Well, it's been a week. I've been dealing with my sick cat, who now has a feeding tube, which has turned him into a really high-maintanence feline Borg, and basically every rug in my house has had either food, vomit, or poop on it, so we're just going to throw everything upholstered away and live like austere monks from now on, albeit austere monks with several video game consoles.
I've also been fighting some weird stress-related stomach thing, which is just AWESOME. But enough about me, you want to hear about the stuff: Here are the four points on which my threadbare sanity is currently teetering.
I have owned exactly two cars in my whole life. The first was a bright red 1993 Jeep Cherokee, the six-cylinder sport edition, given to me by my father when he decided he wanted the then-new Grand Cherokee which came out the following year. I was sixteen, and sort of wildly overwhelmed by it. I went to a private high school where many affluent kids got cars at 16 -- living in South Florida, arguably one of the least public-transportation-friendly places in the country, I expect parents who could afford it were all too happy to gift their offspring with their own rides so they weren’t constantly fighting about borrowing the family car. But still, it seemed like am embarassment of riches.
I loved my Cherokee. I drove it for 11 years, and well over 130,000 miles, and only gave it up when the cost of keeping it running was outpacing the value of the car. When I traded it in for my next car, I cried. Like, openly, sobbing, wretching, tears streaming, all in front of the bewildered salesman handing me my new keys (I expect usually people are happy to get a NEW car, but I was too busy mourning my old friend).
Car #2, the car I have today, was a 2004 Honda Element, which is nearing 80,000 miles and which I will likely drive into the junkyard as well. I love my Element too, though not as passionately as I loved my Cherokee -- you never forget your first.
My point being that I am not, in general, a car person. This is not because I have a lack of love for driving; I adore it, and I often bemoan the fact that there are so few good driving roads in Massachusetts. But the mechanics of it all, the engine, the various numbers of torque and horsepower that mean things to car people -- all of this is beyond my ken.
And still, I am obsessed with "Top Gear." I’m talking about the UK version here, with its occasionally douchebaggy trio of Jeremy Clarkson and Richard Hammond and (the marvelous and too-often maligned) James May. I understand there is an American series but I’ve never seen it, because I don’t actually give a crap about the cars. I watch it, honestly, because it is one of the most consistently hilarious shows I’ve ever seen. It makes me CRY laughing. It’s true that the jokes sometimes stray into bad taste, if not overt offensiveness, and when that happens it always bums me out because otherwise this series’ bizarre humor has kept me sane through massive depression.
Most of it is available on Netflix, and BBC America also shows reruns. I don’t know, you guys, am I crazy for being so addicted?
Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, by Ransom Riggs
I’ve long battled an inexplicable compulsion to subvert, defy or straight-up ignore whatever Amazon.com recommends to me. I know Amazon is just trying to help, and considering I’ve been a customer there since the 90s (and have become positively obsessive since they introduced Amazon Prime), they probably have a pretty good idea of what I like. Still, whenever I get a recommendation that seems to chase me around the site for months, I pointedly refuse to investigate. Don’t tell me what to read, Amazon. You’re not the boss of me.
Ransom Riggs’ fascinating novel was one such compulsively dodged recommendation. But eventually I buckled -- it looked too like me to resist -- and I am SO glad I did. In keeping with my usual Friday list book reviews, I haven’t actually finished it yet, but I have burned through two-thirds of this novel in a couple of days, something that I almost never do with fiction (nonfiction I read quickly, but fiction I take a lazier pace).
Teenager Jacob Portman suffers a loss that leaves him looking for answers, and his search takes him to the mysterious house on an island off the coast of Wales where his grandfather grew up as a refugee from World War II. What he finds there is not what he expected, and the story that follows is a vividly illustrated fantasy of comradeship and survival.
In the event you’re the sort of person who enjoys hearing about other people’s writing processes, this will interest you: Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children was inspired by Riggs’ mammoth collection of vintage photographs, which he used both to guide the story as it was being written, and which illustrate the book itself. For this reason I caution against buying this as an e-book -- it’s really the kind of thing you want in paper.
Oh and of course Tim Burton is in talks about making this into a movie. OF COURSE.
Dressing Like a Weird Old Lady
Remember a few weeks ago when I watched “I Capture the Castle” and got all obsessed with dressing up like a brokedown extra from the movie? Yeah, I’m still on that kick. While I have always resisted the popular working-from-home adage “Never work in your pajamas” -- mostly because I neither wear nor even own anything I could properly term “pajamas” -- I seem to have developed my own version of this habit, in which I have swapped “pajamas” for “vintage slips from eBay” and “floaty kimono-y wrap things on top.”
Seriously, I’ve worn this thing from Torrid two days in a row, pretending I’m Norma Desmond, only marginally less deranged. OK, maybe just as deranged, but certainly no moreso.
And then yesterday, while waiting at the Special Expensive Veterinary Hospital for my cat Rufus to get bloodwork done, I discovered that the maaaad Stevie-Nicks-y super-fringed “kimono” (not really, but that’s what they’re calling it) from ASOS that I’d had my eye on for weeks -- but for which I was not about to pay full price -- had gone on sale. So I ordered it. Which made that vet appointment a little more expensive than anticipated, but no matter. I’ll be gaily fringing all over the place in that thing, and probably getting it caught on stuff because I am so not capable of being glamourous without knocking things off tables.
Lights Over Lapland
This video is composed of three years of footage taken of the aurora borealis -- that’s “Northern lights” to some -- over Sweden. It is incredibly gorgeous and mesmerizing and just the sort of note I like to end a Friday post on. Enjoy.