Sunday, January 27, 2013

HBIC Book Club: February Pick

Well the HBIC Book Club has successfully completed our first book and are in the midst of our discussion period. I love the questions and discussion that is happening so far! I read that something like less than 10% of people actually keep their New Year's resolutions after January so I would just like to say congrats to everyone that committed to the 2013 Reading Challenge and is sticking with it! (For anyone that recently joined or is still thinking about it then come on board! We are committed to reading one fun book per month for the year.)

With that said, it is time to announce our February book pick! Thanks to everyone that voted in our poll and chose, The Feminist and The Cowboy: An Unlikely Love Story by Alisa Valdes Rodriquez.

Summary of the book from Amazon:

Feminism was a religion in Alisa Valdes’s childhood home. Betty Friedan and Gloria Steinem took the place of Barbies and left Valdes impressed with a feminist ideology that guided a prolific writing career—at twenty-two Valdes was named one of the top feminist writers under thirty by the editor of Ms Magazine. Yet despite her professional success, Valdes hit forty-two a single mom and a serial dater of inadequate men in tweed jackets—until she met the Cowboy. A conservative rancher, the Cowboy held the traditional views on gender roles that Valdes was raised to reject. Yet as she falls head-over-spurs for him and their relationship finds harmony, she finds the strength, peace, and happiness that comes from embracing her femininity. From their first date the Cowboy makes her pulse race, and she discovers that “when men… act like men rather than like emasculated boys, you as a woman will find not only great pleasure in submitting to them but also great growth as a person.”  Told with plenty of humor and candor, The Feminist and the Cowboy will delight the many readers who made The Pioneer Woman a bestseller—not to mention every woman who dreams of being swept away by a rugged cowboy.

I must admit that this was not my pick for our next book and the summary does not excite me. From the summary and few short reviews I have read online this seems like a structureless love story laden with cliches about feminism. Such cliches are not only not funny but are a sad excuse for complex writing. There is nothing interesting or provocative about ideology cliches and I fear that this book is just more 50 Shades of Grey-esque garbage that was spewed out and gained praise because everyone loves a love story, even if the relationship on display is dysfunctional and dangerous. But this book was the most popular vote so it is our February pick (democracy rules)! Hopefully I will be proved wrong and it will end up being an interesting read. We shall see...

Finish Date: Friday, February 21st
Discussion Period: Feb 21 - Feb 28

I bought my copy last night on Ebay for about $19 including shipping, FYI.


Monday, January 14, 2013

HBIC on the run!

As I mentioned a few weeks ago, I like to set annual goals for myself at the beginning of each year. The first goal I wrote about was to read more, and since creating a plan on how to accomplish that, the HBIC Book Club was born (and so far is a huge success, if you have been meaning to join then please do! All the info is available in our Facebook group). My second, and much more daunting, goal of 2013 is to run a full marathon. I actually did this in 2012 but I split it between 2 half-marathons about 6 months apart. This time I plan to run the full 26.2 miles all on the same day! It is going to be a huge challenge, physically and mentally, but I am looking forward to it and hope it will prove to be as transformative as my first race was.

One of the things I love about races is that somehow history has linked running and philanthropy. Running this marathon gives me a great excuse to raise money for an important cause and provides my friends and family a concrete reason, albeit somewhat detached from rationale, to give my cause money. You can call it guilt, you can call it support, you can call it a tax-deducation. Now it may seem selfish that I ask you to donate money to my cause just because I have made the personal choice to accomplish a specific task in my life but I ask you to consider how many gifts you have given to other women for accomplishing other milestones in life (marriage, baby, etc.) At least running a marathon is not steeped in centuries old patriarchal tradition that celebrates ownership and subjugation of women. Plus, I am not registering for 30 different types of salad bowls or a Tiffany & Co. cake knife. But let's not get distracted from the matter at hand. 

I have run for a variety of other causes in races past but none have been as close to my heart as this, this year I am running and raising for the Alliance for Lupus Research. One of my best friends from college, Julia, has lupus, and I want to honor the person she is, the struggle she has had, and the many lessons she has taught me. I know that I am a better person because Julia is in my life and if anything can give me the strength to run 26.2 freakin' miles (besides the quest for a rock hard ass) is the value I place on my friendships. When I say that being friends with Julia has taught me to be a better person, I actually mean that and it is not just some sappy remark to make this post more interesting. When I first met her I hated her. I knew nothing about her except that she had killer style, all my friends loved her and she was just as big of a bitch as me. This was back when I flew my "I am a mean and judgmental bitch" flag high and proud, but only did so to cover up my own insecurities. After constant urging from our mutual friends and a bonding over Harry Potter I finally let my guard down and quickly learned that this girl was someone who shared my interests and tribulations, my confidence and my uncertainties. This realization taught me that by trying to "protect" myself by holding everyone at arm's length I was really missing out on amazing experiences and relationships. Over the years we have been able to understand each other in a way that our other best friends are simply not able to. We are more similar than either of us ever knew (and maybe that is why I perceived her as such a threat) but I take great comfort in knowing that when I am hurt or confused about something and I don't know how to explain my own feelings, it doesn't matter because my best friend knows exactly how I feel. We have shared countless conversations where I just knew she knew what I was talking about, even though I could barely put my thoughts together in my own head. She was and continues to be a mastermind behind the HBIC Movement and her genius inspires me everyday. Plus she is super hot and still has killer style.

While I don't feel it is appropriate to divulge all the details of her disease I want to share some brief information, mainly since many of us probably have little knowledge about lupus. Following other health problems in high school, Julia was diagnosed with lupus, an autoimmune disease that can attack any organ in the body, at age 21. Her symptoms included extreme fatigue, inability to concentrate and arthritic symptoms. Following treatment with injectable chemotherapeutic agents, she went into remission. This fall, at the age of 26, Julia developed severe arthritic symptoms with inflammation. In addition to attacking her joints, Julia's body was now attacking her kidneys, causing inflammation and threatening permanent damage to the kidneys. A kidney biopsy confirmed a diagnoses of lupus nephritis. She is presently on a variety of harsh, fucked-up medications, all of which can cause various fucked-up side effects. She is the healthiest person I know and does all that she can to help her body (another inspiring part about being her friend). Watching her go through another flare-up was scary but her strength and perseverance were truly inspirational. So today on her 27th birthday, I kick off my marathon training and my fundraising campaign for the Alliance for Lupus Research and for my friend. If you are so inclined (and after an emotional outpouring like this who wouldn't be??) then please donate to my campaign. My goal is to raise $1000 by my race on May 18th. More info on ALR can be found here including lots of details about lupus, their research and their finances.

I will continue to update you on my marathon training progress, as there are sure to be hilarious missteps on my part.

And to my best friend, Happy Birthday and thank you for everything you are.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

HBIC Book Club Rules of Order

I am soooo excited about the response that our HBIC Book Club and 2013 Reading Challenge has gotten so far. In about 2 weeks we have 60 group members participating in the challenge in our Facebook Group. Awesome! Less than a week into the new year and we already have people finished with our first book! And having rousing discussion about it to boot. Reading your thoughts and knowing how much this club has already captivated minds, challenged your brains and brought new friends together truly warms my heart. That being said, it has become apparent that I need to implement a few rules of order to make sure everyone is enjoying this challenge, and we can have controlled discussion at the end of each month. My sincere apologies to anyone who felt bombarded by comments or got details of the book revealed to them without their permission! If we all follow these guidelines it won't happen again! 

HBIC Book Club Rules of Order

1. We will read one book per month (as originally stated in the Challenge) as a group. My hope is that you choose to be involved every month but if you want to take a month off or you are a super fast reader and want to read 5 books a month then go for it! You are an adult and can make your own choices. I will still love you no matter what you decide.

2. I will announce our "Finish Date" each month (typically 3 weeks into the month) when we should all have the book finished and on which discussion will begin and last for the remainder of the month. This will allow us to match up our monthly cycles (hehe) and have a controlled "Discussion Period." Again, you are an adult, only you know your schedule, reading pace, note-taking habits, etc. If you are fast and forgetful then maybe you should wait to start the book later into the month so your thoughts are still fresh when discussion starts. If you are busy and slow then schedule your reading accordingly. You are a big girl, you can do it!

3. If you just can't wait to discuss something or have a burning questions then refrain from posting it in the group. Instead ask the group if anyone has read up to the page/chapter you are on and then discuss in a private message. Make sure you bring up what you discussed during Discussion Period so the rest of the group can hear your amazing thoughts. That's the point!

4. Suggestions for future month's books will always be taken. I will start a running list of books and upload them to the "documents" section of the group so they can be viewed. It will be updated as suggestions come in. Once per month I will start a poll in the group to choose the next book. If you want a say in the next book please vote in the poll!

5. Anything goes during Discussion Period. Ask whatever you want, discuss whatever you want (in relation to the book) without fear of spoiling the book for anyone else. If you haven't finished the book by time the Discussion Period starts then don't look at the group comments! Or do! But just know that there will be spoilers left and right.

6. And, finally, I will only say this once, be nice to each other. Slander, rudeness or general ignorance towards other members will not be tolerated for even a second. I will kick you out of the group if you are a jerk. Again the adults thing.

Otherwise have fun! I am always open to suggestions as this is the first online book club I have managed. I am learning as I go so feel free to help a sista out! 

January Book: The Girls Of Riyadh by Rajaa Alsanea
January Finish Date: Friday, January 25
January Discussion Period: January 25 - 31