2012: The Books I Lived With This Year

Goodreads says I’ve read 49 books this year.  That would be a painful number, if I wasn’t taking a reading break from the 5oth to share my top 10 for 2012, in some semblance of order:

The Snow Child

The History of Love

The Panopticon

The Story Sisters

The Invisible Circus

Dandelion Wine

The Night Circus

The Art of Fielding

Where’d You Go, Bernadette?

The Yellow-Lighted Bookshop


These are the books I lived with this year.  The ones I stayed awake to finish, the   ones I read  in sweatpants, before I got dressed ‘for real’, the ones where I read bits aloud, sometimes to myself. Some made me laugh, some made me cry, the best did both.

Sarge read a few of them first and then threw them at me.  Most of them are now on his side of the bed because I’ve said: Dude, you hafta read this.  No, really.  They were good enough that I felt the need to use the word ‘Dude’.

As for next week’s/year’s reading I’m going to go back on my memoir/bio/nonfiction kick, I think.  After I read the fiction I bought with my Christmas vouchers.  And I’m also going to concentrate on the other books already in my house before buying any more, and if I do buy, I shall buy local. And I’m getting much better at using the library.  However, it would seem that I still need work on bringing books back after I check them out.  I can’t help it. They’re so pretty.

What were your top books of the year?

What will you be reading next year?

book tree

P.S.  I know I’m a little late, but check out The Mary Sue for more book trees.

2012: The Year That Was

I began 2012 feeling out of sorts. We came home from a party in the dark. Left the house for dinner the next day, in the dark. Mostly about why my left ring finger was still naked. Seriously, though. I felt bad that we slept through January 1st.

As I sat backwards on the bus on the way the second party of the year, I vowed not to waste another day. By the end of that week, I’d written a few thousand words, and read three books.

Toward the end of January, I might have mentioned to my Dad and some friends that I was planning to propose to Sarge. Because of that trusty extra day in February. And because I love him. So much. That, too.

I originally thought I’d take him to the zoo, point out a ring around the neck of a very well-behaved penguin during the penguin parade. And I’d ask him amongst strangers and more penguins.

Then I thought I’d book a table at the Russian place where we had our first dinner date.

In the end, which was really the beginning, I opted for some pebbles and a candy ring. And by the grace of the angels and Sadie Hawkins, he said yes. And then we went back to the scene of our first coffee date, he got down on one knee, and I said yes. Again.

A few weeks after that, I submitted my Masters application, which was subsequently rejected. I believe for a very split second, I forgot the all-important Show, Don’t Tell. This mistake sent me into a darkened room for a while. I came out to go venue-shopping and to process what happened, I wrote this.

During the first flourishes of wedding planning, I missed my grandparents. I do every day, but this was a different kind of ache.

We found a venue, I found a dress. On the day Dad and Anne saw both of these, Dad said he had cancer. My worst nightmare. Really. I had no words for awhile. And then I found these.

Our engagement party also saw the beginning of Dad’s treatment. We burned things to celebrate both. And part of that treatment involved writing our invitations. Thank you, Daddy.

Other stuff happened. I visited a friend I hadn’t seen in ages, I became the cat’s Aunty, the contract ended on a job I loved and found another one I loved not so much. And I contemplated a career-change. Only to realise again, I can only do what my heart says.

I prayed to all my good ghosts this year. Really hard. And to be honest, not all of those prayers were answered. But the best ones were. My Dad is well again. And Sarge kindly accepted my proposal.  Everything else leaves room for better things.

As for next year, I know where I’m going and who’ll be with me for the next adventures.

And I can’t wait.

A Certain Rite of Passage

Yesterday marked 6 months until the wedding.  Sarge and I celebrated by opening some sparkly from the engagement party and watching a double-bill of The Usual Suspects and Mixed Nuts.  Guess which one was my choice.


We were also toasting the the fact that I quit my job on Friday.  Although I prefer the term ‘left voluntarily’.  See, the giant stresshead I mentioned in my last post kinda exploded.

The first flowery boot dropped on Thursday night at a quiz with our book group friends.  The building was so old, I couldn’t fit through the door without transferring into another chair while Sarge took the tires off mine, and put them back on after crossing the threshold.

Cover of "Mixed Nuts"
Cover of Mixed Nuts

‘There’s still so much to be done,’ I said. ‘I’m so in the wrong job.’

The next morning, between gulp two and three of coffee, looking out at the snow, I asked Sarge for the zillionth time, ‘would you think less of me if I left?’

‘This isn’t your career. You haven’t slept in a month, which means I haven’t.  You’ve changed, and I miss you.  So, quit.’

I went in on my first day, shortly after a front wheel spun out and rolled down the road behind me.  I’d tried not to think my first morning on three wheels would be a metaphor for the rest of my time there.

But I never felt solid.  I like to be good at what I do.  To be sure of myself.  I like conviction in my work voice.  I like to modulate my phone voice so people can’t figure out where I’m from.  But the New York comes out when I’m nervous.  I was never not nervous in this job.  The stress was making my CP physically painful, which hasn’t happened since I had my hips surgically broken when I was a kid.

So, I went in on Friday, and came right out again.  ‘The people are lovely,’ I said. ‘But this isn’t for me.’  I might have got a little emotional,  actually saying, ‘I’ve never quit a job in my life.’

I failed to mention I didn’t care about the job.  That I couldn’t get behind late phone-covers and box-sets that were the wrong region.  I did like helping grannies, though.  And I might have teared up when an old Irish guy was so happy I could help he said, ‘God bless ye, Lorna.  Merry Christmas.’  But I think I cried because it was my time of the month.  Did I mention that?

I will never think of dedicated customer service jobs the same way again.  Points for the people who do them.  You are stronger than me.

Anyway.  I left on Friday, and immediately split the cost of a Shiatsu massage seat-cover with Sarge.  Platinum investment, that.  True story.

I’d been reading the same book for a month.  Finally finished it yesterday, in bed with coffee.

And yesterday was the first conversation with my father in a awhile that didn’t include an existential crisis on my end of the line.  He’s happy that I’ve followed my heart.  My mother says that quitting a job is a rite of passage.  I can dig that.

And I’m getting married in 5 months and a bunch of days.  That’s another one.

Bring it on.

7 Ways To Become A Cliche

I think I might be one.  If you think you are too, here are the warning signs:

Your job is all you can talk about.  Until you become a boring stresshead to your friends.  You know, the people who knew you before you got the job.  The people who know you are indeed American, but you haven’t really lived there for 17 years, so your Americaness is well, no BFD.

You’re sitting in your jacket and scarf and boots.  With your badge flashing a strained smile around your neck.  This would have been fine, or at least OK.  Except you’re in your living-room, where you’ve been for an hour.

You unwind from a hard week by:

a.  Drinking with friends and showing off photographic evidence of it.

2.  Listening to Garth Brooks at full blast.

iii. Catching up with Dr Phil and counting the ways aforementioned stressful job may be affecting your relationship.  One reason being your long-suffering, but not really you hope, partner has to make the dinner.

d.  Taking a book and some chocolate to the bath.  Where you may or may not pretend you are advertising Calgon.

79.  All of the above.