Moby Dick. The novel is daunting. It is, after all, about a whale, a behemoth, a colossus. It conjures up an image of man’s blind quest for revenge. More than one review of it includes the term “monomaniacal.” So it is with a sense of accomplishment that I am able to share that I read Moby Dick. Every single page. Of course, it was an assigned novel in my American Novels course in college. And perhaps a few of the pages were read while my eyes were shutting… But I made it a goal that I would read the entire book. And I did.
I am reminded of a time when Phyllis Newman appeared on the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson and shared her technique for impressing people at a party. She would just mention the title of some classic literature, like War and Peace… and never indicate that she hadn’t read the book. Mentioning Moby Dick would inspire awe. Or maybe not. Maybe only someone who has read the entire novel, every page, would be impressed. Others might have only perused the comic book version and aren’t aware of the tedium of completing this “work” of literature.
My dad wrote this post, and it seemed fitting to publish it the week March Madness begins. I get my competitive nature and love of sports from my dad, who coached at and was the athletic director of my high school (not at the same time), and who always advocated the importance of good sportsmanship, not only on the part of the players but also the fans. Here he writes about his own struggles with losing gracefully, or what he refers to as his demon. -Sarah
Losing . . . My Demon
“Show me a good and gracious loser and I’ll show you a failure.” -Knute Rockne
“It’s not whether you win or lose, it’s how you play the game.” -Grantland Rice
While almost all of us would prefer to have our friends and family associate us with Grantland Rice’s quote, many of us (including me) instead play like we believe in Knute Rockne’s philosophy.
All of my life I have been known as someone who loves to compete. But I’m not sure that this is true. Perhaps, more accurately, I love to win. I am, more often than not, a poor loser. I don’t want to be and I try not to be. But far too often, I am.
I don’t know about you but the past year went really fast. Actually, the past three zoomed by–didn’t I just turn 30?
I’ll be honest, I dreaded this birthday more than the past three, partly because I’m in my “Living Between” year, so it feels a little “neither here nor there.” My 30th was pretty great (and hard to top, see above link), 31 was a new “prime,” and 32 was an even number (I tend to do better in even years than odds, except the half-decades, which are fun for different reasons). I’m not at one of the milestones (the decades and half-decades), and 32, when you say it, has the nice ooo at the end, like in cute.*
For some reason 33 sounded old, not old-old but older than I feel. Like mid-thirties instead of early.** Like middle-age-is-around-the-corner. Maybe it’s because I’m not where I thought I would be at this age, or because I’m now older than my mom was when she gave birth to any of her kids.***
Despite it being the middle of winter, I did some preliminary spring cleaning this past weekend. I did all my laundry, started organizing the shelves in my closet, and cleaned out my freezer and pantry cupboards, getting rid of expired food to make room for the groceries I bought. I also found this in my drafts from when I cleaned out my Spam folder! I hope you enjoy.
These are some things I found in my Spam (my comments in blue):
Good afternoon! How wags the world? I am Kseniya. I imagine her name is pronounced “kiss-en-ya” like kissin’ ya.
I am 32 years old. I am single. I have no children. I have a university degree. These are all true for me, too.
I wish to have a person, with whom we will understand one another and share our judgments. This is also kind of true for me, although judgments might be too harsh a word. Experiences? Feelings? Dislike of Twilight/50 Shades of Grey?
I am waiting for a faithful, reliable and careful person leading a healthy lifestyle. Aren’t faithful & reliable* pretty much the same thing?
It’s not a game for me. I wish to have a serious person who is not going to play with me, too. I guess that depends on what you mean by “play.”
I hope you will answer me. Waiting for your email. Best wishes, Kseniya
I mentioned in my last post that I’ve started live-blogging bad movies with my friend, Sam, but I wanted to give you more details so you can tune in. It’s like MST3K,* the live version! For real, though, you should check it out. How it works: we watch a good-bad movie that’s currently on Netflix streaming, and you can watch along while we make live commentary. Go to Bitter Critic before 9 PM on Tuesday to find the live blog and see the week’s movie choice, then grab a snack and pull up the movie on Netflix streaming. Have the live blog up on your mobile device, laptop or tablet and the comments should load as we go.
Hello! It’s been a while. Lots of things have happened in the past month; I’m so sorry I haven’t written about them. Even though we didn’t have much snow, I was in a flurry of activity. But I’ve missed you.
Shortly after my last post, I went to the Governor’s Ball. It was really fun and I got to wear a ball gown/bridesmaid dress from seven years ago – and it still fit! More important, however, was the fact that because I went to the Governor’s Ball I did not go to my parents’ house for the weekend, which ended up saving my life because the next time I drove, my brakes started failing. Unfortunately, I was on my way to work (and not, you know, on a cushiony path with no other cars around), but luckily, there’s an auto care place right by where I work, and I managed to make it there before the brakes failed completely.
Sadly, the brake repair would cost more than I’m willing to spend, and it’s time for me to say goodbye to my little Toyota. I’ll probably have a post about that coming soon, but here’s one last shot from when she hit 160,000 on the odometer this past November.
The brake issue happened the same day I was trying to get 32,000 ballots printed to be sent out for work, and one of the people printing them told me he had to throw away 4,000 ballots. Needless to say, it was not my best day.
The week after that was much better, because I was on vacation! My friend Sara (of Peru and other adventures) and I went to the Cayman Islands for a week with her parents (they have a time share there). I read four books and got a nice tan. I didn’t do any work, though, so no blog posting (sorry). We saw sharks and sting rays in their natural habitat, along with iguanas, starfish, and lots of brightly colored fish. Sara and I went sea kayaking at night to see the bioluminescence. Although it wasn’t as bright as I thought it would be, we did get to see disco shrimp, which light up as a warning. They might be my new favorite animal. It was a great trip, and I had a hard time coming back.
But I did come back, and I had a lot of things to catch up on. Namely, my car, which is finally being taken to a salvage yard today. It’s bittersweet. I’m sad that she’s no longer drivable, but it makes me feel better that someone else isn’t driving her either because if I had sold her before now I’d always wonder if she could have lasted longer. (Yes, she’s a she; her name is Pegala.)
The ballots got stuffed and sent, and there don’t appear to have been too many issues. My coworker made me my own box of cupcakes as a reward for being done. I made it a year at my job and celebrated by sending my coworkers cookies while I was away. (It seemed only fair since I was on vacation on the actual day, and they were helping with the ballots while I was gone.)
My bathroom flooded the Tuesday after I returned, so I was without a toilet overnight. Thankfully, that seems to be resolved, but it wasn’t exactly the welcome back I hoped for. Especially since Tom Servo and Crow didn’t seem to miss me that much.
Speaking of which, the biggest thing that’s happened in the new year is that I’ve started live-blogging bad movies a la MST3K. It’s really fun and I’ll post more about it on Thursday, but look for more related posts to come (with links!). And some guest posts.
I know this isn’t my usual day to post, but I wanted to have something up as soon as possible. And I should have another one on Thursday, plus additional ones next week. So, check back again soon!
…at the end of this post.*
For those of you who are just tuning in: my friend Stacia and I have had a theme for each year since 2007. They started as dating-related themes (Say Yes in 2007, followed by Go With Your Gut in ’08***) but I’ve found myself applying them to other aspects of life. I said yes to a lot of things in 2007 that weren’t dates, and most of them were good. Others were 2010: Quality Over Quantity; Hit Me With Your Best Shot, 2011; Be Kind, 2012, Be Kind; and Explore the Possibilities in 2013. We can’t remember 2009’s theme, but it was a doozy and we were successful at it so that’s all that matters.
I realized that I told you in the last post that Tom Servo got a Santa hat, but didn’t show you, which was an unintentional teaser.
He’s been wearing it nonstop since I got back (it fits perfectly!) and now has been asking if he should grow a beard. Thank you so much Libby and Matthew for the thoughtful gift!
Here are a few photos from my family Christmas that didn’t make it into the last post either. No surprise, you could find me at the kids’ table.
I certainly had fun, near and dear ones, and I got to see special people, old and young.* Very Merry Christmas, and Happy New Year!
Here’s what I’ve done (including some events from earlier in December):
I did lots of holiday baking. My friend Charlie hosted a cookie swap (everyone brings a recipe they make and at the end we each have an assortment).
Some recipes fared better than others. But at the end, everything looked (and tasted) great!
Hey guys! I wrote this flash essay and it’s on the Brevity blog as part of their Holiday Smiles contest. Click on the link to go to the Brevity blog web page, then make sure you’re in the page for this post so you can vote and comment there. Like it, share it, tweet it, post it on Facebook, email it around, etc. because the fan favorite wins a prize! Thank you! The contest runs through December 31, so if you want to submit, you still have some time. Thank you! – Sarah
Originally posted on BREVITY's Nonfiction Blog:
Another Christmas Smile:
I sit on Gram’s lap drowning in a maroon velour sailor dress, feet curled in white tights, not yet of walking age. Gram’s graceful, piano-playing fingers rest on my leg, her pointer upraised behind the bow of my dress, caressing the fabric. Her right arm supports me, the seventh of her thirteen grandchildren, although I turn ten months old tomorrow and have long been able to sit up on my own, to scoot around after my older brother.
Gram and I face each other, matching smiles on our faces. It’s hard to believe it’s Christmas because the room’s empty except for us and whoever’s behind the camera. We take no notice of this mysterious person; Our smiles are only for each other.
Next Christmas my mom will be pregnant with my sister. Later Christmases we’ll all file down into the basement around the fake tree, which stands…
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