Week 23: Never Let Me Go

Catching up with the week of 6/29 – 7/5!

I’m feeling terribly productive in the summer months, likely because work has been very slow. I’m steadily making progress on finally concluding the first draft of my novel; in fact I had wanted to be finished by July 4th, but a small bout of writer’s block (read: procrastination) blew that.  But I’m starting to see the light at the end of the Volcano and able to begin making plans for other projects.

The Recipe

I honestly don’t remember too much about this recipe, other than the fact that it was very similar to the Turkey Black Bean Sloppy Joes I made back in February or March.  It took a long time in the crock pot, I do remember that.  I mean, can anyone honestly tell me why meat that’s already cooked needs SIX HOURS in the crockpot just to meld the juices?

I added cheese and sour cream

Actually, now that I think about it, I think I like the black bean sloppy joes better.  They were quicker to make and more flavorful.  As dinner, this worked, for sure, but…I’m not sure I’m going to leave it on my Tried and True list.

The Workout

Ever since the slew of doctor visits regarding the BUG, I’ve been trying to get active and into a routine that allows me to exercise more frequently and eat better, using MyFitnessPal to count the calories.

That said, I’m not sure the Workout Videos in the Living Room plan is working.  Yes, ChromeCast allowing me to stream YouTube to the big tv has been really helpful, but the novelty of that is starting to wear off.

The biggest hurdle is literally a HURDLE that I have had to create to block the dogs from entering the living room while I’m fitnessing.

I mean, who lives like this?

With all the talk of buying a new house, Jason and I have contemplated putting money down on an elliptical.  It sounds so user-friendly: a gym right there in your own house!  But with all the distractions in my living space (the four legged furry ones most of all), I worry that I wouldn’t use a home gym.

So, I’ve been experimenting the idea of venturing out more.  More on that in the next post.

This is not a stretch. It’s actually one of the moves.

Because it was billed as a separate exercise, I decided to do the Jazzercise Burlesque Leg workout.  It was ten minutes long, which I knew felt lame (and kind of was).  Turns out, it was just ten minutes of the full length workout I had done the week before!

It looks more provocative than it feels.

I’m so done with these hookers.

The Book

I remember reading about the book Never Let Me Go when the movie came out.

Entertainment Weekly positioned it as a coming-of-age with a twist ending, but, while I enjoyed both immensely, I didn’t find anything about the book or the film all that twisty.  Alas, if you’ve no experience with either medium (and you think you might care to at some point), SPOILER ALERT: The children in the boarding school in this novel are clones of people, meant to donate their organs when they reach the proper age.

This book is the perfect novel.  It’s thought-provoking, emotionally stimulating and has a quick moving pace, written in prose that reads fluidly.  I felt endeared to the characters, there was something childlike to the narrative from Page 1.  In fact, the character of Ruth felt all too familiar (I won’t say who she reminded me of, but the comparison was profound).  By the end of the book, I was an unceremonious MESS.  It was 4am and I think I even woke Jason up with my sobbing.

I’ve read a lot of SAD books this year.  Most of them are on a lot of Required Reading lists and those types of collections tend towards the Important Life Lesson via Tragedy zone.  This one fits that criteria, but…it’s different.  When I look back on all the prestigious books I’ve read: Slaughterhouse Five, A Farewell to Arms, Crime and Punishment, Fahrenheit 451, 1984…none of them were as relatable and accessible as this book.  Maybe that’s because it’s set in mostly modern times, yes that’s a big part of it.  But I think it goes a step further by drawing out female characters that have real depth.

If anything, this Book Project of mine is cementing my status as a feminist.  Of the 22 books I’ve read so far this year, only one has been written by a woman and only five of those (Poisonwood Bible, Blindness, Wicked, The Lost World and Never Let Me Go) have had what I would call three-dimensional women.  Even Lolita was pretty flat, as far as characters go; Nabokov knew she was being oppressed, but he still didn’t know her, I would argue.  Fortunately, the week after this is Jodi Picoult week, followed by Emma Donoghue’s Room, so…it gets better, I suppose.

If you don’t really have time to read the book (which you should if you can because it doesn’t disappoint), check out the movie at least, starring the Amazing Spiderman before he was Spiderman.

NEXT UP:

The Recipe: Overnight Oats

The Fitness: Walking the Dogs!

The Book: My Sister’s Keeper

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Weeks 21 and 22: Big Brother, Burlesque and Brave New Bread

So, I’m behind.  Again.  I’ll be brief, trying to cram two weeks into this post, then I’ll have two more to catch up on.

THE RECIPES

Week One: Amazing Pork Loin

This was, to my recollection, one of the easiest recipes ever.  I literally put everything into the crockpot and ate several hours later.

Hubby liked it, too.

Week 2: Jelly Bean Bread via Diply

This recipe popped up in my newsfeed, I don’t recall who shared it.  But it was by far the most difficult one to date.

Things did not start well…

After discarding the idea that I should stick closely to the “two and a half cups” of flour suggested in the recipe, I finally added enough flour to feed three Depression Era families and wound up with something that was not a gelatinous mess.

My cutting board will, I fear, never be the same.

Then the worst part:  FOOD COLORING

It called for an 1/8 of a teaspoon of coloring. More like half a vial.

It took two hours of prep time before I was even ready to “let the dough rise” and take a break.  Most of that was food coloring.  But, hey!  I got caught up on my Nightly Show.

One of these is not like the others.

There was also an incident involving the blue ball.  I dropped the blue ball on the floor.  I had to improvise a new blue ball out of leftovers from the bowl and dough swiped from the purple ball to add to the blue ball.  I’ve now said “blue ball” five times.

All egg washed and ready to sit for a bit before baking.

I really, truly thought the hardest part was going to be the braiding, but by the time I’d finally got ’round to it, I was in Zero Give-a-Fig Zone, so that made it easier to just toss it around.

All done!

So, yeah…it burnt a little.  But dude:

1.  I made bread from SCRATCH.

2.  I made it in different colors that did not all wind up brown.

3.  It was actually edible.

4.  I got to have WINE when it was all said and done.

THE FITNESS

Week 1: Keaira LaShae’s Belly Dancing

I continue to really enjoy Ms. LaShae’s style.

I missed Brina K. in this one.  But appreciated the costuming choices!

Also! One of the dances you boogie down to in this bit is her own single!  I’m a fan.  Fun fact: I did this routine shortly before getting in the shower for work.  No one was home and I was in NO mood to spend five extra minutes putting together a work-outfit.  So I closed all the blinds and did this one totally in the buff.

Don’t tell anyone.

WEEK 2: Burlesque by Jazzercise

The most Burlesquey thing about this workout was the Neon Blitz Victoria’s Secret Fitness line couture featured on all the hookers dancing.

Seriously, it was pretty standard aerobics, there was nothing terribly risque about it.

But my legs did hurt for a couple days after, so that’s not nothing.

THE BOOKS

WEEK 1: Brave New World

The caste system, which included conditioning of the children to make them happy to be poor/lower class.

I’m kind of really glad to be combining these two books in one post.  They’re alike in a lot of ways and have had multiple comparative analyses.  They’re both set in dystopian future environments, both with far overreaching governments.  But, though they share so many similarities, the takeaways (for me anyway) was very different.

No one does any babymaking anymore, they just make babies.

Brave New World is the story of Bernard Marx, a man who feels out of place amongst the upper crust Alphas and in his leadership position at the Hatchery (because people are hatched now, not born).  He takes a girl (Lenina – yes, they’re all throwbacks to socialism and communism) on a vacation to visit savages in the west, where they meet John.  John was born of a woman who used to live in their community but was ousted when she got Pregnant For Real.  He reads Shakespeare and prefers the simpler things in life.  And they turn him into King Kong.  Mostly because he doesn’t want to take “soma” (like their version of alcohol) or participate in technology.

He’s sort of like a teenager without a cell phone.

WEEK 2: 1984

I won’t spend a lot of time on the plot description of 1984, because I feel like we all know it:

Winston Smith lives in Oceania, as part of the Party, which tells him everyday that they are at war (and have always been at war) with a country he knows was an ally only mere years before.  They monitor his every move, such that his decision to begin a diary of his subversive thoughts feels like the plot of a bank heist.  Yes, Big Brother is watching you (through the television, no less!  Brilliant).  This book has such a commonplace position in the zeitgeist that I felt I should read it and that I didn’t need to all at the same time.

Two weeks after the fact and I couldn’t tell you if I’m glad I did.

Winston Smith paved the way for Katniss Everdeen, for sure.  But the restrictions placed on his freedom are profound.  Just the idea of a Thought Police, the idea that your thoughts could make you criminal.  It has a lot to say about how people allow themselves to be brainwashed.

Here’s a pretty awesome chart of the differences between the two books:

When all is said and done, I think I enjoyed Brave New World more.  Was it because I expected less of it, having heard so much over the years about the profundity of 1984?  Maybe.  But there was something quite relatable about the technology worship inherent in Bernard Marx’s world.  I remember in high school, I had a teacher that said he didn’t own a television and I thought, “What must your life be like?”  I LOVED that the word Lord in Brave New World had been replaced with Ford (i.e. “Oh, my Ford.”).  I’d actually really love that to be a catchphrase that hits the stratospheric heights that Big Brother has.

But for now, I can say I’ve read them both and discuss at length.  And, in the coming weeks, the books start to feel markedly less “reading assignment” and more recreational.

UP NEXT:

Recipe: Slow Cooker Tamale Pie

Fitness: Burlesque by Jazzercise Legs

Book: Never Let Me Go