Happy spring! I just realized I haven’t talked about Animal Crossing for a hot second, so here’s me and a friend having coffee in my museum café. (Also, my island is green now. The snow was nice, but I got a little tired of it after a while, and I am so happy that it’s gone.)

Equally important: I have oranges now!!!, I finally caught a coelacanth after five months of playing, and I’ve gotten four undesirable villagers to pack up their bags and ship out. I am now working on getting Tex to gtfo, which is why there’s a skeleton in front of his house. Is it random untidiness? Is it a threat? He’ll never know.

In real-life-spring-related news, I haven’t yet gotten into full psycho-cleaning-mode, but expect that to kick in within the next couple of weeks. In the meantime, I’ve had more energy lately than I usually do at this time of year, possibly because my work team has expanded and I’m not under the usual amount of work-related stress, all of which means that I did finally get around to hanging up Clara, my little red jellyfish, because home is where the jellyfish is.

March Reading Stats

Books Finished:

  1. Neverwhere – Neil Gaiman
  2. Ordinary Monsters – J.M. Miro
  3. The Curse of Chalion – Lois McMaster Bujold
  4. Fractured Fairy Tales – A.J. Jacobs
  5. Three Plays: Once in a Lifetime/You Can’t Take It With You/The Man Who Came to Dinner – George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart

Total Pages Read: 1,770

Now that I’m looking at it, this was almost entirely a reread month, with the sole exception of Ordinary Monsters, which was………..okay. It was so long that I have already forgotten most of it, and I really had to hustle to draft its review before it leaked right out of my head. My main takeaway is that Jacob Marber needs to fucking die, and, as with The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle, I’m glad it’s over. I strongly suspect that I will not be reading the remaining two books in the trilogy; the only reason I’m on the fence is that I kinda want to find out if Jacob is Marlowe’s father.

My month of unintentional rereads went much better than the one new read. One of my goals for this year is to review books I read years ago but have never talked about on any of my blogs, and, to that end, I have now drafted reviews for Neverwhere and The Curse of Chalion. I wasn’t originally going to reread Chalion, which I know like the back of my hand, but I got so hooked by the general Chalion vibes that I couldn’t resist picking it up again after I’d finished my review. As it turns out, it’s lucky I did, because I then had to go back and correct a couple of things in the review. I also decided on a whim to reread the Kaufman/Hart anthology I’ve had since I was a teenager, and I regret absolutely nothing. “The Man Who Came to Dinner” is one of my all-time favorite plays, and, after all these years, I finally sat down and read “Once in a Lifetime” for the first time ever. I have always skipped over that play because it seemed dull the first time I tried to read it, but, while I still say it is the weakest of the three plays in the book, I enjoyed it well enough. Of course, uncomfortably outdated language is used, but, well, these things were written in the 30s.

In random manga-related news: Bless me, manga gods, for I am contemplating a rather large manga sin. I have been a faithful Black Butler stan since about 2012 or possibly even earlier, but we are now on volume 31 (in English) with no sign of stopping, and we’re at the point where I’m seriously considering giving up on the series and carting my collection off to the secondhand store. The only thing that’s stopping me right now is this uneasy feeling that I will regret it if I give up all my Black Butlers. I don’t know if this is a phase or what, but if we’re being perfectly honest the series kinda lost me when it went the secret twins route. I haven’t even bought volume 31, which apparently came out a year ago without my knowledge, and I have forgotten almost everything from the current arc. Of course as I’m typing this “Monochrome Kiss” is looping in my head so maybe I’ll stick with it because tsuki ga terashi teru gdi iykyk ;___;

Currently Reading

The Thursday Murder Club
Richard Osman
Current rating: 5 stars. I’m only on page 18, but this book is hilarious.

March Social Diary

Brunch with Coworkers

I don’t get to see my teammates as often as I’d like, (1) because we’re 100% remote and (2) because we live all over the place. This month, though, we managed to get together for brunch, and it was so nice. I can now safely say that I am a fan of First Watch’s Tangerine Dream. And also I ordered a rather large side to go with my entrée, because I was feeling both hungry and extra.

Another discovery, made after brunch: oreo croissants are a thing, and they are delicious. It was a really good day.

A DC Day Trip and an Excellent Bad Book Club

I forget exactly how, but Heather somehow learned about the existence of something called a “bad book club,” an informal gathering for people who like to complain about books, and which therefore had my name stamped all over it. I knew it. She knew it. We had to go. Since it happened to fall on a week night, and since any visit to DC is at least a six-hour commitment for me, we decided to play hooky and make a day out of it. Everything seemed to line up that day: the weather was perfect, traffic wasn’t too bad, and the Metro happened to be agreeable. Then I was walking to Heather’s apartment, and I saw these in the window of a secondhand bookstore.

I USED TO HAVE THE SAILOR MARS ONE OF THESE HOLY SHIT I NEVER THOUGHT I’D SEE THEM AGAIN. ;_; Mind you, I was running a bit late at that point and didn’t have time to stop in because I always underestimate the amount of time I’ll need to transport my ass to pretty much anywhere, but still. I was a Sailor Moon stan in middle/early high school, and these books really tripped my nostalgia wire. Looking at the pictures, I kinda wish I’d taken a quick second to look at the books out of professional layout-related curiosity, but that’ll have to wait till my next DC visit, assuming of course they’re still there. If the bookstore was deliberately setting a Millennial trap with this giant Sailor Moon display, they could not have done better.

Levain Bakery
Spotted on the walk to Georgetown:

I hope “coming soon” means “sometime within the next year.” JUST ONE THING: it slightly bothers me that they come across as a dim sum place when their menu is more pan-Asian, which is somewhat questionable given that Asian cuisines are frequently mistaken for one another, but their food sounds good and I like their mission statement, so I look forward to visiting them whenever they open.

Then (and after a slight detour into the Georgetown Paper Source, which I was pleased to see is still in business) we finally made it to Levain Bakery, which I had heard of but never tried, and I get it. I get the hype. They had a straight up milk menu with about four different kinds of milk. I don’t drink coffee and am still trying to acquaint myself with tea, so a bakery that makes it easy for me to obtain milk is something of a revelation. And, having now eaten the last of the cookie I brought home with me, I have decided that the chocolate chip walnut is my absolute favorite, but you really can’t go wrong with any of them. It’s lucky for my savings account that I don’t have a Levain anywhere near me.

Another amusing sign, spotted as we were leaving the bakery:

Natural History Museum
I love natural history. Every time I visit DC without a solid itinerary, I try to dragoon my friends into going to the natural history museum with me. In this case, the last time I went was a couple months before the pandemic really took off, so it’s been a minute. I don’t have too many pictures, and the pictures I took of the exhibits were more for layout inspiration purposes than for documentation, but I did grab these great signs.

And now a minute for a quick tantrum. Look, I didn’t even want an elephant keychain. I’m just pissed because this is just about the only time I’ve seen my name on one of these carousels, and THEY WERE FRESH OUT OF CAROLYNS. I never see “Carolyn” on the keychains because “Caroline” is always hogging the spotlight, and I probably never will. Curse the keychains, and curse the Carolines. I’m going to riot and put me and all the other Carolyns on the map. I’m pretty sure there’s maybe five of us tops, but just you wait. We’re gonna change the course of history.

The Actual Book Club
lol I was so caught up in my tantrum that I almost forgot what I went to DC for. The book club was great. I spend so much time raving online to an audience of one (myself) that I hadn’t realized how much I sometimes need to vent to living, breathing people who have the same breadth of book-related knowledge that I do. Even though I have friends who also read, they generally don’t read at the same volume or pace, and our in-person bookish conversations tend to be limited to me ranting and everybody else politely smiling and nodding. (Sorry, guys. :’D)

I have to admit that getting to the bookstore hosting the club was a pain in the ass, but do I regret it? Not for a second. There are days I feel completely cut off from the world, alone in my apartment with only the internet for company – which is a great time, to be sure, and I have no regrets on that count either because I am, above all else, a career introvert – but it was such a joy to bond with a handful of complete strangers over one very specific common interest. I cannot fully articulate how much I was able to decompress while yelling about books, both good and bad, with people I’ve never met. I got to rehash my review of The Snow Hare to a live audience, and learned about other books in my turn. I even made a new goodreads friend and came away with a couple of new additions to my TBR; and, of course, at the end of the day we were in a bookstore, so I left with three new books. (And I also tried to unhaul The Snow Hare, but unfortunately I un-sold it so well that nobody wanted it.)

As for the bookstore itself, it was charming. The layout was very attractive, and it also has a coffee bar, which I may visit next time. It was the best evening I’ve had in a while, and I want to go back. I was pleased to learn that the club meets once per quarter: I can’t attend every month if it’s always held on a week night, but quarterly sounds very doable.

And then after all that, and after I managed to cut myself off at three books, Heather and I went for dinner at Cava, which we ended up eating in our respective homes because a panhandler who stopped us on the way to the bookstore also came into the restaurant and started going down the line of customers. He wasn’t following us specifically, but it was starting to feel uncomfortable enough that we left, so my dinner was eaten around 11 p.m. after the 1.5-hour trip back to Towson and the pita was soggy (but still delicious :D). I am actually impressed that my wrap held up that well.

Resolution Check-In

My March spend-only-$100-on-food challenge was a hideous failure, and we are trying this again. This time I thought I’d try doing a big grocery binge on the first of the month (i.e., today) to stock up on meal-prepping supplies, then have a $100 budget for the rest of the month. I’m sure nothing will go wrong this time.

On the bright side, I’ve finally figured out how to fry an egg. It now turns out that my fried eggs kept breaking themselves open because I was flipping them too soon.

Yet even if I overspent my food budget by over 200% (lol #DishonorOnMyCow), I would say that my goal of cooking more and sticking to a strict diet of leftovers has gone extremely well – better, in fact, than I ever expected it would. I even made time to make pikelets, which I have been wanting to try ever since I read Nona the Ninth. My Locked Tomb stangirl heart is pleased. As for the pikelets themselves, one turned out beautifully and the other four looked like they fell into a fire, so I guess I’ve got some practicing to do.

Other highlights from March: my brother and I made gnocchi to use up the rest of the sausage I had in the freezer, I finally cooked and ate the two jars of Costco curry I got possibly when I was still in my old apartment (which was a little bit sour for my tastes, but paired perfectly well with udon), and I’ve managed to clear out a number of things I was keeping in the freezer, which is an awesome feeling. Among them: the Korean meatballs in the third picture down, served with scrambled eggs that were originally supposed to be a rolled omelet before, um, stuff happened. Look, I tried.

If we needed further proof that my rolling technique needs work, here’s my attempt at jianbing. Everything was hunky-dory until I took a knife to that asshole roll and started sawing it apart.

I’ll get it next time.