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Saturday, July 30, 2011

The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo

I don't know if I've ever read such an intriguing "who done it" as The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson. It's no wonder that this book, originally written in Swedish, is an international best seller. The twists and turns of the complex cast of characters have kept me up way past my bedtime too many nights in the last week.

The main storyline centers on a teenage girl and her mysterious disappearance more than 40 years ago. She was once the member of a wealthy and influential Swedish family, and almost everyone in the extended family has been a suspect at some point. A middle-aged, hardcore journalist and young, troubled computer hacker become unlikely partners in determining the truth. And the sub-storylines...oh, the drama!

That being said, I was more disturbed by the book than I was entertained. For starters, the violence is horrific. Of course, this is the opinion of someone who can't even sit through five minutes of Law & Order. But truly, many scenes in the are book absolutely appalling.

Second, I was quite uncomfortable with author's casual approach to sex...even though I've known for years that sexual promiscuity is "normal" behavior in Sweden. Nonetheless, the actions and attitudes of the characters in the book are very different from what I believe to be moral. Call me a prude...I don't care...but I still believe in monogamous intimate relationships that begin only after a man and woman are married. (But that may be a completely different blog topic for another time.)

Third, the language. Quite simply, it was offensive.

So despite all of the rave reviews, I have chosen not to read the other two books in the trilogy. Sadly, I'm left hanging with so many questions to storylines left unanswered. But I just can't justify the entertainment value when it comes plagued with such intense violent and sexual content.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Mom Genes

We recently had an enjoyable extended weekend in St George. Among other things, we hiked in Zion National Park, shopped at the outlet stores, swam in the pool, and attended The Little Mermaid musical at Tuacahn. And let’s face it ladies…we love staying in hotels where someone else makes the beds and picks up the towels.

With so much non-stop togetherness, upon arriving home after a five-hour road trip we all scattered to different parts of the house. My husband went to his office. One daughter headed downstairs to play with her neglected Barbies while the other daughter spent some quality time with the cat in her room.

Me? If you’re a mom, you already know…I headed for the laundry room.

I spent the next three hours managing loads of dirty laundry that had accumulated over the last four days. In between washing and drying, I unpacked/put away everything else, made dinner, sorted through the mail, checked on the garden, updated girl scout uniforms with new patches, and essentially restored order to the entire Windley family universe.

Is there some sort of “mom gene” (not to be confused with mom jeans) that prohibits us from sitting still for two minutes with unpacked suitcases and piles of dirty laundry hanging around the house? I can have a fun-filled and relaxing vacation, but the moment I’m home my life becomes a multi-tasking marathon.

Unless I’m soaking in the jetted tub, I cannot relax in my own home. I’m buzzing all over the house like it’s going to come crashing down if I’m not running around to hold it up.

At this point, I imagine you’re saying to yourself “Diana, if you’d just kick the Diet Coke habit you could probably chill out a little.”

Yep…already been down that road. You can read all about it
here.

So this is my latest try-to-relax-at-home idea…hire a housekeeper. Of course I need to sell this plan to my husband, which won’t be easy.

But hey, I’ve had a full-time career for 17+ years and 9 ½ of those years include children. And it’s not like I want to hire Alice from The Brady Bunch to move in with us and date the local butcher. I just some bathroom scrubbing, floor cleaning and window washing to happen...and not by me.

So let me know if you have any recommendations on housekeeping services. Oh, and how to convince my husband it’s a fabulous idea.

I’ll keep you posted on the results.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Follow Me Please!

Dear Gentle Reader,

I'd appreciate it if you'd kindly follow my blog.

You can do so by find the "Follow Me Please" section on the right hand side of the screen... keep scrolling down past the word cloud, blogs-I-read list, witty Twitter comments, etc. (If that doesn't work, contact me and I'll walk you thru the process.)

I'm not giving away a doo-dad if you follow me. (But I might buy you a Diet Coke during Happy Hour at Sonic.)

I'm not entering you to win a what-cha-ma-call-it if you make a comment. (Unless you're interested in my snowman collection. If not, I'm going to "Give Stuff A Second Chance" at the Deseret Industries.)

I've got nothing to sell to you. (With the exception of a mortgage, auto loan, and/or checking account from my favorite credit union. Contact me for great rates!)

I barely have time to blog, let alone come up with cutesy, creative give-aways.

Besides...marketing is what I've been doing for a living for 17+ years. I need a break from that stuff at home.

But if you find it in your heart to officially follow this blog, it would make my day.

Thank you,

Diana Windley

PS -- And I promise not to stalk and hunt you down if you decline this gracious invitation.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

The Postmistress

I bought The Postmistress by Sarah Blake earlier this month. It came highly recommended by Kathryn Stockett, author of The Help...which is one of my favorite books ever! (You can read my review of The Help here.)

The Postmistress is historical fiction about two women in the year leading up to the USA officially entered World War II. One woman is radio reporter covering the war in Europe. The other woman is the postmaster in a small, resort town on the cape in Massachusetts. Their lives intersect when fate has tasked them with personally delivering news bad news to the same person.

At the beginning of the book, the women take their professional responsibilities quite seriously...almost to an extreme, robotic level. But as events in Europe begin to hit closer to home, each is ethically conflicted. What was once black and white has become shades of gray.

Although the book is very well written and thought provoking, I just couldn't get past all of the sadness. In particular, the reporter who traveled through war torn Europe helplessly witnessed so many heartbreaking scenes. Many of the events written about in the book actually occurred in 1940-41.

I was a disappointed in the The Postmistress...it wasn't what I had anticipated by reading the back cover and reviews. The book was heavy and somewhat depressing. In fact, in all of the storylines threaded through the book, there were no happy endings.

The Postmistress...not really my thing.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Eavesdropping at DFW

Last week I was sitting in the DFW airport with my husband and our girls waiting for our return flight to SLC. Airports are awesome for people watching and eavesdropping. (Don't judge…you do it too.)

In the waiting area at our gate, we sat across from a man and a woman dressed in professional business attire. I gathered they were work associates on a business trip. The very tan, 30-something woman was dressed-to-the-nines in a black skirt, silk blouse, high heels, and some swanky bling (didn’t notice a wedding ring). She spared no expense on her appearance.

As I was attempting to control my 5 year-old, I overhead the woman tell her travel companion that she was tired due to a late evening at the salon. While she was getting her hair done, Mark Cuban’s wife came in for her appointment. Mark had given her an expensive bottle of wine to take along…no doubt to celebrate the Mavericks’ recent NBA championship. All the ladies in the salon stayed late into the night getting pampered and drinking fancy wine out of paper cups toasting the Mavs.

Oh, the glamorous life of a female business professional.

How must it be?

Wait a second…I’m a female business professional too.

But I do not live in fancy clothes and jet around the country for business meetings. Nor do I rub shoulders at the salon with the wives of NBA team owners. There’s not a lot of glam in the world of Utah credit union marketing.

I buy work clothes at consignment shops and bling made in China. My last business excursion was to Provo, driving the bright-yellow company Scion 100 miles round trip. And I sip Diet Coke alongside whoever walks into Essensual Salon in South Ogden on an occasional Tuesday evening after a long day at the office.

The experience left me wondering a few things:

Which scenario (mine or Mrs. Cuban’s salon drinking buddy) is the stereotypical female business professional?


Is this the difference between women working in upscale Dallas and not-so-alluring Ogden?

Would she look that great with a couple of kids climbing all over her?

And finally, how much does it cost to get your hair done at the salon that caters to Mark Cuban’s wife?

I guess that’s what I get for people watching and eavesdropping…plenty of questions for which I’ll never know the answers.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Traveling with Children

Traveling with children is the ultimate test of patience for a wife and mother.

On our flight back to Utah from Dallas this week, I was sitting next to our 5 year-old trying to keep her occupied with coloring books, puzzles, tic-tac-toe, story books, snacks, etc. For 2 1/2 hours, every 10 minutes I was finding something else to keep her entertained.

A very generous flight attendant gave her a full can of Sprite, so I had to take her to the "lavatory". She loves the little bathroom with the little sink, little mirror, little towels, etc. For her, it's like a dollhouse. (Nevermind that there was a line for the only working lavatory on the plane...she was in no hurry to get out of there.)

Sitting across the aisle from us was my husband with our 9 year-old daughter. For the entire flight, he was reading a book and thoughtfully taking notes. Every time I looked over at him he was peacefully pensive...completely unaware of the battle taking place between his wife and 5 year-old. It was like he was at the library and I was at the zoo.

So I've decided that on our next family vacation I'm flying first-class and leaving him in the cheap seats with the kids. I'm going to put up my feet, read a book and sip a fancy non-alcoholic beverage. And if the 5 year-old has to go to the lavatory, I'll have the flight attendant remind him that passengers in coach are not allowed to use the first-class facilities.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

The Right Word

I'm having issues with a word lately...and that word is PARTNER.

In a book that I recently read, the info about the author stated that "she lives with her partner and their two children in England".

So my question is this...is the partner of the author a legally married spouse, or are they just shacked-up?

In the book, the author described a male character as living with his partner, who was a woman, and their daughter. So I don't think that I should assume that when the author refers to her significant other as her "partner," that it is a same-sex relationship

Part of me thinks that it doesn't matter because I didn't like the book in the first place, so why should I care?

But the other part of me is screaming "it does matter!"

A "partner" is your companion in business, your co-conspirator in crime, the person that you do-si-do with in a square dance.

This guy I've been living with for the last 13+ years isn't merely my "partner"...he is my husband, my best friend, my one and only love, and the father of our children.

Is my husband my partner in life? Yes, technically speaking. But I think the term "partner" sounds cold. Like referring to your children as offspring. Or your cat as a mammal.

It's just not the right word.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Room

I read Room by Emma Donoghue on a recommendation. I had it on reserve at the library for more than a month before it became available, so I thought it must be a good read. I brought the book along on our family vacation to Dallas.

The fictional story is told from the point-of-view of a five year-old boy. He has lived his entire life in an 11x11 foot room. He was born in "room", delivered by his own mother who had been held captive in "room" for seven years by a random kidnapper.

Yep...pretty heavy stuff.

The mom does a pretty good job of raising her son given the circumstances. But she's starting to lose it mentally and the boy is getting more curious about their little world.

The first half of the book is extremely repetitive, as you might imagine for two people trapped in a small space. I was bored while reading it, but just interested enough to discover if/how they would get out of their little prison.

So I kept reading.

The mom and boy did escape about mid-way through the book. I must admit that those were heart-pounding pages. But after they made it to safety, I still had more than one hundred pages to go.

The last half was even more depressing as the mom is trying to come to terms with everything that happened to her and in the world during the last seven years. She is so unstable that she can't even help her son. And the boy, he is so confused and scared that he just wants to go back to "room" to live alone with his mom. In the end, they both begin to cope with their new surroundings and make plans for a new life together.

It took four days to read the book, which is record time for me. But it was not a light, fun summer read. I found this book to be dark and depressing. Definitely not something to take along on a relaxing trip.

I was probably supposed to be inspired about people overcoming adversity and moving on, but this book was not inspirational. It had a few funny moments as the five year-old was discovering the world around him...kind of like a puppy...but other than that, it was mostly dreary and disturbing.

So I will only pass on this recommendation: unless depressing literature is your thing, don't read Room.