I hate that we only make resolutions at the end of each year, as we reflect back on what we didn’t accomplish (again) while looking forward to a new year of possibilities. That being said, I always play along. 

Here is my wish list for 2008:

  1. The Writer’s Strike ends on their terms; they receive fair compensation for their work via digital distribution and also earn an additional $.04 more per DVD sold.
  2. A blue president.
  3. Normal weather. More rain, fewer fires (at least in CA).
  4. A greener effort by all; environmental advances by individuals and companies alike.
  5. World peace? Peace in the Middle East?

And the personal stuff:

  1. More reading, more writing (at least 3-4 blog entries per week) & increased readership.
  2. Health and healing; full recovery from back surgery and return to an active lifestyle.
  3. The annual goals: lose weight, use that gym membership, yada yada yada.
  4. The Oakland A’s contend. That’s all. No expectations of a division championship or beyond.
  5. Fabulous family time on both continents with all 11 nieces & nephews, 5 sets of brother & sister in-laws, both pairs of parents and my hero/idol/role model (my 97 year old grandmother).

Happy New Year, friends and readers.

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A few entries ago I posted about my renewed love of reading books; that I have been turning off the laptop at night in favor of some quality nonfiction. Today, as I had the pleasure of cleaning out my personal library (note: sarcasm), I started to ponder the significance of the books we choose to keep and those we discard.

Aside: When I go to someone’s house for the first time, I love to quickly peruse 3 things: the bookcase, the CD and the DVD collection. As a Lit major, I have always been fascinated by what people read for fun and/or in their spare time. And as a pop culture sponge, music and movies are my way of assessing someone’s entertainment IQ.
Getting rid of my textbooks from college was a long overdue chore. For some reason I schlepped all of my sociology and feminism books from place to place after college. But as I spent several days on my side recovering in the guest room a few weeks ago, staring at our largest bookshelf, I realized that most of those books now merely serve as a reminder of the activism that I abandoned along with the Birkenstocks back in the early 90′s (thankfully). And I had to ask myself questions like, “will you ever really want to read The Beauty Myth again?” and “seriously, do you think you’ll revisit The Word of a Woman: Feminist Dispatches, 1968-1992?”

But of course I will never abandon certain classics and authors; their novels are always welcome, wherever and as long as I live.

I don’t really have a point.

So I will make a list of my favorites authors and/or books, because you know I can’t resist a good list opportunity.

Raymond Carver
What We Talk About When We Talk About Love: Stories
Where I’m Calling From: Selected Stories

Michael Chabon
The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay
The Mysteries of Pittsburgh
The Yiddish Policeman’s Union

David James Duncan
The Brothers K
The River Why [quite possibly my #1 book]

Nick Hornby
A Long Way Down
About a Boy
Speaking With the Angel (anthology edited by Hornby)

Michael Lewis
Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game (a fantastic look behind the scenes of building a professional baseball team, especially for an A’s fan like me)

Annie Proulx
Close Range: Wyoming Stories (includes original Brokeback Mountain short story)

Adrienne Rich [my favorite poet of all time]
The Dream of a Common Language

Sarah Waters
Tipping the Velvet

And a garden variety of other writers grace my shelves as well: Isabel Allende, Jane Austen, Melissa Bank, Michael Cunningham, Dave Eggers, Jeffrey Eugenides, John Irving, Frances Mayes, Rick Moody, David Sedaris, Alice Walker, etc.

Right now, the following books are stacked on the nightstand and awaiting my eyes (after I finish Eat Pray Love, by Elizabeth Gilbert):

  • The Man Who Heard Voices: Or, How M. Night Shyamalan Risked His Career on a Fairy Tale (Michael Bamberger)
  • A Star is Found: Our Adventures Casting Some of Hollywood’s Biggest Movies (Janet Hirshenson & Jane Jenkins)
  • Tiny Ladies in Shiny Pants (by Six Feet Under/Grey’s Anatomy writer Jill Soloway)

What? I like to alternate between entertainment industry insight and intellectually stimulating novels.  Don’t judge me.

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Oh friends, I have a confession to make. Let’s start with the good news though.

Two weeks after back surgery, I feel MUCH better. I can walk around comfortably, and sitting down for longer than 15 minutes at a time is less painful every day. I am also practicing driving, as I prepare to go back to work next week. Considering how horrible the first two days were following the procedure, I couldn’t be happier with the progress of my recovery. And believe it or not, I’m tired of feeling stoned all day (in a prescribed-medicine kind of way), so as my re-entry back into the workplace and behind the wheel approaches, I am easing off of the good stuff.

And now, for the disappointing news…at least to the 14 of you who were nice enough to enter my Recommend a Movie/Win a Movie contest. I am a bum. I haven’t watched very many of the films that you suggested. Here are some excuses.

  1. I couldn’t drive to the video store to stock up on rentals.
  2. I am somewhat cheap; my Netflix subscription is only for 1 DVD at a time.
  3. I am lazy. I started to TiVO tons of movies I haven’t seen, and VERY few of the ones you recommended have been on cable lately.
  4. I have been watching at least two episodes of Lost (Season 3) per day, taking detailed notes in anticipation of a Season 4 preview blog next month. Nerd alert!

So I am extending this contest into the new year. Even though I won’t have as much time after returning to work, I plan to watch all of your selections. Obviously it will take a few months to get through all 35 movies, so I thank you in advance for you patience!

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Happy Christmas Eve and Merry Christmas. I hope your holiday has been lovely so far. I am quite a happy camper myself, having received the following:

  • Season 3 of Lost
  • Season 3 of The Office
  • Knocked Up
  • Waitress

Combined with two seasons of The Sopranos and Season 2 of Extras, which I gave to my better half, our DVD collection has taken a major leap in the right direction.

So the strangest thing has happened; I have returned to an old but familiar hobby…reading. Actual books. For the first time in years, I am buried in books rather than glued to my laptop. Don’t get me wrong; I love reading and majored in World Literature, so perhaps I have been subconsciously rebelling against the ridiculous number of tomes that I ingested during those four years of college. And I’m sure that this renewed interest is a result of having more time on my hands than usual, and slowing down in general. But I am absolutely loving it.

I recently picked up and am in the middle of reading Eat Pray Love, which is easily one of my favorite books in recent memory. But I’ve reached the spiritual India section, and wanted something on the lighter side for the holiday.

This afternoon I took my first long walk since having surgery. I went to the bookstore and bought Candy Girl, an autobiographical and very entertaining look at a year in the life of Juno screenwriter Diablo Cody…back when she was a stripper in the Midwest. I’ve been obsessed with seeing Juno and haven’t been able to go due to physical limitations, so this was the next best thing. And let me tell you, I can’t put this one down. It is postpone-my-pain-meds-so-I-can-stay-focused good. Her writing and her story are very forthright and refreshing, and I am now certain that Cody deserves every bit of the hype being hurled in her direction. I also recommend her blog, which is just as deliciously frank.

After re-reading that I now have Knocked Up and Waitress on DVD and that I can’t wait to see Juno, it might appear that I am fascinated by pregnancy. Mere coincidence, I assure you.

Happy holidays! Let me know what your favorite gift was, and if you have any book recommendations as well.

- Jo

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I want to wish all of you and yours a very warm, safe and happy holiday. Personally, I am looking forward to a change of scenery. As much as I love this house, I am ready to leave it after spending 8 solid days within these walls.

I also wanted to thank you for bookmarking this site and reading entries throughout the year. The number of visits to this blog has increased by more than 100% from a year ago, and I am very grateful to have the eyes and support of so many friends, family and absolute strangers. I encourage you to come back in ’08, and leave comments in response to any post that you agree or disagree with! Of course I aim to make improvements, and am open to suggestions as well (content, format, etc.).

Over the next few days, I will be out of town with family. I do not know if I will have time to blog, so this may be the last entry for a week or so.

Merry merry.

- Jo

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