Wednesday, February 23, 2011


I just finished Room by Emma Donoghue, and boy did that freak me out. Remember a couple years ago when that guy in Austria had locked that woman up and kept her in a room for years and they'd had kids and it was a huge mess? When I heard that story, I was horrified of course, but also curious about the mechanics of keeping a woman and children hidden for years. Room answers some of those questions. And also, the narrator is a 5 year old boy, which is both interesting and frustrating.

Basically, this little boy, Jack, and his mother, Ma, have been kept in an 11x11 reinforced garden shed. The mom was kidnapped when she was 19, and has been there for 7 years. And all day, every day, she and her little boy are stuck. Anyone who has spent 10 minutes with a toddler knows how limited their attention spans are and how difficult it is to entertain them, but this mom has been doing it all by herself for years. And except for the bad scary kidnapper, his mom is the only person Jack's ever seen. I thought the author was so creative to show the different things they did every day - they have 5 books, and the mom has invented all sorts of games and activities to keep the kid occupied. They have P.E. time, and the mom has taught him all the songs and stories she knew from her life before she was kidnapped. They have a T.V., but they only watch for a little bit a day. Can you even imagine? No privacy, no alone time ever, but also your only human contact is with your 5 year old and your kidnapper.

No spoilers here, because it happens pretty early on, but they do escape, and if possible, things got even more interesting. From a psychology perspective, I loved how they addressed issues I never would have thought of - Jack has crazy spatial problems, because he's never been outside of the room. Because he's not used to being in bigger spaces, he's always falling and walking into things. He's never seen stairs before, and he can't walk down them. He gets horribly sunburned. He has no idea how to relate to people, and his speech patterns are completely off, because he's not used to referring to anyone besides his mom and the bad guy.

This book really stuck with me. I read it in about a day and a half, just to get through the intense parts of the story, and then I went back and read parts of it again for more detail/thinking time. I love a book that has interesting characters, so it was a get-under-my-skin kind of read because after I was done reading, I had a burning desire to know more. What happens to Jack? Does he forget his early years? Does he grow up succesfully? Even more, I wanted to know about the mom. I would read the whole book again from her perspective. I had a book when I was in middle school that was called Sisters/Hermanas and one side of the book was from the perspective of a rich white girl, and then you flipped it upside down and read it from behind, and it was the story of a poor prostitute. Both sides led up to their eventual meet-up. Long story short, I wish Room was like that, with one side being the mom's story. What happens to her too?

No real complaints - when a book makes me physically uncomfortable, the writer is doing her job. If you're in the mood for some claustrophobia, pick this one up. Read it by a window.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Poor Form

I am probably the worst blogger ever. Last entry was in August, seriously?? I get really excited to write, and I plan all sorts of things to blog about, but then I go to work, or I read, or I fall asleep on my couch watching The Daily Show...I never make it to the interview! But now that my pesky Master's degree is out of the way, and I'm starting to spend a couple of hours less on my job a day, I think the blogging needs to come back. Writing is good for your brain, and it's no secret I need a hobby. As any athletic experience, needlework, scrap booking, darling crafts, and any other domestic arts are eliminated due to my personal shortcomings, the hobby shall be blogging.

This year, Matt and I are trying to do new things, and I'm keeping track of all of them in a leather bound book. (seriously) We each have a page for books we have read, movies we've seen in the theaters, fun places we've gone, and new restaurants we've tried. What perfect fodder for my blogging pleasure! Today's topic shall be: food you pay for by the pound.

I'm really into this concept. Looking back, I think my love affair began with the weigh-and-eat Hy-Vee salad bar. Easy, yummy, and healthful (?). But now it's all about the frozen yogurt. There are several new places around town that have fro-yo, as we cool kids call it, for sale by the ounce. It's a fantastic concept, especially for picky eaters with a sweet tooth. You just can fill as much of whatever flavor you want. I like to keep it traditional - swirled chocolate and vanilla, or chocolate and peanut butter, or chocolate and raspberry. I do like a little dollop of an experimental flavor too though, like red velvet cake. Then you get to go to the topping bar and pile on whatever chopped candy, cereal, fruit, or sauces you like. Then they weigh it and give you a price. Genius!

When I was in college, a group of friends decided we would go to what we believed was an informal Mexican restaurant called Gaucho's. We realized we were mistaken when we saw the waiters in ties and the white tablecloths. What we had mistaken for a place to go to in shorts and order chicken nachos and possibly a pitcher of margaritas was actually a Brazilian churrasco steak house, where enormous slabs of meat were brought to us speared on swords. It was an expensive mistake, too...chunks of meat on swords do not come cheap. But what do you do if you are in the mood for delicious churrasco but don't have the money or time for the weaponry? Fazenda Brazilian Grill, my friends. Located by the Borders where the Planet Sub was before it burned down, we ended up there last week because we saw it from the highway and were hungry. We imagined a sit-down place, so picture our delight as we realized it was a buffet set-up that charged by the pound. It still had all the cold salad bar, and some hot appetizers, but then you got to go stand in front of a roaring grill and direct the friendly carvers to pile whatever meat you desired on your plate. Especially yummy were the chicken drummettes and some kind of provolone sirloin. And when you were done loading your plate, they weighed it and rang you up. We had two full plates and two drinks for about $20. Definitely recommended, and would definitely go back.

To show that I don't spend all my time eating, next time I'll definitely write about some of the fine fiction or award nominated movies I have been watching.