Book Series that Went to H-E-double-toothpicks: Michael Vey

I’m starting this series because there are so many series — kids’s series and adult series — that started out so promising and then just . . . went to hell.

I’m starting with Michael Vey simply because it’s the one that is on the screen in my Goodreads tab. It’s nothing personal about the series, or about Richard Paul Evans.

I picked up the first book, The Prisoner of Cell 25, in an airport. Geeze. Which airport, though? San Antonio? Baltimore? It doesn’t really matter, of course.

I. Loved. It. The characters were smart, they banded together and solved their problems. I believe it won some kind of award from, like, the science teachers’ association for the use of science both in the way the kids’ powers work and the way the kids used the scientific method in the book and . . .

I’m getting ahead of myself.

Okay, a little background. The Michael Vey series is about a teenage boy named, er, Michael Vey. Michael is being raised by his widowed mother and he’s pretty much your classic underdog — small for his age, smarter than average, and he has Tourette syndrome (not the dramatic swearing type — just a realistic tic-ing type). Oh. And he can shoot electricity from his hands.

Cheerleader Taylor Ridley sees Michael zap some bullies and talks to Michael privately. We find out that she also has electrical powers — she can distract people so that they forget what they were doing/talking about/etc.

We also meet Michael’s best friend Ostin. Ostin was born in Austin, Texas, and his mother isn’t as smart as he is and she misspelled the town of his birth on his birth certificate (I was willing to overlook that little plot detail, but maybe I shouldn’t have). Of course, not many people are as smart as Ostin, because Ostin is a certified genius.

Eventually, Michael, Taylor, and Ostin figure out that Michael and Taylor were born within a few days of each other at the same hospital and that a lot of the babies born that date in that hospital died soon after birth. But, clearly, not all of them did, so they begin to look for the babies who didn’t die, forming a “found family” that they refer to as the “Electroclan.”

And I liked the Electroclan. The kids are great and “found family, yay!” And the Electroclan isn’t limited to electric children. Ostin is a member and two of the bullies that Michael zaps at the beginning of the series join the Electroclan.

But not all of the electric children join the Electroclan. You see, the thing that caused the deaths of the babies and the formation of the electric children was some kind of imaging machine that used . . . electric waves to form the images. It was stronger than they expected and, well, the rest is history.

The machine was invented by a man named Charles James Hatch, who has become CEO of Elgen, the company that made the machine. Hatch has been collecting electric children, whom he calls “Glows,” because, well, they glow.

Hatch is a megalomaniac and goes megalomania-ing through the books of the series. He invents a power source called the Starxource system that is made from electric rats (“rats” backwards is “star”). And I’m, like, okay.

Then we find out that Hatch feeds employees who have displeased him to the rats and I’m, like, all right . . . .

So now we have our sides — Michael and his Electroclan vs. Hatch and his Glows. And, you know, a bunch of teenagers versus an entire multinational corporation, that should probably take a few books. Maybe even seven.

But as the series progresses, it gets more ludicrous. Hatch is having trouble sleeping, so he orders someone to bring him an atypical antipsychotic — Seroquel — to help him sleep. I was kind of appalled by this, because this is a book that won a science teachers’ award. Seroquel does cause drowsiness, but shouldn’t he be taking an actual sleeping pill like Lunesta or Ambien?

In The Battle of the Ampere, the third book in the series, Michael finds himself living among an uncontacted tribe in Peru, the Amacarra, who have another electric child living among them (so much for uncontacted) and who speak freaking Mandarin. For example, the chief says “Wo syiwang jeiyang,” which in characters is — probably — “我希望这样” and in English is definitely “I hope so.”

I mean, really. I actually emailed Evans to say that I certainly hoped that the fact that the Amacarra were speaking Mandarin was going somewhere. And I even stuck out the whole series at least partially in hopes that it would go somewhere.

It didn’t.

Eventually, Michael kills thousands of people by zapping them all but Michael doesn’t seem to have any kind of remorse or PTSD or anything, which really bugged me. I mean, he killed thousands of people. Augh!

The last book in the series focuses on people I neither knew nor cared about doing things that I certainly didn’t really care about. By the end of the final book, I decided to just sell the whole damn thing to a used book store. I’m really sad to lose Prisoner of Cell 25, because I did love it, but even I can’t convince myself that the series was “Book 1 and then they lived happily ever after,” and I believe that there were only four seasons of Buffy the Vampire Slayer — 1, 2, 3, and 5.

Now for a Gratuitous Amazon Link to a series that didn’t go to hell. This is the Streetlights Like Fireworks series by David Pandolfe. Streetlights Like Fireworks is a four-book series about Jack and Lauren, runaway teens with psychic powers. Jack and Lauren head out to track down a musician who disappeared in the 1990s and just kind of never go home again.

On second thought, here’s the first book, since apparently there isn’t a box set of all four: Streetlights Like Fireworks. I really love this series and am so tempted to rerereread it, but I have three books that I’m in the middle of and so I need to forge ahead. Maybe sometime in the future.

My Travel Memories: Union Station, Indianapolis, Indiana, 1991

Thomas and I would be coming up on our 30th wedding anniversary in November. We got married soon after our college graduations and I had gotten my first full-time job, as a file clerk at a law firm in January 1991, so by November, I’d earned six months of vacation time.

Thomas didn’t get his first job until September of 1991, so he didn’t have any vacation time coming. As a result, we took a four-day mini-honeymoon. My boss paid for two nights at the Drake Hotel in Chicago and then we went to Indianapolis for Monday and Tuesday and were back at work on Wednesday.

The first night we were in Indianapolis, we went downtown and found Union Station.

I love train station architecture. My first favorite was the Van Buren Street Station in Chicago, which I could tell had been lovely at one point, but was pretty run-down in the 1990s. I was also very taken by Chicago’s Union Station when I took a train to Milwaukee in the late 1980s.

Actually, no. My first favorite was Union Station Cincinnati, which I’ve written about before. Not that it matters. Back to Indianapolis.

Wikimedia says that this image is in the public domain. I don’t know when it was taken, but it’s before the streets of Indianapolis were paved. If this is not in the public domain, please let me know and I’ll replace it with a more modern photo that has been released into the public domain by the photographer.

Thomas and I went downtown and walked around a bit. We found the Soldiers and Sailors Monument and, eventually, Union Station. At the time, Union Station had a bunch of little mom-and-pop shops and I’ve always enjoyed what we referred to in our family as “malling,” which is kind of like window-shopping but in a mall. Usually, malling involves the purchase of an item, frequently food, in order to pay for the visit.

So, we malled for a bit and purchased an assortment of Jelly Belly jellybeans (possibly germane Amazon link?), including, if I recall correctly, jalapeño and buttered popcorn. They did, in fact, taste just like jalapeño and buttered popcorn, which was really disconcerting, since the texture was just . . . wrong.

There is a possibility that somewhere in my collection of belongings, I still have the Union Station t-shirt I bought that day.

My Gratuitous Amazon Links are going to stray from the Avatar the Last Airbender books after this one, because the “omnibus editions,” which have the whole story, for the next two storylines aren’t out yet. I didn’t realize that the book for Shadow and Stone wasn’t coming out until October 5 until I’d put the post together, so there’s a post on photography coming out on October 5.

For today, though, we have Suki, Alone, which is a standalone story about Suki’s time in the Boiling Rock prison. There are two more standalone stories out now, which will come up as Gratuitous Amazon Links once I’ve been able to read them.

This Is the Dawning of the Age of Public Domain

My mom and I went on a road trip with my dad in . . . 1990? 1991? One of the places we went was the home town of one of Thomas’s friends from college and I gave her a call while we were in town.

Actually it had to have been 1990. She and Thomas graduated in 1991 and she and her college boyfriend moved out of the country right after graduation (spoiler: two of their friends — another couple — moved with them and her boyfriend and the girlfriend of the other couple ended up falling in love and the friend came home). Since she was out of the country in the summer of 1991, it must have been 1990.

We didn’t really do much that was new that year. I think I’ve covered Greenfield Village before, so there’s that.

Then, in November 1991, Thomas and I got married. We went to Indianapolis for our 1st honeymoon. He’d only gotten his job in September and so he didn’t have any vacation time. As a result, we took a long weekend. Our bigger honeymoon was in 1992, when we went to Florida.

We didn’t take any pictures that I can find of the 1990 road trip and all of my/our photos of any trips we took between 1991 and 2001 are all in Thomas’s possession. As a result, any pictures I include here for those years will be gleaned from Wikimedia Commons and US government websites for pictures to fill in the blanks.

Now that I’m thinking about it, I’m not sure how much travel we did during those years. We went back and forth between here and Chicago quite a lot and we went to Eau Claire Wisconsin for a wedding and visited the Minnesota State Fair while we were up there.

Oh! We went to Seattle for Thomas to interview for Microsoft and took our first trip to California.

Wow. I’ll have to rack my brain on this one.

For today’s Gratuitous Amazon Link, I’ll be doing the next Avatar: The Last Airbender comic. This time we have The Rift, by by Gene Luen Yang, Gurihiru, and Michael Heisler. Now I was scared to read this one at first. I was a fan of Smallville for the first few seasons and “The Rift” was what we called the time when Lex and Clark’s friendship would end. As a result, my initial reaction to the title was that the Gaang was going to break up. They don’t. They may come to a parting of the ways, but it hasn’t happened yet.

My Travel Memories: Epcot Center, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida, 1989 (also 1992 and 2003)

I am probably going to spend the rest of my life saying that I went to Epcot for the first time in 1982. I know this isn’t true, and that I went for the first time in 1989, but it’s something that I believed for a long time until I started this project and it’ll be a long time before I shake it.

Yes, Epcot opened in 1982. Yes, I went to WDW in 1982. But I went to WDW in July and Epcot opened in October. Therefore I could not have been there until our next Florida trip in 1989.

First, as always, a little (or, I guess, generally, a lot) of history.

The original term “E.P.C.O.T.” was Walt Disney’s dream of building an actual city out there in central Florida. The name is an acronym of “Experimental Prototype Community/City of Tomorrow.” Disney dreamed of making a community in the shape of a circle, with the business district in the center, other buildings (schools, recreation, health care, etc.) in a ring around that, and then a residential area around that.

Disney envisioned the “experimental” as quite possibly the most important part. They would experiment with agriculture and nutrition, with medicine and science, with urban planning, etc.

After Disney’s death in 1966, the Disney corporation decided not to go through with this plan. With one thing and another, though, they ended up developing a theme park using some of these ideas. The focus of the theme park, now called “EPCOT Center” was on edutainment.

There were pavilions dedicated to agriculture, to communication, travel, and to marine science, among other things. We didn’t watch too many of the animatronic shows when we were there the first time, but we did some of the rides, including the ride that led to the hydroponic garden, which was awesome, and the 3d movie Captain EO, starring Michael Jackson. My father was not impressed by the movie.

Some of the tile work in the Morocco section of the World Showcase

The back half of Epcot is the World Showcase. For reasons that you’ll understand, since the original intent of this blog was travel writing, I adore the World Showcase.

There are 11 countries in the World Showcase, including (roughly geographically, starting in North America) Canada, the United States, Mexico, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Norway, Italy, Morocco, China, and Japan. Originally the plan was to have more countries, but that never panned out.

I loved the United Kingdom, of course, since I’ve totally been an Anglophile since my childhood. Japan was awesome both for being so different, and also for having an actual . . . branch? of a real Japanese department store, the Mitsukoshi Department store.

I have always especially loved Epcot Morocco, though. I mean, look at that arch in the photo above. What’s not to just adore there? And much, much later I found out that there’s a reason why Morocco’s tile work is so amazing. It was done by the personal artisans of King Hassan II, the king of Morocco from 1961 through 1999. Wow.

I’ve been reading some articles about how the front half of Epcot is not what it used to be, which is sad. Epcot was one of my favorite theme parks for the edutainment of it all. I’m not a huge fan of theme parks (though I do need to visit Fiesta Texas and SeaWorld again so that I can blog about them), but if edutainment theme parks were bigger, I’d totally be there.

Today’s Gratuitous Amazon Link is for the next storyline in the Avatar: The Last Airbender comics: The Search. In this storyline, the Gaang take off with Azula in tow to find Zuko’s mom, Ursa. I become increasingly worried about Azula’s mental health in this one, as well.

Book Series: The Selection, by Kiera Cass

I’m not sure why I’m starting my travel-book-travel pattern with this series. It’s just been on my mind lately. I’m watching through all 411 (at this point!) videos from Overly Sarcastic Productions right now, and probably for all of the foreseeable future, and I recently watched Red’s Trope Talks video (a crossover with a channel called Hello Future Me, which I may check out someday if I ever finish OSP) on Dystopias, which I compared to this series as I went.

Then, I finally found the second and third books in the series, which is why I hadn’t included it in my rereading project. No point in trying to reread something that you can’t find.

There was something else, but I can’t remember what it was. It’ll come to me.

It may have been someone saying that JK Rowling didn’t decide she wanted to put Ron and Hermione together until Goblet of Fire, and I said that it was obvious to me since the moment when Ron hoped Hermione would be put in a different house from him, since “I hate you, therefore I’ll love you” is a big thing. This made me think about America and Maxon’s relationship and now I have thoughts about the whole series.

What follows will have spoilers. If you don’t want to know that Maxon is Darth Vader’s son or that America’s been dead since chapter one*, go read the books first and come back. I’ll be here.

When I reviewed The Selection (non-Gratuitous Amazon link!) for the first time, I said that the dystopia is based on a not-very-likely sequence of events. Basically, China calls in the United States’s debts and the US can’t pay them, so China ends up owning the United States. A man named Gregory Illéa (is that a real last name? All that comes up when I search for it is this series) leads a rebellion against China and wins the freedom of what used to be the US, along with Mexico and at least part of Central America.

This is a problem because China was at the time The Selection was written the largest part of the US’s *foreign* debt. Currently, the largest foreign holder of debt is Japan. Either way, though, they hold less than 20% of our total foreign debt, but most of our debt is in Social Security and pension plans, and the amount of foreign debt we hold looks to me to be about equal to how much we owe banks.

What I’m saying is that if China called in its debt, there are a lot of other governments, banks, etc., who would be there to lend us the money to pay China back. Uncomfortable, maybe, but hardly enough to sink us.

Anyway, they rename the country Illéa after Gregory and Gregory, as King, decides to stratify the country into eight castes, starting with the royal family as One and the homeless as Eight.

Our heroine, America, is a Five, which is the caste of artists and musicians. Art and musical superstars, however, are Twos and music producers are Threes and the engineers who operate the recording equipment are . . . Sixes, I think. Cass indulges in some “Makers” and “Takers” stuff here. After all, without the Madonnas and Eminems**, the recording engineers and backup singers and session musicians and such would be out of work.

Like she literally says that. Well, not Madonna and Eminem, but that the Twos are supporting everyone beneath them with their star power. And that’s not how it works. The Twos are supported by everyone beneath them at least as much. If there were no session musicians, backup singers, recording technicians, etc., the Twos would have no way to reach their audience and their careers would end.

Argh.

I also wasn’t sure for a very long time where everything in Illéa is. I actually wrote to Cass asking for a map. We finally do get the map in one of the sequels.

Now. On to the plot.

Our heroine, America Singer, is, as I said before, a Five. She has been having a clandestine romance with a Six, Aspen Leger and, as a woman between 16 and 20, she is invited to apply for The Selection, the process by which the heir to the throne of Illéa chooses a wife. One woman is chosen from each of the 35 provinces to compete.

Aspen wants her to apply and eventually they break up. America’s mother bribes America to enter and she is eventually chosen to represent her district. She travels to the capital of Illéa, Angeles, and there she makes both friends and enemies among the other women of the Selection.

There are all sorts of rules for the Selection, including that they are basically Maxon’s property during The Selection. They cannot refuse Prince Maxon anything he asks for, and they are not allowed any other relationships.

This becomes a major stumbling block when Aspen returns, having been chosen to become a palace guard. Aspen wants to rekindle their relationship and she still loves him, so they sneak around fooling around for a while, but thanks to plot armor, no one ever catches them.

Of course, we can’t follow 35 women for a long time, so the number whittles down pretty quickly. Maxon sends a bunch home the first night, others choose to go home. There is a subplot about two rebel groups, one from the north and one from the south. One rebel group attacks the palace, leading Maxon to prune down the final group to just the six he likes best, rather than the traditional ten.

All throughout this, America has been honest with Maxon that she loves someone else, which at first allows Maxon to relax more around her, since she doesn’t really want to marry him. And since he’s relaxed, she’s more relaxed and they really do start to fall in love.

Maxon is pretty devoted just to America (who is still being pursued by Aspen) and thinks that if she doesn’t marry Maxon, she’ll just marry Aspen and still end up being a Two, since the wife’s caste matches the husband’s caste and palace guards are Twos. That was really offputting for me. I’ll reread the books and elaborate later.

America also has trouble reading a room and makes some faux pas’es (fauxes pas? WTF?) and she actively makes an enemy of the King, Clarkson.

Overall, though, I really enjoyed the series. The characterizations were good, the dialogue was great, America also has a few minutes that made me want to pull my hairs out (like the abovementioned “Aspen will be an acceptable consolation prize” scene), but really those served to make America a more interesting character.

In a way, I stuck this series out not to see whom Maxon would choose (I mean, it’s America’s series — who else would he choose?), but to see whom I wanted him to choose. The first runner up, Kriss, would also have been a great match for Maxon. I did end up shipping Maxon with America, but Maxon/Kriss was very, very close.

*No she hasn’t. It’s just the plot twist that came to mind first.

**According to Wikipedia, they are the highest-earning musicians who are (a) still alive and (b) American citizens.

My Travel Memories 1989 (and again in 1992): St. Augustine, Florida

I think we went to St. Augustine when I was really, really young, too, but don’t remember that trip, so we’ll just ignore it for now.

This first trip is germane to my post because when I was in . . . fifth grade . . . ? My texbook said that St. Augustine was the oldest continually occupied permanent European settlement in what is now the United States and I seemed to remember having been there.

Of course, it is more complicated than that, as it turns out, but that was shocking enough for our little 10-year-old brains. I mean, the Pilgrims! They’d been here longer than anyone!

And, of course, well, no. The Mayflower immigrants have indeed been here a very long time for Europeans, but Jamestown has been there longer than . Also, San Juan, Puerto Rico is older than St. Augustine.

I know there’s an organization for descendants of the Mayflower immigrants. Are there organizations for the descendants of the first settlers of Jamestown and St. Augustine? If there aren’t, there should be.

And, well, yeah. There are. Jamestown descendants have the Jamestowne Society and St. Augustine descendants have, or maybe had, since their website doesn’t look to have been updated since 2014, the Los Floridianos Society.

Hey, look! A picture I took in Saint Augustine! I know I took this picture because those are my parents, so I must have been holding the camera. These are the city gates, which were build of coquina (more on that in the text of the post) were built in 1808 and don’t look this large in other photos.

Welp. I guess some history is in order now. The first recorded visit to Florida by a European was by Juan Ponce de León in 1513. The Spanish had been in the Caribbean for years at that point, so another Spaniard may have made it there before then, but if so, there’s no recorded history of the visit.

When I was growing up, we were told that Ponce de León was looking for the Fountain of Youth, but he probably wasn’t. There’s a whole chain of events there that I really don’t want to go into here. Maybe I’ll dig into it someday and write about it. I am trying to come up with lots of content this month, after all.

Fast forward 52 years. The King of Spain ordered Pedro Menéndez de Avilés, who was based in the Indies, to establish a settlement on the mainland and destroy Fort Caroline, a French settlement near what is now Jacksonville, Florida. They sighted the coast of Florida on August 28, which is the Feast of St. Augustine, hence the name.

There were skirmishes and things and people died. War is not really my historical . . . jam? This mess was, by the way, all about religion. The French settlement was Protestant and to be Spanish at the time was to be Roman Catholic. Eventually, it looks like all of the men of Fort Caroline except a few with useful skills and those who claimed to still be Roman Catholic, were all killed and all that was left were French women and children, and the Spanish settlement of St. Augustine.

There’s nothing left of the original settlement, which was really disappointing to me when I discovered this in 1989. The fort that’s there, the Castillo de San Marcos, is the oldest masonry fort in the United States, but it dates from 1672, over 100 years after St. Augustine was founded.

The Castillo is made from coquina, which is a really cool kind of limestone where you can still see the shells that make up the stone. Unfortunately, I don’t have any closeup pictures of the coquina (I wonder if Thomas and I took any, not that it would matter, since he has those pictures).

The rest of the buildings in St. Augustine date from then or later, but this historic district is a really pretty little area and was actually kind of how I imagined San Antonio would look. Turns out the La Villita section of San Antonio is kind of similar in feel, but San Antonio in general is kind of suburban feeling.

I need to go back to St. Augustine one of these days if only to take some pictures of my own. Alex will inherit both his dad’s and my pictures someday and I’d like for my descendants to have that record of history.

For today’s Gratuitous Amazon Link, we’re continuing the Avatar: the Last Airbender kick with the first of the comic book sequels, The Promise, by Bryan Konietzko, Michael Dante DiMartino , Gene Luen Yang, and Gurihiru. The war is finally over and now the Gaang have to begin the process of picking up the pieces. Zuko is terrified of turning out like his father and strongarms Aang into promising to kill him if he turns evil. Then Zuko heads out to start to get the Fire Nation out of the Earth Kingdom, a project that turns out to be harder than it originally looked.

Crap. Where Did I Leave Off?

I want to try for a mini-NaNoWriMo for September. I don’t expect much, since it’s almost September 3 and I’ve written, well, about this much.

I left off on my travel memories sometime in the 1980s and I still have 30-some years to go. I also have been doing a lot of reading this year. Like, right now, Goodreads thinks I’ve read more than 90 books.

I haven’t read more than 90 books, because there are a bunch of books that I don’t ever intend to read again and I got in the habit of flagging them as read on the date that I remembered having read them. This adds quite a few to my book total. I’m slowly moving them to December 31, 2020, so that when I actually finish 2021, I’ll have a correct number and then my numbers for 2021 won’t be thrown off until . . . .

Maybe I should move them farther back. Or, yeah, I’ll just make December 31, 2020 my permanent place to abandon those books and from 2021 on, my book counts will be accurate. We’ll play with that idea at first and see how it goes.

I’m really thinking about taking turns writing about books I’ve really enjoyed (with not-so-gratuitous Amazon links therein) and books that I didn’t enjoy at all (with slightly-more-gratuitous Amazon links).

I think that has potential.

Now where did I leave off on travel memories? I didn’t realize that I had finished our 1988 New York/Philadelphia/Baltimore trip. Woot!

So now I’m on our 1989 trip to Florida. I only did half of this trip with my folks. I drove down to Florida with them, then flew back and stayed at my in-laws’s so that I could spend some time with Thomas.

So it looks like next up is St. Augustine, Florida and then Epcot. Yay!

Gratuitous Amazon Link time! Turns out my Amazon links are a real mess. I don’t even know where I left off. I think I’ve spent more time poring over my Goodreads list to figure out where the heck I am. I seemed to have gone from October of 2020 to . . . oh. I figured it out. I read Solutions and Other Problems in October of 2020 *and* in January of 2021.

So. Back to October 2020. Or, well, November of 2020. In November, I reread a whole bunch of graphic novels and collections of issues of comic books. I need to figure out how to tackle the collections because marching lockstep through Ms. Marvel Volume I, Ms. Marvel Volume 2, . . . doesn’t sound like fun.

So let’s do the beginning of the comic sequels to the Avatar the Last Airbender series. Or, maybe we should start with the Avatar the Last Airbender series and then go from there. This link is for Blu-Ray, but you can get DVDs from a link on that page.

Next up, The Promise comic sequel. Woo!

Dream Diary: The One That Got Away

I don’t know if you know what I mean by “the one that got away,” but a lot of people have them. “The one that got away” is a love interest that you were very invested in, but things didn’t work out and you really regret it. My mom had a “one that got away,” her high school sweetheart, whom she kind of regretted breaking up with.

After my mom died, I found an obituary for someone that I think was him, and it wouldn’t’ve worked out. He became a pastor, and, well, how do I make this read smoothly? I’ve reworked this part three times now.

Near where I grew up, there was a church. I’m a Christian as was my mom, but this church had some, not really doctrinal (though there were those, as well) but . . . business-related activities that my mom disagreed with.

The obituary I found said that he worked at that church. Everything else matches up — his (fairly common) name, his age, he was even in the state where my mom was while they were dating. And, well, the pictures of him I found do look like this pastor was her “type.”

So, yeah.

In my dream last night, my “one that got away” was Keith Habersberger from the Try Guys. Why him in particular? I don’t know. The real life Keith is young enough to be my son. So we were never in school together, but in my dream, we had been classmates.

I got a chance to go back in time and fix what had gone wrong between us. I walked up to him and when I made eye contact with him, his career with the Try Guys and his relationship with Becky, his wife, all came flooding back to me and I just couldn’t do it. I didn’t know what kind of life he and I would’ve had, but he seems really happy with Becky and the whole Try Guys thing, so I told him that I had a feeling that he would get everything he wants and deserves from life and he offered me his friendship and promised that we’d keep in touch.

At some point, I attended the wedding of Zach Kornfeld and his fiancee Maggie. She was a beautiful bride. I don’t know if I was, like, there because I knew the Try Guys from my friendship with Keith or what.

Time to get back to Gratuitous Amazon Links. This is another favorite — A Deadly Education, by Naomi Novik. A Deadly Education is the first of a series about El, short for Galadriel, who is a student at a school for witches and wizards. El is a natural dark wizard (called a “Maleficer” in this series) who is determined not to go down that path. The school is well drawn and I enjoy the supporting characters. The second book comes out in just over a month and I’m really excited for it. I also bought a copy of this for a friend and will buy her the next book, too.

Dream Motif: Aquariums

I don’t know why I dream about aquariums so often. Do I feel trapped? Is it a play on Evelyn describing my pharmacy as a fishbowl? Am I missing having something to take care of since Alex grew up?

Last night, I dreamed that something terrible was happening to our house (and also that we were all due to meet the Queen of England) and so I ran back into the house for my books and a selection of dresses that might be suitable for meeting the Queen. Someone, maybe Alex, asked about my fish, and I remembered that I had to get them, too. The aquarium was too heavy to lift, so we had to move the fish into other containers and we had to drain off some of the water. Interesting to me, though, we didn’t drain it entirely, because I knew, even in my dreams, that putting fish directly into a brand-new tank of water is bad for them.

I can kind of find where this came from, probably. Two houses on one of my coworker’s street have been razed and are being replaced by mansions too big for their lots. And basically everyone who has a house in my pharmacy is being pestered by developers to sell their houses.

Now, I never wanted a house and a house will be a bad choice for me long-term, but I love my house and having it razed and replaced by a McMansion? Not the stuff of pleasant dreams.

I never did find a suitable dress to meet the Queen. I was considering the dress I wore to my friend Mary’s wedding but never made a final decision.

Other aquarium dreams include being criticized by some stranger for the way I attempted to grow plants in my aquarium, having an aquarium that somehow had two levels to it, going back to college where, somehow, I ended up in charge of the aquarium in some kind of fish-based laboratory, and spending a lot of time looking at fish tanks at the zoo.

Dream Journal 4/24/2021

So. I’ve been cleaning and now I have a headache. Let’s see how much writing I can do before I have to go hide in a dark room. I told this all to Evelyn to cement it in my mind so that I can remember it now.

Just as a little background, Jenny Lawson, writer of books like Let’s Pretend This Never Happened, lives in San Antonio. She owns the Nowhere Bookshop bookstore in a kind of suburb of San Antonio called Alamo Heights (it’s its own town, but if you address things with “San Antonio” as the address it will reach it’s destination). Because of COVID, the bookstore has never been open to the public. They do curbside pickup and mail order and, of course, there’s the Fantastic Strangelings Book Club, which supports the bookstore.

Anyway, it’s Independent Bookseller’s Day today and to celebrate they were having a sidewalk sale, and Evelyn and I were going. I’m 95% certain this is what inspired these dreams.

First off, I was in a restaurant sitting at a table deciding what to order, when I noticed a coworker sitting at a bar. She had a cup of, like, espresso in front of her, but she said she wanted a full-sized cup of coffee.

I saw that the pot (which was one of those little moka pots they use to make stovetop espresso) still had coffee in it, so I gave her a full-sized cup of that and went in search of things to make another pot. I went to the end of the counter, where the singer J. Balvin was sitting and asked him where the measuring spoons were and he informed me that the Spanish word for measuring spoon was “culebra.” I made a little serpentine wave with my arm and asked, “¿Culebra?”*

He was kind of like, “Don’t ask me, I don’t make the rules.”

As I went back to my table, I realized that Balvin had just written a book and that I could have it autographed while he was here. I asked the guy who owned the restaurant if they would hold my table while I ran out to buy a copy.

He pointed to the line at the host’s table and said that the rush was about to start and that if I wasn’t back by then, he’d give my table away.

So I promised that if I couldn’t see a copy from the front door of the bookstore, I’d come right back.

After hurrying as fast as I could with my path being blocked by a large woman who looked like my Aunt Georgia from behind, I reached the bookstore and the entrance was now a sitting area and you can’t see any books from the door.

Later, I had another dream related to Nowhere Bookshop even more directly. I dreamed that Jenny Lawson herself was moving to my neighborhood, only it wasn’t where I’m living now, it was where I was living when I was a teenager. In real life, there is an empty lot at the end of the street but in my dream it was a marshland with a little grotto with a tiny waterfall there. I was admiring the waterfall when Jenny walked up to me.

I didn’t want to fangirl all over her, so I introduced myself, said hello and then took off.

So, as it turned out, the sidewalk sale turned into a “come-in-and-browse” sale and, instead of maybe seeing Jenny through the window, as I had expected, she was actually in the store and was talking to people. And I got to meet her. I told her about my dream, by way of offering to leave her alone, but she seemed approachable and friendly and I’m still fangirling, nearly 12 hours later.