Friday, March 31, 2006

Use The Force, Ted!

Ice Age: The Meltdown

Teddy got some Fandango Bucks as a birthday gift in December, and he used them today to take me to see Ice Age 2. I was surprised by how much I liked the first one, so I was pleased to be his date for the sequel.

I know there are people who are turned off by CGI, but I think it’s great when it’s done well—and without human characters (which are creepy and nightmarish, as far as I’m concerned). There are some scenes in this movie where the rushing water looks absolutely real. The animals’ fur moves with the breeze; you can see the individual hairs, and the sheen changes with the light and the ripple of the muscle underneath. It’s pretty amazing, and it’s done with skill and care so that there’s a real warmth to the characters. Ted noted that you could see the animals’ emotions in their eyes, and I agreed.

Blah, blah, blah. I like Queen Latifah, blah, blah. Not enough of Denis Leary, blah. Slightly annoying song and dance number featuring a bunch of sloths that reminded me of the one from Madagascar, only more out of place and awkward, blah, blah, blah.

What is unusual about this movie? Sex and heaven. You heard me. Manny, the mammoth, fears he might be the last of his kind. He meets another (who thinks she’s a possum) and mentions to her that it’s their responsibility to save their species. She asks how they can do that, and he says, “Well . . . you know . . .” in that Ray Romano voice, and then Ellie (Queen Latifah), the mammoth, says, “What? You’re hitting on me already?” I assume it went over the heads of the pre-school set, but Ted noticed it. It wasn’t a big deal, but I was surprised.

Also surprising was the scene at the end where the nearly dead Scrat finds himself in Heaven, and enters the acorn-y gates. Just as he’s about to reach for the enormous acorn that’s waiting among the regular acorns that are his for the picking, Scrat is pulled back to earth thanks to Sid, who’s given him mouth-to-mouth.

Now, I know death is common to many kids’ movies, from Bambie on up, but it’s the first time I can think of that Heaven was pictured in an animated kids’ feature. I don’t care, and am not put off or anything, but parents who weren’t prepared or didn’t note the PG rating (like at least half the people sharing the theater with us), were likely in for some discussion.

Not that there’s anything wrong with that, of course, but I bet there will be a lot of surprised parents.

Preview excitement: The Simpsons Movie! July 2007! Woo hoo! I read an interview years ago (with Matt Groening, I think) that said there wouldn’t be a movie until there was a good reason for one—that they wouldn’t just make a movie to make it. I hope that’s the case.

Also, have any of you guys seen the previews for the movie with all the singing/dancing penguins? What’s up with that? I can’t decide whether it will be cute and funny or as annoying as that wretched Hamster Dance.

I’ll go and see the movie about Over the Hedge (despite the fact that it features CGI humans along with the animals), because my boyfriend Steve Carell is in it. What? You didn’t know he was my boyfriend? Well. He is. So is Jack Black, who is hosting the Nickelodeon Kids Choice Awards tomorrow night. Guess what Teddy and I will be doing? It’s a bigger deal in our household than the Oscars or the Olympics.

I guess that’s it for this afternoon. I've been invited to see Seamus Kennedy at this place tonight. I know it'll be fun, but I'm feeling a little too fat and anxiety-riddled to run out and meet a bunch of new people. We'll see.

I have never written anything in one draft, not even a grocery list, although I have heard from friends that this is actually possible -Connie Willis

The sun was shining this morning when I woke up – and I’d slept long enough to have a dream – which meant Terzo slept from midnight till about five. Yay, Terzo! Yay, Mama! Yay, not being brain-dead!

When I dropped Primo off at preschool, Segundo wanted to stay. He's going there in the fall, and his "introductory" visit is scheduled for MOnday...there was only one teacher there today; the other was sick. But Ms. J told Segundo it’d be just fine for him to stay, and so I was left with only the baby for THREE. WHOLE. HOURS. What to do, what to do?

My next-door neighbor L and I decided a trip to the Strip District on this gorgeous day was in order, so we threw the two babies (her youngest E is 15 months) in the back of her van and tooled off.

First orders of business – Mac machine and coffee. These vital things accomplished, we proceeded to mow through the shopping like machine guns through butter. Or whatever the hell that metaphor is.

Second stop – the Greek store. L needed grape leaves and I found some very cool looking Greek milk chocolate/almond chocolate bars with pretty cherry-blossom wrappers.
Not that I read Greek…

and some of these mint and orange – straw-like chocolates, which looked like they’d been sitting on the shelf for years, but what the heck.

Then on to the first Italian store, where L bought olives and nuts, and I bought capicolla, pepper turkey, and fresh mozzarella.

Also some Italian bread, and this – to try. The Show-and-Tell this week has proved to be verrrrry dangerous.

While L ran back to the coffee store to buy Torani ginger syrup to make Italian sodas, I availed myself of the sidewalk flower vendor. We are having Segundo’s birthday party Sunday, and it’s always nice to have fresh flowers in the house, alongside the Thomas the Tank Engine decorations. I don’t think I have an appropriate vase, so I jammed them all into this blue one, and will maybe try splitting them up, cutting them shorter, and putting some in my grandmother’s Depression glass pitcher.

At the SECOND Italian store, I bought feta, to make tiropeta for breakfast for me for the week, and some of their yummy and astoundingly cheap biscotti – a “heavy” half pound of hazelnut for H, a “light” half-pound of butter-almond for me, and six chocolate-nut for the two older boys.

Then to the greengrocer, where I bought lettuce for salads this weekend. And two pounds of strawberries. I bought a pound at the grocery store earlier this week - their season is early and short - but Primo ate the entire pound over two meals. Also, I bought mangoes. Mangoes are H’s very favorite fruit, and at the grocery store they are usually at least a buck-fifty apiece. I bought this pallet o’ mangoes, ten, count ‘em, for five bucks.

And then we loaded all our goodies back up in the car, wishing for a pack mule or a manservant, and went home with our tired babies, to pick up our preschoolers, who were happily digging up potato bugs in the church yard.

And I leave you this glorious spring day with this photo, because is there anything cuter than my teething, fussy, backwards-scooching baby boy?:
“Nobody puts baby in the corner!”

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Chocolate isn't like premarital sex. It will not make you pregnant.

The quote is by Lora Brody. My alternate quote, attributed to ME, was, "Chocolate: It's what for breakfast!"

I think anyone who has been even skimming this blog for the past few months is well aware of my addiction to Green and Black’s milk chocolate with whole almonds chocolate bar. I felt like some sort of weird pornographer taking these photos for this show-and-tell. I get so EXCITED by good chocolate.

The most heavenly chocolate on the planet earth...damn straight! I don't usually like milk chocolate, but this...this is different.

The WHOLE almonds are key to flavor, texture, and crunch. Chopped almonds just don't do the same thing for me.

The front of the bar is simple and elegant. And as delicious as the back.

Now *you* know where my stash is - in my nightstand drawer. But no one other than me in this house knows. And I shamefacedly admit that I hide the wrappers.

No, I am not PROUD. But it's a sickness.


Thursday Show-and-Tell, courtesy of Blackbird

Go. Read. Now.

The following is an excerpt from Anne Lamott's excellent and thoughtful piece on Salon yesterday, Let's Have a Revolution! Does July 14 Work for You?"

I urge you to go read the whole thing, but at the very least read the excerpts below. She makes so much sense, and so much in this world just does NOT these days.

...maybe there is the chance of a calm, polite revolution, and perhaps in lieu of "divine love" we could use the idea of simple "kindness." Consider, just for the sake of argument, how good people, in a democracy that has been taken over by cold, rich, scary, armed white men, might proceed.

Good people who have watched their country's leaders skid so far to the triumphal right would have to do something. I mean, wouldn't they? Am I crazy? Otherwise, those people's children will ask them someday, when we are all living in caves, "What did you do to try and save us?" And the children will be so angry, and they are so awful and unpleasant when they are mad, even in the dark.

I, for one, do not want to answer that I did nothing, or that I ranted and flailed, showing up to support my own interest groups, candidates and concerns.

Instead, I think we should lay down our differences, and have a revolution....

We will just all come together. Bastille Day. Ix-nay on the cellphones and the speeches. Like Woody Allen said once before I turned on him, 80 percent of life is just showing up. We will show up and foment a loving revolution:... I just looked up "foment," to make sure that this is what I meant. It comes from the Latin "fomentum," which means a warm poultice. One of the definitions is to apply a warm cloth, dipped in warm water or medication, to a body that needs healing; and that is exactly what I meant.

I'm thinking noon-ish.


In kind of related news, I was so pleased and relieved to turn on my computer this morning and see that Jill Carroll, the freelance journalist for the Christian Science Monitor who was kidnapped in Iraq three months ago, has been released.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

The New York Post (Get it? Wow, am I funny!)

What can I say that you all don't already know about NYC? My favorite thing, I think, is that the city that never sleeps will serve you fresh pizza for breakfast. Ted's favorite thing is its proper appreciation for the importance of toys; he was impressed with the enormous Toys 'R' Us in Times Square, and spent a large chunk of his very own money buying a replica of a light saber in FAO Schwarz. See that stick-thing he's carrying in those pics up there? That's it. I have to admit that it's pretty cool, what with the light and sounds (you can't see the white tube in the dark, so turning it on and off makes it look like the "real ones", where the blade rises and falls), but he's been treating it like it's his Precious. I swear, he's been caressing it. He doesn't put it down, and was very much like a minor celebrity walking around with it in Central Park.

Ground Zero was very sad.

MoMA cemented a few things in my mind: 1.) Teddy's school is AWESOME--he knew a lot more about the some of the art than I did, and that is all thanks to his Art teacher. 2.) Teddy is now old enough to do the grown-up "audio tour" things, which is thrilling and rewarding to me. 3.) Teddy may know more about art than I do, but he's still my earthy, grounded, skeptical kid: "How can this slashed canvas be called art?" "I could paint a canvas all blue and frame it--would someone buy it from me?" "How is this art? It's a pink light in a corner!" :-)

The hotel was vaguely dodgy. There was no clock in the room, and I couldn't get the shower to hold to a steady temperature.

Car things:

Can you see this? The trip odometer reads just over 315 miles, and I still have more than a 1/4 of a tank of gas left. The Toyota Corolla may not be a cool car, but MY she is good on ze gas! I can't tell you how excited this made me. Well, I guess you can see that I was geeked enough to take a picture of it. :-)

Six hours in the car is nothing when Jim Dale is reading Harry Potter to you-it's like magic. (Yes, I know. I'm hilarious.

That's all for now. I'm off to read The Professor and the Madman (Oh, I read The Curious Incident while we were gone, and finished it this morning. I loved Christopher, and I appreciated the look from his point of view. Thanks, Andrea!)

Hooray for not going back to work until Monday!

Fudge-Covered Peanut Butter-Filled Pretzels in Vanilla Malt Ice Cream Rippled with Fudge & Peanut Butter

Snippets all over the place today:

Gina is home, calloo callay.

"Starbucks Coffee, to fit your every mood." This morning’s brew: a nonfat mocha latte, no whip. In case you cared. I had to weigh carefully the merits of throwing in a shot of peppermint syrup, or perhaps going the chai route, as I am exhausted this morning and could use the soothing warmth and gentle spiciness of a chai. In the end, caffeine and calcium won out.

I don’t know who writes the Post Gazette’s headlines, but they clearly missed the boat with this one: Did Putin plagiarize Pitt professors?. *I* would have said, “Perhaps Putin plagiarized Pitt Professors?” I mean, if you’re going to do something, you might as well do it right. Or go whole hog. Or whatever cockeyed expression I am reaching for here...

I used to be a college basketball fiend. (Diehard Duke fan, in case you are wondering. I still harbor a wholly inappropriate crush on Bobby Hurley.) Isn’t it funny how having children seriously distracts from VITAL SPORTING EVENTS like the NCAA Final Four?

Students at the library where I work call the study carrels “rooms. So they’ll come in and ask for “a room on the second floor.” Or “a room for three people.” And it makes me to laugh and laugh. I am so unprofessional. You don’t need to tell me.

I went for a walk this morning, with an eye towards training for a 10K race in the fall. The last time I planned something like this, I got pregnant with Terzo and gave birth the weekend before my half-marathon would have been run. The time before THAT, I trained for a triathlon only to discover that I would be ten weeks pregnant on the day of the event. I did it anyway. Segundo turned out ok, even if I finished DEAD LAST in the run portion because it was so hot and I was so exhausted. (I kicked butt in the pool though.)

When your legs/stomach/butt itches after you have exerted yourself doing something like walking or running, is that the fat burning? I’ve always wondered…

I just did a huge grocery shop and got home only to realize I had forgotten three vital things. Sigh. It’s naptime now – for Seggie and the baby, and probably for Mama as well. I did remember to buy some Green and Black’s chocolate with whole almonds, and two pints of B&J’s Chubby Hubby…so am set, for at least, oh , three days.

And speaking of Ben and Jerry’s, why is this flavor only available at their retail stores: Coconut Almond Fudge Chip (coconut ice cream with fudge chips and roasted almonds) - I mean, conveniently, one opened in Squirrel Hill a year or so ago, so I can get it there – but if I am going to Squirrel Hill specially for ice cream, I’ll just go to Baskin-Robbins for German chocolate cake ice cream, or for that matter, press on to Oakland, to Dave and Andy’s where they sell homemade-on-the-premises ice cream – and among their flavors is Almond Joy, coconut ice cream with chocolate-covered almonds…but if I can only get myself to the grocery store…why can’t I get coconut almond fudge chip to take home with me? As I tell Primo on a regular basis, life is not fair.

And one last thing – she blushes - in a moment of, shall we say, closeness this morning, I found myself composing a blog entry in my head. (This does not say *anything* about H; it does, however, say worlds about me. And no, I am NOT proud of myself.) What I need to know – am I the only fruitcake to do this? I mean, I’ve done it before, composing while walking around the zoo, or riding the bus to work, or watching TV with the boys…or, God forgive me, during church…but it seems like I have crossed the line with this one. To find myself composing posts in my head at the *most* inappropriate times…perhaps I should cut down on my blogging time.

Monday, March 27, 2006

“My idea of feng shui is to have them arrange the pepperoni in a circle on my pizza.”

OK, I know the slipcover is falling off the couch. and that it's ugly. I know that my house is a mess. But can someone PLEASE help me rearrange this stupid living room so it doesn't feel like a college dormitory?

Here are the pics. Converse amongst yourselves. We''ll reconvene shortly.


In other news, Segundo is telling Terzo stories. Here's a sample:

"Do you want to hear a story, little Terzo? Yes?
Once upon a time, Terzo spit up. The end!"

Terzo is doing the on-the-knees, rocking thing that is a precursor to crawling.

And Segundo and I baked chocolate chip cookies this morning. Go on, you can drool.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

In letters we can reform without practice, beg without humiliation, snip and shape embarrassing experiences to the measure of our own desires.

I called Gina’s home number this morning to see if she wanted to get together for coffee this afternoon, hang out, play with my tablet PC, and exchange books (I just finished Ella Enchanted and she must read it right now). When she hadn’t called me back in about half an hour, I called her cell. Because I am sort of stalker-ish that way.

Deep breath.


And how am I meant to get through this week? Gah! I am pathetic.


I was hunting down versions of the story of the three little pigs for a patron on Saturday when I realized – doh! –that our library has quite a nice little children’s section, containing many kids’ books I am interested in reading. I was halfway through Ella Enchanted by the end of my lunch hour. Read it. It’s adorable, and funny, and Ella is a terrific and strong heroine. A MUCH better version of the old Cinderella tale than Disney’s.
I also checked out (of the library) Cornelia Funke’s The Thief Lord, Sharon Creech’s Walk Two Moons, Laurie Halse Anderson’s Speak (because I liked her Fever very much), and two EL Konigsburgs: Silent to the Bone, and The Outcasts of 19 Schuyler Place, because I think Konigsburg is a brilliant writer, right up there with Ellen Raskin. I also, God knows why, really, got out a book called Children of the Flames: Dr Josef Mengele and the untold story of the twins at Auschwitz, but I have a feeling this is going to be one of those books I have a very tough time reading.
There are many other books I want to read there – I actually went looking for Frindle first – but hey, they’re not going anywhere. And hopefully neither am I. (Except to maybe Bethlehem, but...shhhh....I can't talk about that right now.)



I spent more than an hour this afternoon at the coffee shop trying to figure out why my tablet could see and connect to the wireless network but the browser could not. Then some red-haired angel of a man in horrible shoes came along, fired up a DOS window, typed in a command, pinged, and there we were. Ahhhhhh.

My niece K’s eighth birthday party was last night. Is it appropriate to drink appletinis at a birthday party for children? The theme was “Wicked,” and all the kids got little green goodie bags full of things like green M&Ms and green beads. The adults got appletinis. I don’t know, this seems fair to me.

I showed up at 6:30, after work, ate dinner and cake, nursed the baby, and took him home by 8. Segundo said to me that he wanted to go home with me but when the time came for me to vamoose (i.e., when my MIL had driven me far enough up the frigging wall), he was down in the basement playing with the other kids, so I left him there with his dad and Primo. Apparently the mother of all tantrums ensued. And H and I recall now that for Primo, it was not so much the Terrible Twos as the Terrible Threes. God help us all. Seggie turns three next Saturday.

It’s official – I have another sinus infection, coupled with an ear infection. I am sucking down amoxicillin AGAIN, and Afrin – but have been sternly warned by my sweet and oh-so-young doctor to not take it for more than three days because it’s addictive. If she were to tell me that about my chocolate addiction, perhaps I could drop some of the weight?

“Everyone” is saying that Mary Winkler was “the perfect wife.”
That scares me.
What possesses anyone to try to be the perfect wife?
I suppose only time will tell. If we ever find out.
(*I* wouldn’t want to be the perfect wife. Good, yes, but perfect? No. That’s just - scary. And leads to things like homicide. Or Yatesian acts of horror.
I’ll settle for being a flawed but *try*-ing wife. (And I do not mean trying in that sense of the word. Sigh. Most days.))

I hate weekends for bloggers. Everybody else apparently has a life. I? Do not. Weekends are when I have the most time to blog. And read blogs. Sigh. Can’t you accommodate ME for a change?

Friday, March 24, 2006

Spring is sprung, the grass is riz. I wonder where the birdies is.

List Friday, courtesy of Pomegranates and Paper

This week's list: Personal Fruition through Binging and Purging


Things to Be Rid Of

I have actually been really good about purging unwanted and unneeded crap around here lately. Nonetheless –

  1. Some toys. No child needs that many toys. And they all lie around the floor at the same time and get stepped on and make me nuts.
  2. The guilt I carry around for working and wanting time away from my little guys
  3. The one nursing bra that drives me bats and doesn’t fit right but cost a lot of money
  4. The pair of pants I bought in a fit of fat that are waaaaaayyyy too big for me, even just to lounge around the house in. I must ignore the fact that they are practically brand new and have been only worn twice.
  5. The broken laundry baskets - what can I say, I am a child of Depression-era parents. You NEVER throw anything away. You make do.
  6. The excess weight clinging to my hips, butt, and thighs
  7. This freaking, neverending, winter-long sinus infection
  8. The peppermint mochas. As soon as it’s warm enough, I’ll start drinking iced lattes and frappucinos. I WANT spring.
  9. All the drab colored shirts I own. I went thru a phase where I only bought brown, black, grey, or navy. I don’t want to be Doris Day but I could use some pinks, pale greens, maybe even a pale blue? I mean, let’s not go nuts, but still…many people lately have told me how nice I look in pink….growl…but they’re RIGHT.
  10. The stupid miserable cat that I HATE. Yeah, I know I won’t but oh how I long to!
  11. The stupid and ugly slipcover on the couch; but at least it covers the stained, worn, migraine-inducing plaid
  12. This unfortunate tendency to pee just a tiny lttle bit every time I sneeze really hard or cough really hard. I Kegeled, I did, neverendingly, but it didn't do diddly.

Things to Obtain

  1. An eyelash curler, preferably that crazy brand that sounds like Shu Oumori that both Badger and my friend L swear by
  2. A pair of jeans that fit, look good, and are comfy – yeah, good luck with that. The new jeans I just bought last week? Look all right but are not that comfy. See number 5.
  3. A bus pass
  4. Books – of course
  5. More Green and Black’s milk chocolate almond bars, because I ate the last of my stash last night
  6. A new TV cabinet, sort of like an armoire type so it looks nicer and so I can stop worrying about this IKEA piece of crap collapsing on top of my children.
  7. A dining room hutch/china cabinet so my pantry can be fully the pantry and not also platter and plate storage.
  8. A sporty spring coat, preferably pink, even though I can’t really see myself wearing pink. Camel might do.
  9. A cute spring purse
  10. Some flippy, sporty, swishy new spring skirts – or if I lose that weight I can just live in my jean skirt and that would be fine too.
  11. A haircut and color, and some professional eyebrow shaping
  12. Time to run a few times a week so I can train for this 10K I want to do in the fall and thereby lose lots of weight in the bargain. I am so much happier when I am running regularly.
  13. A nice new set of some-pale/neutral-colored sheets, at least 300-thread-count
  14. A new bottle of Bath and Body Works lemon verbena perfume, and maybe some classic Liz Claiborne. I like to have two or three to switch around through. Because my French drugstore stuff (Les Senteurs orange-cinnamon, in that gorgeous blue bottle) has to last till I can get to Paris again.
  15. Oh, what the hell - a trip to Paris.

A Day Late with the Windows

It just occurred to me that I have a camera (albeit a crappy one) in my phone. Here, then, is a picture of the windows in my office. I know it's dark, but note the opulence and glamour one becomes accustomed to when working in public radio.

"In the light of the moon a little egg lay on a leaf."

Once there was a very hungry Terzo bambino.

He had slept and slept and slept and when he woke up at seven, he was very hungry.
He nursed well, both sides.
Then he burped.
But he was still hungry.

Then he ate a big big bowl of barley cereal.
And then he burped.
But he was still hungry.

Then he ate a container of applesauce, and he was still hungry, so he ate a leftover half container of applesauce, and then he burped.
But he was still hungry.

So then his mama mashed an entire freaking banana for him, which he gobbled all the way up.
And then he burped.
And cried a little bit and grabbed for her oatmeal.
So she gave him a biter biscuit.
And then he burped one final time.

And he was not hungry anymore.

At least, not until lunch!

And someday he will be a beautiful linebacker.



Poor H has been getting angry emails at work each morning this week – first it was the wailing baby debacle, and now this:

I wonder what has become of my white plastic measuring spoons? I
have my they are ALL gone, apparently into the Bermuda Triangle of kitchen tools...and I can tell you right now that you can either have a wife who happily cooks yummy meals using her full complement of tools which she has carefully assembled over the years (and if that means FOUR ENTIRE sets of measuring spoons, well, the pot who owns SIX guitars can call the cooking kettle black all he wants!), OR you can have children playing with way more measuring spoons than they could possibly need and losing them all over the house.
You cannot have both.
I am just saying.
I had to reclaim my plastic measuring cups this morning.
I DO NOT want them using MY kitchen utensils, I don't know how much more clear I can make this point to our babysitter R, the boys Primo or Segundo, or anyone else concerned. And yet I am constantly finding things gone missing from my kitchen stuff.
And it makes me VERY grumpy.


I stopped at the coffee shop yesterday very quickly for a double-shot latte, because I NEEDED the caffeine, and started talking to a woman who is looking for a bridge fourth. She has a group of friends who get together to play occasionally. They do pinochle too. She gave me her email, because I thought H would be interested. She's a Cornell alum, which I discovered because I asked where she went to college since, you know, us *non*-Ivy types just played quarters in college.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Never run after a bus or a man. There will always be another one.

Things you notice while riding the bus, that you might not otherwise:

Many, MANY men have bald spots. I wonder if *they* are aware of this?

That cool-looking building I always thought was a synagogue, next to the Rodef Shalom synagogue (I know, I know…)? It’s not – it’s a Byzantine Catholic church. Complete with a BVM. How did I miss that?

Pointy-toed boots are actually pretty dang ugly. Especially the ones with the seam right down the middle of the wearer’s foot.

There is a Korean deli/store on Fifth Ave with a sign for “Ass Noodles” in the window. I guess it’s a legit brand, but all the signs are in Korean, so all *I* see is the cute little image of a girl slurping up noodles and a big banner proclaiming “Ass Noodles!” next to her smiling face. (It made me think of Badger. I can’t imagine why.)

If you wear hijab, your bangs can’t show. And I look awful without bangs. Not that I wear hijab, I’m just saying.

Even people who look like total losers are often on cell phones on the bus and end their calls with an “I love you,” so they can’t be total losers, regardless of how dorky/geeky/slovenly dressed they are.

The forsythia is budding.

Thank God for text messaging cell phones to ward off bus boredom. Because I can’t read on the bus, I get motion sickness. Which is a real disappointment.

I am apparently the only person in the Western Hemisphere who actually uses CASH to pay her bus fare.

And my shoes are in desperate need of a good polish.


If you are not smart enough not to fake-tan yourself orange, you are probably not really smart enough to be in college.


My friend at the library just lent me his copy of EL Doctorow’s The March. I was kinda, sorta interested in reading this, and then it fell into my lap. So I will read it and report back. I really need to finish The Left Hand of Darkness, although the circ guy just renewed it for me, even though it was OVERDUE. I do love working in a library - the silliest perks make me happy.

And I am halfway through Speed of Dark which I am loving so much I never want it to end.

Andrea brought me The Plague and another Black Death book, and then I had to go home and dig out my copy of Daniel Defoe’s Journal of a Plague Year, and then several people on the blog recommended other plague-y books. I have a serious infectious-diseases fetish. It’s a sickness.


My Show-and-Tell windows are coming tomorrow. I’m sorry for the delay. I swear I am not being passive-aggressive about the day. It’s just that, by the time I got the boys all breakfasted and dressed and off to preschool this morning, and then packages packed up and laundry started and dinner for tonight cooked, and everything else that required doing today, minus of course taking myself for a nice run, I left the house without the camera and just in time to hop on my bus, so I will photograph tomorrow. Primo can help and he’ll really enjoy that, as he asks each week what the show-and-tell topic is.


Last night I went out with Andrea, to drink and eat disgusting but good food at the Sharp Edge – yay, buffalo bites! and chill. I had a few drinks, got mildly toasty, was much relaxed…and then I went home. As I opened the front door, I heard Terzo wailing, in that I-have-been-crying-so-much-I-can’t-catch-my-breath sort of way. Hiccup, hiccup, sob, pant, pant, pant, wail…repeat. I ran upstairs, my pleasant buzz forgotten, picked him up from his crib, patted him, rocked him – he wasn’t really hungry, he just must have woken up and gotten scared. Where, you might ask, was H? You MIGHT ask, because I certainly freaking did. And he was: sleeping peacefully upstairs on the third floor, door closed, humidifier on, nary a baby monitor in sight. He would not have heard an attacking horde of barbarians, much less a wailing baby. Or a three-year-old falling out of bed. Or a five-year-old having a nightmare. Or an axe murderer creeping - or for that matter, STOMPING - in to steal my children and sell them away into white slavery. He’s lucky *I* wasn’t an axe murderer, or he’d have been minus a few limbs.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

“If thine enemy wrong thee, buy each of his children a drum” - Chinese proverb

Book snippets:

I’m not an author, but I totally dig this idea of plucking five books randomly from your shelves, just because. I wasn’t so random; I had Primo do it. But still. I notice he didn’t even touch the fiction collection.
Five books picked randomly from my shelves:

- The Girlfriend’s Guide to Getting Your Groove Back - Vicki Iovine
- The Essays – Francis Bacon
- Scientific Progress Goes “Boink” – Bill Watterston
- The Elizabethan World Picture – EMW Tillyard
- The Formation of the Irish Economy – edited by LM Cullen

Go on, you try it.


A student came looking for Albert Camus’ The Plague today at work. I can’t believe this book slipped under my bubonic plague/infectious disease radar. Must go read it IMMEDIATELY. Unfortunately, she checked out the only copy. At home we own The Stranger in French but no Plague. Thank God, I just emailed Andrea, and she has a copy she is going to bring when we go out to gorge on buffalo bites this evening. I know, I am a freak.


As soon as I am done Speed of Dark, I will move on to The Plague and then my freebie copy of a book called The Bowl is Already Broken by Mary Kay Zuravleff. An editor from Picador Press emailed me, through the blog, to see if I wanted a review copy of this book that is “…somewhere between I Don't Know How She Does It, an homage to Rumi, and a vivid reimagining of the real-life antics that often go on behind closed museum doors…”. What’s that? A free book? Bring it on! I hope it’s good.


Primo and I have been reading and detecting in Graeme Base’s The Eleventh Hour. Do you know it? It’s a picture book about an elephant named Horace who prepares a great birthday feast and invites a ton of his animal friends. But while they are all playing games and having fun, someone eats all the food for the feast. And you have to figure out who, using clues hidden throughout Base’s gorgeous and detailed illustrations. The solution is in a sealed page at the back of the book, but I’ve owned this book for close to twenty years and refuse to peek. I’ve never really tried to solve the mystery before; we are having a blast. I need to look up Morse code to translate one of the puzzles. Primo is working on the pictograph puzzle right now.



Tomorrow is Take Your Bowie Knife to Work Day.

I know where I am doing ALL my Christmas shopping next year, thanks to Mimi Smartypants. I made the mistake of looking at this while at work, and laughed so freaking hard I nearly peed myself. Just a word to the wise.

Primo has been drumming all day. Not content with the drum set Santa brought him two years ago, he has augmented it with a pair of bongos, a big plastic drum that originally contained all sorts of plastic musical instruments, and an overturned sand bucket. Favorite song of the moment: Oasis’ “Don’t Look Back in Anger.” It could be worse, it could be a thumping bass. Or Guns ‘n’ Roses.

The right side of my face is greatly paining me. Either it’s the ear infection I am sure is brewing, or one of my wisdom teeth is coming in. If it’s the wisdom teeth, I will have the choice of 1) having it removed, thereby jeopardizing feeling in my lower jaw possibly for the rest of my life as the roots are wrapped around the nerves in my jaw, which is why I didn’t have them removed before I got braces, OR 2) leaving it be, thereby jeopardizing thousands of dollars worth of orthodontal work AND my liver – due to the huge amounts of Tylenol I have been forced to consume over the past week.

Isn't today the third day of spring? (I always thought spring was March 21? Was it the 20th this year because it's a leap year? *Is* it a leap year?) At any rate - it's grey, it's cold (34 degrees last I checked), it's SNOWING. In other words, it's NOT SPRING. Grrrrrrrr.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

When You See Him, Stop and Think . . .

Mr. Yuk is mean and green, and today he is 35. I had no idea he was born the same year as me, but it makes me irrationally happy. You can click here if you want to hear his song--and even order some free stickers!

Monday, March 20, 2006

Va Va Voom

I feel like I have lots to report, but I bet I don’t come up with much now that I have time to write things down.

Things you should know:

Teddy does indeed have sleep apnea. This isn’t good, of course, but I have every reason to believe he will be fine. We have to go back to the ENT doctor to see what’s next, and in the meantime he’ll sleep with me. He doesn’t mind, and I can thump him if I need to. The sleep study showed that he had three incidents of apnea; two were “obstructive”, meaning that something’s getting in the way of his breathing. The other episode was “centralized”, which means his brain took a break from sending the signal to tell his lungs to breathe. I don’t think it’s as horrible as it sounds, because the . . . episodes, we’ll call them, were very, very brief. He didn’t need any stimulation or intervention. And his levels of oxygen, etc. didn’t get anywhere near dangerous.

I’m hopeful that the ENT doc will tell me he’s fine and will grow out of it. Otherwise? I’m getting one of those baby monitors that sets off an alarm when it detects that too many seconds have gone by without a breath. And Teddy will take that to college with him. And on his honeymoon. And to his retirement home.

The good news in all this, if there is any, is that I am NOT crazy. Small consolation, I know, but I’ll take it where I can get it.

Now, on to frivolous things. Because I like the frivolous. (And I’m not adding links, because I’m lazy, and because Ted wants me. Sorry.)

I saw V for Vendetta this weekend. I went right after work on Friday, all by myself. Do you do this? Do you go to movies by yourself? I kind of like it—it makes me feel so very independent. I had my book with me, so I read until the lights went down, and then I watched the movie, which was enjoyable in the way that unpleasant, dark, violent things can be enjoyable. And Natalie Portman is lovely and her little accent is charming and I wish I looked like her. My only complaint came near the end, when there was an extended Matrix-like stylized violence that made me yawn. I’m too old for that crap.

I also watched In Her Shoes this weekend, with the cable’s On Demand feature (which I really like, by the way). In Her Shoes is a total girl movie, but in a good way. I admit to liking Cameron Diaz, although I know a lot of people don’t. And Toni Collette is awesome—I wish she would hang out at my place and eat pizza with me.

The movie isn’t as good as the book, but the things that were cut out were very efficient and didn’t damage the story at all. There was one odd moment, where Rose and Simon are talking with some guys after a basketball game—it was awkward and didn’t advance the story or plot at all, and that was my only real beef. Oh, and I really liked the guy who played Simon. His name is Mark Feuerstein, and he reminds me of My Professor Love (BB knows who I mean). Where do I get one of those?

That's about it, I think. I'm off to cuddle up with the boy and watch Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends, which I admit to liking at least as much as Teddy does.

Happy Spring!

The year's at the spring And day's at the morn... - Robert Browning

H’s Cousin S is getting married in June. She’s an adorable, smart, funny, and nice woman, although I think the family had resigned themselves to her being unmarried – because, you know, at 37, she’s clearly ancient and well over the hill! But she started dating this guy like, oh, yesterday, and then they got engaged, and lo and behold they will be married very soon. All in whirlwind fashion. Her bridal shower was Sunday, and I actually looked forward to attending as this is the OTHER side of H’s family, with whom I enjoy being, because most of them are as smart-ass and witty as I am, which is no mean feat, I assure you. In case you were wondering.
There were family intrigues and scandals galore to discuss. Cousin D was NOT invited to H’s mom’s birthday party. (We’ll just call her Mom P.) Neither was Mom P’s SISTER. Because the official hosts – my Perfect sister-in-law and H’s brother – picked and chose the guests. And sometime in the past Cousin D offended them somehow – maybe because D had a boob job about the same time Perfect SIL did? And Mom P’s sister is a bona fide freak, with a strange husband and an even stranger son. But still… she’s her sister….. And Aunt B’s son and his wife are having a baby in June. Wow! Everyone thought Aunt B’s son was gay until last year when he sprung his engagement on us. And Aunt B’s other son is on his second broken engagement and has a new girlfriend – at least as of today, as Aunt B told us. And did Cousin J have a boob job too? [Good Lord, people, am I the only person in the universe – or at least this family – that has NOT had cosmetic surgery?] And what color will Cousin S’s hair be this time? At any rate, all was delicious gossip and whispering and laughing. Great fun. Nobody on this side of the family takes themselves all that seriously, which is VERY refreshing. Also, I am *not* constantly reminded that I married in and therefore must keep my mouth shut. I am a real, included part of this side of the family. Which is why I love them so and wish we saw more of them.
Cousin D, who lives in Florida, and her sister and her mom came home with me after the shower, so they could see H and the boys, and our house which is still “the new house,” and they stayed for dinner. We went through several bottles of wine and had a really good catch-up. Plus, they all raved about the house, so maybe it’ll help H a little to know that our house is not QUITE the disaster area he thinks it is. I look forward to the wedding in June. I’m pretty sure we will get an overnight sitter and stay after the wedding. Should be a great time.


I never ever know what to get H for his birthday. He couldn’t care less about clothes, he already has a ton of books and unlike me is not obsessed with having more, and I don’t know enough about guitars to pick out an appropriate guitar-related gift. This year I signed him up for pottery classes at the Union Project. They were this past weekend, Saturday and Sunday mornings. They taught him to prepare the clay, balance/center it on the wheel, and throw a pot. He LOVED it. Turns out the UP offers studio and kiln time - good thing, as I am certain H is interested in doing this regularly, and found it relaxing. I was so happy to have given him something he really loved. Even if I do keep envisioning that scene in "Ghost"...


I am in an irrationally good mood this morning, following a week of every. Little. Thing. Pissing me off. By last Friday even my clothes were driving me nuts: I couldn’t stand the feel of the fabric on my skin. Grrrr. But as so often happens, this morning I woke up cheerful, happy, and irrationally sunny. (It should last about a week.)
Segundo, Terzo, and I walked up to the coffee shop this morning. I needed serious caffeine. It is still cold here, but spring is most definitely in the air, and the sun was out. The crocuses and daffodils are coming up, my lilac and magnolia are budding, there are robins about – it just needs to get warm. And soon. On the other hand, as long as it is cold, I can disguise my fat and flab under sweaters and baggy pants. Shorts and bathing suits are unforgiving. Oh who cares? Bring on the spring!


I read Jennifer Chiaverini’s The Sugar Camp Quilt over the weekend. I always *think* they are fluff, until I read another one and get caught up in the fun quilting details, and the abolitionist history she weaves throughout her books, and I totally dig the fact that her heroines all talk like Jane Austen characters. This one was all about the Underground Railroad, and featured characters who had been minor characters in previous books. A good weekend read.

Per Badger’s instructions, I began Elizabeth Moon’s Speed of Dark this weekend. I can already tell it’s going to be another Wow! kind of book. Again, incredibly compelling and empathic characters; a little sci fi; a little romance: perfect, so far. You certainly can pick ‘em, Badge.
I got into a conversation with another regular at the coffee shop about Motherless Brooklyn -- she had just read it, along with Curious Incident. So I told her about Speed of Dark and she seemed very interested. Turns out her thirteen-year-old son has Tourette’s, which falls on the autism scale, and she has read everything she can get her hands on about the autism/PDD spectrum. She especially likes Motherless Brooklyn because it gets inside the head of the Tourette’s sufferer and can help a “normal” person – like her son’s teachers - understand better what the affliction really is. I had a fascinating discussion with her regarding what we knew about the experience of the author, and how he explored the mental processes of the Touretter. (I don’t know what the proper phrase is…?) Her son is just a little too young to read the book yet, but she plans to give it to him when he’s older. She did, however, read parts of it to him, and she said it was amazing to her to watch as her son *got* that other people have this thing too. He’s not alone, he’s not "just a freak."

Books are wonderful things.


Segundo keeps slamming the guest room door and getting stuck inside because he can’t wrench open the old, warped door. He’s making me nuts. I don’t WANT to spend my days running up and down the steps to release him. Yet he freaks out once he realizes he CAN’T open the door. Sigh. Kids – can’t live with ‘em, can’t give ‘em to the gypsies.

And Primo has taken to using “Boomie!” as a curse word. It’s what his grandmother says when one of the boys falls down – even if one of the boys is her thirteen-year-old grandson. It makes me (admittedly irrationally) nuts. And so, great, now Primo says it too.

Cold Kraft macaroni-and-cheese tastes just like the cardboard box in which it comes.

H spilled AN ENTIRE BOTTLE of breast milk yesterday afternoon. Our microwave now has fabulous immunities. And I thought I was going to have to kill someone.

And Terzo has a tooth coming in. Whiskey all around, please!

Saturday, March 18, 2006

What can you ever really know of other people's souls...? - CS Lewis

[If Babelbabe were a college subject, and you majored in it, more fool you, these are some of the required reading texts. They are subject to change, and the bookstore may not carry all of them.]

Childhood, or: I Was an Awkward Child
Roller Skates – Ruth Sawyer
Emily of New Moon/Emily Climbs/Emily’s Quest – LM Montgomery
Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm
The Katy books – Susan Coolidge
Every Trixie Belden ever written
The Cat Ate my Gymsuit – Paula Danziger
The Grounding of Group Six – Julian Thompson
Below the Salt – Thomas Costain
Came a Cavalier – Frances Parkinson Keyes
The Wind in the Willows – Kenneth Grahame
The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood – Howard Pyle
Little Women/Little Men/Eight Cousins – Louisa May Alcott
Madeleine L’Engle’s fiction for children: Time trilogy; also Camilla, And Both Were Young, The Arm of the Starfish, and the Austin books

Education, or: How I Learned to Read What I Read
Satanic Verses/Midnight’s Children – Salman Rushdie
Robber Bride/Blind Assassin/Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood
Possession/ the Frederica Potter quartet - AS Byatt
Cloud Atlas – David Mitchell
Red Noses – Peter Barnes
Arcadia – Tom Stoppard
Works of John Donne
Essays of Francis Bacon
Animalia – Graeme Base
Lolita – Vladimir Nabokov
Pride and Prejudice/Northanger Abbey/Sense and Sensibility – Jane Austen

Religion, or: How Christianity Screwed Me Up
Ethan Frome/House of Mirth – Edith Wharton
My Fundamentalist Education: A Memoir of a Divine Girlhood – Christine Rosen
Virgins – Caryl Rivers
The Small Rain/A Severed Wasp – Madeleine L’Engle
Phillip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy
The Red Tent – Anita Diamant
The Bible, King James Version

Relationships, or: Nobody’s Perfect
A Big Storm Knocked It Over – Laurie Colwin
In Watermelon Sugar – Richard Brautigan
Jitterbug Perfume – Tom Robbins
The Alexandria Quartet – Lawrence Durrell
Spending – Mary Gordon

Family, or: Why I Have an Excellent Therapist
The Mask of Motherhood: How becoming a mother changes our lives and why we never talk about it – Susan Maushart
The Shell Seekers – Rosamunde Pilcher
Brain, Child magazine

Career, or: I Didn’t Have the Energy to Go to Med School
Ambulance Girl – Jane Stern
When the Air Hits your Brain – Frank Vertosick
The Coming Plague – Laurie Garrett
The Corpse Had a Familiar Face – Edna Buchanan
How Reading Changed my Life – Anna Quindlen
Ex Libris – Anne Fadiman
The Polysyllabic Spree – Nick Hornby
The Library – Sarah Stewart
Chicago Style Guide, 14th edition

Pastimes, Hobbies, and Interests, or: Just Because I Enjoy Reading about Mt Everest Doesn’t Mean I Want to Climb It!
Shark! Unpredictable Killer of the Sea – Thomas Helm
Eiger Dreams/Into Thin Air – Jon Krakauer
In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex – Nathaniel Philbrick
The Runner’s Handbook – Bob Glover
The City of Florence – RWB Lewis
Home Cooking/More Home Cooking – Laurie Colwin
The Persian Pickle Club – Sandra Dallas
Jaws – Peter Benchley
Voyage of the Narwhal – Andrea Barrett

Viscera, or: The Essence of Me
Stones from the River – Ursula Hegi
The Sparrow – Mary Doria Russell
All of Josephine Tey
The Salterton trilogy – Robertson Davies
The Secret Garden – Mary Hodgson Burnett

Friday, March 17, 2006

Things to Read If You Want to Major in Gina

Okay, this list? I could do this all day, but I shouldn't. These are the off-the-top-of-my-head things that hit me as I was sitting in class last night--I actually wrote them in the notebook I was supposed to be using for notes about the Journals of the Continental Congress.

The list is sloppy, and some things show up in more than one category, and I don't list authors because I think they're pretty obvious. (That makes me sad, though, because it means I'm too vanilla.) However, I'm thinking that the slap-dash-edness of this list means it's fairly true to who I am. You know? Here goes . . .

Religion, Part 1 (Or “Man, Oh Manischewits!”)

Starring Sally J. Freedman as Herself
Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret
Summer of My German Soldier
Anne Frank’s Diary
The Red Tent
Roosevelt and Hitler
Jews, God and History

Religion, Part 2 (Or “Go Fish”)

Madeleine L’Engle—the fiction and the non-fiction
Crime and Punishment
The Screwtape Letters
No Exit

Sex (Or “Gee, No Wonder You’re So Messed Up!”)

Blue Skies, No Candy
Flowers in the Attic
My Sweet Audrina
Go Ask Alice
Various Chick Lit

Feminism (Or “Anything Boys Can Do, I Can do Better”)

Where the Girls Are
Harriet the Spy
Who Stole Feminism?
Island of the Blue Dolphins

Femininity (Or “So That’s Why You’re So Weird!”)

Little Women
Sweet Valley High
Harriet the Spy
Jane Eyre
Island of the Blue Dolphins
The Prizewinner of Defiance, Ohio
Anne of Green Gables
Emily of New Moon
Various Chick Lit

Adventure (Or, “You Aren’t Terribly Adventurous, Are You?”)

Stephen King
Harry Potter
L’Engle’s kids’ fiction
The Golden Compass et al
21 Balloons
The Secret Agent
The Phantom Tollbooth
Island of the Blue Dolphins
The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen

Love (Or “Survey Says: You’re Better Off Alone!”)

The Iron Giant
Jane Eyre
Jane Austin
Bridge to Terabithia
I Capture the Castle
Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
The Age of Reason et al
Anne of Green Gables
Various Chick Lit

Motherhood (Or “Let’s Find Teddy a Shrink!”)

The Mask of Motherhood
Little Women, Little Men, Jo’s Boys
Our Babies, Ourselves
Mothers Who Think
The Attachment Parenting Book
All of Just Blume
All of Madeleine L’Engle (and MLE herself, for that matter)

And there you have it. I'm sure I'm missing things that will make me cringe when I realize it, but . . . oh, well.

I Care Not for St. Patrick's Day

I'm just sayin'. Then again, I hate Halloween. I'm a mean one, Mr. Grinch.

So! What's new? I couldn't put up a new post for a while, there, because either Blogger or my work computer just wouldn't let me. Who knows how long this posting window will be open? I should say something worth reading, shouldn't I?

I read Ayelet Waldman's new book, Love and Other Impossible Pursuits, and it is absolutely sob-inducing. I couldn't read it in public. I totally cop to the fact that I'm inclined to tears these days, but I have never read such an honest portrayal of grief. The main character is devastated by the death of her infant daughter, and by the suspicion that she accidentally *caused* the death. She is destroyed. In a lot of books or movies, women who are this wrecked seem to do a lot of staring out the window, watching the rain, and maybe smiling wanly at people who try to offer comfort.

This woman, though, hates herself and everyone who has a kid. She's appalled at the idea of support groups. She can't stand her step-son. She does a lot of horrible, selfish things. She's very flawed, and very real. She's not necessarily likeable, but the story is . . . it's something.

Other stuff: Our local no-kill shelter, Animal Friends, just opened a new facility outside of the city. The new space includes a small library. Why? For Reading with Rover, a program that lets learning-disabled kids read to a dog. Dogs, you see, provide a rapt and non-threatening audience for kids to practice reading aloud.

Are you crying? Because I can't talk about that without bursting into tears. So wonderful and good!

Oh, and I'm working on my list of Required Reading, per Joke. It's been so much fun that I'm pretty sure I could have skipped the last half of my Government Documents class last night, because I was thinking about books for the list. So I'm hoping to post that soon.

Okay, just one more thing. Teddy's school's motto is "Think Often of the Comforts and Rights of Others." Yesterday morning, at our parent-teacher conference, Ted's teacher told his dad and me that Teddy's always helping the other kids, and making sure the ones who get overlooked are never excluded. She said that exemplifies the school motto more than any other kid she's had (she's super-young, but still!). He's the best kid ever. Please remind me of that when he gets to be all sullen and angst-ridden, okay?

That is all.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

“He asked water, and she gave him milk; she brought forth butter in a lordly dish.” - Judges 5:25

I? Am a slob. I use the butter straight from the waxed paper wrapper. And because I feel slightly ashamed of this gross breach of butter etiquette, I will atone for my buttery sins (yet ANOTHER good name for a band) by sharing with you my three very favorite butter recipes. Or maybe I should say, butter-DRENCHED recipes. Affter you eat these things, if you were to wring out your tongue? It would drip butter. Nice image, huh? Here they are:

French Buttercream Icing
[I once made a batch of this icing to frost a cake that many children would be eating, and then my husband pointed out the foolishness of feeding small ones what is essentially raw eggs. But I couldn't waste it, oh no. So I scooped it onto graham crackers (only because I had no HobNobs handy)and discovered tastebud Nirvana. The sweet-ish-but-not-too, smooth, creamy, FAT icing, offset by the nutty graininess of the graham crackers - oh my sweet jesus, it was amazing.]

3/4 cup plus 2 TBSP butter
1 cup powdered sugar
4 egg yolks
2 egg whites

In a medium bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in egg yolks, one at a time. Whisk egg whites until stiff but not dry. Gently fold beaten egg whites into butter mixture. Makes about 2-1/2 cups.

[My next-door neighbor just gave me half a pan of this and so I begged her for the recipe. Because I needed to be able to induce that cheesy, buttery stupor myself, whenever I so desired.]

2 lbs feta, crumbled
1 lb ricotta
3/4 cup grated Parmesan
4 eggs
2-3 TBSP dried dill
black pepper to taste
2 sticks butter, melted
phyllo dough

Mix together first six ingredients. Brush melted butter on a 9x13 pan. Layer 8 to 10 pieces of dough, coating each with melted butter. Put on cheese mix and flatten. Layer another (at least) twelve pieces of dough, coating each with melted butter. Cut. Bake at 375 degrees until golden brown, about 45 minutes.

Dutch Butter cookies [removed for mysterious reason : )]
[My friend C gave me this recipe a while ago. They are the best butter cookies I have ever tasted - even better than the pure butter shortbread recipe from Fine Cooking that I once made my little brother for Christmas, as his present - and that's saying alot. I love hanging out with C, and I don't get to do it nearly often enough as she lives three hundred miles away. But she is one of the few people who is completely simpatico with me over food. Once, she and I went out to eat, and we ate a nice little appetizer-y/tapas-y meal at a nice little restaurant. After which we went to another restaurant ostensibly for dessert, but instead wound up ordering and eating another ENTIRE meal. Followed by dessert. And she didn't think this was odd in the least. You see what I mean?]


Thursday Show-and-Tell, courtesy of Blackbird

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Confess your sins to the Lord and you will be forgiven; confess them to man and you will be laughed at. - Josh Billings

Confessions, courtesy of Kim.

If I am having a really, really bad day? Sometimes I take two Zoloft, even though I *know* they don’t work that way.

I also have a secret stash of Valium – not that I have ever used one. They scare me. But it calms me down just to *think* about them being there, should I ever need them.

I obsessively check my blog comments...even though I have them emailed to me as well. I also obsessively check my regularly-read twenty or so blogs, to see if anyone has updated YET!

I steal money regularly from my children’s piggy banks to support my coffee habit. And sometimes my book habit. But mostly my coffee habit. And I do mean steal, I do not pay it back.

I don’t like to lend my books out. Because I don’t share well with others. And I know people are NOT GOING TO GIVE THEM BACK.

When I am driving long-distance, I prefer quiet. No music, no books-on-tape, nothing. Silence. Me, my car, and hundreds of miles of sweet silence.

My husband is not aware that I consume several pounds of chocolate a week. I hide the bar wrappers from him. Not that he’d care, but then he wouldn’t let me complain about being fat, either.

Also, I buy the expensive chocolate I like when I buy the groceries, so they fall under “Household Expenses” and not “Luxuries” in the budget.
Because I can only steal just so much cash from my children.

I really, really want a tattoo. But I am afraid of hepatitis AND it would gross my husband out. Both of which are totally lame reasons for not getting one.

Occasionally I will stay up in the middle of the night after the baby has gone back down easily, and read or blog in peace, and then complain to H in the morning that the baby kept me up all night and I am really tired.

I lie to H about what’s in recipes because I know there are certain things he will not eat (oil instead of butter, for example).

I almost never answer my phone. So don't even bother calling.

I have not been on an airplane since April 2001. Not because the kids make it impossible to travel, or the opportunity hasn't arisen. Although those are the excuses I use. But because I am TERRIFIED of flying. I KNOW my plane is going to crash, and leave my children motherless (not so sure this would necessarily be such a bad thing...), and I wouldn't get to see them grow up, and it scares the bejabbers out of me.

Conversely? Sometimes I wonder: if H were run over by a bus, would the life insurance payment make my life simpler? Not that I *want* him to be run over by a bus - I'd miss him terribly - but it's just that niggling thing about money worries...

I have read The Da Vinci Code. And I even sort of enjoyed it. I know it was dreck. But it was entertaining dreck.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

The mark of a mature programmer is willingness to throw out code you spent time on when you realize it's pointless. - Bram Cohen

Segundo was scheduled for a well-child check-up today. The only problem was, he’s not a well child. Neither are Primo, Terzo, or for that matter, Mama. In fact, my house sounds like a tuberculosis ward at the moment.
And my children are beginning to believe Motrin is candy. “Mama, peez I have some medicine?” Segundo asks plaintively. I am a mean mama and buy the dye-free kind, so it’s not as yummy as the purple neon stuff they got at the doctor’s office, but since already I spend most of my free time trying to conquer my Mount Everest of laundry, colorless Motrin bound to be upchucked was the way to go.

After a morning of listening to the two older boys bash each other on the head and fight over Thomas trains and throw things at each other, I decided that they were well enough to go to the doctor after all. (Now that’s a bizarre sentence, hmm?) So I broke the cardinal rule of mothering by waking the baby from his nap, loaded everybody up in the car, and took them to the doctor’s office. Where they proceeded to drape themselves all over the germy furniture in the doctor’s waiting and exam rooms, looking wan and feverish at the same time, doing everything but putting their hands to their foreheads in the universal symbol of the Dying Swan. I felt like I was watching a preschool version of “Camille.”

Of course I could SEE the doctor’s thoughts like they were displayed in a balloon over his head: “Why has this woman dragged three ill children here to my office? To contaminate others, along with every available surface? And why has she not already dosed them all up but good?” He distributed purple Motrin all around, in those plastic little shot glasses, making it look like nothing more than a healthy round of Purple Hooters, and Segundo at least perked up enough to wail halfheartedly when Dr R looked in his ears.

Terzo was so crusty it was embarrassing but I didn’t have the heart to scrub him clean with a wipe from the diaper bag. (Except I’d forgotten the diaper bag…) Anyway, warm damp washcloths in the privacy of our own home provoke enough of a reaction, thank you. (Did I tell you that he’s been snotting so much that once this weekend I went to pick him up from his nap and he was STUCK TO THE SHEET BY THE SNOT OF HIS NOSE?)

So finally, finally, it was all over. (Despite being so ill Seggie is in the 90th percentile for height and weight. Primo better watch his step, Seggie’s gaining on him.) I took them home and fed them pretty much whatever the hell they wanted for lunch and plunked them in front of the TV until it was time for naps. And then H came home and I ran away to my shrink to beg for more Zoloft. Sweet, sweet Zoloft, companion of my heart. You will not be reading any entries about *me* weaning off Zoloft.

Because I get that weirdo eyeball feeling ON the drug. Not to mention I am crabby enough already.


I am taking a survey - Am I the only mother on the face of the earth who does not allow her children to drink soda?

Back when I was an idealistic pregnant woman, I swore McDonald’s would never cross my children’s lips– and yet they have an extensive and lovely collection of Happy Meal toys. I am not sure what I expected, as I lived on McDonald’s French fries through all three pregnancies’ first trimesters.

I swore I would never hit them, not once, not ever. The very first time Primo ran into the street when I wasn’t looking, I freaked out and whacked him one.

I said righteously, “My children will play happily with an old shoestring and a block of wood.” And yet we have an entire room devoted to their playthings, which could carpet said room when (um, I mean, IF) they are all out at the same time.

I promised they would not drink soda. And yet, they don’t. They have never even tasted soda. They probably believe Coca-Cola is merely some adult drink we must keep in the house so Mama can mix it with her rum. They drink juice, milk, chocolate and/or strawberry milk, even lemonade. But no soda. And yet I see parents feeding their toddlers soda all the time. I just wanted to, you know, mention that. That I find it odd that I actually managed to stick to my guns about something. So I probably should have just said to the pediatrician this morning, “Yes, but I don’t give them soda!” the underlying implication being that I really am NOT the horrible and unfeeling mother I appear to be to the casual observer.


I finished The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time on my lunch hour today. Wow. What a great book. Andrea, I am glad you pestered me into reading it! (I thought this was an especially interesting companion read to Motherless Brooklyn.) Christopher Boone is just a hell of a character. And I find it ironic that a character who lacks empathy is so empathic himself. Andrea, didn’t you once say to me that you thought that everyone could be a little bit autistic? (Not in any way to diminish people who have been officially diagnosed with autism.) I only bring it up to say that it was a trifle unsettliing to be reading this book about this boy who is supposed to be so officially *different*, so *not* normal, and find myself relating to some of his issues. Sometimes, when I am stressed out, I feel like things are rushing at me, that my brain’s filters are malfunctioning and everything is screaming for attention at once. The Zoloft helps me cope with what I have always referred to as my sensory overload issues. I didn’t expect to find much in common with Christopher, and yet I did.
Also, I am going to make H read it – I have this theory that if he’d been born within the past dozen years instead of more than forty years ago, he’d be diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome. Reference this quote by Bram Cohen: I tend to get obsessed with technical problems, and have a very long attention span, which are obviously good traits for being a programmer, and seem like Asperger's traits, but [because of] not having an almost-identical-except-no-asperger's version of myself, it's hard to compare.
Or, I don’t know, maybe H really is just a sociopath

Monday, March 13, 2006

Woah, Woah, Woah FEELINGS

Hello, my friends. It has now been one week since I quit the Zoloft. (And for you Catholics, it has been much more than one week since my last Confession.) I spent Thursday and Friday being violently ill, but I think that was just a fabulously luck coincidence than something withdrawal-related. I’m still having the weird feeling behind my eyeballs, though, and I’m quite sure that’s because of the Zoloft. Do you know the weirdness I’m talking about? It’s not pain or dizziness . . . it’s more of a little zap of consciousness that rubs itself along the backs of my eyeballs whenever my head changes altitudes. It’s unpleasant, but tolerable as I know it’s temporary.

I’m also waking up from that vague anti-depressant numbness, I think. Every. Little. Thing. Makes. Me. Cry. And not necessarily in a bad way. It’s not like I cried over sewing a crooked hem into Teddy’s pants (I didn’t! I swear!). I cried yesterday because I could overhear Teddy and his friend playing in the basement; they were so serious about “making a movie” (they weren’t even filming it) wherein one of them was Anakin Skywalker and the other was James Potter, among other characters . . . I was amused at first, but then I realized that very soon neither one of those boys will even admit to playing so imaginatively and earnestly . . . and so I cried.

Ted and I watched Goblet of Fire on DVD this weekend, and I cried like a baby when Amos Diggory realized that Cedric was dead (“That’s my BOY!”). I heard a story on Weekend Edition about a woman whose dad used to glow with pride when she performed Danny Boy each year at some production, and who didn’t realize until she sang it at his funeral how much it must have hurt him when she got too cool and refused to sing in the show any longer. Nothing like driving and crying, let me tell you. Because you know what? MY dad is going to die. Not any time soon (he’s only 57 and in decent shape for a man who doesn’t give a crap about diet or exercise [and HE’S not fat, why is that?]), but SOMEDAY.

I cried watching the repeat of Friends where Chandler proposes to Monica. I cried when I read a story in some crappy weekly supermarket magazine (Women’s World?) where a girl wrote about how much she loves her older sister who has Downs Syndrome. I bawled during different parts of The Book of Joe (you should pick it up if you haven’t read it—it’s a bargain book at Barnes & Noble right now, and totally worth $6).

So I guess I’m having some unleashing of pent up emotion? I guess that’s good, right? But God help us all if Little Miss Nice starts letting the anger get out. I’ve never been good with that, so I’ve probably been sitting on lots of anger for a long time. In fact, it’s quite possible that the extra forty pounds I’ve accumulated since going on Zoloft (shortly after Teddy’s dad pulled his stunt and moved out) is ACTUALLY ANGER.

Hmmm . . . .

Sunday, March 12, 2006

And up in the nursery an absurd little bird is popping out to say "cuckoo"

H said to me the other morning, “You are looking really hot. You’re tightening up!” The man must be smoking crack when I am not looking – the only thing tightening up around here is the waistband of my jeans. Yet when I was actually losing weight, before the carb-stuffing that the long, cold, dreary, grey winter in this godforsaken town requires, he was giving me grief over the baby-belly. So an incredibly liberating realization dawned on me – *my* fat is totally subjective to *his* mood. Do you have any idea how amazing it was to realize that none of his comments are based on any sort of empirical evidence? If I know that I can just plateau here, where clearly my body wants to be as it’s been there for years, and know that any observation on my weight that comes out of his mouth is contingent SOLELY UPON HIS MOOD – well, hell, pass the chips! And hand him the antidepressants! And I can be thin and beautiful all the time!

But I still can’t fit back into my wedding gown so I can’t do any housework.

Don’t ask.


Amalah’s son is almost the exact same age as Terzo. They are two very cute babies. I feel somehow connected to the famous Amalah (that sounds like a Ben and Jerry’s ice cream flavor, does it not?) due to the fact that we were birthing within 36 hours of each other. This whole Internet thing is so screwy, people.


I got all dressed up last night – yes, I put eyeliner on! And high heels! Although, allow me to tell you, it’s hard to feel sexy when you are leaking breast milk! – and went out to dinner with my friend L, to celebrate her birthday. A few other friends were there, too. Friends who had very considerately brought her birthday presents. What, people? You KNOW I was raised by wolves! And I *did* get her a non-fat cinnamon dulce latte this morning – I mean, after making her very late for work, after conning her into giving me a ride, it was the least I could do. (I should’ve given her a copy of Bitter is the New Black! Why didn’t I think of that last night?) Also along for the festivities was her Turkish is-he-a-boyfriend-what-exactly-is-he sort of boyfriend-ish guy, who we oh-so-cleverly have nicknamed “Turkish.” We went to this great little restaurant that reminded me of L.A. in that I was fairly certain they were going to weigh us all at the door, and I? I was going to be over the weight limit: “You! You there! In the not-so-slimming black pants! Over the limit! You may not come in and stuff your face here, you’re too fat already! And we, we here are all thin and trendy and wear avant-garde hairstyles and black-rimmed glasses! So begone! Skedaddle! Va-moose!” But, no they let me in and let me eat a nice little pad thai. I am quite proficient with the ole chopsticks and until last night it never occurred to me that you might not be. (I could’ve given L chopstick lessons for her birthday! Along with those cool little rocks they give you to rest your sticks on between courses.) And then, for dessert, which the server kindly allowed me to have although after eating my entire plate of pad thai I probably gained three pounds in like ten minutes, I had cardamom crème brulee with crystallized ginger shortbread and a basil-coconut macaroon. Yes, it is one of those places that serves art as food. It was all very civil and nice, even if I couldn’t understand one damn thing Turkish was saying. I do have a couple pictures, but am not going to post them as I prefer to respect the privacy of both L and Turkish. Just in case the INS is out looking for him or something. (Kidding, L! Totally kidding! No, I DO NOT think he’s illegal!)


And now, as I seem to have used my yearly allotment of exclamation points in one post, I bid adieu…to yew…and yew…and yew...

Saturday, March 11, 2006

"I don't read Us, I read a magazine for paranoids called Them." - Bruce Vilanch

I bought Jen Lancaster’s Bitter is the New Black last night. I read her blog from time to time and think it’s pretty cool she got a book deal, and wanted to support her. Plus, Gina bought it yesterday too and told me it was entertaining. Which it was. In the beginning I was a bit distracted by the blogginess of it – you know, all those silly expressions we all use, and weird sentence structure, and capital letters – but now I am completely into it and am thoroughly loving it. I stayed up way too late last night, stuffing chips and dip into my mouth (Gina, I’m sorry, the Helluva Good onion dip didn’t do it for me, I am back to the B&L), and reading. I couldn’t stay awake long enough to finish it but I hated to come back from my lunch hour today – I wanted to keep reading. So, you know, it’s good. Go buy it. It’s a paperback, so it’s cheap, and who knows who will get the next book deal? I vote for Blackbird or Badger.


H planned to take all three boys downtown to the St Patrick’s Day parade this morning. He hasn’t been feeling very well, but he likes to do this each year – it’s been eons since he and I both marched in the parade (he with his band and me with the ceili group), but I think sometimes he misses it. It’s hard to be just normal when you’ve been an Irish rock star. And H’s cousin’s daughter does step dancing and her school of dance is marching, so, you know, support and all. But honestly, all three boys? In that mayhem of drunken college students and Kelly-green-wearing idiots? I am not nearly brave enough. H says his family will be there, and they will help him. I am not so sure about this plan. Some drunk will puke on the baby, and if you hear about a three-year-old getting flattened by a parade float? That’ll be Segundo.

The big family St Pat’s party is Friday night. Fifty or sixty of the closest family, friends, and neighbors, crammed into H’s aunt’s little house. There will be corned beef and potatoes aplenty, and green Smiley cookies, and all manner of disgusting green food, and lots of maudlin Irish music complete with some Godawful, nausea-inducing rendition of “Danny Boy,” and probably “The Fields of Athenrye,”and then the dancing shall begin – the Keel Row, the Walls of Limerick, and the Seige of Ennis. Very sweaty, very crowded, and most of us really have no freaking clue what we are doing. Not to mention being drunk.

I do know what I am doing, in the dancing regard, but you did not hear that from me. My days of ceili dancing in a crowded bar among roaring drunken Irishmen are OVER. Aerobically, I don't think I could make it through a four-hand reel now if my life depended on it.

I always want to wear orange to this event, but then I was raised by wolves.

H and the new band's lead singer will debut several new (non-Irish) songs that evening as well. Very exciting.

You know, sometimes I wonder if my mother didn’t have some Irish in her somewhere.
I mean, look at those “Danny Boy” lyrics:
“And if you come, when all the flowers are dying,
And I am dead, as dead I well may be.”
I mean, really?
As dead I well may be?

No, no, you go do your thing, oh Danny Boy, and I will just stay here, but I’ll be DEAD when you get back, you see if I’m not, and that’ll serve you right!


So I cruised around the bookstore for a while last night, listening to some high school guitar ensemble render the Beatles didactic. Then some awful, skinny, Ben-Folds-sounding teenager covered “Baba O’Riley” and he was truly awful, but the drummer was decent and the bass player, a Thom Yorke lookalike, was really decent. Oh good, now I am trolling for bass players for H in bookstores, among sixteen-year-old boys.

So here’s my list, in no particular order, of books that I must check out/read (scribbled on a little piece of paper found in my purse, bearing the name “Martha” and a phone number. No, I have no freaking clue who Martha is, or why I should have her phone number in my purse):

The Kindness of Strangers - Katrina Kittle
Dinner with Anna Karenina - Gloria Goldreich [This looks like a companion volume to The Jane Austen Book Club, of sorts.]
New Mecca - Sandra Dallas
I’m Not Myself These Days - Josh Kilmer-Powell
Cocktails for Three - Madeleine Wickham [This is Sophie Kinsella.]
The Ha-Ha - Dave King
Snobs - Julian Fellowes

If I ever have enough cash to pay my library fines, I can just request most of these from the library. In the meantime, I am enjoying Bitter, finishing Shadow Man, and yes, yes, all right already (Andrea, Badger, and Leslie, I’m talking to you) I am going to read Curious Incident NEXT. I swear.

Friday, March 10, 2006

People who say they sleep like a baby usually don't have one. - Leo Burke

WHAT am I doing awake at 4am if the baby is not? Well, I’ll tell you: the baby WAS, and during that lovely if brief interlude I discovered that if I remain upright, the coughing stops. (Does anyone else remember that old joke? No?)

(Oh, and you don't need to call CYS; he is only napping in that chair, and I am RIGHT NEXT to him, at the computer. He sleeps in his crib at night. Lest you worry.)

Tomorrow I go to have coffee with an old friend and her cousin, who also happens to be one of the moms at Primo’s preschool. J is the (non-screaming and fair) mother of four – including a set of twins. She is thin and beautiful and immaculately and perfectly put together, her house is a showpiece, her minivan is clean, her children are always pressed and neat, not to mention beautiful – and I really like her and want her to be my friend.

I know, I don’t get it either, but there you have it. Well, in addition to being all these things, she’s funny, smart, talented, and down to earth. God how I hate some people. Especially those who I really like. Dammit! (I have a sneaking suspicion that some of my sweet Internet ones are much like this woman, and everyday I thank God that you all can’t observe me in my full disheveled, snotty-nosed-children, crazy mess of a natural habitat. You, sweet ones, only see the clever, razor-witted, and funny me. Ahem. And modest. Have I mentioned modest? Except Gina, who sees all this and loves me anyway. Will wonders never cease?)

Then I get to have lunch with another old friend, from college, who has just informed me that she is pregnant with her third child. She is a doctor, as is her husband. They live in a lovely old house, have two beautiful boys, are well-put-together and good-looking themselves, are active in their synagogue and volunteer activities, and throw great parties. I have to return the maternity clothes I borrowed from her, so I'd have something to wear to work other than old sweatpants and ratty T-shirts in those last months. Yeah, why does it seem that I am friends with all these people who so have their shit together? How does that work out? Is it like being friends with the ugly girl in high school, you can’t help but look better by comparison even if you have a zit and braces? I wonder if that is my function in their lives? (No, not consciously – they are all NICE, too. Sickos.) So at least I am doing some small good in the world. Thank God I am not totally useless.


I finished Laurie King’s The Game and was pleased by the cleverness of it, and as usual, by the character of Mary Russell. Why do I find the unlikely combo of Sherlock Holmes and Mary Russell so interesting? Sherlock Holmes is like one of those guys who could never like me in college – aloof, mind-blowingly intelligent, good-looking in that craggy, austere sort of way – the type of guy who always had me scrambling like an over-eager puppy to be noticed. And Mary snags him. And Mary might like me. So that’s the connection. I guess. Why am I contemplating this about fictional characters? See above. Sigh. Even my fictional companions have their shit together, damn them.


I don’t know what I will read next – I will finish The Shadow Man, I guess, but otherwise…maybe wrap up Left Hand of Darkness; start the Nancy Mitford I checked out of my work library last week, The Blessing and Don’t Tell Alfred, in one ancient volume. Or maybe I will give in to peer pressure and try The Lovely Bones again.
I was thinking about this last night, and if they would just stop publishing books for a while, I’d have half a chance to catch up. But as it is, I am going to go to my grave moaning, “But I didn’t finish…” reading whatever it was I was reading when the Grim Reaper popped in for tea and cookies. Isn’t that a great visual.


I work both days this weekend, so a co-worker can go out of town. When my babysitter called me, sick, at 630 am yesterday? I wanted to cry. I had to call out of work. But I get to go to work all weekend. Bliss. I can remember when working weekends was cause for much groaning and moaning and bitching and complaining. Now it’s practically a vacation.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

“The early bird gets the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese.” - Jon Hammond

I have the eye ooze. As does Terzo. Aren’t you all glad this week’s Show and Tell is eyes?...Just returned from the Strip District where I purchased the following (and then got parked in by a beer truck, dammit): a pound of almond biscotti, because I am too lazy/busy to bake some; a pound of anise biscotti, ditto; five chocolate biscotti for my sugar fiends; two pounds of feta and a pound of ricotta, along with two packages of phyllo, to make these free-form tiropetas my next-door neighbor shared with us last weekend and which I must recreate; a pound of slivered almonds, much cheaper in bulk from Penn-Mac than from the grocery store; a ginormous jar of Nutella, ditto; two tins of oil-packed anchovies, since this household slowly grinds to a halt if there are no anchovies here; and a two-pound bag of the “good” animal crackers, that the grocery store no longer sells. A very successful shopping expedition. The boys got to munch biscotti and see the fish and lobsters, and the train that runs around the ceiling, at the fish market, and the banjo-playing stuffed pigs, and all the other exciting sights for which we really go to the Strip District. It’s grey here, but warm-ish (low 50s) so I felt I should get them the heck outdoors.


My neighbor is pregnant (#6); the woman on the opposite corner is pregnant (#9); the two women down opposite ends of the alley are pregnant (#3 and #4, respectively, as it were). My friend D, about a mile away, is pregnant (#3). I am forthwith only drinking the *bottled* water on this end of town.


Svetlana ‘s Alexievich’s Voices from Chernobyl won the National Book Critics Circle’s non-fiction award. It is easily the most moving and wrenching book I have ever read. Go read it, but be prepared to be devastated.

Laurie King’s latest installment of her Mary Russell books, Locked Rooms comes out in paperback March 28. And Jennifer Chiaverini’s latest, Sugar Camp Quilt is apparently already out in paperback. Ayelet Waldman’s new novel, Love and Other Impossible Pursuits was released in January; I’ll read it -- but I admit I am not expecting much. Kazuo Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go comes out in paperback in March. The late Wendy Wasserstein’s first novel, The Elements of Style comes out on my birthday – guess what I am buying myself? Also, David Mitchell’s Black Swan Green, released on the 11th of April.

Reluctant Capitalists: Bookselling and the Culture of Consumption by Laura J. Miller poses the question: why, among all other commodities being bought and sold, do moist people expect that books should be exempt from concerns of profit?

Other new or upcoming releases by authors I have enjoyed:
My Latest Grievance – Elinor Lipman (April)
Savannah Breeze – Mary Kay Andrews (April 11)
The Virgin of Small Plains – Nancy Pickard (April 18)
How Elizabeth Barrett Browning Saved My Life – Mameve Medwed (March 14)

Authors I wish would hurry up and write another:
Anthony Bourdain
Elizabeth George
Beth Gutcheon
Kate Atkinson
Jennifer Weiner (her real ones, not like the Mommy/Goodnight Nobody one)
Rosamunde Pilcher


The Orange Prize’s long list for fiction has been announced. Why does it take so freaking long for books already releases in the UK to be released here? Huh? Is it so hard? I am growing old here, people!

Beyond Black by Hilary Mantel [I could have sworn I’d read some Mantel – but I can’t for the life of me figure out or remember which, so I guess not.]
Disobedience by Naomi Alderman [“…a lesbian exploration of friendship and morality set in the heart of London's orthodox Jewish community…” Ok, I’ll bite. I have this weirdo fascination – for a Baptist/Episcopalian girl) with all things Judaic anyway.]
Dreams of Speaking by Gail Jones
Everyman's Rules for Scientific Living by Carrie Tiffany [I want this to be The Thorn Birds but it’s probably more like Kate Grenville’s The Idea of Perfection.]
Frangipani by Célestine Hitiura Vaite [I want to read this.]
Gilead by Marilynne Robinson [I tried to read Robinson’s Housekeeping, but ultimately it was predictable and not all that compelling. Although its characters were well-drawn. So I am not standing in any lines to check out Gilead, no matter how much Suse likes it.]
Harbor by Lorraine Adams
House of Orphans by Helen Dunmore
Lost in the Forest by Sue Miller [Gina and I both read this in advanced copy, through – was it Random House? – some publisher’s giveaway gimmick. I liked it. A slow but gorgeously written book, with depths like the fine wine one of the main characters creates.]
Minaret by Leila Aboulela [This sounds a lot like Brick Lane - which I would have liked more if it had had a good editor.]
On Beauty by Zadie Smith [Could not get into White Teeth. So…]
Prep by Curtis Sittenfeld [I HATED this book. Gina did not.]
Rape A Love Story by Joyce Carol Oates [Have yet to like a single thing of Oates’ that I’ve read -- Bellefleur, Black Water, We Were the Mullvaneys…Gah! I can’t STAND her. And she is so freaking prolific. I just don’t trust an author who writes that fast.]
The Accidental by Ali Smith [I tried to read this but couldn’t get into it. Hence my thirty-three dollar library fine. Need I say more?]
The Constant Princess by Philippa Gregory [I can’t get past the historical romance aspects of Gregory’s book covers.]
The History of Love by Nicole Krauss [This might be an interesting book but I can’t seem to get past the fact that she’s married to Jonathan Safran Foer. Whether this is good or bad, I can’t rightly say, but it’s a fact and it distracts me.]
The Night Watch by Sarah Waters [I tried to read Fingersmith; I want someone – anyone – to tell me what the big deal is.]
The Position by Meg Wolitzer [Gina likes Meg Wolitzer. I haven’t read her.]
Watch Me Disappear by Jill Dawson [This looks good, put it on my list.]
White Ghost Girls by Alice Greenaway


Librarians in the UK voted for the book every adult should read before they die. Here’s the list, read it and weep:

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
The Bible
The Lord of the Rings Trilogy by JRR Tolkien [Number three? C’;mon! Really?]
1984 by George Orwell
A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
All Quite on the Western Front by E M Remarque
His Dark Materials Trilogy by Phillip Pullman
Birdsong by Sebastian Faulks
The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
The Lord of the Flies by William Golding
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon [OK, Andrea, I’ll get over my weird-ass neurosis and read this now.]
Tess of the D'urbervilles by Thomas Hardy [Yawn.]
Winnie the Pooh by AA Milne
Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Graham
Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell [Beach read! Beach read!]
Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
The Time Traveller's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold [Ack! Really? Loved Lucky, could NOT get into this.]
The Prophet by Khalil Gibran [Since when do college freshmen count as adults?]
David Copperfield by Charles Dickens
The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov
Life of Pi by Yann Martel [Again – really? My life will be poorer for not having slogged through this. Someone has to convince me.]
Middlemarch by George Eliot [Gina! You may not die now.]
The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver
A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess [Excellent movie, but am ashamed to admit I never tackled the book.]
A Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich by Alexander Solzenhitsyn

This list is totally schizophrenic. To me there’s a huge difference between books people might enjoy, and books everyone should read, whether or not they enjoy them – but in most cases they will – before they die. Was my life changed by Time Traveler’s Wife or Poisonwood Bible? No, but I recommend them both a lot as they were rippingly good reads. However, AS Byatt’s :Possession, Nabokov’s Lolita, and Salman Rushdie’s Satanic Verses changed my life. I would not recommend them to everyone, though. This is a fraught question. Maybe I am taking it too seriously. After all, I loved The Kite Runner and recommend or buy it a lot for people, yet I know people who not only hated the book but in my opinion completely misunderstood it. Ah, the subjective world of literature.