Archive for October, 2011

October 31, 2011


I do not like Halloween.

In the interest of having a good time, I roused my sick boyfriend, my indignant roommate, and a number of semi-indignant friends to dressing up and attending a party on Saturday. In the snow.

It wasn’t a bad evening.

But since I got that out of the way, now I can return to not liking Halloween.

Except that I do like a few Halloween type things.

I like looking at pumpkins.

I like Edward Gorey.

I like Werewolf Bar Mitzvahs.

I like The Nightmare Before Christmas.

I like the Halloween episodes of most television shows.

But other than that, I am just a Halloweenie.

October 28, 2011

this week

This week…

1. I decided there was an extra day in between Wednesday and Thursday. On this mythical day, I would be able to finish reading The Magical Adventures of Pretty Pearl by Virginia Hamilton and then move quickly onto Robin McKinley’s Beauty in time for class on Thursday afternoon.


Let’s put it this way: that day did not occur.


2. I entered Week 8 of the Couch to 5K program… 28 minutes of straight running, no breaks.

I’ve been building up to these “long runs” now, I guess, since Week 5. 20 minutes, 22 minutes, 25 minutes…

but somehow, I haven’t yet increased my distance whatsoever.

I am learning to run farther and farther… while my body learns to run slower and slower.

(And the weather outside gets colder and colder. Gross.)


3. I ate very little other than rice+beans+cheese+salsa because I did a terrible job buying groceries and have lost all will to cook.

Good thing it’s delicious!


4. I forgot to wear deodorant on 3 out of 5 days.

Sorry, world.


5. My sister was not allowed to leave the  hospital yet 😦


6. I still do not have a Halloween costume.


7. I am going to attend an author event this evening in Cambridge.

Chris Van Allsburg will be doing a little gig to promote the publication of this awesome new book, The Chronicles of Harris Burdick.

Van Allsburg published this bizarre picturebook – The Mysteries of Harris Burdick –  that basically had no linear storyline, a bunch of creepy black and white illustrations, and not much else. Completely baffling as far as picturebooks go. But now, a bunch of kidlit authors have assembled in The Chronicles of Harris Burdick to write short stories based on each spread.

And these are not just your average kidlit authors. We are talking:

  • Sherman Alexie
  • M.T. Anderson
  • Walter Dean Myers
  • Louis Sachar
  • Lemony Snicket
  • Gregory Maguire
  • Stephen King

One such author  will also be in attendance at tonight’s event: Lois Lowry.


October 27, 2011

zippity zound

Elizabeth from Fuse #8 asks:

So let’s say that you are given a chance to name the Sendak book that best sums up your own personal world view. What would you pick?


Although competition is certainly fierce, I will argue that this is the superior volume of the Nutshell Library.

In case you don’t believe me, let Carole King convince you:

October 25, 2011

Reading Wishlist – October 2011

This month, as I continue to trod across post-apocalyptic landscapes, into alternate versions of the past, and virtual realities, I find myself craving something…


I want non-fiction.

Metamaus by Art Speigelman

The Sibling Effect by Jeffrey Kluger

The History of White People by Nell Irvin Painter

I want essays.

Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And other concerns) by Mindy Kaling

The Child That Books Built by Francis Spufford

The Checklist Manifesto by Atul Gawande

I want memoir.

Monique and the Mango Rains: Two Years with a Midwife in Mali by Kris Holloway

Blue Nights by Joan Didion

Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life by Amy Krouse Rosenthal

I want to be inspired.

Picture This by Lynda Barry

Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott

A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle


I do not want to be escorted to another planet or decade or dimension or enter a space ship of any sort or learn a new type of magic.

The end.

October 23, 2011

feel better, little seester!

My littttle sister Betsy is sick.

She has been in the hospital since Thursday night. 😦

She has pancreatitis and can only eat jello and sherbet.

She was supposed to be in a wedding this weekend.

I wish I lived closer so I could go entertain her.

And also, talk to her while she is on morphine. I have had many an amusing conversation while Betsy was under the influence of a certain Schedule V drug called Lyrica… so yes, morphine Betsy is probably an experience worth having.

Feel better, my little schwester!

October 22, 2011

saturday morning no. 186

My downstairs neighbors woke up early to resume the loud argument they began last night.

My darlingest of boyfriends has told me to not, under any circumstance, wake him up early.

(My cat, however, received no such warning.)

My breakfast: half a grilled portabello sandwich from last night’s take out.

My singular task for this morning: to finish reading this book before the library closes at 2.

October 21, 2011

forever undeclared: the ballad of the quarterlife crisis

When I was in high school, I didn’t know what I wanted to study in college.

This made for some arguably misguided college choices (keyword: arguably) as well as many tense conversations with my parents regarding my interests/skills/inability to think critically about my future.

When I was in college, I didn’t know what I wanted to do after college.

This made for two years of living at home with my parents as well as many tense conversations regarding my interests/skills/inability to WANT to work 40 hours/week for the rest of my life.

Should it really surprise you, then, when I tell you that now that I am in grad school, I do not know what to do when I am done?

I was having a brief conversation with one of my managers about my career path. “And what do you want to do?” she asked. “I have no idea!” I answered. I giggled. (I laugh when I don’t know what else to say. I annoy myself in this way.) I said “I should probably figure it out. I’m 26. I am almost done with school. I should probably sit and think for one hour a day about what I want to do with the rest of my life, and keep doing that until I decide.”

I was joking. My manager laughed at me (most people aren’t the kind of people who require extended meditation to make decisions, I’ve found).

But I decided it wasn’t a bad idea.

Since then, I have devoted one of my shiny, empty notebooks to writing little journally things about what I want to do with myself. I schedule myself little 20-minute blocks to write: nothing stressful, nothing major, just a little uh… directed thought exercise.

Don’t worry, I haven’t made any revelations yet, but I’ve been thinking abstractly about what I want from my career and my life, and I’ve brainstormed some “next steps” to take.

My biggest issue is my lack of singular direction. I can “see myself” happy in a number of positions. I could be happy as a young adult librarian, as a children’s librarian, an academic librarian, a school librarian. I could be happy as a book reviewer, an editor, and agent. I could be happy teaching high school. I could be happy teaching college. I could be happy teaching elementary school. I could be happy writing novels. I could be happy writing academic papers. I could be happy writing freelance articles.

Above all, I want to find a position that lives up to the following ideals:

Jessica’s Work Values

1. I would like to work in a field that I feel strongly about.

Right now, this is “children’s literature,” but this is certainly not a limitation. I do, without a doubt, feel strongly about libraries, and even though I might find the day-to-day work of being a librarian less desirable than some other potential jobs, I would still be very happy to work in a field that I support 100%.

As I gain more experience in life, I might find new things to feel passionate about, things I’ve never even heard of right now. But there are also some fields that I will never feel strongly about, and I should avoid… like, uh, the Republican Party. I should probably not accidentally start working for the Republican Party.

2. I would like a position that rewards creativity and successful independent projects.

I do not want to work for an organization that is blindly invested in maintaining the status quo or that disrespects its workers by keeping their duties and job tasks under excessive lock-down. I want to be able to pursue my own initiatives, to make systemic changes, and to try new solutions to old problems.

And if I am successful at what I do? I want to be rewarded.

3. I would like to work in a field or for an organization in which there are opportunities for increased responsibility and career growth.

I don’t want to be stuck in a dead-end position. This doesn’t necessarily have to mean that I want to work for a huge company with lots of room to move up – I just want there to be flexibility, chances to learn new skills or assume new positions, and performance and responsibility-based raises over time.

4. I would like to work almost exclusively with great people.

This is really important.

I don’t need to or want to be best friends with everyone, but I want to work with people who are excited about life and about what they are doing on this planet. With people who are friendly, smart, and have a sense of humor.

5. I would like to work for an organization that respects me as a person with talents and expertise… and with human needs.

Some jobs treat their employees like idiotic peons who don’t have anything of value to say and shouldn’t be involved in 90% of what the organization does.

This rubs me the wrong way. Despite any necessary management hierarchies, I would like to feel like a valuable part of the machinery  – someone who the organization needs, not someone who could be easily replaced or taken advantage of.

Some jobs do not offer reasonable health care, vacation time, maternity benefits, etc. I know this is often a financial decision, but it also reflects a certain level of respect for their employees. Never do I want to work somewhere, for instance, that might fire me for having a health emergency, or going over my vacation allotment, or if my kid is sick or whatever.


What I do is much less important to me than these other intangibles. And while these priorities might make me weird, I think they are the common denominator of my ideal work-life.

So maybe I have no idea where I’m going, but I know what I want it to look like when I get there.

One step at a time.

Ooooone step at a time.

October 20, 2011

when in new england…

… do as the New Englanders do.

It was kind of chilly/overcast… but what better kind of weather to take fancy photos in, my dear?

It didn’t help that my friends and I are just so stunningly attractive.

We picked a 1/2 bushel of apples, but we just kind of randomly picked everything we found.

So when we got home, we spread all the apples out on the counter,

and Lance laughed at us while we held Apple Draft 2011.

Team Roommate/Me ended up with 20+ apples of various shapes, sizes, and flavors.

We still don’t know what they are.

Roommate said it’s like Bertie Bott’s Every-Flavored Apples.

She swears she got one that smelled like a pumpkin.

Better than ear wax, I suppose.

October 17, 2011

2011 National Book Awards

I really look forward to the National Book Award nominations. I think its the bit of suspense – the short list is announced in October and then the winners for each category given in November. Maybe in another life (next year?) I will be able to READ all of the nominees in that short period of time and then be extra-prepared for the exciting announcement.

Anyway, I have read zip, zero, ZILCH of these books.

I have heard only good things about Gary D. Schmidt’s Okay for Now… but I also heard only good things about The Wednesday Wars and I was like “eh,” so maybe he’s just not my style.

I have heard ALL about Chime – great review after great review – and I heard Franny Billingsley speak briefly as she accepted her Boston Globe-Horn Book Honor a few weeks ago, and I have a copy sitting on my bookshelf. But have I read it yet? No.

Flesh & Blood So Cheap by Albert Marrin looks exactly like a book I would love to read – historical with big, shiny photos: like one of my favorite authors, Elizabeth Partridge and all her lovely books. Plus, after considering Phillip Hoose’s work at length, I get a little excited to see juvenile nonfiction back up to bat for the NBA.

I have heard nothing about My Name is Not Easy by Debby Dahl Edwardson or Inside Out & Back Again by Thanhha Lai, but they both seem to be about leaving home and being a cultural outsider. and Inside Out & Back Again? What a cover.

And SPEAKING of what-a-cover… Shine. I’m sure most of you have heard about the nonsense regarding this title. In case you haven’t, Libba Bray puts it… um… quite frankly/awesomely here. For those of you who are not link-clickers or who want to avoid profanity, what happened is this: there was a miscommunication between the NBA judges and everyone else – the everyone else heard “Shine” when the judges said “Chime.” But somehow, this mistake didn’t get caught until AFTER the official announcements, and then a bunch of craziness happened and no, Shine is NOT on the official nominees list.

But I decided to keep it in this post  because A) What the heck, National Book Award? Your PR folks are obviously sub-par and B) When the nominees were announced, this was the book I was most happy to see and most excited to read. So, there it is!

October 14, 2011

Dear 90s,

Maybe I miss you. A little.

Except for the part where my boyfriend just told me he was obsessed with this song:

Not cool, 90s. Not. cool

[Edit: this just happened]

Lance: Why isn’t this video on VH1’s top 100 songs of the 90’s list? That’s all we DID in the 90s!