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I just spent the last half hour or so in incredible nerdiness, and now feel compelled to share it with you all. First, since I was putting away my new book purchases, I thought it would be as good a time as any to rearrange my bookshelves. I’ve been feeling a sense of shame over them not being properly organized* so I had at it. Paperback fiction in order by author, then title. Hardcover fiction, children’s paperbacks, children’s hardcover, ditto. Picture books, poetry, ditto. Non-fiction grouped by subject, in no particular order. Some paperbacks aren’t in order because they’re stacked on the bottom, dusty shelf so I can squeeze more in. I realized I own a shocking number of books that I’ve never read (either given to me or picked up at the library booksale for $1 each) and am determined to do something about that.

Then, while I was on the subject of reading, I thought I’d tally up how many books I’ve read recently. I started writing down each title in my notebook around December of 2004, I think, maybe a bit sooner. Anyway, the grand total for 2005 was an even 80. Forty-seven were children’s items (not counting picture books, I’m not that bad) and 33 adult. Thirteen were books I was rereading. That’s a book every four or five days, if I do the math right. In the first three months of 2006, I’ve got 37 titles – 23 juv, 14 adult, and 5 of those rereads. A book every two or three days, I believe. In other words, as long as I don’t slack off, I’ll beat my 2005 record.

The funny thing is that I know some people will read this and think, “oh my God, she spends so much time reading.” And other people will think, “so what? I read 365 books last year.” Some people will roll their eyes at the fact that I 1) keep track of what I read and 2) spent the time tallying it up. Others will think, “ooh, I should tally up what I’ve read!” Please proceed with whichever reaction is appropriate. Have some chocolate, while you’re at it.

Has anyone read The History of Love? Should I make an effort to get into it?

*Totally, completely, 100% kidding about this.

Is there a correspondingly pretentious word (for a school you are about to attend) to alma mater? I’d like to start using it, if there is. Also, it would save me the hassle of deciding whether or not to publicly declare where I intend to enroll and save any privacy hassles.

I find it almost physically impossible these days to not round out a meal with a cup of tea. Breakfast just isn’t the same without (in the absence of coffee). Perhaps a cup of Earl Grey. After lunch, a cup of English Breakfast it nice for clearing the palate. And what is a slice of wacky cake (studded with chocolate chips) without a cup of decaf Irish Breakfast? (I choose to ignore the strangeness of drinking “breakfast” teas after noon.)

The one nice side effect to your pregnant friend suffering from back problems is that her daughter becomes much more eager for you to pick her up. Q likes to ignore me in church these days, or limit herself to casting icy glances in my direction. In her own home, it’s another story. Read her Fox in Socks and Goodnight Moon and The Maggie B. Swing her around the room. Cuddle her. Play catch with a stuffed cat. Make her laugh by swiveling around her baby doll’s head to face the wrong direction. Get a couple kisses as I leave.

I remain on pins and needles about what they will choose to name the baby currently residing in an alleged three cups of amniotic fluid.

On Tuesday I dropped some books off at my neighborhood library (not my place of employment) and just kept walking until I was at my friendly neighborhood used book store, an exceedingly dangerous little house stuffed full of books. I have this problem where I only buy books I know and love. I don’t like to take chances. But, I did manage to pick up Motherless Brooklyn – which had better live up to all the glowing praises of bloggers – as well as The Thief in a cheapo paperback and Beauty in a gorgeous hardcover, identical to the copy I first read at the library as a wee thing.

I would rather keep blogging than go to work.

I was going to get all fancy with this week’s Show & Tell and buy some fancy schmancy chocolates at the Four Seasons and sample them and declare one the winner, perhaps in the style of the Tournament of Books, because that would involve a lot of chocolate and a lot of chocolate is a good thing. And since every has been raving about the glories of Green & Black’s, my heart was set. I noticed their baking chocolate and cocoa in the baking aisle last time I was the Four Seasons, so I was reasonably confident that I would come home with at least one flavor.

Sadly, that was it. Baking chocolate. And while I’ll gnaw my way through just about any chocolate bar, it just didn’t seem right to start my relationship with G&B’s off that way. So instead I present to you one of my old favorites, the Kinder Bueno.

It’s cheap in Europe but the prices are all jacked up here, and if I’m going to pay more than a dollar for a candy bar, it had better be good quality. Kinder Bueno is a nice comfort chocolate, delicious half-melted or chilled. Or, if you insist, at room temperature. Chocolate coating, crispy shell, creamy hazelnut filling.

Now I just have to figure out where to find more Green & Black’s…

(I thought of this falling asleep Sunday night, but yesterday I couldn’t remember what I was going to confess.)

I love making jokes and puns out of bits & pieces of church services and daily readings. Not with any intentional disrespect, but I do tend towards fits of giggling at vespers.

Some are things that people have misheard (especially as children) and told me about, and now that part of the service can’t go past without me thinking of it.

“Oh Lord save the pious” so easily becomes “Oh Lord save the papayas.”

The Feast of the Enunciation.

I can’t go on. You get the idea.

I was well on my way to be virtuous last night, as I got into bed at 11 pm and set my alarm for 7. But then I realized I was quite close to the end of Never Let Me Go and so I might as well finish it, right? Right. Appropriately for the title, it’s a difficult book to put down. You reach the end of a chapter and think, “okay, now I’ll turn off the light,” but suddenly you find yourself halfway through the next chapter. While I’d recommend it, I do have to say that after reading the last page, I wasn’t too sad about letting it go. I didn’t want to clasp it to my bosom like, say, Pride and Prejudice. Nope, just tossed it over the side of the bed (onto the book heap that permanently lives there – side effect of a tiny bedside table) and went to sleep.

I’ve also been on another little Dorothy Sayers kick – listening to The Unpleasantness at the Bellona Club and got Gaudy Night on Netflix. I think my favorite part about the Gaudy Night movie was watching them drink all that tea. The guy who does Lord Peter left something to be desired. He was missing a certain snappiness. No one can come close to the vision in my head. But the tea! The dons with their fine china and pouring in milk and careful stirring. I love England for its tea-drinking habits. Thinking about it, I realized that I love the way tea and coffee are both used in books and movies – an offering of a cup always introduces a nice note of comfort and sustenance. Beverages you could live off.

Go check out Kate’s goats. She emailed me saying, “Keith got me two awesome surprise presents.” And I said, “sweet. are they goats?” Their names are Beezus and Ramona. I am jealous.

I have an announcement. No one else that I know is allowed to get married this summer. Okay? If you insist, you may hold your nuptials in June or July. But under no circumstances are they allowed to be held in August.

Thank you for your time.

PS – not that I am against my friends getting married, it’s just that I wish to share in your joy and eat your cake and wear a nice dress and socialize. And I can’t do that if you all get married at the same time, okay?

More Ireland. Because it came up on my screensaver and I’ve always had a special place in my heart for the alleged “smallest church in the world.” (For scale, imagine us ducking our heads as we went in.) Posted by Picasa

Started here. Lately I’ve been thinking about getting rid of stuff. There are two problems: stuff I don’t currently use but will probably need later, and lack of storage space for stuff I don’t use frequently. I want to be all minimal and streamlined. I feel a bit weighed down by owning large pieces of furniture, which I suppose has to come with adulthood, and the furniture is terribly useful, but I guess I’m nostalgic for the time when I could pack everything I owned into a ’68 Dodge Coronet. But that was when I lived in a dorm and owned two mugs and a bowl and a plate and slept on a single futon. Now there are things like bookshelves and kitchen tables and couches and washers. Just knowing that whenever I move next, it will all have to be lugged around.

I also go back and forth between thinking things like, “I should see how long I can live off the food in the pantry & just buy fresh fruits & vegetables,” and “I could really use some new clothes for spring, nice things that I’ll wear for a long time.” And then I’ll have sushi for lunch and go into a couple clothing stores and not buy a single thing.

Anyway, things to get rid of:

-my desktop computer, circa 1999.
-the leftovers in the fridge that no one will ever eat.
-clothes I don’t wear.
-this quilt. By making it and giving it away.
-the leftover potatoes (check).

Things to acquire:

-a pair of shoes to wear in Kate’s wedding (with this dress, in espresso. Suggestions welcomed).
-a running habit
-new shirts for spring
-coffee. I really really really want to drink my way through a vat of lattes. It is my Greatest Temptation and I’m not holding out very well.
-prints of some of my favorites of the pictures I’ve taken since getting a digital camera.

I could actually write a whole post about coffee right now. (Because of the whole cream/milk addiction and not being willing to stoop to coffee defiled by soymilk, coffee is kind of out during Lent. Not to say that I’ve (ahem) completely abstained.) Coffee is like a really good friend. You spend a lot of time with it, and want to include it in all social occasions. But then Coffee moves away. At first it really hurts. The pain of separation. You cry a little. So many things remind you of your good friend Coffee – the cafe where you used to hang out together, going grocery shopping, waking up in the morning. The pain dulls over time, but you always carry it with you, you know.

Windows, per Blackbird. These aren’t MY windows but aren’t they cunning? This was taken at the caretaker’s lodge at Pittock Mansion, on the staircase landing. There’s a view of trees & brambles down the hillside. You can see my actual windows in the background of lots of pictures I’ve posted, but they’re incredibly boring. Posted by Picasa

I’m not an author either, but like Babelbabe I like the idea of picking five books off my shelf. At first I thought “how will I pick randomly?” and then I realized “because I had a glass of wine more than four hours after my last meal, silly.” Ahem. Because that’s true. It was a very mediocre white (not even a hint of barnyard!) that, if I recall correctly, Kate and I opened over a week ago. I wasn’t feeling picky. Also, I’m alone in the apartment for over a week. This is why I don’t live alone. I’d be uncovered after a period of several months, rolling in a heap of books and muttering something about raw milk.

I digress.

I picked five books, by closing my eyes and picking one off each shelf of fiction.

1. The Pill Versus the Springhill Mine Disaster, Richard Brautigan. Purchased at Powells after Bronwen emailed me many of the poems in college, for $3.50. “I think I’ll get up/ and dance around the room./ Here I go!”

2. The Voyage Out, Virginia Woolf. Purchased on Charing Cross Road for 2.50 (that’s pounds). With, I might add, Bronwen. I think I saved it to read in Italy, at a time when books in English were a precious commodity.

3. The Corrections, Jonathan Franzen. Received from a Stonecutter. Haven’t read yet. Even Kate has read it. Shame.

4. The Joy Luck Club, Amy Tan. I think I bought it at Goodwill. I was going to say I read it for sophomore English, but that was The Kitchen God’s Wife, which I actually prefer, especially when I need a good tearjerker. The movie of JLC? Bores me to tears.

5. Stuart Little, EB White. Bought it at Powells, I think. “He somehow felt he was headed in the right direction.”

Good variety, yes?

In, um, other news – you know how I LOVE the mail? Well, tonight I had an odd feeling as I approached my mailbox. I pulled it all out, fumbled with the key, turned on a light, sorted Kate’s stuff into a stack, and there it was. The return address I’ve been waiting for. But – a moment of panic. The envelope was thin. Thin means rejection, yes? Fat means “we love you! Come to our university and fulfill your destiny! Here are several brochures!” I practically rip open the envelope.

You know when you’re reading something that you know is important? And you try to read as quickly as possible because oh my God the suspense? But you don’t want to miss important details? Mistake “accepted” for “rejected” or some such. Yeah, that’s how I felt.

In the words of Kate’s wedding invite reply card (although not the actual wording of the letter), I was “delightfully accepted” into the library science program at the university of my choice. (IE, the only university I applied to, albeit twice.) Hence the wine on a relatively empty stomach. It all makes sense now, doesn’t it?

March 2006

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