maura @ 5:26 pm
Last Friday I went to a conference in Manhattan and had what can only be described as an epicly cruddy commute into the city. I left in (what I thought was) plenty of time to make it to the keynote speaker and walked the 7 minutes or so to the subway station. And then I waited, and waited, and waited, the platform getting more crowded as time progressed. After I’d been in the station for about 20 minutes a train finally pulled in, and of course it was much too crowded for anyone new to get on. I waited some more, maybe 5 minutes or so, and was just about to leave the station when another train pulled in, similarly crowded. So I walked upstairs and out to the street and 2 blocks up the hill to the other subway station. Paid my fare (again!) and got on a train (thankfully of standard rush hour person-density) that arrived a couple of minutes after I got there. Of course that train was the wrong train for that line, temporarily rerouted because of a sick passenger or somesuch. Three stops later an announcement came on that the train was switching back to its original line, so I had to get off and switch trains again. I waited a normal amount of time for the next train which then proceeded to move slooooooowly (“please be patient”) through the next several stops, before finally getting up to normal speed once we were in Manhattan. I had to switch trains (planned, this time) one last time before I got off at my stop and walked the 10 minutes over to the conference.
Total commute time = nearly 2 hrs for something that should have taken me 1 hour at the most.
While alternately moving through the various stages of transit-related frustration or reading on my phone (thank you, Instapaper) during my trip, I also started thinking about the relationship between travel and time. Time while traveling (by non-self-powered means) is different than time otherwise. The MTA bends time, forces it to collapse or expand, making you so far yet so close, or so close yet so far. At one point on Friday I’d spent 50 minutes and 2 subway fares to get to a station that’s a 30 minute walk from my house.
What makes me grumpiest about transit delays is that it always seems like they happen on the one day when I need to go somewhere by a specific time. But of course having somewhere to be is a prerequisite for a delay; it wouldn’t be a delay in any real sense of the word if it were optional, a part of standard or normal life.
Car delays (= traffic) are numbing, probably because I hate car travel and feel guilty whenever we drive anywhere. But with a subway delay my brain goes into calculation overload, like the alterna-Astrid on Fringe. Should I change to another line? Which would be fastest? Of course the system is rigged against me because I don’t have access to all of the data points at once. What if I change to another line and that line has delays? Will the walk through the station to switch trains be faster than just sitting here waiting for this train I’m on to finally move? Those sunk costs can be difficult to overcome.
Ultimately it’s all about splitting timelines. What happened to that version of me at the original station, the one who waited for a train to come that wasn’t overfull. Where is she now? And did she get to the conference in time to hear the keynote speaker?
maura @ 9:44 pm
You guys! How did I get to this ripe old age and not know that right after work is the best time to go to the gym? How?! This is week 2 of my new go to the gym 2 nights/week and be home in time for (a smidge later than usual) dinner, and it’s 100% rad. And this after I was just about to suggest that we up and quit the Y!
We used to have family gym time on Saturdays which was the whole reason we joined the Y in the first place. But then Gus decided he didn’t want to take swimming anymore and while we can go for free swim, the older he gets, the less he’s into it. This also means that we eat less Shake Shack, which in some ways is kind of like going to the gym all on its own, right?
I’ve gone some weekends on my own, but by the time I can get there it’s usually after lunch and my energy level’s kind of tanking at that point. Plus it always seems like a time-waster to have to take the subway there + back. I’ve tried to go on the occasional morning before work, but it’s a pain to have to shower there (even though they do have towels) and I always end up at work kind of sweaty and later than I want to be. Plus the morning’s my best writing time, so while I can get up at 6 or 6:30 and go to the gym early, really if I’m going to get up that early I should be writing.
So I was moping around a couple of weeks ago saying we should quit the gym, when it suddenly occurred to me that maybe I could try and go after work. Between the increase in homework (thank you, middle school. not really.) and the slightly later bedtime brought on by the kid’s advanced age, it’s not the end of the world anymore if we don’t sit down to dinner until 6:45 or 7. Which is totally doable if I trot out of work in a timely fashion and hightail it down to the Y.
And yay for after work gymming! Because if I’ve had a good day, yay for extra happy endorphin feelings. And if I’m feeling a little down, yay for happy endorphin feelings. And if I’m grumpy, welcome happy feelings + the tendency for my brain to zone out to the music = grumpiness be gone. I think I’m sleeping better, too, about which I’m especially grateful in these last few crazy weeks of the semester. That’s a win win win win, in case you’re keeping track.
maura @ 10:23 pm
Days Gus had off school for Spring Break: 7 weekdays
Days I had off work for Spring Break: 2 vacation days taken
States or state-like entities visited: 3 (Delaware, Washington DC, and New York)
States driven through in transit: 2 (New Jersey, Maryland)
Cousins who were sick during our visit: 1.5 (out of 5)
Immediate family who got sick: 0 (incroyable!)
Plastic eggs filled by me and Jonathan playing the role of the Easter Bunny: 40
Peeps microwaved: 0 (they were chocolate-dipped, too messy)
People sleeping in my mom’s extra bedroom the one night we allowed a sleepover: 4
Times Gus and his cousin woke up (and woke us up): too many to count
Inches of snow predicted for the day we drove from DE to DC: 6
Inches achieved: 4ish in DE, less as we got there, just raining in DC
Days I attended the US Dept of Education’s Institutional Services grants Project Directors’ Conference: 2.5
Times I walked through Dupont Circle: 7
Times the Dupont Circles’ “Everywhere Girl” was in my head as I walked through Dupont Circle: 7
Museums visited by Gus and Jonathan: 4 (Postal Museum, Museum of Natural History, Spy Museum, National Zoo)
Museums visited by me: 2 (Postal Museum, National Zoo)
Sleepy pandas spotted at the zoo: 1, snoozing mostly behind a log
Spazzy Asian short-clawed otters spotted at the zoo: about 12 (OMG so cute and funny!)
Books read by a 6th grader during the break: 2 (Ender’s Game and Animal Farm)
Hours of 6th grade homework that awaited us upon return from parts south: approximately 8
Days until the standardized tests are over: 19
Most surprising (in a nice way) part of the break: watching Adventure Time *live* in the hotel in DC! Very fun.
maura @ 10:38 pm
Last weekend I finally got back to Journey, one of the Playstation 3 games we got for xmas (along with the PS3 itself). I played most of the way through on Saturday night then finished it Monday. It was amazing, incredible — the reviews are all spot-on, the awards well-deserved.
You play as a gender-neutral person (yay!), plopped down in a desert with a huge mountain in the distance. The game essentially involves walking through what you gradually realize is a ruined city to get to the mountain. There are small challenges to figure out along the way which allow you to progress, but the game is more about the atmosphere — visual, audio, your movement — than solving puzzles. It’s absolutely gorgeous: time progresses from morning to night throughout your journey and the colors shift accordingly. You can walk along the sand (or slide down hills, which is delightful!) but also, sometimes, fly — the amount of time spent flying is determined by how long your scarf is. Finding glyphs on each level lengthens your scarf, and flying cloth creatures of various sorts, some incredibly playful, recharge it.
Perhaps the most interesting feature of Journey is that the Playstation’s network pairs you up with another player in real time if enough other people are playing (though you never encounter more than one at a time). I knew about this feature beforehand so it didn’t surprise me when it happened, though it was interesting to see what happened to *my* gameplay when it did. The first time I encountered another player, yo was nearly to the end of solving a puzzle to activate what was needed to move to the next level. I found myself slightly annoyed — I hadn’t had the opportunity to move about and explore everything on that level, and I wanted to hit some of those switches too before moving on. So I exited out of the game and came back in, then progressed through the level the way *I* wanted to. As it turns out, another player joined me again, but this time I’d been in that space for long enough that I was ready to move on, and we crossed to the next level together.
The random other person in your gamespace but not in your living room mechanic is so interesting. It’s a highly meditative game, and even with another player there’s no way to talk or really communicate. I won’t spoil anything by saying that there are times in the game when it’s really, really helpful to have someone else there, when it’s advantageous to be paired rather than alone. But Journey begins, and ends, with solo play. A nice touch at the end is that before the credits run the screen displays the usernames of all of the other players you encountered during your game.
In many ways the real measure of how much I like a game is how soon I think about playing it again once I’ve finished. I think Journey is the first game ever in which I knew I’d play again soon even as the credits were rolling. Throughout your travels the game gives you little clues about what’s happened in that place, though I found them to be fairly opaque on my first playthrough. Gus started playing almost immediately after I finished, and watching him has made many things clear. I’m absolutely looking forward to playing it again. It’s beautiful and sad and amazing, really pushes videogames (especially console games) in some interesting directions.
Lest we leave this post on too much of a reverent note, a funny story: of course the very next day Gus had found the Journey wiki where he could do all the obsessive research he could stomach, just like any child of a librarian/academic would. Jonathan suggested he ask a question on the wiki’s forums about the lyrics for Open Arms, which had both of us old folks giggling while the youngster looked confused. And then we had to remind Gus that Journey is the music playing at the beginning of Tron Legacy when Flynn’s son powers up the video arcade. And then we felt really, really old.
maura @ 9:58 pm
The most surprising thing about the aging process is how it goes through phases of happening all at once. When I turned 40 a few years ago it seemed like no big deal, 40, phhfft, who cares? Things are the same, of course they’re the same, why wouldn’t they be the same? But gradually it’s settled in: aging, it’s for real. All of a sudden my hair is grayer,* my eyes don’t like contact lenses anymore,** and to make matters worse far-sightedness has been added to my near-sightedness, what the what? Of course this is probably only surprising to me — I guess I’d never really read or thought much about the humdrum practicalities of the far side of forty.
* I actually don’t mind the gray at all, never have, though I will cop to a smidge of worry about the nonconformist nature of many of the gray strands. We’ll see how anarchic things get — worst case scenario I will finally have an excuse to see how it looks short, which hasn’t been the case for a long long time.
** After almost 30 years, how could they betray me like that? I used to wear them for 18 hours straight, to a smoke-filled late-night concert, and put them right back in after just a few hours of sleep. And now I can’t wear the plastic see-helpers for more than about 6 hrs at a time. This summer I need to find a good optometrist and explore some options, I think.
Today was another aha moment. Last night I was up late, very late (for me), til about 1am, and I had a touch of the awesome (not) early morning insomnia today so up at 6. And as it turns out, the occasional night of 5 hours of sleep is no longer really feasible if I want to have a productive day. Today was slow. Slooooooooooow. I kept drinking coffee, and it kept not helping. I had a candy bar, because I deserved it. No sugar rush. No rushing of any sort, more like padding down a hallway in soft slippers.
It wasn’t the kind of crushing, I-could-fall-asleep-at-any-moment kind of tiredness that hits you when you’ve done lots of exercise or travel or that kind of thing. It was more the blanket-of-muffle kind of tiredness. Everything seemed a little bit unreal, like I was behind glass. Everything took longer, far loooooonger than usual. It’s not that I didn’t get anything done — I walked Gus to school, finished and crossed a bunch of stuff off my list at work, even went to a meeting. It’s more that I kept losing focus and spacing out, then snapping back to attention.
Today was my least meeting-laden day this week so I’m a little bit sad about this, though not too sad, because I just can’t work up the energy for that. But last night’s waking excess was for a good cause: I’m happy to report that Chapter 6 is drafted and in my research partner’s hands, woo! And that’s worth all the spaciness and wasted coffee money for sure.
maura @ 9:09 am
I’m having a lot of trouble writing lately, most specifically writing chapter 6. Partly I think it’s that chapter 6 is the last chapter in section 1 of the book and in the big outline we did at the very beginning of planning the book it was the most fuzzy chapter in that section. The chapter (which we’ve tentatively titled “Fitting It All In”) begins with a discussion of how the students we talked to manage their time. This is a pretty straightforward writing task: grab the data (student quotes) from the relevant codes, pick the best quotes to include and write expository text around them. Not that it’s nothing — writing is never nothing — but it’s easier than the rest of the chapter.
Because chapter 6 also needs to pull together the threads from chapters 2-5 into a coherent discussion of the scholarly ecosystem of undergraduates, highlighting the overall themes of place, tools, and time. And chapter 6 also needs to set up section 2 of the book: a deep dive into student work on research-based assignments which will demonstrate the way the strategies and constraints discussed in section 1 are expressed in a particular type of academic work. And there are other sources to pull in, too, from other studies like ours and from the literature on student engagement and anything else that might be relevant.
Part of the block is my standard internal whining about having enough time to work. Why is writing so hard, why does it take so long, why can’t I sleep less and write more, etc. etc. etc. I’m still looking back at January with regrets, which is silly, really, because despite losing the first week of the month to illness I was still able to finish the shitty first draft of chapter 5 on MLK Day. But then work got very busy and I took a week break from the book and I’m having trouble revving my brain up again. I’m back to taking RT on two mornings each week and it should be enough, has been enough: 3 hours if I can get my act together enough to start just before 8 (I have to leave at 11 to get into work by 11:30). Three hours is nothing to sneeze at, and yet I’m moping around like a teenager bemoaning how there’s just not enough time, oh woe is me. (Ironic, isn’t it, since time is the framework for chapter 6?)
More than anything I think I’m psyching myself out about chapter 6 doing all the things and being perfect and amazing and OMG the best thing ever written about anything ever!!! Which is silly. It doesn’t need to be any of that. It’s not a heavy lift; it’s the same as the rest of the book. It just needs to tell our students’ stories and suggest strategies we think could help them succeed despite the constraints they face. That’s it. The students we interviewed shared so much with us, I just need to make sure their voices are heard.
Writing is slow work, even the easier bits. Back to the best writing advice ever, from Anne Lamott: keep my butt in the chair for three hours. And sometimes it’s okay to write 500 blog words before settling down to write book words.
maura @ 9:27 pm
There is apparently a historic blizzard heading our way, if the amped up folks from the weather channel are to be believed. I’m trying not to get my hopes up because seriously, winter has been so very lame lately, and there’s no use getting excited if what we’re going to end up with is 38 degrees F and torrentially raining. I’m starting off with the grumpiness now, so it’ll be good and settled in by tomorrow.
I shouldn’t complain too much, since this winter has been better than last. At least this year there’s been some snow, though it’s been largely aesthetic rather than functional. Still, falling snow is a quiet and sparkly treat. And it’s even smelled like winter much of the time.
The timing of this storm means there’s slim chance of a snow day. I would very much like a snow day, and on my walk home from work today thought about all of the things I would do if there were, somewhat magically, a snow day. Here’s my plan:
- Sleep in a smidge, get up, have some coffee and breakfast.
- Get some writing done. It should be the book, but I have some game stuff burning a hole in my head that it’d be good to get out.
- Skiing! And sledding. In the park. Is Gus old enough for me to ski while he sleds? Maybe if I make him wear a helmet — that cement water fountain is right at the bottom of the best run.
- Home and lunch and hot chocolate or tea. Maybe lunch before skiing/sledding, depending on how long the writing goes.
- Maybe a brief snooze.
- Video games! I got some for xmas that I’ve barely even had time to play: Journey, an arty conceptual wandering figuring things out game; and Katamari Forever, more rolling up cleaning up fun.
- Dinner, perhaps with movie night? I think the next in our family queue is The Mummy, which should be hilarious.
Here’s hoping you and yours stay snug and warm, whatever kind of weather history is made this weekend.
maura @ 12:26 pm
I’ve been carrying this post around with me in my head all week, an incredibly busy beginning of the semester at work, too worn out in the evenings to bang coherent sentences together. This time last weekend I was in Delaware, having driven down first thing in the morning with a good friend to go to the funeral of our favorite teacher from high school. She was only 59; her kids were only in their 20s. I’m tearing up again even as I type this.
The small group of folks that I’m close friends with from high school first heard the news at the end of the spring a year and a half ago: cancer, of the pancreatic kind, prognosis uncertain. I had trouble processing it — my teacher had actually visited Brooklyn the prior year and my friend and I had met her for dinner w/our partners and kids — how could she possibly be sick? I was upset and angry and sad. I wrote a bloggy screed that I never posted about how stupid cancer is and about some of the other friends we have who’ve had bouts with it (and, thankfully, survived). I wrote a letter to my teacher expressing my concern, letting her know how much she meant to me, and offering support in any way I could. I got a letter back from her promising that she’d fight the good fight.
She was an incredibly energetic and optimistic person and she fought hard, but right after new year’s we all heard that she’d taken a turn for the worse. I sent her emails, one with a crazy photo of the back of her head as she was driving a small bus full of a group of us during a Spring Break trip to work at a homeless shelter in Richmond, VA. My friends and I emailed each other photos and reminiscing, too, my favorite (from an old yearbook) of her sitting cross-legged on her desk in class, hands up to emphasize a point. I can actually hear her voice when I look at that picture.
And so it was that I found myself in the car on the NJ Turnpike again (we’d gone down to visit my family the prior weekend) on the way to her funeral mass at the new theater building at my old school. It was lovely and sad. Gus asked me later if I’d cried (yes). There were hundreds of people there that morning, and had been hundreds the night before for another memorial service. Former students from when she began teaching 30 years ago up to the present were there. The school streamed the service live and I later heard that folks on Facebook said they watched from afar. She was that good.
Rereading what I wrote when she first got sick, some of it seems salvageable and still true:
If I can write at all I owe it to this high school teacher for sure. It’s in her English classes that I have the first clear memory of really writing — not just reporting on what I’d read but actually thinking through the words and putting those thoughts on paper, albeit imperfectly. I don’t have many artifacts of my work from high school, the perils of growing up before ready access to computers. But I did keep some of the photocopies of short stories we read in her classes, many of which were my first introduction to Borges, Barthelme, Garcia-Marquez and others and had a lasting impact on my reading and writing habits.
It’s only in reflecting now that I’ve realized what a huge influence she’s been on my teaching, too. She had only just started teaching a few years before I got to high school, but I’m sure she’s the same in the classroom now as she was then. Her classes were fun and interesting because she’s fun and interesting, and her energy and enthusiasm for literature and writing made her classes enjoyable even as they were challenging. Thinking about how my own teaching has evolved over the years, I can only conclude that whatever success I have in the classroom now owes a huge debt to those high school English classes.
All of the conversations I’ve had with friends and acquaintances from high school center around the same theme. At a time when we were all navigating the transition from childhood to adulthood and were not always the nicest people to be around, in her teaching and friendship she always respected and valued us. She was a great teacher because of what she always did for her students: treated them as people with ideas worth having, gave them space for their own voices and creativity, and inspired them to do their best work. I’m still trying to do my best work. Thank you, Rosie.
maura @ 2:02 pm
We took a trip for the holidays, a longish trip to a warmish place, not the usual for us at xmas. It was lovely, which took me somewhat by surprise: as someone who is especially sunburn-prone I don’t tend to seek out sunny places for vacation. But I’ve also become more and more grumpy as I age about winter’s short dark days (even worse when there’s no snow, which is pretty much the whole point of winter), so I was happy to find myself with the opportunity to relax in a warm place with beautiful scenery and few obligations.
I ended up reading more than writing while on vacation. Partly because I was reading a book about Lynda Barry and partly because I’ve been thinking more about zines recently, I’m mulling over making a zine about the trip, though I might cave and just write about it here. Not sure how I would illustrate the zine since I can’t really draw. I could cut pictures from magazines? The only paper magazines we get anymore are the New Yorker, Entertainment Weekly, Ranger Rick, and Science Illustrated, which might actually cover it.
Before that, a couple of weeks before thanksgiving, I took the train up to Saratoga Springs to speak on a panel at the New York Library Association annual conference. It was a fun time presenting with some of my favorite folks in the CUNYverse. Because there aren’t that many trains to Saratoga I ended up having to get one very very early in the morning the day before our panel, and took advantage of the travel (and the rest of that day alone in my hotel room) to finish up our book proposal. It’s been so hard to get more than a few hours at any one time to work on the book that it was just incredible to have one whole day — I got so much done!
Saratoga Springs was quaint and odd and dreamy. I called a taxi and when it pulled up was delighted to find that my cabbie was a lady! The ride was fairly short, maybe 10-15 minutes, and it cost FOUR DOLLARS. 4. $. I couldn’t help myself, I gave her a huge tip and blurted out “you can’t even get into a cab for $4 in the city!” On the cab ride we chatted about the fact that there was no snow at all, nor damage from Hurricane Sandy, that far upstate (this was right after the weird snowstorm). She called me a downstater — not in a mean way! — which I found surprising.
Wandering around the town I came across a carbonated spring and took a picture. Skidmore College is just up the road and I have to say that, now that I’ve been to Saratoga Springs, it brings Steven Millhauser’s writing to a whole different plane in my brain. I mean, of *course* you’d write stories like that if you live in Saratoga Springs. Or maybe you live in Saratoga Springs because you write stories like that? It’s hard to explain, but between the carbonated spring and the huge beautiful public library and the sullen yet charming teens hanging out on the swinging bench in the Ben & Jerry’s parking lot and the carousel on the edge of a pretty park overrun by fat noisy ducks… I could almost see the edges of the flying carpets whizzing by or the dust of the invasion from outer space settling onto the sidewalk.
Anyway, I started writing a blog post on the train on the way up to Saratoga and feel weird leaving it abandoned and unfinished, so here it is:
So much water. The river seems high, seems somewhat threatening now, even though it’s a lovely crisp fall day and the sun shines bright.
I don’t know that I’ve ever taken the train on this route before. This is the way we should have traveled to Montreal last year, but we took the bus instead, silly us. This train goes up up up along the Hudson River. Not through the old brick factory towns in Massachusetts like when we used to train to Vermont. Not through the Eastern cities like when I last took a train to a(n) (un)conference. This route’s all bluffs and cliffs and hills and trees and houses nestled in. And the wide river, I forget how wide it is in parts.
I still feel all kinds of messed up about living near water, the hurricane wasn’t long enough ago, so many folks (esp. in public housing) are still powerless and displaced. But it’s hard not to enjoy a train trip, train travel is just intrinsically delightful, Amor de Dias in my headphones and my laptop plugged in so I can work on the book proposal as the trees fly by. Jonathan called this my traincation, and he’s right.
maura @ 4:35 pm
I’ve written intermittent posts about reading here, though never a big year-end roundup. But I’m feeling pretty good about the number of non-work books I was able to read last year, as well as inspired by Jenna and Alycia. So here it is, the list of leisure books I read in 2012, totaling 37. Yeah, there’s lots of YA stuff there, and I know it reads faster than other books, but they still count!
(I’m not including work-related books in here mostly because I don’t keep track of them in my reading journal and I’m too lazy to corral them all together in my brain. Plus often with work books I’m reading a chapter here and there, not the whole thing).
Starred are the books I read on my phone, which was mostly new for me this year. I still prefer paper books but it’s definitely convenient to have a phone book for subway rides and other travels. Of course, the library doesn’t always have the books I want for my phone which is a drag. It’s odd, I do have an ipad but I haven’t tended to use it for leisure reading at all, rather just for academic articles (using the awesome iannotate app to take notes on the pdfs and sync with dropbox). I think it’s because the ipad is so heavy and I don’t usually bring it with me to work each day, whereas my phone is always with me.
These are in reverse order, btw, with the most recently-read first.
The Lifespan of a Fact, by John D’Agata and Jim Fingal
Diverse Energies, edited by Tobias S. Buckell and Joe Monti
Lynda Barry: Girlhood Through the Looking Glass, by Susan Kirtley
Feed, by M.T. Anderson
* Liar and Spy, by Rebecca Stead
Mortal Engines, by Phillip Reeve
The Graveyard Book, by Neil Gaiman
The Death Cure, by James Dashner
The Scorch Trials, by James Dashner
The Windup Girl, by Paolo Bacigalupi
This World We Live In, by Susan Beth Pfeffer
Insurgent, by Veronica Roth
The Dead & the Gone, by Susan Beth Pfeffer
How to Do Things with Videogames, by Ian Bogost
Pandemonium, by Lauren Oliver
Ready Player One, by Ernest Cline
The Maze Runner, by James Dashner
Life As We Knew It, by Susan Beth Pfeffer
Delirium, by Lauren Oliver
Invisible Things, by Jenny Davidson
Divergent, by Veronica Roth
Are You My Mother? by Alison Bechdel
Extras, by Scott Westerfeld
Degrees of Inequality, by Ann Mullen
* Before I Fall, by Lauren Oliver
* The Messenger, by Lois Lowry
The Explosionist, by Jenny Davidson
Specials, by Scott Westerfeld
Pretties, by Scott Westerfeld
Uglies, by Scott Westerfeld
* Gathering Blue, by Lois Lowry
* The Giver, by Lois Lowry
Leviathan, by Scott Westerfeld
All Clear, by Connie Willis
Blackout, by Connie Willis
The Curfew, by Jesse Ball
Reality is Broken, by Jane McGonigal
And, in the interest of full disclosure, here are the books I put down without finishing. I used to never ever ever do that, but the older I get the more I want to read and the less time I have, so no regrets!
The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making, by Catherynne M. Valente
Mr. Fox, by Helen Oyeyemi
* Swamplandia!, by Karen Russell
1Q84, by Haruki Murakami
Anyway, keep up the good reading work, me, in 2013!