Archive | September, 2009

Book Report – The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

29 Sep

This is one of those topics where I feel a little silly contributing my voice to the discussion. At this point, what is there to say about The Hunger Games that hasn’t already been said?

But contribute I must. Because this book was awesome.

Imagine a future in which the government is so strict that once a year, it hosts a reality television show in which contestants must fight to the death. There can be only one winner. Contestants can be as young as 12. The contest is naturally biased against the impoverished, and contestants have no preparation for whatever challenges may exist within the arena. It’s simple kill or be killed.

When I was younger and fell within the target demographic for young adult fiction, YA novels like this simply didn’t exist. They were all about boys or shopping or social aggression or the various trials and tribulations of high school. I have no problem with books like that, in truth, but I was living it. I didn’t want to read about it too. Back then, there was simply no young adult fiction that was this complex, or this dark… and make no mistake about it, this story is dark. I have frequent nightmares, but they’re usually peculiar things… all my teeth falling out, or Seth Green chasing me with a scythe while spitting bees out of his mouth (seriously). Never before have I had a nightmare due to the book I was reading before bed. And never before have I had a nightmare quite so bone-chillingly awful, might I add. I dreamed I was in The Hunger Games; I dreamed I was losing, and I woke up in a cold sweat.

The one thing that caught me about this book: Toward the end, the remaining two contestants hatch a plot that, had it not been a ruse to begin with, could have devalued The Hunger Games and stopped it in its tracks. It would have come at great personal cost, but it would have been a fantastic coup. However, it would have left little room for a sequel. From what I understand, The Hunger Games is the first in a trilogy. So, while I actually found it a little disappointed that the last two standing didn’t put an end to The Hunger Games once and for all, I also understand that the author has more of a story to tell. I look forward to reading the follow ups.

Buy it, buy it, buy it.

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I won I won!

26 Sep

I hope I don’t jinx anything by telling you about my good fortune of late!

I won a draw at Booster Juice to go to Goodlife Fitness for a bit. I’m not sure if all I get is one consultation with a trainer, or something more, but either way, I won! I never win! I’m excited for that because now that the wedding is over, I do want to focus a bit on living healthier.

Hooray! I’m a winner!

That’s Incredible!

25 Sep

Steve and I were in an infomercial today.

Not one that was being taped for tv or anything, but it sure felt like it! We were waiting in line at Zellers to buy milk when an announcement came on saying that all adult customers who proceeded to the laser-lit platform in the next two minutes would be rewarded with a free gift. What we actually received was a sales pitch but it sure was awesome!

It was for a company called Euro Clean. Our free gift was a small cleansing cloth. I was awarded two because the hostess asked the crowd, “What comes after the first item?” and I was the only one to pipe up, “THE SECOND ITEM!” I also volunteered to mop up some green crayon from a piece of tile, because nobody else was stepping up to the plate. I chastised them for not participating.

Also, there was a guy there who was wayyyyy too into it. Steve thinks he was a plant. I think he was just a lonely guy.

And that was honestly the best thing that happened to me today.

Home!

22 Sep

We are home and there is so much to share… but first, dinner! And then present collection! And then shopping!

Weddings are awesome. I want to have one every weekend.

Details to come, I promise!

Mem’ries!

19 Sep

Last night was our combined bachelor/bachelorette party. I started at one bar with my friends and Steve started at another one with his, and we all met up halfway through the night to party together.

When the time came to meet up, I told Steve just to walk down Bank Street, stopping at McLaren, and we’d come out to meet them when we saw them there. Well, they walked down Bank Street… but they didn’t stop at McLaren! So we started waving and waving from our spot in the window, trying to catch someone’s attention so they’d stop. Luckily, we caught the eye of a tall, skinny chap who started waving back and peering in the window to look at us. So, I ran outside and found him and shouted, “I’M THE BRIDE!” “YOU’RE THE BRIDE!” he shouted back, and gave me a big hug. “WHO ARE YOU??” I continued shouting. “I’M ROBBIE!” “HI ROBBIE! WHERE’D THE GROOM GO?” “I THINK HE WENT THAT WAY!” And I took off running in the direction that he pointed, shouting “GROOOOOOOOM!” People laughed at me.

It was only upon reaching Steve and his friends that I realized Robbie was a complete stranger and had nothing to do with Steve’s groomsmen or the bachelor party.

Book Report – The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein

17 Sep

The Art of Racing in the Rain is one of those books that you hear about in passing, and find your interest semi-piqued, so you check it out of the library because you’re not sure you want to spend $20 on a book told from the perspective of a dog. At least, that’s what happened in my case, anyway. As it turns out, I could have just spent the money… but more on that in a bit.

Honestly, from what I knew about it before reading it, this book had a lot working against it. The idea of a story being told from a dog’s perspective is unique, sure… but it’s also a bit gimmicky. And the plot sounds melodramatic at first, involving love and death and custody battles and rampant accusations and court battles. And Ferraris. Because the lead human character is a race car driver. I’m not remotely interested in race cars, and I’m only moderately interested in melodrama. However, I am very, very interested in dogs, so that’s why I gave it a chance.

The story follows wise, charming Enzo, the aforementioned dog, and his master Denny, the aforementioned racecar driver. You learn right away that it will be a sad story, but Enzo sets you up for That Much More of an emotional reaction by detailing happier times first. I feel like I’ve already given away too much of the plot, so I don’t want to risk any serious spoilers… just know that this was a book where I was near tears at some points, laughing out loud at others. At one point, I was so angry with the story that I almost stopped reading the book, thinking that I didn’t like it. After a moment I realized it was the actual story that was provoking such a visceral reaction, not the book itself.

I love dogs. I’ve often looked at them and thought that they have so much to say; they just don’t have a way of communicating it all to us. Sometimes I think they might even be smarter than human beings. I get the impression Garth Stein thinks so too. If you’re looking for a good story that’s a bit of an emotional whirlwind, or you just enjoy reading stories told from unique perspectives, I think you’d probably like The Art of Racing in the Rain. Definitely worth buying.

The One Where I Talk About Eating Disorders Proper.

17 Sep

A recent post where I discussed body image and my opinions on where our distorted perceptions of body image come from is proving itself fairly popular. Judging by some of the search terms that have led people to it, I’m left to wonder if people are stumbling on it because they are searching for more information about eating disorders in general. As such, I’ve decided to write a post about eating disorders and disordered eating… what they are, and what you can do about them.

If you’re wondering what qualifies me to write about this, I have my B.A. in psychology, and I volunteer for a local eating disorders resource centre. I am in no way qualified to diagnose somebody’s problem for them, or even directly help someone who’s affected, but I believe I am qualified to present this information in hopes of helping someone find the help they need. Here goes…

First, let’s get the really bad stuff out of the way: Eating disorders. Eating disorders and disordered eating are not the same thing (we’ll get to the major differences in a bit). Eating disorders are a problem in the same sense that depression and anxiety are a problem. It’s not something that a person can just get over, or will themselves to recover from. It’s a medical problem, a serious one, that requires the intervention of a doctor or team of doctors. I won’t soften this for you: Your eating disorder can kill you. The stats on deaths related to eating disorders are actually disproportionately low, since the cause of death is generally not the eating disorder itself, but rather a related complication. That is to say, people with eating disorders may die of something like heart failure, as opposed to simple starvation. An eating disorder is not a weight loss strategy so much as it is a long, slow suicide.

A common belief about eating disorders is that they are all about wanting to lose weight. Not true. Eating disorders can develop out of trauma in a person’s history, or it may be a coping mechanism. For example, you can’t control the amount of schoolwork being assigned to you, nor can you really control the grades you receive on your assignments… but you can damn well control what you put into your body.

Eating disorders are extremely difficult to treat and you shouldn’t expect to be able to do it alone.

Disordered eating, on the other hand, is still sinister, but not so lethal. A person with disordered eating may, for example, restrict entire food groups from their diet (so yes, when you went on that low carb diet, you were exhibiting signs of disordered eating) or may exercise compulsively for fear of getting “fat.” Unlike eating disorders, disordered eating is more easily treated. It may have adverse health effects, but disordered eating probably won’t kill you. That said, disordered eating can progress to an eating disorder in certain individuals.

So the question becomes, what do you do in the instance that you or someone you know is suffering from disordered eating or an eating disorder? In the case of an eating disorder, I cannot stress enough how important it is that you get help. Do not think you can fix the problem yourself, whether you are the person suffering or it’s a friend you’re worried about. If you are suffering, tell somebody. There are plenty of resource centres where you can get help. Don’t be afraid to “shop around” different counsellors, psychologists, or support groups. Just because a person is a paid professional who is supposed to be able to help you, it doesn’t mean they have all the answers… it doesn’t mean that your personalities will be compatible, necessarily. There are different styles of counselling available out there; one of them is bound to work for you. Find a therapist who you like and who you trust. Try not to get frustrated if the first person you seek help from fails to give you the help you need. Keep reaching out until you get it. Don’t let financial concerns stop you from getting help. If you need a hundred thousand dollars to pay for your therapy, find a way to raise a hundred thousand dollars. I cannot stress this enough: If you are suffering from an eating disorder, you must get help from someone.

A lot of the time, I think people are looking for information on eating disorders not to help themselves, but because somebody they know has a problem, and they don’t know what to do. Here is a list of things you can do in order to support a friend suffering from an eating disorder. This list is in no way exhaustive, but it offers some starting points.

– Confront them gently, but directly, about what you’ve noticed. Don’t be accusatory (ex: “You have a problem and you need to get help!”) but rather, state what you’ve noticed and express your concern and desire to help (ex: “I’ve noticed you’ve been skipping meals lately and I’m concerned about you… how can I help?”). Try not to mention their weight specifically (ex: “You’ve gotten really thin”) as they might take this as a good thing… after all, it proves they’re losing weight, even if you don’t frame it in a positive way.

– Know the local resources and provide them with email and phone contacts.

– Watch your own mannerisms and language and keep it in check. Don’t complain about being or feeling fat. Don’t openly criticize other people on their weight or appearance. What seems like an offhand remark to you might be deeply affecting someone overhearing it.

– Know that there’s only so much you can do, particularly with regard to eating disorders (as opposed to disordered eating). People with eating disorders are often very resistant to trying to get better. You can’t force somebody to heal. All you can do is provide them with your support and contact information for professionals who can help. You have to accept the fact that by confronting your friend, you might get them angry with you… but at least you’ve opened the door to communication, and that’s what really matters. You also have to accept that if you’ve done all you can and they’re still not getting any better, that it’s not your fault. You have to take care of yourself as well. I think this is especially important for parents to realize.

So there you have it. If you stumbled across my little blog in search of information pertaining to eating disorders or disordered eating, I hope this has helped you. For further, much more detailed information, please visit NEDIC;. I am in no way affiliated with them; I simply think it’s a fantastic resource for education and information.

You Get Another One Right Away, Just Because.

15 Sep

A thought occurred to me just now, as I was commenting on someone else’s blog…

As of approximately 4 p.m. Eastern Standard Time on September 20th, 2009, I will be married to my most perfect complement. And I thought to myself, as I was commenting on Someone Else’s Blog, wouldn’t it be cool if every person who reads this comment took a second to do something wedding-y at 4 p.m. on Sunday? Blow some bubbles, light a sparkler, have a sip of champagne…

Not that I’d be there to see it or anything, but I love the idea of perfect strangers taking a moment to help us celebrate. So, I totally exploited Someone Else’s Blog to ask people to do that for us (it was a pretty popular blog, ha ha!) and I hope somebody does it!

I know I don’t have a whole lot of readers… but if you happen to be reading this, and you happen to think of it on Sunday the 20th at 4 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, do something celebratory for Steve and me, okay?

61 Days of Pure Awesome… An Update

15 Sep

Well hi.

I thought I’d update you all on the status of 61 Days of Pure Awesome. It’s going okay. Not awesome, as you might have hoped. But okay nonetheless.

Unfortunately, the major stumbling point is other people. Other people being grumpy, other people being bratty, other people being just generally sucky. I can’t control it, and I certainly can’t curl up in a little ball in my apartment to insulate myself from it… but it’s just so damn contagious, other peoples’ bad moods. I don’t really know what to do about it. I’ve tried all my usual tricks. You know some days when it just seems like everyone’s out to get you? It’s been kind of like that today and no amount of reframing the situation or trying to shrug it off seems to be helping.

On the upside, being that it’s 61 Days of Pure Awesome, I refuse to let sucky people bring down my entire day! They might have contributed to some awful moments, but a series of awful moments does not a terrible day make! …Or something like that.

In other news, I think I’m getting a cold.
Six days before my wedding.
Eff.

Oh, Get Over Yourself.

12 Sep

So I’d say being happy is a pretty big goal in a lot of peoples lives, would you agree? I mean, it seems like there are an awful lot of books and magazine articles out there geared at helping people achieve pure bliss or whatever. There even seems to be a bit of a happy backlash right now, where lots of writers are droning on about how happiness isn’t actually a permanent state one can achieve, and that the key is to appreciate the little things that together add up to a relative state of peace.

I don’t know if happiness is a permanent state that human beings can achieve or if it’s strictly a transient thing that we have to appreciate while we have it, but I do know this: I’ve never met a happy person with a superiority complex. And yet, funny, I know a looooooot of people with bad superiority complexes.

In truth, I’m guilty of it a lot too… I tend to just assume that I’m “smarter” than the customers who can’t figure out that a shower gel is a body wash is a shower gel… but I can’t say going around thinking I’m better than these people actually makes me feel better about myself. In fact it’s the opposite; it makes me feel worse.

I’m just thinking out loud here, but I think we’d all probably be happier if we just stopped assuming we’re better than the next guy, and tried to just get along. You don’t even have to be nice; just try to be relatively decent. Like if a salesperson greets you, don’t assume they’re out to bleed all your money from you… just say hi! Don’t assume because a person has a certain job or talks with a certain accent that they don’t have a good education. Don’t assume that because you have an education, it’s beneath you to be a cashier.

Oh, and don’t assume someone’s an idiot just because they seem happier than you are. I used to do that too, before I figured out what it was, exactly, that was bringing me down in the first place.