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Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The Hunger Games - book review

While getting together with family over the holidays, my cousin was talking about this book that she had really enjoyed. Actually, she called it "crack," which I guess is a couple steps beyond a good book. She lent the book to my stepsister, who lent it to her mother, who then lent it to me. It's been awhile since I read a good book, so I thought why not? I started reading it that evening.

I didn't get to bed until about two in the morning, when I finished the last page and was disappointed that the book was over.

Suzanne Collins has created a world and a character that completely sucks you in, and it's almost impossible to resist turning the page to find out what happens next, until there are no more pages to turn. The story is told from the point of view of Katniss Everdeen, a sixteen year old girl who had to grow up many years ago, when her father died and her mother became too depressed to take care of Katniss and her younger sister. Each year in Panem, a post-apocalyptic US, names of children from each district are drawn to compete in the Hunger Games, which is actually a fight to the death, and only one child can be the winner. When the name of Katniss' sister is drawn, Katniss feels she has no choice other than to volunteer to take her place, and so the story begins.

Like so many good heroes, Katniss honestly has no idea what about her is so special, or what it is that draws people to her. For her, the primary concern is survival, but she is also fully aware of the political agenda behind the games, and she has no wish to kill if she doesn't have to. Survival is a game she is used to playing, back home on the streets of her very poor district. More foreign to her is the adoration and attention of others, and the love and affection of the boy she knows she is ultimately going to have to kill.

On the surface, The Hunger Games is an action-filled adventure story that keeps you turning the pages, but that is certainly not all there is to it. There is plenty here also to contemplate about what we take for granted, about the importance of compassion and humanity, about what it is that makes a hero, and what things may be more important even than survival.

I've ordered the second book, Catching Fire, and eagerly await both its arrival and that of the final book, Mockingjay, which will be coming out in August.

Crack, indeed. My cousin was right. The book is definitely addictive. Side effects may include hours of lost sleep while staying up re-reading it for the fourth time, thinking in depth about the things in life you value and/or take for granted, expanded imagination, greater appreciation of food and of life in general.

I guess there are worse addictions.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Valentine's Day

So, today is Valentine's Day. Quite possibly the most dreaded holiday of the year for a single person - or even for a person who is part of a couple, if they don't know what to get their other. My sister calls it "Single Awareness Day," which made me giggle when she first said it. It is true, though. If you are single, truly, what other day of the year makes you so keenly aware of it? Many might argue (not without cause) that it's a holiday made up by greeting card companies and chocolate manufacturers. While the roots of it go back a little further than Hallmark, it does seem that they profit from the day more than anyone else.

Most of that, I think, is due to how commercialized most of our holidays have become. The underlying spirit and meaning has been eradicated by the blitz of marketing by companies hoping to make a profit on people's good intentions. On the surface, Valentine's Day is that day you buy chocolates, cards and jewelry, just like on Thanksgiving you get together to eat ungodly amounts of food and on Christmas you hang sparkly things on a tree and put expensive gifts in boxes wrapped in expensive paper to everyone you know. These are the gestures and the ritual, but they are not the holiday. That is not the spirit in which these things began. Valentine's Day is about love, and there are many more kinds of love than just the romantic kind. I think today should be a day to show those you love that you appreciate them. Not just your boyfriend or girlfriend or husband or wife, but also that friend who has always been there for you, or the family member that you can always count on. We could stop for a moment and think about those we have given love to in the past, even if it didn't work out. They are a part of our journey, too, after all, and it is the journey that has made us who we are.

Above all, remember to love and appreciate yourself today. You're far more amazing, wonderful and beautiful than you give yourself credit for. If you do happen to be single at the moment and are stressing about it, don't. As amazing as you are, there is undoubtedly someone amazing in your future. Your future is just the now that you haven't seen yet. Sometimes it's just fun to think about the possibilities.

An Introduction

The Universe has been sending me hints that I should begin a blog, and so here I am. I do love the internet, and am thrilled at how this web of connections crosses time and space to bring us all that much closer. It's no replacement for human contact, of course, but it's a great deal better than writing letters or sending telegrams, and in this age of vlogs and video it's better than a telephone in many cases as well. I especially love that it no longer takes a corporation and clever marketing to make someone famous. Our destinies are squarely back in our own hands... not that anyone else ever took them away in the first place, but it was easy to believe so.

For the most part, I am an internet observer. I read some blogs, I watch videos on YouTube, and I soak it all in, but rarely do I put any part of myself *out there.* I guess this blog is my way of participating in the global community that is growing more each day.

Now that I've got a blog, the next question is, what shall I write about? I've got quite a few options. I'm an aspiring writer with at least one finished novel and many more stories in the works. I could use this as my networking vehicle as I try to get my stories published, and discuss the journey to one day becoming (hopefully) a published author. I am also in school for shiatsu and massage therapy, so I could talk about the benefits of that and the insights of being a bodyworker. I could discuss Traditional Chinese Medicine, which is what shiatsu is based on. I also am a Registered Nurse who works with a mentally ill population, and so I have that perspective. Too, I am a very philosophical person with a tendency to think too much, and I am sure I could come up with many thinky thoughts to blog about. I also consider myself a very spiritual person, with a lot of ideas about how life and the universe works. I don't ascribe to any particular religion, but that does not make me any less enthusiastic about what I believe. And I am a fangirl.... I have my favorite bands, favorite TV shows, favorite movies, etc. that I could probably spend many entries singing the praises of.

So how do I narrow that down into a specific theme for a blog? The solution I've come up with is, I won't. All of these things are part of who I am, and I'm not going to put on a specific mask for this blog. What you will get, in snippets and paragraphs, is me, and I refuse to narrow myself to a simple definition. I hope you'll stick around, though. I think it'll be fun.