Monday, December 29, 2008


After that last post I felt like crying, which I don't want to start the day off doing, so I watched this. You should watch it too.

It doesn't fix anything, but it's hard not to giggle and make cutesy noises. And it's impossible to despair and also make cutesy noises. Promise.

Signs of the Times

I wish I couldn't read:

WATERVILLE -- Rape Crisis Assistance and Prevention, a nonprofit agency that has provided services to victims of sexual violence in northern Kennebec and Somerset counties for 25 years, will close its doors for good on Wednesday.

In explaining the closure, agency officials cited insurmountable financial woes during the national economic recession.

The center, headquartered at 179 Main St., employs five paid employees, which includes three full-time and two part-time workers. It has an annual budget just under $200,000 and served more than 225 clients this past year...

Sunday, December 28, 2008

2008 Reading

In the spirit of all of the end-of-year lists that are now thicker than cigarette butts under melting snowbanks (which is to say, unavoidable and a little nauseating), I present to you the List of Books that Jen Read in 2008.

It is not a comprehensive list, as it only includes new books that I actually completed. So, I didn't include any of the books I revisited, and I didn't include any new books I didn't finish. There were more of those this year than ever before. I think having an MFA has made me a bit of a book snob.

Before we get to the actual list, I did a little analysis this year of my genre reading habits:

Sorry for the blurry screen shot. I'm still using the 2003 version of Office and it hates me. Hates. me.

Anyway, so what the data tells me is that I started out 2008 reading a lot of fiction, and ended it reading a lot of crime. I also think it's interesting that my reading rate was relatively low during the months that I was unemployed (July-September, when I was spending my time divided between Six Feet Under and the Winter Cache Garden) and highest during the month I started working again (October, when I was practicing being an overacheiver).

OK, so here's the list. The first ten are my favorites, in no particular order and for no particular reason except that they continue to live in my head for one reason or another. These are the books I'm still thinking about, and most likely I wrote down a couple of quotes from them in my handy-dandy Moleskine.

The rest after that are in roughly the order I read them.

Author Title
Eggers, Dave What Is the What
Brockmeier, Kevin The Brief History of the Dead
Rak, Mary Kidder A Cowman's Wife
Lowenthal, Michael Charity Girl
Larson, Erik Devil in the White City
Whitman, Walt Leaves of Grass
Kyle, Aryn The God of Animals
Thomas, Will Some Danger Involved
Millhauser, Steven Dangerous Laughter
Barlow, Toby Sharp Teeth

King, Stephen Lisey's Story
Updike, John Terrorist
McGuire, Gregory What the Dickens
Shawn, Allen Wish I Could Be There: Notes from a Phobic Life
Lehane, Dennis Coronado
Beller, Thomas The Sleep-Over Artist
Hardinge, Frances Fly By Night
Long, David The Inhabited World
Goodman, Allegra Intuition
McKewan, Ian On Chesil Beach
Halberstam, David Firehouse
Shah, Saira The Storyteller's Daughter
Winterson, Jeannette Tanglewreck
McCarthy, Cormac No Country for Old Men
Ondaatje, Michael Devisadero
Hegi, Ursula The Vision of Emma Blau
Litman, Ellen The Last Chicken in America
Bachman, Richard Blaze
Hawthorne, Nathaniel The Scarlet Letter
Grant, Richard Another Green World
DeLillo, Don Falling Man
King, Stephen Best American Short Stories of 2007
Clark, Joshua Heart Like Water: Surviving Katrina and Life in its Disaster Zone
Connolly, John The Book of Lost Things
Chabon, Michael Gentlemen of the Road
Breslin, Jimmy The Good Rat
Burroughs, Augustin Running With Scissors
Roth, Philip Everyman
Gaiman, Neil Fragile Things
Burroughs, Augustin Dry
Montiel, Dito A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints
Burroughs, Augustin Magical Thinking
Boylan, Jennifer Finney I'm Looking Through You
Dully, Howard My Lobotomy
Russo, Richard Bridge of Sighs
Stowe, Harriet Beeche Uncle Tom's Cabin
Henderson, Bill Pushcart Prize XXXI: Best of the Small Presses
Lightman, Alan Ghost
Griffith, Nicola Always
Bloom, Elizabeth The Mortician's Daughter
Erdrich, Louise The Plague of Doves
Creech, Sharon Walk Two Moons
Busch, Frederick Girls
Wolf, Naomi Promiscuities
Flynn, Gillian Sharp Objects
Mosley, Walter Cinnamon Kiss
Curtis, Chistopher Paul Bud, Not Buddy
Kirino, Natsuo Grotesque
Steinem, Gloria Revolution from Within
Dillard, Annie The Maytrees
Smith, Zadie White Teeth
Sinha, Indra Animal's People
Horvath, Patty The Canning Season
Smith, Ali Boy Meets Girl
Meyer, Stephenie Twilight
Meyer, Stephenie New Moon
Marr, Melissa Wicked Lovely
Meyer, Stephenie Eclipse
Thomas, Will To Kingdom Come
Montgomery, Sy The Good Good Pig
Cabot, Meg All-American Girl
Sittenfeld, Curtis Man of my Dreams
Thomas, Will The Limehouse Text
Silber, Joan The Size of the World
Farmer, Nancy Sea of Trolls
Westerfeld, Scott Pretties
Westerfeld, Scott Uglies
Westerfeld, Scott Specials
Gerritsen, Tess The Bone Garden
Palahniuk, Chuck Snuff
Thomas, Will The Hellfire Conspiracy
Welch, Irvine If You Liked School You'll Love Work
Oates, Joyce Carol Blonde
Oates, Joyce Carol Because it is Bitter, and Because it is My Heart
Mosley, Walter Fortunate Son
Skye, Obert Leven Thumps and the Gateway to Foo
Gerritsen, Tess Gravity
Gerritsen, Tess Bloodstream
O'Neill, Heather Lullabies for Little Criminals
Gilbert, Elizabeth Stern Men
Levine, Gail Carson Fairest
Lowry, Lois The Giver
McCrery, Nigel Still Waters
Mosley, Walter Diablerie
Samarasan, Preeta Evening is the Whole Day
Kimmel, Haven Iodine
Junger, Sebastian A Death in Belmont
Cornwall, Patricia Jack the Ripper: Case Closed
Meyer, Stephenie The Host
Sedaris, David When You Are Engulfed in Flames

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Tweets for Today

  • 14:29 :I'd like to know when Excel is going to stop thinking it's smarter than me. Quicker, yes; smarter, never. #
Automatically shipped by LoudTwitter


Finally I can stop having bad self-esteem about my cell phone. Because iPhone users aren't any better than me. How do I know?

The number one application for the iPhone is an app called iFart.

Heh. Heh-heh. I said "fart." Heh heh.

(via mashable)

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Street Smarts

Dear Portland,

I would like to offer some tips for navigating in our beautiful, snow-narrowed streets:

1. Hang up your cell phone. Especially if you are
-parking in a spot that is covered with six inches of sandy slush
-driving on a road narrowed to one lane
-any combination of the above
2. Stop honking. It will not get you there any faster, and there's probably a good reason why the person ahead of you is driving slower--they're probably avoiding a pedestrian. Which brings me to...
3. If you are walking, try to be on the sidewalk. Sometimes there's no room to drive around you. If you can't,
4. Wear clothing that is not white or black, because you blend in with the snowbanks and are likely to become one of them.
5. On a street that is down to one lane, yield to the driver coming downhill towards you, because chances are pretty good that they are going to have a hard time stopping. Even if you're driving a Lexus. And even if you're really in a hurry.



Last year's crunchy stress-relieving snack: Lundberg Brown Rice Lightly Salted Rice Cakes.

This year's crunchy stress-relieving snack: Tortilla chips and salsa. And I've moved up to "medium" salsa which, for a Maine girl like me, is kind of a big step. I wonder if there's some kind of significance to the spicing up of my snack choices? Freud would probably say so.

For my birthday yesterday I bought myself some shrimp cocktail and ate it all. Then I had chips and salsa, some adult soynog, and then mashed potatoes and a giant steak for dinner. Plus I bought myself a couple of books and received a very nice ginger-beer-and-little-lads-popcorn basket. But most importantly, I finished my holiday shopping. A lovely day.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Tweets for Today

  • 17:19 @bombsaway00 beary cute! #
  • 06:58 -i get all stressed out when facebook is down. it's sad... just sad. #
Automatically shipped by LoudTwitter

Monday, December 08, 2008

More Holiday Anxiety

While having a tween daughter isn't all fun and games (ha. ha.), there is at least one reason to be grateful: she's (mostly) beyond the age of toys. Her holiday wish list this year is technology, clothes, books, stuffed animals, and music.

This morning's Press Herald article made me glad I'm not buying a ton of toys this year:
One of every three toys in a study of 1,500 products have been found to contain "medium" or "high" levels of lead, arsenic, mercury, cadmium, bromine and chlorine, the nonprofit Ecology Center reported last week in its Healthy Toys Guide.
A sampling of items that the Ecology Center says are dangerous are Disney's Hannah Montana two-heart necklace; the educational learning-game system by LeapFrog, Leapster2/Wall.E; Thistle Blocks, flexible nubby pads that connect together for construction; Little Tikes Bath Letters & Numbers; and Circo brand shoes.

Of course, the toys I did buy her for the past decade were probably full of toxins and poison, but at least I didn't know about it. I think lots of parents are going back to plain wooden toys and rag dolls. Couldn't we just ban plastic? Couldn't we?

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

The Ones to Watch

The Bangor Daily News is reporting today the formation of a clergy group, Maine Marriage Alliance, to oppose gay marriage.

“It is so important for us to recognize this is not a challenge to a social institution,” [Rev. Bob Emrich of Plymouth] said. “It’s a challenge to the righteousness of God. … This is not one of the things we may have to face, we are facing it.”

They were careful to say that their opposition would be "graceful,"--meaning, I think, maybe less hate than other groups have shown... but I'm not sure that there is a way to be "graceful" when you believe you have the "righteousness of God" behind you, and believe that those who oppose you are going against "biblical truth."

The article also did point out that 120 faith leaders joined the Religious Coalition for the Freedom to Marry in Maine.

I have complicated feelings about this marriage thing. I don't actually support gay marriage, because I think there are more pressing issues (queer youth suicide rate, hate crimes, the incredible substance abuse rate in the LGBT community, etc. etc. etc.), but I don't oppose it either. People should be able to marry the people they love--I just don't think this should be the #1 issue in our community right now.

Anyway, I'll be keeping an eye on this Maine Marriage Alliance... you can too (if you have the stomach for it) at


Blog Archive