Thursday, January 31, 2008

2007: My Year in Books, Part II

July - December

The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov—I supposedly read this in college, in my advisor Roman Graf’s class on Faust, but I only recalled the first two or three chapters. I don’t think I ever actually read more than that for the class. The beginning is slow. I can see why I stopped reading, particularly in that class when I was always so behind. My idea of myself, though, as a student who always read everything assigned, has been slightly dashed. I swear I read absolutely everything else. Glad I persevered this time around. Deeply layered, allegorical, fantastical, amazing.

Black Swan Green
by David Mitchell—Cloud Atlas is one of my favorite books and what impresses me about David Mitchell is that he’s so versatile. It’s one of those books that when I try to explain it, it sounds terribly boring. But it’s so not. It’s so magical.

The Sweet Dove Died
by Barbara Pym—Someone’s graduating lecture at Bennington was on Barbara Pym and I thought she sounded pretty awesome, so when I was in Cape Town in June and couldn’t pass up a book sale at the mall and came across this novel, I thought, why not? I thought, it’s nice and small so maybe J will hardly notice that I’ve bought another book when theoretically we have a moratorium on purchasing more books until we had read what we’ve brought to Uganda with us. I enjoyed the writing, which seemed sort of charmingly old-fashioned, but I wouldn’t say I was blown away by the book. Perhaps I chose the wrong one to start with.

Harry Potter Books 6 & 7—Reread Book 6 before 7 arrived. Book 7 was just about everything I wanted it to be.

Blood Meridian
by Cormac McCarthy—Mind-blowing, mind-blowing, mind-blowing.

Suite Francaise by Irene Nemirovsky—I finished my time at Bennington and Harcourt almost simultaneously and suddenly I no longer had any required reading, so I decided I would read some of the books that everyone else was reading. Some of those books proved incredibly disappointing and made me lose heart in the human race—like Running with Scissors—and others, like Suite Francois and Black Swan Green—renewed my faith. Though with this book I found all the supplementary material about the author’s life almost more interesting than the novel itself.

Twilight by Stephanie Meyer—YA. Vampires. The second half of the book is totally different than the first half, but totally riveting.

Lives of Girls and Women
by Alice Munro—Lovely, astonishing.

Rules for Old Men Waiting
by Peter Pouncey—Another book I found on the sale table in Cape Town. I’d remembered reading a lot of positive reviews for it when it came out. It was a fine, elegant book, but not something I could get really excited about.

Special Topics in Calamity Physics
by Marisha Pessl—I started reading this on our trip to Egypt and recall being so happy to spend some time with it by the pool in Luxor. I wanted to hate it, but I loved it. My only complaint is it’s about 200 pages too long, which is a lot really.

The Writing Life by Annie Dillard—A really slim book, but I read this little by little over the course of a few months, starting in May when my friend Kelly sent it to me the day I left my parent’s house to return to Uganda and ending in October. Parts definitely spoke to me as a writer, while in other parts I felt Dillard took herself way too seriously.

The Stranger
by Albert Camus—One of those books that appears so simple, but is so powerful, and I’m left wondering how that happened. Shattering, in so many different ways.

The Children’s Hospital by Chris Adrian—I nearly gave up on this book, but I’m so glad I didn’t. In the beginning I was confused, annoyed, and judgmental. I thought Adrian was being obtuse and I really wanted someone to give him a good slap. And then something happened. Something magical. Totally original, imaginative, epic, complete.

The Magus by John Fowles—If I were forced to make a top ten list of my favorite books, this would be on it. This was only the second time I had read it, and though it wasn’t as much of a mind-fuck as I remembered it (perhaps that can only happen on the first reading), my impressions this time was that it’s complicated, sophisticated, and ambiguous. I found myself comparing the reading of the book to the God game in the book. Nicholas Urfe feels there is no real choice in continuing with the game—how could he go on with his life knowing these beautiful women exist, Conchis and the house exist, knowing the mysteries are there and still unsolved? And I thought, halfway through, if I put this book down right now, how could I go on with my life knowing this book exists unfinished? I couldn’t.

The Anchor Book of New American Stories, edited by Ben Marcus—When I finished the Magus, I only had a few days left before flying back to the States for Thanksgiving. I didn’t want to start anything major or start something that would mean I would need to take two books on the plane just in case, so I decided to read a few stories in this collection until I left. I had rifled through the book before and read a story here and there, but this time I started at the beginning and went straight through until it was time to leave. I made it about halfway through. This is supposed to represent the canon of the contemporary American short story and I suppose it is that pomposity on the editor’s part, to think he and few friends can conceive this, that bothered me so much. The first few stories I loved. And then I hit a few in a row I just couldn’t understand what they were doing there. So I started to question everything: I love Christine Schutt, but why was she in there and not Amy Hempel? Why this Lydia Davis story? Etc. Until eventually I came to despise this rarefied world of the short story. Like the Weezer song, why bother? It comes across as so f-ing pretentious and half the
time really boring. And then I felt bad about being bored. For not being more studious of these stories. For not trying harder. But seriously, can you define a canon when it’s still in the process of being created?

Fever Pitch by Nick Hornby—What makes this book so good is Hornby’s self-reflection, his ability to understand himself and others like him. He knows how to interpret a scene with humor and compassion. And yes, I think it helped that where he said “Arsenal” I could replace it with “Red Sox” and totally understand what he meant.

The Naming by Alison Croggon—More YA fantasy from the big brother! I don’t think I’ve read this much fantasy in a year in, I don’t know, ever. But this was a good, solid read. For being really cheesey, the protagonist was also incredibly loveable. I sort of need the sequel, like, now. (Sam, M&D will be here for my birthday and I'm sure are willing to ferry packages...)

Stop Time
by Frank Conroy—It’s not necessarily his story that makes this book so good, though it is interesting, it’s Conroy’s choice of words, his images, the beauty he was able to create in unbeautiful circumstances.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

2007: My Year in Books, Part I

January - June

For the two years I was at Bennington I had to read four or five books each month and annotate them. After graduating last January, I didn’t miss annotations at all, but I still felt the need to keep a record of the books I had read. My friend A. from Bennington used to do a semester round-up of her books (one example here), which is sort of the inspiration for this list.

I should also note that after two years of required reading at Bennington and trying to keep up on Harcourt's books at the same time, I took the opportunity to read some less serious books, and always exactly what I wanted. I brought all these intense books with me to Uganda, thinking that with few other options I would force myself to read some of them. This was, for the most part, wishful thinking.

Eragon by Christopher Paolini—Last January I went off to Bennington for my last residency and J went off to Uganda. I wouldn’t see him again for two months. At Bennington I was terrified of giving my lecture, broken-hearted to be away from my husband for so long, proud to be graduating, but sad to be seeing my friends for the last time for who knew how long. Instead of dealing with any of these emotions, I curled up on my maddeningly uncomfortable dorm bed and read Eragon before falling asleep each night or between lectures (okay, sometimes during lectures, too). It was good escapism reading. And the secret is now out that I like fantasy literature.

Plainsong by Kent Haruf—There are characters to fall in love with in this book. Simple writing, complex characters.

O. Henry Prize Stories—These types of collections seem to be created for the sole purpose of alternately infuriating and breaking aspiring writer’s hearts. I would read one story and think, “Garbage! Why isn’t one of my stories in there?” and then I would read another and think, “Oh. Well, yeah, that’s damn good,” and proceed to feel sorry for myself for not being a better writer.

The Dead of Summer by Camilla Way—Good, suspenseful, quick reading. I might even say chilling.

Eldest by Christopher Paolini—Definitely not as good as Eragon. Kid needs to learn how to write about love, or just not write about it all. Still, impressive and at times very entertaining.

Life as We Knew It by Susan Pfeffer—Just before I left Harcourt I swiped this book from the Kids department. It’s a young adult novel and I had seen it mentioned on a lot of the literary blogs I used to read. The idea is that a huge asteroid crashes into the moon and knocks it off course, closer to Earth, which causes huge weather disruptions when the gravitational pull is altered. Chaos ensues. The narrator and her family hole up with a huge stockpile of food. The book is narrated through diary entries, which gets a little tiresome, and it can also get quite sappy, but for the most part I admired the concept and found myself growing somewhat attached to the characters. The big disappointment was that Pfeffer left the idea completely unresolved. It ends with this feeling that the government (or somebody, it’s unclear who really) has somehow learned to deal with the situation and everything’s going to be alright, but why? How?

Waterland by Graham Swift—A book I feel I need to reread to fully appreciate. I found the going slow and writing style sometimes tedious, and yet I’m pretty sure I loved this book.

Sabriel by Garth Nix—The first book I read upon arriving in Kampala. That first week here I had no idea what to do with myself. J had to work and we were staying with a friend and I felt self-conscious walking around the neighborhood (not much to walk to anyway) and self-conscious sitting around the house with the houseboy in constant attendance. Just generally unmoored. So I closed myself in my room and read Sabriel. And I thought it was awesome. Totally engrossing fantasy with a strong female protagonist and no f-ing elves for once.

Moving the Chains: Tom Brady and the Pursuit of Everything by Charles P. Pierce—The second book I read in Kampala. Obviously I wasn’t ready for anything too serious. But I pretty much love Tom Brady and clearly so does Charles P. Pierce. Go Pats!

Be Near Me by Andrew O’Hagan—I flat-out love this book. It’s quiet, sure, but so beautiful. Even better the second time.

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen—This is me catching up on my classics. It's shameful some of the books I haven't read yet. But this was awesome.

What is the What by Dave Eggers—I had my doubts that Eggers could stop being Eggers for five minutes to convincingly give voice to a Sudanese character, but I was impressed. Even though there were some Eggerisms in there—rarely—this was Valentino Achak Deng’s book. Totally moving. Loved it.

Lirael by Garth Nix—The sequel to Sabriel. I read this on our honeymoon in Zanzibar. Great beach reading, if not as good as Sabriel. Totally left hanging at the end and I had no hope of getting the third book any time soon, which I suppose is a lot like how I’m feeling about the fourth season of Lost.

Foucault’s Pendulum by Umberto Eco—Dense and not good beach reading, though I also started this in Zanzibar after finishing Lireal. The driving plotline is completely compelling and the book overall is so smart (too smart?), but there were too many references that went over my head (and no wireless Internet connection at home to check some of them out) that it felt really bogged down. And made me feel kinda dumb.

The Rotter’s Club by Jonathon Coe—I picked up this book on the street in Zanzibar because Coe seems to blurb other writers quite frequently, including Scarlett Thomas, who wrote one of my favorite books, The End of Mr. Y. I thought he would be worth checking out. Well-written and with interesting subplots, but I read this and thought, what’s the point? I just couldn’t seem to care.

The Untouchable by John Banville—One of those books that leaves you thinking about it long after you’ve finished. You’re left with so many questions—but not the annoying kind of questions that ultimately have no answer, but questions that make you want to go back to the text and look for the answers. Loved it.

Abhorsen by Garth Nix—Okay, so it didn’t take me that long to get the third book after Sabriel and Lirael. Liked this one better than Lirael and probably as much as Sabriel. Lots of questions get answered, a lot of different components come together. Solid stuff.

Running with Scissors by Augusten Burroughs—I know a lot of people must have loved this book for it to have been on the bestseller lists for so long, but I hated it. I thought the writing was—hmm, how do I say this nicely?—shit. Also, I thought this book was supposed to be funny? I found it only utterly depressing.

The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde—Ditto catching up on the classics. But also a story in the Faustian tradition that gave me something to think about while writing my novel. Loved it.

A Fan’s Notes by Frederick Exley—There are books I think of as Bennington books, meaning books I had never really heard of, but everyone else at Bennington seemed to have read them and talked about them all the time and I felt stupid for not knowing them. Glad I read this, can’t say I loved it as much as I expected to—perhaps it was talked up a little too big that it could only be disappointing. But the story is amazing, tragic and hopeful, smart, surprising-all the good stuff. I just wish Exley could have been reigned in a tiny, tiny bit.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Sadiq & Josephine 4eva

Last weekend I went with J to his office to use the Internet and do some work. They had an old New Vision from mid-December lying around and J mentioned they had been saving it for me because there was a good Mystery Date inside. I brought the paper home and started reading about Sadiq and Josephine. The first three quarters of the date was fairly banal stuff. I couldn’t figure out why J and N thought it worth saving...until I got to the last paragraph.

Sadiq has already spoken to the interviewer about the date—he found Josephine (nicknamed Baby Face, by the way) to have a nice voice, he liked her ambition to be a singer, and thought she was beautiful. However, she didn’t look him in the eye when she spoke to him. Alas.

Moving on to Baby Face, the interviewer discovered that she found Sadiq to be gentlemanly and comforting, if not a little full of himself. And then the interviewer asked, “Will you go out with him again?” Here is Baby Face’s answer:

“I didn’t keep his phone number, although he gave it to me. I feared my husband might find it. I also didn’t give him my number despite the fact that he asked for it. He is a nice guy but I can’t continue with him since I am committed.”

Um, husband?? Doesn’t she fear that he might see the Mystery Date article? Why are you going on dates if you’re already married?

But it was obvious Baby Face wasn’t a keeper from the beginning (aside from the fact that her nickname is Baby Face): What makes her laugh? “Comedy.”

Well, yeah. That’s sort of the point.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Ssese Islands

On Saturday we celebrated J’s birthday at the Mirembe Resort in Kalangala District on Buggala Island, part of the Ssese Island chain in Lake Victoria.

I’ve been told that two things start on time in Uganda: the movies at the theater in Garden City and the ferry to Ssese Islands. The ferry leaves at 2:00 PM on Fridays and returns at 8:00 AM on Sundays in and out of Entebbe (if your driver doesn’t know where he’s going, good luck finding it). It’s a three-hour ride. Our ferry left at 3:30 PM, which means we either got very unlucky or when everyone says the ferry leaves on time, they really mean it leaves an hour and a half late.

We arrived in time for some football on the beach and some quality drinking before dinner was served—coincidentally also an hour and a half late.

We spent the remainder of the evening around the bonfire in the company of good friends and good scotch.

Despite a little rain in the morning, the day turned clear and mild. This was actually preferable to hot hot hot like it has been since we had all decided swimming in bilharzias-infested water was not for us. Even without the swimming, reading and playing cards in the shade on a beautiful beach is not the worst way to while away a day.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Me: An Update

Novel #1 is being shopped around to agents. Meanwhile, I have commenced work on Novel #2 in earnest.

The cats like to help, but so far they have proven only that a) they’re knowledge of World War II history leaves something to be desired; b) they don’t know how to type; c) they’re unable to stay awake for more than 15 minutes at a time between the hours of 10:00 AM and 4:00 PM. If, however, the success of this novel was in direct proportion to how many grasshoppers the cats killed and then ate, I’d have a freaking bestseller on my hands.

At the moment, for research, I am reading a Short History of World War II by James L. Stokesbury, The Great Starvation Experiment by Todd Tucker, and Another Part of the War: The Camp Simon Story by Gordon C. Zahn. Not for research I am reading Palace Walk by Naguib Mahfouz, but I’m having trouble getting into it. I just finished last summer’s Atlantic Monthly fiction issue and the New Yorker’s most recent Winter Fiction issue (yes, I realize I’m way behind the times over here) and, though I enjoyed one or two stories in both issues, for the most part I was disappointed. In November I was reading The Anchor Book of New American Short Stories collection, so I suppose I could just be sick of the contemporary American short story right now. Or sick with jealousy to be a part of the conversation. It’s difficult to tell the difference sometimes.

During my downtime I am planning my parent’s visit here in late February/early March. So far we are going gorilla tracking in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest on February 28, staying at the Gorilla Resort, stopping for a night at Mihingo Lodge on the way back to Kampala, then heading to Tanzania for a 6-day safari visiting the Serengeti, Ngorongoro Crater, and Lake Manyara National Park, staying at Serena Hotels.

Notice above the cribbage board in the background. This reminds me that I have recently learned that Terry Francona and Dustin Pedroia play cribbage every single day during the baseball season. How did I learn this? I’ve been watching the 2007 Red Sox World Series Collector’s Edition DVD box set, of course! Not quite as exciting watching games that happened months ago and already knowing the outcome, you say? Not so, I say. Not so at all.

Speaking of fun with electronics, my new iPod nano and, more specifically, the armband that came with it—J gave me both for Christmas—have changed my life. I’ve been running for the past 15 years of my life and only now have I learned of the miracle of the armband. Hands-free! Nearly weightless! Who knew it could be so easy? Needless to say, I am back on the treadmill after a short break over the holidays.

Lastly, I have a new computer. Or rather, J has a new computer and I have inherited his old one. This may not seem like such a big deal in a person’s life, but I found it to be a rather rough transition. I had grown rather attached to my old computer. Every time my fingers rested on that keyboard it was like coming home again. J’s computer is better: it’s faster, has more and better functionality in many of the programs, more memory, more music loaded onto it…and yet it’s not quite mine yet.

For now the old computer is out because there’s an ebook on there I’m using for research that I couldn’t transfer, but soon it will go in a drawer and gather dust until we can sell it or decide to use it as a rather expensive picture frame and set it up for constant photo rotation.

(I had stupid pictures of the computer, too, but after three days and fifteen tries of trying to load all of these, I'm finally admitting defeat.)

And now you’re all caught up.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Mystery Date

Action movies make him laugh? At least he didn't say comedies, right? I'm pretty sure if I read in the paper that a guy I had gone on a date with had suggested I was a liar, I wouldn't be calling him any time soon. Aren't artistes just the worst? I like artists much better.

Prince Jjuuko Thaddeus
Occupation: Artiste (Matendo Band)
Interests: Watching music videos, singing, playing badminton
Favourite Film: Beyonce (Nigerian)
Music: Reggae
What don't people like about you?
My dreads
What do people find attractive about you: Self respect
What would you love your mystery dream date to be: Not rude, respects herself and respects me, shows me love and likes my occupation
What makes you laugh? Action movies

I had no idea what would happen during the date. When I arrived at the restaurant, I found her already seated. I began by teasing her before eventually revealing myself as her date. I first asked her whether she had ever seen me before and she said she had seen me in my music videos on TV. When I asked her who she was waiting for, she said it was somebody she did not know. It was then that I told her I was the one she was waiting for.
She became excited and told me how she had planned to take off had he turned out to be an old man.

What did you find impressive about her?

She is a cheerful girl, a black beauty and portable (slender). She is also very friendly. Can you imagine she promised to visit me and to call me to visit her friend with whom she had watched my video? She said she had always looked forward to a day she would meet me every time she watched my videos.

Does that mean you are considering her for a serious relationship?
Not really. I was just asking to find out how she felt about me. She is still a student and I would like her to concentrate on her studies. Nevertheless, I can't rule out a serious relationship in future. For example, when I asked if her parents would have a problem with me marrying her, she said she was mature enough to make her own decisions.

Was there any weakness you noticed in her?

As an artiste, I can tell a liar. She told me she usually goes to Lido Beach yet she doesn't drink, but I have never seen anybody at Lido Beach who doesn't drink. Moreover, according to her talk, she seems like someone who enjoys hanging out.

Any memorable incident during the date?
The time we ordered for our dinner. Whereas I chose a chicken burger, she opted for a beef burger but according to her reaction, it seemed she had never tasted it before. I even intend to compose a song out of that.


Student, soon joining university
Interests: Swimming, resting in bed
Favourite Film: Akabadi (Amarula Family)
Eagles Production/band music
What don't people like about you?
I'm reserved
What do people find attractive about you? I'm smart
What would your mystery dream date be? Smart, steady, loving
What makes you happy? Meeting someone I love

I arrived at the venue at around seven o'clock but didn't find anybody. After a short time he came from the opposite direction and went to the reception.

Thereafter, he came to my table and began asking me questions. He asked for my name and whether I had ever seen him anywhere before. I told him I had only watched him on screen.

What impressed you about him?

He is a smart guy and a good conversationalist.

Did you notice any weakness in him?
Not at all. He was perfect.

If he told you he loved you, what would you say?
I would ask him to give me some time because I need to study him before making a response.

Do you hope to stay in touch?

He gave me his phone number but I did not give him mine because I usually don't give men I meet for the first time my contact. But since I have his, I may give him a call one day.

Kenyan Bloggers

This is a list of bloggers in Kenya covering the situation there, for those who are interested. Thanks to my dear, dear husband for putting it together.

Kenyan Pundit
Kenyan Jurist
Insight Kenya
Kenya Image
White African
8 Months in Nairobi
Caked in Red Clay
Kenya Diaspora Pro-democracy Movement

In terms of mainstream media, J recommends the Financial Times for the best coverage of what’s going on in Kenya right now.

Friday, January 11, 2008

This Was On Purpose

The people in the house in front of our apartment set their entire field on fire.

They seem to do this every few months and it doesn’t smell like garbage, so I assume it must be for some other reason. To get out of mowing the lawn?

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

The Rainforest Lodge

Still catching up. Here's an older post I never got around to:

Before our trip to Paris, J and I spent the night at the newish Rainforest Lodge in Mabira Forest, about an hour outside of Kampala. It was awesome to get out of the city, but we were the only people staying there, which was a bit strange. Difficult to feel inconspicuous when you’re the only guests. We were there because I had a writing assignment (more on that later) to review the lodge and, knowing that, the staff was outrageously attentive. Otherwise, it’s a peaceful place.

(I took some better photos than these, but I’m not sure yet if any are being used with the piece and I don’t want to piss my editor off by “publishing” them here first.)

Looking for monkeys on our porch:

Our cabin nestled in the woods:

Aside from taking a guided forest walk, there seems to be little else to do except lounge around here by the pool—at least you get some exercise hiking up and down the steep incline that leads to the pool:

Friday, January 4, 2008

Everybody in Uganda is Okay

We appreciate the concern coming from friends and family, but seriously, we're totally safe here in Uganda - at least as far as the violence in Kenya is concerned. Feel better?

I wish I had some inside information for you, but my source - like yours - is the world wide web, only yours probably moves faster than mine does.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Happy New Year

I know I'm a few days late, but I'm just getting caught up on entries.

Last New Year’s I was on Cape Cod; for the five or six New Years’ before that I was in New York City. This year I rang in 2008 from an island in the middle of the Nile. The Hairy Lemon sounds like a hippie commune at worst and at best something like the secret Eden described in Alex Garland’s The Beach. But it’s just your basic bunch of huts hidden amongst jungle greenery on a bilharzia-free inlet on a tiny island. Basically, the middle of nowhere. Basically, pretty awesome.

I thought it was in Jinja, but as we consulted the web site’s directions, it quickly became clear the island is someplace else entirely, someplace between the two and a little bit north. A two-hour drive from Kampala, thankfully mostly on paved roads, but roads that seem seldom used. At least, we hardly passed any cars. The last 20 kilometers is on dirt road—with one noticeable wet patch. Noticeable because my friend JB, who was following us in his car, got stuck in a deceivingly deep ditch on the side of the road.

When N and J and JB walked the circumference of the car to investigate, they ended up knee-deep in mucky water. Pretty quickly the car was surrounded by Ugandans of all ages. More arrived by bicycle as it became clear we needed more able-bodied men to lift the entire car up and out of the ditch.

We continued on our way until the road ended at the Nile in a small parking lot and thatched hut to protect visitors from the sun while they wait for the boat from the Hairy Lemon to arrive. You must clang on an old tire rim to alert the Hairy Lemon to your presence. It’s a short ride to the island, only a few hundred yards really, on which the resort sits.

There are private bandas and camping options, but we chose the in-between dormitory for our sleeping arrangements, which was situated right on the bank of the Nile, the rushing water a pleasant sound to fall asleep to.

We swam. We played cards. We drank. We went home. Like I said, awesome.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

The Price of Gas

Kenya is rioting and roadblocks are preventing gas trucks from crossing the border into Uganda. The price of gas has skyrocketed; we filled up on our way to the Hairy Lemon before the jump, but are using the car only when necessary until gas becomes a sure thing again. I had to do some off-roading on my way to Kabira this afternoon—cars waiting to get into the Total station blocked the street.

Paris in Pictures

I posted a few from the road; here are (some of) the rest. I caught a cold the other day and it got exacerbated on the flight home, on which we were surrounded on three sides by screaming children belonging to parents whose strategy it was to sit staring straight ahead as though nothing were happening. Deny, deny, deny. Halfway through the flight when the kid behind us finally cooled down, a group of three small girls in front of us decided to sing. And sing and sing and sing. New Christmas present iPod nanos were made for 10-hour flights like these. Also, with my coughing fits, I was no gem of a passenger either.

I had a religious experience with this couch in the Musee D’Orsay. I’m not sure what it means yet, but I will let you know if God speaks to me through the furniture again. I look at this thing and I think, if this couch were a novel, what would that novel be? And can I write it?