Monthly Archives: January 2012

Sub par

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Some weeks back, with no help from anyone at all, armed only with a screwdriver (the hardware kind, not the drink kind, though I could have used one of those), I installed a new graphic card in my desktop, thereby proving conclusively that I am the Chosen One. I still have to quest after the mystical enchanted ring/orb/sword, and I have to complete a few rites of passage to achieve womanhood, and somewhere along the way I expect I’ll be picking up a gang of sidekicks, but it’s only a matter of time before I am acknowledged as queen of all Middle Earth and also Narnia.

I installed my new graphics card so that Skyrim would be more playable. The name of my Skyrim character is Nicolai. Please tell me there is somebody out there who understands the joke behind that name.

Unfortunately, my laptop died right around this time. Stella 2 was my work machine, and though I had backed up all of my important files, it was still a big inconvenience to start working exclusively on my desktop. That machine didn’t have the Microsoft Office suite, and I never did find any good open-source alternatives, though I assure you I found some bad ones.

Then the desktop died.

When you have a grand total of zero functioning computers, it is impossible to apply for jobs online. It is impossible to apply for grad school. It is impossible to write the content for the database that pays you the tiny pittance of an income that you earn.

These are first-world problems. I know that. If I had any moral decency or breadth of imagination, I could step back from my problems and acknowledge, for instance, that women in the Sudan are routinely raped as spoils of war. Or I could stop and remember that I have two eyes that work. Not being blind is GREAT. I lose sight of that, sometimes, as it were.

At least one of my first-world problems was solved today, when I brought home Stella 3 and breathed life into her. Everyone may rest comfortably in knowing that about a third of my music collection has been downloaded, and the rest is in progress. I felt really horrible having my new laptop subsidized by my parents — I am a grown woman, for crying out loud — but being able to swallow one’s pride is a prerequisite of Chosen Oneness.

Moving along to more universal problems, permit me to quote in its entirety a paragraph from my post from a few weeks back, with parens and everything:

(Quick aside: per longstanding policy here at The Lesbrarian, I do not write about my personal relationships, not unless the parties involved wind up in the crime section of the local paper. Suffice it to say that I have met a gentleman. I have met him a grand total of once, but it went well. He does not live in the same town, so it is not a formal relationship, and it might never be; but if it ends in fire, explosions, assault, grand theft, or terrorism, I shall dutifully report it here — and if it doesn’t end like that, it was never a proper relationship to begin with, if you ask me.)

It used to take weeks or even months for my relationships to end. Nowadays I can jump almost immediately to the part where you’ve got the heartbreak and the recriminations and the venom, without suffering through those distracting bits in between where I enjoy the other person’s company. The aforementioned gentleman is out of the picture, without any explosions at all, which is frankly a bit of a letdown. Now it’s true that I had quite a nice date this past weekend with a new, improved gentleman — this one quite local — but, considering my finely-tuned efficiency in these matters, it’s probably safe to conclude that by now, Monday, he’s decided to never speak to me again.

If you think my cynicism is extreme, then you are not very familiar with my relationship history.

Continuing in the theme of cynicism, I can report that I am now certified to substitute teach in the local counties. Last week I took a continuing ed course through the community college, and now I have a piece of paper that says that it’s perfectly all right for me to fill in for teachers — and to get paid for it, to boot. I have to pass a background check and I have to prove that I don’t carry any dread diseases, and then I’ll probably have to wait a few months to get fully approved, but it is quite within the realm of possibility that I will be subbing before the schoolyear is out.

On the one hand, it alarms me that absolutely any adult (who passes a background check and doesn’t carry the plague) may teach children — only a day at a time, mind, but it’s still alarming. On the other hand, I suspect that I can exceed the standards. I still recall the sub who filled in for our seventh-grade English class. As we were reviewing vocabulary words, we came to one that she insisted was pronounced pro-life-rate.

I think I can do better than that.

Now then: I’ve got a logic puzzle to solve, a tuba to practice, two library books to finish reading, and a yoga pose to work. And also maybe I should apply for jobs and produce content that I’ll get paid for and spend time being grateful that I don’t live in the Sudan. And then I need to start planning for the changes we’ll see once everyone realizes I’m the Chosen One.


And now for something completely different

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While it is true that I can be high-strung, I am not manic, nor manic-depressive, nor even moody. I am pretty even-keeled. The keel is not very mellow — I am too intense for that — but it is at least consistent. I am determined and focused, if we are being polite, or I am obsessive and fixated, if we are being mean.

Thus my recent career and education craziness has been completely out of character. I am ready to return to my familiar, trustworthy craziness. This desperate grasping-at-straws frenzy needs to stop.

Unemployment. It makes you do funny things.

I shall start this discussion with a reminder to the HR people at the local libraries and bookstores: I have a perfectly functional MLS and I’d gratefully take a job with you. You all have my resume. Drop me a line.

Meanwhile, I need a job, or I need to go back to school, or both. For several years I’ve been toying with the idea of getting some sort of green job — managing forests or farming vegetables or rehabilitating wild animals or doing something, anything, to do nice things for the planet. And that is still what I want to do when I grow up. That, and I want to write novels for a living. It could happen. It could.

But right now, in this horrid economy, I do not have the education and experience to slide into a green career, not in any obvious way. I could take out a ton of loans and get another degree, but I am terrified that I still wouldn’t be able to find a job. I’d be in exactly the same place I am now, only with a lot more debt. I’m going to start volunteering with a green organization soon, though. Don’t know which one, but it’s going to happen.

I also recently toyed with the idea of becoming a yoga instructor. My yoga instructor from Williamsburg (hi, Jennifer!) suggested it to me, and I think she might be on to something. I’d love to do the teacher training. I might even be able to earn money afterward. I am going to revisit the idea someday when I have a steady income. Right now, unfortunately, I can’t justify spending the money.

To recap: I’d love a book-related job, but I can’t find one right now; I’d love to get a green job, but I can’t figure out how to do that right now; and I’d love to become a yoga instructor, but I can’t afford it right now.

So what can I do right now? I can fret over a variety of different financial doomsday scenarios. I am getting really good at that. As a gift to friends and family, I will fretfully concoct a financial doomsday scenario, tailored specifically to you and your circumstances, for a modest consulting fee.

Also, I can get myself certified as a substitute teacher. That’s what I’ll be doing next week. $150 for the training, the text, and the price of gas, and by 3:30 next Friday afternoon, I’ll be qualified to sub here and in the next county. It may take a while for the calls to start coming in, but once they do, I’ll be able to survive indefinitely on the income, especially when I combine it with my library writing gigs.

Oh, and this evening I started applying to grad school.

Eep! I feel like I’m 18 again. Between school applications and boys, it’s just like being a teen.

(Quick aside: per longstanding policy here at The Lesbrarian, I do not write about my personal relationships, not unless the parties involved wind up in the crime section of the local paper. Suffice it to say that I have met a gentleman. I have met him a grand total of once, but it went well. He does not live in the same town, so it is not a formal relationship, and it might never be; but if it ends in fire, explosions, assault, grand theft, or terrorism, I shall dutifully report it here — and if it doesn’t end like that, it was never a proper relationship to begin with, if you ask me.)

When I was 18, I believed that my intelligence, determination, attitude, and flexibility would be enough to lead me toward fulfilling employment, no matter what I studied in college. I fantasize nowadays about finding my eighteen-year-old self and boxing her in the ear. She was insufferable.

Now I am a jaded 30, and I pretty much insist that any degree I pursue will result in a job. Furthermore, I strongly prefer that any degree I pursue be a distance ed degree. I don’t want to have to drop my classes, even if a fulltime job comes along, even if a fulltime job in another location comes along.

At any rate, this evening I started applying for a distance ed graduate program at one of the state schools. It’s for a master’s degree/teacher licensure in special ed. Two or three semesters, relatively affordable, and I’d be all kinds of employable afterwards. (I would also be more employable as a librarian, especially in the public and school media sectors.) Just as importantly, it’s the kind of job that I think I’d enjoy. We can all agree that someone needs to travel back in time to shake some sense into the 18-year-old Jessica, but even the world-weary 30-year-old version insists on not hating her job.

I wouldn’t be starting until the fall semester. I’ve got some time to submit my application, and some time to change my mind. I will say, however, that it’s been a long while since I’ve been this pleased with a possible career/education combo. It seems to strike the right balance of personal happiness, viability, and affordability. For those of you wondering where in the hell this degree idea came from (“Special ed? SPECIAL ED? Is she out of her bleeding mind?”) I will expand on my thoughts later. For now I’m just pleased that the frenetic scarperings of the past few weeks have quieted down.


Take this job and shove it

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Some people are good at painting landscapes or growing orchids or restoring old cars. My hobby is finding abusive people and forming relationships with them. Since I’ve already got a ton of experience with abusive romantic relationships, I thought it might be nice to add some variety, so I decided to seek out abuse in the workplace.

I have a natural talent for that, too, it seems. I’ve had unpleasant bosses before, but this was the first time I’ve ever had a boss who didn’t pay me for the work I did. That’s abuse on a whole new level. He even tried to get me to do free work on my days off. On top of that he was condescending, churlish, and petty.

By the by, if anyone reading this is appalled that I’m joking about abusive relationships, then this is probably not the website for you. Gallows humor is the norm around here. It’s how I cope.

I’m not going to offer details about the job I just left. All you need to know is that it lasted a week. I quit today, and while it ought to have been a liberating process, it was extremely unpleasant. Even my resignation letter was fair game for nasty little criticisms.

I’ve been dwelling on it all weekend. Strike that; I have not been dwelling on anything. “Dwell” is such a passive verb. I have been actively obsessing over this stupid job, to the point where I yelled “QUIT FUCKING THINKING ABOUT IT ALREADY, OKAY?”, which startled the cats but otherwise had no obvious effect. My stomach is still filled with butterflies and I can feel the lingering fight-or-flight chemicals chewing on my nerves.

In the movies, this is the point where the heroine goes out and restores her spirits with some mindless casual sex, only it never works like that in real life and anyway I don’t know the right people for that sort of thing. Alternately, we could pan in on the heroine venting her frustrations by getting in some practice at the shooting range or by demolishing a punching bag, but the problem with those scenarios is that I don’t own a gun or a punching bag. Which is a shame, now that I reflect on it.

I think tomorrow I’ll find a mountain and hike it. That should take care of some of my frazzled feeling. I might need a different mountain than my normal one, though. My normal mountain is wonderful, and it’s very close by, but its trail has too much horizontal and not enough vertical.

Ah well. Back to being unemployed. Sympathy now being accepted, though if it’s all the same to you I’d rather have the weapons and the punching bags.

Book rundown, 2011

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It’s here! It’s here at last! It is the 6th annual review of books, here at The Lesbrarian! I have been waiting for this post all year! Haven’t you? OF COURSE YOU HAVE! On January first at midnight, when other people are drinking champagne and throwing confetti and frolicking, I am laboring to make sure that you have access to the minute details of my personal reading history. You just don’t get service like that from people these days, nosiree.

2011 was a bittersweet book year. For the first three quarters I was reading like a demon. By the end of August it looked as though I would surpass all the previous records (130 books in 2006; 141 books in 2007; 83 books in 2008; 101 books in 2009; and 112 books in 2010). Only then I quit my job and moved to another state, which is the sort of thing that consumes all of one’s free time. And then once I got settled, I found out what it’s like to be a regular person– not a librarian, just a normal civilian. Normal people, I discovered to my regret and horror, normal people go to workplaces where they are not surrounded by books.

So, although I am content with this year’s respectable grand total of 128 books, I am just a little bit melancholy knowing that it could have been a lot higher.

(I always get sentimental at the new year. Don’t you?)

Total books read, cover-to-cover: 128

Age levels:

  • Adult: 115
  • YA: 13
  • Children’s: 0. Whoops. I did mean to read that one about the bear and the hat. I’ll put that on the list for 2012.

Books read that were published in 2011: about 40.

Nonfiction: 23

Fiction: 105

Genres: (as some books have more than one genre, total exceeds 128)


  • Art: 1
  • Business: 1
  • History: 2
  • Humor: 4
  • Language: 1
  • Political Science: 2
  • Science: 11
  • Social Science: 7
  • Women’s Nonfiction, which is a genre, dammit: 1


  • Canonical/Classic: 1
  • Crime: 14
  • Fantasy: 37
  • Historical Fiction: 4
  • Horror: 14
  • Humor: 5
  • Literary Fiction: 6
  • Mainstream/Popular: 11
  • Mystery: 7
  • Romance: 2 (one of which I enjoyed, to my great surprise; that would be One Day, by David Nicholls)
  • Science Fiction: 7
  • Superhero: 2
  • Suspense/thriller:11
  • Western: 1 (True Grit, which was good fun, and if I were the sort of person who watched movies I would see both versions)


  • Audiobooks: New! This is the first year I’ve listened to audiobooks. I’d still much, much rather read a book on a page, but that’s very difficult to do while hiking, and I’ve learned that I can tolerate them pretty well if they are nonfiction. I listened to two books, The Botany of Desire, by Michael Pollan, and America’s Women, by Gail Collins. And actually I listened to a third after I’d read it in print. Samuel L. Jackson’s reading of Go the F*ck to Sleep is uproarious.
  • Comics: 2 collections, both hysterical; Five Very Good Reasons to Punch a Dolphin in the Mouth, by Matthew Inman, whom I intend to marry, and Dawn of the Bunny Suicides, by Andy Riley
  • Graphic Novels: 32, of which 3 were nonfiction
  • Novellas: 2
  • Photo Collection: 1
  • Picture Book: 2, both of which were adult spoofs: Go the F*ck to Sleep, by Adam Mansbach, and Pat the Zombie, by Aaron Ximm
  • Short Story Collections: 3


  • Annual fat Russian novel: The Conquered City, by Victor Serge, which is the most incomprehensible Russian book I’ve ever read. Which is saying something.
  • Re-reads: 13, including the entire 100 Bullets series
  • Annual grammar book: How to Write a Sentence and How to Read One, by Stanley Fish

Authors: 86

New (to me) authors: 66

Best book of the year: The Name of the Wind and The Wise Man’s Fear, both by Patrick Rothfuss. Storytelling does not get better than this.

Honorable mentions:

  • Elmer, by Gerry Alanguilan
  • The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, by Sherman Alexie
  • Beasts of Burden, by Evan Dorkin
  • In the Woods, by Tana French
  • The Magician King, by Lev Grossman
  • Some We Love, Some We Hate, Some We Eat, by Hal Herzog
  • Joe Hill’s Locke & Key series
  • Five Very Good Reasons to Punch a Dolphin in the Mouth, by Matthew Inman
  • The Postmortal, by Drew Magary
  • Eaarth, by Bill McKibben
  • One Day, by David Nicholls
  • The Hammer, by K. J. Parker
  • The Botany of Desire, by Michael Pollan
  • Snuff, by Terry Pratchett
  • The Adventures of the Princess and Mr. Whiffle, by Patrick Rothfuss
  • REAMDE, by Neal Stephenson
  • Griftopia, by Matt Taibbi
  • Pride of Baghdad, by Brian K. Vaughan


A Discovery of Witches, by Deborah Harkness, had weak prose and terrible dialogue and some pretty noticeable plot holes.

For your obsessive pleasure: Every single book I read! Sorted by author!

Ajvide Lindqvist, John Handling the Undead
Alanguilan, Gerry Elmer
Alexie, Sherman The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian
Allen, Sarah Addison The Peach Keeper
Atkinson, Kate Started Early, Took My Dog
Azzarello, Brian First Shot, Last Call
Azzarello, Brian Split Second Chance
Azzarello, Brian Hang up on the Hang Low
Azzarello, Brian A Foregone Tomorrow
Azzarello, Brian The Counterfifth Detective
Azzarello, Brian Six Feet Under the Gun
Azzarello, Brian Samurai
Azzarello, Brian The Hard Way
Azzarello, Brian Strychnine Lives
Azzarello, Brian Decayed
Azzarello, Brian Once Upon a Crime
Azzarello, Brian Dirty
Azzarello, Brian Wilt
Bacigalupi, Paolo The Alchemist
Berners-Lee, Mike How Bad Are Bananas?: The Carbon Footprint of Everything
Botkin, Daniel B. Powering the Future
Bruchac, Joseph Dawn Land
Buckell, Tobias S. The Executioness
Butcher, Jim Changes
Butcher, Jim Ghost Story
Butler, Robert Olen Intercourse
Butler, Robert Olen A Small Hotel
Cameron, W. Bruce A Dog’s Purpose
Coben, Harlan Live Wire
Collins, Gail America’s Women
Collins, Suzanne The Hunger Games
Collins, Suzanne Catching Fire
Collins, Suzanne Mockingjay
Deaver, Jeffery Carte Blanche
Dorkin, Evan Beasts of Burden: Animal Rites
Duncan, Glen The Last Werewolf
Eddings, David Pawn of Prophecy
Eddings, David Queen of Sorcery
Eddings, David Magician’s Gambit
Eddings, David Castle of Wizardry
Eddings, David Enchanters’ End Game
Eddings, David Guardians of the West
Eddings, David King of the Murgos
Eddings, David Demon Lord of Karanda
Eddings, David Sorceress of Darshiva
Eddings, David Seeress of Kell
Fish, Stanley How to Write a Sentence and How to Read One
French, Tana In the Woods
French, Tana The Likeness
French, Tana Faithful Place
Gillman, Jeff How Trees Die
Gleacher, Jimmy Paradise Rules
Goldstein, Lisa The Uncertain Places
Grant, Helen The Glass Demon
Grossman, Lev The Magician King
Gudenkauf, Heather The Weight of Silence
Harkness, Deborah A Discovery of Witches
Hennessey, Jonathan The United States Constitution
Herzog, Hal Some We Love, Some We Hate, Some We Eat
Hiaasen, Carl Tourist Season
Hill, Joe Welcome to Lovecraft
Hill, Joe Head Games
Hill, Joe Crown of Shadows
Hill, Joe Keys to the Kingdom
Hosler, Jay Evolution: The Story of Life on Earth
Inman, Matthew Five Very Good Reason to Punch a Dolphin in the Mouth
King, Stephen 11/22/63
Koryta, Michael So Cold the River
LaPlante, Alice Turn of Mind
Layman, John Chew
Le Marinel, Alan Start and Run Your Own Business
Love, Jeremy Bayou v. 2
Lupton, Rosamund Sister
Magary, Drew The Postmortal
Makkai, Rebecca The Borrower
Mansbach, Adam Go the Fuck to Sleep
Marsh, Jason, ed. Are We Born Racist?: New Insights from Neuroscience and Positive Psychology
McKibben, Bill Eaarth: Making a Life on a Tough New Planet
McKinley, Robin The Door in the Hedge
McKinley, Robin A Knot in the Grain
McKinley, Robin The Blue Sword
McKinley, Robin Spindle’s End
Medley, Linda Castle Waiting
Medley, Linda Castle Waiting v. 2
Mignola, Mike Hellboy: Seeds of Destruction
Millar, Mark Wanted
Milligan, Peter Greek Street
Moby, et al. Gristle: From Factory Farms to Food Safety
Morgenstern, Erin Night Circus
Nicholls, David One Day
Origen, Erich The Adventures of Unemployed Man
Pacelle, Wayne The Bond: Our Kindship with Animals, Our Call to Defend Them
Parker, K. J. The Hammer
Pollan, Michael The Botany of Desire
Portis, Charles True Grit
Pratchett, Terry Snuff
Riggs, Ransom Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children
Riley, Andy Dawn of the Bunny Suicides
Roberson, Chris I, Zombie
Rothfuss, Patrick The Adventures of the Princess and Mr. Whiffle: The Thing Beneath the Bed
Rothfuss, Patrick The Name of the Wind
Rothfuss, Patrick The Wise Man’s Fear
Schlozman, Steven C. The Zombie Autopsies
Schultz, Mark The Stuff of Life: A Graphic Guide to Genetics and DNA
Serge, Victor Conquered City
Snyder, Maria Poison Study
Snyder, Maria Magic Study
Snyder, Maria Fire Study
Stephenon, Neal REAMDE
Stevens, Chevy Never Knowing
Stevens, Chevy Still Missing
Suzuki, Koji The Ring
Taibbi, Matt Griftopia
Thompson, Gabriel Working in the Shadows
Traister, Rebecca Big Girls Don’t Cry
Trigiani, Adriana Big Stone Gap
Trigiani, Adriana Big Cherry Holler
Trigiani, Adriana Milk Glass Moon
Trigiani, Adriana Home to Big Stone Gap
Vaughan, Brian K. Pride of Baghdad
Wagner, Matt Trinity
Walter, Jess The Financial Lives of the Poets
Warman, Jessica Between
Warren, Frank A Lifetime of Secrets
Watson, S. J. Before I Go to Sleep
Willingham, Bill Rose Red
Willis, Connie All Clear
Ximm, Aaron Pat the Zombie