Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Book Blogger Convention: Who I Saw, What They Said (Part 1)

After taking the (very) early morning train through three states into New York City (see my previous Book Blogger Con post here), I arrived at the Javits Center in time to join this table of bloggers (and others too) for breakfast. 

(That nearly didn't happen, as Penn Station was never freakin' announced as a stop on my particular Amtrak train.  There I was, engrossed in The Story of Beautiful Girl, and all of sudden there we were in New York!)

Anyway, breakfast.  Most of the bloggers I noshed with were ones already in my Google Reader, which was awesome.  And a few were new to me, which was fun. 

Pictured (standing) is Ash from English Major's Junk Food, Megan from Leafing Through Life; seated are Teddy Rose from So Many Precious Books, So Little Time (and Virtual Author Book Tours.com), Teresa from Shelf Love, Jill from Rhapsody in Books, and Florinda from The 3Rs Blog.  Earlier, before the photo was taken, we also had the pleasure of chatting with Karen from Sassy Monkey Reads, Kim from Sophisticated Dorkiness, and Rebecca from Rebecca Reads (and host of The Classics Circuit)!

I also had a chance to say hello to Midnyte Reader while getting coffee and Sheila from Book Journey stopped by our table to say hi. (I met both of these ladies at last year's Book Blogger Con, so it was great to see them again.)

Then it was time to do the swag. (I loved the "build your own swag bag" component to this year's BBC, even if the actual bag to swag with was a bit petite. As for the books, I'll tell you more about them in another post.) I had a great conversation in line with Karin LeFranc, author of the children's book A Quest for Good Manners.  Karin would later stop by our table during lunch, where I snapped this photo of her with my friend Michelle from Red Headed Book Child.  (Michelle and I met over lunch at last year's Book Blogger Con, so having lunch together at BBC is now kind of a tradition for us.) 

But I'm getting a bit ahead of myself here.  Before lunch, there was the keynote address by the hilariously funny Sarah Wendell from Smart Bitches, Trashy Books

Here's one of my favorite bloggers (and Book Blogger Convention coordinator extraordinaire) Rebecca Joines Schinsky of The Book Lady's Blog introducing Sarah. 

A rapt audience of bloggers, authors, publishers, and publicists.

I know, could that photo be any worse?  (I admit, I didn't edit all of these and my apologies for such.  Had I done so, you'd be reading this post next year.) 

I'll also admit that I'm not much of a romance reader and I was only slightly familiar with Sarah's blog, but that didn't matter.  Her message was universal and reflected the sentiments in the book The Blessing of a Skinned Knee (which has been on my want-to-read list for awhile now).

"I am but a grain of sand," Sarah said.  "And the world was created for everyone."

Meaning that, even though there were an average of 72,000 blogs created in the past 24 hours, there's room for everyone in the vast blogosphere, especially book bloggers. 

"Everyone's opinion on a book is valid," said Sarah. 

She also had the parents in the audience nodding knowingly when she said that having a website (or a blog) is like having a child.

"You have to feed it almost every day," the self-described "fully-certified Jewish mother" deadpanned to the laughing audience. "You're up at 3 a.m. with a child, and you're up at 3 a.m. writing a post for your blog. You need to sort problems out.  There are viruses.  People vomit unexpectedly."

One of the reasons blogging has exploded, Sarah said, is supported by Clay Shirkey's theory that we've inherited more free time and this have a "cognitive surplus."  This has made us more interactive with our entertainment and we crave such.

Sarah went on to say that the idea and desire of taking our blogs to "the next level" is something that is different for each of us.  It's all about your own goals related to your blog.  Some want more comments and followers; others want to hobnob with publishers or speak at conferences; others want to monetize their blogs.  Sarah shared that her goal was to have Smart Bitches, Trashy Books make enough money through advertising to cover her children's tuition at summer camp.  It does that, and more. 
Regardless of the goal, only one person can make it happen, she said.  "I only get somewhere by kicking my own ass." 

And you get there by dealing in the blogger's currency of being consistent and authentic.  That doesn't, she clarified, mean "reveal all."

It's "the Mafia rule," she explained.  "You don't talk about the family and you don't talk about the job."  It's also OK to admit that you were wrong.  (That might not fall into the Mafia rule all that much, based on my viewings of The Sopranos.) 

Sarah encouraged bloggers not to fear the bad review.  "It helps communicate what you like."  In addition, she wishes that more authors would review books.  If they did, then the notion of authors reviewing books might become less controversial.  As it is now, they're discouraged from doing so. 

She also wished that there could be a sales measure in the publishing industry similar to that in the music business.  When albums achieve certain sales benchmarks, they become platinum and then gold.  (Or is it gold and THEN platinum?  Eh ... doesn't matter.) The question is, why isn't there a similar sales standard for books?   (Someone in the audience remarked that this is because the sales data isn't there on the publishing end.  Sales of hardbacks might be counted as separate from paperbacks.)  Sarah thought that rectifying this would be beneficial to the publishing world, to authors, and to bloggers. 

Regardless, Sarah said, "[w]e [bloggers] are making an impact on how publishing happens. Look at us! We have our own conference!"

Indeed, we do.  And I'll have more to tell you about our own conference (lunch! more panels! author speed dating!) in the next installment of my Book Blogger Convention wrap up posts. 

copyright 2011, Melissa, The Betty and Boo Chronicles If you are reading this on a blog or website other than The Betty and Boo Chronicles or via a feedreader, this content has been stolen and used without permission.

Book Blogger Convention: From Cities in Dark and Dawn, To the City That Never Sleeps

There is something magical about seeing a city awaken, unfolding to the potential and promise of the day ahead.  It's almost a privilege, really, to witness this transformation, to see things in a different light than usual.

It awakens part of oneself, seeing our world from a different vantage point.

I loved that aspect of taking the early morning train last year to New York for Book Blogger Convention (just for the day as I did this year). In a weird way, I almost didn't mind my 3:00 a.m. wake up call, my 40 minute drive to the station while fueled by adrenaline. (Truth be told, I might have been awake at 3:00 a.m. anyway, given my excitement for this day.)

A handful of us broke night on the platform of Wilmington's renovated train station, the beams and posts almost gleaming in the aftermath of construction dust and detours now brushed away.  Now renamed in honor of our Vice President, its most famous rider and bringer of federal funds, I barely recognized the station since my last visit.

The sun broke over my city of Philadelphia as we approached, as I read an email on my BlackBerry about the exciting news that Anna Lefler, humor blogger ("Life Just Keeps Getting Weirder") extraordinaire, just signed a book deal. Anna is extremely talented and so deserving of this - and her publishers know so too, as they sought her out for this next chapter in her life.  Yeah ... THEY came to HER.

(Can't get more pumped up than that while heading to a blogging convention, eh? It can happen, folks.)

We bloggers are, indeed, our own City of Brotherly (Bloggerly?) Love.  There might be drama from time to time, but as would be said on several occasions throughout the day ahead, we are a community.  We consider each other friends.  Even bloggers who weren't familiar with Anna's blog were thrilled with her new success, when Florinda and I shared the news. We bloggers cheer each other on. 

We rolled past Philadelphia ....

New York resembled a pen and ink sketch, an etching in the distance. 

We would be coming together in that city, to celebrate our love of words.  The words of others crafted in books as well as our own words that express our passion for them. What we do with our words is up to each of us, individually.

As bloggers, we are still on the cusp of all the potential that we can hold. We are being noticed, we are making a difference. 

We are the city.  We are coming into the light of our days.

Book Blogger Convention recap, to be continued ....

"Somewhere in the middle of the neverending noise
There is a constant steady rhythm of a heart that beats
And a million voices blend into a single voice
And you can hear it in the clamour of the crowded streets
People come and take their chances
Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose a lot
Come make your own contribution to this melting pot

I'm the street you walk
The language you talk
I am the city
The skyline is me and the energy
I am the city ...."

"I Am the City" ~ ABBA

copyright 2011, Melissa, The Betty and Boo Chronicles If you are reading this on a blog or website other than The Betty and Boo Chronicles or via a feedreader, this content has been stolen and used without permission.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Welcome, New Readers!

Hello and welcome to new readers visiting The Betty and Boo Chronicles for the first time! Perhaps we met at the Book Blogger Convention on Friday, or maybe you saw one of my Armchair BEA posts, or my post about Baby Gia that appeared last week on BlogHer. Regardless of how you've arrived, I'm delighted you're here.

(I'm keeping this up as a"sticky post," meaning that it will stay up as the first post for a couple days or so. My most current ramblings will be the next post after this one - all you need to do is scroll down to see them.  That is, if you're inclined to do so.  Which I hope you are.)

So without further ado:

Betty and Boo are my 9 year old girl/boy twins.
Sometimes they go by other less-fictitious names too.

I've been blogging for 2.5 years.
Since August 14, 2008, if you want to get technical.  There are approximately 275 people subscribed to this blog, which never ceases to boggle my mind ... even though I'm related to a few of them. 

I'm what I call a "potluck-dinner" kind of blogger.
As one of my best blogging friends says, I blog primarily - but not exclusively - about books. You never really know what you're going to get on any given day around here, in this space. Most likely, I'm talking about books.  I tend to read the following genres. 

(contemporary and literary)

Short Stories
(I'm currently in love with the novel-within-short-stories format.)

Memoirs and Biographies

(main nonfiction interests are cultural issues, media (new and old)/journalism/politics, 
women and girls issues, LGBT, nonprofits, and special needs/disabilities)

I also blog often about our family's experiences with autism (specifically, Asperger's Syndrome), which our son has.

Or, I might blog my thoughts/opinions about something in the news, especially if it's of a local nature and hasn't yet gone national or that I think should go national. Or, I may offer up some political commentary or a dinner recipe that, miraculously, all four of us actually liked. Or, sometimes you'll get a few paragraphs of some of my writing - be it a short story, a poem, novel excerpt, whatever. 

All of the photographs on my blog are my own (unless I say so). 

If you're so inclined, click on the My Best Posts tab above for examples of ... well, my best posts (in my opinion).  Peruse the Most Popular Posts in the Past 30 Days sidebar to see which of my posts are striking a chord (or a nerve) here. Or, you can take a look through the sidebar column "What I Tend to Write About Here" and click on the labels within.

In addition, my Book Review Index page lists the majority of reviews I've written here since August 2008. If you're a publicist/publisher, my post on 7 Things to Know Before I Review Your Book outlines my book review policy. 

Where am I?
I'm an East Coast girl. A Philadelphia native with a strong enough City of Brotherly Love accent that the OnStar navigation people (we're on a first name basis) immediately know where I was raised. I'm currently living in a teeny tiny state where everybody knows your name. We're relocating to Pittsburgh the very nanosecond that someone buys our house. 

And when I'm not blogging ...
I'm a consultant launching a new firm partnering with nonprofits on their fundraising/communications strategies (particularly through blogging and social media) as well as businesses, foundations, and individuals who want to enhance their philanthropic presence in their communities. 

Thank you so much for stopping by for what I hope will be the beginning of many more visits together.  (And if you're new - or just want to say hi - I'd love for you to leave a comment so I can visit your blog, too.)

copyright 2011, Melissa, The Betty and Boo Chronicles If you are reading this on a blog or website other than The Betty and Boo Chronicles or via a feedreader, this content has been stolen and used without permission.

Memorial Day Guest Post from The Husband: True Son

Harold Becker [bottom] holds the rifle that belonged to his father, Charles Conrad Becker [top], who fought in the Civil War.

I remember in high school I had a teacher with whom I became friendly. In conversation one day, she mentioned that her father had been born in 1870. "1870!?!?" I said, with my sledgehammer tact. Indeed, 1870. It turned out that her father - a German immigrant - fathered her when he was 70 years old, dying shortly thereafter. Later, I'd learn about the founding of the German federation out of a series of city-states - Prussia being the largest - in 1871 and realize that my teacher's father had been older than the nation of Germany itself.

Today, there are a few examples of such primogeniture that even outstrip that of my teacher. One such case is that of 93-year old Harold Becker, a retired chemist from Western Michigan. Becker is a rarity, what is called a "true son": a man whose father fought in the Civil War in the Union Army.

The story is pretty amazing. Becker's father, Charles Conrad Becker, lied about his age in 1864 to enlist at 17. Like in the case of my teacher, Charles Becker was 70 when Harold, his youngest child, was born. Charles lived to be 87, thus leaving his son with plenty of stories and memories about the war.

"I think my dad was always interested in keeping the country together," Becker told the Detroit Free-Press, explaining what motivated his father to fight for the Union. "He'd go to the porch overlooking White Lake and tell me stories about the Civil War."

Today, of course, is Memorial Day. While there is much confusion in popular culture as to the origin of the day - it was a holiday created in 1868 to honor the Civil War dead - we all know it is a day to honor those who have died in our wars over the last 235 years.

Today, Harold Becker remembers seeing his father's blue Union Army uniform hanging in an upstairs closet, the pockets always filled with chocolate for a curious little boy. He remembers the Civil War veterans pension checks -- about $100 a month -- that were used to pay bills. He remembers the short, mustachioed figure, dashing in Grand Army of the Republic regalia, heading off to a meeting at the G.A.R. post.

Becker is among fewer than 50 men nationwide who can say their fathers fought in the Civil War, which began 150 years ago last month. His father died of a heart attack when Harold Becker was in his late teens. This left time for Charles to pass along to Harold numerous stories of the conflict that divided the nation.

Charles Becker was just 17 in 1864, but claimed he was two years older to join Co. H, 128th Indiana Infantry. He saw action at the Battle of Franklin [Tennessee], telling his son of a supply line that stretched for a mile. After the war's end in April 1865, Charles was one of many given the morbid and solemn assignment to disinter the dead from mass graves and bury them individually.

Harold Becker recently visited the historic Tennessee battle site. "The [guide] showed me where my father actually fought," Becker told the Free-Press. Becker also traveled to the storied Gettysburg battlefield, where he even met the son of a Confederate soldier.

Becker said his father had four or five children - he was never clear on the exact number - with his first wife and then married Elizabeth Ofenloch, a woman 30 years his junior, with whom he had four more children. Harold was the youngest of all Becker's children. When he was still a boy, his father, who had owned a grocery store in Chicago, relocated the family to Montague, Michigan. There Charles Becker, who died in 1934, is buried.

Occasionally, Harold Becker said, his father would regale him with stories of Civil War experiences he shared with other grizzled soldiers from the Grand Army of the Republic Lyon Post No. 9 in Chicago, where he was a member and former commander. "I don't think he enjoyed the fighting. I think it went against him," Becker said of his father. "I'm guessing on this. From all the things he told me, he wasn't proud of the fact he could kill someone. He ended up feeling that way. I know he didn't dislike the South or the people, necessarily."

Today, 19 true sons and 21 true daughters of Union soldiers are still alive, according to Bruce Butgereit, a Grand Rapids-based Civil War historian, who has done extensive research on Harold Becker's father [although the Michigan Historical Center counts 16 sons and 23 daughters] . According to the Sons of the Confederate Veterans, about 30 men known as 'real sons' are still living.

"One thing Mr. Becker loves to do is meet and greet the children, and he loves to be able to tell when they shake hands that you just shook the hand of a man who held the hand of a Civil War soldier," said Butgereit, the historian. He has created a card featuring photos and biographies of father and son that Becker autographs.

The star of these appearances enjoys doing them.

"It makes me think about my dad," Becker said. "It just amazes me. We go to Pontiac, and there's thousands of people there and hundreds of people who are redoing some of the work the Army did."

Ironically, Becker the son never served in the U.S. military. A bad left eye kept him out of World War II, which angers him to this day -- after being taught to shoot by a man who learned as a soldier eight decades before.

Instead, Becker studied chemistry in college and went on to work as a chemist and an engineer for a variety of companies throughout the Midwest. He and his wife of 69 years, the former Dorothy Reynolds (a distant relative of Benjamin Franklin), moved to Rockford, Michigan in 1963 and had five children. They now have seven grandchildren, 17 great-grandchildren and four great-great-grandchildren.

He's a member of the Grand Rapids-based John A. Logan Camp No. 1, Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War.

Unfortunately, a fire years ago robbed Becker of almost all of the mementos of his father's Civil War service. Only a picture of the elder Becker -- a compact, clean-shaven 5-foot-6 man -- and his heavy, military-issue rifle survive.

On this Memorial Day, as he has on so many other special days, Becker will hang out the American flag that his father adored, although with 16 more stars than the banner under which his father served.

"I've always flown it at the right times," Becker said.

Today is the right time.

copyright 2011, Melissa, The Betty and Boo Chronicles If you are reading this on a blog or website other than The Betty and Boo Chronicles or via a feedreader, this content has been stolen and used without permission.

Taking Chance (an HBO movie that is a must-see this Memorial Day)

In honor of Memorial Day, tonight at 9 p.m. (EST) HBO is re-broadcasting its phenomenal movie "Taking Chance."  Starring Kevin Bacon, this is the true story of Lt. Col. Michael Strobl, who volunteers to escort home the body of Pfc. Chance Phelps after he was killed in Iraq.

When "Taking Chance" first aired in March 2009, I blogged about it here.  Following is a clip, and then my thoughts about the movie. 

Interview with Kevin Bacon & Lt. Col. Michael Strobl

“You brought Chance home. You’re his witness now. Without a witness, they just disappear.”

Since the beginning of the Iraq war, the Department of Defense has identifed 4,246 American servicemen and women who have given the ultimate sacrifice. [Note: current numbers at the time of the movie's airing.]Behind the numbers are the names of people who have disappeared - in body, not in spirit - from the lives of those who love them.

"Taking Chance" is the true story (and HBO film) starring Kevin Bacon as Lt. Col. Michael Strobl, who volunteers to escort home the body of Pfc. Chance Phelps. On April 9, 2004, Chance was killed in Iraq while protecting his comrades from enemy fire. He was 20 years old. While reading a list of that day's casualities of war, Lt. Col. Michael Strobl recognizes that he and Chance hail from the same hometown; he then volunteers for escort duty, the military ritual where a Marine accompanies a fallen Marine through every step of his journey home.

It's a story that needed to be told. I had no idea this even happened, that there was an escort assigned to accompany every fallen person in the service. (I am unsure if this happens in other branches of the military, or if it is only the Marines.) "Taking Chance" chronicles every aspect of this saddest of journeys - from Ramstein Air Force Base in Germany to the arrival at Dover Air Force Base, to the flights through Philadelphia and onto Wyoming. Along the way, the viewer sees the dignity, the respect, and the honor rightly given to our fallen heroes - not just from the military but from everyday citizens, young and old, black and white, men and women, everyone. In just 78 minutes, the film is packed with several incredibly poignant moments - the most moving for me being the two young kids in the airport, watching the unloading of Phelps' casket on the tarmac.

And yet, "Taking Chance" transcends politics without taking a position on the Iraq war. It sounds like an impossible feat, but the film accomplishes this superbly. It is a film about the myriad of ways, large and small, that our military are given the respect, honor, and dignity they so richly deserve as they journey home.

I highly recommend this movie, especially for young adults. It's important for everyone to see the way this is conducted and to remember the ultimate sacrifice made by those who should never be forgotten.

If you are reading this on a blog or website other than The Betty and Boo Chronicles or via a feedreader, this content has been stolen and used without permission.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

The Sunday Salon: Getting Back Into the Groove, Post Book Blogger Con

It's no secret that my reading life has been a bit stuck in neutral of late, but I have discovered the sure-fire cure for that: spend a day immersed in the bookish goodness that was this year's Book Blogger Convention and you'll be on literary fire.

You'll also be rendered temporarily immobile, as your shins and feet continue to ache more than 48 hours after your return home.  I honestly don't know how you people who attended BEA for a week or several days are still standing because after one day, I was parked on the couch in my PJs for the majority of Saturday.  If it wasn't for the need to retrieve my children from their grandparents (who watched them while I was at BBC - whooot!)  then I would remain RIGHT. HERE.

(And if I could get someone to do my grocery shopping and prepare my meals while I sit here and read blogs and write a bunch o' post-BBC posts, and finish up two great books, I would be in heaven.  I have my first post-BBC post ready for you and will probably start posting them later tonight and throughout this upcoming week.)

I'm thisclose to finishing Breaking Night, a memoir that wasn't on my radar until I saw it on the New Books shelf at the library.  This one has been compared to The Glass Castle (which I loved) and indeed, there are some similarities in both Jeannette Walls' story and Liz Murray's.  The subtitle of Breaking Night is A Memoir of Forgiveness, Survival, and My Journey from Homeless to Harvard. 

Liz was raised by parents who blew the family's only source of income (her mother's monthly social security check, due to being legally blind) on cocaine instead of food, leaving Liz and her sister Lisa to barely exist (sometimes) on rotten mayonnaise sandwiches and eggs.  Growing up the Bronx, Liz would eventually become a homeless teenager, honing her survival instincts as she lived on the streets or occasionally with friends or in seedy motels.  Obviously, Liz survives this rough hard-knock life of hers, but getting there is a journey that is compelling and one keeping me turning the pages of Breaking Night into the night. 

While Amtraking it to and from New York on Friday, I was reading my friend Rachel Simon's new novel, The Story of Beautiful Girl. I've been talking about this one forever, I know, and it is living up to all my expectations.  Can't say much more about this one until I get further into it (I'm only on page 50), but trust me ... you'll be hearing more about this one.  It's getting a lot of accolades and is currently #30 on The New York Times Bestseller list.  Deservedly so, I might add. 

And finally, in the car I'm listening to Reading Jackie: Her Autobiography in Books, by William Kuhn.  The premise of this one is that, since Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis never wrote her memoirs, we can learn all we need to know about her life, passions, and interests through the more than 100 books she acquired and worked on in her role as editor for Viking and later, Doubleday.  I'm enjoying this one, too - and I think it is a book that helps to shatter the misconception of Jackie as "rich woman who is pretending to be an editor" that some may still hold, even 17 years after her passing. (Creepily, I started listening to this audiobook on the very anniversary of her May 19, 1994 death.  Kinda freaked me out.)  

Anyway, I'm off to try and finish Breaking Night over breakfast followed by a quick trip to the farmer's market in desperate search of a side dish to bring to our friends' cookout this afternoon. 

Whether you are spending this Memorial Day weekend (here in the United States) remembering and honoring those who served and sacrificed, or doing something else entirely, I hope yours is a good Sunday. 

copyright 2011, Melissa, The Betty and Boo Chronicles If you are reading this on a blog or website other than The Betty and Boo Chronicles or via a feedreader, this content has been stolen and used without permission.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Well, That Was an Experience.

Ferris Wheel at Wonderland Pier
Ocean City NJ boardwalk ~ July 2010
Photo taken by me.

When the BlogHer people email you to say they'll be featuring your post on their site, all you can do is this: buckle up, get out your Teflon suit, and hold on for the ride.

Having my writing broadcast in this way is uncharted territory for me and my little blog, which had nearly 500 hits yesterday due to the BlogHer appearance. (To put it in perspective, about 40-50 folks stop by on a regular day.)  So, this is new.  Most of the time, I feel like I'm talking to myself.

I appreciate the respectful (with the exception of one troll) commentary here and on the BlogHer site, and I'm grateful for those who have shared their professional and personal experiences.

I wrote that post from a place of raw emotion (as I write most of my posts, quite honestly) and from months of seeing photos of an always smiling and obviously thriving baby girl in the arms of two loving people who I've known for more than 20 years. It's really hard to think of anyone more deserving of this little girl than these two, and frankly? It's hard to think of another couple with the strength and the love to withstand such an ordeal.  (Because, you know, this parenthood gig can get messy under the best of circumstances and you need your Teflon suit if you're going to play in this sandbox.)

I wish every one of you who have been following this story could meet my friends and could see Baby G. with them for even five minutes.

I wish you could see the love they have, in such abundance and in such grace.

I wish Oprah could have one more encore show where she would sit down with my friends and hear their story and cry with them.

I wish you could see the large, loving, Irish Catholic family that embraced Baby G. even before she was born.

I wish you could see the community of friends, bonded since college days two decades ago, who are coming together once again (as we have sadly done in the past, also with a sad outcome) to rally around and care for one of our own. 

So I'm coming at this from that perspective - the simple one of seeing this couple's love for this little girl and each other.  I'm not looking at laws and rights.  I'm looking at this from what's best for a 6 month old little girl.

And knowing what I know (some of which can't be shared publicly), it is incredibly hurtful and hard to understand how the foster care system - followed by a broken home of very young individuals - will lead to a better life than with people who have already proven their love for her, who have proven that they will walk into the fire again and again for her, for the rest of her life and theirs.

I'm not convinced - and no law will ever prove to me otherwise - that anyone else lucky enough to raise Baby G. will do the same.

"May your strength give us strength
May your faith give us faith
May your hope give us hope
May your love give us love."

"Into the Fire" ~ Bruce Springsteen

copyright 2011, Melissa, The Betty and Boo Chronicles If you are reading this on a blog or website other than The Betty and Boo Chronicles or via a feedreader, this content has been stolen and used without permission.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

"Mommy, Why Does Baby G. Have to Go to Jail?"

"Mommy, why does Baby G. have to go to jail?"

That was the question my 9 year old daughter Betty asked when she saw me crying.  The news had just come that my friends unbelievably and incomprehensibly lost their adoption case.  (You can read my previous posts on this here.)

I struggled to explain the unexplainable to Betty. 

"D. and S. love Baby G. very, very much," I stammered through my tears.  "And they want to keep taking care of her, to be a family.  And, well ... there are some people who think she should be with her birthfather, and I don't know why they think that."

I had already explained that the birthmother chose D. and S. to raise Baby G. because she knew that they could and would provide a better life for her ... but that the birthfather was in prison and didn't agree with that. 

"But he's in JAIL!  How in the WORLD can he take care of a baby when he is in jail?"

"I don't know, baby." 

"I want to write a letter," Betty declared, offering up her solution for everything. 

And indeed, that was our collective response and call to action too. When we learned that this was a potential outcome, a campaign was launched by D.'s sister to write letters of support to the Wisconsin judge who alone had the power to grant Baby G. the chance to grow up in the loving arms of the only people she has known as mom and dad for her first 6 months of life, instead of in the foster care system. 

The "Save Baby G." campaign was supported by a Facebook community that, as of yesterday, had grown to over 450 supporters.  Some of us (yours truly included) offered to try and mobilize our media contacts and take this national.  (The lawyers advised against such and in keeping with our friends' decisions to honor such, we reluctantly didn't pursue that.)

I don't know how many letters were received. I do know that more than a few of my blog readers wrote one, and for that I will be forever grateful. (D. wrote and said how touched she was by the letters from my friends, so I know she at least saw them.)

But I don't know if the judge did. He couldn't have, because he decided yesterday to dismiss the case and order Baby G. to be returned to Wisconsin and into the foster care system. 

Read that sentence again, because trust me - it takes a little while for the magnitude of this to sink in.

A judge in Wisconsin ruled yesterday that a 6-month old baby is better off in the foster-care system instead of with two loving, adoptive parents who can give her a life of promise and potential, of abiding faith, of joyful love

I don't know what recourse or appeal options are there, if there are any to begin with.  There's not much money left to pursue any. 

But what I know is this. 

A judge in Wisconsin (never mind the damn judicial system itself) horribly failed a little girl yesterday and the parents who desperately want nothing more than to love her. 

I know that the heartbreak spilling out via Facebook messages this morning is palpable among our group of friends. 

And so is the raw anger and the declarations (mine included) that we hope karma is a bitch. 

And the shaken and broken faith in God, in prayer, in everything that we're taught to believe in.

And the disbelief that we live in a country where this can actually happen. 

And the helpless feeling that maybe we could have done more.

And the fear of what Baby G.'s future holds versus all that it could have been.  

And the lack of answers to questions about why a 6-month old baby needs to go to jail. 

copyright 2011, Melissa, The Betty and Boo Chronicles If you are reading this on a blog or website other than The Betty and Boo Chronicles or via a feedreader, this content has been stolen and used without permission.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Armchair BEA: The Best Books of 2011 ... So Far

I don't do well with the notion of choosing a "best book so far of the year," which just so happens to be the Armchair BEA prompt of the day. It isn't any easier when the year is "only" five months old.  Not to mention, I've only read 26 books this year, so it shouldn't be too hard to narrow it down to a few favorites thus far. 

In no particular order (the excerpts below each link are from my review, which the link takes you to), here are 8 of my favorite reads this year:

You wouldn't expect a book about food waste to be all that interesting, much less utterly fascinating, would you?  Completely understandable.  And you would be wrong.  Let me tell you this: Jonathan Bloom has written one hell of an eye-opening and life-changing book.  American Wasteland will be one of my favorite non-fiction reads of the year. 

You know what it is like to have a book capture your heart and soul so much that you can't bear to return it to the library, right?  You HAVE to OWN it. You have to have it near you at all times, because you never know when you are going to want to - make that, need to - re-read it. There are, quite simply, some books that you need to own. And Let the Great World Spin, my lovelies, is absolutely one such book.

This book. This is the type of book that you want to buy a hundred copies of and give to everyone you know who hasn't read it yet. It is that good, that powerful, that affecting. This is a book that - as one of my blog commenters said - completely engulfs you, that you are compelled to read in practically one sitting. It took me three, but one was spent reading almost 200 pages straight and I vowed not to go to bed until I knew what happened. You who have read Room (which is probably 99.9% of you reading this post) can probably guess what part of the book that I speak of.

The Monsters of Templeton, by Lauren Groff
(no review yet ... coming soon)

The Solitude of Prime Numbers, by Paolo Giordano

(No review yet of this one either ... and I may not get to review this one since its been awhile since I read it.  But it was one of my favorites.  I loved it.)

Everybody Loves Somebody, by Joanna Scott
(This is a wonderful collection of short stories, for which I haven't posted a review yet. It's written, though.)

This is a novel reminiscent a bit of The Hours by Michael Cunningham, which is one of my all-time favorite books. I love the concept and the innovation of the author as author, and The Secret Life of Emily Dickinson provides the reader with that same delight. I honestly do not know if I can do this book justice with this review, but I will try. Quite simply, this is a spectacular novel. Jerome Charyn makes Emily Dickinson so intriguing, capturing her voice and her feisty spirit in such a way that you can't help but want to keep reading and learning more.

We Have Always Lived in the Castle was written in 1962, but in my opinion, was so ahead of its time because we see this type of behavior so often - the chiding of the perceived outcasts among us, the willingness to go along with the pack.  And ultimately, it is this behavior - and this knowledge that it is still so prevalent today - that left me a bit sad but even more in awe of Shirley Jackson's immeasurable talent of capturing a mood and placing her reader right in the maelstrom of its delicious suspense. 

This has been a year of quality reading, rather than quantity ... which is fine with me.  Can't wait to see what the rest of the year holds (as well as visiting your blogs to discover your favorites)!

copyright 2011, Melissa, The Betty and Boo Chronicles If you are reading this on a blog or website other than The Betty and Boo Chronicles or via a feedreader, this content has been stolen and used without permission.

Not Acceptable

"Not Acceptable" is a new PSA that will premiere during this evening's "Glee" finale and one that has been getting a lot of buzz on blogs and Facebook pages.

Know that it has some questionable words in it.

Which is kind of the point.

copyright 2011, Melissa, The Betty and Boo Chronicles If you are reading this on a blog or website other than The Betty and Boo Chronicles or via a feedreader, this content has been stolen and used without permission.

Monday, May 23, 2011

and so, it comes down to this ...

and so, it comes down to this ...
the holding of a friend close in heart
for tonight, for tomorrow
for always.
in hope and in prayer
for healing, for peace, for strength 
for love remains.

love you, d. and s.

photo taken by me at church, february 14, 2010.

copyright 2011, Melissa, The Betty and Boo Chronicles If you are reading this on a blog or website other than The Betty and Boo Chronicles or via a feedreader, this content has been stolen and used without permission.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

The Sunday Salon: My New Reason Why I Love My Kindle (and why I won't be reading it en route to the Book Blogger Convention)

There's some big news in my reading life, folks.  

(You're right if you've been reading my Salon posts of late and guessed that I actually finished a book.  Indeed, that I did.)

But this news is even bigger.  It's life-changing.  After nearly 40 years ...


Now, I know some of my blog readers are probably saying, "So what?"  But this is huge, people.  Like many people, I suffer with the inability to read in the car or on a bus.  I can read on a plane. I can read on a train. (This is starting to sound like the blog of Dr. Seuss).  But I have not, thought I could not, would not read in a car.

Until I tried it with the Kindle last night. 

It was an experiment of sorts.  On our car trips to see family in PA, The Husband usually drives and I fiddle with Facebook or Twitter on my phone.  I realized that if I can read status updates and tweets, then maybe I could read my Kindle. 

So I tried it out yesterday evening.  Fired up my Kindle to the May 9 issue of "The New Yorker" (still working my way through that one) and read Donald Antrim's short story "He Knew."  And just like that, I discovered I could read in the car now.  Being that we are moving 6 hours away from our families (instead of the 1.5 hours we are now), the idea that I'll be able to spend some of these road trips with a Kindle book makes me deliriously happy.  I don't know what the difference is, and I don't care. 
Like many others, I have a little trip of sorts planned this week.  I'm going to New York on Friday for the 2nd Annual Book Blogger Convention ... but I'm not going to be reading my Kindle on the train. I'll be reading THIS and I cannot wait. 
I am so looking forward to reading this book.  I've known about it since last year and it has seemed like an eternity for its publication date of May 4 to get here.  But it did, and I now have a copy, and I am thrilled. 

From all I've heard about this one (and you'll be hearing more about it too, judging from the accolades it has already received and the fact that it went into a second printing less than two weeks post-publication), this seems to be a book where the reading cannot and should not be rushed.  It deserves the gift of time - time to let the story and the characters and the issues raised within to properly marinate in one's mind. 

Time happens to be something I don't have much of these days ... but I will have at least four glorious and uninterrupted hours on Amtrak when I head to New York for the Book Blogger Convention on Friday.

(While Rachel Simon might be a new author for some, I (and more than a few others) have been following her career for 20 years.  For those of us in the Philadelphia area, she's one of our own - now calling my adopted state of Delaware home. On Monday evening, I was lucky enough to attend a fabulous talk with Rachel at one of our local library branches - which I'll be blogging about soon.) 

Wherever you are this Sunday - be it in a car or a train or a plane en route to Book Expo America or at home (and you should be at Armchair BEA if that's the case) - I hope you have a great print or e-book in hand!

copyright 2011, Melissa, The Betty and Boo Chronicles If you are reading this on a blog or website other than The Betty and Boo Chronicles or via a feedreader, this content has been stolen and used without permission.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Rapture, Baby: February 21, 2012

Tell me I'm not the only person wondering if we'll see a Rapture Baby Boom sometime in the vicinity of Valentine's Day 2012.

You know, due to all of the people having End-of-the-World-Rapture-Sex today.

Mark that date, folks.  You heard it here first.  (Or maybe not.  That's OK.) 

copyright 2011, Melissa, The Betty and Boo Chronicles If you are reading this on a blog or website other than The Betty and Boo Chronicles or via a feedreader, this content has been stolen and used without permission.


Billboards like this one [above] ended up predicting the truth, as the world ended on Saturday.

In a bit of a shock, the world ended Saturday, fulfilling the prophecy - but "shocking the shit" out - of 89-year old Harold Camping, the former civil-engineer-turned-multi-million-dollar-doomsdayer. "Frankly, I thought it was horseshit," admitted Camping. "You didn't really think I believed any of this?!"

Alas, Camping's prophecy was true after all. The first clue was the sudden death of former wrestler Randy "Macho Man" Savage on Friday. This was foretold in the Bible, when - in the Gospel According to John - the Bible predicted, "And in the day before the coming of the great Apocalypse, a large, macho man with hair plugs will up and dyeth on the floor of his gym."

That news was soon overshadowed by [and, in hindsight, was further confirmation of the end] the Middle East peace between Israel and, "every country that hates her", announced by visiting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Of course, soon an even bigger story took over the news cycle. "Well, tickle my ass with a feather!" said an irritated Netanyahu when he was informed that the world had ended. "I didn't even get laid [on this trip to Washington]," he said dejectedly.

But Bibi was not the only political figure angered by the end of days. An irritated President Obama said disgustedly, "Naturally! First black man in office and the world ends mid-way through my first term. Typical."

The end of the world also means a number of mysteries will be left unknown - at least unless the Lord comes to His senses and recreates the world. For one, the winner of American Idol will remain a mystery for the remainder of days. The NBA champion, Stanley Cup champion, winner of the Preakness, and the experiment of Ashton Kutcher replacing Charlie Sheen on Two and a Half Men will all remain unknown. Indeed, even the actual date on which Sheen fatally overdoses will forever remain a mystery.

One person thrilled with the news was former California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. "Thank you, Jesus!" said the smiling former body-builder. Smoking one of his trademark cigars, and with a co-ed on each knee, Arnold smiled as he said, "At least this knocks me off the front page of the paper."

On the positive side, terrorism, pollution, nuclear holocaust and Oprah's new show on her stupid OWN network also got wiped out with the end of the world. Indeed, some theorized that God chose May 21, 2011 to end the world specifically to prevent Oprah from airing her last show. "The first clue to the end of the world, in fact, was the rise of Oprah Winfrey's career," theorized Professor Smedley Lump, who was the chair of the Religious Studies department at Harvard University before the end of the world. "That a large, hideous, ostentatious, self-centered, prima donna could become America's sweetheart should have been our first warning."

While most of us - including the guy who promoted the idea - were shocked that the world really did end, some lunatics were prepared. Some shut themselves inside to pray for mercy. Others met for tearful last lunches with their children, and prepared to leave behind homes and pets as they were swept up to heaven. Naturally, it was heaven. None of these morons contemplated that they might be sent to hell.

And so it was across the globe, as followers of the California preacher's long-publicized message that Judgment Day would arrive Saturday turned to the Bible, the book they believed - accurately, it turns out - predicted Earth's destruction on May 21, 2011. Camping had been promoting his doomsday message far and wide via broadcasts and web sites through his multi-million-dollar 'nonprofit ministry', which was based on his apocalyptic prediction.

And Camping was successful in scaring the shit out of millions, albeit - it turns out - for good reason. After spending months traveling the country to put up Judgment Day billboards and hand out Bible tracts, Camping follower Michael Garcia spent Friday evening with his family at home in Alameda, California, near the Christian media empire's Oakland headquarters.

Prior to the world ending, Garcia hit the nail on the head, saying he believed Camping's prediction that the end would start as it became 6 p.m. in the world's various time zones. "We know the end will begin in New Zealand and will follow the sun and roll on from there," said Garcia, a 39-year-old father of six before the end of days. "That's why God raised up all the technology and the satellites so everyone can see it happen at the same time." As for why it would begin in New Zealand, Garcia echoed Camping's frequent response to the same question, "God hates New Zealand."

Of course, now that the world is over, Camping's radio stations, TV channels, satellite broadcasts and website are irrelevant. Many thought the same thing about Camping himself when, in 1994, his prediction of the world ending did not occur. At the time, he told Larry King that he blamed it on a 'mathematical error,'. "I'm fucking horrible at math," said the then-72-year old lunatic.

Perhaps the most upset about the end of the world really happening were those who thought it was a joke and guaranteed themselves a one-way ticket to the fiery pits of Hell by mocking the event. They attended 'Rapture'-themed parties to celebrate what they mistakenly expected would be the failure of the world to come to an end. Bars and restaurants from Melbourne, Australia to the Florida Keys advertised bashes. While in Oakland, atheists gathering at a local Masonic temple dealt with the end even-handedly, saying "How much different can Hell be from Oakland, anyway?".


Camping was not entirely right, however, because Camping and his followers believed that 200 million people would survive. There were no survivors left on Earth, however, by the end of the day on May 21st. Still, since Camping preached that those left behind would end up dying in earthquakes, plagues, and other calamities until Earth was consumed by a fireball on October 21, 2011, anyway, the point is kind of moot.

So, as we say goodbye, I'm reminded of that great episode of All in the Family, when Archie is locked in the basement, drunk off a bottle of Polish vodka he's downed. He talks to God and calls out asking Him to save him. Just then, a furnace repairman coming to the house to fix the furnace hears Archie's cries and tells him he's coming. Expecting that he is about to meet the Lord, Archie gets down on his knees and says, "Well, this is it Lord!" He looks up to see a six-foot-five tall black man in overalls. To which Archie - after recovering from the shock - says, "Forgive me Lord!" He then says, "Jeez. The Jeffersons was right."

In this case, the ranting octogenarian was right. Forgive me Lord.

copyright 2011, Melissa, The Betty and Boo Chronicles If you are reading this on a blog or website other than The Betty and Boo Chronicles or via a feedreader, this content has been stolen and used without permission.

Music to Greet the Rapture By

Inspired by the "How to Spend the End" list of songs, books, and last supper selections on philly.com this morning, I'm putting together a playlist for the Rapture.

My Facebook friends are currently playing along (this list represents my additions and theirs). 

"The Man Comes Around" - Johnny Cash
"In My Life" - The Beatles
"Rapture" - Blondie
"Share the End" - Carly Simon
"It's the End of the World as We Know It" - R.E.M.
"Funeral for a Friend" - Elton John
"Someone Saved My Life Tonight" - Elton John
"I'm Still Standing" - Elton John
"Looking for My Life" - George Harrison (posthumously)
"Alive" by Meatloaf
"Dear Landlord" - Dylan
"Thriller" - Michael Jackson

Feel free to add your suggestions in the comments ... but make it snappy because the time is near. *

*disclaimer:  Y'all know I don't believe this shit for a minute.  Hopefully that goes without saying, but just in case you needed clarification, there it is.  

copyright 2011, Melissa, The Betty and Boo Chronicles If you are reading this on a blog or website other than The Betty and Boo Chronicles or via a feedreader, this content has been stolen and used without permission.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Bring on the Acrobats and Clowns

I swear, the amazing Carly Simon truly has a song for every occasion ... even for the Rapture happening this weekend.

Truly, nobody does it better than this.

"Share the End"
(Carly Simon/Jacob Brackman)

Here come the priests, each one wailing and bemoaning
Lordy, they got their heads bowed down
Here come the madmen, they're too excited for atoning:
"Burn the mosque," they're shouting, "Burn it down!"
Save me a place, surround me with friendly faces
All of us have gathered here to share the end -
To watch the world go up in flames
Please, Lord we're not ready
Give us a day
Give us an hour...

Here come the kings, Let's dispense with their apologizing
Just bring on the acrobats and clowns
Here comes the rumble, Hang on for universal dying
Please ignore the baying of the hounds

Save me a place, surround me with deadly faces
All of us have gathered here to share the end -
To watch the world go up in flames
Please, Lord we're not ready
Give us some time to work things out...
Please, Lord we're not ready
Give us a day
Give us an hour...

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Book Review: Lullabies for Little Criminals, by Heather O'Neill

Lullabies for Little Criminals
by Heather O'Neill
Harper Perennial
330 pages

Awards: Canada Reads 2007

Oh, Baby.

Baby, Baby, Baby.  For someone with a little girl's name, you've certainly seen some grown up things in your 12 years of life, haven't you?  You're being raised by your single dad, a heroin-addict who is all of 25 years old and who you refer to by his first name, Jules.  Your mother died when she was 16, a year after giving birth to you. Nobody talks about her or how or why she died; Jules just keeps stumbling through life, trying to do the best he can (which isn't saying much).

Yours has been one hell of a dozen years of life - and it hasn't even started. 

You're smart and street-wise, a child that has had to grow up too fast and see things that kids shouldn't have to see.  All you want is your mom ... or, at the very least, someone who loves you for all the right reasons.  You know things that most people take a lifetime to learn.

"Suddenly I realized that I wanted everything to be as it was when I was younger.  When you're young enough, you don't know that you live in a cheap lousy apartment. A cracked chair is nothing other than a chair.  A dandelion growing out of a crack in the sidewalk outside your front door is a garden.  You could believe that a song your parent was singing in the evening was the most tragic opera in the world. It never occurs to you when you are very young to need something other that what your parents have to offer you." (pg. 184)

You had such potential, Baby, and reading your story made me angry that every adult in your life couldn't see it.  Between your ne'er do well father Jules, the even lower-life scum Alphonse, the revolving door of social workers, your teachers, Xavier's parents, even the guy who ran the community center - none of them noticed what you truly are: a hurt little girl who just wants to be loved (in the right way), to be taken care of (in the right way), and to live the life that other teenagers do.  If they did notice it, nobody did anything. 

Maybe it was the times in which your story is set.  This was the very early 1980s, and while children have always suffered from abuse and neglect and we grown-ups always "knew" something might have been wrong, it was really not that long ago when this issue started seeping into our consciousness.  Sadly, in some ways, so many elements of your story could be true today - and are, for so many.
* * * *
For a debut novel, Lullabies for Little Criminals is well-written.  Heather O'Neill is a definite talent, someone to watch. The writing is gorgeous, with phrases in this novel "that will make you laugh out loud, and others that will stop your heart." (From a blurb on the back cover by David Rakoff.)  The characters are well-defined and I truly felt as if I knew these people (which I am very glad I didn't).

There were times, however, when I thought that the plot dragged a little bit.  I had a sense of what would happen to Baby from reading the blurb on the back cover, and as much as I didn't want to happen what happened, it took a little longer to get there than I would have liked.  (If that makes any sense at all, which it probably doesn't.)  The ending also felt rushed, especially with a new character thrown in at the end.  We've come to care so much about Baby through the 330 pages of this novel, that we just want to know ... well, that's probably more than enough said, lest I start giving things away.  I also wanted to know what happened with one of the other characters. 

(Maybe there's a sequel possibility ...?)

I found this book while browsing the stacks at the library and when I realized it was a Harper Perennial book, I grabbed it.  (Plus it has an interview with author Heather O'Neill at the end, which you will definitely want to read ... but not until you're finished with the book, 'kay?)  There is something about it that doesn't quite rise to the level of some of the other HP selections, but this is still a good read, albeit with some flaws.

Just like the people we love.

What Other Bloggers Thought:

Book Gazing (this is a wonderfully written review that captures this book so perfectly!)
Lotus Reads
Reading Matters

My apologies if you're seeing this review twice.  It was posted right as The Great Blogger Apocalypse of 2011 happened, so ... yeah. 

copyright 2010, Melissa (Betty and Boo's Mommy, The Betty and Boo Chronicles) If you are reading this on a blog or website other than The Betty and Boo Chronicles or via a feedreader, this content has been stolen and used without permission.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

The Sunday Salon: Moving Forward

I debated not even posting a Salon this week because - surprise! - I'm still reading the same book as I was last week.  (And the week before that, and the week before that....)  My Kindle tells me I'm 63% of the way through The Monsters of Templeton by Lauren GroffI mean, I first mentioned to you that I was reading this one back on April 1! This has to be a record for the longest it has taken me to get through a book.  Ridiculous.

Well, I guess the bright side is that it's going to be fairly easy to do my May wrap up post.  (And April's for that matter.) 

Reading just isn't high on the priority list lately.  After weeks of decluttering and whatnot, our house is FINALLY listed on the market.  Got the sign on the front lawn and the listing online, so it feels like we're moving forward. (Hah.  Pun intended.)  No bites yet, though, which is depressing the hell out of me.  No calls for showings, even.  People say it's still early (it went online on Thursday) but I'd be lying if I said wasn't getting concerned. 

I hate this economy.

I'm hoping that tomorrow night will help take my mind off of things.  Assuming my car survives its latest date with the mechanic (it's acting weird AGAIN), I'm planning to be in the audience at one of our local libraries to hear my friend and author Rachel Simon talk about her new book, The Story of Beautiful Girl.  This is getting mega-praise from all places (my own Philadelphia Inquirer has a gorgeous review of it today -  by Elizabeth Mosier, no less!).

So I'm really hoping the car situation works out so that I can tell you all about this on Tuesday.

Another distraction from my reading is that I'm trying to launch a consulting/freelancing business.  As many of you know, I'm a soon-to-be-unemployed nonprofit fundraiser and writer. This has, admittedly, been in the back of my mind for quite some time and at this point, there's not much stopping me from doing this. I mean, it's not like I'm walking away from a steady income, you know?  I've  been starting to build a social media presence for the business, and since that's part of what I hope to do, I'm having fun with it. 

Finally, as I announced yesterday, I will be going to the Book Blogger Convention after all!  With all that's been going on (job loss, house selling, single parenthood during the week ....) I really didn't think it was going to happen for me this year. But it is - albeit just for one day - and it is definitely a nice pick-me-up that I'm looking forward to. 

So, I'm moving forward on several fronts.  Maybe a little more slowly than I'd like, but forward nonetheless. 

copyright 2011, Melissa, The Betty and Boo Chronicles If you are reading this on a blog or website other than The Betty and Boo Chronicles or via a feedreader, this content has been stolen and used without permission.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

I'm Going to Book Blogger Con. No, I'm Not. YES, I AM!

So, a month ago, I wrote a Sunday Salon post telling y'all that I was going to BEA and Book Blogger Con.  Secured the mother-in-law as a multi-day babysitter. Confirmed plans with the roommate. Signed up for the official BEA/BBC feed. Debated which comfy shoes I'd be wearing.

And then 10 days later, on what would become a truly Terrible, No-Good, Horrible, Shit-tastic Day, I was informed that I was going to be "transitioned out" from my job in a month because we're moving.  

Like the Seinfeld episode, it was like, "NO BEA OR BOOK BLOGGER CON FOR YOU!"  Nope.  No trips to The Strand or Housing Works.  No hangin' with the roommate extraordinaire.  None of that.

Bummed does not begin to describe my mood about this. I went last year and it was ... amazing. 

A!! Maze!!! Zing!!! 

(You can read my recaps-in-four-installments of the 2010 event here: 

Part 1. Early Morning, Chapter One
Part 2. How Maureen Johnson Got Herself 250 New Best Friends
Part 3. Speaking Words of Wisdom
Part 4. Stay, Just a Little Bit Longer

But, reality bites, and beings that I'm a responsible adult (most of the time), cancelling was the right thing to do.  I couldn't justify - much less afford - the expense of the registration, the hotel room, the Amtrak tickets, New York food for three days, etc.

Fortunately, the roommate was incredibly understanding. I hadn't bought the train tickets yet, so that wasn't an issue. 

But for some reason, I thought the registration fee was refundable ... but when I looked into that today, that doesn't seem to be the case.

What to do?  Try to transfer it?  Lose it altogether?  Or ... ?

Or perhaps I could make like the Sheena Easton song and take the morning train (the very, very, very early morning Amtrak train) to New York on Book Blogger Convention day and then a late, late train back that night.  That's what I did last year for the Book Blogger Convention and it worked out beautifully. 

(Doing so saves over $100 on the train tix. A no brainer.) 

What's another $100 thrown on the credit card, right?  

Yeah, that's what I thought, too. 


I'm going to the Book Blogger Convention.


copyright 2011, Melissa, The Betty and Boo Chronicles If you are reading this on a blog or website other than The Betty and Boo Chronicles or via a feedreader, this content has been stolen and used without permission.