Thursday, September 25, 2008
But okay, let's say you can do that. Let's say the campaignin' train makes special stops when requested. Why would you ever want to do that? I think McCain is ridiculous.
And since I'm talking about presidential candidates, I wish that Sarah Palin would quit dragging around her medically fragile infant so that she can show off what a great person she is for not aborting the kid with disabilities.
But then I remember that libraries are funded by tax dollars, and I am paying taxes. I figure, I work hard for the money I earn, and a lot of it gets taken away for taxes. That’s fine, and I support taxes, but a lot of taxes pay for things I would rather not pay for. Like the salaries of people I really dislike, such as John McCain and David Vitter. And when my tax money is paying for something I do like, even though it is not something I desperately need (like all the rest of Martin Millar’s out-of-print books), I should nevertheless take advantage of it.
So hurrah for interlibrary loan! My tax dollars at work! Now that I'm no longer in school, and I'm all with the job, I am no longer reaping the benefits of public-school tax money; nor am I in a state of poverty that requires financial support. Thus I must take joy where I can in the use of services paid for a little tiny teensy bit by me, like roads and sewers and interlibrary loans.
...Interlibrary loans are more joyful than the other two to contemplate, but I would rather have roads and sewers than interlibrary loans. Just wanted to clear that up.
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
When I was in England, I went to see Caroline, or Change at the National, and it’s all about this woman who lives in Lake Charles in the 1960s, and the family she works for has a little half-basement. And she sings “There ain’t no underground in Louisiana”. At intermission, all the British people were talking about how palpably untrue that was, because of course there was underground in Louisiana, otherwise where did they have their basements? And they chuckled.
Monday, September 22, 2008
In other news, I am tired of having everything ship from Memphis. Why Memphis? What’s so good about Memphis? Why does everybody have offices in Memphis? (By everybody I mean Amazon.com.) One of these days I’m going to live in Memphis, so when I check my packages for tracking, it will say, 6:08 AM, Left Memphis shipping office; 12:55 PM, Arrived at your house. I have two separate (alas! wouldn’t it have been cooler if I’d gotten all my books in one massive parcel?) parcels heading my way, and the big one is in Memphis. The little one is coming from Oregon, but still, out of fourteen books, only two are not coming from Memphis!
Also, after some arduous consideration, I have finally settled on my five desert island movies. I would take these five and accept no substitutes. Empire Records, Before Sunrise, Angels in America, King of Hearts, and the fifth season of Buffy. I choose the fifth even though it does not contain Angel, because the fifth does contain a lot of Anya and Tara, and I am very fond of Anya and Tara; moreover, the fifth is the season with Spike having dirty lusty love for Buffy, the Buffybot, a really excellent season finale, and (this is mean) Joyce’s death. I am glad when she is no longer around, and “The Body” is a really good episode.
I am pleased to have this settled. I have more or less chosen my desert island books – a recent change to the line-up substitutes The Ground Beneath Her Feet for The Color Purple, because although I don’t like The Ground Beneath Her Feet quite as much, it takes longer to read – but I have long struggled with the movies question.
Oh, yes, and also, today I found a website that explained how the internet works. I have long been struggling to understand how the internet works, and now I do, all because of Tim Berners-Lee. See, what happens is, there are all these computers that keep track of where web pages are stored. So I type in the address of a web page, like the library web address, for instance. Then my computer asks one of the clever computers for the number of the computer that hosts the web page for the library, right? When it gets that number, it asks the library computer to send me the library web page, and the library computer agrees to send it, and then, voila, I have it! (It comes in packets, a little bit at a time, until at last I have the whole thing, which is why a more complicated website takes longer – more packets to send!)
Lovely Tim Berners-Lee! I have always been so troubled that I use and use and use the internet without ever really understanding how the whole thing worked. I knew it was about sharing information, but I have never been clear on the process. Now I only don’t know how the clever computers manage to keep track of what websites are stored where; and also how it can be that one’s own computer knows who to ask for the number of the computer that has the webpage. And also how computers communicate in the first place.
You know what would be a good and improving project? If every time I went to the library, I got a children’s nonfiction book, in addition to my fun reading books. In this way I would learn a little bit of information about a bunch of different topics, and I would not get confused and feel stupid, and then I would have a broader network of knowledge in which to place new information about topics I have hitherto not understood (like the internet). Each time I go, I can get something from a different call number section.
Yes! Genius! I am in love with this idea! It is the best idea ever had by me in all the history of time! I will become a well-informed person only by reading children’s books! I will start with the 000s, which conveniently are computers, and after that I will go to the 100s, which are religion and philosophy, and I will work my way up. I will either go through each century exhaustively, or else alternate on successive library visits.
Soon I will know dozens and dozens of new and interesting facts. Updates as warranted.
Thursday, September 18, 2008
Graphic novels: I thought of getting Death: The High Cost of Living but did not on account of Anna having left her copy at home when she moved away (plus I am holding out for The Compleat Death which I just discovered existed); and I wanted to get Blankets by Craig Thompson but could not remember if it was as good as all that and furthermore it was $20, far too large a chunk of my $100 for a book I couldn’t even remember that well. I do remember it being quite, quite good though. And I wanted to get it because I am trying to read more books by men so that I won't be a sexist reader. Because this one time I fussed at my friend Chris for only reading books by men, and then I remembered that virtually all my favorite books (Fire and Hemlock, The Color Purple, I Capture the Castle, The Time Traveler's Wife, To Kill a Mockingbird, Greensleeves, Jane Eyre) are by women. And this would be a guy author and a graphic novel and a grown-up book, so it would fulfill three affirmative action type quotas. But it was $20. None of the other books I got cost that much. I'd have had to sacrifice two big or three little books in order to get Blankets.
Bookshelf limitations: My bookshelf is quite large, but it has quite small shelves, tall enough for mass market paperbacks but not trade paperbacks. I have to stack trade paperbacks and hardbacks sideways on my bookshelf. This was a problem during the book-ordering process. I wanted to get Fire from Heaven but could not because my copies of The Charioteer and The Persian Boy are both mass market paperback, and Fire from Heaven was only available in trade paperback, and then they wouldn’t have matched so I would have had to shelve them separately.
Strategy: I didn’t get any still-in-print kids’ books (apart from Hilary McKay, who is unreliably available in America), any recent bestsellers, or any classics, because I think those are more likely to be discoverable at garage sales and library and university book sales. Hence I did not purchase The View from Saturday or Jennifer, Hecate, William McKinley, and Me, Elizabeth; I did not purchase Special Topics in Calamity Physics; and I did not – although I greatly wanted to – purchase Aurora Leigh or anything by G.K. Chesterton.
St. Ignatius and his theories about consolation and desolation: I almost didn’t get the three Martin Millar books. I thought, Oh, Jenny, hold off on those, you haven’t read them enough to be sure that you will always like them, and you haven’t read Suzy, Led Zeppelin, and Me at all. But when I thought of not getting the three Martin Millar books, I was filled with a soul-deep sadness, and I ended up getting them after all, because it was clear to me from this sadness that God wanted me to get them.
That’s right. My life is all about strategy. And yes, okay, I will acknowledge that my life is a little bit about serious control issues, and sometimes I should just chill out and get the books I want when I want them – but I HAVE A SYSTEM.
Here was the final tally:
Permanent Rose (all by Hilary McKay; because I haven't got them)
Keturah and Lord Death
Tom Finder (all by Martine Leavitt, my new this-year discovery)
The Blue Castle, L.M. Montgomery (because my old copy got all coffee-y)
Sunshine, Robin McKinley (I haven't got this either, and almost didn't get it because the other Robin McKinley book I own, Beauty, is in the not-grownups book section of my books, and buying Sunshine will necessitate a transfer of both to the grown-up section. But then I remembered that I also want to buy Deerskin so I would have had to have Robin McKinley books in the grown-up section of my bookshelf anyway. So I went ahead and got it.)
Getting the Girl, Markus Zusak (it is a sequel but the first one isn't in print here)
The Good Fairies of New York
Lonely Werewolf Girl
Suzy, Led Zeppelin, and Me (all by Martin Millar, my other new this-year discovery - or maybe last year? I can't remember when I read The Good Fairies of New York)
I also got two other books I can't mention here because I am getting copies of them for Anna for Christmas. Don't tell. I am most of all excited about the books by authors whose first names begin with M, three of which are new books to me. I am so excited about Suzy, Led Zeppelin, and Me that I lost patience waiting and went to Amazon and read the excerpt they offered me, and it was charming and made me feel even more impatient. I wanted to run searches on Amazon Reader for random words that would allow me to read large chunks of the book, but I forbear because I want to delay gratification. Here's the bit I read:
We go into a comic shop on Oxford Street and look at some comics and then Manx finds a large display of dolls from Buffy the Vampire Slayer. There are figures of Buffy, Willow, Xander, Angel, Spike, and some others. We are entranced...
"I'd like to buy all these Buffy dolls and play with them. I'll have time on my hands soon, I've almost finished the Led Zeppelin book. I'm at the 'nice and big' stage."
"What's the 'nice and big' stage?"
"I go through the text making sure I haven't used any long words. If I find any fancy adjectives have crept in I replace them with small words like 'nice' and 'big'. I've liked these words ever since I was told not to use them in English class at school. And I make sure that the sentences are short so as people won't get confused and I shorten all the chapters so they won't get bored. I can't read anything complicated these days, my attention span is too short. Everyone else probably feels the same."
I love Martin Millar. I really do. I am only sad that Neil Gaiman didn't tell me about Martin Millar long ago. And I am glad that I had desolation in response to the notion of not getting his books, so that now instead of having no books by Martin Millar, which was not representative of my ever-growing fondness for his books, I will have three.
Edit to add: Shit. I've only just remembered that Good Fairies is mass market (because if I got it in mass market paperback I got Saffy's Angel for free), and the other two trade, paperback. And now it's too late to change. However, I have rationalized this into being okay because I have put some of my Neil Gaiman books (the hardbacks and graphic novels) on the top shelf of my bookshelf, and I have put the paperbacks on another shelf. And I will just do the same with Martin Millar, and Good Fairies can be sensibly shelved with Neil Gaiman as it has an introduction by him. Hurrah. Serious shelving crisis averted.
Wednesday, September 17, 2008
But here are the aforementioned roadblocks:
1. I haven’t got frames for my pictures of Richard III and Anne Boleyn. I wanted to put Richard III on the wall between the window and the bookshelf, and Anne Boleyn in the large empty space between my desk and the bookshelf-type thing on which I have put my stuffed animals and surplus school supplies (which, hey, I’ll never need now. Liberty is liberating! Hooray!). But my frame for Richard III broke, and I never had one for Anne Boleyn. So those are both on hold.
2. I haven’t got a frame for the 10x4 picture of the pilgrim salt and pepper shakers plotting evil against the green alien tied to one of Nate’s cups. I desperately want a frame for that. I am in love with that picture. It represents my mother’s side of the family so perfectly. I would put it underneath my other framed pictures, and it would complete the look, I feel.
3. I have no good pictures of Raksha or tim. I am very very fond of Raksha and tim and would like to have pictures of them above my desk, but I just haven’t got any good ones.
4. The above turns out to be a moot point because my printer has no ink. I bought photo paper to print out the photographs I wanted of all the people I like, but it turns out that my printer is just about out of color ink. So I have a big bunch of empty picture frames above my desk. It’s sort of weird and unsettling actually, and I don’t feel one bit comfortable sitting down at my desk. I was going to work on my story yesterday, but the empty picture frames were too creepy, so I went downstairs and made stuffed potatoes and watched House instead. (Which was kinda depressing. But Penny’s guest-starring next week! (I think – I didn’t get a good look at her.) Penny! Thank you, Hammer Man, I don’t think I can explain how important it was that you stopped the van—)
Monday, September 15, 2008
I still hate Wallace Stevens.
I'm not just saying it because I have a category and I don't want to waste it. I'm saying it because sometimes when I look at all my category labels, I see the I Hate Wallace Stevens one, and it reminds me of the deep loathing I continue to have for Wallace Stevens. I'm glad Ernest Hemingway kicked shit out of him and sent him to the hospital. I hate Ernest Hemingway too.
But I love Sean Bean. Sean Bean! How fond of him I am! I wish he were in more things! I started watching Fellowship of the Ring again just because I felt so awfully, awfully fond of Sean Bean. I forgot how sexy Viggo Mortensen is when he's being Aragorn. I like him because the guy who taught him sword-fighting for this movie is the same guy who's been teaching sword-fighting to every movie sword-fighter ever, all the way back to Errol Flynn, and that guy says that Viggo Mortensen is the best student of sword-fighting he's ever had. You know what that means? It means that Viggo Mortensen can kick everybody else's ass who has ever had a sword-fight in any movie you've ever seen, ever. Including Inigo Montoya.
So put that in your pipe and smoke it.
(Why don't people say that more? I am going to start saying it frequently in an effort to encourage the rest of the world to follow my sterling example.)
Today I walked to Wal-Mart to do my shopping, all part of my general plan to walk places when they are within walking distance, and it was a tiresome walk, let me tell you. The recent hurricane has caused a great deal of debris to build up on the sides of the roads, and every time I would reach a massive pile of debris in my path, obscuring the sidewalk or stretch of lawn I was walking on, I would have to stop and wait for the oncoming traffic to let up enough that I could go around (on the street). And it was rush hour. So tricky.
Well, on the way back, laden with heavy groceries, I thought I'd be all crafty and take one of the side streets, and it would go around through a nice neighborhood and eventually lead back to the main road, and then I'd have avoided all the debris areas until I got back to the portion of the road that had sidewalks. I didn't know the neighborhood at all, but I thought, Well, hey, all roads lead to Rome, right?
And I walked, and I walked - it was a nice neighborhood - and I walked and I walked, and a busload of interested young children went past me and pointed at me (I waved at them cheerfully because I was cleverly avoiding debris and getting groceries and saving the environment). After a while, I had still found no road leading back to the main road, and I was beginning to suspect there never would be one. So I turned around and started heading back, all the long way back to where I had originally come into the neighborhood. It was very, very long. The bus full of children passed me up again. They were still all pointing and interested but I was like MOVE ALONG YA LITTLE FUCKERS, THERE IS NOTHING TO SEE HERE.
Of course when I got back to the main road and looked back in dismay at the neighborhood that had totally failed to help me, that was when I noticed the NO OUTLET sign. Damn neighborhood. No outlet indeed. I was about ready to get a bulldozer and MAKE a damn outlet. Shit.
And seriously. How else would you spell it?
But it turned out she spelled it MaryEllen, with no space, and by the time she had explained this to me, I felt too embarrassed to admit that I had not, in fact, spelled her name right, and I didn't want to say that that was an insane spelling, so I just didn't say anything. Oh my God, how it has haunted me since then. Every time I thought about MaryEllen - which, okay, wasn't all that often - I was just eaten up with dismay and I have always desperately wanted to explain to someone that OF COURSE I didn't spell her insane name right the first time, HOW COULD I WHEN IT IS AN INSANE SPELLING OF A NAME THAT IS TWO NAMES?
I thought of this today because I was covering my books with contact paper, a habit I picked up in sixth grade, and it reminded me of middle school, and then of MaryEllen. Recently (within the last month or two), Bonnie mentioned MaryEllen and said "Remember in Latin class? How you spelled her name right? And then you were all How else would you spell it? GOD you were such a prissy little bitch."
I have never been so grateful for being called a prissy little bitch. I was all NO YOU HAVE MISUNDERSTOOD THAT WHOLE INTERACTION. LET ME EXPLAIN WHAT REALLY HAPPENED.
...Justification was mine on that day. I thought of that today. I am now no longer eaten alive with dismay and guilt, but I have vague guilt feelings left over, and part of me wants to call MaryEllen, wherever she is, and explain that no, I didn't spell her name right in Dr. F.'s class on that day, because nobody could spell her name right after only hearing her say it, and the reason that we didn't stay friends in high school (apart from having nothing in common) was essentially that our relationship was based from the beginning on a rotting foundation of lies and deception.
Sunday, September 14, 2008
Having attended this game, I've begun to feel that Joss Whedon really missed an excellent opportunity to have Anya go to a sporting event. I think it would have been very, very funny to have Anya go to a sporting event. J.K. Rowling didn't miss the point of having weird people at sporting events, which is why it is so very excellent when Luna commentates for Quidditch.
Wednesday, September 10, 2008
Tuesday, September 9, 2008
I think my subconscious is having some issues about sorting out fictional universes. Also, I think the lady Dark Lord might have been Sarah Palin – I didn’t get close enough to see her well, but she looked like Tina Fey, and I know that Tina Fey represents Sarah Palin to my brain (because my aunt said that Tina Fey would spoof Sarah Palin really well).
Then after that, I dreamed that God was knocking very hard on my door and I was so, so sleepy, but I finally managed to drag myself out of bed to go answer it, and I was running quickly downstairs all grumbly and rehearsing under my breath how I was going to yank open the door and say, “Okay then, GOD. You have woken me UP. WHAT was so damn IMPORTANT it couldn’t WAIT until the MORNING?” But I woke up before I answered the door. (Which is too bad, because the last time I dreamed I met God, we were total BFF.)
Thanks, subconscious. Despite the incredible subtlety of this message, I have managed at last to decipher your meaning. I still don’t know what you were talking about with Amber Benson and the Keebler dwarves.
Monday, September 8, 2008
Which is consolations. Which means I did the exactly right thing.
Yeah, so today, I dropped out of school. I dropped out. Of school. I’m a drop-out now. An unemployed, uninsured dropout, that’s me. Part of my brain is screaming WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH YOU LUNATIC GIRL YOU WILL NOW DIE OF SOME UNSPECIFIED DISEASE AND BECOME A BURDEN ON THE TAXPAYERS, because this is so not me. I’m good at school; school is my thing. I get straight As and research things thoroughly and use library resources. I’m the girl who does things because they make practical sense.
That, I think, is the reason I quit school. At least, those were the terms in which I framed my internal debate in order to make dropping out into a less insane decision. I thought this thought: I’ve spent my entire life choosing to do the sensible, practical thing, rather than the thing that I think will make me the most happy (which isn’t to say I don’t do things that make me happy, because I do of course). And that’s worked out fine – I saved money, I went to England, I got good jobs that developed useful skills – so that’s what I’ve always done. But now the system is breaking down, because I have spent the few weeks of this semester consumed with dread and unhappiness, so I decided to do a new thing. I decided to do something that was not practical, just because it’s what I want, and see where that goes.
Though this is all rationalization after the fact. The real truth is that listening to music when you are trying to settle your mind can be a terrible, terrible idea (Mumsy, look. Here is an example of what I mean about taking music as omens). When you are trying to settle your mind about something, you are all too apt to hear a song and think THAT SONG IS SPEAKING TO MY SOUL when actually it’s – you know – it’s just a song. Not signs and portents. Just a regular old song. It’s dangerous because any song could come on! The song that says “You have to be able to get a job with earning potential and it is insane to abandon your health insurance without any prospect of health insurance from elsewhere” could come on, or – and this is what actually happened – the song could come on that says “trust your instincts, close your eyes, and leap”. I was in the car on the way to work, listening to my mp3 player, and Idina Menzel sang most stirringly about the trusting and the closing and the leaping, and I was like YES. THIS IS MY PATH.
Of course, Idina Menzel’s character in Wicked ended up having to fake her own death in order to escape from the oppressive regime of misery. But whatever. SHE IS SPEAKING TO MY SOUL.
Friday, September 5, 2008
It was very trying not to have any power. My sustaining-myself-through-the-hurricane book, which is very long and I haven't finished it yet, is shaping up to be a much more raving success than, actually, I had anticipated, and there are a bunch of articles about it on The Internet. Only six with linked full text on MLA, but whatever, I can find more, I haven't even looked at JSTOR and Project Muse yet! But anyway, while the power was out, I really wanted to read such articles AND I COULD NOT.
...I will never be cool. I read scholarly articles on purpose for fun.
I did discover that Salman Rushdie, alas, doesn't like Paul Scott. He dislikes him so much he used the phrase "big brown cocks" in his critique - I swear to God, he did. But I hope Salman Rushdie is oversimplifying, because I am really enjoying the way Paul Scott writes, all loopy and swirly, and I don't want to have to hate him for being a racist and a paternalist and using a lame and overdone thing to evoke the Indians-are-scary vibe. We'll see.
Edit to add: I finished my book. I still think Salman Rushdie was oversimplifying, and I still like the loopy swirly way that Paul Scott writes, and we will see what happens with the second book, which has "scorpion" in the title (not as nice!). But I can see Salman Rushdie's point - in the end it was more classist than racist though, I'm sorry to report, classism with racism all mixed in. Not flagrantly, and I know I'm always very, very displeased when somebody gets raped in a book, so I may have been cranky, but I think there was a definite undertone of, you know, educated Indians are Good Indians and peasant Indians are Bad Indians. Not very nice. I wish I hadn't liked it so much up until rubbish Daphne's rubbish letter to her rubbish aunt, because I feel rather let-down now. I want to write Paul Scott a letter and ask him why he wasn't free of prejudice so that I could love him with an uncomplicated love like I do Atticus Finch.