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2005-06-23 - 12:01 p.m.

Okay, I want to make something clear, because many people have thought that my last post about the guest room/nursery meant that R and I are even now attempting to make the baby dust. NO! As of now, R and I are attempting to make the dissertation dust, and in a year or so, THEN we shall attempt the baby dust. And also, I'm not really sure where this whole "baby dust" thing comes from, because it sounds frightening and alarming. My potential children are not vampires which crumble upon staking or sunning! And now we see how everything in my life can relate, in some way or other, to Buffy. Oh Joss, why have you abandoned me so cruelly??

Well, I'm out at work, after a big long conversation about blogs. Hello co-workers! This is the madness that is my mind!

I'm stealing this darling meme from the beautiful Luis; go read his answers and then mock him soundly for his Neal Stephenson obsession. But here are my answers regarding BOOKS!

How many books do I own? A shitload. A lot. Enough that I'll never ask a friend to help me move again. Enough to force R to build custom bookshelves in multiple rooms.

What's the last book I bought? At the used bookstore I bought these three Anne books, relieving my girlhood and seeing Anne Shirley growing to adulthood through different eyes. I also picked up Five Quarters of the Orange by Joanne Harris, which, there are no words for how good this book is. I loved it more than her previous Chocolat, and am now considering whether to go on a Harris kick and read everything she's written or parcel her out over a period of a couple years. We'll see how long my resolve lasts. HAR-HAR!

What's the last book I read? The aforementioned Five Quarters of the Orange. I'm also working my way through Annie Dillard's incomparably gorgeous Pilgrim at Tinker Creek. I have never done this, but I find myself hoarding this book, only allowing myself short dips. It is possibly the most incredible book I have ever read. There is something on each and every page that astounds me, that breaks my heart. I find myself living life differently reading this, and it fosters a bitter and inescapable longing to leave my life behind and head off to isolation, to the shore or to a mountain lookout, in order, as Thoreau said, to figure out how to live. Only Dillard's prose is superior to Thoreau's in every single way. Every. Single. Way.

What 5 books mean the most to me? Much like Luis, I imagine this answer would change every single day. So here's today's five: Dante's Divine Comedy. This cannot come as a shock to anyone. I find myself going back to Dante whenever I've lost myself, and he always shows me the way back. I love him for his zealotry, which is a sentence I never thought I'd write, but it's true. I love him for his single-mindedness, his devotion to God, and his limitless and unquenchable compassion.

The Gary Snyder Reader. I've been all into Gary Snyder for the past couple years. He's taught me so much about environmentalism and love and my citizenship in North America, in the land, in this strange and beautiful Turtle Island. I love his writings about Humboldt--it's almost like going home. I probably read something from this book once a week.

Anne of Green Gables. I don't think I'd be who I am today without the Anne series from L.M. Montgomery. Anne gave me permission to be who I am when I was living in Southern California, a place not known for its acceptance of the slightly odd. Now that I'm older, I'm revisiting these books with a different eye. I love going back and reading childhood books as an adult--I see so much more than I ever could have guessed as a child.

And my last book would have to be Dillard's Pilgrim at Tinker Creek. I find myself changed every time I open it up. Dillard is showing me how to engage in the struggle to live fully in the present. She's showing me how to use my senses. She's also creating a major longing for country life, for the slow pace of long evening walks and days spent out under the trees and by the creek. She's reminding me of my place in the world, of my connection to all life, past and present. What a game, this circle we dance, going around and around, blindly bumping into each other, all because we are too busy to stop and look.

That's it for today. Grilled chicken screed coming, I promise. And lo, it shall be good, so as to live up to the heightened anticipation I have built in you all.

ETA: I realized I only put in four books. Math was really never my strong suit. So I guess I'll put down Pride and Prejudice, along with the rest of the Austen oeuvre. Austen informed my feminist sensibilities at an early age. She taught me that one might not be able to choose one's situation, but can always choose one's reaction. More than anyone else, I look to Austen as a model for how to be an effective writer. She's truly a master of the craft; there are no words in Austen that do not belong, no character lacking purpose. Slipping back into P&P is like reuniting with a best friend. Everytime I read Austen I find something new, whether in the novel or in myself.


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