Friday, January 4, 2013


So far, I can't say anything astonishing has happened. Berowne and I went to a New Year's Eve party which was full of lovely people being welcoming and kind to me, and he dealt manfully with my pumpkin-nature, which manifested itself pretty literally via the realization at ten-thirty that if I wasn't in my house, in my pajamas, at midnight, there would be a Crisis. So we started preparing to leave at ten-thirty, and got out of there close to eleven, and drove the forty-five minutes home, and on the stroke of midnight he leaned in the bathroom door while I was brushing my teeth and kissed my cheek and said, "Happy New Year." Pumpkins need love too.

It was actually a reaction very indicative of my introverted nature. I wasn't bored or unhappy at that party; I didn't feel socially isolated or like anyone cared that I wasn't drinking. It simply turned out that I had three hours of party in me that night, and when they were gone I didn't have any more. It's a physical exhaustion, because that situation drains an introvert no matter how much s/he is enjoying it. Some nights, like at Berowne's shows, I've had many more hours of dancing and socializing in me, and there will be nights I have zero, and stay in entirely while he goes out. I believe we'll figure each situation out with as few hurt feelings as possible.

Over the New Year's weekend I read Mrs. Robinson's Disgrace: The Private Diary of a Victorian Lady, by Kate Summerscale. It tells the story of Isabella Robinson, who was taken to the newly-created British divorce court by her husband in 1858 after he discovered her journal, in which she documented an affair with a younger man. I loved Summerscale's The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher, and was excited about this, but unfortunately it was disappointing. Every person involved in the love triangle was extremely unpleasant, and Isabella came across as melodramatic and self-absorbed, as anyone would whose historical record consists of their private diary. (I shudder to think of mine being read aloud in a courtroom.) I just couldn't get interested in what happened to these three people, so while Summerscale's descriptions of life in Victorian England were interesting, and she remains a very good writer, I didn't ever find myself in a hurry to read the next chapter.

Speaking of melodrama, I did finish The Count of Monte Cristo. For the first thousand pages (estimated; I read it on the Kindle), it was ridiculous and contrived and histrionic and deadly boring; and then for the last five hundred it was ridiculous and contrived and histrionic and AWESOME. I don't know quite why I got into it at the end; slightly more things started happening, but it was more that I just started going with the craziness. I found myself giggling delightedly as the logistically-impossible coincidences and biologically-impossible poisons piled up, and when Dantes threw down the "these characters are lesbians and I'm not even pretending to gloss over it" gauntlet, I may have actually punched the air.

So I promptly opened The Three Musketeers, which I think I started back when I read Monte Cristo for the first time (eleven? twelve?) but am pretty sure I never finished. This one starts briskly, and if I recall correctly the bogging happens later. We shall see. I do remember being scandalized by how frankly Dantes states that d'Artagnan and Milady are doin' it. Since I'm still easily scandalized, I look forward to that. And I've never read the two sequels, so if I continue to enjoy this silliness it may be a very swashbuckling winter.

I am in a bit of a battening-down mood, which means I want to re-read everything and not pick up anything new. After Mrs. Robinson, I want to re-read The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher; after Newtown, I want to re-read Cullen's Columbine; after Berowne gave me the cannibal-cookbook I want to re-read all my books on the Donner Party and the Franklin Expedition. Those are good winter reading anyway.

(I don't have the strength or the coherence to address Newtown. All I will say about the world we live in is that I was reading many articles about the increase in gun violence, and had the thought, "Wow, only thirteen people were killed at Columbine? I thought it was more." Only thirteen. Those are the words that passed through my mind, in reference to a massacre of children, because said massacres are apparently just things that happen now. What the fuck, America. What the actual fuck.)

Anyway. Like I was saying, winter. With the exception of Christmas, I don't like winter - heat is expensive, crawling out of a warm bed when it's freezing and pitch-dark out takes all my moral fiber - but it certainly has a way of lowering gratitude to an elemental level. Is my furnace working? Is my car starting? If I can answer yes to both those questions, then I have everything I need for the day, and I'm aware of that. The rest is gravy.