Home for winter break now. Reclined on the couch, trying to eke out a few pages of another story--progress that is slowed by constantly pausing and asking my mom for details about growing up in the South, and whether or not Southern people ate these kinds of things--listening to Sufjan's Christmas songs. Grace is reading a thick anthology of English literature on the adjacent couch, clicking her pen. Kelsey and Sam are playing a raucous card game that involves slamming one's palm down on the table and screaming victoriously and Mom is chopping some kind of pungent vegetable that I can smell from here.
All of the women in the family ridiculed me today when I announced that I wanted to start a garden. Yes, I do not know the first thing about gardening, but I do have Mom's "Organic Gardening" book from D.K. and I think I can learn. I am rather dismayed that things take so long to grow and that late winter is not a particularly fine time to start a garden, unless you want to grow a variety of lettuces and pansies. I am thinking I will start small. A few herbs, maybe. Rosemary, thyme, basil, perhaps some parsley. I would like to prove them wrong. (They also had the same reaction when I told them today that I liked the idea of natural, at-home childbirth. "But you are terrified of pain," my mother insisted. True, but I did say the idea of natural, at-home childbirth, didn't I?)
After working at Main St. Books for a few hours this afternoon, I went to the library and picked up the first two books of my break: The Russian Debutante's Handbook, by Gary Shteyngart, and Drown, by Junot Diaz. Francine Prose recommended both of them in Reading Like a Writer, a list that I am constantly trying to work through. I've read Shteyngart before (Absurdistan) and think he is absolutely delightful. I mummified myself in a blanket after work and read a hundred pages and I like it so far. Immigrants are a perpetual favorite of authors, particularly recent ones. I'm not entirely sure why this is, but I think it has something to do with the fact that they possess a malleable identity that is struggling to define itself while being grafted into an unwelcoming new culture. Even though society may not, literature embraces the helpless alien. And Shteyngart does a masterful job of embracing him, too.
Kelsey just called the four of clubs "the four of clovers." Homeschool. Mom quickly corrected her, adding, "I just don't want you to embarrass yourself when you are playing with your friends."
I remembered the bag of yen that I have stashed under my bed (remnants from the Narita Airport, when I didn't have time to change out all my coins back into U.S. currency) and found an old 5 yen coin, which is not being circulated anymore, and put it on a chain. (The 5 yen coin is a dusty golden bronze and has a hole in the center of it.) I am wearing it as a necklace now and it makes me think of the train and miss Japan. Yes, I even miss the train.
Father is lonely in Atlanta. He keeps calling and asking to talk to the family for no particular reason. He hangs up abruptly whenever someone enters his temporary office, saying, "Bye, there's some loser coming in." Professionalism is not high on his list of priorities, but we love him for it.
One of the best perks of working retail is complaining about unreasonable customers with one's employer.
Christmas is coming very swiftly this year. I think it is because I am getting old.