Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Oh my God, FINALLY

I cannot believe this has finally happened. When I noticed, I actually didn't believe it, and I spent several minutes running up and down the stairs of my apartment to verify that this had indeed happened.

See, because a lot of times a stairwell in a house or apartment will be lit. You'll have one light, often at the top of the stairs, but there will be a light switch at the bottom and a light switch at the top so that you can have the light when going up or down and then switch it right off when you reach your destination. But the light switches are always set up in such a way that you can never have both light switches off and have the light off. You could have both light switches on and the light on, but never both off and the light off.

This has been bugging me for years. I mean years. I never see this set-up without being deeply annoyed by it. Because the light switches and the light can match, right? But they can only match while the light is in play. During its rest time, i.e., the way it is most of the time, one of the light switches is out of sync with the status of the light. It. Drives. Me. Crazy.

But today, I had to run downstairs to get a film, and I switched the staircase light on at the top of the stairs - I switched the switch on (up). I got to the bottom of the stairs and turned the switch to the up position which turned off the staircase light (at this point both switches were at up and the light was off). I fetched my movie and went back to the staircase and switched the downstairs switch to the down position, which turned on the staircase light, and I had made it halfway up the stairs before the full significance of this dawned on me.

I had just set the downstairs switch to the off position. When I came downstairs first, I had turned the upstairs switch to the on position. This meant that when I got upstairs and turned the upstairs switch to the off position, BOTH SWITCHES WOULD BE AT OFF AND THE LIGHTS WOULD BE OFF.



I was so happy. I felt like The Gods were sending me a sign that this apartment is indeed the right apartment from me (as if I didn't know). I felt this so strongly that I would have built a fire and offered up an animal sacrifice right there if I hadn't gotten distracted by the monster of uncertainty and had to run downstairs and upstairs and downstairs and upstairs to check that I wasn't imagining it.

What bothers me is that I view lights (and light switches) as being in play or out of play. If a light's on, it's in play, it's like doing battle, it's not rest time for the light, you know? And if a switch is flipped to the ON position, it's in play. Not resting. Stressed and unhappy. In most houses, the staircase switches never get a rest. One of them is constantly in play unless the light is on. In my house, there is peace at the switches when there is peace at the light. It's holistic staircase rest, peace, and happiness.

This is such a crazy post I almost didn't post it. But I have to. Because you just have no idea how long this has been an issue for me, and I always wondered why the light switch people did it that way, when the other way (my apartment's way) was clearly better and more unified.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Life is weird

A few years ago, I sneered at Anna for purchasing seven seasons of Buffy the Vampire Slayer because even though they were only $20 altogether, I didn’t feel it was a necessary investment when she could have spent that $20 on something more exciting like, I don’t know, a whole bunch of dental floss.

The other day I found myself gravely talking to Robyn about how we didn’t think Buffy ever recovered emotionally from Angel’s departure, and how we really felt that her subsequent romantic dysfunction could be attributed to an unwillingness to let go of her relationship with him.

You know what totally fascinates me?

When I have Band-Aids on my fingers and I wash my hands and then there’s water under the Band-Aid and I press down on it and water squeezes out through the pores in the Band-Aid. There’s no reason this should fascinate me but it really, really, really does.

Oh, and on a totally unrelated note, I learned today that in 2005/2006, there were 608 black male students in Wyoming high schools. Six hundred and eight. Total. That’s all there were. In Louisiana that same year, there were a hundred and forty seven thousand. We have 242 times as many black male students as Wyoming has. Think about that.

Oh, oh, and you know what else, too? Apparently my university is considering establishing a farmers’ market on campus. I am all about that. I would go to the farmers’ market! I would be on it like white on fresh homegrown organic rice. I would fling myself at a farmers’ market and marry it and have its babies. I could cook with real vegetables then! And I would be motivated to buy vegetables, too, because it is virtuous to shop at farmers’ markets and there would be fruit and fresh vegetables right there, and I could like buy strawberries on the way to class. Strawberries! And raspberries, and oh, if God loves me, maybe also those delicious teacakes I used to get at the downtown farmer’s market that were so incredibly delicious.

Saturday, August 23, 2008


You know what they call the school of library science? SLIS. Sliss. Say it. Hiss on the S sounds.

Doesn't it sound dirty? Like, quite, quite dirty?

Want to know what it sounds like to me, exactly? It sounds like a sex organ. An alien sex organ, the kind humans don't have. It sounds to me like some writer of dirty science fiction who made up a really sexy humanoid alien. So there's this alien, and she's all sexy and she's putting the moves on the innocent human guy who's just come to colonize the new planet, and you know, she's a sexy alien, he's helpless in the face of her seductive wiles, so they're all making out and whatever and he's like HOLY SHIT WHAT IS THAT? and she's like, Mm, baby, that's my sliss

I had to stop right there because I was laughing so hard I started to cry and my eyes filled up with tears.

It just happened again. Every time I think about the word sliss I start laughing.

Sorry. Sliss. It just sounds funny. Anyway she's all Mm, baby, that's my sliss, yeah, that's it and they really go to town with the sliss. It sounds to me like the kind of sex organ that would distend. Thoughts? What does the sliss do? Distend, engorge, harden, lubricate?

(Edit to add: Quiver?)

This is no good. I have to stop. Sliss, sliss, sliss. (Hi, tim - are you busy thinking Jenny's such an idiot, I'm not going to finish reading this.) But I can't stop! You know why I can't stop? I can't stop because THIS IS MY SCHOOL and I am in it for TWO YEARS and every time somebody says SLIS (sliss!), I'm going to start laughing until I cry because it sounds so very, very dirty!

Incidentally, this was our orientation day today, and everyone kept saying SLIS, all day long, and at one point I leaned over to the girl next to me and I said, "Heehee, sliss. Sounds dirty, doesn't it?" She laughed nervously, and then a while later she went to the bathroom, and when she came back from the bathroom? She sat somewhere else. Not next to me, the dirty-minded girl with nothing but sliss on the brain.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Lally la, I am not cross at Martin Millar anymore

Because how can I be? He wrote Lonely Werewolf Girl out of sadness that Buffy was off the air. I so feel that. When I finish things that I love (Empire Records, good TV shows, Jane Eyre), I very frequently go off and write things myself – witness the way I am incredibly close to finishing a draft of my gardens story. So even though Martin Millar likes Amy the Rat, and I very greatly do not like Amy the Rat, I am not cross at him one bit for having an unusual spelling of his last name and making it difficult for me to acquire his books at the library.

And furthermore! One of his books! Is going back into print! So that I can purchase and read it! Hurrah, hurrah, hurrah! I enjoy to read new books!

Seriously, this is the year for good authors to write new books. It is all Salman Rushdie and Lynn Flewelling and Neil Gaiman and Martin Millar and Diana Wynne Jones and Elizabeth Peters and Robin McKinley this year. 2008, an excellent year for me and books. Not to mention that I have my very own bookshelf now, a massive tremendous bookshelf that reaches almost to the ceiling and contains virtually all my books except the really big ones like the dictionary and the Bartlett’s and the Complete Letters of Oscar Wilde and Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell and so forth. The fact that it only takes one (albeit one very large) bookshelf to house all of my books makes me feel sad and empty. At home, we have something like sixteen bookshelves, bookshelves in every room except the bathrooms, and those bookshelves do not even come close to holding all our books. We stack them double. Whenever I look at my apartment bookshelf, I am simultaneously thrilled at the sight of all my books in one place, and dismayed that there are so few, and filled with a lust to purchase more, and more, and ever more!

And I really mustn’t. Even though I have that Amazon gift card. It is not sensible to purchase dozens of books from Amazon. Much more sensible to use that gift card to purchase textbooks. Sensible textbooks. Be sensible, Jenny. I don’t need Holes. I don’t need Lolita and The Doll-Mage and Keturah and Lord Death and Special Topics in Calamity Physics and The Yellow Wallpaper and my own copy of the Browning love letters and all the Casson books and a hardback copy of Fire and Hemlock and more copies of Greensleeves

Yes. I don’t need any of these things. Not a bit.

I do, however, need Suzy, Led Zeppelin, and Me, partly because its title reminds me of a book by E.L. Konigsburg (oo, if I ever allow myself to carry out the book-buying orgy I yearn for, I will certainly have to acquire some things from the Konigsburg oeuvre – a nicer copy of the aforementioned (afore-referenced) Jennifer, Hecate, Macbeth, William McKinley, and Me, Elizabeth, From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, The View from Saturday), and partly because I like Martin Millar’s delightful books yet own none of them. I am living in deprivation until this state of affairs can be rectified.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Defending my turf

I can't say enough unpleasant things about Stephenie Meyer's Twilight books. Damn books are damn stupid, with the bad writing and the trashiness and the dysfunction presented as True Love. But today I was reading reviews of Lonely Werewolf Girl (sometimes when I'm bored I read reviews of books I've read already so that I can make fun of/wholeheartedly agree with the reviewers), and the reviewer also mentioned Twilight and how vampires are all sexy and werewolves get sneered at while the vampires are sexy Edward-Rochester characters.

I had to read that twice because my brain was busy exploding.

Edward Cullen. Cullen. Not Rochester. Edward Rochester is half of my all-time favorite literary couple, the literary crush that realistically I wouldn't marry even if I could because I couldn't ever imagine him with anyone other than Jane Eyre. Edward Cullen is creepy stalker vampire guy.

So I did some Googling, and it turns out that Stephenie Meyer imagined Edward as a conglomeration of Mr. Rochester, Mr. Darcy, and Gilbert. Anne's Gilbert. Blythe. (Pfft, Gilbert. Barney Snaithe is better; Stephenie Meyer has no taste. If she'd included Dean Priest, that would have been more like it.) And, okay, I'm not a huge fan of two of these three guys, but when I read that Mr. Rochester business, and how she named Edward after Mr. Rochester, I got really territorial and wanted to write her a letter that said BACK OFF STEPHENIE MEYER. WE CANNOT SHARE ANY OPINIONS AND YOU DO NOT EVEN UNDERSTAND WHAT IS SO GOOD ABOUT MR. ROCHESTER.

Instead of that I decided to complain to the internet.

Based Edward Cullen on Mr. Rochester indeed. I can think of some salient differences - one of them being that when Mr. Rochester tries to bully and manipulate Jane into doing what he wants, SHE GETS PISSED AND LEAVES. And then you know what happens, when she has done the appropriate boundary-setting? He is very, very sorry and displeased with himself because he knows he was wrong, and then they get married and live happily ever after. OF COURSE. Because that is what happens when you set appropriate boundaries. You live a happy and fulfilled life. Clever Jane. Clever Mr. Rochester. Clever, clever Charlotte Bronte.

Mr. Rochester is better in every way than Edward Cullen, not just because he learns from his mistakes. He moreover has an excellent sense of humor and has many jokes with Jane, and he is also interested in her opinions, though I guess in fairness Edward Cullen couldn't really be interested in Bella's opinions WHEN SHE HAS NONE. Oh, and also? Also, he shows his betterness by falling in love with a better girl. See how that works? Reflects well on him?

This post seems a little mean to Stephenie Meyer and her protagonist, but I wouldn't be so cross with her if she wouldn't write incredibly popular books that send really awful messages about relationships to thousands of impressionable teenage readers. So.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008


...hypothesis of brood parasitism.

Or, I learned the most fascinating thing ever today.

Well, we all know that cuckoos are wicked and unpleasant birds with the wicked and unpleasant habit of laying their own eggs in other birds’ nests, so that the other birds hatch the eggs for them. And then the baby cuckoos hatch sooner and grow faster, and they kick the mama bird’s real babies right out of the nest. This is nice for the parasite cuckoo mama, who doesn’t have to do any work, and nice for the parasite cuckoo babies, who get to throw other baby birds out of the nest, but not so nice for the host mama, whose reproductive success is diminished, or for the host babies, who end up dead and splatty at the bottom of the tree while their mamas give free worms to their murderers.

Or possibly the host babies fall out of the nest, don’t die on impact, and, lacking the tenacity of the Are You My Mother? bird (You are not my mother! You are a Snort!), die anyway because of no mama to feed them. Poor little birds.

Well, I’ve known about this for a while. But today I learned one of the theories for why the host mamas put up with this crap instead of evolving out of it (because it really, really doesn’t benefit them reproductively), and it is so fascinating. It’s called THE MAFIA HYPOTHESIS. Basically, the notion is that host mamas who try to get rid of parasite (cuckoo) eggs that show up in their nests get targeted by the cuckoos. The cuckoos come to check on their eggs, and if the host mama has ejected the parasite cuckoo eggs from her nest, the cuckoo up and dumps out all of the host mama’s eggs. So that instead of having fewer of her own babies as a result of cuckoo activities, the host mama ends up with no babies. Some studies have shown that host mamas who eject parasite eggs have a massively higher likelihood of ending up having their nests plundered AND IT IS THE CUCKOO WHO PLUNDERS THEM.


I have three equally strong reactions to this. One, this is fascinating and I wonder if Neil Gaiman knows about this, he with the love for writing about cuckoos. Two, cuckoos are fucking terrifying. And three, I sort of wish my sisters and I had known about this when we were little and we used to play the game where I was the mama bird and Robyn and Erin Molly were my little baby birds, and Anna would only play if she could be the cat. But I bet she would have played if she could have been The Recurring Evil Cuckoo Character. It would have been great. There could have been epic battles, man.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

I cut my hair.

I'm still a little shaky but I think it looks pretty. Incredibly short but pretty.

P.S. I mean, I didn't cut it. I had it cut. Of course.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Grand new vistas of organizational possibilities

I can’t adjust my brain to the idea of having all my books all to myself. It isn’t that I don’t already – nearly all of my books are in my bedroom at home – and it isn’t that I mind my family borrowing my books. So I can’t explain what’s so exciting about this, but every time I look at my new apartment bedroom, and I envision the bookshelves that will contain all my books, I have to lie down on the floor and breathe slowly, because it’s such a thrilling prospect.

One possible explanation is that I’ve never really had the chance to redo and reorganize all my books. All of them. My mum has given me a big bookshelf on the condition that I go all through the house and remove my books from the family bookshelves, too, so every book that is mine will be coming with me. Which means that for the first time ever I’m going to have all of my books entirely at my own disposal, with bookshelves that belong to only me, in a house where only I will ever read the books, so I can organize them in whatever way I want.

Like, okay, okay, okay. Fiction? Fiction will go here. And nonfiction? That will go in a COMPLETELY DIFFERENT PLACE.

…See why I’m so excited?

My brain is plotting this with fiendish delight. Plus I’m making lists of books I want. For the past several years, I’ve tried to exercise book-buying restraint, so I only get books that I really extra super much want. On account of how my house foundations are sagging. So now I can organize all my books in whatever order I want – little Jenny’s fiction, grown-up Jenny’s fiction, non-fiction (pomes, plays, letters, Oscar Wilde!!, and other such things) – and then when I have assessed how much bookshelf space I require, and how many more books I can accommodate, then I can choose what else to buy.

I CAN ALPHABETIZE. I can place things in categories. I can have a room that is dominated, darling, dominated by bookshelves, so when people (meaning me) come in, they will think MY GOD WHAT A LOT OF BOOKS. I will enter my room and be pleased by the number and vastness of my many bookshelves (two at the moment, but I’m hoping to purchase and/or build some more). I need one that will go under my television, definitely, and maybe one to go underneath my bed. Currently I will only have my chest of drawers and my turning bookshelf underneath my bed – and that just doesn’t seem like an efficient use of space.

Yay. Yay. Yay. Yay.

Friday, August 1, 2008

The running high of emotions

We finished watching Buffy today. We have now seen all the episodes that there are. There are no more new episodes for us to see, ever.

Robyn and I had different reactions to this. I cried eleven tears and fetched my laptop to go write my story, as I do when things end that I didn't want to end. She cried some tears also (I didn't count because I don't care about her) and then went into her room claiming she wanted a nap, and I went in later to fetch my laptop to write my story, and discovered that she was trying to smother herself with her pillow. But don't worry, I was in time to stop it.

We were very sad that Anya died. We thought it was more misfortune than poor eye-losing Xander deserved. We've been really loving Xander in the past two seasons - he's grown up a lot since the old days when he was all jealous of Angel. Plus, you know, he's the only one who's managed to make it through seven seasons of apocalypse without stopping being sweet. Like, Buffy's not a bit sweet anymore, and we never felt the same about Willow after she turned evil and started going out with Kennedy, but Xander's still a dear. In fact he's become more of a dear. Not less. He's had positive growth.

I'm sad no more Buffy. We've been watching Buffy since February, and we have great love for it. We think it deals honestly with relationships which is, actually, kind of rare in our experience. All these TV shows and - GOD - Twilight, which is disturbing and kinda antifeminist - no, wait, don't let me get off on that tangent - anyway, all these things where people continue to have insanely dysfunctional relationships because, I guess, it keeps TV interesting, and nobody ever says, Holy shit, you're insanely dysfunctional and have serious issues and/or mental disorders and then talks about the emotional issues and tries to figure out where to go with them.

On another note, my big sister, the warrior goddess, is leaving tomorrow, to go and do Life. Robyn and I have entertained the notion that some of our tears are Anna-related, not Buffy-related. Anna's swell. I'm happy about her Life but I'm going to miss her.