Things are sort of starting to settle down here. I’ve had another week of extraordinary busy­ness and some emo­tional upheavals on the home front (if I owe you e-mail, please be patient for just a touch longer).

I’m trying hard to focus on the pos­it­ives, so here goes:

Favorite new book­store: Bird and Beckett on Dia­mond (thanks to 

, who had her reading there last week). I man­aged to buy not only her book, but Blessed Unrest, which I’ve heard dis­cussed on NPR and have been looking for­ward to greatly, and The Dream of the Poem, a book on Hebrew poetry in Chris­tian and Muslim Spain from 950 to 1492. Anyone who’s read my series from when I was in Toledo in 2003 will know my fas­cin­a­tion with this era.

Favorite new relax­a­tion space: Water­course Way, which Doug took me to one night. Oh my. We had the Moroccan-themed room with our own spa, sauna and plunge pool. It’s a gor­geous place, beau­tiful music. You hire rooms, pay by the person and then lock the doors. I couldn’t help but think it’s exactly what we need for those Friday night soaks, 

. No more of this sil­li­ness where it’s women-only because we’re in the Japanese baths public space.

Favorite new band: this is a hard one, because I’ve just exper­i­enced three awe­some groups. DeatHat, a haunting sound that would fit right in at Wood­ford; Klez­ident Evil, which plays klezmer and, yes, video game soundtracks; but for pure raucous enter­tain­ment, I’m going to have to vote for SmashUp Derby, who I saw today at the San Jose Pride fest­ival. I rang 


 to play them bits of this: George Michael’s “Faith” vs The Cure’s “Closer”; Cyndi Lauper’s “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” vs U2’s “Bloody Sunday”; and many more awe­some LIVE mashups. I think my favorite was “Smells like Teen Spirit” with “Billy Jean” sung over the top of it but it’s a hard choice. There’s heaps of songs to down­load at their site. Go play.

Favorite new area of SF: Okay, this is really just an excuse to men­tion that we went up to SF to see Helen Lawson-Williams, who I went to primary school with, and who was in town for work. But we did end up wan­dering around Caffe Greco and pop­ping into the Apple store up there, and checking out Chin­atown and it was a lovely day out.