The Help

Hello all! I hope that you had a wonderful weekend. I was very glad to have the weekend off from work (although having weekdays off can be quite a treat too!). Yesterday, I was able to watch one of my babysitting charges in his middle school play. It was so fun to see him perform, I have known him since he was about six years old. It is crazy how fast time flies!

After that, I spent the remainder of my night babysitting. By the time I left that house, I was pretty pooped and ready to hit the hay!

And now, my friends. For the ANNOUNCEMENT OF THE DECADE.

(only not really…)

I finished The Help!! Finally.

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As you may recall, I started reading this book back around New Year’s. After all of the great things that I had heard about this book in the past couple of years, I had very high hopes. Overall, I did enjoy the book and I thought the story was definitely original, but for some reason, it was just a struggle for me to finish it!

Brief Synopsis:

I will keep this part short, since I am sure 99% of you have either a) already read this book or b) at least know exactly what it is about.

The Help takes place in 1962 Mississippi. The lives of affluent white women are faithfully bolstered by the assistance of their family maids, all of whom are black women who have raised dozens of white children and kept households running smoothly for decades. But as illustrated throughout this whole story, the climate of the ’60s south was one of racism, hatred and entitlement. The author, Kathryn Stockett, tells the story of Aibileen, the wise black maid who, despite her own heartbreak and tumultuous life, gives nothing but love and affection to the children she cares for. There’s Minny, the sassy, smart-mouthed maid who gets herself into trouble around every corner. And importantly, Miss Skeeter. A twenty-two year old, recently graduated young woman who is trying to navigate the life of a lady as encouraged by her prim and proper mother.

After deciding to pursue her true love of writing, Skeeter takes on a major project. She decides to collect the untold stories of the black maids in town. Writing them all down for all to read and hoping that a NYC editor, Mrs. Stein, will agree to publish her work. Despite the fact that they are all putting themselves directly in harm’s way by meeting with Skeeter, the maids unleash all kinds of stories for her to write. Some are funny, some heartbreaking, some are entirely sickening.

As Skeeter works on The Project, the novel follows the progression of Skeeter’s post-grad. life back at home, everything from love to family to career choices. Chapters switch between the unique narrative voices of Skeeter, Aibileen and Minny.

My Opinion:

Overall, I think that the idea behind this novel is a great one. It’s unique and captivating and equal parts touching and gut-wrenching. But for some reason ( as you may have noticed) I had a RIDICULOUSLY hard time getting through it. I thought that the story was a little on the redundant side and I think overall, the whole thing could have been cut by about one hundred pages without losing too much value. I really enjoyed the parts with Skeeter and I loved the camaraderie and friendship that eventually developed between her and the maids, but I think there needed to be a little more intrigue throughout.

I would definitely give this story major points as a very rich character study, but I am not sure that I am quite as enamored with the whole thing as the rest of America seemed to be in its prime!

I also must say that for a first-time novelist, Kathryn Stockett’s work and success is massively impressive. As an aspiring writer myself, I find that whole story to be wildly motivating and inspiring. 

So what’s next on the Reading Radar??

photo (47)I am really not sure what to expect from this one, but it just feels like something that I have to read. It’s been around forever and in its own right is kind of a “classic.” Stay tuned for a review! (Hopefully it will take me less than a month and a half. 😛 )

And I think that’s about all for today!

Tomorrow it is back-to- Bedrock time! I am quite excited, however, because I have finally put a little bit of prep work into getting a few days’ worth of healthy, filling, tasty lunches set up for myself. Protein bars begone! (Which is not to say that my beloved PB&J won’t make the occasional appearance, I love those just a little too much to let them go forever. No matter HOW sophisticated my lunchbag becomes. 😉 )

ALSO, speaking of prep work, guess what I did tonight…

photo (46)That’s right, kids. Brittany packed a GYM BAG. There is absolutely NO stopping this lady from hittin’ up the gym tomorrow after work. I’ve got the whole thing planned out.

My shift into this new position ended up involving quite a bit of juggling and schedule re-arranging, but I absolutely MUST find a way to work my physical activity back into the mix! It starts to wear on my mind– I get crankier and slower and I even start to feel stupider! Nobody wants any of that. I know that I have what may be the World’s Most Quintessential love-hate relationship with running, but I really, really do miss it. Recently, I have been in that thinking zone where 2,000 different things run through your mind every minute of every day and one of my favorite releases for that feeling is running. I am SO ready to start my half marathon training, but since that won’t come into play for a few months yet, I’ll take whatever I can get! Right now, my plan is to work on timing for my spring 5k and to strengthen up those legs and abs so that I’ll be able to train without injury and without hesitation for the half when the time comes!

I hope you have a great night and I will talk to you tomorrow!

 

The Perks of Being a Wallflower

By this point in the game, it is no secret that I love to read and I love to write. In my spare time (that is dwindling by the day…), I try to squeak in time to dive into a book or write for a while. Sometimes it happens, but sometimes it doesn’t. (Take for example, the fact that I have been reading The Help since New Year’s Eve!!)

Ever since I finished The Perks of Being a Wallflower back in December, I have been meaning to review it, but I never got around to it.

Perks-of-Being-A-Wallflower-Review

 

Source.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower was originally published in the late ’90s, but was recently re-popularized with the release of the 2012 film, starring the lovely Emma Watson (aka: Hermione).  On a random side note, I absolutely hate it when books are re-released with new covers featuring photographs from the movie adaptation of the book. They almost always look cheap and it just drives me batty!

I received the book for Christmas and quickly dove into it. Interestingly, this was not the first time that I started this book. In one of those strange, flashbulb-type memories, I distinctly remember one of my “new high school friends” handing me this book and insisting that I read it right away. She told me that it was her favorite book and that I wouldn’t be able to put it down. That was in ninth grade.

Evidently, I was NOT quite ready for the “scandal” of this book and was quickly turned off from it at the first mention of alcohol. I returned it to her 99% unread and that was that.

This time around, however, was different. Granted, apparently I am still quite a prude as I was still turned off by the references to drugs and sex and alcohol, but I also picked up on so much more. I also managed to make it past page two. 😉

So the general premise of this book revolves around a  teenage boy, “Charlie,” who has always been very reserved. As he stands on the sidelines and watches life happening around him, he is constantly taking everything in. He notices everything and has some very insightful thoughts. He is a wallflower, but maybe that’s not always a bad thing. As his first ear of high school year, Charlie meets some new friends. They push him to try new things, to take risks, and to step into the action of life and be a participant instead of just an observer. Through all of that, Charlie makes some pretty bad decisions, he does some stupid things and ends up finding himself in some terrible places, but throughout all of that, what really stood out to me, was the consistency of Charlie’s insightfulness.

Even for someone who had an incredibly nondescript high school experience that included absolutely zero behavior that was even remotely questionable, I could still identify with many of the revelations that were presented throughout Charlie’s letters.

I was impressed by the narrator’s consistency in his recounting of events and also in his reason and insight. Even throughout the times where his actions led the reader to believe that his narrative may not be entirely reliable, those revelatory moments were still very meaningful.

Overall, I think this was a very worth-while read. I can absolutely understand why this book has stuck on the radar for so many years and why it is still considered a kind of classic “coming-of-age” story. I can even understand why that new “friend” so many years ago desperately attempted to have me read it.

At times, some of the “shock factor” additions (again that’s back to the drugs/ alcohol/ scandal) may seem a bit gratuitous, but in a way, I think that is why this book sat so much better with me now than it did when I was younger, because I was able to look past that outward wildness and foolishness and see what the book was really about: growing up, understanding your place in not only social circles, but in the world in general and learning how to handle changes and challenges. While the narrator may have taken some unhealthy means to cope with those universal concepts, they’re pretty applicable to everyone and watching the very bizarre way that his life throughout the course of the novel unfolded was a pretty interesting journey!

Well that is all for tonight, folks! I hope to have a review of The Help for you soon. I don’t know WHAT is taking me so long to finish that goshdarn book!

I’ll see you all tomorrow…hopefully with a story about how I conquered 200 miles on the treadmill only after tackling the World’s Most Difficult Strength Training Routine. But for some reason, I kind of doubt it…

Hope you had a great night!

 

Bridesmaid’s Dresses and Strange Coincidences

Hello friends!

Guess what didn’t happen today. A workout! Oops. I somehow overslept a tad and had a movie date with Chloe early this afternoon so I had to hustle to get some e-mails out and get ready in time! (We actually went to see the Silver Linings Playbook and I loved it just as much or MORE than I did the first time!)

And then there was a great big moment in Brittany’s life. I tried on my first-ever bridesmaid dress. (I don’t know if I’ve ever mentioned this before, but Bridesmaids is probably one of my top five favorite movies of all time. It is entirely inappropriate and WAY over-the-top in ridiculousness, but I just can’t get enough of it. It is insta-mind-erase, which I can use from time to time!)

Later this year, one of my very good friends, Amy, will be marrying her high school sweetheart and I will be in her wedding!

6th Birthday

Amy and I have been friends since we were four years old! The picture above was taken of the two of us at my sixth birthday party. (Holy 1990s photography! It’s blurry, far away, old. Classic!)

And now, 16 years later….

Dress and Amy

Amy selected several different options for her bridesmaids to choose from. There were a couple of different lengths and styles, but after perusing the options, I decided on this one. (Although the color is actually a deep red. They just didn’t have that one in stock!)

Dress Twirl

I really think the socks make the picture. And the outfit…

Amy disagreed. Apparently, these are slightly more appropriate for the occasion:

Red Shoe

It’s cool. I can be flexible…whatever.

Falling Shoe Pic

If you look carefully (or not even so carefully), you’ll notice this picture is a little blurry. Why? Good question. Because about .04 seconds after this was taken, I almost fell over. Promising, no? One boot, one heel. Yellow coat. Check. Check. Check. Someone’s ready to party.

So, not to be totally sappy, but ever since I first heard the song in Phenomenon (hey there, John Travolta!), I have love, love, loved the song “Crazy Love.” It is so sweet and pretty and I love it. I decided long ago that it will (someday) have a spot in my wedding. I think in the last 5 years, I’ve probably heard it on the radio three times.

Including tonight. The INSTANT Amy and I got into the car after the bridal shop.

Crazy Love

 

Weird, right? (Also, I listen to this particular station CONSTANTLY. I pretty much know their tracks so well that I can predict what’s going to be playing next.)

Afterwards, we hit up Friendly’s for sundaes because everyone knows we are actually still 5.

Once I got home tonight, I had a hot date. With Rudy. Someone was looooong overdue for a bath!

Doggy Bath

 

The 2% of her face that you can see in this picture looks terrified. Don’t be fooled, she secretly loves her baths.

For the rest of the night, I think I will attempt to tackle some more of The Help.

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I’ve been reading this book since just before Christmas and although I found the first chapter kind of hard to get into, I am really enjoying it now. For some reason, the days have been FLYING past me and I never seem to have the time to crack the cover!

Hope you all had a great day!

See ya tomorrow!

Too Many Books!

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving! (How on God’s green earth did that happen!? Shouldn’t it be September?!)

Today I spent my whole entire day at work organizing (even more) Thanksgiving pies and making holiday wreaths. It was a day chock full ‘o holiday spirit!

Afterwards, it was time to run around like a chicken with its head cut off in preparation for the big day tomorrow. I feel like there are a few random loose ends that need to be tied up before we head out for my sister’s house in the morning. Hopefully I can finish up a couple of things, scarf some dinner (yep, it’s almost 11 and I haven’t even had dinner yet!), and pack while still hitting the sack at a decent hour. We’ll see about that…

In other news, I did not make it to the gym this morning (nor did I plan to). It looks like there will be a three-day fitness hiatus. Yesterday at work as we boxed up pie after pie after pie, we stumbled across one that was too burnt on top to sell to the customers, so naturally the only thing left to do was to pick around the black parts and eat it! While at the time it was quite tasty, I always feel terrible about myself after eating a zillion and five calories mindlessly like that. It’s not that I didn’t enjoy it, but I know I would have much rather eaten something that was sinful and tasty that I had actually thought about instead of picking away at a reject pie. Oh well! What’s done is done!

The packing break that I took wasn’t entirely successful. I got a little distracted as I attempted to choose a book to bring along. I started reading the Hunger Games, but for some reason, I just couldn’t get into it. So I returned to my stash of ten billion books and have since been trying to choose between about five:

Quite a combo, eh? Ever since I was a very little girl, I have loved to read. For the past four years, I never had time to read anything other than academic articles and textbooks the size of Nebraska so I am really loving the opportunity I have now to read “fun” books. After reading and re-reading the descriptions of these books, I finally selected one to bring along with me!

I know, I know. I am about five years behind the rest of America, but I have wanted to read this for quite some time. It also seems like a good choice for a Thanksgiving read, doesn’t it?

Now it’s time to send off a couple of e-mails before I check out of the internetinterwebwww. world for a couple of days!

Happy Thanksgiving, readers!! Slow down and enjoy yourselves today, there’s always tomorrow for running. 😉