Friday, February 24, 2006

On my nightstand

Books I've just finished but don't have much to say about:

8. The Cat Who Dropped a Bombshell by Lillian Jackson Braun

The only mystery here is why there isn't any mystery in this book. Very obvious and formulaic, but I CAN'T STOP READING THEM. Send help.

9. Whom the Gods Love by Kate Ross

I liked this one even more than I liked the first one. Once again, I thought I knew where it was going, and was mostly wrong. But I don't really mind. Very fun, even if it did get a little spoiled by a very spoilery blurb on the back cover.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Who Needs Sleep?

I couldn't sleep last night. I woke up at about 3 a.m., worried about something, I don't know what. I then started worrying about work, thinking of things I need to do and issues that have to be addressed. Then I started worrying about money, and the housing situation, and then my pathetic little social life. I tossed and turned and kicked the covers off then pulled them back up again. I just couldn't get comfortable, so I went out to the living room and read the rest of the Times that I hadn't gotten to on Sunday.

That kept me busy till my alarm went off. Then, of course, I got sleepy. I crawled in bed for a little while, listening to Morning Edition interspersed with the spring fundraising drive. I would have liked to contribute, but it seemed more prudent to hold on to my money so I'll have an apartment in which to listen to the radio next summer.

Now I'm so tired, and I came home and shoveled snow. Normally waiting to shovel is a bad idea, since things get all icy and hard to move, but since it was pretty warm today it was more like shoveling a slushie. At least my car is free now.

I have a terrible day to look forward to at work tomorrow. Irrespective of all the other crud going on over there, tomorrow is the day for a monthly meeting I absolutely dread. Talk talk talk and nothing ever gets decided and done. I'd space out, but it's my job to take minutes so I have to pay attention. Blech. At least I'll have part of the afternoon free -- it's the one benefit of traveling to this meeting. I'm not looking forward to the commute though.

I'm still nervous and upset, but I'm coping. Mom and Dad are out of town this week, so I can't even call them for some comfort. Not that there's much they could do, but it always makes me feel better to talk to them. At least they're always on my side.

I'm getting tired, so it's off to bed for some quality television time. I just wish Project Runway was on earlier. I don't know if I can make it to 10 p.m. tonight. Sorry to be so boring, but nobody's reading anyway so I don't guess it matters much.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

More books, again

Thanks to the blizzard, I've had a chance to catch up on my reading. When I'm not seething with rage, of course. (Just kidding, really. No, REALLY.)

Here are the latest books I've finished:

6. Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West by Gregory Maguire. I love books that take a story we think we know by heart and look at it from another perspective. So I thought I'd really like Wicked. But the first time I tried to read it, soon after it came out and long before the musical had ever come to Broadway, I couldn't get through the first chapter. Something kept turning me off, and I eventually returned the book to the library and got on with my life. But now the musical has been a huge success, and I heard a song from the soundtrack one day ("Defying Gravity"), and I thought, well why the heck not? This time I was determined to hold on until I got to the Elphaba / Galinda part (which as I understand it, makes up the bulk of the show, which I will admit right now I've never actually seen). There is a lot going on in the beginning of the book, and though it opens with a scene featuring the Witch and Dorothy, it then goes back in time and things get confusing and weird. The Oz in this book is darker and far more disturbing than the MGM movie version. But given that L. Frank Baum included lots of symbolism about the gold standard and other events central to life in late nineteenth-century America in his book, it is perhaps not surprising that this version is packed full of conflicts that don't seem to alien to a twentyfirst-century viewpoint. Racism, religious conflict, and imperialism all rear there heads, and what seems to be the central question of the book -- what is evil and what makes people become that way -- seems very timely. This time I liked it. It was fun to see Oz through another set of eyes, and to try and pick out elements that would play a part in Baum's book. Elphaba is a difficult character. I didn't quite like her, or pity her, and there were times when I couldn't even really understand her, or her actions. Maybe that's why she felt real, though.

7. Cut to the Quick by Kate Ross. I have the feeling I've read a Julian Kestrel novel before, but none of the plot synopses looked quite familiar in the bookstore. Still, a Regency gentleman detective seemed fun, so I picked up this one, the first in a series of four. While visiting in the country, Julian Kestrel finds a dead woman in his bed. Who is she? And who put her there? As soon as the murder occurred, I started piecing together theories. There were plenty of candidates for murderer and motive. While I was close, I wasn't quite right. I really enjoyed the characters and plot, which took many of the elements of the Regency romances I adored as a preteen and combined them with the English Country House Murder, one of my favorite mystery sub-genres. Kestrel was very engaging. Like other detectives in the British Mystery arena (Peter Wimsey, Albert Campion), he masks his considerable intellect behind the facade of a society dandy. It was also fun to see how the mystery got solved without even the basics of forensic science, which plays such a (necessary) part in many modern mysteries. Fun all around.

Angry, with occasional optimism

So I'm still mad. But now I'm mad with a purpose.

I've had a lot of time to think about what happened to me on Thursday. I'm hurt and angry, but the more I think about the situation and the personalities involved, the more I begin to see the reasons why things have turned out the way they did. I don't like them or understand them, but at least I see what was really going on while I was innocently dreaming of a future that was never going to be mine.

And while it's still infuriating, I'm gaining at least a little perspective on the situation. I was always a little unsure about the whole darn thing, and this way, at least, I don't have to deal with the question of whether or not I really wanted it, or whether it was really the best career mover right now. It's a little freeing, really. I have the whole world in front of me, and relatively few restrictions on where I can go or what I can do. I've been thinking a lot about where my life should go next, and while this whole episode has kind of highlighted the foolishness of trying to plan too far ahead, I have come up with several viable and relatively pleasant options.

Graduate school? And if so, what kind of program, and where? Is this the time to bite the bullet and try out librarianism? What other jobs are open out there -- and not just the ones in my field? If I'm going to branch out, this may be the time. It's a little thrilling. I haven't felt this way in a while.

I'm still a little upset about the manner and timing in which this whole thing played out, but I don't feel quite as persecuted as I was on Thursday. Things happen, and it is nobody's responsibility but my own to see that my feelings don't get hurt. I'm still proud of what I accomplished in these past few months. I did well, and they really can't take that away from me. It hurt, but this is not a killing blow. I am not beaten, and I will persevere. I will keep doing my job, and I will keep doing it well. I will not let the bastards get me down.