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Showing posts from July, 2013

Ellen Ternan was not a gold-digging trollop

Do you think the Victorians were so overrun with sentimentality that nothing really meant anything?

"My dearest darling, for so you have been thought of by me from the dark reaches of the past and shall be to the ever distant future — may my heartfelt greetings light upon your soul soft as the brush of the wings of those that serve Him on high."

"Oh, Mavis says hello."

I finished The Invisible Woman, which is Claire Tomalin's 1990 biography of Nell Ternan, Dickens's mistress. I've been working on it since January. It is not a long book.




Claire Tomalin's so respectable. I don't even know if that's true, but she writes like she is.The reason Ellen Ternan is the Invisible Woman is GOOD LORD THERE'S SO LITTLE INFO ABOUT HER. This is mainly because back in the day, what did you do if you wanted to erase someone? You just -- burned their letters. Poof. Gone. We have no letters from Dickens to Nell, and only a few references, mostly coded. Using pr…

The Weekend + Hiking in the Dunes, and I promise this isn't turning into a travel blog

It is the 29th. And I am SO CLOSE TO FINISHING LIKE THREE BOOKS. I'm determined at least some of these will happen before the end of July, or this shall be a very lackluster summer, reading-wise. But the weekend seems to have just ZOOMED by, which I know is a cliche, but that is the pace at which it went. So thanks, ACCURACY.

While trying to finish Invisible Woman -- which is about Nell Ternan and Dickens and I have been working on it since January don't worry about it -- and Rose of No Man's Land -- by Michelle Tea, who is like if you had an author and made her an amazing author -- and The Gifts of the Jews -- which I was maybe supposed to finish for church small group and then none of us really finished the reading because we never do we just sit around and eat Thai food and chat -- so while trying to finish all these this weekend, and making some slight headway, I had to go to the Art Institute with my lovely friends from college, Hannah and Nahree and then tea and the…

I might have acquired some more books maybe and by maybe I mean that definitely happened

I seem to be developing a canker sore. Add that to not being able to walk due to the ILL-FATED MOVE of trying to run for the first time in a year up a hill in Washington state, plus the slow realization that eating crumpets coated in Nutella and ricotta cheese will NOT in fact help me lose weight, and I am just in stellar shape body-wise right now.



What other vestiges are there of my trip? Oh, nothing. Just the FIVE BOOKS I BOUGHT IN SEATTLE.


From the bottom: The Underground tour that I recommend to all ends with a FANTASTIC GIFT SHOP. In this shop they had not one, not two, but MANY MANY books on women in the Pacific Northwest. I limited myself to two of them. One is about "Untamed Women of the Olympic Wilderness" —


And the other is Good Time Girls of the Alaska-Yukon Gold Rush, which I am QUITE psyched about. First sentence: "The red light district of Fairbanks, Alaska, was once hailed as the best in the West." How can you not want to read more? YOU HAVE TO KEEP GO…

Seattle: Where Everyone Has a Kickass Tattoo

A couple months ago, everything in my life seemed to be pointing towards Seattle. And I was suddenly dying to go there. "But HOW?" I despaired. There was yelling at people on Twitter for living near me and not thousands of miles across the country. There were sad Google Image searches of "seattle water." And there was finally the realization that I not only knew someone who lived there, but she was my awesome college roommate I used to bake weekly cakes for and who tolerated my one-person Meryl Streep Film Fest 2006.

She said she could take me in, I bought a plane ticket, and bam. Second time on the West Coast. If you live in the Midwest, going to the East Coast seems normal. It's like a two hour flight, and most people here CAME from there. The West is weird and scary and you have to fly over what my brain terms "nothing" but which is in fact states like Nebraska, Montana and Idaho (...there's stuff in those, right?).

So I get out there, Becky ha…

Back from Seattle and Dad Is Fat

I'VE LIVED OFF MY PHONE FOR THREE DAYS HOW ARE YOU GUYS

And actually I can get most shit done on my phone. By which I mean social networking. As that is how I primarily internet. So for those of you who follow me on Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr and Instagram (WHICH IS SOME OF YOU I'M NOT SICK OF YOU YET ARE YOU SICK OF ME), you're fully aware of how I spent basically all my time in Seattle. But for those of you who have somehow managed to AVOID this situation, I will post (to..morrow?) about my awesome, Pacificky trip.

I also read Dad Is Fat.

So. I've been a fan of Jim Gaffigan since about 2002 when Comedy Central Presents was a big (in my world) thing. That's how I discovered Maria Bamford and Kathleen Madigan, too. I have some Serious Standup Comedy feelings, and it's mainly about those three (but has since been expanded to include John Mulaney, Louis CK, Tig Notaro and some Patton Oswalt). They managed to be a part of the tail-end of my childhood, which means t…

Hiking, Plus Also Margaret Atwood Is Not Terrible

I went to the library last night.



I am now ONE book away from my checkout limit of 30 (did I mention how I haven't been reading at all? yeah? okay), but I'm returning Cheryl Strayed's Wild today, so that'll completely solve that problem.

Speaking of that book, BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO. I got as far as "It had begun before I even imagined it, precisely four years, seven months, and three days before, when I'd stood in a little room at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, and learned that my mother was going to die."

THAT IS WHAT YOU WRITE WHEN YOU ARE A TERRIBLE WRITER. Or writing a book liked by moms who're shopping in the book department at Target.

And yeah. Admittedly, that's only like four pages in. But do you know how many really really good books are out there written by really really good writers? Yeah. So no.

So the opposite of that book is The Handmaid's Tale, which is teetering between pretty damn amazing, and allllso maybe mainly politica…

I have many leather-bound books and my apartment smells of rich mahogany

So TIKA visited, and it was mightily fun and we looked at art and started Orange Is the New Black and ate ice cream. I recommend that you meet her.

I've been reading basically nothing. Just...nothing. Because SUMMER amirite? Chicagoans get shit done in the winter because we can't go outside. Then we CAN and it's voooooooom!


Also I am going to SEATTLE in two days, where I shall look at sea creatures and marvel at their badass library and hopefully eat all the donuts they have. I'm staying with one of my college roommates, who I knew was going to be a good egg because 1) She was into the '95 P&P, and 2) When I was moving my stuff into the apartment, she was already there, watching the X-Files pilot episode. Which we both have memorized. She also supported and grew my love of Anchorman




She has a broken foot, but I shall be WHEELING HER AROUND the EMP Museum, which is Seattle's sci-fi/music/pop culture museum that has wheelchairs you can borrow (I called ahead)…

If you insult Narnia, I will come at you

You know how when you watch something during your childhood, it can become enshrined as this hallowed, Is Perfect Forever sort of thing? Even when if you watched it nowadays you'd be like "Well this is just made of garbage monkeys"?

I have a RIDICULOUS attachment to the BBC/Wonderworks movie versions of the first four Chronicles of Narnia. And no, don't start referencing that cartoon shit. I didn't watch it and I'm too old to care about it now. But THE BBC VERSION was low budget, had cartoon animals in a live action setting (always a winner) and made this girl its star:


My brothers and I got the tapes for Easter one year and never looked back. If anyone insults that version, I will leap on their back like an angry puma. I DON'T CARE IF ASLAN IS A GIANT PUPPET -- he's the best giant puppet. And whoever does his voice is basically the voice of God to me. I can't even look it up, because it'll ruin EVERYTHING. Liam Neeson did the voiceover for Asl…

When all else fails, authorial action figures

I just imagined that author action figures existed and got REALLY EXCITED because omg Elizabeth Barrett Browning/Robert Browning would live on my bookshelf, signifying their absorption in each other and her longstanding separation from the world due to being an INVALID, and George Eliot would be roommates with C.S. Lewis, because that would be hilarious, and the Bronte sisters would live in a corner behind a wall made by a propped-up notebook which they would peep over every now and then and then write furiously about the cold cold wind and tortured men until Steinbeck was like "OMG IT'S 80 DEGREES OUT AND THE BAND LMFAO EXISTS WHAT'RE YOU DOING."

Yes, I know about the Jane Austen action figure. It's not enough.

In my Jane Austen/Charlotte Bronte roommate situation, they never have a bonding moment which bridges their differences and causes them to go from animus-filled enemies to bosom chums. They just hate each other. And FOR SERIOUS. Wasn't Austen supposed …

Mary Wollstonecraft: Partypants or Lame-O?

I enjoy my parents. If only because at one point yesterday, our conversation led to me obstinately declaring that Thomas Jefferson was known as "Weenie Jefferson" by all who knew him (my mom's a big Jefferson fan and he is A TOOL).

John Adams is the best forever and ever, even if he did basically go "Hahahahaha Nabby you are so funny" when she said "Remember the ladies."



I'm almost halfway through Vindication of the Rights of Woman by Mary Wollstonecraft and it is SHORT but it is taking me forever because it has sentences like:

Vainly then do they beat and foam, restrained by the power that confines the struggling planets in their orbits, matter yields to the great governing Spirit.
LOOK THAT IS JUST NOT GOOD WRITING OKAY. Commas: I do not think you know how to use them. You were JUST talking about "they" and now it's "matter" which is DIFFERENT and fix your sentence structure, Wollstonecraft.

I mean, a lot of the time she says…

Beverly Sills was Beverly Awesome

Today is the sixth anniversary of Beverly Sills's death. This doesn't really have to do with books, except she's the only opera singer I know of to have written TWO autobiographies, both of which I used to collect copies of.



Beverly Sills was a major factor in me wanting to go into opera. I first wanted to be an opera singer when I was 13, and Beverly Sills became my Favorite Person I'd Never Met when I was 14. My life goals for the next eight years were:

1. Become an opera singer
2. Meet Beverly Sills
3. Have a family

When she died, I got more messages of condolence than when any of my actual grandparents died.

I'm doing this post because I mentioned to Doug this morning that it was the anniversary of her death, and he said "Who's Beverly Sills?" which at pretty much any other point in my life, no one would've asked me. Because I talked about her all. the. time.

She was hilarious. She was awesome. She was the best singer I've ever heard, and sa…

July Shall Be Conquered Like Waterloo

Lawyers, you guys. Lawyers. I'm so into them. But SPECIFICALLY lawyers who argue in front of a judge and not a jury, because people are dumb and we're easily swayed by dumb things. But lawyers arguing in front of JUDGES are like "Well, I understand that the burden of proof is on us, but I believe we have more than adequately met burden of proof. Sui generis! Proffered! Fun lawyer words!"

Also they have to cite case law and mmmm.

One of my brothers and I drive other people in-sane because we argue using rationality and frustratingly specific references to what the other person has said in the past, but when we argue TOGETHER it can be the best because we're the only people that that style of argument doesn't annoy. Except lawyers. So hearing courtroom arguments where it's their job to do this makes me very happy. "YES. APPEAL TO LOGIC AND NOT EMOTION" say I with delight as they coldly cite precedent. "EMOTION IS FOR WIMPS."

Also, hey, h…