Monthly Archives: January 2010

Lifestyles of the rich and famous

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In addition to being famous on my own merits (my published book Women’s Nonfiction: A Guide to Reading Interests is owned by 52 libraries, which amounts to $286 in royalties, an astronomical sum that places me squarely in the ranks of the rich and famous), it turns out I am famous by proxy. A couple of days ago in the library, a lady came up looking for books by David Sedaris.

This is not an uncommon question. He’s the funniest person alive. Of course people want his books. The thing is, this lady didn’t know he was the funniest person alive. She had found out that her kids’ friend Hugh was dating a guy who wrote books, so she thought she’d drop by the library to find out what this David Sedaris chappie had written.

Then later the same day I helped a gent look up books by Ben Bova. His age put him outside the typical range of the Science Fiction reader, so I prodded a little and asked what he liked about Bova’s books. Turns out he’d never read any, but he had discovered that his old work buddy Ben had published some stuff and he wanted to find out more.

Today at the library I didn’t enjoy any vicarious celebrity. Today at the library I didn’t enjoy anything, because I didn’t go to the library. Instead I stayed home and enjoyed the treacherous road conditions that prevented me from getting to work. I enjoyed them yesterday, too, along with a lovely long snow storm and about six inches of accumulation.

This is the sort of weather I’d like to experience frequently. I am not optimistic that the economy will improve before global warming makes snow go extinct, but just in case it happens in my lifetime that a job in a snowy mountainous climate becomes available, I would like it, please.

A job with a living wage, I should mention. I made the mistake of looking at nationwide library job openings the other day. It was depressing as hell. The only jobs out there are either directorships, for which I am so incredibly not qualified, or jobs with anemic salaries. $25,000 is not what I consider livable, even factoring in my fat royalty check.

Aside from the snow, I have nothing of moment to report. I have been spending my time solving logic problems and playing video games. (If anyone wants a detailed report on my character’s progress in the role-playing game I’m working on, I can bring you up to speed). I’ve had three fiction failures in the past few days, books that I gave up on after a few chapters, so I’m working instead on a Jon Krakauer nonfiction book. Though Mr. K. Writes about topics that I normally don’t follow (wildnerness survival and true crime and, in this case, a football-player-cum-military-man) I always enjoy his books. Of course it’s difficult to find time to read when you’re busy leveling up your character’s Light Armor rating (this involves killing lots of zombies in dungeons and so forth) but I do what I can.

Also, though I have whittled down my stack to a reasonable twenty-seven books checked out to me, it is conceivable that other library patrons may someday want to read these same books, so I suppose I had better get through them. Once my first royalty check arrives in Decemer I’ll be able to purchase my own damn library, but until then I need to be responsible and return my books on time. Also I need to kill zombies and play in the snow.

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If at first you don’t succeed

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I’m writing this evening’s post from the comfort of my bed, rather than from the comfort of my couch. This is because I don’t care to sit on tinfoil. I have placed tinfoil on my couch not for the aesthetic value—though let me assure you, the tacky shiny silver look is nothing if not eyecatching—but for the antiuterine value.

When I got home from visiting Mom and Dad over Christmas, I discovered that Bubby had left me his own Christmas present, three artfully arranged pieces of poo. He is a thoughtful kitty.

I promptly discarded the present and made a mental note to keep an eye on the situation. My hope was that it was a one-time occurrence; maybe it was Bubby’s way of encouraging me to stay home more often.

How did I know that Bubby was the perp, rather than Gobby or Gremmy? The answer I offer to the general public is that the location indicted him: Bubby spends most of his time on the couch, ergo he was the likely culprit. What I will not admit publicly is that I can distinguish among my cats’ various bodily wastes. Yeech.

A few days later, unfortunately, more poo appeared. And then a few days later, a bit of urine showed up in the same spot.

“Showed up” is a misleading phrase. It suggests that the urine appeared to the naked eye. This is inaccurate, because kitty pee blends in quite well with my couch. I in fact discovered the urine not through my visual sense but through my tactile sense, viz., I sat in it. For about an hour, if you must know. It was during my visit to the human toilet that I found my own bottom to be saturated in cat pee.

Pets. Aren’t they great?

The next day I took Bubby to the nearest vet. The nearest vet is one of the pricier places in town, but the key word here is “nearest.” None of my cats like riding in the car. Bubby handles it better than the other two, but that’s not saying much; he was so traumatized by the mile-long car ride that he peed all over himself en route.

“Well, at least we know he’s not having trouble peeing,” joked the vet. She’s probably the best vet I’ve ever had. She’s got a sense of humor, and she didn’t mind at all that she had to examine a pee-soaked kitty—though she did shampoo him afterward, gratis. Plus she has a sweet demeanor and an impressive vocabulary. Being something of a wordsmith myself, it takes someone special to impress me in that sense. (Not that it is germaine to veterinary science, but it still counts for points in my book).

At any rate, I won’t keep you in suspense: Bubby is fine. His blood test and his urine test came back fine. (The urine I had to collect myself, since there was none left in his kitty bladder by the time he reached the vet. I do not recommend collecting kitty urine on your own unless you have to. In my experience it involves an emergency trip to the laundromat to wash your bed linens.)

His inappropriate eliminations are a behavioral issue, not a medical issue. What is causing the behavior is still a mystery to me, but I’m hoping to discourage him away from the couch and back to the litter box. This is why my living room is currently decorated in Faux Futuristic.

In other domestic news, I have twice now used my slow cooker to brew chai. Recipes vary, but the common ingredients are ginger, clove, cinnamon, tea, milk, and cardamom. The first time I tried it, I used ground clover and ginger, and whole cinnamon and cadamom, and it came out quite well. The second time I ran out of stick cinnamon, so I substituted with powder, and it came out less well. The taste wasn’t as good, and the texture was a bit silty.

But you know what they say: if at first you don’t succeed, chai, chai again.

I shall chai again tomorrow, I think, armed with whole spices for each ingredient, nevermind that I don’t know the first thing about chopping ginger.

(Ginger: I just realized that this word anagrams into a racial slur. This is unfortunate, kind of like how Santa anagrams into Satan. What is it with me and anagrams? I mentioned to a new mother the other day, a colleague of mine, that her son’s name was superb—not just because “Miles” is a stellar name, but because it anagrams into “Smiles.” Should have shut my mouth there, but then I just had to go and mention that it also anagrams into “Limes” and “Slime.”)

The experiments I’ve chaid this week have led me to a deeper appreciation of the value of cardamom, a spice whose existence I’d basically never even heard of till a few days ago. It is aromatic and tasty and, I realize now, it is a big part of why I love Indian food so much. It is also the third-most expensive spice in the world. Saffron (which I thought was just a color, amazing the things you learn) come in first, with vanilla taking second place.

As for cardamom, well, I can’t justify spending the ten dollars per very small container at the cheap grocery store (and it was fifteen at the pricey grocery store!), and since there are no ethnic stores nearby (not surprising; we hardly have any ethnic people, even) I decided to buy it in bulk online. The unit price was far better, though wild horses couldn’t compel me to confess how much money I just spent on it. Suffice it to say that five pounds of cardamom will be arriving on my doorstep soon.

This will keep me in chai heaven for quite a while, I should think.  I might also experiment with grinding it in my coffee; apparently this is what furriners do in Asia and the Midde East. Other suggestions about using cardamom are welcome; leave your thoughts in the comments, please.

And now I think I’ll finish Moon Called, the first novel in an urban fantasy series by Patricia Briggs. I’m not loving it, but I’m liking it well enough that I think I’ll continue with the next book. Normally I like to curl up on the couch while reading, but tonight I think I’ll stay in bed if it’s all the same to you.

Book rundown, 2009

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This year I didn’t match the 130 books of 2006 nor the 141 books of 2007 but at least I bested the 83 books of 2008. I wish I’d read more than 101 books in 2009, but do bear in mind that I wrote one (1) book, which ate into my reading time. Also it ate into my sleeping time, eating time, relaxing time, and sanity. Can’t say I recommend writing a book, though I do recommend buying one, specifically, the one I wrote.

Without further ado, I present the excruciatingly detailed discussion of the my year in reading, 2009:

Total books read, cover-to-cover: 101

Total books written, cover-to-cover, including two indexes and an appendix: 1

Age Levels:

  • Adult: 75
  • YA: 12
  • Children’s: 14

Books read that were published in 2009:

  • 33 or thereabouts. I don’t keep record of when the book was published, but that’s about right.

Nonfiction: 13

Fiction: 88

Genres:  (as some books have more than one genre, total exceeds 101)
 

Nonfiction:

  • Animal books : 2
  • Biography: 2
  • Grammar/Language: 1
  • History: 2
  • Memoir: 2
  • Political Science: 2
  • Readers’ Advisory: 1
  • Travel: 1
  • True Crime: 2

Fiction:

  • Biblical: 1: The Book of Genesis, illustrated by R. Crumb
  • Classical/canonical literature: 1: Henry V (or 2, if you include Zamyatin’s We)
  • Fantasy: 40
  • Historical fiction: 9
  • Horror: 7
  • Humor: 12
  • Literary fiction: 9
  • Mainstream/popular fiction: 5
  • Mysteries: 10
  • Science Fiction: 13
  • Superhero: 3
  • Suspense/Thriller: 6

Formats

  • Graphic novels: 39, of which 3 were nonfiction
  • Cartoon collections: 1: The Perry Bible Fellowship Almanack, a bizarre and funny book
  • Essay collections: 1: State by State: A Panoramic Portrait of America
  • Photo collections: 1: Creature, by Andrew Zuckmen
  • Plays: 1: Shakespeare’s Henry V, interpreted in graphic novel format but with the original, unabridged text, and no footnotes, which was really quite difficult to read, pictures notwithstanding
  • Annotated bibliographies: 1: Women’s Nonfiction: A Guide to Reading Interests


Miscellaneous

  • Annual fat Russian novel: Yevgeny Zamyatin’s We, probably the least-Russian Russian novel I’ve ever read. I didn’t like it, per se, but I appreciated it for its influence on Orwell’s 1984
  • Re-reads: 5

Authors:

  • 58 total

Favorite new (to me) authors:

  • K.J. Parker and Kate Atkinson. Also Jessica Zellers.
  • Most read author: K.J. Parker. As soon as I discovered her, or perhaps him, I devoured all 11 books that he, or maybe she, has published.

Best: Hell, by Robert Olen Butler. Also Women’s Nonfiction: A Guide to Reading Interests.

Honorable mentions:

  • Creature, by Andrew Zuckerman
  • Unseen Academicals, by Terry Pratchett
  • Purple and Black, by K. J. Parker
  • Diary of a Wimpy Kid series, by Jeff Kinney
  • The Book of Genesis, illustrated by R. Crumb
  • Beat the Reaper, by Joshua Bazell
  • When Will There Be Good News?, by Kate Atkinson

Worst: I’m getting better about not reading books I don’t like, so I’m pleased to announce that I didn’t read anything horrible. However:

  • Sven the Returned, a graphic novel by Brian Wood, was confusing to me; I couldn’t keep the characters straight
  • Kevin Smith did a smashing job interpreting the Green Arrow, but his book Batman: Cacophony just didn’t work for me, maybe because Batman isn’t the right character for the snarky dialogue that Smith excels at.
  • Dead Girls Don’t Write Letters, a young adult novel by Gail Giles, disappointed me because it turns out the narrator was unreliable and she was basically fabricating the whole story the entire time. I hate tricks like that.

One last thing:

Women’s Nonfiction: A Guide to Reading Interests, by Jessica Zellers, really is worth the price of purchase. I recommend acquiring a copy for home and for work, and naturally you’ll want to advise your local public and academic libraries to acquire copies.