Tuesday, February 26, 2008

What's so great about the Festival of the Book?

Class, this is what is known as a rhetorical question. Obviously, I'm going to tell you what's so great about the Virginia Festival of the Book.

If I answered this question last year, I would have said the best thing was that my friend Melissa was on a panel there. She was funny as always -- this is the woman who once said "I'd eat my own thumb if it were french-fried" -- and she wrote a brilliant book which you should all run out and buy if you haven't already, The Girl's Guide to Absolutely Everything. Even if you're not a girl you should read it because you will then understand girls better, and isn't that your main goal in life??? [Disclaimer: I assisted in copyediting this book. But I also proofread Methods in Enzymology, and you don't see me recommending that you all run out and buy that, do you? Well, do you????? Although it *is* fascinating.]

Today's theme: fun with question marks.

So last year was fun because I had a star on my hands. But the Bookfest is always fun and interesting. First off, you can discover great new-to-you authors. You can be read to, and you can ask questions. You can get a better understanding of the writer's process, and of course you will feel emotionally bolstered by all the emphasis on books and reading.

But my favorite thing about the Bookfest is the sheer number of readers who attend.

[Wait -- there's a rainbow outside! as opposed to inside! I must go tell the others!]

Ok, I'm back. Let's face it, most readers are solitary creatures. We like to stay home and read. Why, I sometimes don't come out of the house for days. Ok, that might be another problem, a problem (or an opportunity!) like being introverted. Readers tend to be introverted -- oh don't get upset if you're an extroverted reader, no one's casting asparagus at you -- and consequently they often don't meet other readers. Book clubs don't count. Oh, maybe they should. But the Bookfest lures all those readers out of their houses and brings them together. And that's what's so great.

PS To introverted bookish types who want to meet other introverted bookish types, I'll give you a topic with which to chat up people you see at the Bookfest: "So, what have you been reading lately?" (This is a place where you don't want to add too many question marks, as it will just make you appear desperate and plus a little frightening.) You're welcome.

[Disclaimer deux: I'm guest-blogging for the Bookfest. But my love for it has been strong for many years now.]

That's entertainment!

My best advice to you on this dreary day is to check out June's post. You will laugh until you cry, I guarantee it.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Shall we blog?

We shall. Sometimes you don't need to think of an idea; you just start blogging and something comes to you.

People, I've got nothin'.

I could post about how boring I feel lately, but that would probably be boring. I have a feeling this is a backlash from all the home improvement projects coming to an end (except for the clean-up, which is ongoing and preventing me from taking pictures). The home improvements were so all-encompassing that I now think "what did I do before all that? how did I spend my time? what did I think about?" You can see that I'm talking to myself a lot, but that's fairly normal for me. Either I talk to myself or to the dogs or to the cat, all of whom seem to enjoy all my chattering as well as my singing. I like to make up songs about the dogs and cat, and sometimes about my own activities. This morning, I made up a fabulous song about my own breakfast, very different from the dogs' breakfast song, which uses the tune "Downtown":

When you're a pup
And life is making you hungry
You can always go
When you're a pup
All the noise and the hurry
Seems to help, I know
Just listen to the tapping of the toenails on the vinyl
Linger in the kitchen where you may receive some crackers
How can you lose?

Evidently, when I don't have anything to post about, I reveal more of my eccentricities to my gentle readers. Hmm.

I must say, the most exciting thing that has happened to me in the past week or so is that I was invited to guest-blog for the Virginia Festival of the Book. I'll be reading and reviewing Jacqueline Winspear's book, An Incomplete Revenge. J. Winspear will be part of 3 panel discussions at the Bookfest. The one I'm covering is "Crime Wave: Murder, Murder Everywhere" (Friday, March 28, 8 pm in the County Office Building) because I'm sick -- no, because I'm obsessed with mysteries lately and am looking forward to discovering a new author. Well, new to me. This book is J. Winspear's 5th in her series of "Maisie Dobbs" mysteries.

More on all that later.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Here is some fun you can have

Put your picture on the cover of popular magazines. Come on, you know you're one of People's most beautiful of the year!


You're welcome.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Reading all day long for 3 days straight

I seem to have a little obsession with mysteries lately. Once I start reading one, I can't stop until I see how it turns out -- hundreds of pages later. I had 3 days off, I read 3 mysteries. Which means I was pretty much reading non-stop. That's not necessarily a bad thing, but reading mysteries is kind of like eating junk food -- it's good, but not ultimately satisfying.

At first I was distracting myself from the turbulence at home, what with all the contractors and everything. Now I think I am distracting myself from sleep apnea. The treatment isn't so bad, although I did pick up another mask to try because the 1st one kept slipping, but nothing says "frumpy" like wearing a nasal mask to bed. The only marginally cool thing about it is that my breathing sounds like Darth Vader. That would probably impress my nephew. I keep trying to say "Luke, I am your father" but you can't really talk with it on, and Rosie-cat probably wouldn't get the reference anyway.

I'm kind of depressed about the whole thing, I have to say. I mean, I'm glad I found out about it, glad the treatment is working, glad that it *is* treatable, and glad that a number of co-existing conditions are simultaneously clearing up. Part of it is, I feel sad that it wasn't diagnosed sooner, as I've been exhausted a long time, probably because of non-restorative sleep. And part of it, of course, is being sad that I have it at all. It's just going to make my mid-life crisis that much harder. I really feel old when I have to hook myself up to a machine to sleep at night.

But enough kvetching. I'll get used to it and be grateful for having renewed energy and pretty soon it will just be a habit that keeps me healthy. For that, I really am grateful.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Sleep apnea for fun and profit

Ok, it's neither fun nor profitable (discuss!) but I was diagnosed with sleep apnea this week. That's what's been occupying my time and my mind, which has been obsessing over the whole thing and scaring myself s***less by doing PubMed searches and reading many journal articles stating, well, how deadly this condition can be (but only if left untreated). Sleep apnea is one of those diagnoses that can explain a whole lot of other health problems, including behavioral problems, such as the fact that I've never been able to get out of bed on time in the morning, which means I either have to rush around like a madwoman in the morning or I am late, and sometimes both.

I feel like a cornucopia of health problems recently.

Anyway, sleep apnea, for those who don't know, means that you stop breathing during the night. It is diagnosed through a sleep study, where you go to a sleep center such as the one on Lexington Avenue and get yourself hooked up to a bunch of electrodes which record brain, heart, and breathing activity while someone watches you on a monitor. At first I thought "how am I going to sleep like this?" Then I immediately conked out because, hey, I have a sleep disorder. I've been a little tired!

At my worst, I had periods of not breathing 48 times per hour, for at least 10 seconds each time. Doesn't that sound scary??? Between the time of my sleep study and seeing my neurologist, I was afraid to sleep. I thought it would be better to sleep less and breathe more. In some ways, it was.

Now I have a handy-dandy APAP machine (adjustable positive airway pressure; like a CPAP but adjustable rather than constant) and a sexy mask to go with it. Here's the headgear I'm now sporting at night:

Isn't that just delightful? And believe me, it was the best of all the options. But I didn't choose it only for its smashing good looks; it also happened to fit me the best.

I'm glad I've found out about this problem, but sheesh. The whole thing is a big pain.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Turkish Delight

It may seem self-evident, but Turkish Delight really *is* delightful. I tell you this because I just ate some. It was in the office break room, but I have no idea who brought it in and I doubt I'll find out.

In my former office, we would relentlessly ask our coworkers which of them brought in the cookies, doughnuts, Halloween candy, etc., etc. We would eventually discover whom we had to thank, unless someone accidentally asked the director, who took credit for everything, whether he brought it in or not. (He was just being funny, though -- but he was always so believable!)

Here, there are about a gazillion people working in labs, whom I've never seen, much less met. Since the Turkish Delight seems to have come from Turkey itself, that could be a clue, except that I have no idea who might have recently traveled to Turkey.

PS Can you believe my spellchecker is objecting to "doughnuts" while it has no problem with "donuts"? What is the world coming to? In the interest of full disclosure, I must inform you that it is also objecting to the word "spellchecker," so perhaps it is not the very best at its job.

PPS Thanks for the Turkish Delight, mysterious provider!

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

I love J. Achenbach

And so will you! He's a must-read at all times, but especially during election season. His blog article today is especially funny, so go read it!

Monday, February 4, 2008

Just a wee bit rusty

I may have forgotten how to blog. Let's just see, shall we?

I had a great time visiting my family in NY. We had a surprise party for my Dad's 75th birthday, and boy, was he surprised! The initial moment of astonishment was a bit disconcerting, and one was forced to question the wisdom of surprising a 75 year old man, but he recovered quickly. One little bonus for me was that I was part of the surprise, coming from so far away. So he kind of had shock number 2 when he saw me. But he had a great time, seeing all his friends and family and having a great meal and a great birthday cake MY GOD THE CAKE. It was divine -- marble cake with pudding filling and whipped cream icing. Unfortunately I missed joining in the traditional birthday singing because I was accompanying my niece to the bathroom. But we could hear the singing from in there, so that was good.

I stayed with my brother and his family. I love them all. I have to say I am always a bit surprised at how much the kids love seeing me. Then I remember I always felt that way about my aunts and uncles. I'm their only aunt, so I pack an extra punch. Plus I happen to love seeing them also, and that often leads to popularity.

My sister-in-law basically put Dad's party together herself, and was pretty worried the day of -- but she did an amazing job and she and my brother were great hosts for the week. I also got to spend a lot of time with my Dad, which was really fun.

We had 3 adults, 2 children, 4 dogs, and a cat in my brother's modest cape cod-style home. There was no peace. But the hustle and bustle was enjoyable (although I was glad to return home, too).

At said home I was greeted with a functioning whirlpool bath and some beautifully painted rooms, albeit there's also an exceedingly tall step ladder in my great room, under which my sofa sits. We're not just *walking* under the ladder, baybee, we're *sitting* under it. Bring on the bad luck... go ahead, I dare you: BRING IT ON!

My first bath was a revelation of comfort and relaxation. I'm looking forward to my second one -- tonight!