2003 Reading List

84, Charing Cross Road – Helene Hanff (9/1/03)
He Goes, She Goes – Joanna Torrey (9/1/03)
Two-Part Invention – Madeleine L’Engle (11/1/03)
Circle of Quiet – Madeleine L’Engle (19/1/03)
The Bad Girl’s Guide to the Party Life – Cameron Tuttle (19/1/03)
Love by the Glass – Dorothy Gaiter & John Brecher (12/2/03)
The Blind Assassin – Margaret Atwood (27/2/03)
Some Girls – Kristin McCloy (6/3/03)
Possession – AS Byatt (9/3/03)
Iris and Her Friends – John Bayley (16/3/03)
Sea Room – Adam Nicolson (6/4/03)
Mrs. Dalloway – Virginia Woolf (13/4/03)
Ignorance – Milan Kundera (24/4/03)
Home Swell Home – Cynthia Rowley & Ilene Rosenzweig (25/4/03)
The Alchemist – Paulo Coelho (28/4/03)
The Cheese Monkeys – Chip Kidd (28/4/03)
Consuming Passions – Michael Lee West (29/4/03)
Ordinary Life – Elizabeth Berg (6/5/03)
Arthur: At the Crossing Places – Kevin Crossley-Holland (14/5/03)
The Dig Tree – Sarah Murgatroyd (1/6/03)
Picasso’s War – Russell Martin (6/6/03)
Middlesex – Jeffrey Eugenides (11/6/03)
Villa Incognito – Tom Robbins (22/6/03)
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix – JK Rowling (26/6/03)
Great Books – David Denby (14/9/03)
Einstein’s Dreams – Alan Lightman (14/9/03)
Hey Nostradamus – Douglas Coupland (16/9/03)
Gross Indecency – Moises Kaufman (18/9/03)
Galatea 2.2 – Richard Powers (1/9/03)
Choke – Chuck Palahniuk (2/9/03)
Lullaby – Chuck Palahniuk (3/9/03)
Fugitives and Refugees – Chuck Palahniuk (5/9/03)
Lust and other stories – Susan Minot (8/9/03)
The Gunslinger – Stephen King (10/9/03)
The Drawing of the Three – Stephen King (15/9/03)
How to be Good – Nick Hornby (17/9/03)
And It Was Good – Madeleine L’Engle (20/9/03)
Life of Pi – Yann Martel (21/9/03)
Letters to a Young Poet – Rainier Maria Rilke (21/9/03)
The Epic of Gilgamesh (22/9/03)
Bone – Fae Ng (25/9/03)
Against Love: a Polemic – Laura Kipnis (13/10/03)
How Proust Can Change Your Life – Alain de Botton (20/10/03)
The Matisse Stories – AS Byatt (20/10/03)
The Castle of Crossed Destinies – Italo Calvino (27/10/03)
Plowing the Dark – Richard Powers (2/11/03)
Unless – Carol Shields (7/11/03)
The Possibility of Being – Rainier Maria Rilke (9/11/03)
Picasso at the Lapin Agile – Steve Martin (11/11/03)
The Waste Lands – Stephen King (23/11/03)
Still Bored in a Culture of Entertainment – Richard Winter (8/12/03)
SUE 4: The Miserable Mill – Lemony Snicket (13/12/03)
Wizard and Glass – Stephen King (13/12/03)
House of Leaves – Mark Danielewski (20/12/03)


Having to get up and go to work when your friends are all off sucks. That’s my statement for the day.

Last night was Christmas with the kids – wonderful. We had food from around the world, including curry, latkes, fondue, and Danish cabbage – food enough for an army. The stockings were hung by the piano with care, and filled with all sorts of goodies. The cats went crazy with all the new toys – they didn’t know what to play with first (or next). Shawn got me Pirates of the Caribbean, some pirate gold, and The Morning Star – pretty pretty. I gave him Six String Samurai, which he has been looking for this fall, and his scarf, which isn’t finished. I gave him the remaining skein of yarn, then took out the actual scarf when he was done opening. There were lots of Lord of the Rings goodies – Trivial Pursuit for me, chess for him, a puzzle for everyone. Sarah and Hannah got random books, food, and yogurt makers (H). We put the puzzle together until late, a wine glass broke spectacularly, and I crashed pretty hard as soon as I got home. A really nice night.

So tonight we’re heading to Carlinville to party LOTR-style at Matt’s place. It’ll be interesting – no one knows we’re coming other than Matt. The only other people I know at this party are two of Sarah’s exes, so we’ll see how that goes. I’m hoping for food, champagne, and a sweet kiss at midnight.

Cats seem to be doing OK. I devised a campaign to keep my bedroom door closed, and it seems to be working, though it means there’s no circulation and my room is cold. Right now the cats are pouncing on each other from the couch to the floor, jingling all the while.

Tomorrow maybe I’ll post my resolutions and my top reads for the year. Tonight I’m just going to celebrate. Happy 2004, kids.

So I find myself in a bit of a quandary.

I brought my cats home from Rockford this weekend. They’ve been here 36 hours, and already Gypsy’s had an accident. Some would say, yes, they’ve made a big transition, she’s just getting settled, she might be confused. But no, this cat’s been doing this for four years. A number of times over the last four years we’ve broken down, considered getting rid of her, considered taking her back to the farm from whence she came – and each time we broke down further and couldn’t do it.

Now I’m wondering if this is the time. She is the cutest, sweetest, softest, funniest babykat I’ve ever seen or spent time with. She is very affectionate and funny and has a soft white belly. She is happy most of the time, and loves attention.

She has also ruined two futons and a couch through accidents, and another couch through scratching. I’ve thrown away blankets and clothes due to the same. Before that was – if not OK at least manageable most of the time. Now I’m broke and simply don’t have the resources to repair, launder, or replace the things she will ruin (because I know it’ll happen).

So it seems like I have a couple of choices:
1. Keep her and deal with it.
2. See if Nate wants her back.
3. See if someone else wants to take her.
4. Take her to the Humane Society.

The reason I think this is the time to do it is that I haven’t had her for several months and I’m not so emotionally attached right now that I couldn’t do it. I would cry, yes, and feel terrible – but I’m strong enough to do it. Friends, what should I do?

Heard this weekend:

Coo: “What’s a ho-bag?”
Mark: “Don’t worry, Eric. A ho-bag is a character in a Jane Austen novel.”

I love my brothers.

Holidays on Ice

Home after a nice and long weekend. I’m totally fucked as far as the day of the week, and that’s OK with me. Holidays in the middle of the week never work out well for general comprehension.

A nice weekend. To recap:

Wednesday: arrived in Rockford around 4 and chilled with Jen until around 5, when we picked up Newman and joined my family for church (#1). Corn chowder and games after church, including Team Baby Jesus. After a brief liquor adventure, Sarah and Mary J joined us at Jen’s, where we drank wine and hung out until midnight mass (#2). Came home to find Jen and Cass sick as dogs, so crashed pretty quickly. Haven’t shared a bed with Newman since Edinburgh, but we managed.

Thursday: dragged the still-sick Jen to the parentals for Christmassy goodness. I got (among other things) a laptop (which hasn’t arrived), a microwave, Hello Kitty towels (from Coo), and lovely soft flannel sheets. My bed is made with clean sheets, but I’m thinking about changing them. 🙂 Jen gave me a Hello Kitty pirate shirt – well, Cass gave it to Dana, then realized her mistake and I got it later. Some hanging out, then dinner at Oscar’s. Yes, we had pizza at a bar for Christmas dinner. Watched Finding Nemo (sooo cute), then sat up late talking about sex and love and purpose.

Friday: slept in late, then had lunch at Beef-a-Roo. Quite nearly heckled the mint girl for old times’ sake. Some self-Christmas shopping at Barnes & Noble, then Newman hung out at Jen’s while I went to AMCORE to visit my old friends. Half an hour turned into an hour and a half, and the kids met me at Mary’s Market for dinner. Talked to Nicki & Cory for a while, hung out at Jen’s, then met Stalker Dan and his new girlie at the Carlyle Brewing Company – ended up at The Office, where a random man took his pants off and I was hit on by a woman who kicked her chair back from the bar and said “Where have you been all my life?” A really fun night – Dan’s Sara is hilarious, and I’ve really missed Dan.

Saturday: stood up for breakfast by Kevin but had a nice meal at the North End Cafe anyway. Hit the road around 10 and had lunch in Davenport with the family. Got home around 5 and napped until dinner time. Met Ria at the Tumbler – she looks GREAT and it was so nice to hang out. Back to Oscar’s, then EliXur, where we ran into Dan and Sara again. Had a great time despite it being EliXur – I’m glad we went out.

Sunday: breakfast with Jen at IHOP, where our waitress messed up. Finished my laundry at the house, then put Newman on the bus back to the OP. Picked up the cats from Nate – he was civil, but barely. Joe and Dave were there, so it was nice to see them. Hit the road about 2 after allowing Coo and Mark to terrorize the cats a bit – Coo, when told to put some clothes on so he could come see the cats, went outside wearing nothing but underpants and his jacket. Now it’s been unseasonably warm lately – but it was still a little ridiculous and v cute. Got home around 5 and have been unwinding since – unpacking, letting the cats check things out, putting away Christmas presents. I meant to write my thank you notes and maybe finish my remaining present-work, but instead I took a bath and talked to Sarah while she drove – now am thinking about reading a bit, then crashing early.

I’m so glad I got to go home, even though it doesn’t feel so much like home any more. I miss hanging out with Jen the most, I think. Shawn comes home tomorrow – I’m looking forward to seeing him. This is the longest I’ve gone without seeing him since before I moved, so that’s been different. I think I missed him just about the right amount.

What a nice break.

A busy-busy holiday weekend home. Two church services with celebration and drinking in between Christmas Eve – a lovely laid back Christmas with the family with big surprises at the end (LAPTOP!!!!!) – lots of running around and Beef-a-Roo and old friends yesterday. I stopped in to see my old coworkers for what I thought would be a few minutes but ended up being an hour and a half. Amanda and I met Dan and Sarah at the Carlyle Brewing Co. – saw Nicki and Cory by surprise – then walked down to the Office. That’s one thing I do miss about Rockford – going out downtown, drinking at Bacchus or the Rose and then ending up at the Office or Kryptonite. Today breakfast with Kevin, a whirlwind trip to Grandma’s, then hanging out with Ria-fub tonight. Tomorrow I collect the cats and head back to Champaign.

It’s strange being back here because even after such a short period away this doesn’t feel like home.

I’m going home for Christmas tomorrow and so am not sure how much blogging time will be alotted to me. I just wanted to say to all and sundry that it has been a remarkable year – difficult and wonderful with each turn – and I’m glad you’ve been along for the ride (or read, for that matter). May Christmas (or Chanukah or Diwali or Eid or Kwanzaa or whatever holiday you do/don’t celebrate) be a time of wonderful joy and remembrance for each of you. My love to all.

On a more practical note, today has been hectic (since I got off work) and I’ve accomplished little of what I wanted to accomplish. I bought a vacuum (MUCH NEEDED) and finished my Christmas shopping (for real this time) – I checked on the cats – I wrapped presents and did my dishes. I wanted to vacuum (too late) and finish cleaning the apartment (maybe?) – but now I’m settling for finishing the important things (like wrapping and packing) and just dealing with the mess when I get home.

Sweet. There are going to be some awesome stamps next year. I’m really looking forward to the Year of the Monkey and Candy Hearts and Dr. Seuss and Cloudscapes. I digress.

Anyway, I should go. Work and wrapping call, along with the ever-alluring Cran-Strawberry juice. Much love.

In the rain I held his hand and finished my Christmas shopping. Dinner out, then reading and music in. Some tears with arms wrapped around me, but a sweet goodbye and a sweeter message later when he found out that he got an A on the paper. I will miss him so.

Read and write here.

Aragorn Fever

Spent half the weekend in the horrid haze of a deep fever and cough – and the rest of it entranced by hot, hot Aragorn. We brought Sarah up to speed on the trilogy Friday and Saturday, then went to see Return of the King tonight to top it off. Russ was down on Saturday, so we had curry. Finished House of Leaves on Saturday – whew – on to less convoluted reading materials. But first, sleep.

Friends have been dealt hard blows this weekend – dealing with hard things, working through hard problems – I feel blessed that what’s on my mind most right now is how much I’m going to miss that boy when he goes home for Christmas. I know it’s less than a week – but we see each other almost daily, so even a brief absence can feel pointed after such constant comfort. *

This love

I finished Wizard and Glass yesterday in a whirlwind of reading while Shawn worked on his Dictee paper. It was really good – not sure if it’s the strongest in the series, but it was damned good and some of the portrayals of love, the sacrifice of love, the doomed nature of love, really grabbed at my heart.

Finally got a chance to see Alien Sex Party, courtesy of director Paul Yates, who somehow found my old blog and offered to send me a copy. It simply defines reterrible. Evil Dead previously held this title. It was crazy and funny and bizarre and definitely worth the watch, if only for The Pork Guys’ rendition of “Fuck Christmas, Fuck You.” Thanks, Paul!

Hannah, Shawn, and I saw Over the Rhine at the High Dive – they were awesome, and it’s super fun going to concerts just down the street. They played a bunch of my favorites, including “I Radio Heaven” and “All I Get for Christmas is Blue.” After the show we walked in the snow to Aroma, where we had tasty food and got to see the smallest laptop ever. (OK, maybe not EVER.)

Today’s been full of reading and stretching and more reading and stretching and coffee and Saddam’s capture. Did you know he was in a hole? Hey, yeah, he was in a hole. Let the finger pointing and “I told you so’s” begin. I hope the Democratic party can keep the focus on the issues and not let this overrun any hopes of a proper election. I hung out at Shawn til mid afternoon reading House of Leaves (which is insane and brilliant), then headed home so he could get some work done without distraction. I’ll be glad when the semester’s over and my friends have some free time – they’ve all been stressed, and that’s wearing on everyone. I love you guys – it’s almost over.

Had a few hard emotional moments this weekend – but they seem to pass fairly quickly. I can’t just not deal with things, even if the dealing is difficult. I can’t imagine being on the other side of this, loving me and taking care of me though it, but I’m so grateful for those who are here and holding me and helping me get through it all. I can’t imagine dealing with this alone. In many ways I’ve moved on – completely – I have a new life and new friends and new loves and new things – but the grief and guilt will haunt me for a long time. I am so lucky that those who I love and who love me realize that I have room enough in my heart for grief and pain AND love.