Bold Fortune

fortune favors the bold

Month: September, 2010

Oh my public library, how do I love thee?

by mollykl

Yeah, that’s not a rhetorical question. See that list to the right, the one labeled “Anticipating”? Well, those are pretty much the ONLY books I’ll be buying. Everything else is coming from the library. And there are books I’m anxiously anticipating, but won’t buy, because I know they’ll be a “read-once-and-have-memorized” kind of deal, and there’s no sense in owning those.  Those I’ll get from the library. Besides, I’m broke and out of bookshelf space. I’ve even resigned myself to a wait for some things (after all, if I’m in a damn hurry I can shell out the cash).

New authors usually get put into the “library” category. I’m trying to place a hold on M.K. Hobson’s book “The Native Star.” I found out about her from Gail Carriger’s blog, read the description on Amazon, and immediately popped over to saclibrary.org to score myself one new read. Some authors start at the library, hello C.S. Harris, Deanna Raybourn and Tasha Alexander, and then move to the must-buy list. Some authors start with a hold at the library, then I have a cocktail and end up at a bookstore buying a copy because it’s nine o’clock at night and I can’t wait damnit! Hello Gail Carriger and thank you husband J for driving me to Avid before they close.

Thank god for the LINK system. Even if Sac Library doesn’t have things you can borrow from other systems. Unfortunately, even through link it’s still sometimes not available. But I  keep checking back. Sometimes I get lucky. I was trying and trying to place a hold on the newest Rhys Bowen mystery “Royal blood” and kept getting the “Sorry, no copies available” message. The one day, poof!, it was available, and I should get it tomorrow which is convenient, since tomorrow’s my day off.

Since graduating I’ve lost track of how many books I’ve read, so I couldn’t even guestimate what percentage came from the library. I think I’m there at least once a week, probably twice. I’ve been reading lots of mysteries, home organization and decorating books, cookbooks and the occasionally trashy novel. I’ve also been checking out a lot of music lately. I want to hear a full album, not just snippets on i-tunes, before I buy it. So I’ve gotten Shakira’s newest, and I’ve got two Muse albums on hold, and well as one Nickelback (really, you have to listen to Nickelback before you buy, otherwise you don’t know what you’re going to get). And the library is the best place to get the first season of Perry Mason on DVD. I love me some Perry Mason, all black and white, with the constant smoking and Della’s awesome clothes.  It’s like a very restrained version of Mad Men, but with lawyers and cops.

I don’t really understand when I hear people say they don’t want to “bother” with going to the library. PEOPLE! IT’S FREE! The economy sucks, you’re trying to save money and you don’t want to be bothered to check out a FREE book (or DVD, or CD)? What the hell is wrong with you?

Or we could have spent the 30 grand on wine

by mollykl

So the week that Time magazine released the cover story “The case against home ownership””   my husband and I put in an offer on a house. In two weeks we close, and while I don’t currently have a cocktail in my hand, I should.

In honor of this, I present you with my cousin Jess’ formula for the amount of alcohol you’ll need to buy a house.

“One case of wine per real estate agent involved.  One case of wine after offer has been accepted.  Now, depending on your finances and the age of the home, the formula can get tricky.  If the house was built before 1970- 4 bottles of bourbon or gin.  If the house was built before 1970 and you have to deal with an FHA loan, add an additional 4-6 bottles of bourbon or gin.  Now- here is the kicker, if you have hit all the requirements so far, be damn sure to keep all your receipts so when the mortgage guy nit-picks through your monthly expenses the night before you are supposed to close you can prove to him that, yes, you did drink that all.  When you close the house, you will get a $4 bottle of wine from the closer.  Then you will need to re-stock for the house warming party!”

Note of caution: this formula is not for the weak. Jess and I? We come a family of drinkers. I swear that if the four horsemen of the apocalypse showed up at his front door at 4 p.m., Grandpa would have told them to either come back later, or invited them in and asked, “What’ll you have?”

Blameless

by mollykl

Because, well, life gets boring if you don’t try something new every once in a while, I’m going to attempt a book review. That said, I have no idea what I’m doing.

I’ve waited, hmmm…how long?, for Gail Carriger’s newest “Blameless“, and thanks to a snafu at Borders I had to wait even longer. But at least I arrived at home, on my day off, with a copy. And promptly devoured it in a matter of hours. I should probably admit that I went to the back and read a few pages to be assured that things ended satisfactorily, so that I wasn’t on pins and needles the whole time, and could actually enjoy reading. I was not disappointed.

You really do have to read the prior two books, “Soulless” and “Changeless“,  to have a grasp on the characters and the story of “Blameless” otherwise you’ll be lost, or very, very confused. To summarize, Lady Alexia Maccon, nee Tarabotti, was born, like her, ahem, Italian father, soulless, that is to say, without a soul. This situation is considered, like her intelligence and Italian features (olive skin and prominent nose),  not a plus in the Victorian society she lives in. While England has embraced the supernatural, werewolves and vampires are an everyday (or night) part of life, they are still wary of the far rarer preternatural, or soulless. Alexia has the power to steal away a supernatural’s power with her touch, so she’s not too popular with them either.

At the beginning of the book she has already been kicked out by her husband who is pretty darn sure that the baby she’s carrying is not his. He’s wrong of course, and is being an idiot. (His discovery of the pregnancy, the resulting scene and my resulting disappointment in him caused me to thrown my copy of “Changeless” against the wall). After a murder attempt by mechanized ladybugs (Oh, did I not mention that this was steampunk? My apologies.) she departs for Italy to seek out the Templars, who are alive and well and have something else to crusade against.  

The story moves along quite nicely. I don’t think there was ever a time that I really thought, “Oh for god’s sake, why is this scene here?”  It does take our travellers (yeah, go read the book) quite a while to actually reach Italy and the Templars, but it serves to introduce new characters (we learn who actually created said mechanized ladybugs).

As to the characters, and character development – there is some!  One of the things I really like about Carriger’s books is that her characters grow. They never arrive at a decision that leaves you thinking, “Huh? Where did that come from?” and they never stay the same, much like, well, everyone I know.  Professor Lyall gets more of focus this book, and his role as Beta to the Woolsey pack is highlighted. Me, I’m an alpha male girl, but I’ve found a newfound respect for the beta figure. The way I now see it, alpha’s make the decision, well, most of the time, and the beta’s are the ones who make sure things get done. While Lord Maccon is off drinking himself senseless (with formaldehyde, no less), Professor Lyall is simultaneously keeping the Woolsey pack together and dealing with the Alexia situation. When it comes time to give his alpha his comeuppance he doesn’t hesitate.

Ivy, she of the hideous hats and seeming stupidity, is shown to be much more than previously thought. She passes along information to Lyall in a harmless manner, then very cunningly mentions how she thought said information be useful, and that frequently people mistook silliness for stupidity. Lyall is forced to realize that if Ivy were so stupid Alexia probably wouldn’t be her friend. In this case, it’s not that the character developed, so much as our understanding of her developed.

Through the first two books Alexia’s character stayed fairly steadfast. Her hurt at being rejected by her husband was nice touch to a seemingly impenetrable reserve. Her cold, logical response to her baby – she calls him or her the “infant inconvenience” – does seem expected given her soulless nature, but a scene far along in the book reveals a possible cause for this, and she starts to feel some attachment.  Giving far too much away let me say this, she does forgive her husband rather quickly, but I for one, completely understand.  I did notice that Alexia got progressively more emotional as she neared Italy, which is, after all, her “home” of sorts. But maybe that’s too many years of reading literary criticism.

The tidy ending. Woo-hoo! Lord Maccon admits he’s an idiot, they escape the Templars, head back to England. Her position is restored in Her Majesty’s council (funny how Queen Victoria manages to be an uptight, judgemental prig no matter what genre of literature) and all is well, well, until the next book. Everything was tied up quite nicely,which I’m sure, as  a reviewer, I should hate. Well I don’t, so phbbth! True, I would have enjoyed a bit more grovelling from the husband and I would have liked a slightly less tidy ending, but I’m still happy.

I don’t know if it would actually be considered political, but the prevailing schools of thought of the countries involved are interesting. England is, of course given Carriger’s own admitted prejudices, the shining beacon of tolerance for the supernatural (well, to a point). France is markedly less so, but not nearly as bad as Italy, the home of the Templars. In this Victorian age, the Templars are still around, wandering  around wearing what Alexia describes as “nightgowns” with large red crosses emblazoned on them, acting as lord protectors of the souls of their charges, and making damn sure (pun intended) that souls are saved, whether they want to be or not. If you read the first two books it’s hard to understand why the English hate the Italians so much (besides the fact that they hate everyone “not them” – hey, in this world the English are actually the French!). After “Blameless” it’s much more clear. Really, the Templars are annoying and scary.

There was no set-up for “Heartless”, the next and presumably last book due out July 2011. In a way I’m sad, I would’ve liked a few hints. Mostly though, I’m glad. It irks me to no end that authors use books just to shill the next release. As it is, I’m happy with “Blameless”, which I will probably re-read repeatedly until next July, and I can’t wait for “Heartless”!

My ring

by mollykl

I lost my wedding ring. As in, lost it. That thing is long gone. I lost it at work on Wednesday, and spent most of “ad day” crying while trying to make signs (and here’s a revelation: that ink runs when you cry on it.) My boss said I could go home, but I needed something to focus on, other than the fact that I lost my most important piece of jewelry. But while I lost something very dear to me I also gained a few things. Like insight.

I’ve been married for nearly 11 years. Husband J and I were together for 10 years before we got married, and I thought having the whole “dog and pony show”, as I put it, would be ridiculous. But I wanted a real wedding, with a dress and all that. My dress was Nicole Miller, off-white satin (you can make whatever appropriate or inappropriate joke you want about it being off-white – I was with him for 10 years prior), and floor length. I wasn’t sure if J would want rings, being a hippie Reedie and all, but he said he did. At the time, at Escential where I was manager, we had an employee named Damon who was in school learning jewelry designed. After John asked me to marry him, I went in to work and casually asked Damon how much it would cost to make me a ring. Something really simple, like a sterling silver band.

“Oh, 25 bucks.”

“Great. Can you make me two? I’ll get you our sizes.”

It took him half a second to get it, and then he said, “Really? You’re getting married?” And hugged me. And seemed really pleased that he was making our rings. Then he tried to talk me into using white gold. He said white gold would be better, but I liked sterling. So I argued with him, and argued with him, and argued with him (I may have even threatened to fire him) and then he acquiesced.

So the day before my wedding comes, and I’m already scheduled to get off work early so I can go home and bake my famous lasagna (recipe from an issue of Seventeen magazine, circa 1984) for a crowd of about 15. Damon comes to work and asks, “Hey, can I leave work early?”

I know what this means. This means that SOB hasn’t finished my rings for the wedding, which is tomorrow.

And I say no. Because, as I tell him, I’m going to teach him a lesson about procrastination,  even if it means I don’t have a wedding ring, damn it. And then I leave, already resigned to not having a ring when I get married tomorrow.

Of course, my boss Meg, who’s come to take over for me while I leave, has practically pushed him out the door as soon as I was gone, saying, “Go finish those rings!”

Later that night, well fed with lasagna and wine, I open the door to Damon, who has our rings, and wants to fit them to make sure they are perfect. And I, in perfect Molly fashion, am accusatory.

“Meg let you leave early didn’t she!”

But I had rings for my wedding day. And they were lovely. Simple silver bands.

I realized a few things some years later, well, 10 years later to be exact, when my husband bought me a diamond and white gold eternity band for our anniversary. He brought the ring home and I pulled it out the box and was so excited. And then I noticed something about the color. And I took off my wedding ring and held it up to my anniversary ring.

And then I said to J, “Don’t you think it’s odd that these have never needed polishing? I mean, they’re silver, they c should be constantly oxidizing, but they never show a trace of it. And isn’t  silver harder than gold? Our rings have scratches in them, they still look nice and well-worn, but should they scratch this easily?”

“SON OF A BITCH! He used white gold after I TOLD him to use sterling! He just did what he wanted anyway!”

That ring was a reminder of everything my friends in Portland did for us that day. Damon made the rings, Joyce did the flowers for the reception, Meg threw us the party, Emily offered up her cafe as a space and her staff for catering and servers, my best friend and best man Chris made the invitations (complete with a faux Soviet-style propaganda poster that read “Come on join the party!”) even one of my line reps, Lulu, who was as baker part-time, made our wedding cake. That’s what I remember about my wedding. It wasn’t about me. It was about all of the people we got to share it with.  And that’s what I thought about every time I looked at my ring.

I will miss it. But, much like the day I received it, I will always remember the day I lost it. M was out there on the grass by the A-Frame signs, on her hands and knees, combing through grass trying to find it. (She joked that if our boss, S, was there he’d be out there looking too, and then would probably offer to buy me a new one.) The courtesy clerks doing sweeps were keeping an eye out. C was looking for it out front of the store. A and S let me take a long lunch to go home and see if by chance I left it there. A wanted me to take off early so I could look or just go home. On my way to my car, very tired and very sad, K from the bakery saw me and asked if there was anything he could do for me. Without fail, all over the store, people offered help.

The amazing thing about that simple ring is that it always reminded me of my friends in Portland, and I’ll always have those memories. But now, I also have the memories of my friends here in Sacramento, and how much they cared for me and for what I lost.