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
A Room With a View by E. M. Forster
To the Lighthouse by Virgina Woolf
The Autograph Man by Zadie Smith
How the Elephant Got Its Trunk by Rudyard Kipling
Mai: The Psychic Girl Perfect Collection (Volume 1) story by Kazuya Kudo, art by Ryoichi Ikegami [graphic novel]
Mai: The Psychic Girl Perfect Collection (Volume 2) story by Kazuya Kudo, art by Ryoichi Ikegami [graphic novel]
The Mill on the Floss by George Elliot
The Cold War: A New History by John Lewis Gaddis
Mai: The Psychic Girl Perfect Collection (Volume 3) story by Kazuya Kudo, art by Ryoichi Ikegami [graphic novel]
The Loneliness of the Mind Reader by Dalit Orbach
Henry IV Part I by William Shakespeare
Maurice by E. M. Forster
The Little Drummer Girl by John le Carré
A Study in Scarlet by Arthur Conan Doyle
The Sign of Four by Arthur Conan Doyle
The Spy Who Came in From the Cold by John le Carré
The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss [reread]
The Wise Man’s Fear by Patrick Rothfuss
The Portable Dorothy Parker by Dorothy Parker
The Mystery of Grace by Charles de Lint
Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen
The Late Mrs. Dorothy Parker by Leslie Frewin
The Professor of Desire by Philip Roth
The Quest for le Carre ed. By Alan Bold
The Faerie Queene, book VI by Edmund Spenser
IT by Stephen King
Utopia by Thomas More
A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
The Tempest by William Shakespeare
Muse and Reverie by Charles de Lint
Overqualified by Joey Comeau
Bad Love by Jonathan Kellerman
Tortall and Other Lands: A Collection of Tales by Tamora Pierce
Twisted by Jonathan Kellerman
The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton
Seventh Son by Orson Scott Card
Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh
Along for the Ride by Sarah Dessen
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
The Restaurant at the End of the Universe by Douglas Adams
Life, the Universe and Everything by Douglas Adams
So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish by Douglas Adams
Young Zaphod Plays it Safe by Douglas Adams
The Hug by David Grossman
Mostly Harmless by Douglas Adams
Neuland by Eshkol Nevo
The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents by Terry Pratchett
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J. K. Rowling [Reread]
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
The Locusts Have No King by Dawn Powel
Pipelines by Etgar Keret
Naamah’s Blessing by Jacqueline Carey
Starting Out in the Evening by Brian Morton
Watchmen by Alan Moore
Embassytown by Charles Mieville
The Conspiracy Club by Jonathan Kellerman
I Shall Wear Midnight by Terry Pratchett
Breakable You by Brian Morton
Missing Kissinger by Etgar Keret
Scott Pilgrim’s Precious Little Life by Bryan Lee O’Malley
The Adventure of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain [Reread]
Scott Pilgrim v. the World by Bryan Lee O’Malley
Scott Pilgrim and the Infinite Sadness by Bryan Lee O’Malley
Scott Pilgrim Gets it Together by Bryan Lee O’Malley
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen [Reread]
Masfield Park by Jane Austen [Reread]
Spuds by Karen Hesse
Galilee by Clive Barker
Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky
David Copperfield by Charles Dickens [Reread]
The Collected Tales of A. E. Coppard by A. E. Coppard
Wolf Moon by Charles de Lint
Moby Dick by Herman Melville
God’s Eyes a-Twinkle: An Anthology by T.F. Powys
Middlemarch by George Eliot
The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.