Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Harry, Keep the Change

Okay, I mentioned a big Harry Potter post, but now that I think about it, I should probably parse them out a bit, or this’ll be too huge. Plus, I’m writing at work and am going to try to do it quickly, just to get this party started, as it were. Here’s the book, once again (yes, I look at Harry Potter websites when I’m bored—shut up).

The discussions in the book are all very thoughtful—often presenting both sides of an argument before stating the theory they think is correct—without being too horribly fan-geeked out and over the top. You can imagine that the authors had their discussions WIHTOUT the need to brandish wands or dress in Hogwarts regalia, for example.

So . . . Let’s start with one of my favorite topics:

The authors come up with some pretty convincing arguments that Snape is . . . good. This makes me happy, because there are a lot of reasons I want Snape to be okay. I want Dumbledore to have been right in trusting him. I want to not have misinterpreted Dumbledore’s, “Severus, please,” at the end of HBP—I maintain that he wasn’t pleading for his life, but for Snape to make good on a promise he’d made to Dumbledore earlier. I want Alan Rickman’s jolly little moment of smacking together Harry’s and Ron’s heads in the Goblet of Fire movie to not have been bogus (which I think it would be if he ended up evil). Most of all, though, I want Rowling to have created a disagreeable character who is not bad, because I think it’s the whip when people who write for kids acknowledge that characters can be complex.

MN argues that Snape only became a Death Eater because he was in Slytherin and super-talented, and found that his skill gave him a measure of approval and protection from his Slytherin peers and elders—the future Death Eaters. He sort of absorbed their doctrine and followed along. Not anything to be proud of, but understandable.

Also, the MN authors argue that Snape was indeed in love with Lily Potter, and that his “filthy mudblood” outburst at her when she told James & Co. to leave him alone was generated from embarrassment and plain adolescent behavior than from hatred. So if he loved Lily (because he was an outcast and she was popular and pretty and kind to him—why wouldn’t he love her?), he would have felt terrible upon realizing that he was responsible for her death. Add to that the fact that James had saved Snape from being attacked by Lupin-as-a-werewolf (remember that?) and thus incurred a life-debt to him . . . And he’d want to make up for the whole passing on the part of the prophecy he heard and getting the Potters killed thing—so much so that he probably made an unbreakable vow with Dumbledore. And thus, when he made the vow with Narcissa in HBP (in front of that raving bitch, Bellatrix), he knew he was essentially dooming himself, but did it anyway.

One of the MN arguments I like best is that in OotP, when Snape is giving Occlumency lessons to Harry and realizes that Harry can indeed get inside his mind, he (Snape) removes only three memories into storage in the Pensieve to keep Harry from seeing them. Wouldn’t the scenario be different if he had something REAL to hide? You’re going to say something about hiding things from Voldemort, aren’t you? How could he keep Voldemort out of his mind if Harry can get in? I don’t know, but like Chekov’s rifle, those thoughts are removed from Snape’s mind and Harry’s view for a reason.

Okay, finally, think of the end of HBP, when Snape is running away and Harry is in hot pursuit. Snape is shouting things at Harry, about things like not using Unforgivable Spells, learning to keep one’s mouth shut, and keeping emotions in check. He’s STILL TRYING TO TEACH HARRY. I like this very much.

The whole thing leads the MN people (and me) to believe that Snape is going to be killed in Book 7, in service to the Order of the Phoenix, and that his death will redeem him.

Okay, I know this is a jumbled mess, but at least it’s something. What do you guys think?

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

"The real hero is always a hero by mistake; he dreams of being an honest coward like everybody else” - Umberto Eco

Seems that other bloggers are having a bit of a writing slump, too. I certainly am. Fortunately I am lucky enough to have Gina as a blogging partner.


There's some lovely writing going on: here.

There're some pretty template changes going on: here. How perfect is that buttery yellow?

And watching these is what I intend to do with any free time, and my laptop, in the next week or so.
Because I saw this show for the first time last night, and it blew me away.

I Read The News Today. Oh, BOY!

This is from The Daily Mail's coverage of Equus, which is getting ready to open in London.

Monday, January 29, 2007

I come from the land of the ice and snow, From the midnight sun Where the hot springs blow

Okay, no I don’t, but it is indeed cold here, and windy. And I woke up with Led Zeppelin’s Immigrant Song in my head—specifically that whiny siren shriek Robert Plant does at the beginning—and since I can’t banish it, I’m sharing it. You're welcome. Enjoy.

So . . . read any good books lately? I have. One of my friends from library school did her undergraduate work with one of the women associated with MuggleNet, which has published a book recently called What Will Happen in Harry Potter 7? How could I not read it, right? I’m glad I coughed up the $12, because it gave me some wonderful HP things to think about while I wait for the fifth movie and the final book. I don’t want to get anyone tangled up in discussions they don’t want to be in, but if you’re interested in some of the things the book discusses, post a comment or send an email. Fun stuff!

My sister gave me the new Christopher Moore, You Suck: A Love Story, for my birthday, and that was awesome for two reasons. I didn’t realize she knew I liked Moore, nor did I realize the book had come out. Whee! This book is a continuation of the story from Bloodsucking Fiends, with a bit of a brush up against A Dirty Job. Abby Normal, the best friend of the girl who works at Charlie’s store in Dirty Job, is featured character in this, and I freaking love her. I won’t say this is Moore’s best book, but it was fun and funny, and I can’t wait for another. I heart him.

I started History of Love, based on BB’s love for the book, and I have to say that I think it’s very, very good. But I put it down. Why? Because The End of Mr. Y, the new book by Scarlett Thomas, who wrote the awesomely cool and fun Popco, came in at the library and I was dying for it. I didn’t want to rush History of Love, so I put it down. I’m glad I did. I love Scarlett Thomas, and I want her to move over here (she’s English) and be my friend. She is SO SMART, and has such an imagination . . . I think that as she develops as a writer (and I really, really hope she continues to write) she’s going to become a very big presence in (on? around?) the publishing scene. Like, I bet Neil Gaiman likes/respects her. She’s super-great, and if you like bookish, nerdy, weird (science-y) fiction with a mystery attached, run out right now and find some Scarlett Thomas. I’m not yet finished with The End of Mr. Y, but it’s almost all I can think about.

One of the reasons I’m not finished yet is because I spent pretty much all of yesterday driving the boy and one of his friends to Canton, Ohio, visiting the Pro Football Hall of Fame, and then driving home. It was a fun day, and a very cool place to visit, and now I’m up for Mother of the Year, but . . . it cut majorly into my reading time.

Oh, one last thing. I just watched Godford Park, and I would like very much to punch Ryan Phillipe in his stupid puffy lips. Anyone care to join me?

That is all.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

"You want to be a part of my life, I'm not editing out the parts you don't like." - Arnold, in "Torch Song Trilogy"

L, this quote is for you, love.

[Clarification: The other L, dear D/L. And not you, my sweet Aussie L. Why are all of you named L names? Sheesh. Must I say Dr L? If I must...]


I seem to have blog block.

So – here it is, all the news that is fit to print, in no particular order (I have to say, no one seems to read on weekends anyway, so I have some time to recover):

Primo, who spent two days at home this week, and almost all of those two days hacking up lungs, went to the doctor this morning and is home resting on the couch, wrapped in blankets and armed with albuterol and a nebulizer, a stack of Beverly Cleary books, and Shel Silverstein’s Lafcadio.

Seg, who wet his bed twice and then MY bed as well last night, also was taken to the doctor where he was tested for diabetes. He is, thank God, negative. So it’s just a developmental thing and the doctor assures us he will likely grow out of it within the year. Meanwhile, NO ONE is permitted in Mama’s bed again EVER.

Terzo had to come to work with me for what I thought would be fifteen minutes and turned out to be more like an hour; he did manage to charm the pants off everyone in the library in that time. Thankfully, we are never busy first thing Saturday morning, and he was mostly content to run his cars in and out, and in and out, and in and out of a cardboard box. Although I did feed him a small bag of Whoppers, too. Most of which he sucked the chocolate off of and then spit the rest out into my hand.

It’s forty-five degrees today! What’s up with that? I was hoping to check out the duck pond at the park as a possibility for some ice skating…

I finished everything I was going to read from David Foster Wallace’s Consider the Lobster and it was just fine. Actually, the lobster piece was interesting; the Tracey Austin piece was hilarious; the piece about the adult film (AVN) awards was…disturbing. Nothing else really did that much for me. Life is too short to read about stuff about which I could not care less. For that matter, it dawns on me that life is too short to read about adult film awards.

I was going to start Inheritance of Loss but just couldn’t deal with it last night, so I picked up one of the books I scored at my extravagant Half-Price Books bacchanalia last week (which I STILL haven’t written about, I should just post a list a la Lazy Cow), Maisie Dobbs. So far, maybe a wee bit pretentious, but fun. Not totally light fluff, and interesting. If you like the Mary Russell books (Peg, I mean you!), I am thinking you will like these.

I am considering taking home John Connelly’s The Book of Lost Things.
I am considering going to see “Pan’s Labyrinth,” by myself if need be, this weekend. Because I want to see it.
And H does not.
Which means I will never ever rent it.
Although I admit I am enjoying our current marathon of “Arrested Development” very very much.

I just want to go home, peel off these dratted tights - God, how I hate tights - put on some comfy clothes, and eat pizza for dinner. Is that so wrong? Said sentiment is what led me to search "Torch Song Trilogy" for quotes; must've been the Harvey Fierstein.


This makes me to laugh and laugh. I remember it as being part of a guest appearance of John Denver's on "The Muppet Show" but I must have imagined that.


So much for blog block.

Friday, January 26, 2007

"Mathematics is not a careful march down a well-cleared highway, but a journey into a strange wilderness, where the explorers often get lost."

My mom would have been seventy-four today.

I am half the age she would have been.

I have never understood those math problems in which Mary is X; Jane is Y years younger than Mary; in fifteen years, how old will Jane be? Or whatever the fuck they are; hell, if I can’t solve them, do you expect me to be able to make up one? But I know you know what I mean.

Yesterday a co-worker was talking about her high-school-aged son’s math homework. She was casually and knowledgeably tossing around phrases like “solving for X” and “linear function” and “invisible number.”

In my small and woefully inadequate private religious high school, you were either “College Prep” (euphemism for “smart”) or “Business Track” (euphemism for “not so smart”). If you were College Track, and I was, you took algebra I in eighth grade, geometry in ninth, algebra II in tenth, trig junior year, and calculus senior year.

Not that I was remotely good at math; I managed to get by and get decent grades, but math never came easily to me. I adored the IDEA of geometry, and I loved the puzzle aspects of calculus. I passed the classes, fervently thanked God I was not required to take any math in college, and ultimately bailed on taking the MCATs because I was reasonably sure I did not possess nor could I acquire any necessary mathematical skills. (Well, that, and organic chem scared the piss out of me.)

So imagine my nausea when L began tossing around these math phrases and it occurred to me that in not too many years I am going to have a high-school-aged child who will be expected to do math homework and who will probably ask me for help. (Although if he really thinks I have the slightest clue, perhaps he’s not as smart as I think?)

THANK GOD I was foresighted enough to marry a mathematics major.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

"Luck consists largely of hanging on by your fingernails until things start to go your way." - Aaron Allston

I read Gillian Flynn’s Sharp Objects yesterday.

I chewed off all the fingernails on my right hand.

Then I chewed off all the fingernails on my left hand.

By the time I started on my cuticles, my jaw was killing me and I was thirty pages from the end.

Good thing, too, because cuticles will only get you so far.

I turned the last page and drew what felt like my first breath in several hours.

And then I went to find the Band-Aids to bandage up my bleeding cuticles.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

"I'm offering you my body and you're offering me semantics." - Caitlin Bree, in "Clerks"

More than one of you has asked if I am pregnant.

(Dudes, is it really that crazy to clean out my refrigerator? A woman at work told me yesterday that she does her ONCE A WEEK. Now THAT'S crazy.)

The answer is, no. As far as I know.

I mean, yes, I ate three doughnuts for breakfast this morning.

And spent all day yesterday trying not to cry (they gave me a new computer at work – yay! They did not reload my personal profile with all my documents, email archives, necessary software, or bookmarks – boo! You would cry too if it happened to you!)

But, I have been back on the pill for a few months now, and my Friend just arrived (2 weeks early – WTF is up with THAT?) and I have a raging headache which is generally a precursor to the migraines I get every month at That Time.

So, signs point to No.

But if I am, Gina has my permission to kill me now.
Oh, I suppose I don’t really mean that.
But maybe I do.


I am finishing up Elizabeth Gilbert’s wonderful Eat Love Pray. I was a little worried that this memoir of a thirty-something woman going off on a world trip to find herself after a devastating divorce was going to be trite, or overwrought, or hopelessly annoying in that smarmy, self-help-book sort of way.

But it isn’t. It so isn’t.

She is honest and intelligent and self-deprecating and humorous, and while sometimes she does veer into territory I am uncomfortable with (especially when she begins to experience God through meditation), she is so forthright about her happiness but also her doubts that she is, quite simply, endearing. She also is fortunate enough to have good friends who manage to help her keep her feet solidly grounded in reality. Gilbert is the type of person that Gina and I would term a “porch friend,” meaning that we can see ourselves enjoying hanging out with her on Gina’s homey front porch, drinking Diet Coke and shooting the shit for hours on end.

This is the sort of book that you copy parts of into your journal, or if you own your own copy (and I intend to buy this), underlining passages that made you stop reading and say, “Hey! Yeah!” so you can find them again when you need them.

I recall vaguely having read some of Gilbert’s fiction (Stern Men?) and being underwhelmed, but I may need to give her novels another shot. And her book The Last American Man about a modern-day Grizzly Adams-type looks downright fascinating.


I picked up Alex Kuczyinski’s Beauty Junkies: Inside Our $15 Billion Obsession With Cosmetic Surgery and Gillian Flynn’s thriller Sharp Objects from the library yesterday on my lunch hour, so today – another cold, snowy, windy day – will be spent, between throwing in loads of laundry and baking a meatloaf for dinner – curled up on the armchair, reading Sharp Objects, while perhaps I let my not-really-sick-but-mildly-not-well children veg in front of “Cars.”


Monday, January 22, 2007

"Oh my God, what a horrible photograph. My first wanted poster and I look just awful." - Babs Johnson, in "Flamingos"

One in an occasional series [6/25]

I know I haven’t posted since Thursday; I certainly meant to on Saturday.

But I had a kinda tough day at work Saturday. Suffice it to say that I had to call the police, and for about an hour I thought I was also going to have to call Children and Youth Services. What with filling out incident reports and whatnot, I didn’t have time to write my “I-hated-The-Emperor’s-Children-and-here’s-exactly-why” post, or any post at all for that matter. Nor did I have time to do my real work, including my yearly self-appraisal or my portion of the annual report.

Yesterday was filled up with taking a nice long run, and then most of the afternoon was spent conducting alumni interviews and writing up the reports for them. God, was I that eager and enthusiastic when I was eighteen? I hope so; I hope the people who interviewed me were as impressed with me as I am with most of these kids.

So here we are, on Monday, and I have some random stuff to tell you.
I have to write a post about my wonderfully extravagant three hours at Half-Price Books last Thursday. I have to tell you about the wonderful book I am reading right now (Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat Pray Love).

But it’s been cold and snowing and icy and now sort of rainy, and all these lovely winter weather phenomena (so much better than the weird sixty degrees we were experiencing last week at this time) makes me glad for my in-laws who departed for Florida on Thursday.

They never went away in the winter before H’s brother moved to Florida, but now they leave mid-January and stay till late March. They sometimes stay with H’s brother and his family, and sometimes my father-in-law loses his patience and checks them into a hotel for a little privacy and so they are not the de facto babysitters. My mother-in-law hates this, but as I have discussed before, my in-laws are two very very different people.

My mother-in-law’s birthday is in February, and last year was her seventieth. All the siblings flew down to Florida to surprise her on her birthday. I pleaded new-baby and stayed here with the three boys.

Her birthday was on a Thursday, and H didn’t want to miss any more work than he absolutely had to, plus he had a gig on that Friday. So he flew down Thursday morning at 9 am, and got on his plane back Friday morning at 7; he spent less than 24 hours in Florida, and less than twelve of those awake. And because he put off buying his ticket forever because he didn’t really want to go, and because there was no Saturday stay, the ticket was a wee bit pricey. But, hey, I suppose it had to be done. Yawn.

He said it wasn’t even that warm there. Really, what’s the point of Florida in the winter if it’s not 1) cold and icy HERE, and 2) warm and sunny THERE?

He did as always return bearing gifts: playing cards with flamingos on them for Primo, a puzzle for Seg, a stuffed shark for Terzo, and this lovely little box for me.

This year there will be no surprise visits to Florida.
Primo said to his grandma before she left, “Daddy went to Florida last winter to see you on your birthday.”
She said, “Yes, he did. All your aunts and uncles did too.”
[Well, except me, but what did you expect from me?]
“I don’t guess there will be any surprise visits this year?” she finished, almost a little hopefully.

Immediately, we all chorused, “Oh, no, NOT THIS YEAR!”
And we meant it.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

"You mustn't hide too well. You mustn't be too good at the game. The player must never be bigger than the game itself." - Jean Baudrillard

I cleaned my refrigerator today.

I threw out the leftover homemade pickles from this summer, and the month-old applesauce, and two half-eaten yogurts, and the A1 Steak Sauce I don’t even remember buying, and the six bread bags, each containing two heels, bread crumbs be damned.

I took out and washed in warm soapy water (as directed) all the shelves and drawers. I took the Lysol and Fantastik to the interior. I wiped the grime out of all the rubber gaskets, and the coil cover. I even managed to get the red marker off the front of the door.

There was a giant splatter of something deep red all down the back of the fridge; it looked like a murder scene. There was also a puddle of something that smelled suspiciously like molasses pooled in the left back corner under the veggie bin, that I had to take a spatula to.

I rearranged all the shelves when I put them back in, so my juices – which I take out once a day – are on the bottom shelf, and the breads – which I take out at least three times a day – are on the top shelf. I swapped the veggie drawer with the fruit drawer, because I use the fruit drawer more frequently and wanted to have easier access. (Hmmm, my OCD seems to be kicking in a bit…) In short, I redesigned my refrigerator to be more user-friendly.

H can never find anything in there anyway; he couldn’t spot a leftover if it leapt out and bit him, so I might as well make it work for me – as I am the primary grocery shopper/putter-away, and cook.

We recently acquired a second refrigerator that lives in the basement, for the stocking-up of chicken nuggets, waffles, and frozen pizza; for the beer and soda; for the five pounds of chicken breasts that were on special. I love having a second fridge, and as my only working oven is also in the basement and my pantry is on the landing to the basement, there’s a part of me that’s tempted to just set up my kitchen down there and be done with it.

I could call it my “Passover kitchen” or my “little old Italian lady” kitchen. Or I could call it my “Someday I am going to trip and fall up the basement stairs while carrying hot things” preventive measure.

Or I could just admit the truth (but only to you), which is that I hide in the basement when I need peace and quiet for ten minutes, under the guise of sorting dirty laundry or keeping an eye on something in the oven.

And that I have taken to keeping a book down there, to read while I am “keeping an eye on something in the oven.”

Don’t tell.

Martha, My Dear

Those of you who know me may find it odd to learn that I asked for and received Martha Stewart's Homekeeping Handbook for Christmas. I'm not among the legions who despise Martha, and I love books about housekeeping--I always have.

The book weighs about 9,000 pounds, and it's filled with all kinds of good stuff about pretty much anything that has to do with taking care of your home. Cleaning, caring for things, organizing . . . it's all there. There are good pictures that guide you through things, great lists and schedules, charts and tables. The writing is nice, in that placid, competent tone Martha usually projects; it's actually pleasant to sit and read through, even though it's meant to be more of an Index/TOC kind of book.

If you like Martha, or you like books about housekeeping, it's worth the admittedly steep price. It's also a good gift for someone you know who might like (and not be offended by) this sort of thing.

One of my favorite tips: When you use spray starch when ironing (I just got a new iron, so I'm on a kick), you have to give the starch time to absorb into the fabric. Otherwise you risk getting those chunky little flakes that will force you to put your pants right back into the laundry and ruin the outfit you'd planned to wear to the stupid freaking baby shower you didn't want to waster your Sunday going to in the first place.


So. Martha. The book really is a good thing.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Happy Birthday to you...

Happy birthday to you
From, well, you know who!
I haven’t seen you in ages,
And I’ve never been any good at writing poetry!
But I mi-i-issssssssssssss you!

"Your birthday as my own to me is dear...
But yours gives most; for mine did only lend
Me to the world; yours gave to me a friend."


Happy Birthday, dear Gina!

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

"My mother told me to be wary of fauns."

I was all set to go to a movie tonight, one of the very few that have even remotely interested me in the past months. A local public radio station was hosting a members-only showing of “Pan’s Labyrinth” and ever since the first time I saw that...creature...with eyeballs in his palms rather than his head, I knew I wanted to see it. Stephanie Zacharek of Salon liked it very much, and I trust her totally.

I honestly cannot remember the last time I went to a movie theatre to see a real, live, grown-up movie (“Cars” and “Pooh’s Heffalump Movie” while perfectly fine and even entertaining movies, do not count.)

I have heard from several reliable sources that “Labyrinth” is very VERY violent. It’s set in Franco’s Spain, so the violence doesn’t seem very surprising, and its director drew heavily on his fascination with the classic fairy tales, so even less surprising then. I was prepared, even though “The Godfather” is about as much movie violence as I can handle easily. (I may be the only person on the planet who has not seen “Reservoir Dogs,” the Matrix movies, “Kill Bill,” or “Pulp Fiction” and that is why.) (I haven’t seen “Titanic” either, but that’s just because I am smarter than the average bear…)

I got to the movie theatre at 640. Seating was meant to begin at 7, the movie at 730.

But it seems that the radio station was not the only entity handing out passes, and the movie had earned a Golden Globe nomination for Best Foreign Language Film, and even though the radio station had been “guaranteed” enough seats, alas, there were NOT enough seats and my coworker and I did not get in.

We were offered free passes to see anything else playing, as long as we used them tonight.

“The Painted Veil” had already begun; I had no interest in “Dreamgirls,” “Rocky Balboa,” or “Blood Diamond” at all; or “Night at the Museum” without my kids; and B had already seen “The Good German.”

We accepted defeat and went and had a beer. If I looked like this, I would've been able to see what beers they had on tap without falling off my barstool...

The Ghost at the Table

I just finished this at lunch, and while it wasn't at all bad (I finished it, after all), it was less than I'd hoped it would be. In fairness, whatever book I'd read after The Girl in the Tangerine Scarf was going to suffer purely because it wasn't TGitTS, but still . . .

The book is about middle-aged sisters and their father and what may or may not have happened in their pasts. Everything is brought together in what I admit is a pretty deliciously tense family Thanksgiving at the elder sister's perfectly restored New England home, but nothing is resolved in a way that I could really care about.

There are some sloppy bits to the story, too, and the attempt to connect the characters' lives to the lives of Mark Twain and his family falls really flat. Berne includes a sister in the story who lives and dies pretty much completely outside of anyone's lives . . . it's weird. There are some parts that just sort of dangle around like threads that should have been trimmed, like the narrator's niece's possibly self-cutting. What? When? Why? And speaking of the narrator, you come to find that she's not the most reliable in the world, and I guess that hit me too late to not feel jerked around.

Hmm. I guess I liked this even less than I thought. If it's been on your list, you might want to give it a miss. Not because it's awful, but because there are better books to spend your time with.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Ave, Caesar, morituri te salutamus. ("Hail, Caesar, we who are about to die salute you.")

Seg’s new favorite word: Shit.


Also, everything that comes out of Seg’s mouth at the moment is a whine, right out of the gate. There’s no escalation because he’s being ignored or denied, it just automatically emerges as a whine, and more often than not, a LOUD crying sort of whine. I am at my wits’ end.

On the other hand, Primo doesn’t even need the flimsiest excuse anymore to poke, prod, pinch, punch, trip, smush, or hipcheck Seg. His new favorite thing to do is snatch Seg’s beloved baseball hat off his head and throw it somewhere semi-inaccessible, like behind the couch or down the laundry chute.

Here’s how stir-crazy *I* have become: I snapped at Terzo this morning, “I don’t WANT to read your book right now. Can’t you watch TV with your brothers?” (In my defense, I had already read both Duck is Dirty and The Wiggles Learn about Shapes about sixteen thousand times before breakfast.)

I pin the main impetus behind all this insanity to the rain – the seemingly never-ending, cold, dreary rain that has been pissing down for almost six straight days now. My backyard is a mudpit, everything feels clammy, and we haven’t seen the sun in way too long.

Today’s plan, because we are all off school due to MLK Day, is to get some of the yayas out: we are meeting some other moms and kids at the church to take advantage of the wide-open space of the parish hall, to play some soccer or football and run around like loonies. Then I promised my boys a special-treat lunch at McDonald’s, the one with the giant indoor Habitrail, er, playground, to finish off the rest of the yayas while I plug away at The Emperor’s Children which I am finding tough going because there is not single character I give a shit about in the least. (Holy run-on sentence, Batman!) Anyway, they’re all self-absorbed assholes, and the writing is self-consciously convoluted. I will give it a few dozen more pages and then it will be put aside for Intuition.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

“If ...the zoo is closed, come over to the Senate. You'll get the same kind of feeling and you won't have to pay." - Bob Dole

Movies I want to see:
“Miss Potter” with Renee Zellweger (not that I am a huge Beatrix Potter fan particularly, but this got good reviews)
“Pan’s Labyrinth” (which I am seeing Tuesday evening and CANNOT WAIT. The still with the creature with eyeballs in his palms….chilling. CAN. NOT. WAIT.)
My new DVD of “Love Actually”

TV shows that are sucking me in:
Arrested Development
The Office

People I would like to have tea with, if by TEA you mean, well, um, TEA. Nice and hot and strong, Irish Breakfast or Ceylon, with milk and sugar, and maybe some homemade chocolate chip or oatmeal cookies on the side:
Colin Firth
Alan Rickman
AS Byatt
Madeleine L’Engle
Jessa Crispin
Lucinda Wyman
Marc-Andre Fleury
My Australian blogger buddies

Books I am finishing:
One Good Turn - Kate Atkinson.
MUST own this as well as Case Histories which I must now reread as well.
I am just the wee littlest bit in love with Jackson Brodie, whom, if I recall correctly, made my list many eons ago of fictional characters I would like to, erm, bonk.

Books I would love to find in a used bookshop somewhere, as they are sort of - or in some cases, prohibitively - expensive on Amazon and/or
Miss Buncle’s Book – DE Stevenson
Miss Buncle Married – DE Stevenson
Refuge of a Scoundrel: The Patriot Act in libraries – Herbert Foerstal
Surveillance in the Stacks: The FBI’s library awareness program – Herbert Foerstal (these are research for my at-the-moment-stalled novel)
Father Christmas/Father Christmas Goes on Holiday – Raymond Briggs (I know they’re listed cheaper, but every time I order one, I’m told it’s out of stock “at that price.”)
(And the copy of JRR Tolkien’s Letters to Father Christmas was not AT ALL what I was expecting, and I am greatly disappointed. I wanted the copy with the letters that come out of the envelopes, a la Griffin and Sabine. Speaking of, did you know about these, Gryphon and Alexandria? Saw them on the bargain table at B&N last week and am thinking of returning to buy them, to complete my G&S collection…)

What people were reading on the 6:15 500 last Tuesday:
The Wall Street Journal, Introduction to Japanese Linguistics, an article from some medical journal, and A Spot of Bother (me). All men, this time. Except me, of course.

Websites I return to again and again:
The Personal World Clock, so I don’t call Suse or IM Rogue Librarian at three in the morning their time.

The British Library, Turning the Pages (Be warned, it takes up a lot of bandwidth, and you need Shockwave, but it is so worth it!) I especially am liking Jane Austen’s history and Alice.

More Comics Curmudgeon, on political cartoons.

Language Log, the fault for this particular addiction lies squarely on the shoulders of Hair-in-his-Eyes Guy.

I am not sure exactly how or what I feel about these things:
A book vending machine

The Swedish Librarian Fashion Show (courtesy of Mr Darby Dixon)

An issuing of Ellen Raskin's newly-found manuscripts, including a seuqel to The Westing Game, and a reissue of one of my favorite children's books EVER, The Tattooed Potato. I mean - the new manuscripts could be brilliant. Or they could be abysmal. Who can know?

Puffins cereal - or rather, I should say, I like these, but my boys? Not sure. They do NOT like these however. But H has put the kibosh on their beloved Honey Nut Cheerios due to its high sugar content.

People I would thoroughly enjoy pushing under a bus right about now:
George Bush Jr.
Britney Spears
Angelina Jolie
H (who rearranged the Thursday babysitting so he could go to band practice while I was at work, said he’d take the day off so I could still do my thing on Thursday (this week it was a haircut and some Half-Price Books shopping…) and then at 745 that morning told me he had a mandatory meeting at work at 9am. To which he went. And my babysitter did not arrive until 2 pm. I went to work at 3, and, yep, you guessed it, H went to band practice. Also? The Honey Nut Cheerios thing.)

Things that worry me:
People who think it is acceptable to answer and talk on their cell phones while using the bathroom, and more importantly, while *I* am using the bathroom.

Kids today!

Polar bear root canal - let’s face it, it’s not as if the Pittsburgh Zoo has such a stellar reputation for care of their animals.

Having to explain to Segundo how and why the polar bear died.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

"Years may wrinkle the skin, but to give up enthusiasm wrinkles the soul.” - Samuel Ullman

You know when you finish a really good book, a book you really enjoyed reading and would have stayed up all night to finish except you know The Baby wakes up at 530, and you can’t wait to read another book by that author?

Except all too frequently the damn author (and I mean that lovingly) has only written one or two novels, which you have read, and you are consigned to awaiting his or her next novel – maybe a year if you are lucky (Joyce Carol Oates, John Grisham, Alice Hoffman), or sometimes many years if you are not so lucky (AS Byatt, JK Rowling, Beth Gutcheon), or they have died or quit writing (Robertson Davies, Rosamunde Pilcher).

I find myself in this position having finished Mark Haddon’s newest book, A Spot of Bother, surreptitiously and totally illegally, at work, at the reference desk, this evening.

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time was good.
But this book, Haddon’s sophomore fiction effort, is brilliant. The people in this book are so real, you feel like you are reading about your own family (or for those more normal people among you, perhaps the dysfunctional arm of your extended family, or if you are really really normal, maybe your best friend’s or husband’s insane relations.)

So there you are, our book reccs for the day:
The Girl in the Tangerine Scarf from Gina;
A Spot of Bother from me.

Go forth and read.

Remember Me?

Hi, all. I've been quiet for a very long time, I know. I haven't felt like sharing some of the things that have been going on lately, and . . . a lot of the other stuff that's been happening has been nice or happy or comfortable, but patently unremarkable. So I've been lurking around and checking up on everyone, but just keeping quiet because I haven't had anything good to talk about.

Which leads me to The Girl in the Tangerine Scarf. Read it, people. It has become my new favorite book. I got it from the library, based (if I remember correctly) on Maureen Corrigan's raving about it on Fresh Air, and now I can't wait to buy it and own it and look at it every once in a while and read it again.

The book tells the story of a Syrian girl whose family is transplanted to Indiana in the 1970s. It's a great coming-of-age story on its own, but I have never come across a book that has made Islam feel so real and matter-of-fact. The main character, Khadra, lives in a very orthodox community, and all of the details--the good and the bad, the light and the dark--are there for the reader to experience with her. I truly feel like I have an increased understanding of what it's like to be a Muslim American (and why it can't be an easy thing to be).

I was surprised to find how similar it seems to me that Islam is to other orthodox religions, like Judaism and Catholicism--even the Mormon religion. So many of the traditions are the same, or stem from similar things . . . it makes it clear how the feelings can be so intense, but it also makes it even more difficult to understand how there can be so much hatred in and among them. (It was also interesting to see how similar the Muslim community was to the Hoosier community it was in but so isolated from.)

The book also gave a look at things like Israel and Palestine, the Sunnis and Shiits, and African Muslims from a viewpoint that I'd never been able to really see/experience before.

All this in a readable, fun, funny, touching novel.

I can't say it loud enough: READ THIS BOOK.

You'll thank me. I promise.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

"The greatest dangers to liberty lurk in insidious encroachment by men of zeal well meaning but without understanding.”

[I rarely get political on this blog, but I use the above quote deliberately, after learning of President Bush's intentions to send more troops to Iraq, exacerbating the mistakes he (now) readily admits to rather than solving one damn thing.]



Hey y'all, it's National Delurking Week!

Dear Blackbird is asking lurkers to comment.

I like to kid myself that I have a faithful and loving, if relatively silent, readership.
And I have no desire to have my dreams dashed.
Although I do - more often than is good for me - check my stats on Sitemeter.

But Happy National Delurking Week anyway!
I love you all, my sweet little Internetties.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

"...and I have more faith in a shadow than in the church." - Ferdinand Magellan

I finished Nicole Krauss’ The History of Love on my lunch break; in fact, I was ten minutes late coming back, despite knowing I was on Virtual Ref at two, because I HAD to finish it.
I liked it.
I liked its two protagonists, Alma and Leo.
I liked its complexity, and the uncertainty of its plot, and the uncertainty of its characters.
I liked the subplots, and the minor characters, who despite not being heavily involved in the story are developed perfectly, lightly yet completely.
I liked how…unresolved...the entire book is, and yet, when you are finished, you take a deep breath and sigh, "Ah!"

I liked it enough to recommend it to people, and I liked it enough to plan on buying it, and I definitely liked it enough to reread it. In fact, I imagine it will be even better upon a second rereading, that its complexity will be better revealed to the enlightened reader, and its dark history and plot twists better illuminated.


The library’s new popular book order came in over the weekend.
There are almost a dozen books that were on my list that have arrived.
These are the four I am taking home:
Intuition - Allegra Goodman
A Spot of Bother - Mark Haddon (looks like a fast read)
The Emperor’s Children - Claire Messud (if I hate this, it came come right back)
Consider the Lobster - David Foster Wallace (I can hang onto this and dip into it over the next few weeks, one essay at a time)

It pains me to leave behind Lost and Eat, Love, Pray and What Came Before He Shot Her and The Inheritance of Loss and Special Topics in Calamity Physics but it also makes me happy to know they will be there waiting for me when I need another good book to read.


Gina is reading The Girl in the Tangerine Scarf which is the third time in as many weeks that I have encountered the title. I just requested it from the library, along with The Echo Maker.


Thanks to Lazy Cow (and I mean that sincerely, rather than my usual, “Oh, great, now I have eleventy gazillion *more* books to read, thanks, LC!”), I am currently enjoying The Heart of Darkness, delivered in installments (42 total) to my email inbox each morning. DailyLit is the greatest idea! I plan on “reading” Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle next.


Yesterday evening when I went to B&N to exchange my journal, I was waiting in the cash register line and overheard the woman in front of me bemoaning to the clerk (a woman I know by sight, with whom I share reading tastes) the lack of any decent books. They agreed that Water for Elephants was wonderful, and mentioned that Chris Bohjalian has a new book in advance-reader copies. Since I had just spent forty-five minutes wandering the story mentally piling up purchases, I couldn’t help myself but spoke up and asked if she’d read Broken for You. The clerk peremptorily called the back of the store and made them bring her a copy, which the woman promptly purchased, and thereafter followed a lovely fifteen minutes with two simpatico readers, comparing notes and books and want-to-reads. It was as refreshing to my soul as I imagine a church service is to more spiritually-inclined people.

Monday, January 08, 2007

"I should like to know what's the difference between a little pig and a little girl that wanted it Christmas every day!"

Who says that spending has to stop with Christmas?

Yesterday was orthodox Christmas which I grew up celebrating, and I continue the tradition with my children, even though THEY are only a quarter Ukrainian. So, one last present for everyone. I always loved celebrating this holiday because it eased us out of the holiday season. We received one small present from my mom, and she cooked a traditional Ukrainian meal – although I confess we did not eat halupchi last night, but steak salad. Then the tree came down, the decorations were put away, and life returned to normal. Or as normal as it gets around here.

Friday I went to Famous Footwear, to buy new running shoes, desperately needed even before my New Year’s resolution not to be such a lump. I am usually an Adidas girl, but the only Adidas they had were all leather and I like the mesh ones as (TMI!) my feet sweat a lot. So I bought these, they’re size 10 so probably half a size too big, and they are not Adidas, they are New Balance: I took ‘em out for a spin on Saturday and I think they’re going to be just fine, once worked into the running shoe rotation (don’t ask).

Terzo was with me and he helpfully pointed out (by yanking off the shelf the entire column of boxes) these snazzy leather boots, on sale for less than half-price: I have heeled boots, and I have snow boots, but pretty, flat boots that I can wear to work, no. But I do now.

And the boot racks were right next to the clearance racks. I wear a size 9-1/2, and there are often many shoes this size on the clearance racks because most people do not have Sasquatch-sized feet. And these were there, and they were cute if not at all my style, and they were practically giving them away.

Gosh, I dislike feet. (So I will show you mine! Sorry.)

So – all done spending. Time for ascetic living, and commercial restraint.

Except I had not finished shopping for my nephew yet, and Terzo and I spent a lovely morning in B&N this morning.

For my eighteen-month-old nephew, I selected Richard Scarry’s Bedtime Stories, which is only fair as I claimed early all of our jointly-owned Scarry books, and a board book of The Monster at the End of the Book. (It was a toss-up between this and Jamberry and I ultimately picked Monster purely because it was four dollars, not eight.)

For my sister-in-law, I followed the established tradition of giving her a book I had read and loved during the past year. She receives Broken for You and a little black lined moleskine journal which, frankly, I wanted for myself.

For my little brother, I picked up The Confederate in the Attic, he’s a Civil War buff and this looked funny and unusual and not like something he would pick up for himself even if he’d have fun reading it.

For me, a new plain journal. My last one was bought off the clearance table and had a quote from the Desiderata on it. I wanted the plainest one I could find this time around. Unfortunately when I got home I found it was quad-lined, not regularly lined, so it will have to be exchanged.

So – all done, right? WRONG.

Bath & Body Works sells this wonderful lemon-verbena perfume I love and wear almost every day; H got me a big bottle for Christmas - only it wasn’t the perfume, it was body splash. I went to the store with the intention of exchanging it only to discover that they are discontinuing the perfume. Of course. (These are the same people who discontinued the single best lip balm I have ever found. In fact, I seem to be the Kiss of Death in these matters. History is full of products which have been repackaged, reformulated, or just plain discontinued the minute I discovered them. Probably wise to never go cosmetics shopping with me.) So I did what any normal woman would do: I bought the last three bottles of perfume they had in the store.

So NOW I am done spending money.

Honest to God.

Well, except for the DVD of “Love Actually” I just ordered.
And the two hundred dollars worth of groceries I bought.

I think I am going to have to send the children out to work.

Friday, January 05, 2007

"The snow goose need not bathe to make itself white. Neither need you do anything but be yourself." - Lao-Tzu

One in an occasional series [5/23.]

A few months after I got married, I quit my (fairly lucrative) job as a scenic artist to go work in a bookstore. I had had it with the painting world – the lousy hours, the terrible working conditions, the chemicals and toxic materials with which we worked as a matter of course, the hard manual labor much of the job required.

To apply for work at Borders back then you had to take a little test along with filling in your job application; I am almost certain they are not even permitted to do this now. You had to provide authors for a list of book titles; you had to provide a title for a list of authors; you had to assign to the proper section a list of book titles. It wasn’t easy, but for a voracious reader it was simple enough, made even simpler by the fact that I pay attention to politics and world events as well.

I worked 37 hours a week and was paid a pittance, but got full health bennies, five days of paid vacation, a 20% employee discount, free coffee at the café, and a $35 book allowance each month. Also, a little known fact: we were permitted to borrow new books, even while they were awaiting their sale date, and read them, as long as they were brought back in pristine condition. I was in heaven.

I would say, as a general rule, bookstore staff are generally the most overqualified people you are likely to encounter. All of us had at least a bachelor’s degree; a revolting number had master’s degrees or were working on them; two of the clerks had Ph.D.s. We all shared a healthy disdain for professional sports, Oprah books, and the entire Dummies series. We debated whether it was better for a child to not read at all rather than read R.L. Stine’s execrable but wildly popular Goosebumps books; we looked down our noses at the grungy music store staff; and we laughed at people who bought Danielle Steele novels, John Gray self-help books, or any of the Star Wars novelizations. (No one said we were MATURE.)

I eventually wormed my way into the good graces of the special orders clerk, a strange little man with multiple neuroses, who came from a wildly rich but incredibly dysfunctional (think television-miniseries-dysfunctional) family, but who for some reason liked me very much. He taught me how to process special orders, how to unpack and confirm and sort and organize the boxes and boxes of books that came in each day, and how to track down, log, and route store requests (those books that another Borders was asking us for, rather than the distributor). He was definitely preparing me to take over his position at some point, perhaps when he was made an assistant manager, as he hoped to be.

Our current assistant managers were a diverse group: Mac was a big, goofy, shambling bear of a guy who didn’t really seem all that smart, and probably wasn’t; Carole was crafty and comfy and warm, always ready with a smile, a sympathetic ear, or a scone (she ran the café); Lew was quiet and sarcastic, and I had such a crush on him I couldn’t even speak around him - so of course he was the on-duty manager any time I fucked up my register count; and Maria was a frighteningly ambitious Latina lesbian who scared everyone else to death, but she never bothered me. (I think she liked me because I wound up becoming very good friends with her girlfriend, whom I adored; I’d have gone after Danielle myself if I were permanently inclined that way.)

There were a couple of people whom it was understood were being groomed for promotion: Craig, the periodicals guy - who left to go to grad school in Boston; Liz, the trainer - who got married, had a baby, and transferred to a New England Borders; Ryan, who had been in seminary before working at the bookstore and is now a local manager of a different branch; and Debbie, who was funny and smart and took no shit from anyone, who runs one of the college bookstores here in town now.

Our special events coordinator was a weaselly little man with a downtrodden-looking wife he’d married under duress (she was pregnant). He was fired after, on some insane impulse, he BOUGHT rather than rented a piano for an in-store event, spending his entire budget for the year - in February.

Virginia took over for him; Virginia was a petite and beautiful Quebecoise who had moved to Pittsburgh with her doctor-husband and their two children. Once the kids were old enough to be in school all day, she was bored with the obligatory Junior League and Ladies Auxiliary events so she got a job in the bookstore. She had a ton of useful social contacts, and the poise, tact, and grace of a diplomat; she was the perfect fit for the special-events coordinator position. She is also sweet and funny and a dear person, whom I have remained friends with and who spoils my children shamefully.

I had a blast working at Borders; I worked there for a little over a year. But I was getting tired of living on my barely-over-minimum-wage paychecks; I was getting tired of the increasingly politicized atmosphere of the corporation; and I hated that we each no longer worked in our own sections which capitalized on our specialized knowledge, but were expected to do everything from shelving books to sweeping floors in the café. I was lured back into the world of scene painting by a generous job and salary offer that would permit me and H to travel as much as we wanted, with few money concerns. (We managed to hit Paris, London, and New Orleans before I got knocked up with Primo.)

I kept in touch with only a few people after I left; I stopped going back to the store to visit because it’s hard to have a relaxing knockaround a bookstore when you are stopping every two minutes to talk to people you like - and people you don’t.

Jono, the special orders guy, and I still email each other; he is the manager of a college bookstore somewhere in midstate NY. But when he comes to Pittsburgh every Christmas (his girlfriend lives here), we get a group of select ex-Borders employees together for a long, luxurious, boozy lunch at either Virginia’s or Jono’s club.

Generally the group is comprised of me, Jono, Jono’s girlfriend Mamie, Virginia, Lew (who no longer intimidates me at all), Craig, and Debbie. Last year Debbie brought her sister who lives and works in China; the two of them had just returned from China two days before.

Debbie brought us presents: little enameled boxes, each with a carefully chosen motif. Terzo was three months old, so mine had a baby on the top, a little Chinese baby with a spitcurl...

and a penny inside, for good luck in the new year.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

"You must be the short depressed kid we ordered."

A really good book will start off interestingly enough to catch and hold your attention; the middle will concentrate on developing character and intelligent plot, and the end will, no matter how neatly (or not) wrapped up, leave you wanting more.

You Gotta Have Balls follows this formula almost exactly -- in the opposite direction. I pushed through the wishy-washy beginning, its nonstarter women’s group subplot and the introduction to the whiny, neurotic, and insecure Ruth, to get caught up in the strong, funny characters of Edek and Zofia, and their crazy scheme to open a New York restaurant specializing in meatballs, and finished reading this afternoon, glad to be shot of the increasingly irritating Ruth, and hoping against hope right up to the end that Brett sees fit to consign her protagonist to a undignified death under a bus’s wheels.

What, as we said eons ago when I was in high school, is her major malfunction? She is never happy, revoltingly needy for a supposedly successful adult woman, completely unappreciative of her self-sufficient and vibrant father, and resentful of any scheme that doesn’t center on her. I could not understand how her children could stand to be around her, how her best friend can stand her, or why on earth her husband decides to return from Australia where he has blessedly escaped for a six-month-long business venture.

My initial complaint about the novel was that I found the written accents/dialects distracting; I kept thinking, OK we get it, Edek talks like the ancient Polish-emigrated-to-Australian Jew he is, do you need to spell it out Every. Single. Time. He. Speaks? But after a while, I fell into the rhythm of that and found it sort of endearing in an exasperating way.

I NEVER found Ruth endearing in the least.

We never find out why Ruth is so opposed to her father’s girlfriend, we don’t find out what Garth is doing in Australia and why Ruth is so insecure about him being gone; we never find out more about Ruth’s issues with her children. There is so much in this book that is glossed over; I couldn’t decide if Brett was being lazy or just circumspect, leaving plot twists and deep dark secrets to the imagination of the reader.

Would I read another Lily Brett? Maybe.

IF the subplots were explored and developed instead of penciled in as if for further development.

IF the characters were allowed to develop via actions and interactions rather than cutesy accents and the egregious use of metaplasmus (the term for a literary device which I feel compelled to use because it took me half an hour to find out what the heck the use of spelling to delineate dialect was called!)

IF the protagonist was not a thoroughly unlikeable, whiny, neurotic, moody, in-denial depressive that drove me batshit crazy.

That's a big IF.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

"He thought he saw a Banker's Clerk / Descending from the bus..." - Lewis Carroll

Number of people reading on the 5:05 71A: 7 (including me)

Books being read:
You Gotta Have Balls - Lily Brett (me)
The Secret History - Donna Tartt
Brunelleschi’s Dome - Ross King
A Terry Pratchett Discworld paperback
A dark-covered book with a title something like Suicide Hangover

Try as I might, I could not see what the other two people were reading.

“New Year's Resolution: To tolerate fools more gladly, provided this does not encourage them to take up more of my time.” - James Agate

My children are sleep-deprived, punchy as hell, sugar-hyper, and the littlest one is constipated. The past week they have been averaging 930 pm bedtimes and 930 am wake-ups, easily two hours off their normal schedules.
My house is a disaster area, every surface seemingly covered with little bits of torn wrapping paper, plastic detritus from toy packaging, and Christmas tree ornaments the cats have tired of playing with. There is Silly Putty welded to Seg’s comforter, and crayons, books, and papers scattered throughout Primo’s bedclothes.
We have no fewer than three half-finished jigsaw puzzles on the dining room table, which has been stripped of its coverings for use as the work zone. The tablecloth and festive poinsettia runner are wadded up on the armchair which we moved from the entryway so we could fit the tree there.
My vacuum cleaner has stopped functioning, its hose clogged with pine needles and cat fur. The Baby thinks that poking a chopstick into the various hoses and attachments is a new game derived for his pleasure.
My refrigerator is full of leftovers like Oreo cheesecake, sauerkraut, and turkey wings; nary a fruit or veg to be seen cowering behind the pyramid of wine and beer.
Our recycling pile looks like we’ve been eating our breakfast Cheerios and washing down our pb&j sandwiches with liquor.
I have six baskets of clean laundry to fold and put away – and I hope to God one of them contains clean school uniforms; I have five beds’ worth of sheets to change and launder, and two bathrooms to swab down. I have pine boughs to remove from the mantel, strings of lights to remove from the outside bushes and porch railings, and about sixteen phone calls to return, not to mention the pile of mail to be opened, thrown away, or otherwise dealt with.
I still have one teacher present to ante up, and three Christmas-present-containing packages to mail.

I return to work tomorrow; Primo returns to school. H returns to work Wednesday, and Seg returns to preschool. I will heave an enormous sigh of relief, and set about my new year, satisfied with my New Year’s resolutions to 1) be more patient – letting go of instead of fixating on what irritates me - with H and my children (but mostly H, the squeaky wheel and whatnot...); and 2) to do something relatively physical at least every other day, whether it be ice skating, walking, swimming, running, or even a nice fast game of street hockey with the boys. I don’t necessarily want to lose a ton of weight, but I would like to fit back into that cute jean skirt I bought just before I found out I was pregnant with Terzo; I just want to be a little more comfortable in my own skin.

I want to read more, complete the Winter Classics Challenge, and keep working on my book.

Heck, 2007 might even be the year I try cottage cheese.
Or not.
I mean, let’s not get too crazy now!

Happy 2007, everyone!