Sunday, February 28, 2010

Older and Wiser

Since yesterday was my birthday and I'm now another year older and wiser, and I've been blogging for just over a year, I thought I would make a list of all the things that I've learned in the year since I've been blogging. Feel free to add any tips or hints in the comments.

1. I really don't like it when I have to type in word verification to leave a comment on a blog.

2. I also don't like it when some blog "formats" (for lack of knowing the real word), make me fill in my name, email and web address to leave a comment.

3. I don't like blogs that are all about giveaways and advertising.

4. It's not essential to blog every day. Your readers will still be around even if it's been a while since you've blogged.

5. Don't write your best content on the weekend. There is very little blog traffic on Saturday and Sunday.

6. I miss my favorite blogs when they don't post for a while. And I'm always so excited when they do post.

7. I really enjoy bloggers who write insightful and thought-provoking posts. That being said, I enjoy the occasional meme or silly post as well.

8. I don't need to comment on every post that I read. I leave a comment when I have something intelligent to add to the "conversation".

9. I wish everyone who left a comment on my blog had their email address attached to their profile. That way I could reply to them directly. I always feel bad when I'm not able to thank a new commenter for visiting or to further the conversation with them. Do you know if you're a "no reply commenter"? Check your dashboard. You may be missing out on some of the fun of blogging.

10. I love the little community of bloggers that I've met on my blog. Some of us run in the same circles and it's fun to see them around the blogosphere.

11. I love the friendships I've found "behind the scenes" with some fellow bloggers. (This is why it's important to have your email attached to your profile. See #8). I've gotten some great advice, support and encouragement behind the scenes and I consider these women to be my friends. You know who you are.

12. I love having the opportunity to express my thoughts here on my blog. So many times throughout the day I'll read something or hear about something and feel as though I have a strong opinion or reaction to it that I'd like to share. And a blog is a perfect platform for that. So thanks for listening and participating.

13. As much as I love SITS and the fact that I've found several great blogs that way and I owe many of my followers to the fact that I was a featured blogger, I wish there was a SITS style blog that featured more "serious" blogs. Bloggers who are all about content. Who make me think about the world in new ways. Who make me sit up and take notice and want to comment and further the discussion. Does this make any sense? Do any of you feel the same way? Do you know of such a blog? Many of you write this type of blog. How have you found other blogs of substance?


After reading Stroke of Living's comment I just had to add a couple more items to my list of things I've learned this year. Thanks to her for her insight.

14. Don't get too caught up in Awards. I will admit that when I first starting blogging and I saw all those Awards flying around I was very anxious to receive one. And then I did. And it was so exciting and flattering. And a lot of work. The first few I received required you to answer a bunch of questions and then pass the award on to a certain number of people. YIKES! Choosing who to pass them on to was so difficult. And I would spend up to an hour copying and pasting and linking and stressing. Finally, I went Award Free and I have not looked back. I will admit that sometimes I feel a little sad when I don't get awards, but that it NOT why I started blogging in the first place. Getting comments and feedback on my posts is award enough. And that brings me to my next point:

15. Followers. Don't get all worked about how many followers you have. Trust me on this one. I have 182 followers and I appreciate each and every one of them. But you know what. Only a handful (and I do mean a handful) actually ever comment on my blog. I have no idea how many read my blog, but it's no where near 182. I get around 30 visitors a day to Pam's Perspective. So really, it's not about the followers, it's about the comments. And most of my posts get less than 15 (or maybe even 10) comments. Remember blogging is not a popularity contest. Or at least it isn't for me.

16. One more thing about following. I learned quickly to follow anonymously. The bad part of that is that the blogger's followers count doesn't go up. But the good thing is that if you decide to stop following (for whatever reason), no one's feelings get hurt. Believe me it happens. And it's uncomfortable when someone calls you out on it. And along those lines, don't take it too personally if you lose a follower or two or three. I know that's harder said than done, but remember it's about commenters not followers. Losing a loyal commenter is something to spend time wondering about. A lost follower... not so much.

On another note...

Imagine my surprise this morning when I sat down to read my favorite blogs and found out that I am being featured at A Peek at Karen's World. I nearly fell out of my chair. I love Karen's blog. I found her not too long ago when she was the SITS featured blogger. She and I have a lot in common - our love for Bon Jovi, books, movies, Lost and we share a birthday! Of course, she's still young and I'm starting to feel my age, but that's beside the point. So, thanks Karen, and if you don't already know her, you might want to check her out.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

A New Take on an Old Classic

If you're like me you keep saying you're going to read (or reread) the classics, but you don't get around to it very often. Or perhaps you've tried to read one and found it to be too dry or difficult to get into. Maybe you got lucky and read one and hit the jackpot. I've actually had all of the above happen to me recently. I keep thinking I should throw a classic into my reading lineup every now and then. And then I read Wuthering Heights and it was awful (my apologies if you loved it). More recently, I read Lord of the Flies as part of a HS assignment that I did with my daughter. And if you've been reading this blog for a while you know I LOVED it. So, how do you find a good classic as opposed to a boring one? Up until now that has been the $64,000 question. Well, I have good news.

Welcome to 60 Second Recap, a series of one minute video clips that give quick summaries of different aspects of classic literature - plot, themes, characters, etc. It's all hosted by Jenny Sawyer an energetic, insightful and cool 20-something. She doesn't give anything away and it's not a Cliffsnotes-type summary, but it does give you some idea of whether or not you might like the book. As a test case I watched the clips of Lord of the Flies, and they were very entertaining and I felt she did a terrific job presenting the book.

This would be a valuable resource for students who need to choose a classic for their English classes or could use a little help figuring out the themes of the story. It's also a wonderful resource for bookworms like me, who would love to read the classics, but don't know where to begin.

Check out the one minute Overview clip of Lord of the Flies.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

And on the Seventh Day...

Sunday has long been my favorite day of the week. I can remember being a HS student and spending long, lazy Sunday mornings reading the paper sitting up in my bed wearing my pjs. I did this even after I was married - until I had kids. Of course, then everything changed.

When our girls were little and life seemed to get extra hectic, Geoff and I decided to make Sunday "Family Day" as a way to protect some space each week to simply be together as a family and to slow down the pace of our hectic lives. As great of an idea as that is, it didn't really work all that well. Sometimes other things, events, and people interrupted Family Day and I'm sorry to say, we didn't always keep that day sacred. But, for the most part, it wasn't a big deal.

As the girls got bigger and were in school full time, I still enjoyed the slower pace of Sunday mornings and reading the paper, but with more free time during the week, I didn't really feel the need to keep Sunday as a slow day of renewal. Of course, setting aside time to be together as a family in a relaxed way is still a worthy goal, but with two teenagers who have their own ideas about how to spend their leisure time, this is not always feasible.

In reality, for many, many years Sunday has just been another day. Most weeks, it starts out slow, but I will admit that when necessary I would spend that day running errands or doing stuff around the house or even making plans outside the home.

But.. (you knew there was a but coming didn't you?)

Now that I'm three weeks into my new job and much busier schedule, I'm realizing I am going to have to rethink how I structure my days and weeks. I no longer have the luxury of at least 1 full day and 3 half days off a week. Now I work every day and my free time is extremely limited. I've spent these past three weeks thinking about how to make this all work and still have time to relax and refresh myself (this is something I absolutely need). One thing I'm going to do is to make Sunday a Day of Renewal. A day of rest. I'm going to try not to run errands or make plans on that day. I'm not a religious person, but I like the idea of Keeping the Sabbath as a way to rest, renew and refresh myself for the upcoming week. I know it's easier said than done. But it's something I absolutely MUST do to maintain some sense of balance within my new schedule. I hope I am able to stick to it.

How about you? How do you find time in your busy schedule for relaxation and rest? Is it easy for you or is it something you struggle with?

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Book Review: Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel

A while ago, I posted about participating in the Complete Booker 2010 Challenge. Well, I finally finished the first Booker Prize winner - Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel, which just so happens to be the 2009 winner. This was an easy first choice since this book was already on my tbr list.

Wolf Hall is a novel that deals with the reign of Henry VIII during the time period when he was striving to divorce Katherine of Aragon so that he could marry Anne Boleyn. There are plenty of books, both fiction and non-fiction, covering this topic, and I've read quite a few of them. But Wolf Hall is unique in that it is presented from the point of view of Thomas Cromwell, Henry's chief minister, and the man who made Henry's divorce and remarriage(s) possible. I have a fascination for this period in English history and I've read many books about this time period. But Wolf Hall is the first one I have read that presents the story from Cromwell's perspective. I found it interesting to see the events from his eyes. It was also illuminating to see the other major players in this drama as Cromwell might have viewed them. As often as I've read and studied the Tudor period, it is always interesting to come at it from another direction.

As much as I enjoyed Wolf Hall, I'm not sure it's for everyone. It's a very detailed account of the events of the period and unless the reader has an interest in this topic, I think it could be a bit dense. It took me almost two weeks to finish this book, which is about three times longer than I normally spend reading a book. If I didn't have a real fascination with the topic, I doubt I would have finished it. And I think this may be part and parcel of reading award winning books. They are denser and heavier than their non-award winning counterparts. And this is the very reason why I wanted to participate in this challenge. I'm ready to stretch myself in my reading. For the past 13 years or so I've been reading primarily contemporary literary fiction. And I would classify Wolf Hall as literary fiction. A genre I've struggled with in the past. Part of the problem is that I'm impatient. I want to read a book quickly so that I can move on to the next one on my tbr list. I had to keep reminding myself while reading this book that this is not a race. These more literary books are meant to be savored, like a luscious multi-course meal at a classy restaurant. But I must admit that I'm now deep into a wonderful contemporary literary fiction book* and I'm just so thrilled to be devouring it quickly. I think for me, literary fiction, like super fancy meals in super fancy restaurant, is meant to be enjoyed infrequently. My everyday reading needs to be something I can devour with gusto. But who knows? Maybe by the time I finish this Booker Challenge, I'll be wanting to enjoy those sophisticated reads more frequently. We'll see....

I would give Wolf Hall 3 stars - I liked it.

The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox by Maggie O'Farrell (book review coming soon).

Monday, February 15, 2010

For the Love of The Bard

A week ago I had an opportunity to see Shakespeare's Twelfth Night performed at Trinity Repertory Company. I was really excited to see this play because ever since being introduced to Shakespeare as a junior in HS, I have always loved him. When I had an opportunity to study Shakespeare a little more in college, I jumped on the chance and spent two semesters reading his plays and studying his life. And I've even read a few books about his life and times just for fun. Hey, I'm weird like that.
I thought this play was very well done. The time period had been changed to a vaguely Victorian setting, which seemed to work quite well. I was afraid I wouldn't like that since I'm a bit of a traditionalist, but I didn't mind it at all. The set design, by Eugene Lee, was ingenuous and even included a pool of water on stage and rain falling from the ceiling.

The acting was also superb, especially Fred Sullivan, Jr. as Sir Toby Belch. Sullivan played the jolly, bawdy drunk to perfection. Stephen Thorne was also excellent as Sir Andrew Aguecheek, the bumbling, comedic and ridiculous sidekick to Sir Toby. The role of Sir Andrew required a lot of physical comedy and Thorne mastered it. So much so that in one scene one of my seat mates wondered if perhaps Thorne has actually gotten a bloody nose or if it fact that was part of the play.

The icing of the cake, however, was that I had an opportunity to attend a book club style discussion of Twelfth Night and Trinity's production of it the following day at one of the libraries where I work. The discussion was led by two young women who are part of Trinity's Education Department. One of their jobs is to bring the theater experience out into the community. It was fascinating to hear about the reasons that the Director, Brian McEleny (who also played the role of Malvolio), made the choices he did with this production. One of the discussion leaders is a Shakespeare scholar and I learned a bit more about Shakespeare's efforts to keep religion and politics out of his plays and she even explained some of the jokes that were meant to be digs at Shakespeare's contemporary playwright, Ben Johnson. Fascinating stuff (for a nerd like me). As much as I enjoyed the play, being able to participate in such a lively discussion with two people so intimately involved with Trinity and so knowledgeable about Shakespeare added a whole other layer of enjoyment and understanding for me. I hope I have more opportunities like this in the future.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Love and Kisses


Saturday, February 13, 2010

Hell Week. Times 2.

I think the Universe is still trying to tell me something. While I haven't had any more near misses with falling trees, my first two weeks at my new job were fraught with more obstacles than really seemed necessary.

My first week was going to be a marathon, no matter what. It just happened to be the week that I had to work a Saturday at my original job. So, I would not be easing into my new life with two jobs. I would start out basically running a marathon and working 6 straight days. OK, I can handle that. It just so happened that Geoff was also going away with some friends for the weekend (something he does very rarely). No problem.

And then the Universe chuckled.

On Thursday night (while Geoff was at a meeting), Katie and Madeleine got into a huge fight, which led to a gigantic mess, which basically ruined what had started out to be a nice, quiet, relaxing evening. *sigh*. After work on Friday (and after Geoff had escaped left), I drove Madeleine to the other side of the state (OK it's only 30 minutes away, but still), so that she could spend the night with our friends there. Realizing if I went straight home I would have to deal with the left over "wrath of Katie", I decided to go see a movie. Very peaceful. But all I accomplished was putting off dealing with the inevitable. The wrath of Katie eventually morphed into the breakdown of Katie and let's just say it was a long night (meanwhile Geoff was enjoying pizza, beer and camaraderie with the guys). *grrr*. Saturday morning at 7:38 I get a call from Margaret, whose house Madeleine is at, and she tells me that Madeleine has the stomach bug and has been throwing up since 6:30 am. Of course she is. I offer to come and get her right away, but Madeleine doesn't think she can ride in a car. Margaret and I decide to wait it out and see what happens. About 1/2 hour later, I get a call and Margaret is on her way with Madeleine. That's one way to get out of working on a Saturday. On Sunday, I breathed a sigh of relief that the week was over and I could get a fresh start the following week.

And the Universe laughed.

The week actually started out just fine (just like the previous week). Again it was going to be a busy week for me, not only working every day, but out every night except Monday. Mostly fun things, so no complaints there, I just knew it was going to be another marathon week. Wednesday I actually got good news, a huge snow storm was expected (that never did materialize) and I didn't have to work Wednesday night. WooHoo! On Thursday night when I came home from book club, I was assaulted with the news that Katie was upstairs with the stomach bug. You have got to kidding me! Nope. This continues through midnight and I have to be at work at 9:00 am Friday morning. And let's just say, that she had a couple of near misses and now the bathroom is not safe for human use. So guess how I'm going to be spending today. My first day off. And I have a thousand errands to run, because I work every day now. Come on, Universe. Cut me some slack. Couldn't I have eased into this new routine? Give me a minute to catch my breath and find my groove.

And wipe that smirk off of your face...

Monday, February 8, 2010

Spotlight on Me!

Today I am FINALLY the SITS featured blogger. I've been waiting for this day to arrive for a very long time. Most of you probably know what SITS is, but if not you can find out more here.

If it's your first time visiting, welcome to Pam's Perspective. My name is Pam (elf of the obvious, here) and I am a 45 year old wife and mother of two teenage daughters. For the most part I am a SAHM, but I do work part-time at a two small public libraries 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.

I've linked a couple of posts if you're interested in reading a little bit more of my "perspective".

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

Saturday, February 6, 2010

TV Quick Quips

Here's my take on this week's episodes of my favorite shows:

1. The Biggest Loser - I really liked both the blue and yellow teams. They were both so gracious and supportive of each other and the other teams. I felt sad to see the blue team go...again. And what's with Miggy's Jekyll and Hyde imitation?

2. Modern Family - Moon Landing! Splash Down! Too funny!

3. The Office - A new episode! Imagine that. So, Michael Scott makes decisions with the same part of his body that he uses to make babies. Finally! A man who admits he thinks with his penis!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

One Year Ago Today

It was one year ago today that I started Pam's Perspective. I can't believe that I almost forgot and missed this milestone. I had no idea what I was getting into when I started this blog. As some of you may already know, the director of the library where I work asked me if I would write a book review blog for the library. I was willing, but I knew less than nothing about blogs or blogger and felt that I should practice before trying to write a public/professional blog. And that is how Pam's Perspective came into being. I do write a book review and news blog for the library, Pam's Picks, but Pam's Perspective is a much more vibrant blog. (And most of what gets posted at Pam's Picks is also posted here).

It's been an interesting year, to say the least. I've made some great bloggy friends (you know who you are) and over the course of the year I've made some adjustments to Pam's Perspective and my approach to blogging. I went from blogging a couple of times a week to obsessively blogging every day and now I blog when I feel I have something to say. In the beginning, I was also dying to be given my first award. I couldn't wait to proudly display an award button on my sidebar. And then I realized how much time it takes to respond to and pass on those awards. And how difficult it is to decide who to pass them on to. So, I went award free. When I began blogging, I publicly followed lots and lots of blogs. Now I'm much more selective and I follow anonymously. No more hurt feelings if I decide to stop following. And in the old days, I used to comment on each and every post that was written on the blogs that I follow. Now, I comment only if I feel I have something to add to the "conversation".

Looking back over the last year, I realize I've come full circle. I started out blogging for myself and that's right where I am today. I feel as though I've found balance in my blogging. I'm no longer obsessing about it - writing daily posts, how many followers do I have, how many visitors have I had, how many comments have I gotten, etc. I've enjoyed this first year of blogging and I've enjoyed meeting all of you and reading your blogs. It's been a great year. I'm looking forward to the next one. Happy Blogiversary to me!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Day One

So, yesterday was my first day at my new job. It went pretty well. Being that I'm familiar with the work, the learning curve for this job will be pretty small. Which is a good thing. Learning a new job is pretty stressful. The people were all incredibly nice and welcoming, which is also a good thing.

As expected, the work is less than intellectually stimulating. Which is not such a good thing. And by design, it is impossible to finish the workload in the 3 hours that I am scheduled to work. (This wasn't clear to me when I interviewed for the job). And this is very hard for me. I really don't like to leave tasks unfinished, especially when those tasks are my responsibility. Apparently, it's not a big deal if I can't finish that day's interlibrary loans. Someone else will finish it up after I leave. This goes against every grain of my being. But, I guess I'm going to have to get used to it.

There was an unexpected side benefit to this job, however. My thighs got an amazing workout from all the squatting down I did to look for books on low shelves/bins. They actually started to get sore last night. And this morning it was a little difficult to go down the stairs. So, even if my brain will not be getting a workout, my thighs will. It actually might be nice to give my brain a rest for 3 hours a day and work my thighs instead. Heaven knows they could use the workout. And my brain will probably enjoy the rest.

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