i'm still quite sure that amazon.com will be responsible for the fall of western civilization, but i admit that it brought me great joy by teleporting a box of goodness to my desk in two days (with super saver shipping! i was expecting it at the end of next week!). perhaps the little gnomes who run the universe pitied me in my ongoing state of suspense and thought i could use a distraction; that's what i thought when i placed the order, anyway.

i realized as i clawed my way through the packaging that its contents were the subjects of one of my favorite paintings. that's todays reader challenge, then:

mystery package

what books did i order?


my head is still full of waiting, o internets; until it empties and fills again with news, have a reading meme.

Look at the list of books below. Bold the ones you’ve read, italicize the ones you want to read, strike the ones you wouldn’t touch with a ten foot pole, put a cross (+) in front of the ones on your book shelf, and asterisk the ones you’ve never heard of.

001 the da vinci code (dan brown)
002 +pride and prejudice (jane austen)
003 to kill a mockingbird (harper lee)
004 gone with the wind (margaret mitchell)
005 +the lord of the rings: the fellowship of the ring (j.r.r. tolkien)
006 +the lord of the rings: the two towers (j.r.r. tolkien)
007 +the lord of the rings: the return of the king (j.r.r. tolkien)
008 anne of green gables (l.m. montgomery)
009 outlander (diana gabaldon)
010 *a fine balance (rohinton mistry)
011 +harry potter and the goblet of fire (j.k. rowling)
012 angels and demons (dan brown)
013 +harry potter and the order of the phoenix (j.k. rowling)
014 a prayer for owen meany (john irving)
015 memoirs of a geisha (arthur golden)
016 harry potter and the sorcerer's stone (j.k. rowling)
017 fall on your knees (ann-marie macdonald)
018 the stand (stephen king)
019 harry potter and the prisoner of azkaban (j.k. rowling)
020 +jane eyre (charlotte bronte)
021 +the hobbit (j.r.r. tolkien)
022 +the catcher in the rye (j.d. salinger)
023 little women (louisa may alcott)
024 the lovely bones (alice sebold)
025 +life of pi (yann martel)
026 the hitchhiker's guide to the galaxy (douglas adams)
027 wuthering heights (emily bronte)
028 the lion, the witch, and the wardrobe (c.s. lewis)
029 east of eden (john steinbeck)
030 tuesdays with morrie (mitch alborn)
031 dune (frank herbert)
032 the notebook (nicholas sparks)
033 atlas shrugged (ayn rand)
034 1984 (george orwell)
035 the mists of avalon (marion zimmer bradley)
036 *the pillars of the earth (ken follett)
037 *the power of one (bryce courtenay)
038 i know this much is true (wally lamb)
039 the red tent (anita diamant)
040 the alchemist (paulo coelho)
041 the clan of the cave bear (jean m. auel)
042 *the kite runner (khaled hosseini)
043 confessions of a shopaholic (sophie kinsella)
044 the five people you meet in heaven (mitch alborn)
045 the bible
046 anna karenina (leo tolstoy)
047 the count of monte cristo (alexandre dumas)
048 angela's ashes (frank mccourt)
049 +the grapes of wrath (john steinbeck)
050 she's come undone (wally lamb)
051 the poisonwood bible (barbara kingsolver)
052 a tale of two cities (charles dickens)
053 ender's game (orson scott card)
054 +great expectations (charles dickens)
055 +the great gatsby (f. scott fitzgerald)
056 *the stone angel (margaret laurence)
057 +harry potter and the chamber of secrets (j.k. rowling)
058 the thorn birds (colleen mccullough)
059 the handmaid's tale (margaret atwood)
060 +the time traveller's wife (audrey niffenegger)
061 crime and punishment (fyodor dostoevsky)
062 the fountainhead (ayn rand)
063 war and peace (leo tolstoy)
064 interview with the vampire (anne rice)
065 *fifth business (robertson davies)
066 one hundred years of solitude (gabriel garcia marquez)
067 the sisterhood of the traveling pants (ann brashares)
068 catch-22 (joseph heller)
069 les miserables (victor hugo)
070 the little prince (antoine de saint-exupery)
071 bridget jones's diary (helen fielding)
072 love in the time of cholera (gabriel garcia marquez)
073 shogun (james clavell)
074 the english patient (michael ondaatje)
075 the secret garden (frances hodgson burnett)
076 *the summer tree (guy gavriel kay)
077 a tree grows in brooklyn (betty smith)
078 the world according to garp (john irving)
079 *the diviners (margaret laurence)
080 charlotte's web (e.b. white)
081 *not wanted on the voyage (timothy findley)
082 of mice and men (john steinbeck)
083 rebecca (daphne dumaurier)
084 wizard's first rule (terry goodkind)
085 +emma (jane austen)
086 watership down (richard adams)
087 brave new world (aldous huxley)
088 *the stone diaries (carol shields)
089 blindness (jose saramago)
090 *kane and abel (jeffrey archer)
091 in the skin of a lion (michael ondaatje)
092 lord of the flies (william golding)
093 the good earth (pearl s. buck)
094 the secret life of bees (sue monk kidd)
095 the bourne identity (robert ludlum)
096 the outsiders (s.e. hinton)
097 white oleander (janet fitch)
098 a woman of substance (barbara taylor bradford
099 the celestine prophecy (james redfield)
100 ulysses (james joyce)

also, a brief and painless personality test: what do you think, if you please, of this video?


i'm no good at waiting. since monday i've been ready at a moment's notice to have a conversation that, if it goes the right way, could tweak my life maybe as significantly as our move to new york did; with each day that goes by without it, i dream up a dozen new things to worry about, and new and probably bizarre things i could say when it does happen. i remind myself that the person i need to see isn't trying to torture me (our talk is probably her twenty-fifth priority, and that's as it should be), but i still want to pick up the phone: "i respect your schedule and all, but i'm wearing my lucky underwear today!" my boss suggested i hand-wash and wear them again, but i can't bring neurotic laundering and recycling into this. i'm settling down, or at least thinking about trying to settle down, and will be graceful when the call comes next week. if it doesn't come next week and my head explodes, please know that i did my best, and forward my underwear to david bowie.


From: 1
Sent: Fri, 16 Mar 2007 11:44:12 -0400
To: 2

I forgot my wedding ring today, for the first time ever. What does it all mean?

From: 2
Sent: Friday, March 16, 2007 11:48 AM
To: 1

i noticed that you forgot your wedding ring today, and was trying to decide if i should say something.

From: 1
Sent: Fri, 16 Mar 2007 11:55:42 -0400
To: 2

How could I get down with all the Queens honeys if I have my weddin' ring on?

From: 2
Sent: Friday, March 16, 2007 11:58 AM
To: 1

black leather strangler's gloves.

From: 1
Sent: Fri, 16 Mar 2007 12:00:25 -0400
To: 2

Please tell me that this did not actually worry you. If so, you need to do some self-affirmation.

From: 2
Sent: Friday, March 16, 2007 12:09 PM
To: 1

i put it on my thumb, smiled a wry smile, and tossed my hat in the air (where it froze).


i took a pass on envying and/or hating jonathan safran foer when everything is illuminated took over the universe in '02; sure, he's a writer and he's my age, but i don't want to write novels and i have no dog in the harvard/princeton fight (he went to princeton).* after cruising gawker for one of the first times ever today,** however, i've decided it's time:
But last night we heard this tidbit, from a source close to the writers, that made us feel the inadequacy of our lives and real estate holdings as sharply as we did when we first read of their acquisition of a $6.7 million Park Slope brownstone. Apparently, [Foer-wife] Nicole [Krauss] was recently asked why she and Jon found it necessary to move from their old house, a $3 millionish brownstone a block away. "Well," she said, "You know, we're planning to have at least two kids, and obviously we all need our own floor."
damn, people! i don't care about elijah wood starring in an adaptation of one of my haiku,*** but do you have to remind me that i'm blowing my crappy paycheck on rent and making a life in less than 400 square feet of space? i think about money these days, internets; i think about it a lot. on second thought, good for you shiny young safran foer krausses. i'll just hate gawker some more.

happier thoughts, via julia: cat art from giant robot (west side)'s free to a good home gallery show, where homeless beasts were available for adoption. why wasn't i in los angeles for this? several pieces are clearly portraits of chuck.

*nicole krauss went to the alma mater and wrote poems, on the other hand, so i'd perhaps have compared myself to her – but she's a bit older, thank goodness, and i just learned of her existence today, anyway.

**it's not the particular kind of snark i like, but i've been keeping abreast of their stuff on my extended family.

***he should do the haiku we wrote for wabes for orals a few weeks ago, though.


the monolithic television continues to suck away our interest in other media, but i avoided it just long enough to get arcade fire’s neon bible from the local record shop on saturday. it’s...the kind of stuff i’d expect to hear while shopping for fancy vintage sneakers. i don’t mean to sneer at the hipster blog buzz that’s surrounded it; in fact, i think it’s lovely that the band has been able to do so well without a gigantic traditional marketing campaign. i do think, though, that it’s best enjoyed while doing something else. several tracks from their first album grab you by the scruff of your neck and demand your attention: i don’t remember where i first heard “power out,” for instance, because i stood there drooling until it was over. scope is part of the difference, i think: where funeral is a quirky but well-detailed short story collection, neon bible is self-consciously Big and Ponderous and sacrifices immediacy for intelligibility. i think the kooky instruments are a bit over the top as well: i like the glockenspiel as much as the next glockenspiel-liker, but it’s harder to enjoy it when it’s competing with guitar and a choir and a harp and a hurdy-gurdy. it’s been said that arcade fire will incorporate anything they can get their hands on, and while that’s cute, it makes for messy music. finally, from an utter craft-dork perspective, the packaging bugged me. funeral has a single xeroxed insert styled after a memorial service program, which was simple and kind of brilliant. the old-school vinyl bible holograph on the cover of neon bible* is pleasing – very satisfying to run your fingernails across, which one rarely has the excuse to do with the surface of a record – but the rest of the box is kind of annoying. the two enclosed flip books are only printed on one side; why waste the opportunity to print two more sequences? and the hard vinyl sleeve for the CD itself felt like an afterthought. radiohead gets away with huge inserts because their design is so good; arcade fire had something with funeral’s illo style and lost it with neon bible’s too-generic photos. they need to re-earn the right to fripperies, if that makes any sense.

*this is the special edition, admittedly; i’d have considered getting the regular one instead, but i have yet to find it in a store.


the office

i took a stab at translating my name into chinese. phoenetically, it becomes to labor at normal human relationships - oh, dear.

i’ve been living at my desk. how was your week?


top of the march to you, internets! it's been a notable week for my near and dear - wabes owned her grad school oral exam yesterday, and both she and my sister have birthdays today* - but i have been puttering away with largely uninteresting things. of the dozens and dozens of reinterviews i had to call in, only one was memorable: on wednesday i chatted with a really helpful source about a story on oral health. i asked at the end of the call if he had any questions for me; he told me i sounded like a very nice person, then asked me if i watched conan or saturday night live. sure, i said, i watch both. it turned out that he was robert smigel's dad ("have you seen 'the ambigously gay duo? my son does that!'). he said he's heard that college students all over the country quote triumph the insult comic dog; yeah, i said, that's probably true. the obvious pride in the guy's voice when he talked about his son was great, especially because it was so random in the context of our discussion. i was in a fine mood for the rest of the day - proud dads are adorable.

to pass the time this boring week, i've been playing iTunes iChing (like using your song list as a tarot deck - ask a question, hit "shuffle," and divine your answers with the first five songs that pop up). what the music had to say about politics and my feet:

Q. will al gore enter the '08 presidential race?

("good luck mr. gorsky" - sleeper)
hmm. "best of luck mr gorsky / all the world's waiting for you" - not all the world, but he's picked up a lot of fans in the last few years. word on the street is that a decent number of republicans are going sweet on him, even. the line is sarcastic - the rest of the song is about pedaling into dementia on an old bike, which i certainly would have bought during the mangy beard phase - but i remain hopeful.

("black star" - radiohead)
if this is a comment on obama, iTunes, it's not a very tasteful one. i'd rather blame nader again if gore joined up and tanked; i just dislike him that much.

("a wolf at the door" - radiohead)
more depressing lyrics i can get behind! "Someone else is gonna come and clean it up / Born and raised for the job / Someone else always does always pick it up" implies that junior could save us from dubya's mess, but one has to slog through a lot of sarcasm on thom yorke's part to get to that.

("no easy street" - psychedelic furs)
"you got no reaction / knocking on my door / you had no attraction / for anyone at all" - so maybe the exploratory committee is discouraged early. why would that be?

("jackie, dressed in cobras" - new pornographers)
hillary's people will run them out of town, you say? those fuckers! conclusion: no gore for us.

Q. were my new red shoes a wise purchase?

("young and insane" - the magnetic fields)
okay, so red might not match with much. still, that's harsh.

("her grandmother's gift" - yo la tengo)
my grandmother wears stilettos, thank you very much: mary janes aren't always old-fashioned, you know.

("i got you (at the end of the century)" - wilco)
at the end of the going-out-of-business sale, anyway. $25 for new shoes is not bad.

("everything changes" - matthew sweet)
it's true: it was time for me to stop wearing head-to-toe black.

("support system" - liz phair)
i think this is iTunes's way of telling me that i should stand firm when joe mocks my shoes. i will, iTunes!

*i have no problem with my own age, but i refuse to accept the fact that my little sister is turning 26; that makes me feel ancient. i won't be one of those people who says they're 39 for a decade, but i'll wish emily a happy 21st at least a few more times. until i have better coping mechanisms in place.