Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Requiem by Lauren Oliver

I actually finished this book a couple of weeks ago, but things have been a bit hectic!

As with the previous 2 books in the trilogy, I plowed through this book. This trilogy has truly renewed my faith in my ability to get in to what I am reading despite my barriers! YAY! Okay, on to the book...

As with Pandemonium, this book switches between two different perspectives. Though, the switches in that book were between Lena's present day and her experiences after first becoming a Invalid. In this book the story alternates between Lena's present day and Hana's present day. 

It was really nice to see things through the eyes of someone who has been cured, in fact--someone who has been cured and is about to marry someone who has become very powerful within the hierarchy of "Valid society." As Hana's portion of the story progressed I found myself very torn in my feelings for her character--she obviously has not become truly cold and heartless the way many of the "Cureds" do, BUT, despite her lingering feelings of caring for those around her she finds herself, for the most part, unable to gather enough compassion to act on these feelings. In the end, I felt very sad for her.  At least a person who fully takes to the cure doesn't realize how bad the society they live in has become. Hana can see it but lacks the love for others she needs to truly become a champion for change.

Lena's story deals largely with her struggle to master her emotions, to learn how to be the loving person she is fighting to have the right to be, and yet to have some sort of control over those feelings. To let herself embrace those feelings, but to not let them overpower her. I can't imagine going through my late teen years, and coming to terms with all of the things that entails, all while fighting for my life and my right to be who I am to the extent of it being life-or-death. Can you?? I love that her mother comes back in to play, though I struggled with their interactions at first. And I loved that we see Grace again!

My only complaint is that this is a trilogy!!!!  It is over!!  I would LOVE to see the next few years for these characters and their world.  I am definitely left hungry for more!

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Inferno by Dan Brown

Well, this will be proof that I am honest in my thoughts about a book and don't love everything!

I will begin by saying that I thought the way the book ended was great, I love the premise and think that the issues the story is based on are truly worth being spoken about (not going to discuss them here though, that would be a huge spoiler!). I think it isn't saying too much to say that overpopulation plays a key role, and I like the stark reality that is used to present the situation.

That being said, the way Dan Brown got to the last fifth or so of the book infuriated me! I think the main issue for me is that despite how much I love the Robert Langdon character, how fascinated I am with his character's profession and background, and also how much I love Tom Hanks as an actor, I think Dan Brown needs to move beyond this character. That, or maybe take a break from him until he has a story to tell that better suits what the Langdon character provides to a story. I think this character is perfectly suited to the first two novels he was the focal point of, The Da Vinci Code, and Angels and Demons. But, with this book and The Lost Symbol, I felt that the inclusion of Robert Langdon was forced and a bit awkward. I think that what Langdon has to provide as a character is much more interesting when it is used to present and investigate situations presented as "ancient mystery" type situations, with clues left behind long ago. With this book, antiquities were used by the protagonist to create clues. I would love to see the author deal with other secret societies like he has before; The Bilderberg Group or Skull & Bones maybe, there are plenty sufficiently clandestine and mysterious ones left out there for him to choose from! I would also love to see him do some stand alone novels again. Deception Point and Digital Fortress were both fabulous. He is a great storyteller and I love the amount of research it would seem he puts in to his books, I guess things have just started to become more formulaic.

That being said, and this may sound surprising with what I have said, I think it is still a good read. I just think it should come with a disclaimer--"This book may make you crazy at first!"--or something of the sort. I think it is meant to be a shocking twist, and it is to a certain extent, but that becomes overpowered by the fact that it is also a relief to be done with the annoying nature of the rest of the book.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Saying Goodbye, Mourning a Loss, 28 Years Later

I need to preface this by apologizing to those friends and family who will find themselves reading this, and wondering why this is the first time they are hearing it. I am not sure whom I have told over the years, but know it is not a long list.

In March of 1985 I attended a Depeche Mode concert at the Hollywood Palladium with my high school boyfriend (my first love), and a friend of ours. By midway through the concert I was in and out of the bathroom in complete misery.  I thought I was just having a particularly heavy and crampy period. After arriving home I spent much of my time sitting on the toilet in the bathroom. At some point while sitting there, it occurred to me that this was not my period, it was a miscarriage. At the time I viewed it as a good thing; I was, after all, only 15! I dealt with it, alone--I told nobody at the time, and went on with my life.

I thought about it over the years, but never really processed it mentally or emotionally, never dealt with it. There were times when I felt like I should mourn the loss, but I always felt silly. This was, after all, an unplanned pregnancy. One that happened when I was at an age that trying to raise a child would have quite possibly been disastrous. And before I lost the baby, I never even knew I was pregnant. I guess I felt that I didn't even have the right to place myself in the same category as women who lost babies they had been trying to have and had grown to love.

Flash forward to a few days ago. I am still in contact with my boyfriend from back then, and with our friend that joined us that night. They are both Facebook friends. Last week the boyfriend went to see Depeche Mode play, and he posted about it on FB. This led to a discussion about the 1985 concert. And I found myself sitting here crying.

Maybe things are compounded by the fact that I find myself 43 years old, yet single and childless. Childless despite an overwhelming desire, for as I long as I can remember, to be a mother. I don't really have much time left to reasonably become one, and this is something that constantly haunts me. Lately, I have begun to mourn the possible loss of a chance at motherhood. And I have had to face the fact that the baby I lost might have been my only chance at being a mother. Perhaps it doesn't help that the HS boyfriend now has 2 kids, 2 beautiful daughters, and when I see pictures of them I wonder how similar our own child might have been.

So here I am. I know I have every right to mourn the loss of that child. And to mourn the loss of all he or she might have been and meant. Yet, I have no idea how to even begin. So I thought I'd start here, by publicly acknowledging that this baby existed, and by publicly calling myself that child's mother. I am sorry I never got to know this child, never got to fight through being the teenage mother to him or her, never got to sit proudly at a graduation or wedding or become a grandmother to the children that child might have had by now. It is the only step I know how to take so far.

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Pandemonium by Lauren Oliver

I plowed through this book, seriously flew through it! My reaction when I finished reading what I thought was just a chapter and flipped to the next page looking for more--its over, no more! Such is the torture of reading all but the last book of a trilogy or series! A necessary evil complicated by the fact that I was reading this on my NOOK and not paying attention to page numbers of the fact that there was a reader's guide and such at the end.

Anyway, on to the book!

Obviously I enjoyed the book, or I wouldn't have read it so quickly and be hungry for more. I struggled to settle in to it at first. This book switches between flashbacks of the time right after the end of Delirium and about 6 months or so past that, which is the present. But that becomes more fluid pretty quickly.

Lena is seen processing the events she just experienced in the flashbacks, and acclimating to her new reality and the people and conditions that populate that reality. In the present she has become a part of the resistance and is poised on the edge of her next big challenge, and the change that will come with it. I enjoyed watching her continue to grapple with what she has left behind her, her "now," and her sense that her future is now fully out of her control.

As i'd hoped, the author further builds and fleshes out the world this story is set in during this book. We see other cities, others Wilds, other people--both similar to, and wildly different from, the people and factions we have seen so far. It becomes clearer how misguided the government is, bent on a sort of purification of the populace as a whole. Elimination of things, and people, who do not fit their sense of order and purity. Awful concepts start to spring in to my mind like eugenics, gentrification and even genocide, though with a hands of approach, letting those less desirable struggle to find sustenance and safety--a sort of survival of the fittest set up with the fittest being chosen, not destined.

I can't wait to get my hands on Requiem! And I am adding Delirium Stories to my "To Be Read" pile, it has 3 stories, each delving further in to the stories of women in Lena's life--Annabel, Hana and Raven.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Delirium by Lauren Oliver

I am starting TOTALLY off topic. I am reading, really reading, more than 10 or 20 pages a day! New drugs? Maybe? Vacation? Maybe, but I don't care!

Okay, on to Delirium! Maybe I also read this quickly because I liked the book. I am anxious to start Pandemonium, the next book in the trilogy. I don't want to share too much, I would never want to spoil a book for anyone!

When I first started this book, I was worried I wouldn't like it. A cure for love seemed a bit silly and I was worried it would be too romance-y, which is not my thing. But it grew on me by 20 pages in or so.

Lauren Oliver's writing is easy to read. Descriptive, but not so much so that it feels overdone. I also feel as if maybe she intentionally makes it feel a little too soft at the beginning, too sentimental and gushy, so that the reality of it will feel more harsh.

Saying that this book is about a society that has found a cure for love won't give away anything the description of the book doesn't give away itself. When I first thought about it, curing someone of love seemed like something contained, something with not many facets. And, for someone who is still single at the age of 43 it felt almost like a good idea! I had forgotten about all of the aspects of love. Love of a parent for their child, love of one sibling for another, love of fellow humans. And there is what comes with love like empathy, sympathy, concern, that also come in to play. I also really grasped on to the brief mention of homosexuality, and how it was frowned upon. I had the thought that maybe it was that type of love, that society fights so hard against as we see in our true reality, that lead someone down the path of curing love. I love, yes love, that she also touches on the pain that often accompanies love and presents it as something necessary to truly experience love. I am a firm believer that life has to have hard times to really appreciate the good stuff, and like seeing anyone else embrace that concept.

Lena is a great character. She reminds me of myself, so maybe that is why I like her so much. I felt like some of the other characters were left a little hollow, but hope they will be filled in a bit more as the trilogy progresses, through their own stories and actions or those of others. Another character I really grasped on to is Grace, and I really hope we run across her again down the road.

I'll admit that there was one aspect that bothered me. And this likely comes from being someone who thinks too much and analyzes things until they are torn to shreds, but I have given up on fighting that in myself. I found myself surprised at times at methods of control and surveillance not being used by the government. A lack of love as a framework for society settling in to a rigid, authoritarian and oppressive existence really fascinated me. But I guess I was expecting cameras, all that "Big Brother" type of stuff. At some point I found myself wondering if the lack of all of the "bells and whistles" of such a society was intentional. Maybe a statement about the downfall of such a society being its own arrogance and blind belief that it is actually in control. Or maybe there is a connection to be made between love and ingenuity and that the desire that comes with love is what drives us to create, and without it we don't go any further, we stagnate. Or maybe I am thinking too much!

But, at the end of it all, I loved this story and look forward to seeing how it continues...

Thursday, August 22, 2013

In a past life I think I was a photographer...

Taking pictures makes me happy, as does sharing them. I love sunsets, especially when they involve sometimes I may just share them!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Depression, Clinical Trials, Healthcare and the World We Live In

Tomorrow is my last day in a long chain of clinical trials. This odyssey began almost 3 years ago, and I have been in 3 different trial and taken at least 3 different medications, likely more. I am actually a little afraid of not being on a clinical trial, even though it seems I may have finally found an antidepressant that is a good match for me because I am finishing the current trial and there isn't a new trial that I am a fit for right now.

I first explored the idea of joining a clinical trial because I am diagnosed as clinically depressed (also called Major Depressive Disorder), I don't have health insurance--and haven't had it since 2006, and I know my depression well enough to know it was time to be on meds again. I have also always been interested in clinical trials and how they work, and thought that contributing to a better solution for people suffering as I do, even if it didn't mean a solution for me, would make me feel good.

Being launched out of clinical trials scares me because participating in one almost made not having health insurance manageable. I was regularly receiving pretty thorough physicals, including EKGs, monitoring of my blood pressure, and various blood tests. I also received a full physical at least once during each of 3 trials, which included a full blood work that they shared the results of and even helped interpret them, even for aspects that had nothing to do with the possible side effects of the various medications. I actually feel that my health has been better monitored in the past 3 years than any other time in my adult life. They also were there to help me when I had a couple of medical issues and needed diagnosis and medication.

Participating in these studies has really helped me to embrace my depression and how it effects me. I am very grateful for this. We live in a society that does an extremely poor job of handling depression. I have been very open about my depression for quite some time. Not in a search for pity, or as an act of pride, but because I think it is something we need to talk about more openly, and more often. A few things I find really frustrating...

  • Confusing depression with sadness. So many people, when they hear of my depression, make suggestions as to how they handle it when they are sad. And yes, some of those things might help for a brief period of time, or might help alleviate some of the problems. But just like you can't cure a sinus infection by treating it as you would a cold, you can't help a person with depression by "treating" them for sadness. Sadness is usually about a specific struggle, or experience, of set of struggles or experiences you are dealing with and may be a part of depression, but depression carries with it the added "bonus" of having a brain that doesn't process certain important chemicals properly.
  • Thinking that depression is just "major sadness." Sadness is only one of many problems people with depression experience. Some of the other symptoms I battle with are insomnia, tiredness, lack of motivation, poor concentration, and pain. Fun, huh? Combining all these things with a feeling of unhappiness, or a least a sense of not being as happy as you should, and often an inability to pinpoint a cause of that feeling and therefor deal with it, can make life, and all of the things that need to be accomplished, really difficult.
  • Assuming that everyone who suffers from depression is suicidal. And I don't say this to invalidate the large number of people with depression who are. But I, thankfully, am part of the lucky group who doesn't deal with suicidal thoughts--something I personally think will eventually be linked to genetic differences. However, there are numerous times someone has assumed I am on the verge of killing myself, and although I certainly appreciate the concern, it can also be hard to spend much of your time around a person or people who refuse to accept that you aren't just saying you aren't requiring that type of concern.

I think that many of these things are not just wrong, but dangerous. Dangerous because if someone suffering from depression--someone who truly needs help beyond having a nice jog, or a relaxing bath--has their concerns invalidated enough by the people in their lives they may choose not to seek help. If someone is brave enough to talk about their depression with you, the most caring thing you can do is listen, with an open mind free from assumptions.

I find myself regularly angered by the state of healthcare in our country. I am a hardworking, tax paying 43 year old woman. It isn't okay that I cannot afford healthcare. I have spent so much of my time over the past seven years worrying about getting sick that I am surprised, and thankful due to my lack of healthcare, that I have not given myself an ulcer. Taxes pay for so many things that don't benefit me or almost anyone, including huge salaries for politicians that retired years ago and are still receiving healthcare. If my taxes pay for their healthcare why shouldn't they also ensure that I have it? This isn't a Republican problem or a Democrat problem, it is a HUMAN problem. The Declaration of Independence speaks of the inalienable rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. I think it is pretty much a no-brainer that my health is connected to the first and third item. And, seriously, do we really think a better option is having a bunch of people running around without the ability to pay for potentially required procedures? Or to force people with contagious illnesses, that are not rare and are quite easy to catch, such as strep throat, mono, chicken pox, and so on to not receive treatment and instead walk around spreading their illness? And, back to the topic of depression, why would anybody fight a solution to creating a situation where people who need readily accessible meds to treat depression from having the ability to get them? You'd think drug companies and doctors would be fighting for the chance to have more patients, but no...

And these two things lead to one of the saddest things of all, and that is self-medicating. So many people out there abusing drugs and/or alcohol are doing so in a vain attempt (whether it be a conscious choice or not) to feel better or different than they are currently feeling. I have a couple of people I am close to who are doing this, and it isn't getting them anywhere and is hurting the people in their lives too. It is just so hard to watch, and I wish so much I could help steer them in a different way. I have tried many times to properly convey to them how helpful I have found some of the meds I have tried. Some of them may have chosen drugs or alcohol over antidepressants at least in part because of a predisposition to addiction. But some fall in to self medicating because it feels like the only thing they have access to. And sadly, particularly with alcohol, substance abuse often carries with it much less stigma than being diagnosed with depression.  THIS IS NOT OKAY!

I hope that we, as a society, see the painful and sometimes terrible, results of not dealing with depression and/or not helping people get the tools they need to treat it, learn to better approach it and help those that have it.

For me, I think I have finally found the right medication to treat my current bout of depression, and am excited to see where it takes me once I am increased to the regular dosage. I only hope that I am able to continue to afford it...

Sunday, August 11, 2013

I may work retail, but...

...sometimes this is what greets me when I leave for the day!

It was one of the most beautiful rainbows I have ever seen. Incredibly vivid! And made even more amazing to look at because of the differentiation of the brightness inside the main bow, between the two, and then on the outside. Just gorgeous!


I may live in a hotel, but my view is incredible, tonight the sun setting over the Rocky Mountains was amazing!

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

My Own Laura Ingalls Wilder Journey, so far...

Since I just posted a blog about The Wilder Life, I figured it was an appropriate time to share my own Wilder adventure...

A little over 6 years ago, on my drive from Ohio (yes, I lived in Ohio for 8 months!) to Colorado, I spent some time "geeking out." My variety of geeking out involved visiting some Laura Ingalls Wilder sites. I actually planned my trip around these visits. I figured if I am going to drive halfway across the country, I should see some things along the way! Mansfield, Missouri, happened to be a reasonable place to stop without going out of the way, and it is where Laura spent most of her life and where she wrote the books. Mansfield is a tiny town, almost more of a village really, in the Ozark Mountains. I also attempted to visit the site of THE "Little House on the Prairie," in Independence, Kansas, but was prevented from doing so by extreme flooding. So, no pictures from that--though I did stay in Independence overnight. Below are pictures from Mansfield:

Bust of Laura Ingalls Wilder in the town square in Mansfield.
The gravestone for Laura and her husband Almanzo in the cemetary in Mansfield.
The gravestone for Rose Wilder Lane, Laura & Almanzo's daughter.
View of the side and front of their house from the front lawn.
Me standing on the front porch. (And I must just add, thank goodness I have lost weight AND bought a new bra since then!)
Me on the front porch of their other house, known as the Rock House. It is about a mile away on the same property and was built for them as a gift from their daughter Rose. They only lived in it for a short time and then moved back to their original home.
The garage at the Rock House. For some reason, before I saw this and the guide mentioned that it had held the car that Laura drove, it had never even occurred to me that she may have driven a car! Duh, she rode in wagons!
I have always wanted to share these...and hope one day to add images from trips to other home sites, so...

To be continued...

The Wilder Life by Wendy McClure

I read somewhere that the historical events you fixate on in life are likely to be those events you were in some way connected to in a past life. Do I think I am the reincarnation of Laura Ingalls Wilder? Of course not! Though it would be kind of cool if I was. I do, however, think that if this is the way things work, then I was someone like her--or her pa ;)--in a past life. This is the only possible justification for an obsession with all things Laura Ingalls Wilder that I always knew ran pretty deep.  One that I know is shared by none of my friends or family. I always felt there might be nobody I could realistically categorize as more obsessed than me...maybe just obsessed differently. Then, I read The Wilder Life!

Wendy McClure writes in a way I find really easy to read. Not easy meaning it is low level, but easy meaning I find it comfortable. Maybe I find it to be a lot like I might write if I ever got around to writing a book. I have visited 1 Little House site. The author has visited them all, or at least all of the ones that are on my list of "important ones," all of the ones I would like to visit. She approached them from an entirely different perspective though. She was on a path to try to find the location, or setting, or experience--something, ANYTHING--that would make her feel as if she had truly connected with "Laura World." Maybe even a doorway that would place her in this Laura World. This path lead her on a journey that involved not just visiting the sites where Laura and her family had lived, but also involved participating in many activities Laura likely found herself participating in. Some of these are activities many Laura fans have experienced, like making butter or maple candy. Others go far beyond that, most notably (in my opinion at least) being a visit to a homesteading weekend--one of my favorite parts of the story really!  I wish I could say I found myself shaking my head and wondering what could drive her to such extremes, and I did at times, but mostly I found myself searching online for ways to try these things out myself! Her recounting of all of the adventures is both humorous and sentimental.  And I felt it shared enough about the experience to really be sharing it, but not so much that it would ruin the adventure for her reader, should they be inclined to follow it to some degree.

For the author, this journey was also a very personal one, Laura Ingalls Wilder and her life serving as a conduit to some realizations and answers about herself...and a way to put some parts of her life in place. When I first realized the book was not just about an obsession with Laura, but also about the author's life and the things that might be feeding that obsession, I was disappointed. But I am not one to leave a book unfinished, even a bad one! And this book was far from that.  So onward I forged, and I am glad I did. If you are a fan of the books, or a fan of any book series for that matter, I think you will love this book. But, I also think you will enjoy this book if you are a human who has ever immersed themselves in something they loved as part of the process of dealing with something they couldn't figure out how to navigate...which I am pretty sure is just about EVERYONE!

Sunday, June 9, 2013

One Year

I just realized that one year ago today (technically yesterday by about 3 hours), I finished packing up my fabulous 1 bedroom & den apartment

and moved most of my remaining belongings in to storage, and myself and my cat in to a Motel 6.

Some might consider the fact that I find myself still in a hotel, a year later, proof of failure.  I don't.  The past year has been one of the many roads of my life.  I was meant to travel it.  It has led me through many lessons, frustrations, challenges, etc.  So far, along this road, I have (among other things): made a new friend, learned that I can live comfortably in a much smaller space than I would ever have thought, and acquired a better ability to appreciate the smaller things in life.  I have also learned to be proud of not just typical accomplishments, but also for how I react to what life sends my way and how I get to the other side of each challenge.

I wonder where I will find myself June 8, 2014--both my physical self and my soul...

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

My Relationship with Reading

I used to be a voracious reader.  It was not unusual for me to finish a good page-turner in a 24-hour period. But over the years, a combination of stress, clinical depression (and all of its "joys" including struggling with concentration), multiple moves, the rise of the internet and all of its enticing activities, and other things, has caused me to feel constantly behind on life in general.  And in this whole struggle I have let reading mostly fall off my daily activities.  In fact, I have to acknowledge that in the past year I have only finished 2 books and started a third!  This saddens me, but I have just let it go.

Well, this week I took a couple of vacation days, which gave me 4 days off in a row!  Something I have not experienced in quite some time, and something I hadn't realized I desperately needed.  And, despite the 8 months of unemployment, and then the weeks where I only worked a day or two when I first started my current job, this is the first time I have spent 4 days straight alone, and without the weight of the world on my shoulders.  Yes, I still have stresses and things to handle, but a stable housing situation and job, among other things, allowed me to truly relax.  And while relaxing I discovered that not relaxing was what ate my drive to read!  Well, that, and I think that re-reading books I have already read made things less exciting.  The re-reading can't be helped, because the next book in the Outlander series comes out this year and I read the lost one in a bit of a fog and need to just start over.  One book almost down in that endeavor though!

Anyway...the point of this long story, that I seem to have been unable to make short, is that I have set myself a goal to read 50 books this year.  20 years ago that would have been nothing, but after a year of finishing only 2 I think it is a pretty good challenge!  I am going to start a list here with my intended reads, and cross them off as they are completed.  As of now, they are, in no particular order:
  1. Outlander - Diana Gabaldon -- FINISHED!!  1 down, 49 to go!
  2. The Wilder Life - Wendy McClure -- FINISHED!!  2 down, 48 to go!  Working on a blog post about this one, LOVED it!
  3. The Girl in the Leaves - Robert Scotticon -- We will just have to call this one done at about 2/3 of the way through.  Interesting subject matter, but stretched out way longer than it needed to be, and stretched out with drivel!!
  4. Delirium - Lauren Oliver - Finished, yay!  I talk about it here: Delirium
  5. Pandemonium - Lauren Oliver -- started 8/25/13, finished 8/31. Read about it here: Pandemonium
  6. Inferno - Dan Brown -- started 5/14/13, finished 9/26/13. Read about it here: Inferno
  7. Dragonfly in Amber - Diana Gabaldon
  8. Requiem - Lauren Oliver
  9. Delirium Stories - Lauren Oliver
  10. Voyager - Diana Gabaldon
  11. Drums of Autumn - Diana Gabaldon
  12. The Fiery Cross icon- Diana Gabaldon
  13. A Breath of Snow and Ashes - Diana Gabaldon
  14. An Echo in the Bone - Diana Gabaldon
  15. Written in My Own Heart's Blood - Diana Gabaldon (due out some time this Fall, EDIT: Release date has been pushed back to March 25, 2014, BOO!)
  16. Before I Fall - Lauren Oliver
  17. If I Stay - Gayle Forman
  18. Come Back - Claire & Mia Fontaine (I like some non-fiction mixed in)
  19. Incarnate - Jodi Meadows
  20. The Cats of Tanglewood Forest - Charles De Lint
  21. Howl's Moving Castle - Diana Wynne Jones
  22. The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making - Catherynne Valente
  23. Cinder - Marissa Meyer
  24. Across the Universe - Beth Revis
  25. Fortunately, the Milk - Neil Gaiman

Wish me luck!  The challenge is on!

UPDATE: 6 down as of 9/26/13!

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Yes, I Live in a Hotel!

Kind of a strange post to start with, but this is something I have been wanting to write about for a while...

Some back story to begin with: After 8 months of unemployment, and the slow financial recovery once I had a job again, I moved out of an apartment I really loved in June of 2012.  I hadn't been able to afford it for quite some time, and the lease was finally up.  I had spent the months prior to moving out attempting to find a new rental, to no avail.  So, as d-day approached, I had to shift focus a bit and begin to prepare for an alternate solution.  I began by seriously going through all of my things and purging.  I sold quite a few things, gave away things I couldn't sell, etc.  And, on June 8, 2012 I moved the bulk of what remained in to a 5x10" storage unit and myself, my cat, and a car full of stuff in to a room at the local Motel 6.  Now, you may look at the blog title and think this is the hotel of which I speak--it is not.  In fact, it was the first of 5 hotel rooms at 3 different hotels, interspersed with 2 week-long house-sitting gigs, and 5 months renting a basement room from someone who turned out to be less than sane.  Approximately 10 months, and much learning, later I find myself in a great situation.  I just wish I had ended up here to begin with.

These are the lessons I've learned, and the solutions they led to...

Don't be embarrassed!  During my hotel stays I have seen, and met, many people who have been living in hotels for YEARS.  This is a far more common choice than you'd think, especially in recent years with the change in economic climate.  Due to my initial embarrassment I stopped having friends over, something I really love to do, and this led to me isolating myself.  Now, I regularly have friends over, and am actually a bit proud of how I have set myself up here.

Never underestimate the importance of certain things.  These things will be different for each of us.  I chose my first hotel based primarily on their weekly rate, and also their pet policy that allowed me to have my cat with me but pay no fee.  This made it cheaper than a hotel that had the same weekly rate, but charged a $25/night (but not more than $150 over the stay) pet fee. The second hotel had free wifi and a small kitchenette, but I thought I'd be fine.  I was wrong.  Fast food quickly became expensive and sitting to use the free wifi such places provide made me feel like a loser.  I also felt even more isolated because many of my friends, and all of my family, aren't local and I communicate with them quite a bit online, and I lost that ability once I went "home."

Don't pick your hotel based on advertised prices, even those on discount sites.  The first 2 hotels had weekly rates that they advertised and that were much better than their nightly rates.  I also researched monthly rates, but found they were the same in both cases.  What I didn't realize, because it didn't occur to me--though if it had, I might not have asked anyway because I didn't want to admit this might be a long-term choice--was that some hotels offer even better rates if you commit to an even longer stay.  For the hotel I am at, that meant committing to a stay of 60 days or longer.  For making that commitment I am paying less a night than I was at hotel 2!  I really wish I had known that then...oh well.  My current situation eliminates the need to have a great credit score to avoid an additional deposit, AND make 2.5 times the monthly rent, like a typical apartment rental.  It also ends up costing me about the same amount as, or maybe less than, living in a 1 bedroom apartment by myself once utilities are taken in to consideration.  AND here they have a grab-and-go breakfast every morning and someone cleans my room once a week!  An added bonus is that after 30-days I am considered a resident, and don't have to pay tax on my room, they even refunded the tax paid for the first month.

Be honest with yourself about the length of your stay, and act accordingly.  As mentioned above the first benefit here is access to better rates.  Another huge benefit is taking the time to make yourself feel at home.  In my first 2 hotels I never really settled in.  I unpacked my suitcase and bags, but not much more.  That was a mistake because I never felt settled and that was awful.  

Here, at an Extended Stay ($200 off 30+ nights), I have settled in:

I have unpacked everything, and stowed all of my bags.  I wish the closet had doors, but outside of that it suits my needs.  A plastic drawer unit fits perfectly and gives me extra storage options.  Hanging shoe storage is great, though I had to shorten these (using binder clips) to leave space below for my hamper.  And my hamper is on wheels to make it easy to make the trek to do my laundry.  I also brought all of my own hangers, allowing me to hang more things and hang them well.  Oh, and there's the stepladder stowed on the side to make using every last bit of the top shelf possible.
My room has a comfy recliner.  I don't use it often, but when I do I love that I have some of my cozy throws with me.  I even brought my Slanket (so much better than a Snuggie!) with me.  The empty space behind the chair was a perfect place to stow my suitcase and a bunch of other stuff.

The bed is actually quite comfy, and there are plenty of goo pillows.  However, I made sure to bring my body pillow (the cat's favorite) and also have a comfy pillow for sitting up in bed!  Next to my bed is where I have set up my computer (I like to watch TV while online).  The table is actually the one meant for the dining area, I traded it out for the long desk-like table that was next to the bed to make it easier to get past and behind.  I am using a TV tray as a bedside table, and love that it is easily stowed.

The kitchens here are great!  I don't have a dishwasher, and that is an adjustment.  I also don't have an oven, and I hate that.  But otherwise, it rocks!  Having a full-size fridge makes it easy to eat as I would at an apartment.  I have a toaster oven, but have yet to try it as I am worried about using it on the counter-top.  MY crock-pot is a great addition, and I plan to try using it to cook Pillsbury Cinnamon Rolls tomorrow!  I got some cheap wire storage racks to expand my space and used the hanging ones outside of the cabinet instead of inside to make even more space for dishes.

Great TVs here!  And they have easy to use plug-ins on the side so using the PS2 I kept with me to watch DVDs is quite easy.  I don't get a ton of channels, but do get Showtime, use the free wifi to watch a lot on the computer.
The bathroom is pretty spacious, and I was able to use a tall narrow wire shelving unit I have with some bins to organize most of my bathroom needs.  I also have some drawers on the counter, and my own purple bathmat on the floor!

I plan to stay where I'm at indefinitely.  I'm only leaving for the perfect situation.  I would love to hear from people in similar situations with lessons learned and/or tips!

EDIT: I highly recommend Extended Stay.  They really do everything they can to both fill my needs AND make me feel like this is really my home and not a hotel.

Extended Stay Hotels