Saturday, October 28, 2006

“Wherever you looked, hectic excitement. People reading books, even women.” - p 68, Perfume, Patrick Suskind

I have just been informed by mail that MY STUDENT LOANS ARE PAID OFF.
Note that I graduated college almost fifteen years ago.
I have in the intervening almost-fifteen-years switched careers twice, earned a (funded) graduate degree, and bought three cars (not all at once.) None of these momentous monetary events elated me in quite the way that the letter from the American Educational Services people did. Now if only I had the foggiest idea what I’d done with my diploma, I might even frame it and hang it up somewhere.


I need to stop writing and start reading. The pile of books stacked on the nightstand and spilling over onto the floor and then the other side of the bed is becoming daunting. Not to mention I had a close call with a mug of Irish Breakfast tea and a few library books that were not-so-steadily stacked up.
On the floor beneath the night stand, I have several back issues each of Runner’s World, House & Garden, Newsweek (because back issues of that are good reading?), and Brain, Child piled up.
On top of the night stand are the currently-reading books: Patrick Suskind’s Perfume (reminding me somewhat of Tom Robbins’ Jitterbug Perfume in that it is beautifully if painstakingly written; I wonder how much of this carefulness is a result of translation? Also, it makes me ashamed that my perfume choices tend to be wildly unsophisticated – if it’s citrus, I wear it. (The stuff I favor at the moment, Les Senteurs Orange-Cannelle, is likely the French equivalent of Charlie - I found it in beautiful little blue-glass bottles in a French pharmacy, its price about 8 US dollars a bottle)); Peter Carey’s Theft (which I am about to give up on), Raffaella Barker’s Hens Dancing, and The Plague which I have been about twenty pages away from finishing for nigh onto six weeks now. Also, on the far side of the table, a review copy of a book about reference librarianship, the blank book containing my notes for NaNoWriMo, and a loaned copy of The Memory Keeper's Daughter. (Also, the remote control for the ceiling fan and my retainer, revoltingly not in its blue plastic case.)
On the second shelf are books I own and am reading, sort of, occasionally, as the mood strikes: Bailey White’s Mama Makes Up Her Mind: and other tales of Southern living, some book about emergency room medicine, Nick Hornby’s newest, Housekeeping vs. the Dirt, Mary Roach's Spook, and Penny Vincenzi’s Something Dangerous.
On the floor, under the bed, migrating towards the dresser are the library books and next-ups:

The Mermaid Chair - which is going back unread because I just at the moment have NO patience with middle-aged women’s existential crises – I mean, I will be having my own soon enough, I suppose, and I have deeper experience than I ever cared to with men’s mid-life crises, so you know, I just don’t need to read about them too.

Markus Zuzak’s The Book Thief - The same person who recommended Broken For You recommended this, and hey, the narrator is Death. I love that. Especially in my current mood, which is foul, exacerbated by an ear infection (mine); not enough sleep; having spent most of the day Friday in the company of fifty kindergarteners, on a farm whose facilities consisted of ONE Port-a-John, in the snow and rain; and the annoying, non-affiliated caller at work who continues to think we are fucking Directory Assistance.

Laurie Halse Anderson’s Catalyst, which I am planning to read simply because I liked Anderson’s plague book Fever (have I ever not liked a plague book? Hmmm…no.) and thought a YA book might be nice in-between reading. I haven't the faintest idea what it's about.

Herbert N. Foerstel 's Refuge of a Scoundrel: The Patriot Act in Libraries, which is (she says quietly) research for NaNoWriMo. Which is scaring me more and more as it creeps closer and closer.

I have five books awaiting pick-up at the library – Monday afternoon will be the trip to the library and then the nearby church’s pumpkin sale. When we get home, I will lie on the couch, a cup of hot tea balanced precariously on my stomach, and read while I suppose I will let the boys play with sharp cutting implements and slippery pumpkin insides. (Oh, all right, don’t call CYS, I’ll help them.)

I intend to begin with Diane Setterfield’s Thirteenth Tale mostly because it’s due back first, but also because Lazy Cow just bought it and I trust LC.
The Neil Gaimans - first volume of Sandman and his novel Neverwhere - are long overdue for my reading – but when anyone, let alone Gina, compares his writing to AS Byatt? It becomes imperative to read him sooner rather than later.
David Mitchell’s Black Swan Green. Speaking of Byatt. Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas is the closest thing to my adored Posession that I have ever encountered. Even though rumor has it that BSG is nothing like CA, I lurve Mitchell and have to read it. Besides, a sure thing is always pleasant.
I will borrow the Persepolis books from Gina, since the library is telling me something like they were lost in the renovation? Oh-kay.
I think this last book popped up as one of the Powell’s Review-of-the-Day books a year or two ago, and for some reason recently I was overwhelmed with desire to read it. I suppose because I could do with “a view of adult life-in all its ridiculousness.” (I think I am hoping it might cast some light on the ridiculousness of my life at the moment.) Glyph, by Percival Everett.

That should wipe out the stash at the public library, the only one still on the hold list is Karen Russell’s alluringly-named St Lucy’s Home for Girls Raised by Wolves. Now that I have read a review or two, I am looking forward to this book, but the truth is that I requested it simply because the title was wonderful.


This link won’t help any of you who are not local, but oh my goodness, I may have just found directions to Nirvana!

Wake me when we get there.


sara said...

Congratulations on having your student loans paid off!!

That is cause for celebration.

Also --

I think anytime you can say "I picked up my perfume in a little French pharmacy" it means you are automatically sophisticated.

I think you'll like Gaiman's "Sandman" and "Neverwhere." I liked "American Gods" a bit better -- have you read that?

Cheers & congrats again!

Suse said...

Well done on the student loans. The first time I studied at university was in the days when it was free in Australia (why oh why did I drop out?). Now I'm back 20 years later and paying huge figures. Well actually paying nothing, but the bill creeps steadily skyward each year ...

Jess said...

Part of me believes my student loans will never be paid off, especially since I just started adding to them. My congratulations on your achievement.

I loved Persepolis. And the sequel. Fast reads, absorbing.

I liked The Book Thief. But did not love it. Thinking back, though, there were some really amazing bits. I might not have been in the right mood.

Rogue Librarian said...

Congratulations on the loans! That’s such a great feeling.

I would recommend you to read Sandman before Neverwhere. Though I liked Neverwhere it didn’t strike me as having the complex brilliance that reflects Gaiman. I liked American Gods as well, but it was a little slow. I’m actually writing several posts at the moment and one of them is the best graphic novels and Sandman is towards the top of that list.

lazy cow said...

That's great news about your student loan! Now you can spend the extra money on more books :-) I could have had a free tertiary education but futzed around 1/2 way through my degrees, taking years off here and there and ended up having to pay for 2 years. Only myself to blame.

lazy cow said...

Oh yes, and definitely return The Mermaid Chair. Middle-aged angst indeed.

David said...

Congrats on your loans.

Now you can go for a PHd


Crankyputz said...

Congratulations on paying off the loan. Fifteen years is insane! PHD is definitely the next path...

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the list. I just got a huge stack of books from the library, took them home, looked at them, and decided I didn't want to read any of them. Don't know why. So I'm in need of new suggestions, and I put CLOUD ATLAS and ST LUCY'S HOME...WOLVES on hold.

Also, your mention of PERSEPOLIS made me very happy. It is my favorite* book in the whole wide world!

(*I apply this term promiscuously.)

MsCellania said...

Wow! It's like getting a huge raise - paying off those student loans!! Congratulations!
Another friend recently paid off her loans - they had a small windfall from selling a house, and they used some of their equity to pay off her student loans. She is still clicking her heels about it.

And thanks to you literary types, I am squeezing in reading time again. I remember you saying you even read at long stoplights! I keep a book with me at all times, out and 'at the ready'.

Amy said...

this calls for a huge celebration!!

Oh, and I sit and look over all the books you're reading and wonder how on earth it can be that I'm still trying to fight through "Stones from the River" which I've had for the last three weeks and I'm still not halfway through. It just isn't holding my attention at all, but I don't quit on books so I'm TRYING.

hungry in LA said...

Congratulations on the payoff! Now did you ever finish that bodice for Costume Design?

If the rest of "St. Lucy's" is anything like the title story (Granta 93) then it will be worth waiting for, I drooled over it in a store last week.

Amy - I completely dropped "Stones from the River" and with only a few chapters to go. I know BB's a fan but if it hasn't bitten you yet then give up now.

blackbird said...

So, then, that would be you and K - alone in the 'we paid off our college loans' club.

BabelBabe said...

Haha, Hungry, yes I DID. Well, enough that the fucker gave me a C and let me officially graduate. But I am NOT bitter...

I have not read Am Gods - the only Gaiman I have previously read is Good Omens, which underwhelmed me. It was funny, but not amazing.

And if Stones hasn't grabbed you yet, give it up. Life is too short to read a book you don't love. Although I will say, I did love that book.
I will NOT say What is WRONG with you?! : )