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Well hello! I am somewhat less swamped, and this is good. We’re putting the finishing touches on the room (the inside, that is) which means that very soon the rest of the house will be back to its normal state, or something resembling it. This is inexpressibly good because even Gracie has been acting depressed by the pandemonium.

Tomorrow I work 7:30 to 4:30 on one of the biggest shopping days of the year; if I don’t make it back alive, you can have my to-do list.

I think I have resigned myself to the fact that I simply cannot do all of the things I wanted to do before break ends. Not without 28 hour days, anyway. However! I have done some reading, even if it’s not as much as I wanted to. I read The Vision and Seize the Night, both by Dean Koontz. I wasn’t very impressed with The Vision; it wasn’t as well-done as many of his others, and I found it extremely predictable. Seize the Night, however, was great and a neat follow-up to Fear Nothing, which you pretty much have to read first to get the full effect.

While at the library, thinking of books a million miles from C.S. Lewis, I stumbled quite by accident over Till We Have Faces by that venerable author. Dr. Waldron recommended this book highly, so I scooped it up, figuring it was destiny or some such. Oh my. Everyone needs to read it. At first it just seems moderately good, nothing special, but by the time you get to the end you are consumed. It’s radically different (at least it seems so to me) from anything else of his I’ve read, but it’s very, very good.

Then I read Bridge to Terabithia by Kathering Paterson, and I can’t quite figure out why I haven’t read this book before. It’s such a Stephanie book, it feels like I must have read it. It’s exquisite and terrible and beautiful and has instantly become one of my old favorites; it’s an old friend I just met. I hate to give anything away for both this book and Till We Have Faces, they’re so, so grand. Just go read them both immediately.

I started Zorro by Isabel Allende a few books ago. Now, to preface this statement, I must say that I love Zorro. I grew up on the old black-and-white Zorro shows with Guy Williams, who is the epitome of class. I would try any book with no further information on it other than it was about Zorro. So when I say that this book is so horrible, I can’t bring myself to finish it, you know what I really mean. Somehow this woman has ended up all over the New York Bestsellers List, which makes my opinion of said list sink even lower than it already was. It’s like that Archy and Mehitabel poem, you know, the one about the napkins. She strings unbelievable, wildly improbably adventures together higgely-piggely, yet the book is still mind-numbingly dull. It’s horribly organized, or rather not organized at all, the characters all have confusing mood swings, inconsistencies, and generally nothing interesting or realistic about themselves to say. Words fail to describe the hideousness of this book. I hate not finishing a book, but I may have met my match. It burns, it burns!

Oh, hey, I found that poem! I used to think that everyone knew Archy and Mehitabel, but apparently that is not the case, so I shall copy an intro here: “Due to a tragic mishap of destiny, Archy, once a great poet, was reincarnated as a roach, but maintained the poet’s soul, which he poured out in verse each night by hopping from key to key on Mr. Don Marquis’ rusty old typewriter. Archy told stories about Mehitabel the cat, Freddy the Rat, and other denizens of the garage he lived in. Since he couldn’t manage the shift key, his verse was relatively unadorned by punctuation.” And here is the poem:

takes talent
there are two
kinds of human
beings in the world
so my observation
has told me
namely and to wit
as follows
those who
even though they
were to reveal
the secret of the universe
to you would fail
to impress you
with any sense
of the importance
of the news
and secondly
those who could
communicate to you
that they had
just purchased
ten cents worth
of paper napkins
and make you
thrill and vibrate
with the intelligence

By Don Maquis

*happy sigh* I just love Archy.

Oh, right, books! I am now reading The African Queen by C.S. Forester, of Stephanie-acclaimed fame for writing the Horatio Hornblower books. It’s too soon to be sure, but I suspect it may be awesome. Will report when further intelligence has been gathered.

I have made it all the way to the Fs in my Musiczilla project. This means I am roughly 1/5 of the way through, and at the current rate, I shall finish it before I turn 28, rather than 64! This is very, very good. In addition, I wrote a short story the other day! And part of another one! I have much more to write, but I feel better about the break for having written at least something now.

Well, if there was more, I’ve certainly forgotten it by now!

The other day at work, three tiny nuns in habits came into the store, and they wandered around for a while. As they were walking out, all three of them stopped, and one turned and said to me, “Good hair. Nice.” Then all three walked away. It was exceedingly surreal and quite wonderful.

Oh dear, if ever anyone, ANYONE, suggests a remodeling or home improvement project, I do believe I will have to do something drastic. I cannot begin to express how ready I am for this project to be done. Everyday all of us go out and work on the room (we’re remodeling our garage into several rooms, it’s complicated and I’m not sure I fully understand myself…in fact I’m pretty sure I don’t), from crack of dawn till late at night. I go to work at Staples all day, then come home and work in the room (hence my state of complete and total exhaustion..we’re on a bit of a tight schedule to get this done). Mini Jim is coated in fine white dust, as is everything else in the house, because of sanding the drywall gunk. I got an interesting glimpse at what I’ll look like in 40 years, after sanding the other day. The dust hangs in the air like a white cloud and settles in my hair and turns it white. After that I got smart and tied a bandanna around my head, pirate-style! I suppose home improvement projects do have their upsides; being a pirate is always fun, even if you’re a pirate with a paint brush.

I have never been able to eat blueberries without turning my whole mouth purple. We have pictures of me as a tot with a very purple mouth, happily eating blueberries. It’s one of the very nice constants in life; I hope when I’m 87 I eat blueberries and they turn my mouth purple.

I’m going to talk about shopping for a moment, but it’s only shopping for a digital camera, so don’t run away just yet. I have been using my brother’s camera so much that it was beginning to get just plain silly, and he often wants it during the week when I have it with me at Campbell, plus he wants to take it with him to college next fall. So I’ve been subtly on the look-out for a digital camera of my own. Well, Staples had a very nice deal for a 6.0 megapixel camera for $130 that came with a free printer (after rebate). In addition, this week I get a 12% discount because, I dunno, it’s employee appreciation week or something. Also, I had a $20 gift card they gave me before I left for school. So I was rather excited about that, and planned on also purchasing a memory card and a case since I had the discount. I got there early to do all this purchasing, but was crushed to discover this particular camera was out of stock. However! I was then informed that they had a replacement camera (a 7.0 megapixel camera, originally $150) that they would give me for the original price. In addition, this camera was part of another deal that meant it came with a free 512 megabyte memory card! I walked out of there with the camera, card, printer, and case for a mere $114. Now just as long as I don’t drop it…

Ok, books! I started Idylls of the King by Tennyson, and loved it very much, mostly due to his wonderful language, but interrupted it to read several other books. Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones was quite delightful. The movie of the same name doesn’t really appeal to me much, but the book is very unique, a fast read, and is very quirky and original. That all sounds very much like a canned review, but trust me, it’s good, you’ll like it. I read a short novel with a story in it written by one of my hallmates that was a (very) fluffy exam-week read; I don’t have anything amazing to say about it, but she got published, which is more than I’ve done, hehe. Speaking of which, I need to just sit down and write my brain out. I have so many story ideas, and there’s that contest at Campbell, and I just need to write so desperately!

Yesterday I got up early and went to the library before work, which was lovely. I got a whole slew of books! I already finished one; it was We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson, the woman who wrote The Haunting of Hill House. As I was reading it, it seemed so very familiar; it reminded me of when I read Dracula, like I had read it so long ago that I didn’t remember reading it specifically, but I remembered odd bits of the story and I knew what was going to happen next. It’s not just deja vu, it’s an actual physical sense of having read this book before and having turned these pages before. I loved, loved, loved the book. Shirley Jackson is one of my new (or maybe very old?) favorite writers. I don’t know if I should have read this book a long time ago, if I did…it’s fuzzy enough that I must’ve been very young, and the story isn’t one for children. BUT. You should read it, immediately. Such a very, very well written book with subtle characters.

Speaking of subtle, the main problem I have with most non-classical literature (well, I shouldn’t say the main problem…one of the problems) is the heavy-handed, beat-you-over-the-head characterization. “She was strong-willed and impetuous.” SHOW, DON’T TELL. If she *is* strong-willed and impetuous, please don’t be so trite as to tell me so. Put her in situations that show her strength of will or her impetuosity (is that a word?), and do it creatively and in a way that might, just possibly, actually happen in real life. I could go off on this subject for a very long time, so I will restrain myself and go eat an apple. Goodnight!

You seem to have stumbled upon a storytelling of ravens. Watch for falling collective nouns; you may find a wing of dragons or a charm of hummingbirds caught in your hair. Hardhats are recommended.

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