Image Slider

looking, pulling, sorting, checking

| On
Wednesday, January 31, 2007
This morning was my first day volunteering at the library. Woo! Despite the fact that I can work up nerves about anything if I allow enough time, I did not have even one nerve-related qualm. I not only enjoyed the work, but I still think it's a crucial step in my moving-forward plan! Everyone I met was so nice, although there was the sorta weird thing of interacting in a new way with people you've known on a strictly transactional basis in the past. (I'm there at least twice a week already and know most of the staff by sight... but I am pretty sure that weirdness exists mainly in my head and will probably go away soon.) Anyway, it was good and I am so glad to be helping, not only for my selfish reasons (experience, references), but also because I really believe in the library as an institution and am happy to have a chance to give back to a system that has given me so much.

I got there an hour before the doors opened to the public. This was important, because this particular branch is hopping. There were 20 people waiting to get in when they opened at 10. After I got a very thorough tour from a very patient librarian, I was set loose with a long (looooong) "hold list" of materials that had been requested. Portland's library system has one of the highest circulation rates in the whole country, and my branch is second busiest only after the main Central branch --there's a lot of stuff moving at any given moment, which means there are always people out in the shelves looking, pulling, and processing.

Most difficult to find: Manga and graphic novels in general. This area is very popular, there are a million series, and it is pretty much thrashed all the time.
Easiest to find: fiction. alphabetical by author!
Most exasperating to find because the titles are all the same: books on menopause, resumes, or fly fishing. I never had much time for dewey decimal before since I am more of an intuitive browser when looking for myself... but I'm a believer now!

I was surprised at how much I enjoyed the process -- finding things, filling the cart, and then doing the next computery steps of getting things on their way. I'm sure the novelty of that will wear off as I figure out the perfect system for me, but tracking down books seems likely to remain interesting. It's like a treasure hunt in a way -- I get to search, I get exposure to books I wouldn't think to look at on my own, and I know that I'm helping some other poor book junkie out there get their fix just a little bit faster.

Sunday is my next day. Since they don't open until noon, It will be interesting to see how different it is to do the bulk of the work while the branch is closed. I think today was a little extra-crazy because schools were out. Anyway... I'm so glad I pursued this. We'll see if I'm still saying that in a month, but for now I have to say it feels pretty good.

And now as a REWARD for wading through all of that, here is a completely charming stop-motion video titled Tony vs. Paul! This made the rounds a while ago. If you missed it then, you should make sure you watch it now because it's a lot of fun. (I particularly like the letter writing.)


| On
Sunday, January 28, 2007
get well flower portrait
no flash

with flash

The sun is shining, the day is beautiful, and even though I don't have much ready to post right now (soon!) I thought the top of this page could use some color. Here are two pictures of a get-well flower that a lovely friend gave me Thursday. Isn't the color difference insane? I think I prefer the creamier look of the no-flash picture, but the pink pink pink of the flash one is awfully fun.

the waiting is the itchy part

| On
Wednesday, January 24, 2007
This morning I woke up thinking of that Tom Petty song The Waiting. (everybody wakes up with a song stuck in their head/heart, right? RIGHT??) Why this song? Well, I do have a soft spot for Tom Petty, but I think this particular song was playing because I am doing a lot of in general waaaaayaaating right now. Everything in my ENTIRE LIFE is waiting (or so it seems) and it is making me crazy. er. Crazier. I know, I know -- time to turn that frown upside down and look on the bright side blah blah blah -- but I feel like someone replaced the inside of my skin with a cheap wool sweater and I am itchy itchy itchy. Not so much that it hurts, but I can't think of anything else. I have a waiting rash! An allergy to TIME. (okay, maybe not an allergy to time. although now I'm curious to know what would be the cure for an allergy to time? death? ointment? dietary supplements?)

Most of this waiting stuff is good. It's the next necessary step after some important first steps, and I have no doubt things will get moving soon. (although it is disconcerting when even my horoscope is all "think good thoughts, wait for years, and we'll see!") I know what has put the itching powder in my underpants: the evil elephant in my brain with an unending supply of itching powder is what. It's my freaking unknown final hospital bill -- 3 days in the hospital with no insurance causes its own special stressy hell. It's only money. If one has to have a problem, a problem that money can solve is better than a problem that no amount of money can solve, right? AND YET. I think if I just had a final number, I'd be fine. I know that it's right around 11,000 dollars as it stands, but my Financial Statement is currently under review. The hospital may knock a small or large portion off of the bill (they write off millions of dollars like this every year for the uninsured) or they may not knock any off at all. Obviously, I hope that they DO, but I will deal with what I have to deal with -- I just hate not knowing what that is!

You know what else? GWB can go directly to hell for any number of reasons, but wanting to tax insurance benefits should get him there a little bit faster. (giant incoherent rant deleted. summary of GIR: We need Universal Health Care in this country.)

In less itchy news, The New York Times has an interesting article on magical thinking. I do it a lot, but more as a method of self-comfort (which they talk about) than a compulsion. I'm not to the point where I can't function if I'm not wearing my lucky shoes or whatever (I have no lucky garments! see? I'm not crazy), but I will admit that a crappy day can be turned right around if I see someone carrying a book that says YES in huge letters or some other "sign." Anyway, it's an interesting article and I contend that indulging in that kind of thought in moderation is not only not-dangerous, it's beneficial to your mental health! AND way cheaper and less dangerous than other forms of self-comfort, like say.. heroin or krispy kreme donuts. (you know why I hate krispy kreme? There are many reasons, so I'll just hit the highlights: 1) I despise, despise that kind of kreativ spelling. It makes me go from serene to stabby in seconds. 2) to the krispy kreme evangelists: it's just a donut, people!! Maybe it's even a delicious donut, but seriously -- a DONUT! ) (did I mention that I feel itchy all over? It's sort of like ingesting waaaay too much caffeine.)

on that note: something to consider -- do you think it is possible to "think too much?" People say this to me, and on the one hand I know that I can over-think certain things (really? not you, jen!), but seriously... think too much? It's like saying "you breathe too much" -- it doesn't make any sense! That's what we DO. Just like lungs are for breathing, brains are for thinking, right? If people aren't thinking all the time then what the hell are they doing? (I don't mean necessarily deep thinking or profound thoughts -- just, you know, THINKING about stuff. ) I don't get it. If you can explain it to me, please do so. I promise I will think about it, but not too much (as if!) or too little -- just the right amount.

The Ladies of Grace Adieu

| On
Tuesday, January 23, 2007
by Susanna Clarke
I should start off by saying I've never read Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norell. I was interested when it came out, but I didn't get to it right away and honestly it just got away from me. So when I saw this collection of stories I thought, "hooray!" (with the exclamation point) and welcomed the opportunity to read some of Susanna Clarke's writing without committing to a door-stopper's worth.

But first, the cover. I know it's not essential and may even be silly to go on and on about covers and paper and whatnot, but dammit, it's part of the reading experience! I love how this book looks. It's another cloth cover (like Icelander ), but instead of a wolf, fire and snow (that would have been awkward, I suppose) this one has pink morning glories and a delightfully worn typeface for the title. The pages have nice ragged edges, and the book is illustrated by the marvelous Charles Vess. (The paper isn't nearly as nice as the paper in Icelander, but that would be hard to beat, honestly.)

This collection deals in magic, fairies and their intersection with the mundane world. It's a sort-of cross between polite Austen-era society and the tricky amoral world of fairies. (not amoral in LKH detail, thankfully.) Like all collections of stories, some really worked for me and to some I was fairly indifferent. She switches up her styles here and there -- the title story is set in the JS & MN world (Jonathan Strange plays a part), there are a few that seem very Jane Austen but for Fairies, there is one (On Likerish Hill) written in Suffolk dialect that I thought I wasn't going like, but ended up ranking it among my favorites, one set in the town of Wall from Stardust by Neil Gaiman. Ooh -- there were at least two stories with enchanted embroidery as well. How many story collections can you say that about? Not many!

One of my favorite stories is Tom Brightwind. Tom is a very old (but young-looking, because that's the fairy way), very tall, very imperious fairy prince. But he's made friends with a human doctor named David Montefiore and they apparently had many wide-ranging and well-documented adventures (I hope she writes more of these alluded to adventures down). They're a fun pair -- one is a devoted family man with a strong ethical streak (the doctor) and one has so many children he can't keep track (he's banished many of them for capricious reasons) and an essentially selfish nature (the fairy). Lots of fun. The particular adventure recounted in this story finds them meeting a lawyer in the road. Here's a bit that explains why I sort of have a crush on Tom Brightwind now:

"David!" cried Tom. "When did you ever see a lawyer that looked like that? Look at him! His rascally shoes are broken all to bits. There are great holes in his vagabond's coat and he has no wig! Of course he is a scoundrel!" He leant down from his tall horse. "We are leaving now, scoundrel. Goodbye!"

Rascally shoes??? (love.) Anyway, I enjoyed this collection but I think I'll wait a bit before I throw JS & MN on the already precariously tall reading pile.

index card insomnia

| On
Monday, January 22, 2007
bridge and lower falls
I had a pretty great (if low-key) weekend. Saturday was sunny for my walk, then I went on a drive up to Multnomah Falls with my mom and sister. Even though every tourist in the state was there and it was cloudy and overcast, it was still beautiful and a little bit frozen. This outing was followed by watching Mrs. Henderson Presents, which I enjoyed. The problem came with sleep. Maybe I got too hot, maybe I had too much caffeine, maybe I'm just losing it -- but I had a nightmare about an index card and couldn't get back to sleep. It was terrifying! I don't remember all the details, but someone was trying to get me to do something and I was refusing, so they had this index card (with a drawing on it) in a checkbook style thing and flipped it open in my face with full knowledge that this would scare me into submission. What they were not expecting was that even though I was terrified, I was NOT going to do whatever it was. I was so scared of this stupid index card that was in my face, but I licked it (this somehow broke the spell) and then woke up and was unable to get back to sleep. On the one hand, way to go subconscious getting over yourself and figuring out a way to literally lick problems. On the other hand, I am really tired! And what if it's post-its tonight? I can't be fighting office supplies in my dreams night after night!

Today I had a fun outing with my sister and Anonymous Tara. We went to low-key shopping and tried a bunch of stuff on in the communal dressing room. I used to hate this idea, but there's more room and your friends can give you the "that is hilariously unflattering" or "hey, that looks pretty good" info without having to negotiate a lot of knocking on dressing room doors, etc. I didn't buy anything, but I got some good ideas. Then we had an impossibly huge lunch. Mucho fun! The perfect ending to this weekend would be index-card free dreams. Wish me luck.

can you dig it?

| On
Friday, January 19, 2007
In honor of the weekend, a list! (I know, I know, it might as well be "in honor of breathing, a list.")

some cool links:

indexed: boing boing linked to this blog sometime last week -- I love it! She makes deceptively simple but smart diagrams and charts on index cards. It's cooler than it sounds.

Normal Room: Normal rooms from regular people all around the world. Strangely compelling.

Poe Tribute: How much do I love that someone is still leaving cognac and roses on Edgar Allan Poe's grave every year at his birthday? A lot.

random tv:

Buffy the Vampire Slayer: You know what? That musical episode is still really good.

The OC: I am going to miss this show! I kind of hate that they're having to squeeze everything left into four episodes, but when I think about it, they've always tied things up quickly. I'm just sad because they're tying them up FOREVER. Did they at least make it to syndication? Will I be able to turn on the TV to a random channel at 2AM and wonder anew how Marissa got such a big bottle of vodka into such a tiny purse?

Men In Trees: I like this in spite of myself. It's like a cross between Sex and the City (which I never really watched, so I guess it is like my idea of Sex and the City) crossed with Northern Exposure. Relationship Girl meets Quirky Town. I am annoyed by it in principle, but somewhat charmed by it in practice -- certainly better than the reverse. I like it but do not love it. If I never saw another episode I wouldn't be too fussed.

Ugly Betty: It goes crazily over the top, but that's what telenovelas do! The crazy just points out how decent Betty is. She's a good person, but not noble and irritating. I love her. (Marc is my second favorite -- he's neither decent nor noble, but he makes it work.)

random recent (to me) movies:

40 Year Old Virgin(2005): I almost didn't watch this because two good friends despised it and I hate humiliation comedies. (Meet the Parents is what they show on continuous loop IN HELL.) On the other hand, some sensible people liked it and being stupid and crass is not an automatic deal-breaker for me -- witness my enduring affection for Dude, Where's My Car. Also contributing, one of the two friends who hated it confessed that she later saw it on cable and changed her mind. I decided to give it a shot. Despite the first 40 minutes or so which were ROUGH, it turned out to be pretty sweet. A sweet movie with a lot of dick jokes, but a sweet movie nonetheless. I think what saved it for me is that the title character (Steve Carell, I heart you!) was so inherently DECENT -- I never felt like the purpose of the movie was his abject humiliation.

Trouble in Paradise (1932): This movie is so delightful! It's been a few weeks since I watched it now, but I found it as the result of some random library "Lubitsch" searching. (recommended! I can't wait to do it again.) Trouble in Paradise is often referred to as sophisticated, and I don't think that's just because of the tuxedos and the lack of dick jokes. It's an adult movie -- things are complicated and twisty and there's no easy a-ha! answer to the problems encountered. There's a pair of thieves who are by no means rehabilitated and a realistic love triangle without a glaringly obvious solution. Of course that makes it sound like medicine or otherwise un-fun, which is a problem because it is completely charming and very funny. I think what I like best is how humane this movie is. Sure, it's set in a rarified world of international jewel thieves and heiresses, but the problems they're dealing with are not heiress or jewel-thief problems, but people problems (with better clothes). Plus there's great art deco detailing and amazing Travis Banton gowns throughout! I think I'll watch it again before I return it. (This was the Criterion DVD which had some great extras and commentary.)

The Miracle of Morgan's Creek (1944): More Betty Hutton! She makes me laugh and laugh. This Preston Sturges movie is crazy, and that's no lie, but it's the best kind of crazy. In a bout of, um, patriotic zeal (via partying), Trudy Knockenlocker finds herself married and pregnant, but she can't remember the name or location of the soldier she married. Complications and confusions ensue! It is very convoluted, but hilarious. This has much more over the top lunacy than The More the Merrier, which was made a year earlier. I really like over the top lunacy in these kinds of movies. I can't help it.

The More The Merrier (1943): More patriotism (but no implied naked patriotism) -- Connie Milligan knows that living quarters in war-era Washington DC are at a premium, so she sublets half of her apartment. An eccentric billionaire tricks his way in (of course!) and then proceeds to secretly sublet half of his half to a handsome military man. Guess what happens next? This movie was fun, but lacked the zany Out There quality of Morgan's Creek. (So if screwball zany is not to your liking, heretic, but you still like funny, this would be a good choice.) I enjoyed it, but it didn't give me that extra ZAP of happiness that my very favorites do. (Jean Arthur, Charles Coburn, and Joel McCrea are all excellent, though.)

snow wizards

| On
Wednesday, January 17, 2007
dogs love it
yesterday at the park

top of sled hill
today on the way to the library

SNOW! We had lovely beautiful snow yesterday, and tonight it seems like things will be melting without major icy repercussions. (translation: the places I need to go are not icy.) Hooray! I walked down to the library today because I had holds waiting for me. (I am not even joking when I say this is exciting.) I could have probably driven with minimal trouble, but getting out in the snow was more fun. Plus, walking took longer, and this morning it was crucial that I get Out of the House or I was going to Lose My Mind (more on that in a moment).

I'm so glad I did walk! The steepest hill had been completely taken over by sledders who were having contagious fun PLUS I got to see three very stylish snow persons (one boy, one girl, one gender undetermined). I also got a blister, but that's a small price to pay considering my lovely purple docs did not skid or slip even a little bit. All this fresh air and exercise helped me to come home with a more positive attitude to my sweet Aunt C., who was trapped here overnight because of the weather. I love my aunt. She is one of the kindest and well-meaning people I know. However, she is also a raw-food enthusiast who told me "Jesus is the only anti-depressant" and works on what I like to call an Alternate Universe Genealogy. Don't get me wrong -- I love family histories and stories of ancestors, particularly the malcontents and screw-ups. But ... well... this time she's searching for elusive connections to the court of Elizabeth I. Of course no new "discovery" will ever top the great Wizard Connection. Forget Daughters of the American Revolution, fellow Daughters of Merlin, I salute you! Why limit yourself to history when the whole wide world of mythology awaits? The roads cleared enough that her ride was able to come fetch her, so I hope that she's happily searching for ladies in waiting or famous sorcerers from the comfort of her own living room by now.

My Noiseless Entourage

| On
Monday, January 15, 2007
by Charles Simic
I'm not exactly sure what I want to say about Charles Simic and this collection of poems. It is almost embarrassing how much I like his work. As always, the more I like something the less I want to talk about it because it's more revealing somehow than talking about things that are merely pleasant. However, since this is a new year and a new page and all that jazz I am going to try. He's dark, cranky, kind, weird, oddly optimistic, insomniac, creepy, genius (he even got the genius grant, so I'm not just being hyperbolic), funny and sexy. Sexy, I tell you! But let's get back to the insomnia... There's a sleepless logic that permeates many of the poems in this collection (or dream logic, which seems like it should be the opposite of sleepless logic, but isn't). He speaks directly to the things that lurk in the heart or hide under the bed; not agreeing to ignore (as so many of us do) the strange happenings that are just out of view when one is awake. That alone wins me over, but to top it off he does it with such style, grace, wit, spiky charm and insane black humor that I am helpless. Other poems (besides the one below) that caught my attention in this collection were Kazoo Wedding, Sweetest, and Minds Roaming. I should say those are the ones that leapt out at me as I leafed through this collection right now. If I did it again in an hour it could be five different selections.

Midnight Feast
for Michael Krüger

Snowflake and laughter salad.
Cuckoo-clock soup.
Andouillettes of angel and beast.
Bowlegged nightingale in aspic.

Peep-show soufflé.
Fricassee of Cupid with green peas.
Roasted bust of Socrates with African postage stamps.
Venus in her own gravy.

Wines of graveyard lovers--
Or so I read in a take-out menu
Someone slid under my door
While I sat staring at the wall.

Radio On: A Listener's Diary

| On
Friday, January 12, 2007
by Sarah Vowell
This book is a time machine to twelve years ago. Newt Gingrich had just led a revolution to the republican controlled house and senate, Kurt Cobain had been dead for less than a year, and 9/11 hadn't happened. It makes a body nostalgic for the days when all it took to work up righteous indignation was Rush Limbaugh and Newt Gingrich. What the current president does on a daily basis is so much worse... Rush barely gets a rise out of me anymore and Newt is trotted out on cable news shows to be the reasonable republican. But this book isn't just a historical document of What Was Happening and/or Playing on the Radio, it's also about What She Was Thinking (about what was happening and/or playing on the radio). Since the she in question is Sarah Vowell, well... I wanted to read it.

Radio On is a loving yet prickly snapshot of America in 1995. She listened all over the country and all over the dial. It's about her, it's about America, it's about all of us. This text will be a gold mine for some kid in 2050 who has to write about the political atmosphere of the late twentieth century. This is not my favorite Sarah Vowell book -- it may even be my least favorite. The daily diary format allows for a lot of random bitching (hello, blogworld!) that would probably be edited out of a regular essay. It's kind of messy and distracting, but on the other hand I think some of the most telling and honest parts come out of the mess. Oh, hell. Just read it and see what you think.

ANYWAY, this is great fun to read. I love how she writes about music and believe it or not, how she writes about Rush Limbaugh.

Scott Pilgrim's Precious Little Life

| On
Thursday, January 11, 2007
by Bryan Lee O'Malley

I think this comic is best introduced in the words of its hero, Scott Pilgrim. So here's The Story of Scott Pilgrim (As Told by Scott Pilgrim): My name is Scott Pilgrim! I'm 23 and I live in Toronto with my cool gay roommate, Wallace Wells. I'm in a band called Sex Bob-omb (we're not very good though), and I'm "between jobs". Some of my friends say I'm a freeloader, but I think Wallace is just really nice! Anyway, I've been having some girl troubles lately. I kind of ended up dating this girl with, uh, seven evil ex-boyfriends, apparently? Her name is Ramona Flowers and she's from New York, which makes her super extra-cool. Anyway, her ex-boyfriends keep showing up to fight me! It's really extreme and stuff!! Girls show up from my past to make things more complicated, and it's not like having a relationship is easy to begin with! I've got baggage and stuff, okay?!

I think what I like best is that although this is a relationship comic, it's one with a self-depricating sense of humor -- a crucial factor for my personal enjoyment! The side characters are great -- Wallace and Scott's sister Stacey are my favorites so far. Plus, the whole "seven evil ex-boyfriends" element keeps it zingy. Scott is aimless but charming at the beginning, but by the time we get to the first evil ex-boyfriend (Matthew Patel -- Ramona's 7th grade boyfriend) he really seems to be gaining a sense of purpose. I look forward to seeing what comes next. I enjoyed it a lot and am glad to see that there are 3 volumes out now.

I looked under the mats and I asked all the cats

| On
Wednesday, January 10, 2007
bark and flower
Good news: I got a genuine piece of non-bill/ non-junk mail today! Woo! It was from an old friend (from 4th grade through high school) with whom I recently reconnected. It was very sweet and quite welcome. It reminds me that I like SENDING mail too, so I should get back on that. Maybe it can be one of my sub-resolution categories -- send at least one piece of fun mail per month to someone. It doesn't have to be complicated; even postcards are nice!

Park Update: creepy weird guy is now hiding behind trees. Or maybe I am just hallucinating/dreaming that he is doing so -- I'm not sure which is worse.

Speaking of worse, Open Letter to Runners Who Wear Too Much Cologne:
Dear Fitness Enthusiast Who Has Obviously Lost All Sense of Smell,
Why must you torment me with your headache-inducing cologne? If you are so concerned with your odor while in pursuit of cardio-vascular health, might I suggest a little something called A SHOWER??? Try it. I'm begging you.
I Can Smell You From 1/4 Mile Away

Coming soon: some book stuff, because I don't want to fall as behind as I did last year! Until then, some songs I heard today:

Billy Liar -- The Decemberists: If I were the president of the North American Vowel Sound Association (NAVSA), I would award Colin Meloy some sort of medal on a ribbon to be worn about the neck. The lyrics "will you stay here, for a while dear/ 'til the radio plays something familiar, (plays something familiar/ plays something familiar)" become an exercise in torturing extra syllables out of normal english words. I love it. He tortures, so that I might enjoy. (familiar is pronounced about eight different ways, all plausible.) The title character is a compelling yet unsavory window peeping pervert -- the likes of which are to be found throughout the Decemberists' catalogue. (bless their deviant, black, dictionary-loving hearts.)

My Dog Was Lost But Now He's Found -- Fiery Furnaces: so appropriate to hear at the park, since it is always full of dogs. I love this crazy song, especially the thrilling conclusion alluded to in the title!

Everybody's Happy Nowadays -- The Buzzcocks: Hee hee. This would be great on a stealth "sorry for myself" mix -- except it's not strictly sorry... Some days it's about growing as a human being, on others it's about realizing the whole world is conspiring to make things sound better than they are. How I take it depends entirely on my mood (which makes the case for a great song, I would say). Ah, snotty english teenagers, how I love the sound of your angst!

Art Snob Solutions -- Of Montreal: hee hee hee. This is double snotty, but sung in a such a sweetly beatle-melodic way I can't help but love it. (It's January in Oregon. Snotty but sweet songs are helping me to survive the low-light.) I was just going to put a couple of lines in, but it's all so good. (esp. "that's right mascara snake!!!") The lyrics come from their website:

What’s up directors? Grab your knives!
It’s time to take all all of the lives
Of the people who cannot see the somnolent genius of Tarkovsky

Come on authors grab your guns!
It’s time to murder everyone who has never heard of Apollinaire
Send them all to hell it’s only fair

Cast them all into the flames if they don’t know any names
Of the principles of Arte Povera
Or are unfamiliar with le serpent mascara
That’s right mascara snake!!!

Come on painters alive or dead
Give all the cretins a boot to the head
If they don’t extoll convincingly
Tempered Elan era Kandinsky

Throw them all into a well if they cannot tell
An Arto Parv feast of repitition from a Schoenburg 12 tone composition

Come on artists the day is here
And your mission is very clear
Put an end to the bourgoussie
And death to everyone who’s never heard of me

list (with zombies)

| On
Monday, January 08, 2007
Glinda of Oz

**I am so tired of adhesive on my face! It's just band-aids now, but they are making me CRAZY with the itching and the sticky. analysis: I am a whiner.

**I haven't actually witnessed it myself, but I have heard tell of a livejournal/blog meme going around about watching 100 movies in 2007. I totally fell for the 50 books in 2005 thing -- the timing was right for me. Maybe I'll try the movie thing too. I love movies, films, CINEMA, whathaveyou, but got away from it for a long time. [for such a stupid reason! I let someone steal my joy. New motto: You can pry my joy from my cold dead hands, but I wouldn't try it due to the whole zombie revenge thing. Okay, maybe that's a little long for a motto (although I would enjoy seeing it done in needlework).] analysis: Stupid reasons factor too heavily in my decision making processes (conscious and unconscious).

**I LOVE classic children's book illustrations. My dad had many of the Oz books from his own childhood when I was growing up -- my sister and I were encouraged to read these tattered family treasures, but since they were so fragile we had to do so sitting at the dining room table. (this was a huge divergence from our usual reading anywhere/everywhere/upside down / while swimming/riding bikes/etc. methods.) I have always been in love with Ozma's poppy headdress -- so stylish, and I imagine it would keep your ears warm. Ozma was always one of my favorites since she had DARK HAIR (and her own army) in a literary world of blonde little girls -- yeah, Dorothy, Alice, Trixie... I'm lookin' at you.analysis: I heart books, poppy crowns, and illustrations. I may also want my own army.

**Yesterday I spent the afternoon going through my closet culling out stuff that doesn't fit or is hideous or just doesn't work for me anymore. I tried on EVERY SINGLE item hanging in there and it was surprisingly un-torturous. In fact, it was sort of fun. I even got it all put away without having a pile of clothes on the floor. analysis: I can't believe I forgot about my skull skirt! Also, no more corduroy jackets for me.

**I also read about a Photo A Day thing for the new year that sounded interesting, but I don't think I have it together enough to participate. Maybe a three photos a week thing... analysis: it's okay to adapt things to your own purposes, nefarious or otherwise.

Fables Vol 6: Homelands

| On
Saturday, January 06, 2007
by Bill Willingham
More big fun from the Fables franchise. The first half of this book is about Jack (you know, Jack Horner, Jack of the Tales, Jack be nimble, Jack and the beanstalk) -- the blond troublemaker/ con artist who always takes the shortcut and always gets his ass handed to him as a result. Jack decides to leave Fabletown (because they don't appreciate him there) and move to Hollywood to seek the fame and respect he thinks he deserves. He becomes a big mover and shaker (thanks to a huge pile of stolen Fabletown money) and starts his own studio. Things, as you might imagine, don't go well for long.

The second half of this collection deals with the ongoing story of The Adversary. Blue (Little Boy Blue, who's not so little, here) comes into his own going deep into enemy territory. He has what they call the Jabberwock's Bane (the vorpal sword!) so the words "snicker-snack" appear a satisfying number of times as he fights his way to The Adversary... whose identity is revealed! (But I won't say who it is.) Anyway, there's no Snow or Bigby or Rose Red in this one, but we get to spend time with some of the previously minor characters and some new (to the series) characters -- Mowgli, Bagheera, the Snow Queen. To sum up: fairy tales, vorpal sword, a lot of fun.

the filth took away my license

| On
Thursday, January 04, 2007
Today was my first real day back walking since my face betrayed me into surgery. (I went one other time, but it was WAY too soon and I could barely get to the park and back, let alone walk around once I got there.) It was good! It was also raining and cold and the path was muddy and gross, but somehow this all seemed as it should be since it's January in Oregon.

With the miserable nature of January in Oregon in mind, I have noticed that lately (post-hospital/post-holiday) I have been drawn to cheerfully misanthropic songs. Well, cheerfully misanthropic songs, songs that trigger my glee impulse (which is buried deep within my chest), and then, inexplicably, wildly sentimental songs. Oh! and as always, songs that are sexually inappropriate. (you know... the ones that are so damn catchy, but then you have to pray you don't absentmindedly sing along with them in public? It's not just me, right??)

Here's a short list (I'm sure that at least a few of these will have to go on a Cheerful Misanthrope CD mix soon -- I have to think about it a little more and decide if there is such a thing as cheerful misanthropy, or if it is actually just "being a sociopath" which seems a little less jolly. If I were a sociopath I wouldn't care about the distinction though, would I? Right? RIGHT??)

LDN -- Lily Allen: I am CRAZY about this song! In fact, I am actually upset that I never heard it until 2 days ago. The music is calypso jaunty, the lyrics are matter-of-fact jaded and cynical but sung so sweetly! "Ridin' through the city on my bike all day/ cause the filth took away my license" It's a love song to the seedy side of London, and I have a crazy crush on it. (It also reminds me of Run Lola Run, but I'll save that comparison for the inevitable mix CD post.)

I'm No Lover -- Antarctica Takes It!: !!! This sounds like a circus marching band bent on personal revenge... except there is some vigorous piano, which might be difficult to reproduce in circus marching band format. Regardless, I LOVE IT. "I'm not a lover, I'm a fighter/ and I will burn your house down" and so on. It is short and not-sweet but exuberant and exciting. (both this song and the previous were found on the excellent Best Songs of 2006 list at Said The Gramophone. The links may have already expired or will expire soon, but it's worth checking out for the writing and suggestions. Especially if, like me, you did piss-poor job keeping up with new music in the past year.)

Happiness Runs -- Donovan (or Mary Hopkin): I don't get it! here I am enjoying vicarious tales of revenge (I'm No Lover) and urban thuggery reportage (LDN), and then this crazy hippie happy song comes along and goddamn if I don't love it too. I know it's corny, but I don't care. "you can have everything if you let yourself be"

The Memphis Train -- Rufus Thomas: eeeeeeee! I am still nuts about this song. (it is GREAT in the car.) I think for me the love breaks down like this: random WOOOOO!'s, insane bass, train noises, horns, counting "train number one is gone...", all around excellence, and "oooooooeeeee, that memphis train". I have it from the Mystery Train soundtrack, which also features the excellent Soul Finger by The Bar-Kays.

Jack U Off -- Robyn: (prince cover) ha ha ha! guess which category this one falls into? There is just something so deliciously twisted around about this song -- it's just her voice and a really loud piano and eyebrow raising lyrics (which I bet you'd never guess from the title!). Ooh, here Pitchfork describes what makes it work for me: "Still, she takes obvious glee in the song's brattiness and, like Prince, recognizes the comedic absurdity of the single entendre. Also like Prince, Robyn manages to make it equally funny and sexy, which is no small feat."

Hooray For Love -- Ella Fitzgerald: from Ella Sings the Best of the Songbooks. This song has been torturing me -- I wake up with it in my head (for no good reason, I assure you). Yet, I like it. There are better songs in this collection, but I think I must be drawn to this because of the "hooray!" and because it acknowledges that love is not composed only of binary Moonlight or Misery options. The song is an examination of the variety of experience. A swingin' examination of the variety of experience. Sometimes good, sometimes bad, but ultimately... "just the same, hooray for love!"

double oh seven

| On
Tuesday, January 02, 2007
yes! yes!
Woo! Hello, 2007! Happy New Year, everyone!

I have good news already -- today was my last visit to the wound clinic, and I left with just a bandaid! Now that the bandages are so much smaller, I can see that there is still a bit of swelling and some discoloration -- but everything is healing very quickly. I'm confident that the swelling etc. will soon be back to normal. I am so fortunate to be otherwise healthy!

Now, on to the new year: This year I plan on a lot of hard work -- I can hardly wait! I know that sounds crazy but I since I plan on working toward things I want, I think it is eminently sensible. Plus, I am extremely well-rested if you discount the intermittent insomnia. Here are some of my new year goals, which are more general and Attitude Shifting, rather than a List of Things to Do. I still intend to Do Things (I have a long list!), but these are the things I feel will be more important to me in the long run.

Be More Generous: this is kind of a broad catch-all category that includes being patient, being present and generally trying to develop more generosity of spirit. (which includes being more creatively generous, generous with praise, generous with my time, and trying not to leap to every worst conclusion with such alacrity -- this last one is an especially bad habit I have when dealing with MYSELF.)

Be More Honest: Honesty is important to me, and I never deliberately lie to be hurtful or manipulate (although I'm no saint -- white lies happen and I don't feel remotely guilty about them), but I've found over the last year that I am not always honest with myself (often without realizing it). I've been trying to figure out some of my more opaque motivations, and ... it has been interesting. It's like being a detective facing off against the fiendish nemesis who is always one step ahead. I am my own Moriarty! Okay, possible schizophrenia aside, part of this honesty is admitting to myself that there are things that I want, and that it is okay to want them. (imagine list of the usual New Year's suspects here.)

Let Things Happen: In which I try to get the hell out of my own way.

Work Hard: This really speaks for itself, but I want to note that I consider writing, job-having (with insurance, thank you very much!), and prep for grad school to be my highest priorities. I have been doing so much better about making time for other (non-writing) creative pursuits and walking every day I'm going to assume (ha ha) that I'll continue with those.

Anyway, none of this feels like as dramatic a shift for me as last year's yes campaign, but I think that's a good thing. I think I'm on the right track, I just have to actually, you know, move forward. So, here's to 2007! May it be busy, fun, fulfilling and full of forward-motion. (and alliteration!)

song that has been driving me crazy with glee for the past two days:
The Memphis Train by Rufus Thomas. Something about the horns, the train noises, and the irrepressible "Wooooooo's!" makes me so very glad not only to be alive, but to have ears!

what I'm telling you

| On
Monday, January 01, 2007
what I'm telling you
I want to give a proper welcome to the new year, but first a look back on good old Twenty Oh Six. Oh Six, we had some good times! Even with the last-minute addition of Emergency Hospitalization, you weren't so bad. Sure, I spent a goodly portion of our time together certain I was losing my mind, but I take that to be a sign of growth (change makes me temporarily insane), rather than an actual diagnosis (since I am not, as has been repeatedly pointed out to me, actually qualified to make such a diagnosis). At first I thought you were my volcano year, Oh Six, but I realize now I got a little ahead of myself -- you were more a year of unusual seismic activity. Lots of roiling change, but all beneath the surface (except for the -20 lbs, thanks for that!) -- enough to make my interior geologists look nervously at twitchy instrument needles, but not enough to make them run for cover. I have a feeling they're going to run like hell this year, but we'll let Oh Seven deal with that.

Oh Six, old book business: I carried forward my 2005 goal of reading 50 books in the year, which sounds like a lot to some people and hardly any to others (my sister probably read more than 75). Once again I FAILED, (curse you internet, for providing so much non-book reading that I am addicted to!) but I got a lot closer than it would appear from my last book entry. Here's a list of other books read in 06, many of which I still hope to write up in the new year:

Radio On: A Listener's Diary by Sarah Vowell; The Disappointment Artist by Jonathan Lethem; The Boy Next Door by Meg Cabot; Queen of Babble by Meg Cabot; Fables 6: Homelands by Bill Willingham; Writing the Romantic Comedy by Billy Mernit; Little Black Book of Stories by A. S. Byatt; The Keep by Jennifer Egan; The Lives of the Muses by Francine Prose; A Mind of Its Own: How the Brain Distorts and Deceives by Cordelia Fine; The Believer Book of Writers Talking to Writers edited by Vendela Vida; Something Special by Iris Murdoch; Expletive Deleted: a Good Look at Bad Language by Ruth Wajnryb

I think I'll stop numbering reviews in 07, although I will continue doing them. I wanted to read more poetry, more non-fiction, more books that challenged me in some way, and I think I succeeded. I'd like to do more of the same in the new year.

For 2006, I set a few modest goals. The primary one was to Say Yes. This may sound Sesame Street simple, but to me it's a big deal. I spent a lot of time in the previous 4-5 years saying no -- so much so that I didn't even realize I was doing it anymore. My world got smaller and smaller and less and less fun, fulfilling or challenging without me noticing, until suddenly I did. This isn't something a person can change overnight, but I think I've achieved some positive results in 06: I made a major decision about returning to school (hello, library science!), I made some new friends, I tried to be more open to things. Yes is still on the agenda for the new year, but it has become a less conscious process for which I am grateful.

So all in all, Oh Six, I'm glad to have known you, but I'm eager to see what the new year brings.