29.9.08

Season's endings

As I've been lying in bed, watching the leaves turn brilliant reds and yellows, I've been pondering how this month has led to so many endings - the end of summer/start of fall (although having it almost be "peak color" right now feels somehow wrong)... end of vacation/start of school... end of baseball regular season/start of post season.

Thing One is a Mets fan, and for two years has watched his team crash-and-burn at this time of the season. Thing Two is a Yankees fan, and that's enough said about that. Both of them are experiencing years in which their team has ended the season at the end of regular season, rather than going on to post season play and potential glory. Both are experiencing a year in which their team's stadium is being torn down in favor of a new one.

When my beloved Celtics left the hallowed Garden for some anonymous, "could-be-any town/any arena" nearby, I was crushed that they'd not left the Garden with another win, another banner. There's a part of me that feels the same for the two New York teams. I'm sure the Things feel the that way, too.

How many days before spring and pitchers-and-catchers?

28.9.08

The bitter and the sweet

Yesterday I attended a symposium at my prep school and stayed for a few other events. I left feeling bittersweet about the day...

One of the people I saw was the wife of a man who was arguably the most important influence on my life. Seeing her again (she was my counselor senior year), talking with her about "back then" and about Jack... It's still difficult for me to imagine my world without him in it.

There was a toast to another teacher, another huge influence on my life; he's retired after 43 years at the school. I used to babysit for his daughters, and both are now distinguished teacher/scholars in their own right. Now there are only three people left that were there when I was there (including "my" school librarian), and one person that started the year after I left. As when I first became a great-aunt (just became one again for the fourth time), it's odd feeling that I've moved up a generation at this school.

Twice during the day, women who had been firstyear students my senior year came up to me - from behind - having recognized me by my hair. A friend, someone I'd work with at MPOW, said that she'd seen my yearbook photo and thought I looked pretty much the same. Hmmm.... it's been almost 30 years. Perhaps time for a new look?

The symposium was about "Women, Power and Possibility" and featured a panel of 20- and 30-something women who had started nonprofits that had some sort of global reach/impact. They were varying degrees of eloquent and poised, presenting themselves and their "passion" as an easy fait accompli. I'll be blogging about the symposium later, but my feelings about the women, about the opportunity and being back at the school made me feel odd.

While I was there I felt that I had unlimited possibility and potential. I've always felt that I haven't lived up to either - that I'm not as intentional as I would want to be, that I haven't achieved the things I could have achieved (and those that I have have come too easily or by happenstance rather than any great skill or accomplishment of my own), and that I'm not the person that my 14-, 15-, 16- and 17-year-old self could have been.

As I said, bittersweet.

25.9.08

Can't stand the pace

I've blogged before about how going fast isn't always the best thing for life. I've also blogged about some of my health issues. One of my goals this year is to practice ECAM (Energy Conservation and Management) to try to bring my health closer to "normal".

Usually, I'm pretty good about getting to bed around 9pm, giving me 7-8 hours sleep per night. However, every now and then things conspire against me. Sunday night was the Emmy's - 11pm bedtime. I'm just starting to recover, but tonight I have a work event that will get me home around 9:30, so figure bed by around 10pm. Saturday I'm out all day. That leaves Sunday in which to go slow and recoup my strength.

Independent schools are notorious for their evening and weekend commitments and the fall is the worst time. Over the next few weekends we have Upper School Open House, Alumni Day and an Admissions Open House. There's the possibility of an Athletics Open House. And at night there's a New Parents Reception and a Middle School Open House (the Lower School Open House was last week). Luckily, I don't have to attend all of them! Still, for those of us with health issues or needing to conserve energy for some reason (or just have a life), it becomes more and more difficult.

Don't expect me to move out of bed on Sundays is all I can say.

22.9.08

Where would you like to live?

Going through some of the backlog in my "to be blogged" file, I came across this article talking about imaginary worlds that have captured our imagination. Not mentioned are the worlds Rick Riordan and Scott Mebus have created, those of the "almost real" places and people.

So, where would you want to live? Narnia? Middle Earth? The Londons of Un Lun Dun or Neverwhere? Heidi's Alp? Somewhere, sometime else?

Notable Quotes

I forget sometimes that I'm kinda old. Maybe because I'm kinda old. A friend of mine - maybe she's in her early fifties - asked me recently what I though middle-aged was. I answered, without giving it a moment's thought, "However old my parents are." That's great news for everyone but Social Security, since it means we'll all be living to 130.
Judybat, She Said, She Said

20.9.08

Time to panic

Only 94 shopping days until Christmas! For "confused elves", I point you to my gift list and book lists. Good luck finding something for your special someone.

19.9.08

Links Galore

16.9.08

Imponderables

On occasion I listen to 1010wins while driving. For those of you outside the Greater NY area, it's a news station that does traffic and weather "on the 1s", which is helpful if you're driving and need to know which roads are jammed.

I've noticed that they're now touting themselves at being in HD. Think about it: High Definition. For a radio station.

15.9.08

Blurred lines

I've just finished a book, The Acadians: A people's story of exile and triumph. It's an account of la grande derangement, aka the 1755 expulsion of the Acadians from Canada by the British.

Part of the problem I had with the book is that it purports to be unbiased non-fiction. Yet in so many little ways, it is biased. Words like "tragically" and "unfortunate" fill the text, and let's not discuss how the author describes the British governors. Since there's nothing in the author's biography (in the book) to indicate his Acadian roots, it seems that he's choosing sides in this story, one that is horrific enough without his help. If you're intimately involved with the story/events, I expect a little bias, but here? Could have been done without. To be honest, a blank statement of fact would have been far worse than how the sensationalisation.

The other blurred line is the one between genocide (which Jobb calls the expulsion) and diaspora. Where does one become the other?

Years ago a friend and I argued over the slave trade. He claimed it was a genocide, I said it wasn't. The definition of genocide is "the destruction of a nation or of an ethnic group' and implies the existence of a coordinated plan, aimed at total extermination, to be put into effect against individuals chosen as victims purely, simply and exclusively because they are members of the target group." Ugly as this sounds, it was bad economics for the slave traders to lose cargo during the Middle Passage.

However, in this case, the two terms do apply. The British did try to exterminate the group, to eradicate their culture, because of their refusal to swear a loyalty oath to the King that included the bearing of arms against the French or local Indians. It started as a diaspora, but the decision to burn down the houses, split up families and leave survivors to starve turns it into a genocide. The blur is between intent and extent. Even the most charitable reader knows that the deaths of the exiles weren't planned, but weren't mourned either.

I've been working with our 9th grade history classes as they start their research careers, talking to them about identifying the bias in books, articles and websites. I wonder if they'd pick up on the subtlties here.

Notable Quotes

What happened in your childhood or another life informs patterns in your current reality. It is essential to whole living that you source the cause of your pain, your hang ups, your neurosis. But sooner or later, you’ve simply got to get over using yesterday to explain today’s behavior.

14.9.08

Within my comfort zone

I juggled the decision to join Facebook and have largely been pleased with the results. Several people from my college past have "friended" me, people I really hadn't thought about much since the mid/late 1980s. It feels good, albeit a little weird, to be back in touch.

Some people use far more of FB's capabilities than I, sending banners and bumper stickers and hatching eggs and playing games. Partly because many of my friends are former students (or current colleagues), that's outside my comfort zone and I ignore those requests and enticements. For me, writing on walls and sending messages and seeing pictures and learning about events is just about right.

Last July (2007, not 2008) I joined GoodReads, mostly as a way to catalog Mt. Bookpile. Since joining, I've read 204 books (number 205 is about halfway done), including the Summer Reading Challenge. GoodReads is also a social networking site, and one friend enticed me to join a group she'd started. I've posted a few times there, but really - the average day's digest of posts is well above what I can keep up with, and the posts are usually very far off the topic of books. Keeping abreast of all those conversations is just a little beyond my comfort zone.

I compare that with my initial involvement with The Readers Vine, a social networking site before the term became fashionable. I was younger, less overworked, and less burned out on the whole "social" thing than I am now. I posted in many different areas and made some good friends (Hi Aravis, Cam, Kar, Coco, Jandys and Shree, to name only the ones that have blogs/websites). After TRV shut down, a hardy bunch have migrated thither and yon as The Readers Place.

No, TRP is not as lively as GR. I wish it were, but there you go. I'd probably follow the conversations there, and participate more, because these people are within my comfort zone.

In this year of decluttering my physical and emotional life, finding and staying within my comfort zone is what it's all about.**











**all right, so maybe the hokey pokey is what it's all about. this comes second, ok?

8.9.08

Notable Quotes

'It's like a good filing system always has a Miscellaneous section,' Alban said. 'It's not a failure to have some things that can't be filed in exactly the right file, it's just acknowledging something about how things work in the real world. That's what Miscellaneous is for and the alternative isn't more accuracy, it's less, because you end up overstretching definitions or creating a fresh file for every single thing, each unit, and that's not filing, that's naming. Miscellaneous is the definition that makes sense of all the others. In the same way, a litter bin is the heart of tidiness.'

6.9.08

Imponderables

Seen on local election signs around town:
Illegal Immigration is Illegal (duh. the word "illegal" in "illegal immigration" tipped me off)
Stalking is Illegal (didn't know it was an issue in my neck of the woods)

I think I know who's behind the signs, but I have no idea if I'll vote for him. These signs don't sway me in his direction.

4.9.08

Overheard at MPOW

  • What's the opposite of backhanded compliment? Forehanded insult?
  • I wasn't sitting with intent to socialize.

3.9.08

Book Buzz Meme

Saw this at So Many Books and just had to play along:
I am going to list three categories of books. 3 MUST Read Books, 3 Keep Your Eyes on These, and 3 Look For These Soon. Keeping with the theme, I am going to tag at least 3 bloggers. They should put these same lists on their blog but SUBTRACT one book from each list and ADD one of their own. Then they should tag at least 3 more bloggers. It will be fun to see how the lists change as they go around the blogosphere. Please come back to this post and leave a comment so I can see how the lists are changing. Since this is Book Buzz…please keep your lists to titles released in 2007-2009.



Here are my selections
(stars are next to my additions):



3 MUST Read Books:

The Book of Lost Things by John Connolly

* Consumption by Kevin Patterson

Goldberg: Variations by Gabriel Josipovici



3 Keep Your Eyes on These:

*The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
Friend of the Devil by Peter Robinson

Wild Nights! Stories About the Last Days of Poe, Dickinson, Twain, James, and Hemingway by Joyce Carol Oates



3 Look For These Soon:

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

Private Patient by P.D. James

* Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

Tags? Nope. Those of you who read can grab this and run with it.

2.9.08

Movie Madness

In addition to reading all those books, I've been on a real "clear out the Netflix queue" kick. Since Memorial Day, I've seen the following, loosely organized into recommendations:

Run:
2 Days in Paris
A Dance to the Music of Time
Hellboy II
Into Great Silence
La Vie en Rose
My Best Friend
Paris, Je T'aime
Songcatcher
The Way We Live Now

Walk:
Big Love: Season 2
Dark Knight
Fierce People
Neverwhere
Pierrepoint
Shoot 'Em Up
Snow Cake
This Is England
The Valet

Saunter:
Atonement
The Hottest State
Jindabyne
Miss Potter
Starting Out in the Evening
True Colors

Stay put:
Bed of Roses
Before the Devil Knows You're Dead
Georgia Rule
Grand Prix
L'iceberg
In the Land of Women
Private Property
Show Business: The Road to Broadway
Stardust
The Tracey Fragments

UNCLE!

The Great Summer Reading Challenge is over: 83 books read between Memorial Day and Labor Day. Sadly, 19 books remain unread.

Which books didn't make the cut?

Three annotated books: Alice, the Wizard of Oz, and Anne of Green Gables. The Victorian Fairy Tale Book and Beyond the Looking Glass. Several books of poetry (as I said to our Head of English last week, I just cannot seem to get into reading poetry as a novel; some can, but even Send Bygraves stumped me). Peter and the Starcatchers, Day of Tears, Grail Prince and The Children of Hurin round out the unread.

I'm now going to start on some nice, dark, dangerous mysteries to cleanse my palate. After that, we'll see.