Month: October 2011

31 Oct 2011


I do not like Halloween.

In the interest of having a good time, I roused my sick boyfriend, my indignant roommate, and a number of semi-indignant friends to dressing up and attending a party on Saturday. In the snow.

It wasn’t a bad evening.

But since I got that out of the way, now I can return to not liking Halloween.

Except that I do like a few Halloween type things.

I like looking at pumpkins.

I like Edward Gorey.

I like Werewolf Bar Mitzvahs.

I like The Nightmare Before Christmas.

I like the Halloween episodes of most television shows.

But other than that, I am just a Halloweenie.

28 Oct 2011

this week

This week…

1. I decided there was an extra day in between Wednesday and Thursday. On this mythical day, I would be able to finish reading The Magical Adventures of Pretty Pearl by Virginia Hamilton and then move quickly onto Robin McKinley’s Beauty in time for class on Thursday afternoon.


Let’s put it this way: that day did not occur.


2. I entered Week 8 of the Couch to 5K program… 28 minutes of straight running, no breaks.

I’ve been building up to these “long runs” now, I guess, since Week 5. 20 minutes, 22 minutes, 25 minutes…

but somehow, I haven’t yet increased my distance whatsoever.

I am learning to run farther and farther… while my body learns to run slower and slower.

(And the weather outside gets colder and colder. Gross.)


3. I ate very little other than rice+beans+cheese+salsa because I did a terrible job buying groceries and have lost all will to cook.

Good thing it’s delicious!


4. I forgot to wear deodorant on 3 out of 5 days.

Sorry, world.


5. My sister has not been able to leave the hospital yet 🙁


6. I still do not have a Halloween costume.


7. I am going to attend an author event this evening in Cambridge.

Chris Van Allsburg will be doing a little gig to promote the publication of this awesome new book, The Chronicles of Harris Burdick.

Van Allsburg published this bizarre picturebook – The Mysteries of Harris Burdick – that basically had no linear storyline, a bunch of creepy black and white illustrations, and not much else. Completely baffling as far as picturebooks go. But now, a bunch of kidlit authors have assembled in The Chronicles of Harris Burdick to write short stories based on each spread.

And these are not just your average kidlit authors. We are talking:

  • Sherman Alexie
  • M.T. Anderson
  • Walter Dean Myers
  • Louis Sachar
  • Lemony Snicket
  • Gregory Maguire
  • Stephen King

One such author will also be in attendance at tonight’s event: Lois Lowry.


27 Oct 2011

zippity zound

Elizabeth from Fuse #8 asks:

So let’s say that you are given a chance to name the Sendak book that best sums up your own personal world view. What would you pick?


Although competition is certainly fierce, I will argue that this is the superior volume of the Nutshell Library.

In case you don’t believe me, let Carole King convince you:

25 Oct 2011

Reading Wishlist – October 2011

This month, as I continue to trod across post-apocalyptic landscapes, into alternate versions of the past, and virtual realities, I find myself craving something…


I want non-fiction.

Metamaus by Art Speigelman

The Sibling Effect by Jeffrey Kluger

The History of White People by Nell Irvin Painter

I want essays.

Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And other concerns) by Mindy Kaling

The Child That Books Built by Francis Spufford

The Checklist Manifesto by Atul Gawande

I want memoir.

Monique and the Mango Rains: Two Years with a Midwife in Mali by Kris Holloway

Blue Nights by Joan Didion

Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life by Amy Krouse Rosenthal

I want to be inspired.

Picture This by Lynda Barry

Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott

A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle


I do not want to be escorted to another planet or decade or dimension or enter a space ship of any sort or learn a new type of magic.

The end.

23 Oct 2011

2011 National Book Awards

I really look forward to the National Book Award nominations. I think it’s the bit of suspense – the short list is announced in October and then the winners for each category given in November. Maybe in another life (next year?) I will be able to READ all of the nominees in that short period of time and then be extra-prepared for the exciting announcement.

Anyway, I have read zip, zero, ZILCH of these books.

I have heard only good things about Gary D. Schmidt’s Okay for Now… but I also heard only good things about The Wednesday Wars and I was like “eh,” so maybe he’s just not my style.

I have heard ALL about Chime – great review after great review – and I heard Franny Billingsley speak briefly as she accepted her Boston Globe-Horn Book Honor a few weeks ago, and I have a copy sitting on my bookshelf. But have I read it yet? No.

Flesh & Blood So Cheap by Albert Marrin looks exactly like a book I would love to read – historical with big, shiny photos: like one of my favorite authors, Elizabeth Partridge and all her lovely books. Plus, after considering Phillip Hoose’s work at length, I get a little excited to see juvenile nonfiction back up to bat for the NBA.

I have heard nothing about My Name is Not Easy by Debby Dahl Edwardson or Inside Out & Back Again by Thanhha Lai, but they both seem to be about leaving home and being a cultural outsider. And Inside Out & Back Again? What a cover.

And SPEAKING of what-a-cover… Shine. I’m sure most of you have heard about the nonsense regarding this title. In case you haven’t, Libba Bray puts it… um… quite frankly/awesomely here. For those of you who are not link-clickers or who want to avoid profanity, what happened is this: there was a miscommunication between the NBA judges and everyone else – the everyone else heard “Shine” when the judges said “Chime.” But somehow, this mistake didn’t get caught until AFTER the official announcements, and then a bunch of craziness happened and no, Shine is NOT on the official nominees list.

But I decided to keep it in this post because A) What the heck, National Book Award? Your PR folks are obviously sub-par and B) When the nominees were announced, this was the book I was most happy to see and most excited to read. So, there it is!

22 Oct 2011

saturday morning no. 186

My downstairs neighbors woke up early to resume the loud argument they began last night.

My darlingest of boyfriends has told me to not, under any circumstance, wake him up early.

(My cat, however, received no such warning.)

My breakfast: half a grilled portabello sandwich from last night’s take out.

My singular task for this morning: to finish reading this book before the library closes at 2.

11 Oct 2011

when in new england

… do as the New Englanders do.

It was kind of chilly/overcast… but what better kind of weather to take fancy photos in, my dear?

It didn’t help that my friends and I are just so stunningly attractive.

We picked a 1/2 bushel of apples, but we just kind of randomly picked everything we found.

So when we got home, we spread all the apples out on the counter,

and The Boy laughed at us while we held Apple Draft 2011.

Team Roommate/Me ended up with 20+ apples of various shapes, sizes, and flavors.

We still don’t know what they are.

Roommate said it’s like Bertie Bott’s Every-Flavored Apples.

She swears she got one that smelled like a pumpkin.

Better than ear wax, I suppose.

10 Oct 2011

the meaning of life

I think I accidentally went to an undergrad party last night.


  • Overheard conversations regarding certain party-goers inability to purchase alcohol
  • Games with beer
  • A lot of standing around and walking from room to room
  • The girls in the apartment were not, in aggregate, wearing enough fabric on their bottom halves to constitute a single pair of what we call “pants”

Anyway, so my lazy 26-year-old butt was parked on a couch with a grown-up pumpkin beer in hand, forcing the other two confirmed 26-year-olds in the room to converse with me. I just finished reading Nancy Farmer’s The House of the Scorpion and had begun Nancy Werlin’s Double Helix, so naturally, I wanted to talk about clones.

The clones in The House of the Scorpion are normal, functioning humans who happen to have a perfect DNA match. But because this futuristic society can’t handle the idea of two identical humans having two separate souls, they classify clones as livestock, as property, as less-than-human. Well, actually, the futuristic society probably decided that they wanted to do terrible things to clones (oh, like raising them like animals and eventually HARVESTING THEIR ORGANS) and therefore decided to classify them as livestock to make this legal. But anyway… the clones basically don’t have any human rights.

Now that I finished Double Helix, I know that the book was more about transgenics and eugenics than cloning, but the books raise similar questions. My fellow 26-year-old party-goers and I discussed some of these extremely important genetic questions:

– Do clones have freewill? Does anyone have freewill? If we both have freewill or if neither have freewill, does that make us the same or different?

– Would it be possible someday for one person to be able to control a clone with their brain? Like one computer that can run multiple systems, or networked computers?

– How much can genetic tampering really matter in the long run? Are genes a map that eliminates any concept of free will? Or are they guidelines for someone’s potential to act?

– If genes are a map, then what happens when two people have the same map? Or if people start tampering with that map?

It was all very unintelligible and speculative and really, I just wanted to kill time before I could make a hasty escape from the standing and pantslessness and the music mix that was a bit heavy on the Shaggy.

Suddenly, an undergraduate darted across the room and invited himself into our conversation. “Wait,” he said, interrupting whatever it was we were actually discussing. “Answer me this:

Do you believe in fate or chance?

Do you believe we are meant to be here, that there is some higher power?

What is our purpose on this planet if everything is random?”

Leave it to an undergraduate to bust up a perfectly innocent science fiction discussion and BOMBARD ME WITH QUESTIONS ABOUT THE MEANING OF EVERYTHING ALL AT ONCE!

Ah, youth.

I can say that because I am an old, old lady now.

(Then again, my fellow mature party-goers and I did the following on the way home:

1. Laughed at a piece of mail we found at the bus stop addressed to “He Suc Hwang”

2. Had a really heated, highly mature debate regarding the legitimacy of Beer Pong as a valuable past-time

3. Lost The Game a few dozen times, which hasn’t happened to me since…. you guessed it… undergrad)


Oh, P.S., can we all take a moment to wave at Kayla from Freckles in April? She linked to my post about how much I love stories out-loud and my tiny little blog has never seen so many hits. Despite my lack of interest in dressing myself properly, I have enjoyed Kayla’s blog for a number of months now. Additionally, it is possible that Kayla possesses at least one elf ear.

Exhibit A:

This means we must have some kind of kindred ear communion. Or something that sounds less weird. And perhaps I should consider dressing as a Lord of the Rings character for Halloween, which is exactly one more costume idea than the zero I had before this morning.

03 Oct 2011

stories about stories

I had an English professor for my Senior Seminar who believed 700% in the power of reading books aloud. To your kids. To your students who are kids. To your students who are adults and sitting in their Senior Seminar class wondering why they are being read to instead of lectured at.

I found this awesome, so I took her again the following semester.

We read two books:

There is something special about being read to.

Hearing the words.

Shutting up and listening.

A bit of communion between reader, listener, and story.


An incomplete list of books my father read to me as a child:

Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift

The Neverending Story by Michael Ende (+ other books by the author)

Mary Poppins P.L. Travers (+ sequels)

The Wizard of Oz by Frank L. Baum (+ sequels)

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle

The Boggart by Susan Cooper

The Giver by Lois Lowry

The one I remember most?


It is this totally bizarre German adult fantasy about a girl who rides around on the back of a giant tortoise.


An incomplete list of books my parents tried to read to me but I made them stop:

Hitty: Her First Hundred Years by Rachel Field

The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien

Bilbo Baggins lost my interest about 17 chapters into that cave. Or so I recall.


My boyfriend teaches music at an elementary school. He has a bit of “before school duty” that puts him in a 4th grade classroom for 5-10 minutes every morning with nothing for the kids to do.

He decided to read to them.

I made a book recommendation.

They love it.

He loves it.

I love him.

(And also: holy hotness.)

(It’s the Hot Guys Reading Effect)

(See: Ryan Gosling:


When I’m feeling anxious or listless or general in a bad spirit, this is one way I cheer myself up:

queue up a favorite audiobook.

Really. It’s almost medicinal.

It has to be something with a good audio recording,

something familiar,

something I’ve read or listened to before,

something I pretty much love.

Right now, I am listening to Harry Potter,

and it’s like having a talisman in my pocket,

waiting for me in case I need cheering.