So New, So Fabu

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I spend a lot of time IM’ing with Paul Ryan the Third at work. Below is a small example of this.

Sent at 4:30 PM on Thursday

Michele: what’s that purple pumpkin on your desk have in it?
why am i asking?!?!

Paul: boogers

Michele: i do not want any!
oh good
i really don’t want any

Paul: it’s not actually boogers

Michele: well but you need a place to store those
for later snacking
have you seen this ticket: ?
[Note: we get support tickets from people accessing sites we manage and this one was from some dude and the only text was “I’m new here.” And his name.]
he’s new here.

Paul: ha ha

Michele: i like his succinct attitude and brevity of manner.

Paul: hi, greg. what are your hobbies?

Michele: my hobbies are putting new sheets on the bed, opening a new box of kleenex, and smelling that new car smell.
the man knows what he likes. and he likes what he knows–ie being new.

[Note: heard Paul stifling laughter across the room.]

Sent at 4:41 PM on Thursday

Paul: cool, greg! those are great hobbies. Do you ever publish serious academic papers in obscure fields?

Michele: i sure do!
new age theory and cross-cultural explorations
that’s one
and New-merical Maths.
that’s the other.

Paul: that’s super, Greg. I have several journals that would be just perfect for you and I’d be happy to submit your wacky discipline to our list of disciplines and, with a little luck, it could be approved in our next quarterly release

Michele: New-riffic!

This is maybe more hilarious if you spend all day at our job like we do.


August 2012

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In August this year (you can see this was written at the same time as July’s because I am a slacker and re-use phrases and also my current overuse of parentheses which, trust me, is annoying even ME) I did some stuff. I got a real job! A 40 hour a week, office job! Blergh. But no it’s okay. So far. And it brings me up to six jobs. SIX JOBS. I need to dump some of these. Which should be easy since several of them are not real jobs anyway. Like making bags for Etsy? Considering I never finished setting up the shop that one’s pretty easy to dump. Except now I have these two finished bags and all this material and nothing to do with it all. Good thing I made and sold that Star Wars bag to Ellie. Well, “sold”. I mean I gave it to her so she would feed my cats and water my plants while I went on ANOTHER vacation last month. This one was 11 days in Oregon (pictures here =) Where not only did I spend a lot of time at a house on a lake with my family, but I also went to Powells and made beaucoup bucks selling books AND I attended a book club WHERE THEY READ MY BOOK. It was freaky and weird and awesome and I am so, SO proud of my social anxiety ridden self for going and answering questions and surviving. Those ladies made it FUN too. They were an awesome, hilarious, strong, gorgeous feminine power delight. And even though none of them really read romance novels or like the genre much they still read my book and were happy to discuss it. What else did I do last month? Meh, not much. That was all the super exciting stuff. So, on to books!

Books Read: 15
Books Partially Read: 4
Books Re-read: 8
Books Bought: 9
Money Spent: $98 (damn you, Powell’s)
Money Made: $100 (yey Powell’s!)
Books Borrowed: 6
Books Given: 0

Books on To-Be-Read Shelf: No idea. (I kind of didn’t take note when it was August and now it’s too late)

Favorite Books This Month: For Darkness Shows the Stars by Diana Peterfreund, Seraphina by Rachel Hartman, Pawn of Prophecy by David Eddings, The Far West by Patricia C. Wrede, Chime by Franny Billingsly, and Wings by Shinsuke Tanaka.

For Darkness Shows the Stars, let me set the scene for you here. Imagine dystopic YA crossed with Jane Austen’s Persuasian. Got it? It was awesome. It could maybe have been a little more awesome even but it was still really good. Also it made me want to re-read Persuasion.

Seraphina is about dragons and music and romance and species-ism. It’s the first book by Hartman and for once reviews didn’t let me down (see least liked books for this to make more sense in context this month). Anyway, I liked this one. Good world-building; interesting, flawed characters; fleshed out details…I look forward to reading more set in this world.

Pawn of Prophecy is a re-read. David Eddings’ Belgariad series were a staple of my youth; I read them for the first time in 6th grade. They’re the first fantasy books I ever purposefully bought myself (at Crown Books back in the day when that existed here) and I DEVOURED THEM ALL that Christmas on the drive to Oregon, in Oregon, and the drive home. Then I went and bought more of his books. I am re-reading some of them now though I’ve gotten hopelessly bogged down in the Mallorean this month. Belgariad is all good. Mallorean….I’m struggling. I kind of just want to jump ship and go read the Sparhawk series. Sigh. I’m persevering. Anyway this is the first one and they’re epic fantasy about a boy discovering his birthright and questing and magic and religion and so on.

The Far West is the third in Wrede’s 13th Child series which is a magical Old West kind of thing which is really good. This one was all about an expedition into uncharted territories west of the Mississippi where more is revealed and more magic happens. I wanted EVEN MORE to happen. And I’m not sure if this was a trilogy and so it’s over or if there will be more. I hope there’s more. I want her to do more amazing things. (Review of the first one here.)

Chime is one I’ve already read before and I raved about it to an unparallelled degree making comparisons to one of my all time favorite books–The Changeover by Margaret Mahy. Second reading totally held up, it is a fabulous book completely captivating a reader with the wonders of language and play.

Wings is a graphic novel about a dog with wings and the family who takes him in. I love love loved the art (I bought it in Bandon, OR at the bookstore completely because I flipped thru and thought it was so pretty). And then I read it and it is super bittersweet but lovely still. I must remember to see if the library has other stuff by him.

Least Favorite Books: Fifty Shades Darker by E.L. James. I KNOW ALL RIGHT. I didn’t finish it. Sheesh. And The Unnaturalists by Tiffany Trent which I had high hopes for but then it was just boring and no good. Sad. You just can’t trust Amazon reviews sometimes–or, more accurately, America. YOU CANNOT TRUST AMERICA TO VOTE ON THINGS PROPERLY. (Mostly this shouty-capital reaction is due to my terror of America’s voting on the TV show So You Think You Can Dance but it’s also a shade of trepidation for the elections in November. Because I’m multi-faceted like that. I can care equally about America’s Favorite Dancer and the next President of the United States, all right? Fuck, I’m not that shallow. I care a lot less about SYTYCD, don’t worry.)


July 2012

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In July this year I was working at a couple of my jobs–for Sean Penn, for Aaron and Tami, on my bags/Etsy shop, and still selling Book ‘Em as per usual. And then I also went on the houseboat for 11 days for Adam’s 40th Birthday (pictures here). I was still kind of sick and broken but getting better. And I read some books! 19 to be precise (and you know how I love my precise math). One of them was Fifty Shades of Grey. I wanted to get that out right at the beginning so you’d know what kind of month it was (ONE WHICH IS STILL AFFECTING MY WRITING HABITS). I would say I’m sorry, but I kind of love shouty-capitals too much to really mean it. I am sad about the demise of eye rolling as a form of free expression though, I will say that. I crafted a whole fictional scene in my head about it WHERE NO ONE GOT SPANKED.

Books Read: 19
Books Partially Read: 8
Books Re-read: 3
Books Bought: 4
Money Spent: $28
Books Borrowed: 20
Books Given: 1

Books on To-Be-Read Shelf: NO IDEA.

Favorite Books This Month: Honestly, nothing so great that it deserves mention. Maybe Driving Miss Daisy by Alfred Uhry. I read that for the last Finer Things Club (pictures here). It was delightful. This was my book report to Nuala about it (since we were reading books set in Atlanta for the sole purpose of telling her about Atlanta, her new home), “driving miss daisy is not really relevant to the atlanta of TODAY i don’t think. also you’re not a rich old white widow hiring a black man to chauffeur you around so that’s not relevant either. but you could be SOMEDAY. so make sure you let him have a tin of canned tuna every once in a while (that’s a thing). i thought it was a really good play. well written and detail articulated in tiny ways.”

You know what I didn’t like though? LOTS OF THINGS. All right, I can see you rolling your eyes at the shouty-capitals. Shut it.

Least favorite books: Fifty Shades of Grey by E. L. James. You know what? DON’T WRITE A BOOK ABOUT BDSM WHEN YOU’RE GOING TO DENIGRATE PEOPLE WHO CHOOSE THAT LIFESTYLE. Also, maybe just don’t write a book when you’re a shitty shitty writer. LIFE LESSON.

Also I disliked: Scandal of the Year by Olivia Drake (some crappy romance), The Long Earth by Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter (I was very sad about not loving this one), Deep Dish by Mary Kay Andrews (which Christine read for FT Club), The Demon Trapper’s Daughter by Jana Olivier (one of my other Atlanta ones–YA supernatural BAD), Purity by Jackson Pearce (really only her djinn one was any good and even that one wasn’t very good), and Magic Bites by Ilona Andrews (once you’ve already read the Anita Blake books apparently you just can’t commit yourself to reading similar things. Or at least *I* can’t.)

I also apparently liked (enough to put a heart by it anyway which in my comment system means I liked it a lot but didn’t think it was significantly awesome as literature [stars denote that]) Team Human by Justine Larbalestier and Sarah Rees Brennan. I remember reading that one on the houseboat and I remember liking it but heart level of like? I don’t really remember that. There’s a new SRB that just came out though which I am uber-excited for–Unspoken. It should arrive this week in the mail. Fingers crossed, honey. I might just have to go re-read the Demon’s Lexicon trilogy to renew my (slightly) crazy love for SRB.


Peach me, I’m peaching

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Once upon a time (last summer) I bought a peach tree and planted it in the front yard.

Look how tiny it was once upon a time!

I watered it and fed it and picked off all its leaves when it got peach leaf curl. And eventually it grew taller than me!

And then it started growing peaches.

Now, all of a sudden, long before I was expecting it, those peaches are ripe. One fell off the tree this morning so I thought I would try eating it (because, yes, I normally just pick food up off the ground and put it in my mouth. I washed it first. With the hose.) It was perfect. And so were all of these.

Princess Beef is sad that she’s not allowed to eat any. I’ll rub the soft, fuzzy skin on her face so she’s doubly jealous. Someday, PB. Maybe next year.

There’s even still some on the tree that didn’t seem quite as ripe. Oh peach bounty, you have graced me.


June 2012

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So June. From what I remember it was cutting down some pine trees in the backyard and seeing a wide variety of movies. Oh, summer time when the weather gets horrid and the blockbusters come out. How I don’t actually like you at all. Give me Autumn or Winter anytime. I read a lot last month. Admittedly 23 of them were manga that I’ve read before.

Books Read: 44
Books Partially Read: 4
Books Re-read: 23
Books Bought: 6
Money Spent: $0
Books Borrowed: 17
Books Given: 0

Books on To-Be-Read Shelf: 46

Favorite Books This Month: Losers in Space by John Barnes, Brotherband Chronicles: Invaders by John Flanagan, A Night Like This by Julia Quinn, Underworld by Meg Cabot, A Midsummer’s Nightmare by Kody Keplinger, Out of Sight, Out of Time by Ally Carter, Dead End in Norvelt by Jack Gantos, and The Girl Who Was On Fire ed. by Leah Wilson.

This is way too many.

Losers in Space is this awesome sci-fi adventure about the consumerism nature of celebrity and sociopath methods of obtaining fame IN SPACE. It’s about a bunch of teenagers with famous parents who need to make themselves famous too and so they stowaway on a space ship which then blows up and they have to survive a really long time in space. There’s also a talking elephant. I am telling you at first I was like, these people are horrible, but by the end I found it a completely enthralling story. Really good.

Brotherband Chron: Invaders is the second in Flanagan’s new series about some Viking teenagers, sailing, pillage, revenge, redemption, advances in ship design. It was good for the sophomore effort. I’m looking forward to the next one.

A Night Like This is the second of Quinn’s in the Smythe-Smith series. The Smythe-Smiths are a family in…Victorian(?) England–it’s a historical romance. I didn’t love it as much as the first one (or some of her other books) but it’s still good and has some awesome secondary characters (the girls the heroine is the governess for especially.)

Underworld is the second (seriously several seconds here) in the retelling of the Hades/Persephone story by Meg Cabot. I thought this one was waaaay better than Abandon (first book). The characters were better, the plot was better, it was more engaging all around. The characters are renamed Hayden and Pierce and they start out in the Underworld in this one with some mature (delightful) scenes.

A Midsummer’s Nightmare is the second book by Keplinger set in the same town as The DUFF. It is nowhere near as good as DUFF but it’s okay. It’s about a girl and guy who have sex and then discover their dad and mother are marrying one another and they have to live together for the summer. The back stories for these two were kind of poor and I didn’t feel their motivations. But I loved the reappearance of characters from DUFF and the easy fluff of it all.

Out of Sight, Out of Time is the…4th? or 5th maybe in a series about female teenage spies and their boarding academy. This was possibly my favorite of the series. The last one was mediocre/terrible. This one was great. The main girl, Cammie, disappears for months, loses her memory and then has to piece it back together to find out what she’d been doing and where she’d been. It was realistic and gripping and had a lot of great relationships/character development

Dead End in Norvelt is a semi-autobiographic tale of Gantos’ childhood growing up in a pre-fab community started by EleaNOR RooseVELT. Jack spends the summer grounded for cutting down his mom’s vegetable garden and writing obituaries for an old lady down the street who has arthritis. Christine told me about this and said she hadn’t laughed so hard in ages. I didn’t laugh that much but that’s possibly because I focused way too much on the death subtext (see my favorite quotes below). It’s not even really SUBtext. A lot of people die. It also won the 2012 Newberry Award.

The Girl Who Was On Fire
is a collection of essays by YA authors writing about The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins. Some of the essays are really thought-provoking and interesting. Others I had less interest in based on my personal preferences for literature and what I read it for. Still, if you like Hunger Games I’d recommend checking this out just to get some alternate viewpoints. I really liked Jennifer Lynn Barnes’ contribution, “Team Katniss” where she argued that being Team Peeta or Team Gale was stupid and she’d rather be Team Katniss. She made several comparisons to Buffy (which I also love) which were fascinating–on the theme of reaction vs. action heroines and self-sacrifice/living is harding than dying. ALSO she compared Katniss to Buttercup (one of my other absolute favorite characters–The Cat Who Refuses to Die. Seriously I would have been more distraught if that cat didn’t make it than I was over Prim dying.)

Least Favorite Books This Month: Article 5 by Kristin Simmons, The Selection by Kiera Cass, Immortal City by Scott Speer, and Fever by Dee Shulman.

Article 5 was this horribly written dystopic future with bad characters and plot.

The Selection is about a group of 36(?) girls chosen to compete in a reality show for the hand of the kingdom’s prince in marriage. It’s basically The Bachelor with some side elements of civil war. It was kind of a love/hate thing for me. I mean, it was bad and I kind of hate the main character and her inability to figure out who she loves (this triangle business is getting OLD, people) but at the same time, I kind of enjoyed the plot and the relationships between the girls. I’ll read the second one but I don’t recommend these to anyone else who doesn’t want to waste time of their lives.

Immortal City is about angels who decide to charge for their services. You pay enough and you get a guardian angel. It’s sad. Also it browbeats the reader with the message that selfishness is bad while simultaneously reinforcing how selfishness is special and gets rewarded. It pissed me off. It’s badly written and just a mess a lot of the time. The author contradicts himself a couple times like he forgot his own plot. I can’t believe I read the whole thing. I want to say I’ll never read the sequel but it’s possible I might be an idiot and unable to help myself. I hate myself for this weakness.

Fever is a time travel book about a gladiator and a girl from the 21st century who are destined and linked and blah blah. It took way too much time and unnecessary prose to set up the link and for them to even meet. Seriously it was like way over 200 pages before they met. There’s a surprising amount of science in this which was vaguely interesting but which the author seemed to be trying to make big reveals about when it was already obvious how the whole business worked. Will I read the sequel? Maybe. I hate myself for this weakness too. Just don’t read it in the first place. Learn from my mistakes.

Book Quotes I Liked:
From Jennifer Lynn Barne’s essay in The Girl Who Was On Fire ed. by Leah Wilson, “Team Katniss”:

“Sometimes it is about the girl.”

“Katniss isn’t the kind of hero we’re used to seeing…She reacts more than she acts. She’s not a Buffy. She’s not a Bella. She limps across the finish line when we’re used to seeing heroes racing.”

From Dead End in Norvelt by Jack Gantos:

“‘How does a town die?’ I asked.
‘One old person at a time,’ she replied deliberately.”

“‘How can dying be good for you?’ I asked
‘When living is worse,’ she replied matter-of-factly.”

“‘When you are young,’ Mom said, ‘You only see how death affects the living. When you get older you worry about how your death will be greeted by those who are already dead.'”

From Beguiling the Beauty by Sherry Thomas:

“…I like being made to feel that she’s been waiting for my return so she can tell me everything. I like remembering that even though I can’t have everything I want, I’m still an extraordinarily fortunate man.”


First World Problems

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For the first time in years–or at least as long as I can currently remember–I have no library books in the house looming over my head with their due dates, forcing me to read them before I can do anything else. This is incredible. I thought if this day ever came–Honestly, yes, I HAVE dreamed of it–I would do so many things. I would immediately read all the books on the to-be-read shelf, I would party and see people I never get to see because instead I have to be at home reading library books, I would watch movies until I was ill. Yes! I had all these plans!

Instead I just checked my library holds to see when new books would arrive. There’s only one “in transit” and I’m still 56 in line (which is an improvement on the 350 I started out as) for Fifty Shades of Grey.


Fiery World


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At the beginning of the month I took advantage of the free day for museums in SF (first Tuesday of every month) and went to the see The Cult of Beauty exhibit at the Legion of Honor.

It was not as awesome as I was hoping it would be as there was less paintings and more interior decorating but there were still some amazing pieces that I’m glad I got to see. In particular this one:

Midsummer by Albert Moore

Which reminds me of this one (which wasn’t there even though many other Frederic Leighton ones were):

Flaming June by Frederic Leighton

These images paired along with all the interior design elements made me long to paint a room orange. Orange! Glowing, gorgeous, gaudy.

“Beauty reveals everything, because it expresses nothing.
When it shows itself, it shows us the whole fiery colored world.”
-Oscar Wilde, The Critic as Art (1890)

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