مرحبا عليكم!

I study languages.

Sunday, January 31, 2010


This is Wikipedia's stock photo of Sidgwick Hall. Enter the main doors in the picture, and on your right you will find a full-length wall mirror. Continue forward, and you run into the bathroom with the push-button shower. Take the left hall from the entrance. My room was on the right side, three or four doors down.
I remember myself wandering across a dimly lit courtyard at midnight to enter a red-and-white roulette lounge at Queens' College in Cambridge at age fifteen. I wore a black-and-white strapless party dress with a thin black lace shrug, impossible heels, and smoky black eye makeup. My nineteen-year-old date had a blue Mohawk and got plastered within a couple hours of my arrival, so I spent most of the night alone. The live band on the dance floor sucked (think Shania Twain playing original pop/rock), so after wandering through poker games, snacking on marshmallow fondue, and gazing into the river Cam from Mathematical Bridge, I ended up sitting on a grassy knoll outside the college in all my party finery watching two equally plastered kids run towards each other in sumo suits before making my way back to my one-room dorm in Sidgwick Hall at Newnham. My single-occupancy bedroom had a deceptive closet that opened to a sink and mirror as well as an English wardrobe and a small bed with a window that looked into the inner courtyard. I never went to church in England, though my best friend Alison, who lived across the hall, never missed her Catholic services and would wheedle me to join her every Saturday night before we went to sleep. Instead, I would sit and enjoy my Sunday mornings in bed curled up in white sheets with literature recommended to me by my gay creative writing professor who enjoys the distinction of managing to sport man-capris before the rest of Europe caught on.

Saturday, January 30, 2010


I love Kurt Vonnegut, and I love short stories, so when I saw this never-before-published compilation of the late author's short fiction, I had to have it (despite a $27.00 hardcover purchase price!). And I was far from disappointed--all 251 pages were devoured within hours of its purchase. The illustrated collection includes 14 imaginative vignettes that, more than anything, showcase Vonnegut's talent for rough and real character development. His enigmatic style manages to infuse the end of each tale with the irresistible urge to scream, keeping the reader guessing until the last punctuation mark falls. The stories range from the fantastic to the dark, the touching to the chilling, each one thickly marbled with the trappings of Vonnegut's minions, Shock and Awe. I can't recommend it highly enough.

My favorites: "A Song for Selma," "Hall of Mirrors," "The Nice Little People," & "Look at the Birdie"

Tuesday, January 26, 2010


I present to you an indignant quote (verbatim!) from a letter to the editor in today's Daily Universe (BYU's official on-campus newspaper):

"BYU dances are made in the image of Babylon with psychedelic strobe lights, darkness, and pulsating noise enough to make your body tremble."

(cue laugh track)
Seriously? No, seriously?

Check it:
1. The reference to "Babylon." Ah, Babylon, the ancient Mesopotamian city-state famous for the precocious development of psychedelic strobe lights. The author fails to mention, though, that the technology died with the Assyrian takeover; Sennacherib never mastered the Macarena and phased out the craze in favor of laying siege to Jerusalem. The downward social spiral continued through Nabopolassar and by the Chaldean era, no one would be caught dead with a rainbow flasher. Oh, you meant the reference as a second-century Biblical metaphor? MY bad.

2. I bet your only experience with the word "psychedelic" is as Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle slang. That is, if you were allowed to watch them as a child. Admittedly, those pizza references walked the nutritional line. *twitch*TRANS FATS*twitch*

3. Darkness. Oh, so you'd rather watch your 30-year-old single male friends do the Funky Chicken to "Cotton Eye Joe" in the LIGHT (inspiration: Elna Baker)? Let's just keep upping the level of "morally offensive," shall we? Eleven IS louder than ten.

4. "Pulsating noise enough to make your body tremble." Props for imagery, man, because every time I walk into a Mormon-approved dance, I too feel like I've just been defibrillated.

Bitter & sweet.

This is baklava as it comes in the Arab world. To the left, you can see the edge of my favorite Arab dessert--kanafe (كنافة)!
(Image courtesy of Google ImageSearch)

One of the reasons I like Arabic is because it's essentially tough love. I'm so used to being put up on some shining pedestal by science professors that it's masochistically satisfying to spend one hour every day receiving criticism. The cracks these classes make in my ego cause me pain, but result in renewal, like I've finally discovered a way to let in some fresh air. And from a logical standpoint, a totally critical approach to language makes sense. If you never know when you're wrong, how are you supposed to improve? Despite my chronically perfect quiz scores, I'm wrong enough times in Arabic to even out my perfect scores in physics, math, and biology combined. Usually, my homework comes back scribbled all over in red pen, repaying me for all those times I've scribbled all over others' work in the same shade.

But today I got a compliment.

On my creative writing assignment, in which I described an alibi for why I could not have stolen the missing baklava (obviously an extremely thought-provoking and insightful piece), Dr. Bradford wrote "Very nice job! You've got great potential." He stopped me after class and told me the same thing--essentially, that my writing shows understanding and has the potential to develop into something great. I was thrilled. By default, I'm better at writing than speaking, regardless of language, and it makes me happy to see that ability carry over to my broken, elementary-school Arabic. Thank you, استاذ دوج. It's a relief to know that someone who knows their stuff has the confidence that with some work, mine might turn out all right.

Monday, January 25, 2010


In the spirit of الساعة الواحدة بعد الضهر , I revisit an old favorite:

Mad Girl's Love Song
Sylvia Plath

I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead;
I lift my lids and all is born again.
(I think I made you up inside my head.)

The stars go waltzing out in blue and red,
And arbitrary blackness gallops in:
I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead.

I dreamed that you bewitched me into bed
And sung me moon-struck, kissed me quite insane.
(I think I made you up inside my head.)

God topples from the sky, hell's fires fade:
Exit seraphim and Satan's men
I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead.

I fancied you'd return the way you said,
But I grow old and I forget your name.
(I think I made you up inside my head.)

I should have loved a thunderbird instead;
At least when spring comes they roar back again.
I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead.
(I think I made you up inside my head.)


In my Evolutionary Psychology textbook, there is a story about a species of frog with an interesting mate selection ritual. While a male frog is sitting innocently on a lily pad, minding his own froggy business, an interested female will silently sneak up behind him. All of a sudden, she'll burst out of hiding and bump into him, hard. Really hard. Enough to push him over. It's a test. If he flinches or runs away, the female moves on. She's seen what she needs to see. But if he doesn't budge, if he remains solidly unfazed by the situation, well, then he's a stable provider.

Sometimes I want to explode out of my silence and run headfirst into people--physically, emotionally, intellectually. I want to run into them so hard it sends them reeling. Or not. Because then it'd be easy to tell who the strong ones are.


"I felt dreadfully inadequate. The trouble was, I had been inadequate all along, I simply hadn't thought about it. The one thing I was good at was winning scholarships and prizes, and that era was coming to an end.

I felt like a racehorse in a world without racetracks or a champion college footballer suddenly confronted by Wall Street and a business suit, his days of glory shrunk to a little gold cup on his mantel with a date engraved on it like the date on a tombstone.

I saw my life branching out before me like the green fig tree in the story.

From the tip of every branch, like a fat purple fig, a wonderful future beckoned and winked. One fig was a husband and a happy home and children, and another fig was Ee Gee, the amazing editor, and another fig was Europe and Africa and South America, and another fig was Constantin and Socrates and Attila and a pack of other lovers with queer names and offbeat professions, and another fig was an Olympic lady crew champion, and beyond and above these figs were many more figs I couldn't quite make out.

I saw myself sitting in the crotch of this fig tree, starving to death, just because I couldn't make up my mind which one of the figs I would choose. I wanted each and every one of them, but choosing one meant losing all the rest, and, as I sat there, unable to decide, the figs began to wrinkle and go black, and, one by one, they plopped to the ground at my feet."

~ Sylvia Plath, "The Bell Jar"

Wednesday, January 20, 2010


I'm not a religious blogger (thank goodness). But I found and liked this poem, and I thought you might too. This is how I see religion, and yes, God. Physically, scientifically, explainably Real. I don't know the title, but it's by John Updike, an American Christian literary critic who died--whoa, Wikipedia--exactly a week from today, last year.

Make no mistake: if He rose at all
it was as His body;
if the cells' dissolution did not reverse, the molecules
reknit, the amino acids rekindle,
the Church will fall.

It was not as the flowers,
each soft Spring recurrent;
it was not as His Spirit in the mouths and fuddled
eyes of the eleven apostles;
it was as His Flesh: ours.

The same hinged thumbs and toes,
the same valved heart
that--pierced--died, withered, paused, and then
regathered out of enduring Might
new strength to enclose.

Let us not mock God with metaphor,
analogy, sidestepping transcendence;
making of the event a parable, a sign painted in the
faded credulity of earlier ages:
let us walk through the door.

The stone is rolled back, not papier-mache,
not a stone in a story,
but the vast rock of materiality that in the slow
grinding of time will eclipse for each of us
the wide light of day.

And if we will have an angel at the tomb,
make it a real angel,
weighty with Max Planck's quanta, vivid with hair,
opaque in the dawn light, robed in real linen,
spun on a definite loom.

Let us not seek to make it less monstrous,
for our own convenience, our own sense of beauty,
lest, awakened in one unthinkable hour, we are
embarrassed by the miracle,
and crushed by remonstrance.

~ John Updike


If I told you I was going to run around hugging and kissing people regardless of gender and age like a sexually ambiguous madwoman, poke and sit on old people, wave my butt in the air to really obnoxious music, and sneak up on small children, would it be socially acceptable?

No. It would not be socially acceptable.
But a furry costume makes all of it okay.

Last week the university mascot came up to my family at a basketball game. It cocked its head to the side and gave my brother a high five. Without warning, it then launched itself into a flying leap toward our laps. Startled, my cousins and I grabbed handfuls of its furry legs to keep it from slamming its Sasquatch-esque body into the hardwood floor. Resisting our efforts, God's gift to cougarkind slowly rolled off onto the floor. "Um, you're falling," my young cousin said into its ear, the awkwardness of talking to a giant cougar as if it were a rational human being compounded by the fact that she was clutching its inner left thigh. It kissed my male cousin. Then it kissed me. Actually, it put its gargantuan head on my shoulder and pointed to his disproportionate cheek, triggering the overwhelming "kiss reflex," which has gotten me into the same kind of trouble at dance parties. I kissed it. Then gagged.

Why is this okay?
(pics courtesy of Google ImageSearch)

In other news, I was walking on campus today between the Marb and the Wilk, skimming the newspaper's cover story on why it is so notoriously impossible to pass Chem 105 and feeling rather happy with myself because I got an A, when I heard a sudden explosion next to me. My first reaction, of course, was to duck and cover like a cracked-out Vietnam vet, but it was raining (man, you never factor in the weather when you think about these kinds of things) and I guess my subconscious didn't want to get wet, so I did this kind of freeze/jerk/twitch-in-the-air thing. I hope it made the day of some depressed academe gazing out of a window in the Kennedy Center after writing yet another paper on how humans are instinctual animals and what we perceive as rationality is merely illusion. Anyway, me and the engineer kid who was walking behind me ran over to the nearest bike rack, where the noise came from, and it turns out that some poor sap's bike tire randomly exploded as I walked past. A fluke? I think not. It was like that scene in The Sandlot where Benny smacks the guts out of the baseball.
Something is going to happen. It has to be an omen. A good one.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

News flash!

My roommate, the beautiful/domestic/athletic/smart/creative Amy Hayden, is officially engaged!

I was summoned home with text messages at 2 AM this morning to find all five of my roommates grouped on one bed, gazing starry-eyed at bridal magazines and honeymoon suite websites. And the ring is sparkly as the bride-to-be.

Congratulations, Amy and Dustin!
You are perfect for each other.

Sunday, January 17, 2010


One of the few things I wish I could sit around and do all day (while eating red velvet cupcakes, of course) is theorize about the most intellectually stimulating drama to hit television. Indulge me.
  • Richard was on the Black Rock. In "Follow the Leader," he is seen building a scale model of the ship in a bottle. "The Incident" (part 1) shows Jacob + Mysterious Friend (later, Anti-Locke?) watching the same ship approach the island.
  • "Dead is dead. You don't get to come back from that" (Ben). John Locke is dead. Christian, similarly, is dead. The man who swears to kill Jacob in the opening scene of "The Incident" has taken Locke's form (Richard notices there's "something different" about (Anti-)Locke when he sees him for the first time since the exodus), and since Alex (the smoke, now in the form of Alex? And Anti-Locke is conveniently out of the picture when Alex appears to Ben) tells Ben to do everything Anti-Locke says without question, and Anti-Locke is out to kill Jacob ("Follow the Leader"), Ben kills Jacob.
  • Juliet is dead (e.g., she's not coming back). She fell on top of a hydrogen bomb. Sawyer's not going to take it well. I think he and Kate will get together at least once more before the series ends (but I think she'll end up with Jack...UNLESS she becomes one of the Adam and Eve skeletons from Season One!). And Ben Linus has to grow up and kill the Dharma Initiative. Whatever happened, happened. Therefore the Dharma peeps have to exist after the detonation. Maybe the detonation already happened. Or maybe the Dharma peeps died in the conflict over the hydrogen bomb, so they ended up dead anyway. But what about little Ben?
  • I think we'll revisit the footage of Faraday crying as he watches the footage of 815 at the bottom of the ocean.

  • Desmond's the constant. Faraday's the variable. Episode 4 of Season 6 is slated to be called "The Substitute." Algebra, anyone?
  • Note character placement in the picture above. Locke, the Resurrected, is Jesus. Sayid, interestingly enough, plays Judas, and there's a skull at his feet. Who is he going to betray? (In keeping with the theme, is it Locke?) There's also a skull at Hurley's feet. Does this mean these two are going to die? (I hope not!! Though the last time we saw Sayid, he was bleeding from a bullet wound to the abdomen and saying, "Nothing can save me.") Kate is Mary Magdalene a la Dan Brown--maybe she will carry someone's child?
  • Um, Ilana. Ties to Ancient Egypt? And Jacob? My theory is he's an Ancient Egyptian pharaoh who found a loophole to eternal life (explains the obsession with hieroglyphics!). "What lies in the shadow of the statue (which holds an ankh in each hand, the ancient Egyptian symbol for eternal life)?" Fun fact: Biblical Jacob is great-great-grandfather to Aaron. WE WILL FIND OUT, BEGINNING FEB. 2.
Favorites: Ben, Richard, Desmond, Sayid, Sawyer (kill 'em, Cuse & Lindelof, and Fabio gets it)

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Just sayin'.

You know, if you're not careful, you might end up alone in the Hogi Yogi parking lot at 10:00 on a Saturday night, eating chocolate ice cream in your car and listening to "Magical Mister Mistoffelees" on Show Tunes Radio because all your friends have boyfriends.

You know.
If you're not careful.

But then this song might come on and make you feel a little bit better.

"You've gotta have heart
All you really need is heart
When the odds are sayin' you'll never win
That's when the grin should start
You've gotta have hope
Mustn't sit around and mope
Nothin's half as bad as it may appear
Wait'll next year and hope
When your luck is battin' zero
Get your chin up off the floor
Mister you can be a hero
You can open any door
There's nothin' to it
But to do it
You've gotta have heart
Miles 'n miles n' miles of heart
Oh, it's fine to be a genius of course
But keep that old horse
Before the cart
First you've gotta have heart."
- Damn Yankees

Friday, January 15, 2010


I'm listening in parasitology lecture, typing quietly so as not to disturb my students as they ask questions about cutaneous larva migrans and Ancylostoma duodenale. I'm giving them a quiz in an hour. They don't know yet.

An acquaintance burst into my face as I was walking to class, beaming with the weight of something to tell me.
"Guess what, Jessica?"
"I learned how Valium works!"
I know how Valium works.
"Really? How does Valium work?"
He fed me resting membrane potentials and chloride ions choppily, excitedly. None of it was coherent; I don't think I'd have understood if I wasn't already familiar with the concepts. My face was a picture of casual concentration, and he grinned in delight when he wrapped up the long-winded discourse.
"I just HAD to share this with you, because I knew you'd appreciate it."
"You were right. I did appreciate it."

And I did. Not because he told me something I didn't know, but because he knew I would appreciate his newly acquired scientific knowledge. It's a good reputation to have.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Look and learn.

Freak, I feel like I'm applying to med school.
I'm not supposed to be this strung out until NEXT year.
Each (separate!!) summer undergraduate research application requires its own set of essays, transcripts, recommendations--the works. I've harangued three professors to within inches of their lives to write for me. I think I'm going to get them gourmet caramel apples from Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory for their trouble.

Carnegie Mellon University
Harvard University
National Institutes of Health
University of Pittsburgh
Johns Hopkins University
New York University
Cornell University
Dartmouth University
Columbia University
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Stanford University
University of California-Los Angeles
University of California-San Diego
University of California-Berkeley
University of Cincinnati
= 15

I'd be happy with ONE acceptance letter.
just one.
Otherwise my summer will be spent working an intellectually dead-end job and going stir-crazy in my house. I haven't spent the summer at home since I was 14.
on second thought, it might be too late for that. *twitch*

Things Working For Me:
Perfect GPA
Some extracurriculars
Recommendations (well, I hope)
Honors, etc.

Things Working Against Me:
Admission odds
Do people hate Mormons?

Tuesday, January 12, 2010


Vera sits on the grey couch between two and five p.m.--after work, but before dinner. Her oversized t-shirt blends into the fabric, except the picture of the kitten in a basket and the words, "Best Friends Animal Sanctuary." Her thick grey hair blends in, too, but her sore thumbs stick out. They stick out because she sews all day, and often pricks them while pushing her needle through thick cloth, like on jackets or snow pants. Vera goes to her night job at eight. She carries plates of steaming meat from the kitchen to the meat-eating slobs who order it. Later she swallows pills and falls asleep to Spanish soap operas even though she only speaks English. The expression on a slighted lover's face is universal.

Sadie sits on the grey couch between seven and nine a.m.--after breakfast, but before Political Science. Everything she does has already been done, but no one seems to notice. She changes around the words in her old award-winning essays to make new award-winning essays. She changes around the words in her old acceptance speeches to make new acceptance speeches. She memorizes things people say and tells them back to the people that said them to her. People follow her around and tell her she's brilliant. She changes the words of her old gracious responses to make new gracious responses. And they love her.

Chelsea watches the people that sit on the grey couch between seven and five p.m.--after Pilates, but before James makes it home. She asks them questions they never really answer, and she writes down their words (or lack thereof) in her little notebook. After work she drives home and cooks a vegetable, a fruit, a starch, and a meat for James. She pours two glasses of milk. When he gets home she tells him she already ate.

~ inspired by a friend.

Sunday, January 10, 2010


I've wanted to post multiple times this week, but I seem to get bogged down in homework and/or apathy before I can write anything of substance. (Not that this post counts.)

Lately, I've been...
  • Writing summer research applications like you wouldn't believe. I spent seven straight hours yesterday writing essays, consolidating recommendation requests, and organizing application materials. I swear, if I don't get in SOMEwhere, another goose is going to find its way into Fabio's face.
  • Enjoying a red velvet cupcake! and chocolate-strawberry frappe! ("Love Potion") from this new place on University Parkway. A group of promotion guys recruited my apartment to come to the grand opening, and I'm so glad we went. The roomies and I even made their website! Well, kind of. In the 6th pic down on the Jan. 9 post, Amanda is ordering, you can see J♥ in the background, and you can catch a glimpse of my hair under the worker's chin. We're famous.
  • Watching my mom arrest an angry old man who yelled at my little brother during a BYU basketball game. My mom's extremely protective of her children, and all it took was for her to see this old guy grab my little brother and yell at him to sit down (with the rest of the crowd, he stood up to cheer after someone nailed an impossible 3) to march right over there in front of the whole stadium with two cops. According to them, she yelled, "DON'T YOU TOUCH MY SON!" twice before the cop had to yell, "BACK OFF, MA'AM!" I'm impressed.
  • Liking my classes. My Shoah class is possibly the best class I've had at BYU so far, and I'm loving Arabic despite daily personal humiliation (he's that kind of teacher). But in the words of Bright Eyes, "Your eyes must do some raining / If you're ever gonna grow." Besides, I'm a masochist. I can take it. Or at least, I think I can. Even Physics doesn't seem so bad. However, I haven't had my optics lab yet (ugh).
  • Sleeping. A lot. Whenever I'm not in class, and then some. With my iPod in. In my soft pink Snuggie. In weeeiiird positions (as usual). My roommates are entertained by my flexibility and often take pictures. I think this is why I have to make myself busy in life. If I don't, I'm liable to sleep ALL FREAKING DAY. And have pictures taken of me with my legs around my neck, which may then be uploaded to Facebook to subsequently deter future employers. Except circus execs. Consider these pics my contortionist application.
  • Applying for a second job. As I said, all this unfilled time is making me crazy. I applied to my favorite Provo restaurant, Spark, but I'm 99.99% sure I won't get in. There were tons of applicants with tons of restaurant experience, and I--well, I don't have any. One plus, though--I may be denied the job, but to apply, I had to memorize every obscure ingredient on the menu. I can now define "tamarind," "aioli," "beurre blanc," and "pepitas." Worth the humiliation of a really bad interview? I think so.
Sorry. I really do have some intelligent things to say. I'll get to them. Sometime.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010


Wow; it seems like I just linked to this video. Was that really a full semester ago?
It's that time again!

First impressions so far:

(اللغة العربية (فصل تاني: My professor is intimidating and impressive. I like his style and want him to like me! As usual, this will be my hardest class (by far).

Evolutionary Psychology: This small honors class is team-taught by three full professors--psychology, anthropology, and evolutionary biology--and sounds satisfactorily cutting-edge. One look at our reading list and I was hooked.

Voices and Legacy of the Shoah (Holocaust): Reading through my professor's strict syllabus initially freaked me out, but then I came to class and remembered that Ophir Yarden taught me well; I knew every answer. This class will be powerful, and our reading list is impressive.

Still to come: Physics (electricity/optics), physics lab (blehhh), and an honors seminar, as well as intermediate skiing. Stay tuned.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Lesson one.

First lesson of 2010: Never spill fake cheese on a cowl neck.

I mildly resemble a hobo today, and I really like it. Un-done hair, eye bags, last night's makeup, a slouchy hat, majorly glam earrings, beat-up jeans, and two zip-up jackets suit me.

maaaaan, i look hung over.

I'm kind of glad that school is going to force me back into a decent schedule. And by decent, I mean I'll be at home and in bed by 2 or 3 AM. I don't think I've gone to sleep before 6 or 7 all break.

party on.

P.S., I just realized that 2010 represents my fourth year as an active participant of the blogosphere. CRAZY.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Booklist 2010.

Books Completed This Year
Recommendation Key:
!  Certified intellectual endorsement
*  Light and fun
x  Not worth it
~  Meh. Okay.
^  School book
  • ! The Bell Jar, Sylvia Plath (1/25) (266 pgs.)
    • Poetic, semi-autobiographical account of a nineteen-year-old's descent into madness
  • * Such a Pretty Fat, Jen Lancaster (1/28) (379 pgs)
    • Hilarious weight-loss memoir of a writer who thinks she's a perfectly pretty fat chick
  • x Wishful Drinking, Carrie Fisher (1/29) (169 pgs.)
    • Comedic addiction-recovery/life memoir by the actress who played Princess Leia
  • ! Look at the Birdie, Kurt Vonnegut (1/30) (251 pgs.)
    • Previously unpublished (and brilliant!) short story compilation; review here
  • ! Sum, David Eagleman (2/1) (110 pgs.)
    • Forty eloquent, creative & provocative vignettes about the afterlife; review here
  • ! If This is a Man, Primo Levi (2/9) (173 pgs.)
    • A brilliant, truthful, and literary memoir of the iconic author's time in Auschwitz
  • ^ What is a Jew?, Rabbi Kertzer (2/11) (321 pgs.)
    • A concise, personable, and friendly introduction to Judaism and its tenets
  • ! The Help, Kathryn Sockett (2/14) (459 pgs.)
    • Southern women in the 1960s raise other ladies' babies and champion truth
  • ! The Drowned and the Saved, Primo Levi (2/17) (203 pgs.)
    • Levi's last; characterized by intellectual, philosophical musings about human nature
  • ! Auschwitz, Miklos Nyiszli (3/7) (300 or so pgs.)
    • This doctor's disturbing account of pseudomedical experimentation is out of print
  • * The Hunger Games, Suzanne Collins (3/10) (400ish)
    • Read this in one sitting--futuristic society ruled by an iron fist with a sadistic bent
  • ! All But My Life, Gerda Weissmann Klein (3/21) (261)
    • Emotional and ultimately optimistic Shoah memoir--rare!
  • ^ Evolutionary Psychology, David Buss (3/26) (477)
    • Very contemporary textbook; technical but interesting; lots of revolutionary studies.
  • * Why Beautiful People Have More Daughters, A. Miller & S. Kanazawa (3/26) (250)
    • A colloquial look at evolutionary psychology. Well-referenced and thorough.
  • ! The Virgin Suicides, Jeffrey Eugenides (4/5) (250)
    • Weird. Five repressed teenage girls commit suicide as neighborhood boys look on.
  • * The Witches, Roald Dahl (4/23) (250ish)
    • A morbidly thrilling childhood favorite; I shivered the whole way through!
  • ! Ender's Game, Orson Scott Card (4/26) (320?)
    • Science fiction thriller with a refreshing amount of respect for children's intelligence
  • ~ The Joy Luck Club, Amy Tan (5/2) (315)
    • Interwoven tales of conflict between Chinese mothers and American-born daughters
  • * Wayside School is Falling Down (5/7) (180)
    • A childhood favorite; thirty interwoven stories of elementary school antics
  • * Catching Fire, Suzanne Collins (5/14) (450?)
    • This sequel to The Hunger Games is just as entertaining. Can't wait for the next one.
  • ! One Second After, William Forstchen (5/20) (400ish)
    • Horrifying post-apocalyptic novel too chillingly real to enjoy. I cried.
  • ! The Road, Cormac McCarthy (5/22) (287)
    • A father and son make their way through ash after the world ends. Disturbing.
  • !!! The Handmaid's Tale, Margaret Atwood (5/26) (400)
    • Brave New World meets feminism gone overboard. Brilliant and provocative.
  • ! The Best of Roald Dahl, Roald Dahl (6/18) (520)
    • My favorite childhood author writes clever, catchy short stories for adults. Loved it.
  • ! 1984, George Orwell (6/24) (312)
    •  Classic, ominous tale of doublethink and Newspeak in a dystopic future.
  • ! Mennonite in a Little Black Dress, Rhoda Janzen (6/24) (241)
    • Giggle-out-loud memoir about Mennonites, heartbreak, and Bob from Gay.com.
  • x The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner, Stephenie Meyer (7/5) (178)
    • At least the characters in "Twilight" distracted me from the quality of the writing.
  • ! The Time Traveler's Wife, Audrey Niffenegger (7/8) (546)
    • Wow, this woman can write a relationship. Captivating theme, vulnerable characters.
  • ! The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, Rebecca Skloot (7/20) (370)
    • Science meets sociology in the story of the woman behind HeLa and her bitter family.
  • ! Both Ways Is The Only Way I Want It, Maile Meloy (7/31) (232)
    • Concise and riveting collection of short stories set in the modern American West.
  • ~ Out of My Mind, Sharon Draper (8/12) (295)
    • An aphasic, physically handicapped narrator finds her voice, literally and figuratively.
  • ! "Disquiet, Please!" More Humor Writing from The New Yorker (8/22) (525)
    • Tongue-in-cheek to laugh-out-loud essay collection spanning eighty years.
  • * Mockingjay, Suzanne Collins (8/26) (400)
    • Grandiose, sad last installment of the only YA series worth reading this year.
  • * The Nanny Diaries, Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus (9/6) (300ish)
    • Engaging, light satire of Upper East Side parents and their trophy children. 
  • !!! A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, Dave Eggers (12/6) (437)
    • Brilliant, self-conscious memoir; crown jewel of the narrative genre. Lives up to its title.
  • ~ A Child Called "It," Dave Pelzer (12/15) (184)
    • A terrible story presented poorly. His prose, though shocking, is anything but engaging.
  • ! Persepolis, Marjane Satrapi (12/31) (135)
    • Graphic novel/memoir of a little rebel's childhood during the Iranian Islamic Revolution.


      I think New Year's is one of those holidays you build up in your mind and then wake up the next morning wondering, "What happened?"

      The f-ship had a formal dress party, which was okay, but nothing memorable. It was supposed to be a small, intimate gathering, which would have been cool, but then some kid brought like 20 random family members, including a married couple and a child (wtf?), and the whole thing went downhill from there. Dinner was very nice, though, and we lit off a whole circle of huge fireworks at midnight. The best part of the night by far was between 2:30 and 6:30 AM, when all the people we didn't know had disappeared and the f-ship sat around and went swimming with our plastered stoner friends, who came over to help us laugh the rest of the night away. After doing all the dishes, I crashed on a friend's bedroom floor only to be awakened circa 11:30 AM by a phone call. Happy 2010.

      Whatever. I have resolutions, or I will by sometime later today, so I'll post them after they've been successfully mentally articulated. Best wishes for a memorable new year. It's off to an marginally interesting start.