A review of an actual book

I’m a hundred percent certain I’ve talked about this before: my wife and I both love to read. I read a lot faster than she does, but we have fairly similar tastes in reading material for the most part, so she only very rarely actually buys books. Generally once she finishes something she’ll ask me what I’ve read recently that she’ll want to read, or just go looking through the bookshelves that are slowly taking over our entire house until something strikes her fancy, and then she’ll read that.

There is a critical difference between the two of us here, because while we are both readers, I am also a book collector and my wife very much is not. She has very gently suggested to me a couple of times that we might possibly have too many books. I do not recognize that as a legitimate state of existence. “Too many books” is, for me, quite simply not a thing.

Which brings me to a little dilemma I’m having with James Islington’s The Shadow of What Was Lost.

I don’t like the story. I am not enjoying reading this book. The reasons aren’t especially interesting and fall into my Don’t Shit on Books Unnecessarily policy; I’m just not enjoying it very much, 200 or so pages into its 700 or so page length, with two more volumes already concluding the trilogy that are available but I haven’t bought.

The problem is the actual book— not the story, not the part you’re supposed to, like, look at, but the actual physical object itself that you hold in your hands– is amazing, at least in the paperback edition. The pages and especially the cover just feel great, and the book is exactly the right size, and it even smells good, and I know from seeing them in bookstores that the entire trilogy looks great on a shelf. So much so, as a matter of fact, that I’m considering going ahead and ordering the rest of the series just so that I can touch them and so that they can be on my bookshelves together, effectively as art pieces and not as things that convey a story. I mean, would I ever read them? Will I even finish this one, or will I DNF it and move on to something I’ll enjoy reading more? Or will I just keep reading it so I can hold it for longer, because it’s so pleasant to have in the hand?

This is … not a thing my wife understands. As marital incompatibilities go, I’ll take it, believe me, but if I end up ordering the next couple of books I might have to find a way to put them somewhere she won’t find them. Not quite sure how that’s gonna work, but we’ll see what I can come up with.

Lights!

This is as exciting as my day got– picking out the lighting for the bathroom remodel. That’s what they look like; bask in its room-lighty glory. Or not; we didn’t exactly go super-complicated on this particular decision. I suppose we also picked out a bathroom exhaust fan, but seeing as how the entire decision-making process for that was to authorize whatever our contractor had already suggested, and I couldn’t pick the one we chose out of a lineup if my life depended on it, it didn’t count for much.

My criteria for the lights: 1) brushed nickel, to match everything else in the room; 2) smoked glass so that I’m not staring at bare lightbulbs, and 3) facing downwards to make the bulbs easier to change. My wife argued with none of these determinations and I more or less went “Okay, whatever you want” beyond that. I think we’ve been surprising the people at these places with how quickly and easily we’ve been able to make decisions throughout this process, although I did horrify the saleslady at the fixtures place a couple of weeks ago by abruptly snarling at my wife about something or another; Bek knew exactly what I was doing and laughed about it, but the saleslady clearly thought I had decided to die on the hill of refusing to have oval-shaped pulls on the vanity or whatever it was that I’d complained about, and you could see her bracing herself to be an unwitting bystander in Marital Drama.

I suspect these people probably have a touch of PTSD, and I don’t blame them for it; we probably ought to just get along in public and not make jokes. I will do better in the future.

There’s not much more to report here, really; I planned for the first couple of days of summer break to be low-activity and I’ve successfully achieved that. Tomorrow we are heading to Illinois to finally meet my new nephew, so expect a hotel window picture tomorrow evening and maybe some baby pictures if my brother and sister-in-law will allow it. Maybe I’ll just put my hand over his face and post that; we’ll see. We’ll stay overnight– the boy is psyched about staying in a hotel for the first time in forever– and be back Sunday, and then Monday morning I start actually Preparing for Things. We’ll see how well I do.

Thirteen years and one year

This is not, objectively speaking, that great of a picture. Bek has pretty clearly just emerged from the shower, I don’t even look like I have showered– my beard is an utter Goddamned abomination– and none of us are looking at the camera for some reason, which is odd because I seem to be holding it, so you’d think I’d know where to look. I like it anyway.

Roughly thirteen years ago, I got married to that lady on the right there. Why roughly? Our anniversary is February 29, meaning that for three out of every four years I correctly celebrate our anniversary on the 28th of February and my wife incorrectly insists that our anniversary is March 1st. I finally won this argument free and clear this year, when she fucked up and accidentally advocated my position for a few minutes, forgetting that she has always been the March person. I will never, ever allow her to forget it, either.

At any rate, asking her to marry me remains the best decision I’ve ever made, as I Married Up in every conceivable fashion. The jury may still be out on her decision to marry me, but I’d like to think it’s worked out okay.

We aren’t doing anything for our anniversary this year. Last year we went to C2E2 on our anniversary. Covid-19 was a concern already, but at the time there were less than 60 cases nationwide and we figured it was as safe as it ever was. I tried my damnedest to keep my hands in my pockets as much as I possibly could and we washed our hands whenever we had a chance to. We had dinner with a friend at a Potbellies in Hyde Park and then came home.

And then I was sick for a month anyway, not quite “as sick as I’ve ever been” levels but I literally was trashed for the entire month of March, and by the time that was done we were in lockdown. That Potbellies dinner was the last time I had dinner in a restaurant. That dinner was the last time we made plans with anybody to do anything fun. And 500,000 people are dead in the United States alone, with another two million gone worldwide.

So, yeah, this year we’re staying home. We’re having Hamburger Helper for dinner. Why? Because Bek used to make it all the time and has stopped in the last couple of years for some reason, and I’m so Goddamn starved for novelty that having Hamburger Helper for the first time in probably seven or eight months seemed like something worth getting excited about. None of us have had shots yet; we’re too young to qualify yet, and Indiana is explicitly hoping at least a few more teachers die of this thing before they vaccinate any of us.

Maybe next year, if we’re able to, we’ll celebrate on the 28th and the 1st.

On what I want

My wife and I, married thirteen years come next February, typically do not buy each other gifts. My wife is impossible to buy for, as she does not like things, and I am exceptionally easy to buy for but tend to spend money indiscriminately, so buying things from my Amazon wish list, for example, can be kind of a fraught proposition.

I fucked around and got myself into trouble last week, as I came up with a perfectly good Christmas present for my wife and managed to acquire it in a fraction of the time I would have expected it to take and at a fraction of the cost. In other words, not only was I breaking the rules by buying something in the first place, she was going to take one look at it and assume that I had spent way more than I actually spent on it– even though what I did spend for it would generally count as a relatively large amount for us to spend on each other, even in a world where we buy things for each other, which we really don’t.

I hope to hell that sentence makes sense because I’m not rewording it.

Anyway, I went through this brief crisis where I was trying to figure out what my duties were in terms of whether I was going to disclose the gift before Christmas or not, and if I was merely going to disclose its existence or also disclose how much I spent. I ended up, after discussing the matter with my brother and sister-in-law, deciding to tell her what had happened and that I’d spent what I spent on it, so that if she wants to get me something in return (which she isn’t required to do) she has a chance of achieving some sort of parity.

(She won’t. I win this Christmas. She can try again next year if she wants, but I win this one.)

Anyway, the trick to buying me (and a lot of people, really) is to come up with something that I want but would never buy myself, which is kind of a tricky needle to thread, and thinking about it tonight all I’ve been able to come up with are two items that I really don’t need and would just add to the clutter around the house. Guitar Center is going out of business, and part of me really wants to go buy a guitar once I can get them at discount prices. Can I play the guitar? No. I can’t play the ukulele either. I’m not gonna learn. I’m 44 and it is too late to learn a musical instrument. There is, therefore, no reason for me to want one.

It is kind of hilarious to me that the second thing that I came up with was a combat-grade lightsaber, which is also something that someone else should not buy me, because they come with literally a billion available options and are also expensive as hell and the whole idea is completely ridiculous. I do not need a lightsaber, much less a $250 one, and the idea that I’m fixated on a combat-grade one, which has a blade tough enough that they’re supposed to be good for full-contact sparring against someone else, is even more ridiculous.

I’m curious to see if anyone can guess what color blade I’d pick, by the way.

(Oh, and also I’m still fighting off the occasional urge to buy a lathe.)

It’s best to just let me waste my own money, I think.

On important dates and important dates

First, the pointless griping: Film director Bong Joon-ho apparently won a pile of Oscars last night. I have not seen Parasite, which as far as I know features no American superheroes, although my wife has expressed an interest in streaming it once such a thing is available, but I have no reason to disagree with the award given that I saw virtually none of the nominated films, and in fact I’m saying “virtually none” here because I have no idea what was actually nominated for anything and it’s therefore possible that I’ve seen some of them.

Man, I remember when the Oscars were a big deal, personally, and I was seeing 40-50 movies a year. I really miss that, believe it or not; I just don’t have that kind of time any longer, and living in South Bend instead of Chicago means I’m much more limited in what I can see.

Anyway, point is the Goddamned Snowpiercer post is surging again; it’s gotten about as many hits today all by itself as the entire site typically gets in two days, and as it’s only 6 PM I suspect that ratio will be increasing fairly radically by the time I go to bed tonight, and the bump will probably last at least another few days. That post will never, ever die.


So:

  • My wife’s birthday is Thursday;
  • Friday is Valentine’s Day;
  • The 29th is our 12th/3rd anniversary; we were married in 2008 so it has been twelve years, and we were married on Leap Day so this will be the third actual real anniversary we should have.

We typically make a fairly big deal out of Real Anniversaries, although the last big celebration was for our 10th anniversary when we went to see Hamilton in Chicago. We are … somewhat bereft of ideas for any of these things this year; I asked my wife if she wanted to do anything either for her birthday or for Valentine’s Day an hour or so ago and I could see part of her soul die when I asked the question. Before you jump on my case, be aware that neither of us are either especially romantic people or big celebrators of arbitrary dates; we don’t make a big deal out of my birthday either, and Valentine’s Day has always been treated as more of an annoyance instead of an actual thing. So chances are this weekend is not going to be all that big of a deal.

But I wanna do something for our anniversary, dammit, and my first choice– going to Chicago and having dinner at Alinea— got shot down on account of being insanely, grotesquely expensive.

This is where you come in, Internet. What shall we do for our 12th/3rd anniversary? Give us good ideas; we’re broken and don’t have any.