30th Nov2010

Day 14: A Non~Fiction Book

by Daenel

The Autobiography of Malcolm XI guess if I had to pick one non~fiction book that had the most profound affect on me it would have to be The Autobiography of Malcolm X by Alex Haley and Malcolm X.  The first time I read it I think I was about 13 or 14 years old and I just remember being totally engrossed in the story.  For years, I’d only heard the traditional story of the Civil Rights Movement:

Rosa Parks was a nice older woman who was tired, so she refused to give up her seat and was arrested.  As a result of her arrest, Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. and others staged a bus boycott.  The end….

As I got a little bit older, I’d hear rumblings about a man named Malcolm X but there were never any details.  He was always whispered about ~ “that militant”, “an ex~con”, “by any means necessary”….  Those were the code words, but no one would ever say exactly why he was so universally disliked by both blacks and whites.  I wanted to know the deal.  So I read his book.

Something within me resonated as I read the story of this willful, red~headed black boy struggling to find his place in the world.  I was, at that time, a willful~red~headed~yellow~skinned~freckle~faced girl who was struggling to find my place too.  I loved reading about his escapades on the trains, his encounters with Redd Foxx, etc.  It was so exciting ~ his life as a hustler, etc.  But I also identified with his desire to connect with something bigger than himself.  But more than anything else, I understood his growing frustration with the world around him.

I was coming of age when Spike Lee was producing movies like School Daze and Do the Right Thing.  People were talking about divesting from South Africa.  Nelson Mandela was sitting in prison.  It was all too much for my young mind to handle.

As I read his words, I learned that he wasn’t violent for the sake of being violent, he was reacting to the violence that was surrounding him.  He was growing tired of watching his brothers and sisters get attacked by dogs just for the right to be treated with the same dignity with which all people should be treated.

Two of my favorite quotes by Malcolm X are:

“My Alma Mater was books, a good library… I could spend the rest of my life reading, just satisfying my curiosity.”


“Be peaceful, be courteous, obey the law, respect everyone; but if anyone puts a hand on you, send him to the cemetery.”

What non~fiction book had the greatest impact on you?  Why?

29th Nov2010

Makeup~Free Mondays

by Daenel

Makeup Free MondaysI love makeup.  Specifically, I love Bare Escentuals makeup because it gives me a flawless face with natural coverage.  And don’t get me started on the glosses (my fave is a Buxom called “Dani” ~ a purply pink)…  Moving on, ’cause this isn’t a post about Bare Escentuals, but if you’ve never given it a try, I’d recommend it.

This is, however, a post about being natural and celebrating “real beauty.”  Ideas I support whole~heartedly as the mother of 3 teenage girls (all of whom I’ve described as being “self~confident to a friggin’ fault”).  Anyway, last week, I came across a post on iVillage about Makeup~Free Mondays, a Real Beauty Movement started by Alexis Wolfer at The Beauty Bean.  The idea is to go makeup free (or as makeup free as you’re comfortable with) on Mondays to “make a difference in the way women around the world perceive their bodies, internalize beauty and feel about themselves.”

So beginning next Monday, 6 December, I will be participating in the Makeup~Free Monday Challenge.  This means I’ll be posting a picture of myself without my makeup and going about my day with a nekkid face.  Eep!  I’ll also post a tip for going makeup free each week.

You can join Makeup~Free Mondays on Facebook or follow them on Twitter.

Let me know if you’ll be joining the Makeup~Free Monday Challenge in the comments below.

Disclosure:  I didn’t receive any compensation for this post, I really do love Bare Escentuals but I also support the idea of women embracing their natural selves.

29th Nov2010

Day 13: A Fictional Book (That Turned Into My “To Read” List for 2011)

by Daenel
Perfect Peace by Daniel Black

To see read by book reviews, click the picture

Hmmmm…..  I’m not really certain what I’m supposed to write about here.  This is such a broad topic.  Should I write about a fictional book that I hated or loved?  One that was life changing for me?  A book that I could have gone my whole life without reading?  *sound of book pages blowing in the wind as I ponder the possibilities*

Honestly, I think I covered all of my favorite books on Day 4, so I’ll just make a list of  fictional books that I’d like to read in 2011.

I’ve put them in alphabetical order by author because, well, you know, there has to be some sort of order here:

  1. Perfect Peace by Daniel Black
  2. Sarah’s Key by Tatiana de Rosnay
  3. Room by Emma Donoghue
  4. Beautiful and Damned by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  5. The False Friend by Myla Goldberg
  6. A Reliable Wife by Robert Goolrick
  7. Saving CeeCee Honeycutt:  A Novel by Beth Hoffman
  8. Lady Chatterley’s Lover by D. H. Lawrence
  9. The Hand that First Held Mine by Maggie O’Farrell
  10. Doctor Zhivago by Boris Pasternak
  11. Some Sing Some Cry by Ntozake Shange and Ifa Bayeza
  12. The Shack by William Paul Young

I’ve chosen the books above for a variety of reasons ~ some because they’re classics and I’ve never read them, others because they were recommended by various book clubs and the rest because the synopsis grabbed my attention.  My goal is to read one book per month and write a review, hopefully, this will work out.  Since I have the Nook app on my Android and I’ve downloaded Nook for PC, I really don’t have any excuses for not having my books with me.

What is your must read book for 2011?

Disclosure:  All of the books link to the Nookbook® versions of the titles on the Barnes and Noble website.  I do not receive any compensation should you decide to purchase the book.  I’m simply providing a link so you can read the summaries.

27th Nov2010

Day 12: Something I’m OCD About

by Daenel

Shoe ClosetHa!  This is an easy one.  I’m hyper~organized.  I used to be in the Army and one of the first things they drilled into my head was organization ~ socks, tees, undies, they all had to be folded/rolled up so they were the same length as a dollar bill.  I remember taping my things to the bottom of my drawer so they wouldn’t roll around when the drawer closed and using toilet paper roll inserts to keep my tees smooth.  There was nothing worse than failing an inspection.   Anyway, that need for organization has stuck.

I often tell my children that I could get dressed in the dark and still come out matching.  My clothes are organized according to sleeve length, collar type and color.  My pants are separated according to color, weight and purpose.  And everything is hung up facing the same direction (with all buttons buttoned and snaps snapped).  Shoes, boots and slippers are similarly organized (style, heel height, color, etc).

This hyper~organization also extends to my kitchen cabinets.

I don’t make my kids follow my rules (although, when they were little, their clothes were hung on color coded hangers and all of their shoes were organized by color and purpose).  I do, however, insist that they have a path from their beds to their doors just in case of emergency.

So what are you OCD about?  Are your closets  organized or do you have a grab and go system?

27th Nov2010

My Wish for My Students

by Daenel

Students ReadingI’ve worked in an academic setting for quite a while now and during the course of my years as an instructor and librarian, I’ve come across a variety of students ~ those who are in college to get an education, those who are in college because Mom and Dad said they had to attend and those who are in college because they don’t have anywhere else to go.  And as I’ve encountered the last two groups of students, a part of me wants to reach out, grab them by the shoulders and just shake them.  Instead, of resorting to bodily harm, I think I’ll just share my thoughts here.

It frustrates me to see students not taking advantage of the opportunities before them.  I know that part of the thrill of college is being away from home and discovering who you are but the main point of college is to get an education.  Looking back, I wish that I had asked my professors more questions and participated more in my classes.  I wish that I had taken the time to get to know the librarians at my first college, they really are your best friends when it comes to doing research and writing papers.  But, mostly, I wish that I had taken advantage of the different programs that were offered, especially the study abroad program.  Do you know how awesome it is to have the opportunity to go overseas and study?  To immerse yourself in another culture and learn to recognize the similarities and embrace the differences…  Incredible.

When I’m teaching or working as a librarian, I try so hard not to let my frustration get the best of me but sometimes it’s hard.  I went back to school after a four year stint in the military, marriage and the birth of four kids.  I received my first Master’s in American History and my second Master’s in Library and Information Science.  Going back to school as an adult learner was difficult.  While there were many advantages to returning to school as a nontraditional student (focus, desire, etc), there were also many disadvantages (money, time, familial and occupational obligations).  Studying late at night, with a baby on your hip, or writing papers between stirring peas and frying chicken isn’t easy.  So when I appear a little snappish or I start complaining a little too much, it’s not because I’m angry, it’s because I just don’t want my students to squander their opportunities.  My wish for my students is that they will not look back and wish they had done things differently.

23rd Nov2010

Do You Have “Couple Friends”?

by Daenel

Do you remember that episode of “King of Queens” when Carrie and Doug lose Deacon and Kelly to another couple who has kids so they spend the entire episode trying to find a replacement couple?  Well, Tony and I have been trying to find that couple for years now. Ok, maybe I haven’t been actively participating in the search but Tony has done his fair share of couple scouting.  And he finally hit the jackpot a couple of nights ago…

There are these two couples from his job that we’ve been trying to get together with for a couple of months now but due to scheduling conflicts, someone always had to cancel.  We kept meeting individually at different events ~ their weddings and such but never at a time when we could all sit down and talk. Finally, the date was set for Friday, 19 November and no backing out.  Mostly because this was a going away dinner for one of the couples.  I know, right?  We finally to get together and it’s to say “Good bye.”

Anyway, I was a little nervous.  Have I told y’all how incredibly panic stricken I get in social situations?  It’s really bad.  I know, I teach classes and work as a librarian, you’d think I’d have the social skills of Ellen Degeneres, nope…  I’m incredibly shy.  So we arrived at the couple’s house and immediately the conversation starts flowing.  I’m talking to the wife and we’re laughing, my crutch (aka Tony) is off with her husband talking about “man stuff.”  Then the  other couple arrived and the conversation continued to flow…  Throughout dinner, we were just laughing and talking over each other, etc., it was like we were old friends.

Tony and I had to leave a little early due to a family emergency and as I was leaving I remarked that we always have to say bye at the most inopportune times…  Here we’d struck “couple gold” not once but twice and the evening had to end much too soon with the chances of us being able to duplicate it very slim.

As we drove home, I told Tony there was no way we were going to wait for the other couple to get ready to move before we invited them over for dinner.  I want us to have couple friends that we both enjoy hanging out with.  As important as it is for people to have individual friends (a BFF or what have you), I think it’s equally important for couples to have “couple friends.”

Couple friends are those friends you have who are either married or in a committed relationship that both you and your spouse or significant other enjoy being around.  They offer laughs, shared experiences and support.

Do you and your spouse have “couple friends”?  How’d you meet?

23rd Nov2010

Day 11: A Recent Photo of Me

by Daenel
Day 11: A Recent Photo of Me

Tuesday, 24 November 2010

Sitting at the Reference Desk waiting… I’m not waiting on anything in particular, most of the students have gone home for Thanksgiving break so time is passing by so slowly. Later tonight, after the rest of the students have left, I’ll probably finish this book that I’ve downloaded to the Nook app on my computer. Bless the creators of the Nook app…

What do you do to pass the time?

22nd Nov2010

I’m Back, Sort Of

by Daenel

I don’t know what happened but I caught something that totally kicked my butt. Giving my kids and these college students the side~eye ’cause I know whatever funky little virus I picked up had to have come from these walking talking petri dishes.  Thursday evening, I left work and I felt fine.  Friday morning I was A~OK, hanging out with the husband but feeling a little tired, around 3 PM, “something” hit me like a bolt of lightening and I wanted to collapse.  At 4 PM, my husband remembered that we had plans to attend a going away dinner for our friends.  Dead woman walking.

I ended up spending all day Saturday in bed, taught class on Sunday and collapsed in my bed until 2:45 Sunday afternoon.  Then I had to pull the evening shift at the library.  Yes, I did feel guilty about going to work sick but there really wasn’t a way for me to get around it.  Fortunately, librarians are notorious germaphobes, so there’s plenty of hand sanitizer and anti~bacterial spray around, which I’ve used quite liberally.

Tonight, I’m feeling better, not quite 100% but I no longer want to cut off my own head with the nearest butter knife so…

20th Nov2010

Out Sick….

by Daenel


…I will return to regularly scheduled posting as soon as I can hold my head up without it leaking.

18th Nov2010

Day 10: A Picture of Me 10 Years Ago

by Daenel

A Picture of Me 10 Years Ago

I had just finished cooking my first Thanksgiving meal and I was so proud of myself…

What were you doing 10 years ago?

18th Nov2010

I Want Chili!

by Daenel

Texas~Style Chili

This morning I woke up at 4:30 thinking about chili.  Yes, you read right, chili.  As in I desperately wanted some chili right then and there.  No, I’m not pregnant or anything, just slightly off my rocker.  So I grabbed my cookbook and started hunting for a quick and easy chili recipe.  Here’s where I have to give a big ol’ shout out to my mother~in~law, I never would have bought my own cookbook and I was pretty offended when she gave this one to me, now I’m grateful.

Texas~Style Chili*

Nonstick cooking spray
1 lb lean boneless beef chuck, cut into pieces
2 c chopped onions
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbs chili powder
1 tbs ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp dried oregano leaves
2 1/2 c reduced~sodium beef broth
1 c prepared salsa or picante sauce
2 cans (16 oz each) pinto or red beans (or one can of each), rinsed and drained
1/2 c chopped fresh cilantro
1/2 c nonfat sour cream
1 c chopped ripe tomatoes

1. Spray Dutch oven or large saucepan with cooking spray; heat over medium high heat until hot. Add beef, onions and garlic, cook and stir until beef is no longer pink, about 5 min. Sprinkle mixture with chili powder, cumin, coriander and oregano; mix well. Add beef broth and salsa, bring to a boil. Cover, simmer 45 minutes.

2. Stir in beans; continue to simmer uncovered 30 minutes or until beef is tender and chili has thickened, stirring occasionally.

3. Stir in cilantro. Ladle into bowls, top with sour cream and tomatoes. Garnish with pickled jalapeño peppers, if desired.

*Recipe comes from One Dish Recipes/Secrets of Slow Cooking (now out of print)

I serve my chili with rice, how do you serve yours?

17th Nov2010

Day 9: A Photograph that I Took

by Daenel
Tony Wilkes Barre PA 2010

To see more pictures, click on the picture above

I took this picture of my husband with my BlackBerry Storm while we were walking through an underpass. It’s one of my favorite pictures because it was taken on the spur of the moment, yet, it came out so perfect.

For more Wordless Wednesday pictures, go here

Have you ever taken a spontaneous picture that came out really well?

16th Nov2010

Day 8: A Photo that Makes Me Sad

by Daenel
Dad and His Daughters

Shontel, Dad, Jacqueline and Daenel circa 1976

My dad died unexpectedly a few years ago and, unfortunately, this was the last picture that the four of us ever took together.  My parents divorced when we were young and, after living with my dad for about a year, I moved with my mom, sisters and stepfather to Italy and didn’t see my dad again until I was an adult.  My dad was an incredible artist and musician who never failed to make me laugh.  I miss and love him dearly.

16th Nov2010

From Stepmother to Friend, It Can Happen

by Daenel

This afternoon as I was driving to work, I started scanning the radio for something to listen to.  Usually I listen to the oldies station (nothing like singing to the top of your lungs to Diana Ross and the Supremes) or I listen to talk radio (that means Rush Limbaugh because he’s the only voice on in the afternoons around here).  However, I do listen to Steve Corbett when I get a chance and I watch CNN and Fox News on television.  I teach American History and Political Science, I like to be able to present both sides of the argument.

Anyway, today I happened to stop on a new christian station (or maybe it’s just new to me) because the topic was about how to be a “smart stepmother“, the show was produced by Focus on the Family.  I’m a stepmother so I was interested in what they had to say about overcoming the challenges of being a stepparent when you’re not quite sure of your role in your stepchild’s life.  Anyway, as I listened to the different stories being related by the hosts, it took me back to when my husband and I first married and I became stepmother to his 9~year~old daughter…

Up until I met my husband, I hadn’t had much contact with children over the age of 4, so I was not prepared when my husband’s daughter came to our house for her first visit.  I didn’t know what to say to her beyond “Hi” and I wasn’t sure if I should hug her, play dolls with her, comb her hair, etc.  And my husband, bless him, wasn’t much help.  Men are just different.  For the first few days, she would just kind of stare at me or I’d see her peeping around corners at me, sometimes I’d turn around and she’d just be there.  Right behind me.  And she wouldn’t say a word.  One day, I pulled my husband aside and said “Hey, talk to your kid, she’s freaking me out!”  Later, after going through four more tweenage stalkings, I realized that all nine~year~olds are weird.

As the years passed, my stepdaughter and I settled into an awkward pattern of “hello~hug~ignore~hug~goodbye.”  Then she hit her teens.  On the one hand, I was deathly afraid of her and on the other hand, I felt like that 9~year~old kid peeping around corners at her.  She totally fascinated me at that age but by then I had settled into that “stepmother” role:  not mother not friend and not enemy.  I was her father’s wife, mother of her stepsister, half~sisters and half~brother.  I thought my chance at making a connection had ended.

Then she turned 18 and asked me to take her to get her belly button pierced.  I was honored.  I know, right?  If it’s any consolation, by that time I’d had my belly button pierced twice, my nose done three times and I had a tattoo.  I thought this was going to be the chance for us to bond.  Yeah.  No.  She promptly put in her earphones and rode to the tattoo parlor in silence.

A few years later, when she found out she was pregnant, she texted me in the middle of the night and asked me what I wanted the baby to call me.  Her mother and her boyfriend’s mother had already picked out names (because we’re all way to hip to be called “grandma”).  I read the message over and over, tears streaming down my face.  This girl that I had watched grow into a beautiful young woman was now shifting our relationship from stepmother to grandmother.  I was touched beyond belief.

We have since celebrated the birth of our grandson and I have received numerous pictures, video clips, Facebook messages (yes, we are Facebook official ~ she sent me the request and I accepted it), etc with anecdotes about the kids.

But the final piece of acceptance came for me last year when my stepdaughter announced that she was getting married.  Until then our relationship had been centered on the kids and our mutual love for them.  Still I wasn’t sure of where I stood in her eyes.  As far as I was concerned, she was as much my child as the four people living under my roof.

Then one night I received a text message from my daughter saying that she wished I could be there to help with the wedding plans, but since I couldn’t she’d send me pictures of everything.  And she did…  hairstyles, dresses, shoes,  make up, etc.  I felt so much a part of the wedding planning, even though I was in Pennsylvania and she was in Texas.  I was even “included” at her bachelorette party ~ pictures, texts, phone calls, etc.

To this day I keep my phone beside my bed because I never know when I’ll be awoken by the gentle vibration of my daughter wanting to connect in the middle of the night.

Are you a stepparent?  When did you first realize that you had made that connection?

15th Nov2010

Day 7: A Photo That Makes Me Happy

by Daenel

Family Picture

I love this picture of my family, it was taken about eleven years ago.  Every time I see this picture, I smile when I see the way my children used to be:  so full of hope and promise.  Now I see them as young adults and I’ve been blessed to see the fulfillment of everything that I hoped they’d become and more.

Do you have a photograph that makes you smile?

14th Nov2010

Raunchy Diesel Ad Too Hot for the Brooklyn Law School Library

by Daenel
Daenel Behind the Book

To See the Pictures, Click on the Picture Above

Um, wow!  It takes a lot to make me blush but I have to say, the risqué photographs taken by Diesel in the Brooklyn Law School library are enough to make even this librarian’s bun get tight.

The Brooklyn Law School library is reportedly upset about the pictures and the interim dean has sent an email to faculty, staff and students stating as much but my question is this ~ when they gave photographers permission to use their premises for the photographs, did they give them carte blanche?  Was no one from the library or college staff on site to make sure things went off without a hitch?  And if not, maybe they should reconsider their  publicity policy.  Furthermore, I would think that there would be some sort of “morals clause” in the contract, after all, the photographs will represent the school when people find out the pictures were shot on their campus.

Libraries, businesses, people, they all have to be aware of branding and image.  Just because a company has name recognition (and money) doesn’t mean they’ll be a good match for your business.  Sometimes you need to just say no.

What do you think?  Are these simple advertising photographs or do they push the limits of good taste?  Does it bother you that they were taken in a library?


Living Outside the Stacks is using WP-Gravatar