Some Thoughts, and My 2011 Reading List

It’s already 2012 in my current time zone and, so far, nothing seems so different about 2012. Just like on birthdays, the actual movement of the clock from 11:59PM to 00:01AM wasn’t a noteworthy experience full of internal fireworks going BANG and making everything in my head rearrange itself somehow. Thank goodness – can you imagine how unpleasant that would have been?

I’ve never made New Year’s resolutions. I judge myself too harshly and obsess over things too easily – if I made resolutions, I’d feel horribly guilty if I broke them, and keeping them would turn into an unpleasant and burdensome chore that I’d learn to despise. So I make small resolutions, daily goals that I can write down in my planner and joyfully tick off at the end of the day.

I also don’t seem to go for introspection. I’ve realized lately that I have a lot of trouble with sitting and thinking. I know some people who consciously take time to think over their issues, to reach decisions, to make sense of what they’re doing. I don’t do this. It seems to happen on its own, in between reading and showering and going about my daily life. I often wonder what I’m missing and whether my insights are somehow less worthy because I didn’t put in the deliberate time to reach them. I think that’s why I don’t manage to write long pieces about my life very often. I get bored with only being able to experience what I experience and think what I think; I suppose that’s part of why I read so much.

My only real resolution for 2012 is to manage to read one hundred books or more. And now I present the list of books I read during 2011:

Reading List, 2011

 

 

January

  1. A Room With a View by E. M. Forster
  2. To the Lighthouse by Virgina Woolf
  3. The Autograph Man by Zadie Smith
  4. How the Elephant Got Its Trunk by Rudyard Kipling
  5. Mai: The Psychic Girl Perfect Collection (Volume 1) story by Kazuya Kudo, art by Ryoichi Ikegami [graphic novel]
  6. Mai: The Psychic Girl Perfect Collection (Volume 2) story by Kazuya Kudo, art by Ryoichi Ikegami [graphic novel]
  7. The Mill on the Floss by George Elliot
  8. The Cold War: A New History by John Lewis Gaddis
  9. Mai: The Psychic Girl Perfect Collection (Volume 3) story by Kazuya Kudo, art by Ryoichi Ikegami [graphic novel]
  10. The Loneliness of the Mind Reader by Dalit Orbach
  11. Henry IV Part I by William Shakespeare

 

February

  1. Maurice by E. M. Forster
  2. The Little Drummer Girl by John le Carré
  3. A Study in Scarlet by Arthur Conan Doyle
  4. The Sign of Four by Arthur Conan Doyle
  5. The Spy Who Came in From the Cold by John le Carré

 

March

  1. The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss [reread]
  2. The Wise Man’s Fear by Patrick Rothfuss
  3. The Portable Dorothy Parker by Dorothy Parker
  4. The Mystery of Grace by Charles de Lint
  5. Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen
  6. The Late Mrs. Dorothy Parker by Leslie Frewin

 

April

  1. The Professor of Desire by Philip Roth
  2. The Quest for le Carre ed. By Alan Bold
  3. The Faerie Queene, book VI by Edmund Spenser
  4. IT by Stephen King
  5. Utopia by Thomas More
  6. A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
  7. The Tempest by William Shakespeare
  8. Muse and Reverie by Charles de Lint
  9. Overqualified by Joey Comeau

 

May

  1. Bad Love by Jonathan Kellerman
  2. Tortall and Other Lands: A Collection of Tales by Tamora Pierce
  3. Twisted by Jonathan Kellerman
  4. The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton
  5. Seventh Son by Orson Scott Card

 

June

  1. Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh
  2. Along for the Ride by Sarah Dessen
  3. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
  4. The Restaurant at the End of the Universe by Douglas Adams
  5. Life, the Universe and Everything by Douglas Adams
  6. So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish by Douglas Adams
  7. Young Zaphod Plays it Safe by Douglas Adams
  8. The Hug by David Grossman
  9. Mostly Harmless by Douglas Adams
  10. Neuland by Eshkol Nevo
  11. The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents by Terry Pratchett

 

July

  1. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain
  2. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J. K. Rowling [Reread]
  3. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
  4. The Locusts Have No King by Dawn Powel
  5. Pipelines by Etgar Keret
  6. Naamah’s Blessing by Jacqueline Carey

 

August

  1. Starting Out in the Evening by Brian Morton
  2. Watchmen by Alan Moore
  3. Embassytown by Charles Mieville
  4. The Conspiracy Club by Jonathan Kellerman
  5. I Shall Wear Midnight by Terry Pratchett
  6. Breakable You by Brian Morton

 

September

  1. Missing Kissinger by Etgar Keret
  2. Scott Pilgrim’s Precious Little Life by Bryan Lee O’Malley
  3. The Adventure of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain [Reread]
  4. Scott Pilgrim v. the World by Bryan Lee O’Malley
  5. Scott Pilgrim and the Infinite Sadness by Bryan Lee O’Malley
  6. Scott Pilgrim Gets it Together by Bryan Lee O’Malley
  7. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen [Reread]

 

October

  1. Masfield Park by Jane Austen [Reread]
  2. Spuds by Karen Hesse
  1. Galilee by Clive Barker
  2. Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky
  3. David Copperfield by Charles Dickens [Reread]
  4. The Collected Tales of A. E. Coppard by A. E. Coppard
  5. Wolf Moon by Charles de Lint

 

November

  1. Moby Dick by Herman Melville
  2. God’s Eyes a-Twinkle: An Anthology by T.F. Powys
  3. Middlemarch by George Eliot

 

 

December

  1. The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle
  2. Spindle’s End by Robin McKinley
  3. A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan
  4. Fairest by Gail Carson Levine
  5. The Dylanist by Brian Morton
  6. Conrad’s Fate by Diana Wynne Jones
  7. The Pinhoe Egg by Diana Wynne Jones

     

 

 

Lesson Learned

This morning, I woke up with the greatest idea for a story. It was an original concept, and I had a strong character in mind.

And then…

I fell back asleep.

And I forgot the idea.

The only thing I remember is that the character was female, and I believe she was a young girl.

Tonight I’m going to bed with a notebook and a pen by my bed again.

Stuff in List Format

1) I’m tired.

2) A band of metal seems to have been inserted under the skin of my forehead – that’s the only description I can come up with at the moment for the headache that has been plaguing me all day.

3) I just got back from seeing the second Sherlock Holmes movie. It was exactly what I expected it to be – extremely fun, full of very yummy visuals of Robert Downy Jr. with his shirt off and/or tight pants on, equally full of romantic moments between Holmes and Watson and, finally, including the lovely voice and presence of Mr. Stephen Fry as the Other Holmes, also known as Mycroft.

4) Chocolate chip cookies are yummie.

5) They’re also sadly caloric.

6) It’s time for me to go to bed now before I get too into writing this list of absolutely purposeless information.

Conversion

“Convince me.”

The whispered challenge echoed in the otherwise silent, empty space. The words didn’t seem to disperse and the lips that had uttered them were still curled aggressively around them. A skittering noise in the wall broke the spell of rage, announcing that the place wasn’t quite as empty as it seemed; there were mice in the walls, at the very least.

A statue loomed at one end of the hall. It was a tragic figure, mouth turned down, eyelids drooping sadly, shoulders drawn up in a helpless gesture. If it was expected to respond, it stayed disappointingly still.

“Convince me!”

No whisper this time; a harsh, ragged voice flew around the high ceiling and traveled up and down the walls. The mice stopped their scratching, fearful of the stranger invading their nocturnal freedom. Sharp whistles came from the speaker’s chest as air wheezed in and out of it. Illness was in the air. The statue’s frown almost seemed to deepen, perhaps in mourning.

“CONVINCE ME!”

The shout dispersed the quickest. Two thumps followed; the mice fled, thinking it was the cat jumping down from some high object. What followed was the most profound lack of sound, more of an absence of anything substantial rather than true silence.

Typer

The blender whirred and buzzed loudly. Laura turned her head and torso away from it, even as her finger stayed firmly on the button that made it work. It was an old machine, one of those that had been built to last rather than to break, and she’d gotten it when she and her sister moved their mother to the nursing home and divided the stuff in their childhood home between them. Laura had also taken the old rug that had kept the parlor permanently dusty and the painting her father had produced in his youth before giving up on art and becoming a pawnbroker.

She took her finger off the button and felt her headache subside a little with the end of the horrible noise. Lifting the lid, she looked in at the gooey, sticky mess and sniffed deeply. Chocolate, brown sugar, peanut butter and half a gallon of soy milk. Her friends said it tasted awful, but the invented drink was Laura’s favorite. Sometimes she added vodka and made it as her own personal cocktail when she had friends over for dinner and drinks.

Laura poured herself some of the thick drink and put the glass container with the rest of it into the fridge to cool. She dunked one of the thick crazy-straws that she collected into it and sipped – it was a struggle, which was part of the fun – as she took it into her writing room.

She sat down at her typewriter. She had a laptop beside it, but she used it only to copy the typewritten pages, editing them along the way. Her first drafts she wrote exclusively on the clunky old machine. She had a thing for the antique and outdated. Anything that seemed to reflect the past drew her attention immediately. In college, she’d considered becoming an archaeologist for a while before inevitably declaring an English major.

Taking another long sip, Laura began to type.

Spammers

I’ve had an upswing of spam on my blog recently. I even have a couple spam websites subscribed to or following my blog, which feels weird. I don’t think I have enough audience to be spam-worthy, nor do I write about subjects that seem to be particularly relevant to spammers, but I guess that really doesn’t matter.
The thing is, it’s getting on my nerves, because half the time when I get a fun email saying that someone “liked” a post of mine, it ends up being some spam-bot. Which is just kind of sad.

In other news, today, for the first time since NaNoWriMo 2011, I sat down and worked on a story for a while. It felt lovely. I’ve been writing in my blog nearly every day, true, but there’s a huge difference between my experience of putting down a short blog post and working on a story where I lose myself and end up with an hour and five pages behind me.

The Goof

It was going to be a stinky day. Mark could feel it as he walked through the halls. Some days just stank, and this was one of them. He kicked an empty can in front of him and concentrated on the rattling, metallic noise it made. It was better to listen to that than to hear the conversations going on around him in which he wasn’t a part.

“Hey.” The Goof was waiting by his locker again. Mark knew his real name, but he never thought of him as anything other than The Goof. The Goof had big ears that stuck out of his head, big eyes, a big mouth and an oddly small nose. It was as if someone had looked at pictures of boys in a magazine and cut out different bits of their faces and assembled them together. The result was The Goof. Mark didn’t answer him as he opened his locker, hiding the combination with his hand. Thirty-two… Seventeen… Twenty. Open. It was like magic, a little piece of magic, this locker-opening business. All you did was twist a knob around, but you had to do it carefully, you had to concentrate or you’d have to start the whole thing over again.

“Hey.” The Goof wasn’t going away. Mark grunted his approximation of a greeting. The Goof, now secure that he had Mark’s attention, launched into a long speech about the recent discoveries or, as he pointed out, un-discoveries, about the shadowy mystery of the God Particle. Mark didn’t know what he was talking about. He tuned The Goof out, as he usually did, and grabbed his algebra textbook and his lunch from the locker before banging it shut and walking away, The Goof trotting along at his heels like a persistent terrier.

Ten

One is unnoticeable. To others.

Two is still unnoticeable. Except to myself.

Three is so little that only sharp-eyed will catch it.

Four is within normal fluctuation.

Five is still not enough to talk about.

Six is noticeable but the tactful will ignore it.

Seven is enough to talk about, in whispers.

Eight is undeniable.

Nine is unignorable.

Ten is the end of the world.

Another Birthday

Freckled with the usual sorrows that inevitably mark the crevices of our faces as we grow older, Ally celebrated her fiftieth birthday alone, stretched out on a foreign beach. She was wearing an old one-piece bathing suit that had become baggy on her during the last year. She’d never known how strange a baggy swimsuit could feel; it was like she was wearing a second skin that had begun sagging and stretching. She wondered if people who lost a lot of weight very quickly felt this way about their extra skin, and then she remembered that technically she could fall into that category and that none of her own flesh and skin felt this way.

The sunlight felt warm on her skin and she fleetingly worried about skin cancer, before bursting out laughing. A passing local – she could tell he was local because he was wearing tight Speedos rather than swim trunks – stared at her, startled. She smiled at him but silenced herself. She was still capable of being embarrassed. Shame and modesty seemed to be human qualities that you didn’t lose, even after being poked and prodded and operated on over and over again.

Three to six months, they’d said. It was now the seventh, and she got to celebrate another birthday, something she’d resigned herself to not being able to do. So she took herself to somewhere warm and faraway, where people didn’t look at her with tears or panic in their eyes at the idea that she could go at any moment.

“Happy birthday to me,” she sang quietly to herself. The crowded beach was noisy and no one heard her, thankfully. She flung an arm over her eyes and decided to take a nap.