Friday, October 16, 2009

The cold sting of resentment; or, I have a pencil that’s no good to me

Today, I went to the insurance place for work; and on my way out, they gave me a free pencil. I like a free pencil. With a nice, new, sharpened pencil there are several things I can do that I like to do:

a. Part my hair
b. Color in the sections of the cross-stitch pattern that I’ve already finished stitching
c. Write down appointments in my appointment book that I intend to cancel later
d. Jab holes in the covers of paperback books – oh, wait, I’m not Anna at nine.

Unfortunately I can’t do any of these things because MY FAMILY BROKE MY PENCIL SHARPENER.

Yes, I said my pencil sharpener. That really excellent electronic pencil sharpener that we had in the kitchen for years and years, next to the basket with the Q-tips, that pencil sharpener that eventually broke because too many people were using it? That was mine. I got it for Christmas one year and I loved it.

When the pencil sharpener broke, everyone was like, Oh no! Now the family doesn’t have a pencil sharpener! This is terrible! and I tried to explain that this was a personal tragedy for me because it was my personal pencil sharpener, and nobody listened to me. Everyone just kept saying how sad it was that the family pencil sharpener was broken. Which was really mine all along. Just like that stapler of Robyn’s that she finally reclaimed (I think she did anyway) after over a decade of everyone pretending it was a family stapler.

My family is a stealer. And a murderer. I bet that pencil sharpener would still be alive and kicking today if I had not out of the GOODNESS AND GENEROSITY OF MY HEART consented to allow the family to use it, rather than keeping it all to myself.

P.S. This week my mom got me a flu shot and gave me cookies as a prize for allowing her to buy me a flu shot. So I guess, on balance, I am not still mad about my pencil sharpener. It’s just, I could really use it right now. Am I supposed to part my hair with a comb?

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Oh heaven

I am capitalizing on my sisters' absence to go crazy with incense. I have always wanted incense, but I never burned any, because I don't know, I lived with my parents, and no incense there, and then I lived at the dorms, and no incense there, and then I had an apartment with carpets, and I had this vision of ashes falling on the carpet and IGNITING EVERYTHING...

Anyway, I now have an apartment with hardwood floors, and my sisters with asthma aren't going to come visit any time soon, and I have taken this opportunity to buy incense. I tried sandalwood incense first, and that was a little too much sandalwood. I like sandalwood but it is like vampires - too much can make you gag and swear it off forever. And I didn't want to swear off sandalwood forever, or even for-temporary-ever, like I have vampires, because in fact, sandalwood smells lovely.

I went to Whole Foods to get chocolate cream pie (mmmmmmmm) and coffee (they suggest using the ENTIRE CANISTER within seven days of opening it, which I think means they're insane), and I popped by the incense aisle just to see. I figured, if they didn't have something else thrilling, I could just get more sandalwood and learn to be okay with lots of sandalwood.

So these are the kinds I investigated:

1. Jasmine. I like the way jasmine smells, but I have jasmine perfume. I don't want to be like - the jasmine girl. With jasmine-scented sheets and jasmine shampoo and jasmine perfume and jasmine incense.
2. Sandalwood and musk. It was the only other one of the brand I bought before with sandalwood in (besides sandalwood), so I thought maybe? But no. Way awful. Cannot have my apartment smelling like this.
3. Myrrh. The Wise Men were assholes.
4. Frankincense. Seriously, the Wise Men were assholes. I bet they would have sold the baby out to Herod totally if the Gold guy hadn't been like, "Look, guys, I know you want to make the baby suffer, but I feel like your gifts are enough to manage that handily."
5. Cinnamon. Just like sandalwood (my feelings, not the smell). Again, I love the way cinnamon smells, but you don't want all cinnamon all the time.

And then that was all the ones in little bags for $1.99, and I thought, well, damn, total failure on the incense front, I will have to look elsewhere. But then something GLORIOUS happened. I happened to glance down at the little boxes, and I picked one up to see what it was and dude. It was cloves and sandalwood and cinnamon.

My apartment smells so good right now. And I am about to go eat taco soup. And chocolate cream pie. And Pam and Jim are getting married.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009


I really want a pet pig. I have wanted a pet pig for a while. Pigs are smart and clean and they have sweet snuffly noses, but eventually they grow to an untenable size. I did not want a pig that would grow to weigh three hundred pounds, and I knew even small pigs got to be enormously one hundred and fifty pounds, so I gave up on my pet pig dream.


Seriously follow that link and look at the little pig babies. They are the sweetest little baby animals. They snuffle at the camera with their snuffly little baby snouts, and they wander all over the place on their little baby feet, and they are so cuddly and adorable.

I want one. Or two. Or ten. I shall buy them, and make them all comfortable at my home, and eventually I will breed them and spread happiness to the masses in the form of miniature pigs, while incidentally making money for myself. Much better idea than breeding tarantulas like a crazy person, which in one litter I believe supply would far outstrip demand and you would just end up squashing them. But nobody would squash, and everyone would want, a sweet adorable darling little pig. These little bitty ones only grow up to be about a foot tall, which is not at all big.

Yup, I’ve decided. I’m buying all of those little pigs. I will get a breeding pair and I will name the boy Wilbur and I will name the girl Wilbur too. Then they can have a litter of baby piglets and I will name them Wilbur and Wilbur and Wilbur and Wilbur and - look, I WILL NAME THEM ALL WILBUR, okay? My house will be full of adorable snuffly piglets. Then I won't even run the risk of getting eaten by cats like a cat lady, or even by Alsatians, but only by sweet adorable little pigs. (And possibly a greyhound. I wonder what a greyhound would make of a pig.)

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

I dreamed I was a teacher and woke up screaming

Well, not screaming. But it was a terrible nightmare. I was supposed to be teaching these third-graders, but I had no lesson plans and no idea what third-graders were supposed to learn. There were two other grown-ups in the room with me, one of whom was evaluating me, and the other was the science/math teacher. So I was all, “Yeah, well, right now it’s the science and math unit!”, and I was hoping the science and math teacher would take over, and give me time to think of a language arts lesson plan; but instead she just stood there watching me expectantly. I said, “Okay, fractions!” and all the kids waited patiently and I said, “One half plus one half equals a whole. Get it?” and drew a picture of a sliced-in-half pie on the chalkboard.

“Jenny,” said the science and math teacher. “They don’t learn fractions until eighth grade.”

“No,” I said anxiously. “Third grade. They learn fractions right now. With pie.”

“It’s 3.14159 et cetera,” said the science and math teacher to the students. “Remember that, students. You will need it to decipher the circle that Jenny drew on the board for you.”

“Wait, we aren’t doing geometry!” I said.

“You brought it up,” said the science and math teacher gently.

“Not pi,” I said. “Pie like apple pie.”

“You’re being very irrational,” said the science and math teacher.

“Is this your normal teaching method?” said the evaluator. “Why haven’t you asked the students to tell you about themselves? These students don’t even know each other’s names. How can you try to teach them Euclidean [only she pronounced it Oyclidean] geometry on the very first day when you don’t know anything about them?”

IT WAS AWFUL. I woke up shaking and couldn’t get back to sleep, but I didn’t remember what the nightmare was about until just now. I thought it must have featured horrific monsters. But no. Just teaching.

This nightmare brought to you by:

1. Several of my friends becoming teachers
2. Talking to my sister about fractions last night – she was fantastically good at them when we learned them in (she says) fourth grade (but I thought we learned fractions in third) (but she remembers it very vividly and I'm sure she is right). So I was off about the fractions by a year.
3. Explaining to tim that I am bad at teaching. Also, the Oyclidean business is tim-related because she one time told me that Euler is pronounced Oiler and it always makes her want to call Euclid Oyclid. Also if it weren’t for tim I doubt that the irrational joke and the five digits I can remember of pi would have made it into this dream.

Friday, September 25, 2009

What I wonder

My mother and I were talking last week about Memorable Reading Experiences, and she had all these memories of where she was, and what she was doing, and what the weather was like, when she was reading certain books. Whereas my memorable reading experiences were more me thinking, Oh, you can do that in a book. Like with Rumer Godden’s books, the way she interjects brief comments from other characters in the middle of describing an event, or that dialogue thing she does where she contrasts what one character is thinking with what another character says. Like, Jenny thought that football was dull, but, “We’d love for you to stay and watch it with us,” said Aunt Becky. I love Rumer Godden.

Or when I first read Agatha Christie, and previously the only mysteries I’d really read were Nancy Drew and the Boxcar Children, and I got to the end, and it was like, bam! You weren’t expecting that, were you? I remember being so fascinated by the idea that someone could be the killer all along and everyone else didn’t even know. (Yes, as an adult, I realize this is how mystery novels work. But Nancy Drew telegraphs its punches! So it was a new sensation to me, with Agatha Christie!)

Or – hey, I know – when I first read Sorcery and Cecilia, the idea that you could have an epistolary novel, a novel that was a proper novel but at the same time it was made out of letters (I just typed “made out of win” on accident, so you see I feel strongly about this) – well, that idea filled me with almost more rejoicing than my brain could handle. It still does actually. One of these days, my friends.

Do these examples work? I mean that when I read books, I like for writers do something I hadn’t thought of before. Unless it sucks. Like the first time I ever read a stream-of-consciousness story, I expect I was all, Blech. Where is the punctuation? Punctuation, everyone! Punctu-fuckin’-ation. (To make that remark slightly less lowbrow, let me pause and mention that it is what is referred to as tmesis, a literary device of which I have always been fond. Wikipedia gives a rather sexy Latin example. The fact that five years out from my most recent Latin class, I am still excited about tmesis in Ovid suggests to me that I maybe missed my calling to be a Latin teacher.)

Anyway, when I said this to my mother, she said, “Well, you really are a writer.” But I am not sure that the above-mentioned thing is proof of that. And I am wondering now, when a book does something nifty and new, do other people have this reaction? Where they are like, OH HOORAY OH THE GLORIOUS VISTAS OF OPPORTUNITY? Or do they not notice at all? Or do they slightly notice but not pay attention because they don’t care? Or what?

Monday, September 21, 2009


The library hates me and breaks my heart. They are constructing some new system to catalogue the books and keep track of what patrons have what books out which THEY SAY is going to be much better and everyone will rejoice in it once they have finished setting it up TWO WEEKS FROM NOW. But I have my doubts because the last several new things that they have come up with have made me unhappy, to wit:

1. Completely getting rid of the computers where you didn't have to log in, you could just check really quickly to see if a book was in the library. Now you have to log in to the computers and get on the internet and use the online catalogue. It takes ages and I hate it. And the computers are constantly breaking which they hardly ever used to do. Or, well, maybe they did, but I liked them a lot better and have chosen to forget any negative qualities they may have possessed.

2. Bringing out these new soulless white cards. My card is blue, and I have had it for eight years, and I am not prepared to part with it for some allegedly stronger but definitely not as good white card.. Because when I first got a grown-up blue card, I kept losing it, and finally I got this one, and I was like, OKAY. THIS IS IT. I like this number and I am not ever ever ever going to lose this card, and I never did.

3. The new evil system whereby little children can only check out children's books on their card, so if they want an adult book or even a YA book, their parents have to check it out for them. This is hateful evilness and makes people's lives more trying. I can only imagine how furious I would have been if this rule had been in effect when I was small.

So I am not confident that the new library system will be better. Meanwhile I have no idea when my books are due. I check books out all the time, and I keep track of their due dates by looking online. You can't renew books using just your library card. You have to actually know which books are due when, and have them with you when you try to renew them. This sucks because my goal is to accrue less than $15 of fines on this go-round of my library card; I just renewed the card, and that lasts for three years, so I am trying to get very few fines in three years. And I know this is going to mess everything up. TOTALLY UNCOOL.

You know what would make me feel better? Football! How many more days is it until Saturday? I am nervous for the Florida game, but I am taking it as a good omen that it's happening on Ada Leverson's birthday. I shall pray that she intercedes for us - I mean what are the odds that there are any Florida fans who like her as much as I do?

Friday, September 11, 2009

Revisiting the slaughter policy

When I was a child I thought as a child and my slaughter policy was as follows:

1. Don't kill anything cute.
2. Kill other noncute things whenever you are brave enough to do so.
3. Don't kill any spiders.

This last bit is completely Roald Dahl's fault for having James say this:

Should her looks sometimes alarm you
Then I don't think it would harm you
To repeat at least a hundred times a day:
I must never kill a spider
I must only help and guide her
[and invite her in the nursery to play]

So, okay, that's fair (apart from the last line which I have bracketed off as obvious lunacy). Spiders do helpful things, and I like helpful things. I am not necessarily afraid of spiders. I mean I do not want disgusting spider babies running all over my apartment LIKE SOME PEOPLE, but I don't see a spider and start crying and hyperventilating or anything. That's why the third item on my policy was there.

And then I became an adolescent, and grew to understand nuances of good and evil, and I revised my policy thus.

1. Don't kill anything cute.
1a. If something cute is going to die anyway you may run it over with your car as I learned when my mother had to do this to a little bird my cat was playing with.

2. Kill other noncute things only if they are in your territory. I.e., if you encounter a wasp inside, it is a villainous invader of your personal space and you can kill it because it's icky. If you encounter it outside, like an ant on a picnic, you are in its space and it legitimately has the right to crawl on you or whatever.

3. Don't kill any spiders.
3a. However, you don't have to have them in your house. If you find one, mercifully scoop it up on a Kleenex and put it outside.

Now I am a grown-up and I have had to make changes again. Things are more complicated when you are an adult. They are. Viz:

1. Don't kill anything cute.
1a. If something cute is going to die anyway you may still run it over with your car.
1b. If you do kill something cute by accident, immediately call your Hindu friends and let them make you feel better by assuring you it's going to get reincarnated as something better.

2. Kill noncute things if they are in your territory.
2a. Or if they bite you.
2b. Or get on you.
2c. Or if you just can't stand the sight of them (this includes all cockroaches everywhere).

3. Take spiders on a case-by-case basis.
3a. Don't put them outside. If they are inside they are probably house spiders, so the house is their territory too, and putting them outside will probably kill them.
3b. So if you're inside and they're inside, and you try to ignore them and they don't take the hint and keep hopping back onto your desk and ending up on your post-it notes and finally GETTING IN YOUR HAIR AND IF A SPIDER CAN DO IT THEN SO MIGHT A COCKROACH, you can feel free to kill them.
3c. And then if you slam a pack of post-its down on them really hard and they still walk away from it, feel free to scream obscenities at them. And at Roald Dahl too because it's all his fault. And then write a stroppy blog post about it.

Dear friends and family,

This blog post is a call for help. I CANNOT STOP SWEET HEAVENLY GOD.

Friday, September 4, 2009


Oh my God! Look at what has happened! Look how the internet senses & responds to my every whim! Beautiful, wonderful, amazing, brilliant internet! How can it be that you care for me so much, when I have often scorned and cursed at you for running too slowly and for failing to load websites that I want? I am in a frenzy of self-reproach! Oh, internet, just tell me how to make it up to you! I will make you cakes, I will buy you jewels, I will travel to the North Pole and bring you back the head of a polar bear!

(You were doing quite well until you got to the bit about the polar bear.)

You may wonder what this is all about and DO NOT WORRY BECAUSE I WILL TELL YOU.

For a while I have had this project of trying to identify English accents. I am better at it than I used to be - obviously since going to England, but also since I've just been paying attention. Hitherto I have been getting by inspecting actor bios on IMDB when I watch British telly, which, yes, slows the progrses of my project, but not unduly, and it was the only way of managing it. I thought.



The British Library (which I have never scorned or cursed of course) (except for earlier today when I discovered that it wasn't going to let me listen to all the stuff I wanted to listen to on account of being American and not at university) has digitized their sound archives. Like including oral history. Which you can organize by county. Which means I can listen to what people sound like anywhere in Britain.

Today I listened to a dude from Cumbria who feels sad for children these days and their need for instant gratification. He actually said Bligh (is that how it's spelled?). "The dogs have nowhere to go; kiddies have nowhere to go. Bligh." He sounds a bit like the way the people in The Secret Garden talk. Except? He's not from Yorkshire. And now I can just go to the British Library website and listen to someone who IS. Whenever I feel like it.

Swear to Jesus.

I love the internet.

Preaching by the converted

How come I am so much more insane about preaching the goodness of books/films/TV shows that I originally didn't want to read/watch? You notice this same thing with converted religious people sometimes, that they can be madly zealous in a way that people brought up in the faith are often not.

I bring this up because I am reading The Girl in a Swing, which is a book by the same guy that wrote Watership Down, and it's making me want to tell everyone to read Watership Down. Zealously. Though I believe when my mother first brought up Watership Down to me, the conversation was like this.

Mumsy: Jenny! I got Watership Down! You have to read it while we're here [in Maine]!
Jenny: Okay! You have never steered me wrong! What's it about?
Mumsy: Well, it's about these rabbits.
Jenny: Um, yeah. That sounds sweet, but I'm too busy revisiting the oeuvres of William Steig and Maurice Sendak.
Mumsy: Really?
[Note: William Steig and Maurice Sendak are both brilliant and I love them. I am in no way criticizing William Steig and Maurice Sendak.]
Mumsy: No, no, it's very exciting. It's very exciting. It's about this rabbit that is psychic-
Jenny: Mother. This is embarrassing.

See, but I was so wrong! Watership Down is amazing and thrilling and suspenseful. The rabbits have all kinds of mad adventures, like - oo, it's so creepy - when they find this warren with these fat, well-fed rabbits that just act really weird; and like when the Major Fighter Rabbit, Bigwig, befriends this crow; and when they have to infiltrate a terrifying fascist warren and fight off the terrifying army of fascist rabbits.

When I try to tell people how good Watership Down is, I can always tell from their faces that they are thinking the exact same thing that I myself was thinking when my mother first told me about it. And I don't want them to make the same judgey-face mistake that I made! Which caused me to put off reading it for a really long time! I mean, okay, for like a week, until I ran out of other stuff to read, but dude, if we hadn't been on vacation, if we had been at home surrounded by zillions of books and a public library, I might NEVER EVER HAVE READ IT.

...I am sad for the people that have never read Watership Down.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Girl detective

So today I was going through pictures of my work, right, and I found a picture in this office with a fish. In a fishbowl. And at first I was just all, aw, the leetle fish. Look at the pretty colors. Isn't it nice? La la la. I carried on going through the pictures, whatever whatever, and after a while it hit me: That is a picture of a fish on my desk. My desk does not have a fish on it. WHERE IS THE FISH?

I thought maybe the fish was somewhere else around the office and I just hadn't seen it, so I went hunting. I looked all around my desk. I looked in the meeting room area. I looked in the kitchen. I looked in the stuff room & the other stuff room & my boss's office.


By now I had begun to suspect that somebody, sometime, had come into this office and played a game they called UP UP UP with the fish!, and had had poorer balance than some players of this game, and the fish in question had not had the good fortune to land in a pot full of water from which it could continue to express its dismay about the turn the game had taken. There are no pots full of water in this office so it couldn't have fallen into one, and I was growing ever more worried about the fate of the fish.

When my boss came back, I said, "Those pictures of the office are very good,"and he said, "Oh, you like them?" and I, having achieved my segue with a minimum of effort, said severely, "WHERE IS THE FISH?"

"Fish?" he said.

I would make a fantastic investigative journalist. I wouldn't let people get away with anything. I did not let my boss get away with this. "THE FISH FROM THE PICTURES," I said.

"It's gone," he explained.


I know, I know. I missed my calling. I should have become a journalist as previously noted, or possibly an expert interrogator. I would not need to torture people sneakily, because I would get the truth out of them using only my words.

The fish didn't die. You will be relieved to hear. The fish from the pictures was someone else's fish. Not an office fish. Not somewhere dead of neglect in this office because I didn't know about it when I started working here.


(Mumsy, don't worry - that is not really what happened. I did not go snooping through the rest of the office, or interrogate my boss. I asked politely and he explained politely. I did not really miss my calling to be an investigative journalist or witness interrogator; I know that my true calling is to be a writer of amusing fictions.)

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Changes hurt my brain

Well, I mean, some changes. Today my father brought my sculpture over to my new apartment, and it's the first thing your eye falls on when you walk inside. It makes me completely happy. That is a change that does not hurt my brain.

However, this new apartment, despite its beautiful perfection, is not without its problems. I was pleased upon arriving here to find that the linen closet in the bathroom has one of those adorable little pull-down doors in it, do you know what I'm talking about? There is a handle, and you pull it down and chuck your dirty laundry inside the bottom half of the linen closet? You know?

I love this. I have always wanted one of these. (Do you know what I'm talking about?) I am much more motivated than I have ever been before, to put my dirty laundry in its designated place. I am even more motivated than I was when I was little and putting the laundry in the hamper meant my mother would do it for me. When I lived at the dorms and in previous apartments, I mostly just threw my dirty clothes in a corner close to where my laundry bag was, and then when the pile of dirty clothes got big enough that it made me unhappy, I did a couple of loads of laundry.

Now, I never see how big my pile of laundry is. I never see it at all. It's very weird and I'm having a hard time adjusting. This morning I got up and tried to find the shirt I wanted, and it wasn't anywhere. I searched in my closet, and then I searched through all the drawers in my chest of drawers, and then I searched in the pile of clothes I really need to hand-wash (I will soon!), and then I searched through all my unpacked boxes. And finally I sat down sadly and tried to live with the realization that the shirt was gone forever.

"How can it be missing?" I asked my cuddly Harrod's teddy bear, who is called Basil Bear. Baz had no answers for me. "HOW?" I cried. "I DO NOT EVEN HAVE ANY BIG PILES OF DIRTY LAUNDRY LIKE NORMAL. WHY AM I BEING PUNISHED FOR MY CLEANLINESS?"

Which is when I remembered about the pile of laundry tidily hidden behind the little door in my bathroom. Baz didn't really deserve to be yelled at (but I really like that shirt, and I am on the rag, so you can understand how this all went down).

Friday, August 21, 2009

One of those epiphanies it would have been better to have had sooner

I was in high school before I realized that the phrase "to jew someone down" is a reference to - you know - Jews. For years and years and years (not because I am stupid! but because I didn't hear it that often and so I didn't think about it that much), I totally thought it was an onomatopoeic approximation of the sound of a power tool. You know, JJJJJJJJJEWWWWWWWWWWWWW - like, whittling something down. I thought jewing someone down meant wearing them down until they could take it no longer and gave you the price you wanted, or possibly wearing down the price with a power tool type thing. When I hear that phrase, that's still what pops into my head.

But then this one time I was talking to one of my friends at lunch about this girl in my elementary school who used to bring Fudge Rounds to school, and she would never share. We used to offer her huge portions of our own lunches in exchange, but the only trade she would accept was two (two!) of those yummy cafeteria rolls. I was telling my friend, "One time I jewed her down to - I just realized what that meant."

Then I felt guilty.

I just wanted to tell y'all that. I have a picture of a power tool in my head right now. JJJJJJEEEEEWWWWWW. Do you understand the noise I'm making? The J is a soft J like in Arabic or French.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Book lists

I love book lists. You know, those things where it's all "50 Books You Must Read Before You Die" and "75 Best Books Ever in the World" and "100 Classics If You Haven't Read Them You Are Stupid". I was talking about this with my mum and sister today, and Anna was saying she finds them dismaying because they make her feel like she isn't well-read. As for me, I always like them and I always go through and add up my totals even if I have somewhere else to be in the next five minutes. It's fun. Here's why.

1. I often feel like I am well-read when I add up my totals. Unless they have loads of philosophy books on them, I have normally read a lot of those books. I was an English major so I had to. I had to read Moby Dick twice, and the payoff for this and other miseries is that when there is a list like this, I have usually read a bunch of them. Though I think I should be able to give myself two points for Moby Dick since I had to read it two (2) times and it is as long as - like, it's really really long, okay?

(I was trying to think of some sort of dirty joke about Pinocchio's nose, to illustrate how long Moby Dick is. And I couldn't think of something. Oh well. I am not that clever.)

2. I come across these lists relatively often, because people love to make them, and they always remind me of books I have been meaning to read. Like Doris Lessing. I keep meaning to read Doris Lessing. One of these days I will. Or, to give a better example, Salman Rushdie. I used to see Salman Rushdie's name all over the place, and I was all, Whatever, I'll get to it, and eventually, I got to it. Which means that now when Salman Rushdie's books are on these lists, I have read them. Plus, it turns out I really like Salman Rushdie. And if he hadn't been on book lists all the time, reminding me about his existence, this would never have happened.

3. This will not stand up under scrutiny given how much I thought I was going to hate Salman Rushdie and other authors I can't think of right now, but here it is anyway: for a lot of the books I haven't read, I am pleased not to have read them. Because I know I won't like them. And because I think without having read them that they are stupid. Thus instead of feeling not-well-read, and thus not enjoying the book lists, like Anna, I feel aggravated with the list-makers for putting stupid books on their lists, and pleasingly smug with myself for knowing better. And then I have a big internal (or sometimes out-loud) rant about how racist and sexist everyone is with The Classics, and how foolish the list-makers are, putting on more than one book by Faulkner (esp. if neither of them is Light in August, which is the one I was forced to read) or whoever, and that is fun because it's fun to feel like a better person than someone else.


Unless you are Robyn, I know you don't care

But Chad Michael Murray is leaving One Tree Hill. I can't tell you how much this has broken my spirit. Chad Michael Murray and his sensitive-guy-face and his better-acting-through-squinting techniques have been such a joy to me since my lovely flatmate Saz introduced me to the show in 2007. Ever since I discovered this, I have been broken-hearted. Inconsolable. Ask anyone. I have taken to my bed and refused to arise until the CW reconsiders.

However, today it came to me in a blinding flash of light, exactly what I need in order to be happy again. Nobody is planning to do this (YET!), but inventing it inside my head has made me feel much happier. Okay. I need some network to do a show about a ballet school - no, wait for it - that's a boarding school - no! no! you are still waiting for it - set before the Second World War. Ish. That's when ish I would need it to be set. I THINK IT WOULD BE GREAT.

Yes. Essentially, Thursday's Children on TV. And American.

But no, seriously, I think this would be such fun! Thursday's Children is great, and what would make it even more great would be MORE CHARACTERS AND LONGER AND IN SERIAL FORM.

Right? Am I right? Wouldn't that be fun? For me?

Friday, August 7, 2009

How to cook

The key, of course, is to not cook for several months between attempts. In this way it becomes possible to forget the abject, multilayered misery that happens when you cook a new thing. Like maybe wait three months. After three months it is possible for me to tell myself that I have been exaggerating my loathing for cooking. You know, for comedic effect. So today I cooked a new chicken spaghetti thing. It looked very easy. Ho, ho, ho.

I cut up the chicken first. This went really smoothly, despite my hatred for touching raw meat, and I was feeling fantastic about myself and my cooking abilities, so I bravely went ahead and put the olive oil on to heat up. I didn't know olive oil had to heat up. I would have totally dumped the chicken into the skillet first, piece by piece as I cut it up, and worried about the olive oil when I started cooking the chicken.

Then I chopped up the garlic. I figured, since I had already cut the chicken successfully, theoretically the most traumatic part of the process, I could now give myself a prize by doing something super easy and fun. My sister has recently discovered that she owns a vegetable chopper, and all you have to do to work it, is slam it up and down repeatedly, and the garlic becomes chopped automatically. Like magic!

First problem, of course: I didn't bring over the garlic I bought. Of course. I looked and looked all over for garlic and couldn't find any, and after three terrifying - because! the olive oil was already on the skillet which meant TOO LATE to go buy/pick up garlic - minutes I found some, and I got going with the chopping. V. easy and fun. I was feeling totally great, and then I took the chopper apart to wash it and couldn't get it back together again. Every time I tried, it started making horrifying noises SQUEAK SQUEAK SQUEAK (sorry, Robyn!), and I couldn't get it to go back together. At all. It looked all broken and tragic, and after innumerable efforts to mend it while retaining my equanimity, I started to cry because not only was I failing at cooking, but I was also failing at being a good sister. Neither a borrower nor a lender be.

I know this is stupid, but I am writing this while the chicken is simmering in the kitchen, mostly to stave off the moment when I have to cook the pasta, and it still feels v. upsetting right now - anyway, I finally sorted the stupid chopper and carried on cooking the chicken, and I put too much goddamn spice on it. I put the right amount from the recipe, but I guess I had the wrong proportions, so the basil and blackened thingy were just way too much, and my whole house smells like basil. Way too much basil. I am gagging on basil right now. I poured in the tomatoes, covered it, and disconsolately wandered over to write a complainy blog post.

There always comes a time like this, when I am cooking something. I reach a point where I hate the food I am cooking, truly hate it, probably as much as Fred Phelps hates the gays - IF NOT MORE - and I can see why, if these are truly the emotions he possesses, he chooses to send his family out picketing all over the place with his hatred of the gays, and if I could do that with my hatred of the food and not be ridiculous (a challenge Fred Phelps faces too - and does not manage to surmount), I would totally do it at this point in the process. At this point I am ready to take the whole pan and pour it into the trash and sit down and cry for a little while, and ultimately go get take-out.

No idea how the food turned out. I haven't tasted it. The house smells like basil and I don't expect great things out of the chicken spaghetti. But I am going to go make pasta anyway, because I've started and it's too late to stop now.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Oh I am just so excited

about this. I think it's going to be legen-

(wait for it)

-dary! LEGENDARY! There will be interviews! People will talk nice about Oscar Wilde and I WILL LOVE IT.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

So there are people living in this town who have leashes


And in case that was too confusing, what with the sentence being split between the subject line and the post itself, I'll tell you again. Yesterday I saw a guy and a girl, and the girl was cuddling a bunny, and that was sweet, but the guy was, I swear to God, holding one end of a leash and the other end of the leash was attached to a bunny. Or, I don't know if I can even call it a leash, because it had a little harness on it, which went over the bunny's head and under its little front legs.

If you think about this, it's really great that the guy and the girl have found each other. I don't expect there are that many bunny-leash enthusiasts in this world, and really, what are the odds of finding a mate who is willing to walk outside with you while you wait for your leashed bunny to have a poo, let alone one who is willing to actually hold one end of a leash whose other end is attached to a pooping bunny? The guy and the girl both had a bunny, and both bunnies had a harness leash, and they were in public. People could SEE THEM taking their bunnies out for a poo. (Like me.)

There's this too: In order for the bunny-leash freaks to have purchased this harness leash thing for their bunnies, harness leashes for bunnies had to already exist. Think about that. Someone, somewhere, thought, Hey, you know what we need? Leashes for bunnies! So people can walk their bunnies!, and they thought that this was a pressing enough need that it would be safe to manufacture them en masse. AND THEY WERE RIGHT. Chilling.

Don't get me wrong. I am all in favor of restraining your bunny. The people across the street from where I used to live had this bunny and they let it run free, and the bunny was a great big rapist and it used to sneak up behind the neighborhood cats and start humping them. Its name was Bubbles. One time during the St. Patrick's Day parade a drunk guy saw me near my house and hollered "YOUR BUNNY'S HUMPING THE CAT." He was drunk, but not drunk enough to have forgotten that the proper place for pet bunnies is in a cage. And I think that's a useful lesson for all of us.

Seriously, bunny-leash freaks. The proper place for a pet bunny is in a cage. Just clean out the damn cage. That is what all the other pet bunny owners of this world are doing. Not letting their bunnies roam free. Not putting them on weird harness leashes. They are keeping them in cages like you do guinea pigs, and if you think this is mean to the bunny, the obvious solution is DO NOT HAVE A BUNNY AS A PET.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Babysitters' Club

I found this website where this chick is rereading all the Babysitters' Club books. I don't know about you, but I was addicted to these books when I was small. I remember one time Anna's best friend offered to give me Super Special #10, the one where they're all in Peter Pan, if I would finish making the cookies she and Anna started to make and then got tired of. This was, like, the best deal ever, and when I conducted a purge of all my BSC books (dammit, wish I still had them), I hung on to that one particular book.

I just reread it this week, and here is my question. I get it that Jessi's being super bitchy in this book, and I get it that the boss-man of the play might not want to give the part of Peter Pan to a middle-schooler. But then he goes ahead and gives it to Kristy; so it's not about her age. And frankly, nobody in this play is going to be super-talented! So why would he NOT give the part (or any part!) to Jessi, who at least can dance and is accustomed to being on stage? He doesn't even give her a speaking part! I feel like this is an example of Ston(e?)ybrook racism, as we witnessed in Jessi's first book. But nobody even brings this up! HE IS BEING A RACIST PRICK AND NOBODY CARES.

I can't remember how they deal with Jessi and racism in the BSC books, apart from the one where she first moves to town, and also that Super Special that takes place at camp, where Mallory and Jessi are supposed to be like junior counselors in training, and their fellow campers don't like them because they're being stuck-up little snots (well they are!), and to show they don't like them, they call Mallory and Jessi "Oreos", and that's where I first learned that term, and I remember being like, Speaking of that, Oreos are delicious, and I went and stole a bunch of cookies from the long thin tin where we used to keep our cookies. Stolen cookies are always sweeter. I wonder if my parents knew how many of those cookies I stole and ate at a time.

Anyway, I'm very entertained by this website. She makes fun of Claudia's clothes. Even at age ten, I thought Claudia's clothes sounded fucking stupid. Why was she always wearing oversized shirts? Does she not have any normal shirts? I feel like Claudia would grow up still wearing these wacky fashions into her mid-thirties, which would be really tragic, but here's what it would lead to, ultimately:

(in the 360)
Um, well, this is a great off-the-shoulder oversized blouse with a short neon green skirt and polka-dot tights and ballet shoes. I would wear this like to hang out with my friend Stacey in New York City. She's super sophisticated because she's from New York City. I just think this is a really fun outfit that really reflects my personality.

There are just so many things wrong with this.

My eyes are burning.

(bunches the blouse together in the back)
Look what a great figure you have!

Yes, I can eat a thousand tons of junk food and never gain weight.

Oh shut up.

Or get pimples.

Why would you want to hide this great figure under all this SHIRT? When you wear this outfit, it makes you look frumpy and stumpy. Let's take a look at an alternative, okay?

Cut to: Cute, elegant manikin outfit

But this is so booooring!

This is not boring, this is elegant!

See, Claudia, this is an outfit that's genuinely sophisticated-

Which is what we want for you!

Yes, we do. See this ruching below the bodice? That's the kind of lovely feminine detail we want you to look for, that's going to accentuate the narrowest part of you, and really show off that adorable little figure.

Mmm, this is almost as satisfying as imagining what Buffy would do if she ever met Edward Cullen.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Proud of my subconscious

Well, I am. My subconscious is very inventive and fun. I have all sorts of good dreams, and even when I have nightmares, they are rife with useful symbolism for me to think about. And because I am in no way responsible for its workings, I do not hesitate to praise my subconscious lavishly without feeling like a bragging bragger. I can’t help it! It’s very creative and interesting! Much more so than my waking self – which seems very unfair.

This is what my subconscious did on Wednesday morning like a genius. See, it was raining really hard on Tuesday night, and I guess the power must have clicked off for a second, because my alarm clock didn’t go off at the appointed time, which was about 5:50. I had set it early to make sure I made it to the place where I had to be at 6:35. On Wednesday morning, I woke up several times, then went back to sleep because it wasn’t time to get up yet, because my alarm clock hadn’t gone off. Ordinarily when I wake up in the morning, I check my clock to make sure I don’t need to get up, but this morning I was tired and I knew if I checked the clock it would wake me up more and I wouldn’t be able to fall back asleep.

(Though really I was oversleeping.)

Anyway I had this dream that my father came over to my apartment to hang some curtains. I actually do have curtains at my apartment that I intended to put up a while ago, and my father offered to come over and hang them for me, but it seemed like too much trouble for him so I never bothered with it. But in my dream, he came over to hang up the curtains and said, “Boy, you’re hard to wake up!”

And I said, “You mean that was you waking me up, when I woke up before?”

And he said, “Yes, you’re late. You were supposed to get up a while ago and help me with the curtains.”

I said, “No. I’m getting up at 5:50 in order to go to that place by 6:35,” and he said, “No, you’re very late. Very, very late,” and suddenly there was someone else with me who agreed that I was very late. We went on discussing this for a little while – I was certain that we hadn’t made any appointment to put up curtains, but Daddy and the other person kept telling me I was late, so finally I said, “Oh, fine,” and shook myself awake and checked the clock, and lo, it proved that I had overslept by a good thirty-five minutes.

My subconscious did that cause it’s helpful and cool. So.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Department of Mysteries

One of my most vivid memories of the Harry Potter series is reading the end of the fifth book at Nezabeth’s house with her and Anna, that scene in the Department of Mysteries. It was very early in the morning, because we’d been reading since the book came out at midnight, and I was shaking all over, partly from tiredness but mostly from tension, because damn, is that scene ever tense. Whenever I reread it now, I get that same shaky feeling, except now I know what’s coming, so I also burst into tears right around the time Neville tells Harry not to give it to her, and I keep on crying till the book finishes. And the same thing in the movie – during the Department of Mysteries scene, I was absolutely rigid with tension.

And then Dumbledore showed up.

I do not love Michael Gambon as Dumbledore. They should have cast Ian McKellan or, as my mother said, Bill Nighy – we feel like either of them could have conveyed the humor and presence of Dumbledore more better than Michael Gambon does. Despite that, when Dumbledore showed up in the film of Order of the Phoenix, every single muscle in my body relaxed. I hadn’t even realized how tense I was until he showed up and I completely relaxed, because everything was going to be okay, because Dumbledore was there.

That’s how I feel when I go to the eye doctor.

I can tell you this is true because I went to the eye doctor today, for the first time in a while, and I remembered how completely soothing my eye doctor is. I have been seeing her since I was a little, little girl of six or seven, and I find the eye tests so relaxing. My favorite one is the one where she clicks through the different lenses to see which one is better for my eyes, and she says, “One, or two?” and I say, Two, and she says, “Two, or three?” Oh so relaxing. It’s like when Dumbledore shows up. I just relax perfectly. How serene it is. And that nice test with the signs on the railroad tracks? Mmmmmmmm. I do not even mind that much when they puff air into my eyes or make me stare into black and white concentric circles in order to get a map of my eye. Because my eye doctor makes me feel so calm.

After giving this some thought, I’ve concluded that it’s because I spent a lot of time at the eye doctor in third and fourth grade, and third and fourth grade sucked really really hard. So I think that I view my eye doctor as my savior. It was so nice when, instead of having to go to school and get into fights with the younger version of Rachel McAdams from Mean Girls, I could go to the eye doctor and watch the entrancing display board that kept changing and changing. And then get my eyes tested, and I’d be out of school for a whole morning or a whole afternoon and it was GREAT. I think that’s why.


I am so relieved. Seriously, I am so, so, so relieved.

Ever since I got my library card renewed (it’s a major change in my life, this library card renewal business, brought on a serious existential crisis), I’ve been desperately worrying that I am Not Cut Out to be a writer, and that I’ve been sort of nailing my colors to the mast all this time when really I am just doomed to be miserable no matter what I do, and being a writer won’t make me happy. But I am pleased to report that my experiment from yesterday worked perfectly.

I read two books yesterday. I love reading. And you know what makes reading even better? I will tell you what makes reading even better: feeling like you are achieving work while you are reading. Actually, this makes everything better. This is why I like cross-stitching, and covering books in contact paper, while I watch movies or Merlin or whatever. If I have an end product, I feel like the time I spent watching Merlin wasn’t wasted, because look! I accomplished something! I protected my books for the rest of forever! Anyway, so yesterday I read two books, and when I finished them, I was like, YES! I HAVE LEARNED! WITH EACH BOOK I READ I BECOME MIGHTIER IN KNOWLEDGE. NOW I MUST GO FORTH AND CREATE! And then I laughed an evil scientist laugh and put a few more bolts into the head of my monster and set him loose on the populace.

And then I worked on this one story until three, and by then I was tired, so I put on Buffy the Vampire Slayer (I haven’t watched the fourth season in forever – it’s sad when they all split apart and don’t love each other!) and watched that while revising another story, and that was very satisfactory, and then in the evening I ate an unhealthy dinner and washed my hair and went to bed early. Which I expect is about what I would do if I were for reals a full-time writer.

And today? Today I am in SUCH A GOOD MOOD. Holy crap. I have such love for humanity right now. This morning after I got dressed, I was like, Hey, Buffy’s hair looked so pretty when she tied the front bits in the back. I’m going to try that with my hair. I get these ideas a lot in the morning, and normally it goes like this:

(JENNY tries to make HAIR do what she wants.)
HAIR: Fuck you. I would prefer to be in a braid.
HAIR: I refuse to obey you.
(HAIR gets into a hopeless snarl and JENNY is reduced to tears at how unmanageable HAIR is, but after two tries she recognizes that it’s never going to work, so she just puts stupid HAIR in a braid.)

If you see me, and my hair’s in a braid, then it’s not terribly unlikely that the above scene played out that morning. But today, it went like this.

(JENNY tries to make hair do what she wants.)
HAIR: Fuck you. I would prefer to be in a braid.
(HAIR gets into a hopeless snarl.)
JENNY: Oh, Hair darling, if you only knew how much I loved you!
(JENNY untangles HAIR gently and lovingly, and gives it another go and succeeds brilliantly and looks pretty and thereafter has to keep checking herself out in a mirror because she loves her hair ever so much and never gets to see it all long and nice because ordinarily when it’s down it gets in her eyes until she hates it and puts it back in a braid.)

So, good. I am not doomed to misery. My hair looks pretty today, and writing is definitely what I’m supposed to be doing. End library card renewal existential crisis.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Having a perfect Sunday

I'll tell you how it all went down. First I got up and walked the dog and fed the cats. (Someone else's, not mine.) This was okay because the dog accomplished the appropriate tasks in a very reasonable amount of time. Sometimes we walk up and down the median with her sniffing everything while I'm going, "PLEASE POOP. PLEASE POOP. IT IS SO HOT OUTSIDE. PLEASE POOP." No such problems today.

Then I got home, and I was going to watch Gilmore Girls, but then I remembered that I'm supposed to be practicing for when I become a full-time freelance writer (no remarks from the peanut gallery necessary on this point), so I decided I'd try out my plan for being a full-time freelance writer, which involves eating peaches and reading in the morning, and writing all afternoon. The peaches part was tricky. The dog thought she deserved some peaches, maybe because of how well she had performed her tasks on the morning walk. She kept coming as close to me as she could and looking pointedly at the peaches, and then after I had rapidly eaten them all up, she wanted to come sniff my mouth. And after the peaches were gone, and I was reading the totally disappointing Children of Men, she still wanted to come and be all up in my business, because she thought there were still peaches, and obviously because she didn't realize that if there had been peaches, I WOULD NOT have given them to a dog. Give peaches to a dog. This is that thing about casting pearls before swine. No indeed.

And now the dog has fallen asleep in a blanket, and I am writing, and listening to Radio Paradise. I love me some Radio Paradise. It is buffering now, and not playing, but I tell myself this is just part of the starving artist experience - slow-buffering free online radio.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Watching Moulin Rouge with my little sister

Ewan McGregor in shattered tones: The woman I love...
Ewan McGregor:
Ewan McGregor: ...dead.
Robyn and Jenny: HAPPY AND ALIVE.

We forgot how adorable Ewan McGregor was in this film. Hot damn. Oh, and also how sexymazing Nicole Kidman was when she had red hair and curves.

Ewan McGregor: How could I know, in those final days--
Jenny: That poor Satine had a terrible illness that could only be cured by something awesome happening!
Robyn: Only be cured by a shock of joy!
Ewan McGregor: --stronger than love--
Robyn: But not stronger than a shock of joy!

Jenny: Hahaha, I like the part where Ewan McGregor tells her that he wasn't trying to trick her or anything...
Robyn (giving this due reflection): I like the part where they live happily ever after.
Jenny: Me too. That's the best part in the whole film. It's really good when the curtain falls and then the movie ends because there's no point it carrying on when they're living happily ever after.
Robyn: Yep, that's the best part.
Jenny: Yep, of the whole film.

But seriously, though, Moulin Rouge is fantastic. It has been way too long since I watched this film. I love rewatching films I haven't seen in ages - I forgot how hilarious Moulin Rouge is, and just think how easily it could have been total crap.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Turtles and cars

So y’all already know about me and my animal-saving ways. I always want to save poor little animals from squashy deaths on public thoroughfares. I saved a raccoon recently, and on my 21st birthday I tried really hard to save a toad though I don’t know what happened to it, and one time I saved a little cute dog, which is the shining star, really, on my saving things record, as the dog was eventually reunited with his owner in a joyful rollicking Wivenhoe park reunion.

I only mention this because I am doing this new thing where I go for walks, even though it’s as hot as the hinges of hell and I hate the heat with a hot hate, and yesterday I didn’t want to even more than I have not wanted to on the previous two days that I have done this. Because yesterday I was going to hang out with my lovely friend later on that evening, and that meant I had to go walking early, which meant it was much sunnier and therefore much hotter. And yesterday it would have been so easy just to not go. I could have just washed my hair straight away when I got home, and read my book about psychiatry, and worked on this big project I’m doing, or covered my books in contact paper and watched interviews with Stephen Fry on YouTube.

But I went walking, and it is a good thing (mercy, I am using a lot of italics today; I blame this on my recent rereading of Emily Climbs), because as I was on my way back to my apartment, I was rounding a slightly busy curve, and as a car came round the curve in one lane, I spotted in the other lane a great big turtle plodding across the road. It had a nice little face, and more cars were coming in the first lane, towards which the turtle was headed with plodding certainty. Fortunately I was there to save him. I flung myself out in front of the moving cars to stop them from continuing on their path of destruction, and gently scooped up the turtle and brought him to safety by a nearby creek.

(My mother is reading this and having a heart attack. I’m just kidding, Mother. I did not fling myself into oncoming traffic in order to save the turtle. That wouldn’t have helped, they would have just swerved to avoid me and hit the turtle anyway. Merely corroborative detail to lend artistic verisimilitude to an otherwise bald and unconvincing narrative.)

Of course, afterwards I realized that I had taken the poor turtle back to the exact place that he was crossing the street to get away from. It reminded me of this story I once wrote with Nezabeth when we were much smaller, all about a little turtle called Fortinbras who lived in a lake that was called Deep Clear Lake but it should have been called Shallow Dirty Lake because that is what the lake was, and Fortinbras yearned for something more. This turtle probably poked its head back out of its shell after I put it down and was like, FUCK. I just LEFT HERE.

Oh well. At least it isn’t dead. I saved it!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Life is weird

I eat bananas every day and am posting a fun fact about bananas. Past Jenny could not have predicted that this was going to happen.

Still, in spite of how much this post would make Past Jenny gag and vomit, I feel like you should know this fun fact. It makes bananas more fun. If you break off a small piece of a banana, and press into the middle of it with your finger, it will split nicely into three nice pieces. If you do not feel like getting banana on your fingers, you can accomplish the same effect with your tongue when the banana is in your mouth. IT IS AWESOME.

P.S. This behavior on the part of bananas has to do with Science. I have not just made it up.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Speed shopping

I just have to boast about this because I HATE SHOPPING. Or rather, I hate shopping that I have to do. I do not mind shopping as long as I am not shopping for a particular thing that I need to buy right now. This is because I am a Meyers-Briggs J and I like to have my decisions made quickly. If I don’t need to make a decision straight away, then the pressure is off and I can shop in a relaxed fashion and not worry about whether I buy something or don’t buy something. (Except that if I don’t buy something I will be cranky because it will have been a wasted shopping trip.)

Anyway, yesterday my sister and I were at the mall shopping for perfumes, because we were both tired of our old perfume and we wanted something new. I got one that smells like jasmine and violets, and Robyn got a nice citrusy cedary one, and anyway since we were at the mall anyway we wanted to try on prom dresses. We really love trying on prom dresses. I like to try on dresses that are poofy like a Disney princess or a cupcake, and Robyn likes to try on dresses that are so slinky you can’t even tell they are a dress when they’re on the hanger. We love trying on dresses. (The Say Yes to the Dress people would hate us.)

As we were heading in the direction of one of the department stores to look for cupcakey and slinky dresses, I said, “Unnnnnnnngh, I have to buy some new work shirts. Gross,” and Robyn said, “Yuck, that won’t be any fun” – because of the previously mentioned dislike of shopping for things that I need to get right now – and I espied Express having a sale on tops, and I said, “Can I just go in really fast and try some stuff on, really fast, and then we can go try prom dresses?” And because Robyn is a nice person she said yes.

IT WAS THE BEST SHOPPING TRIP EVER. Seriously, we went in there and grabbed like twelve shirts, and I tried them on. Robyn kindly folded them up and shook them out for me, and kept track of which ones we liked and which ones we wanted in another color or another size, and then we went back and got the other colors and other sizes, and lickety-split I tried those ones on again and we made a decision and we checked out. We were in that shop fifteen minutes. Tops. (See what I did there?) I got some sexy-ass shirts, and I got new perfume.

(Fortunately! If our pride in our shopping expedition had depended on trying on pretty prom dresses, we would have been woefully disappointed! The department stores didn’t have any prom dresses! What are people supposed to do who have formal parties to go to? Are they all supposed to wear sundresses? Is that what’s supposed to happen?)

(We did see the masturbating bear overlooking the children’s play area, though. It is very disturbing. I need them to take it away. I simply cannot believe that none of the mall employees have noticed what that bear is up to.)

(Oh, and they had a big bouncy sproingy thing set up, which we enjoyed watching. BOING. BOING. BOING. It was very cool. If we had not just spent loads of money on expensive perfumes, we might have gone on the big sproingy fun thing.)

Friday, June 12, 2009


When the new Wal-Mart opened up in town, the great big enormous one that I avoid like the plague because I hate it, my little sister’s friend Erin Molly was in love with it. She could not get over how beautifully it was organized. And I laughed at her, because yes, it was organized, but it was still – you know – EVIL. I felt like organization was all very well, but there were certain trade-ins you just don’t want to make in your life. For instance, the old Wal-Mart was very close to my house and very convenient to get to, and the new Wal-Mart was way less convenient and located on a crowded busy road. And to me, swapping convenient for organized is not a good trade.

I bring this up as an example of my hypocrisy because I just clicked like nine folders to get to the file I wanted. I am compulsive about organizing my computer files. Computer files can be like such a nice beautiful filing system, with subfiles, which is hard to do in a physical filing system. You can put things in a folder, and then in a more specific folder inside the first folder, and then inside a more specific folder again, and then inside that folder, inside a folder that is STILL MORE SPECIFIC EVEN THAN THAT. As far as I am concerned, the more folders I have to open up to get to the file I want, the more virtuously organized I am.

When I was still in school, I had a folder that said "Class Stuff", which insouciant title might suggest to the casual observer a general laissez-faire philosophy when it came to organizing my school files. NOT SO MY FRIEND.

Inside "Class Stuff", I had it organized by semester ("Fall 2006", "Spring 2007" and so forth), and inside each semester I had it organized by class. Then inside each class folder, I had a folder for class information, like the syllabus, project descriptions, and that stuff. I had a folder labeled Assignments, and then subfolders for each major project in the class; I used to make these on the very first day of class, and it made me feel pleasantly well-prepared for what was going to come. For each paper I was going to write, I made a folder where I put my notes, and a folder where I put the PDF files of articles I was going to reference, and then a folder for drafts of the paper. That meant that if I wanted to get to the current draft of my paper, I had to open up six folders. Six, and I will count them for you - "Class Stuff", "Fall 2006", "Milton", "Assignments", "Term Paper", "Drafts".

Yeah. Efficiency is my middle name.

In which I make it clear that I don't understand finance

Now, I hesitate to announce this to the internet. I’m sure that no sooner will I write these words down, than I will have an enormous crash into misery again. But for the past week I have been weirdly happy. I am just full of this sense of well-being and satisfaction, which it has been a long time since I have felt this way for nearly a week. I have all this equanimity and calmness. It’s very odd, following as it does upon several months of depression, and I have been trying to account for it.

And this is what I have come up with. My serotonin levels are up because of bananas. Yes, bananas. Previously in my life I have been known to say that I cannot eat bananas, because as soon as I eat two bites of a banana, it feels like my entire digestive system is full of banana, backed up all the way up my esophagus, so if I eat another bite of banana, there won’t be anywhere to go because my esophagus is already full, and it will just sit in my mouth until it rots and fruit flies start gathering around it.

(Ew, that was really gross.)

But then I started eating bananas, because I don’t eat enough fruit, and bananas travel relatively well and keep for a relatively long time in comparison with other fruits, and they’re cheap. Nowadays, I eat a banana every day at lunch, and I have been doing this for a while, and what has happened, my friends, is that this investment in bananas, is now paying off in SERIOUS MAJOR HOPEFULLY LONG-TERM TRYPTOPHAN DIVIDENDS.

(I am not entirely sure what dividends are. They’re what investments pay off in, right? Isn’t that what dividends means, when they aren’t the top halves of fractions?)

Because when a mommy tryptophan and something complicated with chemistry, there becomes serotonin! Get your tryptophan from carbohydrates rather than poultry, and it will give you happiness. I read an article.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Holy crap, peaches

How did I forget about peaches? It is suddenly peach season! Like magic! I went to the grocery shop, and I was looking around for pecans in order to make a salad (yeah, ya heard - I'm making a salad, and it is going to be AWESOME), and instead of pecans! I found! Peaches!

And they looked sort of small and sad, so instead of buying A THOUSAND OF THEM, I only bought one, one little peach that felt exactly squishy enough, and on the way home, I was trying to convince myself not to get too excited about it, because peaches are great but they're hard to get right. Oftentimes peaches are not that delicious.

I got home and I sliced off a piece and oh, my God, it was perfect. Perfect I say. There has never been such a delicious peach in the entire history of peaches. I mean maybe there has, but I have no way of knowing about it, because I have been living in a state of peach withdrawal. I didn't realize what a wretched state it was until I had this peach, the most delicious peach ever.

Peaches are my favorite food. Don't think I'm just saying this because I'm basking in the afterglow of a peachgasm. Peaches really are my favorite food. I have often said that if I had to live on only one food for the rest of my life, it would be peaches. Yes, I would be as sick as a dog, but really, living on only one food, that's inevitable, and at least my mouth would be happy.


Friday, May 29, 2009

Oh, Spike (a Torchwood update)

I started watching Torchwood for much the same reason that I started watching Angel – because I’d fallen in love with the show from which it had been spun off, and I wanted to make the original show last longer while still feeding my addiction. Torchwood isn’t as good a spin-off as Angel is. I think partly because Angel gets a little cheerier on his own show than he is on Buffy, but Captain Jack – who was cheeringly cheerful on Doctor Who – gets grimmer. And I like cheerful people. Part of the reason I like Doctor Who so much is that Christopher Eccleston and David Tennant are both really, really cheerful. Plus, to be frank, the cast of Torchwood isn’t a terribly good ensemble cast, whereas the cast of Angel is quite, quite superb. Like when they brought on Wesley, and he was a rogue demon hunter? Ah, the good old days. The Torchwood characters are less fully realized.

I only bring this up so that when I refer to Spike it’ll be clear that I’m not likening Torchwood to Buffy and Angel at all. It’s not as good. Sorry. Maybe because Steven Moffat wasn’t involved in Torchwood.

Spike is in love with Captain Jack. And, I mean, why not, right? All the people who meet Captain Jack seem to fall over themselves being in love with him. Something to do with 51st-century pheromones (don’t blame me, I didn’t make it up). There are confusing innuendos about stopwatches. There are gun-shootin’ lessons. There are dances atop invisible spaceships next to Big Ben. But today Spike won the being-in-love-with-Captain-Jack contest, because today Spike urged Captain Jack to sing along with the song that was playing, because (he said) “It’s our song”, and Captain Jack said, “We don’t have a song. And if we did have a song, it wouldn’t be that song.”

Referring to Sarah Brightman’s enduring classic “I Lost My Heart to a Starship Trooper.”

I’ll give you that again. Spike told Captain Jack Harkness that “I Lost My Heart to a Starship Trooper” was their song.

Mm. I guess this is so funny for me because Spike and Jack were already making me laugh by – well, just everything really. I mean Torchwood is drastically not as good as Doctor Who, I only carry on watching it because Welsh accents are funny, but it’s brilliant to have Spike show up and be in love with Jack. Their relationship is not unlike the one Spike and Buffy share. With the Spike liking the object of his affection a lot more than the object of his affection likes him, and with the beating each other up and trying to kill each other in between making out. And then just when I thought that there was no way at all for them to be any funnier, they toss in “I Lost My Heart to a Starship Trooper” and call it their song.

And in case YouTube won’t load for you:

Tell me, Captain Strange, do you feel my devotion
Or are you like a droid, devoid of emotion
Encounters one and two are not enough for me
What my body needs is close encounter three

I lost my heart to a starship trooper
Flashing lights in hyper space
Fighting for the Federation
Hand in hand we’ll conquer space.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Another good thing

about Ben Barnes being Dorian Gray in a film of Dorian Gray. I do not need, of course, to say how perfect Ben Barnes is for this part, with his big serious black eyes and everything. Nor do I need to point out to you that films set in Victorian times are already good, even if they do not contain Ben Barnes and Colin Firth (as this one does). And I am optimistically hoping that Colin Firth's presence in the movie will make it flashy and high-profile. All these things can go without saying.

Here is something you may not have considered, but I have, because I'm a dork: If they are making a film based on one of Oscar Wilde's books, and Ben Barnes and Colin Firth have to go around promoting it all over the place, then do you know what that means? It means lots of extra people saying nice things about Oscar Wilde. They will be all like, And of course, Oscar Wilde was a genius. Absolutely unparalleled wit, that Oscar Wilde. They will be like, Now, Colin, you were in a film version of The Importance of Being Earnest - how does that compare? and Colin Firth will be all, Well, the source material is very different, and the interviewer will be like, Oscar Wilde was clever that way, writing different type things like a clever genius.

Because, yes. I light up like a Times Square Christmas tree when someone says something nice about Oscar Wilde. The other day at work I was talking with Carrie about books that are famous that we don't like, and I was pleased because I like trashing classic novels, and then Carrie said she didn't like The Picture of Dorian Gray! I am not even that in love with The Picture of Dorian Gray, but still my face fell and I said, "But - but Oscar Wilde wrote it," like that was going to hold sway over Carrie.

Whereas if you give Oscar Wilde a compliment in my presence, I will beam radiantly and agree with you, and tell you something else nice about Oscar Wilde that you might not have known. I feel very proud of Oscar Wilde when he gets compliments, because I love him so much. It is like I am his mama.

Also, I discovered last night that I care more about Oscar Wilde than about myself. I was taking a shower and trying to think whether, if I could go back in time to meet Oscar Wilde, I would go back in time to before his trials & disgrace, or after. Before the trials, he would be cheerier and funnier and cooler to hang out with, and he wouldn't make us both feel awkward by asking us for money. On the other hand if I went to meet him after the trials, I could tell him that I was from the future, and show him pennies, and tell him that in the future, everyone thinks he's brilliant and totally likes him and uses him as the gold standard for clever people, and I could tell him that his trial and downfall is considered by some to be a watershed in the construction of sexuality (well, I might leave that bit out and just tell him how everyone likes him in the future).

And although I would rather made cheerful fun cool Oscar Wilde, his happiness is more important than mine (I discovered). I would definitely go to after the trials. I would buy him tea and tell him flattering things, and that would cheer him up, poor thing.

Friday, May 15, 2009


Here is how my morning went: My alarm clock went off right as the protagonist of my dream had learned a valuable life lesson and was shifting an old-fashioned phone back into its normal position, with a wry smile. This phone-and-wry-smile business was very crucial to the fairly elaborate plot of my dream, and although credits were about to roll anyway, I felt frustrated with my alarm clock for breaking in with talk about fixing arthritis right at this vital moment. I got up and switched off my alarm clock and found that I could not remember whether I had dreamed that bit about arthritis relief. I turned the radio back on, and a song was playing, nothing about arthritis at all, so I still have no idea whether the arthritis was in my imagination.

As I was brushing my teeth, I suddenly became seized with unhappiness because I had gotten to work two hours late and failed to finish this award nomination thing I’m doing, and been sent home in disgrace. I spat out my toothpaste disconsolately, worrying about getting fired, and then remembered that, no, that being sent home in disgrace thing didn’t actually happen in real life, it was only seven o’clock and there hadn’t been time for me to get there late and get sent home. I tried to remember whether I had had a dream where that happened, which, yes, I had, and that brought the dream all flooding back, along with a vague memory about needing to drive out to Bluebonnet for some reason later on today. I knew that wasn’t true – what’s out on Bluebonnet anyway?

I put in my contact lenses, got dressed, went downstairs, realized I’d forgotten my Julian of Norwich necklace, and went back upstairs for it. I couldn’t find it and couldn’t find it, and I was getting really upset, and then I realized that it was on my neck already. And then I remembered that I’d had a dream where I forgot my necklace and spent the whole day reaching for it, to play with the chain, and finding nothing there. And then I remembered that I do have to go out to Bluebonnet today, to deliver something important for work to an important Bluebonnet office.

I went back downstairs properly, and as I was getting my cereal, I discovered that my lovely roommate had made me yummy birthday chocolate stuff with “Happy Birthday” on it in icing. This was of course very pleasing, and because I did not want it to become infested with fruit flies (grrrr), I Saran-wrapped it and stuck it in the fridge. I went to pour my cereal, and as I was pouring it, I thought what a nice dream it had been to find that Megan had made me chocolate-iced brownies. No wait. That was real. No it wasn’t. I had to check the refrigerator because I couldn’t figure out whether it was real or not. (Yes, it was. Megan is nice.)

Oh, yes, and then when I got to work, I sat down at my desk, remembered something vague about two of my coworkers not coming in that day, remembered that it was a dream, and felt relieved because its being a dream meant that I wouldn’t have to answer phones by myself all morning. And then I checked my email and discovered it wasn’t a dream at all.

I find all this very confusing. I always have difficulty with dreams and real life, but not usually so much difficulty in one single morning.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Poor door.

There’s this old (or middle-aged maybe? I haven’t looked at her that closely) lady with a poodle in town, and she’s always taking her poodle for walks around campus. When I’m driving near the lakes, I often see her and her poodle out walking, and because the lady is I guess really reluctant to get wet, she always brings an umbrella on her walks, and the poodle has to carry the umbrella in its mouth. The poodle never looks any too thrilled about this. When they are stopped, waiting to cross a road, the poodle puts it down on the ground, and it always seems reluctant to pick it up again when they start walking. I feel sorry for the poodle.

Because I am sometimes sad, I have been assigned to stop noticing that I’m sad, when I’m sad, and instead pay close attention to things that are happening around me. This is a good strategy for not being sad at work, but it does give me other things to worry about. For instance, today I noticed that the lock on the bathroom stalls is bolted in with two bolts that look like eyes, and then a wide piece of metal that looks slightly like an animal face; and now when the door is bolted, if I tilt my head sideways, it looks like a sad-eyed creature is holding the door closed with its mouth. And I keep thinking of the poor poodle with the umbrella and how sorry I am for it, so I feel like I have to pee really really fast in order to minimize its suffering.

Fine, then, human tendency to anthropomorphize! YOU WIN THIS ROUND, but I WILL BE BACK. And I hope you noticed that I DIDN’T CARE AT ALL when my friend fed baby birds to her snakes but in fact thought it was a TOTALLY EXCELLENT STORY. So THERE.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Many different thoughts to think

So this weekend was slightly depressing. I got food poisoning or something, and I spent all day Sunday dealing with that (v. v. yucky) and trying to figure out how to cheer myself up from food poisoning, a difficult proposition as you will know if you have ever been food poisoned. Eventually I hit upon the ABC sitcom Better Off Ted, and that worked brilliantly for a while. But there are only seven episodes, and I had soon watched them all, and then I washed YouTube videos of Portia de Rossi being awesome, and then I finished doing that and I lay around on the couch for a while moaning miserably. Not much fun if you have ever done it. And then I decided to go to the library.

I love the library.

The library was mostly a success. I got some books about book publishing, about which I always want to know more things, and I got some books about books, which is fun. I decided which ones to get by looking at their indexes for authors I liked, and then quickly reading what they had to say about authors I liked. And if they said things like “Have His Carcase was tedious and awful, and Gaudy Night was pretentious”, or “The Horse and His Boy was racist and sexist and stupid”, or “Oscar Wilde was not a good writer and nobody really likes him”, I put them back immediately and stuck my tongue out at them. Whereas if they didn’t say anything like that, I checked them out.

(Oscar Wilde was a good writer, and everybody liked him.)

Anyway, on the way home, I was driving, driving, driving, and for the first time ever I was glad they put up that stop sign by the golf course. I had pulled to a stop at the stop sign, and a raccoon crossed in front of my car and trembled and waddled towards my front wheels. And it was a baby raccoon. It waddled so adorably. It had a little sweet face. It looked up at me beseechingly like it was saying, Please, Jenny, please do not kill me. I am too young to die. I have not yet begun to live. I have rooted in very few garbage cans. Please spare me.

Of course I could not drive forward with a teeny weeny little baby raccoon staring up at me with “Please spare me” eyes. The car behind me honked, and I quickly decided how it would go if the raccoon didn’t move, and didn’t move, and the car behind me got very angry. I would get out of my car and shoo the baby raccoon away. And perhaps that would not work, and the car behind me’s owner would get out and yell mean things like “CRAZY WOMAN DRIVER” and I would say “You know not whereof you speak! In front of my car is a tiny little baby raccoon! Its life has hardly begun! I cannot kill this tiny raccoon, and you shall not force my car to go forward to kill this teensy sweet baby animal!” It would be very dramatic and exciting. I would stick to my guns and not allow the raccoon to be destroyed. I would say “Shoot if you must this old grey head / but spare this raccoon from being dead”, except I would come up with a better rhyme at the end.

In the event, the raccoon waddled adorably away before the car behind me could honk any more. Phew.

Oh, and then? When I got home? I read a story on my friend’s Facebook wall that was the perfect counterpart to my raccoon event. See, apparently she went outside one day recently and found a bunch of baby birds that had fallen out of their nest and were chirping unhappily at her. If it had been me, I would not have known what to do with them, because I would have worried that I would mess up everything and do things totally wrong; but fortunately she was the one to find them, and she used to work for a veterinarian, so instead of freaking out and standing there staring at them in chagrin before eventually deciding to leave them alone and hope that the mama bird found them and everything worked out okay, she FED THEM TO HER SNAKES. Waste not, want not.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

I bought art!

I'm very excited about it. It's the first piece of original art I have ever bought all by myself. It is extremely beautiful. If you saw it you would be extremely impressed. It is by a local Turkish artist (yes, I know - he's Turkish, but he lives and works here), and he does some excessively beautiful metal sculptures. I liked all of them, but I liked one of them the very best, so after some hemming and hawing I eventually decided to get it.

Here is his website, Cetin Ates.

I a lot liked the one called "I want my life back" - with the man climbing up the key to get to the keyhole. It's very Dave McKeany. But the one I got is the second one down on the Gallery page, called "Busy Mind". I love it. I feel guilty for buying it because the artist said it was his favorite one too, and he said he wasn't going to sell it until his wife told him that it didn't make sense not to sell it. The picture doesn't do it justice. He has a keyhole in his chest, which I completely love.

Here are more of his sculptures also. Find the "Don Quixote" one. It's beautiful. But not as good as my one.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Casting about for something brilliant to say

You know how sometimes when you are talking to someone about something, you quickly run out of things to say about that topic? Like, I don't know, bricks. Here are some things I think about when I see bricks:

1. Why are some brick houses so ugly?
2. If I stole those bricks and got some planks from somewhere, I could make a bookshelf.
3. One time, Frank Gilbreth showed off his leet brick-laying skillz to his future in-laws.
4. That Ben Folds Five song that I didn't realize was about abortion until someone pointed it out to me, just another of many examples of me totally ignoring what song lyrics are plainly saying
5. The weird old-timey British compliment

Although all of these things run through my head when I see a brick, none of them are likely to lead to really good conversations. So if I am with you, and we get onto the subject of bricks, the conversation will probably trail off slightly.

Today I was walking with my father, and we were checking out dandelions, and I was thinking of things to say about dandelions. I told him how Mumsy correctly hypothesized that you would be more likely to get your wish if you blew from the bottom of the dandelion (by the stalk), and then I had nothing else to say about dandelions, so I was thinking about them, and it occurred to me it's very lucky for dandelions that people think blowing dandelions away will grant you a wish, because, ta-da! instant fertilization.

In fact, like, weirdly lucky for dandelions.

My Latin teacher used to tell us useful information that she said would save our lives someday (such as, hit a marauding alligator on its nose and poke its eyes and scream really loudly because it won't like that and will waddle away). So here is something that I thought of today that might save your life someday, and I told it to my father, and I am telling it to you, and I recommend that you pass it on to your friends and relations and possibly Homeland Security so that we can ALL BE PREPARED.

This wish business with the dandelions? I have used my deductive skills to deduce that it's an alien plot. Aliens, for some unfathomable alien reason, have a vested interest in ensuring the long-term prosperity of the dandelion. They have infiltrated Earth and spread this rumor about getting wishes, in order to ensure that dandelion spores are spread far and wide. So if ever you are walking around, and aliens land in front of you, and you are panicking because you are afraid that they are going to take you onto their ship and do bad things to you, here's what you do. (Don't smile - they might think you're baring your teeth.) You say, "Welcome to DANDELION LAND! Is it not glorious? We only regret that we do not have MANY MORE DANDELIONS to offer to you, our distinguished visitors!" And then they will spare your life.

You're welcome.

Monday, April 13, 2009

You may have heard

about the fact that has a quote unquote "glitch" (yes, I said "quote unquote" and then used quotation marks - this is redundant but I do it to indicate my skepticism that "glitch" accurately describes what's going on there) which causes books with content relating to GLBT issues to suddenly not be ranked on the Amazon ranking system anymore! Which causes them to slide way, way down the page, so when I do a search for Fingersmith, which I just finished rereading and thoroughly enjoyed, Amazon is like, What book is that? Do you by any chance mean all these other books and films that are not Fingersmith at all?

I know it's Easter Monday, and Amazon is doing its best, and it can't solve everything right away. I know this. I still feel angry anyway. What is your problem, Amazon? Sarah Waters, really? Really? You need to protect the public from the adult content in the books of a woman who has been nominated for the Booker prize twice? Really? And Jeanette Winterson? I don't know what to say to you, Amazon. You have done so much for me over the years, sending me Christmas gifts for my loved ones, and books for me to gloat over, and the first series of Doctor Who, and I have loved all of these things greatly. But STRAIGHTEN THE HELL UP.

(Ha, ha, straighten up. See how I made a funny? How I can make a funny in the midst of being really irritated?)

Yeah, Amazon, straighten up and fly right. I don't want to hear about any more of your shenanigans.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Doctor Who

When my sisters and I were small, and somebody we liked was about to leave, we used to attach ourselves to them to prevent it. Robyn and I would each sit on one foot and cling like monkeys, and Anna would launch herself from the side of the sofa to the adult's back, from which lofty position she would do her best to stop them from prying off Robyn and me. I recognized that, adults being larger and stronger than we were, we would probably not be able to stop them leaving by main force (a point, incidentally, that I think Anna failed to grasp). I did have this notion, though, that they just hadn't realized how much we wanted them to stay, and if we could show them, by our actions, the power of our love, the sincerity of our need for them to stay and not go, their hearts would be moved by our simple childish affection, and then they would stay longer.

I really, really wish that David Tennant wouldn't leave Doctor Who. But I am far too old to sit on his feet.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Prepare to be so, so jealous

What did you do Friday night?

Do not even bother to tell me what you did on Friday night. Whatever you did Friday night, it was not nearly as excellent as the totally legendary thing that I did on Friday night. On Friday night, I went with Robyn to Bongs & Noodles to get something, and while I was there, I realized that THERE WAS STARLAB.

If you never had StarLab, you missed out in a way that I cannot really even begin to explain to you. StarLab was the most amazing thing that ever happened to my elementary school self. It was this big, silvery inflatable dome that (in my day, though apparently not anymore) looked like it was made of duct tape. And your whole class would crawl inside and sit around the edges, while in the middle there was a projector, and it would project the night sky onto the ceiling of the dome. They could rotate it to show you the night sky at all different times of year, and if you were doing a mythology unit (we always seemed to be), they could connect the dots of the constellations, which again, if you haven't seen it, you can't appreciate how incredible this was. I have moped about how much I miss StarLab a number of times in my adult life, I can tell you.


And, yes, okay, it was not quite as legendary as it was when I was little, because the little children were screaming, and instead of stars they had a video about weather, but it was still pretty awesome. It was all cool and blowy inside, exactly like I remember, and the sides flapped up like I remember, and the video about weather went all over and up and around. Different, but mostly the same.

Incidentally, prior to the Bongs & Noodles guy assuring us that we were not too old for StarLab, Robyn and I also made lots of jokes like, Am I too big to go inside that? Which is another change from when I was little.