Thursday, September 19, 2013

The Happiness Project (also the most narcisstic post evah since it's pretty much all about me)

I read the Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin on my honeymoon.  In Cabo.  With copious amounts of sun, leisure, and adult beverages.  It was hard NOT to be happy.  When we convened in October (was that the month?) at Cancun, even my favorite burrito del mar and a house margarita couldn’t quite get me back to that paradise state of mind.

I’m sad to admit I don’t remember a lot about this discussion. I didn't take good notes.  I have a terrible memory, and yes, fellow Bad Asses, I let you down by waiting a full year to post.  I know that in general we all appreciated the notion that we should consciously make room for happiness in our lives and even actively seek it out.  I think several of us – myself included – struggled with the fact that the author was a wee bit hard to relate to on a personal level given that she came from a life of privilege (Daughter in Law to former Secretary of State Bob Rubin) and had a nanny, a house-keeper, and did not work a full-time 9-5 outside of the home.   I’ll admit it, I scoffed that of COURSE she has time to think about curating a collection of knick knacks for her office. Me?  I’m just trying to make sure everyone in our house has clean underwear.

The griping and jealousy aside, I really did enjoy the book.  I had never deliberately thought about happiness and what actionable steps I could take to bring more happiness into my own life.  I started making happiness lists.  Things as simple as: “Listen to more music” and “Reconnect with X,Y,Z friends” went on a list that I actively worked.

In the year since reading the happiness project, the responsibilities, challenges, and squeeze on my time have only increased, but fortunately, so too has my awareness of the need to actively seek out things that bring pleasure.  I may be crazed, but I’m happy. 

I hope that my fellow Bad Asses gained similar lasting benefits from reading The Happiness Project.  I can say without hesitation, that belonging to BABC and sharing time, laughs, insights, and good food with this group of amazing ladies is on my happiness list.  Rock on BABC.


Bunkbed Adventure 2013: Our 50th book happens to be a 50 Shades rip-off

I'll admit, when I picked this book, I did it at the recommendation of a good-ish friend whom I wholeheartedly trusted in regards to book selections.  She loves Harry Potter.  She suffered through the angst of the Twilight Saga, just like the rest of us.  She pulled out her hair while screaming expletives reading Gone Girl.  Alas, she suggested Bared to You, promising that it was both better written and more scandalous than the epic 50 Shades of Gray.

Well, now we all know that 1) I will no longer trust her recommendations and 2) no one can resist reading a trashy sex novel, no matter how poorly written.

We were introduced to rich hunks, naive [also rich] yuppies, and even an occasional bisexual roommate (who somehow also happens to be a total hunk).  We saw crazy sex scenes, almost a three-some, and an obscene amount of fighting between two *really* messed up people.  What we didn't see?  A book club discussion.  We did, however, learn quite a few new terms thanks to 4 hours of playing Cards Against Humanity, in which *I* had to explain to a group of self-respecting women what pixelated bukakke was (in the event that you forgot, do NOT look it up on your work computer!).

Bared to You proved to be "bleh".  But don't fret.  I have something in store for you that will make up for it, ten times over!  While we didn't play a riveting game of "Never Have I Ever" while being told "When you think you have enough lube, just keep going", we did watch an informative video on "how to twerk" followed by a demonstration à la Cris.  While I wasn't able to provide much in the intellectually stimulating book discussion realm, I am able to provide proof that said upside-down twerking did take place (sans candles, catching yourself on fire, and Jimmy Kimmel pulling the wool over our eyes).  Sit back, and enjoy! 

twerking, swooping, and the grundle: bunkbed adventure 2013

August 2013 marked our fourth trip to Lee Cottage on Webster Lake in North Webster, IN.

The recap, mostly in photos:

Friday role call:
Lindsay, Loran and Katie/Shuttle A
Erin, Cris, and Val/Shuttle B

Shuttle A headed up Friday mid-morning, and we got there early enough to hit our favorite salad bar and get provisions at the big Martin's grocery in Warsaw. Shuttle B arrived mid-afternoon, and we didn't waste any time before making our customary house "cocktail" of jell-o shots, AKA "these bitches."

Katie is unofficially in charge of concocting a j-shot that's more exciting than our usual mixology method, which goes like this: "What flavor of vodka should we use with the black cherry jello?"  Because Friday just so happened to be my birthday (!), The Katie Special looked like this. Squee!

We got there early enough Friday to enjoy the beautiful weather and the lake for a while.

We made dinner.

And then hilarity ensued with several hours of Cards Against Humanity.

Saturday was gorgeous. Shuttle A went to hoopty Zumba, or as Loran describes it, "advanced choreography class," while Shuttle B embarked on a swim out to the island and back. Round trip it's a half-mile. Badass = legit.

Following Zumba and the channel swim - crown braids and jet skis!

It should be noted that Cris loves to go fast, fast, fast!

Shuttle P arrived around lunchtime bearing 100% of the badass pregnant population. Organized by descending due dates are Jill (october), Jeni (september), and Melissa (august).

Saturday afternoon included more lake time, plus snacking, napping, and preggo paparazzi. Peeing in the lake, too.

While adrift, we discussed July's pick (because we couldn't find a date that worked in July), Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand.

Val led our discussion (and she posted separately about this), so I'll just say that I loved this book and Louis Zamperini's story. Here's a pic of Louis and his brother Pete.

CBS Sunday Morning aired a segment on Louis over Memorial Day Weekend 2012.

Louis lives in New York. He is 96.

We did not discuss Bared to You by Sylvia Day.

A) the book being really, really horrible (that is to say I read it in two days, for which I'm ashamed), and
B) there not really being anything else to say on matters of bodice ripping after last year,

I really wanted to talk about this book for two reasons.

1. The scene where he asks her about the timeline of her bikini wax. Not that there's much to say about this other than, "I know, right?!"

2. This was our fiftieth book.


After boating we meandered back to shore and enjoyed the rest of the afternoon.

We played with A Beautiful Mess. Nice work, Val.

Our neighbors took this lovely group photo. Sorry you couldn't join us this year, Alissa and Stephanie!

While Erin and I went out for a sunset jetski cruise (which was amazing!), during which Erin had a spectacular wipeout and managed to save both her sunglasses and her crown braid, the rest of the group kicked into hyperspeed and decorated the cottage for a surprise birthday party! for me! And what a surprise it was. I spotted the cupcakes in Katie's provisions Friday, but had no idea that they were part of this beautiful surprise!

Following the pizza party, more cards against humanity. We had to google "swooping" and "the grundle," which added to the hilarity. Chainsaws for hands!

Then came twerking. Given the volume of photos that were taken this weekend, I don't know how it's possible that nobody managed to get a picture of Cris demonstrating a perfect handstand twerk. But it's true. Trust me, it happened. And trust me, it was perfect.

As things started to wind down, a handful of us headed outside to catch the Perseid meteor shower. We crashed our neighbor's lawn from 12-1AM and saw some amazing sights. Not enough to stay up til 2AM, but enough to brave the mosquitoes for an hour.

Sunday began with Katie making amazing frittatas for breakfast while Cris and Val, chaperoned by Erin on jetski, had another swoop to the island and back. These girls swam a mile over the weekend! Did I mention they're badass? Check out Val's badass face.

Since we gathered the weekend of August 10th, 2/3 of the badass pregnant population are postpartum. Meet the second generation of BBC. Welcome, Elliette and Madeline! 

It makes my heart happy that we all look forward to this weekend every yea, and that we wanted to photo-document every moment (aside from that handstand twerk, dammit). I like to think we'll last forever, and that these moments are just points along the way.

For another perspective on and recap of the weekend, please head to Cris' blog. More photos, too!

Next up on our reading list is Labor Day by Joyce Maynard. Stephanie will host in September, and in true badass fashion Madeline and Elliette will attend.

Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand

Who:  Cris, Val, Katie-Kitty-Kat, Loran, Lindsay, The Pregnant Trifecta and Erin

What:  Discussion of Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand

When:  August 10, 2013

Where:  Lake Webster.  Lee Cottage.  Bunkbed Adventure.

Why:  Because we are freaking badsasses, that's why.

Hazy Details:  Due to one too many of these...

...the discussion has slipped my mind a bit.  What I do remember is that all three preggos got on that boat (even though they may have preferred to stay on land) and enjoyed some time with the drunk girls.  Everyone gave the book a thumbs up and I even mentioned that I started listening to it twice, which is UNHEARD OF!

P.S.  For those of you who listened to the audio, here are a few pictures of Louis Zamperini:

What a cutie!
Go Louie, Go!

Still a cutie!

See ya tonight, ladies!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

May 2013: Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

On a sunny day in May all but Jeni and Baby Boss gathered at Cancun to discuss

Most liked it; a few didn't. But overall we agreed the characters were entertainingly despicable and the story was all kinds of cray!

I know, I know. I'll at least take pictures next time....

Fall 2012: A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle

Guys. I remember mostly nothing about this book club meeting even though I was technically in charge. We met at The Aristocrat for the first time post-epic-fire, and I'm not sure if it was October or November (I'm leaning toward November).

Here's the thing. I had read this book as a child and devoured it. I read the entire series and thought it was totally magical. I chose children's fiction because it might be easy and less depressing than reading a classic, which were 2 genres that we hadn't ventured into yet. What I didn't really remember was that this book was Weird with a capital W. Now, I was a weird child and continue to be a weird adult, so I'm not surprised that I liked it so much. But I think that maybe, as children, it was a first exposure for some of us to this type of literature. And since 5th grade, we've all read Harry Potter (or we should have all read Harry Potter), and the game has changed.

Now, it is agreed that this book deserves its place of high regard in this genre. It stands a test of time, and the over-arching themes are wonderful and important. I made some bookmarks as keepsakes and including some of the following quotes:

“Life, with its rules, its obligations, and its freedoms, is like a sonnet: You're given the form, but you have to write the sonnet yourself." - Mrs. Whatsit

“Believing takes practice.”

“Like and equal are not the same thing at all." - Meg Murray

“A straight line is not the shortest distance between two points.”

“We do not know what things look like. We know what things are like. It must be a very limiting thing, this seeing." -Aunt Beast

“Love. That was what she had that IT did not have.” 

So good.

Also, I took this photo and Alissa got the "be awesome" memo.

March 2013: Native Americans of the Past & Present: The Transformation From “So-So” to Significantly Stirred.

Three Words:  Greek.  Feta.  Fries. 

We met at Canal Bistro in March to celebrate our anniversary and to discuss Louise Erdrich’s ‘The Round House’.

Being that we are a group of the whitest white gals ever, many of us initially approached the conversation not really knowing how we felt about this one. The story was OK. The plot was good. The characters were well drawn…but no one was “OMG! Freaking out about it!” 

Then, we started to get into our favorite moments and lines from this story, and it became clear that we were all captured and spellbound by the details and mysteries of a culture that is so foreign to us. Top takeaways:

1. Native American vs. American Laws: Jurisdiction, poverty, inequality. It's a bitch.

2. Horny grandfathers, though embarrassing, will teach you the most amazing things.

3. "In order to purify yourself, you have to understand yourself. Everything out in the world is also in you. Good, bad, evil, perfection, death, everything. So we study our souls." Nailed it. So good.

4. Sometimes you just have to stop for a 5 minute masturbation break.

5. Any book that includes a well placed road trip, wins. 

By the end of the dinner, I think we had inadvertently convinced each other that this book was amazing—and thus concluded that our next field trip should be to a North Dakota American Indian reservation (albeit, en route to California wine country).

Built “to keep their people together and to ask for mercy from the Creator, since justice was so sketchily applied on earth,” the round house, like Native American culture itself, is heartbreaking and beautiful.

November is Native American History month. In commemoration, maybe skip an episode of The Real Housewives of...whatever and give this book a read? It's by no means comprehensive, but it gives you some insight into understanding America's indigenous heritage. 

Two words: We. Loved.

June 2013: Slums and Dads Saying the Word Scrotum: Experiences We'd All Like to Avoid

We read this book:

We convened at Fire By the Monon to talk about it. And honestly I want to make this a funny blog however this book and India in general have been on my mind lately with all the reporting about the plight women face there, and the latest spate of women being raped in India.  And there's nothing comical about that.

I do think the book content is indicative of the overall response/reaction to the book. It did not get a thumbs up across the board - more a mid-thumb ranking across the group.
Which certainly reflects the somber, affecting nature of the book. I thought as far as discussions go, this was an super-engaged and thoughtful discussion. I didn't choose the book because I thought we'd like the content per se; I chose it to provoke thought. Mission accomplished and the group did not disappoint bringing their A game to the discussion like we always do.

Some of the ground we covered:
- How we would feel if the book was fiction (either deliberately or via a James Frey-esque situation). Cris thought it would still be as affecting, Lindsay said she would feel relieved.
- There were some mixed feelings on the audio version.
- Steph noted that she now feels like she should tell the call center people she reaches in India that she is glad they have a good job.
- Despite the horrible and corrupt world, people still have a desire to procreate, build families and build a life.   The human spirit persists.
- We compared it a bit to Under the Banner of Heaven.

At some point, a gaggle of young girls were seated at a table nearby and I cannot remember what exactly was going on over there (my notes say "adjacent table hijinks"), but we all noted in solidarity that if there was any question as to whether or not we are hip, in comparison to the adjacent table we are not :)  

Other updates:
1. We covered updated meeting dates.
2. BBA soon! Racy erotica on deck.
3. Get on the blog posts, ladies. Irony much?
4. Katie has a new bike!
5. Cris (and Eric) have a new blog!
6. Lindsay experienced having her Dad say the word "scrotum" in her house in relation to a pair of bike shorts given as a birthday gift. All we could really conclude there is having your Dad saying "scrotum" in your house and slums are both experiences we'd all rather not have.