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The Mutemath concert was indeed on the 24th, and after parking a zillion blocks away, I joined the crowd of slightly nervous freshmen around the stage.  I don’t feel very far removed from college at all, but as I realized that I was about eight years older than most of the masses around me, I felt like the interloper at the kids’ table.  I went alone, which actually probably helped me to blend in better; a lot of the freshmen clearly didn’t really know anyone yet, so we all stood awkwardly by ourselves, bobbing our heads to the music.  For a free concert, the show was great–but if I’d paid a lot of money, I would’ve been sad.  The vocals were almost inaudible over the drums during some songs.  It was still a fun experience, even if one over-bold, socially inept freshman did start playing with my hair halfway through the concert (what the heck, dude?).

On Thursday we had a long, LONG overdue reunion of the Literary League, complete with tiramisu ice cream, chocolate, tea, and blueberries.  We didn’t read any selections–it had been so long since we got together, we mostly just needed to catch up–but we did talk extensively about books and writing.  We need more of the same, and soon!

Over the long weekend, I’m going to spend time with family and friends in the Charlotte area.  I hope you have a similarly good Labor Day!


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Books: I’m just finishing up Sailing to Sarantium by Guy Gavriel Kay, first in his Sarantine Mosaic duology.  (I think I may always use “duology” from now on to describe a book and its sequel, what a neat word.)  Historical fantasy as a genre might as well have been created for me; it basically consists of everything I love.  Kay is a wonder at making historical time periods come to life and then subtly, surprisingly working bits of fantasy into them.  This duology takes place in the equivalent of the Byzantine Empire, and it is a feast for a history fan.  As I read along, things feel familiar, and it’s great fun to match up fictional characters with their historical counterparts.  I realized, for example, that one of the characters is essentially the Emperor Justinian.  “But if he’s Justinian, that means she’s…ooo, I get it.”  Suffice it to say, I’m madly in love with Sarantium and will need to dig up the next book posthaste.

On Thursday I went to the opening night for As You Like It, which was hilariously entertaining.  If you’re in the area, you should check it out!  My  roommate is one of the Forest Lords, and you’ll be greatly amused by the unique way the production handles some of the characters.

My boss sent out a company-wide email asking us to “join him in saving lives” by going to a blood drive on Monday.  I signed up and dutifully arrived at the Red Cross facility to save those lives…alone.  Not a single employee showed up, not even my boss.  I actually had a pretty fun time (or as much fun as you can have while being exsanguinated) because my fellow donors were such interesting folk.  One young guy, who was trying desperately to be macho but was clearly very nervous, nearly passed out and was fussed over by several nurses while he sheepishly sipped juice.  A tiny boy, whose mother was giving blood, struck up a conversation with me about his dog, monsters, and school, respectively.  He thought highly of the first two and rather less of the latter.  With so many interesting things going on, I wasn’t paying attention to my own blood bag, and it was full surprisingly fast.  The nurse told me admiringly, “You bleed REALLY well.”  I asked if that was a good or bad thing, and she said I had great veins, but I better never get stabbed.  They couldn’t get me to stop bleeding for a while, and I ended up getting a fancy bandage and stern instructions not to lift anything heavy lest I start leaking again.  Exciting times.

This weekend I’m going to attempt again to see the free Mutemath performance at State’s Packapalooza.  My first attempt last Saturday was really pathetic.  Somehow I got the idea in my head that the concert was on the 17th instead of the 24th, and I dutifully drove to State, found parking, and wandered around in the rain looking for a concert.  It was pitiful, let me tell you, and somewhat disconcerting since while I make other types of mistakes constantly, dates are my THING and I rarely mess those up.

I saw the fox again near Walnut Street while I was running.  I really hope he doesn’t get hit by a car; I think we’re really bonding.


Books: I reread As You Like It in preparation for seeing the play, since it had been a quite a few years since I last sauntered through the forest of Arden.  What a fun comedy!  I appreciate Shakes’ wit more and more all the time.

The Stranger by Albert Camus has been on my to-read list for years, not because I’m particularly fond of absurdist literature but because it’s a classic and Camus won the Nobel Prize for Literature, so there has to be something going on there.  He was awarded the prize for “his important literary production, which with clear-sighted earnestness illuminates the problems of the human conscience in our times,” and so far as it goes, I’ll buy that.  He’s earnest, all right.  And if you consider human apathy and the meaninglessness of life to be particularly troubling to the human conscience of today, he definitely turns the spotlight on them.  If, like me, you do not believe in the inherent meaninglessness of life, and you find human apathy repulsive,  cowardly, and something to fight against, you’ll probably be pretty irritated by The Stranger.  I’m glad I read it to get a glimpse at this type of philosophy, and I’m glad I never have to read it again.

If you were to imagine the exact opposite of The Stranger, you would probably come up with a book something like Little House in the Ozarks: The Rediscovered Writings by Laura Ingalls Wilder–reading the two books simultaneously was fascinating.  Wilder’s collection of essays, written before she wrote her famous books, is a beautiful and educational look into the life and times of Wilder, and many of her thoughts, although almost 100 years old, are perfectly applicable today.  Wilder advocates personal responsibility, hard work, thrift, and joy in everything.  Camus says nothing has importance; Wilder says everything has importance.  If you judge a philosophy by the quality of the lives of those who hold it, Wilder is undoubtedly the winner, and I’ll take her musings over Meursault’s vapidity any day.

I don’t think the average person has this many laundry-related adventures; I feel like I’m exceeding my quota.  I’m proud to say that I only flinched slightly at discovering a stranger’s wig all by itself in the apartment complex washing machine, especially since at first I thought it was an animal and at second I thought it was a human scalp.  I bravely fished it out and put it on the laundry table for lack of anything better to do with it, so I’m sure it gave any other innocent residents doing their laundry small heart attacks too.

I tried really hard to watch the Perseid meteor shower this year.  My plan to drive until I hit dark sky was thwarted by persistent cloud cover and a whole lot of lightning, but I did get to experience a very nice tour of North Carolinian farm land as I drove around trying to find a farmer’s field where I wasn’t too likely to be shot by the farmer.

In other news, whoo, this is my 300th post!




Books: A friend loaned me Maskerade by Terry Pratchett, and it’s a testament to how much I trust the friend (Sarah, unsurprisingly) that I didn’t even read the back of the book before starting the novel.  I was pleasantly surprised, therefore, to discover that Maskerade is a hilarious retelling of The Phantom of the Opera.

I’m currently working on Hogfather by Pratchett, which I borrowed at the same time.  I committed the cardinal sin of seeing the movie first, which had its moments (several involving the actress who plays Mary on Downton Abbey playing Death’s granddaughter) but was overall a little rambly.  The book is FAR ramblier, and since I already know all of the twists, a bit unimpressive as a whole.  Still full of lots of small, tremendously funny quips, though!

If you like Shakespeare, Appalachian music, or any combination thereof, you should come check out As You Like It by Bare Theater!  At the very least, watch the trailer because it’s adorable.

I had a brush with heart failure the other night.  When I moved to my new apartment, I hung a large, heavy picture above my bed.  (You can probably see where this is going already.)  Since it was so heavy, I put a hefty nail in the stud to hold it.  It hung there peacefully for two months without so much as a wobble, until about 3:00am Saturday night when it came crashing down like a guillotine in the two-inch space between the wall and my headboard.  Let me tell you, that is not the best way to wake up.  I was fairly certain the apartment was being demolished around my ears, but once I discovered that wasn’t the case, I went back to sleep.  In the morning I discovered that the picture had sliced down hard enough to knock the electrical outlet partly out of the wall.  The nail was where it was supposed to be, and the picture hanger didn’t break, so apparently the picture just wiggled its way off the nail.  I hung it again (more securely, I hope), but if I die from decapitation in the near future, you’ll know how it happened.

I went to a book signing for my amazing friend Anne Elisabeth Stengl this week, which was lovely as always.  Her husband made some sort of obscenely good chocolate coffee cheesecake, so we ate and hung out at the Barnes and Noble afterwards.  I feel like I’ve done quite well in my friendships: I’m pals with accomplished authors and fantastic chefs.

I, sadly, am not a fantastic chef, but I was very brave this week and made edible books for an upcoming book-and-tea-themed baby shower (I also have friends who choose books and tea as their baby shower theme–aren’t you jealous?).  They were indeed edible!  Triumph.



Books: My review of 2001: A Space Odyssey by Arthur C. Clarke should be prefaced by the statement that I did see the movie, but I was a little kid at the time.  My recollection is hazy, but I do recall tremendous amounts of nothing happening (albeit very beautifully) for long periods of time.  I need to rewatch it now, I think.  The book is very similar to the movie in that nothing persists in happening for long stretches.  Before reading 2001, I felt rather ambivalently towards Clarke  in general.  The only other book I’ve read by him was Dolphin Island, which was rife with exclamation point overuse and abuse.  2001 didn’t suffer from that, fortunately, though it was incredibly slow-moving to the point of being dull.  At the same time, I can see why it stands as a scifi classic.  A lot of the premises seem worn now, but only because 2001 was among the first to use them and everyone else since has copied the ideas.  There was a lot of good stuff in 2001, and it’s encouraging me to rethink my opinions of Clarke.

Had a glorious weekend in Winston Salem with my posse of friends!  We have such good times together, even (especially?) when we’re not doing anything in particular.  For instance, hanging around the kitchen sleepily sipping coffee and laughing about nothing is the perfect way to spend a morning.

My Mondays have been splendid lately.  This most recent was spent at Remedy Diner, a mostly vegan restaurant in Raleigh, with friends new and old.  I had a bad cold and was really out of it that evening, and I realized when I got home that I had shorted the waitress on the tip by $2.50.  I mailed a few singles the next day to alleviate my guilty conscience without actually having to drive into downtown Raleigh two nights in a row.  Now I’m just hoping I don’t run into the (probably furious) waitress between now and the time the envelope arrives.

A trip to the farm always makes my week, and on Thursday I made my way to Four Oaks for dinner, archery, and time with the animals.  I realize from personal experience that farm life is not as idyllic as it seems, but the Langdon farm does nothing to dispel the misconception.  A rainbow came out while we were doing archery, the sheep let us pet them, and we ate delicious food outside with the cats milling around us.  All the way home, the sky put on an incredible lightning show.



Books: I’m reading Pavilion of Women by Pearl Buck at the moment.  Buck’s talent astounds me–not just because she’s a very good storyteller (she is), but because she has the knack of making you care whether you want to or not.  I have no kinship with Chinese culture: I have nothing whatsoever against it, but it’s not one of my interests.  I have a hard time wrapping my head around the Eastern mindset; all the more reason to learn more about it, I initially figured, so I did a fair bit of reading on it several years ago.  While I think I understand it better now, the Eastern way of thinking (collectivism instead of individualism, observation over action, etc.) still doesn’t resonate with me at all.  All this is to say, Buck makes me sympathize with and even love a culture that is the antithesis of my personality.  Her love for the people and culture is so strong, and so beautifully expressed, that her readers come out the other side loving them too.

Does anyone know how to switch their author profile on Goodreads back to their regular user profile, short of deleting the author profile altogether?  I’d kind of like my Goodreads friends to see my regular profile instead–my author one seems awfully pretentious, especially for people who know quite well that I am nowhere near that professional. Preliminary googling was unhelpful.

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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