annie is my new best friend

I began reading The Shipping News by E. Annie Proulx this morning on the bus. Only four pages into it, I am entranced by Proulx's elegance with words. Here are the first two paragraphs - the best opening to a book I have read in a long time.

"Here is an account of a few years in the life of Quoyle, born in Brooklyn and raised in a shuffle of dreary upstate towns.
Hive-spangled, gut roaring with gas and cramp, he survived childhood; at the state university, hand clapped over his chin, he camouflaged torment with smiles and silence. Stumbled through his twenties and into his thirties learning to separate his feelings from his life, counting on nothing. He ate prodigiously, liked a ham knuckle, buttered spuds."

I've read some of her short stories before, just a few. I felt the sort of kinship that a Montanan feels for someone who lives in Wyoming. The feeling that they pretty much understand what it's like. And the respect for a woman who can live in such a quiet place and write. Someday I hope to have that much focus and ability to embrace the calm.


protesting objective origins

This article about Darby students protesting the new "objective origins" curriculum basically speaks for itself. I just want to say I'm glad they are protesting it. My high school was not far from Darby, and they weren't allowed to teach evil theories of evolution at our school either. And this was in the 90's - not exactly new "theories" at the time. A high school biology teacher taught it to us anyway - as a biologist you can't really pretend evolution doesn't exist. Sometimes I miss Montana. But sometimes, I really really don't.


on the low

I don't have the ability to post an mp3 on this low-tech blog, so you'll have to take matters into your own hands.

Go find and download "On the Low" from Hope Sandoval's Bavarian Fruit Bread album. Even better, purchase the album and support that incredible voice. Press play. Turn the lights off or close your eyes. The song is an empty highway in Montana at 3 AM. A dimly lit truck stop miles from anywhere and a chipped mug of strong bitter coffee. One tired waitress in the whole place, shifting from foot to foot and awaiting the end of her graveyard shift. She greets the regulars by name as they come in; they bring with them the smell of the clear clean cool summer night air. Every so often, a glimpse of the red-eyed cook, pushing another plate of ham and eggs or biscuits and gravy over the counter from the kitchen. There's anticipation for the coming day; you're not a trucker so you are on your way somewhere. A break in the routine. But listen to that music. Right now, that's all there is. Calm, mellow, a little bit sad. No matter how much life may change, there will always be that truckstop, somewhere. Lots of them, actually, wherever you need them. Granted, usually they now sound the clinking of nickel keno machines rather than the blues. So, bring headphones.


scary advertising

I am a bit behind the times with television, and only just recently have had the bad luck to actually witness the spongmonkey Quizno's ad. They give me the creeps. They are disturbing. But somehow, it's got to be a good thing to allow the mainstream to get weirder and weirder, right? Allowing for more artistic freedom and that sort of thing? Or something like that.

Speaking of delightful weirdness, if you didn't see the Triplets of Belleville yet, go see it if possible! Or rent it later! But it definitely deserves watching. A French animated movie with no dialogue, it's wonderfully creative and new, while being in an older style of animation that brings Betty Boop and Tex Avery to mind. Beautifully done film, disturbing and surreal, and it has a fabulous soundtrack - I wish I could go watch it again.


evidence of a more global economy

It is hard for me to believe that one single cow in the tiny town of Mabton, Washington (which we drive past every trip back to Walla Walla) can affect the entire market of the "ultimate king of fast food in Japan." I haven't eaten beef in ages, but reading this heartfelt article about the citizens of Tokyo bidding goodbye to their beloved gyudon has made me very hungry. Although ginger pork and spicy pork substitutes sure sound appetizing to me as well. Food is one of the most important and enjoyable aspects of life to me, and I can't wait to experience a whole new range of it. Especially strawberry candy bars and sandwiches! I've just finished reading Kitchen by Banana Yoshimoto, and the food was such a central part of that story. I recommend it - it's a quick read and a beautiful story, and the scene in which the heroine is scaling a cold rainy hotel exterior at night with a take-out tonkatsu in her backpack to deliver to her hungry, lonesome, unsuspecting friend is completely magical. So, now you know the way to my heart...


i just don't get it

I didn't witness the incident in question, I don't have TiVo, I didn't watch the superbowl, I didn't search for photos of it online. But here are some insightful looks at some recent news. Ten Things: Tits (found via dooce) has some particularly interesting statistics and observations. And Anna at little red boat gives us her (as usual) funny and quirky perspective on us Yanks, and has increased my British slang knowledge by tenfold in this one entry.


friday five

1. Are you superstitious?

Maybe slightly. I don't believe most of them, but I am willing to give the benefit of the doubt to certain practices.

2. What extremes have you heard of someone going to in the name of superstition?

This is more a folk remedy, but I know someone whose mother put chewed-up garlic in her ears, eyes, nose, and mouth when she was a child and had chicken pox, because chicken pox doesn't like garlic. Poor kid.

3. Believer or not, what's your favorite superstition?

Well, the black cat superstition is reversed for me - they've so far been good luck.

4. Do you believe in luck? If yes, do you have a lucky number/article of clothing/ritual?

I do - I have a pouch of lucky pennies and other lucky articles I always have with me, and I wear a necklace that I never take off. Don't know if I would consider it bad luck not to have it, but I feel wrong without it.

5. Do you believe in astrology? Why or why not?

I know my star sign fits me very well (Taurus) and I know my husband's fits him very well (Gemini), and I know some horoscopes are sometimes right and sometimes not at all. I don't believe the daily horoscope things, but I do think there's something to the significance of the time of your birth.


and I thought I was nervous before

We just got the letters from JET - we both have interviews next week! Yikes! That is not very much notice! I have to buy some nice shoes and see if my suit still fits after 3 years of not having worn it and dye my hair a less bright red color and practice interview questions and prepare a sample introduction and lesson and figure out where the interview will be and call for the date and time and get the day off work and - AAAHHHHHHHHHH!



why there will never be an "average jane" tv show

I don't remember how I found this post on Furhouse's blog (it was via someone else's blog but I can't find it again). I really like what she has to say. She says a lot that I have always wanted to say about the gender-based double standards in the media regarding looks, and she's got some good insights about the weight issues that all women I've ever known deal with and dealt with especially during high school and college. And yes, someone at some party in high school asked me how much I weighed as well. Don't people have anything better to think about?



My immune system is incredibly predictable. If I go a few days with little sleep, eating badly, and feeling stressed (a combination that often goes together) I will get sick if exposed to germs during that time. Luckily, my immune system is also pretty resilient, and if I sleep a LOT, take vitamin C and echinacea, and eat good food, I can usually kick it before it settles in.

I'm going home and going to bed now.


waiting by the mailbox

Letters supposedly will be sent out this week to those who have interviews for the JET program. I am not good at the patience thing. I want to know! Now! But, if we get the interviews, the next 6 months will be waiting also, because you don't find out placement locations until a few weeks before departure. Crazy. And difficult to plan around the circumstances of us both hoping to end up in the same place, and what to do if we don't. It's not guaranteed, although it's pretty likely. Argh. Too much waiting.