Thursday, February 26, 2009

TV Quick Quips

As much as I hate to admit it, I can be a bit obsessed with my favorite TV shows. Some more than others (The Office, anyone?). Anyway, TV Quick Quips are the result of this obsession. At the end of each week, I hope to post a short comment about the episodes that aired that week. Please be aware that the Quips may contain spoilers.

Quick Quips for February 22-27th

Flight of the Conchords: If you were "Brabra" (lol) who would you choose? Brett or Jermaine?

Big Love: So, Bennie is in love with Margie. Didn't see THAT one coming ;)

LOST: Ben stops John from hanging himself, only to strangle him and make it look like a hanging. Of course! That makes perfect sense.

The Office: Another repeat! You're killing me!

American Idol: I think I'm going to like the new judge.

Friday Night Lights: Poor Landry :(

My Achy Breaky Heart

Today I entered a brand new phase of parenting. I am now the mom of a teen driver! OMG!!!! Part of me is completely terrified, but the part of me that's been driving Katie all over creation for the past 16 years is relieved. I truly believe that the sheer exhaustion (and dare I say it... inconvenience) that comes from having to drive a busy teenager to all of her appointments, practices, meetings, jobs, social events, etc. is the only reason that parents are able to overcome their terror and hand over the car keys. Willingly. I knew I would feel a sense of relief today, but what I didn't expect to feel was a sense of loss and sadness. I've never been the kind of mom who cries when her child goes to school for the first time or when her youngest child is no longer a baby. I've just never felt sentimental or wistful about those types of things. I've always been excited for my kids as they've grown and experienced life. So today I was not expecting to feel so sad and weepy as Katie got in her car after the driving test and drove off to school - on her own. As I got in my car and she got in hers I felt the symbolic cutting of the umbilical cord and it hurt. My baby really is growing up and she is becoming quite independent of me. I can honestly say that today I fully experienced the feeling of my heart walking around outside my body. I tried to comfort myself with the thought that Madeleine is still only 14 and I've got two more years before I have to do this again. Then this afternoon, after her babysitting job was over, Katie pulled up into the driveway (unscathed!), tooted the horn and Madeleine ran outside jumped in the passenger seat and my two "babies" drove off together to go shopping. There goes the rest of my heart!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Song Yet Sung Review, Part 2

Phew! I'm relieved to know that I wasn't the only one who was confused by some plot elements in Song Yet Sung. A couple of other people in the book club were confused as well. Glad to know it's not just me! But the great thing about being in a book club is that we were able to figure it all out together during our discussion. Two (or six) heads really are better than one! Just one more thing I love about book clubs! In addition to clearing up the confusion in the plot, we also decided that quotation marks are absolutely essential!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Book Review: Song Yet Sung by James McBride

The February book selection for the book club I run at George Hail Library is Song Yet Sung by James McBride. I was excited to read this book for a couple of reasons. First, I had read James McBride's memoir, The Color of Water, years ago and was fascinated by the story of his growing up in poverty with a determined and strong-willed mother who managed to raise a large and successful family pretty much on her own. Secondly, Song Yet Sung was one of the books considered for the Reading Across Rhode Island (RARI) selection for 2009 and the synopsis and comments made about the book by the nominating committee intrigued me. It seemed like it would be a great choice for book club. Great topic, well-respected author, good recommendations. Well, the book left me a little flat. The story is about Liz, a slave on the run from a brutal slave trader and her posse. Along the way she encounters several other slaves and free blacks who help her by communicating with her by means of the "code", a secret language used by slaves on the run. The story itself was interesting but I was confused at times by McBride's use of poetic language and the parallel stories that were unfolding simultaneously with Liz's. I had difficulty keeping all of the stories straight and separate in my mind. I wasn't always completely sure who was running from or toward whom at any given moment. Of course, this might just be me. It will be interesting to hear what the other members of the book club think tomorrow night when we meet to discuss the book. I'll let you know.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Quote of the Moment

I've decided to add a new "gadget" to the sidebar of my blog - Quote of the Moment. I'm sure you all noticed it right away! Anyway, for those of you may already think I'm a crazy library lady, you now have irrefutable proof. For the past of couple of years, I have kept a notebook of quotes from the books I've read that have touched me or spoken to me in some way. I thought it might be fun to share them here. Maybe they will speak to you as well. Or maybe you will run away in fear when you realize how crazy I really am :)

Here is a list of all the quotes that have been featured in Quote of the Moment:

In order to succeed, your desire for success should be great than your fear of failure (Bill Cosby, 2/15/12)

At an early age, I had turned to reading as a way for the world to explain itself to me (Pat Conroy, My Reading Life, 5/19/11)

My book list kept lengthening, contrary to my nicely organized plan of attack. (Michael M. Mullaney, The Unforgiving Minute, 3/23/11)

Things happen to us: some of it important, most of it not, and a little of it stays with us to the end. (Michael Zadoorian, The Leisure Seeker, 3/6/11)

I like the idea of time on my own. (Francine Prose, Goldengrove, 2/26/11)

Really smart people absorbed a lot of worldly experience from literature, well beyond what anyone cold acquire in a single human life. (Julia Steiny, The Providence Journal, 2/13/11)

It's okay not to know what you want to be when you grow up. That means you're still growing. (Rita Lussier, The Providence Journal, 1/31/11)

Even beyond the teen years, parents still have to prove to their children that they are not as stupid as they think. (Michael Zadoorian, The Leisure Seeker, 1/21/11)

A year from now you may wish you had started today. (Karen Lamb, 1/6/11)

I have read so many books. (Muriel Barbery, The Elegance of the Hedgehog, 12/31/10)

...a mother's love. There was nothing like it. Nothing. It was made up of all other emotions, fear and dread and anxiety and hope and joy and faith. (Ann Hood, The Red Thread, 11/22/10)

Talking to her girls was always the best prescription for the blues. Except, or course, when those same conversations caused the blues... (Kristin Hannah, Winter Garden, 11/5/10)

Scarlett O'Hara was my kind of gal. She was tough, she was sassy, she knew what she wanted, and she never let anything or anyone get in her way. (Jeannette Walls, Half Broke Horses, posted 9/14/10)

Motherhood requires so much more than devotion, much more than simply love. (Michelle Richmond, A Year of Fog, posted 8/26/10)

From the first time I picked out my own books at the library, I never stopped reading. (Craig M. Mullaney, The Unforgiving Minute: A Soldier's Education, posted 8/13/10)

If only she had ephemeral childhood was, how quickly it vanished, she would have paid more attention. (Ayelet Waldman, Red Hook Road, posted 7/24/10)

We read books, talked books, argued over books and became dearer and dearer to one another. (Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, posted 6/11/10)

Can there be any greater pleasure...than to come across an author one enjoys and then to find they have written not just one book or two, but at least a dozen. (Alan Bennett, The Uncommon Reader, posted 5/31/10)

It's a human failing - this ability to blind ourselves to the terrible things that don't directly affect us. The is how The Holocaust happened - and it's something I think we need to question constantly in ourselves. (Minrose Gwin, The Queen of Palmyra, posted 5/11/10)

When you write things down, he explained, they sometimes take you places you hadn't planned. (Melanie Benjamin, Alice I Have Been, posted 4/18/10)

"Everyone has trials and tribulations... Everyone. There ain't no problem on this great green earth helped by feeling sorry for yourself. Nope, not one." (Robert Hough, The Final Confession of Mabel Stark, posted 3/31/10)

Each of us can find any truth we want within a few written lines. We can perceive prejudice in the most innocent of words if we are looking for it. But why do you want to? Why be angry when you can be serene? (Gail Ciampa, The Providence Journal, posted 3/17/10)

What matters most is how you live your life, not what you have to show for it. (Jenny Sanford, as quoted in People magazine, posted 3/14/10)

Novels taught me that history is dramatic. (Laura Amy Schlitz, author of Good Masters! Sweet Ladies! Voice from a Medieval Village, posted 2/22/10)

Commitment isn't just a sign of love; it's a cause of love. (Daniel Gilbert, author of Stumbling on Happiness, posted 2/15/10)

To achieve anything you must first have ambition and then talent, knowledge, and finally the opportunity. (Carlos Ruiz Zafon, The Angel's Game, posted 1/30/10).

By their mid-forties, women know they're at a crossroads. They are still holding on to their younger selves, but they can also see their older selves pretty clearly. (Jeffrey Zaslow, The Girls from Ames, posted 1/11/10)

...there's no need to be stressed out by a self-imposed schedule. You just change it is all. (Marie, The Boston Bibliophile, posted 12/28/09)

We spend more than, when we feel less than. (Suze Orman, posted 12/2/09)

What he needed was internal calm uninterrupted by the outside world. (Yoko Ogawa, The Housekeeper and the Professor, posted 11/22/09)

...books have a soul, the soul of the person who wrote them and of those who read them and dream about them. (Carlos Ruiz Zafon, The Angel's Game, posted 11/8/09)

I keep having the feeling that if I had more time I would have become a good mother. (Isla Morley, Come Sunday, posted 10/23/09)

I don't think you can give credit to other people for things going right in your life, any more than you can blame them for when they go wrong. (Isla Morley, Come Sunday, posted 10/14/09)

His father had said once that the hardest choices in life aren't between what's right and what's wrong but between what's right and what's best. (Jamie Ford, Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, posted 10/5/09)

She'll explain how important it is to have someone believe in you, how important it is to nourish dreams, especially your own. (Elizabeth Berg, Home Safe, posted 9/18/09)

...I think a life absent of inquiry is not a life worth living. (Elizabeth Berg, Home Safe, posted 9/10/09)

Reading good books ruins you for enjoying bad books. (Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, posted 8/20/09)

...she understood the specific kind of appreciation that comes to a person witnessing a thing of beauty alone, how the spectacle seems to sit whole inside the soul, undiminished by conversation, by any attempt at translation or persuasion. (Elizabeth Berg, Home Safe, posted 8/11/09)

She reminds herself of the list of Cs, her personal laundry list for self-improvement: Don't control, don't criticize, don't complain. (Elizabeth Berg, Home Safe, posted 8/2/09)

We may, in fact, divide our fellow-creatures into two branches - those who read books and those who do not. (Paul Collins, Sixpence House: Lost in a Town of Books, posted 7/25/09)

When someone knows your deepest self and still loves you, are you not a lucky man? (Richard Russo, Bridge of Sighs, posted 7/1/09)

In other words, if no money is ever enough, why bother being preoccupied with trying to gather more of it? Work with what you have. (Laurie Abraham, The Secret Currency of Love, posted 6/23/09)

The books we retain and those we discard, those we read as well as those we decide not to, all say something about who we are. (Timothy Ryback, as quoted in the Providence Journal, posted 6/14/09)

I keep telling my myself how important it is to remember the difference between a tragedy and an inconvenience. (Francine Prose, Goldengrove, posted 6/8/09)

...she believed in the endless, bountiful possibilities of life, in redemption, in affirmation, in hope as a moral obligation. (Thrity Umrigar, The Weight of Heaven, posted 6/2/09)

That is what it is to love someone: to give whatever you can while taking what you must. (Hillary Jordan, Mudbound, posted 5/28/09)

These days it's ofd-fashioned, but I also believe in the idea of self-sufficiency, the individual's responsiblity for her own happiness. (Patricia Gaffney, The Saving Graces, posted 5/22/09)

The urge is always with me to retouch yesterday's canvas with today's paintbrush and cover the things that fill me with regret... (Andrew Davidson, The Gargoyle, posted 5/17/09)

[Books] are gifts to the world, just waiting to be opened and passed on to another generation. (Ben Erickson, A Parting Gift, posted 5/11/09)

One lesson that was starting to make sense to me was that having a plan, even if it's a meager plan, is useful and gets you through. (Isabel Gillies, Happens Every Day, posted 5/4/09)

My failures were far too many ... and my successes far too few. I can say only that I did my best. (Wally Lamb, The Hour I First Believed, posted 4/30/09)

That's the interesting thing about books; they let you catch a glimpse of the world through someone else's eyes. (Ben Erickson, A Parting Gift, posted 4/25/09) is possible to recover from catastrophic loss without ever getting over it. (John Burnham Schwartz, The Commoner, (posted 4/21/09)

Books can pluck you out of your everyday experiences and carry you somewhere far away. (Ben Erickson, A Parting Gift, posted 4/16/09)

Find your place. Be happy with what you have. Treat everyone well. Live a good life. It isn't about material things; it's about love. And you can never anticipate love. (Vicki Myron, Dewey: The Small-Town Library Cat Who Touched the World, posted 4/12/09)

We're basically looking for evidence in support of conclusions we've already arrived at regarding the world and our place in it. (Richard Russo, Bridge of Sighs, posted 4/9/09)

This was perhaps what it was like to mother anyone...far away or close. You could only try your best, then wait to see if what you sent was needed or even wanted. If it wasn't then you packed a new box, and tried again. (Laura Moriarty, The Rest of Her Life, posted 4/8/09)

...she had the sensation that she had been seen. And she had not even known she'd felt invisible. (Elizabeth Strout, Olive Kitteridge, posted 4/6/09)

And I realized that books get their value from the way they coexist with other books a person owns, and that when they lose their context, they lose their meaning. (Anne Fadiman, Ex Libris, posted 4/3/09)

I can only hope that my children have learned to build their lives on a sturdier foundation, one fortified by self-reliance, hard work, independent thinking, personal responsibility and pride in accomplishment. (Leslie Bennetts, The Secret Currency of Love, posted 4/2/09)

...her love of history, books and learning had become as much a part of her as her own soul. (Donna Russo Morin, The Courtier's Secret, posted 3/26/09)

Fear is good. In the right degree it prevents us from making fools of ourselves. But in the wrong measure it prevents us from fully living. (Alan Brennert, Moloka'i, posted 3/19/09)

Everything that has happened to you has made you what you are today. There is no shame in that, only pride. (Elizabeth Inness-Brown, Burning Marguerite, posted 3/14/09)

Tell her happiness is just practice... If only she acted happy, she would be happy. (Nancy Horan, Loving Frank, posted 3/7/09)

Life was what happened when all the what-ifs didn't, when what you dreamed or hoped or - in this case - feared might come to pass passed by instead. (Jodi Picoult, Nineteen Minutes, posted 2/26/09)

To be irresponsible, the one thing she was never allowed, never allowed herself to be, completely irresponsible. (Emily Listfield, Waiting to Surface, posted 2/25/09)

We are always getting ready to live, but never living. (Ralph Waldo Emerson, posted 2/24/09)

Children can be happy when their parents are miserable. But a parent is never happier than her unhappiest child. (Laura Lipman, What the Dead Know, posted 2/23/09)

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Book Review: The Hour I First Believed by Wally Lamb

All you book lovers may have noticed that I updated the "Books I'm Currently Reading" list. Today I finished The Hour I First Believed by Wally Lamb and I thought I'd jot down my thoughts for those of you who might be thinking about reading it. I've been reluctant to give my views of books I haven't loved for fear of discouraging people from reading books that they may have been looking forward to reading. But, I have decided to give my honest opinion of the books I've read with the hope that my opinion will not sway someone away from a book that they already had a strong desire to read.

Like thousands of other Wally Lamb fans I had been waiting with bated breath for years for his next book. And I was so excited to finally be reading it (even though it's a daunting 723 pages). The Hour I First Believed is the story of Caelum Quick a teacher at Columbine High School and his wife, Maureen, who is the school nurse there. Maureen is in the library on the day of the shooting and is able to hide from the two teenage assassins. Caelum, on the other hand, is out of town on the day of shooting attending to the funeral details of his aunt in New Hampshire. The story centers around how this tragic and terrifying event effects Maureen and her life with Caelum. At least that is what the first 1/3 of the book is about. And it is good. Very good. It's after that that the author loses me. His writing is still fantastic, but the book begins to feel a bit like a Forest Gump-type story of how Caelum is touched by all the tragedies between Columbine and the Iraqi War (9/11, Hurricane Katrina, Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib). And of top of all that the author throws in the 150 year history of Caelum's family through the correspondence of his great-great-grandmother, which he just happens to find in his dead aunt's house in NH. Oh, and he ends up with renters who escaped Katrina, one of which just happens to be getting a PhD in Women's Studies and is more than interested in reading through these letters and turning them into a PhD thesis, which is published (and printed within the confines of the book). A bit too neat and contrived for me. That being said, the story was still engaging enough that I read the whole book - including the Afterword, Author's Notes and Acknowledgements. Overall, I thought the book was good, but not great. It's not a book I would recommended as one everyone absolutely should read, but neither is it one I would discourage someone from reading. If you're a Wally Lamb fan and have been looking forward to it, I don't think you'll regret taking the time to read it.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Seen Any Good Movies Lately?

Ever notice how there are either a million movies you want to see or none at all? Usually when I have the time to go to the movies there is nothing I want to see. Of course since there is currently a long list of movies I want to see, I either can't find the time or someone to go with. Well, I finally decided to take matters into my own hands and I went to the movies yesterday afternoon and again today (by myself)! I know, I'm really living on the edge, right? Anyway yesterday I finally saw Revolutionary Road, which was the movie I most wanted to see. The whole idea of "the road not taken" really intrigues me. I thought the movie was pretty good. A bit melodramatic. I came away feeling as though it's important not to be afraid to make changes in your life if it will make you happy. No one should be made to feel as though they need to live their lives in some way that has been prescribed by society or by someone else's expectations. At the very least, we should all make sure that there is some small measure of joy in our lives, each and every day.

*Spoiler alert for the movie Doubt*

Today I saw Doubt. First, I must say, that Meryl Streep is an absolutely amazing actress. She really is phenomenal. But, the movie was frustrating for me and my Type A personality. I can not believe that they left the whole question unanswered in the end. Are you kidding me?! Yeah, I get it, the title is Doubt, but come on! This is really one movie that needs to be seen with a group of people so that you can have a "movie discussion" afterward. I felt as though I had read a really good book with an ambiguous ending and I needed my book club to sit down with me and hash it all out. So much for being independent and taking matters into my own hands. Oh well. I'm still glad I got to see the movie. If anyone has seen it, I'd love to talk it over with you....

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

You Heard it Here First

AHA!! Just this minute on The Today Show, Ann Curry and Matt Lauer were discussing the "Octupulet Case" and Matt Lauer made mention of the the fact that Nadya Suleman bears a strong resemblance to Angelina Jolie!!!!! They even posted side by side pictures of the two women. I wonder if they will explore this resemblance any further? I wonder, too, if this is a natural or "enhanced" resemblance?

Monday, February 9, 2009

Weekend Update

Well, I'm happy to report that my weekend improved dramatically from watching movies while lurking in doorways! On Saturday night, Geoff and I spent a grown up night out with another couple. We went out for a wonderful dinner at Geoff's favorite restaurant - Nick's (where he eats lunch or dinner several times a week!) and to the Festival Ballet's performance of A Thousand & One Nights. Now, I know going to the Ballet might not seem to register much higher on the Lame-o-meter than how I spent Friday night, but I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed the show. The costumes were incredibly beautiful, the sets were elaborate and the choreography was more than impressive. I could not get over how athletic and difficult the dances were. The principal dancers were all incredibly talented and never failed to amaze me with the speed and duration of their turns, the height of their leaps and the death-defying nature of their lifts. If we hadn't had a free ticket I doubt very much that we would ever had attended a ballet (except maybe The Nutcracker). But, I will definitely consider it in the future. In a word, it was exhilarating!

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Random Ramblings

Angelina Jolie Wannabe?

No, not me. Nadya Suleman, the California mom of octuplets who already has six kids under the age of 8. A friend (Hi, Vicki) asked me the other day what I thought about this whole situation. First, I think she's nuts! And I think it's (possibly) unethical of the fertility clinic to allow her to do this. Interestingly enough, yesterday the Today show aired a snippet of an interview between Suleman and Ann Curry. My first reaction was that this woman thinks she's Angelina Jolie. She has obviously enhanced lips that look just like Jolie's. Her hair is the same long, slightly wavy style (though darker) and she has the same breathy, soft voice. And to hear her talk about her children and children in general she sounds just like Jolie. I wonder if deep down, that's what this is about. The full interview with Ann Curry will be aired on Monday. I'm curious to watch and see if my theory is supported. If anyone else watches it, I'd be curious to hear what you think.

Secret Life of the American Teen('s Parents)

Any of you parents of teens have kids who watch this show? Madeleine watches it and as you can imagine it's horrifying. Anyway, last night Katie had a friend over for pizza and a movie and I soon realized that Geoff and I have to have a secret life of our own. No, it's not what you think. Nothing that interesting. Basically, we have to pretend we don't exist. Before we got a new TV in the family room the girls would hang out in the basement when their friends came over and Geoff and I would just obliviously go about our lives. Well, last night it became clear that Katie wished we would just disappear. Geoff and I were eating dinner in the kitchen and Katie and her friend had pizza in the family room. When the pizza arrived I asked Katie what she wanted to drink. Without her friend seeing her she made a face at me and mouthed "mom" with a look of horror on her face. It was clear she wanted to me GO AWAY. OK, OK, I'll just keep quiet. As Geoff and I ate dinner Katie started the movie - Love Story. Geoff and I both like this movie and we started listening from the kitchen as it played. When we finished dinner we found ourselves standing in the kitchen and watching it - in secret. We knew we couldn't possibly go in the family room and join Katie and her friend so we very quietly pulled two kitchen chairs up to the doorway between the kitchen and family room (but out of view of Katie and her friend) and watched the movie from the kitchen!!! How ridiculous is that?! Finally, we realized how ridiculous we were and we went upstairs to watch our own TV. So there! Of course, as soon as I laid down on the bed I fell asleep. So, that's the exciting Secret Life of the this American Teen's Parents. To quote Madeleine, "Mom, you are so lame". I'm begining to think she's right.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

To Blog or Not to Blog?

Ok, so I've taken a giant leap forward and created a Blog! Can you believe it? I'm not exactly sure where I'm going with this, but it's something I've been thinking about for a while so... ta da! Since I love to read, I thought one thing I might do here is write my thoughts about the books I'm reading. Today I finished a really great book called The Blue Cotton Gown: A Midwife's Memoir by Patricia Harman. It is the memoir of a nurse-midwife practicing in West Virginia. In it she tells the stories of her patients and her own story of financial struggle trying to keep her practice afloat. The stories she shares provide a very personal look at each woman's life, loves and struggles. She expresses the worries, pain and joy of motherhood especially well and I found myself empathizing with many of the women portrayed. Patricia Harmon herself is a warm, caring and nurturing practitioner. The kind of medical professional we all search for and hope to find. A great read. I recommend it!

Monday, February 2, 2009

It's All About Me

Welcome to Pam's Perspective. My name is Pam and I am a 48 year old wife and mother of two teenage daughters - one in HS and one in college. For the most part I am a SAHM, but I do work part-time at a small public library as an Assistant Librarian, which I love. In addition to all the "regular" library duties, I run a book club for adults, write book reviews for our website/patrons and order all the media for the library. Outside of work, I'm in a personal book club, I play Mah Jong, I attend as many plays as time and my budget allow and I also serve on the nominating committee for Reading Across Rhode Island. All of that keeps me pretty busy.

When I first decided to start a blog, I wasn't really sure where I would be going with it. I figured I would translate my love of reading and books into some book reviews and recommendations. And I have done that, but I've also started blogging about my life in general. For the most part, Pam's Perspective is just that - my perspective of what's happening in my life; what I'm reading, watching, doing and hearing about. Hopefully, you'll find something here that you can relate to.

Thanks for stopping by and I hope you'll visit again.


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