Saturday, March 14, 2009


They installed a left-turn signal at Claycut and Foster! HOLY SHIT.

I realize that there is a very, very, very small percentage of the population who cares about this, but to me it is a tremendous step forward. Not because it benefits me, as I hardly ever go that way, but I remember when I used to go that way, twice, every single day. I worked out past the library, so I went through the Claycut/Foster light, and I always felt terribly sorry for the poor slobs trying to turn left, as it was absolutely impossible.


Friday, March 13, 2009

Something that I wish guys would consider

I hate it when you are out walking and you walk past a group of guys and they are all laughing, and one or more of them makes a comment at you. I absolutely hate it when that happens. When I was much smaller and I would walk past a group of people I thought might be dangerous, I used to think that they would kidnap and kill me unless I sang exactly the right song. I had to figure out what it was, very fast before I walked past them, and sing it loudly, so that they would not kill me.

Although I have long since grown out of believing this to be true, I still start flipping frantically through songs in my head when I am scared of people. I also start inventing scenarios in my head about what I would do if they attacked me, even though I know they aren’t going to attack me. I have to make a specific effort to keep my head up and not walk faster, so they won’t think I’m afraid. While I am doing this, and trying to stop myself from feeling shaky, I am also feeling really, really furious because I am a nice and clever person with integrity and many good skills like playing guitar and reading Tarot cards, and setting boundaries and not putting up with people’s crap. But when this happens I am suddenly not really me anymore but instead some pathetic little rabbity person that I sort of despise, just because a bunch of guys are laughing and one of them has said, “Hey, baby, how you doing, come over here."

I always want to go over to them and say, “I don’t know if you are intending to be flattering, or insulting, or you just want to look suave in front of your friends. To me, however, it is scary. And ordinarily when someone says something to me that I don't like, I say something rude back to them; but I am afraid to do that now because you are bigger and stronger than me and I can’t control what you do. And I have been the victim of a crime before, and when you say these things I remember it, and I feel frightened when I remember it. So, please stop.”

I never do it, though.

Monday, March 9, 2009

People whose fault it is

So I just bought ninety books over the past few days, right? Of which about forty-two are books that I’ve never read before, but presumably I want to read them because I bought them. They are sitting in my living room in an appealing stack, waiting to be put on a shelf that has not yet been moved into my apartment because it is large and heavy and I’m not strong and I don’t have a truck or a dolly. And I decided very reasonably that what I would do is, I would read all the books I currently have checked out of the library, and when I had finished them, I would return them all, and when I had returned them all, I would start reading my nice new books. I figured this would take a little while because some of the books I have out of the library are huge and long, like the biography of Edward Murrow (which is awesome by the way), but that is not a big deal because my library book bazaar books belong to me and I do not have a deadline for reading them.

Today I returned three of the books to the library. I had read one of them a few days ago so it was well time to get rid of it, and I read the other two over the weekend. I felt like this was excellent progress on my part, bringing my total number of checked-out library books down from fourteen to eleven, a major step in achieving my goal of returning all of my books, a total library book reduction of just over twenty percent. And do you know what I did then? I went and checked out THREE MORE BOOKS. It was totally counterproductive, and here’s who I blame it on:

  1. Michael Sera for being funny in Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist and making me want to read the book and see how it compares.
  2. Kirkus Reviews for calling Thursday’s Children “goopy treacle” – you can shut your face, okay? – and comparing it unfavorably with some other book about dancing, rendering it necessary for me to check the other book about dancing out of the library to check that it isn’t better than Thursday’s Children, which I seriously doubt that it is. And anyway Thursday’s Children is not goopy treacle and it does have substance. And charm. So there.
  3. Also: the author of the other book about dancing, for being from Baton Rouge and writing about a book about a Louisiana girl. Way to make your book irresistible to me.
  4. My grandmother for taking me to Barnes & Noble one time and letting me loose to wander around, notice Merlin Holland’s excellent The Real Trial of Oscar Wilde, and fall into a mad and relentless obsession with Oscar Wilde, and subsequently into lesser but related obsessions with gender issues, sexual ethics, and the Victorians.
  5. Also: my therapist parents for talking about mental health all the time so that now I am obsessed with that too.
  6. Also: book blogs for writing appealing reviews that deal with Victorian-era women who are unhappy in their marriages and go see neurologists to help them deal with their mental issues.


(No, but really: thanks a lot. I am looking forward to reading these books. Especially the book about dancing because I am interested to see how it compares – not because I am determined to reject it in comparison with Thursday’s Children although I am certain that it won’t be as good – just because I like it when somebody compares two books and then I read them both and decide what I think. Like that time someone said Geek Love was a way better circus book than Water for Elephants and I read them both and decided I should just stick to Circus Shoes and never again venture out into the world of circus books.)

Thursday, March 5, 2009


I just bought the complete poems of Emily Dickinson at the Book Bazaar (along with about fifty other books), and here's what the inscription inside says:

I hope these words bring you peace and love and restore your joy in Christ.

I'm not trying to be unkind, because I'm sure the person who gave this book to her friend meant it kindly. But you know, if I were trying to think of a book that would restore a friend's joy in Christ, I'm not convinced that my mind would leap to Emily Dickinson.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009


March 4th, the only day of the year that's a command. I've decided that from now on, I shall celebrate this day by being really bossy.

I just glanced back through my blog entries for previous March 4ths, and they seem to revolve around the general theme of irrational thoughts I have thought of. In 2007 I was complaining about how I seem to have expected that British rain would not make me wet because it was not very strong. In 2008 I discussed the possibility that I had stigmata. And in the interests of continuing this tradition of chronicling silly things I have thought of on March 4th, I will tell a story that I was initially thinking was much too embarrassing to tell.

You know how sometimes you see T-shirts or bumper stickers or whatever that say to do something more? Like, I don’t know, Walk More if the car is owned by an environmentalist, or – or, I know, like that Improv Everywhere scene they did about Look Up More. You know what I’m talking about? Well, every time I see a bumper sticker for St. Thomas More, that’s what I think they’re saying. St. Thomas More. Like More St. Thomas! The world has a dearth of St. Thomas lovin’!

I have had more and more sympathy with St. Thomas as I’ve gotten older and older. If I went out to get pizza and beer, and then I came back to see my friends who were in hiding because they had been affiliated with a recently-executed political criminal type, and they were like OUR RECENTLY EXECUTED FRIEND JUST VISITED US AND HE IS BACK FROM THE DEAD, I would also not be inclined to believe them. I would probably say “Yeah, okay, guys,” and discreetly conceal the beer from them because I would think that whatever they were on, it would probably be better not to mix it with alcohol. I get the point Jesus was making about faith, but all the same I can’t help feeling that St. Thomas’s reaction was the only sane one for a person to have – and furthermore, I don’t think it’s nice for Jesus to be singling out St. Thomas and fussing at him, because none of the other disciples were taking anything on faith; they just happened to be there when Jesus showed up the first time.

I think Jesus may have had some other problem with Thomas. Maybe he was mad that Thomas didn’t come to dinner with the rest of the disciples the night Jesus was there; and sure, Jesus knew that Thomas probably just needed a break from spending tons and tons of time with all the disciples, and he knew it was unreasonable to be mad at Thomas for not being there when made his grand entrance, but he still felt kind of hurt even though it was irrational and he knew it was. So he came up with this business about blessed be those who have not seen and have believed?

(Oh my God, look at this Caravaggio picture – this makes me like Thomas even more. It’s a picture of him feeling Jesus’s wounds, and his facial expression is priceless. He’s like SHIT MAN I AM PRODDING YOUR RIGHT LUNG!)

But I like Thomas in general. I like it how Jesus is like “Y’all know where I’m going,” and Thomas is like, “Um, no, we don’t, dude.” And I like it how Jesus wants to go back to Judaea to see Lazarus all dead, even though the Jews tried to stone him there one time, and the other disciples are all We don’t want to, it is frightening, and Thomas is all, Come on, guys, act like proper disciples! Let’s DO THIS. And that’s all I can remember about Thomas. However, that is a lot of good qualities. Thomas asks questions when it is appropriate to ask questions, and he is not a wimp or an idiot like a lot of the disciples seem to be. (Oo, and I just looked him up on Wikipedia, and Wikipedia says Thomas was a total badass preacher going farther than ANYONE ELSE WENT. Everyone talks about Peter, but did he go to Persia and China? No. No, he did not.)

All this to say that when I see a bumper sticker that says “St. Thomas More”, I imagine that the owner of the car is promoting intelligent, critical, question-asking, but still enthusiastic, Christianity, essentially saying “Ask questions! You can do that and still become a saint! Liiiiiiiiiike Thomas!” Which I support! Hurrah for critical Christians! And then I think that if they made one bumper sticker like that, they must have made a bunch which means a bunch of people have them, and I start thinking how cool it would be if I could track down all the people who have that bumper sticker and we could get together and have meetings where we would moan about other Catholics who were making us look bad like THE POPE, and talk about how much we like Stephen Colbert, out there representing for smart Catholics, and have fun Bible study where they would tell me interesting facts like how the genealogy in the beginning of Matthew is implying that Mary was sexually suspect.

As you can imagine it is always rather a letdown when I look again and realize that’s not the point the bumper sticker is making.

Keyboard shortcuts

When I was a junior, I took this class called "Computer Applications" that was essentially all about teaching you how to use Microsoft Office. It was great. There were all these assignments to do, and you were supposed to do one every class period, but instead of that I did like six every class period until I ran out of assignments, and then for the rest of the semester, I would just print out a completed assignment at the start of class and spend the rest of the day reading up on whatever I was interested in just then - Scopes trial, French literature, whatever. This was before the Oscar Wilde thing happened unfortunately. Er, but anyway, the one thing this class did teach me - apart from reinforcing the lesson that IT IS AWESOME TO FINISH EARLY, which I have known since I was five but it is no longer any use to me now that I am a grown-up - is a lot of keyboard shortcuts. I am a keyboard shortcuts goddess.

Keyboard shortcuts are something like the elusive One Best Way my family is always pursuing, except that unlike the One Best Way, which is constantly under debate, keyboard shortcuts are indubitably much quicker and easier. Like when I discovered that Ctrl and K brings up hyperlinks, holy shit, that was a good day. I put hyperlinks in emails and Word documents all the time, and I used to hate it. NOW I LOVE IT. I'm just all, Ctrl K, Ctrl V, Enter, bam, done; and then I look around for a Staples button to emphasize the awesomeness (you cannot do Ctrl and K in Blogger although I deeply wish you could).

But sometimes keyboard shortcuts make my life hard. It more and more frequently happens that I accidentally press Ctrl and + at the same time. (The grey matter in my fingers evidently thinks this is funny.) For those of you who don't know, pressing Ctrl and + at the same time when you are on Mozilla makes the font bigger. I love that Mozilla has these handy shortcuts and everything but it freaks me the shit out when the font gets bigger. I do it without noticing ALL THE TIME, and then when I go back to Google and run a search (Alt and Home, I love you, Firefox), and discover that the font size is too big, I have a humongous internal tantrum. Like this: OH MY GOD GOOGLE IS RUINED SOMETHING HAS HAPPENED TO GOOGLE AND IT IS RUINED FOREVER MY PLEASING FONT SIZE IS GONE OH GOD OH GOD NOTHING GOOD WILL EVER HAPPEN AGAIN.

As you see I am very emotional about this. I use Google all the time, and it turns out I am deeply invested in maintaining its regular font size. I just can't press Ctrl and - fast enough, and then I have to collapse against my computer desk for a little while, in relief that the world has been restored to normalcy. I don't know why it's such a problem, as the font is the same; still, one size larger IT IS NO LONGER ACCEPTABLE.