The Chair

Meet The Chair.

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The nametag says “FREE,” but that’s not what they call me.

The Chair leapt from a neighbor’s curb–“FREE” sign and all–and wandered home with Husband one afternoon. Despite Husband’s best attempts to convince Wife that The Chair should enter their house, it took up residence in the garage where it sat dreaming of the day it could receive a makeover and fulfill its destiny as a “Gaston chair.”

Just add horns and fur.

This is not a Gaston chair.

Everybody wants to be like the Gaston chair, but for the record, this is not a Gaston chair.

Alas, that day never came and there the chair continued to sit, taking up space. Eventually Husband grew tired of its presence in his garage gym and decided that he and The Chair needed to part ways. Wife created a Craigslist ad to list it for free and she also messaged Husband’s bachelor friends to ask if they wanted to add The Chair to their random furniture collection. This inquiry was met with a resounding negative response, and the Craigslist ad went unanswered. There the lonely chair sat at the curb for two days, unclaimed. At one point Wife returned home to find a neighbor’s child sitting in the chair, staring out into the road. Wife sent a text message to Husband’s aforementioned friends, cursing the chair and it’s curb-lingering ways, and received this tale in response:

It’s a street chair now. It will wander the streets at night looking for smack and robbing gas stations and if you try to mess with it then it will mess you up.

Fearing the worst, Husband and Wife decided that perhaps The Chair needed to take up residence at the friends’ house for a while. And so it did.

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Now I’m over here!

Husband and Wife sat giggling in the car parked two houses away as he typed out the group text message, “Good news! The Chair is no longer in our yard,” and the above photo, clearly showing it in front of the friends’ house.

The front door opened, then closed, then opened again, then closed again. Wondering why the message hadn’t elicited a stronger response, Husband and Wife decided to up the ante a bit. Husband trotted across the street to park in the chair for a photo op.

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Ahhhhh.

This too went into a text message to the friends, a taunting reminder of The Chair’s presence in their lawn. Again the front door opened, this time followed by a meeting of the four friends, who reveled in the brief tale of The Chair’s wanderings. The friends admitted that had The Chair remained in their lawn they would have kindly helped it find its way home again, along with some new associates: Discarded Desk Chair and Busted Television Set. Husband and Wife’s neighborhood HOA likely would have pitched a fit over the gathering of furniture friends in Husband and Wife’s lawn, so instead of furthering the joke they decided to return home with The Chair and relish the thought of what could have been.

A short while later someone finally responded to the Craigslist ad and decided to take The Chair to its forever home. This is where Husband, Wife, and friends parted ways with the The Chair. This also marks the end of this chapter of The Chair’s saga. We hope.

Book Review: The Martian

The MartianThe Martian by Andy Weir

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I don’t give out 5-star ratings on this site, and I just did.

I could not put this book down. The story easily sucked me in, and as soon as it ended I wanted more. Throughout Mark Watney’s ordeal I imagined myself there, I felt the feelings I imagine he would have felt, and I grew anxious time after time as things went wrong for him. I kept waiting for the other shoe to drop, then I laughed at myself for the fact that BEING STRANDED ALONE ON MARS WITHOUT PLAUSIBLE HOPE OF RESCUE in the first place wasn’t enough for me to ignore that feeling. I wanted to meet these astronauts and NASA crew members, and when the story ended I felt as though I was saying goodbye to friends. It’s not often I get this sucked into a story.

The only times I was temporarily jarred out of being completely engrossed in what was happening to Mark Watney were when his one-liners reached beyond plucky and instead felt unnaturally dismissive of exactly how crummy his situation was. I get it; joking about his situation would have helped him through spending a year and a half alone on Mars, but perhaps this went a bit too far, to the point where it felt artificial. Alternately, perhaps the absence of any real deep, negative reflection of the situation and the traumatic impact it would have on any human was what turned the plucky jokes into something unnaturally jovial. Then again, would we have kept reading if all of that had made it into the book? Too much of a downer then? Hmmm…

I’m reading some of the arguments here about the accuracy of the author Andy Weir’s jargon, math, and science, and I could see that being a problem for those among us who are astrophysicists or the like, able to fact-check in very close detail. To the lay person such as myself (who is admittedly a science/space geek, so my BS meter might be a little bit stronger than the average bear’s), I doubt that the author’s apparently well-researched references will cause any issues. For the record, I am the type of person who will quickly lose interest in a movie or book that’s meant to treat a topic seriously when it obviously fudges on its research, so this isn’t an assessment I make lightly. Perfect or no, I felt that the majority of the author’s science held at least enough water to keep this ship afloat. (In fact, I was especially sucked into the story when the Pathfinder made its entrance into Mark’s journey, as this is something I’ve actually researched in detail previously, just for fun. ha!) As soon as I finished reading the book I started searching online as a way to fact-check the author’s fact-checking, so to speak, and find out how he managed to cram so much detail into this story.

NPR’s Andy Weir interview: http://www.sciencefriday.com/segment/…

Andy Weir’s Google talk: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gMfuL…

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About Me, according to my husband

Q: What makes your wife sad?

A: Piles, my piles [of random stuff]. Also, war movies based on true stories.

Q: What was your wife like as a child?

A: OCD, probably a bit bossy. But very cute.

Q: What makes you proud of your wife?

A: Her independence.

Q: How are you and your wife different?

A: I like breaking the rules.

Q: Where is your wife’s favorite place to go?

A: “Where’s the good food?  Where’s the good sh*t happenin’?  That’s where we’ll be, yo!”

Q: If your wife were a character, which one would she be?

A: Full Metal Bitch.

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Book Review: Women, Work & The Art of Savoir Faire

Women, Work & the Art of Savoir Faire: Business Sense & SensibilityWomen, Work & the Art of Savoir Faire: Business Sense & Sensibility by Mireille Guiliano

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Maybe it’s because I read the reviews before I actually read the book, but I started out feeling very skeptical about this title. As I finished reading it and was able to spend some time reflecting, I realized that I didn’t dislike it as I thought I would. I’m also quite certain that if I were to meet the author she’d likely both terrify and completely captivate me.

I’m writing this review from the perspective of someone who operates in a world that is in many ways very different from Mireille Guiliano’s. I shy away from the big-city lifestyle that the author appears to thrive in and my career most certainly won’t be built on entertaining for a living. I can still find value in the author’s tale of success as a career woman, but I wonder if some of the negative reviews this book gets is because Mireille Guiliano clearly lives–and thrives–in a different world than a lot of us, certainly those of us reading this type of book, do, and she’s not trying to make us more comfortable with that fact.

Like the author, I also married for love and was “whisked away” from all that I knew at the time. My story, though, doesn’t involve me falling into a great job because of my language skills and cultural differences, and I highly doubt I’d ever be able (or desire) to hack it in the industry the author works in. On the other hand, her reminders to us to be assertive, to truly be comfortable with ourselves, and to perhaps dig deeper into why we’re not always okay with true competition with one another, are useful and applicable. Throughout this book, I identified parallels between her life and my own and then the two stories would veer away from one another again, perhaps to return later in some small way.

So the author appears to have walked into a few choice opportunities, but I find it difficult to justify the claim that her whole life has simply been charmed and she’s not qualified to tell “the rest of us” how it’s done because she has no idea how “the rest of us” have to make things happen. I think the author is a woman who has guts, a sharp mind, and the “savoir faire” to make things work her way. She knows what she does and does not like, and she knows what she’s good at. These are certainly things I want to be able to definitively declare about myself as I’m digging deeper in my career to determine my own long-term goals, so I appreciate that about her writing, even as I’m certain I’ll never run in the same type of circles she does.

At several points in this book I had to stop and think through some of what the author said specifically about men. Was it bashing, or merely comparing? The longer I thought about this, the more I wondered if perhaps her belief in women, and herself, as inherently better at many things, isn’t a large part of her success. That “I’m better than you mentality” can easily rub a lot of us the wrong way at first glance or meeting, but I’ve come to respect it. Still, I think I’m leaning toward calling it man bashing in this book, and that’s something I try to shy away from as I try to differentiate myself in a positive way as a woman working among men. (Can I not be excellent on my own, without comparison to someone else or advertising their shortcomings?) I had some difficulty getting past this as I read this text, so I did at several points imagine myself in conversation with the author, asking for clarification.

Certainly, don’t expect this book to be a “how to” guide to success. (I believe the author even states this somewhere near the beginning.) Alternately, there are very literal guides dropped into this book, including recipes for entertaining business colleagues and superiors as well as a detailed list of wardrobe must-haves. In this way, I think this book is a “just enough to get you headed in the right direction” type of guide. The author won’t tell you exactly what path you should take to get where you want to be, but she’ll give you enough that if you’re really interested in pursuing this, you might be inspired further to figure it out. Chances are, if you picked this title up in the first place you’re already doing some self-exploration and you’ll find the value in her story as an example of someone who has clearly done well.

If you’re on a mission to become a more polished professional woman, you might find something of value here, certainly if you’re not easily offended by someone who clearly has the guts to say things very bluntly. I did make a list of reminders and important excerpts as I read through this, so I certainly found some value in Mireille Guiliano’s wisdom and her decision to share it with us.

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Dirty Bird [dur-tee burd]

(noun). This is the guy (or gal!) who thinks it’s gonna win them a reward to shout something dirty or suggestive–and perhaps also gesticulate–out a car window at someone before speeding away. The dirty bird’s approach: fly in, swoop low, drop a load of crap, maybe strut around a little bit, then flit away, chirping merrily to the other dirty birds about what they’ve just done.

Continue reading “Dirty Bird [dur-tee burd]”