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Well well well.  If there is one thing that can shake me out of my blogging snooze, maybe it is the tried and true End of the Year meme.  I am inspired enough to continue the tradition so – Hello!  Sorry for the prolonged absence.  Let’s see if 2011 allows for a little more blogging time. 

 

Without further ado:

 

1. What did you do in 2010 that you’d never done before?

Is it too early in the meme to mention buying a house?  I bought a house.

 

2. Did you keep your new years’ resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

I once made a New Year’s resolution to not worry about New Year’s resolutions.  Yeah.  I kept that one. 

 

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?

Yes.

 

4. Did anyone close to you die?

Define “close.”  Close enough to go to his funeral?  Yes.  Drat.  I came very close to having ONE year with no funerals. 

 

5. What countries did you visit?

U.S.A.

6. What would you like to have in 2011 that you lacked in 2010?

A very warm pair of slippers.  I got a pair for Christmas but they need to be exchanged for a larger size.  California is COLD!

 

7. What dates from 2010 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?

I don’t do numbers.  Numbers do not etch themselves upon my memory.

 

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

I think getting three different job offers was fairly reassuring. 

 

9. What was your biggest failure?

No big failures.  Just some disappointments.  Like my crappy poker stats at the end of the year.  *sigh* I would like to be in the top 25% out of almost 2 million players.  Which is still dismal compared to my 96% rating out of over one million players a couple of years ago.  But oh well.  72% this year.  Nothing I can do about it now. Stupid full-time job getting in the way of my poker playing.  *grumble*

 

Also, I and the medical establishment in Maui failed completely to alleviate any of my chronic issues this year.  Medical establishment – you suck (except maybe for that rather handsome ENT doc who actually figured one thing out).

 

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?

No major illness, but yes indeedy – more body parts broke down again this year.  Arthritis diagnosed.  Inflamed larynx (I have pictures!).  Undiagnosed hip issue. Potentially uncooperative reproductive system.   It’s the joy of aging, folks.

 

11. What was the best thing you bought?

That would be the aforementioned HOUSE.

 

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?

I gotta give a shout-out to my former co-workers this year.  I spent almost six months at my old workplace this year before I left again for another job.  The office has been a sinking ship and it’s been a weekly drama of people leaving, both voluntarily and involuntarily.  It’s been stressful, sad, frustrating, and just downright wrong to see a once very-highly-regarded office of professionals fade away.  But through it all, most of these folks have been supportive of each other while maintaining a (sometimes gallows-like) sense of humor. 

 

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?

Some people at the old company who do not warrant celebration.   

 

14. Where did most of your money go?

See #s 1 & 11.

 

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?

Moving back to California.  Hello family and friends.  We’re baaaack!!!!

 

16. What song will always remind you of 2010?

Hmmm….need to think about that a bit.

 

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:

1. Happier or sadder?  About the same, I think. 

 

2. Thinner or fatter?  Congrats to me.  This is one year I can say, without a doubt – fatter. 

Wait. 

No congrats to me.  Frak.

3. Richer or poorer?  About a hundred times poorer.  In cash. 

 

18. What do you wish you’d done more of?

Surfing.

 

19. What do you wish you’d done less of?

Working. 

 

20. How will you be spending Christmas/Hanukkah?

Sweetie and I spent it with family in the various places that our families are located.

 

21. How many one-night stands?

None.  We sold most of our furniture in Maui. 

 

22. What was your favorite TV program?

Leverage

AND – I rediscovered The Young Riders!  Yup.  That’s right – 1980s television goodness right there.

 

 

 

23. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?

No hate in the 808 (or 916) brah. 

 

24. What was the best book you read?

Hmmm……the latest releases of the Fables trade paperbacks.  And, I have to say – I’m almost done with Atlas Shrugged and I’m glad I (almost) read it.  That’s probably a whole other blog.  

Fables.png

 

25. What was your greatest musical discovery?

Can I just change this to musical moments?  This year, I said good-bye to two of my all-time favorite bands, as both declared they are retiring. Sweetie just got me A-ha’s final album.  And Big Sis and I saw Scorpions live in concert.  Farewell, dear dudes.  That’s a lotta music between them (yes, A-ha produced more than one song in the 1980s….sheesh).

 

26. What did you want and get?

More time with family and friends.  A job with health insurance.  A house.

 

27. What was your favorite film of this year?

Toy Story 3

 

28. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?

I was, and still am today, 39.  Spent it with family and my former roomie and her family at mom’s house where she/we hosted a Chinese-fondue/hot pot dinner of awesomeness and yum.

 

29. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?

Winning a few more poker games to bring my stats up.

 

30. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2010?

Oh-my-lord-I-do-not-have-a-proper-wardrobe-for-cold-weather-ACKKKKKKK!

 

31. What kept you sane?

Who you callin’ “sane” Willis?

 

32. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?

I do not.

 

33. What political issue stirred you the most?

The on-going legal sideshow surrounding Prop 8 here in California.  Never should have passed in the first place, and this whole debacle is embarrassing.  The midterm elections were also kind of amusing for the amount of people who honestly think anyone seeking higher office in this country is capable of steering Congress in some productive direction.  Oh, and Christine O’Donnell, for comedic relief. 

 

34. Who did you miss?

 A-ha.  I missed seeing them in concert.  Never did get to see them.  Boo hoo. 

 

35. Who was the best new person you met?

Well, it was significant that I met the five principals of the firm that I am now working for.  Good group of folks.

 

36. Did you fall in love in 2010?

All the time.

 

36. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2010:

There’s always a better house somewhere down the road. 

 

37.  Quote a song lyric that sums up your year:

 

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The Tao of Inner Peace…

…is one of the books I am currently reading from my Read Your Own Book 2010 Challenge.  I am reading it to distract me from “The Inner Reaches of Outer Space” by Joseph Campbell which is going very very slowly.  I’ve just finished “Saving Fish from Drowning” and three back issues of Time magazine while trying to get away from the dry Campbell book. 

Anyway, like the Campbell book, “The Tao of Inner Peace” by Diane Dreher is a bit dated now – having been written in 1990 and updated in 2000.  It’s got a bunch of self-affirmation in general mumbo jumbo, of the type much parodied by Al Franken’s Stuart Smalley on Saturday Night Live many years ago.

But, all snickering aside, I liked the little line I just read and thought I would share it:

The Tao of Openness

MItch Saunders, marriage and family counselor in Santa Clara, California sees honest relationships as a great way to develop self-acceptance.  The more we share our feelings with others and find they still accept us, the more our self-acceptance grows.  Each moment of openness wears down our defensive walls.

I guess the key there is “and find they still accept us.”  I hope we all have people in our lives who help us increase our levels of self-acceptance.  I do.  And for them, for you, I am thankful.

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Books, Part 2: The List

ok, I’ve really warmed to the idea of this Read Your Own Books challenge.  I’m not sure if I need to state my number and the books I want to read ahead of time.  But I was interested in finding out which books on my bookshelves have been gathering dust for too long.  So, I took a short inventory before I left home.  I am starting with a very modest goal of 21 books.  Partly because it’s been so hard for me to finish any book these days and partly because I know there will be other books that will pop up this year to distract me.  I’m not counting the books I have started and would love to finish – the half-dozen books I currently have sitting on  my bedside table in Maui and the three books I’ve started at my Mom’s house in California.  Technically I have already read part of them so they don’t count. 

Soooooooo, this is the list I have so far.  A mix of fiction and non-fiction.  I don’t know what order I will read them – I suppose I will just pick up whatever book inspires me on any particular day.  I may read 5 of them at once.  I may read them one at a time.  But the goal here is to FINISH them. 

Blogging Heroes, Interviews with 30 of the Word’s Top Bloggers, by Michael A. Bank

 The Venetian’s Wife, by Nick Bantock

 Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens, by J.M. Barrie

 The Ninemile Wolves, by Rick Bass

 The Inner Reaches of Outer Space, Metaphor as Myth and as Religion, by Joseph Campbell

 One Day on Beetle Rock, by Sally Carrighar

 Bones of the Master, A Journey to Secret Mongolia, by George Crane

 Notes From Underground, by Fyodor Dostoyevsky

 The Tao of Inner Peace, by Diane Dreher

 Owen’s Marshmallow Chick, by Kevin Henkes (because I actually never read it and the guidelines don’t have a minimum number or words per book)

 Small Wonder, Essays, by Barbara Kingsolver

 The Secrets of Pistoulet, by Jana Kolpen [DONE]

 Something Wonderful, by Judith McNaught

 The Book of General Ignorance, Everything you Think you Know is Wrong, by John Lloyd and John Mitchinson

Red Dwarf, Better Than Life, by Grant Naylor

The Calling of Emily Evans, by Janette Oke

The Wolf and the Raven, by Diana L. Paxson

The Little Prince, by Antoine de Saint-Exupery  (because no, I didn’t actually read it when some guy I dated a couple of times sent it to me)

Quicksilver, by Neal Stephenson

 Fathers and Sons, by Ivan Turgenev

 The Invisible Man, by H. G. Wells

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Book, books, books

I want to do more reading in 2010.

By the way, did you realize that it is almost 2010!?!

Seriously, that fact is only starting to sink in with me.  I’ve blogged before about how slowly my brain makes connections sometimes. I knew that the year 2009 is about to end.  I know that 10 comes after 9.  Somewhere along the way I had the thought that 2010 sounds significant.  But then I started reading blogs where people are talking about 2010 coming up and – Blam!  I made the connection.  2010 will be here soon.  (which also means we are close to the Winter Olympics.  Wheeee!)

Anyway (did I also mention it’s easy to distract me?) I want to read more books in 2010.  I tend to read more than one book at a time.  In the last few years I’ve been reading mostly non-fiction.  My Mind and Life series books.  Poker strategy.  Quantum physics.  Poker tournament strategy.   You know – the easy stuff to read.

I haven’t been reading many fiction books.  And the sad thing is – I haven’t been finishing that many books at all.  But after Lavender sent me a book that completely absorbed my brain, I remembered how nice it is to completely lose myself in a good book.  To want to read only one book at a time and to want to read it ALL the time.  To stay up until the wee hours of the morning, not tossing and turning and fretting because I *can’t* fall asleep but pushing myself to read just a couple more pages because I don’t *want* to fall asleep.  I devoured a book that Sweetie gave me (I think for my birthday this year).  Recently, I picked up my copy of Amy Tan’s Saving Fish from Drowning and I am delighted to be back in that zone.  This may be my favorite Amy Tan book I’ve read.  And I think I’ve read most of them.

I don’t know when I lost that addiction to books I had in my younger years.  Maybe when I moved away from my book club group – or maybe when we slowly disbanded.  I don’t remember which happened first.  Maybe when I started spending much of my free time in front of a computer.

So!  I’m on the hunt for some book challenges.  I like the idea of setting some goals for myself.  Anyone have any ideas?  I’ve found one idea that I really like – Read Your Own Books Challenge 2010.  The challenge is simple – pick a number of books, read them next year, and they have to be from your own collection (if I decide to go with this one, I’ll post another blog about it).  This challenge idea is great for me because #1) I have many books on my shelves I have not read yet.  I can happily say I’ve read most of my books, but you know how it goes.  Oh! – That looks like a good book and Oh! That looks like a good book and if you buy two and read one and repeat, you suddenly have stacks of unread books piling up.  #2) Money is tight/low/non-existent and if I want to read more books this year, it’s better that I rustle up something I already have then run out and buy something.  Granted, you can buy books very cheaply – from used bookstores, eBay, and various other places.  But – free is best.  And I already know I want to read the books I have.  I mean, I bought them didn’t I?  Most of them.  Some are gifts.  Gifts from friends who know me well enough to know what I want to read.

So!  I’m going to peruse my collection and see what I can find.  I’m trying to decide on a number – something challenging but not too overwhelming.

I’m going to keep looking around for other book challenges.  And possible new books to read.  Again – I’m open to suggestions.  One of the things I loved about my old book club was the variety of new books I was introduced to.  The group was started at my old workplace and many people came and left the group over the years.  We all had different favorite genres and many of us managed to sneak something other than current fiction into the mix.  I snuck in some Neil Gaiman.  Our biologist snuck in an awesome book about the coelacanth.   We read some great non-fiction.   And even some very good current fiction that I probably would not have picked out on my own.

So…….books and challenges.  Challenges and books.  2010.  Sounds good to me.  What do you think?

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You can join this week’s Friday Five over HERE.

This week, the question is – Name five favorite books and why they are your favorite.

Five?  Just five!?  With so many good books out in the world?  ok,  I will just throw some out there.

1.  Speaker for the Dead by Orson Scott Card.

Probably my favorite fiction book.  The second book in Card’s four-book Ender’s Game series.  It blew my mind when I read it.  Here is what I wrote in my review:

Amazing concept. Complex characters. It says something about the preconceived notions of humans. It speaks about our prejudices. It’s an anthropological mystery. It’s science fiction. It is human drama.

The idea of a real, live Speaker for the Dead has popped up all over the world. Following Orson Scott’s Card’s concept of speaking a person’s life after death – in sometimes harsh and truthful terms – has caught on with many people and people have written to Card to tell him how they served as someone’s Speaker during a funeral, or memorial. Pretty powerful concept. And none better to perform such a task than Ender Wiggen. The things he discovers on the planet where he goes to speak is beyond mind-blowing. Not in sci-fi technology- but in the ways and whys different species treat each other.

2. Gentle Bridges: Conversations with the Dalai Lama on the Sciences of Mind, Edited by Jeremy W. Hayward and  Francisco J. Varela.

The book that introduced me to the Mind and Life Institute and all the great books that come out of these meetings between scientists and the Dalai Lama.  Good stuff.  I was so happy to hear there were a whole series of books on a range of topics – from destructive emotions, to constructive emotions, to sleeping and dreaming.  Good information from the scientific experts.  And great insight from the Dalai Lama.

3.  Horton Hears a Who, by Dr. Seuss
Because a person’s a person, no matter how small.

4.  Sandman by Neil Gaiman
Can I count a whole comic book series as a book?  Y’all know how much I love Neil Gaiman.  I’ve read a lot of his books.  But nothing compares to the characters and storylines in the comic book that introduced me to Gaiman.  Sandman and his siblings (Destiny, Death, Destruction, Desire, Despair, and Delirium) are richly written personifications of their respective realms.  The interweaving of historic and mythical figures into their stories has generated a ton of additional reading for me.  Pretty awesome.
5.  Ashes in the Wind, by Kathleen Woodiwiss

Because sometimes I just need to sit back with some chocolate and a good bodice buster.

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cover7

You can join in on Friday Fill-ins overe HERE.

1. When will _people be able to debate issues without launching person attacks__?

2. _Warped Passages by Lisa Randall_was the last good book I read (ok – almost done reading).

3. Everything has its beauty but  _my father used to say that all babies are ugly____.

4. _Spaghetti with T’s yummy rigatoni sauce_ is what I had for dinner.

5. I’d like your _comments on this blog____.

6. _Right here__ is where I want to be right now.

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I’m looking forward to _relaxing with Sweetie_, tomorrow my plans include _working_ and Sunday, I want to _take a long walk!

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