Sunday, April 12, 2009

give me back my man

The title comes from the B-52's song that's currently playing on my iTunes, but it fits perfectly for this weekend. Ordinarily I would be with G, but he went home for Passover. Costa Rica killed most of my vacation time (and the rest is going towards meeting up with Daddy-O in Vegas later this month), so I couldn’t go. There will be no partaking of bitter greens, no singing of "Chad Gadyo", no touching of the shankbone for me this Passover holiday.

Anyway, over the last four days, I’ve been to three movies (I Love You Man, Sunshine Cleaning, and Tokyo Sonata), eaten about fifty Cadbury cream eggs, cleaned my kitchen, cleaned the bathroom, washed Ginji, slept more than is medically or reasonably necessary, played hours of Gardening Mama (don’t judge, it’s addictive!), and read five magazines, two volumes of manga, and two books. I want to take a nap, but when I got home from the movies, I noticed that the laundry room was completely empty. I guess everyone else is off praising the risen Jeebus. Anyway, I figured I’d better take advantage of it, so now I must try to stay awake until everything is washed, dried, folded, and put away. Because I have cut my caffeine consumption to practically nil (yes, I’m serious), staying awake is no mean feat. Ergo: survey time!

Oh, but first I have to tell you this. To see Tokyo Sonata, I had to drive to the town where I grew up and where K and I lived for four years after I moved back to California. The independent movie theater there used to be the only theater in town. One of my favorite memories of that place is seeing Silence of the Lambs with my mom, and running hand in hand through the parking lot afterwards, freaked out as all hell. When I sat down, I closed my eyes and thought of that moment and smiled.

Afterwards (for obvious reasons), I was seriously jonesing for Japanese food, so I went to a nearby restaurant and chowed down on beef teriyaki, miso soup, and rice. I felt a little awkward being the only person eating alone, but I got over it pretty quickly. When I was leaving, I noticed another woman about my age sitting by herself, and when I passed her, she raised her sake cup and smiled. It was one of those little moments where I just felt, I don’t know, connected to the world, if that makes any sense.

No? Okay, fine. Book survey swiped from Amandear.

1.) Let's start with a simple one. What are your all-time favorite books?

My absolute all-time favorite book is As Meat Loves Salt by Maria McCann. In no particular order, the other nine are:

The End of Alice by A.M. Homes
The Devil of Nanking by Mo Hayder
The Green Mile by Stephen King
Dark Hollow by John Connolly
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone and Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling
Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn
The Crimson Petal and the White by Michel Faber
The Dogs of Babel by Carolyn Parkhurst

My favorite nonfiction books of all time are Jesus Land by Julia Scheeres and Stiff by Mary Roach.

2.) What's your favorite genre?

I’ll read just about anything, though it’s rare that I’ll ever pick up sci-fi, fantasy, or romance (with the exception of Bertice Small, who writes some really juicy stuff. One of her books even had a DP in it!).

3.) Some people enjoy listening to various songs more than following certain artists. Do you prefer reading random books to following certain authors, or will you follow an author from title to title?

A little of both. There are certain people (Stephen King, John Connolly, Mo Hayder) whose books I’ll snap up as soon as they hit the shelves, but I also like discovering new authors. I get most of my book recommendations from Entertainment Weekly, since they review a good selection of both popular and somewhat obscure titles.

4.) Some books have great titles, but don't make your desert island top five list, and some amazing books have mediocre titles. What are your favorite book titles?

A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius (by Dave Eggers) is an awesome title, though I was lukewarm on the book itself. But for awesome titles, you can’t beat Mark Leyner. A sampling from Amazon: I Smell Esther Williams, Et Tu Babe, My Cousin, My Gastroenterologist, Tooth Imprints on a Corn Dog. There’s a new book out called It Sucked and Then I Cried by Heather Armstrong that I want to read, and Jennifer Lancaster (Such a Pretty Fat, Bright Lights Big Ass, Bitter Is the New Black) has great titles too. Oh, and Horsemen of the Esophagus, about competitive eating, is probably my favorite title ever.

5.) Fiction or nonfiction? Hardcover or softcover? Biography or autobiography?

I never used to read nonfiction, but that’s changed over the years. I still read mostly fiction, though. I don’t care about hardcover vs. softcover; I am Switzerland on that issue. Same for biography vs. autobiography.

6.) What are your perfect reading conditions? What situation is most conducive to enjoying your chosen read?

I love to read in bed, and I try to read for at least a half-hour before falling asleep. I can read just about anywhere, though, with the exception of the break room at work. That place is so fucking loud it’s like trying to read on an airport runway. So on my lunch break, after I get back from my walk, I have about 20 minutes to kill. I take my book into a little abandoned office near my cube and read until my time’s up.

7.) What's the optimal length for a book?

I don’t care as long as it’s good. If a book hasn’t grabbed me by page 50, I give it up.

8.) What's the first book you remember reading?

No idea, but it was probably something from the Dr. Seuss oeuvre.

9.) What's the last book that really moved you?

The Local News by Miriam Gershow. Definitely the best book I’ve read so far this year.

10.) What's the last book that so annoyed you that you bailed on it without finishing it?

I had Everything Must Go by Elizabeth Flock sitting on my shelf for probably two years, and when I didn’t have anything else to read recently, I opened it up. I didn’t even get to the fifty page mark. That shit was boring.

11.) What's the worst book you were forced to read in school?

Drawing a blank…

12.) What book (that you might not have picked up on your own) are you glad was forced upon you in school?

Madame Bovary. I also really liked Anna Karenina.

13.) What is one book whose timelessness and renown utterly baffles you?

The DaVinci Code and anything by Stephenie Meyer. Barf.

14.) What is one book you fully expect to be forced upon high school students in the future?

Probably anything that Oprah ever recommended.

15.) Have you ever read a book that you so thoroughly enjoyed that, as soon as you turned the last page, you immediately flipped the book over and began reading it again?

As Meat Loves Salt. Then, after returning it to the library, I went out and bought my own copy. I’ve recommended this book to many people over the years, and their reactions have ranged from “Oh my god, this book is phenomenal!” to “Well, that sucked. I especially liked the twenty pages about the printing press. That was so exciting!”

16.) How many books do you usually have going at one time? How many do you prefer to have going at the same time?

Usually two: one for my breaks at work, and one for home. Right now I have two books going (Turning Angel by Greg Iles and Secrets to Happiness by Sarah Dunn), as well as volume 1 of Blank Slate by Aya Kanno.

17.) Are you a buyer, a borrower, or a library haunt?

I very rarely buy books, if you can believe that shit. I have library cards for two different counties and go at least once a week. The people at the library near my work know me by name!

18.) Do any books perpetually live in your purse, briefcase, backpack, car, desk, or other such easily-accessible place as emergency or back-up reading options?

With the (obvious) exception of anything I’m reading at the time, I keep a box of library books in my trunk.

19.) Do you dog-ear or make notes in books?


20.) Do you use something other than a bookmark to keep your place? If so, what?

I have three bookmarks, but I always seem to be missing at least two of them. The pages of my Cute Overload desk calendar work well in a pinch. Awww, bunny head.