Thursday, September 28, 2006

Don't it Just Break Your Heart?: Banned Books Week

I came across this article this morning and I'm glad I did because I discovered that it's Banned Books Week! That. Is. So. Cool! I'm sorry I happened to come across it at the tail end (Banned Books Week is Sept 23-30), but I am an ardent supporter nonetheless.
Most of the books on the list below I would consider classics, and many of them even played a part in making me who I am today. Censorship is such a touchy and gray area that it's hard to take a stand--because it's so subjective. It's close to my heart, though, having dealt with it personally as an editor. Books like To Kill a Mockingbird and Of Mice and Men and James and the Giant Peach, are so much more than offensive and obscene or racial slurrs. just breaks my heart. These books are my friends (except the scary ones--I am not friends with scary stuff).
What it comes down to is discretion. If you don't want to read Harry Potter (though I don't know who wouldn't), don't. But don't try to take it away from someone who might be looking for a new friend.

Please note, I'm leaving the incorrect quotations as the author of the article published them.

A Long Shelf Life
By Vera HC Chan
Fri, September 22, 2006, 3:41 pm PDT

"Until I feared I would lose it, I never loved to read. One does not love breathing."—Harper Lee, "To Kill a Mockingbird"
Compelling as they are, some folks would rather you didn't read the words above. The quote comes from a Pulitzer Prize-winning book that's been denounced for so-called racial slurs and profanity, and banished from school library shelves.
Irony never ceases, nor does the impulse toward censorship. But now is a perfect time to celebrate books such as Lee's masterpiece, "Ulysses," and "Heart of Darkness." Banned Books Week is here and thumb-nosing librarians and freedom-loving bookstore owners are celebrating the 25th anniversary of reading verboten material.
The American Library Association keeps an accounting of objectionable reads. We curled up with a good computer to check which forbidden pages still beckon readers and searchers.
"Harry Potter" (Series) (J.K. Rowling)*!
"To Kill a Mockingbird" (Harper Lee)*
"The Color Purple" (Alice Walker)**
"The Outsiders" (S.E. Hinton)*
"Lord of the Flies" (William Golding)**
"Of Mice and Men" (John Steinbeck)*!
"Goosebumps" (Series) (R.L. Stine)
"How to Eat Fried Worms" (Thomas Rockwell)*
"The Catcher in the Rye" (J.D. Salinger)*
"The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn" (Mark Twain)*
"The Giver" (Lois Lowry)*
"Brave New World" (Aldous Huxley)*
"The Adventures of Tom Sawyer" (Mark Twain)*
"Captain Underpants" (Dav Pilkey)
"The Anarchist Cookbook" (William Powell)
"Carrie" (Stephen King)
"Flowers for Algernon" (Daniel Keyes) *
"The Dead Zone" (Stephen King)
"I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings" (Maya Angelou)**
"Go Ask Alice" (anonymous)*
"American Psycho" (Bret Easton Ellis)
"The Chocolate War" (Robert Cormier)*
"James and the Giant Peach" (Roald Dahl)*!
"The Pigman" (Paul Zindel)
"A Wrinkle in Time" (Madeleine L'Engle)

*Erin's recommended reads
*!Erin's REALLY recommended reads
**Recommended even though you'll hate it. It's good for you.

Please note--not all, but most of these books can be found on my bookshelves at home. So there.


This morning, I found myself in a situation where I spent a small period of time near a window that looked out over the parking lot.
I watched a man pull into the handicapped spot. He struggled to get out of the car on crutches WITH a coffee in his hands, which he set on top of the car. He then struggled to take a wheel chair out of the trunk. struggled to set it up, struggled to sit down, struggled to get his crutches settled across his lap, and then realized his coffee was still on top of the car.
He struggled to stand up again with the crutches, grabbed the coffee, put it between his legs, re-settled the crutches and wheeled himself inside.
I guess a guy's gotta have his priorities straight.

I have also seen the weird skeleton lady three times this morning. I usually only get to see her once a week or so. What a treat.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Oh. My. Gosh.

I'm tempted to say something terrible like, "This guy always needs to be the center of attention." Or, "He's more high maintenance than me."
But I won't.
Depression is a serious thing. We shouldn't joke about it.


I had a really funny blog prepared in my head for today, but then I got to work and had two messages* waiting for me about how I screwed up (everything. in. my. entire. life.), which, combined with my evening last night has sapped my energy and humpr.
(Upon final re-reading: I'm choosing to leave that typo just where it is, because it's helping bring back my humor just a little. LOL--Bring back the humpr!)
It was a blog about my favorite radio station and that they are having their annual fundraising event. There are no commercials, which I really enjoy, so they have to fund their costs with pledges and public support. I was even going to go into a long tangent on how PBS raises money and we used to wach Anne of Green Gables every year and cry and cry because we knew Matthew was going to die--and he always dies. But, the long and short of the blog is that I could never be a host for one of these events.
Host A said, "Are you ready for another full-day pledge?? Can you handle it?!?"
Host B said, "Absolutely! I can take it! Yeah!"
I would have said, "No thanks, I'm full."
Host A said, "It's time to celebrate! We've reached our hourly goal!"
Host B said, "Hooray! I'm so excited!" (Or something like that.)
I would have said, "Cool. Can we head to the bar now?"

See? I wouldn't be very good at it.
So, that's what I was going to blog about today, but now I don't feel like it.
I'm going to go back to hiding in my cube.

Hiding in my cube,
just can't do anything right.
Something's gotta give.

*Just got a note from the person who was upset with me--everything worked out ok, but I'm not changing the blog because I think it's sort of funny.

Monday, September 25, 2006

The Stress Factor

This has been an incredibly challenging two weeks--mentally and spiritually.
I was so stressed-out at one point that I couldn't make my fingers work right--couldn't grab stuff, couldn't type, couldn't dial the phone.
Hel-LO anxiety.
But, I think my stress levels are going back to a normal level. Know how I know?
I just caught and killed a fly with my bare hands.
I couldn't focus enough to do that last week, so I take it as a good sign. Not, for instance, as a sign that I might be SO high-strung, and over-worked, and stressed that I have turned into a killing machine. Surely not.

I'm doing better--
Call me Mr. Miagi!
I need stress control!

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Heeeere's Your Blog

You know the Jeff Foxworthy thing, "Heeere's Your Sign"? Some days I hear a little voice in my head saying, "Heeere's Your Blog!"
This morning, I was in the ladies' room, which, between the hours of 7-9am is a very busy place here at work.
I was checking my teeth and hair in the mirror when one of my favorite co-workers walked in. I've always suspected she was a wild woman and what I heard today confirmed it. She's about 50-55 and always appears to be very put together.
She came into the bathroom and greeted me and then a friend of hers from another department.
They started to talk while I primped and listened. The beginning of their conversation was fuzzy to me, but it must have started with something like, "I'm so tired today! I have to make sure I look ok--matching shoes, check. Matching shirt and pants, check. Shirt buttoned, check."
It went on like this for a few moments.
Then, my co-worker said, "Last week I tucked my skirt into my pantyhose. It was so embarassing."
Her friend said, "Oh, that happens to everyone! Don't worry about it!"
She said, "I know...but I wasn't wearing any underwear."
That's when all sound stopped--like when someone drags the needle across the record. Complete silence.
Heeere's your blog.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

It's like groceries but shorter.

"Grosh! Grosh! I know it! It's Grosh! Listen to me! Grosh! Wait--no....Russian! If you live in Russia, you're A RUSSIAN!"
The marriage retreat was a wonderful opportunity for grosh between Richard and I.

Friday, September 15, 2006


Earlier today I was transporting several boxes by way of a hand dolly...or whatever those things are called. One of my co-workers asked if I'd give him a ride. Har, har.
The joke isn't a very funny one but it reminded me quite pleasantly of the day we moved Grandma Shirley out to the farm to live with Gram.
I was young--like 12 or 13, and my mom had somehow convinced what I thought were the two CUTEST boys in the entire church to help us move her.
She asked Adam Hart and Josh Schettle.
My young, pre-pubescent heart was likely to explode. I had such a crush on both of them that I didn't know which one to blush over more. They were both so tall and old and mysterious and handsome; unlike FCC's other very crushworthy boys like Ben Holsteen and Derrick Hagen, both equally cute, but lacking the mysterious quality Josh and Adam seemed to possess.
Looking back on the day, they were probably paid $50 each to work like horses, and I specifically remember stopping at Hardee's for lunch, so it wasn't like the "perks" of the job were even very good. But they were happy workers and spent the entire day with us helping to move, which, I think is quite admirable for a guy of maybe 15 (??).
The day wasn't completely mischief-free, though. At one point, I looked out into the hall of the apartment complex we were moving her out of, and found Josh and Adam giving each other rides on the hand dolly as FAST as they could go up and down the hall without making a sound.
(It was a complex full of elderly people and the three of us had been severely warned NOT to make any noise).
Before I knew it, I was on the dolly myself, holding on for dear life as Josh panted in my ear as we raced down the hall. I'll never forget Adam whisper-yelling behind us, "If you hurt her, I'll kill you!" Such protective ownership! I swear to you, it's a miracle I didn't die of a massiave coronary then and there.
Josh, of course (this will come as no surprise to any of you who know him), never said a word to me the entire time--the entire day, in fact.
What a fun, random memory!

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Sleep Schedules

On Sunday night, I laid awake most of the night. I'm still not sure why, but I think it's mostly because I got all wound up working on my story and then couldn't relax.
There's nothing worse than not being able to sleep--it didn't used to be very unusual for me to lay awake for hours at a time and I got used to it after a while. I don't know if it's because I got married or because I am getting older, but now it is very rare for me to lay awake more than oh...two minutes after my head hits the pillow, so I had FORGOTTEN how much it sucks to stare at the ceiling until 4 in the morning.
I did everything--I thrashed, I tossed and turned, I sighed and snorted, I elbowed and kicked. I did anything I could think of to "accidentally" wake Richard up. All I wanted was to TELL someone I couldn't sleep. Even the dog and cat didn't move when I finally got up to watch info-mercials. I flipped back and forth between Bowflex and that little silver blender one--you know the one where they make omelets and drinks and muffins and pesto/garlic sauce in one little blender? I didn't buy anything, though I wanted to. Think how FIT I could be if I had the Bowflex in our basement and the handy-dandy blender to make all kinds of healthy foods upstairs!!! I decided it probably wasn't a very wise use of our money.
As a result of my night o' insomnia, I haven't recovered all week. I've been a freaking walking zombie and just can't seem to get back on track. I can't WAIT to go on the marriage retreat to spend some much needed one-on-one time with my honey and R.E.L.A.X.
Also, I was asked to join the synchronized swimming. Thank goodness I got a new bathing suit!
The conversation went like this:
Kristen: Hey, do you want to join us for synchronized swimming?
Erin [unabashed glee]: Um, YES.

I'll keep you posted.

This haiku series is dedicated to both infomercials and the marriage retreat. Enjoy.

Don't need no Bowflex.
Don't need no crazy* blender.
Just my man and me!

The Marriage Retreat

is finally here. Dive in!
It's synch or swim time!

*The word AWESOME could be substituted here.

Yes. That was a good one.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006


I think the title of my blog should have been "You Can't Make This Shit Up,"** because I've got another one for you.

I had dinner with my sister and her roommates tonight, and Bia told a story about visiting Caribou Coffee. She was visiting with a friend near a window that looked out over the patio when they noticed 3 (?) kids sit down outside. They were dressed very strangely--in army fatigues and leggings and leg warmers. They had tattoos on their faces, and they looked more filthy than the two dogs they had with them (which had collars with tags and leashes, thus making it look as if they couldn't possibly be homeless). Bia and her friend watched one of the kids rummage through the garbage and fish out a used coffee cup, which, they both assumed (probably as you are) that they were going to use to give the dogs water.
If that's what you were assuming too, you would be very, very wrong.
Instead of filling the cup for the dogs, Bia and her friend watched in horror as the vagabonds (heh) produced a can of pumpkin pie filling (the un-seasoned kind), open it up, dump it into the coffee cup, stir it up with whatever was left in the bottom and proceed to pass it around the circle until it was gone.
Then they left.

Now just wait a minute and let the HORROR of what I've just written wash over you.

Lauren suggested that perhaps they were just getting into the "autumnal spirit."

The truth is that the story poses more questions than it answers.
Do ponder it for the day--I know I will.

**But none of you would have listed me on your FaithCom Bloggy Blogger thingy.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Career Woman

I just had a really great meeting with Arnie.
Turns out, he likes me and thinks I'm doing a great job. Who knew?
He asked me what my long term goals were for my career at 3M--where did I see myself in 20 years? This poses a bit of a problem for me, which, I don't plan to describe at my desk at the moment, but if you think hard, I'd be willing to bet that you can figure out where I'll be in 20 years.
I told him that in 20 years, I'd like to be in a job where I can really utilize my degree, which is something I am actually quite passionate about (and between you and me, there aren't a whole lot of occupational things I can say that about).
He seemed satisfied.

In other news, I've been hearing a lot of Bob Marley on the radio these days. Any ideas on why?

Monday, September 11, 2006

Cow Farts?

In or around 1929, Gram and Grandpa Cliff moved from Chicago to an Indiana farm with their two children, Charles and Shirley. The Great Depression had driven down Cliff's wages at his "good job in the hospital as a biologist" to the point where they could no longer afford their rent.
Cliff's brother (?) owned a farm in Indiana and it was a safe place to "just exist," as Gram put it this afternoon at the farm, until they could weather the storm and get back on their feet financially. They were bound and determined to never go looking for help from the government, and never did.
They didn't know anything at all about farming and looking back on it now, the entire thing is more a nightmare than adventure to Gram. There were no fences for the cattle, of which ther were precious few and scarce enough money to purchase any more, were apparently allowed to wander aimlessly in the barnyard and near the farm. This didn't turn into a problem until they got into the green oats one day.
Cattle are never supposed to eat green oats, because for some reason it makes them swell up with gas--like balloons. So, of course, the cattle swelled up like balloons.
Gram's father happened, luckily, to be visiting, and knew exactly what to do. He sterilized a pocketknife and stuck the first cow in her belly. As the gas escaped, it sounded like a balloon flying around the room as the air runs out of it.
They stuck each cow.

You can't make this shit up.

Gram told me this story today when I went to visit, and we both cried with laughter. What a secret and lovely treasure I possess living up there "just existing" in that little house in Northern Wisconsin.

Thursday, September 07, 2006


Interestingly enough, Naomi's post, "Beautiful" much better describes my sentiment in my post, "Women."
Check it out.


Here's something interesting.
Take a few minutes to flip through the women on this list.
It's interesting that so many of the world's most powerful 100 women are not American. At the risk of sounding feminist I'd like to point out that it's a little sad and strange that Chile, New Zealand, Jamaica, Bangladesh, Israel (vice pm), Finland, Phillipines, Liberia, Latvia, Greece, South Korea, Jordan, Mozambique...on and on, all have presidents or prime ministers that are women. I didn't intend for the list to be so long, but once I got going, it was a bit startling. Perhaps I'm acting under stereotypes I've created in my own mind, but many of those countries do not immediately strike me as the kind of places that encourage women to succeed and move forward.
Note also that countries like Afghanistan, China, Singapore, Nigeria have women in positions of serious power! Not to mention all the female leaders in the UK and other European countries (France! Hel-LO)!
Two American leading women that caught my attention were the host of the "Today Show," and the executive for Playboy. Yay America. What's our problem? Why do women of Third World Countries and countries that (in our minds) are completely anti-feminist (I think if I tried, I could come up with a better way to describe it, but you know what I mean), end up as the movers and shakers of the world--absolutely no pun intended--while American women are powerful because of their jobs on TV or at Playboy?
(To be fair, there are some impressive American women on the list, too...but that defeats my point.)
Just a thought.

Now, I have mixed feelings on this, because I have to wonder--what have these women sacrificed to succeed in this way? Have they given up satisfying and fulfilling lives as wives and mothers? There are things that I will never sacrifice for any job or career. I could never be happy as the president of any country or corporation--I lack the killer instinct. What is the appeal for these women?

That's my weekly rant...or something. Do scroll through the list. It's really interesting.

In other interesting news, Milwaukee ranks as the nation's drunkest city, followed closely by Minneapolis-St. Paul. Nice.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Welcome, Little Boy!

Easton James is here!!
Easton James was born to Miranda Beckenbach (my cousin) and Adam Tharp on the afternoon of Saturday, September 2, just in time for the Huskers to play. He's just a little guy weighing in at 5lb, 13oz, but he's a keeper! He has very long fingers and toes, and looks just like his granddaddy!

Welcome to our family, Little Boy! We are so excited you have finally arrived! You are the beginning of a new generation, which is no small thing. Just like King Josiah--a young king--I believe "Good Things Come in Small Packages," and you will do great things! I pray that you will be a leader among men, and a gentle and loving husband and father. Moreover, I pray that you will always turn to the Lord and trust your life in Him.
But first, let's get that nursing thing down.
I can't wait to meet you at Thanksgiving! I love you!

Tom Cruise is Crazy (and probably gay)

Cute kid, but come on...seriously.

"The Taliban are on the move again in Afghanistan. And, in other news, Suri Cruise has two eyes, a nose and a full head of hair."

Well said, Joal Ryan.

A series of haiku in honor of Baby Suri.

Tom Cruise must be gay.
It's the only thing that can
explain the weirdness.

Maybe if he would
just come out of the closet
things would make more sense.

Don't care if he's gay--
more power to him, I say.
The charade must end!