Ay! 8 hours?

I heard recently that we Americans watch, on average, eight hours of television per day. On average? Eight hours? How is this possible?

We sleep 8 hours, work 8 hours, and watch TV 8 hours? I'm dumbfounded. I just cannot imagine doing that without going into seizures.

Don't get me wrong. I did go through a phase of my life when I was a couch potato (the first twenty years). A friend of mine and I even changed the words to the old Beach Boys song, "Wouldn't it be Nice" from,

"Wouldn't it be nice if we were older
Then we wouldn't have to wait so long"


"Wouldn't it be nice if we were crippled
and we didn't have to go outside"

But, even then, I couldn't have averaged more than four hours a day. I would make resolutions to, say, watch all of the "Star Wars" trilogy or the entire "Dukes of Hazzard" marathon, but I never followed through. It was just impossible. I think the most television I ever watched was my last vacation to California, at the ol' family home, where I discovered there is now an entire channel devoted to real estate deals. Real estate! Can you believe it? Fascinating. I couldn't walk away. Someone finally convinced me I needed to sleep. It was like it just hypnotized me.

That must be it. Everyone is just hypnotized. Beware!

I've been reading this horror novel, Drood, that deals a lot with hypnotism, except he describes it as, "magnetism," as though the magnetic field in your body had something to do with it... and then there's Nikken, but that's another story.

(Afterthought: it just wouldn't be complete without TV.)

Quotable Quotes

I was subbing for Sophomore English today when the girl I call in my mind, 'Really Smart, Really Loud Girl' said,

"Don't take this personally or anything, but..." I always cringe when they start like this, because it's always personal and never good, "Don't take this personally or anything, but you have a very young voice, like it's very high and makes you sound young."

Not so bad!

"Yeah," I said, "when I call people on the phone, they always think I'm younger than I am." Class had just started and I was handing out papers.

"You should start smoking or something, get your voice all raspy," said another student.

"It works out when you're young," I went on about my voice, "like your age, but it gets old later when you want to be taken seriously."

As I went around the room, passing out papers, the students were all suddenly paying attention to me, some of them with their mouths open in shock and some laughing a little. Really Smart, Really Loud Girl said,

"Smoking works out when you're young, but gets old later...?"

"We should smoke now, when we're young?" inquired another corruptible young soul.

"You just said we should smoke while we're young?"

"OH, NO! OH, GOD, NO! DON'T QUOTE ME AS SAYING THAT! I meant having a young VOICE works out when you're young!"

Suddenly, a cigarette didn't sound so bad. At least I didn't let a dog in the school today.

Write it down, make it happen! Yeah!

I went through a stage in my twenties when I read a lot of quackery. One book I read was called, "Write It Down, Make It Happen". Don't bother reading it. The gist of it is, write things down that you want to happen, and these things will actually happen. I think I got it for a penny from the Book of the Month Club.

It was there, so I read it. I thought I would write something down and make it happen. My dream at the time was to be a published author. So, quite modestly, I wrote down,

"I will win the Nobel Prize for Literature."

I waited a few weeks. It didn't happen. I thought I might try a goal more readily within reach, and so I wrote,

"I will make money from my writings."

Years passed. Nothing happened. I forgot all about it- until just recently, when something made me remember.

You may have noticed recently that I've sold out. I have a little Google Advertisement box over there to the right☞ and up☝.This advertisement actually pays me for my writings here. And so, what I wrote down has finally happened! I'm being paid "money" for "my writings"! I've actually been paid 61 cents for two weeks of writings!!!

Hm... In retrospect, I should have been more specific:

"I will make $10,000 per month, post taxes, from writing ten minutes per day, for the rest of my life."

Ah, me. Hindsight is golden.

How to Curse in Swedish: A Primer

This entry is entirely immature in nature, and therefore only intended for adult readers.

Those of you who know me well know that I speak a little Swedish. Once fluent, my vocabulary has now declined somewhat, but I still remember the first words I learned: the swear words.

Swearing is not such a big deal in Sweden. Like anywhere, it makes you sound cheap and stupid to curse, and yet it is strangely satisfying in a very juvenile way. But no one pays attention to you at all there. There don't seem to be any rules about it, unless I missed something. Here in the U.S., for instance, one cannot swear on the radio. We also don't see naked ladies at the quicky mart check-out- the tattas are covered in brown paper here, and you have to get them from behind the counter. Not so in Sweden. But I digress.

Fuck! = Fy fan! (Literally, you are invoking the devil. Pronounced "fee fawn".)
the fuck = fan (so, "What the fuck is that?" would be, "Vad fan är det för nåt?")
Fuck! = Gävlar (the devils, pronounced "yevlar")
Fuck you! = Dra åt helvete (pronounced, "draw oat hellvayta" - you're telling them to go to hell. Don't use this one!)
fucking = Gävla
shit! = skit (pronounced almost just the same as "shit", but with this sort of glutteral sound if you live in Dalarna, where I lived)
asshole = skitstövel (pronounced sort of like "shitstuvlar". That ö is always pronounced like the /u/ in fur. It's tricky. Literally, this means "shitboot", so instead of calling someone an "asshole," you call them a "shitboot")
Cock = kuk (I'm not clear how to say it.)

I don't know about the rest. I don't know of a word for "bitch," just "dog", "hund". Lastly, for the die hard South Park fans,

Not without my anus = Inte utan min analöpning (pronounced "eentay ootawn meen analupneeng").

Friday Farm Functionals: The amazing things you can receive in the mail

Well, no voting on the type of chicken, because Tender Lovin' Banjo Player and I completely agree on which type we like, The Brahma Chicken:

They lay good eggs, they taste good, and they have super cute feathers on their feet! What more could you want in a chicken?

The question is really about the means of obtaining them.

Did you know that you can order chickens and ducks through the mail? This just blows my mind. I feel like maybe I want to try it, just because I find it so unimaginable. A live animal in the mail? They send a whole bunch together, actually. Minimum order: ten.

Holy cow.

Should we do it?

*Other people's सतोरिएस: Zgjenyue

Well, sort of my story, too. My friend **Jennifer and I (I have trouble writing "Jennifer" because I have always inexplicably called her "Zgjenyue," but I'll try Jennifer out for size here, for once)-- where was I? I was going to say, we go way back to when we were eleven years old.

We were in gym class, in sixth grade, and we were supposed to run a mile, according to Mr. Robb, our super duper smart gym teacher. Zgjenyue, me, and Gabe were the last to come in. When I say last, I mean the whole class lapped us. The other kids were changing clothes already, and we were just finishing our mile. The three of us had spent the last half mile or so in deep, thought-provoking conversation (don't ask me what we were talking about), strolling along at a leisurely pace. When we reached the finish line, Mr. Robb took the opportunity to yell at us, at length, about what lazy good-for-nothings we were. I think we had taken sixteen minutes to "run" the mile. I remember him saying,

"Sixteen minutes! Sixteen minutes! I could WALK OVER A MILE in SIXTEEN minutes!!!"

He was absolutely turning red. I was completely mortified. How did I lose track of time like that? Until I heard this little snicker beside me.

Jennifer was laughing at him.

And that was the beginning of a beautiful friendship. Four hundred years later, we're still friends. Isn't that sweet?

Here's a short film by Jennifer:

I think it's marvelous. Someone suggested that it's a whole new genre, "found film". I agree.

* I realize the title is all messed up, inexplicably, but Zgjenyue is all about the inexplicable, so I'm leaving it.

** I also realized that I totally messed up her name, being inconsistent throughout, but I'm all about inconsistency, so I'm leaving it.

Ethnic Doll Clothes

There's this shop in town that specializes in ethnic doll clothes. It's in a very expensive part of town. I tried to take a picture of it while I was walking by, but it didn't turn out so hot:

I'm just posting it so you believe me it exists. I can barely believe it exists. It seems like the most tragically doomed business idea I can think of. In all my *400-plus years of living, I have never, never once heard someone say,

"You know what I'd really like? I'd like some hand-woven ethnic doll clothes that fit my American Girl doll."

I'm not saying it couldn't happen, but it's just unlikely.

And yet, there they are. In business. Either it's a front for a drug cartel, or I'm just plain wrong.

*within an order of magnitude

Best Craigslist Ad Ever

This is from YousuckatCraigslist, but it doesn't suck at all. It totally rules, as we used to say in 1988:

"Clown for Kicks
I am looking for someone to dress up like a Clown and hang out with me. I would cook you diner – or we could BBQ something. I’m interested in making my neighbor lady wonder. I have already had a man in a panda costume last month – and also had a heard of sheep come in for the day to cut the grass. (sheep do a good job by the way). A clown would be something.
Maybe you could bring some balloons – or make balloon animals to hang in my tree. I’d like to have this done some evening between 6pm and dark. The longer you can stay the better (like if you could stay for the whole 3 hours). Do you have any tricks you could do?
Like I said – I could cook diner and get you drunk – I’d even be willing to pay your cab fare to and from. I don’t have much to offer – and my neighbor lady is driving me nuts – so I want to drive her nuts. If you had a Mime friend – it would be cool to see you two chase each other around the yard or do relay races while I time you.
Let me know your thoughts
– open to Men and Women Clowns."

I especially liked the bit about the sheep.

Friday functionals: Sheep!

Yes, it does seem like sheep are truly a necessity for a sheep farm. However, there are those who just hire out their services as sheep barbers, sheep butchers, sheep hair washers, yarn processors, wool processors, or even those who just rent out their land for grazing. Of all of the above, I'd be most interested in the yarn processing. Overall, though, I think it would be good to start with sheep of our own. Don't you?

But what kind? They're all so cute. (I know this is a silly reason for wanting a certain type of animal, but I'm a silly person.)

Here is a sampling of a few of the many breeds of sheep which give good wool (according to "Storey's Guide to Raising Sheep"):

The Barbados Blackbelly

In addition to being a very sophisticated looking sheep, and having a name with great alliteration (which is very important to me), they breed twice a year and are very tolerant of heat. Hm... heat tolerance isn't very important around here.

Bluefaced Leicester

These babies have some of the "finest longwool fleeces (56s-60s count), which is semi lustrous, with a silky handle and pencil locks." (p. 34 of Storey's Guide) Very sexy, no?


Cormos are from Tasmania. That's cool. I wonder if they have them in the U.S.? According to the guide, they have "fine, well-crimped wool, excellent conformation, fast growth, high fertility, and the ability to thrive in areas of heavy snowfall [that's us!], severe climatic conditions [us again!], and rough terrain." (42)


Dorsets have good wool for hand-spinning, but I think I mostly just like them for their curly horns.


Icelandic Sheep do well on small farms, have good meat as well as good wool for hand-spinning, but most of all, they are clearly adorable. I hear they have been imported to Canada, too, so they are on our continent. Yay!

Licoln Longwool

Called so because Abe Lincoln raised them, of course. Duh. Oh, wait. It says here... whoops. They are from Lincolnshire, England. Right. I knew that.

These ones are funny because, even though they have all that fur, they get cold easily, because their fur parts in the middle down their backs. When it rains on them, they get wet and catch a chill. Poor babies. (Those two gentleman in the picture look very impressed, don't they?)

So, minions, cast your vote! Do we need sheep? What kind of sheep do we need? Obviously, there are many more than what I just listed. I just thought I'd give a taste.

Friday functionals: a new series for the mindless minion

Our new rural lifestyle will require some new purchases. What do we need? Well, since we're Americans, we'll need two of everything. But money doesn't grow on trees, so we'll have to do with the bare necessities. It will fall on you, dear fellow minions, to let us know what we need, and what we just want. Every Friday I will feature a new item that we may or may not need for the farm, and it will be your job to tell me if it is truly necessary. Are you ready? I'm posting this on a Thursday in a lame attempt to build suspense.

I can't wait until tomorrow, when I can beseech your wise counsel with alliteration.

Your Blog is Awesome!

Christina is gaining a lot of good karma with her blog, Your Blog is Awesome!, which simply celebrates other people's blogs. I love it! I swear I don't just like it because she featured my blog, although I'd like to thank her kindly for putting all good taste and decency aside and doing so! No, truly, I've already found *some blogs I very much enjoy there. You should check it out.

* My favorite is this one, which is just pictures of objects that look like faces.

Eccentricities: Little Z

She likes to wear this dog costume instead of a coat. That sort of devil-may-care fashion statement reminds me of this woman Grandma Ruth knew, who wore wigs like hats. She had several and wore a different one every day.

It also reminds me of The Flaming Lips.

My little rock star.

Someday, I'll say to her,

"When you were little, you wore a doggy suit as regular clothes, sort of like a coat."

And what will she say?

Stovepipes gone wild

Buying this farm has been a little stressing lately. (That's what Swedish people say a lot when they speak English, "It was stressing". It makes more sense if you think in Swedish. Incidentally, the Swedish Chef in the Muppet Show only ever said two real words in Swedish- one was "kyckling" [pronounced, "shickling,"] which means "chicken," and I forget the other one.)

Well, anywho, the reason it's been a bit stressing is that the farm is very old, probably 100+ years old, and it has some quirky things about it that are, frankly, kind of cool, but not technically "up to code". The biggest headache has been the stovepipe well. Out in the country, you obtain your own water, of course, by drilling a well, and this one was drilled around 1940's when metal was scarce, so they used a stovepipe to line it. So cool and practical and so totally not up to code and not okay with building inspectors, insurers, and those official types of people who wear suits to work and such.

Ah, me. That's just one thing. I won't bore you with the rest. A new well might be drilled, however, just for us to buy the place.

The old well is actually across the street from the house, and so is the faucet to water the garden, so I guess the sellers currently just run a hose across the road to reach the garden, the road is so scarcely traversed. Country living is different.

Here is the Swedish Chef. See if you can catch him saying "kyckling" (sounds like shickling) when he chases the chicken.

Yeah, I didn't catch him saying it, either. I used to watch bowling shows. Ah, the endless sameness of it all.

What's hot in my little universe

* Laminators (I so love to laminate! I need a bumper sticker.)

* Zumba / Latin dance

* Swim lessons for toddlers

* Women with a gap between their two front teeth

* Male librarians

* Das Kliqué

* Holy Cow! cleaning spray (it'll clean anything!)

* Hairy footed chickens

A sheep's tale

I guess I've been thinking about sheep a lot lately, because we're planning on raising them next spring.

In college, I used to have this friend named Jesus Josh. His original, given name was Josh. "Jesus" was tagged on to the beginning in college because he preached the word of Jesus at every opportunity. He preached so much that people got restraining orders. He preached and preached. He preached so much that his Christian friends spoke with him about the style and intensity of his spreading the gospel. He was of smallish stature, and his bright blue eyes just burned with a fire when he was speaking with conviction.

He came to college with a Bible and some clothes. That's all. If you've ever known someone who didn't have any possessions, you'll know that they tend to borrow things a lot.

Jesus Josh borrowed a lot from me. He came at all hours of the day and night to use my word processor (yes, I'm old), to write papers for our creative writing class. As an added bonus, he would read aloud to us what he had written, and it was just crazy entertaining. In his darker moments, he would question why God put certain people on this Earth, or declare that certain others deserved to be in hell- usually just because they didn't want to listen to him, Jesus Josh.

But this is a story about a sheep. I almost forgot.

Another thing Jesus Josh enjoyed borrowing from me was my car (which he insisted was a Mustang, although it was a Ford EXP), along with its driver, me. At some point, Jesus Josh left campus housing, and went to live with some ex-missionaries turned shepherds out in the country north of Durango. The funny thing was, he had absolutely no means of transportation to and from the ranch. Well, except for me. It was a beautiful drive and I truly enjoyed his company, except when he was insisting my car was a Mustang when it wasn't, but whatever. You may wonder how an atheist/ part-time Buddhist like me got along with a fanatic like Jesus Josh, and all I can say is, I was completely comfortable around him and found him thought provoking and entertaining.

But this is a story about a sheep. I almost forgot.

As I mentioned, Josh was always needing a ride out to this sheep ranch with the missionaries, north of town, in a long valley, surrounded by mountains, with a river running through it. A few times, I even went for walks in the woods with him out there (I know those of you who knew him are really creeped out by this- sorry). On this one particular day, while I was giving him a ride out, he said he really wanted to introduce me this sheep, his favorite sheep. I stifled a chuckle.

"You have a favorite, do you?"

"Yeah, oh, this one sheep, you can tell she's different, you know?" He had that familiar light in his freakishly bright blue eyes. "She's like, well, she knows me, you can tell she recognizes me when I come to see her, and she, oh,"

"Um..." I just didn't know what to say.

"You'll just see when you meet her. She's really special. I go and see her every day and talk to her. You'll like her."

I don't think I'm much of a pervert, but when a grown man starts telling me about his "special sheep," I'm only thinking one thing, Jesus freak or not. I just couldn't help it. He was like a parody of himself, a Monty Python skit all on his own.

I couldn't wait to meet this sheep.

So, when we got to the ranch, we started wandering around, looking for this sheep. They all looked pretty much the same to me, all white and fluffy and wooly. They were making noise and doing sheep stuff, walking around a lot. But he just couldn't find that one special sheep.

He was really getting worried, then. Where was the sheep?

And then he found her, off on her own. He was so happy for a moment.

"This is her!"

He went to pet her and this big flap of wooly skin just came up, exposing the sheep's muscles.

She had been attacked by a wolf.

Oh, he was crestfallen. I mean, he was devastated. I was truly sad for him. He went and got the old missionaries, and I guess he was thinking, because it was his special sheep, that they would get a vet or something for the sheep, but no, it was to be dinner.

Special sheep for dinner!

Josh was just horrified.

I didn't stay for mutton. I wasn't much of a meat eater. I have a feeling Josh wasn't so hungry for mutton that night, either.

Whom do I call for rejection?

I wasn't too surprised when we got a mortgage rejection letter in the mail, because we had already been verbally rejected (never fear- the co-op approved us). What did surprise me, however, was that the loan officer had tucked a business card into the letter.

Hm... why?

For all of my future rejection needs, I now have a go-to girl. The next time my self-esteem skyrockets, I'll know where to go to curb it. Yep.

Other People's Stories, Part 4 of ?: Gina, you look horrible!

This is, obviously, another Gina story. I think this is why I like Gina, in part, because something about her attracts unusual experiences.

When Gina and I were in college, we were both members of this anti-drinking club that was, strangely, named after the god of wine: Bacchus. I wasn't as much of a drunk in those days, but why I would be a part of this group, why Gina would be a part of this group, or even why the group had such an ironic name; all of this is now mysterious to me, lost in the sands of time. It was something to do, I guess.

The incident I am about to describe may or may not have been a function of Bacchus. It sounds like something they would do, but I'm not sure. Perhaps Gina will clarify the details for us, but the story I remember is this:

Gina volunteered to be a part of a mock accident downtown. They got an actual car that had been wrecked in a drunk driving accident, and then volunteers (Gina included) were made up by professional make-up artists to look like victims of the crash. The victims would then lay around the street and bleed. People who walked by and saw this horrific scene would get literature about the perils of drunk driving. I don't know if Gina had to act out anything, or if she just lay there, or what all happened, but she did go and get herself made up by a professional make-up artist to look as though she had just been run over by a car. She looked like she really, really, really needed to go to the hospital- bad.

She had a good time doing the whole thing. When the mock accident was over, since she didn't drive yet, she began her long walk home, looking like someone who really, really, really needed to go to the hospital- bad.

I don't know if she didn't have the facilities to wash off the make-up there, if it wouldn't come off, if she didn't care- maybe she can clarify all this. Maybe I'm making all this up. The mind does strange things. But, the way I remember it, she said she saw loads of people on the way home, and many of them asked her if she needed help. If she needed to go to the hospital. If she needed a doctor. All the way home. Can you imagine it? Through all those nice little touristy side streets of Durango. Up the front hill. I don't know if she tried to hitch a ride up the front hill or not, but it was a common practice at the time. All the way home, looking like she really, really, really needed to go to the hospital- bad.

This whole story I just related makes her blog entry here even funnier.

Other People's Stories, Part 3 of ?: A New ID Card for Gina

This is sort of my story, too, because I was there, although it didn't really happen to me. It happened to Gina.

Gina and I went to college together. We got to know each other pretty quickly, because we were both from California, we were both English majors, and we were both going to college in Durango, Colorado. Her house in California was pretty close to my grandparents' house, so on school vacations, she would get a ride home with me, and we had two days on the road together to talk, each way. She gave me gas money. Gina didn't drive, herself. She'd never gotten around to getting a license.

Once, while at college in Colorado, Gina decided to get a Colorado ID card. She only had a California one. (For non-USA dwellers: in the US, we generally use a state driver's license as identification, but if you don't drive, you can get an ID card. It looks just like a driver's license, except that, at the top where it usually says, "Driver's License" it says, "ID Card".) I agreed to drive her downtown to get her ID.

I remember we were in the little office. Gina was at the counter talking with the DMV guy about her ID. I believe she said something like,

"I'd like to trade in my California ID for a Colorado ID."

I spaced out for a little while. The only other two people at the Durango DMV were talking about the Catch-22 of the motorcycle license: in order to ride a motorcycle, you had to have a license, but in order to learn to ride a motorcycle, you had to ride a motorcycle- and presumably that required a license. The two guys agreed you just had to ride it in low traffic areas without a license, until you could take the actual test for the license. Suddenly, I looked up and noticed that they were giving Gina an eye exam.

Eye exam? Since when do you have to see well to have an ID card?

Uncharacteristically, I had the good sense to say nothing. Gina finished the eye test, smiled for the picture, and came to sit by me for a minute while we waited for the card to be printed. Uncharacteristically, Gina also said nothing.

We walked out of there with a nice, shiny, new driver's license for Gina. She had never taken a driving test.

"I think they just gave me a driver's license! Oh, my god! This is a driver's license!"

We were both pretty satisfied with the day's events. Years later, she drives just like anyone else. I'm not positive, but I don't think she's ever had an accident- except for that time I was teaching her to drive and she let the VW roll back a little too far and tap the Volvo behind us, but I don't think that really counts.

People die everywhere, even in front of homestead coôperatives

We're in the process of buying a farm about twenty miles away from where we live now.

I know. This is quite sudden. That's just how we are. We do things quite suddenly.

Our new-to-us farm (100+ year old farm) is about five miles outside of a little town where, apparently, everyone and her uncle must belong to some sort of coôperative.

We're getting our farm loan through the farm loan/ bank coôperative. (This will make us members of a coôp, immediately, so we can fit in.) Our loan officer told us that the best playground for Little Z was on the other side of town, "across from the coôp".

Today, in a spirit of exploration, we drove out to the little town we will soon be a part of, and looked for the park. We passed a giant coôp store and a coôp gas station.

"I don't understand," said Brian. "There's the coôp. Where's the park?"

Just then there were sirens everywhere. The sheriff went by and a small fire truck, then a police car. Brian rounded a corner and we found the park. As we were pulling in, a police car was actually driving through the park, not exactly on a road. Brian and I both had the same thought at the same time,

"Watch, there'll be a dead body."

It's a great park. We forgot temporarily about all of the hoopla of emergency vehicles, and played. They had the greatest teeter-totter there. It seated four. Some other kids came with their parents. They seemed nice. After about twenty minutes, Brian said,

"There is a dead body, after all!"

Sure enough, across the street, five guys were moving a stretcher with a big red tarp over it, loading it into a van. It was clearly the body of a large man.

"What is that, over there? Is that a nursing home?"

"The sign says, 'Homestead Coôp'."



"Poor guy must have just gone for a walk and had a heart attack or something."



"So, the park actually IS across from the coôp. Not the bank coôp, not the hardware store coôp, and not the gas station coôp, but the homestead coôp."


I'd like to point out here that this is a really small town. It's probably even smaller than Joplin, Missouri.


"Well, it's a really nice park. I like it."

"Yeah, and at least we didn't meet any freaks here. That's good."

"Just a dead body."

"Well, people die everywhere. It's not his fault he died here."

Other People's Stories, Part 2 of ?: "They locked me up until the barber was available."

This one is about my dad, who reads this blog and I'm sure will correct me if I tell it wrong!

My dad hitchhiked across the country, from Western Pennsylvania to San Francisco, or vice versa, a few times in the late 60's. He was (and maybe still is) a hippie, with the long hair that comes with that lifestyle choice. During one trip across the country, he was arrested in *Joplin, Missouri, for having long hair.

Seriously, he was arrested for having long hair.

It was a Friday afternoon, and they kept him in jail until Monday morning, when the barber was ready to cut his hair. Apparently, the barber didn't work weekends. He was fed three square meals a day, and the meals were cooked by the sheriff's wife, who was actually quite a good cook. He was warm. He was dry. It was actually a nice break from hitching, there was no one else in the jail, so he didn't much mind. Monday morning, the barber came and cut his hair, and my daddy went on his merry way.

*In college, I had a boyfriend from Joplin, and that's when my dad told me this story. I ended up staying with that idiot for two more months, and afterwards I thought, man, I should've known as soon as my dad told me that story about Joplin. I should've dumped him then. But, you know, hindsight is golden.

Other People's Stories, Part 1 of ?: "I love how 'come' feels in my mouth."

I think a lot about other people's lives, and how they got to be where they are, what made them who they are, those little moments that seem, somehow, pivotal. I will now, off and on, spend some time relating some of my favorites of other people's stories.

My friend J. related a story to me as to how she met her husband. She was at a party in college, and she was talking with someone about favorite words,

"I love the word 'come'. I love how 'come' feels in my mouth." (It may or may not be significant to note here that J. was studying to be a speech therapist.)

Right as she said that second bit, there had been one of those sort of pauses in conversation when the room is quiet, all but one voice, her own, right as she said,

"I love how 'come' feels in my mouth." I imagine her pronouncing "come" very carefully, as though to accent the quotation marks in her speech.

J. suddenly found herself to be very popular with the opposite sex. I imagine that the man who was later to become her husband was only sticking around to protect her from the scumbags, right? At least, to look at him without blushing too much, that is how I imagine it.

The Shadow of the Wind

"The Shadow of the Wind," by Carlos Ruiz Zafón, is the book I am reading now. I don't want to finish it, because I'm afraid I will never again read anything that is quite so delicious. I'm about three quarters through it, and so far I have vicariously experienced:

* A character who may or may not be the Devil himself,

* forbidden love,

* Barcelona, half a century ago,

* childhood friendships turned deadly later in life,

* a mysterious book with some sort of unspoken power (or else why must he burn it?),

* a haunted mansion,

* rise and ruin,

* a blind, heart-breaking femme fatale,

* an unidentified corpse,

* a secret underground library...

and, I don't know how to put it, but the whole thing is so gothic, in a good way. I haven't been so taken with a book, so entranced into its world, since I read Hermann Hesse's "Demian" when I was a teenager.

I'm sad to see how it ends. I'm thinking everyone will just die in some way that reveals all mysteries. I won't tell you if I'm correct in my prediction, though- you'll have to read the book.

P.S. Completely unrelated- congratulations to the folks at "The Best Life Ever"! They named her "Byrdie". Fly away, fly away, and back again home. I like the name.