raspberries, but she will be dressed well while doing so!

Felicity was dressed a monarch butterfly for her first Halloween. Apparently one of Mitt Romney's grandchildren also wore the same costume, or so I'm told. 

The last two pictures are of us looking at the dog run in Riverside Park the day after Hurricane Sandy. Felicity is incessantly fond of looking at dogs, and talking about/to dogs. And this is what I mean about the crazy leaves. It's a small detail, but it is probably what I will remember most about Hurricane Sandy, how the green leaves looked on the ground next to the brown, red, and gold leaves, and what it felt like trying to walk through the park, pushing a stroller after the storm.

Review: Broken Harbor

Broken Harbor
Broken Harbor by Tana French

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I don't have a lot to say, so I'll make it brief:

Tana French is an amazing author.
I couldn't put this book down.
Most enjoyable thing I've read since The Hunger Games series.

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Review: Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death, And Hope In A Mumbai Undercity

Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death, And Hope In A Mumbai Undercity
Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death, And Hope In A Mumbai Undercity by Katherine Boo

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I wasn't terribly excited when my book club chose Behind the Beautiful Forevers and, truth be told, I hated the first two-thirds of it. I felt that Boo was being dishonest - it read too much like fiction to be real - how could one woman account for so much happening at the same time, report what multiple peoples' thoughts were at one moment?

My journalist neighbor and friend gently rebuffed me in our building's laundry room as being a bit ungracious. She gave me some background on Katherine Boo, and what actually went into writing the book. I decided to keep reading it and gave her another chance. That said, when picking this up (and you should!), read the afterward first. It will enhance your reading experience, I promise!

This is not an enjoyable read. It is depressing and will make you feel terrible. Reading it reminded me of going on "missions trips" to Mexico in the junior high - you see and hear such terrible things, make absolutely no difference in the lives of people you are supposed to be helping, and the whole experience makes you incessantly grateful for what you have that for a week or two that you stumble around, not being bothered by minor inconveniences that would normally irritate, happy to have the possibility of being happy.

The very fact that slums still exist is awful, and Behind the Beautiful Forevers truly takes it to another level. Boo spent years with her subjects. The accounts of squalor are astounding, and even more troubling is the complete and absolute corruption in India. Reading about this corruption made me feel hopeless; what can possibly be done?

This is journalism at its best, raw and true and awful. I wish there had been some analysis at the end, perhaps some recommendations for further research or reading.

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Review: The Marriage Plot

The Marriage Plot
The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

It feels strange to only give The Marriage Plot three stars - I had a difficult time putting it down, especially the last half, which I finished in the last 24 hours. It was a good read, but I didn't actually enjoy the story itself.

Eugenides is a wonderful writer. I have yet to read The Virgin Suicides, but I recall Middlesex with fondness. Eugenides has a particular way of planting the reader in an environment with his subjects, letting the reader feel and think with his characters. His books are carefully and thoughtfully plotted. Yet The Marriage Plot was too raw, too vivid, too personal, and too intense. The characters were deeply unlikeable and did not develop as much as they could have, should have. It felt like I was watching three fish splash around each other in a too-small bucket while the water slowly drained out, and for what purpose?

I suppose this book is timely, what with the current recession and this generation's (my generation's) lack of direction and perceived ability to successfully and intentionally work hard. There is real anguish here - that even if we do our very best, it may not, will not bring us what we want, perhaps what we need.

My husband also made a humorous point. After over-exposure to my current obsession with the Gilmore Girls, he said he couldn't help but see and hear Phyllida and Alton as Emily and Richard Gilmore. Of course once he told me though, I did the same.

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