Friday, May 22, 2009

turn-down service

This semester was beastly. It had all the qualities of being a beast. I was finishing my last semester of coursework for my Ph.D., which also included an intensive French course during my Christmas break. I was a teaching assistant for a brilliant/crazy woman at a graduate university. I tutored 9-12 hours a week at a college writing center. I also taught two classes at a different college, one writing course and one literature course. All in all, I nearly keeled over by the time finals week arrived, and I barely had any energy left to lift my arm much less write one inspired seminar paper and another inspired book editing project. BUT I FINISHED EVERYTHING!!!

(disclaimer: I still have an incomplete grade from a past semester, but it's getting done. I promise.)

So after all the graduation celebrations dwindled away, hubby took me to see Star Trek at our favorite local theater, and then we drove to a beach hotel. Free with our room came two guest passes to a nearby spa. Needless to say, even though we were only there for two days, those two days were much appreciated and we are already looking forward to our next vacation.

Unfortunately, one of the library books (The Circular Staircase (1908) by Mary Roberts Rinehart) that I took to the hotel with me was missing pages! I was so disappointed that I nearly cried. I told my husband, "THIS is exactly why one should never leave home without spare books! For emergencies just like THIS!" Have you ever been reading a book you were really getting into, only to discover that pages were missing? What do you do in this case? Do you usually keep reading, or do you give up? I wouldn't have given up had the pages been in the middle-ish, but they were in the second chapter right when the characters see their ghost for the first time. There was no way I could skip those descriptions and go on like nothing had happened. They were crucial! So I guess I'll try to check it out another time if I can find a complete text.

In the past week, I've read three non-fiction books (Yay, Non-Fiction Five challenge!) and only really liked one of them.

1. Perfecting Ourselves To Death: The Pursuit Of Excellence And The Perils Of Perfectionism by Richard Winter

This book was not what I was expecting it to be. I thought it would be a how-to book for how to dig oneself out of the black hole of perfectionism. It could have been that with some revisions, but instead it read more like a history of perfectionism. While this might have been interesting on some levels, I didn't really have the brain-patience after the semester I've had to learn about the historical, philosophical, and theological context of my disease. I don't recommend it if you're as tired as I am.

2. Be Happy Without Being Perfect by Alice Domar and Alice Lesch Kelly

This book was rather cheesy at the beginning, with some quizzes and trivia-type stuff designed to determine whether the reader actually is a perfectionist, and if so, what kind. I thought those beginning chapters could have been eliminated, because chances are a non-obsessive person is not going to pick the book up in the first place. Once I got past the annoying sections at the beginning (I was reading in bed with my husband and we were laughing at quite a bit of it), I thought the book was top notch. I enjoyed the authors' writing style. Primarily, I enjoyed the hundreds of examples and real life stories that were included by the authors. There were examples in every chapter about what women do, what we think about things, how easily we can climb out of our bad habits, etc. I LOVED the interviews and examples in the chapters and found myself enlightened about a few of my own neuroses. This book is not for everyone, but it was helpful to me.

3. The Big Moo: Stop Trying to be Perfect and Start Being Remarkable, edited by Seth Godin

This book would be awesome for an inspirational conference or a business retreat. I saw a lot of great (short) essays about how to be all that you can be and conquer all the challenges that life may throw at you. It was a peppy little book that had no place in my current life situation (grad school, relative poverty, etc., etc...), but I could understand why businessmen and women would love this one.

I've also read one novel, The Essence of the Thing by Madeleine St. John (is that not just the greatest author name, or what?!). I'll try to tell you about it soon. I'm still sorting out my thoughts about it. I've also been reading classics and rearranging my bookshelves to try to get ready for qualifying exams. It's going to be a big summer!!

Love to all. (P.S. Timothy learned how to say "Aunt KB and Uncle Scott" a few weeks ago. I am in heaven!!)


Trish said...

Interesting theme with your books...are you a perfectionist? I am most of the time--there are some things that I just have admit defeat on.

Glad you and Scott had a great little mini-break--sounds absolutely wonderful. How did you like Star Wars? We almost saw it last night but opted for Angels and Demons instead.

Trish said...

Oh, and I deleted the first link--no worries. :)

MamaErin said...

I'm totally into the non-fiction genre right now. Mostly parenting books or autobiographies written by parents... and cookbooks. I've inherited my grandma's bug for collecting them. I have 6 coming in the mail right now. I'm also halfway done w/ "Gone with the Wind..." hoping to be done with it by the time we come home from Vegas!

Timothy is just so precious. Post some new pics of him when you can!