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New Year’s Eve and the Last Twelve Books

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Well, it’s New Year’s Eve again. One year ago tonight (not to the minute or anything–I think it was later in the evening), I was sitting in my kitchen in Concord, NH writing a blog post about the five best books I’d read in 2013 when I decided I should read 50 books in 2014 and blog about them all.

Guys. I really sucked at the blogging part of that.

It’s the first time I’ve ever really made a resolution. I mean, maybe when I was little, but never before had I made a serious this is something I’m going to do next year commitment on New Year’s Eve. And I put absolutely zero thought into whether it was a reasonable thing for me to do–I figured I probably read at least a book a week. Actually, it was probably more. I think I spent a lot of the past few years taking a weekend and binging on a YA trilogy and rereading series that I’ve read a few times already and just fly through. I wasn’t figuring that a book a week was accurate to what I was doing at the moment. I was figuring that a book a week would be a good goal. Because if I’m reading too much more than that, then I’m clearly not challenging myself at all. And honestly, the books that took me a whole lot longer than a week were the ones I got the most out of.

I keep writing more, but I really wasn’t intending for this to be a reflecting-on-the-project type of post. I’ll do one of those soon when I discuss my 2015 project.

So this year, I’m having my favorite kind of New Year’s Eve. Reading and writing and maybe a little Mario Kart and some Chinese food. And the first thing I’m going to do is finish up last year’s resolution and blog about the final twelve books.

I didn’t read 50 books this year. Officially, by my notebook, I read 52 books this year. You could be really picky and say that since 1Q84 was three volumes in the edition I had but more commonly only one it should only count as one, but then I would point out the number books that I did not record. I read most of What If by Randall Munroe, Weird Things Customers Say in Bookstores, and about 500 billion picture books but it seemed ridiculous to count every single Elephant and Piggie in my end-of-the-year tally. Anyway, even if you’re being picky and refusing to count 1Q84 as more than one book, I still read 50 books this year. (And my boss, aka the owner of a bookshop, says it totally counts as three books since they’re individually bound, so nyah.)

Anyway! Here are the final twelve.

Book 39: A Wild Sheep Chase by Haruki Murakami

Here’s the thing about reading Murakami. When you finish, it’s so easy to put the book down and get lost in questions about specifics, such as: What the fuck just happened? But if you do that, you’ll miss the point of his books. The story—the plot, the actual things that happen in the book—those things aren’t the point when you read Murakami, I don’t think. Those things make the point. And there will be some point in your future, whether it be five minutes later or eight months later, that you suddenly completely forget whatever you’re doing at the moment and say: OH! Because you figured it out. You realized what the point was. And not only did you realize what the point was, but you realize that it’s so applicable to your life at this very moment, because his books don’t make stupid small points. (In fact, he doesn’t try to make points at all, which is probably why whatever I figure out in terms of the points always seems super relevant.) If you’ve read this book, or if you’ve read 1Q84, let me know because I would love to hear what you got out of them.

Book 40: A Darkling Sea by James L. Cambias

If you’re a science fiction fan, you’ve got to read this book. It’s about a group of scientists, human scientists, living in a research lab base on a planet that’s entirely under water (or some other sort of liquid, not sure if it was actual water), studying on of the native species there. But there’s another alien species out there that makes laws about this sort of thing, and the rule is that they can’t interfere, they can’t even let the species they’re studying know that they’re there. And the species they’re studying, it turns out they’re sentient, they’re intelligent, they’re scientific. And the thing that is so cool about this book, that brought it from being a pretty good science fiction story to something amazing, was that you get to hear each point of view. Each species has one representative with POV chapters. So instead of the whole book being about humans looking at the other, we get to think about ourselves as the other and realize that our point of view isn’t the only one that matters. And it was just so cool. I’ve been recommending it to everyone.

Book 41: Throne of the Crescent Moon by Saladin Ahmed

I really, really like Saladin Ahmed. I follow the guy on Twitter, and his tweets either crack me up or make me think hard about something or, on a not-irregular basis, both. His book, The Throne of the Crescent Moon, was really good. I enjoyed it. It’s a fantasy detective sort of novel—well, he’s really a ghul hunter and not a detective, but it follows the same general idea—set in a medieval made-up Middle Eastern city. I loved the idea from the first time I heard about it, because, well, does anyone else get a little sick of everything in science fiction and fantasy being so…western? So that was this book. It was kind of like if you took the Dresden Files, except instead of making it about a wizard detective in modern-day Chicago, you made it about a ghul hunter in medieval Dhamsawaat. The characters are complex and multi-dimensional, with detailed lives and thoughts going on behind their ghul hunting ways. The world is built well around the characters, too—I really liked that, while magic was a fact of this world, it wasn’t there only for the convenience of our main characters or villains. It was built into life in the city. Now, you might be reading this thinking, Rachael, this sounds like the sort of thing you’d love but up there you wrote that you “really enjoyed it,” which, I mean, I read your blog and you love saying you love books! And you’re right. I do love saying I love books, and I would be lying if I said I loved this book. I really liked it, and I wanted to love it, but characters had a touch more religious fervor than I generally like in my fantasy. So, since I was comparing to The Dresden Files already, if you’re a fan, imagine: Michael is Dresden’s constant companion through the entire series, but rather than responding the way he does to Michael’s religious comments, Dresden also talks about God a whole lot, just in a slightly different way. Now, I get that it’s completely reasonable within the context of the story for the characters to be highly religious. I didn’t think it didn’t make sense. It’s just not really my thing. On that note, however, I am very much looking forward to the next in the series.

Book 43: Raising Steam by Terry Pratchett

Before I start talking specifically about Raising Steam, I want to talk a little about Sir Terry Pratchett. He’s hard to talk about right now because talking about him makes me sad and angry. For those of you who don’t know, Pratchett has early onset Alzheimer’s. I’m not sad and angry because I want more Discworld books than he will be able to write. I mean, I do want more, I want them to keep going forever, but that’s not why I’m sad and angry. I’m sad and angry because, over the years, I’ve read so many of his books and they have given me so much that I absolutely hate knowing what he’s going through. It’s awful. Of course, he writes about it better than I ever will, and I urge you to read some of what he’s written—both about living with Alzheimer’s and choosing to die.

Anyway. Raising Steam. Guys, this book was amazing. My two favorite Pratchett characters are Sam Vimes and Moist von Lipwig. I bought this book knowing it was part of the Lipwig series, but having no idea that Vimes would play such a major role! (Uh, I mean. Spoilers. Not big spoilers, though. Shh.) This is the third Moist book. The first, Going Postal, was about con man Moist von Lipwig after he’s saved from his execution only to be sentenced to a career as Postmaster General in a city where the postal system is a complete joke. Not surprisingly, a former con man is perfectly suited to government work. In Raising Steam, Moist has been a pillar of the community for a number of years when someone invents a steam engine. Like everyone else, Moist is drawn to the shiny new technology, but Lord Vetinari gives him a task that seems impossible…but is it?!! When I read these, I feel just like someone in the book: An outsider, looking in, completely enthralled, wondering how Moist is going to pull this off, completely convinced that he’ll fail, because how could he succeed? And it’s wonderful. If you want to read this book, though, I highly recommend starting with Guards! Guards! and reading all the Vimes and Moist books (at least) before starting on this one; you really need the context of both stories.

Book 44: Bathing the Lion by Jonathan Carroll

This book was so good I added a sixth star to my rating system. It was like Neil Gaiman, Philip K. Dick, Haruki Murakami, Roger Zelazny, and China Mieville all had a brain baby and this was it. I read it while on a family vacation to visit my grandfather in Florida and at some point my brother asked what it was about, and I was about two thirds of the way through at that point, and I just—well that’s a really good question, I have no idea yet. If you don’t like being slightly unsure of what’s going on when you’re reading, or if you don’t like subtlety in your endings, this book won’t be for you. For everyone else, I still can’t tell you what this is about because there is literally no way to do that without spoiling the ending, so let’s just say it’s about humanity. It’s about the absolute necessity of human passion and curiosity and creativity. The one downside is that it’s only 280 pages. Over way too fast. (Also, has anyone ever taken a book on an airplane and had it grow? Like, even the guy sitting next to me commented on it. It tried to expand. Sadly, it didn’t grow more pages.)

Book 46: Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan

I kept having to turn back to the front of this book where the author’s picture is located because, every few pages, I’d become absolutely convinced that “Robin Sloan” is a pen name that John Green used to write an adult book. I absolutely loved it. (I’m still wondering if authors who use pen names sometimes use a fake picture to really pretend it’s not them.) You’ve got a narrator who’s kind of in a weird point in his life, and he’s got this weird crazy group of friends who all have one completely random and very specific thing, and he meets this crazy weird fun quirky brilliant woman, and then weird stuff happens and there’s a crazy adventure and you learn something important about life when you’re done reading it. It’s so much fun, and you won’t be able to put it down, and then when you finish it you won’t be able to shut up about it for a while. Oh, and this is important: There’s nothing in this book that would make it inappropriate for anyone for whom John Green’s books are appropriate.

Book 47: Neptune’s Brood by Charles Stross

There’s a science fiction book club in my town, and this book was the first book I read for it that I was actually able to make it to the meeting for. (The first meeting after I joined was about Neuromancer, which I read recently enough, but since the meeting was at a member’s house and he was cooking, I wasn’t about to show up and say, hi, you’ve never met me before, give me your food, I hated this book that you love. The second was for A Darkling Sea, and it broke my heart to be stuck on an airplane on the way back from Florida when they had that meeting because I loved it.) Everyone in the club who finished the book liked it, but no one seemed to have loved it. However, it did have a fascinating idea behind it that a lot of space opera fails to consider or creates an explanation around. Traveling faster than light seems like it’d be completely impossible. So let’s say, in a few thousand years, we’re at a point where people are scattered all over the universe. Traveling from one planet to another could take hundreds or thousands of years. So, in the book, they’re not human, they’re kind of post-human androids that can basically go into sleep mode for most of that time. Anyway, that’s not the point. The point is, what does that mean economically? Like, let’s say I hire someone. I pay them a certain amount to come do a job for me, and it takes them 400 years to get here. I’m still here and they’re still there because we’re kind of robots with uploadable consciousness, but what about the money? Economic systems and values change quickly enough that by the time they can use the money, it’s worthless. So in Neptune’s Brood, Stross writes about that. What does that mean? What systems might be put in place to avoid that? How could those systems fail? So if you’re into science fiction and economics, this is the book for you. If you’re not so much into economics, you might struggle through it at points, but it’s still a good story and fascinating to think about.

Book 48: The Valley of Amazement by Amy Tan

I very nearly read this entire book in a weekend, but I didn’t quite finish it, and then the week started, and the week was crazy and weird and I barely had any spare time so it took me a while to finish after an initial whirlwind of addiction (and a whole lot of exasperation when I really just wanted to sit down and read but had too much other stuff to do). It takes place in the early 1900’s in China, beginning in a first class courtesan house owned by an American woman named Lulu Minturn. The story centers around her daughter, Violet, as she grows up an outsider and is forced to face circumstances beyond her (or her mother’s) control. Over time, she begins to understand some of the decisions her mother had needed to make. In classic Tan style, it’s a beautiful story of the love that families have for each other, and it manages to be that without being even remotely boring. I absolutely loved it and I’m already looking forward to Tan’s next book. (I’m pretty sure I’ve read everything Amy Tan has ever written. I don’t think that’s true for very many authors who have written more than a book or two. Amy Tan and good ol’ JK are the only ones I can think of at the moment.)

Book 49: Alif the Unseen by G. Willow Wilson

SO GOOD. (I’m becoming incoherent, huh? I can’t wait to go to bed!) I’ve decided that I’m going to continue buying any book that looks remotely interesting and has a quote from a review by Neil Gaiman on the cover, because seriously, I am never disappointed. This book is about a young hacker in yet another made up Middle Eastern city. He writes a code that shouldn’t be possible, then comes into possession of a book that shouldn’t exist, and finds himself on the run in the company of his next door neighbor, an American student, and a possibly evil djinn. This book has something for everyone—some politics, some love, some magic, some technology, all with well-rounded, interesting character and some beautiful writing. I absolutely loved every second of this book. It was about the importance of ordinary people doing things to try to change the world, even if they don’t think what they’re doing will matter, because everything matters. Or, you never know what will matter. It was wonderful.

Book 50: Dawn by Octavia Butler

How have I never read Octavia Butler before? I’m so disappointed in myself. This book was absolutely wonderful. I felt like I was reading a perfect episode of Doctor Who (except, you know, without most of what makes it Doctor Who). It’s science fiction, but the science is alien and so far beyond any understanding that we have of science right now that it seems almost like magic as you’re reading. And it’s about humanity, again, and I really think that all the best science fiction and fantasy is at its core about being human. Lilith has somehow managed to survive a world-destroying war, along with a small number of other humans, all of whom have been taken by an alien race onto their ship. But the aliens are going to use the humans to change themselves, and in doing so, change the humans and the future of humankind. As soon as I finished this I went and got the rest of the series and I’m looking forward to reading a whole lot more Octavia Butler in the future.

Book 51: The Strange Library by Haruki Murakami

You know what I said earlier, about eventually saying OH! and understanding what Murakami’s book was about? I finished this two days ago. That hasn’t happened yet. I’m still in the “…what?” phase of having finished a Murakami book. This one in particular is strange. It’s got a jacket that goes the wrong way around it. The font is huge and it’s got pictures taking up about half the pages, and the whole thing reads a bit more like a piece of art than anything else. It’s appropriate for younger audiences, but I’m not sure I’d agree that it’s a kids book like at least one review I’ve read. It’s definitely not a full-length novel—I think it’s a novella, or possibly a novelette, though I’m not sure what the difference is. Anyway, I’m looking forward to having my moment of epiphany and reading it again when I do.

Book 52: The Last Policeman by Ben H. Winters

Have you ever read a book that took place in a town where you lived? This book was extremely weird, because it took place in Concord, NH, where I lived for three years until this July. And damn does this author get Concord. It was so much fun to read it and say, yes, I know that place, I’ve been there, oh that restaurant where the people were having lunch makes the best burgers ever, and if you said the streetlight at Warren Street works I know exactly which intersection you’re sitting at, and that weird science fiction movie series is exactly the sort of thing that movie theater would do. It’s a pre-apocalyptic detective story. A giant comet has been discovered heading directly to Earth, and impact will occur in about six months. People all over the place are committing suicide, but when Detective Palace comes across what looks like another hanger, sometimes seems off. Most people think he’s crazy for pursuing it as a case, given the end of the world, but he’s got sort of a Batman complex and is determined to do his job. It had just enough science fiction in it to intrigue me, but I’m really not sure which shelf this belongs on. I read it in approximately two days and can’t wait to start book two.

 

Okay, readers, that’s all for 2014! I’ll be back soon for some big reflections on this year’s reading and details about what I’m doing next year, but for now, it’s almost midnight and I have plans tomorrow, so I’ll be watching the clock (well, no, okay, I’ll be reading) for a little longer and then going to bed. (Sorry about the lack of pictures and links here. I might come back and edit them in later, but I’m really not committed to it. I’m tired and I might actually have the flu and it just doesn’t sound like that much fun.)

Does anyone have any book-related resolutions?

Time, and Book 11: 1Q84 vol. 3

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I don’t understand how it’s late-mid-May already. I could swear I just put up the Christmas tree maybe three days ago. But I counted, and I have 39 days left at my awesome job, and my boss made me take down my little countdown because it was making everyone too sad. I tried to explain that sad is like happy for deep people, but it didn’t fly.

39 days left at work means 40-something days until moving day, and if Christmas was two or three days ago, well, shit, I’m pretty much moving tomorrow. My apartment? A mess. My stuff? Not remotely packed. Books? All over every surface in my house. And we’re making some progress–slow progress, unfortunately, but I’d rather not kill myself trying to get everything done at once, because I’m a little too much of a perfectionist and I’d rather not develop an ulcer trying to get ready to move.

All this means is that, when I have a little spare time, I’m reading. But when I have enough spare time that I could conceivably write a blog post in said time, there are more pressing things for me to work on. I’m on book 16, really. Almost done with it. It’s wonderful. And I’m just now getting to book 11’s post. (Well, I did try one other time, but I was just in such a bad overall mood that the post just ended up being all negative and whiny and that’s not what I want, especially when I loved the book. And that was over a week ago!

So: Time. It’s crazy. People always told me when I was a kid that when I grew up, a year would seem like nothing. I didn’t believe them, of course. A year was, like, forever. So I asked one of my coworkers, who is around 60, if this is just how it is. Will it slow back down? Is it just because I’ve been crazy busy lately? Or will the year 2029 go by as quickly compared to 2014 as 2014 is going by compared to 1999? Does time continue accelerating at a steady pace, or will it keep accelerating but not quite as fast?

Is being an adult about sitting around in 2014 still wondering what happened to 2012?

But today, I have some time. Today, my goal is laundry, and I can blog while that’s going. It probably won’t be too long, though. We’ll see.

Book 11: 1Q84, Volume 3

I’ll be honest: The other reason it’s been taking me so long to get this post up is that I just don’t know how to talk about this book. More accurately, I don’t know how to talk about this book without my post being 90% spoilers. I’ll try to keep them fairly minor, but fair warning: Spoilers Ahead.

I had no idea what I was getting myself into when I picked up 1Q84. I had never read any Murakami before. In fact, I don’t even know if I’d ever read any Japanese literature before. And then the type of literature–it’s sort of a magical realism, I think, but I honestly don’t know because I haven’t read a whole lot of magical realism before. It was categorized where I first heard of it as fantasy, but I’m not sure that’s entirely accurate. And, really, I didn’t look into it much beyond seeing lots of positive reviews and the fantasy categorization. I had absolutely no clue what this book was going to be all about, which ended up being pretty cool, because really, how often do you read a book where you just have no clue what to expect? Not often.

It’s a love story.

I remember the exact point at which I realized it was a love story. Tengo was on a train and he saw a young girl who reminded him of his classmate in middle school whom he didn’t know well, but had clearly left a lasting impression on him. He remembers that she was a Witness, and I thought, “Wait a minute. Aomame said her family were ‘Believers’. This… This is a love story.”

But even then, I wasn’t sure. I mean, I was hopeful that our two point of view characters would eventually meet again, but given the style of the book, I had no idea. There was so much working against them: The Little People, Sakigake, Aomame’s task and subsequent need to hide. I was completely ready for Aomame to die and for 1Q84 to be all about Tengo and Fuka-Eri’s battle against the Little People and Sakigake.

But she didn’t die, and there was no big battle. 1Q84 turned out to be a story about two people who want nothing more than to be reunited, who suddenly find themselves in a world that’s just slightly off, where there are forces that they don’t know anything about or understand–the Little People and Sakigake–working to keep them apart for seemingly no reason, and one force–Fuka-Eri–working the opposite side, helping to bring them together. Aomame and Tengo never find out more about the Little People, and neither do you. You’re right there with them, confused and hoping for something, but you’re not quite sure what.

Should you read this book? I’m not going to put a blanket recommendation on it. It’s a case by case basis. I will tell you this: There was one thing that bothered me about it. I found that the characters jumped to completely insane (true) conclusions far too easily. From the very beginning when Aomame realizes she is no longer in 1984 but 1Q84 based on a few missed news stories, I felt a little bit like, really? You miss a few news stories and the only logical explanation is that you’re in a parallel universe? Is that really, as you are saying, the only logical explanation? And this happens fairly often.

Should you read this book? That depends. Are you willing to take leaps of faith when it comes to characters just knowing what’s going on when there’s no apparent reason that they should be able to figure things out that easily? If you’re willing to think of this as a book about characters with insanely good instincts, that’s a check in the “yes” column. Do you love well-written detail about characters’ day-to-day lives? If you’re unlikely to throw the book out the window the fourth time the author goes into precise detail about what exactly one of the characters is making for lunch (keep in mind here that the book takes place in Japan, so as an American, I found it interesting because I felt like I was learning a whole lot about a different culture, albeit a fictionalized version of one), then put another check in the “yes” column. Are you okay with not knowing? With what felt like the main plot ending up being a side story that leaves almost all its questions unanswered, and the apparent side plot being the point of the whole story–keeping in mind that it’s done really well? Another check for “yes.” Do you like love stories, but at the same time you hate love stories so much? Definitely “yes.” Are you ready to take on a huge reading project? This one’s important.

This book is absolutely wonderful, but I don’t think it’s for everyone. I, however, can’t wait to read more Murakami–maybe next year when I have a bit more time and less pressure on my reading schedule! Hey, I mean, next year is practically tomorrow, right?

And before I leave off, I did mention that I’m nearing the end of book 16, so here’s the coming lineup!

Book 12: Railsea by China Mieville
Book 13: The Sandcastle Girls by Chris Bohjalian
Book 14: The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
Book 15: The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
Book 16: The Round House by Louise Erdrich
Book 17: Warriors: Into the Wild by Erin Hunter

I’ll probably write soon! Railsea somehow wasn’t quite so ambiguous that I will have no idea what to say, so I don’t think I’ll procrastinate for nearly as long.

 

ALIVE. With ANSWERS.

Every once in a while, something happens that causes me to disappear completely. Nobody sees me except for Mike and the people who see me in class and usually the barista at the Starbucks near school. (Which I can’t explain, because I don’t even do caffeine. I should cut that shit out.)

School starting is one of those things that happens that causes this. For the past few weeks, I have been overwhelmingly busy with homework and this neat new internship I’m doing. On the days that I’m not doing one of those things, it’s because my brain broke down and can’t handle to do anything other than sit on the couch and stare at the NCIS marathon that is inevitably playing on USA, or obsessively read through the archives of Overcompensating, or find out that there’s this book series called The Hunger Games that I somehow missed out on and then accidentally read the entire series in two days and then refuse to acknowledge any inquiries as to whether I cried at the end. I’m kind of a book addict. Sorry. P.S. Anyone who comments with a spoiler will get hunted down by one of my trained assassins, just in case someone else hasn’t read them and wants to.

TL;DR: I’ve been super busy, and on the days that I’m not super busy, I’m fucking lazy. Also kind of burnt out. And really all that’s going through my head most of the time is that I love one of my professors and hate the other, and if I’m honest with myself, you don’t want to read about that.

I’m trying to start keeping a list of things worth blogging about as they come into my head so I’ll at least be able to think of something when it occurs to me that I should write a blog post. If you have any suggestions, I’m willing to take them, but no promises.

Anyway. You’re probably wondering about that “with ANSWERS” thing up there, aren’t you? No? You think I was referring to everything I just told you about why I suck at updating my blog when I also have other things to do? Well then you’re WRONG. (Thought that would be a very reasonable conclusion to draw. Now that I think of it.) I discovered these questions that some dude who was French and had a TV show used to ask every guest he had. They seemed fascinating. They are called PIVOT’S QUESTIONS and I thought I would answer them for you, so here goes.

(Are you excited? I’m excited.)

What is your favorite word?
Do people actually have favorite words? That’s news to me. Does it have to be in English? I wonder how Pivot would have reacted if someone’s favorite word had been in Klingon or something. (I won’t judge you if your favorite word is in Klingon. I just think he would have.) Okay. Mine’s schadenfreude. Which is German but is also technically in English dictionaries now so I guess it’s both. If you’re not familiar with it, it means “happiness at the misfortune of others,” and if you want to really understand it, you should go listen to this song from Avenue Q. You’ve felt it before.

What is your least favorite word?
Chunk.

What turns you on, excites, or inspires you creatively, spiritually, or emotionally?
Books. Good books can do anything the above question implies. Though most of the stuff I ready is too dystopian to actually, y’know. Turn me on.

What turns you off?
In the middle of the night, a train pulls up to a quietly sleeping city. The sounds emanating from the train gradually wake everyone. Just as they’re getting out of their cozy and safe houses to investigate, the train’s passengers burst out. Clowns. But not just any clowns. Fucking clowns. And I mean that literally. A fucking clown train. And I have some very special people to thank for this very specific mental image.

What sound or noise do you love?
Silence. Is that allowed? Probably not. Wait, no. I don’t want complete silence anyway. How about the sound of an air conditioner? Or a loud fan? Or a car engine? I don’t really like noise most of the time but those sounds are very comforting to sleep to. Now that we have the air conditioner off it is hard to sleep in the silence. (Ooh, add that to the reasons I’ve been absent. Lack of sleep. Fucking miserable.)

What sound or noise do you hate?
The voice of Mike’s Grand Theft Auto IV character saying “Howdy, partner” over and over and over.

What’s your favorite curse word?
If I say “fuck,” can it include “fucking”? Because nothing feels better than saying “fuck yes” when something is awesome except maybe saying “fucking” for emphasis. Fucking fuck yes. “Fucking” is more versatile, so I’ll go with that.

What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?
Whenever I’m watching NCIS I’m overcome by a desire to be a super badass federal agent. My spy name would be Raptor Fury. Either that or that’d be the name of some mission I was involved in. Or leading. That would be so fucking cool if it weren’t for the fact that I’m a total wimp and would not survive a day as a federal agent.

What profession would you absolutely not like to participate in?
I don’t want to be a teacher. Ever. Or a professor. Too few students would actually care for it to be worth it, and I’d constantly be a nervous wreck about that. I’d end up completely convinced that they hate school (or whatever class I’m teaching) because they hate me, even though it’s more likely that they just hate it in general anyway. Some people say it’s worth it for the one or two kids in your class who actually care and are excited to learn what you’re teaching, but I’d be way too broken up about the rest to be excited about them.

If heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the pearly gates?
I wouldn’t want him to say anything. Going back to NCIS for a second. You know how when Gibbs is really happy about something, he just kinda tilts his head a teensy bit and gets a slightly bemused look on his face and nods a tiny bit? Almost imperceptibly? If you watch it, you know what I’m talking about. That is what I would want him to do. Failing that, I would accept a Caff-Pow.

I hope this has been eye-opening for you. It would be really cool if you answered your favorite question in the comments.

Drinking and Blogging. How could this POSSIBLY go wrong?

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You may be surprised to see me say this, but I’m being completely honest. This is my first drunk post. I’m not really that big a drinker. I’m in terrible drinking shape. But I just got an email that started off all “this is long, so grab a drink and relax and read it” and I said, y’know, that’s an awesome idea. And black tea and elderflower-flavored vodka (Absolut Boston) with limeade can’t possibly go wrong. Actually, limeade can’t ever go wrong, but that’s a different story.

So this email I got was about how to start being a wedding planner. And if you’re reading this and not married, chances are, you totally want me to plan your wedding. “But Rachael, I thought you were a creative writing student!” Yeah. I am. And where has that gotten me? Well…okay, it’s sort of gotten me a blog that it seems has a decent number of readers now (hi, new people! Thanks for coming!) and might increase and I haven’t written off the option of becoming the next Bloggess. I also haven’t written off the option of becoming the next Danielle Corsetto (and if you don’t read Girls with Slingshots, go there right now and read the whole archives because then you might catch up in time for the wrap-up of the current storyline which seems to be about the disappearance of all batteries, causing sex toys to be completely useless and women around the world to think it’s the apocalypse. TRUE STORY). I also haven’t written off the option of becoming Neil Gaiman but slightly less successful because I want to actually write and not be flying around to give talks and when I fed Amanda Palmer she definitely told me that I don’t want to be her husband. (P.S. I think it’s totally fucking awesome that my favorite singer and my favorite writer got married.)

Anyway, so the point here. I swear there is one. I have to do an internship before I graduate, and I’ve failed miserably at actually looking for one up until now, and now I’m filling out the application for one and it asks: What are your long-term career goals?

How can I even answer that? I want everything. But not in the Ariel sense, because I hear she’s totally a hipster these days, and once I tried to categorize my professors from last semester into celebrity personality-alikes (because I can’t think of a word) and I ended up with Professor Wil Wheaton, Professor Abby Sciuto-I-Know-She’s-Just-A-Character (But substitute literature for science) and Professor “Oh he’s pretty underground you probably haven’t heard of him”. No lie. That’s not the point, though. The point is that I have no fucking clue what my ultimate goals are.

I mean, I’m going to have to talk to people about this. And while I make up something that sounds good (I think I’ll go with Neil Gaiman there), it’s forcing me to think about it for myself. Even worse, it’s forcing me to acknowledge that I. don’t. know.

And that’s okay. Right? How many people out there are happily doing exactly what they wanted to be happily doing when they were 23? How many people really went into a field that relates to their degree? I don’t fucking know, but I’m pretty sure there aren’t a lot of them. Maybe like 30%?

So when I graduate, I’ll probably try the wedding planning thing. I’ll probably try everything on and be a fucking Barbie except reasonably proportioned and without an eating disorder and come out of it with enough things that I can be a really good old person when the time comes, with opinions on how just about everything should be done and a strong conviction that kids these days fucking suck. And that’s what I’ll say.

 

In the meantime, I need to go to sleep. And get famous. You guys make me famous and I won’t have to worry about any of this shit. (You can’t tell, but I’m stressing the fuck out right now. Thank god for Booze and Ice Cream. Yes, they deserve capital letters. [I wouldn’t even know what to do with being famous. Shit. That plan isn’t as solid as I thought.])

Outdoor Fucking, among other things

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It’s finals time. Well, it’s “I’m a creative writing major and all my finals are papers or writing/revising that is actually due before the official finals week so I’m fucking stressed for three weeks instead of one” time, except it’s the last week of that so shit is really hitting the fan.

Thus, in lieu of a real post, you get this. I promise it’s one of the best things on the internet.

Thank you, Jonathan Coulton and Stephen Torrence for bringing this into creation.

Some facts:
-I think fucking outside might actually be a terrible idea because there are bugs and dirt and also other people.
-I can sign the chorus. And do. In fact, I can’t really separate the signing from the singing. It doesn’t help that they’re practically the same word.
-I have a huge crush on the guy who signs these.
-You should watch the other ASL videos. “Party in the USA” is honestly hilarious. And for more Jonathan Coulton, I highly recommend “RE: Your Brains.” It’s about zombies.
-Doesn’t this guy kinda look like Eric from That 70’s Show?
-It totally bothers me that “Eric Foreman” refers to characters from both “That 70’s Show” and “House.” Couldn’t the writers of “House” have come up with a name that I didn’t already associate with someone?
-This is the first time I’ve ever told a blog post not to go up for a few hours. Because I don’t want any West Coast people getting this too soon.
-I have a headache.

Now I have to go to bed so I can be awake to go apartment hunting and write a paper about the use of “alright” and revise some plays and screenplays and poems and short fiction. AWESOME. See you guys soon. I hope.