woman who reads too much

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June 18th, 2015

11:50 am: woman. american. hero.
Harriet Tubman.

https://thenew10.treasury.gov/

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May 25th, 2015

11:05 am: a thing that happened.
Someone tapped me on the shoulder and said, "Susan." I said "yes" and turned around and found myself face to face with The Person at Wiscon I Don't Want To Interact With. I thought I had girded my loins for this. I was going to continue to refuse to interact with them (yes, even when you lean out of your chair at a 45-degree angle and wave your whole arm and spread hand in front of me, I cannot see you, is it not amazing) unless they forced me to, and then I would say clearly and firmly, "I still don't want to interact with you," and not care if I got judged to be a bitch.

I think if I had seen them coming, I would have been able to pull up my big-girl loin girds and do that. But they came from behind, and suddenly there we were, less than a foot apart and in conversation already.

Ten years of refusing to interact down the drain, because now they can say, "How was I supposed to know you didn't want to interact? We had a perfectly fine conversation at Wiscon 39!"

Swearword.

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12:16 am: Storytelling party did not work. A few people came, and it was quiet and pleasant, but it was not a storytelling party. I took all the food down to the lobby, where everyone was.

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May 23rd, 2015

10:43 pm: to cheer up
MCR still works for me.

My Chemical Romance - Planetary (GO!)

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12:04 pm: nnnrrrgh
People are so hard.

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May 9th, 2015

05:27 pm: Paris!
Nixie's senior thesis was accepted as a poster to a conference on cognition in Paris! *snoopy dance* Reed gave her a travel grant for $1500, which almost covers the plane ticket. She wants to travel with her friend Chris, whose thesis also got accepted, but he wants to come back on July 11, because he's taking the MCAT on the 17th, and she'd like to stay a few days longer and tourist. She doesn't speak any French. She has a summer job studying memory. But Paris!

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May 4th, 2015

07:16 pm: storytelling party
I am responsible for hosting a storytelling party! I am a little bit terrified! It's on the second floor, so I can't serve alcohol. The good side is that I don't have to find a co-host who is willing to take turns keeping an eye on the alcohol. The bad side is... how am I going to lure people in? Nice foods, I suppose. But how do you decide how much foods to have, when you don't have any idea how many people might come?

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April 28th, 2015

04:33 pm: boundary scripts

Scorpio Horoscope for week of February 5, 2015
In 1837, Victoria became Queen of England following the death of her uncle, King William IV. She was 18 years old. Her first royal act was to move her bed out of the room she had long shared with her meddling, overbearing mother. I propose that you use this as one of your guiding metaphors in the immediate future. Even if your parents are saints, and even if you haven't lived with them for years, I suspect you would benefit by upgrading your independence from their influence. Are you still a bit inhibited by the nagging of their voices in your head? Does your desire to avoid hurting them thwart you from rising to a higher level of authority and authenticity? Be a good-natured rebel.
I am really irritable with my mom right now. She's coming to Portland for Nixie's graduation, and so are my brother and sister and their kids and partners. I haven't seen any of them for years. My mom pointed out that Chris's kids are in seventh and fourth grades, and asked how long ago I had seen them, and said, "Oh, Susan." (Say "You're such a disappointment." That's the intonation my mom used to say, "Oh, Susan.") Now, it is true that I am, as I always have been, the shy one, the one who is always too tired, the one who would rather not go. (It is also true that the last time I went to Seattle I did not visit my brother (but my mom doesn't know that.)) But since Chris got married, I have taken my children to Seattle to visit his family three times. He has come to Colorado to visit my family zero times. I think she is reproaching the wrong person here.

I snapped at her for reproaching me. She said it wasn't a reproach. I said, "I think you meant that I should have gone there more often." She said she didn't say "should".

Then she said, "Don't get upset." Which. What!? What purpose does that serve? What purpose does a person saying that think that it serves? Is it possible to believe that it will help the other person not get upset?

I don't know, because I don't say things like that, but I can't see it as anything other than a dominance gesture. It presupposes that I, the speaker, am calm and rational, while you, the spoken-to, are irrational and emotional and upset. It presupposes that I am entitled to tell you what to feel. And it shifts the ground, so that the problem is no longer whatever I did; the problem is that you got upset.

I would prefer not to get upset. I prefer to remain calm, self-contained, arm's-length, unrufflable; to stay inside my boundaries and keep out of my mom's; specifically, not to react to what I think she's thinking. That's none of my business. What she says to me might be my business, but I'm trying to figure out how not to let it get under my skin.

But I think my mom wants us to be closer. I think she wants us to be affectionately close, or, failing that, to fake it; but I think she would rather ruffle me than let me stay at arm's length.

I'm working on scripts for when we are in person:

No hugging.

Because I don't want to.

"Because I don't want to" doesn't need a reason. It is the reason.

Because every time you touch me I flash back to that moment when I was twenty and you grabbed me between my breasts and stuck your thumb under my bra band and snapped it in order to prove that I wasn't wearing a bra, so I want you to keep your creepy creepy hands off my body -- I mean, I really think you'd rather I didn't answer that question.

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April 19th, 2015

05:34 pm: We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves question
Bookgroup discussion of We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves today. Reread reminded me of a spoilery question: it"s about Peter"s scarCollapse )

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April 11th, 2015

01:24 pm: fuck yeah spring
you guys the little dog just came into the house with an apple blossom petal stuck to his nose. he could not get it off.

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April 7th, 2015

10:14 pm: Cell phone video can bring us closer to justice, even when an on-duty police officer murders an unarmed black man who is running away.

http://www.msnbc.com/rachel-maddow/watch/south-carolina-officer-charged-with-murder-424611395952

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March 31st, 2015

11:27 pm: phenology
Four baby great horned owls have fallen out of their nests and made it to the raptor center so far this year. Three of them fell with their nest, which was in a hollow cottonwood branch. Two of those have been returned, in a basket, to where the nest used to be. The parents, who had kept bringing food to the empty downed branch, have been seen visiting the basket, so they are probably fine. The third has a broken leg, so will be staying with us for a while.

The fourth came in separately, covered with blood, but no visible wounds. There was blood in the cage the next day and the day after, but not today, and its mouth is not as pale as it was.

Avian flu has been discovered less than 150 miles from us, as the Canada goose flies, so every week we get new instructions on how not to transmit disease. New vocab word: fomite, an inanimate object (as a dish, toy, book, doorknob, or clothing) that may be contaminated with infectious organisms and serve in their transmission [the much maligned toilet seat is a remarkably ineffective fomite—M. F. Rein]

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March 28th, 2015

11:14 pm: dog fud
I have a big dog, who has been eating Wellness Core, and a little dog, who has been eating Newmans Own, which, I learn from that review site, is not actually a very good dog food. I get both dog foods delivered by Amazon Subscribe&Save. Last month Amazon couldn't get any Newmans Own, so I have been mixing some Wellness Core into the little dog's food to stretch it out. This month, Amazon does have Newmans again, but at $35.11 for the 12.5-lb bag that they charged me $20.32 for, last shipment.

I've been feeding them different foods because I assumed that the little dog, who is really very little, needed a smaller kibble size. But he is eating the big dog's kibble just fine. Is there any reason not to feed them both the same (better quality) food?

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March 20th, 2015

01:13 pm: phenology
I just saw an ice-cream truck go by. "Little girl running and the little boy too/Got their money tucked up in their hand..." Well, no, they don't, it is 1:13 p.m. on Friday, in March, they are all still in school.

I got some old brick from my friend who is moving away, when she was cleaning up her place to sell it. I started making a path to the alley, so I can take the trash out even when it's muddy. I put some down in herringbone pattern and some in running bond, to get an idea of what it would look like. Today I started moving it closer to where I want it, and discovered that the earthworms were already at work, making their paths, digging tunnels and gluing the soil to the undersides of the bricks.

Planted potatoes yesterday and peas today. How does your garden grow?

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March 6th, 2015

03:25 pm: kindle vs nook
In specific, the kindle paperwhite vs the nook glowlight. This pretty much says kindle wins: http://www.trustedreviews.com/opinions/kindle-paperwhite-vs-nook-glowlight Would you agree? Which of the two would you rather receive as a gift?

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February 23rd, 2015

06:00 pm: a bit much
My hard drive died. So far it has been an opportunity to resolve to be better at backups, and to dust all the areas in and around the desk that are normally inaccessible (to me, not to mice), and to regret having given up Benadryl, and to discover that a big chunk of insulation has been chewed off the cable that connects the monitor to the computer, and to be grateful that I didn't discover that when the power was turned on. And to resolve to set mousetraps, if I can find places where the mice can get at them but Newt can't. And to notice all the other things that need cleaning that normally don't get cleaned because normally I have better things to do because normally I have a computer. And to think about trying to recall or retrieve all the passwords that I normally let my browser remember for me. And to mourn over everything else that I depend on my browser to remember for me, like, which of all the episodes of Would I Lie To You? that are available on youtube have I already watched?

Does watching another episode of Would I Lie To You? actually make me happier than sorting out all the crap that has accumulated in that corner of the living room? I don't know, but I know which one I choose when I have the choice.


Today I got a call from the surgeon's office, to say, still not cancer, but the medial margin of the chunk she took out is positive for papilloma, so I should get that re-excised. She'll call me tomorrow morning if I have any questions.

My sleep cycle has been really off since the surgery. Much more likely to be awake at 2 a.m. than 2 p.m. Mornings go: wake up, let the dogs out, pee, make a cup of tea, go back to bed. Tomorrow I will try to stay awake long enough to drink the tea.

I would like to ask the surgeon, "If this were your mother, would you advise her to have it re-excised? Seriously? You're a surgeon, you must know that every time you put someone under you increase their risk of developing dementia. How do you calculate the risk-benefit tradeoff? When you factor in that it has already cost your mother a large amount of money and considerable suffering, and that the reason for surgery was that there's this thing that shows up on mammograms that isn't cancer but might be hiding some cancer, you would seriously tell your mother, that didn't work so do it again? Seriously?"

It is not likely that I will be able to say any of that past the first question mark but I would like to.

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February 17th, 2015

08:03 pm: Mungo tells me Montreal was 19 degrees colder than the North Pole today. Celsius degrees. This has not changed his plan to spend the weekend at a friend's family's cabin and learn to snowmobile.

I spent the afternoon moving rocks from the truck all over the yard. Medium-sized rocks: I carried them mostly three at a time, and made 33 trips. Upcoming surgery, my brain said, probably should get those rocks out of the way now, since you won't be able to carry things for a little while after. You know what else upcoming surgery means? No ibuprofen. My back is really angry with my brain right now.

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February 12th, 2015

11:03 pm: good things
1. Gabapentin! My big dog is moving so much better I think I can start walking him again.

2. Not good in itself but... it's good that we now know? Common anticholinergic drugs like Benadryl linked to increased dementia risk. I've decided to stop taking Benadryl, but not whether to stop taking Zyrtec, and, more important, whether to advise my son, who has many more years of either allergy-suffering or potential-dementia-developing, to stop taking Zyrtec. I also haven't decided whether to stop giving Aiko Benadryl. Big dogs don't usually live long enough to develop dementia, but on the other hand the canine dosage is a lot higher than for humans: a 75-pound dog gets three 25-mg pills up to three times a day. He is miserably itchy when he doesn't get it.

3. My daughter called to chat for a few minutes, because she needed a break but was too busy to actually take a break. Listing all the work she had to do, she casually mentioned preparing a poster to take to a conference. Two conferences, actually: one in D.C. this month, and one in San Francisco next month. "That's kind of impressive, for an undergraduate, isn't it?" I asked. "Is it more common at Reed?" [Because Reed doesn't have grad schools.]
"I know a lot of people who do it," said my daughter, whose aversion to bragging is actually painful. But that is kind of impressive, isn't it?

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February 6th, 2015

11:55 pm: #notmybestdecision
I just spent eight hours standing in line for Neil Gaiman's autograph.

+ Neal (my husband) did find my copy of The Day I Swapped My Dad For Two Goldfish.
+ Neil (the writer) told me first editions tend to go for a lot of money on Ebay. But mine is now personalized to Nixie, who isn't giving it up.
+ Neil Gaiman fans are so kind to each other!
+ Neil Gaiman is so lovely.
+ Neal and R brought me dinner in line.


In other news, I met my surgeon, who says I have a papilloma, which is not cancer but might turn into cancer, so I should let her take it out. Surgery scheduled for the 18th.

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02:10 am: talk to me about clinical trials
My dog Aiko has arthritis in one elbow. He is seven. He has done alright for several years on Rimadyl, but he just started limping really badly, I think after chasing a raccoon out of the yard. His vet prescribed gabapentin, which has helped a lot. But while I was searching the web I found:
FREE CLINICAL TRIAL! Canine Osteoarthritis (Fort Collins)
[A local reputable] Animal Hospital is conducting a clinical drug trial on dogs with osteoarthritis. Dogs must be 1 year or older and have osteoarthritis of at least one joint. All breeds, sexes, and sizes accepted. Qualified candidates will receive exams, lab work, medication, and x-rays at NO CHARGE and will receive a hospital credit of $300 for completion of this 112 day study to use toward any additional service. For more information and to see if your pet qualifies, please call us at


Could this be a good thing for Aiko? I care a little about advancing medical science for all dogs, but not nearly as much as I care about Aiko.

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01:48 am: reading wednesday
• What are you reading?

Cambridge, by Susanna Kaysen. I've had this checked out from the library for the maximum number of renewals. It kept getting bumped by more interesting-looking or urgent books. But now I remember why I took it from the New Books shelf all those weeks ago: I love the voice. It reminds me of the beginning of The Fountain Overflows: the narrator is an adult, of course, but she's doing a really good job of telling us what her seven-year-old self understood as flying, as falling in love with a statue, as playing detective in another family's house.

• What did you recently finish reading?

Stitches, by Anne Lamott. I loved Operating Instructions so much. I still think of it when I pull a tiniest bandaid out of the bandaid box. Stitches is about how to cope with the fact that life is suffering, and how to support someone else who is coping with that, which I need now as much as I needed Operating Instructions then, but the balance has tilted away from vivid details and memorable stories towards general conclusions.

• What do you think you’ll read next?

I really have to read The Golem and the Jinni now. Book group next week.

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February 4th, 2015

08:15 pm: the most boring moral dilemma you've heard all year
So Neil Gaiman is coming to my local bookstore Friday. (The bookstore won the visit by winning a competition to sell the most copies of The Ocean at the End of the Lane in December. It's a tiny bookstore. I have no idea how it managed to win.) I have purchased a copy of Trigger Warning to get into the signing line. I asked Nixie, who is the real fan, which other book she would like me to get signed if we're allowed to bring in other books. She said The Day I Swapped My Dad For Two Goldfish, which we all loved when she and Mungo were little.

I can't find our copy. R, Neal's girlfriend, offered to swap her copy for mine; that is, she would give me hers, and I would take it to get signed, and whenever mine turned up she would take it in exchange.

Nixie's relationship with R is kind of fraught, I think mostly because Neal handled introductions badly. Nixie and I talked about it over winter break, and I think things improved, but now R is moving in with Neal, so...

...yeah, never mind, I don't need to ask. This is a bad idea.

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January 27th, 2015

02:49 am: biopsy results
Abnormal cells that are not cancer, but still get me a date with a surgeon.

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January 23rd, 2015

10:41 pm: wednesday reading
Turned out I needed a biopsy. Microcalcifications. Should hear the results Tuesday.

• What are you reading?

The Good Lord Bird, by James McBride. I like the voice, which makes me think of Mark Twain. John Brown is preposterous enough to be a Mark Twain character, with his freakish good luck and his inexplicable charisma, and I find it very easy to believe that when he mistakes Henry, the narrator, for a girl, he bulldozes over every attempt to correct him until everyone, including Henry, falls into line. But of course John Brown isn't a Mark Twain character: when he decides that a family he came across at random are pro-slavery, he is equally impervious to correction, and he murders them.

I would be happier reading this book if someone could assure me that Henry, who is the only child, the only Black person, and the only person in women's clothing living with John Brown's army, doesn't get raped.

• What did you recently finish reading?

Yes Please, by Amy Poehler. It's no Bossypants, but I enjoyed it. The bit I liked best was about needing to apologize.
I was a shitty version of myself. The shadow side. I made a lot of noise because I felt bad about hurting someone's feelings and I didn't want to get quiet and really figure out how I felt. I was afraid to lie down and put my hand on my heart and hear the tiny voice whispering inside me saying that I had screwed up.

Your brain is not your friend when you need to apologize. Your brain and your ego and your intellect all remind you of the "facts." I kept telling myself that the only thing I was guilty of was not paying attention. Sure, I was being self-absorbed and insensitive, but who isn't? Sure, I should have been more on top of what I was saying, but wasn't that somebody else's job? Didn't everyone know how busy I was? Didn't Marianne and Chris take into consideration what a NICE PERSON I was? My brain shouted these things loud and clear. My heart quietly told a different story.
I like how accurately she voices the truths that she wishes were not true, in her apology letter from the head, and how unashamedly sincere she is about the part that she wishes were the whole truth, in her apology letter from the heart.

I like this even though it is not at all how I conceptualize my parts. When I discover that I owe someone an apology, the hurt of being criticized, the anger at being hurt, the shame of being in the wrong, those are all heart things. They are feelings, things I perceive directly. Looking at the situation from the other person's point of view; figuring out the difference between what she could see (my actions) and what she could not (my intentions, my history of being a NICE PERSON); trying to imagine what she felt about it; these are all head things, things I get by thinking. I don't perceive them directly. I don't perceive them at all unless I seek them out. Still, this is a useful step in my lifelong quest to learn how to apologize and how to forgive.

• What do you think you’ll read next?

The Golem and the Jinni, by Helene Wecker.

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January 20th, 2015

06:11 pm: mood contagion
I just saw Birdman, at my local indie theater. It's a really good movie! The ending was a little disappointing but I can't think of a better one, so okay. However. In the middle, the screen went black. I think there were maybe fifteen seconds where everyone was wondering, is this part of the movie? and then five minutes where everyone was hoping someone else would go tell the staff about it, someone who was seated closer to the exit, or who didn't have to climb over other people to get out, because after the movie went black it was really dark in there! But nobody else did, so I did. When I left, I was actually expecting that they would offer us free passes to make up for it, but no. The staff were all tucked away out of sight. Not that I would have asked for a pass if any of them had been visible. I am a coward.

The contagion part is: tomorrow I have an appointment for a followup mammogram. Before the movie thing I felt confident that everything would probably be fine and now I don't. Minds are weird.

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January 14th, 2015

09:45 pm: wednesday reading
• What are you reading?

In Real Life, by Cory Doctorow and Jen Wang.

• What did you recently finish reading?

A Natural History of Dragons, by Marie Brennan. Enjoyable. Not enough dragon. I like the main character, especially her passion for dragons. The things I don't like about her, like her tendency to treat the people around her as means to her own ends instead of ends in themselves, are believable for her age (nineteen) and status (gentlewoman in not-Victorian England). I liked her marriage: it started as a marriage of convenience, really, on her part (she wanted access to his library!) but grew into friendship and partnership. I wish we had gotten to see more of that, too.

• What do you think you’ll read next?

Next book club books are The Good Lord Bird and The Golem and the Jinni, but I also have Stranger, by Sherwood Smith and Rachel Manija Brown, out from the library.

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January 7th, 2015

11:00 pm: wednesday reading
• What are you reading?

The ghost in the electric blue suit, by Graham Joyce. The thing I love about Graham Joyce is that I can't tell before I open the book whether what looks like magic will turn out to be magic, not magic, or undecidable. He has written all three. I think this one will be magic, but the young man protagonist is facing temptations/dangers in sex, in politics, in education, in family ties, and in a past tragic event that he can't remember, as well as the one a surly caretaker warns him about: "Don't lend 'em any money. Don't buy 'em a beer. You can lend 'em a cigarette. A cigarette is all right. One cigarette. Not two. One cigarette is all right. Don't tell 'em nothing they don't need to know. Nothing. Be all right."

• What did you recently finish reading?

The Countess Conspiracy, by Courtney Milan. Enjoyable.

• What do you think you’ll read next?

A Natural History of Dragons, by Marie Brennan, for SF book group.

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January 3rd, 2015

07:11 pm: one to hold the bird, one to operate the dremel
Today I got to watch someone cope (that is, trim) the beak and talons of a barn owl. This bird has a persistent wing droop that has kept it at the raptor center for a while. It doesn't cooperate with being restrained, but it doesn't fight much either. (There's a tiny screech owl that's been there for a couple weeks, and both times I've seen it handled, I've seen it injure its handler. There's a reason up-to-date tetanus shots are the first requirement of a volunteer.)

The bird's beak and talons grow like fingernails, and if the bird doesn't wear them down, or wears them down unevenly, they need to be trimmed. To restrain a bird, you cover it with a drape, like a cut-open pillowcase. If they can't see, they can't fly, and also they are less likely (though not unlikely) to try to attack you. So one person holds the bird, with the bird's back to his chest and his hands around the bird's legs, and the other uses a Dremel to grind the beak and the talons closer to their ideal shape. This is not to blunt them, mind you; we don't want to take away the bird's weapons, we want to make them less likely to crack.

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January 2nd, 2015

11:40 am: books for boys
While he was still in Montreal Mungo wrote
I've read all the books I brought with me & half of my neighbors. When I come back to Colorado can I borrow some to take with me? (What I'm really asking is if you'll make me a pile that you think I might like)
I know it's a pain because you don't know what type of books I like & i apologize, I just don't really know what things I like in a book either as silly as it sounds


I do wonder where he is finding all this time to read, but let's not talk about that. In the twelve days he's been home he read We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves, all of Digger, Dodger, and now he's reading Swimming To Antarctica, which was one of his dad's suggestions.

When he was a little boy, I was very good at picking out books for him; the geeky little boy in me had excellent taste. It's been a lot harder since he started high school.

My suggestions so far:

The Magicians, by Lev Grossman
Leviathan Wakes, by James S.A. Corey
Fool on the Hill, by Matt Ruff
Moo, by Jane Smiley
All Over Creation, by Ruth Ozeki
The Diamond Age, by Neal Stephenson
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, by Sherman Alexie
House of Leaves, by Mark Z. Danielewski
Good Omens, by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman
Foreigner, by C. J. Cherryh
whatever I've got on the shelves by Kurt Vonnegut

I keep being tempted to put Oglaf on the stack, opening it, and realizing that no that would be weird.

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December 26th, 2014

04:11 pm: hollow tree snowed-in day
I am thoroughly and happily snowed in. I still have electricity, so I am watching every episode of Would I Lie To You in which Miranda Hart appears. Miranda Hart is an excellent liar, you guys.

I was considering going to the library to return Raising Stony Mayhall, which is due today. It is 2.2 miles there and back, perfect length for a dogwalk when you're not wading through snow the whole way. I have some tall snow boots that used to be my daughter's, that are all right for taking out the trash, but I don't think I want to walk two miles in them.

I used to love going to the library with my dog. I'd clip him to an unoccupied bench, or a bike rack if all the benches were full, and give him a Greenie. I worried a little about someone bothering him while I was inside, because he is so very pretty and shy, but it is all self-serve now and doesn't take more than a minute to drop off returns, pick up holds, and check them out on one of the many machines. Then one day a security guard told me that that was not allowed. He said that Fort Collins police consider an unattended dog to be a loose dog, even if it is leashed to something. I don't think a police officer or Animal Control is likely to show up in the minute that I am inside, but the prospect of being hassled by security is unpleasant enough that I don't do that very often anymore.

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