March 20th, 2004

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The Thrill of Victory and The Agony of Defeat

Well, the Pirates lost in round two to Duke. For those of you who don't speak basketball, this means my team, my alma mater, Seton Hall, lost in the second round of the NCAA tourney. It's a little heartbreaking. I was hoping they'd pull a Cinderella story and go the distance. I will now do a little heavy sighing in memorium, then promptly move on until this time next year.

I had to buy a birthday present for a friend today. Well, she's a little more like family then a friend, but that's beside the point. I had to venture out and go shopping. If you read my previous post, the one about buying Big Giant Underpants, you may know that I am a miserable shopper. Usually I pick out a card and say something along the lines of "I'm not doing birthday presents this year, the budget's tight." This statement is not exactly a lie - 99% of the time it's true. But mostly, it is just a convenient way for me to avoid shopping. However, once upon a time this girl had my older sister convinced that a local car dealer was selling flying cars- for which I am forever grateful, as it gave me ammunition in the sibling wars of my adolescence. So, for her, I went shopping.

Surprisingly, it was a really productive trip. I avoided the mall, as I'm still smarting from the horrors of two weekends ago. Instead I ventured to the Christmas Tree Shop, which is like the world's repository for everything you didn't know you needed. I didn't get much, though they had a good deal on Yoga mats, so I bought one for me. What was really the divine part of this shopping trip wasn't the store at all - it was the inspiration that came when I thought about what I would want if it were my birthday. Suddenly the heavens opened and a spectral golden light showered down on me - or maybe it was just the florescent lights flickering above me, I'm not sure. Anyhow, what would I want? Chocolate and booze.

Well, actually if it was my birthday, chocolate, booze and cake, but that's another story. Anyhow, armed with my great inspiration I bought her some truffles and some of those little airplane bottles of booze. Do I give classy gifts or what?

The other thing I tried to do today, besides brave shopping, was get my car fixed. My car, Captain Morgan, is a very Soccer-Mom kind of vehicle (hence why I had to name it after a bottle of rum). It's occasionally zippy, but mostly just a dependable, boring sedan. I tried to take him for the tune-up and oil change I've put off all winter. Apparently, this wasn't such a good idea. The dealership can't take him until Tuesday, and the Ready-Lube couldn't get his hood open. In fact, one of the oil change guys actually said to me, "Well, the handle that picks up the hood is going to break, and that's not my fault. I don't want to get blamed when that little fucker comes off. So you do it." Being slightly amused that four guys in jump suits couldn't get up the hood of an economy car, I promptly sat down, gave one tug on the handle and dammit if the little fucker didn't come off in my hand.

I've been on a manic reading spree the past two days. In a little less than 36 hours I've read the following: "The Year of Secret Assignments" by Jaklyn Moriarty, which was disappointing because I love her first book so much. "The Earth, My Butt and Other Big Round Things" by Carolyn Mackler, which was so good I wanted to applaud when I finished. I didn't count on liking that one as much as I did. Oh, and yes, both of those books are aimed at 13 year olds. I knew this fact going in, and that's probably why I read them. Anyway, I've also finished a book called "Dream On" by Beverley Brandt, which is a romance novel and as light and fluffy as good pastry and one called "Fire and Hemlock" by Dianne Wynn Jones. I started "The Last Report on the Miracles at Little No Horse" by Louise Erdrich, though I haven't gotten past chapter four yet. I read "Olive's Ocean," by Kevin Something or other, which was also very, very good (I'll write another list of books soon). Finally when I'm done here I'm going to dive back into "The Sherbrook Twins" by Catherine Coulter. (Hey, I said I read a lot, not that I read Shakespeare).

For those of you who don't know, Catherine Coulter writes romance novels that all have the same basic plot - Man decides he wants to have sex with woman. Woman decides she'd rather not, while fighting her attraction to Man. Man then seduces women into bed, and eventually into marriage. Marriage isn't so swell at first, but then, inexplicably, a "Mystery" is added to the mix in which woman's life is in danger and a slightly deranged lunatic/former spy/evil villain is trying to find some lost treasure of the ages. Man rescues woman, and then Man and Woman find lost treasure. Man and women then have great sex for the rest of their lives.

The greatest thing about Catherine Coulter books, by far, is the "return" of characters from other books - whom usually pop up just in time to help with the mystery. Of course, all couples from previous books continue to have perfect marriages and lots of great sex. The Sherbrook family, for example, has appeared in several books, my favorite of which is "The Scottish Bride." Anyway, "The Sherbrook Twins" seems to only be about one of the twins, really, but is an important book in this series (all of them but one have "bride" in the title), because we're now on the second generation of the Sherbrook family. To be fair, we were introduced to the second generation by way of Meggie in the previous book "Pendragon" which wasn't bad, but not nearly as trashy as I would have liked. Anyhow, "Twins" is everything I expected thus far. I will keep you posted if there are any surprises (doubt there will be).

Now that you've come this far you know my deepest, not so darkest secret: romance novels. No matter how broke I am, nor how frazzled I am from shopping, I can't leave the supermarket without one. They're like crack. Please don't assume I have ever taken one seriously. Mostly, they are just good trashy fun. I read them once and then send them by the batch to a friend or to my sister (who once told me she didn't like to read anything that didn't have a little sex in it, so apparently, reading them is a genetic trait). Very few do I hold onto for every long. Some day I shall go into detail about Nora Roberts books, which are so awful I practically HAVE to read them. I like to read Nora Roberts books in the bathtub, while drinking Tab.

I'm thinking I should end here, having not only told you about my day, but also revealed way more then you ever wanted to know about my reading habits. In my next post, I've decided I should probably come clean about my love for Clay Aiken - erstwhile American Idol contestant and unlikely pop star. That could take some time, and this post is already a tad too long.