OMG! – She’s Pregnant!: Week 2 of Reading Anna Karenina

Last week I shared that I was embarking on a fun reading adventure  of the classic novel, Anna Karenina with my friend. As of now, I am on page 325, which puts me into part 3 of the book,(out of 7 parts). Let’s just say this week of readings was a mixture of surprise, disappointment and boredom.

First of all, let me say this: I. AM. SHOCKED!

Anna revealed to Vronsky (her lover) that she is pregnant with their child. Now let me explain why I was so astounded to read this in part 2 of the story. Earlier on when Tolstoy mentioned Anna (who is a married woman in high society Russia) and Vronsky were spending a lot of time together, I just assumed they continued to meet at private gatherings amid other society people, like the ones  her friend Princess Betsy was hosting. I was a bit disappointed to read of the hand holding, exchanging of looks, igniting feelings of love, etc. I wanted some details – you know, the tearing off petticoats, sweaty bodies romping underneath lace eyelet sheets, ducking into closets so as not to be discovered, heavy panting and kissing sort of thing. But then I remembered: This book is more than over 150 years old. There were certain ways delicate topics had to be referred to. I’m wondering if a woman had written this book would there be more of this detail? As I have not read other classics written by women from that time period, I can’t say for sure. Just to let you know I wasn’t looking for Jackie Collins, but I needed more love affair details to suspect  physical intimacy, which would of course lead me to wonder if the result of their infatuation could result in a pregnancy.

I was also surprised when Anna told her husband, Karenin, that she loved Vronsky so soon in the book. Now what? There are still a lot of pages left to read. What else is left?

Well, there are the characters of Kitty and Levin. I do hope the rest of the book does not continue in the slow, monotonous fashion of a day in the life of Levin. I nearly fell asleep from boredom while reading the chapters chronicling Levin’s attempt to both avoid his half-brother and work like a peasant for one day. There was way too much detail about mowing and tools and laying about in the tall grass. I would have much preferred details of Anna and Vronsky laying about in the tall grass if you know what I mean?

And then there is poor Kitty. So young and confused about life. But weren’t we all confused about life when we were 18 without the added stress of being a princess? She needs to toughen up like the Scherbotsky she is (again I’m thinking of Robin Scherbostsky from How I Met Your Mother.)

So dear readers who have swallowed this tome of Tolstoy already, were any of you surprised when you read Anna was pregnant? Were you hoping for sensational details of her affair with Vronsky? Were there moments when you felt bored and wished you could just skip a chapter?

Until next week.

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Friday Fictioneers

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It’s time for Friday Fictioneers. I have not participated in this fun writing exercise for many months, but I hope to start the habit again. A lovely blogger named Rochelle is the creative genius behind it. If you click on the link, you can read the rules about participation. The above photo is the inspiration for the 100 word story of the week.

A Long, Long Time Ago

Jacques  sat next to his grandson, trying to pry his attention from the action on the small screen. “Orphe,  look at this.” Jacques said pointing to the page. The tween glanced over, “What’s that?” “A wagon pulling hay.” The child stared at him. “This was from my vacation to the country years ago. A lot of farms. ” “Farm?” “A farm was a place where people used to grow food.” “Food?” Alan sighed, “People used to eat food everyday to nourish their bodies. That was before the decades of droughts .”  “Oh. Can I have my pill now?” “Yes. You can eat.”

wordcount: 100

9026 + 899 = My Email

This is not a new math problem that can only be answered using Common Core Standards. Seriously, these were the numbers I saw when I opened my email on the desktop
counter top computer. I tried to access my email via my phone, but lately it has taken a long time to load. I was impatient so I booted up the computer and felt uneasy when I stared at the large numbers.

It reminded me of when I  was really sick a few years back and my husband was out-of-town. I was so sick I couldn’t walk. I had to crawl to the kitchen and told my small children they had to make their own breakfast and amuse themselves with television for the day. A week later, I was finally able to deal with the aftermath – mountains of laundry, a lot of dishes, dust bunnies as big as kittens, grimy counter tops, and dirty bathrooms. I felt so overwhelmed. I didn’t know what to tackle first because it seemed like getting my house back to normal was impossible. Eventually, I chipped away at the neglect  and little by little things were back to normal. Just like I had neglected my house during my illness, I have also been neglecting my email. Day after day and month after month I just let the emails pile up instead of deleting and filing a bit at a time. Most of it is e-junk mail. A hot deal only for today, a new collection out, a newsletter about local education issues, a class thread about homework. Instead of deleting these emails or placing them in the right folder, I ignored them until they grew out of control.

Well, I realized it was time to clean up the mess and not have a cluttered inbox. It’s just too distracting to my brain and prevents me from being productive. I began Friday afternoon and set my goal to delete 1,00 emails. Saturday, I spent the morning with my goal to get through to last October. While I was successful with both goals, I was not done. At this point I have good news and bad news. The good news is that I have less than 6,000 emails in my inbox and less than 300 in my folders. I decided that I couldn’t spend my entire weekend at the computer just cleaning things out. My end goal is to have 0 in my inbox by the end of this week.

It has been a tedious experience and I think I have learned a few lessons in the process. For the future I plan to do a few things differently:

  1. Delete as many emails a day as I can
  2. Try a weekly catch up reading folder  and see if a.) I remember to use it and b.)I am able to read through the emails/articles/blogs I am setting aside within an hour or so
  3. Schedule time once a week to clear/organize my email accounts (yes, I have more than one!)

I hope that I can keep a tidy inbox so I am more productive and spend my time writing and creating instead of dealing with accumulated electronic clutter. I also hope this overhaul will resolve the issues with my phone.

Am I the only one who has let an inbox get wildly out of control? I’d love to hear your stories or tips on how you tame your inbox.

Winter Book Reading – Anna Karenina

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Way back in November of last year a friend and I briefly discussed the idea of forming a mini book club together. We finally  met up  last week for lunch. Over black bean burgers and croque monsieur we made our selection – Anna Karenina. Really it was her idea, but I agreed because I have never read it and heard it was a good book. Besides, it seemed fitting as we were experiencing our own Russian winter in Chicago. Plus, how could I resist her lovely idea of discussing the book at Russian Tea Time?

I immediately went to the library to check out a copy. At 975 pages, I was not intimidated as I completed The Count of Monte Cristo  recently (which reminds me, I should write a blog post about that) which is a whopping 1235 pages or so. We decided to finish the book before the official start of Spring (because who wants to be reading a book like that in Spring?). That means we need to read a minimum of 20 pages a day or 140 per week.

I am not through with my one week yet, but already I have made it to page 170. I’m glad to be ahead. So far, the story is easy to follow. It is interesting to read because Tolstoy’s writing style lets you into the minds of all the characters at the moment. I noticed he is a bit “wordy” but I have to keep in mind the writing of the time, over 150 years ago. I have four  main thoughts up to this point circulating in my brain:

1. Kitty’s last name is Shcherbatsky. Every time I read the family surname or about her, all I can picture is Robin Scherbatsky from the television show How I Met Your Mother.

2. In the translation I am reading, I came across the word “diva”. I had to go get my dictionary (yes I still own a real heavy one) to look up the definition since when I think of diva, images of Mariah Carey, Beyoncé and Madonna pop up.

3. Does everyone’s last name end in sky or ski? Well no, but it sure seems like it.

4. Anna is revealing herself to be self-centered and devious.

I curious to know how many of you have read Anna Karenina? If you have, when did you read it? High School? College? Later? Stay tuned for next week’s update.

Accidentally Running in Winter

The bright sun beckoned me. It ricocheted off the mounds of snow, lighting up the view outside my window. “Come,” it said. I returned to my cup of tea and thick novel. The light outside the window brightened even more as I rose to put my teacup in the sink a few minutes later. “Come outside. Delight in my winter rays,” the sun called again.

I put on my exercise clothes. I grabbed an old pair of sunglasses before bundling up to go outdoors. The air was crisp. I set off walking, feeling the itch to move at a faster pace, but many neighbors had not maintained their walkways. I soon arrived at the corner with the traffic light. I had not taken this path on foot since last November. On the other side of the four lane traffic, the noise stilled.  Trees now looked naked and lonely without their fiery autumn leaves. Two small, unattended dogs ran toward me, barking, excited, protective. I wanted to run away from their leaping and yapping, but the sidewalk looked dangerous. This was the route I used to run on before the weather turned bad. I walked as briskly as I could, heading toward the park. Could it be possible the path was safe?

As I got closer, I saw a strip of sidewalk, freshly salted, snow melted. It was wide open. I pushed off with my right foot, then followed with my left, my legs higher off the ground, stretched out, lengthening. I zipped my hood up all the way to my mouth and breathed in the warm air I exhaled. Happiness endorphins swirled around my body.

The park loomed in the distance. I turned into the gate, noticing the snow-covered  path. I accelerated slowly, testing my footing and the compact and even ground. I settled into a slow pace, faster than a walk, but not my regular pace. The snow crunched underfoot. My jacket made swishing sounds. The park was quiet except for a few sounds of pets and people and birds.  I was warm enough and I was running. Running in winter. My legs carried me around the big circle as I passed by barely discernible park benches, their backs peeking out from the snow. I didn’t have to squint as I propelled myself through the path. Families were sledding down a small hill. I started to go through my schedule for the rest of the day but stopped. I was running. It was my time.

I saw the gate. I paused, knowing I didn’t have time to make one more lap. I would have though. I unzipped the vents in my coat and slowed to a walk. Cars whizzed by me as I walked back home, their loudness abrasive to my former tranquil state. While taking off my shoes I wondered when the sun would come calling me again.

Valentine’s Day Revisited One Year Later – Throwback Thursday

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It has been one  year  since I wrote a post about Valentine’s Day. In honor of the upcoming day of everything hearts, love, pink, red, mush, gush, sparkle, sprinkle, chocolate, cards, roses and rubbish I present you the Valentine’s Post from 2013: Enjoy:

FOURTEEN REASONS TO BOYCOTT VALENTINE”S DAY (OR MAYBE JUST TONE IT DOWN A BIT)

As you can tell by the title of this post, I’m not a big fan of Valentine’s Day. Here are some of the reasons why:

1. What about all those other days of the year? How many of those days are actually significant to people for real reasons? To list a few: birthdays, wedding anniversaries, graduations, the date you got your first job, rented your own apartment, the day you quit the job you loathed, the day you learned how to play the guitar, ski, cook a meal without burning it. I could go on, but I know you get the point.

2. The hype (but not as long as Christmas). People are not even done celebrating Christmas, New Years, Hanukkah, Three Kings, etc and the stores are filled with red white and pink. This brings me to my next reason…

3. The colors: red, white and pink are everywhere. Well, almost. I haven’t seen pink beer yet.

4. Messages are everywhere in every store window to buy (sound familiar?) You name it and the store is selling it: decorations, cooking utensils, clothing ( for adults, children and pets), decorations, baskets, stuffed animals, decorations, picture frames, hand towels, decorations, candy, cards, straws and did I mention decorations?

5. And speaking of decorations, some people have to decorate the outside (and I’m sure the inside) of their house. I saw a neighbor put hers up on January 7th.

6. There are millions of  songs about love. Who wants to listen to them all day, or the days leading up to Valentine’s Day? I enjoy many songs about love, but come on people, practice some moderation.

7. People feel obligated to  express their love in ways they are not comfortable with. (Like maybe saying I Love You when they are not ready to)

8. Cheap stuffValentine’s Day is another reason for stores to sell cheap stuff and for people to buy it. Seriously, how many fake rose bouquets and stuffed bears holding a heart pillow does the average person need? Do not answer the stuffed animal question for a child. They always need more stuffed animals than they have, contrary to what we tell them.

9. HeartsYea, yea, yea, the heart is the symbol of love, but does it have to be everywhere and on everything?

10. Jewelry  If you are buying jewelry for a female, does it have to be a heart? I think it will still say you care if it is a butterfly or a free form shape.

11. Does it have to be diamond jewelry? If not, then obviously the person you are buying it for is not worth it (obviously NOT my opinion, but it’s the message sent from everywhere, especially the jewelry stores!)

12. Store bought cardsI’d take a homemade one from my kids with original drawings and messages any day. Would you?

13. ChocolateIt almost didn’t make my list, but it is everywhere. My teeth and I would rather have good chocolate once a week then endless cheap garbage that comes home from school to commemorate the occasion.

14. It becomes another way in which people try to one-up each otherI don’t mean this in a bad way and I’m sure people are not intentional about it, but especially with access to content on the web and social media it becomes a report of what people did or planned to do to make it such a “special day” (gag). Open a magazine, look at blogs and it is everywhere from how to make the perfect breakfast, lunch, dinner, romantic evening, blah, blah , blah.

So readers, are you going all out or are you going to treat it like another day on the calendar? I’d LOVE to hear your thoughts.

Hallway Makeover Part 2: Just What Exactly Did That Space Look Like?

Unless you have been to my house (and few of my blog readers have), you might have never laid eyes on my back hallway. Trust me, you weren’t missing anything. Before I unveil the final (ok not final because I am still adding little things here and there) space, I wanted to show you what I was working with. I realize my picture from the first post  about the makeover did not do it justice. I think one of those cool camera lenses would have come in handy. (Now that we’re talking about camera lenses, I’m wondering if my blog camera (aka my cell phone) has a panoramic option I could use for the last shot.)

I decided to make a rough sketch of the space with dimensions. This might help you to appreciate what I have done with it:

My 40 inch x 136 inch space to work with

My 40 inch x 136 inch space to work with

As you can see, it is pretty narrow, almost like a galley kitchen. Stay tuned to see the spectacular results.