It’s my last chance to get my only post in this month. (Wet noodle flogs for me!) I can’t even believe where March went. Or February, for that matter. It’s like, somebody sends you this link to your work email with these incredible aerial photographs all over the world, in vivid hues, sharp detail, just gorgeous, then the next thing you know you’ve scrolled to the bottom and you’re clicking the link for Cats with Mustaches, or Awesome Tombstones, to heck with that report that needs your bleary proof-reading eyes all over it! Where does the time go? I’ve noticed lately that I’ve been taking a rather, shall we say, cavalier approach to death lately, (I recently wrote a very catchy little song about death, “Yeah it’s about death, but it’s fun!” Like Seinfeld: “But she’s a cute Nazi!”) so I’m quite enchanted with these light-hearted tombstones. It seems like some people figured out that it’s their last chance to have a say – to get the last word in.
What the hell?!
I really have no idea why Lori and I have both been on such a long break from our little blog space. I hope you’ll find it in your hearts to forgive us, former loyal readers.
I’ve been up and down and all over the place lately and felt reluctant to share my many neuroses and issues here. I didn’t feel like I could share anything without sounding like a big old Eeyore, I suppose, but what the heck. Don’t people read blogs because they like reading that stuff? A bit of schadenfreude drives some of us to read blogs, I suppose. Also, snoopiness. I love reading all the details of other people’s lives. But, writing about my own? I feel like a great big boring dufus.
So, you missed all the details about the Home Show Andy and I went to. Sorry! And, you haven’t heard a thing about our new dishwasher. Dang! See?!
I have to admit that I wasted quite a few hours watching this very scary TV show on DVD, often through my tightly closed fingers:
Andy and I have watched four seasons of it now, late at night, after Lily’s in bed. Have you ever seen it? It’s about Dexter, a serial killer who works for the police department in Miami. My favorite part of the show is Dexter’s sister. She has the most incredible potty mouth, plus she’s a great actress. I can’t believe I’ve watched such a bloody, gory show because I am such a wimp about this kind of stuff, but I can’t help it. I am weak.
Soccer season is here and we are smitten, even though Lily and I had to bail on the Sounders home opener because she was sick. After being so excited about Nkufo joining the team last year — you know, before he ever actually played in a Sounders uniform — I quickly grew tired of his lackluster effort on the field when he finally did show up. He never seemed to commit. I guess that’s why I was one of the few people who wasn’t surprised when he and the Sounders “parted ways” last week, on the first day of the season. We still desperately need someone besides Montero who can score goals and I’m not sure that O’Brien White is that man, but maybe he’ll surprise me.
Hey, did I tell you I’m taking an exercise class? Jesus. I am pathetic. I am the most out of shape, least-coordinated exercise class participant you can imagine. The teacher is a saint and I love her, but I sure am horrible at just about every aspect of the class, even when she modifies the exercises so that my little brain can grasp the sequences. I will write an entire blog post soon about the class because I need to tell you at length just how challenging it is for me, but I’m too tired at the moment. She kicked our butts today and just about every muscle in my body aches right now.
Okay, dears, thanks for coming back. I promise to avoid such long breaks in the future (without warning you first that I need some space).
What are you doing tonight, Monday, Feb. 28? Here’s a fun option (if you’re not stuck at work until 8 p.m., like me). Go to Elliott Bay Books and join the Nancy Pearl celebration!
Elliott Bay Books and Sasquatch Books are honoring Nancy because she recently won two fabulous awards: she was named “Librarian of the Year” by Library Journal and she is receiving a lifetime achievement award from the Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association.
I think most of our readers know how fond I am of Nancy and how indebted I am to her for helping me get my start as a librarian, and for her support ever since. I am thrilled that she is receiving this well-deserved recognition and am honored to say that I got to play a small role in the awards process. I was approached by the person who nominated Nancy for the Library Journal award to write a letter of recommendation, so I did, of course. It was fun to write and truly satisfying to recount the many ways in which Nancy has spread the great word about reading, not just in the U.S., but all over the world. She has been a tremendous ambassador for books and reading and librarianship. And she still is, every single day!
The festivities start at 6 p.m. tonight and include wine and appetizers and a brief talk by Ms. Pearl. You should go (and tell her I said “YAY!”).
I know you are wondering where I found such a great image. I will tell you. I found it at The Commons on Flickr, which is an online collection of publicly-held images. I learned about The Commons last week at Online Northwest 2011, a conference I attended in Corvallis, Oregon. It bills itself as “a one-day conference focusing on topics that intersect libraries, technology and culture,” which is true, but it’s also a place where you eat a lot of food, all day long, and develop new crushes on smart, cute librarians with tattoos (as if I didn’t already have enough of those — crushes on smart librarians, not tattoos).
My friend Bob invited me to the conference this year, just like he has for the past few years, and I finally took him up on it. Bob is married to Pam. I met them through my good friend Kenneth and we hit it off because of our shared interests. If you think of a Venn diagram, where Bob is A and Pam is B, I’m a pretty good C. Also, as I’ve stated here before, I have a great deal of fondness for people who are writers, readers, and rockers who make me laugh. Bingo!
Pam and Bob live in Vancouver, WA, so it was terribly convenient. I stayed with them for a couple of nights after taking Amtrak down there, Bob drove us to and from Corvallis the next day, and then Pam and I did some Portland sight-seeing the following day. We checked out the progress the workers are making on PGE Park, which is being renovated to accommodate the new Portland MLS team, the Timbers. We also went to Powell’s, of course. Here’s my favorite purchase. Before I showed it to Andy, I said, “You are not going to believe the book I found and that I didn’t already own it.” He said, “Is it Iggy Pop’s Underwear?” No, it’s better.
Plus, Pam cooked some wonderful food and I got to eat some of the granola that I’ve read about on her blog for years. Each time she mentioned making granola on her blog, I’d think, why don’t I do that? It sounds delicious. Now I know for a fact that it is.
Have I mentioned Bob much on this blog? I don’t have the patience to search through earlier posts to find out, but here’s what you need to know — he knows way more than I do about everything, on any topic, at any time. If a song I know comes up on one of his random mix CDs, I can maybe name one member of the group. He can name them all. I can barely come up with the fact that a former instructor we both had at WWU directed a TV show about a witch. Bob immediately names both the show AND the actress who played the witch. Bob consumes popular culture and technology by the gallons, while the rest of us are taking little drips out of an eye dropper. We think we’re sucking down pints. We’re not. His appetite for experiencing life is absolutely amazing. I can honestly say I’ve never met anyone more interested in participating so fully in life. So, as you can imagine, being around him for a couple of days is humbling and inspiring.
And, speaking of humbling and inspiring, Pam is just as amazing, but in a different way. She’s also very tuned into a variety of interests and topics (like professional soccer, hooray!) and lives a very full life. Pam is a writer and I’m a great admirer of her work. She does lots of other stuff well, too, but the trait that just levels me is her focus. She is insanely organized, focused, and productive. Plus, she’s smart, attractive, funny, and in excellent shape. Damn.
So, I came home from my trip (which was a bit complicated by a mud slide on the train tracks north of Vancouver) and thought, “Wow, not only am I not very smart, I’m super disorganized, fat, and my house is a mess.” I didn’t have time to wallow, though, because I had to work bright and early the next morning and then join friends for a fun dinner at King’s Hardware. (Have you ever eaten there? Wow, those people are so nice! Really!) Then I worked the next day and realized that just about everyone I work with is unhappy. It’s a sad time at work these days and I honestly have no idea if it’s going to get better.
What should one do when faced with so much uncertainty? READ! And then read some more. And avoid the computer! Thanks to my friend Linda, I read a couple of very good books that she either strongly recommended or loaned me (I Think I Love You by Allison Pearson and The Imperfectionists by Tom Rachman). Then I read a couple of others that were on my own list (Let’s Take the Long Way Home by Gail Caldwell and Poser: My Life in Twenty-three Yoga Poses by Claire Dederer). Now, I’m listening to an audio version of You Know When the Men Are Gone by Siobhan Fallon and finally reading The Keep by Jennifer Egan, thanks to Lori. Reading has been my salvation this past week while my family and I have battled various illnesses and I’ve tried not to obsess constantly about the state of things at work. As I told a co-worker on Monday, I really want to work with grown ups. And, you know what they say: Grown ups enjoy reading, also.
I’ve never been one of those girly-girls, or sophisticated women who go in for manicures, or gets her nails done. I was once in a small group of women talking and they came around to the subject and each in turn extended their hands out gracefully to show off their nails. I reluctantly pulled my hands out of my pockets and stuck them out with nothing to show but the most recent ragged break from who-knows-what, just walking around and living, but most embarrassing the tell-tale signs of Cheeto residue staining my fingers orange. Sure, I keep them trim, sometimes file them when they don’t look right, but painting them and sitting patiently while they dry and not being able to do anything with my hands is torture. And painting my right hand with my left? Might as well be using my feet to do it! (The result looks like the notes I write to Joe pretending to be one of the cats, using my left hand, pen in fist like it’s a paw: Deer Mstr Jo, plz chanj r littr box.) How do people keep them that way? Don’t they open doors, fumble about in their bags looking for chapstick, shift gears, cook, touch people, type, text, wipe???!!???
I do like to paint my toenails. It’s a pleasant hot-weather ritual, and my toes don’t seem to get into nearly as much trouble as my hands do. I deviated from my usual classic red to a vibrant green this last summer, but my toenails looked so much like green M & M’s it was kind of disturbing. I caught Joe looking at them hungrily from time to time. When my own stomach starting growling when I looked down at the bright little candy coated toes around lunch-time I knew it was time for a change.
I have fond memories of my father painting my mother’s toenails, he on the floor at her feet tenderly holding her soft, white foot, tiny brush held steadily as he stroked the wet paint onto each nail. It seemed so romantic, and I believe it was, though thinking of it now in the guise of a much more cynical adult it may have been largely because my father’s such a perfectionist (while my mother is more of a let’s just get it done kinda of a gal, to hell with the details), and wanted them done Exactly. Right.
I have painted my fingernails to accessorize a costume, or more recently, for a show, because I thought it would be fun to see shining, brightly colored fingertips on my guitar strings. Of course, I waited until two hours before we were ready to pack up our gear and go, and the nails were getting damaged before I even got out the door; one index fingernail had the look of the puckered skin of a top of a pudding, or a circle of creosote that’s hot with summer heat that you push with your foot and it gets all sloughy looking like the skin around an elephant’s eye, or mine after a bad night. By the end of the show it looked like I’d been trapped in a coffin alive, trying to scratch my way out. I was quite taken with the purpleness, though, so maybe I’ll try again. My interest was piqued by some glow-in-the-dark polish I saw when I was being overwhelmed by all the choices I had picking out the perfect purple. Joe volunteered to paint them for me next time, which is very thoughtful and romantic of him….
Congratulations to us! We’ve made it to 300 posts, which is kind of impressive, don’t you think, considering we (I) started this as a lark?
You know what’s even more impressive? Lori’s in a rock band! Being the horrible friend that I am, I missed her most recent gig (it was a cram-packed weekend, full of heavy-duty grown-up stuff, so something had to give, okay, I’ll stop defending myself now, Lori’s been great about it, but I still feel awful that I missed one of her shows), which was at a bar in Kenmore last Saturday night. It sounds like it was a great gig and somebody captured one of the songs on a recording device. YAY!
Behold the Basementeurs! That’s Lori, smacking the bejesus out of the marimba, and that’s her adorable husband on lead vocals. I am not worthy!
UPDATE from Hannah: Hi, there. Just fixed an earlier typo and noticed that the video seems to be playing a tad jumpy when embedded in this post. If you’d like to see it flow more smoothly, just go straight to youtube with this link:
I couldn’t whittle it down to 10, so 11 it is. These were my favorite reading experiences of 2010 — books that I wanted to read RIGHT NOW while delaying everything else.
Thank you, Lori, for inspiring me to do this. I re-activated my long-ignored Goodreads account today and will try to keep track of my reading this year. I had a tough time remembering which books of 2010 were my favorites, so I’ve learned my lesson! Plus, I’ve read some wonderful books already in 2011 (one or two of which will end up on my 2011 list, I’m sure), which clouded my memories of last year’s reading. I’m feeling my age, people!
Okay, without further ado, here they are, my favorite reads of 2010:
The New York Trilogy by Paul Auster (on audio)
The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender
Room by Emma Donoghue
A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan
The Unnamed by Joshua Ferris
Freedom by Jonathan Franzen
Father of the Rain by Lily King
Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann
Life by Keith Richards
Just Kids by Patti Smith
Brooklyn by Colm Tóibín
I was very clever this year and kept a list of all the books I read, though I did start on the last page of a blank book and went backwards, so looking at it chronologically was a bit warped. Of the 60 books I read I narrowed the list down to 15 using a rating system of smiley faces clumsily drawn in by the title (the only way I can draw), and still don’t know which ones I’m going to brutally hack off. Does it get the axe if it was on someone else’s list from last year, if it was just so massively popular I shrink from putting it out there because I like to think of myself as a non-conformist even though I know I am not in many ways whether I like it or not, if it was so silly that I’m embarrassed? Or take the easy way out and re-title the post to Lori’s Top 15 Books of 2010? Let’s see what happens. Alphabetically:
Beat the Reaper by Josh Bazell
The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
The Power of One by Bryce Courtenay
The Passage by Justin Cronin
A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan
The Keep by Jennifer Egan
Zeitoun by Dave Eggers
Freedom by Jonathan Franzen
Mennonite in a Little Black Dress by Rhoda Janzen
The Girl Who Played with Fire by Stieg Larrson
Just Kids by Patti Smith
The Help by Kathryn Stockett
This is Where I Leave You by Jonathan Tropper
Well! My favorite decision-making tactic: when in doubt, do it all! Though I did cut one out, because I pumped myself up to a state of ruthlessness for about 2 seconds. Two books I did not finish this year were The Towers of Trebizond by Rose Macaulay, which maybe I just wasn’t in the mood for, and one I not only did not finish, but removed from my shelf and sold — the very disappointing, fidget-making, producer of many heavy exasperated sighs, Beatrice and Virgil by Yann Martel. That one gets a frowny-face in bold in my book.
As expected, and fervently wished for, Joe gave me Life, the Keith Richards book Hannah talked about last month (scroll down, ya lazy sod, I’m not giving you a link to a post you can see down below!). I just finished it last night, and must admit it’s partially responsible for my long absence from writing here. Well, that and a few other books and life and such. (True confession: I would pretty much rather be prone on our love seat, book propped in front of me and purring cat on my belly, than just about any other thing in the world. Add to that my family in the same room doing the same thing, and a crackling fire in the fireplace and you can label it Lori Nirvana.) Keith is the quintessential rock and roller to me – the gnarly pirate with kohl-lined eyes who just lives to play the guitar. I loved reading about everything from his career progression to his day-to-day life to his recipe for bangers and mash. As Hannah said, his voice is very conversational, and I went to bed and dreamed of him talking to me as if I were still reading. (He even confessed in one dream he could never do an F chord, and I was thrilled!) His slurry English voice took over my waking thoughts, too, so I found myself thinking like a crusty old rocker much of the time the last couple of weeks… I do need to consult with my guitar friends on a few of the technical things, but I understood quite a bit of it, running to the CD player and popping an old Stones song in, my ears perked attentively to see if I could hear a particular sound he created. I picked up my new guitar last night after I’d finished it, looking at it and letting my fingers play across the strings in a new, exploratory way, and thought about how I should really take lessons, though I do have a hard time getting past the image of me, plumpalicious middle-aged white chick, taking rock guitar lessons. If I ever get the courage to go in somewhere, I figure I’ll ask them to show me a way my stiff little fingers can make an F chord, and if they can, I’ll sign up.
Wait, did I say new guitar? Yes indeedy. Went in for some new picks, which tend to disappear like socks, and next thing you know I’ve bonded with this little Fender acoustic, with pick-up and, coolest of cool, a built-in tuner! It’s slightly smaller all around than a standard model, and fits me very comfortably. And sounds sweet. Our keyboard player said it makes me look taller, too. Bonus!