Category Archives: Books

Because this Facebook post is going to save America

I’ve been reading a lot of Mark Twain this summer. In fact, a few weeks ago, I dramatically declared to my husband that “this is The Summer of Twain!” while wearing a straw hat and holding a fishin’ pole (because everything is more fun when you can annoy your spouse with it).

It started out that I simply wanted to re-read the adventures of Tom and Huck on long, hot, lazy afternoons. But then, while searching for my copies of these books, I found seven other Twain books languishing on my shelves. Challenge accepted! I thought to myself as I instantly started searching for fishin’ poles on Amazon so I could properly break the news to my husband.

I’m happy to report that so far it’s turning out to be one of my better life decisions (much better than my decision last summer to sign my toddler up for soccer). It’s also having some unexpected patriotic side effects.

I was halfway through “Tom Sawyer,” for example, when a flood of memories from my semi-feral childhood in rural Ohio crashed into my brain. The next thing I know I’m asking my kids if they want to go down to the “crick” and have a picnic (to which they responded by staring at me with professional-grade disdain).

I was only one chapter into “Life on the Mississippi” before I found myself doing CPR on my ancient, wheezing junior high plans to visit every state in the Union.

And then there’s the quotes. Oh, those quotes. The man would just spit out viral-ready gems like “Loyalty to the nation all the time, loyalty to the government when it deserves it” long before the Internet was even a twinkle in Al Gore’s great-grandpa’s eye.

It’s that last one I blame for convincing me it was a good idea to write a political post on Facebook even though previous experience has taught me that there is only one way that ends, which is with all parties involved concluding this world can only be cleansed by fire.

I knew better. You reading this know better. My dog, who has his own Twitter account, knows better. Yet, there I was, romanticizing in my head how Twain brilliantly shed light on our faults as a country and why can’t I do that? I mean, I know words and stuff. Sometimes even BIG words. And with that fail-safe logic, I quickly assured myself that this Facebook political post would be different.

Not only that but it would MAKE all the difference.

It will be well-thought out, says I, clever even, a bit funny, yet poignant, a chastising that morphs into a rallying cry but with a sprinkling of self-deprecation so as to make the medicine go down easier. I mean, I’m not such a Pollyanna that I think a cheesy little paragraph on social media could truly solve anything (I’m only a quarter Pollyanna on my mother’s side). But, on the other hand, these four sentences could be the wisest and most courageous thing the Internet has ever seen.

I won’t know until I try, right?

So I type it out on my phone while pacing the dining room floor, my fingers flying over the tiny keyboard. I’m excited. Nervous almost. So much so it takes a while because I keep making typos. I reread it. Erase that part. Think it over. Put it back in. NO, SWEETIE, MOMMA CAN’T HELP YOU WITH YOUR UNDERWEAR. SHE’S BUSY SAVING AMERICA. Change the wording here. Is that how you spell “tyranny”? I don’t want to get ahead of myself but can you win awards for these kinds of thing? SO GO NAKED THEN. I’LL HELP WHEN I’M DONE BEING AN AMAZING PATRIOT.

I quickly post it. Before I lose my nerve. But already regret has started to set in. I take a deep breathe and remind myself it will all be fine. I just need to remember not to respond to any comments. I already said what I had to say. Let everyone else sling mud at each other down in the gutters.

And I firmly stick by that. For all of three minutes. It’s just this one guy, you know? He’s so smug. So I gently point out how he’s wrong. And three exchanges later, I gently point out how he can suck it. I’m outraged and also nauseous that anyone could believe the things this random person I now hate believes. But I can’t stop. I can’t just WALK AWAY. I have to win this fight. I have to make them see how stupid they are. Win the online fight, win AMERICA.

Except no one wins. Except maybe Facebook.

Hours, sometimes days, later, it’s all over and I feel vaguely dirty and vow to never, ever discuss politics ever again.

But I will. Because this country has been very good to me and I love it for that. So I’m going to keep fighting to make it good for everybody.

And because I may just be another idiot arguing on the Internet but I refuse to let those other idiots have the last word.

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If children’s books were actually realistic

Hello! My name is Aprill. I have a son. His name is Riker. He is 2-years-old. He is a wonderful boy!

Riker likes to laugh and play. And he really loves to read!

We read books all the time together. They all sound exactly like this.

Because who doesn’t love short sentences! And lots of exclamation points!

Mommy, that’s who! Or at least not after reading 27 books in a row. Twenty-seven books in a row that feature no less than 4,000 exclamation points!

Yay!

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The worst kinds are the “informational” children’s books. Do you know what an informational children’s book is? It is a book designed to teach children things! But teach them in the most annoying and condescending manner possible!

Mommy may be biased though. She has read a bunch of these books lately. She is trying to prepare Riker for the arrival of his new baby sister! So every day she reads books with titles like “I’m a Big Brother” and “I’m Going to be a Big Brother” and “Why Is Mommy Crying at That Commercial?”

These books are indeed informative. And repetitive! And redundant! And repetitive!

And oh-so-dumb!

This is why Mommy wrote her own children’s book to prepare Riker for a new baby! A more realistic version! A version that includes stretch marks and curse words!

Because sugar-coating is for babies!

The Adorable Fetus That Is Slowly Destroying Mommy

Chapter One

Riker loves his Mommy. His Mommy is the best. He loves sitting on his Mommy’s lap.

But lately, Mommy’s body is changing. Her belly is getting bigger and bigger. So are her butt and boobs. And her feet and hands. And her hips and thighs. She also now has two chins. Count them.

One.

Two.

Two chins!

Daddy says this is because a baby is growing inside Mommy! Mommy says it’s a parasite that feeds off of Mommy’s nausea. This is why she needs to eat cheeseburgers at 7 a.m.

I am going to be a big brother! I am so excited!

new baby family

Chapter Two

Mommy’s brain is changing too. She says it’s just for show now. We play fun games like “Where Did Mommy Leave Her Keys?” and “Where Did Mommy Leave The Dog?” and “Where Is That Horrible Noise Coming From?”

(The answer to all of them is in the fridge!)

Pregnant Mommy can be very fun! This morning she served Skittles and cheese for breakfast. And last week we had ice cream for dinner! Mommy says it’s OK because she’s building a human from scratch and it’s wicked exhausting. Well-balanced meals are for people not currently making a tiny baby spleen.

But if anyone asks, we ate granola and goji berries with organic honey. Yum!

Her skin also looks like a tiger now. I told Mommy I want to have a baby and have tiger skin too. She growled at me. Daddy quickly grabbed me and we went for a long walk. Mommy is so silly.

Chapter Three

Sometimes Pregnant Mommy is not so fun. I gave her a stick I found in the park once. She cried and cried and hugged me super tight! She said “never leave me!” and then she ate my Go-Gurt.

One time Daddy accidentally ate Mommy’s donut. Mommy got really angry. She said a bunch of new and exciting words!

Mommy farts a lot. It is super smelly.

She also makes funny noises when she gets up off the couch. It makes me giggle. Mommy says that’s what happens when you grow to be as big as a planet and have your own gravitational pull.

new baby planet

Chapter Four

When it’s time for the baby to come, Daddy will take Mommy to the hospital. I’m not allowed to go until the baby is outside Mommy’s belly. Mommy said it’s because she will be using even more new and exciting words that I am not supposed to know!

new baby birth

While Mommy is busying being destroyed by my new baby sister, my grandma is coming to stay with me. My grandma is very fun! She gives me giant bowls of sugar! And non-Mommy approved toys that are loud and have no “off” button!

A few weeks later, my other grandma will come stay with us. She is also very fun! She will also spoil me in non-Mommy approved ways. Because that is her job.

Chapter Five

When our new baby gets home, Mommy and Daddy said things will be different for awhile. They will be very tired. They will be very tired because babies don’t like it when mommies and daddies sleep. They also hate clean clothes. But not as much as they hate letting parents eat a hot meal.

new baby tired

Chances are good I will spend a lot of time doing things Mommy and Daddy never let me do before, like sitting in front of the TV binge-watching “Sesame Street” and eating animal crackers from a giant tub! Fun!

Mommy says things will go back to normal soon. Although we’ll still eat ice cream for dinner occasionally.

But if anyone asks, we ate gluten-free spaghetti with non-GMO heirloom tomato pasta sauce and free-range, grass-fed beef.

Mommy and the Purple Crayon

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Reading is FUNdamental (until it drives you mental)

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Nesting is for the birds (see what I did there?)

I’ll be honest. I didn’t think it was true. I thought it was just another one of those pregnancy myths, like you only gain weight in your stomach (you don’t). Or that your husband will actually run out at 3 a.m. to get you a taco (he won’t). Or that pregnancy is in any way enjoyable (it’s not…although it might be if “someone” would get me tacos in the middle of the night…HINT, HINT, Ryan).

But then a few weeks ago I innocently went to pick out a new book to read and, well, this happened:

Nesting 1 Nesting 2 Nesting 3 Nesting 4

Five manic hours later, every single book I own, which is not an insignificant number, had been taken down, cleaned, mentally recategorized and put back on the shelves using a system that made absolutely no more sense than the original system. Some books were organized via genre, some by how much I thought the authors would get along (Mark Twain and Dave Barry would totally have started a bromance) and some by how smart I thought they made me look.

Needless to say, it was a system that would have made any librarian’s head spin around, Exorcist-style, and then explode.

But despite the fact that it didn’t make any sense and that it didn’t actually need to be done, I couldn’t help myself. I HAD to do it. It was a compulsion. A compulsion no less powerful than what I imagine compels my dog to roll around in dead things on days when I am running late for something.

Yes, I had apparently unwittingly begun the phase of pregnancy known as “nesting.” Generally, nesting is when a pregnant mother feels the overwhelming desire to deep clean her home and prepare said home for the imminent arrival of her baby. As I discovered, pretty much all expectant mommas go through this, from animals tearing up newspapers and birds building actual nests, to human women who scrub their entire house with a toothbrush and then organize their spice rack alphabetically.

But in my case, my maternal instincts told me I couldn’t have a baby in a house where the books were shelved all willy-nilly. Never mind that there is food in my fridge that expired in 1997 and the bathroom tub hasn’t been scrubbed since I could wear pants with buttons. Oh no. No, it was far more important that my home be a home where Dorothy Parker took her rightful place beside Robert Benchley.

Luckily not all is lost for this kid. Because while his mother is currently about as useful as a fish with a bicycle, he has a father whose instincts are actually geared toward keeping his tiny butt alive.

For example, that following weekend my husband spent hour upon hour putting together the crib, the changing table and rocking chair, organizing all the tiny, tiny clothes by size and cleaning out our attic of all the useless crap that not only did we not need, but no one would ever need in their lifetime, to make rooom for all the new baby crap we would actually need. I watched him, mesmerized, as he did thing after thing that would, you know, actually be helpful once this little bladder-kicker was out in the world.

He was doing the male version of nesting. Or, as I like to call it, “mesting.”

Not that I was completely useless during this time, mind you. I helpfully did things like hold up random tools while saying “this one? this one? this one?” when he asked for a Phillips head screwdriver. And I put together a mobile for the crib all by myself. Granted, it doesn’t work now, but that could be for any number of reasons.

It just goes to show you, everyone approaches parenthood differently. But believe you me, someday that kid will be OVER THE MOON about the fact that all the Stephen King books are not only together on the shelf, but stacked chronologically.

Dothraki horseloaf with a side of wine. Lots of wine.

Guys. No…seriously. Guys. Stop whatever it is you’re doing right now (except, of course, for reading this blog…keep doing that…but put down your simultaneous game of Angry Birds on your phone and your unlicensed repinning of other people’s work on your iPad).

I have VERY IMPORTANT GEEK NEWS.

There is not one, not two, but…oh, wait…OK, no, just two (but still…TWO) “Game of Thrones” cookbooks.

Now, for you non-Song of Ice and Fire fans (or as we hardcore fans refer to you, Total Mega-Asshats), this may not seem a very big deal. But trust me, it is. Those of us who have devoted a good portion of our lives to reading these novels, which are 1,000 plus pages each, have nothing much to do until the sixth book comes out other than watch the HBO series with friends and lord it over their heads that we already know what’s going to happen in the next episode.

And since it takes the author, George R.R. Martin, approximately eleventy-billion years to finish a goddamn book, it doesn’t look like we’ll have anything to look forward to for quite awhile.

That is, until now. Already, the “unofficial” Unofficial Game of Thrones Cookbook has been published by some clever opportunist and this June, the Martin-approved “official” Official Game of Thrones Cookbook will be released.

Now, I don’t know what any of the recipes are but judging from what I remember about the books, you can probably expect things like:

Arya’s Roadkill Pigeon Pie

Khaleesi’s Krazy Kasserole

LittleFinger’s Lady Fingers with Raspberry Sauce

Jon’s SnoCones

Bran’s Handicapable Halibut

Hodor’s Hodor with a side of Hodor

Cersei’s Incestuous Cinnamon Buns

And the best news is, even if these recipes suck, no worries. Because you’ll probably be too wasted from wine and beer (which is featured prominently about every two pages or so) to care.

So, honey, if you’re reading this (and I know you will eventually simply because you’ll get tired of me repeatedly asking “Hey, did you read my latest blog post yet?”) prepare your palette for some delicious Dothraki horseloaf.

I want my life back, George R. R. Martin!

It has now been a month, George. One month spent reading your series “A Song of Ice and Fire.” And considering I am only on book four and your books are approximately the size of Wyoming, I still have miles to go before I sleep.*

See, thanks to you, George, every free second of my life is now devoted to your stupid books. I can’t put them down (and when I do I have to make sure I don’t set them down on any small children and/or pets so they don’t get crushed to death).

And the further I get into the books, the worse it gets. For example, I now read in the shower…

I’m now reading when I should be working, which can make for some lived and died without setting eyes upon salt water confusing articles.

If I actually did yoga instead of lying on my mat eating Cheetos, I’d read even while doing yoga:

And don’t ask me how I managed it, but I’ve even read during sex before:

Hell, I’m pretty sure at some point during “A Storm of Swords,” my husband had surgery or something and almost died or some junk but to be honest, I have no idea. I was too engrossed in whether or not Jon Snow would take over Winterfell and if someone would finally get revenge on Joffrey.

Look, buddy, I’ll level with you. You’re not my first. I mean…heh…I mean, by FAR (I’ve, uh, been around the literary stacks, if you know what I mean). As a kid, I spent three weeks invested in Narnia followed by a guilty romp through the “Anne of Green Gables” series. At the turn of the century, pretty much most of my life was devoted to “Lord of the Rings”; the movies, the books, the Google searches of a shirtless Orlando Bloom. After that, I became obsessed with Harry Potter, disappearing for a week only to emerge from my cave, blinking from the glare of the unfamiliar sun, to find I missed my own funeral. I got down and dirty with Katniss and Lisbeth and, while I’m not proud of this next phase of my life, there was also that one afternoon when I read the entire Twilight series. In fact, I absorbed “New Moon” simply by taking an hour-long nap on it (doesn’t take a whole lot of brain power to absorb a teenage girl being mopey for 200 pages).

But the difference is that your books, Mr. Martin, are each 1,000 pages long and have approximately 62 million characters. In fact, the one I’m reading now, “A Feast for Crows,” has four maps and an 80 page appendix detailing who all the characters are. 80 pages, George! That is utterly ridiculous. But even though I know it is ridiculous, you have made these goddamned books so interesting that I actually do go back and forth between the stupid maps and the appendix so I make sure I’m keeping everything straight.

And then…and then…what? What the hell am I supposed to do when I finally finish the recently published fifth book? Wait for five years for you to finish the sixth? Huh?

HUH!?!

Look, dude, I’m from Generation X. Smartphones with 3G speed are too slow for us. I can’t wait around five years while you tinker around on your goddamned typewriter. Especially since I know you’re going to leave a shitload of cliffhangers and unanswered questions at the end of “A Dance of Dragons.”

I mean, a lot can happen in five years. Hell, in five years, books probably won’t even EXIST! Or worse yet, I could be a soccer mom! Who only cares about her stupid kids! And not a book series she read five years ago!

WHY ARE YOU RUINING MY LIFE, GEORGE!?!

P.S. If you kill off Arya Stark, I will hunt you down and stab you in the throat.

P.S.S. Don’t know if I mentioned this or not, but I’m a huge fan. You doing any book signings in Boston soon?

*I totes stole that line.