September 9, 2017 at 2:17 pm (In So Many Words) (, , , , , , , , )

Pre-Harvey I had made a plan. I now had Fridays off from work and I was going to get on the review writing routine again. I had planned to post a review and a book related blog article every Friday and fully embrace my life as a bibliophile.

Then Harvey happened.

I did what all good Texas women of the Gulf Coast do: I checked my back up water supply (ten already filled gallons which had been stored in the spring for potential summer hurricanes), I made sure we had food (the canned goods closet for such occasions was already stocked by my mother), I filled up my gas tank (it was only on half and that’s when I fill up usually anyway), I stopped by the ATM and made sure I had some emergency cash. I explained the process to my six year old as we deep cleaned the house (if you’re going to be stuck inside for a few days, you want everything spotless). I knew I was forgetting something, but I couldn’t put my finger on it until the next day when I started craving pie. Bake. All good Southern girls bake during a hurricane. We made a cherry pie.  If you scroll through a southern Facebook feed, you’ll see an awful lot of cookies and cakes too.

We made it through the rain and the wind. We prepared a tornado closet under the stairs during the warnings. I had the go bags with extra clothes, provisions, and toiletries already packed. I even packed an emergency go-homeschool bag so we could continue school work.

I watched the west fork of the San Jacinto rise. Conroe opened the flood gates and I watched the river rise some more.

Tuesday morning, my street that didn’t even flood in the Great Flood of 1994, had water so high that when my friend in a truck came to get my daughter and I (because my car, Nigel, is not an appropriate one to escape in such weather), that he had to borrow a boat.

A picture is worth a thousand words, so enjoy this one of kiddo:


The water would later reach this man’s waist. Let’s gloss over our adventures in taking shelter at the church where kiddo had an absolute blast and the dog made all sorts of new best friends. (Seriously, we actually had a lot of fun there.) To the part where my car, Nigel, was completely flooded and is completely totaled and molded. The house got 13 inches.

And yet, God provides and we are well.

God blesses through amazing people. By the grace of God and generous friends I am now driving Irma-Joan. My lovely friend Shelly Veron hosted a GoFundMe which met its initial goal of $3k to cover a down payment, and has raised it to help me cover future car payments. I could not ask for more amazing and wonderful people in my life during and after the storm.

I am back to work, and my parents are renovating the house. We made it through everything safe and sound and I’m currently residing with my best friend. God is Good, even when the world feels like crap. And people are kind and gracious, especially when the world feels like crap.



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Spend the Holidays with Pout-Pout Fish

November 14, 2015 at 1:00 am (Reviews) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

613r-T9OAbL._SY494_BO1,204,203,200_Title: The Not Very Merry Pout-Pout Fish

Author: Deborah Diesen

Illustrator: Dan Hanna

Kiddo and I fell in love with The Pout-Pout Fish about three years ago when we discovered The Pout-Pout Fish in the Big-Big Dark.  We had a slight aversion to the possibility of “baby talk” in the writing, but were won over by the fun poetry and the fabulous underwater illustrations. (Read my original post here.)

In addition to our joint love of underwater children’s stories, Kiddo has taken on a serious love for Christmas that can be countered only by my mother’s.  These two, I’m not kidding, have enough Christmas spirit for the entire nation. All of America could abandon the idea of Christmas altogether and my kid and her grandmother would still have us all covered. (I’m a little more ba hum bug, but you know – yin and yang and all that.)

So you can imagine our excitement when the publisher sent us a copy of The Not Very Merry Pout-Pout Fish.

“The Pout-Put Fish is like SANTA!” the kiddo exclaimed, seeing his very merry Santa hat atop his very un-merry face.  We’re not Santa promoters in our house – in the modern day sense that has become tradition, but rather in the currently untraditional traditional sense where we talk about the history of the original Santa stories and how the legend of a good man became a magical myth.  Yet, with all our reading and exploration of wonderful tales and things that promote vivid imaginations, we’ve fallen in love with stories like the Rise of the Guardians by William Joyce and so on…

Come the holidays, we have another household tradition.  We like the concept of four gifts (or gift categories that promote specific, well-thought out gifts in moderation): What You’ll Wear, What You’ll Read, What You Want, and What You Need.  So as a parent of such a household, I especially love the line, “And his gifts had meaning/ Plus a bit of bling-zing/ And his each and every friend loved/ Their just-right thing.” No meaningless haphazard gift giving for the Pout-Pout Fish! (Thank you, for that, Deborah Diesen, it truly does mean so much to us.)

“Can we read it again tomorrow?” Kiddo asked when we were through.

“Of course.”

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Forget About It

February 21, 2010 at 10:45 pm (Reviews, The Whim) (, , , , , , , , , , , )

I just finished reading Caprice Crane’s Forget About It, a little romantic comedy about a girl with the worst life ever and to top it all off, gets hit by a car while on her bicycle and decides to suffer from fake amnesia to give her life a new starting point. Although it’s set in New York and has a bit of You’ve Got Mail quirkiness, it feels so familiar and southern. Probably because I’m southern and if it feels homey and familiar it must be southern! Which is just a fault of my own, not a fault of the writer’s. Not quite as hilarious as her debut Stupid and Contagious, but quite funny nonetheless, it was a much needed break from the doom I’ve been feeling while reading Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment. I sped through it in a delightful day off and still had time to get my chores done. Caprice Crane truly is the best at romantic comedy (a genre I am not too fond of unless the characters are in long flowing dresses and top hats) as she actually does keep me in stitches and does make me believe the happy couple should indeed have a happy ending. Jane Austen would be proud despite all its contemporary pop culture because Crane, like herself, is a master of the absurd and a breath of fresh air.


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February 11, 2010 at 1:07 am (In So Many Words, Reviews, The Whim) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

(Book Review meets a Life Review)

Jasper held my hand as we eyed curtains at Dillard’s. I said “Oooh” and she “Awed” a moment, and then continued on. Bustling through the food court on the second level, she stopped and looked at me and began to giggle, “We know our way around by food and draperies. We’re fat old women, Andi, fat old women whose husbands are either dead or really, really rich and having an affair.”

We had continued walking and I tried to picture that, looking into the window of some overpriced clothing store geared towards people our age… the twenty-one and almost twenty, actually more for the sixteen to twenties to be correct. I looked at our slender bodies, linked together at the elbow as we walked hurriedly through the one place we despised equally – the mall.

What would it be like to have a really, really rich husband who was having an affair? Probably because you were overweight and did know your way around the mall by the food court and the draperies, a little too well. That would be awful.

A man on the sidewalk told us we had beautiful eyes as we burst out of the palace of materialism and into the warm autumn sun. It was too hot outside to be November.

In the car, we probably played Bright Eyes. Jasper was obsessed with them. Jasper was “obsessed” with everything she liked. She didn’t just like The Nightmare Before Christmas, she had a collection of Jack dolls. She didn’t just like Bright Eyes, she had to go to all their shows. She didn’t just like men, she had to devour them – and Jasper needed a good ‘wing man’ (one like myself). That’s how I found myself going to shopping malls with her arm in arm, listening to songs like “Lover I don’t have to love” as loud as the stereo would go, and hanging out at karaoke bars on Maple Point.

November 17, 2006, finishing one of the many books I dived into post college-graduation, Narcissus Ascending, I sat stunned by how reminded of Jasper I was. I felt like Karen McKinnon took a year of my life and hyperbolized (if that’s not a word, it should be) it into two hundred and twelve pages.

Jasper would catch you with her eyes; men fell towards those thick dark lashes batting around the intoxicating green of her iris. I’d watch her then touch their arm while saying something witty, rude, seductive, or maybe all three simultaneously. Before they knew what hit them, they had caught her scent, rich perfume, hair product, and what my virgin self assumed was sex. It was a good scent, a teasing scent; years later friends would mutter to themselves or to each other in crowds, “I thought I just smelled Jasper.” She stays with you, a sexual assault on all your senses at once – I don’t remember seeing anyone meet her for the first (second, third, fourth…) time without seeing their face express just that feeling.

With Jasper, there usually came drinking, drinking to be with her, drinking to get away from her. Many of my liquor experiences I either associate with her, or I blame on her, I blame my blaming on being histrionic. She would like that, me letting her be my bad guy, knowing that its what I do as to not dismiss her from my life entirely; even if I never speak to her again, she would at least have my guilt. She’d say something like, “Oh Andi, its because you’re histrionic like me. Here, I’ll blame you, too. Let’s blame each other, it’ll be fun.” We’d make a joke of it or something, and tell people in each other’s presence, maybe when introducing or being introduced, “This is Andi, I love her, she’s wonderful, I blame her for all my problems. We’re both histrionic.” Or vice versa, “This is Jasper, I love her, she’s awesome, and she’s the bane of my existence.” Everyone would laugh and find it funny, because we’re crazy enough to find that funny, and everyone else would be drunk and have no idea what we were talking about.

In that way she conquers us all, becoming her own legend. If she read my book, which she would if it got published, she would hate me for these words, call me up, disown me as a friend, call me a bitch at what I have done to her, saying she didn’t think I would say something like that about her. Or maybe, she’d do the opposite, call me up and tell me she loved me and thought my book was wonderful. Either way she would really love it, knowing that the world now knows who she is, she would tell stories about her bitchy friend who wrote about her in her bitchy book. If she ever did get mad about anything I wrote, she’d probably call back later and want me to explain, forgive me without saying the words and love me all over again. She would be proud. So, I have to be honest. It would be easy to say she’s like Callie, that she’s that screwed up and leave it at that, and it would be easy to pretend I’m Becky, capable of walking away.

But Jasper is Jasper and even if I can’t be around her all the time like I was then, I’ll still always love her somewhere in the strange corners of my heart. I needed her friendship then, I needed her so I could still be the good one, the tease, and the better person. My sister even told me that after she met Jasper, told me that I needed her because I don’t like things being my fault, because I needed to get a mean streak out of me, but I didn’t want to be responsible for my actions. I let Jasper lead. I handed her the reigns for almost a year. And then I was done, and when I was done, I was able to say I had done those things because of Jasper, even if it was only half true, even if it wasn’t true at all.

My friend Danielle thinks I read her wrong, because I’m usually good at knowing people when I see them. I didn’t. Jasper was exactly what I thought she was, and I was narcissistic enough to want her to be my friend because of it. Just like my first boyfriend, who wanted me around because it made him feel better, in the end he knew things couldn’t go on that way because in the end it just makes everyone feel worse. In the end, we all realize we’ve been narcissists at some time or another, falling in love with our own reflections – or the reflections we created for other people to see.

We’ve grown up since then. I married my love, she married her’s – and no they are not cheating on us and we are not fat old ladies shopping for drapes. But I can’t see drapes without giggling or hear Bright Eyes without sulking, and we still call each other every few months to make sure that one isn’t up to no good without the other.

Karen McKinnon’s book still sits on my shelf. I’m quite certain I’ll never read it again, but I like having it around.  Buy it here:

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First Book of the Year

January 2, 2010 at 1:22 am (Reviews, The Whim) (, , , , , , )

Its 2010, I’m sure everyone is mentioning it, and I’m sure many have a hangover and a ton of resolutions.  I don’t, on either count.  I only had a bit to drink last night, not a lot, and I’ll carry on through 2010 pretty much as I did in 2009.  I have goals, but they are not set because its a new year, instead because that is how I function on a regular basis – lists and goals.

So carrying on in the good old Andi fashion, I read a book today.

I re-read an old favorite from my school days, A Separate Peace by John Knowles.  I remember everyone complaining about it in class and thinking that it was brilliant and amazing and wonderful.  I thought reading it again over a decade later might somehow alter my views, but my ideas on the book are unchanged.  I found the students at Devon just as fascinating and hurtful as before, I found Finny just as radiant, and Gene just as sad.  I love their coming of age experiences every time.

Except now, I have a sequel to look forward to – something I didn’t have when I read the book for the first time twelve years ago because I was unaware of its existence.   Now, I have a copy of “Peace Breaks Out” on my nightstand and cannot wait to see what life-changing stories Devon has in store for me!

What was your first book for 2010?

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