Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Since I already outed myself . . .

You scored as Anna. No one understands you. Your life revolves around being different and probably excessive romantic allusions. Stop being so self absorbed and put greater emphasis on examining the sensibility of your behavior to avoid simply becoming an abstract narcissist.














What OC character are you?
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Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Me + Me

Title out of deference to Gwenda, who hates the word. But I've seen this one in several spots now, and it's nice to look back and see where you're standing. So I am.

1. What did you do in 2004 that you'd never done before?

Hm. Started a Master's program. Read my fiction aloud to (mostly) strangers on a half-dozen occasions. Killed a bear. (No, not really.) Changed clothes (everything but boxers) while driving. Read Cortazar. (Life-changing, I tell you.)

2. Did you keep your New Years' resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

You know, the last few years I have made resolutions, and I've usually kept them (I don't usually ask all that much of myself), but I don't remember if I did last year. Oh, wait. I said (while drunk) that I was going to pursue freelance journalism/reviewing. Didn't, really.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?

No. Lots of people did (and congratulations to them all), but the ones I know are pretty much acquaintances (though they are all nice people).

4. Did anyone close to you die?

No. (Knock wood.) Unless you count my hope for change and progressive values.

5. What countries did you visit?

I was in Canada for New Year's. That's about it. Lame.

6. What would you like to have in 2005 that you lacked in 2004?

A job in a library.

7. What dates from 2004 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?

Memorial Day Weekend, because this year WisCon was a non-stop joyride for me. Took me a month to recover from all the meeting and the talking and the drinking. The big date in early November won't be etched due to my continuing attempts to pretend it never happened.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

It's a toss-up, really, between getting into grad school and selling all those stories. One vs. many. Practical vs. Artistic.

9. What was your biggest failure?

. . . should I make something up? There isn't anything big that I can think of . . . failing to finish revisions on one of the novel manuscripts, perhaps.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?

Blue flu, early November.

11. What was the best thing you bought?

A ticket to Alaska.

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?

You know on the O.C., when Theresa was like, "I'm pregnant" to Ryan, only they didn't know for sure if it was his baby, and he had just reconnected with Marissa, who is so totally skinny it's just unhealthy, but he was like, "Oh, well, I guess I better be a decent guy and go back to Chino with you even though I've totally got it made here in Newport with the beach house and the major psycho chick who's all into me?" That was pretty decent of him. Boring, but decent. Except that after he left, Seth like totally freaked and decided he was sailing to Tahiti, which, you know, never was going to happen for real, and what kind of a bitchy reaction is that to take off on Summer who so totally still loves him? I mean, is he in love with Ryan or what?

I love that show.*

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?

You know, pretty much anyone in politics. I mean it, everyone. John McCain for setting aside his integrity when Bush summoned him to the campaign trail. Kerry for trying to tell everyone what he thought they wanted to hear. Ralph Nader for being stubborn and unrealistic. Michael Moore, even, for making himself into a news story. And of course, the obvious fuckers in power.

14. Where did most of your money go?

School, rent, food, electric, gas, phone, car insurance.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?

Selling lots of stories and having people say nice things about them.

16. What song will always remind you of 2004?

I'm not sure my brain works that way, but if it does, it will probably be "Spiders (Kidsmoke)" by Wilco.

17. Compared to this time last year, you are:

More financially secure (thanks to student loans). More sure of myself as a writer. Less hairy.

18. What do you wish you'd done more of?

Hiking. Traveling. Falling onto the floor laughing.

19. What do you wish you'd done less of?

Cutting sandpaper.

20. How will you be spending Christmas?

With the 'rents and sibs, at the homestead up outside St. Paul.

22. Did you fall in love in 2004?

Um. I think so, yes. I'll keep y'all posted.

23. How many one-night stands?

Well, none, technically. There was one that was something like one, but . . . see last question.

24. What was your favorite TV program?

"Arrested Development." See the last part of my answer to question 18.

25. Do you hate anyone now that you didn't hate this time last year?

Hate is such a strong word. I mean, yes. But it's rude to name names. And I only hate them now as opposed to then because I didn't know them then.

26. What was the best book you read?

Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrel by Susannah Clarke was nearly perfect, London: the Biography by Peter Ackroyd was fascinating almost all the way through, and The Jane Austen Book Club was a comic delight.

27. What was your greatest musical discovery?

George Jones.

28. What did you want and get?

Into school.

29. What did you want and not get?

A pony.

30. What was your favorite film of this year?

Probably "Donnie Darko: the Director's Cut." Especially because I hadn't seen it the first time around. Blew my mind. There were lots of good ones, though: "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind," "Finding Neverland," and "Shaun of the Dead," to name a few. At the risk of being branded a heretic, I must say that "Garden State" wasn't that good. There were great bits, and the friend was a great character, but the whole Natalie Portman thing was kind of cliche (particularly the end), tonally the movie was all over the place, and I just cringe at the way Ian Holm was wasted in that film.

31. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?

I turned 34. I ate pizza and watched movies. Hn, not terribly exciting.

32.What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?

An electoral college revolt.

33. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2004?

OK, if there are people who develop annual personal fashion concepts, I don't want to meet them.

34. What kept you sane?

Who says I'm sane?

35. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?

Kate Winslet, always and forever.

36. What political issue stirred you the most?

I can't pick one.

37. Who did you miss?

Mom and Dad. Derek and Lynda. Keith (bad timing, man!)

38. Who was the best new person you met?

Well, I'm not quite ready to talk about that yet. Call me superstitious. But I met a lot of extremely cool people this year. You know who you are.

39. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2004:

Sometimes good things do happen.

*I'm actually serious.

D-U-N Done

Semester 1 (maybe 1.5) of the Master's program is over. Wow. Or possibly Whew.

Jumping back into school full time after six years was a bit foolhardy, but it seems to have worked out all right. I won't know for sure until I get my grades, of course. I've learned a lot though, not least, what I want to do with the degree. I've always figured I'd end up working in a public library, and that picture hasn't changed. But I know now that I'd like to work with kids. Not so much the little kids, though I have nothing against them, but more with the teenagers. I'd really love to be able to work in (or run) a great YA program that gives teens a place to feel welcome and to get excited about books and learning and all that stuff. I know, I sound horribly idealistic. I'll be happy if they feel welcome, but the rest of it would be a goal. I'm really psyched by all the technological approaches to librarianship I've been learning about, too, and the possibilities for programming, and fighting conservative parents on really cool books . . . well, OK, not so psyched about the fighting. And, really, sometimes you have to put the community's desires above your own opinions. That's going to be tough. But I'm really excited by all this. Next semester I'm taking the YA Lit course, and an independent study on reviewing, as well as Reference. I'm looking forward to it; but not as much as I'm looking forward to a month-long break.

Like "Crocodile," but Not Spelled Like That

I had a weird epiphany today, listening to XRT; the new(ish) Mark Knopfler single, "Boom Like That," which I've heard several times, came on. It's a good song, but I hadn't realized until I listened closely to the lyrics today that the song was about none other than Ray Kroc, the founder of McDonald's. I'm still cracking up over that.

Sunday, December 12, 2004

. . . and finally,

because it's all about me, I quote The Mumpsimus's review of Say . . . (Why Aren't We Crying?): "'The Lethe Man' by David J. Schwartz is a phenomenally unpredictable story of amnesia, a subject I thought I had had just about enough of until I saw how Schwartz handled it." OK, it's not a lot of words, but they are nice ones.

P.S. Pam, he has nice things to say about "Tempest in a Teacup," too!

Oh, and . . .

It's been a while between sales, but the Swensons at Talebones just bought my tale of identity anxiety and homeland insecurity, "A Whole Man," which Patrick tells me will appear in issue #30, Summer 2005. Wa-hoo!

Lost in the Grooves

So I probably should be working on my paper, but I've neglected thus far to mention that three of my music reviews appear in the spanking-new anthology Lost in the Grooves: Scram's Capricious Guide to the Music You Missed. Covering everything from Schooly D to Klaatu to Pac-Man Fever, this is a friendly (read: not snooty indie-record shop-like) travelogue through some of the greatest (?) overlooked albums of all time. In case y'all are interested, I wrote reviews of Johnny Cash's Bitter Tears, the Embarassment's retrospective collection Heyday, and the Poster Children's Junior Citizen. But don't take my word for it; with names like Rick Moody, Peter Bagge and George Pelecanos attached (not to mention all-star editors Kim Cooper and David Smay), this is the hippest without being hipper-than-thou cast of music lovers ever assembled. Check it out.